disclaimer: All of the characters are mine except Apollo and Diana.
Thanks to blackpen and AphroditeIncarnate for reviewing!
A/N: Read and Review! I might even write you a little message if I think of anything to say, lol.
Chapter 3-Amicus sum
The nymph woke up, her eyes full of golden sunlight shining brightly through the trees and onto her pale skin. She lifted up a hand to shade her eyes.
Go away, wretched, piercing sunlight, she thought. The light seemed brighter than usual, but then again, it was morning. Everything seemed brighter than usual in the morning. She groaned, wishing she didn't have to get up.
Suddenly, she heard a stick crunch. She sat up immediately and squinted, still sleepy, into the woods. She then saw a blurred form of Celandia approaching in the distance, and her whole being filled with dread.
"Adara!" her irritated, sunshine-y voice called. "Adara, is that you?"
Adara groaned. Their meeting was inevitable.
"Here I am," she said tiredly.
"It's about time you got up," Celandia said, finally reaching her. "Come on, you are going to be late."
"Late for what?" she said with a yawn, rubbing her eyes sleepily and standing up.
Celandia blinked, incredulity building. "For what? I can't believe you! Diana is coming to hunt with us today! This is a very rare event!"
"Oh," Adara said, stretching.
"Is that all you can say??! 'Oh'??!!! Adara, this is our goddess! She won't--"
"I don't feel all that well, Celandia," she said, rubbing her temples, "I actually have a headache. I'm in no position to meet a goddess today."
"You're insane. Absolutely insane! She is our goddess! How can you say you aren't coming?!"
Adara kept her mouth shut and kept her thoughts to herself. Eventually, when Celandia saw that she was not going to get a response, she sighed.
"Well, Diana is going to know you're not there."
"She can't even remember my name."
"That was twelve years ago, when you were only two. I'm sure she knows who you are by now."
"She knew your name."
"That's beside the point."
"Celandia, please, I'm not feeling well," she stressed, burrowing her hands into her temples in an attempt to get the point across that she had a headache. "I'm sure any excuse will do, if the one I am giving you is not sufficient."
"But, Adara, I won't—I can't!—lie to a goddess."
Adara looked Celandia coldly in the eye, but said nothing.
"Why don't you just come? You're always by yourself, secluding yourself from the rest of us, ever since—" Celandia paused for a moment, considering whether she should bring it up again. She decided not to. "You just have to move on. Why don't you try to have some fun and forget about it, instead of dwelling on it every day?"
Adara continued to give her a cold eye. Celandia sighed.
"Alright, but I'm telling you, you're really missing out."
Celandia then disappeared into the forest, and Adara watched her go. Adara sighed, and headed in the opposite direction.
Obviously, the first reason she did not go was because she wanted to have nothing to do with the gods. Meeting Diana was not on her top priority list.
Yet, there was more to it. What Celandia said was true: she had been secluding herself. Why? Because she felt as though the others were blind to the iniquities of the gods. If the gods couldn't be pure, couldn't even follow their own laws, why should she humble herself before them? Why should she watch others humble themselves before them, and become sickened by it?
She had not gone to worship or sacrifice with the others ever since the laurel tree incident a year ago, nor had she attempted to make any type of contrition for it. Yet, the gods were everywhere, and that was punishment enough. She refused to succumb to them. How could she fall to their feet in praise after what they had done to Daphne? To her parents?
Her parents. That was something she had not thought of in a long time. She didn't even remember exactly what happened to them, just that one day a cloaked man came to her parents, and her parents went with him, and they never came back. She was told by Diana when she was two that they had disobeyed the gods. Being two, she accepted it. Yet, she never found out what their crime had been. It was probably the same one she was committing, now that she thought of it. It made sense. To prevent the corruption of the child, the corrupt parents were taken away. Yet, it couldn't--and didn't--stop Fate. Nothing can.
Daphne had been her best friend, aside from Celandia. The three of them had been very close. Before the incident with Apollo, Adara had dreamed of becoming a perpetual virgin, as Diana had done, as Daphne had recently succeeded in attaining from Peneus. Now, Adara wasn't even sure she wanted to live with the other nymphs. She wasn't even sure she wanted to be friends with Celandia. She was just unsure about everything.
The other nymphs sickened her, and it pained her heart because they had been, her whole life, her friends. She felt completely disconnected from them. It was a wretched feeling. Because of this, whenever they went hunting, she went and sat by the river or the laurel tree, alone. She knew she could not go on like this.
She had to get out of here.
But where will I go? she thought. She sighed, and continued walking down the usual gnarled path to her destination.
"Remember, Phoebus," Diana said, garbed extra-splendidly today to impress the little nymphs, "don't lose your head."
"I should hope not," he replied, shouldering his bow and quiver of arrows. "A head is a very bad thing to lose."
Diana didn't laugh as her brother did at his own joke. She couldn't help but think that already this was not a good idea, but it was too late to say no. She figured that since the nymph would be with her (whatever her name was, she could never remember) on the hunting trip, she would be able to keep an eye on her and more importantly, on her dear brother.
"Well, good luck," she said, sighing and heading off into the woods with great speed and agility.
Apollo watched her, but only subconsciously. He was too busy thinking about that nameless nymph he would meet today. He then headed into the dark woods.
Adara sat under the shade of the laurel tree.
"I hate being alone," she said, familiar tears stinging her eyes. She wiped them off spitefully, but did not refrain from hiding how she felt. She had done that for too long.
She recalled the last meeting she had with Diana. It was so odd that she had to tell Diana her name. She was a goddess, and so she should have known. She had known everyone else's. It was odd. It was as if she had been excluded from all the things her friends were included in. She, as of late, had begun to see that all the wishes and desires she had had really weren't her own. They were her friends' and Diana's. They were all her puppets. That was not what she wanted. But what did she want, then? What was she looking for? There was nothing left to offer her.
"The Fates are so cruel," she said painfully, bitterly. "They could have chosen me to die young, or chosen me to be included, but instead, they have chosen a long, painful, sorrowful life for me. It seems all nonsensical. What is the point of giving me a painful life, while giving other gods blessed lives? What unlucky star was I forced to be born under? Oh!"
She cried non-stop, letting the tears fall and heal her inside. She hated feeling self-pity. Yet, she couldn't help but think that nothing mattered, that she should be able to get away with murder if she desired, since the gods did. But then the childish gods above would want revenge on her. Everything was being run on a system without justice.
Why should the gods desire revenge on me? she wondered. Aren't they all-powerful? Why would they need to carry out vengeance on mortals? Or on other gods? What's their point?
Suddenly, she heard a stick crunch. It surprised her so much, she fell backwards, even though she was already on the ground.
"Who's there?" she said, her heart racing.
She saw a man appear from around the other side of the tree. His build was powerful, which was supplemented with the bow and quiver slung over his shoulders. He also had a dagger sheathed on a leather belt around his waist. He had on animal skins, too. A hunter?
"Um," she said, embarrassedly wiping away the tears and pushing away the tangled hair that were veiling her face (how she wished that she could find her headband again!), "who are you?"
"Amicus sum," he said. He offered a hand to help her up, which in her embarrassment, she took.
"Why were you crying, nympha?"
"Oh," she said, blushing, "I.. really don't want to say, it's.. private."
Great. Now you sound as needy as you look. Say something else.
"--But I'm perfectly capable of handling it myself, thank you."
Now you sound rude.
"--But I could use company."
He laughed. She frowned.
"Excuse me," Adara said, putting her hands on her hips.
He stopped laughing. "I'm sorry, but I think you need to calm down a bit. I couldn't help but overhear how you hated being alone."
"Oh, well... I... it's rude to listen in on other people."
"I tried not to, but—forgive me—you were so loud."
Adara looked into his seemingly kind eyes that she could not trust, but wished she could. She suddenly felt tears coming to her own. She tried to hold them back, but she couldn't. She burst into tears, and covered her face in shame with her hands.
"Here, let me--"
"No!" she cried, taking a few steps back from his extended hand, then taking flight. "Get away from me, just leave me be!"
It was too late. She was gone from sight. The man sighed, putting his extended hand gently to his heart.
Suddenly, a red-haired man, heavily armed, came up behind him.
"Excuse me, have you seen a nymph? Blue-white tunic, brown hair with golden highlights like the sun--"
"Eyes wet like the ocean? Yes."
The red-haired man's eyes beamed. "Which way did she go?"
"I don't think she wanted company," he said, starting to walk off.
"Come now, you must tell me," the red-haired man said, following.
"Why?" he said, turning around and boring his eyes right into him, his already powerful look looking more powerful than before.
"Uh..." he snapped out of his intimidation and tried to look taller than he was, which was not nearly as tall as this man was. "Because I am the sun-god, Apollo."
The man continued to glare at him. This was unusual. He was defying him. Apollo tried again.
"Did you hear what I just said? I am—"
"And I am—"
"A god? If you say so."
Apollo couldn't respond.
"She went into the woods," the powerful man said. "Now, if you'll excuse me--"
"This is no way to treat a god! You--"
The man gave him the most piercing glare. "I know exactly where she is, but you should not disturb her now. But I'll tell you what," he said, his eyes softening a little. "If you come to the river in three days at dawn and pick three white lilies and a red-black rose with thorns, you will see her, and you will be able to help her."
Apollo frowned. He was the god with the oracle; who was this random man to prophesy?
"Who are you?"
The man's eyes softened once more. "Amicus sum, Apollo. We'll meet again, and soon."
The man then bowed to Apollo out of respect, and then headed off into the woods.
Apollo stood there, under the laurel tree, completely speechless and confused, his brow furrowed in confusion. He leaned against the tree in thought, occasionally looking into the woods to the place where the man had departed.
"Three days at dawn, three lilies and a black-red rose?" Apollo mumbled to himself, stroking his smooth and beardless chin. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to try."
He then ceased to lean on his tree, and, still in thought, made his way out of the woods. He would not meet his little nymph today.
amicus sum: I am a friend
It just occurred to me that I never translated the title of the story for you: Formosa Nympha: Beautiful Nymph. (shrug) I didn't have a cool enough name, so I thought, "hey, 'omnia dicta fortior si dicta Latine'" (all is said stronger if said in Latin), and therfore I have a lame title in a cool language. If I come up with a cooler name, I'll change it. Read and Review!