Aries & Alec
Greece, Kos, 1942
Metal cylinders fell and tore apart the British city of London, soldiers stood in murky battlefields and blew one another's brains out, and Hitler planned his conquest of the world. Amongst all these violent acts of the 1940's new life was born and brought into this world, one life in particular had so much expectation that it seemed unfair to place it on an unborn child.
In the clan of Kos, Greece, gargoyle mates made their way down to the round shaped underground rookery that had been built beneath the large complex of just one of Greece's temples. The chamber had been cut from the stones, shaped long ago by the gods. Thirty or so eggs lay in individual cots, spread out in rows of ten, with each egg covered in warm and soft silk-like blankets. The eggs twitching and waiting for their moment to say hello to the world.
Two gargoyles over stood one of the larger cots, the wooden curves of the cot were curled neatly and by looking at it one could clearly see the egg was of some importance. The female stroked the spotted egg gently and affectionately, a warm look on her face only a mother could possess. The male made no attempt to touch the egg - affection was reserved for females - instead he starred at it with much anticipation on his face.
The traditions of the Kos Clan were much different to that of other clans, whereas other clans grew up with the hatchlings being children of the clan, in Kos the children belonged to both the clan and also to the biological parents. It was to allow the parents chance to groom their children, teach them the importance of parenthood, while also allowing other clan members be proud of them and care for them like an extended family.
The two gargoyles that waited patiently for the egg in the grand cot to hatch were the most significant members of the entire clan; they were the leader and second-in-command. Both were dressed in bright gold armour, worthy of any Spartan warrior, while smooth strands of silk gold and lilac were thrown over their shoulders and around their waists, expressing their status as the more expensive and fine the material the higher up one was within the clan.
The leader, and the father, was a tall and lanky gargoyle with great spiralling horns that curved backwards from underneath a crop of slick black hair. His skin was a pale snow white colour, his wings with a two point tip and the inner membrane a lushes sea blue colour. His mate, his second-in-command, was a female with a beak-like face and bright white hair. Her skin was a dark navy blue colour, her wings similar to her mate's except for the inner membranes, which were white.
Each member of the clan were named after ancient Greek gods, famous Greek lords or ladies and places in Greece in order to pay tribute to the gods and importance figure heads of Greek history. Clearly, there were only so many names available and many of the clan mates shared the same name, so it was always preferable for adults to name children after deceased clan members and not name the two children of the same generation the same thing in order to prevent confusion.
Virgo glanced at her love; he caught her gaze and smiled at her, squeezing her talon tightly. Virgo returned the smile and turned her attention back to her child, the large oval shaped egg covered in purple spots was wrapped in an orange silk blanket. It once belonged to Leo's father, Aries II, and such a thing was not passed on as a mere merit of affection.
The fact Aries II gave it to the child was a symbol of prospect, one of expectation. Both Leo and Virgo had high expectations for the child, as Aries II did with Leo and as all three of them had with the hatchling. Being leader was a sort of family tradition, sons/daughters usually took over from their parent when the time was right, however it sometimes didn't work out well.
The egg suddenly fell on its side, Virgo and Leo's chest swelled with anticipation. The egg seemed to spin in a circle, the child trying its damned best to escape. A smile spread across Virgo's face as a tiny clawed hand broke through the surface of the shell, the podgy talons wiggling in reaction to the cool air. Two dainty feet kicked through and the small child burst forth from its shell, falling onto its back and starring at its parents with a confused expression.
The child was bigger than other hatchlings, not chubby, but lanky like his father. His hair and skin were white, his wing structure the same as his fathers while he shared the same beak-like appearance and straight horns as his mother. Virgo reached out towards the slightly disorientated hatchling, cooing as she took in his smooth features.
"Aww, Leo," she cooed. "He's beautiful."
Other hatchlings began the great escape from the prison that was their eggs, the sound of coos and compliments filling the air. Leo took the child off his mate and studied the child carefully. Even for a new born the young child seemed to control his disorientated mind fairly quickly and stared back at his father, looking as if he almost understood what was expected of him.
"I believe we have found the next leader of the clan," Leo beamed proudly at his mate.
Virgo smiled and looked at the perfect child in her mate's arms, "What shall we name him, my love?" she asked.
Leo stared at his son for a long time, watching the young hatchling rub his deep dark eyes. A name was an important part of naming any child, if the child truly was to become the next leader of the clan then a suitable name was necessary, a name that would strike fear into the hearts of his enemies and win the trust of his fellow clan mates.
While he was swinging towards naming the child Hades, he knew of a much more appropriate name.
"We shall name him Aries," Leo replied, "after my father and grandfather."
Virgo nodded her approval, though she herself would have rather named the child Apollo she knew not to argue with her mate and knew Aries probably suited the child more. Aries was considered a lucky name in the clan; those named after the God of War became excellent leaders and had mates more beautiful than any other.
Leo really did have high expectations for his son.
Aries III was now the older brother to twin hatchlings, Libra and Gemini. The two were six years younger than Aries, shared their mother's colouring but Leo's build. It had been eight years since Aries had been born, and even though he was the human equivalent to a four-year-old, Leo had been pushing him very hard. Leo wanted Aries to be the best, at any cost.
When the Second World War ended Leo began to make arrangements for Aries III's training and they started in 1947, Aries II occasionally came along to meet his grandson and offer helpful information. But even though he was only young, Aries III didn't want to be leader. Even he knew there was too much responsibility to being leader, Aries would much rather stay home with Virgo and take care of his younger sisters.
But he had no opinion in his future, Leo wouldn't listen. A loving father he maybe, Leo was a stubborn and a somewhat short tempered gargoyle who hated old traditions being challenged. "Leave things the way they are," he would say. "Gargoyles with gargess', bees collecting honey, gargoyles helping humans." And Leo would hear no more of Aries views.
Leo would not allow the future leader of the clan to be distracted, not by anything.
Distractions were terrible things, by now Aries III knew this. But how could such a young mind ignore those kinds of distractions? Why did all of the females seem to be attracted to him? He was twenty-eight (the human equivalent to a fourteen-year-old), so it was no surprise he found females intriguing. But not nearly as intriguing as his own gender.
He was, in no way, physically attracted to females. He found himself attracted to the males of his generation.
He first discovered his taste for men when he found himself yearning for the clan's young and fit combat teacher, Aphrodite - though the name was generally reserved for females, it suited the bronze-skinned teacher well. Aries knew not to talk to Leo or Virgo about his cravings for his teacher, it would only offend them, but he had to tell them eventually.
And that was his plan.
Standing outside one of the temples, Aries waited for his father to finish his meeting with the elders. If Aries did muster up the courage to tell his father he was gay he would do it the right way; respect the clan rules and not disturb his father while in a meeting. Aries would have told Virgo first, if she herself was not caught up in a meeting as well.
He even surprised himself when he found how accepting he was of his own sexuality, he assumed that at such an early age he would first try his hand at courting females, but he was so uncomfortable when holding their hand and when they went to peck his cheek he found himself recoiling. He knew it wasn't his childish boy attitude, because he had once tried kissing one of the boys in his class. He was gay; he could admit it, now he just had to get others to accept it.
The problem was Aries was afraid of telling his father. Leo was hatched in 1897, he was old fashioned to the extreme and would try his best to keep the old ways. Aries had to be aware of the consequences; would he be banished or severely beaten? He preferred the option of banishment, even though he knew he was thinking too extremely.
He was Leo's son, conceived out of love, born to lead the next generation, would Leo really hate Aries for being a little different?
The meeting ended after an hour or so and he entered the lantern lit temple when the other Elders had left. Each Greek style temple in Kos was home to the clan, they either roosted underground in carefully dug out tunnels and chambers as to roost atop the temples was considered disrespectful. It was like one believed they were better than humans, so they could be above them, and as good as the gods so they could be closer to them.
The tunnels led to different rooms, some were filled with supplies, another room was the armoury and another was the seldom used dungeon. There were many other rooms, such as the rookery, as well as a fully insulated kitchen. The chamber rooms were plain and simple, furniture was considered an unnecessary luxury.
Aries entered the temple and found Leo standing before a towering statue of Ares, Aries briefly wondered if the situation he found himself in was considered irony - him coming out to his father in the temple to the god he was named after, a god who was considered a man in every possible aspect. The aging gargoyle didn't react at first to the sound of the approaching feet, wrapped up in his own thoughts, only when Aries was only a few feet away he turned to look.
"What are you doing here, Aries?" he asked. "Shouldn't you be training with Aphrodite?"
"Well, Father, I have something important to tell you," Aries answered. "But I am afraid it may upset you."
Leo's hard face softened when he saw how afraid his son was, he gently ruffled his son's short white hair, smiling warmly. Aries looked at his father, his eyes half opened as he couldn't bear to look at his father's face and took a deep and calming breath.
"Father, I think that I-" Aries swallowed hard. "Father, I am gay."
Aries eyes tightly crunched shut, awaiting his father's reaction silently. Seconds passed in silence as Leo silently absorbed what his son had just said, the smile left his face and his face hardened as he glowered darkly. Leo let out a loud roar; Aries cringed and physically recoiled from his father. Aries opened his eyes and watched as Leo bellowed and sprouted unholy words.
"Tell me this is a joke!" Leo roared, grabbing his son by the neck. "Please tell me this is a sick, little joke!"
"I'm- I'm sorry," Aries gagged, "but it's the truth. Why is it such a problem?"
"Leave things the way they are," Leo repeated for the umpteenth time. "Gargoyles with gargess', bees collecting honey, gargoyles helping humans. What you find attractive goes against everything that's right in the world!"
Leo threw Aries to the floor and walked back and forth, the anger he felt boiled and rolled off his form and made the tension unbearable. Aries knew Leo was deciding what to do with him, so Aries sat and bowed his head to the floor, awaiting his punishment. Leo wasn't going to let Aries leave unpunished, what would be the point in running away and delaying the inevitable?
Leo stopped and turned to Aries, ordering him to stand. Aries stood as one would to a soldier of higher ranking, his arms placed by his side and straight like a good soldier. Leo reached for the knife that was strapped to his forearm, Aries remained where he was. Leo lashed out with the knife, catching the top of his left eye and slicing downwards. Blood squirted from the wound as Aries yelled in pain and clutched his wound, falling onto his backside and swearing silently.
"Let that be a warning of the pain that's to come," Leo snarled.
Aries stared at his father with his good eye, the blood dripping through his talons in single streams. Despite the agonizing pain in his left eye and despite knowing he would probably be blind in that eye, he knew that this was to be expected. He took a risk by telling Leo how he felt about his own gender, he knew there would be consequences and now he was paying for it.
If he had told Virgo he may have averted his fate, but he highly doubted it, his mother and father shared the similar beliefs.
Aries was now thirty-seven (the human equivalent to an eighteen-year-old), and as far as his father was concerned he was dead. Aries had spent the last nine years underneath the clan's temple in the dungeon, his arms chained to the brick walls. Leo had spent the years of Aries imprisonment in trying to convince his son to change his ways, for the clan's sake, but Aries had not yet broken or wielded to his father's will.
Leo had lied to his clan, telling them that Aries had abandoned the clan, unable to take over the roll of leader and often Leo would come down and tell Aries on how Aries had hurt his mother, his sisters, his grandfather and the whole of the clan. After so long the taunting had lost its sting, now it was more of niggling in the back of his mind.
Aries had quite a few scars now; three deep gouges on his chest, three identical gouges on the ride hand side of his beak. His wings were slightly torn on the edges, but they were not causing him any pain and he was certain he would glide again. Thankfully, he wasn't blind in his left eye, only partially sighted and it took him a few months to get used to the strange 20/10 vision.
Things had been quiet for the last several hours, Leo had not come to the dungeon to feed or verbally abuse Aries, and he was beginning to worry as his father checked on him every few hours. He may hate his father, but Aries had nothing against his little sisters or even his mother as she had never expressed any sort of malice towards him.
Aries wrists were blood stained and his shackles were a little too big for him, he knew that now would be the best time to escape. Twisting his wrists sharply to the left and right, his blooded wrists easily slid out of the restraints. Aries quickly made his way towards the iron door, he pressed his ear to the door and once sure no one was around he ripped the door off its hinges and threw it to the ground.
Despite the amount of noise the shriek of tearing metal made no one came to see what had been the cause of the sound, he began to panic as surely someone would have heard such a thing. Aries quickly ran down the corridors and came to a flight of wobbly stone slabs that made the stairs. He ran up the stairs, pausing by the door.
He felt a scorching heat coming off the thick metal and now he noticed how red it was on the hinges. Aries frowned, clenching his talons into fists, deciding it was best to face whatever lay beyond the door. He swung the door open, revealing all of hell...
To Be Continued...