Tellus and Sol
Have you ever wondered why Endymion, the prince of Earth, was protected by the sun?
It happened long ago, over one thousand five hundred years before the end of the Silver Millennium, during the Bronze Age of Greece…
The late afternoon sun started to set on the city of Athens, its light stretching through the streets and casting long shadows as the day faded into twilight. While certain sections of the city started to liven, their patrons stumbling in for pleasure and intrigue, the market place slowly closed, stores securing themselves for the night as customers dwindled with the approach of the late day meal. In one such store that sold specialties from around the globe, an olive-skinned young lady waved goodbye to her brother, intent to be home in time to eat before her father arrived.
It wasn't that she particularly disliked her father, she mused as she walked the streets towards their home, but more that she disliked the direction his every conversation seemed to turn when around her – to marriage. She was fourteen, and though a number of her peers had already been promised to men, she preferred to push back such an idea as much as possible. Not that he needed her permission or even acceptance in order to betroth her; such was the luck of being born a girl. It was practically like being an animal, she sourly considered. She would much rather be a courtesan.
Her lips parted in a smile, her brown eyes looking to the cloudy, purpling sky above as her bare feet beat the path home. A hetaerae… She could own property, be the mistress of her own house. She could take part in political debates, attend symposia, even go to theater unaccompanied. The life of an educated courtesan sounded marvelous, which was why she spent hours every night studying whatever subjects she could get her hands on. Luckily for her, her brother supported this dream… even when he constantly reminded her of the downsides.
She looked back to street level, brushing her long brown hair behind her shoulders matter-of-factly. So she could never live with her clients? She would rather not have 'clients,' truth be told. And she would never have legitimate children – that was okay, so she wouldn't have children. Or make enough money that she could support them herself. She wouldn't need anyone, and could live the life of an equal to men. And if that didn't work, she would become a priestess or something. Anything to get out of marrying someone twice her age and be expected to be stuck in the household all day long, running his business for his glory.
She turned to her residential district, walking past the houses of her neighbors towards her own door, but as she passed the residence two down from her own, a heavy feeling settled in her chest. Immediately she recognized the sensation as dread, and she nearly stopped dead in her tracks. Something was wrong. Her thumb worried her fingers nervously at her side, unsure as what to do. The last time she had had this feeling, her mother was… She took a deep breath and strode forward determinedly. Nothing was wrong.
Yet as she walked forward, the feeling grew. The door in sight, goosebumps ran up and down her body and she slowed, wondering what she should do. Finally she came to a full halt, unable to move forward if she wanted to. Something had happened, something terrible. Should she find someone? Was someone… sick? She shuddered involuntarily, remembering the beautiful woman coughing violently on her bed, smiling to ease her worry.
A sound, quiet as a whisper, hit her ears like a drumbeat and she turned her head to find its source. In the shadows it was hard to see down the alleyway between houses, but she was sure that was where the noise had originated. She walked forward, squinting to see through the darkness. There were two forms leaning over something huddled on the ground – what were they looking at? Her eyes slowly adjusted to the low light and she gasped in shock. Accalia!
"Hey!" she shouted angrily, drawing attention away from her young cousin. Without thinking of the consequences for once, Fury conquering caution, she dashed down the alley towards the figures, focused only on stopping them. The two forms looked up at her but did not move, staring her down as she approached until she was only feet away. At that distance she could tell that something was seriously wrong with her cousin – her eyes were closed, blonde head lolled back unnaturally on the ground. Erimantha slowed, staring at the girl for any sign of breathing. After what felt like ages, her chest rose almost imperceptibly – she was still alive. Whatever they had done, these two would pay.
She turned her eyes on the two offenders; now that she was completely accustomed to the light she could see them clearer, and her mind reeled in shock. Their eyes were lizard-like, large and slitted as they stared at her hungrily, their tongues forking out from between thick, dried lips. One smiled. She blinked, unwilling to believe that what she saw was truth, and indeed it changed. The two were now older boys, beautiful like the statue of Apollo.
But their beauty would not save them. "What did you do?" she asked harshly, a threat in her voice that she was quite unable to follow through with. They didn't answer. "Answer me!" she demanded. One stood, staring at her, a full head taller than she. She watched him fully, but noted that the other still touched her cousin's unconscious form… but when he rose, a small orb of light followed his hand, as though emerging from Accalia's stomach. "What are you… doing?"
The two took off, running perpendicularly down the alleyways behind the homes. Whatever they had done, they were attempting to get away with it.
She could do nothing if she caught them.
She might be stopped trying to reach them.
They could do to her what they did to little Accalia.
But Erimentha was going after them.
Whatever they had taken, Accalia obviously needed, and if she didn't stop them they could come back another day and do the same to Filia, or Ghita, or any of the other Ajax children, or the children of her neighbors. Someone needed to stop them, but first, she had to know where they lived. No one else was around, so it would be her. She sprinted after them, leaping over the body of her cousin as she tore after them, her long skirt trailing behind her as her feet dug into the bare earth.
Ahead she saw them duck out of the alley on to a main street and she followed after, now picking up her skirt so she could run faster, fearing she would lose them if she tripped. The streets were empty and a scream from somewhere behind told her Accalia had been found. Perhaps the noise would attract others that could help her? As they reached the end of one street, than another, her chest burning with the effort, the hope left her completely. The buildings were getting smaller – ahead she could see the open territory outside of town. They weren't slowing down, they weren't heading home. They were running away with whatever that light had been – Accalia's light. She wouldn't let them.
Outside of town they broke from the street and ran straight into the fields. She followed, but her legs were burning, her throat aching – why weren't they slowing down? A pebble bit into the skin of the arch of her foot and she collapsed, falling to the ground in a heap. "No," she breathed tiredly, pulling herself up to her hands and knees, her hair spilling into her vision as she watched the two continue to run.
"Mother Gaia, goddess of the Earth," she prayed hopelessly and breathlessly, watching the figures recede farther and farther away, "Please, help me stop them."
The dirt rustled beside her right hand, attracting her attention away from the villains. As she watched, a thick strand of bronze snaked its way out of the ground and wrapped neatly around her wrist, snapping into place as a spiraled bracelet. Disturbed, Erimentha sat back on her knees and examined the trinket carefully, spying at either end of the accessory the symbol of Earth – a circle with a cross on top. What… what was this? The bronze bracelet glowed and she frantically tried to push it off of her, but it was stuck tight, shaped completely to the contours of her wrist. Suddenly a phrase entered her mind with such force she was unable to help herself from shouting it out loud:
"TELLUS POWER, MAKE UP!"
The bracelet unwrapped itself and disappeared around her as she felt a peculiar sensation, as though her whole body was warm and on pins and needles. The sensation wasn't altogether unpleasant, but was incredibly odd. When it was over she felt a change in her entire wardrobe, the entire feeling of herself. She stood, no longer feeling winded and tired, and shouted, one finger pointed at the men who had paused and looked back, as hyenas would wounded prey.
"By the grace of Gaia," she swore, glaring at the figures, "YOU WILL BE PUNISHED FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE!"
Resuming the chase, dashing after them faster than she had ever run before, closing the gap. The two had transformed again, as if she could see through a disguise. They were like lizards, their skin tough and mottled, their noses flat and eyes slit. In one of their hands she saw the orb of light that belonged to her cousin, but as soon as she took her first step, they were off and running again – also much faster than they had been moving. They had been luring her out, she realized, troubled by their clever scheme to get her alone and tired, but quickly the concern turned to anger. How many times had they done this? How many innocents like Accalia had they tricked and robbed?
And they were still getting away, even with this strange transformation she had undergone. If only she could trip them up – "SHUDDERING EARTH QUAKE!" she found herself screaming, not knowing where this phrase, like the other, had come from. Ahead of her the lizard-men fumbled and then disappeared altogether in the roar of rock-on-rock. A fissure had opened in the ground, and they had fallen – she saw them now, within the pit. She had caught them – she had somehow caught them!
But as she watched, the fissure began to close… the men still within it. "Wait!" she cried, but to no avail. The Earth slammed shut, swallowing them whole, crushing them between layers of rocks.
She froze, arm still outstretched toward the bare expanse of ground that the men had once stood over, now crushed beneath. She… killed them. She hadn't meant to, but she did.
She had said the words, and they had died.
She fell again to her knees, this time in shock, staring into the west at the seemingly unbroken surface of the ground. The final rays of the sun suddenly struck her, peeking out under the boughs of the trees not too far in the distance and dazzling her eyes so that she had to raise her hand to block them. When the glare around her fingers lessened she looked back and saw, to her astonishment, that she was no longer alone. Where the fissure had been, there now stood a glorious, pure-white golden-horned Pegasus, staring at her with his wings outstretched magnificently.
Upon his back sat a blonde warrior with armor of gold and a long cape of bright red. He smiled down at her pleasantly, like a hero out of legend. "Helios, if you please," he said invitingly, leaning over and looking down at the winged-horse's eyes. As if it understood him, the Pegasus leaned back to stand on his back legs for a moment, then slammed down on the ground forcefully. The ground shook momentarily, and from the Earth leaked black smoke and something blue and shining – Acallia's orb!
"Make sure you catch it!" another male voice replied, and the Pegasus turned back to look at his rider. Was it the animal? Had the animal just spoken?
"Like I'd miss!" the man laughed, reaching out and easily grasping the blue orb as it snaked skyward.
What was going on?