Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Brothers Tuerl & The Staffs of Zeus - 8

Chapter 8-Alecto’s Adventure
Irgen and Idus stared with rapt attention as their mother’s excitement began to build in anticipation for the tales of the brothers.  Finally she took a deep breath, and they plunged expectantly into the first tale.
“Now Alecto was the oldest and most intellectually astute of all the brothers, although he was by no means only a book worm, he was just as strong and capable as any of the other brothers.  He had the same characteristically deep sea blue eyes that you, Idus have, and he had long flowing black hair, which shimmered tantalizingly in the strong Greek sun.  He had a strong, youthful muscular build, and everyone in Mycenae referred to him as a strapping lad.  And he was said by some to be Narcissus’ rival for the most handsome man in all of Greece.
Now as soon as Alecto left his father’s palace in Mycenae, he got on a narrow, cart-sized cobblestone road which he knew traveled east toward Athens.  After traveling along the road for a time he noticed the road start to bend in a southerly direction and since darkness was beginning to cover the earth.  He stopped and began to wonder if he should continue along the road to Athens or make off into a small thicket of trees that sat alongside the road.  He thought to himself that surely Athens was not the goal he was seeking, and as much as he would love to see the city, unless there was some gargantuan beast at loose terrorizing the city that he didn’t know about, he knew his quest did not call for him to enter Athens.  But in the corner of his mind the thought lingered that he did not have any real clue as to where he was going, and going towards Athens might give him the start he was looking for.
After sitting down and pondering for a while, he decided the decision could wait until morning.  So he made himself a shelter out of branches and leaves from the surrounding clump of trees.  And then just as he determined to lie down and go to sleep, he decided to take out his father’s blade.  He had not; on first receiving it, examined it.  But now he pulled it out of the handcrafted leather sheath his father had built for it, and with bated breath he carefully perused the astonishing craftsmanship of the heroic blade.
The sword was a beautiful blade indeed.  It stood a little shorter than three feet in length, bound by a firm leather wrapped hilt.  Truly it was shaped in a half crescent moon shape.  But it seemed to bend only slightly, as though the bend was only to give it a significant shape.  Its make was of such, that try as he might, Alecto could find no defects in the blade.  It was smooth and sharp all around the curve of the blade.  And now as he looked at it closer through the brilliant shine of the moonlight.  He noticed ancient inscriptions which gracefully lined the deadly blade.  He looked closely at them and found he could read what was written.  The inscriptions, it seemed, were of an ancient war chant which he had never heard the likes of before.
He stared at it dumbfounded, and he noticed that the words seemed to be carved for his use alone.  The words themselves seemed to delve deeply into the problem before him.  Suddenly he felt a profound desire rise in his breast to begin the war chant.  He felt himself elevated from the earth, and he began to dance as though building up frenzy for battle.  As he continued it seemed as though the sword had a life of its own.  It flickered and whipped through the air before him, as though it knew what to do in this dance.  Then suddenly his clear piercing voice smote the air around him.
Gods of the wonderful Greek land,
Hear the plea of a small mortal man.
You favored my father in his quest for grace,
Now answer my call and help me win my race.
Show me the path, whither I should go,
And purify my heart and willful soul.
Now I petition thee again, the gods of my land.
Not just Zeus but all who might lend a hand.
For now in this cold, bitter moonlight,
My blade itches to avenge a small oversight.
He halted breathing heavily.  He looked impatiently at the stars as though expecting something.  Indeed his panting body was filled with anticipation for some long awaited event.  He did not know what he had just done, but in uttering those words it had seemed as though he was speaking in the presence of gods.  He stood rigid for a few agonizing minutes and still nothing happened.  Finally he sighed in resignation and lay down to sleep.
He awoke in the morning to the touch of a withered hand belonging to an elderly man shaking him awake.  He sat up with a start not knowing what to do.  He was not usually this heavy of a sleeper, and it seemed as though the events from the previous night had cast some sort of deep spell of weariness over him.  He looked up groggily at the old man only to discover that he had picked up his blade and was examining it closely.
“This is a nice blade sonny.”  Came the croaking voice.  “But I fear it will not be enough to save you from the perils you will face.”  He turned to look at him, and suddenly he felt his strength returning to his body.  He got up and looked inquisitively at the old man.
The man was short, with a frayed gray beard dangling over his stooping figure.  He had a small cane in his weak brittle hands.  His tattered clothes dangled from his old withered body.  The only youthful quality left in this old man were the two effervescent pale blue eyes which drew and held Alecto’s gaze.
“May I ask, who are you to see the future?”  Came Alecto’s polite clear voice.
“Who am I…?  Hehehe” Came the croaking voice, and as he said this, his mouth opened wide in what he considered a smile, but since there was only one tooth in the mouth it looked more like a painful grimace to Alecto.  “I am no one special, only a poor old man wanting company on a cold morning.”  The old man looked hopefully at Alecto.
Alecto looked at the old man inquisitively before replying with a sigh.  “Good, I would gladly allow you to accompany me if you would only give me some advice.  For I cannot make up my mind on an important matter.  You are undoubtedly wise, old man.  Your experience could bring welcome advice indeed.  Perhaps you could help me.”  He once again paused and his face became red from embarrassment.
“Oh don’t be ashamed my young friend.  It takes true courage to ask for advice.  And wisdom-to seek advice from an old man.”  He gave him a commending look before continuing.
“And I already know the answer to your question.  You should not do either of what you are thinking of doing.”  His mystical answer stunned Alecto.
“But what do you mean?”  He asked.
“Well it’s obvious isn’t it?”  The old man gave Alecto a playful look as he smirked through his grizzled old beard.
“No, I’m afraid I don’t understand.”  Alecto muttered silently.
“Well the answer is you shouldn’t go to Athens and you shouldn’t leave the road.  You should stay with me.”  Once again bewilderment rose in Alecto’s deep eyes.  That this man could know what his problem was astounded Alecto.  It seemed to Alecto that those pale blue eyes peered deep into the very fiber of Alecto’s being.  As though the man could know more about a person from just one quick glance, than that person would ever know about themselves.
Alecto glanced back at the old man and something about his appearance jogged an old memory of his.  He remembered something his mother had told him about how sometimes gods would disguise themselves in an attempt to test a person.  Could this old decrepit man truly be a god though?  Alecto decided there was only one way to find out.
“My all knowing friend, forgive me, but I do not believe I ever heard your name.  I would tell you mine, but I have a strange feeling that you already know it.”
The stranger laughed, but it was an uneasy laugh as though he realized something had changed in Alecto’s behavior.
“Is your father well my boy?  It has been a long time since I have had the honor of seeing the man.  We were friends back in the-”
“-I am sorry my friend but up till now I have never had the honor of meeting you, and my father is quite benevolent in showing us his acquaintances.”  His eyes glittered as he looked at the stranger with an all knowing eye.
The stranger took a feeble step forward.  “You are right; I last met your father long before you were born.  Quite a man he is, and I am glad to see the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree…If it fell away at all?”  He once again gave a grimaced grin before continuing- “He was always suspicious of me, and probably for good reason.  I was there the day he met your mother…”
“You mean the day he saved my mother from being sacrificed!”  Came Alecto’s ever more suspicious retort.
“Yes, yes, you may refer to it as that, but I always knew he would save her in the end.  And your pop didn’t let me down now did he my boy?”
“No he didn’t” Alecto murmured before giving the old man a long quizzical look, “Who are you sir?  You speak much of what you know, but little of who you are.  If you truly knew my father as well as you say, why would you be embarrassed to tell me?”
“Hmmph, you are wise my boy.  I have great reason to be embarrassed around you, because I come to help you help me.  You see our lives have been magically interwoven for many years.  Such deep magic cannot be lightly undone.  You see it was I who created a need for that sword you have there.” He pointed to the glittering blade, “It was I who nearly ended your mother’s life and in so doing your own, and it is I who come seeking help from you this day.”
Alecto gasped, could it truly be the god who created his father’s fame-“Pose—id--on!!!” He stammered.
The old man nodded his head.  “You are much cleverer than most humans, Alecto.  You will need your intellect in the time to come.”  A great blue light appeared around the old man blinding Alecto.  The very light which surrounded him burned a picture into Alecto’s eyes.  He fell back, stunned as a new formidably domineering figure materialized before him.
“You are right, Alecto, I am Poseidon, and I am answering your call!”
The old man’s figure had been transformed into the tall magnificent Poseidon, the god of the sea, who stood before him.  He was clothed in a majestic green robe which opened into his bared, strong, hairy chest.  In his right hand he held a large golden trident.  His eyes seemed to radiate wisdom from their pale blue depths.  His large prominent chin jutted out from his old face; however, it was a face coated like honey on honeycomb with wisdom.  The plump round cheeks gave a happy and jovial appearance, and he had long black hair braided and falling like waterfalls behind his face.  Here was Poseidon, brother of Zeus, and god of the Sea.
“You are fortunate to be of godly lineage, my young friend.  Few mortals indeed can say they have seen a god and lived to tell the tale.  But now that you have seen me, you must undertake the mission I am about to give you.”  His croaking voice was gone and was now replaced with a strong echoing voice which could only inspire awe in a person.  He looked with those searching eyes deep into Alecto.
“Time is short; otherwise I may have attempted to appear more gradually to you.  You see last week my son Halirrhothius was brutally slain by Ares when he caught him assaulting one of his daughters.  Now I am making Ares stand trial for this unjustified murder of my son.”
“You should know best after your father’s tale with Medusa that the gods have trouble remaining with only one lover.  Most of all Ares, who, it seems, is always eloping with one mortal woman after another, and he should know best not to bring railing accusations against someone else for such an act, the god is bloodthirsty, but I fear the law cannot stop him.  I know I cannot avenge my son, for I must speak in accusation of Ares at the trial today, but because of this the goddesses will outnumber the gods by one, and Ares, who is sure to appeal to his fatherly right to protect his daughter will ultimately win the day by swaying the goddesses to his side.”’
“So now I appeal to you Alecto, the cleverest of all the sons of Perseus.  I need to avenge my son’s death, but ironically, I being a god am powerless to do so.  But you Alecto, being descended from Zeus himself can bring lawful vengeance in my stead.  In return for this service, I offer you a gift which I have never given to any man or god on earth before you.  I offer you the power to control water-the power to make the very seas obey you.  Truly this would carve a name for you in history, but…”  Poseidon’s warning voice rang out. “Do not take this gift lightly.  Control of the sea is terrifyingly difficult, and without care it may only result in heartache, only your family and those whom you trust may know of it.  For no mortal man can truly appreciate this power and very few gods would agree with my malicious tactics.”  Alecto nodded hesitantly, surely such a gift was what he had set out to find, but would the quest he was about to undertake be too difficult for him?  He hesitated before the thought came to him that there weren’t any gains without pains.  So he nodded in agreement.
“So Alecto the quest I am to give you must be completed today, by the time Helios’ chariots cross the mountains in the western sky, otherwise you will most certainly be caught and more than likely die a horrible and gruesome death.”  His face contorted into a grimace before giving Alecto his final instructions.
“Now Ares has two sons: Deimos and Phobos.  They follow him everywhere he goes in battle.  However, today they will be separated from him, for they are not allowed to witness the trial before the gods, which is to take place.  And although it is a somber and sad time for me, it is also the perfect time to exact my revenge.  Now my boy, as soon as my chariot arrives we need to be off.  I will take you to the outskirts of Sparta where Ares has built himself a secretive residence.  There is only one entrance to his guarded abode.  But this temple of his is not guarded by mere puny warriors.  Instead it is guarded by his wrathful sons.  I give you my warning Alecto, that there is a reason they are named Fear and Terror.  Do not go about in the usual rash manner of a demi-god.  You must be prudent and not forsake your own safety.  The task I am about to give you may not seem difficult.  But if I know my nephew, I know it will prove to be a monumental labor.  What I want you to do is slip unnoticed into the temple and steal a certain staff Ares keeps in his possession.
Now this staff is not very ornate.  Indeed it would not be remarkable at all, except for the fact that it is made out of rare sea wood, which makes it glitter blue, and it has a large reflective black stone crowning the top of it.  It is a staff I hand-crafted many years ago, and the one which I gave to my son.
When he was killed, Ares took it to mark his victory.  Naturally I could go and-beg him to give back such a token…But such an act would not befit a god of my status nor of my situation.  So instead I send you.  Do not disappoint me Alecto.  Consider this payment for the sacrifice your father stole from me those many years ago.”  And with that the great god whistled and a large sky blue chariot carried by four enormous dolphins came floating through the sky. 

“Now let’s be off, Alecto.  We have many miles to go and we need to be there before Ares departs for the tribunal.”  Poseidon forcefully grabbed Alecto and leaped onto the carriage before it even touched the ground, and then they were off, soaring through the skies toward Sparta and towards Alecto’s destiny.

Chapter 7                 Chapter 9

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