Posted: August 4, 2011 in Family, Fiction

Even Gods needed time to consider a plan. I watched Atrum and his partner racing across the plain. They were very nearly the equal of my own Chariot. They slowed and skirted around a town, then sped up again. They ran tirelessly. The smaller man wove between obstacles like thread through a needle. The larger one seemed to be the slower of the two, but much stronger. I watched as the small one stepped between a horse and the cart it was hitched to without breaking stride. Atrum simply lept over the cart. I still hadn’t properly examined the smaller one. I made up my mind. I would appear to them.

I drifted free of my Chariot and left it to hang in the sky once more while gravity reasserted itself on me. In moments I had fallen to the earth. I arrested my fall and hung in the air a meter above the ground. Immediately, Atrum slowed to a stop. He sniffed at the air. Amazing. I hadn’t allowed them to perceive me yet. “Celeras!” The smaller one slowed, looked back.

“What is it, brother?” He slowed to a stop. Brothers? How? I suppose it didn’t matter. It did explain how these two could end up as companions.

“The thing I smelled at lunch. It’s back,” Atrum growled.

“Is it a threat?” I regarded the smaller man as he spoke. The evidence of artifice was unmistakable. Hephaestus’ finest work, if that was indeed what this Celeras was. He stood the height of an ordinary man. Compared to Atrum, he was slight of frame and less heavily muscled. Where Atrum was wild, this one’s motions were controlled and so deliberate as to be predetermined. He too lacked any sign of favor from the Gods.

“Don’t know,” the bestial one replied. His knees flexed ever so slightly and his fingers flexed. Celeras looked around.

“If you don’t know, why are you ready to kill?”

“Why aren’t you?” Atrum countered. “I don’t like being caught unaware.”

“No one does. Doesn’t mean we need to come out swinging.” For all his words, I saw Celeras’ posture shift too. Atrum snorted. I may be a God, but there was no reason to push my luck. I drifted several meters West, and then appeared to these mortals. Immediately, Atrum whipped to face my direction, growling menacingly. Celeras swiveled at the waist, and then repositioned his feet. “An apparition?”

“No,” I replied. “I am Apollo, God of – ”

“We know who Apollo is,” Atrum interrupted. He took a step forward. Did he actually mean to attack me?

“My brother speaks truth,” Celeras said. He placed a hand against Atrum’s chest. “What we do not know is why Apollo would leave his Chariot just to see us.” Atrum snorted.

“I come bearing a warning. The Gods would make a game of your travels. Your journey will soon become… perilous.”

“Why would they do this to us?” Atrum’s question was very nearly a bark. “We’ve done nothing wrong!”

“I became fascinated by the two of you and Ares became aware of my interest. He has been bored of late, and is rounding up the denizens of Olympus to make a sport of your trip.”

“So, you brought the attention of the Gods to us?” Celeras asked. His face remained blank, but his glassy eyes bore into me. He lowered his hand from his brother. “Okay, maybe we should have come out swinging.” Atrum took another step.

“I did not have to warn you.” I was confident that they could not harm me, but I summoned my bow to my hand all the same. “I would see you through to your destination safely. I am sorry that my attention has done this, but the only way to end it is to keep going. Chase the sun, as it were. I will offer whatever aid I can.”

“Why would you help us?” Atrum’s eyes narrowed to slits. “What do you want of us?”

“One would expect you to be grateful for the assistance of a God!” I may have been curious about these two, but I was losing patience for this insolent beast.

“Were it not for you spying on us, we wouldn’t need the assistance,” Celeras said. “We are ever wary of the so-called ‘free gift.’ Still, we thank you for the offer of aid.” Celeras straightened. “Come, Atrum. We best be off if we wish to outrun the sun.” The smaller man leaned forward and broke into a run. The wolf followed suit. They blew past with such speed that wind swirled my hair. I was unsure that I should aid them. They were insolent, never once showing the proper respect for me. I clutched my bow, briefly considering putting an end to this whole mess. I soared back to my Chariot as I imagined launching a comet into the duo, scattering their remains for kilometers.

“And where have you been?” I snapped out of my vicious reverie. Ares was sitting on my Chariot. “You didn’t spoil my fun, did you?” He examined his clawed nails. He bit something off and spit it to the earth.

“Your… fun… is unharmed.”

“Good. Otherwise I’d have to find a new game to play.” Ares gave me a dark look. My mind was made up. I would still help those insolent mortals, if only to see Ares beaten.


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