auton'omy n. The right of self-government.
Zeus's Temple, Olympus:
*Dead! He's really dead!*
The slender figure clasped the pillar he hid behind, trembling. Disbelief and joy and fear mixing into an overwhelming maelstrom of emotion, he slid to his knees. The temple shook and he realised it was the structure, not just himself.
Thoughts tumbled through his mind like rapids over a waterfall.
*Think, think - you prepared for this, fuck up now you're not just dead, you're worse than dead*
He scrambled to his feet and fled, almost sliding across the elegant marble floor to the nearest doorway. The temple shuddered again and he ran for his secret hiding place - through his master's receiving room, through the personal quarters...
*Gods, how soon? A while, a while, they'll still be stunned. I'll be an afterthought - they'll think I'm trapped...*
Through the sleeping room, into the bathing rooms...move the fern in front of the tile of a green nymph on a purple dolphin, pull away the tile.
*Shit, it's not coming, use the scraper, yes, that's it.*
The tile came off under desperate fingers, revealing a hole behind it. He thrust his hand in, coming back with a small but heavy bag and a bottle – delicately moulded glass with what appeared to be a pink glow.
Now for the other elements of the escape plan. He ran back to the sleeping room and crossed to the table with his master's huge jewellery casket on it. He held his hand on the lid, which unlocked once it recognised his aura. He pushed up the heavy lid with both hands, and pulled out the compartments until he reached a tray of rings. Ignoring the gem-encrusted masterpieces of gods and long-dead men, he plucked out two rings - one a simple iron band with lettering incised in it, the other a brass shank with a rock crystal, the stone carved to resemble an eye and set in a swivel mount, rather reminiscent of Egyptian work. He set them to one side, then rapidly replaced all the compartments. The less clues he left, the longer it would take them to figure out what he'd done, and the more chance he had of gaining his freedom.
He turned, facing the night couch, and was suddenly struck by the enormity of what he was doing. If he failed...oh Fates, if he failed, what would they do to him they wouldn't have done anyway? He laughed bitterly, then went to the other side of the chamber. He lifted his hand and placed it on a certain spot on the wall. A doorway shimmered into existence and he walked through into his 'private' chamber - a small white room consisting of little other than two large clothes chests, a table with a few scrolls and some wine on it, a chair and a small couch. He went to the second clothing chest, set down the items he was carrying and took out a cloak, belt, pouch, the longest tunic he had been given - which was still nowhere near decently knee-length, and some boots. All beautifully made and ornamented - he would have to find less noticeable clothing, but later for that. He quickly stripped off the flimsy silk tunic he was barely dressed in, almost wrenching the gold jewellery he was wearing from his arms, neck and ears and flung it into the chest as if it was poisoned...
*Never again! I'll never be some little toy to ornament and decorate again.*
And re-dressed. He transferred the rings and bag into the pouch on his belt, then raised the bottle and uncorked it.
*No, not here - HIS room is better shielded.*
He returned to his dead master's chamber. He drew in a deep ragged breath as the temple shuddered again, and giving himself no time to reconsider, gulped back the contents of the bottle. The thick liquid slid into his mouth and down his throat in a rush of honey and alcohol and spice and some unnameable effervescence. It tingled all the way down to his stomach, and then spread slowly throughout his body. He felt a rush of dizziness, then a strange, almost out of body experience, disconnecting him from reality.
He fixated on the deep purple spread lying on the sleeping couch, remembering. Only this morning he had been spread-eagled on that same couch as his master grunted and moaned on top of him, penetrating him for the hundred thousandth time. He could almost see them now, the powerful figure of his master, olive skin on a powerful frame, pressing his own smaller body into cool white silk, grey hair and beard leaning over the paler head, muttering in his ear,
"Ah, good boy, my sweet little boy, so hot, so tight, oh yes, fuck yes, ahhhhhh..."
He'd moaned softly back, pressing his ass into the groin above him like the dutiful little catamite he was, pleasuring his master with his body whilst his mind wondered if this would ever be over, would he ever lose the cold, now almost distant, hatred coiled in his stomach for the one who owned him body and soul. How long had it been? He'd given up counting years ago.
But he'd endured. He'd survived.
He'd learnt to accept what physical enjoyment he could from his subjugation, learnt to take what happiness he could from each day and not despair about the future, which blended into one grey identical infinity.
He gritted his teeth. There had been no choice. Death had never been an option - for more than one reason. Oblivion had often seemed a goal to be desired, but he'd never known what to do to achieve that, though he understood that psycho bitch had managed somehow. Not exactly a topic easily inserted into shallow gossip however, which was the level of conversation the majority of his master's guests considered him capable of.
The room shook again and he realised he had been standing there staring, mind wandering into paths he no longer had to walk. He became aware of a tingling afterglow that was increasing rapidly rather than fading away - he felt drunk, intoxicated with power rather than wine, giddy at the energy and life he could feel pouring into him. He laughed a real laugh for the first time in what seemed like centuries. His thoughts of survival and endurance were submerged by a wash of warmth and intense awareness - he could 'feel' the others a few rooms away, 'feel' the waves of...
*nk the god he survived thank*
*can't be dead he can't be*
*m alive gods i can't believe i'm alive*
*nally the bastard is d*
*what the hell was that? someone just became*
Panic ripped through him. A green-white light rippled out from his body and struck the sleeping couch, a bright flash, and the couch disintegrated into wafts of grey ash. He was stunned, then giggled, the sound redolent more with hysteria than amusement. There was a crash from outside the room and voices. Sanity and fear snapped back into place as comprehension of the brief snatch of thoughts sank in.
*SHIT! They felt that! They know! Oh Fates, I hope I get this right...*
He shut his eyes and concentrated, remembering
"Oh well first it'sa little tricky, y'know? Ya gotta clear your mind an’ tha's a lot harder than it sounds" insane giggle "then ya gotta thinka the place ya wanna be. Not necessarily what it looks like, but what it feels like ta ya. So if'its like one’a ya temples it ain't too hard, or one'a ya 'safe spots'. Or ya could zoom in on one'a follower's auras or someone ya know well, like the freaky foursome, which I tell ya is..."
*as calm as you can get in this situation*
*oh shit oh shit oh shut up! Think of the grove think of the grove oh shit think of the grove*
*calm water green grass warm gentle wind across my face fates how much i want to be there the grove the smell of juniper and sound of birds and the*
Concentration broken he opened his eyes. And oh thank the Fates, he was there! He sobbed in relief and disbelief, hands trembling as he opened his pouch and rolled the rings into his palm. He almost couldn't put them on his fingers he was shaking so much.
As the ring of Hephaestian iron slid on, the world contracted, and senses he hadn't realised he now had, disappeared. He gasped with the shock, it was like suddenly becoming deaf and blind and dumb in one second, except those limited mortal senses were still his. He fumbled the other ring on. Nothing seemed to change, but then he hadn't expected it to.
Still trembling, he looked around, belatedly making sure he was alone. No-one and nothing. He made his way to the small hut he'd built down beside the small lake. His master had called it 'rustic' and found it amusing in a condescending way. He had found it made him homesick and heartsick, and both dreaded and longed for the rare times he was allowed to come here. But he dared not linger, either one of them would know of the place - probably that snoopy messenger - or eventually they would find it by other means. He stripped the hut of what little food was there - preserves and nuts and wine-paste, and quickly packed the useful items he had - bedding, a couple of small clay lamps and lamp-oil, some tools, a couple of snares, fishing hooks and line, a bow, some arrowheads and a dagger. Not much, but better than nothing. He cast a quick glance around the place that had been his only refuge in the hell that had been his life and gladly walked out the door, leaving it behind.
A couple of hours later he found a road, little more than a dirt trail, but used regularly judging from the tracks. He paused, undecided as to which way to follow, when he heard the noise of a wagon coming from the right. For an instant he froze, then he deliberately relaxed himself, wiping any traces of the fear that coiled in his stomach from his face. It was something he'd many years’ practice at. He waited, and after several minutes a two-horse wagon came to view, with a horseman trailing behind. The driver of the wagon looked at him suspiciously, but there was nothing but flat summer meadows around, no place for an ambush, so he slowed the wagon as the figure beside the road hailed him.
"Hello there! Are you going to the town?"
"Yes, to Parsus."
"I'm headed that way. Any chance of a ride? I'll work in exchange."
The driver looked him over and wondered if he'd been wise to stop. The boy was at the troublesome age, say maybe 17 or so. Sandy blonde hair, guileless greeny-blue eyes, average face. Innocuous looking. But his clothes were expensive and rather ‘off’ looking, and he didn't stand like one who worked with his hands for a living. Peridides opened his mouth to refuse when the boy suddenly smiled at him. He was dazzled. The smile lifted the boy's face from the bland to the blindingly beautiful.
"Uh, uh, yeah. Sure." His mouth said, independent of his brain.
"Thanks" came the soft reply. Kerion, his guard, raised an interrogative eyebrow. Peridides shrugged sheepishly as the boy tossed his bag onto the seat beside him and leapt up.
"My name's Gan..Gandion. My friends call me Dion. And you are?"
Peridides missed the lapse in face of the smile.
"Peridides, and that's Kerion." He turned in his seat and twitched the reins to start the horses again "So Dion, what are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere?"
The wagon rolled off with its new passenger..
A Hut by a Lake, Greece, two weeks later:
The blonde placed the horn spoon back on the rough-hewn table.
"No, nothing here was used by him recently enough that it retains an imprint. Can't find him that way."
"You're just not trying hard enough!"
"Bro, we've got bigger problems than finding one cup-bearer who quit without giving notice."
Ares snarled angrily and disappeared in a cloud of little red lightening bolts that shredded the air.
Apollo smirked. Ares sure was fun when he didn't get his way. And why was he so het up on catching Pop's fucktoy anyway? Zeus was dead, so who cared? Sure, the kid had been a malicious little shit, but then with his job who wouldn't be? And if the kid had eaten ambrosia, well, all power to him, he doubted the Love Gods were going to be upset about gaining a deity for catamites. But everyone seemed hot to catch him.
Athena was upset cos she’d been outsmarted – not only had the kid been sharp enough to make himself a god so he could blip out of harm’s way, he’d also taken Pop’s Ring of Blindness with him, cunning little shit. Apollo kinda admired that. His aura would have changed when he became deified, so no-one could fix on him through knowing it, and they couldn’t spot him by the godly aura as the ring made him appear human. Pops had used it whilst seducing women so Hera couldn’t track him. The ring restricted the wearer's powers greatly, but Apollo figured the kid wasn’t really worried about that. After all, he’d survived centuries as an Immortal without any so the few he would have, just increased his chances.
They might be able to pick him up through his description however. Weren’t that many lookers like him wandering around Greece. If the kid was too scared to attract attention by using his powers, maybe all they’d have to do was check out the slave markets and brothels – real tough assignment that one. Maybe he should volunteer. Either that, or the kid would probably turn up somewhere earning his living by bending over and grabbing his ankles.
Apollo grinned. Shit, he wouldn't mind having a poke at the kid himself, after all he’d rightfully been entitled 'Most Beautiful of Mortals', huh, maybe now Most Beautiful of Gods. Apollo reconsidered. Well, One of the Most Beautiful of Gods, after himself of course. Still, silky ash blonde-white hair, those big please-drown-in-me green eyes, long dark lashes and that curved moist mouth that was just made for kissing - or fucking. He grinned at his sudden hard-on, gently fondling himself through his tunic.
Yeah, he could just see himself pistoning in and out of those perfect lips, grasping that ashen gold head to his groin. He wondered if the kid writhed much as he was being fucked. Apollo liked that in a partner. Fates, he'd kept Pops interested for centuries, so must be pretty damn amazing in the sack. Apollo realised he was now stroking himself vigorously, his hard-on insistent.
*Shit, I really need to go fuck something now.*
Maybe he'd keep looking. And if he found him?
*Well, I'm sure Ganymede will be quite happy to keep his mouth busy in order to keep my mouth not so busy.*
He laughed at the coarse joke then disappeared in a shower of gold sparks.
A Cave, Somewhen-else, Somewhere-else:
A pale long-fingered hand stroked the tapestry, trailing across the middle almost sensuously until it reached a long, long pale green thread that suddenly sparkled and widened. Fingers slid down the thread, learning it again, listening to it teach of pain and hatred and despair. Listening to it speak of endurance and fortitude and preparation. Listening to it hope for strength and forgetfulness and worth.
The fingers lifted to a gently smiling mouth.
*So…we have a new godling.*
A third voice.
*A clever one, this one.*
*A damaged one.*
The first voice sounded severe, disapproving.
*As if we don’t have enough of those.*
*Not irreparably. And this one will do well by mortals,* the third voice argued *You're just miffed because you didn’t see this coming. He will heal.*
*Possibly.* huffed the first voice.
Fingers lifted away from a smile.
*Why should he not? After all, he is the God of Survivors.*
"Ganymede, loveliest of mortals, whom the gods caught up to pour out drink for Zeus and live amid immortals for his beauty's sake." [Homer, Aliad]
Ganymede was the son of Tros, King of Troy. Depending on the story, he was either taken by the gods as a gift for Zeus, or abducted by Zeus in the form of an eagle, and made his Immortal cup-bearer (Hebe, his previous cup-bearer and daughter by Hera, being dismissed with the excuse that she spilt wine on him). His father Tros was compensated for his loss with "a pair of white, brisk-stepping horses, deathless and able to walk on water, the very same that carried the immortals" [Euripides]. Hera, however, grew ever more jealous of Ganymede, nagging her husband so much he grew fed up and promised to send him away. Only later did she find out that he left Olympus to take his place among the stars, as the constellation Aquarius, where he can be seen to this day, still pouring nectar. "The Abduction of Ganymede" is a favorite scene in Greek art, usually depicting a giant eagle flying with a struggling youth in his claws. Ganymede is often shown wearing a Phrygian cap and was included in the Roman pantheon and artistic repertoire also.