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The Man Who Freed The Slaves This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Somewhere between heaven and the earth, in a place existing neither in life nor in death, where mortal spirits collect for Zeus' duplicitous pleasures, there is a prison for those who had offended the gods in life. Forced to languish in haphazard energy patterns, their consciousness has been trapped for five centuries. Faced with the knowledge of being disembodied, they exist in eternal pain and long for the time when their savior will lead the revolt that will set them free.

On the island of Cyprus, in the month of June, during an eclipse of the sun, a voluptuous woman with fire red hair, sparkling sapphire blue eyes and skin as effervescent as champagne gives birth to a future hero, his name, Solstice. A manchild with ties to Apollo, God of the Sun, and Artemis, Goddess of the Moon, a boy whose Grail Quest begins on the dawn of his thirteenth birthday.

The early years of his life were focused on preparing him for the possible perils his journey may confront him with. This was a monumental undertaking because this was a quest never taken up by any man. The path was both obscure and dangerous, containing a rugged terrain consisting of thousand-foot high mountains, man-eating vegetation, tornado-force winds, and traps purposely constructed to keep out unwanted visitors. However, with the help of his mother, who had been specially groomed for this task, he is up for the challenge.

From the moment of birth, it was evident that Solstice was no ordinary mortal's offspring for he possessed a mysterious control over two celestial bodies: the sun and the moon. Utilizing the energy radiating from the sun, he could produce fire and manipulate the oceans' tides, when concentrating on the moon. By mastering these powers, he stood a better chance of freeing the slaves.

On the eve of his thirteenth birthday, there was a great celebration on Cyprus. People came from all regions of the island to wish Solstice a good and safe journey, for they realized that there was a very good chance he might be captured or killed. Parades, fireworks, dancing, and a feast to end all feasts were happening as he said perhaps his final farewell to Cyprus.

The next day, his thirteenth birthday, Solstice set forth at dawn. With determination in his soul, enthusiasm in his heart, and the guidance of Apollo and Artemis, he left the island and headed for Thessaloniki in Greece. His journey began by traversing the Mediterranean Ocean west of Cyprus in a northwesterly direction through the Aegean Sea straight to Thessaloniki. Putting his power of ocean tides to use, the journey was shorter than one might anticipate because he did not need to rely on the whim of the winds. However, there was still life-threatening dangers to be faced.

The first of three dangers took place during his sea voyage with a miraculous and somewhat magical storm, for it incorporated a variety of weather conditions. There were torrential rains, freezing blusters of snows, periods of hail and sleet as well as tidal waves and high winds to contend with, but Solstice managed them all. He once again called upon his powers to calm the waters and evaporate all precipitation Zeus conjured up. However, dodging the thunderbolts hurled toward his sinking raft and the blood-thirsty sharks sent by Poseidon were merely good fortune. His powers had helped him twice, but each time he showed Zeus his capabilities, he risked revealing his weakness which was the key to his destruction.

Two months had passed since he had left Cyprus and just as his provisions were running out, his dilapidated raft hit shore. It was land, in particular, it was Thessaloniki. Just beyond the shore he came to a beautiful garden, like the one back home. With its exotic plants, orange orchard, as well as an assortment of wild fruits and berries, temptation enticed Solstice. So he stopped for a while to rest in the shade of the garden and consequently, fell asleep, only to be abruptly awoken moments later in excruciating pain inflicted by a carnivorous plant indigenous to the region. After a five-minute struggle, Solstice came to the conclusion that it was useless to try to muscle his way free, for it was obvious that the plant was too strong. But, being the inventive person he was, Solstice reached into his pockets and pulled out the berries he had been collecting, and using their natural oils as a lubricant, he successfully managed to induce vomiting, so he was released.

No longer welcome in the garden, he set forth once more, this time he headed for the mountain chain faintly visible in the distance. Upon reaching it, he was forced to travel the windy, narrow path prone to avalanche and falling boulders. Once at the top, he found himself in an impossible situation, for the prison was a floating island three miles higher than the mountain path took him. But, just when all seemed lost and his quest a failure, out of nowhere there appeared in the sky a glow growing in intensity as it approached Solstice. Puzzled by this unidentified flying object, he felt for the first time helpless and afraid.

There was a flash of light so bright that it obstructed the view of the object before it landed. However, after the light dimmed, there before Solstice lay none other than the Great Apollo and his sun chariot, which would transport him to the floating prison. Seeing Apollo and his chariot evoked a memory of Apollo and Artemis from his childhood, which at that time he had believed a dream.

Reaching the lifeless floating island in the sky, Solstice surveyed the perimeter of the prison and sought an entrance. Once inside, the confounded Zeus was already waiting, "So you wish to free my prisoners," he said angrily. "Just try it." While Zeus continued his speech of intimidation, Solstice blinded him with a wall of fire and used the element of surprise to locate the prisoners. No amateur, Zeus easily put out the flames and vowed next time to forgo the pleasantries. This fight had become a personal vendetta. Luckily Solstice was a master of disguise. Fashioning a garment from an enchanted cloth he had stolen from Zeus' personal chambers, he now roamed undetected through the prisons.

Meanwhile, Zeus had taken all necessary precautions. He had brought sympathetic gods to aid him and had unleashed dogs. The difficulty in completing the quest had tripled. So Solstice awaited nightfall. Then, Solstice went to the prisoners and transferred their consciousness to a protective container made from crystal and topaz. He then smuggled them outside where Artemis awaited. But just as Solstice handed her the consciousness, Zeus leaped from the darkness. "Return the people to Cyprus."

"I'll hold them off," Solstice cried. Knowing that Solstice's fate was to remain on the floating island as Zeus' prisoner, Artemis reluctantly departed as Zeus immediately drained his consciousness without a struggle. Zeus had figured out Solstice's weakness: his kindness had done him in!


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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