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Apollo's Song This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Aaauugh! It's the vulture-eye!"

Apollo Morningstar had heard this insult before. As the pariah of the dwarf city of Thayli, Apollo was ridiculed everywhere he went. He was average height for a dwarf , three feet nine inches tall , and average weight, but the rest of him was horrible to look at. His hands were calloused and covered with boils and warts. His back had a hunch the size of a pillow. Older dwarfs believe that the hunch was caused by evil spirits in Apollo's body yearning to breathe free and wreak their havoc on Thayli. The left side of his face was dominated by a jagged scar and burns from a childhood accident. His nose was round and large, and one of his eyes was normal. However, it was the other eye that dwarfs so dreaded. It was much like the famed Eye of Evil described in Edgar Rallen Froe's tale, The Tell-Tale Eye: "One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture - a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold." The elders say that Apollo was a child of Inle, the dwarfs' god of evil.

Dwarfs had a prestigious reputation for forging magical swords. Every year in Thayli, the capital of Prydain County, all the dwarfs would come to show off their skills in a forging contest. The day was always a holiday throughout Prydain, and dwarfs would bring their families to see works from the famous forgers like Vulcan Hearth and Heavy Mallet. Apollo passed up too many of these joyous occasions, so he decided to enter his name in the contest. When people read his name on the contestants' list, they roared with laughter. Apollo was heckled even more now, but this time instead of getting angry, he chuckled wryly and clashed his knuckles together. Sparks flew from his hands when he did this, and people trembled thinking that their time in Thayli was up. Evil would finally rule Prydain.

The day before the contest, all the dwarfs from around Prydain arrived with their families. Festivities and dancing echoed throughout the night. Apollo wanted nothing to do with any of it. He sat in a barrel, his home, and thought about how he would laugh in everyone's faces if he won. But how could he? He had never picked up a hammer before. Suddenly, something strange happened to Apollo. The noise from the parties vanished, and he could only see a chariot pulled by fire-breathing oxen. In that chariot was a giant cyclops wielding a gargantuan hammer. He rushed at Apollo waving it around his head and yelling inarticulate phrases. He screeched to a halt directly next to Apollo and his oxen spoke to him.

"Apollo, you are the chosen one. Use your powers wisely, and do not seek revenge on those who wronged you. Know thyself, and ye shall know thy purpose."

Then the chariot left as mysteriously as it had appeared. Apollo did not know what to do now. He thought and thought until he became so frustrated that he stared at the blank, unsympathetic wall in front of him. Out of his "vulture eye" suddenly shot a green beam of light. After examining the wall, he saw that he had burnt a hole in it. He clapped his hands in joy, and eventually a hammer of gold materialized. He clapped some more, and a chisel of lead appeared. There was an inscription on the chisel, "Know thyself, and ye shall know thy purpose." Apollo pondered this message, and finally went back to sleep, his head swimming with all that had occurred.

The day of the contest arrived, and Apollo greeted it with unaccustomed pleasure. Each contestant was given a workshop in which they were to produce the best sword they could make by sunset. Apollo entered his workshop which was next to the famous Vulcan Hearth. Vulcan approached Apollo and said, "Usually I make it a rule to greet my neighboring contestants, but looking at you, I'm afraid that I'll pick up something dreadful if I get too close." Apollo just smiled and extended a deformed hand to Vulcan. Vulcan looked like he smelled something horrible and turned away in disgust. Apollo laughed and clapped his hands and smoke slithered in snake-like forms toward Vulcan and enveloped him.

As the competition progressed, people passing by heard something different than the ordinary pounding of hammers. A soft, yet piercing singing rang through the air. People were drawn like magnets to the source so they could hear this siren-like tune. Apollo was the source. People crowded around his workshop to watch him work and to hear him sing. The hammer he used made no sound. The awestruck dwarfs did not seem to see the green beam that shot out of Apollo's eye. The elders said that Orpheus never sang as sweetly. While his song held the people in a spell, Apollo constructed the most beautiful sword ever built. The hilt, made of gold, resembled an ox's horn. The handle was made of silver and inlaid with precious stones. The scene depicted a giant on a chariot swinging a hammer around his head. The scene was so intricate that Vulcan dropped to his knees when he saw such beauty. The blade was made of pure silver, and the inscription read, "Know thyself, and ye shall know thy purpose." The razor-sharp blade, when Apollo aimed it at the ground and uttered "Incuboo," shot a thunderbolt which created a crater in the ground 100 feet across. There was no question who won this year.

The next day was the official crowning of Apollo as the winner. They held a feast in his honor, and afterwards named him Supreme Forger. While Apollo was giving his acceptance speech, a chill swept over him. Instantly, he began to sing as he had the day before. As he was singing, his face changed. The scar and burns melted away and dripped on the floor leaving the smoothest skin exposed. The boils and warts on his hands disintegrated into thin air. His hunch deflated as the gaping dwarfs gasped out of both fear and amazement. Apollo's song finished, and what stood before the people now was a dashing young man ready for another chance in society.n


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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