All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
The palace of Holy Mountains was filled with excitement as the gods and goddesses convened in the halls with anticipation for their king, Lord Claudius, who had recently announced his latest creation—the planet Earth. To assist him with the project, he had chosen his daughter—Artemisia who was known for turning whatever she sketched into reality. Over the course of a few days, she transformed the barren planet that her father had first created, into the Earth many know of as today, the planet covered with everything ranging from oceans to animals. Perhaps Artemisia’s greatest creation was human-kind, one which she took the most pride in. Lord Claudius himself was so pleased with his daughter’s work that he gave her full control of Earth, her greatest piece of art.
While the gods and goddesses continued to celebrate the accomplishments of their king and his daughter, few realized that a sinister aura had been cast upon them. Arsinoe, the king’s other daughter, had stayed in her chamber, quietly sulking over her disappointment. She had not been given a part in creating the Earth, much less any control over the mortals inhabiting the planet. The thought of her sister receiving the privilege that Arsinoe so desired was a blow to her pride and filled her with hatred against not only her father and sister, but also against all the gods and goddesses who attended the party honoring the event. While the seething goddess brooded over revenge, her husband, Alexandros, entered her chamber. Bowing at her feet, he stated, “My wife, the king requests your presence at the revelry of the gods and goddesses.”
Arsinoe, glaring at her husband with cold contempt frozen in her glassy red eyes, was about to rebuff the invitation, when suddenly, she had an idea. Forcing on a sad smile, she exclaimed, “Nothing would give my heart more pleasure than to attend a party so wonderfully organized by my father, the lord of all gods. But alas! I do not have any jewelry fitting as the daughter of the greatest god of gods to wear to the festivity. Please send my most heartfelt thanks to the king and tell him that I humbly implore the key to his Chamber of Treasures to borrow some jewelry for the party.”
Alexandros, overwhelmed by his wife’s outburst of enthusiasm, could only relay her message to the king, who in turn cheerfully handed Alexandros the key. When he returned, Arsinoe, without a word of thanks, hastily snatched the key from the hands of her still perplexed husband and sped to the Chamber of Treasures. Flinging the golden doors open, she trudged through the pools of the finest treasures, knowing that a few of the treasures within this vast room were filled with dark magic. Finally, after a few moments of rummaging through a tangle of diamond necklaces, Arsinoe spotted a small golden ring. On the band was inscribed—“I have the power to destroy anyone and anything the god who holds me commands. The only thing I ask in return is to be worn by a mortal, foolish and gullible. After I rest upon the finger of the mortal for seven days, he who now holds me will have the power to use me for his deadly purposes and would also be invincible. ” Slipping the ring into the folds of her cloak, Arsinoe then carefully chose a diamond tiara before heading to the party. She tolerated the hearty jokes, wild laughter, and merry dancing of the other gods and goddesses, knowing that her plot of vengeance would soon be executed.
Artemisia could not help but watch her normally aloof sister with apprehension. Arsinoe quietly stalked past the circle of waltzing goddesses to the throne of Lord Claudius. Sinking to her knees in a reverent bow, she then stood up and whispered something in the ear of her smiling father. Artemisia observed her father’s ruddy face distort in confusion, then blanch. Leaping out of his chair as though it was on fire, Lord Claudius bounded out of the hall with Arsinoe following closely behind. It was an enraged Lord Claudius who stormed back a few minutes later, every footstep vibrating the ground. The gods and goddesses immediately ceased in their merry-making, cowering back as their Lord thundered, “In the midst of this joyous celebration, a traitor maligns us all; a hypocritical thief who I am ashamed to call my daughter!”
With that, his trembling finger fell on Artemisia. The hall grew deathly silent as the sea of eyes darted from the king to his daughter. A bewildered Artemisia stammered, “M-m-my lord, what is the matter?”
This simple inquiry only seemed to infuriate the king more. With a stomp of his foot, the diamond floor beneath the feet of the gods cracked an angry frown. “I will tell you what is the matter, you ungrateful wretch!” he bellowed. “You have stolen the ring of chaos to destroy me so that you can take my place as the sovereign of the gods. Don’t think for a minute that I would not check the Chamber of Treasures to make sure that the ring is still there. You have asked for the key, under the pretext that you wanted to borrow a few jewels. However, you made the foolish mistake to return the key but not lock the doors. When your sister next entered the room, she noticed that the doors were open, the treasures in a terrible mess, and the ring gone. If you do not return the ring immediately, I will inflict the worst punishment possible on you.”
Artemisia, finally realizing the true extent of her sister’s treachery, frantically searched the halls, her blue eyes appealing for help. The other gods and goddesses doubted the gentle Artemisia capable of such a deed and naturally suspected the secretive Arsinoe. Nevertheless, past experiences reminded them of the consequences in store for those who questioned Lord Claudius’ judgment, and nobody dared to intervene. The king, seeing no ring returned, resumed his tirade.
“You do not obey your father the king? In that case, you will lose your immortality and powers as the daughter of the king and live the rest of your life as a human in one of the most remote places on Earth. No longer shall you ever dwell in the palace of gods.”
With a swipe of his mighty hand, Artemisia found herself lying on the soft grass of the land beneath her. Suddenly a shadow fell over her. Looking up, she saw her sister, Arsinoe, towering over with her mouth curving upwards in a terrible smile.
“Sister,” Artemisia whispered, “What have you done?”
“What have I done?” Arsinoe mocked with a sadistic smile, “I will tell you what I have done. I have enjoyed the first day of many that will soon be remembered as my days of vengeance. Once I discover the foolish mortal who wears the ring, I will have the power of the ring in my hands. I will then destroy my father and all the other gods of the palace to gain complete and utter control of the Earth. Never fear though, I will not summon the power of the ring to destroy you, my dearest sister. It would just be a waste of magic to destroy a helpless mortal like you in the most remote land.”
Cackling, Arsinoe evaporated in a spiraling tornado of dark smoke, leaving her sister, once the most powerful goddess, now a mere human, staring out into the horizon, watching the sun sink at the twilight of her forgotten glory.
In the plains that extended endlessly into the horizons forever, there was a small hut inhabited by two orphans. Meda, the older of the two, spent her days cleaning the house, getting water from a local river, and trying to grow food to keep the family alive. Rion loved nothing more than idling around the plains as part of his nightly routine. Today being no different, Rion took his usual lazy stroll around the plains. In the distance, he spotted a girl about his age approaching. Small and somewhat fragile, she was extremely pretty with a waterfall of lush blond hair cascading in thick waves around a doll-like face. So stunned was Rion by the sight of such a comely girl that he did not notice her eyes were an unearthly shade of red.
“Good evening,” the girl greeted, flashing him a radiant smile. “I have traveled for a very long time and need a place to rest. I will reward you for your trouble, dear friend.”
Her delicate arm extended to offer him a golden ring. With another smile, she added, “My mother gave this to me when I was little. If you wear it, the ring will bring you good luck for the rest of your life.”
With a jerk of his head, Rion slipped the ring on his finger and unsteadily stumbled back to his hut, the girl following closely behind. Meda, realizing that Rion had brought a guest, immediately beckoned the two in and showed the newcomer her bed for the night. As the girl bid her good night, Meda could not help but feel slightly queasy as she gazed into the girl’s eyes which glowed like balls of fire in the dark house. Even as she lay in bed trying to fall asleep, Meda wondered if she had made a mistake to let such a stranger stay over night in the house.
The next morning, Meda awoke to a thud on her porch. Startling, she raced to the door to find a young woman sprawled at the door. With a heave, she succeeded in carrying the woman into the house. After great deliberation, Meda decided to have her newest guest and her visitor of last night temporarily share the room. However, as she entered the room with the semi-conscious woman, Meda was dismayed to see not only the girl gone, but also the bed ice cold. At that moment, the woman’s eyes fluttered open, and after a series of spasms, she shrieked, “The bed is cold. I can feel it. Arsinoe is here. Where is she? She must not succeed in executing her evil plan, for that would mean doomsday for all. Where is she? Where is she?”
Meda, startled by the outburst, attempted to placate the screaming woman, but to no avail. The more Meda tried to soothe her, the more agitated the shrieking woman became in her motions. Taking pity on whom she believed to be a madwoman, Meda brought in warm blankets for the woman, who at last seemed to calm down. With an effort to sit up straight, she interrogated, “Who else lives here? Did any stranger visit here in the past few days?”
Relieved that her visitor appeared to have ceased her mad fit, Meda replied, “My brother, Rion is asleep in the next room. There was a girl who occupied this room yesterday. I am a little shocked that she left without my noticing….” Her voice trailed off.
“Did the girl have red eyes?” the woman demanded vehemently, forehead creased in lines of worry.
“Well…,” Meda began to answer but was unsure how.
The woman moaned, pulling at her thick mahogany hair. Worried that her guest would start another paroxysm, Meda immediately asked what was wrong. The woman, in a hoarse voice, whispered, “That was not a human. That was my sister, Arsinoe. She tricked my father into banishing me from the palace of the gods. She has an evil plot. I know it! But it may be too late…”
Before Meda could utter a word, the woman quietly said, “Where is your brother? Show me his hands if he is not already missing.”
Confounded by this peculiar request, but not about to refuse it for fear of inciting another tantrum, Meda led her visitor to Rion’s room. As she flung the door open, Meda found that Rion’s bed was like the last, vacant and cold. Seeing this, the woman inquired in a surprisingly composed voice, “Would you now consider the possibility that I may not be the madwoman you believe me to be?”
Meda could only nod and ask, “What happened?”
The mysterious visitor, whom Meda had deemed mad, launched into her story, which few knew except herself and the sister who had caused her so much misery.
The sun arose above the horde of trees, the early morning rays stirring the drowsy green heads from a long night’s sleep. Two figures maneuvered their way through the thick brush of green foliage, the irritated rustling of the branches suddenly interrupted by a whine from one of the forms.
“Are we there yet, wherever you are taking me?”
Rion was unusually cranky, having been hurriedly awoken by the mysterious girl he had met the night before. The girl had told him that there was danger lurking around the open plains where he dwelled. For his protection, she proclaimed that she would lead him to a temporary shelter that she knew to be safe. Within a blink of his eyes, the disoriented boy then found himself sitting with the girl on a wooden raft tossed about like a helpless puppet by the watery fists of a serpentine river. When he inquired about their whereabouts, the girl merely responded, “We are almost there.”
Before Rion had the chance to demand that she explicated her vague reply, the raft was thrown aground at the feet of towering trees gazing down on them condescendingly. With a great tug, the girl had begun to hastily drag him through labyrinth of trees that besieged them. Turning to him with a bone chilling smile, the girl’s glassy red eyes seemed to dance with hidden laughter as she replied, “Soon.”
“How soon is soon?” Rion’s exasperation was evident on his haggard face.
The silence he received hung over his mind like an obscuring fog as he was led to a gigantic boulder. Rion gasped in astonishment as she easily flicked aside the rock with her slender white fingers, revealing a vast pit. In a voice strangely saturated in triumph, she crowed, “This is soon.”
Rion cried out in terror when he felt tumbling into the hole, the echoes of his voice dying away as darkness engulfed him.
“So what you are saying is that you were a goddess who was cast out of the heavens by your father. Your sister, the root of your problems, had manipulated your father into believing that you betrayed him.”
By the time Artemisia finished her story, it was already evening. Looking into her host’s skeptical eyes, Artemisia could feel the visage of a clock on the opposite wall taunting her as her chances of bringing Arsinoe to justice flooded into a relentless river of lost seconds.
“Listen, I know you think I am insane because my account sounds a bit far fetched for any mortal to believe. But it’s true,” Artemisia fell on her knees and looked up at her host with imploring eyes. “If I even hope to stop my sister before it is too late, I will need all the help I can find. You are the only soul for miles in this wasteland. The fate of the Earth lies in our hands. Would you accompany me in the trek to rescue your brother?”
Meda, still completely muddled by the turn of events, stared blankly at the woman in front of her. Unexpectedly, Artemisia moaned, covering her head with trembling hands. After a few moments, she lifted her head and gazed at the puzzled girl.
“It may be no use after all,” Artemisia groaned. “Even if we have all the help in the world, we still do not know where Arsinoe has taken your brother. If she took him up to the heavens, then it would be impossible to retrieve him….”
“Well, you ignorant mortals are correct for once.”
The two spun around to find Arsinoe, her fiery dark hair framing her deathly white face like a myriad of whips crackling in all directions. Arsinoe’s snakelike red eyes blazed with laughter as her thin lips curled upwards into a cruel smile.
“You were the girl who had visited my brother and me,” Meda whispered and transfixed on the piercing red eyes that had returned to haunt her. “What have you done to him?”
“Don’t worry. Why would I dream of hurting a hair on his silly head when I need him to wear the ring, giving me the power to destroy every single god and leaving me the sole ruler of all?” Arsinoe’s laughter ricocheted around the room, causing even the walls to recoil in fear.
“But since there is no possible way for two pitiful humans like you to stop me in less than seven days,” Arsinoe resumed, still beaming maliciously, “I may as well tell you the whereabouts of the ridiculous boy. While this indolent mortal was ensnared in the deepest of slumbers,” gesturing at the awestruck Meda, “I claimed to the boy that his life was in great jeopardy. Since your brother was such a credulous fool, it was effortless taking him down the nearby river and into the vast forest. If you humans are dense enough to attempt rescue, I will not stop you because even if you are not swallowed up by the raging waters, you will be utterly demolished by the wild beasts that inhabit the forest.”
Her dark cloak billowed around her skeletal figure in thick spirals until she became one with the adjacent shadows, fading away altogether. Only the resonance of her heartless laughter lingered behind, leaving the two humans mesmerized in a terrified daze as their eyes were fixed on the spot where the goddess had stood. It was Artemisia, who timidly ventured, “Is there a raft on which we can sail down the river? We will need a sturdy one for a chance to arrive at the forest alive.”
Without answering the question, Meda blurted out, “How do you know your sister is telling the truth? She may be trying to mislead us.”
Evading the piercing eyes of her host, Artemisia countered, “Do you have an alternate solution, one that will save not only your brother, but the Earth and the unsuspecting gods in less than a week?”
This simple inquiry hung as a foreboding mist, obscuring the already uncertain future which loomed ahead in the night.
Spheres of gods and goddesses encircled Lord Claudius, who situated at his throne with Arsinoe by his side, as he prepared to deliver his message.
“My loyal subjects, due to the duplicity of my other daughter, her control over the planet Earth will now be ceded to her sister, the Princess Arsinoe.”
An unfriendly silence ensued as the gods and goddesses looked doubtfully from their king to his daughter. Although none cared to acknowledge it, all despised the icy gloom that now chilled the palace halls. It replaced the rays of light emitted by Artemisia’s sunny personality, which had radiated every corner of the palace when she once held the king’s favor. Arsinoe, taking no notice of the surly eyes, arched over her father as he listened intently; her dark cloak descending over them like the wing of a vulture, temporarily shielding them from their subjects’ mistrustful glares. The king’s face brightened as he declared, “My daughter has yet another brilliant proposal. In honor of her newfound rule of the Earth, we shall hold a fete in precisely six days. All are invited and encouraged to attend for this will be the greatest of galas….”
Little did anyone realize, as the king prattled on about the festivity arrangements, that his daughter was carefully planning the celebration. On this very day she would unleash the fatal power of the ring which by now has become an evanescent droplet in the gods’ oceans of memories.
The watery flames of the angry river sizzled beneath the miniscule raft as it was propelled by the hands of the mighty gusts of wind. Gripping on the edge of the raft for dear life, Artemisia hollered over the hubbub to her neighboring companion, “Have you ever gone down this stream before?”
Meda, paralyzed by the raft’s turbulent convulsions, only shook her head. Without warning, a gigantic wave rose like a dark giant, eagerly plummeting downward to devour its prey. The raft swerved, narrowly escaping the ravenous jaws of the accelerating currents that had hurtled into the rushing inferno with a resounding splash. Bullets of water shot in all directions, in search of their targeted victims, now crouching on the outskirts of their helpless raft.
Three days passed since the two had departed the plains to embark on their voyage. Three days passed as strained but still hopeful eyes scanned the foggy horizon for the slightest fringe of green. Three days passed as the two mortals watched the waves drumming the raft in close pursuit, knowing that there would be no turning back. Three days.
“Do you know how much longer this trip might take?” Artemisia again found her voice dominated by the deafening howls of the waves.
Meda opened her mouth to reply but was interrupted by the reverberating scream of the wave as it soared above the trembling raft, ready to take revenge for having escaped the first time. Again, the raft tried to dodge the onslaught, but this time, was too late.
Artemisia saw the green land extending like a hand in her direction as she was jolted back and forth by the warring waves. Thrashing her arms in desperation not to succumb to the forces that were uncompromisingly trying to pull her into the obscurity below, Artemisia began to maneuver her way through the meandering river. At that moment, the coils of the stream ascended almost as though to touch the arc of the cloudy sky before gliding downward to trap the hapless woman in yet another watery embrace. Smothered by the rippling sky overhead, Artemisia could feel her last traces of life floating away, like ephemeral bubbles bobbing to the surface, never to return. A small crescent of light gleamed above the currents of the suffocating blanket. Hope surged through Artemisia as she outstretched her hands towards her last chance of life. However, the hope evaporated as swiftly as it had appeared when she saw her hands gravitating toward the pale face of her sister, twisted into an unfathomable expression. The relentless light radiated by the ghastly visage swirled around Artemisia in a dizzying whirlpool, dragging her downward into the shadowy oblivion.
“Breathe! C’mon!!! Breathe!!!!! Please, BREATHE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
A voice wild with anxiety pierced the surface. Artemisia found that she could not obey as the waterfalls of black icy water bled out of her mouth. Dark spots waltzed across her vision, blurring the outline of the figure in front of her. The swelling pressure inflating her head threatened to burst as waves of nausea passed over her.
Thwack! An unexpected blow to her back launched a tremor down her spine. Thwack! Thwack! Thwack! A series of blows followed, forcing the scorching air down her throat.
“Are you okay?” The figure that Artemisia finally identified as Meda hovered over her with an expression of pure worry plastered on her features.
“I think I am fine. Did you find Rion?” Artemisia’s voice was still raspy as she inhaled her first breath.
Meda shook her head in dismay while Artemisia, after a few feeble attempts to rise, crumpled at the feet of the foliated cathedrals. With a sigh, she stated with a peculiar air of resignation, “It’s no use. I have been far too broken to be of any more assistance. Find your brother before it is too late. You have, I think, about three days.”
Meda, dumbfounded by how her strong-willed companion had dissolved into the pallid stranger with the vigor of a corpse, stood there in silence for a few minutes. The fallen form then produced a shrill shriek that shattered the stillness like glass, “For goodness sake, will you not go before it is too late?”
Flinching at the intensity of her companion’s plea, Meda treaded into the infinite depths of the forest; ready to face her destiny that lay ahead. However, she turned back to watch her visitor, her comrade, and most of all, her friend become nothing more than a miniscule dot in the distant scope of green.
The disheveled heads of the forest trees lolled lazily in a deep snooze as the call of an owl swam through the thick currents of undergrowth, gently whispering through the rustling leaves. The moon curved like a colorless rainbow, its shimmering light peeking through the mist that veiled the night sky overhead. An elfin silhouette pushed through the city of green skyscrapers before finally leaning against a boulder to rest.
For three days, Meda had scoured the forest, only to have but half explored its unlimited boundaries. Still not a trace of her brother was found throughout this futile quest. When the first light of dawn penetrated the forest, all would be lost, for that would mark the end of the seven days and nights.
Crying out in frustration, Meda kicked at the rock on which she leaned with every ounce of her strength. The boulder retreated, uncovering half of an ominous gap. With a gasp of astonishment, Meda scarcely paused to hope as she exerted all her willpower within her petite frame to heave back the rock revealing the rest of the hole. She then peered into the yawning space to discover what lay within.
Rion seemed to be nothing more than a heap of bones thrown into a shallow grave. The deep-set face, once flabby with youthful health, was emaciated beyond identification. The eyelids, acting as the only protection from the horrors of the world that plagued him, shrouded the eyes which almost shot out of his skull. Meda dragged the body out of the hole before frantically pressing her ear to his limp chest, finding little solace in the dying mutter that marred the utter void within. A rumbling growl overshadowed the heartbeat, making even the trees shudder in fear. Whipping her head around, Meda sat frozen in mute horror as a panther, larger than any she had ever seen, slowly stalked out of the darkness, looming closer and closer as its eyes flashed like sparks of lightning.
The panther bared its white teeth in a twisted grimace that gleamed like countless swords while its slender tail was a snake slithering closely behind, ready to strike. Encircling its two victims, the panther crouched in a feline poise; muscles pulled back, and ready to pounce. Meda tightened her grip on her wilted brother, somewhat cheered as she felt his heartbeat accelerate. He seemed to know that they were together, never to be separated in death. Squeezing her eyes tight shut, Meda awaited the arms of death with as much dignity as she could summon.
Whoosh! Meda opened her eyes in narrowed slits just in time to witness the panther recoiling with an agonized howl. She riveted her head to see that Artemisia, brandishing rock in one hand, unsteadily stumbled out of the underbrush, breathing heavily as she almost tripped over the treacherous twigs entwining beneath her feet. Seeing its attacker weak, the panther purred with suppressed content before charging towards its target. Artemisia, after feebly aiming her last missile, darted away into the cloak of the green foliage, the panther in hot pursuit. As her foot steps vanished into the night, so ended Artemisia’s final performance. The dangling branches descended like curtains behind her diminutive figure which faded forevermore into the darkness.
Meda, astounded by the turn of events, clutched her brother’s body, whose breath so hushed that it was almost silent. Suddenly, a faint glimmer of gold caught her eye. On one of his lifeless fingers that jutted out like mere twigs ready to break at any second was a ring. The skin around the ring was bruise-like in color, in stark contrast to the overall paleness of his wasted body. Recalling Artemisia’s story about her sister’s conspiracy which had revolved around a golden ring, Meda yanked off the ring that shattered to bits upon departing the finger of its sufferer. Rion’s breathing grew less constricted as his eyes flickered, absorbing the sight of the world for the first time in about seven days.
“Sis, is that you?” His voice was hoarse as the tears streamed down his wan cheeks.
Without a word, as if seized by a flood of emotion, Meda leaned forward to sweep her brother into a tight embrace. The boy first stiffened in shock, then relaxed as his arms snaked around his sister’s back to return the hug. At that moment, the first rays of sunlight already began to rouse the sleeping forest from its nightly dreams.
“My dear people, prepare for thy doomsday because it has come.” Arsinoe’s voice, tainted with an edge of grim satisfaction, boomed over the fusion of music, dancing, and laughter, reducing the merriment into a hollow calm as the gods and goddesses exchanged glances of confusion. Lord Claudius was the first to rupture the silence, sputtering, “Daughter, what do you mean?”
“You old fool,” Arsinoe retorted, injecting a note of scorn into her response, “Did you honestly believe that I would accept your favoritism towards my sister for long? Were you so blind to think that I would allow such an insult to go unpunished? On the day you chose my sister over me as your co-ruler of Earth, I vowed to seek retribution at all costs. It was I who tricked my artless husband into handing me the key to the Chamber of Treasures, enabling me to steal the golden ring with hopes of unleashing destruction on all the gods. It was I who framed my sister, Artemisia, leaving her to die as a mortal on Earth after being exiled by her very own father. And it shall be I who will rise above every one of you as the sole ruler of all.”
“How dare you are to do this, you vile traitor!” With a jerk of his hands, Lord Claudius raised his scepter, but Arsinoe simply chortled, “Apparently, the time frame of seven days has done a fine job in obliterating half your memory. The ring, which rested upon the finger of a mortal for seven days and nights, has made me impervious to any form of magic. If you attempt to attack me, my first victim will not be you, but your only grandchild, my son.” Arsinoe pointed a skeletal finger at the cooing baby in her husband’s arms, continuing, “You are sadly mistaken if you think that I do not have the heart to slay the child. One way or another, he must die, lest he grows up to challenge my claim to the throne. Besides I have no affection whatsoever for any child of the sniveling god you force me to call husband.” Arsinoe spat out the last word before pleasantly resuming, “So what shall it be, dearest father? Suppressing your desire for revenge or witnessing the death of your grandson?”
Lord Claudius lowered his scepter as he collapsed at his daughter’s feet in a resigned bow. The halls swelled with mutters of disbelief because nobody could grasp the reality of their impending doom which not even their greatest protector could save them from. The goddess’ lips curled back in a terrible smile as she chanted, “Per vox of rutilus orbis , ego hic opto ruina of meus abbas , rex rgis of filiolus*.”
Nothing happened. Her glinting smile reversed into a deep frown as she tried again, but to no avail. The king, having recollected his numbed senses, shouted, “Guards!”
Two giants, who spent day and night trailing the king wherever he went, promptly appeared, seizing Arsinoe by both arms. Struggle as she might, Arsinoe broke free from their rigid grasp.
“Take her to The Dungeon of Judgment,” was the king’s next command, given in a cold monotone.
As the guards dragged her towards the dungeon, Arsinoe, still defiant, raised her chin a fraction as she foretold, “If you think you have seen the last of me, you are wrong. I will rise again, above my death, and will return for my vengeance.”
The echoes of her screams were audible, seeping through the stone walls of the dungeon. A few moments later, a deafening crash smothered the shrieks, reducing the other gods and goddesses into petrified whimpers. And so ended Arsinoe—the other daughter of Lord Claudius.
*“By the power of the golden ring, I hereby wish for the destruction of my father, king of gods.”(Latin)
“I see, so the ring has been destroyed.” Meda nodded, a look of awe painted on her face as she stared, entranced by the heavenly god before her. With the help of the gods, Meda was able to recover Artemisia, only to find her already slaughtered by the vicious panther. Lord Claudius winced at the sight of his favorite daughter—Artemisia, whose remains were mangled beyond recognition by the attack. However, the regret that fluttered across his face was gone as swiftly as it arrived. The god then briskly swerved to face his subjects, declaring, “A proper funeral will be held for my two daughters. They will be buried together, bitter rivals though they were in life, but sisters they will be eternally.”
The king’s edict was met by the solemnly lowered heads of the gods and the only two mortals to have been given the honor of attending this event. The two cadavers were placed in separate coffins: one golden, intricately ornamented with shimmering jewels while the other was silver, embossed with black pearls that flashed through the dark lace which adorned the coffin. As Meda turned to follow funeral procession behind the coffins which were pulled by stately black horses, the king of gods stopped her, proclaiming, “As the king of gods, I shall bestow on you an honor that no mortal has ever before received. With your consent, I shall grant you immortality and godhood. You demonstrated bravery and loyalty as you helped my late daughter retrieve the ring. Were it not for the two of you, all the gods would have been obliterated from the heavens and the Earth run by a tyrant. Furthermore, the Earth needs a new sovereign. With my two children dead and my grandchild’s claim nullified due to his mother’s treachery, you are the next in line.”
Remembering the fates of the last two queens of the Earth, Meda shook her head, declining the proposal. At this, Lord Claudius gasped, “Have you no ambition at all? I have offered you the greatest possible honor that any mortal would dream of but never have, and you just turned it down?!”
As her eyes locked into the astonished eyes of the god, she mused, “Ambition could be one’s power. Ambition could also be one’s downfall. What you have just offered me, my lord, is a gift. But this honor is also a curse. Although I have been given the opportunity to rise higher than any mortal has ever risen, I have also been given further to fall. The destinies of your daughters were both death, caused by ambition. I have no wish to take the same paths.”
Meda followed the horde of gods and goddesses, blending into the moving pond of bowed heads, which encompassed the caskets that were lowered into a single tomb. Across the vault bore the inscription:
“Sisters are we
Both goddesses destined to rule the world,
Yet with lives as ephemeral as a day
In the life of a mortal.
From the sunrise of our births,
To the sunset of our deaths.
Rivals we were fated to be for eternity,
For our differences separated us,
Like the relentless waves of an ocean,
further and further apart,
until we could not see each other,
in heart and soul.
Yet we are reunited,
For the hands of death
Has strengthened the thread of sisterhood,
The last connection
To bind us in life,
Dying and weakened though it was,
But still there,
And will always be there.
Sisters are we,
Artemisia and Arsinoe