A Fairy in the Town of Delphi

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There was a town, once, the town of Delphi. And born of this town were many prominent doctors and artists. The many gifted children led people to notice something unusual, for there was no child of Delphi deemed a failure. They flourished in the arts, they had a natural healing touch, and so, people began to look at the town of Delphi as a magical place.

Aries Benjamin did not believe that. But his sister Diana did. She, along with her parents, believed that she was a miracle, brought directly by the fact that she was born in such a magical place. Aries and Diana were born on the same night, as a man named Jupiter held the hand of a screaming woman whose ring did not match his own. "A boy..." he cried first. And then... "A girl?"

Not a girl, he protested to his barely conscious Latona. It was supposed to be twin BOYS. But the exhausted woman said nothing. There was nothing that she could say.

Disappointed, but not willing to relent, he gave her the name Podalirius, to match the name of her brother, as he and Latona planned. He was put off by the girl who giggled in her crib and invested far more interest in the little boy, who lay almost motionless in his.

Until.

Until one day he heard her singing, a song almost as beautiful as the Sirens. She had not been on this earth for a year. But she was singing a song with words beyond her understanding.

Jupiter picked up the girl and stared into her pale, pale blue eyes. They were large and at a certain angle, looked like the crescent moon. Straight ahead, they were full.

Perhaps this girl fit into his plans after all.

As she grew, Jupiter watched her, fascinated. She tried something new every day. When she was three, she was composing songs for the lyre he bought her. By four, she had surpassed him in hunting and he watched in amazement as the deer still ran up to her to be petted. When she was five, she was recognised for her impossible talents of archery. Latona watched her too, when she wasn't watching the girl's brother. It troubled her that as her daughter grew all the more talented, her son, her beautiful boy stagnated. He was a normal, healthy child.

A mother's relief. A father's disappointment.

Podalirius soon grew into a beautiful young woman, attracting lingering looks wherever she stood. But she was far more comfortable with the bow and arrow from her father than the flowers of a boy. She lived to hunt, under the protective sheath of a moonlit sky. The only thing Podalirius would ever agree to do for a man was go by "Diana". Easier to say, easier to spell, less time to spend with foolish boys, answering their foolish questions.

As she grew and developed her skills, her brother, with his handsome face and his curly blond hair and his golden eyes that sparkled in the sun, tried to find his own way. He wrote poetry, but his father said that no man would write without a muse. He tried to tend to the cuts on his father's calloused fingers, but he scowled and insisted that the boy's healing skills were unfit and disappointing.

So the boy picked up his sister's old bow and arrow and often disappeared into the Helion Forest. It was his sanctuary, when his sister wasn't hunting. It was in the meadow of the Helion Forest that he found the Parnassa waterfall, a small drop with clear waters that fills his ears with beautiful sounds. Sounds that made him smile and believe that he was not in competition with his sister, that he was just as wonderful as she. And the boy raced home with these good feelings, but didn't realise that with each step he took and every breath he exhaled, doubt pushed the thoughts out. When he made it home, he felt lost. The pleasant greeting his mother gave him was false and hollow. The smile his sister gave him was a mask, a distraction to keep him from seeing the coldness and resentment in her eyes. His father's absence made the entire house seem hostile and tense.

He went to sleep.

The next day, he went back. He had to. He didn't understand what had happened; he had just wasted time the first day. As soon as the sun rose, the boy ran out to the meadow and sat by the waters of the Parnassa falls.

This time, as he was so warmly filled, he noticed a small fountain in the waters, small but shaped like a large stone and so unmistakably a fountain.

His eyes brimmed with tears of happiness and he wept in the meadow because life was so beautiful. The songs of the birds were like songs of sirens, the deer at play danced to their chorus, and the butterflies draped him in a silk spider web, just for him.

He stood, ready to once again spread the word of his good fortune. But he knew that each step became heavier, each tear turned to sadness, each note became off key. And he stepped into the door, taking the bread his mother offered. The honey was bitter and artificial- like any semblance of the love she had for him. Diana touched his shoulder, but he looked up into hateful eyes.

He slept a little longer that day.

This continued until the boy was sleeping for almost twenty hours a day. His mother begged him to go to school, with undertones of his father's snide accusations. He was lifted from his bed, by forces driven by something so unfamiliar.

Diana left him at school, off to her archery club and lyre competitions. She studied to be a doctor, but her passions laid in her after school studying.

The boy didn't have any passions except the Helion Forest. His peers didn't understand. They couldn't imagine someone who wasn't interested in music or art or medicine. And they didn't understand that he WAS interested in those things, he just wasn't good at them.

They didn't understand him. But he promised his mother and he promised Diana that he would try. So he brought his harp and he brought his bow and arrow with him every day. He never saw improvement but he dragged it all with him every day.

So one day, he just didn't go.

Diana had already gone inside the school, so there was no witness. He stood there. And stared. Then turned. And ran.

The boy ran through the asphalt jungle, into the nature he was so familiar with. He ran into the Helion Forest, deep into the meadow where the deer fled and he fell to his knees and cried.

He cried and yelled and begged for his father to help him. Then he crawled to the Parnassa Falls and collapsed.

But a flashing light opened his golden eyes and he saw a deer chasing sparkles. A trick of the eye? Simple refraction? He blinked, but the deer was still trotting after this bend of light. It leaned forward and bit the light, causing a heartbreaking cry to ring in his ears.

The sun light warmed his skin and unleashed a fire that burned throughout his body. Instinct overcame the boy. Not one that he could explain, but he retrieved his bow and arrow, lined the shot, and killed the deer.

He gasped in horror as the deer fell to the side, its mouth glittering and shining.

The sound didn't stop, it only drowned out the music of the water. So he stood and walked over to apologise to the deer for the unnecessary slaughter and to bury it, so no other animal would catch the disease that made its mouth shimmer.

But it wasn't a disease.

A small, a very, very small girl, the no bigger than his hand, lay in a heap beside the deer's mouth. And she had wings. Well, one wing, one beautiful wing that fluttered behind her, covering her in an aura of sparkles. The other was crumpled and weakly twitching. <i>The deer grabbed it,</i> he reasoned.

He reached forward to touch- for this couldn't be real. No. A fairy, an injured fairy, could not be lying here before him.

But when he reached forward, she began to push herself off of the ground and a small voice cried out in his head.

<i>Kariolis! Do not touch me!</i>

He withdrew his hands and fell backwards. What was that voice? Was it... was it in his head? Did he imagine it?

“Did you... you just say something?” he asked. And immediately, he felt foolish. <i>What a stupid question.<i>

She winced as her damaged wing twitched and she fell again. She looked up and glared at him, which extinguished the fire he had felt in his limbs. He dropped the bow and arrow, the sound catching the fairy's attention.

She narrowed her eyes at the archery tools and began to crawl to the waters of Parnassa.

"You're... You..." The boy fell to his knees, dumbstruck. He was quite certain that the magic of Delphi that people spoke of involved no mythical creature. "You're a fairy."

Her little working wing sparked and began to flit furiously. She hovered a bit and he raced to catch her before she collapsed.

But the creature bit the thumb threatening to support her and he cried out.

<i>You again,</i> the tinny voice hissed. <i>It is not enough that you damn my best friend but you must also insult me?!</i>

"So you're not a fairy?" the boy asked, disappointment seeping into his voice.

<i>I am a nymph, the highest order of all fairies,</i> was the response. And as beautiful as she was, the glare on her face caused him to look away. <i>This answer was only a pleasantry, male beast, for I only answer to Lady Artemis.</i>

"Artemis? The goddess?"

<i>Yes.</i> Accompanying this was the first genuine smile he had seen in some time, from human or mythical creature. <i>Lady Artemis, who saves us from YOU.</i>

"Me? I'm not sure who you think I am," he confessed, "but I don't want to hurt you. I want to help."

<i>Of course you do,</i> her voice bitterly taunted. But she looked up at him uncertainly and stood.<i> Perhaps I was wrong... But Lady Artemis warns us of the... What is your name, boy?</i>

"My name is Aries Benjamin," he said quietly. "Son of Latona and Jupiter."

<i>"Aries"? Has no one ever taught you to be truthful to a fairy? This is not your name,</i> she accused.

"This is my name and nothing more," Aries argued.

She backed up, causing him to lean down for a better look.

She threw dust in his eyes.

"OH GOD!" He exclaimed, rubbing his face. she turned to flee, but he grabbed her and brought her to his glare.

The little creature gasped and struggled against his hand. <i>Surely he would not insult the gods and therefore this must not be him- my apologies good sir, your appearance is uncanny.</i>

"It's nothing," he assured her uneasily. "Just tell me why you're here... And tell me that I have not completely lost my mind."

He relaxed his hand and she grasped his fingers. <i>As I said before sir, I am under the call of Lady Artemis. She guides us and protects us from harm under the condition that we never stray into the day and keep from the calls of... Him. It was He who pursued my beautiful friend and turned her to that lifeless fountain over there.</i>

She pointed and he followed her faze to the small fountain he had seen earlier.

<i>The Fountain of Castalia, in the water of muses, she now inspires the poets of this world,</i> she whispered. <i>I come to see her from time to time but I fear I stayed out too late. It is the blame of Him. He brought the chariots of light early today to spite me.</i>

"Who is 'he'?" Aries asked.

<i>I will never again speak his name, she hissed. He is a foolish male and they are of no use to me. Like you.</i> She bit his finger again and he let go.

"Wait!" <i>Think, Aries, she's not going to make it far like this!</i> He reached into his satchel and retrieved a jar- a makeshift container that he always kept for the stray firefly. The light they emitted gave him comfort.

Aries lunged forward and caught the creature again, trapping her in the glass and containing her with the lid.

<i>What is this!? You dare hold me, a loyal being of Lady Artemis' will!?</i> She screamed, banging on the glass with her tiny fists. <i>I will have you devoured by all of the beasts of the forest for this!</i>

"You're not very chipper, for a fairy," Aries said with a grin. It was the first time he had smiled in quite some time. He liked the feeling.

She turned and glared up at him, but this time, he held her gaze.

She smiled quickly and pressed her hands against her prison. <i>Please kind sir. The animals of the forest need me. This place will wither and die without me.</i>

"I thought the wild was Artemis' turf." Aries realised again, that this was the longest conversation he'd had in years. It was a good feeling.

<i>Sir.</i> He could see that she was losing her patience. <i>It takes the efforts of all of us to preserve this life.</i>

"That sounds like something my sister would say."

<i>Your sister?</i> Her interest was piqued. <i>What is the fair lady's name?</i>

"You tell me your name first."

She leaned against the glass wall and crossed her arms. <i>How will I know that you will not- how is it you humans say- stalk me?</i>

"You're a magical, beautiful fairy captured in my jar. I don't think I need to stalk you."

<i>And you are a human. I believe.</i> She looked up at him and smiled. <i>I am Callie.</I>

"Callie? What kind of fairy name is that?" Aries asked with a frown.

She glared at him and began to hover. As she furiously clawed at the glass, she screamed, <i>Well, what human names their child 'Aries'!? It is a fool's name that will only bring about destruction! How dare you insult me!</i> She shuddered and fell, caressing her damaged wing.

For all of the amusement that Aries had before, concern immediately rose to his face when he sees the pain on hers. "You need help." Yes, that much was obvious. She needed him.

His eyes lit up. <i>Someone needs me!</i>

<i>Not from you!</i> She says weakly. <i>Lady Artemis...</i>

"I can help you, Callie, trust me. I can help you or I can leave you here, at the mercy of the woodland creatures you claim dominance over."

She faced away from him and hisses, <i>Broken by a lower being and humiliated by a human with a sily name. It seems I have but only one option and request.</i>

"Yes?"

<i>Kill me now. Smash this cursed prison and allow me to die with dignity.</i>





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