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The Offering

By , Crewkerne, United Kingdom
There are only three things I know for certain. My Name is Aoede, I am in love with Klaasr and tonight we will run for our lives.

My mother's violent sob's shook my bed. My clothes were streaked with the river appearing from my dear mana's eyes. It was going to be hard to leave, but it would be better than being handed over to the mercy of a starved beast. My mother knew this, she always made a fuss. 'Mother' I cried, 'I will miss you too, but surely this is better than the sacrifice?'
Through stumbled tears she whined,'I know Aoede, can I not come too, I have little company and I can not bear to look at your father after this!'
'I know, I know... but I will not put your life in danger like that and you have little Pansy and Panther, he loves you, you know.'
'I suppose you are right, I will miss you terribly though, please come back when this is all over'
'Buuu...'
'Try.'
I nodded, knowing that I could never return. Tears streamed down my olive skin, I normally disliked the weakness of weeping but this seemed a good enough time for it, if any. My mother stood up, her hair was unusually unkempt and though her beauty was still obvious, occasional lines marked her taut skin. My father would pay for this, how dare he hurt my mother again, how could he put his own daughter's name down for sacrifice. Surely Poena, my most admired goddess, would understand my need to escape, surely punishment was only needed where crime was intended. I did not know for certain if this was the case, all I knew was I hated the man I called King, the man I called Father, the man I called Executioner.



I sat for the rest of the day, watching the rain fall and waiting for the familiar knock that meant it was time to leave. I had only told my mother and Flora of my parting, Flora is our maid and I am happy to say a good friend to me and Klaasr, I would trust her with my life and this is what I have done. I was up before Klaasr even knocked on the door, I ran in to his arms. Klaasr's eyes, like mine, were red from crying and he was not as strong as usual. I made a promise to myself, I would be strong, for Klaasr. I noticed the green in his eyes, usually a sign of approaching anger. He was headstrong and light hearted but when he lost his temper, which was only occasionally, his unholiness scared me. He would never hurt me, not like some men of our town, but just seeing the coldness in his eyes always managed to crumble away my happiness. However this is not a time for pensiveness, there would be time for this later, all I had to worry about was getting far away.



We treaded through the long hall slowly, mother knew of our departure, but if one of our maids or neighbours heard us they would be sure to report us. There were not many faces you could trust in a town so badly spirited. My father had destroyed this kingdom the day he became king, just like he ripped apart my mothers life the day he decided to leave her for Amalie. Klaasr lead me through the tumble of houses, dotted throughout the barren coast, their was something about the dipping valleys and clear plains that held a certain beauty in my eyes. It was something no-one, not even Klaasr, understood. He strived for rich land and exotic plants, he had always wished for a better life in somewhere lush and green like China. Maybe we would find a land that he would love, he deserved this, all I could really hope for was his happiness. After all I knew this was wrong, he was born to be great and he would be the best leader anyone could ever hope for, but my love for him meant I wasn't strong enough to give him up. Not yet.



The sky was ebony before we arrived that night. We had planned to be long gone before dawn approached. I would miss the sunset at Delos, the white of the sun reaches out every morning in a stifling stretch, it's energy releases the bittersweet of orange and red which pierces through the duskiness of night. The boat looked frail against the towering waves, I shook, not with the bitter cold but with sudden fear for our lives. I stayed close to Klaasr, enjoying the fact that he was here, with me. His breathing quickened as we stumbled in to the limp crate we would call home. It was only with Klaasr close that a rush of euphoria hit me, I had him, he wanted me and nothing in the world would stop us.



I woke up with an aching in my head, I lay motionless for a while. For once Klaasr's presence did not comfort me, what was I doing? I had left my home, defied the gods and endangered the only man I will ever love! I opened my eyes reluctantly, only to be greeted by Klaasr's anxious gaze. 'Morning' he whispered as he strode along the bister decking. It was more a statement than a greeting.'Definitely morning' I agreed. He stifled a grin, his chuckling eyes made me giggle and for a moment I forgot the world.




'Now sleepyhead, where do you want to go North or East?'
I pondered at this for a while, finally I declared my answer,'East' I said with certainty.
'You sound sure, I like the look of north' Klaasr stated, baffled at my confidence.
'Well the wind's blowing East isn't it.'
'If you're sure.' Klaasr muttered with aggravation, his stutters amused me. Oh he made me laugh, he always had to be right.




Klaasr sulked for a while, so I kept busy checking on our stock and admiring the clear sky. Then I saw it. Beyond the endless blue, was a small beach,it was hidden in between crags of rock the almighty cliffs shaded the coast well. Hiding the abandoned coast, keeping it's perfection unknown by travellers. If we had not been sailing so close we would never have seen it.




'Land Ahoy!' Klaasr shouted.




He took me by the hand and we stood at the foot of the boat marvelling at the morning light, celebrating our new found land. The boat slid gently on to the precarious land, my foot stepped on to the floor, pleased, if not slightly dazed, by the stillness.





We sat below the tall rocks, another night was approaching. We had spent all day talking and dreaming of a better future. The bed of sand was comforting, 'Good night Aoede.' Klaasr sang in his enchanting voice.
I turned to face him,'Sweet Dreams, Let's start on our new home tomorrow?' I asked, but his face was a mask of sleep. I sighed and let sleep capture me.





That night I dreamt I heard voices, the humidity was playing tricks on my mind and the sun swirled round before my closed eyes.




The next morning I opened my eyes wearily. As I raised my head, a whimper could be heard from behind me, I looked around wearily. Behind me was a young girl, she looked about my age maybe younger; she couldn't possibly be older than 18. Her head was bowed as if she were in disgrace, but surely that couldn't be, after all we had intruded on her land hadn't we? We stayed where we were for a long time, the only noise was Klaasr's steady breathing.




'Are you alright?' I asked timidly. Blood rushed to her face, finally she looked up to face me, I gasped, I had never seen someone so obviously upset. Her dark eyes brimmed with tears, I only finally realised who she was when she wiped her face, her hand was branded, she was a slave. In that second I felt so much sympathy for the poor girl, her need to run was worse than mine. Slaves were sometimes treated worse than animals, her life must have been so difficult. Obviously this girl wasn't alright, I stood up the girl cowered away from me. 'I'm not going to hurt you', I whispered, she looked up cautiously.




'Who are you?' she asked. Her voice was meek and she spoke carefully, so not to offend me, I guessed. I felt sudden trust for this girl, she was the only one who could truly understand my predicament, I told her all I knew.




'I am Aoede, Klaasr, my partner, and I, had to run from our home, Delos; my father, the king, chose me for sacrifice. I know I defied the gods in so many ways and I now regret what I did but the deed is done...'




The girl was staring at me, her eyes wide with shock. She obviously had not guessed my story. 'Oh.' was all she seemed to be able to muster. For a moment I thought our conversation was over. Suddenly, the small girl whispered, ' I am Pandora, I belonged to Theron and his wife, his wife was kind to me, but Mr Theron was...well...horrible. When his wife died I ran and ended up here, I have been here for a lunar cycle now.' The look I gave her must have been sorry,




'I don't need sympathy, ' she insisted, 'many people have been through much worse.'
'I know, but you do need a friend. Stay with us, for now.' She looked as if she was about to protest, 'For now.' I whispered. She turned to sit where she had been before. She sat like a hermit by the nearest rock, which mustn't have been much protection against the harsh sun. I looked at Klaasr's sleeping face, he wouldn't understand this decision, but what could I do, leave this girl to fend for herself. I had never felt so forsaken in my life.




'Klaasr.' I muttered, 'Klaasr!' I said louder. He turned to face me, agitation flashed across his face, 'We have a visitor.' He shot up.
'A visitor, who?' he demanded.
'Her name is Pandora.' I looked across at the girl, as if to tell him to calm down,
'What is she doing here?' He asked his tone calmer now.
' She was here first, she has been through a lot and she is going to stay with us.' My lips pressed tightly together, I hoped that I looked slightly intimidating. Klaasr was calmer than expected.




'OK.', he spoke softly and he finally looked approachable. I smiled, pleased that he had been so calm. I reached up and hugged him, I could feel him smile down at me.




Pandora looked up expectantly, 'What do you want me to do?'
'You can help cook dinner?' Klaasr replied.
'You mean you don't need me to do everything?' She asked bemused.
'Of course not!' I answered.
'Dinner it is.' Pandora smiled, a grin on her face. Her happiness radiated from her. Klaasr joined in the joyfulness I suddenly realised what I had to do. I had been so selfish and now I had Pandora to consider. I looked over at Klaasr's happy face, I couldn't ruin his future. But for now I wouldn't dwell on the conversation that I would have to have later, no, I would enjoy my last few hours with him. 'Are you alright?' Klaasr asked. I looked up forcing a smile on my face.
'I'm fine.' I answered, surprising myself with how happy I did seem. Klaasr took my hand, we danced around the kitchen, all three of us looking unnaturally frivolous.' Pandora seemed so different now she had finally been excepted. She laughed and joked with us, her cheeks were bright with enthusiasm and she seemed like an ordinary seventeen year old girl. I hadn't told Klaasr about Pandora's past, she would tell him when the time was right, but It didn't matter finally I felt at home, it destroyed me thinking that I would have to ruin it. That night despite all the jolliness we noticed that we were running out of food and that soon we would have to move. I would have to tell him tonight I thought to myself.




That night it took longer for the sun to set, by the time it had Pandora was asleep, she looked peaceful. Me and Klaasr were sitting under a palm tree, it had been quiet for a long time.




'Klaasr.' I started- this was the time. 'Klaasr you have to go, you have to go away.'
'Why.' He asked surprised, 'Do you need some privacy for a moment.'
'No, you have to go, for good, you have to get off this island and far away.'
'Why, I don't understand.'
'I don't love you anymore.' I whispered, I sounded fierce.
Klaasr looked paralysed, shocked, but he didn't look angry.
'It never made sense, I knew it didn't I am so stupid, I never deserved you.' He muttered, not directing the words at me, more to him self. That was the moment my heart broke, but I knew their was one last thing to do, before I could let the pain overcome me.
'Can you do me one last favour, please?'
'Anything.' Klaasr replied.
'Take Pandora with you, go to China, somewhere safe, somewhere you will both enjoy' -he had guessed about her background earlier that night; 'say she is your wife and keep her protected.'
'OK... but I will never stop loving you.'
'You will.' I whispered.





And he walked away.





All that night I cried, I soaked the sand so it looked like a swamp, I had never meant a single word I had said to Klaasr. Of course I hadn't. How could he have thought I was too good for him, I would never know. All I knew was that this was the best thing I could have done for him. If I hadn't he would have done nothing with his life.




In the morning Klaasr was ready to leave he had his boat set and Pandora was waiting to say goodbye, she had woken in the night and heard my sobbing, I had explained the untruthfulness of my words last night and how this was best for them both. She had been so understanding, I would miss her despite our short time together.




She stood on the deck of the boat, her cheeks soaked with tears and she waved, looking more forlorn than I had the day I left home. I hoped that Klaasr would fall in love with this kindly girl, they would be so well suited and I knew Klaasr would look after her. Whatever happened I knew this was for the best. Klaasr never looked back, maybe he never loved me, had I really made it that easy for him to walk in and out of my life? The boat disappeared. There were three things I now knew for certain.
1... I will never stop loving Klaasr
2.I will run for as long as I can
3.Eventually I will be found, whether it is by my father or death itself the outcome is the same.



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