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Elissa stood tall with a perfect warrior’s posture, hair pulled back into a tight bun. Throughout the ceremony her eyes stared directly in front of her as if she was bravely awaiting something that was about to come. But her face showed nothing. Behind her was the great statue of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, who stood the same way, except with a face that showed great trials that had been overcome. Soon Elissa will begin the rite of passage, and when it’s over she will also wear the same face as the goddess.
The time was getting closer. The village leader places the silver metal warrior’s amulet around Elissa’s neck, and tells her to come back when it has turned gold. As soon as the amulet felt the last touch of the leader’s finger tips, and the whole weight of the amulet was now pulling on Elissa’s neck, she headed out.
Elissa ran through the village easily while carrying her bow, spear, and sword. Wind flowed quickly along her cheeks like water carrying with it the voices of the trainees cheering for her, and the warriors wishing her good luck. Mere feet from the edge of the forest, Elissa skidded to a stop, and stood before the forest, holding herself, and shaking. A moment went by; Elissa breathed deep, and then ran across the border of uncertainty, into the forest.
Cites of birds chirped and sung to each other, caring only for the other’s company. The deeper Elissa got into the forest, the more her surroundings seemed to transform. The thick humid forest thinned and the air was filled with a light mist, and its dark green color turned to a light blue, from the light reflecting off of the blue surfaces of the rippling forest ponds. A waterfall sung to her, and it was a song she couldn’t bare to ignore. The song seemed to play into her head instead of her ears. It manipulated her emotions as if that is what it was designed to do. Elissa’s wondering took her to the song that could have easily had complete power over her.
The mist at the bottom of the water fall ahead of her thickened and rose like a mushroom cloud of smoke then dissipated. The waterfall itself seemed to crystallize into blue diamond, and somehow still kept falling. The beauty of it held Elissa’s eye until,
“Go away!” The soft musical voice suddenly turned to anger. A small figure arose from the water, like a blue water lily blooming to present its beauty to the sky, was centered in the forest pool. That voice scared her, made her feel as if she had just angered a goddess, just by simply being in her presence. The Water Nymph pulled Elissa’s vision toward her, away from the beauty of the falls. Whether it was from a magical ability the Naiya held, or by Elissa’s deep curiosity for her village’s stories, she couldn’t tell.
“I’m not helping any more of you!” The turquoise water nymph shook head and pulled at her long brown curls. The water seemed to follow her movements. Elissa felt like she was suddenly watching herself, in her own mind. She felt as if she could not handle anymore of her own abandonment and slavery. Still, she had to keep going, this is the only way she would survive.
“I will not leave until my amulet turns gold.” She said.
“Go away!” The nymph repeated,
“Turn my amulet Gold!”
“Only Taygete can do that, go find her and let me be!” And with a wave of her hands created a tsunami of water that disappeared into the air, just like the mist, and left Elissa soaked with cool water. A silence lasted only a moment, as it waited to be painted with the sound of crushed leaves reaching her ears from behind her. She turned quickly on her feet, and saw shadow running away from her. Elissa ran after it. She ran until her throat stung and her quickened heart beat begged her to stop. As a last attempt to catch the deer Elissa clumsily threw her spear at it in frustration, like a child. She leaned on her knees to catch her breath, and to regain control of her body. Keeping control was beaten into her since she came here, but she had to keep it. This was her survival.
“You won’t catch her, especially with a throw like that.” Said a man’s voice behind her. Elissa was shocked, no man came in this island.
“What are you doing here?!”
He laughed,”Don’t be afraid I won’t hurt you.”
“What makes you think I’m afraid?”
“They all generally are.”
“All of you who come in here.”
“Liar! No women on this island let a man come here and live!” Elissa yelled.
“I’m proof that they have.”
“Well I won’t!” Elissa pulled her sword and attacked. The man pulled his own sword and parried, knocking her sword out of her hand. Elissa felt ashamed of losing so quickly. Her attack was flawless, it was the same every women in her village was taught.
Suddenly the man had a hand around her waist, pulling her close. “And you’re the most beautiful to enter this forest.” He said and kissed her.
Elissa never kissed a man before, and it was then that she realized how powerful it was. She let him kiss her, and it was the only moment that she didn’t want to stop. It dragged on until the reality of her survival became stronger than his hold on her. She pushed him away.
“I have to find Taygete; Naiya didn’t tell me where to find her.” Then Elissa forced herself to run away.
“Tell me where Taygete is!” Elissa yelled stopping before the waterfall. The nymph rose out of the water.
“Why should I tell you anything?.”
“Because I have to survive somehow.”
“What do you have to survive for?”
“Taygete is the doe you were chasing.” The man had followed her.
Elissa sighed.”How do I catch it?”
“That’s the test isn’t it.” He replied, then walked away.
“Elissa.” Said Naiya who remained where she was.
“Make the right choice.”
Elissa went after Taygete. It was the hardest decision she had to make, and still something inside her screamed to go back. Eventually, that part of her won.
“My Beauty.” He called her, then kissed her again, and he didn’t stop. Her heart belonged to him now.
On the next morning, they were awoken on the forth day by Naiya’s demanding voice, “You swore faithfulness to me with every living breath, and I accepted your oath. So be it. As long as you are awake, you shall have your breath, but should you ever fall asleep, then that will be taken from you and you will die!” And left.
Her heart belonged to him. She did not leave his side that day. They waited together, until night fell and his breath was taken from him. It was the first time Elissa ever cried. The night wore on, a doe pushed open the stable door. Elissa ignored and continued to grieve. The doe walked up to him and touched his forehead with its nose. His eyes opened and he breathed again. That was when Elissa noticed the golden horns the doe had. She realized, “Taygete?”
The doe looked at her. Elissa fumbled with her amulet and clumsily took it off her neck. Still kneeling before Taygete, and shaken from her previous sorrow she asked, “Will you please turn it gold.” Taygete touched the amulet with her golden horns. The amulet was gold now, and Elissa put it back around her neck.
She had too, her heart belonged to him now. It wasn’t until after they were married, that he disappeared for long periods of time. He never told her why, but when he was home he never talked to her. She went looking for him one day, and found him with another woman.
“I took my heart back from him.” She told Naiya.
“So you killed him?”
“It doesn’t matter, Taygete will bring him back.”
“Yes she will always be there for her son.”
“I can only trust my fellow warriors.”
“You must go then.”
Elissa walked back into her camp and they all rejoiced and celebrated. She returned a stronger woman than she was before. She had passed the test.