You’re surrounded by thieves in hats, tees and jeans. A match lights where your crew leans. Yellow mane styled in wax, some prince glowing in the dark marks our tracks. You're a lion when the sun sets, swift and strong without regrets, and your pride breathes in your steps.

    High intensity neons greet where beats flow through an elite on a street. A tatted youth pushing and shoving for room. Little child, carrying deadly signs and mottos of doom, you've been blastin Jay Z and BK all wild, but your watch isn't twelve anytime soon. You're just highschool karate under the shine of the moon. A hungry heart. A glowing start. You aint quite in New York but one day setting out without fear you'll make it anywhere.

    Standing out in the crowd in fights, all my friends are Romeos and knights, waiting for starfall shoulder to shoulder beneath the dustland heights. Above a club a light, fizzling in all white. It flickers a bit to meteor showers. A lightshow above the flowers. Bursting sidewalks. Walking the talk.

    An entrance shoots lasers into flying, and out flows a song of an ending world all mixed with lying. At the corner of Patagonia and twenty one a starlet is crying. She has the world in the palm of her hand all death-defying. Carrying to save humanity, how do you feel. And you kneel like a romance is dying.

    A windless whim admits evil sears and she asks amid tears, will you deliver the nation from its bond. Salvation lies in there where your Kingdom has corrupted and grown fond. We held hands midst the surging seas. Where a model swirls around a pole on a purple scene we slip between. Sifting through smoke by coyotes on coke when the music stops the chorus is shout all the way out. We raise her banner to fare through the hulking air when heated lamps summon a sun on a stage. A mingle of phones has a storm of torches shone into welcoming a new age. Rushing through our veins is broken chains - the mother of exiles.

    While all awake are not there for her sake. A Challenger pulls over by an army with rebel flags. Where they rally in rags headlights wash the crossing of life, a super clean cat passes without strife and a crow leaves a powerline with a fife when a sudden wind flows downtown with danger. Inside the heat swelters stranger to stranger:

    we make out in a wardrobe where no one will find us fly, only peril will pass us by, and when you let go the touch of your cherry lips suddenly hurts. A line's formed a ring of shorts and skirts. Fondling dust between hands, there are no other bands, no other lands. We are the tempest-toss'. Some guys push us across. Skeleton suits, metro cuts and hands with jagged rings. Counting down to the beginning of all things, to engage video game style, a type of violence so almost admiring. And we brush dirt and vile, yelling firing; all you have, is your shame, no one will remember your name. And it stings when a baseball bat swings. Senseis and rats are rolling out to kill. They're a long way for a little thrill. And some will sleep well tonight because we danced under the starry night's lights.

    We're all stars walking in under those flashes, raised in the fame they say we're features of a flame, we bolted freely under a summer rain, wondering, will we remain the same. We're so far up in this bracket sometimes when the sky drizzles a bit from the pain, you have to straighten your jacket. We awaited the morning to walk against the horizon. We're the patriots of Lexington and Concord.

    The large worn door shut reluctantly, the aged woodwork whined as it hit the frame, I had to shove the last bit in order to turn the key and lock up for the day. I was the last one there, I have nothing else to do in the evenings, really, so I stay at the workshop even when the others have left.

    Out in the yard a slight breeze fondled me, like the winds would do here in the Underworld, they would caress you almost like touch. It was Zephyr, instrumental in one of his trades, maybe games, he blessed the God’s world with a tender ambience. In the plains of Greece the blasts would bite, sometimes chill, like currents of punishment. This was different. I don’t know where the Anemoi reside, they don’t live here. Above the sound of cicadas was a slightly drunk laden man walking zigzag along the road down to the Chimera. He had a white flowing toga and sandals. In his hands were two goblets filled with wine. I think he noticed me in his haze for he had just stopped and looked in my direction. He burped loudly and proceeded to laugh at his own brashness. He lifted a goblet and drank some of the wine, then he waved me over. “Come ere” he said loud “why are you so much a dimly lit painting in this warm pleasant eve”. Quite conversant for someone to hit the drink, I thought.

    “Hello” I said “what can I do for you”. “Be greeted” he bowed. “Oh surely no need to bow” I returned, but I bowed back courteously. “No surely not” he humoured “You are not a God” and he laughed. “Well, neither are you” I pointed at him. “How do you know” he returned quickly trying to regain a focal eye of me and imitating me by pointing back at me. He was almost pointing at me. “Looks can indeed be deceiving” I concurred. “Yes, we cannot trust what we see down here” he scratched his chin. “But this unplanned and confused state of presence doesn’t normally entail the prominence of divinity” I vouched. He looked around and then back at me. “It doesn’t seem like I know what I am doing?” he asked and took a gander into one of the goblets now empty . “Well” I smiled “neither do I, anyone at this hour”. “I am” he set the goblet on the ground not intending to carry it any longer “actually on the way to a feast, the immortals are celebrating some anniversary, I do not recall what, but it is an excellent event to be at convenience”. “Hmm” I said. “And ... you are invited” he said quickly. “How do you know, you don’t even know my name” I said. “What is your name?” he wondered. “Lysander” I replied. “I know your name” he said. I set my hands out. A pause ensued and he drank some more. And then some more. I looked around. “Will you allow me the honor of yours?” I tried to make it seem natural to continue the conversation by aiding in the somewhat obvious. “Hera..kl.eitos, he stumbled some on the words but I could construe their constitution into an entity”. “Herakleitos” I said “this is a great name”. “What is a name but a title and what is a title if not a false idol, we should name ourselves as to portray our character” he returned. “Wow”, “well that would be ‘the one who makes cartwheels’” I humored. “Yes, yes” he nodded, “see now I know something about you, liberator”. “I”, “my parents were a bit grandiose”. “It is ok to be audacious” he defended “what is life if not to seek excellence in all pursuits”. I looked at my dirt-stained workshop clothes and brushed mud off my forehead “this is, you see now this is a bit ambitious, I’m a hand in a workshop” I said. “No” he shook his head “you are the backbone of the Lex”. Sounds like the Roman general giving us the you are the last line of defence, not a guy with a spear on a wall. Anyway, I liked Herakleitos, he was sympathetic.

    “Oh, so you know this place, do you work there?” I asked. “I know nothing” he said and stared into me. “Come again?”. “I know nothing” he said again. “Oh come on you know...” and he intruded “it is wise in the matters of knowledge to presume ignorance”. “The more you know the more questions you have” he joined “I like to ask questions” he beamed and then he suddenly coughed. Some of that wine had apparently got stuck in his throat. “Are you ok?” I worried. “Too little wine” he raised the other goblet into the air and then emptied it all so brashly it must have gone straight down his belly. “I am going here” he pointed “to the festival”. “No that’s where you came from” I opposed. He looked at me. “Right” he said. “I am going here” and he pointed down the other way, down the road. “Join me, cartwheel maker”. I had planned on an early rest but he seemed like too much fun. “They invited me?” I thought aloud. “No, but I did” he said. “You speak for them?” “Have you ever felt uninvited by the off duty soldier?” “No I usually invite myself and get thrown out, it is custom” I said. “Custom” he wondered “what are you from the north?” “No I am Greek” I returned. “Let us go” he said.

    We went down the road past the workshops and the little market that now lay empty and shut. The fishermen’s nets hung empty and the lamp posts along the way fought a fickle fight. “I don’t get thrown out nearly as often as I portray” I said to start the conversation again “most immortals are quite nice”. “So, you are not an immortal?” he asked. “My fate isn’t determined yet” I thought about Hypnos suddenly saying “make your ways”. “I make my ways” I said. “Good, the future belongs to those who believe in their dreams” he boasted. “Yes, or those who survive” I worried looking at the large towering Chimera with it’s daunting enormity. Atop a tower a few flags lay still, slouching along their poles. At night the road, only sparsely lit, was cumbersome and made you risk falling on stones and I was anxious about my newfound friend who walked a little less than that of straight forward. In the distance was a big house charitably lit with a garden of bonfires, shadows could be seen walking back and forth, some stood still and we could hear some chatter and faint, but merry, songs. Here we also happened on a few other folks, I say folks but trust they are a little more than folks, heading down towards our destination. “Do you know anyone here” I put forward to Herakleiton. “Do you ever know anyone?” he answered and continued “what if you are the only person in the world and we are only your imagination”. “Do you know anyone here?” I asked again. “Yes, some, hmm ... many” he said. “They kind of know me, I don’t know...” “Names, titles, I know, they are difficult to remember” “Yes” he nodded, “but I love people” he said “Alexandres”. “No, its Lysander” I returned. He pointed at the crowd who by now could be distinguished as beings by themselves and not mere shadows. They were mingling in a courtyard, a garden that seemed to stretch around the house and in this garden were some of those vines with red flowers that were so prominent around the finer establishments at the Chimera. The bonfires were fed with rich brown logs by soldiers in combat gear. They had some security it seemed. At a long table near the entrance was a collection of chalices filled with some dark liquid.

    Walking towards the table a really big man halted us in our steps. The man looked down on us and set his arm out so as to keep us from entering the grounds. “You are not of the Tetragon order” he spelled out “are you on the list?” he asked. I looked at Herakleiton. “No, but I shall kill you and then I shall go forth without your list” he said. I was stunned and envisioned my friend would taste the hard cold stone ground but to my surprise the big man lowered his arm. “I jest” he said “you are all very welcome”. “Good for you” Herakleiton raised. The big man chuckled. The dark liquid in the chalices wasn’t wine it was something else entirely, something reminiscing of what they had at Lerna Major. The nymphs enjoyed a better cuisine than us at the Chimera. It was like cherries, maybe, I hadn’t seen cherries in the Underworld so it probably wasn’t. “What’s in the drink” I asked Herakleiton but he didn’t answer. In fact he wasn’t there at all, as I looked around it was just me, the table and all those filled chalices. My friend had gone somewhere else. Maybe I would see him in the crowd only further me but many others were wearing white so he wouldn’t actually stand out in the mix. I guessed I was on my own. I took another chalice for my first was empty and proceeded out into the garden. It was a fair mix of men and women, I would say it was about the same. Tetragonian was mostly men but there were of course exceptions. Immortals on the other hand certainly evenly divided seeing there were many ways to be a soldier for Hades’ court. Between the bonfires that took a central spot in the garden were smaller fires where wild boars were grilled. On tables were plates with huge chunks of freshly grilled, marinated, meat available for anyone to grab a bite. They had seasoned it with white garlic, an assortment of different colored paprika, probably smoked, and then thyme. I am no cook but it seemed to be about right. I wasn’t hungry so I walked past but someone noticed me and reached me a plate just to be polite and I said “thank you, maybe later”. “Anytime” he rejoined. A slender man in a moustache and short black hair underneath a big white toque that looked kind of peculiar, but he probably liked it and found great pride in his outfit so why not more power to him.

    I wallowed through the sea of people to find myself a conversation. I was alone now but this was more exciting than what I had planned anyhow, and I’d definitely be alone without Herakleiton, so I was just thankful. And right as I thought about that I happened to walk into some kind of a wall because I almost fell backwards, but when I looked up it wasn’t a wall it was someone’s back. I had spilled the contents of my chalice right on his garbs and they were probably soaked, certainly stained. I don’t know how I couldn’t see him in front of me but I had walked straight into a person who stood in a ring with a few other guys. The person turned around and took a look at me. In the brief moment I had to get an impression I could see a very tanned Mediterranean native, he had a tunic that covered his chest, on his shoulder was a black trident etched into his flesh, his arms were three times mine and his entire stature about twice. He was smaller than the guy at the entrance but he had more refined lines. He didn’t move an inch when I crashed into him, and I almost fell, so it was probably only raw condensed strength in that body. He examined me for a few seconds as I put my hands out. He had black markings underneath his eyes and a big brown beard. I was about to say sorry when I noticed he braced to swing at me, I understood in that moment that he would knock my lights out unless I moved but in an instant almost as quick as that initial realisation a figure to his side tackled him to the ground. I looked at the rest of the gather and they just shrugged. They were more my size, more tanned, I was bleak, and they were maybe more fit, they had an assortment of markings and scars along their arms and legs, brown tunics with slings and belts with sheathed daggers. One of them still had a mail on him. It looked warm and he was sweaty. The guy who had saved me now stood up and helped the other, big, guy up too. He had long black hair and a trimmed beard, he too had a trident on his shoulder. In fact they all had. The big guy brushed off the grass and what else had stuck on his clothes from the fall and looked at me. His eyes burned like hot coal and he was breathing heavily, almost fumed. “Ant” he said “you walk around in Hades dumb, deaf and blind and I carry your dearth”. “What do you do? You have ten seconds to figure it out or I beat up all my friends and then you so badly someone will have to drag your wreck to the soul smith for a new beginning”. My mind raced. “I am Pan” I said. “I mean I am Pan’s friend”. “I lit a torch” when suddenly the other man stepped between and leaned forward. “Take it easy” he said calmly “Menesthius is not going to harm you”. I breathed. His eyes and eyebrows smiled when he noticed I was relieved. “You are not exactly Pan” he continued “how do you know him?” My ability to produce relevant language had been temporarily hampered but it was slowly returning to me. “Well” I scratched my head, looked around then back at him. “He helped me, said he was on some mission, it’s difficult to say because he is a bunch of character”. “He is the only Olympian here because he believes there will be a new titanomachy”. “That is what we do” the man responded. I straightened myself and extended my hand for his so as to greet him, maybe thank him for what doom he had saved me from. He straightened himself too, looked thoroughly at me then back at his friends and then at me. The he pointed at me looked at his friends and smiled. “Pan’s friend” he laughed. The others joined. “I have no idea what Pan sees in you but...” he took my hand “I am Lefos” he said. “Lysander” I answered. “Lysander” he rejoined “we are boring beings, you know” and he looked around and he focused on a few other gathers. “You go there instead, have fun and don’t worry” he blinked. I backed away and receded into the middle of the garden. Lefos turned to his friends and they seemed to resume whatever they were doing before my horseplay.

    I walked away, making distance in the garden, I thought instead of lingering here I’d enter the house so I made my way through the open when seemingly out of thin air someone suddenly grabbed for my arm. It was a light but determined touch. “That was quite a show you put up there” a soft voice said. I turned around and found a woman standing there right next to me. “Why how did you, where do you come from” I confused. “I am very fast” she said. “No you literally arrived from nowhere” I said. “Yes that fast”. I was stupefied, no one is that fast. She must’ve found it a little bit embarrassing. “Am I bothering you?” she wondered “because if so I ..” “it’s ok really” I interrupted. “I just couldn’t contain myself seeing that myrmidon enrage and you had no clue”. “Oh. Yes. Them ... right”. That was Achilles band, straight from Elysium, now it struck me. “Yea that was ...” when I ... my thoughts suddenly spun a thousand times as I got a look at her. She was slightly smaller than me with fair light skin framing a cute face and a pointy but not too sharp nose. Her eager eyes examined me. She had blonde hair that she had partially tucked behind her ears, but it still flowed down on her dark tunic that revealed part of her stomach. For someone so fast she wasn’t very brawny, instead she was very feminine.

    “Yes, they kind of rearrange your priorities before you get a chance to say something. I don’t even remember what we talked about” I said. She laughed. “So you are a new recruit here, immortal”, “ooooo” she bowed, “to stem the tide of those really menacing, grrr, foul, booo, evil giants” she put her arms out, made claws of her fingers and some face probably trying to imitate some kind of monster. It wasn’t that bad. Someone so beautiful can’t really look bad. “Nice impression” I said. “I’m a soldier, but not Tetragon”. “Well, not yet anyway”. “Everyone here is tetragon” she spun in a circle so gracefully I didn’t even know if she had really done it. “Do it again please” I said. “Everyone here is a tetragon” she said and tilted her head confused. “No spin” I returned. “Oh”, “oh” she nodded, “no”, she shook her head “I don’t do things on command” she shook her head again. “I guess that is ok” I reached out to touch her shoulder just to understand that she was real. Her warm skin radiated right into the palm of my hand and I felt some sort of consolation. Like there were no worries. I was unburdened. Entirely free. I let go and I was suddenly in the garden again standing in front of her. “What are you?” I wondered. “What am I?” she thought aloud “is this a question, I am a living being, just like you”. “Yes but when I touch you I feel something I never felt” I said “its strange, wonderful”.

    She laughed again. “See my hand” she said. She put her right hand straight at me. “You see it?”. “Yes, I see it” I returned. Then she swiftly hid her right arm behind her back “now you don’t” she said. “Now I don’t” I nodded. She laughed. “No, ok” she sung. “Here, again”. She stretched out her right hand at me. “And now you are going to hide it behind your back” I said “clever”. “Nah ah” she shook her head. In an instant her right hand morphed into a light brown lion’s paw with huge claws and fur. “Ok” I took a step back. “That is a trick”. I was about to reach out to feel the fur when it changed into a normal hand again. “I am a lion you see” she said and growled soothingly. I’ve seen everything I thought. “How do you do that?” I was beyond curious. I mean there was Minos and Rhadamantys but this was an unassuming yet gorgeous girl, a woman. She rearranged her tunic a bit. She had dark trousers that didn’t go all the way down and some kind of sandals. “That touch you felt” she said “when I married my husband, Aphrodite was so charmed by us that she blessed me the gift of becoming a lion at will ... and I carry her blessing in my blood, that’s what you felt, I think, yes”. “Your husband?” It wasn’t the most startling thing of what she said but “no he’s dead” she said. “I am too” I said. “Yes but I mean we aren’t together”. “Oh”. “Most would probably ask what is was like to meet Aphrodite” she made a crazy move with her finger. “Yes what was it like to meet Aphrodite” I returned.

    “So you ask” she said. She set her arms to her waist and thought for a second. “You don’t really meet Aphrodite it’s more an experience where you feel her presence in the room, it’s probably something like what you felt touching me but your entire being is consumed by unending love and admiration”. “Ok but you must have seen her?”. She nodded. “Yes she had small sparrows flying around her and then there were bees around her shoulders, cute small beautiful yellow bees that hummed, and she had a dress made of flowers and seashells”. “Hmm” she took a pause. “She wasn’t huge but still tall, I mean compared to me”. “And her voice was so alluring that she could probably say anything and it would make sense to you, basically when she talks you listen”. “I listen to you” I said. “Flatter” she blushed. “No this is different, it’s her embrace some kind of ... she is love in every essence”. I looked around. “You must be quite special, I mean don’t misunderstand me you are beautiful but so is everyone else here what made her choose you?” “Thanks for the compliment” she went sad. “You are special to me” I said. “Better” she smiled.

    We went to lean against a fence that cut the garden and a lake into two zones. It was easier to hear what she was saying now with some distance to everyone else. She threw a rock in the lake and it skid on the surface twenty something times. I threw a rock and it fell flat to the bottom right away. “Why did she choose you?” I asked. “Your rock” she laughed. “I don’t speak for her she is a God, you know, but I know something”. “What?” I wondered. “She is a nubile, Lysander, she never had a childhood and so that’s why she loves young beings - because it fascinates her of a youth she never had”. “Ok, that’s news to me...” I said. “And I was brought up by Artemis and she haaaaaaates Artemis so she was even more happy about that”. “Wait what, another God?” I said surprised. “What is your name ... are you also a God?” “Yes, I am Chaos” she said “fear me”. “Funny” I said. “No, really I am, if anyone is then I am” she braced her muscles. Then she got upset. “I am not a God” she said lowly.

    “I am a huntress, the swiftest one in all of the Aegean”. “How do you know Artemis” I asked “this is fascinating and I was like...”, “beautiful girl lets hit her up, yea I know” she said unimpressed interrupting me. She reached up and grabbed a few leaves from a branch. “I am of the wilderness, I was left to die by my King who also happened to be my dad”. “I’m sorry to hear that” I said saddened. “Why would anyone do that?” “Because I wasn’t a boy” she said and tears left her eyes and evaporated like in the same. “So I was left at Mount Parthemon on my own in some forest”. She looked around to see if anyone was listening. “I am listening” I said. She looked at me and nodded. “In this sometimes cruel world there is a guardian that tends to innocence” she pointed towards the Underworld’s stalagmites that extend all the way up there in the roof. “Above that” she made a pointing motion with her hand upwards. “Artemis” I resolved. “Yes” she nodded.

    “She is also the protector of the wild”. “Like Pan” I said “I met him”.. “she is the protector of the wild” she continued “and she can talk to animals, so when she noticed me she entrusted the mightiest and most brave bear she knows to take care of me, to bring me food, show me where there is water and protect me in her cave”. “You lived with a bear?” “I was only a kid and it was only for some time and this was”. “You ... can talk to animals?” I wondered. “No, I said Artemis can, I can’t” she lament. “Oh” I said. “Oh” she replied. “Not impressive then?” “It is, go on” I encouraged. “Artemis recognised I was born with an exceptional prowess for hunting and she sent two huntsmen to teach me everything”. “I didn’t get much love growing up in that sense, I am only an exceptional huntress” and she kissed my neck really fast. It didn’t send me anywhere else but it was so quick I didn’t have time to react. “Artemis favours you” I said. “She did”. “Not anymore?” She shook her head “nah”. “Because you had sex?” I said blunt. “Yeah, and I believe in love, she doesn’t. She is a little one of a kind”. “Her followers are taken by Aphrodite”, “let’s just say Aphrodite doesn’t believe in chastity and so on”. “Artemis does, she is the paragon of innocence”. “So they don’t like each other”. “I haven’t met them” I said. “No offence but why would you” she looked at me and then hugged me. I hugged her back and I felt a kind of resolution of complete and utter meaning arrive, feeling right at place. “You never told me your name” I held on to her. She laughed. “Atalanta” she said. “What is your name mysterious not-quite soldier yet dead in the underworld with immortals that walks into certain defeat and talks instead of runs”. “I am Lysander” I said. “I don’t move as swiftly as you do”. “I like this name” she let go a little and looked at me. I’m a simple soldier, but I’ve been here before, I thought, and I kissed her lips. It may have been remnants from that drink but her lips tasted cherry. We kissed again and again and again until she let go all dizzy. “So this is what you call defending the divine laws, making out with guests?” “It is” I kissed her “a little above my current responsibility”. “They all do but you just seem to have a good time” she was curious. “Those myrmidons breath battle and can’t stand staying around..” “Well now that I know them I suppose they are not enormous fans of the tetragon”. “There are more” I countered myself. She jumped. “More”. I kissed her. “I could tell you but you would run away from certain defeat”. She punched me in the stomach and hit my ribs. It didn’t hurt, it was just surprising. “I can defeat anyone” she said. I delved into my mind and returned. “No these you can’t”.

    We left the place after having laid in the grass making out by the lake for what felt like a short time, which probably means it was a little bit longer than that. For having an unusually tight tunic it was very easy to take off and I don’t get around nearly as often as I like making cartwheels so I am a little lumbering. I think maybe Aphrodite did bless her with a little more than lion form however. On our way hanging onto each other I passed a familiar figure. He was more enthused than last time we spoke, at high zest. He had a bottle of wine and spoke in front of a few soldiers who found his discourse entertaining, maybe educating, maybe just fun. He is fun, I thought. “What are the answers to the really big questions in life” I posed to him. He set the flask aside. “You mean what is the meaning of life?” he smiled “haha” he laughed heartily “my favorite, you see”... “this guy is drunk” Atalanta whispered to me and dragged me determinedly away. I could hear his voice recede in the night while the most important question I ever asked remained unresolved for the time being. “There are some very interesting figures in the Underworld” I said clinging on to her. “Everyone has a story” I continued. “Life and worth are indivisible” Atalanta returned. “I was alone in that forest, I was a nobody, and someone took me under their wing, raised me”. “Yes, now I am a story but I wasn’t” she said. “Artemis” I said.

    The door opened easily for once but when I volunteered to lift her through the door for fun, I thought, she jumped down. “This is probably what you always do, I can walk myself ” she said and smiled. “This is what I always do” I repeated. “Not tonight” she said from somewhere down the house. She was in my storage sifting through bread and vegetables and potions when I arrived in. What are these for she took out a bottle with what probably looked like a kind of sludge to her. “It’s if we get really wounded” I said. “Well, we wouldn’t want that to happen” she laughed. I lit a few candles around the house, one at the door, another in the small hall, a few in the bedroom, even more in the windows when I realised I hadn’t asked her what she was doing in the Underworld. “What are you doing here, by the way?” I asked. “You brought me home” she said confused. “I didn’t take you to the Underworld. You’re in the realm of the dead”. She sat down on the bed. “The real reason I can’t tell you, but the, how do you say, you were Roman legionnaire, right?” “Something like that” I responded “Ya, you say ‘something’ like ‘Rome is the light’, I am not good with words”. “They tell us that” I agreed. “I am not dead” she said and I sat down beside her, lift her hand and kissed it. “I am not dead, see, but I know, Hades is the only hope for this world”.