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”.

    A solitary candle on the floor clung to a receding life, still casting light, projecting mirages on the walls around us. I firmly moored my hands in hers and stretched our arms towards the front posts that bore the bed. She breathed slowly unto my skin, a gentle, gentle breeze. A firm thrust and she leant back, eyes closed letting out a soft wail, followed by another mild annoyance as she secured the grip I had of her hands by securing hers even more tightly, I watched the candle, this fickle flame fighting for us when she suddenly let go, enveloping her arms around my back and tugged me in, onto her. She opened her eyes and looked at me “please” she whispered “for me” she complained. I held my breath but she kept whispering “please” insistently and dug her fingers in my back. And I watched how red stearin ran down the side of the candle-holder onto the rug. I turned to her, she was smiling, released. “You are too many stars on heaven, you exhaust the vault” I said. She laid her self to rest in the pillows.

    “Gain” someone spoke muted. I must have fallen asleep. I looked around. The candle had died but some of that light that nestles its’ way from above had made its way down here into the Underworld alluding to daybreak. “What did you say?” she was underneath the covers, making a dent in the bed’s landscape. The linen moved a bit. “Again” she hurried. I took hold of her right leg and pulled her onto me from her hide. “Ow” she surprised. “You thought you were hidden, huntress” I leaned over her kissing her forehead, her eyelids, cheeks working my way down her chest bit by bit. “Tell me why?” I thought aloud “why are you are here?”. “Why are .. you .. are .. here” she repeated trying to make sense. “A little bit distracted” I defended myself. She pushed me away from her breasts into sit up and sat up herself. “You said something about the wild lord last night”. “What is she talking about” I wondered. “Oh” I realized. “Uh, Pan?” I tried. “Yes ... him, I’m from Arcadia” she explained “neeeever seen him”. “You me both I lived twenty six years in Thessaly and I saw nothing, I didn’t even believe in.. I mean, of course, but not me ...” I deliberated. “Not you?” she didn’t understand. “Yeah, to think they talked to me specifically” I said with some hilarity. “Who talked to you?” I started counting on my fingers. I ran out. “Everyone?” I said “been running errands”. “For Pan?” she questioned. “You are curious what he is doing?” I wondered. “I ask because you want to know why I am here and I thought maybe it coincides”. “I don’t know what you are doing yet, but I think it does, yes.” “So, you haven’t seen him in the woods?” I touched her side and felt a gentle alluring sting rush through my body. She tilted her head. I came to my senses. “You have never seen him” I coughed once “two ragged horns that go around and come back” I portrayed them from my own head "a wild mane with some small braids extending down on his chest” I ruffled my hair “much thicker than mine” I added “an amiable, young and very eager light skin visage with big eyebrows, long hairs on drawn-out upwards ears, he has a golden ring on the right side scapha, a bountiful yet styled beard, he is my height, he’s not skinny, but he’s not burdened either, on his left arm he has a bracelet of twigs, brown patched suspender pants, a sort of dark knitted jacket broken in many places, sown together in others, worn ankle-high boots of black leather, altogether a work of art, and, of course, he carries around this enormous shiny metal flute-like thing of interwoven pipes, leaves and branches themselves intwining a few green gems. It’s not solid but the mesh doubles as his shield. He is unmissable, if you haven’t seen him you’ve heard him.” “So this is him” she dreamt. “You see him?” I wondered. “Yes” she nodded “and no” she upset. “I’ve witnessed unusual gathers of animals converging at creeks or large trees without any seeming explanation” she explained. “Only sometimes this is preceded by faint music, maybe this is a giveaway, but, there are many lifeforms in the Arcadian forests and glens. Some nymphs and satyrs play instruments too” she nodded “and some of them are more elusive than others” she deliberated. “He knew me, even before the legion” I baffled. “The great Pan, huh” she envied. “Well” and she hesitated. “I ... had a” she continued only to pause. “Yes” I encouraged lifting her chin because she had lowered her head. “Go on” I wished. “It is not jovial, but ok” she nodded. “A scarce light in a night I was on a field where warm vicious winds threw the crops around me into submission and I stood there in its midst as the summer currents surged against my body. I am raised to run into storms, light and unhindered, so I could move, if only I could see where further. When I saw a shade an arrow’s flight beyond me, a woman in a black shroud that was caught in the current, only this distance away from me in the field. She stood there and sometimes she vanished only to appear again. Never have I seen such a sight, I thought, and I started walking towards her and when I did a voice coast my mind like the winds around me. Words arriving in melodic sentences, almost songs, it was spellbinding.” “You understood what she said?” I interrupted her. “No, it was something foreign” she said. “I started shouting but the wind didn’t carry me”. “I went forward trying to reach her, and I got anxious when the words suddenly stopped and there was only silence and the growing tempest. Then she disappeared in front of me entirely. I was alone, wind howling when a vision inside suddenly hit me with hurt. A vision. It was only an instant and it was gone. And I fell, inconsolably crying, right there in the field, shouldering a haunting sorrow.” “And then” she said lighter "I awoke in my bed, see, it was only a dream I realised, I was more than relieved” she nodded. “But” she said loud “I sat down at my desk and scribbled down this dream. And when I was done, well, I woke up again” she said. “Mysterious” I added. “Yes, what is going on, I thought”. “I went out of my bed and I went to my desk and there, there was a note”. “Strange”. “I reached out and I lifted it” she showed how she did with her hand. “Judge my surprise, it was empty”. “But when I lifted it even closer I could tell someone had lined words throughout the page, only without ink. But there was ... something”. “The traces were there. Unreadable”. “Woh” I worried. “I have had dreams too” I said “sometimes they do mean something”. Maybe I thought. “Maybe this was a hint what you dreamt was important, but not you writing it down?” I tried. Depends I thought. “What did you see, do you remember?” “When you say it like that I second guess myself, the, how do you say ... appropriateness” she juggled her stance. “Do I know who you are?” she considered. “No, I don’t” she solved. “We have been together for a little while, you have to believe in something” I tried to make her feel better. “I know I am Lysander” I took her hand.” “You don’t have to tell me anything, I’m here for you regardless”. She took a heavy breath. “I saw the golden garden burning” she stared into the void. What. “It shall sign the end of eternity” I shocked. “That is their plan” I erupted. I looked at her and she looked at me. She clenched her teeth “not if we have any say” she angered.

    “So that is, you went here for this?” “After this I didn’t tell anyone, I didn’t know what to make of it.” “I combed my hair, washed, sharpened a few arrows, gathered my things and went out to wander. Maybe I could hunt.” “See I love the wilderness, it is peaceful, it makes you forget worldly worries” she said fast. “And that day in the forest I also caught sight of a brown deer grazing in the distance”, “my luck”, “we need the food, sometimes, sometimes we need the pelt” she shrugged. “Nothing out of the ordinary, I took out my bow and charged an arrow, I lined the shot, I am a good shot, only the second before release a black bird tackled me” she looked at me “arrow went haywire, deer ran away, but the bird ... it flew around me in circles”. “It was a crow” she explained and measured a big wingspan with her arms. “So I seized another arrow and aimed for it”. No I thought. “Arrow scratched a wing, some bloody black feathers flew, and he circled me once again, and attacked me again, this time his claws clenched my quiver and, surprise, he took it, flying away in a direction”. “My quiver” she burst. “I went after, I am almost as fast a bird, not quite, almost”. “I followed this thief through the trees and we got to a thicket, a more dense grouping. I went through the foliage entering a glade and, ‘woha’, there was two people, standing there, they looked at me. I recognised one of them right away, Zoe, she is a huntress too, the man, no. Zoe held on to my quiver. She explained a crow had dropped it there.” “Who was the man?” I asked interrupting her. “A tall tanned person in a simple dark green tunic, a simple brown bag also and reinforced sandals”. “Thesus” she pronounced “he was at the festival last night”. “Oh, ok” I realised “it wasn’t him” I said to myself. “It was him” she insisted. “No, the crow” I said “it’s a God” I explained “I know him” I said. “Tell me about these two you met?” “Can you kiss me?” she urged “I guess I can” I leaned forward and kissed her lips. She is fiction. Sometimes she sends you away into another state, forgoing current time and room for another space where worries are forlorn, and it hurts a little realising this light belongs to her and cannot be taken, only given. “I feel better knowing it wasn’t just.. “this is all connected” I said surefire. “It is” she agreed “they had also had a cryptic sighting, and ... they supposedly met by a fluke”. “I don’t think it was a fluke” I said. “No” she shook her head. “We all knew we had to go to the Underworld, and I didn’t know the way, and Zoe has no idea of the way but Thesus, he has been here before” she hurrayed. “Can I sit in your lap, I am a little cold” she asked and she went up and sat her legs and arms around me. “You went here together?” I continued. “Ya” she said. “You are happy I moved up to sit here I notice” she laughed. “I’m the happiest person to ever have met you” I returned. “Zoe and Thesus” I asked and she grunted slightly “it can wait” she whispered.

    “What’s the craziest thing you ever did?” I puzzled. “Hmmm”, “what we just did” she giggled. “Come on” I said “oh ok” she hummed “killing the boar, everyone thought I didn’t, but I did” she said proud. “The boar? There is only one?” I returned and rolled on the sheets over on her tummy. “Calydonian wild boar” she spelled and ran her fingers through my hair. “Share, I am all ears” I wished. “This klutz king called Oeneus in the region Calydon”. “Calydon it is where?” “North of Patras” she made a map in the air “Aetolia if you are still lost” she marked the spot. “I know now” I listened. “I don’t know if it’s like this because I haven’t spoken to her since but it wouldn’t surprise me, come to think of it, because they say this buffoon, he is a buffoon, he had forgot to honor Olympia, and they were heathens anyway, so what happened is someone, they say Artemis of all, but she is nice so why I don’t know, someone released this huge wild boar that totally ravaged the countryside destroying vineyards, crops and ate people”. “Big pig destroying everything, sounds like the Persians to me” I humoured. “Yeah, so they had gather some talent to take care of this and this is where I come in”. “I’m an argonaut” she smiled “a huge group of us went there with some heroes they found in taverns and pubs, garrisons, what not, some knew what they were doing, and some had been tricked into doing it by others who didn’t like them, and they were in for a surprise, which was probably the point altogether”. “You tracked the boar?” I continued the story. She nodded and sneezed once and then again. “Me and Meleager, he is also an argonaut” she sneezed “we found it in a farm south of Calydon Fort”. “This was a big, big, boar” she marvelled. “We snuck around by the corn and we could hear it snivel and shuffle by the houses”. “There were some amateurs already there” she put a hand in front of her eyes “you wouldn’t believe”. “They ran around with pitchforks trying to, I guess, fend him off or something, that thing had thick skin” she nodded “you understand?” “So we could see from a distance these peons ran up and stuck the pitchforks into its’ side, maybe defending their farm, obviously to no avail, and what happened is, when it was done digging through the cabbage it actually noticed those people turning around, and they were trying real hard to be something, but this Calydonian boar it just lowered it’s head and charged one, and it had tusks like cavalry spears, so he was goooone right there.” “The others started running back and forth, realising this was maybe not such a good idea, and we thought we would intervene but having it riled isn’t opportune for a kill so we watched while it devoured them”. “Gross” she remembered. “It had big sharp bristles all along its’ back”. “Maybe they run around down here somewhere now” she looked around. “Probably” I said. “I’m sleepy” she yawned “I’ve been up alllll night”. “You have to share what happened”. “Oh la di da” she conjured “It went to a stream to drink, gave us an opportunity, poison arrow straight in the head” she nodded. “That was it?” “You bet” she shone. “Some didn’t believe we did it”. “So Meleager and a few other argonauts, I wasn’t there to know who, they killed these sour apples that wanted to rob our reward” she said “no one will miss them anyway”. “Plexippus” she spelled “share that name with your soldier friends”. “That’s the craziest thing you ever did? Killing that boar?” “He wasn’t a boar” she countered “Calydonian wild boar I mean” “Ah, yes, well, hmm, it’s up there” she contemplated. She sunk into the sheets.

    “Zoe is an argonaut too but she wasn’t there” she continued. “Theseus used to be a king in Athens, he killed the Cretan Minotaur” she wowed “woooooooooo” she made a ghastly noise “believe that”, “the minotauuur”. “He is also a bit of a big stupid, but don’t say I said that, he is otherwise nice, brave, strong and ... stupid”. “I’ve traveled with him for two weeks he would be upset if he knew I said that”. “But” she continued “he knows he is a big stupid himself so maybe it’s no offense to join the choir”. “Why is he a stupid” I chuckled. “Do you know this man that lives here, Hades” she troubled “yes” I laughed “he is the ruler of the Underworld” I said dumbfounded “there wouldn’t be anything without him”. “He has a wife”, “uh hu” she said, “Cora” she pronounced, “well” she scratched her head “Thesus had a friend, whose name I’ve lost, that thought it’d be a good idea to go here and snatch Cora, and big stupid listened to his friend and because there is a million different beings down here that abide to Hades it didn’t take them long to get caught, and they were stuck here in that jail part, until Hercules rescued Thesus, and was pardoned by Hades, his friend is still here looking at stalagmites eating little bugs that come wallowing around in the darkness”. “I met Hades a few times” I considered “I had no idea Cora even existed”. “I want to meet them one day” she adjured “you will meet both Theseus and Zoe soon” she said “he will tell you in detail about the Minotaur, if you ask him”. “Shaaaarp deadly horns, red burning coal eyes, big menacing nose, huuuuge arms, hands that can crush skulls, break swords, and the cute wagging tail” she recited. You’ve heard this before I gathered. “I am impressed” I said.

    I also sunk into the sheets. This day, it wouldn’t amount to much. “You” she raised “this night” “yes?” I returned. There was a wildcat roaming around your abode”. “It’s not an abode, it’s a house” I protested. “Abode, abode, abode” she said “you live in an a b o d e, you haven’t seen a house”. “What about the wildcat?” I said “you find wildlife in all the Underworld”. “Reminded me of Artemis” she looked in the ceiling. “She will always live with you?” “She saved my life, I owe her everything.” “What is she like?” I wondered, I told you about Pan”. “Oooo” she let out a whim. “She is the master huntress, she blends into the forest, invisible, you can’t see her, you can’t hear her, when she runs it’s like the wind, she listens to the wild gossip, she can lure, and trap, and she always slays with one arrow.” “She is invisible” I asked. “In the wilderness, not if she shows herself”. “And what if she does?" “Hmm”. “She is muddy, scarred, has broken clothes, and matted hair but she is so naturally beautiful” she said. “Like you?” I returned “I was at a festival yesterday, I fixed myself up and my hair is not matted”, “oh, you mean ...” an incipient smile emerged “thank you”, “and no, Artemis, is, something else”. “They are not here for the war” I said to myself. “I almost forgot what we have to do”. “Yeah, me as well, Lysander” she said. “Atalanta” I reached for a hand and divided her fingers.“I didn’t know they were gathering more hands for this” I continued. “This is everyone’s home” she said.

    “Are you hungry?” I realised I was. “Something easy” she returned “like”, “do you have rabbit stew, onions, diced carrots, diced potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, bay leaves, celery, butter, flour, red wine and ground black pepper in a bowl”. “I’m out of that” I excused myself. “Oh no” she lament. “I’ll have a loaf of bread” she settled “nothing, just plain”. “So you went from that, to this?” I reached for the bread I had in the storage. “I don’t want to be in the way” she took a bite “mmm durum” she realised “and cheese crust” she yayed. “You will never be in the way” I returned. “I have wine” I discovered. “Not drink” she opposed “my head, it hurts” she rolled her head around. “Of course” I agreed. I shut the storage and when I did we heard a slam of something heavy hitting a wooden wall somewhere close to us. “You often have fights here?” she asked. “It happens, but let’s go see” I slunk into my exomis, collected her things from the floor and laid it on the bed next to her.

    It was day outside, as much a day as it ever gets in the Underworld. My head hurt as well, I don’t know what they served yesterday, was it yesterday I worried. She came rumbling down out of the door, she had yet to exit one of the arms through her tunic and struggled with it. She looked up unbothered. “What is that?” she asked. “That is the noise” I said. Beyond us between the wooden housing where I lived, through the narrow gate where we go, was a small square with empty market stands, and here was a throng of people in a crowd. “Do you mind?” I asked “what if I need to protect you?” she opposed. I laughed. We walked up there holding hands. We couldn’t see what everyone was paying attention to, we could just see them: a hotchpotch of colourful figures. I recognised some as my neighbours, in chitons and day dresses, and there were some tetragons identified by the tabard above mail. We approached the group when a soldier suddenly flew head first into and through crowd. He landed on his side scraping against the cobblestone. It was an unarmed tetragon all bruised up, his white tabard was torn, his mail grimed, he got up with some difficulty and went back in. There was chatter, the crowd was talking, but beyond them was battering, there was a battle in the fray. I happened to identify Lekmas in the crowd “see him” I told her “he runs the cartwheel shop, he is nice”, “let’s join him” I grabbed her torso and set her on my shoulders in a swift move, she was very light, and so this was easy, and this way she could see above the crowd and tell me all the brawl’s details. I pushed us forward till we reached him. He looked at me, he looked at us, “aren’t you a giraffe” he said trying to contain his own humour and Atalanta made antlers with her fingers on top of her head. “Where is your better half from?” he put forth, I wonder too, but I said Arcadia. “What’s going on here?” I bothered him. “Immortals are getting humbled” he spoke and looked further in. “I see them all” she cheered “it is an unfair match”. “I can’t see anything” I complained. There was one of the stout bakers standing in front of me in all white. He had stains of flour on his arms and his garb. Maybe he just went out of the bakery to stand here right now. Made the best bread in the Chimera and liked it quite evidently himself too. Someone smashed someone and someone complained, the crowd applauded. “Oww” she said and looked at me. I still couldn’t see anything. “You can take my place” Lekmas suggested “I’ve seen enough” and he invited us in to the side. “See you tomorrow at the shop, right?” Then as if he realised something else, he looked at her on atop, “maybe not” he laughed. “Maybe not” I said “I was the last one there, I always work late, you owe me this”. “I don’t owe you anything” he returned “you owe Hades to win the war” he grabbed my shoulder and shook me “see you the day after tomorrow”. I fixed my sight through the crowd because now I could see. I counted three, four and five. Five tetragon surrounding a sizeable but not monstrous man, in fact, I think I had seen him before the night in the garden. The rich tanned arms and legs I recognised, this man had a black plate on his chest now with a gilded xiphos and dory crossed below a silver scorpion. Grey plate layers lined his shoulders and on his head long black hair swelled out of a dark helm with a metallic ridge and nose and cheek covers sheltering a sharp face and gleaming white teeth. He had three small blades stuck in his belt, two sheathed and one naked with bare jagged fangs. Myrmidon. He stood there in the middle surrounded, surveying. The tetragon circled him and sometimes rushed in, only short, and then went back again. Trying to tire him. He remained. Immovable. Two opposing tetragon then made the move to go for him from either side, they charged at him but just as they did he skipped deftly a distance and they flew straight into each other, shoulder to shoulder. “Ouch” she said. The crowd lauded. Another tetragon rammed into him and made him falter two steps backwards, he reached for the tetragon’s body but the soldier punched him in the helm, to which nothing happened, he grabbed the tetragon, lifted him and threw him away down so he tumbled around stirring gravel. From behind, a soldier now hit him in the side of the armor and the myrmidon grouched, he swung around and kicked the soldier so he fell backwards. The fifth soldier ran up and hit him in the stomach, two times and was pushed back. He went at it again whereby the myrmidon seized one of the two who had knocked each others out and sent him in a carousel around once, releasing him into a trajectory of the fifth soldier. He flew straight into him and lunged the two into the crowd where everyone fell to the impact. I laughed. She laughed. And the crowd laughed even more heartily. It’s seldom you see something like this I thought. He makes immortals look like beginners. One of the soldiers staggered over to him aiming a punch, the myrmidon lifted the unconscious remaining soldier and received the blow, it hit him in the back and he woke up. It hurt. He let go of the soldier who fell to the ground. The one who hit him swung again and the myrmidon dodged. So he went at it again. Another miss. She sat wildly punching the air above me, living the moment. “Someone like you, can’t hit someone like me” the myrmidon sorrowed. The arrogance of the strong is the might of the weak, watch him, I thought. The soldier braced another swing but stopped in his motion only prior to fulfilling. He realised his opponent had stood his ground. The soldier was surprised because he had planned another joining move and the myrmidon skulled his chest immediately down to the ground with his helm. Defeated. Lying there, he was in pain, reaching out with his arms outwards to see if his bones were broken. Three of the tetragon lay on the ground, two were still up and they approached him. One of them walked up, advancing, maybe thinking by now he must be tired. He skipped at him but in this motion a fist hit his face and he sunk at his feet. The myrmidon took of his helm, laid his hair back and put the helm back on. “Atlantis” he said and as he did one of the tetragon rushed into him so they both fell. “You don’t know when you’ve lost” he raged rising up claiming the tetragon by his torso throwing him into a wooden market stand that splintered into pieces. The myrmidon went up to what remained of the stand, picked up the soldier and threw him into another stand that also broke. The soldier complained in agony. He went for him again. A man in a dark robe scuffled his way through the crowd hastily on the other side and walked into the ring behind the myrmidon who had heard the steps, turned around to hit this new enemy, but the robed man parried the punch with his arm, raised his other arm and took a swift hold of the myrmidons throat lifting him up into the air. “Enough Eudoros” he surged. The myrmidon extended his own arms to try get loose, but the man just lifted him higher. “Ca..n..t b.r..e..a.t.h” he struggled. “Look around you” the man said, swinging Eudoros around above. “You are cruel” he continued “trying to teach these men for their own good, you believe, yet you don’t see they suffer, for your lesson is vindicated by your own conscience.” Eudoros was trying to release the man’s grip but was sat down to the ground again by him. The crowd was silent, even Atalanta was humourless. “We had a pact” Eudoros stammered. “Your pact, is with me” the man said and threw aside his robe. A radiant crown blinded the audience floating above the man’s head and his long blonde hair and long beard. He had a white cloak wrapped around his shoulders, white sandals, plates on his wrists and on his legs, and a grey armour on his chest portraying an endearing dragon with large eyes, shooting a flame from its’ snout, carrying enormous scales, four immense paws, raising two wings and swaying a tail with two spikes. “Ladon” I said straight out when I noticed it as if I was supposed to say something. It is the guardian of the golden garden. Eudoros bowed his head, “my liege” he said. The man looked at the crowd. We had all bowed our heads by now. “Help these soldiers up, patch their wounds” he commanded “and then go do something worth-vile”. People in the crowd ran up to the tetragons. “Where are the others?” he demanded of Eudoros. “At the Chimera” he answered. “At the Chimera” the man returned “at one of the garrisons, resting” Eudoros explained. “You were not entrusted this” the man spoke “for this” Eudoros filled in, “you interrupt me” the man said. “I’m sorry” Eudoros raised. “No, you are right” the man agreed “for this”, “this is a disgrace”.

    Atalanta jumped down from my shoulders and skipped forward down towards the Condemnation. “Let’s go to the walls” she encouraged. “Why?” I asked “it’s a long way, it’s towering and ...” . “Maybe I can shoot a giant from there” she raised. Of course. I smiled. Shoot a giant. “Everything is a little bit a joke to you” I put forward. “That man there” she hinted some distance behind us who remained talking to Eudoros “he isn’t” she said. “Rhadamantys?” I asked. “We need to win the war” she remarked sombre. “Let’s go to the walls” I fired up “yes” she advanced “I love you a little Lysander” and something burned my heart with intense pain only to let go. She had said it just like that, and now she was a few steps ahead of me leaving me wondering what happened.