So you wanna know what happened… I used to be a normal person until I met her. Then everything changed.
First time I saw her we were young. I was a scholar in the town of Pedasus. Masters of my guild sent me to Athens for the scrolls which had to be transported from Greece to our lands.
While I was traveling over the sea I was wondering what the scrolls were about. As one of the emperor’s relatives I had my own escort and equipment for training, that made time fly very quickly.
When we got to the Acropolis, I saw a marvelous building. It was the temple. Beautiful caryatids were supporting the white temple. I felt smaller every time I looked at it. I knew we would find the scrolls inside so I entered.
It was evening and I saw nobody inside. When I got to the altar I saw a big statue of Athena. Even though she was not my goddess I admired the work of the craftsmen who made it.
I tried to find somebody so I walked around. “I told you Alcaeus, you are handsome, and I like you, but I cannot go with you”, a female voice was coming down the hallway, “go away now!”
I got surprised: “I’m not Alcaeus, who are you?” Then from a small room came a woman, she was so beautiful that it was hard to look at her, and not to look at her too. She wore a white dress which enhanced her perfectly tanned skin.
“My name is Medusa, I know what you want, I know what all the men want”, she was looking me as I did something to her. I was shocked because I was told the scrolls were ready to be taken. “So now you say that I sailed all the way here just to be rejected when I came so close to them?”, I was mad at her, but I kept my tone low.
“Them?”, she asked raising her eyebrow just as the snake raises itself when it is angry. “Yes, the scrolls of the waters”, I said. Her face got red, she started blushing, then she said: “oh, sorry, i didn’t expect you to be so… Never mind, these days they only come to see me or court me. The scrolls are here in the temple, let me show them.”
We were walking down the hallway. Light from the torches illuminated the way. When we got into the room I saw hundreds of scrolls. It was one of the largest vaults of knowledge in this part of the world.
“The scrolls of water, here they are, take them”, Medusa said, “do you need anything else?” I looked at the scrolls for a moment, and then I said: “I have never seen such things, this is fascinating! Have you read this?”
“No, cannot read them, and I simply don’t have time for learning”, she said, “I have to become a high priestess, and that requires my total devotion and purity.” I was so fascinated that I had to share why I was here: “these scrolls, along with four more sets make the scrolls of origins, they contain the knowledge about the beginning of the world. In Pedasus we have the scrolls of fire and earth. Thanks to you we only miss two other sets of scrolls.”
“Impossible, I thought it was lost forever, will you read them to me?”, she asked me. “I could”,I replied, “but it would take a long time.”
And so I stayed that night at the temple explaining her the content of the scrolls.
When I woke up I saw her in bed next to me. This shouldn’t have happened. I have fallen in love with a priestess. She woke up and she was in shock. “This shouldn’t have happened”, she quietly said, “I will get punished.” “For what?”, I asked her.
She stood up and got dressed, she explained: “I shouldn’t have done this, now I will never be a high priestess. Only a woman who has made a mistake, you have to go now, take the scrolls and don’t come here!”
I obeyed her, I took the scrolls and I got back to the house I was meant to sleep in. Our ship was about to depart in a month so I was wandering around the city and exploring its quarters. “Is it him, bastard”, I heard two women talking in the market. Soon everybody was looking at me. Then a man came to me. “You think you can sleep with her!? I’ll show you”, he tried knocking me with his fist, but I was quicker. I retaliated and I brought him down. And said: “it was just the scrolls I came for, idiot.”
I wanted to stop drawing attention so I went back to the house. When I opened the door I saw her sitting on the wooden chair. “I just had to see you”, she said, “I can’t get you out of my head. I hope I’ll be forgiven.”
“Forgiven? You know, our people believe that loving and being loved is a sacred duty”, I said to her, “there is nothing to be forgiven.”
She gave me a look so sharp that I felt it piercing my chest. She then said: “Your people, the ones here would probably stone me to death if they knew.”
“You can come with me, in a few weeks I will be leaving for Troad. You will be welcome there.”
“No, I cannot leave the temple, I cannot break my oath”, she started crying. I couldn’t take her with me so I promised I will come back when I do my job.
A month has passed and I had to leave her. My ship departed and my crew was eager to come home. The sea was calm all the way to our coast. And when we got to Pedasus we heard the bad news. Achaeans started a war against our people. The Emperor, kings and nobles started mobilizing every man able to fight.
I was also obliged to come with an elite guard because I was of royal blood. Defending Pedasus was a hard, in fact impossible duty. The enemy outnumbered us easily.
Somehow I survived the siege and ran away to the city of Troy. Troy was our last stand, refugees from all three tribes had come here seeking shelter. A large army was approaching from the Kolonae, the city where emperor lived. They couldn’t breach it without cutting us off.
Years of fighting made me stronger, bu then it all started falling apart. First Troy, and after a few days Kolonae, both cities were crushed. The remaining people have scattered to the east, west and south. I went with my cousin Annaeus to the south. There I was serving as a mercenary for more than two years.
When I finally earned enough money, I went to keep my promise. Athens was charted as a destination on my map. Nothing was the same. City has grown much larger than I expected. I somehow saw the former glow of our cities in it. It was night when I got there so I decided to sleep in a nearby tavern.
“You look like a tough warrior, why did you came to such a civilized place?”, a man who was drinking there asked me.”Believe it or not, I gave a promise and I have to see one woman”, I replied, “why do you ask?” The man looked at me, “Is it Medusa?”
I was shocked,I was wondering how could he know. I asked him: “How did you guess?” “Bah, you are a mercenary and you are looking for a woman”, the man started laughing, “you know, you don’t look like a fool, but you are hundredth who is trying to get her head, and you know… they all stand petrified in the temple now”
“Petrified, how so?”, I was wondering what he was talking about. “They say that one man tricked her and stole her purity. Some say he was Trojan, but some say that it was Poseidon himself. I don’t know, but from that day Athena transformed her. For punishment or protection, I don’t know. The one thing I know is that whoever looks at her gets turned into stone, that’s it”
He was clearly mocking me. I didn’t want to get provoked by him now. I paid him a drink and went to sleep. Next day I headed to the temple. Last time I was there, there were only female statues but now there were male ones too. Dozens of statues were standing in the hallway, and when I got to the altar I saw her. She had the same bronze tan on her skin, but her hair was full of snakes.
I stood still. “Nobody will see me! Not until he comes, and I know he won’t come! Nobody will ever see me again!”, she was screaming so loud that I couldn’t hear my thoughts. Then she looked me with the same sharp look as before. I couldn’t move. I saw a monster for the first time. My fingers started turning to stone just as the man said. Her loom felt more and more excruciating. The petrification started on my hand. The I saw it.
It was the same scared girl who gave me the scrolls. She had the same fears so she defended herself. Then I took a step, then another. She couldn’t stop me anymore. I walked up to her and the black snakes started crawling down her and eventually away from us. “I have come, I couldn’t break my promise”, I said while giving her a hug, “I wanted to come, but I was mobilized for war.”
“You, you are here, so you loved me, but you saw what have I become”, she started crying. “You are the same girl I left here long ago”, i smiled while looming in her eyes, “the look in your eyes won’t fool me.”
We were standing in front of the great statue of Athena, the bearer of wisdom. Who could have know that we will be together again. “Now go, I must wait for my punishment, the one will come to kill me soon. And I know now, I will die happy and loved.”, she kissed me for the last time.
I have left her there once again, this time I felt much greater burden in my soul, but I could forgive myself. U went back to tavern and I saw that man looking at me like he saw a ghost. I asked him: “So you wanna know what happened…”
All images were taken from pixabay
This is my original work, copyright restricted.