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Chapter 1 : Persephone, Caged spring.





I have been staring at these three doors facing me for longer than I can recall. Curiosity has been eating me from inside out, but I just couldn’t decide if the risk is worth taking. 

Until now, everything about this place has been bizarre. And as I weighed in all the possible horrors that would happen to me if I stayed here, I decided that cowardice wasn’t the way to go. 

I took a deep breath in. And with slow steps, I started heading towards the door facing me. 

The air hung heavy with dust and silence, and a bead of sweat strated making its way down my chest. Only one step to go now. I reached for the door knob, a rusty bronze. And I …

Where were you when Pandora opened that box? She could have used some of your willpower.”, a chilling voice echoed from nowhere.

My hand came to a halt, hung mid air between me and the door. The sound of my heart was tearing at my eardrums. I turned my head slowly, until my eyes caught her.

Nothing about her was intimidating per se. She was beautiful, and iridescent. But something deeply haunting was lying beneath her calm appearance. It radiated from the way she moved, a painfully slow pace, a dead silence and piercing eyes that were studying me from head to toe. 

One thing was sure; she knows something that I don’t.

You people usually get jittery after the Charon cruise. This is quite refreshing.”

With every word that she uttered, she took a step closer to me. But my body was no obeyer of mine and my tongue grew heavy with terror. I stayed put, lowering my gaze instead, praying for gods I don’t know if I believe in.

You know, I’ve taken an interest in you. Everytime I walked by this hall I made sure to check if you were still here. Thank god you finally moved, you were starting to fade into the background.”

She let out a long shriek. Shivers ran cold through my spine. 

The hollow sound echoed through my head, waking me up. I have to do something, anything, to save my neck.

“My lady, please, have mercy! Charon implied that my visit was expected, but he left any kind of details out and…”

She looked down at me. And for the first time, I saw a glimmer of sympathy in her eyes.

“Hmm, should I take you to the man in charge then, human? Perhaps he’ll help you figure out whatever it is that you want to know.”

A storm of thoughts was raging in my mind. Would she mean harm to me? If not, what would she gain from helping me? But by then, I was too desperate to get out of that place…

“- I… yes… I mean, would you do that for me? Would you take me to him?

Well, given our current circumstances, that would be me you’re looking for. My husband is fully booked, for two or three decades at least, give or take!

– Your husband?”

Her lips twitched, clearly amused by my confusion. 

“- Forgive my ignorance my lady, but I haven’t the slightest idea about who you and your husband are.”

She stared at me for a moment too long, then looked at her hands. As one would do when he wishes to hide whatever his eyes were telling. 

It’s alright dear, call me Persephone. I’ll tell you all about our tale as we stroll through this room. It is quite a long story.

She offered me her arm, and I held on to it. It was cold to the touch at first but we started walking and the warmth was setting in.

As you may have guessed by now, I am a goddess. daughter of two olympians. However, my birth is a happy memory for only one of them. See, father was a god of many powers. He was mostly known for his never ending conquests, at his poor wife’s dismay. And although he was intelligent and knew a plethora of words, one never made it into his dictionary. After all, who would ever dare to say “no” to the almighty Zeus?

One day, my mother caught his eye, and from that moment the pursuit was on. But Demetra isn’t one to be swayed with sweet words and kind gestures. He was her younger brother and as such, she knew him well. Despite his relentless efforts, his constant courting and begging, she kept giving the same answer, and he started to run out of patience. One day, he decided his ego couldn’t take another rejection, and he will get his way whether she likes it or not. I can assure you she did not like it one bit! She still gets bitter at times when that memory resurfaces. 

Fortunately, she never took out her anger on me. On the contrary, she loved me like no mother has ever loved her child. She was constantly looking out for my best interest, going to the greatest lengths to protect me by threatening and killing any possible menace to my being. She herself has seen how dangerous this world can be for vulnerable little girls, and she swore she would never allow anything of that sort to happen to me. 

It was sweet at first; the reasons behind her protectiveness were clear to me, but I was starting to grow bored and constrained, up there on mount olympus. Tending gardens and running through landscapes can only be fun for so long. I wanted to get out and see the world, and as it turns out, someone from another world took an interest in me.”

A small smile unveiled a fondness that I haven’t noticed before. And she carried on with her story: 

My Hades was always the shy type. People like to pin him as a bad guy in all of their stories; no matter who’s involved, he’s the go-to scapegoat. All because he runs the underworld! As if he tortures the souls himself. That would be way too much work to do…. But I digress. He came on mount olympus one time to attend some business, and I happened to be in the garden with some friends that day. Right place at the right time, although back then it didn’t seem like it. 

He took an instant liking to me, and he went straight to my father asking for his blessing. Granted, it is an uncomfortable conversation to have with your brother, but what can I say? Chivalry wasn’t dead yet back then. Father granted him the permission to pursue me and gave him a few tips of his own, saying things along the lines of “take her by surprise and show her to your world she would absolutely love it” or “whisk her away, she won’t know what’s coming for her”… All of his brilliant ideas involved abducting me while Mother wasn’t looking in some capacity, for he knew her rage would be boundless. And my poor suitor, seeing just how successful his brother was with the ladies, decided to take his advice to heart. 

That’s how my lovely evening spring came to an abrupt end with a blindfold and a hellish carriage ride to the world of the dead. And sure, Hades tried to make my stay alongside him as enjoyable as he could. He made sure to give me his most luxurious suite, with servants bearing foods and gifts daily. He was showering me with unprecedented love, unwavering under the swarms of hatred I was sending his way. He would try to satisfy all of my wishes, promising me everything but liberty. But nothing was enough to stop my wailing and hailing. I was insufferable and unconsolable. 

I spent most of my first week there banging at the walls with my weak fists, spitting threats and curses, calling him every name of the book. No matter how hungry and greedy I got, I would never accept any of his peace offerings. I have never spent more than a day without Ambrosia before, and the more I stubbornly refused to eat, the more unhinged I became. He even brought me pomegranates, my weakness, as a way to tempt me. It was all probably a ruse, I have heard before that consuming anything from the underworld would bind you there forever. I simply couldn’t give in. The only thing that kept me going was my rage, fuelled by my blind faith in Mother, that was certainly moving heaven and earth to get me out of there. And she was! 

I won’t bore you with details, but from what I’ve been told, she went berserk. Plenty are the people she trampled to find me, gods and mortals alike. And when she finally found out the truth about my whereabouts and couldn’t make Father get me out of there, for he was fearing Hades’ potential response, there was no mercy left. She held out the harvests, abandoning her work on the crops, and left thousands of innocents to perish. Her message was clear: bring me back my daughter, or else, no mortal would be left alive to worship the lot of you.

As time went on, I was starting to get calmer, and quietly accept my fate. Mother hasn’t swarmed the underground yet, nobody seemed to be coming to my rescue. Maybe it was time to stop denying the bitter truth. I started getting out of my room, despite my fear of the dead, and started wandering about these halls. I went to Asphodel fields and talked with newcomers and long-time spirits alike. 

They told me about their pasts. They shared with me their grievances and their hopes for future generations. And I watched the pearling tears at the mention of loved ones, bitter gulps of regret, crimson tints, as crimson as a ghost can get, here and there at the mention of past mistakes…. I had never known how much suffering one could bear in a single lifetime before conversing with them. There was so much more to the world than the endless spring I was accustomed to. How could I have been so blind? So ignorant? 

I now look back at my former self, knowing what I know, and all I feel is pity and shame. I used to be so weak and vain, it’s almost laughable. 

Ultimately, after spending so much time under the earth, I started to pay attention to Hades for the first time. 

His sunken eyes were what I noticed first; dull and devoid of any light, weary from reading names and looking around in this constant ruckus. Then, it was his infinite patience, not only with me and my frequent outbursts, but also with Charon and the Furies and everyone under him waiting for him to give out orders. Under his gloomy exterior, he was nothing but a lonely god, surrounded with nothing but darkness, monsters, and whiny spirits. Nothing about him beside his stature gave away his godhood. He wasn’t exuberant and reveling in his power like Father and the Olympians I grew up around. In fact, the only times some resemblance of life was breathed into him, were whenever I caught him gazing at me, in ways no one ever could.”

Our walk came to a halt. Persephone turned away from me, letting go of my arm. For a moment too long, we stood there in silence. I, staring at her long hair, gleaming in the light, and she, lost in the waves of her memories.

“I am used to being looked at, growing up a beautiful child”, her voice a soft whisper. “But there was something in his gaze I had never found anywhere else until then. He chose me, although in a rather unusual fashion, but he did choose me ultimately. To ease his loneliness. To make this hell hole a little more bearable. As I was slowly starting to get used to this idea, the war Demeter was raging up on earth was finally taking a turn. Zeus conceited to her demands and sent out the god Hermes to retrieve me from my prison. As word of my delivery got to me, a sudden realization dawned on me. The thought has been brewing in the back of my mind for a while now, but this return to reality made it all the more clear. 

The real cage that trapped me all along was the sheltered life I have led on Mount Olympus. I remembered who I was, running aimlessly through the gardens: an airhead. Just another spoiled princess parading in her parents’ castle, oblivious to anything that didn’t revolve around her. I couldn’t let this be. I couldn’t go back now that I have opened my eyes. I had to act on my feet and make it quick. I had to find a way to stay. 

I started ransacking my room, looking for the fruit of my salvation. And when I finally found it, I started eating the pomegranate seeds at everyone’s dismay. 

That forbidden fruit… I suppose you can relate to how sweet and tangy the first bite feels, how the more you succumb to temptation, the less you’re quenched. I ended up eating 6 of them. 6 heavenly bites of freedom. I thought it would be the end of it, how wrong was I. Mother wasn’t going to accept my fate and fought it with all that she got. In the end, she and Hades decided on a custody agreement, stating I would spend half of the year with her on earth, and would go on to spend the remaining months alongside my future husband. She wasn’t happy with this deal. And she stated her displeasure yearly by forbidding the trees to bear fruit and the grass to grow for the cattle to eat. Nevertheless, I was overjoyed with the situation. I wouldn’t want to bid farewell to her forever, no matter how hard I want my freedom. 

All and all, she feared the darkness, how it would forever taint my soul, but I have grown accustomed to the shadows by then. If my life had stayed an eternal spring, I would have slowly grown to resent its warmth, my existence would have gone stale. And I would have sought out the darkness myself. It gave me power and perspective on matters beyond my understanding.”

She looked my way, enticing me to pay attention.

“You know, there’s a great deal you can learn from the dead. Especially when your movements are boundless.”

When I reverted back my eyes in front of me, I found myself facing the same three doors from before. But this time was different, this time I knew what I had to do. 

Persephone is the queen of the underground, and her riddle skills are unmatched. My question was left unanswered, nobody enlightened me on my purpose here thus far, but something deep inside of me changed. I know now that my presence isn’t accidental, that the answers I’m seeking can only be found behind these doors. 

Taking a deep breath, I looked at her for the last time, then waving goodbye, I opened the first door and jumped right in.


Written by : Eya Belkhodja .

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Chapter 6 : Achilles, Valor and Vendetta.







The frame strikingly tall and intimidating, waltzing in reconfigures my senses; a stench of blood encapsulates all, though I seem to be the only one to notice, or rather the last to accustom to it.

The smell of strong hints of iron, rust particles in the atmosphere engulfing the area I was standing, and the eerie noise of metal clashing, I knew I was in for an intricately disturbing turn of events, one that I wasn’t ready to stomach: I found myself on the battlefield.


I presumed that after a decade of perpetual warfare, either side would relent and surrender, or at the very least fight with less valor and patriotism, it is common for the passage of time to dwindle hope and demoralize warriors, but not in the Trojan War, I fear. A grandiose display of courage and heroic sacrifice litters the battlefield, much like the countless corpses impaled with spears.

I never was one to indulge in the idea of warfare, let alone wish to witness it unfolding. I always found the resolution of conflict through violence seldom a path to ending a feud, but rather delaying it.


It appears I’m on the Greek side, and as I realize my stance, the hairs on my nape stand up, and I tremble, feeling the slightest gust of breath over my shoulder, an ominous presence hovers above me, but I dare not turn, neither utter a letter nor exhale, for I fear my fate lies in the hands of what ambushed me. A statue I become.

moments pass and an eternity of paranoia clouds my mind, I am but a prayer away from the river Styx, and I don’t understand the fate I’m bestowed.


« You bear no resemblance to a myrmidon, yet neither are you a Trojan. Where, then, do your loyalties reside? », the silence that befell me as soon as I petrified broke, the voice young, taut, and disembodied, but the tone trod the line between fierce and menacing. Inclined to answer, my thoughts race to implore my limbs to move, but trepidation courses through my frozen nerves, and dread holds me in place. I am but a still husk of a man, dare I glance wrong and I may meet my fate. Nevertheless, glance I shall, my eyes roll cautiously down, and a white silhouette captures my attention: wings.


Wings, even here, rarely turn up on someone’s heel, unless Zeus has something to do with it— and then it blinded me clear as a lightning bolt: those were Arke’s wings on his heels, Zeus’s something borrowed for Thetis and Peleus’s wedding, making their beholder the pinnacle of Greek warriors, the legend of the Trojan War, and the foretold harbinger of peace after a decade of bloodshed: Achilles.

Somehow, in the murk of my innermost self, a deeper tumult of anguish surged, and I recalled a verse wherein his name found sanctuary, which reads:


« Rage, goddess — Sing of the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles, murderous, accursed,  doomed, that brought the Achaeons great suffering »


How must I compose myself when faced with such a formidable presence, formidable yet daunting? Achilles was infamous for his uncontrolled burst of fury, only Patroclus could guide him back to reason with his wise words. As childhood companions, the both of them were inseparable, Achilles and Patroclus. The latter being the role model in kindness and wisdom, and the former in heroic attributes and combat valor, they were an imposing pair. At last, courage stirs in me a storm, and I find myself pivoting gradually to meet his gaze, his sharp, cold, preemptory gaze.


« I mean no harm. » I quivered. It seems as though the courage I amassed wasn’t enough to answer without traces of trembling in my voice. « I’m here to observe, not interfere. »


From behind him approaches a towering figure— a friendlier one than what I confront, though it be void of relevance, for Achilles remains peerless at that.


« Achilles, my brother in arms, hear my earnest plea, » solicits Patroclus as Achilles lowers his defenses. His focus shifts from glaring at me to attentively heeding his companion’s entreaty. Finally, I could draw a relieved breath.


« The time has come for us to don the mantle of strategy as well as valor. Your divine armor, crafted with such skill by Hephaestus, holds not only the strength of the gods but also a potent symbol to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies. As we stand against the Trojan hordes, let us wield not just swords and spears but also cunning and deception. Allow me, with your blessing, to bear your armor into battle. Let the Trojans believe that Achilles himself strides forth, while in truth, it is I who shall wear the gleaming bronze. In this ruse lies our advantage, a shadow of fear cast upon our foes, as they face the might of Achilles where he is not. Grant me this honor, my friend, that together we may achieve victory on the field of Troy. »


Achilles has abstained from engaging in battle ever since Agamemnon, the commander of the Achaeon forces, dishonored him. In earlier raids, Achilles captured Briseis and Chryseis, the latter of whom he surrendered to Agamemnon. However, her father, chryses, a priest of Apollo, intervened with ransom and the threat of divine retribution, compelling Agamemnon to release her. In retaliation, he seized Briseis for himself. With wrath coursing through his veins, Achilles lifted his voice to the heavens, his words resonating with fervor and anguish:


« Zeus, ruler of the skies, heed my prayer! Injustice stains the battlefield, and the honor that once bound warriors together lies shattered. Stripped of my due honor, I stand aggrieved. Yet, I beseech you, turn your gaze upon the Trojans, and grant them your favor. Let them gain ground, that Agamemnon may taste humility and I may reclaim my rightful glory. O Zeus, if ever my valor earned your favor, let vengeance be wrought upon those who wronged me. Grant me vengeance, O mighty Zeus, and restore my honor in the eyes of men! »


As Zeus answered his prayers aiding the Trojans in their advance against the Greeks led by Prince Hector, the situation turned grim, with more soldiers falling in arms. In the midst of this chaotically bleak scenario, Patroclus’s demand appears increasingly more justified, perhaps the most reasonable course of action.


« Patroclus, my trusted companion. » Achilles sighs with compassion, he knows the inevitable, and he comprehends the fate bestowed upon him, yet he acquiesces with a tinge of regret in his voice. Perhaps putting hubris before reason was unwise; maybe he ought to stand alongside his comrade in battle. Nevertheless, Achilles, pompous as he is, complies.


« I bestow upon you the privilege of donning my armor in battle. Yet, I beseech you, do not forget my plea: once you have repelled the Trojans from our ships, return to me unharmed. Your bravery is unmatched, but my heart cannot bear the thought of losing you in the fray. With this gift, I entrust not just my armor, but a piece of my own spirit to your care. May its gleam blind our enemies to the truth, may its weight fortify your resolve, and may its presence upon the battlefield be a beacon of hope to our allies. Promise me, Patroclus, that you will come back to stand by my side, so that together we may revel in our victory and face whatever lies ahead as brothers in arms. »


Patroclus, instilling trust in Achilles, dons his armor and charges forth with formidable strength. None among the Trojans dare to oppose him as he cuts a path through their ranks, and each who dares meets his untimely fate. The disguised hero successfully repels the nearby enemies. Proud, Patroclus basks in the glow of glory, and hubris, once again, trumps reason as an unfulfilled promise is disregarded. Pressing onward towards the gates of Troy, Patroclus finds himself ensnared in battle and Apollo removes his wits. Patroclus falls victim to the spear of Euphorbos, followed by the fatal blow from Prince Hector. As Patroclus lies bleeding on the ground, and as Hector strips him from Achilles’ prized armor as a trophy of victory over the cunning warrior, he utters his last words:


« You yourself are not one who shall live long, but now already death and powerful destiny are standing beside you, to go down under the hands of Aiakos’ great son, Achilleus. »


News of Patroclus’s demise spreads swiftly across the battlefield, and upon learning of his companion’s death, Achilles’ composure shatters, his muscles tense, his gaze hollow, enveloped in an eerie haze of grief. Slowly, Achilles’s world crumbles around him. Slowly, he turns to confront the remainder of his comrades-in-arms. As I stand there, I resign once more to the whims of the great son of Peleus, unsure of what lies ahead, uncertain of his reaction, knowing full well that his wrath may even affect those who stand by his side. And I, unfortunate soul, am burdened with that very fate. For Achilles, hearing Patroclus’s death rewires him, honor recedes in significance and friendship comes to the fore as he exhales with sorrow, consuming and profound:


« The man I loved beyond all other comrades, loved as my own life — I lost him. And now, far away from the land of his fathers, he has perished, and lacked my fighting strength to defend him. Now, since I am not going back to the land of my fathers, since I was no light of safety to Patroclus, but sit here beside my ships, a useless weight on the good land, I, who am such as no other of the bronze-armored Achaeans in battle »


Thetis, his mother, rushes to console the grieving Achilles, entreating Hephaestus to forge another set of armor for him, complete with an intricately crafted shield. His sorrow fleeting, his wrath bursting at the seams, Achilles unlearns restraint and his eyes sparkle with the lust for bloodshed. No grudge against Agamemnon, no swollen pride, no vendetta to reclaim honor, and no pursuit of glory or heroic deeds could ever eclipse what Achilles sought after the most; in that moment alone, Achilles, liberated from hesitation or uncertainty, consumed by a fiery passion to fulfill his one true burning desire above all else: vengeance for Patroclus.


At that moment alone, he unleashed a display of wrath unparalleled by any mortal, as if he had harbored it within his soul since birth, as if his destiny dictated that it would erupt only at this juncture in the war. Perhaps it was the gods who scripted this sequence of events in their celestial books, decreeing that Achilles must lose his dearest friend and embark on a merciless killing spree.


Yet Achilles did not contemplate such matters; consumed by rage, he transcended his own identity, becoming nothing but a harbinger of death to all who crossed his path. His once invincible hands are now stained with the blood of countless foes, the more he advances relentlessly into the enemy ranks, drawing ever closer to Hector — the embodiment of his vengeance — the sooner he fulfills his purpose and returns but a mere shell of his former self, devoid of all impetus and ipseity.


The river ran thick with blood. Angered by the defilement of its waters, the river god Scamander attempts to drown Achilles, but Hera and Hephaestus intervene, allowing him to rise unscathed and undeterred, pressing onward toward his sole target. Even Zeus dispatched the gods to restrain Achilles, so he doesn’t sack Troy before the time allotted for its destruction, for his unhindered rage seems to defy fate itself, threatening to rewrite the very will of Olympus.


Affronted, wroth, and deranged, a determined Achilles tracks down Hector, the subject of his smite. Once Achilles locates his prey, the wings of Akre aid him to catch up swiftly with the Prince. Circulating the walls of Troy, the vengeance-crazed warrior shouts:


« I shall ensnare you with your own entrails, coiling them around you like a scarf, tightening the grip until it suffocates you, until it feels like my hands around your throat »


The anticipation hung thick in the air as Hector and Achilles closed in on each other, poised for a clash of legendary proportions. Maybe it was here and now that the Trojan War vanquisher comes to light. Hector charges through the wind with his sword, fast, efficient, sharp, perhaps from fear of the debilitating force before him, perhaps with the help of his opponent’s trusted shield, he misses. The poor prince, not hearing the sound of metal penetrating flesh, seeing his famed blade not stained with blood of his most formidable opponent, accepts his grim fate. In seconds few, he shall be dead. In seconds few, he meets the consequences of murdering Patroclus in cold blood, and he understands those consequences will be severe.


« Hector— surely you thought when you stripped Patroclus’ armor that you, you would be safe! Never a fear of me— far from the fighting as I was— you fool! Left behind there, down by the beaked ships his great avenger waited, a greater man by far— that man was I, and I smashed your strength! And you— the dogs and birds will maul you, shame your corpse while Achaeans bury my dear friend in glory! »


Hector raises his gaze to Achilles as the blade penetrates further his chest, as the warrior stands over him, towering, terrifying, fatal:


« I beg you, beg you by your life, your parents— don’t let the dogs devour me by the Argive ships! give my body to friends to carry home again, so Trojan men and Trojan women can do me honor with fitting rites of fire once I am dead. »


Disgusted, Achilles grips the spear with both hands and twists it as Hector groans in agony.


« Dog! » Achilles shouts, still inebriated with rage. « Talk not to me neither of honor nor parents; would that I could be as sure of being able to cut your flesh into pieces and eat it raw, for the ill have done me, as I am that nothing save you from the dogs— such agonies you have caused me. Your noble mother shall never lay you on your deathbed to mourn the son she bore. The dogs and birds will rend you— blood and bone! »


On the precipice of death, and in a hopeless effort to frighten Achilles, Hector struggles to collect a breath, then proclaims:


« Be careful now; for I might be made into the gods’ curse. Upon you, on that day when Paris and Phoibos Apollo destroy you in the Skainan gates, for all your valor. »


Hector’s prophecy is cut short, and as his soul trickles down into Hades’s realm, his body’s fate is as grim. Achilles wrenches the spear from the corpse, sets it aside, and rips his stolen armor from the fallen prince. Not one of the nearby warriors flocked to the body and did not stab it mockingly, proudly, as if the war was already won, as if the prince’s remains shall never know peace. Achilles, perplexed by the Hector’s last words, was determined to shame him, finding solace in the lament of his grieving mother.


He pierces the tendons, from ankle to heel behind both feet, then binds them with straps of rawhide, lashing them to his chariot, and leaving the head to drag along the ground. Mounting the wagon and hoisting the armor abroad, the troops aside him follow as he charges onward and leaves a cloud of dust in his wake from the humiliated prince Hector, the once glorious and pompous warrior now reduced to a mere spectacle, being defiled in the lands of his ancestors.


The desecration of Hector’s body broke the once proud Trojans, their spirits shattered by the sight of his lifeless form being dragged behind Achilles’ chariot. The agony that envelops their ranks is palpable, a suffocating shroud that weighs heavy upon the hearts of all who bore witness to their prince’s downfall. And amidst that turmoil, the mother’s cries pierce the air, from the depths of Troy’s walls to the chambers of the royal palace, echoing the grief that courses through every corner of the besieged city.


And as the atmosphere of Troy sways between the landscape of murderous warriors driven by carnage, the humiliating display put on by Achilles to drag a dead man through the mud as you ransack your enemy’s motherland, and the harrowing sounds of a weeping family over their son’s departure and public mockery, I stood there more perplexed than I was when I came in through that door. Once again, stuck in the ebb and flow of tragedies that don’t concern me, I was frozen in place, pondering the same thought that I tend never to omit: what am I doing here?


While tending to that query I realized that I had gotten used to that overpowering smell of blood and that I now wasn’t terrified of Achilles anymore than he was threatened by me at first, a stranger ominously appeared amidst his ranks, perilously close to his most cherished companion. The more time I spend among these flawed gods and legendary mortals, the more I recognize the humanity in them, as if they hold a mirror reflecting our strongest desires and deepest flaws. What is Achilles but a man driven to fury by the loss of a loved one? What is Hector but a patriot willing to sacrifice honor to defend Troy, the land of his ancestors? What is Scamander but a guardian of what he holds dear? And mighty Zeus— What is he but the embodiment of desire for things to unfold according to his will?


In the end, gods and warriors alike are not immune to the passions and frailties that define the human experience. The Trojan War, too, was but a reaction to human emotions of control and greed, and the warriors and gods alike participated, each for the opportunity to bring glory to their name and nothing else. Achilles, with his insatiable thirst for vengeance, and Hector, with his tragic downfall, were but manifestations of the same emotional tapestry that weaves through the fabric of mortal existence. They feel love, grief, and remorse just as keenly as any mortal.


My prejudice of these mythical creatures has led me to unfairly judge Achilles when I met him, for it is not the legends etched in stones or the rumors whispered around that define anyone’s character, but rather their actions and the motivation behind them. And while the path to it may be fraught with peril and uncertainty, it is far nobler to embrace the human emotions within than to meddle with the ever-shifting currents of fate and fortune.


Although I had long forgotten the concept of home, a glimmer of hope lit my face as I gazed at the door materializing before me. Through its threshold, I caught a fleeting glimpse of a reflection of myself from before I came here. Perhaps another adventure awaits me, but an instinct within tells me home awaits on the other side of that door. And so, unwavering, I stride forward and step through.



Written by: Rayen Aouicha.

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