Athens; Settling In

There was much for Medousa to learn in those early days. When she first began her training with Lysimache, her hours were more or less regular. She usually spent the hours between dawn and early afternoon in the temple district. Later, as she progressed, she would go to observe, or participate in, other rituals and duties, sometimes at odd hours.  And so, sometimes she missed her daily training with her friends.

Early on the morning of her first full day, Medousa went to the garden around the olive tree she had used for her prayers and meditations when last she was in Athens. She wanted to give thanks to Athena and prepare herself for her first day of training. As Medousa concluded her meditations, she was startled out of her composure.

“Well! Lookee here!”

Medousa felt a brief shudder run through her as she recognized the voice.

“I thought you’d left Athens, Missy.”

Medousa was uneasy as she looked up at Erectheus. There was something about him that seemed…hungry….

“Yes, I had,” she replied. “But I have returned to serve Athena under Lysimache, the high priestess at the Parthenon.

“Glad to renew acquaintances with you, Missy! It’s good to have you back! –I’ll let you get on with your ablutions.”

Erectheus spared her a wide smile as Medousa hurriedly rose and left.

 

#

Erectheus watched Medousa leave, a wanton grin on his face as he observed her retreating form. He settled back, laughing softly to himself.

Presently, as Erectheus sat contemplating the sacred olive tree, he noticed a small, grey owl, suddenly perched in the branches of the tree.

“Ah, if it isn’t my favorite Niece….” He stretched and rose.

A woman entered the little garden. She was very tall, and severely handsome, with chiseled, angular features, muscular limbs, and long, flowing dark hair. She had large, luminous grey eyes that seemed to shine from within. She wore a plain white chiton, with a belt of entwined serpents about her waist, one gold, and one silver. She also wore shining gold forearm bracers and greaves, and a strange, dark red, tasseled garment flung across her shoulders that, though worn like a shawl, seemed more like a breastplate or shield.

Erectheus nodded in greeting to her as she entered the garden.

Had anyone been there to see, they would have noticed that Erectheus suddenly seemed much younger and more muscular.

“Uncle,” the woman greeted him, smiling icily. “What brings you to my city today?”

“What? Am I not welcome in your domains?” Poseidon asked mockingly. “We are family, after all.”

The Goddess’ smile became even wider, and yet more unpleasant.

“You are plotting something,” she told him. “You are too much like Father.”

“My brother? You wound me, dear Niece.”

“If you were merely paying me a visit out of a sense of familial affection, why have I had to find you here, myself? Why have you not come to see me in my temple?”

Poseidon turned to gaze over the city and replied, “I have been walking to and fro in the city, and going up and down in it. Just seeing how everyone is getting on since having made their choice.”

“It was their choice to make, Uncle. We agreed.”

“The city should have been mine,” Poseidon interrupted. “These people live by the sea, and make their living on it, and they will become a great power because of it. This city should have been mine.”

“Uncle,” Athena spoke. “I have seen you lusting after my servant Medousa. And your passions are well known on Olympus and throughout the world. I warn you–”

“Oh, yes,” Poseidon cut her off. “I have been watching that one; for there is none like her on earth– a woman of beauty unmatched! A woman of martial prowess, and grace! A woman–”

“Poseidon.” Athena fixed him with a cold stare, her grey eyes darkly brilliant. “Medousa is mine.”

Poseidon smiled threateningly. “I will have her.”

Athena stepped toward her uncle. “She is mine.”

“As this city should have been mine?” Poseidon rumbled defiantly.

A spear was suddenly in Athena’s hand, and a golden helm upon her brow. “Have a care, Earth-Shaker,” she said in tones of thunder. “Great Olympus itself fell back in terror at my might the day I sprang from Zeus’ head, and the earth cried out fearfully, and even the sea was moved and tossed with wine-dark waves and white foam! The bright Son of Hyperion stopped his swift-footed horses when he saw me in my armor!  Do not oppose me.”

Poseidon flashed his niece a wicked smile.

“Have a care yourself, Athena; your words could be considered treasonous.”

“Medousa is under my protection,” Athena told him. “Stay away from her.”

Poseidon laughed.

“I will have her.”

 

#

Not long after renewing her acquaintance with old Erectheus, Medousa started noticing him here and there around Athens, and always just out of the corner of her eye.

Running down to the beach, he might be sitting in the distance, fishing in the surf. Or, in the market place, he might be seen disappearing around a corner, or into a shop stall. As Medousa went up to the Acropolis, he might be noticed leaving.

She couldn’t say why, but the old seaman impressed her as far more dangerous than Agis, or Gallus, or any of the males whose attention her beauty attracted.

 

#

On that first day, Medousa spent all her time being examined by the Parthenon’s board of governors. It was tiresome, dull, and exhausting. But necessary.

Later on, Lysimache explained the various festivals observed in Athens, and the daily rituals of the temple. But she didn’t overburden Medousa after her interviews with the board.

“Of course,” she noted, “You will, when you return to Sparta, need to familiarize yourself with your own City’s customs and ritual.” She smiled. “And now, go home. Rest. You look worn out with bureaucracy.”

 

About Michael Butchin

I was born, according to the official records, in the Year of the Ram, under the Element of Fire, when Johnson ruled the land with a heavy heart; in the Cradle of Liberty, to a family of bohemians. I studied Chinese language and literature at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I spent some years in Taiwan teaching kindergarten during the day, and ESOL during the evenings. I currently work as a faceless drone in a corporate call center, and am an unlikely martial artist. I have spent much of my life amongst actors, singers, movie stars, beautiful cultists, Taoist immortals, renegade monks, and at least one martial arts tzaddik. I currently reside in my dead grandparents’ house, alone, with an impressive collection of martial arts weapons, where I practice and train daily. I am not currently on any medications.
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