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The Lies of the Python
The towering titaness stands over me. Her eyes glare into mine as the court falls silent. Gods surround me. They eerily glance at each other as if they know how this is going to end; however, this is only the beginning.
Lady Themis’ voice crowds the chamber, “You, Xander the Defying, have been deposited here under the accusation of thievery and murder. The stolen articles in question include The Vulcan Mace, The Talaria of Mercury, The Veil of Mockery, and The Harp of Bewitching. The Oracle of Delphi had been found executed at your feet when you were captured. On your person held an ornamental mace crafted by Hephestus, Hermes’ Talaria of Mercury had been found damaged within your satchel, and The Veil of Mockery rested upon the head of your unconscious associate Griffin. However, The Harp of Bewitching once played by Apollo is nowhere to be found. This is a very serious accusation that can not, and will not be taken lightly.”
“Lady Themis, I am aware of the charges I face.”
“Do you? Murdering an Oracle, and stealing from the Gods is not a way to prove your humility. While you may have impressed Prometheus, you have not impressed me. Why should I not dismiss you now and allow you to spend eternity as Zeus’ plaything?”
“Lady Themis, there is a reasonable explanation for my actions!”
“Indeed, but I must start from the beginning of my defense.”
“Very well, but do not waste my time.”
“Of course… Approximately 6 months ago I arrived at Delphi. An attempt was made to speak to the Oracle, but of course, it can never be that simple. I arrived at the sanctuary at dusk after long hours of travel. The temple ‘Athena Pronaia’ greeted me as I reached my destination. I did as any other commoner would do. I traveled along the sacred paths to reach the temple of Apollo, and this is where it all began. This younger man approached me on the path. He wore a toga that hung to his knees, with a silver cloth strung over his right shoulder. He held a large spear. At the end held a tied strap, which I assume was holding most of his belongings.”
“Were there others on this journey?”
“At the time, no. It was odd, many people talked about the number of other travelers we’d meet on the path, but there was no one. Long story short, we exchanged greetings and set on the path to the Temple of Apollo. It had been advised not to travel alone recently, and there was no one else around. The sky had not yet gone dark, torches lit up the path ahead, and the land was sheltered by forest.”
Lady Themis’ leans forward to ask, “Was that the first encounter you had with Griffin?”
“It was. At first, I was quite curious as to why no one else was there, but it is a good thing that he was. If he hadn’t, I am unaware of where I’d be.” My heart begins to beat faster as I feel the weight of my story begin to drown me in a sea of skepticism.
“We continued down the path traveling further into the dense forest. The sky began to fade into a deep blue. It was clear, the only thing obstructing the view of the stars were the trees. The temple sat only a little ways away, but we could see it once the forest began to clear up. This ‘magnificent temple’ I had heard so much about sat in ruins.”
“Indeed, pillars had collapsed, rocks covered the paths, some blocking the path completely at times. However, we made our way around. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter too much as to how we got there, so long as we did.”
“Why was it so important for the two of you to make this journey?”
“I think you’re quite aware of why. My home had been destroyed not days before this trip and I had no other options!”
“Was this before or after you stole from the Gods?” The sound of thunder roared outside of the hall as Lady Themis’ voice pierced my ears.
I glance around the room noticing that the attention of everyone has been focused on me. My breath slows as my eyes dart around the room. As the tension has risen to an all-time high.
“You see, as we entered this temple I was greeted. Not by a priestess, but by a python. He informed me that hours before I arrived, the temple had been desecrated. The story went that a short stubby man arrived at the temple for a vision. He went on a rampage throughout the temple. Walls were torn down until the temple was a ruin. His eyes burned a radiant purple until he locked the oracle behind a cloud of mist. I couldn’t believe it, not until I saw it for myself. I ran into the center chamber. I saw a radiant woman, floating above this pedestal, she didn’t move or say a word. A purple mist swept across the chamber. The closer I got, the more of a force this mist applied until I could get no closer. The chamber’s torches went out. One by one until the only light that remained was the illumination emanating from the woman. The air became cold, I felt the scales of the python travel around me until it looked into my eyes. It released me from a trance that I didn’t know I had over me.
It spoke to me, ‘We mussssssstt go.’
By then I looked around to see the mist had grown larger so we made our escape. It was only then that he informed me of the task I had to undertake. I remember very little of the details. He gave me a mace and shoes. He told me the mace would stop any evil that attempted to cross my path, and the shoes would allow me to reach my destination. I was to set off further up the mountain.”
“This python just gave you two extremely ancient artifacts of the Gods?”
“I was unaware of the power they possessed at the time.”
“What happened to Griffin?”
“I am unsure of where he was after entering the temple. Outside however, he anxiously ran up to me. He said he lost me in the temple. He put on a hat. It rested on his head like a Jester’s hat would. His eyes were not as lively as before, but I’d assume it was out of shock and fear. I informed him of the python that I encountered. He had no idea what to make of it. Either way, I told him that we needed to find an artifact. The python told me that it was powerful. He said it would allow me to take control of the dark energy that surrounded the temple.
“Yes, we traveled up the mountain in search of some sort of plateau. After a few hours of travel, we finally found it. By that point, new rain had washed over the mountain. We were soaked. Neither of us spoke the entire time. On our way to the temple earlier, he was nothing but conversation but now, he was weirdly set on finding that plateau, but we did. No excitement, no passion, just a drive to find out what this would lead us to. My mace began to shine as the sky began to shine brighter. A red glow illuminated the ground around us as this creature emerged. Wings grew from its back as its eyes glowed an ominous red. It was taller than both of us and it began screeching. Its scream echoed between the mountains causing mud and rock to slide down their slopes.”
“Is this where your leg wound came from?”
“Yes, it attacked. I pulled out the mace that would supposedly protect us from evil.”
“Did it not?” Lady Themis glances towards a man on the side. He was bulky and his abs were exposed. On his belt sits an insignia of an anvil. He looks concerned, or maybe, confused. I am not sure but I can only see from my limited view.
“No, in fact, it did nothing more than what a regular mace would do. It gashed him, but other than that, nothing seemed special about it. It took a fair ten minutes until that beast dissipated. The shoes I was given began to flutter spontaneously as I began to rise off the ground. I latched onto Griffin in hopes I could reseat myself onto the ground but instead, it dragged him along as well. It got faster and faster until it got burnt out. We began falling, assuming we’d hit the plateau in pain, however, we fell only a few feet. We still came crashing to the ground, but not as we expected. The rain had faded, and instead of a plateau, we faced a tower- No, a beacon. Music echoed from the peak keeping time to the rhythmic pulse of the light’s bursts of illumination.
A gate stood before us, it wept out to us. Griffin reached forward to grab the lock but as he did, a bell resting on his hat had begun to glow and ring. The sound of the bell sent the gate flying open and sent Griffin flying back. He landed at the edge of this floating land. He clawed at the ground as he began to slide off, ground stick slick from the downpour. My boots kicked in once again, sending me rushing forwards to grab him just as his grip gave out. We approached this tower, welcoming in its warm embrace as the light engulfed us. It took only a few minutes until we entered. Inside there was nothing more than hundreds of stairs all spiraling around the circumference of the tower, and with that, we began our climb.”
“You’re aware that the tower you’re referring to was a resting place for Apollo’s missing Harp of Bewitching?”
Apollo crosses his arms avoiding eye contact with me. You can tell he’s anything but happy.
“It was not missing when we arrived. It rested on a pile of letters addressed to a variety of gods and goddesses, hundreds, at least. The harp was lighter than expected. The sounds it made as we tore it from the mound could’ve made nails upon granite sound appealing. It was made of gold, etchings covered it, different pictures wrapped around it. It told stories of the ages.”
Apollo now glares at me. The descriptions of his harp seemed to upset him extremely, making a god angry feels much more exciting than I once thought. “The light in this building began to flicker until we were left in darkness. The ground began to shake as we rushed down the stairs. Letters flew all around us as the tower crumpled beneath us until there was nothing but a small patch of land that we stood on, it fell soon after. The boots were furious at that point. I could feel its anger from within as it began fluttering, now out of force. Eventually, we returned to the ground below, once again now standing in front of the Temple of Apollo.”
The gods in this hall no longer stare at me with intrigue, now the room fills with the shrewd stares of those around me. Themis now begins to glare, you can tell fury rests within. I can’t help myself as a grin creeps onto my face.
“The python sat outside waiting for us. He expected our return and was quite thrilled when we did. We entered the Temple once more. It now sat in mud and rocks from the earlier events and storms that raged across this mountainside. The mist remained as I entered the center chamber. The mist began to wrap around me, not forcing me away, but instead drawing me forwards. I got closer to the oracle as the light around her began to dim. The closer I got, the more clear it became that it was no longer an oracle, instead, it was a beast. Its head grew piercing horns as its eyes darkened into blackness. Talons grew from its hands and it was no longer human. I was scared, my heart was beating out of my chest faster than my mind could process the monster before me. Griffin was then gone, he had been replaced with a second beast similar to the one morphed from the Oracle. The hat worn by Griffin now resides upon the second beast’s head. I reached for the Harp that I had acquired and the beasts roared! I ran my fingers across the strings. Instead of the beautiful music I heard within the walls of the beacon, there was a shriek. I felt the mist wrap around me until I plunged my mace over the beast’s head. It became engulfed in this mist until the other creature charged. In a fit of rage, I drove the back end of the mace and pierced the beast's heart. The screeching of these creatures resolved into cries of terror until I fell to the ground, the artifacts that were given to me by the python sat silently around me. The darkness grew, covering me in a blanket of endless void.”
“What do you remember after that?”
My mind begins to clear on the events until a maniacal smile stretched over my skin. “Oh, I remember. I had slain the beasts that laid before me and all I knew was that I was thrilled to embrace myself in the pain that laid across that chamber. I followed the python and accomplished my goals.”
Lady Themis held her breath as silence filled the chamber. Her eyes sharpened into knives as she slammed her hand down upon the surface in front of her. It rattled the hall as chatter amongst the gods raged. Lightning clashed upon the roof in anger until silence fell once again.
My heart begins to beat out of my chest. My head is becoming dizzy like my soul had just escaped my body.
“Your crimes will NOT be tolerated. You have been found guilty of the murder of The Oracle of Delphi and Griffin of Sparta. You will also be convicted of theft of four godly artifacts. Your story has not convinced me and you will be sentenced IMMEDIATELY. The mace of Vulcan had been found immersed in the blood of your associates. The ‘demon’ you encountered on the plateau was not a creature of evil, but in fact, an agent of Apollo sent to stop those unfolding events. That is why the mace did not banish the ‘evil’ as there was none. You have left a grave mark upon Delphi and you will be punished for it! Until the Harp of Bewitching is found, you will spend the rest of your mortal life serving those you’ve wronged!”
The sound of her sentences filled every portion of this hall as my head began spinning when the reality of these events hit me. Confusion rests in my mind as I try to piece together what has happened. Before I can ask questions I begin to get dragged out of the hall. My eyelids begin to fall as I feel the air of Olympus hit me. Just before my eyes fall into a state of subduing relaxation, odd sight enters my vision before it goes dark. A short, stubby man watches as I am dragged off. The familiar smile on his face leaves me uneasy, as his fingers strum across the strings of the harp held in his grasp. He waves goodbye as his mouth opens and the forked tongue contained within extends towards me until I can no longer keep my consciousness.