Artemis' Secret

-"Neither let any woo the Maiden Artemis; for neither Otos, nor Orion wooed her to their own good." - Callimachus, Hymn 3 to Artemis

     The bottom of the volcano where Hephaestus’ cavern lay was filled with unending warmth, yet Artemis remained cold and stiff as ice.  “Artemis, my dear sister, why do you shiver so?  I assure you that you’re burden is safe inside of these walls.  What must I do to convince you of this?” Hephaestus observed her with utmost concern.

          The goddess sprang to life.  She handed the craftsman the hides he had requested and held her bundle even closer.  “My brother, you have been kind to me in my time of need, and I shall forever be indebted to you for that.”  A muted whimpering was emitted from the package in her arms, and she quelled it with comforting whispers.  She continued, “But as long as she remains in the realm of the gods, her life is in great danger.”  She revealed the sweet, serene face of her sleeping child to the god.  “Now please, hurry.  I must be gone by nightfall.”

          He admired her for her bravery, and her ability to remain calm when in danger.  After a quick glance at his work, he handed it to her.  She took it with the utmost care and looked it over.  The bow looked like an ordinary make shift bow, but she knew better than to assume the obvious with Hephaestus.  She thanked him profusely, and fled the cave, child in hand.

 ** Ephesus **

          The wind whistled through the columns as the head priestess stepped out for her meditation.  She made a habit of meditating before every major ceremony.  She shivered and wrapped her shawl more tightly around her person.  She looked up at the rising full moon.  As she allowed her mind to go hazy, she was swarmed by a feeling of panic and apprehension.  She brushed it aside; as she had already written it off as nerves when she was called inside for the beginning of the prayers. 

          The head priestess received the silver chalice offered to her by a pledge.  She placed it in the center of the altar, and awaited the moon to reach its full strength above their heads.  When it did, she looked in the chalice’s watery depths and awaited a vision to overcome her.  She felt the apprehension invade her thoughts yet again, and willed it to disappear.  It obliged, and the water in the cup began to shake.  Confused, she looked to the worshipers about her for an answer.  It didn’t take long to realize that it was the whole temple that was quaking.  The priestesses scattered in pandemonium.

 

          Down below, undisturbed by the shaking, an entire village was sleeping.  But the villagers were waking up, one by one, as the cries of the frightened priestesses drifted towards them.  Gregory and Magdalena, a young and childless couple, awoke in the middle of the commotion.  Gregory led his wife out of their room and grabbed his axe off the wall, just in case.  As they entered the front of their house, the sound of a crying baby reached their ears.  Despite the poor man’s attempts to stop her, she darted towards the sound.  He set the axe down and walked to where she was waiting for him to catch up; they opened the door to find the child on their doorstep.  The obvious newborn lay swaddled in cloths the purest of white, a rarity in the poor village.  The babe continued to wail and reach for the couple.  Magdalena didn’t hesitate for a second before pulling the baby close.  Walking out into the moonlight so she could see its features better, the child ceased crying.  She fell asleep with a soft, peaceful smile on her mouth.  The moon had shown bright, and seemed to dance across her face.  And as if they had been told by the gods themselves, Gregory and Magdalena knew that they had been blessed, and so they decided that she was theirs to cherish.

The End

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