Still set in classical Greek times, but we had to come up with a new myth for mythology class. The new guy, Vetis, is a charrie of mine.
Somewhere above Greece
Hermes zipped across the sky, carrying out his duties as the Messenger of the gods. An unusual feeling of power drew his attention to the ground below. “That’s odd…” he murmured. “It feels more like what Father described the Titans as like than anything else I’ve ever felt.” Ever curious, he diverted from his course and flew to earth, alighting in front of the mouth of a deep cavern.
He entered it, not bravely, for he felt no fear, but with growing curiosity. After a time he felt that he had entered a larger cavern, though he could still see nothing. Lack of sight didn’t keep him from knowing that someone else inhabited the chamber. “Hello?”
“Greetings, Hermes, Messenger of the gods, son of Zeus.”
“You have me at a disadvantage, stranger.”
“I prefer it that way.” Hermes could almost hear the smirk in the stranger’s voice. “I’ve heard you’re quite the mischievous god.”
“I have been referred to as such, yes.” Hermes crossed his legs under him, letting his sandals keep him off the ground. “Does it matter?”
The mysterious being chuckled. “Quite. I wish to make a wager with you, god of thieves.”
“A wager?” Hermes now found himself interested as well as curious. “Do go on.”
“In all of time, there has been only one being who came close to winning the heart of your half-sister, Artemis. Orion the hunter, whom Apollo killed. Is this so?”
“It is,” Hermes confirmed, wondering where this would go.
“Here is the wager, then: I attempt to steal Artemis’ heart, in a period of one month. Should I succeed, you answer to Artemis and myself directly, instead of Zeus.”
Hermes eyes widened, both at the challenge and the price. “And should you fail?”
“Should I fail, I will submit myself completely to the will of the gods. You can feel my power. You know I could be of tremendous use to the Olympians.”
“This is true…” Hermes rubbed his chin as he pondered. In the end, his mischievous and curious side beat out the voice warning him against this. “All right, I’ll take your wager.”
“Marvelous.” Hermes felt a ripple in the air as the stranger materialized, appearing human, but disconcertingly inhuman at the same time. His skin was pale, like marble, and his eyes were a burning violet, shining out from under his black hair, which framed a face that rivaled Apollo in appearance.
This stranger extended a hand to Hermes, who took it on instinct. A queer feeling passed through him and dissipated immediately. “I never did get your name.”
“Vetis.” He smiled, revealing perfect teeth. “I’ll see you inside of a month, Hermes.” Then he was gone, as though he had never been.
Later that day, Artemis’ Forest
Dappled sunlight bathed the floor of the clearing, clearly illuminating the elk that fed on the vegetation. A hundred yards away, a beautiful young goddess drew an arrow back on her silver bow, sighting the elk. The instant before she released, an arrow whistled past her, striking the elk and killing it instantly.
She whirled, not sure whether she wanted to congratulate or kill the person who had managed to get this close to her without her noticing, and then stolen her kill. When she saw who had done it, all thoughts of murder were put out of her mind.
The man who held the bow had noticed her when she turned, and now had fallen to one knee, looking at the ground. “Forgive me, Huntress. I did not know you hunted that elk.”
Artemis approached him and tipped his head up with one end of her bow. His face rivaled her brother’s, and seemed comfortably familiar to her. And his hunting skill clearly deserved respect. “No forgiveness needed. Only a name. Who are you?”
“My name is Vetis, Huntress.”
“Where did you learn to hunt? No mortal has ever been able to steal a kill from me before.”
“I learned from my father, who would not tell me where he learned. Since I could hold a bow, I have hunted.”
Artemis smiled at him. “Rise, Vetis. You have this day earned the respect of a goddess.”
He rose, looking at her in mingled awe and respect. “Thank you, Huntress.”
She smiled again. “You may call me Artemis.”
This time he returned her smile, and Artemis felt as though she had known him forever. “Thank you, Artemis.”
A faint blush crept up her neck, though she wasn’t entirely sure why. “Would you like to hunt with me, Vetis?”
“I would be honored, Artemis.”
Three weeks later, on Olympus
“I tell you, Father, I do not like it.”
Apollo paced the throne room, his gaze fixed on the seeing pool in the center, which showed Artemis hunting with the mysterious human, Vetis. “We know nothing of him, yet he has won his way closer to Artemis than anyone since Orion. I fear I may have to treat this one the same.”
Zeus waved a massive hand. “Fear not, Apollo. Artemis learned her lesson from Orion’s death. She will not fall for another mortal.”
“Your arrogance always has been your weakness, Father!” Apollo snapped, whirling to glare at Zeus.
“And your insolence and rashness has always been yours!” Lightning punctuated Zeus’ roar, cracking above his head.
Apollo subsided. “Yes, Father…” As he turned towards the pool again, Hermes rushed in with an urgent message, and the three gods left the mountain together.
When the returned a few hours later, Apollo again commanded the pool to show him Artemis. The clear waters darkened, but no image appeared.
“Show me Artemis!”
The darkness remained. Apollo hurled profanities and obscenities, grabbing his bow and running for the edge of Olympus. “I will find her, and when I do, this Vetis will die!” He leapt from the mountain and took the form of a hawk, flying to earth below.
Somewhere between the Underworld and Earth
Vetis chuckled as he brushed a stray lock of Artemis’ hair out of her face. The beautiful young goddess slept soundly, a faint smile on her face. Vetis chuckled again. “All too easy.”
A noise at the entrance to his lair made his smile grow. “That will be Apollo, come to ‘avenge his sister’s disgrace,’ I’d wager.” He teleported to stand outside his entrance, behind Apollo, who attempted to force entry. “You can push all you like, that door is never going to move.”
Apollo whirled. “You! Insolent mortal. I’ve come to destroy you and avenge my sister’s disgrace!”
Vetis laughed at how predictable Apollo turned out to be. “Foolish god. Do you really still believe me to be a mortal?”
Some of Apollo’s fury changed into confusion. “Not… Not a mortal?”
“I am the third child of Chaos. I am Corruption. When I first came to be, I was helpless as a newborn babe. But every act of darkness made me stronger. By the time Zeus committed patricide, I was the equal of the Titans. By the time Pandora opened her box, I was the equal of the gods. Since then, I have grown still stronger. If you’re smart, you will accept that your sister is now my bride, and you will not attempt to stop me in my plans.”
Apollo’s face had paled. “This is impossible…”
“Not only possible, but true. Now, will you submit, or must I destroy you?”
“No…” Apollo drew his bow. “No! You have violated my sister! I shall end you!” He drew back an arrow, aiming at Vetis’ heart, and fired.
It passed through him as though he didn’t exist. “Young fool.” Vetis reached out and grabbed Apollo by the throat. Agony ripped through the god, and he cried out, writhing in pain, as he burned from within.
Minutes later, Vetis tossed aside a withered husk that had once been a god, looking much like a man who has just completed a hearty meal. He returned to Artemis’ bedchamber and found her awake. “I heard screams. Apollo’s screams. What happened?”
Vetis sat on the bed beside her. “He said he thought you had learned your lesson from Orion, and that he intended to severely punish you for this. I tried to stop him, and we struggled, and he forced me to kill him.” As he spoke, he reached into Artemis’ mind, very slightly altering her memories of Apollo to make the tale believable.
“No…” She wept, laying her head on Vetis’ shoulder and letting him soothe her. “Apollo… My brother…”
After a few hours, she calmed down and returned to sleep. Vetis walked into the main chamber of his home and sat on his throne. “Hermes.”
The god appeared before him. “Wow. You actually pulled it off. I’m astonished.” He offered Vetis a sweeping bow. “At your service, my lord.”
Vetis smiled darkly. “The first thing you are to do is to take a message to Ares and Hades…”
Several hours later, in Vetis’ throne room
“You’re mad. Even with the five of us, the others are too powerful.” Hades shook his head. “Zeus would be delighted with an excuse to destroy me.”
“Don’t be a coward, uncle!” Ares exclaimed. “We could do it! Vetis says he destroyed Apollo single-handedly, no challenge at all! We could do it!”
Hermes nodded. “And we would have the advantage of surprise. That has more weight than you might think.”
“I could incapacitate Zeus with my first shot,” Artemis added, “while we’re surprising them.”
“No.” Vetis shook his head. “Not Zeus. Athena must be struck down first. She’s the only one who could rally and direct the other gods against us. Bring her down first, and Zeus loses his wisdom and cannot defeat us.”
Ares nodded. “After Athena, who is next in priority?”
Vetis etched their names in the stone floor with a stream of dark fire from his fingertip. “I’ll handle Zeus. I want to save him for last. So after Athena would come Poseidon. Demeter, Hestia, and Aphrodite are all non-combatants. They could only lend their support to those that opposed us.”
“Aphrodite will assist us,” Ares said, chuckling. “Anything to be rid of that ugly husband of hers.”
“While I certainly wouldn’t object to you taking Aphrodite from Hephaestus, I do think I can recruit him. I know I can recruit Dionysus.”
“That would mean Poseidon is the only real opponent we face.”
“Exactly.” Vetis leered. “Easily accomplished. What say you, Hades?”
The god of death shifted in his seat, pondering. Finally he said, “If we do this… I could have Persephone all year.”
“Then let’s do this.”
Less than an hour later, on Olympus
Ares and Hermes entered the throne room, greeting the others as though nothing had happened. Ares went over to Hephaestus and began conversing with him, while Hermes delivered a small chest to Dionysus. A minute later, Dionysus was grinning like a fool and Hephaestus nodded to Ares. At that nod, a column of black fire burst from the floor of the throne room, spreading over their heads to blot out the sun.
Hades stepped from this blaze, smirking at Zeus, as a silver arrow flew from another part of it, striking Athena in the head. She collapsed as Zeus and Poseidon jumped to their feet. “Hades, what is the meaning of this?” Zeus thundered.
“Change in management, dearest brother.” A bolt of black lighting struck Zeus, imprisoning him in a cage of the stuff, as Hades and Ares both attacked Poseidon.
The column of black fire shrank and solidified into Vetis, in his true, terrible form. He stood twenty feet high, matching the mighty Olympians, and horns crowned his demonic visage. Large skeletal wings unfolded from his back, crackling with the purple flames that wreathed his entire body.
He turned his piercing gaze on Demeter, Hera, and Hestia. In Demeter he detected a strong will, and a threat. He destroyed her with fire. Hestia, however strong she may be, had no plans to resist this. She merely kept the hearth. Vetis spared her. Hera did not notice him at first, absorbed as she was in trying to free Zeus. She did not notice him at all, in fact, until his cursed blade pierced her heart, slaying her.
By this time, Ares and Hades had slain Poseidon. Aphrodite lounged on her throne, watching Ares. Dionysus still enjoyed the effects of the intoxicating drug Hermes had brought, and Hermes seemed to be enjoying watching him babble. Hephaestus had averted his eyes from the battle, and tinkered with some gadget. Artemis stood beside Vetis, smiling grimly at their victory.
Vetis approached Zeus, gripping his sword. “This sword was forged from the scythe of my nephew, Cronos. I will use it on you for the same purpose you used it on him.”
And he cut Zeus into small fragments and cast those fragments into Tartarus. He sank into Zeus’s throne, and it turned from gold to black, though it retained its luster. The corruption spread throughout all Olympus, and then began to leak to earth. Thus began the Age of Darkness.