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Leg Post 71 has the spartoi girls squabbling and fighting each other, mostly under the foul temper of Red. Only when the magical ship approaches the dock at Thebes do the girls stop fighting and steer the ship into port. Cadmus is eager to escape them and so he goes into the city alone. He first finds a weapons shop and buys a whole host of new weapons, including an uzi. On his way out he finds a strange, old man watching birds and realises this is the auger that Astarte sent him to find. When the old man jumps up, Cadmus drops his uzi, which blasts away a nearby fruit stall and scares him. The old man, however, is unperturbed and insists they hurry. In return for his help he wants candy, so they go to the candy store and get candy before, as the old man predicted, the store owner chases the milkman down the road for cheating with his wife. The old man reveals his name is Tiresias and initially tries to prove that he is a genius by revealing that the Earth is round, but Cadmus doesn't believe it. Instead he asks what he thinks is an impossible question but Tiresias is able to answer it and then proceeds to prove his calculations too. Cadmus is now convinced he has found the right man but Tiresias keeps killing random creatures with only a love of birds and a loathing for everything else. He believes they should travel to the Oracle of Delphi for help but he also knows there he will meet Hera, the wife of Zeus, but he cannot fathom what the interaction is. He also names Cadmus' ship as The Wind Waker. They travel around the Aegean Sea and through the mainland of Greece to reach Mount Parnassus where the Temple of Delphi is constructed. Cadmus and Tiresias travel up the mountain along with Orange, Pink, Blue 1 and Blue 2 but Tiresias keeps killing animals, such as hedgehogs and snakes. Orange tells a tale of a boy she once liked, much to the entertainment and encouragement of Tiresias. Cadmus is overly protective of the spartoi and keeps trying to stop Tiresias being too lewd in front of them, even becoming very assertive and mildly aggressive. They reach the temple and meet Sibyl, though she is reluctant to help because she wants to watch her soap operas. She eventually relents and uses blue powder in the eternal flame to invoke her visions. She reveals that Astarte is using Cadmus and his quest to further her own agenda in spreading Astarte's worship. Cadmus doesn't care, so long as she helps get Europa from Zeus. In order to do that, Sibyl also reveals that he would be attacking the whole island of Crete and would need an entire army and a commercial empire to do so. Cadmus despairs, seeing as he is nothing more than a farmer, but Sibyl asserts he can do it with help. She believes she should meet her friend so has no fear or devotion to the gods but first she knows that something bad is about to happen and they go to watch as Tiresias is still killing snakes, even against the wishes of the spartois. Suddenly Hera, patron of animals, appears in a state of wrath and almost flings Tiresias from the mountaintop but Cadmus pleads for his life and explains they came because her husband has Cadmus' sister. Hera briefly flares her anger upon Cadmus but relents. She is grateful for the information but still must punish Tiresias. In order that he might learn empathy by living the life of another person, Hera transforms Tiresias into a young woman. He is distraught as he knows that nobody would take him seriously in his chosen profession as scientist, mathematician and strategist. Sibyl is entertained and reminds them that they will soon meet her good friend, who brought her ice cream.

Post

The Aid of Tiresias

Pink: “Landslobbers ahoy! Time to get me some booty!”

Green: “Haha, butt.”

Red: “She didn’t even say—you know what? Imma kill you. Like literally. Right now.”

Red then grabbed Green by the hair and yanked so hard that Green started screaming with panic. The other spartoi girls all leapt to action, trying to tear Red away from Green without pulling out any more of the green-girl’s short hair.

Several spats ago, Cadmus had tried to intervene and keep the girls calm. He felt like he had been thrust into fatherhood without any of the pleasurable proceedings that would have gotten him ten daughters. He finally knew what it was like to be Yoshi[Ext 1] with a screeching Baby Mario[Ext 2] floating around in a bubble.

Then he stopped and left them to sort out their own squabbles. Navy, likewise, often stood by and watched as though she had seen these fights thousands of times before. Cadmus had no idea how old these girls were but he had a feeling they were some kind of immortal spirits. He took out a notebook and scribbled down a new line to add to the ‘petty scuffle tally’. Pink was one of the sillier of the girls who often ran about the ship making stupid pirate quotes, usually inaccurately, but when it came to fight time she dove into the crowd like a bull and kicked and scratched everyone, even Red. Red was like a limpet. Once she grabbed something she held on and became an immovable object, even with the other children smacking her. The two Blues stood back-to-back and pushed at both sides. Yellow was desperately trying to calm everyone down with crooning and plying words but everyone ignored her and she even got a slap or a bite several times for her trouble.

Violet had gotten Red in an armlock, taking the opportunity to assault the leader regardless of whether Green got injured or not. Purple, who Cadmus constantly mixed up with Violet, was trying to untangle Red’s fingers from Green’s locks while the final girl, Orange, was talking to everyone as though nothing was happening.

Orange: “You know, we should get deckchairs for the boat.”

Red: “It’s a ship, asshat!”

Red attempted to kick Orange but didn’t want to lose her purchase on Green’s hair, so it was half-hearted. Orange turned to Green instead.

Orange: “What do you think, Green? Deckchairs, am I right!?”

Green: “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!”

Orange: “And a mini-bar!”

Purple: “No underage drinking!”

Orange: “We don’t need to fill it with booze! We can fill it with Sunny D[Ext 3]!”

Yellow: “Ooooooh! Sunny D!”

Cadmus: “And maybe a bottle of brandy[Ext 4] for me…”

Navy: “We’re going to crash~~.”

She sang, amused, and everyone snapped their attention to the fast-approaching shore.

Pink: “I did tell you!”

Suddenly the crowd dispersed and the girls were climbing all over the rigging like little, bright spiders.

Red: “Get ya cunts in order!”

Cadmus: “By the gods, that girl’s language…”

Red: “If we crash, I’ll drown every last one of you and feed your corpses to cannibals!”

The ship came into dock and, just like in Tyre, the folk stared with wonder at the magical ship that shone like glittering stars. Cadmus leapt over the railing, not even waiting for the gangplank, glad to finally b e free of the spartoi children.

Pink: “We hit ground! Time to visit the taverns and grab us a wench!”

Red: “You don’t even know what a wench is, numbnuts!”

Pink: “I don’t have nuts!”

Red: “But if you did, they’d definitely be numb! Ha!”

Pink: “Only because I’m so cooooooooool!”

Red: “Holy shit that was bad. I’m not even angry. I’m just morbidly horrified.”

Pink: “I’m a funny fucker!”

Red: “It was so bad I think I saw my life flash before my eyes.”

Pink started dancing like a fool, celebrating her awful joke, while the other girls go about their ship-bound business of cleaning up and setting up. Cadmus stalked off. He didn’t care where he went, so long as it was in another direction.

Then he spotted glory. A weapons shop!

Cadmus: “Ho ho ho! Pappa’s got a brand new bag[Ext 5]!”

He considered that.

Cadmus: “Whatever that means.”

He came out with a whole new set of Egyptian weaponry, which consisted of several swords, a series of metal-tipped arrows, a long spear and an uzi[Ext 6]. He wasn’t sure what the last one actually was but it looked square and heavy and would club pretty well. He marched out of the store as a one-man-army and came across an unusual sight. In the middle of the road were a bunch of pigeons that were pecking at the leftovers of the human denizens of Thebes. There were no seagulls this far in land and they didn’t follow the Nile this far down from the sea. Pigeons, however, are everywhere. Rats with wings.

Near them was an old man. He was lying down, watching them intently. He wriggled a little to get a better look, worming along the dusty ground. He slowly itched his head, careful not to disturb the birds. While he carefully watched the birds, Cadmus carefully watched him.

Old Man: “AHA!”

The birds blasted off the ground, as did Cadmus. He dropped the uzi, which suddenly exploded in a shower of noise and rapid-fire projectiles that demolished a nearby fruit stall in a shower of apples, olives and pomegranates.

The man was on his feet while Cadmus was on the ground, head covered by his hands. Cadmus felt him ribs poked by the old man’s sandaled foot.

Old Man: “Come on then, youngster! Let’s get a move on.”

Cadmus peeked from beneath his hands, seeing that his weapon was fully spent and nobody was in danger of being riddled with holes. He looked up at the old man. The Egyptian was missing most of his teeth and his beard was patchy, trying to grow around the diseased skin of his chin. The hair on the top of his head had long given up but it was long and scraggly from the base of the crown, down his back. It was mostly white but with a streak of the old black hanging in there. His clothes were little more than rags that clung to his old bones and only served to cover up the rest of his dirty, diseased skin.

Cadmus: “I… I just knew it. Soon as I saw you watching those birds.”

Old Man: “Aye, I bet you did. I hope you have a lot of candy on your ship. I love candy.”

Cadmus started to his feet and got a better look at the supposed genius. First a bunch of argumentative children and now an old, diseased beggar that looked ready to drop dead at any given moment. The old man stared back.

Old Man: “So? That candy?”

Cadmus: “Uh, no. No candy.”

The old man stared at him for a long, uncomfortable silence.

Cadmus: “But… we’ll get some?”

Old Man: “Good to hear it! Let’s get to the store before it closes.”

Cadmus: “It’s the middle of the day.”

Old Man: “It’s going to close in about ten minutes when the owner catches his wife with the milkman.”

Cadmus: “Oh wow. The birds told you that?”

Old Man: “Birds don’t talk, idiot.”

Cadmus: “I didn’t mean told like… told.”

The old man stared at him.

Cadmus: “Nevermind. Candy store.”

Soon after they exited the candy store with a whole basket full of sweets they heard the sudden roar of rage from within. The milkman came diving from the second-floor window with his trousers around his head and nothing else. He ran down the street and the candy man burst from the shop door and chased after him.

The old man grinned.

Old Man: “I’ve been waiting for this moment for months.”

Cadmus: “To watch a guy get chased down the street?”

Old Man: “Of course not!”

Cadmus: “Oh, you mean to meet me.”

Old Man: “I mean the moment I get free candy!”

He waggled one of the sugary sweets at Cadmus before he threw it into his mouth.

Old Man: “NOM NOM NOM!”

Cadmus: “What’s your name, by the way?”

Old Man:Tiresias.”

Cadmus: “And you read birds as a living?”

Tiresias: “Reading? What’s that?”

Cadmus: “Uh… like… writing, but not writing in this case.”

Tiresias stared at Cadmus.

Cadmus: “You kind of freak me out a little bit.”

He continued to stare at Cadmus while sucking on a gummy worm.

Cadmus: “Maybe we should just…”

Tiresias: “HA! DIE!”

The old man suddenly smacked his foot against the ground to crush a cockroach that happened to be crawling by. Cadmus looked down at the unfortunate bug.

Cadmus: “Congratulations. You sure showed that guy.”

Tiresias: “Little blighter. The lot of them should be exterminated on sight.”

Cadmus: “Suppose they are creepy. Okay, the ship is this way.”

Tiresias: “Yes! To The Wind Waker!”

Cadmus: “The what?”

Tiresias: “Your ship.”

Cadmus: “I didn’t name it that. Actually I didn’t name it anything.”

Tiresias: “It already has a name.”

Cadmus: “It does? Oh right, you mean—”

Tiresias:The Wind Waker!”

Cadmus: “Read that in your birds, did you?”

Tiresias: “No. I just came up with it.”

Cadmus: “You just decided to name my ship?”

Tiresias: “Yes. It’s a good name.”

Cadmus: “What if it already had a name?”

Tiresias: “My name is better.”

Cadmus: “Good grief. Is this what a god’s help is like? Well, are there any birds you want to read before we go?”

Tiresias: “Read. You keep saying this, I don’t know what it is.”

Cadmus: “Read. Like a book. You see it and you understand it. In a book it’s writing, in birds it’s …. Whatever you do.”

Tiresias: “What’s writing? What’s a book?”

Cadmus: “Like… those pictures your people have, right? That’s like writing. Only we don’t have pictures. We have writing. In books. Here.”

He got out his notebook to show some of the notes he had been jotting down since his journey began. A prominent couple of paragraphs were dedicated to telling the difference between the colours violet and purple. Tiresias snatched the book and stared at the writing in wonderment.

Tiresias: “What is this!?”

Cadmus: “That’s writing. You’ve never seen writing?”

Tiresias: “But what is it? What does it do?”

Cadmus: “It says things.”

Tiresias jolted away from the paper.

Tiresias: “It speaks!?”

Cadmus: “No! No! Look. Like this part. It says, ‘roses are red…’.”

Cadmus glanced up.

Cadmus: “Actually, why did I write that? Roses are nice. Red is not. Anyway…”

He put his finger to the words.

Cadmus: “’Violets are blue’… wait…. No they’re not. Violets are violet, that’s why they’re called violets. Why the hell did I write this? This is stupid!”

Tiresias: “This. Is. AMAZING!”

He danced around with the notebook in his hands. The papyrus ruffled limply between the old man’s palms and Cadmus worried he was going to tear the thing apart. Papyrus, or paper as the cool kids called it, was not cheap at all. The old man suddenly turned on Cadmus.

Tiresias: “I want to learn to read!”

Cadmus: “I can teach you to write too, if you’d like?”

Tiresias: “Yeeees! I shall be a genius!”

Cadmus: “Hold on, Astarte told me you already are a genius!”

Tiresias: “I am!? I am! I am a genius! I shall be even more of a genius with this writing book!”

Cadmus: “I’m beginning to have my doubts…”

Tiresias: “Oh ho, is this where you question my intelligence and I give you a grand mathematical equation to prove it to you?”

Cadmus: “You can do maths but not writing?”

Tiresias: “Numbers are easy for old Tiresias. I can count to ten!”

Cadmus stared at Tiresias.

Tiresias stared at Cadmus.

Tiresias: “Did you know the Earth is round?”

Cadmus: “Fuck off.”

Tiresias: “It’s true! It’s a giant ball!”

Cadmus: “Okay, now I know I made a mistake! There must be some other birdwatchers around here.”

He turned to see a group of men and women in anoraks on top of a building with binoculars.

Cadmus: “On second thoughts, I think I can do without the birdwatching entirely. I have little girls, what could possibly go wrong?”

Tiresias: “GAH! A spider!”

He stomped on the spider, checked, then stomped it again to be certain. Cadmus shook his head at the unfortunate creatures that happened across the old codger.

Cadmus: “Okay fine. Answer this question. What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow!”

Tiresias:European swallow[Ext 7] or an African swallow[Ext 8]!?”

Cadmus: “Uh, I don’t—”

He felt as though he might suddenly be hurled off a bridge if he continued that sentence, even though there were no bridged nearby, so he blurted out;

Cadmus: “European! Aha! See!? Can you answer that, Mr Smarty-pants!?”

Tiresias: “Twenty-four.”

Cadmus: “Uh… what?”

Tiresias: “Twenty-four miles an hour. Or eleven metres per second.”

Cadmus stared at Tiresias.

Tiresias stared at Cadmus.

Then expanded.

Tiresias: “The average European swallow has a wing-span of 12.2 centimetres and body mass of 20.3 grams. They beat their wings fifteen times per second. With an estimated amplitude of twenty-four centimetres and a consideration of the waveform of—”

Cadmus: “Okay! Okay! I believe you! Sorry I ever doubted you.”

Tiresias: “… the Earth is round.”

Cadmus: “That… no. I have to draw the line somewhere.”

Tiresias: “Gravity holds us all—AH! It’s a rat!”

He threw his candy at the rat, which initially ran away but then ran back for the candy and stole it.

Tiresias: “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!”

He then snapped his stare back to Cadmus.

Cadmus: “We can’t get any more. The candy man is chasing the milkman down the road, remember?”

Tiresias: “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!”

He fell to his knees.

Tiresias: “How did I not see this coming!? Have the birds forsaken me!?”

A big, white, pile of bird poop suddenly dropped from the sky and landed on Tiresias’ head. Cadmus winced as he watched it dribble down his forehead.

Tiresias: “WAHOO!”

Cadmus: “Uh, this is good?”

Tiresias: “It’s extremely lucky to be pooped on at the best of times. Of all the skies in all the worlds, the bird chose that very moment to let one go and the wind currents and heat vectors guided it to this very spot. The probability factors are incredible, kiddo! But to be pooped on just as I plead to my feathered friends? That’s providence!”

Cadmus: “We shall be—A SQUIRREL!”

He ran off and punted a random squirrel that ventured down from its tree. The squirrel blasted off à la Team Rocket[Ext 9]. 

Cadmus: “Can we please stop with the random animal murder?”

Tiresias: “Says the chicken kicker!”

Cadmus gasped.

Cadmus: “You know about that!? I can’t help it! They’re so kickable!”

Tiresias: “I know aaaaaaaaaaall about you!”

Cadmus shifted uncomfortably.

Cadmus: “Uh… even….?”

Tiresias: “Yes! Even that!”

Cadmus: “It was just one time!!!”

Tiresias suddenly grabbed one of the spears from Cadmus’ back and launched it across the road. It skewered stray cat.

Cadmus: “Whoa! Okay! No! No cat killing! That’s just wrong!”

Tiresias: “Have to. They kill my birdies.”

Cadmus: “But… you can just frighten them away!”

Tiresias: “And they go on to kill another day. Cats got to eat, Tiresias got to see, cats got to die. And rats. And mice. And cockroaches. And mosquitoes. And ants. And snakes. And—”

Cadmus: “I don’t need the whole list.”

They travelled down the road towards The Wind Waker.

Cadmus: “Any idea what we should do next? Straight to Crete?”

Tiresias: “Your sister is there. But we are still underprepared. We should go to see the Oracle of Delphi. I believe we will need to also get the attention of Zeus’ wife. She doesn’t like it when her husband has affairs with other women. She could be a powerful ally. It was difficult to discern the exact nature of the meeting, but there I shall meet her. I know that much.”

Cadmus: “Very well, Tiresias. To Delphi we go. But, uh…”

Tiresias: “What?”

Cadmus: “Maybe you should take a bath before we go?”

The journey of The Wind Waker across the Mediterranean was fast, which was fortunate for Cadmus’ sanity. Tiresias slept the entire journey, snoring the whole way. His snores were so loud it scared even the sea creatures away.

The girls had resumed their bickering in earnest and there was a lot of biting, scratching and hairpulling and, in the case of Red, a lot of punching and kicking too. At one point she managed to dangle Pink over the side of the ship, at which point Cadmus thought it fortuitous that Tiresias’ snoring was keeping the sharks away from chomping on the dangling child. Low hanging meat, as the case was. The ship travelled around the Greek islands and the Greek mainland, across the southernmost region of the Aegean Sea, and around Athens.

Delphi, far west of Athens, the ship sailed the long river to Mount Parnassus where one of Apollo’s temples, commonly known as the Temple of Delphi, stood upon the mountainside. The site overlooked the landscape for miles and miles all around. On very clear days even Athens could be made out in the distance to the east and the southerly isle of the Greek mainland to the south, across the Corinthian Gulf, where Sparta would lurk far beyond sight.

It was most impressive to behold the world and as Cadmus stood looking across the landscape he felt truly small and yet this made him feel wonderment rather than frailty. It was a marvellous world to be a part of.

They had left The Wind Wake in the care of several spartoi, especially Red. Cadmus framed it that Red was captain and caretaker of the ship and the most responsible to be left in charge. In reality he just didn’t want the little demon ruining everything. Blue 1 and Blue 2 were with him, as well as Pink and Orange. Tiresias had found himself a beating stick and was whacking random animals that happened in his path – which was a lot, given the abundance of nature all around the mountain. Even as Orange was playing with a little hedgehog, the poor creature was thwacked into the air and made to tumble down the mountainside. Orange cried for a while but, fortunately, was easily distracted and led into an ongoing conversation about the Oracle they were to meet.

Pink: “I heard she has many boyfriends!”

Orange: “Isn’t she meant to stay a virgin?”

Pink: “So?”

Orange: “… you know what boyfriends are for, don’t you?”

Pink: “Buying me stuff!”

Cadmus: “That’s pretty shallow, Pink.”

Pink: “Giving me cuddles on my birthday?”

Cadmus: “Adorable.”

Tiresias: “Let Granddad Tiresias tell you what boys are for!!”

Tiresias leaned down to them and made a ring with fingers on his right hand and with his forefinger on the left hand—

Cadmus: “GAH!!!! STOP!”

Pink: “What does that mean!?”

Orange: “Is that how it works!?”

Pink: “Is that how what works!?”

Cadmus: “Nothing! Nothing! Stop! Conversation over! Tiresias! That’s terrible! They’re just kids!”

Tiresias shrugged.

Tiresias: “They got to learn the birds and the bees sometime. Except bees. Kill those little bleeders. Birds are fine though. Got to learn the birds! Kids know more than you think they do.”

Cadmus: “Actually, I don’t think they can grow up!”

Tiresias stared at the spartoi.

Tiresias: “You poor, sad, little bastards.”

Pink: “What!? Why!? Is it important to be adults!? What’s so special!?”

Blue 1: “I don’t want to grow up.”

Blue 2: “If we grow up, we become like that.”

They pointed at Tiresias. The girls all scowled at him in disgust.

Tiresias: “You cheeky, little bit—”

Cadmus: “Don’t call them that.”

Tiresias: “…brats.”

Tiresias wagged his stick in the air.

Tiresias: “You know, when I was young I was a sexy sod! All the chicks wanted a go of my walking stick back then, if you know what I mean?”

Pink: “Was your walking stick good then? It just looks like a crappy, old stick now.”

Tiresias grinned wickedly.

Tiresias: “My stick was the envy of Thebes! The boys wished they had a stick like mine and the girls all wanted to hold it.”

Orange: “I think we’re not talking about the walking stick…”

Cadmus: “We’re not talking about any stick. If I hear another word about your stick, of any kind, I’ll cram that stick up your arse!”

Orange: “… is THAT how it works!!!?”

Cadmus: “What do you--? NO! NO! GODS NO!!!! I mean… I suppose for some boys who, you know, like… sticks… they might… no! Stop! This is not a conversation for your ears!”

Tiresias was laughing so hard now that tears streamed down his old face.

Tiresias: “I haven’t seen you show so much backbone as when you’re trying to keep them from learning life’s truths, you know? You’ll need to keep that up for later.”

Blue 1: “Truths! We want to know truths!”

Blue 2: “Truth to life!”

Tiresias: “I can tell you plenty of truths, kiddos! I’m bursting with truths!”

Cadmus: “Stick. Arse. It’s a promise not a threat.”

Tiresias: “Suppose I’ll have to stick to the savoury truths because of your Uncle Stick-in-the-mud over there.”

Cadmus: “No more sticks…. Please….”

Pink: “Hahaha, sticks.”

Orange: “You don’t even know what you’re laughing at Pink! Now I know plenty of stories about boys!”

Pink: “You do!?”

Blue 1: “Orange knows a lot of stories…”

Blue 2: “Stories that aren’t true!”

Orange pulled her orange tongue at them.

Orange: “They are true! You’re just jealous because I am a wonderful orator!”

Cadmus: “Don’t even think about it, Tiresias!”

Tiresias stared at Cadmus.

Cadmus: “I mean… don’t twist what she said into… you know…?”

Tiresias: “I didn’t even think of that! You filthy bastard. She’s just a girl!”

Cadmus: “Wha--! I mean, I didn’t—You--!”

Tiresias: “Come then, Orange, tell Granddad Tiresias what you’ve been doing with those naughty boys.”

Orange: “Well there was this one boy and his name was Dave and he had brown hair and he was from the village and his daddy was a fisherman and Dave smelled like fish every day and I thought he fancied me and we played games together and he was a ten years old and his mummy died when he was a baby and he had an older brother and his brother’s name was Steve and Steve was mean and I think he liked Red but Red hated Steve so she didn’t talk to him and Dave liked me so I played some games with him and we ate cookies from the lady down the road who I think was Dave’s auntie and his daddy cooked us fish and we played games by the river and he definitely fancied me.”

Tiresias: “Quite the story. What did you do when you learnt he fancied you?”

Orange: “I kicked him!”

Tiresias: “That’s a good girl! Who the bleeder who’s boss!”

Blue 1: “Did you kiss him!?”

Blue 2: “Was there kissing!?”

The two Blues had gotten in close and were hanging on Orange’s words with bated breath and wide eyes.

Pink: “Ew, gross.”

Orange: “No I didn’t kiss him even though he wanted to kiss me but I said no because he’s a boy and he smells like fish and kissing is for grown ups but I thought maybe I could kiss his cheek but then I saw Steve being mean to Green so I kicked him and Dave thought I liked Steve more so he ran away and cried but I didn’t like Steve I just kicked him because I hate him not because I like him but Dave didn’t know that so I didn’t see Dave again.”

Tiresias: “That’s the end of all the best relationships, Orange.”

Orange: “Yeah! I think so too!”

Blue 1: “How romantic!”

Blue 2: “But needs more kissing!”

Pink: “You can kiss the fish! Hahaha!”

Blue 1: “Ew!”

Blue 2: “Disgusting, Pink!”

Pink: “Land ho, my hearties!”

Cadmus: “We’ve been on land for a while now, Pink.”

Pink: “I mean the special land! Look, the temple!”

They had seen the top of the pagodas as they had come along the path but now the temple was laid out before them as them came up the slope. There was a forum first, laid out with stone benches and a platform from which someone could speak or perform. Around it were several pagodas and at the back was the temple itself, which appeared to be an extra large pagoda. There was the green-tiled roof with pillars to support it but no walls. At the centre was a roaring flame, otherwise known as the eternal flame. It was not, in fact, eternal at all but was made eternal by its attendants forever feeding it fuel to keep burning day and night for hundreds of years.

Statues of Apollo were set around the temple, in one he held the lyre, as the god of music, in another he stood with a raven on his shoulder, a symbol of his wrath, while another he had a halo of radiant light around his head, as a god of the sun, and finally the statue of him with a laurel upon his crown to represent the athleticism of young men. Finally the largest statue, set apart from the rest, was Apollo with a bow and an arrow poised to take a shot. On the way up the mountain, travellers had told him how Apollo claimed Mount Parnassus when he slew the largest snake-beast of the mountain, much to the ire of Hera, and made it the seat of his influence on Earth. The Oracle of Delphi was the most powerful seer in Apollo’s domain.

Sibyl: “What do you lot want?”

They were confronted by a woman with a toothbrush in her mouth and a mug of coffee in the other.

Sibyl: “We’re closed. Come back during opening hours.”

Cadmus glanced at Tiresias, who just shrugged.

Cadmus: “We’re here to see the Oracle of Delphi.”

Sibyl: “She’s busy.”

Cadmus: “Busy doing what?”

Sibyl: “Brushing her teeth.”

Cadmus: “Oh, I see, we’ll wait.”

Sibyl: “And then she’ll be busy drinking her coffee.”

Cadmus: “Um… we can still wait.”

Sibyl: “And then she’ll be busy taking a morning dump!”

Pink: “Ew! Gross!”

Cadmus: “Shouldn’t take too long…”

Sibyl: “And then she’ll be busy having breakfast.”

Cadmus: “Well… I think we can still wait…”

Sibyl: “And then she’ll be busy not talking to you. Can you please naff off?”

Cadmus: “Well, this is very important!”

Sibyl: “More important than watching my soap operas?”

Cadmus: “Yes.”

Sibyl: “That was a rhetorical question. Nothing is more important than my soap operas. Phil Mitchell[Ext 10] just cheated with—okay, fine. What do you want? Make it quick!”

Cadmus: “My sister is missing. She was kidnapped by Zeus. I need help to get her back.”

Sibyl snorted.

Sibyl: “Usual run-of-the-mill god antics if you ask me.”

Cadmus:Your gods, perhaps!”

Sibyl: “No need to get so personal!”

She yawned and stretched out her limbs.

Sibyl: “Why couldn’t you come at reasonable hours?”

Cadmus: “It’s one in the afternoon.”

Sibyl: “Yes, I know.”

She lazily padded across the forum, her bunny slippers slapping against the stones. She went in the direction of the temple and the eternal flame.

Cadmus: “I’ll go. Tiresias, watch the girls.”

Tiresias: “Why? They’re not very interesting.”

Orange: “Hey!”

Tiresias: “What? You’re just stupid kids with stupid brains.”

Orange: “Don’t make me kick you too, Grandpa!”

Tiresias: “You can try, little padawan[Ext 11], but I am a grand master ninja! You’ll never catch me!”

Pink: “Are you going with Big Booby Lady, Cadmus?”

Cadmus flushed.

Cadmus: “Well, yes. But, you know, you should call her Sibyl. That’s her name, remember?”

Tiresias: “Bigger the boobs, fewer the brains. Remember that, kids! Sage advice from this sage.”

Cadmus: “Tiresias!”

Pink: “Wait, does that mean I’m ultra smart!?”

Cadmus: “By the gods…”

He ran away from them to chase after Sibyl. She put her mug on one of the sacred altars, which was probably meant for something far more grandiose than acting as a coffee table. She was a plump girl, which probably helped with those big boobs that Pink admired, and clearly spent most of her time lounging around the place. She wore a long, white toga that hung loosely from the shoulders with two golden clasps. Her hair was in tight ringlets that tumbled over her shoulders and was coloured bright blonde that shone under the rays of the sun. In her hair was another clasp that pinched the strands to one side of her head.

She rubbed her eyes as she sat down.

Cadmus: “Were you up late last night?”

Sibyl: “No? What the hell time do you wake up?”

Cadmus: “Shouldn’t you know everything about me already? Aren’t you the most powerful seer?”

Sibyl: “What? You think I sit around watching boring people be boring all day? You don’t think I have better things to do?”

She tossed something into the eternal flame and a great gout of blue smoke wafted through the air. It stung Cadmus’ eyes and he winced, trying not to cough. It smelt quite nice but it burnt his throat. As he watched, Sibyl’s brown eyes suddenly warped into pools of swirling blue and her neck arched back. She was staring intently, but not at anything in the physical world. This went on for some time before she finally snapped back with an exhale.

Cadmus: “Did you see the future!?”

Sibyl: “No. I just thought I’d get stoned for a minute.”

Cadmus: “What!?”

Sibyl: “Of course I saw the future! You think I just spaz out for fun? You know it hurts, right?”

Cadmus: “Oh sorry. I didn’t know…”

He bit his lip.

Sibyl: “Well… you’re nicer than most of the men that come up here. Sit yourself down next to me.”

He sat down and she wiggled over to him. He got a little uncomfortable as she drew so close.

Sibyl: “Don’t worry, I already have a boyfriend.”

Cadmus: “Oh. I thought you had to be a virgin.”

Sibyl: “He doesn’t actually know he’s my boyfriend yet.”

Cadmus: “Oh…”

Sibyl: “Your situation may be far more complex than you realise. Your god, Astarte, I’m afraid is using you.”

Cadmus: “What?”

Sibyl: “You’re the focal point of a religious war. Gods can’t do anything to each other lest they start an actual battle of the gods and tear the planet asunder. Instead they battle using peons. The people.”

Cadmus: “So, Europa is not with Zeus?”

Sibyl: “Oh, yes she is. But Astarte is using that to her advantage. What are you doing?”

Cadmus looked up from his notebook.

Cadmus: “I’m writing it down! I can’t forget anything!”

Sibyl: “Writing? What’s writing?”

Cadmus: “Master seer and you don’t know writing? You put letters together to make words, look. This sentence reads ‘bastard took my sister’.”

Sibyl: “That’s amazing!”

Cadmus: “Can’t believe you don’t have writing in Greece. Even the Egyptians were surprised. Anyway, my sister?”

Sibyl: “Yes. Technically the gods cannot interfere with you and your quest directly. This means you can do what Astarte cannot. Spread her religion.”

Cadmus: “So she really is using me… but she also is helping me get my sister back, yes!?”

Sibyl: “Yes. She is. But you should know her motivations aren’t pure. Like when a rich man gives money to some beggars, he will not do it from the goodness of his heart but because it makes him look good or because he wants to do good deeds to get access to a better afterlife.”

Cadmus: “Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter why she does it. Just so long as I can get my sister back.”

Sibyl: “It may take a long time. To get to her, you will essentially go to war with the entire island of Crete.”

Cadmus: “Well, I have enough weapons!!!”

He brandished a magical wand he had bought when he arrived in Greece. He accidentally fired it and set fire to a tree.

Sibyl: “Not that I don’t admire your tenacity, but you can’t do it alone. You need the power of an army. And to get that army, you need money. To get that money, you need a commercial empire.”

Cadmus: “Damn…”

He deflated.

Cadmus: “So it really is impossible…”

Sibyl: “Why would you say that?”

Cadmus held back his tears of desperation. He had tried so hard and travelled so far only to be told he needed to be a wealthy king of land, riches and men to save his kidnapped sister.

Cadmus: “I’m just a farmer, Sibyl. I’m… no one special. I just… I really wanted to do it. I thought if I got weapons I could do it. Then Astarte offered to help and I thought I couldn’t fail. I have a magic boat, I have magic…”

He worried how to put it.

Cadmus: “Magic girls? I even have an old auger to help me see the future. And then I came to meet you, the best seer of the future and someone who would tell me exactly how to get her back and… now you tell me the means are beyond me. It’s just… it’s just not fair!”

He wiped his eyes and Sibyl leaned over to give him a hug. She patted his back.

Sibyl: “I didn’t say it was beyond your means, did I?”

Cadmus perked up.

Cadmus: “It’s not?”

Sibyl: “You said it yourself, I’m the best seer of them all. I see all the paths. And I know the best path that will lead to your success. Astarte saw it too. Even Tiresias has seen it, not that he’d tell you.”

Cadmus: “Damn Tiresias.”

Sibyl: “One thing we have all said and it has been true. You cannot do it alone.”

Cadmus: “So, what is next?”

Sibyl tapped her chin.

Sibyl: “The best thing to do is to get help from someone willing to defy every god under the sun. Someone who has zero fear and zero respect for any single one of them.”

Cadmus spluttered in shock and horror.

Cadmus: “It cannot be! Someone who doesn’t worship any deity at all? Inconceivable!”

Sibyl: “Actually, he’s a good friend of mine! And he has friends who could help you too. Including gods.”

Cadmus: “How can he have friends as gods and not worship them?”

Sibyl: “He says just because you have superpowers doesn’t give you the right to worship.”

Cadmus: “I guess that makes sense.”

Sibyl: “Careful. The gods can’t smite him, but they can smite you!”

Cadmus: “Oh…”

Sibyl: “Speaking of which…”

She hopped to her feet and stretched her legs.

Sibyl: “We are about to see a good old-fashioned smiting this very moment.”

Cadmus leapt to his own feet.

Cadmus: “What!? Is something going to happen!?”

Sibyl beckoned him and she went out of the temple and back to the forum where the spartoi were shouting at Tiresias.

Tiresias: “What’re you talking about? They’re dangerous!”

Pink: “You can just push it away!”

Tiresias: “They’re nasty blighters! They eat my precious birds, you know!?”

Blue 1: “They could be poisonous…”

Blue 2: “You mean venomous.”

Blue 1: “If I said it wrong, that means you also were thinking it wrong!”

Blue 2: “But I corrected our thinking! So I am right.”

Blue 1: “Damn you, Blue!”

Blue 2: “Damn me, damn you too!”

Tiresias whacked a snake with his stick.

Pink: “But there’s baby ones!”

Tiresias: “Baby snakes become mummy and daddy snakes and they eat birds, bite people and have more baby snakes to eat people and bite birds… wait, I got that the wrong way round. See what you’re doing to me, pipsqueak?”

He smacked another snake so that it went flying off the mountaintop.

Cadmus shook his head.

Cadmus: “You really shouldn’t kill so many animals…”

Tiresias: “Bugger them! What did any animal ever do for me!? Only the birds are good.”

Cadmus: “You ate that steak well enough earlier.”

Tiresias: “Exactly. Dead animals are better animals. Especially damn snakes.”

He smacked another snake and its little body went flying out and fell into the eternal flame with a crackle.

Tiresias: “Wow. I should turn this into a sport! We could have snake-whacking competitions!”

Pink: “You’re so mean!”

Tiresias: “You’re so short!”

Pink paused as she thought about that.

Pink: “So?”

Tiresias: “Exactly! That’s my answer too!”

Pink: “You’re not my grandpa anymore!”

Tiresias: “That’s a shame. I was going to tell you a story for bedtime.”

Pink: “Really!?”

Tiresias: “Bedtime story or snakes?”

The girls all looked at each other in sudden panic. Tiresias wagged his stick from side-to-side.

Tiresias: “Tick tock.”

Sibyl: “Clocks aren’t invented yet.”

Tiresias: “What? Oh. Time’s a-wasting!”

Blue 1: “Who cares about stupid snakes! We want a story!”

Pink: “But-but-! It’s mean!”

Orange turned defiantly to Tiresias.

Orange: “No! You can’t kill snakes or any other innocent animals!”

Tiresias drummed his fingers against the staff as he leant upon it.

Sibyl: “Here we go…”

Cadmus: “What?”

Tiresias: “Sorry! No deal! Die, you damned monster!”

He wound up the stick. Then the snakes all slithered out of the bushes together, like an army. Tiresias paused in shock of the freakish behaviour. He considered his action. He the bile and loathing for the horrible creatures of the world couldn’t stay his hand. He brought the stick down.

It struck.

A leg.

Hera: “Since entering my domain, you have slaughtered and butchered many of my beloved creatures…”

Tiresias: “Oh bugger…”

Tiresias was raised off the ground and hung limply in the air. He was slowly pushed back as Hera advanced on him, ever closer to the edge of the mountain.

Hera: “Thousands of lives, thousands of lineages, have just been extinguished for no other reason than they were unfortunate enough to be in your vicinity. The lives of snakes, foxes, rabbits, flies, bees, beetles and even snakes may not seem to be important to you, but they have just as much right to an existence as you do.”

She thrust him back and he dangled above the abyss.

Cadmus leapt towards the Greek God. She was tall and graceful with the kind of beauty that most people could only attain with makeup and grooming. But the fury in her eyes was cold and certain.

Cadmus: “Wait, wait, wait! Please don’t kill him! We’re here with information you might appreciate, actually!”

Her eyes flickered towards Cadmus and his silly green pyjamas.

Hera: “I doubt that.”

Cadmus: “Your husband has taken my sister!”

Her face turned harder still but she closed her eyes.

Suddenly Tiresias was thrown to the ground, alive and scrambling, but she had turned with a horrible fury on Cadmus. In an instant he could no longer see the world around them. Instead he saw burning flames of green like he was trapped inside a firestorm and the visage of Hera was before him like a monstrous snake-eyed beast. Her figure was human but not human and he could feel her rage inside him and it struck cold dread into his stomach.

It lasted just a few seconds.

He dropped to the floor like a ragdoll.

Hera: “I’m sorry. Not your fault…”

She leaned down and wrapped her hands around him helpfully to get him to his feet. Suddenly she appeared as all warmth and grace and motherliness that one would expect from the mother and queen of a pantheon. He liked this Hera much more than the primal rage he had witnessed a moment ago.

He glanced over to Tiresias. He had clearly seen it too as he now also stared at her with wide, uncertain eyes.

She patted Cadmus.

Hera: “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I shall look into it.”

Cadmus bowed his head low.

Cadmus: “Thank you, Hera. That is most gracious of you. I apologise for my friend. He’s very spiteful.”

Hera: “Ah yes. I had forgotten about that.”

Tiresias: “Damn you, Cadmus.”

Cadmus: “Oops.”

Tiresias was then dragged across the forum by an invisible force and thrown at the feet of Hera.

Hera: “Apologise.”

Tiresias: “Um… sorry?”

Pink: “Please don’t hurt him, Mrs Queen Lady.”

Pink ran over to them and quickly the other spartoi joined her. Hera looked at the girls who were all asking that she spare a human that she considered a reprehensible wretch. These children could somehow see the good in him and so she would have to give this man another chance.

Hera: “You cannot go without punishment for your vile crimes in my domain but I will not slay you.”

Orange: “Thank you Mrs Queen Lady!”

Pink: “Yes! Thank you!”

Hera: “I could turn you into a shit-eating fly though…”

She looked at the spartoi.

Hera: “Pardon my French.”

Orange shrugged.

Orange: “We hear way worse from Red all the time.”

Hera: “Then you’d learn what it is you never consider – the life of another.”

Cadmus: “But we need him as a human. Could you not just… give him a big nose or something?”

Sibyl: “He’d probably look better then!”

Hera: “The punishment needs to teach, Cadmus. You need to know what it is to be someone else. To experience life not your own.”

Tiresias: “You want to turn me into someone else? That’s not bad. Make me young and handsome!”

Hera smiled and though it was outwardly pleasant, there was a sarcasm deep within it.

Hera: “Oh certainly. I know your heart, Tiresias. You shall certainly be made young and very handsome.”

Tiresias: “I should get punished more often!”

Orange: “Does this mean you’ll make him as young as us!?”

Tiresias: “To be a boy again! That would be a fine thing!”

He grinned but he finally saw the mischief behind Hera’s smile.

Tiresias: “I suddenly feel very afraid. You’re going to do something I won’t like, aren’t you?”

Still smiling;

Hera: “Absolutely.”

She snapped her fingers in his direction and there was a poof of smoke and a cry of anguish. In the place of Tiresias was now a young and handsome person. Cadmus estimated the age to be around eighteen.

Cadmus: “He’s not going to like this.”

Tiresias: “What? What did she do to me? Wait! My voice! It’s all… squeaky! She turned me into a chipmunk!”

Cadmus: “Not quite.”

Tiresias: “Wait! I feel funny. I—”

Tiresias looked down.

Tiresias: “I’ve got… TITS! I’M A WOMAN!? No! Please! Turn me back into a man!”

The girls were all laughing.

Pink: “Now you’re Big Booby Lady too!”

Blue 1: “Not Grandpa now!”

Blue 2: “Now he’s Big Sister!”

Tiresias: “This… this is just shameful! You turned me into a weak, silly little girl? No one will ever take me seriously now! Who will listen to a woman who talks of strategy and war and literature and… this can’t be!”

Sibyl: “Welcome to the club, doofus!”

Tiresias: “I’m a genius! I’m a scientist! I’m a mathematician! I can’t be a woman!”

Hera: “But you are. Welcome to your new life. Your second chance. Feel what it is to be some else. Someone with less societal privilege than yourself. And perhaps you will learn empathy.”

She then vanished, as though she was never there. The girls gathered around their new ‘sister’.

Orange: “Are they heavy?”

Pink: “They’re almost big as the oracle’s.”

Orange: “Big Sister is still skinny though. Her hair is so pretty.”

Blue 1: “So your hair was always black? I thought you were born with white hair.”

Blue 2: “Even her skin is nice now. It isn’t all ugly and broken.”

Tiresias: “My life is over…”

Cadmus: “It’s not that bad.”

Tiresias: “I feel funny.”

Cadmus: “I suppose it’ll take some getting used to…”

Tiresias: “No, I mean my stomach. It hurts. It… oh… I think… I think I’m leaking…”

Sibyl: “Welcome to womanhood!”

Sibyl wrapped her arm around the shoulders of her new female brethren.

Tiresias: “I want to cry now.”

Sibyl: “Yeah. You’re going to feel emotional for a week or so. Ice cream is a fine cure. There’s an underground cavern where we bury the dead and store cold stuff. What flavour do you like?”

Orange: “What’s ice cream?”

Sibyl: “Something a friend taught me. You’ll meet him soon.”

Notes

Britt's Commentary

"The name of the ship "The Wind Waker" is a reference to the video game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker[Ext 12], though there the Wind Waker is a magical baton. The lines Cadmus uses to remember the difference between the spartoi girls is "Roses are Red"[Ext 13]. The debate over the air velocity of swallows is based on the recurring gag from Monty Python and the Holy Grail[Ext 14] where nobody can answer the question, but here Tiresias can. I got the calculation information from a website[Ext 15] where the writer worked on the actual calculations. Tiresias[Ext 16] was not part of the original tale of Cadmus[Ext 17] but I merged them into one, however he was turned into a woman by Hera[Ext 18] for killing snakes. Sibyl was originally introduced long after her death in NeS2 Post 1887 where she was awakened as a skull to become DelphAI by Al Ciao the Writer. Here she is expanded on in her actual life, loosely inspired by the Sibyl[Ext 19] of Greek Mythology[Ext 20]." ~ Britt the Writer

References

External References

  1. Yoshi article, Wikipedia.
  2. Baby Mario article, Mario Wiki.
  3. SunnyD article, Wikipedia.
  4. Brandy article, Wikipedia.
  5. Papa's Got a Brand New Bag article, Wikipedia.
  6. Uzi article, Wikipedia.
  7. European Swallow article, Wikipedia.
  8. African Swallow article, Wikipedia.
  9. Team Rocket Trio article, Bulbapedia.
  10. Phil Mitchell article, Wikipedia.
  11. Padawan section, Jedi article, Wikipedia.
  12. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker article, Wikipedia.
  13. Roses are Red article, Wikipedia.
  14. Monty Python and the Holy Grail article, Wikipedia.
  15. Unladen Swallow article, Style.org.
  16. Tiresias article, Wikipedia.
  17. Cadmus article, Wikipedia.
  18. Hera article, Wikipedia.
  19. Sibyl article, Wikipedia.
  20. Greek Mythology article, Wikipedia.
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