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In Leg Post 82, Hecuba is upset over the recent turn of events. She recalls how they had been happy at the birth of Achilles by Thetis, in Leg Post 63, but now Thetis keeps Achilles in Greece and not Troy. She then curses that Hippolyta has become queen of the Amazons and is sweeping in her victories across the Great Steppe, against the Hittite Empire and the Greeks, though Priam reassures her that the Amazons have not yet attacked Troy since Hippolyta became queen. She then regrets the murder of Hercules, which happened in Leg Post 64, and suggests Troy have a day of mourning in his honour. She finally laments that their fourth child, Cassandra, should be born with learning difficulties when Illythia promised her children would all be incredible offspring, in Leg Post 79. She and Priam take the child to the Shrine of Apollo, who is a god of healing, and pray for his favour. On Mount Olympus, Apollo and Artemis are watching the humans. Apollo is injured, after being struck by the poisoned Orion in Leg Post 65, but he still tries to help by blessing the baby. Apollo, however, grants the baby future-sight rather than curing the development disabilities, which Artemis criticises but Apollo's actions open up his wound so the 'blessing' must remain. Apollo hopes he can visit the baby from time to time when disguised as a cat, though he doesn't appear to know what a cat actually is.

Post

Apollo's Gift

Hecuba: “What is wrong with the world, Priam?”

They were walking through the streets of Troy with their youngest child in Hecuba’s arms. She was the forth they had had and the second girl. Hector, the eldest, was already nine years old and growing to be a smart and responsible boy. Polyxena, the second child, was a strong-willed girl who aspired to be every bit as smart and capable as her older brother. Hecuba had had to stop her learning to swing a sword though, that was where Hecuba determined the roles of men and women were too radically different. The third child, Paris, was just one year older than the youngest, Cassandra. The first three had proven to be wonderkids. Perfect in every way. Cassandra, however, was something quite different. She couldn’t walk. She couldn’t talk. She could barely feed herself. By the age of four, Hecuba came to the conclusion that something was wrong with her daughter’s brain.

Hecuba: “I remember when Telamon returned with news of Achilles’ birth. That was a fine, fine day. Wonderful in fact. Since then… why has she stayed in Greece? I don’t understand! This connection to Hades the boy has, cannot be real can it? Making a deal with lord of the dead. Such an ill omen.”

Priam: “If Hades keeps our nephew safe, then we should not cast judgement…”

Hecuba: “And then that bitch—”

She caught herself.

Hecuba: “That Amazon… she becomes queen! As if she has any of the grace required to be queen! It speaks volumes of those savages if they allow such an animal to be their ruler!”

Priam’s face was pained. She felt guilty causing it, but she also relished in any opportunity to insult the woman who tried to steal her husband from her. As far as she was concerned, she had every right to.

Hecuba: “Since she became queen, those Amazons have become all the more barbaric. They’ve been raiding and looting the Hittite Empire something fierce!”

Priam lifted a finger.

Priam: “But not us.”

Hecuba: “No…”

They turned the street in a moment of silence.

Hecuba: “But it’s only a matter of time. They’re already raiding Greek settlements almost daily now. Telamon heard that they’re trying to learn to sail. Can’t believe they don’t have ships. Stupid savages.”

Priam: “You’re back on speaking terms with Telamon then?”

Hecuba: “Yes. Finally.”

Priam: “So there is some good news after all! See?”

Hecuba: “Six years of Queen Hippopotamus--!”

Priam: “You shouldn’t call her that.”

Hecuba: “And now the greatest hero of the world has been murdered! Murdered! By a girl, no less. Seduced by a harpy and murdered by poison! It’s unthinkable! What a cruel world this is! We should consider a day of mourning for Hercules, Priam. Perhaps once a year, the city can pay our respects to the man that was?”

Priam: “That’s a fine idea, my dear. Perhaps people will be inspired to be more like him if we honour him.”

Hecuba: “And now our child… my little baby girl is… I don’t understand how this could happen. She told me—Illythia told me—my children would all be blessed with greatness! How can my little Cassandra be… broken?”

Priam: “Let us see, Hecuba.”

Hecuba: “I don’t see why we can’t pray to Hera for help.”

Priam: “If one of the peasants asked for your favour and you granted it… then he comes back again and again for more favours, would you be happy?”

Hecuba: “I suppose not.”

Priam: “We don’t want to test our beloved Hera’s patience. I’m sure she is watching over you. If she was inclined to help, or able to help, I’m sure she would have done so. Better to seek out the aid of another. Apollo is god of healing. If our daughter’s brain is, indeed, broken, then perhaps he can help us.”

They reach the Shrine of Apollo in northern-most part of the city. Apollo was one of the lesser gods in Troy as his benefits were less important to the people than other gods. Poseidon was the most dominant of all due to the sea battering the walls and his images were carved into stone walls across the entire city. Hera, too, was extremely popular amongst the Trojans as was the previous wife of Zeus, Metis. Metis was the god of intellect, much like her daughter Athena came to be of wisdom, and this intellect was highly valued amongst the well-educated population of the city. With education came superior health, which meant less need of healing and few believed in the arts of prophecy. He was, however, one of the city’s founder-gods after the people departed the Hittite Empire and so a whole quarter of the district was named in his honour – the Apulian District. Though there was no large temple, the shrine was lovely and kept in a wide open space for everyone to view as they went by. His image was held aloft on a great many banners of honour and the entire district was largely used for entertainment and art.

The soldiers blocked off the shrine to allow the couple some privacy and they prayed to the god of healing. Priam invoked their past relationship as means of welcoming the god back to the city.

Unseen to the humans, Apollo watched them from his room on Mount Olympus.

His room was all white with pure gold furnishings. The tables, the chairs, even the bed and the bedsheets were all sparkling gold.

Artemis: “What will you do?”

Artemis was toying with one of her arrows in her hand as she watched her brother watch the humans. He glanced back at her.

Apollo: “They want my blessing.”

Artemis: “Well, yes. Are you strong enough to do it?”

Apollo was wearing just a loincloth, leaving his torso exposed. It was, however, wrapped in bandages. Earlier in the year he and Artemis had been with their brother, Orion, when he was struck by a poisoned arrow that caused him to go mad and attack Apollo – almost killing him. Artemis had been forced to slay their half-brother but Apollo was still sick from the wound he took. As it was dealt by a demi-god, the wound was no normal blow and it constantly returned to fester and imbue pain upon the unfortunate Apollo. Today, however, was one of his better days. He nodded at his sister.

Apollo: “I think I can do something for them.”

She came up beside him to watch as he stared intently at them. After a few minutes he nodded.

Apollo: “There. Done.”

Artemis frowned and looked side-long at him before looking at the humans. The baby didn’t do anything.

Artemis: “Uh… what did you actually do?”

Apollo: “I blessed the baby!”

The baby remained just as still and silent as before.

Artemis: “… exactly how did you bless the baby?”

Apollo: “Well, I looked at it and—”

Artemis: “I mean, what with. What is so blessed about the child now?”

Apollo: “Oh! I gave her future-sight! Isn’t that wonderful!? My old friend Priam will be super happy, I’m sure.”

Artemis facepalmed.

Artemis: “Apollo… they wanted you to make her sensible. Can’t you sense that the baby’s brain development is hindered? She clearly has learning disabilities.”

Apollo: “Ooooooooooooh! That’s why they asked me for help. I thought they just wanted something fun to play with.”

Artemis: “Babies aren’t for playing with.”

Apollo: “They’re not?”

Artemis: “No! I mean… you can play with babies but that’s not… you know how screwed up this child is now going to be? She has emotional and intellectual development issues and she now has the gift of prophecy. Powerful prophecy, I might add, since it came straight from you. She’s going to lose her bananas.”

Apollo: “Well, there are worse things you can lose!”

Artemis: “I didn’t mean literal bananas…”

Apollo: “Oh. Lucky she isn’t a koala!”

Artemis frowned.

Artemis: “You mean monkey.”

Apollo: “Is that the one with a beak and a flat tail?”

Artemis: “That’s a platypus.”

Apollo: “Can’t be! They’re mythological!”

Artemis: “They’re not--! We have mythological cre--! You know what? Nevermind. I will hunt a platypus and bring you one. What will do you about this mess you’ve made?”

Apollo: “What mess?”

Artemis: “The baby!”

Apollo: “What baby? A baby platypus? How do they eat bananas with those beaks?”

Artemis: “They don’t eat ban—the baby, brother! Priam and Hecuba’s baby!”

Apollo: “Yes! She can see the future, isn’t that great!?”

Artemis: “Oooooy… you’re probably too weak to be giving out more blessings anyway. You should come and lie down.”

She helped him lie down on his golden sheets and she checked his wound underneath the bandages. She nodded with grim foresight.

Artemis: “I suspected as much. Giving that blessing has opened the wound Orion gave you. Your friend Priam will just have to accept what you’ve done for him.”

Apollo: “Poor Orion…”

Artemis sat down and patted her brother.

Artemis: “Yeah, poor Orion. I heard Hades let him sit on the jury in the Underworld though! That sounds like fun!”

Apollo: “Coooooool! He’s, like, a lawyer!”

Artemis: “Well no…”

Apollo: “Monkeys are lawyers, right?”

Artemis: “Maybe that little girl will grow up just like you…”

Apollo: “Hey! Now that would be great! I can turn into a cat and visit her sometimes!”

Artemis: “Actually, that would be quite nice, I expect!”

Apollo: “Although, she doesn’t live underwater so that could be a problem.”

Artemis: “Cats don’t… why… by Zeus… why…?”

Apollo: “You think father likes cats too!?”

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