Olympus, the paradise reserved only for the greatest beings, was at that night the stage of two of the most beloved gods among the mortals: Apollo and Eros. They barely talked to each other, due to their arrogance, but whenever two gods find one thing that keeps their interest and this thing is unlucky enough to be unique, the great mountain reverberates with the greed of the Olympians and they fight, until the winner claims his prize. The thing, in this case, was a mortal.
“She sacrifices flowers and animals in my name, prays for me. She has been chosen as my favorite and you, a lesser god, can’t take this right from me” Apollo punched a pillar, dissolving it into golden light and ashes. “Especially you! Your tricks are never fair, you bewitch the souls of mortals taking away their free will. Zeus should have banished you long ago.”
Eros smirked, his emerald eyes reflected the wildness of the fire pit near them. “Your are right, my lord” He took off an arrow from his quiver and played with its blade. “My methods aren’t fair and I am a lesser god, but this isn’t my fault. My lord, you were born with the grace of the sun, and I was born with the heart of my mother. And she’s even greater and older than you, because the Love was born before the Sun and the Passion killed more mortals than any of your plagues. Which leaves the mortals dependent on me as much as they are on you. They can’t live without love. And our favorite, may I say so, is full of it. You can see it, lord Apollo, her heart. It’s full of the most pure feeling of the mortals and that’s what so incredible about here, even for us.”
The Sun God sighed. Eros wasn’t any kind of satyr, but he surely knew how to speak like one. In the matters of love, Apollo doubt he could beat him. He felt the need to do something that would spare him from his devious tricks. Something greater than the power of the old Aphrodite. Something even the mortals couldn’t fight against.
He called for Dike, her name echoing through the mount. The goddess of justice would be the witness of their oath. She appeared in front of them in silver smoke, well aware of the reason why she was invoked there. “Lord Apollo, Lord Eros.” She bowed.
“Oh? So you’re going to make it official, huh? Let me guess, we can’t use our divine powers in this game with the mortal?” Eros put the arrow back in his quiver. “Fine. Put it on words. Hello, Dike.”
“Dike, I want you to be witness of the deal I will make with Eros.”
“You two must say the words.”
Eros took a step forward, his eyes meeting Apollo’s. “I, Eros, god of Love, son of Aphrodite, son of Ares, swear for the river Styx, in front of the Goddess Dike, that I won’t use my divine powers, gift of the immortals, to claim the mortal Alicia as mine, or to make her love me.” He raised an eyebrow, daring the sun god to do the same. That was actually what Apollo wanted. With Eros’ words, the whole Olympus felt an earthquake, as if Hades himself has made the river Styx accept the deal.
“I, Apollo, god of the Sun, son of Zeus, son of Leto, one of the Twelve Olympians, swear for the river Styx, in front of the Goddess Dike, that I won’t use my divine powers, gift of the immortals, to claim the mortal Alicia as mine, or to make her love me.” The same happened with his words and, he dare to thought, it was a little bit stronger than Eros’.
“Let the Wrath of Zeus come to the one who breaks the vow, his soul will be dragged to the Kingdom of Hades, underground, serving the god of the death until it’s no longer needed. The winner of the mortal’s heart will be the one she chooses with no interference of the sun or the love god whatsoever.” Dike’s words were vanishing with her in the same silver smoke that she came. “Good luck.”
The game has begun for the gods.
The mortal body was heavy to him. Apollo didn’t want to take that form, but this was the only way to get near his favorite. He knew where she would be at that time in the morning. A little bit far from the village, picking up flowers and herbs. He would take the disguise of a traveler that came from the North. He knew she liked the idea of traveling and exploring the world. Oh, he would take her there with him, in his sun chariot. She was the most fascinating mortal in that era and she would love him back.
He saw her. Near the woods. Gods, she was really beautiful. He had a leather bag with him and a cow (of his personal collection, of course) and a good amount of mortal coins. He would use the excuse he was going to the village to sell the cow for a house. Maybe some poor peasant would accept the offer. How could they not? It’s Apollo’s cow for gods’ sake!
He took a deep breath before speaking to her. He didn’t want to startle the poor mortal.
“Hello, young lady, I’m looking for a village nearby. Could you tell me if I’m in the right direction?”