THE Truth ABOUT Artemis’ Temple

eine Geschichte von Eshal

I am the goddess Artemis. Goddess of the hunt, as well as the moon. Goddess of chasity and unmarried maidens. I am an archery goddess and am one of the 12 mighty Olympians. All this power I could continue talking about and yet do people still believe in the lie about my temple spread so many centuries ago. Consider yourself truly lucky if you ever get to read this, because this is the truth about the temple of Artemis and Diana, both Greek and Roman.

It all started thousands of years ago, in the second century, to be exact. On the island of Delos, my birthplace. It was May 6th, as my mother, Leto, a titanide, and my father Zeus, god of the sky and highest status rank on mount Olympus, went to the island of Delos to safely give birth to me and my twin brother Apollo, god of the sun, music, poetry and also a god of archery. Zeus had asked Poseidon to find some secret place that wasn’t connected to the outside world, so that Leto could give birth to us safely. Poseidon then discovered the island of Delos, so that’s where it went. And no, I’m sorry reader, but I won’t tell you the secret location of the island. Because first of all, Poseidon might prank me with turtles again (dude, he makes it look like he chopped their heads off. But he just trained them to quickly pull their heads into their shells. He knows that tortures me. It gets me every time.) And also, I am not going to let you risk your life for that island. Not after my experience.

By the way, Poseidon and Zeus are two of the big three, the three gods with the highest place on mount Olympus. The third one is Hades, god of the dead.

Whatever the case, me and my brother Apollo were now two of the Olympians. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of my temple, ancient Greek paintings decorating the walls and pillars holding up the ceiling. You mortals must’ve thought ‘Okay, and BOOM, now you’re the goddess of dozens of incredible things! Great life, huh?’ but believe me, it wasn’t that easy. I still remember stepping in my temple, beautiful walls surrounding me, amazing clothes, washed and ready, waiting for me to wear them. I remember the silver throne at the back of the majestic hall, decorated by only the finest of Diamonds you could ever name. And yet the feeling of something—so, well, wrong. The feeling was incredibly disgraceful. If your room is also 115 meters long and 55 meters wide with not a study table with a chair but a throne made of silver and covered with Diamonds but you still feel, uhh, not the right word, but kind of — empty — you might be able to relate. But I kept it for myself. “No weaknesses,” I muttered to myself, “Don’t destroy the respect you’ve built up, Artemis.”

I changed into my toga. It fit perfectly, as if a tailor had measured by millimetres. I walked up the 12 stairs to my throne, probably because there were twelve Olympians. That couldn’t be a coincidence. For the count of three, I just stared at my throne. From up close it glittered majestically like the moon. I looked down at my padded seat, where I noticed a silver tiara. I picked it up and put it carefully on my dark brown hair. Suddenly, one of my hair strains turned into a glowing golden, and slithered down to the tip of my braid. It was beautiful. I don’t know how long I stood there, still watching my golden hair strain. Finally, after what felt like centuries, (It might have been a century. For us gods, that’s not even a twitch of an eye.) I was able to move again. I sat down on my throne, fascinated of my temple surrounding me, the experience of for the first time being able to sit on the throne, and, well, everything. But deep down inside me, that feeling still stirred around, clawing its way up to my heart, waiting for the best moment to pop out and expose itself, to make me release my feelings, and by doing that, destroy my honour, maybe even for good.

“Hey, sis!” Apollo grinned at me as I stepped outside of my temple. “Nice hair dye you got there!” “It’s not a hair dye!”, I replied, “It’s just a… just a… it’s a… I don’t know, it just appeared all of a sudden, really, I… I… don’t know!” Apollo patted me on the shoulder. “Lil’ sis, it’s alright. You just like the colour! That’s completely fine. You’re a goddess! Take things easy.” Then he turned into a hummingbird and fluttered away. “Wait! Apollo! How’d you do that? And what do you mean ‘’lil sis’? We’re twins!” But from the inside, I knew exactly how he had done that. He was right. I really should take things easy and take time to discover myself. But this emptiness I had was holding me back. And the thing about ‘little sister’? We gods can change our appearance, our age, even our personalities by turning Greek or roman. What did you think? We would have been dead corpses or maybe even piles of dust if we would look like our age. You thought I look like a four-thousand year old woman? So, I want to stay in my teens as appearance while my brother, Apollo, looks like he’s in his twenties. So he finds it OK to call me little sister. Ugh.

That night I thought about Apollo’s words. (Can you imagine?) I stared at the ceiling from my 25.013,24 euro worth silver bed with the 1.542.480, 00 euro worth floating bed mattress. An owl seemed to be laughing at me as it flew by my windows. A thin crescent shined down on me. I couldn’t handle this anymore. I stood up and filled my quiver with arrows and restrung my bow. I changed into my hunting gear, which was no more than a practical short skirt and high laced sandals, and a simple white toga as tops. I stepped outside my temple. The moonlight hit exactly my bow. It glistened, as if it were having a silent conversation with the moon. And, dear reader, if you think it’s forbidden to cross the mount Olympus boundaries, then you’ve misunderstood something. We gods have the freedom we want to leave Olympus, but then we have to be aware of that we are crossing the line that keeps us separated from the world of mortals, and yes, also the world of monsters. I took one step outside the boundaries, and the soil felt—different. As if the earth were sending me a message—or a warning. I walked further down the mountain until I had reached sea level. I watched a few cars pass by and waited. Waited for something that wouldn’t come. Finally, I decided to teleport to the island of Delos. And no, the problem wasn’t going there, the real problem was what I wanted to do. I would hunt down the fiercest monster of history; Typhon, the father of all monsters.

You might say that I’m crazy and it won’t work out. That’s kind of how it went. Now I understood what the soil was trying to tell me; I should go to the island of Delos to find the way to end my empty feeling. And I did. I wish I had never known.

You might want an explanation: Typhon, as told, also known as ‘the father of all monsters’. Typhon was the last son of Gaia. Gaia, the Greek goddess of the earth is the mother of Uranus, the sky titan who had been replaced by Zeus. He was the father of all the titans, and that’s why Zeus is the god of the gods. And if you’re imagining some kind of snow white with flower crowns, you defiantly mean Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. Gaia is someone completely different. So Phoebe, the titanide that had been in charge of the moon and hunt before me, had spent so many years, centuries, millennia, maybe her whole life trying to capture him to end all those innocent mortal lives’ misery Typhon had created. But without luck. I don’t know why and how Typhon would be on Delos, but I went there anyway. When I got there, I felt a strange heaviness in the air, something electric, as if the island were producing its own energy. I turned around and saw the moon, a thin, shining crescent. I smiled. It looked like my bow, and a few stars seemed like they were shaping an arrow too. I almost overheard leaves rustling behind me. I knocked an arrow and pulled my bowstring back as far as my godly powers were able to. “W-who’s there?”I yelled. “I-I-I am the goddess Artemis! F-fear me and bow down! Then I might show mercy!” Nobody answered. The silence was unbearably terrifying. For the count of five, nothing happened. Then, a deep, cold voice started to chuckle. It laughed, louder and louder, and then it stopped completely. “Oh, Artemis. I am fully aware of who you are. How young and scared you are. But you don’t really seem to recognise me. It is I who had created Delos so you and your brother could have been born safely. Funny that I am the one you want to kill so badly.” “I don’t want to kill you! I don’t even know who— what you are!” Beads of sweat rolled down my forehead. “A-and I know you’re lying! Poseidon found the island by coincidence!” I talked back, but it made perfect sense. The soil indicating me to an island, the uneasy feeling, an unknown person, creature or whatever creating the island before my birth, and Poseidon finding it only minutes before I was born… Was what that voice was saying really true? Deep in my thoughts, I lowered my bow a bit. “Ah, I see you’re giving my words a thought.” “How do you —” “Oh yes, and I can read hearts, minds, even thoughts.” He added, as if that were a small detail. But now, at least, I knew for 100% that this was not a regular lost human. Maybe if I could try making him talk enough for me to guess what he was… “Nope,” the voice said. “That won’t work.” Ugh, how stupid of me. Of course he knew what I was thinking! “And perhaps you are right, young girl. I should reveal myself.” he said and stepped out of the leaves. Then he spread his arms proudly. “Behold, Typhon, the father of all monsters!”

I shot my arrow with perfect aim and such force that a flame erupted from its tip. It should have pierced and burnt Typhon so badly it would have won the grand prize of ‘largest kebob on a stick’, but he simply swatted it away with, literally, the back of his hand like a bunch of flies. “Just to remind you, I can foresee your moves. Read minds, remember? And if you’d just let me—“I shot my next arrow. I couldn’t really see him, only a black dim of a monstrous human body, except it had dragon like wings and super long nails. No, those weren’t nails. I felt like vomiting. Those were snakes. Five live snakes for each finger, hissing and drooling disgustingly. The snake mouths snapped, all in perfect harmony, and caught my arrow midair. “Nice material you got there,” Typhon said and examined the arrow carefully. “But this,” he chuckled. “Really, no match for me. He snapped the arrow in two, making me flinch, but at the same time even madder. “You can keep doing this, or just give me what I wanted from Phoebe too. But she would insist on killing me instead. Foolish girl.” Typhon continued. I wanted to scream at him, but I kept my mouth shut. Typhon had made me curious. He wanted what now? “But you could do well, you know, end those peoples misery, whatever, be a hero, blah, blah.” That hit me like a blast of arctic air. There was another way to end those innocent mortals’ misery? How? What would he want for that? Would I be able to fulfil his wish? Would I not? So many questions swirled around in my head, like scattered leaves, flying circles in the wind. Finally, I sat down, trying to hide my emotions in front of Typhon, which was not an easy job. I tried to look serious, but I was more curious than ever. I silently prayed to the god Oizys, god of feelings, to hide my excitement. Well, came out either he was busy or didn’t want to be disturbed. Typhon read my feelings right away. “What do you want?” I grumbled. “Excited? I knew it.”, he told. Ugh, that guy! Typhon sat down on a Wood piece (wait, where did that come from?) and I sat down on a rock. “Now we’re talking!” Typhon said and gave me an evil smile. “I’ll spare you some long, boring talk. Now, what I want is that you hunt down your own sacred animals’ leader, the great deer.

He might have as well added; Ha-ha, just kidding! There IS no other way than to kill me! Ya should’ve seen the look on your face! Wait, lemme find my Smartphone. I just HAVE to capture his moment! Hahahahahaha!  I waited for him to add that. He didn’t. What a jerk. For just a second I thought about shooting another arrow at him. “Nu-uh. NOT happening.” Typhon said. The next second I thought about falling to my knees and begging for mercy, but then I remembered who I was. But Typhon seemed to like that thought. “Ah, yes, that would be amusing!” I gave him a fierce look, making him hold his hands in the air “Just saying. Your thoughts. Not mine.” Ugh, I hate it when villains are right! Finally, I won my voice back. “I,”I paused, as if my brain hadn’t processed all of this yet (even though I’m a goddess. You mortals would have died in, what do you call that? Depression? By being overwhelmed? Yeah, that shouldn’t feel that good. “I can’t do that. I—I— there has to be another way, right?” I said at last. A psychopathic smirk from Typhon crushed all the remaining hope of there being another way. I could have cried. I would’ve. I could have screamed. I would’ve. I could have said no. I swear, I would’ve. What I suffered after… But first things first. “Artemis, do you remember that feeling, that worry you have in your own, magical temple?” “How do you—“I stopped myself. “Of course.” Typhon laughed with glee, the sound of metal creaking against rock worsening. But before he continued, the moon started to glow. But not because of the sun’s reflection. It was because of my rage. This made me able to see Typhon’s horrific, monstrous, terrifyingly hypnotising body. Where his legs should have been, eight octopus legs sprouted out. But no, those were no octopus legs. Like his hands, those were serpents. Ugh, why did it HAVE to be serpents?! All of them were waiting for the command of their master, AKA body, to give them permission to rip me apart. But that wouldn’t have changed anything I was Artemis. I was immortal. All of them were staring at me, green, foam dripping from their mouths, more venomous than an echis carinatus, the most aggressive snake in the world, and an Oxyuranus microlepidotus, the most venomous snake in the world combined. But that poison they were drooling… It would have made Achlys, the goddess of toxic poisons, potions and venoms proud. She is also a goddess of death mist. That means if something magical happens, like my brother once again crashes into a city and that cost a life, for you it looks like a meteor fell to ground ——- And why am I telling you that?!

Two dragon like wings sprouted from each side of Typhon’s muscular, grey back. But his face… His eyes were fully black, and instead of pupils he had tiny holes in his eyes, where a greyish-green tone liquid swayed back and forth, but it wasn’t falling out. It was just scary. You mortals would have died looking at this of, well, shock or a heart attack or something. Gosh, you die easily. My natural instincts were advising me to punch him between his eyes, but I decided it would be better not to, because 1) That might have risked YOU mortals’ safety (Hey, be grateful, OK?) and 2) I didn’t want to risk my hand getting bitten off by hose saber-tooth-tiger fangs he was baring. And you must know Harry Potter, right? Then you must know Voldemort, too. Remember what his nose looked like? Typhon had something like that too. And so much of the hope of Typhon looking, well, a bit — human. He stared to speak again, waking me back to the current situation. “Artemis, I understand your willingness to kill me. Really, I do.” His voice was so intimidating, but I knew what he was really up to. He uses this voice telling lies to people, regular mortals, making them work against each other, starting wars, or worse. He could tell you the sky is the ground and the ground is the sky in this voice, and he’ll make you believe it. But not me. “Stop.” I said. “You’re not going to be able to fool me.” But Typhon heard strain in my voice. It really took a large amount of my powers to hold myself back from falling into his realm of lies. I caught the slightest hint of a smile rippling across his face, but he quickly changed it to sorrow, which was hard to believe was fake. “But really, I do!” he said, and I started to feel like I was dozing off. “No!” I yelled, and clenched my jaw. “STOP!” “Ok, ok. Fine, don’t worry. I’ll stop. But I must admit, you’re good.” The answer made me angry but also pleased me. Ugh, he was too good at this! “But you know, you remind me so much of Phoebe, running around, wasting her life—““Don’t-Bring-Phoebe-Into this! This is a matter between you and me. Is that clear enough?” Typhon didn’t stop, but had me trapped by his next words; “Yes yes, but she would try hunting me down, not knowing the only way to kill me was to… Oh, well. Forget it.” That was too much for even my godly powers to hold back. “What is it? Tell me! Tell me!” I said, like a little girl on Christmas Eve, not allowed to open the presents yet and trying to get her parents to tell her what was inside. Typhon smiled, making me realize I had let him win. But my curiosity was unstoppable. That’s how good he was. You would have died because of—ugh, forget it. “But before I tell you what your Christmas present is,” he grinned. “Let’s talk about that emptiness again. If you don’t, you know, do it, that emptiness will never end. Actually worse: It will grow bigger and darker, until it kills you inside.” But I’m immortal. I thought. That’s not possible.  “Oh yes it is.” Typhon answered to a question I had never asked. “Even immortality cannot save you from that.” I waited, dumbfounded. “Of course, it’s your choice,” he added, very helpfully.” So what’s it going to be?” I was overwhelmed. Kill my own sacred animal so I could save you and get rid of my feeling? Sounds good, but what about the deer? An innocent soul I would take, his family, his pack, all dependent and broken because of me? Over the centuries, like all gods do, I would forget this ever happened. There will be another king deer, and all will be back to normal. But this was an unforgiveable act. I could attempt killing Typhon again, risk your lives and die after a few years. But how selfish could I be? And what if Typhon misused this sacrifice… “Oh I assure you, Artemis, there is no way I will misuse this sacrifice. See, I have my reasons. Really, I do. Way before you were born, his incident happened… But that’s a very long story. So, before I start telling my emotional skedaddle, I will give you have of my life force.” He said and handed me a glowing red ring. It seemed to produce its own power—it seemed to radiate its own heartbeat, somewhere deep inside the gemstone. Before I could speak, he started explaining. “Yes. My whole life depends on these miserable two things,” he chuckled, pulling another purple glowing ring from his pouch (wait—where did that come from?). “Half of my life force is in the red one, the other half in the other. But from what I can see in your heart, well, I guess I can’t trust you with my whole life force yet. If I misuse this sacrifice, you can weaken me enough to have the chance of hunting me down. Is that enough for you, or do you still want anything, my queen?” he said in a fearing servants’ voice, completely ironically. “I suppose it is just enough, but I swear to the moon, if you’re trying to trick me or waste this incredibly harsh sacrifice, you shall suffer in Tartarus for all eternity!”These were the words Typhon wanted to hear. Well, except for the Tartarus part, but I don’t think he cared too much about it. “Good choice, Diana. Uh, or Artemis. I shall meet you at crescent hill with the body firs thing tomorrow morning, before dawn would be best. And so he disappeared. For a few seconds I didn’t know what had just happened. I had agreed to steal a life. I had played by Typhon’s cruel rules. What had I done? I fell to my knees and felt something I had never felt before. Darkness. Sadness. Emptiness. I felt tears. I felt broken. I cried there for what felt like forever. I couldn’t do this. I lost hope.

When I had come back to my senses, I ran towards the Edwards Plateau of central Texas, the home of the deer pack. My arrows rattled inside my quiver, my golden hair strain glistening in the moonlight. My braid flew open as I reached the top. The valley was so peaceful I wished not to interrupt. But what choice did I have? Down below I saw a deer with his wife, playfully pushing his baby fawn children, teaching them how to walk. Also, he was wearing silver crown. That was the deer king. Typhon’s cruelty was endless. I decided to talk to Kerynitian. That was his name. While four of my deers pulled my chariot, he roamed free, leading the other deers. I could ask him if it would be better to, well, do it, or destroy Typhon’s ring and continue hunting. So I walked down. Now it was time to talk to him.

I was jogging downhill already as Kerynitian spotted me, jumping up and down in excitement. I was not looking forward to bring him the news. Like ‘Hey, yeah a monster said I’m supposed to kill you. You okay with that?’ He did a few gestures in Katropish, the language of animals. As much as I understood, he was saying ‘Queen is here… talk… wait… coming right back…’ Then he ran to the edge of the hill and bowed. I regarded him with a nod and slow blink, which in Katropish meant ‘You may rise.’ He shook his head, meaning ‘Why are you here?’. I explained him the whole story, with lots of nods, hooves scraping against the ground and more gestures. You should know that in Katropish, everything relies on body language. Plus, lying is impossible. They can smell you lying! But still I hadn’t told him the part about, you know, the thing… He instantly guessed something was wrong, by sniffing the air like a wolf picking up the scent of his prey, which meant ‘What’s wrong?’ I took a deep breath, and told him the whole story. He didn’t give a reaction. He lowered his head and looked back to his family, his wife entertaining the fawns lovingly. He stepped from one hoof to another and winced nervously. Then he looked up at me, his eyes watery, but he scraped his hoof with the ground. Oh, gods. He had said the two words enough to break a heart. ‘I’m ready’ He ran back to his wife and with an argument of mimics, tears and sad gestures, Kerynitian slipped his crown to his wife’s head. Her eyes were filling with silver tears. The fawns would never remember their kind, loving father. They would grow up with only their mother. Then he nose-patted his fawns and forehead-bumped his wife for the last time. He made a heart touching announcement of clattering hooves and gestures, making his wife officially queen of the deers. She herself was shuddering silently. All this was my fault.

Now it was time. I teleported us to crescent hill where I readied my bow, to shoot the great Kerynitian down and fulfil Typhon’s wish. Tears filling my eyes, I knocked the arrow far back, but suddenly I remembered a magic spell Hecate, the magic goddess had taught me. I was so exhausted to feel relieved. The moon was starting to fade away in first daylight. I knew that if I messed up, Kerynitians’s soul would haunt me for eternity. But I didn’t care. I wanted best for him. At least as good it could be. I signalled him to sit down calmly and started.

I ran my hands over his body with my eyes closed, muttering the spell and making my hands glow. Slowly, Kerynitian turned into stone. His legs, hooves, fur, until he was a statue of himself. Now the hardest part. Catch the soul. I said the final words, my heart beating furiously. I was amazed by my own speed and skill, but had no time to admire it. Finally, I caught the silver swirl of air and said my final spell: the spell that would keep his soul alive. I made it! But I was so traumatized I couldn’t even sigh with relief. I rubbed my eyes checking if this was a dream, but the statue was still in front of me. Wait—but instead of a scared posture, he seemed to be sleeping. A sleep that no one dared to wake.

The sun rose until he moon was fully gone, as Typhon suddenly appeared behind me. “Here it is,” I said with trembling hands, “I did it.” “Good,” he said. I glared at him. After what I had taken, ‘good’ was the first word coming to his mind? “Now, give me the soul so I can end this whole thing.” “NO!” I yelled. This was enough. I had taken Kerynitian’s life, obeyed his rules, brought a great loss to his pack and family, and now Typhon wanted to END it? Never!! “Artemis. Give it to me. Don’t make it painful.” “Painful? Painful? You DARE say that word? After all the pain you brought to so many lives? Do you think it’s OK to not care about them?” I held the statue close to myself and said “LEAVE.” “Very well, then. I shall come back this evening, inside your palace. I hope you’ll come to your senses, then. Then he turned. Then I thought quickly. He’s not watching me, so he can’t read what I will do next, right? I aimed my arrow and pulled the string as far back as possible. This should be the shot of the century. Beads of sweat rolled down my forehead. My heart started to lose its beat. Finally, I shot.

It seemed like slow motion. Then the arrow finally hit. Typhon wailed in agony, then fell to his knees, staring at the point of my arrow sticking out of his stomach. His last words weren’t words: he said a spell, cursing my temple, a spell so powerful to bend all mortal minds to their own imaginary lies they would spread over my temples history. They would hate me, one day. Then, a miracle happened: My deer stepped out of the stone statue, shaking himself and looking around. When he saw me, he started jumping with glee. I hugged him and cried, while Typhon’s body crumbled to a pile of dust, my arrow still perfectly intact. We stayed there for a while. Then Kerynitian bowed and galloped away, back to his home. To his family. To live his life as he deserved.

That had really happened. I laughed, remembering how beautiful it feels to laugh again. I let myself fall back, turning into a hummingbird and flying back. The emptiness was completely gone. I had nothing left to care about. But one thing I knew; Typhon would be back. And next time, he would know no mercy.

Author: Gast