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Priam, father of Achilles
#1
In the 6th Age:

He was born as Priam, a solid man with simple needs. The god-wars had raged for decades, with the people in the large cities bearing the brunt of the wars. Society in those cities was chaotic and stability broke down. But the back-waters of the world still had some semblance of peace as the war had not yet fully intruded on their lives. Priam was a son with an ancient lineage, the “Remnant”, a once proud and honored people that still maintained their warrior tradition. Not much remained of their memory beyond the distant stories of being the made by the first man Iasan; that they were Drakonodon, “Teeth of the Dragon”; the belief that one day they would be needed again.

Such stories heartened and defined them as they lived simple lives. Priam married Thetis. But they remained childless as the years pressed on. For 10 years, he and his wife along with father and mother and brothers and sisters worked together to survive on their rocky and hilly land, pastoral and peaceful but for the occasional squabble or raid from the ever wandering nomadic peoples.

It was a hard but satisfying life.

And then the god-wars forced their way into their lives. As Titan and Olympian fought and died and killed, one group fled to those same backwaters. Their god-powered transport was damaged and crashed near the home of Priam, killing almost everyone on-board.

Priam made his way to the wreckage and discovered an infant, sheltered in the arms of his dead mother. The child had the Olympian thunderbolt marked on the back of his head=, One of the god-children, born of god-parents and surely destined for god-hood himself. The cries of the child stirred something in Priam. His own wife, Thetis, had finally become pregnant after years of trying, but she had lost the child just a few days ago and was deeply grieved. He took the child home and showed him to her. Nothing could replace their dear baby. But this child had no mother or father. It would die without them. They opened their hearts to the baby and named him Achilles. He became their son, as much their flesh as any that might have been born of Thetis’ body. As long as his head was never shaved, no one would ever know the truth. Not long afterwards, Thetis again became pregnant and had a second son, Iphicles. This child too was loved and both boys never knew they weren’t fleshly brothers, with all the affection and squabbles that brothers have.

But Priam and Thetis knew that Achilles would need them as he grew older. They were ever vigilant to teach their special son compassion and justice now, while he was young.

*


Iphicles was crying while Mama comforted him. Achilles had pushed him down and was now looking defiantly at Papa, who had demanded an explanation.

“He broke my soldier! The one you made for me!”

“And?,” Papa said, upset. “Does that mean you can push him down for that?”

“But he broke it! I told him not to touch it. Instead he took it and broke it!” Achilles glared at his brother. “He did it on purpose!”

Papa spoke calmly. “Do you think he really wanted to break your toy?”

Achilles knew that Papa had him there, but he was unwilling to back down. “It doesn’t matter. I can be mad at him for breaking it.”

“Oh? And what about pushing him? Is it alright to hurt someone if they make you mad?”

Achilles thought about that. But then he saw his broken soldier. Papa had made it for him. It was special. He got angrier as he thought about his Papa making it for him and then Iphicles taking it when he told him not to and breaking it. “Yes! He deserved it!”

Papa quickly stood up to his full height. Suddenly, Achilles felt very, very small. He was big for 7, but next to Papa, he was tiny, with his gigantic muscles and back from working the fields. Papa’s face looked mad and his voice became so quiet it was scary. “And so when I get angry with you for not doing your chores, does that mean I can push you down?” Papa hadn’t moved, but suddenly Achilles felt scared looking up at him.

And then Papa knelt down and gently took Achilles’ shoulders in his big hands. His face wasn’t scary anymore and his voice was nice. It was low and deep, but that made Achilles feel safe. “Son, being bigger or stronger doesn’t mean you get to hurt someone whenever you want.”

Achilles looked down. Papa is bigger than me, but never hurt me, even when he got mad. He wasn’t angry at Iphicles anymore. Instead, he heard his little brother crying and apologizing and it made him sad. He started to cry. Papa took him into his arms, against his chest. Achilles felt warm and safe there. And ashamed. “I’m so sorry Papa.” He looked at his little brother, trying to wipe the tears from his eyes.

“I didn’t mean to break it, Achilles,” Iphicles said through his tears.

He felt bad he had hurt Iphicles. As much as he wanted to stay on his father's arms, he pulled away from Papa and went to hug him. “I’m sorry Iphicles! I know you didn’t mean it. It was an accident”, he said. He saw how little his brother, only 5, was compared to him. Just like me and Papa. He looked at his Papa and saw him smiling. It made him feel good inside.

Papa came over to them and pulled Mama to them until they were all sitting next to each and hugging or holding hands. “Son, we will always be bigger than some people and smaller than others.” Achilles tried to imagine Papa being smaller than someone else. It was hard. Well, some of his uncles were taller than Papa, but they didn’t actually seem bigger. “It doesn’t matter, though. We protect people, Son. We are protectors.” Papa looked him directly in the eye and his voice was strong, but not mad. “Especially, Achilles, especially we protect those smaller or weaker than us. We are not bullies. So you protect your little brother.”

Achilles felt those words go into him. I am a protector. I will protect Iphicles…and all the other kids too.

Papa then smiled at him. Iphicles had stopped crying too. “Remember who we are, my sons. Drakonodon. ‘Teeth of the Dragon.’”

Achilles fought a smile. He loved that story. “Papa, will you tell us about when Iasan made the Drakonodon and killed the serpent Ydra?”

Papa smiled. “Ok.” Papa let go and sat back, crossing his legs. Mama was next to him. He looked from Achilles to Iphicles and back.

“Long ago, long before the Titans or the Olympians or any other gods, there was Earth and Sky. Sky was young and the new Light streamed from the infant Sun. Mist rose from the earth as the Light touched the water, creating light and dark clouds, pushing and pulling and swirling into each other. Sound was new and fresh and moved like liquid throughout the new-formed Earth. It was perfect.

Then, among the dark clouds, a darkness appeared- the seed of chaos. It was just a pinpoint of darkness, but it sucked in the dark-clouds. The clouds spun as they went into the darkness. The darkness rained black oil and it fell to Earth, burning her. She groaned and heaved as the oil cut her.

But the white clouds spun about themselves too, sucking in the Light of the Sun. Those clouds became one brightly shining ball of Light. And then the ball became a crystal egg- blazing with the light- and it floated to the ground. Earth opened herself and a mountain in the shape of an open hand emerged from its depths to gently cradle the egg of light.

And the egg cracked and the light within broke free. It took the shape of a man, strong as crystal and bright as the sun. Light shone from his face and chest, and he wore lightning on his belt. In his hands he wielded a great sword with which to fight the Chaos.

At the very same time, the black ball too had become an egg, lighting of black licking about its surface. And then it too cracked- sickly green light oozing from the cracks. It split open, the shell fragments falling slowly like leaves to the ground. Out slithered Ydra, the beast of the darkness. Ydra’s black eyelids opened and green fires blazed behind those eyes. Ydra came forth covered in scales that dripped black oil. Small heads sprouted from Ydra, growing until there were 13, sitting atop long slender scaly necks.

Iasan strode forth, his crystal sword blazing in his hand. He struck at the closest head and the neck sizzled as the sword cut through it. The head dropped to the ground and melted. Three times Iasan ducked the hissing heads and struck, until three heads littered the ground. But as Iasan severed that third one, one of the other heads bit into his side and tore a chunk of his flesh. Ydra seemed to grow from the meat in its teeth. Earth screamed and her mountains were shaken. Sky darkened until the star shapes could be seen, Eagle, Bear, and the Great Dragon. And then a new head burst forth from each severed neck, growing larger and larger.

Iasan cried out in pain and fell back, weakened, as blood and water spilled out from his side and flowed onto the ground forming a pool. Iasan looked up at Sky and saw the Great Dragon’s stars twinkling. Sky, wanting to come to his aid, bent himself down until Iasan could touch the great blackness of the vault. Iasan snatched 12 teeth from the Great Dragon’s mouth. The stars burned and smoked in his hand and he plunged them into the pool of his blood and water. The stars sizzled and then began to grow, becoming men.

Each man was wreathed in dark shadow like leaves, eyes sparkling in the glow of their crystal spears. They stood and helped Iasan up. Looking at them, Iasan smiled grimly, determined, and turned back to Ydra. He lifted his sword and suddenly it was pure light. Iasan ran toward Ydra, cutting off each head in turn. And behind him followed the Teeth of the Dragon made flesh. As soon as each head was lopped off, one of the men shoved his glowing spear into the neck. The spear head blazed and burned and no new heads grew.

Finally, Iasan stood face to face with Ydra. He grabbed Ydra’s tail with his right hand and spun him about. Then he hurled Ydra out away from Earth. Sky cried as Ydra pierced him and passed through him, off into the unknown.

Then, spent, Iasan collapsed, blood continuing to flow from his side. Around him stood the Teeth of the Dragon, the Drakonodon. “Hear me, my people! I die, but you will live. From my body will come the nations and races of men. I charge you Teeth of the Dragon, I charge you to watch over them and protect them.”

Iasan’s head then fell back and he died. The hand that had held the stars had turned black. It melted an opening into Earth. The other hand, white as bone, also melted and burned another opening into Earth. And out of those openings men and women came forth. These were the first gods to walk the earth.

Iasan’s legs melted and there grew from his right leg a large man clad in animal skin, thunderbolt in his hand, its light reflecting in his eyes: Perkwunos the Striker, The Provider. And from his left leg grew another man clad in robes, holding bone dice in his right hand and scales in his left hand: Kmir the judge.

Finally, Iasan’s feet melted, and from each toe came a different man and woman, all the ten nations of mankind.

Thus there came from Iaman all the people of Earth: the gods who took the power of Iaman as their own, the Thunderer under whose rains we shelter and live, the Chooser who gives us what is unknown in life. And finally, my sons, the Drakonodon. We are the last remnant of those people. We are all that is left of the Dragon’s Teeth.
But we remember our charge.”

Thetis, Achilles and Iphicles repeated after him. “We remember our charge.”

*

Achilles took his Father’s instruction to heart. Never again did he lash out in anger. Instead, when he saw injustice, he acted. Together, he and Iphicles his brother became known as the Sons of Thunder for their fearless exploits. As the god-wars grew in scope, so too did their back-water villages grow. People flocked to their region, running, fleeing, escaping, hoping to find refuge and peace. Other villages and cities sometimes attacked and Achilles and Iphicles joined their father in the defense of the city. Eventually, the god-wars themselves came, causing pain and ruin and devastation. Achilles had seen the misery written in blood that they had caused, and his hatred of them grew.

During one bloody attack, Achilles saw his brother Iphicles struck down by a god as he fought another god, head shaved so the lightning bolt on the back of his skull gleamed in the light. At that moment, in a fit of rage at seeing his brother go down, Achilles channeled for the first time, killing both gods instantly. He was able to help his brother to safety.


Afterwards he confronted his father about what had happened and Priam reluctantly told him the truth of his origins. He told him of the markings on the back of his skill that was hidden by his hair. Achilles was hurt and scared.
*

Achilles felt at the back of his head, trying to sense the markings Mother and Father said were there, trying to see if he felt any difference, something that set him apart. He felt like his was drowning, like the time he had been in the ocean and had been pulled under by a current. He couldn’t breathe. His foundation was his family, his father and mother, his brother. And now, I find out that Father isn’t my….He rejected that thought violently. What am I?

“Son, I know this is so hard.” Priam’s eyes glistened with tears. “But we love you so very much. Nothing has changed for us.”

“Nothing??!!” The thought made him explode. “How can you say that Father? Nothing has changed? Everything has changed!” He felt at the back of his head again. “All my life you told me I was your son.”

“You are my son!,” Priam tried to say, but Achilles went on.

“You taught me how to be a good man. And now I find out…now I learn I’m one of them? I’ve hated them all my life. You taught me that. I’ve seen the refugees, the ones who escaped.” The memories came to him. A woman in tattered and burned clothing, eyes red-rimmed with tears, streaks of white on her soot-stained face. She stumbled along the road, almost ready to collapse. In her arms she carried a child, looking maybe like he was three. He had been burned horribly when a stray fireball from one of the gods struck the house. One of his eyes was milky white, with the skin fissured and red and black all over his face, his ears melted into twisted lumps. He wasn’t moving. They had tried to help him, but the boy was dead.
That winter the woman threw herself into the river and drowned.

A small girl found in the woods, scared and skittish, bony arms and ribs visible thrown torn clothing, cuts and scrapes on her young body. How long had been hiding? He heard of the disappeared girls, taken from their homes to the houses of the gods, to be used and traded. An ocean of people’s pain that meant nothing to them. And Iphicles, body broken and blood pumping from wounds made by jagged wood fragments jutting from stomach and neck. Fear and revulsion welled up inside him. “And I am one of them?!” He was angry and terrified. “I have this…this power. Will I change too?” He whispered “Is that what I will become?”

Priam took him by his shoulders, squeezing hard with his hands. “You listen to me son. Listen! Look at me!” Reluctantly, Achilles looked him in the eyes. They were hard and clear and his face was as fierce as he had ever seen. “I am your father! I raised you. And I know you better than anyone!”

Achilles felt those words go into him. They pierced his heart. They were something to hold onto. “Son, you are going to be something in this world. I don’t know what. But I believe in you. Your mother believes in you. Iphicles believes you. You are going to inspire goodness and hope in others. That I do know.” He felt his father’s sincerity. He believes in me! It was as simple as that. Father believed in him. Father trusted him. He clung to that anchor.

*

From that point on, after surviving the sickness, Achilles used his power and worked surreptitiously to sabotage the gods as they and their wars grew in the area. He and his father and brother organized others to carry on the work underground.

At one point, Achilles was discovered and had to flee, eventually making his way to Asia Minor. There he came across another god, Enki, and discovered that he wasn’t alone in not letting his ability to call on the power make him evil. They became close friends. As they traveled and helped people, they eventually met others like them- Prometheus, Tammuz, and Utnapishtim. After enough time had gone by, they returned to Achilles' home, only to discover that Priam and Iphicles had been killed by the gods during their underground activity. The death cut Achilles to his heart and he wanted revenge.

But his father’s words stayed with him. “You are my son. I believe in you.” He knew he had to find a way to help the people stand against the gods, especially the Drakonodon remnant, to stop them once and for all. And so rebellion continued to spread, as more and more people took up anything they could find. Even gods who had not been evil, or those that sought redemption, such as Hektor, joined their cause, making the rebellions more successful.

They learned of a weapons facility at Troy, run by the eminent god-scientist Helen, and decided to get inside and steal anything the rebellion could use, or failing that, to destroy the place. Using an inverted weave of invisibility, Achilles and many of his companions hid inside a materials shipment and were able to sneak in. Unknown to him, though, Hektor had been a spy for the Olympians and alerted the gods. Achilles was able to kill Hektor, though, and they escaped with losses. Achilles redoubled his efforts and soon conducted successful raids on other facilities. These activities inspired both humans and those gods that chose to help them in other regions of the earth, finally helping to tip the balance in the favor of mankind.


Eventually, though, Achilles was killed when a mortal, Paris, thinking him to be just like the other Olympians gods, shot him from ambush with a weapon.


Edited by Connor Kent, Jun 23 2016, 09:52 PM.
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