It was as magnificent and ethereal as ever, rising in the midst of the clouds of the infinite sky.
Apollo rested against a pillar in this heavenly dwelling of the gods, staring ahead at the walkway crowded with minor gods, waiting for his sister.
Soon, Artemis emerged from the crowds, wisps of moonlight flowing from her figure. Then, she strode in front of him, her brows rasied. "Waiting?"
"Obviously, for my sister," Apollo said with a smile.
Artemis said, swirling her long black hair. "Come on, then."
They walked towards the temple of Prometheus, shoulder to shoulder under the gleaming sun.
"You are upbeat?" Apollo inquired, his hands clasped.
"Obviously." Artemis murmured. "After all, humanity is about to be created."
"I never understood your fixation on them." Looking ahead, Apollo stated.
"They are interesting." Artemis looked ahead, her mind flashing with stories that she read about Atlantis. "You know, they're fascinating. They have something that other gods don't: an insatiable sense of wonder and curiosity."
"They are also transient. We are immortals. In comparison to us, they have a much shorter lifespan. Having an interest is not a problem. But don't get overly attached." Apollo looked her in the eyes. "Believe me, it will always end in tragedy."
"Once again, I am not a child..." Artemis said, exasperating.
"Once again, little sister, I'm just worried..." Apollo grinned.
That did it. Without hesitation, Apollo ran through the golden pathway, laughing.
"Phoebus Apollo!" Artemis bellowed, running after him as minor gods and goddesses hurriedly moved away in panic.
"You call me 'little' one more time…"
Apollo immediately stopped in his path, turning with a gleaming object in his clasped hands.
Artemis came to a standstill, her gaze fixed on his hand. "Oh, don't think you'll be able to bribe me..."
Apollo opened his hand at this precise moment, showing gleaming silver bangles.
Artemis stared at the bangles in silence before succumbing to her heart's desire. She took the bangles and wore them while snorting. "I'll let it slide just this once."
"I won't call you 'little' anymore. Is it enough, sister?" Apollo beamed a brilliant smile.
"Let's see about that." Artemis bore her eyes on him, not believing him at all. But, she focused on the bangles, not bothering to care about her brother temporarily.
Apollo simply shrugged and inquired about something else. "Are your hunters still in Delphi?"
Artemis was silent for a moment, wanting to continue to ignore him, but she looked at his stupid face and sighed. "Yeah, until I find my own place."
Apollo nodded, looking forward, while Artemis asked, since they were on the subject. "Did the muses accept your offer? I've heard they can be quite withdrawn at times."
"Music," Apollo remarked, pulling his lyre from space and strumming and playing it. "My music convinced them."
Artemis just shook her head at her brother's dream of music. Though, deep in her heart, she already somewhat believed it, swayed by his music.
Still, she stopped him from continuing. "I'll hear it later, brother." She pointed to the front, "We are here."
Apollo turned and looked at the temple ahead. It was the abode of Prometheus, the Titan of Forethought, the seer of the gods. With a sigh of reluctance, he put back the lyre, striding to the divine temple with his sister.
The door automatically opened. They entered. The first thing they saw was a large hall supported by blue pillars. There was an altar in the middle with a mound of sand and wooden cups of water. Around the altar stood Athena, Aphrodite, and Prometheus. Athena and Prometheus were talking to each other, while Aphrodite was examining the water and sand.
They looked back, noticing their entrance, which made the entire room bright with light.
"Welcome, Apollo and Artemis. It's great to have you here with us on this historic occasion." Prometheus said, getting down from the altar and greeting them.
"We wouldn't want to miss this." Artemis smiled, sharing her enthusiasm for humans with Prometheus.
"We voted for this, after all." Apollo added.
Prometheus nodded, gesturing to the altar. "And, I am eternally grateful for that. Now, come on. We were just waiting for you to join, so we could begin."
Under the eyes of Athena and Aphrodite, Artemis and Apollo walked onto the altar, with Prometheus in the lead.
"You look different?" Aphrodite asked, looking him up and down, her hands on her chin. "I mean, you feel different, Apollo."
Apollo raised his brows. "I became a god of music and art."
Athena turned and her eyes narrowed at him. "You accepted the muses?"
Apollo nodded, not surprised. "I became their leader."
Athena said, lightly smiling "That unexpected, Apollo. Art and Music." She asked, after a slight pause. "Will you play for me?"
"It's just a dream..." Apollo drawled. "And let's see, I will play for you if I am free."
"It is a beautiful dream, Apollo." Aphrodite interjected. "Why don't you just do a performance? It would be a better way to announce your ascension." She deliberately looked at Athena. "So everybody can attend."
Athena frowned, while Apollo continued, not outright rejecting her. "As I said, let's see."
"I look forward to it." Aphrodite winked at him, her gaze passing to Athena, brilliantly smiling. Then, she turned and walked towards Prometheus, who was mixing water with the sand while Artemis poured it.
"What's up with her?" Apollo asked Athena, after Aphrodite walked away.
Athena shrugged. "I became an eternal maiden, like your sister. And as a goddess of love, that offended Aphrodite. She looked at me like I was her natural enemy. And oh, I never knew somebody could be so petty."
"Eternal maiden…" Apollo sighed, looking at the ceiling. "I really hate that term now."
Athena smiled and looked ahead, while Apollo didn't delve deeply into it, instead asking and looking around. "So, where are Aunt Demeter and Hestia? Aren't they coming."
"No." Athena shook her head. "Aunt Demeter is facing some problems, and Aunt Hestia is assisting her with it."
"Problems?" Apollo pressed. They began walking towards the altar. They noticed Prometheus had made a mould of mud.
"I don't know." Athena said.
"Aren't you the Goddess of Wisdom?" Apollo asked, raising his brows.
"Aren't you the God of the Sun?" Athena retorted.
"I don't often spy on others." Apollo shrugged.
"Then, what makes you think I would?" Athena said, glaring at him.
"Nothing, O' Great Goddess of Wisdom." Apollo smiled, his hands up in the air.
Athena rolled her grey eyes, snorting. But she suddenly looked ahead. "Come on. It's starting."
They joined others, looking at the mold of mud, while Prometheus stood up from the ground, his hands covered in mud, and Artemis put away the remaining water.
Despite having a guess, Apollo still asked. "So, how are we going to give life to this?"
"We don't." Prometheus answered, as all turned their attention towards him. "Earth Mother will. Earth is 'Her' body. Water is 'Her' blood. It is already almost done. We just have to pray to 'Her' to get her blessings as the last step."
Then, he turned and looked at all of them. "Then, let's begin. Everybody can mould. Just please make sure that there is no mistake."
They nodded, immediately getting to the job.
Apollo sat on the floor with others, taking out a piece of mud and moulding it into the figures of a human male and female. Then, he continued by creating a pair from each new part with solemnity.
Artemis sat near him, moulding more woman than man, while Athena and Prometheus sat to his side, following his example, supporting equality.
His gaze was riveted on Aphrodite, who was the opposite of Artemis, moulding more men than women.
After a few minutes, they were finished with the moulding. Prometheus grouped them all together before turning towards them. He gave the sacred emblems of the Earth Mother to each of them.
They stood up from the ground, clasping the emblems in their hands.
"Let's begin." Prometheus said solemnly. Numerous white candles appeared and floated in and around them, filling the temple with a solemn and sacred aura.
He prayed, and they followed.
"The Great Mother Goddess,
"You are the source of all life,
"You are the forefront of Creation,
"You are more Eternal than Eternity,
"I pray for the power of the life,
"I pray for the power of the evergreen,
"Please bestow your blessings on our creations."
A boundless divine aura descended from an unknown place, shrouding the clay figurines. They were in shaded in colour, coming to life. Then, the aura waned away into nothingness.
"Thank you, mother of all life!" They immediately chanted in unison, their heads bowed.
The flames in the candles burned brilliantly, as if responding.
Artemis walked towards tiny humans, kneeling in front of them. She smiled and declared, her voice mighty and solemn. "I, Artemis, Goddess of the Moon and Hunt, bless you with the hunt. Even if you face the mighty animals of nature, you shall prevail. I also grant you the strength and instincts to be able to survive in this cruel and indifferent world."
Her voice resounded throughout the hall, causing silver moonlight to manifest, descending and blessing them.
Artemis stood up, returning. Then, Aphrodite walked out, swirling her hair.
Seeing the gods who were giving blessings on their own, Prometheus smiled. A smile told volumes of his relief. But there was also sorrow hidden deep within his heart, as he thought of the future.
Aphrodite declared, her voice ethereal. "I, Aphrodite, Goddess of Beauty and Love, bless you with beauty, beauty of both the heart and body. I also bless you with love, to freely love whom you desire." She suddenly smiled, pointing to her heart. "Always follow your heart Never forget this."
A gleaming rosy light materialised around humans, blessing them.
Then, Athena gave her blessings: "I, Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Reason, bless you with knowledge, creativity, potential, and most importantly, curiosity. I also grant you caution and fear of the unknown. It may be a shackle, but it is a necessary one." She looked at them, smiling. "I look forward to witnessing the wonders that you build in your civilization."
The very wisdom materialised in the form of feathers, descending on humans and blessing them.
Finally, Apollo walked towards humans, kneeling in front of their tiny figures, declaring.
"I am not going to give you any blessings. But something more, something beyond..."
He raised his hand, drawing power from the concept of light and the sun, then combining them in his hand.
A white fire materialised in his hand, emitting endless warmth and light.
"Apollo…" Prometheus, the Titan of Forethought and the Seer of Gods, snapped his gaze at the fire in the hand of Apollo with sheer and utter shock.
Aphrodite and Artemis were taken back by Prometheus, while Athena immediately narrowed her eyes at the fire.
Apollo looked at Prometheus, smiling. "I don't believe in it, Prometheus."
Prometheus' astonishment only increased with Apollo's words, as the realisation struck his heart heavily.
Apollo turned towards humans, declaring. "I, Phoebus Apollo, the God of Sun and Light, grant you the fire of civilization. It is tinder birthed from creation itself." His solemn gaze was riveted on them. "Use it wisely and carry it within your hearts. And bloom it, until it becomes the brightest fire that illuminates all of the Cosmos."
In a realm beyond, a blinding and quivering thread was held by three mighty hands, larger than universes.
And those hands were tightening on the quivering thread with all of their might in a desperate attempt to prevent what was about to transpire.
The blinding thread, representing the end fate of Prometheus, snapped on its own, with a sound that seemed to reverberate throughout all of creation.
In Olympus, the fire of civilization in the hands of Apollo separated into numerous tinder, merging with the hearts of humans.
"What did he do?" Athena immediately questioned Prometheus, who seemed to have finally calmed down.
Artemis and Aphrodite also focused on Prometheus, curious about his reaction. However, he just shook his head with a weak smile, remaining completely silent. Then, his emotional gaze fell on Apollo, who stood up and returned to them.
Apollo smiled, answering for Prometheus, "I granted them the fire of civilization, Athena. That is exactly what I did."
Athena glared at him before looking away in silence.
Artemis and Aphrodite retrained their curiosity and focused on the tiny humans, who were looking at them with a mix of fear and curiosity. Some brave ones even tried walking towards them, though with quivering legs.
"Aren't they cute?" Aphrodite said, trying to take one of them in her hands.
"You will break them." Artemis stopped her.
"I will not." Aphrodite snorted. "If it is anybody, then it is you, the Goddess of the Hunt."
Apollo stepped in and stopped their fight before it began. And then asked Prometheus, pointing at the humans. "So, should we just…"
"No." Prometheus shook his head, his voice still shaky, "My brother will guide them to the mortal world."
Apollo nodded, standing with his sister.
Meanwhile, Athena discreetly glanced at the Apollo, conflicted. She finally opened her mouth, as if to ask something.
But she was interrupted by a mighty voice that reverberated throughout the solar system, even beyond.
"I, Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec God of Sun, Wind, and Morning Star, challenge you, Phoebus Apollo, the Olympian God of the Sun and Light."
Apollo looked up without any surprise, feeling the divine gazes of all.
"I accept." He declared coolly.