We are all stories, you know. Heck, we are good stories. And everything we do shapes us into people that our loved ones say goodbye to when the last page comes to an end. Whatever we do, it helps our story progress. Eloise Anastopolous was just one of the stories. Thereis never just one protagonist or main character in a story, so she obviously wasn’t only either. I will tell you their stories too, but it seems as if the story started the moment when beautiful Cressida Anastopolous met god Apollo and gave birth of little Eloise soon after in ancient city of Olympia. You see, Cressida played a role of head priestess in Olympic Flame Lighting ceremony for Sydney Olympics. Of course, he already knew of her. She saw her playing inside the walls of his temple in Delphi since she was just a kid. Her parents were big important folks so Apollo wanted to know everything about them.
Ok, ok, I’ll slow down. You see, Anastopolous folks are this crazy ancient family from Delphi. And when I say ancient, I mean really, really, ancient. These people were there for building of Apollo’s temple and just… stayed. Their sons were priests, daughters were either priestess of Apollo or would go off to Athens or other places with big temples. That was their thing. It is said that some of them were even Vestal Virgins in Rome. Descendants of Hermes, but they didn’t produce that many demigods after. But they were brave and loyal people. For bravery of one of their women, Hecate herself granted her gift of magic, and so many of her female descendants inherited the gift. It’s said that of a female child shows signs of magic at young age, she was blessed by goddess herself and would grow to be best of the best, bravest among the bravest.
When modern ages came to be, and monotheism destroyed all the fun of having multiple gods, to protect what’s left of Delphi, Anastopolous family and few other good wishers put a magic barrier over ancient part of Delphi, the temple included, to shield it from eyes of regular mortals. They saw only ruins of majestic temple. Really, it wasn’t that hard. Mortals are stupid, they didn’t even realise that temple was moved a bit, so mortals and Delphi natives wouldn’t bother each other. Do you really think they would let their temple get destroyed like that? Of course not.
Eloise grew up in her grandparent’s villa, in this beautiful place named The Temple Square. She moved a lot with her mother, moving permanently to Athens when she was 6 years old. Eloise, or El as most called her, was insanely talented archer. Not a surprise, her father being god of archery and all that jazz. Athens was a dream. She grew up around girls and boys of her age with same passion for this sport. At age 11 she started traveling across the world to compete or train. Sometimes she would go to Canada and wouldn’t come home for months. Her coaches saw her as a prodigy who needed to keep training so that one day, she could compete for Greece in Olympics. For longest time, that was El’s dream.
But she was a demigod. And demigods never get to see their simple dreams come true.
If El’s childhood was part of a prologue, this would be first chapter of our story.
THE KID KILLED ANOTHERKID, BUT NOT REALLY
I don’t want to start this story with It was beautiful sunny day and nothing went wrong until… But it really was so….
It was beautiful sunny day in Athens. Finals day. El was competing for gold with some little German girl. They were even. Shoot off, judges said. So, they did. Her opponent was good, but El was better. German girl shot first. A 9. Not bad. That meant Eloise needed a 10. But not just a ten, she told herself. Bullseye. That’s how she was thought to do everything. If you want or need something, shoot even higher than that. She adjusted her bow, standing on the shooting line, her eyes on the target. When El was on shooting line, there was nothing at all in existence except her and the target. She would zone out. Literally. Crowds would disappear, crowds would go silent. Sometimes, if she had to think of someone, she would think of her father. She didn’t even know his name, of course, but her mom always said El looked like female version of his. She also said he was a star archer. El never knew the guy, but she had special amount of anger reserved just for this duschebag who left her mother and her before she was even born. So, she would think of him. “I would win if we competed. Guarantee”, she told herself.
And then she would shoot.
This time, something simply wasn’t ok. The air didn’t smell right. And something just felt off. She checked her bow ten times, thinking that could be the problem. Nope, the bow was fine. Arrows? Yes, in perfect order. Her mom just brought her new ones. She would get them from an arrow making friend of hers, she said. Eloise only ever shot with those arrows.
For first time in her life, El’s eyes wondered of the target and into the crowd. It would only happen to her once more, but she couldn’t have known that back then. In fifth or sixth row, some 100 meters on right from the targets, stood a little girl. El couldn’t see who she was with, but it seemed to her like the child was way too calm and way too fixated on her.
Ages later, Eloise was still not sure if she controlled what her arms did next. In matter of seconds, she turned her bow from the target and towards the crowd. Even before her arrow found her new target, the girl started screaming. El never heard something as horrific. That, together with the girl changing forms to a monstrous one for what seemed like split of a second, woke El from her trans. She dropped her bow as the arrow ended its path in
girl - monsters chest. Bullseye.
Rest was a blur. El screamed in agony as security and first aid team rushed towards where the girl – monster was.
It felt like a sudden wake up a bad dream. Her hands were shaking he dropped her bow. Tears fell across her face as she watched confused paramedics run towards the crow. El fell on the ground. She was scarred and confused. What we forget way too often about demigods is that they are just little and confused children. They are scared and no one even tries to help, always viewing them as some sort of myth, a person – no, a story – that cannot be destroyed. And if they do, well, that’s just a part of the story. Nothing less, nothing more.
Her mother watched as her daughter shot and the moment that arrow flied, she started running towards her daughter. She was stuck in a crowd, trying to get to El when she heard the screams. First f the monster-girl, and then her own child’s.
Cressida’s strong grip grabbed Eloise and pushed her thru the crowd and in the car. They rushed home, where her mom started manically packing their bags.
“Where are we going? Mamá? Mamá, listen to me! Mamá, I killed a child! But I swear, she…she looked like a monster! Like one of those giagiá always talks about, ones from the myths “, El screamed as her mother picked few of her arrows and two old wooden bows.
Cressida took her daughters hand, sitting with her on the bed.
“Yes honey. You are so smart, my beautiful daughter. I tried shielding you from that world, I tried… You know about the myths, you know about gods. One of them is your father. You are a demigod, méli “, she explained.
“Which one?”, was all Eloise could think of asking.
She wasn’t surprised. She was angry. Not at her mom, at her father. A god. So he thought El wasn’t worthy of father-daughter time, long practices where he would teach her archery and then let her win, birthday gifts and summer trips. Mortals are flawed. She could even forgive a mortal for such awful mistake. But gods? They are supposed to be perfect, flawless. She will never forgive him, she promised. And when she meets him, if she ever does, she will slap him for her mom.
“Ok, mile, we need to go now. There is a camp for your kind, in Rhode Island in America. But, something is going on there, we can’t go yet.”
“Are we going to Delphi?”
“No, no, we can’t. We are going to Quebec. Here, take this bow. Your arrows are made of bronze. They can kill monsters, but not mortals. If anything happens, shoot like your life depends on it. Trust me, it does.”
And so, they left. They took nothing but most important stuff. El managed to grab her denim Greek Archery Team jacket. Her friends and her burned in the words just few month ago in June, when they found out they would start their Olympic training that October. It was august when El had to leave. She couldn’t even say goodbye, and that would haunt her for years.