I slumped to the ground lush with green grass, my eyes filled with tears. I saw more than any man could have ever seen in his entire life, and yet I knew nothing, much less understood it. That child god Eros, what “honor” could he be talking about? What was I to do, having been taken away from my homeland to a place so high no man could ever reach? What exactly had happened, and why it happened so? Had my family or I myself committed a dreadful sacrilege out of ignorance against the gods on high, and so this was their punishment for our insolence? What would happen to me, then? Would I ever get to return home? What would happen to my family? The blessings of the deathless were the most generous, but so much greater were their punishments once us mortals displeased them. I cried, trembling in fear at the thought of my family and homeland in impending demise for an offence that I might have committed out of folly.
The mere moments ago when I was still living a carefree life now seemed so far away….
A voice, deep and gentle, slow and assuring, vibrated and lingered in my head, for I heard it not from my ears. All my fears were gone that instant. I froze on the spot, unsure of myself. Did I imagine it?
Something light and warm touched me, something strangely familiar, and I looked up to find the eagle before my eyes, standing tall and proud. One of its wings was still resting on my arm, its feathers ruffled due to the flight from not so long ago, when its firm but gentle claws had held me as it brought me here. Just like how my fears were chased away, so gone was all my anger, and I could only sit and stare into the bright blue orbs of the creature, not knowing what to expect.
Did it just talk to me? But how, for not a single sound was heard? Was it my mind playing tricks on me? No, it could not be so…
Surely you would know who he is?
In this place far beyond the wildest fantasy of earthbound mortals, I should have known…
That no rules applied for the gods.
The eagle folded its wings and tilted its head. Its eyes locked into mine, wide as if it was expecting something. Something like a response.
He wanted me to respond.
I gulped, and my head went spinning as it was put to the unexpected test. He was not my friend, so it would not be “Hi”. “Hello” did not sound right either. And I could not kneel and address him in long flowery speeches like how my father’s subjects addressed their king, seeing as I was already staring him dead in the face. Should I mimic the way his priest addressed him during the rituals? But then, I was not offering him any sacrifices. I even had no clue on why he had brought me here. He just merely called my name, and now I had to think of how to…
I gaped at the eagle. It could not be, could it?
If he had just called my name, then…
I tried to swallow an invisible lump clogging my throat, feeling my heart beating violently. It felt so heavy, this single word, yet it came out softer than any whisper:
The creature tilted its head to the other side and blinked, its eyes twinkled under the soft sunlight. Its wings then stretched out, and as it did so strong winds suddenly came forth. The sun grew many times more dazzling, countless leaves danced furiously in the air. Great trees swayed as heavenly birds fled in all directions, and the ground rumbled with tremors from deep below while the sky echoed with thunder above. I was on all fours, my face buried in the grass as terror ran throughout my body. But the next instant all was calm, swift as though nothing had happened, and I heard again that deep and gentle voice which had come from within me:
It now came from above, and my heart eased as it carried apparent warmth. Shaken but at nowhere injured, I slowly looked up.
That was when I first saw him.
He appeared to me in greatest splendor, the rough tongues of men could never tell justice of his overwhelming aura. His eyes were of the most magnificent shade of blue, the color of the sky itself. With them he could caress and kill, for he saw all and knew all. His hair, like Eros, shone the shade of finest royal gold, his fair skin glowed on his toned and youthful form. A towering stature, while intimidating at first glance, made him even more of a lovely sight when beheld at leisure. I was enraptured, my voice had gone for good. He gave me a soft smile when our eyes met, and in a split second I almost forgot who I was as the world felt void of all grief and sorrow. Father of gods and men, ruler above all, one who wielded the mighty thunderbolt, such is Zeus who had come to me in the guise of a great eagle, and on his strong wings he carried me to Olympus.
Seeing you was beyond all dreams…
Before I realized, the king of the gods in one swift movement had whisked me into his strong arms. His face was closer to mine than ever, and I found myself drowning further in his eyes. My head went dizzy, I could hardly breathe. And perhaps my face looked very funny, for he gave a small laugh as he addressed me for the first time:
“Lovely child of man, what a fine voice you have.”
The god looked to be in a very good mood, and it dawned on me at last that I was not here to be punished for whatever reason after all. What a relief, then, that nothing bad would happen to my family…
“Why did you…”
I froze, unable to finish my word. That powerful gaze I once felt in my dream… Zeus was eyeing me intently. His fingers went tracing around my face, paused at my cheek before resting on my lips. It grew hot on my skin wherever he touched, and I could hear my own heart beating loudly without pattern as his face drew even closer. The look in his eyes became unbearable, yet before I could drop my gaze to the ground beneath his fingers moved to my chin and held it in place. Then came a light pull, and I tasted a sweetness that was most divine as our lips finally met. It was soft as if born from both wind and water, and warm like the first light of the rising sun. It lasted for a brief wonderful moment, and left me yearning for more once it ended. I opened my eyes to meet his own, happy and full of love, and the god chuckled as he held me close:
“Lovely child, you are very pleasing to me indeed.”
Ah, I got it…
“I am glad I brought you here.”
He wanted me.
His intent gaze fell upon me once more, but I was no longer wary of it, for now I knew it held no ill will nor harshness, only affection and favor. I could now discern what Eros had meant to say: It was truly a great honor for a mortal to have found favor in the eyes of the gods. Although, this was a slightly different kind of honor…
“I must say, I very much enjoyed the taste of your lips.”
I quickly avoided Zeus’s eyes and stared at the grass around his feet, and he laughed as my face went hot from embarrassment. But the next moment his hand lifted my face up, and as our eyes met again his gaze grew more solemn. From his mouth came the unerring words that forever changed my life:
“Ganymede, you will stay with me here on Olympus, and be among the gods.”