Apollo brandished a clay bowl in the palm of his hand, inserting it into his twin’s face. Artemis’s silvery eyes crossed as she tried and failed to determine what inhabited the bowl. “Apollo,” she pushed the bowl away with one finger as if it was infectious, “what is that?”
Apollo lifted his prominent nose. “It’s called ice cream.” He stated.
Artemis’s gaze widened and she steadied the silver tiara she wore atop her mountain of braids even though it was perfectly balanced. “Ice cream?” She repeated. “Where’d you come up with the idea of cold milk?”
Apollo sighed. “I saw it in a dream.”
“You mean that you stole the idea from a prophetic vision?” Hera clarified from her perch on the arm of Zeus’s seat.
“No.” Apollo scowled. “I did not steal the idea to invent ice cream from a prophecy.” It is not stealing to be blessed with an original idea while experiencing a vision of the future. Why must my family be one of simpletons? He wondered. Why must I bare the burden of being the only sophisticated one?
“Ice cream, as in frozen liquid from a cow’s teat?” Athena asked from across the stately meeting room.
“I think a cow’s nipples are called udders.” Zeus corrected from his golden throne.
Athena rolled her gray eyes. “While you are right, Father,” she said, “any mammal’s nipples can also be called teats, the definitions are interchangeable.”
“Ah, yes.” Zeus’s chuckle boomed across the room and his lightening crown fizzled. “I knew that.”
He didn’t but everyone ignored the king’s many shortcomings. Apollo cleared his throat to regain the Olympian’s attention. “Who wants to try it first?”
Ares, the plume of red feathers on his golden helmet drawing the eye like a target, edged closer to peer into the bowl. “You want us to try that?”
“Yes! Don’t get your filthy breath on it!” Apollo yanked the bowl out from under Ares’s nose and a few drips of the half-melted, sallow cream spattered onto the marble floor.
Ares wrinkled his nose at the wan substance. “Eww.”
“Why-!” Apollo huffed and stomped his foot, about to toss his hands in the air.
“I’ll try it.” Artemis hurried to interrupt him before he could spill all the ice cream onto the tile. Apollo handed her the bowl while glaring at Ares.
Artemis smoothed her peplos, a long piece of fabric folded and worn like a long cloak or shawl and sniffed the brim of the bowl. “Why does it smell like that?”
Apollo crossed his arms over his himation, almost a male version of the peplos, and his annoyed cobalt gaze shifted to his twin. “It’s garlic flavored.” He answered with a haughty tilt of his head.
“How much you wanna bet it sucks?” Ares whispered to Aphrodite behind him.
Aphrodite’s manicured hand fluttered to her mouth. “Ares, that’s a very rude thing to say about your brother’s invention-”
“I bet ten gold plates.” Zeus announced.
“You’re on!” Ares grinned.
“Immortals.” Athena muttered as if she weren’t one of them.
Apollo ignored them and nodded to Artemis. “Go on.”
With great reluctance the goddess of the hunt plunged a bronze spoon into the ice cream. She lifted a tiny half-formed bit to her mouth and slid it between her teeth. All twelve of the other Olympian gods watched her with rapt attention.
For a moment she gave Apollo a small smile and he shot the other gods a triumphant smirk. The trouble came when she tried to swallow. She couldn’t do it. She coughed and spat the yellowish goo back into the bowl. “Titan teeth, that’s terrible.” She sputtered. “Sorry, Brother.”
The other deities burst into titters. “You owe me ten gold plates!” Ares shouted at Zeus as Athena doubled over with laughter. Aphrodite covered her painted red lips with a hand to hide her giggling, leaning on the armor-clad Ares for support. Zeus was chuckling so hard that he couldn’t even speak. Not even Artemis could keep a smile from her face.
“I hate you all!” Apollo declared and turned on his heel. His ears burning as he tromped from the room, his sandals slapping the marble with each violent step. He had never been so offended in his life. That’s what I get for trying to share culture from the future with my family! Ingrates! He was so worked up that he considered returning to his own palace for a nap, maybe his next dream of the future would yield better results, but he decided against it. There was no way he would fall asleep being this upset. He needed to calm down first.
Naturally, there was nothing more comforting to the Olympian sun god than venting his frustration out on mortals.
So, Apollo climbed to the top of the Sun Tower, stopping to grab his bow and quiver along the way, and glanced into the distance. The Sun Tower was the highest point on the floating Islands of Olympus, providing the best view. To one side were the crests of the Olympian Mountain Range and to the other the land of Greece unfolded like a craggy scroll. Apollo turned from the mountains and peeked into the nearest human village to Olympus which was still very far away. His gaze jumped from one mortal to the next until he settled on a raggedly dressed man holding a goat in his arms. His long dark hair was twirled by the breeze and a straw hat adorned his head. He was whistling and smiling as he left the village to travel down a dirt path.
There was something off about the man and Apollo soon realized what it was. Bumping against the man’s chest on a long cord was an ankh necklace. It was carved of wood and in the shape of a cross with a looped top. Apollo gasped. The ankh was a symbol of Egypt and Egyptian gods! Apollo had met some of those guys before and they weren’t all that great, besides being unbelievably attractive and turning into animals that was. They were arrogant and full of themselves, the whole lot of them. What imbecile would wear the propaganda of other gods while strolling Greek ground? Apparently, this fool, it was lucky that Apollo had spied him first, Zeus would have just smote him on the spot.
His happiness and freely tossed ankh necklace only increased Apollo’s grumpiness and without removing his sharp eyes from the man Apollo notched an arrow in his bow. As he aimed for the man’s heart he murmured to the arrow. “Plague him with a deathless existance, give him an endless hunger for what makes him human, and make the sun his worst enemy.” Still thinking about his failed invention, he added. “And make him allergic to garlic too.” The curse uttered; Apollo released the string.
The arrow found a home in the man’s heart. He staggered and dropped the goat. Falling on his spine, the man laid still. The goat waddled to the man and leered over his face. The man’s skin lost it’s color and the goat turned from him in disinterest. Before it could get far the man’s clawed, blueish hand reached out and snatched it by the throat. The man brought his mouth and newly grown fangs to the goat’s hide. He drank the animal’s blood until it was empty. Then he scuttled into the woods, cringing from the sunlight.
Serenity flooded Apollo as he lowered his bow. He took a deep breath as the angry stiffness left his muscles. “Ah.” He said with contentedness as the cursed individual vanished from sight, howling in agony. “That’s nice.” Then he climbed down from the Sun Tower humming and went to dream up his next invention.