This is written in response to the Jungle Challenge in the forum - CAMP JUPITER.
This series will be a collection of one-shots. Here is the first chapter. Hope you enjoy it.
The Jungle book
Chapter – 1 "The Eagle and its prey"
Characters : Ganymede, Zeus
Summary : The most prized Jewel of Troy was neither a diamond nor the Crown! It was Ganymede, the most attractive of all the men. The young prince was mocked as weak all his life, but he aspired to be free, free to go where he wanted! His aspirations almost come true when he is allowed out of the palace for a ritual, but Zeus, the king of the gods has other plans...
The royal palace of Troy was a truly magnificent sight. With its gigantic towers and beautiful gardens, many would claim that it was the most beautiful palace in the world. But, the most prized jewel of Troy did not lie in its royal coffers.
A young man strolled in the royal gardens. The mesmerizing orchids, intoxicating roses or even the sight of the beautiful marigolds, none could compare to his beauty. He was Ganymede, the son of Tros, founder of Troy. But today, Ganymede was lost in thought as he contemplated his future in the kingdom.
He had always known that he was neither like his brothers nor the other heroes. He was not overly muscled, and with his youthful face and lithe body, he stood out among the broad –shouldered and bulky heroes of Greece. His almost feminine features had made him a subject of mockery in the society, but he had not fallen prey to their cruelty.
He had proved that his looks were his strength and not his weakness. A single glance from his sparkling blue eyes or the curve of his lips could make the most handsome of men and the prettiest of women fall on his feet.
He would be of age tomorrow and he would have to venture into the forest to graze the royal sheep. This was a ritual that every hero had to complete before they could begin their adventurous journey to defeat monsters and please the Olympian gods.
Personally, Ganymede had no interest in killing monsters. All his life, he had been told that he was weak and had no talent in combat. His own father had scornfully told him to leave the fighting to his brothers. This had convinced him to think that he was incapable of fighting and he had never learnt the way of the sword.
But, Ganymede strived to break the invisible chains that society had bound him in. He did not want to be confined to the royal palace like a bird in a gilded cage. He wanted to travel all around the world. He wanted to visit every empire and learn the cultures of their people. He wanted to experience the free air of the mountains and the frigid drafts of rivers. Even the thought of this freedom filled his blood with excitement and was startled out of his thoughts by someone calling his name loudly. He turned around to see his father and bowed in respect.
"Son, what are you doing here alone? Did I not ask you to always take guards with you everywhere?"
Ganymede bristled with rage at his father's words. This was his life – treated like a precious commodity that always needed to be guarded.
"I am not as weak as you think I am, Lord Tros. I have not even stepped out of the palace. There is no need for guards."
Tros glared at Ganymede in annoyance. "The King of Athens has sent a message that his daughter is ready to be married. I want you to meet her and put her under your spell. If you get married, then we will gain a powerful ally."
Ganymede's throat closed in panic. If he was married to some foreign princess, then all his dreams and aspirations would be broken. He would be confined to the palace and travelling would become nothing more than an unattainable dream. His voice shook as he asked
"But tomorrow is my turning of age ceremony. I have to follow the ritual and graze the royal sheep in the forest. The gods will curse our city if I don't do that."
Tros sighed. "We are a new city and cannot risk angering the gods. You will complete the ritual and afterwards, you will be escorted to Athens to meet the princess. We need this treaty. Do not disappoint me Ganymede.
Zeus, the king of Olympus sat on his golden throne. He was in a bad mood today. Hebe, who served as the cup-bearer of the Gods was now married to Herakles, so she had to be relieved of her duties. It was now his duty to find a replacement for her.
He had suggested the Titaness Leto to replace Hebe, but Hera had screamed at him that she would never allow a woman to be the cup-bearer. Zeus sighed in annoyance. Hera did not understand his needs. She was becoming more and more difficult to deal with.
He waved his hands and a vision of the mortal world appeared before him. He looked at all the beautiful women he could have asked to serve him. It was much easier than sneaking out to Earth to meet them.
Just then his gaze fell upon a boy walking out of the royal garden of Troy. He seemed to have three hounds and a large herd of sheep accompanying him. The boy was the most beautiful mortal Zeus had ever seen. Enchanted by the boy's beauty, Zeus transformed into a magnificent Eagle and flew down to Troy.
There was a single thought in his mind – "That boy will be mine."
Ganymede tightened his fur cloak around his body and whistled at the royal hounds to follow him. He had entered the forest, and he would have to venture only a little further before reaching the grazing ground. He looked around in wonder at the tall trees and inhaled the smell of pine. This was the first time he had been allowed to step out of the palace. He smiled with anticipation and excitement.
Suddenly, he heard his hounds barking loudly. He turned around to see what was wrong and saw them howling loudly at the sky. He looked up and saw a giant eagle swooping down towards him. He tried to run and shield himself with his cloak but the eagle tore it up with its sharp talons. He felt his legs lift off the ground and started screaming and flailing around.
He slowly opened his eyes and realized that the Giant Eagle had captured him in its talons and was carrying him upwards. The hounds were barking loudly and trying to leap into the air, but the eagle was too fast and powerful.
He felt wind whipping around his face and his shredded cloak slipped from his body and fell onto the ground. He felt his consciousness slipping and blacked out.
When Ganymede first opened his eyes, he could not see anything. Everything was too bright. Slowly, his eyes adjusted and he examined his surroundings. It was a large room with beautifully carved pillars and ornate thrones, but there were no people in it. He wondered what was happening when a bright flash blinded him. A man appeared on the throne in front of him.
"You are awake. Good." The man spoke in a powerful voice.
Ganymede, terrified in the unknown surroundings, stuttered out- "Wh-where am I?"
"You are in the throne room of Olympus. I am Zeus, the king of the gods and I have chosen you to become the cup-bearer of the Gods." His captor declared.
Ganymede was frozen in shock. He did not want this. He had hoped to be free from the palace of Troy and travel the world. Now a god had kidnapped him and expected him to work for him.
"My Lord, with all due respect, I have no wish to become the cup bearer of the Gods. Please allow me to return."
Zeus smirked sadistically and with a sudden wave of his hand, blasted Ganymede back using a bolt of lightning.
"Foolish mortal, do you think you have a choice? I have already made you immortal. From now on, your only job is to serve me. You are nothing more than my servant." With these cruel words, Zeus flashed away from the council room.
As Ganymede lay there, trembling in fear and pain, tears flowed from his eyes at the injustice done to him. All his life, he had lived as a bird in a gilded cage. He had dreamed to travel the world. He had been nothing more than a slave, and now, for the rest of his life, he would never be anything more.
Words – 1384
Centurion, Cohort - 3
Author - Hestia
Beta Reader - Dgreatsparky
Did you guys like this story. Thanks to Dgreatsparky for beta-reading this.
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Thank you - Hope you liked it.