A New Dawn

They say that every hero has a weakness. My weakness comes only from the love of my mother. You may have heard stories of old, but I assure you they are not all accurate. You will not find another to best me in combat, with the exception of some of the Gods and Goddesses. I have the swiftest hand and an invulnerable body.

I give gratitude for my mother for dipping me in the water that gave me this gift, but I have a weakness: my heel was vulnerable to weapons of mortals. It’s the only part of my body she was able to hold onto me as she lowered me into the waters that coated me in indestructibility. Even with a weakness, I have strived in combat. I have worn the blood of my enemy and instilled fear in the hearts of massive armies. I have been the turning tide of wars.

Since my return to Olympus, my days have been…eventful to say the least. Some things have changed, like most of the Gods mingling with mortals. Other things have remained, like certain loves…and Hera’s disgusting hatred for all things demigod. Alas, I learned that I am still envious of the Gods and Goddesses. This is something I thought I was passed. I never interacted with most deities before I ghosted all those years ago. I never got to watch love bloom and flourish. The world is certainly different. I am different.

I want to tell you a little about where I’ve been, and what I’ve been doing for thousands of years. Let’s start after my son’s funeral. I left Greece and vowed to never return until I had something to reverse the memory loss of Ares. I think getting all of this off my chest will simmer the fire brewing inside me.

The years flew by rapidly as I jumped from war to war, country to country. I wore hundreds of uniforms and had always chosen at random, which side to fight for. Well, that wasn’t always the case; wrong is wrong, after all. I fought as I always had for hundreds of years with a sword and shield. Warfare had gradually begun to take different forms, so I adjusted. The shield was always more for show than protection.

As the dawn of ranged fighting pushed forth, I developed my own style of fighting and stopped trying to blend into militias. So, I dropped the shield and went to one sword. I lost the unhandy metal armor and switched to leather and cloth. I stopped following orders and came to annihilate. After several years of this work, I’ll admit I grew bored with mortals. So I sent word to Hephaestus and requested an identical sword to the first one he made me. It seemed unlikely I would get word back, but I wasn’t returning to Olympus yet.

Nearly a year had passed. I was held up in Persia and one day upon returning to my palace, I noticed a crate awaiting. It took me a few minutes to figure out the locks were made by Heph to keep mortals out. My sword broke them with ease, in contrast to the hammers and rods I had shattered.

I was impressed: the sword was an exact replica from his memory. Then, battles became exhilarating. The same amount always tried to tear me down, the same amount always fell. After switching to dual swords, I became faster. It was then that I started to learn about one of my gifts. I called it Adaptation because…well, that’s what it is. Anything that was faster than me, stronger, or ailed me in any mortal way, my body would adapt.

During the rise of firearms and technology advances of steel, my body went through the most changes. Generally, my body would take a day to adapt. I remember the first bullet that hit me. Even with my prowess, I wasn’t swift enough. I was knocked backward. Honestly, it pissed me off. That day I was enraged enough to slaughter several hundred. Mortal flesh is no match for the God Swords. Quite frankly, neither is bone.

I remember the first day I cut a man in half. It was the most disgusting and yet impressive act I’d done. Whispers and rumors began to arise concerning my immortality and ability to destroy lives. I played right into it. I am a few thousand years old and have slaughtered triple that in battles.

However, as time went on, I began to question my purpose in this world. Was I destined to be a warmonger and harbinger of death? Maybe. I lost sight of why I left Olympus and Greece entirely. I set my sights on finding a way to procure an anti-mindswipe. I picked up on rumors and studied text of histories. This path took me into a supernatural world I didn’t know existed. I had always heard stories of myths and creatures. Over time, that’s what Olympus had become to the world: simply a myth.

I met a young man, a hunter of night creatures. His name was Abraham Van Helsing. He hunted vampires mostly, and eventually gained immortality as a werewolf. Crazy, right? He enjoyed the limelight and as such was made famous in books and movies. That was the opposite of what I wanted. I wanted to stay hidden. With that said, Abe did help me track down a Wiccan that made various potions of sorts. He wasn’t inclined to help, but I persuaded him in my own way.

Finally, I had obtained what I searched for nearly two thousand years. My hope and joy faded as I thought about it more. I was not ready to face the wrath of the Gods if things went sideways. I needed to adapt more. So, I dove back into war and perfected my craft. Eventually, I created different tools and fighting styles. I spent a few hundred years studying from different grandmasters in martial arts. I mastered every weapon I could get my hands on. I went against the fastest and strongest creatures I could find. I became a ghost, but I started getting tracked. Different leaders of the world called upon my aid to overturn wars, or flat out end them.

On August 6, 1945, I made my greatest Adaptation ever in Japan. The power that I had absorbed that day was a hundredfold of weapons beforehand. I wanted to die because of the pain inside my body. I overcame it. I did this with every technology advance for the last seventy years. Atom bombs, hydrogen bombs, various poisons and gases, rail guns, robots, jets and man made me what I am today, an indestructible force.

Now that I have returned to Olympus, I have to live a new life. My days of war are relatively done. I have to restore history in the minds of Gods and Goddesses. My love for one still burns as bright as ever. I don’t know if she will have me…I’ve been childish and dramatic in my return. I want to stay, but I need to become something better…something more. I have decided to build a hospital, an all-encompassing academy, and a companion center. I must balance philanthropy and my destiny to be a warmonger. It’s time for me to find balance in myself.

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Achilles (C.S. Ratliff)
C.S. Ratliff is the pen name for a published fantasy author, veteran, and martial artist family man. By day, he is a carpenter full time, and by night, the magical creations happen. He loves his wife and two children, and more than anything hopes one day to inspire them to be themselves and create what they want to share with the world. Achilles in #thepantheon
Achilles (C.S. Ratliff)

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