A dreadful thought crossed his mind: Should I abandon my quest and turn back now and live the rest of my days lonely and grieving my losses?
“No,” he answered aloud. “I will accept the uncertainty of my fate and move forward with hope.”
Once again, Loukas strode with wide steps along the pathway. He walked on and on, along hillsides and mountainsides, through valleys and canyons. On and on he walked until blisters formed on the heels of his feet and each step he took sparked a flame of pain.
With the sun just beginning its westward descent, Loukas started to descend into a valley swathed in a thick veil of bluish vapor. A dull trail of light in the distance was drawing him forward when the vapor lifted and a shower of sunlight bathed him in its golden radiance.
Loukas peered through hands that shielded his eyes from the sun’s fierce glare. The colossal facade of Destiny’s vermilion palace slowly came into focus. He let out a shuddering breath and climbed the marble steps that brought him to a soaring wooden door.
He stared at the door. His heart was pounding. Minutes passed. He sighed, grabbed the metal knocker, and struck the door with three hard thuds.
And then he waited.
Again, he knocked…and waited.
And yet again…
With his hope fading, the palace door suddenly wrenched open.
Destiny withdrew from the shadows. She was unusually tall. She radiated the stately manner of one privileged by royalty. A cavernous dark blue hood concealed her face. She was clothed in a purple tunic of loosely layered silks that reached to her ankles. The garment was embellished with images of planets, stars, suns, and moons sown in crimson floss. Scattered throughout the tunic’s oversized sleeves were embroidered medallions displaying a red glass eye in the center of two small, overlapping silver wings. Her jeweled fingers revealed her dark brown skin. She held a black onyx scepter studded with lapis lazuli stones and tipped with an enlarged replica of the medallion found on her sleeves.
Destiny stared quizzically at Loukas.
“Tell it true or not at all,” Destiny said in a soft but commanding voice. “What brings you to this hallowed place where humans fear to tread?” she asked.
“Pity me, oh, pity me, your grace,” cried Loukas, dropping his gaze and kneeling before Destiny. “I come to you racked with shame, but fired by hope. Save me, revered truth teller. Accept my remorse and rescue me from the dishonorable course my life has taken. Help me to find my way back to the blessings I recklessly squandered.”
“Ah, my misguided mortal,” Destiny said. She gestured for Loukas to stand. “The favor you seek will only be given if you meet one condition.”
“A condition, Your Highness?” Loukas asked.
“My son Ilion, the Sun, and my daughter Luna, the Moon, must join me to decide if you are deserving of our compassion,” Destiny said.
“In my mind’s eye, I watched you sacrifice the good life designed for you since before timeless time—a life created for you not by happenstance, mind you, but at my bidding,” Destiny said, peering at Loukas. “I watched you sink into the depths of pride. You dared to defile my sacred plan and fell under the spell of a trivial game of chance.”
Destiny then warned Loukas that when Sun returned from his daily labor and Moon from her nightly watch, they would meet with her to judge Loukas’s request. Together they would decide if he deserved to be reunited with his family. They would judge his worthiness to reclaim the riches that fate had made it possible for him to gain for sharing his musical gifts with the snake he so willingly befriended.
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