All through the night, Loukas cowered at the yelps and cries, the baying and shrieking of restless animals that grew startled by his heavy footfalls. Suddenly, a rush of winged creatures circling overhead sent Loukas running down the path far from their harsh squeals.
Hours later, the first streaks of light dappled the path. As Loukas drew nearer to a broad chain of jagged cliffs, flocks of jet-black ravens soared and glided on gentle breezes. Their loud, throaty croaking pierced the dawn’s stillness.
Here is Ravens Peak, the very bluff Keeper had told of, Loukas thought.
Not far beyond the bluff’s steep rock face, a woman’s screams drew Loukas into a misty clearing.
Once he moved past a narrow bend, he spied three young ladies flailing about. Each threw handfuls of dirt onto flames racing through a pile of brush that stood within reach of a wooden cottage.
At once, Loukas sped to the water trough that stood nearby the cottage. With bucketsful of water, he doused the fire within minutes.
When the danger had passed, the ladies thanked Loukas for his kindness.
Loukas gaped at the ladies in wonder. The strange white gloss of their complexions roused his curiosity.
“May my sisters and I inquire as to what brings you to this forsaken place where even swallows rarely fly by?” the sister with wild crimson hair asked.
“I am on my way to seek the healing powers of Destiny,” Loukas replied. “I will appeal to Destiny; her son Ilion, the Sun; and her daughter Luna, the Moon, to save me from my disgrace. I pray they will help me overcome the loss I suffered because of my hateful pride.”
“Such a pity, sir,” said the sister with a towering shock of shaggy, coal-black hair.
“Allow us to inform you that Destiny, Sun, and Moon are not easily won over,” she warned.
“Time upon time, my sisters and I have joined our mother, Kallo, to plead with Destiny, Sun, and Moon to bless us with the miracle of true love,” explained the crimson-haired sister.
“Again, and yet again, we have sought the approval of that hard-hearted trio,” said the sister with deep scraggly green hair, the color of seaweed. Regret filtered through her every word.
“But nothing…” offered the black-haired sister, with a loud sigh.
“Yet, if you still have it in mind to petition Destiny, Moon, and Sun for deliverance from your disgrace,” the black-haired sister told him, “then you must head due north and look for the mother, son, and daughter in their dazzling vermilion palace.”
“And when you come to that hallowed place, let them hear of the flame of desire that burns eternal in our hearts,” implored the crimson-haired sister.
In one tender voice, the sisters softly sang their prayer of longing:
“O, Destiny, O Sun, O Moon,
May your wisdom our happiness favor,
To each of us grant a sacred union to savor,
Inspired by love eternally kept sublime,
Forged into bliss by your grand design.”
Bringing his hands to his lips, Loukas bowed to the sisters’ bidding. He promised to stand before Destiny, Moon, and Sun with the sisters’ request, should he ever wander into the hallowed presence of the fearsome mother, daughter, and son.
At their farewell, the sisters offered Loukas a sprig of dried heather and a sackful of bread, cheese, and olives. He thanked them and pointed himself due north to once again take up his quest.
“May courage be your compass,” the red-haired sister called to him.
“May caution be your guide,” cried the black-haired sister.
“And may good fortune be your reward,” declared the three in one voice.
Loukas pressed onward. From time to time, he reached into his satchel and took out his flute. As he moved briskly down the path, he settled on playing a cheerful tune to fight off his fear of Destiny’s rejection. One of his favorite songs followed the adventurous journey of a wandering seafarer on his way homeward.
Loukas smiled, recalling happy times when Lambros danced to the seafarer’s joyful story. Whenever Loukas played the song, the snake never failed to sway to the music’s changing chords.
Will I ever again find the peace and happiness that came into my life when Lambros and I became friends? Loukas thought, sadly.
Just as the sun was edging toward the day’s zenith, Loukas stopped to rest in a grove of olive trees. No sooner had he settled onto the cool earth than a raggedy giant came barreling down the path and stood over him, snorting. The giant dwarfed Loukas with its huge body.
“What brings you to this forsaken place where even the egret rarely flies?” the giant asked in a thunderous voice. It studied Loukas with large, soulful eyes.
Jolted backward from the giant’s explosive greeting, Loukas surveyed its hulking appearance.
The giant’s facial features reminded Loukas of a frog’s curious expression. In place of hands and arms, the giant had gangly flippers. Brown algae covered its webbed feet. Topping its head was an untamed mane of green reeds. It wore a threadbare cloak with a patchwork display of underwater plants and creatures. An odor of sulfur hovered over its massive frame.
“My friend,” replied Loukas, cowering from the giant’s sheer bulk, “I’m on my way to Destiny’s palace. I will seek the advice of Destiny and her son Ilion, the Sun, and her daughter Luna, the Moon, to show me the way to mend my broken heart and turn my ruined life around.”
“You poor man,” roared the giant. “No one knows better than me that the mercy you expect from that fickle family is denied far more times than it is given. Look around you,” it howled. It grimaced with disgust as it waved a flipper over the parched, cracked riverbed.
“Time after time I have begged Destiny for rains to get my river flowing. Again, and yet again, I have pleaded for relief from the drought that has dried up this entire valley. But nothing!” mourned the giant.
“You, though, you’re thinking you’ll strike a bargain with those cunning soothsayers,” the giant bellowed.
Well, then, if Loukas still believed he could sway Destiny and her son and daughter to free him of his suffering, he must be on his way into the northern woods.
“Sooner or later,” the giant said, “you will arrive at the glowing vermilion palace where that troublesome family has lived since long before the beginning of earthly time. Should you meet up with that mischievous mother and her untrustworthy offspring, speak to them about me. Tell them Kimon, the river spirit, lives forever with the hope of bringing his waterway back to life.”
Drawing himself up to his fullest height, Kimon poured out his prayer of yearning for relief:
“That your design, O sacred sages, these currents may you favor,
To quench with rains the Earth will surely savor,
Thus every living thing may once more thrive,
A grateful chorus chanting, ‘Alive! Alive! Alive!’”
Before taking his leave, Loukas nodded his promise to bring Kimon’s case before Destiny, Sun, and Moon—if only he could be sure that one day soon he would find himself speaking his heart and mind to them.
At Loukas’s farewell, Kimon bent low and handed him a cluster of myrtle leaves. Loukas offered his gratitude with a smile.
Watching Loukas wander off, Kimon called to him in a full-throated voice: “May courage be your compass, caution your guide, and good fortune your reward.”
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