I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable Who: Pan [Vinnie] and Hermes [Percy] What: Hermes seeks to track down his son. Pan has another game in mind, a.k.a. what goes around, comes around.... Where: Dreamland, a land of dreams and a place for dreams to land. When: [Backdated to] April 28th
He slept fitfully this night, be it because of the haphazard dinner he’d thrown together, or maybe it was just the whiskey. No matter the cause, the result was the same; Percy tossed and turned in bed, blankets tangled around his limbs as his subconscious defied the limits of the invisible restraints currently placed upon the exits of Pax Letale.
It went out, away from the building, away from the city, away into the roving hills where man dared not go after dark. It came upon a pool of water, and paused to consider its own reflection taking shape amongst the moss and the small, swimming animals--a face which was youthful and vibrant, shrewd and unmindful of anything which did not serve its own purposes.
Stepping lightly through the blades of grass damp with the night’s dew, he fully arrived--casting aside the mortal’s suspicions with merely a shake of his head. High-pitched laughter came from beyond the clearing, followed by the rustling of cloven hooves beating against the hallowed earth, no doubt seeking paths which only the bravest or most foolhardy would dare to tread.
He had been called worse in his time.
Quickly, Poimandres ran toward the laughter, his white cloak a flurry of blurred movement behind him. When he paused, he caught glimpses in the moonlight of a small child; the boy’s hair was askew, filled with leaves and twigs, and his round cheeks were rosy despite the scrubby dirt which clung to him like a second skin. Below the waist, he was no longer a human child--a lively goat's hooves stamped the ground impatiently, waiting for his father to chase him again. This game had been played between the two of them many times, yet it had been so long since Pan’s childhood.
Unease settled within Hermes’ soul. He lived a life of delivering messages to others, and knew that now it was his turn to receive news. “Pan Agreus,” he called to the boy, smiling despite his discomfort. “Come now, walk with me instead. These are strange lands, and I would not have you lost.”
But the child shrieked with delight, taking his father’s words for a continuation of their little game. When he ran again, he was taller, older somehow. Hermes did not stop to contemplate the machinations behind this sudden transformation; he ran.
A quick heart beat inside a small chest as the satyr ran through darkened woods, little more than a fat-bellied faun. Though laughter spilled freely as he fled his father, his delight was made shrill by the tinge of fear; a creeping dread worsened by hills he did, and did not, know. The brushes he pushed through grabbed at him and his lengthening legs, tried to catch his arms as no limbs would dare in the green hills and forests of his beloved home.
There was greenery here to tramp underfoot, under hooves so much quicker than e’er they’d been when he was this age in truth. Where pride should have been at the accomplishment was only the increasing dread that spurred it; where grass should have flourished, it struggled to maintain under the memory of a baking sun. Hot air caught in his beard, beginning to thicken from the soft down of childhood, and Pan’s face turned with the motion to glance behind, seeking the reassurance of his father’s face.
The apparent change to Pan’s form was evident, despite the flashes of light from the moon. Hermes ducked and weaved amongst the trees and undergrowth, endeavoring to keep up with his son. He gave silent thanks for his talaria, which carried him ever swiftly forward, as if propelled by sheer will alone. And yet the sandals, never having let him down before, simply could not aid him in gaining enough ground on the swift-footed satyr. Impossible,, the slayer of Argus swore to himself.
“Pan!” He called out, his voice swallowed by the dark forest--but he did not fear whatever might live in this strange, mortal realm. “Pan, stop this mischief of yours!” Hermes leapt over a fallen branch, divinity the only aspect keeping his cloak from becoming entangled in the briars and loose tree limbs. Pushing himself to move faster, he thought he had caught up with Pan, only to discover nothing but shadows in his grasp. “Son, this is unacceptable behavior, as you well know,” he chided, moving nimbly as if a deer in the forest. Had he been a mortal man, he would have been sorely winded by this point; thanks be to his godhood that he was not, or he might never catch up to his child.
In truth, the rapidly aging god would like nothing more than to abide by his father’s wishes. As his limbs lengthened and thickened with the full vigor of his prime, so did the capacity to recognize the urgency of prophecy spurring his steps. God though he was, the inexorability of what had begun as a merry chase twisted his stomach, for the dread that had spurred his steps only increased as he ran.
But still the cause remained hazy, as much a shadow to his eyes as the ones his father grasped in his wake. This was not right; it was not his place to be here, so far from home, outrunning the swiftest of all Olympians. This was not natural that the brambles should scrape at him, snatching fur and leaving red in their wake, nor that rocks and sand should make his footing unsteady. It was not right that he should pant for breath and taste a heavy, thick perfume in the air instead of the clear night wind.
And then one of the branches caught him cross his brow, and Pan knew with terrifying clarity what his father was meant to see that night. For under the cloying smell was the scent of human blood, and where the thorns had torn at him was not blood, but fur the color of. In horror Pan recoiled, his hooves skidding as he struggled against the urgings to press on; not this, of all to show his beloved father not this cruel memory.
The god of Arkady lost his footing and fell, and as his furred knees hit the rocky ground the redness in them paled, turning the silver of the moon.
Many things had crossed the vision of Archus Pheleteon in his time; some had stunned him, others had simply bored him. His son’s immediate transformation did neither; the unsettling feeling, starting low within his encroaching sense of apprehension, became as uncomfortable to experience as it must have been to accept the foreboding news delivered to mortal victims of fate’s wry hand.
He grew waxen under the moonlight, steps quickening as if he could have prevented his son’s fall. Dark, unruly curls plastered themselves to the god’s brow as he rushed to Pan’s side, only now able to accomplish this previously unattainable feat. A brief thought flashed through the wily god’s mind; was it his brush with mortality that caused his steps to be slower? How soon before he would be unable to cover seemingly endless miles in the blink of an eye?
These thoughts were vanquished as he endeavored to help the fallen god rise again. “Did I not warn you?” Hermes scolded Pan lightly, reassuring his son with a smile. “This is not the realm you know, and I’m afraid I am not entirely familiar with it, either. But this can be dealt with at another time,” continued the loquacious god, stooping to ascertain the extent of Pan’s injuries--an old habit which he found he’d been unable to break, regardless of Pan’s age. “For now, I would much rather enjoy your company. Tell me of your travels.”
Even in the terror of the moment, the strain of willing his face not to lengthen and the whispers of a desert language hissing in his ear, the immediate presence of his father twisted an aching face into a smile. He had been so fortunate, so heedless of his extraordinary circumstances to be so loved by all who dwelt in the halls of the gods.
And selfish even now, for despite the blood trickling down his face from the cruel thorns Pan allowed himself to lean against he stainless, to take comfort in the warmth and solid strength of his father's shoulders. His own began to wither as never they had in truth, his flat teeth gritted with the effort of displaying the weakness he had been reduced to instead of that which he had been twisted into in the minds of those who breathed and died mortal lives.
(‘Get thee behind me,’ a god’s son had spoke to him; but it was not to Pan he spoke.)
It was not a lie he showed, not a lie he clung to as he raised his head, the moonlight of a scorched land casting shadows in the deepening creases of his face. “Where I have been I pray you will never go,” was his answer, given in a voice bending to the weight of time. “Though I have missed you dearly, I would curse none I love to walk those dark places with me.”
The gasp came unbidden from his mouth, a startled intake of air not befitting to one whom so often controlled the elements of surprise; before Hermes, his son continued to age, casting aside the strong vigour of his prime. This man before him, half-goat though he might be, had never been been thus affected by age--for the blood of the gods flowed through his veins, a tried and true deflector of senility and more unsavory, physical aspects of old age.
Not so now. Not so as his son’s face twisted before the messenger god, crevices adding a new depth to his visage, his hair lightening to gray. Their roles had reversed in a matter of minutes; Hermes now stood taller than his son, stronger, more nimble than the goat-footed god of Arkady. Lest Pan stumble on legs now shaky with the tremors of old age, Hermes steadied his child, worry etched across his features.
“Pan, tell me where you have been, tell me who has done this to you. They will regret it.” Anger encroached upon Hermes’ brows, the light-hearted god ready to seek out the perpetrator who had stolen eons of Pan's life from him. He had lost a son once, and as Myrtilus had taken his last breath on earth, he'd beseeched his father to curse Pelops for his murderous crime.
The House of Atreus suffered for generations.
Hermes would make his vengeance known as painfully slow and drawn out as possible, to ascertain the creature harming Pan would pay for their blasphemy. And yet within his wrath, he knew intuitively that something else was amiss. Pan should never have grown feeble, he was as divine as Hermes himself. No one would have the power to cause a change like this, not unless they possessed power greater than Zeus, greater than The Fates. The mercurial god’s mood shifted, peering shrewdly at his son.
“Speak carefully, Pan, or I might take you for an imposter.”
A knife would hurt less than the stab of pain that lanced through his chest, to see the horror on his father’s face. For a moment he feared the ageless youth will pull away from him, repulsed and horrified by the touch of infirmity on flesh meant to stay forever in the vigor of life. But he does not, though Pan would have forgiven if he had jerked away; instead his father steadies him, takes upon himself more weight than technically was needed. The simple generosity warms the tightening in his chest, eases the slight rasping to his breath that is not the touch of infirmary.
Even the sudden suspicion doesn’t sting; it is good and right that the messenger of the gods should be wary of portents that fly in the face of that which should be. A swell of pride bubbles within his chest, even as his face tightens with the strain of holding back a dam of words. There is no reason Hermes should know what became of him, for what reason he fell as though dead so long ago. There is no reason; and though Pan is no great prophet, still he learned and taught in kind at the knee of Apollo. Still he has his tricks, his worshippers who hoist him above all others and pulled him from the echoes of nightmare and blaspheme.
"I am not Pan as you knew him," he answered in a rushed hiss, as the weight of an old scream pressed down on his tongue. The air against his cheek feels hot and hotter against his skin, and he can feel the vision beginning to slip between his fingers. From far away, the sound of lashes echoes in the air. He will have to impart his message quickly. "The guileless god of Arkady is gone; I am Pan who is remembered and Pan who was reborn. I am Pan who is risen again."
Acute trepidation halted the slayer of Argus; he studied his child with apprehension--and with worry, too, nestled deep beneath any suspicions he might now hold, or may hold in the future. “You are suggesting the death of Pan,” spoke Hermes lowly, repressing a cold shudder of horror. “But this is not so. My son has not died, for he stands before me now.” Yet even as the Olympian protested, he stepped away from the trembling, struggling figure opposite him, holding him by the shoulders at arm’s length. “He is everywhere, and were you not an imposter, you would know this to be true. This forest and the very land itself sings his praises. Not one person nor animal could walk in these wilds and not know the presence of Pan.”
He searched the face of this withered man for a flicker of the son he knew and loved, wishing far beyond the depths of his own immortal soul that his suspicions would be proven incorrect. That he, the only god trusted by Zeus to deliver mercy and death in one breath, had somehow erred. “Tell me I am wrong, Aegocerus. Tell me I have lied to your face with no remorse.”
“The great god Pan was dead,” he whispered, his hands clasping to his father’s arms to steady himself. His hands trembled, but not from the touch of age; to the contrary, the ravages of time seemed to be leaving him. His wrinkles grew faint, a red flush creeping into his skin and his silvered hair, and Pan knew his time was short.
His hands tightened, and he leaned forward to speak directly into his father’s face. “I was dead; as the grape vine dies at the touch of cold, as the world dies when Kore returns to her husband, this is how I became to escape horrors of which I will not allow you to see.” Something in his bright eyes flickered, like a horrific parody of a warming fire. On the heating wind, the smell of blood and carron wafted through the tenacious trees; the blood of a god, the meat of two men. Pan was never here, but he remembered sweat and blood none the less.
“Listen to me, Agônios, my father. Listen to your son, to whom the Fates whisper as they do to Apollo. Let your beloved son protect you now, and go. Do not look back, pay no heed to what you hear even should it be my own voice. Know that I live, that I am near you now, and this will not be our final meeting. You will hold your son again, and again.
“Now go, leave before my grasp on this vision slips and you are subjected to that which they tried to make of me. Go, leave, RUN!” The last word comes out a bellow, the echoing cry that drove men from the dark woods in a panic and soldiers to turn on one another in desperate fear. It is the last sound made before his face began to twist, lengthening as would a ram’s head.
“I will not forget what you have told me, and I will hold those to blame accountable,” Hermes managed to say before the woods fell deafeningly silent in the face of Pan’s agony and rage; in truth, Hermes’ last few words were lost in the thunderous roar of his son, swallowed whole. Eyes wide at the transformation occurring before him, Pan’s restored features morphing into something horrific, Hermes turned and ran as if he had never entered the forest. He ran as if the Furies themselves were hot on his heels, breathing brimstone fumes down his neck. And he ran not to shame his son by watching the reveal of his hidden anathema; simply out of respect for Pan, Hermes fled.
Yet he could not help but turn back, just once, winged sandals fluttering with anxious energy as he wheeled around in mid-air. As Orpheus had once foolishly sealed his own fate, so too did Hermes ignore his own apprehensions.
For a few seconds Pan watched his father flee, holding tight within his breast the urge to call for him, ask him to remain at his side. For what will come is horrific, and painful, and what child of a loving father would not want the comfort of clinging to he who would soothe all woes? But many centuries have passed since Pan was young enough to give in to such urges, and there is nothing Hermes can do but leave.
And there is nothing the glad god of Arcadia can do but close his eyes and let go. Immediately the smell of human flesh and god blood vanished, and Pan fancied he heard the sorrowful sigh of a god’s son against his ear. It matters not; the shadows have come,echoes of men and women who hiss blasphemy as their shades snatch at him. ”Obscene,” they spit in tongues he knew not when first he heard them in his visions. ”Blasphemy. Sinful. Beelzebub, Asmodeus, Baphomet, Satan!” Their fingers hooked into his flesh with every repetition of names he had never heard and that did not belong to him; pulled at his horns to make them wickedly large, stretched at his face until it bore no resemblance to a man’s at all, tugged at his fingertips until they were as sharp as their own.
Though he stayed perfectly still against the onslaught, still he struggled; clung to the whispers of families that had breathed the old prayers in secrecy, taught their children the stories. He held tight to the poets who had written longingly of his gaiety, had begged whatever remained to rise again and had sustained him through the centuries when he had laid as though dead, only to rise when his true name began to be lifted in glory again. That above all is what kept him silent through the onslaught of shadows, representatives of peoples long dead tearing at his flesh. This is all past, though it hurts like the present. Pan had died, had sought a sleep deep as death rather than be defiled in this way. Pan is risen and resolute.
Then one of the shadows shaped like a woman plunged her hands into his back, ripping free wings that should not be, and the agony is too much. Pan screamed--
--And Vinnie sat bolt upright, a scream caught in the cage of his teeth. His eyes flew open and his hands up, clapping over his mouth as though to hold back the sound. Or vomit. Or both. For a few moments he panted, temporarily paralyzed by sleep and terror. Then he scrambled for the lamp, fully expecting to see things with claws hanging over the bed when the light flickered on.
There was nothing but partially bare walls and the taunting light of street lamps that he couldn’t touch, regardless of how many windows he tried to break. Vinnie shivered before erupting out of bed, pulling on the first pair of pants and shirt he could lay hands on (both loose, the former hanging off his hips. The feeling of clothing against his skin had become increasingly irritating the longer they’d been locked in this demon apartment building.) He had to get out of here, even if it were only to explore the hallways. That stuff in the barrels sounded really good right about now.
The moonlight gleamed off his yellow eyes as Vinnie dashed past the living room; it reflected in the dark T.V., but intent as he was on escape, he took no notice of the change.
Sound caught in his throat when the god beheld the creature nestled in the dark woods--a creature barely resembling the lively Pan, a creature more monster than man or satyr. He had never seen a sight such as this one, not in all of his wanderings.
And, Zeus the Cloud-Gatherer help him, he never would again.
Fear spread through him like a wildfire, scorching his heart and desecrating his measured resolution. Hermes reached for a sword that was not there, as if to defend himself against the beast in place of his son--who was trapping him, suffocating him, contorting him into a being which defied all reason. Fingers flailing at his sides and closing upon nothing more than air, Hermes’ vision narrowed, his limbs frozen with a shock of adrenaline and terror.
The sound of his son’s wail of pain is piercing enough that Hermes reaches upwards to cover his own ears in protection from its high decibels, no longer thinking of weapons for defense but sheer survival. He knows what that scream can do, he knows the damage and havoc it has caused in the past and what it will do in the future. He knows he must at least try to protect himself from its power, god though he may be.
His will to survive has never been weak, and it is the mortal shell he reanimates in the night, breaking free from the nightmare, which enables him to remain unscathed on the surface.
Percy shot out of bed as if someone had dumped a bucket of ice water on him. He felt numb, confused, and above all, filled with an unspeakable sense of dread. Gasping at the memory of his dream, he stood rigid amidst the blankets and sheets thrown off during sleep, now a mess upon the floor. It was minutes later that he finally moved, blindly feeling for his bathroom light in the dark.
The cold shower helped. It calmed him, it brought him back to his senses. But it did not erase the vivid imagery from his dream, and he did not go back to sleep.