I watched Prometheus from a distance as he walked amidst the folks celebrating Prometheia, a festival mortals observe in his honor. Thousands of years of captivity had taken its toll on him, yet here at this moment, he seemed happy; his smile radiated a fiery brilliance. I could see that he was genuinely impressed by the festivities and praises showered in his name. Is this why he escaped? To watch a silly festival?
Prometheus would’ve guessed by now that Zeus has someone on his trail. I wonder if he knew that the tracker was I, Artemis. Surely he knows that I never fail my missions; for that he should be worried. I was expecting Prometheus to make a run for it when he saw me. That would mean a chase to tackle and restrain him. Today, however, he has the advantage of a crowd. He’d be wise not to try an escape or fight me. He knows better than that, but if he did, I was prepared. I checked the Glock and the silver blade strapped to my thigh once again, lest I needed it.
Head bowed and fiddling with something, Prometheus turned and started walking in my direction. I came out from where I stood watching and walked straight towards him. He looked up and stopped dead in his tracks when his eyes met mine. Arms crossed, I stood in front of him smiling. I knew that Prometheus as an immortal could see me in all my glory with my bow and arrow, something that was not visible to mortal eyes.
“Hello there, Prometheus,” I said.
“Ar…Artemis! You’re here,” he responded with a sad smile. “Just as I expected. I figured Zeus would have you on my trail the moment I escaped.”
“So you were expecting me?”
“I knew you’d be able to track me wherever I went,” he replied.
He was trying to buy time to plot an escape by engaging me in conversation. I played along. “And yet you decided to make a run for it?”
“I’m not running now,” he said matter-of-factly.
“A wise choice,” I replied.
“You mistake my intent, Artemis. I’m sure you’d tackle me if I were to make a run for it; of that I have no doubts. I’m simply choosing not to run because I know I can reason with you.” He had an ease of manner that made me curious.
I feigned disinterest. “I could care less for your reasons. I am here to do a job for Father.”
“Really, Artemis? Is that all you are? Zeus’s tracker?”
“How dare you?” I clenched my fist around the handle of my blade.
Prometheus noticed the change in my demeanor. “My apologies, I wasn’t trying to provoke you.”
“Let’s get this straight: there is nothing you can say or do that is going to make me change my mind about you,” I said.
He nodded in agreement. “I understand. All I wanted was to know is if you are aware of the reason for my imprisonment.”
“Of course, I am aware! You went against Father’s commands when you gifted humanity with fire. How could you do that? You went against your King’s orders.”
“I may have done it against the King’s orders, but are you as blind as the others to not see the benefits of my gift?” he pleaded. “Look at everything they have accomplished! Look at this world, at the prosperity of mankind, at their glory!”
He noticed the look of confusion on my face and took it as an encouragement to continue. “Artemis, surely you of all the Gods and Goddesses will understand the need to help mortals. You help them yourself! Do you deny the benefits of my gift?”
“I do see the benefits, Prometheus, but that does not liberate you of the charges laid against you.”
He smirked. “Charges? What do you think are my charges? You think that Zeus punished me for gifting humanity with fire, don’t you?”
There was that smirk again; it made me want to punch him in the face. I kept quiet and allowed him to continue. “My dear, I am not being punished for giving them fire; Zeus punished me for disobeying him.”
“It is still a crime,” I retorted.
“Maybe it is, but isn’t four hundred thousand years in captivity punishment enough for that crime?” he asked earnestly.
I gulped; he did have a point.
“Hera knew that I was watching when she gave Ate control, did you know that? Hera herself doesn’t care if I’m free. I suffered in the name of justice, but hasn’t justice been done?” he said, breaking my reverie.
I was finding it harder and harder to disagree with Prometheus. Everything he was saying made sense, whereas my conversations with Father only left me with more questions. I had no idea what Father was planning with this new mission and what he had in store for us Gods or the mortals. I felt myself wanting to let Prometheus go, relieve him of his captivity. I didn’t want to follow Father’s bidding blindly anymore. I knew that if I were to let Prometheus go, the repercussions of my actions would be unfathomable. There was no telling how Father would react! Despite that, I heard myself say, “Yes, I believe the years you’ve spent in captivity are punishment enough.”
Prometheus smiled and stepped closer. “I knew I could reason with you. Does this mean that you’ll let me go?” he asked.
“I can’t believe I am saying this, yes…yes, you are free to go,” I replied.
“But what about Zeus? He isn’t going to like that!”
“I will handle that!”
“Artemis…thank you…I don’t know what to say.”
“Just go before I change my mind.”
Sitting in the air-conditioned lobby of Zeus’s office at the Olympus Administration building, I felt a chill as beads of sweat rolled down the small of my back. I was there to let Father know about Prometheus.
“Ah, daughter, you’re back. Do you come bearing good news?” Zeus asked as he took me in his arms for an embrace.
“Father, I’m sorry! I have failed you this time,” I said, looking into his eyes.
“Is that so? What happened?”
“I tracked Prometheus down to the festival, but afterward, he used the benefit of a large crowd to escape. He must’ve known I was tracking him.” I said, looking ashamed.
I was ashamed indeed for lying to my father and for going against his orders. But deep down, I felt like I was doing the right thing.
“Artemis, I know you did your best work, yet the Titan eludes us.” I tried to keep as calm as possible, but my face flushed, draining the color from it. I could not look at Father, for I feared to see the disappointment in his eyes. “If you cannot trace him, no one else can! Perhaps it is the fates saying his thread is meant to carry on free of shackles,” he said, releasing me from his arms. “It is alright. Go back to your mortal job. For now, we shall let Prometheus go.”
“Father? That’s it?” I asked, unable to hide the surprise in my tone.
“Yes, we have far more important things to do now. Carry on; I shall send for you later.”
Relief washed over me upon hearing his words. I couldn’t believe my luck. I thanked him and made my way out.
“Why Artemis, do you think you can lie to your father?” Zeus muttered to himself when Artemis was out of earshot.