In Elysion, where human creatures well-liked by the gods enjoyed an entirely happy existence after death, a snake crawled through the gardens to a wooden gazebo, shaded by multi-colored flowers. Wrapping itself around the leg of one of the marble benches, the reptilian body transmuted into a human.
An already elderly man with bright eyes and a slight smile on his lips breathed deeply the flowers's fragrance; and the thought that that marble bench could be at least a little more comfortable for his bottom briefly crossed his mind: perhaps he could suggest a little reform to Hades.
Turning his gaze away from the heroes and heroines enjoying themselves on that sunny day shined by Apollo, Cadmus pulled from within his long robes a parchment, a quill, and a tiny pot of black ink: it had been a few months since his wife Harmony had assiduously given herself to the work of folding him into the writing of truth:
– Are you not considered to be the god of the Alphabet?
– Well, my beloved, you know very well that I am no god. Perhaps a mere letter bearer and nothing more. Besides, practically all men have already forgotten this detail, there is hardly anything about me in myths and legends that mentions the creation of alphabets or letters...
Cadmus had been successful in his dodges so far, but he could see in Harmony's eyes that this lie could no longer persist: in the gleam of those windows, reality was being colored as the centuries passed, and Harmony realized that her husband was not just another grandson of Poseidon. He had no desire to create any hindrance between them, so what better way to begin that ultimate mission than by opening his heart to Harmony?
At the touch of the quill on the paper, a shiver ran through him, and the beginnings of a laugh rumbled in Cadmus's chest. How long had it been since he had touched a quill? By the Gods and Goddesses, even the Hours were demanding that he write again! Well, let his story begin...
“Human narratives know me only as a grandson of Poseidon and Libya, son of Agenor and Telephasia and brother of Cilix, Phoenix and Europe. The news about our existence came only after Europe was kidnapped by Zeus and our father demanded my brothers and I to go and look for her. Unfortunately, as legend has it, I never found her, but in her place sprang up beneath my feet the well-known and beloved Thebes. The sacrifice of the cow to Athens, the fight with the dragon at the fountain, the sowing of its enormous teeth, the confusion I unwittingly created among the Spartoi, and my period as servant of Ares – for he was the father of the monster – are the things for which I am remembered by the men of the West in their songs, dictionaries, and literary works.
However, the truth goes far beyond, it flees on the horizon and when some man, demigod or god tries to grab it, it falls by the edges of the world and Atlas takes it upon himself to pick it up with one hand and deliver it to Kronos, so that he can launch it to other times, to other eons, when different beings embrace the ancient mission of rescuing the truth.
You didn't know that detail, did you? But yes, it seems that perhaps I am not only the grandson of Poseidon and the son of Agenor, and to hand over my truth on gold parchment to you may not be the smartest thing to do: let's face it, my existence goes back a long way and my mission, although complete, is something that needs to be constantly polished; and also the knowledge of the possible penalties that would fall to me for revealing this mystery comes from vast experience - do you really think I'm so foolish as to sacrifice my wonderful eternity with Harmony in the Elysian Fields? Some foul tongues would even say that this has to be an evil move by Harmony because she is tired of sharing eternity with me crawling through the grass, so she would wish me to fail in the mission, arousing the wrath of the gods. But Harmony bears that name for a reason, and wars and arguments always dissolve around her. It is impossible for evil to spring from this loving and praiseworthy heart: I love my Beloved and nothing can change that.
This love I live now was the only thing I asked for as an armor when I accepted my mission among humans on Earth, so logically I would never put it at risk. You ask yourselves now: Who is this requesting the mission? What mission is this? And the empire of my Reason holds back: certain things I am not allowed to say, much less write, because writing, unlike speech, is immutable once it is transported to some object, be it stone, parchment, clay, sand... Once the transposition is made, something divine happens, the word becomes true and real, therefore.
See how the gift has been given to men and how they misuse it: the written word is of immense responsibility of the Soul, since it brings reality to life! Oh, whenever I see them handling the letters in such a gross way, a daily thing, I prefer to divert my attention to Dawn and her intense colors of insatiable love (a pity that Aphrodite never forgave her for uniting herself to Ares...there are so many misfortunes of these gods and titans, that I am very grateful not to have met many of them!)
Do you understand a little what is this mission that was requested of me, then? No? Perhaps I have been a little too subtle; I learned this art in my time as Ares' servant: my experience with him taught me that the best way to win a war is with subtlety. And if this one could not be caught by your eyes, that is not my responsibility, you see, because no matter how much I try to dodge Harmony, she has already realized what I am, and one day you will realize it too.
In fact, I have been the bearer of letters and creator of alphabets, as many as possible, from as many tribes, from as many continents. The creation of each one of them was the creation of a life, which gave birth to so many other lives! Ah, a glorious mission that makes my chest sing hymns to the Heavens of Uranus and the Constellations of Nix! But calm makes me silent! I almost call the attention of a Muse, a dangerous thing at this moment that calls for discretion; I cannot let myself be carried away by the inspiration of one of them: as I said before, certain things I cannot reveal to you, except for small details refined by the lapidating of the alphabets I have created.
I have never been very well received by the titans nor by the gods or goddesses of Olympus. Hades, for example, when he received the news that I would come with Harmony to live in Elysion, had said that Harmony was welcome, but that he would not be responsible if Cerberus got rid of his collars and ate me alive. Atlas curses me whenever the pursued truth falls through the horizons of the world and he has to do some juggling to catch it and deliver it to Kronos. Kronos, who had superficially known the reason for my mission, only supports me, as does Athens, since I sacrificed that cow to her (this was planned from the beginning). Zeus, this one is one to wonder about... Because of Europe, I have always had a certain dislike for him, losing a sister to such a selfish god still weighs heavy on my soul and I need Harmony singing with the Nymphs to forget about it. Poseidon is my grandfather, but our relationship does not go beyond this, because my mission only required the creation of a family tree with a divine fruit (whatever it might be). Hermes on the other hand cultivates a deep jealousy for me because I am a creator of words to a certain extent and he is only a messenger of these. Perhaps, thinking carefully (and with the exception of Harmony of course), Hestia is the only goddess with whom I have the closest proximity and for whom I feel the most affection. During my pilgrimage through the world, carrying in solitude the task of originating letters and alphabets, I often found myself praying to her, asking for a home, a fireplace, a corner; in all these moments Hestia heard me and came down from Olympus, lit a fireplace and patiently collected my laments. It was only much later that I learned that Hestia was the one behind my engagement to Harmony and not Zeus (for a while I thought he was trying to apologize for the abduction of Europe, but apparently his ego never allowed him to apologize for anything).
On the day of our engagement, the Goddess gave me this wonderful quill pen that I now use to write and said in my ear, the words warm as the flames she carries in her chest: home is where your heart lives, so love much and you will find homes everywhere.
Yes, Harmony is my home, my Home is harmony. I said that before accepting my mission and coming down to Earth, I asked for an armor: love. This armor was given to me with great care by dear Hestia! Without her, Harmony would not have come into my life; without her, I would be naked of protection, naked of home.
Today, in these elysian fields I am able to better enjoy the hardships I went through on my journey. And the sorrows that I may feel when men do not polish my alphabets with the necessary skill are taken away by Aeolus at my chaste request...”
Cadmus paused the quill and rested it on the marble table, critically studying the written parchment.
– Will this brief biography be enough for Harmony?
– Why, the harmonious arms of your wife will receive anything, Cadmus – a certain irritation was distinct in Hermes' voice, which flew a little above Cadmus, reading from behind his shoulders.
– By Hades, Hermes! I've told you countless times that I can't stand it when people read over my shoulder! Take those flying sandals down to the Phlegethon River, go!
– Such harshness is not necessary. I am here only because a certain goddess, who happens to be your wife, asked me to send you a message.
Cadmus crossed his arms, still suspicious of this. His experience told him to be careful with Greek gods.
– Well, what message is this?
Hermes took a parchment from his golden belt and opened it, clearing his throat:
– My dear husband Cadmus, if you do not wish to tell me your real story, no problem. That your heart may live free and light is my utmost wish, and if it is so, then I wish nothing more. Just come and meet me before Dawn leaves, because I want to feel the insatiable love of these sunset skies by your side.
Hermes finished reading in a monotone, rolled up the parchment, and slapped his fingers together so that it evaporated. Cadmus always wondered where the scrolls went when the god did this.
– If you have an answer to it, speak now, or be silent until my next shift.
Pushing away the silly thought about the fate of the scrolls, Cadmus had an idea that he might consider as stupid and childish in the future, but which now seemed to him to be somewhat interesting.
– I have a message, but not an answer, Hermes. – Blowing some ink from the parchment and carefully rolling it up, Cadmus handed it to the god. – My answer I will give to Harmony personally.
Hermes raised an eyebrow at the sight of Cadmus's parchment.
– And for whom is the message?
Cadmus rose from his marble chair, the flowers of the gazebo painting both of them in multiple colors.
– Beyond the Kingdom of Hades, there to Earth, to the living Men, Hermes. Make copies of it, letter by letter, word by word, and if the need arises ask Apollo to help you send the copies to the four corners of the world.
Leaving Hermes astonished, Cadmus transmuted into a serpent again to find his beloved Harmony.
The god watched the serpent crawl quickly through the golden setting grass, then looked thoughtfully at the newly written parchment.
– I know that my vows force me to avert my eyes from the messages I carry. Yet my fingers itch to read what is here!
The tiny wings of Hermes' sandals flapped effusively, they were in a hurry to get on with the new task at hand, especially now that they had to travel to the four corners of the world!
– Come on, calm down, you fools! I'll ask Apollo for help with anything...
And Hermes' long, thin fingers approached the golden cord of the parchment, about to unwind, when suddenly and in front of him an incandescent light flashed and some flowers in the gazebo began to catch fire.
– Oh, no! By Zeus! – a goddess of small stature and light brown hair, with red eyes and a cream-colored tunic, quickly blows away the burning flowers and protects the others so that they wouldn't be at any risk.
– Ah, Hestia, even you? – Hermes clicked his heels in irritation.
The goddess with the affable face and the rose-colored lips turned to him, the corners of her mouth in an obvious sign of annoyance.
– I aimed at your fingers that were about to commit a sin! Oh, those poor flowers...
– Look here, Hestia...
But the wings of Hermes' sandals flapped furiously and uncontrollably, making the god do two somersaults in the air, shouting curses. He struggled to fight them off and clung to the marble table, his legs flying above him in a rather comical scene (some Nymphs from the nearby river threw him glances and giggled). Hestia crossed her arms with a certain satisfaction, and Hermes glared at her with his blue eyes.
– Look here, you fire goddess, sooner or later I'm going to find out who Cadmus is, do you understand me? If he is anybody... human, demigod, god! – Hermes stretched his neck closer to her and lowered his voice, perhaps in a vain attempt to frighten her. – I'll find out, even if I have to fall beyond the world and go down Atlas's back and...!
With a snap of her fingers, a high, orange flame took hold of the parchment Hermes was holding. The god was startled and for a moment even thought that Hestia had burned Cadmus's writing, but his heart was calmed when he saw that the parchment was intact, with only a small, rounded change.
Hermes brought his wide-eyed eyes closer.
– But what the...
– That is my seal. If you break it to read the contents of whatever is written there, the parchment will become ashes, which will return to my beautiful fireplaces, dear Hermes.
The god of messages opened his lips, suddenly feeling wronged. His wings fluttered again, they needed to accomplish their task soon, soon! Hermes shouted and slammed his caduceus on the marble table with such force that a crack appeared on top of it.
Hestia raised a thin eyebrow.
– I'm not going to explain that to Hades.
Once the fit of rage had passed, Hermes sighed with slumped shoulders, finally defeated (at least for the moment).
– Okay, Hestia, if you've decided to take Cadmus as your protégé, right! But know that I won't give up for anything in this world! I will find out who Cadmus is! – The wings of his sandals fluttered and Hermes began to fly higher, beyond the gazebo. – I'll finish this damned task soon, before these wings tear my legs off. Let the four corners of the world receive this parchment, then.
Thank you for reading!