Helia is a tall thin girl of sixteen. She has long wavy blood red hair with pale blue eyes. Whenever she smiled small dimples formed on her cheeks and she closed her eyes in a way that showed she was happy. She had mood swings that came and went, though not occasionally. For the most part she was a shy, soft spoken, and gentle girl. Although she rarely talks she would protect any of her loved one with her life. She had nightmares that haunted her every other day, nightmares about what would happen if she left her city.
Once long ago, Helia used to live underground. She lived with her three younger siblings and her mother. Her father died when she was only 3, when he was mining there was a cave in. Her mother and her can barely support their family, and it’s all thanks to their friends that they’re still alive. After she was banished by the prince, she eloped with her best friend and soon to be husband. Charis, her friend, accused the prince of using which craft. The prince was enraged and commanded that Charis be burned to death in public. Helia, already in love with Charis, saved him and was therefore banished. They ran away to aboveground. A few days aboveground turned out to be torture. A bear soon killed Charis. Helia mourned his death, and soon the gods sent her a black cat. The cat represented Charis in every way.
The cat and Helia traveled far and encountered the goddess Artemis. Artemis was amazed at how Helia denied all the men that asked her to be his wife. Artemis asked Helia to join her hunting pack, but Helia told Artemis of her story of how she did have someone to love once. Artemis was greatly moved by her story and did not relent on her offer. Helia finally agreed and Artemis gave her a bow and a quiver of arrows, Helia’s cat turned into a bigger cat, which she called a panther. As soon as Artemis left, Helia discovered her new ability to talk to animals. Artemis was more moved by Helia’s story then she thought and therefore gave Helia a gift and a curse. A gift so she can talk to all the animals and make new friends with them. A curse because when she hunted down animals she would hear them in pain, and cursing all sorts of things at Helia.
In the land under the mountain, there was a world, which no one but the gods knew of, in fact they created it. They thought that if there were to be an invasion that they could save all the remaining citizens of earth under ground. They waited for years and years but no invasion came, so eventually they told the people that they could live in the city that they built long ago. In the city of Aspasia, there was a girl of the age of 16. Her name was Helia. Her hair was red as lava it self. She had eyes that were a pale blue; her figure was tall and thin. She was a soft spoken, gentle, but had some rare mood swings, and was shy. The king and queen’s son, the prince, fell in love with her. On Helia’s 16th birthday, the prince invited her to a feast, the feast of the summer solstice. There, the prince planned to propose to her. Although the prince didn’t know it, Helia loved somebody else, Charis. Charis was a dark haired boy with his curls sweeping over his forehead. His eyes were just as dark with a glint of green on the corners. You could say Charis was the opposite of the prince, Chruse. He had straight blond hair and blue eyes, but in one similarity he was also tall.
Just as Helia was about to leave for the feast, Charis came by and begged her not to go. “Don’t go,” he said, “ the prince is in love with you and he has asked the city witch to make a potion for you that will make you forever in love in him.” But Helia would not waver, “I need to go, Charis, the prince has promised to grant my family some money if I go, and we are in desperate need of it.” For Helia did badly need the money, just as beautiful as she was, she was a little under the poverty line. But Charis would not back down, “Please Helia, my family will lend you all the money you need.” “You can barely support yourself!” Helia exclaimed, “I wouldn’t dare think of taking any money from you.” She said. Charis looked at her with his dark eyes. Helia pushed past him into the street, “you’re making me late,” she said angrily. Charis watched desperately as she hurriedly walked away. “If you love me,” he called, “you would stay here, with me.” As Helia heard this she paused and turned to face him. Blinded by anger she shouted,” No one loves you Charis, you just want everything to yourself, and even if I did love you I love my family more.”
As Helia was nearing the castle she simmered down and decided to pray to the god Apollo. He said, “The land you seek is safety, and the man you hunt lies beneath the layers of your heart, and he is in grave danger, go now help him. But I warn you, if you do help him, you yourself will be in even graver danger.” When she heard no more from him, she felt even more confused. She set the riddle at the back of her mind and continued the feast, now she was late for sure. Helia climbed the giant steps of the castle but stopped suddenly when she heard yelling a short distance away from her. She turned to look, and saw about a dozen royal guards and a crowd beginning to form rapidly. Pushing the crowd out of her mind, she continued to climb the stairs. Shortly after though, she heard a yell, somewhat familiar. Helia was sure of it, it was Charis. Before she knew what she was doing she was pushing through the crowd to the guards. Once she was at the front, -her gown badly ruined with dirt, leaves, and mud- she saw Charis tied to a stake, with water spread around him, badly bruised and barely breathing but awake. She saw one of the guards holding a torch. It took Helia a moment to process what was going on. Then it hit her. She flung herself over Charis’ body, protecting him from what was going to come. Helia didn’t notice before but the prince was coming to witness the execution. The guard didn’t take a glance at Helia and proceeded to light the stake. What Helia mistook for water was actually gas. The prince, afraid for his love, shouted for the guard to stop. Helia glared at the prince in anger forgetting all about warning the oracle gave her. Taking advantage of the moment, Helia quickly freed Charis from his bonds. As she started to drag him away, Chruse cried out to her, “you have made a grave mistake Helia. I don’t ever want to see you here again.” Helia was astonished, but she still had to ask one thing. “Did you really have a potion to make me love you Prince?” Chruse was turned away but Helia could still see him nod, ever so slightly. Angered by that last gesture, Helia hurriedly dragged Charis back to her home and started packing her things.
Once Charis gained consciousness, he was immediately confused. “What happened?” he asked, “one second I’m accusing the prince of witchcraft and the next I wake up here.” “That’s what you did!?” Helia said angrily, but them immediately softened when she remembered the prince’s reply to her question. “Well you cost us our home Charis.” Helia said sullenly. “What?!” exclaimed Charis, “wait…our home?” Helia just nodded curtly then started to pack some things for Charis. “But wait,” Charis said, “where are we going?” Helia paused a moment to think. “We’re going above ground…to the surface.” “No!” cried Charis, “we can’t, no ones ever been up there, we don’t know what’s up there and we don’t know what type of things could be waiting for us there. My mother said, when I was younger, that there was a light up there that could blind you and you would never be able to see again. There also were ferocious beasts that could rip you apart in a matter of seconds, no sensible man or woman has gone up there, no could live up there. How would we support ourselves? We don’t know what to eat or what’s even edible…” Charis carried on his rant for quite some time. “Are you done?” Helia asked. Charis nodded, “I still think your crazy to go up there.” But once Helia’s mind was set, there was no changing it.
Charis was right, for the most part. There was a blinding light, but you would not go blind. There were ferocious beasts, but there were also kind ones. There were people up there and they knew how to live, and there were plenty of things that were edible. Of course Helia or Charis knew nothing of these things and were much to worried about what would happen on land then what wouldn’t happen. They both finished packing and weren’t all that ready to leave yet when they heard a knock on the door. The prince had sent a messenger to tell Helia and Charis that they had one day to leave and if they didn’t leave by tomorrow they would be publicly executed. Their families could leave with them if they wanted but they had the option to stay since they didn’t have fault in this. After the messenger left Helia’s family begged to go with her, but as usual she was concerned for them and told them firmly, to stay. Charis didn’t have any family for they have all died of disease. The night before their departure they all ate together. There was no talk but in the end it was Helia who finally broke. She cried and cried for she was sure they would die up on the surface, she was sure she would never see her 3 beloved younger siblings ever again. At last she fell into an uneasy sleep.
Helia and Charis stopped at the top of the stairwell that looked over the city of Aspasia, their home. Helia couldn’t bare to look any longer and continued through the door. After the door there were more stairs. Surprisingly it wasn’t that far to the surface, just two flights of stairs. Helia and Charis stood at the top of the second flight of stairs, guards guarded both sides of the door and were stationed there twenty-four seven, to make sure no one came in or out without permission. They opened the door for the two weary travelers and pushed them past into a small cave like place. There was a small glow, which Helia mistook for a lantern. They were excited to get out of the cave and ran forward clumsily into a searing blind light. They cried out in pain and covered their eyes with their arms and moved backward, attempting to get back into the cave, but instead they found a wall of rock. The cave must automatically close. In disdain they crouched and tucked their heads in to touch their stomach. They stayed like this for hours on end, and finally the light vanished and was covered by darkness. Charis was the first to unroll and look around. “Helia,” he whispered, “Helia, it’s gone, the light.” Helia unrolled and stretched her tightened muscles. “What was it?” she asked, “it nearly blinded me.” “I told you.” Charis said. Helia dismissed the subject with a wave of her hand and started to walk around. She looked peculiarly at a bush with berries on it. Helia was amazed by the color, for living underground limited the colors she could see. She felt the bark of a tree and gave out a startled cry as she encountered a barn owl. Horrified to what it might do she picked up a rock and threw it at the owl. She watched it, baffled, as it flew away. “Chraris!” she cried, “Charis, they can fly!” Charis just looked at her as if she was crazy. “Sure it can, now lets find shelter before we get eaten by flying monsters.” He said while rolling his eyes.
After trekking through some undergrowth they found a cave much like the one the guards pushed them in. Exhausted, they slumped down and fell into a deep sleep that lasted days. Helia woke up to a starving stomach. She soon forgot about her hunger when she realized that Charis was missing. She stumbled out into the open where the sun met her eyes. Immediately she went back into the cave, and after a few agonizing minutes, she got used to the light, which she learned later, was called sun. Helia tore through the greenery, following a trail of blood she was sure was Charis’. “Charis!” She cried, “Where are you! Don’t leave me alone in this unfamiliar world.” Soon she lost her voice, and was drained of her tears. But after what seemed to be more then a couple hours, she found him. As soon as she saw him, she flung herself across him, weeping. “Charis, Charis wake up, please wake up…” She shook and shook him, and eventually poured cold water over him, but to no avail. His arms were just barely visible under the mass of chewed up flesh and blood, his limbs were completely gone, and his head was the only thing intact. But after a few days, he opened his eyes. It turns out he was breathing this whole time but just barely. Helia immediately looked down on his face. “Charis,” she whispered, “Charis can you hear me?” It took all Charis had to nod his head, ever so slightly, just the way the prince had. Tears formed at the corners of Helia’s eyes. Just as he was about to close his eyes, Helia started to tremble. “Don’t leave Chraris, please. We just got here; don’t you want kids of your own? Please don’t go.” She pleaded but she knew it was useless. “Don’t be distressed Helia,” said Charis, nearly inaudible, “you will find someone else. A great beast took me from the cave and left me here. Don’t give up hope, ever. I’m sorry I have to go, but you are a brave girl, you can cope without me. Either way, I will always be in your heart. I love you, and don’t forget it.” With his last words, Charis coughed up blood and closed his eyes. “Charis!” Helia screamed, “Charis!!” Helia shook him. She screamed and cried for days.
Finally his body rotted and she left his dying place. Her features changed dramatically. Helia was now a bone thin, tangled haired, pale faced 16 year old. Around her eyes dark circles had formed from lack of sleep. Moved by pity, the gods above sent her a gift. One day Helia was still mourning her loved one when she encountered a small creature. She ignored it for she had seen almost too many things they didn’t scare her anymore. This one had silky black fur, long tail, whiskers, and a small pink nose. What actually attracted Helia to the creature were it’s eyes. They were a very dark color with a glint of green on the edges. This, of course, was the god’s gift, they sent the cat in the image of Charis. Helia soon found this out when she asked the gods about it. The cat approached her and rubbed his cheek on Helia’s leg. She was suddenly pulled out of this trance of mourning. The cat led her to a stream and once she saw herself, she cried out in disbelief. Hurriedly she washed her face and untangled her hair. The cat left and came back with a rabbit. Per the god’s instructions, Helia skinned the rabbit (which she thought was fascinating), gutted, and roasted it. She collected a few berries and made herself a meal. While she ate her first meal in days, she fed the cat the rabbit’s entrails. She soon went to sleep with the cat curled up beside her, with both eyes open and watching.
Several days later Helia encountered a town. As soon as she walked in, many men pursued her. They all wanted her to be their wife. Helia denied every single one of them, and all the while the cat followed. Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, saw this and was amazed. Usually woman would not deny the chance of a husband. Helia left that town on the same day and encountered a young woman. The woman held a bow and a quiver of arrows. “Helia,” said the strange woman, “I am Artemis, the goddess of the hunt.” Helia was taken aback to see Artemis herself. She immediately went on her knees and bowed. “Rise,” commanded Artemis, “I have come to ask you to join me and my comrades. No woman but mine have ever denied a man, so I come to humbly ask you to join me.” “I have had a man, but he is not in my life as a man now.” Helia declared. “Oh? Is that so? Where is he now?” Artemis inquired. “The gods have sent him down in a form of a cat,” said Helia, so I am afraid I cannot join your group, as much as I want too.” Intrigued Artemis pursued the subject and as soon as Helia finished her story, she exclaimed, “Fear not! You story has moved me many miles and I am still willing to have you as one of my hunters.” Helia was surprised, for she was not expecting this answer. “Then yes, I will join your pack.” Artemis nodded and handed her the bow and arrows she was holding. As soon as Helia touched the bow the cat began to transform. Horrified Helia stepped back. Where the small cat used to stand, there was something else, new to this world. It looked the same as the small cat, only enlarged. “I grant you these three gifts,” Artemis said, “may I wish you luck in your hunting, and don’t forget the meetings we have on the full moons on mount Olympus.” Helia nodded and watched as Artemis walked away. As Artemis disappeared from her sight, Helia suddenly thought that Artemis could not count. Artemis gave Helia the bow and arrows and the enlarged cat, which was only two. She soon dismissed the thought and turned to her new cat. “I will name you Panther.” Panther purred and said, “I like it.” Astonished Helia quickly scratched her ears. “Excuse me?” she exclaimed. “I said that I liked the name…” Panther said. “Y-you talked!” said Helia. “Yes…the third gift Artemis gave you was that you could talk to us animals.” Helia finally got over her shock and looked relieved. “So I’m not going crazy?” she asked. Panther laughed, “no your not.” Panther crouched down and Helia instinctively got on his back. As soon as she as on him, he sprinted away and ran and ran for days. They took down evil on the far corners of the earth, and never once thought of her previous home again.