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Tristan
01-08-2002, 06:26 PM
Many think that dogs have always been closely related to humans. They aided men to hunt, and allowed themselves to be kept domestically. This is not so. In actuality, dogs were once belonging only to the gods. Artemis in particular was fond of them, and she was the goddess of the hunt. One of the gifts she had asked her father Zeus for was some of his best hunting dogs. Before she left Olympus Aphrodite came to her and said: “These dogs are a wonderful creation. Zeus asked me to give them something special, a gift of some sort. I chose to give them love, and Zeus gave them loyalty. Athena gave them companionship to seek out those who need to be comforted. I bid you take good care of these creatures.” To this Artemis replied, “Dear Aphrodite, this gift is indeed wonderful. I will cherish these animals as children of my own.” So she left with her group of hunting dogs.

These she tended for with pride, and she knew that they were the best that could be offered. However, she found that with her constant hunting she could not tend to her dogs as much as she would like. Her nymphs refused to dirty their hands with the dog’s care, and no god or titan would help her. She grew frustrated, and in her frustration turned her eyes earthward.

Nicos was a lonely farmer, who at the time was busy tending his crops. His farmland was in a state of disrepair, and he prayed. In his prayer he begged the Fates to help him recover from the brutal famine which had killed all his animals, and all his crops. The land was still withering, as though under a Gorgon’s stare. He was lonely, and sad too because he had lost his animals which he dearly loved, and also his son. He was alone, and tired and very hungry as well, because he had not eaten in several days. He gave up plowing his fields and sat down upon the brown earth. He began to talk aloud to himself.

“I wish I had my animals back.” He sighed. “I loved them so much, and my only son too, is dead. This has been a horrible month and I am so miserable… I wish the gods would simply end this suffering now, and maybe in Tartarus there are animals I might tend, surely even Cerberus needs a drink every now and then. Surely…?”

And from her place near Olympus she heard every word Nicos uttered, and realized that if he was kind and patient enough to even wish to tend Cerberus the demon which guarded the gates to the underworld, surely he would not pass up a chance to tend the magnificent dogs? She recognized his potential immediately and came to him. She appeared before him on the ground, with her silver bow gleaming and her shafts glittering like ice.

Nicos recognized her and knew that she must be the Huntress, the one who ruled the wooded areas and he bowed his head and did not speak.

“Rise up, mortal, and tell me your name. Who are you? You seem to have fallen onto troubled times.” Said Artemis as she surveyed the pitiful farm. “A good man, it seems, dealt a bad hand from the Fates. Such is the way of life.”

Nicos raised himself up on one knee and spoke. “Artemis, Queen of the Hunt, Ruler of the glades, please, I am your servant and I will do as you wish, merely tell me what I must do.”

“I am pleased by this show of loyalty human, and I am willing to grant you a job if you will take it. It is not easy, and will require the best of your skills with beasts, but the rewards will be worth your while. I will feed and clothe you, and let you have access to most of my residences. You, however, must care for my greatest hounds.”

Nicos agreed, though he had never seen a dog before, and he heard Cerberus the Watchful resembled a dog, and so he thought that hounds might be some sort of demon, but he was so hungry and tired he was glad that Artemis had helped him. He saw what he was privy to and was amazed at the splendor of Artemis’ abode. He saw her several homes in the woods, and her mansion at Olympus and then thought that he had better be on guard, because gods often toyed with humans. Then he thought of the demons he might have to tend to, and began to doubt his loyalty to Artemis. But then, Artemis finally said to him, “Now I show you the animals I have entrusted to your care. Make sure they are always well fed, and clean, and have the exercise they need. Care for them as you would your children.”

Nicos took one look at the dogs, not the horrible monsters he expected, but beautiful and strong animals. He jumped to accept her offer. “Being in the same place as these wondrous beasts is enough for me my goddess!” he said, and forgot his hunger, and his fatigue, and also all the gifts and privileges he had been given. All his strength returned and he began his task with a will. He soon became very attached to these wonderful animals.
And so it was for many fine years, Nicos tended and readied the dogs, and he was in turn granted permission to enter the Immortal Realms, and tend the dogs and reap the benefits whenever he liked. He rarely vacationed however, preferring to remain with his animals and take care of them. He was fond of them all, and they in turn were very attached to him. But one dog was different from the rest, and Nicos loved him above all the others. His name was Canus. He was a strong dog, but slightly smaller than the others were. He showed a love toward Nicos that none of the others did, sleeping at his bedside and constantly staying around him.

One day, Artemis spoke to Nicos, and told him that she was going out for a splendid hunt, a long one, further than all the hunts so far. And for tougher prey, fast and lithe. Nicos asked her if some of the smaller dogs would be able to keep up, mentioning Canus. “Nonsense!” she replied. “My hounds can endure. They can outlast anything. Ready them Nicos!” And thus Nicos went and got them ready. But he warned Canus to pace himself; otherwise he would lose his breath and be out of the chase.
Before they left, Nicos cautioned her once more, but Artemis would not be swayed. Then she left, and Nicos was worried about Canus.

Later, Artemis was chasing a giraffe, and she wanted to catch it and hang its pelt across her fireplace, to show that she could catch even the fastest quarry. What she did not realize was that this giraffe was a Nymph, one who had recently been with Zeus, and Zeus looked down and saw what was happening. He gave the Nymph in her giraffe form the speed of a dozen giraffes, that she might outrun Artemis. And the Nymph used the speed to run faster than anything Artemis had ever chased did.

It was a good chase, and the dogs were right on it’s heels, but the giraffe was too fast, and the only dog that had enough breath to catch it was Canus, who was pacing himself as Nicos had told him to. Then he used his last sprint of speed to try to bring down the great giraffe. Canus reached it, and attacked it, but Canus was too short, and the giraffe too tall. The giraffe hit Canus and knocked him over, and it escaped, evading Artemis’ shots after it. Artemis had, for the first time ever, failed to apprehend her quarry. This made her mad with rage, because she felt that no beast should be able to defy the Huntmistress, and blamed her dogs and cursed them. She brought them back to their kennels and demanded Nicos come out to speak with her.

Nicos came, and could tell that Artemis had failed. He knew her moods, and this was both a bad and dangerous one. “Nicos!” she yelled. “These dogs have failed! They are worthless!”

“They are not worthless My Lady, they ran far across a continent, and pursued surely a fast an animal as any, and they lost their endurance as I warned you. I blame only the distance for their loss.” He said calmly.

“Distance should not matter to them! It does not matter to them!” Artemis looked at Nicos, and the calm caretaker with his reassurances and wisdom suddenly became a villain in her mad eye. “Nicos, you are right. The dog’s fault it is not, it is your fault for their poor training, and weak muscles! I have never failed before, and now I fail because you badly trained my animals! You no longer deserve this position! Leave at once! You are disgraced!” She fumed at him angrily.

Nicos had never seen her like this before, and became afraid. He tried to reason with her, to calm her, but failed. Finally he, in his anger and shame at not being able to see his beloved hounds suggested that her own poor aim had been the reason for her failure. It was the wrong thing to say.

“Nicos… a lesser mortal would now be dead, but to you who have stayed with me so long I offer this final word to you, you will be locked in a room in this house of mine, and you will stay there for a thousand years to think on what you have done wrong! Perhaps I will let you return here someday, but for now, I bid you goodbye!” With that Nicos resigned himself to the fact that he would be locked in Artemis’ tower forever, and went there. A huge lock was placed on the door, so Nicos could never escape.
Artemis was feeling worse than ever, because Nicos was an old friend and she did not want to lock him away, but had to teach him a lesson. Now she was angry at the loss of a trusted friend and her best caretaker. She needed someone else to rage on.

She turned on Canus, the dog who had failed her. She did not realize that the Nymph had been virtually impossible to catch,
and that Canus had proven to be her best dog. Instead she yelled at Canus, and beat him, something she had vowed not to do. Then she locked him in his kennel. Nicos heard this all from his tower.

Canus was stung by his master’s attacks, and wanted Nicos. He did not know that Nicos was locked away and couldn’t understand where he was. Canus was so desperate in his search for him, he broke through the metal kennel door, and ran. When Artemis heard this, she thought that Canus had deserted her, and her smoldering anger was renewed. She rounded up her other dogs and fetched her bow. She spoke to herself, “That little wretch Canus! A traitor just like Nicos, I should have known. They were always too close, and now I know why. I will erase Nicos’ last taint on my hounds with the death of this one. So I shall cleanse my soiled name.” She said this bitterly to herself, and did not really believe it, but she was so angry she wanted to fight something, even her own dog.

Now Nicos in his tower heard her say this, and realized his lovely dog would die if he didn’t do something. He prayed to Zeus fervently, explaining, apologizing, and weeping. Finally Zeus heard his pleas, and thought back to the Nymph. He understood what had happened, and saw that he had done this faithful mortal a great wrong. So he spoke to Nicos and said “I should be the one apologizing. This was my error, truly. I will give you a chance to save your animal, but you will have to return to the mortal realms after this, as a price and a penalty of this wish. Do you still wish to be left free? Breaking Artemis’ hold on you is a breach of law.”

“Yes, I do! Please let me out O King of the Sky, and I will be forever in your debt!” So Zeus granted his wish and appeared, and hit the lock on the door so it broke into two pieces. He bid him go now, to his dog.

Nicos ran to find Canus, and found him with help from Zeus, in the woods. Canus was happy and content; of course he did not realize the danger. Artemis quickly found them as well, and came up to Nicos and Canus. Zeus disappeared. Artemis said to him, “Nicos, you have broken my law. But I still have a heart of silver, I suppose, I am willing to let you return to the tower, but I must kill Canus, because he has run away from me.”

“No!” cried Nicos. “Please, don’t harm him! Instead take my life, the dog has done nothing wrong, and only ran to seek me out.”
Artemis nodded, and fitted a shaft into her bow and aimed. But Canus growled deeply in his throat, and leaped in front of Nicos, preparing to defend him. Only then did Artemis realize the true extent of the loyalty that was inside these hounds. Nicos tried to get the animal to sit, but he would not. Artemis knew that the dog perceived the danger now; had seen what the bow could do. This display of loyalty touched her, and moved her deeply. Tears flowed from her face as she spoke.

“Nicos, I am sorry. Please return to me and help manage my dogs, I will not harm you in such a way ever again old friend.”

“I believe you, but I can no longer stay in this realm, Zeus commanded I must leave it if I broke your law, and this promise I will keep. Our conflict is ended goddess, but I must go back to the realm from which I came, I am sorry.” Nicos told her about what had happened, and sadly Artemis had no choice but to consent. However, back to the mortal realm with him she sent Canus and another, the female Shiva, in the hope that all such men be gifted with the wondrous beasts.

From Canus and Shiva came several lines of dogs, up to the ones we know today. And from Canus and Nicos, the very first friendship of beast and man, comes the reason why even today, dogs are man’s best friends.

Amy
01-09-2002, 04:29 PM
Ok first my question is is it based on a story thats already been writen, or did you use some elements of it to make up your own story ?
I want to know before I can give any judgement on it

Tristan
01-09-2002, 06:08 PM
I made it up completely on my own for a school assignment. It's totally original, as far as I know.

Amy
01-10-2002, 03:34 PM
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Okay, then i have to say its a realy good.
I like the characters you have used for this story, wich make it more intresting to read it ^_^;<br />
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Merl
01-11-2002, 08:26 AM
Tristan my boy, I'm touched. Lovely, just lovely, keep up the solid writing.