There once was a time when Olympians ruled all of earth. There were gods and goddesses for everything. Cronos, god of time, Dionysus, god of wine and grape harvest, Apate, goddess of gardens, swamps, flowers and marshes, Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, Athena, goddess of wisdom and war strategy, Hades, god of death, and so many more. Many people worshiped all the Gods and Goddesses, especially Hera and Zeus, the king and queen of the Olympians. Hera and Zeus had a child named Pandora who was very curious and always wanted more knowledge. If she didn’t know something she would figure it out. On Pandora’s eighth birthday, Hera and Zeus gave her a beautifully designed jar made of gold. “Thank you mother! Thank you father!” she exclaimed.
Her father answered “We are both delighted to see that you enjoy your present so much but I ask that you will never open that jar. It is only for looking at.”
Pandora laughed “Are you joking father?! It’s only a jar! Of course I can open it. I’m a goddess! What harm can a jar do to me?” Zeus steps down from his throne and looks at his daughter straight in the eyes. “Pandora, promise me you’ll never open that jar in your life.” her father said in a voice that meant don’t question me.
“Just do it and one day I’ll explain!” her father nearly yelled.
Pandora sighed. There was no point now. “ I promise.” and she walked out of the room holding her jar tightly. That night, Pandora was thinking about her conversation earlier when she heard a knock on the door of her bedroom. She opened the door and saw Ares the god of war standing there. “Hello” he said “I heard you got a jar from Zeus.”
“Did you open it yet?”
“Father said not to.”
“I don’t know but I really want to open the jar I’m dying of curiosity!” Ares grinned. This was going better than expected. Now all he had to do was convince her to open the jar and vanish. He knew all about the jar and its powers. The truth was that Ares hated Pandora so much. Before she was alive, Ares used to be-
His thoughts were interrupted by Pandora. “What are you grinning at?” she snapped.
“Listen. If you really want to open the jar, you should.”
“Like I’ve said before, father said not to!”
“How many times has he been wrong?”
“How many times has he said not to do something even though doing it would make no difference?”
“Would you rather live your life not knowing what’s inside the jar or live your life knowing what’s inside the jar?”
“Knowing, of course!!”
“Precisely! So, go open that jar!” he said and faked a yawn. “I’m sleepy. Goodnight.” Ares left the room smiling like a toddler who just got his dream toy. He walked down the hall and to his bedroom. If he had done everything according to the plans, she would be gone by tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, back at Pandora’s bedroom, she was fighting her brain. Her brain told her not to open the jar but her hands and curiosity told her to open it. She finally went to bed and had a dream about the jar. She woke up the next day, and without a single thought, picked up her jar and opened it. She saw gorgeous sparkles shooting out and fading away like fireworks for a few seconds. Suddenly, like a black hole, the jar sucked her in.
I was unconscious for around 5 hours. When I woke up, I saw myself in a mysterious place. I noticed two people in an armor walking towards her. One carrying a glass of water, and the other carrying some food. “Are you okay?” The first knight asked and gave her the glass of water while the other placed a tray of food in front of her. “Imalright” I mumbled in reply. “Where am I?” I ask politely looking around at the landscape. All I could see was a dead tree, plain yellow grass and the little cave that I was in now.
“You are in a place that was long forgotten – The Unknown Land” answered the knight that spoke before. “By the way, I’m Ronny.” He pointed to the other knight who carried the tray of food, who I was pretty sure was a girl. “That’s Erma and the one sleeping over there is Victor.” I looked over her shoulder to see another knight napping on his sword. “How did I end up here?”
“You ended up her the same way we did. By disobeying your parent or parents and opening the jar.”
“Is there a way to go home?”
“There is. According to this book, you must find all the required ingredients and make a potion. One batch will work for up to ten people.”
“What are all the ingredients?”
“We have so far found six out of the ten. All that we need is a strand of hair from a mermaid, a drop of water from the sky, a branch from the oldest tree and a page for a wizard’s spell book.”
“Then what are you all waiting for?! Let’s start searching!” I said and jumped up with excitement. I could go back home again. “Wait… where do we find a mermaid?”
Erma replied, “In the Forest of Dreams!”
“Where?” asked Victor who had just woken up. He looked around and saw me. “Oh. You’re awake.” Ronny told Victor all that was going on. When he had finished, Victor stood up and started dancing. Erma rolled her eyes. When she saw the confusion on my face she said, “He’s just like that. When he’s very happy, he has to dance.”
“…Oh” I said and tried to smile. Half an hour later, My companions and I arrived at the Forest of Dreams. It was a magnificent scenery with great trees and so many different types of flowers that even Apate probably couldn’t name them all. Suddenly, I looked up and saw a pegasus flying above their heads. My jaw dropped. “Iss-s that …a PEGASUS?!” I asked pointing a shaky finger at the sky.
Erma looked at the sky and started laughing. “Yes it is.” She answered through giggles. “You’ve never seen one?!”
“Looks like our ride is here!” Victor said with a yawn. The pegasus landed right ahead of them. The four friends climbed on one by one. Erma sat at the front so she gave the commands. “To the mermaids” she commanded. The pegasus neighed in reply. They sat and chatted for a few minutes and then they landed by a dazzling white lake. The friends jumped off. “I don’t see any mermaids.” Ronny remarked. All of a sudden, they heard a voice from under the water. “Did you call for me?” They all turned to see an old lady with a tail of a shark. They all glanced at each other wondering what to do. Finally, Pandora spoke “Hello umm… we need a strand of your hair.”
“My hair? Only if you can beat me in swimming. You get ten minutes to prepare. If you don’t beat me though, I get that jewelry you have on your neck.” I looked down at my neck and saw the seashell necklace I made a few days ago when I was bored. “It’s a deal.”
“Your time starts NOW!” They went behind the tree and started planning.
“Umm… who’s the fastest swimmer here?” Ronny asked quickly.
“I don’t know” I replied.
Erma sighed. “How about we all say our fastest times?”
I started. “3:23”
Then, Victor. “8:11”
…And last… Ronny. “4:13”
“So, I’m swimming?” I asked.
“It looks like it!” answered Victor with a wide smile.
“Time’s up!” The mermaid shouted from the river. They all ran back. “So who’s swimming?”
“I am” I said and tied my hair back.
“Great let’s have some fun.” She pointed to Victor. “You there, tell us when to start.”
“Ok, um… 3… 2… 1… GO!” The two of us jumped in the water and swam all the way to the other shore. When I got there I saw that the mermaid and I had tied. “So. do we go again?” the mermaid asked.
I paused and thought for a second. “How about I give you my necklace and you cut me a strand of your hair.”
“Wait! I forgot to ask! I’m Pandora, what’s your name?”
“Are you okay?” someone behind us asked panting. We both turned and saw Ronny, Erma and Victor running towards us.
“Who won?” Erma asked.
“Then do we have a rematch?”
“No, Ariel will give us a strand of her hair in exchange for my necklace.” We got out of the water and traded the hair and necklace. We thanked the mermaid and went back to the cave. “What do we need to get tomorrow?” I asked.
“A drop of water from the sky. I wonder how we’ll get that. Isn’t hasn’t rained for weeks” Victor answered and yawned loudly. “Goodnight.” and he started snoring. We all went to bed praying that it would rain. When we woke up the next morning, it was raining. I don’t know how that was possible but it was like the gods answered our prayers. We grab a small bowl and went to catch a drop of rain. Two down, two to go! “What’s next?!” I asked and Victor answered again.
“A branch from the oldest tree.”
“Where will we find that?”
“In the Tree Forest!” Erma replied. We ate our breakfast quickly and hurried out the door with and umbrella. Some time later, we entered the Tree Forest. It was a place filled with trees. Big trees, small trees, humongous trees, tiny trees, oak trees, cherry blossoms, willows and so much more trees. “This is impossible and it’s making me dizzy!” Victor groaned.
“Dizzy?” I questioned.
“Yeah, there’re so many trees.”
Ronny rolled his eyes. “Quit complaining!” They walked around the forest cutting down trees and counting its rings. The sun was going down when Erma spoke up, “Why don’t we go home and come back tomorrow?”
I nodded, “I agree.” We turned around and walked back. On our way, we walked by an old man who was sitting by a tree missing shoes and he seemed as if he had not eaten for days. Most people just passed by him laughing behind their hands or completely ignoring. I walked up to him and gave him a few coins and my cloak. All of a sudden, he took out his wand and tapped it on himself. In a blink of an eye, he turned into somebody entirely different. Erma took three steps back and turned as white as paper. “Y-you-you’re… a magician?!”
The man smiled. “Not quite, I’m a wizard! My name is Merlin! I was sent on a mission by King Arthur because he wanted to know how many people in The Unknown Land were kind enough to help a homeless man. As reward, you get one question of your choice answered.”
“Where can we find the oldest tree in the forest?” Erma asked.
“What an unusual question.” The wizard remarked. “Hmmm… the oldest tree…” he started stroking his beard. After a minute or two, Merlin spoke. “The oldest tree in the forest is… this one!” He pointed to the one that he was sitting by. Ronny ran to the tree and broke off a branch. They said thank you about ten times and walked away. When they were two meters away, the wizard shouted. “Are you kids trying to make the Anywhere Potion? Just telling you now that potion-” The wind cut him off
“What an odd man!” Ronny commented.
I shrugged, “At least we got what we needed, but I wonder what he was trying to say.”
“Who knows, who cares.” Erma replied and fell asleep. The next day, everyone was up early (even Victor, surprisingly).
“Wait… do you guys remember Merlin?” Victor asked.
“YES!!” we all replied at the same time.
“Why?” I stared at him.
“Well…” he began. “Umm… he mentioned King Arthur”
“I think he was talking about King Arthur of The Round Table.” Victor finished.
Erma spoke, “OMG!! I believe you have a point!”
I sat there thinking. “That means that he’s-”
“THE WIZARD THAT HELPED KING ARTHUR HIMSELF!” we all screamed.
“That’s not all though. Do any of you remember Ariel the mermaid?” We all nodded. Victor paused for a few moments and began talking again. “I’m pretty sure she’s the mermaid from The Little Mermaid!”
“You’re absolutely correct!” exclaimed Victor. “Or at least I think.” he added.
I cleared my throat “Moving on, we need a page from a wizard’s book. Where do we find that?!”
Ronny smiled. “From Merlin obviously!!”
I thought about it for a moment. “But… how?”
We all started giving ideas. “We could go and politely ask” Erma suggested.
“We could break in and steal a page. He probably has tons. I don’t think he’ll mind if we take one page.” Victor proposed.
“We could trade something for a page.” Ronny offered.
“I think we’ll stick with asking.” I concluded. “And if we really need to then plan B will be trading something for a page.” We went to search for Merlin out by the oldest tree and found him. He saw us the moment we approached him. “Well, if it isn’t the four little troublemakers! How may I help you Your Majesties?” He asked chuckling. We all looked at one another having a silent conversation with our eyes. That slowly turned into a staring contest between the four of us. Merlin just stood there laughing. He snapped his finger and a bowl of popcorn appeared. “You children just have fun, and tell me when you’re ready. It’s been quite a while since I got a good laugh!” He began laughing again, a loud, merry sound that could be heard from miles away. We ignored him and kept on arguing. Finally, after around 15 minutes later, Victor gave up. “We want… no… wait… WE NEED ONE OF YOUR BOOKS!!” Victor screamed over Merlin’s loud laugh. The poor, old wizard stood as still as a rock stunned. I sighed and whispered to Victor, “I think you scared him…” Victor gave Merlin an innocent smile, “Sorry” he said not feeling sorry at all.
“So… a book huh?” Merlin said waving away his apology.
“Yeah… a book…” I replied awkwardly. He snapped his fingers and in a blink of an eye, we were in front of an old, dirty shed. “Welcome to my library!” He said with a slight bow. “It’s… nice.” we managed to say. He just laughed and open the door. The inside was bewitching. It was five stories high stacked with books from top to bottom. Non-fiction, fiction, romance, fantasy, science-fiction, history, and even picture books! Every shelf was nicely carved with a forest design, and the wallpaper was a light, faded brown that somehow made everything around it prettier. There was an elegant marble staircase and even an elevator for those who didn’t want to walk up the stairs! On the fifth floor, there was a reading corner with a magnificent view of the city below. “This library is beautiful!!” We said correcting ourselves.
Merlin chuckled, “I used some of my magic to make the outside look ugly so that thieves wouldn’t bother checking the inside. Anyways, which book do you want?”
“The one with the most magic.” I replied. “It might make the anywhere potion work better.” I thought in my head. Merlin lead us to the fifth floor and into a room that looked as if it had been locked for centuries. Inside, there were… more books, but these books all had a golden lock, that had weird marks imprinted on them. “What do the imprints mean?” I asked.
“That, my dear is what you and your so called friends have to figure out!” was the wizard’s reply, and with that, he left the room shutting the door. ”So, now what?” I asked, wanting to hear their opinion. “We figure out what those marks mean.” said Victor. Erma groaned, “Can we come back tomorrow?? I’m tired!!” she complained. We went back to the cave, ate dinner and went to bed. All night, I kept on thinking about what Merlin said… “Your so called friends…” what did he mean by that? Did they not consider me a friend? I looked over at Erma, Victor and Ronny, then down at myself. I don’t belong here. I don’t remember falling asleep, but I woke up the next morning and saw a pair of hazel eyes staring down at me. “Eek!!” I yelled, now fully awake. Ronny laughed and said, “Good morning to you too! Glad to see you’re so cheerful first thing in the morning!” I scolded at him. “Or not.” he added smiling.
“I’m glad you’re so cheerful first thing in the morning.” I replied refusing to let him tease me. We ate breakfast in silence and then walked out the door, running through the forest of dreams and to the old shed. When we opened the door to the secret library there was a note on top of a book on the table, addressed to us, from an unknown person.
“You see the marks, but don’t know why,
The strands of gold holding tight,
The book’s so special but you don’t know why,
So go to the lake full of golden light,
And there with luck it may shine bright,
If it refuses then, a mighty dragon you must fight.”
“How odd!” Erma said. “Why would this be mailed for us? And why here, out of all places?” The others started discussing who the thought had written the letter. While they were chattering loudly, I stood there reading and re-reading the letter over and over again. Suddenly, an idea popped up in my head. “Why don’t we take this book and the letter to ‘a lake full of golden light’ and do the instructions step by step?” Unexpectedly, the door flew open and Merlin stepped in. “Your not leaving the room with any of my books.” He said in an angry, flat voice. We stared at him in disbelief. This, this was the man who was laughing so cheerfully the day before?! Erma opens her mouth to answer, but Merlin just storms out of the room and slams the door. I hear the sound of a key turning in the lock. “He locked us in!” I said, sounding stupid because it was so obvious that they already knew.
“Should we… try to break out, or should we figure out why Merlin is acting so strange?” Erma asked.
“Are you sure he’s acting odd, or is that maybe his true personality?” Ronny questioned.
“You have a point, but I don’t get why he would hide his true personality from us when we asked for the branch from the oldest tree and for the page of the wizard’s book. Also, in the Arthurian legend, Merlin was a kind, caring wizard.”
“Well… well those legends could be wrong!” Ronny answered, not backing down.
“Have you considered that you could be the one wrong?” Erma shot back, now clearly irritated. “You are not the leader of this group, never have been, never will be, and acting like you are always right isn’t authoritative, it’s annoying, no it’s more than annoying! It’s idiotic! Maybe it was once a joke, but now it’s just frustrating! This is useless-you are useless!” She screamed the last few words so loud that Ronny flinched.
“Calm down, you guys. There’s no need to fight. You guys are -” I started, and then it hit me. You’re so called friends. “You guys, maybe this was what Merlin was talking about.”
“What?” said Victor, the only one not involved in the fighting, hence.
“You don’t remember?” I asked.
“Just spill it, Pandora!” He said, getting a little impatient.
“Umm… nevermind it’s not important” I said, in a voice that indicated that the subject was closed. “How do you think we can escape?” I asked, not able to think of anything else.
“We can’t.” He replied. “I already tried every single one of my magic spells to get out.”
“You do MAGIC?!” I asked, amazed, but at the same time completely shocked. He just laughed and said as calmly as he could without laughing, “Yes, of course I do magic!” I glanced at the others, but they just stood there perfectly fine with the news they were receiving. At that moment, it hit me again, “your so-called friends”. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath trying to erase those words from my head, but they just kept on repeating themselves. “Your so-called friends, your so-called friends, your so-called friends, your so-called friends, your so-called friends, your so-called friends, your so-called…”
Erma’s voice brings me back to the real world. “So we really can’t get out?”
“No.” Victor replied, sounding discouraged. “I tried everything.”
“So… now what?” I asked.
“Now, we find out how to unlock the books.” Ronny said. “Victor, do you know if any of your spells could do that?”
“I can try…” Victor replied. He seemed uncertain after failing to break them out, but determined to succeed. He muttered an incantation under his breath, placing both hands on the book sitting on the table before him. “OPEN SESAME!”
“Sesame? I thought we were unlocking a book, not a door!” I exclaimed.
“Oops… sorry, wrong spell.” Victor uttered, glancing down at his feet unable to look at us in the eyes, feeling ashamed. “Let me try again.” He inhales deeply. “Alohomora” (Alohomora is a spell that is used to opens locks.) The lock on the book sprung open like a bungee rope. “Perfect.” Erma said. “Victor, if you can’t get us out, can you bring our cauldron of Anywhere Potion here?”
“Of course!” Victor replied. “Though it might break the window and alert Merlin – Oh wait!” He pointed his finger at the door and “Muffliato!” (Muffliato is a charm used to fill the ears of any person in the vicinity of the caster with an unidentifiable buzzing sound so as to allow for conversation without being overheard.) Just then, I hear a rough and low voice behind me. “I don’t think so!” I turned around and there stood Merlin with a sword at my neck. Ronny ad Victor rushed to my aid, defending me from Merlin. Hours later, I woke up in a cell. The only things I could remember before being knocked out is that evil wizard killing Ronny and Victor then, blood spilling onto the white marble floor. They… they lost their lives to save my useless life. That moment I remembered a person I had almost forgotten about, Erma. I jump up in a flash and run towards the cellar door. I’m almost there when the door flies open. Merlin and Erma step in. “Well, well guess who’s up?” Merlin said in a soft voice, Erma at his side.
Finally, Erma spoke, “Master, what would you like me to do to her?” She asked in a completely obedient voice. “Nothing, but you come with me to see them according to the plans.”
“Of course, Master.” Pandora couldn’t believe her eyes. Erma, Erma was being turned against her! Merlin turned to me and said to Erma, “Go wait outside and shut the door behind you.” Erma left the room. He began speaking to me. “It was such a pity that the others had to go… they would’ve also been great slaves.” He smiled, a wicked grin. Suddenly, I understood what he meant by “your so called friends.” He would keep them alive and slowly turn each and every one of them against me, but I just didn’t understand why. “In around half an hour, we will be taking a little trip somewhere and you will stay silent and follow like a good girl, or else your friend” he said “friend” for a second too long. “Will die.” He finished. “Understood?” He asked. I was horrified, but tried my best not to show it. I nodded my head yes and he left the room. Thirty minutes later, he and Erma came in. “Apparate” Merlin yelled. All of a sudden, we were transported in front of a breathtaking palace on the clouds. This place felt very familiar somehow… then it hit me, we were in Olympus! We walked into the throne room and sitting there were my parents. Father spoke first, “You opened the jar, didn’t you.” Not really a question, just clarification. I nodded and they didn’t bother to speak. Merlin cleared his throat. “Well, I think I can drop the disguise now.” All of a sudden, Merlin sort of … melted away. In his place was… Ares. “I have wasted my precious time to come here today and tell you that Pandora is not a Goddess, but is human.” We all stared at him in shocked.
“But, h-” Hera started. Ares raised up a hand for quiet and continued, “A long, long time ago, I, Ares, was your favourite God out of all the Gods and Goddesses, Zeus. True or False?”
“True.” He mumbled.
“There were many happy years, but then along came little miss perfect, otherwise known as Pandora.” He said it with so much disgust. “She became the best of the best, the happiness of your lives. Where did I stand? At the very bottom.”
“That’s no-” Hera began.
“Don’t even try to deny it. All your attention went to Pandora”
“She is our only child!” Zeus yelled.
“Your so-called child who is not even your child by blood! She’s human! The other Gods and Goddesses hated that I was your favourite so they found her on the streets of the mortal world one day, and decided to give her a few blessings and make her perfect. Luckily, I was able to stop them from curing her from curiosity” Now, he was red with anger. “You were asleep soundly at night when they sneaked into your chambers and replaced your memories with fake ones! I had to something about it so, I chose revenge. I planned and planned and planned for 30 thousand years and finally came up with the perfect one. Then, I spent another century building the jar for her to open! Do you know how much work that is? After all of that, I had to placed the jar beside your bed at night and put a fake memory into your head to let you think that you always had the jar in the first place. For little miss perfect’s 8th birthday, you gave her the jar, but apparently my memory charm fluked, for you remembered to tell Pandora not to open the jar. So that night, I snuck into her room and persuaded her to open the jar. Thanks to her flaw of being so curious all the time, it made the process of persuading her to open the jar a lot easier. Once she opened the jar and disappeared, I opened the jar myself, and went to the Unknown Land, disguised as Merlin the wizard. I acted very nicely before, but she got too close to making and consuming the Anywhere Potion (which, by the way, is a fake, and would poison her). I wanted to do the honours of killing her myself. Yet her friends were smart enough to try to fool me. So they died. Erma was the only one smart enough to stay out of my w-”Suddenly, a jet of lightning swirled through the air and pulled Ares onto the floor in front of Zeus’ throne. “You, the one I trusted and honored, BETRAYED ME?!” He roared, and then there was the sound of thunder outside.“YOU WILL NEVER THREATEN ANYONE IN MY FAMILY AGAIN, REAL OR NOT, YOU EVIL WIZARD!” Ropes of lightning wrapped themselves around Ares, burning his skin the more he struggled with them. “No!” Erma cried. I turned in shocked. I had forgotten she was there. “Erma, snap out of it! Snap out of it! He is not your Master. ” She ignored me, reached for a sword and charged at me. She pointed the sword right at my heart. “Release him, or you ‘daughter’ is dead!” Zeus, thinking it was just a lie, refused to let go of the screaming, traitorous Ares. Seeing the he was unwilling to, she whispered into my ear so that only I could hear, “Sorry” and pierced a sword through my heart. My last thought was “Your so called friends” I heard my father’s voice for the last time: “NOOOOOOOOO!” Then, everything went dark…
50 years later…
Zeus and Hera walked down the hallway together. They stopped at a door with the inscription “In Memory of Pandora” “Do you want to go in again?” Zeus inquired his wife. “Last time was so soon after she died, you weren’t ready…”
“I’m ready now.” Hera answered, feebly but determined. Very slowly, Zeus opened the door. Inside were many things. A shard from the jar that brought Pandora to the Unknown Land. Her prized possessions, like her locket with her parents and the 12 Olympians bracelet. A strand of her hair. Etc, etc. Upon seeing these things, Hera let a few tears fall. “I loved her so much… ”
“She might’ve not been our true daughter but,…” they finished they sentence together. “… we loved and will always love her.”
Ares was put in a torture cell as a punishment for treason of the King and Queen, Zeus and Hera. It was even worse than death itself. Why couldn’t they just kill him already? They had took anything sharp or dangerous from him and they also took all his magic away. It was worse than the ropes of lightning that bound him on that fateful night. Worse than anything he could imagine. Pain, guilt, fear, suffering… this cell had it all. He knew he would die eventually, because he was now the equivalent of a human, and all because of that monsterly Pandora, He would live it all in agony.
The moment when she had killed Pandora was still in her head, in her dreams, everywhere. Erma couldn’t stop thinking about it. She had killed a human being, even worst, a friend. Her last word to Pandora was “Sorry” and she still remembered it loud and clear. She knew that if Pandora was still alive, she wouldn’t blame her because she was possessed and that made Erma feel even more guilty. She has weeped for 50 years, had nightmares for 50 years, she couldn’t take it any longer. She took the sword she had killed Pandora with, the one she had not touched since that day, and without thinking, stabbed herself. Suicide. At least now she could join her friends, who had all died because of the man she had once been forced to served.