His Achilles’ heel

This is the education of Thessaly’s flat lands:

there’s always a measure for the mightiest horse,

the best in shining weapons; for who is he

that fastest runs and which young body has the weight

that casts the heavier shadow.


Men must be born out of the mud,

their own sweat and blood of others

lest they forever be the children of their mothers.

So, competition is fierce among the cubs

while elders watch their lives replayed.


This is the way, they all agree;

noble antagonism between the young

will make them daring and fearless in battle,

but pray that this will happen soon, for until then

they’re just the village bullies.


One of them really tops the bill;

born in the ruling clan from ancient blood,

handsome but violent and wild

–maybe the stuff that heroes makes

but also vagabonds, criminals and berserkers.


It’s off to the mountain for him;

the plains cannot contain this primal force

and in the hands of tutor half animal half man

his harness must be trusted –the only hands

that know best how to tame the beast.


He’s fed with blood and wild animals’ raw meat;

gallops like crazy with his mates and hunts like a demon

–wolves fear him and lions bow their heads.

He also learns how to cure disease, prepare potions,

set broken bones and mind for the weakest.


Down the mountain he comes, the pride of his mother

–more beautiful, much stronger, more respected–

but not his teacher’s joy; the dark dark wound

that fills his soul with wrath has not been healed

and, Cheiron knows, this rage will be his undoing.


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