Just a few more yards until the finish line.
That's what Lysander thought as he tried to catch the young Spartan boy who managed to stay just a few feet ahead of him.
They were the two youngest in the race. They easily outpaced the others.
Try as he did to overtake the boy, he could not.
The crowd cheered as they both collapsed shortly after they crossed the finish line.
"Nice race," the Spartan said as he reached for Lysander's hand and pulled him up. "They named is Greicos."
"Lysander," Lysander said as he was being helped up, out of breath.
The crowd roared in appreciation as the wreath of triump was placed on Greicos' head, and he was given a branch and flowers.
Lysander marvelled at the spectacle of being crowned an Olympic champion.
"It seems like I get second in everything," Lysander told his victorious competitor.
"Oh no, you are amazing," Greicos said. "My father says we are the youngest athletes in the games. You've finished second in the javelin and the discus against much larger, older men.
He didn't fare too badly in wrestling, either. But he was bested by his cousin, Clias, much to the delight of Clias' father, Apollo, who made light of it to Artemis as they looked down from Olympus. But even Clias was no match for their uncle, Hercules, who won the competition.
"It really isn't fair, you know," Greicos told him. "Having the blood of a god really gives Clias and Hercules an advantage."
"Should we tell him that's how you are able to compete against much older, larger athletes, my nephew?" Hercules whispered.
Hercules was the absolute star of the games, but Lysander had created quite a following with his exploits at the Games.
Even Zeus bragged about his grandson on Olympus, although he managed to keep quiet about Lysander's exploits.
The next event was boxing. And Lysander was once again paired with Greicos.
Lysander was impressed with Greicos' skill. But Greicos was really no match for the young demigod. Lysander could have easily knocked out Greicos, but chose to beat him on points.
"You're really good," Greicos said as the two exited the ring. Lysander gave credit to his trainer, an Amazon teacher named Zaniape, who would train him at the temple from time-to-time shortly after the trap set by Aron.
Artemis sent her, and told Lysander that she wanted Lysander to eventually go to Amazon country for full training as Lydia.
Lysander's heart skipped when his next competitor climbed into the ring. It was King Aron himself.
"I can't place you, but you look awfully familiar," the son of Ares said.
Lysander was relieved. Although he favored Lydia ... as well as their mother ... those who didn't know about the transformation had no idea they were the same person.
Aron promised to pound Lysander to a pulp. Aron had amazing strength, that Lysander found out in the form of Lydia.
But just as Lydia was able to get the best of Aron with her wits, Lysander kept the match close with his, much to the frustration of Aron, and the delight of the crowd.
But in the end, brute force won out over brains. Aron was the Olympic champion.
"There is no shame in losing to the son of Ares the way you did," his uncle Hercules assured him after the match was over.
Lysander was a little sore as he prepared for his final event of the games. It was the very reason he made the journey to the valley of Olympia.
The village of Erastus had never had an Olympic champion. The chieftain, and other village elders, convinced High Priestess Phoebe to allow Lysander to compete. They did not know Lysander was the son of the goddess, but they knew Phoebe served as his guardian.
Lysander was reluctant.
"It would bring honor to the village that has served your mother so well," Phoebe said.
Phoebe, Ariana and Arsana traveled with Lysander to the games. They represented the temple of Artemis, and were a bit taken aback by the priestesses of Demeter who practically through themselves at the athletes.
"Have they no shame?" Arsana asked Phoebe.
"Of course now, it's what they do," Phoebe said.
They were among those in attendance at the stadium for the archery contest.
"That is an impressive bow," Greicos said as he and Lysander walked out to join the rest of the competitors.
"It was a gift to my mother from her father," Lysander said. "She gave it to me."
The competition was a long one. Greece had several great archers.
But once again, it came down to the son of Apollo against the son of Artemis.
This time, Lysander went first and hit the target dead center as he did all day. Clias' arrow graced Lysander's, but landed just to the right.
Once again, Lysander was the victor.
As was custom, he was acknowleged as the son of Phillip, the farmer, when the wreath was placed upon his head, and it was announced Lysander of Erastus was the Olympic champion.
He shared a tent during the competition with Greicos and two other boys about their age.
"Greicos, have you seen my tunic?" the young champion asked when the competition was over. "I'd like to finally get clothes on. We may have to compete in the nude, but I am not going to the champions' feast without clothes.
It was the one part of the Olympics he hated.
"Oh, I don't know, you do have a cute butt," a woman's voice said as she entered the tent.
Both Greicos and Lysander did their best to try to cover up.
"Relax boys, I see men naked all of the time," the woman said.
It did not make the two boys feel any better.
"Greicos, can you leave us for a while?" the woman asked. "There are other tents you can dress in. I am Lysander's aunt, and I've come to dress him for the feast."
"Your aunt?" Greicos asked.
Lysander shrugged his shoulders. Somehow, he knew this had to be another relative from Olympus.
"He has a nice ass to, don't you think?" the woman said, taking in the view as Greicos left the tent.
Lysander blushed, but agreed.
"I took your tunic," the woman said. "No daughter of Olympia is going to be dressed in rags when she is being honored for an Olympic triumph."
The use of the term daughter didn't really seem to bother Lysander. He heard it quite often when he was Lydia.
"Let me look at you, my neice," she said as she circled, looking at his body.
"Even in this body, you are too pretty to be a boy," she said. "Told Artemis myself you should never be allowed to wear boys' clothes again."
Lysander felt a little uncomfortable at the talk as the woman reached into a trunk and pulled out a beautiful girl's chiton, the most beautiful he'd ever seen. It was even more beautiful than some of the things he'd worn at the temple, or that he'd even seen Artemis in on feast days.
She made Lysander put on the undergarments she provided. He then put on the toga. She then worked on his hair, applied ribbons, makeup and sprinkled perfume on Lysander.
Lysander looked shocked as he looked in the mirror.
"One does not have to put on a necklace to be Lydia, my dear niece," the woman proclaimed. "Aphrodite, you've clearly outdone yourself. Even the great Phidius couldn't do better with marble.
Greicos reentered the tent about that time as Aphrodite admired her work.
"I can't possibly go like this ...." Lysander stammered.
"Oh yes, you can, you must," Greicos stammered.
"Yes, you must," Aphrodite said. "My work this night is done. But I am not through with you by any means."
Greicos escorted Lysander to the feast honoring the Olympic champions.
"You are prettier than any priestess of Demeter," Greicos said as they walked into the large tent.
Suddenly, Lysander was the center of attention.
Greicos introduced Lysander to his father King Leonidas.
"This is the young boxer who put the scare into mighty King Aron?" Leonidas replied. "Please, don't be upset. You really are a thing of beauty."
"I see Aphrodite has struck?" his uncle Hercules said.
Lysander enjoyed the feasting, but crowds always made him a little stuffy.
He looked at the moon, and for a moment wished he was out on a hunt with his faithful dog Argo.
He was joined by Greicos, who said things were getting too festive for him.
"You should not be uncomfortable being dressed as a girl," Greicos said. "You look really beautiful."
He then presented Lysander with a flower and stole a kiss.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that," he stammered.
"That's OK," Lysander said. "You look really beautiful, too."
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