The water soothed the melting wax on my arms, yet stung the recent cuts. The thrill of flying had not yet worn off, and adrenaline still coursed through my veins.
I drew in a shaky breath, choking when I inhaled water instead of oxygen. My vision was blurry, disoriented and dizzy. Water clogged my ears, nose, everything.
After coming to my senses, I realized what was going on. I was drowning. My feet kicked wildly, trying my best to swim to the top. Sore, burnt arms attempted to tread water, but they were still too weak.
I let out a strangled cry, begging for help. Help from anyone. I prayed to the gods above, for forgiveness, for aid, for anything but death. The lights above grew dimmer as I sunk deeper into the depths of the sea.
It's as if the ocean was grabbing me, dragging me deeper and deeper into its murky confines. Nothing could save me now.
"Help!" I cried, but it sounded as if a bird was letting out a gurgled call. I couldn't drown, not now. But still, I felt so tired, so weak.
No. No, Icarus. Wake up.
A sudden urge came over me, and I swam for the surface. The ocean tried to refuse me, tried to drag me back down into the unknown. I didn't listen. I kicked my legs, leaving a thick trail of bubbles and foam behind me as I swam. The surface was so close! I could almost feel the air now, almost hear the birds singing. Singing for me, cheering me on.
Something latched on to my leg, and I sunk back down. I screamed, a horrible scream. I looked down and saw what would kill me.
Seaweed. I would be killed by seaweed. My life, a short one, in fact, would be ended by seaweed.
After a few seconds, I stopped struggling. Maybe this was it. This was my punishment, not falling from the sky, but dying a lame, unheroic death. The ocean would take me, take me to my eatery grave. At least I would be in rest. I closed my eyes, and let out the last bit of air stuck in my lungs.
The next thing I knew, strong, tan, arms were wrapped around my chest. My body was limp in theirs, as they swam strongly to the surface. We rose through the water, and I sucked in a deep breath of air. I wiped droplets of water off my face, trying to find my rescuer.
I looked around, confused as to where I was. I felt sand and rocks underneath me, and my burns stung from the air. A young man, not much older than me, helped me to my feet. He had dark, tan skin, and golden hair the color of the sun. His eyes were a deep yellow, a fierce amber. He ran a hand through his curly hair, breathing heavily. He wasn't handsome, no, that wasn't enough. He was so much more.
"You'll be safe here," The mysterious man said, stepping away from me.
"Wait!" I stumbled towards him, still dripping wet. "Who are you?"
The man stared at me, his fiery amber eyes warm, yet calculating. "I'm not sure you want to know."
"But I do! You saved my life!"
"I'm not supposed to be here. I'm already risking punishment for saving you. If you know my name, you could tell others. Either way, if I told you, I don't think you could handle it," He answered. He turned to leave, but I couldn't let him. I grabbed his wrist, and he froze. "Let go."
"I can handle it. I literally had feathers burnt onto my arms, got slapped back down to the ocean, and was this close to drowning. I can handle knowing a name."
He contemplated it for a second, then pulled his wrist out of my grasp. "You can't tell anyone."
"It's not as if I'll ever see other people again. They'll imprison me on sight."
He sighed. "My name is Apollo."
"W-what?" My breath caught in my throat. This man was the god of the sun. "You're the Apollo?"
The man, Apollo, sighed heavily. "I told you that you wouldn't be prepared."
"I'm more shocked that a god would want to help me. Wasn't falling out of the sky my punishment? Or is living on this island with you the punishment?" I confessed. To be honest, if it was with him, it wouldn't be a punishment.
"You amuse me," Apollo grinned, a soft laugh escaping his lips. "No, I just thought that Zeus was being unfair. Flying is fun, I understand why you flew so high. But now look at your arms. I wouldn't suggest trying that stunt again."
"I thought you were the one who knocked me out of the sky."
Apollo chuckled, his amber eyes lighting up with humor. "No, I'm a bit more laid back than him. Come, let me help your arms."
I obeyed, walking over to where he stood. He took my hands in his, running his calloused fingers over my palms. I watched as the remaining wax melted of my arms, dripping to the ground. Once the wax hit the sand, it sunk into the ground, forgotten.
"The scars will remain, as a remainder of the utterly stupid act you've done. But the wax is gone, and your arms don't look too bad," Apollo explained. He dropped my hands, looking me in the eye. "You promise to never do that again. Swear on the River Styx."
"It's not like I'll be able to do it again."
"Fine- I swear on the River Styx that I'll never fly too close to the sun again. Now, what I'm supposed to do on this island?"
"There's a small town just behind those woods. They'll accept you, you'll be safe here. Your father will never find you here. As for me," Apollo sighed. I could see he didn't want to leave. "I'll be returning to Mount Olympus."
"Promise you'll visit me."
"I'll see what I can do." Apollo stood awkwardly. There was a long silence between us, before he wrapped his arms around me. We stayed like that for a minute, before he broke the embrace. "Yeah. I promise I'll visit. I have to leave, now. Stay safe, Icarus."
I watched as translucent golden winds spouted from Apollo's back, preparing to take flight. I croaked out what sounded like a goodbye, but I couldn't be sure. I really didn't want my new companion to leave, but I wasn't stupid enough to stop a god. A part of me knew that he was waiting for me to stop him, waiting for me to convince him to live with me on this island.
But I didn't.
Apollo flew into the sky, not looking back. His golden wings spread in the sky, lifting higher and higher. Bringing him far away, away from me. Soon he disappeared, and I knew he had arrived home. I watched the sky where he had last been for a few minutes, hoping that he would suddenly return.
I turned to see a young girl around sixteen emerge from the woods. She wore a classic chiton, and her dark amber hair was plaited delicately, and she looked to be some form of royalty.
"Hello," I replied, just noticing the tears that had started to form in my eyes. I wiped them with my arm, and stepped towards her.
"Do you need help?" She asked.
"No," I answered, collecting myself. "I've been sent here by Apollo, to make a new life for myself."
"Well then," The girl said, her voice calm and confident. "Welcome to Ìlios. I see our patron has sent a true warrior."