Nemean Lion

Heracles wandered the wilderness for days. Every so often he would find traces of the Nemean Lion, but they would vanish. The creature was almost as cunning as it was monstrous. The creature could eat a man and vanish in broad daylight. Almost as if it had the blessing of the Gods itself. The Nemean Lion's fur had never been penetrated by any weapon, and it had taken out entire hunting parties alone. Claws were said to rip through an entire man with just a single swipe. Despite the infamous reputation and being the size of two full grown Heracles had not come close to spotting it, let alone killing it.

It wasn't long before he wandered into the town of Cleonae. A town that had been plagued by the lion over the years and sought an end to the creature. There he met a boy, Azeus, who provided him with supplies before he could journey back into the forest. The boys face was pale, not sickly but fearful and he trembled gently. Parts of his brown hair had already started to lighten and turn gray. Heracles couldn't help but ask the boy.

"Boy, what is wrong with you?"

"I am in perfect health, but that may be what is wrong with me," Azeus responded, dodging the question.

"You tremble with fear? Do I scare you?"

"No, it is not you that I fear," he replied.

"Then who is that causes you such pain?"

"Your father."

"My father Zeus causes you pain?"

"Not directly. Our village plans to sacrifice me on an altar to please Zeus in 30 days if we can not capture and kill the Nemean Lion."

"Then why name you after Zeus?"

"They named me Azeus, as in far away from Zeus."

"Humanity is cruel. I'll slay the lion. You will not die in 30 days."

Heracles sharpened his arrows to the sharpest points before he left the town. He would not sleep until he found and killed the Nemean Lion. Things did not go as planned. On the ninth day, he was forced to sleep. Awakened by the roars, he knew he had to be close. On the fifteenth day, he found tracks. Fresher than any he had seen before. On the 21st day, he saw the lion.

Heracles was quick, he drew his bow and fired arrow after arrow. Each one landing on the lion, each one ignored. Heracles' arrows were no threat to the beast. They simply bounced off of the fur and fell harmlessly to the ground. On the 24th day, Heracles found the lion's cave. An entrance on both sides. If Heracles would attack from the front, the lion would leave from the back.

On the 25th day Heracles blocked the first entrance of the cave with a boulder. He waited for the lion to return, and when it did, he waited for the sounds of sleep. Heracles built a fire at the entrance and crept toward the lion. When it awoke it tried to flee but was trapped between the fire and boulder. The lion would have to take chances with the flames. Panicked, the lion did not notice Heracles, a monster as big as itself.

Heracles wrapped his hands around the Lions necks and squeezed, it struggled for air, as the men it had killed all did. Slowly the lion fell asleep and Heracles snapped the neck. Bringing an end to the Nemean Lion. Heracles was short on time if he intended to save Azeus from sacrifice. His knife broke, his arrows broke and rocks shattered as he tried to skin the lion. In a desperate act he removed a claw. To his surprise it was strong enough to cut through the fur. He skinned the lion there.

On the 30th day, he made it back to the town of Cleonae with the lion on his shoulders. The town rejoiced and threw a festival that lasted seven days in honor of Heracles saving them from the nightmare they had been living.

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