Weight of The World

Atlas, another Titan punished by Zeus. Atlas had commanded Chronus' army when the Gods and Titans faced off long ago. Zeuse sought to embarrass and shame him with a punishment. Tartarus was not enough for Atlas. Instead he was forced to stand at the end of the Earth. There he would hold up the sky on his shoulders. There he had stood, long before Prometheus had been chained. His endurance had become legendary.

"Atlas," Heracles called to the Enduring Titan.

"Who disturbs my sleep," Atlas asked opening his eyes.

"Heracles, I have come to ask your help."

"Why should I help a child of Zeus? I spit on your very existence."

"You should help me so that I do not finish the job my father started," Heracles did not take the disrespect mildly.

"What did you say boy?"

"You should help him because he has done you no harm. We need one of to retrieve three golden apples from the garden of Hespridies. A location sacred to Hera. I know you would not pass up one more opportunity to spite the gods. Even if it were not Zeus," Azeus intervened.

"Spire Hera you say," Atlas asked, his anger alleviated. "Zeus did not have the knowledge to come up with this punishment. It was Hera who put the idea in his head."

"Then you'll help," Azeus asked.

"Yes, but someone will need to hold the sky while I retrieve the apples. No one who is not immortal can enter into the gates of the garden," Atlus had thought of his plan already.

Heracles took the sky from Atlas. Proof that he was as strong as any Titan. However, it wasn't true. Atlas had held the sky for centuries. Heracles was soon sweating, muscles cramping and on the verge of tears after only a month. Where Atlas stood tall, Heracles was soon bending to a single knee. Heracles was stronger than any man that ever lived. He was not stronger than a God, nor a Titan. This was his limit. This is where he could no longer raise past through any barriers.

Still, while holding the skies Heracles found a great understanding. Almost as if he could hear through the ears of every bird and insect flying through the skies. What he heard was pain, suffering and grief. Slowly Heracles stopped struggling under the weight of the sky. Instead he struggled to hold back tears until he could do so no longer. In that moment, Heracles realized he was not alone. He was not the only person in the world struggling, nor was he suffering the most. The tears fell freely for days, he did not think of Atlas' failure to return. He only sought to learn how others dealt with the pain.

"I have returned with the apples," Atlas arrived shocked to see Heracles still standing. "I will deliver the apples for you. I'll return. There is a dragon that seeks them."

"Would you mind holding the sky so that I may adjust my shoulder first," Heracles asked. 

"Ah, I can do that," and Atlas took the sky.

"Thank you for retrieving the apples. Unfortunately, I know you had no intentions of returning. I...heard it. I hope you enjoyed your break. Perhaps I will find a way to free you one day," Heracles picked up the apples and began to walk.

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