Demophon was admired greatly by all. He had one eye that was clear as a summer’s night and another eye that gleamed darkly. Although he was not very tall, yet he was lithe and muscular, so that he enjoyed the respect of his friends. He had no beard and no moustache and when he spoke it was always softly and calmly.
When Demophon looked at someone, his eyes were sometimes as of a child and sometimes as of a tiger. He radiated light then, so that those who looked at him thought they saw both the earth and the moon. Everyone however, noticed, that he always smelled very sweet and fresh, as though his appearance was forever announcing spring.
His father waged many wars, and sometimes he took the child to battle so that it could learn on the battlefield. The King always rode up front and inspired great trust in his men. Year after year he won every battle, even when he was gravely injured. He taught the child to muster his wild impulses and not to inflame in anger when faced with adversity. And although the child was stubborn and inclined to ignore orders, he still developed a sympathetic, calm reasoning.
His victories made king Philip beloved by many and hated by many others. The father knew that wheresoever he went, he could never be safe. That is why he sent his son to his brother Darius, who himself reigned as king over another kingdom. He turned to Eleima to provide safe travels for his son.
She clothed the young prince and herself in the dress of a simple merchant and her son. Sat on a wooden wagon they travelled thus under the protection of night to the kingdom where the prince could grow up in peace. Along the way they slept in the open cart, covered only in a blanket of horsehair.
Although it did not appear that way, the wagon they travelled with was made of strongest bronze. The horses were two formidable white mares, each one more beautiful and powerful than the other. The king had ordered the wagon covered in wooden planks, bound together with rope and tar. He had grown out the hair of the horses and rubbed mud in their fur, so that their beauty was hidden in dark and greasy hair. Only those who paid meticulous attention saw that the wagon made deep tracks; and that the horses did not trudge, but that their mighty muscles flexed every moment as they took the wagon over the roads. Those who knew about such things could perhaps recognise the movements with which Eleima drove the horses, and perhaps catch a glance of the golden sword she kept hidden under her drab clothing. And the young prince, too, although he had been instructed to look no one in the eye, would sometimes look around at a bystander with glimmering eyes, altogether forgetting that humbleness was better suited to the son of a merchant.
So they reached the kingdom of King Darius, the brother of the king. Here, Eleima had the horses scrubbed and had the wood removed from the wagon, so that suddenly there appeared a splendid chariot with a fiery team of horses. This she offered to the king as a gift on behalf of his brother and she spoke: O king, righteous ruler of this kingdom, hereby I bring you Demophon, your brother’s son, so that you may protect him and have him raised by good teachers. When the time has come, I will lead him back from this kingdom to his father’s kingdom, that he may bring honour there to his family’s glorious name.
The king was much pleased with the confidence his brother had placed in him by entrusting him with his own son. He asked Eleima to return and tell him not to worry about the young prince’s safety while reaching adulthood. Thereupon he gave her a very valuable dagger, inlaid with dazzling jewels, and he asked her to bring this to his brother. When the time came to send a messenger to lead the adult prince back, he asked that this messenger made himself known by showing this dagger.
So Eleima left the young prince behind. Sat on a strong horse that the king had given her she travelled back. Although she had safely delivered the precious cargo, she nonetheless deemed it wise to move on as inconspicuously as possible. She dressed herself once more in simple clothes and hid the king’s dagger in the folds of her coat. Once again she attempted to meet as few people as possible.
It happened that she had been travelling for a long time over a narrow mountain passage when she found herself opposite two rich brothers and their party on a bend in the road. They were tired after a long journey and besides they were carrying many valuables that they had acquired, so that the road was blocked to them and their party. The young men were moneyed and used to giving orders and not knowing that this poorly dressed traveler opposite them was the divine envoy of king Philip, they ordered her to turn around. The eldest among them said: We have come a long way and our journey has been hard. Many before you have had to make way, now it is your turn. Turn around and let us pass so we can continue undisturbed.
But Eleima answered: I too have come a long way and I still have a long way to go. This road is narrow. If you tell your party to adjust, we can pass each other by. Then we can all travel on and reach our goals. If you refuse to let me pass and attempt to make me bend to your will, none of us will get what they want. After all, even if I acquiesce to your request and turn around, I will have to precede you and you will not be able to pass me by, while my own journey is unnecessarily delayed. And if I refuse to acquiesce to your request and you pass me by violently, we all run the risk of plunging into the ravine in the struggle. By working together peacefully we achieve the greatest good for all.
The eldest of the two young men was known for his irascible character. He pulled his sword and rushed towards the woman to force her to turn around or else to send her to her death. The youngest, named Shtenno, disapproved of his brother’s behaviour, but thought that it was his duty to stand by him even if his cause was unjust. So they both drove towards her. The eldest struck at Eleima, who nimbly avoided him. In her manoeuvre the splendid dagger of king Darius became visible. The eldest of the two brothers was not a good fighter and his crude swings did not strike home. In his fury, he threw himself on top of the unexpected adversary and in doing so was blinded by the rays of sunlight reflected by the jewels in the dagger. Although the Goddess wished him no harm, the young man behaved so recklessly that he fell and was trampled to death under the hoofs of his own horse.
When his brother collapsed, Shtenno threw himself weeping atop the dead body and swore vengeance. He cursed the unknown traveler with the words: The blood of the fallen shall not be forgotten until you will also have lost the child that was fed at your breast.
Eleima rushed back to the camp of king Philip, where she reported her meeting with king Darius. She handed the splendid dagger to the king, instructing him that this was the key for a messenger to gain the king’s confidence when the time came for the prince to take his place at his own court. But she warned the king of Shtenno’s curse.