Leo Nemaeus lived near the town of Nemea, in the Peloponnese. He stole food from the township, or ordered people to bring it to him. Any time warriors from the town attempted to come after him, he would lure them into his cave by making sounds like an injured woman or child. When the warrior rushed in to save the injured person, Leo would attack. In this way he lived somewhat peacefully, with very little effort in regards to hunting. Leo Nemaeus gained a reputation for being “unkillable”, as he was able to avoid most attacks, and the few that landed healed over instantly, giving rise to the belief that his hide was impenetrable.
Alkeides, a traveler to Nemea, heard of the lion and was challenged to kill it. He shot at Leo Nemaeus with arrows, but Leo hardened his skin so the injuries were only slight, and healed instantly, making it appear as if the arrows were bouncing off his hide. Leo could not be bothered giving chase, so waited for Alkeides to come closer. He attacked Alkeides but the warrior was faster than he had realized, and managed to get behind him with his arms around the lion’s neck. Leo could not throw Alkeides off, so he attempted to change his shape to escape his grip, but unbeknownst to either of them, Alkeides’; gold wristcuff, crafted for him by a dark skinned man in Africa, was inlaid with silvery filaments. The rare metal, known to only a few Immortals at the time and referred to as ice metal, prevented Leo from shifting, it also drained his strength.
Alkeides strangled Leo until the lion fell unconscious from lack of air. Thinking the lion was dead Alkeides left him, but not before seeing the white marks burnt into the fur on Leo’s neck, the pattern matching that on his wristcuff.
Once the ice metal was removed Leo Nemaeus began to recover. He awoke after dark to find that Alkeides had gone. Leo feared that Alkeides would come back and finish him off while he slept. So he decided that he would leave Nemea, rather than hunt down Alkeides. He knew that other humans had overpowered Immortals through the use of the ice metal, but that few of them understood its meaning. He assumed that Alkeides would drink away most of his memories in celebration and in time, die, taking the secret with him.
Leo Nemaeus was wrong.
Alkeides realized that it had been through the luck of his wristcuff that he had survived and won the fight with Nemaeus. He went back to the cave but the lion was gone. Alkeides waited three days and three nights for the lion to return, but he did not. The people of the town began to believe the lion was dead and praised Alkeides for his valor. Tales of his strength soon spread and eventually Alkeides left Nemea with his companions, deciding to track down more of the Immortal monsters and slay them to further the stories of their glory.
When tell came to Alkeides of Hydra in Lerna, he decided she would be his next target for Hydra’s lair was said to hold the wealth of a thousand kings. When Alkeides reached Lerna, he tried to make Hydra move from her post, but the monster stood her ground and attacked him with her many heads. Alkeides lashed at her with a golden sword, thinking that it was the gold in his wristcuff which had overpowered Nemeaus. Hydra did not even flinch as he cut off her heads for it did not kill her. Hydra laughed at Alkeides and grew back two appendages for every one that was cut off.
Alkeides knew he was losing the fight, so retreated to figure out what he was doing wrong. Iolaus, Alkeides’ companion, suggested that he try silver, as that was also used in his wristcuff, however the silver had no more effect on Hydra than gold.
The Alkeidians asked for aid from an African alchemist and metal worker who identified the inlay as not silver, but a metal known as selas, thought to be left on Earth by Selene. He managed to procure some more of the rare metal for Alkeides and with it he attacked Hydra again.
This time Alkeides cut off the limbs and Iolaus burned the stumps with the selas. This weakened Hydra until Alkeides could finish her off.
Thus Hydra was the first to fall to the Alkeidians.
Unlike Hydra and Nemaeus, Cerynitis was one of the more peaceful Immortals. She took the form of a deer with golden antlers and was renowned for her speed of flight through the forest. Upon hearing of this creature, Alkeides knew it must be another Immortal, so he and his troop set out to capture it.
When Alkeides came for her Cerynitis fled, as was her way. Alkeides gave chase and herded her into a trap, which his men had lain. They snared her in a net, adorned with beads of selas, so she could not escape it. Cerynitis’ antlers became tangled in the web and the beads bleached her famous golden antlers to bone white.
Cerynitis asked Alkeides to spare her, telling him that she could transform into a beautiful woman and would be his bride. Alkeides liked the idea of keeping Cerynitis as a prize, but when he untangled her – so she could change into the woman – she attempted to escape. Alkeides caught her before she was free of the net and killed her.
Pholus and the Centaurs
Alkeides visited Pholus, the centaur, whom he believed to be an old friend of his. Alkeides confided to Pholus that he was hunting the Erymanthian Boar, which he believed to be another Immortal. Pholus questioned Alkeides about the hunt, giving him wine to loosen his tongue. Alkeides confessed that he had killed both Hydra and Cerynitis with the use of selas. Upon realizing that Alkeides was hunting Immortals and that he knew about the ice metal, Pholus called the other centaurs of the region, who then attacked Alkeides and his men.
The Alkeidians fought back, using selas tipped arrows and blades that they had since procured. They shot many of the Immortals, including Pholus and killed them all. Alkeides was enraged that Pholus had betrayed him. Even though he knew Pholus was an Immortal, Alkeides had believed him civilised and could not understand why he had acted in defence of the dangerous monsters like Hydra. Alkeides decided that all Immortals were savage and only offered pretences of friendship.
Erymanthus frequently took the form of a giant wild boar and would attack villages and lay waste to the fields of farmers who failed to offer the right tribute to him. Alkeides and his companions tracked the boar through the mountains. Erymanthus did not flee at first, like Cerynitis had, but turned to fight. Alkeides shot flaming arrows at the boar, knowing that they would not kill him, but the fire would still drive him back. They herded Erymanthus into the thick snow, where the Alkeidians had dug selas tipped spears into the ground.
Erymanthus charged into the snow and the spears pierced his chest and sides. The Alkeidians waited for him to die then dug him out and carried his corpse away as a trophy.
Cygnus, Aquila and Lyra
The swan, the eagle and the vulture inhabited Lake Stymphalia in Arcadia. The three birds guarded their territory fiercely, using their beaks and even their feathers (sharpened to bone) to attack trespassers. The Alkeidians used bells and clappers to make loud noises, waking the birds, who immediately took flight to attack the invaders.
Alkeides shot the birds down with his selas arrows, which the birds were not expecting to be made of ice metal and so did not avoid.
King Minos of Crete, upon hearing of Alkeides and his adventures, sent word to him to him to journey to his kingdom. Once there Minos sent Alkeides to capture or kill Taurus, the great bull, who had been tearing up crops and demanding offerings from the people. Minos also accused Taurus of having an affair with his wife, Pasiphae.
He offered Alkeides his help in subduing the Immortal, but Alkeides refused, calling only on the help of his comrades.
Alkeides captured Taurus and wrestled with him in much the way he had overcome Nemaeus, using the ice metal on his bracelets to weaken the Immortal. Theseus, one of the Alkeidians, killed Taurus while Alkeides restrained him, and dedicated the kill to Zeus.
Podagros, Lampon, Xanthos and Deinos
Known as the Mares of Diomedes, these four Immortals – the Swift, the Shining, the Golden and the Terrible – took the forms of wild horses, who fed on flesh and preyed on men.
The Alkeidians tracked the Mares to Thrace and found them near a bronze manger, constructed by King Diomedes in their honor. Alkeides left his comrade Abdera to watch the Mares while he and the others went to prepare their weapons and the attack. When they returned it was to find that the Mares has discovered Abdera and killed him.
The Alkeidians attacked the Mares and overpowered them by lashing their mouths shut with the selas beaded rope that had been used on Cerynitis. As the Immortals were trapped in the forms of horses they could fight back only with their hooves, which Alkeides avoided and thus managed to kill them.
Geryon and Orthus
A ferocious warrior, known for fighting with multiple arms, three holding shields and three holding swords, Geryon inhabited the island of Erytheia. Alkeides journeyed to the island with his comrades, intending to kill Geryon and steal the magnificent red cattle he bred there.
Alkeides first killed Geryon’s companion, the Immortal, Orthus, who often took the form of a two headed dog. Orthus attacked Alkeides the moment he arrived on the island, but Alkeides struck him in the head with his club, the blow hard enough to knock Orthus unconscious. Alkeides finished him off with a selas arrow, then shot the next arrow at Geryon. Once both Immortals were dead the Alkeidians stole the famous cattle and sacrificed them to Hera.
Ladon and Antaeus
Then Alkeidians journeyed to Tartessos to confront Ladon, the serpentine dragon. On their journey they encountered Antaeus, an Immortal who had heard of Alkeides and his conquests. Antaeus challenged Alkeides to a wrestling match, goading Alkeides by saying that without his weapons he was helpless. Alkeides fought him and strangled him as he had Nemaeus and Taurus. The Alkeidians continued to a garden where Ladon was known to keep young woman, known as his Hesperides, as hostages. Alkeides slew Ladon and freed the three Hesperides.
When Alkeides sought out Cerberus, it was to find the great three headed dog waiting for him. Cerberus was enraged by Alkeides’ killing of his close friend Orthus.
Cerberus boasted to be the guardian of the Underworld and a friend to Hades and promised to deliver them all to him. Alkeides did not doubt that Cerberus was in league with Hades, and indeed thought the Immortal was the full embodiment of his reputation as a Hellhound.
Knowing that Alkeides was using ice metal, Cerberus first rid him and his men of their weapons. The warriors surrounded Cerberus who attacked, biting at them with his three heads. Alkeides avoided being bitten and managed to grab a length of the bead rope from where the weapons were dropped. Using it like a whip, he wrapped the rope around Cerberus’s three necks. Once the beast was restrained the Alkeidians retrieved their weapons and killed him. They burnt the body at the mouth of the cave that was Cerberus’ lair, so that Hades could not resurrect the beast as some other demon.
Alkeides continued his hunt and when he grew too old to fight, he passed his skills onto his sons and later his daughters too.
His name was remembered by his followers and victims alike, even after it was long forgotten by the bards who sang of his tale. The story was told in many ways, until Alkeides was on a quest not of glory, but of redemption, and his bloodline was divine. The bards called him by a new name, Heracles.
Many generations later, the followers of Alkeides found themselves in Roma. Here they came to worship the goddess Diana, and with her blessing, took for themselves a new name, one that would eventually become synonymous with gladiatorial combat between man and beast.
They became Venators.