Lithning awoke with a start. There was an unfamiliar rumbling above.
He stretched and clambered out of his borrow and began to make his way down the tunnel. He was surprised when it made a sudden t-junction into a smooth tunnel lined with some sort of white stone, yet it wasn’t masonry rather a smooth uniform surface. He continued to explore and before long he came to the mouth of the tunnel. It was covered with a metal grating.
From his vantage-point he could see odd structures which were far taller than the single storey structures he remembered humans constructing. As he watched, he noted lights suddenly coming on in side the dwellings and then going out just as swiftly as people wandered through the enclosures.
He noted one woman wander into a space where she opened some sort of cabinet from which she took a receptacle and began to drink. She then returned the container and left as the light went out.
How long has it been, the cyclops mused. This doesn’t look anything like the island I remember.
Charon’s daughter sat waiting for her father’s boat to return. Until it did, she sat patiently on the pier holding a lantern to show the arriving passengers the way. It wasn’t the career she had hoped for. After all, she had great legs and had always wanted to be a model. But it was the family business, and she had been convinced to stay on at least till she got her break. She had really loved her gap year, two years ago. She had seen loads of places she could have only dreamed of back here on the Styx. The longer she sat the more she regretted giving in to her mother’s pleas to stay. Finally, as the ferry came back into view, she decided to tell her dad she had had enough. When he got to her side, she would let him know that she was heading back to Milan at the end of the week. If this job had taught her anything, it was that life’s too short to waste.
The Beauty Of her face Filled men’ hearts with Passion and desire An epic war was fought For her love and her favour Paris wooed Helen from her throne Menelaus jilted sought revenge A thousand ships set sail, bringing Troy’s end
It might be cliche, but Arandia saw no rhyme or reason to the Goddess‘ oracle pronouncement. The message lacked the usual poetic style, and it was in no way cryptic, as was the Goddess’ custom.
For six years, Arandia had served the temple as a Keeper of the Doorway, as her mother had served before her. Thus was the thread of life that wove together the Keeper Clan. A keeper would begin her duties at twenty, and then leave at thirty to marry and raise the next generation of Keepers.
At twenty-six it was odd for Arandia to be sent on a mission so far from the holy site. Such tasks usually fell upon Keepers in their twenty-ninth year, before ending their service at the gates.
But the Goddess had called her by name for the task. She was to go to the Shrine of Eskalese and bring back three chalices full of water from the pool there. No one from the Goddess’ temple had been sent there in living memory, and the link between the temple and the shrine were tenuous. There was, of course, the ancient legend that the Goddess once had a relationship with the hero, Eskalese but the details were shrouded in time.
As Arandia approached the shrine she was surprised to find it overgrown and in disrepair. She nonetheless continued up the weedy path towards the shrine and the pool within.
The pool was covered with thick algae and pond weed, and had a foul stagnant smell to it. Arandia took out the stone jar and silver chalice from her haversack and took a deep breath before using the lip of the chalice to clear away the algae. As she did, she was startled by the sound of movement behind her.
Glancing behind her she saw a woman, the exact likeness of the statues of the Goddess at the temple, tied to a stake and being loomed over by a serpent-headed figure.
Arandia bolted towards the assailant and bludgeoned the fiend over the head with the stone jar. After several blows, the creature collapsed to the ground and then seemed to dissolve into the soil.
“Well done, Daughter,” the woman said in a clear hypnotic voice. The woman was now standing unbound before Arandia and radiating a warm glow. “You have proven your worthiness, Daughter,” the Goddess said. “Come,” the deity said, pointing the way to the pool.
Arandia followed with a mix of reverent excitement and fear. The Goddess leaned over the foul pool, and taking Arandia’s hand, she pricked the Keeper’s finger with her nail and a drop of blood fell into the pool. It worked as some sort of catalyst, for no sooner had the drop fell into the waters that they became clear, and the entire shrine seemed to be renewed.
It was then that Arandia saw her reflection and that of the Goddess in the pool. She was taken aback by how similar they were.
“Long ago,” the Goddess began. “I was in love with the human Eskalese. Our love was not approved of by my mother, and she banned me from seeing him again. In sorrow, I gave to him his legendary powers as a warrior, and he unknowingly left me with a child. She grew to be the first of the Keeper’s and my half mortal children have stood by me and served me ever since. But I saw in you something special, something divine. Drink from the pool, and join me, Daughter, claim your birth right.”
Arandia dipped the silver chalice into the clear waters, and then drank deeply, savoring the sweet taste of her transformation.
Manny King was a top mechanic and the most good ol’ of all the local good ol’ boys. He had been the captain of the high school football team, and held the local record for how many beers he could chug down in three minutes. Ever since their sophomore year he had dated Helen, the head cheerleader and homecoming queen.
Two weeks ago however when she was waitressing at Big Red’s Truck Stop, things had all gone wrong. Some college fella, called Troy, or some such, stopped in, driving his BMW and flashing around money and a perfect smile. Worse still, he openly flirted with Helen, and she reciprocated. At the end of her shift, Helen left her apron and Manny’s class ring with Big Red and took off to the city with flashy frat boy.
When Manny finished at the garage he went to pick up Helen, only to be told what had transpired. He was furious, but didn’t know what to do. He therefore went to see, his older brother, Aggie for advice. Aggie knew exactly what to do. He rounded up all the good ol’ boys, and a convoy of over a hundred pick-up trucks headed towards the city to retrieve Helen.
You might say Helen was the face that launched a thousand Hicks.
Silvanus couldn’t believe his luck. The human with the chainsaw didn’t cut him in half as had happened with his Aunty Drynia. No this guy fancied himself to be some sort of Michelangelo, freeing the spirit of what was within, not just chopping and cutting aimlessly.
So there Silvanus was, exposed to the light of day, and the cruel dryness of the air. It was not only a frightening experience but painful as well. He could barely breathe this thing dry stuff. Where was the moist sap which had normally sustained him. he was a Dryad out of water, well sap anyway. There was only one thing to do. Silvanus donned a mask and snorkel and channeled all of the sap he could into a tank. He then set out to explore this strange wide-open world in which he found himself.