Sep. 9th, 2012

Round 2

Sep. 9th, 2012 07:50 pm
lovethighholsters: (Default)
This was my entry to the Eri<3Sol Team for HSO Round 2 (prompt: Supernatural). It's not a complete story since there was a word limit and I had a broad idea. So consider this one of those long multi-chaptered stories that never get past the first chapter XD



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The interior of the vessel is in much better condition than the outside, which has large scrapes and panels missing. The mast is gone along with part of the deck surrounding it. You’ve set the sailor down on his modest cot; the blankets soaked with sea water cling to the chilled corpse. Two gold coins, a piece for each eye, are left to bribe the Underworld’s ferryman. You hesitate to call the thin body in the hull of this broken ship a ‘man’ or ‘sailor’ as he has yet to grow out his beard. The humans on that strip of land in the distance like to groom and grow facial hair for some unknown reason. Maybe just for the sake that it’s there? Either way, he’ll never get a chance to grow one at this rate, since he’s… ya know, dead.


You feel a bit guilty for luring him to the rocky coast of your isle. It’s not like you eat any of the people that wreck on the rocks! That’s just a barbaric smudge to your name, meant to scare sailors away from your islands. It’s working because no one sails through this part of the Tyrrhenian Sea anymore for fear of ‘a siren on the off-shore isle who eats the hearts of men’. Ew, the marine life and poultry on the big island will suffice, thank you very much.


You don’t understand mortals and their made-up fables well; their history, however, is your favorite subject. They fight and quarrel and kill each other in splendid military conquests, each preserved in wonderful detail inside your library of scrolls and tablets. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to the outside world.


When you saw the ship impale itself on the rocks you grabbed an amphora of oil. The clear liquid swishes around inside as you carefully drip some onto the man’s forehead and chin. It’s more of a personal practice than standard burial procedure. The oil tells the Queen of the Underworld, Aradia, that he is one your ‘fatalities’. She’ll make sure to take care of him.


You murmur a small apology to the man before beginning to rummage through the small hull for articles to add to your library or treasury. You don’t have much hope for finding riches on this tiny skimmer. It had only one main sail and barely enough room to fit a cot inside. You managed to get his boat onto land, which was a stunning feat of divine superiority. (And had nothing to do with the fact that you’re no longer just an earth spirit, you have bits of water and air mixed in now.)


It comes in handy though, being able to fly or swim and sometimes control the water as you please. Of course, you are limited to about four stadia away from any of your three islands because if you go any further you get horrifically sick. And now there’s no one to hold you or comb your hair back or talk with you till the nausea passes.


You’re stuck on this tiny cluster of islands, in forced isolation because whenever any boat comes close you can’t resist the urge to shout out to them. In truth, your ‘siren song’ is less flowery words and more of a tug on the souls that pass your isle. It’s demeaning and not fit for someone of your prestigious lineage… but there’s no one here to see your shame. There is only the expanse of the sea with the distant mainland mocking you on the horizon. You’re terribly alone on this isle and it’s slowly suffocating you.


It wears you down and gets into your bones till there’s no motivation for anything.


That very feeling encompasses you now as you peer into barrels and piles of shattered pottery. You were once like royalty, a demi-god of sorts, and now you’re nothing better than a highwayman with an abnormally long lifespan. You hurl the amphora in a fit of wrath, lashing out at the battered ship hull. With a snarl you abandon the worthless piles of cloth and wood, your form seething as you spread your arms and hands wide. Watery wings form and you fly out through the large gash in the deck above you.


You try not to think of the sailor inside the remains of his vessel for 7 days.


By the 8th moonrise you go back to set the beached shipwreck aflame. You perch on a rocky spire looking inland to where the flames fan into a giant blaze. The glow casts this side of the small island a bright orange-yellow; the sea is dark and ominous outside the ring of light. The heat cannot reach your perch. You stand, back ramrod and militaristic, like the painted conquerors on your vases.


“Gods above, I never expected to get a funeral pyre. What, you couldn’t just bury me like any other downtrodden moron? Seriously, I’m well beyond the city gates, or is digging a hole too difficult for your bird brain?”


Great. You’re going insane. It took longer than expected, but you’ve finally been secluded for so long that your mind decided to conjure an imaginary friend. You still have enough decency to resist waving your hands around to ‘dispel’ the voice like an idiot. There’s at least that you suppose. You hunch your shoulders, trying to weather the voice like you would a cold wind.


“… Wow, really? Everyone’s dying and I travel across three seas for some back-water monster to ignore me? Screw you.”


“Rude! You should be prostratin on the ground for evven botherin wwith your corpse. Get lost an movve on before you get stuck here.” You’re glancing around by now, subtlety of course, because you don’t have a lot of experience with the realm of the dead… but you think you’re talking to the spirit of the young man in the burning vessel. You revoke all previous guilty sentiments towards this churl.


“Way to disrespect the dead, I don’t have a body to ‘prostrate’ Your Grand Ignoramus.” The irate spirit must be moving around because the source of the noise shifts irregularly. You don’t know where to glare; this man is just plan inconsiderate for not managing SOME kind of corporeal form for you to scowl at properly. Hopefully he’s bound to the section of the island he died at, you can’t handle his nagging voice for much longer. You spread your arms wide, shifting your shape for flight.


“So you really do have wings… why don’t you make yourself useful and fly your soggy ass over to the mainland.” He’s loud and right next to your left ear, startling (not scaring!) you into a tumult off the rock and towards the sea. Falling and flying as second nature though, and you begin to ascend once more. You can hear the snickering getting closer to you from the starboard side. He keeps pace with you as an updraft near the burning hull lifts you higher.


“Heheheheh, fly much?”


You bear your needle teeth in his direction and hiss out, “Wwe could alwways see howw wwell your flamin corpse flies.” You’d rather not wrangle with a corpse more than you have already. Besides, that’s more the harpies’ shtick and it’s not refined enough for you. But the dead sailor doesn’t need to know that.


“Didn’t mean to get off on the wrong foot. Or talon? Sheesh, here I am being considerate: Name’s Sollux Captor, blind prophet in training. I’m here to be your guide, blah blah. Nice to meet you, okay?” You’re glad there isn’t much distance between your islands because you have a sinking feeling about this disembodied voice. But guide generally implies leading… which means traveling? But humans are deceitful, especially for their own ends. You concentrate on the largest island ahead where your domain rests. You’re almost there; you can make out the jutting crags and the 3 masts.


“Uh huh. Your name means ‘sunlight’ in your language, right? Or do you prefer ‘sunshine’ to match your personality? A giant fiery eyesore. And wwhat wwonderful quest are you, a deceased mortal wwith no affect on my current situation, going to lead me on?” When in doubt condescension is always a wonderful fallback. You’re sure the Empress of Land and Sea would applaud your word-smithing right there. Or impale you. It’s fifty-fifty with her.


Sol laughs outright at you, “Oh, cut the ‘diviner than thou’ crap. You’re stuck on this isle for eternity without my help. Besides, you sounded desperate to get out of this ‘wwretched hell’ when you were singing to me.” There goes your pride and concentration, down they go. You follow them down into the dark water to hide your embarrassment. The inky waves are inviting and cool the heated flesh of your face.


Oh HELL, you hadn’t even thought about the fact that he’d remember your ‘singing’. At times like this you wish you could drown. Instead the wings wither away into transparency and gills protrude from your once downy chest. It’s uncomfortable and the rush of cold water at the bottom of the sea makes you curl up. Fragments of wooden decking and sodden sails coat the bottom of the sea floor. You’ve been meaning to dredge it all out but the aquatic life has claimed the older pieces as home.


When he speaks again it’s like his mood has changed entirely. He sounds... tentative.


“Not used to compliments? Or is it your victims chatting with you over choral arrangements?” You should’ve known he’d follow you underwater. With a sigh you sluggishly roll over in the water, swimming toward the rocky shore. The world is beautiful underwater at night; everything is dark except the surface that glows an eerie pale blue. You’re both silent for a long time till the sea bed arches up into shallows.


“There’s no point in makin’ me feel guilty for somethin’ I can’t control. You shouldn’t havve been sailin’ around here, wwhat wwith all the wwarnin’ tales about me an all. It’s your owwn fault, just accept that an movve on to the next life or somethin’.” You try not to grimace as you swim on through the shallows. The surf near the base of your shipwreck abode is treacherous for mortals, but the water is no enemy to you. It cradles and propels you forward with each cycle and wave crash. You can hear him hum next to your side as the water lifts you up past the rocky cliffs.


“So it’s true, huh? You’re cursed by the Empress of the Earth and Se- you live in a shipwreck? Seriously? With all of the people you drowned and ships you crashed? Doesn’t that make you the least bit uncomfortable?” He sounds more incredulous than disgusted but it makes you shift awkwardly over the bulwark. You haven’t really thought about it too much after 5 or so centuries…


“Stropha or ‘The Gambit’ wwas supposed to be some sort a trade for safe passage durin’ the consuls Regulus an Manilus. She had no one mannin’ her an drifted to me about a moon cycle before a large fleet of Romans sailed by the isle. I nearly ran out of urns an oil that day… But she’s a marvvelous ship and I changed the rowwin’ galleries into rooms.”


You hurry across the deck to the entrance to the lower levels, heading to what you’ve deemed as your room. Every now and then Sol would make a small noise or comment on decorations. It’s probably just to let you know he’s still there but his judgments weigh heavily on you. His opinion shouldn’t matter but you fling armfuls of your more juvenile belongings into hatches and chests. Hours are spent tidying up and finely honing your quarters into that befitting a demi-god.


“… did I offend you or something?” he sounds almost regretful as you scoop up piles of batting and wool. You tried to make pillows once to pass the time but you got frustrated and just made a nest of fabric.


“It takes a lot more than a couple of wwitty remarks to offend me, Sol. There’s just… no point in daydreamin’ about leavin’ the isle. I’m bound to these islands and I’ll probably die if I’m taken from them. An if I don’t… wwell then, empires wwill fall.” A piece of smooth cloth finds its way between your clawed hands. It gets wringed and stretched out while you frown at it. You sit down amongst the remains of your pile and Sol huffs in front of you.


“Care for an explanation, or are you going to continue ripping that poor swatch into shreds?” If you close your eyes you can imagine him sitting in front of you, peering over the mess you’ve made. You exhale sharply and fiddle with the frayed fabric with one hand. The other rises to where his voice emanates from, fingers spreading to show off the length of your claws.


“I’vve changed. Even if you managed to get me awway from here I’d kill evveryone wwithin range. I have to, it’s my duty to kill any mortal who crosses my path.” Sol must not have anything to say to your admission because the room, the boat, HELL your whole fucking world is silent. Just like it always is. Nervous energy courses through you and makes you shift and squirm in the mounds of batting. You’re exhausted and even though you don’t need to sleep you just want to give up. But you can’t lose face; you can’t be disgraced like that.


“You are an ignorant wwretch. You not only lack a body but any resurrections wwill just lead to me killin you again. I can’t leave the isle, the gods won’t allow it. They’ll find a Perseus or Hercules to cut me down. There’s no magic fix for this situation, so shovve off and leave me alone.” You get up and abandon the lower levels of the ‘Stropha’. Outside a westerly wind sweeps across the shrouding and through your hair. The deck of the ship is worn with age and you trace claw marks in the bulwarks to where the shrouds are tacked down.


You straighten your posture, slick back your hair, and search the horizon for ships. The sun will be up soon and the fisherman should have left the mainland by now. They don’t usually come out this far but the trading vessels headed across the sea do. Anyone of them could cross within your territory.


You’re pulled away from your search by the sigh behind you. You don’t turn, you close your eyes and imagine sound turning into a sense of touch. The breath brushing over your ear. The thin body behind you. The cheek of a boy that hasn’t grown a beard yet. Everything is wrong and fake and horrid. You want the wind to turn to ice, to freeze you in place: stony faced, pitiless to the mortals, the epitome of what a demigod should be. It’s hollow in the looming shadow of a war that has finally reached your doorstep. It doesn’t even bother knocking; it tosses you a spear and shield and motions forth.


You don’t really get a chance to ponder what your role will be, Sol’s speaking to you. He’s barely audible over the wind.


“… you never told me your name. Will you tell me it? Or should I spend the rest of forever referring to you as ‘that amphora throwing siren with the curly head of hair and unnaturally hairless extremities. Who also jumps off rocks or dives underwater to get away from ghosts.’ It’s a really long pseudo-name to be throwing out left and right.” You can tell he’s moving; his voice drifts past your ear until it’s coming from in front of you.


“Needs a bit of ‘And tries really hard to hide his smile’ don’t you think?”


Your cheek muscles hurt from trying to smile around your teeth. They’re thin but large and numerous so it stretches your lips real thin trying to get it look right. “I’ll let you call me Eridan if, and only if, you tell me about the places you’ve been. And there better be details!”




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You spend two hours listening to him talk about his port home of Ostia, of conning the rich out of their money so he could travel to Greece for his education. Even as you get up to collect the burial wine and urn he talks on and on; an endless chatter in your ear as you fly through the night to the burnt remains of the ship. You sprinkle wine and collect ash to the descriptions of the Archway of Scipio Africanus.


When he mentions a name you recognize you add your own stories, mostly historical accounts of battles and such. Sometimes he knows the story already, other times you’re overjoyed to give a detailed retelling. Night comes and neither of you need to sleep so your discussions continue onwards to planning how to turn you back to a demi-god. Or in the worst case, mute you.


You both head back home with the urn and empty wine amphora. You place Sol’s urn alongside the hundreds of others on the bottom-most gallery of your home. It’s soundless without him speaking and you worry he went to the Underworld. The stillness is broken by him asking you if anyone famous ever crashed here.


You’ll cherish this lapse in silence for as long as it lasts. Every conversation and quirk and memory is inked onto your bones. Unlike the scrolls or tablets, it will not fade with time. You won’t let it now that it’s yours. You want to be proud of what you have accomplished, to have your stories told for centuries to come. You want Sol to be in them.



-END-

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lovethighholsters

September 2012

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