Welcome back! This week we`ll continue the story of The Silver Box.
Libby, Ares, and the gang are the stars of my Gods & Goats trilogy. The word prompt this week is ‘Package’ so the story will reflect the prompt. As these are original stories written in a week, some errors may be found. I do apologize for those in advance.
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The Silver Box
There are caves and then there are caves. I`ve been in a few caves in my life. Matt and I had taken a day trip the first year we were married to Crystal Cave in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. It`s a gorgeous sight with all the stalactites and stalagmites, especially when you go through on the lantern tour like we did. But the glory of that cave in Pennsylvania did not compare to the sheer jaw-dropping grandeur of the sea nymph`s cave.
The walls were shimmering white rock magically illuminated from within. As you moved deeper inside the walls glowed with various rainbow shades. It was then that I realized that the entire massive cavern was crafted from mother of pearl. The touch of Poseidon was evident in this grotto, and why not? Probably his wife, Amphitrite, lounged here with the other nymphs. It would have to be worthy of a sea queen, would it not?
Harmonia crossed the ivory sand with purposeful steps. I was too gobsmacked to be resolute. I just stumbled along gawking like a kid in Willie Wonka`s candy factory. I had stepped to the edge of the dark blue pool when my partner in questing blew upon a large conch shell. I nearly came out of my skin.
“Warn a person before you go tooting your horn next time!” I gasped, heart thundering violently.
“My apologies, “the goddess blushed, placing the pink shell back on the jutting rock where it had hung.
“This place is amazing,” I said, crouching down to run my fingers over the water`s surface. “I recall reading that Achilles would visit his mother Thetis often. Do you think he came to this cave?”
“Nay, I think not,” Harmonia replied thoughtfully, “She would have gone to him wherever he was. Achilles is only half-god, so `twould be easier for her to journey to her son.”
“Good point,” I rose slowly, warm salty water dripping from my fingers. I walked over to sit on a long marble chaise, one of several that were placed near the sea. I drew in a deep breath of brine and wet sand. I could easily picture a slew of sea nymphs lounging here, brushing their hair and sharing tales of how easy mortal men are to befuddle and bewitch. A large splash tugged me from my daydreaming. I slid from the stone chaise to my knees. I didn`t have to ask if this were the queen of the seas, it was obvious in the way she rose from the depths.
The sea god had chosen well. Amphitrite was a lovely woman with dark hair to her waist, skin as pale as abalone, and eyes a deep, vibrant blue-green. She stepped from the waves wrapped in a gossamer chiton of palest green. Harmonia dropped to one knee, her chin on her chest. I quickly averted my eyes when her gaze moved to me.
“Rise consort and daughter of the war god,” she bid, her voice lilting and musical. I pushed to my feet just as Harmonia did. In the lagoon were many nymphs swimming cautiously in the dark water. Each one was beautiful and alluring as they sliced through the calm sea. “What brings you to our cavern?”
Harmonia had been chosen to speak. For some reason the gods didn`t quite seem to get me at times. I didn`t need to rile old Posie`s bride like I do Athena all the time. That I haven`t been smote by the goddess of wisdom is a pure miracle.
“Greetings Aunt, I am honored that `twas you that arrived to greet us. We come seeking a silver box that once belonged to golden-throned Hera, my grandmother. It was used by the gods to hold many evils and bestowed to Pandora.”
“Yes,” the queen of the sea said, studying me closely as she spoke, “I have heard the tale. Why do you come to us?” Amphitrite asked, waving a thin arm wrapped from wrist to elbow in pearls at the nymphs.
Splashes and sighs bounced off the mother-of-pearl walls. The sea sprites were bored it seemed.
“We believe that an Amazon may have given the box to one of your nymphs to secure passage to Troy,” Harmonia explained. “Perhaps it was given in payment, or as part of a larger package.”
Amphitrite`s delicate eyebrows puckered. “Which of mine do you think would have this package you seek?”
“We do not know, dear Aunt,” Harmonia replied with sadness.”We have been through many trials. As you can see my father`s consort is ragged and rumpled.”
I glanced down at myself. Okay, I was rather ragged but rumpled?! Damn goddesses with their magical waterproof makeup.
“She does seem rather abused,” the queen murmured, folding her arms over her ample breasts.
“Thank you for noticing,” I muttered under my breath. Harmonia hissed. The queen smiled and patted my head like I was an entertaining sea lion. Pity I didn`t have a ball to balance on my nose. Immortals, I tell you.
“You are most welcome.” She turned from us to summon the blasé nymphs to the water`s edge. Harmonia and I crept up to where the waves were gently lapping the sand.
The queen spoke to her attendants in Greek. I tried to follow things but my few scant words of Greek – Deeper, Slower, and Faster – weren`t much help here. Oh stop! If you had Ares in your bed you`d learn those words too.
“They tell me that the box you seek is in my husband`s sanctuary.”
“Please don`t say it`s at the bottom of the sea. I don`t have any gillyweed.”
The queen looked at me in befuddlement.
“No, Libby, Poseidon’s sanctuary is upon the cape of Sounion in Attica,” Harmonia explained.
“Oh well than, that`s do-able! We`ll just jump back on the fire-snorter, fly to the cape of Sounion and fetch the box!” I was getting excited now. The nymphs were staring at me openly as was the bride of the sea god.
“`Twould be an easy task if not for the guardian of the temple,” Harmonia sighed, shoving her helm back over her thick brown hair.
“Is there some law among you folks with golden blood that states every damned building has to be guarded by something nasty?! I mean, just once, can`t someone have a temple surrounded by butterflies or kittens?! Man, this is just so typically Greek!” I railed, stalking out of the cavern in a high holy snit.
I was nearly up to Fear when Harmonia appeared at my side. I threw her a heated look.
“I made apologies to my aunt for your rude behavior,” she said, her emerald eyes narrowed. “`Tis not the way of mortals to simply walk off without being dismissed, Libby. Surely father has explained that to you!”
“You father knows better than to even think he can dismiss me!” I spun around and shook a finger in her face. The dear thing actually drew back a step. My hand fell to my side. “I`m sorry,” I tugged her in for a hug. “I`m just tired and hungry and I want to get home and celebrate Thanksgiving. Is it too late? Did we miss it? I don`t know! I`m too busy bouncing around on a flatulent nag trying to find some stupid chest for your stupid-”
Harmonia kissed my cheek. Tranquility flowed from her lips to me. My spinal cord grew soft and pliable. The world was beautiful and this quest was beautiful. Even Fear was beautiful! I ran over to the horse to throw my arms around his thick white neck. Harmonia stopped me right before the nag kicked out with enough force to send a goatherder flying to Maine.
“Let us leave, Libby,” Harmonia said, lifting me onto the horse with ease. I lay across his back and sang the theme song from Spirit to him. His white ears flickered. “Before you do something foolish,” she added as the horse whispering continued.
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See you next week for more of The Silver Box!