It’s been just over a week since I received my little letter from my former love. Y’all know it’s my own fault for thinking a lesser god such as he could ever be a respectable suitor for someone such as myself.
Now mind you, I don’t usually put myself up on such a high pedestal. I know I’m not the most beautiful, or the most powerful, or even the most skilled of my Olympian brethren. However, I am still the second born of Cronus and Rhea and I am an Olympian. Who does that little winged cyclone think he is?
I’ve had my little tantrum. I must say, when the cleaning crew made their way into my office, I could see the shock on their faces. My office is usually one of the easiest for them to put back together, but I did let my emotions get the better of me after I read the letter. I may have smashed a couple of wine decanters against the wall and there may have been a minor fire in the middle of my kitchen area, but all in all, it wasn’t that bad.
Now that I had regained my composure a bit, it was time to get back to work. I mindlessly rummaged through the piles of folders scattered about my desk. Nothing grabbed my attention. My thoughts were still a bit out of sorts, but I had to focus. I opened up my bottom drawer and there it was. The folder that reads “For Demeter’s Eyes Only”. I’d totally forgotten about this one.
It had been sealed, complete with a wax stamp. I can’t say that I immediately recognized the mark on the wax, but it did seem familiar. I wasn’t sure I wanted to break the seal until I knew a little more about the symbols. It was a unicorn that looked to be bowing to a woman whose hair hid her face. I had seen the unicorn symbol before and knew it was from an ancient tribe who lived far to the north. Of course, these days you see unicorns all around, but this was different. This depicted the majesty of the creature, not as some plaything parents gave their children.
However, it was the image of the woman whose face was hidden that caught my attention. There was something oddly familiar about her, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I had to hit the books. The old books. I had to go back into the days before…
I ran to my library with a vigor I hadn’t felt in some time. I grabbed three books from the shelves. Hesiod’s Theogony, naturally, as well as a well-worn copy of Homer’s Hymns to the Gods. The other manuscript isn’t one that most mortals have ever heard of before. It was a 6th-century copy of Symboles Divins des Dieux—Divine Symbols of the Gods. It was one of the last codexes to be copied by hand, of the world that was.
I flipped through the pages, not knowing what exactly I was looking for. It was a big book and that image could have been from any culture at any point in time. I had to focus. I had to reach into that book with my mind. I had to find just the right point in the historic records to find what I was looking for.
I steadied my breathing. I slowed my heart rate to a point where I could hear the metered beats in my ears. I sent my energies from my core to my fingertips. Within moments, I’d opened the book and there she was, the hidden woman and her unicorn. The only difference was the fact that in this depiction, the woman had long white hair and was standing before a silver unicorn.
The handwritten script that accompanied the image was faint but still legible. The lettering was beautifully detailed and written in an archaic form of early French. It said the image was the mark of a people who lived on a small island that sat between the shores of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. I knew that had to be the Isle of Man.
It went on to say that the unicorn was the symbol of the empires that ruled the larger realms, but they all bowed to her. The inhabitants of the island called her LaDona Blanca—The White Lady. Goddess of Death and Destruction. Kings and nobles traveled from all reaches of Britannia to pay her tribute, in hopes of surviving the harsh winters in the north and the heavy rains further south.
My curiosity had now gotten the better of me.
I ran back to the office and found the envelope. I looked at the wax seal one last time before I snapped it to open the parcel. Inside, I found a letter written on fine parchment, alongside several small pieces of leather and papyrus with ancient words written upon them. They were almost invisible to the untrained eye, but I could make them out. It would take me some time to decipher them, but that would wait until I’d read the other letter.
As I unfolded it, a coldness seemed to permeate the room. A strange numbness danced around my fingers as I held the letter. There was something sinister about this and I’d had just about enough of the weird stuff to last me another century or two.
Dearest Darling Demeter,
I do hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits. I know this isn’t exactly your favorite time of year, but it’s time to let the past live in the past. Besides, I believe you’ve been the victim of a vicious rumor over the millennia.
You’ll notice I’ve sent you several text fragments. These are just little things I’ve been picking up over the years. Some come from the other side of the world, others come right from your own backyard. I thought you might find them interesting.
I’ll not be expecting anything in return for these, but if you find them as informative as I think you will, I may know where to turn for a bit more.
Until next time,
I laid the letter down on the desk and began to examine the fragments. Many of them were very brittle and looked as though they would turn to dust at any moment. However, I’d been working with ancient works for a very long time and knew just how lightly to handle such materials.
I turned on my small desk lamp and grabbed a magnifying glass. Slowly I began to look over the pieces one by one. There was text in a wide array of ancient languages, so it took a bit for the information to hit me. My ancient Canaanite is a little rusty these days.
As I began to read through the tidbits of text, it became obvious that they were each related to a worldwide famine that wiped out a large portion of the human race. My heart sank, knowing that I was the one who had been held responsible for this atrocity. The truth is, I’ve believed it all these years myself.
Then I found one small piece, written on a piece of oxhide in ancient Hittite, that spoke volumes above the rest. Because of the sad state the piece was in, I was only able to read a few words. But they were enough. “…from the angered god whose heated breath lay waste to the last of the fields of wheat”.
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