Knowledge moves differently beneath the water. I should know. I’ve lived here for thousands of years. You should know something about me. I’m not your average god.
Unlike my brothers, I have thousands of folk in my keeping. Not many people live in Olympus (and no one lives in the underworld – that’s kind of the point), but the oceans? MY oceans?
My waters are home to thousands of creatures and they all have their stories. As ocean travelers migrate northwards they stop in at my swimup (on the Atlantis side) The Mermaid’s Tale for seabrew and fishsticks. They always bring me their news.
Like Ted, a sailor I know slightly, shuffling up to my pearlescent counter on the landfall side of the bar. This is where most of you mortals hang out. I eye the clock. He’s later than usual. Something fairly major must have kept him. There’s not much that keeps this guy from settling onto my bar stool just before closing. (In case you’re wondering, I never really close The Mermaid’s Tale. Immortals have no sense of time, but we don’t wish to spook you sensitive folk so I put out a sign every now and then – especially when I’m entertaining nymphs. Nymph are as shy as . . . well, nymphs.)
I remember when Ted used to look good. Young, fit and handsome as Apollo in mortal form. (Don’t smoke kids – and don’t chuck your tobacco butts in my direction. I WILL find you and return them, and you will know about it.) Now, Ted’s a grizzled old guy with a whitening ginger beard who coughs and spits a little blood before speaking.
Ted doesn’t know I’m a god of course. Just his barista in the morning and his bartender by night. He drinks dark rum; the cheap stuff. I hold my breath and pour out his shot. It’s not the fish smell – hell, that’s kind of a turn on. It’s the stale tobacco and the whiff of mortality. Shrugging, I glance at the fireplace. If my brother sends someone to escort old Ted across the Styx, that’s likely where the minion’ll appear. The fates of mortals are none of my concern, but I haven’t lived this long without knowing when to let a man speak.
“Something brewing, Ted?” I top up his shot, winking at his nod of appreciation.
He leans in. “I’ve somefin for yer,” he whispers, knocking back the rum. He replaces the drink in the exact same position. I replace the contents.
There’s little any man who sails my seas can offer me. What can they gather that I could not receive with one incoming wave? The sea is bountiful, and that bounty is mine. I command its largesse and the ocean will deliver what I ask. Still, I let old Ted ramble on.
With a smirk and a grunt, the old man indicates a large chest by his feet. “Pay my tab, this will.”
Seeing as the old guy isn’t going to move, I heft the crate onto the bar. It feels like driftwood, worn smooth and safe as rock from the seabed. At least, driftwood is safe in my hands. The wood glows a little at my touch. This could be because I am Olympian . . . or it could be something else. My beard tingles and the sound of rushing waves is loud, louder. I hold the waters at bay with a single thought.
Every muscle coils with tension and I withstand the urge to smite poor Ted. (I don’t; this would bring no end of trouble.) Something is in this chest, and it is something I will not like. The rusted lock is salt-soiled and crusted over with ancient corals. With the slightest effort, I wrench it open.
The object appears to be moonlight and diamond, but it is neither. It’s an orb, reflecting all light and glittering with a blinding whiteness. Old Ted has not the slightest idea what this enormous, shimmering gem might be. Perfectly round and about the size of those exercise balls my daughters are all so wild to play with, flexing tails all over the place. (They do not need to do yoga. Not at all. It’s ridiculous for a merwoman to even attempt it but will those kids listen? Teenaged deities are the absolute worst kind.)
I do my best to keep my face expressionless. It’s a struggle I lose. I’ve seen such jewels as this before; indeed they belong to me and no one else. A thousand questions explode behind my stoicism. How did this drunkard come to possess a gift of such magnificence? How did it come to be lost in the first place? Who would dare to take it – and what has become of my nymph to whom this means so much?
“Ma Dia!” (With apologies dear brother but this human ought not to trade in immortal contraband.) What lies within Ted’s chest is one of the largest pearls in all the three realms – and pearls as everyone knows, belong in the sea. They belong to ME.
“Aye, what do you say to that?” Ted’s grin is almost enough for me to call up the Kraken.
I look at the ageing seaman. How dare this man? Raising my arm, feeling that roaring in my ears again, I take aim. His bleary eyes widen; wait, what’s that? Distant thunder. Would my dear brother send his storms into my domain? No; it’s me. My temper is legendary and no jewels can pay Ted’s tab now. I lower my arm. The old man knows not what he has delivered me. He is a drunk and a failure but he is no thief.
I know to whom this pearl belongs and no mortal ought to have it. How I know the owner is not important; at least not to you, but she would not have given up her treasure easily. Not unless she had to.
So, who dares steal from the gods? This thief will not live long.
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