Tag Archives: island

Goddess of Old, Part V

Continued from Part IV.

The goddess stood knee-deep in the stormy sea, her flaming hair scorching the clouds. Below her, on the island, only the shepherd remained untouched. The town was gone, the steamship was gone, nothing but embers and scorched earth dotted the land. Nothing; not his people, nor their oppressors.

The shepherd walked down to the beach, along the paths where he ran as a care-free child, across the remains of fields where he once kept his flock, through the town in whose burnt-out husks he had shared happy memories with friends and family. “The goddess is not a saviour,” he realised too late. “She is the end of all things.”

“And yet,” he thought, looking up at the colossus he had summoned, “she does not touch me…”

A book was left untouched in the sand, dropped by the visitor with the largest hat. It was a book of scripture dedicated to the gods of a far-off land, that land of steam and arrogance and murder. The book was named for the king. The shepherd decided where to take his wrath.

While the goddess waded through the waters around the edge of the island, the shepherd built a boat, from what unburnt wood he could find. It took him two weeks, while his chthonic pet grew ever more restless, wandering further out to sea, skewering whales and chewing on their carcasses, dropping them on the beach for the shepherd to eat the scraps.

With the boat complete, he set sail. Together they went, man and his mistress.

To be continued…


Goddess of Old, Part IV

Continued from Part III.

The shepherd ran to the back of the cave and dragged the chest from its hiding place. He ripped open the lid, which screeched from years of rust, and lifted out the idol. He placed it on the small stone altar, surrounded it with candles from the chest, lit the candles and began to chant.

He knew the words, and he knew the rhythm. For generations, every mother had sung it into their cradles. Every father whistled it while chopping wood. This was the key to their people, the key to a lock that should never be opened. It was a vicious song, a warrior’s song, full of staccato and throaty rasps and blood-soaked curses. It poured from the shepherd’s mouth in a shower of spit, puddling on the altar and dripping its hate over the edges, spreading to the idol, which shook with anticipation.

Down on the beach, a flag was planted, and the visitor with the largest hat puffed out his chest and praised some deity with a set of principles not demonstrated by the invasion. He jumped as a screech filled the sky. The sea began to churn, and from it she rose up, a giant from the deep. Hair a pillar of fire that set alight every last tree, many arms stabbing their blades at every moving creature, piercing and slicing, bringing the remains to her mouth for sustenance, bones crunched by the teeth on her neck.

The goddess grew, the shepherd watched, and everything died.

To be continued…

Goddess of Old, Part III

Continued from Part II.

The shepherd reached the holy cave. At the mouth he surveyed the harbour town below. The buildings burned. Soldiers marched through the streets. More black boats were sprouting from the steamship and heading for shore.

The shepherd’s heart beat heavily, his knees shook at the sight of his town in flames. Now was not the time for weakness. Grief could be given audience later. Now, revenge. The shepherd turned and walked into the cave.

His advance was arrested by a priestess. She was the last representative of a once-venerated order. Dressed in full robes to impress severity upon visitors, she blocked the shepherd’s path towards the hiding place of the idol of the goddess.

The shepherd requested to see the idol. The priestess refused. He told her what was happening. She refused. He described in detail, tears welling up in his eyes, the suffering inflicted upon their people. Still, she refused. The price was too great, she said. He protested still. If no atrocity could warrant the ceremony, what use was the idol? Again, she refused.

He said she should at least watch the end of the people she betrayed. She nodded solemnly, and walked to the mouth of the cave. She saw the town, saw the fires, heard the screams on the wind. Then she saw darkness as the shepherd smacked a rock upon her skull, caught her falling body, and laid her gently on the ground, whispering apologies and repentance.

To be continued…

Goddess of Old, Part II

Continued from Part I.

As the speck drew closer it became an ugly, angular shape, belching out black smoke. Nothing like the gentle sails that pulled the islander’s boats. They had never seen such a vessel before.

Like those on other islands now conquered, they did not know this was a steamship from a far-away empire. Like many before them, they did not recognise the black spikes that studded the vessel’s hull. They quickly learnt that these were guns that could knock down the town’s walls from a distance, set fire to homes and murder children.

A group of the island’s strongest stood on the beach to meet the little boats that were vomited from the sides of that unexpected devil. The strongest were brave, but they were hunters used to running after prey, butchers who knew only the guts of small animals, and fishermen whose virtue lay in patience. They stood, they fought, they fell. The modern men came ashore.

Matching, brightly-coloured clothes, with gaudy baubles, spiked boots and long, metal rifles that spat fire. Shiny blades cut down all who did not submit. The meek and the mild-mannered were herded into lines, chains tightened around their necks.

An old shepherd, grey yet sprightly, watched these happenings from a field outside the town. He remembered the stories of crisis his grandfather had told him, and he remembered what to do. He turned away from the sorrowful sights by the shore, and headed for the cave in the centre of the island.

To be continued…

Goddess of Old, Part I

For uncounted hundreds of years, the inhabitants of the island had led a peaceful existence. They were descended from exploring warriors who had landed there in longboats, spears in hand, seeking conquest. Over time their vicious natures had faded, lulled by the calm sun, the cool sand and the delicate flora. Now they fished, traded nuts with their neighbours, and ran along the surf with sand between their toes.

The only remnant of their war-like nature lay, mostly forgotten, in a chest in a cave near the centre of the island. It was an idol, carved from a piece of heavy stone about the size of a man’s arm. The idol depicted a buxom huntress with many arms, each holding a blade, on which were impaled the unfortunates who dared cross her path. Her face was contorted in anger, her neck had its own teeth, her hair a blaze to burn transgressors.

This was their goddess. A goddess of anger, cruelty and vengeance. A goddess for a people hewn in unforgiving forests, beset by bellicose neighbours. A goddess of the past, no rôle in paradise, best left to sleep in the dark.

Once, all had shivered before the idol’s stare. Now jokes were made, with her as the punchline. But so ingrained were the stories, told by fathers to children, that the laughs were quiet and tinged with wariness.

One day, long after the last spears had rusted away, sleepy lives were interrupted. A dark speck appeared at the horizon, drawing nearer under a column of smoke.

To be continued…