Hmm, this picture is what looks like it could be a narrow path of a bridge leading over what looks like mist on the water, only it reflects the sky. The water stretches out in the distance, opaque and gray.
I used it to write Troubled Thetis, a freebie story about my own interpretation of the mythical goodess/sea nymph. This character plays a major part in my m/m mythical Work in Progress, Aissa and Polyxena.
The ocean had disappeared, melting into cloud. Nothing to buoy mortals upwards from the sharp rocks waiting below.
It was only the sea reflecting the sky.
Once Thetis would have smiled at Zeus’s vanity. The earth and the ocean simply had to reflect his majesty.
It was difficult for Thetis to smile at anything. Not anymore.
She stood in her goddess form, flesh and blood as any mortal, yet with every detail perfected. Nor did it have to remain the same. Sometimes, her hair was a pale blonde with a bluish tinge. At others, it was thick and ebon.
Thetis preferred to turn her tresses into something fine and mossy, a mixture of human hair and green seaweed.
Right now, each lock was faded, limp and opaque. Each strand reflected the bleakness beyond the luminescent waters lapping the rocks.
Thetis might be a mere sea nymph compared to some of the mighty forces which moved the oceans, but the seas still reflected her moods, her troubles.
Only the waiting sea wasn’t truly a sea. It was an illusion, reflected back from her mind.
She glanced down at the shoal path beneath her feet. It looked more treacherous than it truly was.
How easy it would be to step upon its smooth hardness, to follow the pale shoals through the mist. To approach the river which led to the lands of the dead.
The River Styx.
Thetis lifted her arms to examine them. Human fear prickled at her flesh, chilling it.
Once she’d followed this bath, laden with her infant son. Achille hadn’t cried, not even once. Not when she mounted the rocks, jostling him in his swaddling, while she scrabbled for footing.
She’d swayed on her feet, but Thetis had been determined. Determined to carry her precious cargo to his ultimate destination.
The River Styx. By making the journey there once, her son would never have to make it there again.
Achille had been strangely silent and solemn as mother and child made their way through the fog. The lapping sound of the waters, hungry mouths sucking the life out of further shore didn’t disturb him. Nor did the whisper of the dead on those shores, lured by the presence of fresh, mortal life.
Only when Thetis dipped her babe into the murky waters of the river did he react.
Achille giggled and kicked up his foot.
Thetis struggled to submerge her child, to let him absorb the immortality the Styx was ready to be imbue him with.
“Don’t resist,” she’d whispered.
Only Achille had resisted. He squirmed and fought, keeping part of his ankle above the water.
Perhaps her son had wanted that one mortal weakness, that vulnerable spot where Death could touch him.
Achille had certainly flirted with Death all of his life.
Hunting wild animals as a small child, when he was supposed to be learning gentler arts at Cheiron’s knee. Seeking out every battle, every possible challenge.
Sometimes it seemed like Achille courted Death with a boldness boys seldom dared with any lover. Only Achille would dare anything.
He was Achille, after all. Her beautiful boy.
“Perhaps you’re determined to take this path.” Thetis dropped her hands from her chilled flesh. “I can’t help wishing with all my heart to turn you away from it.”
Perhaps it wasn’t a mother’s place to turn her son from that path. Perhaps something else had to distract him, catch his eye, drawing him away from the shoal road.
Something or someone.
Note from the Author: It was really tempting to write about the Shadow Forest, This prompt was pefect for it. Thetis called out from my imagination, demanding my attention, my time. Too long had I lingered among the shadows. It was time for me to return to a universe and characters I’d long neglected.