On the Shores of Paphos

Submitted by Georgia Thomas to Contest #4 in response to: Write a story based on the song title: "Beside The Sea"... view prompt

Back when the world was new, before Gods and Titans assumed their thrones, the earth was a dark and primal place. The Earth and Sky wandered freely in whatever forms they chose, and ruled their domains with iron fists. Titans were born of these two great powers, and exceeded their parents in cruelty and greed. The eldest coveted his father’s power and waged on him a most abominable and unnatural war. When father and son met in battle, the Sky’s blood was shed and rained down upon the Sea. In his pain and anger, the Father of all creation set loose a deafening roar that tore the sky in two, filling every atom of the earth with an unfathomable torrent of immortal rage. The earth shook and the animals cowered in fear, unable to hide from the vicious malevolence that smothered the planet like a shroud. 

After this blow was struck, all the wickedness in nature was drawn out into the harsh light by the savagery of its master. Every trace of beauty and tranquility was erased, not only from the face of the earth but from the deepest recesses of its heart. Everywhere was rage and hostility: soft grassy hills became jagged, threatening mountains; babbling books turned to fierce rapids; wispy clouds to thunderstorms. 

The world was truly a terrible thing to behold.

Amongst this seething wretchedness stood a witness to the horrors. A lone phantom, watching from the cliffs of Paphos. Black robes snapped in the wind as smoky clouds swirled overhead, blotting the sun from view and casting the scene in a dismal, dirty light. Our phantom watched as the world was plunged into that damnation by the falling of holy blood. He felt the waves of anger and hatred wash through him as they spread across the earth. He shook with the eruption that spurred the sea and sky to violence. He stood watch even as his own heart blackened and withered within him.

Yet a shred of spirit remained, sustained by his belief that a glorious saviour would come to end the tyranny and torment. So powerful was this belief that it bore him up stoically through endless, looping hours of unspeakable suffering. Although unaware that his saviour would in fact come to him, he set his spectral eyes on the ocean below, and waited.

Off the shores of Paphos the sea rolled and crashed as if devouring itself. Ripples had sprung out from the point at which the blood mingled with the sea, and did not stop until the waves crashed against the cliffs with such force that they threatened to tear down the earth on which the phantom stood. Boulders tumbled into the depths with deafening thunder. The waves, black as the abyss, waged war with the dirty white foam they tossed up. As he looked on, the white ocean-spray overwhelmed its opponent, shedding its murky filth as it grew in volume. 

Amongst the tumult of foam and water the phantom could see a solid form growing. It began as a small, brilliant orb, faintly illuminating the grimy darkness that enveloped it. Slowly, but surely, it grew. 

The phantom watched on, unmoving, as the misery that surrounded him pressed ever closer and denser and more impenetrable. But this small beacon of light did begin to penetrate the oppressive darkness. Wherever the light touched, the burden of the Father’s fury was lessened until the whole cove of Paphos regained something of its old vitality. 

As the shining object rose from the now pearlescent foam, a blue tranquility fell over the scene and every living thing in it.

There, floating upon the gently glittering waves, rested an open shell of the purest silver, bearing, upon its cushion of blushing pink, the most exquisite woman.

From the shore, I felt the power of her divine radiance as she emerged. My phantom spirit was restored and heart mended as the thunder quietened, the waves stilled, and the moon appeared from behind the clouds. 

She evoked the gentlest natures from the most riotous of spirits that looked upon her and calmed all the elements of nature itself. So quickly as the terrible thunder of the sky had crushed all that was good out of this earth, so quickly did Her presence bring it all rushing back. Flowers bloomed in the moonlight and birds sang for joy to feel her presence in the world.

With the lightest step that bent the laws of the earth to her most beautiful whims, her pale feet bore themselves softly to the ground before me. And it was there, on the rocks of Paphos overlooking the glistening, moonlit sea, that I first met the goddess Aphrodite.

Her power and purpose emanated from her very being so that I knew at once who she was and who she would become. She was the young goddess who would go on to rule the heavens and earth beside her siblings, using her gifts to better the world over which they would preside. Only by Her influence would humanity be redeemed from its violent and chaotic nature, for she would bear love in all its forms unto the world and be mother to Harmony. Her image would instil peace in the hearts of war-like men and inspire them to noble deeds. In both face and spirit she was already and would forever be the most beautiful amongst gods and mortals.

This great destiny shone out from her very core. Standing before me, clothed in an iridescent gown with flowers woven in her hair and blossoming at her feet, she was the pure embodiment of light and love that was needed to bring balance to the hatred which then ruled the earth. 

So awed as I was by her presence, I fell to my knees in the soft grass before her. Her gentle hand touched my shoulder and raised me up as if into a new life.

She said nothing, but took my hand and smiled, and the world was made right.

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