Galene and the Ondine Child

Submitted into Contest #102 in response to: Start your story with a metaphor about human nature.... view prompt


Speculative Drama Fantasy

She viewed the streets from her window. Another storm swept Lyon. Ironic since her life had turned into a storm. She would have to move away from her beloved France to England. In just a few hours, Marie Catherine and her mother would be leaving under cover of darkness. Her life was being swallowed up in clouds of controversy, jealousy, and betrayal, just as Lyon was engulfed in a black sky. Pen in hand, she sat down at her desk and began writing.


Storms raged the night Cordelia died. Cordelia, a water nymph, married a human for love. As long as he remained faithful, her life was not in danger. However, if he turned to another woman, she would die. In the end, she did die, just as if a knife had gone through her heart. A newborn, half-human, half-Ondine baby has been left behind.  

It was no secret that the mother of the child was a nymph at one time. Either out of superstition or esteem for the lovely Cordelia, the people of the baby’s village left her where she could be rescued by the river god Amnisos. 


The god Nereus and Doris, his wife, watched through the Nereus glass as their 50 daughters fanned out across the Aegean. Word of the abandoned Ondine child had reached them. They needed to guarantee that no one, human or otherwise, would try to harm the infant. Superstition and jealousy were a part of life in and around the sea. 

Doris was an Oceanid, a sea nymph, and mother to the Nereides. Had always been a respected goddess in her own right. To her, the idea that a human male would destroy his marriage knowing that it would kill his wife, then reject his own child, was detestable. She could feel the anger rising up in her blood. Nereus gently touched her shoulder. 

“Do what you need to do to protect the child,” he said quietly.  

“I will seek advice from Persephone,” she replied. 

With that she left their undersea home to find Persephone at the surface.  


As Persephone inspected the fields, the nymphs of the trees gathered around her, hurriedly discussing the events surrounding the foundling, Ondine. Although she was rarely shocked anymore, she was repulsed by the human's actions. Neither Cordelia nor her child deserved such treatment. Persephone was kidnapped and married off to Hades, the god of the underworld, making this a personal matter. 

Doris reached the point where the waters of the Imbrasos river met the waters of the sea. A Hamadryades, a nymph of the poplar tree, was exploring the riverbank nearby. Doris asked him to find Persephone and bring her back to her location.

As quickly as she could, Persephone reached the riverbank where Doris awaited.  

"You have heard about the Ondine child,” Doris asked?

Persephone quipped, “Of course! You know the tree nymphs can’t keep anything a secret”. She asked, "Are your daughters still taking care of her?"

“Indeed. Dione, Kalypso, and Panopeia are with Amnisos now,” replied Doris. 

“Your advice is needed regarding how to care for the child,'' she added. It is important that she is delivered to Artemis safely. She bears the mark of her mother. Given her vulnerability, it would be best to move her under the cover of darkness.” 

Having not really expected an answer, Persephone said, "Her hair is also white like her mother’s."  

“How many people know of this,” she asked Doris?

Doris replied, “Cordelia’s entire village conspired to rescue the babe from her father.” 

Persephone observed, dispassionately, “Admirable and Problematic.” 

“Quite so,” commented Doris. 

“I think we should move the infant here to the river where Imbrasos can help us. We’ll need Galene, Eione, Galatea, and of course Amphitrite. I am certain Amphitrite will see the wisdom of spiriting the child here to the riverbank. Obviously your daughters are accustomed to working together. Would it be possible for your daughters to leave their regular duties to assist Amphitrite? I will ask Imbrasos to keep curious onlookers away, of course.” Persephone said without hesitating.

“Yes, absolutely! Amphitrite will be happy to help and of course having her sisters working with her will make the whole situation much easier.  Galene will keep the sea calm, so that Eione can devote her energy to protecting the beach. I think the key will be Galatea working to hide the child from all prying eyes,” said Doris.

Persephone continued, “I think we’ll also need the assistance of the Nyx and Nemesis don’t you.” 

"Yes, absolutely. If we do not ask them to punish this act, we will be viewed as weak," Doris said adamantly. 

“Right,” she replied. “I will talk to Nyx and my husband. While I am away, I will send out the Dryads to keep an eye out along the bank. I must go if we are to complete the tasks at hand,” she said as she waved goodbye


Imbrasos promised to help Doris care for the child. Even though his emotions were clearly troubled by Cordelia's death, he remained resolute.   

It came time to speak to her daughter Amphitrite, who is married to Poseidon, the Olympian god of the sea. Her son-in-law rarely had to give her permission to carry out her duties in the Aegean; this wasn't a usual duty. The sea gods and goddesses should protect this child for many reasons. After all, the infant was part water nymph.  


Doris greeted her daughter Amphitrite with a hug.  

"Mother, we just learned about Cordelia's child. Poseidon and I are naturally horrified by what has happened. Are you here to discuss this issue?" Amphitrite asked? 

"Yes, it was a near-fatal situation. The people who brought the infant to safety are to be commended. The issue now is moving the child from the river of Amnisos to that of Imbrasos. The two have agreed to assist in protecting the child,” said Doris.

"In Persephone's message, she explained the plan to bear Cordelia's child to Artimas. You can count on me for assistance. Poseidon’s chariot has already been made ready for me so that I can leave immediately. Emotions run high when a halfling child is involved. The urgency of the situation is evident. Both Poseidon and I favor swift punishment for the human father," Amphitrite said with conviction. 

“I will send Galatea to you when the time comes. “Until then, I want to thank you and Poseidon once again for your invaluable assistance,” Doris announced as she got up to leave.

Her mother gave Amphitrite a kiss on both cheeks as she left the room.   


No one ever entered the lair of the Nyx and her daughter Nemesis without a very good reason. Persephone felt so strongly about the abandonment of the halfling child and the death of Cordelia that she was willing to take the risk. She brought along some of the best wine from her mother Demeter's casks to make the interruption more palatable.  

Persephone was granted an audience with the powerful goddess and her daughter. Nemesis was a demi-goddess, making the issue of an abandoned halfling child more personal.

“Thank you for coming, Persephone. "We have received your communication, and we stand ready to assist when darkness falls on the sea," announced Nyx.   

“Be assured that I will handle this matter with the appropriate gravity. I understand how strongly you feel about the punishment of the child’s father. "I feel the same anger that you feel," said Nemesis to Persephone

“Thank you both. I will leave now," Persephone replied, setting the pitchers of wine in front of them.  


Persephone and Doris had made all the necessary arrangements; there was nothing to do but wait until darkness descended. 


The daughter of Nereus, Kalypso, had the power to hide in the constantly moving winds. She covered the infant in cloth and kept her hidden in the winds that swept over the Aegean. As dusk fell over the sea, Kalypso reappeared by Amnisos' river. She and her sisters fed the baby goat milk before their journey to Imbrasos.  

Meanwhile, Eione and Galene arrived to take the child to Amphitrite, who was waiting in Poseidon's chariot.

Galene noted how small the baby appeared to be. As she watched the child, she was filled with pity. She would soon become an orphan. Thankfully, Artemis was a very protective goddess and would make sure the child was well taken care of. She gathered the babe up in her arms as Nyx approached. 


Galatea stirred up the seafoam creating a blanket of impenetrable froth where Galene and the child hid. The sea was especially calm thanks to Galene as Nyx held a dark mist around them. Although rarely associated with motherly gentleness, tonight the Nyx was not a stormy presence, but a whisper. Under these conditions it did not take long for Galene and Galatea to reach Amphitrite offshore.

Amphitrite gently lifted the tiny infant from the frothy bubbles, while her sisters joined her on the chariot of Poseidon. The baby was calm as Poseidon’s Hippocamps, fish-tailed horses, carried her across the sea to Imbrasos, Persephone, and Doris. 

 Arriving at the mouth of the river of the god Imbrasos, Galene, Galatea and the infant disembarked the chariot while Amphitrite returned to Poseidon to wait for news.

Galene sat on the shore where the river met the sea, holding the baby. She fed her more goat’s milk to keep her little belly full. She could not help but stare at the child’s face. Her beautiful bright green eyes looked back at Galene, her frothy white hair was as soft as the lilies that grew in the fields near Imbrasos’ river. The olive color of her skin made her look nearly perfect. Just like her mother, Cordelia.  

The poplar tree Dryad had gifted Persephone with poplar leaves and branches, from which she fashioned a creel. A hamper intended to protect the child as it traveled along the river Styx. The downy white new leaves from the tree would keep the babe comfortable. The oft spoken of ferryman of the river Styx only transports the dead. Persephone would ride in the ferry boat guiding the little creel along the water until they reached Hades, god of the Underworld. 

 Doris suggested they give the baby a name. They simply couldn't refer to her as "the child" or "the babe". Everyone agreed that it was undignified not to name her. The name Cora was suggested by Galatea. It not only did it sound like the name Cordelia, but it would also remind anyone who met the child that she was special to Persephone and therefore protected. Cora was a name used to refer to Persephone’s role as the goddess of Spring.  

The hamper now completed, Galene handed Cora over to Persephone.  

“She is such a beautiful child,” said Galene, with sadness in her voice.

“Indeed she is,” said Persephone.  

“She will grow up to be both beautiful and intelligent. You can see it in her eyes already,” remarked Doris.  

The Nereids stood and watched as Persephone walked through the entrance of Hades.  

"At least she'll be safe now," Doris said. 

Imbrasos approached the river's edge. 

Galene, Imbrasos' betrothed, arrived at his side.  

"Is there anything else I can do?" he asked. 

"If you and the Dryad could watch the riverbank until Persephone returns from Hades, my mother would be relieved," she replied. 

He held Galene’s small hand in his, “Of course. It’s the very least I can do”.

Galene smiled up at him. “You know we named the child Cora”. 

“That’s a perfect name for her,” he replied. “Now my sweet why don’t you go home and see your father. I will be vigilant. You can watch everything that happens from the Nereus glass”.

Suddenly Amphitrite appeared from the sea. 

“Mother, Poseidon wished me to tell you that he has asked Artemis to permit us to raise Cora as our own,” she said, excitedly.  

Everyone was thrilled when they heard this news; however, Poseidon was a bit unpredictable, so there was no guarantee that Artemis would grant the request. After all, to say that the child had already been through some immense storms in her life would be an understatement.  

The Nereids and their mother hugged and yet dared not become too exuberant until Artemis had made her decision. 


Nemesis stood by the banks of Amnisos' river. She was waiting for the river god to appear so that she could punish the human who had so cruelly murdered Cordelia and would have murdered Cora if he had the choice.  

Amnisos told her where she could find the man, saying he was drunk and with the woman who had been his mistress. Amnisos told her she would not kill the man, some fates are worse than death. 

The human saw Nemesis in a dream. He would be afflicted by a disease that left him incapable of falling asleep for more than two hours without feeling like he was drowning. A lack of sleep would make him insane. Her next revelation was that his daughter was alive and under the protection of Artemis. When he awoke, he knew that the gods and goddesses would never forget what he'd done.


After some time and consideration Artemis, along with the water gods and goddesses, decided collectively that like her adoptive mother Cora would become a Nereid. As granddaughter of Nereus she would come under the protection of a large and loving family. Poseidon and Amphitrite were pleased to have been given the privilege of raising Cora as their own.  

Her little namesake often visited Persephone. The knowledge that Cora was living with a family who loved her unconditionally brought her deep satisfaction. Persephone and Doris had always been close, but this experience made them even closer.   

Storms that were meant to cause destruction ended up forging friendships between mother and daughter, grandmother and granddaughter, and friends. Marie Catherine wondered if maybe the storms of her life could have a happy ending. However, for now, the cab was waiting to take her and her mother to the boat bound for England. The happy ending will have to wait. 

July 17, 2021 03:23

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