TRIGGER WARNING: Stalking, and obsessional thinking are described in this story.
Galene stood at the edge of the waterfall, crystalline tears falling from her eyes. For the second time in as many days, the merchant boat captain had been by, yelling horrible things at her. He said things that no real human male would say to any woman, let alone a woman of her status. He was crude and insulting. The words felt like a dagger to her heart.
One of the 50 daughters of Nereus and sister-in-law to Poseidon, Galene was the Nereid of calm seas. The Nereids were friendly to sailors and fishermen, often helping them in time of need. It was not unusual for sailors to see Galene slipping back under the water after rescuing them from troubled seas. All they saw was her back, pale blue-violet skin covered in a flowing garment of pearlescent white. Her shimmering light periwinkle hair undulated behind her as she disappeared in a flash under the foam provided by her sister Galateia. Thus, the Nereids were legendary. Which is why the effrontery of this horrid man, captain of a lowly merchant vessel, was contemptible. Obviously this situation would call for intervention. She would have to speak to her father, her sisters, and of course Poseidon.
Galene had cried so much that as her tears fell into the water they turned into glassy shining pebbles on the seafloor. She was both hurt and angry. The first thing she must do is meet Imbrasos on the Island of Samos. While Galene and Imbrasos had always been friends recently they had developed stronger feelings for one another. He was wise, thoughtful, and loyal. She needed him to help her sort this mess with the sea captain before her father, or anyone else found out what was happening.
As she made her way to the Island of Samos to find Imbrasos, avoiding the shipping lanes where the odious man might travel, Galene wondered why he had become fixated on her. After all there were many beings such as herself literally everywhere one looked in the Aegean. In particular the Ondine. They were creatures of the water also. In fact one particular Ondine was looking to marry her daughter off to a human man so that she could acquire his wealth and a mortal soul. This was their gift from the gods. The Ondine were able to marry but only for love if the bond of love were to be broken by infidelity, the Ondine would die. Galene felt sure this sea captain would never marry for love.
Imbrasos met Galene at the water’s edge between the Aegean and the river. Imbrasos was a Potamoi, a river god, son of Oceanus. The Potamoi appear in human form often carrying a pitcher or jug of water from which water flowed. He was exceedingly handsome, at least in Galene’s eyes. He loved her devotedly.
Imbrasos stood to embrace Galene and she began to weep quietly in his arms. Her blue/violet skin paled with the presence of the hurt and anger. Emotions like this are not usual for the Potamoi or the Nereids. Normally they were quite happy, finding solace in the sea, the rivers and with family.
Imbrasos lifted Galene’s face, “What is wrong? I’ve never seen you cry from sorrow.”
Galene looked up at him, her dark violet colored eyes registering utter confusion, as she began her story, “Two sunsets ago there was a tempest on the sea. A small merchant ship was caught in the waves. It was listing badly, so father asked me and Galateia to rescue the ship if we could. It would not be easy as the ship was nearly laying over on her side. Galateia helped to provide white foam to mark where cargo had gone overboard and of course to help hide me from the eyes of the sailors. However, I fear the Captain caught a look at me as the waves tossed the ship up and down. He pointed to me while shouting to the man standing next to him. Since that time he has come looking for me. Today he found me and began to shout that he would capture me. He made my blood turn cold. I have no idea what he wants with me. I can give him nothing. Without my family I am of no use to him.”
She began to sob, her eyes producing crystalline tears again. The idea of being taken away from her family was just too painful for her to bear.
Imbrasos was quite shocked at this story. In his human form he was quite imposing, especially when he was angry. He was angry now. He really could not fathom the behavior of this human toward Galene. Yes, she was strikingly beautiful, strong, and quick, compassionate and brave. However, these qualities come from a relationship to her home and with her family.
Imbrasos said: “I have heard about this captain. Aboard this ship is a Prince from Byzantium. This Prince, Constanus, asked the gods for a clear passage home so that he could deliver necessary medical supplies to his father, Emperor Constantine who was suffering from a wound. This sea captain, who is called Cetus, was preventing the young prince from going home with this urgent supplies though the reason for the delay was not clear until now. My love, we will have to act for the sake of the Prince.”
“I understand. Captain Cetus will not go easily I fear. I simply did not want to make anything worse.” Galene replied.
While the two were talking, a particularly unpleasant Ondine named Larysa appeared.
Imbrasos asked “What do you want, nymph? Can you not see we are having a private discussion?”
Larysa practically shouted, “I see! One male was not enough for you, Nereid? You had to take two?”
Galene looked at Larysa with disgust, “Mind your manners Ondine. I have no idea what you are talking about!”
“You know very well what I am talking about! The sea captain and the prince! You know Dimitra has been seeking a human husband. I finally found a suitable male, and you have stolen him. You have stolen the hearts of both the Prince and the merchant ship captain.” Larysa snapped.
Imbrasos, turning to face the Ondine said, “I assure you that Galene has no interest in your humans! This captain has pursued her relentlessly from one end of the Aegean to the other. Galene is to be mine and I hers. There is nothing she would like more than to be left alone so that she and her sisters may continue to care for the sea.” His fists started to tighten with frustration.
Galene was on the verge of tears again. She felt incredibly tired. These emotions were alien to her. Though she knew that Larysa was an overbearing mother she had no idea that things had gone so far. She felt genuine sadness for Dimitra. Dimitra was a beautiful nymph with a singing voice that could charm the fish from the sea. Yet that was not enough for her mother. Larysa obviously wanted her daughter to be married to a human of means. Was it greed or jealousy, she wondered.
Imbrasos told Larysa to leave his river and the island. He added, “If you make these outrageous comments about Galene to others I will find out. Make no mistake I will defend Galene’s name.”
The Ondine left as instructed. Very few argued with Imbrasos when he gave an order.
Galene by now spent physically and emotionally, sat on the sand in the shallow water of the beach. Sighing, she said, “Now we must speak to Poseidon about all of this. There are too many angry beings involved.”
Imbrasos said “You go home now and speak to your family about what has happened to you today. I will speak to Poseidon myself.” He gently lifted her from the sand and watched her swim away.
Her father, Nereus, was waiting when Galene arrived back in the grotto. Her home was filled with the happy noises of her family. Forty-nine sisters and a brother made for quite a variety of noises. She saw her brother-in-law Poseidon come into view.
Poseidon had quite a deep, booming voice. “Galene!” He said
She smiled. “Your Highness! How wonderful to see you.”
“And I you. Now my dear girl, it is time that you and I have a chat with your parents about what Imbrasos told me today.” He said with a tone that would brook no backchat.
“Yes, of course.” Galene said with some reluctance.
“Perhaps we should invite your sisters and your brother also. They should be apprised.” Said Nereus
“Yes. That would make it easier. There is strength in numbers,” Galene replied to her Father.
Nereus and Doris, his wife, Poseidon and Amphitrite, Galene’s sister along with the rest of her family gathered to hear what the King had to say.
“I have asked the family to gather here so that we may discuss some distressing events that occurred today. I’m going to ask Galene to describe the events because they impacted her directly” Said Poseidon as gently as he could.
For a third time Galene felt tears welling up in her eyes. She choked as she began to tell her story about rescuing Cetus and the Byzantine Prince from the storm. She explained in detail how Cetus became obsessed with capturing her as if she were some prize fish. As she told the story she felt hopeless and embarrassed. She could no longer stop the tears from flowing.
She continued, “I went to see Imbrasos to ask his advice. While I was speaking to him that dreadful Ondine, Larysa snuck up on us. She had the effrontery to interrupt Imbrasos as he was speaking. The Ondine was screeching like a gull after fishing nets. She made it clear that she blamed ME for the fact that the human Cetus was madly sailing up and down the Aegean Sea in an attempt to find me. Larysa wishes to marry Dimitra, her youngest, off to this dreadful sea captain or the young prince. Her behavior towards myself, Imbrasos and her daughter was inexcusable.” She said vehemently
“Now I come to an issue that simply cannot be overlooked. She paused for a moment to take a deep breath. This young prince of Byzantium, Constanus is desperate to get necessary medicines home to his father. He requested safe passage home. I think we should grant this request. His father, the Emperor Constantine, was wounded in battle. The medicines he requires are aboard that merchant ship. Constanus is not at fault he has been kidnapped. Cetus has defied his Prince, His Majesty Poseidon, Imbrasos and our father in this ridiculous pursuit. I only ask you to show compassion upon the Prince. Men ought not to be allowed to get away with talking to any female being in the manner Cetus spoke to me! However I believe we can punish him and at the same time help the prince. What say you all?” Said Galene as she sat down to allow Poseidon and Amphitrite to speak.
Poseidon began, “I agree wholeheartedly with Galene. Of course our first instinct was outrage at the way this Cetus had spoken to Galene and for the humiliation it brought to Imbrasos. I would like nothing more than to crush the boat, and it’s contents. However, the bravery, honor, and compassion shown by the young Prince is admirable. I cannot ignore his request for safe passage.”
Amphitrite picked up where her husband left off. “We also have to address the behavior of Larysa towards both Imbrasos and Galene. Attempting to marry Dimitra off to Cetus would be tantamount to a death sentence. He would not love her and therefore she would die very quickly after her wedding. Dimitra is an Ondine of remarkable courage, her voice adds beauty to the earth, and her devotion to the Ondine way of life is beyond reproach. Therefore, it is my opinion that Larysa should be banished to the caves until such time as she can show proper adherence to the laws of the sea. What say you all?”
While Galene hurt for Dimitra she knew it was best if her mother were sent away. Dimitra would be safe from certain death. She could marry for love and not for her mother’s greed. She voted with the rest; Larysa should be banished.
Nereus addressed the group “I thank Poseidon for his insight in this matter. Galene would not be the only one to benefit from the punishment of humans who treat the female of any being with contempt. I propose that we speak to Nyx about bringing darkness to the sea. Poseidon will bring a minor storm to bear on the small boat in the darkness and confusion Leukothea will ferry the Constanus and his vital cargo away hidden in the foam created by Galateia.
Doris interjected “I will be happy to speak to Leukothea about this matter if you’d like Your Highness. I know you have other matters to which you must attend”
“I’d be very grateful if you would do so on behalf of the family, Doris.” Answered Poseidon.
"Nereus, this sounds like an excellent plan. I do want Cetus to be spared death. I want him to know that this was done to punish him for his reprehensible behavior. We will leave a dead black rat beside his body as a warning. Most importantly I wish for this plan to be implemented as soon as the despicable human sets out to sea.” Poseidon ordered.
Light dawned as the elegant Nyx lifted her veil of darkness. Captain Cetus woke to find himself on the beach of the Island of Samos. Beside him lay a dead black rat. A sure sign he was doomed never to sail again. His head was throbbing and as he sat upright he saw Galene slip away back into the sea. He stood to yell obscenities at her when he suddenly found himself surrounded by guards of the Emperor Constantine. He was to be taken to answer for kidnapping the Prince. Imbrasos watched with relief as he was hauled away in chains.
Amphitrite stood at the edge of a cave which bore her name, there in front of her was the Ondine, Larysa. She turned with a look of bewilderment and rage on her face. She knew better than to express the anger that was in her heart.
“Your Majesty” Larysa bowed, with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
“Ondine you have been sentenced to be banished in these caves until you can show appropriate contrition and vow to adhere to the laws of the sea as set down in ancient times. You must do so willingly. Poseidon and I will send an oracle to judge your state of mind.” With that Amphitrite disappeared into a cloud of sand and silt so that Larysa could not see her path of exit.
As for the courageous and handsome Prince Constanus of Byzantium, he arrived in time to rescue his father Constantine from certain death. He told the court of his fantastic adventure and of one exquisite young woman that sang to him during his ordeal. The songs were so peaceful, and her voice so extraordinary that he knew he must go back to the Aegean to find her, it was said by Leukothea that the young woman was named Dimitra. Leukothea was this extraordinary creature, white enough to glow beneath the dark waves. She had been sent to rescue him and his cargo. Thus, they found him safe on shore; not even a drop of water had affected the medicines that were needed to heal his father’s wounds. It was an amazing story, but the court did not doubt it.
The evening sky turned from blue to bright reds and pinks as Marie-Catherine put her pen back in the inkwell. She was satisfied that her latest tale would tell the story of her recent real life experiences. This fable described for the world her real life struggle with obsession, harassment, coercion, jealousy and intrigue. She could freely tell about the innocents who were caught up in the middle as if they were pawns in an evil game. This is her way of telling the truth and in telling the truth perhaps those who carried out such malevolent plans would be punished. It may be wishful thinking but Marie-Catherine would like to think that there is justice after all.
NOTE: This author would like to thank Jenn for her work as our spellbinding “promptress”. Without your prompts I might not have started down this road of short story writing!