The Great Wave
On the last day of Atlantis, Salgeth Ozell stood at his post in the outer circle surrounding the great city. The young guard enjoyed being assigned to night duty because the sirens often came to keep him company. The sirens liked Salgeth because he was kind to them and didn’t chase them away as some of the other guards were wont to do.
Salgeth was a slender, handsome youth with wavy, shoulder-length hair the color of brown seaweed washed up on the shore. He had tawny eyes and a fallow complexion. The name Salgeth meant “where the ocean meets the shore.”
Most of the time, the sirens that visited Salgeth were female. The young man had a reputation among the lovely denizens of the deep for being a passionate and compassionate lover. Many young Atlantean women were enchanted by Salgeth’s beauty, but the handsome guard preferred the company of the sea maidens, who had no expectation of monogamy and were happy to share their delightful catch with one another.
Salgeth was also on good terms with many of the male sirens. His friends Ukveds, Ulmoix, and Vrusae often apprised him of gossip from the underwater realms, and Salgeth reported these findings to King Croncar and Queen Qaangrin.
Salgeth was great friends with Prince Ovril, the presumed heir to the throne of Atlantis. Ovril often joined Salgeth at his post, and together the pair would cavort with the lovely sirens. Salgeth, Ukveds, Ulmoix, and Vrusae noticed that Ovril’s affections for the siren princess Unda had deepened beyond casual enjoyment, and they cautioned their friend against falling in love.
When Ovril failed to heed their warnings, Salgeth took Ovril to the tower of Cronoth, the oldest and wisest sorcerer in the realm of Atlantis. The young guard hoped that even if Ovril would not listen to the advice of his friends, he would hear the wisdom of Cronoth.
“Your desire is working its way into your heart like the thorn of the Gri’ots,” Cronoth warned. “The Sea Princess enjoys your company and lusts for what lies between your loins, but she has no plans for a permanent union with you. Sire, how could she? She is, after all, immortal. Your life will pass by in the blink of an eye, and with the ages, you will be forgotten.”
Ovril, however, was obsessed with the idea of making Unda his bride. Salgeth, Ukveds, Ulmoix, and Vrusae felt that they had no choice but to speak to Unda directly and advise her to reject Ovril before his obsession with her led to tragedy.
Upon their next meeting with the sirens, Ovril was dismayed to find Unda’s demeanor considerably cooler. She advised the smitten prince that she could never be his bride, for she was the bride of the sea.
“A siren can never be betrothed to a human lover,” Unda explained. “I am immortal, and you are but a breath of ocean mist. I am sorry, Ovril, but what you wish can never be.”
The stricken Ovril watched as Unda walked away from him and dove from the cliff, disappearing in the sea foam. Mad with grief over the loss of his beloved, the prince turned to forbidden magic. At the next full moon, he brewed an elixir of dreaming according to a recipe said to be older than the Earth itself.
Into a flagon of pure water from the Spring of Ozuns, the prince mixed six drops of his own blood, five Qhod berries, four thorns from the Struuvied bush, three bitter drops of Xarrods, two yellow Phasiens gems, and a single drop of Nem’ill, a plant whose leaves could cure or kill. He quaffed the potent potion and fell into a deep slumber.
Ovril found himself on the shores of the lost continent of Lemuria, where he was approached by Draattux, a renegade priest whose wicked ways were said to have brought about the destruction of that once-mighty empire. Draattux advised Ovril to summon the fearsome sea-demon Quyagen, who would wash the world clean of inferior land-dwelling life forms and grant Ovril immortality. Thereafter, Ovril would rule the new ocean world side by side with Unda.
Ovril was charismatic, and his sycophants obeyed him despite his obvious descent into madness. He promised them a place at his side when he became king over the newly cleansed earth. He bade him bring the six priestesses of the Temple of Fuphir to Braalxeoks Cove, where they would become the Brides of Quyagen.
Realizing what was at stake, the denizens of the waters summoned Nodens to prevent the rise of Quyagen and the other Great Old Ones. Ukveds, Ulmoix, and Vrusae then hastened to warn Salgeth of what was about to transpire.
“Nodens will do what he must to prevent the greater devastation of the Earth,” they warned. “If we cannot stop Ovril and his lackeys, then the realm of Atlantis is doomed to fall.”
Salgeth and the sirens bravely battled the mad prince’s forces. But Ovril was by this time convinced that Salgeth was at fault for his abandonment by Unda.
“You wanted her for yourself, Traitor!” Ovril shrilled, setting upon Salgeth with his enchanted blade drawn.
Salgeth hoped that he could convince his friend to stand down, but Ovril’s blade hit home, thrusting upward into the guard’s heart.
As Salgeth’s blood washed into the water, the ocean began to roil. The minutes became hours as the waters rippled and foamed. Suddenly, a great wave reared up and crashed down, destroying the once-mighty realm of Atlantis.
With her salty tears hidden by the ocean’s spray, Unda carried the still form of Salgeth away under the tumultuous waves.
Unda is a character appearing in H.P. Lovecraft’s 1919 poem, “Unda; or the Bride of the Sea.”
Quyagen is the creation of E.P. Berglund and Crispin Burnham, appearing in their 1974 story, “The Thing in the Library.”
Nodens is a Celtic deity associated with the sea. He initially appears in H.P. Lovecraft’s story, “The Strange High House in the Mist,” first publication Weird Tales, October 1931.
This story was written for the June 2021 WEP Challenge prompt “The Great Wave.”
The story also utilized the Reedsy weekly story prompts Write a story involving a character who cannot return home and Write about someone who’s desperately trying to change their luck. It was submitted to the “write about someone who’s desperately trying to change their luck” prompt on 15 June 2021.
Happy 82nd birthday to my mother, who likely will never read this story. She doesn’t particularly care for my writing.