The Sea King’s wife

Creeping in at the last minute with my own story for this week’s challenge.

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I told him there was no point, that she would not be coming back. The Sea King had taken back what he was owed, and no mortal man could stand in his way. I watched him from the cliff top as he put out into the wild sea, watched as the little skin boat strained against the might of the waves. I wept when the ninth wave reared up and tossed the fragile craft back towards the shore. Seven times he rowed out into the breakers, each time crying out his anger and his distress. Seven times he cried to the fairy woman to come back to him. I tore my hair and willed him to stop, but she had cast a spell on him and he forgot all the love that he had for the asking in this world.

The Sea King could have crushed him like a gnat, but he let him be. Perhaps out of pity, perhaps the fairy woman had asked him to spare her lover. How I hated them, the fairy people who are so free and easy with their loves that one more or less is of no consequence to them. Could she not have been satisfied to have the Sea King for a husband? Did she have to steal a mortal man too, the only man I had ever wanted? When the ninth waved tossed him back for the last time, I heard him scream her name, and my heart flew into my mouth when he leapt into the waves.

They pulled him from the breakers, his brothers and his kin. He will live, they say. But what use to anyone is a man without a heart?

Three line tale: Fionn VII

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Towns were unnatural places at the best of times, but this town, in this strange corner of time and place was a nightmare of howling monsters. Witchlight sent strange shadows scurrying as Fionn tried to find his way back to the bridge over the dry river where he had left his harp.

Then he remembered his hounds. They would find him even if his kinsmen lost his track. He raised his fingers to his mouth and whistled. Bran raised his head and sniffed; Sceólan raised her ears and listened. Fionn was calling.

Shadows along the bare walls shifted and milled about Fionn’s legs in silent affection when the hounds found him.

Microfiction: Serpents

A longer bit of microfiction, a mingling of Norse and Celtic myth, to go with this rather splendid painting by N. Roerich

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In the blue pink dawn, the ships bucked against the tide, strung out along the strand beyond the reefs. A dozen longships waited for the enchantment to lift, for the waves to let them pass. A dozen captains waited for the spell to break and let them drive their dragon-headed craft onto the yielding sand, to leap, yelling their war cries, into the shallows. The crossing had been long, the storms many and terrifying, and now, at the end, the magicians of the mist-bound isle held them at bay with a cowardly enchantment.
The men cursed, tired of the oars, tired of pacing the tiny space of a bucking deck. They wanted to stretch their limbs, to feel the earth firm beneath their feet, thirsting like their weapons for blood. The war rage was upon them, and not a few had already plunged to their deaths, unable to wait longer.
Release came when the first ray of the new sun struck the black reefs. The mist lifted, the fierce tide turned suddenly, and the longships shot forward, deadly arrows aimed at the island’s heart. The crews roared in their bloodlust, boated the oars and raised their bucklers, gripping the ships’ sides ready to leap into the churning waters.
But the prow of each ship reared up like a frightened horse as the jagged rocks stirred and rose out of the furious waves. In the backwash the ships tossed and rolled from side to side. The dark mass looped between them and the shore; sunlight glinted on scales festooned with limpets and violet mussels. A huge head tore free of the water and swayed above them, tossing salt water and splitting the air with a bellow louder than the loudest thunder. A maw opened big enough to swallow the greatest longship ever built.
Jörmundgandr, they murmured, and clung to their amulets as the sea serpent smashed their ships to matchwood.