Friday, April 17, 2009

WoL: Part 2 - The City

Waves of Love
Part 2:
The City

The bright morning sun in the clear blue sky reflected off of the green domed roofs of Alexandria. The stylish white walled city, built around the ruins of ancient times, was bustling with activity in the merchant quarter as the new boats had come in. The city rose from the harbor to the illustrious royal sector, where massive white mansions, domed in gold, and with large glass windows looked out over the metropolis.

In between the pristine mansions and cluttered docks were the homes of the commoners of Alexandria. Each square, claybrick house, covered in white plaster and painted with designs, had a brightly colored banner over it, which offered shade as well as identifying the occupants as being under the protection of one of the royal houses.

A young boy was running between the shade of the banners, ducking into alley ways, a bundle held close to his arms. Behind him, several guards in gleaming silver breastplates, were searching for him. One spotted him and called to the others.

“There he is! Get the thief!”

The boy ran down an alley way, jumped over a rough wooden fence, and across a busy street, the pursuers all the while still firmly behind him. As he ran, he tripped and fell against the hard paved ground, the loaf of bread in his garment falling out.

The guard leered over him and said, “Why you little peasant! I’ll teach you…”

“Ahhh. Merculius? Correct? I remember you from the Battle of Thebes.” said a tall man with dark brown hair and pale skin.

“U-u-um, yes. Yes! Your highness, er, your grace! I am, er was, in the Battle.” the guard stammered as he was addressed by the tall man.

“And you fought valiantly and with so much honor too!” said the regal looking man with a smile. “Tell me, where are you off to in such a hurry? Pursuing some noble cause, no doubt.”

“Of course! I was, er, going to recheck my battalion’s armory, sir!” the guard said as he jumped to attention, chest swelling with pride that he had been noticed.

“Very good. You are a brave man. If you have not been commended yet, I shall see to it that you are. Carry on as you were.” The tall man said with a twinkle in his eye.

“Sir, yes, sir!” and with that he and the rest of the guards were off.

“You can come out of hiding now.” the man smiled as he turned to the dark alley where the boy had disappeared into. “Don’t worry about him, he’s not all bad. Just a little frustrated. Come on, you can have your bread back.”

“S’not mine.” the boy said as he shuffled out, head hanging in shame. “I stole it from those wagons o’er there.”

The man turned to see where he was pointing, then smiled as he said, “Here, it is your bread now. Those are my wagons, and right now you are under my banner. So, go ahead, and in the future just talk to Old Thelius. He’ll be more than happy to give you and your friends as much food as you can eat.”

“Thank you, sir!” The boy exclaimed, taking the bread, then turned to ask, “Begging your pardon sir, but who are…”

“Duke Regeus, your father has arrived.” said a herald approaching the two.

“Sorry, no time to chit chat, I have to go. Maybe we’ll meet again, ah,….?” The Duke said smiling.

“…oh, uh, Mello, sir.” the shocked boy stammered.

“Good boy. Till then, Mello.”


*~*~*~*~*~*

Among the many merchant ships at the harbor that day was one particular one, storm ravage and beaten. The sailors climbed off, shaking hands and patting backs as they told their harbor wives the tale of the horrible storm. They were on their way to make a sacrifice at the Temple of Neptune to appease his apparent wrath. The road wound from the docks, through the craftsman sector, and up the slowing hill, to where the sacred quarter of the city lay.

There were large, ornate temples to Zeus, Hera, Hestia, Hermes, and Demeter, all with large mancured lawns and decked with white, unmoving statues of gods and goddesses. However the crowning jewel of the hillside was the Temples to Neptune and Aphrodite. They stood proudly, two large rotundas of while, marble pillars, circling inward to the shrine. The floors were giant mosaics depicting scenes of Neptune’s triumph and Aphrodite’s birth, surrounded by sea monsters, tritons, oceanids, and all manner of demi gods and goddesses.

In between the tall white pillars were long yards of blue satin and gossamer cloth that swayed in the perfumed winds that would pick up the scent of rose incense in the seashell braziers around the shrines. As the group of sailors walked towards the Temple Complex they were shocked by who they saw sitting in front of it, with lyre in hand.

“Tycus! You old sea dog! What are ya doing here!?” They roared as they embraced him.

“We t’ought for sure you were a gonner!”

“Reckoned we better come sacrifice something before another of us got tekken.”

“Hahaha! So the sea gods spared your life? And what was the cost? Did ya have to marry a fish?”

“No, hohoho, lads, that’s why he’s sitting out here. Can’t you tell he’s gonna be a slave priest to the sea gods in exchange for his life! He’ll never sing another fair voyage prayer again!”

“Well, you saw what happened the last time he sung one! I wouldn’t let him even if he weren’t a priest-slave.”

“It is good to see you all again.” Tycus replied as he finally separated himself from the embraces and pats on the back. “Actually, I was not at the shrine of Lord Neptune, but at that of the Lady Aphrodite.”

“Hoho! See, I told ye he had to marry a fish!”

“Shut yer gab an’ let the lad speak!”

“Well, I was rescued by another merchant man after the storm. We sailed for a while and then… then I fell in love.” Here a dreamy glazed look came over his face. “We sailed past the Siren of the Rock.”

“What!”

“That’s impossible!”

“No, we did. But I was the only one who listened. And her song was so beautiful, so captivating, that even now it lingers in my mind and plays over and over again in my heart. And now the Lady Aphrodite, fair and noble foam-born, she has heard my prayers and brought you all back to me. So that we can sail back and I can be with my Siren, Sealia.”

“You’re out of your mind, lad.”

“That siren’s bewitched he, mark my words. This aint love, its just a spell.”

“What’s the difference?” Tycus asked dreamily, “What’s the difference between blind cupid’s arrow and hers? What is love, if not some spell that opens man’s eyes and makes him understand?”

“More like makes him blind and mad!”

“Come then, let us go and seek the wisdom from the Lord Neptune’s priest. They can divine whether we should leave or not.”

“Lets pray the Lord Neptune doesn’t still want our heads….”

“Aye, and that’s its really him and not some demi-god joke.”

*~*~*~*~*~*

“Lia, Lia, Lia. How do you expect to find him? You have no idea how big Alexandria is! Or any idea of the intricate workings of the city. Even if you spent months circling it you might never see him.” Orpheus called as to the Siren overhead.

She looked down at him, lounging in his large scallop shell chariot, a team of thundering hyppocamps pulling him across the waves, keeping pace with her soaring in the wind. He had a good point, but she had to find this man. Tycus. The one who had seemed unaffected by her song, or at least, able to contain his affection. Why hadn’t the song worked? Why was he able to simply smile and sail on? Why was she thinking so much about him? Was it love.

“Yes and no! Now slow down! The city insn’t going anywhere. And neither is he.” called Orpheus after her.

She quickly suamersualted in the air and dove straight down, landing impeccably on the very tip of the chariot rim, leaning forward as she spoke, “What do you mean? You know where he is! Don’t you! You’re keeping him there, and telling me not to go because you know that will just make me go faster!”

“Gee, it took you this long to figure it out? I was beginning to worry.” He smiled, “Alright, fine. I know where he is. He’s lounging in front of the Temple to Neptune, feeling sorry for himself because Neptune’s Oracle told him not to leave the city. Are you happy!”

“Neptune’s oracle? I didn’t know Neptune had an oracle.” She smiled. “Thank you Orpheus!”

As she launched back into the sky, Orpheus yawned, pulling a goblet from the sea and sipped at the contents. The chariot and the hippocamps all submerged into the water, leaving him sitting on thin air, pondering his cup as he spoke to the oceans nothingness, “Ahhhh. Love is so droll. Oh well, at least its somewhat entertaining to watch. I have a feeling tonight may be intresting….”

*~*~*~*~*~*

That night the festival of lights was in full swing over the city of Alexandria. The people lined the streets wearing brightly colored mask of red, yellow, and orange, all bearing a torch or a candle where they went. The guards also carried candles, but each was armed with a bucket of water as well, eyes peeled for any sign of fire getting out of control.

In the midst of the carnival festivities, the youth from the royal houses also donned masks and costumes and grabbed their lit torches to run through the streets with the rest of the city. It was a wild and freeing night that came but once a year, and none were willing to miss the showdown later between the two great playwrights, Artistophal and Terricius, who were both premeering their new works later on.

Caught up in the middle of this was the young Duke Regeus. Although he was almost 23 he was still called ‘young’ by everyone because his father was still rulling. Eventually that would all change. Then he’d have responsibilities and life would become all business. However, that was to come, and this night was the night of celebration and freedom.

He had gone with his friend Egeus, and had met up with Brutus and his three sisters and their friends, who made the make to female ratio somewhat one-sided. All night long Regeus found himself holding a fibula or a shawl, or helping some frail maiden to continue on the celebration path to the amphitheater in the glade of Dionysus.

They were all seated, candles held firm, as the audience waited. The lights at the ends around the amphitheater were put out, the single line of candles at the front all that remained. Music began playing as mist rolled on the stage, and several characters dressed in white rolled and cartwheeled across the stage, large grotesque masks portraying singular emotions. These were the gods.

High above the very last seat in the ampitheater, unseen to all, floated Orpheus, goblet in hand as always, watching the proceedings and laughing merrily at the protrayl of Neptune, with long shaggy goats hair beard.

“A good impression! Bravo!” went his unhearible calls.

The play proceeded, a comedy after the ancient form, with dances, senex, and witty slave, all going round and round in confusion and hilarity, ending finally in an octople wedding. The ampitheater shook with applause and cheering at the spectacular show. Terricius came forward, smiling broadly, bowing and smiling smugly at his opponent, Artistophal.

Between the two plays, there was an intermission, where one of Alexandria’s new bards would sing his song of unrequited love and hopeless anger with the god’s decisions. The crowd applauded slightly, but most were not impressed. Half way through his performance, Regeus was pulled away by one of his companions.

“Come on! I have a surprise for you!” she giggled as she led him up the path away from all the lights to the overlooking cliff next to the Temple of Neptune.

“Here, it’s a gift!” She handed him a package. “Open it!”

He unwrapped the package to find a lyre inside. It was fine polished wood, engraved with his name, and set with his family’s seal. She leaned forward, breathing heavily behind her mask.

“I had your family’s magical seal placed on it, with the hope that this may soon be our family seal.”

In that moment Regeus was knocked over by a gust of wind and a shrill scream coming from below the cliff. He pointed towards the temple, and his companion ran there, while he leaned over the cliff to see if someone had fallen. As he stood over the cliff, the large golden wings flapped into view. The Siren rose on long, sharp wings, her mouth wide as a harrowing high pitch note increased in octives over and over again, nearly glass shatter.

“No! Tycus! Tell me it isn’t true! Tell me you don’t love… that thing!” she said sobbing as her feathers retracted and she stepped forward, a woman once more, and lifted his mask.

“Lia?” Regeus asked with shock as he hair fell from her face.

“Regeus?!” She backed off with a look of mixed surprise and anger as the mask fell away, “You?! … You!!!”

In a split second Lia had transformed into her golden winged form again, claws raised and ready to strike, all her anger burning in her hot amber eyes. She let out an ear piercing call, and saw the object of all her hatred before her. Regeus had no where to run.

2 comments:

  1. Awesome! I love it! Now where's part three?

    ReplyDelete
  2. ...do continue, please...!!! :)

    ReplyDelete