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10 March 2017 @ 12:25 pm
LJ Idol Season Ten: "The Kingdom Between The Shores"  
The Kingdom Between The Shores
idol season ten | week eleven | 1115 words
The Blue Hour

x-x-x-x-x

Poseidon blamed the Romans.

Renaming someone without his permission—a god, no less—showed a distinct lack of respect. It had all been downhill from there.

Once, Poseidon had ruled the seas, in all their blue vastness and glory. Now, those days were but a memory. As the Greek Empire had diminished, so had Poseidon's influence. The Romans had honored him for a while, but were changeable by nature and in time had absorbed still other gods in place of the old.

Poseidon and his fellow gods had been appalled and their wrath mighty, but both it and they had been largely ignored.

Decades of scarce sacrifices and libations had gone by, and then centuries. Without the adoration and offerings of worshippers, Poseidon had finally been forced to make harsh changes that, frankly, were beneath his dignity.

Most significantly, he had been obliged to seek employment.

First, he offered rides in his sea chariot, but customers found it alarming and complained that it was "unnatural." The hippocampi that pulled the chariot found the customers ill-mannered and inconsiderate, and became disinclined to give Poseidon the time of day. That had been centuries ago. He had not seen them since.

Poseidon sold pearls at the market until he had sufficient funds to purchase a sailing vessel. He had never needed such a thing before, and was surprised to discover that while he could control the sea itself, he was unable to make the ship do his bidding and had to resort to manipulating it via forces enacted by the ocean.

Customers were disturbed by the experience, and word spread until even tourists soon refused to ride the "haunted" vessel. Poseidon resorted to moving farther along the coast and hiring a crew to "run" the ship. In time, he prospered and was passably content. But his nature was impatient, and such complacency could not last forever.

After many journeys, vast quantities of wine, and midnight visits to secluded beaches for fatted-calf flambé, Poseidon began to seriously wonder what he was doing. All of the charade and subterfuge he put on for the privilege of receiving a few gold coins… it was ridiculous. Damn those humans and their small minds and their lack of appreciation!

One particularly bad night, after too many cups of wine that had yet to slake the thirst for ambrosia, Poseidon went into a rage. He stood on the deck of his wooden behemoth and called the sea down upon it. Waves raged across and beneath it, heaving it toward the horizon and scouring its decks free of the wealthy passengers who so traveled from one land to the next based on nothing more than careless whim. Caught up in rejoicing the splintering of the hull, Poseidon scarcely noticed his crew being swept overboard. He plunged into the depths, laughing whirlwinds up from the waters to destroy what remained of his ship.

He spent weeks under the sea, perhaps longer, thinking about what he had done. He regretted killing his crew, for many of them had been decent men. Still, he could not help but gloat over the passengers, all cut from the same cloth as decades—centuries—of the type of humans that really boiled his beard. Good riddance!

Were his consort, Amphitrite, still with him, she might have said that he was sulking. After going for a ride with Apollo in his sun chariot more than a millennium ago, Amphitrite had left Poseidon and the sea far behind. Apollo was a rock star now, with hit records, world tours, and his own jet. Poseidon wasn't sure how Apollo had adapted to his change in status so easily, but then, Apollo had always had the looks. And the charm. And the talent.

Come to think of it, Apollo really boiled Poseidon's beard, too.

The ocean was less welcoming than it once had been. After the humans began to forget Poseidon, the creatures of the ocean changed as well. Their own mythologies disappeared over time, until they became no more than dumb beasts of the deep. If Poseidon beckoned them now, those that came had no inkling of who he was, or that they had even heard him.

After a lengthy period at the bottom of the sea, Poseidon began to long once more for meat and wine—despite what the latter had cost him. He rose up out of the ocean and set about starting over.

He had been living on his ship before he sank it, so all his belongings were now lost apart from his trident, which he could summon at will. He tried selling pearls in the market as before, but the process had grown more complicated and the offered payment had lessened. He drank most of the money away in taverns while he pondered what choices might still remain.

He had enjoyed working on the ship, he decided—it was the passengers he had hated. And he'd learned the craft of sailing during the many, many decades of watching his crews. That seemed to be the best opportunity.

Poseidon applied for work on a fishing vessel, laboring under an ancient captain who reminded him of a walrus he'd known long ago. Poseidon learned the routines of bringing the daily haul ashore and then selling the wares at the market. With the aid of money earned from selling sunken treasure, he was able to buy a fishing boat and go into business on his own.

It was a small operation, with no offices or even a crew. At this point, that suited him just fine. He went out to sea each morning, and found a quiet spot where he coaxed fish and crabs into his nets (which he might have felt guilty about, had they remembered him, but since they didn't he freely indulged his urge to punish them).

He returned to shore and sold his catch, then spent the rest of the day as he pleased. Sometimes he went into a tavern and didn't leave until he was thrown out at closing. Once in a while, he might journey to the deep to revisit his lost palaces, or sneak off to some distant area to burn a delicious goat. Old habits died hard.

But often, he went back out to sea again, sailing the waves for the joy of it. For those few hours, he was king of the ocean again, master of the beautiful blue domain surrounding him. The sun glinted off the water and porpoises leaped alongside his boat.

On the best days, if he looked very, very carefully, he might catch a glimpse of the hippocampi that had once pulled his chariot all those years ago.


--/--

If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

 
 
 
i_17bingo: toileti_17bingo on March 11th, 2017 01:43 am (UTC)
Aw! Poor Poseidon! He seems to be making due, though. Barely, but at least he's not Hades. We all know what happened to Hades.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 11th, 2017 07:13 am (UTC)
That's true-- Hades wound up with a terrible reputation that was nothing like his origins. He also was featured in an animated movie, where he kept worrying that his hair fire had gone out. ;)
d0gs on March 11th, 2017 02:40 am (UTC)
i loved your take on this :D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 11th, 2017 07:14 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! Of all the many ideas I had this week, this was the only one I actually wanted to write-- and was willing to be written.
Shadow Wolf Byrdshadowwolf13 on March 11th, 2017 04:32 am (UTC)
:D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 11th, 2017 07:14 am (UTC)
Thank you!
cindy: misc fictsuki_no_bara on March 11th, 2017 06:24 am (UTC)
poor poseidon, but give him some points for eventually finding something he kinda likes that gives him some kind of satisfaction. the occasional fatted-calf flambe and the secret goat roasting made me giggle.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 11th, 2017 07:16 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked those lines! I originally had that as "burn a goat," but I thought people might confuse roasting a dinner goat with torturing a random animal. "Dinner goat" actually sounds kind of rude.

Overall, though, "goat" is a good word for humor. :D
mrstotten on March 11th, 2017 08:01 pm (UTC)
Loved this. Was smiling from the beginning. Very different take.

I love how I never know what to expect from you each week
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Heh-Hehhalfshellvenus on March 11th, 2017 09:32 pm (UTC)
So glad you enjoyed it!

The unpredictability doesn't aid the idea of a "brand," for what that's worth, though someone pointed out that it struck him as, "The result will be quality of whatever the genre."

So, there's a vague sort of known quantity, maybe. -ish. ;)
bleodsweanbleodswean on March 12th, 2017 12:26 am (UTC)
I have a soft spot for this often-underappreciated god so I very much appreciated your modern take on him! I think I loved the hippocampi the best! I would love to see you take on more gods/goddesses in this vein.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 12th, 2017 07:43 am (UTC)
The prompt really brought me to him, and the idea of him losing all he once was and then finding his way back to reclaim some small part of it.

The hippocampi-- they're such fascinating beasts, and the thought of them being insulted by chariot riders for being "too weird", rather than being admired... they made the right decision in bailing out!
Murielle: Scrunchedmurielle on March 12th, 2017 12:22 pm (UTC)

"But often, he went back out to sea again, sailing the waves for the joy of it. For those few hours, he was king of the ocean again, master of the beautiful blue domain surrounding him. The sun glinted off the water and porpoises leaped alongside his boat."

Sounds like heaven to me!

Your characterization of Poseidon is delightful. Poor old guy.

I have never encountered "boiled his beard" before, is it yours?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 12th, 2017 07:24 pm (UTC)
The love of the sea itself seemed like something a sea god would always have, no matter what else he might have lost.

That IS my expression, and I can only say that it came to me fairly early in thinking about Poseidon, as something that somehow suited him.
rayasorayaso on March 13th, 2017 02:44 pm (UTC)
I loved this! The humor in it was wonderful, and had me laughing. I enjoyed the details, such as the aside that the Romans were "were changeable by nature," plus the labor problems with the hippocampi, and Apollo as a rock star. It was all glorious fun! Poor Poseidon, it's hard to adjust when people no longer worship you as a god, and employment is always a problem, but at least periodically he got to enjoy himself with the porpoises and glimpse the hippocampi.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 13th, 2017 08:17 pm (UTC)
I avoided calling the Romans "fickle," though it really was tempting. They seemed at times to treat particular religions as passing fads.

The hippocampi were such fun to work with. They're so wonderfully weird, and are unique to Poseidon's story. And nobody wants a bunch of earthbound whiners on board the royal chariot, complaining that the steeds AND the chariot are strange. What nerve.

Apollo had all the luck, really.
mamas_minionmamas_minion on March 13th, 2017 10:36 pm (UTC)
I feel bad for Poseidon and most of the old gods, forgotten and un-worshipped. Great story.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 13th, 2017 11:11 pm (UTC)
Cast aside like yesterday's fish!

I think it's worse in this case, to have been appropriated by a conquering culture and then tossed away in favor of the Next Shiny Thing. Which, with the history of the Romans, would have been pretty much any next shiny thing. But that doesn't ease the situation for the guy with the trident and the prideful personality. ;)

Thanks for reading!
Teo Sayseternal_ot on March 14th, 2017 08:27 am (UTC)
I am enjoying what you are doing this season and this has been another wonderful read. Lovely take and I have a soft corner for Poseidon, so this worked very well for me :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 14th, 2017 04:55 pm (UTC)
I see that several people have a special liking for him! He ruled a vast kingdom in his day, and I've always liked his chariot and the idea of vast undersea palaces. :)

Thanks for reading and commenting!
dmousey: cheesedmousey on March 14th, 2017 06:29 pm (UTC)
This was wonderful and gave me the sm kill le I needed! Thank you, hugs and peace~~~
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 14th, 2017 07:19 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it, and that it perked you up! :D
hwangohwango on March 14th, 2017 08:24 pm (UTC)
Hippocampi! And yeah, those fickle Romans - one minute they're worshiping you and the next minute it's something else. Nicely done!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 14th, 2017 11:26 pm (UTC)
Who doesn't love the Hippocampi? They're kind of wonderfully weird.

Gah, the Romans. If you can just glom onto someone else's gods wholesale, you don't have much faith to begin with!
penpusherpenpusher on March 14th, 2017 09:17 pm (UTC)
This was awesome, even if only for the image of Poseidon fumbling around clutching the pearls! But for a lot more than that.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 14th, 2017 11:26 pm (UTC)
Haha-- thank you!

Don't forget the goat-burning. You know there was horrific glee involved in that. :O
Hillaryxlovebecomesher on March 14th, 2017 09:54 pm (UTC)
Love your take on this prompt! I love Greek mythology.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 14th, 2017 11:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you!