Saturday, March 30, 2013

Prompt: The Temple of the Sapphire God

Perhaps, though not definitely, a return to the Lake of the Sapphire Waters

Thanks to Wanderings in the Fantastic World for another great prompt!

Norel knelt by the edge of the Sapphire Lake, trying yet again to clear the anxiety and fear from his mind. He tugged the bracelet from around his wrist and ran his fingers over the smooth blue stones. As he focused on them, he began the God’s Meditations, closing his fingertips around each stone in turn.

He looked up at the full moon as he chanted silently, asking for her guidance across the lake. He closed his eyes until he had turned the bracelet around one full time. He knew the story of each stone by heart and did not need to see them to know which one he held. They told the stories of his family who had come here before him to make they journey across the Sapphire Lake to the Temple of the Sapphire God.

Norel felt the moon’s light like an embrace. He opened his eyes and saw the stones in his hand glowing under their Goddess’s love. Slipping the bracelet back on his wrist, he stood and stretched his arms high above his head.

“Goddess Moon, please guide me on this night. Please lead me to the Temple of the Sapphire God so I may beg his favor.” He waded into the lake and began to swim. It would be a long night.

The Temple of the Sapphire God lay in the center of the Sapphire Lake, visible from the shores all the way around the crystal blue waters. Yet the current ran strong from the temple to the shore, and few were strong enough to swim so far against such resistance. Norel’s older brother had drowned ten years ago when he braved the journey. Norel’s father had forbidden him to make the attempt, until now. A favor from the Sapphire God was all that could save Norel’s mother from the wasting disease, and his father was too old to make the journey as he had in his youth. Norel begged for months until his father relented, tears in his eyes.

“The God could not be so cruel to take both my sons and my wife too,” he cried as he kept vigil with the Goddess Moon. He fell asleep and woke with a moonstone in his hand. A sign.

So Norel prepared for his journey at the next full moon. Tonight. He swam along the moon’s path toward the temple. He never looked up to gauge his distance. When he tired, he floated on his back for a few precious moments until he felt the moon’s light send a surge of energy through his tired arms and aching legs. Surely the Goddess gave favor. 

Three times he swam until he could not lift his arm for another stroke. Three times he rested, then swam again. Finally, he saw a glint of lighter color beneath him. He focused and saw the pale stones that formed the lakebed, glinting as the moon’s light reached deep into the water below. Another stroke, and another. Suddenly he inhaled a mouthful of water and choked. He thrashed, splashing and coughing, and dropping his head under the wter again and again. Finally he cleared the water from his lungs and lay on his back, gasping for air and crying bitter tears under the moon’s silver light.

“Dear Goddess, please help me. Save me. I must ask the Sapphire God to save my mother’s life,” he pleaded up into the light. When he turned back to swim again, he could clearly see the lakebed below, and he dropped his feet down, touching the bottom. He looked up and saw the Temple of the Sapphire God gleaming in the moon’s light. He took another deep breath.

“Thank you, Goddess!” He walked toward the temple, marveling at his ancestors’ carvings on the white marble. Despite the burning in his lungs, the ache in his arms and legs, Norel didn’t falter as he entered the building.

He was surprised to find the moon waiting there for him, shining through the open dome. Her light embraced the statue in the center, taller than any man. Norel quickly looked down as he approached, lest he give offence. He dropped to his knees, then lay full on the marble floor. He was too exhausted and overcome to say a word, to pray, to plead. He closed his eyes and for the first time, he felt his mind clear of all the fear and worry of the past two years since his mother had first become ill.

Drool slid between the cold marble and his cheek. He woke with a start, horrified that he had fallen asleep at the foot of the God. He scrambled to his knees and bent low, resting his forehead on the cool marble. He wanted to weep, sure that he had forfeited any favor from the God through his disrespect. As he knelt there, he felt his hands gripping tight against his sides. His left hand was empty, but something pressed against the inner flesh of his right hand.

Norel sat up and held his right fist in front of him. He looked up without thinking. The God smiled down on him. He had to concentrate to open his fingers one by one, like a lotus under the morning sun. In his palm lay a single sapphire, a gift of favor from the Sapphire God.

# # #

Dogs in house:

Bach, Brandenberg Concerto No 2

Time writing:
~40 minutes

March word count:


  1. Prompt: The Temple of the Sapphire God

    The carriage rolled to stop, and Grace gathered her skirts. She closed her eyes and said a brief prayer--but to whom? Not this 'Sapphire God' at whose temple she had just arrived; not her own absent Goddess Reila, or any of the pantheon who had so rudely abandoned everyone two decades ago.

    Had it been that long? It seemed like forever, yet also only yesterday that rites had been comfortingly accompanied by Reila's presence in her mind.

    The footman opened the door. Grace accepted his assistance to step to the ground; it only furthered the perception of 'frail old woman' that she was attempting to convey. It was better to be underestimated. Next best was overestimation. The worst was an enemy who accurately assessed you.

    She thanked the footman and made her way towards the small, arched bridge over a wholly decorative moat. But she was getting ahead of herself. There was no reason to believe that the devotees of this new god would be her enemies. She paused as gazed up at the brightly painted white and blue building. She could not decide whether she wished for these gemstone gods to be real, or just a nice fantasy.

    1. Hmm, intriguing? Who is she? Goddess herself, or something else/different/other? Or "just" a human? What happened to the gods? Great start!