Sunday, March 17, 2013

Prompt: Naiad sisters and the hero

Thanks to Subroto Bhaumik for permission to share this beautiful image prompt!

Neria kept her focus on the spelled archway, ignoring her sisters as they swam to her side. Dania reached up to push aside the wisteria draped around the arch, peering at the image it showed. Tulia sniffed with disdain and twirled in the water, trailing her fingers to make a wide wake. Dania rested her hand on Neria’s shoulder. “Why do you torment yourself so, dear sister? He will never see you, never—”

“I know!” Neria snapped, then relented and covered her sister’s hand with her own. She knew they were worried about her. “I know, dear Dania. I know. But look at him! He is so strong and determined, even against such fierce foes. He will not abandon his men, even his horse, when it could save his life to do so.”

Tulia slapped the water, splashing her frustration. “What of it? What care we for the affairs of men? They are nothing to us, and we to them. He’ll never come close enough to drink our waters, Neria. Forget him! Come with us and be happy once again!”

Neria smiled sadly at her youngest sister, impetuous and beautiful, as they all were, descended from Zeus and a long-dead, long-forgotten mortal. Hera’s anger was not so easily forgotten, however, nor was her curse.  Naiads could not live out of their native waterways, limited to where their streams and rivers flowed. If their homes dried up, or were diverted by men’s dams and waterworks, or were poisoned by men’s industry, they would die, along with everything else rooted in the water.

Tulia splashed again and grabbed Dania’s hands. “Leave her, sister. If she is determined to be an idiot, let her. He will age and die soon enough, and she will forget him.” Dania flinched at Tulia’s harsh words. She was too young to have felt the rest of the curse, unrequited love. Dania had, and she was more gentle with Neria.

“Come, sister, please come and let us braid your hair and sing songs to make happier memories,” she pleaded. Neria shook her head and pushed them away, though gently.

“Go on, dear ones. Leave me for awhile,” she said, as she turned back to the wisteria-concealed image of her lover. She watched his struggles and battles, ever fearful that he would be injured or killed, ever hopeful that he might once again come close enough to her waters that she could go to him, speak to him, touch him. She dozed against the archway, hand resting against his image.


Carrick felt the prickle of unease, the sense of being watched, that had plagued him for months, ever since he had crossed in to this cursed country, making his way through the open woods, criss-crossed with streams of fresh water. He had found his comrades locked in combat and joined in the fray without hesitation, without question. So many had fallen, yet he never faltered, until they drive the enemy away, dragging what few of their dead they could carry. Carrick and his men had burned all the rest. They weren’t savages, to disrespect the dead.

Carrick left his men to return home, back through the woods he had first travelled. His horse was as weary and battle-worn as he was, and they made slow progress back to the port where they would catch a ship to carry them home. As they entered the stillness of the woods, Carrick thought he heard music in the bubbling streams they passed. He felt a sense of peace in the very air, and he began to relax for the first time in long, weary months. Except for that prickle of unease, that had been with him for so long, he had learned to ignore it. He looked around, but there was nothing in sight to cause alarm.

They came to a clearing, next to a wider section of stream that opened into a deeper pool. Carrick gently signaled his horse to stop.

“Let us rest for awhile, Jentus. We can both use some fresh water. I don’t know about you, but I could most definitely use a bath!” Carrick dismounted and pulled off his helmet. He knelt to drink the clear water, and as he reached his hands to his lips, her thought he heard a woman’s sigh. He looked around, but there was still no one there. He wondered if he were going mad after all his trials. He shook his head and pulled off his armor, leather bracings, boots, and the light tunic and leggings that protected his skin. He stretched and, with his arms up in the air, ran straight into the water, shouting at the cold. He dove under as soon as it was deep enough, then floated onto his back and splashed the water into the air above, splashing down on him. Jentus would warn him of any approaching danger.

Jentus didn’t warn him about the sleek arms that reached around him from under the water, or the nubile young body pressing against his backside. Carrick fought free and whipped around in shock. He froze at the sight of the beautiful woman treading water before him. She reached her hands out to him, a smile lighting her face.

“Welcome, love. I’ve waited so long. I never thought you would come here again”

Carrick pushed a little farther away, struggling to understand.

“Who are you,” he finally asked.

Dogs in house:

Time writing:
35 minutes

March word count:


  1. Prompt: Naiad sisters and the hero

    Rider had gotten off, but we were still walking. I threw my head back and pulled on his hands through the reins a little, just to let Rider know we really ought to be stopping for the night. Rider was not a bad sort, for all he was clunky and metallic. He normally gave me a honeyed oatcake before he even cooked his own meal, and scratched all the right bits after he took off my saddle. Not like other riders--young ones who wanted to run and run and then let me stand all night tacked up, they were the worst.

    But for some reason Rider kept walking tonight. In fact, his stumble reminded me of those young riders after they had downed that foul-smelling liquid they so loved. But while Rider sometimes returned from loud buildings smelling just a bit of the liquid, he rarely stumbled so. And there was no smell now.

    The sun would set soon. We shouldn't still be on the road. I tugged back again, but the reins just slid through Rider's hands. His stumbling walk turned into lurching run. He crashed into the brush beside the road and appeared to be heading for the stream.

    I flicked my ears forward. There was another sound beyond the gurgling water--a strange keen, throaty and distinctly unpleasant. My tail lashed about in physical representation of my growing tension. I broke into a trot and chased after.

    Rider was nearly to the stream. "Pretty ladies," he mumbled. He reached his arm out, towards a strange, watery form. Two more joined it, their shapes bulging and merging, occasionally looking almost human. This was not right.

    Time writing: 20 minutes

    1. I love the horse POV! And creepy naiads! Good description of the Rider's stumbling forward motion. Thanks, Anne!

  2. Oo, I like yours! I was having a lot of troubling trying to pick POV between the naiads and the hero, and then I went and squinted at the painting and saw the horse, and couldn't get its POV out of my mind. My naiads are crossed a bit with sirens, I'm afraid... Yours seem nicer.