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Bride of a Water God

A Sacrifice for Spring

By E. J. StrangePublished 2 years ago 10 min read

Clouds plumed forth from my breath as I huffed out the chilly air. Winter had a way of dampening everything including sound, so my huff was not heard. I gave sideways glance up. Well maybe it was heard, but the emotions, too, were prone to the frost. The way his hunched shoulders told me that he had heard and refused to address it. He continued to hack at the thick plate of ice trying to make a hole in the center of the pond.

The pond boundaries were hard to discern with the large snow drifts that had covered it over. The only marker to identify its existence where the coniferous trees that lined its shores unable to grow in its depths. The villagers had always said that it was so deep that it reached hell. Those people could be seen dotting the gaps in between the massive dense foliage. Their eyes malevolently glinted towards us there in the middle; their torches winking threateningly. I already felt like I was already in hell.

I wanted to be strong and stoic. I also wanted to scream and run away. Mostly, though, I wanted vengeance. I wanted to spit in everyone’s face and tell to die in my place.

I was bound by cords crossing horizontally over my body and shackled by hemp cord to the man franticly chipping away at the ice. I watched his quick panicked attempts to break it from my side where I lay. Some of his hits landed precariously close to my face, but he was sure not to hit me.

Finally, water began to well up from cracks at each impact, letting him know that he was nearing the end of his task. Just in time, too. The people were beginning to murmur their disapproval at their executioner. He hastened his pace while I silently prayed he would grow tired and ask someone to take up his position. Why did it have to be him?

He finished and yelled out the ceremonial phrase, “A body is not warm without a full belly,”

From the shoreline the people chorused out in unison, “A belly is not full without a harvest.”

A woman with hair so white and grey that it almost matched the snow glowing in the moonlight stepped out and drew her hands palm up before her face. She looked at the full moon and chanted back, “Oh divine spirits we give this woman is our surplus and we give her to you a bounty so that we might have another year of harvest.”

My grave digger pulled out his dagger and I shrieked behind my bindings. I wriggled like a worm try to scoot away from him, but we were bound. He raised the knife and arched it towards me. I rolled into the exposed water as the flint blade sparked across the jagged ice; its clank inaudible to me as I splashed into the icy depths. It was not where I wanted to be, but the length of our bindings prevented me from rolling any further in the opposite direction.

I inched in writhing motions perpendicular to the ice; trying to find sharp bits of ice to snag and cut my bindings of with. I managed to get my hands and arms free. I felt the tug of the rope still at my waste. It was attached to the man. To thwart his efforts, I dug my claws in the jagged parts of the ice so he couldn’t drag me back out. My desperately powerful movies must have knocked him off balance, because not too long into my struggles I heard the muffled noise of splashing behind me. I looked behind me to see blue bubbles catching the light of the moon. They were stark in contrast to the black abyss below.

When the bubbles cleared I could see my captors legs and I swam for them. I kept my back at the ice for leverage and used all by core and arm muscles to drag him under. I had spent many nights holding my breath as I wondered how my decent into the void would feel. It had strengthened me without my knowing, for I was lasting longer in the water than I had thought. I pushed passed the man to suck in air realizing I would have just moments to do it before I would be sucked back in.

Sure enough, I got barely a gasp out before plummeting back into the water. Before I was drug back down I caught sight of the ceremonial killing knife resting near the edge and grabbed for it. I held it tight as I was sucked back down. I waited for the bubbles to settle and to see what he would do before I used it to saw at the rest of my bindings.

He saw the sharp object in my hands and what I was trying to do with it. Before I could undo my bindings he made to wrestle it away from me. I fought and struggled. His hand slipped away from the one that was holding the knife. The sudden give of force did not register to my senses till my hand had already flown from my body. The knife sunk into flesh up to the hilt.

It felt like my heart was being stabbed and not my fathers before me. He looked as shocked as I felt and for a moment I felt remorse. Then his eyes glazed over, and I remembered he was going to do the same to me. I let go of the hilt; trying to distance myself from my crime.

I swam up towards the hole in the ice. My lungs were on fire. I needed air before anything else could matter. I was letting out the burning gasses in my chest in anticipation of breaking the surface and gulping in much needed air when a tug forced me away from my breach. I grabbed the edges to pull myself up thinking it was only the sinking body that was dragging me down, but the force at which I was jerk back the second time had me looking for the culprit.

I had expected my father to still be alive. I don’t know why I had expected something so rational, especially when I was a cog in a ritualistic ceremony. On I had witnessed in awe of at least 3 times when the thaws never came. I had just never seen it this close. I had never thought I would be personally meant for it.

Its eyes were red with a gold rimmed cat slit pupil that glowed without needing light. Its scales were blue and white and stood out from the abyss in stark glittering contrast like the bubbles had. It had legs and claws that it tucked under its body while its long snake like body waved back and forth to propel it through the waters. Around its head lay a mane of gills and long whiskers that moved with the current the way hair would flap in the breeze. Its’ mouth was the most terrifying part of it. Its’ sharp white teeth glinted, because its’ mouth was slightly open revealing an orange glow crowned in white indicative of a flame. It was so against the nature of water, but all the same it still burned there at the creatures core.

The water god was angry, and I was the source of its ire. I was sure of it.

Terror seized me at the sight. I scrambled at my bindings, tugging, and pulling in my panicked frustrations. They would not come off and I was quickly fading from the lack of air. My lungs burned and my vision blurred, and my thoughts were dissociating. I was running out of fight and worried that even if I could breathe again that I would not be able to escape this monster. Hopelessness was smothering my fight to live. It had always been hopeless, and I was so stupid for thinking otherwise. Still, I wasn’t willing to give up. I was my father’s child after all and even if it was by accident I would sacrifice family for myself.

The dragon shaped water god had eaten my father and the bindings that had attached him to me where stuck in his teeth. I yanked at the bindings trying to break free. It ignored me as it swam for the hole to make its display. I feared being shredded by the ice as I was sucked down and to its sides by the currents of its upward movements. Its head brushed away the brunt of the ice it tore through, and I clung to the spines protruding out of its back incase I was ejected midair.

Every time after a sacrifice was made it would come up from the depths and break through the ice. It would discharge its flames high in the air letting sparks and orbs of magic rain down on the land. This power melted away the snows of winter. Wealthier members of the village such as the elders could harness some of the sparks with special metal contraptions they had commissioned by the black smiths. They say the ember could burn for years without having to add fuel to the flames. Must have been nice I always thought.

When the dragon released its flame it singed away my rope and I was left holding on for dear life. If I fell it would have been my death. I couldn’t figure out how to get back to the ground safely and solutions alluded me as the dragon made its looping arch through the air. I was well above the tree lines and I could see the glow of fires from my far way village before being plunged back down. My stomach flipped at the rate of our decent and I didn’t have time to hold my breath as I was plunged back into the icy depths.

It was descending at a rapid pace. The water was already in a pitch black cold gradient by the time I was able to release my cold frost bitten hands from the creature. I couldn’t tell which way was up or down. I was surrounded by darkness and my limbs were losing their functionality in the cold. I swam in the direction I thought the surface was and to my chagrin I was met with unending dark.

I wondered in the abyss if a double death in the depths of the pond would bring longer prosperity to the land, but the dragon was not coming back to eat me. I was beginning to wish for its presence if only to have it warm me. It dawned on me that it was my only lifeline and that I needed it to either finish me off so at least my death had meaning, or I could goad it into bringing me back up to the surface.

What was it that attracted it to the surface of our pond? I thought of what was prescribed in the ritual and realized it was the drawing of blood. I used what strength was left in me to bite open the veins at my wrist. I hardly felt it and not much of it trickled out, that’s how cold and close I was to death, but still I felt a need to fight on. The blood, to my relief, summoned the beast back to me. It looked at me not like prey or dinner, but with what I was sure was confusion.

I was having a hard time living. My lungs burned while the rest of me was dulled by cold. I convulsed fighting my death. It turned its head in curiosity and I writhed again. In one swift motion it took me in its claws and without any flourishes it dragged me down. I closed my eyes and prayed for enteral snow on my village.


About the Creator

E. J. Strange

I am new to the writing community but hope to publish a novel one day. I am simple minded and sucker for romance.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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    Creative use of language & vocab

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (3)

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  • C.Z.about a year ago

    Great story! You might consider another read through as there were some spelling mistakes, but the idea is fantastic and it is a well-executed story!

  • Whoaaa this was outstanding!

  • Oh Wow, Absolutely amazing, I loved this.

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