The Rage of the Seas

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

A young man questions his elder about the gods in the wake of a tragedy.

Isilf peered out at the roiling sea. The waves battered the walls of the stony cliffs below, each new crash filling the air with a roar like a lion’s. The sea’s tumult had pulled a ship into the depths earlier that day, dragging friends and riches alike down to the ocean floor below. His heart was heavy from loss.

“Would that the sea could be calmed,” he said, his voice thick with grief. “So it would never steal our loved ones again.”

Fridgeir, an old warrior with his youth well behind him, was watching the same waves. The same sorrow burdened him, but he shook his head.

“There was a god once who could do as you wish,” he said. “He was a lord of the oceans and ruled them as a king. He could raise waves as high as mountains, or still the seas with a word. He often did so for the ships of the peoples he favored; using his powers to grant them safe passage.”

“Why did he stop?” asked Isilf.

“Because we killed him,” Fridgeir replied simply. “Our ancestors rose up against him and turned the waters red with his blood.”

This left the Isilf aghast. “Why would they do such a thing? Were they not grateful for his aid?”

Fridgeir nodded solemnly. “Often yes, they were. But the favor of gods is a fleeting thing, and it never comes absent price.” He frowned. “There were none greedier than gods, and the cost of their aid and mercy was often too great to bear.”

Isilf listened as his elder continued.

“The time came when our forefathers and foremothers grew tired of the gods, their greed and their whims. So they struck them down in a great war and embraced the chaos left in the void of their wake.”

“Were things better after that?” Isilf asked. Fridgeir merely shrugged.

“Things were as they were and have ever since been,” he said. He gestured out to the sea. “Sometimes the sea rewards us, and sometimes it robs us. We rejoice in the moments of plenty and build better boats for those days when the rains fall heavy, the gales blow hard, and the waves rise high.” He paused, his eyes tracing the flowing shape of a wave gliding toward the shore. “The waters may be treacherous, but their terrors fall on all of us in equal measure. No man or woman who sails the seas needs to worry about the whims of a god. There is no hand or cruelty driving the waves. There’s only chance.”

“But is that better?” Isilf pressed.

“Sometimes yes and sometimes no,” Fridgeir shrugged again. “It is what it is.”

Isilf frowned. He had at first only spoken from sadness, never expecting any sort of answer. Now he had learned something, and it left him unsatisfied. Things could have been different if others gone from the world had taken different paths. The friends he’d lost might still be alive. The sorrow that clung to him like brambles might have never found a home in his heart.

But he supposed that was the way of things. Someday, someone would look back on the choices he’d made and question whether they were the right ones. Whatever answers those folk came to, the waves would roll in unabated. They crashed endlessly through the ages, paying no care to the worries of men.

Submitted: November 11, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Stew Shearer. All rights reserved.

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