Thetis, the woman of the setting sun, the protector of the oceans, daughter of Nereus and granddaughter of the Sea, had helped to rule the many oceans with her husband, the hero Peleus. All had been well and the seas had been calm. Then the Trojan War came and brought with it bloodshed of the highest order, where mere mortals would cast off what little power they believed they had.
Achilles, Thetis’ precious son was a great hero and a demi-god. He had been dipped in the River Styx of the Underworld, the life force of immortality, by his mother, his protector and guide. During the Trojan War in which Achilles was fighting, for it was his destiny, he was cornered by a hunter by the name of Paris. Paris pinpointed Achilles’ heel, for he was on the mark, and Achilles fell lifeless to the ground. His one weakness was exploited by the sharp dexterity of such a hunter. For only his heel had not been dipped in the cool waters of the Styx and that meant he did not hold the status of a true god.
So the world of sea did mourn and Thetis fell into a deep depression, not unlike the deepest of her sapphire oceans. Her husband said it was Achilles’ fate to perish and to have a glorious life but a short one. It was the gods’ will he said.
Her husband encouraged her to accept what had taken place:
‘Let it go, fairest of the sea nymphs, Queen of the Nereids and my beloved wife. The gods initiated this fate and we must accept it.’
‘I cannot believe in gods who let heroes as brave and true as my son fall so suddenly, all because of a lucky shot!’
‘You must have faith in them, my love.’
A funeral for her son took place on the shore of a beach which Achilles had been fond of and Thetis, Queen of the Nereids, sang an elegiac song and it went like this:
May all Nereids pause and accompany me
A song of sadness and of mercy,
We took to tides of games and war
And in the end: Casualties exuded and tore.
We prayed once for the holy dove,
Now my soul split to its core,
My heart of hearts shattered on the floor.
The sea did moan;
The gods did sign.
The locket of my son;
Cracked for all time.
Tears of my whole oceans
My son’s heart shattered on the floor.
After the mourning day and funeral Thetis retreated to her room under the sea. It had the darkness of crawling night stalkers and her brooding continued. Her thoughts grew darker. Her sadness twisted into anger. Later that day this drumbeat of anger spiralled into hatred and bitterness for what she had lost, a piece of her very own heart. She doubted the gods and she trusted in her son, and wanted to do something for Achilles to show him her love.
She left her husband to handle some business and went to find what she could to show her son that she loved him. She wandered, leaving a white trail through the ocean. Her Nereids or sea nymphs rode on the dolphins of the sea, taking in the surf and enjoying the ride. She found a man at a coastal town called Mer with his trusty bow and quiver on his back. He was dressed in green cloth and sturdy boots near an inn, The Beating Dragon. Thetis was in human form as beauteous as the tossing waves yet with human qualities which the man admired. She held a sweet scented musk in her hand and offered it to the hunter.
‘Would you like to try this sweet scented musk? It is gathered from flowers by the ocean. It would bring me great joy if you bought some.’ She spoke with the most polite etiquette and her eyes grew deep wild red, the colour of roses.
‘That I would and how pretty you are, with the light of a goddess emanating from you.’
The hunter was tempted to try this commodity and so he did.
The musk hit his senses with a huge burst of power and he fell into a deep sleep, where he dreamt of Thetis and only of her. Desire and passion in his unconscious kicked in and he longed to hold her. With a gust of wind Thetis embraced the hunter.
‘Very observant of you! I am richer than you will ever be. I am not the sweetest of the goddesses but I, a sea goddess of power, will take your life and each and every hunter I come across! All in my son Achilles’ name.’
Insatiable an appetite that she had. She combined the power of the musk with her mighty powers of water and wind and left this hunter dead on the floor, with a puddle of water surrounding his body. This was a gift for her son, an offering. Her eyes grew ever more red. The smell of the musk wafted throughout the streets nearby and the poisonous scent brought with it future shortcomings for hunters and men who crossed Thetis’ path.
Thetis transformed yet again, this time into a brunette bar maid. Next she entered the inn in front of her, where she knew dusty travellers would circle and meet to have an inviting mug of ale. This is where she would find more of her prey. Her son would be proud, wouldn’t he?
Thetis entered the inn and noticed many a rogue and hunter enjoying a quiet break with a mug of ale in hand. She snuck in and began pouring a pint for a hunter, who was talking to another archer at the bar.
‘I heard that the great hero Achilles has perished.’ Thetis listened in for every word.
‘By who’s arrow or sword?’
‘By Paris’s arrow. Paris is not the sharpest tool, but he has proven his worth. The Trojans will continue to be superior.’
At this moment Thetis grabbed hold of the first hunter by his neck:
‘The Trojans...scum compared to the Greeks.’
‘What an attractive bar maid. Are you not from these parts? You don’t support Paris of Troy?’
The hunter was drawn into Thetis’ red eyes and a power radiated from them, causing him to feel dizzy and lovesick for her. For a split second she thought about the terrible of tragedy of her son and if it was what the gods wanted. Then she fought off these thoughts and came back to reality.
Thetis said, ‘No...Tell me, who is the great teacher of Paris?’
‘How do you feel, hunter?
‘Marry me darling? Tomorrow? Come on.You know you want to.’
‘You lovesick puppy. I will take you to your grave.’
She grabbed a knife from behind her, typically used for preparing food, and sliced at the hunter’s body till he collapsed in a bloody mess.
The last words he echoed were:
‘Till tomorra’ darling...’ in almost drunken dizziness.
Then she continued her rampage and took apart each and every hunter in the room. The rogues and pub manager managed to escape for they had their wits about them.
Across the room puddles of blood were splattered across the floor and Thetis licked some blood from each of the 25 corpses, to remind her that each kill was necessary. The drops of blood in her mouth also added to her thirst to kill and torture hunters, wherever they are.
‘All these tiny hunters, such cheap prey, just enough to satisfy my thirst a little. But I must find this Aristaeus, for he will satisfy my son’s hunger and pay homage to my son.’
Thetis then travelled for a few days, to the wood realm where Aristaeus lived. She wanted a challenge this time. She travelled to a lake surrounded by dryads, weeping willows with vines that swayed in the light breeze.
She did not come with the best intentions but with hate that raged like fiery horses in her ruby red eyes. Just as she arrived at Crystal Lake her mind latched on to her son’s memory and another world.
‘I wish you were here, my son Achilles... Peleus’ mind has been poisoned, bending to the gods’ will. Don’t worry, my son. I will avenge you, for I know no one else would make the sacrifice that I make for you.’
Once a protector and attentive mother, also a support to gods like Zeus and Hephaestus in their times of need; now Thetis had an even more bitter touch, like green ivy. She was bloodthirsty and had the coldest vein to her heart, of Hades or Death himself. She approached the lake.
‘Come out Aristaeus, come out.’
From behind a dryad the chief hunter appeared, with bow slung on his back. He looked calm and relaxed and seemed to expect little trouble from Thetis.
‘What business have you here, goddess Thetis?’
‘I’m sure my son would come to see you gladly, if your pupil had not taken him apart with such a lucky shot!’
‘So it is the source of the problem you seek. Keep in mind the hatred that boils inside you will be sustained even after you attempt to kill me...’
‘You probably think the gods can help and show their mercy! I will have my vengeance. My son requires that at least from me. After your death it will be just one less hunter to kill til’ my son and I are satisfied.’
At that moment while she spoke these words, Thetis brought on a whirlwind and wrapped it round the hunter, attempting to suffocate the misery guts. The hunter flinched, armed an arrow and shot once at Thetis’ heart. This was not enough. She beat his arrows off like they were little insects.
‘Not so fast hunter. I will claim your soul for my son.’
Aristaeus ignored her dramatic talk and encouraged her closer and she came towards him slowly. She had her powers of wind tossing and turning trying to pin him down. Just as the hunter shot, from in front of the waters of the lake, Thetis cast a water spell to encourage the lake’s waters in around Aristaeus. She aimed to force the waters to embrace him, in essence to wrap round him like a blanket and suck him in.
Then someone arrived, out of the corner of Thetis’ eye.
‘Thetis. It is I, Peleus.’ Thetis reduced the hold that her wrath held on Aristaeus and looked to her husband’s eyes.
‘I heard what has been going on. I have come to help you.’
‘You cannot help someone who does not need to be helped. I am doing what my son would want. Avenging his death for the Greeks, so we will have the power back.’
‘You have started a rampage that will only lead to more bloodshed, and for what, my love?’
‘My love? You have been poisoned by the blackness of the gods who wish us evil. We must retaliate with force and cause suffering for the Trojans.’
‘Achilles would not want this evil. Your heart has been deeply scarred.’
Thetis quickly threw Aristaeus into the waters of Crystal Lake and let it freeze over in a frenzy of ice and snow. That was the end for the teacher.
Then she turned to Peleus.
‘Evil? You do not know this word. I am helping avenge my son’s memory. It is all for him!’
Out of the ice-covered lake sprung, it seemed, a man in a lava funnel of fire. His body lit up in golden colours and his light emanated across the area around the lake.
‘Thetis, did you think you could kill me? I am Apollo the sun god. It was I that focused Paris’ grip and eye on your son Achilles and exploited his one weakness.’
‘So the gods truly were against me! From up in the clouds you beckoned Paris to kill.’
‘Let forgiveness be the truth now...’
‘Never. I will be back for you. I shall find a way. A sea goddess has her ways...’
Half in tears, half consumed with hate, Thetis transformed into a whirlwind and fled the scene, never seeing her husband ever again. She would be back for Apollo to oust his flame-lit crown.
Over the many years she sought out prey after prey, whoever reminded her of the killer who, under the influence of Apollo, had launched a lucky arrow strike and murdered Achilles. Paris had exploited Thetis’ son’s one weakness, his human heel.
Though her husband and others had tried to prevent her from continuing on her rampage even they could not tame the wild aggression of the beast locked inside Thetis’ heart. The once protective and kind Thetis would never reach the surface again. Her ‘heel’ had been her son’s death and her failure to transform her precious one into a god at the River Styx. As the fates would have it the sea goddess turned Killer Queen did scour the realms on land forever more. She never found peace and her insatiable and wicked appetite for luring, killing and death consumed her brittle and fragile heart.
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