by James Hensley
Horns crash into the snow. Crows gather around the fresh carcass of the starved goat on the summit of Aselinon Oros. Deep inside the mountain, another once great soul slowly wastes away and awaits the crows that will one day pick his bones. Silence ruled the high arched frozen chambers of Boreas, the Winter God. God: every utterance of the word stabbed another thorn into his frosted heart. He was pleased he no longer resided on Olympus with the backstabbers and manipulators. They were not his family.
Tiny footsteps echoed off the smooth and translucent carved ice walls of the grand hall.
Boreas’ servant, Diokonos quietly cleared his throat before speaking. “Lord, you have a visitor.”
Boreas, seated in his crystalline throne, took his time as he lifted his head form the pale hand it rested upon. His unkempt white hair fell over his eyes. He stared at the small elderly man, his ice blue stare creating a layer of frost wherever his gaze fell.
“What?” he said finally. “Another ‘hero’ requires my help on his noble quest? Or does some silly philosopher wish me to tell him what life is all about?” He tossed his head to one side, bored by the entire idea.
“No sir. This time it’s—“
“This time it’s me,” said a familiar female voice, deftly silencing the timid majordomo.
For the first time in ages, Boreas sat at full attention. His heart thrummed against the frozen carapace of his chest. His white-blue eyes followed every graceful step.
“Surprised to see me, Lord Boreas? asked Amphitrite, sea goddess and wife of Poseidon.
He was not sure how to respond to her unexpected appearance. The allure of her exquisite beauty still held sway over his heart. Her lustrous green hair, entwined with small sea shells, framed her slender neck in a way he still found irresistible; a garden he’d often become lost in for days, but old feelings ignited the pain of fresher scars.
“I am surprised to see you without your husband.”
A hint of sadness crossed the pale turquoise features of her elegant face.
“Why have you come to my court, Amphitrite? You and I have no more business together.”
Amphitrite ignored the implications of his words. She resolved to stay true to her purpose.
“I have come to extend an offer.”
This perplexed Boreas. “And what could you possibly have to offer me that I would deem of use, fair Amphitrite?
“With the blessing of our Lord, Zeus, I have come to extend the offer of your return to your rightful home; Olympus.” She bowed low to Boreas, her white robes billowing against the mirrored floors.”
Boraes stared hard at Amphetrite until a small chuckle escaped his frigid lips; a chuckle that transmuted into howls of laughter so loud it shook the great ice walls of his chamber and dislodged small ice daggers from the ceiling.
“You dare laugh at me,” she spat.
Boreas assumed control over his amusement. “This is your offer, dear Amphetrite? You know as well as I that I left Olympus of my own choosing. What would give you to the belief that I would return.”
“Because it is your home, the home of all the Gods, and where you belong,” she said. “Isolated in this barren chamber is no way for a God to live.”
Boreas leaned forward in his throne and narrowed his eyes at Amphetrite. “Really? And this is the only reason you wish me to return?”
She avoided his gaze. “Yes.”
“Well I’m afraid I cannot oblige. This is my kingdom.”
This time it was Amphetrite’s turn to laugh. “Kingdom you say? And who do you rule over, great and powerful Boreas? Your kingdom indeed. You wallow in your melancholy, doling out advice and false prophecies to mortals who foolishly believe you a diviner.”
“It’s better than they deserve for turning their backs on me!” he thundered as he slammed his fist hard on the arm of his throne. “They’ve all but forgotten me.”
“The mortals would remember you if you would only remind them,” she said softly, in an attempt to placate his wild temper.
Boreas slumped back in his seat and stared off, as if through a window that did not exist. “I sank four-hundred Persian ships for their sake. It is their duty to remember, not mine to remind them.”
Amphetrite climbed the ice carved steps that led to the throne and seated herself upon the uppermost step. She gently placed her hand atop his, but he withdrew from her grasp as if her hand were an adder as he stood and descended the dais.
“Is this the only reason you’ve come? To tease me with my shortcomings and invite me to return to a home that is not mine?” He turned back toward her once he reached the bottom and fixed her with an accusatory stare. “Or perhaps you’ve come to remind me of my greatest defeat.”
Her head hung low at his assertion. “Will you never forgive me? It was a natural marriage, but not one I desired.”
“But not one you contested!”
“It was decreed by Zeus. Who am I to rebel against his word?” She stood and her expression hardened once more. “And what of you? What did you do to contest our union?”
“Who am I to defy the great Zeus? he asked, his tone laced with mockery.
His slight did nothing to wilt her resolve. “You are the lord of the north winds. Even the great Posieden’s domain bends to your will.”
“Poseidon is the brother of Zeus. You believe he would have taken my side in the matter?”
“You are a child of the skies; one of his favorites. He would have listened to you, may still listen to you.”
Still? The word echoed throughout his mind and left him speechless. Years of bitter feelings dissolved, replaced by distant possibility. Their eyes locked. Their gaze transmitted several unspoken sentences of understanding back and forth.
A loud crash echoed through the grand halls, which broke their stare. Heavy footfalls reverberated along the same hallway Amphitrite entered through moments ago.
“So this is where my wife sneaked away to,” said Poseidon as he made his entrance into the main hall.
Amphitrite offered a weak smile. “Hello, my husband.”
Poseidon stomped toward Borean and gave him a heavy slap on the shoulder. “Zeus tells me that Amphitrite has come to bring you home, Borean. Seems to me you’ve already found yourself the perfect place.”
“Indeed. This is my home now, Poseidon. I do not intend to return to Olympus.”
“It is just as well,” Poseidon said as he smoothed down his long beard. “You seemed unhappy before you departed.”
“Yes, I was quite unhappy.” he returned, not that his exodus improved his condition.
“Speaking of Olympus and departing. I believe it is time for us to head home, Amphitrite. I trust you two enjoyed your time reminiscing.”
Borean and Amphitrite looked to each other with shared regret. Each gave a weak nod.
“Good!” bellowed Poseidon, completely oblivious to their expression. “Come, my wife. Let us return home and give Borean his peace.”
Poseidon was already making his way back down the hall as Amphitrite descended the dais with sorrow etched into her beautiful features. She passed Borean without a glance, but stopped short of the hall.
“If you care about me, now or in the past, you’ll come home,” she said before she made her exit.
Borean stared down the hallway for a few moments. He fought the urge to reach out and grab what was no longer there. A brief moment of righteous intent evaporated. His shoulders slumped as he mourned a moment lost. He returned to his thrown and assumed his normal doleful position. His head rested on his hand with half closed eyes.
The longer he sat, the harder his missed opportunity fought to surface in his mind. And the more he thought of the moment, the more he realized perhaps nothing has been missed.
“Perhaps the circumstances have just been altered,” he said to himself as he lifted his head from his hand and high into the air. “Or perhaps it is time I alter the circumstances.
“Diakonos!” he yelled as he shot to his feet. “Diakonos!”
“Yes, master,” said his servant as he entered the hall.
“Bring my stallions around. I believe it is time to return home.”
James Hensley is originally from Baltimore, MD, but now resides in Murray, KY. He graduated from Murray State University with a theatre degree and has written and directed several one act plays. It wasn’t until 2011 that he discovered his true passion for writing. His favorite authors include Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. When he’s not writing, James continues his intense research on the yellowish goo at the bottom of Spam cans.