“The land belongs to me!” the god of earth bellowed at the wavering figure before him.
“Fine,” she murmured with a lazy wave of her pale hand, strolling back into the surf. Her dress swirled around her feet in the undulating waters. “The goddess of water has no use for your dirty dry land anyway.”
“Then stay off my sands!”
But she had already disappeared with a flurry of bubbles into the sparkling blue expanse of the ocean. He angrily drove the shells she’d left scattered back into the waves. Each day he carefully groomed the beach until its white sands shone, but the very next, her shells would be strewn across it again. He suspected she and the moon goddess were working together to torment him, laughing and shimmering in the darkness while they defiled his beach with oceanic decorations. Her soft laughter haunted him, floating out of the waves to him while he toiled to clear them away every morning. Today he finally caught her, stretched out in the sun, lazily sweeping colorful shells up onto the sands with a pale arm. The thin watery fingers of her streams digging their way down from the mountains, laughing and merrily tumbling toward the ocean, were nuisance enough. Leagues of earth demanded his careful tending, and he had no time or patience for her incessant laughter.
When the sands were returned to their pure sparkling glory, he began to retreat into the forest, but a rush of water rose up behind him. She slid across the sands with a merry gurgle, yanking at him and threatening to pull him back into the waves. At his command, sands opened beneath her, swallowing her feet, and she desperately wriggled away from their grasp, slithering back into the ocean. A string of shells had been left in her wake, and he kicked them after her with a growl. She stood up in the waves, glaring at him.
“Since when is the god of earth so ill-tempered? Your mood is as dark as your precious soil! You carry no greater claim to these shores than I!”
His earthen skin grew even darker with his anger at her impudence.
“It is here that your waters end and my earth begins, yet you continually press your way against it, seeking to take what is mine despite the leagues under your claim! Return to your watery kingdom, and leave me in peace.”
She tilted her head, sparkling and shimmering under the sun in her amusement.
“And when it rains—” she smirked, “when your precious land is covered with my veil. Does it still belong to you then?”
“Have you forgotten your oceans nestle in my hand?” he rumbled, the trees shivering in fear at his dark tone. “There is no place your waters lie that I do not hold them.”
All amusement disappeared from her pale face, and the spray of her waves drenched him, growing ever more violent with the rage incited at his words. She was as quick to anger as she was to laugh.
“Lies! Slander! My waves are stronger than your weak earth. Even the rocks break and crumble at their touch!”
“Ha!” the god of earth snorted. “Your waters have not the courage to face my land. Ever they run away, fleeing into the darkness of the earth, back to your oceans.”
The waters in the heavens grew dark and foreboding, rushing to their goddess and blocking out the face of the sun god who had been watching with a passive grin. Enraged by his insults, she clawed at the sands, dragging them back into her waters and eating away at his shore. A wave crashed into him, sending him tumbling into the writhing sand. Infuriated, he slammed a fist into the ground, sending a shudder through the earth. With a gasp, she tumbled into the waves as the land beneath the oceans cracked and shifted.
“That’s. It.” she hissed, as the molten earth pouring out from the rupture burned her waters. She threw herself back into the waves and gathering them around her, threw herself against the land with a roar of fury.
For weeks they battered at each other, waters rushing over the shore and down from the heavens, until even the sun god fled from their anger. The god of earth would not be moved, and the goddess of water would not relent. Finally, too exhausted to continue, they stopped to find themselves a league from the shore and stared in horror at the result of their quarrel. Water lay thick across the land, trapped there by soil too drenched to take any more. Mud grabbed at them both, threatening to drag them down, and the trees of a once lush forest were bent and broken.
Both grieved at the sight before them. Her pure clean waters were dirtied with his soil, and his strong solid earth was weakened by her waters. She bent her head to hide her shame behind azure tresses.
“Forgive my anger,” she murmured, finally subdued.
The god of earth, sobered and surprised by her unexpected apology, cursed himself for his own part in inciting this with hasty words.
“Did I harm you?”
Regret for his impulsive actions was short lived as she haughtily assured him he had not and could not; she was a goddess. Their previous argument was closely followed by another as they each tried to leave the management of the distressing result of their conflict in the hands of the other. Each god or goddess carefully tended to their domains and, neither wanting to claim responsibility for this new area, they proceeded to angrily debate who was the rightful owner. Harsh words and rising voices were interrupted by a sharp hiss, and they turned to see a great reptile cutting its way through the water towards them, leaving ripples with each lazy flick of its tail. They backed away in fear as it opened its great jaws to reveal shining rows of teeth, its eyes black and unblinking.
“I really must insist you take it,” the goddess of water pressed, her voice tremorous as she retreated as close to the shore as she could. “This is your soil.”
The god of earth struggled through the mud close behind her, dragging himself with a sigh of relief back onto dry land.
“I cannot accept. You should have it. These are your waters.”
Her face twinkled gaily as she turned to him with bright eyes and a mischievous smile replaced her pensive frown.
“Since we find ourselves at an impasse, perhaps I can suggest an alternative that is agreeable to both of us.”
A slow smile spread across his face as she poured out her idea, her voice bubbling with enthusiasm. Despite their differences, they shared an intense dislike of the goddess of plant life. She was always showing up where she wasn’t wanted, digging herself in and refusing to leave. Unfortunately, the sun god had a weakness for her, and they were forced to put up with her wanton behavior to appease him. Perhaps distracted she would stop coating the ocean floor with thick seaweed or filling open prairies with ridiculous numbers of flowers.
The god of earth bowed to the goddess of water, heartily supporting her idea, and taking his leave, planned to return to the tending of his earth.
“Wait!” a fearful voice called after him.
The goddess of water clung to the murky shore, watching him with terrified eyes, and he realized she couldn’t leave. The waves of her rage had receded, and dry earth now lay between her and her shores. While her waters were free to move where they pleased across his earth, she was not. Dark stains were already soaking into her once glistening dress. She bent her head to hide tears behind hair now stained with mud.
“I know I have done nothing to deserve your mercy, but please…do not leave me here. I will trouble your shores no more if that is your wish.”
Her terror moved him, and he wondered at her humbleness despite the fierce anger she had for him only moments ago. His own nature was one of eternal stubbornness, unwavering and unyielding, but the thin form curled up in the mud, once fierce and proud, softened his heart. He gently took her in his arms, carrying her through the forest back to the shores. The tall trees and dry earth were a mystery to her, and she admired her surroundings with wide-eyed wonder, laughing at the rustle of the leaves beneath his feet that sounded so like her waves. He took great pride in his work, and by the time they reached the edge of her waters, he found the figure in his arms a burden no longer. She brushed a kiss against his rough cheek before diving back into the frothy surf.
The goddess of plant life soon adorned her new domain with garlands of green, strewing leaves and flowers across the water, and with her work came such a horrifying array of insect and animal life that even the sun god disliked treading there. As she always had, the goddess of water returned to the shores each night, adorning them with shells and strands of seaweed. Though neither would admit it, for only the goddess of the moon was privy to their meetings and she would never tell, the god of earth would join her there, and the night would be filled with rustling laughter as they danced together under the soft shimmer of the stars. And in the morning when the sun god had lazily taken his place in the sky, the shells still lingered where she had placed them.
Writing lore is so much fun, especially when weaving in the laws and interactions that we observe in the natural world: light and darkness, earth and water, etc.
I want to start giving my work titles, but I swear that’s harder than the actual writing! What do you think a good title for this story would be?
More soon! Tomorrow is serial day!