Hear me well, lest you forget when the sea was not so hungry and the sky not so terrible.
When man was just learning to walk the ground, the gods fashioned mighty beasts to safeguard their creation, beasts whose wings could whip up storms and split asunder the vast waters. All the gods’ beasts descended on a world of rage and brought order. For a time, man could walk the land without fear of what lay beneath their feet or above their heads.
For a time.
The day came when the beast of the sea beheld the sky from his watery domain. He had travelled to the furthest reaches and the deepest depths of his waters; the ocean held no secrets from him. But the expanse above the waves stretched forever. The creatures who dwelt in the waters with him often broke through the surface of the water to taste the eternity above, if even for a moment, when he could not. For to cross into the sky would break the balance of the gods.
“Guardian of sky and wind, let me fly with you until there is nothing left in this world to discover.”
And so, the sea saw the sky and envied its infinity. His desiring created waves and pushed the tides against the land. Man saw the ocean’s approach and trembled, for the waters had never encroached upon the land farther than the gods had decreed.
The day came when the beast of the sky beheld the sea from her airy perch. Long years she had spent trying to reach the horizon, only to see it stretch ever beyond her grasp. She kept little company save for the smaller creatures who sometimes soared alongside her, but even they descended into the waters to eat and rest when she could not. For to cross into the sea would break the balance of the gods.
And so, the sky saw the sea and envied its company. Her desiring darkened the skies and whipped wind against the land. Man felt the gathering storms and trembled, for the skies had never darkened while the sun was still above the gods’ creation.
While the sea churned and the skies rumbled, the two beasts sought ways to enter each other’s realms. The beast of the sea watched his waves break higher and higher into the infinity he so craved. And as one of the waves crested, he saw the beast of the sky soaring over the chaos.
His heart leapt, and he called with all the might of the sea, “Guardian of sky and wind, let me fly with you until there is nothing left in this world to discover.”
For a moment, he thought the beast of the sky would pass him by without so much as a glance, but her ears had been turned to the sea as soon as she noticed the waves.
“Guardian of sea and wave,” came her reply, “let me stay with you until there is no creature in this world I have not known.” Her voice shook with the power of a thunderbolt. Above them, the sky twisted with gathering clouds. Day became night in a blink.
Without warning, the beast in the sky tucked her wings and dove for the sea. A flash of light crossed her path and sent her back to the skies. Fear filled the heart of the sea. Had the gods finally come to deny their creation’s cries?
“Come,” cried the beast in the sky. “Use the sea to raise yourself. The gods cannot mean to hold you forever.”
“But the gods have held you in place.” He lowered his head. “How can I hope to resist them?”
Hear me well, lest you forget…
Not until he felt water swirling about him did he look up. His desiring had won over his heart, and his power now bent the sea to his will. The beast in the sea rose with the waves until his body pressed against the surface.
The beast in the sky called to the wind and clouds, adding her power to his own. His waters raised him, and her storms blew away the surface that held him in place…
…until he burst through the water and felt open air.
His wings spread as he gloried in the freedom. Without the water to hold him, he faltered a moment under his own weight but caught himself long enough to gaze at the boundless heavens.
The beast in the sky circled above him. “Come with me,” she called with the joy of a spring wind. “Come see the world the gods have—”
He could not hear her joy, for a pillar of light fell from the heavens and struck him. The beast from the sea spun with the wind as the light blinded him to all else. When he stopped spinning, the gods still held him in place.
The beast in the sky roared, loosening all thunderbolts and rain and wind she could muster, but she only succeeded in tightening the gods’ grip. Soon, the beast from the sea began vanishing, his scales becoming flecks of light themselves.
Lost to all other hope, the beast in the sky hurled herself at the gods’ judgment, only to have the same pillar of light swipe her away. Long she wailed and raged against the gods, but soon the beast from the sea had disappeared into a swarm of light.
A voice shook the world. “Let him be as he wished to be.” And the gods hurled the swarm of light higher than she had flown. Ever beyond her reach did the light stay, an array of eyes twinkling in darkness.
The beast in the sky shrieked as the sea below quailed over the loss of its guardian. She raged and raged, whipping up a hurricane that swept the sea and sky away. All she saw was the blackness, the skies giving testament to her isolation at last.
Heed me well, lest you forget when sea and sky defied the gods and lost each other forever.
For more great mythical stories, check out the latest issue of Havok.
Meet the Author
J.A. Beaumont writes so he can try to get the worlds in his head out into the real world. Results vary. He writes so he can try to convey the beauty of story that has so captured his imagination. Results vary even more. To watch the wild experiment that is his writing, short-form or novel-length, catch him at his website, Words of Providence, or on Twitter @JABeaumont.