Time and Tide (new version of Upon a Distant Tide)

I decided to rewrite a previous story, because that’s kinda what I do. I took out what I didn’t think fit. If people like this, I will write one more appropriate for Bardic spoken word (maybe even a song or poem).

Time and Tide

On the day of a mighty storm, a stranger in a deep blue cloak kissed a lovely, freckle-faced maiden three times as she lay dying. Her betrothed, a sailor, had gone away to buy the poultice that would save her, but the storm delayed him. He was a day late. His true love was dead, and he raged that fate had kept him from saving her. It was a cruel trick of the Old Gods, and he swore that he would travel to the Otherworld, plead to the Gods and bring her back to the living.

After three months of searching, the brave and heartbroken sailor traveled to Ynys Mon, the Sacred Isle, where the Romans once crushed the heart of the Druids. He found the famed Lake of Little Stones, the entrance to the Otherworld, and there he drank the henbane tea. He waded into the water and all went dark.

When he awoke, he was on a crystal ship sailing down a wide river. The sail was silver, the oarsmen mere shadows. At the prow was Mannanan Mac Lir, God of the Sea, patron of sailors, and ferryman to the Otherworld. “I know why you are here,” The god said, “But this is not your time.”

crystal ship

“Please,” the sailor answered. “My true love has been taken too soon.” And he spun the god the tale of his love, a woman of fiery hair and fiery soul, with kisses sweeter than sin, a woman that never needed saving until the day he was too late to save her.

“You wish her returned from Death. A bold request, young sailor.”

“I don’t ask for her return, only to let me try again. Give me the chance to save her.”

The God shook his head. “You cannot sail backward, and that love you dream of is upon a distant tide.”

PLEASE…please…” He gnashed his teeth. “It was your storm that stopped me.”

“Dare not accuse. I send many storms, and they crush the sick and sailors alike.”

The sailor pleaded, but the god was unmoved. He looked about, trying to find some way to convince him. His eyes fell on the shadowy oarsmen. The brave sailor threw an oarsman aside, grabbed the oar, and started rowing.

I will pull an oar for 100 years and a day if you return her. I swear it upon my soul!”

Mannanan Mac Lir smiled at the sailor’s boldness, but said No. “I will not take your oath. You cannot sail backward. Life and death, time and tide, belongs to the gods alone.”

The sailor sat puzzled at the God’s words and seethed at his denial.

Your offer pleases me,” the sea god said, “and I am rarely pleased. So I will grant you one boon. But be wary and wise, and remember what I have said. I will refuse what is not yours to have, and what you ask, you may not want.

The sailor thought hard, cutting through the choppy waves of rage and despair as they tossed him back and forth. And he heard the god’s words in his mind, “Sailing backwards. Time and tide.”

Finally, the sailor said “Time and tide rolls in and rolls out again, and this ship sails forward and backward. My request: Three months before now, please visit my love and give her kisses three: one for our love, one for our loss, and one for when we sail together in the Otherworld.”

The great god gave a knowing smile at the sailor’s request. “Agreed,” he said as he pulled back the hood of his deep blue cloak. The sky darkened into a mighty storm, the sailors rowed, and the ship turned about the way they came. The sailor lost his senses once more, awaking on the lake’s shore with faint memories and sickness from the henbane tea.

The sailor returned to his ship and never let the tide take him home. And though he saw great wonders and gained many stories to tell, he never forgot his boon from Mannanan, his lost love, and the mighty storm that took her.

doge in space card redux