Read part one here.
What goes out, must return.
When she had first seen the sea, she was only an infant. Swaddled in a silent priestess’ robes, she greeted the monotonous crash and withdrawal of the water with a sharp cry.
She had not known of the sea, of its power. Its life-sustaining essence. She only knew of the sound, the constant roar of in and out. She would come to love it, to understand how all that was and will come to be is the bounty of the sea. Sustenance and beauty fused by raw power.
What comes in, must go out.
Since she could walk, she would leave the monastery and climb the highest cliff towering over the sea. As a child she would pretend she was in control. She would pretend to be the village magician, cuing the in and out of the sea. As age and wisdom came, she could only look at the younger orphans playing as she had decades ago. Their hands waving out and in.
Thick black brushstrokes covered the monastery floor to ceiling depicting each legend of the sea. Stories of the village’s history, of grand heroes, of the Sea and the Lover.
She adored the sea. It provided life for her village and it provided purpose for her. Wisps of gray wove into the cascade of murky brown hair, spilling onto her shoulders. The robes wrapped around her body were of soft silk, swaddling her as the fabric had in her youth, but the robes, like the monastery’s floor, was ordained with gorgeous brushwork faded by centuries of wash and wear.
Since she had become high priestess, the robes had never left her body besides washing. Each mud stain or water spot was a moment in time suspended in the tapestry of ages. Each priestess left their mark until the Great Return would wash the island and the robes clean.
It was coming. The temperature had dropped drastically. Goosebumps pockmarked her arms. It had been days since the last of the birds had flown to the continent. The island dwellers had watched the tide recede for over a week until even their lenses lost the outrush of water.
But now it came. Sea air blew in on escalating winds that had once tickled her cheek now whipped the robes behind her, snapping like the taut flags flying inland.
He came. A torrent of violent, frothing water miles high. An awe-inspiring, rapturous God come to life. He creeped along the barren seabed once filled with vibrant life, now a graveyard. Broken spines of whales and whalers left behind littered the blackened sands. But now, they were lifted, swept up by His onslaught.
And she watched. Her hands out, like the orphans, like in her childhood, welcoming Him. She pulled Him closer, knowing the tide would only come in once more for her.
The Sea God, embroidered over millennia on every square inch of her robes was there, an unnerving face of violence, of rapture, of ecstasy, of vileness. Stretching the entire length of the horizon, the twisted face judged the Island, finding their debauchery despicable. So he destroyed it. Swallowed it whole.
He left her for last. The last priestess. His last priestess. His prize. He felt her love, her adoration. A radiating, enthralling pulse of emotion nurtured over a lifetime free of distraction and vice.
The waters swirled around her in a whirlpool of confusion. The God, uncertain of what to do, the priestess already accepting her fate. She waited. The God hesitated.
The whirlpool collapsed, but the water never touched her. She was swept upward, her hands still outstretched. There was no surprise on her face, only calm acceptance. She did not understand her fate, but it was not her place to ask.
Up she rose, above the water, above the already returning birds, above the clouds. Higher she rose, watching the blue of the sky fade to darker blue, then to a black darker than night. Above the very crest of the heavens as they too came crashing back into the sky, rushing in a torrent of light.
And there He was. The Man of the Sea. Waiting for her. Receiving Her. And She saw Him as He was, a rushing, swirling pillar of water in the shape of a man. He smiled. He held His hand out.
She reached out. They touched. And together, They ruled: The Man of the Sea and The Lady of the Land.