Short Story by S Cu' Anam Policar

Neptunes Tribute
S Cu' Anam Policar

     The storm raged outside. She'd watched the thunderheads roll in since sunrise. She shook her head in dismay and dove back into the now dark depths of the sea, her tail a rapid blur as she dove deeper and deeper to the safety of her territory.
     Delphina was rarity in her neck of the woods. Fortuna, the wisest of the pod had told the others upon Delphina's birth that she was special. That never stopped the others from making fun of her. Delphina took it all with a grain of salt so to speak. Fortuna had not been joking though. Delphina could tell things just from the way the sky looked; and today, today it spoke of death.
     Reaching a large cave just off the coast of her pod's territory, Delphina quickly made her way inside. Something in her mind had nagged at her for days to check the old writings on the walls of the ancient cave. This place served all the dolphins, such as this strange one as a sort of library, a place to gain knowledge. Combined with the writings and her innate ability to read the sky, Delphina had never been wrong, though no one in the pod knew this. She had not once ever revealed anything she knew to anyone except Fortuna. 
     Like all times when the "Martyr" clouds rolled in, the library told Delphina who would be Neptune's tribute that year. This year, however, the writings refused to divulge any of their secrets. Frustration creased every normally smooth feature on Delphina's face as she scanned and rescanned the writings on every wall, but the name of the tribute was nowhere to be seen.
     Feeling her lungs about to burst, she rocketed up to the surface. She told herself it was just to see how much time remained. After all, she hadn't been down there long enough to need air yet. Had she? A cant of her head as she surfaced lost in her thought of time. 
     A loud clap of thunder drew her from her thoughts before she had learned the answer. Her steel grey pools widened in fear. The time was much closer than she had thought it would it be!
     She dove back into the water and as fast as her flippers could carry her, she sped toward Fortuna's spot in the territory.
     "Fortuna! It's Martyr Clouds! Neptune is early for his tribute!" Delphina squeaked.
     Fortuna nodded her head in acknowledgement. "I know. Have you learned who the tribute will be this year?"
     Delphina shook her head in misery. "No. The wall wouldn't tell me."
     A sad smile crossed Fortuna's face. "Perhaps then, not all things are meant to be known. You should go back up to the surface. I'll accompany you. Perhaps together we'll find out who Neptune has chosen to grace his court this year."
     Delphina could only nod in compliance. She knew better than to argue with Fortuna, even if she knew that from the surface, they would be the last to know who Neptune had chosen.
     As the two swam at a steady pace to the surface, Delphina's mind roamed. She never understood why Fortuna considered the yearly martyr clouds to be a good thing. Or why she always said that whoever was taken was chosen to sit at Neptune's court. If it was not for the fact that the clouds only came once a year and that when they came one of them died, she would not even believe Neptune existed! But, she held no love for the Patron God of her people. How could she possibly love or respect a god that took her friends and family away one by one every year, even if they were not sick?
     The two dolphins crested the surface and looked to the skies. 
     A soft sigh left Delphina. "It'll be soon won't it Fortuna?"
     Fortuna nodded solemnly. "Yes. It's too bad the library refused to tell you who would be next. It can be very fickle sometimes."
     Delphina looked to Fortuna quizzically. "How can a wall in the cave be fickle? It isn't alive!"
     Fortuna chuckled. "My dear Delphina! So much you don't know! The Library, while a cave, is very much alive. Have you never noticed the writings are different every time? How it knows the exact information you need as soon as you walk in?"
     "Of course I have. I just figured that's how it got its name..." Delphina said a bit sheepishly before asking. "Where did it come from?"
     Fortuna with her steely gaze on the vast expanse of the incoming storm spoke softly. "No one knows. The Library has been here far longer than any of us have been. It has always been there to teach and guide us."
     Before Delphina could ask another question, and Neptune knows she had about a million of them, the storm clouds parted, save for a strip of them which trailed like tendrils stopping a few feet from Delphina and Fortuna's positions as they bobbed in the water.
     Delphina's depths widened as the cloak figure walked along the cloud carpet. "W-What is that?"
     "That is the Undertaker...Death himself. Humans call him the Grim Reaper. The one who claims Neptune's chosen tribute." Fortuna answered without a trace of fear.
     The undertaker's face was well concealed within the confines of the robes ebon hood, not even his eyes visible to either of the dolphins. His voice was a deep, low baritone as he spoke. "Delphina, it is time."
     Delphina's mind raced. "No it can't be! I'm too young! I don't want to go!" Everything became ethereal as she was lifted from the water. Her fins and tail flailing futilely. "Fortuna! Don't let him take me!"
     "It is Neptune's will Delphina. I'll join you soon." Fortuna replied as she slowly sank back under the water.
     Delphina felt betrayed. Fortuna had known it was her all along and had not told her. Now it was over, she was too young to die!
     As the world around her became more and more ethereal, she felt her body tingle. Whether she liked it or not, she would join the tributes that had come before her as part of Neptune's court. Her last thought was, "At least it's painless", before her body burst into millions of specs of water, which were quickly gathered up by the Martyr clouds.



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Comments

  1. Love these stories you write Cu. WHERE do you come up with these ideas??

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    1. Thank you for stopping by. Good luck on winning, and come back tomorrow for a new author.

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    2. LOL I have no idea where they come from Bridgette they just tend to pop up in my head

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  2. Thank you so much Cu for being on the blog. Love the story. It was a treat to read.

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  3. Wow what an amazing giveaway. Thank you so much for all the offers! bookpromosandgiveaways(at)gmail(dot)com

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