Demanding Dive

Sometimes you choose. Sometimes you are chosen.

27.6. 543

Photo credit: Daniel Dietrich



Amman’s small boat rocked gently on the deep blue water. The cliffs of Evarren rose high behind him, towering bleak rocks ever in shadow, and the wild Unpassable Forest guarded the distant shore. But here, in the center, the lake was warm and inviting. Other than the lack of fish. Amman had rowed right to this spot by instinct, sure that it was right, but nothing had so much as nibbled.

He prayed to Xangan, opening his heart to her depths, his hand dipped in the water, sun beating on his closed eyes. The familiar feeling filled his chest—cold, wet, peaceful. So immense. So beautiful.

Something grabbed Amman’s hand and tugged. He had only enough time to yelp before he was overboard. Wielding his knife in his other hand, he prepared to fight off whatever sea creature this might be. His eyes gaped. He remained captive, but the water was clear.

While he struggled, uselessly, the unseen force dragged him deeper.  Soon he could see the bottom. Amman had dived enough to know his endurance, and he was running out of time. He calmed himself, hoping to save what strength he had left. If the invisible monster freed him, he might still return to the surface in time. If it was Xangan’s will that he drown, so be it.

Then he spotted it, sparkling, on the lake bed—a necklace of green gems, around the neck of a half-buried skeleton. The same as those worn by the water priests and priestesses. For a moment he forgot his own dilemma. He must return it to the temple. Was it blasphemy to touch it? He had no choice. With his thoughts churning madly, Amman didn’t realize he was free until he reached forward. He grasped the necklace, pulling the dangling ends away from the skeletal neck.

A fierce current yanked at the necklace. Amman flailed, grabbing at it. It flitted back and forth, and then somehow was around his neck. The central gem affixed itself to his bare chest, burning cold.

This was blasphemy, he was certain. The urge to inhale intensified, overwhelming doctrinal concerns. If he didn’t get to the surface quickly, his last act would be stealing a sacred amulet from a corpse.

Movement below him caught his eye. The skeleton shifted, its bony hand flitting up almost like a wave, and it sunk into a crevice in the mud, disappearing.

Glancing up, the shimmering sun seemed ages away. Amman pumped his arms and legs but it was no use. His lungs were bursting. It was too late. He prayed to Xangan. Take me if you will.

A thought came to him. Just breathe.

Amman was at the end. He inhaled, wondering how much it would hurt to drown. But no. He breathed in, his lungs filling, impossibly, with air. He exhaled and inhaled again, his swimming rhythm easing as his desperation ebbed.

Breaking the surface, Amman made his way to his boat and pulled himself in. The lake was calm, normal. Nothing betrayed his bizarre experience, or explained it. The green amulet was no longer cold. He cupped it in both hands to examine it. Oddly heavy, it pulled toward his chest, like a magnet. He returned it to its place there. Its correct place.

So quickly, a life changes.

All around him, colors flashed. The fish had returned, in numbers. He smiled. Soon he would have to go to the temple, explain this, hope they believed him. For now, he would fish.

Amman dipped his hand into the water and prayed to Xangan. Take me if you will.

A ripple tickled at his fingers. It might have been a fish. But he thought not.

 



Inspired by the Blog Propellant’s Picture Prompt #48.  Thanks for the inspiration, LRose!  The challenge was to write a story with the theme “against my will” and one of the two photos, including the one shown below.   I love this photo, but the resolution wasn’t high enough when I blew it up larger for my header.  😦

BP.mark-tipple-underwater-project-the-telegraph

Photo © Mark Tippler



 

 

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14 thoughts on “Demanding Dive

  1. What an interesting experience for Amman. I don’t think he was expecting to be drawn towards a priestesses necklace and have it connect to him like a magnet. And it seems to give him some kind of power as he can breath underwater then and the fish come right to the boat. I hope the temple understands, the necklace or the spirit of the last priestess who died wearing the necklace, chose him. Excellent. Exciting story.

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    • Thanks, glad you enjoyed it! Yes, it was definitely an unusual experience, and very shocking I’d think — to almost drown and then find a completely different ending happening instead. In Eneana, clerics cast divine spells that their deity has placed in their head. I figured if you’ve just become a cleric of a water goddess, the first spell she’d give you would be the ability to breathe underwater. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Engaging! I’m so pleased the people of Eneana have found themselves occasionally propelled into TBPs world.
    I deliberately downsize images so that they’re just big enough for a prompt, but too small to be misused for commercial purposes, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Since it was around the neck of a skeleton, it’s logical that it came down with the corpse — presumably who used to be a priest or priestess. As to how the body got into the lake… Could have been a water burial. Or maybe an old priestess decided to end her life in the water as one last communion with her goddess. Or maybe the priest was murdered and tossed there. Almost endless possibilities!

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  3. That was incredibly dramatic and evocative! I was right there in the boat and the water. I was there with the struggle and the confused fast decision-making. The story raises so many questions! Will we get answers? Will there be more? I would love to know more! And I am happy that the story has a bit of a happy ending, at least so far!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you enjoyed it Heather, thanks for commenting! This is the problem with flash fiction, it always seems to raise more questions about what happens next. But then, that’s not really a problem, especially if it means I’m hooking my readers in! As is almost always the case, I hadn’t expected to write anything more about this character. But now I’m wondering myself what the rest of this story is…

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  4. Well, what a lovely story, Joy – thrilling and magical. A whole new life has opened up for Amman – but will he lose his powers once he’s returned the amulet? I do hope not. The amulet seems to have chosen him, surely that means something. Thanks for sharing this

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lynn! I think the amulet has chosen him, and the other clerics are going to have to accept that. After all, the amulet was down there for a long time before it called someone down to it.

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