Stone Heart

Piazza Navona Fountain Francisco Gonzalez flickr - REV

Photo credit:  Francisco Gonzalez (cropped)



Back when Haranna was poor, an earthquake exposed a magnificent gold vein there.  Karna Galk hosted a feast. Everyone cheered, praising Akjat, God of Fortune.  Akjat smiled.

Galk rebuilt the castle, draped himself in gold-cloth, counted his coins.

The priests of Haranna’s mountain goddess warned him: “Remember your duty, or be lost.”

Galk lied: “I will.”  A tiny part of his heart turned to stone.

Akjat whispered in Galk’s ear: “Take more.”  Galk nodded eagerly.  He pushed the gold miners, careless of casualties.  He took more of the crops, and kept the profits, while his karn went hungry.  He sold criminals as slaves, and then dissenters, too.

Each time, the stone in his heart spread.

When the gold mine faltered, Akjat whispered: “Dig into the sacred mountain.  What has that puny goddess given you that I have not?”

Galk couldn’t resist.  He reached out in supplication.  But the thought alone turned the last of his heart to stone, and his body followed.

The statue of Galk remains in Haranna, to remind them that the god of fortune is also the god of greed.  They honor their mountain goddess and share their wealth.  And when Akjat whispers, they do not listen.



Word count: 200.  Written for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge.   Big thanks as always to Alistair Forbes for hosting, and to Sally-Ann Hodgekiss for providing the original prompt photo, below:

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Photo © Sally-Ann Hodgekiss



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23 thoughts on “Stone Heart

    • Thanks, Eric, I’m so glad it hit you that way. I was thinking of it like a local legend, a cautionary tale they tell — while pointing to the statue in the square — to explain something important about their values. I really like taking an image like a statue or painting and making up an entirely different legend to fit it as well as I can (did you notice that he’s sitting on a pile of gold coins?). For this one, I had to cut a line for the sake of word count that I think you might like: “And his extravagant clothing and jewelry fell from him as he turned to stone, leaving him naked except for his greed.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh! I do like that line. That’s beautiful prose. I think you could’ve been forgiven for leaving it in.

        And you’re absolutely right about mythology. It teaches the values of the culture. You know how it works and I think that’s why your mythology feels so authentic.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. A great story, with a real message. You’ve used the prompt of the stone statue really well to convey the idea of Galk’s heart gradually hardening and turning to stone as his greed increased. As others have said, the story reads like a myth, together with the gods, good and bad. Beautifully written. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for such a sweet comment, Millie, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I end up writing a lot of character-driven stories, which I like, but I keep getting drawn back to these myths and legends — the stories that the various people of Eneana tell that illustrate who they are and what they believe. And then, of course, I always wonder how much of a grain of truth the story has, and how different the true story it was originally based on might have been… and next thing you know, I have another character-driven story.

      Like

    • Thanks Alistair! You’re right — although some of the gods are more trouble than others. Akjat goes by many names, but in all of them, he’s a god of wealth and power and worldly success – and that’s a double-edged sword.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sammi, I’m glad you think so! I tend to think of rich description as being beautiful, and my ideas are usually so plot-driven; it’s nice to think that that can seem beautifully written too.

      Liked by 1 person

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