Gurara Waterfalls, from Google Maps
All my life, I’ve sung prayers to Nepalka, the river god. Taught by my grandfather, taught by his beforehand. I never thought to meet Nepalka.
This spring, the waterfall burst early. The fish jumped towards our nets, our boats, our shore. What bounty! A face appeared below the surface. Who else could it be?
The clan celebrated at water’s edge, tossing flowers and fruit and lucky fish tails, chanting joyously. In the chaos, two children were lost. Swept downstream, we thought.
Later, a fisherman went missing. Then another. The fish disappeared, and the water birds. No sounds but the churning, muddy water.
I hobbled in, placed the sacrifice basket, chanted supplications. The face rose, exposing tentacle arms, eelish body.
It grabbed me, pulled me under. I’d failed my clan.
My last thought was of my fleeing grandchildren. I wondered what prayers they would learn, to which god, of which river.
Word count: 150. Written for this week’s What Pegman Saw challenge. Click the link to read the other stories written for this location/image, or to join in!
The photo is of the Gurara Waterfalls in Nigeria. As the Gurara river was named after two gods, Gura and Rara, I was tempted to make the story about the Eneana deity Ranamanar, who resulted from the joining of two deities, Ranam and Manar. But Ranamanar is a deity of love, and when I saw this fiercely rushing, muddy water, I knew my story had to be about fear and death.
So instead, I’m giving a bit of insight into the fey of Eneana. Cultural depictions across the Triune (the continent we’re on now) show river and sea fairies, or nymphs, as having the heads and torsos of beautiful women merged into a bottom half of a fish or eel, usually with two or three arms on each side. Hmm, I guess if you squint? These misrepresentations result from very hopeful thinking or illusion magic, which fey can use to lure stupid humans closer. The reality, as hinted at here, is much uglier and meaner. I had to cut much of the description, like when the mouth opened wide to show double rows of teeth in a parody of a smile, and how the body rose from the water impossibly far, moving sinuously side to side like a snake, hypnotizing the viewers.
Seriously, just don’t mess with the fey in my world. The bards-tales are deceiving. It’s not worth it.