I love the way storytellers today pull us into the perspective of different characters. Writers put us right at the shoulder of one character after another letting us see events through their eyes. Even placing us in the skin of a character we don’t like is powerful. The texture of their reality can help us see what is truly at stake.
As I worked through my story Moon of the Goddess, I began with the captured princess Thalassai. She wakes from a dream in the dark and panics when she realizes she has been kidnapped. We follow her struggle to hold herself together and to find strength.
As Thalassai imagines her brother Melanion racing to her rescue, I figured the reader wanted to see him too. Their father sends a fleet after her, but her brother knows she may be killed if there is a direct confrontation. So he rides in secret to get to her before the fleet and find a way to free her.
As the underlying conflicts of the story got more complicated, I found that we needed to see what was happening in the kidnappers’ home.
Too many shifts in point of view can be confusing, but the story told in Moon of the Goddess needed to be seen from these three vantage points. I never make you fit inside the skin of the evil characters, though there are some. Hope you enjoy the shape of the story!
Thalassai, pampered princess of ancient Tiryns, wakes from a dream and discovers she has been kidnapped. Her fear grows to terror when she realizes her kidnappers intend to use her as a pawn to gain Poseidon’s aid for their valley. The mother goddess, who in the past sustained the valley, calls a bloodred harvest moon into the spring sky. She will challenge Poseidon for the allegiance of her people and assist the princess.
Thalassai’s brother Melanion rides north to rescue her, and finds allies among the servants of the goddess. Slowed by bandits, Melanion is forced to take a tunnel under the mountains even though earthquakes have rendered it hazardous. He skirts the edge of Hades’ kingdom as he races to reach his sister in time. Caught between the mother goddess and the rising power of Olympus, will Thalassai break under the strain or find the strength she needs to stand up to her captors?
Set in the days of Helen of Troy and the great heroes of Greece, this story takes the reader on a fast paced journey across the sun-drenched landscape of Homer and deep into darkness.
Here is a hint of what happens; this is the second day of the princess Thalassai’s captivity:
A breath of air woke Thalassai from her doze. The afternoon wind was rising. She looked through the open door and saw that the rowers had pulled their oars from the water. The ship’s captain gave the order to unfurl the sail and called the same order across the water to the other boat. The rowers murmured with relief as they secured the oars and began the task of raising the sail. Thalassai knew that the seamen of her city looked forward to this time of day when the wind took over from their tired arms.
Another whiff of breeze reached her corner of the cabin, and Thalassai breathed deeply of the fresh sea air. The midday heat had been oppressive in the cabin, but she had not dared to step out of its shelter. On an ordinary trip, she would have spent the sun’s zenith under the awning that sheltered the men from the burning sun, encouraging their efforts, listening to her father discuss plans for trading at their destination. She ached for the warmth of companions she knew, for the care of her servant Diakonia and the strength of her father. How could she have been stolen from her home? Tears flowed down her cheeks. She leaned her head against the ship’s side and gave in to sorrow.
Eventually, Thalassai’s tears ran dry, and her body felt empty as a streambed in summer. Her head ached when she lifted it from the side of the boat. She rubbed her temples, trying to ease the pain, trying to think. The image of the goddess by the door caught her attention.
“Have you forgotten your promise to be strong?” The gentle whisper seemed to come from the image.
I prayed to be made strong, she thought. I didn’t promise. She shook her head at the idea that she argued with a statue, but she sat a little straighter.
“Focus on what is going to happen next,” whispered the warm, motherly voice.
Thalassai stared at the figure of the goddess. Of course, the wooden statue did not move, but the eyes were deep, and the open hands seemed to reach toward her. “I’m being taken to Ephyra, a city far from my home,” she whispered, “a city I’d never heard of before this prince and his companions arrived in Tiryns.” A thin blade of anger entered her voice. “There is nothing else to know.”
The shaft of anger focused her thoughts. She had known that the sail would go up as soon as she felt the afternoon breeze. She now knew the captain stood at the rudder on the cabin roof while the men with practiced hands worked the ropes and sailcloth. She knew that soon the sailors would lounge on the benches, stretching their arms and legs with one assigned to watch for rocks and for shifts in the wind. She wondered if a sailor would be stationed with the captain to watch for pursuit.
How far back would Melanion be, she asked herself. She pressed the heels of her hands against her eyes to hold back the tears and told herself to figure out what would happen next.
Water would be passed, and a light meal. Someone might bring her food. She tried vainly to smooth the wrinkles in her linen tunic. If someone came, she wanted to look more like a princess. On her father’s ship, one of the eldest would tell stories as they rested. No one would sleep, as the sailors needed to be alert for the sudden wind, which could make the ship heal and turn. Later, as the sun fell toward the horizon, they would head for shore to seek fresh water and food.
With that thought, Thalassai realized that the drink the sailor had given her had tasted stale. She remembered his comment that water was in short supply. She realized that the night before they had not found a stream to replenish their water jars.
What did that mean? Lines furrowed her brow as she tried to concentrate. Melanion would know, but she had sailed often enough. She should be able to figure out the implication. Yes, but we never went without water, she thought. Except once. There was one day when a sudden storm carried them past the village that had been their intended stop. They had spent the night anchored in the shelter of a cliff, and the next day, they rationed water. They stopped to fill their water jars at the first cove with a stream flowing into the ocean.
Thalassai moved to the edge of the bed and swung her legs over. The sailors might or might not bring her water now, but they would stop at a village or a stream even before dusk. This was a land the northerners did not know, and they dared not miss an opportunity to replenish their supply. She felt the ship leap forward and knew the sail was up and full.
She leaned to look out the door. Aphoron was still standing in the prow, looking up at the sail. He looked straight toward her, and she pulled herself back into the shadows. She told herself he could not see into the darkness of the cabin, but still she shivered. I am supposed to try to be strong, she thought. She got off the bed and stood straight, imagining how tall her father would stand. Aphoron walked toward her between the benches. Her legs shook. She put her hand on the bed to support herself.
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