Acropolis is quiet at night; the only sounds audible belong to the distant tide brushing forward and backward against the sand; relentless, eternal. Greece sleeps under the light mantle of the night sky, illuminated only by the soft, surreal glow of the moonlight and the stars. One fire remains lit, though - the flame flickers within the building, dancing shadows chased away by a fiery yellow light. Tall marble columns hold the ceiling on their shoulders, a caricature of Atlas - destined to hold the weight of the world until the end of time.
Greece sleeps, but the priestess of the temple of Athena Nike remains well awake. She tends to the flames, and performs the daily rituals. Her lone steps echo in the room, the sound of the soles of her sandals against the stone floor diffracting until they fade into a fragment of their original melody - a breathless whisper.
The air leaves a salty taste on her tongue. Curious; seawater doesn't usually reach the temple.
Seawater has never tasted so vile. She smells it all over her body, and the taste of it is mixed with that of her own tears. Blood and bile and acid threaten to rise from her throat, and it burns to swallow the thick black mixture down. The tide is quiet now, and the constant sound of it at the distance mocks her ears. The hate of the gods can be terrible, but their want can be just as devastating; the evidence for it lies sobbing on the stone floor of the temple of Athena Nike.
Exhibit A: The priestess holds her naked legs to her chest, shaking uncontrollably. She eyes the flames she lit, and thinks it would be better to burn and cremate the body taken by the ocean than it would be to smell the salt that sticks to her skin for a second more.
Her goddess speaks to her ear, then. It's a sweet whisper, clever and passionate and infinitely sorrowful. The two have talked before, but Athena's voice has never been clearer. The priestess begs for safety, for protection, for something that will prevent this cruel tragedy from happening to her ever again.
First, Athena gives her priestess a new name; 'From now on,' the loving, divine whisper tickles the girl's ear, 'you shall be Medusa.' It is only appropriate that she is renamed, for that night the priestess is born anew.
The goddess weaves the girl's hair into braids, which coil and take life under the careful touch. Scales bloom where once soft hair existed, and when Athena kisses the girls' head, the snakes awake. They are connected to Medusa in soul and body, and they feel her pain. Dozens of small flickering tongues brush against the priestess' cheeks, peppering small kisses on her skin. Medusa shall never be alone. She joins the priestess' legs together, the same set of scales spreading until they form a long tail. A bulb forms on the very end, and when she moves it rattles.
Careful godly fingers shut the girls' eyes delicately, and a moment later she opens them again. The brown iris is the same thick almond colour it was before, for it was not her eyes that were changed - simply the use Medusa can give them. This is the most powerful weapon she can gift; men will know to never underestimate a glance.
Medusa falls forward, hugging the incorporeal body of her goddess, feverishly thanking her between hysterical sobs.
Those who think Athena cursed her priestess the night Poseidon defiled her temple are fools.
Monstrosity was never a curse, but a gift.
Medusa lives in a cavern, and she sculpts her own palace between rocky formations. The smell of salt has almost completely vanished. On the days where the scent still lingers, parasitic, she wonders if she could turn the whole sea to stone.
A man ventures into her home. There have been others in the past, but their granite remains now decorate the halls of Medusa's tunnels. Her goddess had never warned about a danger before, but now she does. Perseus, he is called, and although he is smart he is still a man. All those who pursue her shall share the same fate.
The hero's companions die quickly, and with her strong tail, she knocks their statues to the ground so they shatter. Perseus wears a shining shield, though, and is quicker than the rest. Medusa has never seen herself; curiosity overtakes her. She slithers on the rocky ground until she's close, and examines her reflection on the bronze polished surface. Tears swell at her eyes.
By all gods, she is beautiful.
A sharp blade cuts through her neck as she stands overwhelmed. Her last thought is stronger and more beautiful than the work of all poets who have ever lived - it is the purest declaration of devout, eternal love that the world has ever witnessed.
Athena weeps in Mount Olympus.
for OhBaloney's villain story contest. hopefully you'll enjoy reading!
i have always fancied medusa's life a bit of a tragedy. she is always presented as the evil, disgusting creature who refuses to die (until Perseus comes along). i honestly find her to be a very admirable villain. i hope i did her justice with this.
(catch those athena/medusa undertones)