The Legend of Poseidon
"Approach, child. Come, and sit with the others. Come and listen to an old tale." The old man gestured with his free hand. His other hand gripped a long cane carved with a relief of a gaping monster. Children had already gathered around him to listen to an ordinary folktale. Except the folktale he was planning on retelling was not exactly ordinary.
"Are you all ready?" The gnarly old man gripped his decorated cane with both hands, peering at his audience. "Now I have a question for you all. What makes a legend? Or even a myth? Would you believe an ancient story told countless of times, from person to person? Would you believe this story even if no one has ever written it down?"
No one replied. They knew this story off by heart. Although they've heard it countless of times, it was still a tale to behold. Even adults stood rapt in attention when a storyteller recounts the story.
"Would you believe a legend even though no one was there to witness it?" He spoke again, peering in all of the wide, attentive eyes. "I know I would, because it would be a story that needed to be told. It is something that wants to be known even if it suddenly appeared. Out of thin air, no explanations. Sometimes the real story can be hazy, because of people telling and telling it over and over again. Just like glass buried in sand. So how about I start with the story that everybody knows?" His old, gray eyes caught those of a curious, almost skeptical, soul. "It'll be interesting, I promise."
There was once an island, located beyond the point of where ships would sail. This island was rich and beautiful, full of life and wonders. No man has ever set foot on that island, and yet… buildings, towers, palaces covered the coast and the heart of the island. No tools made by man ever made their way to this island, and yet… bells, carriages, contraptions would line the streets along the port and scattered throughout the wonderful and mysterious town. No tongue of man has ever graced the shores of this island, and yet… laughter, song, conversation would echo through the trees and buildings of this hidden paradise. No man. No adult has ever set eyes on this island, and yet… everyone knew of its existence. Laughter would reach our shores; soft and light almost like bells. The laughter ringing and dancing among the waves would trick and convince sailors that there were children playing and tumbling on the surface of the churning sea. The island of Atlantis, paradise and haven on this Earth, unreachable by man. No, this island was special. For it was not reachable by adult men. It was only ever reachable by those who were left at sea for Poseidon to claim. Those who were lost and abandoned left at the mercy of the currents, monsters and fate. Of course, fate guided those who were saved by Poseidon. And for those who were saved were taken to Atlantis, where others like themselves found life and were reclaimed as citizens of the island. However, there are those who tested fate and monsters and rode the waves and occasionally dolphins and end up washing up on the beach or in the port of the island. They were always found within hours of arriving. After all, children are very curious creatures.
Now this story takes place 300 years ago, when the sky turned dark and the sea battered the coasts. No one knows why, or how but the legend of beautiful Atlantis almost… disappeared. It would have completely, if it were not for Poseidon battling the waves and the winds and the lightning to reach the mainland. It was as if an almost obsessive feeling over took it and struggled to deliver its wards to the safety of solid land. No one knows what happened to its home or how it managed to reach the coast in one piece. But the story tells us that it was not alone. A giant sea monster, angry and hungry, attacked at poor Poseidon snatching up whatever it could get its giant jaws around. By the time its passengers could see the tree tops of solid land, two of Poseidon's masts had already gone, swallowed by a merciless ocean, blood soaked the stairs leading to the captain's quarters and the top deck. One would almost believe the ship to be a being in its own right, the way it skillfully rode the waves and dodging most of the monster's attacks. Of course, one would have not been able to see that very skillful and able sailors on its decks. Most would be crying, some had weapons and others acted as the leaders, shouting out orders and attempting to save the rest of the ship from the battering monster and violent sea.
One in particular had a small, bloodied doll tucked in their belt. They were at the helm, shouting out commands to those defending against the fangs of the beast. Tears ran unchecked and unnoticed down their face, tired and exhausted from the insane trip from hell. They could tell that the ship would not be able to make it to shore, the tides were against them and hull had been breached a while ago. A logical proposal would have to abandon ship… but many of the children on board could not swim and the monster was a problem. So, the elder child called to some of its compatriots and yelled at the others as well. The giant beast, sensing a change in activity turned its giant amber eye onto the 'leader'. The force chosen were quite accomplished warriors and sailors, and they managed to still the ship in calmer waters, as close to the coast as they physically could.
They shouted, they made noise; they drew the monstrosity's attention away from the cowering passengers. They jumped in the water and swam for an old stone pier jutting out from the waves. Attention divided, the beast hesitated between a few warriors to a hundred weaklings. Its decision was made when a shout from the beach was called. The 'leader' was jumping up and down, the first to reach the jetty. Mouth watering, the monster rushed at the small form, jaws snapping and roaring. Rearing up to swallow the child whole, it let one last roar… before a giant spar pierced its throat and its head. Defeated, the monster sank to the bottom of the sea, staining the waters purple with its blood. The leader and seven of its fellows watched in defeat as Poseidon, the boat who saved hundreds of lives, slowly sank to the bottom of the ocean, along with all of its passengers.
No one won that day. Not the children, not the monster, not the sea…
Everyone watched the old man, knowing the story was not yet finished.
"Of course, no one knows what really happened that day. But we do know this. After the boat had sunk with the monster, the surviving children climbed to the top of the cliff and built a temple. A temple made of solid stone and would stand the tides of time. A monument that would forever remember the day Atlantis disappeared from the world, along with Poseidon and its children." Seeming drawn and tired, the old man took a deep breath, as if reminiscing. "No one would ever know what happened. For the only witness we know is buried at the temple itself."