Sasrit the Seagull

Once upon a time, when there was only the sky and the ocean, the playful god Ikel ceased his churning of the seas with his great fan. He had grown bored of the currents and the tuna and the dolphins. He had grown tired of the coral and the starfish, the jellyfish, and the sturgeon. Everything moved with such grace in the water, just like Ikel himself, with his long fish tail of scales that shimmered in all colors of the rainbow, but that gracefulness had become mundane.

Ikel had known the ocean since his birth, but one day, the curtain of emerald ceased to be intriguing and he swam up out of its depths to break the surface of the water. He had not done so since he was a small godling and his chest protested and strained, trying to gulp air instead of brine. He was still gulping when he saw what looked like a white bit of cloud break from the sky and dive towards him.

"No-Wing! No-Wing!" The bit of cloud screamed; only Ikel saw it was not a cloud, but a seagull with sharp yellow eyes, fashioned from bits of leftover brightness when Ikel's twin brother, Aspha, had crafted sun and moon and stars to adorn his realm long ago.

Ikel laughed delightedly.

"Hear me, No-Tail," Ikel said to the bird that lived upon the moon. "I wish to speak with my brother Aspha. Bring a token of mine to him and I will grant you safe harbor upon the ocean." Ikel pulled one of his scales, a delicate scallop-shaped pearl, from the small of his back, and pressed it into the hovering bird's mouth.

The seagull landed on the water to accept the pearl, and Ikel whispered an enchantment as it did so to safeguard it, for the ocean is greedy. The ocean thinks that all things belong to it and reaches up for Aspha's most prized creations, grabbing his lesser ones in bitterness when it cannot steal the celestial bodies. The bird understood this, but Ikel had spoken the magic words, and it knew the god would keep his promise. When the seagull broke flight, the waves ceased, and it was buoyed instead of pulled down.

"Go upon the swiftest breeze," Ikel commanded. "And do not let my pearl escape you."

The bird nodded once, and with a great flap, flew off into the sky.

In those days, the only creature that traveled between the heavens and the ocean were the birds and their shadows upon the water. The seagull, whose name was Sasrit, was admiring his own dark doppelganger on the sea that had been stilled for him.

"How different I am!" He thought, looking at his own slim silhouette. It was unmarred by tides for the first time. He was sleek and beautiful and flew lower and lower to have a closer look when his shadow was swallowed by another; out of the water, rose a laughing dolphin.

Sasrit was so frightened that he cried out in a clamor that could be heard all across the width of the world. Ikel's pearl dropped into the ocean and grew like a seed; the shimmering of it became the white sand of beaches, and the land itself became overrun with all manner of things: trees and grass and flowers and animals and man.

"Oh, what a horrible thing I have wrought!" Sasrit thought, beholding these last misshapen creatures. They had no wings or tails to speak of and had bodies as soft as sponges and colored like the intimate shades of the conch.

Sasrit fled to Aspha and told the god of his error. Aspha, with his great golden wings, lay upon his clouds and sent them over the water and found Ikel. The brothers spoke at length. The clouds grew dark and began to thunder, the waves lift up like mountains and crash against the land, but the land stayed; battered though it was, it was discontent to sink into the ocean.

"We must let it remain," Aspha said at last. Reluctantly, he ceased his storm, although his twin brother pouted.

"Then, I will have the ocean swallow Sasrit instead!"

Sasrit cried aloud at this and flew away from the angered gods to take refuge on the newly formed land. His descendants wait there now, skimming the shoreline and hoping to return home when the sea is at its calmest. At times, Aspha's heart softens and he grants them a brief passage through the sky. The seagulls fly up. The moon sheds gossamer along their pinions, but never do Sasrit's children touch her in return.