Atalanta by @addictivee

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This story, by addictive, is the winner of our April Picture Prompt contest. 

August 1855

Atalanta Condos could taste the salty water of the murky ocean waves dancing on her tongue. The harsh wind blowing against her slightly dampened hair, and creating an unmelodious rock to the large ship. Grey clouds formed above the angry sea; starting to spit heavy droplets of water. Waves forging large splashes, causing sailors and warriors to turn a distasteful shade of green. The smell of fish and vomit circled the vessel making her stomach rumble in misery.

"Lana, Father wants you downstairs," Darius muttered, his head popping out of the hatch. She rolled her eyes and huffed, slipping down the small opening.

"Atalanta! Where have you been!" Obelius snarled, his eyebrows twitched, the redness creeping on his olive skin. Veins popping on the side, his black hair peppered with silver was tousled, due to his hands running through it over and over again in frustration. His nose flared and his teeth were clenched; his body shaking. "Thouven is out there, and all you can do is watch? Oipho."

"Forgive me, papa, I was on deck supervising."

"My dear child, have I taught you nothing? Have I never mentioned how important killing Thouven is, after all these years?" Her father bellowed. "And even still, your relevance is futile."

"Let us not be hasty father," Darius grinned. "Her powers are of the essence."

"My boy, you're much more powerful than her — but you never lack reasoning," His breathing leveled, his glance falling on to the small girl. "Now Atalanta, we are nearing the monster's territory. You remember the plan, yes?"

"Yes, papa." Her voice firm as she nodded slightly; not wanting to anger him any more.

Ever since the demise of her mother, Zylina, havoc rose in her crippling family. Her brother and father went mad; leaving Atalanta to be the glue to hold the remainder intact. The conversations and laughter they had shared vanishing thus, Obelius lost his title as a father in her book. Atalanta made it a habit to call him "papa" in hopes of restoring his sanity — but she knew all was lost the moment her mother left this world.

One day, amid her father's sailing, he recalled seeing a peculiar creature deep within the Aegean sea. The air was heavy, the sun was blazing, and the waters were calm; the only outlier being the beast. Obelius explained it to napping on a large rock, far off on the coast of an island — of course, he was too far to see many details — but he was certain it was Thouven. Once Obelius returned to the mainland of Antiope, he spread the word to all the villagers; raising curiosity in many.

Thouven was a tale told to impish children, about a large beast with copious heads and diverse creatures attached to it, countless tails to kill those who dare come close. They say that the bravest to slaughter the vile being will be granted a lavish life. The tale worked on most while other kids dismissed it as lore.

"Slaughter the demon and be granted abundance — but dare you fear, may you burn in the pits of the netherworld. Form a melodious bond with the heartless beast, may you be granted with the immortality of the Northeast."

The last line of the myth replayed in her mind — but she dismissed it. It's just a doltish tale. Focus. She mumbled under her breath as she watched her father and brother plotting their barrage.

All Atalanta wished was to return to her serene flower shop, where her mother once stood. The shop was so lively and bliss, the birds humming in content as the sun shined with pride. Many villagers loved the flower shop, it could be bitter at times knowing Zylina once gleamed with joy assembling their flower arrangements — but were delighted nonetheless, to know young Atalanta had taken on her mother's duty.

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