God of fire and sun, Nuriel fell in love with the earth goddess Gia. From this union, a child Oya was born. Her physical body was as brown as the soil, dark and rich. Her hair, a black mass of coils and kinks that meshed together to create beautiful chaos. Small twigs rested in her hair, like angels to clouds and small flowers constantly bloomed from them. Her eyes were as blue and deep as the oceans that covered the beloved earth. One could never reach the bottom of such overflowing majesty. From her bosom grew the fire from her father, though much softer as not to consume the planet. Plants grew from her loving embrace. In her footsteps grew meadows and dense forests for all creatures. Her voice was like the rivers, ever flowing like the fountain of youth and prosperity. She lived in many places but as time went on, her forests and meadows grew smaller. Many of the creatures she called friends were vanishing from their homes as humans took their place. The waters were changing colors and the air smelled unworldly. How could the humans produce something she had never seen before? The humans were evolving in their destruction.
Oya adored the humans and thought them to be beautiful, yet mysterious. They were peculiar in their mannerisms and seemed too quick to engage in violence. They separated themselves based on color and kept close to those who resembled themselves. Of course, Oya thought that to be strange for they all looked the same. They all suffered the same afflictions, all needed food and shelter, and were easily killed. Either by the hands of another human, or by the ravages of time; a single human was not present for long. Sometimes Oya would listen in on human tales of their ancestors and their battles with the gods. Why a human would be so bold as to challenge a god was beyond her comprehension, but it piqued her interest. Unfortunately, for her, she was born in a time where humans no longer needed the magic and wonder of the gods. Fear turned to disdain and that turned into resentment. What could the gods do for humans that they could not do for themselves? Such violent creatures in desperate need to become better blinded them to the miracles around them. Though she was warned not interact with the humans by Gia, Oya simply refused. Her mother would say,
“Humans do not care for us anymore, they do not respect anything but themselves. They are a hazard and are only useful to me in death.”
Humans started to notice her presence. Some were afraid, some ignored her in indifference, but one sought her out almost every day. A young girl by the name of Sara had never seen anyone like her before. Sara would wander the forests near her village in search of Oya. She would leave gatherings of flowers beside random trees in hopes of appeasing Oya. Friends of the young girl often warned her not to go looking for the so-called forest goddess. They would say,
“The gods are dangerous! Look what we have done to their land. They probably hate us for destroying their trees and killing their creatures. The gods will deliver a vengeful punishment to you on behalf of all humans!”
Sara was not one to scare easily for she was the daughter of the village leader; a famed champion of wild beasts. The curiosity of this strange young human soon overpowered Oya’s better judgement and she appeared to the young Sara. Draped in garments fashioned from the earth, her presence was like nothing she had ever witnessed. Oya was intimidating but gave off a warm persona. The ice in Sara’s veins began to melt under Oya’s gaze and Sara bowed in respect. Oya found the girl to be charming though foolishly brave. Truthfully, she would never harm the young girl, but humans would fear the worst whenever gods were involved.
Many days were spent exploring the remaining forests of the world. Some places remained untouched by human hands and were breathtaking to say the least. Few magical creatures stayed on earth for good reason and fought to keep what little they had hidden. Sara promised to never reveal their secrets as long as she could return with Oya. This single human proved to be understanding and was willing to learn how to appreciate the beauty around her. Oya often asked her to teach the other humans how to care for the planet in case she should disappear. Sara would be the one to speak with gods and humans; making a legend of herself.
Many humans from Sara’s village were not pleased to learn of her acquaintance with Oya. They felt the goddess was using her to gain intelligence on them. Though not likely, the humans still felt uneasy about the forest goddess. Sara’s father, ever the opportunist, welcomed the friendship.
“What better way to destroy my enemies than with the help of a goddess? Surely Sara will lure her into a false sense of security while I discover how to kill Oya. If I could drink the blood of a goddess, I would inherit her immortality and rule over this land!”
The humans of the village agreed; Oya was not to be trusted and to ensure their survival, extreme measures were to be executed. Sara’s father would listen intently to his daughter’s tales of Oya and their travels. What she was like and how she used her abilities were topics of discussion.
“She grew a sequoia in seconds! All sorts of little creatures came up to me and I got to hold them. They weren’t evil and they didn’t bite. I think we should learn from these creatures. If you all denounce your wicked ways, Oya will visit the village and bless us all.”
Sara’s father enticed her to bring Oya to a secret location. Sensing no malice in his invitation, she passed the details of this meeting to Oya. It started out like any other meeting but Oya sensed something was wrong. There was a peculiar scent in the air, far more humans were present than what she could see. Why were they hiding, why were they surrounding her? Horrible explosions echoed through the serene calmness of the forest. Thick, white smoke polluted the area and caused her senses to become diluted. Sara screamed for her fallen friend for she could no longer see her. She was quickly cast aside for safety. Soon Oya saw the outline of Sara’s father; bold and tall in his clothes made from the skins of her fallen friends. He raised a blade to Oya’s throat and sliced through her quite easily. A golden liquid fell from her like a waterfall and the earth beneath her flourished and died in a rapid succession. Before the next stage of the plan could continue, Sara broke free of her captors and stood between her father and Oya. A halt was put on the cannon fire that was sure to eliminate the goddess. Sara was told to stand aside while her father destroyed the unneeded goddess of the forest. Oya had no place in this new world and her power belonged to the people. Sara didn’t see the logic in her father’s quest for power and vehemently denounced him. Oya stood glossed in her own blood and for the first time felt rage. Multiple fires erupted under some of the villagers and they were quickly burned alive. Burning flesh mixed the man-made toxin made for a nauseating fog. Sara’s father persevered and fought through the smoke to find his prey. The smoke burned the eyes of all those who remained, but everyone fought valiantly to stay alive. Oya found Sara and held her close. Sara apologized for being so gullible and causing this massacre, however, she pleaded for the life of her father. She pleaded that he needed guidance and not death. He was her only family since her mother died and could not bare to lose him. No matter how destructive he was, he was still the father she loved.
“He deserves death for what he’s tried to do! Loathsome, vile human tried to murder me; a goddess! He wants to have power? Then he shall have a most magnificent death trying to obtain it!”
A blade cut through the fog and through Oya, but not before going through Sara who still stood close to her. Surely it would still take more to kill Oya but for Sara, the blow would prove fatal. Sara’s father dropped the blade with a loud thud. Oya caught the dying body of her only human friend. A violent red liquid poured from the dainty Sara as she gasped for air. It wouldn’t be long before death claimed her but Oya could not let that happen. Using her own blood, Oya healed the gaping wound in Sara’s chest. By doing this, Oya greatly increased Sara’s lifespan by ten generations. What her father tried to violently steal was given to her in an act of selflessness.
The smoke finally lifted from the forest as Sara looked to Oya with a newfound purpose. Though still angered, Oya remembered Sara’s words. She would not kill him but she could not let such an act of defiance go lightly. Sara’s father and the villagers would forever be forced to guard the forest surrounding their village for the rest of eternity. With Sara’s help, the villagers would learn how to give back to the land that they have selfishly taken from.
Through the centuries, the gods have completely disappeared from earth and the humans have truly taken over. Many creatures have gone extinct as well as their homes but one forest has proven difficult to destroy. Though Sara has passed on after two hundred long years of fighting on behalf of earth; Sara’s father and the villagers still live on. Men threaten the existence of the last pure essence of nature, but the villagers press on, preserving the forest for the goddess Sara.
Fiction piece by Erin Williams
Erin is a senior graduating from UNT in May.