December's theme is mythology.

"The Real La Belle Dame Sans Merci" by Anna Zeller
Many have heard of the terrifying tale of “The Woman without Pity”, but what of her past? Who was
this mysterious woman before she was the terror that lured men to her cave and forced their
souls to forever roam her territory? It began when she was a young lady of sixteen.

Her name was Chelinda Esclabor, and every man she met thought her to be quite
handsome. Her skin was smooth and pale, her cheeks were the color of a fading rose, and she
had playful eyes of blue that sparkled with daring. She had long, blond hair that seemed almost
white that rippled down her back. She was a slim, wild thing that made all men crazy for her.
What the men did not know was that this beautiful girl was magical. It was how she stood
out from all the other lovely girls. The magic drew men to her like gold draws a dragon. She had
great power within her, but she had never before the need to use a lot of it. There was one day in
her life however, when she changed that.

Chelinda enjoyed having lots of attention, but after meeting a particular special man
named Tristan Melahan, Chelinda’s breath was taken away from her and her heart was stolen by
this wonderful man.

She had never before felt so deeply before for someone. He made her smile and laugh so,
and took her to beautiful places where he told her in most flattering words of how enchanting she
was. She was quite taken by him, and waited for him to ask for her hand in marriage.

One night when Chelinda was to meet Tristan in the gardens she decided she would go
early and wait for him as a surprise. As she was walking along the path, causing flowers to bud
with the magic blossoming from her fingertips, Chelinda fell upon a most dreadful sight.
There in front of her was her dear Tristan in the arms of another woman. The woman was
very beautiful like her and Tristan had her in a deep embrace.

Hatred and a feeling of betrayal which Chelinda had never known built up inside her ready
to burst. The woman was suddenly thrown by an invisible force out of Tristan’s arms and onto the
ground. Chelinda’s hand was thrust out in front of her, magic sizzling on her fingertips, and fire
burned in her eyes. Tristan stumbled back and looked upon her with great fear.

“I-I thought you loved me.” Chelinda whispered in a choked up voice as she looked down.
Tristan took another step back and stuttered, “But, Chelinda, I-I think y-you to be very
beautiful, and I--”

“No”, Chelinda whispered; she looked up with wild eyes that had watered and spilled tears
down her cheeks, “You never loved er me.”

Chelinda felt like she was in a dream, how could she feel so much pain for this man? She
decided that she could no longer stand his presence and slowly raised her hand to him.

“ W-what are you doing?” Tristan asked in panic. He took a few more steps back and
stumbled on a root that had grown across the path, causing him to fall backwards crashing to the
ground. She made him fall asleep and then floated him next to her side. She didn’t know what to do
next, so she wandered into the forest. She walked in the dark, eerie forest for hours, and then
came upon a cold, rocky cave. She placed him down on the floor of the cave and placed a hand on
his cheek. She still loved him, but she also couldn’t let this feeling of betrayal go. She decided she
would separate his soul from his body and trap it in this cave where she would forever be able to
be with him.

Many women had had the same thing happen to them by other men, but Chelinda hadn’t
worried about it or listened to them. "Now I shall avenge those women, "she thought.

Since then, there have been many people who claim to have seen the woman without pity,
“La Belle Dame Sans Merci.” They say she lures men back to her cave where she rips their souls
from their bodies, so that their soul will be trapped within. It is also said she has lured many men
including kings and princes; their pale bodies lie there with her. But what they never hear, is how
she came to be.

This story is based off of John Keats’ poem, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci”.

"Nephelium" by Mallory Wright

The golden light surrounding,
An entity of of great power,
Whom rides the wings of eternity
And decides fate within the hour.

Whose morals may be faulty
Yet whose heart is that of gold,
The angel flies above his son
Remembering times of old.

Heavenly gates shut firmly
And he tumbled down to earth
For women were his downfall
The reason for his son’s birth. 

Many years later,
He made one final attempt
To get back into heaven
To forget God’s own contempt. 

He couldn’t make it back there
He fell once more in scorn
Disgusted at at both himself
And the fact that his son was ever born. 

Now he rules the humans
With warmth yet iron fist,
But never shall he forget
Heaven as his final wish. 

"Down In London" by Gabrielle McClimans
    Down in London just after dusk, the shadows lurk in the dusty streets. Fog rises up onto the hilltops, thick as a sheet of fluffy snow. The harbor clouds up and a whispy breeze begins to flow. But down in London, once dusk falls and the sun is tucked away for the night, the Black Dog comes out to play. With the sheer, pale, green eyes and a thick, black coat, the dog comes out to play with the others who are living. Though many can't see him, his bark echoes off the old brick buildings of London in which all are able to hear.
    The dog leaps through the streets, it’s intentions pure and maniacal. To find a child and make the child his ghostly owner...or maybe just find a new owner within the ghosts of the olde town square where executions would be held as a punishment for crime. The dog very much enjoyed this idea. He whisked his way down the old road.
    In the square once he arrived, he heard laughter, more of a child’s laugh after you’d make a goofy face at them. The dog suddenly became curious and tried to move, but he couldn’t. He turned to look over only to find the abandoned child that passed away months prior due to starvation. The child tugged on the Black Dog’s thick coat, flailing its arms about. The possible two year old let out little squeals of joy. The black dog was indeed not happy and let its ghastly eyes flare red. The child didn't seem affected by this demeanor. Instead, the child laughed some more and grabbed his wiry tail. The dog let his teeth show, his growl becoming more prominent by the minute. The child let go and the dog began to run. The child chased him all night in circles around the square. Both the child and the dog became weary and lied in a bush of dead thorns. The child yawned, grabbed a fist full of the Black Dog’s fur and fell fast asleep in his green overalls with a grass stain on his front pocket. The Black dog soon fell in love with this child and began to clean up the dirt smears on the child’s face with his rough tongue before then falling asleep with the boy. As dawn peaked, the child and the Black Dog melted into the shadows...

"Egyptian Mythology" by Hunter Bishop

    In Ancient Egypt, the people followed what is known as a polytheistic religion. This means that they believed in more than one god. There are TONS of Egyptian gods! I will name a few of the most popular/worshipped:
Amun-Ra “The Hidden One”
Mut “The Mother Goddess”
Osiris “The God of the Afterlife”
Anubis “The Divine Embalmer
Ra “The God of Sun & Radiance”
And, as said before, there are many more. Ancient Egyptians spent much of their time worshipping the gods and essentially, preparing for their death. The Egyptians strongly believed that a person continued on after death. The Egyptians did however have a strange relationship with the gods. They loved them and were highly devoted to worshipping them, yet they were scared by them at the same time. 
    Although the gods were of extreme importance to the Ancient Egyptians, there was others that play just as an important role in their lives. This person is called the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh was considered by many to be the son of the gods. The “Pharaoh Role” was very important because the Pharaoh serves as the middleman in terms of communication. The gods would send information to the Pharaoh and then the Pharaoh would tell his people. The Pharaoh was also important because it was his job to keep the world from ending. It was believed by the Egyptians that they needed to perform rituals to keep the gods happy. Failure to do so would lead to world destruction (...geez).
    This writing will consist of a couple Ancient Egyptian Myths dealing with the gods. For the first myth, I will be telling the story of Osiris and how he died,and also, what came from his death.
    The story starts when Osiris is in a rather good place I would say. Osiris is the king of Egypt and his queen is Isis, his wife (who also happens to be his sister). Osiris was loved by the humans because he took them out of hard times and helped to make a better life for them. He was a good ruler. Now it’s time to introduce another person into the story, Seth. Seth is Osiris’ brother. Seth was jealous of Osiris’ position as king so he decided to kill him. At a party for Osiris, Seth tricked Osiris into seeing if he could fit into a box. Osiris got in and fit. The problem was though that the lid to the box had shut and Osiris couldn’t get out. This caused him to die. Seth then threw the box with Osiris in it into the Nile in hopes that it would never be recovered. This is a horrible thing for someone to do back in this time because being buried after death was an extremely important part of the process which would allow someone to move on to the afterlife. 
    Isis was obviously very upset that Osiris had been killed and she set out to find his body. After searching quite a bit, Isis had finally located Osiris’ body in a temple. The only problem was that Seth beat her to it. Seth then split Osiris’ remains into fourteen or more pieces. These pieces were then spread all throughout the world. Isis then set out to find all the pieces of her husband/brother’s body. After finding every piece of him except for one, her and two other gods, Anubis and Nephthys, wrapped the body and performed the proper rituals they do when someone dies. This is also the story of the first time someone was made into a mummy!
    The next, and last Ancient Egyptian myth that will be told in this writing takes place after the death of Osiris. After Osiris died, Isis was warned that Seth was going to try to kill her and Osiris’ son, Horus. Isis decided that the best thing to do to keep him safe would be to go into hiding. The weird thing about this story though is that Isis had some people… or should I say bugs, to help keep her and Horus safe. These bugs were seven scorpions. They loved Isis and were determined to keep her and Horus safe at all costs. 
    One day on Isis and Horus’ travels, they came to a small village called the Town of the Two Sisters. Here, they went looking for shelter. Isis went to a very wealthy home but she was ignored by the woman of the house. This made the scorpions very mad that the woman wouldn’t help Isis and Horus. Six of the scorpions all gave their deadly venom to the last scorpion and this scorpion snuck into the wealthy woman’s home and stabbed her young boy and injected the venom of it’s venom, and the other six’s. The young boy became very ill and was close to death. The wealthy woman ran to the townspeople to try to get help but nobody wanted to help her because of the way she had treated them in the past. However, because Isis was very nice, she decided to help the mother heal the boy and so she did.
    Now, there are a lot more Ancient Egyptian myths floating around but I decided to choose two that were connected. If you are interested in learning more there are tons available on the internet.

"Thor, as Freya", by Megan Barnes

-Based on the Norse legend of “Thor the Transvestite”

“Loki,” a low voice rumbled. The dark-haired god turned his head from his book.
    “Ah—yes, Father?” he replied, snapping the book shut.
    Odin swept into the library, his long white cloak falling behind him like clouds. His wrinkled, blind face was thrown into shadow from the candles adorning the walls of their palace in the topmost branches of Yggdrasil. Shadows spun and danced in his white hair and beard. His wrinkled hands held his cane lightly—Loki had come to the conclusion long prior that he had the cane only for show, and not for necessity.
    “Know you why your brother is in such a rage?” the ancient god asked.
    As if to accentuate this statement, there was a bellow of “Where is it??” from the floor above, and a loud crash that shook the library.
    “I do not, Father,” Loki replied, glancing up. “I can go ask.”
    “Do that, my boy,” he sighed, rubbing his forehead. “He hath been raging since dawn.”

Loki had barely ascended to the second floor of the Palace of Asgard when Odinson (quite literally) flew across the hall, grabbed Loki by the collar, and slammed him into the other wall hard enough to send cracks through the marble.
    “Where is it?” he roared in his brother’s face.
    “Forgive my petulance,” Loki said, attempting half-heartedly to push Thor away, “but where is what, brother?”
    “Mjölnir!” Thor cried, dropping Loki to the floor and landing on his feet, his muscular arms crossed and his blond hair messy. Loki smoothed out his shirt and glanced in confusion at his brother.
    “I have not touched your hammer, Thor,” he replied. “Is it gone?”
    “It was not in my room when I awoke!” he raged. “It has been stolen!”
    “Calm, Odinson,” Loki soothed gently. “Let us go find Freya—maybe Her Knowledgeable Highness can be of some assistance.”

“I know not the location of Mjölnir,” Freya, brown-haired, dark-eyed goddess, replied, shaking her head. “But I am willing to lend you my crown to aid in your search.”
    “Your crown,” Thor echoed flatly, his blond eyebrows raising.
    She held up the gold crown wrapped in falcon feathers. “It allows the one crowned to become the mighty falcon.”
    Loki grabbed it up before Thor could touch it. “I know already the art of shape-shifting,” he said with a grin, lowering the crown onto his messy dark hair. “I will find your hammer, brother, and return to you.”

If I were a mythical lightning hammer, Loki thought sarcastically to himself, where would I hide?
    After little consideration, Loki surmised that it must be their sworn enemies, the giants of Jotunheim, who had (somehow) stolen Mjölnir without the thunder god’s detection. So, catching the hot updrafts of the volcanic region below him, he spread his mighty wings and soared toward the plains of Jotunheim. Upon arriving, he landed back on his own two feet, hid the crown of Freya in his bag, and strode into the heart of the giants’ city and sought council with the Chief of the Giants—Thrym (meaning ‘noisy’).
    Thrym was very ugly, and as such, very lonely. Loki knew this, but had no sympathy for the cruel brute.
    “Thrym, Chief of the Giants,” he greeted. Thrym extended a hand and Loki climbed onto it so the giant could lift him to his eye level.
    “Loki, Prankster God of the Aesir,” he rumbled, his breath reeking of rotted meat. Loki almost gagged. “To what do I owe this…pleasure?”
    “Mjölnir was stolen from Asgard late last night,” Loki replied, crossing his arms and raising his chin. “Naturally, our suspicions turned to you.”
    He grinned a wide, tooth-rotting grin. Loki was blasted with another breath of hot air. He paled.
    “I did take it,” he replied proudly, thumping his chest—thankfully, with the hand Loki was not standing on. “And I buried it! Eight miles underground.”
    “Can…we have it back?” Loki supplied as the giant chief showed no sign of continuing.
    “No.” His face fell. “I will give it back—only if Freya marries me!”

“Inconceivable!” Thor roared, punching the wall. The stone crumbled and fell away. Loki had returned to Asgard after being forced to ‘accept’ Thrym’s proposal.
    “We cannot allow Freya to marry Thrym! It would be—”
    “Thor,” Odin interrupted. “Be seated.”
    The gods of the Aesir all sat at the long table in the Palace of Asgard in counsel. Odin was at the head, Thor to his left and Loki to his right. Freya sat at the other end, opposite Odin. The other gods—Frigg, Tyr, Baldur, Heimdall, Idun, and Bragi—were assembled in no particular order, each donning a high-backed chair and a crown representing their elements. Upon Loki’s deliverance of this news, the gods and goddesses has fallen into alarmed discussion, matched by their fury at the idea that any giant had the nerve to request such.
    “If I may, Allfather.” 
    Heimdall’s voice rose above the rest, and Odin knocked his cane on the marble floor for silence. Thor threw himself back into his chair, arms tightly crossed, frowning.
    “I have a solution,” Heimdall suggested, and Loki rolled his eyes. He hated Heimdall. Sure, he was a guardian, with no need for sleep and the eyesight sharp enough to see hundreds of miles, and hearing keen enough to hear grass growing, but he was uppity, and Loki hated that.
    “Proceed, Heimdall,” Odin replied, nodding to the guardian. He smiled.
    “What if we send an imposter in Freya’s place?” he suggested. “I suggest—Thor.”
    Odinson’s jaw dropped. The gods rumbled with laughter. Loki cracked up, laughing so hard tears came to his eyes. Odin shot him a disapproving look that the prankster god didn’t catch.
    “Why do you suggest that?” Odin asked of Heimdall.
    “Is Mjölnir not Thor’s weapon?” Heimdall replied. “If we send him in place of Freya, he will be able to get within the giants’ ranks and obtain his hammer, with no loss to us.”
    “I’ll go as a bridesmaid!” Loki choked out, pounding a fist on the table and nearly crying from laughter. Thor reached across the mighty table and punched Loki in the head.
    “Pretending to be a woman—in a wedding?” he cried. “It is a dishonorable and unmanly thing to do! All the inhabitants of Asgard will mock me for it forever,” he added in a moan.
    “But if you do not,” Loki replied, eventually sobering and wiping his eyes, “Asgard will end up in the giants’ rule. They still have Mjölnir, and will not hesitate to use it against us.”
    Thor knew he was right. And he hated it when Loki was right.

No detail was spared in the assemblage of Thor’s bridal dress. One week later, the humiliated god donned the costume, and the real Freya even used her earthly powers to beautify Thor’s bright red face with makeup.
    “This is humiliating,” he moaned, stumbling over the dress and glaring through the veil. Loki, on the other hand, had cast a glamour charm on himself, so it appeared he was wearing a bridesmaid dress, when in reality it was battle armor. He neglected to tell Thor this detail, however.
    “It’s for the good of the Aesir, ma’am,” Loki insisted, grinning uncontrollably as he helped the indignant, stumbling Thor climb into his goat-drawn chariot. The goats seemed to Thor to snicker to each other, and he had half a mind to blast them into oblivion. “Keep thinking of that.”
    “I hate you,” Thor growled.
    “Oh, I know.” Loki’s shit-eating grin could have sunk ships.

They arrived at Jotunheim by nightfall. Thrym, who had been notified by Odin prior to their arrival, greeted them as the chariot landed. Loki worried for a faint second that Thrym would question why they arrived in Thor’s chariot, but as per usual, the giant was too dumb to realize their foolish mistake.
    “Behold, giants!” Thrym roared as he lifted Thor, hiding behind his veil, and Loki onto his massive, callused palm. The assembled howled their approval. “The gods of Asgard have at last brought me the prize I was due, in return for the puny hammer of the thunder god!”
    Thor’s face hardened. Loki quickly grabbed Thor by the elbow.
    “A woman does not care about military matters,” Loki reminded him in a hiss. “You have to stay calm.”
    “But he’s talking about Mjölnir,” Thor whispered, his voice almost a whine.
    “Bite your tongue,” Loki growled, quickly releasing his arm as Thrym turned his attention back to the two gods.
    “We have arranged a dinner for us to feast upon before the ceremony will commence!”
    This lit up Thor’s face. Loki turned away, a new worry creeping at him. Thor ate as much as a small village—no woman would do that.

And Loki was right.
    Despite the prankster god’s desperate warnings and pleadings, Thor singlehandedly ate an entire ox, eight salmon, and all of the dainties that had been prepared for the two ‘women’. Not to mention, he drank several barrels of mead. Loki lost count around seven. This made Thrym suspicious.
    “I have never in my whole life seen such a woman with such an appetite,” he declared. Thor choked on a bite of meat.
    Quick to the punch, Loki laughed nervously and clapped Thor on the shoulder. “The fair goddess has been so lovesick for you,” he claimed, “that she has been unable to eat for an entire week.”
    Thrym was thrilled by this answer, and he was seized by a desire to kiss his lovely bride.
    “My dearest Freya, we must kiss!” he cried, and without waiting for a response, peeled back the veil. Thor’s eyes glared at him in such hatred, astonishment, and shock that Thrym exclaimed, “My dear! Never have I seen a maiden with such frightfully piercing eyes! Why, they glow like a god’s!”
    Loki quickly snatched the veil and threw it down, back over Thor’s face. “Ah—while she has been unable to eat,” the deceitful god stammered, “she has also been unable to sleep, so fierce is her longing for you.”
    Thor let out a snarl. Loki punched him, hard, in the side under the table.
    “Then, my dear, let us wait no longer!” Thrym stood. “Let us commence the ceremony now!”
    “Not much longer,” Loki sighed to a visibly shaking Thor—though whether in rage or in anxiety he was unsure.

“The hammer!” Thrym shouted, and Thor tensed. They were sitting in massive chairs at a hastily donned altar, while an out of tune organ was beaten on. One of the groomsmen brought Mjölnir forward. It began to spark and shudder at the closeness of its wielder. None of the giants took heed.
    “My love, dearest Freya,” Thrym cooed sickeningly, laying the hammer in Thor’s lap. “The hammer, as is customary of the gods.”
    “Here we go,” Loki sang as Thor suddenly leapt to his feet, tearing the carefully sewn dress with a twist of one arm. Thrym didn’t even have time to be surprised before Thor thrust the hammer skyward and called down lightning.

“You didn’t have to kill them all,” Loki said, glancing back toward the smoking ruins of the Palace at Jotunheim.
    “Brother, do you really believe they would have just let us leave?” Thor sighed contentedly, holding Mjölnir close like a mother would a reunited child. “I have obtained my hammer, and that is all that matters now.”
    Loki frowned, his gaze still transfixed by the chaos they left in their wake. “Still. Quite the non-diplomatic move, if you ask me.”
    “I do not think I did ask you.”
    Loki glared. “If it was not for me, Odinson, you would not have your hammer back at all.”
    Thor rolled his eyes, and the rest of the goat-drawn chariot ride was silent.