Long ago, when man worshipped gods of all manner, Zeus, king of the god’s who resided on Mount Olympus, would often visit the human world. He, more so than the other god’s, would often choose a beautiful woman and seduce her into his bed. This often resulted in the birth of demi-gods like Hercules. The great beauty Helen of Troy was even said to be the daughter of Zeus and Leda, the queen of Sparta.
This legend begins with a human woman who was a nobleman’s daughter on the island of Atlantis, of whom Zeus had become enamored. She was more beautiful, it was said, than Aphrodite herself, with eyes bluer than Poseidon’s seas and skin as soft as the finest silk. Her hair was the color of the setting sun and lips as red as the sweetest wine. He used all of his charms to woo the woman and yet she resisted him at every turn.
As a token of his adoration for the human, Zeus created a precious gem as a gift. It was the color of her eyes, large enough to fill the palm of a man’s hand and worth more coin than any man on earth could earn.
When he came to her once more, he offered her his heart, his throne, and the gem, if she would be his queen. She refused his offer of all three. She told him that she was promised to another and, though she did not love her betrothed, her home was here on earth. She could not leave; not even for the king of the gods.
She was not unkind with her refusal of Zeus’ offer, but it angered him beyond comprehension. He was Zeus! No one refused him!
He flung the gem as far as he could, his godhood giving it the power to pierce the deepest part of the sea. He cursed the woman who had broken his heart with the pain of watching all she held dear destroyed as she begged him for mercy that would never come.
Zeus’ curse on the mortal woman, spoken in rage, had far reaching effects. The blue gem he’d heaved into the sea, lodged itself in the heart of a young mermaid who was the daughter of the king of the mer-people. Her name was Sapphire and she was the joy of her father’s kingdom.
Death did not come swiftly to Sapphire. She suffered in agony and her life’s energy dimmed as the king of the mer-people pleaded with Poseidon to heal his only child.
Alas, Poseidon could not undo what his brother, Zeus, had done. He could not remove the blue stone from Sapphire’s heart lest it kill her immediately. His only recourse, Poseidon told the king, was to try to alter the young mermaid’s fate. The sea god bestowed his blessing upon her and infused the blue stone with enough magic to ensure her immortal life, and because of the pain that Zeus had caused in his anger at being rejected, he blessed the stone to grant her all of her greatest desires.
But, he warned, should the stone ever be removed from Sapphire’s heart, she would die. He could do no more for her, and left his realm to confront his brother on Olympus.
When the king asked Sapphire what her fondest wish would be, she wept piteously in his arms and confessed her love for a human man. He was betrothed to a nobleman’s daughter. She knew that she could never be with her beloved and she would die of a broken heart, in spite of Poseidon’s gift, she lamented.
As her words were spoken, her father knew he had lost his only child even with the blessings she’d received. “Go,” he told Sapphire. “Find your true love, and be happy. But,” he warned. “You must let your love know he cannot let the gem be removed from your heart or you will surely die.”
With her solemn vow and a kiss for her father, she made her way to Atlantis and her true love, Apollodoros, as the king’s heart broke.
When Apollodoros saw Sapphire, now in human form, his heart rejoiced and then it shattered. He was betrothed to another, by his own father’s doing. It was a match made out of necessity, rather than love, and he had no feelings for the woman.
So Apollodoros and Sapphire agreed to run away together. They would take the next boat to Greece, flee somewhere his father would never find them, and live out their lives as husband and wife. That same night, as they lay wrapped in each other’s arms, vowing their eternal love to each other, Apollodoros, caressed the stone embedded in Sapphire’s heart.
His promise to protect her had barely left his lips when his father’s men crashed into the room, seizing him and dragging him away from his new bride.
His father stepped in and ordered his son’s captors to remove him to his ship and return him to their home on Atlantis. As Apollodoros struggled against the arms that held him, he heard Sapphire screaming for him as his father approached the bed.
Sapphire glared at the man before her as she held the thin coverlet across her breasts. “You are too late. We were wed this day and there is nothing you can do to stop us now, Dracus.”
“Do not be so sure,” Dracus said, reaching out his hand with lust in his eyes. “I can see why my son is so taken with you. You are quite lovely, my dear. But he will get over you, I promise. I will not have a whore destroy all that I have built.”
As Sapphire pulled out of his grasp, the sheet slipped from her fingers and exposed the gem buried in her chest by the wrath of Zeus. Dracus’ eyes grew large and the lust in them turned to greed.
Being a man of great stature and muscle, it was quite easy to overpower the slight young woman who had dared to defy him. As her screams of pain and rage echoed throughout the small village on the coast of Greece, Dracus dug the giant blue stone from Sapphire’s heart, with the dagger strapped at his side.
Wiping the blood from the stone and his fingers upon the sheet the lovers had lain upon, greed and madness shone from Dracus’ eyes. He placed the gem into a leather pouch, hiding it in a secret place known only to himself. He would come back for it after his son was safely wed to the nobleman’s daughter and the pretty whore was long forgotten.
The news of Sapphire’s death at his father’s hands had so devastated Apollodoros that he flung himself off the ship that was carrying him back to Atlantis.
As Apollodoros sank, wanting nothing more than to drown in the depths of the sea, he was saved by a man that was not a man. He had been sent by the king of the mer-people to check on his daughter and her beloved. When the guard saw the depths of Apollodoros’ despair at the death of Sapphire, he hurried back to give the king with the terrible news.
At the outpouring of grief that engulfed all who lived in the sea, Poseidon went to the king and they made their plans for retribution.
Poseidon aimed his trident at Atlantis, destroying the island and all of its inhabitants. Those who tried to escape by boat, were immediately set upon by the mer-people. No man, woman, or child would survive the sinking of Atlantis.
Zeus’ curse on the woman who spurned him had come to pass. She was the last to see her beloved home and people as the island disappeared beneath the churning waters of Poseidon’s domain. The Mermaid’s Heart was lost that day. Legend has it that the stone was locked in a chest that could only be opened with three magical keys entrusted to Dracus’ brothers, somewhere in Athens, before he was killed.
Copyright 2016, Lucky Pen, LLC
The Legend of Sapphire
Where Passion & Intrigue