The Patron of Athens

A long time ago, there were many people living in a town. They couldn’t get anything to grow, and couldn’t get any fish from the sea, and couldn’t keep any animals tame. The only thing they could keep alive was the fire. So they went to the fire, and fed it and tended it and cried into it, weeping sorrows and joys, calling out for help from somewhere.

Two gods heard their call, and they came with gifts. One came from the mountains and the other came from the sea. One brought seeds and the other brought horses. One brought oil to feed the fire, and the other brought fresh water to quench the folk and tend the land. One brought tangy olives and the other brought fish to feed the folk.

The people planted the seeds and tended the trees that grew there. They watered them with the fresh water they’d been gifted. They loved the fire so much that they thanked the one profusely for the oil for the fire.

And when one of the folk spilled the water, dousing the flames, they cursed the other and bid him leave. So he left in anger, and as the water had caused him to be cast out, he took it with him. And gods have long memories, so the water never returned.

The people got smarter, and learned to divert rivers and pump it in from elsewhere. But the fresh water, the easy water that was given as a gift, it hasn’t returned. The goddess was honored for her patronage of the city and the god was cast out, forgotten for awhile, and treated with wariness ever after.

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