The Mask Made to See Her, Called Artemis Aether
Long before they were idealised, romanticised and deified, they merely existed. The observer within the object. The thought within the thing. The silence within the substance.
The nameless, ageless and faceless.
Each object, each stone, each agile agent possessed of a consciousness. The sun, the sea, the sky; alive with intention.
For the greater part of time they stayed in their roles, largely unwatched and unknown. So when the stories came cloth them, to draw their boundaries closer, and to form their voices over – they were unprepared.
Some revelled in the adoration, some reviled the grovelling of the graceless. Some were envious of their namesakes, those endowed with the power to live the lives beyond them.
The Sun was nearly always the favoured one. From Amun to Belenus, Helios to Sol, the so called Gods that seemed to claim him, bore no resemblance to him at all. But this is not his story.
The Ocean, ever changing and unknowable, disliked the list of labels. Neither Nammu nor Neptune, Poseidon or Mazu, not Tsovinar nor Ægir, were names that he would own. Many lost a life claiming its secrets could be known. So we shall leave it alone.
The Moon, she knew them both, for they were intertwined. Her drifting dance with the sun keeping the tempo of time. Her insatiable allure setting the temper of the tides. Selene, Soma, Sin, Sina, Luna, Thoth - but of all the names that arose it was Artemis she chose. Artemis, who sat on the lap of the King of the Gods, set her demands and was granted them all.
It was neither the burning heart of the sun, nor the turbulent virtue of the ocean that won her over. Having no form he was long overlooked by the tales. It was he that set the motion of the spheres, he who held her tightly as she turned. He who formed the space between, and set the spark to burn. He settled on Aether, as it shared a heritage with hers, and few had thought to name him, hiding as he was between the stars.
Artemis and Aether, lovers across an aeon, listened to the fables and watched the fates of the frail. The more they observed, a curious emptiness crept in. What did they know of love? Of consequence or sacrifice? What did they know of progeny or patience?
The mortals looked to them for immortality, but it was they who looked back in envy of the intensity born of their impermanence.
Artemis longed to look upon the face of her beloved, connected to all but visible to none. Aether desired to watch her sway across the sky through the finite frame of an earthbound eye. Together they wanted to share in the creation of new life, they wanted to experience the trials of the temporary. But they were not the gods whose names they stole, they could not create life.
Aether thought hard upon their condition. They could not create, but they could influence, they could encourage and they could inspire. They just needed one to hear their prayers, to form a face in equal parts of gravity and grace. This their creation, and this the window through which the horizons of the humanity could be known.
There are few in our world that can hear The Thought Within a Thing, and they are truly hard to find. For the spheres don't speak in words, not in poetry or prose. These are tricks for which mostly man is known. Hence the ephemeral intention of Aether wandered the world in want of just one, able to understand such a strange song.
At last he found the hermit, making peace with time. Practised at listening to that which cannot be heard, he inclined his head just slightly to catch the unformed words.
He understood enough to find a vision in his mind, a direction and a sign. The man said nothing, giving only a faint nod but set to work that night as the moon was hanging high, and through the next day also as Helios rode by. 6 days and 6 nights he laboured and brought the thing to life, from the first quarter moon to her fullness in the sky.
On the seventh eve, his work complete he walked alone a while, until he caught the thoughts of Aether roaming restless in the night. Praise overcame him in a wave of promises and possibilities, appearing in the darkness like stars fading into sight.
The hermit thought carefully and replied slowly:
"I am in need of no more voices,
No more spirits to be seen.
All experience behind me,
I wait only for The Dream.
So I leave this for another
To see with passion's eye,
The spirits of our fathers
And your lover in the sky."
He placed it gently on the ground and there he left it to be found – the mask made to see her, called Artemis Aether.