Intermezzo (2): Ennéa's story

  • (written by Jana and Emely, class 8e)


    Leopold followed the dog. He saw wood on the water and on the shore, many sailors, some injured, some dead. He also saw Ennéa, frozen, in a miserable condition, but in a natural prettiness, undisturbed by the catastrophe which just had happened to her. So it ended as it must: He came to her, checked if she was still alive, broughed her to his horse and took her home to Gödens, a small but prosperous merchant town some miles away.

    There she stayed with him. What else should she do? She longed for her old life. But Italy was far away. Centuries had passed. Clytus was dead. Only the necklace reminded her of him. She didn't know what had happened to the sacred wood of Portogruaro. And she couldn't leave because those parts of her tree that had survived the shipwreck were still in this region. And there was no wife in Leopold's home, no children, just a servant and an old maiden aunt who run the household for him and an old mother, a wealthy widow, who lived some miles away in a town called Aurich. So of course she fall in love with him. As she couldn't tell him that she was a dryad and had been captured inside the planks of a ship for centuries, she invented a story that must make sense for him. She told him that she was the daughter of a merchant from Venice, but that she had lost all her family and that she would like to begin a new life. But she knew that this was dangerous, because a nymph, a servant of Artemis, wasn't allowed to have a love affair with mortal men.

    On the other hand, how should Artemis know? Her new home was in a barbarian country with very few contact to the south. Even Hamburg and Bremen, the next hanseatic towns, were hundreds of miles away. Italy was in another world. She didn't even know what had happened to the old Greek and Roman gods. Did they still exist?


    Oh, yes, they did!

    One day - some years had passed – Ennéa was on the market to buy some things for a meal in the evening. There should be guests, business partners of Leopold. When she came home, she met a young man. Oh no! She recognized him immediately.


    "Hello, Ennéa. May I introduce someone to you?" Leopold said. "This is Hinrich – or better: Enrico, because originally he is from Italy, like you. I met him in Aurich, at my mother's. Enrico visited her and told her that his father, a rich Italian merchant, has been a business partner of my father."

    What a liar! Ennéa thought. Certainly the young man's name was neither Hinrich nor Enrico.

    "And now Enrico is in Hamburg" Leopold continued. "He manages his father's business there and he wants to renew old contacts." At this moment Hinrich-Enrico winked at her. Leopold didn't notice it.

    "Yes, beautiful la..lady", the guest said. "I want to renew o...o...ollllld contacts." Ennéa could smell that he was drunk. As he used to be all the times when she had met him.

    "I go to the kitchen and look if everything is prepared", Ennéa said.

    Some minutes later the guest followed. He behaved strangely. "I have to talk to you, li...hick...little nymph."

    When she didn't answered he took his flute and played a sad little tune. "Times have changed, little nymph. Monks came and merchants. But the old gods and heroes are still alive. At least some of us. Some parts of the sacred wood have been destroyed. Some of the ancient gods and heroes have left. They lead the life of mortal men and women. Even Aphrodite went to the North. She tries to be a good wife and mother. More a Hera than an Aphrodite, if you ask me. They forget about their past. As you, little nymph. But Artemis has sent me. She reminds you to remain in her service. We need your loyalty. You are one of THE twelfe dryads, Ennéa."

    He played his tune again. Or maybe the flute sounded at its own.

    Ennéa thought. Then she said with determination: "I'm sorry, Pan. My heart belongs to Leopold!"

    "To a mortal man?" he cried. "Great Artemis!"

    And then hell broke loose. Somehow Artemis must have heart his cry. Her face appeared in a mirror. She was furious. She shouted something. It sounded terrible. Ennéa didn't understand the words. They were from an ancient language, older than Latin, Greek or Trojan, as old as the earth. But she felt how her body changed. When she tried to say something, only a strange cry escaped her mouth, the hoarse cry of a crane or heron. Another face appeared in the mirror, the face of Aphrodite. Both goddesses seemed to fight.

    "It is against the law!" Artemis shouted.

    "But it is love", Aphrodite answered. "You can't do that to her."

    "I can", Artemis said and added in a mocking voice:"Let's see if she ever will attract another mortal man – in her new shape!"

    Pan ran to the mirror. Somehow he managed to get into it. It seemed that he tried to intervene.

    Then he was besides Ennéa again, without his pan flute.

    "I'm sorry", he said, "she cursed you. You will remain like that.And you will have to stay in this region. That's bad, really bad, because we need you in the sacred wood."

    Remain like what? Ennéa asked herself.

    "But there is hope", Pan added. "Aphrodite understands you. She is confident that she finally will manage to send you help. When a descendant of the family of Artemis in the South and a descendant of the family of Aphrodite in the North will unite, the quarrel between law and love will end and my flute will sound again. This will set you free. I hope this will happen soon. Because we need you in the sacred wood. And I need my flute back!"

    Then he was gone. Ennéa looked into the mirror. She started back, horrified. The vision of Artemis and Aphrodite had disappeared. The  mirror was a mirror again. And it showed the head of a pretty woman, but the body and the sharp claws of a bird of prey. The head was her own.

    Artemis' curse had turned her into a harpy. 


    A gust of wind came through the kitchen window. It was like a swirl and carried her away over fields and moors. Finally she was sucked into the highest part of the tower oft he town hall.

    And there she has been in a coat of arms for more than 500 years now.