Tea with a Gorgon

1591

Zenya slipped silently through the open iron gate. Judging from the vines snaking down the granite walls and coiled around the bars, the gate hadn’t been shut in many years. After all, the occupant of this lair welcomed visitors for reasons that became clear as Zenya moved through the courtyard.

Marble pedestals lay in a rough grid about ten feet apart. Statues stood on most of them, casting long, ominous shadows in the pale moonlight. Zenya used the life-size figures for cover as she crept further into the courtyard. A leather sheath containing her dagger was tied to her right thigh as she held her longbow with an arrow nocked but not drawn. Her sandals padded lightly on the long grass while her black cloak concealed most of her from view.

She worked her way methodically among the stone people, eyes darting back and forth, looking for movement and finding none. She tried not to let her gaze linger on the statues, but some did catch her eye. A young man stood in a fighting stance, gripping his sword with both hands as his blank eyes regarded an invisible assailant. A woman about Zenya’s age stood mid-stride on another pedestal, two daggers raised and ready to strike. Zenya imagined for a moment that she was that woman, prepared to plunge her blades into her enemy. She wondered who the woman was and how long she’d been here.

A rustling up ahead caused Zenya to freeze in place. Her arms shook slightly as she raised her bow and drew the arrow back. She slowly swung the tip from side to side, peering into the night for the source of the noise. Zenya was a skilled archer, but her nerves threatened to overcome her training. She slowed her breathing and steadied her arms as she continued to sweep back and forth in search of her target.

A dark figure emerged from behind a statue fifty feet ahead. Zenya centered her aim on the figure’s chest as it spoke.

“Ssso,” it hissed. “You’ve come in search of treasure? Or the thrill of the kill? Perhaps both if you’re ambitious enough.”

Zenya didn’t respond as the figure began to walk toward her.

“If you intend to slay me,” it continued, “now is your opportunity. I suggest you take advantage.”

Its face was hidden under a hood, but Zenya knew what it was from myth and legend. Many adventurers had come before her to plunder the treasure of this lair. Most of them now stood silently in the courtyard. Gorgons are not to be trifled with or underestimated.

Zenya let her arrow fly toward the creature’s chest. It connected with a clang and dropped harmlessly to the ground. The Gorgon crushed it underfoot and continued walking toward her.

“Armor, my dear. I’ve learned to be prepared for these little skirmishes. And I end them rather quickly.”

At that remark, the creature sprinted and quickly narrowed the gap between them. Zenya reached back for a second arrow from her quiver and tried to nock it on the bowstring, but her hands shook too badly. The Gorgon was on top of her a moment later, snapping the arrow in half with one hand and snatching the bow from her grasp with the other. Zenya stumbled backward and fell onto an empty marble slab.

The Gorgon pulled back its hood to reveal a thin veil over its eyes. The creature smiled menacingly as a mass of snakes writhed on its head. Zenya summoned her remaining courage and stood defiantly on the pedestal, albeit still shaking.

“Do with me what you will,” she said coolly. “I’m ready for my fate.”

“Oh, are you now?” asked the Gorgon above the hissing of the snakes. “I hate to disappoint, but it’s tea time. And it would be an honor if you would join me.”

After preparing herself for imminent oblivion, Zenya didn’t know how to respond to the odd request. Tea with a Gorgon? She shrugged and nodded. It was better than getting petrified and might provide a chance to escape.

“I accept,” Zenya replied warily. “And the honor is mine.”

“Excellent!” exclaimed the Gorgon with a smile. “Please follow me.”

The creature turned and began walking away. Zenya instinctively pulled back her cloak and reached for the dagger strapped to her thigh but hesitated. This was the perfect, and perhaps only, opportunity remaining to slay the creature. Zenya grappled with the decision and then withdrew her hand, letting the cloak conceal her blade again as she decided to let the encounter play out.

“I appreciate your restraint,” said the creature over its shoulder as it continued among the statues. “A wise warrior carries more than one weapon. I assume it’s a blade of some sort. Probably a dagger in your case.”

“Perceptive,” replied Zenya as she stepped down from the pedestal and followed the Gorgon. “The voice of experience, I imagine.”

“Oh, yes, most definitely. Some male warriors are laden with bows, quivers, spears, a sword, daggers, and some armor as if those baubles could spare them from my gaze. I can hear the fools before they even pass through the gate. On the other hand, female thieves are more subtle and cunning than their brutish counterparts. And much rarer.”

Zenya accepted the odd compliment. Looking around, she noticed that most of the creature’s collection was male and armed as described. Every statue bore weapons but no garments of any kind. Some must be centuries old. Perhaps the clothing rotted away while the wood and steel endured? Or maybe the Gorgon stripped them after their petrification. A question to ask over tea, she mused.


The statues thinned out as they approached a small hill. Atop the hill, Zenya saw a stone table with two metal chairs. On the table sat a steaming teapot and two cups.

“Were you expecting me?” she asked.

“Not you in particular, but I did anticipate a visitor. I have a sixth sense of such things. It’s how I’ve survived for 300 years.”

They reached the table, and the Gorgon motioned for Zenya to sit. She nodded and settled into one of the chairs. The Gorgon sat opposite her, lifted the teapot, and filled both cups. Zenya instinctively reached for the cream and sugar, preparing her tea precisely as she preferred. The creature watched her with an air of bemusement and waited for Zenya to finish before lifting its cup.

“To eternity,” it said, smiling.

“Yes, to eternity,” replied Zenya, raising her cup in response.

The Gorgon sipped its tea while looking at Zenya over the rip of the cup. Zenya drank hesitantly but discovered the tea was quite good. She continued to drink while eyeing her new friend. The creature’s veil obscured its face, but two faint green orbs still shone through—the Gorgon’s eyes. No man or woman had ever looked upon them unveiled and lived.

“I’m so sorry,” said the creature. “I’ve been remiss in not asking your name, my dear.”

“Zenya. Accomplished warrior and thief. And you are?”

“Stheno. Older and lesser-known sister to Medusa. Pleased to meet you.”

“And you,” replied Zenya.

“I appreciate the company. It’s quite lonely here,” lamented Stheno. “Most of my guests are in search of something other than tea. It’s the same story each time. They sneak in, I find them, they try to kill me, and then I petrify them.”

Zenya nodded and tried to feign sympathy. Stheno drained her cup before continuing.

“And finally, I carry them to an open pedestal and tear off their garments.”

“I was wondering whether you strip the statues or allow the fabric to rot.”

“I used to let nature run its course but then decided to accelerate the process. Nude statues are better, anyway. Don’t you agree?”

“Yes, of course,” replied Zenya, taking in the surroundings. From their perch atop the hill, the courtyard and the stone wall beyond were visible in every direction. She could see the iron gate she had entered and their path through the statues.

Speaking of statues, they stood silently in every direction. Zenya didn’t even try to count them as they numbered in the hundreds. Empty pedestals dotted the courtyard here and there, but most were already occupied.

“How many—” Zenya began.

“Seven hundred forty-nine,” interrupted Stheno. “Acquired one or two at a time over many years.”

“It’s awe-inspiring. And how many more do you plan to acquire?”

“Two hundred fifty-one. One thousand souls in total.”

“I see,” Zenya nodded. “Well, I appreciate you making an exception for me.”

“Exception?” Stheno raised an eyebrow. “I see my hospitality has given you the wrong impression. I never intended to let you go. I’m eager to add you to my collection.”

A chill ran down Zenya’s spine, and her teacup began to shake in her hand, spilling a few drops on the table. Fear took hold but then gave way to curiosity. Zenya’s shifting emotions puzzled her as she formulated a response.

“Oh?” she replied calmly, steadying her hand. “Tonight just became much more interesting. When do you intend to add me? And where exactly?”

“Dawn. Over there.”

Stheno pointed to a spot over Zenya’s left shoulder. She turned to find an empty pedestal not twenty feet from the table. It was the closest in a grouping of about a dozen dotting the side of the hill. Zenya regarded it with interest and imagined herself still and silent atop it.

“A place of honor, I assume?” she asked.

“Yes, most definitely. You’ll be the first in a collection of female thieves. A longer-term project, of course, as your kind is quite uncommon.”

Zenya turned back to the Gorgon. A faint light shone on the horizon. Dawn would not be far behind.

“If it’s not too much to ask, may I have a tour of the grounds before my acquisition?”

“An excellent idea,” replied Stheno. “I can’t show you all seven hundred forty-nine before dawn, of course, but I have my favorites.”

She stood and walked down the hillside. Zenya followed closely as they weaved their way among the warriors and thieves. Male and female. Scoundrels and saints.

“Here we are,” said Stheno as she stopped beside one of the statues. “He’s not the most formidable in my collection, but his final pose is exquisite.”

The man stood with his feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, and legs taut with tension. He held a broadsword in each hand with the blades crossed in front of his chest. He wore only a helmet. Zenya strolled around the pedestal, viewing the man from different angles and noticing several details: the vein running down the middle of each flexed bicep, the Achilles tendons connecting his heels to his muscular calves, the curve of his back leading down to the twin globes of his backside, and the rippling abdomen above an ample stony rod.

“He didn’t even move toward me,” Stheno recalled. “Just stood there waiting. I assume he anticipated my attack, not his imminent hardening, but we’ll never know. At any rate, he’s an impressive member of my collection.”

Zenya nodded slowly, still gazing intently at the statue’s massive manhood.

“Impressive member indeed,” she remarked.

“Come now,” Stheno told her. “I have time to show you one more.”

Zenya managed to tear her eyes away from the man’s marble loins and followed Stheno to the other side of the courtyard. They passed statue after statue, all still and silent in the predawn light. Zenya wondered what each of them would think of their permanent home. Finally, after a few minutes, Stheno stopped in front of a larger rectangular platform.

“One of my prized possessions,” she said with a grin. “Frozen in a most wondrous pose.”

The woman appeared to have fallen backward and was trying to stand up again. She sat in the center of the platform, supported by her right arm outstretched behind her. She held a spear drawn back in her left hand, ready to throw from her vulnerable position. A vein on her left shoulder led down her imposing bicep before disappearing in the crook of her elbow. Her solid grip on the spear was evident in the tightness of her forearm. The woman’s blank eyes stared upward at her invisible attacker.

“I must admit this was purposeful on my part,” confessed Stheno. “I had this longer slab that was perfect for a prone figure. So I rushed at her before she saw me and knocked her backward. She fell onto this pedestal, believe it or not. I couldn’t have planned it better. As she drew back to spear me, I gazed into her eyes, and here is the result.”

Zenya took her time examining the woman. Her body was muscular but not overly so. Where the man was a bear, this one was catlike. She wore a leather belt holding a dagger on her right hip but otherwise lay naked on the smooth marble. Her exposed breasts clung to her chest, the dimpled areolas topped by erect nipples.

“Incredible,” whispered Zenya as she circled the work of art.

The woman’s left knee was drawn toward her in preparation to stand while her right leg lay on the stone. Her open thighs put her lower torso in full view. Zenya leaned in for a closer look. The smooth plane of the woman’s stomach led to a closely-cropped, stony tangle of pubic hair. Beneath that lay the delicate folds of her marbled labia.

The first rays of sunlight crested the distant hills.

“It is time,” Stheno said. “How do you feel?”

“Calm,” replied Zenya. “I don’t understand why.”

“It’s the tea,” admitted Stheno. “The extract of one of the native plants is a mild aphrodisiac. I wanted to put you at ease ahead of your transformation. No sense spending your final moments in terror.”

Zenya nodded absently as she watched the sun continue to rise on the horizon.

“Follow me,” Stheno continued. “Your pedestal awaits.”


Stheno led Zenya back through the crowd of statues and up the hillside to the dozen or so platforms near the tea table. She continued to the table and returned with Zenya’s bow and quiver.

“I want this in your final pose,” she explained. “Now, remove your cloak, and let’s see what we have to work with.”

Zenya opened the clasp at her neck and allowed the cloak to fall from her shoulders onto the grass. She stood before Stheno in sandals and a short tunic tied with a leather belt. The dagger still clung to her right thigh. Stheno stroked her chin and furrowed her brow as she regarded Zenya.

“I’ll leave this up to you,” she began, “but your clothes will come off soon anyway. Do you mind removing them now so I can fine-tune your pose?”

Zenya shrugged, undid her belt, pulled her tunic over her head, and dropped both on her cloak. She then kicked off her sandals and stood naked before the Gorgon, awaiting her next instruction.

“Ah, even better than expected,” said Stheno with a smile.

Zenya was shorter and thinner than the female warrior with the spear. Hers was a body befitting of an invisible thief in the night. Her loins were shorn to stubble, and her womanhood peeked out of the small gap between her thighs.

Stheno walked around to see the rest of Zenya’s form. Her blonde hair fell loosely on her shoulders, leading down her back to two dimples just above the gentle curve of her rump.

“Yes, perfect,” remarked Stheno, nodding approvingly. “Now, step onto the pedestal.”

Zenya did as instructed and felt a chill as her bare feet touched the cool marble.

“And you’ll need this,” added Stheno, holding the bow and quiver out for her.

Zenya took it, slung the quiver over her shoulder, pulled an arrow, and nocked it on the bowstring.

“I dare say you’re reading my mind,” said Stheno as she stepped back. “Now turn toward the hills, kneel, draw your bow, and point the arrowhead above the sun.”

Zenya turned, knelt on her right knee, drew the bowstring to her shoulder, and arched her back. Stheno walked around the platform, giving additional instructions to fine-tune the pose: left heel forward, toes pointed out, right elbow higher, and her back arched more to lift her breasts just a bit higher. And with that, Zenya’s pose was complete. Stheno stood in front of her.

“Now hold still and look into my eyes,” she instructed.

Without moving, Zenya shifted her gaze to the Gorgon’s face. Stheno removed her veil, and Zenya stared into her glowing, green eyes.

Nothing happened.

Zenya wondered if it had worked or not. She tried to ask Stheno if something was wrong, but her mouth wouldn’t move. Nor would her head, arms, torso, legs, or any other part of her. She was locked in place.

Her heart nearly beat out of her chest as her body began to sweat. Panic suddenly washed over her, and she realized what was happening. But as the panic crested, it quickly dissipated and was replaced by anticipation. Finally, she was at peace with her fate and ready to join the others in guarding the hill.

It began at her feet as they drained of color to match the marble. The transformation continued along her calves, reached her knees, and swept slowly up her thighs. As the stony wave crested her womanhood, Zenya gasped as her pulse once again quickened. The petrification continued along her back and abdomen, calcifying her breasts as the change surged upward. Zenya drew her final breath as her lungs turned to marble. Her heart beat once more before petrifying in her chest.

The wave stopped at her shoulders and spilled down both arms, locking the bow in place and ensuring the arrow would never be fired. Finally, it reached her fingertips and then resumed its climb up her neck to her chin. The world grew silent as the stone claimed her ears. The sun dimmed and disappeared as her eyes became featureless orbs. Her mind began to fade as her brain calcified, her last thought one of contentment and peace.

The petrification reached the crown of her head and cascaded like a waterfall down her golden mane, fusing it into a solid mass of stone. And with that, it was complete. The smooth surface of the newly minted statue gleamed in the sunlight. The outstretched bow cast a deep shadow between the solid marble breasts and extended down past its navel to its hardened womanhood. Its blank eyes gazed at the sun as it prepared to let the arrow fly.

Stheno walked around the statue, viewing it from all angles as she had moments before while fine-tuning Zenya’s pose. The Gorgon smiled as she examined her latest acquisition. It was perfect, exactly as she had envisioned it.

Stheno returned up the hill to finish her tea and bask in the morning light. She wondered when her next visitor would arrive and where she would decide to place them. A Gorgon’s work is never done after all.

Copyright 2023 Olivia Quinn

Photo by Jakub Kriz on Unsplash


Story notes

I like to imagine Gorgons as art collectors. In my headcanon, they’re not just monsters turning people to stone but rather curators of exquisite sculpture gardens. They are cunning yet also intelligent and even sophisticated in their artistic tastes. For the brave adventurers who fail to slay a Gorgon, the honor of joining their collection should provide some measure of consolation.

I wrote “Tea with a Gorgon” in early 2020 as the world entered Covid lockdown. I edited it lightly before publishing, but it’s essentially the same as when I first created it.


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Olivia Quinn lives in Ohio with her dog and two cats, who mostly get along. She is pursuing her BA in Creative Writing while working part-time in a lingerie shop. She may be found after hours standing motionless among the mannequins. Olivia is the Editor-in-Chief of Stone Cold Stories and an Associate Editor at Rock Hard Press and GAZMYK Magazine. Olivia is the author of the upcoming sci-fi erotica novel, StoneSport Chronicles: Volume 1, due out in the summer of 2024.

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