Storms May Come – Chapter 3
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We stood on the rocky shore as the sun first peeked above the ocean, glinting off the water and painting the skies vivid colors. We watched as a dozen tails broke the surface of the waves, the glistening scales more beautiful than the sunrise. They skimmed across the water towards our party of women. We thought it best for the men to avoid the Sirens and their ensnaring song.
As the Sirens pulled themselves up to sit on the outcropping of rocks, gasps rang out around me. The other women were beholding the terror and beauty of the Sirens for the first time. A few took a hurried step back, and I couldn’t blame them. These were clearly creatures perfectly made to entice and devour men.
The last Siren to surface wore a crown of spiral-tipped shells atop her seaweed hair. Her scales were a deep amethyst, the color of royalty, among humans at least.
“Aetherina, the Queen of the Depths,” one of the Sirens sang out, announcing her arrival. The other Sirens all dipped their shoulders in smooth bows to her. The humans all glanced amongst ourselves, but I quickly bowed and the others followed.
“Greetings, humans.” The Queen’s voice was a whispered melody. “I understand you wish to form an alliance.” We leaned forward to hear, the song of her words pulling us in. “If you wished to do so when you came here, why did you not leave gifts along the seashore, as is customary?” The song had shifted to a booming bass, like a distant storm.
“I-I’m sorry. I did not realize–” I began, but the Queen cut me off with a laugh like the staccato strokes of a violin.
“How could you not realize? Surely your mothers passed on the knowledge of our treaty.”
“Our mothers did not live in this land. Our ancestors come from the inland kingdoms,” another voice answered softly. Fina, the best fighter amongst the women. With the shadows seeming to aid her, she could even take down any of the men before they noticed her presence. “Humans haven’t lived here for a long time.”
“A long time?” A wave crashed against the rock to emphasize her disbelief. “It has only been 300 years since we last spoke. Surely, the last generation passed on the knowledge to you, even if they were not your mothers.”
I stared at her for a moment. I shook my head and a smile spread across my face. “How long do the Sirens live, Queen Aetherina?”
She tilted her head prettily, but I saw the calculation in her eyes, trying to understand what I was getting at. “The average is 250 years…a Queen lives longer.” She lifted a slick eyebrow like this was obvious.
“Your Majesty, humans don’t even live to 100. Whatever humans you spoke to are long dead, their children and grandchildren too. Knowledge of any agreement has been lost to history for us humans.” I bowed my head. “This was a simple misunderstanding. We meant no harm to you or your kind.”
The Siren Queen surveyed us thoughtfully. “Then it seems a new treaty is in order.”
We watched on the cliff edge as the soldiers decimated our homes, put them to the torch, and searched to slaughter us. We had seen our homes destroyed many times over, this was not a new pain, and every villager was gathered, waiting for them to approach.
Finally, a stray soldier saw us, and proceeded to shout “Here! I’ve found the scum!”
Soon a wall of torches and glaring eyes appeared in the distance in front of us. We were few, roughly a hundred, and they were many more. We were armed, as armed as we could be, with small knives and daggers, a few of the men had swords and pickaxes. The soldiers waited like dogs for their master until suddenly Dreven appeared through the left of their ranks.
His eyes were bright with anticipation, a sick grin spread across his face as he lifted his arms high.
“My friends, why have you gathered here? Simply come with me to Zorin and you can lead a stable life. Your homes will remain, you can live in splendor without fear!”, then he stretched his arms towards us as if he was a father urging his children to come to him.
I mustered my courage and stepped forward, head high, and said “Without fear? In splendor? Save your breath and rid us of your lies, Dreven. Your poisonous words will no longer charm us. We know well what Zorin holds, a lifetime of servitude under wicked rule.”
Dreven cackled loudly, “What will you do then, hmm? You cannot hold us back, if you do not come we will bleed you dry and toss you to the seas!”
I took a step back and dug my heels into the earth, prepared for what was about to come. “You will be the ones to meet your deaths in the sea.” I bore my eyes into Dreven’s, and as soon as the words left my mouth a great roar of wind and waves crashing against the rocks filled the air. I watched as Dreven’s eyes grew wide with wonder and panic; the Sirens were here.
Suddenly a great force of water ending in a sharp point burst through one of the soldier’s chests, blood and bone splattering from the newly made hole in his chest, blood spurted from his mouth and his eyes rolled to the back of his head before collapsing to ground in a lifeless heap. Within seconds a dozen or more soldiers fell in this fashion.
Dreven let out an ear-piercing shriek of fear and glared at me with fury. I smirked and waved my dagger at him. In that moment a haunting melody filled the air, a sound like nothing I’d ever heard, beautiful and so full of sadness and anger. As the Sirens had warned us, we all plugged our ears with wads of compressed cloth sealed in wax with a rune inscribed in the wax. The song could still be heard, but it would not affect us.
A majority of the soldiers dropped their swords, shields, and torches. The light completely left their eyes and their limbs slackened. Without a word they slowly walked towards us, expressions blank. We readied our weapons but to our astonishment, they simply walked right past us and stepped off the cliff edge falling into the sea. Fina flashed her dagger and sunk it into one of the men’s chests, blood flowed from the wound but he did not falter, nor even flinch, and slipped into the sea. I watched as hundreds of bodies like rag dolls stepped off the stone ledge into the dark abyss below. I saw glimmering tails flicker as the Sirens quickly devoured the men.
Some Sirens that were controlling the water perched on various rocks below, arms flowing elegantly like the waves of the sea, large eyes glimmering like nocturnal animals in the moonlight. Exquisitely haunting they were. Queen Aetherina was in the center of these Sirens, her mouth wide, throat moving as the echoes of her dangerous song were heard all around. She was glowing, like an ethereal magic was surrounding her.
Few soldiers were left, most fled in fear, and we made quick work of the last who dared approach. Soon only Dreven remained. He was furious and afraid, but his ego would not let him run away. Ego was always the downfall of men, I thought to myself.
“You ignorant, ungrateful swine!” he spat at us, “How long before the Sirens devour you? They’ll get bored, hungry. You’ll soon be next, you fools!” He almost toppled over with anger.
“The Sirens share a common goal, freedom. Zorin will never give us that, and I would much sooner trust a Siren than you.” I approached Dreven cautiously, he was like a rabid animal backed into a corner, and I had to be careful. Fina was one step behind me, as we drew closer I gave her the signal and she flashed from behind and wrapped her slender arms around Dreven’s throat, kicked his legs out from under him, and had him pinned to the ground. Before he could struggle out of it I rushed forward, dug my heel into his right forearm, and brought my blade down swiftly.
Dreven screamed as his blood splattered all over the earth, I reached down and grabbed his now severed right hand and wrist. One of our men grabbed what was left of Dreven’s right arm and shoved a torch against it, cauterizing the wound. Dreven squealed again and his face drained of color. This was the mark of a traitor in Zorin.
I dropped his hand into a leather satchel and swung the cord around Dreven’s sweaty neck. “Return to your brother, traitor. Tell him what happened here, and that we are in league with the Sirens. Tell him to come for us, if he dares.”
What did you think of the story? Would you like to read more about what happens next for the villagers living by the Siren Sea? Let us know in the comments!
Thanks so much for reading!
-Clever & WTF