Jaffa didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late. One second he was facing the open ocean, urging his boat on with his Sea Craft and the next; the loud, sick sound of wood splintering and the cold spray driving the Siren’s Song from his mind. He managed to utter an incantation of Breathing before he plunged headfirst into the depths. He saw the Siren as she entered the water; beautiful maid giving way to the horror of pointed fangs, a sharp finned face and a mouth full of too many rows of teeth. He waved his arms in the Currents Summon but his thrust seemed to do little good. The Siren wove through the riptides with a serpentine grace but the last one caught her tail dragging her away from his in a wild haphazard manner. He was about to breath a sign of relief when he saw her now distant form uncurl itself and began heading back in his direction. Jaffa cursed then cursed again for wasting precious breath and energy. He was already taxed from using his Sea Craft to propel his boat. He knew that it had a little foolish and reckless to unnecessarily use up his energy but he hadn’t been expecting to have to fight of a Siren on the way home. He spread his arms wide and summoned Wall of Water. He knew it would tax him to near his limit and the effect would be to only half its strength but he hoped that it would be enough to deter her from taking him as a meal. Usually Siren’s hated to have to pursue prey, preferring them to come docile and lay at their feet for the feasting. However if a Siren is desperate enough and powerful enough; she will hunt a man down, wearing his will away with snatches of song till he submits to her and is killed.
’Please let this work,’ he prayed and then with on swift motion, he brought his hands together and thrust his palms outward; the last of the incantation ending with the motion. The water in front of him did nothing for a moment, then it began to roil and writher. The violence growing greater and greater as the Siren approached. Jaffa saw the look od surprise as she approached and then the horrible realization of what was about to happen. He saw her try to turn but by that time it was too late. The water blasted forward and he heard the high pitched wail of the Siren as it slammed into her, hard as stone. Her body was dragged away, pitching and rolling wildly in the mass of bubbles, chaotic currents and general mass movement. A wave on intense exhaustion swept over him and the world blurred for a few seconds. He felt the touch of water in his nostrils and he made for the surface breaking it just as his incantation gave out. He sucked in mouthful of air and leaned himself back to float atop the water. He laughed a little manically as a feeling of euphoria filled him.
“I can’t wait to tell Misha of his dad’s latest adventures,” he said to the sky. He chuckled again and then sobered a bit as his thoughts turned to his wife. “Laura in going to kill me.” The clouds over head seemed to agree.
He opened his mouth and was about to being the complicated incantation for Swimming when he was violently hit from the side, his body pitching out of the air and ricocheting off the surface of the hard twice before he slowed enough to sink into the ocean. He fought to the surface, gulping in mouthfuls of air as he scanned the horizon. There was nothing but dark, rippling water. He winced as he touched his side and then gasped a bit as he felt ragged flesh. Then another hit from behind this time and he was shoved underwater. He had no time or power to fight whatever it was that was pulling him down. There was a sudden stab pain across his stomach and then he was flung back to the surface. Again he fought to get air in his lungs and found himself in a billowing cloud of red. He looked at the spreading stain in shock and then looked down to see grayish bulges poking out of his stomach. It took him a few seconds to realize that t was his own intestines trying to make their way out of his body. He wrapped one arm around the gaping wounds in a vain attempt to hold himself together, while the other desperately tried to keep him above water.
Then in front of him, a monstrous face rose out of the depths. A sick, choking noise bubbled out of his throat as he realized that this was the Siren that he had fought with just a few minutes before. Half her face was skinless and when she reached out to take hold of his shoulders, he saw exposed bone along her arms. She drew him towards her and pressed a slow kiss to his lips. Images of his wife and child flashed before his eyes and tears welled up; Jaffa knew he wasn’t going to make it home to them. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t going down without a fight. The Siren drew away and moved to press her lips against his neck. He knew he would only have a few seconds before she tore his life away. As he felt her teeth scrape against his neck he began chanting. The words tumbling furiously from his lips even as she bit down into his flesh, tearing through skin, muscle and blood vessels. His hands grabbed into her, his fingers working as fast as they could to mark the magic symbols into her flesh. She didn’t seem to notice what he was doing. His voice turned into a high whine and then horrible gurgling as she continued to consume him but the words didn’t stop. He felt the almost scalding heat of his blood along his shoulder and the sensation seemed to provide him with extra strength. He heard his voice as if from a distance, strong and powerful. The Siren pulled away and looked at him with her mouth full of his flesh and his blood coating her chin. He felt his face twist into what he hoped was a smile as the last of the incantation was said and written. His vision was darkening now but of what he could see, the incantation had worked.
“I hope you live a thousand years,” he said, his voice faint and gravelly, “And suffer every day of it.” She bared her teeth at him and tore his throat out.
Syrena licked the last of the Sea Mages blood from her fingers and watched as her own flesh knitted itself together. She reached out for the last of his intestines and devoured it in with loud, slurping noises. She belched, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and leaned to rest against a tree. She loved intestines the best; the slick coils were just heavenly to slurp down. She ran a now normal hand over her bulging stomach; with a meal like this she wouldn’t have to eat again for at least another three days. She would just lay here and sing the blissful days away. She struggled to her feet and made her way from the bloody mess to the small outcropping that jutted out from the cove where she had made her home. She settled down, with her feet dangling in the water and leaned back onto her hands. This was the first time in a long while that she had actually had to fight for a meal like that. Normally she would have not challenged him, but she had been starving. So few were beginning to pass by her stretch of the seas. As much as she loved it here, she knew that she would have to relocate soon. But enough of such unhappy thoughts. She had fought with a very powerful Sea Mage and had won! That alone was worth of at least a day of solid singing.
She laughed to herself, faced the beautiful still ocean, opened her lips, took a breath but instead of lovely melodious tones; a loud, harsh scream erupted. She shot upright and gasped, covering her mouth with one hard. What was that! Her eyes darted around furtively for a few seconds then she dropped her hand. She took several deep breaths and tried again. Her normally lovely voice came out as a one loud monotone scream. Syrena grit her teeth and tried again. And again. And again. The result was the same. No magical luring notes. Only loud ugly screams. She sprang to her feet, her breath coming in rapid gasps. She grabbed herself around the middle and then she looked down at her bulging stomach. The Sea Mage! She looked back up, not seeing the horizon but remembering the words that the Sea Mage was chanting while she had been eating him away slowly as a punishment. Was this his way of punishing her for killing him? She quickly knelt at the edge of the out cropping, stuck her fingers down her throat and began vomiting back up his remains.
When the last of him had been ejected from her stomach, she stood again and opened her mouth and sang. There was no change. She chocking down a sob and tried again. This time, the screams came out as a low grating moan. She dropped to her knees with her hands clasped so tight over her mouth, she could feel the imprint of her teeth. Tears rolled hotly down her cheeks. This could not be happening to her! How was she going to survive if she couldn’t sing? How was she going to hunt? She let out a low wail and tried one more time. A watery, pathetic scream echoed around her. She felt fresh tears wanting to come up but she pressed her hands to her eyes and forced away the tears. Crying over this would not solve anything. She needed to think clear headedly about this. She took several deep breaths.
“Everything was going to be alright, Syrena,” she told herself, “Everything is going to be fine. It hadn’t been that long since you’ve had eaten him so maybe this was temporary. Maybe if you waited till morning, the effects would have worn off. Just wait and be calm till morning alright?” The last words was said chokingly but she forced away the tears and headed back into her cove. It wouldn’t do to sit out there all night and worry so she sat in her cave and worried all night.
At the first light of dawn, Syrena practically ran out onto the outcropping and stood, facing the sea. She clenched and opened her fists nervously a few times and took breaths. She closed her eyes, tilted her head back a little and let her voice box open. She felt the air flow smoothly in and out her and she parted her lips slowly. Then she took one deep breath letting it fill her chest to full capacity and then let it out. The scream was loud and almost beautifully shrill. The hope that she had died within her at the sound. She didn’t stop the scream this time but fed it with her now dead hope, pushing all her fear, sorrow, anger and rage into the scream. It began to grow louder and louder until something inside her broke. And the scream went from loud to almost soundless; but she felt the force of it change from just forceful noise to something sharp and focused. At that moment, the ocean began to shimmer and roil. She tilted her head down, directing the scream and the ocean burst apart. The spray shot into the air and she saw the water hollowing she continued to focus her scream. She shut her mouth abruptly and the water splashed back down and the filled in on itself. She stood with her gaze fixed in surprise and shock at what she had just done.
She took several slow breaths and turned inland this time, towards the foliage that stood around her cove. She screamed again, pushing hard until she hit that sharp, focused scream and watched in horror and awe as her voice tore apart the trees and shrubbery and chipped off rocks. She turned slowly back to the ocean as if in a daze. She reached up and touched her lips almost reverently. Then without a backward glance she spun around, ran to the water and dove in. Her body transformed from maiden to sea monster and with almost effortless flicks of her tail she was sea bound.
It took her days of travel before the cold sea give way to warmer waters. She had been travelling mostly by instinct but now she refocused herself and poked her head up to confirm that she was indeed where she was supposed to be. The large landmass confirmed her instinctual trajectory and she ducked back under water and continued inland. She traversed the shoals slowly, feeling for the subtle shift in current that would tell her where the hidden inlet was. She found it and turned into the current, forcing her way against it, until at last she broke through the magical barrier. The water changed immediately from warm and clear to dark and hot. She inhaled the musky, stale waters of the Sea Witches Swamp, grimaced and made her way gently along the river. She was almost gagging by the time she arrived at the Sea Witches hut. She rose out of the water onto the porch, then turned and vomited out thick, brown sludge.
“I see that you are doing well,” a rich, sing song voice spoke behind her. Syrena turned and glared at the Sea Witch before turning back and finished retching up the last of the Sea Witch’s water born defenses.
“You are misled,” she choked out the words, “Dyrama, something is wrong with me.” She turned to find herself being pushed onto her back and Dyrama straddling her waist. Syrena hissed and thrashed to push the Sea Witch off her. With one fluid motion, Dyrama grabbed both her hands in one of her own and held them above her head, her thighs clamping her sides like a vise and she placed her other hand flat against Syrena’s face. She leaned in close, muttering harsh, guttural words, her eyes slowly changing colour and her hand growing hotter and hotter; until with the last word the Sea Witch’s eyes were orbs of pure black and her hand felt like a brand of fire against Syrena’s skin. She heard herself screaming and just before her voice reached it killing tones; the Sea Witch snatched her hand away and leapt off her. Syrena rolled onto her side with a sob and curled into herself.
“Whoever did this to you was extremely powerful,” Dyrama said casually, offering her hand. Syrena frowned at her, took the hand and surged up. She grabbed Dyrama around the throat with her free hand and slammed the Sea Witch up against the hut wall. Dyrama smiled at her, showing blackened teeth and a waft of hideous breath. Syrena snarled at her and then let her go.
“Can you cure the screams?” Syrena asked. Dyrama frowned at her.
“Screams?” What screams? I was talking about your face?” Syrena started back at her.
“My face? What about my face?” The Sea Witch nodded to the inside of her hut and Syrena strode to the tall mirror. She looked at her reflection and gasped.
“What…” her voice failed her. She ran her hands over her face and her gaze ran down the length of her naked body. She was stunningly beautiful. It was still her but it was as if someone had simply taken the best of her and made it even better. There was literally no flaw in her body. She saw Dyrama come up behind her and the Sea Witch placed a hand on her shoulder. With a few words, Syrena saw her body shift from maiden to her sea form and she was no longer a monster. She choked back a sob at the terrifyingly lovely face that looked back at her.
“Enough!” she begged and spun away from the mirror, “Enough please!” She sank to the floor, burying her face in her hands. Dyrama sat beside her, leaning her shoulder against hers. They sat until Syrena panicked breathing evened out.
“Now what is this about screams?” she asked. Syrena led her outside and funneled her rage and sadness into her new voice, tearing apart several trees and cutting new path for the river to follow. She looked back to see Dyrama staring at her, mouth open and eyes wide. Her heart sank.
“I don’t suppose you can cure me?” she asked, her voice small. Dyrama stepped slowly to her and cupped her face in her hands.
“My poor Siren,” she said softly, “This Work on you was a Blood Work. The only one who can undo it will be the one who did it.” Syrena felt her world spin violently. She clutched at the Sea Witch.
“He’s dead. I ate him,” she said dazedly, “I have doomed myself. No one will accept me like this. No one will help. No one can help. I am lost.”
She tore herself away from Dyrama’s pitying face, unheeding of the Sea Witch’s words, dove into the river and without thinking about where she was going; heading out to sea.