Siren's Song {ON HOLD}

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~ What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?~

Seagulls screeched overhead. The warm sunlight caressed her body and provided much needed heat. Galen sat up groggily, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She looked around her, glad that she was still alone. Her eyes drifted upwards, and from the sun’s position, she could tell that it was only the seventh hour.

The bottom of her feet were miraculously glass-free and healed, so she stood shakily, then trudged back to her tiny hut, knowing that her dear brother would still be asleep after a night out drinking with his sailor mates.

As soon as she entered, she made way to the bathroom, glad that she thought of storing extra buckets of water from the previous day. She washed away the sand from her body and nightdress, then dressed as quietly as she could, so as not to wake Eloi. She snuffed the light of the candle, and moved it to the stool that sat by her bed, then pushed open her window, welcoming the cool sea breeze that blew. ‘That should help him.’ Galen thought as she cleaned her side of the room, disposing of the glass shards, folding her clothes and fixing the bed.

Opening all the windows, Galen inhaled deeply then began her daily routine of sweeping and dusting, then doing the laundry. ‘God, this is the worse.’ Her nose was scrunched up in distaste as she washed her brother’s shirt, which oddly smelt of rotting cabbages. Once it finally lost its awful stench, she hung it up next to the others, and disposed of the dirty water.

She returned inside, peeking into the room to check on Eloi, who was still fast asleep, as expected. Peeking her head out the window, Galen noted the position of the sun as her father had taught her, and picked up the wicker basket from the kitchen. Her blue cape was secured around her shoulders, and she left, heading for the hills to visit her good friend Freida.

She was a nice elderly woman who Galen did odd jobs for, and in return, she would give her food for herself and Eloi. During her journey, she passed through the elite part of the city, where merchants sold the finest silks and jewelry brought in from distant lands. As always, her heart clenched with envy upon seeing the glittering jewels and bright fabrics flowing beautifully in the wind.

Sadness bloomed and replaced the envy in her chest upon seeing a group of girls together, laughing merrily. A family walked past her, the little girl on her father’s shoulders, and the little boy clinging to his mother’s hand, and the man and woman had their free hands intertwined; it reminded her too much of what she had and lost, and a tear rolled down her sun-darkened cheek.

Brushing it away, Galen picked up the pace and continued her journey. Her eyes drifted upwards, noting that it was the tenth hour. ‘Good time.’ She was pleased with herself, and how efficient she had become over the years. The homey cottage came into her vision after ten minutes, and Galen broke into a sprint as she saw a bright flash of fabric turning the corner.

“Freida! Freida, I’m here! Good morning!” The older woman perked up at the angelic sound of the young girl’s voice. “Galen, my dear. Good morning, darling. Come, come! Let’s get started for today.” The two women embraced, then Galen set her basket down and began assisting Freida with her usual daily tasks, as well as end of week tasks: tending to her garden, feeding the cattle, cleaning the house, doing the laundry. They talked about their week as they worked, and Galen felt more at home than she has ever felt in a long, long time.

Within the homey cottage, Galen sat on a chair stationed under an open window, sipping on home-brewed tea. Freida sat before her, mumbling over items Galen deemed ‘witchcrafty’.

She had an instant fascination with the craft after seeing Frieda sing softly to her plants as she tended them, to help them grow quicker. She was too shy to say anything to Frieda, not wanting to take advantage of the old woman’s kindness.

The room’s light, airy feel began to get heavy. The wind picked up as though a storm was rolling in, the shutters banging and leaves rustling wildly. Freida’s chanting grew louder and more frantic, the violent winds picking up chairs, books, pots and pans; anything and everything that wasn’t glued to the floors. Even Galen was subjected to the winds wrath, and squealed as she felt her chair leave the ground, and circle around Frieda, who still chanted as the ‘witchcrafty’ items glowed and circled each other.

The usually, kind, soft voice boomed, holding the power of ten captains behind it. “Galen, offspring of Marina, a daughter of the Ocean, and Vincent, a son of the sails. You do not belong. You do not belong. You do not belong on the Lands!” At the last iteration, the winds were abruptly cut off, and she was dropped to the floor, still seated on the chair.

Galen was glued to her chair, knees quivering and heart palpitating, her eyes wide and unblinking even as tears trickled out of them.

The ‘witchcrafty’ items were now stationary and dull, and Frieda’s chanting had stopped. She panted lowly, her pale, wrinkling hands quivering. Her lowered head raised; white hair parting like a curtain, and her kind brown eyes glazed over as they settled on her.

“Gods have mercy on my soul

The Ocean, my dear, calls you home.

He’s tasted your blood; he’s in your bones.

The Ocean, sweet child, calls you home.
But heed my warning.
Run, fast as you can.
The Sirens alone offer their hand.
Their hearts are filled with vengeance and dread,
Their only joy is feasting on men.
The deep, dark waters is where you belong.
He welcomes you home at the sound of a horn.”
At that, Frieda grew limp, her head smacking against the table before disappearing as she fell to the ground.

Freida slowly opened her eyes, grateful that the room was dark. She heard shuffling before the sweet, worried face of her dear Galen appeared above her. Freida smiled sadly, the memory of what occurred before she lost consciousness returning to her.

"Galen my dear," Frieda said, taking the younger, darker hand in her own pale, wrinkling ones, "tell me. Have you had any visions? Dreams? Of the ocean?"
Galen nodded shakily, her eyes filled with worry and fear. Freida sighed deeply, shaking her head. "This is not good, no. Not good at all."
Silence descended upon them as Frieda gathered her thoughts. "Is it true?" Galen asked before Frieda could speak. "Was my mother really a... 'daughter of the Ocean'?"
Frieda nodded. "I sensed it in you from the moment we met." Galen gulped, giving a single nod. "What did you mean then? The words you spoke."
Frieda sighed, sitting up from her horizontal position. "You know why I do this ritual, dear. To catch wind of impending danger."
"The call of the Ocean is dangerous?" Galen inquired, tilting her head slightly. Frieda shook her head. "No, deary. Your father heard the call of the Ocean, and he became a sailor, as did your brother. But this, this calling is dangerous. A call filled with malice and a thirst for blood."
Galen inhaled sharply, recalling the previous night when she stumbled into the water with glass shards in her feet. Frieda noticed, and tusked sadly, tears threatening to spill.
"Is that why the Sirens are 'offering their hand'?" Galen whispered, eyes downcast as she absorbed her fate.
"Yes, dear. The bloodthirsty cousins of Mermaids; they sensed you as kin, and called you to be one of their own." Galen shook her head, her dark hair sticking to her cheek. "Why wouldn't the Mermaids call to me then? My mother was one, wasn't she?" She was growing frantic.
"This has to be tied to the dreams," she thought, "but I have been getting those for months now. Does it mean something else?"
"She was, but I'm not sure why they didn't save you from the Sirens." Frieda's words broke the dam. Galen burst into tears, dropping down beside the old woman, and leaning into her for comfort.
Frieda pulled the weeping girl close, murmuring soothing words to her, knowing that nothing could soothe the fear induced by the Ocean's call. "I am so afraid, Frieda." Galen cried, clutching the woman tighter.
"I know, deary. I know. But they shall not get you, not as long as there is breath in my body." Frieda gently pulled Galen away from her to look into her brown-blue-green eyes, that blended so perfectly with her sun darkened skin, and drew Frieda's attention in the first place.
"I will keep you here, away from those salty waters. They will not get you here." Galen nodded, sniffing and swiping at her wet cheeks. "Are you certain, Frieda? I don't want to-"
"Nonsense, child. I would love to have you here. You'll be safe." Frieda cut her off, lovingly brushing her cheeks as she smiled warmly. Galen nodded, her resolve settling in.
"I guess I must tell Eloi that I'm moving out." Frieda nodded, and slowly stood on her feet. "You do that, deary. I shall prepare the extra room for you."
Galen left the homey cottage, darting through the afternoon crowd as quickly as her feet could carry her. There was an urgency she felt; an intuition that something was wrong with her older brother. She simply didn't know what it was, and was admittedly too frightened to find out.
Despite Frieda's assurance that she would be safe with her, Galen felt that this was the end of her mundane, peaceful life, and she was certainly unprepared for the transition.
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