Galen burst through their loosely-hanging wooden door, calling out for her brother. "Eloi! Eloi are you home?"
The man in question emerged from their shared bedroom, scrubbing a hand down his face. "Why must you yell, Gale-y?" His voice was rough with sleep, and Galen shook her head, glad he hadn't left yet.
"I apologize if I woke you." Galen smiled, walking further into the little hut. "You didn't, but my head feels as though it will pop off at any moment." Galen giggled, feeling nothing but amusement at her brother's situation.
"Then maybe you should temper your drinking. I am aware that you're a sailor, but really, is the aftermath worth it?" Galen said she she approached Eloi, stopping just before him. He was just a head taller than she was, and loved to remind her of the fact.
"It is, Gale-y. It is." Galen scoffed at Eloi's smug reply, and stepped past him into the bedroom, gathering the little clothing that she owned. She heard his heavy footfall as he followed her.
"Where are you off to? Have the men finally come to their senses? Did one bed you and demand that you live with him now?" Galen whipped around, staring at her brother in shock, ignoring the heat the spread across her cheeks. "Eloi!" She scolded, and he laughed lowly, climbing back into his bed. "I kid, I kid." Pause. "Unless that is what actually happened?"
"Eloi!" His laugh was louder, and Galen joined in, shaking her head at him. "I am going to Frieda's." She finally said, sitting on her bed. "I may be staying for a while." Their eyes met, his as green as their father's had been, and hers a combination of three colours.
"You'll be safe, won't you?" He asked after a few moments of silence, and Galen nodded, her eyes still not leaving his. "Good then. The timing is perfect as well. I am going on another voyage."
Something inside Galen snapped, and panic seeped into her bones. "You said that the previous one would be your last, Eloi. What changed?" Eloi sat up, leaning on his knees.
"We need the money, Gale-y. And I certainly don't want to keep you here any longer. You aren't safe by yourself." Galen swallowed, shaking her head as she leaned closer to her brother.
"It's not safe, Elli. I've been having bad dreams, awful ones, about Sirens and sinking ships. Please don't leave." She pleaded, and Eloi shook his head.
"You and that imagination of yours. Neither of you will stop me this time. The reward is too handsome to pass up. We could leave this place if I do this voyage, Gale-y."
Panic continued to seep into her veins. She shook her head frantically, trying to formulate words to make Eloi believe her. But deep down, she knew. Nothing she said would steer him away. Trying to explain what happened in Frieda's cottage wouldn't help either. Eloi was a skeptic. A non-believer.
"Elli. Elli, please. Please don't leave." Galen whispered, willing the tears not to leak from her eyes. Eloi shook his head, stretching out a hand to take one of Galen's.
"I'm sorry, Gale-y. I have to."
Galen dragged her feet as she walked back to Freida's. Everything in her was screaming to run back to Eloi, knock him unconscious and hide him far, far away from the ocean. But she knew nothing would stop him from leaving, not even her.
The lump in her throat hurt, and her eyes stung like when she's submerged in the ocean's waters with her eyes wide open, seeing nothing but sand beneath her, and blue around her in a cloudy haze.
She didn't even realize she was already there until she bumped into the wooden door, and Freida opened not a moment later, amusement shining in her eyes. The amusement faded to worry once she caught the look on Galen's face.
"What's wrong, deary?" Tears trickled from Galen's eyes as she swallowed at the lump, trying to convey her worries. "I-I tried Freida. H-he's going to die!" She burst into sobs, dropping the knapsack that held her belongings and folding in on herself. "Oh no." Freida murmured morosely, pulling her into a gently embrace.
Galen clung onto Freida as she wept for her brother, his hard head, and the life he will soon lose. She wept because she loved him; he was all she had left, and she felt so helpless to save him from her nightmares that would most certainly come true. She could feel it in her bones.
Freida guided her inside, murmuring sweet nothings as she walked slowly to the spare room, Galen dragging her feet behind her. Her bum met the soft mattress of the bed, and a satisfied sigh came out together with a sob as she sunk in, still holding onto Frieda tightly. "What to I do, Freida?" Galen wailed, heaving in between her sobs. "He's all I have left of my family!"
Freida held Galen close, her heart breaking for the mourning girl. She herself didn't have much family left, and they only visited in times of crisis. This sweet young girl didn't deserve to lose her family, and she certainly doesn't deserve a life of a Siren. A Mermaid, sure, but Sirens, those bloodthirsty wenches, no.
"I'm not sure, my dear. I'm torn between protecting you from the Sirens, and helping you save the only blood you have left on the Lands." Galen wailed louder, even through the pain in her already aching throat.
Galen was unsure how many hours went by as she wept, but when she settled into whimpers and sniffles, darkness had long settled. "I can't thank you enough for helping me, Freida. I'm truly sorry about ruining your dress." Galen said hoarsely, and Frieda tutted, gently wiping her wet cheeks and brushing her hair away from her forehead. "Nonsense, child. You're like my own kin; I shall treat you as such."
Galen almost burst into tears again. But her head throbbed terribly, and the pressure behind her eyes made it near impossible to keep them open. Freida noticed her struggle, and slowly rose from the bed as she lowered Galen. "Now now dear. Rest, and in the morning, we'll figure everything out." Galen nodded sleepily in agreement, whimpering as her head pressed against the soft pillow.
"Thank you Freida." She whispered, and Frieda smiled softly, tenderly stroking her head. "Anything for you, deary. Rest well." Galen could only hum before unconsciousness snatched her, dragging her into its depths. Freida sighed, quietly making her way out of the room and preparing for bed.
"Guide me, Gods of the Lands. I am uncertain how to go about this." The prayer slipped off her lips as she climbed into bed. As she settled in, her eyes drifted outside her window, to the half moon shining as brightly as she could, the stars around loaning their light.
"We need your guidance." As she said those words, her eyes fluttered shut, and sleep overtook her.
Her feet pounded into the ground, kicking up dust as she ran. Her hands shook, and panic was in every limb, pushing her forward, faster and faster.
"Please still be there. Please still be there." She chanted internally profusely, tears stinging her eyes. In the blink of an eye, she was throwing open a wooden door, her eyes searching frantically in the empty house. "ELOI!" Freida found herself screaming in the voice of Galen, utter panic soaking that one word.
No response came, and a gut wrenching sob spilled from her throat. "ELOI!" She screamed again, another sob following suit. Her feet began to move, and soon the docks came into view, bustling with people as cargo was being loaded into a ship.
It was a slim chance, but her eyes still searched for him, and found him, already on the ship, carrying heavy-looking boxes. The idea ran through her head, and she began to move, no matter how hard she tried to stop herself, or rather, Galen.
Keeping low and darting swiftly through the crowd, she snuck onto the ship, hiding in a crate full of fruit. "Arg! This one seems to be heavier than the rest." A voice like thunder rumbled, and she stifled her squeaks and squeals as the box wobbled and bounced.
She drew blood as she bit her lip to stifle the scream in her throat as the box was roughly dropped, in what she assumed was the kitchen.
Everything passed by her in flashes: Galen sneaking out of the box, ducking and hiding whenever she heard the manly voices approaching; her waiting til nightfall to approach her sleeping brother, who, in his sleepy daze, alerted the other sailors of her presence; the two fighting tooth and nail to get to each other as the other sailors restrained her, tying her to a post on the ship's deck; the captain, a foul-mouthed, heavily bearded man, not wasting a moment in sentencing Galen's fate: tie her up, and throw her overboard; that same disgusting man, putting a bullet through her brother just before shoving her off the plank, and into the icy depths of the ocean; a warrior horn, sounding victory as a wave crashed over her, submerging her.
Freida shot up, gasping, sweaty and shaking as the last of the images flitted out of her brain. Her eyes stung as realization sunk in.
There really was nothing she could do. Simply allow it to happen.
Galen's smiling face flashed through her mind, and she shook her head defiantly. "No." She won't lose this one; not while she still has breath.