“Sisters?” I questioned.
The witch nodded her head and looked over at the fish that was still floating off to the side of the cavern and she tilted her head to it. I watched in amazement as it seemed to swim away per her request. She turned her head back to me. “You’re quite stunning, my pretty darling.” She praised me, touching my shoulder again. I was drawn into her beautiful face, marveling at how perfect it could be when it was just so hideous before. “You’re here.” She smiled, looking over my head.
I turned, the cool water leaving a weird sensation on my skin as I moved through it to back away from the witch and towards the back wall. The fish swam back into the cavern in the light of the orb and its beady little eyes seemed to look right at me. Behind it was a girl. A knockout gorgeous girl. She was tall, very thin, and had flowing full brown hair and a stunning body, her pale blue silk dress clinging to her every curve. Her face was slightly longer than my heart shaped one, but her wide striking eyes that were even bright blue in this darkness were hard to look away from. Around her neck was a necklace just like mine, the green stone pulsing fast with her heart. Her plump lips parted slightly when she saw me, curiosity written in her expression. “What’s going on?” She asked with her pleasant high tone. When I realized she was asking me I just shrugged my shoulders. “Where’s the…the thing?” She whispered, looking between me and the sea witch and the witch laughed, making the other girl jump.
“Oh, Levi.” The witch smiled, walking gracefully to her. “Don’t you recognize me?” She asked her. “I told you that I needed to have three girls to complete my circle, and now I do.” She pet Levi’s hair. “Do you think I’m beautiful now?” The witch asked and Levi nodded her head in reply without meeting the witch’s eyes.
Suddenly an eel or other kind of sea snake slithered in through the water, followed by another girl. She was shorter than Levi and me, but her hair was longer than both of ours combined. If she were to sit down she’d definitely sit on her golden locks. She looked cautiously between me, Levi, and the witch. Her dress was strapless like mine, but hers was a pale pink with a silver sash synched around her waist. She was gorgeous like Levi, but different somehow. Her features were all sharp. Her high cheek bones, slender nose, and pointed chin, were all perfectly defined, giving her that high fashion look. She looked like she was afraid to speak, so I stepped forward, getting slightly closer to the witch. “Why do you need three?” I asked her.
She spun around quickly, walking behind the orb, leaning over it with her arms outstretched and the images of girls began to flash across it, three of them at a time, all gorgeous, all wearing simple gowns and wearing green amulets around their necks. “Since the very beginning, there have always been three.” She whispered. “Three completes my circle.”
“Circle?” The long haired girl asked, stepping closer to the orb, her brown eyes wide as she watched the pictures flash across.
The witch nodded. “Yes, Cassandra.” She whispered. “My circle of sirens…My beautiful little demons…”
I looked down and could see the stone on my neck flashing fast, just like Cassandra and Levi. “Siren?” I repeated, not wanting to say the other word.
“Yes.” The witch whispered, the echo of the s hanging around, ringing in my ears like a snake.
“Who are you?” Levi asked, crossing her arms over her chest boldly.
“My name is Alana Aquarius, but that’s not what you wanted to ask me.” She smiled.
I looked between them, tension floating in the water. “What are you?” I asked her softly.
“That’s my darling Serena, the honest one.” Alana cooed, leaning away from the orb. “I’m cursed.” She shrugged. “Life lesson, girls, never sleep with brothers…especially not gods.”
Despite myself I accidentally laughed. I’ve always been notorious for laughing in the worst moments. “I’m sorry.” I whispered, having to cover my mouth when I saw the grin on Cassandra’s lips across the space.
“You were saying?” Levi prompted Alana, taking her attention off of me.
“I’ve been a witch since birth.” Alana said, touching the orb, making an image of a happy couple holding a baby in their arms. “I became incredibly powerful, more so than any other in my time, and I caught the attention of a certain god, you all know him as Hades.”
This time Levi smiled, skepticism all over her face. “Are you talking about Greek mythology?”
“I’m talking about Greeks, yes, but they aren’t myths.” Alana said disinterested as she stared into the orb at the man who appeared. He was broody, but gorgeous. Then there she was with him, kissing him. Alana sighed at the image, then shook her hand and the picture changed to Alana kissing another man, he was strong and handsome, but he was under water. “Hades and I didn’t end well.” She smiled with an eye roll. “He found out about my little under water visits with his brother, Poseidon, and he cursed me. He told me since I loved being in the water so much, I’d stay here. He turned me into a monster and cursed me to the sea to live out my life as a disgusting beast.” Her voice was angry, the sweetness of it dissolving in the water. “Too bad neither of them knew I had another friend in a high place.” She grinned, looking at the orb again. A large man holding up his thick arms as lightning bolts shot down around him appeared. “Zeus couldn’t retract my curse, but he did give me a loophole.” She looked up at the three of us. “You.”
“Us?” I repeated her, glancing at the other two girls nervously.
“I need a complete circle of sirens to be in this form.” She said, gesturing to her body. “I can use my magic on others, but not myself anymore, so I have to have help. I find my three sirens, they bring me the souls I need, and then I feed off of the souls to stay alive. That’s how it has worked for hundreds of thousands of years. Now I have you three. I was getting worried, I’ll be honest.” She shrugged. “A complete circle needs a pure one.” She said smiling at me. “Pure ones are getting harder and harder to find these days.”
“Pure?” Cassandra asked and I groaned, making her smile. “Oh.” She said getting what Alana meant.
I was feeling a little flustered. How embarrassing to have my lack of experience brought up like that. I was suddenly wishing that Asher and I had had the time…
“Don’t worry, my darling.” Alana whispered to me. “You will, as soon as you finish what you’ve started.”
“You said 100 souls, right?” I asked her and she nodded. “If we get them all really fast can I leave sooner?”
Alana grinned, but looked annoyed doing it. “I wouldn’t take it so lightly.” She muttered.
“but if we did?” I asked and she nodded her head to me.
“I don’t want to take souls away from people.” Cassandra admitted, biting at her nails, but she jumped back, flailing in the water a little as Alana was suddenly right in her face. Alana’s eyes glowed green as she spoke, venom tainting her tone.
“This is the deal you have made!” She said loudly. “Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a sea cucumber?” She asked her. “I’d be happy to turn you into one if you’d like!”
Casandra shook her head fast, her long hair swaying with the motion. “No.”
“I think you need to remember your parents, Cassandra.” Alana whispered, backing away. “You all will do as you’ve promised, and when you’re done, you can leave.” She said turning to me. “However, I think you’ll find it isn’t as easy as you’re thinking.” She explained. “I need strong souls. You can’t bring me the weak and feeble ones that are already dying to lessen your conscience, it won’t work. If the soul isn’t strong, it won’t help me. I need men. Which only makes it more difficult. We cannot go far beyond Culliver’s cove, if you do your magic will wear off and you’ll die, so no venturing out.” Alana rolled her eyes. “There are rules.”
“Like?” Levi asked.
Alana glared at her through narrowed eyes. “None of you can go more than a few miles away from this cove, or you will die. You cannot leave the water for more than one hour, and if you are not back in the water before that time, you will die. If you try to trick me by bringing me weak souls, you will die.”
“So basically anything we do, we will die?” Levi said softly.
Alana lifted her chin, looking deeply into her eyes. “No, perfect darling.” She cooed. “Bring me my souls, and you will live again…really live again.” She whispered. “You’ll have the normal life you always wanted…just help me.”
Levi nodded her head, her expression looking a little defeated. I was trying desperately to keep up with everything that was going on, but I was so easily distracted by the slightest of things, like a random little fish floating by, or the way the green light from my amulet seemed to reach out into the water like a little beacon. I shook my head at myself, willing myself to stay focused, but focusing on anything but what was happening to us was easier than stomaching everything she’d just said.
“How do we…” Cassandra started to ask and I looked over at her too, since I had been wondering the same thing.
Alana smiled softly. “It’s easy…you hardly have to do anything at all…I do all the hard work.” Her voice had that ominous echo to it again. “When you find someone, they will instantly be enticed by you. Your beauty alone would draw most men into the water after you, but once you have one’s attention, this will help you.” She said touching the green stone in Cassandra’s amulet. “It will make a noise, one that is impossible to be ignored, then you’ll lure the person into the water with you.” She said so softly we had to strain to hear her. “When their souls leave their bodies, they will collect here.” She pointed at the stone. “I will extract them.”
“That’s it?” Levi asked her and I felt my stomach drop a little. I didn’t think that sounded like an easy task. Watching someone drown sounds like a terrible thing. I couldn’t help wondering if I can even do this.
Alana was behind me suddenly, pulling my hair away from me to lean into my ear. “You will find the strength to do it.” She told me. “Or you’ll live an eternity here with me as whatever I feel like making you into. Just think about Asher.” She told me. “You love him, don’t you?”
I frowned, feeling hopeless. “Yes.” I whispered.
“Good.” She said, walking away. “Now go.”
“Go?” I asked.
She turned back to me. “No time to waste.” She smiled. “Time for you girls to earn your keep.”