The Flamin' Siren
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"Aye, the ocean be a cruel mistress." The rough hand of the Captain lands on your shoulder as the final words leave his crooked smile. "Ain't nothing ya could've done about the ol' wench. She be lost, boy."

You can feel a slight twinge of annoyance at the gruff man's words. She was your first ship, afterall, and the fact that the sea had taken Her so soon was enough to make a grown man cry. The ship had been years gone, but old tales resurfaced during mealtime. This crew was a colorful bunch, and while you were still new to the crew, they all treat you like an old friend.

"Aye," you mutter solemnly, "I 'spose so. T'was mighty a fine ship, she was. Ne'er again will I Captain a ship, I tell ya. Losing the Harbinger t'was a sad 'nough site." Picking up your bowl of soup, you take a long, drawn out sip before continuing. "Have ya lads ever been through the waters near the Siren's Coast? That's where She went down."

Looking around the weathered table, you can see the rest of the crew perk up, however, none said yes. Instead, many shook their heads with a thoughtful look. You can't help but crack a small smile, as you know the legends of Siren's Coast have reached the ears of the crew before.

"Ain't that cursed waters there, lad?" the Captain spoke up. "Even the most experienced o' sailors avoid those waters. What business would a young lad have there? 'Specially when ya had little experience?"

Knowing that you now had the crew's attention, you couldn't help but let out a small chuckle. Aye, you were no longer the young lad you once were, but the memories of the waters beside Siren's Coast were still fresh in your mind. Closing your eyes for a moment to reminisce, you prepare yourself for the long tale ahead.

"Well, lads, I'll tell ya why I was in those cursed waters." Leaning in, you rest your elbow on the table and lower your voice. "Lads," you begin, "I was on the search for the legend of the Flamin' Siren."

"T'was many years ago, right up along the shores o' Siren's Coast. The Harbinger was a gorgeous ship, She was, sailed smoothly along that shore. Havin' heard the rumors o' the Sirens among the rocky cliffs, my crew and I had a thirst for adventure that couldn't be quenched by no ord'nary isle, nay. T'was the thrill of catchin' a Siren we seeked."

You could see the older Captain raise a brow, but you ignore the judging look. Clearly, he was more interested in the pillaging life, and less than thrilled about silly ol' Siren tales. Nonetheless, you continue.

"Ne'er have you seen a more beautiful sight, lads. Them cliffs are littered with treasures. Many a man has tried to steal those riches, but alas, 'tis a trap." You pause for a moment, running your hand over your scruffy beard while remembering the beauty of those shores. "Aye, the Siren's be tricky beasts, but clever. Coverin' them cliffs with golden trinkets to lure in sailors; what a nasty trick."

"Anyway, our hope was to catch one of 'em. We were hopin', just maybe, we could outsmart them beasts. 'Ell, we was hopin' they're smart 'nough to keep at bay whilst we held one hostage. Alas, they be heartless beasts."

"Wait, are you sayin' ya actually caught one?" One of the cabin boys interjected.

"Aye, lad, don't interrupt me, I'm gettin' to it." Waving the young lad off with an earned annoyance, you clear your throat. "Now, where was I? Ah, yes." Shifting to a more comfortable position on the hard, wooden chair, you continue your tale.

"Listen well, lads, for I ain't never seen anythin' before nor since. Them Sirens knew what they were doin'. Now, most Sirens be night dwellers, ne'er seein' the light o' day. But these Sirens, they ain't like that. They be out durin' the day, when the treasure glitters the brightest."

"Unfortunately, we learned that the hard way. Lost sev'ral good men to the Sirens durin' the day. We weren't prepared for 'em to be about, and hoped to take 'em by surprise. Alas, we just barely made it outta there with the ship rockin' from the way those beasts where hittin' the underside. Truly thought the vessel was goin' down right there on those shores."

Stopping for a moment, you thought about how uncannily clever they'd been. Never had you experienced such an intelligent evil, nor seen such trickery such as using treasures to lure the sailors being used by a horrid creature like the Sirens.

"You see," you begin slowly. "We thought long an' hard 'bout the Sirens and their trickery. It didn't make no sense."

"What do ya mean," the Captain ponders, "that it don't make no sense? If the Sirens want ya dead, they'll find a way, won't they?"

"Well, Captain, that's the thing." You hesitate for a moment. "What don't make no sense is, Sirens don't just decide to stop bein' night dwellers. It just don't happen, it's too unnatural. 'Sides, Sirens do just fine lurin' men to their deaths with their voices, why do they need to change so much when the singin' already works so well?"

The Captain gave a thoughtful look, allowing himself a moment to think.

"Well," he finally responds, "Perhaps the singin' wasn't workin' well anymore. Word travels about places like 'Siren's Coast', y'know."

Even knowing well that the Captain's words were given with good reason, you can't help but chuckle at it. Aye, it would be a good thought and explain it away to most, however, you knew it wasn't the reality. Nay, these Sirens could lure plenty a thrill seeking pirate with their legends. These Sirens had another reason for their odd behavior.

"Nay, Captain. T'was not 'til later that we learned why the Sirens are on that there coast like that. Allow me to continue my tale, and I'll tell you why."

The Captain gave a nod, motioning for you to finish your story. Clearly, the old Captain's interest had been peaked despite his earlier glances.

"We couldn't catch any sleepin' Sirens durin' the day, so, we decided to wait further out 'til nightfall. We thought then, we'd try again and hope they'd be caught unawares." You sigh. "As the sun went down, we started gettin' ready for the hunt. Do you know what they call the Sirens on that shore, Cap'n?"

"Flamin' Sirens?" he guessed, recalling your early statement about your hunt.

"Aye" you confirm, "At least, that's what we thought. See, most assumed that the Flamin' Sirens referred to the way the Siren's treasure glittered like flames durin' the day. However," you give a frown, shifting uncomfortably, "'Tis not true. It ain't the Sirens, nor their treasures."

You can see the confused looks of the crew around you, but you go on before any can interrupt with their burning questions.

"Once the sun was down, we set off back towards those treacherous cliffs. The waves had carried us out further than we had realized, but we knew we'd still have plenty o' time to reach the shores and make off with a Siren."

"We sailed for a good 20 or so minutes, makin' decent time, 'fore we saw it. In the distance, back the way we came, there was a light on the water. We figured it was 'nother ship, lured in by the tales of treasures, and we were prepared to fight tooth and nail for this bounty, I tell ya. We prepared to face whoever was comin' our way, and the light kept gettin' closer."

You stop. Rarely do you get past this part. The start of the tale is always so good, you feel it ropes you into telling of the thrills the Siren's Coast contains. However, the tragedy the tale brings is a hard one to overcome. The enraptured gazes of the crew before you urges you on, and gives you the confidence to finish.

"Nay, t'was not a ship. T'was the Flamin' Siren. Ne'er had we seen such a sight. As it got closer, we turned the ship to aim the canons for battle; but what we saw brought tears to our eyes, lads." Your voice is soft and quiet now. "Before us was a woman, dancin' across the waves. She glowed brightly, as if she was aflame; yet, no flames could be seen."

"The light was blindin'. She danced closer and closer to our ship, makin' the rest of the world so dark in comparison. Ne'er will you see a light so bright, lads. Ne'er. And lads, that light was so bright, we didn't even see the horrors that lurked beneath us." You swallow hard, sweat forming on your brow and tears reaching your eyes, but you go on.

"The woman, she got so close. We were all enraptured in her beauty, and she reached out to touch our ship. Then, she sank. Down into the water she went, and the further down she went, the more we could see it. God, she lit that terrible serpent's face as she was pulled down into it's waiting maw, whilst it lifted it's head higher to look upon us. Ne'er will I forget the evil upon the beast's face, nor the hunger for sailors in it's eyes."

"She was no woman. No, God, for she was the serpent's tongue. The beast kept our eyes on the woman, instead of the lurkin' monstrosity approachin' us from below. The beast lunged, and ripped my ship clean in two, lads. Terrible, gnarled talons reached up from the depths and pulled the hull deep into the waters, half of my crew with it. Ne'er will I be able to forget the screams of my men as the serpent's tongue lashed out and dragged them into it's hungry maw."

A small commotion can be heard from the deck above, but you pay it no mind.

"It's gnashin' teeth and terrible claws ripped through my crew with no mercy. Lucky I was to escape the hungry eyes of the beast, as we had gone down near enough to the shore that the rocks nearby were high enough to hide behind. The water was cold and cruel, the angry waves thrashed me about. I knew if the beast didn't kill me, the sea soon would."

"I climbed upon the rock, tryin' my best to stay above the vicious waves. The shores of treasure twisted and tattered the rocks around me, the trinkets and coins clattering as loud as the beast itself. The terrible sounds of the ship's last breaths had faded, and I looked upon the wreckage that once kept my crew and I afloat." Once again, you stop. A quiet sob escapes your lips before you can gather yourself again and move on.

"It lifted the top of it's head above the water, and it looked me in the eye. It looked me in the eye, and the evil within it told me I would be soon to follow my crew. A good Captain always goes down with their ship, they say, but I was no good Captain by the definition of this beast. It was as if it knew I would suffer more surviving after watchin' it devour my crew, my entire livelihood, than I would if it took me as well."

A long pause followed.

"Then, it swam away. It killed everyone, and swam away, satisfied with what it had done. I swear, lads, I met the devil himself that night, and he lives by Siren's Coast, deep within the depths of the sea, where no sailor would suspect him."

"But Captain," you manage to stutter out before reaching your tired hands into the bag set beside you. "Captain, I didn't leave that there cove without a single treasure, y'see. When I was down upon that rock, I was closer to the treasure than any man before me." Your hands trembled, holding up the pulsating egg that saved your life that hellish day.

The room was silent as you wept, a loss for words apparent among them all. Not a soul dared to speak, except for the unusual words that could now be heard from the deck above.

"Do you see that too? The dancing woman?"

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