It was a journey to Starfish Beach!
| The sun was setting in the horizon and it was time to have a cheer, thus the crew took a trip to a rough inn along a tropical coast that was owned by a fun-loving and yet dangerous pirate captain named Captain "Parrot Charmer" Knuckles where pirates come to relax and recount stories and legends from their days at sea.
"What're ye on about, Poop Deck Nadine?"
"We saw a bloody siren, Cap'n, but gladly it was only one. A whole group would 'ave taken our ship."
"Where was that, lass? I remember it was all clear today..."
"I reckon it was the ship we plundered."
"That's yer own fault, lassie."
"Heh, ye know what be scary?"
A rather strange individual entered the tavern with a soft chuckle in her throat. Her clothes were dripping with water, giving the sign she had just come from the sea. A black and white bandana kept her short seaweed locks swept to one side and out of her gaze, she had green eyes with long lashes, a nicely curved hooked nose, thin black lips, and skin as green as the forest. She wore jewellery, a dark bustier top, and black trousers that were in a ripped fashion. Loud heavy boots could be heard clanking the wooden floor, a voice as soothing as the sea could be heard by all ears in the span, as a broadsword was unleashed and pointed directly towards the captain behind the bar.
"Well, if it ain't Davy Jones herself." Parrot Charmer snickered, sending the crew in a jeer.
The taunts and jeers of the crew never bothered the newcomer one bit; instead she proceeded with her order.
"Fetch me a ale, or yer head will be off wit' me blade. Says I, it'd be a great addition to the collection I 'ave so far."
"And what might yer name be, spooky fish lady?" Nadine asked, looking the new arrival up and then down with a cringing expression.
"Call me... Sally the Siren," she cackled, giving a toothy grin in the process.
"Oooh, those are some teeth ye 'ave there." Parrot Charmer eyed those rather sharp teeth of Sally's, they appeared much like a shark's. "Gotta say, what an impressive sight."
"Sweet natter won't get ye anywhere, now where be me ale?!"
A large serving of strong beer soon hit the bar table within moments, and Sally gulped down every drop there was in the large mug. That was sure to start her evening greatly, a well deserved size of beer.
"On second thought... the night be callin' and we better be off to Starfish Beach in the morrow, let's go ye miserable scallywags." Parrot Charmer huffed, raising to her feet and fixing the buckle on her belt, her own broadsword intact.
"Starfish Beach ye say? What about me loot ye thieved from me ship?"
"Are we gonna have to take her with us, Cap'n?" Nadine questioned, pressing her hand to her face and forehead.
"Nothin' will ever satisfy a siren, not even her own loot..."
"Be that aye, me dear?" Sally cooed. "It'd sure be great journeyin' wit' ye miserable bunch."
"Don't let the ale get to yer head, siren." Parrot Charmer tutted, seconds before calling out to the crew another time. "Let's go, lasses."
Once boarded the vessel, the captain was followed by her supposed enemy.
Sally attempted to bow before the captain, a sweeping gesture that saw a single dainty hand rolling through the air in front of her. Parrot Charmer merely rolled her eyes in contempt, only to have her hand held by the siren's and greeted with a kiss. The captain scowled, albeit the butterflies in her stomach spoke otherwise.
Nobody liked Sally on-board this ship, but Parrot Charmer found her all the more affectionate.
"Ye best be goin' back to yer locker, nah showin' yer face around here like ye owns this ship..."
"Ye won't be able to get rid o' me," Sally tittered with a smirk.
"Aye, ye aggravate me lurky 'n yer off this ship, savvy?!"
Sally's only response was a dark chuckle, she soon materialized into a cloud of thick dust and sealed herself away in the locket of Charmer's necklace. "Mighty well, Thea. I reckon this locker will do jus' fine."
The captain huffed at the mere mention of her birth name, though she also had to bite her tongue. Triggering Sally could potentially end with the crew's death, she knew she had to find a way to get rid of Sally otherwise the siren would follow her forever.
"See ye when the morrow comes, Sally."
Their tale began on a ship departing from the tavern they united at, sailing into waters and parts unknown, on a daring and desperate adventure to flee from what was once Charmer's dearest second home. Of course, the tavern was like a second home to Parrot Charmer, her first home being her navel flagship known as the Rusty Anchor.
It was a quiet watch.
In the market square of any city, a traveller could find the hawking of merchants, the piping of bards, the declarations of criers, a chorus with a poor conductor creating a cacophony of noise. So one would think, out here on the sea, that quiet would be a reprieve, a refuge from the chaotic tumult of dry land. Far from it, it was mind-numbing, isolating, and disquieting. Worse, it left ample room for a sailor's own intrusive thoughts to run rampant.
"You must find a lover and end this war at once."
Those words still lingered like poison in the captain's mind. With the stillness of the sea, they were often the only things she had to keep herself company on the trip. The kingdom had been blinded with years of bad luck, her kingdom was in jeopardy and so was her life now that Sally has returned from the grave.
Parrot Charmer, now captain of a ship, had been the talk of the court in her youth. The rebellious beauty with eyes of sapphire who practised fencing in the courtyard, who preferred the bow of a ship to the foyer of a castle, who constantly frustrated her parents' attempts to find her a match. It caused no end of scandal for the royal family, who grew ever more concerned each time their daughter turned away from her duty. Thus, she became a pirate and abandoned the title of princess.
Some men, more than one might think, saw her queer behaviour as a challenge. They thought they could tame the daring captain. Of course, they all wound up disappointed in one way or another. Each time the king and queen found her a partner, she found a way to scare them off. Like one young lord in the kingdom's history, who one day wound up tied to the mast of a ship sailing into uncharted waters. A wry smile crossed the captain's lips at the memory, and jolted her back into the present.
"But my child," her mother once told her. "Don't you see? The land withers because you reject love."
Love? She did not need love. She needed to be free, to sail the sea and see the world. Why could not she have been an admiral like her father? She was just as capable. She knew the sea better than any man. After all, it ran in her very blood! She was never more at home, more comfortable, than when captaining a ship in the midst of a storm, sailing into waters and dangers unknown.
The withering land of Mulberry had faded far into the distance, little more than a dot on the distant horizon. Her island home was suffering, and gravely. The fish were no longer biting. The trees had grown barren and no longer bore fruit. Animals were seldom seen in the jungles.
While she knew some in her kingdom would see her journey as abandonment, she was not about to leave her people to their fate. There had to be some way to undo this curse, some way that she resolved to find.
"What's more important, some petty love or my life?" Parrot Charmer questioned the many thoughts that roamed through her mind.
Her sailors, good and loyal women, slept soundly on the levels below. Dawn's early light had just begun to bathe the ocean in life-giving warmth. A flight of birds passed overhead, the flapping of wings breaking the grim and solemn vigil the captain had maintained for much of the morning. A sigh escaped her petite, soft lips, elbows resting upon the starboard bow. Half-lidded azure blue eyes gazed out into the distant sunrise, dreaming of destinations not yet dreamed.
The captain was clad in her usual gear that consisted of a black and white velvet striped bustier top along with a matching pair of high-waisted skinny pants. Her accessories were the typical striped bandana, a golden-plated belt which stored the broadsword, and white sleeves not attached to her crop top. Her skin was tanned and in contrast with the purple lipstick that she wore. Her blonde locks were loose, softly glistening from the humidity, and dancing with the gentle breeze. She was a rather sassy pirate that differed strikingly to the crew. Her crew only ever consisted of fellow women, and they were dressed more like peasants rather than like the captain. Only Sally wore a similar outfit to Parrot Charmer.
Eyes turned back to the water, watchful, always for some disturbance, some calamity eager to take her vessel unaware. What followed, though, was not quite the disturbance she had in mind, but instead, a strange splashing. The captain and her crew were not alone in this area, there was indeed company lingering in the deep sea for the captain has entered the mermaid waters.
Iridescent scales flashed in the dim light of the water, something moving curiously close to the ship. Whatever it was, it moved fluidly through the sea, quick and graceful. Quite often, it was difficult to make out what was actually swimming beneath the body of water, and especially since this 'fish' was entirely made up of green hues with silvery scales. Ripple appeared near the vessel, a dark and damp head popping up above the water, taking note of any life that might be on-board this grand ship.
It appeared this sea nymph was in search of something, of someone.
This creature moved closer, cautious, keeping her gaze fixed on the vessel. That was until she dipped her head back into the ocean water, she proceeded to swim ahead of the ship, and this time it was as quick as a bolt of lightning. Every now and then she shot a glance above the water and over at the vessel she had been watching closely for some time, she attempted to gesture the captain to follow her.
Perhaps only the royal family could see such creatures of the ocean, or in other words, guardians of the seven seas.
At the point she dived back into the water, a humming could be heard in her direction. It was soothing, delicate, and had a gentle energy to it. She went on to swim, gliding gracefully in the cold water, and this time never taking a look back. She was swimming further from the vessel, from her spot, and appeared to be heading towards a parade of rocks.
Perhaps this was a sign; this mermaid was trying to communicate with the captain in her own way.
The princess-turned-captain gripped the rigging below her tightly, calloused fingers sinking into knotted rope tied weeks before. Her eyes beheld a sight unlike any she had ever seen, a woman green as the forest swimming with the grace of a ballerina through the cool ocean waters. First just a head, but then so much more!
"Oh my! What a sight ye are, me lady!"
Captivated, her face broke out into a bright, youthful smile as that waltz through the waves continued. It was like music, thick in the air, a magical dance like one only ever read about in the stories. Charmer followed the mermaid, and not just with her eyes, running eagerly along the galleon's gunwale. In spite of herself, she laughed a girlish laugh as she watched the fantastical creature. But then the mermaid swam onward.
"Hey, where're ye going?!" Charmer called out to her, another laugh at the end, answered only by the gentle humming of the mermaid, a sound that could soothe even the fiercest wolf to sleep.
Realizing that this sight of the sea was quickly slipping away from her, she took but a few steps down towards the sailors' quarters, shouting loudly and firmly.
"Up and at them, lasses! To yer stations!" Charmer bellowed with a voice that was made for leadership, gesturing frantically with one hand, rap-tap-tapping bare knuckles against wood with the other.
Her crew were ready in mere moments, something that made Charmer rather proud. She had served with these women many times before, never with her parent's knowledge.
"Alright, ye miserable scallywags, let's get going!" Nadine called out to the team.
A salute to her captain, and then a quick hustle up the steps, trailed by six other sailors of varying pedigrees and backgrounds, a sudden whirlwind of red, black, and yellow hair atop a sea of blue cloth marching past their captain, manning their stations and ready to sail!
The captain shook her head with a faint laugh as she raced back up the steps, her heart pounding against her chest. She never had this much fun doing something quite like this. Her women probably thought they were about to fight! She had to follow the mermaid, though. In a life as painfully mundane and boring as hers, she was not about to let a sight so fantastical slip away, even if Sally had come back. She found the wheel at the front of the vessel, gripping it tightly in both hands and racing the ship after the retreating mermaid. One of the better boats in the Royal Navy, hers was a fast, sturdy ship - though possibly not fast enough to keep up with a swimmer as deft as the graceful mermaiden.
Nothing more than a green blur floated towards a band of rocks, the mermaid hoisted her slender body above the water's surface, now loitering nearby this little isle as she waited patiently for the ship to follow her path. Her plan was to lead the way to someplace else, a place where only she knows. She kept on with her hum, the melody of the mermaiden's call, a song that even the sirens knew nothing of. The song, of course, was a curse for their kind.
"What's this?" Sally spat, eyeing through a hand-held telescope and catching a glimpse of the green mermaid. "Yer as thick as two planks, Charmer, payin' attention to this."
"Why not tell me this earlier? Surely ye don't care about me that much, siren."
Crew scrambled up rigging to unfurl the sails, and then, with a fortunate gust of wind, they billowed powerfully as the ship began to creak and groan with speedy motion. From the crow's nest a single sailor kept watch on the horizon, scope pressed to an eye, scanning vigilantly for threats. The crew saw nothing, not even the green blur of a mermaid that the ship chased eagerly. All the while, the royal galleon sailed deeper into the mermaid's realm, following the green shape that was deftly swimming into the ocean current.
"Cap'n, where's the trouble? All be seeming clear to me."
The captain spared a glance over her shoulder. "What's the matter, lass? I thought ye liked waking up early!" Charmer said, the corners of her lips playfully tugging upwards in a roguish smile.
"Not this early, Cap'n, if it please you," Nadine said, a thinly disguised grumble. "I just want to know's the fuss about! We missed breakfast, the girls and I!"
"The fuss, lass? Can't ye hear it?" Charmer let the question hang in the air, raising a single hand to silence the crew. Faint, but there, the mermaid's sweet, soft song so unusual, so alluring, a melody of perfect pitch and tune, something unlike anything the sailors had ever heard. Soon a chorus of murmurs from among the crew drowned out the melody.
"Sirens! Quickly, Cap'n, m'lady, cover your ears!" Nadine exclaimed, frantically, running about in a circle as she performed some strange sailors' ritual to ward away evil... or perhaps that was just panic.
"I'm a woman, remember?" Charmer laughed with a roll of her eyes. "Anyway, I don't think it's a siren. I'm not really sure what it- what she is. But ye have to see her, lass!"
"What's bein' a strumpet anythin' to do with this?" Sally squinted.
"Still sounds like a bloody siren to me," Nadine panicked, slowly coming to a halt and, reluctantly, unplugging her ears. "... and still don't think's worth missing breakfast!"
The long chase finally drew to a close, the islet and the ship both in view of the other. The captain clasped her skipper's shoulder before moving to head towards the very front of the ship. To her, it was all an adventure. She did not want to miss any experience the wide open sea had to offer her. Chance encounters like these were precisely why she loved the ocean. She did not yet realize the significance of the meeting that was soon to follow, or the plans the mermaid had for her.
"Me lady, pray tell," Charmer began, with a sly little smile on her lips, leaning over the edge of the ship to call down to the mermaid perched by the rocks. "Are we to chase ye all day? Surely ye'll get tired!"
She fled from the rocky islet and leapt right back into the seawater, now out of sight.
"Ye aren't really one for talking, are ye?"
The captain leaned over the ocean a bit too much in her adventurous ease, something this sea creature took easy advantage of. Shooting out of the water appeared to be the same pillar of green that was lingering by the rocky parade, and this time she seized the captain princess from the vessel along the way. The captain yelped as a seaweed-covered hand gripped her wrist and tugged her off of the boat, gravity doing the rest as she fell face-first into the waves below.
"I told ye it was a bloody siren! She's been taken by the wily sea-devil, girls. Let's get 'er back!" Nadine bellowed.
A blue haze quickly enveloped Charmer, water soaking into her clothes, drenching her hair and covering her face in a sparkling sheen of dew. The force of the impact had fussed up her bun, and now long strands of blonde hair were fraying out from the elaborately woven braids. The nautical princess blinked. A thousand thoughts ran through her mind, all at once, as the mermaid kept swimming, dragging the blonde behind her. Should she resist? She felt alarmingly foolish and ashamed as her cheeks burned a bright red. She had been so curious about this creature that had caught her eye, so curious that she let her guard down and allowed herself to be kidnapped. She was not yet ready to become the thrall of some siren!
In the role of Sally, she took the wheel of the ship as the ship then charged through the ocean waves after the captured pirate princess.
Seven pirates from the north originally began their sails for adventure and conquest to Starfish Beach, albeit they were unexpectedly drawn towards the mermaid's sea. Not only this green mermaid that had kidnapped Charmer, but six other identical beauties rose from the water. The sirens sang from every shear to the sailors that were drawing near, only to approach the ship and begin their endeavour. They were enchanted by the sirens song, mesmerized as these ocean witches go along. It never mattered if they were women as sirens would go for just about anything in their presence.
If anything, these seven sailors will never see the light again.
The operatic song rose louder than before, it was a dark melancholy lullaby that sirens often sung. The sirens drew them in through their emotional song, their song of true sadness. Just like the sirens, it's a mystery no-one will know. They were cursed with this song, the melody bound them to the ocean and turned them into killers. The sailors ship soon went down, now the seven widows no longer weep as the sailors were veiled in an endless sleep. They went to dream with the sirens at the bottom of the sea, where the sirens freed them from their everyday misery.
Sally dived into the ocean after Charmer, locating the sea witch and snatching the captain princess from her grasp. Along the way Sally found an islet for Charmer to rest on, and in the meantime Sally stood by her with her broadsword firmly in one hand. While the seaweed mermaid charged for her, it was not long until Sally beheaded the witch once and for all.
"Oh, Sally..." Charmer threw her arms around Sally's collar, embracing the other warmly... even if Sally had a heart as cold as ice before. At this point Charmer even wondered why she held a grudge against Sally, why she was afraid of the undead siren.
"What did I tell ye, Charmer?"
"...Where is the ship?"
"The Rusty Anchor has sunk, and so has yer crew."
"It looks like I really am cursed... or gifted... with ye after all, Sally."
"Without me, Charmer, ye would've been a goner."
"Oh, I love ye, Sally." Charmer cried, true with her words.
"See? I do care."
Ever since Charmer lost her ship to the sea, Sally still accepted her on-board the Sirenia, Sally's black naval ship, reuniting with her crew once again after the events of escaping Davy Jones' locker.
No matter how many times Charmer tells Sally to go back, Sally will refuse. In Sally's tale, she was always deemed to follow. Once killed by Parrot Charmer, Sally came back to prove to Charmer just how much she's worth.
Now they journey together across the seven seas joyfully in each other's company, finally beginning their adventure to Starfish Beach like Charmer wanted before.