Tail Of Vengeance
Darcy Sorensen, Grade 11, Casuarina Senior College
Darkness blanketed the Mourning Star, the raider ship anchored to the seabed deep below, chain swallowed by the ebony waves that beat upon the hull in a steady rhythm. The moonlight was obscured by charcoal clouds swollen with the promise of storms to topple even the mightiest vessel.
The ship lay shrouded in an absence of sense; the men demented from battling tempestuous seas that bucked beneath their feet as if a stallion. Lives had already been forfeit to the afterlife through Poseidon’s behest and men prayed fervently for atonement for their treacherous plundering.
The realisation of a woman aboard, taken from a pillaged town, turned the men’s hearts from their prayers in remembrance of a woman’s luck upon a vessels journey. Their hearts burned with intent as they bound her legs with knotted rope and her wrists with strips from her gown. They remained deaf to her pleas for mercy as she was set upon the plank.
She did not see who sent her plummeting to the frigid waters, tainted to coal by the night’s grasp, composed of icy currents that dragged her beneath the jagged surface. Her lungs screamed, echoing the thoughts within her mind in a desperate bid for life.
Lights speckled before her opened eyes; she knew not if it was a final glimpse of the stars as she sank to the depths or a hallucination conjured by her dying mind. Overtaken by the need for breath her lips parted to be consumed by the furious cascade of bitter water that slipped within her body.
Vision darkening with pain, hands freed from cloth long stolen by the current, she shut her eyes and waited for darkness, for an absence of thought. Her body did not grant her reprieve. Excruciating pain spread through her limbs, tearing at her throat as it was flayed open. Her skin shattered, legs trembling in agony, crushed under the pressure of an unseen force.
And then it stopped.
Her eyes slid open unwittingly, gaze absent the vast ocean in favour of the visage of a beautiful woman. Her hair like spun gold, eyes as fathomless as the ocean. The only peculiarity was in place of legs a tail undulated gently in the current.
“My name is Tethys. You are safe Ceto. Better you are one of us.” Ceto started at her name being spoken in a voice akin to sunlight, stare fixed upon the tail swaying beneath her.
“What have you done?” Her voice was hoarse, her screams and salt water having stolen any pleasantness from her tone.
“Only what you wished. I granted life, what shall you do with it?”
The inquisitive gaze was expectant, leaving Ceto with a yearning within her heart, darkness stoked by the cerulean eyes.
“I want vengeance.”
Tethys smiled. “Then sing with us. The men will throw themselves from ships to know the pain of a woman’s suffering as they are dragged beneath the waves. That is the balance that a mermaid brings. That is justice.”