Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language and violence.
Seraena glided beneath the ocean surface, relishing the roll of the current shifting around her like a gentle caress.
She was a maiden of the sea with a heart of ocean foam that bubbled out with every melody she released to the tide. She sang to the waves and the waves sang back for she was bonded with the ocean both in body and soul. The sea was both a lover and a friend, a constant presence surrounding and settling around her.
The underwater kingdom of Atlantia was her home but could not house her restless heart for long, not when there was an endless expanse of seven seas to explore. Her gaze was constantly pulled to the horizon, anxious to see what lay in the space where the sun plunged into the sea. She swam from desert beach to snow blanketed shore and back again.
She had endured the violent tempests that tortured the waves to their chaotic satisfaction. She had watched from below as various ships sailed by, the voyages of men never ceasing to indulge her curiosity of their world. Opulent oak behemoths outfitted in gold to small rickety vessels charged the seas, and at times she would follow, a distant observer to their interactions. On more than one occasion she marveled at the jovial delights of the crews as they danced about the deck, singing tales of woe and adventure.
Loneliness creeped in during those moments, for though she had many sisters in Atlantia, they were more fascinated with attracting the attention of handsome sailors than traveling the world with her. Her endeavor was a solitary one, but she was never truly alone for the sea provided all the company she would ever need.
It wasn’t that she never considered a lover, in fact there was one she committed to memory so she could recognize his sleek black ship anywhere. But she loved the sea more and knew it would always claim her heart over any man - including the captain who sent flutters through her stomach.
She floated on her back, gazing up at the moon. Where the sea was her beloved, the moon was her mother, for she commanded the tides from high above including those that rolled within Seraena.
Often, she would speak or sing to the moon and imagine her reply. Seraena told her of the captain and could feel a shift in the current at her confession.
“Could a human ever love a mermaid,” she pondered aloud.
The current gently lapped at her cheek as if in loving encouragement and Seraena imagined the moon answering, “why not, love appears in many forms so why couldn’t those sharing the bond take different forms as well?”
She sighed, knowing that was the response she wanted to hear, but a fantasy unwise to indulge in.
Humans could be cruel; many had harpooned the gentle whales breaching the surface for air only to cheer as they sank to the ocean floor. It inspired a fierce rage and fear for her sisters who sought after men constantly.
She dreaded finding one of their corpses washed up on the shore with their heart cut out. Humans believed the hearts of mermaids possessed magical properties that could grant immortal youth and vitality to those who could acquire one and maintain its safekeeping.
A mermaid’s heart was fragile indeed, for if not given with love it would turn to sea foam. The worst part of the atrocious act was that a human had to convince a mermaid to fall in love with them in order to attain its immortal quality.
She did not think her captain would commit such a cruelty for he was a kindred lover to the sea, this she knew. His face though glimpsed from afar brightened with wonder when he stared out at the waves, and the glint in his eyes reflected a clear sky after a summer rain.
The familiar ripple in the current from a ship passing by roiled around her and she glanced to the side, elevated at the sight of familiar black sails and sleek hull. She leaned forward to catch a glimpse of her captain, but when he was nowhere to be found she dove towards the ship. Swimming alongside its edge she peered over the rail but there seemed to be no one aboard. How strange, she thought. A ship with no one to steer it like a ghost haunting the tides.
She balked. Fearing for the safety of the captain, she remembered that pirates roamed the seas and were crueler than most, seizing ships and slaughtering their crews.
Seraena knew she shouldn’t concern herself with the fate of a human but she needed to ensure he was safe. She ducked beneath the hull and swam to the other side, hoping to gain a better vantage point from there. No sign of the crew.
She grabbed hold of a ladder attached to the ship’s side and hoisted herself up, slowly inching her head up over the rail. The deck was empty, the stern devoid of its captain. Her heart immediately sank.
It was dangerous to be exposed as she was, and she could do nothing more about her captain. She turned to jump back into the water when from behind a stack of crates, an older man jumped up and threw a net over her.
She dodged it but he immediately pulled the net taught, snagging her hand. She clawed at the rope but more men popped up from various hiding places across the deck and ran towards Seraena.
Multiple hands seized her arms and pulled her aboard. She flipped her tail at them, knocking a young man to the ground and sending another over the side. A splash followed and shouts from the others rang out, frantically trying to subdue her while they retrieved the boy who thrashed in the water.
“Aye, you bitch,” screamed the older man who initially threw the net, rage setting his eyes ablaze. So different from the light in the captain’s eyes she admired so much. Steps thudded down the stairs leading up to the stern and turning towards it, she locked eyes with the captain himself, approaching her with a slow grace.
She sagged with relief, both at seeing him safe and confident he would let her go. His face, even more handsome up close with sunkissed skin that offset his bright blue eyes pulled into a sneer that sent a shock rippling through her.
Seraena held her chin high as he stood over her, staring down with disdain.
She had imagined his expression so different from the one he wore, expecting awe rather than contempt.
But this was her captain, and the hurt of his betrayal was worse than any burn.
“Why,” she asked, deprecating.
He squatted down to her level and leaned forward until they shared breaths.
“I have been watching you. I have seen your gaze turn towards my ship on more than one occasion. I figured it was high time introductions were made,” he answered smoothly.
She furrowed her brow in confusion. “Why accomplish the task in such a manner? Surely you hold more respect for the life of the sea,” she quipped.
“Oh, do not mistake me, I hold immense respect for the sea. But your kind do not incur the same pleasantry. Not when you have led countless men to their deaths with your… alluring witchcraft,” he finished, raking his gaze down her body.
She shook her head. “Mermaids do not harm men, it is not our way. Rather it is you humans who hunt my sisters for their hearts in your vain pursuit of immortality. Do not throw accusations at my kind when your own stands guilty.”
His grin pulled tight, nothing joyful in the expression. Without saying anything more he stood up in one graceful movement and strided away from her. Turning to one of the crew he murmured something she could not make out and the crew member raised his eyebrows, surprised at whatever the captain had said. As he walked away she called after him, “you claim to seek introductions yet none were made.”
He slowly turned around and stared at her with another sneer plastered over his face.
“I am Captain Jonathan Staghorn and this is my pirate crew.”
She reeled. He was a pirate, how could that be! Seraena inhaled a sharp breath and steeled her features to reveal no emotion. A maiden of the sea would not be trifled with lest the wrath of the tide be unleashed. Gone was any adoration she had once held for him, replaced with rage.
“You will regret crossing a maiden of the sea,” she seethed, “for my wrath carries the weight of the strongest wave, and I will destroy you if you do not let me go.”
The crew grew hushed and exchanged weary glances. Yes, be afraid.
She cast her attention to the roiling sea beyond the ship and closed her eyes, feeling the tug and pull of the current rushing against the hull.
She concentrated all of her focus on it, channeling a swell from a distant point that gained size and speed as it neared the ship. The crew stared in horror at the wave rushing towards them and she smiled wickedly, relishing their terror.
She had never delighted in the suffering of other creatures, but when it came to humans, especially pirates, she succumbed to it.
They tried desperately to steer the ship out of the wave’s path but were not quick enough and the swell hit the ship, crashing over the deck and sweeping multiple men over the side, her along with them.
Hitting the water, she was able to free herself from the net and propelled away as quickly as her tail allowed. She did not once look back, rushing to place as much distance between herself and the ship.
A sharp pang surged within her but she pushed it down deep within herself. She was a fool to believe the captain was any different from the rest of his kind.
Something sailed through the water towards her from behind and pierced her tail. She cried out and flipped, turning back to see a harpoon protruding straight through her glittering scales.
She desperately clawed at the tip but pulling it out was impossible without incurring more damage. The metal tip was jagged and would tear apart her tail more than it was worth. She lunged for the rope attached to the other end of the harpoon, knowing she would need to cut it loose and pull the barb the rest of the way through. Before she could grasp it, the rope pulled taught and dragged her back to its source. Back towards the ship. She cried out, desperately reaching to grasp the rope but with how fast it retracted she struggled against the water rushing around her. In no time at all she breached the surface and was pulled back onto the deck before the captain who had his feet braced against the rail with a harpoon gun in his hands. His face was a swirl of rage and sadness.
Perhaps lives were lost from the wave she sent their way, but she did not regret it. Nor did she pity the captain who was now her enemy. She lashed out but he stomped down on her tail and a spike of pain jolted from the puncture, causing her to reel back and unleash another cry.
“Release me at once human,” she demanded through gritted teeth.
His features darkened and any light imbued in his eyes was snuffed out by the shadow of his disdain.
“I will never let you go. Never let you crawl back to the sea. You will be my prisoner and atone for the deaths you caused on this day. You are a monstrous demon and cannot be trusted with freedom.”
She reared back, unleashing a gut wrenching scream as she swiped for his leg, nails slicing through skin. When she pulled back, blood dripped from her fingers and plumed in his trouser leg where she cut him.
“That is far from what you deserve, my dear captain,” she sneered, “for if you keep me as your prisoner then I will make your life a torment. A tempest to never be quelled. You will have to kill me to end my fury.”
He leaned down and shoved his face right in front of hers. “Then so be it,” and in one quick movement he unsheathed his dagger and struck up into her chest.
“I will relish the immortality your heart will grant me.”
She laughed at him, spraying blood over his face.
“What a fool you are! You will never attain immortality because you have not won my heart with love. Only death, which is what awaits you.”
His brows furrowed as he stared down at the wound he caused, worry crossing his features.
"Killing me in your rage makes you no different from the murderous image you paint of my kind," she rasped, coughing up more blood.
She fell back, hitting her head on the deck and stared up at the clouds gathering overhead. The sky would mourn her death, and she would love nothing more than a fierce tempest to honor her. She hoped the ocean roared with every breath that was stolen from her.
The dagger still protruded from her chest, the harpoon from her tail, and numbness slowly began to spread throughout her body. Darkness beckoned at the edge of her sight, threatening to consume her completely.
The captain pulled the dagger from her chest and pressed his palms against the wound to stop the bleeding. But it was no use. She was slipping away and would soon be nothing but a pile of sea foam.
“I am no murderer,” he gritted out through clenched teeth.
She smiled weakly and turned to him. “There was once a time when I might have willingly given you my heart. But by discovering your true nature I realized what a foolish idea that was.”
“Mermaids cannot love. It is not in their nature."
"Have you ever taken the time to uncover that for yourself? You trust the lies of men over the confessions of a mermaid," she strained.
Seraena stared at him, committing his features to memory for the life after death. She would patiently wait for him so that she may one day unleash the torment upon him that she promised. He truly was handsome, if only his character reflected the beauty of his outward appearance.
What a disappointment humanity turned out to be.
She closed her eyes and released a final song she hoped would reach the moon and the sea as a final farewell to her lover and mother. He stilled, his hands going slack.
She sang an eerie melody with no words, only the emotion to capitulate what she felt.
Her voice wavered under the weight pressing in, and with one final crescendo she succumbed to the darkness.
Before the young mermaid could dissolve into seafoam, the captain threw her lifeless body to the sea in reverence of the coming storm. He could feel its swell agonizing over her loss in the violence and rage of the waves. The ship thrashed, teetering one way and then another, the tempest threatening to plunge it into the cold depths.
All the while, Seraena sank to the bottom of the ocean, her lover and friend. But being unable to bear her loss, the ocean, a magical entity thrumming with life of its own resuscitated her.
Though she revived, the ocean took her heart as a keepsake so no man could ever attempt to steal it again. It resided in the darkest depths where no ounce of light could reach.
A heartless, monstrous beauty she became, luring men with her song to their deaths. She consumed their hearts to fill the void where hers should have been. But the heart she truly sought after belonged to the one who caused her death. She scoured the seas, relishing the rage of the waves that reflected her own. She delighted in the face of men’s suffering and bade her sisters to not fall for their wiles. In fear of what she had become, they cast Seraena out of Atlantia, for the murder of men was punishabe by death. However, her father, the king, could not bear to execute her.
She now wanders the seas as a force to be reckoned with, riding every storm from one shore to the next.
If you see a storm rolling in from the sea, know that she may very well be in its midst, searching for the heart of the man she once adored.