#2037

here is your trident and here is your scepter

“Miss Draye,” the captain removed his hat politely as he approached the group of women clustered on deck, “I must ask you ladies to stay below for your own safety. The deck of a ship in battle is no place for a woman.” Victoria Draye, bravest and boldest of the young women traveling on the Valiant, pursed her lips and took a step forward to place herself between the captain and the girls.

“I truly appreciate your concern, Captain,” she offered, gesturing out to the ships gathered round their own like vultures, “but it seems you are vastly outnumbered with little hope of victory. We will not sit idly by and wait for our capture; we will succeed in defending our lives in combat or take them beyond the reach of our captors. Now,” she gestured impatiently with the hand not holding her pistol, “have you firearms for my companions or not?”

here is your charm to lure the men closer

“Be brave, my friends,” Victoria handed each girl a borrowed pistol, locking eyes with each for a second of camaraderie and comfort. Some took the proffered weapon stoically, others with much hesitance. She showed them how to load and fire, then pointed out to the circling ships trading cannon fire with the Valiant. “Remember, these are not normal privateers, and if this ship is taken we shall not be freed or ransomed. The fate that awaits us is much, much worse, and it is better to die defending ourselves than to be captured. Do you understand what must be done?” One by one, the girls nodded assent and readied their guns.

here is your kingdom of water and death

“Little girl, you had better set down that pistol or you’ll bleed all over that pretty dress,” The enemy captain, just moments ago congratulating himself on an easy prize, was quickly growing irritated by the young women clustered at the side of the Valiant’s deck. Each held a pistol to ward off the pirates, though clearly only the ringleader knew how to handle one. Still, none of his men would risk a possible lucky shot when they knew the ladies were their’s already.

“If you insist, then I suppose I must obey,” Victoria feigned regret as she carefully placed her pistol on the deck between them. As she rose, she stepped quickly backward to come in line with the other girls, scooping up a small cannonball as she went. Together, as if they had rehearsed it a hundred times, the girls moved back and sat upon the railing. Victoria climbed onto the railing itself, light as a gull. “We shall not be coming with you, though” she said, and before any of the men could move the girls had shot themselves, their bodies falling back into the cold water below. Victoria lifted her chin, stared down the captain, and stepped off into nothing.

here is your vengeance in immortal myth

James struggled to row the launch on his own, though he was still grateful the captain had loaned it without question. Most of the crew knew only bits and pieces of his mad quest, but he had had to tell the entire story to the captain in order to explain why he wanted to go alone. In the distance the ship’s lanterns bobbed and swayed, a comforting presence; besides the gleam of starlight, the tiny launch sat in darkness. James took a deep breath to steady his nerves, then called out softly, “Victoria? …Tori?”

here is your trident and here is your scepter
here is your charm to lure the men closer
here is your kingdom of water and death
here is your vengeance in immortal myth

The water around the launch began to foam and roil. James grasped the sides, searching for the source of the disturbance. Something approached, something from deep in the water…

“Jamey? My little Jamey James, is that you? My, how you’ve grown!”

James spun around. His sister rested her elbows on the edge of the launch, floating as calmly and prettily in the icy water as any sea creature. She looked just as he remembered, though her skin was a pale gray and her dark hair hung in wet strands. He thought something seemed… off… about her torso, too, as if it were much longer than it should be, and her pupils took up far too much of her eyes. Her teeth, too – were they always that sharp?

“Sis…” James let out the breath he had been holding as all around the boat girls rose smiling from the water, all lovely and strange as his sister. He wiped away sudden tears and took his sister’s cold, webbed hand in his own. “How I’ve missed you!”

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