The sea-witch spat into the bowl of gull feet and toad blood. Her gnarled fingers beckoned to the captain.
“Tell me what you seek,” her voice slithered through the air.
“Riches!” he bellowed, irritated at her stalling tactics. “Hidden treasures of the sea and land. I already told ye this, hag!”
She sneered at him over the plate, a grotesque grin splitting her face.
“You cannot rush the spell, Captain! The words must be spoken at the correct time, or all the work is for nothing.” Fetid lips pulled away from rotting teeth in a mockery of a smile, “And you’ll still owe me for my time.”
The captain scowled, hand resting on the hilt of his cutlass in a mute threat.
Stirring the spit and blood with an old white bone, she peered into the contents.
“Yes… Yes. I see a way for you to have what you seek.”
“Speak the answer then and let me be rid of you!”
“There is an island,” she began, leaning over the table between them. “A secret island where a siren lives. She lures unsuspecting sailors to her den and snatches their gold and jewels for herself! I have been shown the way to this island,” she cackled, pushing the bowl towards him as if he could read the portents. “But there is great danger! No man yet has been able to resist her charms.”
She leered at him, extending her rag-covered bony arm out, palm open.
Captain Lucius “Lucky” Crow growled lowly, dumping a few coins into her grubby hand.
The witch cackled again, rummaging around in her filthy, cluttered shack until she found a piece of parchment and a quill. Dipping the quill into the bowl of blood and spittle, she began to draw a map with a shaking, knotted hand.
“Follow the current west until the water is another hue. The beauty of the place lulls the stupid into placidity. Do not let the enchantress speak, or you will fall under her spell!”
When she stepped back to appraise her work, Lucius snatched the map from her. “I’ve had enough of your devil-tongue, woman.” Handing the map back to his first mate, he fluidly drew his sword from its sheath. His voice was low and threatening, “If you sell this information to any other sailor, I will return and cut out your crone’s heart.”
Snickering and rubbing her hands together she spit back, “I shall simply wait until the signs reveal that the charmer has taken your souls and your treasures.”
Lucius drew himself up to his full height, “I am the Captain of the Siren’s Call, witch. I have faced such a creature before.” He spun on his booted heel and stormed out of the shack with his men in tow.
Back on board the ship, Lucius and his officers shut themselves into the captain’s quarters. His first mate, Nigel Shark Tooth, so named for the chain of teeth he wore about his neck, spoke first.
“Sounds like easy coin, Cap’n.”
The navigator and second in command, Billy Blackwell countered, “Aye, but only if’n we can find the island.”
Lucius nodded and pushed the map to Blackwell. The candlelight danced and cast shadows over the map as the three men leaned in to pour over its contents. The air in the room grew tense and the other two watched Billy frown in concentration, turning the map this way and that. After long moments of silence the shaggy-haired navigator looked up and smiled. A golden tooth flashed in the firelight.
“I can get us there.”
The captain turned to his first mate. “Nigel? Are you up to the task?”
The three men grinned, plotting and drinking well into the night.
The sun was just beginning to rise when Lucius found his way to his bed where his wife slept. His breath stank of rum, and she knew from the raucous laughter she heard all night that he would be in the mood for her wifely attentions.
Robin loved the life on the open sea, and she fancied the advantages of being the captain’s wife. On a prosperous pirate ship, she enjoyed many luxuries that the ladies of the land couldn’t afford. Pretty dresses, jeweled necklaces, all the rum she could drink, the wind in her hair, and freedom. Freedom from everything but her husband. There was no love in her heart for the man. He could be cruel and vicious.
“But,” she thought with a wicked smile, “At least he satisfies.”
He caught one hand in her sun-bleached hair and turned her face to him. He slid the blankets aside, exposing her to the cool air in the room. She was already naked. While he pawed at her breasts ineffectively, she nimbly released him from the confines of his trousers. He dwarfed her small hands, so she was forced to use both. Her fingers deftly aroused him to fullness and the anticipation made her more ready than his drunken groping. So she didn’t have to smell his awful alcohol-soaked breath, she turned to grip the edge of the mattress, presenting her round bottom and golden treasure. Grasping her hips, he entered her and she moaned as she expanded to accommodate his girth.
Grunting and thrusting he rode her harder and harder, fingers digging pleasantly into her flesh in his need. Writhing in pleasure, she bucked and screamed as they fulfilled each other. He dragged her roughly down on him one last time and he twitched and erupted inside her. She waited until he collapsed into inebriated sleep before she got up from the bed.
Bare feet slapping against the deck, she made her way to the prow of the ship completely naked. The crew stared at her with covetous eyes every time she did this. Robin didn’t care. She stood and let the wind dance through her hair for a time, savoring the crashing of the waves and the warmth of the sun before she went back to get dressed.
They sailed for days, the crew growing more and more anxious. Tension was high, and Robin began to fear mutiny. She kept herself to the captain’s quarters, which unfortunately meant spending quality time with her husband. Lucius had no patience for her ideas or conversation, and basically ignored her unless she was nude or he was drunk.
Nigel and Blackwell came frequently, and when they showed up Lucius kicked her out. She walked the decks and as she passed the crew stopped their conversations. Robin felt their eyes on her but this time it made her blood run cold. She stopped at the prow, her favorite spot on the ship, and leaned against the railing. The waves slid by, lulling her into such a daze that she almost missed their salvation. Far off the starboard bow, the ocean turned purple.
The cabin door banged open as Robin burst through on their meeting. Her husband half-rose from the table, his face a thundercloud.
“The ocean changed color,” she blurted, cutting off whatever angry remarks had been boiling up. As a single entity the men rose and, pushing her aside, ran to see for themselves. Nigel ran to make course corrections. Blackwell clapped the captain on the shoulder, and whatever hostility had been brewing with the crew dissipated instantly. Of course no one congratulated her. All praise went to her husband.
The ship swung around and as they sailed further, Robin saw that the water was so crystal clear that she could see all the way down to the coral reefs that gave the waves their odd tint. Siren’s Call was one step closer to the island, and their fortune.
It was a well-kept secret as to how Captain Lucky Crow managed to defeat the siren that gave his ship its name. Only Nigel and Lucius climbed into the ship’s boat and rowed to the shore of the island. When they made land, Lucius clasped his first mate on the shoulder.
“Easy pickin’s, Nigel. Just like before, eh?”
The golden tooth flashed as he grinned, “Aye, Cap’n. I’ll dispatch of ‘er quick.”
Flintlock pistol in one hand and his sword in the other, he disappeared into the vegetation.
Nigel came upon a sunlit clearing and blinked in disbelief. A babbling brook trickled its way through the center. Tropical flowers bloomed fragrant and bright. A man stood before him, bare chested, skin kissed by sun until it glowed bronze. His sandy hair blew in the breeze and he turned his gaze to the pirate. When he spoke, his voice was sad.
“Can you help me off this island?”
Squinting his eyes, Nigel looked around for a trap. “W-what? What are you doing here?”
“Please, sir, can you help me? I’ve been here all alone for so long…” The handsome face was imploring.
The first mate took a few hesitant steps towards the man.
“How is it that you have escaped her?” he questioned, looking around for the siren.
Eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Where is the treasure?”
“You can have the treasure! All of it! I seek only a way off this island. Please, you must help me!” The young man took a few halting, hopeful steps towards the pirate.
“Oh, no. Stop right there, temptress! I don’t know how you’ve done it, but I know it is you!”
Nigel raised his pistol. The young man’s face twisted in rage and he drew a knife from his belt.
A shot rang out over the island. It was followed by the gut-curdling scream that was unmistakably Shark Tooth’s. Lucius waited until dark for his friend to return. As the stars started winking into existence in the sky, he shoved the boat off and rowed back to the ship, shoulders slumped in defeat.
Angry shouts tumbled one over the other until it as all just a deafening drone in the captain’s ears. He raised his voice over the throng.
“ENOUGH!” he bellowed. The crew quieted reluctantly. Snatching Blackwell by the scruff of his neck he dragged him into the captain’s quarters. Robin ghosted behind them, slipping inside while Lucius threw Billy in. The door slammed shut behind them.
“Someone talk. And make it smart.” His voice had dropped very low in his anger.
“What did the sea-witch say exactly?” Robin asked, curious. Both men glared at her for speaking, but she could see their minds working, running through their conversation in the cramped hut again. A light lit up in Lucius’ eyes and he grabbed her roughly by the arm.
“Out,” he growled, pushing her out onto the deck and shutting the door behind him.
She waited until the sailors had turned back to their work, or their plotting, and pressed her ear to the door.
“… no man can resist her charms,” Lucius’ muffled voice explained.
“Cap’n are you sure? It could be dangerous. This creature is obviously more powerful than the last one. I know Robin is handy with a pistol, but there’s a very real chance she’ll be killed.”
“I can find a new wife.”
Robin stepped away from the cabin door, her insides hardening into a ball of quiet rage. A plan formed in her mind and she slipped away to scour the ship and steal what she needed.
When Lucius and Blackwell emerged from the cabin they were greeted by a startling scene. Robin stood with her arms crossed, dressed in trousers and a loose crewman’s shirt, the entire crew gathered behind her.
“Husband!” she called, chin tilted up in defiance, “Since the siren is a man-eater, I have decided to face the creature myself.” She hefted her newly acquired pistol. Mostly for effect, but partly as security in case Lucius attempted something rash. “Let her try to put her enchantments on me. I’ll put a shot through her eye.”
A few of the crew hooted their encouragement. Probably those that had seen her shoot, and knew her talent. She guessed most of them didn’t care whether she lived or died, so assented to her plan based on their own cowardice.
The captain narrowed his eyes, keeping them trained on his wild, blonde wife. Everything hinged on what he said next. If he denied her, she would remain safe on the ship. The crew would mutiny if he threw more of them at the siren, and would lose faith in him if he simply sailed away defeated. She saw it in his face when he decided, and resisted the urge to smirk.
“Very well, wife. You can have your stab at the siren.”
Playing her part expertly, she lowered her pistol slightly allowing her face to fall in dismay.
The captain raised his voice, “Tonight a feast for my bride! Tomorrow she faces the beast!”
The men cheered at the idea of getting stupidly drunk. They filed down below to break open the kegs and Lucius and Billy retreated to the cabin. Robin was left on the deck alone.
She thanked the lucky stars above and enacted the first part of her plan. Slipping over to the ship’s boat she stripped, placing her clothes and weapons inside before she lowered it to the water below. The water was warm when she plunged into it, but by the time she had rowed all the way to the sandy beach she was shivering.
Wringing out her hair, she stripped as much water as she could from her skin with her hands before she pulled her clothing on. They clung to her unpleasantly, but at least she stopped shivering. Shaking hands would ruin her aim.
Silent as a bird in flight, she crept deeper inland. She hoped against hope that even sirens needed sleep, and that she could catch the creature unawares. Coming to a moonlit clearing, she scanned the edges of the far trees. In the distance there was a flickering light. Not daring to cross the open area, she skirted around, creeping up on the source of the illumination.
Set back in a low hill was the entrance to a cave and the light was coming from inside. Robin wondered if someone else had been stranded on the island with a surge of hope. In her mind, she recalled all the siren legends she had ever heard. Did they grow cold? She glared at the cave until her legs began to ache from crouching. Cautiously she stood and stretched, deciding that she would treat the entire scenario as an elaborate trap. Sirens were known for their cleverness. Robin checked the flintlock pistol one more time before heading towards the light.
Cold stone walls reflected the dancing light eerily. Wood smoke wafted overhead, seeking the open air. Soon, a sound drifted towards her, echoing off the walls and bouncing around her. It was the soft sobbing of a woman. She steeled herself against it, but even still the voice pulled at her heart. Some magic must have warned the siren that she had arrived on the island.
Peering around the last corner, she saw the campfire that threw the light. A young woman lay on a bed of furs her muffled sobs shaking her thin shoulders. Robin’s resolve wavered for only a moment. She burst into the circle of firelight, pistol aimed and ready.
“Surrender your riches, enchantress! I will not be tricked by your sorcery!”
The girl gasped and recoiled in fright, eyes streaming with tears.
“Please, you must believe me… I am no siren.”
The fire popped and danced. It made the young woman’s rich chestnut hair shine. A glint caught the corner of Robin’s eye and she glanced quickly. In a chest in the corner there were riches: coins, gems, trinkets and baubles.
“Oh, not a siren, are you?” she laughed, cocking the pistol and leveling it at the creature’s head.
The head bowed. “Fine. Kill me, then. Let me be rid of this life.” She heaved a sigh of acceptance. Robin was about to pull the trigger when something made her stop. Wrapped around one of the girl’s arms was a dirty bandage, a spot of bright blood staining it. She hesitated.
“Why would you reveal to me that you are wounded? Is it just a ploy to get me to pity you?”
The brunette’s head snapped up. “You… you can see that?”
Robin’s resolved hardened again, face set in determination.
“Wait! Please! Before you kill me, please answer me. What is it that you see when you look upon me?”
The pleading in her tone and the wringing of her hands made Robin pause again.
“Fine. But this is your last request. Do not come any closer or I’ll shoot you. No sudden movements. And no more speaking.”
She nodded emphatically, tears welling up and threatening to spill over her cheeks again. Robin’s gaze swept the length of her.
“You’re a pretty little thing. Brown hair with hints of red, dark eyes flecked with gold. Rosy cheeks from crying. Scrawny. Average height. You are wearing a dirty, linen peasant dress and you have a bandage on your arm there,” she pointed with her pistol.
As Robin finished her description the young woman burst into tears mingled with laughter. Robin scowled.
“Look, I know it’s not a very glamorous vision, but I guess this is what I like in a woman?” Thinking it over, Robin realized she had never fantasized about being with another woman before. She gave her another long study, imagining cupping her breasts and kissing her pouty lips. The idea aroused her, and she decided the magic must be working.
“It is not a vision,” the woman was still crying in happiness. “You see me. You really see me. The magic must not work on women!”
The pistol leveled again. “Then you admit you are a siren.”
“No,” she responded quickly, pleading with Robin. “I am cursed with an enchantment that makes men see what they wish to see. I am forced to play the role of the siren, bound to this island except for one night a month. And on that night I must deliver the treasures I have collected to-“
“To a sea-witch who lives in a shack to the east?” Robin guessed.
She nodded, wiping away her tears. “To my mother.”
“That horrible hag is your mother?”
“She wasn’t always that way. Dabbling in the dark arts twists a person. Inside and out.”
“Why don’t you simply run away?”
The woman sniffled, “I tried to once. The pain was unimaginable! It wracked me until I returned to this accursed place. She has trapped me here. I thought maybe if someone rescued me it would break the magic holding me, but… Death is the only sure way for me to escape this hell.”
Robin’s heart ached in sympathy for her. She carefully lowered the pistol.
“What is your name?”
“I was never given one. But once, in thrall of a vision, a sailor called out to me. He called me Maggie. I liked it, and I’ve sort of called myself that ever since.” The story poured out of her in a rush. The poor thing had probably never had anyone to talk to before.
“When I came of age my mother hatched her plan. I think she figured I would only last a few months before I starved, or was killed. But I learned to live off the land. With a stolen net I hunted fish and birds, and I learned which plants and roots where good to eat. I’ve been here ever since.”
“Killing sailors for gold?” Robin supplied.
Dropping her eyes in shame, her voice trembled as she spoke. “I am sorry about your friend.”
“Who? Nigel? He wasn’t a friend. I’m still trying to figure out how you managed to kill him with those skinny arms of yours.” Robin moved to the fire, warming herself. She no longer feared trickery on Maggie’s part and set aside her pistol.
“It’s the flowers in the clearing. When you breathe them in, they put you to sleep. I don’t know why, but they have no power over me. I wait there for sailors. It’s easier that way. They drift to sleep and feel no pain.”
“The witch warned us that a siren lives here. He must have seen through the magic.”
“No, they never do. I knew she had started telling sailors that lie. Even still they fall for it. But your friend…” She trailed off in thought.
“How does the spell work, exactly?”
“It reads men’s hearts and shows them a vision of what they desire.”
Robin began to giggle.
“I don’t understand,” Maggie tilted her head to look at her curiously.
“He saw you as a man, Maggie.”
“As a man? But…?” As realization crept in, so did a furious blush. “You mean, two men…? They… I mean…” she stammered, grappling with the idea. “But… how?”
Robin leaned close and whispered naughty truths in her ear. The resulting blush on Maggie’s face was deliciously red.
“I never knew that… they could… you know. Do girls…?”
“Sure,” she shrugged in response.
Maggie blinked. “Have you ever…?”
Robin fixed her with an amused stare.
“I mean,” she tittered nervously, “I was just curious.”
“You know,” Robin swept her gaze over Maggie again. “So am I.”
Slowly, she reached out. Fingertips brushing her cheek, she curled her hand around the back of Maggie’s neck to draw her closer. Her brown hair was very long and silky to the touch. Maggie blushed, but leaned eagerly towards her. Their lips met.
It was nothing like kissing her husband. He always tasted of stale rum and salt. The other woman’s lips were soft and sweet and in a flash she understood why men craved a woman’s touch.
Shyly, they both explored this new idea. Maggie ran her fingers through Robin’s wild blonde tresses, still damp from her swim and Robin was surprised at the shiver that ran up her spine. They simply embraced for a long time, holding each other and kissing, taking their time to explore these new sensations. Tongues met tentatively when full lips parted. Robin knew that she had never gotten this excited from kissing a man and she ached to be touched more intimately, but she forced herself to slow down.
Breaking away, the women stared at each other with a mixture of bewilderment and desire. The women were breathless from their heated kisses. Maggie was so naive and sheltered that Robin felt guilty for kissing her. Her brain was furiously trying to convince her that she was just looking for any human affection when she realized that Maggie’s eyes were locked on her breasts. The loose crewman’s shirt was still wet, and it clung to her body. Aroused, erect nipples were clearly outlined, the white shirt doing nothing to help hide them. Her brown gaze was hungry and she bit her lip, dragging her eyes back to Robin’s.
“Are you sure?” Robin whispered, still worried.
“Yes,” Maggie replied in a husky tone dripping with lust.
Robin took her hands and placed them on the hem of her shirt. Maggie, emboldened, drew it over her head carefully. Her eyes feasting on Robin’s exposed breasts, she tossed the shirt away and cupped them, her warm fingers running over goose-bumped flesh. Gently at first, she touched Robin’s nipples, swirling her fingertips over them. As the moans escaped Robin’s throat she grew more confident, bending her head down to lick and suckle, teasing her with lips and tongue.
Enduring the pleasure for as long as she could, Robin eventually could take no more and she cupped Maggie’s chin, drawing her back up. Tossing the linen dress aside, Robin led her to the bed of furs. She stripped off the remainder of her own clothes and they lay side by side in the firelight. Determined to tease Maggie as she had been teased, she pressed the younger woman back, moving over her body with hands, tongue, and gentle teeth until she squirmed beneath her.
Robin wandered lower slowly and hesitantly tasted of her. She found her even sweeter than before, and eagerly now, pleased her until Maggie was panting and clawing at the furs beside her. Finally the pleasure overcame her and creamy thighs pressed against her cheeks. Maggie’s whole body shuddered and her screams echoed off the walls of the cave.
Content to simply curl up next to Maggie and sleep, Robin was surprised when she insisted on returning the intimate attention. It was the most delightful pleasure that Robin had ever experienced. Their moans and gasps of pleasure filled the night until they both dropped into an exhausted sleep.
Dawn broke over the island and a single pistol shot rang out.
As Robin was carrying the heavy chest of coins and jewels to the dinghy, she stopped short. Lucius had taken the second boat and was waiting for her on the shore, hands tucked in his belt.
“That was a dangerous game you played, missy.”
Robin’s lips curled into a sneer and she shrugged. “There’s more treasure back in the siren’s den. I need help carrying it.” She dumped the chest into her boat. Without waiting for him to respond, she turned and started back towards the cave.
“How’d you do it?” his voice sounded from behind her.
“What do you mean, ‘how’d I do it’? I shot her. Her magic didn’t work on me.”
Lucius harrumphed a reply.
Before they reached the clearing, Robin took a deep breath as quietly as she could and held it. Trying to avoid the flowers, while still looking natural, she marched through until she heard the thump of his body hitting the turf. Her lungs screaming for air, she made quick work of her husband with her knife and ran back to the beach.
Spattered with blood, Robin refused to answer any questions until she was back on deck of Siren’s Call. She ignored all protests until her pistol cleaned, reloaded, and ready in her hand. Then she faced the crew.
“The captain is dead,” she called out over the rumblings of the crowd. “And so is the siren!” She lifted the lid on the chest with a booted foot. As one, the crew surged closer. She leveled her pistol. “Not so fast, boys.”
Wary eyes met her steely gaze.
“I’m the captain of this ship now. With my husband dead, I claim his property. As captain, I will revisit the loot distribution to increase every man’s share, and I won’t waste lives on foolish errands such as this! We will sail the seas, preying on fat merchant ships, and we will all die rich. Does anyone have a problem with that?”
She only had to shoot one man and thankfully it wasn’t the navigator.
As the sailors dug through the chest of treasure, she turned to Blackwell.
“Set a new course, Billy.”
“I have a score to settle with a witch.”
The door to the decrepit shack exploded inwards under Robin’s foot. Her men fanned out around her, she brought her pistol to bear, pointing it at the sea-witch who sent them on their quest. The hag snarled, grabbing for a bone-white, bleached driftwood wand.
The sound of the pistol being cocked had the desired effect.
“I wouldn’t do that.” Robin’s voice was low, even, and promised death.
“I know your secret, witch. Tell me where you keep the treasure and I’ll think about sparing your wretched life.”
“There is no treasure,” the twisted creature replied with a grotesque grin.
“Lie to me again and it’ll be the last thing you do.” Robin gave a nod to the crew behind her and they began searching the place. Clay pots and glass jars shattered against the floor, furniture was overturned, rugs were pulled back to reveal a shabby dirt floor. Watching the witch’s face carefully, she knew that her men were on the right track when they found the door to the root cellar. Her face twisted in hate and she spat at Robin.
“Is it true that a curse only ends with death?” Robin asked.
“Yes,” slithered the witch, cackling in glee.
Sparks flew and smoke curled up from the barrel of the pistol as Robin shot her through the heart.
A few seconds later, the men hauled up a chest filled with silver coins. By the look on their faces, Robin knew her place as captain was secured. For good measure, she burned the shack to the ground. Flames licked the sky as they hit the open seas again.
The curse was broken with the death of Maggie’s mother. The two women embraced on the shore of the island when Robin returned. Her crew stared, but it was obvious that none of them were taken by enchantment and that their greedy, covetous eyes were simply those of lonely men.
“Blackwell!” Robin called when her lips were free to speak, “Set sail for the nearest pleasure island! We have silver to spend before we die!”
Cheering, they all returned to the Siren’s Call. Robin took Maggie by the hand, bringing her to her favorite place on the ship: the prow. As the ship surged forward, the wind tossed their hair behind them. Chasing the horizon, together they were free.
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