TITLE: Tail of Maids 2 - The Lad COMMENTS: Just something I felt like writing. I've been blocked on my regular writing so this was a little side idea that got into my head. Unbeta'd so all mistakes are mine alone.
Women were said to be bad luck on ships and the sailors would throw them overboard. What would happen to them after that?
And what about the boy.
I hadn't really planned on doing a continuation of this story, but it seemed unfinished. and someone pointed that out. I actually agreed. So here's what I came up with.
Tail of Maids
Many ships were lost on those ragged shores, as sailors were lured to their deaths by the sweet songs and lovely maids who were seen sitting on the cliffs; beckoning ships to their doom. It took some time but the ships passed less and less as the years went by. They had become wary of the singing maids.
Soon captains and ship masters refused to send their ships to those areas. They knew the maids would lead their men to wreck the ships and lose precious cargo. Merchants began to panic as their wares could no longer be sold.
The maids too, found their fun being curtailed as the humans grew more wary of passing near their favorite lairs. It was a hard time for all who depended on the sea.
The merchants met with the captains, trying to find someone brave to carry their wares through those dire straights. The men; even the strongest and bravest among them, refused.
A meeting was held, several ideas were tossed around without much progress made.
"You cowards will drown yourselves in your own tears." A voice rang out. Heads turned; trying to locate the speaker. "You silly tea drinkers don’t have a decent set of balls between you do this kind of work." There were some shocked gasps through out the room.
"Who dares?" The town magistrate’s voice boomed.
A trim figure sauntered forward, dropped into one of the chamber seats and propped booted feet on the long table. “I believe that would be me.” The figure crossed her ankles, attaining a more comfortable position.
"A WOMAN?" The room erupted in pandemonium. "All of this trouble began because of women."
She snapped her fingers at the page and asked for a drink. When the cup of tea was brought she glared at it, then at the boy. Dumping it on the floor, “When I ask for a drink I don’t mean this weak swill. I want something with bite.”
"Just who are you?" The magistrate finally spoke up. He gave her outfit the once over. She was dressed like one would expect a pirate to dress. There were chains and bangles hanging off her hips. A flowing black shirt was tucked into brown trousers, and black thigh high boots covered her legs. "Clearly you are not a proper lady."
The page brought a mug of ale and she took a deep swallow. She glanced around the room with a twinkle of mischief in her eyes and stuck her little finger out in a very ladylike fashion. There was some amused tittering from the crowd.
"Clearly I am a lady M’lord, and I’m here to solve your problem." She took another swallow of the drink. "All of this started because you men, and your stupid superstition about women on ships. If you wouldn’t throw them overboard you wouldn’t have ticked off the folk of the seas."
"Now a crew of women won’t be tempted by the sirens and willfully wreck their ships, losing all your precious cargo."
"Out of the question."
"Suit yourselves." She shrugged and drained the mug. "It’s your financial loss." She swung away from the table and began to stride away. "I hope you can find another means of getting around those straits."
"Fine," The magistrate sighed at last. "We’ll try. But if you fail you’ll be hung."
She nodded and left the room.
The first ship sailed through those dangerous spires and shores with no harm at all. The crew heard the song of the maids, but simply laughed and went about their business.
And the next, and the next. Soon the maids became distressed for their traps were no longer working. The ships of men were no longer being lured to their doom.
[Great Mother, something is wrong. The humans are no longer affected by our songs.]
[Be calm my children. I will look into this.] The Great Mother of the maids swam to the surface as one of the ships passed by. [I see.]She let out a light chuckle. [They’ve learned much.] Swimming back down to her clan she told them of her discovery. That instead of the males being in charge, the females now sailed the ships. The fear of women being thrown over the sides to their doom was a thing of the past.
Most of the maids were satisfied with this explanation, and only rose to taunt the ships that were known to have men on board. There were some however who did not like this. They believed all human kind should suffer.
They sent the boy who had been saved to the surface to lure the women to their doom instead. His voice was high and clear. Even the maids were enchanted by it.
A ship crashed onto the sharp reef. The boy gasped and swam out to the ship.
[WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, LAD?] One of the maids shrieked at him.
[They’re hurt, they need help.]
[Fool, that’s the point. We want them to die.]
The boy shook his head and continued to swim. He reached the first body and discovered it was beyond recovery. Silvery tears slid down his face. He swam from body to body, crying over each gruesome discovery.
[I won’t do this any more.] He buried his face in his hands and sobbed.
[Yes you will.] They tugged on his hair and fins until he agreed. The boy swam away and hid in his tiny enclave. He wanted nothing to do with their horrible plan, but he also did not want to be bullied by the maids.
The ships were now being manned by mixed crews. As long as the women were in charge going through the passes the boats wouldn’t smash on the rocks. Until the stories of young boy, who’s songs were the most beautiful ever heard, began to spread. It was decided that ships should be duel mastered so that one was tempted by the sirens songs the one who was unaffected could take over. However when it came to the songs of the lad all bets were off. His music was too alluring. None could resist it.
The maids dragged the trembling boy out of his cave, after some more pinches to delicate fins he reluctantly began to sing.
At first the song was so quiet it could hardly be heard. He began to pour his heart and soul into the song. His tears splattered against the rocks, rolling into the water with soft plopping sounds.
The maids began to cry.
The crew jumped overboard and swam to his side.
The Great Mother and the remainder of the clan swam to the surface. [Child, child do not weep so.] The Great Mother gathered him to her breast. [Our hearts are breaking for you. And even the land folk are here to comfort you.]
[I…I am sorry Great Mother.] The child whimpered. [I am grateful for the life you have given me, but I do not like that we are leading others to their deaths like this.]
[I thought I had called a halt to such activities.] The Great Mother searched the faces of the maids swimming at her side. Several hung their heads in shame.
The human captain of the ship swam over to where the maids drifted. “I do not know if you can understand me, but we only wish to use the sea’s in peace.”
The Great Mother nodded “It has been a long time since I have used the speech of humans. Please forgive my mistakes.” The captain nodded. “This should not have happened, I thought I had put a stop to it.” Her eyes sought out the guilty maids again [Expect to be punished.]
[Yes Great Mother.] Was their glum reply.
"At first we only did this to the ships that recklessly discarded helpless women to the vast empty water. That act angered us greatly."
The captain nodded as she tread water. “It angered those of us on the land also. It is a stupid tale that ignorant men believe. That is why we women gathered and formed our own shipping company.”
"We did not wish to live under their silly rules."
The old sea maid shook her head, sending her many braids flying, “I had noticed that women were in charge of the vessels that is why I called a halt to the trappings. I do notice that you have men amongst you now.”
"Yes we’ve come to an agreement."
"That is good."
"But today," Her voice caught in her throat. "That child’s voice was so plaintive, so sorrowful we couldn’t help but come here."
"He is our treasure. He was cast aside as one of the maids one day, and found his way to our dwelling. We granted him the right to live among us." The Great Mother was stroking his hair. "He was being forced to coerce ships to their doom, that is why his song was filled with sorrow."
"We will help your crew to the shore or the ship so you can safely go about your journey." Great Mother waved too the maids. "Please let the land folk know that we still will not tolerate maidens being thrown to the sea. And you Captain are welcome to come speak with me anytime." She handed the captain a shell from her hair. "Blow into this and I will come to you."
"Thank you My lady. I will make sure to spread the word to all. And I will take you up on your offer." Reaching out she briefly ruffled the timid boy’s hair. "You remind me of my little brother. Please sing happy songs from now on. I don’t think anyone could bear your songs of sorrow." He nodded..
Those that could swim, returned to the ship. Those who needed help were assisted by the maids and helped on board.
When land was once more reached, the information was relayed. All captains and sailors had to sign an agreement that they would no longer throw anyone over the side of the ship on grounds of superstition. If such an act did happen the same would happen to them and may the Goddess of the sea have mercy on their souls.
The tales of mermaids stranding ships soon dropped off and became a thing of legends.