A show of strength
As they stared out across the sea at the moon they saw dozens of heads silently surface, watching to see what would happen as three other shapes rose in front of them. And then it started, ethereal music drifted across the still water and the song began. They turned in horror to the rocks where they had seen the fishermen setting up earlier in the evening. Sure enough the men, five or six at least, had put down their rods and were walking towards the edge of the sea. A dog that was with one of them howled miserably at its master but he heard nothing but the song. Soon they were at the shoreline, with unseeing eyes and expressions of bliss on their faces, drawn inexorably onwards by the Sirens’ call.
When the fishermen took their first steps into the water Jorn and Arne could wait no longer. Arne stumbled into the shallows to try and save the men and Jorn turned to confront the Sea Mer.
“Now you see what we can do,” Leon jerked his head towards the fishermen who were already in up their chests, “now will you join us?”
Jorn knew Leon wasn’t their king, but he was clearly the one in command here, as he had been when they came to the Gathering.
“If you kill these men, what do you think will happen? They will come after every one of us. Then you will have no chance to survive and neither will we. Is that what you want?”
“We will rise up against them.”
“Don’t be so stupid,” Jorn was shouting now, “how many are you – a hundred maybe? You think you are strong by turning the waters, but you can only do that because you have time and you are still hidden. Do you think you will be able to do anything once you are known? It will be the end for us all.”
He was totally surrounded now, were they going to attack him? Did he have the strength to fight back? But then the crowd parted to allow someone through. From their reaction he could tell this at last was their King, and he came straight to Jorn.
“I apologise for my son, he feels very strongly. Please carry my greeting to your Margrave.”
His words were polite but his eyes were hard.
“Leon may have acted foolishly with those fishermen, but you must understand we can see no alternative, I cannot let my people die. We will be there when the moon is full.”
Leon’s hands were clenched into fists, he was clearly furious at his father’s intervention but he kept quiet. Jorn opened his mouth to speak, to try once more, but the King lifted his hand to silence him.
“I have no more to say on the matter.”
And with that he was gone, and crowd that surrounded Jorn melted away, even Leon and his cronies seemed to have left. Then Jorn noticed that the Siren song had stopped, and he remembered Arne. He stumbled across the rocks and into a scene of total chaos. The fishermen were staggering about in the shallow water, one was vomiting and a couple were clutching their heads as if in terrible pain. Two others however were no longer suffering and they’d turned on the first person they’d seen to blame for what had happened – Arne.
Arne had tried to stop the men from entering the water, but in their trance like state they had been strong and unyielding, nothing would hold them as they reached for the music. By the time the Sirens ceased their call, one of the fishermen was fully submerged and Arne swam out to rescue him. He was pulling the man up onto the rocks when the two who had been least affected spotted him. Convulsed with a terrible anger they tore their friend from Arne’s grip and shook him until he coughed and threw up. Then, still in a state of wild confusion, they attacked Arne, believing he was the one who had tried to kill them all.
Jorn reached him just as he fell, struck on the head by a sharp stone clutched by one of the fishermen. But after lashing out in such a frenzy the man suddenly seemed to recover himself, and the stone fell from his fingers as he stared down with horror at the motionless figure laying in front of him. The other man was holding a large piece of driftwood above his head as if about to bring it down on Arne like a club, but he too dropped his weapon. Jorn put himself between Arne and the two fishermen but said nothing. The men stood still for a moment, overwhelmed with terror and confusion at the sight of this strange figure before them, standing over the one they now thought they might have killed. They turned and ran, frantically scrambling up the rocks and away from the water as quickly as they could, calling for the other fishermen to follow them.
In the silence that followed Jorn knelt beside Arne, cradling him in his arms. He was bleeding from the temple where the rock had struck him and he had gone down hard. Jorn became aware of many eyes watching from the water.
“Are you satisfied now?” he shouted into the darkness, “Is this what you wanted?” And then they were
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