In a town of sailors, where the sea and wind gods reigned, lived a young girl named Thalia. This town, at the edge of the sea, was the hub of trade and an important fulcrum of commerce for the whole kingdom.
Thalia had the misfortune of being born a girl at a time when they were considered chattel. With negligible rights and almost no sense of freedom whatsoever, women were nothing but the property of men.
On top being a woman, Thalia had been cursed with beauty. She, therefore, had the ignominy of being the object of lust of many low-lives in her town. Her father was no less aware of this fact and hence kept a look-out for any man that could value the beauty of his daughter to an extent of his liking. With no mother to love or siblings to call her own, Thalia only had her father. Although a crooked man bent on selling his daughter, he was decent enough when it came to her upbringing. It seemed poverty could even turn love into a form of trade.
Thalia knew her fate and had already given in to its undeniable bleakness. She knew that one day she would be sold off to a man she had never met, probably a foreign sailor, and forced into the role of a servile wife if she was lucky enough. Back in her younger days, she had tried to rebel, but the harsh reality and the beatings of an unforgiving society had taken all the fight away from her heart. Now, her rebellion was limited to her own survival in a world that couldn’t have cared less whether she was dead or alive, what to speak of insignificant issues such as love and feelings. Her intelligence concentrated to get herself through the next day when all men saw in her was a sultry conquest to be won.
One day, a ship sailed into the town. With black hulls and golden sails to emphasize its opulence, it roared into the harbor, dwarfing the other ships around. Its gun ports were shaped as screaming men, and its figurehead and sails had the emblem of the mighty kraken.
The crew manning the ship was all dressed well and seemed well-fed. This was clearly the ship of an opulent merchant or a sailor from the rich, foreign lands of the North. A new arrival with such clear grandeur gripped the curiosity of the whole town, and all eyes kept waiting to catch a glimpse of the captain. He descended down the ladder with a golden sword by his side and exuding the strength of a dozen oxen. Dressed elegantly, he ventured into the town alone, in search of a tavern as the onlookers whispered among themselves. As the ship’s crew descended as well to find taverns and brothels for themselves, gossips grew and it was soon revealed that the ship known as The Kraken belonged to a Northern merchant on his way to the high seas for trade. His wealth signified the success of his trade and the ruthless sailing skills of the ship’s captain, known as Vargas, the Pirate-bane. The ship had managed to make a fortune in a sea infested with pirates when all others were forced to engage in a battle for survival, and it was all down to the captain’s mercilessness against the thieves of the ocean. As the gossips spread and the brothels became crowded, the town came alive with the prospect of new trade. Thalia instantly knew her time had come – not the one she had hoped for, but one that she had clearly seen coming. She deduced that her father would never let go of this opportunity of selling her off as the latest arrival had been the wealthiest the town had seen in the last few years. He had dashed to the tavern to negotiate and Thalia soon found herself staring into the hard and stony eyes of a sailor.
The deal was struck, the golden coins paid, and Thalia was sent to bundle up her belongings. As her father came for a farewell, with his eyes drowned in apology and nary a word on his lips, all Thalia could do was leave without sparing him a glance.
On the ship the crewmen leered but kept their distance. She was the Captain’s woman after all. She did what was expected of her in the Captain’s cabin and then was left alone. Vargas did not seem to have any emotion for Thalia and seldom spoke to her out of bed. Thalia was relieved.
The spray of the ocean at the stern, the colors of sunset, a few empty pages and a pencil gave her all the solace she could’ve hoped for. The first few days thus went by idly. But she soon picked up signs of unrest among the crew along with rumors of mutiny. The Captain had brought aboard a woman, and thus insulted the Gods, whose wrath now awaited the helpless crew. She tried alerting Vargas but was ignored, her words engulfed in his ego and the arrogant dismissal of a woman’s words as frivolous folly.
The ship encountered a storm, which only added to the crew’s agitation. Thrown off course, it traversed strange waters as the Captain checked several maps to right the course. And, just as Thalia had expected, the pirates soon started hounding the ship. Vargas had become too proud of his power. Instead of ordering to fire cannons, he turned the ship around and ordered his men to board the pirate ship to kill them off. Blood spilled all around the sea as Vargas and his men took on the pirate ship and its crew, but were grossly outnumbered as the pirates started slaughtering The Kraken’s crew. Some jumped overboard while others laid down their lives for their captain.
Meanwhile, Thalia had ventured below the deck in pursuit of safety. As she saw the crew being butchered one after another, she decided to do something on her own. Her survival instincts sprung into action as defeat and death looked more and more likely with every passing minute. There was no way she could have survived in a ship full of pirates. She primed the cannons and fired at the pirate ship. Jarred by the sudden onslaught, the ship teetered in the choppy water while the men on board tumbled across the deck. Thalia kept firing till the ship finally sank and the few men that survived managed to come back to the safe haven of The Kraken. Vargas was one of them. The chaos was, however far from over. The remaining crew was convinced that all the bad luck they had encountered over the course of their journey was because of Thalia. Never before had any pirate ship come so close to annihilating them. The storms were obviously down to Poseidon’s wrath, which was invoked by the inauspicious presence of a woman on board. The men kept throwing accusatory looks at Thalia. They conveniently overlooked the fact that it was her that had eventually saved them. Nobody pointed out the Captain’s idiocy over jumping into a pirate ship instead of defending their own ship from afar. Vargas’ confidence had crumbled and he had no choice but to listen to his crew since he needed them for his own survival.
And thus, not for the first time in her life, Thalia found herself in the midst of misfortune solely because of her gender. In all likelihood, it was going to be the last time, though. She wasn’t really surprised at the accusatory fingers raised at her. In fact, she knew all along that it would eventually come down to this. However, she hadn’t expected it to occur so soon. She couldn’t bring herself to embrace death. Maybe she could swim ashore or find something floating around in the endless ocean. Her survival instincts kept popping up. All she knew was that she was not going to grovel to those filthy animals that were hell-bent on pushing her off board. As she stood with her legs tied together at the edge of the plank with the crewmen howling in beastly fervor, she looked down into the green ocean, fear gripping her gut tighter than the corset at her waist. Teetering on the edge, Thalia was caught by surprise when the quartermaster suddenly jabbed her back and she found herself on a free fall. Everything slowed down, the fear receded as she fell and, by the time the water engulfed her, the resignation drummed into her heart had percolated all the way to her fingers. A wet agony burned her guts as the water started filling into her mouth and nostrils. She flailed and fought, struggling in vain to keep herself afloat. She ultimately gave in as the water rushed in mercilessly. As she sank deeper and deeper, the sunlight dwindled to its last rays. Salt entered her eyes and forced them shut, and darkness pulled her down toward the ocean’s womb. And, as the last vestiges of her consciousness finally found peace in its own oblivion, something sparked in the darkness.
Her bound legs changed colors. The ropes binding them morphed into green seaweed and fused into the skin of her legs, scales replaced their soft flesh and covered the entirety of her limbs. Her feet flattened and elongated slowly into a flowing, curved tail with deadly, swinging spikes lining its edges. Her dress tore apart as a slimy armor of scales started covering her breasts, just like they had veiled her legs. Fine films of flesh developed in between her fingers until both her hands had become webbed structures. Her nails grew into sharp, lethal talons that could rip metal apart. And as her flowing tail almost touched the ocean bed, her eyelids were pried open by the cruel brilliance of her bright red eyes, iridescent like molten magma and the pupils as dark as the unexplored depths of the ocean. Her soaking lips turned upward into a terrifying smile as she looked up towards the smudged silhouette of The Kraken. She tested the might of her purple-scaled tail as it propelled her upward at the speed of a hurtling comet.
The poor men couldn’t even see the creature when she pounced upon them, ripping the whole ship into shreds. Thalia tasted the blood of her murderers and quenched a thirst that had plagued her for millennia. Whales, sharks, manatees and all form of oceanic lives bowed to her as she marked her territory on the ocean floor.
And so she ruled as the Empress of the sea in a triangle of ocean floor that even Poseidon would go on to dread entering. All vessels that dared encroach those vast boundaries met their untimely end. Men had their blood drained to quench the Merqueen’s thirst. The few women and two-spirits that found themselves sinking were given new lives and new forms in her seadom, The Bermuda Triangle, the mortals above called it.
And now as the Merqueen looks upon the faint sun rays that are fortunate enough to reach the bottom of the sea, she compares them to the rays of the sun she saw last when her legs had dragged her deep enough for her tail to form.
Have the rays changed shape?
Or was it just herself?
…now that you’re here
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