Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own anything related to Pirates of the Caribbean. Well, just a Jack Sparrow poster, and maybe a magazine or two, but that's pretty much it. Only original creations (characters, places, plotline, etc) are mine.
AN: I know this is late being posted, but real life caught me in its web, so it took me a while to get around to doing this.
Anyway, this is going to be a Little Mermaid meets Pirates of the Caribbean kind of story. It's mostly the same as The Little Mermaid, but hopefully it will still be enjoyable and at least a little bit original, since it's got our beloved Captain Jack Sparrow in it. Thanks for reading, and please don't forget to review!
Chapter 1: Coral:
The life of a mermaid can be enchanting and beautiful, with the vast waters of the sea open for you to explore and play in. We are the children of Poseidon, who is not only our god, but also our king. With such a vast kingdom, his main concern is the wellbeing of the sea, and so he decreed that the merfolk were free to live and explore his realm with no fear of danger from its creatures below the waves.
But even though we merfolk have a carefree existence, our world can be a dangerous and fearful one, particularly when it came to our visits above the lapping waves of our home.
For many millennia, mankind has feared and admired us, the people who dwell in the ocean and can breathe in the air and the water. Since the first mermaid was spotted by ancient sailors, stories of my people spread wildly throughout the world, causing many humans to come in search of us and the supposed treasures we gathered from sunken ships.
I laughed, a stream of bubbles escaping my lips as I swam through the warm, clear water. Treasures? It was absurd for a mermaid to stay in one place and guard a mound of objects she had no use for. True, the things humans made were very pretty, but it also very heavy, and no self-respecting mermaid possessed more than what she could wear on her person or in her hair.
I suppose it is because, whenever humans spot us, we mermaids are wearing something they consider valuable. From the wrecks of ships, we take whatever strikes our fancy and wear them in our hair, around our necks, or string a number of them together to sit just above our waists, where our tails began. These objects have no value to us –we merely like how pretty they are. When we grow tired of one thing, we either let it drop to the sea floor, or, should we encounter one of our kin, freely trade it for something the other is wearing.
Cordially greeting a passing turtle, I swam towards an outcrop of coral, looking for a place to rest. 'We are nomads. We travel with the currants and go where we please. What use is it to settle in one place and have a mound of things that you must guard every day for centuries?'
The only ones who chose to live in one place were our cousins, the Sirens, and those mermaids who wreaked vengeance on poor, unsuspecting sailors. They lived in underwater caverns beneath newly formed islands, occasionally emerging to sing sailors to their deaths.
Sadly, I had several blood-sisters who chose to take the lives of sailors. They claimed these acts to be done in the name of justice, for those of our kind who were tortured and killed by humans. Thankfully, it was an act they did not perform often, for doing so would cause men to seek and hunt us. By using their voices only when it amused them, my sisters and cousins assured that the merfolk were considered a myth, and did not truly exist.
Whenever I stopped to visit them, my sisters, using the mind-speaking powers of our people, often laughed at my disapproval of them harming humans. "Oh, Coral," they said with a chuckle and a smile, "You're young yet. When you are older, perhaps you will see the rightness in what we do for our people."
How could destroying a living creature be considered a good thing? I did not relish the idea of killing and death –I enjoyed living too much for that. Thus, I avoided humans at all cost –not only were they violent, but they also seemed to bring out the worst in my people, so I chose to keep well away from them.
Focusing on my surroundings, I pushed forward in search of a place to rest. Even if I was a mere two hundred years old, I loved swimming through the different waters of the world and exploring them. It was still a joy to me, discovering new places and meeting new creatures, and the idea of tainting it with the blood of mortal men was something that made my stomach churn.
I sighed, releasing another stream of bubbles from my lips. Oh, the wonders the sea held! The cold waters of the far north were thrilling, particularly when the whales migrated between their feeding grounds. I dearly loved playing with the newborn calves of the smaller whales, and with the larger breeds of whales, I often helped new mothers protect and care for their young. Seals and their little ones were of special delight, as their faces were darling to look at, and they were great fun to chase and hunt food with underwater.
In the far south, I dove and chatted with the flightless black-and-white sea birds as the mothers and fathers hunted for food for their young. When the chicks came to the sea to hunt for the first time, I swam with them to make sure they were successful in feeding themselves, and occasionally protected them from harm when they needed it most.
The warmer waters, however, were the most popular among my people. The water was clear and incredibly soothing to our skin, and the animals far more colorful and amusing. The dolphins that dwelled there are considered the favorite animals of the merfolk, for they are great fun -they leap, play, chat, and laugh with us, and are constant companions to the merfolk who choose to live in those areas.
But best of all, they were always willing to help us search sunken ships for new treasures. Seals, with their sweet faces, and whales, with their deep wisdom of the seas, were also favorites, but less so than the sleek, quick, amusing dolphins.
Here, in the warm waters humans called the Caribbean, I felt almost at home. The waters of the Mediterranean were far too busy with sailors and humans traveling, and in my thirtieth year of life, I had chosen to confine myself to the waters of the Atlantic, namely the north and southern ends of it.
My sisters had told me of the Caribbean long ago –a bit of information they had gleaned from the mind of a dying sailor before letting him drown – and as the curious mermaid I was, I had of course decided to see it for myself when I was traveling alongside my migrating whale friends, before I traveled to the far south to visit the animals there.
Thus far, I had visited the Caribbean many times, but only briefly, and had never ventured very far into its waters. I had usually come here on my way from the far waters of the north to the south, and back. Now I was here to spend at least a century exploring this realm, and to see my cousin, the goddess Calypso. Hopefully she wouldn't be too upset by a surprise visit from me!
Looking around, I had to admire the beauty around me. I did so love the softness of the sand, the smooth, blissful feel of warm water caressing my skin, and how vibrantly welcoming the creatures were! There were so many dolphins to talk with, and even if some of the creatures here were grumpy, they were at least relatively polite whenever I asked for help in finding places to rest or coral reefs to explore.
There! A large stone bare spot of soft, warm sand that looked comfortable. A perfect spot to rest! I sent out a soft mental call, checking that the area around it was not occupied by an artfully hidden creature. A large flat-fish looked up at me, and did grumble about being disturbed, but moved on, leaving the place to myself.
Sighing in relief, I perched myself on the rock and let my long, silvery blue-green tail come to rest on the sand, my fingers running through my dark hair. It was a tangled mess, I knew, and presently bare of any ornaments. I had left all of my old hair decorations behind in the waters near Greece, Poseidon's old home, as a tribute to my king and God, and now had to find new ones. It was my way of trying to start anew here.
Reaching for the long gold chain that ran twice around my waist, my fingers brushed the small sack made of strung-together sea shells that hung there. Pulling it open, I reached inside and quickly found my mirror, which I immediately opened. Designed like a clamshell, I had found it fifty seasons ago in a sunken ship.
Looking into it, I winced. Like most of my people, I had blue eyes, though I secretly longed for green, like my mother's, or the incredibly rare violet, like my mother's mother. As usual, my eyes were lovely and sparkled like the sea beneath the cloudless sky. Unfortunately, there were dark circles beneath them, likely from lack of sleep, and my hair was in desperate need of a combing.
As with all mermaids, I had a comb with me at all times, in my satchel. Seeing that I presented an awful sight, I brought it out immediately and began combing through my long, dark locks, my eyes not straying from my image in the mirror.
The moment the comb touched my hair, the water around me began to grow warmer and almost dance as I closed my eyes and started to hum. It was a common trait among my people –mermaids hummed and sang with such powerful voices that we could command or persuade mermen or human males to do almost anything for us. Today, though, I simply hummed for the sake of being content with how things were in my world.
Something smooth suddenly brushed my back, breaking my trance. Whirling around, I felt the fins on my wrists prickle, the deadly poison in them ready in case it was a shark on the attack. Normally, the sea's predators knew better than to attack the Children of Poseidon, but when they were out of their minds with hunger, their instincts overcame them, and we merfolk had to defend ourselves.
'Oh, I wish I could wield electricity like the eels do,' I wistfully thought to myself as I searched for the intruder. Usually the poison was enough of a defense, but still…
Hearing the high-pitched clicks, as well as a trill of familiar chatter, I burst out laughing. "Shame on you for scaring me like that!" I telepathically said to the dolphins, who shot through the water to my side. "You know better than to frighten a mermaid!"
Inside my head, I heard their amused replies, as well as a stream of apologies for frightening me. I smiled and put back my mirror and comb so that I could gently rub their smooth heads and commune with them easier, their beautiful, silvery-blue foreheads pressed against me as we 'talked.'
Though these dolphins were strangers to me, our two races were allies and friends. Thus, even though I was not native to these waters, this pod was willing to share information on where to hunt, which islands to avoid because of humans, and what was good to eat here. Some of this I already knew, but it was good to have it for later use.
A firm, but gentle touch in my mind drew my attention to one of the dominant females. Once she had my attention, she issued an invitation to hunt with them, declaring that the young ones were hungry, and it was time to teach them to catch their own meal. Thrilled (and hungry), I accepted.
Off into the deeper waters we went, the dolphins searching with their sound probes while I looked with my mind and eyes. I was able to find a lovely conch shell, with a full-grown occupant –a perfect meal for myself. From my chain-belt, I drew a knife my mother had given me long ago, when I had reached my age of majority. It was a short blade the length of my hand, plus another few inches, and it was the width of my smallest finger, but the edges were sharp and the handle was heavy. It would make a useful weapon in a bind, when my poisoned fins were not enough to protect me.
Using the handle, I broke off the tip of the shell, and thrust the blade through the small opening to kill the snail-like creature within. When I was sure of its death, I reached inside the shell and removed the dead creature, using my knife to trim away the outer parts so that I could get to the meat. My trimmings went to the younger dolphins, each of them getting a taste to tide them over until they caught something on their own.
Content with what I had caught, I spotted a large stone nearby, and quickly settled down on it, my tail wrapping around it to keep me from drifting off in the currants. Comfortable, I sliced a bit of the conch's main body and stuffed it into my mouth.
The meat was delicious, and a treat I had rarely partaken in. Mostly, I ate fish, shrimp, or whatever else lay in the cooler waters that had previously been my home. Only when I briefly visited the Caribbean could I feast on this, and now I could do eat all I wanted while learning to find new things that would be just as good.
Partway through my meal, I felt something round and hard in the interior of the usually tender flesh. Puzzled, I quickly sliced it open lengthwise, and was surprised to find a shining pink pearl within it. It was the size of my thumb's nail, and almost perfect in shape.
Giggling in delight, I put it in the sack dangling on my belt. I had other pearls, of course, from oysters I had shelled to feed other friends of mine, but none were this large! This was quite a good omen, I must say.
I quickly finished my meal and tucked my knife away so that I could scrub my hands with sand. Tidy once more, I thanked the dolphins for their help, and asked if they knew any places where I could make a refuge for myself in case of storms. Luckily, they did.
The dominant female showed me a mental image of a sunken ship that was close by, as well as an underwater cavern that led to a cave. The cave would be the ideal place to take shelter from storms, and to even hide from humans. While the ship sounded intriguing, the cave would be best to dwell in.
Thanking them again for their aid, I turned in the direction of the cave and swam off.
The distance was fairly long, nearly an hour's swim, but when I came to the island, I felt it was worth the effort.
From beneath the water, I saw that it had a very large opening that would likely show itself when the tide was low. Having a hidden sanctuary that could be accessed by humans was a risk a mermaid could not afford –like merfolk, humans are naturally curious, and when most of them are presented with a cave, they tend to go explore it.
In the end, I chose to investigate it while I was here. Besides, if I did not like it, I could always move on and find another place to call a storm shelter.
The underwater corridor was long, wide and dark, all of which were no difficulty to a mermaid -our eyesight was keen in waters both dark and lit. Wide caverns meant plenty of room for a long tail to maneuver, and didn't leave the feeling of being caged.
All around me swam fish and squid, while below me were crabs and sea stars creeping to and fro. I smiled as a tiny fish brushed up against my nose, obviously curious as to what I was. Gently sending it on its way, I spotted light at the end of my journey, and raced for it, only slowing down to that I could take a tiny peek up through the water to see if it was safe.
To my relief, the cave was empty and devoid of all life. There was bright sunlight streaming through a large hole off to the side, which fortunately wasn't big enough to allow much horrid weather in during a storm or hurricane. It was also very spacious; certainly big enough for sound to echo all around me. I could bring food here when I felt bad weather coming, and stay quite comfortable until things calmed down.
'It wouldn't matter if the cavern flooded, either, given what I am,' I thought with a grin.
There was also no sign of other merfolk having been here, or humans. Perfect!
Now that I had one place for shelter, I decided to go have a bit of fun.
It really is quite astounding, the things humans can create. I always envied their ability to take stones and put them into beautifully designed metal, all for the sake of showing it off to one another.
When the first trade ships began sinking, we mermaids immediately began investigating every pretty or interesting thing we could find in the wrecks. Occasionally, one of us would save a sailor from death –but instead of being grateful, it wasn't long before they started to hunt us out of fear and superstition.
In time, we turned our attention to collecting the goods that could be gathered and learning the materials they were made of by focusing hard on the thoughts of those who sailed aboard the ships. Reading the thoughts of humans wasn't difficult, as their minds were not as guarded or advanced as our own, so it was easy to learn what they called the things they carried. For some reason, they always seemed to bemoan the goods they lost, and often mentally repeated a list of whatever it was that sunk with their ship.
As for the sailors themselves, we chose to let them save themselves, so as not to draw attention to ourselves while we waited for the ship to sink. So far beneath the waves, it wasn't as though the humans could save what they lost, and since they could not breathe under water, they would never know what happened their belongings, or who took them to keep.
If it shone and could be worn around the waist, the neck, or in the hair, my people took it. It did not matter what it was made of, or if there were pearls or shiny stones set in it –as long as it was pretty, it was ours. When we tired of anything, we discarded it, traded it for another, or gave it away to the younglings too young to go out and collect their own baubles.
Presently, the only things I had were 'necessities' to a mermaid: namely my seashell satchel; a belt of gold links; my silver mirror with matching comb; and a small collection of pretty stones and pearls that I could not bear to part with. Everything else had been left behind so that I could start anew here in these warmer waters. Here, I could collect new pretty things, and on the day my sack grew too heavy to carry with me, I would search through it, toss away what I no longer needed or wanted, and go in search of others.
Through the water I swam, my tail swishing behind as it propelled me towards my destination. My mind focused on the directions the dolphins had obligingly given –over a particular form of coral (my namesake), and past a cluster of rocks that had a large, ugly metal object caught on it. My sisters called it an 'anchor,' and said that humans used these large objects to keep their ship in once place at sea, which I thought silly. Humans were such odd creatures!
Ah, there it was! It was large, and looked fairly old, but hopefully no one had explored it yet. I would find out soon enough.
Peeking through a gaping hole in the side, I projected my mind inside, searching for danger –the last thing I wanted to encounter was a furious eel, or worse, a hungry shark!
Finding it void of predators, I slipped inside. It wasn't as dark as the cavern I had explored, but there was little light to reach through the wood overhead. Even though I could see perfectly well, I wanted to at least get a good, detailed look at the things I found, so I reached into my satchel and retrieved a scallop shell the size of my fist. With a firm thought from me, the smooth, polished interior shone with a soft golden glow that lit up the interior of the ship with enough light to see, but without being blinding.
I couldn't hold back an excited grin as I began my search, being cautious about falling wood and other objects. The lower section was full of containers that were broken and falling apart; sadly, none of this had anything remotely interesting. Parts of the upper levels were falling down, so I chose to go upwards and see if the best things were kept where there would be easier access to them.
Retracing my trail, I went towards the top of the wreck and swam to the dwelling that sat on the top levels. I had learned that the leader of the sailors, whom they called "Captain," lived here, and kept some of the best things there for himself.
I slipped inside through the open entry and looked around. There were no bodies, thank goodness, but a great deal of objects had been tossed about and broken. Small fish swam about, but scattered when I shooed them away. Further in I swam, looking for anything to decorate my hair.
A gleam in the corner of my eye drew my attention. I followed it and found a partially open box with a bracelet of rubies set in gold streaming out of it. Smiling, I opened the container and let out an excited squeal of delight, frightening all fish away from me.
Pearls! There was a lovely string of pure white pearls here! The center one was the size of my thumb's nail, and from there, the pearls gradually grew smaller until they were half the size of my smallest finger's nail. Each pearl was perfectly formed, except for the center one, and the length of the string was tremendous. A great find indeed!
Rummaging through the box, I discovered a pair of bracelets that matched the strand of pearls, as well as several other pieces that looked promising. I would sort through them back at the cave and decide which ones to keep.
Gathering up the contents, I put them into my satchel and went to explore the rest of the ship.
AN: Well, what do you think of the first chapter? Some might find this chapter a bit dull, but this is mostly so people get to know the lead female character. Don't worry; Jack will be showing up soon, and then the real fun will begin. Thanks for reading, and please review!