Disclaimer: I, Franklin D. Van Valkenburg, do not claim to own Pirates of the Caribbean nor any of the content within this story that is a part of the Pirates of the Caribbean universe. Furthermore, I do not financially profit in any way by posting this story. This is purely for entertainment purposes for the general public.
Author's Note: Ahoy mates! I've been an anonymous browser here on for years, but after seeing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, I finally decided to join the site and contribute. As such, this is my first fanfic, which I hope will entertain you and intrigue you. I have done my best, using the Pirates of the Caribbean Wiki, to concoct a story that both fits into the constraints of the series universe and expands upon it. The story itself is a mesh between a Philip/Syrena spinoff and an unofficial fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the purpose of which is to give fans of both this couple and the series as a whole what they've been waiting for. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Philip Swift opened his eyes. He felt the cool and rough texture of rock under his shoulders, the gentle brush of wind across his brow. Above him the light played on the cracks and crevasses of a cave's roof. He propped himself up on his elbows and looked out of the cave's mouth, squinting at the blinding white sand. Beyond the sand was the vivid turquoise of the shallows and the royal blue of the Caribbean. The sky was vibrant and without clouds from what he could see within the cave. This didn't bother him at all; clouds brought rains and humidity, which did not bode well for a man in the tropics. He rather preferred this weather, what having spent the first twenty-four years of his life in the gray fog of Cornwall. This past was apparent by his exceptionally white skin, the signature of a newcomer to the Caribbean. Unfortunately, this also meant he would suffer under the sun's rays until he too gained the tan and weathered look.
The sunburn was nowhere near the thoughts that ran through his head. He looked down at his chest, reaching up to explore his skin with his fingertips. Yesterday he had been barely able to stand, the wound across his chest trickling blood much like grains of sand ran down an hourglass. In its place was a pink scar, void of dried blood or split skin. As his fingertips graced it he realized that it was also painless, as if he had been months on the mend. Philip wasn't a fighting man, but he had seen his fair share of accidents. The wound he had suffered was one he should never have survived. Even as he thought these things, his mind was focused elsewhere, multitasking much like he did when he conversed with God unbeknownst to others around him.
Syrena. She was where his mind was. He remembered those final moments, the moments that should have culminated in his audience with the King as he left his body and knelt before the gates for judgment. Her eyes had been locked on his as she bobbed about in the jungle pool, her eyebrows furrowed and the corners of her mouth ever so slightly turned up in the hint of a smile. Her expression had been that of endearment at his selfless request. He could still feel her tender hand reaching up behind his ear, her lips touching his in the kiss legend said man could never get. Then he had plunged into darkness, both into the depths of the jungle pools and his consciousness. What had happened between then and the present was a mystery to him.
The missionary blinked and looked back into the cave. It was rather small, just tall enough for him to stand with his head bent. A crack in the cave's roof emitted sunlight that filtered down through the darkness like a knife, drawing a glowing shape on the cave's floor. He could see dim shadows dancing in it, no doubt from palm leaves blowing in the breeze outside. His attention quickly turned to something else, something that made his heart race. He was resting on a ledge overlooking a pool of water. The pool filled the back half of the cave, disappearing under the back wall and extending into darkness. Philip rolled onto his side and peered into it, gauging its depth. It was deep enough. The realization that his entry into the cave had not been through the mouth in the front made him smile. He stuck his fingers into the water and pulled them through it, stirring the pool's surface with little ripples that fanned out like a wake. When nothing happened he flicked the water's surface and splashed it a little, wondering if she were down there and could hear him. Still, there was nothing.
Disappointed, Philip sat up and looked back outside at the sand. He didn't want to leave the cave, but wondered where he was on the island. After mulling it over for a few moments, he rose to his haunches and stood, reaching up and running his hand along the cave's roof as he stepped outside. The wind hit him as he stepped into the sun, blowing his hair across his face and playing with the fabric of his breeches. He reached up and tucked his hair behind his ears, then let his hand slide down to his chest. His fingers traced the Cross about his neck and he looked about, noting that he could see a wispy pillar of smoke rising from where the lighthouse had exploded days ago. The Queen Anne's Revenge was nowhere to be seen, but he could see the topmasts of a ship rising out of the anchorage down the beach like a skeleton's fingers. Flotsam and wreckage was strewn across the beach inland of the wreck and he wondered if the ship had belonged to the British or the Spanish. Either way, it meant that there was a chance that others were still on the island, and if they were Spanish, he did not want to be seen. As an Englishman and more importantly, a Protestant, a Catholic Don was the last man he would like to see on this island.
He swept his eyes across the dense and lush jungle, noting how the sun shone on the palms and the occasional bird as it rose up from the treetops. Then he returned to the mouth of the cave and took up his spot next to the pool of water. It was empty, the water's surface as placid as he had found it before. Deep down he wished she had been there waiting for him, her face full of innocent curiosity and wonder. That look warmed him, to see her purity so plainly on her face. He wondered where she was, if and when she would return, and the fear that she wouldn't slipped across his mind.
"Father, I thank You for this blessing, the gift of life," Philip murmured as he laid back, "You have kept me on Your creation though I faced death. Consequently, I open my eyes and ears for Your direction, for Your plan for my life is unknown to me. I know not where You will guide me, but give me the strength and faith to follow You without hesitation. I am also thankful for what has happened to me these past days, for Your mysterious and beautiful creation, and for the love that I have stumbled into. Surely this is a gift that only You can bestow on man, for I am certain that I am the only man on Your creation to have experienced this love. May Your word be my guidance in this adventure and may I manifest Your love for her through my own affection. In Your Holy name I pray, Amen."
Philip closed his eyes, folding his hands and resting them on his chest as he listened to the sounds of the sea and the murmur of the wind through the trees outside.
When he awoke again it was dark. He realized then that he should have remained wake, as now it was night and he felt not a hint of fatigue. The moon had risen, unchallenged in its command of the night sky as it illuminated the white sand in its soft glow. Though it was dark he needed no light to see in the cave, the sand reflected the moon's light into the mouth of his shelter well enough. He rolled onto his side again and propped himself up on one elbow, pausing as his eyes met hers. The moonlight also crept down through the crack in the cave's roof, this time shining on the pool's surface and refracting onto the cave's roof in little dancing fragments. As such the light shone on her much like a spotlight at an opera, making her skin glow with a serenity that still took his breath away. She dipped down into the water gracefully, bobbing back up as she treaded water. It caused the hair about her shoulders to fan out on the water's surface, much like a drop of paint on a wet canvas. She bobbed over to the pool's edge and her delicate fingers crept up over the rock, holding herself steady as she curiously cocked her head. Her mouth again barely turned up into the hint of a smile and Philip suddenly remembered to breathe.
"You are rested?" she asked.
Philip nodded, "Yes. There was nothing else that I could do."
Syrena looked over to another part of the cave, "I brought you something."
Philip followed her eyes and reached out, picking up the sword slowly and bringing it into the moonlight. It was the spadroon he had pinned her with, a simple and sturdy straight blade with a squared hand guard and slotted hilt. It had certainly seen better days, but he knew it was still quite reliable.
"Why?" he asked, setting the sword down on the rocks with a scrape.
"To protect," she answered, "It can be a useful tool."
"Are we not alone?" Philip asked.
"We are alone. The British lie dead in what was once their ship and the Spanish have sailed," Syrena reported, "But the rest of my kind still lurk offshore."
Philip nodded slowly, "They will not come ashore?"
"No. Not unless there is someone to carry them." she said, her mouth creeping into a small smile as one of her hands slid across the rock to his.
"Then what do we do?" Philip asked.
Syrena squeezed his hand, then withdrew hers and bobbed back in the water, "We live."
Philip cracked a smile, both in approval of her plan and to hide his conflicting thoughts. He loved her, but what would he do here? He felt there was more to his second chance at life than to simply live alone on a deserted island with Syrena. What's more, he had no food, no shelter beyond the cave they were in, and no extra clothing.
"What if we tried to leave this island? As appealing as your proposition sounds, I am of the opinion that God has more in store for us." Philip said.
"I will follow you wherever you go," Syrena answered, sliding her hands back up over the pool's edge and pulling her arms over it. She reached out and touched his arm, "I am yours just as I know you are mine."
Philip reached up and put his hand over hers, "Your beauty lies not in your exotic body, but in your inexplicably innocent character. What purity and devotion! Such a heart can only be made by God."
Syrena's lips turned up into a unabashed smile, "I know not all the words you speak, but I know they mean good; I can see it in your eyes."
Philip arched a brow, "What do you speak? What does it sound like?"
"I speak French, which I am sure you have heard." Syrena said, sliding her hand up to his chin and grazing his stubble with her fingertips.
"Mermaids speak French?" Philip asked in surprise.
"We speak the language of our homelands, there is no mermaid language." Syrena explained.
"So mermaids come from all over the world?" Philip mused, "How extraordinary! Where in French waters are you from? The Bay of Biscay?"
Syrena returned her hand to the pool's edge and she pushed herself up, churning the pool's water with her shimmering coral-colored tail. She sat next to him as Philip sat up and swung his bare legs over the edge, his feet entering the cool water. He smiled as the wispy fins down either side of her tail brushed his legs; it tickled yet he did not move. She scooted closer to him, so close their shoulders touched and he felt her soft and moist skin, her wet hair.
"Philip, what do you know of the sea?" she asked, looking at him, "What legends have you heard?"
Philip blinked, sorting through everything he had ever heard. He knew many of the stories from his older brother Nathaniel. He would return home from some far off land, bringing trinkets and stories of his adventures with the East India Company. He had been a good man, one of honest trade and reputation. The last he had heard from him, he was in the Far East running tea from Singapore to Bombay. After Lord Cutler Beckett's personal vendettas were exposed in the gazettes around the Empire, Nathaniel vanished and he hadn't heard from him since.
"I have heard many, my opinions of which have been recently challenged," Philip responded, "particularly my beliefs concerning mermaids."
Syrena looked at the pool of water for a moment, the moon catching her tail beneath the surface and filling the water with a million specs of bronze light. The glow faded as her tail brushed back and stirred the glassy surface.
"What do you know about the Flying Dutchman?" she asked.
"That she ferries men lost at sea to their appointment with our Divine Maker." Philip spoke, folding his hands in his lap.
Syrena nodded, "Yes. She also protects ships from harm and rescues those who have been shipwrecked."
"Why have I not heard this part of the story?" Philip asked.
"The Dutchman's captain, Davy Jones, was a man like you. He had the freedom to serve Heaven or Hell. When his true love betrayed him, he turned from God to serve the Devil." Syrena explained.
"Is there a way for him to be turned back to God?" Philip asked.
"Davy Jones was killed," Syrena revealed, "The Flying Dutchman has a new captain - William Turner."
Philip arched a brow. He had heard Jack Sparrow mention that name as he told of his adventures. The pirates had dropped Syrena's glass prison when Jack was telling of the Isla de Muerta, so he didn't know the rest of the story. How Will Turner transformed from a plain blacksmith in Port Royal to the immortal captain of the Flying Dutchman was beyond him.
"Have you ever wondered what happens to women lost at sea?" Syrena asked further, "Despite bad omens, we too fair the seas to the corners of the earth."
Philip looked to her, his mouth opening slightly in wonder, "No, I have not. Pray tell me… is this…" he looked at her tail as she stirred the pool with it, "…what happens?"
Syrena nodded slowly, "When women perish at sea we face a similar fate to the crew of the Flying Dutchman… our duty is to find the dead and dying while the Dutchman is not near, to care for them with our songs until it arrives."
Philip instinctively reached his arm around her and held her close, "What happened to you, Syrena?"
She turned her eyes to his, her face nearly saddened as her memories flooded back, "I was once Sophia DuPont, a young girl who sailed from her home in Toulon to join her father at his sugarcane plantation. My ship ran into a hurricane and all were lost."
She felt him squeeze her and he remained silent for the briefest moment, "I am truly sorry for what happened. Shall I call you Sophia?"
Syrena shook her head, "No… do not be sorry for me. God did this to me, and had he not I would not be here next to you. I am Sophia DuPont no more. For years I was just a mermaid… but now I am Syrena… your Syrena."
Philip reached across her with his other arm and hugged her. She felt his chin on her shoulder and she smiled, sliding her hands around his waist.
"You know God." Philip mused.
"Yes," Syrena whispered into his ear, "I always have and always will. That is how I knew you were different. I could see Him in you."
Philip withdrew from the embrace, his hands resting at her elbows, "How is it that you are the only mermaid who knows God?"
"There are two sides to every coin," Syrena responded, "Just as it is for the Captain of the Flying Dutchman. So it is with each mermaid."
"You have a choice, to sing the mermaids' song either to comfort the deceased or lure the living to their deaths?" Philip made the connection.
"Yes," Syrena said with a nod, "And it is easier to indulge anger and seek revenge than it is to preserve purity. Many mermaids choose to serve the Sirens and lure innocent sailors to their deaths."
"Sirens?" Philip asked.
"The sea is a Holy battleground," Syrena replied, "The Devil made Calypso, the goddess of the sea. A well-intending God-fearing man named Davy Jones set out to love her, to turn her from her creator. He served God as His providence on the high seas, using the power Calypso gave him to ferry the dead to Heaven. He resurrected men as immortals to serve as his crew and women as mermaids to help him. Calypso saw that Jones served God and not the Devil, so she betrayed Jones to break his heart. He turned from God and the Devil gave him the Sirens: daemonic creatures made to counter the mermaids. Entire wars were fought in the depths and the Sirens won. Now most mermaids serve them… even more now since Davy Jones' death."
"So the sea is just as Spiritually war-torn as land…" Philip said quietly.
Syrena looked back to the pool and slid from Philip's arms and back into the water, letting the coolness of her realm engulf her again. Phillip watched her slink below the surface, perplexed by the sudden action and intrigued as she let the air bubble up from her nose to the surface. For a moment they looked at each other, divided by a rippling pane of glass. Then she resurfaced and folded her arms on the pool's edge, resting her chin on them as she looked up at him.
"I was beginning to feel a bit dry," Syrena explained, "Do forgive me."
Philip nodded, "I forgive you."
Syrena giggled as she felt his foot brush her side, just under her arm. They continued to look at one another, then Philip cleared his throat.
"Pray tell me, is the legend of a mermaid's kiss true?" he asked.
Syrena's mouth turned up in another of her innocent hints of a smile as she beckoned for him to draw closer. Philip pulled his legs out of the water and turned onto his stomach so they were eye to eye at the edge of the pool. One of her hands reached up and pushed a loose strand of hair out of his face.
"That a mermaid's kiss will let a man breathe underwater?" she nodded, "Yes. Where else do you suppose you would get air from?"
"And what of your mortality?"
"I was twenty-two when my ship sank in the year of our Lord sixteen hundred eighty-eight." she answered.
Philip's eyes widened, "And this is seventeen hundred fifty. That was sixty-two years ago."
The realization that she would be forever young as he aged saddened him. What would happen when he finally went home to the Lord? Would she ever leave this earth to enter His Kingdom? She said she was waiting for His judgment. As these thoughts crossed his mind he looked at her and she sensed his emotion.
"Philip, do not let it burden you," she said soothingly, "There is still much that you have to learn."
"Is there a way to free you?" Philip asked, "I wish to grow old with you and see you enter the Kingdom of God."
Syrena pulled herself closer to him, so close that their noses touched, "I do not know. Perhaps our God has a different calling for you and me?"
She kissed him softly and Philip returned the kiss. Then she bobbed back in the water as Philip looked at the moonlight on the water.
"What calling could that be?" he mused aloud, "Mermaids comfort the dead or lure the living… yet you do neither of these things."
"As I said before," Syrena spoke, "you are different."
Philip rolled onto his back, looking at the cave's roof as he felt her fingers in his hair. He folded his hands on his chest and wondered what would happen next.
She pulled herself over the edge of the pool, resting on her elbows as she leaned over him, "Go to the wreck at the anchorage down the beach. I will introduce you to someone who can help us get started."
"Get started on what?" Philip asked.
"Fulfilling our destinies." Syrena said as she slid back into the pool.
Philip rolled back over and got onto his hands and knees, watching her curiously as she pointed to the mouth of the cave. Then she turned over in the water, diving down as her tail flashed to the surface and propelled her into the mysterious depths of the tunnel system. For a moment he watched the water, then he sat and pulled on his boots. After picking up the sword, he stood and exited the cave, looking up at the night sky above. It was filled with more stars than he could count and the vastness of God's creation astounded him. The wind played with his open waistcoat and he did one of the buttons, walking across the sand and down the beach towards the remains of the ship he had seen earlier.
Much was on his mind. The legends were true. What's more, they were all a part of something bigger, a war between God and the Devil. The mermaids, the Sirens, Calypso, Davy Jones… they were as much a part of the story as the Crusades. Man simply hadn't heard the whole story because they let the sea divide them from the rest of God's creation. Something had to be done to rectify this and unite the King's forces. At the same time, this realization befuddled him. There was no mention of mermaids or Sirens in the Bible, nor a prophecy of the story of Calypso and Davy Jones. Perhaps these things were woven into the mysteries of Revelation? He could not be sure.
Philip began to weave through wreckage that had washed ashore. Barrels, shattered sections of decking, cordage and canvas. He spotted Syrena in the surf, laying on her belly on a rock. The surf washed up over her to her shoulders, keeping her wet enough to lay out in the open. She spotted him and beckoned for him to come, sitting up and pulling her tail back under her. Philip approached her and stepped into the shallows, pausing as she began to sing.
The Devil and his men stole the world from His hand
And darkness claimed the seas.
"The seas be ours and by my powers,
Where we will, we'll roam!"
Stand fast, my child!
Hold the Cro-ss high!
Love you, that I do!
In ba-ttle, safe, you'll be!
Glo-ry to Je-hov-ah!
Hold the Cro-ss high!
Glo-ry to the King!
For thine, the Vic-tory!
Philip's mouth opened slightly at Syrena's song, the words of which gave him excitement. She looked over her shoulder, the breeze playing with her hair. Philip's eyes tore from hers as the sea erupted into a frenzy and a ship rose from the depths. It was an old ship, evident by her condition and by her design. Her rotting hull was natural in color with gold accents about the gun ports and along the rails. The weathered sails and rigging were covered in marine growth and sea grass, giving the ship a ghostly appearance.
"She is the Flying Dutchman." Syrena announced.
Philip looked at her, then to the shallows as a man walked up out of the depths. He wiped the water from his eyes and face, blinking as he looked to them and approached. He wore a dark frock with a red shirt and sea-green bandanna. His breeches and bucket-top boots were also dark and his dark hair was tucked back behind his ears. Long thin sideburns framed his face and he wore a mustache and goatee.
"Why have you called to me, young maiden?" he asked Syrena.
"Her name is Syrena." Philip immediately corrected.
The man of the sea looked to the missionary and arched a brow.
"Who is this?" he asked Syrena.
"Philip, a man worthy of a mermaid's kiss." she replied.
"My name is William Turner," he addressed Philip, "I am Captain of the Flying Dutchman."
Philip stared back. He had trusted Syrena and knew she spoke the truth, but he still had not grown accustomed to so many legends presenting themselves as reality before his eyes.
"We are not so different, you and I," Captain Turner continued as he came closer, "We have both been given a second chance at life out of love, part of a greater plan."
Philip glanced down and noticed the scar on William's chest. It was a ragged and dreadful looking wound, making Philip wonder how it came to be. It looked nothing like a wound suffered in battle… more like the incisions he had seen on cadavers under the hands of experimenting physicians.
"A greater plan?" Philip asked.
"Yes. If what Syrena says is true, then it is beginning." William answered.
"What is beginning?" Syrena joined.
William turned to look out at his ship, a hand resting on his sword. Then he looked over his shoulder, "The Devil's next gambit. If what I have heard about it is true… then we need to start gathering our resources."
Philip stepped over to Syrena and put his hands on her, holding her close to him as he addressed the ghost ship's Captain.
"What makes our love a trigger for what is to come?"
"A trigger? More a confirmation," Turner mused, "There is a new shanty that has become exceedingly popular aboard my ship."
"What is it about?" Syrena questioned.
William turned and walked through the surf over to them, putting a boot up on Syrena's rock and resting his arm across his knee.
"It tells the tale of a young man who sailed from Cornwall, whose heart was pure enough to win the love of a mermaid," William told them, "The Devil was warned of this man, who could turn the tides of war against him, and he set his plan into motion, raising an armada of the damned. The captain in command of this armada will be hard to read, as his character will entertain both good and evil. Many will be deceived by this man, but a stalwart few led by a man armed with fire shall remain."
Philip and Syrena looked to one another, then Philip spoke, "How do you suppose we prepare for this?"
"First, you will need a ship and a crew," William started, "I take it you have neither of those?"
"I am a missionary, not a captain of a ship!" Philip replied with a hint of sarcasm.
"The tides are changing as we speak," William answered him, "I think God has more in store for you than being a missionary."
"Where do I get a ship and crew?" Philip asked.
Turner pointed to the wrecked ship down at the anchorage and Philip arched a brow. He didn't think Turner's suggestion was at all amusing or realistic.
"She's a wreck!" Philip exclaimed, "How do you suggest I sail with a wrecked ship and a dead crew?"
"If only you put as much faith as you do in God into the other aspects of this world…" William commented with a joking grin, "…I can raise her and get you a crew. Give me the rest of the night and she'll be ready to sail by morning!"
"You will raise that ship?" Philip asked further, still in wonderment at Turner's proposition.
"Philip, do not worry. Go back to the cave and get some rest." Syrena said softly as she looked up at him.
Philip looked down at her and saw the assurance on her face. If anything, he trusted her. He looked back to William and nodded.
"Very well, I will return at dawn." he decreed.
The ghost ship's Captain smiled broadly and stepped back, "Great! I will see you soon, Philip…"
"Swift, Philip Swift."
William turned and started wading back into the shallows, leaving Philip and Syrena alone at the rock. She touched his arm.
"I will meet you back in the cave." she said.
Philip nodded and stepped back, sloshing onto the beach and trudging back up the sand to the cave. As he did the wind began to freshen and he smelled coming rain. The night grew darker as clouds hid the moon and soon it was hard to see. He quickly found the cave and ducked into it, taking his place by the pool of water again. He had barely sat down when a Syrena's delicate hand found his and wove their fingers together. Philip laid back and stared into the darkness, listening to the quiet rippling of the pool as Syrena bobbed about.
"I can't see a thing." Philip announced.
"There is no need," Syrena answered him softly, "You do not need eyes to see someone's soul."
Philip squeezed her hand and she squeezed back, "Syrena…"
"I love you."
Syrena's hand slipped from his and he felt it cup his face. The pool stirred and he felt droplets of water rain down on his chest, then felt her exotic skin against his as she pulled herself over him. It was an odd sensation, to feel the skin of a woman against his chest and the scales of a fish against his abdomen. What's more, it felt completely innocent, void of lust for flesh. Her nakedness was her condition and she was purely innocent in it. Then he felt her lips touch his, kissing him with a slow passion that he still could not believe. As soon as the moment had come, it passed. Then her fingertips lightly explored his face.
"I love you too, Philip. You have set me free," she whispered in his ear, "Now get some sleep. I will be right here, next to you."
She slid back off him and into the pool, leaving Philip to drift into the best sleep he had had in weeks. Outside, the rains began to fall, thunder cracked and lighting lit the sky, churning the sea furiously in a display of power.
Author's Note: Syrena's hymn to the sea should be sung to the same tune of Hoist the Colors High! in case you haven't guessed it yet.