At first, it was barely noticeable. It began as a low, trembling hum, shivering across the salty breakers as the waves crested and crashed against our ship. Then the sound rose, vibrating, not a hum but a note, high and clear, like birdsong. But it was too crystal to be birdsong.
So delicate... even more delicate than silence.
Somehow, I felt that I must reply to this note, that it was a summons, the plea of some forgotten beauty, calling out to me. I felt my lips part of their own accord as if to form a word, any word at all... but no sound emerged.
It felt as though even the most beautiful voice, the gentlest whisper, the calmest breeze, would shatter the note that was rising over the white water below.
The sound gradually increased in volume, and then it was not alone. Note after note, intricate harmony, each voice unlike anything I had ever heard in my life, but all uniting into something... otherworldly. The music tumbled and dived, almost arcing across the tossing sea: banners of sound, streamers of melodies. As a vivid mosaic is to the eye, glittering with every color, shining in the sun, piece by piece of crystal placed skillfully together; as a tapestry is woven at a seamstress' fingers, varying lengths and hues of thread, woven deftly, leaping over each other, interweaving into a scene worthy of the gods... so the music was to my ears.
Impossibly beautiful and terrifying, but at the same time.
Shivers began to spread out from the base of my spine, shuddering through my whole body. My heart seemed to swell, almost throbbing with something between cold and heat. The beat skipped erratically, leapt inside of my chest. My heart fluttered uncertainly against my ribs, then began to pick up speed, racing violently, flying against my ribcage as though it were trying to tear out of my chest: anything, if only it could meet the source of the music.
I tried to reach out as if to touch the notes, to feel them run like fresh water through my fingers – but I found that something bound me. I felt my eyes widen, fear lurching inside of me. No. I must go to the music.
It called to me.
It knew me.
I strained against this binding sensation, unable to tear free. Something rough bit into the skin of my wrists, my ankles, my shoulders. I had expected chains, but the chains burned. Not chains. Rope. Cords of rope restrained me, held me back from the call, the music, the beautiful music...
If I went to it, I knew, I would never want to leave. I would lie in bliss for eternity, the ravishing voices rising in a flawless whirlwind around me.
The temptation was too much, the opportunity too great. The notes rose, still trembling, and then they were not notes. They were words. Calling, calling, calling.
"Come closer, young Annabeth Chase – wise daughter of Pallas Athena – stay so you can hear our song!"
Come! My ears rang with the tortured wail, so hopeful, hope crushed to dust and ashes. Had I no pity? No mercy? Desire strangled me. Come!
Stay! A shrill cry, banging against the inside of my skull. Had I no ears? Had I not known of the wisdom that beckoned me here, that called my name? Stay!
The music sang in veins, boiled in my blood, roared in the very marrow of my bones.
The song was a hurricane inside of my mind. Images danced before my eyes, winging on the very air – father's disapproving scowl; the fiery glare of the Cyclops that captured me; Thalia shrieking in agony as her fingers lengthened into branches, her soft hair faded to leaves; Luke staring coldly into my soul; Kronos' golden casket behind him...
The song shifted. Changed.
"We know all the pains that you have endured since birth when the gods willed it so – all that comes to pass on the fertile earth, we know it all! We know unsearchable things, wisdom from Olympus itself. Listen, daughter of Athena, child of the deathless gods! Immortal knowledge waits for you. Come closer!"
My heart burned. Physical pain. I shuddered wildly, writhing in the ropes. I clawed at the cords with my fingernails, but to no avail. Heartless ropes, useless bonds, burning cords. Release me! The cords dug deep into my skin, almost to the point of drawing blood.
Who had dared to tie me here? They couldn't know of this, this beauty I heard, this unspeakable thing. They must set me free. They must untie me.
I tried to speak, felt the salty air come rushing into my chest, felt my lungs contract, felt air push out of my throat, a syllable yet unformed – but no sound emerged from my lips. I mouthed Percy's name mutely. Again, I struggled to fight this onslaught of sound, this suffocating melody that swirled around me. This time, I heard my own voice.
A low whisper, jagged. "Percy..."
The sound gave me more confidence. I tried again. This attempt was louder, an agonized shriek, anguished, tortured, tormented – begging for release. "Percy! Percy!"
Couldn't he see? I would rather die than be away from this song. I would rather pass into Hades' realm, forever conscious in eternal tortures, than remain bound here.
All creation vibrated with the melody. Calling me, taking over my mind.
Come! The voices cried. Come!
Stay! The harmony echoed. Stay!
I suddenly knew one thing, one blazing, all-consuming need: cut the ropes.
A weapon. I needed a weapon, now, any weapon, it didn't matter. I just had to go to the song. Now. This very instant.
Hypnotic harmonies whirled around me. The hopelessness of all this devoured me from the inside out, ate me alive.
I begged. I pleaded.
I was imploring Percy, now – words flying out of my mouth, although they were nearly drowned out entirely by the beautiful, beautiful song.
"Percy, please. Untie me! Now! Listen to me; you have to let me go, please, please, please... I can't stay here. I can't. Just let me go, Percy. You're my friend. Don't you even care?"
And then they came – real, terrible tears, tasting of salt and sorrow and bitterness – streaking my hot cheeks, streaming down my face. My teeth ground together.
"Percy!" I begged him, my voice choked by the tears. My throat tightened. I swallowed hard, feeling as though I'd forgotten how to breathe. "Please... please..."
I was flying and drowning, suffocating and being crushed into dust, truly living and utterly dying, all at the same time. My ears rang; my stomach roiled and rolled with nausea. My breathing was ragged, pained, with every pointless gasp.
What did anything even mean, if I was to remain trapped here? Away from life? The music was life itself, was everything and nothing, both empty and full, silent and deafening...
The ropes broke the skin of my wrists as I fought them. Warm, wet blood seeped down my hands, sticky on my palms. I was desperate now, going mad. I was going to lose my mind if I couldn't get free. My jaw locked so tightly, I felt like my skull was going to snap into little shards of bone.
My whole body thrilled, my heart pulsating in time with the music, my breathing faltering as the rush overwhelmed me, a crushing wave of sound.
"You are a simple child, daughter of Athena!" the voices sang. "Annabeth, come! We know your pains. Your struggles. Your desires. Your secrets. You know nothing of yourself, half-blood! We know all that you are, all that you may yet become. Come, Athena's daughter, and hear our wisdom. Hear our counsel! You may yet become wiser than you have ever dreamed. Your potential is greater than you know!"
A weapon. Any weapon.
Then I knew.
My bronze knife!
My fingers stretched to the point of pain, my bleeding wrist writhing in the ropes, and I felt it shift. A fraction of an inch. Enough. I felt the cold, smooth surface of a bronze handle, my blade, my weapon to free me. My fingers caught the hilt, slowly drawing it up, slowly, slowly, and it slid into my hand. I gripped it so fiercely; my knuckles went bone-white.
I didn't have to saw at the ropes. I didn't even have to struggle. My hand tore up of its own accord, ripping through the ropes in one sharp sweep – frayed cords falling away, broken bonds collapsing to the deck – and I felt my whole self, my body, my soul, my mind, thrilling with the music, the vibrations coursing, burning, slicing, clawing through me, glorious agony, lovely pain.
I was free.
I must stay.
It was a gut reaction, the only logical thing to do. I hit the deck running, my feet racing across the ship, towards the edge. The sea raged below, rolling in time with the music.
The sea called to me. The song called to me. The melody struck my name, a high, keening note that rattled the ocean itself.
I sucked in all the air that I could hold, and then I dove headfirst into the wild white waves.
A/N: The rest of the Sirens' incident will be in the next chapter. Feedback on this would be greatly appreciated. I just finished reading "The Sea of Monsters," so please refrain from spoilers beyond book two in your reviews – other than that, tell me what you really think. Even it's some constructive criticism. Just be civil. No flames. I don't have the time or the patience for online jerks...
This is in canon, fitting the descriptions that Percy provides in the original book; I am adding some details, though. Much of the Sirens' song is a reworded version of their song to Odysseus in the Odyssey. I'm reading the Odyssey for school (I just finished the Iliad, both translated by Robert Fagles) so I took the Sirens' song in the Odyssey, reworded it a bit, and expanded it to fit Annabeth's own weaknesses. I thought connecting this with actual mythology would give it some more depth.
Again, please R&R!
More to come! :)