“Never before had I heard such a voice. Never before had I felt my will slip away like water dribbling between my fingers. The siren song is irresistible.” – Estevao Papas after passing through siren waters while restrained so he could listen to their song.
I still remember when I saw my first siren.
I’d been studying monsters for quite some time and had thankfully learned from my mistake of not listening to people who knew better after the incident with the sea serpent.
So, I listened keenly when the sailors spoke of them. Typically, they have everyone stop up their ears although the ones I was with didn’t use wax.
They used earplugs made of cork instead. Apparently, wax is a nightmare to get out afterward.
Needless to say, I followed their instructions and blocked up my ears when we passed through siren territory. As we sailed on, I saw them. Beautiful men and women with flawless skin and perfect yet exotic features. They all had powerful tails covered in scales like those of a fish where their legs would be otherwise, and each had gills on their neck. Their scales shone and glimmered and mesmerized the eyes.
And, all of them were utterly naked.
I didn’t notice right away, distracted by their song even through the cork, but as I wrestled to keep myself in check, I finally saw that their teeth were long and sharp and their nails were extended into long claws.
They swam beside us as though gliding through the water with ease as they sang. And, despite the cork, I would still call it the most beautiful music of my life. Even muffled, their music stirred my emotions and whispered in my mind.
At first, it held me captivated by their beauty. Then, it made me want to take out the earplugs. When I resisted both of those, it grew fiercer. It called for me to murder the sailors beside me. To jump overboard.
But, I resisted. And, it wasn’t easy. Without the cork, I’d have done anything they asked.
And, I wasn’t the only one struggling. The other passengers had been restrained inside their rooms. I was the only non-sailor on deck as I’d specially asked to see them.
Even the sailors around me strained against the song. I saw it in the way some stared longingly at the sirens keeping pace with us and the way others did everything they could to avoid looking at them as though afraid they wouldn’t be able to resist if they did.
The sirens followed us for hours. Tortuous hours.
Sailors were pulled back by others during moments of weakness. As was I. I hadn’t even noticed it, but I’d been walking toward the railing. One of the men snapped me out of it with a firm grip on my shoulder as he dragged me away from the side.
Thankfully, the sirens eventually gave up and swam away, but we didn’t remove the earplugs until the next day when we were sure they were gone.
The captain told me they often lost a man or two even with the plugs. Sometimes more.
Sirens live in salt water, but a few have been captured, and they’re perfectly capable of living in fresh water too. There’s even been a handful of cases where this has happened, but it’s usually just a single siren, and it’s very rare indeed. The same goes for rivers.
They’re even capable of coming onto land as they can transform their fish-like tail into humanoid legs. Sirens are extremely strong. Strong enough to tear their way through the wood most ships are made of unless it has been specially enchanted.
They can also leap out of the water and snatch people out of ships (or from the shore) directly.
They rarely do this, however. My encounter is fairly typical as sirens prefer to rely on the magic of their voices rather than physical strength. Their singing is incredibly powerful magic that bends mortals to their will. It can even control non-humanoid creatures.
It is with their voices that they drive sailors to do whatever it takes to reach the water. Although, they’ve sometimes made the sailors murder each other instead. A researcher captured and questioned a siren and apparently they do such things for fun.
Sirens only need to eat a single humanoid creature (depending on size) once every six months, but they tend to devour far more than that.
Thankfully, their songs are countered by blocking your hearing. If you don’t have cork, you can try covering your ears with your hands, but it’s not as effective. And, do keep in mind that even if you can just barely hear them, they can still manipulate you. It’s not a fun experience.
I found it helps to focus on what they are as their songs tend to try to distort your thinking. They’ll make you see them as beautiful and pure and innocent. That you’ll be happy with them or whatever nonsense helps them get what they want. Or, they may choose to torment you with twisted words, emotions, and memories dredged up from the darkest parts of your mind.
But, regardless of what they do, it helps to focus on the fact that they are monsters. Horrifying, terrible creatures that will pick the meat off your bones beneath the waves and that responding to their song in any way is exactly what they want you to do.
They are intelligent, capable of speech, and as polite and beautiful as they wish to be. But, do not be fooled. Sirens are evil. Voracious. Destructive.
You can’t change them. You can’t make them fit what you wish them to be. They are evil, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
As a side note, many people seem to think that all sirens are female. This is not the case. I suspect this has arisen simply because most men respond more powerfully to the female sirens. Women tend to react to the male sirens better, but most sailors are men.
So, what is to be done regarding sirens?
Honestly, despite their evil nature it’s best to just block your ears and get away from them. Some sailors prefer to attack them, but it is extremely dangerous and largely ineffective. Arrows quickly lose their power beneath the water and sirens are tough enough that even a hit under the best circumstances would likely do very little.
Some sailors use exceptionally long spears to fend them off, but these sailors usually die. The sirens just grab the shaft and pull the sailor in if they don’t let go fast enough.
And, they rarely attack ships directly anyway. However, if they do, then fight for your life until you can get away.
Even wizards struggle with sirens because of the water. They’re hard to keep track of, and many spells are simply useless when the sirens can just duck beneath the waves.
Perhaps if their numbers increase it may be worthwhile to cut them down, but it would be a costly and difficult endeavor.
In the end, with all our magic and power, man will always be at a disadvantage on the water. More so beneath it.
- Nicholas Wolfram, Professor of Monsterology at Lestria University