Sirens and Leviathans
Amphitrite stepped off the gangplank and steadied herself against the sway of the ship as waves met the hull. She looked around the deck, where her ladies were well into the process of commandeering the large vessel.
She took a deep, fortifying breath of crisp ocean air. The salty breeze revitalized her in a way nothing else could. They were still far from shore, a fact belied by the lack of birds calling out to her. She’d have enough time to handle her business here and move on before the human ships found her.
The pirates, having been rounded up by her crew, were on their knees with their wrists tied behind their backs.
Good. This was going to be easier than she thought.
The captives’ dark eyes watched them with a combination of anger and shock. Another perk of a ship full of female pirates. Men never knew what to do when faced with her crew. Did they fight the lady as they did a man? That moment of hesitation was all she and her girls needed.
Her first mate moved to stand beside her and, without prompting, gave her the lay of the land.
“A dozen men here. Twenty men, including the captain, are being held below decks.” Her first mate paused and ground her teeth. “And thirty-two in cargo.”
Amphitrite almost choked.
“Thirty-two?” She tried not to let her voice rise, but she was having difficulty. Thirty-two women sat in the ship’s hull, terrified, not knowing that their future meant being sold into a slave trade where the price was innocence and flesh.
“Yes,” she confirmed. “They are in a horrendous state. This lot,” she motioned to the men bound in front of them, “is lucky I didn’t separate their heads from their necks when I found them.”
The cadence of her first mate’s normally calm voice broke, telling Amphitrite all she needed to know about how to handle this.
“Take me to the captain,” she ordered. “Hold the men here. We will let our friends of the sea handle them soon enough and I don’t want to miss that.” She let a devious smirk cross her face as the men tied in ropes visibly paled at her reference to ‘friends of the sea’.
Oh, they knew. All the better.
Her first mate led her across the deck. As she turned toward the ship’s living quarters, she heard the tell-tale grunts of her crew taking their anger out on the newly captured men. She did not begrudge them, not if what she was walking into was anything close to what she imagined.
They stopped in front of an ornately carved door, the rich wood mismatched from the rest of the battered ship, and she knew immediately a pretentious bastard waited behind it. Her hand twitched toward her cutlass, but perhaps it was better to let him think her weaker, less able to handle herself in his presence.
Amphitrite was good at misleading people. That was what made her the best spymaster on the high seas. She was unremarkable when compared to her sisters; Persephone and Hera. She could fall back into the shadows, and she knew how to stay there. Even her sisters were ignorant of the network she’d amassed over the years and her role at its head. When her spies went to Hera with information, Amphitrite often wondered if she even questioned who’d accumulated those jewels of intelligence for her. How would that thunderous sister of hers react if she knew the truth? That she spent her days as a pirate, hunting for a treasure much greater than gold: secrets.
She stepped through the ridiculous door, her first mate following behind her, and stood before a fat, bearded man. He was strapped to his seat in the center of the small chamber. A sneer pinched his bloated face when she entered.
Amphitrite knew what he saw. A petite woman in scandalous trousers and a leather corset tied over her undersleeves. A dark blue coat large enough to suit a man twice her size. A tricorn hat with a bold feather. A gleaming cutlass. Wild red hair barely constrained in a wind-swept braid.
A pirate queen.
The bane of his existence.
“Sea witch,” he growled, straining against his bonds.
Amphitrite shrugged. “Sea witch. Water witch. It matters not what you call me.”
The captain glowered.
“You searched him?” she questioned her first mate.
“Sadly, yes. The disgusting things I do for you…” she muttered.
Amphitrite gave her a wink and assessed the briny captain coolly.
Oh, how the tables have turned.
“And whom may I presume you are?” She smiled, but it was all teeth.
He spat on the floor near her feet. Neither she nor her first mate flinched.
“Ah!” Amphitrite held up a hand. “My apologies! I haven’t properly introduced you to my first mate! A thorough search without a name. Where are my manners?”
The woman stepped forward and Amphitrite watched the man’s weariness grow at the sight of the honey eyes and skin, the dark hair braided with colorful beads from around the world. She could have been a siren had she not been born mortal.
“Captain,” she said with flourish. “This is Medusa.”
The man jerked against the rope holding him to the chair, his eyes bulging with fear.
Amphitrite smirked at her friend. “Your reputation precedes you!”
Medusa’s beautiful face held no smile. “As it should.” Her flinty gaze was trained on the captain, who trembled violently.
“Honestly, I did not receive that same reaction.” Amphitrite pouted.
“You hide the nightmares in you. I let mine free.”