The Siren’s Call, {Chapter One excerpt}

William Henderson wasn’t a fearful man, and why should he be? Standing at a good height of six-foot-two with a mighty, muscular build, there was no doubt that he could defend himself from any harm—along with the fact that his past occupation included looting, pillaging, fighting, and other daring tasks that took courage.

Today, however, was different. Today, he was facing a challenge he had never seen coming. He stood before his weak, pregnant, dying wife, Sara. His hazel eyes filled with pain, and his features clouded over with darkness. Feeling hopeless, he kneeled at her bedside, praying for a miracle. In this moment, his might, nor his wealth could help him.

“William.” His sister, who was younger by five years, shivered. “You can’t just let her and the baby die,” she whimpered.

William looked up at her. Her auburn hair was messy as it rested on her shoulders, and her dark-brown eyes had dark circles under them due to constant lack of sleep. Tears stained her cheeks, and her pink lips quivered as she made her way closer to Sara and gently dabbed a cold rag on her forehead. William kept on gripping Sara’s hand, feeling his heart sink further than he thought possible as he looked at her. Sara lay there, still so beautiful, even in her weakened state. Her fair skin still rosy and fresh, her lips still red, and her long brunette hair still shiny—her hand was freezing cold, though, and she trembled where she lay. William took a deep breath and gulped. “I don’t know what to do, Angelica.”

“You have to take her to Arjan,” Angelica firmly told him.

“I can’t. Taking her to him would mean exposing her to—”

“He’s the only one who can help her. William, please! We can’t just stand here hoping she’ll get better. Take her.”

“She’s right,” an older woman weakly stated as she entered the room. She placed her hand on William’s shoulder; he could feel her shaking. Her gray hair was woven into a side braid that rested gently over her shoulder, and her pale blue eyes were filled with distress and worry. “We’re going to have to take the risk,” she said.

“Catharine.” William stood.

“I won’t let my daughter and my first grandchild die. Arjan is well-trained in the Melusines art of alchemy. He can help her, and he is the only Siren you can trust with the life of your wife and son. I give you permission to take her to him. Please do it,” she begged.

William looked down at Sara who groaned, shifting uncomfortably. He considered the pros and cons before he finally succumbed, nodding. “Angelica, pack her things, and let’s leave tonight,” he instructed, and his sister went running off.

Catherine took William’s face in her hands and weakly smiled at him. “And please, call me Mother,” she requested. “I will contact Arjan and tell him to meet you in the cove on the shore. Go.”

***

William wasted no time changing from his linen nightshirt and lounging pants into his usual fancy garb; instead, he hurried as carefully as he could, carrying Sara down to the shore. He wanted to move at the fastest speed his feet would allow, but he knew how dangerous that would be for his wife and child. The shore was not far from their home, only less than half a mile; he made his way down the cobblestone road, ignoring the scattered calls, questions, and stares of all who watched him carrying his wife. He walked over a bridge and down a hill, and then stood in the sand leading to the beach—the cove was about twenty feet away now.

“Willy?” Sara weakly whispered, looking up at him.

“Just a little while longer,” William assured.

Finally getting to the cove, he gently sat Sara down and took the sack from around his back, taking out blankets to make a small pallet for her on the ground. The beautiful cove was covered by a rock mass, with the ocean just barely making its way in before draining out again. The trickling of a tiny waterfall ahead felt soothing to both of them, and there was a small set-up—reminiscent of a doctor’s lab—in the left corner.

“Sapphorra!” a voice gasped, rushing inside the cove. William and Sara turned around to view the newcomer. The Siren’s peculiar waist-length, turquoise hair was blown back by the wind; his eyes were of the same shade as his locks, but right now, they were filled with fear. He was built strappingly, standing at equal height to William, and from afar could appear dangerous indeed, but up close, as his features came into view, he couldn’t be mistaken for anything else but kind and compassionate. He was dressed in a cream-colored, ruffled shirt under a royal blue velvet vest and high-waisted trousers of the same color—all very modest for a Siren. “What is being the problem?” he panted, falling beside Sara and rubbing her head.

William felt relief at seeing him there. The Siren was nothing like the others in his family. He cared deeply for William and Sara; William could sense that in Arjan’s gentle tone. “She started going into labor, then she passed out and…nothing. She’s come to once or twice, but I can see that she’s barely hanging on,” he explained with a pained expression.

Arjan rushed over to his lab and brought back a few items. Soon, he wrapped goggles around his head and covered his hands with black gloves. “How long is it that the little one is sitting in the womb?” he asked.

William looked down shamefaced. He knew he should have gone for help a while ago. “Ten months,” he admitted.

“Ten months!” Arjan gasped. “This is too long! The fortune of the wisping heights is crying in the midst of the undertone!”

“I know, I know. But I just thought it was normal for her. She was fine until a day ago.”

“She is being in state like this for over a day, and you were not coming to me before?”

“I’m sorry,” William told him. “I hoped she would get better.”

Arjan put a reassuring hand on his shoulder and gave a comforting smile. “I am not trying to be make you feel judged,” he told him. “I will help her. I am giving you this promise.” He made his way back over to the lab-like area and tied his long hair back. “The baby is running out of oxygen,” he explained as he set up his tools. “He is trying for to be feeding upon his mother’s, and so she is being without oxygen the same.”

William watched as the Siren snipped off a lock of his hair with no hesitation and dropped it into the crucible. He carefully heated the bowl over a small woodfire and mixed it with a dark yellow substance. He felt uncomfortable when Arjan made a face of disgust at the element. “What is that?”

“Phlegm of Selkie.” Arjan grimaced.

William almost turned green, feeling sick to his stomach. “It will help Sara,” he told himself.

Arjan mixed the ingredients together and then stood still and quiet. He shut his eyes and appeared to be in deep thought before William could see tears as white as snow falling down his cheeks and into the crucible. He stood in awe, knowing that the tears could only be brought on by an immeasurable amount of agony in a Siren’s heart. What could Arjan have gone through to allow him to cry such tears on command? William wondered. He was snatched from his thoughts when he heard the sound of sizzling as the heat fused the rest of the ingredients together.

Arjan carefully removed the crucible from the heat and poured a drop of saltwater into it. He blew on it to cool it down and rushed beside Sara. “Be holding her head up,” he requested, and William gently lifted her head so that he could feed her the potion by drops. After the potion was gone, William laid Sara’s head back down. He saw the life start to come back into her face, and her eyes opened. “Sara!” he gasped in excitement, desiring to lock his arms around her.

“Yes,” Arjan proudly beamed. “Sapphorra?” he whispered.

“Arjan?” Sara struggled to lift her head.

“Yes, it is being me,” he told her. He took her hand and held it tightly. “Baby is to be coming soon. The potion shall be keeping you from pain,” he assured.

Sara feebly nodded, laying her head back down and shifting her eyes around the cove. “Is he going to be all right?” she asked, hand on her belly.

“He will be perfect,” Arjan told her. “Perfect.”

***

Arjan blinked his eyes at the beautiful newborn boy, he was so healthy. His dark emerald eyes locked in on the Siren’s face, reaching for him and cooing. Every time the baby blinked, his eyes would switch from emerald to silver. His head was covered in brown hair, mixed with silver strands. Arjan couldn’t stop looking at the child. He was beautiful, and an overwhelming love grew in his heart. Arjan felt strongly connected to him after saving him from the clutches of death, as if he shared the parenthood with William and Sara. “He is being so precious,” he meekly told them as he paced around the cove with the child in his arms. “He is being so silent for Human baby,” he laughed. “What will you be calling him?”

William smiled at Arjan’s adoration for their child. William looked at Sara, who clearly wanted to hold her son for the first time, and held back a laugh. “Trevor, Trevor William Hagarth,” he replied.

“Trevor William Hagarth,” Arjan repeated. “Hagarth,” he gasped. “Labyrinth. How beautiful!”

“Thank you.” William nodded. “Arjan?”

“Yes?”

“May we hold the child now?”

Arjan’s pupils grew tiny with embarrassment. “Oh, please be forgiving me!” he begged, handing the child to William. “I have never been putting eyes upon such a beautiful child before.”

William and Sara stared at Trevor with pride; they knew their child was beautiful, and just as Arjan said, he was quiet, aside from the occasional giggle and coo. They could feel their eyes filling with tears of joy over the fact that their baby was safe. They sent grateful looks in Arjan’s direction, and William stood to hug him. “Thank you.” He sniffled. “Thank you for saving them—I owe everything to you.”

“The happiness and safety of your family is being enough for my satisfaction,” Arjan replied. “Be well.” He walked over to Sara and kissed her head, then kissed the head of Trevor before departing the cove.

“Arjan!” William called and Arjan turned back. “You have a right to see him when you wish,” he said.

“This baby is special, I am knowing that you realize this. Should my mother be finding out of his existence then—”

“I know.” William nodded. “But as long as you’re careful, she shouldn’t be a worry. I know you don’t want to part from him. You’re the reason that Trevor is alive and well. It wouldn’t be fair to shun you from him.”

Arjan looked over at Sara; he could see it in her eyes that she was wary of William’s invitation. Finally, she nodded her agreement. “You really would not be minding this?” he asked, voice cracking.

“It’s only fair,” Sara told him.

Overcome with appreciation and happiness, Arjan hugged William, nearly crushing his bones as he lifted him off the ground. “I will see to it that the boy is remaining in safeness!” he promised. “They will not even be harming a strand of his hair. Fortitude of hopefulness lets the birds of secret.”

William and Sara exchanged a quick glance. It wasn’t unusual for Arjan to speak in such a way, but it still took them time to get used to. “Thank you for everything,” Sara whispered to him.

“A thousand times over, I would be doing this for you,” he told them. He bid them farewell and walked into the water, disappearing from before them.

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