Authors: Elizabeth Rose
The Sheik and the Siren
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any
similarities to actual organizations or persons living or deceased is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever without the author’s written permission.
Cover by Elizabeth Rose Krejcik
Cover image provided by Shutterstock.
The Sailor and the Siren
(Legacy of the Blade Series)
(Tarnished Saints Series)
(Greek Myth Fantasy Series)
No man had ever heard the song of the siren and lived to tell about it. But
after today, that would all change.
Asad of Thorndale – once squire, then knight of the mighty Lord Drake Pendragon was known as a risk-taker, and sailing his ship right through Death’s Door was a challenge he longed to take. Since the day Lord Drake saved him from being executed in his desert homeland of Tamiras across the sea, Asad – or Ace - as he preferred to be called, had been a loyal vassal to the man. But now he was a captain – a trader of the seas, and a damn fine one at that.
His ship, the Paradigm
, was a two-masted carvel once used as a fishing boat that he now hired out for trade. A shallow draught and lanteen sails on the main and mizzen masts made it light and fast and able to travel in shallow waters. That, he realized was what would make him successful in sailing through Death’s Door – the channel of water said to be inhabited by the siren. ’Twas filled with hidden underwater rocky crags and reefs that brought most men to their deaths.
He was returning from a trade overseas with
thirty tuns filled with food, fine wine, expensive silks, and exotic spices, amongst his cargo. He had a full crew of nine men under his command and it felt damned good. He’d worked hard to build not only a business but a name for himself as well. He was known for being ruthless as well as always winning – no matter if it was bargaining for a trade, or playing dice or his favorite game - cards. That’s what earned him the name of ‘Ace,’ when he’d won the Paradigm at the hands of a careless and drunken seafarer. A seafarer, that is, who now worked for him as his first mate.
Nothing frightened Ace, and he made sure everyone knew it. After all, he’d been in many dangerous situations in his life and lived
to tell about it, such as fighting by Lord Drake’s side as they went up against the deadly dragon, Dracus. Ace was known throughout the lands and also the waters as the
Lion of the Sea
For over a year now, Ace had been sailing his ship back and forth in t
rade over the vast sea transporting every kind of cargo from precious jewelry to textiles and the finest wool, to simple things such as fruit or salted herring. He’d docked his ship in more ports than he could count – but the one place he’d never dock was at the land of sand and sheiks. That is, his homeland of Tamiras. He swore to himself five years ago he would never return after the horrific tragedy he’d witnessed. And Ace, also being a knight, always stood by his word.
never turned down a challenge, and his first mate had made the mistake of saying that even the Lion of the Sea could not hear the siren’s song and live to tell of it afterward. You’d think the man would have learned not to drop the gauntlet in front of Ace’s nose after he’d already lost his ship to him. And now, the blood pumped excitedly through Ace’s veins as he looked out over the bowsprit to realize they were headed directly for the Straits of Oppulous, or better known as Death’s Door.
This is whe
re the siren was said to live - singing her haunting, alluring tune, calling sailors to her bosom, only to have them dashed upon the cragged rocks and sent straight to hell, broken and bleeding. No one sailed through Death’s Door. Or rather, no one sailed through and survived, coming out alive on the other side. But today, the Lion of the Sea would change all that. Because today, Ace decided, he would be the first and only living man to ever hear the siren’s song.
drifted across the water silently, enshrouded in a gripping fog, threatening to consume him before he even reached the straits. He stood at the bow of the ship, staring out to the sea, planning this dangerous feat in his mind. The sky was darkening quickly, and the fog rolling in so thick and fast, he could barely see past the bowsprit anymore, when just moments before the sun had been shining brightly. He knew he should turn around and not be so reckless as to submit his crew to this deathwish, but something inside him had stirred, and he was being drawn to the challenge, not able to turn away now if he wanted to.
tain,” came the voice of Boots, his first mate and sternsman, bringing him from his thoughts.
man was small in stature and a few years older than Ace at his own two and twenty years. He’d given his first mate the name Boots, because he always wore his boots on deck, no matter what the weather. He’d only taken them off once that Ace knew of, and that was when he’d lost them in the same card game that landed Ace the ship. But Ace gave them back, as he couldn’t take everything from the man, nor did he want them. He liked the man and couldn’t leave him with naught, so that’s why he offered Boots and his brother the opportunity to stay on their ship, but as part of his crew as he started his new life of sea trade. His brother, who Ace called Bear, was twice as big as Boots and very burly. But he was the quietest man Ace had ever met, as he barely ever spoke.
” Boots said once again, “we need to veer larboard in order to bypass the island before ’tis too late.”
ay, we’re keeping course,” he told his first mate with a shake of his head.
“But captain –
if we stay on course, we’ll be sailing right into the straits.”
And that is exactly where we’re headed. We’re going to sail right through Death’s Door.”
“Surely you jest
. No one goes through Death’s Door and lives to tell about it. We’ll be dashed upon the rocks, not to mention lured to our death by the siren’s song as well.”
“I’ve studied the rocks every time we pass this way. I also can read the currents, and know if we keep a straight course we can make it through without
disturbing a barnacle on the hull. I do believe the reason ships crash and men meet their demise is because they’re pulled off course as they head toward the sound of the siren’s singing. By my calculations, if we can stay on course, we can make it through.”
But the fog is thick and ’tis too risky. And have you forgotten that the siren is sure to sing?”
“That’s what I’m counting on, Boots.” He pushed past the m
an and tested the rigging to make sure it was secure.
ou can’t mean to send us all to our deaths when it can easily be avoided.”
ce looked back out to the straits and shook his head. “I am going to be the first man to hear the siren’s song and live to tell about it.”
“What? Nay! When I challenged you to that I was well in my cups. I beg you, do not go through with it just because of your pride.”
“’Tis more than pride,” he told him. “I’ve been thinking about this. If we bypass Death’s Door and go around Dolphin Island, we’ll lose nearly a day’s travel time in the process. By going straight through, our trips will be faster and it’ll eventually add up to many more trades. Possibly even double our profits before long.”
“We’ll never see a single coin from
it if we’re dead.”
“I need to hear the siren’s song,” he told his crewmember. “I need to feel alive again. Don’t you understand? This is all I have. I’ve got to do it.”
“Nay, I don’t understand,” said Boots. “And I ask you again, Captain, please abort your insane mission and thereby spare the lives of every man on the Paradigm. I have no use for valor, nor do I wish to die. You have already won everything I own, so please don’t take my life as well.”
not going to die,” Ace reassured him. “Nor is anyone else.” He made his way to the center mast, stopping right in front of it. The wind was blowing only slightly and the ship’s sails were far from full. “You and the others will be down below with your ears full of wool until we make it through the pass.” He looked up at the sky that was darkening at a furious rate. He could smell fresh rain in the salty air from the heavy clouds hanging above them. “The wind will be picking up any minute now as a storm is brewing and we should be able to sail straight through. Tie the wheel to stay on course and you and the men get below deck quickly.”
e reached down and grabbed a skein of strong rope hanging on the side of the mast, testing it for strength.
“Where will you be?” asked Boots surveying the rope in his hand.
“Right here.” Ace handed the man the rope. “Tie me to the mast. Tonight is the night I hear the siren’s song and with any luck I’ll see her as well.”
“You are addled, Captain.
I ask you again, let me turn the ship and stop this nonsense once and for all.”
’Tis not nonsense, Boots.” Ace laid his back against the wooden center mast, feeling it starting to shift as the winds picked up slightly. He raised his hands high above his head. “You know I’m a risk-taker and this is one risk that’ll certainly pay off. Death’s Door leads right to the port of Lornoon. Once we dock, men would be tossing coins at me left and right to hear all about the siren, and I would be only too happy to tell them. Now hurry, as we’re nearing the island now.”
“I still don’t like this, not one bit,” grumbled Boot
s, wrapping the ropes around Ace.
All men below deck,” shouted Ace, “and fill your damned ears with wool unless you want to die today. Stay in the hold and don’t come out until I tell you the coast is clear.”
His crew looked up, surprised,
then not questioning his command, scurried about preparing to do as ordered.
“And how would we hear you
with our ears filled with wool?” asked Boots, tying a sturdy knot.
“Tighter,” instructed Ace
. “You know I can get out of any knot so make it a challenge or I might end up dead after all. And you’ll need to leave the wool out of your ears so you can hear my call,” he told him. “You’ll have to tie yourself up below deck.”
The man pulled hard on the ropes, his anger as well as fear showing in the creases around his downturned mouth. “Captain, you know I’ve serv
ed you well since the day you stole this ship from me, and I’ve been naught but loyal, but there is no way I’m going to die at the voice of a siren today, so please don’t ask me to do that.”
First off, I won the ship fairly, I didn’t steal it. And second - you are right, it’s too risky to ask you to do this,” said Ace. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll find a way to free myself after we’ve passed the island and the threat is gone. I’ll come get you and the crew, so just stay put no matter what you hear above deck, do you understand me?”
“Aye, Captain,” he said, a forlorn look upon his face.
“You look as if you’re saying goodbye,” laughed Ace. “I assure you, this is nothing compared to things I’ve done in the past. Now get going, the winds are picking up nicely and we should make it through the pass with little navigation. Just make certain you secure the wheel before you retreat below deck.”
With nothing but a slight nod, his first mate ran off to once more – and hopefu
lly not the last time, do as Ace directed.
Ebba-Tyne surfaced from beneath the water, already aware of the presence of the trade-ship, even before she’d seen it. The sea as well as the dolphins had warned her they now had intruders. She popped her head above the water and spied the two masts of a ship sailing golden flags with an ebony rampant lion upon it, teeth showing and its right leg raised as if ready to attack. She hadn’t seen this ship before. Actually, she hadn’t seen a ship at Death’s Door in a while now. Not many had attempted the pass since the night her mother was taken by that horrible man from the desert. Her father had lost his life trying to save her, and Ebba now wished she had done something to try to help instead of heeding her mother’s command that she stay hidden beneath the water.
looked as if it meant to sail straight through. Why did these fools think they could make it through Death’s Door? She was an elemental of the water, having half fae and half human blood running through her veins. She was able to command the sea as well as communicate by mind with the many dolphins that surrounded the island. Her home for the past nine and ten years had been on Dolphin Island. Her mother, Doria- Nerita had been a fae, and was married to her father who’d built Varusa Castle atop the cliffs of the island, overlooking the vast sea. It was a beautiful castle at one time, and though she visited it frequently while growing up, her mother as well as herself preferred to spend their time in the coral cave just off the shore.
Her mother had sung her siren’s song, never meaning for anyone to go to
their death in the process. But the song of a siren was something a human could not resist. And singing was something a fae could not refrain from doing either. She heard the shouting of the men of the island – the last survivors of her father’s castle. Most of the island’s occupants had been killed when they were attacked over a year ago on that awful day. Some of the remaining survivors left the island to go live on the mainland now. But the dozen men who decided to remain here were all hurt or maimed in some way from the attack.
They more or less
stayed behind because of being demoralized by the outcome. Here, no tongues would wag or eyes would gaze upon their deformities – the result of being defeated in a lost battle. But they had no income nor the means to even take care of themselves in their condition. So they’d turned to piracy, taking what they could get from ships that passed in order to stay alive. They were broken men physically and mentally as well, and this saddened Ebba as at one time they had been the fiercest of warriors and very skilled at their professions, no matter if they were a soldier or only the castle’s cook. But now – they were naught more than pirates since they turned to a deceitful way of life, realizing they were no match to anyone anymore or real use in a battle.