Lightning streaked across the sky bathing the black in streaks of blue and purple. Not far from the shoreline, Neria could make out the faint outline of the rolling waves and the dark creatures that traveled with them.
The sea witch, Fua’mnach, had come and with her, the armies of the deep.
Moss and lichen made the decent difficult. More than once, the huntress feared she would lose her grip. When her feet touched soft ground, she made haste to the lines of assembled warriors. They could not see yet what she had spied in the waters, several miles out to sea.
“They come,” she told a lanky Fae warrior who approached with sword in hand. He swore; his words lost in the groaning winds. They had grown more ferocious, howling through the bay like the blast of a mighty warhorn, a warning of what was to come.
Calls were made to make ready for the approach. Fae warrior stood next to human, each trembling from the dazzling light show that preceded the sea witch’s fury. There would be no second chance to stop her.
This would be their final stand.
If the armies of the Green Isle wished to be free from her curse, there was no other choice.
“Better to die here,” a golden-haired Fae told Neria as she took her place among those near the front of the assembly. “Do you not think?”
“Better that we finish what we started. I will personally sever that bitches head from her neck and when I am done, empty the seas of every last creature that has tasted our brethren’s flesh for the last hundred years.”
The fae prince drew his sword in reply.
She could smell the sea, the brine, the weeds that grew like forests for miles along the coast. Behind that familiar comfort was the stench of rot and death and she smiled to welcome it.
“It ends tonight,” Neria shouted above the booming echo of thunder that pealed overhead.
Another volley of lightning streaked across the black of night, bright red like rivers of blood.
Then they appeared, out of the depth and onto land, the feet of a hundred-thousand naga, their bodies warped and twisted from a thousand years of being cursed to dwell in the depths of the seas. As they lunged into action, barring their fangs and howling with bloodlust, they were met by the swords of elf and man alike.
Neria waited, watching the foam alight with the pale green-blue speckles of bioluminescent lanterns brought up from the deep. Lesser witches held onto the lights, their mouths moving in rhythmic paces as they held up the barrier that had stood for a hundred years, the cursed barrier that kept the fae and human trapped on land, prey for the vile monsters of the deep.
The legacy Neria’s mother had left for her to destroy.
And destroy she would.
The warriors cleared a path for her. Her focus was set. Set by deliberate step she moved towards the edge of the water, the sword of queens in one hand, the shield of kings in the other.
“I see you have your mother’s foolish streak. Do you really think that you could end this curse so easily, child?”
The honeyed voice of the sea witch drifted like a current, tugging at the strings in her mind in an attempt to control her.
Neria tightened her grip on the sword.
“Your power over these lands will be broken by my hand.”
From the darkness, the form of a giant monster appeared, atop of which sat the beautiful siren wrapped in shimmering layers of green and gold silk. Her flaxen hair waved out all around her as if she was still below the water’s surface, and her eyes were red like the monster atop which she sat.
The beast slapped at the water, its massive tendrils offering challenge.
When the unnatural lightning flashed again, Neria unleashed her fury, bounding across the barrier and slaughtering any creature that dared to get in her way. When she reached the beast, Fua’mnach slid down into the water to join her, their swords meeting as thunder shook land and sea.
Blow after blow they fought, dancing across the water as the storm raged and the soldiers on land held the dark witch’s forces at bay.
“You were a fool to challenge me, there is no power left in the blood of the Tuatha Dé Danann.”
But power there was, renewed the day of Neria’s birth. Hidden the last thirty years until the day she had obtained just enough power, just enough strength to end the madness her mother’s sister had created.
She clutched the sword in her hand, the sword her mother had given her before she returned to Tír na nÓg. It glowed red, red as the shore soaked in blood, red as the lightning streaked across the sky, red as the fury in the witch’s eyes.
Around her feet, the water began to churn and the creatures that had answered the witch’s call to war began to hiss and moan as the temperatures rose, turning the liquid into a bubbling cauldron. Steam rose from the surface, twisting into the air like the screams of banshees.
“It is not possible,” the sea witch screeched as the water beneath her feet caught fire, leaping and lapping up her twisted form.
In one blow, distracted by the fury Neria had unleashed upon the seas, the witch Fua’mnach’s head was cleaved from her body. The sky exploded in a thousand different colors as lightning burned through the dark of night, the last shriek of the witch that had bound the Green Isle in a shroud of death.
No more would they bow to a tyrant who forced them to offer their first born as sacrifices. No more would they live in fear of the night or the sea.
The curse had been lifted.