Looking at the sun the prince gauged the men were facing north. Heading west they traveled for several days before coming across a small lagoon. Emerald green trees and bright pink flowers grew around the water’s edge, enticing them with pleasant fragrances and the promise of cool relief. Striping of cloth the men waded into the water, grateful for a place to wash and refresh themselves.
As the others chatted the prince hung back against the shore, lost in thought. Several months had passed since he left his homeland, possibly a whole year. He had planned on arriving in Asia by now to meet his would-be wife, Florette. Lothar, captain of the men, now looked to him for guidance, a mere seventeen year old. Peru held confidence but pressure weighted so heavily his shoulders sagged beneath the water. Survive and find a way off the island, that was most important now. But the prince could not escape the sound of bells haunting his dreams.
An eerie silence settled over the men as a sound like harps filled the air. The water itself parted ways before the beautiful women rising from the depths of the pond, singing a beautiful melody. Awe-struck the men could only gaze as the slim figures coyly circled, continuing to sing until their song reached a fever pitch.
Astonished Prince Peru watched the women in awe until, from his distance, he noticed their legs were not two but one. They were mermaids who, like sirens, seek wayward men to ensnare in their song to drown and eat. Fewer in number the women gravitated to a select few, embracing the all too eager men in their arms. Reality stricken Peru called out to his men, warning them of the true nature of the predators. Some did not hear, already in the arms of the mermaids and lost in their magic. The men who had not been chosen by the woman, hearing Peru’s cries, swam towards shore panic stricken of a watery grave. Moving from the bank Peru swam opposite, prying the hypnotized men away from the sirens. But try as he might no sooner did he break the bond did the men hurry back to their maidens only as a pair to sink below the water out of sight. Peru felt arms wrap around him, promising everything he ever wanted and more. Refusing to listen Peru struggled until he broke free from the creature’s grasp and made his way to shore. Once safely on land he turned to see many men missing, never to be seen again.
“Prince Peru,” Lothar spoke. “Once more I saw you risk your life to save others. The men remaining and I are eternally indebted to you and are your slaves for life, if you will take us.”
“There is no need for such commitment,” the prince replied. “Help me reach my goal and your debt is paid.”