Merveil, the Siren
xquisitely beautiful, slim, graceful and kind, fair Merveil was the envy of all the court maidens. As the most desired, it was only fitting she attracted the affections of Daresso, a famed swordsman, notorious flirt, and renowned treasure hunter. Their courtship was a whirlwind, the stuff of gossip and whispers among the courtesans. Daresso proposed to Merveil a mere fortnight after their first meeting, bending down upon one knee in the city garden at sunrise, as was the custom. For their engagement, he presented his lady with his most prized possession, the Star of Wraeclast. It was a dazzling ruby necklace, the gemstone nearly the size of a child's fist, hung from a braid of pure spun gold and inlaid with a twining ribbon of milky pearl. Rumor had it that Daresso had found the gemstone on a recent campaign deep into Wraeclast's wild jungle interior, a journey that claimed the lives of several men. Regardless of its origin, Merveil accepted the gift with joy, clasping it about her silky neck. The brilliant stone seemed to glow at her bosom with its own light. This was to be her happiest moment, for things did not unfold so well thereafter.
n the days that followed the grand wedding, Merveil was seen about the city, appearing to float on a cloud of joy, so difficult to read was her expression of blank contentment. She went from home to the market to the theater, always with the precious necklace at her throat, the better for all to see. One would think that someone so proud of an object would willingly allow others to handle it, but not so with Merveil. The first sign of warning came at a party, when one of the lady's friends decided to reach out to caress the beguiling stone. The woman's fingers had only brushed the gem, when Merveil screeched and clawed violently at her friend's face. Some who attended the party swore that the sound was more of a hiss than a scream, but all could agree on the horror of the injuries inflicted. The girl lost an eye but was lucky to keep any sight at all.
Naturally, Daresso was aghast at his bride's actions, yet Merveil’s rage at the party was only a sign of things to come. She began to leave their bed at night, wandering the black streets aimlessly and returning home disheveled and smelling foul. On one night, her husband awoke to find her naked in bed with him, as freezing cold as death itself, her skin covered in some sort of vile slime. It was even said that she had seaweed tangled in her hair, but of course that was false, wasn't it? After all, the sea was a long walk from the city, down at the bottom of jagged cliffs.
As Merveil's behavior grew increasingly alarming and strange, her obsession with the necklace grew. She never removed it, and took to clutching the gemstone tightly in her hand, polishing it and staring evilly at anyone casting a glance her way. Whatever had corrupted her mind began to take hold of her body as well, for the once graceful girl now shuffled about like an aged crone. She abandoned the tasteful wardrobe that had once brought her so much attention, choosing instead to dress in stinking, tattered rags. People began to whisper that her body appeared to be changing beneath the garments, becoming lumpy, with odd bulges at her back and shoulders. Merveil took to hiding her face from view beneath a grimy cowl, but a few who saw her in good light said that her visage had changed as well. It was all stretched with blotched skin, her lips pulled back in an agonizing grimace, her exposed teeth long and sharp. Through all of this, Daresso remained a dedicated stalwart beside his wife, and few could fault him. Merveil now carried his child within her.
Yet the bonds of marriage were soon not strong enough. On a moonless night, with his wife fitfully asleep, Daresso gathered a few light possessions, slipped out into the night, and sailed off from Wraeclast on the midnight tide. Finding him gone in the morning, the last of Merveil's waning sanity appeared to slip away. She ran the entire distance to the cliffs barefoot, bloodying her feet on the hard cobbles of the road. Then she climbed down the rocks like a thing possessed and stood on the sandy beach, clutching the necklace to her chest while she screamed at the top of her lungs. Efforts to bring the girl back to the city were futile. She would attack anyone who got close.
For many days, Merveil remained at the water's edge, filthy and forlorn. She sustained herself on fish she pulled from the waters, devouring them alive, bones and all. She huddled in a nearby cave during the day, and spent the cold night hours standing knee-deep in the waves, singing out to the ocean for her lost husband. Her countenance grew haggard and shriveled, but her belly continued to grow, and when the child was finally born it was a freakish nightmare of scales, slime and tentacles. It was also female. With the birth of her spawn, Merveil retreated deep into the labyrinth of tidal tunnels beneath Wraeclast's cliff walls, where she grew ever more twisted and corrupt. Still the Star remained about her throat, pulsing with some dark energy.
It seems that in the years since these tragic events, the fair lady has been busy producing more children, though by what mechanism none can say. Her daughters, now of untold number, haunt the island's shoreline. With lilting sweet voices, they call out at night to passing sailors, bidding their father to return to them. Their mother dwells deep in the bowels of the mountain, now fully possessed by the jewel around her neck, imbued by it with powerful, deadly magics. It is unlikely she will welcome anyone who blunders into her lair.