YA Fantasy Horror
She’s seductive; she’s nameless. She’s what’s left of the human girl who fell into a pond and drowned, only to become something more. A siren. Her game is luring humans into her Mother’s pond; her victory is their final breath. But after drifting through an existence stripped of knowledge and choice, something terrible grows inside her: sympathy. Mother sees this change and offers a new game: if she can guide a troupe of lost humans through the haunted forest and back to their world, her humanity will be restored.
The siren accepts this challenge. But when she finds the humans—a torn royal family and a band of rogues—she realizes the eerie woods won’t be the greatest obstacle. The humans fight the forest, one another, and her. It’d be easier to allow the clumsy oafs to chase butterflies into a chasm and be done with it. But one of the rogues is kind to her, gives her a name, and makes her feel as if she might already be living again. Her surprising affection for him is dangerous—her decision to pursue a human life unlocks the forest’s hunger.
The forest breathes, preys, and craves human death. She must overcome her home and her true nature, or her wards will lose their lives--and she will become mother’s siren again.
I kicked away from the tree in the center of the pond and, drifting beneath the blue lilies, I thought of death.
The water cradled my body, inches below a surface of rippled mirrors. I pressed my feet together and allowed my arms to trail in the still water. My gray robes—identical to those worn by my brothers and sisters who shared the pond—floated behind and around and above me. The scarlet strands of my hair, which should have fallen away and dissolved years ago, swept across my vision. My momentum ended; I came to a stop, settling on the silt floor of the pond. Just above me lay the man who had arrived three months before.
Tangled in the lily roots, his fingers remained frozen in a desperate, claw-like grasp. His skin was puffy. His clothes were starting to mold. Humans last a while once they’ve joined us, but he was nearing that ripe moment when our mother, Saictast, would emerge from the cavern beneath the pond and claim his corpse. We didn’t know what she did with the humans who succumbed to our call. Maybe she feasted on them, like the little fish that darted about in the shallow waters. Maybe she collected them and strung them up to decorate her cave. We’d never seen her home. We’d never know.
I reached up to brush my hand against the human’s face. It was a fine face, as far as humans go, but marred by a single crescent scar from his chin to his left ear.