Prologue - Soon it Will Be the Phase of the Moon
Stede had always been more curious than he ought to be. His mother always told him to stay away from the harbor. It was a far bigger risk than it was worth. She fretted constantly that he would be seen.
He never listened.
He loved going up as close to the surface as he could, face just below breaking. He would just rest there and watch the people doing their business along the harborline. It was fascinating to him, to watch the world above him. When the small boats would come sailing up, Stede would swim directly under the pier and come completely up out of the water to listen to the conversations and stories being told above him. He would swim up to the shoreline underneath when he could, sitting and listening.
There was something calming about sitting under the pier and listening to all the humans above him. Stede would lay on the cool wet sand for hours to pass the time before he would feel his mother calling him home. As he inched towards his teenage years, his mother allowed him more freedom to roam, as she was preparing to leave him on his own as siren tradition dictated. More often than not he spent this under the pier, much to his mother’s exasperation.
It was a small town, where the harbor was. Busy during the day, and the only people out at night were loud and drunk. Stede didn’t stay much past sundown. He would usually swim further down the bay to a half hidden cove. There, he would hide and watch the pirates who used the cove to offload their goods to traders who met them there in secret. If listening to the humans on the pier fascinated him, watching the pirates had him entranced.
Stede would sit for hours and take in everything about them. He wanted to be one of them one day, but that would require going on land. The very idea of that was unnerving to him. As curious as he was, going on land was still incredibly dangerous for sirens. Rare as they were, there were people out there who would not hesitate to have him hunted down for scraps.
So he stayed in the water, where he was safe.
He developed a routine for himself. Home, pier, home, back to the pier, the cove, home, repeat. It kept him occupied, a way to keep his constantly buzzing mind busy. Eventually, the day came where his mother was to leave him to make his own way. She kissed him on the forehead gently, told him to remember to eat, and left him to his own devices.
Stede, now 11 years old, kept to his routine, always reminding himself to eat like his mother told him to. He continued to spend his days under the pier and his nights watching pirates in the cove. It was easy like this for him. It was peaceful.
That changed just after his 12th birthday, when he watched Edward Teach strangle his father to death on the pier one night.