Long ago on a small island in the Caribbean a young girl named Freya went on a sailing trip with her friends. The sea was calm at first, but as they got further out to sea the rougher the waves got and soon there was a horrible storm. The girls were terrified! The storm blew them to a mysterious island, the likes of which they had never seen before! It was absolutely beautiful! It was a fairly mountainous place, with dozens of waterfalls.
“Are we on Dominica?” Freya asked nervously.
“Nope,” replied one of her friends named Leila who had been to Dominica before.
“We’ll be fine!” Jane assured her friends.
Freya wasn’t so sure about that. The girls decided to explore the island. Further inland they found a waterfall with a large plunge pool. Close by the plunge pool they found a cave.
“Let’s sleep here!” Leila suggested. Again Freya wasn’t so sure that that was such a good idea.
“What if there are bats?” Jane moaned. Typical Jane, Freya thought, always moaning but this time Freya sort of agreed… Well maybe not the whole ‘what if there are bats?’ part but Freya wasn’t sure she wanted to go into the cave far less sleep in it! There was just something she didn’t like about it.
“She has a point!” said Freya finally.
“Fine! But where do you suppose we are going to sleep?” Leila asked with crossed arms.
“I don’t know!”replied Jane, “but just not there,” she said pointing at the cave.
“I know! Why don’t we go for a swim in the plunge pool,” Freya suggested eager to change the subject. Jane and Leila both agreed that this was a good idea, so the three girls jumped into the pool. It was fresh water so the girls opened their eyes. Freya saw something strange; it was in the deeper end of the pool so she signalled to the others to surface.
“What’s wrong?” asked Leila.
“I saw something,” Freya muttered lost in thoughts.
“What?” Jane prodded.
No answer from Freya.
“Let me try,” Leila told Jane. “Can you at least show us what you saw?” Leila asked Freya.
Still no answer from Freya. Leila sighed. Suddenly Freya dove under the water, the others quickly followed her. When they caught up with her they too saw the mysterious creature. This time it saw the three girls. Leila signalled to Jane and Freya to re-surface.
“What is that?”
“Whatever it is it was weird!”
Suddenly the strange creature surfaced. The girls were amazed. It looked like an octopus but it transformed into a little girl with pale skin and white-blonde hair.
“I’m not an it or a that I’m a sea lord and I am certainly not weird!”
“You talk?” Jane asked astonished.
“Yes of course I talk!” replied the sea lord. “My name is Mako. You must help us to escape this pool. You see that cave on the shore has in evil powers soon they will grow so strong that the whole island will explode! And you mortals can help us to escape to the ocean. Now Freya realized why she didn’t like the cave.
“How can we help you and how long do we have?” asked Freya.
“To the summer solstice, that is when the cave will be its strongest.”
“But that’s ……”
“Tomorrow, yes and you can help by getting the rock that is purple, not far into the woods.
“But that’s not very far from here in the pool. “
“Yes but if sea lords get out of the water they die and turn to dust.”
“Well….” Freya said hesitantly. She looked back at her friends, they both nodded as if to say Mako was to be trusted.
“Ok then,” Freya said. “But we have to hurry, time is running out.” Jane, Leila and Mako all cheered. Freya and her friends got out of the water and headed towards the woods. The three girls went separate ways as to find the purple rock faster. It was Leila that found the rock; she was admiring the magnificent stone when a ghostly being started to stroke her hair. The fingers were that of an old man, long and bony.
“Come with us and you may keep the rock,” said the strange man in a hoarse voice. Leila was terrified, but she stood her ground. “Don’t you love it on this island?”
“No,” she said firmly. “I want to go home.” She burst into tears, her friends heard her and came running, the ghostly man vanished into the trees. The girls congratulated Leila and they hurried back to the pool.
Leila asked Mako about the ghostly man that she saw in the woods.
“This is bad, very bad,” Mako said worriedly. “You see the man that you saw was a Cumba. The most evil of all spirits. They live in the cave by the water’s edge. The reason that he wanted the purple stone was so that we could not escape. Anyways now, Leila, please place the purple rock against that wall over there then when a hole appears you must swim through it until you reach the ocean, do you understand?”All the girls nodded. Leila submerged and placed the rock against the wall as she was told to. Suddenly a large opening appeared in the wall, all of the sea lords and all of the girls swam to freedom.
“Thank you so much for helping us!” Mako said. “if you want anything, you can have it!”
“Well,” said Jane, “I have been wanting this really nice pair of earrings for a while ooh and also this really nice pair of shoes and….”
“Stop that Jane!” said Freya in an annoyed tone. “Mako, what we would really like is to go back to our homes in Guadeloupe.”
“Is that all?”
“Very well, sea lords, let us return them to Guadeloupe.”
So the sea lords swam with them on their backs and they returned home and everyone was happy.
•••Editor’s Note: “The Legend of the Sea Lords” is from the archives of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize, an annual Challenge designed to nurture and showcase literary talent in Antigua and Barbuda. Vega Armstrong was 10 when she submitted “The Legend of the Sea Lords” in 2012. She has been a regular in the finals in her age category in the two Challenge cycles since with “Hide and Seek” in 2013 and “Forbidden”, which won her the category, in 2014. “The Legend of the Sea Lords” is a reader favourite and was previously published in Anansesem, an ezine focussed on Caribbean children’s literature, likely because of the imaginative nature of the story and assured, especially for one so young, storytelling. – JCH