It took us an eternity to walk up that tunnel. Gaius had closed it behind us, to ensure that the flooding waters wouldn't overtake us while we made our way up to the surface. We all tried to speak to Nox, but he was still too confused to keep a logical conversation. He had been driven mad for many years, and it would take him some time before he became his old self again.
The journey through that dark, dank tunnel proved to be more challenging than we had expected. The whole citizenry of Aurea—some two thousand survivors—had been crammed into one tunnel, and many had never been used to such physical effort. Some of them wanted to make frequent stops, many others wondered whether it was wise to leave their old homes behind. But, as we explained over and over, there wasn't a city to return to: it had all been destroyed and flooded. The Kingdom of Aurea was nothing more than some tattered ruins sitting at the bottom of the sea.
It was during these long hours that Luna and Sol revealed everything to us. From the very moment when Nox and mother had been condemned by Azuros, they had sworn they would get their revenge. It was a God that they were going to face, though, so they knew they would need a lot of time and very careful planning. Father could not be trusted; he was too afraid of Azuros, too humiliated by him, to ever consider standing up to him, so the two of them would have to play the part of the good and obedient children if they were going to get into a position where they could overthrow their tyrant God. But then, when we were old enough, Gaius and I had come charging in, threatening to lay waste to all their carefully crafted plans.
During the past few months, they had been trying to get us out of all the trouble we kept getting ourselves in. It was them who had insisted that Father give me his Siren's gift; them who had masked the death of the Siren Gaius and I had killed; them who had been the secret informants to Gaius's army. On the day Alba, Gaius and I had faced the Sirens on the city, it had been Luna who had conjured the trees and bushes that had cushioned my fall and saved my life. It had been on Sol's orders that the gladiators from the Colosseum had sided with the citizens rather than the royal family.
'Did you think I was just going to let Azuros kill the Aureans?' Sol scoffed. I blushed; I genuinely had thought he would.
Most embarrassing of all, I discovered that, on the night that I had sneaked into Sol's house to steal the keys to Milo's prison, he had awoken and seen me there, and then decided, in a split second, to act as if he had been sleepwalking. What a spy I'd make! A lot of pieces were clicking together now—many of which I had struggled against because of my hostility towards my two older siblings.
'It's endearing that you genuinely thought we had bought Cornelia's excuses when she was transporting all our weapons to the city,' Luna laughed aloud.
'And Anthea was not joking when she said her loyalties lay with us,' Sol added, amused by the shade of red my face was turning into. 'We were the ones telling her all the secrets and rumours that she then fed to you.'
'Okay, okay, no need to humiliate me anymore!' I said, covering my face with my hands. 'I didn't know I was doing such a terrible job...'
'It wasn't terrible,' Sol said, caressing my hair. 'You did what neither of us could do. We couldn't do anything that would make us suspicious, but you? Everyone expected everything you did to be suspicious!'
'Enough already!' I said, but I laughed along with them. A lifetime of worries and cares seemed to have disappeared along with the sunken kingdom of Aurea.
After what felt like a good few hours' march, we reached the point where Gaius's tunnel was unfinished. He immediately started work on it, along with Sol, Luna, Stella and Alba. All of the Aureans were only too happy to help, using their shovels and hoes to broaden the way.
I don't know how long we spent digging. We were all exhausted, and many of us were starting to wonder whether the tales were true and the surface was an inhospitable place. Some of the Aureans even questioned whether there was even a surface to go to—as far as they knew, the whole world could be nothing but water.
It took us what felt like several lifetimes, but then, at last, we saw it.
The light of the real sun.
We were blinded by light. Sol's imitation of the sun was nowhere near as bright as the real thing, even though it was already almost dusk. We struggled for some time to adapt our eyes to this new world, and then we started to make out the shapes around us.
The tunnel had led us into a hilly area. It wasn't the kind of clearly delimited artificial mounts that our ancestors had magically willed into existence two centuries ago, but proper rolling hills that went up and down whimsically regardless of anyone's desires. They were covered in flowers, trees and bushes that blended in gracefully with each other, unlike the patchy, motley sort of vegetation that Alba, and many of our ancestors before her, had conjured into existence. Even the air was cleaner and easier to breathe. But what shocked us the most was to see the sea extending below us, instead of surrounding us like a menacing bubble.
Many of us had read extensively about the surface, but we had never dreamed it would be like this, it would feel like this. It was everything I had ever wished for, and more.
Sore as my body was, I struggled to climb the tallest peak. My siblings followed me, wondering whether I had gone mad from exhaustion. From the top of the hill I saw many things: tiny, dwarfish towns next to us, where the dim glow of firelight was starting to multiply as the day grew old; colossal, threatening cities in the distance, surrounded by swarms of unspeakable creatures; little islands floating in the sky far, far above us. There were mountains and forests and sea as far as the eye could see. And there was horizon, so much horizon that, no matter how long you walked into any direction, you would never see the end of it.
The sight was of such beauty, I could not keep the tears in. Gaius hugged me from behind, looking ahead at the same point as me.
'This is what we've been fighting for. Was it worth it?'
'Yes,' I said, trying to keep my cool. 'Yes, it was.'
There we were, the seven royal siblings, looking at this brand new world. The people, patricians and plebeians alike, stood at the foot of the hill, waiting for us to say something, waiting for us to tell them what was going to come next.
Fighting the emotions that were overcoming me, holding Gaius's and Alba's hands in mine, I turned towards them, and spoke.
This is where the story ends. This is the story of SirenSong.
To all my readers who have been by my side all this time, I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am to you. The whole reason I write is so that I can share the worlds I create with you. Knowing that there are people out there reading this novel makes me happier than anything else <3
But is this really where the story of the Aurean siblings end? Well... there may be an announcement coming sometime soon...
In the meantime, all I want to tell you is...
Illustration by Hellyon White 2017
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Seven royal siblings. A court blessed by Sirens. A secret as dark as the depths where the underwater kingdom of Aurea dwells... Lux, an Aurean princess who has always dreamed of living on the surface, will find herself sinking lower and lower into t...