On the shores of the bay of Naples lived a Siren who forever sunbathed on her favourite rock. As she preened her feathers, her scales glinted in the sunlight and speckled the sea surface with flashes of gold. Her songs danced on the water and echoed from cave to cove; the lonely Siren sang in yearning for love.
The winds carried her songs as far away as Africa. Captains of fleets stuffed wool into their ears and tied their crews to ship’s masts so no sailor was tempted to steer off course into the bay, for many who had been lured there faced a horrible end.
Perilous was this place for Vesuvius was an angry volcano. He over overlooked the sea and land, spewing poisonous ash clouds and bubbling lava. The only creatures who thrived on the land were cave dwelling monsters and one-eyed giants. Enormous lemons and oranges which grew at the foot of the volcano did not interest the monsters, nor ripe tomatoes with their juicy perfume, for the beasts were hungry for flesh and bones.
A fierce tempest grew over the Mediterranean and engaged in a battle of force with Vesuvius. The siren hid deep in a crevasse of her rock, away from the howling winds. The skies blackened and no matter how much lava and ash the volcano threw the tempest’s rains were no match and extinguished the bombardment. The tempest threw bolts of lightning, collapsing caves and destroying lairs. The monsters and giants who didn’t perish fled the land and the poisonous gasses were blown far away upwards and outwards.
During the storm, a lone fishing boat was blown into the bay from Turkish waters. Murat the fisherman clung to the helm of his boat as it was tossed high on angry waves; its ripped sails but useless rags applauding the storm in pale flashes against the blackened sky. Murat could not choose his course for the forces of nature had decided his path.
His boat hit the Siren’s rock and he was flung into the foamy sea. His vessel smashed and its wooden shards sunk into the deep water. The Siren awoke and pulled Murat into the crevasse and out of harm’s way. Illuminated softly by the blaze of fury outside she gladly took him under her wing while the tempest died victorious. Murat was not lured to his death by the Siren’s sweet song; their union was a spin of fate and she was thankful for it.
Night ebbed away into a serene morning and when the Siren awoke, Murat was gone. Outside the air was clear and calm but there was no sign of him as far as the eye could see. She sat on her rock and sang a sorrowful lament. So consumed by grief she was, her heart broke and she slipped mournfully into the sea.
Alas, Murat returned. He carried giant figs and oranges which he’d gathered from the slopes of a defeated Vesuvius, but the Siren was no more.
In her place, lay a golden egg. In the egg was held the fate of Naples itself. Murat built a great castle and fort to protect the precious egg. He founded the Kingdom of Naples for it now was a safe place, free from monsters and poisonous ash.
Despite his great kingdom, King Murat awaited her return for the rest of his days, listening to winds in case they carried her sweet song. The siren was never to be seen again.
If you go to Naples today you will find the Egg Castle sitting proud on the Siren’s rock. You will see King Murat immortalised in stone on the façade of San Carlo Palace. If you listen carefully by the sea, you may even hear the siren’s songs echoing from afar.
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The Egg of Naples and the Siren are existing legends. Murat and the events here are written by myself.
For more stories, please check out Fairytales for Adults.