And the day came when at last she took to the sea.
She stood in the prow, spray in her face, hair streaming out behind her, a proud warrior filled with purpose and strength. Behind her, the fortress lay wasted, men lying on the sand, calling and crying for her to come back, to turn, to acknowledge them in some way.
“We did this for you!” they cried. “We are broken here because of you!”
But she would not turn. She faced the wild unknown, the open ocean, dreams ahead of her and nightmares behind.
She would not go back to that land, where she was expected to stay in her tower, to stay pure and perfect and never age, never fail, never cease to do the things asked of her. She would find a new land.
She had heard stories ever since she was a child, stories of a land where a woman could be free. The stories were myth, untrue, only told under cover of darkness to women and children. Only told to the weak.
But the stories gave her strength. They brought a fierce light to her eyes and a new vigour to her muscles as she laid her plans.
They laughed long after she was gone. She was held up as an example. Her fate was that of one who heard fairy stories and believed them. She was a freak, a Jezebel, a betrayer.
Those she left behind never heard from her again. No one learned whether or not she found the mystical land of freedom, or whether she drowned alone at sea, her hair tangling in the seaweed and her body becoming food for carnivorous sea-beings.
But the young girls of the land she had left told new stories. They told stories of the woman who had single-handedly torn down her pedestal, her tower, her prison. How she left men bleeding and calling for her. How she revealed that there were deep cracks in the way they understood the world. In some stories, her ship was torn apart by storm and she was transformed into a mermaid, a symbol of the freedom that comes in death. In others, she survived, she found the new world, and she lives there still as an equal to all.