The Fisherman, the Mermaid, and the Devil
One summer day a young fisherman cast out in a hidden cove. He had poor luck recently and he heard of this place from an old man he had shared some of his lunch with. The greatest prize a fisherman could ask for was in the cave the old man said. He had nothing to lose by heeding his advice so he went to the cove.
He had been fishing for an hour and so far his luck had remained the same. "Hello there," said a woman's voice from behind him. He turned to see the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, she had long honey colored hair, eyes greener than emeralds, and a bright smile that could outshine the sun. Her most outstanding feature however wasn't her hair, or eyes, or even her smile, it was her lack of legs; instead her body melded together from the waist down to form a great fin.
Not wanting to scare the beautiful creature off he introduced himself as politely as he could and soon they began to talk. They talked for hours and hours until the stars replaced the sun in the sky. The fisherman told her that he unfortunately had to go. She asked him to return the next day and he promised his new friend that he would be there.
That continued for weeks, which turned to months, until a year had passed. Slowly, but surely their friendship disappeared and was replaced by something more. After a year had past the fisherman worked up his courage to kiss the mermaid. She was surprised, but accepted the kiss with the same love the fisherman had. When they broke apart however she broke into tears; when the fisherman asked her why she was crying she told him. "Mermaids cannot fall in love, our hearts lie buried and frozen on the cold bottom of the seal it cannot belong to one who walks under the warm sun.
When he begged her to reconsider and told her he loved her, but she told him that even though her love matched his own in intensity and depth she couldn't be in love with him. She was immortal and would live until the stars turned cold while he was mortal doom to live the life of a flickering candle.
He left that night with his heart broken; as he was walking home he met the old man again. Dressed in all black the fisherman could see the true form of the fiend hidden in the guise of the old man. Even though he was warned since he was small to never make a deal with the fiend; his broken heart made him make a bargain.
"I will give you this vial of potion that will allow you to live forever and all it will cost you is a drop or two of pain." He said taking a green vial from the trappings of his robe.
To live with his beautiful mermaid forever was worth any pain so he accepted the deal without a second thought. He drank the vial in one quick gulp and the moment the last drop fell to his lips the devil's pain became his own. The pain was so intense it felt as if his heart was roasted on a spit. He took the pain without complaint though and spent a restless night in pain. That morning he stood out on the shore of the cove and the mermaid rose up to meet him. This day however her eyes were red from a long night of crying. "Why," she called out to him, "why must you come to torture me with a life we could never live?" She sobbed.
"I come so I could live with you until the stars cool," he said embracing her in the water. She listened to his heart to make sure his words were not lies.
"How can this be," she wondered aloud, "just yesterday your heartbeat sounded like any other man's." He told her of the deal he made so they could be together forever. She was both touched and horrified by what he had given you for her. She would go on to ask him if it hurt much and he would tell her as he winced, yes, but she was worth it.
For a hundred years they lived together in happiness and the man never aged a day. But the mermaid's heart broke bit by bit every night when asleep the fisherman couldn't hold back his cries and she would lay awake to hear them so she could understand what he suffered for her.
One day the mermaid called the fiend to make a deal of her own. She begged him to ease her love's pain, but the fiend refused a deal was a deal. "Please," she would beg offering all she had until the fiend found something he would take.
"To spare the man you love; would you truly give anything?" he spoke in the smoky voice of a salesman that could sell the fish the ocean it swam in all its life. "Would you give your greatest treasure to ease his slight pain?"
The mermaid met the fiend's gaze without flinching though, "he is my most precious treasure; take whatever trinket or bauble and leave us to our lives."
"Very well," the fiend said, "I will allow your love to live forever without pain for your heart that lies on the bottom of the sea." The deal was stuck between the two and they found the fisherman to finish the bargain.
"What have you done?" the fisherman asked her in distress.
"I did it for us," she would say. "Did you expect me to let you live in pain because of me. I gave him my frozen heart so you could live without the pain that haunts your dreams."
The fiend pulled out a glassy red heart, "I have my prize so now it's time for me to hold up my end of the bargain," with a snap of his fingers the fisherman turned the fisherman to a marble statue. "A deal is a deal," he said, "he will live forever without a drop of pain just like you asked." When he saw her tears he brushed it off. "Don't cry those false tears; I know you cannot feel anything; I have your heart."
"My heart," she whispered, "you have a bauble that I haven't seen since I was born. This," she clutched her chest, "is my heart; it's what he gave me. I gave him everything except that rock; body and soul. It turns out he had enough heart for the two of us.
The fiend's heart melted when he saw the mermaid's love without the heart the almighty gave her at birth. He took pity on the two of them and at the snap of his fingers he bound the two of them in marble for eternity. "You two deserve eternity together," he told them and gave them their peace.