In the tavern of the seaside village I was told the story of a local legend.
It goes as such.
On a cold winters night a poor fisherman sets out his boat to go night fishing. The wind was chilling and the storm clouds were slowly gathering, but he had no choice, for his family had no food.
As he rides out his boat, he looks about, and suddenly spots a flash of silver scales. In his haste and desperateness, he failed to notice that the moon was covered by clouds, and it should have been impossible for a fish's scales to be reflected.
He threw his net, and there came a great thrashing as the fish was netted. A long tail whipped about, and the waves churned dangerously. The fisherman was appalled by the strength of the fish, and realized his boat was on the verge of capsizing from the waves. So he threw his fishing spear and struck the fish dead on. The ocean slowly turned dark from the fish's blood.
The man quickly reeled in his catch, but to his horror, when he lifted his net out of the water, he saw a beautiful woman. She had pale skin and long white hair, but a silver fish's tail instead of legs, and her ears were long and shaped like fins. She was a spirit, a mermaid, and the fisherman's spear had struck her right in the stomach.
She asked him, in her dying breaths, why he had killed her. The fisherman was terrified, but he replied, to feed my starving family, so they may live another day.
And the mermaid laughed, but while it was the most beautiful laugh the fisherman had ever heard, it was so incredibly hateful and angry that the he got chills. And the mermaid said, then very well. May your cursed human offspring live another day! And another, and another, and another, until the end of time!
And saying so, the mermaid closed her eyes and died. When she died, she turned into a normal fish, with long fins and a body of silver scales.
The fisherman was terrified from the encounter. However, storm clouds had started to gather and as he had no other catch, he reeled in the fish and quickly rowed back to land. When he came home, he was still wearing an ashen face, but he saw his daughter sleeping fitfully, almost nothing but skin and bones, and steeled his heart.
The next morning, the fisherman put onto the table a plate of grilled fish. His daughter was overjoyed, and as they sat down for their first proper breakfast in days, she quickly wolfed down the meat. However, the fisherman remembered the hateful laughter of the mermaid from last night, and hesitated in eating the fish. Before he knew it, his daughter had finished everything.
He watched her, anxious, but seeing no ill effects, he let out a sigh of relief.
However, from then on, the daughter never aged another day. Months passed, years passed, but as the fisherman became old and grey, his daughter still looked like that day when she ate the flesh of the mermaid. She was young forever, and yet, she would never grow up.
Decades passed, and the father died. Yet the daughter lived on, for 10 years, 50 years, 100 years, and still looked the very same.
They say she still lives to this very day, walking under the mermaid's curse of eternal life. Waiting for the day when she can finally die.