It was the time, when the northern Strait of Curonian Spit barely reached the Dangės mouth, from behind of which opened the vastness of Baltic Sea. It was the land, where brave warriors of the Curonian Spit sailed the abounding Dange and the reputation of their long warships was known from Zambia to the seagull land of Scandinavia. Those were troubled times... The belts of war tightened around the Baltic lands which were coveted by the cross-bearers and their agents in the North.
Once, when the mouth of Dange was ruled by the foreigner knights of Livonian Order, one brave Curonian decided to show who are the real owners.
There were no famous ships left, they have been in cold bottom of Baltic sea for long now, but the brave Curonian never stopped believing the strength of his tribe. And so he sailed the river with the crunching, yet still faithfully serving grandfather-made boat.
He sailed through the burnt down castles of his tribesmen up in the high river valleys, he sailed downwards to the so-called crow nest - the militant Teutonic Order's castle. He did not fear the sharp as an adder crossbow arrows, nor the warning of his friend to not waste his young life. He just wanted one more time - free and proud - sail his ancestral waterways and show the foreigners, that Curonians can not be broken by fire, neither by swords, nor famine.
Dangė - calm and gentle, carried the Curonian's boat. The closer to the crow nest, the harsher the waves got, until in the distance - the high walls of the castle appeared. "What a mighty castle that is. But in what a quagmire it's settled.. Nobody would set a foot in here", - thought the Curonian. He just took a stronger grip of the tiller, ask for courage from Perkūnas, and from Bangpūčio - wind, and he moved quickly to the mouth of the river.
Stirred and bustled the castle's guards after seeing the unexpected guest, they called upon the archers, the spearmen, closed all the castle's gates and waited. Yet the Curonian kept sailing. Suddenly, a crossbow arrow whizzed over the Curonian's shoulder. A second one, the third one hit the starboard near the decorative Baltic ornaments in the oak planks. The arrows kept multiplying, but the Curonian kept coming.
Whirlpools appeared in the river, the water rippled, fish started jumping, grass-snakes swam out of verdure and the boat started spinning as an amber flywheel. From the waves appeared a beautiful girl with long hair resembling river plants and implored the young Curonian not to kill himself. Dangės maiden tried to convince to turn back the boat and save his life, but the brave Curonian was unpersuadable. He only clenched his scarred fists tighter, put his old sword near his feed and took up the paddles to try and escape the whirlpools. Sweat started pouring and his feed went numb, but the boat finally moved forward.
The mermaid swam besides him and now clouds of arrows rained down on the oak boat starboard, sails and mast. Dangės maiden gave a longing look to the relentless Curonian and went underwater. Only the grass-snakes circled on the surface as if trying to protect the Curonian's boat. However, a long arrow struck the bare chest and the Curonian fell into the dark Dangės water, right at the mouth before reaching his goal to sail into the sea. Only his solitary boat, full of arrows and spears, continued on westward.
Shortly after the castle guards started searching for the brave young man. Long did they dove into river and checked the bottom with long landing-nets. They needed the Curonian's body so they could hang him as a warning sign on the castle's tower. All efforts were for nothing. The Curonian was taken by Dangės mermaid. She held his young body and swam far into the weeping sea, where in the deep she released him. After her went the grass-snakes too, the ones guarding the Curonian's boat, only one of them returned and enwound himself on the wrist of the mermaid.
No one saw the Dangės mermaid for centuries. It is said, that when the river foods, she appears as a voluptuous maiden with a mermaid's tail. Her eyes gazing downward, she remembers the Curonian that she could not save... Around her lean hand enwound is the only surviving magical grass-snake.
Text's author Denisas Nikitenka
Klaipėda, 2015 m.