This is an account of what really happened out at sea when Lirre rescued Henri, the unfolding consequences thereof, and finally the true origin of his Captain's moniker:
Lirre first glimpsed the sinuous form winding towards him from the shadowy depths, when he had caught up to Henri some miles from shore. The other boy revived after they surfaced and began treading in weary disorientation, unprepared to make the swim back despite Lirre's urgent warning they were easy prey out on open water. He was just resorting to threats of leaving Henri there, when a cold grip encircled his ankles and dragged him under with just a splash, leaving Henri to yell and freak on the surface.
Descending a few dozen feet, Lirre beheld the wondrous, fearsome sight of a young Undine, casually drowning him for sport. His efforts to dislodge her grip and kick free failed, and his air leaked away - he could feel the peculiar seep of sea water into his lungs, and went into a kind of pre-death torpor. The Undine released him to drift, and swished upwards after Henri this time. Before she could reach the other boy, it was her turn to feel a grip wrapping around her tail fin, and her turn to be dragged back downwards. Astonished, she engaged in a curious battle with the young Minosian who would not drown as expected.
Eventually, she batted him off and slipped away. He was tempted to pursue, bewildered questions evident on his face, but instead he went up, surfacing a good dozen minutes after his initial disappearance. The matter of his mysterious survival with lungs full of sea water would need to be put aside, with a fearful Henri to reassure, and help swim for shore. They encountered Louis on the way, who was just then catching up. For a while as they swam back, he could feel the occasional slippery brush across his leg, or a quick tug, but then nothing, as the wary creature apparently lost interest or ranged too far out of her own territory. Whichever it was, it was made clear she had allowed them to escape.
Pleia of the Lam Undine Tribe was... bemused, then, when within a week Lirre was back, this time readily swimming down from the estimated same location as before. She stayed deeper, though, beyond sight and reach, watching. He was holding his breath, unaware it was his own ability and not hers, that had saved him from drowning. He eventually departed, leaving behind a peace offering: Glossy velvet ribbon weighted by a small net of boiled and coloured duck's eggs, tethered to a floating basket of orchard blossoms. A few days later, he came back to refill the net and basket. And then a few days after that, and so on. Sometimes he would see a flicker of tail through the dim undersea, perhaps her way of keeping him from becoming too discouraged to return.
Finally, a month later, he found a long braid of all the velvet ribbons she had kept, a glass buoy at one end. He took hold of the vase, and she drew him down, deeper, reaching the point of no return, then going beyond it. He voluntarily released his air then, and breathed in the sea water without distress, and they were... well, not exactly friends, but he was too amusing and harmless to kill - for now. It was the inevitable outcome, as she would openly warn, frequently - at first.
She showed him how to move more effectively and quickly underwater and how to ride currents. He brought curiosities (no snarfblatts) and tales from inland, and showed her the dances he was learning, adapting them for underwater so they could try together. After some time, she reluctantly admitted his water-breathing wasn't her doing, and then later told of Rebma, where people, kind of almost like him, had that natural ability. Someday, he said, he was going to have a ship of his own and seek out that realm. No he wouldn't, said she, since he'd be dead, because she was going to kill him. Despite this, he kept coming back. It became dangerous, as once she could not prevent a couple of sisters from accompanying her one time, and it was all she could do to convince them he was too small fry to even bother with yet. Whether or not they suspected her of something deviantly weird, they let him go.
Two years had passed in this manner, when he told her his almost-family was holding a huge gala on their new flagship. She saw the glittering lightshow off the Cameron harbour that night, and observed the sloops moving to and from the mainland. But she didn't see Lirre again, not for a long time. There was nothing she could find out just from eavesdropping on the sailor talk from passing ships. Their bottle buoy with its trailing ribbons was eventually abandoned to float the Minosian currents.
One day, she encountered a floating basket of salted cod, with not a ribbon but a fishing line, weighted by a bag of onions, and knew to be wary, in spite of her eagerness. When they met again, he was noticeably grown, and instead of the brash, eager lad, Lirre was a fierce young man seething with resentment and thoughts of revenge against the system and his former almost-family. It took a few tries, and a few fights, to renew their own unusual rapport, but in the end they were closer than before.
They hatched a plot in which he would have the ship to which he was indentured, separated from the company fleet during the next cargo move across open waters. A singular visual upon the mainsail would mark The Illumination as a target: The symbol of a wave rising as though to hook the sun from the sky. Pleia's raiding party took the ship after Lirre sabotaged the sails to gradually bring the Illumination to a dead stop. Men were drowned or killed in combat all around them while she laid claim to Lirre, protecting him from her more predatory sisters. The longboats had been dropped, oarless, and the survivors lingered in them long enough to be rescued, whereupon they spread wild stories about the terrible fate of the other half of the crew, Lirre included. The one clear point was that the company ship was gone. It had been set adrift, to become derelict and lost... or so it seemed. Repurposed and crewed, and set up to collaborate with more experienced ships while he learned the ropes of piracy, The Illumination was renamed The Eclipse by Lirre. Her flag bore the same symbol which had won him the ship: A tidal wave hooking a sun ray. Time and trial made an able ship's captain of him under the astute old Pirate, Captain Gently, a jaded career lawman turned outlaw in his retirement years. When eventually Lirre was discovered fraternizing with Pleia, the ships' crews pieced together the fanciful idea of his having survived an Undine raid by charming the snake-ladies, and taking The Illumination/Eclipse as his trophy reward. That boggling legend gave him both the awe of his crew and his persistent reputation as an irresistable rake, though in actuality Lirre was exceedingly respectful of women; partly due to his experience with criminal accusation and conviction, but also because of Pleia's strong pro-female influence. He even defered to her aesthetic sense when Captain Gently proposed to culminate the legend with a bonafide Captain's moniker. "Merrisol" had a decidedly feminine ring to it, but it also harkened to the symbolism in his flag: From the Sea to the Sun.