Eye of Blind, Dragon Soul (Book 3)
When Morgen’s tender rowed to the quay, the wind died and dusk drifted ashore with a low fog. He and Arful walked the stone path to Branwen’s door that swung wide at his second knock.
The smile on Branwen’s face sank at the sight of him. “Morgen, what happened to you?” She took his arm and stepped aside as Arful barreled into the home. “Oh, Morgen.”
Aedan hung over the dog’s black back as Arful walked in circles. Ena toddled across the floor on legs that possessed a mind of their own. The dog bumped into her and she dropped to her bottom.
“Arful knocked over Ena,” Aedan said, releasing the dog and helping his sister up, who barely noticed she’d fallen.
“What happened?” Branwen asked, her dark eyes wide with concern. She drew him to the hearth and took his cloak.
“I’m fine,” Morgen said absently, watching Ena wobble toward him. He sat on the children’s bed. “She’s walking.” The child reached his knees and tried to climb him, her hands gripping his leggings, one foot pedaling the empty air. Morgen picked her up and sat her in his lap. Ena snuggled into him, sucking her thumb as he kissed the silky curls crowning her head. “When did she start walking?”
“Last week, a little longer.” Branwen sat beside him while Arful dragged Aedan over, the lad hanging from the swaying back. Aedan climbed on the bed, followed by the bounding dog, the two settling at Morgen’s other side.
“Your face is funny.” Aedan wrinkled his nose as he pointed out the obvious.
“I went on an adventure,” Morgen admitted.
“Not for little lads to hear,” Branwen said as she rose and pulled the child gently from the bed. “Fetch Arful a bowl of water.”
“I met a beautiful seamaid,” Morgen explained, stopping Aedan cold.
Branwen’s eyes rolled as Aedan scrambled back on the bed. “Morgen, will you stay for supper? We have plenty.”
“Nothing I’d rather do.” He nodded, returning her smile. She looked happy as if she held diamonds in her hands instead of a little chicken.
“She swam in the sea?” Aedan asked, intent on the adventure.
“It’s a rather long story,” Morgen teased, bouncing Ena.
“Not too long,” Aedan suggested, his small face serious.
“Well, it started long ago, long before you were born. You see, I think I always wanted to find a seamaid. I simply didn’t know it.”
“Why didn’t you?”
Tapping his chin, Morgen thought about it. “Because I’d never seen one, I suppose. But then one day, there she was, swimming around my ship.”
“Did you get a hook and fish for it?”
“No. I didn’t want to hurt her. I used my net.”
“Why did you have a net?”
Morgen laughed. “So I could catch a seamaid, of course.” Aedan seemed to have run out of questions, and Morgen continued. “But, you see, I wasn’t very good at it, I—”
“Why weren’t you good at it?”
“Because I’d never tried to catch a seamaid before, and I wondered how to go about it. I didn’t think I was a good enough fisherman.”
“Are you good now?”
“Aedan,” Branwen interrupted, “if you keep asking questions, Morgen won’t be able to finish the tale before bed.”
With a nod, Aedan leaned against Morgen, who wrapped an arm around the lad.
“So, for a long time, I just caught fish, no seamaid, and that didn’t make me happy.”
“Why didn’t they make you happy?”
“Well, some were too bony or mean-tempered and others had big fishy eyeballs. Things like that.”
“Or big lips,” Aedan added wearily.
“Probably a few had big lips,” Morgen said with a smile.
“Where did the seamaid go?”
“She’s still there, swimming around my ship.”
“Is she eating fish?”
Branwen grinned. “Don’t take breaths between sentences,” she advised Morgen as she sat by the hearth to tend supper.
Drawing a deep breath, Morgen winked at her. “So tonight, I threw my net over the side of my ship, and in no time, something big swam into it.”
“The seamaid,” Aedan whispered, scrunching his shoulders.
“I tugged and tugged, and the seamaid splashed and tried to get out of my net and swim away. She was a strong fish, but I kept a tight hold. I couldn’t let that seamaid go.”
“Was she green?”
“Green?” Morgen considered Branwen’s face. “Nay, she was a lovely fish. She had brown eyes and long hair and her scales sparkled.”
“Were her lips big?”
Branwen stifled a laugh.
“No,” Morgen admitted. “I think her lips were just right.”
“Did you catch her?”
“Well, it turned into a mighty struggle, and finally I hauled her up on my ship. But she was strong, flapping and flipping around the deck, so I couldn’t catch her, no matter how hard I tried. One time I thought I got my hands on her, but she danced away, and I tripped flat on my face.”
Aedan’s eyes grew wider. “Is that when your eyes got purple?”
“I’m afraid so. But I really wanted that seamaid.” He caught Branwen’s smile.
“Did she get away?”
“Well, she didn’t truly get away,” Morgen said with a sigh, “because you see, I never actually caught her.”
“She was wriggly and slippery.” Aedan sighed, mirroring Morgen.
“That she was.” Morgen smiled. “So we became friends, and then she told me a secret.”
His hands clasped in his lap, the lad peered intently at Morgen, waiting for the secret.
Morgen whispered, “She told me I would never catch her with a net. She told me I needed to learn the magic words.”
“Magic words?” Aedan asked.
“That’s what she told me.”
“What are they?”
“I’m not sure,” he admitted, “but I’ve been trying to find out, and she hasn’t swum away into the sea yet.”
“I wish you could learn them,” Aedan said with a heavy sigh. He seemed a little disappointed with the tale.
Branwen smirked. “Don’t you worry, Aedan. Morgen has an endless supply of magic words.”