Tweet of the Day: Alexios & Elysia #3
East Shore of the Menai Strait, Principality of Wales, 17 January, 08:18 hrs GMT
We stood on the rocky shore. The wind blew bands of fog through the strait. I caught glimpses of the suspension bridge to the south. An empty guardian that towered over the narrow strait.
“This is crazy,” Owen said behind me. He shuffled his feet and rubbed his hands together to ward off the cold.
I pointed at him, “Concentrate and shut it!”
“Nobody is around. If there was I would…wait,” he drew a long curved knife. “Whoever it is, just come out.” A tall man with a wide brimmed hat, a leather coat that ran down to his knees and a gnarled wooden staff emerged from the fog. Stones crunched under his boots. “Oh great, we have a refugee from the bookstore’s fantasy aisle.”
The newcomer stroked his dark brown goatee, “Are you ready, Gwen,” he said with a northern accent.
“And an exile from oop North to boot!” said Owen.
Flames danced on my fingertips, “I said shut it!” Owen frowned and even as he showed his displeasure I could not help but notice his dimples. He started to smile.
I’ll burn you!
And the smile vanished with the rest of him. I boarded the kayak. Martin, the necromancer, hunched beside me.
“Everything is ready. Just keep paddling. Do not stop until you reach solid ground, no matter what you see or hear. And don’t challenge anything you see unless you really have too. Understood?” he said.
“Got it,” I said.
He pushed the kayak into the roiling waters of the strait. My muscles ached as I paddled against the current. The fog grew thicker by the moment until I couldn’t see the keel. The fog parted. A brilliant morning sun among an endless backdrop of blue sky. Not a cloud in sight. Forms swam just under the surface. Naked forms of men and women, translucent like jellyfish crossed underneath the keel. The bared long rows of shark like teeth, curved and pointed. I tried not to hit them with my paddle.
Before me stretched a long grass covered shore. In the middle a small seaside village with dock full of small fishing boats. I reached the stone pier and got out of the kayak. People worked at the pier.
Are they people?
Their manner of clothing was ripped from a medieval manuscript, copies of which I carried in my backpack. The taller ones sported fine features among them long straight hair and pointed ears. Shorter, stockier fellows had powerful arms and legs, either with long braided beards or shorter trimmed ones. Despite the difference in appearance none even looked at me. The spoke in a jumble of languages. I caught snatches of Latin, Old Gaelic, and Old English. A tiny figure stopped in front of me, all yellow teeth and green skin. It pointed at me and then walked off toward the town. I followed through the maze of narrow streets until we crossed the place and came upon a wide meadow. There a woman sat knitting, underneath an apple tree. Beside her laid a man on a large slab of granite. He a sword between his hands not unlike a relief of a knight in a cathedral tomb floor.
“Uncle is dead, I’m afraid,” said the woman. “And that, “she pointed at the sword with a long slender arm, “is not what you seek.”
“But that is Caliburn, right?” I said, surprised that she spoke a language I could understand.
“Was. It has no power. It lost it when the Winter Queen cut her ties to the mortal realm. Still sharp, if you need to cut a piece of meat. But you need more than that, so much more,” she said.
“Wait, at the risk of sounding rude,” and with Martin’s advice still fresh in my mind, “who are you and how do you know what I need?”
She moved around the granite slap to the base of the tree. There she pointed to a small pool. Images appeared amidst the ripples. Cities burned, men and women died, scene upon scene of violence and devastation.
“I am Morgana, grandchild of the one you knew as Morgan le Fay, which is odd considering she never really consorted with the sidhe. But time bends all truths to the will of the tellers. And this is my uncle, or should I say great uncle. But you knew that already.” The little green fellow came with a longsword wrapped in an elegant leather scabbard. “And this is what you need.”
“That is it?”
“If only. You need to learn how to use it first.”
“But I have no time,” I said.
She glanced at the body of her uncle, “In here you will just have enough.”