Previous Post: The Revelation
"You surprised even me, Alain," Raphael remarked as his Bondmate glided over the sea on the sentry's Flying Carpet Mode, "by revealing both the White Hand and yourself at that time and place--although I had calculated the probability was high. I understand the Ne'fi psyche that well, and yours in particular."
Alain chuckled. "My friend, you know I try to let my works speak for me and let others praise me, but you also know I don't rely on the credibility of others to establish my own. Besides, my heart would break if I couldn't get involved somehow."
If a sentry could laugh to keep from crying in return, Raphael Goldwing would. "Your heart will break more if the merpeople force you to fight them," he replied.
"They won't, Raphael, depend on it. We'll back off first. There's more than one way to do this. "
Anticipating some opposition, both Alain and Raphael stopped over where the HMS Wave Hopper had sunk. Moments laters, they were surrounded by armed merfolk who used their first line of defense--their singing--to try to subdue their potential enemy.
Aaaiiiaaa ... aaaiiiaaa ... The vowels of Astria's name formed an overtone chant as the ground of the merpeople's harmony. Their song worked some of the strongest magic on Tiaera, due to its intimacy with Astria's nature.
Ieaouoaei ... ieaouoaei ... The lightchild sang back to the merfolk the Oldest Name of the Hooded Man, the Chant of Vowels representing his eternal power to create.
A magnificent merman with silver hair and beard raised his trident, stopping his people's chanting. "Who are you," he demanded, "and how can you evade the power of our goddess so?"
"I'm not evading it," the lightchild replied diplomatically and honestly. "I'm showing you I'm in harmony with it. I'm Alain Harper the Undying Singer, and a friend of Astria."
"I know this name well. Tales of thy courage and powers have been shared and sung for years. I am King Ayred of the Crescent Cove Sirens. I am also the War Lord of the Crescent Cove Sea Knights. So, if you are he, then you are welcome, unless you come to finish what the sea demons started last night." He pointed to the beach where a great number of wounded sea knights were being tended to. "May the goddess strike me down if I swear falsely: we did not attack the passenger ship last night."
Alain nodded. "I rather thought not. Do you know who did?"
"These sea demons arose from whence we knew not," the merman replied. "We attacked them during their assault and many of our own perished in doing so. We know the land dwellers are angry for they believe we are responsible. We can perceive many magic-wielders on the shore behind you, along with many armed villagers. 'Tis why we guard our shores thus."
"I believe you, King Ayred, and that's what matters now," Alain said firmly. "First, I will help your people by healing those I can, but then I can help you by exploring these waters. May Raphael my sentry"--Alain tapped the pane on which he stood with his right foot--"do this? If we can salvage any wreckage, and find any bodies not yet found, to bring to land as evidence, we may yet solve this riddle."
King Ayred nodded. "Come then, and do what you must." The merpeople, one and all, looked anxious as they escorted Alain and his sentry to the island.
Back at Crescent Cove Beach, Carlyn watched with a spy glass and described what he saw to the others close by. "He is going with them to their island ... willingly."
"What?!" yelled Kryil. The elven monk headed down to the water when he was suddenly knocked down. "Get off, Tav! We need not wait any longer. I am tired of this!"
"Easy, brother." Tavisan jumped off from the back of the elf. "We must trust Master Alain knows what he is doing. I know you want revenge for the attack on the ship, as do we all."
"Do not make me bind you in roots, my hot-headed friend," added Carlyn. "Come. What we all need right now is a good drink and some shade. Methinks my face is burning from so much sun." The gnome looked genuinely concerned as he fanned himself with his kerchief.
"A good idea," added Bandhir. "We do not all need to be here. I shall stay with the spy glass and keep watch."
"Aye, we shan't be far. The Sandy Anchor Inn is still open and I cannot sing with a dry throat," said Wandlin. He chuckled and gestured for everyone to join him. The villagers agreed and followed him.
Inside the large community hall at the center of the village, Audrey sat up from her pallet. She rubbed her eyes and looked around. She wanted to go back to sleep for casting healing spells still left her feeling tired. She chided herself for not practicing the healing arts more often. If she was like her brother, Carlyn, she would not feel so weak, but Carlyn got plenty of practice casting spells during his adventures with Tavisan. He was used to casting and healing so the effects of fatigue did not bother him so. Audrey sighed and began to talk softly to herself. "I am such a cowawd and my odah is most stwict about leaving the convent."
"Audrey?" asked Karyn.
"Time to see about burying the dead, sister. Are you strong enough to attend the ceremony? If you cannot…"
"Nay," Audrey got up slowly from the pallet and teetered a little. She grabbed hold of Karyn's arm and grinned. "I wish to be theo, sisteo. Let us go."
The druidesses all gathered outside with the villagers to follow the horse-drawn wagons carrying the bodies that could not be resurrected to their final resting place not far from the village. There were six bodies, but that number could change if more are recovered from the sea. And so the druidesses remained and joined some of the mourners in the village. The day continued with drinking, weeping and remembrances, even as some waited for word from the one called the Undying Singer.
(To be Cont'd)
(To be Cont'd)