Chapter Eleven - A New Companion
"I will return with the visitors to see how the land has changed," Mithrilanna announced outside the guest quarters.
From his bed, Hugh blinked several times and yawned. Not the best way to be woken up - having someone yelling outside, but in Mithrilanna’s defense, everyone else was yelling as well. It didn't feel like morning, more like dawn. Dragons had an excellent sense of time.
"What's going on?" Hugh growled as he pushed back the privacy curtain in front of his bed.
"Ah, you're awake," Ramses said from the edge of his bed. He had dressed and attempted to brush his hair, but as usual, it stuck out in all directions. That was the reason Hugh kept his cut short - less hassle.
Ramses glanced at the only other bed with a curtain drawn. "Mederei's still sleeping."
Hugh sat up and went to check on Mederei. She was breathing normally, and appeared to be only resting. Thank the gods. He wouldn't have a way to help her if she stumbled back and couldn't return. The Gwion were many wondrous things, but helping a Gwion, especially a lost daughter, could only be done by the Gwion. It was tricky business wandering back to visit people.
When in places where the Gwion were not readily available, they had taken to taking turns to watch Mederei. It hadn't been something any of them said to do, just someone always did as such. Ramses appeared to have gotten some sleep, but not a lot. He must have woken in the middle of the night to watch over her. How the gods or the Uncreated One alerted them to her journeys no one could explain, only that they woke and she walked.
"How long has she been asleep?"
"Most of the night," Ramses answered with a slight yawn. "She didn't appear to wander anywhere last night, but I woke later so I don't know - she may have already been visiting."
Mederei had certain tells indicating when she traveled. The discovery of them had been Ceinwen's doing, though, and everyone in the family knew what to look for when Mederei was a child. Often she would wake up, not feeling especially rested, but looking better as though a great deal of stress had left her shoulders.
Ramses, however, looked worse than normal - even after spending most of the night awake. His normally ruddy complexion was paler than normal as though someone had bleached out redstones from the desert.
"How are you?"
"Exhausted, but I'll manage. She thinks there's something with the magic here."
Yes, now that he mentioned it, Mederei had said something about the magic on the island. Something to the effect of her best suggestion was to keep Ramses away from the island at all costs. Or, at least, that's the vague memory he had of their conversation before Mederei had gone to bed. The island's alcohol had been passed freely, and Hugh had no inhibitions to enjoying it.
"He's got magic sickness," Mederei mumbled. "First thing is to get him off the island so we can manage his magic," her voice had grown louder as she became more awake. Pushing aside her curtain, she sat up in her bed and blinked several times to clear her vision. "Well? Who was yelling at this ungodly hour?"
At that moment, the door opened and Mithrilanna entered, closing the door behind her. "I'm returning with you."
"Just like that?" Hugh retorted. "Not even a request made? Just demand that we allow you to come back?"
"I must go to the mainland."
Hugh having now stood, turned. "Oh, must you now?"
Ramses shifted to stand beside Hugh, but protecting Mederei.
Behind them, the curtain to Mederei's bed slid shut.
"Yes, I am. There are things on the mainland that I must see." Mithrilanna pointed to the outside. "I saw you fly in, and I know carrying my additional weight would be nothing for you."
Were all the fae this stubborn and arrogant? Surely they had to have something in their blood which made them believe they were the best in the world. Everyone must bow before their ever whim. Honestly. Not even the Gwion - and they were by far one of the most confidently arrogant families in the world - had nothing compared to fae audacity.
"He wants you to ask to come," Mederei announced, sliding her curtain to the side. She stood to Hugh's other side, though still slightly behind him and Ramses. "Do you know nothing of the demihabil. They, like all dragons, expect to be given requests, not demands. The fae are notorious for their arrogance, but even most of them acknowledge a fellow magical race."
Mithrilanna slumped against the door. "Please, let me return with you, I must be able to go to the mainland."
"For what purpose?"
"I think there's something wrong with my home, and I hope the mainland has the means to explain the reason. My people have a story of a great line which connects us to the mainland. Maybe something has happened to the line?"
"The lines refer to many things in their tongue," Mederei informed him. She spoke in the private language of the Gwion. She spoke slower than she would have for Caradoc knowing that he didn't speak it as often.
Hugh reached behind him to take her arm. I know.
Lines did indeed many things to the fae from family connections, to sources of power. They had many words in their language for lines indicating which line they meant - a line with a set beginning, but no ending; a line with and ending and a beginning. One with an ending, but no beginning, parallel, perpendicular, and a dozen other words were all used.
He spoke the fae language, but this one's dialect was so far removed from the modern fae ... Which one did she use?
"The one that means connected lines without beginnings," Mederei answered. "Life."
Life? What does that have to do with anything here?
Mithrilanna pushed herself away from the door. Her large eyes filled with tears. "Please, I'm asking you to take me back to the mainland."
Hugh released Mederei's arm. "Does your tribe allow you to travel?"
"Then we cannot allow ..."
"Hugh," Mederei said in that odd inflection she had when she wheedled. "It might be worthwhile for her to return. Luna can help."
Luna - of course.
There was still the matter of the tribe, though. Tribes meant everything to the fae, and to go against them was paramount to being kicked out from one's home. Conservative tribes especially still applied to this way of community.
Mithrilanna brushed aside the tears and took a deep breath. "If the tribe allows it, will you take me?"
Opening the door, Mithrilanna strode out into the main area. "I request to be allowed to go to the mainland with the wizards. The demihabil has agreed to take me."
Mederei snorted. "She should join the Gwion - she'd be perfect."
There were ways for non-Gwion to become Gwion. Hugh glanced beside him to Mederei who had now moved to his left side. "What about your uncle's son? The one who's Arlan's age."
Mederei considered the option. "Oh, he'd be perfect; I'll tell Ceinwen - she's a better matchmaker."
"Why have you agreed to this, demihabil?" Eunibai, the chief demanded.
"We agreed to it because she might be able to find something out about what is happening to your island," Mederei intervened. "None of us are able to read your lines."
"Yet, you went into our secret tunnels to read those."
Mederei held up her hands. "We can read your images, not the stories you have hidden in plain sight."
Eunibai turned his gaze to her. Like all fae, his face was ageless. The fae aged slower than the dragons did, though, despite popular belief, they were not immortal. "Your people have always used their words to harm."
"And to heal," Mederei reminded him.
Well, at least one individual had put the hair and magic together. Most likely, from the confused glances around the group, no one else had gathered Mederei's Gwion heritage. Was that because their contact with the outside world was limited or was that because no one had learned of the Gwion, and passed down the information?
Just how did Eunibai know?
It didn't matter, it would seem, however as Eunibai nodded his head once. "Very well, but I will only grant you twenty-four hours, that is all I can grant you."
Mithrilanna bowed to her chief. "When can we depart?"
"Now," Hugh answered. "We're all ready."