Chapter Sixteen

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When we arrived at the meeting place with Eir, who stuck as closely to my side as Thom and Aengus, everyone's eyes were wide with surprise. Maybe it was the way she held herself or the fact that she was insanely pretty—especially since I had healed her and her bruises were gone. But, mostly, I think people were staring at her wings.

"Who is this?" Arthur finally asked for everyone, studying her curiously and a bit warily.

"This is Eir. We saved her from execution," I explained. "She's my second warrior."

Arthur's face shone with understanding and he nodded.

"Eir, the Valkyrie, correct?"

"Indeed."

"It's a pleasure to meet you," Arthur said, extending a hand which Eir took. "I hear you're one of the fiercest warriors in battle. I look forward to fighting by your side."

"And I yours, King Arthur."

After she was introduced, we all headed off again. Eir climbed onto Aurea's back and rode with me. I wanted to talk to Eir, but I think she needed silence. She had almost been executed today. Still, I was curious about her.

Aengus was so happy-go-lucky, with a bright personality and an intense love for ale and a good fight. I understood him well. I even understood Merlin with his cool personality and his devil-may-care attitude. He loved smoothies and being right all the time.

But Eir was different than both of them. I mean, she was an actual goddess. In the past two days, I'd met Elves, Trolls and a Warrior or two, but a Valkyrie was on a completely different level.

"If you have questions, Lucinda, you should ask them," Eir spoke up, her throaty voice quiet.

Feeling kind of embarrassed, I wondered, "I'm not that obvious, am I?"

"I think it's the bond between us. For some reason I can feel your emotions."

My eyes widened and I snapped my head around to face her.

"You can feel my emotions?"

Her only answer was a single nod.

Looking over at Aengus, who was riding alongside us, peaceful after a good fight, I asked, "Can Aengus feel what I feel, too?"

"I doubt it," she answered smoothly. "He's a mortal, I'm a goddess. Things work differently for the two of us."

I considered Eir's words, reminded again of how different she was from Aengus. Her oval-shaped face was stern, serious. She wasn't expressionless like Merlin, but instead, she acted exactly like a goddess.

In all my days, I never imagined I'd meet an actual goddess.

This was getting weirder and weirder.

☪ ☪ ☪ ☪ ☪ ☪ ☪ ☪


It was late afternoon when we decided to stop for a bit. Who knew traveling could be so exhausting? Our travel was only made more exhausting by the fact that we had to be very careful where we went. Some of this land was directly tapped into Morgana's magic and if we stepped on said land, it would be like we set off an alarm, letting Morgana know exactly where we were. She'd teleport her men here before we could even blink.

Our hiding was even harder now because I'd saved Eir. Twice, as we'd travelled, Merlin had sensed Morgana's men and we'd had to take a roundabout route. They knew we were in the forest and they were searching for us with all their might.

Despite all that, though, I would've saved Eir again and again.

I passed around some fruit to our party and they all thanked me quietly, their eyes watching me closely. They had heard how my magic had melted the snow in the town square and now were now more in awe of me than ever.

It was strange. To have people in awe of me.

"I heard about what you did," Mordred said, taking a peach out of the sack I was passing around.

"I think everyone did," I said curtly, my lips pressed together in a thin line.

Mordred laughed at my expression, saying, "Both you and I are completely unable to escape our destinies, it would seem."

I smiled thinly. "So it would seem."

"If you want to know what I think, then here it is: just go wherever your destiny takes you. Don't fight and don't be afraid. Your future may be a burden, but you will do a lot of good, Lucinda. I can see it within you."

And then Mordred gave me a kind smile. In this moment, he looked so much like Arthur, I was in awe.

"You know, Mordred, you shouldn't worry about whether or not you'll be a good king like Arthur," I said, smiling a real smile this time. "You're so much like him already and yet different. In a good way. You'll be just as good a king as your father. Maybe even better."

Mordred just watched me for a long time, a glint of something that made me blush in his eyes. He finally smiled and took my hand in his, kissing the back of my hand softly. I could feel eyes on us and could hear Aengus chuckling.

"Thank you, m'lady. You're too kind."

Thrown off guard by the look in his eyes, the sudden kiss on my hand and all the eyes on me, I took a step back, stammering about how I needed to finish passing the fruit around.

Arthur and Thom both gave me knowing looks when I got to them, both of them wearing expressions of great amusement.

"After our return from the Isle of the Lost, I suppose my son will officially court you," Arthur said, proudly.

Thom laughed, albeit a bit uncomfortably, sneaking a glance at Merlin who's back was turned to us, his posture rigid.

"We can discuss who will court who after we save Nicole, you reclaim the throne and summer is returned to this land," said Thom, taking a bite out of the apple he'd taken out of the bag.

"Merlin," I called out softly, causing his stance to stiffen more than it already was. "Would you like some fruit?"

"No," he responded, his voice like ice.

I sighed and went back to sit with Aengus and Eir. Merlin was impossible to understand.

"He's not really that impossible to understand, m'lady," Eir spoke up, her voice quiet enough that only I could hear her. "His problem is clear, you're just too blind to see it."

Wide eyed, I stared at her.

"Well, if you could tell me that would be nice."

She wore a thin smile and looked up at the sky above us, wrapping her dark wings snugly around us when she sensed how cold I was.

"That's not my job," she answered softly. "You must figure that out for yourself, mistress."

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