Chapter Forty-One

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A veiled orange glow hung over Myrddin's chamber. Hazy fingers of flame moved over the hearth casting dancing shadows across the wall. Riona's feet barely brushed the floor from where she sat on the edge of the bed. Luc lay beside her in sleep, his chest rising and falling. Riona glanced up as Myrddin bustled in; a wooden platter full of bread, cheese, and sweetmeats was balanced delicately in their left hand. 

The Druid hummed quietly as they set down the tray. "Come eat, çild."

"Myrddin?" Riona asked softly.

"Hmm?"

"What does that mean?"

Myrddin brushed his hands together absently. "Çild?"

"Yes."

Myrddin pulled out a chair at the table and motioned for her to join. Riona stood quickly and sat on the wooden stool, helping herself to a small portion of bread.

"It means 'my child' among Druids." Myrddin's blind gaze looked past her, eyes glinting beneath their thick grey brows. "You know, Riona," they said, pouring her a mug of wine from a clay jug, "you and I are blood."

Riona felt a small bud of warm surprise open in her chest. "What?" she squeaked.

Myrddin smiled gently. "Emrys, your parent, was my sibling."

Riona's eyes widened dramatically. "I thought Druids did not keep familial ties?"

Myrddin nodded. "Not usually," they shifted their weight on the chair, "However, Emrys and I were a special case as womb-kin."

Riona's brow furrowed. "Womb-kin?"

Myrddin swallowed a bite of bread. "Twins."

This information sent Riona into a stiff moment of shock. It was as if she were looking at Myrddin for the first time. Suddenly each wrinkle, every freckle was imbued with importance. This was the closest she would ever come to seeing Emrys, the face of her mysterious parent. With this realization, she almost forgot to breathe.

"I am sure you have many questions," prodded Myrddin gently.

Riona took in a trembling gasp as she blinked back warm tears. "I..I don't know where to begin." Riona tried to take a drink of wine but her hand shook.

Myrddin folded their hands together in their lap. "How much has Aidan told you?"

"Practically nothing," Riona said sharply.

"That does not surprise me," Myrddin responded. The Druid chewed on their lower lip for a moment, gaze suddenly distant. "Well I suppose any explanation should begin before...when we were still young," they murmured to themself for a moment, "but you willn't want to listen to the ramblings of a forgetful elder—"

"But I do!" Riona objected.

Myrddin tried their best not to smile too broadly. "What if instead," they paused, "I could show you?"

The fire in the hearth had died down to glowing embers, giving off a thick smoke that clogged Riona's nose and tainted her mouth with an ashy taste. Beside her, Myrddin had begun to hum, the sound reverberating in their chest like a drum. One veined hand reached out for her own; the touch tied them together tenuously. As the Druid continued to mumble, Riona felt her body grow clogged with weight as if her veins had suddenly been filled with sand. She was unsure if she had fallen asleep for she was both alert and muddled. Vague shapes and bursts of light danced before her eyes, sound slipping between blurred images as if she were underwater. With a sudden rush, these hapless pieces formed a whole and enveloped her in a single vision.

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