“What were you thinking?” Genny nearly screamed, as we reached the safety of the fairy tree.
I couldn’t bring myself to look at her. I was so ashamed, not only of the situation I’d put us in but of the sacrifice that Genny had made on my behalf. My shell seemed to burn in my pocket.
“Take mine,” I offered. “I can’t… I just couldn’t stop. It was eating me and I’m so very sorry.”
Genny didn’t say anything but just glared at me with an intensity that seemed to channel the coming storm. “I’m not taking yours. That’s what I was avoiding, Vivian.”
“If we can find the treasure, then we can fix everything. Mr. Sarffer says it can change fate.” I ran my hand through my hair delirious with the possibilities. “Our grandfather, my brother, we could fix all of it.”
“Yes, of course. Mr Sarffer would tell the truth.” Genny’s sarcasm was heavy and scalding. “Even if that is true, even if all you have to do is touch it. How do you know that that’s what it’ll do? Do you even know how to use it?”
“He said I just have to touch it.”
“You are supposed to be the logical one here, Viv!” Genny threw her hands in the air and paced as she ranted. “We have no idea what is there. You just have this feeling that’s drawing you there. I can’t believe you threw everything away for scraps of information about something that just randomly captured your interest. I’m so angry with you right now. Do you know how I loved that shell? These summers? This is all I have. I’ll go back in a couple weeks and this? This is my breath of air before being submerged for months and I just gave away a lifeline for you. So don’t stand there offering me something that shall never be able to replace what I lost.” She began stomping towards the clear bay, before calling back, “This treasure had better be worth it!”
It was only when we had found trowels at Bay Cottage and were on our way back toward the posts, that the tension was somewhat alleviated.
“This is like a proper treasure hunt,” Genny said with grudging excitement.
I too, hummed with suppressed emotion. However, both of us stopped when we reached the posts. An unseen energy seemed to hang about the edge of the circle and we both were wary to test it. Hesitantly, we both shifted from foot to foot. All around us the trees snapped and the distant seagrass almost wrenched itself from its roots and launched into the sky.
“I swore I saw footprints in there yesterday,” I said to Genny without ever removing my eyes from the sand where the prints had showed yesterday.
Genny turned to me and then to the circle. “You went in yesterday?”
I only shook my head.
“Well, that’s creepy.” She took a breath and then looked around. I could only nod in agreement. I took a steadying breath, there was no way I wasn’t going in there. There was no way I would waste the precious sacrifice of Genny’s shell. I began to step forward but Genny laid a staying hand on my arm.
“Together,” Genny held out her hand. I smiled, and once my hand was securely in hers we stepped forward in tandem.
The effect was instantaneous. The howling wind was faint now and the loud calls of the gulls, distant. I almost stumbled with the sudden change but Genny’s hand steadied me.
“This is very very odd,” Genny said glancing around and taking it all in. I felt it too.
“I…” I couldn’t explain myself when I stepped back over the perimeter and was assaulted by the wind and noises of the sea. I shook my head and rejoined Genny. “I just had to,” I said by way of an explanation.
“If you hadn’t, I would have,” she shrugged and then gestured toward the mound in the middle of it all. “So that’s where whatever it might be is?”
I pursed my lips and then shrugged. “That would be my guess. Mr. Sarffer did say it was under the mound.”
“Well we better get to it then. The tide won’t wait for anyone.”
With the exception of during our punishment, I’d never seen Genny more motivated. For nearly a half hour we dug sand, piling it precariously next to our ever growing hole.
“There has to be something here,” Genny gritted through clenched teeth. Neither of us had thought to bring drinks or snacks and the light lunch was no longer staving off the growing hunger that made us both cantankerous.
The squelching about my trainers was not only making it difficult to stand in one spot too long but also adding to the ever increasing tension that both Genny and I felt at being out on the bay for any great length of time. I bit my lip and looked about, the ground was slowly saturating. Although the water had not yet begun to rise above the sand the tide was coming in. Our hole somehow wasn’t filling with the water that I would have expected though. Just another piece of uncertainty and strangeness within this bubble of odd.
“If we don’t find something in the next quarter of an hour, we have to call it,” I said wearily.
Genny leaned against her trowel and glared at me.
“I know,” I said wiping my hand over my eye. “But we can’t get caught out here.” My face was wet when I drew my hand away and I realised that I was shedding tears of frustration.
“It has to be here, Viv.” Genny said softly with a confidence that I always envied. “Something has to be here. There’s no other reason that there’s a mound of sand here. Now, stop crying and help me find this bloody thing. Because if I find it first I’ll just change what colour of hat I bought before my trip.”
She attacked the hole with another round of ferocity that made me smile and so we kept digging but it wasn’t until our time was nearly up that we heard a tell-tale ring of metal. Both of us dropped to the ground but there was only room for one of us in the hole. Genny sat back and watched as I pushed the sand away with my trowel. A glint of silver peeked through the sand.
“Quick, widen the hole.” We both sprang up and began quickly pushing the sand back until the sides were more gentle slopes than the sharp drops they’d been before. Using the trowels we began to uncover the edge of a large dome, about the size of a serving bowl. When most of it was revealed, I set down my shovel and peered at the etchings carved into its surface.
“There’s something written here.” Genny crossed to my side and we both squinted at the letters whilst I gently let the etchings run under my fingers. “It feels smooth. Like the words are in the bowl.” I followed the words of strange writing round the rim with my fingers.
“Odd,” Genny reached out and traced the same patterns. “I wonder how deep it’s buried.” She reached for her shovel then grunted in pain.
I looked up from the bowl, “What’s wrong?”
“My hand,” Genny looked at her fingers in horror. “Viv, I can’t move my hand! Get it off! Get it off!” She scrambled away from the bowl, her heels digging into the wet sand. The bowl wrenched from it’s position and slid along the saturated ground with her. My arm shot forward and I fell, face first into the thin layer of water that now covered the ground, my hand still attached to the bowl.
Genny began screaming, shaking her hand, as if to remove stray water but the bowl wouldn’t budge. My shoulder ached from the sudden, jerky movements. The pain, surely the only reason I too hadn’t also fallen into panic, pulsed intensely.
“Genny, stop!” I yelled over her cries. “Don’t move!”
A sudden silence fell, with only a few shuddering breaths. “Viv, what is this thing?”
“I don’t know but I’m stuck too. Just a moment here.” I awkwardly pulled myself into a sitting position and tried to control my breathing as I studied the seemingly innocuous item. “I was fine a moment ago.” I slid my captured hand around the side of the bowl. I could change my hand’s position but not actually remove it. “Ok, Genny stay there.” I slid my hand to where hers was and sat down next to her. “It’s all right. It’ll be all right. We’ll carry it back to Bay Cottage and Nainy will know what to do.”
Genny sniffed but nodded.
“Come on, careful of your free hand.” Fumbling as best I could, I helped her to her feet and then followed. With a bit of careful manoeuvring we were able to position our hands on the bowl so that we could carry it between us. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. It wasn’t something I cared to dwell ont. Nainy would know.
We started back across the bay, our soaked trainers splashing through the water. “Maybe you’ll have to come home with me.” I tried joking but Genny just smiled weakly. I opened my mouth to offer another soothing platitude when my breath shot out of me and my heart jumped.
Both of us fell back with a splash, the bowl wrenching our shoulders painfully. Genny cried out and we both struggled forward, where we met an invisible barrier.
“No,” I cried, pressing myself forward into the wall of air. “No!”
“Viv,” Genny’s shaking voice cut through the panic and I glanced to what she was staring. A wooden post stood only a short distance away, marking the edge of the circle. The edge we’d just run into. Our position was made only more horrific by the fact that the bottom few centimetres of the post was now covered in water. I looked at Genny my eyes mirroring the terror on her own face.
“It was fine. It was fine before.” I whispered to myself in disbelief.
“It’s this cursed thing!” Genny swung the bowl through the air at our prison wall but it just clanged off and again.
“ I don’t know what to do,” I whispered as the water soaked through our trouser legs. I was on the edge of panic.
“Viv, Viv!” Genny was pulling me up and pointing at a dark shape making its way towards us. I pressed myself against the barrier in an effort to make out what it was.
“It’s a person!” I said breathlessly. “Hey! Over here!” Genny and I both jumped and yelled until we were hoarse but whoever it was didn’t speed up though they seemed to be still heading directly towards us. By the time I could see who it was, the water was seeping up over the edge of my shoes, just touching our socks.
“Oh my, what a predicament,” Mr. Sarffer said as he strolled towards us, hands in his pockets.
“Mr. Sarffer, thank goodness!” Genny called. “We’re trapped in here. We’re stuck to this bowl and the tide’s coming in! Do you know how to…” Genny trailed off because Mr. Sarffer was laughing. It was a distrubingly evil sort of sound. So full of equal parts joy and malice that it made me shiver.
He laughed and he laughed until he had to wipe a tear from his eye. Genny had fallen deathly silent but I could feel her shaking with rage. My own anger was building, sweeping away the shock. “I am just so pleased with how well this all worked out. I’d heard young boys were a handful but I’ve never seen anything as deliciously stupid and driven as you two. It didn’t even take a full day before you were out here.”
“You wanted us to come out here. You lied to us,” I spat the words out with venom.
Mr. Sarffer’s face lost its glee. “Now Miss Vivea, that’s a nasty accusation. I’m many things, very few of them good. But I always keep my word and I never lie. I said there was a treasure buried under the mound and there was.”
“You said it could change fate, not trap us!” I shouted.
A malicious grin broke out on his face and he chortled, “I did say that, didn’t I? Well, let me put it this way. Anyone who touches that thing changes their own fate. You both would have grown into lovely young ladies, maybe gone off to school, maybe married and had children. But now, now you shall drown with nothing but your life and the sea before you. I would say that is a fate-changer, would you not?”
A sob tore from Genny’s throat. “Why? Why would you do this to us? We haven’t done anything to you!”
Mr. Sarffer nodded understandingly, “It’s true. Most unfortunate really. Be that as it may, you’re still Morgans and I once swore once to have revenge upon your family. You see I speak truthfully. I keep my word.”
Genny screamed and threw herself at the wall. My arm jerked with the movement but instead I just stared at Mr. Sarffer with the intensity that he usually used. And then it hit me, “You’re the sea dragon.”
Mr. Sarffer’s serpentine smile widened and his teeth seemed to instantly sharpen, “Ah, very observant Miss Vivea.” He laughed and Genny and I drew back instinctively as he snapped at us. This made him laugh harder.
“But you can’t be a sea dragon,” Genny stuttered, her eyes wide and unbelieving. She too had made the connection involving our family history.
“Why not? I’ve waited for this for hundreds of years and another twenty to make sure the time was right.” He looked out over the bay. “I can assume any form I wish and whilst being human is mundane and degrading, it was was worth it for this moment. To watch the descendants of that fool fisherman perish in his bay.”
“Then you broke your promise. You promised not to harm us,” I bit out the words, filling them with disgust.
“So accusatory. But I did not harm you. You’ve reached this path on your own. Though I may have provided help along the way. You asked for the information that would lead to your doom.” He smiled at us again with his unblinking eyes and maniacal smirk.
“You put this trap here!” Genny accused. The bowl was getting heavy now and it sagged between us. But we were both unwilling to sit on the ground at Mr. Sarffer’s feet.
“Ah, yes. That is true,” Mr. Sarffer conceded. “But that was before our agreement and really the Morgan’s are responsible for the fact that it’s even visible.”
“What do you mean?” I asked cautiously.
“The Morgans are the protectors of this bay Miss Vivea. They are the ones that hid the bowl and circle all those years ago. When they reside here, they keep it safely buried from prying eyes.”
“It was you,” Genny gasped. “You are the one who sent the iron to drive our grandfather away. You are the one who caused the rift, the reason our parents left.”
Mr. Sarffer seemed to want to bow in acknowledgement but was barely restraining himself. “I wish I could take all the credit but your family went above and beyond. I merely provided the opportunity. And with only one Morgan here, certain things came to light.”
Genny and I had both fallen silent, now aware our predicament was fatal and unlikely to change. My shoulders sagged not only with the effort to keep the bowl up but with the knowledge that it was my foolishness that had landed us in this situation.
“Yes, you two preformed spectacularly. I’ve been trying to get at least Genny out here for the last two summers. But she doesn’t seem to be affected by the lure and she was allowed ever so much more freedom with you here.” Mr. Sarffer regarded her thoughtfully. Then as if giving up the matter, shoved his hands back into his pockets. “I have a bit of a distraction to maintain, so that grandfather of yours doesn’t catch wind of this. It has truly been a pleasure ladies.” He bowed to us both and then continued his walk farther out on the bay. A gull swooped toward us with a cry and when we looked again, Mr. Sarffer had disappeared into the sea.
“I suppose it’s too much to hope he drowns,” Genny spat from gritted teeth.
“I doubt sea dragons have much trouble with water.” I sighed and then squatted down to relieve the weight of the bowl. “I’m so sorry, Genny. If I hadn’t…”
“Viv,” Genny’s tone stopped me. “You are my cousin, and if I wasn’t here, then you’d be here alone. You heard him, there was a lure or something. Not that I’m saying your not a right idiot for doing all of this. But, honestly don’t apologise. I won’t be able to handle it if you do and I shan’t cry anymore about this ridiculous turn of events.” She squared her shoulders and looked to where Mr. Sarffer had disappeared. “He shan’t get anymore of my tears.”
I nodded, grateful but still heavy with guilt. “There might be a weak spot. Should we walk the perimeter?”
“I honestly can’t carry this bowl much longer,” she looked over at the mounded sand from our excavation efforts. “We should pile it up higher if we can now. The bowl shall drag us down with the tide. If we have a higher vantage it might give us a bit more time before…” she trailed off.
“For someone to find us.” I finished, sounding more hopeful than I felt. We heaved ourselves forward and began making preparations to stave off our slow execution.
The bowl was a hindrance to be sure and we’d not be in this situation if not for its captivating hold but we used it to our best advantage. Filling it with heavy, wet sand and then lifting together to dump it on our ever taller pile, alleviated the feeling of helplessness that overwhelmed me as I sloshed back and forth through our ever rising doom. We moved quick, with a burst of strength and speed that I supposed must be typical of those faced with a short future.
When we were no longer able to fill the bowl, we finally rested, looking out over the bleak and damning landscape. There was no one. No one to hear us, see us, save us. We walked the perimeter then, determined to try every last spot for some sort of resistance. Nothing gave. We thought to hit at the posts with the bowl, but they stood outside the perimeter and we were unable to even touch them. Defeated we returned stumbling through the knee deep water to our pile of sand. Reaching our chest height, the coloum of sand gave me a small sliver of hope.
“We should have made chairs too,” Genny grumbled under her breath.
“We could start a whole line of sand furniture.” I smiled weakly at her.
“Oh yes, ‘Fleeting furniture, for those with no future.’ It’d be fabulous.” Her smile was dim but it meant the world to me that we could still draw that from each other, even now. “I’d pay good money for a chair,” she continued. “But you know what I’m dying for, and I do not use that term loosely? A breeze, something. This air is stifling and digging for your life is hard work.”
I laughed before nodding. Cold sweat trickled down my face. “The wind is different here. Not in the circle but here in Anglesey”
“How do you mean?” Genny’s head was now slumped against her shoulder.
“It sounds like bells, you know? That’s what drew me to Dan’s hut in the first place. I thought I heard bells.” My hand slipped into my pocket and found the sea glass he’d given me. I pulled it out and gazed down at it. The small bell sat there still embedded deep in the glass. I held it up to show Genny, who smiled indulgently. “Can you hear it?” I asked hoping to make her smile.
“No,” she rolled her eyes.
“How about now?” I shook the glass as I would a bell. There was a clear ringing sound that had us both starting in surprise. Then a strange burst shot through the circle and beyond, causing small waves that radiated outward at an alarming speed.
Genny’s eyes shot towards mine. “What was that?”
I shook my head in wonder and stared down at the seemingly innocent sea glass that had sat in my pocket for the last three weeks.
“Would it do it again?” Genny asked.
I shook it but nothing happened then handed it to Genny who was also met with failure.
“Well, it was something at least,” she sighed and handed it back. “Could you imagine if it worked all the time? That’d be annoying for someone or fish. Could you imagine swimming through that?”
I snorted and slid it back in my pocket, noticing that the water was now up to my hip, “Do you think someone shall come now?”
Genny sighed, “I’m going to say no because I want someone to come but don’t want to really get my hopes up.”
“How long for the tide to come all the way in?” I finally asked the question I’d been dreading.
Genny was silent a moment, “I’m not sure. It’s about twelve hours between each set and six for it to come in completely. But I’m not sure how much time we have left. Maybe an hour.”
I nodded bleakly.
We both were quite calm, given the circumstance but when the gentle waves reached our shoulders, Genny and I both began crying silently.
“I know I said I wouldn’t cry,” she sniffed. “But honestly, Viv. No one is coming and we’re just going to drown here. I’m cold, tired, and hungry and Nainy won’t even know we’re missing until after we’re dead. I just…”
I reached my free hand out and squeezed her wet shoulder. “I know, Genny. I’m so glad I met you. Really met you, you know. You’re so strong and…”
“I’m not going to say goodbye,Viv. Something shall happen. We’ll find a way out.”
The water seemed to be rising faster now and we both were standing on tiptoes to keep our mouths from being submerged. The sun was finally beginning its decent. But it would still be a maybe an hour or so before Nainy would be ready to drive to the train station and wonder where we were. Another meter before there was any cause for alarm. We would be gone by then.
I clenched my eyes closed just as a strange ripple in the water splashed my face. I glanced about but nothing was near us. No life, nothing. Another splash. Where was that coming from? I took a deep breath and then plunged my face into the water. There were large bubbles of air drifting upwards. But where were they coming from? I reached my hand back into my pocket, significantly harder to accomplish now that I was almost completely underwater. The sea glass remained unchanged but the cockle shell almost fluttered in my hand. I shoved the sea glass back in my pocket and held tightly to the cockle. Then I surfaced for another breath of air.
“What’s going on, Viv?” Genny called trying to contain her panic.
“I don’t know. Maybe nothing, just a moment.” I ducked my head back under just in time to see the cockle release the bubble. Cautiously with hesitant hope I pressed the cockle to my mouth and inhaled. A burst of air rushed into my lungs. A blood cockle holds the breath of life, Nainy had said.
I resurfaced sputtering water and fighting for the breath and time to say what I needed, “Genny! Under water, look!”
Bless her, she didn’t ask a single question but ducked her head under too. I demonstrated for her and then carefully passed her the shell. Her eyes widened as she took it and inhaled. We were saved.
It was still a struggle to remain calm as the waves completely covered our heads but passing the shell back and forth kept our breathing regulated. Now our only challenge would be staying alert until someone found us.
The rising night coupled with the tide and we were soon enclosed in a deep oppressive darkness. It pressed on all sides and had I not been with Genny, I would have been completely consumed with panic. The night brought the end of our ability to track time. Where as before time seemed to slip through our fingers, now it only edged forward slowly. The monotonous moments filled with a slow count to twenty before the shell was passed between us. Genny bumped her captured fingers against mine and I robotically reached to grab the shell. I bumped my hand against hers and she let go of it and I was able to press it to my mouth. On and on it went.
Our rhythm was broken by a loud clanging noise. I flinched, unsure if it was Mr. Sarffer, returning to seek evidence of our demise. Or maybe it was a boat, set to fly high above us, tauntingly close but still out of reach. I reached for the shell. Whatever it was, I still needed to breathe. I looked around towards Genny’s face and saw her pointing to the right. A light shone through the dark and illuminated a shadow, only a stone’s throw away. There was a clanging noise again, followed by silence. Then it sounded a third time. The clanging formed a rhythm but we continued passing the shell. I was torn between hope and fear and our breaths began to mirror the same rhythm as the clanging noise, making the suspense that more dreadful.
I wasn’t sure how long it was before the clanging stopped and the light began to draw closer. Genny and I both winced at the sudden the brightness that assaulted us. But as I tentatively opened my eyes, I was met by my father’s face. I was so shocked that it took a moment before I saw Dan next to him. Both men walked along the sea floor, the only hint that they were underwater was the pull of the waves at their hair and clothes.
Standing together, I was finally able to see a resemblance that I wouldn’t have otherwise been aware of. Their faces both shining with relief at finding us as they had. I didn’t want to consider their thoughts before they’d seen proof that we were alive. My father’s arms were around me in an instant. I pointed toward the bowl to warn them both not to touch it. They both glanced at it and then at each other. My father nodded and then he and Dan began to pull us upward.
With a gasp we broke the surface and struggled to stay up as hands pulled us higher still. With a tumble we landed in the bottom of a small boat. Nainy threw a blanket over the bowl before covering us both with warm blankets and hugging us each to her in an almost painful desperation. Her thick coat and skirts imparted even more warmth and I could feel the weight of the situation seep out of me.
“Sorry, we were late,” Genny’s teeth chattered with the cold. “Is this in the same league as losing a limb?”
“Honestly, Gwyn,” Nainy huffed but only continued hugging us to her and sweeping our hair out of our faces. The boat began to rock and we braced ourselves, as my father crawled in, dripping with the sea.
“Vivian,” He scrambled to my side and squeezed me tightly against him.
“Are we still trapped by the circle?” I asked hesitantly peering towards the inky depths. “No, we broke one of the posts and therefore the boundary holding you in.” My father stroked my hair and then pulled me back studying my face and then his eyes strayed to the blanket covering the bowl. He gritted his teeth, “I don’t even know how we’ll be rid of this though. What were you thinking?”
“He said the bowl could change fate, I thought I could fix everything…”
“Who?” Nainy snapped. “Who said that?”
Genny and I looked at each other uncertainly. “Mr. Sarffer.” Genny explained. “He’s the sea dragon.” Nainy stared at us each in turn, shocked.
“Sarf mor,” my father spat in a moment of recognition. He and Nainy set the boat rocking, as they rushed the side. I was worried it might tumble over given their swift movements and I wasn’t interested in taking another dip in the water tonight. Dan looked up at them from the surface, calmly leaning against the top of the waves.
“So, he’s returned then?”
“You sound calm,” my father was exactly the opposite. If we hadn’t been in the boat he would have been pacing.
My grandfather sighed, “I assumed it was him once I heard the bell call from that place, Dylan.”
“And you weren’t keen to share?” I winced at my father’s tone.
Nainy laid her hand on my father’s arm, “We can argue about this later. Once the girls are safe on land.”
My father nodded and sat back down,the boat rocked forward and on the backlash, a pressure wrapped around my torso, as Genny and I were pulled back into the sea.
The sea swallowed my scream, as we were swept back into the torturous black depths. Whatever it was held us wrapped tight, almost choking the breath from me. Still attached via the bowl, I could feel Genny thrashing next to me but our captor gave no quarter. We resurfaced within sight of the boat but far enough off that I could not see the faces of my family. I blinked the water from my eyes and then glanced to Genny on my right. She wasn’t looking at me but staring in horror at whatever it was that held us. Reluctantly, I turned to look at the monstrosity above me.
Mr. Sarffer’s sharp teeth had now lengthened into long fangs throughout his mouth. That was the only major change in him, apart from the fact that he’d also grown in size. The effect was horrific.
“Hello, Orme.” My grandfather’s voice was carried across the waves on the wind.
“Manawydan,” Orme hissed. “And did you enjoy the present I left for you?”
Manawydan chuckled, “It was a valiant effort to be sure. But surly it was spoiled by the mere fact that two young girls survived your death trap.”
Orme spat an incoherent string of curses before he was able to contain himself. Sighing, he straightened himself and pulled us up a bit higher. My feet dangling just above the water’s surface.“I can remedy that right now.”
“No!” My father cried pushing forward only to be pulled back by Nainy.
Our grandfather kept his voice calm, “I have to admit, I thought you’d sought out another home and put this business behind you.” The tone was soothing but seemed to slide off Orme with no effect.
Orme only laughed, “You thought that did you? That I’d disappeared all those decades ago? You didn’t notice my presence in your life once you joined forces with the Morgans? I warned you not to turn traitor.”
“Ah, so Rhiannon’s suspicions were correct. Apologies, fy enaid.” My grandmother nodded in acknowledgement. “And this is where you hid? I’m shocked I didn’t sense your presence.”
“I hid for years in the forests of Snowdonia, coming only to visit and deliver tribute you so deserved.” Orme narrowed his eyes. “I’m sure your precious Rhiannon and your half-breed brats enjoyed them.”
“An asp always waiting to strike.” There was silence for a moment but my grandfather was not tempted by the emotional bait Orme dangled in front of him, “And you returned fully once you’d driven them all away.”
“I knew the Morgan wouldn’t leave but that made my slow torture even better. I have always had the gift of patience.”
“But not the gift of forgiveness,” Manawydan said wearily. “I have spoken to you of this a long while, Orme. Let them be. Let these girls go. Let Seren go.”
Orme tensed and sneered in my grandfather’s direction, “She is mine! She was meant to be mine!”
“She is dead and gone. This revenge shan’t bring her back. We don’t always get to keep that which we consider ours, no matter how much we wish it.” His voice was heavy with sorrow now. It spoke to my very soul and I felt the small familiar breeze push at the tear that was making its way down my cheek. Even in this time it was there giving support. “Give me the girls, Orme. Take your cursed bowl. Go and find happiness.”
“Ahh, so you would exile me, Manawydan?” Orme’s voice quietly slipped into the night. Genny looked at me eyes wide and I knew I wasn’t the only one who heard danger in his words.
“This can not go unanswered. You are aware that exile is the most lenient option you have.”
Orme answered with laughter. “I’ve no incentive to give you the young ones, Manawydan. I would exchange them though and take the cursed bowl too. If…if you gave me the Morgan.” His eyes turned deadly as they found my grandmother still laying a restraining hand on my father. She heard his words. It was a testament to her strength and unwavering love that my grandmother stood without hesitation.
“No, Nainy!” Genny called. We both began our struggles anew but were silenced as Orme increased the pressure in his ever present restraints.
A sigh whistled around us. “I shan’t be exchanging my wife and grandchildren as though they were fish at market.”A strong breath of wind and wave was born of nothing. It gracefully, if not mercilessly, lifted the boat quickly, bearing it to the shore. My father’s and grandmother’s cries could be heard though, over it all.
“It is me you want, Orme. Is it not? Was I not the one you appealed to for judgement, so long ago? The one who turned your request away.” My grandfather was suddenly in front of us, larger than life and hovering on breath of the wind. “Would you not rather have a king of the sea captured in your bowl, over a mere Morgan?” His voice was soft and persuasive, quietly encouraging.
Orme’s grip slackened slightly. “You, Manawydan? Yes, my traitorous friend. Yes, I shall accept.” He let go of Genny and I, grabbing the bowl instead. Our shoulders wrenched as we fell hanging only by our hands just above the water. My eyes swiftly found Genny’s wide with pain, shock, and fear, surely a mirror image of my own.“Your time is done, girls.”
We dropped down into the water, kicking off the blankets that were still wrapped around us and pushing through the heavy darkness. I felt the shell slip from my hands as I fought to free myself. In a rush of breath, I surfaced and pulled Genny up with me. A wave must have swept us out of the way, for I spent a moment of confusion wondering where my grandfather was. But we merely had to turn round to see Manawydan, just above the water.
Orme muttered over the rim of his bowl, filling it with hateful words and intentions. It began to shimmer with power and strength and then he threw it, spinning towards my grandfather who welcomed it with open arms. I cried out and began to swim forward to stop it all but felt a hand on my arm. My father was treading water between us. I searched around for the boat but it was no where in sight. In the midst of it all, it was easy to forget that my father was the son of the sea king.
The bowl shot forward and rotated as if to sweep Manawydan into its orbit, pulling at his very essence. The lines of reality, if that’s what this nightmare could be called, began to blur tearing at him.
It was then that a light shot up from shore. So bright that it made us all turn. A gleaming pillar of brightness shooting into the eternity of the night sky. Another joined it, spaced only a little ways away. Then another and another. Until five shafts of light were shooting into the sky. The beams began to rotate down towards the horizon taking on the impression of a row of lighthouses. Once they’d become perfectly horizontal the light pivoted until they joined at one point. The combined force was even brighter and more magnificent, like a beam of concentrated sunlight. It shot out along the waves of the bay and I didn’t doubt for a moment it would reach completely across sea and find Ireland. It was only still for a moment, before it began sweeping in our direction.
“The shrines. It’s from the shrines.” Genny whispered to me excitedly as the light shown now over our heads and then stopped.
It shown straight through Manawydan and into the still spinning bowl of Orme’s. For a moment the light was stopped there, like the bowl was absorbing it all. All of the light, all of the loyalty, all of the love. The entirety of it focused on the bowl and then seemed to burst through the other side in a smaller beam that was even more intense. This slammed into Orme, now only an echo of Mr. Sarffer. A terrible roar shot across the night, filled with pain, regret, and failure, echoing of the hills and doubling back in on itself. I clenched my eyes shut against the blast. Then in a burst, it was all gone.