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 Second Encounter



Chapter  V




  "Well, Derry, it sounds like we are taking a trip to the beach in the morning!" Derry shook his head.

"Are you sure you want to come along? Syrene can be. difficult." Morgan grinned.

"All the more reason for me to come, Derry," he said. "You may need some help out of that difficulty! Besides, if there is a mer. sea nymph in my bay, I think I should check it out." Derry shook his head and grinned back.

"If you insist, Morgan. But don't say I didn't warn you!"

They set out early the next morning from the castle and rode quickly to the beachfront. The morning was bright and clear, with just a few high clouds in the sky. They tethered their horses and made their way to the water. It was just past high tide and the rock jetty where Derry had first seen the sea nymph was barely visible. The farthest rocks were still completely submerged. The two men stopped at the shoreline edge of the jetty.

"That's going to be pretty slippery," Morgan said. Derry nodded.

"But Selk said to go to where I first saw Syrene, and that was about halfway down the rocks," Derry replied. "I wonder just how precise we need to be?" Without waiting for Morgan to reply, Derry began to climb carefully out onto the rocks. Morgan followed, just as carefully. The rocks were as wet and slippery as Morgan feared, and small waves still lapped over them at regular intervals. Morgan scowled as his boots got soaked with one of the waves. Derry picked his way along the jetty to the point where the water was almost at a level with the top of the rocks. He stopped and began to remove the silvery bag from where he had tied it at his waist. He spoke without turning around.

"She was sitting a little farther out on the rocks, but I don't think we'd better go too much farther. We'd probably end up in the bay if we do." Morgan looked down at his all too wet feet and shook his head.

"And we wouldn't want to get wet, would we?" Derry pulled the shell out of the bag and leaned down to hold it just under the surface of the water. The water splashed up against his arm and the rocks he crouched on, soaking the arm and front of his blue tunic with cold salt water. After a few minutes of enduring the chilly, unwanted bath, Derry pulled the shell out of the water and shook his arm, sending a spray of droplets flying.

"Well, that was useless! I didn't hear a thing, did you?" He turned toward Morgan.

"I'm not so sure, Derry," Morgan replied, staring past Derry's shoulder with an odd look on his face. Derry turned to follow Morgan's gaze. A short distance out in the bay, floating on her stomach with her tail arched up in the air, was Syrene. When she saw Derry looking at her, she flipped upright, waved and disappeared below the surface. Derry stood up, scowling.

"Great! Selk told us how to call her, but he didn't say how we were supposed to get her to stay! Maybe we should have brought a fishnet and a boat!" Morgan opened his mouth to reply, but didn't get the chance as the sound of a voice from directly behind Derry almost caused the Marcher Lord to lose his footing on the slippery rocks.

"That's not very nice! I had to swim all the way over here, you know." Regaining his footing with Morgan's help, Derry turned back to the water. He looked down at Syrene.

"Do you always sneak up on people like that?" The sea nymph tossed back her golden hair and pouted.

"I did not sneak up on you! As you yourself said last time, I am "half-fish," and swimming is the only way I can get anywhere!" Derry's shoulder's rose and fell in a sigh and Morgan chuckled. Derry threw a glare over his shoulder. Morgan shrugged.

"Well, she does have a point."

"You're not helping," Derry said and turned back to Syrene. She craned her neck to look around him at Morgan, smiling up at the Duke.



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