Returning to his eyrie the same way he left, traveling secretly through the water’s song, Aymeri is surprise to find Merrin, who had gone with the others to hunt, sitting on the bank of the small pond.
“There you are,” the other water dragon says, “I thought I sensed you in the water, but I wasn’t sure.”
“Is the hunt over so soon?” Aymeri deflects any questions Merrin might have about his activities over the last hour by answering with his own.
Merrin shakes his head heavily, “I turned back before we reached the mainland,” he says, “I had hoped that flying would clear my head, but once we were out over the open ocean, it just got worse. Louder.” The older dragon bites his lip, glancing warily at Aymeri, “You hear it too, don’t you? The song has changed, and I can’t make myself focus on anything else.”
Aymeri climbs onto the bank to sit beside Merrin, welcoming the opportunity to open up to his fellow water dragon, “Aye,” he reassures him, “I hear it. And I listened.”
Merrin casts him a sharp glance, but says nothing, waiting for further explanation.
“We are taught to fear the song from the moment we are able to speak, taught to silence it beneath the clamor of our thoughts, to direct our attention outward, and never within. But I listened to the song, and I followed its call.”
“This has something to do with your disappearance, doesn’t it?” Merrin realizes.
Aymeri nods, “I found the source of the song.”
“What have you done, Aymeri?” Merrin groans.
“I need to speak with Morrillyn,” Aymeri answers, feeling he has reached the limit of what he can safely tell his clansmate. Even if Merrin could be persuaded to listen to the song and accept Icovellauna’s magic as his own, they would still be alone in their understanding, sharing a secret they must both keep hidden. Only the Daughter of Water’s influence could make the other dragons accept the truth and allow all their kind to share in the gift of the water.
Merrin sighs, reluctant. “She needs to know,” he agrees, “But you have been barred from flight.”
“I don’t need to fly, I can travel through the water,” Aymeri begins to explain, only to be cut short by Merrin’s snorting chuckle.
“You mean to swim to the water eyrie? You of all dragons should know it is too far.”
Aymeri shares in his laughter, reminiscing at the most terrifying day in his life, when as a child, before he was old enough to take his dragon form and fly, he attempted to swim across the ocean to the mainland where the adult dragons would hunt. The distance proved far greater than the young dragon had imagined, and he became lost at sea with no land in sight. It was Merrin who had come to his rescue, using the water sense shared by all water dragons which helps them locate underwater prey.
“Not swim,” Aymeri explains, “The song is the voice of the waters, and we can use it to travel instantly from one body of water to another. I can go from here to the water eyrie in less than a moment, and none would know I was gone.”
Merrin rubs his hands wearily over his eyes. “That sounds like magic,” he warns, “And the entire water eyrie would know you hadn’t flown there if they don’t see you land.”
Aymeri bites his lip. He hadn’t thought that far ahead. “I must speak with her, even if it means defying Anaia.”
“We can go together without defying her,” Merrin says.
When he had turned back from the hunt, Merrin had told the others only that he was feeling unwell. Now he turns that excuse to getting permission for Aymeri to fly, telling Tyrrhen that his mysterious ‘illness’ has something to do with the water, and that he wishes to consult with Morrillyn.
“I don’t want to make the trip alone,” Merrin concludes, “I’d feel safer if I had Aymeri to accompany me.”
“All right,” Tyrrhen agrees, “Go, and I’ll deal with Anaia.”
Morrillyn greets her visitors as they land by the signal fire of the water eyrie, surprised not by their visit, but that it is only two of the younger water dragons who have come to her in this strange time. She had expected Moerrynth or Carllyn, the two other firstborn water dragons before their descendants.
“Welcome, sons of the water,” she says, “You come seeking answers that I do not have. The water is changing, and I do not know the cause.”
“I do,” Aymeri, the youngest of all the water dragons, surprises her with his response. “I have been to the source of the song, to a place called the Undersea, where all the waters of this world meet.”
“This world?” Morrillyn asks, “Are you saying there is another?”
“The Undersea is connected to this world, but not of it,” Aymeri explains, “It is a place outside of time, but all the waters, the rivers, the oceans, flow from it, and return to its shores. The song calls to us as it does to all the creatures of the sea, and it is through the song that traveled, and found the source.”
She hears the hesitation in his voice, and she knows what he holds back. “You have been touched by the fae,” she says. Merrin gasps in shock, but Aymeri simply nods once.
“I saw her face once, in the earliest days, not long after we hatched on this eyrie,” Morrillyn says, “We knew, Moerrynth, Carrlyn and I, we understood the water called to us in a way that fire, wind, storm and earth did not call to our brethren. They saw our difference as an affliction to hide, and they struggled against it, learning to mask the song beneath the sounds of speech and thought, but I sought to understand, and opened myself to its voice. I ceased struggling against it, and let the water carry me, and for a brief moment, I saw her, beautiful and terrible. In fear, I reeled from the sight, my mind returning to the here and now, my thought becoming a clamor to drown the song so that I might never follow its course again.”
“Her name is Icovellauna,” Aymeri says, “She is the spirit of the waters, and her voice is our voice, her song is our song.”
Morrillyn closes her eyes and opens her mind as she did once long, long ago, letting the song carry her. Roaring swells and crashing waves, rivers that babble and sing, gurgles and hisses all now clear and strong, each pointing to place in the world where water flows, and each a stream connecting one to the other, all leading back to their source. She opens her eyes again to meet Aymeri’s. “The water sings with your voice now, and when I follow it to the source, it is your face I see.”