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Authors: Samantha Winston

Merlin’s Song (2 page)

BOOK: Merlin’s Song
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She poured the whole thing into a glass of red wine. It was
too full, so she sipped some of it. There, he’d never know what hit him. She
wondered if the potion worked on maidens as well, but thought not. It was a potion
for men so it would only affect that bossy elf.

Kyla hurried to the reception room, pausing just outside the
doorway. She overheard her aunt say, “Yes, Kyla’s mother was the royal nanny.
She was Branagh’s nanny, if you can imagine. She married late and Kyla was her
twilight child, as she likes to say.” Her aunt laughed gaily and Kyla’s fingers
tightened on the tray. Old gossipy biddy. Go on, tell everyone she’d been born
when her parents were already old and her brothers already full grown.

Pasting a bright smile on her face, she set the tray on the
table and went to tend the fire. She put another couple logs on and watched the
elf out of the corner of her eye. He ate the omelet with evident hunger and
drained the glass of wine.

“Are you feeling better?” she asked, batting her eyelashes
coyly.

He looked at her and a smile creased his lips. “Much better,
thank you. If my brother comes, I hope you’ll make him the same omelet, it was
delicious. I’ve never had better.”

Kyla started to feel a little more friendly toward him. “When
will he arrive?”

“Tonight, hopefully. He should have been here already. We
leave tomorrow at dawn.”

“Tomorrow?” She felt a pang of…something. It hurt. Her chest
hurt. She put her hand on her heart.

“What is it, dear?” Her aunt sounded concerned.

“Nothing. I…I was just thinking about my brothers. I miss
them so much. I imagine you must miss your brother.”

His eyes glittered. “Yes. I do. We’re twins,” he added with
a shrug.

“Identical?”

“In every way.”

Kyla drew a quick breath. She couldn’t imagine two such
specimens together. Both with that bright red-gold hair, emerald green eyes and
such broad shoulders and long, muscular legs. “I think…I think I’ll take the
tray back to the kitchen.” She picked up his empty plate and glass.

Her aunt cried, “Oh, don’t bother to wash them, dear. Just
put them in the sink. Bonnie will do them before she cooks breakfast tomorrow.”

“I’ll need to leave at first light,” said Merlin. He stood
and stretched. “Would you be so kind as to show me to my room, Dame Flandres?”

Kyla’s aunt got to her feet and bustled out of the room. “Follow
me, Merlin. Kyla, be a dear and make sure the fire is damped before you retire.”

“Yes, Auntie.” Kyla took the tray to the kitchen and washed
up. No need to make extra work for Bonnie. There were only a few things anyhow.
Then she damped the fire down in the reception room and went to her little
round room in the turret. There she sat on her bed and thought for a while.

Her mother always said that thinking got her in trouble. It
wasn’t so much the ideas she got as the fact that she had no qualms acting them
out. This new idea was totally mad. So what? Kyla packed her things in a
leather bag and put on her warmest clothes.

She dropped her bag out the window then, looking carefully to
see that no one had heard it fall, climbed down the stone wall. The slivered
moon offered no light, and the air was frigid. Her breath left pale plumes of
fog. She wasn’t cold though, she’d wrapped her warmest cloak of black swan down
around her. She was nearly as impervious to cold as an elf, but as a fairy, she
loved her luxury. Even if she was running away, she wanted to be comfortable
and have fun. That’s what fairies were best at. She was looking forward to
teaching that stuffy elf Merlin a lesson or two.

Whistling softly, she made her way down the road. It was
dark, but she had keen eyesight. The road sloped downhill all the way to the
port so she made good time. She had to be careful around the docks. There were
a few people around, but they either dozed near a fire or caroused in the local
tavern.

The boats were docked at the quay. There was only one the
elves could possibly take—a small, swift schooner. Hesitating only a second,
she tossed her bag onto the deck and leapt lightly after it. Then she went
below to find a comfortable place to stow away. She was tired of staying in the
castle all by herself. She wanted to have some fun and adventure.

Chapter Two

 

Merlin rubbed his eyes. What a spoiled brat that little Kyla
was. He didn’t know many fairy women, so he couldn’t really compare, but they
all seemed frivolous and flashy, emotional and unpredictable. Give him a nice,
steady elf woman any day. Someone with a little curve and form. Kyla was as
slim as a reed. And she was a terrible cook. The omelet had been nearly
inedible and the wine too sweet, as if she’d put sugar in it instead of honey.
He shook his head. Well, he’d never see her again, and he wouldn’t have to eat
her dreadful cooking.

And why was he thinking about her anyway? But he couldn’t
stop. Her narrow face with its dark blue, slanted eyes and wide, mocking mouth
seemed to float in the air in front of him. She was tall for a fairy, and
willowy, like a supple birch tree. And her hair…he’d never seen such a color
before. It was pale blue and glowed like a cloak of moonbeams. He shook his
head again, trying to dislodge her image, but she undulated and danced before
him, troubling him more than he cared to admit.

He took off his traveling cloak and lay on the bed. He would
have liked a hot bath, but it was late at night and he didn’t feel right asking
Dame Flandres to heat a caldron for him. And that little fairy obviously wouldn’t
lift a finger to help. She must lie in bed all day just waiting for someone to
come and serve her.

She would be lying in her bed, her pale blue hair tumbled
around her head like sea foam, her skin like the delicate pink of seashell, her
eyes so dark blue as to appear nearly black. His cock grew hard as he thought
of striding up to the bed, tearing the covers off her naked body and… He drew a
sharp breath. What was he thinking?

About naked fairies? His cock seemed to say hopefully. It
gave a little jump in his hand. And when had he taken it in his hand? He gave
it a squeeze. Well, while it was there, might as well leave it there. And maybe
squeeze a little harder, and think of that ravishing little pest kneeling in
front of him and begging him to service her. She would beg him to stroke her
breasts with their pink nipples and he would order her to kiss him. Yes, now he
imagined her soft mouth kissing his lips then sliding down his chest and belly
to his cock and…sucking him. Her soft mouth sucking him harder and… By Mistral,
what had come over him?

He stared at his hand, his cock and the splatter of cum on
the bed sheet, and thought that maybe the war was affecting him worse than he thought.
He was losing his mind. He didn’t want to make love with such an obnoxious
creature. He didn’t like her at all. She wasn’t his type, and she… Oh, for
Mistral’s sake! He’d be gone the next day and wouldn’t have to set eyes on her
again. He cleaned up his bed and then, because he was exhausted, he fell asleep
immediately. The next thing he knew someone was shaking his shoulder and his
twin was there, telling him to get up—that they had to leave right away.

“It’s still dark.” Merlin rubbed his eyes and tried to
focus.

“I just arrived, sorry to be so late. But I wanted to check with
the harbormaster. The boat is ready.”

“Can we man it ourselves or do we need other crew?” Merlin
dressed and slung his bag over his shoulder.

“It’s small enough to be manned by two. And it’s swift. Let’s
go. There’s not a minute to spare.”

Merlin knew his brother’s impatience. They were identical,
but he was the calmer of the two. Sebring tended to be almost flighty for an
elf. “All right. I’m ready.”

“We can walk to the harbor. That way we can leave our horses
here in the castle stables. Are there any grooms left?”

Merlin knew that he’d be running all the way to the harbor—his
brother was incapable of walking anywhere. “There’s one groom left. He’s
toothless and bent nearly double, but he’s been around horses a long time and
he’ll take good care of them.” Merlin also knew that his brother adored his
horse, and would probably bring it on board with them if he thought it wouldn’t
get good treatment.

“Right then. Let’s get walking.”

As Merlin jogged after his brother, his thoughts kept
returning to Kyla. It aggravated him and he sped up, nearly passing Sebring. They
arrived in the harbor and went aboard, stowing their effects before checking
the supplies and the sails and then getting to know the boat.

The sun rose and the wind lifted, ruffling the water and
filling the sails. Slowly, then gaining more speed as it left the shelter of
the harbor, the boat cleaved through the water. Waves curled about its bow and
the cold salt spray stung Merlin’s skin, helping him stay awake.

“Didn’t you get any sleep last night?” Sebring asked,
bringing him a steaming cup of spiced tea.

Merlin handed over the rudder and stood near the rail,
sipping the tea. “No, I didn’t, and I thought I’d see you at the castle. Weren’t
you supposed to be there before me? Now that we’re alone, suppose you tell me
why you were so late.”

Sebring narrowed his eyes and said, “I found out some things
that can help us convince the Southern Isles to come to our aid.”

“What, more than what we already have?” Merlin felt a little
thrill of excitement. The outcome of the war was now balanced on the blade of a
razor. Anything could tip the results one way—or another. If the Southern Isles
came in on their side, it would mean certain victory for them.

“We already know that the ex-rulers of the Southern Isles
furnished dragons to the Mouse King for the last war. Their ignoble treachery
was discovered and the rulers of the Southern Isles banished.”

“Yes, but that is just one possible argument we have to drag
them into war on our side and it may not work, seeing as the royal family is
already gone. What is the other argument?”

Sebring gave him a grin, but it was a rather strained grin,
Merlin thought. “Ourselves,” he said. “Me or you. It seems that the new ruling
family of the Southern Isles is very concerned with inbreeding. The Southern
Isles have been hermetic for far too long and there is a real danger of the
whole population dying off. They need some new blood—”

“Hold on. Are you telling me that we are about to bargain
with our, our…”

“Our fabulous bodies, sparkling wit, and undeniable—”

“Have you lost your reason? We can’t possibly—”

“We’re at war, so any—”

“I know we’re at war, who do you take me for? But that plan—”

“Will you stop interrupting me?” Sebring cried.

“You’re the one interrupting.” Merlin had often felt like
hitting his brother when they were children, but he’d thought that was behind
them. Until now. He took a deep breath. “All right. Start at the beginning.
What is going on?”

“As you well know, the Southern Isles cut themselves off
from the mainland centuries ago. Then during the last war its rulers, grown
corrupt and mad for power, supplied the Mouse King with an army of dragons in
exchange for our resources when he won. Only he didn’t win. And when the people
of the Southern Isles found out what their leaders had done, they banished
them.”

“Where did they go?”

Sebring shook his head. “They got a boat, supplies and a
compass. Not being good sailors, most people figure they sailed around until
they died. No one knows for sure, and nobody cares. Anyhow, the people elected
a new king and council and settled down for another few centuries of isolation.
But to make a long story short, the fact is, there are no more babies being
born in the Southern Isles.”

“What?”

“Our people don’t have many children anyhow, so you can
imagine the disaster. King Branagh’s spy says the kingdom is desperate for new
blood. They will negotiate, I’m sure, if we let the soldiers who come fight for
us bring back brides from Hivernia.”

“Mistral be!” Merlin was stunned. So that was the problem
and the solution. But one thing still bothered him. His brother’s bleak
expression. There was more to the story. “Yes but why are just the two of us
going? Why not send a whole boatload of willing maidens to bargain with them?”

“They don’t want willing maids right now. They just want one
thing—for their queen to get pregnant. If we can manage that, they will send
troops that very day.”

Merlin choked on his tea and coughed.

“I know, it’s a shock, but there you have it,” Sebring said,
his countenance grim. “That’s our mission. Make love to queen until she
quickens, then hie back to Hivernia with an army and defeat our enemies. Easy.”

“What if she doesn’t get with child right away?” Another
thought struck him. “And what if she’s too old?”

“According to the reports, she’s young and healthy. No
reason to despair quite yet. Branagh has confidence in us.”

Merlin sighed. “And the king knows that you, at least, are
not sterile.” He touched his brother’s arm. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it to
sound like that.”

Sebring didn’t say anything, but Merlin knew what he was
feeling. Last spring, just as the war started, Sebring’s wife had died in
childbirth. It had been a bitter blow, and for months Merlin had stayed at his
brother’s side, afraid to leave him even for a minute. Even Llewellyn, their
foster father, had come back to stay, leaving King Branagh without a captain
for a whole month, until orders came calling him back.

Then Sebring had finally left off mourning and had thrown
himself into the war so fiercely that Merlin had another fear—that he would
welcome death. He fought without regard for his life until the day Branagh had
said he had a special mission for them. And they had to set off to sail for the
Southern Isles. Now Merlin wondered if this mission wouldn’t be even more
devastating to his brother’s well-being than staying in Hivernia. Merlin tried
to think about what would happen when they landed in the main port. And when he
imagined the queen for some reason he pictured Kyla, that pale fairy minx, and
got such a hard-on he could hardly walk.

* * * * *

Two days passed. The sea was rough, as usual in the winter. Strong
winds put a great distance between them and the coast. On the third day they
entered the southern current and the water grew deep green, changing from the
slate gray of before. And Sebring came to see him on deck with a basket over
his arm.

“What’s that?” Merlin peered inside the basket. Loaves of
bread lay like brown stones nestled close together.

“Something has been eating our supplies.” Sebring looked
baffled. “Two loaves of bread are missing. The fairy cakes are half gone, and
there are two less frees fruit than before. Have you been taking extra while my
back is turned?”

“No, of course not. Let me check.” Merlin went to the galley
and sure enough, the supplies were lower than they should be. “Rats?” he
hazarded.

“Perhaps. I think we better search the ship. If there is a
rat, we’ll have to kill it.”

Merlin started aft while Sebring started fore. As he worked
his way methodically across the stern, Merlin caught sight of a quick movement
from the corner of his eye. It was dark below deck, and so anything could be
hiding in the shadows. He drew his sword and lunged.

“Stop! No, please don’t hurt me!”

He pulled the blade back just in time. The point quivered at
the hollow of Kyla’s pale throat. Was it a vision? He’d imagined her so many
times these past few days his cock was sore from his rubbing it. And just the
sight of her stiffened it again. His breath quickened.

Her mouth opened, closed, then she grinned and said, “Surprise!
Uh, would you be so kind as to lower your blade, sir? It’s Merlin, right? I saw
you and your brother both together and could hardly tell you apart. But I’m
sure you’re the grumpy elf that came to the castle. Well, don’t you recognize
me? Aren’t you going to say hello?”

For a second he wanted to at least prick her hard enough to
take that grin off her face. What was she doing here? His cock didn’t seem to
care, it was so hard it was nearly agony. He gritted his teeth. “I am not
grumpy,” he heard himself say.

She blinked, and then, raising her hand, pushed the knife
point away from her throat. “Do you mind terrible pointing that somewhere
else?” She paused and boldly ran her gaze down his chest to his cock. He felt
her gaze like hot coals and his cock, damn that traitorous appendage, gave a
massive twitch. Her eyebrows shot up. “And point that thing somewhere else
too,” she said, her voice bubbling with laughter.

That did it. He grabbed her arm and dragged her toward his
room. He was going to teach that insolent little fairy a lesson she’d not soon
forget.

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