Gerraint awoke in a tent, or maybe a pavilion, it seemed hard to tell, lying on his stomach the way he was. He knew it was red, but he imagined some rather odd things for Britain in that age—namely silk. He wondered very briefly if maybe he died and this was his next life, but he really only had one thought. “Enid?” He could not speak loud. “Enid?”
“I am here.”
Gerraint heard, but could not see her. He tried to turn his head, but his shoulder felt immobilized. His leg also seemed to be in some kind of traction. And every part of his body hurt, except his little toe on his right foot, he decided. “I’ve been having bad dreams, really nightmares.” He tried to turn his head a little more, but she stood out of sight. “Really, I would be ashamed to tell you what I dreamed. I was awful. I doubted you. I’m sorry.” He began to cry softly. “I love you, and I will never doubt you. Not for real.” He began to weep and found his head cradled by Enid who also wept. She kissed his head and then very gently moved to an angle where she could touch her lips to his.
“Mother.” A woman stood in the doorway. Enid stayed seated in a high-backed chair at the woman’s insistence. Lord Pinewood stood beside the woman dressed in his hunter’s green. “Mother.” the woman called again, and Gerraint woke up just enough to offer no objections. Danna came, and the goddess slipped out of the braces that had Gerraint immobilized. She stood and acknowledged Rhiannon and commanded one thing.
Rhiannon stood with something in her arms that looked like a giant, translucent caterpillar. She petted the beast like one might pet a kitten, and she talked. “It was Meryddin. He told me about a good young couple he was very concerned about. He said the man was upright, but the wife had a wandering eye for the men. He asked to borrow the incubus for only a short while and convinced me if the woman could only see herself and the harm she was doing she might be cured and become faithful and they might be a happy couple. I knew the incubus was a danger. Given time, it will drive a person to madness, insanity and death, but Meryddin was persuasive, and I thought if only for a short time it might do what he proposed.”
Danna interrupted. “But he lied to you, and you believed him. He meant it for Goreu all along. Goreu came to believe Enid was the one who had the wandering eye and the wandering hands and that she was betraying her wedding vows and betraying him in the worst sort of way. Yet he still loved her and would not give up on her though he was conflicted about what to do. He considered locking her away, and at the same time he threw himself into combat, thinking if he was killed, Enid might be happy.”
“After months alone and then months keeping innocent Enid prisoner, with no one the wiser, Lord Pinewood found him on the first day of their journey. He flew without rest to Lake Vivane to plead with me, saying Gerraint had something on his back. I thought it nothing, but his pleading was so earnest, at last I thought to see for myself. Thus I found him, the incubus on his back.”
“Merlin.” Danna spat the word and turned to Enid. “A djin is a creature that delights in torturing and tormenting humans. They feed off the fear and pain and in the end consume the poor human soul. Meryddin is one quarter djin. The chance to ruin Gerraint’s happiness in just this sort of demented way says to me that he has made peace with that quarter of himself.”
“I helped,” Rhiannon admitted in a moment of full confession. “He came to me in agony, and I helped him see that he was not to blame for his birth and he need not give in to the evil. He is gifted, and can use those gifts for good.”
“Oh, Rhiannon. When will you stop falling prey to every sad face with big puppy-dog eyes?”
“But we got it in time,” Rhiannon said. “Gerraint held out for a long time. I am sure he had help through time, and he loves Enid so very much.”
“Not the point. The point is what to do about Meryddin, and I think for now we do nothing. We watch him, but don’t let on that he is being watched. If he learned and does good, we leave him alone. Goreu may have been an isolated case. He does not know who Goreu is, but he has an instinctive fear of him. For now, we wait and see.”
“I made all that happened seem like a bad dream, a nightmare for him,” Rhiannon said. “I had to do it while the incubus was still attached. You know even a goddess cannot touch the mind of the Kairos in that way. But hopefully the bad dream will fade in time.”
“I, on the other hand, will not be able to hide the truth of what happened forever. He will remember sooner or later, and then I suspect there will be some decisions to make. Rhiannon, you understand some of it will fall on your head.”
“I will accept my punishment, only don’t be mad at me.”
Danna stepped forward and gave Rhiannon a kiss on the cheek. “Just stay away from the wrong sorts of men.” She turned to Enid. “Did you understand all this?”
Enid nodded. “It was not Gerraint. It was that incubus telling him stories that were not true and making him believe the stories. But now I have him back to me and he thinks it was all just a bad dream. Yes?”
“Yes, and Meryddin?”
“He has always scared me.” Enid shivered. “As long as I don’t have to watch him.”
Danna was glad to hear no desire for revenge. “You need not watch him. Pinewood?”
“Day and night,” Pinewood said, with a slight bow.
Danna nodded and got back into the harness and braces. She went away and Gerraint came back to mumble that he felt thirsty. Enid gladly rushed to bring him some water.
Arthur, Percival, terrain and Uwaine are called to the north. The Scots are acting like maybe they overcame the Picts and are now looking south. They want control of Hadrian’s wall, and maybe a good slice of fertile, sparsely populated British soil as well. Don’t miss it. Happy Reading.