Air: Merlin’s Chalice

People are never what they seem.

Scai thought she was safe in her little Welsh village—until the people turned on her, threatening to burn her as a witch.

Scai thought that knights in shining armor were handsome young men—until an old man with funny ideas rescued her.

Scai thought magic didn’t exist—until she learned she was born with it.

Scai thought everyone showed their true face—until she saw otherwise.

But Scai not a witch, despite her magic. Knights come in all ages and you don’t want to mess with one, no matter how old they are. There are people who want all the power they can get, and are willing to kill for it. And sometimes it’s worth it to risk everything you’ve ever known because you can discover amazing things, meet wonderful people, have fantastic adventures, and best of all, learn the Truth.

Sir Dagonet was sitting up in bed, a glass of ale in his hand, a laugh on his lips. “Ah, Scai, come in, come in, wot?” the old knight said. His voice was still raspy with congestion but otherwise sounded remarkably energetic.

I did as I was bade. But it just didn’t make sense. How could this be? When I’d left he had practically been on his deathbed, and now…

“Scai, I’d like you to meet Bridget. She’s a healer, don’t you know? Heard we were looking for one, and she found me just like that. Remarkable ability, wot?”

For the first time, I noticed the young woman sitting in my chair. Closing the door behind me, I advanced into the room as the woman stood up.

She was younger than me, and yet she had such a strong presence that I could hardly believe that I hadn’t seen her right away. Her hair was bright red, her eyes a brilliant blue, and the freckles that were splattered over her nose and cheeks gave her a childlike glow even though she had to be in her late teens.

“I’m so happy to meet you, Scai. Sir Dagonet was just telling me about you. Oh, but…” She paused and cocked her head a little to the side, staring wide–eyed at me like a little sparrow. “Have we met? No, that could not possibly be. I certainly would have remembered you. I’ve got an excellent memory for faces. Names I sometimes have a problem with, but faces I always remember.” She stopped and took a breath. “Yours looks extraordinarily familiar.”

If I’d wanted to say something, I couldn’t, for her rapid–fire delivery. There was something niggling in the back of my mind, but it slipped away as I struggled not to laugh at this girl. I finally got a hold of myself and said, “No. I’m certain we haven’t met. And please excuse me for being so straightforward, but you’re just so…familiar and well, vibrant. There’s no other word for it.”

And it was true: I’d never met anyone like Bridget before. Everything about her was bright and filled with energy. But what was it about her that seemed so familiar? It wasn’t possible that we’d ever met before.

“Vibrant.” Bridget giggled. “That’s a good word for it. I like that. No one’s ever called me vibrant before.”

“Bridget is strongly tied to the element of fire, don’t you know?” Sir Dagonet croaked out.

“Fire? Yes, that makes perfect sense!”

Bridget giggled again. “It’s how I heal the sick. Although my brothers say that I’m too full of fire, too impetuous. I like to think of myself as enthusiastic. Now you, on the other hand…” She leaned back and contemplated me for a moment. “You must be tied to the element of air.”

“Yes, but how did you know?” I asked. A jolt of fear hit me as if Bridget had just struck me with lightning.

Bridget waved away my worry with a laugh. “Sir Dagonet told me. He was telling me all about your journey here, how it rained and rained for days. You poor things! You must have been so cold and absolutely drenched. I just hate the rain. I won’t go out when it’s raining if I can help it. My brothers laugh. Of course, it’s because I can’t stand water or being wet—you know, fire and water just don’t mix. Well, but you are…” She closed her eyes for a moment, and took in a deep breath through her nose as if she was smelling something wonderful. “You are like a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day. So refreshing.”

That made me laugh. “Refreshing? And no one’s ever called me that before.”

“An excellent description!” Sir Dagonet agreed wholeheartedly.

“But I wish I knew where I’ve seen you. It’s just not like me at all not to be able to place a face,” Bridget began, but the door opened and Dylan came into the room, soundly dousing all of the good feelings flowing back and forth between me and Bridget.

“Scai… Oh! I beg your pardon,” he said, coming to a stop in front of Bridget.

I turned, forcing the smile to stay put on my face. It was so tempting to scowl at Dylan when I wanted so much to give him a piece of my mind. But we had a guest, so I held my tongue. It was also a little difficult to dredge up my earlier anger with him when Bridget was right next to me and Sir Dagonet had a broad smile of his face.

“Dylan, this is Bridget,” I said. “She’s a healer.”

“Oh, excellent! How did you find her?” he asked.

I didn’t. She found Sir Dagonet.” And suddenly what had been teasing the back of my mind popped into the forefront—how had Bridget found Sir Dagonet? He said that she’d just found him on her own. Was that part of her magic?

“I heard you were looking for a healer. You did ask around, did you not?” Bridget asked. “I speak to people all the time, and someone mentioned to me that some strangers were looking for a healer, so I came looking. You know,” she said, turning back to me, “I may talk a lot—and don’t feel bad for laughing at me, I assure you, everyone does—but I do always listen as well.” She turned back to Dylan and raised her arms out to the side saying, “And so, here I am!”

“Ah, I see,” he said, frowning at her. “Well, excellent. Then I did find you a healer after all.” He turned to Sir Dagonet and straightened his shoulders, as if he was going to take all of the credit for bringing Bridget there.

Bridget and my eyes met, and we both just burst out laughing. How ridiculous men were! Dylan hadn’t truly found her. She’d come all on her own, and yet, without a moment’s hesitation, here he was puffing himself up like anything.

Dylan didn’t seem to understand the joke, but Sir Dagonet was chuckling as he drank some more of his ale.

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