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December 02, 2023, 07:12:48 PM
Marc-- thank you!

Kelric's Adventures: Chapter 12 Of Mermaids and Virgins

Started by Shiral, August 02, 2018, 12:02:52 PM

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Chapter 12 Of Mermaids and Virgins

         "It's very pretty, " Kelric answered truthfully. But he was glad when it was gone, and he could return his attention to his reassuring toy fleet.

          Briony and the Queen retreated farther up the beach start building the village, the queen yelping a bit when the puppy stopped to vigorously shake the water from his sleek coat.

        Kelric continued to pull his boats this way and that for the next half-hour or so, but could not shake his uneasiness about the little ship they'd seen. He glanced out to sea and was relieved to find the horizon completely empty of boats. Instead, he watched the waves several feet beyond the breakers. Just for a moment, he saw a seal's dark sleek head break the surface. The seal watched Papa and the others at their water play for a minute or two before ducking down and disappearing beneath the sea again. Gulls were flying here and there in the pale blue sky, swift and effortless. From this distance, Kelric thought them beautiful, and was always surprised when he saw gulls closer up and saw how homely they could look.

       What a beautiful thing it must be, to be able to fly! Kelric held out his arms to either side and flapped experimentally. Gulls just glided along, not looking as if they were working at all, but flying must be more tiring than it looked. He flapped harder and jumped up into the air, only to come down again disappointingly fast. Kelric stuck his fists in his armpits and pumped his elbows up and down with all his strength as he jumped up again - and immediately returned to earth with a splash.

         Mummy laughed again, very gently. "I'm afraid it's no use, Kootik, my darling. People just aren't meant to fly," she told him in a voice full of amusement.

           "Why not?" Kelric was deeply disappointed.

           "We're too heavy, and our arms aren't strong enough to lift us into the air," she told him. "Not even when we're children. And we don't have nice big wings with feathers like birds do, or a tail to balance us."

          "Oh." Kelric felt foolish. He looked up at where Briony sat with the queen, hoping that she hadn't noticed. If she had, she'd tease him about trying to fly for weeks to come. Fortunately his sister was far too interested in her own activities to notice what he'd been doing. He noticed that whenever Stripes did something clumsy, she immediately pretended she had not done it, and stopped for a quick paw wash. He tilted his head back and began to turn around in slow circles on the spot, watching the sky wheel around and around him. He turned faster, holding his arms out to either side, laughing as he spun. Then all at once he sat down hard and yelped as an incoming wavelet soaked him to the waist. His landing caused a small tidal wave, making a very choppy sea for the little Rhafallia and all his smaller boats.

         Mummy helped him up at once. "You really DID want to swim today didn't you, darling?" she sighed indulgently. "And now you're about halfway there, at least in terms of being wet. Do you want to go up to the Pavilion and change into some dry clothes?"

            Kelric nodded and squished up the beach beside Mummy, towing his boats. The long string of boats was laid out in the sun to dry off before they were put back in the basket. The dry sand clumped unpleasantly on his feet, in between his toes and on mummy's too, and his tunic left a little trail of wet drops in the sand behind them. The tunic itself felt very cold against his legs, and set cold water runnelling down his legs in an unpleasant way. Nevertheless, he and Mummy paused to admire the village Briony and the queen had built. The buildings were just low mounds in the sand, but they were set in neat rows, some of them showing the mark of Briony's small starfish hands, others showing the imprint of Araxie's longer slimmer fingers. Each house had been decorated with the shells and little rocks the two had found earlier along the water's edge. Just now both Briony and the queen were paving the wide main "street" with little bits of flat white shells, patting them into place at the base of the largest of the mounds of sand.

       "We built Rhemuth, see Mummy?" Briony said proudly. She pointed a stubby forefinger at the central mound of sand. "That's Rhemuth Castle."

            "That's not a castle -- it just looks like a big pile of sand!" Kelric objected.

           "Kelric, hush!" Mummy scolded. "Yes I see you have darling," she told Briony, seeing her lower lip stick out ominously. "And this street here with the white shells is the Avenue of the Kings, isn't it? But where's the river?"

           Briony pointed to a narrow ditch that had been scooped out along the right hand edge of the sandy little city. "There it is!"

          "Oh yes, there it is. How silly of me not to see it."

          "There's no water in it, though," Kelric objected.

          "It's just a pretend river," Briony told him coolly, eyes half closed. "Don't you understand anything, Kelric?" Her eyes widened again as she really looked at him, and she put on a smile of purest evil glee.

            "You have a wet bo-o-o-t-tom, you have a wet bo-o-o-o-t-tom!" she sang, pointing at his dripping tunic.

             "Are you looking forward to motherhood yet, my lady?" Mummy asked the queen ruefully. "Or have my delightful children cured you of the idea?"

          Kelric glanced at the queen who had been quietly laughing as she watched the whole thing. She was still laughing too hard to speak, but shook her head no.

           "I think I know two children who have spent enough time in the hot sun and need some dry clothes and some food," Mummy said. "Our midday meal should be ready by now I believe."

           The King and the other men had come back , and were sitting about in their shirtsleeves in the pavilion, talking and laughing while drying their wet hair with towels. Bishop Duncan was polishing his ring against one shirtsleeve, his cross lying on the straw matting at his feet. The servants moved among them, setting out a large cloth and dishes of food.

         "So Kelric you decided to go swimming after all?" Papa asked, grinning when he came into the pavilion hand in hand with Mummy.

           "Only from the waist down," Mummy said smiling. "He was spinning around, and when he stopped, he felt so dizzy, that he plopped right down in the water. We'll be back when his lordship has had a change of clothes."

           Kelric sniffed hungrily at the delicious smell of roast chicken as Mummy led him toward a little curtained-off corner of the pavilion. He willingly shed his clammy tunic and let Mummy towel him off without wriggling before she pulled a clean green tunic over his head. Breakfast was several hours behind him now, and he felt very empty and eager to satisfy his hunger. He didn't even mind the sting when Mummy brushed the now dry sand off his feet and ankles. She let her own skirts fall back to their natural length and retied her girdle before they rejoined the others.

         Papa and the King had installed themselves to either side of the queen who was enthroned in a low sand chair. The greyhound puppy too, had been toweled off and his damp, fuzzy coat stood on end as he sat attentively at his mistress' side, watching the food parade by, his black nose quivering. Another low chair had been set out for Mummy. She glanced at the chair and then at the King in question, but he smiled, shook his head and gestured for her to sit down. Then the King grinned, beckoned to Kelric next and patted an empty space of straw matting to his right, so that Kelric was sandwiched between the King and Lord Dhugal. Briony sat on the other side of the cloth between Bishop Duncan and Uncle Seandry.

       "You didn't stay in the water for very long, I must say," the queen told the King.

       "The ocean is much colder here than it was in Dunluce," the King explained, even as he picked out a chicken drumstick and some slices of chicken breast and piled them up on a trencher of day-old bread for Kelric.

       "It's a month later in the season, and we're a good bit farther north of Dunluce, you silly man," the queen told the King tartly. "Of course the water was going to be colder." But she smiled at him as she said it, and by the expression on her face, Kelric knew she didn't think the King was being at all silly.

          "Oh, is that it?" his godfather sounded disappointed. "I thought the water was colder because I didn't have any blonde mermaids swimming with me." He looked at the queen in a way that Kelric didn't understand completely, even though he'd seen Papa look at Mummy that way sometimes.

             Once again Queen Araxie blushed very pink, although she kept smiling.
"You _were_ swimming with Duke Alaric," she pointed out. "If swimming with a fair haired person is all that's needed."

           "Tt's not at all the same." The King grinned across at Papa. "Alaric isn't -"
"I should very much hope I'm  not the same," Papa said with a playful growl, looking as if he'd enjoyed the whole exchange between the royal pair. "No one has ever compared me to a mermaid in my life."

           "Or any other kind of maid," the King replied, looking sly and amused.

           "Did you really see a mermaid at Dunluce, Godfather?" Kelric asked, amazed.

           "Oh yes, and I swam with her several times," the King assured him gravely.

          "Only a King can hope to see a mermaid swim in Dunluce Cove, and then only if he's alone and  very  lucky," the queen told Kelric, her cheeks very flushed. She busied herself with feeding her puppy a tidbit of chicken meat.

            "I thought mermaids were only pretend." Kelric knit his brows in puzzlement. As always with adults, he was sure that there was some important part to this conversation that he didn't quite understand and they did. The amusement in Papa's face was a sure give away.

             "I saw a mermaid on this very beach not long ago," Uncle Seandry said with a perfectly straight face as he gave Briony a large, deep red strawberry.

            "Really Uncle Seandry?" Briony demanded, her eyes very round and curious.   "What was she doing?"

            "She was sitting on those rocks over there, while she sang and looked out to sea," Uncle Seandry replied. "Another strawberry, sweetheart?"

            "Sean, you and your stories," Mummy scolded, even while she laughed. "You know the children believe everything you say. Mermaids, indeed!"

         "What happened to the Mermaid?" Briony asked.

          "She swam away."

          "Is that all she did?" Lord Dhugal laughed as he tore off a hunk of fresh bread from the loaf Mummy passed to him, and tore another piece off for Kelric.

          "We-ell, she did say she didn't much like knights, and preferred sailors," Uncle Seandry said ruefully.

          "Just as well Derry," the King answered, laughing. "It would never have worked. Your mail would have rusted."

          "You couldn't have held your breath long enough, either," Papa pointed out. "And your Earldom isn't even on the coast."
All the men laughed, even Bishop Duncan, although he looked vaguely guilty.

          "Ladies present, my lords," the queen rebuked, but very mildly. "If you gentlemen can't behave, Lady Richenda and the children and I will have to excuse ourselves."

           Kelric caught his breath, knowing that he hadn't understood the half of what had been said, but knew that he didn't want to have to miss eating lunch with the men.

           "I'm sorry, love. We'll be good," the King said. He took the queen's slim hand in his own and kissed the back of it and then the palm.

           "Oh yes, I see how good you'll be," she teased softly, although she smiled down at him with warm, loving eyes, and did not withdraw her hand from his.

          All of a sudden, the question he'd wanted to ask earlier came back to Kelric. He glanced over at Papa who had a mouthful of chicken at present. In any case, Papa didn't appreciate being asked lots of questions while he ate. So Kelric turned to Bishop Duncan who was taking a swig of the pale yellow wine that accompanied the food.

         "Bishop Duncan, what's a 'carnal level'?"

          Bishop Duncan's face turned bright red and he choked on his cup of wine so hard that both Uncle Seandry and Papa had to pound him on the back as he spluttered. Briony watched with very round blue eyes, as mystified as he was by the Bishop's reaction.

          "Kelric Alain Morgan!" Mummy gasped staring at him open mouthed, At least she sounded shocked rather than angry as she had been yesterday when she'd caught him playing with the breakfast honey. To Kelric's right Lord Dhugal had collapsed backward on the straw matting, positively howling with laughter. Even the King's face was bright red, and he was blinking rather fast. The queen, blushing nearly as red, was stuffing the happy puppy's mouth full of chicken.

          Kelric was absolutely bewildered. Why did his simplest questions set adults off this way?

         "Ask your father!" Bishop Duncan blurted when he could talk again. He blotted his watery eyes with his sleeve.

           " Coward", Kelric heard Papa say to Bishop Duncan, although he wasn't certain he'd heard him say it aloud or just mind to mind. Papa was eyeing Bishop Duncan with both concern and amusement.
"Why Duncan, I'm amazed. I thought you  liked  explaining things to children," Papa teased, looking on the verge of a laughing fit.

         "Some things should only be explained to children by their parents," Bishop Duncan answered. Kelric was relieved to see he was beginning to smile, though. He was afraid that he'd truly offended Bishop Duncan.

          "You, sit up!" Bishop ordered the still howling Lord Dhugal. "Or I'll make you  explain to Kelric about carnal levels."

          Lord Dhugal worked his way up onto his elbows, somewhat calmer although his face was still filled with hilarious light.
"But Father, what would I know about carnal levels?" Lord Dhugal gasped. "I couldn't possibly explain it to him - I'm a bishop's son and the last virgin knight in Gwynedd!"

          "Nicely sidestepped, Dhugal," the King said, beginning to laugh himself now.

          "But surely you'd like to explain about carnal levels, My Prince?"

           "Oh no, I couldn't possibly deprive you of that honor, Alaric."

             "None of you are going to explain them to him quite yet," Mummy said firmly. "Kootik, you're far too young to find out about-about that."

You can have a sound mind in a healthy body--Or you can be a nanonovelist!



Kids say the darnedest things, and apparently that doesn't change across time or universes!
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)


I do love Kelric. His view of the world is so unique  and so much fun. I love his attempts to fly. I   remember  jumping off a hassock  and trying to fly. Didn't  work out for me either
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance


I sense Alaric and Kelson will envy their unmarried companions once their wives have finished making it clear what they think of them.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46 v1)


I am laughing right alongside Dhugal. Why do I feel like young Kelric was mentally tuning in to the two ladies Evie an Laurna who had been stroling along the beach the chapter before.   ;)

Great chapter Shiral.
May your horses have wings and fly!