Merlin 2:25 “A Raven's Eye, Does Mischief Spy”
A warm water steams in a pool fueled by an aquifer against the high water table, cut into the soil a filled sinkhole the span of a roman bath, it doth steam as does the vast countryside, a blackly foul winged beast called a dragon egresses swiftly from a cave and hunts a roebuck, taking it back to the tunnel leading down into the earth, evil whispers of rocks and dripping water fashion of underground caverns more like sirens darkly forbidding and weary burden of the night loth to those who blithely carry metal. It feasts on a nest of bones well licked clean with a fire in its gut, its talons sink into the fertile muck and mire, sickly are the leeches feeding on sin in pitch-colored darkness.
Elsewhere is that pond, warm and tumultuous, calm and silent, approaches Etain the empress of fire and wrath, contemptible and barefoot wearing an empress’s robe with an imperial sash sewn to it that spans slightly beyond the shoulders, next to the water she slips it from her body and starkly bare sits beside the pool and puts her legs into it, then enters the water completely submerging and rising with her hair free of her face. As a Saracen she is a liar, a killer, and thief, by wits as called the fates some call her demon, alas forsooth her trap is set as she bathes her whiles the water gets warmer.
She is watched so only by two men walking over the rise of a hillock with a row of pine, long below she rests at the water’s edge and stares to them no sooner than they see her, she wades back and with an arm covering her the other treads water and they come to the waterside.
Rick: “How is the water?”
Etain: “The water is always wonderful.”
Rick: “Surely ma’am you have room for another in the water.”
Etain: “I could use the comfort of many men, especially by the likes of you.”
Ross: “Which one?”
Etain: “If the both of you don’t peel and join me I’ll likely follow you home.”
Ross: “You would let us join you stark, how raving mad?”
Etain: “You had better get in here before the water gets cold!”
Ross: “Succor to be the last.”
Rick: “You’re too old to swim Ross.”
Etain laughs at them as the hot spring pool continues to get unnaturally warm while they race to become nude, their gloves and gallant attire, their shirts by sleeves then fumbling boots to bottoms. First Rick jumps into the water with an exclamation of joy through the air, the water is seconds unto boiling and he screams in anguish, struggling to take his life from brazen death he shouts to warn his comrade, but the excitement ignores the danger and his attempt to reach the edge to stop him seems only a competitive dissuasive effort to curtail him joining with a woman in the water. Soon diving to follow the screams are caterwauls with her pulling herself from the water to the ledge by rising from the water as if had steps, slapping their struggling hands, boiled alive they soon scar red with their backs and heads at the surface as she pilfers their pockets.
Etain: “You have my permission to get hot and bothered.”
Otherwhere a naked Nickolas walks thru the countryside as he has for days, naked as a jaybird, smiling and in good sport to the form given him, humming a luxury song and heading on the highroad of the hills as possible.
Between the cave and the water hole, three young adults wait and gossip on and around a boulder in the outland, a woman named Maia, and her academy fellows, two men, Bolak and Sotheli, and approaching nude to pass by them a naked man named Nickolas, they are struck silent by shock and awe, if not replete with the childish humor of frivolity and expression.
Bolak: “When will they be here?”
Maia: “When they finish their chores.”
Sotheli: “It’s going to cost them their studies.”
Bolak: “No worse than you…they have a trade. Army is just another career for the blondes. Have you ever seen them play when it wasn’t windy or dark?”
Maia: “We are judged by the eyes of god…”
As Maia looks on Nickolas, Sotheli turns to see what intrigues her.
Sotheli: “Bolak look…”
Bolak: “Walking-off your pound of flesh sir?”
Nick: “Easiness is a virtue in liberty pace elder liberality.”
Bolak; “Good morrow…”
Nick: “Good morrow.”
Cheerily Nickolas distances himself towards the wretched water, it is plagued by the blood of the two bodies and on side road Etain makes into the woods over a lesser path, but notices Nickolas aberrantly walking in order worth confused, amused, and refused she to anew confrontation tho remembering him from her previous engagement. She spends moments watching him only to vanish as hastily possible whence he happens upon her truth and agony of the cradle of filth. Nickolas peers, looks around, takes and clothes hurriedly, and wherewith runs from the disgusting mess of body soup with questions unanswered and fewer clues.