Sir Fridolf was standing on the shore when the king returned. “We have an agreement,” the King told him. “The nyads have a report of a miss-ing herder and dead stock. They are going to check further and see what they can find out about who killed them. But it seems most likely that it was Sir Joopi and his friends. The nyads also have a report of men around the Island Castle. Our northern people believe it is haunted. Sibelius and the shee helped the nyads drive pirates from that fortress some years ago. So we are going there now,” he and Fridolf walked back to their mounts while Sibelius called his down from the sky and mounted. “However I am reliably informed that getting to the location of the castle and getting into the castle are two different things. The nyads and their unicorns will meet us there tomorrow evening and help us get into the castle if we need it.” “Hmm,” was all Sir Fridolf said, as they mounted up and started off.
The scouts were far in front of them now. Sir Fridolf rode to catch them and explain what was happening. “We are going to a place that the locals call the Island Castle,” he said. “The shee know where it is, so for now we will take our direction from them, instead of the other way around.” “Well the tracks seem to be going in the same direction that we have noticed them going in,” said one of the scouts, “so that’s alright with us.” They got back on their horses then, going much faster now that they were following the shee.
The men continued as they had been going. At noon, they took a little break for some travel rations and again a rest for the horses and the pegasi. The sidshee and the king’s warriors were getting friendly now. Some of the humans were talking and joking with some of the sidshee along the path. The humans were careful not to touch the shee, as the human warriors were much heavier and stronger then the shee. But, as conversations often did, the subject soon turned to where they were going.
One of the shee said, “I think Sibelius is leading us to the Island Castle. You know, some people believe that place is haunted.” “By what?” another shee asked. “They say some of the pirates are still there,” the first shee answered. “What pirates?” one of the humans asked. “The whole area was infested with them at one time,” the first shee said. “It is said that they killed many nyad herders and stole their animals.” At that point, Sibelius called out. It was time to remount and move on.
Though the humans did mount up, they kept asking each other, “What do you mean, haunted?” But they had no answer among themselves. That only served to make the men more suspicious. Better a wrong answer, they thought, then no answer at all.
It was late afternoon when they approached the castle. They caught glimpses of it through the trees before they got there. It was an almost snow white castle with water around all sides. Waves were crashing on the rocks below the castle. They too were snow white, with salt encrusted on them. This was definitely the sea.
Sibelius again urged his mount to the ground. “We are here,” he said to King Jehan. “Yes, I can see,” said the king. “But how do we get into the castle to look for our men. If they got any kind of food and supplies there they could hole up for weeks and we would never see them. How did you get them out before?”
“At first the shee attacked them from the air,” Sibelius reported. “Our slingers are very accurate at that sort of thing. But in the end we had no choice but to lay siege to them. They did not have a lot of supplies nor fresh drinking water. I have discovered that pirates are not known for that.” He turned and removed the tack from his mount and then tethered him so he could graze the new shoots on the trees around. Then he continued the conversation with the King.
“The nyads and their mounts were very helpful with this,” he said. “When they attempted to break out the unicorns rammed their little boats. Most of them were sunk. But some few did get through. When that happen-ed the pirates ducked under the trees and stayed there for some time. They managed to work their way out of the forest that way. We cannot see them under the trees, you know.” “Yes, I do,” said the King.
In the meantime, Sir Fridolf had set men looking around for anything they could use. Some men saw where there had been two boats up under the trees. “But now there is only one,” one of the men reported. “And that one is not whole and it does not have any oars.”
“Aye,” said Sir Fridolf. “It looks like the nyad queen called it when she said that we would have trouble getting into the castle. Well there is no help for it then, we’ll have to patch the boat the best we can and make oars for it. I’ll tell the king, you men get tools ready.”
Sir Fridolf reported to the king. “Well the queen knew what she was talking about. Our men found only one boat and it badly damaged. And it has no oars. We’ll patch it as best we can and try to make oars.” “Well we have until tomorrow night,” the king said. “The nyad queen promised us that she would surely be here by then.”
So the men cut trees and did what they could to plane the lumber and make it smooth. They cut the boards to length and tried to patch the boat with them. But it did not look good. The boards were still very rough. “And I don’t think it will repel the water,” Sir Fridolf said. “It doesn’t look water tight to me either,” the king said. “But I think we have done all we can do for tonight. It’s time for us to call it a day.”
The shee had taken guard duty while the men were working. Now they too prepared for the night. There would be a couple of sentinels on duty all night. For now the rest of the men could sleep unless they were called during the night. The same humans who were talking with the shee warriors earlier that day sought them out again. When they found them one of the humans asked, “What do you mean the castle is haunted?” he asked the closest shee. “First let me ask you,” the shee said, “What is your name?”
“Shishak,” the man said. “Well, Shishak,” the 6’ fairy said. “I am Borus. My father fought in the battle of the Island Castle. He told me that when he was here he could hear the ghosts of the dead nyad herders whistle through the wall. He said that they did that to keep the men who have killed them awake. You know that they are all women, and women can do some strange things.” “Aye,” that’s true, another shee said. “In fact,” Borus continued, “We shee know that nyad females can whistle away dreams. They disrupt the dream that you might be having and send it away from you, so that you can never have it. And if you are dreaming of satisfying a female, that means you will never satisfy one again as long as you live.” At the end he spoke low and slow. It made the men lean in to hear him. And it made them worry all the more wether this catastrophe might happen to them.
“Is this true?” Shishak asked. “True,” Borus said. “In fact it is said that they can steal your manhood from you.” The men’s eyes got big and they were more worried and frightened over that. “Come,” Shishak said. “We ’ve got to go to bed now.” As they left, they were clearly still worried about that. The shee waited until the men were completely out of sight. Then they began to laugh softly among themselves. None of what they had told the men was true.
In Shyshell Bay, the queen found everything as her herders had told her. They could see the bones of the dead female unicorn. The father herder came up to Queen Jovita. “Your majesty,” he said. “We are very sorry to report that one of your female unicorns is dead, and three of my daughters are missing, believed destroyed by men.” “Be relieved father,” she said to the old male, “two of your daughters are here with me. They came to report the situation to me. Show me the bones of the dead unicorn.” The old man saw his daughters in the entourage of the Queen. He nodded to them and showed the Queen. “This way, your majesty,” he said. The dead bones of the female unicorn were now clearly visible where they had settled on the ocean floor. Fish scavengers were clearly disposing of the dead meat. The Queen looked for a moment.
“These,” she indicated the herders, who came forward, “told me of their sister’s disappear-ance. Which of your daughters is missing?” “Anpurna,” he said, “my oldest.” The queen’s scouts looked around more. But there was nothing other than those things that were out of place. They came back to her shaking their heads. “We are sorry for the loss of your daughter,” she told the father. “But for now we have urgent business elsewhere.” She gave the signal to ride and her entourage rode, except for the two other herder girls. They stayed with their father. They were back to Big Rock Bay before the setting of the sun. They moved on a little beyond that before they had to stop for the night.