The king stood at the edge of the sea in the moonlight. He wondered how they would get over it. This was a sort of bay, he realized. There was a large rock in the center of it. As the moon cast a shadow over it, he saw a shadow against it. He realized that it was a nyad on her unicorn. Unicorns would only let nyads ride them because their home was in the sea and so was the nyads. Most of the nyads, for some reason, were female. Most of the unicorns for some reason were male. The king often wondered why. But that was a puzzle for another time.
The nyad by the rock was not aware, at first, that the king was looking at her. She was eating the moss on that side of the rock. It was a delicacy. Then, suddenly, her eye caught sight of him and she realized those piercing blue eyes were looking right at her. She stopped, froze for a moment. She stared right at him and held absolutely still. In her world that was hiding. It was the best she could think of at the moment. She hoped he would think that she had gone and leave himself. But the way those piercing blue eyes kept looking at her eventually told her that would not happen. So she lept again on the back of her mount. He flipped his tail and was gone into the blue depths of their home.
When the nyad began to get to her home, one of the guards stopped her. “Why are you coming in so fast,” the guard asked. “I am fleeing from men,” she said. “What men, the ones in the island castle? Fredalena, tell me.” the guard asked. “He was near where the boat was left. He saw me and kept staring at me. I have never seen men so close-up before. I tried to hide from him, but it didn’t work. So I fled.” “The queen will want to know about this,” the guard said. “Picket your mount and let’s go.” “Oh Drusi, do we have too?” Fredalena asked. Drusi was actually her older sister. “Yes,” Drusi ordered, “now do as I said and let’s go.”
So the unicorn was put on a picket line, one that was long by human standards. He had to be picked near the surface so that he could surface to breath. Then the two nyads swam off to the queen’s palace. One the way past they passed her consort, one of the few male nyads. The guard at the portal challenged them. “Who goes there?” “Drusi, of the border guard,” Drusi sounded off. “And the other,” the guard asked. “She is my sister,” Drusi said. “She tells me she has seen a human.”
“Go in,” said the guard. “The queen will want to know about this right away. She is in the nursery.” Indeed the Queen was there, resting after her labor in having laid a blue egg. Now it was resting in its cradle until it hatched. Drusi and Fredalena were allowed in immediately. For the Queen had made it clear that she wanted any news about humans immediately. Fredalena happened to see the egg in the cradle as she walked in. “A blue egg,” she said, surprised, and in wonder and a little awe. Most nyad eggs were white, and hatched out females. Blue eggs hatched out males. “Please, your highness, forgive my little sister. She has only seen white eggs laid. We have a lot of sisters,” Drusi begged. “What have you come for?” the Queen asked. “My sister reports that she has seen a human.”
“You, come here,” the Queen indicated Fredalena. “Where did you see this human.” “In Big Rock bay,” she said. “That is not where they were reported by the herders. There were reported to be in Shyshell Bay,” she said. “Shyshell bay is south of where my sister saw hers,” Drusi commented. “Yes,” said the Queen, “so they are coming toward us.” She stopped and thought a little more.
“In the morning,” she finally said, “We shall go out and examine Big Rock Bay and see if the men are still there. Then if necessary we will go to Shyshell Bay and see what might be discovered about what happened there.”
At the castle in Shinna, the queen, for some reason, started to cry again. “What is it now, your highness?” Lady Shann asked. “I don’t really know,” the queen said. “I was just thinking how lovely my boy is, and then I started to cry.” Lady Tibor nodded agreement. This was the way it so often was with the Queen these days. No one knew for sure why. They just knew that it would continue.
In the morning the nyad queen was ready to ride. Just as she mounted her favorite unicorn a male nyad came dashing up on his unicorn. “Your highness,” he said. “There have been men spotted at the Island Castle.” “And what is your concern in this?” the queen asked with tack. She thought she already knew. “My herds are near there and my herders keeping an eye on them.”
“That is north of here,” she said. “We are going to the south, to Big Rock Bay and Shyshell bay. There has already been trouble there.” “Will you come?” the male asked. “Two of my wives are heavy with eggs. I do not want them so distressed that they lay early.”
“I will,” said the Queen, “when I am finished to the south.”
They headed to Big Rock bay. When they got there scouts went on ahead. They poked their heads up out of the water on the other side of the rock. They saw the pegasi in the air first. For the sidshee were taking off, getting ready for this day’s tracking. The scouts reported to the queen. “The men are still here,” one of them said. “And there are shee with them.” The queen urged her mount forward to see for herself. The scouts were right, the men were breaking camp and there were shee in the air above them.
The queen descended on her mount. Then she gave the signal and all the nyads with their mounts rose together. The mounts all blew together. That was the nyad signal that they were there from time immemorial. “Nyads,” one of the shee told Sibelius, and pointed. He turned and looked, and they were there. He urged his mount down with many hits to its shoulders. “King Jehan,” he called as he came. “King Jehan,” he called out again. When the king looked, he pointed to the water.
Sibelius got off his pegasus and ran to the water. “The nyads are here,” he said. Indeed, the queen urged her mount into the shallowest water it would go into. The queen called out as loud as she could, “You shee,” she said. “My name is Sibelius, the shee knight called back. He accompanied that with a bow. Then he said, “His lordship here is King Jehan of Shinna.” The Queen immediately addressed herself to him. “I am Queen Jovita of the Nyad,” she said. “I demand to know what you are doing here?”
“We did not know we were so close to your borders ma’am,” King Jehan responded. “Please forgive us if we have intruded.” While she was there the Queen looked around and took a deep breath. There were no wagons of unicorn horns and no smell of cooking unicorn meat. “Your highness,” she said to King Jehan as was polite. “We have had reports of men being here. We have had one of our herds to the south raided. One of our herders is missing and one of our breeding mares has been killed and eaten. We have come to see if the pirates we fear have returned?”
“Your highness,” Sibelius said, again bowing. “I can assure you, these men are no pirates. My people helped you drive the pirates, who had killed so many of your people and took so many unicorn horns from the Island Castle where they had their headquarters. I was just a young warrior, but I remember. We shee attacked from above and your people kept them besieged from below. When they attempted to escape, your people attacked their boats so that only a few escaped.”
“I remember,” said the Queen. “On the second day a young shee warrior fell from his pegasus into the bay. He would have drown if a young princess of our people had not urged her mount to him. Do you remember what happened next.” “The unicorn put his horn through my mail and lifted me high enough out of the water so that I could climb on to a rock. Then my mount landed and water got splashed into her face, stirred up by his wings. She laughed and splashed some water back at me. I laughed, mounted and was airborne again.” The Queen laughed when she heard that. “So you are that Sibelius,” she said. “And you are that princess,” he responded. “Come,” she said. “let us talk on the big rock here.”
“We don’t have a way to get over there,” King Jehan pointed out. “Swim out as far as you can,” the Queen said. “My people will pick you up and bring you.” The king took Sibelius by the hand, for the man was light of weight and would be too easily pulled out to sea. When the king swam out as far as he could, the unicorn of one of her warriors swam near. He extended his fluke and the king grabbed a hold. In a few seconds he towed the men to the rock. They let go of the beastie and grabbed a rock and pulled their way to the top, were it was not so moist. The Queen remained at the bottom of the rock, where she was more comfortable.
Since she was the leader her, she began. “We had a report that you were here. We also had a report that one of our breeding females was killed and one of our herders too. This was just a little ways to the south of here. Are you responsible?” “No ma’am,” said King Jehan. “But I believe that I may know who is. I am chasing three men. They are great criminals among my people. They raped my own queen at the beginning of last winter.” “Does she live?” the queen asked. “Yes,” said the king, “but she barely survived.” “Then you have to forgive me if I am more concerned over my herder. She is dead.”
“The herder was a female?” King Jehan asked for his own information. “Yes,” said the Queen. “Males among my people are rare. Their main use is for breeding purposes and they are kept safe for that reason. They do not take part in such activities like herding and fighting and anything that could get them killed.”
At this point Sibelius interrupted. “Ma’am, forgive me, but we have evidence that the men he is after have also killed a banshee. So we are assisting in the hunting of these men, to see that they are punished for that too.”
“Such men,” said the Queen, “seem like they are very like the pirates that we had trouble with. They were the men who had their capitol at the Island Castle. You and I both remember fighting them there and driving them off.” “Yes, Ma’am,” Sibelius said. “you reminded me.”
“Can you take us to this Island Castle?” the king asked. “We can guide you,” Sibelius said. “But getting to it again is another matter. When the pirates left it they left in small boats. The nyads and their unicorns sank a lot of them. Only a very few survived, and I think fewer of them are useful anymore.” “I believe so,” Queen Jovita said. “But we too would want some reassurance that when these men are captured, they will be punished.”
“Of that I promise you,” the king said. “I want to go further to the south,” the Queen said. “That should take less than half a day. Then we will go north to the Island Castle and meet you there in two days. At that time it will be possible to know what is needed to get your men into the castle to discover if those men are still there. The shee will guide you there and we will rendezvous there by tomorrow evening.”
“That sounds good to me, your highness,” the king said. “We can do it,” said Sibelius. “Alright then,” the Queen said. “Ocha,” she called one of her people. The indicated nyad brought her mount close. King Jehan and Sibelius dove into the sea. The unicorn again gave them a fluke and towed them in much closer to shore. The king swam easily ashore.