next morning, Asha performed the usual routine of pretending to be a good wife
and eating food that she didn’t need. Afterwards, she went out to
hunt for the food she actually needed.
Merlin pretended to follow his usual routine and pulled out an ancient book about runes and pretended to study it. And when Asha looked away he cast a spell on his ears. It increased his hearing range so he could hear how far Asha had gone.
Merlin had different plans today. He had always wondered what Asha did during the day. He knew that she probably found young men and slept with them in order to suck the life out of them, but he had never seen a nymph in the act of feeding. And what did she do with the young men after she was done with them? Did she kill them? Or perhaps she erased their memories? Merlin wanted to observe the kind of magic she used. Perhaps he could learn something from her and design a spell that could counter her. He was sure that there were still some magic that she had not shown him. After all, it was a general rule to not show your enemy all of your tricks.
Once Asha had walked far enough, Merlin closed his book, put on his cloak and covered his head with the hood. He was going to follow Asha and find the answers to his questions.
With the increased sensitivity of his ears, he could hear the activities from Marlborough, but as Asha was closer, the crunch of the leaves and twigs from her footsteps was far louder. The usually quiet forest sounded like an orchestra in his ears, with the movements of animals from far away ringing in his ears.
Asha’s footsteps continued steadily. However after about half an hour, she suddenly came to a stop.
“What happened?” Merlin wondered. Had she already found a young man to seduce? If so, Merlin needed to catch up quickly to observe her.
As stealthily as possible, Merlin incased his walking pace.
Soon, he caught up to Asha and he saw that she was standing alone in the sunlight. It could have been a human girl, but her long pointy ears told him otherwise.
“Merlin, your parents have really taught you nothing, have they?” Asha jeered.
Merlin stopped dead in his tracks. Asha might think of him as a fool, but he knew when he’s been had.
“How did you know that I was following you?”
Asha turned to him. The bright sunlight was making her silk dress completely transparent. Merlin’s eyes rested upon the entirety of Asha’s naked body.
“Do you even need to ask?” Asha sighed and stepped closer. “Has your father taught you how to suppress your magic when you want to travel stealthily?”
Merlin shook his head. “Suppressing one’s magic is impo-“
“Look at my eyes,” Asha said. “Do you notice anything?”
At first Merlin thought that she was using this opportunity to seduce him by charging her eyes with magic, but he quickly noticed that her eyes did not have their usual purple color. In fact, they carried a shining blue color — like that of a Germanic girl.
“Your eyes…they are blue.”
“By suppressing my magic, I can give myself the appearance of a human female,” she grinned. “And once the foolish man has embraced me...”
Her voice faded and suddenly her eyes began to glow bright purple again. “They won’t be able to escape.”
She closed her eyes and a moment later when opened them, they were blue again.
“You eyes are purple,” Asha pointed at his face. “If humans saw you now, they would run away with fright.”
“Humans have been fearing me ever since I could remember,” Merlin said.
Asha sighed. “Your father has only taught you how to how to use magic but not how to mask it.”
“If you demons didn’t kill him so soon, he might have had the time to teach me.”
“The foolish man has the sharp tongue of a woman,” Asha chuckled and stepped closer. “Here let me help you.”
Asha raised her hand covered his eyes. Immediately, he grabbed her wrist and pushed her away.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I was going to help you, you fool,” Asha scowled. “Can’t you sense that my magic is not going to harm you?”
Merlin shook his head.
Asha sighed again. “I guess we really did kill your father too soon...you don’t even know how to sense the intentions of magic.”
She raised her hand and showed him how the palm of her hand glowed with purple magic.
“I am going to help you hide your magic,” she said.
Merlin swallowed. He couldn’t believe that he was going to trust her.
She placed her hand on his eyes and for the first time, he felt her warmth of his face. He could feel Asha sucking away some of his magic but he felt no ill intend in her actions.
Moments later, she removed her hands and examined her work with satisfaction.
“Good. Now your eyes are brown like a regular man's.”
Merlin glanced around. There was no water he could use to see his reflection.
“How do I know that my eye color has changed?” he asked.
“I almost regret killing your father,” Asha frowned. She closed her eyes and when she opened them again, the blue color had vanished and instead her eyes had become pure white.
“If you weren’t the bastard who locked away my sisters, I might make you my apprentice,” Asha smiled. “Come here. You will be able to see your reflection in my eyes.”
Merlin stepped closer and ever so carefully, brought his face closer to hers. He could see himself in her large white eyes. He took a sharp breath when he saw that his eyes did not glow purple anymore. They had become as ordinary as that of a normal man.
He was about to open his mouth to ask how she did that, but he quickly realized how dangerous his position was. He was so close to her that their noses were touching. He could taste her breath and breathe in her delicate scent. Not even in bed had he been this close to her face before. If Asha decided to charge magic into her eyes right now, he would not be able to defend himself as he was too close.
Even though he knew that, he still felt a maddening desire to embrace and kiss her. Her lips were full and ripe, inviting him to come closer. So badly did he want to kiss her that it felt as if his heart was about to burst.
“My offer still stands,” Asha said and Merlin saw the corners of her eyes smile. “You can kiss me.”
Her was voice was sweeter than the fresh honey he collected in the depths of the forest. Her face was so beautiful, so innocent and playful. Her hair fell to her sides without a single fault, as if the wind was her friend and made sure he always appeared perfect.
“No, thank you,” Merlin returned and closed his eyes. He took a step back and exhaled profoundly. He couldn’t believe how careless he had become around Asha.
“A lady likes a man who will give into her seductions,” Asha said and twirled around in her silk dress.
“You are no lady. Look at what you are wearing”
“Oh-ho! But I can be!”
Before Merlin could ask what she meant by that Asha hands began to glow purple and she touched the silk dress she was wearing. Her transparent silk dress became solid white and it turned into a simple white dress.
“Is this something a lady would wear at a formal occasion?” Asha asked.
Merlin couldn’t answer. In this simply white dress, she looked so beautiful that he felt his heart leap to his throat. The simple change of color made her dress radiate with beauty and she appeared almost like an angel — except she as not.
Asha tilted her head. “Are you so amazed that you cannot speak? The mighty Merlin! Rendered speechless by my beauty!”
Asha laughed at her self praise and Merlin thought that if only she knew how to speak like a normal human girl, he’d probably lose control of his heart.
“It will be difficult for you to go into a human town wearing something like that,” Merlin said. “It would be better for you to wear something...more normal.”
“You mean what a peasant girl would wear?”
Asha folded her arms and thought for a moment. “It would be a mighty challenge to seduce a man while wearing the filthy garments of a peasant girl...maybe something...like this...”
She mumbled something that Merlin could not understand. Her hands began to glow and she placed them on her dress. The fabric began to change forms and the white color turned to brown and the dress appeared worn out and dirty. Corse like strings hugged her breasts and sleeves covered up her arms and the dress was rather loose as it did not hug her body.
“A peasant dress,” Asha said. “Do I look like a regular human girl now?”
Merlin took off his cloak and put it on her. He covered her long elven-like ears with the hood.
“This is to cover your ears,” Merlin said. “You pay so much attention to what you wear that you forget that your ears are the least human like.”
Surprised, Asha felt her ears.
“Oh!” she sounded and for the very first time, Merlin saw her blush. “I must have forgotten to change them.”
Wrapped up in Merlin’s coat, she turned and prepared to continue her journey to town.
“Are you going to come with me?” Asha asked.
“Yes,” Merlin answered simply.
“You might not like what you see.”
“It does not matter.”
“I will never forgive you if you interfere with my meal.”
“I do not need your forgiveness.”
With a raised eyebrow Asha spun around.
“What a cold hearted man,” she frowned.