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Yet there is light—laid out upon the surface of the water like a stole of palest green. No, not on the water, beneath it—within it.

The old man writhes upon his couch, Struggling to turn his head away from the vision, desperate to close his eyes to the dream. There is no turning away. That radiance—he has seen it before with his material eyes, a young man, then, at the end of a long journey. Yet on this shore stands a girl, waiting for a favor from the Divine, a favor to which she has no right. For Mereddyd-a-Lagan seeks a favor only bestowed upon young men—the Kiss of the Meri, the bestowal of the station of Osraed.

The brilliance of the water grows, and holds out ethereal arms to the one who waits. The old man cries in his sleep at his scene of diabolical heresy: The Inhabitant of the gleaming water beckons; the girl answers the call. What follows, the old man cannot comprehend, for instead of destroying the young woman as he expects, the Meri calls her into a lover’s embrace and draws her beneath the Sea. He waits for some sign that the girl has drowned, but instead, sees her rise from the waves, dripping glory.

Only when she has reached the shore, clad only in the gleaming jewels of salt spray, does he realize his mistake; this is not the same girl. Where Meredydd-a-Lagan had chestnut hair and eyes, this girl has eyes the color of the sea and hair of flax. She laughs, her eyes seeming to find him, though he is invisible, and shakes the last beads of liquid light from her long hair.

He knows her. Ealad-hach is certain he knows her, but he recalls no name, no circumstance, only fear that, because of her, some hideous fate looms over the Land Between Two Rivers.

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