Morgana stops her lazy tumbling about in the rip current and listens intently. It sounded like someone was calling her name.
That’s definitely Thomas’ voice, and it’s clearer and closer this time. She starts swimming toward the surface, intrigued. There’s a few hours to go before their agreed upon dinner time and Thomas almost never comes to this part of the island, citing a rocky, uphill trudge as being more than the nice view was worth. Whatever he was here for, it had to be important.
She surfaces just in time to hear him bellow once more.
He’s running down the beach toward the water’s edge, waving a bundle of palm bark about excitedly, his increasingly shaggy hair whipping behind him. The only course of action she can think of is to swim over to meet him at the shore, and hope that humans don’t know that riding rip currents is something only children are supposed to do.
“Something up?” she inquires, hoping to rankle him with her nonchalance.
“I finally figured it out!” he shouts, brandishing his bundle of bark, “I finally figured out where we are!”
He pauses, reigning in his evident excitement.
“…more or less.”
“What do you mean, ‘more or less’?”
“Well,” he pants, shuffling through his sheets of bark,” I’ve been watching the stars every night. Look here.”
He holds up one of the oblong scales of wood, which she can now see is smudged with a nonsensical pattern of black ash. He jabs his finger at one arrangement of tarry marks.
“Here’s The Victor’s Chalice.”
“And here’s The Woodsman.”
“And here’s The Mariner’s Star.”
Should she admit that she has no idea what he’s going on about?
“But now look at this one.”
He shoves another ash-smeared piece of bark in her face.
“The Chalice was way up here at the start of the month, and you couldn’t even see this reddish star here…”
He brushes a lock of his hair out of his face as he continues to ramble on about whatever it is he’s rambling about. He’d complained bitterly about his want of a barber at first, and even attempted to cut his hair back with his pocket knife, but she’d managed to convince him that his self-service haircut looked worse than his long hair. It was a bald-faced lie, he’d done a perfectly fine job of cropping his hair back, she simply thought he looked just the right amount of roguish his unkempt mane and was too embarrassed to admit it. She was certain it would feel great to run her fingers through it, if only she could find some excuse…
“…and so the only way for this constellation to be moving like that is if we were somewhere near Reddford Island!”
The expectant look he gives her indicates that this is the point at which she’s supposed to say something.
“Eh, yeah that’s great.”
He continues staring at her, his face a mask of excited expectation.
“So do you know where Reddford Island is?”
“Reddford Island? Ummm…”
“It’s a rocky island? Big harbor packed to the gills with docks? Ships full of people who look about like me stop there all the time to pick up fresh water and drop off mail? RING ANY BELLS?!”
He raises his voice, visibly distressed by her deficient responses. Morgana flinches. He’s never done that before. Not once. Not when she’d learned the hard way that her favorite sea-green was poisonous to humans and he’d been sick for three days. Not when she tried to use one of the sticks holding up his lean-to to pull herself out of the pool and accidentally snapped it. Never.
“N-no. Nothing like that.”
She cringes. She can’t remember the last time she stuttered like that while talking to him.
Thomas’ expression softens.
“I’m sorry.” He says, voice barely above a whisper, “I’m just excited. I’ve been working at this for a while. Are you sure you’ve never seen anything like that?”
She takes a moment to gulp down her anxiety before she responds.
“I’m sorry, but I’ve never seen an island with a human city on it in my life.”
“Okay. Okay, that’s fine,” he sighs, “How about The Spine? It’s a chain of sandbars and reefs, with a single tree growing on the biggest one.”
She gives herself a mental swat. She’s way beyond stammering like an idiot when talking to him.
“It’s been a while, but I think I saw something like that on my journey up here.”
“Where? Where?!” he asks, looming closer to her, his former excitement now back in full force.
This time she takes a moment to steady herself before she speaks.
“I’m not sure of the distance, but it’s about 2 days of swimming south of here, maybe a day and a half if you’re really hurrying.”
“Two days? Two days. Two days…”
He continues mumbling to himself as he shuffles through his stack of wooden charts again.
“Two days…Then we have to be somewhere around…maybe…”
His finger waves about in the air, apparently ready to stab down at some location on the chart again, but it never does. It stays in the air, flailing about as he struggles to do navigational calculations in his head.
“Damn. I’m going to need a few more sheets to work out where we are.” He huffs impatiently, but he quickly recovers his enthusiasm and beams at her with child-like glee.
“But this is still great! Just great.” He says distractedly as he recollects his charts and maps, “We may be closer to a trade route than I could have hoped.”
He claps a distracted hug on her before standing up.
“I have to get back to camp and start working out where we are. I’ll see you at dinner!”
With that, he spins on his heels and starts jogging back up the beach, leaving Morgana alone with the heavy weight settling down on her heart.
Morgana sighs for the umpteenth time that day, shoulders sagging. She starts making her way up the stream to the pool Thomas is camping at, an evening hunt’s catch trailing behind her. Only three fish are on the menu this evening. Somehow, she’d found herself unable to work up her usual enthusiasm for hunting and gathering. She wants to tell herself that she just had an off day, or that she’d just gotten a late start, but she knows the real reason: Thomas might be leaving her soon, and it’s driving her crazy.
She’s gotten accustomed to his presence, almost taking it for granted. Taking for granted that he’d always be there, that he’d always need her, and that, eventually, she’d find the perfect opportunity to make the leap from friends to something more. Now it was starting to look like he might disappear as quickly as he’d appeared.
Thomas is sitting beneath his lean-to when she arrives. The shelter is made from a scrap of sail she’d found bunched up on a reef one day, one corner lashed to a low hanging tree limb, one to a pole he’d whittled from a sapling that had grown in soft soil and collapsed under its own weight, and 2 staked to the ground. She remembers how she’d had to leave the water to help him put it together, and how he’d jumped for joy when it finally passed the traditional “yank on it as hard as you can and see if it falls down” stress test. It had taken them seven tries.
“Hey.” He shoots a distracted smile her way, then quickly gets back to smearing those incomprehensible marks onto his charts in wood ash.
“Hey.” She forces herself to smile back, letting the small pleasure of a social meal blot out her anxiety, at least for the time being.
She waits patiently while he continues scratching through his calculations.
What’s taking him so long? There are fish to be eaten!
Maybe if she can get her stomach to growl he’ll remember that there’s a world outside of those charts.
Damn it what was so damn great about Noblis anyway? There was plenty to eat right here and a cute girl who’d love nothing more than to rock you to sleep and call you ‘honey’ you dimwit!
“Ready for dinner?” he asks suddenly, setting his tree bark and ash aside, “I’ve got this crazy new idea: we’ll put the fish in the vicinity of the fire in order to cook them before we dig in.”
Damn it to the lowest valley of hell, why couldn’t you let me be mad at you for even one minute?
“What an intriguing notion. Why don’t we go completely wild and put some citrus in them too?”
“You know, that just may be crazy enough to work.”
He accepts the bundle of sea-life she offers him and busies himself preparing another feast of cooked fish. What is she going to do about dinner if he leaves? Cooked food is truly a thing of beauty, and without a knife-wielding surface dweller to clean and roast her catches, she has no idea how she’ll get her fix. She catches herself heading down the road of crazed loneliness and diverts her musings toward more mundane topics until the air is filled with the appetite-whetting scent of cooked food and Thomas is handing over a neatly cut filet speared on a wooden stake.
“Dig in.” He says with a smile before settling down to sink his teeth into a skewer of his own.
She tucks in to her dinner, but can barely taste it, almost all of her attention focused on the giddy-looking human before her and what role, if any, he will play in her future.
“How is it?” he asks, as he has done every night for months now.
“Delicious.” She replies, as she has done every night for months now.
They eat in silence for a while, but the way Thomas fidgets and sneaks glances up at her from his food makes it clear that he’s got something to say and he’s eager for an excuse to say it. There’s really only one thing it could be.
“Any luck with your mapping?”
“You’d better believe it!”
He flops his dinner down on the nearest flat surface and stretches out to gather an armful of his handmade charts. She suddenly finds herself with another array of meaningless symbols uncomfortably close to her face.
“Near as I can tell, we’re on this chain right here.” He says, pointing to a cluster of marks on what appears to be a crude map of the region. He lets his finger slide upward on the map, up to an unusually regular strip highlighted in red clay that cuts across the whole sheet from edge to edge.
“And this, right here,” he pauses for dramatic effect, “Is the Thouson-Ganshai route.”
Damn. Another expectant look.
“It’s GREAT. It’s better than great. It’s fantastic. The Parson Company has a regular cargo exchange along that route.”
“So sooner or later there’ll be a ship sailing by!” he cries with delight.
Morgana feels herself choking up. He really is going to leave. Her gills expand automatically, futilely trying to gulp in more water. She tries to force a positive reaction from herself.
Thomas appears unconvinced by her display.
“Um, are you okay? You’re, uh, doing that thing when you…” Thomas’ head bobs left and right, searching for something.
Oh Gods damn it, she’s at it again, isn’t she? A quick glance stolen out of the corner of her eye confirms that her skin’s blended into her surroundings once again. She compels a smile to appear on her face.
“I-I’m fine. It’s just that I’m s-so happy for you!”
A wide grin appears on Thomas’ features.
“Thanks!” He says, oblivious to the real reason for her distress.
A pang of guilt grips Morgana as she feels a decidedly cruel idea taking root in her mind.
“A trade ship really wouldn’t have any reason to visit here, would it? What makes you think you’ll be able to make them land here?”
“I’ve thought of that,” he explains eagerly, “and I know just what to do. There’s loads of wood up here. I can build a pyre with it and set a signal fire when they pass by.”
“We’ll be just barely at the edge of their field of vision when they pass, so the signal fire is going to have to be huge.” He continues.
Undeterred by his confidence, she continues her attempts to quash his efforts, though guilt at her own selfishness is now crushing her heart in a death grip.
“How can you be sure they’ll see it if they’re going to be so far away?”
“The Parson Company sends more ships along this route than anyone else, and they take pride in having the best lookouts outside of the navy.”
“So, you’d uh, say that your chances of being seen are good then?”
He beams at her.
“Better than I could have hoped for.”
Had she lacked the self-control to force it down, the shriek of frustration Morgana feels building within her would have deafened him.
“Great,” she says through a fraudulent smile, “That’s great, you’ll be home before you know it.”
And I’ll be here all by myself, she thinks to herself with growing dread.
“I can hardly wait to see it again,” he says jubilantly, “The very second I get off that boat the first thing I’m going to do is…”
Thomas begins counting off a list of all his plans for his return to the rest of humankind, but Morgana only hears one phrase, implicit in everything he says: “I’m not happy here, and I can’t wait to leave.”
As lovely as she finds her own lifestyle, it just isn’t right for him. He’ll always be stranded, confined to scattered little pitches of land, living off of another’s generosity. He doesn’t belong here; he belongs in his home with his own kind, no matter how much she wants him to stay. She feels disgust at her attempts to discourage his escape attempt overtaking her.
“If there’s anything I can do to help, just say so.” She interjects the next time he pauses. Even if it’s not with her, she wants him to be happy. Besides, if she makes even one more attempt to dissuade him from leaving the shame might kill her.
“I’ll let you know.” He says, setting aside his charts before crawling to the edge of the pool and throwing his arms around her.
Morgana spends nearly an hour sniffling to herself before she’s finally able to sleep that night.
Thomas is late for their evening rendezvous. No surprise there. He’s always late these days; every one of his waking hours is spent trekking over the island, gathering fallen boughs and scrub for his signal fire. Their occasional chance meetings on the shores of the island are a thing of the past, as he rarely has reason to venture near the water. The wood he needs so desperately is found mostly in the island’s interior, ensuring that she never sees him until dinner time.
When he does finally show up, he looks almost as bad as he did the day she’d first met him. Haggard and sweat-stained, smudged with dirt and pierced by splinters. As has become his habit he trudges right past his usual seat at the fire’s edge and flops face-first into the pool.
“Long day?” she asks perfunctorily.
“They’re getting longer all the time,” he burbles, rolling onto his back in the water after taking a few moments to savor its cooling touch.
“Any progress to show for it?” she continues, even though she’d rather talk about anything else besides his steadily creeping progress toward leaving her.
“Not as much as I’d like to,” he sighs, starting to scrub his dirt-caked skin, “I’ve already piled up every piece of loose wood on the island. Nothing but trees left. I need an axe.”
She knows full well that Thomas is going to give her a little ribbing for not knowing something about the human world, but she asks the question anyway.
“It’s a metal tool humans use for chopping wood. If I had one I could start cutting up saplings and brush and quit trudging around looking for old palm fronds.”
That sounded awfully earnest, and quite reasonable to boot. Not the dripping sarcasm she’s used to receiving as the standard response to her ignorance of human ways.
“I said it’s a tool for chopping wood.”
“No I know. It’s just, you know, I’ve gotten used to you teasing me when I don’t know something about humans.”
“Oh right. That. Too tired for that now.”
Morgana sits glumly beside him in the shallows for a while, lost in her own disappointment over his lackluster conversation, before it occurs to her that she should at least try to get him to talk.
“What do they look like?”
Thomas rolls back onto his stomach with an exhausted groan and pulls himself up to the water’s edge.
“They’ve got a heavy blade shaped sort of like this…” he explains, sticking his index finger into the soft soil around the pool and beginning to draw.
Morgana is rendered speechless by the crude sketch he cuts into the mud. She recognizes the exact shape he’s drawn; she has just such a tool in one of her caches, retrieved from the splintered wreckage of a human ship. But should she tell him? If he had to do without the tool, if his progress was slowed enough, there was a chance that he might—oh gods what was she thinking?
“I have one.” She blurts out before she can reconsider. She’d promised to help him.
“I have one of those. I found it in a wrecked ship. You can have it if you want.”
Thomas seems visibly reenergized.
“I’d certainly appreciate it.”
“I’ll have it for you tomorrow.”
Morgana rifles through the cache of salvaged human goods that dominates the small sea cave. Goods made of metal and that lacquered and treated wood they’re so fond of using. It doesn’t take her long to find the “axe” that Thomas had wanted. She considers the elongate metal implement carefully. It hardly seemed dangerous to her; the flat bit at the end was sharp, to be sure, but it was slow and unwieldy in the water, and she’d never considered using it for heavy work. Her preferred use for it was as a musical instrument. When struck properly with a stone, the metal rang sonorously through the water, and lined up with a dozen-odd other castoffs, it formed a rudimentary percussion instrument. On days where the weather was too foul to venture out, or if she was just feeling especially lazy, she’d set on the bottom of the cave and amuse herself by striking out whatever tune came to mind. It’s something near and dear to her heart, but somehow the knowledge that she’s about to part with it doesn’t hurt as much as it seems it ought to.
Thomas is waiting for her when she reaches his camp, and he holds his hands out to her eagerly when he sees the ax. It slips from her grasp quite easily, though she can’t be sure if she’s genuinely glad to be helping him or if she’s simply forcing herself. Either way, she’s glad she’s made a decision. Whatever may come, at least that stress is behind her.
“Thank you so much. If there’s anything you want in return, name it.”
Please don’t leave me. Please throw that thing back into the ocean. Please kiss me.
“Oh don’t worry about it! I’m just happy to help!”
“You’ve done more than help. I couldn’t‘ve done any of this without you.”
Just stab me right in the heart why don’t you?
“Where did you even get this? I thought you were a nomad.” mercifully, he changes the subject.
“I am, but mama taught me that you should always have a supply cache close at hand. I’ve got a little bit of everything stashed away near every island I own.”
“Just piles of stuff at the bottom of the ocean?” he cocks his head at her, evidently having trouble picturing her life beneath the waves.
“Of course not. There are sea caves everywhere around here, in fact there’s one under a big sandbar just a little ways out from the mouth of the river. I’ve got a quite a pile of ‘misplaced’ human goods out there, and it’s a perfect place to sleep too.”
“You sleep in a cave?” he asks incredulously
“You sleep under a strip of cloth next to a soot fountain?” she asks mockingly
“…fair enough.” He admits, suitably chastened
“This is really going to help though.” He continues, hefting the ax, “I’ll be able to cut out a few days of work at the least. I’ll be ready for the ship with plenty of time left over.”
“It’ll be here soon then?”
“By the end of the week by my estimates. It’s kind of hard to tell out here. The sun isn’t really moving the way I’m used to. But they’ll definitely be passing by sooner rather than later.”
Morgana feels some sort of emotion stirring in the bottom of her heart, but she stamps it down before it has a chance to make itself known.
“Wonderful.” She lies, reaching out for a hug that she doesn’t enjoy quite as much as she probably should.
Thomas returns the embrace, quite comfortable with her touch after all this time and completely unaware of how miserable he’s making her.
Morgana is late waking up the next day. She’s sluggish going through her morning routine, and has a hard time getting motivated to feed herself. When it comes time for her daily jaunt upstream to see Thomas, she finds she can’t bring herself to start moving. She stares at the river’s mouth for a while, contemplating her reluctance. Thomas has been drying or smoking the surplus of her catches for some time now, and the fruit trees he eats from are in season again. He’ll have no trouble feeding himself for at least a week, and by then his ship will already have come and gone. He doesn’t need her. He probably won’t even miss her.
Morgana returns to her hovel without visiting him. The next day, she doesn’t leave the cave until the sun is high in the sky. The day after that, she doesn’t leave at all.
Thomas stands on the cliff’s edge, heart in his throat, smoldering torch in hand. His salvation is right in front of him, a dot of white canvas sail topped with a speck of blue flag coasting leisurely across the horizon. All he has to do is take one more step forward and set the enormous pile of wood before him ablaze and he’ll be saved. A signal fire the likes of which this nameless little island has never seen will flare into existence, the ship’s lookout will spot it, and they’ll make all haste to rescue him. Simple as that.
So why was it so difficult?
Some force is holding him back, keeping his torch from moving that last two feet to it’s goal. Something at the bottom of his heart keeps telling him that he can’t leave. And so he stands on the cliff’s edge, firewood untouched, torch growing smaller and smaller, until the ship is out of sight.
He knows that he should feel some remorse. His way home just disappeared over the horizon. But he doesn’t. The world of cobblestoned streets and fresh beef and oil lamps just doesn’t hold the same appeal it once did. He knows he should be longing for his homeland, for the comforts it can offer him, for the contact with the rest of humanity it offers, but lately he’s only had one thing on his mind: Morgana.
He’s had a crush on her for a while now. Yes, a crush. As much as fate has forced him to grow up, he knows that at the end of the day, he’s still just a boy. He’s never known a woman’s company, there was just no time, what with the need to stay abreast of his family’s cost of living. But here, on this island, apart from the rest of his race, and secure in the knowledge that they would be okay, it was hard to ignore the charms of the only woman he’d ever been close to. She’d shown a selflessness he’d never seen before in the way she’d kept after him, making sure he was okay in spite of how he’d tried to drive her away. And then there was the fey, delicate beauty of her face. And the pleasingly pert swell of her breasts. And the gentle yet firm way she’d hold him when they were swimming together. She was wonderful in every way, and the fact that he hadn’t seen her in many days drove him crazy with worry.
Thomas turns and starts trudging back down the hill, leaving the last bit of the torch smoking uselessly on the ground.
Why hadn’t he told her how much he liked her? Why couldn’t he bring himself to speak those simple words? Every time he’d tried the doubts had come pouring in. How did courting a monster even work? Did they even fall in love the same way humans did? What would living together even be like? He was already living entirely off her goodwill. He couldn’t breathe underwater, and she hated being on land.
What if she didn’t return his affections?
Thomas turns the bend in the path and continues down the hill, his pace quickening as the slope steepens. Other worries start to creep into his mind. Why hadn’t he seen her in the past few days? What had kept her from visiting him? Was she hurt? Sick? Had she somehow gotten lost?
His quickened stride grows into a run as he starts toward his camp, no longer compelled by gravity but by a sudden panic at the array of terrible things that could have happened to the object of his affections. He’s moving at a full-blown sprint by the time he reaches the clearing surrounding the pool. He pauses at the water’s edge, shuffling aimlessly, desperate to take some kind of action but unsure of what it should be. A memory from a few day’s past suddenly springs up: Morgana’s cave. When she’d brought him the axe she’d told him she kept residence in a cave “a little ways out from the mouth of the river”. He’ll head there. It was a bit of a stretch, but he feels that if he doesn’t find some assurance of Morgana’s well-being soon he’ll lose his mind.
River rushing out into the sea beside him, Thomas shades his eyes and scans over the water. Morgana said that her cave lay beneath a sandbar, he’s sure of it, but he can’t see any such feature. Just the choppy surf of high tide.
Wait. There, so far out he almost didn’t see it. A sandbar.
“By what metric is that ‘just a little ways out’?!” he shouts at the wind in frustration.
He forces himself to start wading through the surf. The fear of getting into the water without his ever-watchful scylla teacher is almost overwhelming, but if he doesn’t force himself to get moving he’ll end up standing on that beach forever. Wading through the shallows isn’t very troublesome. In spite of their ferocity, the waves sent careening toward the shore by high tide are quite easy to overcome if you dig your heels into the sand. It’s when the soft sediment beneath his feet start to dip away and the water starts to rise above his head that his path becomes difficult. In spite of Morgana’s best efforts, he’s still not a particularly strong swimmer, especially without her comforting embrace to guide him. But he remembers the basics of what she’s tried to teach him: keep moving, keep calm, and keep your head above the water. Spurred by the desperate desire to see that she’s alright, that’s all he needs.
It’s easy going at first. All he needs to do is keep paddling, keep paddling and keep his wits about him and he’ll make it. Sooner or later. He gulps down as deep a breath as he dares, trying to sooth his aching muscles. It’s exhausting work trying to swim this distance without a helpful tentacle to support him. Why must his goal be so far away?
Thomas’ relentless drive toward the sandbar that marks his destination slows. His already over-worked muscles are starting to falter. He lets his head sink a little bit closer to the surface. It’s so much easier to move when he isn’t also desperately trying to keep his hair dry. He needs to save his strength, he’s almost there, just a bit further. He draws another breath. Or tries to. A sudden wave crashes over him as he inhales, choking him with seawater. He cries out in pain and shock as he gets a lungful of brine, the primal fear of drowning throwing his already feeble swimming into disarray. Moments like this were usually when he would cling to Morgana and let her hold him up until he’d finished hacking up what he’d accidentally sucked down, but Morgana isn’t around this time. The rudimentary understanding of swimming he had acquired before now starts to slip away in the face of overriding panic. Base instinct compels him to attempt to claw his way back toward the surface, but human hands were designed for climbing and carrying, not pulling their owner through water. He’s just barely made it to the surface when a fresh wave washes over him, stealing away his last chance at fresh air. Defeated, he spends the last of his breath on a small, feeble call into the water as he sinks.
Morgana stirs on the floor of her cave. Her fine-tuned predator’s senses are picking up some rather irregular and frantic movements in the water. Something is struggling nearby. Something big. The thought of a plump fish, weakened by injury and just waiting to be eaten makes her stomach growl. Her foul mood the past few days has robbed her of the will to eat. Hoping that a good meal might take her mind off Thomas and his imminent departure, she pulls herself across the cave’s sandy bottom out to its mouth. Her shoulders sag in disappointment as she looks out into the water for the source of the movement. That theory about a nice easy hunt getting her mind off her friend’s departure was complete bunk. Even that squirming fish up there looked like Thomas to her.
A lot like Thomas in fact.
“Oh gods no.”
Morgana bolts up toward the drowning human, adrenaline making her move with a speed normally reserved for fleeing for her life. It’s still not enough, seconds dragging on like hours as she desperately wills her body to move faster. Her muscles burn with exertion, her breathing grows ragged. Still too slow. When at last she collides with him, sending the both of them spiraling through the water, she’s sobbing with frustration.
Thomas is still warm to the touch. All hope is not lost then. She knows how to save him. In theory at least. In telling of her first meeting with her father, her mother had described a way to keep a human alive beneath the surface of the water. She’d paid careful attention, but never had an opportunity to practice. No better time than now to learn.
She seals her lips over his and begins gulping in water. Her gills yawn wide, stripping it of its oxygen, which she exhales into his mouth. She feels his chest rise and fall, but he shows no response. She starts propelling herself toward the surface and pushes another breath into him. Then another, and another. He begins to stir, but he’s still far from cognizant, and she’s starting to feel dizzy. All the oxygen is going to him, leaving nothing for her. She feels the gritty touch of sand against her back and knows that she’s finally hit the sandbar that crowns her cave. All that’s left is to stay awake until she can get Thomas’ head above the surface. Just stay awake. Just a little bit longer. She’s seeing stars as they break the surface and flop backwards onto the shoreline, but her vision is still clear enough to see Thomas’ eyes flicker open.
It’s several moments before either one of them speaks. He uses his time to cough up water and gasp for breath, she spends hers waiting for her vision to clear and dragging him away from the worst of the surf. Surprisingly, he manages to be the one to speak first.
“I don’t want to leave.” He sputters out around the seawater still trying to escape his lungs.
With visible effort, he heaves himself across the scants few inches of wet sand that separate them and puts both of his hands around one of hers.
“I love you.” He whispers, his voice almost drowned out by the waves rolling up the beach to meet them.
That’s just not fair. It’s downright cruel in fact. After all these months of agonized longing you pick NOW, when you’re choking on seawater and I’m woozy from lack of oxygen to finally let me hear those words?
Such thoughts are what go through her mind, but her body is acting quite independently, drawing Thomas closer, much closer than their usual friendly hugs ever brought them before. She presses herself against him, hooking her arms around his neck, curling each of her tentacles around him, crushing her breasts against his chest. Her forehead comes to rest against his, and for the first time she manages to look into his eyes without a nervous giggle or an embarrassed glance away breaking her gaze.
“I love you too.”
She runs her tongue over her lips in anticipation. They’ve both said those all-important words now, he said them first in fact, surely that gives her permission to plant a kiss on him? Thomas smiles weakly at her, but the usual sauciness that so often defines his attitude is evident in spite of his pallor.
“Why so nervous? We’ve already had our first kiss haven’t we?”
“That one didn’t count!” she frowns, finding new strength to roll him onto his back and pin him against the ground. “And just what on earth were you doing swimming so far out at high tide? You nearly gave me a heart attack!”
He shrugs with infuriating nonchalance, still working his hardest to act as though his brush with the reaper was nothing.
“Looking for you.”
She grits her teeth. He’s going to pay for the scare he just gave her, starting now. Before he can get another word out, she’s pressed her lips against his, this time with the intent of taking exactly what she’s wanted all this time. Thomas draws a sharp breath through his nose, unready for her despite his swagger. His embarrassed squirming demands further torment on her part. She slips her tongue past his trembling lips and starts exploring his mouth, at long last indulging in the fantasy that’s been running through her mind since they first met. He goes limp with shock for a few seconds, allowing her free reign to play with his tongue, a privilege she thoroughly abuses until he finally pulls himself together enough to resist her intrusion. He pushes back against her abruptly, giving her a taste of the oral invasion she’s just subjected him to. A shiver runs up her spine, distracting her from the delightful sensation of their entwined tongues just enough for her to at last take notice of the bulge between his legs poking insistently at her belly. She draws back, not without some reluctance, and hisses an order at him.
“Take them off.”
He blushes ear-to-ear, but complies with an almost desperate eagerness as she begins tugging at her own clothing. Her top goes first, revealing her rapidly stiffening nipples. Thomas’ eyes widen and his hands lose all coordination at his belt. Her sash comes off next, and her web retracts to display her vulva, the red-flushed lips standing proud against the milky whiteness of her skin. Thomas’ jaw drops and the tent in his pants twitches. Morgana lets out a throaty chuckle, pleased by his reaction and drawing new confidence from it.
“Come here. Indulge yourself.” She purrs, folding her arms across her belly to push her bust out. Her assets aren’t as spectacularly large as her younger self had hoped they would be, but Thomas hardly seems to mind. She hugs his head against her, practically smothering him with her breasts while her tentacles reach up to finish undoing his trousers. Thomas tries to lift his hips off the ground to make her work easier, but he’s far too involved with suckling at her stiff nipples to make a focused effort, and they come apart with a ripping noise after a few moments of building frustration. They look at each other with uncertainty for a split second before wordlessly coming to the conclusion that neither of them really care.
“You’ll, eh, have to fix those.” Thomas mumbles, feeling as though he ought to show some reaction.
Morgana nods distractedly in agreement, too absorbed with taking in his newly exposed member to pay much attention to what he’s saying. It’s her first time seeing one, and she’s fascinated. She’s always been vaguely aware that there was something out in the world that would fit that needy space in the midst of her tentacles better than her own fingers, but she hadn’t anticipated how…perfect it would be in person. Every inch of it, from the beading head down, looks like it was made especially to slake her lust. She reaches out to curl her fingers around the shaft, delighted by the way its owner gasps in response to her touch. Interested in what other sounds she can coax out of him, she places a single finger on the slick head and pushes down. Thomas moans at the teasing pressure on his manhood and whimpers as she allows it to bob back up, her finger quickly finding its way onto her tongue to savor the taste of his pre.
“Are you just going to play with it all day?” Thomas’ embarrassment-cracked voice calls her back to reality. Her shameless ogling has somehow managed to make his face even redder than before. She flashes him a sympathetic smile before making her way back up his chest to plant a calming kiss on him, but parts after only a moment. She can’t bear to delay the main event any longer. She rises up over him on her tentacles and spreads herself, trembling with excitement and exertion. Satisfied that her lover has gotten a good look at her sex, she impales herself to the tune of their simultaneous yelps of ecstasy. Overwhelmed with pleasure, she has no choice but to spend the next few moments taking in every aspect of this newfound delight. She’s so, so -full-. So wonderfully and perfectly FULL. Every movement she makes sends a wave of pleasure through her. Even the minute motion of her heavy breathing is enough to make her feel faint with carnal delight. She shakily pushes herself up. His glans caresses every one of those tender spots deep inside of her that she usually has so much trouble reaching. Truly this was a tool made exclusively for her pleasure. She rises and falls again. Wonderful. Planting her hands on his shoulders, she begins moving in earnest. She shifts with each stroke, testing the many ways Thomas can please her. It’s delightful beyond words. Delightful and incredibly exhausting. Her already sore muscles are being taxed to their limit by having to move so quickly and regularly out of the water. She ignores the ever-worsening burn for as long as she can, allowing the pleasure of losing her virginity to distract her, but it eventually proves to be too much. Collapsing back onto her elbows, she groans in frustration. She was so close. So tantalizingly, agonizingly close.
“I can’t keep up,” she pants, a bit shamed by the admission, “Not out of the water. I…I need you to take the lead. Please.”
He nods, looking a bit frightened at the prospect of being the one to set the pace, and starts to rise. She feels him slipping out of her and promptly throws every limb she has around him.
“Don’t take it out. Don’t you dare take it out.”
He nods again, this time capping it off with a gentle peck on the lips, before continuing to ease into a position that offers him the leverage he needs to bring them to climax. His thrusting is unsteady at first; unsure. Sensing this, she moans and coos with abandon, all pretense of restraint and dignity cast aside. It’s the best she can manage; she’s too far gone to put words to the joy she’s feeling right now. Besides that, there’s not another soul around for miles, leaving her free to shriek her ecstasy to the heavens. And shriek she does. Lying back on the sand, letting her much longed-for lover drive himself into her again and again as the last vestiges of the waves crawl up the beach to cool her aching muscles, it’s almost too much. If she doesn’t cry out, if she doesn’t do -something- to release the lovely tension overtaking her, she’s sure she’ll explode. Thomas seems to be in the same boat. Each time he hilts himself his breathing grows more and more ragged, until his every movement brings forth a pathetic whine of desperation. A primitive, carnal hunger grows in her. For what, she’s not quite sure, but something in her gut tells her that it will come from the burnt-skinned boy looming over her and that he’s quite close to giving it up. She feels herself clenching in a strange new way, sucking and undulating, gripping her lover so tightly that she can feel every vein as they pulse in time with his heart. Thomas locks up, his cries echoing hers as he at last floods her with something wonderfully warm and thick. She manages to stifle his caterwauling with a kiss before the syrupy weight growing in her belly pushes her over the edge and she joins him in thrashing about amidst the wet sand and ocean foam.
The spent lovers lay still for a long while, unable to speak or even to move. They part regretfully after his member finally softens and slips out of her creamed slit. A pair of fingers quickly replace it, rubbing and caressing as Morgana savors the feeling of her lover’s release oozing out of her and coating her vulva. Thomas cups her cheek, letting her have her fun while he searches for something to say.
Far from the shore of the island, Morgana bobs in the gentle surf with her lover, her fingers entwined with his. The sea bishop she travelled for days with almost no rest to retrieve floats a few feet away from them. All three of them have of a deep red blush on their faces in anticipation of what is about to transpire.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Morgana asks Thomas, too nervous to look him in the eye as she speaks.
“Absolutely.” He replies, pulling himself closer to her.
“-Ahem-“the sea bishop clears her throat, “I’m ready whenever you are.”
“We’re ready right now.”
“Then state your names please.”
“Something wrong with that?”
“Nothing,” she snorts, trying her very hardest not to laugh, “It’s just kind of unexpected.”
Whatever the sea bishop has stuck in her throat must really be stubborn. She begins tracing her finger over her tablet, inscribing the names of the two lovers and preparing to bring them under the Sea God’s protection.
“As a herald of Poseidon, I hereby place the blessing of the sea on you. You may consecrate your union.”
All three of them blush and look away. The sea bishop fiddles with her hat, trying to pretend she’s not fascinated to see how scylla make love. Morgana reaches out with a few tentacles to embrace her lover and traces a single hand down his chest toward his pulsing erection. Thomas simply remains still, too embarrassed to do anything but let Morgana do what comes naturally to her.
She starts off by sealing her lips over his, pulling his tongue into her mouth as soon as he opens his mouth to accept her. She releases him as soon as her hand chances upon his member and begins kissing her way down his neck, over his chest, toward her ultimate goal. Her constant fantasies have given her a long list of lewd acts she was too nervous to try on their first time. She wants him in her mouth. She wants to taste that pearly fluid that made her feel so lovely. She won’t miss another opportunity, especially not with such an appreciative audience.
The sea bishop found herself dreaming of tentacles for quite some time after.