The next morning, the members of the Guard walk out to the living area. Diana turns to her teammates, holding her finger to her mouth, and points over her shoulder to the Yarl, asleep on the sofa. Jon, a long time friend, starts to giggle and then quietly smiles to himself when he realizes why Riku is sleeping there. The doors to his suite are still closed.
The team quietly sits around a table and talk in hushed voices. “I wonder if she kicked him out,” Mikala intones. Jon however knows both of them too well. “No, if that were the case, he wouldn’t be covered or have a pillow!”
They continue to talk about the dinner and the team ask Jon about Corinna and the past. He waves it off, nothing really to talk about here. He wasn’t a gossip and preferred to hear it than spread it.
Riku opens his eyes and looks around. He wonders how he became covered with a blanket overnight. Odd. He moves to sit up and a slight pounding takes over his head. “Mornin’,” he greets the team with his eyes shielded. The sun is rising in the distance, illuminating the Suite.
“Mornin’,” they reply. Diana speaks up, “How’s Morgen? She was having a hard time last night.”
Riku shakes his head indicating he doesn’t know, and walks over to the door to his bedchamber, lightly tapping on it. He doesn’t hear a reply, so he cracks it open. He sees Morgen, under the covers and curled up, but awake. She’s looking out over the land mass to their north where the snowcapped mountains meet the sea.
Morgen hears him enter the room and waves him over to her, staying covered. He sees the green dress from last night draped across a chair. He closes the door behind him.
“Riku, do you think we and the Terrans are more alike than different?” Morgen ponders.
He looks at Morgen. His eyes are a mystery to her; clouded with either confusion or, something else. “What do you mean?”
She replays the story of the mermaid little Renee shared from the night before. “And, you know, Lynnia became a Terran permanently. Why would anyone choose to do that?” She looked down the length of the bed, as if she were looking over her tail or her legs. “Do you think it is possible for us to control our tails or legs to be either one?”
Riku’s face turned serious. “Morgen, what are you talking about?”
“Myrlina said I was something called a Split Tailed Mermaid as a child. She cured me?” Morgen sat up and pulled up the bottom of the sheets on the bed. Instead of legs, or even a solid tail, two beautiful turquoise, coral, and navy tail fins peaked out from below. “I got up in the middle of the night when I realized you’d let me sleep here for the night. I covered you up with a blanket and as I got back into bed, my legs changed to these.”
Riku looked at her. He’d not seen fins so beautiful before, but he was also concerned. The potion from Myrlina was to last until they were ready to head back. “Wait here.” He gently patted her hand and excused himself.
Moments later, Myrlina and Riku re-entered the room. Morgen had shifted to sit up. “Let’s see these beauties,” Myrlina lifted the sheet to see her beautiful split tail. “It’s gorgeous.” Myrlina’s eyes lit up with excitement and turned to Morgen. “You did this, nothing else can.”
Morgen was confused. “What do you mean?”
Myrlina sighed. “Mermaids and mermen, single or split tail, and terrans are all descended from the same main genetic line. Our environment, our world, helps determine which traits come out. However, some of us can control our appearance without any potion.” Myrlina holds her hands up in the air, making air quotes on the word potion. “My potion unlocks the ability to shift, but it doesn’t actually do the change.” She pointed to Morgen’s heart, “You do.”
Riku looked at both Myrlina and Morgen. “Why did or could Morgen do this, but none of the rest of us did?”
Myrlina took in a deep breath and closed her eyes. Her legs started to shimmer and change into a single tail. Myrlina opened her eyes back up and looked at Riku. “Just think where you want to be, and it will change. I suspect Morgen was a little homesick overnight and wants to just be home.”
Morgen smiled shyly. “So, if I, say, wanted to go to the mountains, I’d need legs and all I need to do is think about it?”
Myrlina smiled. “Yes dear.” She patted Morgen’s hand.
Morgen closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and her fins began to change back into terran legs. “Do the Terrans know how to do this?”
Myrlina shook her head no. “Most, even in our world, don’t know they can even do this. Our kind, split tails, have the easiest time transforming.” Myrlina shifted her focus to Riku. “Do you understand now?”
Riku shook his head. “We’re not dealing with a different kind, we’re dealing with our own. This changes things.”
Myrlina shook her head and stood up. “Let’s let Morgen get ready,” and she headed to the door.
Riku looked over. “Can you close the door behind you? I need to talk more with Morgen.”
Myrlina closed the door and Riku turned back towards Morgen. He reached out his hand to move a stray curl which fell over Morgen’s face. “You surprised me last night. I’m not talking about being a light weight with the drinks, but how you got along so well with Edward and Renee over dinner. Normally you clam up.”
Morgen looked down and then back at Riku. “I’m not a social creature, but Edward and Renee were easy to talk to. Renee is a cute kid…Lynnia and Edward are doing a great job raising her. I know she, Lynnia, Corinna, could not have had it easy adjusting to a different world, even if she was destined for something better. Edward seems to really care for her deeply. He spoke of her so fondly, you could just see the love he has for her. How can anyone not appreciate that?”
Riku smiled to himself. “So, no hard feelings towards Corinna, no concerns or worries?”
Morgen smiled, “I wouldn’t say that, but not in THAT way!” She poked Riku in the arm and rolled her eyes.
He stood up. “Good!” Then he leaned over and kissed her sweetly on the cheek. “I’ll let you get ready. But hurry up. This is my room!”
He strode away from the bed as Morgen threw a pillow at him. They both laughed as he left the room.
Riku closed the door behind him, greeted by five sets of eyes locked on him. “What?” he shrugged.
Jon just put his hand to his head and shook it back and forth. Myrlina’s lips curled up into a sly smile.