Morgana pushed herself up from the cold water. Her hair clung to her roundish face, and her cheeks blushed red like a cherub. She wiped her face dry with her hands, then flicked the water off her hands. Then she quickly looked around, hoping no one heard the commotion as she fell through the portal.
In the distance, she saw a figure approaching. Quickly, she reached into her pack and swallowed one of Doc Jones’ doses. She felt tingles throughout her body, then flowing out of her shoulder blades into her wings. She glanced over her shoulder and watched her wings disappear from view. She could still feel her wings, they were just now obscured from view.
The figure continued approaching and started waving at her. A voice called out, “Everything okay over there? Is everything okay?”
Morgana smiled and waved while responding, “Yes, all good. No worries here.” She hoped the figure would stop and turn around, but he continued coming closer. She glanced over her shoulder to make sure her wings were not visible and took a deep breath.
Winded, the figure neared and slowed his approach. As he neared, Morgana got a better view. He was a short, older man with golden brown eyes. He waddled more than walked as he approached. His smile was kind however.
He stepped over a few rocks and stopped a few feet from Morgana. “Hi, I’m Riker. Are you okay? I couldn’t hear you,” he conveyed as he pointed to his ear. Morgana saw a contraption hanging over his ear.
She vigorously nodded her head, “Yes, yes, I’m fine.”
“We need to get you into some drier clothes. Come, follow me.”
Morgana tilted her head at the little man and determined he wouldn’t be a threat to her. She looked around and realized the only path away from here was to follow him anyhow. Adventure is what she set out for, so she shrugged and followed him.
The shore of the lake was covered with smooth round rocks and pebbles. The jagged mountain rose straight up, with brightly colored flowers clinging in the crevices. Some areas were bare black rock, slick and dew covered, other spots had hundreds of these floral plants sprouting everywhere.
“Excuse me. What do you call these flowers? They are beautiful!”
Riker turned back to her. “Oh, those are orchids. Do you like them? You can take one for your hair if you like.” The old man’s cheeks blushed as he said those words. “You’re a pretty girl. I have a son I’d like you to meet. Perhaps he’ll be home later today.”
Morgana blushed and smiled. She bowed her head and a strand of wet hair hung down against her cheek. “You’re too kind. Thank you.” She didn’t really know what else to say at that point. She turned and picked a bright white orchid from the wall, then tucked the wet strand of hair and the flower behind her ear.
A few more yards ahead, she spied a wood structure, unique to anything she had seen before. A small arched bridge went from the shore over a stream flowing down from the mountain. It stopped atop a large wooden deck which seemingly floated over the waters edge. The roof had a gentle upward curve, while the main floor was very straight, almost grid-like.
“Is this where you live? It’s beautiful.”
Riker smiled. “Yes, I came from another land and fell in love with their architecture here.” He softly opened the sliding gate and slid off his shoes. “Would you like to come in?”
Morgana slipped off her boots. “Should I also take my socks off?” she asked. She realized he was barefooted.
Riker smiled, “Whichever way you are most comfortable.”
Morgana opted to leave on her socks. At least they were still dry. She followed him inside.
The home was sparsely furnished, but the artwork on the walls caught her attention. A large painting of the mountainside loomed over a fireplace with a waterfall cascading down. She noticed that the archway she passed through was in the smallest of the details.
“Here you go, a towel to dry off. Here is also one of my wife’s wraps. You’re welcome to change into it while your clothes dry. There’s a small room over here where you can change.”
Morgana followed him. The room was cozy with a simple chair, small table, and a bed. For a moment she hesitated.
“No worries. It’s my daughter’s room. I’ll go make some tea.” Riker waddled off.
Morgana chuckled at herself. She could flatten the old man in just a few seconds if he tried anything, but he’d been nothing but nice to her. She closed the door behind her, then removed the flower from her hair. She dried off and changed into the silken wrap.
She looked around the room for a mirror, but noticed there wasn’t one in the room. How odd. Then she looked at the artwork on the wall. A small painting hung on the wall of a girl in a doorway with two cats. Raindrops were falling in front of them, but they were shaded by the overhang and a sakura tree hung overhead. Morgana smiled at the peaceful scene.
Morgana finally broke from her reflection on this little piece and made her way outside. “Riker, why are there no mirrors in the bedroom?” She fiddled to put the flower back behind her ear.
Riker grinned. “Here they practice something called feng shui. Ever hear of it?”
Morgana shook her head no. Riker motioned her to come to the sofa and he handed her a small book. “It’s a basic guide, but a bedroom should be calming and they believe mirrors can bounce energies around the room, so you either place a mirror out of sight of the bed or not put one in the bedroom at all.”
Morgana found it odd and furrowed her brow.
“It’s about balance, creating good energy, really interesting. You can read a little more about it. That’s a simplified guide.” Riker wandered back to the kitchen. “I’ll get our tea.”
Morgana flipped open the book and began to read.
A voice from the door bellowed, startling Morgana. “Hey Dad. I’m home.”
Morgana looked up and locked eyes with this new stranger. His 6 foot 1 inch frame blocked the light from outside. Silhouetted against the bright sky, she could still see his skin was darkly tanned and his piercing eyes black as coal. His hair was as dark as the jet black night sky. She inhaled and held her breath.
He was something to behold.