Oh dear. Owen just keeps getting deeper and deeper in it. There's nothing left to do but face the music.
“What are you laughing about?”
Aggie was hanging washing on the line. Owen sat on the log that had sat just outside the back door for as long as he could remember, and watched. She had her back to him, but he knew she was laughing. She didn’t reply, just dipped into the basket for another, snowy white sheet and threw it over the line.
“I know you’re laughing at me, about Bran.”
“Then why ask,” Aggie grumbled around a mouth full of pegs.
“Okay why are you laughing? Is this one of those times when you have fun laughing at me, then sit down and tell me how to get out of trouble? If so, can we cut to the good part? I really need your help, Gran.”
“That’s what you said before you into the situation in the first place.”
“I know, but— ” Owen sighed. “Alright, I didn’t listen to you. I didn’t follow your advice and just like always, I got into trouble. You know that if I promise never to ignore your advice again I’ll break it. I can’t help myself. I’m young and foolish.” He gave Aggie his best grin as she glanced toward him. She shook her head and tucked the spare pegs into a pouch at her waist.
Aggie stomped over and stood in front of him, her hands on her hips. He had to squint up at her because the sun was behind her. It made her look even scarier than she usually did, hardly even human. Owen cringed.
“Do you think I can make this go away? You have committed yourself to a shidh, and what’s more it seems as though he is a sidhe prince.”
“A prince? How do you figure that?”
“Who else would have mastery over air and water?”
Owen scowled. He hadn’t thought of that. It was true. The fey were usually drawn to one of the four elements – earth, air, fire and water – and stayed true to it. Bran, on the other hand, came from the water, but transformed into a bird and took to the air.
“Oh? Is that all you have to say? You can say “oh” until the cows come home but your situation will be no different at the end.”
Owen exploded. He rarely raised his voice to his grandmother, even when she was being immensely frustrating, however, the situation was racing out of control and he was lost.
“What do you expect me to say? What do you expect me to do? It’s too late. It’s done. I just need you to tell me how to get out of it.”
Aggie paused. The expression on her face was curious, almost confused. “Have I not taught you well enough boy? Do you not understand? When you make a bargain with the fey, there is no getting out of it.”
Owen’s heart plummeted, but he wasn’t prepared to let it go just yet. “But there must be something I can do. Surely Bran wouldn’t want to be married any more than I do. We’ve only known each other a few hours, barely had a chance to speak. How could anyone expect me to marry him at this point?”
“They expect it, boy. They surely expect it. In fact, I would be inclined to believe they demand it. First and foremost, Bran is a water elemental. Such beings cannot set foot on land without a powerful enchantment. Casting such enchantment costs. It was clear when you said Bran was in your room, not as a bird but as s boy, that the enchantment has been case, and now you have to pay the cost.”
“My life?” Owen almost choked on the words. “My life is the price?”
“Ock boy, you speak as if you’re to be sacrificed to a sea god. It’s not your life they want, only your promise.”
“Promise, what promise?”
Aggie shook her head, as she often had when he was younger and unable to grasp a lesson she was teaching. “There will be a promise, have no doubt of that. I can’t say for sure what it might be, but I can guess it will involve taking care of the boy, treating him like the prince he is. If he is to give up his home and everything he knows, it is the least he can expect.”
Owen opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again. He hadn’t thought about it like that; what Bran would be giving up to be with him. He thought about the music over the water, the way Bran floated, the way the light on the water played over his skin. It was clear the water was Bran’s element. His family were there. All his friends. Everything and everyone he knew. Yet he’d walk away. For Owen. He couldn’t for the life of him, understand why, but as Aggie would say “what’s done is done”. “Oh. Well, when you put it like that.”
Aggie dropped a hand onto is shoulder. “You’re a good boy, Owen. Foolish but good. If you’re careful this could be the making of you, and if not….” She shrugged. “The fey are tricky but they don’t lie and they don’t cheat if you keep your wits around you. It is your prince who will be your prince who gives his life, all you have to do is promise to cherish it. I know, at least, that you have it in you to love and care for another. Keep all this in mind and it might work out after all.”
Go check out the rest of the briefers. There's a good selection this week