Aengus had claimed to want to go onto the roof in search of cool air.

Aengus had claimed to want to go onto the roof in search of cool air, but Cat could not believe her furtive cousin had no other reason. Otherwise he would have invited Flann.

He wasted no time in revealing his other reason.

“Tell me about your elf.”

Cat would have liked nothing better than to talk about “her elf” – she had already exhausted her sister’s patience by describing every detail she could remember – but she mistrusted Aengus as she mistrusted all men at the moment.

“Does Egelric know you’re asking me about him?”


“I shan’t help you find him!”

Aengus laid his hand on her arm and leaned his head closer to hers.

“Cat.” Aengus laid his hand on her arm and leaned his head closer to hers. His face was in the shadow of the moon, but the candlelight behind the window revealed eyes that were very nearly like the gentle eyes he used to have before his ordeal. “I need your help. Will you trust me with your secrets if I trust you with mine?”

This was something else entirely. “Aye…”

“I shall tell you something I have only told Egelric, and you must tell no one else. Not your sister. Not even Maire.” He drew away suddenly. “Especially not Maire.”

“What is it?”

“I have an elf, too, Cat,” he murmured. “I wasn’t alone in that hole. There was an elf in there with me – a lady elf. A beautiful, beautiful, funny, sweet thing she was.”

'A beautiful, beautiful, funny, sweet thing she was.'

Cat gasped. She was not yet twenty, but she was old enough to recognize the beautiful, beautiful, funny sweetness of new love in a man’s voice. It was clear that Aengus would have liked nothing better than to talk about “his elf”.

“Her name is Lena. And the elves that found me took her away with them again. It’s but a servant she is, in their house or castle or cave, or what do I know? But I must see her again!”

He clutched at her sleeves to plead with her, and she was unnerved at the reminder of how Egelric had shaken her until her teeth chattered.

'But my elf was alone.'

“But my elf was alone,” she whimpered.

“But perhaps he knows her! Perhaps he knows how I can find her. Cat! Egelric’s friend Vash says that she is with child! My child! And what will become of her and him when he is born and they see he is a man’s son?”

Cat squirmed her sleeves out of the grasp of his hands, and then pushed him gently away by patting on his arm with her good hand. “I never did any such thing with the elf I met.”

'I never did any such thing with the elf I met.'

“I know, Cat! I’m not saying you did. But I did! And who can blame me? I thought I would die there!”

Now she could hear the horror in his voice as he recalled these two weeks of which he never spoke, and she did not think she could blame him, either.

“I don’t, Aengus.”

“I must find her. Perhaps your elf can help me. Even if only to tell me where they dwell.”

“But I can’t go to him,” Cat protested. “Egelric won’t let me out of the castle without him.”

“Will he let you out with me?”

'Will he let you out with me?'

Cat wanted nothing more than to see “her elf” again. She had spent the last four days plotting and scheming and utterly failing to find a means. Even when Egelric went out, Lili would not defy her lord.

And even if she had found an opportunity, Cat did not know whether she was brave enough to risk it. Egelric had apologized for hurting her, and the sight of her little bandaged hand with its splinted fingers made him look ill, but he was who he was. He had the devil’s own temper, as he said.

“I don’t think he would, Aengus. If he knows about your elf – about Lena – ” She wanted to grant him and “his elf” the honor of speaking her name, for it still troubled her to think “her elf” had never told her his. “He might suspect us together.”

“What about Lili?”

“What do you mean?”

“Lili doesn’t know about Lena. What if Egelric went out, and you asked Lili whether you could go out with me? We might take your sister, too, if she knows about your elf. We needn’t tell her about Lena.”

'We needn't tell her about Lena.'

Aengus leaned eagerly towards her, and Cat found herself slowly bending towards him as well.

“I don’t know, Aengus…”

“You could ask him what’s wrong with Wyn, too. You could ask him whether there’s something more that needs to be done for him.”

“He said there is a rush of water to the head, and he could not treat that because it was not in his nature.”

'He said there is a rush of water to the head.'

Aengus had spoken lightly of Ethelwyn at first; to him it must only have been another argument to convince her to help him find Lena. But now he stood straighter and wrinkled his handsome nose. “What does that mean?”

“I don’t know. He said he could treat the rush of blood and the rush of heat, but not the rush of water.”

“Is he a fire elf like Iylaine?”

“I don’t know anything about that.” She realized she didn’t know anything about him at all. She could almost envy Aengus and his two weeks.

“Lena is a fire elf, too,” he smiled. “She can touch fire and not be burned.”

'She can touch fire and not be burned.'

“Ach, he can do that!” she grinned, thinking of how he had kicked the fire with his bare foot – all out of frustration with her!

“Her name means ‘fire-​​light’.”

“You speak her language?”

“A little. ‘Pashrí’ – ‘It is dark.’ ‘Púl dasó?’ – ‘What is that?’”

Cat snorted. “A very useful question when you’re trapped in the dark with a man!”

'A very useful question when you're trapped in the dark with a man!'

Aengus laughed, and she with him, but both of them laughed like creatures in pain. Pashrí, she thought, was a more sorrowful phrase than Aengus knew.

“Do you know how to say ‘always’?” she asked him.

“No. I wish I did. I wish I knew how to say ‘I love you’, too.”

“Perhaps I shall ask him.”

'Perhaps I shall ask him.'