star, a cold spark so bright it made me blink. I heard Thomas gasp, but I did not speak to him; I sensed that I had better waste neither time nor strength talking. I took the fey stone in the palm of my left hand, where it burned blue, blue. With my right hand I pulled the covers back from Nurse. Then my hand hovered over her until, with its own good sense, it came to rest on her chest just where her old brown dress opened into collar, where her breastbone widened at the base of her neck, close to her heart. I pressed my hand into the warmth that had cared for me from birth and whispered, âPlease.â
I could feel the life fluttering too weak in her humble neck. Other than that, nothing happened.
âPlease,â I said to the night, the stone shining true blue and relentless in the darkness. âI need her.â
Nothing. Not even a chuckle in the shadows.
Then, like the brat I was, like the mule-headed child she had raised me to be, I flared into rage because I was not getting my own way. âA pox on you!â I shouted at the night, at the distant, darkened moon, sending echoes and doves flying; I could hear beating wings and frightened whistlings overhead. âDamn everything!â And in that tantrum moment I somehow knew what I had to say, what I had to surrender. I yelled, âAll right, I am Morgan and I am fey, damn it, and I will beâI will be whatever I have to be to save her! Blast it, now make her well!â
Even after all these many years, I do not understand much better than I did then whence the power comes or where it goes. All I know is that it knocks me about as badly as any beating I care to imagine. It walloped me like a blow from Uther Pendragonâs mailed fist, like a quoit stone thrown at my head, like a whack from a not-so-playful giant, like being hurled off a cliff into the sea, thrown into a dungeon by huge enemies. All in an instant, not enough time to flee or even to moveâbut in that instant I felt Nurse move under my hand. I felt the great veins of her neck pulse strongly. I felt her start to sit up, and I heard her blessed voice exclaim my nameâand then darkness. I knew nothing more.
T HOMAS WENT AWAY ONLY A FEW DAYS LATER.
I had lain a day abed, weak and dazed, and then I was all right, although bruised. I hobbled when I walked, and Ongwynn said my face looked tragic, all great black eyes. She made much of me, everyone made much of me, and I gladly let them; it felt wonderful to be cosseted and praised. And it was all because I had dared to attempt magic. That power had made me a heroine. Ongwynn felt as well and strong as when she was twenty, she said. Better than before we left Tintagel.
That day, the day Thomas left, started like a song for me. Ongwynn had Morgause help her carry in extra water, and she heated the largest kettle over the fire, then called me to come bathe. She and Morgause had bathed in the cold spring pool, but there was warm water for me, to comfort every part of me including my soul, and Ongwynn washed my hair for me, and Morgause stood by and wrapped me in shawls when I was finished and made me sit by the hearth to stay warm. Nurse, Ongwynn I mean, started gently combing the tangles out of my wet hair.
I felt blessed and grateful, and such warmth of heart is rare in me. I blurted, âNurse, how did you come to us?â
She gave me her slow smile but said nothing.
âBecause you are Ongwynn, I mean.â Now I wanted my way, I wanted to know. âYou are a wise woman, a white witchââ
She said, âYou have more of the old, uncanny power than I ever will.â
The memory of that power made me shiver. Still, I had saved Ongwynn.... I asked humbly, âItâs not just the milpreve, then?â
âNo! The milpreve came to you as a ...â Ongwynn paused at length, listening within herself for the right word. âA sign,â she said finally, âand a blessing, like the crown on a