Make your own free website on Tripod.com

 

 

Chapter 7

The Storms Break

 

Sinbad and Maeve were sitting at the table enjoying an evening meal (prepared by Daria this time) when the Caliph's caretaker appeared in the dining room's doorway. "I beg your pardon, sir, I do not mean to intrude on your dinner, but I have news you may want to hear."

"And what news is so important as to interrupt our dinner," Sinbad asked in an irritated voice. He was more than a little annoyed that their privacy had been violated.

"There's a ship just off shore. It's neither the Nomad nor any of my master's ships. I do not recognize it. It appears to be preparing to launch a longboat."

Sinbad instantly regretted his former tone of voice. "Thank you very much for that information. You did the right thing." Turning to Maeve he said, "I think that we should investigate this right away."

Maeve agreed. "Yes, this is very unusual. The Caliph made it quite clear we would not be disturbed."

The two of them hurried out of the room and were quickly on the path down to the shore. The Caliph's caretaker followed quickly. Halfway down, Sinbad realized he had only a small dagger. In Maeve's company, he had left his sword behind. "Maeve, can you go back and get my sword?" he asked. "If there's any trouble I want to be ready."

"Of course." She turned and fairly ran back up the path. As she went she felt a chill come over her which she knew was not due to the weather, as it had been quite warm all day and was still warm. She went even faster. She didn't like the idea of Sinbad meeting whoever it was virtually unarmed.

By the time Sinbad and the caretaker reached the stone dock, a longboat was heading their way. Besides the four sailors rowing, Sinbad could make out one female and two male passengers. As they neared the dock, Sinbad was relieved to see no visible weapons. Apparently it was not a raiding party from a rogue privateer. There would have been a lot more men in the boat, they would have been armed to the teeth, and there certainly would not have been a woman among them.

The longboat reached the dock. Sinbad and the caretaker helper the sailors secure lines to hold the boat fast, and then one of the males leaped onto the dock, steadied the boat and assisted the woman up and onto the dock. Sinbad could see that the woman was very attractive. She had a beautiful, mysterious face and long black hair. As soon as she was standing on the dock, she shook out her tresses and opened the cloak that she had kept herself wrapped in. Sinbad noticed immediately how shapely she was. He also noticed that she appeared in some distress and her dress seemed dirty and somewhat tattered.

She bowed her head in Sinbad's direction and dipped her body in a deferential way. "Good evening. Please pardon my appearance. My name is Diandria. I am so glad to see you. Our ship was in a terrible storm several days ago and nearly all our food was either washed overboard or so badly salt damaged as to be unfit to eat. When I spotted this island and the magnificent building on it, I hoped you might have some food for us." She paused for a moment.

Sinbad approached closer and extended his hand toward hers. "My name is Sinbad. I shall be glad to render whatever assistance to you as I am able."

"You did say Sinbad, didn't you?" the woman said, hardly believing her ears. She knew instantly that this was not the person that had betrayed her. He was too tall and the nose was wrong.

"Yes, I did. We have food here. We will be glad to share with you. How many people are on board?"

Diandria and Sinbad stood facing each other parallel with the shore. Maeve was coming rapidly down the steep path. Even from a distance she could see the curvaceous body of the woman Sinbad was talking too. They were standing quite close together and Maeve immediately could feel herself becoming possessive and jealous. She took a few more steps before the long black hair registered in her consciousness and instantly the thought came to her, Now where have I seen that hair before? It looks so familiar. As the answer registered in her brain, she halted abruptly on the path. Calypso! A dozen plans of action came to her at once. She didn't know whether to rush to Sinbad's aid, or to turn and flee up the path so as not to be spotted herself. She decided she would continue down the path and pretend everything was normal, then try to get Sinbad away from Calypso as soon as possible, if indeed it was Calypso.

She knew the answer to the last question before she got to within ten feet of the pair. She recognized Calypso's face. She would have to hope that Calypso did not recognize her. She could feel her skin go all prickly with fear. She knew that both she and Sinbad were in great danger. Her magic would be no match for Calypso's.

She came up to them and handed Sinbad his sword. He said, "Thank you, Maeve, but I don't think I'll be needing this." He buckled it onto his belt. "I would like to introduce you to Lady Diandria. Lady Diandria this is Maeve; Maeve this is Lady Diandria."

As their eyes met Maeve searched for any hint that Calypso recognized her. She saw no sign, which should have made her feel better but she felt that same chill again, even stronger. Still, she felt they needed to get her off the island as soon as possible. She turned her body away from Calypso and toward Sinbad and mouthed the words, I need to talk to you NOW! Sinbad turned to the caretaker and instructed him to show Diandria and her two attendants up to the house and feed them. Maeve practically pulled Sinbad aside and as soon as she felt Calypso was beyond earshot she said, "You must get her off the island as soon as possible."

"They've lost all their food, Maeve. We're going to feed them and give them…"

"She's not Diandria. She's Calypso, the enchantress that turns men into pigs, and we are both in great danger as long as she is here."

"You must be mistaken, Maeve. Diandria's ship was in a storm and they lost all their food."

"Lies! All lies!" Maeve said loudly, hardly able to contain her irritation. "That woman is Calypso, the enchantress. I cut off her hair, remember? And now she's here looking for me, I know it. We must get rid of her!"

"Even assuming you are right, Maeve, if we try to shove her back on her ship, she will know something's wrong."

Maeve considered this for a moment and realized he was right. "But she can't be left alone for a minute. Someone must be watching her constantly. If she tries to cast any spells, she will have to be killed. Her magic is much more powerful than mine is. If she figures out who I am, she will try to put a spell on me or have me killed."

"Maybe you're overreacting Maeve. She doesn't look that dangerous."

Maeve exploded in anger. "Neither did Rumina! There's more to a woman than her body, you know!" she said hotly. "Now let's get up there before it's too late!" She turned her back on Sinbad and started up the path at a fast pace.

Sinbad followed her, asking himself what he had said that could have made her that angry.

They caught up to the others just as they reached the entrance to the house. Sinbad stayed with the guests; Maeve went straight to the kitchen, where she found Daria.

"Daria, listen to me carefully. There are some guests here. One of them is very dangerous, the woman who calls herself Diandria. Sinbad and I are in great danger. This woman is a witch." She waited for the reaction she knew would come. Then she pulled out her dagger and handed it to Daria. "I want you to stay with her. Tell her we insist that you assist her and stay with her. If she acts in any way out of the ordinary, I want you to tell me right away. And if she threatens you, you must kill her. Is that understood?"

"I can stay with her, Mistress Maeve, and I can tell you what she does, but I could not kill her." She tried to give Maeve the dagger back, but Maeve insisted she keep it.

"Now go," Maeve said. Daria left with a stricken look on her face.

Maeve thought for a moment. She knew that none of her spells would be powerful enough to work on Calypso, but then she remembered that she still had some of the sleeping potion that she had used to make Sinbad sleep when he'd been in such pain from the dagger that Rumina had thrown. It was the most powerful thing that she had with her. She reached into her "office" and rooted around until she found the vial she needed. She filled 3 goblets with wine and dumped the sleeping potion in one of them, setting that goblet aside so she'd know which one was which. She could hear the others talking in the next room. Maeve could feel the hairs on the back of her neck go all prickly - the feeling of danger and evil around her was that strong.

>>>>>>>>>> * * * * * * * * * * <<<<<<<<<<

"I assure you that I will be fine alone," Calypso said to Daria.

"My mistress wants me to make sure your needs are taken care of. I cannot disobey her - she would be extremely angry if I did."

"As you wish then," Calypso muttered, her annoyance showing in her tone. She took a charm out of her pocket and held it up in front of her. It was a gold spider with a large ruby body. Calypso rubbed it with her thumb. "Two to eight, large to small, your new home will be the wall." The ruby began to glow. Daria stood there too transfixed by the magic she was seeing to react. Then there was a flash of brilliantly red light and suddenly Daria was gone. Calypso looked around the room carefully. Her gaze came to rest on a small spot in the corner of the room near the ceiling, and she smiled. "So much for you. Watch me as closely as you wish now," she said and then laughed softly.

Calypso paced back and forth in her room, trying to solve the puzzle. She knew that the Nomad had sailed just before she'd had her visitor, she was convinced that it had not been Sinbad who come to her. So if not him, then who? She already had descriptions of the other crewmembers: it wasn't the dark-skinned Moor, or the barrel-chested brother of Sinbad, or the curly-haired scientist with the big eyes. None of them fit with her remembrance. She remembered him well: the smooth, fair skin, the dark brown eyes and neat eyebrows, finely sculpted nose, and full lips.

Suddenly she stopped abruptly, her eyes went wide, her nostrils flared and she spat a guttural "No, it couldn't be." She shuddered from her thought.

Then she rushed out of the room. "If this is true, she will pay a thousand times over," she thought. Her three attendants were already seated at the table along with Sinbad. Maeve was just coming into the room, carrying three glasses. She and Sinbad exchanged furtive glances but they did not escape the watchful eye of Calypso. Sinbad and the three attendants rose at the arrival of Calypso. She slid into a seat near Sinbad. She watched Maeve closely; studied her features. Her head nodded slightly as she silently confirmed her suspicions. Her eyes went cold. She knew what she would do now. Turning her into a spider would not be punishment enough. Killing her would not be punishment enough.

Maeve approached the table silently and put the three glasses down before her guests, carefully placing the goblet with the sleeping potion in front of Calypso. Then she sat down on the opposite side of the table from Sinbad and Calypso so that she could watch her carefully. The attendants immediately drank from their goblets. Calypso raised hers and held it up almost to her lips. Then she paused and spoke to Sinbad. All the while she inhaled the essence from the wine. It was very faint but she could detect the smell of the potion's ingredients over the flavor of the wine itself. She took a small sip and put her goblet down. She glanced at Maeve and could see the visible disappointment on her face. Their eyes met and the look that Maeve saw in Calypso's eyes made her skin crawl and the whole room felt suddenly cold, though it was a fine summer's evening. Maeve knew that she knew. She felt the hair on the back of her neck rise and she felt her stomach knot up into a tight ball of fear.

Calypso also had finely tuned antennae. She felt the connection between Sinbad and Maeve. She also picked up something in the woman beyond the hatred and fear that were so obviously emanating from her aura. She decided to see what she could stir up. She turned to Sinbad and engaged him in a flattering conversation about his reputation. A few sideways glances at Maeve told her that she'd hit a sore spot. She decided to push a bit further.

She leaned over to Sinbad and rested her hand on his arm. Sinbad turned to face her at her touch and she smiled sweetly at him. "You must be awfully brave to face all these dangers all the time," she crooned. She stole a glance at Maeve. Maeve's face was frozen into a hard stare of disapproval. Calypso stared into Sinbad's eyes and transfixed him with her own eyes. Staring deep into his eyes, she summoned up a spell. Her eyes flashed briefly. Inside Sinbad, the tiny spark of interest that he had in Calypso suddenly magnified a hundred fold. And just as suddenly Sinbad felt a nearly overwhelming desire for the woman before his eyes.

Maeve had been watching the two of them carefully. She saw that brief flash of light pass from Calypso to Sinbad and almost instantly she felt a sharp pain in her chest. It was strong enough to elicit a vocal expression of pain. She brought her hand up to the spot and rubbed it, trying to erase the pain. She knew instantly something bad had happened, that Calypso had used some kind of magic on Sinbad. Rather too loudly, she said, "You're right Diandria, Sinbad is an extraordinary adventurer. I propose a toast to him." She held up her goblet and waited for the others to do the same. She needed to force Calypso to drink her wine so she would be subdued enough to handle safely. "To the finest man I could ever hope to know," she said. She drank deeply from her goblet, hoping her example would be followed. Calypso took the merest sip from her goblet and put it down.

Now she turned her gaze on Maeve. Their eyes met, and Maeve shot her a look of pure hatred. Calypso's gaze burrowed deep into Maeve's eyes and just as she realized the danger there was that same flash of light. Maeve felt the magic hit her. She had no defense for it. Her eyes ached with pain, and the world around her grew dimmer and dimmer. She felt dizzy and the world seemed to be closing in on her. She fought the feeling off and stood up. She reached for her dagger at the same time as she lunged toward Calypso, her face a mask of hatred. She spat out the words, "I should kill you." Then she felt a surge of blue light hit her and push her back, slamming her into the back of her chair. She slumped forward and her head swayed back and forth as she fought to stay conscious. She had to shut her eyes and hold her face with her hands.

In the distance, through a buzzy haze of dizziness and pain, she could hear Calypso remarking, "That wine sure went to her head fast." Then she heard both Calypso and Sinbad laughing together. A hard ball of hate for Sinbad formed in the pit of her stomach. It was a strong enough feeling to clear the haze around her. The anger toward Sinbad grew and grew until it possessed her totally. She stood up and glared at him, shaking her fist at him. "You… you… rotten bastard!" she spat out and then turned and stormed out of the house.

Once outside, the first thing that caught her attention was a gnarled old olive tree standing in the garden. She screwed up her face and a huge fireball formed in her hands. She flung it angrily at the tree and it burst into flames as the fireball struck. Maeve ran down the path to the sea at full speed, heedless of the danger to herself if she fell. She wanted to kill Sinbad and was running away to prevent herself from actually doing it. She knew she was under a spell, she could feel it inside her, but she was powerless to undo it.

After Maeve's outburst and sudden departure, Sinbad started to rise to go after her, but Calypso seized his arm and held him. He started to fight her to get free, but he made the mistake of looking at her. Her eyes caught his and all of a sudden he felt this enormous desire for her. Instead of pursuing Maeve, he pulled Calypso toward him and kissed her passionately. She let him kiss her for a few moments and then broke away, saying, "Sinbad, not in front of everyone."

He grabbed her hand and pulled her away from the table. "Then let us go somewhere else," he said insistently. "Now!"

She hurried to keep up with him, allowing him to lead her. When they got to the hallway that led to all the bedrooms, she said, "Let's go to my room." So Sinbad went past Maeve's room and his own room until Diandria said, "This one." Sinbad flung open the door and they entered. He swung the door hard and it slammed shut. Then he grabbed Diandria by the arms and kissed her again. This time Diandria responded in kind. She was eager to find out just what hidden talents this man with the well-known reputation had. They went at each other like two animals in heat. While he kissed her, his hands were already at her clothing and within a few minutes they were together on the bed.

 

~~~~~ * * * * * ~~~~~ * * * * * ~~~~~ * * * * * ~~~~~~

 

Maeve stormed up and down the rocky beach, kicking at stones as she went. Her rage was equal to a wounded tiger. She knew that Calypso's spell was causing her anger, but that did not make it less real or any easier to control. Somehow the spell was converting all of Maeve's energy into anger. All too vivid images of Calypso and Sinbad naked together, rolling on a bed somewhere flashed in her head and she could not make them go away. Interspersed with those images were other images of her revenging herself. In one scene, she burst into the room and when Sinbad broke away, she hurled a fireball at him and he disappeared in the flames. In another, she grabbed a dagger off the nearby table and slashed at him over and over until he was dead. In another, she attacked him with just her hands, scratching at his eyes, biting him, kicking him. With each of those images came a feeling of pleasure and peace. Then the scenes of him with Calypso returned, also too vivid for her. Sinbad on top of Calypso, the two of them laughing with pleasure. That made the waves of anger build in her, until she felt that she would burst. She closed her eyes, but that only made the scenes in her head seem more real. Again she saw Sinbad and Calypso meshed in wild lovemaking. She opened her eyes and saw them on the beach behind a huge rock. She stared at the rock and felt her eyes getting hotter and hotter. Suddenly a bolt of blue lightning leaped from her eyes and hit the rock, shattering it instantly. Blue!

Maeve knew that color was associated with black magic. Never in her life had Maeve been able to destroy an object with her eyes. Somehow Calypso was controlling her.

In desperation she cried out, "Dim-Dim, help me, help me!" He did not appear, and when the next wave of murderous anger came, Maeve in desperation picked up a grapefruit-sized stone from the beach and without hesitation, smashed it against her own head. Instantly, her world went black, and she slumped to the ground in a twisted heap, blood pouring from a big gash in her head that the rough rock had opened.

 

~~~~~ * * * * * ~~~~~ * * * * * ~~~~~ * * * * * ~~~~~~

Back in Diandria's room, Sinbad lay exhausted on his back after their third consecutive lovemaking. He was breathing heavily. Even as lay there seemingly totally spent, Diandria's hands were roaming over his body again, urging him on. She swung herself upright, straddling his legs and kneeled above him. Then she lowered herself down onto her hands, so her body was right above his face. She swayed her body enticingly above him, whispering to him, "Sinbad, I want you. Love me again."

Maeve's face flashed into his mind and he tried to resist Diandria's urgent voice, but then Maeve's image faded, and he reached up for Diandria's body with the same sense of urgency that a man wandering without water in the desert would feel at the sight of water. He rolled Diandria over onto her back and slid his body onto hers, feeling all the while like every ounce of his life was being drained away from him. He seemed powerless to resist her insistent charms.

Lying there on her back, Calypso gloated over how well her plan was working. The woman who had betrayed her was driving herself insane with jealously and would soon come and kill this man that was so assiduously pleasuring her. If he didn't kill himself first. Either way, she knew that this Maeve creature would suffer terribly. Maybe even enough to satisfy her thirst for revenge.

Then suddenly, Calypso knew something had gone wrong. Her connection to Maeve went black. The strong pulse of rage that had been coming from her disappeared. She knew she ought to find out what had happened, but she was enjoying something else that was happening to her right now. In a few minutes she would put a spell on Sinbad that would make him sleep for a few hours and then she could deal with Maeve.

 

~~~~~ * * * * * ~~~~~ * * * * * ~~~~~ * * * * * ~~~~~~

Chapter 8

Unexpected Help

The few minutes of pleasure that Calypso decided to enjoy would prove to be very costly. Had she known what was happening down on that rocky beach, she would not have been so complacent. Kneeling over Maeve's still body was a ghostly form. It was Artemis. Ever since Maeve had rescued one of Artemis's fawns, she had kept her eye out for Maeve. As a result of her help, Maeve had been able to steal the Crystal of Goodness that she had used to defeat Rumina. But eventually, Zeus had found out about her part in its disappearance and he was not happy. She was now out of favor with him and had been instructed not to interfere in human matters for two years as a penalty. She watched the events unfolding on the small island where Sinbad and Maeve were vacationing and she had obeyed Zeus's directive. But now, she saw that unless she did something, Maeve would die from her self-inflicted wound. So she had descended from the heavens secretly and using her magic powers, stopped the bleeding. She cradled Maeve in her arms and soothed her, sending her strength into Maeve. Slowly, Maeve stirred and a dim awareness of being conscious entered her brain.

Her mind was still confused though and when she saw Artemis, she somehow thought it was Calypso and she struggled to get up. Artemis realized that she was not thinking clearly and spoke to her. "Maeve, Maeve, it's me - Artemis. It's okay. Don't try to move. You've had a nasty bash on the head."

Suddenly Maeve was aware of an intense pain from her throbbing head, and also felt dizzy and weak. She slumped back into Artemis's arms. Artemis leaned her head down so that hers was close to Maeve's and spoke loudly and slowly. "I cannot stay with you long or I myself will be in danger from Zeus's anger. Listen carefully. I have temporarily blocked the jealousy spell that Calypso put on you. There is a spell on Sinbad as well so don't be surprised at anything he's done - he's not acting on his own." She paused a moment and got something from her waist. "See this?" Maeve nodded weakly. She was having trouble focusing her eyes. But she could see a golden, braided rope. "You must bind Calypso head and foot with this. And you must blindfold her as well. Then she cannot harm you or anyone else."

"But how will I get near enough to do what you ask?" Maeve queried. "Calypso will just use a different spell on me." Artemis took out her hunting knife and cut off a few inches of her hair. She slipped the tufts of hair into Maeve's tunic. "These will protect you, as they did before. I can give you no other help. I am forbidden to help mortals for a time. You must not tell a soul that I have helped you. And you must destroy the rope by fire when you are finished with it." With that, Artemis stood and vanished into a deep mist that suddenly surrounded her.

Maeve slowly sat up. Even so the pounding pain in her head was almost too much to bear. She rubbed her eyes, wondering if she had hallucinated the whole visit. But then she looked down and saw the golden rope glowing softly in her lap. And she lifted her tunic away from her breast and saw the clump of hair tucked in there. She struggled to clear her head. She was aware of a strong force pulling on her.

"Sinbad needs me. I must go." She struggled to her feet. Waves of pain attacked her. She stood still for a moment and then forced herself to move forward. She turned toward the path that led to the house and ignoring the intense pounding in her head, headed up the path. With each step she could feel the force that was acting on her grow stronger. She knew it came from Sinbad and it compelled her to move toward it. She tried to think of what she should do. She remembered Artemis's instructions but did not know how she was going to get close enough to her to carry them out. Even though she had the Artemis amulet of hair, she wondered if it would be strong enough to protect her from such a powerful enchantress. She decided that she must surprise Calypso from behind.

She labored up, step by step. The pain in her head was now continuous but this actually made it easier to bear than if it came in sharp spikes. The need to get to Sinbad drove her onward.

After what seemed ages to Maeve, she reached the top of the path. She passed the charred remains of the olive tree and stealthily entered the house. She let her instincts guide her. The force pulling her was very strong now and she let it direct her. By the time she reached the hall, she heard voices and headed toward them. She paused outside the door, which was closed tight. If Calypso was facing the door, she would see Maeve the second the door was opened. There was only the one door into the room and the small window was high on the outside wall. She would just have to take a chance. She wondered if she should just fling the door open and rush in, which was what she wanted to do, but she knew that a quiet approach would have a better chance at success. She lifted the latch and pushed the door open a crack.

What she saw was a total shock. Sinbad was lying on his back stretched out full length. Calypso's back was to the door. She was straddling Sinbad's body, leaning slightly down toward him. The sight of her totally naked back with her long black hair flowing down it was almost too much for Maeve. She stifled a shriek of anger, and slid the door open enough to get in. The rope was already in her hands, ready to use. Quickly, she came up behind Calypso and slipped the rope down over her. Instantly the rope knotted itself and pulled tight, trapping Calypso's arms in its grasp. Calypso screamed in anger and twisted her head around, trying to make eye contact with Maeve. But Maeve was already grabbing Calypso's hair in her two hands and pulled it around and over Calypso's eyes. Then she pulled it tight and tied the loose ends in a knot. She yanked Calypso off Sinbad, and took the other end of the rope and fastened Calypso's feet together at the ankles. Then she shoved Calypso roughly off the bed onto the floor. Without a means to soften her fall, Calypso landed with a thud. Immediately she began to curse Maeve, and struggled violently to get herself free. On the floor near Calypso, amongst Sinbad's clothing, she spied his dagger. Without hesitation, she picked it up and gripping it with two hands, plunged it directly between Calypso's breasts. Calypso screamed in agony and writhed on the floor as her life ended. The idea of killing someone was repugnant to Maeve, but she knew as long as Calypso breathed, she and Sinbad and everyone around them would be in danger.

Maeve rushed to Sinbad and threw herself against him, holding him, overcome with emotions, now that the danger had passed. Her head hurt terribly. She heard a horrible hissing sound from behind her and turned just in time to see Calypso's body change form into an old hag's body and then just disappear in thick haze of bluish-tinted smoke. The golden rope lay in the center of a large dark circular stain in the floor. She heard another heavy sound and turned her head in the other direction. There Daria lay in crumpled heap on the floor. Calypso's death had released her from her spell and she had dropped to the floor from the wall where she in spider form had been. She moaned and then slowly sat up. Maeve realized the situation and quickly covered Sinbad. He lay insensible on the bed. Maeve quickly got the golden rope and hid it in her largest leather pouch.

Daria rose and came to the foot of the bed. She pointed at the circular stain on the floor. "She turned me into a spider. I'm sorry Mistress Maeve but it happened so fast that I couldn't do anything. I've been up there all this time." She pointed up at a corner of the room near the ceiling.

Maeve realized the import of her words. "And you were there while... when they were..." She stopped.

Daria nodded her head shyly. She pointed at Maeve's forehead. "You're hurt. Let me get something for that. I'll be back in a minute." She left quickly. Maeve bent down and picked up Sinbad's clothing. She dropped them all on his chest and said, "I think you should get dressed now." There was no anger in her voice and indeed there was none in her heart. She realized that he had been under a spell and had no control over his actions. When he did not respond and just lay there, Maeve shook him gently until he opened his eyes.

Sinbad sat up slowly, very weak from his time with Calypso. He did not seem to be immediately aware of what had just happened. As soon as Maeve had knocked Calypso off him, he had collapsed into a stupor of exhaustion and had been unaware of what had happened around him during that time. "You need to get dressed now," she repeated to him. "Should I help you?" Sinbad looked up at her groggily. Slowly his head was clearing. "No, I can do it. Why am I here like this?"

"I'll explain it later," Maeve answered gently.

"You look hurt," Sinbad said, pointing at her head.

"I had an argument with a rock," she said lightly. "I lost."

Just then Daria returned with a basin of water, a wet cloth and some clean white cloth for bandaging the wound. She insisted that Maeve sit down immediately and let her clean her up, but Maeve suggested that they go elsewhere so that Sinbad could dress privately.

 

Within two hours Sinbad had recovered enough from his experience to have Maeve explain what happened since the moment he'd been sitting at the table with Calypso. She left out the part about being rescued by Artemis and tying Calypso up but told him everything else including how she hit herself in the head. He was shocked at what he done and started apologizing to her, but she dismissed it with the statement, "That wasn't really you that did those things." After she finished, Sinbad decided that he would tell Calypso's attendants that they knew who their mistress really was, that she had been killed and he would send them away in their ship.

While he did that, Maeve called Daria to her room and spoke privately to her about what she might have seen happen, since she had been in the room where everything had taken place. She quizzed Daria about what had happened in the room without revealing any information. Daria said that the last thing she remembered was a flash of red light from Calypso's eyes. "I knew that I should run away but I could not move," she said. "The next thing I remember was waking up on the floor."

"Calypso put you under a spell. That's why." Maeve herself did not know what had really happened to Daria, only that she had disappeared and then reappeared. "When I killed Calypso, the spell ended and you reappeared."

"I guess I won't be needing this anymore, then," she said, carefully removing Maeve's dagger from within the folds of her dress.

"Thanks," Maeve said, accepting the weapon from her.

"I'm sorry I failed you," Daria said in a small voice, hanging her head down.

"You had no time to react. It's okay. You have nothing to be ashamed of." She looked at the dagger resting in her palm for a moment. "It's a good thing I didn't have this earlier," Maeve remarked. She returned the dagger to its sheath on her belt. She was thinking that if she had had her own dagger with her then on the beach when she was trying to keep herself from harming Sinbad, that she might not have just bashed herself in the head with a rock.

Maeve realized that the room was slowly starting to spin and she lurched forward and was prevented from falling to the floor only by Daria's quick action. The aftereffects of the concussion she had given herself were beginning to be felt now. Daria helped her to the bed and made her lie down.

She put a wet cloth on her forehead and rushed to get Sinbad. He had just finished with Calypso's attendants and had put Daria's father in charge of their departure. He followed Daria quickly back to Maeve's room. He took one look at Maeve's colorless face and knew what must be going on. He knew the symptoms of concussion well, though he did not use that terminology. He turned to Daria and said, "She'll be all right. She's just had a bit of a brain scramble, that's all. That rock did more damage than she thought it did. She needs a good rest now. But she must be watched to make sure she doesn't heave her lunch. That's a bad sign. Bring me a clean cloth and a basin of cold water every hour, please."

"Yes, Master Sinbad. Right away." She turned quickly and left. Sinbad went back out to the dining room and returned with a chair, which he drew up to the head of her bed. He sat down and watched Maeve as she breathed. Her head was swathed in a big bandage. He could see the swelling from the knock she'd given herself even through the thick layers of the bandage.

"This isn't turning out to be a very good vacation," he said out loud.

 

The next morning Maeve was considerably better, though she had a very bad headache that lasted all day. Sinbad would have liked to leave the island because of Maeve's injury, but the Nomad wasn't scheduled to return for them for two more days. Maeve wanted to go out for a walk. At first Sinbad tried to persuade her not to, but she insisted that the sun would do her some good, so he relented. So they went out. Almost immediately they came across the charred tree in front of the house. Sinbad started to ask about it, but Maeve cut him off with, "Lost my temper, don't ask." And he knew better than to continue with his question. They strolled very slowly up to big slab of a rock that had a flat top, and they climbed up and sat down. Maeve sat with her knees drawn up to her chest and she rested her chin on her knees and looked out at the sea. Sinbad traced a finger over her back. Maeve was very quiet which was unusual. At first Sinbad attributed her silence to her condition but after a bit longer he sensed that something was bothering her.

"Is there something you want to tell me?" he asked quietly.

"Yes and no," she answered. He waited, hoping she would explain. "As usual, there are things I can't talk about because I can't. But I didn't tell you everything that happened yesterday. I don't know why I didn't, but I want to now. I should, I know. I said that I fell and hit my head. I didn't. I hit myself in the head with that rock."

"You accidentally hit yourself with the rock?" Sinbad questioned.

"No. I mean I meant to hit myself. I did. I smashed the rock right into my forehead," she said, a little perturbed that she had to repeat it. "You see, I knew I was under a spell. I kept seeing you with Calypso, you know, and I was having thoughts about hurting you because of it, thoughts I couldn't control, that wouldn't go away, and I knew I couldn't resist them. So I knocked myself with the rock to make them go away, so I wouldn't do anything to you."

Sinbad sat upright. He touched her bandage on her head. "You mean you did this to yourself so as not to harm me? You almost killed yourself!"

"But it was the thought of you with another woman. It was driving me mad. I would have tried to kill you."

"But it was the spell. Calypso put that idea in your head."

"No, not really. She saw a weakness in me and she used it. She was using it even before the spell. Like when she was telling you about how brave you were and all. That was for me. She did it to make me react. And once she saw this huge flaw in me, she took advantage of it."

"I've been thinking about what she did. All she did was magnify what she saw in me with her spell."

"She's dead now Maeve - she can't hurt you."

"Yes, she's dead but that monster is still there. She may still win."

"That's nonsense, Maeve. I think that rock is making you think crazy."

"I may be crazy but the rock has nothing to do with it. There's something I need to tell you..."

Over the course of the next half-hour Maeve laid her soul out on that sunshiny rock. She told Sinbad all about how she was trying to measure up to all the other women that had been with him. It wasn't easy and there were some long pauses of silence, but Sinbad kept quiet and just listened.

Absorbing everything she said, Sinbad sat and tried to think of how to respond. There was no way to say the truth in a way that some way was not going to cause her pain, at least on some level. He knew that. He also knew he had to say something because no response would have been worse. Grasping her by the shoulders from behind, he just began, grateful that he could not see her face or look into her eyes as he spoke. "After I met you, and we had known each other for awhile, and I had been with someone else for a night or two nights, there was always something missing. I didn't know what it was, but it wasn't the same, anymore. It didn't matter how pretty they were or how good they were, it wasn't enough. It took me a long time to figure out what was wrong. It was because they weren't you. And I spent a lot of time trying to find you in them but it wasn't ever going to happen because none of them would ever be you. When I wasn't with you, I wasn't complete. I didn't know that at the time. And when I finally did figure it out, you weren't the least bit encouraging that there ever would be an "us", so I just kept looking for what was missing in them. Being here, now, with you, is better than all those times with all those others. Does that make sense?"

In answer, Maeve turned around and they kissed, and felt herself relaxing in the warmth of their kiss and she knew everything would be all right.

The End

E-mail the author

carlsch@chi.tds.net