“Wow! This place is amazing, Dion! How did you find it?” Dion’s date – Brandy? Mandy? Gwen? Well, something like that... – tiptoes around the small rocks strewn about the soft sand lining the pool at the base of the waterfall. Her long, blond hair plays gently in the soft breeze as she looks at the landscape with wide, shining eyes, struck by the sheer beauty of it. Before them, the light of a full moon reflects its silver-white soft glow on the rushing water, lending it its hue and shine, mingling with the countless, fleeting drops to spread a delicate, silvery veil over the rock wall. Here and there, recalcitrant boulders and rocky ledges peek out of the water, piercing through it, turning satin into lace.
Taking her hand, Dion smoothly guides her to a small clearing where the waves of the fall break the mirrored finish of the stream. Dion happened to spy her, the daughter of a Fourth Ring merchant, one day while investigating a crime scene where, initially, magic had been reported to have been used. Youthful and pretty, her beauty would come close to that of many goddesses he had courted in the First Ring. Although he quickly determined magic had not been employed in the crime, Dion had remained at the scene under the pretense of performing further testing, effortlessly engaging the easily influenced girl in light conversation. By the end of his “testing” he had secured a promise for a social encounter, pleased that his skills were untarnished in his exile.
“This is just a little place I stumbled across some days ago, right around the time I had the most thrilling pleasure of meeting you. The way the sunlight hits the water during the day immediately reminded me of your lovely golden locks and I thought to myself that I really should not deny you the pleasure of gazing at this wonder of nature and knowing that, in all its breathtaking beauty, it can do no more than merely rival yours.” As he speaks, Dion lowers her to the soft sand and sits beside her, thinking, Not bad for a mortal. At least there is one out here worth my time.
Letting the gentle sounds of the waterfall create its own magic within the moment, Dion casually moves to a more intimate position, receiving what the girl probably thinks is a ladylike giggle, slightly louder and higher-pitched than would be desirable, in return. With practiced ease, reading all the signs of acceptance, he moves in, initiating the first kiss, the more intimate second, and then skillfully applying the slow kisses to the cheek, ear, and neck. Already receiving the responses he knows so well, he moves with stealth, using his charms to draw this easy target into his ownership. Slowly lowering her to the ground and gently peeling away her clothing, he feels her tremble under his touch, her soft moans filling his ears against the whispered background of plunging water. Smiling internally as his lips wander over her quivering skin, pleased with the anticipated painless success, he moves on to take her for himself.
Suddenly, something breaks the god’s focus and routine. He halts momentarily, looking up from his recumbent date. Forgetting the girl for a moment, he scans the area.
Noise by the water, more than the constant rush of the waterfall. Something moves there.
Perceiving some other entity nearby, he rises from his now-prone position, supporting himself on his elbows.
“What’s wrong?” the girl asks, noting the sudden break.
“Something lurks in the shadows nearby,” the god responds, gazing at the edges of the clearing, searching the shadows for answers. He recalls the battle he fought a week earlier, and the still-missing demigoddess who had inflicted such excruciating pain on him. Could the Dukaines be attempting an ambush?
“I…I don’t hear anyone,” she adds, half rising.
She reaches a hand up to his neck and gently pulls him down, inviting him, teasing him to return to their earlier activities. Dion looks down warmly at his date, who melts as she gazes into his hazel eyes. Kissing her lightly, he speaks softly, “Just wait here a moment. I’ll be right back.”
Jumping gracefully to his feet like a pouncing cat, the god soundlessly steps towards the stream. Extending his senses to their maximum magic-enhanced sharpness, scanning the landscape like a nocturnal predator, he hears a crush of leaves under a footstep.
There you are! Already raising an auric shield, he leaps over a boulder and confronts the trespasser, a woman, her face half-masked in blood. Her surprise at his appearance before her is quickly replaced by a look of grief and pain.
“Please help her,” she pleads. She takes a step towards him, and swoons. Recognizing that she is not a threat, indeed that she is suffering from a head wound, Dion catches her. She clings to him weakly, though he can feel that she is muscular, with a swimmer’s athletic physique. In fact, she is wearing a dark-blue one-piece swimsuit, wet, indicating that she has just been in the water. He suddenly realizes, as he feels the way power flows in her body, that she is not a mortal woman as he had first thought, but a goddess, or perhaps a demigoddess. He looks at her hand on his bicep, and sees the webbing between her fingers. A naiad? Or some water goddess perhaps.
“Help who?” he asks.
“My lady, the Oracle,” the priestess responds. “They’ve stolen the Pearl.”