The river was shallow for the first five feet, then it dropped off rather abruptly into a deep trench with a powerful current. Wyrinther swam with the sort of desperation only a panicked horse can exhibit, snorting and wheezing with effort. The frigid water was nearly over the top of her back, doing its best to tear her passengers from the saddle.
Simon was untroubled by the danger.
“Helicopter!” he declared, dropping the reins to point to a large dragonfly that was skimming the water alongside them in the twilight.
“Heli did what ta her?” Seoc inquired, clinging to Wyrinther’s mane for dear life.
Simon did not respond to the question. “Helicopter,” he sang. “Heli-heli-helicopter!”
“Simon, for Rezyn’s sake, the reins are there for a reason!”
“They’re for holdin’ on, you realize that, right?”
“Whirrrrrr,” Simon droned, ignoring the leather straps that Seoc was trying to force into his hands.
Wyrinther had found her footing again and began to climb up an underwater embankment towards the shore. Simon twisted around in the saddle to give a very profane gesture to the crowd upon the opposite bank, some of whom were now attempting to wade after them.
“HELICOPTER!” he bellowed.
“Shut up, Simon. Where did Seymour go?”
“Helicopterhelicopterhelicopter,” Simon muttered vindictively.
Seoc drove his elbow sharply backwards into Simon’s ribs, dismounted in the shallows, and began to look around wildly. “Sey? Seymour?!”
“Over here, little fish.”
Seoc ran—or wobbled, rather, as he was still feeling the effects of blood-loss, in combination with whatever numbing agent had been injected into his neck to keep him from struggling—to the sound of Seymour’s voice. The Aechyed had pulled himself ashore behind a boulder that lay about twenty feet downstream from where Wyrinther had left the water. Now he was lying sprawled on the ground, cold, drenched and utterly spent, shivering violently from head to toe. Seoc helped him to his feet.
“You shouldna ha’e swam,” the human reflected dispiritedly. “You were in no state for it.”
Seymour let out a single, mirthless laugh similar to the bark of a dog. “You aren’t looking too well yourself, little fish.”
“What a pair we mak’,” Seoc observed.
Leaning upon each other to stay upright, they began to limp back to Simon and Wyrinther. About halfway there, however, Seymour stopped abruptly.
“Is somethin’ wrong?”
“No…no…nothing’s wrong. Not wrong at all.” He looked down then, and he did not flinch upon meeting Seoc’s eyes. “I just wanted to say, I’m…I’m sorry for everything I did…”
“That’s alright, Sey, you dinna ha’e ta apologize again. I ha’e forgiven you.”
“No. It’s more than that. I apologized for insulting you, but I didn’t apologize for…I never apologized…I mean to say, there’s something I should have told you, and I’m sorry for not saying it sooner, and I think you already know what it is, but…” He swallowed and smiled nervously. “I love you.”
Seoc smiled back, and then, because he was suddenly feeling very reckless, he grabbed Seymour by the front of his collar, pulled him down to a more reasonable height, and kissed him.