This reads a little like a geography lesson of northern Europe.
I’m reminded of the quote: “it’s all a question of bridges,” but then, Logres cannot perceive those.
We discover Europa’s nature. Maybe.
Logres had found some driftwood near the lapping water and draped his tunic over it. He sat on the pebbles of the beach, looking at Libby splash around in the ankle-deep water.
“I was a bit surprised that you knew to help me,” he waved at the Channel, “when I, I don’t really know, shut down, halfway across.”
She grinned and made a dismissive gesture.
“Happens to all you of the land. I’d seen it before with some very distant relatives, so when we came to y’all’s home, I’d had Dutch-brother hang onto my shoulders while I swam just beneath him.”
Logres recalled something his sister said about his brother.
“You have gills, too?”
She tilted her head way over and used her hand to lift two flaps of skin.
“My sister,” he was practicing not using a diminutive when thinking and speaking of them, “said that your brother, Curtis, has been to the Moon. How deep in the sea can you dive?”
“Pretty much all the way,” Libby replied while balancing on the toes of her left foot and spinning about. “But, a dive like that takes a little preparation!”
He nodded, not understanding. After a moment, he reached out with his left to see if his tunic was dry. It was. He stood.
“Libby-cousin,” he said. ‘Manners,’ they were called. “I am going to change clothes, now.”
“Okay!” She continued her spin until facing away, back towards his home. She stopped and slowly hopped from one foot to another.
Water clothes off, land clothes on.
She turned around. He did see her eyes track to his waist first before meeting his gaze. She saw that he saw and turned just a little red. She stuck her tongue out at him. What did that mean?
“Lead on, Loggy!”
Again with the name. He turned and walked purposefully up the strand. He turned left slightly to follow up the course of the little river that lead inland.
“Hey! Loggy!” She yelled from some distance behind him.
“Yes?” he asked, turning. She had stopped about ten lengths from the water’s edge.
“Uh… where are you going?” she called.
“The shortest way to the Wall is this way,” he pointed behind him with his right arm.
She put her hands on her hips and began to tap her left foot.
“Logres-cousin,” he knew another talking-to was coming, “have you ever been inland with your brother, Joey?”
He considered that. They’d always meet along the sea or at inlets…
“No.” Oh. “You cannot come inland?”
“Well… I mean… I can… but dressed like this…” She waved at her bikini. “And, well…”
“You watch the seas; you are not comfortable inland.”
She pointed at him with her index finger and her thumb up.
“You are out of fuel?”
He watched her jaw open in incomprehension. She shook her head.
“Oh! You used one of Curtis’s words!” She laughed. Her chest did interesting things when she laughed. “Bingo can also mean, ‘that’s correct!’”
Logres considered Europa’s Gift; the maps.
“We shall walk next to the sea: northeast, then east.” He said. “There is a short neck of land. I shall carry you at haste across it.”
“Thank you, cousin!” She smiled and held out her right hand. He walked back down the rocky beach and took it with his left. They turned and began walking. Her feet a little bit wet, his mostly dry.
There were rivers – of course, there are, he thought morosely – and inlets to get through and around. In one particularly marshy, low-lying area, he told her to go on ahead: he would try what he’d learned when he first thought Libby’s laughter was that of Europa. He would run.
Around a great inlet and more rivers followed by another inlet. Libby was waiting for him in… northern Holland, Europa’s map said. They smiled to see one another and clasp hands again. They continued on together.
It was shortly thereafter when they’d come up the mouth of a great river that Libby’s steps slowed.
“Yes?” Logres turned to look at her.
“It’s… it’s getting’ pretty shallow here…” She did not sound happy. Ah.
He turned and placed his left arm behind her shoulders. He bent down and scooped up her legs with his right.
“Oooo! My hero!” She wrapped her arms around his neck, but this time did not kiss him.
He ran. The terrain was a blur, and he kept his eyes up and fixed on their path, no matter how much he desired to see what all the interesting jiggling was against him. They went northeast.
As flat as the land was, he spied the Wall long before they drew near.
“Libby! See, ahead!”
She’d been resting her head against his chest but turned left to look.
“Take me to where it ends at the water’s edge.” She looked up at him. “Take care, Logres-cousin.”
It was only moments later they stood on a sandy beach of the… Baltic Sea? Yes. The Wall extended only a few lengths out into the sea, perhaps to account for tidal differences.
“Even I could swim around it,” he muttered.
“Maybe,” Libby said, content to stay in his arms for a bit. “But they’ve things in the water, too. And the moment you came ashore, you would be noticed.”
He considered that.
“But you, in the water… you could?”
She turned her head from the Wall to look up the small distance between their faces. She smiled.
“Of course! I’ve snuck into their waters many times! Joey, too!”
His brother had been beyond the Wall!
“But then, why did you want me here, if I am the only one that cannot go on?” he asked.
He heard the splashing of feet in water. They both looked up and out.
“From my perspective,” Europa said, walking out of the water, holding an odd, sharp object in her right hand while she ran her left hand along the side of the Wall, “you need to help me understand just what I am seeing, beloved Logres!”
“She… she is Europa?” Logres barely perceived the whisper from his cousin’s lips. Libby whipped her head back to stare up at him, her face a mask.
“She is a spy, Logres-cousin.”