“Come on, already.” Fionnlagh shed boots and socks, cuffed pants, and waded in to the swamp. “You said you wanted to see.”
Eoghan lingered on the path. “I wanted to see. I didn’t say I wanted to go into White Swamp.”
“There’s no other way to see it. And it’s not like you can go alone.” Fionnlagh was moving fast, despite water that was knee-deep in places and ankle-eating mud in others. Soon, the swamp would obscure vision between the two entirely.
“Fionnlagh! Come onnnn.”
“You can’t see the House of the Mist from the path. You can’t see anything worth seeing from the land path. Now come on. Take off your boots and wade in, or don’t bother. It’s no use if you don’t get your feet wet, and sodden boots are exhausting.”
“Off? My boots? What if…”
“Nobody will steal boots from the edge of the White Swamp. You know that.”
Eoghan swallowed. A quick glance along the edge of the path showed that to be true… although the moss had grown up around the oldest pairs, there were boots there, just barely still on the solid land, waiting for owners who had never returned.
And, sitting within boot-lace reach of a pair so old they had hobnails – and a tree growing out of the left boot – were Fionnlagh’s, almost-new, fair-bought this summer and the shiny not worn off yet.
“Are you coming? Or will you spend your whole life in the safe and the dry, never seeing aught at all?”
One, two, Eoghan’s boots joined the others, generations of others, on the short. “‘Twill be the death of us both.”
“It may be, and it may not be. But I’d rather this death than a dry life, wouldn’t you?”
“I’m coming, aren’t I?” The water was surprisingly warm on Eoghan’s bare feet, and surprisingly deep.
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