Eric doesn't believe in love at first sight. Well, not until he sees Merle.
She and a small group of other people are waiting for Eric as his steamboat docks on Blessed Island. How on earth did they know he was coming? See? This place is totally weird.
Along with this beautiful lady that Eric feels so drawn to, there is an older man named Tor who has one bad eye. This guy gives Eric the creeps. But, maybe it's just the eye. Sure. Maybe that's it.
Tor asks Eric how he got his last name—Seven. Is he part of the True Modern Church?
Eric explains that his parents were. One of the Church's teachings is that names are like shackles to history or weapons to be used against other people; members pick new names to free themselves from that. A number, like seven, doesn't have any meaning attached to it, Eric explains.
Anyway, Eric isn't religious now. He doesn't talk to his parents and certainly doesn't want to talk about them.
Tor remarks that they don't get many visitors on Blessed Island, so he wonders why Eric has decided to visit.
Oh, it's just for a newspaper story, Eric tells him.
When Tor wonders if Eric will be staying long, Eric says he isn't sure. And then he catches another glimpse of Merle. Oh, he's in deep.