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Posted on December 31, 2017 at 11:49:30 PM by Merlin
He awoke to bright sunshine and the sound of running water. Guy blinked, disoriented by the sudden glare. The soft scent of apples coloured the air, and somewhere in the distance a woman sang sweetly. He managed to sit up. The sun was warm but not unpleasantly hot, the air fresh like a spring morning after it rains.
“Hello!” Guy called, looking around. He wasn’t far from the edge of a little stream. The water was crystal clear, untainted by pollution. Flowers grew all around him, delicate in pinks, whites and purples, they clung close to the ground mixing themselves with the grass and moss. The whole place hummed with life. There was no reply to his call, but the singing grew louder.
She appeared on the banks of the river, her feet, pale and dainty, submerged in the babbling stream. It seemed she had come from nowhere, and she continued to sing. Her dress was silver but it shimmered and moved in the still air as if troubled by an insistent wind. It was only as he climbed to his feet that Guy realised that it was made from the water of the brook. Her dark hair spilled over her shoulder in perfect ringlets and when he reached the bank of the river she looked up at him with the greenest eyes, as deep and as vast as a pine forest. A small smile played in the corner of her mouth. She stopped her singing.
“Hello sweet prince,” she said in a voice as crisp and as clear as birdsong. “You have wandered far.”
“Who are you?” Guy asked her sitting down on the grass opposite. It felt wrong to stay standing, looking down at her from above like a parent speaking down to a child. She seemed as old as the world, and as new as the fresh buds of spring. “Where is this place?”
“A land of healing,” the woman replied, running her finger tips through the water before her. “Stay here long enough and this place would return to you what was lost…” She nodded down at his hands and he felt the missing sections of his fingers twitch. “But you must not stay, dear one. Nid dyma'ch amser chi.this is not your time.”
“I haven’t heard that tongue for a long time,” Guy told her, fighting back the wall of memories threatening to overrun his mind.
“Ond nid ydych erioed wedi anghofio”but you have not forgotten” she said. It was his turn to smile.
“Blyth,never” he agreed. And then, “how did I get here?”
“A happy movement of the heavens,” the lady replied. “You are of this island and your blood called out across the between-realms, your own magic, the ability to contact the dead permitted your consciousness to cross over in the moment of your distress and sent you to us for respite.”
Guy frowned at her. He could make little sense of it.
“You are dead, then?” he asked her. The lady’s smile grew.
“None on this island are ever truly dead, dear one. We all came close and sought refuge amongst the trees. Most mediums could not have found us. We wait here to answer the call.”
“What call?” Guy wondered. The lady clasped her hands to her chest, her eyes drifting off over his head to a point in the middle distance.
“The call of kings, my prince.”
He turned, hoping to find clarity in whatever it was she was looking at.
When he saw it, his stomach turned over, sending his heart into a frenzy.
A man stood at the top of the nearest bank, his trousers black, his simple tunic the richest blue Guy had ever seen. A silver band encircled his head, displacing his mousey brown hair and lending a lively gleam to his pale eyes.
“Father…” Guy breathed, hardly daring to believe it. And then the darkness of realisation drowned out everything else. As Arthur began his walk across the grass Guy looked back at the lady. “Then he is…?”
The lady’s smile was sad. “The cycle has turned again, that is all. But where one goes, the other soon must follow. One cannot exist without the other; the universe must have balance. He is safe here until he is needed.”
The warm weight of Arthur’s hand on his shoulder relegated every other trouble from his mind. Slowly, Guy turned. He’d never felt so nervous. A frown creased the king’s brow, and then his eyes widened in realisation.
“Gawain…” he said in amazement. Grey eyes drank him in, the tall athletic frame, the scarred face, the missing fingertips. He’d been thirteen the last time they’d seen one another, almost a decade, and so much had changed. “You weren’t dead,” Arthur said sadly, reaching out. He rested the palm of his hand against his son’s cheek. “Look at you…” the king smiled, “I never thought to see your eyes in a man’s face…”
Gawain was dragged into a tight embrace. He closed his arms around his father and felt instantly like a child again. His hands trembled. “I hoped I would see you,” he told Arthur as they drew apart from the hug they both wished could have lasted a thousand ages. “But not like this.” The king looked back at him like he hardly dared believe he was real and shook his head.
“I’m not important,” Arthur said. “Gawain, your brother needs you.”
“Tristan?” Gawain replied, his heart dropping another few inches. He would be...what? Seventeen? Eighteen? Too young to be a king, surely? “Father, what happened to you?”
“And what happened to you?” Arthur asked. “Son, I am so sorry I stopped looking. You cannot believe…”
Were those tears in his eyes? Gawain pulled him into another hug. “I know, Father…” he said, “I never blamed you.” They broke apart, but Arthur kept a grip on Gawain’s arm.
“Your brother has to fight for his throne. He can do it, I know he can, but Gawain, he will need guidance.” His throne...Tristan’s throne...or was it his?
“Do you want it?” Arthur asked, apparently sensing his thoughts.
He had once. As a child he’d thought of nothing else. He’d studied in the library until his eyes ached and practiced in the training yard until his limbs screamed for respite. He’d been determined that when the time came he’d be the best king he could be.
But that child, that serious, brilliant, determined child, felt like another person entirely. Whoever Gawain was, he wasn’t him any longer. He didn’t know Shaman. He’d grown up on distant forsaken planets with Scout, shedding his past because it had been too painful to hold on. Gawain the prince had perished in Lorraine’s winter.
“No,” he said, shaking his head, “no, I don’t. He’s your heir, not me. I’m…” He trailed off. He didn’t know what he was, but that particular path was closed to him.
“We’re running out of time, my King.” The lady said, walking across the water as easily as stepping over grass. “He must go.”
Arthur tightened his grip. “Find your grandfather,” he urged Gawain, “find Mallos. He will help you. If anyone can undo what was stopping you from coming home,” Arthur reached out and ran his thumb along the deep scar across Gawain’s right cheek, “it’s him.”
“It is time,” the lady said, stepping between them. She rested one hand on Arthur and the other over Gawain’s heart. “Goodbye, my prince,” she smiled, looking between them, “mae llawer i'w wneud.there is much to do.”
The wind picked up and it brought a thick fog with it.
“I’ll see you again,” Gawain told Arthur as his father faded into the mist. His world became a wall of swirling white, the lady’s singing filled his ears.
And then he was simply falling…
- part three - By Merlin December 31, 2017 at 11:48:47 PM
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