Friday, November 30, 2012

Episode 22: The Order Begins


Before I get to the epic finale of Tales of the Scarlet Knight volume 0, today is also my day on Briane Pagel's holiday blogathon (of doom).  One random commenter will get a copy of my novel A Hero's Journey, so you can read Volume 1 after Volume 0.  Hooray!
I wracked my brain to try and find a way to tie this and the holidays together.  I really can't because Christmas is a Christian holiday and Merlin, Marlin, Isis, and company are not Christians for the obvious reason this is about 2000 years before the first Christmas.  I could probably tie this better to Easter because Christ was resurrected after three days.  For Merlin it might take a bit longer--or did it?  Hurm.

Even someone as powerful as Merlin can’t recover from an epic battle like that in a day.   After waiting months for his return, I finally concede to myself that my master has died.  He had given his life to stop Isis.
On the first anniversary of his death, I’m sitting out in the hut Merlin and I shared for a short time.  It seems appropriate.  Beaux offered to come with me, as did Artr, but I refused.  This is a day I should remember on my own.
As I roast a squirrel over the fire, there’s a flash of white light.  “Master?”
“I’m afraid not,” a girl’s voice says.  It’s the same girl who visited us before, Anybl.  She invites herself to sit by the fire.
“To what do I owe this honor?” I ask.
“I wanted you to know, we’ve searched everywhere for him.  There’s no sign of Merlin.”
I nod to the girl.  “Thank you.”
She clears her throat and then adds, “There’s no sign of Isis either.  Or the Demon.  He did it.  He killed her.”
A shiver runs through me, though it’s not cold by the fire.  “No, I don’t think he killed her,” I say.  “Maybe I’m just paranoid in my old age, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her.  She is a god, after all.”
“Then what are we to do?”
“What he would want us to do.  We remain vigilant.  We snuff out the darkness wherever we find it.  We spread the light.”
She nods.  “I’ll tell my sisters.  What of the boy?”
“I’ll keep an eye on him.”  I motion to the squirrel on its spit.  “Now that we’ve settled that, would you care for a bite?”
“No, thank you.”
But before she vanishes, she turns the squirrel into a plump chicken, just as he did the first time he visited me.  Show-off.
***
Nine more years go by.  Under my tutelage, Artr is a good and decent chieftain.  The boy even takes a wife named Gwniver.  She’s not the brightest girl in the village, but she makes a rabbit stew to die for. 
At this point you might wonder if she is faithful to him.  From what Beaux tells me, she is.  They are fairly close; they go out into the forest to hunt rabbits together, leaving Artr and I to train for the Demon’s return, or any other dark threats to the village.
Beaux and Gwniver are out hunting rabbits one day when an old man walks into the village.  I’m the first to see him as Artr and I work on his spearcraft on the tournament grounds.  The man limps towards us, leaning on a gnarled stick.
“Ho there, friends,” the old man says.  “May a weary traveler partake of your hospitality?”
“Of course.  I am Artr, chief of this village.  You are welcome to stay the night with me and my wife.”
“That’s very generous of you, my lord.  Thank you.”
Artr shows the man into the village.  He doesn’t suspect anything.  Neither do I until the old man turns to me and winks.  Then I know my master has returned at last.
It’s tempting to run over and embrace him.  I manage to restrain myself.  If the master wants Artr and the rest of the village to know he is here, he would have said so. 
I keep his secret the rest of the day.  To the other villagers he’s just an old man who’s wandered into our village.  Most don’t pay attention to him.  Artr is courteous, as he is to anyone who shows up in the village in need of lodging and a meal.
After a dinner of rabbit stew, the old man gets up.  “Thank you for such a wonderful meal, my lady,” he says.  “If you will forgive this old man for leaving so abruptly, I have business to attend to.”
He hobbles off, presumably to piss.  I wait a few minutes before I excuse myself as well.  I find Merlin out on the tournament grounds.  He’s no longer wearing the old man disguise; he looks just as he did the first time we met.
This time I do embrace him.  “You’re back!  I had feared—”
“I did not die, but I’m afraid I can’t stay here long.”
“Why not?  You know the village would be honored to have you here, especially Artr and I.”
“I know you would, my friend, but I’m afraid the time has come for me to leave this world.”
“You came here to kill yourself?  Master—”
“No, my friend.  I am not going to kill myself.  But I must leave this world for another.  It’s not safe here.”  He explains to me about the battle with Isis and the destruction left in its wake. 
“It wasn’t your fault.  You didn’t know—”
“Regardless, I have always sought the light.  I have sought to protect people, not destroy them.  Yet this power of mine makes me a danger to this world.  That’s why I must go.”
“But what are we supposed to do without you?”
“As you’ve been doing:  you, Artr, Anybl, and her sisters.  You must continue to carry on in my stead.”
“What if we can’t?  What if Isis returns?”
He closes his eyes.  “There will be a final reckoning to come.  On that day, when the darkness is too strong for any others, then I will return.  In the meantime, I will leave this place and slumber until needed.”
“No, you can’t.  You can’t abandon us!”
“I’m sorry, my friend.  I wish things could be different, but the danger is too great.”  He pats my shoulder.  “Fear not.  You’ll see me again.  When it’s your time to leave this place, we’ll meet again.”
With that, he disappears.  I do see him again, much sooner than I’d have liked.  But that’s another story.

THE END

Of course if you want more, you can always buy Volume 1!  Or if you're a lucky commenter you can get it for free!
 At some point I'll probably collect this into eBook form.  In the meantime, you can always click the link on the right that says "Volume 0" or go to the Special Features tab.  A lot of what you read in this series is a spoiler for Volumes 3 and 8 of the Tales of the Scarlet Knight series, so just pretend to be surprised whenever those are released and you can read them.

Monday we get back to normal with an out of this world Phony Photos...

6 comments:

  1. Blogathon of boom? That sounds fantastic! Excellent conclusion to your story, too. Good sense of loss at the end. :)

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  2. Yes, excellent writing, Patrick. I love how all the ends get neatly wrapped up.

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  3. Did Tolkien ever explain where all the Elves go when they leave Middle Earth? Perhaps Merlin visits them?

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  4. This was a great story. I especially liked, although it's a minor detail, how you spelled the names, old-school style. It gave it more atmosphere than if you'd gone with "Arthur," etc.

    Thanks for taking part in the Blogathon of Doom!

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  5. Wait, did I miss something somewhere with the time setting? This is 2000BC or so? I guess I was just assuming that it was set roughly in other Arthurian time frames. >goes to digging back through the parts to figure out what he missed<

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  6. I've enjoyed reading this story and I'm sorry to see it come to an end. But then it really hasn't...has it?

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