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The Once and Future Champion

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  • manmiles
    Eternal Companion
    • Dec 2003
    • 509

    The Once and Future Champion

    The Once and Future Champion
    By manmiles

    It was a time when the Roman Empire was on the brink of collapse when Britain achieved its freedom. But it would not last and once again, the Romans came to conquer what they had lost. But it was at the borders of South Saxon that one man would emerge and forge a place in history and become timeless. This is the tale of Arthur Pendragon, King of Britain, bearer of Excalibur and Hero of the Balance. This is the tale of Arthur the King, Arthur the Warrior, Arthur the Lover and Arthur the Fool. This is the tale of Britain’s most glorious hour and it’s fall.
    This is the tale of Arthur, Champion Eternal.

    Chapter 1: A Destined meeting on the Hills.

    The wind was warm and brisk on the hill, but to Arthur Pendragon, it brought no relief. His father Uther was just one hour dead and it was he, Arthur who was now crowned as the Lord of the South Saxons and it was he must lead the remains of his father’s army against the invading hordes. His father had died of his wounds, the wounds the Roman archers had given him. Uther had loathed the Romans ever since the fateful day they had stolen Arthur’s mother and his sister and had taken them to Rome, but Uther’s hatred of the Romans was surpassed by his son’s hatred of them, now they had taken a mother, a sister and a father and now Arthur was left to take his father’s mantle and defend Britain from Invasion.
    He was not ready, he was only twenty-five years of age, but he was not ready. He may have been skilled with the blade and the bow and how to ride a horse, but to command men, to command good men into a situation from which they may never return alive, that was something that Arthur could not do.
    The voice made Arthur turn, the knight who had come on out to the top of the hill where Arthur sat was tall and his hair was long and dark.
    “What is it, Lancelot my friend?�
    “We have received word from the King.�
    Arthur smiled,
    “Then his Majesty will send us men, he will send us help.�
    “He is abandoning us, they are fortifying the next county to fight off against the Romans, our choices are to fight or flee to help our countrymen in their barricade.�
    “We cannot flee, Lancelot, we must give the King every extra hour we can muster. Even if it means our deaths.�
    “Well, to live or to die, to fight or to flee, whatever decision we make, can wait. We must return to the Castle, our scouting parties reveal that the Romans are closer than we think, they hide behind the mists.�
    Arthur looked over to the west; a mile ahead of them was a great grey wall of mist which seemed to have no end.
    “They hide behind the mists? Our enemies are indeed fortunate Lancelot, to have such a thick and slow moving mist in such warm summer weather is act of the Gods! It was if it was put there to aid the Romans!�
    “Can’t you feel it Arthur? There is a strange tint to the air…If I did not know better; I would say that Lucifer himself commanded those fiends!�
    “How very observant Lancelot,� said a voice, it was a voice without malice and was as cheerful as the birds in springtime, “there is indeed the influence of a much more chaotic power in these events than the mere hand of Lucifer.�
    The two men drew their swords.
    “Come out voice, and speak with us man to man!� shouted Arthur. The voice spoke again,
    “As you wish, my dear Champion.�
    Then suddenly, as if from nowhere, a figure appeared, he was a tall youth, not much older than Arthur, but his dress was not like anything Arthur had seen. He wore a brown cloak which had been repaired many a time, he wore a red tunic and blue breeches and at his side was sheathed a sword. Under one arm, he held a selection of parchment bound together with rope. Arthur sheathed his sword, this man was seemingly no threat, but Lancelot kept his sword in hand. The figure bowed,
    “Greetings Arthur, Lord of the Southern Saxons and future King. Greetings Lancelot, noble knight and ruthless lover. My name is Merlin and I have come here to aid you in your coming struggle.�
    Lancelot looked at Merlin with distaste, he did not take kindly to being referred to as a �ruthless lover’ (if anything, he was always gentle with his many lovers.)
    “How can you aid us, Merlin of the Tatty Cloak? Frighten the enemy away by waving your parchments at them?�
    Merlin’s face darkened,
    “These parchments are invaluable if you are to succeed in your quest.�
    Arthur placed a hand on Lancelot’s breastplate.
    “Peace my dear friend, peace. What quest do you speak of Merlin?�
    “A quest that will give you what you need to save your beloved country.�
    “An army? Do we go to recruit an army?� asked Arthur.
    “We do not go to find an army, but when we find what we seek, you will have a symbol that will inspire nearly all of Briton under your banner. But it is not a quest to be taken lightly for it will involve a long journey and many trials.�
    “What is this symbol you speak of?� asked Arthur.
    “The Black Sword, my dear Arthur, the Black Sword men call Excalibur.�
  • manmiles
    Eternal Companion
    • Dec 2003
    • 509

    Chapter 2: Freezing Time, Armies of Death and Sailing across the Ground.

    “The Black Sword?� said Arthur, “I have never heard of it, have you heard of it Lancelot?�
    “Never, this man is obviously either foolish or cunning,� scoffed Lancelot.
    Merlin smiled mischievously.
    “The most cunning of men cannot deny owning a small streak of foolishness.�
    Lancelot groaned and kicked at a stone with his foot.
    “How can a sword inspire all of Briton?� asked Arthur; “is it magical?�
    “In a way,� said Merlin, “but we’ll discuss it later. But come, we must go to my boat. There is a long journey ahead of us.�
    “A boat? We are many miles from land, Merlin,� said Arthur; “and the Romans will have defeated us by the time we have returned from any sea journey.�

    Merlin said nothing but slide a hand into his cloak, there was the sound of fumbling coming from inside the cloak then after a while, he pulled his hand out of his cloak revealing a metal sphere. He tapped various areas of its surface and it started to make a strange series of sounds.
    “It’s alive!� gasped Lancelot.
    “Alive? No, no, it is merely activating. Now could you please do me a small favour and dig me a hole in the ground so that I can bury this?�
    Lancelot looked at Arthur who nodded slowly, Lancelot groaned and began to dig.
    “What is it, Merlin?� asked Arthur, who was starting to feel that he could trust the strange man.
    “Do you understand what a �time manipulator’ is?� asked Merlin, Arthur shook his head.
    “It is one of these; it will be able to freeze time in this Universe for a short period of time, allowing us to travel and return in time with the sword.�
    “Incredible!� gasped Arthur, “a magical ball that can freeze time, Merlin, you must be a Wizard of the highest order.�
    “A wizard….yes, in a way I am.�

    Soon, Lancelot stood up grumpily and gestured down at a small hole. Merlin smiled and placed the sphere in the hole, pressed the surface and filled the hole back in.
    “There, now time as you two know it no longer works in this dimension, but we have to hurry, you two must return to your castle and change into clothes much more suitable to our journey, suits of armour simply will not do. But you must be quick.�
    “Why be quick?� asked Lancelot, “if time is indeed frozen as you say, then we can afford to take our time. Unless this is all some cunning Roman trick…�
    “This is no trick!� snapped Merlin, he picked up a small stone and threw it, the moment the stone left his hand, it froze in midair.
    “Time as we know it is frozen. The only things that are exempt from this is ourselves and any Chaos Entities, but that won’t matter.�
    Arthur and Lancelot stared,
    “What are Chaos Entities?�
    “Chaos Entities are the �supernatural aid’ that the Roman forces are receiving. The �forces of Satan’ as you would so describe them.�
    “But if they can still move while everything is frozen under your enchantment, then they can quite easily destroy England while we’re on this journey.�
    Merlin smiled,
    “No, it is impossible, time is frozen, therefore the rules of linear time are exempt, if you were to attack someone with a sword whilst they were frozen in time, and it would not affect them, but since we too are outside time, we can be slain and when time is restored, we will merely collapse down dead. The same principle extends to the fact that they will be unable to destroy any of the buildings or castles, the spears will merely freeze the moment they leave the hands of those who threw them, their strength will be unable to topple any tower, it is a simple law of time, when time is frozen, you cannot do things in this frozen state that will cause affects in time when time immediately begins running, everything will immediately return to where it was. That is how we will return so fast, the moment we take Excalibur, I will deactivate the time field and as time begins running, we will return to the exact moment where we were when time is frozen almost instantly. Do you understand?�
    “No,� said Arthur.
    “No,� said Lancelot.
    Merlin sighed,
    “Very well, run to your castle and change into some lighter clothes, I will go and get my boat.�

    Arthur tightened his belt and attached his sword and sheath to it. It was all so eerie, time was indeed frozen, when he had returned to the castle, he had seen warriors stand at perfect attention, he could see that the cook juggling apples in the midair and as he (and the apples) had been frozen, they hung in midair like a surreal tableau. He had changed from his suit of armour to much more comfortable travelling clothes of dark coloured breeches and a similarly coloured tunic and a black cloak rested on his shoulders.
    “Lancelot, can you see Merlin?� he called.
    Lancelot walked in, wearing the same kind of clothes as Arthur.
    “I see him, but I can’ believe what he’s doing. He’s dragging a small rowing boat across the ground and there isn’t a lake for miles!�
    “Well, you have to give this man a small element of trust, if he can freeze time, then we cannot question his insistence of bringing a row boat with him.�
    “Yes, I understand what you mean, but there is something about him that makes me trust him.�
    �In spite of his seeming insanity?�
    Arthur laughed,
    “Yes Lancelot, in spite of his seeming insanity.�
    A voice echoed from outside the castle.
    “My Lords! You may wish to hurry up, are enemies are here!�

    The two rushed outside to see Merlin pointing to the distance, next to him was a small rowing boat, made of wood. It was when Arthur stooped to examine the boat that he noticed that it floated two feet above the ground.
    “Merlin, your boat floats!�
    “Yes it does, it is not a boat for crossing water, but a boat that can cross the tides that link the realms of the Multiverse!�
    “What do you mean by Multiverse?� asked Lancelot.
    “Must you keep asking questions?� snapped Merlin irritably.
    “What is the problem?� asked Arthur.
    “The Chaos Entities have found us; it is much more horrific than I would’ve dreamed. They have sent the Army of the Dead to aid the Romans."
    Arthur and Lancelot looked over to see a grey mist heading towards them, but now they could see that walking from this mist was an army, an army of grey men. Merlin's voice was strong, but there was an element of fear running through his words,
    "The Army of the Dead were once men; they are composed of the remains of men who were slain by the Lords of Chaos, now forever accursed to a living death as soldiers that Chaos will happily lend to mortal allies, many of them are those foolish beings who dishonoured a deal with Chaos itself and as such, they meet a much worst punishment then their nightmares would have ever leant them. They exist for one reason and one reason only; to kill for Chaos has decreed that a soul can be made free when a replacement soul is given to Chaos. The ones at the forefront of the Army are those who recently died in battle against them, your own British kin, slaughtered by an Army who lust for freedom now desire to slaughter you and thus earn freedom.�
    Arthur shuddered,
    “Is there anyway to defeat them?�
    “Your swords, your arrows can do nothing against that foul Legion. They are beings of magic and it is magic that can defeat them. Only with Excalibur or maybe the Grail can you hope defeat them.�
    “The Holy Grail? How can a mere cup destroy a Legion of accursed souls?� asked Lancelot.
    “The Holy Grail is a cup of healing and it is through such powers that their souls can be healed and find some peace. But it is not your place to quest for such a thing. Get in the boat and we shall escape.�
    Arthur hopped in the boat and pulled a complaining Lancelot in. Merlin sat down in the boat and grabbed the oars and started to row. The boat started to move forward, as Merlin kept rowing, the boat started to lift up off the ground and started to move higher and higher. Arthur looked at the Army of the Dead, it was a truly horrible sight, they looked like men, but they were grey in colour as if composed of some sort of mist, but only their eyes had any colour for the entire eye was blood red, as Arthur stared through the Army, he could see that each approaching line of men was in a much more state of decay and death then the line ahead, it seemed that the recent dead were much more anxious for freedom while the ones that were merely rotting skeletons had been dead for so long, they may not possibly remember what it was like to be alive. But it was when Arthur saw a familiar face in the first line of the Army that he almost toppled from the boat.
    His father.
    His father was one of the cursed souls of the Army of the Dead. Tears started to fall down his cheeks out of sorrow.
    “Merlin, will Excalibur free these poor men from their enslavement to Chaos?� he asked in a cold, distant voice.
    “If they were slain by Chaos, but not aligned to Chaos, then yes, they have no bargain that needs fulfilling and thus the soul will be given the freedom it deserves, but if they were once Chaos’ treacherous lapdog, then they will be damned for all eternity.
    Arthur looked at Lancelot, and then at Merlin, then he looked out of the boat to see that the land had vanished and they now rowed on a sea of white clouds.
    “Then we must get the sword and then we must free those poor bastards from that living death.� He did not mention his Father, but Merlin looked at him, as if he knew what the Warlord was thinking, but he said nothing as the three men sailed the clouds.