Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Fantasy Revealed, Part iv

As promised, here is the next portion of Fantasy Revealed. Enjoy.

Fantasy Revealed, Part IV
By H.A. Handy
Copyright (c) 2005 by H.A. Handy


Horns sounded from the ramparts and people were moving toward the large gates with hope and awe, and a lot of curiosity. They were no more than hard working peasants trying to make a living in the small town that was springing up outside of the gates proper of Avalon. The ground beneath my feet trembled with the approach of many horses. Ella and Enyo snorted. Cappa, in Dremor’s saddlebag sunk down lower into it until nothing could be seen of her, not even her furry little ears.

Dremor was still facing the ground as more men, and women, appeared on horses. They carried different shields from the first group. The first group had shields of black with a red cross; this group had shields of light blue with a white eagle or bird upon them. The leader of the group was a tall man with square shoulders and steely gray hair. He had a beard and mustache that were also steely gray, but his eyes were a dancing blue. With grace he swung down from his saddle and strode toward me.

“My Lord,” Dremor said, bowing even lower and backing away a step or two from me.

Could this possibly be him, King Arthur, the real deal, the man of myth and legend? His ears were only slightly pointed and he was elegant in mien and bearing the likes of which I never really suspected could exist in anyone.

He studied me as closely as I was studying him. Finally he seemed to have made some decision because he stepped forward and extended his hand. Hesitantly I took it and he kissed the back of my hand lightly. He smiled down at me then and, without letting go of my hand, turned to the riders and chuckled. They, in turn burst into laughter.

“It appears we may be on our way to having some answers after all,” King Arthur said jovially. “Come lassie, it is time for you to meet Fredrick and perhaps save a kingdom.”

“Oh, no pressure,” I said as he led me forward. King Arthur’s men, a bunch of hard looking men and women, elven and human, and even a few dwarves were there too I could see.

I don’t remember much about entering the city except for the fact that when we came through the great gates, the castle was in the distance still and was quite huge, even larger than I thought it was from the road. It glistened, too, with different shades of stones and in the tallest tower there were two people moving about. I couldn’t make out any description of them except one seemed to be wearing blood-red clothes. My mind wanted to say “robes” but I couldn’t possibly be correct about that.

The road Dremor and I had been traveling on earlier appeared to end at the castle, which was now our continued destination. People ran up to speak quietly with the king, much to my surprise, and then would bow away. Several times King Arthur would call out to a person and ask how they were doing. In all my years of reading I never expected him to be quite so friendly, I always imagined him to be like a modern king, stand-offish and distant to his people. Of course, that was the 21st Century and this was...well, it wasn’t.

A child came running around the corner of a booth and bumped directly into King Arthur’s leg. Arthur looked down, said something in elvish and lifted it high into the air to spin it around like a top. When he put the child down it was laughing and giggling and dizzy. He steadied it with a very gentle hand and it went running away again.

A woman with long red hair and finer dress than the peasants I had seen so far came around the corner of a vegetable stand with a large basket in her hand filled to the brim with vegetables. She saw the king and came straight to him. King Arthur kissed her on the forehead.

“Keeper, I would like for you to meet my daughter, Elise.” Elise curtsied and smiled at me. She was smaller than her father and very feminine, almost frail.

“Welcome to Avalon,” she said sweetly. “I hope you will be able to help us.”

“I hope I will be able to as well.” And I really meant it. I wanted to help, but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what could have been hidden in my family for so long that would have any bearing for these people and their current need! It was enough to make you feel overwhelmed and over powered!

More people were coming down from the castle now. They were hurried according to the dust they raised. King Arthur made a soft growling sound and put his hands behind his back and rocked back and forth on his heels and the balls of his feet. Elise came to stand next to me, her eyes still on her father.

The new people were all dressed in blood red attire and carried flags of their own. Dremor came to stand between me and Elise and the dogs came closer to me as well. Maybe I was just over-reacting, but there was something about all of their actions that made me just a little nervous.

One man dismounted and approached. He was lean and tall enough to be considered lanky. He had long black hair and his eyes were equally dark. His skin was pale and delicate. Pointy ears peeked out of his hair and he had almost a ghost-like grace about him, as if his feet did not exactly touch the ground when he walked. Even though his face was set in innocent welcome, it didn’t extend to his eyes. His eyes were cold and calculating.

“Welcome to humble Avalon, Keeper,” he said, bowing low. The elves with him bowed from their horses. “I am Lord English offering my humble services to you.” There was little that was humble about him, I thought. “Our wizard awaits you in the castle hall my lord,” English said, turning to the king with a mixture of syrupy sweetness and malice which seemed barely held in check.

“English, I have not decided if you have been telling the truth of the matter,” King Arthur said suddenly, his voice dropping low. “I requested Fredrick’s presence HERE, not in the hall!”

“Please forgive me, my lord, I was only thinking of the Keeper and her fragile nerves. Fredrick’s appearance may be too much for her!” he said, his eyebrows lifting to emphasize his innocence.

“Fredrick, would you come here please?” King Arthur spoke softly, still rocking up and down on his feet. There was a humming and then a pop and a very small human was before us. He could have been five feet in height, perhaps, but I think he was really much smaller because he was shorter than me by a good foot! His hair was a mass of red and blond curls that went everywhere and his face was handsome and broad, as if he needed a lot of room for expressions there. He wore robes of violet and blue and he held in his right hand a staff with a gem of rich blue. His small hands made intricate signs in the air before he bowed low to the king and then to me.

“I’m sorry, milord,” he said to the ground, “but Lord English thought....”

“I know what he thought,” snapped the king. “But I do not believe I have lost in battle or become infirm? So this means I am still the king here of Avalon, not Lord English, though he does try to secure the throne with many deceits and trickeries.” English pulled himself up to his full height, and then some, because I was certain I saw his robes leave the ground by a good inch. “Elise does not wish to marry you. My son already sees through you at his age, and my dear wife does not wish you in her presence. Now you have disobeyed a direct command and stand before me as if YOUR feelings have something to do with importance here?!” The people were beginning to gather around us. Dremor took my elbow and Elise’s and pulled us slightly away and to the side. The air was tense.

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