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Camelot Fallen

Camelot Fallen

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Published by: stumbleupon on Aug 15, 2012
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01/14/2013

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“It happens tonight. The
 
child must never see the light of day.”“Yes, my lord,” replied the smaller
creature
, “You have no need to worry. All will be done just asyou commanded.”
 
“You have always been a loyal servant, Oria
s
,” his master continued, “Do not disappoint me.”
 
“On my life, Lord Malphas, I will not fail.”
 With those final words, the one called Orias spread his black, leathery wings and began to driftthrough the cool twilight air. He flew low to the ground, careful to conceal himself within the shadows,and grateful for the heavy clouds that billowed in from the north, masking the sun as it lay low in thewestern sky. His would be a mission of stealth and precision. Lord Malphas had promised him thecommand of seven legions should he succeed, and Orias yearned for such an opportunity. After all, howhard could it be to murder a mere infant? With his twisted mind focused on the task at hand, Oriasslithered across the wild moorland landscape and into the outskirts of Tintagel, an isolated little villagenestled within the steep coastal cliffs of northern Cornwall. The rocky hills were dotted with modestthatch houses, and the cobblestone walkways were bustling with smithies, carpenters, farmers, tailors,fishermen, and all other sorts of folk on their way home for their evening meals. The landscape wasbrushed with patches of rough grass and heather blossoms, and in between the houses lay small squarefields of oats, rye, and wheat. In the center of the town stood a great stone castle, from whose highesttower flew a crimson banner emblazoned with the golden eagle of the Roman Empire. And within thewalls of that fortress, past the gatehouse and beyond the bastions and battlements, walked the town
slord and protector, a man known in those parts as Uther Pendragon. As a stalwart Roman soldier, onmost days he was a paragon of strength and leadership. But tonight he was a nervous wreck.Uther paced anxiously through the Great Hall, breathing rapidly and chewing his fingernails. It was adreadful habit, and his wife Igraine had scolded him for it on numerous occasions. He told himself thatit was a rather childish tendency for a decorated cavalry officer, but every time he forced his hands awayfrom his mouth, they quickly found their way back. However, on this night Igraine wasn
t around toscold him. On this night she was lying in bed, sweating profusely and wailing in agony, and each timeshe wailed, Uther chewed his nails more vigorously. Every so often one of the servant maids wouldenter the Great Hall and scurry past him toward the kitchen, and he would turn his head hoping forsome news
 –
any news. But eventually the maid would emerge from the kitchen carrying a towel or asteaming kettle or something, and she would disappear back into the bedroom without uttering a singleword to him. So, he went back to his fingernails.It wasn
t so much the wailing that bothered him. Uther had seen more warfare and bloodshed thanhe cared to remember, and by this point in his life, such sounds were almost commonplace. No, it wasthe source of the wailing that caused his anxiety. Igraine was delicate, frail even, and he hated toimagine her in any sort of pain. He loved her deeply and was often a bit overprotective, sometimes to
 
the point of her annoyance. So despite his consternation, Uther had to keep telling himself to stay outof the way. The servant maids knew what they were doing. Igraine knew what she was doing as well.After all, this
was
their second child.Uther and Igraine had been married for seven years now. They had first encountered one anotherafter Uther was sent to an outpost in Britannia at the behest of his father, the Roman EmperorConstantinus, also called theKing of the Britons.By the time Uther and his men arrived, the vastmajority of the Roman legions had been evacuated from the islands and redeployed to other, moreeasily accessible ends of the crumbling empire. He was to remain in Britannia along with a single legion,
Legio Draconis
, with orders to repel the Saxon hordes, who had been aggressively invading from thesoutheast. The pagan Saxons had been brutal and merciless, burning villages to the ground,slaughtering livestock, and abducting young women for their own lustful purposes.In the Roman fashion, Uther swiftly began recruiting indigenous Britons and Celts to assist in themilitary campaign. Several kings and tribal leaders joined his ranks, though not for the fading glory of Rome, but for strategic alliances in their fight against a common and previously insurmountable enemy.Despite their more primitive weaponry and armor, the natives had proven themselves to be valuableassets in battle, and with the warlords
aid and counsel, the Romano-British troops swept across thecountryside, systematically driving out the occupying forces until they had been largely pushed back totheir settlements on the southern coast. Before long, Saxon armies began to flee at the mere sight of Uther
s battle standard
 –
a gaping bronze dragon head followed by a long tube of red silk that billowedin the wind, forming the tail of the flying serpent. Uther
s ferocity as a warrior, along with Romanstandard he carried, soon earned him the title
Pendragon
, an epithet of fear and respect bestowed uponhim by his enemies.Following a series of successful campaigns, Uther and his men came upon a small Saxon raid nearRyskammel, a modest fishing village nestled along the banks of the River Alen. The small band of Celticwarriors defending the town had fought fearlessly behind their aging chieftain, but despite their bestefforts, they had been no match for the formidable Saxon raiders, whose greater size and statureprovided them with a distinct advantage. Fortunately, the invading forces were easily scattered by thewell-trained Roman troops, and their leaders were promptly captured or killed.When Uther first saw Igraine, she was tied to the back of an abandoned horse, bruised, weeping,and clothed in nothing but her woolen undergarments, undoubtedly claimed as a prize by one of theSaxon warriors.One look and he was unmade.The battle-hardened heart that beat within Uther
s breast instantly melted into a deep pool of adoration, and he was then no longer the rugged, stone-faced soldier who commanded a legion of fearsome warriors. Instead, he reverted into the eager lover of his youth, full of anxiety and hope, readyand willing to walk through Hell for a single touch of her hand.The girl shivered in fear as she felt her bonds being cut, but by the time she opened her eyes, Utherhad wrapped her in his cloak, and she felt herself being carried back to the village in a pair of strong,protective arms. When she timidly peered up at him, the big Roman officer told her that she was safe,and despite her marred features and stained clothing, Uther found himself overwhelmed by her beauty.Igraine smiled weakly, and her tears traced thin lines through the dust covering her face. Uponreturning her to the village, Uther discovered that she was the town chieftain
s only child, and in hisgratitude, he offered Uther his daughter
s hand in marriage. Igraine did not object, and the two werewed as soon as she recovered from her injuries. A few years later, Igraine gave birth to their first child, araven-haired baby girl they named Morgana.
 
And now, as the birth of their second child steadily approached, Uther grew more and morenervous. He loved little Morgana with all of his heart. He truly did. But on this night he was
 passionately 
hoping for a boy. There is just something about a father that yearns for a son
 –
a littleversion of himself that he can teach and inspire and raise to be a man. Uther daydreamed of thesethings until he was snapped back into reality by the growing intensity of Igraine
s wailing. He could hearthe servant maids speaking words of encouragement as his wife grunted and groaned and made all sortsof noises that he didn
t even want to think about. Then suddenly, it stopped. Uther took a break frombiting his nails and gazed toward the bedroom, his eyes wide open and his ears perked.The next thing he heard was an infant crying. A grin stretched across Uther
s face as he ran throughthe hallway, eager to meet the newest addition to his family.* * * * *As the last rays of daylight veiled the countryside in long shadows and the rich blue of the westernsky faded into brilliant shades of orange and pink, two figures dressed in cloaks of emerald greenappeared atop the rocky hills surrounding Castle Tintagel. They seemed taller than most men of theday, and their faces shone with an otherworldly glow. The old man had sharp features and a longflowing beard, but his pale blue eyes were soft and almost childlike. The woman was younger andbeautiful, with fiery, flowing red hair and piercing green eyes. When she spoke, it was almost like thesound of singing.
“It is beginning,” the woman
whispered
, “Igraine has given birth to a son.”
 
“The boy cannot stay here,” answered the old man, “Evil will hunt him, and he will never be safe
unless we take him from this place. His destiny is far too important for him to be left unprotected in the
fortress of a reckless Roman cavalry officer.”
 
“That Roman officer is the last son of the Emperor. He may be
a bit foolhardy, but his honor andcourage know
no bounds. He would surely make a fine father to the boy.”
 
“Aye, that he would.” The old man paused and gazed toward the horizon. He closed his eyes andbreathed slowly, as if in deep thought, then continued to speak. “But his time on this earth is sh
ort.Uther will not live to see his son come of age, nor will he live to see the day his elder child gives herself 
over to the darkness. For the latter, at least, I count him fortunate.”
 
“They are coming for him,” said the woman, as she gazed down at the
village below.
The old man frowned and began to speak quickly. “Go now,” he said, “Make haste to Armorica and
find a suitable place for the boy. I will remain here and provide whatever
defense I can.”
 The woman vanished into the mountain mist, and soon the evening shadows began to fade, leavingthe landscape shrouded in the darkness of night. The old man stood still and waited, looking downwardat the little town nestled among the hills. The air was quiet, and the torchlight gleaming from the tinythatch houses illuminated Tintagel like a second set of stars. Then off in the distance, the lights seemedto die away as a thick black vapor began creeping along the narrow cobblestone streets. A few villagersstill wandered the town, oblivious to the darkness that swirled around their ankles. They couldn
t seethe way Orias crawled toward the castle, scraping his talons across the pavement and frothing at themouth like a rabid animal. They couldn
t see the faint outline of the black, fibrous wings that propelledhim through the icy night air. And they couldn
t see his blood-red eyes staring coldly past a face onemight only imagine in the fiercest of nightmares. But the old man could see everything.As Orias crept through the darkness toward the castle gate, his twisted mind consumed withbloodlust, an evil smile stretched across his black, wrinkled lips. He chuckled to himself softly as he

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Tamara Fowler added this note
I love how you take the old and make it new. Very well written.

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