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Tales From Camelot Series 9: WARLORD

Tales From Camelot Series 9: WARLORD

Автор Paul Green

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Tales From Camelot Series 9: WARLORD

Автор Paul Green

Длина:
1 203 страницы
14 часов
Издатель:
Издано:
27 дек. 2020 г.
ISBN:
9781005161309
Формат:
Книга

Описание

What is a Warlord? The answer may surprise you.

And Pirates in Camelot? Really? The surprising answer is yes, they really did exist, adding a whole new dimension to our stories.

We are in for one of our most incredible adventures yet, with some amazing, memorable new characters, in a gripping tale you will never forget. Batten down the hatches and grab some tissues, this one is going to be a powerful, emotional journey into a new frontier.

Издатель:
Издано:
27 дек. 2020 г.
ISBN:
9781005161309
Формат:
Книга

Об авторе

Winner of the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Paul Green (1894-1981) taught philosophy and drama at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a native of Harnett County, North Carolina.


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Tales From Camelot Series 9 - Paul Green

Tales From Camelot Series • Book NINE

WARLORD

paul green

Table of Contents

Cover Page

Title Page

Copyright Notice

Tales From Camelot Series

Reader Recommendation

Acknowledgements

From the author ...

Map of Pretania

Part One - A Pirate's Tale

~ Unfathomable ~

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

~ Cassiopeia ~

Map of Pretania

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Map of Pretania

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Part Two - What’s Past is Prologue

~ Casts and Crews ~

Map of Pretania

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

~ A Pirate’s Revenge ~

Map of Pretania

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Part Three - Warlord

~ Belonging ~

Map of Pretania

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

~ Commitments of Heart ~

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Map of Pretania

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

~ From the Ashes ~

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Map of Pretania

Chapter 69

Chapter 70

Chapter 71

Map of Pretania

Chapter 72

Chapter 73

Chapter 74

Chapter 75

Chapter 76

Chapter 77

Chapter 78

Chapter 79

Chapter 80

Chapter 81

Chapter 82

Chapter 83

Chapter 84

Chapter 85

Chapter 86

Chapter 87

Chapter 88

Epilogue(s)

Notes to the reader ...

Map of Pretania

Tales From Camelot Series

About the Author . . .

Copyright Notice

www.PaulGreenAuthor.com

Copyright 2018 Paul Green All Rights Reserved.

First Printing: March 2018

Revision A7

Printed in the United States of America. No part of this work may be used or reproduced, transmitted, stored or used in any form or by any means graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, scanning, digitizing, tapping, Web distribution, information networks or information storage and retrieval systems, or in any manner whatsoever without the express written approval of the author, except by reviewers who may quote brief excerpts in connection with a review.

For further information, contact info@paulgreenauthor.com

United States laws and regulations are public domain and not subject to copyright. Any unauthorized copying, reproduction, translation, or distribution of any part of this material without permission by the author is prohibited and against the law.

Tales From Camelot Series

Part One

Book 1: PENDRAGON

Book 2: CAMELOT

Book 3: CHAMPION

Book 4: SORCERESS

Part Two

Book 5: ROYALS

Book 6: EXCALIBUR

Book 7: CURSED

Book 8: LADY Part 1

Book 8: LADY Part 2

Part Three

Book 9: WARLORD

Book 10: MIRROR

Book 11: WYVERN

Book 12: QUEST

Grand Finale

Book 13: LEGEND

www.PaulGreenAuthor.com

Reader Recommendation

Due to the unique subject matter, this series will appeal to a very broad audience: teen to elderly, male and female alike.

Although some parts may be considered to be too intense for pre-teen or younger readers. Ages 13 and up recommended.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to all my reviewers. Your input has been invaluable.

Special thanks to Nathan and Geraldine, you are the best!

Thank you to my son Christopher for his help in designing the covers.

And extra special thanks to the One who gave me the desire to write.

From the author ...

Welcome back my friends to Camelot. This one's gonna be an emotional one. I'm not spoiling anything, just thought you should be forewarned so that you might prepare yourself. :) And we will be running the whole gamut of emotions in this outing.

By way of introduction, there are four things I want to impart to you in order to equip you for the journey.

First - some new - but old - concepts and customs. Specifically, we will be introduced to the concepts of Pirates, distilled alcohol and drugs, believe it or not. With the companion concepts of smoking - both tobacco and cannabis (that be marijuana for you more plain folk). I know this all may be a surprise to some of you, for when we think of Pirates we typically think of the 17th century Golden Age of Piracy (Blackbeard, Long John Silver, etc.), and Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean. Lol. Truth of the matter is, piracy dates much further back than most of us realize. In Arthur's day they were known as Goths or Goth Pirates; and they had been terrorizing Roman and Saxon controlled seas for more than two centuries. 6th century Pretania was now considered neutral territory to the Romans and Saxons alike, and also to the rest of the world. But even still, Pirates abounded as they followed no law or creed but their own. 6th century Pirates primarily made their profit by regularly trading and smuggling hard liquors, drugs and narcotics, cannabis and tobacco; all of which had been around and available since as far back as 3000 B.C.

Even distilled alcohol such as rum, dates much further back than most realize. While the concept of distillation had been around since 2000 B.C., the perfected distillation process we are familiar with comes from alchemists working in Alexandria, Roman Egypt, in the 1st century AD, later confirmed in 200 AD, when Alexander of Aphrodisias documented the proper process. We still use that same process today in modern times. Rum itself, which uses sugar cane as a base, originated in China several centuries earlier, and was already a prized commodity by seafaring traders, namely Pirates. In other words, think of 6th century Pirates as seafaring drug, tobacco and alcohol dealers, as well as plunderers of booty.

One other thing I should briefly mention. In this one, there will be a little swearing, but very mild. Nothing worse than what you already see on T.V. during family hour. It will only primarily exist within the context of pirates. Because ... Pirates!

Now, I won't be overindulging in such things, you know I prefer to keep things clean and wholesome. However if we are going to be true to the time period, then we cannot exclude some of the more unsavory types of characters and practices. But hey, these are Pirates, okay? Just sayin'. Yes, as I'm sure you can imagine, there were indeed cursin' & swearin' Pirates in the 6th century, and there was plenty of pillaging and substance abuse and other unpleasant practices. In 6th century Pretania, the most popular pirate haven was in the southern seaport of Hampshire which borders on the modern day English Channel. An updated map showing 'Pirate Town' in the south follows this forward.

The second introductory subject is that of musical soundtracks. A concept which I first introduced in my recent Dragon Legends series, I have decided to carry over this new tradition into the Camelot series. I have mentioned before that I think of my stories like movies as I write them, including soundtracks of mood-setting music I listen to while writing. By way of YouTube, I will now be including musical pieces at various junctures throughout the story with links. So if you have a YouTube compatible device nearby, such as a computer or smartphone or tablet, keep it handy if you are interested in listening to specifically timed music pieces interspersed throughout our story to better help set the mood and tone for an overall experience.

The third subject matter I wish to introduce to you is a brand new character. I won't give you any details, for this character's introduction needs to stand on its own. But it is an integral new character for this story. Suffice it to say, it's going to be a new and different type of character, unlike what we have encountered before in Camelot; and this person will be someone who adds to the emotional cauldron which this story will be cooking up and constantly stirring.

Lastly, I want to chat a little about 'The Lady'. Now that you have finally learned a lot about her, I want to take a brief moment to recap her story and explain some things - just in case some of it went over your head. :)

What we have learned thus far, is that once upon a time, there was a previous incarnation of Camelot; one in which everyone had died. The countless deaths were so exhaustive and devastating that the castle's floor was covered an inch deep in the dust of bones. The leading cause of the nation's demise was Nimue, Camelot's archenemy and ultimate nemesis - the powerful Archdemon who thought herself to be a god. In that 'before time', White Heaven's husband Hawk had been the last to die; horrifically, by being ripped apart limb from limb in his final moments. White Heaven, who had been the original 'Last Daughter of Shira', of course had also died; though no details of her death were actually given; only that she had died prior to her husband's tragic demise. We learned all of that in the opening sequence of LADY Part 2.

However, both Hawk and White Heaven had prayed final prayers just before they were killed. Hawk had pleaded with the One to hold himself accountable and lay everyone's death to his account; they were not to blame for his mistakes. The One had answered his prayer. And He did so, by granting Camelot a new age of grace; wherein He turned things back, in order that the Judge might redeem himself for having chosen the wrong path.

As far as White Heaven's final prayer, she too had pleaded with the One just before she was killed, to be the instrument to help guide Hawk down the right path. The One answered her prayer as well - by allowing her 'Memory' to continue on, even after she had died. Able to take illusionary forms, such as herself and even Ashes the cat, it was in fact her Memory which successfully guided both people and circumstances in the way they should go. Quite an amazing answer to prayer, wouldn't you agree? And then finally, her 'living memory' was eventually translated into Kea'Lani while she was still in the womb. Kea'Lani was born with the full knowledge of everything that happened 'before' in that once upon a time. She became everything that White Heaven was, and is, and more. And of course as we learned, her plan was to sacrifice herself in order to save Hawk; for that had been White Heaven's prayer and plan all along.

The result was, as we read at the end, her eventual defeat of Nimue. At least to some degree. Her foolproof plan to sacrifice herself and rid the world of the Archdemon was somewhat thwarted by her brother Kal. Who at the last moment had made an attempt to save his sister using Excalibur - who otherwise would have died in that final battle. Kea'Lani was spared, and she and her brother Kal were returned to Camelot - albeit two years later following their tragic 'deaths', only to learn everyone had been mourning them for the past two years. As for Nimue, she was - for the time being - banished to some unknown ethereal plane or nether-world, unable to return. At least, not right away. Merlin stated that eventually the Archdemon would find her way back; they had not seen the last of their archnemesis Nimue.

But, for the time being, the threat of Nimue was delayed and Kea'Lani has survived, and is now alive to fight another day.

Now this brings up the question - what all exactly happened in that 'before' time period? And is it somehow connected in parallel to what is happening now? Before this current new Act of Grace which we all know and love as current Camelot? We know that in that 'before time', Nimue had been behind it all, just as she had been this time around. However, all that has really been explained at this juncture is that Hawk had chosen a wrong path, in some way due to his deep love for White Heaven. In other words, he had been blinded by his love for his wife and made some wrong decisions. Things are different this time. Due to the subtle influence of White Heaven's living memory in our present era, his path has now been corrected. With some help from his skinny little gal pal Marcy. :) Who also, I might add, was later learned to have been orchestrated by White Heaven herself; as Marcy had not survived the previous go-around. It was alluded to that she and her BFF Ashara had both died at the foul clutches of that wretched Bloodwraith. Indeed, a lot of things have changed as a direct influence of White Heaven over the years.

Let me wrap this up by doing something you might find interesting. Do you remember the mysterious little excerpts from White Heaven back in LADY Books One and Two? At the time you didn't understand them all, they were only mere hints. For your convenience, here are the more pertinent ones. Not only will they now make perfect and complete sense, they will also help recap her story and prep our way going forward:

White Heaven. That is what they named me. I suppose on some level, I can understand that. After all, my hair is ... white. But the 'Heaven' part? No. That I cannot understand. If this is Heaven, then they do not understand the meaning of the word. For surely 'damned' and 'Heaven' ought never be used in the same context.

The world is not what it seems. What one deems real, is in truth an illusion. Reality is but one among many falsehoods. Shadows of truth surround us and pervade our senses, but we choose not to see. We fixate upon believable lies and pretend the shadows are not there. The shadows frighten us. We do not understand. Therefore they do not exist. I alone, walk amongst those shadows.

It is said, 'There is a path which seems right to a man; but in the end thereof, it leads to death.' The only remedy is to remove the path.

I alone walk amongst the shadows of forgotten memory, living and reliving what happened before. I saw all. I was there; though he knew it not. Even to his last moments.

Ultimately, it was his strong heart and noble prayer which won out in the end, and gave us this new act of grace. And I will not allow former things to repeat themselves.

He chose a wrong path. The cause was love; and I am to blame. I must tread carefully this time. For even now, love cannot be ignored - the bond is too powerful. Nevertheless, this time it is I who must walk his path in his stead, and remove the road he once sought to travel.

In this, I shall give him life, and I shall pass away. For the path of destiny cannot be exchanged nor altered without sacrifice.

Yes, White Heaven has indeed faded away. Or more accurately, the 'living memory' of White Heaven has faded away. Her mission is now complete, her job is done. And she is now forever gone. But then again, not really. For White Heaven's memory is now fully manifested in Kea'Lani. Kea'Lani is still whomever, and whatever she once was, and now is. But ... things are different this time.

And that - my faithful friends - is where this story begins. Hawk has changed. But his Lady is still the same.

I hope you enjoy this next amazing and emotional foray into the wonderful world of Camelot.

-Paul

Part One

A Pirate's Tale

~ Unfathomable ~

Chapter 1

The Following Day

March 15, 512 A.D.

For the first time following two difficult years of painful grieving and mourning, families and friends had once more gathered upon the beautiful shores of Lake Avalon - such as had been their tradition for many years. It was the annual overnight family excursion and everyone was there. Even Georgina's best friend Felice and Sten with their young son Elric had come all the way down from the northern Highlands; having departed immediately after receiving the wondrous news.

Now, most of the new generation of children had grown older by now, and were now in their early teens. But birthdays were still celebrated; besides it gave an excuse for their annual getaway vacation. There were many birthdays to celebrate to be sure, those whom were born on March 15. Even Georgina, whom everyone had finally learned a couple years earlier, who was also born on the infamous 'Ides of March' as coined by the Romans. And even someone else very special, who would also be there that day.

But there were more reasons to celebrate this year than just birthdays. It had indeed been two years since they last visited Avalon's shores, due to the difficult, mournful two years since the tragic losses of both Kal'ani and his sister Kea'lani in their battle against the Archdemon Nimue, over on the Isle of Avalon. The battle had been harrowing and dreadful, but nevertheless successful; resulting in sending away the powerful demon who had thought to be a god. But it had come at a terrible cost. Since that time two years ago, no one had returned to Avalon since. However, the time of mourning was now over; for just the previous day, to the great astonishment of all, Kal and his sister had miraculously returned to them after having believed to be dead.

Everyone was there; that is, except for Kal's sister. For she hadn't been seen since the previous evening's celebration dinner at Ben and Susan's ranch compound; a large family dinner comprising the families of both Ben and Arthur to rejoice in the wonderful news. Being that it was Week's End and that is was indeed the weekend of March 15, the decision had been unanimously made to reinstate the beloved annual holiday tradition effective immediately, and everybody had left early that morning via caravan to enjoy an entire blessed three-day weekend of joy, peace and reuniting loved ones lost.

As for where Kal's sister was? No one knew. She had been missing since last night's dinner. Though she had left a message for her mother Alana that she would meet everyone at the lake. No other explanation was given, not even to Hawk, as to why she had mysteriously disappeared during the night. Even Merlin and Kemuel had no idea where she had gone, or why.

But then again, she was who she was. She had always been mysterious; she had never been one to explain her ways or her purposes. So while all were concerned, and some even worried, most were unsurprised.

It was now noon, on a dark and overcast day. While the weather was threatening to drizzle, thus far the skies had played nice and remained dry. Hawk was standing alone on the shoreline, looking out across the still water at the mystical isle often shrouded in mist at the center of the lake. Remembering the unforgettable events from the previous sunny afternoon...

*** *** ***

His head had just submerged below the water.

When suddenly! To his great surprise, he was violently yanked up out of the water and flung all the way back to shore, and landed in the grass right at the water's edge with a soggy thud.

Stunned and disoriented and just having had the wind knocked out of him, Hawk shakily sat up, and looked around in an attempt to make out his assailant. But no one seemed to be around.

Until ... he saw her.

She was close by, casually and slowly walking towards him along the shoreline in the shallow ankle deep water.

And he couldn't believe his eyes.

His mouth dropped open and his eyes widened in shock.

She stopped and crossed her arms at him. And with a disapproving frown she shook her head at him. You do realize, I am not down there?

Speechless, he could only gulp in nervous fear.

He wasn't afraid of her, he was afraid she might not be real.

Whatever gave you the ridiculous idea that you would find me at the bottom of the lake?

Hawk began trembling as tears came to his eyes.

And look at you! You have not been taking care of yourself. You are wasting away! You have become a weak and pathetic excuse for a Judge. How could you let yourself go like this?

Tears began running down his face when he began realizing that she was in fact, real. For a delusion would not be scolding him like this.

Would it?

Although that wondrous magical dress she was wearing certainly contributed to the possibility that she might merely be a figment of his imagination.

Hawk. she continued, finally uncrossing her arms. Hear my words. I ... am ... real. Do you understand me?

He gulped again, and shook his head; afraid of the possibility that he was dreaming.

I am alive. And so is Kal.

His eyes widened.

And then, to his further surprise, Chaverim the Raven descended from above and landed lightly upon the grass nearby, as confirmation that the great love of his life, was in fact, standing before him, alive."

Stand. she ordered. You are a man. You are a Judge. I expect you to be and act like the man you were meant to be.

In tearful awe, Hawk did as she commanded. He weakly rose to his feet - all thin and gaunt 135 pounds of him.

Again she shook her head at him disapprovingly, as she looked him over from head to foot. We need to get you back into shape, Beloved.

Finally, once he was fully on his feet and standing erect, he managed to get out his first words: How ... is this possible?

Have you not said yourself, all things are possible with the One? Heed your own words, Judge.

Who ... are you?

You know me.

Do I? You ... look the same. Yet, you look different.

I am whom you have always known.

Are you ... White Heaven?

I am her. And I am not her.

Are you ... Kea'lani?

I am her. And I am not her.

Hawk shook his head. I ... I do not understand.

Come on, Hawk; come on back to me. You are stronger than this.

Hawk squinted his eyes at her, as if he might see her differently. But it didn't change anything. Hawk was genuinely confused as to her identity. Again he shook his head, trying to shake off his confusion.

She frowned again at him. I can see your mind is muddled. This is what you get for not taking proper care of yourself. Have you even eaten in two years?

I ... have eaten.

Clearly not much. Clearly not properly.

If ... you are not White Heaven, and you are not Kea'lani, then who are you?

That brought a slight - and mischievous smile to her face. The question everyone feels so compelled to always ask me. Does my name really matter?

I need to know who you are.

Her smiled broadened as she began walking towards him, in the gentle and shallow, inches-deep water of Lake Avalon's shoreline.

His eyes widened with every single approaching step, for with each step, she became more and more beautiful. His sharp eyes could see the faintly visible veins beneath her skin; an undeniable proof and testament that she was in fact, flesh and blood. But even more astounding, was that for the very first time ... ever ... Hawk could see her heart.

And even more astounding than that, was that he could see the intentions of her heart.

And those intentions were ... causing him to blush.

And she knew he could see the intentions of her heart. Which was why she was smiling mischievously. Because she fully intended to follow through on her intentions.

She continued walking towards him as his wide eyes continued to grow, and his face began to redden from the things her heart was telling him, until finally she stopped right in front of him.

In the still quiet moments of a beautiful spring day, with the soothing sounds of gentle lapping waves at the shore upon where they stood...

...finally she would answer the question he had been yearning to know.

Who am I, you ask? she said with twinkling in her eyes.

She raised her hands...

...towards her beloved...

And then, to his great surprise...

...she pushed him backwards! Playfully shoving him downward so that he tripped and stumbled and fell into the water with a great splash!

And now sitting in the shallow water, dripping wet and dumbfounded...

He finally got his answer.

Silly boy. I am the Lady of the Lake.

*** *** ***

Hawk's mind then drifted off to what happened next...

She knelt down in the inches-deep water beside him where he had landed. And before he could get out another word, she made good on her heart's promise which had given him reason to blush. As she pulled him down along with her into the warm shallow water, her kisses began passionate; but quickly escalated into ravenous hunger. Long ago, in another memory, she had been his wife. And she had been waiting to be with her husband again, for a very ... long ... time.

*** *** ***

A penny for your thoughts.

Hawk lurched as he instantly snapped out of his reverie, and spun around to see a diminutive 4'10 auburn-haired, blue-eyed Knight of Camelot grinning up at him. SARA!" he gasped in surprise.

Wow. Sara replied in tease. You literally just jumped out of your skin. What, pray tell, were you so deeply invested in thought about?

Hawk's face reddened as he stammered, Uh ... uh....

Her eyes widened in delight. Ooh! Did I pick a good time or what!? Look at you! You're all flushed!

Uh ... uh....

You know, to the best of my knowledge, no one has EVER been able to sneak up on Georgina or any other Protector. Are you sure you are a Judge?

Very funny. he replied with a slight scowl. Sorry, my mind was elsewhere.

Crossing her arms, Sara retorted, Oh I know exactly where your mind was at. Dang, you two must've had a majorly memorable reunion yesterday. Care to share?

Crossing his arms back at her in defiance, the Judge countered, Most certainly not! A gentleman never kisses and tells.

Oh please; there is WAY too much red in those Indian cheeks of yours to account for a mere peck. Whatever necking you got, you got got. And then some.

Hawk put his hand over his eyes. Sara, sometimes your slang confuses even me and I am a linguist.

A linguist from the 1800's! Welcome to the 21st century, Hawk.

It's the 6th century.

Don't I know it.

And for the record, my higher education at the University of London began in 1905 and lasted for seven years. I graduated with two PhD's in Ancient Languages and Ancient History in the year of our Lord, 1912. I am NOT some backwoods self-taught polygot dating back to the 1800's.

Uh ... polygot? Is that even a word? Never mind; who am I to debate vocabulary with a doctorate in ancient languages. Pity your second PhD wasn't in modern English or you wouldn't use words like that.

Hawk sighed. Fine, have your fun, future-girl. I will concede to yet another brilliant deduction on your part; Sir Sara the detective astrophysicist, I salute you.

Sara chuckled. Right. Even a mollusk can see what was on your mind. Seriously, you look like you need a cold shower. Want some ice?

Sara... he growled.

Touchy touchy! she laughed. Okay I'll cut you some slack.

I would very much appreciate it.

Sara smiled at him and touched his shoulder. Aww. You know I'm just teasing you. You're worried about her, aren't you? She'll be here, just like she promised. You just have to be patient.

Once more he groaned. As if I haven't been patient enough already?

Trust me, you have been very patient. More patient that I ever would have been.

Shaking his head, Hawk turned and asked his smart, auburn-haired close friend and oftentimes confidant, Did you see how awkward and uncomfortable she was with everyone last night during dinner? She seemed almost ... distressed. She hardly spoke a word; even to me.

Of course I did. While everyone was gushing over both her and Kal, myself included - and coupled with Kal's surprise announcement that not only are he and Kea'Lani back from the dead, but Kal and Shiloh are now officially engaged to be married! Woo hoo! Talk about a night of shockers! Though as for your girl? Yes, Hawk; she obviously felt a little out of place. But I'm sure you can understand why.

But I don't! I don't understand why! She is even back to her old routine of hiding her heart from me; something which only she can do. Why is she once more hiding behind a wall? Why did she act so uncomfortable around everyone? Even around her own family!? She hardly even talked to me! And then right after dinner, she disappears without a trace, without saying goodbye to anyone, save for a brief note of assurance to her mother. And we haven't seen her since. I thought the time for mystery and disappearing without explanation was over. Now that she is here for good, I thought I was done having to chase after her all the time.

Sara looked at him incredulously. You did NOT just say that.

What? What did I say?

Newsflash! Pinocchio is a real girl, now! Granted, the great love of your life is back in your life; and thank the One for that. But seriously, Hawk? I know you've never had an actual girlfriend before, but seriously?

Seriously ... what? And ... who, or what, is a 'Pinocchio'? That is Italian in origin, is it not?

Eh, never mind about that, Mr. Linguist. But don't ever give out love advice. Cuz even at twenty seven years of age, you still don't have a clue about women.

Great. Thanks for that.

Take it from me, you're going to be chasing after your mysterious lady friend for the rest of your life.

What does that even mean!?

Do you really need me to spell it out for you?

Apparently! I'm not following you at all, Sara. Would you mind dumbing it down for me?

Sara shook her head at him. You're such a man. Fine. Let me try to put it in layman's terms. Hawk? What's her name?

I don't even know that!

Exactly.

Sara! You're confusing me even more! White Heaven? Kea'lani? 'Lake Lady'? I don't even know!

She is all of White Heaven. She is all of Kea'lani. And she is a whole lot more. You have already known Kea'Lani; you had been with her for six years, ever since she was born. But it's White Heaven and the 'whole lot more' I'm talking about.

With an exasperated sigh, Hawk replied, I at least knew that much. That explains nothing. And even little Kea'Lani was a mystery to me in many ways, even after I learned her little secret.

Hawk? Think about it. How old is she?

And that's another thing. I don't even KNOW how old she is.

Did she tell you her age when you two were ... uhm ... married? Before? In her previous, uhm, pre-memory embodiment? Back when 'it' all happened before - whatever or whenever that was? Not that you were there yourself personally, that was, uhm, another you. But she was there.

Twenty. She told me she was twenty at the time she ... 'died' ... and we had already been husband and wife for a while by that time. And then now in present time as Kea'Lani ... who just two years ago WAS only six years of age, but then she progressed her age overnight to ... what? Sixteen? Ish? When she faced off against the Archdemon Nimue? So would that make her ... what? Twenty plus sixteen equals thirty six?

Not ... a clue. Sara chided, shaking her head in disdain.

How is my arithmetic unsound?

Try moving the decimal over a couple places. Sara answered. Hawk, maybe appearance-wise she's sixteen. But then again, all of Shira's daughters look youthful and ageless. Even Gwen could pass for a teenager and she's over forty! You want to know how old she really is, big guy?

Hawk turned and looked out at the lake. I think I know where you are going with this.

Yet you keep missing the point. As in the literal decimal point. Your math is WAY off. Try 20 + 16 + 1500. She's over fifteen centuries years old, Hawk! She is NOT ... a teenager; not by a long shot.

Hawk said solemnly, White Heaven's ... memory. Waited fifteen hundred years for me to be born. Before she could reunite with me - in the person of ... whomever she is now.

And she spent those fifteen hundred years isolated; waiting in her lonely 'safe place'; the place where you once visited her. Isn't that what you told me?

Hawk nodded sadly. To the best of my understanding.

She may have just been a memory, but White Heaven's memory is now once again flesh and blood; she's just as real and just as much a part of your girl as everything else about her. Fifteen centuries of isolation, Hawk. Fifteen centuries of utter solitude. Fifteen hundred years of aloneness. You don't think that's going to affect a person?

You are saying she is accustomed to being alone.

Duh! Don't you think ANYONE would be!? Of COURSE she's uncomfortable in social settings. Even when it's her own family! I'm frankly surprised she's not extremely maladjusted and needs years of freakin' therapy! How does ANYbody survive something like that without going utterly kookoo bonkers? I mean seriously, how does one even stay sane through an experience like that? She needs time, Hawk. This is all SO overwhelming to her. She thought she was going to die! That was her whole plan! For fifteen centuries she was waiting and planning to die in order to save you in the process! And now instead of being dead, she's back to real life again? Alive and well with the man who was once her husband fifteen centuries ago and having been utterly alone all this time!? She's going to need time to work through this. To say she's overwhelmed by this new reality would be an understatement.

Hawk nodded. That would explain why her mother, Alana, can relate to her so well.

Exactly! That's why they're so tight! That's precisely why Aunt Alana is so protective of her! Because Aunt Alana went through something somewhat similar herself when she came out of her coma. Very different circumstances and sure it was on a lesser scale, but Aunt Alana can at least understand and appreciate what her little girl is going through. The point is, yes; she is going to be 'mysterious'. Yes, she is going to need to disappear from time to time; she's going to need some space and time to get her bearings. You need to understand that being alone is all she's ever known for the vast majority of her extraordinary long life; even if most of it was in 'memory form'. But for her it's real; she's a memory come to life. Yes, Hawk; she is, and probably always will be, next to impossible to understand. In all seriousness, you want to know what I think her real name is? I'll tell you.

Unfathomable. he finished for her.

Unfathomable is right; I couldn't have said it better myself. But that's why you're so perfect for her. Not only because you're in love with her, but also because you are kind, nurturing and patient; those things are all part of your innate character and nature. That is exactly what she needs. Patience, longsuffering, dedication, and love. Besides her mother, you Hawk, possibly more than anyone else alive, are the one person who can help her adjust and reacquaint her with the world of the living. She waited for you for so ... long; now it's time for you to return the favor. It's going to be up to you to help her adjust to her new life in the here and now.

Still quietly looking out at the lake, Hawk quietly replied thoughtfully, White Heaven sacrificed her own existence for my sake; in order to correct my misguided path, where I had apparently gone off course - previously.

You want evidence of how much she loves you? There it is.

Hawk nodded. And yet I hardly know her at all. Thank you, Sara; your counsel is as insightful and sound as it always is. It seems I have ... much to learn, about a great many things. He paused and sighed. I still do not even know what happened ... 'before'. She has yet to tell me anything about what exactly transpired or how the end of everything all came about.

Fortunately, we have all had a Second Chance, thanks to White Heaven's unimaginable sacrifice. Still, what I really want to know is, where in the heck is Nimue, now? And how in the heck did she come to be here in the first place? That's what's been really driving me nutso. Call me crazy, but I think it's imperative that we learn the truth of not only where she went to now, but where she came from originally and how she got here.

Hawk sighed. We know we have not seen the last of Nimue; even Merlin confirmed that she will be back.

Questions and answers for another day, I suppose. This doesn't seem to be that day. I'll keep noodling on it, though.

One day at a time. Hawk nodded in agreement, as he began to grow calm and breathe easier. As it is written, 'Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.'

True, that. You have enough on your plate right now with your special angel being back in your life.

Well put, Sara. I think for now, I must learn who, and what she is; if I am going to be of any help to her.

I think, that when it comes to ... whoever she is, whatever she is, we all have much to learn. Because lest you forget, in addition to her many complexities, she is still smarter than all of us combined. Sara then smiled up at Hawk. Good news is, you've got time to explore that amazing mind of hers; she's here to stay.

Hawk turned and smiled back down at her. Good news indeed.

*** *** ***

As Gwen and Arthur were coming up behind him, Hawk suddenly faltered; and Arthur rushed forward to catch him. Easy my friend. Arthur smiled, as he helped ease the weak and frail, 130 pound, 6'4 Judge down to the grass in a sitting position. May I remind you that you are not at the peak of your former physical condition?"

Returning his smile in gratitude, Hawk replied, So I am continually being reminded. Thank you, Arthur.

Gwen nodded in agreement with a slight stern look. You should not be standing for long periods of time, Hawk. Have we not warned you accordingly?

Consider me scolded. Hawk chuckled.

Sara grinned at the High King. You arrived just in time, your Majesty; methinks the big guy would've squished me had I attempted to catch him.

Arthur laughed. I doubt that; he is not so big these days. Perhaps after Cook has had a chance to fatten him up and put some meat back on those skinny bones of his.

I am eating once again. Hawk countered. And I am confident Cook is adequate for the task; I just need time for my strength to return.

Sara crossed her arms at him. You shouldn't have let yourself go like that. Fortunately, now that you finally have your girl back, perhaps she can talk some sense into that thick Protector skull of yours.

Perhaps. Hawk smiled.

Suddenly, to everyone's great surprise, another astonishing event began to take place.

The startling occurrence began just offshore in the waters of the calm, still lake. The surface began to froth and bubble, caused by some underwater disturbance, as if something was rising from beneath.

And something was indeed rising from beneath. As people quickly began gathering along the shoreline to watch in awe, they all witnessed the same thing: the pointed tip of a sword slowly broke the water's surface - and continued rising higher and higher, revealing a long sharp double-edge longsword which was familiar to most; especially to Arthur, who had two years earlier thrown the sword of legend into the lake out of anger, for having taking the lives of both Kea'Lani and Kal.

But Excalibur was not rising to the surface of its own accord; there was a hand gripping the sword hilt as it rose. The sword continued rising skyward, with water dripping off all sides - and the hand which grasped the sword also rose up.

As the longsword continued rising and also the hand, confirmation was soon revealed that the hand belonged to a woman. And as many began to suspect in open-mouthed awe, the woman attached to the hand was none other than the Lady of the Lake. Her unmistakable head was the next to break the surface; her long snow white hair glistened in the sunlight breaking through the clouds. And still she continued to rise up out of the deep water, until all could see her velvety-looking long-sleeved dress the color of deep midnight blue. Holding Excalibur firmly in her right hand high overhead, the impossible scene of a woman rising from the depths and now standing atop the water was an indescribable sight for all to behold. There were nearly a hundred witnesses to a sight that all would remember for the rest of their lives. Even more astonishing was that while the sword itself which she held in her hand was dripping wet, the woman herself remained completely dry; there wasn't so much as a drop of water on her person.

But what the spellbound audience would witness next was beyond the realm of sensical belief. For just as her full form reached the surface and stood upon the waters as if on solid ground, the skies above suddenly began to change. As if she had power over the weather, the clouds darkened into threatening storm clouds and began to circle directly overhead. Accompanied by powerful blasts of thundering, lightning began streaking across the heavens and from cloud to cloud, until eventually the entire sky above was a terrifying massive lightning storm.

Then, while many cowered in fear at the frightening spectacle, she spoke forth a loud reverberating word of command, in some ancient unrecognizable language. At the very moment the powerful command left her lips, the vast sea of lightning above obeyed. Lightning from all four corners of the sky united together into a single indescribable blast of raw power such that no one had seen the like.

Even Merlin was impressed.

The unimaginably powerful bolt of crackling white lightning brimming with the power of the heavens rocketed down to earth in answer to her command, and struck the legendary sword Excalibur with all of its frightful might.

While holding the sword steady in her hand, the lightning bolt exploded into the weapon with such force that nearly everyone was thrown backwards from the powerful blast. Yet she held the sword steady without wavering. By the time everyone rose back up to their feet with their mouths dropped open again in awe, they witnessed the sword blazing blue with crackling blue lightning running up and down its full length; though the Lady of the Lake herself remained untouched by the deadly electric storm she had wrought.

But if that wasn't enough, what she did next was equally extraordinary and unexpected. She turned her gaze downwards back towards ground level, and looked directly at Arthur; her eyes shining brilliant white with fire. And then she began walking across the water towards Arthur, holding the terrifying sword stretched outwards, pointing in his direction.

Arthur began looking very nervous.

By the time she arrived at the shore, Arthur had fearfully dropped down to one knee in reverent homage; while most others began backing away. She was feared by many; especially those who didn't understand. And there was reason for her to be feared. For the intense look of displeasure in her eyes of white fire was unmistakable.

She came up on land, and continued walking across the grass towards him, until finally she stood before him.

Arthur's eyes humbly lowered to the ground as she approached.

When she stopped in place before him, she looked down upon him, with sword outstretched with its point directed at his head.

I am so ... sorry. Arthur spoke with humble confession. I should not have done what I did. For he had known exactly what he was guilty of.

Finally, she spoke, in a cool, accusing tone. Arthur Pendragon, son of Kemuel, you have been found wanting. Was this holy sword not entrusted to your care?

I know, I know. Arthur repeated staring at the ground, unwilling to look up and face her. I failed. I am well aware of what I had been entrusted with. I was angry. Kal'ani had been killed. You ... had been killed. And I blamed the sword for your deaths.

The holy sword was our salvation, not the cause of our destruction.

I know that now. I was wrong. I was a fool to have treated Excalibur with such disregard. I am unworthy to be called a son of Kemuel.

She continued looking down at him for several agonizingly long moments, holding the point of the sword threateningly at his head, still fully enveloped with crackling blue lightning.

Finally ... she lowered the sword. And she said, Your confession of your sin has been acknowledged. Your admission is genuine; your penitence has been deemed acceptable. Your transgression, Arthur Pendragon, has been forgiven.

Arthur breathed a deep sigh of relief. I swear, in this, I shall not fail again.

The Lady of the Lake nodded. So let it be as you have said. Your chosen status shall remain. But know this, should you disregard the One's mandate again, your rule shall be forfeit. And another shall be chosen in your stead.

Arthur nodded. I am unworthy to receive such grace. It shall be as I have said; I shall remain steady to my course, and I shall not betray the One, again.

So be it. Rise, son of Kemuel.

And so he did. After he rose upon shaky feet, he finally dared look at her. And even as he did so, he was still ashamed.

But before she handed Excalibur to him, she said something else extraordinary; something which greatly astonished everyone; even Merlin and Kemuel themselves. Know that upon receiving this holy sword, Excalibur shall be attuned to you and you alone. From this day forth, no other may wield it, no other may touch it, else they shall surely perish.

Arthur gulped and nodded. I ... I ... I understand.

She then turned the lethal sword of deadly blue lightning, sideways; offering it hilt-first to Arthur.

Arthur took one more long deep sigh, and then nervously reached out to accept it from her.

He wasn't nervous about being struck dead, for he felt he fully deserved it. Rather he was nervous about accepting the holy mantle that was once more being offered to him; for he knew he didn't deserve such an honor. For the first time in Arthur's life, he finally understood the true significance of the sword and what it truly meant to have it offered to him.

And then she repeated what she once told him many years earlier as a young fifteen year old boy. Arthur Pendragon, son of Kemuel, I offer you this gift. May you wield it with wisdom and honor. May you never require its knowledge. And may you always walk in grace. You are favored, son of Kemuel. The sword is yours.

With shaking hands, he reached out and accepted the amazing gift, taking Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake.

The moment his hand gripped the hilt, the sword exploded with an awesome display of lightning; blue lightning which now completely enveloped even Arthur himself. And then, as the sword instantly attuned to his spirit, the blue lightning covering both Arthur and the sword, instantly went out like a snuffed candle. And Excalibur once more looked exactly the same as it had looked before he had unceremoniously thrown the sword into the lake in anger. Once more, after she had released it into his hands, Arthur felt the familiar tingling sensation. The sword's weight was much lighter than other swords made of iron or steel. He knew that it was made of some unknown metallic-like material, which no one had ever before seen or known.

Thank you. Arthur whispered softly. Thank you, My Lady. I shall never again disrespect this holy honor."

She nodded at him in satisfaction. She then turned and once more stepped into the shallow water to leave. As she began walking away to head back into the lake, her final words she spoke were, Farewell, Arthur Pendragon. Be at peace.

Arthur nodded once more, and then bowed his head in reverence.

Then, just as she was stepping into the water at the shore, someone else came rushing forward in an attempt to speak with her - before she could 'escape'.

She paused and turned her head, and looked at Hawk. When their eyes met, he stopped suddenly in place. As she looked upon him, the look in her fiery white eyes was unreadable. Just as her heart was equally unreadable.

He opened his mouth to say something. Anything. Though he had no idea what to say. But as he did so - she did something else very astonishing.

After taking one long look at him, the Lady of the Lake suddenly dispersed herself into thousands of tiny water droplets. All of which then fell harmlessly into the lake, in a multitude of tiny splashes.

*** *** ***

After she was gone, Sara came up beside Hawk in awe.

Hawk spoke in a quiet whisper, Unfathomable, indeed.

With eyes wide open in wonder and finding herself nearly speechless, Sara could only manage a nod. Uh huh.

*** *** ***

Music track #1: Lady

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZdp-3B8X-ZSA-kL9E8QqnYG-ol_-CSw0

Chapter 2

Later that night

It was the dark wee hours of the morning; everyone else was fast asleep in their family tents. Deep in thought, Hawk sat alone on the grassy shoreline beneath a sky of twinkling stars and a bright full moon. At the moment, the mysterious isle in the center was completely shrouded by clouds and mists, rendering it invisible to those encamped on shore.

He had been staring at the waters of Lake Avalon for hours, thinking upon many things. Reevaluating many things. Reconsidering many things. His life had led him in many directions, but never with a clear course. He had always been somewhat in limbo, left to the mercies of his unique calling and circumstance.

People had always needed him and he had always responded as required. Now for the first time in his life, the Judge had an open future, with which he could choose his own path - a path which the original White Heaven had helped shape for him. She had used many people - such as Arthur and Marcy and others, and many other circumstances as well, to realign his path towards a more balanced and controlled future. Hawk had choices now, and he need not bow to pressures of emotion and reaction; rather he was for the first time free to make sound and wise decisions without a cloud of dread and foreshadowing of his lady's death hanging over his head.

He knew that deep down, as some suspected, he ran 'hot', and if he didn't keep himself under control he had a tendency to overreact to things. Ordinarily he was in full command of himself and his faculties, and remained calm and cool and collected in all situations. But it was an effort on his part; after all, it is only human for people to give in to their flesh. But it is especially disastrous for a Judge to yield to base human desire. Thus it was needful for him to begin each and every morning with prayer and meditation; else the wise Judge might not end up being so wise. Daily, he needed to empty himself, of himself; and allow the One to fill him and take control of his life. It needed to be a daily practice - a regular ritual and ongoing custom; for only with a regular process of re-filling himself with the One's presence and spirit was he able to maintain his center.

It was only because of White Heaven's many influences, both known and unknown, both mysterious and mystical, that he was now in the place that he was. Centered. Grounded. Solid. Committed to walking a right path. Once again, right where the Judge needed to be.

Apparently in some previous 'reality', which he knew about but didn't know the details, he had gone off course and had become destructive in his unbridled rage. Vengeance had become his god, and he had been completely overcome with revenge for terrible things that had happened; following the tragic death of his wife. In the end as he himself died, he redeemed himself by praying a final prayer of repentance; a prayer which had changed everything.

That was all he knew about what had happened before; such as she had relayed to him. It wasn't much to go on, but it was enough for him to know that he had been guilty of losing control, and it had not been a good thing. Now, in their current reality, the Judge was back on proper course. Wisdom and the One's Spirit was once again leading him in the ways he should go.

White Heaven, his 'wife', had done this for him. She had, in ways he still did not fully understand, freed him. And in so doing, she had paid the ultimate sacrifice: her own existence. Leaving nothing behind of herself except her memories, which now resided in a young girl, formerly named Kea'Lani - a now nameless and ageless young woman whom he didn't even know what to call anymore.

And so it was, that if Hawk was committed to anything, besides his unwavering commitment to the One, it was to honor White Heaven's memory, and to make sure her sacrifice was not in vain.

*** *** ***

As he sat in the darkness with his eyes closed and contemplating all of these things, Hawk was startled to suddenly feel a presence beside him - whereas a moment earlier there had been no one. It was as if the presence had appeared from out of nowhere. He opened his eyes and turned his head to his left. And smiled when he saw her; sitting upon her knees with her hands neatly folded in her lap, focused and gazing steadfastly upon the calming waters of Lake Avalon.

She said quietly, I love the sight of the moon's reflection upon the surface. It is beautiful; I find it mesmerizing.

Her long snow white hair shone, as it seemed to reflect the bright white moon's light. Her outer garment was white and partially sheer, with an inner garment the color of midnight blue. Nodding in appreciation of the indescribable beauty sitting beside him, Hawk replied in adoration, Yes. Beautiful, indeed.

She frowned. Hawk, I was speaking of the lake.

I know. he grinned. But clearly there is more beauty to behold than just a lake. You know, you never cease to amaze me? I never even heard you approach.

She sighed. Are all men as easily beguiled by their eyes? Are all men so limited in their focus upon the outward, wherein a person's true beauty is within?

Eh, I will plead the fifth. he teased.

She turned and looked at him disdainfully.

I am not that shallow; that was a joke. he clarified. "I am quite capable of reading hearts. Ahem...except yours of course; which I find very frustrating at times. And as for the jest I made, it was merely in reference to a phrase known to us from early America's Constitution..."

I am well aware of the reference from 1789, silly boy.

Hawk's eyes widened in astonishment. How could you possibly know that? You were born right here! In the 6th century, no less!

She turned and looked back at the lake. At least some things have not changed. You are as incorrigible as you ever were.

Hawk looked at her in surprise. I was incorrigible?

You never ceased expelling adulation in my direction; even after we were married. It was excessive and disconcerting to say the least.

Really? he grinned. I was always complimenting you? Sorry, Darling; but I am afraid that is a cross you must bear. I shall never cease telling you how beautiful you are.

She sighed. You are impossible.

Hawk laughed. Spoken like a true Daughter of Shira. Speaking of which, considering the temperament of your lineage, that was quite the show you put on for us earlier today. How very uncharacteristic, for those of your line.

She turned and gave him another annoyed, slightly irritated look. What I did, was born of necessity; not for reason of display.

Again, I am only teasing. I understand what you did and why you did it. You attuned the sword to Arthur, exclusively; so that no other may wield it. Hawk paused and sighed. Like Kal, for instance.

Kal should not have done what he did.

He saved your life! Yours and his! I call that a win.

Her eyes darkened as she glared at Hawk. At the expense of allowing an Archdemon to survive? At the expense of an entire nation? Millions of lives are at stake, Hawk. She will return; Nimue will eventually find her way back. I have no desire to see a dead world, again.

Then we will cross that bridge when we get there. We have bought ourselves time; you have lived to fight another day, as they say. But this time, my Darling; we will do it together.

But she was clearly still agitated. Nor had it gone unnoticed by Hawk that she didn't seem overly appreciative of his use of the word: 'Darling'.

Shaking her head, she countered, "It was within my power to unmake her; to rid the world of an ancient evil, once

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