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Tales from Camelot Series 11: Wyvern
Tales from Camelot Series 11: Wyvern
Tales from Camelot Series 11: Wyvern
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Tales from Camelot Series 11: Wyvern

Автор Paul Green

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First things first, obviously don't read any further unless you've finished MIRROR. And avoid the temptation to skip to the end and ruin your whole journey. As you should know by now, I'm normally not a big fan of cliffhangers - but that ending in MIRROR felt right, and I wanted to leave a sort of haunting final impression with that story, which itself was a bit of a haunting story overall in some regards. I really wasn't trying to be cruel. Lol. But like I said, it felt right for the book. Unanswered questions I know, and so now it's time to get to those answers.

If you happen to be one of the those who checked out the early Preview edition of WYVERN containing the first nine chapters, you already know we're going to be in for another wild ride; though those first chapters barely scratch the surface. We've got 120 chapters to get through in this outing, and it's going to be amazing.

There really isn't much else I can say, except prepare yourself for more laughs and tears and everything in between - and even a shocking unexpected twist now and then which you've come to expect. Here we go once again in another unforgettable journey through the wonderful world of Camelot.

ЯзыкEnglish
ИздательPaul Green
Дата выпуска27 дек. 2020 г.
ISBN9781005381752
Tales from Camelot Series 11: Wyvern
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Paul Green

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 11 - Paul Green

    Tales From Camelot Series • Book Eleven

    WYVERN

    paul green

    Copyright Notice

    www.PaulGreenAuthor.com

    Copyright 2018 Paul Green All Rights Reserved.

    First Printing: October 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.

    Table of Contents

    Cover

    Title Page

    Copyright Notice

    Tales From Camelot Series

    Reader Recommendation

    Acknowledgements

    From the author ...

    ~ The 'D' Word ~

    Chapter 1

    Chapter 2

    Chapter 3

    Map of Pretania

    Chapter 4

    Chapter 5

    ~ Gathering of Forces ~

    Chapter 6

    Chapter 7

    Chapter 8

    Chapter 9

    ~ Shattered ~

    Chapter 10

    Chapter 11

    Chapter 12

    Chapter 13

    ~ Lies of the Serpent ~

    Chapter 14

    Chapter 15

    Chapter 16

    Chapter 17

    Chapter 18

    Chapter 19

    Chapter 20

    Chapter 21

    Chapter 22

    Chapter 23

    Chapter 24

    Chapter 25

    Chapter 26

    ~ The Light of Day ~

    Chapter 27

    Chapter 28

    Chapter 29

    Chapter 30

    ~ The Long Road to Stirlingshire ~

    Map of Pretania

    Chapter 31

    Chapter 32

    Chapter 33

    Chapter 34

    Chapter 35

    Chapter 36

    Chapter 37

    Chapter 38

    Chapter 39

    Chapter 40

    Chapter 41

    ~ Bonds of Renewal ~

    Chapter 42

    Chapter 43

    Chapter 44

    ~ Rebuffed ~

    Chapter 45

    Chapter 46

    Chapter 47

    Chapter 48

    Chapter 49

    Chapter 50

    ~ Roads Less Traveled ~

    Chapter 51

    Chapter 52

    Chapter 53

    Chapter 54

    Chapter 55

    Chapter 56

    Chapter 57

    Chapter 58

    Chapter 59

    Chapter 60

    Chapter 61

    Chapter 62

    ~ A New Day ~

    Map of Pretania

    Chapter 63

    Chapter 64

    Chapter 65

    ~ Hits and Misses ~

    Chapter 66

    Chapter 67

    Chapter 68

    Chapter 69

    Chapter 70

    Chapter 71

    Chapter 72

    Chapter 73

    ~ Before the Storm ~

    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

    ~ Storm Surge ~

    Chapter 88

    Chapter 89

    Chapter 90

    Chapter 91

    Chapter 92

    Chapter 93

    Chapter 94

    Chapter 95

    Chapter 96

    ~ The Early Bird ~

    Chapter 97

    Chapter 98

    Chapter 99

    Chapter 100

    Chapter 101

    Chapter 102

    Chapter 103

    Chapter 104

    Chapter 105

    ~ Butterfly Effect ~

    Chapter 106

    Chapter 107

    Chapter 108

    ~ The Other Shoe ~

    Chapter 109

    Chapter 110

    Chapter 111

    ~ Gifts and Givers ~

    Chapter 112

    Chapter 113

    Chapter 114

    Chapter 115

    Chapter 116

    Chapter 117

    Chapter 118

    Chapter 119

    Epilogue

    Notes to the reader ...

    QUEST Cover

    RECKONING Cover

    Tales From Camelot Series

    About the Author . . .

    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 ...

    This may be the shortest Forward I have written. Because to say pretty much anything would be a spoiler. But don't worry, I'll make up for it in the Reader Notes at the end. :)

    First things first, obviously don't read any further unless you've finished MIRROR. And avoid the temptation to skip to the end and ruin your whole journey. As you should know by now, I'm normally not a big fan of cliffhangers - but that ending in MIRROR felt right, and I wanted to leave a sort of haunting final impression with that story, which itself was a bit of a haunting story overall in some regards. I really wasn't trying to be cruel. Lol. But like I said, it felt right for the book. Unanswered questions I know, and so now it's time to get to those answers.

    If you happen to be one of the those who checked out the early Preview edition of WYVERN containing the first nine chapters, you already know we're going to be in for another wild ride; though those first chapters barely scratch the surface. We've got 120 chapters to get through in this outing, and it's going to be amazing.

    There really isn't much else I can say, except prepare yourself for more laughs and tears and everything in between - and even a shocking unexpected twist now and then which you've come to expect. Here we go once again in another unforgettable journey through the wonderful world of Camelot.

    ~ The 'D' Word ~

    Chapter 1

    Camelot

    Round Table Amphitheater

    It was morning, two days after. And all of the Knights had come home.

    Following their eventful and unforgettable time with the Pirate Nation and a good night's sleep back home in their beds, it was time for the Knighthood to return to duty. And the very first order of business was a calling of a very important Round Table session. Camelot had a new problem. A big problem. A problem which they had foreseen coming for a very long time.

    As of yet, neither Georgina nor Sara had told Arthur about Ben and the gang being missing; though they planned to immediately following the Round Table session. Nor had Sara returned back to the Ranch yet to visit her family; where it would then be discovered to her horror that yet another group had also gone missing.

    For the moment, all focus was on the Round Table meeting; where all but one of the official Knights of the Round Table were present for this all-important session. The missing Knight being Sir Tristan who had remained behind with his wife Isolde aboard the pirate ship, the Black Rose. But all of the rest were fully present and accounted for and anxiously awaiting to learn what was going on.

    There were no visitors this time; this time it was a private session with only bonafide Knights in attendance. Thus, with the only exception of Sir Tristin, the full roll call of Camelot's Knights of the Round Table now consisted of:

    King Arthur, High King of Pretania

    King Leodegrance of Cameliard - husband of Queen Anice (mother of Guinevere)

    General Bors - husband of Lady Deorwynn

    Marshal Bedivere - husband of Lady Alana (Protector daughter of Lady Georgina)

    Sir Accolon - husband of Lady Morgan (youngest sister of Arthur)

    King Lancelot of Hampshire - husband of Queen Ursulet (daughter of Guinevere)

    King Geraint of Hampshire - husband of Lady Elaine (eldest sister of Arthur)

    King Lot of Lothian and Orkney - husband of Anna (formerly Morgause), sister of Arthur

    Sir Gawain - husband of Shae (ancestor of Susan and Sir Sara from Ben's family tree)

    Admiral Percival - husband of Marcy

    Sir Mordred - husband of Ashara and Shephard of the Worship Place

    King Lohot - son of Arthur, husband of Queen Susan (daughter of Lady Georgina)

    Sir Sara - wife of Adrien (Camelot's Historian), and daughter of Ben

    Sir Tristan (not present) husband of Isolde, future Queen of Ireland

    Sir Galahad - Camelot's brand new and just recently appointed member of the Round Table.

    Now Galahad's new appointment had been a shoe-in and foregone conclusion; the rest of the Table had simply been waiting for the last and final 17-year-old Knight to mature enough to be added to the roster. After the recent events with the Pirate Queen, the young Knight had already proven himself in more ways than one - in wisdom, heart and deed. There was no longer any doubt or question in anybody's mind that Sir Galahad was ready; bringing the ruling Table to it's complete grand total of 15 members.

    Even their optional member Lady Georgina was present for this one; and surprisingly, because she wanted to be there. Oddly enough, Georgina was very interested in what was to be discussed.

    And so it was, that after a long hiatus, the first gathering of the completed version of the Knights of the Round Table was finally in session.

    *** *** ***

    Galahad was dressed in his typical long black woolen coat, as he opened the meeting with a deep heartfelt and meaningful prayer - something which Arthur had asked him to do - and had decided Galahad would continue to do from that time forward. While Sir Mordred the Shephard had previously been the appointed Knight to open in prayer, his heart had always been more on helping people than public speaking; for Mordred had always leaned more towards the shy side. Whereas Galahad was far more confident and sure; and Mordred was more than delighted to pass the torch on to their newest and youngest devout member. Where Mordred was a teacher at heart, Galahad was a born leader.

    After the opening prayer, Arthur then rose to his feet to begin the meeting, and the session was officially underway. The overall tone was serious, and Arthur was equally serious. In was not a time for fun and games and everyone knew it. After thanking and acknowledging Galahad's first official prayer, Arthur then turned to address the group as he commonly did with his usual introduction.

    Let me start by saying... Arthur began, ...that we all knew this day was coming; this is not a surprise to any of us. We have all known that there was something beneath us for decades; and that it has never been a matter of 'if', but 'when'. Well it seems that day has finally come, and that is why we have gathered. Now while I know how much you enjoy my speeches, I am afraid I must disappoint you, in that I have asked Sir Sara to start by presenting her findings, so that we might better understand exactly what we are dealing with. So without further delay... Arthur then nodded at Sara, ...Sir Knight, the Round Table is yours.

    As Arthur sat down, all eyes turned to their favorite diminutive 4'11" auburn-haired Knight.

    Gee, no pressure. Sara said as she remained seated while looking around at the nation's most powerful leaders staring at her with anxious worry and concern. "Okay, so ... let's pretend that nobody is giving me the eyeball and get to it then. Now as many of you may know, I did not begin my research last night; I began many years ago, and today is a result of my findings thus far.

    "Even prior to coming to Camelot with the rest of our families, I had already done significant research on the subject of ... Dragons; and I even fought alongside many if not most of you when we battled the Great Dragon way back when. So you already know this is not foreign territory for me. However, what I am about to share with you today, will be some new information that ... well, in all seriousness you will find both startling and alarming and the scope is beyond what any of us had initially imagined. The news I have to share is not good news, so brace yourselves.

    However in order to fully grasp the scope and size and appreciate the severity of the situation, in order to better understand what we are dealing with here - we need to start at the Beginning to place everything into context. So that is what Arthur has asked me to do - I will start at the Beginning; because it very much does affect the present; especially in terms of motive.

    Georgina raised her eyebrow. Motive?

    "Yes, you heard me correctly. We are not dealing with some big dumb beast; this is something very different. There is definite intelligence and motive involved. But I am getting ahead of myself. Now, most of you are you aware of the story of the Beginning. Most of you were present that night many years ago in the Worship Place - when Kemuel told us the Beginning story of the First Man and First Woman. And he told us how - by likening her to Gwen - that the First Woman was very trusting and believing, and she was easily deceived by the serpent's lie that she was actually doing a good and noble thing by eating of the forbidden fruit - which the lying serpent had told her would help her become more like God. Then we see her confessing her sin to her husband, which in turn broke his heart; and being unwilling to see the love of his life suffer alone, he joined her in her sin; and he ate, also. As a result, they were both cursed for their actions. It is from that story where the promise of the Seed was given - that one day someone would come who would deliver all of mankind from 'the curse'; and hence we have referred to Gwen and the Daughters of Shira as The Seed ever since.

    But as I said, that is not today's focus. We are not here to rehash the two curses of the First Man and First Woman. Instead, our interest today is in the third curse; the one that nearly all people and scholars tend to completely overlook; and yet it is SO importantly paramount as it directly relates to what lies beneath. Today, I am going to tell you the story of - the Dragoncurse.

    Now ordinarily by this time during any Round Table session, Georgina would be growing anxious to the point of rolling her eyes and requesting a quick digest recap version rather than lengthy explanations. This time however, she was actually interested in this particular story. Because Georgina herself had many questions; not the least of which was in regards to Julian's 'claim' that he had witnessed herself actually being rescued by a large flying Dragon the night she had battled the Bloodwraith and had fallen from the sky. Being unconscious, Georgina didn't remember it, but Julian still swore it to be the truth. Thus she was very intrigued by what Sara was about to say, such that she was actually now sitting forward in her chair so as not to miss a single detail.

    I am going to pick up the story at the point where the One is about to issue the three curses to the three individuals: The Man, the Woman ... and the Serpent. And I will start by asking, how many of you here today are aware that the Serpent's Curse was actually the very first one? The curse to the Man and the Woman came after. That's profound in its implications if you think about it. And of course it got me thinking and that is where I have focused most of my study and research. Now for Georgina's sake I'll condense my research as much as possible.

    Georgina smiled. You're doing great, kiddo; I'm still with you.

    Sara grinned back. "Yay. So far so good. So the Serpent's Curse. Or, more accurately: The Dragoncurse. Why? Because the Serpent was not originally a serpent. Now let's first take a closer look at the Dragoncurse itself. And I need all of you to pay close attention, because this is where we learn our clues about what is dwelling beneath us. There are actually two parts of the Dragoncurse, and I will explain them. I am quoting directly from the Holy Scriptures:

    So the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field. On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life."

    That is the first part of the Dragoncurse. The second part goes like this:

    And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

    "Two parts, because the One is actually addressing two individuals, not one. The first individual is the animal itself who was cursed. The second individual is Satan, who had taken possession of the animal. We'll get to that more in a minute.

    The second part of the Dragoncurse you are all already familiar with, in that we know Shadow has ever and always been trying to destroy the Seed. That right there is the whole premise of why the Seed needs to be protected; you all know that. There have been multiple times in the Seed's history where it has even all come down to a single person but were miraculously rescued and managed to escape at the last second. It's come that close many a time, but the Seed has managed to survive in spite of Shadow being hellbent on her destruction. But in the end, even as Satan once thought to destroy the One Himself upon a cross, the foil to Satan's plan was that the One has power over life and death. And was resurrected. And one day, the One will triumph over Satan with a little 'head bashing' of his own.

    Everyone laughed and applauded and cheered.

    After it died down, Sara continued. But for our purposes today, it is the first part of the Dragoncurse we need to focus upon. As I said, two individuals are being addressed in the Dragoncurse: Satan ... and the actual serpent itself. Now if you haven't guessed by now, the 'serpent' did not in fact become a serpent until the Dragoncurse. Before it was forever cursed to crawl on its belly, before it lost its limbs and dare I say it's ... 'wings', does anyone want to take a wild guess as to the what the serpent was before the curse?

    Arthur coughed. The 'D' word.

    And everyone chuckled

    Sara smiled. "Said to be the most beautiful of the animals in the Garden of Eden. Even the First Woman looked upon the creature as being beautiful. Imagine if you will, a winged Dragon made of scales which shone like jewels, gleaming in the sunlight so brightly it might temporarily blind you to look at its beauty for too long. Even Satan himself, before he was cast down out of Heaven, was said to be the most beautiful of all the angels. There is a direct implied correlation going on here in the Dragoncurse, so be careful not to miss it. Before the Dragoncurse, in the same manner that Satan was, the serpent was a Dragon, the most beautiful creature of all.

    "And then what happened? It made a choice to join with the fallen angel Satan. It was in conjunction with Satan's voice which came from the Dragon's mouth and spoke to the First Woman; and it deceived her by lying to her and subtly convincing her that what she was doing was in fact a good and right thing to do. It is why we call it 'The Great Lie'.

    Both of them had united together to pull off this deception. The First Woman fully believed the beautiful Dragon, whom she had come to know and trust during her years in the garden.

    Years? Arthur asked.

    Yes, I did say 'years'; because in truth we have no idea how much time passed during their years in the garden. It could have been one year or a thousand years, we simply have no way of knowing. As most of you know by now, the First Man and First Woman were immortal; they did not possess the 'aging gene' as Georgina likes to put it.

    Sara winked at Georgina. And Georgina smiled back.

    In other words, they were designed to live forever. The curse ruined all of that and we have paid the price ever since; as over the centuries, lifespans began to slowly decrease and degenerate into what they are today. But again, that is not our focus. Now many, if not most of you, may be aware that prior to the curse, there was no 'death'. And by that I mean - no death. Period. For anyone ... or any thing.

    Georgina looked at Sara in surprised. Seriously? Even pigs lived forever?

    Sara grinned at her. I'd bet a silver coin for where your mind just went. No, Georgina; no aging genes for anybody or any animal - and everybody got along hunky-dory harmoniously. Sorry, no Yankee Stadium hot dogs back in the day.

    And that was supposed to be paradise? she teased. Well that sucks.

    Sara laughed. In truth... she then continued, ...most people would be surprised to learn that before death entered the world, nobody ate meat; for obvious reasons. And now I'm beginning to wish I had breakfast and ... never mind; I'm getting off track. Back to our main point. People ... and even fish and birds and animals ... weren't originally designed to grow old and die.

    Including the Dragon. said Arthur.

    Dragons plural. Sara corrected. The one in the garden wasn't the only one. There were multitudes of all kinds of animals in the world during that time; including pairs and more than pairs.

    Georgina added, Only this particular immortal Dragon went rogue. It joined with the devil. And why am I getting a sick scary feeling about where you are going with this?

    Because you know where I am going with this. The fallen angel Satan was not cursed to crawl on his belly in the dust, for we read in the Scripture all over the place about him walking around and causing trouble. Whereas the second part of the Dragoncurse was directed at Satan, that first part of the curse was specifically directed at that rogue and evil Dragon who had joined with Satan.

    Is that where all snakes came from? asked Lancelot. Because Ursulet hates snakes.

    Sara smiled. That would be correct. The One did not create snakes; instead they are a direct byproduct of the Dragoncurse. That was the day snakes were born; as all of its subsequent progeny were, from that day forward, no longer Dragons in any form, but instead now forced to crawl in the dust; and have been ever since.

    Arthur then said, I think I see where you are going with this too, Sara. Ben once said something to me, that being a lizard fan I have always found interesting. He told me that lizards and snakes do not cease growing in size.

    Sara nodded. That is true; especially of reptiles. The skeletons of most animals reach a certain size and then stop growing. However, some animals keep growing throughout their lives. Certain species of fish, amphibians, and especially lizards and snakes are indeterminate growers. They do in fact keep growing indefinitely.

    Thus ... the longer they live, the bigger they get.

    Yessir.

    It was King Lot of Lothian, husband of Anna, who then said, I am growing more and more uneasy with where you do seem to be going with this, also. You said earlier that this 'serpent' which was originally a Dragon ... was intelligent?

    Highly ... intelligent. Sara answered. I would even go so far as to suggest Dragons were the most intelligent of all of the entire animal kingdom.

    Lot sighed. I was afraid you were going to say that.

    I mean think about it. Sara said. That Dragon actually ... 'talked' to her. Granted, Satan through him and using him and putting words into his mouth; but even so, he actually had use of physical vocal chords and carried on a full conversation with the First Woman. If that's not proof positive that Dragons are highly intelligent, I don't know what is.

    Lot said, Except it is no longer a Dragon. Instead it has been dethroned from his high throne and position as the most beautiful and intelligent of all creatures; and is now cursed to crawl through the earth on his belly.

    Georgina added, In other words, he's pissed.

    That's it exactly. And the people he's ticked off at, is the One who cursed him; obviously ... and anyone, and everything, related to the plans of the One.

    Georgina sighed. Especially the Seed.

    Bingo.

    Georgina then turned at looked at Sara. Just how big is this thing?

    Sara shrugged. To my knowledge, no one has seen him yet. But I would reckon he's much ... much ... much bigger than any of us were envisioning. I suspect by this time he's even bigger than the Great Dragon we fought against with my Dad. Because that was merely the devil taking on the form of a Dragon; he wasn't an actual real Dragon; at least not in the true sense of the word. As for the size of our friend downstairs? Let's just say that he's kinda been around for a very long time.

    Because this thing is the original.

    Sara nodded. Fraid so.

    And I guess this also explains why you keep wanting to call it the 'W' word instead of a 'D' word; because a Wyvern is supposedly a Dragon but without wings. It's limited to just crawling on its stomach?

    Just then, Sara happened to notice a new solitary visitor coming their way towards the Table. She was quite small, with long copper-colored hair and green eyes, and she was wearing a pretty long linen dress the color of garnet.

    Actually... said Sara, smiling in Anna's direction, ...that is ... not ... exactly ... the reason why I call it the 'W' word.

    Georgina arched her eyebrow at her. Sara ... why do you call it the 'W' word?

    Because I think it might be even worse that what I had originally imagined. That is, if his name is any indication.

    Looking at her in surprise, Georgina asked, This thing has a name?

    Anna quietly approached the table beside where her husband was sitting and answered, The name of the First Serpent ... is Worldeater.

    Chapter 2

    Early that afternoon

    Arthur was alone in his bedchambers, lying upon his bed in deep thought.

    It had been decided shortly after Anna had arrived, that the meeting would be adjourned until the following day. Not because Anna had arrived, but because they were overwhelmed with the information and felt they needed a day to process everything that they had learned thus far. Things were turning out very different from what the men had initially envisioned in their heads. And there was even still more to learn; as Sara would return again the following day to share more of what she knew. As it was, the Knighthood was having enough difficulty just wrapping their heads around the immense scope of the threat. They had all to a man confidently believed that it would be a simple albeit glorious battle. They hadn't anticpated that it would be a whole lot more.

    As it was, nobody had any kind of clue or idea much less was anyone capable of putting a plan into place - as to how deal with the threat; for the time being they were still in the early phases of trying to understand the threat.

    It was bad enough that the threat was real; and according to Anna, the time was soon approaching. But it was even worse to realize that the threat was much larger and more dangerous and powerful than a mere 'small Dragon'. Anna had even gone so far as to say that the Worldeater could conceivably swallow up the entire castle.

    Which had now put everything into a completely different scale and perspective.

    Even more alarming was that Worldeater was intelligent. Like Sara had said, it wasn't some big dumb beast. And now all of the Knights who had been greatly looking forward to battling a Dragon, were getting the impression that this wasn't a battle that could be so easily won.

    Which was why - Arthur was now lying on his afternoon bed in heavy contemplation.

    And as he lay in deep thought, and considering any and all possible solutions, he began to be reminded of a previous time where he had once been lying in bed taking an afternoon nap. And it caused his mind to harken back to a very peculiar scene he had witnessed many years earlier...

    *** *** ***

    [reader's note: this following passage is extracted from all the way back in Book 4: ROYALS, Chapter 49 entitled: A Day in the Life of Anna]

    Arthur awoke to a strange sound. It was a faint, high-pitched gurgling, gargling sort of ... cooing sound. An unusual, very peculiar and very extraordinary sound. A sound he had never before heard.

    It was mid-afternoon on Week's End and he had been taking a nap. It had been an especially grueling week of training and Arthur had been exhausted. Gwen was out with the two children to look at the nearly completed Royal Library and Royal Museum. Arthur would have gone, but he was just too wiped out.

    He didn't know how long he had been asleep, but he had heard the strange faint sound in his sleep. He had woken naturally - and though his body was still tired and aching, he at least felt rested.

    Arthur noted that the strange sound was coming in through the nearest window. Curious to find out what it was, he yawned, stretched, and rose up out of bed, and walked over the open window to look out.

    He didn't see anything. He stuck his head farther out the windows to try and determine what direction it was coming from. It was coming from up above. It was coming from the roof.

    Then he thought he heard two of the same sounds, as if they were in unison. And his curiosity grew all the more.

    Arthur put on a shirt and made his way downstairs and out into the central atrium where the royal gardens were located. Across to the far side of the atrium was a stairwell that led up to the roof. Arthur took the stairwell and made his way up six stories to reach the first roof level, for there were four different roof levels. He paused and listened again for the faint gargling cooing sound. Finally after a long time of silence, he heard it again. It was coming from the fourth level. Actually ... from above the fourth level. It was coming from the top of the highest part of the castle; the castle keep.

    Arthur sighed. For he would have to go up several more flights of stairs just to reach the keep, and then the only way to reach the keep's roof was to climb a small sixty foot maintenance ladder mounted on the keep's rear wall.

    No one ever went up to the keep's roof. It was for maintenance use only, and usually only to repair leaks in the thick greystone. The keep's roof was four feet thick and impenetrable to invaders, making the keep the safest and most secure part of the castle. It was where the royal family would go in the event of an assault on the castle. And other than those rarest of times, no one ever visited the keep, much less the keep's roof. The last time the keep had been used was thirty years earlier, when Ambrosius Aurelianus and Uther Pendragon had taken the throne back from Vortigern the Usurper. Vortigern himself had hidden in the keep. Since that fateful day, the massive keep's door had been locked and no one had a reason to go up there. Certainly not atop the keep's roof.

    Arthur was debating whether that strange sound was worth climbing up several more flight of stairs and a sixty foot ladder. It was probably some ungreased squeaky something-or-other, or some loose banner flapping somewhere or the wind whistling through some un-grouted section of greystone or some other such boring explanation.

    And he was still kind of achy from George's past week of training and pain.

    Arthur turned around to head back down the stairs. It wasn't worth investigating.

    Then he heard it again.

    A faint, high-pitched gurgling, gargling sort of cooing sound.

    There was no explanation for what was causing that sound.

    And so once again, Arthur's curiosity got the better of him.

    Sometime later, after finally making the ascent and after climbing up the narrow, rickety, worn, dangerous and badly-in-need-of-repair, sixty foot keep-roof ladder, Arthur finally reached the top.

    He was out of breath. And very tired and very sore.

    But what he saw...

    ...was a sight Arthur would remember for all the days of life.

    Sitting casually between two stone pillars upon the greystone ledge of the keep's roof, was Anna.

    She was wearing a beautiful deep garnet red dress, which always looked stunning on the small copper-haired girl. Like Morgan, it was Anna's best color. And it was her best dress. And atop her head was a beautiful and delicate crown, made of what appeared to be thin leaves made of transparent gold.

    How she had gotten up there, Arthur had no idea. It was impossible. She couldn't possibly have climbed the dirty, dusty, rickety old ladder. Arthur doubted that little Anna even had the strength to make such a climb. Much less the fact that her finest dress looked like it was freshly cleaned and pressed! Anna had gotten up there some other way. And yet there was no other way. Merlin and Kemuel were away, as they so often were. It simply wasn't possible for Anna to be there.

    But that was only a minor mystery. It was nothing compared to what else Arthur saw. While Anna was sitting upon the ledge between the two pillars, casually looking out towards Camelot's misty green forested hills and meadows, something else was on the ledge with her.

    It was small ... perhaps about two feet in length, including its tail. It had four legs. Its scales were a beautiful emerald green and its underside was a brilliant yellow. And it was curled up next to Anna, asleep.

    But even that wasn't the most astonishing thing.

    For the most amazing thing of all ... was that the beautiful small green and yellow creature ... had wings.

    And then even more astonishing ... Arthur noticed a second one. It had been hiding behind a pillar when Arthur had first arrived, and was now braving to come out in Arthur's presence. For a brief moment it flew off the pillar and hovered in the air above Anna, as if to get a better look at Arthur. It was the same small size as the other one, only this one was a gorgeous dark ruby color with an reddish-orange underside. And like the other one, the small beautiful creature had four legs with a tail and wings. And then it flew back onto the pillar and hid itself from view on the other side.

    Arthur had never seen more beautiful creatures in his life. And it wasn't because they looked similar to his beloved lizards. It was something else. Something very, very different. Something rare. Something profound. Something precious. It was something so beautiful ... and so pure ... that it brought tears to his eyes.

    And then it was, that Arthur knew in his amazing discerning heart, that he was looking at pure ... and uncorrupted ... creation.

    Anna... Arthur whispered in tearful and reverent awe. And at the very moment he spoke, Arthur immediately felt ashamed. For uttering speech in their presence almost seemed somehow ... wrong.

    Anna turned and smiled at Arthur. And she held up a finger to her lips. Shhh. she said quietly. Keep your voice low. She is near. She can hear you.

    What ... who...

    They are from before the time of the DragonCurse. She is a mother. These are her children.

    How...

    Anna shrugged. I do not know. She does not know.

    But Kemuel said ... the DragonCurse ... that was ... Anna, that was almost ten thousand years ago!

    She does not know how she came to be here.

    By now there were tears streaming down Arthur's face. They are so beautiful! And so pure!

    Anna smiled. They are from before the curse. They are clean.

    Their skin glitters like jewels! I have never seen anything so beautiful!

    Just then the ruby colored one shyly poked its small head out from behind the pillar beside Anna. Anna reached into a pocket in her dress and pulled out a blueberry, which she then reached up and began to hand feed to the amazing small creature.

    They were once considered to be the most beautiful of all creatures. Anna said. This one likes blueberries; they are his favorite.

    Arthur could only shake his head in rapturous and holy wonder. Does ... Merlin ... know ... about this?

    He and Kemuel have been searching for some time, for the answer as to how she came to be in our time. But as of yet they have found no answer.

    Is there ... uh ... a father?

    No. They are all alone.

    After the shy creature finished the blueberry, it hid again behind the pillar.

    Anna then did something else astonishing. She reached down towards the small beautiful sleeping creature which was curled up next to her, and she gently and tenderly touched its left wing. And as she did so, Anna's entire body began to glow a soft green. It only lasted for a moment. And then the green glow disappeared, and she removed her hand from its wing and then lightly began stroking its small head and neck while it slept.

    Arthur was looking at her questioningly, afraid to interrupt whatever she was doing. She then turned her head and looked at him. Dar's wing was injured. I have caused a deep sleep to come over her. I have been waiting until she was ready. She is better now. Her colors are now as they should be. She needs to sleep for a time. I shall stay until she awakens.

    Arthur gulped. His awe of his sister had just grown a hundredfold. Dar? Arthur whispered in amazement.

    Anna nodded. Then she looked up at the other ruby colored one, the one that was very shy, which had once again poked its head out of concealment. And she lifted her hand up to gently pet its head. That's when Arthur heard the strange cooing sound. It had come from the two small beautiful creatures.

    This one is Niu. This is Dar's brother.

    Niu? Dar? They have names? Does the mother have a name?

    Anna nodded. Her name is Rai.

    Rai? As in ... a ray of the sun?

    Anna smiled and shook her head. There are no comparable words in our time. These names are old, from before our time.

    Once again Arthur gulped. Oh. Uh ... what is that ... uh ... crown you are wearing? It looks like it is of leaves made of transparent gold, like glass.

    Rai brought me a gift.

    Oh. Arthur replied, as if that answer had clarified anything. Actually, it raised more questions than it answered. Okay. So, uh ... you said she is near?

    She is always near her children. She watches them even now. She worries for Dar.

    You have healed her wing?

    Yes. You should go, brother. Rai is troubled by your presence.

    Arthur nodded. She is nervous about me being around her children.

    Yes.

    I understand. Can you ... let her know ... that I would never ... ever...

    Anna smiled. She knows your heart. She is not comfortable around others. Do not be offended.

    Okay, Anna. I understand; she is just being protective. I will go. Can you tell her one last thing for me?

    Anna nodded.

    Tell Rai ... that I think her children are beautiful.

    Anna grinned and nodded. I shall tell her, brother. She shall be greatly pleased.

    Arthur smiled at his amazing sister. And then took one more longing look at the beautiful sleeping creature curled up on the ledge beside Anna. And the shy, ruby colored one once more bravely poked its head around the pillar to take another peek at Arthur. Arthur smiled at the small creature, and bowed his head towards it out of reverence.

    *** *** ***

    Returning back the way he had come, Arthur began his long descent back down the keep's ladder. On the way down the ladder, he chuckled to himself. Never did find out how she got up there. Not sure if I want to know.

    *** *** ***

    Arthur suddenly woke up from his nap. Back in current present time, he realized he had fallen asleep, and that he had been dreaming.

    But he knew that it wasn't a dream. That incredible day really did happen.

    Just as surely as he knew that during that one visit he had once made long ago to the woods and had sat down on a large log to rest - and the 'log' had suddenly moved! And he had seen with his own eyes that the 'log' in the woods was in fact Rai's tail that he had inadvertently sat on. Nobody believed him of course; and that was the day he had to start using the term 'D' word because Gwen didn't want to keep hearing about it. That plus she had also been miffed that he had been late for their baby daughter Ursulet's official presentation to the world.

    And just as surely, Arthur knew that Rai was in the fact the very same Dragon which had rescued Georgina the day she fell from the sky.

    Arthur realized that they had a friend.

    A friend whom most people didn't believe existed.

    But Arthur believed.

    And he smiled.

    For he now had an idea.

    At least, it seemed like a good idea to him.

    Chapter 3

    The Marketplace

    They didn't have any answers about what to do about Worldeater. At least not yet. The Knights of the Round Table had taken the afternoon off to give their minds a chance to process the things they had learned from Sara in an attempt to grasp the staggering scope of the situation. The following morning they would reconvene to begin discussion on a plan of action.

    On an additional matter, Georgina and Sara had already since gone to speak with Arthur immediately following the council session, regarding their concern and belief that Ben and his group were no longer in Pretania or even the 6th century; and that somehow and some way, they must have managed to find their way to Gwen's mirror before the mirrors had been destroyed and were now trapped in the future. Where 'George' had shot Ben. On top of the current large Worldeater problem, this was yet another unsettling problem to add to their worries.

    Georgina and Sara were now on their way out to the Ranch - where Francis and Running Star were still staying - taking Julian and Adrien with them to see what they could learn. They would be meeting Hawk and Kea'Lani there also, who had already gone on ahead to the Ranch earlier that morning. And there it would be both confirmed and discovered that Ben's group wasn't the only group missing.

    But for the most part and overall it wasn't a time for doom and gloom, and most of the Knighthood were very upbeat and positive and not overly worried. They were a hundred percent fully confidant that even Worldeater could be defeated by the sword. And so it was that in the meantime, some of the Knights had decided to visit the Marketplace in order to get their minds off of the situation - which they were sure would find proper resolve soon.

    In one group, there were five of them: two men and three women, who were entering together through the east gate of the Marketplace; the gate closest to Castle Camelot.

    Lancelot and Bedivere had decided to take it upon themselves to go shopping for maternity clothes for their wives Ursulet and her personal Protector Alana - who, had only just learned a couple days earlier that they were both with child. And it was happening at the same time for both of them, no less; and both were elated.

    Accompanying the two men to aid them in their noble shopping endeavor were Arthur's three sisters: Elaine, Morgan and Anna.

    As the five passed through the gate, Bedivere stated to the group, We need not take all day about this. Finding maternity clothes is no more difficult than finding a dress and I already know exactly where to go.

    Walking beside him, Elaine shook her head. I hope you are not suggesting what I hope you are not suggesting.

    You just repeated yourself.

    Because you never get it the first time! Bedivere please don't tell me you are going to the red tent.

    Of course I am going to the red tent. Where else would I go? That is where I buy all of Alana's dresses.

    Elaine argued, Bedivere, you are being ridiculous; the red tent is not for maternity clothing; it is for ogle-wear!

    What nonsense is this; I cannot ogle my wife while she is pregnant? I beg to differ.

    Morgan then said, Is that not the tent where Concubines and tavern wenches shop?

    Bedivere winked at Morgan and nodded, saying: And where men shop, who wish their wives to be properly clothed. He then elbowed Lancelot. Isn't that right?

    Lancelot shook his head. That is not where I shop for Ursulet. She prefers her attire to be more dignified and proper. She and her mother Gwen purchase all of their dresses from Camelot's own Master Dressmaker, Winslow.

    A Noble dressmaker? Such a pity. For what can be more appropriate than what can be found in the red tent? argued Bedivere.

    Elaine countered, You call that appropriate? The only purpose of those styles is put the female form on display for all to see.

    Morgan added, Some of those styles do not even bother to cover the female form. A woman may as well be unclothed.

    Exactly! That is why the red tent is the best place to shop in the entire Marketplace! Why is this so difficult for you ladies to comprehend!?

    Anna asked, You have purchased all of Alana's clothing from there?

    For when she is not outfitted for battle, of course. She still likes looking like a Lady while she is at home.

    Elaine countered, A Lady? Or a feast for your eyes?

    What's the difference?

    Elaine rolled her eyes.

    I like looking at her; she likes it when I look at her; as long as she and I are both happy with what she wears ... or doesn't wear ... then everybody is happy and it gives us both warm fuzzy feelings.

    Once more shaking her head at him, Elaine replied, As if it is not enough that you keep your wife dressed that way...

    Lancelot stepped in to Bedivere's defense, saying, I assure you, if Alana did not wish to dress that way for Bedivere, she would not. She has more than a little of her mother in her, you know.

    Elaine smiled. "I know. Alana can be strong-willed

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