Red Dragon Inn

Red Dragon Inn Home Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark

Welcome, traveler!
( Member login. Not a member? Register here. )


Search    Memberlist    Usergroups    Forum Help   
Gallery    Shop    Jobs    Auctions    Pet Shop    Lottery   
Register    Log in 

Talk of Old Times

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic   printer-friendly view    Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark Forum Index -> Whispers in the Night -> Things that Go Bump in the Night
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Aurelia
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Posts: 130
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: Huntingdon, PA
9771.16 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:48 am    Post subject: Talk of Old Times Reply with quote

The wonders of Avalon had only increased in the nearly two thousand years since it had first been hidden. After leaving the Lady, Ian and Aurelia had not been able to contain their curiosity, exploring the sites they knew and those they didn't, marveling at how the isle had flourished under Elaine's guardianship. Hand in hand, the Loremaster of Avalon and his wife had walked old paths they knew Arthur and Morgaine had walked in times long past, sharing their own observations of the isle as they went. It truly was astonishing to know that only that morning, they had been standing in this place, over a millenia before.

A wonderful discovery had been when they had found the cottage that had been given over to them when they had first entered Avalon. It had been kept almost exactly as it had been then, pristine and maintained to perfection, grown larger as a second bedroom had been added, and a better equipped bathroom installed. The deep stone bath was still there, bringing an impish grin to Aurelia's face as they had explored. It seemed that the cottage was still theirs to use whenever they came here, and had been for centuries. They had been fetched away to the Bristols' tower house to eat the evening meal with Rhys and Nat, and Rachel and Zachariel. and in the dusk that followed, a young Handmaiden had come for them, asking that they come to the Chalice Well at the Lady's request.

Ian had been pleasantly surprised by most of the changes, but even more so by the things that had stayed the same. He hadn't expected the cottage where he and Aurelia had stayed more than a millenia ago to still be standing, much less improved on and still available for their use. While Avalon felt a little empty without Arthur and Pellam and Morgaine, there were plenty of people to take their place, though they had yet to meet most of them.

Even dinner had improved over the years, which was a good thing in his opinion. He was amazed to learn that Zachariel had once been an angel and couldn't help the tumult of questions he had for him - so many questions they could not all be answered in the span of a single day. They were just finishing up eating when he was surprised once again by the Handmaiden who'd come to fetch him and Aurelia at last to see the Lady they'd once known simply as Elaine. Hand in hand, he and Aurelia followed the Handmaiden to the Chalice Well, though they knew the way well enough on their own.

The vines opened to welcome them inside once again, and once again, Elaine enfolded them both in a long embrace in greeting. It seemed that at least a little of her loneliness had been relieved, knowing that two people she had known in her youth were now a part of her life once again. "I apologize for the long wait," she told them gently, leading them to where they could sit with her once again. "There are always things to be done."

"It's been a very long wait for you," Ian pointed out with a fond smile and a hug of his own. Whatever title she know wore, she was still Elaine to them, and he knew better than any of them - including Rhys and Natalya - much of the loss and loneliness she'd suffered since they'd left Avalon for home.

She smiled faintly, the smile he remembered from a long time before, shaking her golden head as she drew them both to the Well itself. Her hand gripped Aurelia's with surprising eagerness. "Come," she told them. "I have a gift for you."

Startled, Aurelia glanced up at Ian even as she was tugged forward to kneel beside the water with Elaine. "You do not need to give any gift," she told the Lady, bemused that such a thought had even crossed the woman's mind.

Elaine laughed, shaking her head. "Nonsense," she said, almost merry in her quiet excitement. "I have held it in trust for a very long time."

Ian arched a curious brow as he followed along to the Well behind Elaine and Aurelia, wondering what it was the Lady wanted to give her. "You've already given us so much," he insisted for them both, though he did not presume to refuse any gift she might wish to bestow on his wife.

"This is not so much a gift as something that should have been returned to you before you left," Elaine told Aurelia, further confusing the witch. Dark eyes looked up at Ian, wondering if he could explain what this mysterious gift was supposed to be. Elaine lowered her hands into the water of the Well, cupping them beneath the surface. Yet when she raised her hands, there was no water caught within them - instead, she seemed to be holding something that shimmered, invisible to the naked eye but for the movement that distorted what could be seen through it.

Aurelia gasped in surprise, her eyes widening, as Elaine allowed the shimmering to cascade over the witch's head, absorbed into her body. "I ... Lady, I ..."

Elaine smiled, stroking the witch's cheek gently. "It is a part of you that should never have been lost," she said softly. "I am glad to return it, at long last."

Ian returned Aurelia's gaze with a light shrug, having no idea what Elaine had in mind. He watched as she lowered her hands into the water, but didn't grasp what she was doing until he noticed the shimmering that she was pouring over his wife. He remained where he was, watching quietly, a slow smile spreading over his face as he realized what she was doing.

"But ... the demon ..." Aurelia's fear was palpable - she had been a day without the demon, terrified now that Elaine had somehow returned that burden to her. But Elaine smiled once again, capturing the witch's hands in her own.

"The demon has been destroyed," she promised Aurelia. "I discovered your shimmering in the Well, not long after you left us. It was expelled with the demon, but it absorbed itself into Avalon. It was the means by which we moved the isle behind the mists. Yet once that move was done, it had no function. That ability is part of your blood and bone, Aurelia. And now it is returned to you."

Speechless, Aurelia surged forward, embracing the Lady of Avalon like a sister. One day without that ability to shimmer had been harder than she had ever thought it might be. It was truly wonderful to know that it had been returned to her, the one good thing she had inherited from her mother. "I have no way to thank you," she said quietly as she sat back, touched deeply that Elaine had held onto this for her for so many long years.

The Lady shook her head once again, drawing the witch onto her feet. "There truly is no need for thanks," she assured them both. "We have done a great deal for one another. I would very much like to call you my friends. If you are willing."

"Of course, we are friends!" Ian replied quickly, moving forward to collect his wife and stand beside the two women at the well. "Why wouldn't we be friends?" he asked curiously, unsure why she'd think she even had to ask such a thing.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Aurelia
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Posts: 130
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: Huntingdon, PA
9771.16 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elaine watched as Aurelia wrapped her arm about Ian's waist, at once grateful for their love and envious of their freedom to express it. "Because there may come a time when I will give you an order and expect it to be obeyed, regardless of your feelings," she said quietly. "There is no guarantee it will happen, but it may. Such an action could destroy a friendship, and I have lost many friends over the years."

"What kind of order could you possibly give us that might cause us to no longer be friends?" he inquired, as he returned Aurelia's embrace, tugging her close almost without conscious thought. He could not think of anything she could do or say that would cause him to feel that way, unless it was to harm his own wife... or children. "Is it true we're going to be parents?" he asked tentatively, almost afraid to ask.

This time, Elaine's smile was secretive and deeply amused, her blue eyes fond as she looked the two of them over for a long moment, teasing them with her silence. But finally she did speak. "It is true," she assured them. "The day Viviane died, a seed took root. The demon was no longer in residence when your first child came into being, though it will be some time yet before you truly become aware of it."

Aurelia's expression mutated, shifting from amazement to disbelief, to true delight at what they were hearing. Her hand fell to the smooth, slender plane of her stomach as she looked up at Ian. "You are to be a father after all, mon cœur."

Ian beamed a proud and happy smile back at his wife, reaching over to rest a hand against the hand she had laid against her stomach. Though there were no signs of a pregnancy just yet, Ian trusted Elaine's word that this was true. A thought occurred to him that made him chuckle a little. "Our child was conceived over a thousand years ago." Which, in a way, made it the longest pregnancy in history.

Aurelia laughed at this, having not quite made the connection herself. "True," she giggled, leaning into him fondly. "If it is a girl ... Viviane should be in her name."

Elaine started with surprise at these words, touched and shocked that Aurelia - who had not seen eye to eye with Viviane at all - should feel that loss so deeply as to want to name her child after the first Lady of the Lake.

"Agreed," Ian replied, smiling warmly, as he turned to his wife and circled his arms around her waist. He was in complete agreement with her on the choice of a name, finding it appropriate that they should remember the first Lady that way and the sacrifice she had made for them and for Avalon. "And if it's a boy?" he asked, eyes dancing with merriment.

"Arthur," Aurelia grinned up at him, knowing that she had surprised the Lady and actually rather reveling in that knowledge. It was good to know that a woman who could feasibly see the future at her fingertips could still be surprised once in a while. "Since I do not think that a child in our time could survive school were he named Pellam or Galahad."

Ian chuckled again, once more in complete agreement. "Arthur is a fine upstanding name for a boy," he replied. At least, it was in England, though maybe not so much in the States. Still, he couldn't deny the joy he felt, not only at the prospect of names, but at the fact that they were having a child at all. At his age, he had never expected to be married, much less starting a family, and he had Elaine to thank in good part for it. Had she not suggested his name to Rhys, he would never have met Aurelia and never have visited Avalon. "I have one question..." he started, looking back at Elaine, his arms still circling Aurelia's waist. "You knew what was going to happen, that we were going to find the astrolabe and be drawn back in time. Why didn't you just let me come through years ago and prepare me for all this?"

Elaine smiled, moving to sit herself down comfortably. "Because at that time in your life, you did not have the knowledge you would have needed," she told him. "Had I allowed you into Avalon, you would have discovered your own name in the archives, your own records, but you would never have had the drive to learn all you could about Avalon as she was when she dwelt in the world of men. Without that understanding of Avalon as she was, you could never have helped us bring her to this moment in time."

"So, you hoped I'd become obsessed," he said, chuckling. It wasn't really much of a gamble on her part. He'd been obsessed with the legend of King Arthur most of his life. Being denied entry to Avalon only made him want to know more. "But you already knew we were going to come back. Did you ever doubt things might not happen the way they were supposed to?" he continued, merely curious.

"I knew you would not be able to let the mystery go, once you had been given a glimpse of Avalon," Elaine agreed with a small smile. "As I knew that you were not the man I had known, not then." She sighed softly at his curious question. "I often question my own chosen course. I have had to manipulate people I love and trust, in a manner some of them may never forgive me for, in order to keep Avalon safe. I regret the need, but it is necessary."

There was that arch of a brow again, curious as to who she thought would never forgive her. Certainly not Aurelia or himself, nor did he think Rhys or Natalya blamed her for anything. In fact, as far as he could tell, they seemed as fond of her as she was of them. "I'm not sure who would..." He trailed off at the thought of Guinevere once again, but her fate had little to do with the decisions Elaine had had to make for Avalon, or so he thought.

"What happened after we left?" he asked, a little tentatively as he led Aurelia into one of the chairs formed out of vines in the Lady's garden.

"That is a large question to answer, Ian," Aurelia warned him as he drew her down into a chair, glancing over at Elaine to find the woman smiling indulgently, as though she had known the question was coming.

"Are you asking me to tell you the truth of the fall of Camelot, Loremaster?"

He waited to make sure Aurelia was comfortable before claiming a seat for himself. If the care he took with her was any indication, she was in for a long nine months of being fussed over. "I suppose I am," he replied as he settled himself beside his wife. "I know what the legends say, but even those disagree. Much has been written about Arthur and the Fall of Camelot, but so much of the history has been lost to time, it's hard to say what really happened and what's merely legend. For example, having met Arthur, I cannot imagine him sentencing his wife to death, no matter how much she hurt him."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Aurelia
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Posts: 130
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: Huntingdon, PA
9771.16 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"He had no choice," Elaine was quick to assure him. "You remember we spoke of Mordred, raised by Morgause in Orkney? She sent him to Camelot when he was of age, and he manipulated his way into the king's trust by means of his mother, who loved him and did not see the danger. When he had Arthur's trust, and knew the truth of the pain in the king's marriage borne of Guinevere's inability to carry a child to term, he told Arthur who his father was. The rumor severely damaged Arthur's standing, his authority at court, made worse when Mordred set a trap to catch Guinevere and Lancelot together. Their intentions were chaste, but their choice of location was foolish."

"Yes," he nodded. "Much of that is written in the legends. Tell me, did Arthur arrange for Lancelot to rescue her or did Lancelot do that on his own, and how is it she ended up here?" he probed further, having a thorough knowledge of the legends, but curious how much of what had been written was true.

"Arthur arranged it," Elaine told him. "He asked me for my help. I sent Morgaine to find Lancelot, and together they rescued Guinevere from the stake. But there was nowhere she could go - no matter where she went, she would be recognized as the traitor queen. So I invited her to Avalon, and Igraine, Arthur's mother, brought her into the Christian convent here. She was broken by what had happened, by the mere fact of Mordred's existence, and how her own selfishness had condemned Arthur. I was witness to her vow never to rest until she found forgiveness. It is not a fate I would have wished upon her."

Ian frowned sadly. He knew well the tragedy of what had befallen Arthur and Guinevere, but to know that Guinevere still lived with that guilt saddened him deeply. She was one of several people he and Aurelia had not met during their time in the past. "Would you mind very much if I spoke with her?" he asked, though he wasn't sure he'd be able to bring her any peace. He had further questions about the past, but the matter of Guinevere seemed to take precedence in his mind and his heart, as it seemed she was the only one left he might have any chance of helping.

"You may try," Elaine said softly. "But she has grown hard over the years. She holds her pain close, and will not countenance any advice, however gently given. She will not even meet my eyes, though I forgave her long ago."

Aurelia frowned, her heart aching for the woman they spoke of. She could not imagine living for so long with such guilt and pain. No wonder it had made her hard, intractable. It was the center of her existence now.

He wasn't sure if he could help her, but he would never forgive himself if he didn't try. "What about Lancelot? What became of him?" he asked, assuming she'd had time to forgive the man's betrayal and put aside her own pain regarding her son's father.

Elaine sighed quietly, regret for the past clear in her eyes. "He would not come to Avalon, filled with his own guilt for the betrayal not only of his king, but the mother of his child," she said in a quiet tone, that nonetheless cut through the stillness of the Well. "He returned to Joyous Gard for a time, but as the last battle loomed, he could not stay away. He returned to fight at Arthur's side at Camlann, with all his sworn men, and died on that field in battle with the Saxons. I know your legends say that he took holy orders and died an old man, but I believe those who wrote did not wish for Lancelot's story to end so abruptly. Whatever they may say, he was, in his heart, a good man who loved not wisely."

"What is it they say about love?" Ian asked, trying to recall the saying. "Love is blind? You don't choose who you love? Love chooses you... or something like that. I don't think either of them wanted to hurt anyone. It just happened. Mordred is another matter entirely." He wasn't quite sure who exactly was to blame for that, but it was bound to end badly.

Elaine frowned faintly. "I don't know what to think when it comes to Mordred," she admitted painfully. "His was an unnatural conception. Viviane should never have arranged it. And yet ... if he had been raised here on Avalon, or even by his own mother, his path might have been different. It was Morgause's hatred and ambition that poisoned him as he grew, but Morgaine couldn't have known her own sister hated Camelot so deeply. And Viviane refused to see it."

Ian frowned at the thought of Mordred, though nothing could be done now to change things. "It might not have made much difference. The truth would have come out sooner or later. I don't know what Viviane had in mind there. That kind of meddling never comes to any good." He glanced over at Aurelia who'd gone silent through all this discussion of Arthurian history. "I suppose we've done our own share of meddling."

To be honest, Aurelia was learning more by staying silent than she could have done if she had taken an active part in the conversation. She hadn't studied Arthurian legend, apart from the occasional movie, a little lost in the names of people they hadn't met and the consequences of actions that had taken place before they had first entered the Avalon of the past.

Elaine smiled gently. "Without you, Avalon would have fallen," she said simply. "I do not think that your share of meddling caused so much harm."

"No, but..." Ian's frown deepened, feeling at least somewhat guilty for not doing more. "I've spent most of my life studying Arthurian legend and lore. I'm something of an expert in it back home. I knew some of what was to befall Camelot, though I had no way of knowing how much of what was written was true. In a way, I'm just as much to blame as Viviane or anyone else for what happened. I could have done something to prevent it, and I didn't."

"No," Elaine shook her head. "No one is to blame for the fall of Camelot. When the Romans left our shores, they left us vulnerable. They had broken the spirit of the tribes, forced us to embrace civilization. But they took their legions with them, and left us little or no defense against the peoples who watched our shore with envious eyes. In the north, there was no one to stop the Norsemen; here in the south, there was only Constantine, then Uther, and then Arthur. But during those three generations, the Saxons tested our strength, they knew what we were capable of mustering. Even without Mordred, Camelot would have fallen eventually. No one knew it at the time, but Guinevere was barren. Without a true born son to continue the line, there would have been war among the nobles, and the Saxons would have taken advantage of it. The fall of Camelot was inevitable, Ian."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Aurelia
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Posts: 130
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: Huntingdon, PA
9771.16 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ian nodded his head in solemn but grievous agreement. "I suppose so, but..." He paused a moment to emit a sigh. "Arthur was a good friend and a good man. He didn't deserve what happened to him, but then neither did Lancelot or Guinevere. And Mordred was just what we call a victim of circumstance. Tell me, what became of Pellam?" he asked, turning the subject to another friend he hoped had been granted a kinder fate.

Elaine's smile deepened as he mentioned the old Master of the Temple, a man who had been as much a mentor to her as Viviane had been in his own way. "He died peacefully in his bed, five years after you left us," she told them, her voice fond and sad as she spoke. "His legacy to Avalon is the great Treasury, the cavern that lies beneath the library, where the most powerful of our artifacts are kept within protective sigils. He insisted upon it, and over the years, I have learned the wisdom in his insistence. There are only two powerful objects from those first years that do not dwell in the Treasury."

"The Treasury?" Ian echoed, with a vague glance at Aurelia. He'd though he'd heard Rhys mention it once, but he and Aurelia had never been there. "Is that where Excalibur is kept?" he asked, curiously, wondering if the astrolabe had been taken there, as well.

"No." The Lady of Avalon chuckled, unsurprised that Excalibur was the first thing to come to his mind. "Excalibur rests in a rock lined pool, in the clearing where you were married. Arthur asked us to honor the blade in a place where he had seen happiness made flesh. He remembered you both to the end."

Ian blinked, obviously surprised by this bit of information - not so much about Excalibur's resting place as the part about Arthur remembering them and insisting his sword be put to rest in the place where they were wed. "I'd like to see it, if I may," he told her quietly, if only to pay homage to the King who'd held his heart and interest all his life - the greatest King who'd ever lived, as far as Ian was concerned. "You said his spirit is still here on Avalon. What did you mean by that?"

"Of course you may see it," Elaine assured him, her smile making Aurelia smile, both of them just a little charmed by Ian's obvious devotion to a man he had only known a few days. "Arthur ... his fate is complex to explain. When he was wounded at Camlann, Bedivere and Morgaine brought him to Avalon. There was nothing we could do to heal him, it was his time. But he swore with his dying breath that he would return to defend Britain when she needed him. Because of that oath, his spirit left his body but did not pass on to world beyond. He is a part of the mists that guard us, keeping watch over the world outside. He has only returned to that world once since then, but he was right. Britain did need him, and he saved her."

"He's her guardian," Ian remarked, knowing about the legend that said Arthur had sworn to return to Britain one day. Some were still waiting for him, some thought he'd already returned, and some thought it was nothing more than a story. "Who did he return as, if I may be so bold?"

"A general, a rather famous one, I believe," Elaine chuckled softly. She should have realized at the time that Arthur's return would not go unnoticed, though the people of the world outside seemed not to have made the connection. "Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington."

Ian arched a brow, a little surprised by this information, as well, though he had no doubt what Elaine told him was true. "Interesting. He was a great man and soldier. One of the greatest men in Britain's history, actually. He helped defeat..." He trailed off, realizing Elaine might never have heard of Napoleon.

"Napoleon," Aurelia murmured. That was a piece of history she was familiar with. Most Europeans were at least aware of the Peninsular War during the Napoleonic period, and of the duke who had prevented Napoleon's victory on land, along with the admiral who had prevented it by sea.

Elaine blinked, a little confused by the name. She did not follow the events of the world outside too closely, her mind and actions caught up in the reality of Avalon.

"He was a good man," Ian repeated. "A hero. And he lived a long life." Though the First Duke of Wellington was deemed a hero, Ian wasn't so sure the man's success extended to his personal life.

"Would you have expected him to be anything less, knowing now that he was Arthur returned to save his country?" Elaine asked him in a gentle tone. "He may yet be called upon to save his country again in the years to come. That is why Arthur's spirit lingers in the mists."

"Hmm," Ian mused quietly. Britain had certainly undergone various turbulent moments in history, not the least of which was the Second World War, but as far as Elaine was concerned, it seemed he had not returned then or she simply did not know about it. "That is a long time for a spirit to wait," he said, wondering if Arthur would ever move on, or if his soul's fate was forever tied to Britain, as it seemed to be.

"No longer than I have waited, or Guinevere," she pointed out mildly. "Arthur is a unique being. I do not doubt that he will guard Britain until there is no need for such a guardian any longer, no matter how long it may take. He loves the land that gave him life."

"True on all counts," Ian agreed with a thoughtful frown. There wasn't much he could say about that. He had offered to speak to Guinevere, for all the good it might do, but there was nothing he could do for Elaine. "Apologies, Lady," he told her with a small nod of his head. It was easy in her company to forget that she was the Lady of Avalon and fated to watch over that place until a successor took her place.

Elaine's smile returned as Ian apologized to her, understanding the reason for those words. "Would it help to know that my days are numbered, Ian?" she asked quietly. "That my time may now be counted in decades, rather than centuries?"

Beside Ian, Aurelia looked up sharply, her dark eyes resting on the Lady, wondering if the powers of the Well could foretell her successor with such accuracy.

There went that brow of his again, arching sharply. "I would have mixed feelings about such a thing," he answered as honestly as he could. Though he knew she might long for peace after so much centuries of loneliness, for him and Aurelia, it had only been a few days, and he was not ready to say good-bye yet. "We will have to visit as often as we can before then. Might I ask who is your successor?" he added, assuming it was some handmaiden or other who was being trained for such an important responsibility.

"Not yet born," Elaine assured him warmly, a rather mischievous look playing about her eyes. Aurelia's own eyes narrowed as she looked at the Lady, a little more familiar with the ways of magic and premonition, feeling her way to what the answer was going to be before it was spoken. She was already smirking as Elaine continued. "She will be the first daughter born to Ana Bristol, my friends. I am not leaving you as soon as you seem to think."

"Ana?" Ian echoed, trying to wrap his head around that. Wasn't she Rhys and Natalya's daughter? But she was little more than a baby herself. He did the math in his head. Assuming Ana was at least twenty when she had a daughter of her own, and her daughter was at least that age when she stepped in for Elaine, it would be at least forty years - four decades - before Elaine departed Avalon. Ian chuckled. He was already well into his thirties himself. "I'll be lucky to live long enough to see that."

"Indeed," Elaine agreed warmly. "You need not fear a life where I am not there, my dear friends. But when the time comes, I will be ready to go. The years have been long, and I yearn to see my son once again. It is the greatest sadness of my life, that I lived to see him die."

The mention of Galahad made Ian frown once again. "I told you he would be a great knight. Arthur's greatest. It's said he was the one who found the Grail. I assume that much is true," he said, as if asking for her confirmation.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Aurelia
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Posts: 130
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: Huntingdon, PA
9771.16 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"It is," she assured him, and she smiled, a mother's smile for a son who had made her exceptionally proud. "He was not at Camlann - he had traveled with Percival and Bors in search of the Grail a year before. It was a long journey for them, but they succeeded where Arthur and Lancelot had failed. Of them all, only Galahad was permitted to touch the Grail, raised to be pure of mind and heart by Percival himself. He recognized its power; knew, too, that it was a power that could not exist in the world of men. So he brought it here, and dedicated his life to preserving it and studying it. He died an old man, ancient by the standards of that time, having lived a full life."

"He didn't ascend into heaven after finding the Grail then," Ian remarked. "He disappeared from Earth because he came here." It all made perfect sense. Ian had already made the connection the first time he and Aurelia had visited Avalon, but it had been too soon to confirm it as it hadn't happened yet. He had only assured Elaine that her son would grow to be a great man, that she did not have to worry about him, and that he would make her proud. He wished he could have said the same thing about Mordred. "I wish I could have known him," Ian mused quietly, regarding Galahad. He almost wished he could have known Mordred, as well. Perhaps things would have been different, but he couldn't have risked it. History had to happen the way it was meant to be without too much meddling.

"I think you would have liked one another," Elaine said softly. Talking about her son brought her great sadness, always, but at the same time, she was proud of the life he had lived. "Ian, Aurelia ... there is a test you must undertake, in order to be allowed access to Avalon as you wish it. You must drink from the Grail."

Aurelia started in surprise. The Holy Grail was reputed to be something of great power, yet no one on Earth truly knew what it was or what that power pertained to. If it was somehow a means to bind a soul to Avalon, what was its purpose in doing so?

Ian looked as shocked as Aurelia by this prospect. He would have been happy just to see the Grail, much less drink from it. He assumed Rhys and Natalya must have done this already, and they had survived. What exactly happened when one drank from such a holy vessel, and how was it connected to Avalon? "What kind of test? What happens when we drink from it?"

"That is something I cannot tell you," Elaine said gently. "But that I believe you will both pass the Grail's test with ease. Everyone in a position of authority and learning on Avalon has done this thing, as has every agent we currently have on Earth. The Grail has bound itself to Avalon - those who have drunk from it are allowed to pass through the mists without the need for me to look into their hearts."

"I was meant to find it, wasn't I?" he asked curiously. "I was led here." And then another piece of the puzzle fell into place and he laughed aloud. "You gave the astrolabe to Dylan knowing we'd find it and come here, didn't you?"

She raised a brow, smirking just a little. "You did tell me how you came by it," she pointed out. "It was given into his hands after his own test, and though he never understood why, he clearly kept it safe for many years at my request." She looked shifty for a moment. "I may have had to ... nudge ... certain things to be sure you found it, though."

Aurelia pointed an accusing finger at her. "You pushed me!" she guessed. "I have never fallen over my own feet before, but somehow that day I did. It was you!"

Elaine didn't answer, but there was a certain amount of smug guilt in her expression that was answer enough.

Ian chuckled, though he wondered just how much he'd been pushed, as well. He hadn't expected to open a portal or step through into Avalon all those years ago, and yet it had happened. He'd read about people walking through the mists and experiencing strange things there, but he'd never expected it to happen to him.

"One thing," Aurelia said, her voice suddenly deathly serious as she met the Lady's eyes. "Actually, two. Will drinking from the Grail harm our child? And ... if we do not pass, what happens then?"

Elaine's smile faded as she heard those questions. "Those who do not pass the Grail's test ... die," she said, reluctance in every nuance of her tone. "But I do not believe either one of you will not pass that test. Just as I do not believe the Grail would harm your child in any way."

Ian reached for Aurelia's hand and linked his fingers with hers as he heard her questions, a worried frown on his face. Though he both believed in and trusted the Lady, he would not force such a decision on his wife, especially now that she was carrying their child. "It's up to you, Ree," he told her softly. "I will abide with whatever decision you make." That was a lot coming from a man whose entire life had revolved around the myths and legends surrounding this place, but now that he was a husband and soon-to-be father, there were more important things to consider.

Holding tightly to Ian's hand, Aurelia was lost in thought for a long time, frowning as she considered her options. "If I choose not to take this test," she said carefully, "I will not be allowed entry to Avalon again?"

Elaine frowned herself. "An exception can be made," she told them gently. "Until your child gains their first year. At that point, Aurelia, you will have to make the decision to drink from the Grail, or never to enter Avalon again. I truly understand your reservations, and no one would think less of you for waiting until your child is a full year old."

"It tests your heart, doesn't it? To learn your true intent, to see if you're pure of heart and worthy of Avalon," Ian guessed. It was the only thing that made sense, but to know that you either passed the test or you died required great courage. "I assume Rhys and Natalya passed." It kind of went without saying, since they were the Champion and the Priestess, respectfully, but had the Grail chosen them or had they chosen the Grail?

"They did," Elaine nodded. "It is ... it can be a trying experience. As I say, I do not think either of you will not pass this test. But to preserve your child from any harm, Aurelia need not drink from the Grail until after the child is born. You, Ian ... you are the Loremaster of Avalon, and have been for centuries in our eyes. You are long overdue your turn to be touched by the Grail."

"I'm not afraid," he said without hesitation. "I've been waiting for this all my life. I'm ready." He wasn't sure if it was something that would be done in private or as part of a ceremony, nor did it matter. She was right - he was long overdue, and he was certain he'd pass.

"Then at dawn, we will bring you to Grail, and you will drink," Elaine told him solemnly, certain he would pass with ease. There was nothing he had done in his lifetime that he could not forgive himself for, after all, and what he could forgive, the Grail would wash clean. "Aurelia, you do not need to witness the ceremony if you do not wish it."

But Aurelia was already shaking her head. "I will be a witness," she insisted. "I will not drink yet, but I will not allow Ian to walk into this without me by his side."

"I only have one regret in life," he told her, and they both knew what that was. If only he could make peace with his father, his life would be complete, but he doubted that would ever happen. The man was stubborn to a fault, and Ian had given up long ago.

Aurelia drew his hand between both her own, holding his gaze with gently understanding eyes. "It is a regret that need not stand for long," she told him softly. "Perhaps we will find a way to reconcile that part of your life. There is always hope."

Hope. He offered a strained smile that he didn't really feel. He'd given up on that hope years ago when his mother had died. "Perhaps," he replied, "But I wouldn't bet on it." He wasn't sure what any of this had to do with the Grail, but if it was going to test his heart, then it might come to bear somehow.

"It is amazing what can happen to the most stubborn of hearts when they are presented with the happiness of those they have almost lost," Aurelia said, her voice gentle but firm. She would not push him into a reconciliation with his father before it was time, but she did not think even the hardest of hearts would be able to turn away an only son who wanted to introduce him to his first grandchild.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Aurelia
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Posts: 130
See this user's pet
Can Be Found: Huntingdon, PA
9771.16 Silver Crowns

Items

PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Maybe," he replied grudgingly, doubtfully. If it happened, so be it, but he wasn't going to set his heart on it. It had been over five years since he'd been home, since he'd seen his father, and their parting had not been a good one.

"Your wife speaks a lot of sense, Ian," Elaine interjected quietly. "A child can heal a great deal of heartache. I know this, intimately." She smiled gently, moving to stand. "It seems our time has come to an end. I will see you both at dawn. The Handmaidens will bring you to the Lady Chapel of the Abbey."

Ian frowned as the Lady seemed ready to dismiss them, though he rose to his feet without argument and pulled Aurelia up with him. The talk of his father had dampened his mood a little, but the mood would pass. He assumed they'd spend the night at the cottage where they'd stayed once their first visit to Avalon. "Is there anything I need to do to prepare?" he asked, almost as an afterthought. He had no idea what awaited him really, but he knew he was ready. This was what he'd waited all his life for.

"No, there is nothing," Elaine assured him, capturing his hand warm between her own for a brief moment. "You will be provided for, both of you." She paused for a long moment, and suddenly threw her arms around them both, holding them tightly. "I am glad you have returned. I have missed you so."

Whether he thought he was ready or not, he was human, and as such, there was still a little fear in him. Still, he knew his own heart better than anyone and knew his intentions were honest and pure. Elaine's hug drew him out of his thoughts, a little surprised at first, but softening as he returned her embrace. She was mother, sister, daughter, Lady, but mostly to him, she was friend, and he could only guess at the loneliness she'd felt all those years while she waited for their return. "We missed you, too," he told her quietly, though they'd only been parted a few days at most. "You're not alone anymore."

Aurelia's hand gently stroked Elaine's hair, a part of her mind wondering how Rhys might have reacted had he heard that small confession. She knew her friend well enough to know that he was not so secure in himself as he seemed to be, treasuring the friendships he had made that had survived the worst of his experiences. She gently kissed Elaine's hair, understanding a little of the loneliness she expressed. "It will not be long, madame, and you will be able to rest. But you will have us, and you will have Rhys and Natalya, and our families, to keep you surrounded with warmth and love until your time comes."

Ian could not have put it any better than that, grateful that Aurelia had the words that, for once, he did not. So long as they passed this test, they would be able to come and go as freely as they pleased. There was no reason to believe they wouldn't pass the test, though Aurelia would have to wait a while before she was tested. Moved by Elaine's confession and Aurelia's compassion, Ian found his heart swelling with love and affection for both these two women who meant more to him than anyone else - wife and sister, lover and friend. He dared to brush a kiss against Elaine's cheek, the first he'd ever offered her. "We will see you at dawn, my lady."

"You shall," the Lady nodded as she drew back, touched deeply by their compassion for her. "Go now, and enjoy the beauty of Avalon with one another. I can promise you, there will be little time to do so tomorrow. I understand there is a need to send you home at an appointed hour."

"An appointed hour?" he echoed, a little confused, as he drew back from the mutual hugfest. He chuckled then, almost forgetting their date at city hall. "Oh, yes. We do have an appointment we'd like to keep," he said with a smile as he drew Aurelia's hand into his own.

"And you shall keep it," Elaine promised them, gently touching her hand first to Ian's cheek, then to Aurelia's. "I will see you at dawn, with our friends, and with those who will be your friends. Now take your wife home, Ian. You have hours before either one of you will sleep."

Home. There was that word again, with regard to Avalon. Where was home, really? Was home back in Pennsylvania where he lived and worked? Was it in England where he'd grown up? Or was it here in Avalon, surrounded by those he truly care about? He decided it was all and none of those things. In truth, it was wherever Aurelia was. That was home.

Ian smiled at last, wondering what she thought they'd do to occupy themselves before night drew a dark curtain on Avalon. "Shall we, wife?" he asked Aurelia, with a teasing grin.

Laughing, Aurelia tucked herself against his side, rolling her eyes. "After you, husband," she countered his tease with her own, casting a last, warm smile to the Lady of Avalon as she smiled indulgently at them once more.

Ian, too, smiled over at Elaine before turning to lead his wife away from the Lady's garden. Hand in hand, and side by side, they walked through the garden as they would walk through life - together. Come morning, the Grail would test whether he was worthy of Avalon, but for now, this time was their own, to spend as they wished, and all Ian wanted to do was savor these last few hours alone with his wife before the Grail would weigh his heart and decide whether he lived or died.

She watched them leave, a sad thing of beauty in the silence of the Chalice Gardens, wrapped about with the loneliness of her long years. Yet that loneliness was abating with the return of friends who had visited her past, with the knowledge that only one generation separated her from the long awaited reunion with her own son beyond the veil. The Lady of Avalon, who had once been Elaine of Corbenic, smiled fondly, turning back to her duties as guardian of the isle. There was no doubt in her mind that the Grail would accept Ian, would know him for the Loremaster he was, and in time, that Aurelia would join their ranks, too.

But for now, she embraced her loneliness, the stillness of their parting, turning her heart and mind to Avalon once more. Though her years may be numbered, the sacred isle still needed her, and she would never disappoint it, determined to see the next Lady's accession through as gently as her own had been violent. She owed it to Viviane to make no mistakes, this time.

((The list of Avalon's allies just gets longer and longer, doesn't it? As always, a huge amount of thanks goes to my writing partner!))
_________________
These eight words the Rede fulfill:
"An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic   printer-friendly view    Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark Forum Index -> Whispers in the Night -> Things that Go Bump in the Night All times are GMT - 4 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group

Dragon's Mark Producer - Rob Portinga
Original site design © 2005 by Nomad  •  Forum design © 2005 Isaura Simon