As I mentioned in my 2015 goals post, some new things are happening on the blog in the coming year. This is one of them! The first Monday of every month, a wonderful bunch of ladies and I will be posting a photo along with a flashfiction peice inspired by that photo.
This month's photo sent my mind immediately running to a character I've already written--and am still writing. Merlin from my Albion's Circle series. So, I just went with it...
I flipped up the collar of my coat and ducked my head. More out of habit than actual need. I didn’t really feel the frigid wind or the bitter cold. I didn’t feel much of anything. Hadn’t in a long, long time.
Which was why I was here. I needed to remember, needed to see their faces again, needed to feel.
The stones and gravel crunched under my boots as I made my way to the mouth of the cave. I hadn’t been here in… I chuckled softly—a humorless sound lost in the howling gusts. I hadn’t felt the need to come here in several lives. I hadn’t felt the need because it’d been so long since I’d been alone. Well, and truly alone. In all the lives I’d lived, in all the centuries since Camelot, there had been many years spent on my own, but not like this. Usually, at the end of it all, when the battle was over, I had someone there. Arthur or Galahad or one of the others standing by my side. There to help shoulder the burden, to balance the darkness inside me with their light, to remind me of what I was fighting for every life, to remind me it was all worth it.
But this life, there was no one. They were lost. And it was my fault. I’d done what needed to be done to stop Mordred, but I couldn’t stop. I clenched my jaw as images of fire and destruction and the sounds of screaming played in my head. I hadn’t stopped until everyone was gone.
I paused at the cave’s entrance and took a deep breath, the cold air burning my lungs. My magic throbbed inside me, pushing against my skin painfully. I hadn’t accessed it, hadn’t let it out, since the last battle ten years ago, and it was not happy.
I walked slowly inside, eyes adjusting to the change in light, and forced myself to continue deeper. When the darkness became too much, I lifted my trembling hand…and let it hover in the air. Fear and uncertainty overwhelmed me as my power jumped and vibrated, desperate to get out, to be used. It’d been too long. I didn’t know if I could wield it with any control.
Don’t be silly, Merlin. It’s a part of you. Trust it.
I closed my eyes as her voice sounded in my head. Oh, I knew it wasn’t really her voice. I hadn’t heard that since Camelot, but it’d always, always be her I heard when I needed a swift kick in the ass.
I inhaled deeply and loosened the decade-old hold I’d kept on my magic. Lights flickered through the cavern. Wild and erratic at first, all over the place. Then, they all converged and a large orb glowed, suspended near the roof of the cave, illuminating the large space.
I swayed on my feet, lightheaded and intoxicated as my power flowed out. It danced around the room before coming back, twining around me, embracing me, comforting me. My eyes stung as my gaze settled on the frosted cavern wall before me. What I’d etched into the stone all those years ago was barely visible, but I knew it was there. Power swelled and crackled in the air as bright lines appeared on the wall. I laughed, the sounded echoing, as the images I’d created were re-carved before my eyes. My magic was bringing them back without my even having to directing it.
I stepped forward and lifted my fingers to trace along the line of Arthur’s crown as I studied his face. Arthur Pendragon. King of Camelot, High King of all of Albion. The greatest of us all. My best friend.
My throat tightened, and I swallowed with difficulty. I made my way slowly down the length of the way, the orb of light following me so I could make out all the faces staring back at me. Lancelot and Guinevere, Gawain, Morgana, Percival, Erek and Owain. I stopped in front of Galahad, smiling at his cheeky grin even as I fought against the pain weighing down on me. And knew it was going to crush me. Destroy me the moment I took another step.
The orb moved past me, and Galahad’s face fell into shadow as the light concentrated, centered on what I avoided…and what I wanted to see more than anything. And of course, my magic knew that. I could feel it pulling, drawing me to stand before…well, her.
I traced the lines of her face, imagined the warmth of her skin even as the frozen stone scraped the pad of my finger. And, suddenly, anger surged. The years that separated us, the guilt of not saving her, the utter grief of losing her time after time choked me. I slammed my fists against the wall, and it cracked—fissures crept outward, obscuring her likeness. Immediately, the fractures flared brightly then knit back together.
“I miss you,” I whispered, pressing my fingers to her lips. “I’ll find you.”
I turned away and stumbled to the large boulder in the center of the cavern. As I sat, I forced myself to look at Annwyl’s face again, even though it hurt. I deserved that. I deserved every ounce of pain and torment.
“I promise. The next life, I’ll find you. Just…just wait for me, this time. Please, wait for me.”