A Genius in King Arthur's Court - Ch. 3

A Genius in King Arthur's Court - Ch. 3

A Genius in King Arthur’s Court

 

Ch. 3 – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

 

“I’m… a sorcerer?!”

“That is correct, David. My friend would not have taken to you as he did were you not,” Merlin chuckled.

“This… this is crazy…”

“You do not believe me?”

“No!” Dave exclaimed. “I am a man of science! I believe in what can be perceived through our senses and confirmed with consistent testing. How am I supposed to throw all that away and believe in sorcery?!”

“And what makes you think that the two are not connected?” Merlin grinned.

“What do you mean?”

“Do you think that I am not a man of science? In fact, I daresay that every sorcerer through history has been enamored with the sciences and the nature of the universe. It is only natural, given the intellect and curiosity a sorcerer must have.”

“Even so, we come from different times, Merlin. Things have changed in over a thousand years.”

“Ah… you think my primitive upbringing a hindrance to what I can accept as fact,” Merlin surmised.

“N-no, that is not what I-”

“It is alright, I take no offense. However, you are quite mistaken in that, and I can prove it to you.”

“How?”

“Tell me, what would you say is man’s most remarkable accomplishment in the millennium to come?” Merlin asked.

“Well… we have managed to travel to the moon,” Dave said.

“Fascinating… traveling to a celestial body. I suppose in order to accomplish this, man had to first learn to fly, is that correct?”

“Yes,” Dave replied, a bit surprised at how astute Merlin’s mind was.

“Tell me, what means of flight did man develop?”

“Primarily, we use vehicles capable of flight. They are essentially horseless carriages with wings on them, though the wings do not flap,” Dave explained.

“No need to dumb it down for me, David. Tell me of the science behind it!”

“Um, ok… oh, I have an idea!” David reached over to his backpack, pulling out a die cast of a 747 airplane that he had used in yesterday’s lecture. “This is a model of what we call an aircraft. Do you see the shape of the wing here?”

“Yes, it appears to have a very specific curvature,” Merlin noticed.

“Exactly. Now an aircraft must be capable of traveling at incredibly fast speeds in order to fly, and the bigger it is, the higher the speed requirement will be. When it travels at those high speeds while maintaining a straight trajectory, the air around it passes over the wing. This is where that curvature comes into play. The shape of the wing causes the air to move differently on either side of it, creating a pocket of high pressure below the wing and low pressure above the wing. This principle is what creates lift and allows a vehicle such as this to fly through the air.”

“I see,” Merlin replied. “So taking into account the principle you have just described…”

Merlin waved his hand over the model plane. As he did so, the stone in his pendant began to glow red, as if it was charging energy within it. Before Dave’s eyes, Merlin began to manipulate the air surrounding the plane, creating a tiny wind tunnel. After a moment or two, the plane lifted off the table, hovering in the air for a few seconds before the wind died down.

“Woah… you just replicated the Bernoulli principle!”

“Bernoulli?”

“Oh, the scientist who initially made this discovery.”

“Ah, I see. But yes, while it would have been quite easy for me to levitate this object, I instead wanted to demonstrate one of the most basic forms of sorcery: the manipulation of the elements. In this case, wind.”

“Wow… but how does this help us in finding a way for me to return home?”

“Is it not obvious? You must learn sorcery, David! Remember, I have used my power to travel through time before, and I can eventually teach you to do the same.”

“But did you not say that a sorcerer can only travel into the past?” David asked.

“No, I said that a sorcerer must be able to clearly envision the time in which he wishes to travel to. I cannot travel into the future because it is beyond my comprehension. But you have intimate knowledge of the future, as it is your own time, and I hypothesize that this familiarity will allow you to travel home, once you master the magic required, of course.”

“Then we should get started! What must I do to travel through time?”

“Patience, David. Time travel is the most difficult form of magic to master, one with disastrous results should it be performed incorrectly. Without proper mastery, you could end up spreading your molecules across many different times. In order to reach this level, you must undergo the rigors of my training. There will be no shortcuts, and I shall not go easy on you, David. But as best I can find, this is your only hope of returning home. Do you accept these terms?”

Dave’s throat went dry as he swallowed hard. This seemed like an enormous responsibility, but if it was his only chance of returning home, he saw little other choice.

“I do.”

With a snap of his fingers, Merlin sent the table and chairs flying into the corner of the room, and the book that was on it levitating over to a nearby podium. The main floor of the workshop now clear, Merlin summoned up an immense amount of magical power. Soon, a green circle appeared on the floor, containing a pentagram within it, and Merlin stepped within the circle.

“Come.”

Dave’s hands were trembling as he walked into the circle, face-to-face with Merlin.

“David of Brighton, you possess within you the capacity for enormous good. I, Merlin, the mightiest of all sorcerers, do hereby swear to devote my life to your training. From this day forth, you are to be… my apprentice.”

Merlin extended his hand, and Dave grasped it firmly. The green light surrounding them suddenly disappeared in a brilliant flash. Soon, all was quiet once more.

“It is done. This now belongs to you, David,” Merlin said, gesturing to the thick book on the podium.

“What is it?”

“This is your Incantus; your guidebook to all things sorcery. This book contains every known spell and ability a sorcerer can use. It is your most precious possession, second only to the ring you now wear.”

“The ring? Why is it so special?”

“That stone is called a Channel. It is what will allow you to focus your mind to the levels needed to bend the laws of nature through magic. Guard it with your life, for without it, you are powerless.”

“Powerless?”

“Indeed. Without my pendant, even I, the greatest sorcerer in the world, would be unable to perform my feats of wonder.”

“How should I guard it? What security measures should I take?”

“We shall go into that later. For now, let us begin your first lesson. Are you ready?”

“Ready.”

“Good. Now, there are two primary kinds of sorcery we can use, David. The first is when we manipulate things in the world around us. The second is when we manipulate the energy and power within ourselves. The latter of these is quite advanced, so we shall begin with something simple.” With a wave of his hand, the Incantus flipped through its pages, landing somewhere in the middle of the book.

“Let me see… combustion?” Dave asked, reading the pages of the book.

“Indeed. You are a man of science, yes? What causes an object to combust into flames?”

“Well, it requires a fuel and an oxidant.”

“Yes, but on a more molecular level, David,” Merlin pressed.

“Um… the combination of the fuel and oxidant causes a chemical reaction, ultimately resulting in the molecules vibrating so much that they burst into flame,” Dave said.

“Precisely,” Merlin said. Placing a bit of parchment on the floor between them, he continued, “I want you to cause this parchment to burn.”

“How?”

“There are three things you must do. First, empty your mind of all thoughts. Second, focus your mind singularly upon your goal. Third, allow your willpower to take over and will the molecules of the parchment to vibrate until they combust. Try.”

Taking a deep breath, Dave reached out his hand towards the parchment. He found that the first step was perhaps the most difficult of all. Dave’s mind was always running a mile a minute, analyzing everything around him. After a few moments, he believed he had managed to clear his mind enough, and now began focusing on his goal, imagining the parchment on fire.

Come on… come on, come on, come on!

Dave’s breathing became more labored as he attempted to focus on the molecules of the parchment. He had no idea if his willpower was taking over or if he was just giving himself a seizure. For what seemed like ages, he focused on the parchment, reaching for anything that would allow him to manipulate the particles within it. At last, the stone on his ring began to glow a faint blue, and Dave started to feel a bond of some sort with the parchment. Giving himself over to that feeling, he focused every bit of his mind until a spark appeared on the corner of the parchment, starting a small flame.

“Ah! Haha! I did it!” Dave screamed.

“Impressive,” Merlin said, extinguishing the flame with a wave of his hand. “Again.”

Dave focused once more, managing to produce similar results in a shorter amount of time. While his first attempt had taken upwards of fifteen minutes, he managed to achieve combustion in only five minutes this time around. The flame was still tiny, though, and Dave tried intensifying his concentration on his third attempt, managing to produce a flame that engulfed half the parchment. Almost as soon as Merlin had extinguished that flame, Dave was able to conjure up another that burned up the rest of the parchment.

“Oh wow… this is so cool!”

“You are progressing quite fast, I must say,” Merlin grinned. “Now on to your next lesson: water, or more accurately, liquidity. Tell me of your understanding of this state of matter?”

“Well, molecules in liquid form are quite similar to when they are in a gaseous form, such as fire. They vibrate and are in constant motion, but comparatively slower and more in control while in a liquid form.”

“Indeed.” Merlin now placed an empty bowl on the floor. “What do you see in this bowl, David?”

“Nothing.”

“Yes, but does that mean that there is nothing within the bowl?”

“Umm… there is oxygen all around us.”

“Precisely! While it is impossible for a sorcerer to create matter of any sort out of nothing, it is possible to manipulate matter that already exists. This includes the most basic particles of the universe. Now, see if you can use this information to fill this bowl with water.”

Dave pondered for several minutes. He knew that his summation of oxygen being all around them was key, but how to use it? Of course, water was made up of two hydrogen atoms and a single oxygen atom, but how to introduce hydrogen to the mix? Getting a crazy idea, Dave worked to clear his mind and focus on the air within the bowl. After a few moments, he began to connect to the oxygen, and focused on splitting some of those oxygen atoms, creating eight hydrogen atoms from each. With great effort, he then willed those hydrogen atoms to combine with the remaining oxygen atoms. A moment later, the bowl was filled to the brim with clear water.

“Incredible…”

“Most impressive, David. You are learning to use what you already know of the universe in conjunction with your new talents. Now that you have learned how to conjure water, you can begin to manipulate and control it.”

Focusing his mind once more, Dave began to bond with the water he had just created. He found that it was quite easy to anticipate the natural flow of the water molecules, and began to exert more influence over them with each passing moment. Once he was in full control of the liquid, he flicked his wrist and brought every last drop of water out of the bowl, floating in the air in the shape of a ball. Dave moved the ball around for a bit, spinning it a couple of times, before he had to drop it back into the bowl with a splash.

“Wow… that’s… more tiring… than I thought… it’d be…” Dave panted.

“Fear not. Soon, your body will become accustomed to this feeling, and using sorcery will be as nothing to you. Are we ready to continue?”

Dave stretched his arms for a moment before replying, “I think so.”

“Excellent. Now for the complete opposite of your first lesson in fire: ice, or rather, solidifying objects. Where you previously learned to connect with the molecules and force them to vibrate, now you must take those molecules and put them at rest.”

“Ok… do I need to worry about the temperature to cause the water to freeze? It seems rather warm in here.”

“No, for once you decrease the movement of the water molecules, this action will naturally drop the temperature. Now, begin.”

For the third time, Dave connected with the water molecules he had created, now becoming quite familiar with them. He first bonded with their natural vibrations, as he had done moments before, but soon began to force their movements to slow. As he did so, Dave could feel the temperature begin to drop. At last, he opened his eyes, seeing that the bowl had completely frozen over.

“You have such a natural talent for this. Truly, you were meant for this power, David,” Merlin marveled. “Very good, one last lesson before we should rest.”

“One of the other elements?” Dave asked.

“Indeed, and perhaps the most useful of the elements in any given situation: wind. The key to controlling wind is direction. You need not create or conjure it, as you did with water and fire, for air is all around us. You must simply take complete command of its speed and direction, as you saw me do earlier.”

Dave took to the element of wind quite easily, managing to blow a steady stream of air in Merlin’s face right away. Within ten minutes, he was able to increase the speed up to what would have been deadly levels, had Merlin not had his own sorcery to protect himself. He experimented for another twenty minutes, becoming familiar with changing the direction of the wind, even managing to create a small cyclone once or twice. After a while, he slumped down onto the floor, exhausted yet invigorated.

“This is… beyond anything I ever thought possible!” Dave said with a laugh.

“And we have but scratched the surface of what you are capable of, David. I will not be so bold as to say that anything is possible through sorcery, but I will say that your talent with magic will be most formidable when combined with your intellect and imagination.”

At that moment, a knock came at the door.

“Enter,” Merlin replied.

“Good morning, old friend,” Arthur said with a grin.

“Arthur, what brings you down to my lonely workshop?”

“Lonely? Hah! It is like a second home to me!” he replied, giving his friend and mentor a warm hug. “So tell me, is it as you suspected with our new friend?”

“Indeed, it is. David has the same talent that I possess, perhaps even more so! In but a few short hours of work, he has already demonstrated proficiencies that it took me days to master in my youth. Watch. David, would you be so kind as to gather us some chairs and a table to sit at?”

“Huh? Oh, of course!”

Dave focused on a trio of chairs and a smaller square table in one corner of the workshop. One-by-one, he floated each over to the center of the room on a gentile cushion of air, setting the chairs down in front of the three men. By the time he had brought the table over, Arthur’s mouth was agape with wonder.

“My God… David, you truly learned all this in only this morning?!”

“It is true, though I must say that Merlin is a wonderful teacher,” Dave replied.

“Ah, I can attest to that, my friend,” Arthur chuckled. “He was hard on me in my youth, but every lesson he taught me came with a purpose.”

“You are both very kind,” Merlin sighed with a smile.

“Your Highness, it is actually good that you have come today. I would speak with you about something,” Dave said.

“Of course!”

Dave considered his words carefully before deciding to tell Arthur a half-truth to get to the point of what he wanted to say.

“You see… last evening, I was standing on the balcony of my room, enjoying the sunset. While I was out there, I heard crying coming from somewhere nearby. I saw Madeleine in the room next to mine. She was slumped over her bed, clearly hurt and lonely. Your Highness, she is in pain, and I know it must be from the instructions you have given the both of us.”

Arthur lowered his head, saying, “Believe me, it pains me as much as it does her, perhaps more so. She has done nothing wrong in this, yet she is locked up as if a prisoner.”

“I believe it goes deeper than that. Your Highness, she is terrified for her future. She is afraid that you would be unable to pay her dowry, that she is destined for the life of a prostitute. Please tell me this will not happen!” Dave pleaded.

Arthur sighed. “I will speak plainly, David. The war with Mordred does not go well. His forces are powerful and determined. As they continue to attack the surrounding villages, my army has been spread very thin. It has become quite an expensive endeavor to combat his growing influence, and as such, I do not have the funds to pay Madeleine’s dowry, even in my station as King. Certainly, I could take what I needed from the peasants, but I have never needed to do so in my entire life, and I shall not do so now!”

“I would never expect you to do such a thing, but where does that leave Madeleine?” Dave pressed.

“As difficult as the situation is, be assured that I would never condemn her to the life of a prostitute. I would dishonor her father’s name in doing so. But if I am unable to pay her dowry, or find a suitor willing to take her without one, the only possible solution I can think of would be to send her to a convent.”

“A convent? Make her a nun?”

“Indeed. It would be a quiet, lonely life for her, but she would live the rest of her days in safety and in the service of God the Almighty.”

That’s better than a prostitute, but still not a solution, Dave thought to himself.

“David, I believe this conversation now begs the question: how do you know of these fears she has?” Arthur asked warily.

“As I said, I heard her crying in her room last evening,” Dave answered, worried that Arthur might be on to him.

Arthur slapped his palms on the table with a thud. “David, one does not become King of the Britons by being a fool. You have disobeyed my orders and spoken with her, yes?”

Swallowing hard, Dave knew the jig was up. “I… I have.”

“I see. It appears you are not as trustworthy as you have led me to believe.”

In the blink of an eye, Arthur stood and overturned the table in a fit of anger, leaving nothing between Dave and him. Before Dave could react, Arthur had kicked him square in the chest, sending him to the floor on his back.

“What the hell?!” he cried out.

“You were warned what consequences would befall you for such foolish actions!” Arthur roared. “I trusted you, David, and you have betrayed that trust!”

Arthur drew Excalibur from his belt, raising it over his head. As he prepared to slice Dave in half, the sword began to emit a faint, golden glow, and it stopped its own momentum inches from Dave’s head. Arthur struggled against his weapon, but to no avail.

“Why will you not strike?!  Excalibur, what is the meaning of this?!”

“The meaning should be clear,” Merlin said in a calm voice, still seated in his chair. “David’s actions appear to be justified, as far as Excalibur is concerned.”

“And what justification could you have?” Arthur seethed.

“I am only looking out for Madeleine’s best interests,” Dave insisted.

“That is my responsibility, not yours,” Arthur countered.

“Perhaps, but none understand the danger she faces better than I do,” Dave replied, picking himself up off the ground. “Your Highness, she is affected by the events of yesterday more than any of us; she lives when she is not supposed to. Because of this, I believe she deserves to know the truth. Who I am, where I come from, and what should have happened to her according to history.”

“You fool! You could well expose yourself and the danger you have put us all in,” Arthur replied firmly. “What if she told someone of the truth?”

“Who would she tell? For that matter, even if she were to tell someone, who would believe her? Any normal person hearing such a thing would dismiss it as a poor girl being driven mad with grief from her father’s death.”

Merlin chuckled at this. “He has a point, Arthur.”

Arthur began to grow frustrated, not only at Dave’s defiance, but now at both his weapon and oldest friend taking the boy’s side. Still, he managed to compose himself, deciding to remove himself from the conversation. As he turned to leave, Arthur threw a glance over his shoulder.

“Be wary, David. You have been fortunate to survive this disobedience. Do so again, and Excalibur may not be enough to spare you.”

A final huff, and Arthur slammed the door behind him.

“David, do you have a death wish?” Merlin asked with a laugh.

“I only said what needed to be said.”

“You are a bold one, I shall admit to that!”

“Merlin, does the war really go that poorly? The look in Arthur’s eyes as he discussed it… it was disconcerting.”

“Sadly, it does. Mordred’s forces are young and idealistic, which stands in contrast to the seasoned veterans in Arthur’s service. But more than that, Mordred also has the support of his mother, Morgan le Fay.”

“Arthur’s half-sister!” Dave realized.

“Indeed. It appears her part in this has not been lost to history. Yes, Morgan le Fay is a brilliant sorceress, my best student by far. If only I had been able to tame her blackened heart…” Merlin’s voice trailed off, but he soon composed himself. “Ah, but that is a tale for another time. Shall we continue?”

“You still wish to teach me? Even after what Arthur said?”

“As far as I am concerned, I must continue to teach you for as long as you still draw breath. I made an oath to you, David, and I shall not rest until we are able to send you home, where you belong.”

“Thank you,” Dave said with a smile.

“You are most welcome. Now then, there are still two more elements for you to master, but we shall discuss them at a later time. For now, I wish to teach you perhaps the most useful technique a sorcerer can have at his disposal: the levitation spell.”

“Is that anything like when I brought the table and chairs over?” Dave asked.

“The effect is similar, though the process is different, and far simpler. While before you floated objects by swirling the air around them, the levitation spell is a spell that affects the object itself, bringing it under your control. In order to accomplish this, you must force the object to break free from the law of gravity, making yourself the master of gravity as it relates to your target. While this sounds complicated, I assure you it is quite easy once your body is accustomed to it.”

Dave stood and began to concentrate on the chair he had been sitting in, at first focusing on the object’s weight. This proved fruitless, so he instead tried to sense the Earth’s pull on the object, feeling the gravity of the planet against the chair. He attempted to force the chair up with his mind against the force of gravity, but to no avail; the chair just shook a little bit. After a moment’s thought, Dave tried a different approach, and focused on the force of gravity itself, rather than the chair. With great effort, he was finally able to negate the gravitational pull of the Earth upon the chair, allowing him to lift it into the air telekinetically.

“Wow… unreal…”

“Most impressive, David,” Merlin said, watching Dave float the chair back into the corner. “Again.”

Dave practiced for the next several hours, honing his levitation skills. As he gained proficiency with the basic skill, he then began focusing on moving objects through the air faster and with more control, even summoning items to his hand in an instant. After a break for lunch, Merlin then instructed him on levitating several objects at the same time. It required more concentration, but the basic principle remained, and Dave caught on with little trouble. A few hours later, Dave couldn’t help but feel like a Jedi.

“The Force is strong with this one…” he muttered as he lowered a trio of chairs to the ground.

“Pardon?” Merlin asked.

“Oh, nothing. A humorous phrase from my time,” Dave replied.

“Ah I see. In any event, you are certainly gaining great proficiency with the levitation spell. Now, one last thing to teach you before we adjourn for the day.”

“What is that?” Dave asked with anticipation.

“This.”

With a wave of his hands, Merlin transformed his simple, gray robes into a set of ornate clothes fit for a king. A moment later, he was clad in fierce battle armor, and yet another wave of his hands brought back his original clothes.

“That… is impressive,” Dave admitted.

“Indeed. Now, what did you observe in that demonstration, David? What can you surmise about this brand of magic?”

“Umm… that your clothes did not change instantaneously was the first thing I noticed. They seemed to change in a wave of sorts,” Dave observed.

“Correct. What conclusion can you draw from this?”

“Perhaps that you were only rearranging the molecules?”

“Excellent! This is the most basic form of rearranging matter. In most cases, the more similar the goal object is to the original object, the easier the transformation will be. For example, all of the changes I made were clothes of some sort. Thus, a clear mental image was all that I required to bring about the changes. Now, the armor did necessitate greater concentration, as it was made of a different material, but the fact that it was clothing of some sort still aided in the process. Try it for yourself; see if you can fashion some more discrete garments from what you currently wear.”

“Hmm… ok, let me see.”

After a moment, Dave managed to change his t-shirt into a simple, brown shirt with long sleeves, like he had seen others of this time wear. His shorts were next, transforming into a pair of black trousers. At last, he came to his shoes, which formed into a pair of boots, encompassing his lower legs up to the top of his calves.

“Very good. Again.”

Dave changed back to his original appearance, making the switch much faster this time. Again he transformed into his medieval clothes, managing to change them all in one fell swoop. After another few minutes of practice, he changed back to his modern clothes, slumping down in a nearby chair.

“Whew… this is hard work.”

“You will rest well tonight, of that I am certain,” Merlin agreed with a chuckle. “You are performing most admirably, David. I am nothing short of enthused by your efforts. Still, as you have only begun your training, I must require that you do not use magic outside of my workshop for the time being.”

“Even for practice? I certainly would not try to conjure fire, but what of the levitation spell?”

“Hmm… I suppose I can allow this. You may practice your levitation as you see fit, but do not push yourself, David. Your body is still growing accustomed to this new power. Now, unless you have any other questions, I believe that shall be all for today.” Moving over to the podium, Merlin touched the Incantus, causing it to shrink down to the size of a cell phone. “This is yours to take with you. Simply touch it with your Channel and it shall return to its original size.”

“Huh, pocket sized,” Dave chuckled to himself, slipping it into his backpack. “Same time tomorrow?”

“Indeed. A restful evening to you, David.  Oh, and bring your bow with you tomorrow, if you would.”

Waving goodbye to Merlin, David began to climb the spiral staircase back into the castle proper. As he exited back into the hallway, he was a bit startled to find Arthur waiting for him, his arms crossed.

“David.”

“Your Highness.”

“Walk with me.” Dave followed without a word, waiting for Arthur to speak first. At last, he said, “You must understand that my actions earlier were for the wellbeing of my people, David.”

“I understand that, but neither do I not regret my decision.”

“Yes, I realize this. Though I am… disappointed with your decision to disregard my orders, I have given this situation much thought. In spite of your actions, I do still believe you to be trustworthy.”

“I am relieved, though I am also surprised, Your Highness. Is there a particular reason you still think me trustworthy?”

Arthur gazed off into space, deep in thought. “Excalibur has not steered me wrong yet, David.” As they arrived back at Dave’s quarters, he continued, “In regards to our previous… conversation, I believe you should do that which you think is best. I shall trust your best judgment.”

“Thank you, Your Highness.”

“Of course. Now, I shall leave you for the evening. One more thing; you will henceforth not require an armed escort to your lessons with Merlin, provided you wear some more appropriate clothing,” he said, pointing at Dave’s modern clothes.

“I will bear that in mind.  Good evening.”

“Good evening.”

Closing the door behind him, Dave dropped his backpack on the floor and made for the balcony.

“Madeleine? Madeleine, you there?”

A moment later, the stunning redhead rushed out to join him.

“David! Was your day productive?”

“Very. I… did speak with King Arthur.”

“Oh, thank you! What did he say?”

“He confirmed that, as expensive as the war with Mordred has been, he would not be able to pay your dowry on his own,” Dave replied, looking down.

“I see… then it seems I am destined for the life of a prostitute.”

“No, Madeleine. He swore that he would never allow that to happen, no matter the circumstances. He would dishonor your father’s memory in doing so.”

“Then, what is to become of me?” Madeleine asked.

“He said that, if he is unable to pay your dowry or find a suitor willing to take you without one, he may have to send you to a convent.”

“A convent? Why? Why would he push me into a life of such solitude?” Madeleine pressed, tears beginning to form in your eyes.

Hearing the pain in her voice, Dave could no longer hold back the truth from her.

“It is… because of me.”

“You?”

“Madeleine, I have not been entirely truthful with you… about where I come from.”

“Whatever do you mean? Do you not hail from Atlanta by way of Brighton?”

“Yes, but it is more complex than that.” Taking a deep breath, he continued, “Madeleine, you believe it to be the year of our Lord 932. But where I come from, it is the year of our Lord 2017.”

“I do not understand… how is this possible?”

“I am not just from a foreign land. I am from the future.”

Dave went on to explain Merlin’s lessons on time travel and his theory that someone brought Dave here against his will. He continued with the knowledge he had of the dangers of time travel and interfering with history, including Merlin’s Simon Peter analogy. Madeleine remained silent through it all, processing this new information.

“I see why this has remained a secret,” she said at last.

“There is more, Madeleine. Remember my talk of damaging history, however accidentally?”

“Of course.”

“I… I fear I may have already done so.” Dave collected his courage; there was no going back now. “Madeleine, in my time, we are familiar with the stories of King Arthur and his war with Mordred. I am also aware of His Highness’ efforts to form an alliance with the Saxons through your father. The problem is, according to history as I know it, an attack on Lord Byron’s carriage destroyed any hope of an alliance. The attack killed Lord Byron, Sir James… and his daughter.”

Madeleine’s eyes went wide as she realized the truth. “You are saying… I was meant to die in that attack?”

“According to history… yes,” Dave admitted, lowering his head.

Madeleine leaned against the railing of the balcony. She felt faint and sick, as if she had been punched in the gut and slapped across the face. Her head was swimming with the knowledge that she should be dead. The fact that she was not could already be doing damage to Dave’s home.

“Madeleine?”

She did not reply. With each passing moment, Madeleine seemed weaker on her feet, stumbling around trying to regain her balance. Beginning to hyperventilate, she became dizzy and soon fainted, tumbling over the balcony railing as she fell.

“Madeleine!!!”

Relying only on instinct, Dave reached out with his mind, remembering his training with the levitation spell. Focusing on nothing but Madeleine, he managed to stop her momentum just as she was about to bash her head against the castle wall. He then lifted her body up with care, placing her on his balcony. As she was still drifting in and out of consciousness, he scooped her up into his arms and laid her on his bed. Sitting in a nearby chair, he kicked off his shoes and watched her sleep.  Dave soon began to curse himself and argue within his mind.

Dave, this has gone too far. You’ve saved her not once, but twice! And she’s not even supposed to be alive!

What was I supposed to do? Let her die?! That wouldn’t be right.

This isn’t about right and wrong, you idiot. You didn’t save her because it was right; you saved her because you like her.

No! I mean… that can’t be it, can it? She’s wonderful, but I’d have done it regardless… wouldn’t I?

“NO!”

Madeleine awoke with a shriek, sitting up in bed and panting heavily.

“Madeleine! Madeleine, you’re safe. You are safe,” Dave said, rushing to her side.

“What? David? Oh, I had the most terrible dream. You were telling me the most peculiar story of traveling here from the future and… and…”

“Did you dream you fell off the balcony?”

“Y-yes, but… how did you know?”

Dave sighed, taking a seat on the bed. “It was no dream, Madeleine. You fell.”

“You mean to say… all that was real?  But how am I alive?”

“Because… all day today, Merlin was teaching me to use magic,” Dave admitted.

“Magic? You are a…”

“A sorcerer. Watch.”

Glancing over to a nearby table, Dave levitated a pitcher of water fill the cup next to it, floating the cup into his hand once it was full.

“Here, drink.”

“Thank you,” she replied after taking a large gulp. Madeleine stared at the cup for a few moments longer. “This is the magic you used to save me?”

“It is. I have learned other types, but this is the only one Merlin has granted me permission to use outside his lessons for the time being.”

“I see…”

“I understand your unease, Madeleine. I have given you much to comprehend in a short amount of time.”

Madeleine stared at Dave with distrust for a few moments, before asking, “If you are indeed from the future, is this magic the reason you are here?”

“No, or rather, not that I know of. I have not a clue as to who has brought me to your time, nor for what purpose,” Dave replied. “But Merlin believes he can teach me enough magic for me to eventually travel back to my own time.”

“Ah.” Madeleine looked down, continuing, “I suppose when that time comes… you will kill me?”

“Of course not! Why would you ask that?”

“You said it yourself, David: I am not supposed to be alive. Twice now you have saved me, even knowing the truth for yourself. Why? Had I fallen to my death, the history you spoke of would have been restored, yes?”

“It is not quite so simple,” Dave said. “Yes, history is beginning to deviate from what I know, but in what ways none can be certain as of yet. Even if one is willing to murder an innocent girl for the sake of history, which I am not, one must first have a clear understanding of the consequences of such a decision.”

“Oh,” Madeleine said, gazing at Dave’s handsome face. “Forgive me, I had forgotten for a moment how intelligent and clever you are, David.”

“That is kind of you to say.”

For the first time, Madeleine managed a smile. “May I at least be allowed to give my hero his proper reward this time?”

Dave’s mouth began to dry out. He couldn’t form a single word in reply. Madeleine, taking his silence as an affirmative, leaned forward on her knees and pressed her lips to his. Dave’s mind began to swim at the introduction of her soft, supple lips; he was once again torn between logic and passion. But this time, his logical side was losing the battle, and badly. As he still found himself unable to move, Madeleine finally pulled back, smiling at the look on his face.

“Thank… you…” Dave managed.

“You are quite welcome, David. But I am the one who must thank you. You have saved my life, twice no less!” She scooted closer to him, taking his hands in hers. “You are my hero, David. I know not what will become of me, for with the events of the last few days, it seems that I may be destined for death. Perhaps there is no escape for me. But if that is to be my fate, all I would wish is to spend what time I may have left… with you.”

Madeleine reached behind to the back of her neck, untying the strings holding her dress up. Slipping out of bed, she pulled the airy garment up and over her head, leaving her in nothing but her white dressing gown. Dave remained silent; he still couldn’t believe this was happening. Soon, she had slipped the dressing gown over her head as well, leaving her naked as the day she was born. Madeleine’s form was nothing short of sublime. Her skin was milky white, complemented by her long, red hair. Her breasts were firm and round, perhaps a C-cup my modern standards, and were topped by a pair of tiny, pink nipples, already hard from arousal. As Dave’s eyes traveled down her body, he finally came upon her womanhood, obscured by a tuft of red hair.

“Am… am I pleasing to you, David?”

Her question snapped him back to reality, and he realized all of a sudden that she was just as nervous as he was.

“You… are the most stunning girl I have ever known,” Dave replied at last.

“I am glad,” she replied with a smile. Tugging at his shirt a bit, she asked, “Are you going to join me in my nakedness?”

“S-sure.”

Dave swallowed hard, allowing her to help lift his shirt up and over his head, exposing his chest. Though he did not have a chiseled six-pack, his arms and shoulders were well toned from his archery training. Madeleine took immediate notice of this, running her soft hands up his arms and feeling their strength; they were the arms that had saved her life, as well as her virginity. As she tilted his face up to kiss him once more, Madeleine knew this was the man destined to make her a woman. Soon their tongues met, beginning to dance and increasing their mutual passion. Madeleine moved her hands down his strong chest, but stopped at feeling the buckle of Dave’s belt.

“Oh?” she said in confusion.

“Yeah, that can be a bit tricky. Allow me,” he said.

Unbuckling the belt, Dave slid his khaki shorts and boxer briefs down at the same time, allowing his stiff six-inch rod to spring free. Madeleine smiled at this, pushing him back onto the bed so she could inspect it further. She first held it as if a delicate jewel, turning it every which way in her delicate hand. She was a bit surprised by the spongy texture, but could still feel how hard he had become. Though she was a complete virgin, she knew enough from the wives of her father’s friends to realize how aroused Dave was.

“Does this feel pleasant?” she asked.

“Incredible…” Dave moaned.

With a slight giggle, Madeleine climbed up into bed with him, pulling the sheets up to cover their naked bodies. As she pressed her lips to his in another passionate kiss, Dave’s mind continued to swim. He knew the danger in his actions, but he was incapable of resisting this woman’s affections all the same. Rolling his body to lie on top of hers, Dave could feel his throbbing cock pressing against Madeleine’s pelvis. Her legs parted to allow him access, and the moment he had waited so long for had arrived at last.

“David… my hero…” Madeleine whispered.

“Madeleine, I want you to promise me one thing.”

“Anything.”

“I do not want to do this only because you see me as your hero. I would have done the same thing again and again, without any reward offered. I am happy to make love to you, but you owe me nothing, Madeleine. Promise me that what happens tonight comes without condition from either of us.”

Madeleine’s heart melted at this. Twice now he had saved her life, yet only wished to have her body if she gave it freely to him. He did not see her as a prize or a trophy, but as a woman, nothing more, nothing less. Choking back a tear, she cupped his face in her hands and kissed him once more.

“I promise you, David, there is nothing I desire more than you. You are just the sort of man my father had always hoped I would marry.  I wish nothing more than for you to make love to me, David.”

In that moment, any slight hope Dave’s logical side had of winning him over disappeared. Everything about this incredible woman mesmerized him; her beauty, her kindness, it all drew him in. His cock throbbed painfully from arousal, begging to be given release, and Madeleine was all too happy to oblige. She took a firm grasp of his hips and guided him forward, pressing him against her slick entrance until he entered her, melting both of their virginities away for good.

“Ah!” she gasped.

“Are you hurt?” Dave asked, freezing his movements.

“I… I am well. It hurt for a moment, but no more. Oh David, this feels so wonderful…”

As her whimpers turned to moans of passion, Dave resumed his entry into her virgin pussy, beginning to stretch her as he did so. Madeleine was incredibly tight, more so than he had ever imagined in his wildest fantasies. He kept his pace moderate, not only to keep from hurting her but also to try and help himself last a bit longer, not that she had anything to compare his performance to. All the while, the velvety walls of her womanhood continued to milk him, urging him on to an inevitable conclusion.

After the first minute or so, Madeleine finally had the presence of mind to open her eyes, gazing upon Dave. She brushed her fingers across his cheek, and he took the hint, locking his eyes upon hers. They said nothing as they joined, savoring the sensations of each other’s touch. Soon, Dave’s breathing became more labored, and both knew the moment was close at hand. Kissing him once more, Madeleine smiled and ran her fingers through his hair.

“I am yours, David. Do not restrain yourself,” she whispered into his ear.

This was more than poor Dave could bear. Her words cut right to his soul, egging him on and pushing him past the point of no return. His face twisted, and his cock began to fill with hot semen; nothing could have held him back. Any chance he had of pulling out was lost when Madeleine whispered her sultry words. He knew the truth. He knew how he felt about this incredible girl. Throwing all caution out the window, Dave plowed his last into Madeleine, unleashing his seed into her womb with a cry of sheer ecstasy and bliss. His muscles twitched for what seemed like ages, until he at last came down from his high, tilting his head down to kiss Madeleine once more.

“I… I love you, Madeleine,” he whispered.

A tear streamed down her cheek as she managed, “I love you too, David.”

*****

Madeleine lay awake in bed, her head on the strong chest of her lover. Dave had passed out almost the moment they had finished making love, but her restless mind would not quiet. She pondered everything that had happened in the last two days. Losing her family, being sequestered in this tower, learning of Dave’s true origins, it was all too much. Dave’s admission was what had almost sent her reeling before. He had saved her again, knowing he was not supposed to save her. She was supposed to be dead.

As her mind raced, a feeling of dread began to wash over Madeleine. What could become of their joining? What if she now carried his child? Though she would love nothing more than to bear his children, she also knew the danger it presented, giving birth when she was not even supposed to be alive. What harm could she be doing to history, and to Dave’s home? What if… what if her child grew up so marry someone that would have otherwise been Dave’s ancestor? What if her existence ended up preventing him from ever being born?

Even if her actions posed no direct threat to Dave, what of his inevitable return home? Merlin was wise; surely he would be able to help Dave find a way back to his own time, but what then? Dave must have a life, a family, and loved ones. He had his entire life ahead of him. How could she ever be so selfish as to ruin that with the memory of a girl from the past and the child they had created together? No, that would be a most terrible thing for her to do.

Gazing at Dave as he slept peacefully, she kissed his cheek. At least, she reasoned, she had been able to give him this one pleasant evening. With a heavy sigh, Madeleine slid out of bed without a sound and slipped her dressing gown on, making her way to the balcony door. The night air was warm against her skin, helping her to remain calm in her decision. In spite of the end result of this, she felt at peace. She knew this to be right. She had no other choice. Grasping the balcony railing, she said a short prayer, asking for forgiveness for her actions, and prepared to vault over.

“Madeleine?”

She froze, hearing her lover’s voice behind her.

“What are you doing?” Dave asked, taking a gentle grip on her arm.

“David… you must understand-”

“Understand? Understand what? That you are about to kill yourself?!”

“It must be done,” she pleaded, turning back toward him with tears in her eyes. “Please, you have already saved me two times. I must ask you not to save me a third.”

“Why? What is causing you to do this?” Dave begged, now fearful of losing her forever.

“I am not supposed to be here!” she screamed. “I should have died, but for you! What if I am now pregnant, David? What harm would befall your time if I, a woman destined for death, give birth to a child not meant to be?”

“I do not know if you are pregnant, but if you are, I have just as much a say in this as you do,” Dave countered. “But that is besides the point. I have already said that I will not kill an innocent for the sake of history, Madeleine.”

“Which is why I must do this myself,” she choked through her tears. “Do you not see? In my death, all can be made right again!”

“There is another way, Madeleine. There is always another way.”

“But there is not…”

Dave racked his brain, trying desperately to come up with a solution. He knew how he felt about her; he loved her. He refused to allow her to snuff out her life, regardless of what history said. She deserves better than this. Realizing he had no other option, he told Madeleine the one thing he had thought of that could save her life and history all at once.

“But there is.”

“What do you mean, David?”

Taking a deep breath, he continued, “There is a better way, Madeleine. I will find a way home; of this I am certain. And when that time comes… I wish for you to come with me.”

Madeleine stood in silence, dumbfounded at his suggestion.

“Come with you? You mean… to the future?”

“Yes. Madeleine, no matter how much danger history may be in now, my future has yet to be written. It is the perfect solution!”

“David… I could never do that to you. You have a home, a family, and I would be upending it all by my mere presence.”

“Any woman I would fall in love with would be upending that by her mere presence,” he countered with a grin. “I love you, Madeleine. Those are not just words to me. They have meaning. They mean that I do not wish to imagine life without you… that I want nothing more than to wake up every morning with you in my arms. I have never believed in love at first sight, but every time I look at you, even knowing the truth of your life, I cannot suppress my desire to save you from that fate. If that is not love, what is?”

As she heard his profession, Madeleine finally found the courage to step away from the balcony railing, holding Dave in a tight embrace. “His Highness… he will be furious when he learns of this,” she whispered.

“Then we had best not allow him to know,” Dave grinned.

Madeleine giggled for the first time in hours. Dangerous though she knew this to be, she trusted Dave with her life. “Very well. When return to your own time you do, I shall go with you.”

Holding her tight, he planted another passionate kiss upon her lips. “Thank you. I love you, Madeleine.”

“And I you, David.”

A sly smirk spread across his face. “Do you remember what I told you in our first conversation? That my close friends call me Dave?”

“Of course.”

“Well, we are lovers now. I think that qualifies you as a close friend.”

Madeleine grinned at this prospect. “Very well. For your ears only, I shall call you Dave. Though in my heart, you will always be my heroic David.”

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