On the Horizon Part 2/2 (Sunday Scribbles: Light) #sunscribbles #shortstory

Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!

This is the final part of a two part series I started last week. It’s shorter, with a happier ending, and is potentially backstory for my WIP based on Arthurian legend. My POV character is Merlin, and he makes a new friend who changes his life.

In part one, Merlin left home after accidentally setting fire to the village storehouse and headed to Glastonbury Tor to camp out:

I huddled in the corner on the rough cobblestone floor, coat draped over me. As I wriggled damp toes in my soaked boots, the light faded and a far-off howl split the air. Smoke rose from cosy fires at the distant estate, crystal ponds and exquisite orchard hidden in the eerie twilight. The wolves would prey on the lord’s abundant livestock. No reason to roam here. But if they did… I took a shuddering breath and clutched my amulet to my chest, longing for the warmth and safety of the village, even if no one understood me since my mother- A fresh wave of grief drowned me, and the dam broke. Wretched sobs shook my shoulders and I curled in on myself. I longed for her protective embrace, but she wasn’t coming back.

Short Story On the Horizon Part 2

On the Horizon Part 2/2:

Daylight streamed through the archway to the east, a magnificent doorway to another world of emerald slopes and whistling winds. My coat slipped from my shoulders as I stretched, and my tongue darted out to wet cracked lips. Despite my aching legs I needed supplies, but the gentle slope down the west side would prove easier on my exhausted limbs than the incline I’d braved when I didn’t know any better. I threaded my arms through my coat and left the safety of my shelter, alert, despite the beautiful morning.

Squinting in the dazzling glare, observed only by the intricate stone lions guarding the tower, I hefted the sturdy bucket from the well. Thirst quenched, I flopped at the edge of the hill and breathed in the sweet, fresh grass. My trek to the orchard could wait. Sunlight caressed my skin, and my memories blurred together. Warm arms around me. A rush of emotion. Storytelling, shrill laughter, mother’s windswept hair. I’d forgotten the breath-taking views. The azure skies, rolling hills, and sparkling lakes a stunning backdrop to her patient teaching.

I rubbed the tips of my fingers together. Sparks ignited, and I flicked them onto my sheltered palm as I willed them into a miniature flame. A bittersweet smile spilled onto my lips. Control of fire. The first thing I’d learned when I’d inherited her gift. Despite my inability to focus, to keep my summoned flames from scorching my palms, she’d encouraged me fiercely and trained me to heal my blistered hands. Without her, my tattered nerves galloped wildly. If I’d saved her, she’d be beside me, warm and reassuring, instead of an aching loneliness not even my magic could soothe. I urged the flame to curl into a fiery ball. Perhaps loneliness suited me. I may be helpless, useless, and vulnerable, but, alone, at least I won’t hurt anyone.

Movement in my peripheral. I’d let my guard down. I couldn’t fight a wolf, and the lord would flog me if he caught me trespassing. My fireball whooshed as I tossed it away, a distraction, and I shot to my feet. Halfway to the cover of the tower, a stifled cry pierced the peaceful morning. I faced the sound. A young man with cropped golden hair stood doubled over on the crest of the hill, grasping his stomach. My fingers twisted in the rough fabric of my shirt as I took a hesitant step towards him. I’d hit him. Oh, Woden, what if he died!

Amber eyes pierced mine, agony poorly masked with suspicion. I closed the distance between us and dropped to my knees. Blistered crimson skin peeked through his fingers, oozing pus. Bile rose in my throat, and I swallowed around it. Deep breaths. I could heal him. Shouldn’t scar terribly. I centred myself, worrying my bottom lip between my teeth as I reached for the power of the earth. He recoiled as I channelled shining sparks into my hands. I offered a tentative smile. ‘It’s all right, I can fix this.’

I forced myself to meet his eyes, but they darted away with a wince as I peeled his charred shirt from his stomach and brushed my fingers over seared skin. Eyes tightly shut, I nudged my magic towards him and willed the flaming blisters to fade.

Calloused fingers entwined with mine and pried my hands away from flawless skin. ‘How did you do it?’

I swallowed, chest tight, and braced myself for the sting of rejection. ‘Um- Magic. I’m so sorry, I could’ve killed you.’

My breath stuttered in harsh pants, nails digging into my palms. His hand settled on my shoulder and he sank to the grass beside me. ‘I’m alive, deep breaths. You’re safe.’

Cool tears trickled down my cheeks, my breathing laboured, as a breeze blustered around us and rustled the trees in the distant orchard. A hawk swooped with a shrill screech. I gripped his arm, white knuckled, and buried my face in his musty shoulder. Russet strands of hair tickled my nose. I brushed them away as a rabbit leapt over one of the warrens littering the hill, too steep to farm but alive with nature. He was alive too, shirt ruined but a solid presence beside me. My shoulders slumped and I wiped my eyes.

He quirked an eyebrow. ‘All right?’

I fisted my hands in my lap. My gnawing stomach rumbled my answer. He barked a laugh and rummaged in his bag, loaf of bread crumbling as he broke it in two. My mouth watered as he held out half to me, and I grabbed it before he changed his mind. I faltered under his soft smile and focused on his dyed sky-blue jacket. Form fitting, unlike anything from the village. ‘Who are you?’

‘Arthur. I come here to practice, sometimes to get away from my father and the knights.’

An awkward pause. I scrambled for the words to fill it, thrumming with nerves. ‘You’re the lord’s son?’

He grinned brightly. ‘It’s all right, I won’t tell him.’

Brimming with gratitude the last of my tension faded, and I gestured to myself. ‘How are you so good at this?’

Plenty of scars from panicked aspiring knights. I’m used to it.’ He polished off the last of his bread and leaned back on his hands. ‘Sorry I startled you.’

Stormy clouds obscured the sun. ‘It wasn’t your fault. I can’t do anything right.’

You can do magic though.’ An enthusiastic smile. ‘Can you teach me?’

I avoided his eyes. ‘You have to be born with it; I think. Sorry.’

‘Don’t worry about it.’ He nudged my shoulder, eyes sparkling, and held out a hand. ‘Friends?’

His open expression, no hint of a glare, was as infectious as his captivating confidence. With a cautious smile, I took his hand. ‘Friends.’

He stretched, languid as a cat, and leapt to his feet, blade glinting as he freed it from its sheath. ‘Want to watch?’

‘Sure.’

Slouched on the grass, a content smile twitched at my lips as my loose-limbed friend executed a practised routine with his sword. My village, nestled in the distant trees, hadn’t felt like home since I lost my mother. I’d been going through the motions since that day, but meeting Arthur changed everything. Despite my panicked nerves, he accepted me. I’d found somewhere I might belong. My eyes slipped closed as the wind picked up, and a drop of rain splattered my lips. Life, like the rain, was fleeting. Whatever my future held I vowed to treasure every moment, to make them count, whilst they lasted.

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Thanks for Reading!

I’m not sure if this backstory will stick or not, as I had to write it a certain way for the assignment. The actual story will be in third person, which I prefer, and I’ll probably only use bits and pieces from this in my WIP to establish Merlin and Arthur’s first meeting.

Next week, my March updates post and April goals, in which I talk a little about Covid 19, share pics of Merlin, talk about reading goals, and join Camp Nanowrimo!

This week’s Sunday Scribbles Prompt is Light:
Sunday Scribbles 29th March Light
Hashtag game details: Sunday Scribbles Prompts
Past stories: Sunday Scribbles Short Stories

Share lines with #sunscribbles every week on Twitter, or write a short story based around the prompt and share a blog link.

6 comments

  1. This is wonderful! Vivid. Great prose. And beautiful story! I love their friendship and how they met. Also love how accepting Arthur is of Merlin. Nice writing from Merlin’s POV and great dialogue. Awesome pacing too :). Great work.

    Liked by 1 person

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