"The Magic of Love"
Young King Arthur
by John Pirillo
Being a King of Threads and a budding Knight under the tutelage of a sour-puss Sergeant, and a scoundrel of a King Uther Pendragon and Lady Morgana a sorceress, didn't do much for Arthur's hope for the future at times. As a matter of face at this particular moment he was entirely depressed by the opportunity as Merlin called it to learn about the Dark Ones, and become strong of hand as well. Wasn't his thread enough to strengthen his grip?
True, he did hold the sword much firmer than many of the other knights, and also true, his grip was stronger when he slammed the flat of his sword against the shield of a fellow knight. So much so that King Uther actually laughed when his opponent lost his footing and fell into the mud and slop of horses that had taken their evacuations there.
"Well done, Arthur, King of Threads." The King had told him, clapping his many ringed fingers that glistened with the wealth of many a common man's hard earnings and blood sweat and tears.
Arthur, though hating what the King and his lords and ladies did to the common man and woman that they were supposed to be guardians of, was humble enough and warned enough...by Merlin and his magic flower...to take heed and bite his lip. But not so literally, as he found himself grinding his teeth so hard, he actually caught the inside of his lip between them and caused a stream of blood to flow from the corner of his mouth.
Lady Morgana descended from beside the throne of her King and soon to be husband and had used her black hanky to dab it away, her eyes looking into his. "You have magic with the way your thread, and no less with a sword. Not one drop of blood should hamper the beauty of your movements, Arthur."
Arthur pretended to feel rewarded by the gesture and inclined his head. "You do me honor, My Lady."
"Yes." She whispered into his ear. "And don't forget that I can just as easily take it away."
He looked up and she was still smiling, but in her eyes he saw death beckoning. He wasn't going to give into that darkness though. He smiled back and dropped to a knee before her. "I shall honor the King and his Lady as long as there is breath in this poor, humble body."
King Uther rose to his feet and roared with applause. The court, arrayed about him, also applauded. So on that day Arthur met the approval of the royals, as well as their court and the knights who though weary and wary of Arthur, knew better than to harbor any enmity, for it would be at the risk of their very souls from Lady Morgana.
That evening Arthur returned to the Crystal Cave of Merlin and laid down on the cot he kept permanently there these days and moaned. "I feel like my whole body has been the playground for demons to trounce upon with giant horses feet."
Merlin, stirring a pot of stew he had made, looked over at Arthur. "Who is minding your business while you visit?"
"My Uncle. I have told the Lady that I will continue to weave for her, but I will no longer weave for anyone else."
"And she believed you?"
"I think so." Arthur said doubtfully.
Merlin just nodded, his eyes clouding over for a moment as he slipped inside his spiritual veil to look further into the matter. Satisfied with what he saw, or at least unwilling to make Arthur's life any more tired at that time, he merely said. "Good. It is done."
Arthur didn't hear him. He was fast asleep.
In his deep, weary dreams he kept hammering this beautiful sword over and over with a gigantic rose that caused the sword to sing so happily and beautifully that the very angels from heaven came down on clouds to sing with it. Arthur was in so much wonder of this, that he missed a stroke and struck the earth instead and then his side. He cried out in sudden pain.
He awoke on the hard floor of the cave, rubbing thigh bone which had struck first. He struggled to his feet, and then sat down on his cot to watch Merlin scoop soup into two stone bowls for the two of them.
"Only at the end."
"I dreamed I was building a fantastic and beautiful sword with a gigantic rose."
Merlin stopped spooning and looked at him. His eyes bright with amusement. "A rose you say?"
"A gigantic red one."
Merlin nodded, and then set the bowls of stew on their humble table, where both of them sat to eat in silence. Arthur had managed to purchase some fresh wheat bread near his home after he visited his Uncle and they shared that, savoring its crisp flavor and delightful crunch.
"So." Merlin stated.
"So." Arthur replied.
They broke into laughter. He and Arthur were so in tune with each other these days that one's thought seemed to flow easily into the other's heart and mind, though Arthur was smart enough to realize it was more likely Merlin read him like a book, than he Merlin.
"I saw Gwenivere in the forest on the way here."
Merlin stopped eating and looked at him. "What color was she wearing?"
Merlin looked away, a look of amusement on his lips.
"Love is a very powerful thing, Arthur. Never disown it, or its merit. It is far more powerful than any magic in this or any other world."
"I don't know." Arthur said. "Lady Morgana is pretty powerful."
"Dark magic has even less power over love than White."
"Why would White Magic want to interfere with love?"
Merlin considered it a long moment, rubbing the thick whiskers on his unshaven face. He gave Arthur a long stare, his eyes sparkling with amusement. "Why indeed?"
And that's the last he spoke of it.
The next morning Arthur set off again for the Dark Tower where he served as the Knight at the Door at Midweek. He relieved the prior Knight and gave him some of the stew and bread he had saved. "Good Morrow to you, Sir Stewart."
"And you Arthur, I pray your watch is safe and your heart as well."
Arthur grinned. "Not much chance of that is being harmed."
Sir Stewart clapped a hand on Arthur, almost knocking him down. It was that powerful. "Lad, when love strikes the heart, even God must step aside, it is so powerful."
"In that case I shall make even surer not to let it happen as I would not want to get in God's way then, would I?"
Sir Stewart laughed, and then trudged off; weary from his all night watch.
Arthur watched him exit the Dark Tower's high wall gate and cross its moat and vanish into the outer boundaries of the people's city that bordered the tower.
Arthur heard a mew sound and turned to spot a black cat spying upon him from a portico just above his head. An opening for knights to thrust lances to skewer combatants attempting to enter without permission. The cat's ears were perky and its eyes sharply intent on Arthur.
"Ah-ha, young feline, I have a gift for you as well."
He pulled out a bit of meat he had kept from the stew and laid it carefully before the snout of the cat, who pawed at it playfully for a time, pretending it was a pray about to get away, then it pounced upon the meat and began gobbling it down, tearing off chunks with its teeth, while holding down its pretend prey with its paws. It eyed Arthur the whole time.
"And what do you say about love, fear feline? Do you believe it to be so powerful?"
The cat answered by gulping the last of the meat, and then setting to licking its jaw and paws.
"As I thought. You feel as I do. Love is not so powerful that we can't set it aside for other purposes more needful."
At that precise moment a horse about a dozen yards away was spooked by a rat and broke free from its reins and stormed towards Arthur, who was unaware of it.
The cat looked up from its licking, and then screeched horribly.
Arthur looked up at it and saw it launch towards him. But the cat didn't strike his face as he thought it might, but instead landed on his right shoulder, then leaped into the air, claws sprayed out.
Arthur, at that very same moment, heard the horse charging. He turned around, but there was no time for him to move away from it. The cat landed on the horse's long face and clawed at its nose. The horse drew to a sudden halt and reared up on its hind feet.
Arthur rolled to the right and out of the way as the horse dropped its front hooves, narrowly trouncing him as he rolled to safety.
The cat leaped away and as Arthur watched the cat leaped to the top of a canopy and began licking at its paws again. The cat looked over at Arthur, who was still in shock, and mewed in what seemed like feline laughter, and then it leaped to the ground and ran away.
Arthur returned that night to the Crystal Cave of Merlin and told what had happened.
Merlin set Arthur down with warm bread and goat's milk, and then told the hungry lad, as he ate the meager food. "Your love for the cat inspired it. Its leap to the horse was a leap of love for your protection. Not all love is human, and not all humans can love as well."
Arthur finished his meal and lay down on his cot, listening to the flickering and snapping of the fire in the stone Merlin had made for their meal.
"Maybe love is powerful after all." Arthur finally admitted.
"It is the most powerful sword your arm will ever hold." Merlin told him.
And that night Arthur slept and dreamed of the sword once more and this time the cat was there with him, helping him to forge the most beautiful sword he had ever seen. Watching them were Merlin, Sir Stewart, his Uncle, Gwenivere and many other friends he had made through the years, and as he hammered the metal with the rose, it seemed to grow more and more powerful, more and more fantastic to the eye.