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4. (4 November)

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4.

Emrys threw the last of his props into the already overflowing interior of the battered old Ford Transit.

Forcing the van shut, leaning on the rusty doors until the dodgy lock clicked, Emrys lit up a joint and blew a plume of smoke into the face of the cartoon dragon painted on his van.

Oh how the mighty had fallen! He scowled at the cheerful dragon and the gaudy sign.

'Merlin the Magnificent - children's parties, magic tricks, and bouncy castle hire… '

'Not your fault, my old friend, times change, the world turns… but by the Gods, Y Ddraig Goch, how I miss the Old Ways!'

Emrys flicked the roach into the gutter, and wearily climbed into the van, cursing as he turned the key and heard the starter motor clicking - bloody stupid battery!

Looking around the community centre car park, Emrys held his right hand in a ball next to the ignition.

He whispered a few words that any passer-by would've failed to recognise as a language, and small blue sparks danced around his hand. His index finger touched the key and a tiny lightning bolt flashed from his fingertip into the Ford.

The old engine roared, and Emrys smiled, 'Still got it man, still got it!'

Forty-five minutes later, Emrys crouched over the small fire in his back garden, the flames making shadows dance on his shed wall.

A normal enough back garden. Shielded from neighbours by overgrown hedges, the small space unnaturally quiet in the middle of town.

Rather more unnatural was the blue flame that flickered in the rusted metal fire pit, no fuel was ever fed to this flame, but the fire burned constantly, sapphire bright. Eternal.

Around the firepit, thirteen small standing stones glowed in the dusk, little more than a rockery, but so very much more.

The stones looked like they'd been in the earth for centuries, their moss and lichen tinted by the blue light.

Emrys exhaled smoke, wisps touching the stones, a scene coalescing in the air.

A small room, sparsely furnished, a man hugging his knees to his chest. A faint glow, a female shape, but otherworldly, even in the smoky vision.

Emrys gasped as the Lady held out a sword to the trembling man.

A man Emrys hadn't seen for a very, very, long time. A little thinner, a little scruffier, certainly a little madder looking, but what did you expect?

The smoke cleared as the door to the room opened and a human female held out a small chalice to the Once and Future King.


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4. (4 November)

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