The Curse of King Arthur
Chapter 1: Visions
"No, please don't leave me, Elaine." I plead in a soft whisper, daring not to raise my voice any higher, fearing it might break the spell over us and death takes her away faster from me. "The Healer can fix this...scratch and you'll be good as new, running off and protecting the kingdom like always." I manage to will a small smile to my face to reassure her but I know, deep down, that not even the Healer can fix such a grievous wound. I can already feel the blood seeping through the flimsy cover I have over it.
And...I can tell that she too knows that this is the end. Even though I cannot see her eyes, I can see it in that smile of hers. The same smile that I myself was giving her just mere moments ago.
"I do not think that even the Healer can fix this one, besides, I rather the last thing I hear is your voice and not that old hag lecturing me on being stupid enough to get injured, again," She jokes in a strained voice, her smile getting bigger, most likely from imagining the Healer's disapproval face. Her smile finally breaks me and I can feel the tears running down my face as I cradle her closer, knowing this will be the last time I see her smile, to hear her laughter.
"Why did you jump in front of that sword for me?" I ask, hearing my voice break because of heartbreak and guilt. Her smile, just grows softer as she raises a blood-stained hand and caresses my face.
"Because I am your knight and it is my duty to protect you, no matter what the cost, even if the cost is my life. And more importantly, I love you, I cannot stand by idle as the man I love be killed." I can feel her caresses stop as she places a firm hand on my cheek. Even though I cannot see them, I know her eyes are giving me their famous glare. "You are not destined to die here, not like this. Not at hands driven by the act of vengeance." Her face softens again but the firmness of her hands stays as she speaks again. "You are meant to die as an old man, in his bed surround by his family and friends, as the king you are." A cough begins to seize her and I pull her closer to try to calm it. I start to open my mouth to speak but she places a finger on my lips to silence them.
"You have to live...my king, as you are the only one...strong enough to stop them...from taking over the kingdom." Her voice wavers from the coughing but somehow stays strong, even as she starts coughing blood. "You have to stay strong...for the kingdom and her people."
"I cannot, not without you by my side," I softly say, as I cradle her closer to me. Her smile just grows soft at my words as she uses the last of strength to pull herself closer to me.
"You managed just fine without me before and you will be able to manage without me after I am gone." I can feel her grip starting to loosen as the life from her is starts to fade. I grab her hand tightly and keep it on my cheek, willing her to stay with me. "You can...survive...this, I know...you can. You are strong...inside...and out," Her smile grows bigger as she whisper out her final words. "That is one of the reasons I fell in love with you..." Her hand goes limp in mine as I see the last embers of life leave her face.
"No...NO!" I cry out as I cradle her now lifeless body against mine.
"You brought this upon yourself," An evil but strangely, sweet voice says from the shadows. I force myself to turn away from the body of the woman I loved and face the direction of the voice. Through tear-strained eyes, I can make out a woman in a flowing blood-stained dress. The shadows obscure her face but somehow, I know who it is and I can feel the rage for this woman, turning my vision red.
A light shines from the window, illuminating enough of her face where I can see a smirk gracing her face, as if she's taking pleasure from my lost. A sea of red fill my vision as I reach blindly for something to wipe that smirk off her face.
"It is hopeless, you cannot stop me. This kingdom and your reign as king will be just like your precious knight, over." Each word she speaks, become more and more menacing, as a shadow starts rising from her. "You cannot stop me...you will never be able to stop me Arthur...Arstun...Austin...
"AUSTIN!" Mr. McKinney voice suddenly rings into my ears. I open my eyes in a haze and I see a pair of angry-looking eyes, glaring at me.
I blink a couple of times, to try and figure out where I am until realization hits me and I shoot up from my seat in shock. Looking around, my eyes are met with white walls with educational posters plastered on them; not the stone, cold room I was in seconds ago. I look down at my arms and blood no longer coats them and the girl I was holding in them, no longer there.
"Well, I'm guessing since Mr. Cavalier is standing now, he knows the answer." Mr. McKinney says in sarcastic tone as he stand back to his full height. "I mean, since he eagerly stood up so fast when I called his name, he must know the answer, am I right class?" He asks as he gestures to the class, his sarcastic tone becoming more obnoxious. Besides my classmates stifled giggles, the room is dead quiet as all eyes turn towards me. I can only look at Mr. McKinney in shock, still trying to wrap my mind on what happened but I finally regain face.
"Sorry sir, but I didn't even hear the question," I finally answer. I could see the look of disapproval already forming on McKinney face as soon as the words leave my mouth.
An annoyed sigh escapes from his lips as he shakes his head in a dramatic fashion before facing me again. "Mr. Cavalier, like I have reminded you time and time again, this is a math class, not your bedroom. If you want to sleep, do it at home but don't you worry, you'll be able to catch up on all the work you slept through, in detention." I could just hear the smugness radiating from his voice, even though he gives a good poker face.
Yay, we're back to the usual lecture. I sarcastically think. I start to open my mouth to tell him where he can shove his detention, but I don't think that would help my little situation. So I decide to take the high road and just give a reluctant nod as the bell rings.
"Don't be late, Mr. Cavalier, and please, make sure you're fully awake when you come," McKinney says as I try to slip out, under the cover of my classmates.
"Yes, sir," I answer through clench teeth. Don't do it, Austin! It's not worth it!I mentally scold, willing myself not to say anything stupid and get an even longer detention. "Just focus on something else," I whisper as I leave the room.
Unfortunately, my focus turns back to the dream I had, moments go. At the same time, I feel a hand claps on my shoulder. A vision of someone malicious, doing the same thing, pops in my head, causing me to swing around, raising my fist to strike.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, I come in peace, don't hit me!" The person yells as he raises his arms in protection. It only takes me a second to realize that it's only Blaine, one of my closest friends.
"Sorry about that, Blaine; I thought you were someone else," I guiltily apologize. I can't believe I almost hit B.B because of a stupid dream. I think as I lower my arm.
I can see Blaine's hazel eyes peeping through his arms to make sure it's safe, before he lowers them. I can't say I blame him, I would be the same if someone tried to punch me.
"It's cool, Aus," Blaine starts with a smile. That's one of the great things about Blaine, he's the type who doesn't hold a grudge. "I just feel sorry for the guy that fist was meant for."
"Yeah, I do too but it's just a reflex. I think I'm still jumpy from the dream I had," I say with a shrug. I don't know why, but it feels like I'm lying, like I meant to punch someone but that's impossible. I don't have any real problems with anyone... Not unless you count the chick in my dream, but that's crazy. This is pathetic, I'm actually mad about what a woman in a dream did.
"You know, there is a way you could avoid the jumpiness all together," Blaine says, bringing me back from my internal war.
"How?" I ask eagerly, hope mixing into my voice.
"By not falling asleep in class!" He exclaims with a light punch to the arm. I roll my eyes at his 'advice' with a smile, before I start heading to my next class, Blaine right at my heels. "But in all seriousness man, you've been falling asleep in class more than usual and every time someone wakes you up, you look like you've seen hell. What's going on with you?" The worry is crystal clear in his voice and I want to tell him, but I know if I do, it will turn into a question of my sanity.
"It's nothing, I just been catching up on my beauty sleep at home, like McKinney told me to and it caused me to fall behind some on my homework, thus, I've been playing catch up on that, causing me to miss out on sleep. So, I end up tired in class. It a never-ending cycle," I explain with a shrug. It's not a complete lie... I have fallen behind in my homework...
"And what about the freak outs?" Blaine asks and judging from his tone, he doesn't believe me.
"You know that old rule, that you shouldn't eat late at night, otherwise, it will give you nightmares?" Blaine hesitates for a second, before giving a nod yes. "Well, apparently it's true. It's been a never-ending parade of clowns, bunnies, and leprechauns," I lie with a fake shudder. "And the psychs don't tell you this, but those food-induced nightmares, can affect your daydreams too."
Judging by the look on Blaine's face, I lost the battle on questioning my sanity, but at least I've led him away from the actual problem.
He stays quiet for a few moments, before letting out a sigh and shakes his head. "I swear, Austin, Freud would have a field day with you." Even though he's doubting my sanity at the moment, I can tell by his tone, that he believes me...for now at least.
"Trust me, you have no idea," I admit. I doubt even Freud, could tell me what's wrong in my head. The warning bell rings, causing us to quicken our pace.
"Austin?" Blaine calls out, causing me to stop in my tracks. I look and spot Blaine in the doorway of his class.
"What's up?" I ask, uneasy by the tone of his voice.
I can tell he wants to ask me something, but it's clear he's hesitating. He takes a breath before speaking. "Austin, just so you know, if you ever want to talk about anything. The leprechauns or...anything else, I'm here for you. And if not me, then someone else." At that moment, I can tell that he knows it's something else going on, but he's not going to push it.
I give him a nod ok and I know he wants a better answer, but he knows he's not going to get it, so he just gives me a wave and heads into his class. I wait a beat, before heading to my own class. I know Blaine wants to help, but this dream...this is something he can't help me with.
I take a quick glance at my watch and check the time. Even though, I just want to get rid of this damn dream; Blaine is right about one thing, I do need to talk to someone about it. Luckily, there's only one person who I want to talk to...I just have survive the rest of my classes before I can see her.
Come on bell, ring! I mentally exclaim as I look down at my watch for the millionth time and will the hands to move to 3:30 and the end of the day. Somehow, I managed to stay awake in my last two class, which is a freaking miracle.
I turn my attention away from my watch with a sigh and face towards the window, to think about exactly what I'm going to do when I get out of here...and I need to try to stop the impatient tapping of my foot. I only have a few minutes to catch her before she gets to the gym. Hopefully, Coach Rockwell doesn't start practice on time...
A faint ringing buzzes in my ear, bringing me back to reality. It takes me a second to realize that it's the bell. I quickly, but slowly gather my books, last thing I need is another prison sentence...
"Dang it," I curse softly. I can't head straight to the gym, I still have to show up for McKinney's freaking detention. I had to fall asleep in McKinney's class, of all the classes, it had to be his! I mentally yell. Lady Luck is not on my side today.
I facepalm in frustration, before I sprinting towards McKinney class. Hopefully, he'll be lenient for once, or maybe a miracle will happen and McKinney will cancel the class...or maybe get hit by meteor.
"I really need to be careful for what I wish for," I guiltily admit when I get to McKinney's classroom and find the room dark and a sign that says he canceled because of an emergency. I look down at my watch and I can't help but smile a little at the time. Looks like I have enough time to make it before practice starts. Well...can't look a gift horse in the mouth.
After a couple of minutes of running through the emptying hallways, I finally make it to the gym. I slowly walk in and head straight to the pool, other kids passing me by heading out of the gym or to their respected sports. After a few seconds I finally make it to the entryway of the pool.
A flash of blue and white greets me as I cross through the threshold. In front of me, is a large and to my luck, empty pool. I look over to the side of the pool and spot Coach Rockwell speaking to another teacher and from her casual stance, she's not starting practice any time soon.
I gaze at the small group of swimmers hanging out in the bleachers, trying and failing to see who I'm looking for. Please tell me she's not in the girls locker room. I groan in my head. I start to head over and ask one of the girls to see if they can get her, but a splash at the far end of the pool, catches my attention.
Squinting some, I can just make out a person swimming a lap and I start to dismiss it, until I spot a familiar black and red swim cap and I immediately recognize who it is.
A reflex smile start to appear on my face as I start walking towards the swimmer. Of course she's the first one in the pool, why am I not surprised?I mentally ask myself, before I finally reach the lane. I lean down when she gets closer.
"Hiya Katie, shouldn't you wait till practice starts, before you swim?" I ask when she's close enough.
Katie dives underwater, before reappearing at the edge of the lane. Looking down, my eyes are met with water-soaked goggles, but soon replaced with bright silver eyes and a sly smile, as Katie props herself up.
"Hiya Austin, for your information, Coach said I get a lap in before practice, but the important question is, why aren't you at detention right now?" Katie asks, crossing her arms, her sign that I'm in trouble. Even though I can't see it, I can feel my smile drop into a frown. I have no idea why I'm surprised she found out, she's psychic about everything else.
"B.B and his big mouth," I grumble as I sit down at the edge of the pool. I meant for my grumbling to be to myself, but judging from Katie's eyes, she heard me.
"Don't blame Blaine, about me finding out about the detention," Katie scolds as she lifts herself out and sits next to me, taking her cap off and lets a jet-black braid fall down to her shoulders, creating a nice contrast to her olive skin. "He didn't tell me about the detention, just that you fell asleep in class."
"So how in the world did you-"
"You fell asleep in McKinney's class, that doesn't take a genius to put two and two, together," Katie quickly answers, cutting me off. "He'll give you one, if even your sneeze interrupts him. You just guaranteed it, by sleeping." She finishes with a shrug. She has a point, everyone who has had him, been in trouble with him.
"I swear, he's going to cause all of us to mutiny on him," I grumble out, before getting back on track. "So, why do you have your 'I'm in trouble' look? Is it because I fell asleep in class...again?"
"Please, I'm done, there's no point, trying to get through that big head of yours," She scoffs with a smile.
I can't help, but laugh. Its been a never-ending battle between us and the only reason why I haven't gotten more lectures, is because we have no classes together, this semester.
"But, that still doesn't explain why I'm in trouble."
I look over at her in surprise and confusion when she says that. "But, if I'm not in trouble, why the look?" A sigh escapes her lips before she fully faces me.
"Although Blaine didn't tell me about the detention part, he did tell me, that you've been waking up in class, like you just came back from hell," Katie answers, concern lacing her voice.
"Yeah...that's actually why I wanted to talk to you," I start slowly as I run my fingers through my blond hair. Katie waits patiently for me to start talking, watching me like a hawk. "I've been having those dreams again."
It takes her a few seconds to remember, but I can see the realization flash in her eyes and it soon turns to worry.
"I thought those dreams stopped!" She exclaims in a low voice.
I nod yes, before speaking again. "They did! A long time ago!" I running my hand through my hair again, spiking it up even more. "It's been eight years since the last time, but ever since last week, they've come back and...they're worse then ever."
"You've been having these dreams for over a week now?" I can hear the anger in her voice, but she doesn't voice it out loud. Instead she ask, "How are they worse than before?"
I sigh in frustration before speaking. "Well at first, they started off like they used to do, with me just watching. That's why I didn't tell you, because they were the same as before," I quickly add the last part. I know it's no excuse, but I didn't want her to worry about me. "But, for some reason, these past couple of days... I've stop watching and...became part of the dream."
"So, you're saying that you are actually living the dreams?" Katie asks, unsure.
"I'm saying that I can actually feel everything that's happening. I feel the blood of the dying girl in my arms, I can feel the rage for the woman who killed her. I feel absolutely everything," I groan out as I rest my head in my hands. I feel Katie's hands massaging my shoulders in comfort.
"I wish you came to me sooner, maybe I could have stopped it from getting this bad." Katie expresses as she gives my shoulder another squeeze.
"I know, Kate. I should have told you as soon as it started..." And it's true, I should have come to her in the first place, since she is the one who manage to keep them at bay before. "...but, I didn't want to worry you. I really thought I could handle this on my own." I finish, while turning my head towards her.
"I know you didn't, but I'm your best friend. You're suppose to come to me with stuff like this." I just nod, before facing the pool again.
"I hear you," I say with a sigh. "I just forget sometimes, that there is someone who understands what I'm going through. Since most people would think I'm crazy."
"Well, good thing I already know you're crazy." Despite my distress, I can feel a small smile form on my face, until I feel a slight pinch from Katie to gain my attention again. "And don't you forget, that I understand better than anyone." She leans down, so she's close to my ear. "It's the reason that I didn't have my own bed for three months!" She whispers harshly. I can't help, but chuckle. Back when we were kids, during the time when my grandmother was still her foster-mother. When the dreams first started, they freaked me out so much, that I had to sleep in her bed to keep them away.
I start to open my mouth to say something, but I see her eyes move towards the end of the pool. I follow her line of sight and see that the coach is getting everyone together for practice. "Looks like that's my cue," I reluctantly say, not wanting to leave.
"You know, I could just skip practice, tell Coach you're not feeling well, if you want to keep talking," Katie suggests. Now I know she's worried, if she's willing to skip practice in her favorite sport and skip something for school, period. Unlike me, who has no desire for school, Katie loves school. She actually likes coming here and learning. That's how I know how worried she is.
I'm tempted to say yes, but I know she has a big swim meet coming up and I don't want my problems to mess with her life. So, after a few moments, I finally shake my head no.
"Thanks Kate, but I'll be alright," Surprisingly, I actually mean it. My original goal has been accomplish. I was able to talk to her and get this damn dream off my chest.
I can still see the worry in her eyes, so I decide to do what I do best, be a smartass. "But, I have to say, I'm flattered that Katherine Nero cares so much about little old me." I say with the smuggest smirk I can make.
She looks at me for a few moments, before she scoffs and a superior smile graces her lips. "Don't flatter yourself, I just offered, so you wouldn't call me crying in the middle of the night, asking if you can sleep in my bed, so I can chase the nightmares away."
"Well...it doesn't have to be your bed. Mine is big enough," I innocently say, which earns my a nice punch to my shoulder.
"I don't think that will fly anymore, cowboy," She says with a laugh. I just give a simply shrug. It's for the best, anyway, I would be even more wired, if she was there.
She places a gentle hand on my cheek, creating a nice warm spot there. "Are you sure you'll be ok? You could always hang out here and wait until practice is over, then we can ride home together."
"As tempting as that is, I'm going to have to decline. I barely can stand being in this place during mandatory hours. I flat-out refuse to stay an extra three hours, in this prison." I reluctantly pull her hand off my cheek, but keep in my hands. "But, thanks again for the offer...and the talk, I needed it."
"That's what I'm here for, last time I check. I just hope, that you don't wait so long to tell me you a problem like this, next time," Katie gently says, with a soft smile.
"I promise," I agree as I raise my hand in promise. "Now, get going, I don't need Coach Rockwell to come by and start yelling at us. I can only handle one educational figure yelling at me," I joke as I let go of her hand and stand back up.
"You just can't stay out of trouble, can't you?" Katie asks with a laugh, as she places her swim cap back on.
"Nope, just not in my nature," I answer with a smile. "See you later, Kate." I give her wave, before heading towards the door.
"Hey Austin!" Katie calls me when I'm about a foot away from her, causing me turn back in her direction.
"Yeah?" I ask, curious about why she's calling me back.
"If those dreams do start plaguing you again, I hope you remember-"
"It's just a dream. Don't let it control you." I finish, saying the motto she told me, years ago. Even at eight, she was pretty smart. "Don't worry, I remember. It's all up here." I tap my head lightly with a smile. "Now, get going, before you're late for practice."
"You better remember," She threatens with a smile, before slipping her goggles back on. "And, a little warning, Austin. You wait to tell me something like this again, I promise you, a never-ending parade of clowns, bunnies, and leprechauns, will be the least of your worries."
Despite my lingering feelings of the dreams and everything that happened, I can't help, but laugh at Katie's threat.
"Noted," I agree with a smile as I leave out.
I pull the collar of my coat up some, to cover my face from cold wind. Even though its early March, it's clear that winter is still in the air, evident by the cold.
I continue to walk home slowly, not even wanting to listen to any music, like I usually do. I just keep repeating Katie's words in my mind and try to keep the dream off my mind. Luckily, my talk with her, seems to calm enough, where I can actually think again. I keep walking for a while, before something stops me.
I turn around in shock as I hear my name called, looking around to see who could have said it. What the hell is that? I continue to look around and spot no one. It was like the voice came from the wind, itself.
"I really am going crazy," I whisper as I do one more sweep of the area to make sure, before I start walking again. But, as soon as I get a few feet away. I'm stop in my tracks, again.
"Austin..." The voice whispers softly, clearer.
"Alright, who's there?!" I yell out. Anger lacing my voice. I hate being messed with, especially when I'm already freaked out.
I look around again and still spot no one. Alright, that's it, it's time to book it, now. I think before I turn back around and start running in the direction of my block.
"Austin...Austin...Austin..." It keeps repeating, over and over, playing in my head now.
"Shut up, shut up, shut up!" I yell each time I hear my name, as I start to pick up speed.
If it didn't get even stranger, another voice, much sinister-sounding then the first started speaking too. "Austin...Austin...Austin...Austin!" The voices start yelling in my head, almost blurring together at some points. I just cover my ears with my hands as I keep running.
"SHUT UP!" I scream out with a deafening yell, before my world starts spinning before my very eyes. While running from the voices, I fail to noticed where I was running and wind up nosediving and start rolling, until I stop right at the edge of the lake. Luckily, it seems like that fall was exactly what I needed, because the voices stop right away.
"Never thought I would be so happy to hear the sound of my own voice." I whisper quietly as I start army-crawling to the lake.
Amber gold eyes greet me as I look over the edge. I look down at my reflection and look it over, checking to see if I damaged anything. I breathe a sigh of relief when I don't spot anything, beside some dirt here and there. Lucky me. That would have been hard to explain to Gran, if I came home with a giant bruise and I doubt, running from disembody voices would cut it.
I gaze at my reflection for a few more seconds, before I notice ripples start to distort my image. Now what?! I mentally exclaim, as I lift my head up. And I get my answer, when I see water bubbling in the middle of the lake.
"What the hell is going on?!" I yell out. As soon as the words leaves my lips, the water stops and a watery silhouette starts rising from the water. What in the world is that? I ask internally as I watch the silhouette start forming into a woman's outline or...at least I think it's a woman.
"Austin, do not be afraid..." The water woman says in an eerily familiar voice, as she holds out a petite-looking hand towards me.
Is she seriously telling me, not to be afraid of a woman that came out the water?! It takes me a second, but it dawns on me where I heard her voice at... It's the same as the first voice.
Before I can speak or slap myself awake, the hairs on the back of my neck start rising, as I feel a cold, almost evil wind, blowing at my back. Stupidly, I turn my head in the direction of the wind and I can't believe what I see. You have got to be kidding me!
A shadow, not unlike the shadow that rose out the second woman in my dream, rises from the ground. Unlike the watery woman, I can't make out if the shadow is male, female, or both. The only thing I can make out, is one, bony hand, pointing directly at me.
"Austin..." It whisper my name in a sinister, drawn-out voice, shaking me to my core.
"That's it, I finally gone over the deep end," I whisper softly to myself, as a falling sensation takes over, causing me to hit the ground, hard. The last thing I see, is the water woman standing over me, releasing a ball of light above my head, before my world is engulf by darkness.