The story of Camelot is a famous one, with the heroes of King Arthur and his knights, with the villains of Mordred and Morgan le Fey. The world of Camelot has captured the imaginations of men since the time of its fall. Yet the story know by most is not the true story of how it happened.
Behind every empire, every kingdom, and every story, there are others. People who pull the strings, making everything fall into place, helping kings and heroes to rise. Such is the way it was in Camelot. This role is often attributed to Merlin, and in way it is justly placed. There are four others, whom without none of King Arthur's life would exist as it did. One was a warrior woman born of stone, one was a young girl made of dragonfire, one was a mysterious man in the mountains, the fourth was a sorceress. This one we know. Viviane. Most famous for her role in Merlin's end.
This is not true.
Well, in actuality, I guess it is, seeing as the event recorded did take place, but not the deed. Technically, he isn't dead. He's just imprisoned for all eternity, or until I bother to release him. Truly, it's a light penance in my opinion. Ah well, it was a spur of the moment idea, one can't blame me.
There is much not known about this story. All that is not known, I can tell you. I am Viviane. And this is how myself and others guided the fate of Camelot.
Our story really starts about three years previous, in a forge in the middle of nowhere in Albion in the middle of the night during a full moon. It was the first year of young Arthur's reign. I was sixteen at the time, and drawn there for reasons I couldn't explain. I wasn't alone in that regard.
Others were there. The man who owned the forge, of course. He was brutish man, with the look of one who'd met with the Fey. I knew all about them. There were two others, about a year older than me. A girl with brown hair and green-brown eyes and the countenance of fight, all pride and barbaric edges. I liked her immediately. The other was a boy, with black hair and green eyes and a habit of listening to the air, his eyes shifting around.
The three of us had been drawn there on the same day. There was a fourth. A baby only a few weeks old. A newborn. None of us were sure where she'd come from. She was an excitable child in swaddling cloths, pale blue eyes full of energy and brown-gold curls already beginning to grow.
It was on that night, when we met by chance, that we forged the swords. We'd each brought packs of strange items. I can remember the diving I did to gather the materials from the undersea caves. The girl had materials drawn from the ground, the boy items from heights and windy places.
With the skill of the blacksmith we each made ourselves a blade. The girl had one that she could pull into two if she wished; the boy one that could almost fly. Mine was shorter and lighter, perfect for me. None of us really spoke, or shared names. The only thing we knew about each other was that we had magic – we were all witches or wizards or sorcerers or sorceresses, depending on what we wished.
Then there was the baby. A metal with a strange glow was near her, and together we worked on making her a blade – for I sensed it would be wise, and I always trusted those feelings. Then we had the arrival.
A massive black dragon, eyes like fire and an aura of power and dangerous. It set down outside, much to our surprise, settling with its head in the open doorway. The baby had laughed and waved her hands about, causing the flames in the forge to grow and burn thrice as hot.
The dragon spoke, speaking how to build the sword. Its voice was low and rumbly, setting a tremor through my body. We worked long into the night, via the glowing silver moon and flames that increased hotter and hotter each time the baby moved.
"Definitely a witch," I laughed.
The boy smiled. "I thought you the witch, the others sorceresses," he said.
I made a face at him. I didn't like him, particularly.
"She is fey-blessed," the girl said. "You know by the hair."
"Red hair," the dragon rumbled, pausing in his instructions. "A tell-tale sign."
"Sign of what, great dragon?" I asked. There was no reply to my query.
On into the night we worked, as if we were merely spokes on a wheel. And then the fourth and final sword was done – a thing of beauty, the blade long and elegant, perfectly balance, shining, the hilt made of polished gold, with stones set in. It seemed to be perfection. I knew something was missing. I remember how I looked at the dragon, and I knew.
I took up the sword myself and said, "Finish it." The dragon blew fire, and I threw up the sword. The flames wrapped around the blade, and the baby, until both glowed brighter than the fire. Heat so hot I thought even I – I who never burnt – might burst into flames.
Then it shut off, ending so suddenly the night air felt like ice. I caught the sword as the baby cooed and giggled, making the forge fire burn almost as hot. An unspoken consent between us said I would take it. I would watch over it, until the child was older and ready. She would claim it one day, the sword of fire, until then I would guard it.
The dragon, the only speaking connection to this baby girl, was watching me. "What is its name?" I asked.
He said, "Excalibur."