Monday Flash Fic: A Forest Tale

12512410_502769906576768_1441087285728515142_n (1)I had gathered wood for the morning fire and was squatting next to it, waiting for my friend to set it alight, when the girl, perched on a stump, raised her bow and prepared to shoot. In a small clearing past a sparse stand of trees stood a stag, chest deep in mist off the river. Head raised, he was scenting the air, the great rack of antlers angled back to catch the early sun.

Rising, I rested a hand on her arm. “It would be a waste of meat. It’s only the three of us here.”

She glanced at the older man kneeling before the stacked wood. “No waste if he can magic what we don’t eat back to my people.” The tone bordered on insolent, and I smiled and waited to see how he’d react.

“My magic, such as it is, doesn’t work like that.” He flicked his fingers at the wood, and a flame leaped from the rowan branches. He sat back on his heels with a satisfied sigh. “Arthur is right. Let the stag live. There’s dried meat in the saddlebags.” He gave her a sharp look under lowered eyebrows. “Your people will be well rewarded for your help in seeing Arthur home. He’s assured you of that.”

I laughed shortly. “Set upon by bandits in my own kingdom. Times are most definitely changing, Merlin.” I squatted before the fire and warmed my hands. 

“Twas Saxons who did that.” She set aside her bow and went to Merlin’s horse to retrieve our dinner. She’d traveled with us for several days and become comfortable in our presence. “None of mine would dare touch you, my lord.”

“And for that, I am grateful.” I grinned at Merlin, who’d settled against a fallen log and pulled his hood close against the chilly morning air. He was staring into the fire, as was his habit, and I wondered what, if anything, he saw there. “When we reach Camelot, would you like to stay and serve the court? You could wait on my Lady Guinevere.”

Her surprise and pleasure at my offer was plain, but suddenly she looked past me and narrowed her eyes. She raced to where she’d left the bow, picked it up, notched the arrow, and let it fly. I turned to follow its path; it flew straight and true, piercing the rabbit through the shoulder.

She strode over to it and efficiently broke its neck. “Fresh meat for breakfast after all, my lords.”

Within minutes, the rabbit was on a spit over the fire. The smell of cooking meat made my mouth water. “You never answered my question.”

“I’ll answer it now then. Aye, I’ll serve you at Camelot, and gladly.” She snuck at look at Merlin. “Though I’m more interested in learning magic than sitting with the women.”

She was brash, and I admired her for it. “You’ll have to take that up with Merlin. In the meantime, will you tell us your name at last?”

She turned the spit, and grease fell to the wood and sputtered. “I am called Niniane, my lord.”

A sharp exhalation from Merlin drew my attention. He’d bolted upright and was staring at the girl with something like fear in his eyes.

“Merlin?” I leaned toward him and stretched out a hand. “Are you ill?

He shook me off and settled once more against the wood, his muscles stiff and unyielding. “‘Twas nothing.” He chuckled uneasily. “I but saw a dream come to life.” He hadn’t taken his eyes off Niniane. She returned the look without flinching, chin raised as if in challenge.

“Meat’s done,” she said. “Lord Merlin, will you partake?”

A long moment passed, and I got the impression they were conversing without saying a word. Perhaps I had been hasty, asking her to come to court. It was on the tip of my tongue to rescind the offer when Merlin finally answered her question.

“It seems I must,” he said quietly. “The future has arrived.”

______________

The legend of Merlin says a young girl name Niniane (or Vivien or Nimue) enchanted him in his later years, stealing his magic and leaving him in a state of living death. This is my take on their meeting.

Word count: 677
Genre: historial/fantasy
See more flash fics here.

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About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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19 Responses to Monday Flash Fic: A Forest Tale

  1. Yvonne says:

    Cool, I like your take on it. Have always loved the legend of Arthur.

  2. Jaycee Edward says:

    Gah!!! Thank you!!! I adore Camelot! One of my favorite movies of all time is The First Knight. Sean Connery made THE best King Arthur and Richard Gere was perfect for Lancelot. No wonder Guinevere couldn’t choose between them. Think I’ll grab it at the video store. Been years seen I’ve seen it.

  3. Oooh loved it! I used to be a huge fan of The Mists of Avalon series.

  4. Helena Stone says:

    Your replies today are anonymous. I too am a long time Arthur fan. I used to have a huge collection of Arthurian novels. These days the only one left is The Mists of Avalon, but the story has a special place in my heart. Thank you for a wonderful trip down memory lane.

  5. Lindsaysf says:

    Loved it! I love how you foreshadow that which comes about in the stories.

  6. Echoing what everyone else has said, I very much enjoyed your take on this. I’m actually rewatching the Merlin series on Netflix and this fit nicely.

  7. A.M.B. says:

    Fascinating! I’d never heard of Niniane before.

  8. diannegray says:

    Great work. I agree with everyone here and I love the unfolding of the characters 🙂

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