***language warning***

“Just sign here and you’re ready to go sir.” the hotel clerk said. The elderly man took the proffered pen and with a firm, steady hand wrote ‘G.A. Wayne’

The clerk glanced down, “Ok, Mr Wayne, will you be paying cash or credit?”

“It’s just Wayne these days.” The man’s voice was deep and sonorous, worthy of a Shakespearean actor. He removed a clip of bills from his jacket. “And cash.”

“Thank you, sir.” The clerk handed over a keycard. It’s floor number 3 suite 9. And enjoy your stay at the Park Grand.”

Wayne nodded and headed toward the elevator.

The room overlooked Hyde Park, its green confines obscured by the mist of the Autumn evening. Wayne deposited his only luggage, a duffel bag, onto the bed and considered his reflection in the bedside mirror.

Tall, with shoulder length silver hair and thick beard, a wide but lean frame, he looked a fit and capable 70-year-old. His reflection smiled solemnly back. Not bad for someone who was more than 500.

Plugging in his laptop and connecting to the hotel wi-fi, Wayne inspected once again the email that had brought him here.

Think I have finally found him this time. Somewhere near London. He is getting lazy or else his power is waning. Have notified L and A. L is on his way but no word from A. Still unstable.

Will contact you sometime after arrival.


Sighing, he switched off the computer. Still as mysterious as ever, damn her.

Glancing out the window, he noted the morose skies and light rain beginning to fall across the shimmering downtown. Time to head out and make himself available.

The Kings Arms. Looking at the sign on the pub’s entrance, Wayne thought it seemed a likely place. He went in, the bouncers giving him a congenial nod. Inside was loud and rowdy. Some heads turned as he walked in, but quickly turned back.

Wayne was aware of the presence he exuded, a kind of “fuck around and find out” aura. Had served him well in the past. He found a spot at the bar and waited to catch the bartender’s attention.

“Whiskey, neat. And a word, if you don’t mind.”

The bartender seemed about to say something, but took a second look at Wayne and nodded.

Wayne moved forward so his words could better penetrate the clamor.

“I’m looking for someone who might have been here recently.” He took a sip of his drink. “Big, kinda looks that guy who plays Thor in those movies. Thick curly hair, eats and drinks like a gorilla, loudest laugh in the room.”

The bartender, startled, said “Yeh, there was a guy like that here a couple days ago. You wouldn’t forget him.” He fumbled under the bar. “He gave me a card, said if someone that looked like a hippy James Bond turns up to hand it over.”

He passed the card over. Wayne flipped it with his fingers. A name ‘Lance’ and underneath an email address.

“Thanks my friend.” He put some bills on the bar. “For you, and get me another drink.”

Rain cascaded drearily onto the sidewalk, forming swirls of water reflecting the dim glow of the streetlights. Wayne considered England to have some of the most depressing weather anywhere. He thought he would have been used to it now, but give him California or the Cote d’Azur any day.

A woman’s scream rang out. Looking ahead, he saw three figures obscured by shadow. Heart beat accelerating into a familiar cadence, he quickly approached on long strides.

A woman, purse clenched defensively against her chest, two hoody clad men, one threatening with a blade.

The armed man turned and glared with menace. “Look mate, if I were you I’d bugger off and mind yer business before you get stabbed.” The second bulkier man shuffled to the side to flank Wayne.

Drawing himself up to his full height, Wayne said, “I am honor bound to give you fellows a chance of retreat before I visit harm upon the both of you.”

His gaze fell on the knife man, green eyes seeming to glow with a ghostly preternatural light

The thug laughed derisively, but Wayne could hear the nervous edge to it.

“Fuck off, old man, you’re dead meat.”

With a swiftness that belied his elderly appearance, Wayne grasped the man’s arm and coolly broke it, then hefted the thug above his head and with great force threw him at his accomplice, causing both of them to tumble hard on the rain swept road.

“Now go miscreants, before I am forced to render further injury upon your worthless bodies!”

Wheezing with shock and pain, the two men scrambled to their feet and fled into the night.

Wayne glanced at the woman, who was looking at him slack jawed in astonishment. Wayne knew that in moments of adrenaline, he reverted back to his natural vernacular. Crap. At least there weren’t any witnesses.

The woman shakily held out a hand. “Are you… Batman?”

He threw back his head and uttered a peal of laughter, pure, rich and full of mirth, incongruous and shocking amidst the dull grim surrounds.

“Nay, my fair lady, I am but a samaritan who chanced upon a wrongdoing. Any man of good heart would have done the same.”

The woman couldn’t help but smile. “I see you haven’t been in London long then.”

“True enough,” Wayne surveyed the skyline. “It’s been many a year since I have set foot in Olde London Town.”

He bowed. “Can I escort you back to your home?”

She briefly touched his arm. “No, I think I am fine now, and thank you.”

Wayne watched as she walked away in the direction of Paddington Station.

“So, I see your are still disposed to saving damsels in distress. You haven’t changed.” a dulcet voice spoke from behind him.

He turned to see a cloaked form materialize from the darkness. Gloved hands removed the hood, revealing a lush abundance of auburn tresses.

“Morgan,” he breathed. “It’s been a while.”

“Indeed, it has my champion.” She reached out a hand to touch his face. “You are looking somewhat worse for wear.”

“This last century has been hard, so much conflict and strife.” As Wayne spoke, he covertly scrutinized her. Beautiful as always, but he could see the lines etched on her face that weren’t there before.

Morgan moved forward to embrace him, head upon his chest. The scent of her, lilac and primrose, threatened to unman him as always.

“Hopefully this is the final chapter, and we can rest in peace.” she murmered.

He drew her back by the shoulders. “Lance has contacted me. Have you heard from Arty?”

“No,” she said grimly, “No response. It might just have to be the two of you.”

“Not ideal, if we can even make it work.” Wayne said.

“Well, there is good news.” Morgan said, “I have located his current hideout, a ruin just east along the coast from Hastings, Camber Castle. A two-hour train ride.”

“I have relayed the info to Arty. Maybe he might come through. You know he had abilities we could never fathom.”

Wayne looked her in the eyes. “One can hope, I guess.” He took in her clothing, red cloak, green tunic and tight fitting buckskin trousers.

“You know, you might want to do something about your look.”

Morgan said. “I like it, and you’d be surprised at how little people notice their surroundings these days.” She glanced up at him cheekily.

“And if someone asks, I can just say I’m cosplaying.”

T Square -8am. L

Watching the pigeons alighting on Nelsons Column, Wayne sat on a bench observing the people and activity, tourists milling around the fountain taking holiday shots, vendors and panhandlers selling souvenirs and trinkets. Briefly, a long ago memory overlayed the scene. A great fire, soldiers with the white boar insignia running, yelling and cursing.

He shook his head, dismissing the apparition. He thought Arty was the one who saw visions. So long ago, yet here he was, still living. The weight of centuries crushed down on him like Atlas’s burden.

“Reminiscing, eh?” Someone sat down beside him. “You know that just leads to madness.”

Tall, grotesquely muscular (at least Wayne thought so), a chiseled face Michelangelo would be proud of and thick golden curls.

“Lance.” The two men clasped hands in greeting.

“Wayne.” A perfect smile. “Good to see you, my brother.”

Wayne touched his head, “Still dyeing I see.”

Lance grinned ruefully. “The ladies prefer it this way, you know.”

They sat in companionable silence. Wayne glanced once again at the landmark at the fountain’s center. “I still recall you holding old Horatio in your arms as he passed. A good man among the bad, he deserved a hero’s death.”

“And I recall you being the worst sailor aboard the Victory,” said Lance. “Fat lot of good you did in that one.”

“True enough,” Wayne said. “I never did have any sea legs to speak of. Thank the Lady for the invention of flight.”

Wayne looked over. “So you heard from Arty at all?”

Lance shook his head. “Not for many a year, but I did receive a message from him during the Vietnam War.”

He recited, “I am without mind or home, as needs be. When the time is at hand, thou will find me.”

“Hmph, typical Arty cryptic bullshit.” Wayne grunted.

Lance pulled out a laptop and booted it up. “So here’s the plan. The location you sent me, Camber Castle, is near Winchelsea beach, just south of Rye.” He pointed at the map on the screen. “We take the train to Hastings arriving around 4pm, and there is a bus to Rye. We get off at the Winchelsea stop and it’s around a half-mile walk through some fields to get to the ruins.”

“Sounds good,” Wayne said. “He goes into hiding when he needs to recharge, so he’ll be at his weakest. Even without our liege, we have to try. Morgan said his power is waning, so maybe we can end this once and for all.”

Lance quietly sighed. “Then we will finally be at rest.”

The station was quiet in the lull of the afternoon, a cool breeze carrying the tang of the sea.

As Wayne and Lance made their way to the exit, they passed a disheveled beggar in ragged, dirty clothing, a thick wooden walking stick beside him and a bowl with a few coins.

Ever the charitable one, Wayne knelt down and placed some money into the bowl. “Why thank your kind sir, you have a good heart.” The man raised his head and Wayne was met with a piercing gaze from icy blue eyes.

“Arty?” Wayne said in disbelief. “When we didn’t hear from you for so long, we thought..”

Grabbing the stick, Arty pulled himself up. “That I had finally gone mad, beset by nightmare visions?” His voice was gentle, but with an unmistakable edge of command.

Lance moved to hold Arty by the shoulder. “Could you blame us after you lost Caliburn?”

Arty smiled. “It was lost only as long as I wanted. A necessary deceit against that devilish shapeshifter.” He patted the stick. “Now it has returned safe and sound.”

Wayne said, “Then the blessing of the Lady is with us and we must prevail!”

“We still have our strength yet, and our faith.” Arty said, “let us hope it is so.”

Lance gestured toward the exit. “The end of our journey is close, and we still have a bus to catch.”

“Ah, Lance,” said Arty, “ever the practical one, but you are right. Let us go.”

The plaintive cry of seagulls greeted them at the bus stop, waves crashing on limestone cliffs below them. Fields of grass swayed in the evening wind, the distant castle ruins silhouetted against the fading light.

In silence, the trio began marching toward their destination.

The ruins consisted of low squat towers and a crumbling gatehouse overgrown with moss and weeds. Lance pulled out a torch, and the three made their way through to the courtyard.

“If I recall correctly, Henry had a hidden chamber built under the 2nd tower with a stout door painted over to blend in with the walls.” Lance said.

Arty laughed. “Typical of Henry, that paranoid bastard. Let’s take a look.”

They found the door on the sea side of the tower. On inspection, it was obvious it had recently been opened. The three men looked at each other with somber faces.

Wayne sighed. “Well, this is it.”

Beyond the door was a flight of steps. Going down cautiously, they found themselves in a large round chamber lit by a roaring fireplace. A man was sitting on a chair facing the fire.

As the trio entered, the man swiftly arose and turned to face them. Bald, with a hawkish look, he was wearing beige chinos and a button up white shirt, sleeves rolled up. An empty scabbard was buckled around his waist.

“Ah, Gawain, Lancelot and Arthur Pendragon himself!” The man smiled broadly. “I wondered when you would show up.”

“Merlin, you murderous wretch.” Arthur said grimly.

Gawain pointed incredulously, “Wait, YOU’RE the Amazon guy?”

Merlin plucked at his clothes. “Yes, a rather pathetic incarnation, I must admit. It’s a sad time when the only real way to disrupt the world is through…” Merlin shuddered in distaste, “… economics.” Patting the dull grey scabbard at his side, his eyes grew distant. “Ah, Robespierre, Rasputin, Goring. Now they were true visionaries of mayhem! So here you are at last, come to destroy me.” Merlin’s gaze hardened. “Surely your minds are not so addled by old age to forget that my spirit will be reborn for eternity?”

“We are here to break the curse you laid upon us all those centuries ago,” Lancelot said.

Merlin laughed sardonically. “But surely you don’t consider immortality a curse? Slowly aging but never dying, the memory of the pain and suffering of human existence over the eras? Tell me it isn’t so. But no matter,” Merlin said, waving his hands in dismissal. “The ties between us cannot be severed unless Caliburn is returned home.”

“And so shall it be,” whispered Arthur. He twisted the top of his walking stick and drew out a thin sword, its hilt plain unadorned steel.

Merlin’s eyes widened in alarm. “How? I thought it had been lost long ago!”

“So it was, as I was lost for so long,” Arthur replied, “But now the King has returned, and with him his blade.”

Stepping back, Merlin raised his hands and began muttering arcane syllables, his eyes glowing.

Gawain and Lancelot rushed forward, but felt their limbs become leaden, and were forced to the floor.

Arthur, seemingly unaffected by the sorcerer’s incantation, moved with blinding swiftness, and before Merlin could react, grabbed him by the waist and slammed Caliburn into the scabbard.

Merlin looked at Arthur with horror. “You fool, you have destroyed us all!”

The scabbard started shining with an eldritch light. Panicked, Merlin tore the scabbard off and threw it to the floor.

“It is too late,” said Arthur. “This is the end.”

Merlin’s body began shuddering, a wordless scream emitting from his mouth. In seconds, centuries of cheating death caught up until there was nothing left but a desiccated corpse on the ground.

Enchantment broken, Gawain and Lancelot joined Arthur where he stood, gazing down at the wizard’s remains with grim satisfaction.

Gawain embraced Arthur. “So, my uncle, it is finally finished.” Lancelot clasped Arthur by the hand. “Now we can rest, my liege.”

Arthur nodded. “Yes, my dear friends, it is time.”

Extinguishing the flames in the fireplace, he took Caliburn and scabbard and held it aloft. As one, Gawain and Lancelot placed their hands upon it.

A flash of blue light, then without fuss, their bodies turned to dust. In the darkness the sword clattered to the floor, then all was silent.

April 07, 2023 06:22

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Ashley Elizabeth
15:47 Apr 13, 2023

Great story! I love the ending.


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Delbert Griffith
13:46 Apr 13, 2023

Love it! As soon as I saw the name A.G. Wayne, coupled with the title, I knew I was in for a treat. And you delivered. A ripping yarn with real humanity infused in the tale. The only thing missing was a cameo by Guinivere. LOL One minor error that I will point out" “Indeed, it has my champion.” I think the apostrophe belongs after the word 'has.' Nicely done, Darryl. Nicely done indeed. Cheers!


Darryl Roberts
14:35 Apr 13, 2023

Having one of my stories described as a ripping yarn is great, those were the kind of tales I loved as a kid. You are correct about the grammar, unfortunately it’s too late to edit.


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Kathryn Kahn
20:54 Apr 11, 2023

This is a version of the Arthur legend I never dreamed of, and I really liked it. The mystery (who are these people?) that slowly evolves into realization of exactly who they are. And then your Merlin, so different from other Merlins I have read about. Great job.


Darryl Roberts
00:55 Apr 12, 2023

Thank you. I have always liked the idea of an urban fantasy setting involving the knights of Camelot, so I gave it a shot.


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Richard E. Gower
14:42 Apr 10, 2023

The tag said fantasy and you delivered in spades. What a terrific Arthurian blast through the past! So many great references, including the play on words title, but absolutely loved the G.A. Wayne bread-crumb...priceless. 👍👍 👍 SO well done.-:) Cheers! RG


Darryl Roberts
00:49 Apr 11, 2023

Thanks for the feedback. I thought the title might a bit too cheesy.


Richard E. Gower
10:41 Apr 11, 2023

Loved the title.-:) RG


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Mary Bendickson
21:54 Apr 09, 2023

Thanks for liking my 'Monotony'. I like this story a lot, too. Inventive take on the prompt. Good job.


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Michelle Oliver
05:07 Apr 09, 2023

I enjoyed the Arthurian theme here. What a twist making Merlin the bad guy… who is Bezos in this incarnation. Hahaha. The ending was sad, a wistful melancholy that after all that they’d been through, they fade away. Makes me wonder what happened to Morgan.


Darryl Roberts
05:15 Apr 09, 2023

Thanks, last I heard she was working at a renaissance fair.


Michelle Oliver
05:15 Apr 09, 2023

Haha there’s a story there


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Viga Boland
12:58 Apr 07, 2023

Absolutely fascinating…both story and style of writing. You’ve given me another style to try out that blends dialogue and narrative so perfectly. Wish others wrote this way. Tops! 👏👏


Darryl Roberts
13:34 Apr 07, 2023

Thank you. This was my longest submission so far and I had to cut some ideas out to make it fit.


Viga Boland
14:08 Apr 07, 2023

Well I don’t know what you cut out but it feels very complete. Nice and tight no extraneous material. Quite frankly, I hate really long stories, but the way you’ve written this, it doesn’t feel long. Stick to the style: you’re on a winning streak


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Philip Ebuluofor
07:44 Apr 07, 2023

Fine dialogues. Fine cut and joined way of ploughshare writers. I am learning how to write like those people. I just saw some elements of how their craft their stories there to get to six thousand words in your work.


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