One moment, they were Changelings living in a vampire-infested Twin Cities area, and the next, they find themselves in 5th Century Britain bumping shoulders with Uther, Igraine, Leodegrance and Merlin.
They’ve undergone something called “the Flux.” The entire world changed and nobody noticed. Everyone entered the new world with complete lives and memories. What’s more, some of the folks they knew back in the Twin Cities have shown up in Britain as well. Changed just slightly—some more than others—but still familiar. Familiar strangers.
Our cast of characters includes:
as Brangaine, a Cornish lady married to a Christian knight having an affair with a Pagan knight; as Anwyn, an Enchantress of Britain and apprentice under the Great Enchanter, Merlin; as Terrwyn, the Cambrian lady who disguises herself as a man to participate in tournaments; and as Ysbail, the Norman lady with merchant contacts in both Britain and the continent.
All of us missed
Also, for further context, be sure to check up on what the boys have been doing!
Anwyn stands very still in the corner of the pavilion while Uther screams.
"I must have her!"
His voice echoes through the small place and rings in Anwyn’s ears. She watches as Merlin speaks.
"You will wreck everything I have worked for. Britain is united! At last! And you would throw all of it away for what lies between her thighs!"
Uther’s eyes grow dark. His voice drops to a growl. "You’re the wizard," he says. "The next words you speak to me will be how I will bed that woman without breaking the truce." And then, Uther leaves.
Merlin looks at Anwyn. "Well then," he says. "I thought that went well."
"What are we going to do?" she asks.
Merlin ponders for a moment. Then, he says, "You are skilled in glamours, are you not, dear?"
Anwyn nods. "I am."
"Good. Meet me tonight at the standing stones just outside the tournament." He begins to leave, but then pauses. "And wear a disguise."
Brangaine serves her wounded husband breakfast. "Here you are, Barnabas," she says. "Is there anything else I can do?"
"Stay with me," he says. "All day. Your company is salve enough for my wounds."
Brangaine thinks about her lover, Sebastian. He is jousting later today in the tournament. She missed his joust yesterday. She does not want to miss it again. She looks down at the eyes of her husband and sees his unquestioning devotion to her. She tells him a story.
A story about four girls living in a small kingdom. They were surrounded by darkness all around. A darkness filled with monsters. One of the girls had to go into the faerie lands to rescue a friend in danger…
Barnabas listens to her. His smile is warm.
Across the tournament, Terrwyn sits on a horse, dressed in black armor. She waits the command. The flag drops and she lowers her lance. Her aim is true and it slams into her opponent’s chest, throwing him from his steed. He slams into the ground hard and under her armor, Terrwyn winces just a little. "Such a useless sport," she thinks to herself.
She brings her horse back to her squire and he leads them both to the black knight’s pavilion. She changes into her usual garb and retires to her own pavilion just a few feet away.
A servant tells her that a messenger from King Lot is there to see her. He wishes to have dinner with her and her knight. Both of them. Terrwyn sighs. "Very well. Tell him I will be there." Then, she turns to one of her men. "Time for you to be my cousin again," she says. Her man bows his head.
"Of course, my lady."
"What does he want you to do?" Brangaine asks.
Just then, a man steps into the pavilion. Anwyn sees him and her eyes open wide.
"Hello cousin," he tells Brangaine. He carries a harp. Anwyn’s knees shake.
Brangaine turns to Anwyn. "Anwyn, this is my cousin, Tristan."
"H-how do you do?" she says, curtsying.
He bows to her, then looks back at Brangaine. "I brought my harp," he says. "I hope to ease your husband’s pain."
Brangaine smiles. "You’re so thoughtful," she says. "He’s right in there."
Tristan enters the room and sits. He greets Barnabas and then begins to sing. His fingers play across the harp strings. Anwyn sits. The enchantress, enchanted.
With her husband distracted, Brangaine leaves the pavilion and starts off for the jousting arena.
She meets up with Cerddwr, the knight she went to dinner with when Uther and Cornwall signed their peace treaty.
"My Lady," he says, bowing. "I come to ask a favor."
She eyes him with suspicion. A part of the past. That "Walker" detective with the Lord Strange ring. But he does not seem to remember who he was. Only who he is now. "What can I do for you?" she asks.
"I seek an audience with Leodegrance," he says. "It is in regards to the peace treaty signed last evening."
She nearly spits when she hears him say it. "Peace with Uther," she says. "That day will never come."
"I agree," he says. That surprises her.
"Are you not a knight from London?" she asks. "One of Uther’s vassals?"
He nods. "I am. And I do not trust this treaty. Merlin may have arranged it, but there is no way Uther will keep it."
Terrwyn decides she likes this knight, despite his connection with the old world. "I will arrange that meeting," she says.
And just then, his eyes change. Panic fills his face. He grabs her wrist.
"Misty!" he says. "You have to help me! It’s gone wrong! I can’t stop…" His eyes change again. His voice softens. "Excellent," he says. "I look forward to meeting him."
Cerddwr leaves her then. And she stands watching him.
Making her way back to her pavilion, the page finds her. "My lord wishes to tell you to meet him at the standing stones just outside the tournament."
"When?" she asks.
She undoes a ribbon from her hair. "Give this to him," she says.
The page nods and rushes off.
When she comes back to the pavilion, her husband is asleep. A servant tells her that her cousin wished her well and hoped to see her again. She remembers Sebastian’s smile and she sighs. Then, she hears her husband stirring in his bed. No, he still sleeps. She sits down at his bedside and touches his brow.
"This knight… what was his name?"
"Cerddwr," she says. "From London."
"A scholar-knight, then," he says. She nods. "Why did he not go to Cornwall himself?"
"He knows I have a relationship with you," she says. "Perhaps he hopes to convince you so you can convince Cornwall?"
Leodegrance nods, his hand on his chin. "That makes sense." He walks about the room in silence. Then, he turns to her. "Tell your scholar-knight that I will meet him. Tonight, after dinner."
She nods and bows (she never curtsies). "Yes, sir," she says. Just as she leaves, Leodegrance tells her, "I hear you are meeting with King Lot this evening?"
She nods. "Yes, I am."
"Be careful with him," he tells her. "He is a cunning man. His wife, also. They would not have invited you if they did not have… plans."
She leaves the pavilion and makes her way back to her own.
* * *
Anwyn waits at the standing stones. In the distance, she sees the fires and pavilions of the tournament. She’s wearing a mask made of twigs and leaves. Merlin arrives. "I see," he says, looking at her disguise. "Well done."
"What do you want me to do?" she asks.
"Uther will be here soon," he tells her. "I want you to use your glamour to give him the semblance of the Duke of Cornwall."
"That way, he can satisfy his lust and we can maintain our truce."
Anwyn nods. "Okay," she says. She sees Merlin’s confusion. "I mean, ‘very well’."
Merlin nods. "I will not be here. I have other things to attend to." Then, he looks down the hill. "Here comes Uther now." Anwyn looks and sees him walking up the hill. She turns to ask Merlin a question, but he’s gone.
"Where is Merlin?" Uther asks.
"Merlin sent me," Anwyn says. "Just stand there. I will take care of everything."
In the middle of the standing stones, drawing power from the earth, she begins the ritual. Her words fill her body with power. Power that she’s felt before and never felt before. And Uther begins to change. Transform. His cruel, hard face softens. His steel gray eyes change to blue. His jaw, his cheeks, his hair. All of it is different. Anwyn finishes the ritual and her body is drained. A heavy sleep fills her brain. She never knew such a simple act could be so exhausting.
Anwyn’s eyes snap open. "What did you call me?"
"Where am I?" Uther/Cornwall asks. "What am I doing here?"
Anwyn begins to panic. She looks at him, but the glamour is so complete, she cannot recognize him. Not the way she recognized Kiera or Misty or Melanie.
Uther/Cornwall looks at his hands. He touches his face. "I’m Uther," he says. "Uther Pendragon."
Anwyn guesses. "Fix?" she asks.
Uther/Cornwall’s eyes shine. "No," he says. And she recognizes the voice.
"Collins," she says. "You’re Jacob Collins."
Uther/Cornwall nods. "Yes. I am."
END OF PART 1