A Genius in King Arthur's Court
Chapter 1: An Arrow Astray

“Verily, these are dark times ... the tension pervading these lands is reaching a breaking point. All appears to be progressing in the manner it should ... yet I fear something to be not as it seems. Yes ... if history continues on its current trajectory, it may be irreparably damaged in the end. It is time. I can no longer maintain my neutrality. None alive today could possibly prevent the disaster that is to come. But perhaps ... there is another...”


“And that is the difference between centrifugal force and centripetal force. Any questions?”

“Yeah, I got a question. You gonna die a virgin?”

Dave Brighton sighed in frustration. How he hated assisting in these freshman science classes. There was never a shortage of jocks to make his efforts go to waste. He shook his head a bit and rubbed his temples as the auditorium broke into laughter.

“Thank you, Mr. Rodriguez. Any questions related to the lecture?” Seeing nothing but blank stares, he figured his work was done for the day. “Ok, that’ll be it then. Professor Henry will be back on Monday, and he’ll be giving a quiz on today’s information, so study up on your notes. The PowerPoint slides will also be on his website.”

As the auditorium grew louder with students grabbing their supplies and bolting for the door, eager to start their weekend, Dave retreated to the desk at the front of the class for a moment’s peace. He took a few seconds to organize his papers before stuffing them in his backpack, finding that he shared the sentiments of the class regarding the weekend. It had been a hell of a long week.

“Nice lecture, big brother,” came a bubbly voice.

“You and I might be the only ones who think so, Cindy,” Dave said without even looking up.

“Oh Juan? Don’t worry about that asshole; the only way a jock like him will graduate is if someone else takes his tests for him.” She adjusted her glasses and walked to the other side of the desk, placing a hand on her brother’s shoulder. “It’s good to see you, Dave. We’ve both been so busy, it’s like we don’t even go to the same school.”

“You too, Cindy,” Dave agreed, standing to give his sister a hug. “I’m not surprised, though. Georgia Tech is hell for freshmen and seniors alike.”

“Damn straight. And especially with you helping to teach these freshman classes,” she agreed, running her fingers through her long, brown hair.

“Yeah, but it helps Professor Henry out. Besides, the credit he gives me towards my class requirements through this gives me all the time I need to finish my senior project.”

“That the new stabilization system you’ve been working on for low altitude aircraft?” Cindy asked.

“Yep. Only theoretical at this point, but maybe someday it’ll make me enough to eat some better food.”

“Ooh, upgrading from Ramen to Chick-fil-a? Fancy!” she teased him.

“Sounds about right for what the government might award me,” Dave admitted with a laugh. “Anyway, I’d better get going. Archery practice starts soon.”

“Fun times. I’m going out with some friends on Sunday, but text me tomorrow. I may want to pick your brain to get ready for Monday’s quiz.”

“Will do. Take care, Cindy.”

Packing up his things, Dave watched his sister head out the door, leaving him alone in the auditorium. He took inventory of his effects, making sure nothing had been lifted by one of the idiots in his class. It all appeared to be there, his papers, books, change of clothes for archery, and of course his favorite possession of all: his copy of The Once and Future King. Anytime Dave felt down or lost, all he needed was a few minutes of reading from those pages to right his world and give him what he needed to carry on.

Dave exited onto the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology, enjoying the warm weather of early April. As he traversed the school grounds, he smiled at the thought of being so close to graduating and finally being out on his own, able to make his way in the world. If he played his cards right, he wouldn’t even need advanced degrees to make his fortune; he was already more brilliant than most any of his competition. A major in mechanical engineering and a minor in physics provided all the versatility and experience he would need, especially when combined with his natural ability. Now he just had to survive the last two months of school...

The sound of nearby laughter soon interrupted his thoughts. Dave spied a trio of sorority girls walking on the other side of the walkway, giggling and flipping their hair in that flirty way that drove men wild. What he wouldn’t give for a shot with one of them. Early in his college life, Dave had actually thought he might have a chance, as he wasn’t that bad looking. He was 5’10” with short brown hair and good complexion, plus a surprisingly muscular upper body thanks to his archery hobby. All the same, his awkwardness with women did him in every time; the poor boy was utterly speechless around a beautiful woman, and in particular one giving him any individual attention. His sister had tried helping him out this past year, being a freshman on campus, but the damage had been done. Every girl on campus knew about “Babbling Brighton,” as he had come to be known among the fairer sex.

Dave soon arrived at the intramural field where the Yellow Jacket Archery Club met. As he was captain of the group, he was the first to arrive. After taking some time to set up all the targets for the day and inspect the equipment for any maintenance needs, he heard the other two members of the club arriving on the field. First was Chris, a sophomore-year Asian boy. He had little to no talent for the sport, but was convinced archery would give him a stronger upper body and make him a chick magnet. As few people as were interested in the archery club, Dave had no reason to turn him away. After him came Jasmine, a rather heavy-set black girl in her junior year. While Dave was good, Jasmine was a natural, possessing Olympic-caliber talent to his eye. If the right people noticed her, Dave had no doubt that she could make the U.S. National team.

“Dave! I’ve been pumping at the gym this week, gonna really let loose today!” Chris boasted, flexing his arms as best as he could.

“That’s great, Chris,” Dave replied, not wanting to cut him down, though he probably could use the reality check. “Jasmine, you all set?”

“Let’s do this,” she replied with a smirk.

The three stepped up to their marks, brandishing their bows of choice. Chris opted for a compound bow, aiding in his limited skillset. Jasmine, being a future Olympian, sported a takedown bow. Dave, preferring old-school methods, used his favorite recurve bow, simple yet elegant in its design. While both Dave and Jasmine shot at the Olympic distance of seventy meters, Chris had yet to progress beyond the forty-meter mark. For ten minutes, the three focused on their target practice in silence, until Chris decided to try and show off his supposed muscle. He nocked an arrow in his bow, intending to draw, aim, and fire all in the same motion. But as he drew back, he pulled so hard on the bowstring that it threw his aim high, causing the arrow to sail over the target and into the wooded area behind the intramural fields.

“Shit, I had that!” Chris griped.

“Chris!” Dave shouted, jogging over to him. “What happened?”

“I, uh ... pulled back too hard.”

“Dammit, I’ve warned you about that. If it happens again, you’re out of the club, understand?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah...”

“Ok, everyone hold fire. I’m going to retrieve the arrow,” Dave said.

After confirming that all bows and arrows had been stored away safely, Dave jogged downrange to begin searching the thicket of trees. Before he left, he strapped his own bow to his back and grabbed his backpack, just in case he might need his utility knife. He searched for several minutes, but was unable to find the arrow. At last, he found it stuck in a tree stump, though strangely, the arrow had landed on top of the stump pointing straight down, rather than in the side.

“The hell? How’d that happen?” Dave wondered. “Did the arrow ricochet?”

Pushing his questions from his mind, Dave stepped up to the tree stump and reached for the arrow. His first slight tug did nothing to dislodge it, so he wrapped both hands around the shaft for a better grip. The more he pulled, the tighter it seemed to wedge itself in the stump. Finally, he took a power stance and lifted with his entire body, managing to pull it loose, though not before falling flat on his ass.

“Whew, gotcha! Thanks for nothing Chris-”

As Dave looked up from the arrow, he noticed that he no longer sat in the thicket he had been in. Rather, the trees had grown tall and thick, and the woods around him were covered with a dense fog. He heard none of the residual noises he had heard a few moments ago, no cars, nor footsteps on pavement, not even the occasional aircraft flying overhead. Dave only heard silence. For a few moments, it was peaceful and serene, but soon became eerie and unsettling, like he was being watched.

“FIRE!!!”

Suddenly, a shout came from the other side of the trees, and Dave dove to the ground on instinct. But as nothing seemed to threaten him for a few seconds, he began to pick himself up and put the arrow away in his quiver as he crept through the mess of trees towards the shouting. Arriving at a bush, he peered through the morning fog and blinked a few times to be sure his eyes weren’t failing him. Two knights rode on horseback ahead of him towards a crashed carriage, the horses attached to it having been killed with arrows to their necks. Two men emerged from the carriage, one around his age and the other several years older. Dave surmised that they could be father and son. Each brandished a one-handed sword, ready to face their assailants.

“Take this!”

The younger man charged for one of the riders, but was struck down in an instant by the knight’s morningstar. As the boy fell, he swung his sword wildly, slicing into one of the front legs of the knight’s horse. This caused the animal to cry out in pain, bucking his rider off and crashing into the second rider. This second knight had no time to gather himself, as the older man rushed towards him and plunged his sword into the knight’s chest, killing him. But as he struggled to withdraw his weapon, the other knight had recovered enough to draw his own sword and run the older man through from behind.

“Filthy pigs!” he spat at the older man.

With both men now dead, Dave saw the remaining knight turn his attention towards the carriage. After rummaging around for a moment, the distinctive sound of a female scream split Dave’s ears, and he saw a girl being drug from the carriage and thrown to the ground. She was quite beautiful, with deep red hair down to the small of her back, and wore a sky blue dress. Still, he had no time to admire her beauty; the sheer terror in her eyes was apparent.

“No ... please, no,” she whimpered from the ground.

“Sorry girl. I got orders,” the knight growled. “Still, what say we have a little fun before that?”

Dave knew damn well what that meant: he was about to witness a rape and murder. Taking a deep breath, he decided he had to act. Slipping his bow from his back, he pulled an arrow from his quiver and nocked it, taking aim at the knight. While he wore armor over most of his body, the fool had removed his helmet, probably to get a better view in his coming activities. Dave steadied himself and took careful aim at the man’s exposed head. A tough shot, to be sure, but no more difficult that hitting the bull’s-eye on the intramural fields, and especially as the knight was far closer than seventy meters.

“Come ‘ere girl, I ain’t got all-”

As the knight was about to pounce on the poor girl, her eyes went wide with surprise to see an arrow lodged in the man’s temple. He stood in stunned silence for a moment before collapsing to the ground in a crumpled heap. The girl scrambled backwards to get away from the dead body, looking around to see exactly what had happened. She soon eyed a young man exiting the woods from which the arrow had flown, and he waved to indicate he was heading in her direction. He was dressed in rather odd garments, exposing both his forearms and lower legs, and wore no armor that she could see. Who was this hero?

“Are you hurt?” he asked as he approached.

“Um ... no. No, I am not. But ... Father ... and James...”

Dave steadied her with his hand on her back, fearing that she may be close to fainting.

“It’s ok, it’s all over. They can’t hurt you anymore,” he tried to reassure her.

“There they are!”

Dave’s head spun around at hearing riders approach over the nearby hill. Though he thought about drawing his bow again, he realized that they were too close; he’d be killed before he could do anything to defend. The group of five knights swarmed the scene, surrounding the two survivors. One particularly large knight strode over to him, appearing to be the one in charge.

“You responsible for this, boy?” he demanded.

“N-no,” Dave replied.

“Then who?!”

“Sir Bedivere! Look!” one of the men shouted.

Bedivere?!

Dave was stunned by the name. He had read it thousands of times, but there was no way it could be the same person. The tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, wonderful stories as they were, remained mere legend. They weren’t actual history ... were they?

“What did you find?” the lead knight asked.

“These two men, they bear the insignia of-”

“Mordred...”

He turned his attention from the knight slain by the two dead men to the one Dave had killed, pulling the arrow from the man’s head. After inspecting it for a few moments, he turned back to the strange boy.

“You killed this man?”

“I did. Had no choice. He was about to rape this girl,” Dave explained.

“This be true, Maid Madeleine?”

“Y-yes, it is,” she stammered. “He was to kill me, and said he was going to ... have some fun before that...”

“You are a very lucky girl,” he said with a sigh. Reaching out his arm to Dave the knight said, “Come with us, boy. His Highness will wish to thank you for your courage. What is your name?”

“Uh, Dave.”

“Dave? Strange name.”

“Oh, David, actually. David Brighton,” he corrected himself, shaking the knight’s hand.

“Ah. Well met, David of Brighton. I am known as Sir Bedivere.”

As the knight removed his helmet, Dave got his first good look at the man. He was tall and quite burly, a very strong man to be sure, and had a thick black beard and moustache covering his face. Bedivere sported several gashes and scars on his face, indicating that he had survived many battles over the years, yet his smile and the twinkle in his eye suggested that his gruff demeanor belied a jovial personality deep down.

“Percival! Bring our spare horse ‘round!” Bedivere shouted to a nearby squire.

“At once, Sir!”

“Come. We ride. Milady, are you well enough to ride with David, or would you prefer another for your company?” Bedivere asked.

“I would love the pleasure of riding with my savior,” she replied with a grin.

“Here you are. You first, sir,” the squire said, returning with a gray horse. “May I take your satchel?”

“Yes, thank you,” Dave replied, slipping off his backpack.

It had been years since Dave had ridden, but he was tall enough to make it up into the saddle on his first try, avoiding unnecessary embarrassment and ridicule. With help from Dave and Percival, the girl made it up without issue, seated with her chest pressed into Dave’s back. He took immediate notice of this, and in particular the fact that she was quite well endowed. As the group rode off, he attempted to strike up a conversation as a distraction from the growing bulge in his shorts.

“I, uh, do not believe we have been properly introduced?”

“But of course! I am Madeleine of Saxon,” came a sweet voice behind him.

“David Brighton, but my close friends call me Dave.”

“My thanks to the Lord above for you, David,” she said, wrapping her arms around his torso tightly. “I cannot begin to imagine what my fate would have been without you.”

“Trying not to think about it myself,” he muttered. “Um, I may have suffered a blow to the head back in the woods, and I want to be sure I still have my wits about me,” he continued, trying to avoid modern slang. “What year is it? And where are we traveling to?”

“Why, it is the year of our Lord 932, and we ride for the castle you see in the distance. That is Camelot.”

Camelot!? This is crazy ... am I dreaming?

Dave tried to sort through this series of events, grasping for any sort of a rational explanation for what had happened to him, but none came to mind. He could be dreaming, but he had never had a dream this real before, not even in his wildest fantasies. He supposed that pulling the arrow out of that tree stump could have thrown him backwards and caused him to bash his head on a rock...

“David? Are you alright?” Madeleine asked.

“Huh? Oh, yes. I apologize; I tend to get lost in thought sometimes,” he replied, composing himself.

“Ah, courageous and intelligent,” she giggled.

“Thank you. In truth, I was also admiring this land; my home comes nowhere near this place in beauty.”

“You mean Brighton?” she asked.

“Well, my family originally hails from Brighton,” he replied, thinking up a quick cover story, “But we have since traveled to a far away land called Atlanta.”

“Atlanta? It must be very far away, for I have never heard of it. I have traveled to all corners of the kingdom with my father.”

“It is. So far, in fact, that I doubt anyone in this land has ever been there.” At that moment, he heard a distinct sniffle coming from behind him. “Madeleine? Are you alright?”

“Oh, I am so sorry ... I was just thinking about ... Father...” she choked out.

Dave sighed. “I am sorry I couldn’t save them.”

“Couldn’t? What is this word?” she asked, her tears halted for the moment.

Shit! Gotta watch that.

“It is a ... word from my homeland,” he replied carefully. “A combination of the words could and not.”

“A word to combine two words ... how strange! Yet fascinating at the same time! Are there other words such as this where you come from?”

“Drawbridge ahead!” came Bedivere’s voice.

“Apologies, but we will have to continue this conversation later,” Dave said, throwing a grin over his shoulder.

“I do hope so,” Madeleine whispered with a giggle.

Holy shit, she’s something else ... and I’m actually talking to her! Without any babbling! But ... how?!

Before Dave could ponder the situation further, his horse had made it across the drawbridge and emerged in the outer courtyard of Castle Camelot. He was awestruck at the flurry of activity, with soldiers marching, merchants setting up shop, and countless others bustling through the area. As he followed the horses ahead of him, a squire jogged up and took the reins from him, guiding the animal towards the stables.

“Dismount!” said Bedivere upon arrival.

“Sir Bedivere! What happened out there?” an older knight asked, approaching the group.

“Mordred’s pigs ambushed the carriage; Lord Byron and Sir James are both dead. Poor Madeleine here is the only survivor.”

“How tragic! My deepest sympathies, my dear.”

“Thank you...” she replied, her voice softening at the memory of her lost family.

“Now, who is this strange fellow?” the knight inquired.

“This is David of Brighton,” Bedivere answered. “Were it not for his efforts, not even Maid Madeleine would have lived to tell the tale. Shot the last of Mordred’s men clean through the head. David, meet Sir Kay, a dear friend of mine and a fellow Knight of the Round Table.”

“A pleasure,” Dave replied, hopping down from the horse.

Knight of the Round Table?! This has to be a dream.

“Hmm ... you sound rather odd, my good boy. Ah, but any who would take up arms against Mordred’s men is welcome here in Camelot!” Kay said jovially, slapping Dave on the back.

“Ahem ... thank you, Sir Kay,” Dave said, stifling a cough at the hard slap. He then turned back to the horse, taking Madeleine’s hand as she dismounted.

“Thank you, David,” she said with a slight smile.

“Sir Kay, this poor girl has been through much this morning. I believe she will need a quiet place to catch her wits,” Bedivere said.

“Agreed. If I am not mistaken, Her Highness has in the past been of great comfort to the victims of tragedy,” Kay surmised.

“Ah, excellent idea! Please escort her to Queen Guinevere at once. Also, I shall need to speak with His Highness straight away. Where may we find him?”

“Where else but the workshop? Even after all these years, those two are nigh inseparable,” Kay chuckled.

“Very well. Milady, I leave you in Sir Kay’s capable hands.”

“My thanks, Sir Bedivere. And once His Highness has finished thanking our new friend ... I would love to see him again,” she said, throwing a smile at Dave.

“I believe we can arrange that. Be well, Maid Madeleine,” Bedivere replied with a knowing grin.

“Until next time, David,” she said.

“Bye...” Dave managed, waving slightly as sauntered off.

“Heheh, my friend, you may have pierced that oaf in the head today, but methinks you have been shot by a different sort of arrow,” Bedivere teased, playfully slapping Dave on the head.

“Ow! Huh?”

“Do not feign ignorance, boy, for I see the way you gaze upon her. I certainly cannot blame you. But come, we have vital matters to discuss. There will be time for revelry later!”

Bedivere returned Dave’s backpack and led him through another gate and into a smaller, inner courtyard surrounding the central tower of the castle. He greeted several other knights as they went, soon arriving at a set of large wooden doors. After the guards pushed them open, Bedivere stepped off to the side, beckoning Dave to join him.

“Now, your weapon and satchel, if you please.”

“I am ... rather fond of this bow,” Dave said warily.

“Be assured that we shall treat it with the utmost care. However, you are about to stand before the ruler of these lands, and I must take every precaution regarding his safety.”

Dave hesitated only a moment longer before removing his bow and quiver, handing both to Sir Bedivere. With the weapon stowed in the armory, they continued their trek through the castle.

“Sir Bedivere, I have a question,” Dave said.

“Of course, lad!”

“I can only assume that the two men in the carriage today were Madeleine’s family. Does she have any other family? I would think that they would want to comfort her in her distress.”

Bedivere stopped and bowed his head, replying, “Sadly, she does not. Those two were all she had left. Her father was Lord Byron of Saxon, and the younger man was Sir James, another Knight of the Round Table. Sir James was her intended; they were to be married by the end of the week.”

“That’s awful!”

“That’s? What does this word mean?”

“Oh, I apologize. Pay that no mind, merely a language difference from my homeland.”

“Ah, of course. Even so, conversing with you is far easier than with one of those disgusting Frenchmen. But indeed, it is terrible all that has befallen poor Madeleine today.” Bedivere turned to look Dave in the eye. “Your concern is touching, and unless you are a master of deceit, appears to be genuine. We must continue to be strong, for her sake.”

“I agree.”

“And here we are,” Bedivere said, arriving at a wooden door. “Once we reach the bottom of the stairs, remain in the doorway until you are beckoned.”

“Understood.”

Dave followed Bedivere down a winding staircase, soon arriving at another door, which he stayed behind while his companion entered with a knock.

“Good Morning, Your Highness.”

“Ah, Sir Bedivere. I trust you bring news of our guests from Saxon?”

“Yes, Sire. But I regret to report that it is not good news,” Bedivere replied.

“What happened?”

“Mordred. His men were waiting in ambush at the edge of the woods. Shot their horses and overturned the carriage. Lord Byron and Sir James attempted to fight them off, but ... they were slain.”

“Oh dear ... and what of the girl? Madeleine, was it?”

“Yes, Sire. In truth, this is the other reason for my urgency coming to you this morning. She was almost killed by the last of Mordred’s men, but a passing stranger rendered aid at the last moment and killed the brute.”

“That is certainly a relief. And who might this stranger be?”

“I have brought him with me today. David?”

Hearing his cue, David stepped through the doorway, entering a strange laboratory. Bottles and jars filled with various items lined the shelves on the walls, and a few candles and torches provided just enough illumination to make out the two men standing ahead of him. He strode up beside Bedivere, standing across a table from a man of about fifty, whose identity Dave could guess.

“Your Highness, may I introduce David of Brighton,” Bedivere said. “This brave lad saw poor Madeleine in distress. One of Mordred’s men was about to ravage her before ending her life, but our new friend had the skill and courage to fire an arrow into the man’s head before he could do her any harm. I brought him here, assuring him that Your Highness would wish to thank him in person for such courage.”

“Indeed I do,” the older man said with a smile. “Young David, welcome to my home. You now stand before Arthur, King of the Britons.”

“My thanks for your gracious hospitality,” Dave replied.

“But of course. Any with the courage to take up arms against Mordred is a friend to Camelot. Tell me, boy, are you gentle?”

“Gentle ... my apologies, Your Highness, but I come from a far away land, as you have doubtless surmised by my speech. Though we speak the same tongue, there are some differences in the words common to our respective homelands. In truth, Sir Bedivere and I have already had one small confusion.”

“I understand. Are you gentle? That is, of noble birth?” Arthur asked again.

“No, I am not,” Dave replied, figuring that an affirmative would require reciting a lineage that did not exist.

“Indeed, it matters not to me. In honor of your courage this day, you shall be treated well for as long as you stay here in Camelot.”

“I am honored, though I am curious of something, Your Highness.”

“And what is that?”

“It is clear from the reactions of Sir Bedivere, Sir Kay, and yourself that the arrival of Madeleine’s family was of great importance to your kingdom. Though I only acted out of concern for her, I have the sense that those actions could have far-reaching implications. I have also heard the name Mordred mentioned on a few occasions, frequently with disgust. Are all these things connected?”

“Indeed they are,” Arthur replied. “You may or may not be aware, but we are at war with Lord Mordred, my bastard son. Though he was once a Knight of the Round Table, I refused to name him my successor, seeing his malicious soul. He swore vengeance against me, taking a large following with him to form an army, and now hopes to take the throne of Camelot by force. We have managed to keep him at bay for the time being, but I fear we shall not be able to last for much longer. That is where Lord Byron’s importance laid, God rest his soul.

“Lord Byron hails from Saxon, a land of enemies to us, but to Mordred also. After many weeks of negotiations, he and I at last reached an agreement to form an alliance. Lord Byron would deliver soldiers and weapons to aid us in our battle against Mordred, and I in return would betroth one of my Knights of the Round Table to his daughter, ensuring her future security. Had Mordred’s men succeeded in murdering Lord Byron, his daughter, and Sir James, the covenant we made could no longer be upheld, and we would be without aid from the Saxons. But you, in saving Maid Madeleine, have preserved our chance at survival, and we are grateful for this, David of Brighton.”

An agreement with the Saxons ... Lord Byron ... this all seems too familiar. I ... I feel like I’ve read about this. Wait, that’s it! A tenuous alliance between Camelot and Saxon was ripped apart by the death of Lord Byron, I remember reading about that event! But that would mean ... oh shit. Shit, shit, fucking fucking shit!

“David? Are you well? You appear to be in distress,” Arthur asked, seeing Dave’s face turn to one of panic.

“I ... Your Highness, there is something I must tell you about, something for your ears only. It is of vital importance.”

“Of course, but you must realize that Sir Bedivere is one of my oldest compatriots. Anything that must be said may be said in his presence.”

“Apologies, Your Highness, but I disagree, and I believe you will understand once I tell you what I have just now realized. If I am mistaken, you are welcome to bring Sir Bedivere back into the conversation, but in this moment, I must ask that you trust me,” Dave explained.

“I think we should hear what the boy has to say,” came a raspy voice from the shadows of the room.

The trio turned to see an older man, perhaps in his late sixties, entering through a back door to the laboratory. His gray hair was stringy and unkempt, giving him a ragged appearance. Despite his familiarity with the Arthurian Legend, Dave had no guess as to who this man could be. Soon, he had his answer.

“Good of you to join us, Merlin,” Arthur said with a smile.

Merlin!

“Arthur, in my judgment, there is no harm in granting the boy his request for the time being. It does seem that he wishes to convey something of great importance,” Merlin replied with a grin.

“Hmm ... if I know you, then you already know what he is going to say, do you not?” Arthur asked his old friend.

“Not precisely, no, but I have foreseen that a visitor from a strange land would come with a vital warning of our kingdom’s future.”

“I see ... Sir Bedivere, that will be all for now. I shall summon you once this business is concluded.”

“Yes, Sire.”

As Bedivere closed the door behind him, Dave said, “I did request that this be for your ears only, Your Highness.”

“I am aware, boy. However, you are in the presence of Merlin, the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever known. He is my oldest friend and my most trusted confidant. I have no secrets from him,” Arthur replied firmly.

“Believe me, young David, if the message you must convey to us is as important as my premonitions suggest, it is in all our best interests that I be present for this conversation,” Merlin agreed.

“Alright then, let me start from the beginning,” Dave said, taking a deep breath. “Your men believe me to hail from Brighton, but this is not the entire truth. My home is actually a far away land known as Atlanta.”

“Atlanta? Why then are you known as David of Brighton?” Arthur asked.

“My ancestors came from there, while I personally did not,” he replied.

“Ah, quite understandable. But surely this is not the mysterious message you must deliver, is it?”

“No, Your Highness. There is more.” Dave collected what little courage he had, knowing there was no going back. “You and all your citizens know it to be the year of our Lord 932, true?”

“Indeed,” Arthur replied, eying Dave with suspicion.

“In my homeland, we know it to be the year of our Lord... 2017.”

“What? What are you saying, boy?” Merlin whispered, approaching Dave with widened eyes.

“The truth is that I am not merely from a far away land. I am from another time.”

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