The Incarnations: The Mortal King Chapter 2

Chapter Two: The Sword in the Stone

Legends say many things. Few agree, being of many number. Camelot is no different, and neither is the sword. Little do mortals know of how the blade came to be where it sits, as a select Incarnal few do.

But that does not stop the stories. The sword that fell from the Heavens to be used by the lost king to free the helpless and enslaved. A bit of an embellishment maybe, it hasn’t happened yet, and maybe the details aren’t quite so true, but that is how predictions work.

This has led many to believe, or more so hope among the Camaleonians, that the sword is a punishment. One specifically sent down by the Incarnal gods above to strike fear into the dogs who dare to rise above their station. An instrument of Honor, and a tool for War.

There’s no truth to any of it, ask the once proud owner and she’ll tell anyone herself how she lost it in battle.

A mere accident.

How strange it must seem, especially to Arthur to watch people from near and far, for fame and out of fear, by choice and without, come to see if they can pull the sword from stone. 

There’s a line that surrounds the golden sword which shines through the darkest of nights and the foggiest of days. Cameloanian peasant and Lupian middle-class alike wait in line at the behest of the holders of Tintagel. 

For nearly two decades the power in Tintagel have sought to find someone worthy to lift the sword, and for nearly two decades they have failed. Every early spring and late winter the water from the river lowers and people line up again to try and lift the sword hidden under the lake’s floor.

Arthur watches on every year, never succumbing to the call of Honor, never succumbing… to Caliburn.

Watching outcasts from both races, thin and frail try to lift the sword and fail, is humorous. Watching a Cameloanian and Lupian both place their hands on the sword and try to lift together is a fine treat allowed by the Tintagel wolves. It’s their way of brightening their spirits, giving themselves and the people they control someone to laugh at. 

The silver streak in Arthur’s blonde hair flaps like it always has. It’s fun to watch members of both of Camelot’s native species fail together. If only his friends were as infatuated with the failures before them, they might learn something. 

“Magic is an art of philosophy,” Arthur can hear Morgaine saying again, “that’s what my aunts told me. It’s only powerful when you are fighting with what you believe in.” He sighs and turns around to watch his naturalist companion scolding a not-so anything lad on the power of magic. 

“Lancelot,” she repeats his full name with her fists on her hips, “are you even listening to me?”

From his place on the ground against a tree, a light blond boy places more attention on the cheruple fruit he’s eating than the pale-faced girl yelling at him. 

“Of course, I am,” he says with an open stretch of his arms, “you always have my attention,” purposely winking to a euphemism he hasn’t actually made. In her disgusted groan, he shrugs his way to the subject. “Now what you’re saying about magic, that’s a different story. Sounds a lot like a load of horse crap. What does it matter what your principles are when a sword is swinging your way?” 

“How barbaric of you,” Morgaine scorns, her nose curling as if his foul words had a stench to them. “Magic is more than fighting!” she claims, unintentionally hitting a contention point for the indolent boy. 

Arthur watches them, barely a foot from arm’s length but blind to them both. From atop his tree stump, he rests his chin in his hand. “Oh, here it goes,” knowing Morgaine will have spurned Lancelot now.

“Fighting’s everything!” Lancelot counterclaims, sitting up, shaking his fist, making expressions both contorted and obnoxious to match the way Morgaine looks at him. “Maybe a little girl like you has never noticed, but fighting is the only way you can change everything!” 

Morgaine opens her mouth to retort as air flows into Lancelot’s hand so he can continue, but they’re both stomped by the giggle of a pig. They stop, turn their faces that are already close enough that they could kiss, to find Arthur. He’s chuckling at them, and their brows burrow.

“Something funny, Arty?” Lancelot poses the question to his friend as he clambers up to his feet. He stands to look down at Arthur, and suddenly Morgaine has to look up.

“Don’t you mean change anything?” Arthur asks, turning away his hand for a bit of inquisitive staring.

Lancelot turns bug-eyed. “What?” probably confused, “What are you saying, Arty?” Definitely confused.

“Don’t call him that,” Morgaine tells Lancelot, knocking her crossed arms into his shoulder as she does it. 

“I’m the only one who does anymore, I have to,” he’s quick to retort, which prompts her to be even quicker with her look to Arthur. Without hesitation, she sends a forced smile Arthur’s way that he returns before she finds Lancelot smirking at her. She elbows him again.

“You mean change ‘anything,’” Arthur says before the two devolve into another glaring contest. “Lancel, no one really wants to change everything. There’s always something to like about the world, it doesn’t matter if it’s a small fraction of a great thing everyone else hates.”

Lancelot holds his breath at the many words Arthur sent his way. Arthur tends to catch him off guard like that. Arthur’s boyish look tends to make Lancelot forget how much thinking goes on in his head.

“Um, okay, sir philosopher,” Lancelot chargins with a shrug, taking the easy route of making big ideas sound dumb, “magic, got any opinions on that?”

“Arthur,” Morgaine says his name with assumed agreement, “please tell these imbecile that it’s important to fight with principles, not every fight is with swords!” She overreacts just as much as Lancelot does, throwing her hands in the air to rant about the eye-rolling lad beside her. “You know, if he knew half as much about principle as he does about wiping his own ass he’d wouldn’t be such an idiot.

“Hmm, I don’t know much about magic, Morg,” Arthur admits, his shrug feeling less +dismissive than admittive, “or much about swords…” he says with the same energy to Lancelot.

But despite claiming to know little, he turns to the golden sword with a deeper sense of knowledge than either of his companions. “The only thing I know, is that thing has gotta be a bit of both.”

Lancelot squints at Arthur’s strange response to his question. “Did you just call the sword in the stone a thing? It has a name, Caliburn.”

“Caliburn, that doesn’t feel right,” Arthur mutters, this sense that it was once called something else stirring in his stomach, “but whatever.” He shrugs more like Lancelot than before, pointing and drawing his friends eyes to the sword in the empty lake.

Morgaine and Lancelot both come at his beck without realizing it, but it makes Arthur fight against a smirk. “Watch the Lupians force man after man to try and pull it up-”

“Maybe they’d have better luck if they tested more than just feeble men,” Morgaine mumbles, though not in anyway synonymous with silence.

“Maybe,” Arthur agrees, paying it far less importance and heed than Lancelot or Morgaine.

“Don’t patronize her,” Lancelot tells the boy beside him.

“Pig,” Morgaine calls Lancelot on instinct.

“Winger,” he retorts back, the two bringing a heavy sigh across Arthur’s face.

“Can you two please? You asked me the question.” Arthur he can only find their incessant bickering amusing for so long, and reminding them of that embarrasses them into momentary silence. 

Emphasis on momentary. 

“Thank you. Back to Caliburn, it’s a sword, it’s full of magic, the Lupians say it came from the hands of the Madam of Honor herself-“

“Anything coming from our overlord dogs is bullshit,” Lancelot is quick to snap.

“For once we agree,” Morgaine adds.

Arthur rolls his eyes, finding their agreement to be just his luck before he tries to continue. He gestures back to the men in line, the salient soldiers of the General and their salivating officers. They all come for the same thing, power, but from a sword that seemed to have come from a goddess is a different kind of power. 

To Arthur, “It just all sounds as ridiculous as the idea that it fell from the sky and was placed there by some lady in a lake. But to the point that you both keep interrupting… 

“It’s magic, I can feel it in my bones, I can feel it’s call in my bones as anyone does when they stand even a mile from it.”

“You’re the only one who won’t get used to it,” Lancelot likes to tell him.

Yes,” the golden boy agrees, “because it’s clearly very powerful, not even the science that crossed stars could free it from a rock!

“Maybe science isn’t so powerful,” Morgaine suggests, “maybe it isn’t anything next to magic.”

Lancelot jumps on her words, suggesting, “And it’s in the form of a sword, it’s the whole point of magic, war!”

Arthur shakes his head. How many times can he shake his head, wag his finger, and preach to these two before they see what he sees? How long before he realizes that they must be shown and not told? 

Look at Caliburn,” he asks of them, as another tries and fails to pull out the sword, “it has all the power, people come from across the planet hoping they can wield it. Lupians, rebels, every lord and lady bends when they just think they can wield it. They fight just to hold a fraction of what it can do in their hands. 

Yet, it never moves… it’s never been used to fight. It’s a sword, you’d think it’s meant for war, but without ever being drawn its…. I just…” Even Arthur becomes lost in what he’s trying to say. He’s on the edge of something great, but he can’t just figure out what it is yet. “Caliburn, whatever it’s supposed to be, whatever it’s supposed to mean… it makes me think that magic, weapons, all of it, it’s all something more… you can’t just put something like magic into two categories.”

Morgaine, absolutely enthralled by the golden boy, praises his words however he struggled to say them. “Well said.”

“Eh, sounds like a cop out,” Lancelot says, finding the idea of there being no answer insufficient. How can there be no answer, he wonders, a being without the ability to avoid all that.

Morgaine plays at the conundrum he finds. “You would say that.”

Lancelot shakes his head and sneers, “You would say that.

Before they can go at it again, Arthur laughs into his hands, “Have I ever told you that I love you two?”

Neither is quite fazed by the sudden admittance. Lancelot goes so far as to retort, “Far too often.”

“Why are you such a brute?” Morgaine chides Lancelot, fists on hips. “Arthur’s being nice and you’re putting him down for it.”

“I’m only jesting,” Lancelot pleads with a calming motion towards her, “calm your tits.”

Morgaine’s nose flies high up her face. The sharp black marking lines across her cheek ripple with her deep seated rage. 

As the golden markings streaking down Arthur’s cheeks turn pale, he warns Lancelot, “She’s going to kill you now.”

Morgaine agrees, as the magic of her Le Fay blood turns her dark facial markings green. “I am going to kill you now.”

Lancelot starts backing away, teasing her one last time, “Only if you believe in it really hard!” In the next moment he’s running and she’s chasing after him, her skirt barely impeding her chase.

As he stands up, not quite so fast to follow them back towards town, Arthur repeats, “I love those two.”

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