Arthur disentangled himself from the brambles and took a few
It had been a long drop but, fortunately, the bush had broken
his fall. And though he seemed to have lost his lance in thewhatever
had happenedhe still had his sword at his side, andhe
reached up and touched his headhe had his helmet and gauntlets.
The dragon had disappeared, moving northwards (judging from
the position of the sun), which meant that it was heading away
from Camelot, and that gave him time to regroup his men, and
Where are my knights? Where is...
Merlin, you useless clod, where are you?
He heard a groan, and turned to investigate.
The least of his knights was lying in his very own patch of
bramble, open-eyed but clearly winded, and barely able to move.
Looking at him, Arthur suddenly remembered another man...
Yes, I fell towards a man on horseback!
He looked around.
The terrain seemed strangely unfamiliarblackened trees
had somehow transformed themselves into a frosty glade, with
a ridge of steep hills to the Northbut he could see the
man, lying beside his mount.
Magnificent beast, he thought. And it looks for all
the world as though it is standing guard over him.
Removing his helmet and gauntlets, Arthur approached, talking
softly to the horse, which pawed the ground nervously as he
came closer. Im not going to hurt him, he
said, gently. Im just going to see if I can help.
To his surprise, the creature seemed to understand, and moved
a few steps backwards.
Arthur knelt down and examined its master.
It is time to get some answers.
He was a strange-looking fellowtall and willowy, with
long, silky hair as pretty as any girls. Arthur pulled
aside his grey-green cloak, noticing that it had been blackened
in places by dragon fire, and laying his hand upon his chest,
he felt for a heartbeat.
Good, he murmured.
Then he slid a hand under the mans head and lifted it.
His face was disturbingly beautiful, his features perfectly
even, his eyelashes long and dark against his fair skin, hisArthur
gaspedhis ears were pointed!
Instantly, Arthur remembered the stories he had been told as
a childof babies stolen, of runaways returning to find
that centuries had passed in a matter of months, of strong men
made frail by elfshot, of lovely women turned imbecile by water
Whatever this thing is, he thought, dropping its head
(and absently wiping his hand upon his surcoat), it reeks
of sorcery. He reached for his sword
Sire! yelled Bors, and the terror in the
mans voice made Arthurs heart lurch.
A surging ball of flame, a whirlwind of fire, was rolling towards
him, eating everything in its path.