The Once And Future King

The warrior king set foot upon the verdant ground of his native Britain. For too long had he slept on that enchanted isle called Avalon, waiting, watching for the time that he would once again be needed by his people. They called him “the once and future king” but that “once” had been so long ago. For more than a thousand years had he waited patiently for his moment to come again, when he would return and light the way for Britannia in her darkest hour of need.

He felt her sweet, lush grass beneath his iron-clad feet, he sensed the ancient magicks which flowed through this land rush back into him. He was home at last and his people needed him. He felt the weight of that most ancient of swords, Excalibur, sheathed inside its scabbard, hanging from his belt. It felt good against his thigh, it felt ready to mete out justice and dispense a reckoning upon all of Britain’s enemies.

The weight of the task ahead of him weighed heavy on his heart. He knew that he could no longer call on the aid of his old mentor, the ancient wizard Merlin, who had long since departed from this realm. His knights too, those ever faithful comrades in arms, had all been dead for a thousand years. Cai, Bors, Bedwyr, they were all gone, their bones long since turned to dust and become one with the land beneath his feet. His heart filled with sadness as his thoughts turned to Gwenhwyfar, his love, who had been lost to him so long ago. The centuries had not dulled the pain of her betrayal.

This was not, however, a time for reflection and self pity. He steeled himself, he remembered why he had returned. Darkness was upon the land and only he could restore the light. Only he, Arthur, King of the Britons, could lead his people to freedom!

A loud crack rand out across the field as the warrior king sank to his knees. He looked down at his armour and saw a small, perfectly round hole in the centre of his chest plate. He wondered at the sensation of pain radiating out from the centre of his being as he toppled, unceremoniously, face first into the mud.

“Some loony wandered onto the battlefield, sarge,” said the teenage conscript as he reloaded his rifle.

“That’s the problem with Britain these days, son,” the sergeant replied, “it’s full of idiots with delusions of grandeur. Where did all the heroes go?”

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Ian Sharman
Ian is a freelance writer and artist. He founded Orang Utan Comics Studio with Peter Rogers in 2006, writes for their Eagle Award Nominated anthology Eleventh Hour and regularly inks for Panini’s Marvel Heroes comic.
Ian Sharman

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