Emrys: Chapter 1 - Robert & The Strange Little Man

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Emrys: Chapter 1 - Robert & The Strange Little Man

Post by ZuluEchoNovember » Fri Jan 08, 2010 1:24 am

In the 7th century A.D. Earth's Master Mage was the legendary Myrddin Emrys (historically remembered as Merlin). Most tales incorrectly state that he was betrayed by his lover and imprisoned under a rock or tree for all eternity. This was not the case.

With the fall of Camelot, Merlin's plans of forging a new world of peace, magic and light was defeated. To preserve what remained of his dream, Merlin decided to take the body of his fallen king, the legendary Arthur, into a region of the magic realm of Faerie called Avalon where the king would remain untouched by time until the day he would be called upon to rise again. To accomplish this required a great sacrifice. Merlin himself would have to travel into Avalon and remain there until the fateful day of Arthur's resurrection. The spells required to create that secure pocket in time and inter-dimensional space could only be accomplished by the perpetual efforts of a Master Mage.

Merlin's dedication and courage were beyond reproach, but one thing kept him from enacting his plan: love. His lover and apprentice Nimue had been cursed by Morgan LeFey with a spell that would kill her should she ever enter Avalon. Merlin could not remove the powerful curse nor could he bring himself to leave his love behind on Earth. He was torn by indecision as his window for action grew ever smaller.

In an act of sacrifice, Nimue cast the spell herself that would send the king's tomb across the veil into Avalon forcing Merlin's hand. He had no choice then but to follow and begin his eternal maintenance of Arthur's resting place or else the king would be lost forever. Nimue gave her love one last kiss and then pushed Merlin away into the portal. He cried out in grief, never taking his eyes off her, as the worlds parted. As the veil closed she said to him with hand upon her stomach, "Be strong, my love, for one day a boy will make the journey across the worlds to find you, and when you meet him you will know him to be your son."

Nine months later a child was born, and to protect him from evil forces that would try to steal the son of Merlin, the boy was left upon the doorstep of a cottage belonging to Saxon peasants in the small kingdom of Fife. The peasant farmers had always wanted a child but been unable to have one of their own, so they took the boy in and named him Robert.

Though his foster parents loved him and provided for him the best they could, Robert grew to be a troublesome and eccentric child. For instance, Robert claimed that the farm animals spoke to him. When confronted about telling lies he refused to concede and was sent to bed without supper. Though his foster parents never quite believed him, they always wondered about the mysterious appearance of their little foundling.

On his fourteenth birthday, Robert had wandered into the forest to listen to the animals tell him stories, and in a quiet clearing he discovered a little man wearing a funny hat.

"Hello," greeted Robert as he walked up to where the little man was digging something out of the ground.

"Stay back! It's mine! I found it!" shouted the funny little man. He brandished his tiny shovel in a way that Robert thought was almost menacing. But not quite.

"What did you find?"

"Promise not to tell if I show ya?"

"Meh. What if it's just a rock? Probably just a rock."

"Ya think I'd care 'bout a dumb rock? No way, this is interesting. Look!"

Robert approached him and peered the little man's hands. Cupped in the little man's palm was a silver key.

"Wow. What does it open?" asked Robert curiously.

"Whattaya mean what does it open? It opens anything. It's a magic key!" replied the little man. He scrunched up his nose at Robert and glared.

"Well, sorry. I didn't know. I've never seen one before," spat back Robert.

"S'okay, kid. Wouldn't expect a farmboy to know much, but you seem bright. I'll trade it to you if you've got anything worth it."

"Like you said, I'm just a poor farmboy. All I have is my name, and I doubt it's worth much."

"Wow, what a deal!" he squeeled. "Tell me your name, and the key is yours."

"Uh, what?" Robert was puzzled by this, but he really wanted the key. So, he told the strange little man his name. "It's Robert."

The little man dropped the key into Robert's hand with a triumphant look on his face.

"HA! I've got your name! It's MINE now. Thanks, kid!" The little man danced around waving his hat in the air above his head.

"Whatever. I've got others."

The little man stopped in mid step, but his dance had been fairly energetic. His momentum carried him forward to land on his face. It didn't seem to phase him.


"Yeah, the animals call me something else. I'll just go by that now."

"Robert isn't your real name?"

"I guess not. My parents, I mean the people that I call mom and dad, well, they aren't my real mom and dad. I guess my real name is something else."

"What is it?"

"Nope. Not telling. Nice try though."

"Awww, fiddlesticks. Fine, you tricked me fair and square. Keep the key."

"Thanks. What's your name?"

The little man smirked. "Well, thanks to you, I've finally got one. Sure wish it had been something a little more fun than 'Robert' though."

"Well, sometimes people called me Robin. That's a form of Robert."

The newly christened Robin's face lit up. "I like it! Robin it is. Excellent work, kid. Robin. Robin. Good name for a fellow like me. Robin."

Robin repeated his name several more times rolling the syllables off his tongue with a big smile. The boy rolled his eyes and looked around the meadow. At the far side, a strange light filtered through the leaves and danced off the tree trunks.

"What's that?" he asked interrupting Robin's repetitive rambling.

"Faerie, of course. Geez, kid, don't you know anything?"

The boy scratched his head. "Not as much as I'd like to, but I'm a fast learner."

"Well, kid, I like ya. So, as show of thanks for the name how's 'bout a short tour of Faerie? You know, to open the eyes a bit to all ya been missin' out on growing up on a farm."

"Really? Is it safe?"

"With me. Definitely." Robin paused and squinted an eye. "Well, mostly. But I'll do my best to keep ya out of harm's way."

The boy smiled. This was the adventure he'd been waiting for all his life. Even if it was dangerous, it was still better than the boring farm. Following Robin into the trees was the easiest seven steps he'd ever taken.

The sights and sounds, creatures and colors were so amazing that the boy lost complete track of time. Robin showed him magnificent castles in magical forests. Tiny winged women flitted about their heads and animals talked to them. They spoke not like the animals in the forest near the boy's home talked in their chittering, chirping, growling language, but in plain English. After what seemed like days of sightseeing Robin and the boy came upon a huge hill.

"Oops. Not supposed to come here. Sorry, kid. Must have taken a wrong turn at the last apple tree. C'mon, let's head back this way."

"No, wait. There's something strange about this place."

"Says the farmboy from Britain on his first trip to Faerie."

"No, this place is... different. Special."

"Right. And dangerous. We shouldn't be here. C'mon, let's go."

"You go if you want," muttered the boy as he began walking towards a cleft in the hillside. As he got closer he realized the hole was supported by a stone arch. It was a doorway cut into the hill leading deep within. Something about it called to him. He ignored Robin's whining behind him and crawled inside.

"Kid! What are you doing! Aww, this isn't good. If you get killed it isn't my fault. You hear me? It isn't my -Aww, kid, don't make a liar out of me. I said I'd keep you out of harm's way!"

Robin's plaintive yelling became faint and hollow as the boy crawled through the deepening darkness of the tunnel. A dim light began to show ahead, and as he continued forward it grew brighter and brighter.

The boy finally found himself in a huge cavern. It's sides were layered with sparkling crystals. Stalactites of diamond hung from the ceiling to meet stalagmites of emerald growing from the floor. In the center, on a pedestal of ruby and a bed of furs, lay a bearded man with a crown of gold upon his brow.

A voice echoed through the chamber. "My, my. A visitor. How unexpected. No one has come to see me for a very long time."

It was male and deep. There was authority behind every word that resonated through the sparkling cave. The boy tried to hide from the speaker but found that he couldn't tell where the voice was coming from, so he simply cowered behind an emerald pillar.

"And who might you be, young man, to come so far to see a fallen king?"

"My name... my name is... people used to call me Robert, but... but I traded the name to a strange little man for a key."

"Not a very good trade. Now you don't have a name."

"No," said the boy a little louder. He was beginning to gain back his courage. There was something about the voice that was both frightening and reassuring at the same time. It was a powerful voice but gentle and reassuring. "I have another name."

"Oh? And what is that? Don't worry. You won't lose this one too if you tell me. I promise."

"It's... well, nobody knows it except the animals. It's what they call me when I talk to them in the forest."

"You talk to the animals?" The voice seemed genuinely curious.

"Yes. No one believes me that I do, but it's true."

There was a long pause, and then the voice spoke again. This time though it did not reverberate around the cavern. Instead it came from a singular source, and as the boy peeked out from behind his emerald pillar he saw a man standing beside the alter of the king. He was bald with a long white beard, but the lines on his face didn't make him look old. His robes fell from slender shoulders to the sapphire floor in uncountable folds.

"What is your name, boy?"

The boy stepped out into the crystal cave and faced the man.

"My name is Emrys," he said in the clearest and proudest voice ever mustered by a boy of fourteen.

The robed man smiled under his mustache.

"A pleasure to meet you, Emrys."

"Hello." It was all the boy could think to say except to ask, "And, um, who are you?"

"It appears my name was given to someone else."

"Huh. I guess that happens more than I thought. Too bad about losing your name."

"Oh, I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. It's in good hands."

"Okay, I guess. If you say so."

"I do. Now, I think it's time you went and found your way home. As wonderful as it was to receive this visit from you, Faerie can be a very dangerous place for those not accustomed to traveling between worlds. And keep that name safe, Emrys."

"Yes, sir. Can I come back someday?"

"Oh, I insist. Please do."

"Okay. Bye."

Young Emrys crawled back into the darkness of the tunnel towards the opening in the hill and the fretting Robin. Behind him in the crystal tomb of King Arthur, his father wiped a tear from his eye and whispered, "Goodbye, son."
Characters and concepts: Z.E.N. Buildism
FCU Fiction: Oliver's Story

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Re: Emrys: Chapter 1 - Robert & The Strange Little Man

Post by Michuru81 » Sat Jan 09, 2010 10:54 pm

At one point in the thread for Oliver Smith's tale, you said something along the lines of not usually being a writer. I just wanted to pop in and say that you're a liar: not only are you very much a writer, you are a very good writer. I've been privileged to follow Oliver's journey and am excited to see what you have in store for Emrys. Keep 'em coming, ZEN and I'll keep coming back for more.

Posts: 503
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:17 am

Re: Emrys: Chapter 1 - Robert & The Strange Little Man

Post by ZuluEchoNovember » Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:51 pm

That's very kind. I'm a little embarrassed by such praise. Thank you.
Characters and concepts: Z.E.N. Buildism
FCU Fiction: Oliver's Story