Isle of Apples

To the north lay the deserts, the sands of time through which, if you listened carefully, you could now and then hear the rattle of phantom trains passing through. He never went that far north now, not anymore. It had been five years since he, along with a good number of other unfortunates, had found themselves here, pawns of the manipulative Authoress and her attempt to alter destiny. Nimue, they had said her true name was, yet Merlin Seno, once known as the armoured hero, Magus, had long since abandoned the idea that creatures such as she was, creatures as old as she was, truly had one definitive name that you might call them by.

Five years, he thought, standing upon the edge of the gardens, the sand of the vast desert before him billowing up and dancing in the air before him. When Adam and Eve had been cast out of Eden, so the story went, G-d had placed behind them a desert waste, and stationed the great behemah before it so that they could never return. That was the story he had been told, at least, though perhaps, like the true name of the Authoress, there was the possibility that there was no true definitive telling of such a tale.

This world, this mote of existence, had been fading away since the moment the Authoress had abandoned it, more of the lush grass and the apple groves reclaimed by the endless, northern deserts with each day. One day, Merlin knew that the sands of time would take it all, that eventually the whole isle would sink back into the substance from which it came, yet until such a time finally came, he felt compelled to remain, to hope that one day, someone strong enough would break through and either awaken the king who lay slumbering here, or perhaps take up his mighty sword and lead in his stead.

What would such a man be like, Merlin wondered; what kind of hero would such a man have to be to lift up Excalibur and use it to right all the countless wrongs that had come to pass since the sword and its owner had been interred within the gardens of Avalon?

He turned his attention to his own blade, rooted in the grass between the apple trees these many years, once jokingly known as Excalipoor. What kind of blade would Excalibur prove to be, he thought; what great power was hidden with that lost monarch that the Authoress had hidden it away here at the very edge of time?

Perhaps such things had been special then, he thought, reaching into his pocket and drawing out the chunky shape of his phone, a scratched, silver picture of an apple on the back, and looked down at the beaten and cracked screen. There should have been no reception outside of time, no signal for him to receive, yet the true secret of magic was in forcing things to happen in places where they should not, and, as such, the device still worked after all these years, its reception perhaps better than when he had still been on Earth.

At random, over the last month or so, he had found himself engrossed in the Instragram feed of one girl, a young lady named Sudo Mei, who seemed to have some bizarre connexion to a number of armoured heroes he had not seen the like of before. He couldn't remember how he had discovered her on the internet, and she had never replied to any of his missives, and yet still he found himself fixated upon the blurry, poorly shot videos and photographs she posted of men in vibrant armour, their blades clattering against the shapes of unruly, unknowable creatures.

What would the Authoress have made of such a thing, he wondered; what would that smug and ancient child, the enchantress, Nimue, have made of heroes who had taken up their swords with no knowledge of what had passed before them, and of little care for those who had fought so many similar battles and worn such similar armour?

Perhaps she would not have cared, he thought sadly, but he knew that he did, and at once he felt both terribly sad, and terribly lonely also, feeling the awful weight of his isolation these past few years.

"Kurogane," he said aloud, his voice soft and unfamiliar.

The wind of the desert stirred once more

"Kurogane," he said again, calling out the names of his lost friends, "Kazama, Rocket, Genki, Senkai, Zack, Josh."

In that moment, he hoped against hope that whatever kind of hero it was that found their way to this lonely, fading island within time, that when they came for the sword of the king, they would come also for him too.

He closed his eyes, and still the wind howled, and the desert stirred. In his heart, he knew they would not.

A/N: Merlin Seno created by Timelordkid ~ u/4006703