The Ship Has Sailed
It wasn't a secret that Uther Pendragon was severely ill. Healers had come from far and wide claiming to possess the ability to cure the King, however none succeeded. Many months had passed without any signs of the King recovering and the people of Camelot were beginning to suspect there were none, especially with the rumour that Uther had under a year to live. Nevertheless whispers were exchanged by the people that there was a way to cure any illness and could save the King from death.
However it would mean using the one thing that Uther despised. Magic.
The King's heir didn't seem to find this a problem and was soon spreading the word that he was in need of a crew to travel with him across water and land to find this cure that could save his Father. Many knew it would be a dangerous journey, that not everyone would make it and whoever did would be rewarded for their efforts. That hadn't stopped people from signing up to be a part of the crew and Camelot had every confidence that they'd find what they were looking for.
That was why it was only a few days later when a crew was assembled and a ship was filled with supplies, enough to keep them going for weeks. It was unknown how long it would take until they'd return and the Prince had enough money on him to buy more provisions if they were close to running out.
Now it was simply a race against time.
"This is Aulfric and he'll be the captain aboard this vessel. He has sailed the open water for many years and is believed to be the best," Gaius introduced the Prince to the man stood behind the wheel and Arthur took in his appearance. He was a fairly old man and yet stood tall like he owned the ground he walked on. There was no doubt in his mind that this man could handle himself at sea but if he thought that the crowned Prince was going to call him captain he had another thing coming.
Arthur gave a small smile in acknowledgement and followed after Gaius who lead him towards the rest of the crew who were lined up on the main deck. He didn't make it very far since his attention was taken by the fact Morgana was slowly making her way up the ramp and onto the boat. "Where do you think you're going?" He asked.
"I'm coming with you," she simply stated and came to a stop when Arthur blocked her way onto the ship. "Do you really expect me to just sit around in the castle all day and wait for your return? It's going to be dangerous out there and you may need my help."
"Your help? Since when have I ever needed your help?"
Morgana smiled in a way that told him she was laughing inwardly about his obvious dislike of the idea of him needing anybodies help and swiftly brushed past him to take a look at the crew herself. His question unanswered. A quiet "My Lord" was said as Gwen followed after Morgana and Arthur pinched the bridge of his nose, willing himself not to lose his temper on the first day. He didn't have time to waste and making Morgana do something she didn't want to do was close to impossible. If she wanted to come on this journey then she would.
"Sire," Aulfric came to stand beside him. "I have some ideas on where we can start in looking for this cure, shall we discuss it privately?" Regrettably until Arthur got to know the crew they couldn't be trusted with information on what they were looking for and would be sailing on pure faith that their Prince knew where they were heading. Luckily for him there were many who were willing to follow their Prince blindly. With a small nod in agreement, Arthur lead the way and soon found himself looking down at a map.
"Where do you believe this cure is then?"
"That is unknown even to me but I believe I know of a person who can tell us," Aulfric came to stand on the other side of the desk and pointed to a small island in the middle open water. There wasn't land for miles around. "It is said there is only one who has ever seen the-"
"We shan't speak its name until later into the journey, you never know who's listening."
"Very well. As I was saying, the cure is only known by one man and he can be found on this island. He has never been seen by a living soul and none travel to the island in fear of never leaving."
"Then who's to say this man exists and that he knows of a cure for the King?" Arthur asked as he looked up from the map.
"If you don't mind me saying Sire but we're already looking for something based on a rumour, this is the only lead we have on its whereabouts. Either we seek out this man or we roam the open water in hopes of hearing more stories of where we can find it. It's up to you."
Arthur frowned a little and stared down at the map, knowing that they couldn't just travel around clueless. If this man knew something then Arthur was going to find out what it was. "Are there no others on the island that can help us search for this man? There's only a few of us and it could take days to cover that amount of land."
"There are no others that I know of on the island but I'm sure he'll know we're looking for him when we get there, he doesn't get many visitors I hear." Aulfric had a nervous glint in his eye and Arthur knew there was something he wasn't telling him, however he found he didn't want to ask. He'd rather not know something that could stop him finding the cure for his father. "Shall we set sail for the island then Sire? It will take us a few days to get there if the wind remains in our favour."
"Just get us there as quickly as possible."
Aulfric gave a small dip of the head as he left the room and Arthur fell into his chair, his head quickly finding a place in his hands as he stared down at the map he wasn't really focusing on anymore. Truth be told Arthur was tired of keeping up appearances around everyone. Nobody knew just how bad Uther's health had gotten in the past few weeks. He was getting desperate and would resort to anything to find a cure, even if it meant using magic which his father was against.
This made his thoughts turn towards this man who supposedly knew about the cure. He was curious why this man was rumoured to live alone on the island and why no one went near it, was the man dangerous? Not that Arthur was worried, there was a reason why he was known as the toughest Knight in Camelot and it would take an almighty warrior to defeat him. Most men weren't even worth Arthur unsheathing his sword.
Arthur felt the ship shake a little as it was maneuvered away from the dock and he got to his feet, making his way over to the window to see the people of Camelot waving them off. The life of their King in the crew's hands. The thought instantly made him close the curtains and return to study the map in more detail, his intention to distract himself so he wouldn't think about Uther.
So with Camelot slowly becoming a dot on the horizon, the real journey was about to begin.
He watched from where he stood as some of the men worked off some steam by having duels against one another. Bets were placed and yelling filled the quiet ocean air as they encouraged one of the men to win, none of them had yet to impress their Prince. Unfortunately for him he'd left most of his best Knights back at the castle to protect Camelot in his absence, which meant he'd have to train the crew he did have to become better fighters and pick up anyone along the way that could help.
By the looks of it anyone would be better then the men fighting in front of him.
"You look disappointed Sire," a voice came from nearby and he turned his head to see one of the men looking in his direction.
"Unimpressed is the word I'd use," Arthur commented and looked back at the fight when a loud noise was made as one of the men managed to disarm their opponent. "We could be facing anything once we get to the island, let alone what could come afterwards, and you lot don't even understand the basics on how to handle and use a sword. I fear it will only be me returning to Camelot."
"Have you seen all the crew fight?" The man asked.
"I fear I'll regret the decision to leave Camelot if I see much more. Why, do you believe yourself better then them?" Arthur asked now with a little interest that someone would think so highly of themselves. Maybe there was some hope after all. The man responded with a small nervous nod and Arthur smiled in return, deciding it was time to show everyone how a real swordsman dueled.
Without asking the crew parted and left an open space in the center of the gathering, it felt oddly exhilarating to be holding a sword after three days of planning in a tiny room with a handful of people. As his hand gripped his sword Arthur smiled and turned to face the man who had unintentionally challenged him. "Ready?" He said as his opponent took a sword from a nearby man, his gaze shifting from Arthur to the people surrounding them.
"Whenever you are Sire," he politely replied and Arthur didn't need telling twice. He launched straight into offense and as to be expected it caused the man to take a step back from the force of his blows. The sound of their swords clanging together was the only thing heard as they maneuvered across the deck whilst trying to back each other into a corner and Arthur was inwardly impressed of this man's skill. However he didn't let it show and instead gave off the impression that it was taking little effort to do the moves he was. His legs moved in ways they hadn't before as the man pushed him to limits many hadn't in the past and Arthur knew if he didn't think of something he could very well lose.
However luck was apparently on his side today since the man's feet collided with a barrel and it gave Arthur his opening. With precision Arthur flicked his wrist a certain way and made his opponent drop his sword, a look of bewilderment across his face. It had been a quick duel but an interesting one. "You are a fine swordsman, what is your name?" Arthur asked as he held out his hand.
"Lancelot," he replied and their hands held firm as they shook.
"It's good to know I'll have someone to watch my back out there." There was a murmur of agreement as the crew realised just how badly they'd been dueling and a discussion was about to commence when Aulfric called for Arthur from the quarterdeck. Excusing himself, Arthur made his way quickly up the stairs and approached the older man. "What's the matter?" He asked because there was an expression across Aulfric's face that would make even the bravest men worried.
"Island straight ahead Sire, I suggest we drop anchor a few miles in and take a few men ashore. There is no point in all of us going when we don't know what to expect." Aulfric never let his gaze leave the island and Arthur finally turned to see what he was so afraid of. The moment he did Arthur felt a cold wave of fear go through him and the air seemed to drop in temperature. Just looking at the island made him feel tiny and insignificant, like anything he did wouldn't be a threat. "You should stay aboard the ship until we know it's safe."
"Trying to give me orders already Aulfric?" Arthur half heartedly teased as he made his way down onto the main deck to approach his crew. "I need four men willing to venture onto the island with me. Lancelot you are definitely coming, I need a man who knows how to wield a sword properly. Any other offers?"
"I'll go," Morgana suddenly spoke up from behind him and he turned to see her sat on one of the barrels, her dress she had worn to come onto the ship now replaced with more casual clothing that looked more suited for a man. "You know I can handle myself and I want to visit this island that no one has ever returned from. Could be fun."
"Don't be stupid Morgana, you're not coming. Father would kill me if he found out."
"Then we just won't tell him," she leapt gracefully from the barrel and managed to stay balanced as the ship made a jolt from the anchor holding the ship suddenly in place. "That's three of us, we only need one more."
"I will offer my services," a man spoke up and Morgana nodded. Apparently she was suddenly in charge of who was coming on their trip to shore. Before Arthur could get a word in a boat was lowered into the water and one by one they climbed down the step ladder to get into it, Arthur being last. With a sigh of annoyance, Arthur climbed down with ease and looked up to see Aulfric waving them off. The look of worry still across his face.
Little did the five explorers know that they were being watched and their arrival hadn't gone unnoticed.
The first part to a new story, always the toughest to write I find. Hopefully not a total failure. The chapters will become longer, this is just something to get things going.
This story I'm hoping to update weekly whilst exams are going on and once holidays begin updates will become more regular. Of course this all depends on whether people like it :) I find it oddly motivating to write when I get reviews, no pressure.
My two smaller stories will be finished, don't panic. Just wanted to get this out there to see the general opinion on the idea, otherwise I'll try another and forget this one. So PLEASE let me know what you think and whether I should keep going.
Hope you enjoyed and please review :) It'll cheer me up before my exam tomorrow