As it was customary for little children to nap during the day hours, it was normal for King Arthur Pendragon and Princess Myra Swann of Camelot to sit out on their favorite hill, overlooking the countryside beyond their kingdom. There was a wide expanse of lush grass that dipped towards a creek that divided the hill and a vast forest. Beyond the forest, there was nothing but golden sunlight while the sunset painted the world in its sweet glow.
Although Arthur and Myra were very good friends, they said nothing while this extraordinary sight occurred in front of them. No matter how many times they saw the England sunset, it never ceased to make marvels in their eyes. Arthur was in utter rapture, but there suddenly came a look in Myra's face that told the opposite.
Her eyes were following a V-shaped line of birds that glided off towards the sun. She squinted to watch them, only for the entire formation to vanish behind the glowing rays.
"Arthur, did you see those birds?" she blurted.
Arthur, still in a trance from the beautiful spectacle, didn't answer right away. But then he looked up at his friend, following her pointed finger.
"What birds?" he asked. "What kind do you think they were?"
"What's it matter about their kind?" Myra said with a laugh.
Arthur gave his friend a queer look, like he would to their wizard friend, Merlin, when he was giving a particularly strange lecture about some obscure subject. "You've got that look, Myra," he said cautiously. "What is it?"
Myra leaned back in the grass, pointing out towards the sun that the birds had passed. "I was thinking of what it would be like to fly that high in the sky, like the birds do. You know, not like when Merlin transformed us into fireflies. They can only go so high."
"I don't know what's wrong with asking Merlin," Arthur said. "I think he'd be more than happy to turn us into eagles or something of that kind."
"No, no he wouldn't," Myra agreed. "But…"
Arthur snorted out a laugh. "Come on, Myra. Don't leave me hanging!"
Myra shook her head, though her expression was still as thoughtful as ever. "You can be certain, Arthur, that I'm concocting something. But, it's something kind of out of the ordinary."
Arthur laughed. "When has anything about you or Merlin ever been ordinary?"
Myra chuckled in reply. "Yes, that's true," she said. "But think about it. What if, instead of flying in the form of any given bird, we flew on some kind of object? Like taking a ride, instead of flying by our own wings…"
Arthur responded with the same queer look as before, except he stretched it out towards the twilit horizon. He too leaned back in the grass, keeping his gaze still. Myra leaned closer with interest; she knew that this was Arthur's way of saying he was thinking.
"All right," he said, seeming to brighten up at Myra's idea. "But…just what would you fly on?"
"A whole bunch of things," Myra said. "How about we use our imaginations a little, and think of things that maybe we could sit on, stand on—just fly on."
With that, the two friends put their heads to the ground, laying back to look at the coming stars, wondering if perhaps soon they would fly towards them.
The following day appeared as grand as the previous. Myra and Arthur spoke little of their flying idea at breakfast, mostly because Myra was interested in making this a secret endeavor. And besides, they were stuffing their faces too full of cinnamon strudel to make conversation anyway.
They commenced their normal routines soon after, in which Arthur, Myra, and Merlin went into the library for daily lessons. For one part, Merlin was to teach Myra and Arthur the ideas and rules of being unusually young royals and, for another, Merlin would teach Myra magic. But if Merlin was like a calm master when it came to the subject, then Myra was like a tiger set to pounce at anything the wizened old man could teach her. She bounded to and fro with her magic power, setting sparkles and smoke every which way.
Although now, Myra's heart wasn't in working her magic prowess. While it was fun, she couldn't help but consider the notion she had proposed to Arthur yesterday—that they go for a flight. The idea had some deep merit to it, and she found that the more she considered it, the more she loved it. She remembered the rare dreams she had from early childhood when she would fly higher than the strongest bird, and not ever getting tired. In those instances, she had felt like she was on top of the world, like nothing could ever touch her, and that she would never come down. At least, until the morning sun brought her out of slumber.
Well now, it was possible for her and Arthur to do so! But there was just one problem.
Myra still hadn't thought of what object she could enchant to bring her and Arthur on their flight.
With every turn of her body, Myra observed every object she found in the library. There seemed to be hundreds of contenders for such a role. It would have to be sturdy enough to support both their weights, would be comfortable to sit on, and couldn't carry too much mass—the smaller the object, the easier it would be for her to enchant, and the longer the spell could last.
She thought to herself continually while she looked about—first at the study table where Arthur sat with a book, and then the chairs. Her first thought was to enchant the table so she and Arthur could sit on it, but when she pictured them flying on it, she just couldn't see it working; the same with the chairs, because they wouldn't be flying together on the same one. Besides, the table could easily be seen in the sky, and she didn't want to draw too much attention to their flight, even at twilight.
When at last Myra could catch her breath, she slid into the chair beside Arthur. "So, have you been thinking about it?" she asked in whispers.
"I have, in fact," Arthur whispered. He slid out a piece of paper from under his book, and Myra was surprised at the amount of notes he had written down—even more so that they all matched her thoughts.
"Good, that's good," Myra noted. "Great minds think alike, I see."
Arthur nodded, as he pointed out each note. "Well, it's obvious that we can't use anything in here. Merlin might find it missing, and goodness knows what he'll do then."
Myra frowned, pinching the bridge of her nose between her fingers. She got up from her chair, and started for the section of books that focused solely on the supernatural arts. There, she found a book of basic charms, and brought it back to the table, where she started turning the pages to find the right spell. Arthur followed her, leaning closer, his eyes ever widening.
"A-HA!" Myra exclaimed when she found the spell. Smoothing out the pages, both she and Arthur read the instructions, and the supposed results.
"Looks like the right spell to me," said Arthur.
"Right," Myra agreed. "But casting a spell like this will take precise care. If it's done right, only then will we have optimal strength for flying." She sighed, leaning her hand in her palm. "I cannot wait until I'm as experienced as Merlin and I can cast magic at the drop of a hat."
"At the rate you practice, Myra, I think you can still cast magic before a dropped hat touched the ground," Arthur said reassuringly. "And anyway, this is going to be fun!"
"Yes," said Myra. "But first, we'll have to do a little exploring. We have to find the right object that can endure this adventure."
After lessons, Myra and Arthur went on an exploration of the castle. They split up, each of them taking a different part of the castle, keeping in mind the requirements needed for something to fly as they wanted. It was a long search, and by the time they reported back to each other, they had a long list of things to try.
"An empty chest."
"A large basket."
All good choices, but those were not quite enough to satisfy Myra. Her reasoning to Arthur, was that a bed was too large, and would probably be too hard to steer; an empty chest and a rug just made no sense, and an armchair and basket would simply be too small. But, what else was there to try?
After their meeting, the two friends walked about, as Arthur tried to reason with Myra that a bed was the perfect choice. Though she listened, his words went in one ear and out the other. She just knew there was something more they could try—this adventure was too exciting to pass up just because the right object wasn't appearing before them.
But then, Myra stopped in her tracks, almost causing Arthur to trip over her in her abruptness.
"Jumping harp toads, Myra!" Arthur exclaimed. "What are you doing?"
"See that door?" Myra answered, pointing ahead of them. She brought her other hand to her face, twirling around once. "Oh, I forgot to try the servants' quarters! There may just be something in there! Let's go!"
Arthur stood stagnant with surprise, but yelped like a dog when Myra pulled him along.
Myra opened the door, and led them inside. She seemed completely fearless, but Arthur looked about him curiously. In truth, he had never been back in his servants' quarters; it wasn't his usual place anyway. And he didn't see what on earth could be found in there that was any better than what was already out in the castle.
"Why are we—"
"This is the one place we haven't looked," Myra explained. "What do people always say: some things can be found in the most obscure of places?"
Arthur just shrugged. Arguing against Myra when she was excited was almost impossible to accomplish, though he still didn't understand what either of them could gain from this.
Myra tore through the room like a storm. Looking in between the rows of beds for the servants, she looked like a human cheetah. Arthur didn't know whether he should laugh or be ready to pounce on her to slow her down. But there was no denying that she was excited.
"Well?" Arthur called cautiously. "What do you see?"
Myra slowed a little at hearing Arthur's question, though she didn't look up. Instead, she went to the opposite end of the room, and started through the open doorway that led into another hallway. Arthur followed, observing the places that Myra had looked, but he didn't have much time before he had to come close behind her.
In the hallway, there had come a crash, and a great tumbling of feet. Myra's surprised yelp forced Arthur into the hallway with a start, his heart lurching into his throat as he thought of what could have happened. But when he came into the hall, he stopped as quickly as the crash had happened.
Myra was slowly getting back on her feet, but looked to her side, where a long broomstick was lying on the floor. She bent back down to pick it up, and perhaps prop it back against the wall. But what she did next really surprised Arthur.
Myra took the broomstick in both her hands, holding it as though she were about to bestow a powerful weapon upon someone. She looked it under and over, twisting it in her hands, but never once putting it back against the wall.
Arthur cocked his head at the motions Myra was making, before finally coming over to her with a strange expression that would have made Myra laugh, were she not so oddly entranced.
"Um…Myra?" Arthur asked. "What has gotten you so hypnotized about this old broom?"
Myra didn't answer right away, and Arthur had to bite his tongue to keep from giving himself a face-palm.
"Arthur." Myra spoke in a hushed whisper, but Arthur flinched.
"What? What is it?" he wanted to know.
"I think…I think we may have a contender for what we will use to fly."
Arthur bit his tongue once more—this time to keep from gasping out loud. Instead, he snorted a laugh. "A…broom?" he asked. "Myra, how can we fly a broom?
"Arthur, look at this!" Myra said. "It's lightweight. It's small enough that we could ride it, and not be seen right away, yet it's long enough to carry both of us. The tail of the broom is flat, so we can turn it, and steer easily. And I think we could perhaps make the spell last about four to five hours on this broom."
"Hmm." Arthur peered closely at the broom. The details Myra had mentioned were good. He could in fact see a broom flying fast, but the idea of riding one was extraordinary. It was practically an idea only Myra could come up with.
"You really think we can pull it off?" Arthur said, rubbing his finger along the broom handle.
Myra only smiled at her friend. "All we need now is a spell book, this broom, and a sunset to fly it by."
Under Myra's instruction, Arthur requested that dinner be served early, so that they could eat, and have time to rest before the broom flight commenced. Afterwards, before Merlin could reach the library, Myra and Arthur carried the spell book and the broom up to her bedroom, to fly outside in secret. They turned their heads every once in a while to see that no one was following them, and by the time they closed Myra's door, the sky was starting to turn orange with the coming twilight.
Myra took two pillows from her bed, and tied them around the handle as cushions, before she laid the broom on her bed. "Stand back, Arthur," Myra said.
Then she opened the book, whispering the words off the page. A little spark appeared to hover just inches above the handle. In a gradual show, green sparkles showered around the broomstick, making noises and glowing splooshes on the wood, as though they were all magical raindrops. At last the entire broomstick was glowing green, then purple, and finally a milky white, as it started to levitate off the bed.
Myra reacted quickly, grabbing the handle, and launching herself onto the cushion at the head of the broom. It started to fly around, as Myra held on tight with one hand, and reached out her other to take Arthur's.
"Give me your hand!" she cried, grabbing Arthur's arm. He yelled out loudly as Myra dragged him onto the broom, which still zipped and flew about the room like a caged bird. And then, in one swift motion, the broom flew out the window!
Both Myra and Arthur screamed out loud as the broom flew straight ahead, as if it were trying to collide with the sun. Arthur was squeezing Myra's waist so as not to fly off, so that Myra could scarcely breathe. She gripped the broom handle like it held her life, hesitating to reach to wipe her windblown hair from her face.
She felt Arthur readjust himself in his seat, though his grip on her waist didn't loosen. Myra let out a gasp, and finally, he let go of her a little.
"Myra, you all right?" he asked.
"I am now, since you let me breathe," she gasped out against the sharp wind coming into their faces.
"Can't we slow this down?" Arthur yelled over the wind.
Myra responded by pulling on the broom handle, like the reins of a horse. She and Arthur cried out again as the broom almost flipped all the way over, before Myra pushed the handle forward again to get them back on course. But this time, she kept the handle pulled upward, struggling to keep the broom from speeding up again.
Slowly, she pulled it up one more time, kicking it with her leg in frustration. And then, with a movement like a frightened horse, the broom slowed down considerably, so that for a moment, Myra and Arthur were cruising along through the sky.
"Great deck and jack!" Myra gasped, pulling in a breath and exhaling slowly.
Arthur slumped his head against Myra's back, grunting as he started to breathe again. "Jumping harp toads!" he exclaimed.
Myra laughed off her fear, letting her voice go out into the sky. It felt wonderful to feel so free now. Right now, this was what they had been going for—the gentle, cruising altitude of a flight by broom.
Myra looked around them, taking one hand off the broom to wrap her cloak closer to her shoulders. She glanced behind her at Arthur, who was also glancing around. His bright red cloak was flying out behind him like a great flag, billowing majestically. She grinned when she met his eyes, and he did the same.
"This is great!" he exclaimed.
"Now that the newest trick in my book is working!" Myra added. "Come on, how about we go just a little faster?"
"What?" Before Arthur could finish his question, Myra yanked her hands forward on the broom handle. All at once, the broom burst forward again, but slowed down enough so that they were going along at an easily thrilling pace.
Now was when Myra could look out below them. The entire kingdom was spanning out for miles around, everything colored orange and purple by the setting sun. The forest looked like grass, the lake beyond absolutely sparkling. They couldn't see far beyond the lake, but nonetheless, it was a breathtaking sight.
"Look over there!" Arthur cried, pointing out towards the horizon that Myra had been observing. "Have you ever seen anything like that before?"
"Not till now," Myra answered.
"Me neither," said Arthur. "I don't know if Merlin would ever have let us do something like this!"
"Oh, he would," Myra said with a sly smile. "That is, if he could fly right next to us. But it's nice to do this by ourselves."
"It feels better every second!" Arthur crowed.
Myra laughed, as the broom sped further ahead. And by this time, they were far enough beyond the kingdom that sights they hadn't seen before were coming into view. So far it was nothing but farm country, but still a lovely part of the land. Dirt roads stretched to the horizon in between the farm houses. Hills bumped up the roads, spotted with lush summer trees.
"Now this is what broom rides are all about!" Myra said as she scanned the countryside. "Should we go further out?"
"Full speed ahead!" Arthur said, pointing towards the horizon.
Myra laughed as she made the broom fly a smidge faster ahead. She got such a thrill of feeling the broom speed up that she wondered if they actually could fly all the way to the sun. It seemed to be right there in front of them, and the broom had a while before the flying spell wore off…
"Myra!" Arthur yelled out, stirring her from her thoughts. "Do this!"
Myra glanced behind her at Arthur. Her heart jumped when she did—his hands were no longer holding onto her waist. Rather they were high in the air, sweeping the breeze. Arthur's face was shining with a combination of his own excitement, and the golden sun reflecting off his skin. It reminded Myra of when her friend used the marvelous sword that he had pulled from the stone several months earlier, when the magical light glowed off his face so that he looked angelic and powerful. Here, he looked like the most joyful young child on the face of the earth.
When she finally managed to look ahead of her, Myra steered the broom straight ahead again, and slowly took her hands off the handle to get her balance. She tucked her legs tight together underneath her, and gradually rose herself to a straight posture, with her arms rising higher and higher above her head.
"It must be what a bird feels like!" Myra remarked in a high voice stimulated by the rush in her heart.
"It's just what it's like!" Arthur told her. "You know, Myra, Merlin always says that men will fly on their own someday. Those flying machines they will make won't be half as amazing as this!"
"I told you the broom would work perfectly!" Myra said.
And off into the sunset, they flew. Once Myra put her hands back on the broom, she decided to try a few tricks. Holding on tight, she made the broom dip and swerve in circles, causing her and Arthur to laugh and whoop louder than they had already. While they had enjoyed cruising along earlier, they both agreed that turning it into a tiny thrill ride was just as much fun.
The sun fell below the skyline soon enough, but Myra assured Arthur that there were several more minutes left on the flying spell, so they stayed up in the air until they could see stars in the sky.
The two friends didn't return to the castle until long after dark, and then, as they flew in through Myra's window, they fell onto Myra's bed in trying to reach the door. Right then and there, they fell asleep, while slowly, the magical glow about the broomstick faded out, wisping away into the night like the tail of a shooting star.