Arthur sailed through the air and landed atop the Round Table, crying out in pain as he crushed his already damaged arm underneath his own weight.
"So many memories in this room." Ruber sneered as he stepped on to the table, driving Excalibur into the wood effortlessly, cutting a great chunk clear. "Make's me want to puke!"
"You can kill me," Arthur gasped wearily, looking up in defiance. "But you'll never extinguish the fire that burns inside the heart of the people and Camelot."
Ruber snorted, holding out Excalibur and his remaining arm to either side.
"Well, I've got to start somewhere." he drew the blade back for the finishing blow.
"Ruber!" an unfamiliar voice called out somewhere above.
Ruber turned at the voice. Who dared to interrupt him in his moment of triumph? His eyes searched the rafters, there! It was that girl again! Why couldn't she just die!
"I will not serve a false king!" she declared defiantly.
Ruber snorted. She wouldn't have to, she'd be dead before this was over!
Kayley was certain she could have come up with a better plan if given enough time. However there was no time, Ruber was going to kill the King if she didn't act now! Garrett took a firm hold of her as she shoved the heavy beam out from its holding in the scaffold. They plummeted downwards towards the King and Ruber both. Kayley had the momentary pleasure of seeing the look of utter shock on Ruber's face as the beam collided with him center mass and sent them all sailing through the glass window and into the courtyard beyond. She and Garrett flew free of the beam and lay in the damp grass of the courtyard. She looked up and around her wonderingly. Where were they? Uneven stone columns rested around them in a circle and ahead of her was—the Stone(1)! Her eyes widened as she realized what this was. It was the place where the King's Sword had first been drawn!
She turned over to see Garrett getting shakily to his feet nearby her. Ruber had already cut himself free from the timber that had pinned him and was stalking towards them. Garrett rose to meet him, raising his staff high in a fighting stance. He swung with all his might against the giant, however Ruber slashed the King's Sword through the air and cut Garrett's staff in half. Kayley rushed forwards to catch Garrett in her arms, feeling blood slick her hands. She looked down at Garrett, he'd been cut.
"Garrett, stay with me." she whispered as she backed away from Ruber, towards the center of the stone ring. "Wait for the right moment."
He nodded, smiling tightly. "And you'll give the signal."
Kayley swallowed and nodded in turn, squeezing him tightly. There was so much she wanted to tell him in that moment, but right now she had no time. The hulking man before them intended to kill them and destroy their world. She would not allow such to come to pass.
Ruber raised Excalibur high above his head, the point aimed downwards at Kayley and Garrett as he leered wickedly.
"Two, for the price of one! This must be my lucky day!"
It all seemed to happen in slow motion to Kayley. Ruber drove the blade downwards, she shouted to Garrett and jumped aside as he did the same, and then Ruber drove Excalibur home into the Stone. She rolled and got to her feet, turning to stare at Ruber as he tried to yank the sword from the stone but to no avail. He glared and snarled at Kayley as he attempted to free himself. Whatever words he might have had for her were curtailed as a blue light suffused the Stone and the pillars around it. Ruber looked down in wide eyed wonder as blue runes appeared in the Stone and the sword itself began to glow. There was an explosion, which knocked Kayley over and she heard a mad cackling like some crazed jester which was quickly silenced with a wretched scream.
When she again looked up, Ruber was gone, and the King's Sword rested in the Stone quietly. Kayley watched as a man with blonde hair and blonde beard and mustache came forwards into the circle. He looked at her for a moment and she instantly recognized the King from her youth. He looked as if he had barely aged a day in the ten years since she had first met him! He turned his gaze back to the sword in the stone and walked forwards.
Arthur reached out with his good arm, it was strange to reach for a sword with his non-sword arm but he could no longer move his sword arm. It was crushed beyond use. The pain served to bring everything around him into sharp clarity. The sounds of fighting elsewhere within Camelot, the hiss of the grass as he walked through it, and his own breathing. His fingers tingled as he touched the hilt of the blade. It had been years since he'd originally drawn the blade, and still the action served to humble him and remind him of everything that had come before. His resolve hardened as he thought of what Ruber had almost done to all that Arthur had accomplished over the years and he gripped the hilt with renewed confidence. With the rasp of steel, the King's Sword came free and Arthur raised it high as the pillars around him pulsed with power.
A gust of wind wrapped around him and pressed outwards from him. He felt his arm heal and mend, the pain ending and with it the clarity of his surroundings. The wind blew all before it, sweeping the keep of Ruber's foul presence and mending the harm caused by that presence. As Arthur opened his eyes, he found himself standing in the stone circle with the girl and boy gawking at him in wonder.
He inclined his head. "Thank you both." he smiled at the girl in particular. "It's Kayley is it not?"
Kayley nodded shakily as she sat upon the grass. "Y—yes your Majesty."
He came to her and helped her to her feet. "Please, if your father's actions hadn't already earned you the right, you of all people may call me 'Arthur'."
Kayley blushed despite herself. "I couldn't have done all this without help your Majesty I would have been lost without Ga—"
Kayley and the King jerked around as Garrett shouted. He was bent over in the grass clutching at his face as if he were in pain. Kayley pushed the King out of the way—something she felt shame at in afterthought—as she rushed to Garrett's side.
"Garrett?" she asked worriedly as she put a hand on his back. "Garrett are you alright?"
He was panting heavily as he turned his face towards her. There were tears in his eyes as his hands touched her face. Kayley realized suddenly that his eyes were no longer the cloudy blue-gray they had been but a clear blue! Could he—?
"I can seeyou." he whispered in awe as his hands ran over her face. "I can see you!" he exclaimed in shock as he looked around at the world as if for the first time. "I can see!"(2)
Kayley's heart soared with joy as she wrapped her arms around Garrett. "You can see," she said simply. "And you have beautiful eyes."
Garrett drew back for a moment and then pulled her into a kiss. Kayley jerked in surprise but didn't protest as their lips lingered on one another. A trumpeting bellow however broke the moment and she looked up to see Devon and Cornwall descending. It took her a moment to register what was wrong but then she realized, there were literally two of them(3)! Two separate dragons with light purple scales and serpentine necks. The King looked at them in disbelief as they came romping towards Kayley, very nearly trampling her in the process.
"We are whole!" declared Devon gleefully.
"We are dragons and named!" Cornwall roared as he nuzzled his head against Kayley.
She did her best to push the pair of drakes away from herself and Garrett, however the were impossible to dissuade from their jubilation. A piercing cry however drew all their attentions to a man in a green robe who was now standing by the King. Upon the robed man's shoulder rested Aidan, the silver winged falcon looking towards Kayley keenly.
"Where have you been?" Arthur asked his mentor dubiously.
"I was busy." Merlin replied.
"I needed you." Arthur said.
The wizard shook his head. "No, you did not." he swept his staff towards Kayley and the boy. "You had the strength of your people."
Arthur looked to Kayley and her companions, nodding his understanding.
"And now, one last kindness I must grant." Merlin said as he walked forwards.
As the green robed man came towards her, Kayley found herself not looking at the man's piercing gaze but at Aidan's. The falcon's eyes would not be dissuaded from their fixture on her and nor could she seemingly look away from them.
"I owe a boon to one who gave his service to me." the man said.
"You're...Merlin?" Kayley asked stupidly.
The wizard nodded. "I am he," he indicated Aidan. "However that is not important."
"What do you—"
Kayley's eyes widened as Aidan seemed to dissolve in a shower of light, his avian form melting away and reforming. When she could again look at the light she gaped in shock, feeling her knees go weak. If not for Garrett besides her she would have collapsed.
"F—father?" she stammered.
Sir Lionel, her father, smiled down at her lovingly(4). "You have done well my daughter," he reached out an ethereal hand and brushed her cheek tenderly. "I am proud of you."
Kayley's eyes brimmed with tears as she rushed forwards and wrapped her arms around him.
"I kept hearing your voice! I thought I was going mad!"
He stroked his hair as he ran his fingers through her hair.
"No, I was trying to speak with you, I apologize if I frightened you. I wanted to help."
She shook her head against his chest. "You're alive," she whispered. "You're alive."
Her father said nothing and she looked up at him suddenly.
Lionel smiled at her sadly. "No, I am not, and I do not have anymore time here."
They both turned to see Lady Juliana coming into the circle with Edward, once again human, at her side. She rushed into his arms, his ghostly form wrapping its arms around her tightly as he looked down at her lovingly.
She looked up at him, and then at the tears in Kayley's eyes before nodding.
"You cannot stay can you."
He shook his head. "Would that I could, but my time here is at a close. However," he turned to Kayley who was again in Garrett's arms. "There is one last thing I must do."
He crossed to his daughter and Garrett. Kayley looked up at her father with a sad smile.
"I—I've missed you father."
He nodded, his expression as tragic as it was loving.
"I know, and I am sorry that I must again leave you." he looked to Garrett. "I give you my permission to court my daughter and only child."
Garrett stiffened and nodded. "I will take care of her."
Lionel smiled ruefully. "She will not need much of it, but I know you will be there for her."
He turned back to Juliana, taking her hand and kissing it tenderly.
"I will wait for you." he touched her hand to his cheek. "But do not hurry, live."
She nodded, smiling at him the way she had once done when they were far younger and more carefree.
"You need not tell me what to do Lionel. I will come to you when I am ready my love."
He cupped her chin and kissed her, feeling his own eyes watering behind their lids before he turned to the King, bowing half at the waist before stepping back from them all to stand besides Merlin.
"I am ready."
The wizard nodded and raised his staff. "Indeed you are, rest well Sir Lionel, it is a rest well deserved."
And with that, Sir Lionel's form dissolved once more into the shape of a silver-winged falcon. Aidan chirped and warbled, preening his feathers for a moment before leaping up into the air and alighting atop Garrett's shoulder.
Arthur watched all this with a mixture of surprise, elation, sorrow, and a smidgen of anger. That last directed at Merlin. How much had the wizard manipulated all of this? He would never know he imagined. Much as he was certain of Merlin's loyalty, there was much about his mentor that was swathed in mystery. This was just the latest case of such things. There were other matters to attend to at the moment however and he switched Excalibur to its proper place in his sword-hand.
"Kayley," he motioned for her to approach. "Bring your companion."
The pair of them approached him uncertainly.
Arthur looked to the man. "Your name sir."
"It's Garrett your Majesty."
Arthur nodded. "Kneel, both of you."
He saw Kayley's eyes light in understanding and excitement and did his best to remain solemn. Garrett too seemed to catch on as to what was happening, though he seemed far more shocked than elated.
Once they were supplicated before him, Arthur raised Exalibur and tapped their shoulders in turn.
"I dub thee, Dame Kayley, I dub thee, Sir Garrett. You will both sit as Knights of the Round Table from this day forth. Rise my knights."
Kayley's face was written over with pride while Garrett seemed humbled by the experience. Arthur looked between the pair of them, his own smile matching Kayley's. Atop Garrett's shoulder, Aidan let out a piercing cry as Devon and Cornwall in turn trumpeted their approval. Arthur for his part looked between the two of them and wondered how long it would be before he presided over their wedding. The way the newly minted knights gazed at one another now left no doubt in his mind as to what was between them now.
The gloom over the bogs was shattered by a poisonously green light, shooting across the night sky and piercing the fog with an arrow as it wound its way through the mists. There was a crack and the green light became a black griffin which alighted in the marsh gingerly and hissed fearfully.
"Have no fear my child." a chilling voice said from the mists. "We will not harm you."
Three gray crones emerged from the shrouds around the griffin and approached it from three sides.
"Ruber has failed sister." hissed one of the witches.
"The boy king is stronger now." another concurred.
"The cursed faith will grow stronger as the old ways continue to die." said the last.
The witches caressed and stroked the griffin as it began to dissolve into the magic from whence it had come.
"All is not lost however." one of them intoned.
"There are other challengers." agreed a second.
"Merlin must be removed." the third declared.
All of them hissed in annoyance at the naming of their foe as the griffin vanished from the world and returned to its proper place(5). They would have to find another way to defeat the boy king and the traitor druid(6). They were not concerned, time was their friend, it had always been thus.
1: In some renditions of the Arthurian legend, the King's Sword (or Excalibur in some versions of the story) was drawn forth from the Stone of Scone (a reference brought to popular notice in the Disney show Gargoyles) which has been used for centuries to crown the monarchs of Scotland (and later monarchs of both Scotland and England et al.). There are several historical sites which have been noted as possible locations for the real 'Camelot' which are either located in or close to Scotland which has further supported this supposition. In this story however I am choosing to refer to it simply as 'the Stone' rather than imagine any relation to the Stone of Scone.
2: I was never sure if he got his eyesight back or not. It appeared not and I always felt rather angry at that, as if it were unjust...unless of course he chose to remain blind the way Devon and Cornwall chose to remain joined (wait for it). However in the second to last scene of the movie we see him look DIRECTLY at Kayley while they're dancing and just before they kiss...it's never specified if he was just turning his head or if he could actually see at that point.
3: Told you to wait for it. I know why they kept them joined in the movie (silly moral lessons), but again it never made sense to me.
4: Everyone should have seen that coming. It's an original idea of mine and not at all alluded to in the actual film but it just seemed like a good idea to me.
5: It's never really said what happens to the griffin. While it is implied that Devon and Cornwall kill it, we never actually see this, merely them chasing it away from the castle. This allowed me to have a bit more fun with the ending of the story.
6: As I said at the start of all this, in some versions of the Arthurian legend, Arthur is a champion of Christianity stamping out the old ways. Merlin in turn in some versions is portrayed as being a traitor to his own people, helping to expunge the very magics he wields. However this is largely a modern interpretation of the legends as previously stated.