"Watching the snowflakes descend slowly from the soft gray clouds filled Arthur with a serenity greatly at odds with the destruction of his beloved city all around him. Looking through the window of the last remaining Stormwatch Tower, he could almost forget for a moment that he was Arthur, Sword Brother and King of the Britons. Instead, he was just a small boy again, looking on as the snowflakes gently fell.
The memory was one reason he always looked forward to serving as a Storm Watcher, just as all citizens of his Realm were required to serve, by his own edict. His subjects might have been dismayed to learn that he kept a mental countdown of the days until it was his turn to stand watch for signs of the dreaded Veilstorms.
As his mind drifted along with the snowflakes, his thoughts became dark, turning to his people’s misery. The Second Breaking of the earth was upon them, and the ruin of his beloved Camelot, the One True City in the world, was almost complete.
By now, his companions would be making their final rounds of the burning city, looking for any stragglers. Once they were sure that the city was indeed empty, they would remove the final stabilizers, and the destruction of the One True City would begin in earnest. At least his brothers had left him the dubious honor of removing the very last stabilizer from this city and loosening the continent on which it rested.
“Damn them all to Hel, or whichever misbegotten power they now worship!” he muttered. It was his city, and he wouldn’t let this happen. He was Arthur, after all. He called out, “Where are you now, my mentor? I need your aid again, as when I was a youth,” but he knew that Myrddin was long gone. The prophecy had been fulfilled, and Arthur knew that there was nothing that he could do about it.
He remembered how difficult it had been, in the beginning. How heartbreakingly hard it was to convince his brothers to build something new, to come together for once, united by their belief in the One True City. To put their stabilizers and their power to use, and raise new land from the bottom of the sea. It had taken everything he ever had, every ounce of his belief and Gwen’s ingenuity, to make them realize he was not mad. That they could work together, could build together, to bring the vision of Camelot to life. For a brief, bright moment, all that was left of creation had been united in one place, in the shining City.
Arthur sighed; he could hear footsteps behind him, and recognized the sound of his companions. Breaking away from his thoughts, Arthur forced his eyes to leave the window and turn to face the two people he loved most in the world. One was a Stormrider, the Storm-captain of The Land, and the other was his Gwen. He knew that they were filled with the same sorrow that sought to break him down, but were too proud to show it. He smiled unhappily, knowing why they had come.
“It is time,” said Arthur, “Isn’t it?”
“Yes, my lord, it is time,” said the Stormrider, “The city is clear, and we are the last who remain within its walls. Even the rats have abandoned us.”
“I can think of a few ‘rats’ that I wish had remained within the city,” added Gwen, her mouth a bitter line. “We should have never let them leave alive, Arthur!”
“We had no choice, Gwen,” said Arthur, shaking his head. “I did what was necessary to save lives.”
“But it was your city, my love,” said Gwen, twisting her whiskered face into a grimace. “It was your dream they tore apart.”
“No, it was not my city,” said Arthur, shouting now. “That is the thinking that allowed this to happen. Don’t you see that? Damn it Gwen, it was our city! It belonged not just to me, or my brothers! It belonged to you, to all of the Realms, and all of their people! Why couldn’t they see that? Why couldn’t they see that Myrddin was right, in the end?”
“Because in the end, the Changed are not perfect, Arthur,” said the Stormrider, a slight grin crossing his face. “Not even me.”
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