Chapter Two

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It had been like an eternal winter in Avalon and Camelot alike ever since Morgana had taken the throne. Nimue stood at Guinevere's side as she did the laces of her extravagant gown and curled the shiny tresses of her brunette hair. Guinevere—although older now than she was when she had first taken her place as Arthur's queen—was still a thing of beauty.

Her hazel eyes met Nimue's with pity when she saw the sadness in the redhead's eyes.

"Merlin is strong," Guinevere assured her, turning to face her friend. "You needn't worry about him."

"If it were Arthur going to some strange land, would you not worry?" Nimue asked, sinking down onto the bed.

The Elves had granted King Arthur, his knights, his queen and Nimue and Merlin rooms and beds in their village. It was the only beauty that hadn't been completely crushed by Morgana's magic. It was nestled deep within Avalon's forest and hidden with a magic so old, even Morgana could not hope to crush it.

Guinevere didn't answer that. She couldn't. She worried enough when he ventured off into dark forests and the far parts of Camelot with his knights. But going to a strange land called America was something she never wanted imagine Arthur doing.

"I know that you're worried," Guinevere began, walking toward the window and looking down on the Elven village. "But you shouldn't be, Nimue. Merlin is the only sorcerer to venture into the Shadows of Death and return. This... America... is nothing compared to Merlin's abilities. You know what he can do."

It was true that Merlin could perform incredible feats of magic, but that didn't stop Nimue from worrying. Whenever everyone else looked at him, all they saw was Merlin, the great and powerful sorcerer. But when she looked at him, all she saw was Merlin, the man. The man who could bleed and die just like the rest of them. Sure he had lived five hundred years fit as a fiddle, but in an instant, that could change.

"I just hope whoever this wizardess is can do what the prophecies say she can do," Nimue murmured, mostly to herself. "Is such magic real?"

Guinevere hummed and sang the song that she had heard since she was a child.

"Her heart of gold

Shall be heard in the songs of the new and the age of the old

Her skin of radiance and her eyes of mercy

Shall be part of a story to forever be told

When Camelot's eternal winter is at hand

And Avalon's children are too weak to stand

Out she will come from the great willow tree

Out she will come to save you and me."

Nimue supposed that eased her worry a little. This wizardess was supposed to be more powerful than Merlin. She supposed that as long as he found her, their power together would be unstoppable. She let out a breath and prayed that this wizardess was everything the songs and prophecies said.

☪ ☪ ☪ ☪ ☪ ☪ ☪ ☪

We pulled into the driveway of the posh apartment from my childhood. Gaping up at it, I realized it was exactly as I remembered it yet different. The same because it towered over the hustle and bustle of the busy Upper East Side streets. It was different in a way I couldn't exactly explain. No matter how hard I tried to put my finger on it.

"Are you ready, Lucy?" Mom asked, snapping me out of my daze and forcing me to turn my attention back to her.

I nodded firmly. I was ready to get inside and have her explain what the hell was going on. I was ready for the secrets to stop. I was ready to achieve some sense of normalcy in my life.

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