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Before Camelot

Chapter 2

Caution: Ye who useth this spell should take heed--reviving the dead will not work unless ye be close emotionally to the person whom ye wish to revive. If this is not so, thou shalt suffer the consequences.

Leah found herself shuddering at the book’s contents once again. They didn’t need to spell it out for her to get the point across. She knew that in any spell, easy or difficult, if one made an error something terrible, usually the reverse of the spell’s intention, happened to the spellcaster.

Shaking her head to clear it, she shut the spellbook. She was done with that book, whether Merlyn said it was okay or not. She didn’t think she could bear to read those pages any further.

She hadn’t even set the book back on her nightstand when she felt a strange pulling sensation. Suddenly she found herself outside in broad daylight, standing in a grassy field in mid-summer. She looked around, but did not recognize her surroundings. She glanced down at herself and did a double-take when she noticed her clothes. She was wearing a midnight-blue robe tied with a gold-colored rope. Hanging from the rope about her waist were several pouches. One contained her spellbook. Many of the others were empty, while a few contained some strange herbs and potion bottles which she recognized as spell ingredients. Under her robe she wore a white tunic and a pair of baggy white pants. On her feet she wore a pair of soft leather boots. Her shoulder-length brown hair hung loose. She reached up and found her glasses still on her face before her golden-brown eyes, unchanged. She sighed with some degree of relief.

Looking up, she was startled to find a boy about her age staring at her with the same startled expression not five feet in front of her face. A tawny owl was perched on his shoulder. He was wearing a brown tunic and pants. He carried nothing but a smallish sack which he had tied to the belt at his waist. His straight brown hair was disheveled as if he had been through a wind tunnel. His azure eyes studied her with a sort of ill-mannered but well-meaning curiosity.

The young man found his voice finally. “You--you’re a girl!”

“Ya think? Nice to meet you, too, Brit.”

“But I--it’s just--I didn’t--well, I’ve never been on an adventure with a girl before. Besides Maid Marian, that is.”

“Maid Marian?” Leah repeated in disbelief. “Who the devil are you?”

The boy shook his head and took a moment to respond. “I’m Arthur. Oh, but everyone calls me the Wart.”

She cocked an eyebrow. “Everyone? Even your friends?”

“Yes.”

“Maybe you should get some new friends.”

Arthur shook his head. “Oh, no, I don’t mind. It’s a nickname. My brother Kay gave it to me.”

She shrugged and answered, “Oh, well. I’m Leah, Leah MacLeod.”

“You have a strange accent for a Gael.”

“A what? Oh, you mean a Scottish person? Well, I’m actually an American. My ancestors came from Scotland.”

“You’re a what?”

“I--oh, never mind. What century is this, anyway? I suppose it’ll be quite awhile before they discover America.”

The boy stared at her, perplexed.

“Who’s your little friend there?” Leah asked, trying to change the subject. She wasn’t really sure how much she should say about the future. She wished Merlyn had come along.

“I am Archimedes,” the tawny owl spoke up. “I am a friend of your teacher, Merlyn.”

Leah’s eyebrows shot up. “Talking owl, eh? Sweet.”

“I’m afraid if you’re planning to eat me, I should not think an owl would taste sweet at all. At any rate, Merlyn would be very angry if you were to test such a theory.”

“Huh? Oh! That’s not what I meant. Sweet is a slang word.”

“A what?”

“Um, an expression. An exclamation. Like ‘cool’.”

“As in cold?”

“No...like....I don’t know what you people say! ‘Jolly good show’ or something like that.”

Boy and owl stared at her and then at each other.

“It just means ‘good’ or ‘great’, okay? Let’s leave it at that.”

There was a bewildered silence. Leah was getting an idea of just how frustrating this whole ordeal could be. Angrily, she addressed the owl. “So what exactly are we supposed to be doing?”

“Well, lass, for now let’s find a camp for the night. Tomorrow our adventure will truly begin.”

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