This was a 750 word challenge story. For the picture prompt of the bronze sculpture of King Arthur which stands on top of the Tintagel Cliffs in Cornwall, UK. It was made by sculptor, Rubin Eynon,
The veiled sun cast a hazy copper glow upon the shoulders of a lone archaeologist. Sunset was an hour away, yet tentacles of sea-fog were stealing the light. They would enshroud the clifftop long before the sun vanished for the day.
Remy Lewis should have gone back to the hotel with her team a while ago. Desire grabbed her – she had to extract the medieval nasal helm she’d uncovered before nightfall.
The team had utilised drone-mounted lidar technology a few days ago. It revealed the foundations of a forgotten 6th-century church on the Cornish clifftops. Remy led the dig, revealing the chancel, and naïve. The helm appeared as the archaeologist excavated the floor of the naïve.
Now she exercised great diligence as she worked her trowel around the rusty helm, cutting it free of the sandy earth. Soon she had it loose aside from the earth inside. Allowing her fingers to gently clasp the cold iron, she lifted but it hit metal and stuck. Something was inside the helmet, anchoring it to the earth.
Remy felt her heart rate spike with excitement. She glanced at the cliffs, the sea was obscured by the fog now. Dusk had arrived – time was up.
Abandoning her trowel, Remy began to scratch away the soil. Her fingers hit more metal. Her eyes widened as she revealed a thick crossguard. The hilt of a sword lay inside the helmet. Working fast, Remy revealed a long-fullered blade; the Ricasso etched with a dragon. The archaeologist gasped, it was unsullied and shining. Fifteen-hundred years buried in the clifftop should have left the sword a rusty remnant of its former self, yet it was pristine.
Remy drew it from the earth. Casting the helmet onto her find’s cloths, she revealed a spherical pommel and black, leather-wrapped tang.
“It’s about time somebody found my sword.”
Remy flinched at the voice; it was an ethereal, stentorian utterance made reverent with age. Rising, she watched a figure materialise from the fog. He stood tall draped in a glowing, white cloak, chainmail shirt and greaves. The hood of the cloak was held by a simple, shining crown.
“Who are you?” Remy’s voice quivered as she took in his neat snowy beard and wise hazel eyes. “Your crown – are you King Arthur?”
The figure chuckled.
“There are two who can bare a crown; the ruler of the kingdom and the one bestowed upon to protect the crown when dark forces come. I was chief protector to the king. A gallant knight who stood at his side until death became me. I am Sir Lucan, at your service,” he drew a spectral sword matching the one Remy found. Placing its point in the ground, he bowed low.
“My pleasure to meet you, Sir Lucan.” Remy curtseyed. “I’m sorry if finding your sword disturbed your eternal sleep.”
“Ha! If only. Thanks to Myrddin the wizard, I’ve walked these blasted cliffs for fifteen hundred years, no less.” Lucan sat on an unseen pew.
To Remy, he was perched on the mists that rolled phantom-like beneath him. “Why’d he do that to you?” she asked.
“The king entrusted me to ensure his crown was secreted away until a worthy ruler could be found. Llewellyn’s Coronet, the crown which your history displays is not the real crown. Nobody after my liege was worthy of it and so into hiding it went.”
“So, the real crown is powerful then?” Remy felt transfixed by the knight.
“Indeed, forget Excalibur, that was just a hunk of sharpened metal. The wearer of the crown will own all they see by wishing it.”
Remy gaped as her eyes fell upon the trenches. “So, this sword – er your sword is enchanted with your soul to protect the crown. That’s why it isn’t rusty. Which means the crown —”
“Well done, Lady Remy …”
“You know my name?” Remy mentally slapped herself. ‘He just said it, of course, he knows my name!’
“You were chosen by Myrddin as an impavid, brave soul to complete his mission. The crown lies beneath your feet in a secret vault.” Lucan rose with a groan of pain. “Your team will uncover the entrance before long. You must take charge of the crown and hide it again with my sword. Can you do that?”
Remy bowed her head. “You have my word.”
“I’ll be watching you.” Lucan was gone in a veil of fog.
Remy smiled at the sword. If the crown was below her feet archaeology was the least of her worries.”
Have a great day!