1 – Barney and Emma.
She was taking a quaint little seaside adventure down in Cornwall. He was visiting the place he had known so well in his youth, that reminded him naggingly of something so important (his parents always told him he'd found the grail down here, but he couldn't remember any of it, though he swore there was more to the story than what they told). Barney is sitting down in the harbour, but watching the cliffs, reminded of the Arthurian legend that he'd loved so much as a child, and Emma staring intently out to the Harbour.
"You're looking the wrong way." Emma turns her head, blond hair swinging in the light breeze. "Everyone always looks the wrong way." She raises an eyebrow at the boy's comments. "Always looking out at sea, hoping for the adventure that befalls them, not realising what could actually take place on their own shore."
Emma's eyes glance over the houses and craggy landscape that Barney is actually looking at, and then down to his sketchpad. "Yet you draw the Harbour?"
Barney takes a glance down at what his sketchbook actually contains, and sees that she speaks the truth; Trewissick harbour sits there clear as day, a set of children – so familiar, like him and Jane and Simon back in the day – looking out to the sea. "I suppose so." He thinks on it for a moment. "I never meant to, it just happened."
"I know," Emma says in return. She thinks of the countless sketchbooks that she filled in her earlier years, with pictures of birds and blue eyed, shocking blonde haired boys. "What are you trying to draw?"
"I'm not even sure." Barney's confession hangs on the wind. "I wanted to capture something of my youth. I felt like there was so much, and everything was an adventure, and there's something that I just can't seem to grasp, out there."
Emma, who has had far too much of adventure, and would rather not relive any of her crazy experiences, looks at Barney and realises that as similar as they might appear on the outside, they have led such different lives. "That still doesn't explain why you're looking at the hills."
"Arthur." It is said like is should explain everything, but Emma is none the wiser. Her head is so full of one mythology that she knows to be real that she has completely forgotten the other. "There is something of him in these Hills."
"If you say so," Emma replies. She admires the boy's spirit. Realising something, she asks, "What's your name?"
"Barney." He doesn't ask why she needs to know, or anything.
2- Bran and Gabriel.
If you asked Gabriel why he was wandering around the welsh mountains, he wouldn't have been able to give you a decent answer whatsoever. Goodness knows what had persuaded him to come walking up here. And, true to form, he was now hopelessly lost. He sits under a tree, quietly humming a tune to himself as he tries to figure out where he came from and how he was going to get back.
"Hey." The soft welsh voice rouses Gabriel from his day dreams. He looks up to see a tall young man – boy? Gabriel wasn't sure – hair whiter than white. "This is someone's land." Ahh, local, and not friendly.
"Sorry. I got lost. You wouldn't be able to direct me back to the village, would you?" Gabriel asks.
"Which village would that be?" The man would have his hands on his hips if he wasn't that sort of person. Gabriel gives a misguided attempt at the welsh pronunciation. Maybe he should have listened to Charlie when he was spouting all those welsh magician theories after all, if the man's laugh is anything to go by.
Bran states the place name again, this time managing to make it sound like an actual thing, rather than a mumble of far too many constanants and not enough vowels. "That's a long way to go, especially if you're on foot." Gabriel just looks a little helpless, and Bran remembers other foolish Englishmen who have come to the Hills and captured his heart, and sighs. "S'pose you best follow me."
Gabriel nods meekly, getting up with a simple push of his hands. He steps behind Bran carefully, watching his step to make sure he doesn't accidentally fall down the mountain or anything stupid like that. "What's your name, then?"
"Bran?" Gabriel says in return.
"Fool of an Englishman. Bran. With a long a." Bran shakes his head slightly; hadn't he had this conversation before?
"Sorry, I'm from the North," Gabriel says, as if that is an excuse for everything. "I'm Gabriel."
"What were you doing in these hills, anyway?" Bran is curious, tourism still not being a big thing around there, and this boy does not seem like someone who is wandering for the scenery.
"Looking for inspiration." Which was odd, as Bran hadn't seen a sketchpad or anything. "I'm a pianist," he adds, somehow sensing Bran's confusion. "These hills ring of music, can't you hear it?"
Bran thinks that maybe he did once, back when he was a child and there was that autumn and that summer which were foggy in his memory, and the sound of a golden harp. "Sometimes." He pauses. "The music rings truer on the farms though."
"Oh?" Gabriel raises an eyebrow.
"Harpist." Gabriel rouses the other eyebrow, but then decides it fits this strange man who seems like he has come out of these very hills himself, and he thinks nothing more of it.
3 – Jane and Tancred.
She remembers so little of her childhood. Left in the middle, Simon growing up and ignoring everything, and Barney burying his head deeper and deeper into Arthurian myths, she doesn't know what to think. She doesn't ask how she ends up in Manchester of all places, so far from everything she knew in her childhood. Maybe she wants to make something of her life, but with the way the world is at the moment, she doesn't seem to be able to achieve it; even if her parents call her up and bemoan her every week for wasting her talents.
She is taking a break, standing outside the shop leaning against the wall – she'd be smoking if Simon hadn't had a go at her and called it a dirty habit, when she hears the rumble of thunder, and a violently blond boy run past her. Maybe she'd have ignored it if she had been anyone else, but enough of her still searches for adventure in every turn that she runs after him, ignoring the fact that she might lose her job.
He pretends that he isn't aware that there's someone following him, until he slips into a coffee shop, and she follows him, getting a coffee at the same time as he does. He thinks maybe it's just a coincidence, until she stands above his table, with her polite voice asking, "Can I sit here?" It would be an ordinary request, but the rest of the tables are empty.
"Sure," he replies. There is no harm to come from her sitting there.
They sit in silence for a few minutes, until a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder rolls again. Jane jumps. "You seem to have brought a storm down with you," she comments.
"I tend to do that," Tancred answers. It's not that he can help it, it just happens. Jane doesn't know this, she just laughs and smiles and takes a drink from her coffee like it's perfectly normal that there are storm clouds in Manchester on a perfectly fine day. But then Tancred remembered that this was England, and things like that happened all the time, whether with Magic or not. The conversation seems to settle for an awkward silence which Tancred distinctly dislikes. "I have terrible luck with snow as well."
His comment triggers a memory in Jane's mind, of a brown haired boy who she thought she'd almost managed to finally forget. A winter so bad it was beyond all imagining. "There was a winter like that when I was a child."
Tancred does not know what she refers to. "I can't remember it."
"Perhaps you were too young." Jane has no idea how old this boy is anyway. She wants to think he is her age, but part of her knows that this may be wishful thinking.
"Perhaps you dreamt it," Tancred replies. He doesn't mean to insinuate that she's making it up, but from the look on her face, it seems vague at the least.
Jane reflects on the gentle, already slipping away memories of that winter which she thinks happens, and sees that he may have a point. "Perhaps you're right." She wraps her hands round the still warmth of the coffee cup, and takes a long swig. Tancred does the same.
4 – Lysander and Will.
They are both wandering when they happen to sit down next to each other. Perhaps it would have been more beautiful if they had been standing on top a majestic mountain, but it is a drab train station that holds no fantasy or romantic notions of such things.
Lysander has always been intuitive, there is no denying that. He can tell there is something odd about this man – boy – the moment he sits down, and that is without the spirits whispering in his ear that this boy is odd, Old One, kindred of so many who he knows.
He doesn't know whether to say something, but the boy speaks first. "Can you tell them to be quiet?" he asks, in that soft spoken way of an Englishman who has spent far too much time in his own company. If anyone else heard the comment, they would have looked upon the pair exceedingly oddly, as there was no one else around who could be considered a distraction.
"Sorry," Lysander says under his breath, as he whispers to his ancestors. Their whispering, and the drumbeat, fades into the background. He looks at the man, boy, sitting beside him, noting the falling brown hair and soft lines of worry and age that are carved upon his face. "You are impossibly old," he says.
"And yet the youngest, and the last," Will replies.
"Old One." The word rings with power in the air as Lysander says it. "I don't know what it means."
"Few do." Will's voice is of remorse. "You have something of it in you though."`
Lysander wonders how much this boy actually knows. "I'm descended from the Red King. My name's Lysander," he offers.
"Will." He looks skyward. "There have been many Kings. Too many battles of light and dark between them."
"We won this one." Lysander says. Will looks at him oddly.
"That we did," he agrees.
5 – Paton and Merriman.
It's hard being a researcher who can't go in buildings with lights on sometimes. In fact, all the time. Grand expanses of libraries, where possibly the only records exist that could lead him to some form of the truth about his city and his background and everything that torments him so, and yet, they are closed to him over such a simple thing. Sometimes, Paton wished that everyone could just do everything by candlelight. That's what he managed. Why couldn't everyone else.
However, it is not in a library that Paton makes his great discovery. He keeps up with the archaeological developments – one never knows when something will surface that isn't quite what everyone seems – and it is floating around one of these sites that he comes across a man he has never seen before.
"Yewbeam," the man says. Paton is instantly on his guard, thinking of who could have sent this man to him – and wishing yet again that there weren't so many shape shifters in the family. "Merriman Lyon." He sticks out his hand. Paton considers for a minute before taking it.
"Paton Yewbeam," he replies. "But I think you already knew that."
"That I did." Merriman chuckles. "You have nothing to fear, Paton. The dark will not touch you here, so close to a defender of the light."
Paton knew what Charlie felt like when he spoke in riddles now. For all it aptly described the fight between the Red King's children, he had never heard it described as such. It was always good and bad. "But you see," Merriman says. "It is not always so clean cut. The light does things considered evil to many men as much as the dark does. It blinds."
"Which side will win, though?" Paton dares to ask. Merriman seems to have all the answers, after all.
"That, even I cannot see. For the Red King broke from both the light and dark many years ago. His children are not part of the great rising of the dark. But they will feel its effects."
Paton considers this. He feels left out; he does not understand the truth of what the man is saying. He feels how restricted his studies are. "You speak in riddles."
"As do you." Merriman smiles. "Do not worry. The world will turn. The balance must be kept. So go, Paton Yewbeam, support the children who will finally keep and break that balance."
Paton nods. It is all he can do. But he feels more confident now, more confident that they will win the war – if you can call it a war – that they will be alright by the end of it.