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The Black Swan's Lake

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Introduction Part I:
Part 1 of Albion:

Once upon a time, in a land of Myth and a time of Magic, the Destiny of a Great Empire, united by a Powerful Warlock and the sacrifice of a Noble King, was again in peril as Darkness descended upon the land anew.
After Arthur's death in Camlann and Merlin's disappearance Queen Guinevere was left to rule over Camelot alone. With her clever mind, bountiful courage, and kindness, however, she won not only the hearts of the people and knights but also those of the enemies of Camelot. She soon restored magic to the land and all was well once more. Albion had lived in peace as a great Empire, united at last thanks to her and thanks to Merlin and Arthur who had done so much too keep the Kingdom from falling into Morgana's hands.

With all the work Guineveredid to keep the kingdom as safe and content as Merlin and Arthur had left it, however, her life flew by, and now she was getting on in age and she had never been able to bear an heir to the throne. Fortunately for Camelot – or so Gwen and the rest believed - she had her loyal knights by her side and, more recently, her trusted pupil - the young sorcerer -Rothbart. It was agreed by all who knew him and the Queen that it the Kingdom of Camelot should fall to him on the day that Guinevere was no longer able to rule. It was Rothbart who would be heir. Unfortunately, the now crowned prince Rothbart was not all that he seemed...

 

Introduction Part II:
Storybrooke:

 

The knife dropped to the ground with a loud clink. With the light of the street lamps, one could clearly read the name now written across the blade. Emma Swan, it read, in inky black letters.

“How could she be so stupid?!” Regina shouted in frustration, walking forward towards the knife, as Robin released her from the hold he hadn't realized he had her in.

“Regina!” David Scolded, outraged, still holding onto Mary Margaret, who had been frozen in panic at the sight of their daughter disappearing into the darkness.

Regina stopped in her tracks, “Well there had to be another way!” She responded, lifting her hands up beside her, hopelessly.

Mary Margaret jumped in to defend her husband and daughter, her voice shaking in concern and anger- “There wasn't - that thing was going to kill you. She saved your life!” She shouted.

“Ugh. Don't you think I know that?” Regina answered, annoyed, her face contorting in pain. If only she could have done something, saved herself or stopped Emma from making the sacrifice somehow. Damn it Emma! 

Before she could say anything more Henry came forward, his legs feeling like jelly as his shock wore off,“And now she's the dark one...” He stated, a little dazed.

“Now she's a problem.” Henry looked at Regina as she continued, “for all of us.”

Mary Margaret shook her head, refusing to believe that hope was lost, that she and David had rid Emma of Darkness only to have her be swallowed by it, that all their sacrifices and all that they'd done to Maleficent, was for nothing, “She's still good!” She affirmed, mostly for herself.

“I hope so,” Regina replied and in her usual sassy tone, added, “it's not like she rode off on a unicorn she was sucked up by a vortex of evil!”

As Regina finally turned around to face the street behind them, no longer able to bear the sight of the blasted dagger, Robin found his voice, “Where is she?” His voice sounded slightly high pitched, laced with fear and concern for his friend, “Where's she gone?” He asked.

“It doesn't bloody well matter,” Killian finally spoke up, making his way towards the knife, a look of determination in his eyes.
Robin stepped towards him in an instant, grabbing his arm, “Mate, don't” He said, trying to calm him.

Killian released himself quickly and snarled at Robin, shaking a finger at him threateningly, “Get out of my way,” he warned.

Seeing the look in his eyes, Robin stepped back, he understood that fear - that anger. Behind them, Regina turned around to watch the altercation.

Killian walked the last few steps and picked up the knife, “If I can't find her I can damn well bring her to me,” He stated, lifting the knife up before him, “Dark one? With this dagger I command thee, return!”

He looked up, turned towards Henry and the others.
They waited. David kissed Mary Margaret on the forehead, still holding her in comfort.
Nothing happened.

“Dark one, APPEAR!” Killian shouted, rage filling his voice as he lost hope.

“Put that thing down before you hurt yourself, guy liner,”Regina warned, “I thought you knew the dagger's rules.”

“With it i can summon the dark one from any corner of the world!” Killian recited, his voice a little shaky.

“Well, there's your answer.” Regina gave voice to what Killian was already starting to fear, “She's not in this world.”

Killian cursed into the night air. “Damn this! Damn it all!”

“We have to find her. We have to keep her safe. We have to keep her from hurting anyone!” Mary Margaret cried.

“Where do we even start?” Robin asked.

Henry found his voice again, “We all heard the Apprentice. We have to find Merlin. He's the only one with the power to defeat the Dark One. If we find him, he'll get the Darkness out of my mom and we'll be able to destroy it once and for all.”

“But, we've no idea where to even begin to look.” Robin said, worried.

A thought struck Killian, “Why not start with the land he came from?”

“Where's that?” Robin asked.

It was Regina who answered, “Camelot.”

Introduction Part III:
Part 2 of Albion:

Rothbart walked back to his chambers quickly under the cover of his hood. If he were caught returning from the general direction of the Queen's Chambers right now the knights would begin to suspect and that was the last thing he needed right now, when he was so close to getting what he wanted. Soon Guinevere's age and illness would take their and he would be King, of course, it was no hindrance to help the process along... a little, and Rothbart was so close to his goal he could almost taste it. He just couldn't wait any longer. He had to get rid of Gweneveire soon, but carefully so as to not arouse suspicion. If she died too quickly it wouldn't seem natural. The knights had to have no doubt that Rothbart was innocent. Once he was King he'd have more freedom to command them and he'd be able to do what he set upon in the first place – to bring back his parents' beloved mistress, the only true Queen of Camelot – Morgana.

Little did Rothbart know, however, that once he set upon his evil plan its butterfly effect stirred the ripples of the Lake of Avalon and the waters summoned forth their magics in order to prevent tragedy from befalling the land and allowing Albion to break apart again. It was a bit premature, but without Merlin around the forces had no choice. It was time to bring back the Once and Future King, so that he might protect the land from evil that was to come once more.

 

Chapter Text

Merlin felt himself wash up on sea. It was strange to feel the air again, after years spent drowning and awakening at the bottom of the ocean, bringing himself up above the water's surface with the last of his strength only to lose it almost as quickly as it came and sinking back down to drown in the deep blue sea. He crawled further up towards the sandy surface coughing out lungfuls of water, amounts which would have normally killed a man.

How long had it been, He wondered, since he'd been on dry land?

He lay on his back, as he continued to cough, his old bones feeling brittle and weak in the sudden chill of the beach. The sand felt warm on his back, however, heated by the mid-day sun. Already he could feel his strength returning, even if it was coming back incredibly slowly. He waved a hand over his body, weakly, transforming himself into a more youthful form. His stregth would come back more quickly if his body had more of threshold to withstand all the pain. Merlin sighed, letting the sun to bathe his now flawless but still deathly pale skin in its warmth. He allowed himself a moment before opening his eyes to the sky again.

Well,” He said to no one in particular (though his mind was thinking of a certain King)“I can't just lie here all day and expect to get better.”

He stayed a moment longer anyways, his eyes closed, then finally sighed and sat up in order to look around himself.

Just where am I?  He thought, twisting his upper body to look back over his shoulder. There were trees taller and more foreign than any he'd ever seen in Albion, strange plants scattering the edge of the beach in large wild clumps and magnificent colors. 
“Well then... clearly not in Albion anymore...” He mused as he stood up, dusting his breaches distractedly. Merlin tried to think about the last thing that had happened before drowning. His head felt fuzzy and unclear. Years or fear and trauma caused by what seemed like it would be eternal drowning made him feel more than a little mad. In the back of his mind he thought of Arthur, his cold unmoving body trapped in the waters of Avalon. He shivered and shook his head, starting to walk along the edge of the beach. As he looked ahead of him, struggling for memories everything came rushing back to him. This was all that damned writer's fault. He'd tricked Snow White and Prince Charming into stealing Maleficent's unborn child and placed all the darkness of the girl that would be called Emma inside of the babe instead. Merlin had decided to rectify what his apprentice had done in favour to Snow White and Charming by attempting to follow the child and destroying the extra darkness. No human should have to be condemmed to live with so much darkness within them. He had to save that child, lest she end up like Morgana. That's why Merlin wasn't in Albion anymore. He'd tried to transport himself to the land where the babe was being sent but something had gone terribly wrong. Magic could not exist properly in that world, and since Merlin was pretty sure he was 90% pure magic something had backfired. Merlin must have ended up in some other world instead, one that might easily be linked to the world where the Dark child would be born but could still allow him to maintain his magic.

Well... this was a set back. On top of being drained of his strength, being driven mad by what must have been years of endless pain and drowning, he had no idea where he was, no idea how much time had actually gone by, how he was ever going to find and contact the child or even how he was ever going to get back home to Camelot. He'd kill that author himself when he found him. If he ever found him. If ever found anything on this bloody island... or beach. Whatever this place was.

As Merlin deliberated over all his he spotted something in the distance. It looked like some kind of ladder and net attatched to a bunch of shrubs and vines. Curious, Merlin put a hand up above hiseyes to block out the sun light and squinted at the canyon in the distance. He muttered some magic words and felt his eyes glow gold as his vision was focused more clearly and he seemed to zoom in closer to the blurry shapes in the distance, making them seem clear. He was right! It was an old looking rope ladder. It led up towards a shabby looking tree house with a damaged rope net and an old broken dingy attatched to a branch by more rope. Merlin felt his heart swell in excitement and he let out a sigh of relief. He wasn't alone! He hadn't realized how worried he was about that. But if there was a little house here perhaps someone would be able to help him, or at least point him in the direction of someone who could. They might even be willing to share some fod with him. The trees and plants along the edge of the beast seemed filled with ripe fruit, but Merlin was worried about whether or not they'd be safe to eat. He knew nothing of this land. He did not want to risk accidentally poisoning himself, although he'd already discovered with this whole drowning situation, that he was immortal, so it's not like it mattered. It would be a hastle though, but it's not like he was going to starve to death either. Well, he would, maybe, but then he'd just wake up again moments later, as had been happening to him before, so he wasn't overly concerned. He'd say he'd just about gotten used to dying anyway. His priority right now was getting to that house. He wondered if he had enough strength in him to transport himself there. He waved a hand and in a puff of slow smoke he was gone from the shore line.

 


Elsewhere in the jungle:

 

A wild-looking man in a suit raced towards a little tree house, frantically climbing and swinging up vines and branches to get there faster. He had to get that old boat his parents had left there. He had to fix it as quickly as he could. He had to get back into the ocean and look for her. If he'd washed up here, she coudln't be far behind. She had to be. He remembered seeing home in the distance from the deck of the ship before they got caught up in that sudden storm, she couldn't be far. She had to be out there somewhere, and he would find her.

When he reached the floor of the house, he stopped, sensing something strange tingling in the air. He almost lost his grip for a second on the vine he was using to swing into the little house as a puff of red smoke appeared in the middle of the room and out of it stepped a tall slender young man with high cheek bones and golden eyes which quickly changed into blue. The boy's eyes widened in shock and he stepped back, eyes going gold again, as Tarzan's momentum swung him directly towards him. Tarzan closed his eyes and then felt him self stop, frozen, but he hadn't collided into anything, as he'd expected to. Hesitantly, he opened one eye first, then the next. The vine was stopped directly in middair, with Tarzan still held tight. Just a second after he noticed, though, the vine loosened gently and Tarzan let go, allowing himself to land graciously on the ground before the still schocked-looking young man.

He stepped back cautiously as well. He didn't know what that red smoke was, but it couldn't be good. Smoke usually meant fire, but there was no fire here. This was just strange.

Um... hello. Sorry about that I ...” The young man stopped, looking at Tarzan sheepishly. He raised his hands in a gesture of openness and surrender.

You were on ship?” Tarzan asked, hesitantly. He didn't look familiar, but his clothes were wet and he was covered in sand, perhaps, if this boy had been on the ship with him and Jane, there was a possibility that Jane might have made it out alive on one of the rescue boats and made it ashore, though his attire was incredibly different from any of the men he remembered seeing on the boat, or indeed, even in England. There was something not quite right about him or the strange smoke. He eyed the boy with open curiosity.

Huh? A ship? No... No, I ... I got here another way... Sorry, I – I'm Merlin.” The boy stuttered, nervously. Tarzan wondered why he seemed to skittish. It wasn't Tarzan who appeared in the middle of the room in a fireless red smoke.

Merlin?” Tarzan repeated, “I Tarzan.” he said, pointing to himself and attempting to seem non-threatening. This part he understood. An introduction, Jane had said, countless times, as he met new people in England and shook their hands. As a second thought Tarzan extended his hand in a show of respect and waited for the other man to grasp it.

The young man, Merlin, smiled, and shook it, “It's nice to meet you Tarzan. I'm going to go ahead and guess that this isn't your first language?”

Tarzan nodded, “Tarzan learn speak from Jane. Jane teach Tarzan.” The sudden mention of her name reminded him of the situation at hand. Immediatly and the panic rose again. He struggled to form the words, but then they just tumbled out of him in distress, “You see Jane? Jane on ship with Tarzan, but great storm happen. Wash boats away into hole in ocean. Much light and noise. Water everywhere. Tarzan tried swim and save Jane. Tarzan sink in water – all shadow, then Tarzan is on beach. All sunlight. Jane is no where. Ship is no where. Everyone gone. Jane gone! Tarzan need to find mother and father's boat. Take to ocean, find Jane!” 
“Okay, okay! Calm down Tarzan, take deep breaths,” Merlin instructed, raising his arms in a placating gesture and looking at the strange frenzied looking man who looked so at odds in his suit, “Who is Jane? Why were you on a ship? Where were you going?”
Tarzan visibly calmed down. He sighed and sat on the floor. He looked up at Merlin with desperation, and Merlin sat down next to him. Tarzan took a shaky breath. “Jane Tarzan's ...” he started, but he couldn't think of the word for it right now, so instead he answered, “Jane Tarzan's Jane. We go on ship England, Jane's home. Strange Jungle there. No trees, lot of house made from stone, many doors. Jane's father make book about Jane and Jane's Father find Tarzan and gorrillas in jungle. He calls Tarzan 'missing link'. Tarzan go with Jane. Introduce Tarzan to England. Jane's father tell Tarzan's story. Then Tarzan come home, with Jane... but ship. Ship sink in circle storm water and Jane missing. Tarzan must find Jane. Jane going to stay with Tarzan. Jane love Tarzan. Tarzan love Jane.”

Merlin listened to Tarzan's frantic story attentively. From what Merlin could glean, Tarzan had grown up here in this jungle and this Jane person must have found him with her father and along the way Tarzan and Jane had fallen in love with each other. Tarzan was desparate to fix the little boat attatched to the house so that he could save his beloved. Merlin stood up then. “Well Tarzan, I'll tell you what, I've got nothing better to do right now, so why don't we see if I can't help you find your beloved Jane.”

Tarzan looked up at Merlin, hopefully, “You help Tarzan?” He asked.

Of course, if Tarzan is willing to help me first.” The boy said and added sheepishly, “You see I'm very hungry, but I'm not at all familiar with this place. As you might have guessed, I'm not from around here, but I'm sure, once I eat, I'll be able to use my magic to help you fix your boat and we can sail it out around the isle and see if we can find your dearest Jane.”

Tarzan's smile dazzled and quicker than Merlin could realize what was happening, Tarzan was up and hugging him close. “Thank you, Merlin,” he said, and released Merlin.

Tarzan can find food, very easy.” He said, reassuringly, “but what is Merlin's Magic?”

The question startled Merlin, well, if they were alone on this island then there was likely no danger in showing him... hopefully it wouldn't frighten the man away. Though Merlin guessed, if the man could grow up alone in the wild all his life and travel across the sea to civilization to meet strange people for a woman he loved, then he doubted anything else would scare him more, “Oh. Magic. It's... well, let me show you,” he said, and incanted a spell. A small flower blossom appeared in the palm of Merlin's hand. Merlin changed its shape to make it larger then changed it from a shade of blue to a shade of pink, then to purple, then he changed it into smoke making it disappear into thin air.

Tarzan watched in open wonder and curiosity, but then he frowned “How will grow flower make boat fix?” He asked.

Merlin laughed. “Well I can do anything I want with it, like lift things,” he gave an example and raised his hand towards a piece of wood and made it hover in thin air before setting it down again, “but fixing the boat will be difficult, and for this I'll need my strength.”

Tarzan looked at Merlin, his eyes full of questions, but he said nothing, instead, he smiled and nodded. He made his way over to the door and started climbing down the ladder, Merlin followed to the doorstep, “Merlin stay here. Tarzan be back with food.”

Merlin nodded and sat down. “Thanks Tarzan,” He said, “I'll be waiting.” He leaned his head against the post of the door and looked out towards the sea and started to think about all he'd learned.

He was alone on this island with Tarzan, and if Tarzan knew nothing of magic then in was unlikely he'd find any magic to get him home here. Getting that boat fixed and finding this Jane person might be his best bet. If she'd lived in a land with civilazation, then perhaps she would be able to point Merlin in the right direction. He had to try something while he was here, and Tarzan had looked so lost when he'd spoken of Jane, like he couldn't bear the thought of losing her, and Merlin knew that feeling. He knew it all too well.

Well, no choice then. Merlin would help Tarzan fix this boat and hopefully they'd be able to find Jane, and with her, civilization, and more importantly for Merlin, a way to get home.