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The Once and Future King

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The scene that greeted our heroes upon their arrival to the Sixth Lostbelt was startlingly familiar, so much so that it took them off guard.

Letting out a slow breath through the mouth, Ritsuka stared. “That shining white wall…”

Mash, her eyes wide as well, nodded in agreement. “Yes, there’s no mistaking it. It’s the city of Camelot.” Her brow creased in thought. “Surely, this must be connected to the cause of the Lostbelt. By the time of this era, Camelot should have fallen long ago, which means that something big must have happened for it to still be standing. Or is it a replica, like the Holy City from the Sixth Singularity?”

“No, your first assumption was correct. This is the original Camelot. Or at least, the original Camelot of this world.” A voice from behind made them jump and spin around in surprise and immediate wariness.

The one who had spoken was a young woman with pale blue eyes and flaxen curls pinned tightly against her head. A nondescript brown travelling cloak hid most of her clothes, hood pulled back to show her face. Meeting their eyes, she smiled at them apologetically. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” Her face looked like one accustomed to being wreathed in smiles, but there was a tiredness in her eyes and the turn of her mouth that told of recent hardship. “But I am glad to have met you here, foreign Master. Will you come with me for a short journey to a place not far from here? Before you make any decisions, there is something you need to see.”

Trading a concerned look with Mash, Ritsuka finally nodded. They didn’t have any other leads, after all, and there was something about the girl that seemed familiar. They’d learnt to trust their instincts in their travels, and here their gut feeling was suggesting that she could be trusted, at least for the moment.

The girl led them through the forest, moving further away from the city walls, until the brightening of sunlight filtering through the trees ahead signalled that they were approaching a clearing. She stopped just short of leaving the cover of the trees, holding out a hand to stop them from going further as well.

“We cannot go closer than this. The relic is surrounded by layers of powerful cursed wards that deter anyone from approaching, and which will also notify their caster should anyone attempt to breach them. A few more steps further, and we would have the Royal Guard descending upon us in seconds.”

But even at this distance it was instantly obvious what she had brought them here to see – the familiar shape of the item that practically glowed while bathed in the golden sunlight.

Mash gasped. “That… That sword… Is that Caliburn?” The golden sword of the victorious, the original symbol of King of Knights, the once and future king. The sword in the stone, prepared by Merlin to mark the rise of the true King of England. But it was a sword that should be long gone in this era, drawn from the stone by Arthur Pendragon, and later broken in a fight and replaced by Excalibur as the King’s sword.

For it to be here, intact and still embedded in the stone it was placed in…

“You understand now, don’t you?” their companion spoke. “The King who sits upon the throne of England, cloistered within the walls of this Camelot, is not the King of Knights. It never was. This is a world where Arthur Pendragon was never born. And so history diverged from its intended path.”

“For you to know so much… Just who are you?”

The girl drew herself up, the hard glint of determination in her eyes as she returned their gaze. Her cloak parted, revealing the armour of a knight, a sword strapped to her side.

“My name is Gareth, Knight of the Round Table. A Heroic Spirit summoned from the original timeline, where King Arthur reigned in glory. Foreign Master, I seek your aid. Help me gather the Knights of the Round Table scattered across Britain, and release the mage Merlin from imprisonment. In the name of our King, we will retake Britain with our own hands.

“From the ruler of this Lostbelt – the Witch Queen, Morgan le Fay.”

LOSTBELT NO. 6, DEPTH EX, AD 500

THE DAY A STAR IS BORN

USURPER OF ROUND TABLE TERRITORY: MORGAN LE FAY