by Philip-Todd Franklin
Spring-Heeled Jack continued to land a quickly blinding flash of blows to his black-armoured foe, bantering with him as well. “I can see why you would wear such a tin can. You’re afraid that all the lasses would be running from your harmful looks.” Laughing, the speedster easily dodged a blow from Jason Lincoln’s ever-glowing sword.
“Stand still, you misshapen mistake, so I may have done with you,” Jason replied as he continued to swing his sword at his foe, only to miss his mark each time. “The queen awaits your destruction, along with anyone else who tries to stop her magnificent rule.”
Jack laughed as he dived over the ever-present sword, landing behind his foe and quickly rushing forward, bowling Jason over. “How about ya plan for a never-ending sleep?” he said as he quickly placed his foot upon Jason’s glowing sword.
As Spring-Heeled Jack’s foot made contact with the glowing sword, a flash of power quickly released, and for a second Jack seemed to violently shake before toppling at the side of his foe and lying still.
Jason slowly arose from the ground, then sheathed his sword as he looked round the battlegrounds. He could see that many of the convicts from his makeshift army lay upon the ground, along with many of the locals who had chosen to resist, yet their numbers were unknown, and the remains of his army detachment only numbered about thirty men. “Glad I was able to finally defeat this freak of nature,” he said, smiling as he looked down at his fallen foe. “It will make giving this place to mother that much more sweeter than if I had been forced to destroy it.”
Elsewhere, hiding within the remains of a building that had already been sacked, Will o’ Wisp was, for the first time since becoming an action-hero, truly scared for his own life. I can’t be doing this, he thought. Even if I was able to bring that black knight’s forces down to a two-to-one odds for those who were following me, there’s no way I can fight whoever is within the dark armour. He seems to immune to my light-based attacks.
Percy Sheldon slowly searched through each building on that street, looking for his glowing foe, the main reason that his mighty army had been whittled down from one hundred of England’s worst killers to about twenty, an event that annoyed him greatly. “Come on out and play, you glowing disease,” he said as he continued hunting Will o’ Wisp. “I’m sure mother will know just what to do with you and your worthless kind.”
The battle between Steel Maiden and Samuel Davis had quickly moved down the street, and Steel Maiden had quickly disarmed her black-armoured foe, but it seemed even her strength was not enough to even dent the armour he wore, nor had she knocked him down once. Only on occasion had she been able to even cause him to stagger.
“Why will you not fall, you blackguard?” Steel Maiden asked as she once again landed a well-placed blow to the breastplate of the dark armour.
Never flinching from her blows, Sam only laughed as he again returned blow for blow by swinging one of his own, which Steel Maiden managed to dodge with an agility that seemed impossible. “I’ve already told you, wench — you cannot hope to win against me. All women are known to be weak of muscle, and mind as well.”
“I am the heir of the ancient warrior queen Boudicca,” roared Steel Maiden. “I am weak before no man!” She balled both her hands together, trying to clobber her foe off of his feet, but her actions only succeeded in placing her into the capable reach of his own hands.
With an agility that could only come from many years of practise, Samuel quickly reached out with his gauntleted hands and grabbed hold of Steel Maiden’s shoulders, quickly shouting out three ancient words. His gloves arced with electricity, and the sound of thunder could be heard in the distance as the hair on the heroine’s head began to stand straight up. As he released her shoulders, Steel Maiden quickly fell like a marionette doll with all its strings snapped, crashing roughly against the ground.
Piskie had continued to flee from her black-armoured foe, noticing that she was unable to affect the figure beneath the black helm. It was upon the third floor that she flew through an unnatural chill, yet one that she happily remembered. “Nightstalker? Just the ghost I’ve been hoping to see!” She smiled at her own joke, hoping they would have time to plan a strategy.
“Yes, Piskie, ’tis your companion, Nightstalker,” the ghost said in response. “I’ve been in contact with Miss Wright. ‘Tis she who advised me to help you, and I’ve already put a stop to the armed men in this part of the building.”
“Glad to have you on our side,” she said as she began to grow back to her normal height. “Now, do you think you can help me against my foe who’s chasing me?”
“If you’ve got a plan, then I might be able to continue being of help,” Nightstalker said.
Again smiling, Piskie looked over where she had heard Nightstalker’s voice and said, “Oh, I’ve got a little plan for our foe, and this is what I need you to do…”
On the other-dimensional island of Avalon, Merlin continued to watch the drama taking place on the world known as Earth-Four. He had asked the king of the fairies who made Avalon their home to send a few of his children toward the embattled British Isles, only to find out that neither of them had been able to breach the mystical barrier round the island, and those already within were no longer able to leave.
It was only a couple of hours ago that a bowl filled with a blue-tinted liquid had risen from the old oak table before him to spill onto the floor. After a moment’s shock, Merlin pointed toward a shelf across the room, and another crystal ball slowly floated over to the table and continued to float only inches above it.
The crystal ball was covered in a fine layer of dust, but even then the glow from the ball was still bright enough to be seen. Taking a rag from the table, Merlin quickly begin cleaning the crystal ball, and in seconds the scene before him gave him first a shock and, seconds later, a feeling of real hope.
“Finally, ‘twould seem that the great king has finally returned, and with Excalibur, I may be able to take action behind Morgana’s mystical barrier, even if neither I nor my allies are able to enter the British Isles.” With a soft wave of his mighty hand, a large, dusty tome began to float from a pedestal to make its way to the table. It opened before him, and he quickly began to scan through the pages.
In a long-forgotten, walled-up sub-basement of the Palace of Westminster that had centuries ago been used as a dungeon when it was still the residence of the Royal Family, several well-dressed people remained sitting on the floor where they had been placed when they arrived. Whole families were locked into this relatively small space without much ventilation or running water. Within one of the many full cells sat the Lady Serena Fitzmaurice with her adoptive parents. Attending a fundraiser in London when Morgana le Fay’s first attack took place, they were rounded up with the others. The young woman had thus been unable to use her natural-born super-powers as Lady Justice of the Union to achieve her own freedom and rescue the others without revealing to all within her secret identity.
What is happening outside of this… this place, wherever we’ve been taken, she wondered once more, looking round for what felt like nearly the hundredth time. She despaired as she saw the looks of depression on everyone’s faces and could hear the many coughs of those who had taken ill in these cramped quarters. She glanced over at her parents; her father was cuddling his wife, and her mother was sweating profusely, but had fallen into a fevered sleep. Oh, no! I can’t lose my mum. I’ve got to do something, but what? she asked herself.
As if in response to her question, a bright flash of light appeared, and as it disappeared, a figure she had not been expecting dropped from the ceiling, crashing onto the hard ground. She was astonished to see the unconscious form of her Union teammate, the Brixton Brawler, and he looked the worse for wear.
Matthew le Gros and Roger Pendragon rode through the night and into the next day without stopping for either rest or food. Finally, the two men arrived at the cottage that belonged to Roger’s ex-wife and children — a place he had never expected to return to ever again.
Slowly they steered the horses toward the little cottage, when Matthew noticed something strange to his left side. Quickly, he leapt off from his horse’s back, slipped his broadsword free from his scabbard, and landed on his feet facing that direction.
“Dr. Kni — Roger, move with great caution and due haste, my friend,” Matthew whispered. “Something’s wrong here.” He moved in silence toward the left side of the cottage, leaving his older companion, still atop his horse, a little dazed. After removing himself from the horse, the former prime minister cautiously made his way toward the front of the cottage, his eyes constantly scanning from side to side, as if expecting attack from either direction.
Behind the cottage, a feminine shape appeared from a glowing wall of darkness, only to be followed by a rather large man-shaped creature with grey skin, who was wearing ill-fitting pants and had dull-looking grey eyes.
Morgana le Fay looked at her surroundings, and a frown quickly formed upon her eerily beautiful face. “What has happened? We should have appeared within the dwelling before us, not in this worthless flower garden for all to see.” Her creature companion merely remained silent and mute in response to what she said.
Quickly making her way to the cottage’s back door, Morgana tried to open the door, only to let out a blood-curling scream as an arc of lighting escaped through the metal of the doorknob down through her body and into the ground, tossing her backward into the creature behind her.
At the sound of the scream, Roger decided to throw caution to the wind, worried about his ex-wife and children, whom he knew to be within. He scanned from left to right once again before finishing the final few steps to the front porch of the cottage, thinking to himself, I pray that she hasn’t changed the locks and has left the spare key where we always did before.
Matthew continued to silently make his way toward the back of the cottage, when he heard the scream. He ran for the final few feet until he reached the corner of the back wall and there heard words and a sound that nearly made him stop completely in his tracks.
Morgana le Fay picked herself up from the ground, staring at the door as if she had never seen one before. Turning, she looked at the grey creature that had accompanied her to the cottage and pointed at the door, speaking to it, “I want that barrier removed, and I want it done yesterday, or your precious offspring shall forever pay the price of your failure. Now go!”
The grey creature looked at Morgana, and for just a moment there seemed to be a bright intelligence within the eyes before they returned to a dull grey, and the creature moved closer to the cottage.
Morgana reached into a fold of her cloak and removed a small crystal ball. Speaking a few ancient words of Latin, she began to stare at the cottage through the orb.
At the front door, Roger again looked from left to right, and after a few seconds, he reached down and gently picked up a small rock. Flipping it over, he pressed the button there, and a small door key slipped into his hand. A small smile grew on his face. Never did think Elainia had really changed that much, he thought as he slipped the key into the lock and cautiously opened the front door.
Just as Matthew rounded the side of the cottage, the tall grey creature reared back its massive arms and quickly began to pound upon the back door with a strength that Matthew had never seen before. Because of the massive creature’s actions, miniature bolts of lighting could be seen streaking from the frame round the door, striking the creature squarely in the chest and head, causing it to roar out in pain.
“Sounds like there’s more to this giant than meets the eye,” Matthew said to himself, then noticed the woman standing there with the glowing orb.
Morgana le Fay continued to look through the crystal ball at the cottage and the surrounding lands, and she could see a crystalline glow surrounding the cottage before her, a phenomenon that she had experienced firsthand many centuries before. “I know this glow. It’s that doddering old fool that I was able to trick so long ago.”
She looked at the cottage for a moment and then, allowing the crystal to float at eye level, began to slowly chant a mixture of ancient Latin, Egyptian, and something long ago thought lost beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. A solid beam of darkness started to flow from her hands and flashed out toward the cottage, striking just as the juggernaut struck another blow.
Matthew watched from his hiding place as the space round the cottage seemed to glow brightly white for a few moments before slowly dimming and then fading away as the wooden door gave way to the powerful blows of the creature, splintering into many sharp pieces.
Roger quickly made his way into the living room of the cottage, holding a look of absolute shock at what he saw. His ex-wife was lying upon the ground between the two couches where their son and daughter were sleeping. What shocked him most was the glowing sight that was floating inches above his teenage son Arthur — a sword that he had only read about in legends and in his family diary passed down from generation to generation.
Without taking a moment to think as he heard the loud pounding coming from the back of the cottage, Roger quickly reached out and took hold of the sword by its hilt, becoming immediately bathed in a bright, glowing light. A voice could be heard within his head as he slowly stepped back from his family.
“The sword of legend is once again returned to the line of destiny. May it serve you and your descendants well, lion of Pendragon. Fare thee well.”
And with those words, the light was gone.