Fantasy battle warrior

Marius nudged his horse closer, bringing Anton back into the present. “What’s that over there, at the edge of the forest?”

Following the direction of Marius’s finger, Anton allowed a touch of his power out to improve his eyesight. He saw the unmistakeable signs of soldiers on horseback. “Draw up” he snapped back. “Into defensive formation”.

Reinaldo sat back on his horse and checked that the militia were getting themselves into the right place. He cast a grim look at Anton who shrugged slightly. Meilyr had had no need of a serious army for far too long. The men and women who formed the militia were willing and keen but untried and undisciplined. If they were lucky this was just an advance party of general infantry, if they were unlucky they might just end up dead. Continue reading

self care 2A couple of years ago I was walking around school when I bumped into a colleague who also happened to have been my old English teacher. He asked how I was, and I replied by telling him all about my concerns over one of my students and what I was doing to try and help him on the right path, and how hard it was for him. He nodded and smiled and then said, “But I asked how are you. How are you doing?”. I thought for a moment and then answered pretty honestly about my stress levels and tried to smile through my list of wider school commitments.  He smiled and said the following, proving to be just as wise now as when he taught me at 15:

 

You can’t do it all. Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. 

 

It hit me hard. Because here’s the thing: I don’t believe you can last as a teacher in the current system if you don’t care deeply about students, but I also don’t think you can last as a teacher if you care at the expense of your own sanity.

 

The same rules apply for our relationships with everyone. Continue reading

I’ve been watching Wynonna Earp and thinking about the whole Chosen One trope. I love it. I know it’s a bit problematic at times (what with it’s occasional overtones of privileged saviour and the tendency to jump over plot holes) and prone to cliche and suffering from a case of the Mary Sues, but it has always spoken to me.

 

It must speak to others too because there’s an abundance of examples to choose from. Films like The Matrix have their Neo, and Star Wars attempted to make Anakin a chosen one (I reserve a little judgement on that one). Harry Potter is all about the Chosen One, although it plays with it in various ways. Many of my favourite TV shows centre on a chosen one – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon A Time, Merlin, and now Wynonna Earp.

 

As I prepared my lists of Chosen Ones, it struck me that they all, with the possible exception of Merlin and Arthur, and maybe Luke Skywalker, are reluctant saviours. At least at first. Usually they grow into their role. Emma Swan ends up merging who she is with her role as saviour, and Wynonna Earp gets antsy if she thinks she’s being left out of the action.  Once we’re made important it’s hard to back down from that. Especially once we accept that we’re actually doing some good too. Continue reading

this is from my Merlin fanfic, most of which has been uploaded here, with the remaining chapters being uploaded soon.

 

The train was crowded and they ended up split between carriages. Merlin shoved the tickets in his pocket. Leon hadn’t been happy that the knights had to leave Arthur with Morgana but he’d been quietly adamant that she was staying with them and Gwaine had cast him an uncomfortably knowing look before throwing his arm around Leon’s shoulder and practically pushing him through to the next carriage. Oddly it had been Lancelot who had been the most settled about Morgana joining them. He’d been quietly helping her with her bag and walking next to her into the station when the others still, consciously or otherwise, were leaving a big space between them. At least Arthur was speaking to her. He smiled wryly to himself. Looked like a fun journey ahead.

“Merlin”, Gwen’s voice pulled his attention back to the now. “Where did you go before, when we were on the platform?”

“Ah yes, I’d nearly forgotten with Leon’s strong and not so silent act.” He stood and pulled his bag back down from the overhead rack, digging his hand down the side pocket until he found it. “I was getting this”. He sat back down and passed it to Arthur.

The look on his king’s face as he unwrapped the red and gold iPod was worth every penny. “There’s music on it already, the guy in the shop transferred mine over but we can set you up an account and you can get what you want.”

“Thank you, Merlin”

“My pleasure, Sire.”

Morgana leaned close to him as Arthur carefully unwound the headphone cord. “Red and gold? Pendragon colours. I didn’t know they sold them like that.”

“They don’t. I had to get creative”

She regarded him for a moment, a thoughtful smile on her face. “Nicely done Merlin.”

He shrugged and made a face, putting his hands in his pockets before he tried to hold her hand again. “Well, least I could do. It’s worth it to watch him explaining to Gwen what it all is.”

Gwen must have heard him and she caught his gaze and waggled her brows at him, a smile in her eyes.

He settled back in the chair. He’d come to resent traveling but these recent train rides with Arthur had him noticing again how nice they could be. The countryside flashed past and the rhythmic rumbles of the wheels had him glancing around in contentment. Morgana’s brows were furrowed but she smiled when she noticed him looking at her. The flower was still in her button hole, but it was a different cardigan. He took his hands out of his pockets and reached over to take the map from where it sat squashed between Arthur and the wall.

The table was just big enough for him to lay the map out and not get in the way of Morgana and Gwen’s takeaway coffee cups. It was his own map and the red lines and post it notes showed the location of those places known now only to him. His brows contracted. And Keliandra. Possibly Mordred too. Bugger. And whoever that ‘my lady’ was probably knew some of them. Well, he’d just have to be clever about this.

Morgana picked up her coffee cup and leaned in to look at the inset map of Caerleon. “What’s that? The black mark just outside the town?”

He pressed his lips together and then when she drew back he mentally kicked himself. “Sorry. Uh, that is Camelot. Or it was. Nothing there now”

Glancing up at Arthur he was pleased to see he was busy with the music and holding an earbud up for Gwen to listen to. It was too soon for Arthur to see what Camelot had become.

Morgana’s face was stony but he knew those eyes and it wasn’t anger but hurt that had made her shut down. He nudged her with his shoulder. “Hey, sorry. Old habits you know”

Her smile was a brittle flash on her face as she leaned back in her chair and put her cup down, letting out a sigh. “I know.”

Shaking his head at himself he turned back to the map. There was a place he hadn’t been for a couple hundred years but if it was still there it would be a good base, and it was far enough away from Caerleon that they should be able to avoid Keliandra.

The screech of the wheels brought his head up a second before a massive jolt sent the cups flying to the floor and Morgana crashing into the table.

Arthur shot to his feet and Merlin stood more slowly, having checked that Morgana hadn’t hit her head.

“Accident?”

“Not sure. The train’s stopped though.”

It had happened too quickly for anyone to scream and now people were beginning to wonder aloud what had happened and to pick up their belongings from where they’d fallen. Gwaine pushed through the jammed door.

“Merlin!”

“Gwaine, you alright in there?”

There was no smile on his friend’s face. “Leon got hit in the head with someone’s case but apart from the blood he’s fine. Merlin, I don’t think this is an accident”

He stiffened as the same feeling he’d had in the cafe hit him. He met Arthur’s eyes and knew his king had picked it up too. There was no point wasting time, they’d be here in moments. Stepping over Morgana into the aisle of the carriage he put his hands up to rest on either side of the luggage racks, bracing himself against any further impact.

“Everyone! Listen up, there’s been an accident, you need to move to the carriage behind. In fact, get them to move too, right to the end of the train, and lock the door.”

A middle-aged man in shorts and a bright shirt stood and faced him. “Lock the door? What kind of accident is this? And who are you to tell us what to do?”

“Listen, sir, there’s really no time. You need to go. Now.”  No-one was moving. Why didn’t they move? An idea hit him.

“I didn’t want to say but you’ve given me no choice.” He flashed his lapel. “Secret Services. There’s been an attack. You have to go. And quietly”

That got them moving. He hated to see the fear in their faces but the bombs and uzis of their imagination would have nothing on what was possibly approaching.

Arthur stood, clenching his fists. “Merlin, give me something to fight with.”

“Me too”

He looked at Gwaine. “What do you expect me to do, magic up a sword or two?”

“Could you?”

“No!”

Thumps and screams reached his ears and the train rocked violently. He braced against the rails under the luggage racks and managed to stay upright. His eyes flicked up. Now that might work. Standing back, he held up a hand. “Heawan” he murmured and saw gold as his eyes flashed. A perfect cut appeared in the metal rail and he smiled. Quickly making five more cuts he threw a bar to Arthur and passed two to Gwaine. “I’m pretty sure Percival has a knife. Gwaine” He called his friend back as he turned to go with the makeshift weapons. “If we get separated, meet us at the place I took you last summer.”

Gwaine nodded and ran back through the door which was now hanging from one hinge. The carriage continued to shake and, grabbing the map, he stuffed it hurriedly back in his jacket pocket. Morgana passed him his rucksack and then pulled a knife out of her own bag.

“What?” she asked when she saw him eying it

“Nothing”.

“London’s not always safe, I’ve had this for years.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“You didn’t have to.”

He rolled his eyes. “Come on, we need to get off the train.”

The outside door was jammed and he didn’t bother trying to push it, instead he made sure the others were behind him and muttered ‘Brecan” and the door exploded outwards.

Arthur’s voice came over his shoulder. “Handy.”

“You go first, Arthur, I’ll help Gwen and Morgana”

Gwen screwed her face up at him as Arthur jumped down, avoiding the bits of broken door. “Thanks, but I don’t exactly need help to jump down a few feet.”

She jumped down into Arthur’s waiting arms and he grinned. That was very like the old Gwen. He turned to Morgana and her frown brought his own brows together.

“Hey, you ok?”

“Yes. It’s just the magic. I miss it. You know?”

He reached out for her. “Don’t worry, it will come back. I’m sure you’ll find it soon.”

She let him hand her down even though he was sure she would have no trouble jumping. He turned as Gwaine and the others came back through the door, Lancelot with an arm under Leon’s shoulder. The knight looked a mess with blood covering half of his face but he smiled at Merlin. “Just a scratch. I’m fine really. Stupid suitcase.”

He smiled back but his heart stopped when a sound he’d not heard in a long time thundered through the air and Gwaine was yelling a warning. Lancelot dropped Leon to the floor of the carriage and threw himself over him. Merlin just had time to leap out the door when a ball of energy hit the carriage, knocking it sideways. Glass shattered. The force threw him flat to the ground. He heard Gwen cry out and Morgana yelp and he shook his head to get rid of the ringing sound. He could see Arthur leaning over Gwen and he moved towards Morgana until she spoke between gritted teeth, “I’m fine, check on the others”

The carriage was on its side, twisted metal pushing against the carriages behind. Screams were coming from the other carriages but he didn’t hear anything from their one. He pulled himself up onto the top to try to reach the door and nearly banged heads with Percival.

“Merlin! We’re fine. Shaken but fine. Might take us a while to get out though and I don’t think you should hang around.”

“We can’t just leave you here!”

Percival shot him a smile and his eyes flashed. “Yes you can, we’re knights of Camelot, Merlin, sworn to protect the king. We’ll get out and cover your retreat. Gwaine knows where to meet you. I’ll make sure he stays alive to tell us”

“Ha, thanks.”

They gripped forearms and he dropped back down. The noise he’d heard before, the one he still heard in nightmares, circled around high in the sky and he ran towards the others. “Arthur, we need to go. Now.” He skidded to a halt by Morgana. She was having trouble standing.

“What is it?”

“Ankle, twisted I think. You better go on without me, I can stay with the knights”

“No. You come with us. We might need you”

Her mouth screwed up. “I’m not exactly helpful right now”

“I don’t know, that knife is pretty scary, if we see some rabbits that is.” She bit back a laugh and he took her hand to help her up. “Come on, Morgana. You’re with us now. Like it or not.”

She let him steady her but she was able to walk on her own towards Arthur who stood with Gwen draped in his arms, her eyes flickering.

“To the trees, Arthur. I can help Gwen there”. It was over a hundred yards to the forest but he didn’t want to stay out in the open and there were too many civilians in the train. These didn’t seem like Keliandra’s tactics but they felt familiar.

From the distance, there came another boom and seemingly from nowhere a horde of men came running towards them, weapons raised. Merlin looked at them with his sorcerer’s eye and his heart hardened.

“Arthur. Do you remember the Knights of Medhir?”

Arthur’s arms tightened around Gwen. “Unfortunately, I do. I thought we got rid of them.”

“Looks like this is version 2.0. Run. Run Arthur! You must protect Guinevere.”

Arthur turned and ran for the trees, Morgana stumbling behind him, casting Merlin a glance over her shoulder.

Merlin looked to the train, torn. Percival and Lancelot dropped from the carriage, their metal bars and Percival’s knife out in front of them. “Go Merlin!”

“They aren’t normal warriors! These are the undead!”

Percival’s eyes widened but Lancelot hoisted his bar thoughtfully and lifted his eyebrows at Merlin.  He smiled. How could he have forgotten. He stretched his arms out, feeling the power flow through him, and said the words to strengthen their weapons. It would give them a fighting chance. “Bregdan anweald gafeluc” the blue glow surrounding the weapons lit up the smile on Lancelot’s face, and although Percival swore, he held tight to his knife and nodded at Merlin.

“Now go. Look after the king”

He ran.

Pollyanna 1“We can’t all be as positive as you!”

 

“Ugh, she’s always so cheerful”

 

“Being optimistic is just being naive”

 

I’ve heard all the above about myself, and about friends. One friend in particular was facing real pushback and scorn from new workmates on her optimistic approach to life and began to wonder if her positivity was really that annoying. I told her the truth – that it was one of her most endearing qualities, that her joy and laughter and boundless optimism had lifted up so many of us and we missed it every day now she no longer worked with us.

 

I like the way my sister once described my positive approach to life, she said: “When you meet people, you’re kind of like a big bouncy friendly puppy and no-one can quite bring themselves to kick you away”. Continue reading