A Sword of Roses, Reunion

“… so the minstrel and I made off like bandits, heh heh. She was a wicked lass, that’s for sure, heh heh. She couldn’t handle much of the drink, that’s for sure, which was good for me. I think my vows were in danger that night, if you know what I’m talkin’ about, heh heh. At any rate, she left in the morn off to Hurbury and…”
Binge had talked almost the entire time they had known each other, but strangely Mericet found himself liking the man more and more each day. For one, Binge’s fondness of his own voice made it easier for Mericet to simply be quiet and not be forced to share any of his past, which was a welcome relief. There wasn’t a day that he had not thought about the murder of Eurians, and even after the facts surrounding his death became clear, Mericet couldn’t put that act behind him.
Nor could he wonder how he was going to face the world outside the Isle of Apples. He knew, however, that his claim to the Rose Sword was a prelude to some greater calling and that destiny, whatever it was, involved the Albion he once knew.
Of course, much of his thought revolved around the people he knew to still be fighting the war. Eurians death helped the realm quite handsomely. Almost immediately after his treason was discovered, Albion’s warriors went on the counter-offensive, seizing back the realm proper and even recovering the Scabbard of Excalibur. Mericet knew that his old friends still roamed the world, and at times, had seen a few of them in town of Gothwaite, but always from a distance.
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“… aaaaand I’m spent.”
“Huh?” Mericet shook the cobwebs from his mind.
“My jug’s empty, and that means it’s time to go shopping, heh heh.” Binge started back towards town. “Hey, ya know I heard they have a new apple cider in Wearyall. Heh heh, I’ve always wondered, if the good folk of Albion ever could make a beer as well as mine, heh heh. I think we should bloody well find out, don’t you?”
“Sure, I could use a horse ride.” Mericet stopped. Before him stood five faces he could never forget, all chatting with each other. One, a female face that seared in his mind with her holiness and gentle love, turned towards Binge and himself, and recognition spread across her features. With her turned the faces that all burned in his memory, Wade, Gaelis, Bregor and Barlyic, and Mericet lowered his eyes, waiting for the storm to begin.
“Binge!” cried out Phantasee. The Scotti cleric ran out and gave the friar a tight hug.
“Ahhh m’lady, you’ve been nippin’ at mah virtues again with that fragrance, huh, heh heh. But I haven’t enough fine ale in mah yet to risk that one’s wrath!” Binge pointed his prominent chin in Gaelis’ direction.
“For shame, my friend, lay your hands off my dearest love, for doubtless your virtue would not stain her, I fear greatly for my wife’s fine clothes and having them smell as if she were a serving maid that spilled on herself.” The highlander grinned and extended a hand. “God’s been good to you, Binge.”
“Aye, and to you for stickin’ all of that in one breath, He’s given you mighty lungs, heh heh!” Binge laughed a little too hard his own joke. “Ah, but where are my manners? Found a lostling in search of friends and some ale, bloody good bloke too, ah Barly, got any ale on ya?” The mercenary laughed. “Anyway, this here is Mericet. No secrets between us,” said Binge grandly before taking a sip from Barlyic’s beer jug.
Mericet nodded, his eyes darting from face to face searching for recognition. All eyes focused on him as he lamely nodded. “Gentlemen. Maam.”
Binge laughed. “Hah, he’s not one for words, but he’s wicked fast with that cord there, heh heh. Bloody tight in a fight too.” He stopped to drain more ale.
“Yes,” a new voice said, “Mericet’s been one of our rising stars.” Another Briton reaver, a man Mericet knew, joined the group. “All of us that serve Arawn know of Mericet Rose.”
Barlyic smiled. “Barlyic Darkhawk, nice to meet you, Mericet. You know Myrik it seems. This is Gaelis, and this gentleman, and I use the term loosely, is Wade Cunningham, these two are my Generals. My pastor, Bishop Bregor, and Gaelis’ wife, Phantasee.” Mericet swam in the information. Gaelis and Phantasee married, Bregor the new Bishop, and suddenly, what was left of Mertel felt homesick.
“You must excuse Mericet,” Myrik explained. “He’s been in training for so long, he’s been so shut off from the home realm. However, Barlyic, I think he would do well to get out with us sometime.” Myrik looked back at Mericet, who stood trying to understand what Myrik was doing. Surely Myrik if nobody else knew who he was…
“I’d be honored, Lord Darkhawk.” Mericet nodded. Heflinched at his words, trying to sound so much different than the man they knew as Mertel. Mericet could see Wade scowling at him and panic fluttered within.
“Please, call me Barly. Very well then, Mericet, welcome to the Fourth Wall.” He smiled widely. Binge gave out a whoop.
“Now let’s get to the drinkin’!”
********************************************
Wade threw him against the wall later that night. For an irrational second, Mericet reached for the Rose Sword, but found himself unable to draw arms against his old friend.
“Let it all out, Cunningham… don’t… hold back.”
“Shut up. I know of you. I investigated all the rumors of Eurians’ death, and your name kept coming up.” Fear leapt into Mericet’s stomach and knotted. “Funny, the Inconnu all said that the Briton fled to here and met the Rose Sword, isn’t that what they call you?”
Mericet laughed weakly. “Yes, Mericet of the Rose. What does this have to do with an Albion Bishop, Wade?”
“You know damn well what it has to do with. Mertel, the man who murdered the Bishop. What did you do with him?”
Mericet laughed, the irony of it all bitter in his mouth. “He got much more than he deserved.”
“WHAT?! Tell me you tortured him. Tell me just a little bit, that’s all I need to gut you like a pig, you scum.” Wade picked up Mericet by the neck and held him tight against the wall as he pulled a thin dirk from his belt.
Mericet coughed weakly. “He was given a second chance. Would Camelot have done the same?”
Wade frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Let Mertel fade from history, Wade. He fled Camelot long ago, and I’m sure he’d come back if he wanted. If he could.”
“What did you do to him?”
“I did nothing to him. He did it to himself.”
Wade features twisted in hatred. “I swear if I find one more scrap of evidence that you… you…” Disbelief flooded his face. “You. You’re…”
“Mericet,” he growled. “I am Mericet and that as they say, is that, Wade. I am not the same man you knew, and I have no desire to be so.”
Wade shook his head. “People will know. Hell, I knew, even if it took me a while.”
“Will they? Not even Barlyic knew, and he above all people should know my features, my manner, my face. But he didn’t, and neither will anyone else.”
“Fine. Mericet.” He turned away, dropping Mericet in a heap on the ground, who sat clutching at his neck in pain. “You dropped this, you know…” and Wade tossed the long dirk on the ground near Mericet’s leg.
Immediately he recognized the dagger… and remembered whose chest he had left it in.
… to be continued.

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