There was a biting cold that night. It chilled to the very bone as the woman stood alone, staring into the deep abyss her love had just passed through. She knew he was gone, but all she could do was stare. All she could do was remember when he had just been here only a few minutes ago. When his eyes had looked into hers and his arms had shielded her from the cold.
Her hair—like fire—caressed the night sky and her eyes stung with un-shed tears. She touched the tree he had disappeared into, teeth chattering from both the cold and the weight of her emotions.
"Where did you go?" She whispered, wanting his warmth back.
There was only silence as her answer, he could not talk back to her. He was gone, in another world. In another time.
She could only pray that this would work. She could only pray that his trip could save this world. She could only hope that he would find this girl and return her to Avalon. She was the only one that could save them all.
"He's gone," came a voice from behind her.
She didn't have to turn to know who that voice belonged to. Arthur, the former king of Camelot, the one who had once united man and magical creatures alike. Only now the kingdom had been snatched from him and taken by his wicked half sister, the evil Morgana.
"This girl you sent him to retrieve," the redheaded woman began, her fingers never leaving the tree her love had disappeared into. "Do you really believe she can unite the kingdoms again?"
"She can and she will, but she will need Merlin's help to do that, Nimue. The girl's magic is strong, possibly the strongest thing to exist in all Nine Realms, but only Merlin can help her unlock her true potential."
She turned to face her king. He was older now than when he had first taken the throne. He had a full beard that was colored with hints of grey, there were laugh lines around his mouth and even his once full head of hair was thinning. He wasn't as muscled as he used to be, however he still retained his broad shoulders and eyes so blue, they were like the ocean—easy to get lost in.
"I don't know what I'll do if he doesn't come home," Nimue said, turning back to look at the tree.
"You won't have to find out," Arthur assured her, standing at her side and staring at the tree as well. "Merlin is the toughest man I've ever known. If anyone can return the young wizardess home, it's Merlin. When he returns with the woman songs have been sung about, we will unite our kingdoms once more and the deaths of humans and magical beings alike will come to an end."
Nimue closed her eyes, wishing—not for the first time—that she had magic, too. Wishing that she was strong enough to follow Merlin into the portal and save the Chosen One. When he returned, she would make sure he taught her everything he knew about magic.
"And what if he fails," she whispered, her voice barely audible. She brought her cloak tighter around her. "What if he doesn't return."
It was quiet as Arthur considered the weight of what Nimue was saying. Merlin was such a powerful wizard, it had never crossed Arthur's mind that he might not return. But now, as he was forced to think of it, he realized it was a very real possibility.
"Then, not only," he finally said, "will I have lost a mentor and a great friend, but this kingdom will be lost to Morgana forever."