The trip up the tallest building in the city gave him time to think, the whirring of the mechanisms on the lift forming part of a steady background noise to set his mind to work to. When the King asked for the Ultimate Defence of the Nation to be removed from storage and brought to the palace, there was no questions about why from the Vault Keeper. The only expected and permitted response was ‘Yes, your Majesty.’

It had been forty-one years since it was last removed. The Vault Keeper had an idea as to just why it was being retrieved now, relations with America as tense as they were, but that was neither here nor there.

The elevator doors slid open to reveal a summer sky as clear a blue as the finest sapphire, with wispy clouds drifting lightly along the low breeze. Below ran the warren of twisted streets and vast parks that formed London, the populous calm and setting about their business with due deference to the strongly ingrained work ethic they had been taught in school. The Keeper lingered a few minutes to watch as he mentally prepared himself.

“Sky and Space,” the Vault Keeper’s voice boomed, “Earth and Water, Sun and Gold, Moon and Silver. I announce myself as the Vault Keeper to these vast skies that basks over all of the Empire from East to West, North to South. Great Welkin, the Sky Vault of the Monarchy, I bid entrance in the name of the King. Will you permit me passage?”

The question hung in the air over London, before the breeze picked up. Those wispy white clouds were buffeted about towards the top of the building, coalescing into steps leading to a massive archway, double doors open just enough for him to get by. With a steady pace, he ascended the flight of stairs and stepped inside.

Excalibur waited for the Vault Keeper, the sword of legend being extended towards him hilt-first by an ethereal hand. He bowed before taking it, sliding it into the scabbard he had been given just before his departure from the palace. As the tip of the sword touched the bottom of the scabbard, the Vault Keeper was whisked away by the magic of the Royalty, leaving the clouds to part and resume their former activity.

“Vault Keeper.” The King intoned with a polite nod of his head.

“Your Majesty.” The Keeper bowed. “I have reclaimed Excalibur, as requested.”

“As I can see, Vault Keeper. As such, for the time being I name you Sword Bearer, in addition to your other duties for the Empire.” The King decreed to both the man and the court. “And with all possible haste we are to depart for Stonehenge. The American Republic grows bold after their invasion of Canada. We must rally the defences, both ancient and modern.”

“As you will, your Majesty.”


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