All hail Your highness!
Once again, it seems that I, as a bard, have delayed the continuation of the tales of Morgan Le Fay! Oh, how I crave thy pardon!
If you are looking to catch up with the previous tales, you can find the collection in The Eventful life of Morgan Le Fay.
As a recap from the earlier part: Merlin and Morgan are in the midst of travelling to Avalon, and they have just stopped for the night in the woods.
I awake suddenly, as if shocked out of my sleep with a bucket of cold water. I sit up abruptly, clenching my sword and looking about.
It is still dark—barely an hour has passed since Merlin and I have settled down for the night.
The back of my neck prickles—something has crossed our invisible shield.
‘Couldn’t sleep, lass?’ A voice chuckles from behind me.
I whirl around, flinging both hands up to summon my magic.
‘Ooh! She tries to do magic!’ The voice takes on a form, and an old hag steps out from the shadows.
I reach out for magic, but slam into a wall of resistance. My magic has been, somehow, blocked from my access.
‘What have you done?’ I hiss in anger.
‘Taken away the magic around you, of course.’ The hag grins, revealing crooked and yellow teeth.
‘Who are you? What do you want?’ I snap, snatching a quick glance at the still- sleeping Merlin.
‘I made your companion enter a deeper sleep.’ The hag cackles, reading my look. ‘Funny it didn’t work on you.’
‘So you were going to sneak around, and accomplish what, exactly?’ I ask loudly, hoping the noise will startle Merlin awake.
‘Perhaps, to deter you from entering Avalon.’ The hag picks at her long fingernails idly.
‘Well, you won’t.’ I answer resolutely, all the while shifting to my left, putting the campfire, which is still crackling with flames, between the hag and myself. I hope she will not notice my movements.
The hag moves closer, until we are glaring at each other across the fire.
Suddenly, my stallion and Merlin’s steed rear up high in the gloom, striking out at the hag, just as I kick at the fire, causing sparks to fly up at her face.
She shrieks, taking a step back, and I aim another kick sharply at Merlin’s rump, hoping the impact will wake him up.
The hag is abruptly beside me, she yanks on my wrist with blackened fingernails, and I slash at her with my long sword, held in my left hand.
But she is disappearing, and my sword passes through the air. Then, I start in alarm—I am falling through the air, following to where the hag has gone…
I fall on rocky- hard ground, scraping my cheek against the rough surface. I leap up immediately, to see the hag casting a spell at me, hands moving to form a purplish ball of light.
With a snarl, I drop my sword, spreading my hands wide to form a shield of air. Her purple light races towards me, slowing to a halt as it encounters my shield. With a flick of my wrist, I cause her own magic to fly back towards her, and it hits her square on the chest.
She gasps, before falling onto the ground.
‘What spell is it?’ I demand, stepping towards her and drawing my sword. Out of all my dealings with magic, I have never encountered one so strange and dark, such that even I cannot read its true intention.
‘Not telling…’ The hag is dissolving into nothing—she is paling like a ghost, becoming more and more transparent and less of substance.
Then, suddenly, I realise what her spell has done. She has cast a spell that sucks all the magic from the person’s body, leaving him devoid of all sorts of magic, just like a normal human. Since hags are purely magical creatures, her own spell has erased her existence.
‘Mine people are coming, Morgan Le Fay… You will never leave this place.’ The hag gives one last horrible smile, and she disappears.
The night is suddenly filled with loud screeches, and through the gloom in the rocky cave, I see figures shuffling towards me, their mouths wide open, emitting those bothersome noises.
Grimacing, I hold out my sword, wishing that I actually had the time to weave a spell to return to my camp.
They rush towards me with their odd shuffling gaits, hurling magic or else flinging themselves upon me. I form a shield of air, whirling and twirling amidst them and cutting them down.
They are not quite organized—most of their spells hit each other, and only a few bounce of my slowly weakening shield. There are a few places where my shield has gone thin, and this is where they have managed to scratch me with their cruel scythes.
At last, after what seems like hours, they are dead, or else dissipated, and I allow my shield to vanish, staggering against the wall, half in pain, half with weariness, from concentrating on keeping my magical shield up, despite the distracting blows of the hags.
‘Mine people are coming…’ The last of the hags, lying on the floor, mutters, before she too, like many before, vanishes.
My eyes widen in horror, and then I quickly pull my magic towards me, picturing my campsite with all my might. Finally, the rocky walls disappear, and I am suddenly standing before the fire, now dying embers, when the first rays of dawn hitting my face.
Merlin stirs, finally opening his eyes to find me standing over him, clothes torn and tattered, face and arms peppered with cuts and blood.
‘Good morrow, Morgan. Say, did you run into a rosebush?’ Merlin stretches, and then winces. ‘Argh, and why does my rump feel so sore?’
Do you think the hags are a real threat? Hang on, more to come! 🙂