Greetings, milord and milady!
Once again, it seems that I have to beg for thy pardon, for the agonisingly slow update!
If you would like to catch up on the latest of Morgan Le Fay’s tale, you may do so in The Eventful Life of Morgan Le Fay.
Here’s a recap from the previous part, Quest of Avalon: Part IV
Morgan has defeated a couple of hags, and returns to hers and Merlin’s campsite, hurt and exhausted.
Suddenly, the ground tilts beneath my feet as I fall. Merlin jumps up to catch me, a startled exclamation leaving his lips.
‘What happened?’ He cries in alarm.
‘The hags are coming…’ I manage to slur, before I close my eyes.
I prefer to say that I fell asleep, but in actual fact, as Merlin claims, I fainted.
I next awake to the rocking of the horse, and realise that I am strapped to my saddle, lying in a rather uncomfortable position. My head is tilted back, and I watch Merlin ahead, clicking his tongue impatiently to encourage his horse, whilst leading my own stallion by its reins.
The pace he set is almost a full-out gallop, and I can already feel my stallion panting with exertion beneath me.
I sit up slowly, groaning softly at the ache that reaches my bones. I untie the bindings holding me to the saddle, clenching my stallion’s mane in my fists for support. For a moment, I wish that we can just use magic to transport ourselves to Avalon, but I remember that Avalon has many shields around it that stretches for miles, preventing an outsider from entering with magic.
‘Not so fast, Merlin. We’ll ride the horses to their deaths.’ I call out to that fool.
He whips around, then smiles when he sees me. His smile has a tinge of tension at the ends though, and I frown at him.
‘The hags are truly on our tails.’ Merlin says grimly.
I sit up straight in my saddle, craning around to glance behind. The wide forest path is empty.
The world suddenly spins before me, and I catch my breath as I cling on to my stallion’s mane desperately.
‘My lady!’ Merlin cries, accidentally reverting to formality in his panic.
At the pace we are going, if I fall, I’d probably break my neck.
‘Morgan, your cuts had traces of baneberry. It took quite some time to heal you, and then once I knew you were not on the brink of death, I stopped. There was not enough time to complete the healing spell.’ Merlin says gravely.
‘Ah, that explains it.’ I murmur. Baneberry is a common poison—the hags must have coated their scythes with the poisonous oil.
Weak as I am now, I dare not concentrate on a healing spell, lest I fall off the horse. Sighing, I rest my head in the crook of my elbow, trusting Merlin to lead us to the point where Avalon and the human world touch each other.
The sun reaches its zenith, and starts to drop. We have only stopped once to rest the horses, and upon hearing the horrible screeches coming from behind, we had hurriedly kicked our horses into a steady canter, continuing our journey.
My head does not feel quite as light as before, and a measure of strength has returned to my limbs.
At last, evening comes, and Merlin calls out grimly, ‘Not much further!’
The horses are flagging, moving slower despite our repeated encouragements. My stallion’s ears are pressed flat upon his head, and I feel guilty for pressing him so hard.
There is a not- so- distant screech behind us, I tense and look behind, but see nothing but lengthening shadows on the dirt road, framed by trees.
Merlin and I share a look, and I know that we are thinking the same thing—Should we transfer our strength to the horses, to increase their speed? Or keep our strength, to face the hags?
Strength or speed, which shall it be? The implications are severe—the lives of two faeries, the fate of a king, the destiny of a kingdom!
I see Merlin shake his head at me, and then his eyes widen as he looks past my shoulders in the gathering gloom, seeing the hags shuffle out, their hoods pulled low over their faces.
Merlin and I urge our horses on with frantic calls, and we burst out onto the end of the road, which curves out widely on either side of a beautiful creek. The bubbling and cheerful splash of water upon the rocks calls out to me. My heart answers readily, ‘Avalon, I am not far from ye!’
Ooh! They are about to enter Avalon! How do you think it will look like? Also, will they escape the hags? More to come! 🙂