Greetings milords and miladies!
Once again, for the thousandth time, I crave thy pardon for the lengthy wait! Life as a bard has been taxing, and I have been forced to pick up my lyre to take on another job, as a minstrel, in order to secure my daily meal of pottage!
Great, but enough of that hogwash! 🙂 Essentially, I’ve been busy with life, sorry!
If you recall, Merlin and Morgan were riding fast towards the gates of Avalon, closely pursued by the hags… You can read the previous part again, or if you prefer to catch up on other parts of the series, try The Eventful Life of Morgan Le Fay.
‘This is the gateway to Avalon!’ Merlin gasps, as he swings down from his horse and takes a protective stance with his staff. ‘Morgan. Take the horses and go. I’ll hold them back.’
‘No. The hags must not enter Avalon.’ I slide down my horse, unsheathing my sword with a loud ring. ‘No. I will stand by you and fight, Merlin.’
I push our horses out of the way, hear Merlin’s angry growl at my refusal, and then the hags are rushing out of the trees, bearing down upon us.
‘You will not enter Avalon,’ the ugliest of them all hisses at Merlin and I. I bare my teeth at her in response, and just as she steps into range, I move swiftly, separating her head from her shoulders.
She falls with a gurgle, even as magic is hurled at us, while the rest crowd in, scythes glistening with baneberry, eager for a taste of blood.
Merlin yanks me close, and together, we create an invisible shield that blocks off the attempts of magic and the poisoned scythes.
The hags hack at our shield, shrieking curses and dodging their blows. The ones we floor lay scattered by the creek, their purplish blood leaking into the gateway of Avalon. I curl my lips in disgust, as Avalon’s clear waters turn cloudy and a dirty purple.
Although Merlin and my skills at weaponry are considered the best in Camelot, we are tiring fast, our shield falling to pieces, our blows lacking in strength.
There are just too many hags.
Every one we floor is replaced by three. Our arms are coated with nicks and scratches, as we have grown clumsy in our weariness. I begin to sag, my guard lowering as I experience once again the effects of baneberry.
Suddenly, a scythe penetrates my guard and sinks three inches into my gut. I gasp in shock. Gritting my teeth, I lunge forward at my attacker, slashing from her left shoulder to right hip. Purple blood sprays out in a violet mist, as the hag drops like a puppet with its strings cut.
The baneberry enters my bloodstream easily, and I know that I will die if I do not cast a healing spell. But where do I find the strength and the time?
‘Go! Go and get help from Avalon!’ Merlin yells at me frantically.
My eyes widen, and I take a step back, cursing my own cowardice and injury, and for leaving our horses behind. The sole of my deer-skin boots touches the water.
With one last look at Merlin, who is struggling to hold up the hags by himself, I whip around and step into the creek, clear water rushing into my boots, sloshing up to my knees.
Suddenly, something rears up from the creek, sending a wave of water into my face.
A sea serpent surveys the battlefield, its long serpentine neck raised high above the water. I pause, staring wide-eyed and slack-jawed at it. Is it a protector of Avalon, or a third party in the battle we are having?
The serpent, its scales glistening like the moon, lowers its head a fraction to gaze at me through slanted eyes the colour of the ocean. It moves forward and touches its snout to my face, and instinct alone stops me from slashing at it—him—with my sword.
‘Tis Morgan Le Fay?’ The serpent speaks with a deep voice, the epitome of authority. I nod slightly, pain rendering me unable to speak. Behind me, Merlin suddenly lets out a cry as he receives another cut.
The serpent rears up high, sending me sprawling back onto the rocks by the creek. He opens his maws, fangs glistening in the waning sun, and breathes out… a white mist.
I feel a blast of chilled air, and turn in surprise to see the hags transforming into blocks of ice.
The mist drifts over Merlin, and I yell loudly, ‘No!’
Sorry for leaving you at a cliffy! Any comments? 🙂