Good day! I hope you enjoy this tale from the Arthurian Legends. I have taken the characters and have tweaked them quite a fair bit. Happy reading!
“I am glad you came, although it is against your wont. I would have dragged you here either way,” King Arthur guffaws.
“I only wish to ensure your safety, Sire.” I grimace, stepping to the side of the throne as my half-brother opens his mouth to reply. Let it be said that I, Morgan Le Fay, enchantress of King Arthur’s court, do not indulge in pointless blathering.
Yet, I find myself in a grand hall tonight, with rows of wooden tables groaning under platters of succulent meat and flagons of mead. The sweet scent of honey hangs heavy in the air. The great fireplace crackles heartily, its light glinting off dozens of gems studded on the nobles’ surcoats. I myself am decked out in sweeping swaths of velvet, rubies glittering in my ebony hair.
I take a turn about the hall, sipping from a goblet. I cannot help but listen to the nobles’ whispers about a sable-haired enchantress who has captured the King’s heart. They fall silent as I pass.
I turn to see Arthur, head thrown back, laughing carelessly. His hair burns burnished bronze in the firelight, blending with the golden circlet hidden amongst his curls. He doubtless looks appealing, but beneath that pretty face lurks nothing. Besides, he is my half-brother, something the nobles have missed, and I would sooner stab myself than consider a romantic tryst with him.
Thinking of family brings my thoughts to Morgause, my sister, the reason I guard the King tonight. I stand ready to defend Camelot, my home, against her insidious plots to gain the throne.
I recall a time when we were not foes, but sisters. We had learnt the arts of magic together. Yet, she had merely left our estates one day, without a farewell. I heard from the servants that she had eloped with a knight.
Years passed, and not a single letter arrived. I set off looking for her, and was unprepared for the disaster she had left behind. She had ravaged an entire village with fire. I was nearly burnt at the stake when I was mistaken for her. A dozen of Arthur’s knights had been found dead in the forest, their throats slashed, though their swords remained in their scabbards. It was an act of magic, and I knew from witnesses that it was Morgause. I hastened to my half-brother’s side – the only family I have left. Till this day, I have yet to face her. Dread churns in my gut. Despite everything, she is my blood.
I return to myself when I find my goblet empty. As I step beside the throne, I breathe a quiet sigh.
The heavy doors burst open with a bang.
It is Morgause, as if summoned from my thoughts. She is in flowing robes of emerald, and upon her sable curls rests a golden crown. Her striking amber eyes mirror mine, and her lips pull into a sneer as I step in front of the King. The nobles keep a watchful silence.
“Greetings, my love,” she says. What –
But her gaze is fixed over my shoulder, and I turn and stare as Arthur rises to his feet with an enamoured smile. I blanch, realising the rumours are rooted in truth.
“She loves you not,” I growl. But he brushes past me and enfolds her in his arms.
“How long…” My voice shrivels.
“Since last winter’s eve,” Arthur smiles. “This is her coronation celebration!” He throws his arm to encompass the room.
“You had me play the dunce while you cavorted with the enemy,” I say, stricken.
“Your claim to the throne is now mine.” Morgause’s voice is cold and cruel.
“Camelot is not my inheritance, nor yours,” I say quietly.
“Then I stake my claim on it!” Morgause snaps. The flickering flames cast ever-shifting shadows on her face, and she appears tall and terrible and powerful.
“Whatever happened to you?” I ask softly.
“He left me for another.” Her face twists in an ugly expression. I realise she is talking about the knight she had eloped with.
“Why did you not return home?”
“There was nothing there.” Her eyes are hard as flint.
“I was there,” I whisper.
“There was no future; only a blinkered existence awaited me,” she says baldly.
“Aiming for Camelot’s throne and slaughtering others is a grand vision indeed,” I say bitterly.
“I am forging my future, instead of doing as you did.” She sneers.
“To what end?”
“Till I am satisfied. Now, step aside,” she says commandingly.
She raises her arms suddenly, and fire rises from the fireplace, leaping wildly at me. The nobles flee the hall with panicked shouts.
Magic can only control objects, not humans. To keep myself from burning to a crisp, I see no other way than to push the fire away from myself. The pillar of flame remains motionless, as it is my strength against hers, neither one yielding to the other.
Just as my vision grows dim, the fire rushes away from me in a gush. I smirk as Morgause lowers her arms, grimacing.
It is now or never.
I rush towards her, a dagger in my hands. I stay the final blow, holding it against her throat. Arthur stands frozen and pale. In that breath of stillness, her limbs tremble with fatigue, yet her eyes glint with stubborn cruelness. It wipes the uncertainty from mine.
I slash the dagger across her neck. With my dwindling strength, it lodges halfway – not a clean cut. Crimson splatters my face as she falls, gagging and choking noisily.
We are but two sides of the same coin, sister.
Arthur howls wordlessly. The taste of iron lingers on my lips as my eyes blur. Camelot is safe, yet my hands have become as sullied as Morgause’s.
“Leave,” King Arthur utters, with a dreadful finality.
As the doors fall shut, I glimpse the King kneeling before an empty throne. I can do naught but leave the kingdom in the hands of a foolish, grieving man. Yet, I vow silently, Camelot, I will return to thee.
So there we have it! I suppose King Arthur is not as noble as you think, eh? 😉 Let me know your thoughts!