The blond haired man was dumped unceremoniously on the floor at the Saxon King's feet. His back was a flayed mess of blood and skin, his torso a bitter patchwork of angry cuts and bruises. Barely conscious, his long hair lay lank over his face. As her guards stepped back from their prisoner, Morgause swept seductively from behind them, drawing Hengist's eyes away from the half dead man at his feet to feast on her slender form and sardonic smile.
"I bring you a gift, my King," she said, her voice dripping honey and poison.
Morgause bowed and stood waiting. Hengist remained seated on his throne, wary eyes watching her every move.
"Why should I trust you?" demanded Hengist, leaning forwards, eyes intent.
"There is no reason you should. Yet. Perhaps I should demonstrate my allegiance, may I present you with your gift?"
Hengist nodded, intrigued, and the woman snapped her fingers. The guards hauled the prisoner into a kneeling position, his hands tied securely behind his back.
"I see you've had your fun with this one, Morgause," muttered Hengist.
"Lancelot and I have a history, my King," she smirked.
"Lancelot!" Hengist's gaze snapped to the prisoner. "That is Lancelot?"
Morgause lifted the long blond hair away from the kneeling man's face, tilting his head up to show the handsome visage of Arthur's famed warrior knight.
"I take it you recognise him, sire?"
"I do. He and Arthur defeated me in battle five years ago, and forced us to sign the accords which now bind us to this Shore."
At the mention of his name, Lancelot roused, lifting his head high to stare balefully at Hengist.
"May I demonstrate my fealty to you sire?"
"You may," replied Hengist.
Morgause nodded at one of the soldiers who stood off to one side. Lancelot's head was jerked back by his hair, exposing the jugular vein in his neck. Morgause pulled a silver bladed knife from her belt and tested the edge with her thumb, the blade flashing in the torchlight.
Lancelot switched his bitter gaze to the beautiful, cold visage of Morgause, his pale blue eyes boring into hers.
There was no sign of emotion or remorse as the woman dipped her blade into the man's throat, watching with dispassionate cruelty as the fabled warrior, and Arthur's most renowned Knight, died without a sound. Morgause spat on the corpse and moved to stand in front of Hengist walking carefully around the spreading pool of dark redness as she licked the blood from the blade, sheathing it back at her belt.
Hengist ignored the sudden chill he felt from the woman's actions, choosing instead to focus on their earlier conversation. "This information you have could bring Arthur to his knees if used correctly. You say your brother Arthur is considering this suggested course of action?"
"The King has no choice. The only way he can keep fighting the war to the north, and continue to defend against the potential threat your warriors pose, is to pay mercenaries to assist. That requires gold. The mines in Wales and Cornwall are not producing large enough quantities at the moment, so Merlin has come up with a plan."
"Merlin," spat Hengist, "he is the bane of my existence."
"As he is mine, but he is an old man now, grey and feeble."
"That's as maybe, but he is still Merlin: Merlin the Legend, Merlin the Magician. So Morgause, you would turn traitor to bring down not only your brother but your husband too?"
"Arthur can burn in hell as far as I am concerned, and Lot, well he only wants my body."
"I can see why," smiled Hengist, lust in his eyes. "So, what do I get from this alliance?"
"You, my King, become ruler not only of the Saxon Shore, but of all England. Hengist, High King." Morgause smiled coldly as the king leaned back into his throne, his mind ablaze with possibilities as Morgause continued, her soft tone seeming to fill the hall.
"I will give you the means to destroy Arthur and his cursed Knights and bring down the Round Table and the word of Law. We will burn Merlin at the stake, ruin his plans, and pillage Camelot. Then, my King, you will get me too."
"Sounds like an interesting proposition," rumbled Hengist. "So what do you stand to gain from this?"
Morgause smiled and walked towards him, swaying her hips.
"I, my King, become High Queen at your side. I become rich and powerful and secure the deaths of Arthur, Lot, and Merlin.
"Above all, I get to kill Merlin."
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(Historical Fiction / Adventure) Treachery and intrigue, adventure, action and romance are at the fore in this tale set around the legends of Arthur and Merlin. The court of King Arthur is under threat from Hengist's Saxons who, lured by the...