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Chapter Seven

Unpleasant Reminders

The next morning started early. I was up before dawn to help Gawain dress and then saddled both our horses for the patrol through town that day. My wound felt much better, and when I inspected it as I tied a fresh bandage on, it seemed to be half way healed. I wondered if that had something to do with Merlin’s ministrations the night before.

            We met with the other knights and Arthur at the gates and set out for the town. We split up to cover as much ground as possible and asked anyone we found whether they knew anything of the whereabouts of Lancelot or his two companions. Several people tried to be helpful, but no one really had any hard evidence as to where the three men went, unless they were lying, though I could see no reason why they would.

            By mid-morning, I had spoken to no less than fifty people, and had not found out anything of use. I stopped by a water trough to let Elith drink, and while I stood, stroking his forelock, I happened to glance up and catch a movement out of the corner of my eye. I frowned, then saw a figure step out from behind a corner for a moment and stare right at me.

            I felt my heart in my mouth. Was it? No! But it was. It had to be, I could never mistake that face for it haunted my nightmares. It was Morgan la Fay.

            I was pulled by some invisible thread in her direction. I could not explain it, and never would be able to decide whether it was a want to end what was between us, or simply her manipulating me with magic. But I left my horse and walked down the alley, away from the traders’ stalls, against my better judgment. Dread filled me, but I was determined to face her; to finally put an end to this.

            When I got to the place she had been, I saw no one, and I began to wonder whether she had only been a specter of my imagination.

            “Mordred. It’s good to see you.”

            I spun around to find her behind me, dressed in a long red dress and black riding cloak with the hood pulled over her dark hair to conceal her features. I stepped back automatically before I steeled myself, refusing to fear her, though my heart was thumping wildly.

            “Lady Morgan,” I said. “I did not expect to see you.”

            “No?” she inquired, raising one dark eyebrow before she held her hand out to me. “Come. Let us talk; there is much I wish to discuss with you.”

            I followed her into a shed off a stable that was filled with bales of hay and feed. She flicked her wrist and the door shut behind us. I was about to speak, but I was suddenly flung backwards, and slammed against the wall. I tried to move, but couldn’t; I was stuck fast with magic. She advanced on me and leaned close to my face, grabbing my chin with one hand.

            “You have been here a month, and not one message to me, Mordred. I decided to pay you a visit to see whether you had forgotten or if something had befallen you.”

            “I find it impossible to forget, Morgan,” I told her firmly. “I just had nothing to say to you.”

            “Nothing?” she asked. “So you have not met with Arthur, and gotten into his good graces?”

            “He is a good man,” I replied boldly. “Better than you can ever hope to be.”

            She clenched her fist and I felt the familiar agony tighten around my heart, stealing my breath and causing me to wreathe. She finally stopped the pain and let me slide to the ground where I curled over, gasping for breath and clutching my chest.

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