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chapter nine


I was on the stallion again before Gawain could even get over his astonishment. But before I spurred into action again, he found his voice.

            “Mordred, what are you doing? Stop!” he commanded.

            “I let him get away from me once,” I said, pausing only a moment. “I won’t let it happen again.” And I was away before he could offer any more protests, with only his screaming my name behind me. I knew I was alone now, for Gawain would take Guinevere back first before he would come after his foolhardy squire with the other knights. There was a moment of fear as I realized that I was now alone, for better or worse, but it was soon replaced by anger as I remembered Arthur’s still form lying on the tourney grounds and his blood that still stained my hands.

            I galloped after Lancelot, and saw him look back several times, gaging how close I was. Once again, I was gaining on him, my mount far superior, and I knew it would only be a matter of time before I would catch him, and then what? I would have to fight him, and hopefully I would be victorious again.

            I never got the chance to test that though, for I was suddenly yanked backwards from my saddle by an invisible force and blacked out for a second. The next thing I knew, I was lying on my back, gasping for air and trying to sit up. My sword was gone, having been lost in the fall and I frantically looked around for Lancelot.

            I saw him then, picking my blade up from the ground with a grin. He strode toward me, pressing the blade into my chest to keep me on my back.

            “Not so brave now, are you, little whelp?”

            “That’s enough, Lancelot.”

            I felt my whole body go numb, and it took me a moment to realize I actually couldn’t move, and it wasn’t just my reaction to her voice that had frozen me. Morgan la Fay strode out of the woods, lowering the hood she wore over her head. She was keeping me still with a spell. I couldn’t move a muscle. “You can have him once he has done what I need him to do,” she told Lancelot who had stepped away from me with a sneer. “But he won’t be able to do anything if you’ve beaten him to the point of death.”

            “Where’s my compensation, then?” Lancelot asked, and Lady Morgan reached into her robes and tossed him a small bag that clinked like gold.

            “Now leave. I have many things to discuss with young Mordred,” she said and turned to me with a wicked smile that made her eyes roil like a stormy sea. She released me from the hold of her magic and I sagged before I hauled myself to my feet, facing her warily, waiting any moment for the pain I knew was coming.

            “Again, Mordred, a month passes and you do not send me a single letter,” she said with a sigh, a pout on her lips. “I am disappointed. After all I did for you; the years of caring for your miserable hide, and this is all the thanks I get?” She was circling me now, tracing something into the ground with the end of a stick. “I gave you one small task and you can’t even complete that.”

            I tried to move out of the circle she was drawing, knowing it wouldn’t bode well, but she gripped my heart with invisible fingers and I was forced to my knees in pain. When she released me, she was kneeling in front of me, a knife in her hand.

            “And Merlin isn’t here to protect you this time,” she said with satisfaction. “He will be concentrating on Arthur right now. As you see, even Lancelot did a better job than you and he wasn’t even destined to kill Arthur.”

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