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Chapter Eleven

Che Truth

When I woke, I was in the shade, lying on a small camp cot in a tent that had been set up on one side of the field for my own benefit. Gawain was standing over me as I opened my eyes, shaking his head in mock regret.

            “Well, Sir Mordred, that’s hardly the way to start off your knightly career; fainting like a girl.”

            I groaned and sat up, putting a hand to my head, pain pounding naggingly behind my eyes. “What happened?” I asked, the details fuzzy.

            “You finished your fight with Arthur, and what a fight, Mordred! I have never seen you do the like. And then he knighted you, and when everyone was cheering, you just dropped down, fainted clear away.” He put a hand to his brow dramatically. “The fame proved too much for you.”

            “I think it was the heat,” I said, closing my eyes as memory flooded back, hoping Gawain didn’t see my horror even though I feared it was plastered all over my face. “I haven’t fought in full armor, nor so vigorously before. I couldn’t get my breath. Maybe it was a bit overwhelming too,” I conceded, trying to smile to put Gawain at his ease.”

            He clapped a hand on my shoulder. “Let’s get you cleaned up so you can attend your celebratory feast. Arthur was worried about you, just dropping like that, but I assured him you were likely all right, if not a little peely wally, if you get my meaning. Some food in your belly, meat and mead, will go a long way to fixing you up.”

            I nodded in agreement, though eating was the last thing I wished to do at that moment. I almost killed Arthur. The phrase kept running through my head. I almost killed Arthur and Merlin knew. He stopped me. Of that I was certain and I was grateful to him for it, though I was even more afraid of him. I knew we would have a confrontation and I would be forced to tell him everything. I was almost relieved with the thought of unburdening myself. Though the look he had given me had frightened me to the very depth of my soul.

            I washed hurriedly, and changed into a new tunic and hose of deep blue, my sword hung at my side. Gawain and I headed toward the hall where the feast was to take place, and I forced a smile onto my face again at the greeting I received. I was angry now. This was supposed to be a happy occasion, the happiest of my life. I was where I wanted to be, I had a place, I had a home, and I had family, even if they didn’t know they weren’t really related to me by blood. But because of Lady Morgan, this had turned into a painful experience for I had nearly killed the man I held most dear to me. I knelt before Arthur now and he took my shoulders and drew me up, his arm draped around my neck as he presented me to the gathering.

            “People of Camelot, I wish to present you once again, Sir Mordred, the newest member of your august company. Young, though he may be, he has proven himself worthy this position time and again, most of all with his continued protection of your queen, my own wife.” He beamed at me and I blushed as I also saw Guinevere smiling beautifully amid the crashing applause of the knights. “I feel that Sir Mordred will continue in his path of loyalty and true honor in his service as a knight, and I hope you will take him in as one of your family as a brother, as I have begun to view him as a son.” He smiled meaningfully at me and I found I shamefully had to turn my eyes down lest I lose my already frayed hold on my feelings. He squeezed my shoulder as if knowing what I was thinking. “Let us drink a toast to him.”

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