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Chapter Fifteen


After that, my life seemed simply to consist of existing. I felt very little, for the only way I had to cope with the pain of my curse was to push everything aside. Arthur and I had estranged ourselves from each other by unspoken consent and except for on occasions where I had to speak with him for my knightly duties—in which we were always both very formal with or without company—I did not have any private discussions with him like I had in the past that we had both taken such joy out of nor did he ask me to spar with him any more. I was grateful for this, as I knew what would happen if I fought him again, but the sparring practice we had had together had always been the thing I most looked forward to in the past, and I missed it greatly.

            It was approaching the summer when the yearly tournament was held, and I gladly threw myself into rigorous training with the others knights so I would be able to compete. I knew Gawain knew something was wrong with me, but thankfully he didn’t ask, though I had a feeling he wanted to on more than one occasion. I tried to keep a light overtone with the other knights but it was hard. And once more I cursed Morgan la Fay for destroying everything I loved most. If she was truly out for revenge, she was doing a very good job of it.

            As the date of the tournament neared I was on my way back from practicing; hot and ready to wash off before supper. I watched the workers setting up the tournament stands, far more seats than the last local tournament I had witnessed when Lancelot had tried to take Guinevere…the day I had been cursed. I shook my head to stop thinking about that. Gawain had told me that knights from all the neighboring kingdoms were known to come to the tournament and only the best competed. I was proud to be part of that group for I had excelled in my martial arts from dedicating so much time to them. I would have been happier about the achievement if I had more reason to celebrate.

            It was then I met Merlin coming back from the village with a parcel tucked into the crook of his arm. I hailed him and he nodded, motioning for me to wait. He hurried up to me and I stopped to speak with him, petting Elith’s neck.

            “Mordred, I was hoping to catch you,” Merlin said. “I’m afraid I’ll be leaving for a while.”

            “Leaving?” I asked, suddenly paying much more attention to Merlin than I was to my other problems. “Why? Where are you going?”

            Merlin cast a look around as if afraid someone might overhear, then he leaned close and said, “I’m going to pay Morgan a visit. I may be able to…persuade her to lift your curse, and if that doesn’t work, well. The only other way to rid you of it is either to kill you or kill her. And, honestly, Mordred, the more I think about it, the more I assume you may not even be able to be killed. I think the curse also puts you under a protective spell of some sort. When I had to stop you with magic that one time, it took great effort to pass through the tangle that was covering you.”

            I gave him a smile full of dark wit. “I’m glad to know you would still consider killing me if I harmed Arthur. I like to have friends like you, Merlin.”

            “Mordred,” he said and his voice was pained. “I can’t see you suffer anymore. Nor can Arthur. He’s beating himself up because he thinks it’s all his fault and he wonders what he could have possibly done to make you angry at him for so long.” My stomach twisted. “I know why you did what you did, but I fear it will affect his reign as well as his attitude if this goes on for too much longer.”

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