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Chapter Seventeen

A Bond Renewed

“I guess this takes me out of the running tomorrow,” Gawain was saying with a sigh as I hurried back to his tent, my chest aching from the exertion but I didn’t have time to worry about it at the moment. Percival and Bedivere who were crowded around Gawain’s cot, looked up at me as I hurried in, puffing and frantic.

            “What’s wrong, lad?” Gawain asked with a bemused smile. “It’s just a dislocated shoulder. I might not be able to fight tomorrow, but I’ll be all right.”

            “No,” I said, shaking my head. “That’s not it, I know who the black knight is.”

            “What do you mean?” Bedivere asked, frowning.

            “I had my suspicions so I went to his tent and watched him take off his helmet,” I told them quickly in a hushed voice. “It’s Lancelot.”

            That got their attention. Gawain clenched his fists in anger. “Where did he find the gall to come back here? I should have known it was Lancelot. He was the only one I knew who was possibly that good with a lance.”

            “He’s obviously up to no good,” I said. “And without Merlin here, we all need to make sure to keep a firm eye on Arthur and especially Guinevere. And most of all, we can’t let him win tomorrow. If he does, I’m sure he’ll try something. He’s back for revenge, and I don’t think he’ll leave this time without Guinevere. He’s failed too many times in the past, he’ll be more dangerous now than ever.”

            “Someone needs to tell Arthur,” Bedivere said firmly.

            I nodded in agreement, knowing this was one thing I could not keep from him, and though my stomach flipped as I thought about it, I said, “I will do it. As soon as everyone is settled, I’ll go see him before supper.”

            Bedivere nodded. “Good. You did well, Mordred. I don’t want to think what would happen if he had gone undetected.”

            I didn’t either, and I was terribly glad I had followed my instincts and went to see who the man was. I wasn’t entirely surprised that Lancelot would prove to be so brazen. The thing that worried me most was where he had gotten all the knightly finery. His armor was almost as new and fine as my own which had been a gift from Arthur and Guinevere upon my knighting. I didn’t know where he had acquired it if he was still living out in the forest as an outlaw. It fit too well to be stolen from some unfortunate.

            I cast a glance behind my shoulder to the tent flap, not wanting to have to go yet, but knowing there was no reason to prolong it.

            “I’ll go speak with Arthur now, I’ll see you later at supper.” I went to retrieve Elith and I rode him back to the castle, slipping into my rooms to change into clean clothes and wash my face before I continued on, giving Arthur enough time to get settled back in the castle.

            A knot had formed in my belly at the thought of talking to Arthur again. Shame, mixed with wanting of something that could never be undone now, were battling inside with the need to make sure he and Guinevere were safe; and because I cared deeply for them, despite everything, and probably more so because of it, that won out and I nearly ran to the castle before I lost my nerve.

            I knocked on the door to Arthur’s study, thinking he was most likely in there and was rewarded by his call to enter. I took a deep breath and pushed the door open, slipping inside. I instantly bowed and respectfully said, “Sire.”

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