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Chapter Nineteen

The Death Of Lancelot

I found Arthur with Guinevere in the study, and I hesitated to enter but Arthur turned and motioned for me to come inside.

            “Mordred, may I congratulate you on your victory?” he said with a smile.

            “Thank you, my lord,” I replied. “But I hardly think it is really a cause for celebration.”

            “No, you’re right,” Arthur said ruefully. “I apologize that your first tournament cannot be celebrated properly. But you understand that it would be a little, off-color, to say the least.”

            I nodded. “I understand. And fear not, there shall be other tournaments.” I turned to Guinevere and bowed to her. “I am only thankful I was able to put a stop of Lancelot’s attentions once and for all.”

            Guinevere smiled at me. “You truly deserve the honor of being my champion, Mordred. And it was a very just thing you did in not killing Lancelot when you had the chance. He shall see justice, sure enough, but it did not need to be by your hand; though you would have certainly been justified by it. I will sleep better knowing he is not out there causing trouble.”

            “As will I, your majesty,” I replied truthfully, already feeling like a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

            Arthur took Guinevere’s hand gently between his. “You should retire, my dear. I have many things to see to with my men.”

            “Of course,” Guinevere said and took her leave, leaving Arthur and I alone in the room.

            “My lord, I was wondering if you would grant me permission to speak with the prisoner,” I told him after a moment.

            Arthur looked at me with a slight frown between his brows. “Why would you want to talk to Lancelot? He will only taunt you, tempt you to anger. It might not be the best idea, Mordred. I would advise against it.”

            “Arthur,” I said, getting his attention, though I knew he would have rather I called him father, “I fear he might have more reason for being here than just to steal away your queen. Even Lancelot isn’t so determined that he would try again and again. I think he might be working for someone else, for darker purposes.”

            Arthur seemed to ponder this for a moment before he turned back to me. “If he did, why should he tell you? I can have him questioned, of course, but I really think—”

            “Arthur—Father,” I added and this time Arthur’s face really did soften as he turned to listen to me. “I think that perhaps, in his want to needle me, he will reveal too much. Just let me speak with him, and see what he has to say. And if I can’t get anything out of him, you can do what you see is best.”

            “Very well,” Arthur conceded. “But do not let him get to you, Mordred. You know he will try.”

            “I know,” I replied and nodded slightly. “I will see you later.”

            I left to go down to the dungeons right away. I had never been down there before, and found them to be not necessarily horrible. It seemed Arthur didn’t even have a terrible place to keep his prisoners. It was not comfortable, but it was not the dripping, rat-filled holes of popular imagination either. Two knights were guarding Lancelot’s cell when I got there and, they looked up with suspicion before they saw who I was.

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