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Merlin saw Nimue once more before the end, and asked her what she meant by it.

She seemed surprised. 'Why, to name Arthur king of all England. What else?'

'There were two swords,' Merlin said. 'That was not the sword you gave him.'

Nimue said, as if to a dull child, 'The two swords had one doom. The first as promise; the second as fulfilment.'

'But why give him either?'

She smiled, slow and cold. 'A sword has two edges,' she said. 'Did you ever chance to think what Merlin might have been, had Arthur not been King of England?'