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Redemption

Chapter Text

The triple goddess speaks….

Intentions can differ widely from outcomes. Perspectives and Interest can either improve the lot of a situation or sink its fortunes. Even a gardener with the best soil, healthiest plants needs Natura’s cooperation in order for his or her garden to grow. Storms, thieves and drought can all destroy their efforts. Sometimes even a reaction by said plants against an otherwise suitable environment can bring about disaster as well.

Even as my faith regains its foothold in Britannia, certain elements resist. I have shown how Meleagant and Arthur Pendragon refuse to allow my followers their due and mine. Their policies continue to make things worse for everyone. Much like a child who tries to ignore a parent’s rules, they pursue their own shortsighted agendas not understanding the damage they do. One of your conflicts brews. One I don’t really wish to see lash British shores. But that is for another time…

As for this mysterious entity, I have felt her presence before now. In an earlier age, I thought her gone. Now she returns. If she is who I believe her to be, I fear not even Emrys can deal with her.

But I digress….the plant’s reaction….

I have allowed you all to watch Morgana Pendragon’s fall into darkness and her budding redemption. I do not have to remind you, Good Reader, of her dark reign as my High Priestess. Even with her loyalty to me, her anger and venom pushed her to extremes. Even as she accomplished my ends, I didn’t approve of her methods or the pain she inflicted on others. Still her loyalty kept her on my path. She was doing great things. She was already becoming an exquisite steward over Tintagel and a part of the larger realm. She worked at peace. She mended stone walls and fences. She was rebuilding.

That is before this other entity struck her down…or did she?

Did Morgana really die or was she merely hurt beyond reason?

That depends on her at this juncture as we shall see…..

Chapter Text

Chapter 1 [Another Place]

Gray clouds billowed across the sky. Sol cut through it to brush the landscape with its dust laden beams. Mist dampened the ground and droplets hung in the air. Green shoots stabbed toward the sky amidst yellow grasses. Reds, golds and oranges bled through oaks’ green canopies.

By the side of a babbling brook, Morgana’s body lay undisturbed. She rested on a patch of clover perfectly still. Her hands were crossed across her chest. White paled her face. Not a move came from a finger or toe. In fact Feeling remained absent for the most part….

…that happens when Death’s scythe cuts yet another victim down….

Still Life didn’t concede her body. Despite the initial pale countenance, another look revealed slight dimpling. The very edges of her mouth pulled into a frown. Her fingertips twitched. Surprise snapped her eyes wide open.

Morgana sucked in a deep breath. Incredulity muddled her mind. She slowly clenched a fist with each hand. Her lungs forced fiery gasp after fiery gasp down into them. Pain’s needles seared into her flesh. Panic sped up her frenzied breathing. “What?” She efforted herself into a sitting position. She slowly raised her hands. She inspected her surroundings not recognizing any of the backdrop. Thirst burned at her throat.

Not far from her side, the brook’s flow enticed her ears.

She slowly rolled in that direction. Deliberation inched her hands forward toward the cool balm. She cupped them with further effort. A handful of water, another and then another drowned her inner desert’s fire. “How did I get here?” she rasped. Her mind started to clear. Memoria seized upon its last encounter. In her mind’s eye, she saw the Sorceress standing over an unconscious Merlin and Mithian. She stepped between them and paid for that. Malice’s spell blacked her out. Now she found herself in the meadow. “Merlin? Mithian?”

They are not here, Morgana Pendragon. The triple goddess stepped into view from behind the nearest oak tree. Your desire for redemption has taken root.

“But I died!” Morgana bowed her head. “Thank you, Lady.”

You’re welcome, Child. Still I did not do this. This is the result of your progress and your sacrifice. Your magic kept you alive.

“My magic? Lady, you took my magic from me. I can’t cast spells. I couldn’t stop that woman or defend the others.” Morgana shivered. Revulsion shot spasms through her.

That one’s evil is ancient. That is all you need to know for now. The goddess looked at her again. As for magic, I stripped your control. You cannot feel it. Still you are still in tune with the world’s energies. Your telepathy was but the first sign of continued contact.

Morgana flexed her hand. She focused. For several heartbeats, she stared at her open palm.

Then a white spark formed in the air. For half of a heartbeat, it danced and turned over her flesh. Then it winked out.

“I felt that! I did that?” Morgana gasped.

Your sacrifice accomplished a great deal. You’re on the right path once more. You have discovered love once more. Those factors play in your favor.

“Love? I….” She puzzled over the goddess’ cryptic assessment for several more heartbeats. She’d devoted her reign’s formative months to putting Tintagel back on its course. She knew her nobles wanted her to marry. Still she refused to be pressured into a bad marriage to soothe the male egos around herself. She wanted someone who’d in turn want her as a partner. She longed for a man who’d accept her as sorceress and Queen. As she mused over these things, her mind kept gravitating toward a single person.

Accolon….

She exhaled sharply. Realization hit her like a lightning bolt. In hindsight, she could see how the process had started and accelerated. At first, the visiting knight had seemed like any other. Then over time, he distinguished himself. He won a couple of tournaments. He held his own in a few border disputes. He spoke kindly to others. Virtue seemed to move him. He trusted her with his own secret…the fact that he was a warlock himself. As she thought these things, her heart skipped a few beats.

Could it be? I thought after Helios it wouldn’t happen again! Could it? she wondered.

You and he have found each other. It is a valued match, Daughter. He misses you as well. Perhaps you might focus on the task ahead? the goddess clarified.

“What would that be, Lady?” Morgana asked.

You have made great strides. You have forgiven many around yourself. Still hate burns within you. There is one yet living you have to forgive. Arthur. You and he must forgive each other. You must learn to accept each other’s differences and pain.

“Deal with…Lady, I tried to deal with Uther and him. They wouldn’t accept me,” Morgana argued.

Arthur’s pain blinds him to reason. Perhaps he’ll see reason. Perhaps he won’t. You can only do your part. As long as you serve the Greater Good, that should be what concerns you. Helios’ ambition cost him. Your involvement had its role and price as well. Consider those factors.

Morgana sighed. She rubbed the back of her neck. “You mean like Gaius as well?”

Aye. Gaius failed me at several turns. His service to the ill and infirm not to mention Emrys did have some impact on his fate. He determined his fate. Now you will yours. You have an opportunity to heal wounds. You might even save him from a worse destiny. You can follow the path toward that. The goddess motioned toward the dirt trail which had just appeared. Your decision is yours.

“My decision? If I choose not to help Arthur?” Morgana bit back her feelings in that regard.

Then you stay here for a while perhaps. Perhaps not. You brood in your hate. Eventually it will drag you down into the same darkness as Gaius and Uther. You can move ahead and have your happiness. You have the barest glimmers of magic. Perhaps there’s more waiting? That’s for you to decide. The goddess concluded. She disappeared back behind a tree again leaving Morgana to her thoughts.

A decision and a path? That was to be determined….

Chapter Text

Chapter 2 [Three Turns of the Hourglass Later]

Morgana sat on the stream’s bank. She watched the bubbles and slight foam from the rocks therein. Occasionally her eye would catch a piece of feather down or a discarded blade of grass floating on the current.

Much like Arthur, the stream cast pieces of good out with the other flotsam. It represented his unwillingness to change and develop. Hate blinded him to every other option. He wouldn’t accept magic even when it helped him.

Could that be what the goddess meant? If Gwen can’t make Arthur change his mind, what will? She thought back to that scene at the Severn. Despite everyone’s attempt to handle the situation as gently and diplomatically as possible, Camelot itself had nearly brought everything to ruin on its own. A war almost happened because of Arthur’s double standards and Merlin’s admitted half-truths. She smirked. Hopefully that taught Merlin not to lie to one’s allies. It came around on him. She shook her head and reached behind herself. From the berry bush, she plucked three blackberries and ate them.

A rustling came from the brush to her left. Then she heard a sound like someone falling to the ground. Finally a pained grunt reached her ears.

Who’d be out here? She crept over to the brush. For a heartbeat, she lingered not being sure what she’d find. Indecision froze her to that spot. She pushed the brush aside and stiffened.

Gaius forced himself into a sitting position. Mud smeared his typical courtly garb. His white hair stuck to the back of his neck. The Eyebrow arched at the offending tree root.

“Fancy running into you out here,” she supposed breaking the ice.

He stiffened at the sound of her voice. “Morgana? What are you doing here?”

“If I didn’t know your situation, Gaius, I’d ask you the same thing,” she replied. Somehow she stifled the remark she wanted to give him. Instead she held her hand out to him.

“What?” he wondered.

“I want to help you. Apparently we are both here for the same reason. Come along. I won’t hurt you,” she explained.

“Since you don’t have your magic, I suppose not,” he assumed.

She shrugged. She tugged him to his feet as gently as possible. She led him through the break in the brush. Charity reduced Anger’s fire within her. Almost like she would with a wounded animal, she guided him toward her impromptu camping spot. “Here we are.”

He noted the clover patch. “That seems peculiar. It wouldn’t grow anywhere else near Camelot.”

“Gaius, we’re not in Camelot. We’re on the Other Side,” she informed him.

“Other Side? What...?” He stiffened. “You’re dead?”

“I should be. I seem to be…complicated.” She rolled her eyes. “I tried to defend Merlin and Mithian. They were already unconscious. Some cloaked woman was ready to abduct them. She struck me down instead with a spell.”

“Wait. You defended them? I would have imagined….” He struggled to wrap his head around that particular notion. While he didn’t know of the sorceress, that person’s action followed other rogues who’d struck against Camelot and the other kingdoms since Uther’s accession…

…rogues like the woman sitting next to himself….

“That I’d want to kill him? Before he realized his priorities, I’d have let that one deal with him. Now Merlin and I have a great deal in common. We both want to bring peace and tolerance for everyone, Gaius. I’ll do what I can for him. We’ve made our peace and are working toward reestablishing the old friendship. Since I lost my magic, I’m on a different path now,” she clarified.

“Oh? And what path is that?” he asked. Disbelief clearly accented his tone.

She coughed. “Trying to give back instead of take from others. Trying to rediscover the young woman I was.” She trembled. She wiped a tear from her eye with the back of her hand. A heavy exhale escaped her lips. She noted a bare patch of ground with a few sticks lying on it. She felt the previous surge within herself once again. She pointed at the dirt. Her eyes glowed.

The sticks burst into flame.

“It seems I do have a little magic left to me.” She shook her head. She got up and collected more branches around the clearing.

“How? You have your magic back?” He stared at her. His back arched like a frightened cat.

She frowned. “I guess it’s tied to my efforts to redeem myself. I can’t tell you more than that.” She built the fire up one stick at a time. “I might get more of it. I might be where you were with just a weak bit of magic. As I said, I’m not expecting anything. I’m trying to do the right thing once again. Now warm yourself and quit looking a horse in the mouth already.”

He nodded. Skepticism arched the Eyebrow further upward. Despite Doubt urging his mind not to accept her story, his heart tugged in the opposite direction. He remembered the well-meaning if not headstrong young woman who’d been Uther’s ward. “That would be best for everyone. I truly want to believe that, Morgana. It would be most beneficial for your soul. Still…”

“And yours too. I want to forgive you, Gaius.”

“Forgive me? For what?” He did recall the sleeping draughts he used to keep her magic under wraps. Still he did so for the Greater Good. He couldn’t risk the increased court scrutiny. Even if that came to pass with the Witchfinder, Freya and Morgause later, he did what he could to prevent it. “I was trying to protect us all.”

“You mean protect Merlin and keep him where he was useful to you,” she corrected him.

“I kept him alive! He found a place and a home in Arthur’s service!” he protested.

She put her hand up. “Enough. I know Uther was a hate-ridden tyrant. He persecuted our kind, Gaius. You stood by and let him do it. Why do you think we’re here now? I have to confront my darkness. So do you.”

“You’re not innocent, Morgana. I did what I had to,” he rebutted.

“I know I’m not. I did what I felt I had to. I did what I did to bring back the Old Religion. The goddess did not like how I did it. I was extreme due to my anger and pain. I at least fought for our kind. You stabbed us all in the back. Can’t you see that you survived at everyone else’s cost?” she argued.

“And you don’t understand….”

“I don’t understand what? Gaius, I’m saving others. I was working with Tintagel’s nobles to bring our kingdom back. I’m trying to restore honor to Gorlois’ throne the right way. I helped to preserve peace at the Severn. I’m making amends,” she reminded him.

“You’re encouraging the wedge between Merlin and Arthur,” he asserted.

“I what?” She laughed. “Gaius, my dear brother calls Merlin an idiot. In truth, he’s the idiot. Arthur inherited his blind eye and double standards from Uther. He flouts the rules when they aren’t convenient. He prefers to play soldier rather than be a King. As with you, Merlin is a comfort to him. Merlin takes care of things, makes sure the castle runs right and does what needs to be done. Without him, everything falls apart. Consequently you both held him back. Merlin should’ve been knighted long ago by deed and service. He proved himself but that was inconvenient for Arthur or you. Just make peace with what’s happened. It is for the best.”

“Camelot’s destiny…”

She shrugged. “The triple goddess lets happen what she will. Destiny does the same. Our actions can cause paths to diverge. If Arthur had treated Merlin as an equal, none of this would’ve happened. I would have been an ally instead of an enemy. If you had counseled me instead of driving me away, I’d have been different. I could’ve helped Merlin to evade Uther’s measures more effectively. He wouldn’t have had to hide. But you don’t trust. You’re too political.”

“So were you. You wanted the throne,” he insisted.

“I did. I wanted to return everything to the way it had been. I’ve been learning from my mistakes. Can you learn from yours? Bless the marriage and Merlin’s future. For everyone’s sake. Camelot is already slipping from its perch. Another will rise to take its place.” She shrugged again. “It could be Tintagel, Mercia, Nemeth or whoever knocks Meleagant off of Cawdor’s throne. I don’t know.”

“And yet you know Camelot’s declining,” he indicated.

“It is a fact. The Pendragon rose is but a weed in the goddess’ garden. For a generation, it sucked vital sustenance away from her other plants. Now Freya and the others reinvigorate the garden. Consequently the weed diminishes. Arthur watches his fortunes decline along with it. As he resists, he creates openings for Meleagant and our cloaked pest.” She rubbed her forehead. “I can’t demand your forgiveness. I can’t make you change your thinking. All I can do is apologize for what I did. Just consider what your potions did to me.”

“I understand. I hope that you do continue down this path. But I cannot take sole responsibility for your actions,” he replied.

“I didn’t say that. I did what I did. I accept that. I just want you to understand that you pushed me in that direction. You taught Merlin to scheme and deceive. Just know what you did. I know what I did. I try to fix that, live better and move ahead. That’s all,” she corrected.

“I do bless that path. I am glad for you, Morgana, that you are reaching this state. Perhaps you will find your grace. For everyone’s sake, I hope you can. I know that I could’ve been more honest. Perhaps Merlin and I could’ve trusted you. I just hope you can trust him now,” he conceded.

“We’re working on that. Let it be where it may,” she affirmed.

“Then I forgive you. I do want your forgiveness. Please forgive Merlin,” he apologized.

“We already have each other. Thank you, Gaius.” Relief flooded her heart.

He nodded. With a mere bow of his head, he disappeared into the dust-laden sunbeams streaking across the clearing.

I guess his purpose was served. She rubbed her hands over the dwindling flames and warmed them more.

Such as it was…..

Chapter Text

Chapter 3 [Several Turns of the Hourglass Later]

Morgana sucked in a deep breath. Stiffness stole the spring from her knees and feet. Burning stabbed at the latter. She noted Sol’s sinking further toward the western horizon. Despite her efforts to the contrary, Guilt weighed her down. Gaius’ words only reminded her of her actions had hurt those around herself. I can’t just expect people to forget what I did. She frowned while looking down at her hands. Can I get the blood off of my hands?

You cannot purge the past, Child. All you can do is keep moving forward, the goddess advised. You still need to keep trying.

I am, Lady. I want to do more, Morgana agreed.

I know. Still you have more to do. You must deal with your hate and anger. Your next step is close at hand. With that, the goddess went silent.

“Close at hand?” Morgana looked around. Anticipation and Anxiety ate at her. Her breath caught in her throat. She came around a bend in the path and passed a rather massive oak tree. And then she stopped cold in her tracks.

Uther stood slowly. His pale skin burned in the late afternoon light. His hair was rumpled. His form had thinned to almost seeming spindly. His sunken eyes went wide. “Morgana?” Hesitation held him back. He studied her. He didn’t see the negative intensity from their last encounter. Hope slowly dawned in his eyes.

She slowed her pace. “Uther?”

“Morgana, do you have to call me that? I’m your father,” he reminded her.

She bowed her head. Several deep breaths attempted to calm her. You have to try and forgive him. You have to let that hate go. His malice is in the past. As the goddess said, I have to move forward. “I know. After everything, this is harder than I thought.” She approached him guardedly.

“Before you were corrupted, we were close.” He grabbed her by the arms and shook her. “Why did you fall like that? Was it Morgause? Perhaps that witch Nimue? Or even that subversive ungrateful servant of Arthur’s?” He narrowed his eyes. Prejudice seethed through his mind.

She pulled away. For a dozen heartbeats or so, the bitter bile swamped her akin to a volcanic eruption’s lava flow. Revulsion soured her outlook. “Perhaps it was the way you fell when you stole Mother from Gorlois? Perhaps it’s that blind rage and desire to control things which we Pendragons possess? Perhaps it was watching you murder innocents who happened to have magic? You turned Nimue into an angry hag. You forced Merlin to lie and be hypocritical. You started a war with the Old Religion and its followers. And why? Because you can’t accept that you tried to go against the laws of nature! Mother was barren. But you wanted your son! You forced Nimue to bring Arthur into the world. In so doing, you forced the Calliech to take a life in return! Your need for vengeance consumes you still. Arthur continues your crusade blinding him to what could be. What have you done? Ask yourself.”

He coughed. “I did what was right, Morgana. That harpy…goddess…whatever…trapped me here after I died. You deceived that malcontent, Merlin, into killing me. I did you both favors. I gave you both lives in the royal household. And you practice sorcery behind my back! Sorcery!”

“He and I are creatures of magic, Uther. So is Arthur even if you or he won’t admit it.” She exhaled sharply. Compassion’s refreshing peace dampened Resentment’s fire slightly. She noted how the conditions changed around them. Her skin dimpled from the breeze’s increased chill. Clouds blotted out increasing sections of sky. She nodded to those factors. Acknowledgment reminded her of such emotions’ effect on their surroundings. “You see what we do?”

“What we….?” His eyes darkened. He sniffed. “I’m doing nothing. You’re carrying on like a child.”

She sighed. In that blink of an eye, Insight revealed his nature to her. “And you devoured by your hate. You’ve bullied and murdered people in Mother’s name. For what? So your followers and you can have power? So you punish those you think murdered Mother? There’s only one person who did that. That’s you.”

“LIES! HOW DARE YOU?” He slapped her across the face. Rage shook him.

She rubbed the irritated spot on her cheek. Somehow she restrained herself. “You’re just a bully, Uther. Aye you did things to help others when it suited you to do so. Problem is that some of us were forced to act against our nature when it didn’t suit you. Merlin, Gaius and me are three examples of that. All I can do now is to learn from that. If I get another chance to rule, I can try and respect all of my subjects. I can give them a fair hearing. I can look to everyone without double standards or lies.”

“I did that when it was warranted. I didn’t tolerate sedition or treason!” he countered.

“How is sorcery sedition? Those people you slaughtered would’ve worked with you on a peace. They wanted their own lives. That’s it!” She shook her head. “I could argue with you. Still it’s not going to change anything. I stated my case. Now it’s up to you whether to accept it or not. I can pray for you. I can hope you come around to a greater point of view. I can…can….” Her words caught in her throat. I can do this. I have to do this for the Greater Good. I can move forward for everyone’s sake. She forced a breath out of her lungs. “I can forgive you for that past. I can ask you to forgive me for my deception. I can ask you to forgive me for what my desperation made me do.”

He regarded her for several heartbeats. Rather than the haughty and arrogant sorceress-usurper, he saw the young woman from years earlier. “I can grant you peace, Morgana. Still you have to turn away from sorcery and the so-called goddess. Then and only then will I forgive you.”

Disappointment burdened her heart and soul. A stray tear streaks her cheek. “I wish it could be different. Still it is what it is. Someday I hope you come to a deeper understanding. I won’t let you provoke me anymore. I have to rise above this and look to the future. I can be a better Queen than you were a King. Maybe I can help Arthur be a better King.”

Uther scoffed, “Arthur’s indecisiveness costs him as King. He should put all of you in your place. He’s too soft. He doesn’t follow tradition. That will be his downfall.”

“Think what you will, Uther. I won’t hate you any longer. I won’t sicken my soul that way. Perhaps I can help Morgause and Nimue to reach that understanding.” She pressed her lips against his wrinkled cheek. “I grant you peace. May you find your way. As I said, I will pray for you.” She stiffened perhaps to suppress a shiver from the increasing cold.

“You believe that. Perhaps one day you will realize the error of your ways, Morgana. I love you. Still I cannot forgive you because of your magic.” He regarded her once more. Then he turned away. He staggered into the woods and out of sight once more.

She shook her head. Lady, I tried.

I know, Daughter. You think you failed. You have not. I know you did your best. Now you must press on.

She nodded. Her feet pressed on one in front of the other. She knew nothing would come of being in that place.

And so it went…..

Chapter Text

Chapter 4 [That Evening]

Morgana watched the flames flickering from her campfire. Her mood still lagged after the encounter with Uther. She rubbed the back of her neck. She flexed her arms and legs. Her feet ached slightly from the long walk.

Still Anger didn’t burn at least as profusely as it had before. Vengeance had been subsumed to a degree. She could marvel at Natura’s beauty around herself. She smiled at the random bird nestled in a nearby tree. She savored the flowers’ scents.

Her spirit lifted a little more. Still her heart wanted more. It craved something. Lady?

Aye, Child? the goddess replied.

I feel empty. I know you have more to consider than me. I just….

Nobody can exist alone. You need support. Look within yourself. Call out. He will come, the goddess advised.

He will come? She closed her eyes and focused. Her thoughts coalesced on a certain Gallic sorcerer-knight. Accolon, I know. I…. She glanced up toward the night sky. Her eyes spied the twinkling stars far overhead. I would’ve appreciated him. I just….

I know.

Her ears perked. Her mind spun. Her heart raced. She jumped to her feet and looked around. “Accolon?”

The knight in question emerged from the woods. His chain mail glittered in Luna’s faerie dust laden beams. His blue sur coat bore not a blemish or pulled thread. The breeze stirred his hair ever so slightly. His eyes warmed as they spied her. His mouth turned upward into a smile. Amor burned in his heart. “Aye, my Queen.” He rushed toward her.

She met his pace with her own. Within three heartbeats, she seized onto him. Her heart beat in tune with his. Her breathing relaxed as she settled against his chest. He felt safe in the harbor of his arms. For the first time, she felt complete and whole. None of the scheming or positioning which had determined her previous meetings permeated the air on that occasion.

Amor ruled the clearing…no ifs, ands or buts….

“I don’t know how you’re alive. You were so badly burned. Priestess Freya took you to Avalon,” he informed her.

“Somehow magic kept me alive. I don’t know how. The goddess said it’s all in what I’m doing. I know my people need me. I have something more to do,” she deduced. She gazed deeply into his eyes and their deep blue oasis. Those pools sheltered her from the path’s hardships at least for that point. She felt complete at that point.

“As do I. I know this is perhaps foolish of me. You have your task to accomplish. I just want you to know that you’re appreciated. I love you. I still respect you as Queen. Still I….” He clammed up at that particular moment; Anxiety and Doubt manacling his tongue.

She pressed her lips onto his. Amor’s reassurance flowed between them. Much as his eyes had done for her, her kiss returned the favor. After three heartbeats, she broke off the contact. “The only foolishness, Sir Accolon, is that you doubt yourself. Aye I love you.” She smiled. Elation sparkled through tears in her eyes. It streaked her cheeks with crimson brush strokes. “You respect me. You’ve always supported me. You’re noble and valiant. You live to serve others before yourself.”

“That is the only true purpose, my Lady. If I had my dream, I would….” He stopped himself again.

“It’s all right, Accolon. Tell me,” she assured him. “You don’t have to fear me.”

He inhaled deeply. He enjoyed the scent of her hair and skin. Her presence buoyed him up. “I would serve alongside you as an equal partner. I could love you as your husband. I….”

She blushed. “Well then you should be kneeling. Should you not?” Impishness lit in her eyes.

He bit his lip. “I suppose…” He got down on one knee and took her hands in his own. “Queen Morgana Pendragon, when you complete this quest, will you grant me the supreme honor of being my wife? I want you as equal partner in service to the goddess, our allies and Tintagel. I love and cherish you. Equality for us.” He trembled.

“Equal rule as co-rulers?” she proposed.

“Aye. Without a doubt,” he agreed.

She grinned. “Then aye, Sir Accolon of Gaul, you will be my King and I will be your Queen. Equal in all things before the goddess and our subjects. Upon our return, I will speak to King Bors. I would not repeat Merlin’s melodrama with Arthur.”

“I think that would be best for everyone,” he agreed. “Just a heartbeat.” He rushed into the woods. Then he returned with two cleaned and skinned rabbits. “I thought a feast might be in order, my Lady.”

Her mouth watered. Granted Hunger had stabbed at her stomach. Still her mouth watered at the offering. The fact that it was from him made her crave it more.

Amor’s purpose had been served or so it seemed….

Chapter Text

Chapter 5
[Morgana’s Bedchamber, Tintagel]

Morgana felt about herself. After the shared dinner and some conversation, Drowsiness unexpectedly weighed down on Accolon and her. While they remained abstained from the oldest of dances and remained fully clothed, they snuggled together under his furs. She enjoyed the most sound sleep in Memoria’s recounting. She felt as if she could float. She felt at peace.

Still she met with strange yet familiar sensations. Her palm met with a softness more akin to goose down rather than hard ground. A soft pillow cradled her head rather than a rolled up cloak. Sheets and quilt had replaced the furs. Still her brave knight…her Prince and fiancé…was no longer at her side.

Her eyes snapped open. As they blurred into focus, they beheld her chamber back in Tintagel. They saw her furnishings as they’d been. They noted her curtains flapping about in the breeze. They realized that she was back in her night shift.

I’m back. I’m alive. Praise be to the goddess for this chance, she realized.

Thank you, Daughter. You have done well. As such, you have earned certain privileges, the goddess noted telepathically. Do you not feel it?

At that point, she felt the sensation again. She returned to sync with the world. She felt the energy crackling in the air about herself. She jumped. “IT’S BACK! I CAN FEEL IT AGAIN! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!”

You have brought yourself to this point. Remember, Morgana Pendragon, how you proceed will determine your way. I am content with your new purpose. Therefore I wish for you to resume the Queenship of Tintagel, your role as Priestess and your other obligation. You do still wish for your knight. Do you not? It is for you to assist Accolon in becoming my priest as well. Can you do that? the goddess assessed.

“Aye. I would be delighted, Lady!” Morgana bowed to her deity’s voice. Might I ask for Merlin’s and the priestesses’ aid in that?

Of course. I would expect no less. Remember your choices will determine your destiny. If you wish to retain control over your magic, you must serve the light and me. Be measured in your plans be they secular or spiritual. Be responsible in all things. You will have further gains to make. Still I believe you can do so more effectively as part of a communal whole. Now I believe someone awaits you.

Accolon! Her heart sang at the mention of his name. She bit her lip like a crushing maid. Indeed. Thank you, Lady. She bowed once again.

You’re welcome. Go forth and resume your way, Child. With that the goddess went silent.

Morgana exhaled. Ecstasy threatened to make her float against the ceiling. Still she knew she had places to be, fears to reassure and a knight to reassure. She knew she should call her maid to help her dress. Still she couldn’t bear to wait. She didn’t want to let even another heartbeat pass. She took several calming breaths clearing her mind. Her hands waved about in the air. Her eyes glinted canary yellow. “Aodach rìoghail!”

Her appearance shimmered. Her favorite emerald gown replaced her shift. Her best necklace caught Sol’s warm light. Her crown sat straight on her head.

She nodded to the mirror’s reflection. Approval lifted her spirits. She turned and hustled from the chamber. She needed to be in the throne chamber more than there at that point.

Purpose, it seemed, had other plans for her at that point…..

 

****

 

[Throne Chamber]

Chaos reigned supreme in Tintagel’s grandest hall. Counselors argued. Castellans worried for the future. Allies sat and watched; their advice remaining at the ready as needed. The kingdom, having just endured such tempests, thought it was beyond such things.

Alas Fate could have other plans….

 

****

 

Accolon stood off to the side. He watched as Morgana’s advisors bickered and quarreled. He bowed his head. Without you, my Queen, the world falls apart. I’d do more if I was allowed. Alas here I am but a knight. He reflected on the previous night. He’d felt ill for most of that day. Right before sunset, he fell into Slumber’s deepest depths. Perhaps it was purely a flight of fancy. He swore that he’d seen Morgana in a dream clearing of some kind. He’d made a meal for them. He’d expressed his love. More over the top, he’d proposed to her overcoming his own fears in that regard.

Even more insane than that, she’d accepted.

It felt so real last night. Even if they think she’d dead, somehow she’s alive. She’s on her quest whatever that is. Whatever that be, I hope it is resolved soon. We need you, my Lady. I need you, he mused. He felt a hand on his shoulder.

Merlin smiled. “Maintain hope, Sir Accolon.”

“Prince Merlin, forgive me.” Accolon bowed to him.

Merlin shrugged. “It’s all right. I know what it means to care for someone at the cost of one’s surroundings. We all have to believe. Don’t we?”

“Aye, Sire. Queen Morgana certainly thought as much for Princess Mithian and you to sacrifice herself. That was the woman she was becoming,” Accolon replied.

“The woman she was turning back toward, Sir Accolon,” Merlin corrected. He glanced over toward where Mithian and Rodor talked with a couple of Morgana’s advisors. “I know King Rodor will do what he can. We owe Queen Morgana no less.”

Accolon regarded the newly-minted Prince with warmth. Once more he remembered the tales of Merlin’s service to Camelot. He could see Nobility and Charity in the Warlock’s eyes. If I can learn from him.

You will, my Son. There is one other you can learn from daily, the goddess interjected. Reach out with your feelings, Accolon. Can you feel something?

I… Accolon trembled. Familiar warmth flooded through his mind and limbs. A rush shot up his spine. His heart beat faster. My Lady Morgana?

Don’t ruin my surprise! Just be ready to admit me, Morgana advised. You too, Merlin.

Merlin raised an eyebrow. He stared at Accolon. “Did I just….?” He glanced toward the door. Morgana? He looked at his own wife. Did you?

It sounded like Morgana but she’s dead. We couldn’t have….! Mithian’s eyes followed his toward the door.

Aye, Merlin, Morgana replied. You did hear me, Mithian.

“Aye, Sire. We all did.” Accolon grinned. Relief flooded through his mind. He wound his way through the startled delegates and his fellow castellans. He ignored his fellow knights’ reactions. He didn’t care. He reached the door and pushed it open.

Standing there, Morgana summoned up Regality’s most serene countenance. She stood tall and determined. She wouldn’t fall to the bickering grating on her ears. Still she would greet her First Knight and Heart’s desire. “Sir Accolon.”

Accolon fell to his knees. He seized her hand. His lips couldn’t stop imparting Amor’s more precious message. Nor would they cease in their fealty. His heart beat faster with each grain falling through the hourglass. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am.” He looked up into her eyes..

“I know, my Knight.” Morgana smiled into his eyes. And our promise remains set, my King. Announce me please.

He rose to his feet. “ATTENTION! ATTENTION, EVERYONE! OUR QUEEN! QUEEN MORGANA!”

The stewards, counselors and knights ceased their quarrels and introspection. All eyes turned toward Accolon. They wondered if Insanity had warped his mind. The sight of their Queen bulged eyes and slackened jaws. Fealty, Wonder and Awe dropped them to their knees. The royal guests barely managed to nod in acknowledgment.

Somehow Humility kept Morgana on the straight and narrow. She maintained a disciplined countenance. As the throng parted, she walked toward her throne. Comfort in the form of Accolon followed her two steps behind. She played the part of the Queen at least on the outside.

Still she did grant Satisfaction a tiny bit of grace mind you….All things in their place after all…. She ascended the dais. Her throne felt as if an old friend was greeting her anew. She savored the feeling once again. She was back in all regards. “Thank you! It’s good to be back and to be welcomed.”

“Good Queen, how did this happen? We were told you were murdered most heinously,” a counselor with grey hair wondered.

“It seemed there were other plans for me than death, Jenkins. We have more to accomplish here in Tintagel alongside our fellow realms,” Morgana explained albeit cryptically. “We will have to speak of diplomatic niceties at length. Now shall we?”

Jenkins glanced at the other advisors. He nodded and bowed.

“Queen Morgana, Princess Mithian and I would thank you for your aid. We were caught and….”Merlin started.

Morgana smiled. “That is what friends do for each other. You have done so for me. We are both in the service to others and to the goddess as well. You’re welcome.”

“We shall affirm our treaty of course,” Rodor chimed in.

“I look forward to it. I have one matter that needs to be addressed first, King Rodor.” Morgana turned toward King Bors. “King Bors, I have a request. Tintagel needs a King. I assume Gaul can always use an ally?”

King Bors glanced toward his son. Then he looked at Accolon who stood five feet from the dais. “I assume you refer to Sir Accolon?”

“I do. If you can do him the grace of manumission, I would marry him. He would be a most excellent King, co-ruler and husband for this realm,” Morgana requested.

“I see no reason why we cannot. Shall we adjourn then to your council chamber and speak of this? I would see this matter resolved presently. I am prepared to grant full freedom so as to assure all notions of sovereignty,” Bors agreed.

“I give you my thanks then, King Bors.” Morgana nodded. Her eyes met the others around the chamber. While Skepticism and Disbelief popped through in some eyes, Warmth and Congratulations held the majority of the field.

And in that way, Happiness stole the show…..

Chapter Text

Conclusion [A Week Later]

The mood brightened around Tintagel. Following Nemeth’s recent example, the city and citadel dressed itself up in the finest decorations. The citizenry went about their affairs with an extra spring in their step. The square below the citadel livened up with flowers and banners. Visitors flocked in from the countryside and just over the borders with Nemeth and Camelot.

But that was the case with any royal wedding. For the first time in over a generation, a meaningful celebration occurred in the city. Continuity seemed ready to commit to the kingdom once again. Shadow finally burned off in Optimism’s light. Morgana had returned from her exile and wanderings at long last.

The future did seem bright…..

 

****

 

[Somewhere Else]

The triple goddess watched the events unfold in her view portal. She beheld Hope’s first harbingers. Alliances forged. Relationships made and mended. Treaties agreed upon. Even truces extended. The first shoots of her garden’s crop pushed at their soil overhead. If encouraged, they would soon push through toward the air and Sol’s warmth overhead.

That is if such efforts were encouraged at best or even left alone at the worst….

Still she tempered her outlook. While she didn’t know of Arthur’s exact state, she knew something was off about him. She watched Meleagant and his desired allies scheme and prepare for a collaboration of some kind. She noted Rebellion’s sparks still smoldering across Britannia against her aims and those of her own supporters.

It seemed a tinder box ready for one spark to set it all off.

One can hope that the new generation and their efforts can stave off the coming storm. May their diplomacy bear fruit. She waved her hand making the image change therein.

Tintagel’s main citadel came into view. Its hustle and bustle was readily apparent. Purpose shone through especially in its royal apartments. Morgana put her royal seal on some parchment and handed it off to an official. Accolon adjusted to his new role as King and co-ruler.

May you fulfill your promise, both of you. Emrys will need you in the coming days. Her eyes remained fixed on the images as they unfolded there.

 

****

[Royal Bedchamber]

Accolon inspected his appearance in a full length mirror. Even if Fortune had favored him over the past few days with an abrupt turn, he had a hard time convincing himself that it wasn’t a dream. He admired the King’s crown sitting firmly on his head. Emerald robes combining his roles as ruler and priest seemed to flow from his shoulders and down toward his boot tops. His sword hung from his side. Most importantly, a gilt ring sparkled on his right hand. It is truly wonderful. He glanced toward an empty vase. “Flora!”

On cue, a mixed bouquet of roses and violets seemed to sprout up on their own in the wooden vessel.

He smiled. She’ll like those. He strode to the window and gazed down upon the bustling life below his perch. He treasured the people and their goodwill down there.

The people…his subjects now…his and Morgana’s charge….

It’s really happening! I have the council’s acceptance. The knights support me. The goddess has blessed us. We can make this work. He allowed himself a deep almost dreamy sigh. If this is a dream, don’t wake me up!

“It is quite the view. Isn’t it?”

He grinned. “It is. I hope the people’s contentment continues.” He turned to see Morgana watching him from the doorway. “Besides I still get used to wearing the crown and being your partner.”

“You’ll get there, Accolon. I have faith in you,” she assured him. “We both have a great deal to learn. Much remains to be done. My father started a few endeavors only to leave them incomplete.” She shrugged. “That was hardly his fault. Still we can continue where he left off.” She rubbed his shoulder. “Not everything can be done in a day.”

“I know that. Still we can work toward that. So are we still meeting Merlin and Mithian?” he replied.

She recalled the agreed upon meeting at their shared border by the Severn. “We are. I’ll be eager to see what he comes up with. Knowing Merlin’s ingenuity on such things, it will be something considerable.”

“Practical if nothing else. Collaboration can broker peace, my Lady,” he affirmed. “Our subjects could use a degree of security in those hinterlands.”

“And they will have it. We leave at first light.” She smirked at him. “In the meantime, we’ve been so busy with state affairs and our duties to Avalon, there has been something else we’ve neglected.

“Oh? And….” Realization hit him like a club. “Aye. I know. I didn’t want to push you, Morgana.” He embraced her. Desire washed away the other matters from his mind.

“You respect me. I know.” Her lips gently brushed his. “But we do have some time.” She pointed at the curtains. Her eyes glowed.

As if bidden by a breeze, the curtains closed insuring their privacy.

“Now, my King, we have another affair of state to conduct?” She motioned toward the four post bed sitting in the corner.

“For now and forever, my Queen.” He kissed her cheek and guided her toward that waiting oasis.

And in such ways, Faith and Virtue garner their own rewards. Where others give up on the good due to Investment’s timing, others wait for that right time. They await Opportunity’s knock at their portal. And in such ways, they are rewarded.

But we shall discuss this further in another tale. Right now, Morgana and Accolon do have their negotiations to conduct. Such matters are delicate after all…..

 

THE END (for now)