She knocked on the door. There was no answer. Bedivere
placed the tray on the floor and opened the door. Then she picked
up the tray and went into Arturia's room. She put the tray on a
nearby bedside table and drew the curtains back.
"Time to rise, sleepy head." she cajoled.
Arturia turned away from Bedivere and pulled the covers over her
head. "Leave me be."
Bedivere sat down on the bed and watched Arturia's still form for a few
seconds. She sighed. "And how long dost thou plan to stay
"Until thou goeth away." came her tart reply.
Bedivere rubbed her forehead in exasperation. Arturia was in a
very foul mood. She prayed to God that she would be patient
enough to endure it. "Well, I shall not until thou rise to greet
She poured herself some tea and buttered some muffins. She bit
into one and chewed noisily. Then she picked up her tea and
slurped it. Her plan was simple. The best way to get a
lion's attention was through its stomach.
Halfway through her second muffin, she heard the muffled sound of a
grumbling belly. And yet, Arturia did not stir. Bedivere
had one more card to play. She put her muffin down and lifted the
silver cover to unveil the strawberry scones. She broke a warm
scone in half to let its fragrant contents spill into the air.
Then she made a show of sniffing it.
There was a rustle behind her and a pillow smacked her on the head.
"Get out!" yelled Arturia.
Bedivere grinned wickedly and put the scone down. She picked up
the pillow and smacked Arturia back. Arturia sat up and whacked
her with the pillow that she was lying on. They exchanged blows
until it escalated into a messy pillow fight which snowed downy
feathers on the combatants.
When the pillows were exhausted of their contents, Arturia hurled
herself at Bedivere in a fierce charge. Bedivere went limp and
rolled with the impact, cradling Arturia so that she would not be
injured when they hit the floor. They lay on the floor panting
from their battle.
Bedivere laughed heartily. "I yield!" She crawled away from
Arturia and bowed with mock ceremony. Then she marched out of the
room and closed the door behind her.
With her anger deflated, Arturia stared at the door. She sat
there for a few moments to gather her wits. Then she stood up
slowly and made her way to the bed. Her eyes fell on the broken
scone half covered in feathers. Her stomach grumbled at the
sight. She had not eaten anything for over a day. Her hand
brushed off the feathers and picked up the scone. It was still
warm and its scent of honey-baked strawberries enticed her. She
gave in to temptation and nibbled on a protruding strawberry. Its
sweet and sour taste melted in her mouth. She took another bite
and another. Soon, she finished the whole scone.
Her eyes scanned the tray and located a second teacup. Damn
Bedivere. She had planned this all along. But she was
thirsty, so she poured herself some tea from the pot and sipped it.
"Dost thou want more?" came Bedivere's muffled voice beyond the
door. "There is a second scone under the silver cover."
Arturia stared at the door with a bit of irritation, but her hand went
toward the silver cover. She pulled it back as if it was about to
touch something forbidden.
"And if thou refuse to eat it, I will." threatened
Before she could stop herself, her left hand lifted the cover while her
right claimed the scone. It was still warm, and most importantly,
untouched. She bit into it. As she munched on the scone,
her eyes fell on Bedivere's half eaten muffin. Prudence dictated
that food should not be wasted. She walked to the door and opened
it. Bedivere was leaning on the wall next to the door.
"Good morning." said Bedivere casually.
"Good morning." mumbled Arturia. She left the door open and
walked back to the bed to sit on it. Then she picked up her cup
and sipped her tea. "Thou did not finish thy meal."
Careful not to let Arturia notice, Bedivere smiled slightly in
triumph. "How careless of me..." She strode in, picked up
her plate and dusted the feathers off the muffin.
They ate in silence for a while. After Arturia finished her scone
and tea, she faced Bedivere. "Why dost thou love me?"
Bedivere almost dropped her cup. That question was totally
unexpected. To buy some time to think of a good answer, she set
her cup down slowly. She debated within herself. No, mere
flattery would not be appropriate. There was a hidden reason
behind the question. If she could find out what the reason was,
she could give a more fitting answer.
Arturia stared at the floor. "Then thou art blind, for I am a
wretched being who doth not deserve any affection."
"Thou art not!" protested Bedivere. "How didst thou come to
Arturia glared at her. "Was I not conceived in sin?" She
stood up and paced. "I studied the records in the library.
I was born seven months after mine father and mother were
married." A frown formed on her face. "They were married
five weeks after Morgan's mother died from a malignant fever."
"Many children art born before their time." countered Bedivere.
"But that is not all. Mine mother's former husband died in
battle; a battle which mine father hath commanded him to go to."
She threw Bedivere a conspiratorial look. "Coincidence?"
"The circumstances of thy birth art not under thy control. Tis
not a flaw on thy character."
"But there art things that I do have control o'er." Arturia
stopped pacing and looked at her hands. "Thousands... these hands
have slain thousands..."
"Tis them or our country, Arturia. For each one slain, ten, nay a
hundred wert saved from the sword, slavery or hunger. Tis a small
price to pay."
"What about Mordred's host? They were Bryton! I slew those
whom I swore to protect!"
"Some were, but not all, Arturia. Merlyn tells me that o'er half
the host wert shades. Besides, didst thou not entreat them to
surrender? They wert given a chance to follow thy banner, and yet
they chose otherwise. If thou hath not defeated her army, she
would have rent our country in twain with civil war." She
paused. "As for slaying her host, doth not forget that I hath
done the same."
Arturia looked at her sadly. "Yea. And that is mine deep
regret as well. I hath dragged thee to hell with me."
Bedivere quickly went to her and hugged her. "And gladly would I
follow thee there!" She kissed her golden hair and caressed its
unruly tresses. "Light of mine life, e'en if I were to relive
mine life again, I would leap at the chance to be by thy side."
Arturia hugged her back tightly. She did not feel so lonely
anymore. Her room felt so empty and lifeless last night.
Even in her dreams, she saw herself running and running with no sight
But Morgan's parting words still haunted her. How many sins did
she commit? Could she ever be forgiven? Bedivere was
here. Maybe, she could give her some answers.
"Dost the good of all weigh more than the sin of one?" Arturia
waited patiently for her reply.
Bedivere cursed providence for giving her the most difficult
questions. Silently, she cried out to the heavens, "Why
me?" Frantically, she tried to think of a good answer, but found
none. Her battle instincts took over. When faced with an
overwhelming attack, one must dodge instead of blocking it.
"I fear that I lack the wisdom to answer thy question. Mayhap,
Merlyn can give thee an answer."
Arturia snorted. "Merlyn? She answers in riddles and leaves
thee with more questions than answers."
"Yea... I agree with thee."
They laughed together. When their laughter subsided, they held
each other silently. After a while, Arturia asked again, "Why
dost thou love me? Why would anyone want to love me?"
"Love needs no reason. I simply love thee. From the moment
that Sir Ector hath brought thee to mine home, I hath begun to love
thee. Thou shone like a light in mine eyes. As we studied
together, I learned about thy quick mind and curiosity. When we
trained together, I fought thy unyielding bravery and determination,
even in defeat. As we played together, I received thy kindness
and warmth. There art many more reasons... too many in
fact." She cupped her cheek in her palm. "I love everything
"I still doth not understand why thou would feel that way about
me. There art knights who art similar to me and uphold the same
ideals as mine."
At her words, Bedivere made a startling discovery. Although many
loved her, Arturia did not understand the depth of the love given to
her because she had never loved anyone just as much. No, that was
not a correct statement. She did not allow herself to love.
As a king, she only cared to be obeyed. She did not care to be
loved. It was her typical, brutal efficiency to exclude anything
that seemed unnecessary.
Her eyebrows knitted with thought. With Rhynne, Arturia had
skimmed the surface of love. If she had taken the plunge, she
would understand its depths. Perhaps, therein lay her
salvation. Without this basic understanding, she could not
recognize how much she was loved.
It was no wonder that she felt so desolate and lonely. Bedivere
imagined a world without her children and without Arturia in it.
Without them, she would probably feel just as desolate and
lonely. The world would be lifeless, and her very existence would
be without meaning.
She closed her eyes. It was too much to think about for one
person. She needed to talk to Wybrenne about it. Maybe
together, they could plan a course of action.
She stroked her head. "Fret not. I doth not expect thee to
understand. One day, surely, thou will. Set aside these
thoughts for now. Merlyn wishes to speak with thee."
Arturia stiffened. "What doth she want?" she asked acidly.
Bedivere noted the venom in Arturia's voice. She was devastated
when Merlyn translocated Morgan's remains to God knows where. She
spoke calmly. "Only she can answer that. Will thou come
with me to see her?"
There was nothing left that Merlyn could possibly take from her.
She grudgingly replied, "All right. I will see her."
They walked to the Lily pond. Merlyn, Wybrenne and Airianne were
sitting at a table. By the state of the plates and food on the
table, they had just finished breakfast.
After exchanging greetings, they sat down at the table. Arturia
wasted no time. She turned to Merlyn.
"What do ye wish to speak to me about?"
"In two days, King Constantine will hold the eulogy for those who hath
lost their lives at Camlann. Bedivere, me and ye will attend."
"Why me?" asked Bedivere and Arturia at the same time. They
looked at each other in surprise.
"Bedivere must go to honor the Knights of the Round Table. And ye
will do the same." Her gaze softened as she looked at
Bedivere. "I'm sure that he would appreciate that."
Bedivere turned pale and nodded. She had tried to forget, but now
it was time to face reality. Her heart ached as she remembered
that grim battlefield. So many familiar faces joined God in
heaven on that day.
"Wait a moment..." said Arturia. "Is King Constantine the
"Then... who was I?"
"Ye wert the High King before him."
Arturia was baffled. "Did he overthrow me?"
"Nay. Ye died, so the lords chose him as the new High King."
"I died?" said Arturia incredulously. "How can that be,
when I am still here?"
Bedivere hung her head. Merlyn waited for her to explain, but she
kept silent. She cleared her throat to answer.
"The Lady of the Lake took ye to Avalon to heal yer wounds.
Unfortunately, she dinna take ye back. For two weeks, the lords
searched fer ye at Camlann and at the lake."
Arturia was even more puzzled. "I doth not recall meeting the
Lady of the Lake again. Did ye take me to her?"
"Nay... I did." answered Bedivere. "Forgive me,
Arturia! I hath dreamt of the Lady of the Lake, but twas an
illusion cast by Syrowe. So anxious was I to have thee healed
that I put thee on a boat upon the lake and let that boat float away
with thee. But twas not thee upon the boat. Twas a log
enchanted by Syrowe. I should have realized it when a splinter
caught upon mine lip."
Despite the gravity of the situation, a small smile escaped to Merlyn's
lips. She cleared her throat again and tried to sound
serious. "Bedivere told the tale to Sir Bors, who hath returned
with four dozen knights and soldiers to aid ye in battle. Since
there was no one to fight, they searched fer ye in the battlefield and
on the lake. Of course, they dinna find ye."
"Because I... I was with Syrowe and..." Arturia paused as a deep pang
penetrated her heart. Finally, she said it softly. "and
Rhynne..." She looked around her. "Whither is Rhynne?"
"She is resting. Her injuries wert grave." replied
Merlyn. Although Rhynne's injuries were beyond the skill of a
normal physic, Merlyn was confident that she could restore her to her
previous health. However, she decided to exclude this
information, so that she could observe Arturia's reaction.
A sense of dread filled Arturia. She wanted to see her, but she
should not see her. Images of the battle replayed in her
mind: flames rising over a dark pit and her sister burning before
her eyes. Like a devil incarnate, Rhynne dispensed judgment, her
face contorted with malice. Her hands clenched with anger at the
memory. The Code of Chivalry stated that she had every right to
avenge her sister's unnatural death.
But still, a part of her heart ached to know her current condition, so
she asked, "Can ye heal her?"
Merlyn sighed dramatically. "She will live, but her injuries
exhaust mine skill. I will do what I can to heal her."
Merlyn's reply did nothing to ease her anxiety. In fact, it made
it worse. The urge to see her was stronger now. "Whither is
Arturia was obviously worried. Merlyn decided to change the
conversation. "In her bed, resting. As ye know well enough,
healing requires much rest." She stood up and pulled Wybrenne's
chair away from the table. "I have much to prepare. The
Aerie's defenses have been breached, and I must secure it before
leaving." She eyed them both. "Dinna leave the Aerie until
we leave. As usual, ye art welcome to avail the hospitality of
Still seated, they watched Merlyn, Wybrenne and Airianne leave.
Bedivere rose. Although she had promised to watch Arturia, a
sense of foreboding crept into her mind, and she feared the questions
that Arturia would ask. She would have to watch her
discreetly. "I shall prepare as well." She strode out of
the Lily Pond as fast as she can.
What did she need to prepare for? Arturia could not think of
anything. All she could tell was that Bedivere was leaving her
alone. She stood up hastily. "Wait..."
But Bedivere was already closing the door behind her. She ran to
the door and opened it. The hallway was empty. She cursed
herself. She ran through the hallway and started looking for
Bedivere. To her great consternation, she could not find
her. She cursed again. This meant that Bedivere did not
want to be found.
She paced back and forth. Even if she could not find Bedivere,
maybe she could find where Rhynne was resting. She did not need
to talk to her. To see her would be enough. For the rest of
the day, she searched the Aerie from top to bottom. After dinner,
she resumed her search. Time passed quickly, and soon the bell
struck twelve. With a weary heart, she returned to the west
wing. She went into Rhynne's room to search one more time.
Empty. It was so empty. Her eyes leapt toward the table
where she found the garland of dried flowers. The table and floor
had been swept clean.
She flopped down on the bed. Her eyes grew wide as her hand sank
into the pillow. She picked up the pillow and hugged it
tightly. The faint scent of camellia was still on it. Her
eyes watered with tears and she bawled into it, clutching the only
thing that belonged to Rhynne.
Instead of going to the main gathering, Merlyn and Arturia rode to a
distant hilltop. From there, they could see a platform erected at
the shores of the lake. Barges of various sizes were tethered to
temporary docks and were adorned with ribbons and flowers. Large
tents were erected on the small meadow by the lake. A banner with
the dragon standard flew over the most elaborate tent, and announced
the presence of the High King.
Merlyn noted the height of the sun in the sky. She gestured to
Arturia. "Tis almost time. Follow me." They rode to a
forested enclosure and dismounted. Merlyn put her hands on
Arturia's shoulders. "Anifail Cyfnewidiad."
Suddenly, Arturia felt her insides churn. She screamed in fright,
but only heard a shrill squawking sound from her throat. The
trees spun around her and she flailed to catch a branch. When the
world stopped spinning, she found herself inches from the ground.
She lifted her head and saw a large eagle standing next to her.
Merlyn's voice echoed in her ears.
"Come this way. If ye fly now, ye will only get caught in yon
branches." The eagle waddled towards a space between the bushes.
Arturia gaped in horror, or at least, tried to. Her eyes wandered
over her feathered body. She tried to move her arms and felt the
gush of flapping wings.
Merlyn eyed her across the space between the bushes. "When ye art
done flapping about, follow me. Birds dinna stay too long on the
ground. There art too many snakes and weasels about." With
that said, Merlyn flew up to a nearby branch.
The feathers on top of Arturia's head flared at the thought of snakes
and weasels. She waddled clumsily out of the enclosure and flew
haphazardly to Merlyn's branch. She gripped the branch tightly
with her talons as she tried to balance herself on it.
Merlyn's voice advised her. "Use yer tail feathers... flare them
out... that's the way."
"Ye should have warned me!" replied Arturia angrily. "Do ye
expect me to fly too?"
Merlyn winced. "Dinna shout! Even yer whispers art loud
enough. And aye, we shall fly. Art ye ready?"
"Do I have a choice?" asked Arturia sarcastically.
Merlyn shrugged her wings. "Nay." She launched herself off
the branch and with powerful strokes, soared into the sky.
Arturia tried to do the same and nearly fell to the ground. She
managed to stay aloft at the last moment.
"Dinna try so hard. Tis like walking. Relax yer wings and
feel the air."
After several nerve-wracking moments, Arturia figured out how to flap
properly. Slowly, she rose to where Merlyn circled about.
"We shall go to Bedivere now."
As they flew to Bedivere, Arturia saw the world in a new
perspective. Her eyes could see farther than normal.
Despite the great distance between them and the crowd, she could still
see the details on armor and flags. As the wind rustled through
her feathers, she luxuriated in the sensation. Gliding through
the air was actually very calming.
When Merlyn dove down, she followed her reluctantly. Her keen
eyes singled out Bedivere among the throng. Bedivere seemed to
know that they were coming. She lifted her left arm
horizontally. But Merlyn did not land on her arm. With
amazing grace, she descended and perched on Bedivere's shoulder.
The arm was for her. Arturia tried to slow down and land like
Merlyn, but she came in too fast and Bedivere's arm sagged on
impact. Her talons dug deep into her arm and felt the hardness of
steel under her clothes. She was wearing her bracer and
gauntlet. Arturia perched precariously for a few moments before
she regained some balance.
"Ho! What have ye here, Sir Bedivere?" A barrel chested
knight with a scar on his forehead approached them.
"Mine eagles have come to pay homage, Sir Bors." replied Bedivere.
Bors poked his thumb toward Merlyn. "Tis Cloud Dancer, is it not?"
"And this one?"
Arturia laughed at her name, but only a squawk escaped her beak.
"Tis a lively one! Is it male or female?"
Before she realized what he intended to do, she found herself trapped
in Bors' strong arms. His hand ruffled her tail feathers.
"Tis female!" Bors lifted her up in his wide hands. "What
green eyes! I hath ne'er seen such intense hue."
Bedivere laughed heartily. "Yea. She is quite unique, is
Bors looked away to reply to Bedivere. "Definitely! I have
an eagle of mine own. May I borrow her?"
That did it. She lunged forward and pecked Bors with all her
might. With a yelp of pain, Bors loosened his grip. She
spread out her wings and quickly rose into the sky. She began to
curse loudly, but only managed to put out shrill shrieks.
Bors took out his handkerchief and pressed it on his wound to stanch
the bleeding. "She hath a temper."
Bedivere's eyes followed Arturia as she circled above them. She
laughed again. "Thou handled her roughly. She is very
Bors smiled widely. "But such spirit! Will ye let me breed
Bedivere's smile melted. "Nay."
"I'll joust ye fer her."
At this point, Merlyn swooped down and pecked Bors several times on the
head. Arms raised, Bors backed away.
"Pray, withdraw thy challenge, lest Cloud Dancer turn thy head into a
"All right, all right!" cried Bors. "I withdraw." He
peeked under his arm. "But if ye e'er change yer mind..."
Merlyn switched to clawing this time, and Bors ran away to the safety
of a nearby tent. With Bors out of her reach, Merlyn flew to
Arturia and calmed her down.
Merlyn's voice echoed in Bedivere's mind. "We art going over to a
tree to watch."
"All right. I will be here if thou require assistance."
Merlyn and Arturia perched on a nearby tree which was close to the
platform. From their vantage point, they could see and hear
everyone. Arturia's keen eyes scanned a nearby barge. She
noticed that each ribbon had a name. She read some of them:
Ualraig, Aodhan, Caldwell, Coinneach, Fletcher, Domnall, Tames...
Since she did not recognize any of them, she looked at the next barge
which was curiously shaped like a circle. She read the
ribbons: Sir Gareth, Sir Danielle, Sir Agravaine, Sir Kay...
Arturia did not read anymore and stared at the barge in horror.
There were too many ribbons on the barge. It was more than she
wanted to see. She closed her eyes to banish it from her sight.
"Nay, lass... look. Tis about to begin." said Merlyn softly.
A procession of priests approached the platform and took their places
on it. By the voluminous robes of the priest who stood behind the
altar, Arturia guessed that it was an archbishop. The archbishop
began the mass.
At the end of the mass, a knight came forward and declared that he was
going to announce the names of the soldiers who had lost their lives in
battle. Arturia heard some of the names that she read off the
After he was done, Bedivere stood up. Arturia cringed and bowed
her head in shame as Bedivere announced each name. Each name
pierced her heart. What kind of king was she to have them throw
their lives away for her?
Suddenly, Bedivere paused. Arturia looked at her closely.
Her face was lifted towards to the heavens and a tear trickled from her
closed eyes. Then Bedivere spoke softly.
"Farewell, dear brother. I will miss thee sorely. Until the
time of our reunion, may thou rest in peace."
Her heart wrenched in sorrow over Bedivere's loss. Her vision
blurred. She pitched forward. Merlyn's wing draped over her
and steadied her on the branch.
"Be strong, lass. Tis not o'er yet."
Bedivere left the stage and everyone stood up from their seats. A
tall middle-aged man with blonde hair and a rich mantle approached the
platform. He was Constantine. He stood on the platform and
faced the crowd.
"Friends, we hath all keenly felt the loss of such brave and noble
warriors." He paused. "But above all, Britain hath lost the
greatest light that hath e'er shone upon its lands. As an
instrument of God's grace, that guiding light hath rid our dear country
of the Saxon plague and led us into a glorious age of peace and
prosperity. Let us join our hands in prayer to remember our most
noble King Arthur."
Arturia's eyes grew wide after hearing Constantine's speech. As
each person in the crowd reached out to his or her neighbor to join
hands, his words began to sink into her consciousness.
Constantine clasped the hand of his queen with his right and Bors with
his left. Then he raised his clasped hands to the sky. The
crowd raised their hands in turn and those hands rose like a ripple
spreading across a pond. The entire crowd was joined as one.
His voice boomed to reach the ears of everyone in the crowd. "God
in heaven, we ask thee to show King Arthur mercy when he appears before
thee for thy judgment."
"Amen." answered the crowd.
"God in heaven, we ask thee to deliver the love in our hearts to
"God in heaven, give us the strength and wisdom to continue King
Arthur's work upon these lands. Show us the way to continued
peace and prosperity."
"King Arthur, may thou find peace in the love of God."
At his words, Arturia was crying internally. Her heart felt so
relieved to know that she was not hated. Once again, she felt
Merlyn's steady wing over her. When she calmed down, she saw that
the barges were being paddled across the lake. A black standard
with a golden dragon flew over the largest barge. When the barge
was in the middle of the lake, the crew dismantled the tent on the
center of the barge to unveil a statue made of flowers and wood.
The statue resembled her when she wore her armor and mantle. The
crews on each barge moved to a rowboat and paddled back to shore.
The barges began to sink. The flowers on them floated on the
lake's surface, spreading petals across the lake.
Merlyn's voice interrupted her. "Come. There is one more
who pays homage to ye."
She followed Merlyn across the lake and to a distant hilltop. On
it, she beheld a knight on horseback. He was throwing petals into
the wind from a basket. She knew who he was by his dark curly
locks and his chiseled handsome features.
"Merlyn... let me be mine self."
Merlyn tossed her a warning look.
Merlyn nodded and dove toward a grove of trees. They transformed
back. Arturia quickly sped up the hill. He must have sensed
her since he wheeled his horse around at her approach. His jaw
fell and he dropped the basket.
"Lancelot." Arturia inclined her head in acknowledgement.
He leapt off the horse and knelt before her, extending his hand.
"Stop that, Lancelot."
Lancelot stood up, abashed. "Forgive mine habit. Milord is
dressed like a maid."
"I know." Arturia raised her hand in the customary courtly
greeting. Lancelot caught it firmly. They exchanged a short
and chaste kiss.
Arturia drew away. "Mine time is short. I hath come to ask
a boon of thee."
"Name it, and if tis in mine power, I shall do it."
"Care for Guinevere and meet thy child."
Lancelot's jaw dropped again. "Child?"
Arturia turned to Merlyn. "Merlyn will explain."
Merlyn sighed. Arturia was right. He had to know, so she
told him about her role in exchanging Mordred for his son.
Lancelot glared at Merlyn. His bulging neck muscles showed his
restraint. "Whither is mine son now?"
"With Morgan's kin in Lot's fief." She conjured a scroll and
handed it to him. "Herein lies instruction on where he is."
"Mellant. He is a fine man."
"We must go now." declared Arturia. She lowered her voice
and spoke menacingly. "Tell no one of this visit. And, if
thou doth not keep thy promise, I will haunt thee till thy death."
Lancelot swallowed visibly. "Consider it done, Milord." He
paused. "Will I e'er see thee again, Milord?"
She shook her head sadly. "Nay."
Lancelot took a step toward her and hesitated. She understood
what he meant to do and opened her arms. He smiled and embraced
her in a tight bear hug. He released her and turned to
Merlyn. Merlyn sighed and reluctantly held out her arms as
well. He hugged her just as tight.
Tears began to pool in his eyes. "I am truly sorry for all the
trouble that I hath caused thee. Wherever thy journey will take
thee, be well."
"Farewell, King Arthur."
They went back into the grove and transformed into eagles. As
they rose in the sky, she saw Lancelot raise his sword to the sky in
salute. Then he rode away into the forest. Later, they met
up with Bedivere at the village inn where they were staying.
"Art we done here?" asked Arturia.
"Yea." replied Merlyn. She was pleased with the remarkable
change over Arturia. She seemed calmer and less depressed.
"Then let us go home in most haste."
Merlyn nodded. "And so we shall."
Rin was studying with Merlyn when Bedivere came marching in. She
tossed a basket on a nearby table.
"Merlyn, methinks we may have a problem." She grabbed Merlyn's
hand and put it on her forehead. She closed her eyes and
concentrated on an image.
Merlyn understood that Bedivere wanted her to read her mind. She
opened her mind and inhaled sharply at what she saw.
"What is it, Master?" asked Rin.
Merlyn put her hand on Rhynne's forehead. "See fer yerself."
Rin lowered her defenses and let Merlyn project the image into her
mind. She saw a dimly lit church. A couple of workmen were
trying to hang a portrait. She sucked in her breath when
she saw the man in the portrait. He bore an unusual resemblance
to Kotomine. The image faded.
"Who is he?" asked Rin.
"The new archbishop of Gwent." replied Bedivere. "The
workmen saith that the previous archbishop died of fever about a week
Gwent sounded familiar. She tried to think where she heard about
"Ye and Rhynne must go. I cannae leave here when Wybrenne is
ill." said Merlyn. "Dinna meet him. Talk to Brother
Jacob instead. Make sure that the Grail is safe."
Rin broke out in goose bumps when Merlyn mentioned the Grail. A
thought occurred to her.
"Master, will Syrowe pass Gwent on his way here?"
Merlyn paused in thought. She looked at the map on the wall and
pointed at it. A long glowing white line appeared on it and a red
spot appeared a short distance away from the line.
"The start of the line indicates where we were when I received
Airianne's message. I told Syrowe to take these marked roads back
to Eryri. Yonder red spot is Gwent. Tis about half a day's
ride from a marked road to Gwent. I told him to ride as fast as
"Only half a day's ride!" exclaimed Rin. "Master, ye don't know
Syrowe as much as I do. He will definitely go there! Tis
been five days since yer return."
Merlyn paled. She had a sinking feeling that she was right.
"Then both of ye must go at once. Bedivere, meet us at the
Eagle's tower." Bedivere nodded and ran.
Merlyn reached for the basket that Bedivere brought in. She
extracted a small bottle from it. "Tis a potion that can help
heal yer eye. I shall put some on before ye leave." Rhynne
flinched slightly as she reached out to undo the bandage. "Dinna
Rhynne obeyed and she took off the bandage. She held her hand in
front of her eye to check it. Her eyebrows knitted with
"What have ye done, lass!?" she bellowed. She pressed her
palm over Rhynne's eye and dispelled the low level barrier that was
preventing the healing process to occur.
"Master, please! Let it be!" Rin grasped Merlyn's wrist
tightly, but she did not pull her hand away from her eye.
"Nay! Ye will go blind! How can ye do this after all I've
done fer ye?"
"So that I will remember!" yelled Rin. "To remind mine self
not to kill again!"
"Do ye think that this will help Arturia? Tis a useless
gesture!" Merlyn began to apply mana over her eye, but felt
resistance. "Stop that!"
"Tis not for Arturia! Tis for me! Tis mine punishment!"
"To disfigure yerself? Have ye learned nothing from me?"
Her other hand pushed against Rhynne's chest.
Rin felt a surge of mana erupt from Merlyn's hand on her chest.
Suddenly, she could not move. Her breathing became very
shallow. It was high-level petrification spell. She tried
to gather her mana but she could not sense any. It was just as
she feared. The spell also slowed down the flow of mana.
Another surge of mana welled over her eye. Her eye began to itch,
which indicated that it was healing. There was another surge of
mana. From the feel of it, the flow seemed very complex.
"I will grant yer wish, girl. Ye will be blind, but only because
I have sealed the sight in yer eye. Yer eye can still heal
beneath the seal, but ye cannae see from it unless ye break the
seal. If ye want to remember something, then remember this:
ne'er do anything that ye cannae undo. Do yer best t' find
Merlyn took her hands away and picked up the bottle. Rin slumped
into the chair as she was released from the spell.
"Tilt yer head back and let me put some of this on yer eye."
Rin did as she was told. The cool liquid coated her unseeing
eye. She shut her eye when she saw the bandage in front of her
Merlyn finished bandaging her eye. She stood up, walked to the
cabinet full of crystals and began rummaging through it. "Take
what ye need to prepare for the worse. Meet me in the
hallway. We shall go to the Eagle's tower together."
Rin nodded and spoke contritely. "Mine apologies, master, for
mine conduct. And I thank ye for yer kindness."
Merlyn waved her away. "Just go. We shall speak of it when
They flew as fast as they could. Finally, they arrived at the
monastery. They circled over it and chose to land on one of the
towers to transform. Rin transformed first and then she dispelled
the spell on Bedivere. She sat down to catch her breath.
They had flown for four hours. Her arms felt like lead.
Bedivere seemed to be in the same condition. Drops of sweat fell
from her temple and down her cheek. Bedivere wiped the sweat away
with the back of her hand. Then she detached the small water skin
from her belt and handed it to Rin.
Rin gratefully accepted the water skin and drank her fill. She
handed it back to Bedivere who emptied it.
"Canst thou go on?" asked Bedivere.
"Yea." Using the wall for support, Rin stood up cautiously. She
looked around her and below for signs of people. A few monks
strolled in the main courtyard. Another monk was working in a
small vegetable garden. As she shifted her gaze around the tower,
something caught her eye in the distance. She had noticed a
silvery flicker. She stared at the place where she thought she
saw it. A few moments later, she saw it again: a silvery
outline against the blue sky.
"A kekkai!" exclaimed Rin. "Bedivere, I think I know where
Syrowe is. Follow me." Rin transformed Bedivere and then
herself. She launched herself from the tower and flew toward the
They flew as close as they can to the kekkai then they landed and
transformed. Rin reached into her robe and detached the jewel in
"Raging Soul." she whispered. She transformed into her mage
battle suit. She clipped her staff to her belt then she put her
hand near the boundary of the kekkai and warned Bedivere.
"Prepare thy sword, Sir Bedivere. I cannot see what is
within. We may be attacked as soon as we go in. Give me thy
Bedivere stared at the empty air where Rhynne held her hand up.
Try as she might, she could see nothing unusual. She would have
to trust Rhynne's skill. She drew her sword and extended her left
Rin felt the hardness of steel under the glove. It would not
do. "I beg thy pardon." She pulled Bedivere's sleeve up and
gripped her forearm. "I require direct contact with thy
With Bedivere in tow, Rin concentrated mana on her hand and pushed
against the kekkai. If it were Shiro's, then it would be easy to
breach since she was the one who taught it to him. To her great
relief, her hand melted into the boundary. She walked in and
tugged Bedivere behind her.
She was not prepared for what she saw. The sky was a cloudy shade
of red. Gray mist and large metal gears hung lazily in the
air. Instead of a meadow, they stood on a sun-baked field
littered with dozens of swords.
In the distance, they heard the clash of swords. They raced to
the sound, avoiding swords and sizzling gray puddles.
They found Shiro battling about thirty shades. Kansho and Bakuya
flashed about, ripping shades with each strike. Bedivere charged
in with a battle cry. Rin shot shades as fast as she could.
Shiro sidestepped an attack. Suddenly, a fallen shade grabbed his
ankle and drove his dagger into Shiro's leg. Rin aimed anyway and
hoped that she was not too late. She was.
To her great astonishment, the dagger plunged deep into Shiro's leg,
but Shiro did not cry out in pain. Instead, he leapt away and
grabbed a nearby sword. He threw the sword and impaled the shade,
causing it to melt into a puddle of ooze.
Rin was not sure what had happened. She resumed shooting more
shades. There were only half a dozen more shades left. Then
it happened. Shiro dropped his swords and collapsed.
"Shiro!" cried Rin in alarm. She went to his side as soon
as she could and cast a barrier around them. She knelt beside
him. He was pale and breathing heavily. She put her hand
over him to scan for injuries. When she did not sense anything,
she tried again. To her great horror, Shiro began to fade in and
out. She put her hand on his shoulder and applied mana. His
shoulder began to solidify.
"S'no good..." whispered Shiro hoarsely in Japanese. "Don't
waste it..." Shiro turned himself over. The whites of his
eyes were streaked with swollen red veins. "Take care of Sakura
"It'll be okay! Hold on." She was not going to lose
him. Rin grabbed his hand and applied mana. His hand
solidified. He yanked his hand away.
"Don't Rin. S'kay... I have to go anyway." He began
to dissolve into mist. His eyes pleaded with her. "Let me
The barren ground was becoming translucent. Just beyond it, she
could see long weeds. The kekkai was being dispelled.
"As if!" yelled Rin. "You stupid ass! Use Avalon!"
"Can't... gave it to Merlyn..."
Shiro's mouth moved but no sound came from them.
"No!" cried Rin. She put her hands on his body and poured
as much mana as she could. Shiro's hand flew to her chest and a
strong force pushed her back ten feet away. The swords around
Shiro rose in the air and formed a barricade around him.
Rin scrambled to her feet and fired shots like a machine gun to destroy
the barricade. Swirling red and silver mist rose in the air and
the swords turned into mist as well. She sprinted toward it and
reached out, hoping to grab Shiro. Instead, she grabbed empty
air. He was gone.
Tears stung her eyes. "You will all pay!" Orbs began to
multiply around her.
Bedivere saw the orbs and retreated as far as she could. She
assumed a defensive stance in Rhynne's direction.
Rin screamed in rage and sorrow. "Sunburst!"
The orbs flew to the remaining shades and incinerated them. Their
remains burned the weeds underneath them. Rin raised her
tear-streaked face to the cloudless blue sky and cried, "Why
Airianne's panicked voice rang loudly in her mind. "Mother!
Merlyn quickly teleported to Airianne's location. Arturia was
slumped over the kitchen table. She was turning into mist.
Chapter 12 Omake
Wybrenne: I haven't done anything useful! Am I just an
ornamental character? I know... I'll teach you about sex.
Arturia: No, thank you. I already know.
Wybrenne: Oh, fiddlesticks...