A/N- This is not the regularly scheduled chapter. That will be out tomorrow morning.
The eerie creek of an old wooden door being pulled open filled the air inside the dimly lit shop. Spread throughout most of the space within were several crooked counters and thin tables, all filled with various random objects, including skulls and other types of bones, cups, knives, books, bottles with glowing fluid within, and more. At the end of the room was a rocking chair, where a figure sat. Her exact form was impossible to make out, as she was covered by a mix of blankets and shadows. A gray and tan cat perched on her leg, glaring in the direction of the now-open door, as well as at the man who had just stepped through.
“If you came for a healing tonic,” the woman in the chair informed her new arrival, “I’m afraid you’re out of luck. The last one was just sold, not even a single bell before you came tromping through the mud outside. Speaking of which, do wipe your feet. Or, better yet, be off with you. I’ve things to do and they don’t include playing saleslady for a gape-mouthed sight-seer.”
Rather than leave as she had requested, the man in the doorway paused for a moment. Then he spoke in a simple, yet hopeful voice. “Morgana?”
His words were met with silence at first. Then the woman in the chair spoke a single word, and the dimly lit candles flared to much brighter life. The room was suddenly filled with light, enough to make the man blink once against the force of it. He could see the figure now, an ancient-looking old crone, bundled into those blankets. She looked frail enough that a stiff breeze could have turned her to dust. Her gaze looked him up and down, taking in his long, dark hair that fell just to his shoulders, his deep blue eyes, the gleaming metal armor he wore, and the sword at his hip. Finally, she spoke. “Arthur, it is you, isn’t it?”
“Mor… Morgana?” Arthur looked her up and down, taken aback by her incredibly ancient-looking appearance. “How–I mean, it hasn’t been that long, has it? I’m not– I mean I didn’t think…”
A tiny smirk played across her face. “Relax, Arthur. It’s not what you think.” With that, she started to rise. The cat jumped down with a hiss of agitation, while the woman swept the blankets aside. Her figure blurred slightly as she rose. The wrinkles vanished, her gray hair turned bright, vibrant red, and all the supposed weakness and age faded away. Soon, the woman was standing upright, amusement seeming to dance through her eyes. She was still older than he had last known her, yet not that old. Those who had not grown up with her as a sister would have called her beautiful, with her slim form and long, exotic red hair. Hair she rightly no longer dyed black just to keep a man who was ashamed of his wife’s infidelity happy.
“You should have seen the look on your–” she started to say, only for her words to turn to a surprised gasp as the man crossed the distance between them and pulled her into an immediate embrace. There was no hesitation at all. One second he was standing across the room, and the next he was right in front of her, his arms hauling the woman off the floor in a crushing embrace.
“I’m sorry,” he informed her in a low, yet rumbling voice. “I looked for you, I did. But I couldn’t find you. I just–I’m sorry, Morgana.”
There was a brief moment of silence before she spoke. “Morgan,” the woman informed him. She returned the embrace for a second or two, then slipped free of his grasp and took a step back. “Not Morgana anymore. My name is Morgan Le Fey. It–that’s my name.” There was a lot more to that whole thing, but she didn’t want to get into it just then.
“Le Fey? Of the Fay?” Arthur blinked again before shaking off the confusion. “Whatever you want to be called, Morgana–Morgan. You–you’re alive. They said–the rumors about–I heard the–” Giving up on trying to find the right words, he just took her hands and squeezed them tightly. “I’m sorry,” he repeated yet again, needing to keep saying the thing he had thought for so long. “I went back for you, I swear. But it was a couple days later, and when we couldn’t find you anywhere, I thought you were–” He swallowed hard, glancing away. “I thought you were gone forever.”
Her mouth opened, before she froze and looked away. A series of painful emotions played across the woman’s face at the memories of those days. Then she pushed the thoughts aside and focused on him. “It doesn’t matter,” she announced in a soft voice. “That’s all over now. It has been for a long time.” She looked him up and down once more. “And speaking of long time, you’ve grown up.”
“Me?” He laughed incredulously, squeezing her hands. “We both have. But at least you don’t really look like… that.” His eyes flicked over toward the rocking chair. “What was that, magic? You know some magic.”
“I know quite a bit,” she confirmed with a soft chuckle. “You could say I’ve been busy over the years.” Again, painful memories crept up, but she shoved them aside while barely allowing her expression to shift at all. “Arthur, I can feel… I can sense… Are you the magical king everyone has been talking about, the one building a new city?” She had a lot of questions about that. The name ‘Arthur’ had reached her with those rumors, but it wasn’t exactly an uncommon one. Though a part of her had wondered, she hadn’t truly believed it. Not until now.
His grin seemed to fill the room with even more light than the blazing candles. “Camelot. Morgan–” He coughed to stop himself from saying the last a. “You have to see it. You have to come, it’s–there’s so much I want to show you, so much to talk about.”
Morgan made a show of hemming and hawing a bit, glancing around the crowded shop. “I don’t know, I have my store here. It took awhile to build up my business, you know. I can’t just walk away from–” She saw his expression and laughed, her hand swatting his shoulder. “Of course I’ll visit your city, idiot. To hell with the shop, I was almost ready to move on anyway. I don’t–” Yet again, that flicker of painful memories. “I don’t stay in one place for long.” Another pause came, then, “And you’re right, we have a lot to talk about.
“Most importantly, what happened with that dragon?”
Obviously, they had a lot to catch up on, and doing so was going to take a long time. Morgan didn’t want to talk much about what she had gone through after being separated from him when the dragon had attacked their village. Her past was too sensitive, so she continued to press him for his own story. And Arthur was more than happy to explain everything. He told her the whole story about taking the dragon’s tooth and then being found by the woman who called herself Nimue. Over the next hour as they stood in her tiny shop, he told her about learning magic, about testing his new power, how amazing it was to fly through the clouds, all of it.
“You can fly.” Morgan shook her head in wonder as her brother described what that was like. “If he knew what you could do, Chadwick would demand you take him and Chickee the… Ninth out for a trip.”
“You’ve been keeping up with him,” Arthur noted, a small smile of pride playing at his face.
Morgan glanced away, exhaling heavily. “I checked in a couple times, just to make sure he was okay. And to see if you showed up. You never did.”
That time, Arthur looked visibly guilty, grimacing. “I wanted to let him live a normal life, without putting him in danger because of who–what I am. He wouldn’t be able to remember all these extraordinary things anyway, but anyone who wanted to come after me could.” His eyes found her again, as he added, “But you remember. You weren’t affected by that… whatever it is that makes people forget. And you can use magic.”
If Morgan hadn’t been focused on very pointedly not thinking or talking about her past, she might have picked up on the fact that he had clearly been about to say something else about who was responsible for ‘making people forget.’ Centuries later, the woman who eventually called herself Gaia would find herself wondering what might have happened had she pressed him in that moment. It would not have taken much for him to crack and explain things to her. What if she had? What if she had known the truth about the Seosten as far back as that day?
But she didn’t. Instead, the Morgan of this moment cleared her throat and changed the subject. This day was already enough without adding in time spent talking about how she had gotten to where she was now. “And you have been busy forming a whole new kingdom and bringing all those people together.” She eyed him slyly. “Pretty impressive for a peasant boy. Especially one who could never beat me in a duel.”
Scoffing, Arthur retorted, “Only because you cheated and threw dirt in my eyes.” Before she could respond to that, he waved a hand. “Yes, yes, I know true opponents would do the same. I’ve gotten better at preparing for that, believe me.” He gave her a lopsided grin that reminded the woman of the small boy she had known all those years earlier. The one whose abandonment, intentional or not, had stung for so much of her life. “Come, I think we’ve both been cooped up in here for long enough. I finally found you!” His hand came down to squeeze her shoulder. “This calls for a true celebration. And we can start by finding the best meat and drink this town has to offer.”
Before moving, however, Morgan caught his hand as he started to lift it from her shoulder. She took a breath, meeting his gaze. “Arthur, I want you to know…” Several things passed through her mind in that moment. She could tell him about the terrible things she had seen and been through, could explain why she needed to disguise herself to make sure certain people didn’t find out where or who she was. She could tell him why she was more withdrawn, why being separated from him on that day was the worst thing that could’ve happened to her. But that would only make him feel guilty. She didn’t want to get into all of that, and she had no desire to put the weight of it on Arthur’s shoulders. He clearly had enough as it was.
So, she pushed the impulse down and simply continued with, “I am very glad to see you. I know that I may not be showing it as much as you are. But I am… incredibly happy that you’re here.” She swallowed back every other thought she had in that moment, and simply stepped over to embrace her brother once more. The only other words that came out, through the thick lump in her throat, were, “I missed you, Arthur.”
As it turned out, Arthur wasn’t here alone. He’d actually come, along with a few of his people, on a mission to deal with reports of monsters in the deep forest, miles beyond this small village. This area wasn’t officially part of his burgeoning kingdom yet, but he was hoping to convince them to join. And part of that involved stopping whatever beast was out there from slaughtering any more innocent people.
“I saw your charms up around the village as we entered,” he informed Morgan while the two of them walked together to join his companions in the tavern. “You put them up to protect the people here, didn’t you? Does that mean you know what this monster is?”
Morgan, who had used another illusion enchantment to shift back into her old woman disguise, hobbled along beside him. They made a very strange pair, given how old, ugly, and decrepit she appeared to be, next to his tall, handsome self with gleaming armor and perfect posture. People continued to give the pair double-takes as they passed.
Smirking a bit to herself at that thought, Morgan glanced toward one of those charms he had mentioned. It dangled from an old broken fence, a wooden figurine shaped like a person with an oversized head, wide grinning mouth, and an assortment of symbols across the body. “I had to add another spell so these people wouldn’t notice them. The idiots kept taking them down. That’s why the beast managed to take as many people as it has.”
She turned back toward him then, sticking her cane hard into the dirt while adding, “I don’t know what that thing is, exactly. But it’s very large and very dangerous. The protection spells I’ve put over this village are holding it away for now, yet if you hadn’t come… I was going to find a way to drive these people out of here, make them move on. This creature is not one to be trifled with lightly.”
“Aww, are you worried about me, sister?” Arthur kept his voice low so it wouldn’t carry as far as the onlookers staring at them from a distance. He was a man in bright, gleaming armor, and she was the town herbalist, a strange old woman who was only worth talking to when one wanted help with a cut or infection. Certainly not someone who was often seen walking down the middle of the street in broad daylight.
“Worried that you’re still stupid enough to charge straight into a battle you don’t understand, yes,” Morgan shot back with a tiny smirk.
Arthur chuckled and waved a hand in acknowledgment. ”I suppose I have had a habit of running into things. Maybe it’s a good thing that you’re here to help with that again.”
Morgan raised an eyebrow pointedly. “Maybe? If you hadn’t run into me, your reign as king of this new land you’ve been putting together would probably have ended in tears and tragedy.” Her hand, hidden behind its disguise as a wrinkled, leathery old thing, gripped his shoulder tightly. “But don’t worry. As long as I’m with you, I’ll make sure you’re safe. Just as long as you don’t go running off to fight another dragon.”
With a broad smile, Arthur retorted, “Why not fight another dragon? After all, now we’d be on closer to even ground. And with you at my side, the dragon wouldn’t stand a chance.”
Morgan rolled her eyes at him. “Do you really think I’d stay with you if you went charging up to another dragon to pick a fight?” She squinted that way while he simply smiled at her expectantly. Finally, Morgan exhaled ruefully. “Damn it.
“Fine, but this time I get the dragontooth sword.”
In the end, the monster in the forest was, of course, not a dragon. It was, however, quite the threat. Killing it required everything Arthur, Morgan, and the two knights he had brought with him could do. Those two knights, Lancelot and Percival, were very curious about who Morgan was, especially once she dropped the old lady disguised as they left the village. So, Arthur had introduced her while they were hunting the beast, with the story continuing after it was dead.
Now, with the village as safe as it could be, the four of them were heading back the way Arthur and his knights had come. It would have been simple for the man to fly them back that way, but he preferred to take the long route in order to see more of the people and lands he was supposed to be protecting.
So, they rode horses. Apparently it would be at least a week’s journey that way to get to the place they called home. On the way, the others, mostly Lancelot, asked Morgan a lot of questions. She answered as best as she could, but refused to get into the details of what had happened to her after leaving Arthur as a child. All she would say was that she had been taken by terrible creatures, and that she didn’t like to think about that time.
Eventually, they were only a few hours from reaching the place where Camelot was being built. Camping out that night, Morgan sat by the fire and stared into the flames. Behind her, Lancelot stared silently at her back for several long minutes. Arthur and Percival were asleep, but these two remained alert and on watch for any threats.
Morgan knew the knight was staring at her. And he, in turn, knew that she knew. But neither spoke up for some time.
Finally, Lancelot broke the silence. “He missed you, you know. He talked about you a lot, his memories of you. He thought you were dead, but there were a few times when he might’ve found you and he always ran off to check. He got to the point where no one really thought too much about it when he’d go away on one of those missions, because it never panned out. I didn’t even think about it at all this time when he said he was going to check something.”
Without turning around, Morgan simply replied, ”And then it turned out to be real this time.” Her voice was soft. She took in a deep breath before letting it out. “To be honest, I never expected him to find me either. Mostly because I didn’t expect him to be alive. I thought the dragon ate him. When I was a child, I thought that the only reason he ever would’ve left me alone for that long, the only reason he would’ve abandoned me like that, was if it ate him. I grieved for him. I had a funeral in the cell they put me in. Couldn’t bury his body, obviously. But I used a skull that was in the corner as a stand-in. I buried him, and I thought I was going to be alone forever.”
After getting that much out, Morgan forced herself not to think about those days anymore. They were getting too close to dangerous memories. Instead, she turned her head slightly, lowering her voice while looking at the light out of the corner of her eye. “Does he know you’re a woman?”
There was a brief pause as Lancelot absorbed the question before chuckling softly. “Oh, he knows. But how long did it take you to figure that out?” The question came idly, though Morgan could hear the slight intensity behind it. Whoever this Lancelot really was, she cared about Arthur and was worried that he was blinded by his memories of his sister. Which was fair.
“Longer than I’d like to admit,” Morgan replied easily. “But I picked up on a few things as we went along. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a secret for me or everyone. And, well, I thought it would be a bit rude to bring it up in front of the others.”
“I appreciate that,” Lancelot noted quietly while continuing to stare intently at her. “As I said, he talked about you a lot, with all of us. He’s been pretty intent on finding you whenever there was a hint that you might be alive. So I know he doesn’t think all that clearly when it comes to you.” She paused then, clearly considering her words. “Be careful, please. I don’t know what it is, and I’m not saying you intend to do any harm. But I also know that you could hold a grudge about Arthur disappearing all those years ago. From everything I can pick up, you went through a lot. Arthur never intended that. He never wanted you to be hurt, and he went to find you as soon as he could.”
Morgan looked away, her gaze returning to the softly crackling fire for a few long, silent seconds. “You believe I could hold some sort of grudge against my brother because he chose to run into the village after the dragon and left me in the forest, where I was taken to be…” She trailed off before simply shaking her head. “I understand. Believe me, I do. There have been times throughout this life when I did harbor anger toward him. But only because he was a convenient target. It was not his intention to abandon me, you’re right about that. And he couldn’t have known what would happen.”
Turning then, she looked right at Lancelot. “You say he missed me. That was mutual. The anger I held toward him in those little moments was driven by the fact that I missed him. He was my brother and my best friend. I have been through a lot, but I have not forgotten that. Arthur meant more to me than anyone in this world. You don’t have to tell me that I am one of his blindspots, because he is one of mine as well. I may not show such things openly as much as he does, but believe me when I say I feel them as well. I’m simply not as good at showing that as he is.” She swallowed slightly. “I never have been, even when we were children. But it is worse now.
“So yes, I promise that I mean no harm to him. I wish to see and know the man my brother has become, and the life he has created. I would have wished for that had he simply been a cobbler, a farmer, or a traveling bard. Knowing he has become this? I want to know everything. And I want to help create the kingdom he envisions.”
For a moment, it seemed as though Lancelot was going to say one thing, before stopping herself. Instead, she simply adjusted the hood a bit over her head and smiled faintly. “I’m glad to hear that. For all his power, there’s still a lot of danger out there. Creatures and people who want to tear this whole idea down before we can actually build it. So we need all the help we can get.” Saying that, she shifted over a bit before extending a hand.
Morgan glanced at the offered hand briefly before accepting it. They shook firmly and held on while she spoke in a soft voice. “I hope I can be that sort of help. And that I can get to know you better, Lancelot.
“So far, it’s been a pleasure to meet you.”
Camelot was still deeply under construction. It would be many years before the vision that Arthur and those closest to him had in mind would be realized. And yet, even in its unfinished state, the city was still quite beautiful. At its center was a pristine, gleaming white palace with three finished towers that seemed to reach high into the heavens. The fourth tower was still being constructed. Once all four were finished, they would work together to project a powerful shield across the entire city proper.
Extending out from the palace grounds were four different streets at the cardinal compass directions. The streets were constructed from smooth stone, and had been enchanted to glow faintly in the dark in order to provide a lit path no matter where one was in the city. The north path from the palace led to the merchants quarters, where their shops and homes were. The south path led to the soldiers’ barracks and training yards, along with the homes where their families would stay. The east and west paths, meanwhile, led to the main city proper, where everyone else lived in a mix of half-finished houses and tents next to construction sites. Following the east path far enough would lead to what were known as the slums of the area, where the poorest lived. And yet even they would have been considered quite lucky in comparison to most other cities, because in this area they were protected from the many dangers which roamed the countryside. They were poor, but they did not starve. Arthur made certain of that.
Following the west path far enough, on the other hand, led to the laborers camp, the part of the city where those most responsible for building it set their own assortment of small cabins and tents.
A tall, imposing wall had been half constructed around the land as well, at the very outskirts of the area Arthur had designated for his city. Once it was finished, along with the towers at the palace that would project the powerful forcefield, the city would be all but untouchable.
Taking all that in as she stood at the base of the palace staring at the unfinished tower, Morgan spoke quietly. “I have to say, you’re certainly going to great lengths when it comes to protecting this city.” She turned slightly to look at him, raising an eyebrow. ”Is that simply to avoid what happened to our home, or is there something specific you’re worried about?”
Arthur started to say something, but before he could finish, Lancelot spoke up. “It won’t surprise you to know that there are a great many people out there who aren’t happy about what Arthur is trying to do here. Not the least of which are those who are quite annoyed about their own citizens leaving them to come here.”
“Yes, well, that was my next question,” Morgan agreed. “More to the point, how do you claim ownership over this land, let alone name yourself king?“
Arthur chuckled a little, looking simultaneously amused and embarrassed. “As far as that goes, you might say it was a bit of a sword in a stone situation.” He smiled a bit more than before adding, “The creature who once ruled the lands here for as far as you can see was a giant made of stone. He enslaved the people and forced them to work in his mines. I challenged and defeated him, and thus inherited his lands. He called himself king, and others say I inherited his title when I slayed him.”
“He speaks as though it was simple,” Percival put in. “Yet it was anything but. Entire armies had fallen to that beast before. Arthur defeated him in one on one combat. He has earned his title. And now, what was once a land devoted to slavery and misery will stand as a beacon of freedom and prosperity.”
“Only with the aid of friends and family.” Arthur said that pointedly while looking at Morgan. Then his expression softened a little as he extended a hand to her. “Come, there is more to show you. And you must be introduced.”
Morgan accepted his hand before pausing. “You aren’t going to go overboard with this, are you?”
The innocent look he adopted had not fooled her as a child, and it didn’t do so now either. “Overboard? Please, trust me, my dear long-lost sister. This will be a quiet, personal event. I simply wish to welcome you home.
“Now, is pheasant still your favorite?”
“This is what you consider to be a quiet, personal event?“ As she asked that rather incredulously, Morgan’s voice remained a low hiss. Now they were in the center of the grand dining room of the palace. Apparently these rooms had once belonged to the stone giant who had once ruled the lands. The majority of that castle had been knocked down, but what remained served as the central most point of the kingdom. There was powerful old magic in these walls, she could feel it.
And in addition to the powerful magic, there were people. There were a lot of people. There had to be a thousand of them filling the tables spread throughout the room. All of them were staring up at the front where Arthur’s table sat. No, they weren’t looking at the table. They were looking at Morgan as she stood next to their king. She could feel the questioning gazes, wanting to know who this stranger was and why she had been put at such an important position. She could almost hear their judgments, and it made her hackles rise despite herself. That wasn’t exactly fair, of course. She knew that. They hadn’t even said anything yet. But that didn’t stop her feelings from running ahead of the situation.
Smiling as he stood next to her, Arthur put a hand on her shoulder. “Believe me, this is smaller than it could’ve been. Now, let’s get through these introductions so our new friends here will return their attentions to their own business.”
If he truly believed that the people here would stop staring at her once he introduced her, Morgan truly wasn’t sure how much experience he could possibly have in these situations. Still, she did want to get the introduction part over with, so she gave a slight nod. “As you wish.”
So, they moved out from behind the table, passing the rest of those knights Morgan had been briefly introduced to in the past few hours. Then she was standing at the head of the room, wearing the dress Arthur had produced for her. It was a deep red and gold color, more beautiful than anything she’d ever worn in her life. It felt odd, but she wanted to make as good of an impression as possible, for her brother’s sake.
“My friends!” Arthur began, with every eye in the room focused intently on him. “Thank you all for coming on such short notice. You were told that the purpose behind our gathering this evening was a celebration, but not what that celebration was in regards to. Now, allow me to alleviate that confusion.” He stepped aside and raised his arm to indicate the woman beside him. “I would like all of you to meet an incredibly important person. This is my sister, Morgana.”
Morgana, the name he had once known her by. Not Morgan, the name she had chosen. It wasn’t intentional, she knew that immediately. He wasn’t trying to dismiss her preference. That wasn’t the sort of person he was. No, this was simply a case of Arthur not thinking about what he was saying. He was excited and happy to show her to these people. He was thinking about the time they spent together as children, lost in those memories rather than in the far more recent one where she had told him her new name. New name? It was a single letter. Was it really something she should worry about right now? Was it worth saying anything about?
Perhaps not to some. But it was to her. This was the name all these people would know her by. Intentional or not on his part, it still mattered.
So, pushing aside her doubts, she put her hand on his arm, stopping him in mid-sentence. She could hear the reaction go throughout the room as their king was touched like that, but ignored it. Instead she spoke up. “Actually, I am known as Morgan le Fay.” A pause to let that sink in, then, “Morgan of the Fey. Morgan.” It was all she could do not to very pointedly add, ‘not Morgana.’ The point had been made well enough, there was no need to hammer it home any further.
If he was bothered at all by the correction, Arthur didn’t show it. He simply met her gaze and smiled a bit before nodding. His voice rang through the room. “My sister, Morgan le Fay.”
Applause filled the room, though not all of it was enthusiastic. Morgan could see the questions and calculations in some of those eyes. They wanted to know if there was a way they could use this to their own benefit. Or if it would, on the other hand, be used against them. Not all were like that, however. Arthur had done a very good job of surrounding himself with people who were important, yet shared his goals for the most part. But even then, one could share his goals and still want to further their own power.
Then, of course there were those who were suspicious that she would have ill designs, or would in some way distract their king from his own duties. She could see that in their expressions as well. They loved Arthur and were afraid that this suddenly appearing long-lost sister would present a threat to him and his people. None of which she could blame them for. But she would simply have to show them that they were wrong. This city Arthur wanted to create, the kingdom he envisioned, she wanted to be a part of that. She had seen some of the worst that this world had to offer, and if her brother had stumbled across the power necessary to create something better, then she would be there for it. No matter how uncomfortable the situation made her.
“I’m sorry,” Arthur quietly informed her many hours later, once the long meal and subsequent discussions were over. The two of them were alone now, standing out on top of one of the finished towers overlooking the partially-completed city below. “You told me you don’t like the name Morgana anymore. I know that, and I wasn’t trying to–”
“I know,” Morgan interrupted, still staring out across the buildings and tents. “You didn’t intend offense or dismissal. But I still had to correct you.” Her grip tightened on the railing before she turned to look at him. “I couldn’t have those people know me by that name. And if I waited any longer, it would have solidified in their minds. There would be no chance of correcting it once that name got out. I would forever have been known as Morgana to your people.” She sighed then, pushing aside the doubts and uncertainties she had about this whole situation. She wanted to make this work. It would work.
Arthur’s hand found its way to her back and squeezed. “I’m glad you corrected me. You should be known by the name you choose, not one that makes you uncomfortable.” He hesitated before adding, “I don’t want to be someone who makes you uncomfortable. I want–” There was a pause as he considered what he was saying. “I want you to be a part of this, a part of what we’re building here. Not the city, I want you to be part of… everything. Camelot is going to be a lot more than simply a city. It’s going to change the world.”
Arching an eyebrow, Morgan gently nudged him with her elbow. Then she did so again, harder. He could take it, and much more besides. “Someone’s received a large dose of ambition along with their great power.”
Arthur’s low chuckle filled the air while he nudged her back. “Maybe I have become ambitious. But sometimes ambition is good to have, especially when it’s pointed in the right direction. Or against the right enemies. And the enemies who are out there…” He trailed off, his eyes turning to look out over the horizon. But he wasn’t looking at the houses. Morgan could tell that much. Whatever he was seeing, it wasn’t in front of them. Some threat, something he hadn’t talked to her about, haunted his gaze.
She intended to ask him what it was, press him to explain what this whole thing was really about and why he was putting so much effort into creating so many protections for this city. The words were on the tip of her tongue. But before they could come, Arthur turned away from the view and began to move back to the door. “Come, Morgan le Fay. This is a very large palace, and there’s still a great deal to show you. I think our next stop should be the training yard.
“After all, I believe someone thinks she can still beat me in a duel.”