Gaheris and Morgan hash out their childhood grudge and once again, a furious Tristan stands in their way.
Then we join Gawain …the very lad Morgan so desperately wants to rescue. He’s riding in a convoy with his Hibernian captors, led by the 21-year-old Princess Isolde herself. Even though he’s assigned to be her bodyguard, Isolde makes it clear that if he tries to flee, she’ll put an arrow through his back. Gawain knows she’s capable of it.
artwork by Wojtek Fus
Chapter 4 – Fool Me Once
By Rock Kitaro
Iron – “Rock Bottom”
In the dead of the night, the torches were doused. Calm had settled. With just the pale moon reflecting off of the wet stone walls, Morgan led the brothers Agravain and Gaheris through the slums of Tintagel. The strong stench of urine and ale was nauseating, but they expected no less from the plebs.
Drunken sailors were passed out on almost every corner. For some reason, a black crow kept following the trio as if it was keeping tabs on them. It made sure to perch on every business sign before releasing a piercing caw, stiffening the hairs on the back Gaheris’s neck. He was very much tempted to shoot it down.
Instead of riding their horses, they guided their steeds by the reins, walking them ever so slowly to mind the clacking of the hooves. All three were covered in dark wool hoods.
Morgan, the determined seventeen-year-old enchantress with her obedient horse, Vebby.
Agravain, the emboldened fourteen-year-old armed with two Roman broadswords sheathed under the round shield on his back.
And Gaheris, the annoyed fifteen-year-old archer who wasn’t entirely on board with Morgan’s plan. He felt it lacked sufficient details. Well…either it lacked details or Morgan was deliberately withholding them.
Leaving on a moment’s notice, Gaheris had no choice but to steal back the handcrafted bow he made for King Mark. His quiver was jam-packed with razor sharp arrows. A lightweight short sword was strapped to his waist. And as that gut-wrenching feeling began to churn in his stomach, he chuckled with a hopeless smirk.
“What’s that, Constantine? Oh it’s funny you should ask. I’m only about to sneak out of one of the most impregnable fortresses the world’s ever seen. Why, you ask? That’s funny too. You see, whenever someone promises the liberation of my brother, I’m almost bound by sacred oath to venture forth. Ogres, you say? Errant knights and elfish demons galore? Nah, I’m not scared of all that. It’s my brother, you see. He’d want this. He’d want me to venture forth and–”
“For crying out loud, Gaheris! Do you want get caught or don’t you?” Morgan snapped.
“You don’t get to talk to me like that. Just keep walking before I change my mind. And why such haste? I’d feel a lot better if we had more time to prepare,” Gaheris grumbled.
“It must be tonight. The rest of the lords will be returning home in the morning. It’ll be buzzing with activity so no one will think to look for us. This will give us enough time to make distance before they figure out we’re gone,” Morgan whispered.
“Well it’s a good thing we arrived when we did, isn’t it. Or did your foresee such events and expect it? Wait, am I under a spell right now? Go on. Tell me. I won’t get mad. I promise,” Gaheris sulked.
“Such spite and for what?” Morgan said, rolling her eyes.
“He still blames you for killing Merlin,” Agravain snickered.
Gaheris let out a harsh guttural growl.
Morgan sighed, “Honestly, Gaheris. That was years ago. Won’t you forgive me?”
When he didn’t respond, she glanced over. His frown made her spit with laughter.
Gaheris threw up his hands. “That’s it. I’m out!”
“Wait! Stop!” Morgan whispered as she tackled Gaheris and Agravain into a pile of hay.
Two patrol officers were passing by. It was odd. They heard the muffled noise of but completely overlooked the fact that they were three idle horses left unattended to. It was their duty to return them to the stables on the other side of the castle, but that must have been way too much trouble. The patrol continued on and pretended not to see them.
As soon as the patrol was out of sight, a disgruntled Gaheris emerged from the hay and began pulling straw from his hair. “All I’m saying is Merlin didn’t deserve to die. It was childish.”
“Well. In my defense, I was a child,” Morgan noted.
“No! You knew better!”
“It was just a stupid dog!” Agravain stressed.
“You’re on your own. Good luck!” Gaheris said with the snap of his fingers.
Agravain latched on to Gaheris’s shoulder and quickly realized Gaheris was serious by the way he yanked himself free. Morgan hurried over and stared up at Gaheris with remorse in her eyes. She pouted and released something of a whimper. Gaheris knew it was an act but appreciated that she was at least trying.
“I’m sorry, Gaheris. Truly, I am. Please come with us. We could use your strength, your cunning, your guile.”
“Tell me, why do you care so much? He’s not your brother. He’s barely a nephew.”
Morgan squinted as if she was prepared to slap him. “How can you possibly say that? I love your brother as I love you. We’re family. If you or Aggie were captured I’d make the same fuss. Honestly, I never knew you to be so heartless.”
Gaheris turned to Agravain. “And you’re set on this, are you?”
“It’s been too long, brother. I know you feel the same. It’s time for Gawain to come back.”