CAMELOT: The Beginning Preview

~ Once Upon A Time ~

Chapter 1

“I do not wish to attend the funeral, Bors. Why may I not remain here?”

“I am sorry, young pup. It is your duty.”

“I do not wish to remember my father in this manner.”

“It is a time to honor your father and his legacy. It is important for you to remember such things.”

“I prefer to remember other things.”

“Things such as?”

“I prefer to remember the times we were together; my father and I. You of all people know how few those times were.”

“It is true.”

“Bors, I truly do understand the importance of such things as honor and legacy.”

“Yes, I know that you do.”

“But I find the rare times with my father to be of greater value.”

“You are very different from Uther, young pup.”

“Perhaps. But he was my father, still.”

“He cared a great deal for his kingdom.”

“I care less about his kingdom.”

“Your kingdom now, Arthur Pendragon.”

“Must we speak of that now? My father is not even yet buried.”

“Would you have your sister face this time alone?”

Arthur sighed. “No, Bors. You know I would never wish that upon her.”

“You are the only family she has left.”

“You are right. I was not thinking of Morgan; I am ashamed.”

“You care deeply for your sister.”

“You of all people know that I do. As you have spoken, she and I are all that remain of our family.”

“You cared for her while you still had your father.”

“Very much so. As you well know, she did not have a … pleasant … experience from her … other family. I still do not know much of what happened to her while she lived among them.”

“Her mother tried to protect her until her passing; when Morgan was very young. After that … you do not want to know what happened, after that.”

“Someday I intend to find out, Bors. I swear they shall know retribution for what harm they have caused my sister. For now … all I can do is show her kindness in her new home – as I have sought to do for the past three years.”

“And as such, she has always been fond of you. Indeed, you are the only one she would speak to for the first year.”

“Yes, it was during that first year that she refused to sleep anywhere except upon the floor near my bed.”

“I remember it took us another year to wean her away from your floor to the bed in her own room, even though it was next to your room.”

Arthur chuckled. “You were not so successful, Bors. She sleeps in my room, still.”

“What!?”

“Not always, but more often than not, I shall see her on the floor near my bed. By morning, she is always gone. She does not think I know, and I have never spoken of it to her.”

“You have a good heart, young pup. I have always believed such. It is truth that you care not for your father’s kingdom. Rather you care more for the people within the kingdom.”

“Such flattery shall not gain you access to our kitchen’s pantry, Sir Bors. We must draw the line, somewhere.”

“You wound me deeply, Your Majesty.”

“Do not even consider calling me such a thing! I shall have you removed from the supper table this very night!”

“And who would you have attempt to do such a dangerous thing … as prevent me from my meal?”

Arthur grinned. “I shall, of course!”

Bors shot out a hand and grabbed Arthur by the ear.

“OUCH! UNHAND YOUR KING!”

“Nay. Not unless my King withdraws his portentous threat.”

“I shall not! Even upon loss of ear!”

Bors smiled and let go. “I am sorry, young pup; but in the presence of other rulers, kings and dignitaries, I shall henceforth be referring to you as protocol demands.”

“Protocol be damned; my name is Arthur.”

“Speak such words again and I shall most certainly turn you over my knee!”

“You have not turned me over your knee since I was four years of age! What makes you think you could catch me now, old Knight?”

“Nevertheless, young pup, upon arrival at your father’s grave, I shall indeed address you as befitting a king.”

Arthur sighed.

“I am sorry this has befallen you at this time; you are now but of fifteen years of age.”

“Bors?”

“Yes?”

Suddenly with tears in his eyes, Arthur threw his arms around the giant man. “Thank you, Bors.”

Bors nodded and patted Arthur’s head, trying to hold back a tear of his own.

“You have been as a father to me.”

“No, young pup! Do not speak of this! You are a Pendragon. Constantine was your Grandsire! Red and black are your colors. You are of royal blood; you must never consider otherwise.”

“Have I ever spoken of my dislike of your lectures, Bors?”

“Not since this morning, you have not.”

Arthur finally let go and stepped back. “Thanks, Bors. I just needed … you know.”

“More than you know, young pup. More than you know.”

“Bors, do you believe the rumors that my father was poisoned?”

“I have already told you many times; they are only rumors.”

“Have you learned if the rumors are true?”

“They may be true or they may not; no one knows this for certain.”

“Will there be many rulers, kings and dignitaries this day? Or a few?”

“Many, I am afraid.”

“Must I give a voice?”

“They shall understand of your grief. You are not expected to speak.”

“That is good; I could not bear it.”

“I am afraid, however; that others shall be expected to speak.”

“Awww … more speeches again!?”

“It is tragic, indeed.”

“Do they not realize no one hears them!?”

“No, I do not believe that they do.”

“Perhaps Morgan does not have to go. Then we may both stay and…”

“In truth she does not desire attendance, as well.”

“Of course not; her other family shall be in attendance.”

“Yes, I am afraid so.”

“Poor Morgan. She is still most terrified of them.”

“Then I suggest you keep her close by and not let her from your sight.”

“I intend to do no less. But must we really attend?”

“Yes, brother. We must attend.”

“MORGAN! I did not see you standing there!”

“Am I … intruding, brother?”

Arthur smiled at his younger half-sister. Though she was almost fourteen years of age … the age which was considered appropriate for childbearing … she was smaller and looked more like an eight-year-old child – due to many years of malnutrition and unspeakable abuse. Like Arthur, she had brown hair; although hers was longer, darker and more curly. She wore a simple and unadorned, mousy-brown dress, and standing in the doorway with her very pale skin, she appeared timid and frail.

“Of course not, sister! You are never intruding!”

“Oh.”

“Morgan, is that what you are going to wear?”

“Is this … not proper?”

“No, it is not that … it is just…” Arthur sighed. “Morgan, what am I going to do with you? You are much prettier than this!”

“I am not … pretty.”

“Yes, you are Morgan. And do not argue with me or you shall discover another lizard in your bed this night.”

Morgan smiled at him. “You see? I knew it was you!”

“I admit no such thing.”

“Have you nothing better to do than torment your half-sister?”

“Morgan, I have told you to stop calling yourself that. You are my sister; not my half-sister.”

“We share the same mother, no more.”

“We share the same mother, that is enough. Under this roof, there are no halves; only wholes. You are my sister; never forget this.” Then Arthur grinned. “Or else you shall regret it. Perhaps a salamander this time…”

Morgan laughed. “I shall try to remember, brother.”

“I like hearing you laugh. I do not hear it often enough.”

“I have known … little of such things.”

“Three years have you been with us. Surely you have known of such things in that time?”

“Yes, brother.” Morgan smiled. “I have known of such things in that time.”

“Well, then … you see? I shall hear no more of your reasons to not hear you laugh or see you smile. That …” Arthur looked over at Bors and grinned. “…shall be my very first commandment as king.”

Morgan grinned. “Thank you … Your Majesty.”

“Oh, no, no, no! Do not dare speak this to me! You may call me Arthur. Or brother. Or handsome. Those titles alone are acceptable.”

“Thank you … brother.”

“Ahh … so not handsome?”

Morgan giggled.

“Bors, when must we leave?” Arthur asked.

“Very soon.”

“Do we have time to find my sister a prettier dress?”

“Of course.”

“Why do you not approve of my dress, brother?”

“You are nearly fourteen years of age, sister. Soon you shall be the envy of all the men in Camelot.”

“Arthur, do not tease me so; it is not appreciated.”

“I am serious, Morgan. You are very pretty.”

“I am not and you know it.”

“You are and I know it.”

“You are most stubborn, brother.”

“That I am.”

“And you are blind.”

“Already my blind eyes have seen the eyes of two Knights looking upon you favorably, dear sister.”

Morgan gasped. “You have seen no such thing!”

“I would never lie to you, Morgan.”

“I do not believe you.”

“Believe me or not, I speak the truth.”

“I care not for such things.”

“Morgan…”

“Speak no further of this to me.”

“Morgan … not all men are … bad.”

“Please, Arthur; do not. It is not appreciated. Or wanted.”

Arthur sighed, and thought to himself for a moment. Then he took Morgan’s hand and kissed her on the forehead. “Someday, sister; you shall see I speak the truth.”

“The dress I wear is adequate, Arthur. I do not wish to wear something … pretty.”

“Very well. May I at least … stand beside you? At the funeral?”

“Thank you, brother. I would welcome this.”

Chapter 2

Gurgle. Gurgle.

“Was that your stomach!?” whispered Morgan.

“Sorry. I did not eat before we came.”

“I should scold you, but I grow hungry as well.”

“You!? Grow hungry!? I did not think you ate at all!”

“I did not think you ceased to eat, brother.”

“No, that is Bors you speak of.”

“Ahem.”

“I am sorry, Bors; I did not mean for you to hear that.”

“I am standing right behind you.”

“I know that.” Arthur snickered.

“How can you speak thus at such a time as this?” said Morgan.

“My father’s rites were held four hours ago. We are long past ‘such a time as this’. And these speeches are becoming … most tiresome. I wish it were over.”

“I am sorry for the loss of your father.”

“Thank you, Morgan.”

“I saw you weep for your father. I … had not expected this.”

“He was my father.”

“You … were not close to your father. So you have spoken.”

“It was not my choice to have remained such.”

“Most men would have despised their fathers for … for the things he has done.”

“I am not proud of everything my father has done. But he was still my father. In his own way, I think he was a good man. And a good king.”

“You are a most unusual man, Arthur Pendragon.”

“Of that there is no doubt.” whispered Bors.

Morgan grinned. “I do not think that was intended well, brother.”

“I heard nothing but hot air, sister. Of what are you referring to?”

Morgan giggled.

“Sssssh!” exclaimed a noblewoman a short distance away behind them.

Arthur glared at her. “Do not think to silence my sister!” he growled at her.

The noblewoman’s eyes suddenly widened in fear. “Forgive me, Your Majesty! I did not know it was you!”

“Yes, I am your new king. Do not forget who my sister Morgan is again. Is this clear?”

“Yes, Your Majesty! Of course, Your Majesty!”

“Very well. You are forgiven. Let it not happen, again.”

“No, Your Majesty! Never again!”

Arthur turned and scowled at the new diplomat who had just come up to begin his dialogue about the greatness of King Uther. “It is not that I disagree with the respect they offer my father. But their true motives is to draw attention to themselves. This is most … detestable. I do not wish to remain here much longer.”

Then Arthur looked at Morgan, who was looking at him with wide eyes. “What? What did I say?”

“I … I … nothing.”

“Morgan, what is it? Does something trouble you?”

“I … I have never before had someone … speak on my behalf … as you have just done.”

“Huh? Oh. That. Well…” Then Arthur noticed that she was looking at him adoringly. “Listen, Morgan. I do not know of all the things which happened to you before you came to us. But know this – you are my sister. And no one … shall ever … hurt you again. Do you understand?”

Morgan nodded.

“Except … maybe Bors.”

Morgan’s eyes widened even further.

“You are so skinny! It is a wonder he has not mistaken you for something to pick his teeth with!”

“What!?”

Bors started snickering.

“Arthur?”

“What?”

Morgan leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “I think you shall make a good king.”

“A king with a sister of skin and bones.”

Morgan smiled at him. “Sometimes…”

“Sometimes … what?”

“Sometimes I wish…”

“You wish what?”

Morgan blushed. “Nothing. It is unimportant.”

Arthur’s raised his eyebrow.

“Do you think they shall be done, soon?” Morgan said, quickly looking away towards the current speaker.

“So you admit I am handsome, after all.”

“I have said no such thing!”

“Morgan?”

“What?”

“I would have you know that I have sometimes wished the same of you.”

“What!?”

“I speak the truth.”

“Really!?”

Arthur smiled at her. “Yes. Really.”

Morgan smiled back at him. “Thank you, brother. You have brought me … much joy, on this day of sorrows.”

*** *** ***

Knock. Knock.

“Who is there?”

“Morgan? It is Arthur.”

Morgan ran over to open the door to her private apartment. “Brother! I am so
pleased to see you!”

“I have more bad news, I am afraid.”

“Of what do you speak?”

“It has only been two days since we have survived the long speeches of my father’s funeral.”

Morgan smiled. “Was it so bad?”

“Being with my favorite sister was not so bad.”

Morgan giggled. “What is this bad news you speak of?”

“Tomorrow there is to be an official proclamation of the new king.”

“Yes, I have heard.”

“There shall be more speeches.”

“This is troubling news, indeed, brother.”

“Will you be attending the proclamation?”

“This would depend. Who is to be this new king?”

“You make another joke! This is a good thing.”

“I look forward to the proclamation of our new king, brother.”

“Would you sit beside me?”

“WHAT!? ME!?”

“You are my only family. I would have my sister at my side.”

“I … I … I … I am sorry, Arthur. I cannot.”

“But why!?”

“I would be most honored to be at your side. But … it would not be right for me to be seen with you at your proclamation.”

“Why not!?”

“You know my family opposes you as heir.”

“Yes, I know of this. They have never been … favorable of my father.”

“I know not, if the things they have spoken of your father are true.” said Morgan. “But from what I know of Uther’s son … I must now believe the things spoken have been false.”

“Thank you, Morgan. Our mother … Igraine … do you know of her thoughts regarding my father?”

“I do not. I was very young when she had passed; I know little of her.”

“I know little of her as well.”

“Arthur, I do not know what is truth and what is false … concerning your father and our mother.”

“Nor do I, Morgan.”

“My family believes the worst.”

“They believe my father had a child with our mother.” said Arthur. “That it was … against her will.”

“Yes.”

“Morgan, I cannot believe my father would ever do something so evil as to commit rape. He was not an evil man.”

Morgan looked into Arthur’s eyes for a long time. “I … I believe you, Arthur. Then it must be false.”

“Morgan? Is your family … the type of people who would … lie about such a thing? To deceive with such a story of the High King?”

Morgan turned away from Arthur.

“I am sorry, Morgan. Please forgive me. That was wrong of me to ask.”

“No, Arthur. You have done no wrong thing. You speak truly. My family … they would indeed do such a thing. They have done things worse than lie.”

“I know they hurt you, Morgan.”

“Yes. They … hurt me.”

“I am deeply sorry they hurt you, sister.”

As Morgan turned back around and looked at Arthur, there were tears streaming down her face.

“Morgan! What is wrong!?”

“Oh, Arthur. They have done most terrible things.”

Arthur rushed over to hold her in his arms. “Morgan! What have they done!?”

“My father … my brothers … I think they are the ones who killed our mother.”

“NO!”

“And they hurt me. They hurt me a lot.”

“Morgan!”

“I am … so ashamed, Arthur.”

And for a very long time, a weeping brother held his weeping sister in his arms.

*** *** ***

“I think I shall require a new tunic. There seems to be no dry places remaining.”

“I am sorry, brother. I have never before spoken of this to another.”

“I cannot believe you have been alone with these things all of these years. I am glad you have finally spoken these things to me.”

“Now you understand why I cannot be seen with you.”

“No, Morgan. I still do not understand. You are safe, now. No one can hurt you again.”

“I do not have concern for myself. It is you I have worry for. There is a great evil in our house. I know this to be true. The evil has been there for much time. And I believe it seeks your destruction. If they see me with you, I know it shall be much worse for you.”

“One father and four brothers? I think Bors alone can stand against that many.”

“But not against the evil behind them.”

“Morgan, I do not fear evil.”

“You SHOULD fear evil, brother.”

“No, Morgan. I should not. Nor should you. Not any longer.”

“Now you speak foolishness. You know nothing of what I speak.”

“No, Morgan. I do not pretend to know what you have been through. Nor do I expect you to pretend that it had never happened. But … you do not need to fear the evil. It is a snare – a trap – a lie; something of shadow, not of truth.”

“What do you know of shadow?”

“I know … something of shadow. I have fought shadow before. But I do not fear it. I know that shadow is nothing more than a lie. It is the truth, that sets us free.”

“I … I want to believe you, Arthur.”

“Morgan … I know you have never before had reason to trust another. Especially … men. But you have now lived in my home for three years; are we not men? You know me, sister. You know my heart, just as I know yours.”

“I … I think I do.”

“I am asking you to trust me, sister.”

“I … I do not know if I can.”

“You know my heart, Morgan.”

“I … I know your heart. Yes. I do. I know your heart.”

“Because you know my heart, Morgan … you can trust me.”

“I … I …”

“Morgan, place your head on my chest. And listen to my heartbeat.”

“I … I …”

“Please, sister?”

“Okay. I will.”

“Do you hear it? Do you hear my heartbeat?”

“Yes.”

“That is the sound of someone who loves you, Morgan. That is the sound of someone you can trust.”

Chapter 3

Yawn.

“Brother?”

“Yes?”

“Did you not just yawn?”

“Yes.”

“At your own proclamation?”

“They are not proclaiming anything. Just more … speeches.”

“They have been saying many nice things about you.”

“Then I am glad at least someone is listening.”

“You do not care to hear the things they say about you?”

“Morgan? You know me by now. Do you really think me to care?”

Morgan smiled. “Yes. I know you. I am glad I know you.”

“And I am glad that I know you. Now that makes us both glad.”

“You are funny.”

“You think so?”

“I think … you shall make a great king.”

“I do not know about that.”

“I do.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“Because … I trust you.”

“Really!?”

“Yes, Arthur. I have been thinking. I do trust you.”

“Well that is cause for celebration!”

“Do not be so quick to celebrate.”

“Oh? Why not?”

“My family is here. And they are not to be trusted.”

“Yes, I have noticed your father looking at me. He seems to be having slightly less admiration for me than your brothers.”

“You should not make jest of such things.”

“I am not going to fear them, Morgan.”

“So you say. But you should remain wary. They do not believe you to be a true heir to the throne.”

“I have spoken to Bors.”

“He is but one man.”

“Look up there, Morgan.”

“Up where?”

“The ramparts atop the castle. What do you see?”

“I see … I see … are those … archers!?”

“Twenty four archers. If you were close to them, you would also see they have trained their eyes upon the crowd. More specifically … a certain father and four brothers. As I have said … I have spoken to Bors. There is nothing to fear.”

“I … I …”

“Do you feel better, now?”

“I think so. Yes.”

“But … they still make you nervous.”

“Yes.”

“I can understand that.”

“Arthur?”

“Yes?”

“I … I love you.”

“You do?”

“I am sorry if I misspoken.”

“Oh, no! Not at all! I love you, too, Morgan! I just … do you mean … you love me … as in … a sister loves a brother? Or … a different kind of love?”

“Different.”

“Oh.”

“I do not know how a sister loves a brother. I have never known such a thing.”

“Oh.”

“I have not known the love of a father or a brother.”

“I know, Morgan.”

“Although … I think I have once known the love of a friend.”

“Really? Who was this friend?”

“It was many years ago, when I was seven years of age. My family came to the Marketplace and I was tied to a tree outside, as they had always done.”

“They did not allow you into the Marketplace?”

“No, it was not for me to enter.”

“What happened next?”

“She came up to me and offered me greeting.”

“Was that … unusual? For someone to offer you greeting?”

“Yes. As I was not permitted to bathe, others stayed away.”

“WHAT!?”

“But unlike the others, there was one girl who did not seem to mind. She came and offered me greeting, anyway.”

Arthur was speechless and could only nod.

“I offered her greeting in return. Then she smiled at me. And then she did something most unexpected.”

“What?” Arthur whispered.

“She gave me this.” Morgan reached into her pocket and pulled out a small, wooden carving of a dove.

“That … was a very nice gesture.”

“It was most wondrous, brother! I have always treasured it! Always! And I keep it with me always!”

“What … happened after she gave it to you?”

“She smiled at me, again. And then she left.”

“Oh.”

“This is why I say that I think I have once known the love of a friend.”

Arthur’s heart was breaking.

“I think this is the love I have for you, brother. But I am unsure.”

“Oh. So … did you ever see this friend again?”

“Oh, yes! I have seen her many times!”

“You have!? Well good for you!”

“We have not offered greeting, of course.”

“Oh.”

“I have never been close enough to offer greeting.”

“Ever?”

“But I do hope to someday speak with her once again! Truly I do!”

“Well … I am king. I am sure I could arrange it.”

“Thank you brother, but I would not wish to do so for such reasons.”

“Why not?”

“She would only be speaking to me because the king has requested it. It … it would not be the same.”

“Oh. Well … perhaps if we see her again … you could approach her and offer her greeting. On your own.”

“No. I could not.”

“Why not?”

“She is of noble birth. It is not for me.”

“Morgan … you are the sister of the king. I think it would be okay to offer her greeting.”

“I am not of noble birth! Our mother was never accepted as such! She was thought of … because of Uther…”

“I know, Morgan. I know very well what they thought of her. But … I am not sure I approve of these rules of caste. I may be seeking to abolish such things.”

“What!? You cannot do such a thing!”

“I am king. I may do as I please.”

“This would not be a good thing.”

“Why not? I believe it to be wrong.”

“You do not know the people. You would not understand.”

“What do you mean I do not know the people? What would I not understand?”

“I cannot explain. You would need to…”

“I would need to … what?”

“If you could … somehow … see as one of us … or become one of us … and spend a time as one of us … then you would understand of what I speak.”

“Morgan!”

“Have I misspoken, brother?”

“That is most WONDERFUL counsel!”

“I have not counseled anything!”

“Yes you have! If I could become one of them … and spend a day with them! That is most wise counsel, indeed!”

“I … I do not understand.”

“At my first opportunity. You and I … we shall become as they are!”

“I … I still do not understand.”

“We shall spend a day with them! But they shall not know who we are. We shall become one of them!”

Morgan’s eyes widened in astonishment. “You are … mad!”

“Yes I am.” Arthur grinned. “And the first place we shall go … is to meet your friend.”

“But…”

“Have no fear, sister. They shall not know who I am. You say your friend is a noble? Then we shall dress as nobles, and pay them a visit.”

“You are indeed mad! I cannot!”

“Of course I am! And yes you can!”

“I do not think Bors would ever approve of this.”

“Of course not!”

“You would not speak of this to him?”

“Of course!”

“Truly!?”

“If I am to take my sister with me, I would that she remain safe. Yes, Bors shall indeed know.”

“But he shall not approve.”

“This shall be fun!”

“This shall be trouble.”

“Yes indeed!”

“You are indeed mad, brother. Truly, you are.”

“So … how would we find this friend of yours?”

“She shall not remember me.”

“Of course she shall remember you. She has given you that dove in your hand, has she not?”

“It was long ago. She shall not remember me.”

“I am sure that she shall.”

“You are wrong.”

“We shall see about that. All we must do is find her. A noble house, you say?”

“Oh, she is easy to find; that would not be a problem.”

“Really? Why is that?”

“She is here this day. For your proclamation.”

“What!? Your friend!? Is here!? Now!?”

“Yes. She sits over there, among the seated nobles.”

“Where is she? What does she look like?”

“Do you see that tall man over there with the long white hair?”

“Uh … the man with the brown cloak?”

“Yes. She is seated next to him.”

“I cannot see her.”

“She is speaking to someone else … she shall turn in a moment…”

“Is that her? With the very long hair? Wait … is her hair … blue!?”

“Yes, that is her. Her hair is black but it sometimes appears to be blue in the sun.”

“That is … that is most … unusual. I have never before seen such color of hair.”

“She is very pretty.”

“I cannot see her face. But I am sure she is not as pretty as you.”

Morgan smiled. “My brother is truly blind.”

“Oh there she is. She just turned around. She is … she is … she is…”

“Brother?”

“She … looked … at … me … for … just … a … moment…”

“Brother?”

“She is … most … most … most … unique … in appearance. Is she not?”


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