Woo! I am back! Thank you for everyone who reached out and apologies for the long wait 😊 I have a fun new job, my cats are happy, my hobby-turned-side-project is taking off nicely and it’s almost Autumn! life is good 🥰
Also, for those who aren’t keeping track of the forums, I’ve had some remodeling fun in the castle during my hiatus. If places don’t look quite the same anymore, it’s because the whole place has undergone a ridiculously large Home Makeover. Agravaine even has a proper bedroom now! Yay!
Guinevere sighed, quietly making her way through the gilded halls of the castle. She wasn’t used to walking through without her uniform. It felt oddly inappropriate, like she was doing something wrong. The girl tried to avoid eye contact with the many servants as she went. Guinevere half-expected them to call her over and burden her with some tedious chore that they were “too busy” to do themselves.
They’d had a habit of doing that. Offloading work on her whenever they got the chance. They’d made her sweep the halls, fold the leftover laundry, polish the banquet hall, dust the armour suits and clean the many guest chambers in the castle, along with a myriad of other chores that, technically, Guinevere was not responsible for to begin with. But for some reason, they’d always ended up on her plate anyway.
Sarah said that it was because Guinevere was “an easy target”. The girl still didn’t really know what she’d meant by that. Her mentor had offered to scold and punish the ones that saddled her with work that didn’t belong to her. But Guinevere had refused, saying that she didn’t mind the extra work. That she was glad to be helpful.
That was a lie. Guinevere had finally realised that, too. It had been an illusion weaved from the very start, spun by her own mind trying to justify its behaviour. Guinevere hadn’t wanted to feel helpful. Not really. She’d wanted to feel needed.
She just hadn’t been able to say no.
Only now did Guinevere realise just how much she’d been lying to herself.
But not anymore. She was finally, finally ready to change.
And the second “no” of the day had come much easier than the first… but had also hurt much more.
Guinevere let out another sigh. The girl glanced back over her shoulder, towards the door that she’d just left through. The door to the Crown Prince’s chambers. Their conversation still lay fresh in her mind. Working up the courage to talk to Morgana this morning had been incredibly difficult. Doing the same with Arthur had been just as hard… but also much more painful.
She still liked him. Despite everything. Part of her didn’t want to let go.
“I- I don’t understand. Did someone threaten you? Did they tell you to do this?”
“No… this is my own d-decision-“
“But why?” Arthur had replied, refusing to accept her words. “I thought that things were going well, I- Guinevere, did I say something wrong? Did I offend you somehow? Please, at least give me an explanation—”
She had. She’d given him the exact same explanation that she’d given to Morgana, sharing her wish for freedom with Arthur. She’d talked about the pressure and restraints that were piled onto her at the castle. About her struggle to cope. About her decision to become something more… and about the ties that Guinevere had to cut to be able to do it, to really be able to change.
Arthur’s attentions towards her were one of those ties. No matter how she chose to look at it. No matter how painful that realisation was. And so… she wanted to cut it.
She wanted to stop. For her own sake.
She wanted to be free.
But, just like her conversation with Morgana…
Guinevere’s decision had not been received well. And Arthur had not been as quick to let go as his sister had been.
“No. You can’t- you don’t have to change,” he’d protested. “Not that much. Guinevere, I’m truly sorry that my affections brought you so much pain, but you don’t… if you’re unhappy in the castle, we can change that. I can change that for you. I’m the Crown Prince. I could give you any life you want. I just need time.”
But at that point, he’d no longer been listening. Guinevere could still see the pain and desperation in his eyes are he tried to hold on.
“You don’t need to leave,” he’d pleaded. “Please – don’t do this to me, Guinevere. I’m sure that we can work something out that will make you happy if you just give me enough time, and-”
“You promised. Back in the tower. You promised me that I could s-say no.”
“Please keep that promise.”
“Is that… really what you want?”
More than anything… Arthur Pendragon was a man of his word.
The Crown Prince had proven that to her today.
“I hope… I hope you find what you’re looking for.”
He’d let her go.
Guinevere was free.
As the girl passed by one of the windows, glancing at the beautiful, blue skies that stretched out towards the horizon, she could hear a familiar voice in her head. A comforting presence, observing her every action. Weighing in on her every move.
She finally knew what it was.
He is a good man.
“He is,” Guinevere muttered softly, trailing a passing bird with her eyes as it flew by the window. The encounter with Arthur was still fresh in her mind. She could still smell the scent of honey pie on the table. She could still hear the low crackle of the fire, the sound of Arthur’s boots against the wooden floor as he stepped back in surprise. She could still see the pain in his eyes. Even though he’d set her free, he hadn’t taken it well. She knew that, too. Guinevere had tried her hardest not to look back at him as she’d left his chambers. But she couldn’t stop herself.
And the sight filled her with guilt.
She didn’t want to hurt him. Not Arthur, and not Morgana. Guinevere didn’t want to hurt anyone. But after that night in the forest, that group had finally extended to include herself. And that changed more things than she’d realised.
She had to choose. Arthur’s happiness, or her own.
For the first time in years… she’d chosen her own.
Child. What will you do now?
A tiny smile crept up on Guinevere’s lips. She let out a chuckle. When the girl answered, her words came straight from the heart.
“Honestly? I have no idea, Ifri.”
But that was all right. Guinevere didn’t have to figure it out immediately. She didn’t need to have all the answers. Guinevere had enough money saved up from her years of working as a maidservant to support herself for quite a while. She had time. She would figure it out eventually.
It would be all right.
As she reached the main hall, Guinevere glanced down at the servant that was cleaning the staircase. She almost immediately wished that she hadn’t. The foul, almost spiteful look that the dark-haired woman threw back at her cut through Guinevere’s chest like a knife. That exact same glare was repeated on the face of the footman, with the exact same effect.
Guinevere knew why they were looking at her like that. She wasn’t supposed to be there. She’d taken the main stairs, a passage that servants were not supposed to use. Unless they were assigned otherwise, they were supposed to stick to the shadows and move through the servant’s hallways. Always. Anything else was not their place.
And Guinevere had broken that taboo without even thinking about it. She’d been so occupied by her conversation with Arthur that she’d walked into the middle of the hallway without a second thought. Guinevere could feel her cheeks start burning with embarrassment at her mistake.
She couldn’t help it. Instinct took over. Her mind automatically fell back into what it knew, reinforced by months and months of repetition. The girl quickly, instinctively, shied away from the middle of the room and moved towards the walls. Guinevere made herself as small as possible, flustered and her cheeks burning with embarrassment as she headed for the servant’s exit…
Child. You left it behind.
It took her a moment to regain herself. But Ifri was right. Guinevere slowly exhaled, lowering her shoulders as she looked back at the servants. She was right. She’d left that life behind. Guinevere had parted with it of her own free will. Why would she have to shrink away? She wasn’t a servant anymore. She wouldn’t have to worry about their stares.
She wouldn’t have to worry about any of it.
Guinevere didn’t have to cling to the corners of the castle anymore. She wouldn’t have to minimise herself and stay in the shadows. Not anymore. The girl wouldn’t need to jump to attention every time a nobleman looked her way, deciding to boss her around and cutting into her free time just because they wanted to show off their status.
She wouldn’t have to do any of the tasks that the other servants unloaded on her. Guinevere didn’t need to bite her tongue and fall silent every time something happened that she did not agree with.
She didn’t have to act like furniture anymore. She didn’t have to wait in a corner, quiet and invisible until she was useful.
She didn’t have to do any of it.
She didn’t have to go through that door at all.
Guinevere was free.
“Who do you want to be?”
It had taken Monoroe a grand total of twenty-two minutes to bring Tyronoe back to her coven.
Only two of those were actually used to find her. The remaining twenty were spent frantically trying to convince the panicked, traumatised, fireball-lobbing witch that Morgana was not, in fact, an angry nobleman that had forced his way into the sanctuary. And soft reassurance was not Monoroe’s strong suit. After the Huntress had finally brought Tyronoe back, Morgana had apologised profusely to both of them.
She would not pull that trick again.
All that was left after that, was for the six of them to wait for the sun to set.
They didn’t have to wait for long. Nightfall came swiftly. It was accompanied by a beautiful, cloudless sky, showing a brilliant tapestry of stars that stretched out as far as the eye could see. And as the sun set, the world around them slowly began to change. It wasn’t a change that was visible to the naked eye. But anyone with magick in their blood could feel it. The slow, steady gathering of spirit all around them. The air became vibrant, alive with a vigour and energy that was almost tangible.
Those who practiced magick knew that, for this night, that same spirit stretched out all across the world.
“Well? Are you coming?”
Morgana was frozen. She opened her mouth to reply, but no words would come out. Baffled and dumbstruck, the budding witch stared out at the scenery before her.
She was standing at the edge of a clearing. A forest glade, hidden away in the deepest parts of the woods.
But it was no forest glade like Morgana had ever seen before. The entrance was flanked by four massive limestone pillars, carved and painted with strange runes. The stone glowed softly in the overhead moonlight. Morgana could feel the power emanating from the pillars and the glade that lay beyond them. It was almost magnetic. She felt herself being pulled towards it, drawn to it like a moth to a flame.
In the distance, Morgana could see the orange glow of dozens of small bonfires. She could hear the sounds of music. Of cheerful laughter. Of many voices chanting in the dark, joined together as one. Morgana could smell the scent of smoke and ritual herbs drifting on the wind. Along with something else. Something that she couldn’t identify. Something that drew her to the glade in front of her even more strongly.
She’d never seen a place like this before.
At her sister’s baffled expression, Morgause let out an amused chuckle. The witch took a step forward. She folded her hands together, making eye contact as she gave Morgana a calm, reassuring smile.
“It’s all right,” Morgause spoke. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. Not here.”
“Where are we?” Morgana asked, still dumbfounded. The witch’s smile widened in response.
“Northumbria,” she replied. “We are in the deepest part of the forgotten forest, in a place called Sábháel.”
“Yes. It’s a hidden site, forgotten by most of the world around us. It’s a safe haven to everyone that can hear the Goddess. People like us have been meeting here for centuries,” she explained, turning around and gesturing to the many flickering fires behind her. “To those with magick, it is both a refuge and a natural place of power.”
“A… place of power?”
Morgause took another step forward, taking Morgana’s hands in hers as she pulled the girl along with her.
“Come. Let me show you.”
She did. The two passed through the entrance to the glade, hands locked together as they made their way into the clearing. The sounds of laughter and chanting around her immediately became louder. Morgana could smell the scent of ritual herbs drifting past her nose. She could feel the ground vibrate with dancing footsteps, along with something else. Something much more powerful. She could see the pale moon shine down from above. It bathed the glade in an ethereal light that made her surroundings look like something from a dream.
She could see… so many people.
More than she had ever thought possible. More than she had ever dared to hope for. Morgana could see witches of all shapes and sizes, mingling in the glade and celebrating the night together. Talking. Laughing. Resting between hundreds of pale white flowers.
Dancing around the many bonfires and revelling in the music that drifted through the glade, reaching every corner of the clearing.
Morgana had never seen so many covens in one place before. They were gathered in every corner of the clearing. She could see them chanting together, barefoot and reaching towards the star-filled sky. She could feel the power radiating out from them and pouring into the rest of the clearing. The sensation was almost overwhelming.
She wanted to see more.
She wanted to see it all.
And the more she saw, the wider her smile became. Morgana could feel a strange emotion well up from the depths of her chest as Morgause led her through the clearing. It was an emotion that she couldn’t identify. Couldn’t place. But the longer Morgana looked, and the more she saw, the stronger that emotion became.
There was something about this night. About these people, their spirit full of cheer and life and laughter.
Something that Morgana longed for more than anything.
Something that finally…
Felt like home.
They’d reached the heart of the glade. Morgause stopped right in front of her, spinning around as she spread her arms wide in excitement.
“Well? What do you think?”
“It’s… it’s incredible,” Morgana gasped. “There’s so many people. There’s… so many of us.”
The Princess had met other witches before. Both in Camelot and outside of it. She’d seen them burned on the pyre by the dozens, and helped people like Merlin escape the flames. She’d met Emrys’s druid circle and had blissfully joined Morgause’s coven in Scarborough. Morgana knew that other witches existed in Albion. That there were other people like her.
But she hadn’t realised that there were this many. Not in her wildest dreams could she have imagined that there were so many people that were just like her. That shared the same experiences. The same hopes and dreams and fears.
She’d always felt alone.
She never had been.
All this time, there had been so many.
Morgause’s grin widened at the awe-struck expression on her face. The witch let out a chuckle.
“This isn’t even half of it,” she explained. “And we’re only one gathering.”
“There are more?” Morgana asked. Morgause gave her a nod in response.
“So many more. Your people are everywhere, Morgana. Would you like to see?”
“Yes!” she yelled, immediately taking a step forward. By now, Morgana’s mind was buzzing with excitement. She could barely contain herself. The budding witch wanted to see it all. All of her people. She wanted to meet every single one of them. Morgana yearned to swap tales with them and join in on their rituals. She wanted to learn their magick. She longed to dance around the flames with them, laughing and cheering and forgetting the rest of the world until her legs gave out underneath her.
Morgana wanted to experience it all. She wanted to join, to live, to celebrate, to…
The budding witch didn’t understand. She didn’t know at what point her excitement had faded, and had suddenly turned into sorrow. Morgana took a step back. Her eyes widened as she frantically tried to bury the feelings that were clawing at her chest.
“No, wait- I’m not sad, I… I just… I don’t…”
She never got to finish her sentence. As Morgana looked at the glade in front of her, the Princess could feel her mask crack and shatter. Too many emotions suddenly came rushing in at once. She couldn’t keep them down anymore. Morgana felt them hit her mental walls all at the same time – grief, anger, sorrow, overwhelming longing – it was too much for her to process. Too much to even understand. Morgana clasped her hands over her mouth, her nails digging into her skin as the budding witch struggled to stay in control. It took all of her strength to just keep her magick from spilling out.
But she couldn’t do anything else. And there was no stopping the flood of emotions that came rushing in, violently clawing their way to the surface. It was too much at once. She couldn’t process it. Morgana could feel the tears pour down her cheeks as her surroundings began to blur. She folded into herself as her arms started shaking—
Morgause closed the distance between the two of them in an instant. The witch scooped her up into a hug, wrapping her arms around her and pulling her in. Strongly. Forcefully. Like she had no intention of ever letting go.
“It’s all right. I understand.”
Morgana could feel Morgause’s hand on her robes, softly stroking her back and trailing her fingers up and down in comfort.
“You’re not alone, Morgana. Not anymore.”
“You don’t have to do this alone.”
It was more than she could handle. Morgana broke. Her shoulders shook as her sobs grew worse and before she knew it, Morgana was weeping in Morgause’s arms. Her entire body was trembling. She could feel Morgause rocking her back and forth, patting her back as she made soft soothing noises.
It was too similar.
“Shhh. It’s okay. It’s all right.”
It was all too similar… to her mother.
“You’ll never have to be alone again.”
I’ve shared this before, but Morgause and Morgana share a theme song.
This chapter was so large that I had to split it in two. Pictures for the next one are all done and edited. Next one won’t take that long. 🤭
10 thoughts on “3.42 – Walpurgisnacht, Part II”
I am loving that Gwen has boundaries now. Once again I feel very much like Gwen, in that it feels good once you start to assert boundaries, but I wonder if given this is the first taste of power Gwen has really ever had, if it might possibly evolve into something darker. Maybe hyper-independence of some kind.
I can imagine how much it must have hurt with what happened with Arthur, but sometimes you really do have to properly put yourself first… but at the same time, I do feel like it’s already bordering into cutting off people who matter though, and I don’t think this will be an entirely positive move on her part. I do feel awful for him though, it must hurt like hell. Arthur is right in that Gwen doesn’t have to change though.
It took her until the naked fire chat with Lance to realise it, but there are people who love her for who she is. It wasn’t her who needed to change, really, it was the situation she was in that needed to change, and sometimes you can’t always change the situation you’re in. It’s not like she could march up to Uther like ‘ay big man I’m handing in my two week’s notice’ or ‘I’m a bit tired, can I take tomorrow off?’ She’s been reinventing herself to deal with everything that’s happened, she’s changed herself enough.
Ah, I did wonder if maybe the servants would see her quite spitefully, that she’s managed to escape and they haven’t. At first you might think ‘Well they should be happy for her!’ but I know it’s often not the first thought that comes to mind when someone else has escaped from something you’re still stuck in.
Sábháel looks so pretty < 3 It really seems like Morgana is right at home. This whole scene is everything I felt the first time I went to Pride, honestly (before worsening social anxiety prevented me going again LMAO) Knowing there are other people like you, and having at least one temporary place to be your true self without fear really is a beautiful thing. Though (as a side thought) it's still lingering in the back of my mind of whether her discovering her true power is really a good thing. I would say now that it is, even if it is something that may be initially out of her control. Can't learn to curb a great power and not misuse it if she's never been given time to figure out exactly what it is.
Welp, there goes the classic Morgana mask, but that's not a bad thing. Let it all out. It's so good to see her at home, but at some point she'll have to go back into the normal world of witch-burnings and hatred and it's going to hit her like a ton of bricks. But at least she has this moment to teach her her true worth, and that she is never alone.
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WORDPRESS STOP TURNING MY PARAGRAPHS INTO TEXT WALLS!
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Haha, seems like it pasted it in here properly, nicely separated and all!
Once you first have a taste of something, it’s very easy to overdo it, or get hyperfocused, or go too far. Let’s hope that Guinevere knows to stop herself before she cuts off everything and everyone. There is such a thing as burning too many bridges, after all. If you burn them all, you’ll end on a lone island cut off from everyone else.
Oh my. I’m trying to imagine anyone walking up to Uther like that and, nope, is not going to happen 😂 often what needs to change are the circumstances and not the behaviour, but it’s also the circumstances that are most out of our control.
Aw, I know that feeling. I never quite felt at home for most of my life, and finding people just like me for the first time was such a storm of emotions. Both good and bad. I know the feeling well of wanting to respond positively and turning into a crying, blubbering mess instead 😅 true, it’s impossible to misuse power you don’t know how to control, but it’s also impossible to use it wisely.
At the risk of getting it stuck in our heads: let it out, let it goooooo…. It’s easy to forget that we’re never really alone. Not unless we actively choose that ourselves. But connecting to other people, no matter who they are, just requires reaching out. I hope I can bring that across properly in the next one.
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Guinevere saying goodbye to Arthur requires respect. It would be so much easier for her to just disappear. Less painful.
I love the last picture where she walks out of the open gates. It is a very symbolic image. Outside, a blue sky promises a hopeful future.
The pictures of Morgana in the forest are really beautiful. Very mythical.
Both Morgana and Guinevere undergo a great mental development. Finding their way to their innermost core.
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Oof, less painful for the person disappearing, but way worse for the one you’re walking out on. But then I suppose the easy way always is. I really like that open door picture, too 😊 I’ve rolled for everything she does from this point on to the end of the arc. There were some very interesting results.
You have a way of putting my story into words that is so incredibly spot-on and accurate, also for the future. You word magician, you ✨ Here you do it again. You’ll see what I mean real soon. 🤭
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It looks like things are going well (at least momentarily) for both Guinevere and Morgana. I hope it remains that way for a bit longer and that they’re able to maintain their strength and sense of themselves. I worry more for Guinevere than Morgana at the moment. It’s hard to say why, though. I wish that being a servant and doing a good job at that for Guinevere (staying quiet and out of the way) wasn’t so tied to her minimizing herself as a person and letting herself get run over by others’ will.
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Oh, hey! Yup, Guinevere and Morgana’s lives are looking up for a change. It’s not all doom and gloom all the time, luckily. They’ve both found their peace and are both exploring where their new paths will take them. I can understand being more worried for Guin than for Morgana, yes. Morgana was already strong-willed and stubborn before this, but Guinevere has only just started to come out of her shell. The chances that she’s pushed back into it at this point are much higher than with Morgana.
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MY HEART!!!! First of all: GET IT, GUIN!!!! You deserve to be free, to not hide in the shadows or cower. I feel like it was such a huge breakthrough for her to be like: oh, I don’t actually want to be helpful; I just don’t want to be alone.
And honestly, every time I think of her trying to explain to Morgana that she doesn’t want to be a servant or Arthur that she doesn’t want to be his side-piece locked away, I just imagine them both looking at her like that dang Pikachu meme.
Like Arthur, bro, you’re clearly only saying those things because you are desperate for her not to leave. If you really wanted to make her happier, you would have done so already.
I loved, loved, loved the last part of this. I felt all the warmth and joy and happiness, and it was so bittersweet. Like, they have this moment, but it’s only in hiding. And when Morganeuse said she isn’t alone:
What are you doing to my heart?
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Some harsh words for Arthur there, but they are well-deserved. He’s trying, he really is, but there’s still a layer of selfishness to his plans, and they’re definitely not to her benefit. LOL I’m imagining them both as that pikachu meme now too 🤣 fits perfectly, ha.
Yimi Inc. is not responsible for any saccharine heartburn, grieving pain or feelings of soul-crushing despair while reading. Thank you for choosing Tales of Camelot! 😗
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