3.47 – The Witch Hunter, Part I

“If I’m a baker, what would you be?” 

Arthur’s steady stream of civil petitioners, scheduled to pour in for the entire remainder of the day, was interrupted by the arrival of his uncle.  

“Who is this?” Uther asked, leaning back in his chair as he glared at the woman that Agravaine had brought with him. Arthur didn’t know much more than his father did. She didn’t look like a servant. He’d never seen her in the castle before. The woman’s clothes and body language instantly gave away that she wasn’t a noble, either. It had to be one of the townsfolk. Arthur watched as the woman fell into a clumsy, ill-practiced formal bow. 

“This is Maltilda Copperbottom, Your Majesty,” Agravaine explained, introducing the young woman to them. “Matilda is one of our loyal Jacoban followers. She came to me yesterday after mass with a piece of news that I believe you should both hear.” 
Agravaine took a moment, carefully adjusting his Jacoban robes as he paused for dramatic effect. Then, the Royal Adviser continued. 
“Last night, Matilda Copperbottom bore witness to the crime of sorcery.” 

Oh, no. Not again.  

At his uncle’s words, Uther’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.  

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Agravaine continued. Arthur could feel an uncomfortable knot form in the pit of his stomach as his uncle took a step forward. The Crown Prince already did not like where this was going. He’d crossed blades with Agravaine over his treatment of the townspeople once already. But this time, his uncle had announced it right in front of Uther, making it impossible for Arthur to keep the Iron King out of it.  

He knew how his father felt about magic.  
This would not end well. 

“Normally, I would deal with such a report myself,” Agravaine continued, glancing at Arthur. “The laws of Camelot are quite clear. But after the events of last Autumn, the Crown Prince has claimed responsibility for every investigation that has to do with sorcery. I am simply following his wise guidance.” 

Arthur hadn’t told his father about that yet, either. The Crown Prince gulped.  


Arthur could feel the eyes of the Iron King pierce into his back from behind him. He knew exactly what Agravaine was trying to do. His uncle had called him out in the throne room on purpose. The Royal Adviser was challenging him, questioning his actions in front of the King. Arthur knew that he wasn’t happy with Arthur taking part of his job. He knew that taking control away from Agravaine was not unlike poking a hornet’s nest.  Sooner or later, the Crown Prince come to regret it. 

It seemed like, this time, it would turn out to be sooner.  

Arthur cast a glance over his shoulder, bracing himself for the rage-filled reaction that was sure to come next. 
“Is that true, Arthur?” Uther asked, catching his son’s gaze with narrowed eyes. “Did you claim these duties from Agravaine?” 

“I- yes, but father, I can explain—” 

As Arthur scrambled to come up with an explanation that his father would be happy with, the Crown Prince could suddenly see the anger in Uther’s expression fade away. The piercing pressure vanished. Instead, Arthur watched as the Iron King broke into a smile. 
“Good. I’m proud.” 
Arthur blinked. 
“You’re… proud?” the Crown Prince asked, hesitant. Arthur was unsure if he’d heard his father right, or if he was suddenly turning delusional. But Uther nodded at him again.  
“Of course,” he spoke. “Why wouldn’t I be? It is how I’ve raised you, after all. To be the kind of man to be an ally in the fight against sorcery. I was waiting for the day where you’d step up.” 


It was the exact opposite of why Arthur had actually done it. But the Crown Prince knew better than to voice those thoughts out loud. Off to the side, Arthur could see Agravaine huff quietly, displeased. His scheme had ended up backfiring on him. And the Royal Adviser knew that, too.  

That probably didn’t mean that Agravaine would stop trying, though. 

The Crown Prince turned away from his uncle, focusing on the woman that he’d brought with him instead.  
“So?” he asked. “What did you see?” 

“Go on, child. Tell them what you told me.” 

Matilda shrunk into herself. She wouldn’t make eye contact with any of them, her eyes firmly fixed to the wooden floor. Arthur had seen that expression before.  Most peasants that entered the throne room were frightened at first, not used to the pressure that hung between the wooden pillars of the throne room. Matilda Copperbottom proved to be no exception. Arthur gave her a reassuring smile, trying to catch her eye and make her feel a little less nervous. 
“Don’t worry,” he said. “You’re not in any trouble. We just want to know what happened.” 

That worked. He could see her shoulders relax a bit. The red-haired woman looked up, skittishly making eye-contact with Arthur. It caught him off-guard; for a moment, she looked just like Guinevere. The Crown Prince quickly pushed that thought to the back of his mind. He couldn’t think about her now. He had a job to do. Arthur nodded at Matilda, trying to shake Guinevere from his head as he struggled to focus.  

The Crown Prince did not have to struggle for long. The next second, Matilda began to explain, and Arthur forgot about Guinevere entirely. 

“Last night, I- I saw someone using sorcery,” she confessed. “In the dead of night. Not far from the outskirts of town.”  
“Did you see who did it?” Arthur replied. Matilda shook her head at him in response.
“No, milord. I wasn’t close enough. But I saw two figures vanish into the forest at the edge of town. Towards the lake. There’s nothing in that direction, milord. No homes. No farmland. Just forest. But that night, I saw white lights floating above the treetops, right in the direction that they’d gone, like they were trying to lure me away—” 

“And what, pray tell, were you doing at the lake in the dead of night?” 

Arthur could see Matilda flinch. Her cheeks turned a bright red as she seemed to hesitate over something. The next second, Matilda seemingly made up her mind. Her blushing cheeks turned back to normal as she straightened her back.  
“I-I have a lover, milord,” the woman muttered. “We were… um, courting. We could see the magic from where we were. I’ve never seen lights like that before. It looked like a dozen pale spirits trying to bewitch us and lure us into the darkness. It wasn’t right, it was. I was afraid for my life. We ran home as fast as we could.” 
“I see,” Uther nodded. “And where did you witness this? Exactly?” 
“Near the lake, milord. Across the water, on the other side.” 
“Past where our guards patrol?” 
“Yes, milord,” she nodded, looking up at Arthur. “There’s an old ruined watchtower hidden near a cliffside that most folks don’t know about. The lights, they – they were coming from there.” 

Matilda didn’t say anything else. She didn’t need to. The Royal Adviser immediately took over, cutting in the moment she fell silent.
“Your Majesty, any practice of sorcery this close to Camelot needs to be investigated immediately,” Agravaine spoke. “This is clearly the act of something vile and dangerous. Not only that, but that it happened this close to our castle can only mean one thing.” 

Agravaine narrowed his eyes, glaring at the line of townspeople behind him. His expression darkened. 
“Once again, we have a sorcerer among us.” 

“What do you propose?” Uther asked, leaning forward on his throne. It was what Agravaine had been waiting for. He took another step forward, ascending the wooden steps and ignoring Arthur entirely as he focused on the Iron King instead. 
“We need to take action immediately, sire,” he pushed. “Before this corruption can spread any further. We need to apprehend and detain anyone that acts even slightly suspicious. My advice is to start interrogations, today, across all layers of the city—” 

“Absolutely not,” Arthur growled, taking a determined step forward. His father’s unexpected approval had given him more courage than he normally had. He could see Agravaine frown at him in response – The Royal adviser was clearly displeased by his nephew’s reaction – but in that moment, the Crown Prince didn’t care. He had to step in. He had to do something. Arthur knew exactly what would happen if they went down that road a second time. He knew what the outcome would be – and he knew that Uther and Agravaine would never believe him if he tried to explain it to them.
He had to step in. Arthur couldn’t let that happen again. 

He wouldn’t. 

“Arthur, with all due respect, we need to find the culprit immediately-” Agravaine tried, but the Crown Prince refused to let him finish. 
“And we will,” he growled. “But we will not do it by torturing innocent civilians. Not again. I will not allow it.” 
“My lord, this is the most effective-” 
“No,” Arthur cut in. “It is not. The last time we did that, it almost led to a revolt. This isn’t the right way to do it. Think about it – there won’t be anyone left to look for sorcery if we get ourselves lynched by our own people. There has to be another way. I know there is.” 

“And what would that be?” Agravaine asked, throwing up his hands in frustration. “Rooting out sorcery has always been done this way. How are we supposed to burn away corruption without any fire to burn it with?” 
“And that is your problem, uncle,” Arthur growled through clenched teeth. “Not everything can be overcome by burning it down. Sometimes burning it makes it worse.” 
“Of course I know that, but we are not talking about a case of crop rot here, Arthur!” Agravaine snapped, dismissing his words entirely. The Royal Adviser quickly turned to face Uther.  
“Your Majesty, clearly the Prince is still too young and inexperienced to deal with a matter as weighty as this. It will not end well. This requires a veteran like me. Give authority over these matters back to me, sire. Let me take care of this. I guarantee you that I will—” 

But for the third time in a row, the Royal Adviser was interrupted mid-sentence. 
“No, Arthur is right,” Uther spoke. “Last time was entirely ineffective. We did not even catch the sorcerer in the end. I will allow a change of methods.”  

The Jacoban Priest couldn’t protest anymore after that. Not verbally, at least. But if looks could kill, Arthur would have been a smouldering pile of ash on the floor.  
“…fine. What do you propose?” 

Arthur hadn’t actually come up with an alternative. A large part of him had been convinced that he wouldn’t be able to get that far in the first place. Not while Uther was still on the throne. Not until he reached adulthood and succeeded his father as King.  

But apparently, his father’s trust in him had improved. Or maybe Uther’s relationship with Agravaine had worsened over time. Arthur wasn’t sure which one it was. The Crown Prince didn’t know whether he should feel proud, or hesitant.  

So, in the end, he did neither. Arthur crossed his arms, straightening his back as he looked down at his uncle. 
“You don’t disturb the whole meadow just because one of the horses is lame,” the Crown Prince spoke, quickly thinking on his feet. “And you don’t frighten the other horses while you take the lame one away, either. If you upset the herd, all that will happen is that you end up getting trampled.” 

“Uh-huh. And how do you propose we deal with the herd, my lord?” Agravaine asked, emphasizing the word herd in such a demeaning, condescending way that Arthur suddenly felt grateful that none of the other peasants were waiting in the same room. The Crown Prince didn’t have an answer ready for him. Not yet. But Agravaine wasn’t waiting for Arthur to offer one.  
“Would you bring in a stablemaster, then?” the Royal Adviser suggested. “A professional, perhaps? Someone who knows what they’re doing? Someone who wouldn’t make the same missteps that occurred last time?”  

Arthur hesitated. He wasn’t sure why. He didn’t know where the sudden strange, ominous feeling in the pit of his stomach came from. But there was something about Agravaine’s choice of phrasing that the Crown Prince didn’t like. Something about it sounded wrong. Arthur could feel a strange sensation in the back of his mind, like a silent, invisible alarm bell. Stirring inside him.

Warning him. 

He… didn’t know what to do with that feeling.  

The next second, it didn’t matter. Arthur watched from the corner of his eye as, behind him, Uther raised a single arm in the air. 
“Very well,” he said, taking control. “Agravaine, see it done. Summon a witch hunter immediately. The most capable one that you know of. Once he reaches Camelot, he will operate under my son’s instructions.”

“I will leave this in your hands, Arthur. Prove to me that you can handle the weight. Do not disappoint me.” 

“…and that’s what happened.” 

Arthur’s explanation was followed by a long, heavy silence. Morgana had turned her back to her brother, listening in quiet judgment as she stared out the window. He couldn’t see her expression. He didn’t need to. The cold anger that radiated from her was almost tangible. Arthur knew that it wasn’t actually aimed at him. It was aimed at their uncle. 

It was aimed at history trying to repeat itself. 

The Princess of Camelot was not the only one to show her disapproval.  
“So. Another witch hunt,” Lancelot summarised, letting out a short sigh. The future Duke looked frustrated and strangely tired at the same time. Arthur could relate; it was how he had been feeling ever since his uncle had left the throne room. He hadn’t been able to follow him. He hadn’t been able to do anything. The long line of townspeople coming to court had forced him to wait until the following day to finally call on his friends.  
“I’m sure that Agravaine has already sent for the witch hunter,” the Crown Prince sighed. “I don’t think that there’s anything we can do to avoid him at this point.” 

Behind him, Morgana took a big, exaggerated sip of her wine. 
“Wonderful,” she said, her words dripping with crimson sarcasm. “And? How many random farmers and bakers are we executing this time around?” 

But Arthur powerfully shook his head at her. 
“None,” he responded. “That will never happen again. Not on my watch – not while I have anything to say about it. You have my word.” 
“Careful, brother. Do not make promises you cannot keep.”  

Morgana’s words were valid. But this time, Arthur wasn’t floundering in the middle of a crisis. He hadn’t been sent away to the other side of Albion, only to find out what was going on in Camelot after the fact. He had no intention of backing down. The Crown Prince had time. He knew exactly what was about to happen, and he knew what he wanted to do. 

But Arthur still needed to know what he was up against. 
And he couldn’t do that alone.

“I need your help,” he said, glancing at the two people beside him. “I won’t be able to keep a handle on this by myself. I need you two to be my eyes and ears. Keep a close watch on everything that happens. I need you to make sure that nothing is done without evidence,” he continued. “Ensure that none of them overstep. Not the witch hunter, not Agravaine, and not the guards that are in his pocket. If they do, you have my permission to arrest them on the spot.” 

Lancelot and Morgana didn’t answer him right away. For a moment, the future Duke looked towards the window, seemingly lost in thought. When he turned back to face Arthur, his brow was furrowed deeply. 
“You want us to actively involve ourselves in a witch hunt?” 

“No,” Arthur replied, shaking his head as he glanced back and forth between them. “I don’t want either of you to go anywhere near it. But you and Morgana are the only ones at court that I can trust, and the only ones that know how to outwit Agravaine. You’re the only ones I can rely on.” 
“What about Gawain? Not that involving him would be much wiser.” 
“I’ve thought about that, too,” Arthur nodded. “I will ask Gawain to keep an eye on things outside the castle. I’ll do whatever I can myself, too. But I need you. We can’t let things play out the way they normally would. Not this time. We mustn’t.” 

Arthur broke eye contact, his expression darkening as the memories floated to the surface. In a soft voice, he muttered: 
“…we can’t have a repeat of last year.” 

“Arthur. What about my other assignment?”

The Crown Prince frowned, letting a small silence fall as he pondered Lancelot’s words. He’d almost forgotten about that. The future Duke had been shadowing Pellinore for more than a month now, as Arthur had ordered him to do. But Lancelot probably wouldn’t be able to do two things at once. He wouldn’t be able to tail Pellinore and keep an eye on the witch hunter at the same time. As it was, shadowing their Essetiran friend already took up most of his attention.

But Arthur couldn’t afford to ignore either threat.

“Have you found out anything?” The Crown Prince asked, causing Lancelot to shake his head in response.
“Not yet. At least, nothing I can prove, sire.”
“Then focus on Pellinore. Continue to watch him. For all we know, Pellinore is the cause of this. We’ll have Morgana prioritise the witch hunter.”

For a moment, Arthur could swear that he saw something strange in his friend’s expression. It was gone so quickly that the Crown Prince wasn’t sure if he’d imagined it.
Was that… worry?

He must have misread that. Yes. That had to be it. Arthur turned to the side, glancing at his sister’s back from the corner of his eye.

“Morgana. I’m sending you after the witch hunter. Do you have any objections?”
He knew that she’d be able to handle herself. Except for Cenred, Morgana had not failed him even once. The Crown Prince could see his sister shake her head, her gaze still firmly fixed on the courtyard window.

“None. It would be my pleasure.”

On his left, Lancelot looked down at the ground. His expression had grown considerably darker as the conversation progressed. He looked reluctant about something – but if the future Duke disagreed with parts of Arthur’s plan, he didn’t seem willing to voice it. Instead, Lancelot focused on something else.
“The witch hunter. Do we have a name?”

“No. Not yet.”

“But whoever is coming… it will be someone of Agravaine’s choice. Someone he knows personally.”

“And I have a pretty good idea what kind of person my uncle would send for.”

12 thoughts on “3.47 – The Witch Hunter, Part I

  1. A really exciting chapter with a perfect tension build-up. The sections with the textless images work so well with the sections with text. ❤
    Arthur has been tasked with managing the witch hunt, ignorant but with a good heart.
    Lancelot and Morgana know too much. I hope their talent for chess will be of great use to them here.
    For Guinevere, the time of security in freedom is over. The final images are heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like combining purely visuals with text fragments. Having text tell one story and pictures add extra details (or completely contradict what’s being told) is one of my favorite writing tricks, I think. You can do so much with pictures to add 😊

      Depending on how the next few chapters go, the time of freedom and security might be over for more than one person…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gwen vibing in her little house < 3 Aggro is such an ass-licker I hate him so much XD He's like that annoying kid at school who tells on everyone else for the slightest thing. Is it me or just Arthur look a little skinny in that facial shot? Maybe sickly or something? Or is that just me?

    Well I guess it kinda worked out, Uther thinks Arthur's against sorcery when that isn't how it is. Aggro is so damn slimy he's awful. I'm now just like oohhh holy fuck what do we do when Arthur finds out his sister has magic? Fuck Aggro, and also go Arthur for telling him to eat shit in front of everybody. Arthur already knows what the sorcerers have gone through, and he's doing what he can to make sure nothing like that happens again. Good on Uther for siding with Arthur as well, can tell Aggro did not like that one bit. He's even using the 'Annoyed Morgana' pose XD

    Well it's good to see….either Arthur and Uther sort of mending stuff or Uther just getting as fed up with Aggro as I am, but now the only trouble is getting results that will please his father.
    Ahh there we are, the difference in her eyes that almost looks like back when Gwen got those earrings…From what I can make out they almost look like Nimueh's slit pupils. OHH HHOLTY SHIT…. I thought that guy looked familiar. It's the exact same guy isn't it? Oh god oh fuck

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Guinevere is vibing (autocorrect is determined to change this to viking, lol) in her little house the same way I vibe in mine when I have free time to spend on hobbies 😄 Oooh, well-spotted! Arthur isn’t sickly, but he is neglecting his physical appearance. He’s got peach fuzz. But his hair colour is so light that the game can’t handle it well and just made it look all shade-y and sunken-in, lol. It’ll fix itself either with time, or when he stops being a heartbroken teen and starts shaving again.

      Agravaine is the slimy toad that nobody wants in their backyard. Haha, that is indeed the “annoyed Morgana” pose. Half of her poses are “inherited” from Sarah, but a good deal is shared with Agravaine, too.

      Yup. It is the exact same guy. Strap in, everyone. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is going to be interesting. Arthur is gearing up to try to make sure that mistakes aren’t repeated and he’s communicating and enlisting others’ help. I just hope they’re able to succeed. I worry about Guinevere who’s freed herself from the others and yet is still forced to confront harsh elements from her past.

    I noticed that you’ve posted the title for Chapter 3.50 already and I can’t help but wonder whose mother? Guinevere’s mother or Morgana’s or someone else’s, but I’m not asking for spoilers.

    Also, I love all the palace renovations that I can see in this chapter and that you shared on the forums. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arthur is trying everything he’s learned so far, especially everything he’s learned from his own mistakes. Will it be enough, indeed?

      Haha, I’ve had to shuffle with scenes a bit and now it’s chapter 3.51, but the answer to that question will come really soon either way. Weeee 🎢

      Thank you! I had such a blast making it all. I’m now genuinely proud whenever I load up the castle 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, sod right off, Matilda Copperbottom. You didn’t see anything. They weren’t trying to lure you anywhere, either, those things you didn’t see. It was simply such good loving that your sneaky beau gave you that it left you seeing stars. Go home. Make a pie. Take a bath.
    I’m surprised Aggro waited a whole day to drag this woman before the king to tell her dirty lies. And discussing all this before her. Risky.
    Ooh, a witch hunter! How exciting. Well, it’s not, it’s terrifying, but also exciting. It’s driving Morgana to drink!
    Rupert!!!! 😭
    And oh lordy, it’s him, scarface. With weird glowy eyes. I genuinely don’t know whether to be excited or afraid so I’m simply going to smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Matilda Copperbottom is a great combination of superstitious, judgmental and an active imagination. But then again, most people only see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.

      You know it’s serious when it’s driving Morgana to day-drink. Excited or afraid, huh? Maybe both is appropriate this time around. Hey, when in doubt, smile and wave, right?


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