3.59 – Antebellum, Part II

Gawain had no intention of going home.

He knew that Arthur didn’t want him around right now. Gawain could sense that his friend was going through a tough time and understood that he needed space – but a small part of him, some strange sixth sense, told him to stay close to Arthur anyway. He wasn’t sure why. But the young would-be knight obeyed that feeling without question. He didn’t want to give up. Gawain knew that there was still something he could do to help.
He just didn’t know what it was.

But someone else did. There was always one person who knew how to handle any situation, regardless of what was going on. No matter what happened. Gawain knew that he could count on him now, too. Lancelot would have the answers. Even if Gawain didn’t know what to do…

Lancelot would.

He’d know exactly how to help.

Arthur silently gazed out of the sitting room window, the opulent furnishings around him long since faded into the background. His face was etched with a deep frown. The Crown Prince couldn’t shake the feeling of dread that loomed over him. It was a sixth sense, a gut feeling that he couldn’t explain. Arthur couldn’t put it into words. But deep down, some part of him sensed that something terrible was about to happen. Something that they were all inevitably marching towards.

Something that he didn’t know how to stop.

The Crown Prince was so lost in thought that he didn’t even notice the approaching footsteps until he heard a voice ring out from behind him.
“My lord? Are you all right?”
He turned around to saw Mithian, who had left her guards at the door, looking up at him with a concerned expression on her face.
“You’ve been acting strange all week. Is something wrong?”

Arthur paused, taking a deep breath before answering.
“I- no. I’m fine. It’s nothing, Mithian,” he said, his voice betraying his troubled mind. “Please leave me be.”

But Mithian was not so easily deterred. Instead of leaving as instructed, he could see her taking a step towards him. The girl’s frown deepened.
“This is about Cenred and Morgana, isn’t it?”

“How did you—“

Arthur felt a jolt of surprise at Mithian’s words. He had always known her to be perceptive, but he had not realized that she could read him that well. For a moment, the Crown Prince cursed himself for wearing his mask so badly. Was it just her? Or had everyone been able to read him like a book that week?
Had Cenred?

“It’s… it’s rather obvious, my lord,” the girl spoke in response. “You’ve been acting strange ever since he came to court. I understand why. I’ve seen the way he looks at her. I’ve seen the way she looks at him.”
“It’s not like that,” Arthur replied, a hint of defensiveness creeping into his voice. “You’re mistaken.”
But the Princess of Nemeth slowly shook her head.
“I don’t think so, my lord. A woman can sense these things. This is only the second time that he’s been in Camelot, has it not?”
“Yes. Your point?” Arthur said sharply, almost aggressively. But that did not deter Mithian, either. When she spoke, her voice was soft and gentle, in a way that did not match the words that came out of her mouth at all.

“And yet,” she said, “they seem so friendly… Please forgive me for speaking out of turn, my lord, but it doesn’t strike me as a bond of people who have only interacted twice, She almost seems closer with him than she is with you.”

No, that’s not true.

That can’t be true.

“If this were Nemeth… people would start to think that they’re conspiring.”
“This isn’t Nemeth,” Arthur replied, growling through firmly clenched teeth. “Morgana would never do that. And Cenred is an ally. They’re both allies of Camelot.”
“Of course, my lord. What else would they be?”

Arthur didn’t want to believe it.

She’d always been there for him. In her own ruthless, cunning, manipulative way, Morgana had always looked out for him. His sister had always had his back. Without fail.

Deep down, the Crown Prince didn’t even want to consider it.

“Arthur Pendragon, if you let her die, I will never forgive you!”

No. It wasn’t like that.

Mithian was wrong.
Arthur was wrong. His sister wouldn’t do that to him.

She wouldn’t do that.

Morgana wouldn’t do that.

Morgana wouldn’t…

“Morrie… do you think he’s an enemy?”

“To you? Or to me?”

Lancelot sprinted through the halls of the castle as quickly as he could, his heart racing with fear and urgency. He knew that Pellinore was hot on his heels, determined to silence him for what he’d heard. He had to outrun him. He had to be faster – Lancelot had to reach Arthur in time and warn him of the danger that was closing in on them all.

Every second counted. Lancelot pushed himself to speed up even more. His breath came out in ragged gasps as he weaved through the maze of corridors, praying that he would reach the Crown Prince in time. That he could warn them all, that he could stop what was about to happen.

He couldn’t fail again. Not this time.

He knew exactly where his friend was. He just had to get to him. Lancelot’s heart pounded in his chest as he ran, knowing that he was being chased, with every fiber of his being urging him to run faster. Just as he was about to turn a corner, Lancelot looked back over his shoulder, trying to see how much of a head start he had—

And immediately wished that he hadn’t.

Looking back had been a mistake. It slowed him down. And Pellinore immediately made use of that, using the opportunity to grab onto Lancelot’s clothes and yank him backwards. Hard. The sudden jerk caused the future Duke to lose his balance. He stumbled, gasping for air as Pellinore caught up and slammed his arm straight into Lancelot’s throat.

Lancelot tried to struggle, but Pellinore was unnaturally strong. He couldn’t shake him off. The future Duke of Henford felt a sharp pain in his stomach as Pellinore hit him again, causing him to crumple to the floor. Pellinore did not give him the chance to get back up. Gasping for air, Lancelot felt Pellinore’s hand close around his throat, ruthlessly cutting off his air supply.

The voice that trailed out from above him no longer sounded human.
“I hate eavesdroppers.”

Lancelot felt his assailant’s hands squeezing his throat with increasing force. The pressure was suffocating. His vision immediately began to swim, the edges darkening from lack of air. He gasped and choked, struggling to breathe. but Pellinore’s grip was unrelenting. Lancelot’s hands rammed into the man’s torso, trying to push him off, but it was like trying to hit a stone wall. He couldn’t break free. He could feel his hand getting slammed back down. He could feel himself slipping away.

This was bad.

He couldn’t break free.

He wasn’t going to make it—

As Lancelot struggled to free himself from Pellinore’s grip, suddenly he felt the pressure on his throat release. The weight lifted off his chest. Lancelot gasped for air, trying to catch his breath, his vision still blurry. For a moment, the future Duke was completely disoriented, not sure what was happening—

Lancelot slowly sat up, his head spinning and his throat raw. As he tried to clear his vision, he saw the figure of Gawain in front of him, violently wrestling with Pellinore to the ground. Gawain had his knee on Pellinore’s chest, pinning him down, and was raining down punches on his face. A wave of rage echoed out from Gawain that grew with every punch he threw. The sound of flesh hitting flesh echoed off the walls of the corridor.

For a moment, Lancelot just stared, his mind struggling to make sense of the chaotic scene before him. Then, slowly, he began to comprehend what was happening, and he felt a wave of gratitude and relief wash over him.

The would-be knight had saved his life.

Gawain eventually stopped. His chest heaved as he stood up straight, deliberately positioning himself in front of Lancelot. The future Duke of Henford was still gasping for air. As he picked himself up, he glanced over at Pellinore, who was no longer moving. Motionless, he lied on the ground. No emotions reached him. No feelings of rage, or pain, or panic.

All he felt was a void.

With a hoarse, raspy voice, Lancelot muttered:
“Thank you.”

Gawain’s expression fell. As he looked down on Pellinore, his body still and unmoving, the fury that had radiated from him mere moments ago vanished. Lancelot could sense it fade into the background, slowly making way for fear… and guilt.
“I… I attacked a noble,” the young redhead stammered. “I didn’t mean to… he was trying to kill you, I…”
Lancelot interrupted him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “I know. You did what you had to do.”

“Is… is he breathing?”

Lancelot didn’t know. With Gawain supporting him, they cautiously approached the man’s body. Pellinore was lying flat on his back, arms spread to the sides mouth open, a strange, scale-like mark on his cheek—

Neither of them were prepared for what happened next. As they looked down on him, Pellinore’s body suddenly began to contort and change form. It happened so abruptly that both of them stumbled back, their faces frozen in shock. Gawain and Lancelot stared in disbelief as  all the colour drained from Pellinore’s face. His hair turned stark white. His teeth grew, their form turning jagged as a strange, almost scale-like texture rapidly began to spread on his cheeks. It was like nothing they had ever seen before.

“Wha-what in Watcher’s name is that?!” Gawain yelped, looking down in shocked disbelief. He had no idea what he was looking at. Lancelot couldn’t blame him. If not for his own nights of reading every book that he could get his hands on, the future Duke would have no idea what the creature in front of them was, either.

But Lancelot did know.

He should have realised the truth so much sooner.

“It’s a changeling.”

The future Duke could feel a wave of realisation hit him, his mind forcefully connecting all the dots. It was painful. Lancelot could feel a splitting headache start to surface as Nimueh’s magick took hold.

He finally understood.
He could finally see.

“Let me get this straight. Despite us never once having heard of him before, Cenred of Essetir is-”
“Our true ruler, yes.”
“By right. And you have no objections to that.”

It finally made sense. Lancelot instinctively understood how Mithian and Pellinore had managed to communicate with the outside world, undetected by everyone in the castle. How they’d managed to avoid even Agravaine’s detection.

They hadn’t needed to use subterfuge.
They’d used magick.

They’d used magick this whole time.

“Where is his entourage? His guards? His nobles? Why is he alone?”

He hadn’t needed an entourage.

It had been magick all along. Cenred’s sudden arrival without any guards, the Princes’ easy acceptance of him as their king, his integration in court – it had all been entirely too smooth. Entirely too easy. Unnaturally so. Lancelot’s his headache reached a peak as the last puzzle piece was forced into place.
He should have realised it earlier.

He was a changeling.
They all were.

They were all Fae.

“Do… do we call someone?” Gawain asked hesitantly. Lancelot looked towards the door, gritting his teeth as the feeling of dread rapidly began to grow worse.
“Yes. We should have someone detain him. But we also need to leave. Right now.”
“What? Why?”
“I’ll explain on the way. We need to get to Arthur as quickly as possible. He’s in danger.”

“We all are.”


For the second time in ten minutes, the Crown Prince was roughly startled out of his thoughts. He could hear the sound of two figured storming into the sitting room, loudly and forcefully pushing their way past the knights that stood guard. As he looked back, he could see Lancelot and Gawain panting in the doorway. They looked panicked and out of breath, a sight that instantly made a knot of anxiety tighten in his chest. He silently asked for an explanation – but they gave him none.

Instead, their expressions of dread quickly turned to anger as they locked in on Mithian, who was standing right next to him. In a voice that was burning with rage, Gawain growled:
“Get away from him RIGHT NOW.”

Arthur blinked, still trying to process what was happening.
“Lance? What’s going on?” he asked, looking from one of his young knights to the other. The future Duke remained solely focused on Mithian.
Two seconds later, the Crown Prince understood why.

“She’s working with Pellinore. Arthur, we’ve been betrayed.”

Time seemed to slow down. Arthur watched, frozen, his gaze pulled to the right as Mithian took a step back. Then another. Her eyes were wide with disbelief at Lancelot’s words.
“Don’t deny it. I’ve heard your conversation.”
“I- I don’t know what you’re talking a-about,” the Princess of Nemeth stammered, her voice breaking up in a way that sounded oddly familiar. “A-Arthur saved me, and Pellinore is a good friend—”

But she never managed to finish her sentence. Gawain interrupted her, his voice growing louder and more aggressive with each word.
“He’s not human!” he yelled. “Don’t trust her, Arthur! He’s a changeling – he tried to kill Lancelot, and when I took him down, his entire body changed!”

Mithian blinked.
“Wait… what?”

It was entirely too much to handle. And the revelations that day had not stopped yet. Before Arthur could react to his friends’ accusations, the Crown Prince was interrupted yet again. They watched as a guard barged into the room, in full armour, his breaths coming in quick gasps.
Arthur’s head snapped towards the guard, his heart racing as he braced himself.
“WHAT?!” he barked, his frustration and fear growing with each passing moment. There was too much. Too much at once for his mind to handle. He couldn’t process it. Mithian, Pellinore, Cornwall, Nemeth, Morgana and Cenred – it was entirely too much at once. Arthur had no room left in his head. He didn’t know where to start. Part of him mentally dared the armoured knight to make it even worse, to go ahead and pile on even worse news—

And the guard immediately delivered.

“The army, sire! It’s been spotted on the outskirts! They’re headed this way!”

That’s not possible.

Arthur’s mind raced as he frantically tried to process the information he’d just been given. It made no sense. They couldn’t be here. It simply wasn’t possible – Nemeth’s army should have been stuck at the southern border, repelled by their own troops. Just like Cornwall. Something was incredibly wrong. They were too close. There was no way that an entire army could have made it this far into Camelot undetected. Not without foul play, not without-

Not without magic.

“Which colours?” Arthur demanded, trying desperately to keep his growing sense of dread at bay. “Cornwall? Nemeth? Which colours are they marching under?”

The guard’s answer made all the hairs on Arthur’s neck rise up.
“Three banners, sire. Nemeth and Cornwall. The last—”

“It’s Essetir.”

As the words of the guard echoed in his ears, Arthur could feel his surroundings fade. The Crown Prince felt a horrific cold seeping into his body. His heart pounded in his chest like a war drum. His vision blurred as Arthur struggled to grasp the enormity of what he had just heard. The room spun around him. A chill ran down his spine, making him shiver uncontrollably. Arthur could feel the fear slowly creeping up his body, taking hold of him as the realisation washed over him like a tidal wave.

It… couldn’t be true.
It wasn’t true.





Please don’t let it be true.

“Where is Morgana?”

The last rays of sunlight slowly vanished.

As the sun disappeared below the horizon, Morgana stood at the window of her bedchambers, silently looking at the rapidly encroaching darkness. The fading light outside her home felt oddly fitting. Morgana could feel the anticipation in the air, an odd silence that had draped itself over the castle like a blanket as the sun set.
Much like the last rays of light of the day… she was running out of time.

Morgana hadn’t been able to distance herself at all. She hadn’t even been able to cast him from her thoughts. The encounter kept playing through her mind like a haunting melody, refusing to leave her side, its notes carrying a insanely alluring promise of power.
Resisting that melody had been almost impossible.


“… I… I can’t.”

Cenred hadn’t expected that. For a moment, the Stone Dragon had been frozen, his outstretched hand suspended in the air as his expression turned from hope to utter confusion.

He’d reached out to her again, trying to grab hold of her hand and pull her towards him. But Morgana had taken a step back, shaking her head at him in response.
“I can’t. I can’t do that.”

Cenred’s face had darkened. She’d watched as confusion turned into to frustration, then anger. The temperature around her had suddenly cooled to a chill as he’d continued:
Do you not understand what it is that I offer, Morgana? Do you not see what is at stake?
“I do… but… I can’t. It can’t be you.”

It is meant to be me, Cenred had immediately replied, his voice lowering to a deep, almost hypnotic tone as he’d leaned in close. This is fated to happen, Priestess. Have you not suffered enough? I can end that pain for you, I can lead you into an era of peace—


Resisting the strange, magnetic pull of the dragon in front of her had taken an almost inhuman amount of effort. His presence was overwhelming. But Morgana powered though, feeling her mind clear a little more with every step that she took backwards. The witch had felt the impact of cold stone behind her as she painfully hit the edge of the bridge. It helped. The pain made her focus. It made her remember. This wasn’t what she had worked so hard for – this wasn’t what Morgana was risking her life to accomplish.

Deep down, Morgana could tell. What Cenred offered wasn’t what she wanted. Not really. It was something else. Something incredibly dangerous. Something rotten.
Something that the witch wanted no part of.

“What would you do with the people who have no magic?”

Cenred had looked away.

It was all she’d needed to know. The witch had shaken her head powerfully, leaning even further away from him.

“No. Not you. It can’t be you – it has to be Arthur.”

Cenred’s anger had been instant. She’d seen see his wings unfurl, the stone bridge underneath them shaking as a primal rage flashed behind his eyes. She’d had to grab hold of the bridge for support as the temple groaned and cracked.
Why?! the Stone Dragon had snarled. Why would you choose that pathetic human?! How could you side with that wretched Pendragon, that dragonslayer, over your own kind?! How could you refuse the life I am offering you? Why would you —


Morgana had seen the rage that her outburst summoned. The violent hatred in Cenred’s eyes. She’d felt the inhuman, primal anger seeping out from him, making part of the bridge break off and crumble to the ground.

For a moment, she’d been convinced that he’d kill her on the spot.

But… he hadn’t. Cenred hadn’t been so easily deterred.

And Morgana had severely underestimated the Ancient Dragon’s patience.

He’d followed her to Camelot.

His presence in her mind had overwhelmed her every time she tried to reach Arthur- every time she tried to reach anyone. He wouldn’t let her. Morgana had never felt her own spirit being used against her before. The sorceress couldn’t focus – she’d barely been able to keep Cenred at bay. She’d played the game as well as she could, trying to keep her real thoughts hidden.

But this wasn’t like her normal chess games at court. Even now, she could sense Cenred close by, impossible to drown out. She hadn’t been able to sleep, her mind constantly being tempted with knowledge, power, adoration, worship. Morgana couldn’t get him out of her head. She couldn’t focus on anything. She couldn’t think – Cenred’s words kept repeating in her mind, over and over again, bearing down on her with the collective weight of a mountain.

She knew what he was trying to do. She knew that he was wearing her down on purpose, waiting for her to crack. Morgana had fought her hardest to resist. But it was getting harder every day. The witch didn’t know how much longer she would last.

But she had to. She couldn’t give up yet.

Because there was one question that hadn’t been answered.
The only question that mattered.

It’s simple. We die.

They weren’t immortal. In his arrogance, Cenred had foolishly admitted that himself. He’d told her without a second thought.

And if something as ridiculous as a broken promise could kill them…

Then so could she.

Morgana just had to find out how.

6 thoughts on “3.59 – Antebellum, Part II

  1. .ERRUUGUH Mithian is so damn slimy. Even I fell for her bullshit. No Arthur! Morgana wouldn’t do that. Not to you, not to Lance or Gawain…can’t be so sure about the rest of Camelot though.YES go on Gawain! Beat the shit out of him! Ahh geez, now I’m thinking how this might end up turning Camelot even more anti-magic than it already is. As dramatic as the scene is, I love the simultaneous ‘what the fuuuuck?’ faces of Mithian and Arthur XD

    So many emotions. Thing is, I know Morgana would want no harm to come to her friends, but then I don’t know if Cenred would spare them, especially since…how does she convince them that Arthur is not like Uther? In a way you can understand them not wanting to be careful, it could mean their deaths if they’re lenient. But we as readers know Arthur isn’t like Uther. Yes magic users may be Morgana’s family in one sense, but also so is her brother. Not counting Uther the Crown Bellend here because he sucks.

    THE TOOFS! MORGANA’S DRAGON TOOFS¬!!! I LOVE THEM!!!! An interesting ending, but also…making an enemy of an ancient dragon Fae, who knows if Morgana is able to stand up to them if they declare some sort of war on Camelot…and whose side Morgause and her other fae and fae-ish friends will take if such a thing happens and Morgana tries to defend her friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arthur’s greatest flaw is his doubt, both in himself and in those close to him. Normally, it’s caught in time. But this time around it’s actively being fed, and… well. 😅A Fae intruder turning Camelot even more anti-magic? My, whatever gives you that idea? 🤭

      Haha, still out for blood when it comes to Uther, I see. As always, Morgana is firmly stuck in the middle. She doesn’t want to give up on either, but if she’s not careful, she might end up losing both.

      We’ll find out what happens with that war real soon. It’s on their doorstep and all roller coaster territory from here 😅 Whether Morgana will get to do anything after drinking that wine remains to be seen, though…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gah! That wasn’t enough!
    Glad Lance lived, and really glad it was Gawain who saved him.
    I’m thrown by Essetir’s army being the third army there. Something tells me I shouldn’t be what with the whole “Pellinor” thing, but yeah.
    So Mithian the *&*#$#@ didn’t know the dude what a changeling. Hm. I wonder if that will change what she does. Probably not.
    And there goes Morgana gonna get poisoned. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not enough? Oh dear 😂 I have nothing else to offer, haha. Gotta figure out how the heck to pose an army in the game before the next chapter can be made, lol.

      Sometimes even when you see the surprise coming, it can still throw you. Sure seems to throw Arthur, and he was suspicious from the start. Mithian sure seemed surprised, didn’t she? Who is actually fooling who is starting to get real messy…

      I rolled for that one, too, to see if she noticed anything was up with the wine before drinking. Morgana rolled a 1. 😐☠

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Morgana critical failed. Oh no.
        As for posing an army… sim statues? Just learned that yesterday, and I still don’t have it 100% yet. You prob already knew, but it’s new to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’ll probably be sim statues, yes! Getting them all set up outside lot boundaries is another matter though, ha. They’re super handy, aren’t they? I’m so happy that people started creating them 🤩

        Liked by 1 person

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