Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot?

Endskel 30, 1013

The Day of the Dead. New Year’s Eve. The last night of the year. A thin time. There were many things to call this night.

Mordred would not call it much of anything. To call it something would require speaking to someone this night. He did not intend to do that. The servants had long gone to bed; Agravaine was sleeping, too. As for his children, they were with their mothers. Mordred supposed he could have presumed upon his connection to the royal family to join their vigil … but he would not. They would welcome him, because they had to … but they would not want him there. And Mordred did not want to be where he was not wanted.

He would be wanted still less at the Gwynedd Keep, though he supposed he might have traded on his connection to Garnet and to Dindrane to get in there. But Mordred would not break bread at their house and join in the traditional remembrances that characterized the Day of the Dead. The people he wanted to remember had either been hounded to death or dishonored by the people in that house. To remember his father and mother there would be a travesty, a sick joke.

Besides, who knew how much reminiscing would happen at the Gwynedd Keep? They had things other than the past to occupy them. They had a future to plan.

For Garnet and Lamorak had become parents the day before.

Garnet had given birth to a boy, strong and healthy. His name was Percival — a name that had some meaning to the Gwynedds, though what it was exactly was not something Mordred cared to inquire about. He was grateful enough that his own children had not been saddled with names that the Gwynedds had nursed for generations, preparing to inflict them on whatever squalling newborns came next.

But Mordred was being unfair. Whatever he might feel about every other person to bear the last name of Gwynedd, he certainly wished his nephew no harm. Indeed, he wished him all the health in the world. Because for Mordred’s plan to work, that little boy would have to stay very, very healthy for a long time to come.

It was the only way to destroy the Gwynedds.

Mordred swished his wine from side to side and took a slow sip. He ought to be overjoyed at this development. If Garnet had born a daughter, or a weak and sickly son, his plans would have been pushed back to who-knew-when. A delay was the last thing Mordred wanted. Things were proceeding apace in Glasonland; Francis and Port Graal could not hold out much longer. The only reason why the city still resisted was because they feared reprisals for welcoming Francis in at the first. Eventually, though, their will and their ability to resist would be spent. Then Constantine’s army would rush through the gates, there would be some unfortunate carnage and looting, Francis would be dead …

And Constantine would, in short order, be king.

And — then what? For Mordred, at least. Constantine had been happy enough to have Mordred’s assistance while he was still merely Baron of Caernavon, but with the crown of Glasonland on his head, what use would he have for Mordred? Or, more to the point, what reason would have had to continue to trust Mordred? He’d been happy enough to do so when it served his purpose. But it was only a matter of time before Constantine realized that the oh-so-powerful wizard who had helped him onto the throne could push him off it just as easily. When that happened, Constantine would start to fear him … and what he feared, he would seek to destroy, unless Mordred could think of ways to keep their partnership fruitful for the both of them.

“And that’s all very nice, dear,” said a voice — such a familiar voice — from behind him, “but what’s it got to do with me?”

Mordred was midway through the act of taking another sip of his wine. He paused. But he did not stop. Slowly, he continued to sip and swallow until he judged enough time had passed. His mother had always prized unflappability. She called it a mark of true nobility. Mordred would make her proud.

So slowly, he drank; slowly, he put his tankard on the table; slowly, he turned around. “Mother.”

“My boy.” Her voice was warm, her smile broad — just as it had been in his best memories, when he had done something or said something to make her proud.

“I am surprised to see you,” he said.

“Silly boy. Where else would I be?” Morgause smiled and she held out her arms. “Now let me have a look at you.”

Mordred came closer and kissed her on both cheeks. She felt solid in his grip, but not as warm as he remembered.

Then Morgause held him at an arm’s length. Her touch was feather-light on his arms. “You look well, my boy. Is Rosette taking good care of you?”

“Of course.”

“Yes–of course.” There was something there, some undercurrent … Mordred knew that his mother had never actively disapproved of his relationship with Rosette, but on some level, she had never quite approved, either. At the very least, Rosette was not the sort of woman Morgause would have picked out as the love of his life … for all that Morgause had no qualms with Mordred taking a peasant mistress and was probably grateful that he had chosen one with Rosette’s temperament.

If she thought that Mordred could want anything else, then that showed how little she truly knew him … but mothers could often be deceived about their children, even their beloved firstborn sons.

Speaking of sons … “Have you seen Agravaine, Mother?”

“I checked on him before I came to you. He is looking well. You are taking excellent care of him.” As I expected, Morgause added via a satisfied look in her eye.

“I thank you.” Mordred bowed his head.

“But, my boy,” Morgause lightly stroked his arm, “you know I did not come here to discuss child-rearing. I came to discuss …”

“Glasonland.”

“And your other plans.” Morgause nodded.

Mordred took a deep breath and shifted his weight from foot to foot. He would have never done this in front of anyone else — but if he could not trust his mother, then whom could he trust? “Well … where would you like me to start?”

“With Glasonland, if you please. As I asked before — what has that got to do with me?”

“Well …”

Mordred felt like he was six or seven years old. He’d been called into his mother’s boudoir, for … did it matter what? He had done something wrong. And his mother … she would not shout, as other mothers did. She would not scold. She would simply watch Mordred as he explained himself, stumbling over his words and his apologies. Then when he was done, she would sigh and send him away. She would not punish him. Withdrawing her affection, her love — that was always punishment enough.

“I–I will be honest with you, Mother. Now it does not have much to do with you.”

Morgause did not give him any encouraging words. Not even an encouraging glance. She simply watched him with one eyebrow raised, just as she used to.

Hopefully she would not send him away … Mordred did not think he could bear it …

“But at the beginning — Arthur wanted peace in Glasonland. I wanted to hurt Arthur. The swiftest, surest way I could think to do that was to ensure that there was no peace in Glasonland.”

“But he has profited from the war. And so have you,” Morgause pointed out.

Part of Mordred wanted to back away from that, like the shamefaced little boy that part of him still was. But why should he? He was a man now. He had acted as a man ought. And if he had profited from his schemes of revenge — should that not make Morgause proud rather than disappointed?

“Yes. I have.” Mordred held his head up high and rested one hand on his hip. He reminded himself that he was a man, a lord, and a dark wizard of no mean powers. “I have started a civil war, and I have put in motion the events that will end it. I have raised a mere Baron to the kingship. I have …” Prudence stopped him, even now, from admitting to the murder of Vortimer. What if one of the servants was up and about? “I have the man who will be King of Glasonland in my back pocket. Even if … even if my original plan, Mother, went awry, I think I have profited mightily from it.”

“You have landed on your feet,” Morgause noted approvingly.

Part of Mordred’s tension rushed out of him. She would not send him away. She would not be disappointed. All would be well.

“And …” Morgause smiled. It was the self-satisfied smile of a cat licking canary feathers from its whiskers. “I think, Mordred, that you are not telling me the truth when you say your original plan — your revenge — went awry. For you took some very important steps toward it, did you not?”

Mordred smiled and nodded.

“Because King Vortimer was not poisoned.”

“No, Mother. He was not.” That was safe enough to say.

“He died …” Morgause’s grin grew wider. “He died of dysentery. Just as his doctors said.”

Mordred chuckled. “He did indeed.”

“And you gave it to him.”

Mordred did not admit that — not out loud. But he was sure his grin told his mother all she needed to know.

And it was so simple, when you thought of it. Light wizards were excellent healers. None could marshal the powers of the natural world with all of its cures and remedies, and none could control the Sim body, better than they could. But if Light wizards could heal … then it followed that Dark wizards could hurt.

And they had hurt. Mordred was certain that there was nary a plague nor a pestilence in Sim history … well, no, he wasn’t certain of that. Dark wizards didn’t need to have a hand in every bout of the pox or dysentery that whipped through a crowded city or army camp. But the big ones — the ones that had felled city after city, the ones that had brought empires to their knees and flung Sim after Sim into the grave — those, he was certain, were the products of Dark wizards.

A plague — or, not a plague, but a simple disease — was so easy to make, too, when you had the proper ingredients. What those ingredients were varied from disease to disease. Some were passed through water, some through the air, some through blood and spit and semen. But if you got a little bit, just a little bit, of the disease-ridden whatever-it-was — then you could grow the disease, and experiment with it, and hone it into the perfect weapon to destroy either a single foe or an army of them.

The best part was that it was virtually undetectable to Light magic.

“And that is why you gave it to King Vortimer — is it not?” asked Morgause, tilting her head to one side.

“I–I beg your pardon, Mother?”

“Silly boy. You know I know what you’re thinking.” She patted his cheek and smiled. “You gave dysentery to King Vortimer so that you could be sure that no Light wizard would be able to tell that Dark magic gave him the disease.”

Mordred nodded. Constantine hadn’t understood why Mordred was so insistent on giving Vortimer a natural disease, but at the end of the day, he had shrugged and gone along with it — it mattered not how Vortimer died as long as he did. What Constantine did not know was that one of Vortimer’s doctors was the best Light healer in Glasonland — if only because Mordred had seen to that hiring himself and had not seen fit to tell Constantine about it. The doctor hadn’t suspected a thing. With luck, neither would Morgan, if …

“You mean when,” Morgause filled in for Mordred.

“Yes. When.” He took a deep breath. “Would you like a drink, Mother?”

“I cannot eat or drink while I am here.” She patted his shoulder. “But don’t you deprive yourself on my account.”

Mordred picked up his tankard and took her at her word.

“Now, tell me, my boy.” Morgause stepped behind him, practically whispering in his ear. “Tell me what you have in your desk.”

Mordred took a sip of wine. “The … thorn.”

Yes,” Morgause hissed. He could almost hear her smiling.

“It’s … not much. Just a bit …” He might as well be honest — but first he put a spell on the door to soundproof it. “A great deal of influenza. A particularly virulent strain of it. One nick of that thorn, enough will enter the blood …” Mordred took another draught of wine. “Even the young and strong would have difficulty surviving that. But an old man, borne down under years of care …”

“And a thorn! A thorn! Oh, how clever of you, my boy!”

Mordred smiled. It was rather clever. He was glad she had seen it. “Lord Pellinore used … a Thorn to destroy you. Why should I not use a thorn to destroy him?”

“Yes. I know! But tell me, Mordred … will he suffer? Will he feel all the agony I felt, wasting away in my cell, fearing and wishing for death in equal measure?”

Mordred felt himself slowly lower his tankard. That was something he had wondered often himself. “I … I do not know, Mother. This is … hardly exact. It was all I could do to ensure death — as much as I was able to ensure it. To ensure suffering as well …” He took a long swig of his wine. “I need it to be quick, Mother. Understand that. The moment he falls ill, you know Garnet will go running to Morgan. Do I think she will know that the disease was sent by me? No. But … given enough time, she could manage to cure him. If the disease moves quickly …”

“Then she cannot cure him. I see what you’re thinking.” But Mordred knew she was frowning. “But if only there was a way to make him suffer …”

“Lamorak will suffer enough for both of them.”

Silence. Then, “Ah. Yes. Lamorak …”

Mordred would not turn around to look at her. “He must die for what he did to you. You cannot argue with that, Mother.”

You cannot be so naive, Mordred, to think for a moment that he did anything to me without my eager and willing participation.”

Mordred bowed his head, his grip tightening on the tankard. “Do not test me, Mother.”

“Oh, I don’t mean to test you. I just want to make sure you’re thinking clearly. And I do not want you to think me a victim — at least,” she added, “not a victim of rape.”

“When–when did it happen?” asked Mordred.

“That is none of your business.”

“None of my business?” Mordred cried. “If it is not my business — whose is it? I need to know — I need to know because of Father! Was it before or after he died, Mother? Tell me that if you won’t tell me anything else!”

“I will not tell you that.”

“Mother! Father’s honor–”

“Your father is dead.”

“So are you!”

“No, Mordred.” Morgause stepped around Mordred’s other side. “At least — not the same way he is. Your father … he is resting now. He is at peace. His honor was never impugned, not while he lived. And it cannot be, now that he is at peace.”

“And how is that different from you?” Mordred snapped.

“I live on, you see.” Morgause smiled. “I live on in you. You know that I need to be avenged — and as long as that revenge remains incomplete, then part of me will continue to live and be part of this world.”

Mordred sighed and swirled his wine.

“I know–”

“Tell me, Mother,” Mordred interrupted, “if you were a free and willing participant in — in whatever you and Lamorak got up to — what purpose will be served in killing him?”

Morgause did not hesitate. “First of all, it will help destroy the Gwynedds — but I do not need to lecture you on that plan. I thought it rather clever, by the way. But to take down the Gwynedds — that alone is well worth the price of Lamorak’s life. But as for why he should suffer …” Morgause turned sad, soulful eyes to Mordred. “I died because of him. You know that, right?”

Mordred blinked. “Mother …”

“I wanted him. I won’t lie to you, Mordred, not now. After your father died — I wanted Lamorak for my husband. I was first to his bed, you know, so I deserved it if anybody did.” Morgause flipped her hair over her shoulder, just as a girl first reveling in her power over a man would. “And I was experimenting with magic, to make myself young enough to be attractive to him. But Dindrane found out. And she decided to stop me.”

Mordred blinked. That–that was the perfect explanation. For, though he thought–no, he knew his mother to be innocent–part of him had always wondered, Why? Why would Dindrane destroy her marriage and throw her children’s lives into upheaval to hurt Morgause? Morgause had never even been unkind to her!

But … but if she was acting to keep her brother from marrying Morgause .. she had always been far more fond of Garnet than Morgause …

“Is–is that why?” Mordred asked. “Why she made up that story about that boy? Why she got her father–why her father went along in her scheme?”

Morgause grinned. The torchlight behind her surrounded her head with a fiery halo. “What do you think, my boy?”

Mordred smiled in return.

But that was not the end of his questions. “What about Betsy? How did Dindrane get her to go along with her scheme?”

“She’s a weak peasant woman, Mordred. Do you think she would refuse her mistress — for, as your lady,” Morgause rolled her eyes, “she would be Betsy’s mistress. And …” Morgause sighed. “She was always afraid of me. Terrified, really. I … may have miscalculated with Betsy. There is a certain type of person, who, once they are afraid enough … they’re like a cornered animal. They will bite even the hand that feeds them.”

“So you think I should leave Betsy alone.”

“You took her husband from her,” Morgause shrugged. “And you have her just afraid enough — so much that she will obey you, but not so much that she will turn against you if she thinks she has a chance. You have achieved a good balance. I would not rock the boat.”

Mordred chuckled. “She’s afraid I will turn her husband into a zombie … Father Hugh all but told me so. Did you know that?”

Morgause grinned. “Did I.”

“So. That … let us see. That is the Gwynedds taken care of … the Pelleses … that leaves the Thatchers, and of course Morgan and Arthur.”

“Do not strike against Morgan unless you are sure you can win,” Morgause cautioned. “Even I never quite dared to go against her one-on-one.”

“Yes …” Mordred agreed. It seemed most politic. He was, after all, a stronger user of magic than his mother — but he would not tell her that. Besides, it was good advice. “But what I do to Lamorak will hurt Garnet — and what I do to Garnet will hurt Morgan. What I have done to Betsy hurts Accolon, and through him, so is Morgan hurt.”

“Good boy.”

“And anything I do to Arthur …”

“Will also hurt Morgan.”

Mordred turned away. “I am … not sure what to do about Arthur.”

“Take your time, my boy. They stumble that run fast,” Morgause pointed out.

“Ye-es,” Mordred agreed. He could feel tension slipping from his shoulders. It was good to know that there was no reason to rush things with Arthur. “And the Thatchers …”

Morgause raised an eyebrow at him. “Mordred. They were pawns in the scheme of others. Do you truly think it would befit your dignity to attack them?”

“Ash Thatcher’s woman intends to use the money that I was forced to pay to them as … seed money. She intends to see her children as freemen and merchants.”

“Well, obviously you cannot allow that to happen,” Morgause agreed. “But do not trouble yourself unduly about them. They are lower than the dirt beneath your boot, you know that.”

“Do I ever,” Mordred sniffed.

“I know you do.” Morgause petted his shoulder, then she leaned closer and kissed him. “My darling boy. You’re doing so well on your own. I didn’t even need to come and visit you, did I?”

“Per–perhaps not.” What else could Mordred say to her? He could not show himself to be so weak as to still desire overt affection, much less require it. He was a man and a nobleman, after all. “But … all the same, I am glad you did.”

Morgause did not answer. She only smiled at him. That smile looked no different than the smile she had had for him in his earliest memories.

“I …” I miss you, he wanted to say. But he could not. He could not show himself to be weak. And …

And what if she didn’t say, I miss you too?

So Mordred stood there like an ass, wondering what to say — until he saw something. “Look, Mother!” He stepped around her. “The dawn!”

For a moment he was eight years old again, the first time he had been allowed to keep vigil all the night of New Year’s Eve and ring in the dawn that would bring the new year. He eagerly turned around. “It’s here! Happy New–”

He stopped.

There was no one there.

He stared at the space that his mother had last inhabited. But–it made sense. Of course it did. With the advent of the new year, the Day of the Dead was over. And if the Day of the Dead was over …

Then his mother could no longer be here.

The sadness threatened to rise up and overwhelm him. He had lost his mother. Again. He would not see her for another year — if he saw her then. He hadn’t seen her since the night she died. She might not …

The sadness vanished as quickly as it had come. Because, in a flash, he realized what Morgause had come there to tell him.

A new year had come. He had fooled around long enough. There was work to be done.

And Mordred could hardly wait to get started.

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16 thoughts on “Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot?

  1. Oh, sweet zombie Jesus! Is it too much to hope that a dragon drops an anvil on his head?! He’s gonna kill Pellinore! He’s gonna kill Lamorak! He’s fucked beyond…

    I hope he doesn’t live long enough to crush Lyndsay’s dreams. To be honest I hope he pricks his finger on that thorn and kills himself, tomorrow. No wonder he winced at Delyth saying “you killed my father, prepare to die.”

    And nice use of the Morgause cameo. Although I will disagree with her about one thing. (Well lots of things, but one specifically.) Is Lot really at peace. I can’t imagine that unless simly heaven is a frickin’ awesome place that nobody ever wants to look out of, I can’t imagine Lot wouldn’t wanna know what’s going on with his children. And if he knows, he’d never be able to be at peace. Not knowing the fucking crankpot his son has turned into.

    You’ve forever tied yourself to that crazy old bag, Mordred, and it’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done. It’s going to destroy you. Even if it does destroy the Gwynedds, which I don’t see happening, not branch and root, you won’t live to gloat about it. You’ve already got one foot in the grave and you can’t see the roots snaking up out of it to pull you down into…

    • Yes, alas, Mordred is indeed fucked beyond … Or at least, he will be if nobody realizes what he’s up to and puts a stop to it.

      However, I somehow don’t think that Mordred would be handling the thorn without some kind of precaution. He wasn’t born yesterday, so I think the chances of him getting himself hoist on his own petard in this particular way are somewhere between “slim” and “none.”

      As for Lot being at peace or not … well, who knows if he really is. No, he’s probably not happy, seeing what Mordred has come to. But at the same time, Lot didn’t leave “unfinished business” the way Morgause did. He died a completely natural death after having a pretty good life. (Especially for being married to Morgause!) It’s only after he died that things with his family went straight to hell.

      And, if all of this isn’t a genuine visitation but rather a hallucination … then everything that Morgause says is simply what Mordred wants to believe. And why wouldn’t he want to believe that his father was at peace?

      But yeah. One way or the other, Mordred (and a lot of other people if he gets his way) is in trouble.

      Thanks, andavri!

  2. …holy shit. šŸ˜Æ

    So Mordred plans to covertly assassinate Pellinore, then kill Lamorak in a much more painful manner, then… well, I take it that an infant son of Lamorak would be less of a threat as head of the Gwynedd family than Aglovale would be? And also susceptible to uncle-induced corruption?

    And what does he plan to do about the Gwynedd women? Dindrane is one of the few non-magical people who possibly has a chance against him. Garnet in her wrath, if she suspects Mordred at all (which I’m guessing she would eventually, as would Dindrane), may be able to best Mordred magically, especially if she seeks help from Morgan and/or Jessie. And who knows what the twins will be capable of in the future? Also, if Mordred’s involvement in some planned fall of the Gwynedds became suspected, I doubt that Kay, or whoever Delyth marries (hell–especially if she ends up not being able to have children, and therefore ends up with a husband who indisputably married her for her), would stand for it. And of course there are Mordred’s own children with Dindrane, who as far as I’m concerned are far more Gwynedd than they are Orkney. (Actually, that might be a way for Nimue to wound her father in the future–legally taking her mother’s name.)

    (Also… I noticed that Mordred thought of his father in the first bit. Mordred’s totally wrong idea of what happened between Morgause and Lamorak aside, what did the Gwynedds ever do to Lot? He seemed to get along fine with Dindrane and Pellinore, and he was pro-Garnet/Lamorak. I’m guessing Mordred is mostly projecting here.)

    And oh, do I ever hope he can’t come up with a way to deal with Arthur any time soon, though I’m relieved to hear that there’s nothing on tap for the Pelles or the Thatchers as far as Mordred is concerned. Hmm… maybe if Constantine does win (which is looking likely at this point, if not inevitable), and does decide that Mordred is a threat, he could always seek to conspire with someone in Albion. And frankly, the way Mordred has been alienating everyone who might have been a useful ally at some point, I wouldn’t be surprised if whoever he chooses is only too happy to go along with it.

    Also, I doubt anyone else was seeing their dead mother walking around tonight. Mordred, get ye to a therapist.

    • The genius about leaving an infant at the head of the family is that Percival can’t really be head of the family. So that leaves the question, who will be in charge? Mordred could work with that kind of disarray and confusion.

      Mordred is ignoring the Gwynedd women, and he may be doing so to his peril. But it’s easy for him to discount Dindrane, Delyth and Dilys: they don’t have magic. (He doesn’t know about Dindrane’s bone phone. šŸ˜‰ ) Garnet might be a different kettle of fish … but Mordred never seemed to have a high opinion of Garnet’s … well, anything.

      As for Lot, the Gwynedds never really did much of anything to him … except if Lamorak and Morgause slept together while Lot was alive or soon after his death. That would be an insult to Lot’s honor and/or memory. Even though Mordred can’t bring himself to admit that his mother might have cheated on his father, he knows somewhere in his subconscious that that’s a strong possibility. Plus, why not find one more reason to be pissed at the Gwynedds?

      Constantine conspiring with Albion to take out Mordred? That’s always a possibility. But Mordred may come up with a way to continue to make himself useful to Constantine. Stranger things have happened!

      LOL! Yes, Mordred could definitely use a therapist. But I don’t know if I’d inflict him even on the Sim therapist.

      Thanks, Van!

  3. … Mordred, whatever the hell you’re drinking, you need to water it down.

    Cos that was not Morgause.

    Why would Morgause want Mordred’s perceived enemies destroyed? Morgause was there, she knows who to blame for what happened to her– and she knows who she thinks she blames. Morgause, even Morgause’s shade, would’ve urged Mordred to go after Morgan. After Garnet. After Jessie. After every member of that jury. And especially after Betsy Pelles and the Thatchers. And okay, sure, fine, Arthur and Pellinore, too. Kill them all, set himself on the throne of Albion. Absolutely. Then ally with King Constantine of Glasonland. Consolidate power. Arrange a marriage between the first appropriately-sexed grandchildren.

    Or just live forever, whatevs.

    That’s a Morgause plan for revenge. No slight too petty. Kill ’em all and raise the corpses as zombie slaves. And never, ever, ever ignore the women or leave them for last.

    No, Mordred is dreaming up his own revenge fantasies, because he’s holding Pellinore responsible (yes, he sentenced Morgause to death, but didn’t find her guilty, AND Morgause wasn’t executed), he’s holding Arthur responsible, he’s figuring Betsy has suffered enough and as long as the Thatchers stay peasants, they stay beneath his notice. This is based on how much he wants Morgause’s approval– Morgause would have him looking for ways to burn Apple Keep to the ground or blight Garnet’s womb.

    You need more sleep, Mordred. You’re hallucinating.

    • For a good part of this chapter I thought that was Princess Jessie in disguise.

      For another part I was thinking he’s crazy. Notice how she sometimes responds to things he was thinking….and he doesn’t call her on it?

      But then, if she lives in him….maybe it is some dark magic, slipping through the cracks on the Day of the Dead. Besides, I think she would be saying that sort of thing about those beneath her. She wants the nobles to get it the worst. Also she doesn’t want her son dead before he finishes the job she has for him.

      Then I’m back to thinking maybe he is crazy….

      • I buy that Morgan would say the Thatchers are beneath Mordred. Less than the dirt beneath his feet.

        I don’t buy that she’d see that as any reason not to set their tree, house, and whorehouse on fire.

        One of the thoughts Mordred talked himself out of was the idea that Morgause would harm a child, that Morgause would specifically target a bastard child. He’s got two illegitimate boys only a little older than Thorn, after all. He knows that just because a child counts less legally doesn’t mean that child wouldn’t be missed if it died.

        Morgause, on the other hand, thought it was totally fine to murder a four-year-old boy in order to gain a few years of physical youth. Morgause thought it was hysterically funny to murder her hippie sister’s peasant boyfriend, reanimate him as a zombie, and then wipe his memory for shits and giggles. Morgause thought it was perfectly acceptable to rape her daughter’s boyfriend AND that said rape would convince said boyfriend to dump her daughter.

        Morgause would’ve been steering Morgan towards revenge against Betsy (who betrayed her trust and then tricked her), Dindrane (who wiggled her way out of being blackmailed, the little bitch), Jessie (who attacked her), and especially Morgan. Especially eternally young and beautiful Morgan, who not only provided Betsy with the potion that took Morgause’s powers, she handed Morgause her own death in a bottle. At least she’d want the Thatchers sold into slavery in Reme.

        Mordred has read the Evil Overlord List (#4: Shooting is not too good for my enemies), but Morgause… Morgause was more of a ‘crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentations of their women’ kind of girl.

        • I agree. For a second when Morgause first showed up, I thought Mordred had found the bone phone, but after Morgause had been talking for a while… nope. The real Morgause would have acted first, on pure wrath, showing no mercy, then justified it later. I’m assuming that this is just Mordred’s perception of Morgause (which is interesting because she said that she was a “willing participant” in regards to Lamorak; I guess the denial on that front isn’t so deep-seeded after all).

          • I think Mordred is perfectly well aware that anybody who tried to rape Morgause would’ve been immediately inflammo’d, including Lot, and thus he had to find some other motive that set right with his internal logic and mental image of his mother. ‘Hurting Garnet’ would never have occurred to him (he doesn’t pay that much attention to Garnet), and plain old ‘wanting a young lover’ would’ve worked for, say, Aglovale, but ‘pre-planning a second husband’ sounds reasonable as long as you don’t examine it too closely.

    • You know, when I first planned this post (months & months ago), I wondered to myself — should this be Morgause’s shade? Or should it be a hallucination? You know, I won’t decide. I’ll write it the way I think it should be written, and I’ll leave it open for the readers to decide.

      Then I actually started writing the thing, and all I could think was, “There is no way this is not a hallucination. This is all coming straight from Mordred’s head.” So … I guess you all guessed/reasoned right!

      … I hope I didn’t break an author rule by saying that …

      (Although I have to ask, Chicklet — Jessie in disguise? Why would she do that? Her New Year’s Eve can’t be that boring!)

      But I did try to keep it a little vague. Like with Morgause’s speech about why she slept with Lamorak and how it related to how she died. Every sentence in there is true. Morgause wanted to marry Lamorak. (True — not at the time she slept with him, but when Lot had his stroke, Morgause settled on Lamorak has Hubby #2.) She was the first person in his bed. (True.) Morgause was experimenting with ways to make herself young. (True.) And Dindrane found out. (True.) She just made it sound like Dindrane found out about the marriage scheme, NOT the child murder. It’s the kind of thing that Morgause might very well say to Mordred — not lying, but not telling the truth either.

      And I think, the more I ponder it, that the reason why Mordred is fixating on the Gwynedds is that they, more than anybody else, broke the rules. They were connected to the Orkneys by marriage. Dindrane was an Orkney. They should not have been the ones leading the charge to arrest and convict Morgause — they should have been helping with the cover-up, if there was a cover-up to be had. And if there wasn’t, they shouldn’t have been plotting against the Orkneys. Not like this.

      In Mordred’s mind, everything and everybody else — the Thatchers and Pelleses, Arthur and Morgan, the du Lacs — pales in comparison to that “betrayal.”

      Thanks, everybody! šŸ™‚

      • Hallucination or dream or maybe even an unknowingly lucid dream, but… I won’t say it’s obvious by what Morgause said (because you’re absolutely right, I can see her trying to spin it that way), but more because… she was less Morgause As In Life than Morgause As Mordred Saw Her. The words are right, but the motives are…

        … Off. At least from the viewpoint of people who’ve read chapters from Morgause’s point of view.

        What does Morgause care about societal rules? She never saw Dindrane as an Orkney, an ally. Of course Dindrane would work against her. What woman wasn’t a potential rival to Morgause? What child too innocent to use as a weapon against a rival?

  4. When I read it I thought she was lying to him. She did lie to Mordred in her life. Him feeling her physically there when he kissed her cheek made me feel shakey about thinking he is nuts.

    Mordred is crazy makes a lot more sense though.

    I really didn’t think Mordred would snap. Delude himself, yes. Hallucinate about his mother? I thought he was more sound of mind.

    • Well, as I said above, I wanted this to be a bit vague about what he was experiencing. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that this was a hallucination. After all, why couldn’t he have a hallucination with touch and not just sight and hearing? The brain controls all of that.

      And Mordred’s brain is clearly not as sound as we (I) all thought it was.

      But it’s a very well-behaved hallucination. It only showed up on the one night that Mordred thought it was likely he would get a visit from his mother. As soon as the dawn came, the hallucination stopped. If he starts having these more often, then we’ll know he’s jumped well off the deep end.

      Thanks, Chicklet!

  5. Oh HOLY CRAP!! O.O

    He’s progressed to full-out hallucinations. *scared*

    No, I don’t want to believe that that’s the ghost of Mommy-Dearest come by for a visit. And I think I caught some cues that she isn’t. At least I hope I did. ~~ It may be wishful thinking.
    For a moment there I thought Mordred’s plan was to bring the witch back! *shudders* I’m so so glad that isn’t the case!
    Still, his plans are bad enough as they are. Mordred, you utter utter bastard! You haven’t wrecked enough peoples’ lives have you? I hope you die the most ignoble death anyone could possibly imagine! Preferably before you can harm anyone else!
    Seriously, somone needs to stop him! I don’t care who or how, just don’t let him get to Pellinore or Lamorak (or anyone else, ever again), please Morgaine! Have him trip over the castle’s resident cat and fall down the stairs, breaking his silly neck! Or yeah, create a portal, call in a dragon and let him drop an anvil on the ass’s head, as Andavri suggested! I’m all for anvil-droppage! Or anything else that will stop Mordred, really! ~~ Whatever karma I may have I’ll put in for Mordred’s plans being foiled before he can harm anyone and for him to then go the way of Mommy-Dearest! (Meaning: being stripped of power and then tried and convicted for his crimes. self-poisoning optional)

    I have hopes though that this chapter indicates he’s nearing his end. The more his sanity is slipping, the closer I hope that end is. Given the way he tried to ensure that Rosette and the children are taken care of I can only assume that a part of him knows he’s on his way out. Which I take as a good sign.
    It’s kind of a pity that at this point Mordred is beyond saving. Because that “counter-healing” is pretty brilliant. If only he could apply that mind to beneficial goals for everyone. But it’s too late for that. He crossed his Moral Event Horizon and there’s no going back. *sigh* Poor Garnet! Being the only sane (and adult) Orkney… šŸ˜¦

    • Yes, I believe he has progressed to complete hallucinations.

      Oh, if Mordred could do it, he would definitely bring Morgause back! But he has no idea about the bone phone. If he did … there would be trouble. Lots of trouble. Dindrane’s going to have to keep that phone well-hidden from Mordred.

      Trip over the castle cat and break his neck? Mordred isn’t poor Amy Robsart. If and when he gets his, he will come to a much more … dramatic end than that.

      Although a dragon dropping an anvil on his head … that would be interesting …

      Perhaps part of Mordred does know he’s on the way out. He’s playing a dangerous game. But he might very well intend to survive it — he just wants to make sure his family is taken care of if he doesn’t.

      But, as far as the counter-healing, look on the bright side! George is a Dark wizard too — and he has a brilliant mind. Dark doesn’t have to mean evil, after all. šŸ˜‰

      Thanks, Ann!

  6. What I was thinking about Jessie….

    This was a very brief idea when I was not finished with the chapter.

    Jessie has been trying to find out the truth about the death of a certain heir to the throne. It has been like a needle in a haystack. But she has a hunch, so she keeps looking even though it seems futile.

    So I was thinking maybe she had developed a new hunch that Mordred has something to do with it. She wants to know if she is on the right track. Another witch would know the night is special and that Mordred might expect a visit from his mother. So she uses magic to disguise herself and tries to extract information.

    This would explain why Morgaeuse seems off when she first starts talking. Mordred says something about it. It seems as if she does some quick thinking. Also she kept trying to get Mordred to talk about what happened. Like she was wanting the inside scoop. It seems to me that if she was watching him really she would know all that.

    I was just hoping if that was it that she wouldn’t get caught. I think if Jessie had done that and been caught, Mordred may have killed her on the spot.

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