Excalibur By Bernard Cornwell



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Excalibur By Bernard Cornwell

Chapter 1: Lady of the Lake

Merlin closed his eyes and pointed his finger at another mountain of rocks. They exploded into a thousand pieces! When he opened his eyes, all he could see was blue sky. Everything round him was empty and silent – the trees, the hills, the lakes. Slowly, a voice reached Merlin’s ears. It was Uther, the King of England, speaking in his castle miles away. Merlin was a magician with special powers to see, hear and know all things human.

Merlin took a magic crystal ball from the long, blue robe he always wore. He wanted to see Uther in the magic ball, talking to his brother in the castle. Uther was a strong man who had won many battles. Yet England was still divided by many wars.

“I have won enough battles to rule a thousand countries, yet England stands divided. What else must I do?”

Using his magic power again, Merlin shut his eyes and when he opened them again, he was in Uther’s castle, hiding behind a wall. He came out when Uther’s brother had gone. Uther was not surprised to see Merlin as his magic was respected and feared throughout the land.

“Merlin, why do you appear now when I wish to be alone?”

“Because I believe I can help you.”

“How? No one can stop our people fighting each other.”

“Excalibur can.”

Uther was puzzled.

“What is Excalibur?”

Merlin became very serious.

“Excalibur is the most powerful sword in the world. Whoever owns it cannot be killed or lose a battle.”

“Give it to me! I must have it!”

“It is not only mine to give. The Lady of the Lake must feel that you deserve it.”

Uther asked to be shown the Lady of the Lake so he could prove himself to her. Merlin agreed. He took Uther to a dark valley far from the kingdom, in which lay a crystal lake. Uther and Merlin stood in front of the still water of the deep lake. They stared at their reflections in its mirror-like surface.

“You must promise me something if I allow you to take Excalibur from the lake.”

“Say it and it is yours.”

“I want your first-born child.”

Uther looked at himself in the lake. He saw himself killing men and ruling with a power that had never been seen before. Since he had no children, it did not seem a great deal to ask. He gave Merlin his word of honour.

The water before them began to stir. A woman’s figure appeared below the surface of the water. Her hands rose from the water, holding the gold handle of the silver sword called Excalibur.

“Take it, Uther. It is yours if you want it.”

Uther stepped into the water, taking the magnificent sword into his hands. When he touched it, he was filled with a strange energy. He held it up to the sky, admiring the reflections of light on its silver surface.

Merlin watched the Lady of the Lake disappear below the dark mysterious water. He knew he must watch over the use of Excalibur, as the Lady of the Lake trusted him.

“You’ve made a promise Uther. Do not forget what it is.” Yet Uther had already forgotten. All he could think of, as he looked at his face reflected in the sword, was how strong and powerful he would become.




Chapter 2: Uther’s Promise

A few years passed, and in time, the Queen gave birth to a son. Uther had completely forgotten his promise to Merlin until the day Merlin came to claim what was his. He entered the chamber where the Queen was playing with her baby son. Uther followed behind. His face was deathly pale. The Queen saw by her husband’s expression that something terrible had happened. She rose to greet him.

“What is it Uther? You do not look well.”

He explained the promise he had made to Merlin. Igraine, the Queen, was furious.

“You fool! You would give up your own child for the price of a sword?”

Uther turned to Merlin.

“Please Merlin, I beg you, don’t take our child! I’ll give you anything else you ask.”

“You gave me your word of honour. The child is mine.”

And with that, he took the baby from Igraine’s arms. She screamed for the King to take the child back, but Uther was weak against Merlin’s powers. Merlin cast a spell over the King and Queen, which kept them from moving. When Merlin was gone, the spell went with him, so the King took Excalibur to the forest to find Merlin and his son.

Heavy clouds came over the sky, and it began to rain. Uther called out for Merlin as he moved through the forest.

The rain, and his wish to see his son, prevented Uther from seeing the thieves hiding in the trees. A thief jumped on Uther’s back.

“Give us the sword and we will let you live.”

Uther couldn’t reach Excalibur. He tried to grasp it, but one of the thieves stabbed him with a knife. As he fell, he touched Excalibur. It gave him the strength to rise and fight, but he was badly injured. He knew he was going to die, and crawled to the nearest rock to rest. The rain poured down on him as he called out to Merlin.

“Merlin! I have kept my promise. I will leave Excalibur in this rock, but you must make my son a king.”

Uther rose up with all his strength and pushed Excalibur into the rock right up to the handle. The King fell down on the ground and died next to that rock. Merlin appeared beside Uther.

“No man shall pull this sword from this rock unless he is the next king of England.”




Chapter 3: Arthur

For many years after Uther’s death, knights from all over the country tried to pull Excalibur from the stone, but none succeeded. They competed to see who was the strongest knight. When these competitions ended, the winner would go to the rock, with a crowd of people watching, to see if he would be the next king of England.

On one such day a very large man, over six feet tall, with broad shoulders and long dark hair stepped up to Excalibur to try to lift it from its resting place of eighteen years. The country had suffered during these years as there had never been one ruler to bring peace to the entire land. The crowd waited quietly as the tall, dark-haired man grabbed the handle of Excalibur. He pulled with all his strength, but the sword would not move. The man walked away, disappointed, as a new round of games began to see who would try the sword next.

“Arthur! Where is my sword? The games are about to begin.”

Arthur, the slave of a knight called Kay, was sent to bring Kay’s sword for the next round of games. Arthur had misplaced Kay’s sword, and, in a panic, he ran trying to find another sword for his master.

Arthur ran with fear to the rock where Excalibur stood. He had never noticed the men trying to pull the sword from the rock, as he was always busy serving Kay. Arthur pulled it from the rock and ran to his master, happy to have found a sword.

Everyone knew Excalibur from its gold handle and its silver blade. Arthur handed it to Kay, who stood admiring its magnificence.

“Arthur! Where did you get this?”

“From a rock, just behind the trees.”

The crowd around them held their breath.

“The boy. He’s pulled the sword from the rock.”

Arthur became uneasy, not knowing what he had done. Merlin, in his long blue robe, appeared beside the boy and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“This boy is the son of Uther, the last king of England. He is the heir to the throne.”

There was much whispering among the crowd. No one believed that this servant boy could be a king. Only Merlin knew, as he had made Arthur a servant to teach him what it was like to be ruled by other men. He believed that when the time came for Arthur to be king, he would learn from his master’s mistakes and therefore be wiser than his father, Uther. Merlin also knew that he had to prove to the people that Arthur was truly the King’s son.

He told Arthur to put Excalibur back into the rock. Arthur did. Merlin asked Kay, and any others who thought they were worthy of the sword, to try to pull it out. No one could.

“If this boy, Arthur, pulls the sword from the rock, he is the true king of England and you must do as he says.”

Arthur pulled Excalibur from the rock and held it up for all the crowd to see. The people knelt with respect. As he held Excalibur, Arthur felt the same power his father had once felt run through his body.

“With this sword, I will unite England into a land of peace and prosperity.”

With these words, Arthur began to fulfill his promise.




Chapter 4: Guinevere

Arthur stood on the wall above his castle’s entrance at Camelot as he watched a woman riding a horse, accompanied by men in armour, near the castle. She was dressed in white, with a green cape covering her arms and shoulders, and a hood hiding her face. She threw back the hood to announce that she was Guinevere, princess of Carmelide, daughter to the baron Leodegran. Arthur, charmed by the lady’s beauty – her red hair, fair skin and clear, green eyes – didn’t know why she had arrived at the castle. He only nodded to the guards to let her in.

Arthur went to hear what this beautiful woman had to say.

“Your grace, my father’s castle is under attack. He is loyal to your lordship, and he needs your help.”

“Guards! Send our best knights to the castle in Carmelide. I will soon follow. Prepare the table and some food for the lady and her men. She will stay here until her father is safe.”

“I thank you for your kindness, but I must return to my father. He is in need of my help.”

“Your loyalty to your father equals your beauty. I promise you, my men and I will protect your father and keep him safe.”

Guinevere thought Arthur had a strong, handsome face. She liked his quick, thoughtful decisions, and she agreed to stay.

Arthur rode to Carmelide where he and his men quickly defeated those who had tried to overtake the baron’s castle.

Baron Leodegran lowered the drawbridge of the castle for the King. When the two men met, Leodegran knelt before Arthur, promising his loyalty to the King and his support of a unified England. Arthur thanked him, and asked him to return to Camelot with him and his men to celebrate their victory.

As they rode to Camelot, Arthur spoke to Leodegran of his daughter, the princess.

“Guinevere does great honour to your family name, sir. I am overcome by her beauty and charm and I would like to make her my wife.”

“No man could wish for more than for his daughter to marry a king, especially one as noble as yourself, but I ask you only to speak to Guinevere. If she is in agreement, then so am I.”

They rode on in silence, with Arthur determined to find a time when he could tell Guinevere his thoughts.

At Camelot, they celebrated with a feast large enough for two kingdoms. The people danced, and musicians sang of the battles won and the hope that peace would soon visit the country. Arthur had a moment alone with Guinevere, away from the noise of the celebration. He told her that he had never seen a beauty like hers in all his travels through the countryside.

“What is more, your strength of character goes beyond my idea of a bride. Will you stand by my side, as my queen?”

He took her hand, and they stood for a moment.

“You have saved my father, therefore you have saved me. It would be unwise of me to refuse the hand of a man who is truly a king,”

They kissed, giving those in the castle even more cause to celebrate.




Chapter 5: Lancelot

Guinevere rode towards Camelot with Arthur’s knights riding in front and behind her. Her father was at her side. It was the day of her marriage to Arthur, and her white dress stood out among the shining silver of the knights’ armour and the green grass on the hills beside them.

They were on a winding road when they turned a corner and saw a tree on fire. They stopped, left the road, and climbed a hill to go around the fire. Enemies of Guinevere’s father, Leodegran, had set the fire, and they were waiting on the opposite side of the hill to attack those guarding Guinevere.

They were led by a man called Maleagant who once served Leodegran at his castle. He was in love with Guinevere, but she disliked him because she did not trust him. He was also the one who led the attack against Leodegran which caused Guinevere to ask for Arthur’s help.

As the enemies fought, Guinevere was left unguarded. Maleagant saw his opportunity and pulled Guinevere from her horse onto his own. She screamed but she could do nothing. He rode away quickly before any of Arthur’s knights knew what had happened.

A horseman stood alone on the opposite hilltop watching the battle. He saw Maleagant ride away with Guinevere. He did not know who Guinevere was when he rode after them, but his noble character would not allow him to watch injustice being done.

His name was Lancelot, son of the baron of Benoic. His father had been killed in one of the battles dividing the country, and when he heard Arthur had pulled Excalibur from the rock, he had set off for Camelot to offer his help in ending the wars in England.

Lancelot had to ride quickly to be able to watch Maleagant and Guinevere, but he was careful not to be seen. He wanted to know where Maleagant would take Guinevere.

Maleagant stopped in a clearing surrounded by large rocks. Lancelot hid behind the rocks, so he could surprise Maleagant. Maleagant tied Guinevere’s hands and feet, as he wished to rest after the long journey. He stood before Guinevere, staring at her with the dark, distrustful eyes she had first seen and disliked in him.

“If you do not have what you desire in this world Guinevere, you must take it, one way or another.”

As he said this, Lancelot appeared on the rocks above him. Only Guinevere could see him. She looked at his kind, brave face and he assured her with a nod of his head that he was there for her.

“There is a man who is about to change the world you think you know so well.”

“If you mean that tool you wish to call your husband, you are less intelligent than I thought.”

“There are more men than the king who believe in what is true and just.”

At that, Lancelot jumped from the rocks above Maleagant’s head and knocked him to the ground. Without a helmet, without knowing where Lancelot was, Maleagant was dead before he could draw his sword.

“I thank you for saving me, but perhaps there is one who will be even more thankful. We were to marry today. He is the King, Arthur.”

“I was on my way to Camelot when I saw what happened. I am honoured.”

Lancelot knelt before Guinevere. She was charmed.

“Stand sir. I am not yet a queen and do not deserve such honour.”

“Yet your beauty alone should have told me that one day I would serve you.”

“Tell me your name, and we will ride to Camelot together, where I’m sure the King will be as pleased as I am with your feelings.”

“My name is Lancelot, son of the baron of Benoic. I am at your service.”

They rode back together to Camelot where they were met outside the castle by Arthur and his men. When Arthur heard what Guinevere had to say, he approached Lancelot.

“You have done me a great service, brave sir, and I wish to do the same for you.”

“My only wish is to help your highness unite this land where men braver than myself have been killed for no reason.”

“Kneel, Lancelot. From this day forward, you will be Sir Lancelot, the most favoured knight of the King of England. Together, we will unite this land.”

Guinevere watched as Lancelot knelt and Arthur touched each of Lancelot’s shoulders with Excalibur. She knew that these two men would always be close to her heart.




Chapter 6: Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain

After peace came to England and people were living in harmony, Arthur decided to establish a symbol of the country’s unity which would help keep the unity and peace they enjoyed. He invited all the barons of the castles in England who had remained loyal to the king during his fight for peace to come and sit at a round table Arthur had specially designed. At this table, all men’s opinions were equal and matters on how to keep peace and unity in England were discussed.

Sir Lancelot sat to the right of Arthur and Sir Gawain sat to the left. They were the bravest and most noble of Arthur’s knights, and Arthur put complete trust in them. Sir Gawain was jealous of Sir Lancelot. He knew Lancelot was Arthur’s favourite knight because he had been the first to be knighted by the King.

Lancelot was said to have a pure heart. He had no ambitions for himself, only for the King and Queen. Gawain did not believe this. He thought Lancelot, like all men, wanted to be King himself. If Lancelot were King, Gawain thought, he would have a Queen as beautiful and virtuous as Guinevere.

Arthur was called from the castle to visit Guinevere’s father, Leodegran. Arthur asked Lancelot to guard the Queen’s tower while he was gone, as Lancelot was surely the best swordsman in England.

Sir Gawain gained the trust of one of the Queen’s maids. He asked her to give a letter to the Queen which he said was from Lancelot. In it, Gawain wrote that Lancelot was in love with the Queen, and that although Lancelot did not want to betray the King, he would like to talk to the Queen in private.

The Queen sent for Lancelot the moment she read the letter. Lancelot, unwilling to leave his post, was grateful that Gawain was there to watch the tower while he spoke to Guinevere.

The Queen was very direct with Lancelot. She asked him to explain the letter.

“Although it is in my name, I’m afraid it is not by my hand.”

“And your heart?”

“My heart is at the service of the King and Queen.”

“Do you love me Sir Lancelot?”

“I love you as my Queen and as the King’s wife.”

Guinevere was satisfied with Lancelot’s answers, but she was surprised to find that her own heart was moved by his nobility and grace. She asked him to sit with her to play a game of chess. Lancelot trusted Sir Gawain to keep his post, at the door of the tower.

The king returned, surprised to see Sir Gawain at the door of the queen’s tower.

“My King. I saw the door unguarded and so I have been guarding it myself. I am sure the Queen is safe, for I have heard laughter from her chamber.”

Sir Gawain couldn’t have planned it better. But, as the king arrived at the Queen’s chamber, the Queen and Lancelot had reached for the same game piece at the same time. Their hands touched. Guinevere lightly held Lancelot’s fingers. Lancelot raised her hand with his.

“Will you kiss my hand before you return it?”

“As my Queen, I will…”

Arthur kicked the door open. Lancelot stood up, reaching for his sword. Arthur thought he saw them holding hands. The expression of embarrassment on Guinevere’s face gave Arthur more need to worry.

“You left your post.”

“I was called.”

“Silence! You left your post. Now, do as I say and attend to your duties!”

The love Arthur felt for Lancelot and Guinevere hurt him as he was now not sure the love was being returned.




Chapter 7: Morgan Le Fay

Merlin would often go to the island of Avalon, where a young and very beautiful woman practised the art of magic Merlin had taught her. Her name was Morgan Le Fay, and she could change herself into any shape, and heal all illnesses. Yet this did not satisfy her. She wanted to cause evil and disharmony in the world. She thought this would make her truly powerful.

“You are young and foolish, Morgan. You possess the greatest power there is. Yet, you want to destroy it.”

Morgan begged Merlin to explain how evil is caused. He agreed because he wanted her to understand human pain. Merlin took out his crystal ball. In it, he showed Morgan what had happened between Lancelot, Guinevere and Arthur.

“Evil is created by forcing a man, or a woman, to concentrate on a part of their character which it is better to forget. You see that man does himself enough harm without our involvement.”

Morgan was not satisfied. Arthur’s anger, and the possibility of Lancelot’s desire for Guinevere, lit an evil fire in Morgan’s heart. When Merlin left her, Morgan turned herself into a falcon and flew to Camelot. She circled Camelot until she saw Lancelot and Gawain riding their horses through the forest. With a strong wind, she blew the leaves on the forest floor into the air around her, as she changed forms again. This time she took the form of Guinevere on horseback. Sir Gawain and Sir Lancelot were stopped by the wind and leaves which temporarily blinded them. They sat on their horses, wiping the dust from their eyes. Then they saw the beautiful Guinevere riding towards them through the forest.

Guinevere told Gawain to stay with the horses and the servants while she led Lancelot by the hand to a clearing some distance away, but still where Sir Gawain could see them.

She told Lancelot his touch had moved her so much that she couldn’t take a step without thinking of him. If he would hold her, if her cheek could touch his, if he would kiss her, she believed that she would be tree of this desire and could devote her life again to the King. Lancelot was torn between his feelings of loyalty towards the King and an unexpected desire to take Guinevere in his arms. He thought if he kissed her, just once, he would satisfy his desire, as well as the Queen’s, and then he could remain loyal to the King forever.

They held each other and kissed while Gawain watched with excited and open eyes. Morgan left Lancelot and the forest as Guinevere. She flew through the air as an eagle and dived into the sea as a dolphin. When she returned to Avalon, she was satisfied. True power, she felt, was now hers.

Gawain reported to the King what he had seen, and the King called Lancelot before him. Lancelot, unable to lie, admitted everything.

“Your seat at the round table shall remain empty as a reminder of your disloyalty and disgrace. I banish you from Camelot. You have betrayed me.”

Lancelot accepted his punishment as his heart told him that he had been wrong. Sir Gawain was pleased with himself.

“Now I will be the King’s favourite knight,” he thought to himself.




Chapter 8: Mordred

Guinevere could not believe what she heard when the King told her what Sir Gawain had seen. She insisted she had never ridden out to the forest without her husband.

“Lancelot has admitted to everything. He has been banished.”

“He is lying! My lips have only touched one man’s, and here he stands before me, willing to listen to a traitor rather than his own wife.”

“But Sir Gawain said…”

“Sir Gawain is a fool. Look into his eyes and you will see that he does not know the difference between truth and fantasy. Call Lancelot here and we will settle this matter. Until then, I will see no one.”

With that, the Queen left for her chambers. The King was alone, thinking, when Merlin appeared. Merlin knew that Morgan Le Fay had caused this trouble, but he also knew Arthur had made a great mistake. Not asking Guinevere what had happened showed a lack of faith. Sending Lancelot away would cause disharmony in the kingdom and throughout the land. Merlin told Arthur to call the knights to the Round Table so he could speak to them. When the knights were seated around King Arthur, Merlin stopped at Lancelot’s empty seat.

“The circle has been broken. Evil, whatever its cause, has touched one man, therefore it touches you all. I have seen the future. England will once again be at war. There is a truth, which must be discovered before the country can be united. It is your duty to find this truth.”

Merlin rolled his crystal ball across the table. Gradually, it became a ball of blinding light until it stopped in the centre of the table. Inside the light, a golden cup with a long thin stem appeared.

“Observe it, all of you. It is the Holy Grail, and it holds the secrets of truth and justice. Find it, and peace will return to England.”

Thunder shook the walls of the castle and it began to rain. Merlin and the Grail had disappeared. It became dark. Arthur ordered his men to search for the Grail which would again unite England. He felt the absence of Lancelot as he sat next to his empty seat, and he too left the Round Table.

Merlin believed he had made a mistake by showing Morgan the weakness of humans. He returned to Avalon to see if he was right.

Morgan was training a small boy to fight like a warrior. She had stolen him as a newborn child to raise him as the new leader of England who would carry out her wishes.

“Morgan, you’ve disobeyed me. It must stop.”

“Stop? But do you not see this son of mine, Mordred? He will one day rule with a power you have never imagined!”

Merlin raised his hand to destroy what he had helped create in Morgan, but she turned herself into a mirror, and his spell was reflected back on him, banishing him from the earth forever.

Morgan turned back into the woman she was, and looked at her stolen child.

“Mordred, now nothing will come between you and the throne.”




Chapter 9: Message

England now became more divided than it had ever been, as the round table had broken up. Violent battles in the countryside divided the duty of the King’s men between searching for the Holy Grail and defending the King’s rule. Arthur stayed at the castle more often as he felt there was something missing in this search for the truth the Grail was supposed to offer. Guinevere went to speak to the King because she understood his trouble.

“It’s Lancelot. You have acted unfairly. Until you find him, and peace within yourself, the country will never be united.”

Guinevere’s mentioning Lancelot’s name filled Arthur’s heart with feelings of guilt. He was so overwhelmed by those feelings that he was finally able to accept that this was the truth for him.

“I have also wronged you, my Queen! I shall ride from the castle and not return without Lancelot, so that we may be united again in our love for one another.”

Arthur called the last of his men together to ride in search of the most honoured knight in Camelot, Sir Lancelot. As the men passed a certain tree in a valley, the tree changed into the form of Morgan Le Fay.

“Your end is near, Arthur. My time is just beginning.”

Morgan rose in the air as an eagle, and she flew to Avalon to meet her starving son. Mordred was hungry because he had never met another human, and his mother filled his head with ideas that he was a great leader whose men would follow him to the ends of the earth. His voice was rough and undisciplined, as he had never spoken with others. He yelled to the sky as the eagle approached him.

“I will die if I do not kill and become King!” Morgan landed beside the evil person she had created. His eyes searched hers like an animal’s and he breathed heavily as she spoke in his ear.

“It is time, Mordred. You shall be King! Climb onto my back and follow me to your glory!”

At that moment, it was no longer Morgan, his mother, who stood beside him but a large, shining black horse with wings. Mordred mounted the animal and let out a sound like no one – human or beast – had ever made. It shook the whole island and Mordred, on his horse, flew over the waves to England to claim what he believed was his.

Merlin saw all of this, but from a world, most people would never know. He had banished himself from the earth by not respecting the art of magic he had been taught to use wisely. Yet he knew that Morgan could still hear his voice. He had a message for her, and he was about to deliver it.




Chapter 10: Arthur Fights Mordred

Two separate forces inhabited the land of England. Arthur, in the east, fought and won battles to reunite the country. Mordred, in the west, destroyed whatever stood in his way. It was the two men’s destiny to meet. Their battle would determine the fate of England.

A river separated Arthur and Mordred’s men as they prepared to face each other. They agreed to fight to the death at dawn, with the winner taking complete control of the country. Mordred fell asleep that night as his mother was talking to him of his future victory. Arthur slept thinking of not being able to find Lancelot.

Arthur dreamed that he saw Lancelot waiting for him. Sir Gawain was there watching them. Each time Arthur approached Lancelot, Lancelot moved away, warning the King that they were being watched. Arthur also saw a woman running. He ran after her, but before he could touch her dress, she flew up into the air, leaving him staring at the empty sky. He saw Merlin’s face and he woke up terrified. The woman was not Guinevere, he knew it, and he began to realise that he had been cruelly deceived.

Arthur went to where Sir Gawain lay asleep. He woke him, touching him on the chest with Excalibur.

“Sir Gawain, how deep was your jealousy of Sir Lancelot?”

Sir Gawain could not move. He was held paralysed by Excalibur’s force.

“As deep as my love for you, my King!”

Arthur lifted the sword and walked to the river bank. A strip of golden daylight broke the horizon. The sun had risen, and Arthur promised to fight in the name of Sir Lancelot, a knight whose faith and honour he had judged unfairly.

Morgan woke in a place where there was no sun, only clouds of smoke. She called for Mordred; she ran through the smoke, only to find herself again in the same spot, surrounded by the same rising smoke. She tried to change herself into something which would take her away from this awful place, but she could not. Her powers had left her. Merlin’s voice spoke to her.

“Those who do not respect the magic they practise are condemned to wander worlds where their powers are useless. I see worlds no man or woman could imagine. You will see a world no person would want to.”

As Merlin’s voice faded, Morgan realised that she was completely alone – forever. She let out a horrible scream into the emptiness – a scream which only she would hear.

Mordred was uneasy without his mother at his side. Yet his animal instincts and his desire for blood led him into battle. The fighting was the most violent England had ever seen. Knights who once had been united now fought each other. Knights on horseback, in the river below, killed each other without feeling. The river turned red with their blood.

Mordred fought his way to the other side of the river. Arthur had been waiting for him. When he saw Mordred approach him, snarling like a dog, Arthur drew Excalibur. They fought, and though Mordred was trained well, he was no match for King Arthur and Excalibur. His true strength had left him when his mother disappeared.

Arthur stood over Mordred’s wounded body, about to put an end to Mordred’s evil existence. As he raised Excalibur above his head, a knight from the battle approached. It was Lancelot, who had returned to defend the King. Arthur stopped and stared. His heart leapt with joy. Mordred quickly picked up his sword and wounded Arthur deeply in his right side. Arthur took Excalibur and put an end to the ugly life which was Mordred, before he himself fell to the ground.

“My King, it is I who have injured you. You turned your head for my benefit.”

“Lancelot, I am dying, but there is no better sight than you before I do. I ask your forgiveness for not believing in your loyalty.”

“You have it and anything else I can offer you.”

“Take Excalibur to a dark valley far away from the kingdom, far from sight and sound. When you reach the crystal lake that lies in it, throw the sword in its water. I was not the King it was meant for.”

“If that is your wish, it is my command.”

Lancelot rode through the night. As the sun rose behind the mountains, which surrounded the lake he stood before, he threw Excalibur into it with all the strength in his body. As he watched it fly through the air and into the lake, his eyes widened as he saw a woman’s hand reach out of the water to grab its handle. It held it straight above the water for a moment, then pulled it fast below.

Lancelot understood then that no man in his lifetime would unite all of England. He left the lake hoping that one-day one man would.







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