The deathly silence felt exceedingly stifling, and for once in a long time, Shirou felt lost.
Mordred was his enemy, but she looked just as stunned and horrified as he expected. That attack hadn't been done of her own volition.
"What is this?" He muttered to himself than Mordred or Morgan before hardening his resolve.
Lips thinning, he disregarded his limp left arm and dashed forward; Rule Breaker manifesting once again even as Mordred blocked and parried.
Her movements were stiff and lacked substance. Mordred was clearly fighting whatever impulsions were assailing her, and this was enough for him to easily avoid her attacks and get Rule Breaker within range.
He stabbed her, unable to just prick her gently due to the motions of her body.
Blood splattered as Rule Breaker's edge pierced through skin, a pained grunt escaping Mordred's lips as she fell limp.
Mordred stopped fighting back completely.
What was going on? Based on Mordred's reaction, Rule Breaker was obviously working to dispel whatever enchantment Morgan had placed.
Carefully, he withdrew Rule Breaker and stepped back with an air of caution, keeping himself facing Mordred's direction and observing.
Rule Breaker was just as sharp as any weapon. The wounds it left behind from where he'd stabbed Mordred dripped with blood, staining her armour and whitening the complexion of her face.
"D-Don't come near," Mordred warned stiffly as her body suddenly forced itself back onto its feet. Caliburn was held tighter around Mordred's shaky grip. "It's happening again."
Shirou cursed inwardly, unable to come to terms with what was happening, and feeling pained from Mordred's injuries which he himself had caused.
Staring fixedly at Rule Breaker, he grimaced before dismissing it, as it obviously wasn't working.
How was this possible? It seemed to defy everything he understood about magecraft, granted he was never much of a researcher.
"Bewildered? Confused?" Morgan's voice echoed provocatively. "You want to save her, but from my perspective it looks like you're trying to kill her. Why don't you try stabbing her a few more times? You truly are a fool. If it were me, I would long since have abandoned dear Mordred. Look at her. Isn't she just weighing you down? Who in all of this land could be your rival, yet you allow yourself to have such a glaring weakness in your kin and family?"
Mordred seemed to shrink in on herself with each and ever point stated as if she was agreeing with them. In fact, she did agree with them. She wasn't worth this much suffering and heartache.
"Just kill me," Mordred spoke out hollowly, flinching from the unholy glare Shirou sent her way.
He opened and closed his palms, unable to devise a means to extricate himself from this problem.
"What do you want?" Shirou furrowed his brows and relented, willing to hear out whatever Morgan had to say. Still, there was a line he wouldn't cross.
Almost as if it was planned, a new Geis appeared before Shirou's eyes, the terms of which were laid bare for him to read. At first, he wanted to immediately refuse as he'd learned to cherish himself by knowing the importance, he had in Arturia's heart, but a voice whispered in his mind allowed him to reconsider.
He looked thoughtful, before growing decisive.
Mordred who was nearby suddenly widened her eyes as she glimpsed the terms.
"D-Don't you dare!" Mordred strained against herself, veins popping over her neck and temples and reddening her features.
She was panicking beyond all measure of doubt.
No. no not again.
It was that same look, that same expression as the one Agravain had made prior to his death.
The terms Morgan had offered obviously fell within Shirou's acceptance range, but to Mordred, it was unbearable.
"I-I won't forgive you if you follow those terms!" Mordred didn't know what else to say as she was grasping at straws.
Shirou glanced at her, and his expression spoke volumes.
When he looked at Mordred, what he saw before him was just another person that he needed to protect.
"No! NOOOOO!" In Mordred's trembling grip, Caliburn was propped up. A legendary blade like itself was more than qualified to pierce through the hide of even Dragons.
Gradually, Shirou approached Mordred step by step.
"Staaay awaaaay!" Mordred felt like her world was crumbling apart, the sound of his footfalls damning in her ears.
Shirou stopped with Caliburn's tip placed over his chest, watching the way Mordred kept shaking her head back and forth, her body refusing to listen to her.
"Forgive me, but I can't fulfill that request."
He smiled at her as if everything would be okay; that everything would be fine, but to Mordred she felt the final threads of her rationality snapping.
"Don't blame yourself."
Shirou stepped forward.
Caliburn pierced through his body where it gouged through his heart with a horrifying gurgle that caused Mordred's eyes to dilate in utter denial, her lips quivering.
Shirou stared at Mordred, blood seeping down from his lips before he brushed the back of his hand over her pale face. "You're free."
A Geas was formed upon a signed contract, and with the contract's fulfillment, the caster and the recipient would be bound by those terms. This time, Shirou had no intention of nullifying this contract with Rule Breaker.
Morgan would have to hold her end of the deal and no longer seek to harm or meddle with Mordred's affairs or ruin her days as a magus forever.
A life for a life.
Shirou glared into empty space. "Release her," he demanded weakly, gasping for breath.
Mordred was acting as if she was one stabbed across from him.
A resounding laugh echoed in response to Shirou's demand, but the authenticity of the Geis wasn't fake.
"I will uphold my end of the bargain." Morgan's tone held no sentiment of guilt, but was instead elated. "You've served your purpose well, dear Mordred."
Mordred couldn't speak, her throat constricted from an outflow of repressed emotion primarily revolving around despair.
"Truly, you are a noble man Sir Ashton," now Morgan sounded mocking, almost like rubbing salt in a wound. "What if I told you that the concept that controlled dear Mordred wasn't as intricate as one may believe?"
Shirou glanced up stiffly in the direction that he assumed Morgan to be. It was hard to tell due to the echoing of her voice.
Drawing amusement from his reaction, Morgan elaborated further.
"There was no real counter to the Ashton Crest's magic resistance to begin with other than to forcibly control Mordred through a roundabout means. In this regard, Sir Ashton, you've over estimated my capabilities. What I did was nothing complex, and in truth, I was ninety percent sure you would have caught on, but you obviously didn't. For a Magician, aren't you a little too unpolished with the basics?"
Shirou had no reply.
"Yours is a True Magic able to create even Noble Phantasms at will that can shatter the foundations of any thaumaturgic spell or incantation. If I'm correct in my observations, that dagger in your hand is one such Noble Phantasm. Don't deny it. I'm correct. I Know I am."
Smugness exuded from all around.
"In all rights, that Noble Phantasm can be the bane of the Moonlit Society, but what is the foundation of thaumaturgic theory? Is it the spell structure? The incantations? Or perhaps a grounded source? All can be considered correct, and that dagger seems to specifically break all thaumaturgic spells back to zero or to their origin, but have you considered what that 'zero' is? That zero is free unwoven energy such as Od or Mana, the fuel of thaumaturgic processes. Of course, without directive, this energy is rendered useless. Your dagger however, utterly destroys the directive found in my spell and enchantments, and this is true of all spells cast on Mordred when you stabbed her. Ordinarily, this would be enough to set her free. It's practically impossible to recreate a new spell in a short time frame let alone activate a pre-existing spell whose pathways were likely destroyed, but there is a way."
Suddenly, Shirou recalled the little hint Morgan had given prior regarding Mordred's circumstances.
"The thing is, dear Mordred is unique in that she's a homunculus incubated in my womb. We share the same blood, and the connection between her and myself biologically and magically, is without question. There is no need for pathways or spell structure. You need only understand that a homunculus is predisposed to obey their creator's will whether they like it or not, otherwise they'd be considered defective. Mordred was born of my blood and magical energy. You may have destroyed the structure of my spells, but my magic remains within her, able to be used when not in contact with your dagger."
And there was the crux and the solution.
"A Magician? You hardly seem to know more than a Third-Rate Magus!" Morgan was truly filled with derisive mirth at present. It was like finding out a that an upstanding senior or co-worker wasn't as talented as they seemed.
She directly gloated.
"If you were smarter, you would leave that dagger stabbed into Mordred, regardless if she bled out or not, effectively disrupting any attempt to control her, but you hesitated because you cared whether she lived or died. In the end, was your concern worth it? Good riddance, there's no longer a reason to stay. With the disappearance of the Geis, it means that you've fulfilled your end of the contract and will surely die."
"!" Shirou coughed out blood and grunted, listening helplessly as Morgan's voice faded and signaled her departure from the eastern citadel.
Only he and Mordred were left, and Mordred was already in hysterics when his knees gave out on him and his chest slid down Caliburn's length.
"W-Why?!" She demanded, shaking her head bitterly in denial, choked sobs escaping her lips as her trembling body pulled out Caliburn and attempted to support his weight.
Why indeed? His features twitched.
He willed his arms forward, and hugged Mordred tightly with what strength he had left. There was a need to explain further, but he feared that straining himself would only kill him faster.
He thought of the secret Morgan had divulged to him and reaffirmed his decision. He had no regrets.
Morgan had had every opportunity to extract what she needed from him in the past, so he was no longer surprised at this point.
Mordred. Dear Mordred. Studious Mordred…You've suffered long.
"What father would not act when their child is suffering under torment?"
Mordred stiffened at his words, droplets of tears rolling down her cheeks.
It was hard for him to speak; he could feel the blood travelling up his throat, nearly making it impossible. Nevertheless, there was still things that he needed to say. To make her understand.
He looked up at Mordred and shakily placed a bloodied hand on her cheek.
'You who did not know what it meant to be loved.'
'You who should have had been loved.'
He would not ignore her nor leave her for dead.
Not now. Not ever.
"Wh-What?" She uttered in shock.
"Think about it, isn't the answer simple? Your affinity with the Ashton Crest, Efret's loyalty, and even Morgan's twisted admission," he hugged Mordred tighter, feeling her trembling even through her thick armour. "You. Are. My Daughter."
His head drooped low as the pallor of his skin seemed to pale, his chin resting over Mordred's left shoulder. His life was fading away like a leaky cup of water.
"S-Stop talking! B-Blood, h-how do I stop the blood?! Help! HELP! There has to be someone nearby! Anyone!" Mordred felt weakness assail her. She wanted to run and look for help, but at the same time, her experience in war told her that no one had ever survived this level of injury.
Shirou on the other hand grimaced.
Help coming now was unlikely. Morgan had ample preparation to set the stage for everything.
His vision began to swim, his consciousness fading, but he persisted regardless.
He shook his head, his vision so clouded that he couldn't even see the mix of despair, anguish, and self-loathing present within Mordred's eyes. To him, it didn't matter how injured he was. He just wanted- no; he needed Mordred to understand just one more thing above all else. Even with the dubiousness of her birth, she was still wanted and cared for.
He looked her straight in eyes, mustering all of his will so as not to stutter.
He smiled with all his heart.
From a father to his child.
"I love you." He said before falling entirely silent.
His body stopped moving, the strength of his hug around her slackening as his arms fell by his side.
Mordred's pupils dilated, her lips quivering.
She was hyperventilating.
He was her father.
All this time.
…And not once had she called out to him.
She looked down at the blood on her own hands, then at Caliburn, before tossing the Sword of Choosing away as if burned.
A lump was forming in her throat.
I just wanted to be of use to you.
She shook his body weakly.
I wanted to be at your side.
I can't do this. Not like this. I-I can't!
No answer. He was gone.
She pressed her face against the groove of his shoulder and broke down crying, whimpers wracking through her body.
Finally, she just sat there with Shirou in her arms staring soullessly ahead into empty space. This was when part of the wall crumbled from the earlier fight, revealing a treasure room in the citadel.
A sword was stored there kept safeguarded until a time where the wars would come to their end.
This was supposed to be the sword that would usher in a new age of peace and prosperity.
Imagining Morgan wielding that sword at the usurpation of her father's position drove Mordred insane.
All Mordred could see in the hollowness of her gaze was red, Caliburn left forgotten.
When all the tears had dried up, there was only resentment.
She slinked out of the room, dragging a stolen Clarent over the ground.
Arturia knew that her anxiety was getting the best of her, but it felt like her heart was about to give out on her. It was this sort of inexplicable premonition of foreboding that worked its way through her bones, and it wasn't helping that the sword Shirou had obviously projected over Camelot had suddenly vanished.
"Arturia, don't do anything-"
Emily's warning fell on deaf ears as Arturia had already left, leaving everyone behind to share a look and resolve themselves.
Meanwhile, Arturia felt desperation creeping in from the recesses of her mind. She was already rattled from the unknown condition of her children, and now the prospect of her husband's safety was the final straw that broke the dam of her rationality.
She had no plan of action; no feasible difference from before, and yet she was running right back to confront her husband's Heroic Spirit.
Wasn't she just setting herself up for failure?
This sentiment was obviously shared by Archer since his brows twitched upon seeing Arturia's approaching figure.
"You're back so early?" He sounded aloof, but there was concern in his tone, as if he was doing his best to dissuade her from her current course.
Arturia wouldn't have it.
Her lips were pursed, and there was a single-minded drive in her eyes. Her bullish and headstrong personality to tackle all problems with her sword was shining in the lime light.
"I'm getting through," she declared more to convince herself than Archer.
Unexpectedly, Archer seemed to oblige her, neither criticizing her or sneering. Instead, there was only acceptance, as if he knew that this would happen. No, perhaps he did know this would happen.
Heroic Spirit or not, in Archer's form, Arturia still saw parts of her Shirou.
She failed to save him from Morgan's scheme in whatever time-line he originated from, but that didn't mean that their care for each other meant nothing. She could see it in Archer's hesitation. Her Shirou was still in there. He had to be.
"If you must, then so be it, but I will try to stop you," Archer spoke grimly, a pair of familiar black and white sabers forming in his grip. "But if you do make it past me, I recommend checking the eastern citadel. Morgan was intent on setting something up there."
Arturia nodded, noting the information down to memory as her features softened.
No matter what, she was heartened at Archer's admission since it showed that the two indeed had a connection.
This was all the more reason that she no longer hesitated to cross the distance between them in order to try and bypass Archer and into Camelot.
Even if he acted against her, her Shirou would never willingly deal her a heavy hand. This she believed with all her heart.
She took this bet, this gamble without hesitation despite the grimace on Archer's face.
As expected, my Shirou is still in there.
Low and behold, Archer intervened immediately. Yet knowing Shirou's capabilities, it spoke volumes that Archer would personally intercept her rather than shoot her down with one of his stronger swords. Most damning of all, she felt no murderous intent on his person, rather, his concern was evident.
Just as she readied herself to somehow combat Archer in sword play and force her way through his defence, movement alerted her to the presence of others.
Endless gratitude welled up from within her at this moment, causing her to recall the days before she'd met Shirou or anyone back in Bristol where she was all alone training to be King.
'Do you see this, papa Ector? You were right all along.'
Morgan's methods were fundamentally different from her own.
'I-I've made really good friends.'
Status does not mean authority.
'I was never alone.'
Loyalty is in the heart.
"Your opponent is us!"
Palamid deftly intercepted Archer's blade with two of his own, his eyes growing bloodshot from the strength behind Archer's swing and quickly losing ground. "Son of Wolfred!"
"I have a name!" The Son of Wolfred grappled Archer's back, careful to avoid Archer's blades by trying to force Archer into an armlock. The Son of Wolfred's expression hardened when he felt the impossibility of the task, but he didn't give up. "You were the first to beat out my untoward behaviour in the past, but today I will defeat you and finally have the pride to stand proud outside my father's shadow! You're not going anywhere nor will you stop the Queen!"
"Well said!" Palamid endured the pressure and maintained a sword-lock with Archer, his other hand drawing his second sword for his two-handed style. "I never managed to beat the Queen in swordplay as a child, but considering that the Queen looks up to Sir Ashton, if we defeat his Heroic Spirit, then it would also count as my win."
"You guys," Arturia felt a swell of emotion, but there was no time to dwell on such sentiments.
"Hurry and go!" Emily yelled while channeling an abrupt stream of wind to throw Arturia over Camelot's outer walls, over Morgan's gathered army, and directly to Camelot's castle grounds. "Don't look back and leave this Shirou to us to handle as former residents of Bristol and war buddies!"
Wordlessly, Arturia resolved herself, inwardly gratified beyond all measure. "It's Shirou. I've never defeated him with his abilities. You all should know him well enough, so don't die! That's an order from your Queen!" Arturia couldn't help but shout back.
Thereafter, she could no longer see Emily, Archer, Palamid, and the Son of Wolfred in the distance over Camelot's outer wall.
What mattered to her right now was her family.
She wouldn't waste the chance given to her by her friends.
As she neared the ground, a ball of wind surrounded her and mitigated her impact, leaving a small crater under her feet.
She didn't forget the place Archer had informed her to check.
With her familiarity of Camelot's castle, it didn't take her long to arrive on scene. Moreover, Morgan had dispatched practically all able-bodied men to support the gathered army outside. As a result, Camelot's interior at the castle was practically empty.
There was no one to stop her.
Entering the eastern citadel, the first observation she made was the thick stench of iron and blood that was practically everywhere. Her nose twitched, her senses heightening in preparation for any danger.
However, what she found clattered in a pool of red within the center of the eastern citadel was something that she never would have expected.
"Caliburn?" She muttered, her heart palpitating wildly. What was it doing here?
The last she recalled; Mordred was in possession of it... and all this blood.
She quickly shut off her current train of thought. She refused to even acknowledge it, silently consoling herself from a single key aspect.
There was a lot of blood, but there wasn't a body to be found. Instead, there was a trail of bloody footprints on the floor along with sharp grooves as if someone was dragging something sharp.
Following the path with her eyes she could tell immediately that the person was heading to Camelot's central area in the castle.
Call it coincidence, but she just so happened to see a familiar figure through one of the castle's open windows.
She saw Mordred roaming in Camelot's inner palace, seemingly storming violently through room after room.
As she was too far away, Arturia couldn't make out much details past the open window, but if she could see Mordred, surely, she could call loud enough to get her attention. If it was Mordred, then she might know what had happened in the castle, to her kids, and even Shirou.
"Mordred!" She called with a bellow.
However, Mordred didn't seem to hear her call out, and by then it was too late.
Damnit, she's gone.
Taking one last look at the eastern citadel, Arturia rushed to chase after Mordred.
"…I'll kill her…I'll kill her."
Red, the colour of blood, was all that Mordred could see; her eyes vacant yet suffused with unbridled murderous intent.
Where are you?
She shoved a door open, glanced inside the room, saw nobody, and then repeated the action over and over again to the point that she'd long since lost count. Her mind was numb; her fingers constantly trembling; her emotions so on edge that the sides of her temples were tingling non-stop from the pressure of just not screaming out.
Camelot was a large castle, and its many halls and viewing galleries were enough to accommodate numerous chambers. By estimate, it would take a good ten minutes to go from one side of the castle to the other, and this was only at the ground level of its outer walls. There was still the middle area followed by the inner area at the center of the citadels.
She'd been searching from room to room for a good half-hour now.
There were dark circles under her reddened eyes, and her complexion was pale. Gobs of dried blood and scratched armour reflected her almost delirious state of mind.
The month in captivity hadn't boded well for her condition, yet regardless, she just didn't care anymore.
Her efforts finally led her to the oaken doors of Camelot's grand hall at the King's chamber which she promptly kicked open, her gaze narrowing dangerously.
There she was, seated on the King's throne.
"Mother," her tone was deceptively calm despite the flicker of outrage in her expression. "That seat does not suit you."
Mordred was shaking, no longer from fear, but from an emotion that superseded it from the memories this place evoked from within her.
"Mordred, you are the King's Guard. There's nothing wrong if I order you to take it easy, right?"
Her lips quivered.
"What did I tell you if you ever have any problems?"
She recalled his smile;, his care and considerations.
"What do you take me for? I'm here, aren't I?"
…But now you're not.
She shuddered, vacant gaze focusing on Morgan and rapidly contorting with a chilling iciness that went bone-deep as red lightning crackled from Clarent's blade.
"As my father's child," Her voice echoed in the expanse between her and her mother; her hands trembling from how tightly she gripped her sword which she pointed forward. "I'm going to kill you!"
Mordred watched as Morgan leisurely stood up from her father's throne and regarded her without a hint of dissatisfaction or acceptance.
There was only indifference.
"You are a tool that has accomplished the task of its making. In turn, you're finally free of me. Shouldn't you be elated, unfilial daughter of mine? Leave while I'm merciful. I suppose I owe your contributions that much at least," Morgan offered a single ultimatum, but it was nothing more than provocation to Mordred's ears.
Her head was buzzing, a bout of light-headedness assailing her. All sound seemed to shift into a muted droning until it was impossible to take any longer.
"Shut up! SHUT UP!"
A streak of red-lightning arced past Morgan's face, blowing a crackling hole into the far wall and causing Morgan to tense in alarm. The wayward daughter that had always feared her mother's wrath had grown a backbone.
"ARE YOU NOT SATISFIED WITH TAKING EVERYTHING AWAY FROM ME!"
Mordred sobbed, the floodgates shattering as her pent-up grievances and regrets overwhelmed her.
"I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!"
The sheer emotion may have moved anyone.
Mordred was grieving, no; perhaps it was more accurate to say that she was in denial like anyone would be given her situation. Everything had fallen apart like frail shattered glass. Her sanity was practically hanging by a hair's breadth at this point.
Yet in the face of it all, Morgan asked only a single question without any consideration.
"Have you screamed enough?"
Mordred gradually shut her mouth, grief shifting into uncontrollable fury. The complexion of her skin had practically reddened everywhere as if steam could exude from her at any time. This was the unconscious activation of a property she shared from her Dragon Attribute.
A Magic Core, something that far surpassed the limitation of mere magic circuits.
Mordred's Magic Core began to burn, embers drifting in the air from the heritage of House Ashton.
The dragon will wake.
Her untapped power surged.
The fires will rage.
Her demeanor shifted completely. This battle was to the strong, and she would cower no longer.
Shirou had never wavered in being her shield to ward off the wind and rain, just as a father's back could be as firm as a mountain.
For my father.
The very hands that enabled the murder of her cherished King, she could not absolve herself of her sin which smeared the very oaths she'd taken. She knew what she was.
A Knight of Betrayal.
I am yours no longer.
Embers scattered into a storm of heat and lightning, the crest of House Ashton flaring on the back of her hand as the roar of a wounded Dragon echoed from the magic aura around her.
Her Magic Core channelled the power in her body and released it all at once by instinct.
"!" Morgan's stunned features reflected from Mordred's pupils, her figure appearing by Morgan's in an instant.
"You don't deserve mercy."
Clarent came crashing down, barely missing Morgan's hide by virtue of a rotating magic circle. However, the red-lightning hits its mark and singed off Morgan's veil and part of her sleeves before blowing her back.
"Tch," Mordred shifted, her foot digging into the floor and pivoting for a horizontal strike, never letting up.
She charged and charged again, swinging without abandon, Clarent releasing smouldering gouts of red-lightning tinged flames.
The grand hall splintered and cracked, deep fissures forming in the hard stone.
"What's wrong! Fight back!" Mordred sneered, letting go of her right hand's grip on Clarent to punch down on a torrent of wind magic and vault over it.
Her leg came up into forward kick which would have shattered Morgan's pelvis had she not blocked in time.
Mordred was a third-rate Knight through and through.
There was no real technique in her blows and swordplay. Rather, she was barbaric, unexpected, and erratic. It was hard to predict what she'd do next, and coupled with the strength of her pedigree, it was no mistake as to why she was considered King Arthur's equal in legend.
Morgan didn't want to admit it, but she could no longer deny it: she was feeling pressured.
"You are acting like a child who doesn't seem to understand the workings of this world! Do you think I've not been where you are?! Helpless, infuriated, and vengeful?!" Morgan had enough, throwing back her arms, she activated a whole array of magic circles across the entire hall.
They hovered in the air, rotated over the ground, and each was emitting a horrendous amount of magical energy.
"This life isn't fair!" Morgan derided with derision. "Nothing is fair, and so if you want to obtain what you desire, you must do so with your own hands and means!"
Morgan snapped her fingers, producing a crisp sound that opened a hole beneath Mordred's feet leading into a dark chasm which Mordred didn't dare take lightly.
"You should be thanking me. I did you a favour!"
Another magic circle flashed, creating a suction force which sought to pull Mordred in, but she reacted quickly, bloody wars fine-tuning her quick judgement skills.
"Clarent, Blood!" Mordred cleaved downward, using the expelled energy in her swing to forcibly knock herself away and destroy half of the magic circles in the air.
Morgan merely snapped her fingers again, and the magic circles that had been destroyed were replaced by new ones.
"Did you not hear me?! I did you a favour!" Morgan lamented, her words nothing but the truth in her own mind. "Without King Ashton, and with my younger sister's incompetence, I could make you King under my command! You'd live a life of luxury without care for anything. Yet instead of gratitude, you come barging in here intent on matricide. Truly, familial ties, friends, and even bonds are nothing more than cold attachments that seek to weigh you down."
Through the haze of emotions in her mind, Mordred felt that familiar twang of regret, not born from Morgan's words, but from her own experiences.
"Mother, you're wrong." Tears streamed down from Mordred's eyes even as the frequency of her swings grew more and more erratic as she spoke and lost her composure. "You're wrong! Mr. Ector would always leave sweets behind after sword practice because he knew I'd refuse them if he offered them to me directly; Gawain would scold me every time I acted reckless; Gaheris would watch out for me in battle; Gareth would always encourage me from the side; cold as he was, even Agravain would-" she choked up at this name, swallowing down the lump in her throat. "He gave up his life for me!"
With each name spoken, the strength and speed behind Mordred's attacks increased, preventing Morgan from speaking out anymore hurtful barbs.
Mordred didn't want to hear them and their bitter undertones.
"And d-dad…papa was my light."
Memories came to mind, happy ones. The more she remembered, the more she lost her calm knowing that those days were gone.
"He wasn't cold. He was warm. His kindness; his compassion; his understanding and unwavering faith and support in me, they were what saved me!"
"I should be grateful that he's dead solely for the prospect of succeeding him and becoming King? I don't want it! Not like this!"
Mordred wasn't paying attention to her surroundings anymore. She didn't even hear the sound of the grand halls large oaken doors creaking open. However, Morgan certainly did.
"Qualifications to be King? Without my father's help, Caliburn would have never been wielded by me! It would have never chosen me because I'd only wished to be King in the past in order to be recognized rather than to lead our countrymen into prosperity! I had no right! You had no right! Papa was the King, the real one with the Queen by his side to bring our country into a bright future."
Mordred was grieving in the midst of battle. She knew this, but once she started speaking her resentments, they just wouldn't stop. Her vision focused more and more on Morgan intent to stab her as a feeling of helpless and rage assailed her.
"You had no right to force him to his death! YOU HAD NO RIGHT TO KILL MY PAPA!"
The shout was almost a sob in its own right.
For a moment, Mordred's legs grew weak, her misery at the present circumstances getting the best of her.
A suddenly blast of magical energy did not fail to use the opportunity to smash into her chest and sent her tumbling across the hall where she stopped her momentum by stabbing Clarent into the floor.
"It's your fault! It's all your fault!"
Mordred was unperturbed despite the agonizing pain her body was in. She'd likely broken a rib in that tumble.
"Ah, but wasn't it your fault that King Ashton is dead?" Morgan replied goadingly.
Mordred nearly spat out the blood rushing up her throat from the earlier blow out of anger, but she was observant enough to detect that Morgan's words weren't directed solely on her.
A dull clanging noise echoed from the entrance of the grand hall where Arturia stood standing in a daze.
Between the lines
"Do you not have anything to say to me? I made one carless remark. You weren't supposed to take it seriously!"
"It worked, didn't it? I don't regret it."
"You're hopeless. Just keep still for now, and let me see what I can do. At the very least, it will take a day until you're stable."
"I can't wait that long. I'm still needed now."
A figure began hobbling while the one left behind pursed her lips, feeling utterly helpless.
"…You suicidal fool."
Thanks for reading!
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King of the Lonely Peak
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