As proud as an eagle's scream IP: 220.127.116.11 Posted on March 22, 2018 at 00:04:57 AM by Morgana
"Are you unwell, Sister?" Mordred asked her, his voice laced with concern.
Morgana looked up from her plate and set her fork down on the table cloth. She'd been pushing the same small pile of peas around for the past five minutes. Her brother stared her down, his intense blue eyes trying to bore their way to her soul. Shaking her head she removed her napkin from her knee and set it down on the table with a sigh.
"No," Morgana reassured him, smiling warmly, "I was just thinking."
It had been a while since they had last eaten a meal together. They were usually joined by Gaiane, occasionally by Loholt or various courtiers the king had pressing business with.
"Feel like sharing?" Mordred asked, taking a sip of wine from his goblet.
Morgana watched him. How did he do it? His expression was soft, his eyebrow tilted endearingly upwards in a sign of obvious concern, even his eyes suggested worry and care. Where was the coldness she'd seen in him in her vision when she'd touched the knife that had killed Arthur? He had vanished as quickly and completely as he had made himself known. To all intents and purposes Mordred behaved like the boy, man now she supposed, she had always thought he was.
She had been so wrong.
Yet even now, when she knew what she was looking for she simply couldn't see it.
"There's a woman in Oliford," Morgana told him, reaching for her own goblet, "with three young children. Her husband was a guard here when...when everything happened and...well...she's a widow now. She's really struggling to get by, and..."
Mordred held up a long-fingered hand to stop her in her tracks.
"She can work here," he announced as the serving boy stepped forwards to clear his king's plate. "I'll let the housekeeper know to expect her. There are a few women in the kitchens with young children, they manage them between them during the day. She can stay in Oliford or find space here."
Morgana did her best to smile. "Thank you, brother," she said, reaching out to squeeze his hand, "I appreciate it."
If only her other ghosts were so easily laid to rest. She thought so often of Arthur, of their mother, of poor Tristan out in the forest. She looked out the window whenever it rained and hoped he was safe and sheltered. She worried for Mace, dreaded anything happening to him because of her, and oh how she missed him. Losing him, being forced apart from him had felt like losing a limb.
She needed a distraction.
Pushing back her chair Morgana rose to her feet. She approached Mordred and leaned down to peck him gently on the temple.
"I'm going down into the yard to shoot," she told him as she stepped away again. "Send someone if you need me."
The cool breeze was welcome. The castle was always so stifling, she felt like the walls were closing in around her. She wasn't a prisoner, was free to come and go, but she knew she was watched. Every action, every word, every thought had to be carefully managed at every moment. She couldn't even trust her brother not to spy on her mind as she dreamed. It was draining, exhausting, but she couldn't let him see any of it. She had to seem normal, had to make sure Mordred saw the reality she wanted him to.
Kraar perched on her shoulder as she collected her bow and walked into the centre of the arena. Morgana pulled her blindfold from her belt, placed it over her eyes and knotted it at the back of her head. She took a steadying breath and allowed part of herself to break free and pass into her familiar. The world shifted into comforting avian sharpness. She still shot better when she used the raven's eyes.
Morgana loosed five arrows in quick succession, each one finding the centre of the target. It felt good. She could feel the muscles working in her arms and shoulders, her breathing slowing, the ground pushing back against the souls of her feet. It was pure escapism.
The sixth arrow thudded into the bullseye.
Morgana paused at the sound of familiar footfalls and lowered her bow. She knew it was Sapphire before the girl even had chance to open her mouth.
Could she not have a moment's peace?
Sighing, she removed her blindfold and threaded it back through her belt. Morgana left Kraar's mind and returned her bow to the wooden stand on her right. Approaching the fence she slapped Sapphire's hand (an utterly bizarre ritual the girl insisted on for reasons beyond Morgana's comprehension.)
"How's everything going?" she asked, keeping her tone casual. "I'd started to forget what you looked like." Her mouth twitched in the shadow of a smile and she leaned against the gate post.
When Sapphy jumped straight to the point, Morgana raised her eyebrows. She didn't like the sound of whatever it was. Nothing good ever came from the mouth of a teenager after they told you in advance that you had to be cool with whatever was coming next.