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A New Beginning
There laid the king, his face once filled with jubilance and youth, now streaked with gnarled age. By his bed side sat his only remaining companion, Gawaine. His queen Gwen had died during child birth of his only son. His brother, his faithful, dearest brother Kay, was killed in defending Arthur himself, when Morgause showed up with her army of angry Orkneys and assaulted Cadbury so many years ago. Of course, Merlinnus and Morgause were both now long gone because of the effects that their magicks had had on each other.
“Where is he? I must see him now!” came a shriek from the hall, shaking the window panes. Arthur looked up clutching his clammy forehead and looked to see what had been making the racket. In the doorway, he saw his one and only son, Richard. As Richard entered the room, Gawaine came to one knee with his head bowed acknowledging his entrance. That is what Arthur had always liked about Gawaine, he would be respectful and kind to Arthur until his very last breath. Arthur managed to let out a broken, battered smile to Gawaine, and then turned towards Richard, his eyes fogging up when he looked at him.
With one small gaze Richard could tell his father was in the worst condition possible, and before any words were spoken Richard’s knees buckled and he fell to the floor with sorrow. Without a sound Richard started weeping and the tears fell quietly onto the floor.
At that moment, Gawaine could not stand to be in that solemn situation any longer. He swiftly got up and walked out of the room without a word. As he climbed the spiraling stair case, he wondered if this was all his fault. He knew any words to Arthur would be rejected and would be denied. However, if Gawaine could have been more careful perhaps he could have seen Agravaine’s plotting and his mother’s own blasphemy. Surely, all of the fighting and the assassination attempts took years off Arthur’s life. Surely.
As he entered the room where Merlinnus used to work, he saw Gareth, the new mage. After his mother had raided the castle, Gareth had insisted on becoming the new mage, and Merlinnus, with hesitation, eventually decided to teach him everything he knew. Cutting straight to the point Gawaine blurted it out, “What can save King Arthur?” Just like Merlinnus, Gareth hesitated, then was incapable of giving Gawaine a straight answer, and instead conveyed a rather foggy, clouded message Gawaine had to decipher: “If it is the gods will for Arthur to die, then mere mortals have no control.” Gawaine stood there without expression, then left as quickly as he had come.
“Son,” Arthur sputtered as his speech became slurred and breathing became heavy.
“You must lead the people after I am gone, you must go and be a king.”
I can’t, I can’t, I just can’t, Richard thought to himself. Richard couldn’t believe what he was hearing. His father, his own father, was now looking at him as if he were speaking his last words. He had admitted death; Richard couldn’t believe it, since he had seen his father defeat death so many times before. He could not believe that his father was acknowledging to saying such a thing.
As Gawaine entered the room once more, he saw Richard bent over Arthur, tears streaking down his face. He gazed at Arthur, the handsome face he had once known. Swallowed up by darkness and was now fighting to stay conscious.
“Son, you must, I have little time and you must fill my role,” Arthur pleaded.
Just then Gawaine saw something he had never seen in Richard before, his face sternly changed. It was a characteristic Gawaine couldn’t recognize. It was understanding, it was enlightenment.
Richard solemnly looked his father in the eye and said two words.
After that there was an eerie silence where no one spoke. Undisturbed by other visitors, the king, his remaining knight and his son sat in stillness.
A few moments later the king’s heavy breathing became quieter and quieter until, it was no more, and he was at peace. Arthur’s crown was passed down to his son Richard, and he became the rightful king.