I can see it in your eyes.
You judge me. You conclude me unmerciful.
Why? Was it because I decided swiftly, without hesitation to condemn them both to death? Or was it because I would not be swayed by pathetic emotional appeals?
It disquiets you. It makes you believe I have no heart; no understanding of innocence or guilt; no compassion. Why should a boy die? What would pardoning one inconsequential life matter? Have I become such a king that there is no room left for a blameless child to be spared?
Why not indulge my son who would reign with benevolence? And my ward who had grown so attached to one with wide, doleful eyes? Does her humanity not move me? Does it not prick my conscience and contrast what I have become?
Let me assure you. I am steadfast in my conclusion. The boy should have died as his father did. Let history be the final arbiter of my choice. No good will come of this.
Arthur and Morgana – they appealed to the singularity of the instance. One man? One small boy? What would it matter? Benevolence to an enemy is the mark of weakness. Show the slightest flaw and be seen as prey. Camelot has enemies who blend with allies. One often cannot distinguish between them and some times they are one and the same. The best position to take is that the rules apply to all. All will benefit from the rules. It is simple; clear. Consistency is strength. They would think of the boy and I? I would think of Camelot.
One day Arthur will be King and only then will he understand my choices. It takes the full mantle of a crown before one grasps how delicate is the balance of order. Too far either way and there is chaos. It is hard-fought to achieve and can disappear in one moment of inconsistency. Who knows what will tip the scales?
Morgana is under the illusion that being so frequent in my presence gives her understanding of command. She mistakes being in the audience of a king with being a king. There is a profound difference in responsibility between the two. She does not bear the weight of ruling over a large territory with thousands of people. She cannot possibly comprehend what it means to make choices where the consequences reach out into the future – going from weeks to months to years – and having those choices affect the lives of every single man, woman and child who would give me allegiance. When she stands in front of an army to face an enemy – knowing that men will die under her command, then I will consider her counsel.
Peace is precious. It is priceless. The people of Camelot - my people - are safe. They are happy and well-fed, with some measure of choice how they live their lives. They have consistency of law and predictability enough that they can conceive of a future for themselves and their families.
It is my sworn duty as King to keep that peace.
I *am* a merciful king.
The axe was sharp.