the fifth and final chapter
This story would probably have taken another two chapters. One with a Lady of the Lake and Marten conversation in which they would discuss why Mab has to die and how vague they can be about this in order to be viewed as goodie. And a finale between Marten and Mab. I would have to make Mab overconfidently euphoric, maybe vodka induced. Little fairies tapdancing on her. They would argue, go to the lake, argue some more, drink, reach an understanding and make a deal.
But this would not be fitting. I don't like going too OOC with the Marten character or Mab for the sake of a happy ending.
I present you with my new plan.
The result: It is no masterpiece but it will do to have an ending to this story.
Mab waited patiently in the shadows for the time that she could strike and make Marten see the error of his ways. She had a long wait to go.
Meanwhile she kept a hand in politics. Gracefully winding potential rulers around her fingers. She switched kings quite often for they lacked many talents for kingship. Vortigern had proven himself too big an idiot to listen to a word she said. The odds had been in his favour, but he lost the battle against that Christian twerp Uther. This had been a minor set back. It was not difficult for Mab to prove to the entire country that king Uther was mad. He had a natural knack for it, no doubt inherited from his father king Constant. His royal line ended there.
Eventually she lost her interest in the king switching business. Everything turned in her favour and human politics became surprisingly dull.
Marten did not return to her and claim his place as king of Britain. A place, she might add, he was not deserving of and would not do as well in as she had intended him to. Her spell to make him a great ruler and warrior at birth seemed to have gone completely out of field. He did not get involved in politics at all. Neither did he openly defy her. This wasn't ignoring he did, for he acted as if there was nothing there to ignore in the first place. This was so much worse than being ignored. Not existing. She would have to make him think of her, notice her just once to get a reaction. Mab would have something to work for if she knew what he cared about. She knew he had cared for Ambrosia. Ambrosia had survived for a few more weeks after Mab's friendly visit. Marten had taken care of the old woman until she died. On her deathbed Ambrosia swore she would never forgive Mab for not showing up there. A dying wish that did charm Mab to a smirk.
Queen Mab waited for more years, but time did not matter to her, when she found a way to make Marten return to her. Then she thought better of it. She had tried dragons and other beasts, he befriended those. She was reminded of that one time, that day many years ago when Marten had just left and she came up with a fully worked out plan, a threat actually, concerning the lady Nimue. It was brilliant. She had known this plan would work. If Marten took enough interest in the matter. She could not predict if he would … She held herself back that day for one reason alone: she did not want to confront him. To spend time on him, even if this would benefit her cause, sickened her to the stomach. She resented seeing him so much that she ignored her newest perfect cunning plan. Instead of wasting her valuable time on that failure, she continued putting human kings to good use.
So the world turned and turned again, the rain fell on the just and unjust alike, men and women were cut down like wheat to be born again strong. Several time fillers later from the mouth of a more poetic could-have-been-Marten, Mab finally succeeded in losing interest in the reluctant wizard who effortlessly ignored her and whom she ignored with much more effort and the occasional anger attack expressed in griffins in return.
She no longer needed the man Marten had become. She made new plans. She would make a new champion.
Mab had cursed the young Arthur at birth. He was Uther's son conceived by his lust for the lady Igraine. The lady in question had died from rape trauma. Her husband had been too Christian and close to the throne to be allowed to live by Mab. The mad king had come in handy. Mab's influence over the crown had been strong then. It was a pity mad kings don't last very long. It's their instability. One day they can be singing dancing, the next they suddenly kill themselves without reason. Logically she replaced Uther by another somewhat more sane man she could control. She hadn't given Uther's secret bastard any thought until three kings later the current king rebelled against her when she made the very wise decision of executing more Christians to stop them growing in numbers. It was them she sought out the bastard heir. Arthur had grown up hidden away with farmers. He was a simple man with no religion, a few brain cells and a willingness to follow her ways like a sheep. In truth she could have taken any beggar boy and called him the lost heir. He would do. She put Arthur on the throne. For tradition's sake she would make him mad as well in good time. By the time he was muttering insane threats to his subjects like his father did, her own champion would be ready to claim the throne. He would be of the royal mad blood as well.
Mab was training him. Camelot did not know of his existence yet but they soon would.
Marten was forgotten.
Until one unusually sunny day, one so sunny it made all Britons, even goddesses, ill at ease…
"Are you coming, Frik?"
"One moment, master Marten!"
Frik heard Morgan sing in the other room. "I feel pwetty ow so pwetty! I feel …"
Marten entered Tintagel Castle. The wide door made his posture more intimidating than he intended to be.
Marten strolled in. His old friend Frik nervously waited inside. "Wonderful to see you again, Master marten. You haven't changed a bit. Tall as a tree. I am taking a lady friend with me. She will be here any moment.
"You found love, chap?"
"You'll find someone. You are young and you have magic in your blood."
Marten shrugged again with a smile.
A woman in bright robes and crazy hair hurried into the room. "Fwik hurry up!" she shouted. "before the crone…"
"Frik!" There could be no mistake who that banshee scream belonged to.
"Too late." the woman pouted.
"It's her purple majesty." Frik sighed.
Mab narrowed her eyes. "Are you going out, Frik?"
"Yes, madam. I do apologize, madam. It will not happen again madam, with you knowing about it."
Marten had smiled at Frik and unnoticeably hesitantly at Morgan as a welcoming. Mab hated what a mature and responsible first impression he gave to people. He appeared more trustworthy, more normal than her. But then that was what she had wanted.
At Mab he glared for a brief moment when no one else saw or when they chose not to see, the glare was strong and unashamed then she was gone from his eyes reduced to 'unseeable' to him after having registered her presence. Marten also noted a pair of hostile eyes lurking in the shadows behind Mab. The hidden hands were toying with a glistening knife. He cast the shadows a dirty look of disapproval.
How childish he was inside. It was infuriating to Mab.
He came across as such a nice and easy-going person. Not at all the type that would crush your crystals behind your back. But he would. He would trash all her crystals the moment she by accident gave him the opportunity just because he doesn't like magic. He would almost professionally manage to remain traceless, blameless. He had this some vague stubborn manner of ignoring combined with this talent of being pleasant company or at least leaving a pleasant impression. Queen Mab did not want to strike a deal with Marten now. He would be nice if it suited him and if she let him in he would destroy everything. A cunning man, as she had wanted him to be. He had a cunning she could use, but it only served himself. If only she had never made him.
Queen Mab gave Frik reproachful orders he cringingly tried to sneak away from her muttering faint replies.
"This is Morgan," The gnome attempted to get out from under Mab's prying look.
Morgan flung out her hand. "I will get the cwown. Frik pwomised it."
"Morgan wants vengeance on Arthur for the murder of her father by Uther."
Queen Mab left Frik's quivering side and hovered towards the youth in the shadows.
"And Mab wants to put a new king" his head gestured towards the young man "young Mordred on the throne. I believe you are filled in completely now."
Mab's sparkling hand hovered in Mordred's neck.
"You are going to be king, aren't you my sweet?" The young hyena grinned happily.
"Oh get a room." Marten's voice resonated.
Mab gritted her teeth and stalked forward.
"This is Marten." Frik quickly offered Morgan an introduction in the hope of distracting everyone. He attempted not to feel discouraged by Mab's glaring face.
"The dark lord." Morgan gasped. "Mawten Asmodom Vilijn. He who must not be named, I know all of your names! Twevor Delgome that is Islandic, Anton Hewt Gweek, Mark Neelstin that name had something to do with Fwankenstein wouldn't I be gweat in a Fwankenstein adaptation, Thomas, Tom Widdle of couwse, Tom Elvis Jedusor, Valedwo, Melsudows, Venster. My personal favourite is Womeo JR." She clacked her tongue and gave him a wide eyed stare. "Why aren't your eyes slit?"
"Morgan, my love. What's come over her?" Frik stammered.
No one reacted.
They left Morgan in her own world and Frik alone with his concern.
"Why did you come back, Marten?"
Marten continued to ignore her. Queen Mab circled around him, taking him in. It seemed Morgan's behaviour had disorientated Marten, if only for a second a glitch had been found in that talent of his he so often relied on to make friends in any situation. This crazy woman his best friend dated was simply out of his mental comprehension reach. Such a disturbance might just be what Mab needed to get through to him.
"You could have been so much more."
Morgan sighed, her eyes fixed on Marten as well. She gave her dreamy stare in blissful unawareness of the world around her. Mab's stare thrived on tension and control.
Fortunately for Marten he had little to no problem with being stared at. Ignoring and not answering proved to be an effective technique to get Mab to stay away from you. Frik wanted he had the courage to be like Marten.
Mab turned directing her bottled up anger at the gnome. He cringed away. "Frik, be back before the sun rises. You have to get up early for work, don't you? You have a lot to do." The gnome cringed again.
He would pay for this. Admittedly he could not afford a night out as things were. Being busted Mab would give him even more work.
He had taken several nights off like this one in secret before, with Marten's help. They rarely made preparations on how to get out, how to get to the pub, at what hour, what to do, watch a hero/monster film together, how to get home, sleep over or drinking at lake side like the good old days when Marten was still in Mab's care and she would not let him stray far from the land of magic. Anything to get as far away from that shedevil of an employer for as long as possible. It was all improvisation and always worked out perfectly. It was a miracle Mab did not find out sooner.
"Get him back in time or your friend will suffer." She now addressed Marten. Mab would zap Frik back if he stayed away too long. That solved the gnome's problem of not having transport back and it was going to hurt him. A reaction stayed out she scorned herself for waiting for one and hissed angrily at her wayward son.
Marten was of half a mind to just leave them all behind. Was his friendship with Frik worth this? Surely the gnome understood if he left now. They had all, except for Frik, proven themselves utter idiots and lunatics. He felt free to insult them all in one mean throw.
Frik decided something should be done to sooth Mab's temper, or attempt to. "Madame you appear to be very uptight, let Mordred give you a massage."
That notion did not go well with Mab either. She stalked a few steps away from the bunch of friends.
Morgan looked up curiously at the company in the room. As Frik's voice drifted to her ears she suddenly remembered him.
"Fwikkie," She started, not taking her eyes of Marten. "you pwomised you'd make me a death eater but you never did."
"I made you beautiful."
She smiled. "Pwomise is a pwomise. I slept with my bwother for you now you will make me a death eater. "
Marten had a feeling Frik promised a lot to Morgan without knowing about it but he didn't mind. The gnome smiled sillyly.
"Marten Marten –you're taller than I imagined." Morgan stared in admiration after Marten as the man in question hastened towards the door.
Frik did not look forward to Morgan fluttering around his friend all night. She might even senselessly agree with Marten on everything he said, which mostly implied non complimentary Mab comments. Such things could be dangerous.
"It's role confusion." Mab hissed at Frik. "She doesn't know which story she is in because of similarity in name and character. Le Fay and Le Strange, Marten the wizard and Marten Vilijn. It will work out, eventually. In some time she might think she is a famous actress." She left him alone with that information. Information which was unimportant to her but made Frik's entire world crash down on him.
Morgan did not love him anymore. Morgan was someone else now?
"Marten." He did not listen. Mab made Frik repeat her word. "Marten." Marten did turn around to the sound of his friend's voice, albeit being vexed by the request for attention.
Mab graciously and maliciously gestured to the table. "You can just as well have a drink here. All of you. "
Food and drinks appeared at her will.
Marten did not even bother to grunt. He left the not worthy of his attention building.
Frik grinned. "Off to the pub."
Queen Mab frowned. A sudden light flash and spontaneous storm erupted outside.
"What a pity." They could all hear an impatient huff as Marten ignored her, but could not deny the storm's existence. He walked back through the door. "You will have to take my offer."
"Why don't you sit next to Mab, master Marten?"
"She is not coming anywhere near me." He glared at the innocent Frik.
"Dear Marten, that kiss happened ages ago. You have nothing to be afraid of."
A grumpy expression grimly shadowed Marten's face. Frik had addresses a subject never to be mentioned again. The way Marten slumped down into a seat made it abundantly clear he would not be talking for the rest of the evening.
Mordred's reaction was just as powerful, if completely opposite. His face spontaneously coloured a warlike red of rage.
"Auntie, kill him already!"
Queen Mab did not react with anything more than a suppressed smile. At this Mordred lunged forward. Luckily for the others he was not carrying any weapons about his person that day.
Marten rumbled. "You raging idiot! Are you out of your mind? Act normal!" He pushed the lad back over the table aided by a magic barrier.
Mordred scraped his last dignity together. Mab kept smiling at him. His look softened because of this. His eyes were only shooting arrows and glaring daggers now at Marten instead of bringing down the end of the world.
For a long time all that happened was Marten mentally mapping out scenarios wherein Mab was confronted with and killed by various comic heroes. A sight he would well enjoy.
Mab once demonstrated to him how she could catch an arrow. But she wouldn't be able to catch one of Hawkeye's, Marten thought grinningly. Unknowing how wrong he was about that.
Better play safe and send Dr Manhattan to do the job.
When the tension became too much to bear Frik's mind frantically searched for a way to soften the icy silence. "We could play some cards. Who is up for a game of bridge to pass the time? Morgan, my love? Marten? Madam?"
Marten often played games with his friends. It was a pastime he enjoyed. Few knew what a sore loser he was, another talent no doubt inherited from his mother. In direct contrast to her he was very talented at hiding said fact.
Frik's helpful remark was collectively ignored. It fell into the silence and was drowned by it.
Marten gave no one any attention. The most attention he was inclined to give went to Mordred's weapon collection. His toys were stalled out all over the place. Marten scrutinized every item. Heaven forbid he got more or better ones than Mab used to offer him.
To give them something to do queen Mab magiced food onto the table.
Mordred digged in in fury, Morgan subtly moved the knifes out of his reach. Frik ate to avoid everything else, Morgan was too lovestruck to eat, Marten too hostile to and Mab as eating was no necessity to her decided to take all the talking onto her own royal shoulders.
"Blablabla Arthur is cursed, triumphantblaaa Mordred will be the next king blabla"
As they already established talk about kings did not interest Marten, the next topic being Mordred made it even worse. The only thing Mab ever talked about were her plans. Frik had heard this particular speech at least a thousand and one times over the last five years. Frik pitied that Ambrosia passed away years ago, he would have loved to heard her comments on this situation.
Marten sat a bit removed from the table. His chair stood as far away from the table as social conventions would allow it. He pretended or made it so that the company nor food stood in any direct connection to him.
The most unnerving behaviour came from the woman he had not met before. Marten found himself to be the unwavering focus of Morgan's big gawky eyes.
"Mordred makes such fine monsters."
Marten instantly entered his even crankier mode. "And I don't?!"
He possessed the very best monster making sets. It was an expensive hobby but his favourite and he was supremely talented at it. A klutz like Mordred could never make a monster that came close to those he did.
Mab smiled as a new way of irking Marten revealed itself to her.
"Mab was only talking of Mordred. She didn't mean to imply anything about you." Morgan was suddenly all tender care. She took this excuse to touch his arm. Marten jerked away brusquely.
"Marten does not use any magic. He doesn't like it because it reminds him of me." exclaimed an irritated Mab. "Yet he sees no trouble with using it for his own purposes, namely creating monsters, dinosaurs and giant robots. How unashamed you are when it suits you, my boy. I could have taught you so much more on monsters and magic." And on how to apply those to her plans.
"Your powers and talents could be put to good use, master Marten." Frik attempted to humour Mab.
"To save the dying races of magical creatures perhaps." His mistress added, in her venom tainted voice.
Marten declared a steadfast: "NO."
"It doesn't matter." Her eyes circled around him. "I have new eye candy now." She glanced extensively and repeatedly to Mordred.
She wanted so very burningly to make Marten feel he was a failure. Her words did not have effect in the slightest. If anything he was glad to be rid of her and his position as her favourite.
Marten turned on ignore, he could do this for days without any effort. He was perfectly comfortable with it. However upset it made Mab. In time would it would amuse or annoy him. In the latter case he would break it off and simply leave her on her own and see how truly desperate she became then when all the pleading had been for naught.
The others table guests followed his example of ignoring Mab. When she stopped talking they didn't even notice.
Most of that night's conversation consisted of tensed silence and discomfort.
Marten was not talking, looking angry, not eating, his arms firmly planted on the table on either side of his empty plate. Morgan looked everywhere to avoid everyone else's irritated looks and trying to find things to impress Marten with. Queen Mab looked only and unblinkly right in front of her. Frik gave up on his futile attempts of small talk. Mordred shared an occasional bitter remark with a less than amuse or interested Mab. Marten's whimsical jealous streak made him interrupt Mordred's demands for attention on every occasion with some expression of discontent. Frik hated seeing his friend huff and puff like this when he was just as talented at being extremely pleasant company as at ruining the already rotten atmosphere there was now. For Marten it was just a charm switch he had to turn on. Of course he would only do this if he could see something to gain from it. Which clearly he did not.
In the light-hearted manner of one condemned to death and still trying to please Frik spoke. "Why won't you talk to Mab, master Marten?"
"Why should I?"
Morgan told Marten in a hushed voice as a pupil giving in the right answer. "Ignowing people is childish and wude."
Frik sighed his hope away.
"Because for some of us it would make her less hellish to live with. Your past rebellion often causes me one heck of a headache, master Marten."
As her previous comment did not make Marten any happier Morgan went into her go hard or go home mode. She was Marten's girl to the core. "It's his own choice not to talk to someone he hates. My lord hates her. I trust he has good cause to. I will stand by him whether it means losing my home, my beauty, pwomised cwown, Frik or life itself."
Unsurprisingly Marten would not venture into the issues in this household.
"Hating is believing." interrupted a smug Mab. "You must be happy to know, Marten, that I don't need you anymore."
Marten's entire being screamed. Then why can't you leave me alone, you spawn from hell?! He looked just about angered enough to smash someone's, preferably Mordred's, skull in if they made another personal comment on his life.
"But that does not mean I am not interested anymore in how my son is doing. What has my Marten been up to?"
Marten's look spoke of the same intentions as before. Destroying Mab. By making Frik grow a giant, throwing her in a volcano, huge explosions, sending the great badly animated dragon on her to swallow her whole and spit back out in the volcano should she taste foul which she undoubtedly would.
"You know I would sacrifice a lot for my realm but I don't think you are the right person to help me out here. "
Morgan was toying with one of the knifes she had taken from her son. Marten felt extremely bothered by both women.
Queen Mab found she preferred Marten's hateful teasing about her appearance and character to being ignored. She even preferred those discussions they had once or twice when he was younger. Where they would end up discussing cartoons and robots. When he was charm itself because he needed something. She would wonder how they got to a topic of his choosing, but she enjoyed it as long as he was having a good time. He laughed at her lack of technological knowledge. When he had enough he called the discussion over or she did when she was fed up with his egoistic behaviour. In any case he would blame her. She would feel hollow and tricked. She would not let him win this game now. Being ignored was murdering.
Frik had gone into silent mode as well since Morgan's betrayal. She crushed his heart.
"Is there a special someone in your life? Girlfriend, bo..yfriend?" Queen Mab found she was talking more than usual to make up for his silence. She did not like this one bit. "I take it not. Have you not gone to see Nimue? She probably thinks you don't love her anymore. It's been years." That was exactly what Marten was scared for and why he didn't go to her. Having a memory and a possibility was better than nothing. He had no hopes and no hurt. He never mentioned this to anyone, he did not even admit it to himself. "You are a big coward, Marten."
"He is living with a sweet girl." Frik protected his friend.
Morgan pouted, feeling threatened by the very idea of another woman. Frik feared for her instability. "You can see he's uncomfortable with discussing relationships. You will find someone," her voice hushed to a lullaby tone as she addressed Marten, " she may be closer than you think."
That was it. Final drop. Marten had risen from his seat and left. No one here mattered anymore.
Morgan's inner fighter thought this picking on her crush had gone far enough. She jumped up to stand by his side and ward off anyone who tried to follow him with… a stick. She felt she lacked a stick. She skipped back to the table to take a knife instead. Mab's grim shadow pulled Morgan aside. An inclination of the head, a twitch with the eyebrows it was as clear a command as a huntress ordering her dog to attack. Only this dog did not need anyone's permission but her own.
"Morgan, go for it. He's all yours."
Morgan threw herself at his feet. She looked up with puppy eyes.
Marten half smiled at her- giving a slightly creeped out performance when he was creeped out majorly- it was only for his friend Frik. "Let go, little girl."
"Hurray he talks." Mab hissed sarcastically. A death glare was fired by Marten.
"Talk to a snake for me! Pleeeeeaawse. You are my sun, my moon and the sweet sound of howling towtured children."
Morgan wanted to hug his leg, he kicked her away and still he made her happy.
"Who is Nimue?" Marten ignored Morgan as that would be safest." My rival." She bared her hungry teeth. She would have this Nimue's head. She would cut it off herself with her wand.
Marten now looked at her with such destructive power Morgan scrambled back to her seat, her dignity lost but intact in her own delusional world. She took up a knife and twirled it in her fingers, no doubt thinking of flaying this Nimue person.
After questioning the logic of not practicing magic and not going after Nimue, Mab continued exasperatedly:" I do not understand why a nice guy like you would not help out his friends and family when..."
"It is the way it is!"
Marten left without a word. Mab rose to follow him. Leaving Morgan and Frik behind to clean up.
"I am going to have a heart to heart with Marten." Queen Mab smirked. "Take care of Morgan, Frik."
Morgan was sitting deep in thought. She stared at Frik. Her almost understanding gaze went from her knifetwirling to Frik and back.
"You know, you're small for a gnome. That kind of bothers me. Are you sure you are not an elf? The backstabbing serving kind. Those big eyes, pointy ears. I know." She was searching her mind for a name. "Dobby?"
Frink could hear an invisible choir of voices shout Noooo nono run Frik ruuuuuun! He swallowed terrified. He was a dead man. Right, he had to set up a plan. Point one get the knife away from Morgan. Point two, to be executed simultaneously with plan one, do not get killed.
Marten had gone to his old room. This room remained unchanged in his mind. And he found it so in reality. He snorted Mab did have some respect in her.
He took a close look at his shelves of model robots. He inspected each item. He would see if they had been tweaked with or had been moved a millimetre. He found immediate reason to cause a scene. His stuff had not been touched.
Someone rapped the door. She came in without waiting for a never to come 'enter'.
He eyed Mab up. Her clothes were fairly normal, for her. She still had strange things in her hair. So no he would not let her touch him.
The door closed behind her. She was going traditional all the way, that was making an effort. Had she come to praise or chide him? Not a spot of her touched the actual boundaries of the room. If she lay but a finger on his stuff she would live to regret it forever, he would see to that.
"I don't see why you keep being so stubborn. Alright you don't want to help me. Think of the other reasons. You might want to at least consider the possibility. Your friends are in need of you, you left your toys-things here, I can help you find Nimue…"
He told himself he had gotten over Nimue just fine. If he wanted to he would find Nimue for himself. He would marry her in a ceremony conducted by a Christian priest and invite Mab to the wedding as torture! He did not answer this, he looked up grimly at his mother.
It was his dearest wish was not to know what had happened to his crush, Mab felt she had to tell him anyway. "She was married off to another."
She had stepped too close for his comfort. He did the logical thing.
He kicked her hard.
Anyone but Marten could see the hurt in Mab's eyes before she hit him across the face.
Hell broke loose. Marten leered forward taking on a threatening posture. Mab was grateful her magic prevented him from touching her.
Now Marten's anger showed on his face. "Childish good-for-nothing hag."
He tried to attack her. His magic and might pushed her back. She screamed. Mab's rage cracked all crystals in the castle. It was a deafening sound. She could not handle this man-boy anymore.
"Why are you not on my side?" She wailed. "Why do you join my sister in not doing a damn thing?"
"You didn't give me a sword."
"And she did?"
"Well yes." The next words he could have spoken in a comforting manner, that might have helped the already lost situation or perhaps not. As it was he spoke his unforgivable words without mercy. "It's all inside your head. You won't die. You are mad and weak."
"Disappear! Get out of my sight."
"Gods, you are pathetic. You shouldn't care. You are a crazy pack of nonsense."
"But you are my son!" Mab screamed, demanding everyone's attention who had been left behind in the dinner room. They were doing their best at keeping as quiet as possible. -After Morgan had tried to kill Frik and he had only survived because she came back to her senses when she had injured her true love.- You could never be too far away from Mab when she had one of her outbursts.
"Think of the neighbours, bloody lunatic!"
"There are no neighbours." She glared. "You're not my son." Mab's voice broke.
He walked away unbothered.
She had won. She felt like she had lost.
Mab's anger caused Marten's bedroom to spontaneously collapse. It gave her no satisfaction. He was not even there anymore to strangle her for destroying his things. Then she looked at her promising protégé Mordred and her feelings of sadness soon vanished.