Author Note: Alright I'm well aware I left you a kind of evil cliffhanger at the end of the last chapter, mwahahaha, so I suppose I'd better let you know what happens next. This is only a short chapter, but I am almost finished with the next one, so it should be up sometimes within the next few days.
Until then, Dante finds herself in a spot of bother with Mordred and an unlikely hero comes to her aid.
Almost at once, Dante felt her throat tightening - inexplicably constricting - cutting off her vital supply of air.
She didn't need to look in Mordred's direction to know that his livid eyes were glowing golden.
"The game's up, traitor," he spat as he stalked towards her.
A veil of red descended upon the world and she clawed at her throat, but there was nothing there her hands could touch.
"You...can...talk!" She managed to rasp, as tears sprang to her eyes.
"Ah yes, but you see...I'm betraying a tyrant," Mordred said as he continued his advance, curling his hand into a fist for added effect, even though he really didn't need to. She backed up, away from him, but still she choked under his invisible grip, and eventually her knees buckled and her legs gave way completely. She fell to the floor in front of Mordred, still gagging and trying to claw at her throat, barely able to breath, panic really starting to set in now.
"Arthur despises me, and everyone like me. He may pretend to appreciate magic now, but Uther taught him too well. A leopard can never change his spots and Arthur Pendragon will never accept magic."
"Es...especially...if ...it's used to k...kill ...his First...Lady!" Dante wheezed, her voice barely audible now as her throat was slowly crushed. His eyes flashed even brighter and her whole body tensed as a desperate squeak escaped her lips. This was it, she couldn't breathe at all. Any second now the world would go dark, and she would never again take another breath.
"Let her go, Mordred!"
Through her teary, blurred vision, Dante cast all about furiously. She knew that voice! But her oxygen starved mind could not put it to a face.
"She's no use to us dead," the voice spoke again. "Let her go."
"She's a traitor!"
"No. She's done you a huge favour. And this is how you repay her? Shame on you. Let her go, before I make you."
"How has she done me a favour?" Mordred protested. But his eyes ceased glowing their sparkling yellow and went back to their original colouring, and all of a sudden Dante could breathe again.
Collapsing onto her hands and knees, she coughed and gasped, suddenly feeling the welcome rush of air flooding back to her lungs. And then her arms gave way and she fell to the floor completely, desperately trying to recover as she lay on the cold stone. It took every ounce of energy she had left just to breath.
Hushed voices could be heard nearby, but she just couldn't focus on what they were saying. She was too disoriented from being choked almost to death.
Her breathing still hadn't steadied, and each drawn breath was a harsh wheeze that didn't allow her as much air as she'd have liked. Somewhere at the back of her mind, she wondered if Mordred had done some kind of permanent damage to her throat. And if he had, how the hell was she going to talk her way out of this one?
"She can barely breath, you fool," That oh-so-familiar voice spat again, and Dante felt gentle hands grasping her by the shoulder. Then she was gently rolled onto her back and found herself staring up at the anxious face of Morgana.
"What were you thinking?!" Morgana snapped at Mordred as she brushed the tears from Dante's cheek. Then she looked down at her cousin, who was still struggling to breath properly.
"This was never my intention," she said in a hushed voice, as she lifted Dante's head into her lap.
"I...I can't..." Dante rasped, one hand moving back to her throat again, as it continually burned - the sensation of an invisible force still tingling where Mordred's magic had gripped her so fiercely.
"Just relax," Morgana soothed. "Everything will be alright now. Don't worry about anything other than breathing, for the moment."
Dante may have hated her cousin sometimes - well, not hated Morgana, as such. Just the terrible things she did. But right then, she felt nothing but an overwhelming sense of...of what? She couldn't describe it. All she really knew was that she was so glad to see the High Priestess, and to know that everything would be alright.
Morgana would fix her throat, and her voice along with it hopefully (and even if she wouldn't, Merlin probably could), and she had somehow managed to talk Mordred round into believing that Dante had done him a big favour.
"Up you come," Mordred said as he appeared over her suddenly, taking her by the shoulders - a complete contrast to the furious young man he'd been just moments before.
"Get...away!" Dante protested, trying to push him away, but he was too strong and she had still not recovered from his attack.
"Hey, it's alright," he smiled as he picked her up off the floor and set her back on her feet. Then he threw her arm over his shoulder. "Morgana explained everything. It was all a simple misunderstanding. I forgive you."
"You...forgive me?!" She retorted in undisguised disgust as Morgana ducked under her other arm. "You...attacked...me! You...accused...ME!"
"And now I forgive you," he nodded calmly. "But I would suggest for the time being that you don't talk. Your voice sounds damaged."
"Mordred, please!" Morgana exclaimed in frustration. "Go and find your champion!"
"Ah yes, the champion. I might start in the barracks," Mordred spoke thoughtfully as he ducked back out from under Dante's arm again. "Any suggestions for who would make a good champion, Dante?"
"Careful Mordred," she warned, her voice cracked and damaged, although her breathing had returned to some sort of normality once more. "There are a lot of swords in the barracks. I'd hate for you to fall on one."
Morgana smirked at the comment, highly amused, but Mordred simply scowled. His eyes glowed golden and Dante once again began to choke.
"Enough Mordred!" Morgana snapped, lashing out and backhanding him sharply. "Leave her be!"
"Yes Milady," the druid growled, before turning his head away to spit out a tooth and some blood.
"Can you walk?" Morgana asked Dante. When she nodded, Morgana smiled. "Then come with me. We have much to discuss. I have been busy these past few hours, and I want to share with you my plan."
"Plans?" Dante croaked.
"Plans," Morgana agreed. "Believe me when I say that we have yet another insider joined to our cause, here in Camelot. Although I have to admit, she was not as willing as you, Mordred or Eira seemed to be. I had to use...'persuasion', shall we say?"
"Friendly?" Dante asked suspiciously.
Morgana smirked in amusement - her cousin clearly knew her too well. "Decidedly not," she replied at last. Dante nodded, as if she'd expected this answer.
"So who is it?"
"An old friend of ours," Morgana said cryptically, refusing to say any more on the matter.