Summary: Inspired heavily by MZ Bradley's Mists of Avalon (Not a cross-over) this is a companion piece that follows Morgause, the daughter of Hoel Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall and the Lady Vivienne from a girl of age 5/6 until Episode 2.8 The Sins of the Father
While this is a stand-alone piece, it is also a companion fic to my current story arc. I needed to get myself into Morgause's head for her part in the upcoming chapters of Into Hell, and this seemed to be the best way to do it. I may or may not continue this in the future. If I do it will continue to follow Morgause as she becomes what she is in my series.
I was listening to a lot of Heather Dale's music while writing this. Arafel's Lament was among one of the main songs that helped me reach the feeling I wanted for this.
I don't own Merlin
The tears had long since ceased. She had cried until there was nothing left. It was the baby's fault, her child-mind reasoned, but also her fault somehow. If she had been a better girl, perhaps her mother wouldn't have given birth to another child. "I was a good girl, wasn't I?" She asked. Her voice was so soft the man behind her on the horse wasn't certain he'd heard it at first.
He sighed and squeezed her shoulder, "Yes you were child. A very good girl."
"Then why is mum sending me away?" She asked dejectedly.
Her father, with his dark blond hair and full beard left months before and she missed him terribly. While he was gone, she was hidden one night in her mother's chambers, refusing to let the maid put her to bed when another man came in, initially she thought it was her father and almost revealed her hiding spot in her delight. Then the illusion shimmered a bit and instead she saw a different man there. He wasted no time as he bedded her mother. The girl quickly learned he was the Queen's husband.
Queen Ygraine was a very kind woman who showered affection on the girl possibly more than the girl's own mother had done especially once her new baby sister was born later. The new child was a dark-haired little bundle of smiles with eyes that changed from the typical baby blue into a very pale shade of green that didn't look anything like her mother or father.
One day while the royals and nobles sat around enjoying a meal the girl mentioned this and also how her new sister would be the death of the king. Instantly the tone of joy in the hall had changed as if a dark cloud had descended. The blond girl knew she had said something wrong when the king, a very stern man, caused everyone around him to quake in fear with his anger when he began yelling at her mother. The king ordered her to be rid of the demon child who dared spout lies at his table.
Now she was riding with a man she hardly knew, away from the only home she had known. The girl was even more confused when her mother gave her a treasured bracelet that had been given to her as a wedding gift from the girl's father. The fact she would be parting with such a gift left the child shaking in her small slippers. She felt she must truly be a demon as the king proclaimed.
The man stopped his horse at the edge of a lake. Standing on the shore was a woman with dark hair and the brightest blue eyes she had ever seen. "This is the girl with the sight?" The woman asked the rider.
"It is, I told her mother I would see her safely out of Camelot and bring her to you."
The woman came forward and reached up for the girl, "Come, darling I am taking you to your new home. You needn't fear anything as long as you are here. I am Nimueh, a Priestess of the Isle of the Blessed and Chosen of the Goddess."
"I'm Morgause," the child replied timidly. She was in awe of the woman who took her off the horse and began to lead her to the edge of the shore where a boat waited.
She sat fearfully on the rocking vessel as waves lapped along the edges waiting for the woman. The priestess sighed and looked at the man, "We will look after her child, as she is the High Priestess's granddaughter, but tell Vivienne she needs to take care as well."
The man on the horse turned to leave when the woman called out to him again, "Oh and Gaius, I doubt if she will, but try and convince her she must leave Ygraine's side, not just for her own sake, but that of the new child as well. The girl is a favored of the Goddess, but her way will be fraught with heartache and despair if she is to be kept in Camelot."
"I will, My Lady," Gaius nodded his head as he rode away. He was needed back in the citadel, rumor had it that the king was planning on naming him as the Court Physician, and his beautiful fiancée, Alice, would kill him if he screwed that up.
The girl began to cry again as she watched the man ride away. Nimueh joined the child in the boat and with a wave of her hand it began moving. "Do not fear child, for you shall be trained as a priestess. No man will be able to dictate your future again, for it is in the hands of the Goddess now."
The next years passed peacefully, as if the world beyond the shores of the island did not exist. The High Priestess, a very old woman which Morgause was informed was her grandmother, but in reality was possibly her great grandmother, passed away and Nimueh, who was not young herself, was named as her successor. "I must go to visit the King this week, child," the new high priestess told her not long after she began her tenure.
Morgause's heart leapt out of her chest. She was Nimueh's personal serving girl and protégé and was meant to go everywhere the Priestess went. She still longed desperately to see her father, to hear that he would accept her again. "I will begin to prepare our things, My Lady."
"No, Morgause, you must stay here. It will be better for you," Nimueh replied, her voice that normally held such a warmth and fondness, seemed distant and cold.
The girl looked down dejectedly, "I was hoping to be allowed to see my father, My Lady."
Nimueh's icy demeanor melted, "I know you were child, but your father is not there and even if he were, I cannot take you to the court of Camelot."
"Why not?" She began to cry, not accepting why she wouldn't be allowed to go.
The priestess sighed and patted the bench next to her, inviting the girl to sit, "For reasons I cannot tell now, the king believes you to be dead, and we cannot give him any reason to suspect otherwise. This is not only for your safety child, but for that of many others as well. I will be making this journey alone."
Morgause still didn't understand the reasoning, but when the priestess spoke, her word was final. The girl nodded and set about preparing the lady's gear.
Two weeks later Nimueh returned, looking exhausted and bedraggled. Morgause watched her curiously. There was an aura of darkness and frustration that seemed to follow the High Priestess; it made the young blond acolyte nervous. She lost her grip on a carafe of water she was carrying towards Nimueh's table and it spilled over the floor.
Nimueh was startled and began yelling at the girl. It was the first time since Morgause met her that the Priestess had ever raised her voice. The entire room shook with her anger, Morgause cowered in the corner, covering her ears and squeezing her eyes tightly, praying to the Goddesses that the maelstrom would soon pass.
Breathing heavily, Nimueh collapsed into a chair and finally looked around at the mess. "Goddess, what have I done? Why is it You wished me to bring about something that will cost so much and so many?" She whispered hoarsely to herself and the Goddess. She seemed to have forgotten about the girl still huddled in the corner, hidden by an armoire.
With a bang of the door, a man perhaps in his mid-thirties with black hair and hazel brown eyes entered the room. "Nimueh, what have you done?" He demanded.
The High Priestess did her best to compose herself, "I did nothing."
Don't lie to me woman! We have known each other too long. You once claimed an allegiance with King Ambrosius to protect the kingdom he created. I know you met with my uncle and the dragons felt the power you called from the veil. Tell me what happened?"
"It doesn't matter, Balinor. The deed is done as the Goddess wished," she stated, her self-control faltering ever so slightly. "Ygraine will soon give birth to a son and he will be a golden child. Emrys will guide him, as it has been forseen."
"Emrys is dead. He's been dead for over ten years now! Although I cannot prove it, I am certain Uther had his hand in it."
"Despite what you believe, Ambrosius was not Emyrs," she snarled in disdain.
"Then who is?" He questioned, backing off slightly. He had heard these words before from one of the ancient dragons, but part of him still refused to believe it.
Nimueh fell quiet, "I do not know and I may never know. For the Dochraid has seen that it will only be revealed upon my death."
The man called Balinor shook his head sadly, "The dragon council is meeting, we fear the times that are coming, Nimueh, because of what you have set in motion."
"As do I, my friend. As do I…"
Balinor took a deep breath and closed his eyes. "Who will pay the price?" He asked in a hushed tone.
"I hope him," She chuckled sardonically, "but I offered myself. It is in Her hands now."
The dragon lord sighed, "Yes it is." He offered his hand to the High Priestess, "Come and walk with me Kilgharrah is waiting at the edge of the isle to take you to the rest of my kin. I fear your day is not yet over."
"I am the High Priestess of the Triple Goddess, I shouldn't have to explain Her will to the dragons," She sighed in exasperation and took his hand, following him out of the room.
It was a few moments in the silence before Morgause finally extracted herself. To hear the woman she felt was the strongest person she had ever met, sounding so dejected was heartbreaking and it planted a seed of doubt in her heart.
Months past and soon Balinor came again. Morgause had taken her vow of silence, a period of her training that seemed more difficult than any of the trials she had yet seen. Without a word she served wine to them both. The dragon lord, as she had come to find out, began speaking before the priestess had a chance to excuse the girl, no knowledge of who she was.
"A son was born, as you said would be. Although it was neither your life, nor Uther's that was taken," He started somberly. "It was Ygraine's."
Nimueh looked devastated but didn't say anything. Balinor continued, "Tristan blames Uther for it. And rightfully so. He has challenged the king in combat. Du Bois is a fierce warrior, but Uther is the best swordsman in the realm; I fear this will be the end of him as well."
"What of the others at court?" The priestess asked quietly.
Balinor took a drink of his wine, "Vivienne has made her escape, along with her daughter. She fears Uther, probably more than most, and with good reason."
Morgause was thankful her back was turned towards them, so the man remained unaware of her reaction. A stab of jealousy coursed through her. She blamed them all- her mother, the king, and this bastard girl child. She had grown fond of the people around her on the isle, but she still longed for her father and the life she was forced to flee. She rubbed unconsciously at the bracelet on her wrist, her only real possession and her link to Gorlois.
Not long after, death came to their doorstep. King Uther, in his grief swore to strike down all connected to the magic that had taken his wife from him. Morgause stood with her mistress on a hillside across from the isle, watching as the great temple to the Triple Goddess went up in flames.
"We should have stayed to fight them!"
"Morgause, under the circumstances I will forgive your lapse, but you must be mindful, you are still under your vow of silence child."
"How can I be silent when Uther's forces are destroying our homes and the most sacred place of the Goddess?" The ten year old girl cried in her anger.
Nimueh sighed sadly, "It is sad, but our people escaped and the temple is simply a place. The Goddess is within us, not within the walls. Uther will soon burn out his rage and grief and then he will turn to us again to guide him and heal his land. We will rebuild, if that is Her wish, or we shall learn as the druids that we have no need for fancy temples."
Morgause bit her tongue, knowing if she said more it would not be met with the same patience that the High Priestess was currently granting her. In the girl's mind it was all coming down to the same thing, King Uther was on a quest to ruin her life in every way he could for having seen him with her mother. Little did she realize, as far as the king was concerned, she didn't even exist.
Years of being on the run and forced to hide only strengthened her hatred of Uther. Nimueh's words of his anger running its course proved false, and in the end as they watched through a crystal as the last of their sisters burned inside Camelot's courtyard. The last dragon chained below the castle, the Dragon Lord Balinor rumored dead, and even the peace loving druids weren't safe from the king's evil.
Unfortunately, her resentment of Nimueh seemingly doing nothing to protect their kind grew. The priestess would brush off Morgause's concerns by telling her it was not time yet to act. There was still no sign of Emrys and the girl began to doubt if there ever would be, especially when she heard of the battle in which Gorlois finally fell and that the king himself claimed guardianship of the dark-haired girl Morgause once blamed. Her anger towards the babe from when she was a child had cooled to a sort of pity as Morgause realized the girl had no choice in her birth.
Morgause was seventeen when the High Priestess arranged for her to participate as the maiden of the hunt with one of the few remaining druid covens left in the land. The girl was happy to be doing something other than just survive and train. It was to be her final task before being named a full priestess herself.
She became pregnant from her union with a young druid man named Cerdan. Under normal circumstances Morgause would have never been told the hunter's identity, however as she and Nimueh were living with the coven, it wasn't difficult to figure out. When the boy child was born Nimueh handed him off to a wet nurse, explaining that it was better that way. There was still much she needed to teach Morgause and the child would be safer amongst his druid family.
Giving in, reluctantly, she followed the High Priestess and began the final stages of her training. They visited the druids often through the following years and Morgause felt a growing jealousy of the bond her son shared with his father.
When word came of the celebrations Uther would be hosting in honor of his victory over magic, Morgause was furious. They were in Essetir at the time, being one of the few places left where they were not actively hunted, enjoying the hospitality of the young warlord who named himself king. His dark hair and sharp features caught Morgause's attention and she found herself the subject of his fascination as well. He turned her ear and charmed her with his tales of war and power.
Nimueh, seeing only destruction and darkness coming from such a union discouraged Morgause against any relations. The two women argued an entire night and came to no resolution. In the end Nimueh left, alone and disheartened.
Cenred was kind to the blond priestess, showering her with gifts that were spoils from his battles. He personally taught her swordplay while in exchange she worked her magic behind the scenes to strengthen his position on the throne.
One day, like a bolt through her heart, Morgause felt when the powers of balance were called upon. Like a wave the power of the High Priestess Nimueh ceased and Morgause felt the calling of the Triple Goddess stronger than ever before. She knew Nimueh was dead.
Cenred began pushing for more to their relationship, but after the shock of feeling the last sworn High Priestess die, Morgause was in no mood for him. In the middle of the night she left, planning to find the druids and her son. When she did, she felt her world crumbling. Cerdan was dead, his head taken by Uther's executioner and her son was nowhere to be found.
Enough was enough. Too many had perished. She had lost everything to this man. It was time to stop sitting around and waiting for the prophecy of Emrys to begin. Nimueh once said he would be revealed with her death. Now her mentor was dead and Morgause was no closer than Nimueh had been to finding his identity.
To honor the memory of the kind queen, the first one to die in this long war, Morgause knew who should be allowed to strike the fatal blow against Uther, if she could turn him and show him the truth of his father's evil, then all would not have been in vain.
She looked through the crystal before her and saw him, "Arthur Pendragon, a great destiny awaits you. The battle for your soul is about to begin."*
* transcript from ep 2.8 Sins of the Father
Reviews, Comments, Critiques! Did I at least make you all feel a teenie bit of something like pity or sorrow for Morgause? :-)
Thanks for reading! and thanks to IcarusLSU for the readthrough and helping me find the title