16th September 2015.
“What have I just done?” Jackson asked himself in complete bemusement.
Morgan cackled with great relish at the moment she had waited centuries for. “You fool, Mr. Hardacre. You have just given me exactly what I ever wanted. My son is returned and shall take his place as ruler!”
“How? Surely it must be more complicated then this,” asked a befuddled Raven.
“So you did learn something from me after all, Miss Blackbeak, maybe you can redeem yourself.” Morgan took Raven’s hand in her face and examined it, reminding her of the girl’s beauty. A beauty fit for a king.
“I – DO – NOT – SEEK – YOUR – REDEMPTION!” spat Raven at the old crow, her stomach and mouth full of revulsion at the notion.
“I don’t think there will ever be a another Familiar quite like yourself to ever cross my path again, Raven Blackbeak.” Morgan looked towards the two halves of the Dragon Heartstone floating before her, one still a blazing red as bright as dragon fire, the other as dark as the soul of Satan. “But since you asked, that is a very remarkable sword you have, Apprentice…”
“Morgan…” croaked Merlin, weakly trying to lift himself up off the ground.
“Hush, hush now, Merlin! The grown ups are talking.” She waved her hand and the old man went silent as if he had lost his vice and flew backwards ten feet. “So,” continued the Witch, “that pendant you are so fond off that magically turns into a sword with ancient ruins, well, it so happens to be known as the Sword of Pendragon. Or more commonly known in legends as -”
“Excalibur.” Jackson breathed. He marvelled at the impossible relic he now held in his hand, as if he and it were one and the same. An extension of his arm, the perfect weapon, the perfect sword.
“Someone’s fond of his children’s literature,” snickered Morgan. “The only thing powerful to break through a stone with two souls entrapped, fighting to get out. The sword that murdered one of the souls and belonged to the other.”
There was a click in Jackson’s head and the pieces of the puzzle were all starting to come together, “Mordred died by Excalibur at the hands of Arthur.”
“Bingo-bango! We have a winner!” shrieked the mad woman.
A high-pitched tone began to sting the ears of the two friends and the Witch. The red stone began to release a white steam and the dark stone a thick black smoke, both forming a human outlines. One like an angel, the other like a demon. The two ghost started to solidify from toe to head.
“My son, come to me!” Morgan called longingly.
“Finally,” his voice was cold and as sharp as an icicle. The smoke cleared and there he stood with his venomous green eyes and sleek black hair. Mordred’s armour was as black as night, the chest plate with a basilisk sigil upon it.”After all these centuries stuck in that bloody crystal with my arch nemesis.”
The smoke began to clear around Arthur’s shining silver suit with a sigil of an iron dragon. As the smoke drifted from his face, Mordred kicked Arthur down in his side during the disorientation of the Once and Future King. Arthur groaned loudly and clutched his side with his face hidden.
Morgan laughed with pleasure and Mordred looked to her and gave the same twisted smile as she. “Mother, thank you.”
“This is blasphemy,” croaked Merlin. He stood before Mordred and in an instant his staff flew back into his hand and shone at its top with a bright light. A hell-fire burnt in his eyes, resurgence flowing through his being.
“Ah, Merlin.” Mordred flashed him a look so evil Jackson turned away for a moment. “It’s been so long. You know, Merlin, it’s so very strange to be staring into the eyes of your executioner. The man who ripped into your chest and clawed out your heart, you essence and tethered it to a rock. This is not blasphemy, it’s religion in the making and I am God.”
“Have you learnt nothing, Mordred!” came a familiar voice.
“Jackson, how did you say that without moving your lips?” Raven asked.
“I-I didn’t.” Jackson replied.
A chill ran down his back and for the first time Mordred looked at him, the sinister glare like an icicle through Jackson’s heart. “How are you standing there?” Mordred turned back to Arthur and turned back to Jackson. “Two of you, how did you manage that, Arthur?”
“What?” Jackson asked confused.
Behind Mordred Arthur rose. “Jackson, look.” Raven stared at the figure and Jackson also looked. “How is that possible?” asked Raven. “The same hair, face, eyes, height.”
Jackson in a trance stepped past Mordred and stood before Arthur. It was a perfect reflection, both wearing the same dazed expression.
“Merlin has a wee bit of a fetish. Not that I’m judging you, Merlin.” Morgan stepped towards her son. “Shall I tell them, Merlin?”
Jackson knew the old man stayed silent for a reason, he wouldn’t play her games.
“Spoil sport, Merlin!” cackled Mordred, his laugh as devious as his mother’s.
“You see, Mr. Hardacre, young Mr. Pendragon so happened to be an Apprentice of Merlin, and so was his son, and his son’s son, his son’s son’s son, and so on and on it went. Finally we arrive at you, although I am sure there were a couple of daughters flung in there somewhere, hence the change of name from Pendragon to Hardacre.” Morgan giggled like a mischievous little school girl.
“Merlin,” Arthur said.
“I am here my boy, I am here!” Merlin held Arthur’s shoulder.
“Where is she, Merlin?” Jackson asked, but it wasn’t his words. “Where is she?” A tear fell down his and Arthur’s cheek simultaneously.
“Over here of course,” Morgan said, exaggeratedly swinging her hand towards Raven. “Fit for a king.”
“Oh, Mother,” breathed Mordred with a carnal hungry look in his eyes, “she will do perfectly. Come, my sweet.” He took Ravens arms and pulled her towards his body. Rave whimpered in a mixture of disgust and fear as the stranger took in her scent. “Sweet, Guinevere.”
“Unhand her, snake!” Both Arthur and Jackson stood before Mordred in the same position, both speaking in unison. There stances were a perfect mirror image. Jackson held Excalibur in his hand pointed at the villain, Arthur held out his hand as if holding an invisible sword as there was none in his hand. “Guinevere is dead! My son is dead! Now you shall both be dead!”
Raven quaked in fear of this haunting image.
“Is she really?” Morgan explained. “Like Jackson, Raven is of an ancient bloodline. Guinevere’s, of course. No longer any familial relations but the blood is strong, history loves to repeat itself.”
“That’s just it, Morgan,” countered Merlin. “Fool! Arthur is not the Once and Future King because he is prophesied to live, but because his blood lives on in Jackson. You just helped kick start it. I was always more powerful with my King by my side.”
Morgan’s face went very pale. “Mordred, we have to go.”
“I will not lose you again.”
But as Morgan turned to leave Merlin was before her, staff alight with the fires of Hell and lightning of Heaven. A quick blast from it set Morgan’s entire body afire with one spark. She screamed as loud as a choir of frightened banshees and was gone in seconds, a pile of ash left on the ground.
“MOTHER!” Mordred roared. His poisonous eye gleamed life fiery diamonds. Mordred unsheathed his sword, a black blade embedded with the lethal fangs of a basilisk, and he pointed it at Merlin’s throat.
“You might want to see this,” Merlin said with a smile for his vanquished enemy.
Mordred turned and saw that Jackson and Arthur’s eyes burned with a bright white light. “Guinevere/Raven,” said the men, “I will be with you, my kindness, my hope, my love.”
“Jackson!” Raven began to run towards him and Merlin put his staff in front of the Familiar to block her.
“Don’t, you will burn!” he warned, genuine worry in his eyes.
The light cleared and standing before them was Jackson in Arthur’s armour, Excalibur in his hand ready to challenge Mordred to a duel. Raven knew it was Jackson. There eyes may have looked the same to anybody else, but not her, she knew Jackson. Knew his essence. Knew his eyes. Knew his being.
“Ready, La Fey?” asked Jackson.
“Time for your rule to end, Pendragon.” Mordred retorted.