Arthur glared at Morgana with hate-filled eyes, and then looked to Gwen. She stared back at him, eyes wide and scared, but calm.
“Gwen,” he whispered, “Are you alright?” Her eyes flicked sideways, to Morgana.
“Go on, my dear,” she smiled mockingly, “You may answer him,”
Gwen looked back at Arthur and nodded carefully.
The king gritted his teeth. “Merlin! Kill her!” he snarled.
“Gladly,” replied his friend. “Yr wyf yn anfonmarwolaeth i -”
But Morgana cut him off again
“Arthur, if your pet sorcerer, or any of your knights, causes harm to me, Agravaine, or my soldiers, Gwen will be dead before either or you can move. Do you understand me?”
Arthur stared at her. Could she kill Gwen before Merlin killed her?
“Your kingdom would be safe, Arthur. But at what cost?”
And there it was again. That choice, between Gwen and Camelot. But who was he kidding? It was Gwen. It would always be Gwen.
He looked at Merlin, whose arms were still raised, eyes full of grief. The court sorcerer opened his mouth to finish his spell.
“Don’t you dare,” Arthur said heavily. “Don’t you dare.”
“Knights of Camelot,” Morgana called to the few members of the round table that were still alive and not missing, “Now is your chance to pledge your allegiance to myself, your new queen, and the new age that Camelot is entering.”
The knights stood silently in a line in front of the Morgana, their faces stony. Merlin and Arthur were on their knees next to her – Arthur bound in chains, gagged, and flanked by Morgana’s soldiers, and Merlin wearing handcuffs that had been clamped on him by a smug Agravaine as soon as he and Arthur had surrendered.
The handcuffs, Morgana had explained in her silky tones, drained a person of their magic, and so much of Merlin was magic that he could hardly stand. He slumped to one side, leaning partially on Arthur, eyes cast downwards. His mind was intact, but without his magic he was worse than useless against Morgana.
Arthur supported his weight easily and kept his gaze on Gwen. An enchanted knife was hovering in front of the queen’s heart, and eye contact with her was the only solace the kind had right now.
“None of you?” Morgana was still talking, “You do disappoint me. But I am not surprised. I will give you one last chance. Join me, or I will kill you all. The people of Camelot will never bow to me if the knights are still alive. What is your choice?”
Leon stepped forward, his eyes full of hate, and grief for Percival, Elyan, and all the other friends he had lost that night. “I think I speak for all of us, witch,” he spat, “when I say that we will never join you. We would rather die than betray our King, and Camelot.”
Arthur tore his eyes from Gwen’s and met with Leon’s, his mind racing. He had to save Leon. Leon inclined his head ever so slightly to his king, and turned back to Morgana.
“So be it,” she snarled, and raised her hands. “Yr wyf yn anfonfarwolaeth i Leon!”
Merlin yelled out, and beside him Arthur roared behind his gag. But there was nothing either of them could do. The power shot from Morgana’s hands, and hit Leon in the chest, throwing him backwards into the wall. He slumped to the ground, dead.
Arthur yelled out again, struggling against his bonds and the soldiers that surrounded him. His eyes were fixed on his lifelong friend, his only friend before Merlin had shown up. His friend that had just died for him.
He slumped suddenly, all the fight in him gone. He barely noticed as Merlin struggled to his feet and staggered towards Morgana, and only looked up when he heard the sorcerer’s roar of fury.
Morgana spun round, clearly astonished that Merlin was upright, but she barely had time to think about it before Merlin’s eyes flashed and she flew backwards.
Merlin crumpled to the ground, the strain of forcing his magic too much for him. The king renewed his efforts to get free, desparate to get to his friend before an incensed Morgana did. But it was no use. Merlin’s attack had not been that strong, and Morgana was up on her feet and striding towards Merlin. As she walked, her eyes flashed gold and the rest of the knights fell dead. And then she reached Merlin.
“You insignificant little worm!” she spat, and backhanded him brutally across the face. Merlin fell backwards, his strength gone, and lay there, breathing heavily. The king and queen watched with fear filled eyes as Morgana pulled out a long and gleaming knife, and crouched beside their best friend.
“Look at the all-powerful Emrys,” she drawled, “Not so powerful now, are we?”
Arthur cursed inwardly and struggled harder. He had to save Merlin, or his life would be worth nothing. He had spent a long time denying that, but no more.
“I will wipe you off the face of this earth like the scum you are, Emrys,”
Arthur fought his bonds.
“I think using this knife instead of magic will be more fun, don’t you, my dear?”
Please, please, please, Arthur begged in his head, someone help him.
Morgana put her face close to Merlin’s. “Goodbye, old friend,” she whispered, and raised the knife.
Arthur and Gwen screamed out.
And a loud crash echoed around the room as something large and black dropped down from the huge candleabra on the ceiling. Morgana spun round, mouth open in shock, and Gwaine raised his head, his teeth bared in a challenge.
“Die, bitch,” he grinned, and shoved his knife into Morgana’s heart.