“He laid his head down on his arms and said through them, “I am weary, Mother. I am weary and sick of fighting, and I know Arthur is so, too…he has brought peace in these isles – from Cornwall to Lothian. I do not like to think that this great king, this great man, is my enemy and that for the sake of Avalon I must bring him down to nothing, to death or dishonor. I would rather love him, as all men do. I would like to look on my mother – not you, Mother, but lady Morgaine – I would like to look on her who bore me as my mother, not as the great priestess whom I am sworn to obey whatever she bids me. I would that she were my mother, not the Goddess. I wish that when Niniane lay in my arms she were no more than my own dear love, whom I love because she has your sweet face and your lovely voice… I am so weary of gods and goddesses … I would that I had been your son and Lot’s and no more than this, I am so weary of my fate...” And he lay for a long moment quiet, his face hidden, his shoulders shaking. Tentatively, Morgause stroked his hair. At last he raised his head and said, with a bitter grin that defied her to make anything of his moment of weakness, “I will have now another cup of that strong spirit they brew in these hills, without the water and honey this time…” and when it was brought, he drained it, without even looking on the steaming porridge and bannock the girl had brought. “What was it said in those old books of Lot’s, when the house priest beat Gareth and me until our backsides were bloody, trying to teach us the Roman tongue? Who was yonder old Roman who said, ‘Call no man happy until he is dead’? My task, then, is to bring that greatest of all happinesses to my father, and why should I then rebel against that fate?” . . . “So let it be. I drink to death and dishonor…Arthur’s and mine! . . . So let it be as the fates have ordained – THE KING STAG SHALL RULE IN THE FOREST UNTIL THE DAY THE LADY HAS ORDAINED … FOR ALL THE BEASTS WERE BORN AND JOINED WITH OTHERS OF THEIR KIND AND LIVED AND WORKED THE WILL OF THE FORCES OF LIFE AND AT LAST GAVE UP THEIR SPIRITS UNTO THE KEEPING OF THE LADY AGAIN…? -- He spoke the words with a strange, harsh emphasis, and Morgause, untrained in Druid lore, knew that the words were those of ritual, and shivered as he spoke them.”
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