Eternal Knight (Guardians of Camelot #4) - Victoria Sue
Field of Blood – Camlaan 537 AD
All blood ran red, the knight supposed, even his own. It made no difference what side you stood on or what belief you held, whether you were convinced your cause carried the Grace of the Divine, or that you were told simply by your king to bear arms in the direction he instructed. Everyone bled. The righteous. The enemy. Inside you were all the same.
He winced as he tried to draw in another breath and knew that even as the women and the pages were going from body to body of their masters or loved ones, slain or wounded, no one would be coming for him. He’d even seen the healers in the distance, but they were too far away. Too far for him. His chest rattled as he drew another breath, knowing there wouldn’t be many more, and wished his regret away. Wished he had someone that would miss him. Desperately wished his name carried honor. Mourned for the wife and family he would never have.
A shadow fell across his face, and even as he knew his vision would grow dark as he took his last breath, bitterness made his eyes sting, and he closed them. At least he had been given another chance to serve his king, but then he had fallen to the traitor and the witch, and he had failed a second time.
His eyes shot open as he felt the hand upon his own and gazed in disbelief at the king’s wizard. “I thought you dead,” he whispered, for once not guarding his every word and expression.
The lines at the corner of his remarkable blue eyes deepened. “Not quite yet.”
“I’m dying,” the knight said, half in hope that the wizard could perform some miracle, but then he had been unable to save the king, so what act of magic would a disgraced knight merit? He was even surprised the wizard was here.
“I cannot save your life, but I can give you the honor you seek,” Merlin said somberly, and if he had the strength to smile, he would. “But it needs your agreement.”
“How does a wizard need my agreement for anything?”
“It would mean a great sacrifice, more than you have given already.”
He took two breaths, not sure he could speak. “How can I give more than—” But choking robbed him of more words.
“More than your life?” Merlin asked gently.
The knight nodded weakly. Surely it was the ultimate sacrifice.
“I need you to pierce me with your sword.”
The knight scoffed out what he thought was his last breath. Maybe delirium came before death. He had heard it so.
“It would put you in a place I need.” The wizard picked up his sword from where the knight had let it fall and clutched the knight’s hand, forcing his fingers around the hilt because he no longer had the strength to do so. The wizard looked at him with kind eyes. “I need this sacrifice from you to save Camelot.”
“You wish to die?” It made no sense, but the sky grew dim, and even as he knew it was because his sight was failing, he heard the urgency in the wizard’s voice.
“Quickly, they draw near. It has to be you. For England. For your king. For the world. It has to be you that guides the blade. I cannot.”
The knight forced his eyes open. For England. And somewhere he must have gotten strength because pushing the blade through Merlin’s chest was ridiculously easy. But even as it was done and he saw Merlin’s lips part on a soundless cry, he heard the riotous laughter somewhere in his head, which seemed so wrong. Merlin hadn’t raised a sword against him. And in his last moments, he knew that he would never take comfort in the afterlife. Merlin—for some reason he didn’t understand—had just consigned him to hell.
Gawain let himself out of the bedroom and nodded silently to Tom as they traded places. A quick glance into the hallway, which was thankfully empty, and Gawain sagged back against the wall, his knees trembling. He couldn’t do this. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Galahad? Lance’s son? He could feel exhaustion sapping him and glanced fondly at the empty office, his sanctuary.
It had been the longest thirty-six hours of his life, and he’d never felt so…so inadequate. So completely unprepared for what he was supposed to do. Even if he knew what he was supposed to do.
He straightened up at the sound of running steps and forced a