The King's Wizard

The King's Wizard by James Mallory Page B

Book: The King's Wizard by James Mallory Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Mallory
toward, and the king naturally wanted all the world to know that
     he had the aid of a powerful wizard.
    Sir Boris glared distrustfully at Merlin as he pledged his fealty to the new king, but said nothing aloud, for Boris was an
     old campaigner and a practical man, despite his religion. Merlin stepped farther back into the shadows as Gorlois came toward
     the throne with his wife and daughter.
    “Cornwall,” Uther greeted him affably. Gorlois’s presence at the feast was a welcome surprise, if it meant that the young
     Duke would support the new king and not demand sovereignty for his Cornish lands.
    “Your Majesty,” Cornwall said, giving Uther his new title, “May I present the Lady Igraine … and my daughter?”
    There was a long hesitation before that last phrase, as if Gorlois would rather have not mentioned his daughter at all. But
     Igraine was holding so tightly to her hand that there was no way of overlooking the girl.
    Igraine and her daughter both made deep curtseys, and as they rose, Mab appeared behind them like a flicker of black flame.
    No one in Uther’s Great Hall could see her—not even Merlin, for all his power. She took Igraine by the shoulders, and that
     touch was all that was needed to invest Cornwall’s wife with fairy glamour. Over Igraine’s shoulder Mab saw Uther’s expression
     soften and his eyes fill with a foolish, demanding lust as hiseyes rested on the face of Cornwall’s wife. Mab stepped back as Uther spoke.
    “You are welcome to Pendragon, my lady, and you, miss—”
    “Morgan le Fay, Your Majesty,” the girl said promptly, curtseying again. She was quick and alert, and if not for her deformity,
     would have been a child to make any father proud.
    “Cornwall, will you permit me to dance with your lady after the feast?” Uther asked. His eyes never left Igraine’s face.
    Gorlois looked from his king to his wife, and his mouth set in a hard line. “If Your Majesty pleases,” he said reluctantly.
    “Oh yes … yes,” Uther said, nearly gloating. “It will please My Majesty very much. Merlin?” he said as Gorlois shepherded
     his wife and daughter away.
    “Uther?” Merlin answered. Something terribly important had just happened here, and he wasn’t quite sure of what it was.
    “Igraine,” the new king said. “She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”
    Please, let this be a joke!
Merlin thought in sudden incredulous horror. For an instant he almost longed for Vortigern, alive and king, once more. Vortigern
     had been a paranoid tyrant, but he had never lusted after other men’s wives.
    “Beautiful—and someone else’s wife,” he said lightly, trying to make a jest of the matter.
    “But still beautiful,” Uther said. “What does the rest matter?” He stared after Igraine fixedly.
    Merlin followed the direction of Uther’s gaze andhis heart sank. He’d thought Uther could be a good king, but he was beginning to wonder whether he’d expected more of Uther
     than a young man raised as a pensioner at foreign courts could deliver. Now that Uther was king, he was also greedy for everything
     he had been denied in his previous life. Merlin sighed, seeing the future troubles of Uther’s reign clearly now. He’d been
     far too optimistic. It was his own fault for seeing the good in men instead of their weakness; it was the weakness that destroyed
     them in the end.
    Another noble came forward and Gorlois and Igraine vanished into the crowd. Uther’s attention returned reluctantly to the
     business at hand. Merlin took the opportunity to make his escape and mingle with the crowd of revelers. If the king had another
     request to make of him, Merlin didn’t think he could bear to hear it just now.
    He was standing in the doorway, watching Uther on his throne, when he felt a tug at his cloak. He turned to see Gorlois’s
     little daughter watching him. Merlin was no judge of children’s ages, but he thought she could be little more than eight.
     Morgan le Fay was her

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