Tintagel Part 8 – Scotland

Last week Morgawse and Morgan constructed a daring plan to go to Lothian and see Prince Lot…

They stumbled to the ground in the middle of a field. Panting and winded, they lay there for a few moments, then Morgan got up and offered Morgawse her hand. The sun had not long set, leaving the sky vividly painted in vibrant reds, oranges, and blues.

“Thanks,” Morgawse stood up. “So, where are we?”

“Well, the air is colder, so we’re obviously further north.”

“True, and I remember Lot told me his father’s capital was near the sea. It’s on a hill called Traprain Law.” She sniffed, “I can definitely smell the sea. Let’s find some respectable passers-by and enquire the way.”

The girls ran over to the gate and clambered over it. They stood on the darkening road a moment, scanning the horizon.

“That looks like the tallest hill around,” Morgawse pointed, “And there are lights on it. Let’s make for that.”

They set off quickly along the road.  In the near distance, a couple of fires burned, and as they got closer they slowed down, creeping in the shadows. The buzz of voices in an unfamiliar tongue faded in and out with the breeze.

“What language is that?” Morgan crouched down as they were getting close.

“I’m not sure, but I think it might be Cumbric,” Morgawse whispered.

They were on the outskirts of a small village. All around, the bulks of squat, single-storey cottages were indistinct through the gathering dusk. The lowing of cattle came from one side of them, and with it the acrid smell of manure.

The voices came from a large fire in the center of the village. Morgawse swallowed down her fear, and boldly went up to them alone, leaving Morgan half hidden behind the corner of a house to magic them out of danger if they attacked her.

“Excuse me, good people.” The unfamiliar language came haltingly to Morgawse’s tongue. The group of men and women turned as one to stare at her. “Can you tell me if that,” she pointed to the hill, “is the…” she searched for the word, ‘capital’ but it would not come, “is the…hall of King Cynfarch?”

They did not answer her at first, because they were all still staring. Despite an inner tremor of fear, Morgawse stood her ground.

“It is,” one of the women said, finally. “But where are you from?”

“The south,” Morgawse replied, “I have urgent business with the royal family. Thank you.” She turned to go but the questions continued.

“You are a noblewoman. You must have companions somewhere. And a horse. Unless you are a sorceress!” A ripple of fear ran through the little crowd, and another woman stood up threateningly.

 

Morgawse’s heart thumped hard, yet she held her chin up and spoke politely, “I am not a sorceress. Thank you.” She ran into the darkness. Morgan joined her and they stumbled on until the fires of the village faded into the distance. They halted, panting.

“Is that the capital?” Morgan asked once she could speak.

“Yes, it is.” Morgawse replied. “It’s still a long way off. Please, do you think you could make a horse or something? I’m getting tired.”

“I just teleported you to Lothian. Don’t be ungrateful!” Morgan snapped.

An hour later, in full darkness, they stood outside the gate of the palace. Judging from the bright light streaming from the hall, and the laughter, feasting was underway inside. Morgawse and Morgan marched up to the gates.

“Open for Lady Morgawse and Lady Morgan of Cornwall.” As they had agreed, Morgawse took the high line.

It worked. The guards opened the gate, too stunned to think. Before they recovered, the girls darted inside and were lost to sight.

They stood outside the great door, collecting themselves. “You have about an hour before we can go back.” Morgan whispered, “Are you nervous?”

“I’m just about to ask a boy to marry me!” Morgawse huffed. “Of course I’m nervous!”

“Then let us go in,” said Morgan. Morgawse lifted up her hand and banged loudly on the door.