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Thread: [OneShot] Blood Arthur

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    [OneShot] Blood Arthur

    Here's a quick short I did as a writing exercise. Any and all feedback (especially constructive criticism) would be greatly appreciated!

    Special thanks to You for pointing me in the right direction for reading about Mordred, as I have read basically zero Apocrypha and I never bothered to go past Okeanos in GO. I'll let you decide if I did a good job portraying Mordred's character, but I tried my best, considering the limited space I was working with.

    Estimated reading time is about half an hour (just under 7k words). Like comment subscribe etc etc.

    Also if you would like to get in the mood to read a Mordred-based fic, this is my personal recommendation.

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    The sound of metal striking stone pulled Mordred from sleep.

    Vaguely, the oddness of that fact registered in the back of her head. It wasn't that the sound was out of place - but the fact that it had awoken her was certainly strange. After all, the sound came from her own feet, marching forwards. Had she really been asleep? As she pondered the question with a yawn, she continued trudging forwards. She didn't know where she was, but as there was nothing around her but darkness, she didn't really have that many options.

    As she pressed on, she took in what little she could of her surroundings. The lighting was terrible, only allowing her to make out that she was walking through a narrow stone corridor. It was somewhat reminiscent of her old home in Camelot. There were no windows, no doors, not even a torch holder to be seen, leaving the details of the hallway up to the imagination. The sound of her footsteps, however, were clear as day. Metal on stone, that familiar ring, announcing her approach to whoever or whatever lay in front of her.

    There was one thing clearly visible, however. In the distance, far ahead of her, was a soft, yellow light. A quick glance over her shoulder showed there was nothing but empty blackness behind her, so with a shrug, she continued walking forwards. Sure, she didn't know where she was, or what she was doing here, but she wasn't going to find out by sitting around in this dingy hallway.

    As she walked, she took a quick review of her condition. She was wearing her full armour, though her helm appeared to be absent. Her sword was strapped firmly to her back, making it seem like whatever she had been doing, she had prepared herself for battle. It was hard to imagine she could have forgotten that she had set off for battle, but as that reality confronted her, she couldn't really argue the fact.

    Strangely, despite her apparent amnesia, she felt...at ease. Her purpose and location were a mystery, but she felt no concern about them. Maybe it was the nostalgic stone walls and floor that put her mind at ease, but whatever the case, she felt at home. As if she had walked this hallway more than once before.

    The light, apparently, had been a lot closer than she had originally guessed. Within a few short minutes she had arrived at the source, an open doorway leading into a brightly lit chamber. Shielding her eyes from the glare with a gauntleted hand, she didn't even slow down as she stepped into the chamber.

    As her eyes adjusted to the light, she took in her surroundings with a light sigh. The dark, dingy hallway had opened up into yet another hallway. This one was much more spacious, but it still gave her no hints as to where she was or what she was doing here.

    The wide open area was filled with the yellow-orange glow of sunset, streaming in through stained-glass windows larger than she was. The soft, golden light dyed the stone floor and the enormous pillars that dotted the room the same hue, giving the room a warm, inviting feel.

    Seeing something out of the corner of her eye, Mordred paused. On the massive stone pillar closest to the door, almost too small to be seen, she could see two faint scratches in the stone. Tilting her head to the side as she thought, she slowly approached the pillar. From up close, it was obvious that the scratches were made very intentionally - two vertical gouges in the stone, a few inches long each, parallel.

    "I'm not sure what's in here," Mordred said to herself with a grin as she retrieved her sword from her back, "but I guess I'm the third one to come through?"

    With one fluid motion, her sword came down, grazing the stone pillar on its way. Heaving Clarent back onto her back, she nodded in satisfaction. A deep third stroke, symbolizing her passage, now accompanied the previous two. Her work complete, she turned back to continue her march forward.

    Maybe it was just because the previous hallway had been so narrow, but the more she walked through the room, the larger it seemed. At a glance, she guessed that almost fifty men could walk shoulder to shoulder down it - if a few of them didn't mind walking into the stone pillars that were placed every twenty feet or so. And while the width was certainly impressive, she couldn't even see to the end of its length. Rather than be impressed, however, the size of the room was starting to discourage her. If she was going to have to walk to the end of this room as well...

    After another minute or so of walking, however, that discouragement was washed away. In the distance, standing in the middle of the gold-soaked hall, was a single shard of silver.

    It was impossible for her not to recognize the person before her, even from this distance. Though they were no more than a speck of light, that was enough for Mordred.

    In an instant, her vague, casual attitude toward her situation had exploded into a storm of mixed emotion. Excitement. Anger. Joy. Sorrow. Anticipation. Regret.

    Determination.

    As she approached the lone figure, she did something very unlike her. She pushed those emotions down, bottled them away. Though every instinct, every emotion pushed her to charge forward with all her might, she kept to her steady pace, kept her eyes locked on the figure before her.

    She knew why she was here.

    At long last, she was being given her chance.

    She didn't know who was responsible for setting this up, or who she should thank, but she would be sure to do so if she ever figured out.

    Within five paces of the silver and blue knight, Mordred finally stopped. Drawing Clarent from its place on her back, she planted it in the stone floor in front of her point down, both hands on the pommel, mimicking the posture of the figure before her.

    "Greetings, Father. I have come to be judged."

    Mordred couldn't keep the grin from her face as she spoke. This situation...it felt like a dream come true.

    No, that wasn't quite right. As her father, as King Arthur opened her eyes slowly and regarded Mordred before her, Mordred knew it was something much more important than that.

    This was destiny.

    "Greetings, Mordred. I am glad to see you well." With her face void of emotion, eyes betraying not a hint of her thoughts, Arthur - Arturia - spoke.

    Just as Mordred felt surprisingly calm, there was a surprising lack of tension in the air between them. The last time they had seen each other, they had fought to the death. Indeed, both of them had died. Yet her Father's words held no lie in them. Granted, her face and voice carried the emotion of a stone, but that was something Mordred was used to. There was no animosity there, no anger or hate.

    Heaving her sword up to rest on her shoulder, Mordred spoke again. "I presume you aren't open to rethinking your assessment of me as king after Camlann?"

    Arturia met Mordred's question with a straight gaze. "Have you changed since then?"

    Mordred shrugged with a chuckle. "I guess not, huh?"

    Arturia's flat gaze was answer enough.

    Mordred gave an exaggerated sigh. "I suppose that was hoping for too much." Lifting her sword off her shoulder and pointing it at Arturia, Mordred began grinning again. "So I guess it's back to changing your mind by force, huh?" The grin froze on her face, though, as Arturia's expression changed.

    The smallest twitch of the brow, the barest narrowing of the eyes as she dropped her gaze.

    "Your prowess with a sword does not reflect on your capacity to rule, Mordred." She spoke quietly, as if she knew the effect her words would have. "Trying to prove yourself by killing me is meaningless."

    The sharp ring of the tip of Mordred's blade striking the floor punctuated her father's sentence. "Meaningless?" Almost like she was watching from afar, Mordred could see her own composure begin to crumble as the rage boiling beneath began to surface. "When I told you fighting any more was meaningless at Camlann, that didn't stop you."

    Finally breaking her stance, Arturia pulled her sword from the ground and held it at her side. "Then how many times must you kill me to be satisfied, Mordred? How many times must I kill you before you understand? If what you want is my approval, you will not gain it like this."

    Mordred raised her sword in front of her with one hand in a ready stance, but otherwise remained silent.

    Seeing Mordred take her stance, Arturia's face retook its stoic passivity. Her emotions were once more unreadable, but she didn't move, sword still uselessly hanging at her side. The passing seconds felt like an eternity to Mordred, but eventually, Arturia closed her eyes and dropped her head. One more breath, and she raised her sword. As she did so, it began to glow faintly gold, matching cleanly with the dusk light of the room.

    The King's eyes opened, and where cool emotionlessness had been, a steel-hard resolve had taken its place.

    "Very well. Let us settle this one more time."

    The words had barely left her mouth when Mordred struck. With the distance between the two of them already vanishingly small, it took only the blink of an eye for her to step in and thrust, aiming for her father's throat.

    But Arturia had been ready. Without any sense of hurry or hesitation, the King of Knights sidestepped the thrust, bringing her sword up to parry. With the flick of her wrist, Clarent was knocked up and away. Though Mordred's grip remained firm, there was no way she could bring her sword about to defend against Arturia's counterattack, a horizontal slash across Mordred's stomach. A split second before the counterattack came, the red knight dropped to the floor with a whirl, carrying the momentum of her deflected thrust into an upward slash of her own.

    The sharp sound of metal on metal filled the room as Arturia was thrown backwards by the explosive force of Mordred's sword. Her attack missing Mordred by a hair's breadth, it was all she could do to bring her sword back to block Mordred's slash. Though the impact of the blow and launched her backwards a few feet, she landed steadily, sword at the ready once more. She had no time to rest, however, as Mordred leapt forwards after her.

    Blow after blow, Mordred's onslaught continued. She attacked without regard to defense, yet there were no openings to exploit. As her father danced backwards, dodging when she could and parrying when she couldn't, there was barely any room for either of them to breathe. From time to time, a strong parry would open a window of opportunity, and the silver knight would strike back, but Mordred would simply avoid her sword by the narrowest margin and continue pressing the attack.

    Yet even under this unrelenting pressure, Arturia showed no signs of stress. Her movements were crisp and unhurried, dodging each attack with a calm elegance that even the untrained eye could see. Each step backwards became a setup, leading Mordred into overcomitting. Each parry became an attack, driving Clarent away while chopping, thrusting, striking at its owner. As if she was learning to read Mordred's attacks, both combatants could feel Arturia slowly leeching the momentum of the fight. As the parries became more frequent, the counterattacks came closer and closer to their mark. Before long nicks and scratches began to appear over Mordred's armour.

    Feeling the control of the battle leaking away, Mordred planted her feet solidly, bracing herself to jump as she unleashed a backhanded slash aimed at her father's head. As the inevitable parry turned her feint aside, she lunged forward.

    For a brief instant, Mordred saw surprise in her father's eyes. In the next, she had plowed into her with a full shoulder tackle, sending the blue and silver knight sprawling backwards. Following up with a diagonal slash aiming for her left shoulder, Arturia was forced to roll backwards to avoid being split in two. Pressing forward, Mordred lunged forward with a one-handed thrust at the King of Knights' chest.

    As Arturia came up on one knee, swinging Excalibur upwards, Mordred uncharacteristically hesitated. In that one instant, that one fraction of a second of indecision, Arturia's sword slammed hard into Mordred's - no more than an inch from the hilt.

    Though her split second of hesitation had saved her from losing a hand, the impact of the blow had been enough to throw Clarent from its owner's grip. Even disarmed as she was, though, Mordred hesitated no longer.

    Her right hand still stinging from having her sword torn away by force, she brought her left hand forward, fingers outstretched, and reached for Arturia's face. On one knee and with her sword splayed out to the side after her counter, Arturia seemed all but defenseless. But as Mordred's gauntleted fingers reached within a hands breadth of her eyes, Arturia dropped her head and rolled forward. Standing as she was, Mordred was forced to leap forward as well, rolling over her shoulder to avoid Arturia bowling through her legs.

    As she rolled, she slammed her left hand onto the stone floor, loosening the bindings on her gauntlet. Righting herself, she wasted no time spinning around and, with the flick of her wrist and forearm, sent the gauntlet hurtling towards her opponent's face.

    As she had expected, Arturia had been quicker to recover, and was caught mid-stride by the makeshift projectile. Though she was easily able to bat away the metallic hand with her sword, she was forced to stop her forward motion to do so - buying Mordred the time she needed to catch the falling Clarent out of the air.

    Once again, the two knights took ready stances facing each other, allowing the battle to fall into a short lull.

    Both combatants watched each other with steady eyes. Arturia, her composure perfectly intact, watched Mordred with the same emotionless gaze she had worn at the time they first met. Mordred, though her eyes burned, also had an unexpectedly calm expression. Though her berserk style of combat seemed to imply that she had lost herself to her rage, her expression showed no signs of that madness.

    The truth was, even that mad fighting style was a calculated decision on her part. Yes, she was angry. Her rage against the injustices her father had leveled against her fuelled her like no other motivation could. But even she did not let that dull her wits. Though her attacks seemed to rely on brute force and lack any coherent technique, that in and of itself was her technique.

    Power. Speed. Technique. Reflexes. Experience. Even luck. In all of these things, her father was superior. Though Mordred had the utmost confidence she could defeat her father in single combat, even she could not deny this simple truth. In every way, by every measure, the King of Knights had an advantage. If one were to apply numbers to their strengths and weaknesses, it would seem to anyone that Mordred had no chance at winning.

    But this, too, was within Mordred's expectations. Despite how her armour might make her look, she was fairly small and slender. Even as she fought as a knight under her father's rule, her opponents had almost exclusively been larger and stronger than her. As young as she was, they almost always had spent longer training with their weapons than she had been alive - many times over. Her strategy, her technique, had to account for that difference in strength and skill.

    Unfortunately, her opponent knew her too well. While normally her strategy of overwhelming force and speed was enough to overcome most opponents while they still underestimated her or overestimated themselves, her father didn't fall for that trap. She did not wait for opportunities, she made them. She would cut open a place for her to attack and then strike, raining counter after counter on her even as she pressed the attack.

    If she relented for even a moment, that would be the window through which Arturia would strike her down. Even against an opponent too skilled for her to simply overwhelm in the first few moments of combat, she had no leniency to change her style. All she could do was lay pressure onto her opponent as much as she could, and hope their defence would crack before she slipped up.

    Against an opponent like her father, attempting to be cautious was not just suicide - it was a very quick suicide.

    Mordred slowly shifted her weight downwards, bending her knees and leaning ever so slightly forward. Their first exchange had ended in her father's favour, but that meant little in the greater scheme of the battle. Taking a deep breath, she kicked off the stone floor, launching herself forward with a shout.


    *****************************


    For what seemed like the hundredth time, the two blades crashed into each other, filling the hall with the sound of metal striking metal. A split second before Mordred could react, Arturia sank low and swung her sword with a wide flourish, throwing the red knight backwards.

    For what seemed like the hundredth time, Mordred had been repelled.

    It felt like they had been fighting for hours, yet the sun outside the windows hadn't seemed to move in the slightest. And while she was certainly still alive and healthy, Mordred had long ago began to become frustrated with her lack of progress.

    While both knights sported a fair number of shallow cuts and scratches, neither of them had taken any damage that would be enough to amount to a distraction.

    The pattern had stayed fundamentally the same. Mordred would engage, trying to overwhelm her father. She would inevitably fail, and when it became apparent that she had no chance of breaking through, Mordred would take a desperate gamble. She would get within inches of killing the silver-blue knight, but at the last possible second, Arturia would turn it around and Mordred would be forced into a desperate disengage to avoid certain death herself.

    Despite the hours of fighting, Arturia looked no worse for wear. Aside from the numerous minor scratches she bore, her calm demeanour showed her steadfast readiness. It was difficult to tell how much of that was a mask, but even if it were, the fact she had the composure to hold up that mask was enough proof that she was in better shape than Mordred.

    Because Mordred, over-exerting herself in every clash, was slowly feeling exhaustion creeping up on her. Her sword, and especially her armour, were feeling heavier and heavier. Her arms and legs were moving slower and slower, and Arturia's attacks were cutting deeper and deeper. Her strategy of quickly overwhelming her opponent was not working, and sticking to it seemed like it would accomplish little more than tire her out little by little until she finally made a mistake she couldn't recover from.

    Without breaking eye contact, Mordred planted her sword point-first into the ground. She then methodically set about unfastening and removing her armour.

    Arturia watched unmoving as piece after piece of Mordred's heavy plate armour fell to the floor. Surely, she must have known that she could easily kill Mordred while she was busy undressing, but even so she didn't move an inch. Of course, Mordred had expected as much. Her father wasn't one to attack someone while they were vulnerable. It would stain her honour too much to cut down someone who couldn't defend themselves.

    What a joke.

    Battle was battle. It was just plain stupid to put down your weapon while in the middle of a fight. Refusing to attack because your opponent had made themselves vulnerable was begging to be blind sided by some sort of dirty trick.

    Unfortunately, Mordred didn't have any such dirty tricks to pull. As the last piece of armour fell to the stone floor with a clang, she retrieved her sword from its resting place and returned to her one-handed guard stance. She was too tired after hours of fighting to keep up with her armour on. Without it, not only would her stamina last longer, but even as tired as she was she would be able to move faster than before. It was the typical strategy of a berserker like herself - forego all defense in an attempt to make your offense strong enough to cover it.

    Her armour had been far from useless so far, but she needed a drastic change in order to overcome Arturia's seemingly impervious defences. Whether she knew Mordred's fighting style that well, or her instincts were just that good, Mordred's attacks failed to take her by surprise every time. So, she would just have to move fast enough that even when she knew it was coming, Arturia would be unable to defend against it.

    "I don't understand, Father..." As Mordred lunged forward, she broke the silence that had hung between them since the beginning of the fight.

    Sparks flew as Clarent struck Excalibur. Mordred stepped into range, but she did not push - both she and Arturia held their ground as they exchanged blows, trading parry for parry. After an exchange that lasted no more than five seconds, Mordred leapt backwards, opening up the space between them once more.

    "I don't understand who you think could be suitable as king aside from me!" Good. Their light exchange showed that with her new speed, she was indeed slightly faster than her father. It wasn't enough to overwhelm her, but it was enough that she could control the fight as she needed. "You are strong enough to stand against the greatest heroes of the world. Who else but I can even come close to you?"

    Mordred leapt forward again as she ranted. She knew words would have no affect on her father, but these words were for Mordred herself. While removing her armour had been an important step to conserving energy as she grew more and more tired, this would help too - sharpening her grudge, wearing her anger like clothing, fuelling her sword with her own rage. That would give her the energy needed to persevere through her exhaustion.

    Mordred's next blow landed with explosive force. Unlike the blows before it, this one sent Arturia staggering backwards, retreating a few steps to keep her balance. This time, Mordred pushed forward after her. As she followed up with another swing, however, her father met her with a massive return strike. At the last second, Mordred twisted her sword down into a block. It was her turn this time to be sent skidding backwards, and she used the opportunity to disengage once more.

    Arturia's expression seemed to falter for the briefest moment before it returned to its usual mask of calm. "If it were about physical strength, or combat prowess, you would be more than qualified." She spoke in a low voice, as if the words themselves made her sad.

    "Then why!!" Mordred all but screamed as she lunged forward a third time with an overhead smash. Mordred had expected stoic silence in response to her challenge. Receiving an answer caused the anger she was nursing to flare up violently.

    This time prepared for the excessive force, Arturia received the blow with a straight block before turning Clarent aside and retaliating. Mordred stepped back just outside the range of the incoming sword before closing again with a more conservative slash. Once again, her father met the blow with a straight block. Forcing them to lock swords over and over, Arturia was preventing Mordred from gaining any momentum, and once again she was forced to disengage.

    This time, however, Arturia pursued.

    Mordred couldn't help but grin with satisfaction.

    As Arturia's blade came at her from the left, Mordred raised Clarent over her head like a makeshift shield and rolled under it. The now awkward angle caused Excalibur to slide off Clarent smoothly, allowing Mordred to quickly roll behind her and regain her footing. Without pause, she turned back to face her father and attacked again.

    Like a switch had been flipped, Mordred's old fighting style came back with a vengeance. As blow after blow rained down on Arturia, it was clear there was no conservation of strength any more. With her movements faster than ever before, Arturia had no room to counterattack between her parries, and when she opted for a straight block, Mordred would step in and shove her back.

    It was like a repeat of the beginning of the battle. Mordred pressed forward relentlessly, and her father could do nothing but parry, dodge, and retreat. Just like at the beginning of the battle, however, each step backwards granted her a little more room to breathe, and before long she would have the space to mount a counterattack. It would just be a repeat of the beginning, except this time, Mordred would have no armour to protect her from her mistakes.

    Last time, she had been forced to perform a desperate maneuver to prevent herself from eventually falling to the counters. This time, however, that wouldn't be necessary.

    Because she had already done it.

    With one last shout, channeling all her built-up rage and resentment towards her father, Mordred swung Clarent like a hammer. Arturia again opted for the straight block, and was forced another step backwards. But this time, as she stepped backwards - she tripped.

    As she attempted to retreat away from Mordred's swing, her foot had landed on a piece of Mordred's discarded armour. A look of incredibly satisfying shock appeared on her face as the armour slid out from under her, sending her sprawling backwards. As she struggled to regain her footing, Mordred pushed her with the flat of her blade, knocking the already off-balance King of Knights onto her back.

    Mordred gave a triumphant cry as she brought sword down in an overhead slash. There was no way her father could avoid the attack in time, and from her position there would be no way she could leverage enough force to knock the incoming blow away. Victory was hers.

    Time seemed to slow as Clarent came down to end the King of Knights. In that brief moment of exultation, however, one thing nagged at Mordred. Arturia's expression was no longer shocked. It was not surprised, nor scared. Her gaze was steady, resolute...

    ...and ready.

    Alarms blared in Mordred's head and panic set in, but it was too late. She had already committed to the swing, the best she could do was redirect it. But even if she could redirect her sword, she couldn't get herself out of the way in time.

    With her right hand, Arturia brought Excalibur up to block the incoming slash. From her position, she wouldn't have the leverage to properly block even with two hands, so at first it seemed like she had made a mistake. But then her left hand moved. Clenched into a fist, the gauntleted hand rocketed forward with a strength and speed far beyond what a woman of her stature should have been able to manage. The steel fist, empowered by a burst of magical energy, hammered into the wrist holding Clarent.

    Having robbed Mordred's swing of its downward force, Arturia was easily able to deflect the falling Clarent with her sword. Before she could mount a counterattack, Mordred grabbed Clarent by the blade with her left hand and hurled herself away, rolling messily across the floor.

    Mordred tried her best to bear the pain, but in the end couldn't stop herself from crying out. Dropping Clarent where she lay, she slowly picked herself up, managing to rise to her knees.

    As one might expect, her left hand sported numerous deep gashes from having grabbed her sword by the blade. While luckily she hadn't lost any fingers, the stinging pain was enough to remind her that it hadn't been the smartest idea.

    Unfortunately, her only other choice was to abandon the sword, which would have been equally suicidal. She would no longer be able to hold it in her right hand, after all.

    Arturia's last ditch punch had been a surprising development. It was honestly very similar to how Mordred herself would have likely reacted in that situation. Attacking the opponent's wrist like that was a good way to break their grip and dislodge their weapon, leaving them wide open to being disarmed - and dismembered. With Mordred's armour abandoned, however, her normally gauntleted wrist had been completely unprotected. Backed by a surge of mana, even from her awkward spot on the ground Arturia's punch had been more than strong enough to smash the bones in her wrist to pieces.

    In all honesty, Mordred was a little surprised her hand was still attached at all. It didn't make much difference - with her wrist in this condition, she wouldn't be able to hold a sword, let alone fight with one.

    Mordred's eyes burned with anger. Not because she had been tricked, or because her father had fought dirty. No, there was nothing dishonourable about what had happened. Mordred herself would have been the first to endorse that kind of behaviour. She was simply furious at having been so close to victory, and then getting outplayed so handily.

    Turning her eyes back to her father, she saw Arturia was once again standing, holding her sword in a ready position. Once again unmoving, her gaze steady and face emotionless, waiting for Mordred to rise again before continuing the fight.

    It was laughable. There was no way Mordred could continue fighting like this. Even mana bursting herself, there was no way her left hand could match her father's strength or speed. The battle was all but over.

    ...but even so, Mordred rose again.

    Grabbing Clarent - by the hilt this time - with her left hand, she slowly lurched to her feet, still growling under her breath at the pain from having her wrist completely destroyed. The blood from the various open wounds on her hand made the hilt unexpectedly slick, reinforcing how futile it was to attempt to continue fighting.

    "...then why..." Mordred picked up their previous conversation in a low voice, stepping towards her opponent. "What am I missing that you think is so important?"

    "You are missing the most important requirement to become king," Arturia replied, her voice imperious. After all that, she wasn't even breathing hard.

    "What? What could I be missing?! I have the strength! I have the blood!" She took another step forward as she shouted. "I have the will to defend the people! What more do you want from me?!" Before her father could reply, she took another step forward, raising her sword to point accusingly at Arturia. "I am you! In every way but name! I am closer to you than any son or daughter could be! If I don't have it, then how do you?!"

    Mordred froze. As her shouted accusation hung in the air, her father's expression changed. A downcast look, she lowered her sword, before raising her gaze to meet Mordred's once more.

    And in her eyes, Mordred could see nothing but regret.

    "Because I don't have it either," Arturia spoke, her voice barely over a whisper.

    Mordred stood, mouth agape.

    "...w-what?"

    "I had the strength to defeat Britain's foes," Arturia continued, "and the will to persevere through any hardship. But I lacked the love for the people that a king needs. Of course, I did everything I could to protect them, and deliver them happiness. But I did it out of a sense of obligation. I did it because it was my duty, because it was the right thing to do, not because I loved them. Not because I cared about them."

    Mordred could feel the regret in her father's eyes stab through her heart as she spoke.

    "Without a real love for the people, there was no way the people could love me. No, Mordred. People like us are warriors. We make great soldiers, great knights. But we are not fit to be kings."

    Mordred dropped Clarent to her side.

    Was her father saying...that not even she was fit to be king? That the one who was looked up to as the ideal king by everyone, didn't qualify?

    It was absurd. There was no way. No one could possibly doubt that King Arthur was the pinnacle of Kingship. She had sacrificed everything and more for her people. She had been the very epitome of selflessness, doing everything it took to keep her people safe.

    And she said...she wasn't fit to be king?

    As if the sound of Clarent's tip striking the stone floor was a signal...

    ...Mordred snapped.

    "No...no. No! NO!" With a scream, Mordred brought Clarent to bear in a two-handed stance. Likewise, her shattered wrist screamed at suddenly being forced to grip the sword, but Mordred couldn't hear it. "You lie! YOU LIE!"

    In response to her suddenly exploding rage, Clarent began to glow with a blood-red light. All the energy Mordred had left flooded through her hands into that sword, and within seconds a violent storm of crimson lightning began to dance around it.

    She was lying. She was a liar. There was no way this was her king. There was no way this was her father.

    Her father was perfect. Her father was the ultimate king.

    Her father was everything Mordred had ever aspired to be.

    And this imposter dared to take her face, take her name, take her place?

    Tears flowed freely from Mordred's eyes as the truth she couldn't accept tore at her. She couldn't accept it. She wouldn't accept it. Her father was the pinnacle of knighthood, no one but her could be fit to rule the throne. And no one but Mordred could be fit to succeed her.

    The imposter before her continued to speak, but Mordred didn't hear. As she sank further and further into the haze of madness, the crackling magical energy around Clarent became more severe, and the glowing red light became more intense. Blinded by tears and the glow of her own sword, she couldn't see that her father's - no, that the imposter's sword had also begun to glow a blinding gold.

    She would not stand to have this imposter insult her father so. She would judge them with the ultimate power she held. Something inside her told her that there was no way she could fire her Noble Phantasm with her wrist as it was, but that something was smothered deep beneath her righteous fury. Raising Clarent over her head, with an unintelligible scream, she swung the sword, firing a beam of white-red destruction toward her opponent.

    It was nothing compared to what she knew she was capable of. With her right hand destroyed as it was, she had unconsciously only let a small fraction of the power leak out. Any more and the sword would have been torn from her grip, thrown backwards, and she probably would have ended up obliterating herself - never mind the fact that she would miss her target.

    As that last ditch effort she was able to expend raced forwards, in the back of her mind, Mordred heard one last word.

    Excalibur

    That couldn't be right. That was her father's sword. Even if this imposter had somehow managed to get a hold of it, there was no way they would be able to actually use it.

    As a brilliant golden light swallowed her own attack, Mordred could only watch in confusion. For the briefest instant, embraced by that golden brilliance , Mordred felt her rage being washed away. As her body turned to dust, her anger was stripped away, and all that remained was regret.

    Regret at having failed to prove herself.

    Regret at having destroyed everything her father fought for.

    Regret at having lost once again.

    Regret at having doubted the person before her as her father after seeing this unmistakable brilliance.

    Regret at doubting her father now, as the perfect king.

    I'm sorry, Father...

    Even her mournful sob was consumed by that holy light.


    *****************************


    The sound of metal striking stone pulled Mordred from sleep.

    Vaguely, the oddness of that fact registered in the back of her head. It wasn't that the sound was out of place - but the fact that it had awoken her was certainly strange. After all, the sound came from her own feet, marching forwards. Had she really been asleep? As she pondered the question with a yawn, she continued trudging forwards. She didn't know where she was, but the extreme lack of anything around her prompted her to continue forward.

    The hallway she was walking through was almost pitch-black. She could tell from the sound of her armoured footsteps that she was walking on stone, but it was almost impossible to see anything else. Even so, the hallway seemed...familiar. It was as if she had walked this hallway countless times before.

    Mordred shrugged with another yawn as she continued walking forward. It probably seemed familiar just because she had walked down stone hallways like this a thousand times before in Camelot. She had no idea where she was, but the construction of the hallway certainly did have that nostalgic, castle-like feel to it.

    Soon, a soft yellow light became visible in the distance. Instinctively, she knew that it was the exit. She didn't really have any basis for that assumption - it could just as likely be a torch, or a window, but for a reason she couldn't quite put her finger on, she was absolutely sure it was a doorway.

    With an unhurried pace, she approached the light. A quick inspection of her condition showed that she was wearing her full armour, minus the helmet. Clarent was strapped firmly to her back as well, meaning where she had been going, she had likely planned to fight when she got there. It was a little vexing to not remember where she was going, but at least she was prepared.

    In a few short minutes of walking, Mordred arrived at the source of the light, which had indeed been a doorway. The dark, cramped stone hallway opened up into a grand hall, filled with the glow of twilight, stretching off into the distance farther than she could see. The walls, far enough apart that a small army could have marched through, were decorated with enormous stained-glass windows that let the light of the apparently setting sun flood into the room. Every twenty feet or so along the walls, an enormous stone pillar stood, supporting the ceiling dozens of feet above her head.

    The nearest such pillar caught Mordred's eye as she walked into the room. She gave a low whistle as she approached it. The texture of the pillar had looked different from the others from a distance, and from up close, she could easily see why.

    Marring the simple, utilitarian look of the stone pillar were hundreds upon hundreds of scratches and gashes. They were not random, however. Each one was a vertical cut, a few inches long, no more than half an inch deep, and parallel to all the others. Apparently, someone had been using this pillar to keep track of something. Judging from her own circumstances, Mordred immediately came to the conclusion that it was a simple marker keeping track of how many people had come through this hallway.

    "Far be it from me to stray from tradition," Mordred said with an ironic grin. Pulling her sword from her back, she made a swift chop, adding her mark to the hundreds that were already present. Content with her work, she returned Clarent to her back and began her journey down the new hallway in front of her.

    For a short while, she was a little concerned. The hallway, while impressive upon first seeing it, continued to look identical no matter how far she walked. The once-impressive grandeur soon became monotonous and boring, and with no idea how far it stretched, she quickly began to lose patience with it.

    After another few minutes of walking, she finally saw something in the distance - a single point of shining silver.

    As soon as she recognized what she was looking at, her heart exploded with emotions. Excitement. Anxiety. Fear. Anticipation. Apprehension.

    Determination.

    No matter the distance between them, Mordred would never mistake that figure for anyone else. Even so, as her excitement mounted, she did not hurry her pace. Continuing to walk leisurely forward, she approached the silver-blue figure with a sense of calm composure. She now knew exactly why she was here.

    At long last, she was being given her chance.

    Stepping within five paces of the figure before her, Mordred drew Clarent from her back and planted it in the ground in front of her. Resting both hands on the pommel in mimicry of the knight in front of her, she finally spoke.

    "Greetings, Father. I have come to be judged."

    Mordred couldn't keep the grin from her face as she spoke. This situation...it felt like a dream come true.

    No, that wasn't quite right. As her father, as King Arthur opened her eyes slowly and regarded Mordred before her, Mordred knew it was something much more important than that.

    This was destiny.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Alternate title: A Little Place Called Hell

    Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it! I plan on moving on to some larger scale projects in the future, but I'm hoping to refine my writing a little bit before I dive back into the "trilogy of novels" level of fanfic length. So as I said, any and all feedback greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    祖 Ancestor Alternative Ice's Avatar
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    This is some really good writing. Even if you want constructive criticism, I can't find anything wrong with this.

    Can't wait to see what you have planned for the future.

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    紅魔|吸血鬼 Frostyvale's Avatar
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    Very well done. Prose is solid all around. Some things could be different, but it's not even an issue. Characters are very faithfully represented, and the scenario is rather curious. It's a wonderful portrayal of the mutual failings of the father and son.

  4. #4
    Don't @ me if your fanfic doesn't even have Shirou/Illya shipping k thnx ItsaRandomUsername's Avatar
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    Solid writing, solid characterization, a more-than serviceable action setpiece AND a neat twist at the end? One can't ask for more from this. Nice work, TwilightsCall - the vicious cycle of hubris and resentment continues ever onward.
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  5. #5
    Hey, I ainít no lizard! Draconic's Avatar
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    Such brilliant representation of these characters. Style, prose, diction, all perfect.

    I know very little about Mordred beyond what I've read in the Wiki, having only just started Apocrypha, but it seemed faithful to the heart of her character.

    And you really feel sympathy for Mordred, being given an infinite number of chances to defeat her father, for the sole purpose of languishing in her own failure at the last moment. All because she'll always refuse to accept a single belief that Arturia held above everything.

    Even though this fits under the tragedy genre, there's a sort of fathomless horror of the knowledge that she'll go on doing this forever.

    I really can't think of anything you could possibly improve on.

    So, has anyone suggested this piece for the short stories section in the Recommendations thread? Because every minute I can't give it a +1 feels curiously empty.

    Just out of curiosity, what sort of writing exercise was this written for?
    Last edited by Draconic; June 25th, 2016 at 07:55 PM.
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    Drunk Anime Is The True Path. Mattias's Avatar
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    Solid. Really enjoyed the twist at the end. Reminds me of the end of Dark Tower, or the penultimate episode of the last Dr. Who season (without the hope or progress however).

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    The only Saber Clone that matters Ace's Avatar
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    Good writing, twist foreshadowed well, interesting look at the dynamic between the two Sabers. Looking forward to whatever else you end up writing.

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    Presia messe noce yor tes mea TwilightsCall's Avatar
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    Wow, thanks for the comments everyone! I was having doubts as to how interesting it would even be to read, a feeling I'm sure all fanfic writers are very familiar with, so its really encouraging to have all that positive feedback.

    Just out of curiosity, what sort of writing exercise was this written for?
    It was basically an attempt for me to work on my action scenes. In the fanfic contest a number of months ago (the last thing I released publicly) a pretty common critique was that the combat seemed very dry. I figured that was probably because I wrote it too detail-oriented, which while somewhat what I was aiming for at the time, is not really what I wanted to become the norm for my writing. Back before I took a break from writing fanfiction, I also was told that my fight scenes seemed too slow, which again was something I was aiming for at the time but still something I didn't want to become standard. And while in both of those cases the result served my plans fairly well, the fact I had done it more or less unconsciously left me a little uneasy about how well I'd be able to do any other sort of fight.

    This time I tried to experiment by one, actually finishing in less than 10k words, and two, abstracting out the majority of the combat. I didn't completely drop all the details, as I still wanted to show in a very concrete way how Mordred fought, which I felt was better introduced by showing specific examples. So after that first example, I abstracted out almost the entirety of the combat, right until the end of the fight where once again I returned to specific detail to put the nail in the coffin of the whole exchange.

    All in all, I think I'm pretty happy with the result. I'm still not really happy with that last line before the second scene transition, but after like 4 or 5 different stabs at it, I decided to just let it be. I'm sure I could have found something a bit more impactful to write there, but it was kind of missing the point of the whole 'write a short' part to be agonizing over every single line for days.

    (For those who didn't keep up with the contest, if you're interested you can find my entry here. Fair warning its a Melty Blood fic and like 20k words long.)

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