Morgan stood in the throne room, inching her way towards Chris. No one could see her through the glamour she’d woven. Even if they looked directly at her, they would see nothing.
An angry scowl marred her features. It looked like her soldiers were losing. Where were the reinforcements that idiot Lot promised to send? They should’ve been here by now. Chris and his men wouldn’t have stood a chance. Morgan should never have depended on a man. But her cousin, Maude, had assured her the soldiers would be there.
She saw Chris dispatch another of her men and a dark fury overtook her. He was the cause of all her problems. He was the obstacle that blocked her success!
His back was to her. He was intent on the battle in front of him. Morgan pulled out one of the daggers she kept hidden in her gown. Chris was wearing a helm and a mail shirt, but nothing to protect his neck. He was vulnerable. If she couldn’t be ruler of Camelot, neither would he.
She held the dagger up, ready to plunge it into her hated enemy’s flesh. A hand captured her wrist before her knife could touch Chris. She swung at her assailant with another dagger she’d secreted in her billowy sleeve. She cut his hand, but he wouldn’t let go. He grabbed both her wrists and dragged her away from Chris. Morgan finally looked at him. Ezra. Her worthless brat! She should’ve known. Ezra had enough knowledge of magic to see through glamours.
His tunic was covered in blood. He’d obviously been deep in battle himself. “I was just about to get rid of him once and for all when you interrupted, you idiot! I don’t have the energy to cast another glamour so soon. You’ll have to make yourself useful for once and kill him for me.”
Ezra didn’t move.
“Kill him! You’re compelled to obey me!”
“Oh. You mean because of that little trinket you gave me? I seem to have lost it. How careless of me.”
She hadn’t noticed the medallion was no longer around his neck. “Obey me, boy! I’m your mother!”
“We all have our crosses to bear.”
“You wouldn’t let them hurt your mother, would you?”
Ezra sneered. “With the mood I’m in I’d be willing to hurt you myself, but I think the king has it in mind to capture you and force you to endure the humiliation of a public trial and execution. I wouldn’t want to deprive him of that.”
“He wouldn’t harm a woman. Chivalry demands…”
“Chivalry?! You expect him to treat you gently because you’re a woman? To him you’re a heartless murderess. You killed his family!”
“Not all his family. You could intercede on my behalf. You are his son, after all. Surely that means something to the man.”
Ezra laughed. “I didn’t know you had a sense of humor. I mean nothing to him.”
She changed tactics. “You helped me. Even before the amulet you were my accomplice. If anyone doubts that, I’ll make sure they know it. You’ll be executed right along beside me. But if we work together…”
“Give you another chance to use me and then discard me? Not likely.”
“And what chance do you think you’ll have with Chris? He’s not the forgiving type.”
Ezra knew all too well how Chris expelled his anger with violence. He fully expected to die beside his mother. But he wouldn’t stain what little honor he had left by helping her. He wouldn’t betray the king…his father, again. “At least we’ll finally get to spend some time together as a family. Your dungeon cell will probably be right next to mine.”
Morgan didn’t like his sarcasm one bit. She should’ve known he’d turn on her—ungrateful whelp! She’d given him life, purpose, and now he betrayed her. Morgan couldn’t even count on her own flesh and blood. She sneered. “Well, you won’t have to worry about that, my dear boy. That dagger was dipped in poison.”
Ezra had been wondering why felt light-headed. He’d thought it was the rush of battle at first, but now he knew she was correct. It was poison. Ezra should have recognized the feel of it from the many times Maude had used him to practice on with her many potions and antidotes. Strange. He wondered what type of poison it…
“EZRA!” Vin desperately fought his way across the room to reach his fallen friend. Chris saw Ella run from the room and decided to take care of her once and for all.
Vin pulled Ezra into the shadows. The fighting was almost over, but he didn’t want to take any chances. “Come on, Ezra! What’s wrong with you?” His head was drooping strangely and his eyes looked glazed. What kind of injury would do that?
Josiah knelt down beside him. He’d just arrived from another part of the castle where he’d led some of Chris’s soldiers to victory. “Poison. It’s seeping through his aura like a black liquid. I can slow it down a bit, but we need Nathan.”
Vin made to leave, but a hand on his arm stopped him. Ezra had managed to rouse himself.
“Lay still, Ez. I’m going to get Nathan.”
Ezra was losing consciousness. He knew he was dying. Vin had to listen. “I didn’t let her kill him. Please tell him. I didn’t let her… He has to know. I chose… I chose…”
Vin patted Ezra’s arm. “I know, friend. You did real good. I’ll tell him.”
Morgan sped through the halls, heading for the stables. She needed to get to her horse. In all the confusion, she should be able to escape the castle. But she would be back. Christofer would not have the last laugh. Oh, no. She would return and Camelot would be hers. She just needed a new plan. Yes. A new plan.
She almost ran into a woman as she hurried around the corner. “Get out of my way, wench!” Morgan pushed past her. Two steps later, she noticed a sharp pain in her back. She put her hand behind her, feeling the area. When she took her hand away, it was wet with blood. Morgan looked back at the woman she’d brushed past. “W…What?”
The blonde stood there, expressionless. “That’s for making me think Stephen was still alive.”
Morgan fell to the floor, the hilt of Queen Mary’s small dagger sticking out of her back.
Chris had come charging around the corner just in time to hear Mary’s words. Buck came upon the two of them a moment later, finding them standing over Ella’s body. The jovial knight noticed whose weapon it was sticking out of Ella’s back. “Well! I didn’t see that one coming! I think I like this queen of yours.”
Chris gave him a deadly glare.
“No! No! Not like that! She’s nice, but not all that special…I mean she’s okay for a queen…I mean some people, like a king, might like that type of woman…I mean… Uh, I think I’d better go…go see how the others are doing! Yes! I’ll go see if they need any help.” Buck turned on his heels and practically ran the other way.
Chris looked at his new wife and grinned. “Me, too, Buck. Me, too.” He met her eyes. Mary nodded that she was fine. Chris turned to follow Buck.
When they reached the throne room, the fighting was over. His men were injured and tired, but they were victorious. He noticed Ezra lying on the floor.
“What’s wrong with him?”
Nathan shook his head in disgust. “Poison. Josiah’s trying to slow it down as much as he can. That won’t stop it, though. My poultice is drawing some of it out, but not enough. I don’t know, Chris. We could lose him. I just don’t know.”
Josiah brushed back a stray lock of hair from Ezra’s forehead. “She must have been using a glamour. That’s why none of you saw her. A glamour can make someone appear to be something they aren’t—or even make it so others don’t notice them at all. A glamour takes a lot of energy and is hard to maintain, but she only would’ve needed a few minutes to get to you, Chris. Somehow Ezra was able to see through her magic.”
Vin nodded. “I glanced your way for a minute and there wasn’t anybody there. Ezra comes in and starts grabbing at the air. Couldn’t figure what he was doing. Then all of a sudden Ella’s standing right there and Ezra’s got a hold of her. They were arguing and then he just fell over.”
As the others trickled in to report, Vin grabbed Chris’s arm and pulled him aside. “I know you don’t believe it, but he’s loyal to you, Chris. Ezra saved your life and now he’d probably going to die. Ella was going to stab you and none of us noticed until it was too late. He begged me to tell you that he didn’t let her kill you. It was important to him that you know that.”
“What if he lives? What are we going to do with him?”
Vin’s voice was a harsh whisper. “You saying it’s better he die? Is that what you want?”
“Of course not! But all this is so…”
“Strange? I bet Ezra feels the same way. He’s your son. He had a chance to help her but he didn’t. He chose you.” Vin slapped him good-naturedly on the shoulder. “You’ll figure something out.”
Vin left him to ponder that. His son. An arrogant, duplicitous, irritating popinjay. But looking over at the unconscious man, Chris couldn’t help but think of how young and innocent he looked right now. Ezra was Ella’s son, but Chris could see his own mother in Ezra’s features. Maybe he wasn’t completely Ella’s after all.
Maybe…maybe he could take some time to find out. He’d lost one son already. Could he afford to lose another because of his own foolishness? Noticing the ashen pallor of Ezra’s face, Chris worried that it might not be up to him.