13. High Stakes

Sir Percival, Sir Lanceor, and Sir Ulfius brought Catalina before the king in the great hall of Camelot. Then, they sent for Lady Viviane, who accused her of murdering Dame Bradán. King Arthur attempted to defend Catalina by stating that there was a lack of evidence.

“Where’s the body of Dame Bradán?” the king asked Lady Viviane.

“It is burnt to ashes,” Lady Viviane said through gritted teeth.

“It wasn’t me,” Catalina repeated once more.

“Liar!” Lady Viviane snarled ferociously as she glared at the Spaniard with reddened, glistening eyes. “I saw you kill her with my very own eyes!”

“As did many of the others who were there,” Sir Ulfius added.

“Thank you, Sir Ulfius,” King Arthur said, prompting Sir Ulfius to deliver a showy bow in reply.

“With this many eyewitnesses,” King Pellinore piped up from the right of King Arthur’s throne. “She must be sure to be an enchantress. A murderous one.”

“You are all being taken for fools,” Catalina said. “This is the work of that tricky Irish Damsel.”

“I know what I saw!” Lady Viviane cried out.

King Arthur sat there, scratching his beard.

“You must,” Lady Viviane begged on her knees at King Arthur’s feet. “After all, did I not retrieve the Sword for you, your Majesty? Did you not promise me a favor? Perhaps you are unfit to wield such a sword of justice.”

“Yes, the sword…” King Arthur trailed off. “What was its name again… Carbon Cutter…?”

“Excalibur!” Lady Viviane cried out the name in horror, then stretched a finger out at Catalina. “I want her executed for killing my mother!”

The barons and knights looked at the king.

“Fine,” King Arthur said, clearing his throat and shifting side-to-side in his throne uncomfortably. “We will execute Catalina the Spaniard of Northumberland by way of conflagration.”

Catalina laughed.

“What a strong king,” she said. “To be swayed by a little girl.”

Sir Kay snarled at her, then spat in her general direction.

The knights raised a wooden stake, and built a pyre under it. Then, they tied Catalina to it with strong rope.

“Before you end my life, you ought to know,” Catalina said. “That you are all about to murder an innocent woman.”

“Silence!” Sir Percival cried out as Sir Lanceor lit the pyre beneath the stake.

The court watched as the flames spread beneath her, quickly climbing the stake to which she was tied to.

Sir Balan burst through the doors of the great hall, just in time for him to witness the death of his own mother.

“What is going on?!” he cried out in horror as he sprinted to save her. But it was too late. The blaze swelled quickly. He stopped to shield himself from the fire.

“Why, boy?” she asked aloud with a sad smile as the flames consumed her before him. “Why couldn’t you just find… a nice northern gal?”

Sir Lamorak, son of King Pellinore and brother of Sir Percival, carried out the execution and set the pyre aflame with a lit torch.

Her smile was quickly shrouded by the flames that surrounded her. The bright embers engulfed her whole, and there was nary a sound save for the crackle of the burning wood.

Sir Balin sobbed as he collapsed to the ground for a while, before getting back on his feet.

“What have you done?” he asked her as he approached Lady Viviane, shaking her by her shoulders. “Why have you murdered her?!”

“I commanded it,” King Arthur replied on her behalf. “Sir Balin, your mother was a murderer, and for this she has been punished. I forbid you to blame her, for it was the only fair outcome in my eyes.”

Sir Balin looked at at King Arthur in disbelief.

“Yes, indeed,” the king said. “On this day, justice has been served.”

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