"In writing fiction, the more fantastic the tale, the plainer the prose should be. Don't ask your readers to admire your words when you want them to believe your story." - Ben Bova [ more quotes ]

PART ONE

DELETED

EXT. TINTAGEL CASTLE - DAY

A wild, romantic castle perched on a cliff beside the sea.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

The Roman empire had fallen, and Britain was alone, under siege from the barbarians as they poured across Europe. My father the Duke of Cornwall had taken up arms to hold them at bay - while at home in Tintagel, my mother sat in her chamber - spinning.

INT. tower CHAMBER (Tintagel) - DAY (gallery)

Tight on a spinning wheel, turning hypnotically.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

But spinning was dangerous for Igraine of Avalon. That endlessly revolving wheel could bring on, unbidden, the Sight.

Pull back to reveal the wheel is a reflection in a moonstone pendant hanging from a silver chain around the neck of IGRAINE, DUCHESS OF CORNWALL: a beautiful, gentle woman in her early twenties.

MORGAINE (V.O.) (cont'd)

Igraine was closer to the doors of the other world than most mortals - closer, in truth, than she wanted to be.

The chamber is a tower room, with rough-hewn granite walls, softened by tapestries. Logs burn in the stone fireplace. There is a thick fog outside; tendrils of it creep in through the stone embrasures of the windows. Igraine's daughter, MORGAINE, a dark-haired, intense girl in her teens is studying a book. For a moment the scene is cosy, domestic, tranquil.

MORGAINE (V.O.) (cont'd)

She came of a line of women in whom the power of the Goddess ran strong. She thought she had already paid the price for that inheritance: but in reality, the payment was just about to begin.

When I think back on it, that afternoon at Tintagel was the last moment of real peace any of us were ever to know.

Morgaine looks up lazily from her book - and realizes something is wrong.

MORGAINE (cont'd)

Mother! Look away! You'll go into the trance!

But Igraine does not respond. Morgaine jumps up.

MORGAINE (cont'd)

Mother!

A hand falls on her arm: it is her aunt MORGAUSE, Igraine's sister. At twenty Morgause has a soft, sensuous, catlike quality: she is lying on a couch now, and does not want to be disturbed.

MORGAUSE

Leave her be! Let her have her visions. There's little enough else here to amuse her.

(with some regret of her own)

Not even a man, since Duke Gorlois went to the wars.

MORGAINE

But aunt, she hates it when the Sight comes on her: her head hurts for days. And my father will be angry if he hears she has gone back to the old ways.

MORGAUSE

Your mother is of the blood of Avalon, Morgaine; the Sight will come to her whether she wills it or not. And the Duke need never hear any of this.

(She grips Morgaine tight)

Need he?

A clash of wills: then suddenly Igraine speaks out in a trance-like voice.

IGRAINE

The Merlin is coming. And my sister Viviane with him. We must make ready.

Morgaine and Morgause look at her: although they are both familiar with the Sight, it still generates a tingle of supernatural awe.

IGRAINE (cont'd)

They bear tidings. All our fates are in their hands: and all Britain's.

MORGAUSE

And what are they bringing for me, sister? A husband? Is Viviane bringing me a duke as she brought Gorlois to you?

(coming closer)

Or am I to remain your unmarried sister forever?

Morgause's urgent questioning snaps Igraine out of her trance: she stares at her sister and daughter as if she had forgotten their existence - and then suddenly becomes utterly focused and businesslike.

IGRAINE

Sister: see the kitchen-master - we must kill the calf from the north pasture. Daughter - tell the servants to prepare rooms for the lady and the Merlin both. And have the harper found - we must have music!

MORGAINE

I have my harp, Mother. I can play.

IGRAINE

You know what Father Cuthbert says about girls who -

MORGAINE

Mother - I can play.

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

A PEASANT is digging in his fields as a wind rises around him: a supernatural breeze we will always associate with the arrival of Viviane. The peasant looks up to see Viviane, Merlin and their servants riding swiftly by on their errand. He crosses himself in superstitious fear.

At the top of a rise Viviane reins in her horse and draws a deep breath. There before them, on the skyline, is Tintagel Castle.

VIVIANE

And so - it begins.

MERLIN

And where will it end, lady?

VIVIANE

In a future neither of us can know, Merlin. But that does not stop us trying to shape it.

And as she rides down towards Tintagel a bolt of lightning crackles across the sky.

INT. GREAT HALL (Tintagel) - NIGHT

The feast of welcome is almost over. Merlin, Igraine, Morgause and Viviane sit at the head of a table of about a dozen courtiers, with Morgaine playing on the harp. The hall, though its walls are massive and its beams ancient, isn't particularly grand; torches flicker against rough, undecorated stone; but the eerie sweetness of Morgaine's music seems to transport them into another world.

MERLIN

(softly)

Does it not remind you of Avalon, Igraine?

Igraine looks at him sharply.

IGRAINE

The memory of Avalon has been painful to me since you and Viviane cast me out, Merlin.

VIVIANE

Cast you out? We gave you in marriage to a great Christian duke. You went forth as an emissary of Avalon, not an outcast.

IGRAINE

You sent me into exile, sister, for the sake of the island of mists.

(She looks away from her)

You have done such things before, you will do them again. You are the High Priestess.

MERLIN

Has not Gorlois treated you kindly, child?

IGRAINE

As kindly as a warrior lord twice her age can ever treat a frightened virgin. As kindly as a Christian ruler can ever treat a pagan.

VIVIANE

Never use that word, sister. You are a follower of the Goddess, a devotee of the old religion: the true religion.

IGRAINE

Are you so sure of that, Viviane?

There's a moment of shocked silence. Viviane's face hardens.

VIVIANE

Have you turned apostate since you came to Cornwall?

Igraine gestures down the table to where a Christian priest, FATHER CUTHBERT, is conversing with TALBOT, the commander of the guard.

IGRAINE

Father Cuthbert would have me believe that our only hope of heaven is through Christ.

VIVIANE

Heaven! Have you forgotten the power that lies in Avalon?

Father Cuthbert breaks off from his other conversation to turn to her.

FATHER CUTHBERT

The world has moved on since the days of the Goddess, lady - since our Lord died on the cross to atone Eve's sin.

Suddenly we see Viviane assume the posture of the Lady of the Lake: larger than life; genuinely awe-inspiring: the very embodiment of the Goddess.

VIVIANE

Eve committed no sin, priest. The story of the apple is a fantasy concocted by a tribe of desert nomads to frighten their womenfolk. Come to Avalon and you will see the truth.

FATHER CUTHBERT

Set foot on that island of sprites and evil spirits? Never!

Viviane stares at him: the priest - quails.

INT. tower chamber (Tintagel) - night (gallery)

Merlin, Viviane and Igraine are seated around the fire, watching the log disintegrate into ashes.

MERLIN

So Avalon crumbles, Igraine, drifting

away from the world of men and fading into the mists.

VIVIANE

Unless we here prevent it.

IGRAINE

We can turn the tides of history, can we?

MERLIN

If the Saxon barbarians overwhelm this island, the wisdom of Avalon is lost.

IGRAINE

The Christians believe they can hold the Saxons at bay.

VIVIANE

But they cannot do it alone, Igraine. This land needs a leader to whom both Christians and followers of the Goddess can give allegiance. Someone with the blood of Avalon in his veins.

IGRAINE

Perhaps so. But the High King is too old to father a son, and even you cannot imagine -

MERLIN

Ambrosius will be dead within the month, Igraine. Viviane has foreseen it.

Igraine looks at them, shocked - and then thinks she understands.

IGRAINE

You mean Gorlois, my husband, will become High King in his place? That I will bear the king you speak of?

MERLIN

You will bear that king, Igraine. Yes.

Viviane leans in close to her sister. Her hand moves in a strange gesture over a goblet.

VIVIANE

But not to Gorlois. Gorlois will not be chosen High King.

A brooch appears in the water of the goblet with a curious dragon design embedded in it. Igraine stares at it, hypnotised.

VIVIANE

(Softly)

You will bear the child to the man whose sign this is, Igraine.

MERLIN

And through your loins will come the future of Britain.

Igraine snaps out of the trance into which they are lulling her and rounds on them.

IGRAINE

But I am married by your will to Duke Gorlois of Cornwall! I have borne him a child!

They stare at her implacably.

IGRAINE

I will not betray him!

MERLIN

Igraine, willing or not we are the guardians of something so precious, so holy, we must sacrifice anything to protect it.

IGRAINE

(to Viviane)

Then you sacrifice it, Viviane. You make the man who wears this brooch fall in love with you, and you bear this great new king. I have done my part: it is enough.

Once more Viviane seems to grow taller as she assumes the authority of the Goddess.

VIVIANE

Would that I could do what is being asked of you, Igraine: would that I had that high destiny, but I know I do not. I know it is written in the stars that you should bear Britain's savior.

(Coming closer)

And I tell you this: if you seek to avoid your fate - it will pursue you for life after life, on into eternity - and I will not condemn you to that.

VOICE (O.S.)

There is no need. I will bear the child, Viviane. I will find this man and make him fall in love with me and produce this new king for you.

Morgause emerges into the firelight.

MORGAUSE

I am of the same blood as you and Igraine. I have no husband to betray. Why not me?

They stare at her, taken aback: Viviane is the first to recover.

VIVIANE

No man or woman can live another's fate, Morgause. There is a king in your future, and sons: but not this king or this son. Be content with that.

Morgause's eyes flash. She has as much steel as her sister - though perhaps it's more brittle.

MORGAUSE

Be content, sister? Because you say so?

MERLIN

(placing a hand) on her shoulder)

Because it is written, Morgause. And be gone: this matter is not for your ears.

She is about to flash back at him - but his steady goodness drains away her anger.

MORGAUSE

Come, Morgaine, they are sending us away.

And suddenly they realize that in sneaking into the room to listen, Morgause had brought her young niece with her.

IGRAINE

What business had you bringing Morgaine with you, sister? That a child should hear such things ...

Morgaine goes to her mother and takes her hand.

MORGAINE

It's all right, Mother. I know you will do what is right. Good night, Father Merlin. Good night, Aunt Viviane.

Viviane looks at Morgaine - and sees, in her, her own younger self. Of all the people in this room, this is the one with whom she feels the strongest emotional tie.

VIVIANE

(softly)

Little Igraine. Grainne, do you remember when I used to call you, Grainne, when we first did service together to the Goddess?

She touches a pendant around Morgaine's neck.

VIVIANE

Do you remember when I first gave you this?

MORGAINE

Of course, Aunt. It was the day I began to have the Sight.

And with this stunning revelation she turns and leaves the room leaving a small astonished group behind her.

EXT. DOWNLAND - DAY

Pouring rain. A little party of horsemen makes its way along a ridge of the downs, the rain streaming off their leather cloaks, pouring down the scabbards of their swords. As they come towards us we close in on DUKE GORLOIS OF CORNWALL - a handsome, strong-willed man of considerable authority and courage: a warrior of the old school. He wears a distinctive ring on his right hand.

GORLOIS

Well, do you regret begging me to take you to the great council, Igraine? Do you miss the comforts of Tintagel now as we struggle the long miles to Londinium?

Igraine is riding beside him, soaking wet.

IGRAINE

I was trained as a priestess of Avalon, husband. In Avalon we treat cold and rain as the illusions they are.

FATHER CUTHBERT

Cold and rain are sent by the heavenly Father to remind us we are mortal and sinful, my lady. It did not rain in the garden, before Eve tempted Adam with the apple.

MORGAINE

Then how did the flowers grow, Father Cuthbert? Without any water to drink?

A flash of annoyance crosses the priest's face.

FATHER CUTHBERT

It is not a woman's place to question holy writ, Morgaine, and certainly not a child's.

MORGAUSE

Especially when she has the better of you, eh, Father?

Cuthbert bites back his anger - with difficulty.

GORLOIS

Don't fret yourself, Father Cuthbert. Morgaine's a good lass - and sharp as a needle. Are you looking forward to the great council, daughter?

MORGAINE

I'm looking forward to London, Father. I'm looking forward to meeting real people.

Suddenly a weird figure rises up from the bushes beside the path: the CRONE. The lead horses shy, and the party comes to a halt, gripped for a moment by superstitious awe. The old woman is blind, and for an eerie moment she feels her way along the horses - until she comes to Morgaine. One hand she places on her bridle - and the other reaches out to clutch at Igraine.

CRONE

The mother, the sister, the mother of the once and future king. And would be king. May the Goddess protect you.

Gorlois stares at her in fear and horror - and then digs into his horse's flanks.

GORLOIS

Begone, crone, begone!

And he spurs his horse away along the ridge.

deleted

EXT. CHURCH TOWER (London) - DAY

Tight on a great bell as the rope is pulled and it begins to TOLL. A slow tilt down the ancient stones of the tower towards the street below, with the noise of HOOVES, SQUEAKING CARTS, BARKING DOGS, SHOUTING street vendors and YELLING children GROWING LOUDER - and thus creating a soundscape of Dark-Ages London much larger than anything we will actually need to see. As the camera reaches the foot of the tower, the worshippers in the church are emerging into the crowded street - as Gorlois arrives.

AMBROSIUS (V.O.)

Gorlois, it is good to see you. Has the wound healed?

EXT. STREET (London) - DAY

AMBROSIUS, the aging but handsome High King of Britain is leading the procession out of the church as the crowd outside presses forward, trying to touch Ambrosius's robe.

GORLOIS

The wound is forgotten, Your Majesty. But the Saxons will not forget the blows you dealt them.

AMBROSIUS

You and I, Gorlois, you and I. But I fear I will smite no more Saxons.

GORLOIS

Nay, my lord, it will be many years before you -

AMBROSIUS

(gesturing him to silence)

It is why I have called the council. Let us break fast together, and talk.

LOT OF ORKNEY steps forward: a dark-haired Scot in his thirties, intense and ambitious.

LOT

Your Majesty, you must rest -

AMBROSIUS

There will be time enough for rest all too soon, Lot. Come, Gorlois. And bring the lovely Igraine with you. I would fain meet the sister of the Lady of the Lake while I have the chance.

As Ambrosius and the others disappear into the crowd, Gorlois turns to look for Igraine - who is taking a cloth-wrapped package from a MESSENGER dressed in travel- stained clothes. His eyes narrow.

IGRAINE

(to the Messenger)

From Viviane?

MESSENGER

From the lady, ma'am.

Gorlois's hand closes around the package.

GORLOIS

My wife does not receive gifts from messengers unknown to me.

IGRAINE

He is not unknown to me, my lord. He is sent by my sister from the Isle of Avalon.

But Gorlois has opened the package - and exclaims in surprise.

GORLOIS

But this is the stone you wore when we were wedded! How came this to Avalon?

For a brief instant we see panic in Igraine's face - and then she takes control of herself.

IGRAINE

When my sister visited me, I gave her the stone to have the clasp put right. The goldsmiths of Avalon are greater than any in Cornwall.

(taking the pendant from him and putting it on)

Now it is returned to me.

Gorlois looks at her for a moment and then decides to drop the matter.

GORLOIS

Come - the High King awaits us. He has heard you are come to Londinium with me and has named you as his guest. It does you honor, Igraine.

Suddenly, as Igraine looks at him, the living Gorlois is replaced by a corpse, a bloodied figure in battle-garb, his hair plastered with rain to his head - and a great sword slash right across his face.

She looks in horror at the vision - and then blinks. And Gorlois is before her again, just as he was.

IGRAINE

It does us both honor, husband. I am ready.

INT. council room (London) - DAY (gallery)

Ambrosius is at the head of the table, with Lot on one side, the Welsh King URIENS on the other and Gorlois and Igraine beside him. Next to them, among the LESSER KINGS, is a lean, shrewd, weathered man in his forties: BISHOP PATRICIUS.

Ambrosius holds Igraine's hand with great tenderness.

AMBROSIUS

So you are a daughter of the Holy Isle, Lady Igraine.

(With a look at Patricius)

My priests do not like it that your Druids should be placed on equal footing with them: but I tell them you both serve the Great One above us, by whatever name.

IGRAINE

Of late, My Lord, it seems the Christians have begun to push Avalon away from Britain, into the mists.

PATRICIUS

If Avalon is drifting away, it is because the people no longer believe in it.

IGRAINE

It is because you work night and day to pry lose its hold, Bishop Patricius. Because you stand in the pulpit and tell them the Goddess is evil, which is a lie.

GORLOIS

Igraine - it is not for you to question an anointed bishop! Or for any woman to engage in religious debate before her king.

AMBROSIUS

Your wife speaks for what she believes in, Gorlois, and I honor her for it.

As Gorlois is about to answer, the room is filled with the sound of YAPPING HOUNDS - and UTHER PENDRAGON comes in, dragged along by their sheer exuberance. A tall, broad-shouldered man in his thirties with a handsome, open face.

UTHER

Quiet, quiet, you hounds from Hell. My Lord, forgive me.

Surprisingly, Ambrosius smiles indulgently and beckons Uther to join them. Uther gives the leashes of the dogs to a serving man and squeezes somewhat clumsily in on the bench around the table - finding himself directly opposite Igraine - and finds himself staring straight at Igraine's breasts, as if hypnotized. Between them lies the moonstone.

GORLOIS

(with suppressed anger)

Allow me to introduce you, Uther Pendragon, to my wife, the Lady Igraine, Duchess of Cornwall.

But Igraine's eyes are fixed too.

Uther is wearing the dragon brooch she saw in Viviane's vision.

UTHER

Your pardon, my lady. Your pendant ... it is as if I had seen it ... long ago.

IGRAINE

In Avalon, my lord, it is said we lead many lives.

Patricius is about to interject, but Ambrosius speaks up.

AMBROSIUS

My Lady Igraine - it has been balm to my heart to look upon the wife of my most loyal and valiant Gorlois. When you next see the Lady of the Lake, tell her the High King sends his greetings.

IGRAINE

(rising)

I will, my lord. With all my heart.

Her smile encompasses the whole table: but as it reaches Uther, his look seems to look with hers - and she has to tear her eyes away. Gorlois's face darkens in anger.

EXT. STREET (London) - DAY

Igraine emerges from the building and leans back against the door, fighting to control her emotions.

IGRAINE

Viviane, Viviane - what have you done?

Her hand closes around the moonstone pendant and she looks at it as if she will tear it from her neck. An APPLE SELLER emerges out of the crowd.

APPLE SELLER

Fruit for you, lady, red, ripe fruit. Only two denari.

Igraine looks at the apple as if it is the original temptation, looks at the masses of faces filling the street, and fighting her rising claustrophobia, flees into a gap between two buildings.

EXT. ALLEY (London) - DAY

Igraine runs down a narrow alley between tall stone walls.

INT. council room (London) - DAY (gallery)

The council is in the midst of its debate.

GORLOIS

If Roman Legions are not to return to defend us from the barbarians, we must create our own.

URIENS

It is horsemen the Saxons fear - we need cavalry to ride them down.

LOT

Commanded by a Caesar, as in the old days.

UTHER

A Scottish Caesar, perhaps?

LOT

You have something against Scots fighting men, Uther?

UTHER

I'm not sure I've ever seen one, King Lot.

As Lot starts to rise to his feet a GOBLET falls to the floor and SMASHES. It has fallen from Ambrosius's hand. When he speaks it is clear he is in the last stages of a fatal illness.

AMBROSIUS

I have little time left, my friends. Listen, and listen well to what I have to tell you.

EXT. RIVERBANK (London) - DAY (gallery)

Igraine sits in an orchard running down to the river, hypnotized by the running water. A shadow falls on the grass, and someone slides into a sitting position beside her. She turns to see Uther: he too is staring into the river.

UTHER

Where does it go to, Igraine?

IGRAINE

To the sea, my lord. It flows down to the sea.

UTHER

We should go with it, you and I.

She looks at him - and can scarcely breathe.

UTHER

I have known you - in another life. Have I not?

Igraine still cannot speak.

UTHER

You are the lost half of my soul. You know it.

With a great effort of will Igraine gets up and walks away from the river to a gnarled old apple tree, and leans against it as if for comfort.

Uther follows her.

IGRAINE

I am the sworn wife of Gorlois, Uther, and so I will remain.

UTHER

My heart reaches out to you, Igraine.

IGRAINE

(with an effort)

Return to the council, my lord. And remember, for all his anger, Gorlois is a good man.

Uther pauses for a long moment. Finally:

UTHER

As you bid, my lady.

And he then turns to go.

And comes face to face with - Gorlois.

GORLOIS

Ah, my Lord Pendragon. I was looking for -

And then he sees Igraine, almost hidden among the blossoms - and his face sets into stone.

IGRAINE

My lord -

But she is lost for words. Uther steps smoothly in.

UTHER

I grew weary of the council, Gorlois, and came down to the river. Your wife urged me to go back to my duty.

GORLOIS

Did, she, Pendragon?

UTHER

Yes, my lord, she did.

GORLOIS

To no avail. The council is over.

UTHER

How so? We had not decided -

GORLOIS

The council is over because Ambrosius is dead.

UTHER

No!

(trying to push past Gorlois)

I must go to him -

Gorlois grasps him.

GORLOIS

Too late, Uther. He is gone. But he died with your name on his lips.

(bitterly)

He named you High King after him.

Uther gives a cry of shock and grief, breaks free of Gorlois' grip and strides away across the lawn.

Gorlois turns to Igraine.

GORLOIS

My lady - you should be more careful to avoid gossip. No chaste woman is safe with Uther Pendragon.

IGRAINE

Is that what you think of me? That I am the sort of woman who would slip away to couple with a strange man like a beast in the field? Would you like to inspect my gown to see if it is rumpled from lying with him on the ground?

Gorlois strikes her across the mouth.

GORLOIS

You will not play the shrew with me, madam. I told you to avoid him: obey me!

IGRAINE

Touch me at your peril, Gorlois, or I shall teach you that a daughter of the Holy Isle is no man's slave or servant.

Gorlois opens his mouth to reply - and then thinks better of it.

GORLOIS

Come, we must return to the church. They are saying a mass for the soul of the king.

(in an undertone)

And with Uther as his successor, they may well say a requiem for all Britain.

EXT. MOORLAND - DAY

A lone rider - UTHER'S CAPTAIN - gallops across bleak, dramatic moorland, with great prehistoric cairns on the skyline behind him. Ahead in the distance - Tintagel Castle.

INT. tower CHAMBER (Tintagel) - DAY (gallery)

Gorlois is being outfitted in his war-gear. Igraine, Morgaine and Morgause are in attendance. We note Gorlois' distinctive ring.

MORGAUSE

(Admiringly)

The Saxons will never dare attack Cornwall when they hear Duke Gorlois himself is coming. And looking like a Roman Emperor of old!

GORLOIS

Ha! The Saxons care nothing for fine armor and great titles, Morgause. All that answers for them is cold steel.

MORGAINE

But you have the cold steel, too, Father. I cut my finger on your great axe today.

GORLOIS

May it be a lesson to you, Morgaine. War is for men, and for women - intrigue and the hearth.

IGRAINE

And supplies, my lord. I have seen to it that the troop is provided with food for a week's riding.

The door opens and Talbot, the captain of the guard comes in.

TALBOT

A messenger from the High King, my Lord. He would speak -

But Uther's Captain strides in immediately after him and bows. Gorlois looks at him coldly.

CAPTAIN

I have come, my lord -

GORLOIS

(Cutting him off)

You are come to ask for my troops to aid Uther.

CAPTAIN

It is the High King's bidding, Duke.

GORLOIS

So it may be, but my troops are needed here in Cornwall. The Saxons are massing off the coast.

CAPTAIN

The High King believes it is but a feint, my Lord Gorlois. He has ordered all his war dukes to assemble on the South Coast.

GORLOIS

Uther Pendragon cannot know the mind of the Saxons, Captain. And I cannot risk the safety of the Duchy.

CAPTAIN

My Lord - this is not a request: It is an order from your king. You are to bring your army to him at once.

GORLOIS

I am Duke of Cornwall, Captain, not Uther Pendragon.

CAPTAIN

And as Duke you have sworn fealty to Uther, who now commands you. Will you betray him at the first test?

Gorlois grasps the Captain by the collar, lifts him off his feet.

GORLOIS

If you wish to live, Captain, never let such words leave your lips again. When I have seen off the Saxon menace here, then I will consider whether I am able to aid the Pendragon in his schemes.

CAPTAIN

(with difficulty)

If you refuse the High King now, he becomes your enemy.

Igraine and Morgaine watch the battle of wills with horror; Morgause with just a hint of excitement.

GORLOIS

If Uther Pendragon thinks he can fight the Saxons and the Duke of Cornwall - let him try.

And he lets the Captain fall, half-strangled, at his feet.

deleted

EXT. BATTLEMENTS (Tintagel) - NIGHT (gallery)

The noise of trumpets, marching men and galloping horses floats up from below as Igraine, Morgause and Morgaine watch Gorlois and his troops ride off.

MORGAUSE

They look so fine, riding off to battle.

IGRAINE

Would that they were riding off only to fight the Saxons.

MORGAINE

But that is who they're going to fight, Mother. Isn't it?

IGRAINE

Your father has defied the High King, Morgaine. How long will it be before his men and ours are at war?

EXT. BATTLEFIELD - DAY

Morgaine's unbidden vision of the horrors of battle; she is in the thick of it, with swords and axes slicing through flesh and bone all around her.

EXT. BATTLEMENTS (Tintagel) - DAY

MORGAUSE

And it's all because of you, Igraine, isn't it? They lust after you, both of them, Gorlois and the High King. It sends thrills through my body to think of it.

IGRAINE

It is not because of me! Gorlois hated Uther long before I ever met him. He hoped Ambrosius would name him High King.

MORGAUSE

But he might have accepted it if he hadn't caught you two making love in an orchard.

Igraine slaps her.

IGRAINE

How dare you! That is a lie, and you know it.

MORGAUSE

You were seen! Gorlois saw you! He pulled you apart under an apple tree!

IGRAINE

Who told you that?

(She backs Morgause up against a battlement)

No one knows what happened except ...

(realizing)

Gorlois told you, didn't he?

(And realising still more)

You and he -

She is pushing Morgause out over the sheer drop from the battlements.

MORGAINE

Let go of her, Mother! She'll fall!

IGRAINE

Fall? Do you think this witch would fall? She'd float.

(To Morgause)

You bewitched him, didn't you?

MORGAUSE

As you did Uther? No, there was no need: after you'd driven Gorlois from your bed why shouldn't he come to mine?

Igraine looks at her, appalled.

MORGAUSE

You want everything, Igraine! Gorlois, and the High King; Cornwall and Britain! And to be the mother of the King who is to come! Why should I be left out? Why am I the sister who gets nothing? Is my blood not as rich as yours? Go on - push me over. Add murder to your list of crimes.

Suddenly all the energy seems to have gone out of Igraine - and she lets Morgause regain her footing.

IGRAINE

There are no crimes, Morgause. There is no ambition. Would that Viviane and Merlin had never taken it into their heads to make me their plaything.

She walks over to a turret on the far side of the battlements and gazes out over the sea.

IGRAINE

Hear me, Morgause, and you too, my daughter. I have not lain with Uther Pendragon, nor have I betrayed my husband Gorlois. While we were in Londinium I spoke long with Pendragon, and know he is my soul's mate, and while we spoke Duke Gorlois came upon us and thought the worst, as is his nature. But my soul is clean, and you must know that.

MORGAINE

(taking her hand)

I know it, Mother. And I love you.

IGRAINE

(Gently, to Morgause)

Take my hand too, sister. Let not this stand between us.

A beat - and then Morgause obeys.

IGRAINE

We three are alone in a cold world, and we must cling to one another. Come, put your arms around me. The darkness is deep now; it will grow deeper yet.


EXT. BATTLEFIELD - DAY

The aftermath of a battle: we can hear the sound of trumpets fading in the distance as the enemy is pursued. Gorlois leans on his axe, watching as his second in command RHIANNON comes up to him.

RHIANNON

A great victory, my lord: the Saxons will not trouble Cornwall again.

GORLOIS

The Saxons were not troubling Cornwall this time, Rhiannon.

(on his puzzled) look)

Think you we would have defeated them so easily if that had been the main force? No: that was a feint. They will attack the South Coast.

RHIANNON

(realizing)

As Uther Pendragon foretold ...

(bringing himself up short)

So we will go to do battle with them there?

Gorlois bends down to pick up a shattered helmet and contemplates it thoughtfully.

GORLOIS

There will be another battle to fight before that, Rhiannon. The High King cannot let my defiance go unchallenged.

RHIANNON

You mean - he will attack us here? In Cornwall?

GORLOIS

He will try. He is on the march already. But I tell you this - he will never reach his goal.

INT. tower CHAMBER (Tintagel)/ viviane's chamber (Avalon) - NIGHT

Igraine is alone in her chamber. The wind howls outside and a fire burns in the grate. There is a panting noise.

VIVIANE (O.S.)

Sister! Sister - hear me!

Igraine sits upright, shocked: as Viviane, still unseen, gives a suppressed scream.

IGRAINE

Viviane!

She looks towards the fire and sees, amidst the flames, a flickering image of Viviane lying on a bed - her face racked with pain.

VIVIANE

It was my last time at the Beltane Rites, Igraine. I thought I was too old ...

(manages a laugh)

But as you see, I was not ...

Igraine realizes, with shock, that there are women around Viviane in the vision.

Her sister is in childbirth.

IGRAINE

You cannot bear a child now, sister: it will kill you!

VIVIANE

I think it will, Igraine. And that is why you must -

(as she is racked with pain)

- you must -

Igraine realises the significance of what Viviane is saying, and her face hardens.

IGRAINE

I will not betray Gorlois for Uther, sister. I have made my decision.

VIVIANE

Uther will die, Igraine. Gorlois will destroy him. I have seen it.

IGRAINE

No ...

VIVIANE

(hardly able to speak now)

You must ... save Avalon, Igraine. Save Avalon ...

IGRAINE

Viviane, no! Don't die, Viviane, don't leave me -

VIVIANE

(in sudden agony)

Lancelot!

But before Igraine can understand why she has uttered this name, the vision fades, and Igraine is left alone. Tears running down her cheeks, she stares into the dying fire. The wooden shutter bangs open, letting in flurries of snow, but she takes no notice.

IGRAINE

No, Viviane ... I cannot do it, I cannot.

But even as she says these words her eyes are drawn to the silent spinning wheel. Her fingernails dig into the palms of her hands.

IGRAINE

I cannot.

But she does. Automaton-like, she goes over to the machine, sets it spinning, and begins to stare at the whirring spindle - which turns into a vision of ...

EXT. MOORLAND - NIGHT (gallery)

Freezing moorland. The cold is intense as Gorlois' troops gather quietly between the rocks on the crest of the moorland and Gorlois and Rhiannon look down through a gap between the rocks.

GORLOIS

We have him. There he lies, ready to attack me at Cameldun on the morrow, sleeping away his last night on this earth.

RHIANNON

The men are ready, my lord.

GORLOIS

Hold them in place: I want Uther Pendragon deep in his dreams when my sword bites into his breast.

IGRAINE (O.S.)

[Gasps]

GORLOIS

What was that?

RHIANNON

My lord?

Gorlois stares at him.

GORLOIS

There is magic at work. I feel it.

(slams his fist into the rock)

I will have none of it! This is a Christian land!

INT. tower CHAMBER (Tintagel) - NIGHT

With a cry, Igraine falls from her stool and sprawls on the floor against the dying fire as the spinning wheel crashes to the ground. The effort of her mental visit to Gorlois' ambush has exhausted her.

The wind howls ever more strongly; snow is blowing into the room through the open shutters.

IGRAINE

Uther! He will destroy you!

(as if she can see it)

Uther!

She gets to her knees, shaking, and manages to push the spinning wheel onto its legs again. Mechanically, she sets the spindle turning - and then forces herself to watch it. She shivers in the cold as the wind grows to the force of a storm.

deleted

INT. UTHER'S TENT - NIGHT (gallery)

Uther wakes suddenly on the piled skins he uses for a bed - and his eyes open wide as he sees the shadowy form of Igraine standing at the foot of his bed, her image wavering as her strength diminishes.

UTHER

Igraine!

IGRAINE

Arise, Uther Pendragon. Gorlois is not at Cameldun: his men are in the Great Stones above your camp.

UTHER

Gorlois! Here? But Igraine, how -

Igraine is fading. Her voice dies away as she disappears.

IGRAINE

Uther! Save yourself ...

In an instant, Uther is out of his bed and has snatched up his great sword.

UTHER

To arms! To arms!

deleted

INT. tower CHAMBER (Tintagel) - DAY (gallery)

MORGAINE (O.S.)

Mother?

Morgaine enters Igraine's chamber.

MORGAINE

Mother, are you -

And then she sees Igraine lying under a blanket of the snow that has drifted in through the window.

MORGAINE

Mother!

She rushes to her, and lifts Igraine's head; the face is blue, the eyes closed. Morgaine cradles her to her breast.

MORGAINE

No ...

Morgause appears in the door, and Morgaine directs all the force of her will towards her.

MORGAINE

She is not dead. She will not die. Call the servants. Make up the fire. Bring blankets now, now!

EXT. castle courtyard (Tintagel) - day

Morgause rushes across the courtyard to Talbot and his men at the gate.

MORGAUSE

Captain - open the gates: my sister is close to death - I must go out to gather herbs.

TALBOT

In the snow? You'll not find any herbs in this -

MORGAUSE

I know where to find them, Captain, snow or no snow. Open the gate.

TALBOT

(reluctantly)

We have orders not to, my lady.

MORGAUSE

What?

TALBOT

Neither you, nor my lady Igraine, nor my lord's daughter are to leave the castle in his absence. They were the last orders Duke Gorlois left before he went to the wars.

Morgause looks at him, her eyes blazing with fury.

TALBOT

Nor is any man to be admitted to the castle, till my lord returns.

MORGAUSE

So we are prisoners, then?

Talbot looks troubled.

TALBOT

Duke Gorlois is a jealous man, my lady.

EXT. castle wall (Tintagel) - DAY

For a moment, all is silent - and then a knotted sheet is thrown out of a window: and seconds later, Morgaine begins to climb down it.

INT. tower CHAMBER (Tintagel) - DAY

Morgause is at the other end of the sheet.

MORGAUSE

Hurry, Morgaine. Hurry. They are by the alder trees.

She looks back at Igraine, who lies tossing on her bed, sweat pouring off her face. She is clearly close to death.

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Morgaine is squatting at the foot of a clump of alder trees, her bare fingers scratching through the snow to find what she's looking for. Far above her, shouts come from the castle walls.

Morgaine takes no notice, goes on searching with freezing fingers through the snow.

EXT. MOORLAND - DAY

Tight on hooves as a horse gallops through the snow.

EXT. CASTLE GATE (Tintagel) - DAY

Talbot, the Sergeant and another man are dragging Morgaine back towards the castle, trying to open her fingers to remove what she has clenched in her fist.

TALBOT

Come along, my lady: your father ordered that nothing and no one should enter the castle in his absence. Would you fly in the face of his authority?

MORGAINE

The herbs are for my mother! She is dying!

TALBOT

Give me them, child. Now!

Tears pour down Morgaine's cheeks as gradually her fingers are forced open and the little bundle of crushed green herbs is exposed. And then a shadow falls over them all.

VOICE (O.S.)

That will do, Captain.

Talbot looks up to see a cloaked, hooded man looking down at him from his horse. The man's gloved hand is outstretched; Gorlois' ring is on the second finger.

TALBOT

My lord Gorlois! You are returned.

The man on the horse reaches down and lifts Morgaine up onto the saddle.

VOICE

Open the gates, Captain.

Morgaine looks beneath the shadow of the hood - and gasps. The man is Uther Pendragon.

With a clatter of hoofs Uther rides into Tintagel Castle.

EXT. BATTLEMENTS (Tintagel) - DAY (gallery)

Morgaine is leaning over the battlements, looking out over the countryside. Morgause appears beside her - and Morgaine looks at her interrogatively. Without meeting her eyes, Morgause gazes out too.

MORGAUSE

He's still in there.

MORGAINE

And mother -

MORGAUSE

(with a touch of bitterness)

Began to live again the minute he entered the room.

MORGAINE

She loves him, doesn't she?

MORGAUSE

Loves him? She's forgotten we exist.

(on Morgaine's look)

Has she called for you once since he came? Since you saved her life?

(coming closer)

We are caught up in Viviane's web, you, Igraine and I. Like little flies.

As she speaks the sound of a muffled drum echoes across the moor - and they turn to see a battered group of soldiers making their way towards the castle bearing a shrouded corpse.

MORGAINE (O.S.)

No ...

MORGAUSE (O.S.)

Oh yes, Morgaine. Did you not realize your father would be the first victim?

EXT. CASTLE GATE (Tintagel) - DAY (gallery)

The little procession has stopped before the castle gate and Morgaine is sobbing over the body of Gorlois, which bears the same wound Igraine saw in her vision at Londinium. Morgause pushes through the soldiers to reach her.

MORGAUSE

Morgaine, Morgaine, my little one.

MORGAINE

They've killed him, Morgause. They've killed my father ...

Morgause looks up accusingly at one of the horsemen accompanying the corpse. It is Lot, King of Orkney.

LOT

Uther did not want to kill him - but he had to die. He challenged the High King.

(Dismounting, to Morgaine)

I'm sorry, child. He was a good man.

With a cry of fury Morgaine turns on him - but Morgause grasps her arms and holds her.

MORGAUSE

Hush, Morgaine, hush. King Lot of Orkney did not kill Gorlois. It was Uther Pendragon did that.

She is speaking to Morgaine - but she is looking directly into Lot's eyes as she speaks.

For in King Lot of Orkney - she sees her future.

MORGAUSE

Welcome to Tintagel, my lord.

Their eyes meet. Lot breaks her gaze to look up at a window high in the castle.

LOT

There stands Uther - with Igraine by his side: like man and wife.

MORGAUSE

(to Morgaine)

Behold, child - your new father. And the new high Queen of Britain.

As they look up, we hear Morgaine's voice.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

And so our lives changed. My mother Igraine, from being the wife of a duke in a distant province, became the first lady of all Britain - at Camelot itself.

INT. great hall (camelot) - Day

Uther, now robed as High King, and Igraine, in the full regalia of the Queen, stand on the dais at the end of their throne room to accept the homage of two wild-haired Saxon chiefs, HENGIST and HORSA. Morgaine watches.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

And as for me: instead of the tiny doings of Tintagel Castle, I began to realize that I was, at last, at the very heart of things.

UTHER

And to keep the peace between Saxon and Briton for evermore.

HENGIST/HORSA

We so swear, Uther Pendragon.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

As when Uther Pendragon persuaded a tribe of defeated Saxons to join him as his new, Christian allies.

Uther steps down from the dais and holds up his forearms, bent at the elbows; the Saxon chiefs rise and press their forearms against his; he grasps both their wrists and meets their eyes, warrior to warrior. As he does so we see the serpents tattooed around his arms.

UTHER

Saxon and Briton together, we will defend these shores against the invaders.

PATRICIUS

United under Christ.

Archbishop Patricius, sprinkles holy water on them. Hengist and Horsa make the sign of the cross.

HENGIST/HORSA

United under our Savior Christ.

Up on the dais, a small boy, no more than three years old, makes his own version of the sign of the cross. The boy's name is ARTHUR. He is with his aunt, Morgaine - now looking considerably better dressed and more mature than she did when we first saw her - a woman now, not a girl. She whispers to Igraine.

MORGAINE

See, Mother: My brother is becoming a little Christian.

Igraine smiles and pats Arthur's head absently. But her eyes never leave Uther as the ceremony with the Saxon chiefs continues.

VIVIANE (O.S.)

There will be time enough for Arthur to learn the old ways, Morgaine.

Reveal Viviane - with a child of her own: the young LANCELOT. The revelation is something of a shock: she might have been there all along; she might have just appeared. Morgaine meets her eyes.

MORGAINE

Perhaps your Lancelot and his cousin Arthur can study together.

VIVIANE

Lancelot will not be with me for long, Morgaine.

MORGAINE

You're sending him away? After his birth cost you so dearly?

VIVIANE

The Lady of the Lake cannot be a mother as well as a priestess, Morgaine. Lancelot will be well brought up at the Court of Brittany, where his father reigns.

IGRAINE

(Proudly, to Morgause)

Look how the wild Saxons do homage to the Pendragon. They can see the greatness shining in him.

MORGAUSE

He has beaten them in battle, sister. They have no option but to do homage.

VIVIANE

There are plenty more he has not YET beaten.

IGRAINE

A lesser man would have let them die, but Uther binds them to him with the cross.

MORGAINE

(whispering to) Arthur)

See, Art: that is how a king behaves. One day you too will be king.

Tight on Morgause as her catlike eyes turn lazily to the man beside her. It is Lot of Orkney; and their hands, with wedding rings prominently displayed, are clasped.

LOT

(softly)

Perhaps ...

(His fingers run lightly over Morgause's belly, which has begun to swell)

But who can tell from whose loins a king will spring?

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

A white horse appears over the skyline of a rolling green hill and gallops towards us.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

I soon grew used to the grandeur of the court; but I never tired of the hills and dales around it; or the hours I spent with the person I think I loved best in all the world: my half-brother.

As the horse comes alongside we realize there are two people on it - Morgaine and Arthur - a year or two older now. Both of them are wild with delight. The horse canters to a halt, and as it does so we look up with them both towards Uther's castle - a significantly grander affair than Tintagel.

ARTHUR

Can my mother see me, Morgaine?

MORGAINE

Of course she can: she's up there, on the battlements, watching everything we do.

ARTHUR

I can't see her.

MORGAINE

That's because your eyes are too tiny ...

(tickling him)

... just like the rest of you.

ARTHUR

(delighted, trying) to wriggle free)

I'm not tiny, I'm huge, huger than you are, huge as the world.

Morgaine hugs him to her.

MORGAINE

You know, little brother, I think that one day you will be.

EXT. FOREST - DAY

Uther, Lot, Hengist and others are doing battle in the midst of a thick forest: arrows are flying, axe-blades slicing through flesh, swords clashing. Uther is at the heart of the action.

UTHER

(to Hengist)

See how the Cross prevails over the invaders, Hengist. You chose the right side.

HENGIST/HORSA

We chose the winning side, Uther, Pendragon. We always do.

UTHER

To me, Britons, to me!

(as his men rush towards him)

Push them down the hill! Into the river. Charge!

And in the whirlwind of flashing steel, Uther leads his allies and troops in a sudden dramatic surge at the thickest knot of their enemies - who buckle under the onslaught, and flee.

INT. passageway (Camelot) - DAY

A SERVING WOMAN carrying a tray pauses for a moment - as a hand comes appears from behind a tapestry - and sprinkles something on one of the plates.

EXT. battlements (Camelot) - DAY

Igraine is looking out over the battlements, her face pale with worry. Morgaine comes in.

MORGAINE

Arthur is sick again, Mother. Igraine doesn't look at her.

IGRAINE

It is a childish fever, it will pass.

MORGAINE

Mother - he cries out for you. You must come to him.

IGRAINE

(in sudden anger)

His father is fighting the invaders, Morgaine! At any minute they might bring his body back bleeding with wounds! And you expect me to fret over a crying child?

MORGAINE

Arthur needs you, Mother. I need you. And you are never here!

Igraine is about to make an angry retort, when she suddenly takes her hands.

IGRAINE

You are right to reproach me, Morgaine. It is true. Since I found Uther, the rest of the world has faded for me, like the flames of a fire in the noon-tide sun. It is cruel, it is wrong - but it is what has happened. He fills my life as the sun fills the day. I cannot bear to imagine him gone.

MORGAINE

When I was a little girl your love was everything to me, Mother. Arthur is so small. Have you nothing for him?

deleted

INT. royaL CHAMBER (Camelot)- DAY

Arthur is tossing feverishly as Igraine and Morgaine come in. Igraine picks up the half-conscious child, and lays her cheek against his.

Her POV as the clutter of goblets and vessels on the low table beside the bed come into focus.

Abruptly she sits up, takes one and sniffs it.

IGRAINE

Who prescribed this?

NURSE

The doctor you sent, my lady. While my lady Morgaine was fetching you.

IGRAINE

I sent no doctor.

She pours the contents of the goblet into a bowl of water. The water turns green and begins to seethe and bubble.

Then a wind seems to blow through the doorway: the same wind that always signals Viviane's appearance. It blows away the steam of the brew and reveals her, standing in the doorway, tall and majestic.

VIVIANE

You should take better care of a future king of Britain, Igraine.

IGRAINE

Viviane!

Viviane lifts the goblet, sniffs it and empties it on the floor. The very stones seem to dissolve.

VIVIANE

Crowsfoot.

(looking shrewdly at her sister)

How is it you were not sitting by his side every minute of his fever?

Igraine hesitates.

VIVIANE

You were looking out for Uther, weren't you? It is his fate that grips your soul, not the child's.

IGRAINE

And whose doing is that, Viviane?

MORGAINE

I've been with him day and night, Viviane.

Viviane turns her piercing eyes on Morgaine.

VIVIANE

You are kindred souls, are you not? You and your half-brother?

MORGAINE

I would lay down my life for him.



We can almost see Viviane's mind working as she watches Morgaine's face.

VIVIANE

Yes ... yes, I believe you would.

(going to the window)

But you are going to have to say good-bye to him for a time.

MORGAINE

What?

VIVIANE

This is not the only accident to Arthur, is it?

(she can see by their faces she's right)

Falls from horses he should not have been riding, bulls bursting through broken fences when he is near. They are trying to kill him.

IGRAINE

Who would try to kill the son of Uther Pendragon?

VIVIANE

Whoever wants their son to be High King when Uther is gone, Igraine. Isn't it obvious?

MORGAINE

Tell me who they are! I will throttle them with my own two hands!

VIVIANE

I know you would, my love, for you have a great heart. But I have other plans for you.

IGRAINE

Other plans? Who are you to tell me what shall become of my children, Viviane?

VIVIANE

I am the Lady of the Lake, Igraine. I have the fate of Avalon in my hands, and the fate of all who live or ever shall live in these isles is bound up with it. So do not cross me.

IGRAINE

Nothing shall be done without my husband's consent. And he is away at battle.

VIVIANE

No, my dear. He returns this night.

INT. GREAT HALL (Camelot) - NIGHT (gallery)

The warriors are celebrating their return from battle with feasting, drinking and singing. A harpist plays in one corner. The royal family are at the head of the table, and Uther is deep in muted dispute with Viviane.

UTHER

I will not agree to it, lady. It is said; let us not pursue the matter more. Igraine could not bear to be parted from him.

VIVIANE

Igraine has no eyes for her child. She thinks of nothing but you.

UTHER

It was you who unleashed that love, lady. Do you deny it now it has served your purposes?

VIVIANE

Its purpose was to mix the blood of the ages and bring forth the once and future king. And to place you on the throne to hold Britain together until he came of age.

(leaning close)

And nothing must stand in the way of that.

UTHER

Not even a mother's love for her son?

VIVIANE

I too have a son, Uther. I sent him for fostering, that I might fulfil my destiny. And Arthur must be sent for fostering, that he may fulfil his.

UTHER

(through his teeth)

I forbid it.

VIVIANE

How long do you think you will hold the throne if Avalon withdraws its support? Are the Christians strong enough to sustain you? I think not yet.

(She looks around the room to ensure they're not overheard)

Can you trust allies like Lot of Orkney? Or the few beaten Saxons you have yoked? No. Without the Lady of the Lake you will crumble like sand.

UTHER

You would do that to me? You would bring ruin to your own sister?

VIVIANE

I would do anything it takes to ensure the safety of the son you and Igraine have borne. And so should you: he is our future hope.

She fixes him with her eyes: he quails under her gaze. As his will crumbles, she strikes.

VIVIANE

And there is another matter. Concerning Morgaine.

EXT. GLADE - NIGHT (gallery)

A little group, hooded and cloaked, gather in a moonlit glade on horseback. We only identify them as they speak.

MORGAINE

Lady! What's happening? Why are we dragged from our beds in the dead of the night?

VIVIANE

You are to come with me to Avalon, Morgaine; your destiny is upon you.

MORGAINE

My destiny?

ARTHUR

Morgaine! Where are they taking us?

Morgaine whirls around: she had not realized till now that Arthur was one of the hooded figures.

MORGAINE

Arthur! Sweetheart! Viviane - why is Arthur here?

MERLIN

Arthur is coming with me to the household of Ectorius, where he may be brought up away from the long reach of his enemies.

ARTHUR

Morgaine - don't leave me, please!

MORGAINE

Viviane: why are you doing this?

VIVIANE

So the future king may live, Morgaine. Uther has agreed.

She turns to Uther who has sat there on his horse, silent till now.

UTHER

It is because I love you that I must send you away, my son. But my heart will be with you always.

MERLIN

I will be with you, Arthur: you and I have worlds to explore.

There is a shriek from the forest - and Igraine rides into the glade.

IGRAINE

Viviane! You cannot do this to me!

ARTHUR

Mama!

VIVIANE

I must, Igraine. You can't keep him safe. Do you want him with you, or do you want him alive?

IGRAINE

My son, my son!

UTHER

Let the boy go, Igraine: Viviane is right.

IGRAINE

Viviane, Viviane, always Viviane! Is my whole life yours to do with as you will?

VIVIANE

None of our lives are ours to do with as we will, Igraine. They belong to the Great Mother.

IGRAINE

Then I curse the Great Mother for what she does to me this night!

Arthur, still held in Igraine's arms, reaches out for Morgaine.

ARTHUR

Don't leave me, Morgaine! Don't leave me!

She takes his hand: but only for a moment.

MERLIN

Enough, we must ride. Every moment here reveals us to our enemies.

UTHER

(embracing Arthur)

Good-bye, my son. Remember that I will always love you. Morgaine embraces Igraine.

MORGAINE

Mother. Hold me.

IGRAINE

You are no longer mine. My sister is taking you.

MORGAINE

I will always be your daughter.

IGRAINE

You will be a priestess of Avalon, Morgaine, and I will have lost you forever.

MORGAINE

No!

And the horses begin to move, the child turning and waving wordlessly as he disappears into the forest. Uther holds Igraine against his breast, the tears coursing down his cheeks as she sobs against him.

UTHER

Hush, my darling. It is the right thing.

IGRAINE

I weep not only because they are gone, Uther ... but for my own damned soul.

UTHER

Igraine ...

IGRAINE

(whispering it)

I have you to myself at last, Uther. I have you to myself.

As he looks down into her eyes they both acknowledge the truth: that each of them is the only thing that matters to each other. It is their glory and their curse.

The camera rises above the trees until it is looking down on ...

EXT. MOORLAND - NIGHT (gallery)

As the two parties - Viviane's and Merlin's - reach the standing stone which marks the parting of the ways.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

The parting with my mother was hard: The parting with my baby brother was almost more than I could bear.

We see the standing stone rushing toward them from Arthur's POV - as he understands that he and Morgaine are now to part.

ARTHUR

Morgaine ...

MORGAINE

Arthur ... my love ...

But as the two parties divide, their clasped hands are torn apart, and the horses thunder away to north and south across the moor.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

And so we parted, one north, one south: toward our separate fates.

EXT. WOODED VALLEY - DAY

Tight on the hooves of two horses plodding down the bed of a shallow stream in a narrow, wooded valley. Morgaine is on one horse, Viviane on the other: they are both travel-stained and weary.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

But as Viviane and I plodded our weary way across the wilds of Britain towards Avalon, I felt strangely at peace: as if she was the mother to me that Igraine had never been. And I think Viviane knew it, too.

VIVIANE

You do not complain, child. That is good.

MORGAINE

What use is it to complain? Besides, I am with you. It is enough.

VIVIANE

(surprised)

You like being with me?

MORGAINE

Of course. You are at the center of the world. When I'm with you - we are both at the center.

VIVIANE

And that's where you want to be, Morgaine?

Morgaine thinks about this.

MORGAINE

Everything whirls around so fast. It's only when you are in the middle that things are still.

VIVIANE

Would that were so, child. Would that is were so.

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Merlin and Arthur are riding through a lonely valley, Arthur looking bleakly ahead.

MERLIN

Be not downcast, Arthur. Great things lie before you.

ARTHUR

But I miss her, Merlin. I miss her so much.

MERLIN

You will see her again, Arthur: that I promise you. But what I want you to think about is - that hawk up there. Do you see it?

ARTHUR

I see it.

MERLIN

Would you like to fly like a hawk?

ARTHUR

Nobody can fly like a hawk - except a hawk.

MERLIN

Nobody, Arthur, who does not know how to enter a hawk's mind ...

And the old man and the child gaze up into the blue sky at the swooping bird.

EXT. lakeshore of Avalon - DAY

Thick mist covers a marsh. The horses carrying Viviane and Morgaine splash through the mud; their breath condenses in the chilly air as they come to a halt. Viviane dismounts and then helps Morgaine down from her horse.

MORGAINE

Where are we?

VIVIANE

We are on the borders of Avalon.

MORGAINE

This is Avalon?

MORGAINE (V.O.)

She must have heard the disappointment in my voice: was this cheerless place the legendary island of magic, the gateway to the world of faery?

Viviane takes Morgaine with one hand and the horses' bridles with the other and leads her a few yards through the mist - until water is lapping at their feet.

VIVIANE

See? Through the mist?

Morgaine peers through the swirling fog - and makes out, in the distance, the silhouette of a steep-sided hill with a dramatic tower on its summit.

VIVIANE (O.S.)

Glastonbury Tor.

MORGAINE

Where the priests are? And the nuns? Is that where we're going?

VIVIANE

That is where ordinary folk would go if they took boat on this lake.

A black and silver barge appears in the distance, sliding silently towards them.

VIVIANE

But we are not ordinary folk.

EXT. BARGE - DAY (gallery)

MORGAINE (V.O.)

And so began my initiation into the world of magic.

Small, dark half-naked men, their bodies tattooed with blue pigment in magical patterns, propel the barge across the lake without a sound. Morgaine looks ahead at the rapidly approaching Tor - and then at Viviane.

Viviane is clearly preparing herself for some great mental effort, standing in the prow of the boat, breathing deeply. She stretches her arms above her head, palms upwards - and then with a swiftly exhaled breath, brings them down.

Morgaine gasps as the mists disappear - and suddenly the barge is gliding along through bright sunlight across clear water - towards the shores of the Isle of Avalon.

EXT. LAKE VIEW OF AVALON - DAY

Ahead of them, approaching rapidly, is a green lawn sloping down to the water.

The hill is still there, but it is crowned now not with a tower but with a ring of standing stones, and a processional way winds up its green slopes to the summit. At the foot of the hill, two low, white colonnaded buildings curve around to the mirror pool which lies between them. Oak trees thick with mistletoe surround them; blossoming apple trees dot the grass between the buildings and the shore. White robed priestesses stroll the grounds, moving with stately steps over the grass.

EXT. LAWN OF AVALON - DAY

The oarsmen hold the barge steady as Viviane and Morgaine step onto the lawn, the priestesses making their obeisance to the Lady of the Lake. RAVEN, a young priestess about Morgaine's age, takes Viviane's travel-stained cloak - and for the first time Morgaine sees Viviane in all her splendor as the Lady of the Lake.

VIVIANE

You see me now as Avalon does, and not as I am in the world of men.

Morgaine stares at her in wonder.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

Just as I would never forget the sight of Viviane when she chose to show herself in the glory of the Lady of Avalon, I would never forget my first sight of Avalon itself, in all its unearthly beauty.

Morgaine's gaze takes in the whole vista of Avalon: the green lawns sloping down to the water; the groves of oak and blossoming apple, the white-robed figures pacing slowly along the colonnaded walk.

VIVIANE

(leading her up to the lawn)

It is beautiful, is it not, Morgaine? But unless we succeed in our quest - it is also doomed.

And she pauses at one particular tree.

VIVIANE

Here is the Tree of Avalon. As it flourishes, so does the magic isle itself. If we cannot bring the Goddess back into the hearts and minds of men, its sap will cease to rise; and as it withers, so will Avalon. Viviane touches a branch: the blossoms suddenly fall off, leaving the branch bare.

VIVIANE
It is our task to bring it back to health. And with it - all Britain.

INT. VIVIANE'S CHAMBER (Avalon) - DAY

Viviane's chamber is a simple stone-walled room whose window looks out over the lake. She and Morgaine have washed and changed; Raven silently serves them with bread, fruit and water and withdraws.

VIVIANE

Raven has made a vow of silence to the Goddess.

MORGAINE

Am I to take vows?

VIVIANE

If the Goddess calls you.

MORGAINE

And how will I know if the Goddess has called me?

VIVIANE

You have the sight, Morgaine. Not just flashes of it, as your mother has - but the strength to control it: to gaze at will into the future and the past.

MORGAINE

The sight does not come at my command.

VIVIANE

Not now: but it will. Years of training lie ahead of you, Morgaine. Years of discipline and self-denial; years of study in ancient lore. If you decide to undertake it.

MORGAINE

If you think it is my destiny?

VIVIANE

The decision must be yours, child. And I warn you that it is no easy thing to serve the will of the Goddess. She is not only the Great Mother of Life and Birth - she is also the Lady of Darkness and Death.

MORGAINE

I am young, Aunt: but I have already seen darkness and death. I would fain know how to master them before they master me.

VIVIANE

(taking her by the) shoulders)

Oh, Morgaine, Morgaine, I would that I could spare you: but I must use you for her purposes as I was used. Believe that I love you - for a time will come when you will hate me as much as you love me now.

MORGAINE

Never!

(gazes into Viviane's eyes as she comes to her decision) )

I am in the hands of the Goddess, lady - and in yours.

Viviane looks at her hands - as if she knows too well what they have wrought - and then slowly, she takes Morgaine's fingers into her grip.

VIVIANE

And so it continues.

EXT. TOR - DAY (gallery)

Morgaine, in the robe of a novice, amidst the standing stones, surrounded by a ring of priestesses, raising a bowl high above her head.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

How does one tell of the making of a priestess? What is not obvious is secret. Those who have walked that road will know, and those who have not will never understand.

Morgaine looks toward Viviane, standing on a slight rise, silhouetted against a bright blue sky. Viviane raises her arms, and suddenly the day darkens, and rain begins to fall.

Tight on Morgaine's face as the raindrops course down her cheeks.

Tight on a pile of sticks in the rain. Viviane, crouched over them, stretches out her fingers. The sticks burst into flame.

Tight on Morgaine's eyes, wide.

EXT. SACRED WELL - DAY

Thick mists surround the Sacred Well. Morgaine peers into it and sees - nothing.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

At first, it seemed the power I sought would never come ...

Morgaine looks into the mists surrounding the well, closes her eyes, stretches out her hands, and wills the mists to rise. Nothing happens. Viviane looks at her - and then stretches out her own hands.

The mists disappear, and sunlight pours down on them.

EXT. LAWN OF AVALON - DAY

Morgaine stares at a leafless apple-tree.

As she concentrates on it, a single leaf buds from one of the branches.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

But gradually I began to enter into the mysteries with my whole mind and soul ...

INT. Viviane's chamber (Avalon) - DAY

Morgaine is turning the pages of massive and ancient tomes, with Viviane leaning over her shoulder.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

And my mind filled with the knowledge that Avalon had gathered to itself, century after century.

INT. Viviane's CHAMBER (Avalon) - NIGHT

Tight on Morgaine's palm as she sorts through various leaves gathered there, picks out two of them, and drops them into a boiling bowl. Scented steam fills the room.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

And I was ready to face the fearful mysteries at the heart of Avalon.

INT. TUNNEL - DAY

Tight on Morgaine wriggling along a narrow stone tunnel, squeezing through a claustrophobic gap. And emerging into a tiny cave filled, Lascaux-like, with prehistoric drawings of the Mother Goddess. On an altar in the heart of the cave is an ancient wooden statuette. Morgaine kneels: it is the Mother Goddess herself.

EXT. SACRED WELL - DAY

Morgaine peers into the Sacred Well and sees ... herself on the Tor.

EXT. TOR - DAY

Morgaine in the rain, crouching, shivering in front of a pile of sticks. She closes her eyes, stretches out her hands to them and concentrates.

Tight on Morgaine, concentrating. Tight on a twig - as it begins to smoulder. And suddenly the whole pile is in flames.

Up on a hillside, Viviane gazes down on her - and nods.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

And Viviane judged I was ready ...

EXT. BARGE - DAY (gallery)

This time Morgaine is in the prow of the barge as it glides through the mists towards Glastonbury Tor.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

For the ultimate test.

Morgaine breathes deeply, stretches her arms above her head, as Viviane did - and then swiftly brings them down. The mists disappear - and on the shore of Avalon, the priestesses are waiting to receive her.

EXT. LAWN OF AVALON - DAY

As Morgaine steps ashore, she unclasps a brooch at her neck and her novice's robe slips away, leaving her naked. Viviane steps forward, raising her hand in benediction - as Raven slips the robe of a consecrated priestess around Morgaine's shoulders.

VIVIANE

Welcome to the service of the Goddess, my child.

And she holds Morgaine at arm's length and looks deep into her eyes.

INT. great hall (Camelot) - DAY (gallery)

Igraine and Uther are sitting side by side on their thrones: suddenly Igraine's eyes widen - as she becomes aware of Morgaine's final step of initiation.

IGRAINE

She is taken!

EXT. lakeshore of Avalon - DAY

Tight on a man in armour getting into the barge. It is LANCELOT, Viviane's son, but we don't know that yet. When Lancelot is steady, the barge pushes off. He peers through the mists towards the prow - and sees a small, silhouetted figure with her back to him. As he approaches, she turns.

It is Morgaine. Lancelot stops - and as he stops, she raises her arms - and with them, the mists. Lancelot's mouth falls open as he sees Morgaine at the height of her magical power.

MORGAINE

Welcome, cousin Lancelot, to Avalon. Your mother awaits you.

EXT. lawn of Avalon - DAY (gallery)

Morgaine and Lancelot are walking under the apple- trees towards Viviane's chamber.

MORGAINE

So why have you left your father's court, Lancelot? Have you come here to become a Druid?

LANCELOT

(laughing)

On the contrary, Morgaine: I intend to remain a warrior. I have come to obtain my mother's blessing: but knowing her, it will not be easy.

A wind blows through the trees, scattering the blossom - and Viviane is before them, as if she has materialized out of the wind.

VIVIANE

Indeed, Lancelot - it may be impossible.

Lancelot makes obeisance to his mother.

VIVIANE

The world is full of warriors, my son: you have a higher destiny.

LANCELOT

Would you have me stay in Avalon and play druid while the Saxons destroy everything in the real world?

VIVIANE

What makes you say this world is not real, Lancelot? Because it can only be reached through the mists?

LANCELOT

Because the mists cut it off from the struggle, Mother. And it is in my nature to be at the forefront of the struggle.

VIVIANE

If you stay here to gather our knowledge, you may direct the struggle, not be caught up in it.

LANCELOT

Like a spider in a web? No thank you, Mother.

(on Viviane's reaction)

I'm sorry: I should not have said that. Give me your blessing and let me go.

(as she does not respond)

I ask it, lady: but to tell the truth, I will set my course with your blessing or without it. I have lived in a world where men do not wait for women's bidding to come and go.

Suddenly Viviane is standing, tall and terrible.

VIVIANE

Do you defy the Lady of Avalon?

Lancelot is not cowed: he matches her steel for steel, gazing into her eyes.

LANCELOT

I ask that the Lady of Avalon helps me fulfil my destiny, Mother.

As if expelling a long breath, Viviane lets her fury subside. She lets her glance fall on the Tree of Avalon - sicklier now than we last saw it - but does not remark on it.

VIVIANE

We will speak of this later.

(to Morgaine)

Morgaine, take your cousin to the top of the tor. I would have him look out upon the land he is rejecting before he makes his final decision.

LANCELOT

I have made my final -

VIVIANE

(interrupting)

Do this for me, my son. We will speak this evening.

And she goes. Morgaine and Lancelot look at each other. And Lancelot gives a sudden, dazzling smile.

LANCELOT

Well - we have our orders, Morgaine. Shall we climb?

EXT. TOR slopes - DAY

Lancelot and Morgaine are at the foot of the steep, grassy slope. Morgaine points to a pathway marked by white stones.

MORGAINE

This is the beginning of the sacred way.

LANCELOT

That winds around and around the hill and takes an hour to reach the top?

MORGAINE

Yes.

LANCELOT

Then I'll see you in an hour: for I am going straight up.



And he sets up at a fast pace up the side of the hill. Morgaine watches him for a moment, exasperated - and then suddenly tucks up her skirts to expose her bare legs - and races straight up after him. Moments later, as Lancelot is approaching the top of the hill, Morgaine appears beside him, going like the wind: suddenly they are neck and neck, and in an instant Lancelot is breathing hard, trying to match her pace. Then she puts on a burst of speed and reaches the top before him.

EXT. TOR - DAY (gallery)

Morgaine reaches the hilltop and throws herself onto the grass in the middle of the standing stones that ring it. Moments later - some moments later - Lancelot, breathing hoarsely, collapses beside her.

MORGAINE

(laughing)

You spend too much time riding on horses, cousin. Not enough relying on your own two feet.



Lancelot tries to reply, and can't. Morgaine laughs - but not unkindly, and helps him to his feet.

MORGAINE

Look out over the summer sea. Is it not beautiful?

Lancelot stands beside her, gazing over a sparkling expanse of water.

LANCELOT

Part of me longs to stay here. And yet ...

MORGAINE

(with a hint of mischief)

It is not the real world. There is the real world.

She turns him and points along the Tor. For the first time we realize that the hill is not a simple cone, but more in the shape of a tent: and coming along the tent-ridge towards them is a party of brown-robed monks, chanting softly and carrying a cross. They are slightly distorted, as if through a summer heat-haze.

LANCELOT

Glastonbury!

(turning to her)

You can see between the worlds ...

MORGAINE

Of course.

LANCELOT

Can they see us?

MORGAINE

Some of them - but only as shadows. Where the standing stones are they see a Christian church.

LANCELOT

I have never understood how Avalon can be in the same place as Glastonbury - and yet remain apart.

MORGAINE

If you stayed here and trained as a Druid, you would be able to come and go between the worlds as I can.

LANCELOT

If I stayed here to train as a Druid, the world outside will be laid waste before I have finished my first initiation. Have you ever seen a village after the Saxons have ravaged it, Morgaine?

(off her response)

If I have my way, you never will.

MORGAINE

(gently, teasing)

What - you alone will stem the tide?

LANCELOT

(with boyish) enthusiasm)

With cavalry, I can do it: armored knights, on horseback, wearing Scythian stirrups. If only ...

MORGAINE

If only what?

LANCELOT

If only Uther would listen. He is a great warrior, but he is set in the old ways.

MORGAINE

And you are the future?

LANCELOT

And I am the future, Morgaine.

She looks at his eager face, his shining eyes - and begins to love him.

MORGAINE

Even the future must eat. Come.

And she opens the pouch at her belt and sits down on the grass to improvise a simple meal.

mix to

The sun is declining from the zenith. The bell tolls from the shadowy church. Morgaine and Lancelot, the food eaten, are sitting back against the standing stones. Lancelot has his eyes closed, and Morgaine is watching his face, tracing every lineament with her eyes. Lancelot speaks softly, his eyes still closed.

LANCELOT

I can feel the power of the earth flowing into me, even as I lie here. Do you feel it, too?

MORGAINE

Of course: it is the lines of power which meet here. Those who are of the blood feel it more than any.

LANCELOT

It's as if I have been in Avalon for a thousand years. I feel as if I was here before Atlantis fell.

MORGAINE

Perhaps you were.

LANCELOT

With you?

MORGAINE

Perhaps ...

Slowly, he reaches up and strokes her cheek. Morgaine's eyes close.

LANCELOT

Yes, for sure: with you.

Their fingers reach out and interlock. As they look at each other from somewhere far off comes the sound of a WOMAN WEEPING.

MORGAINE

(sleepily)

Let them weep. Sometimes women need to weep.

But Lancelot turns towards the sound and sees, coming out of the heat haze a young, fair girl: GWENHWYFAR. Lancelot positively flies to her side and takes her hand.

LANCELOT

Lady! Weep not! You are safe.

She looks at him as if he is a supernatural vision: which, to her, he is.

GWENHWYFAR

Who are you? What is this place?

(looks wildly around her)

Where is the church - I was walking to the church -

MORGAINE

(to Lancelot)

She is one of the convent girls. She has stepped through the veil from Glastonbury.

GWENHWYFAR

Ah! One of the fairy people!

(to Lancelot)

Keep her away from me!

LANCELOT

Hush, she is no fairy; she is a mortal like you and me.

GWENHWYFAR

(whispering)

But she's so small and dark and ugly.

MORGAINE

(affecting not to have heard)

What is your name, child?

GWENHWYFAR

I am Gwenhwyfar, daughter of King Leodekrantz. How did I come to be here?

MORGAINE

It happens, sometimes, on the lines of power. Take my hand - I will return you to the ordinary world.

Gwenhwyfar looks at Lancelot.

GWENHWYFAR

May I not stay for a little while?

MORGAINE

No, Gwenhwyfar of Leodekrantz, you may not stay. This world is not for you.

As she says these words, she seems to rise in height, and when Gwenhwyfar looks at her, it is as if she is looking at the Goddess. Morgaine takes her by the hand and leads her into the shimmering heat haze.

As Morgaine returns Lancelot looks at her strangely.

LANCELOT

For a moment you looked so intense - it was like looking at my mother.

Morgaine reacts to this as if to a blow - and then recovers her composure.

MORGAINE

(coldly)

When you look on a priestess of Avalon, Lancelot, you look upon the Goddess. Did Viviane not teach you that?

Lancelot's eyes meet hers.

LANCELOT

She did, Morgaine. One forgets these things, out in the world of men.

EXT. SACRED WELL - NIGHT

The moon, reflected in the still waters of the sacred well. It is a moment before we realize that Morgaine is staring into it: and Raven is watching her.

MORGAINE

I can see nothing.

(off Raven's look)

Because I am looking out from my soul, Raven - and not inwards. But I don't want to look inwards: I don't want to see what's there.

(off Raven's look)

Yes, he's there. Only he. And I have frightened him away.

(with sudden intensity)

But I wouldn't have done it if that flaxen-haired ninny hadn't blundered in from the other side!

Suddenly the moon in the water has disappeared: and in its place is the silhouette of a man riding hard across a starlit skyline. Morgaine closes her eyes, as if in a trance.

MORGAINE

Tell the Lady of the Lake to prepare. The Merlin is coming - with heavy tidings. Send for the barge.

She looks at the Tree of Avalon. The blossoms are long gone now; a wind stirs its branches; leaves fall to the ground.

EXT. LAWN OF AVALON - NIGHT

The Merlin steps ashore from the barge: Viviane is waiting for him, as are Raven, Morgaine and several other priestesses.

VIVIANE

Welcome back to Avalon, Merlin.

MERLIN

(softly)

Dismiss them. We must speak as we walk.

At a signal from Viviane, the priestesses disperse, and Viviane and Merlin begin to walk across the lawn towards her quarters.

MERLIN

Uther is dying.

VIVIANE

What?

MERLIN

He was wounded as he repulsed the Saxons in the low country.

(suddenly angry)

He should have let Uriens lead the charge - but he was always too much in the forefront, always concerned too much for his men, never for himself.

VIVIANE

How soon?

MERLIN

It will not be quick: he does not know it himself yet. But I have probed it with my mind. He will not see out the year.

VIVIANE

Then all our plans have been for nothing, everything we -

MERLIN

Hush, Viviane, no: it is not too late.

VIVIANE

But the boy is too young, he cannot -

MERLIN

With our help he can. I have seen over him ever since he was fostered with Ectorius. He is a fine boy.

VIVIANE

But a boy! And he knows nothing of Avalon! How can you expect him to defend the old ways when he has had no teaching here?

MERLIN

I have taught him what I could, at the court of Ectorius. And in the months that come, he must learn more. We must go to him, you and I.

VIVIANE

Go to him! He must perform the rites, he must submit himself to -

MERLIN

Viviane: everything has changed. He is our only hope of uniting the two worlds when Uther goes. He is our only hope of saving something from the wreckage of Rome. We must prepare him.

Viviane looks at him.

VIVIANE

We have taken on too much, you and I.

MERLIN

We have done what we had to. The chariot has begun to move. We cannot let go our grasp now.

VIVIANE

So many lives turned, twisted from their natural course ...

MERLIN

Forced into the paths of destiny, Viviane. It is your role, it is mine. Come, there is no time to waste. We must set out before the sun rises on the morrow.

He looks up at the standing stones on the top of the Tor, and the moon shining over them.

MERLIN

Avalon demands it.

INT. Viviane's CHAMBER (Avalon) - DAY

Morgaine is reading, copying sections from the book as she goes. Sunlight is coming through the open door, falling on the illuminated manuscript.

Suddenly the pages of the book begin to turn as is blown by some supernatural wind - and Morgaine looks up to see Viviane standing in the doorway. She rises swiftly.

MORGAINE

My lady! But we thought you were -

VIVIANE

Far away. I was. And now I am returned.

MORGAINE

No one knew why you were gone. The younger priestesses -

VIVIANE

Were asking too many questions, as usual. Take off your robe.

(on Morgaine's questioning look)

Have you forgotten the authority of the High Priestess while I was away?

MORGAINE

Of course not, my lady. And she unfastens a brooch, letting her robe slip down from her body.

VIVIANE

And your underskirt.

Morgaine is naked now; a cloak appears in Viviane's hands and she places it across her shoulders.

VIVIANE

Good: you do not ask why. But I will tell you. You are to be prepared.

(leaning close)

For the Horned One.

Raven and an old woman appear, and begin to anoint Morgaine with oils and decorate her with blue designs. Viviane, standing in the shadows, speaks softly throughout the preparations.

VIVIANE

Since ancient days, before Atlantis fell, there has been a ritual in times of terrible peril. The deer are found, and the Maiden Huntress enchants them. Then the young man chosen to be the Horned One must run with the deer, and fight the King Stag for his life.

(whispers in Morgaine's ear)

And if he lives, he will join the Maiden Huntress in the Great Marriage.

Morgaine draws an involuntary breath.

VIVIANE

I told you years ago that your maidenhead belonged to the Goddess. Now she calls for it to be sacrificed to the Horned God. You are to be the Virgin Huntress.

The old woman paints a blue crescent on her forehead.

MORGAINE

As the Goddess wills, my lady.

deleted

EXT. HILLSIDE - SUNSET (gallery)

Tribesmen and women are gathered on a hillside at the head of a thickly wooded valley. They bow down as Morgaine appears from a cave in the hillside, her body and the cloak around her thickly painted with magical symbols. She looks down a corridor of skin-bedecked bodies to see a young man - his features invisible in the glare of the setting sun. As she watches, the antlers of a deer are fastened to his head - and the old woman places a drum in Morgaine's hands.

Automaton-like, as the young man is prepared, Morgaine begins to beat on the drum; the crowd takes up the rhythm of the drumbeat, chanting with her, and the speed of the drumbeat rises with their excitement.

MORGAINE

Life surges in the spring, the deer run in the forest, and our life runs with them. The King Stag of the world shall bring them down. The Horned One blessed by the Mother shall triumph. Let it begin!

And she stops drumming and raises both arms above her head in a hieratic gestures. With a great cry, the Horned One, followed by the tribe, races off down the hillside into the forest.

EXT. FOREST - SUNSET

Men racing through the forest. The deer grazing. The King Stag, sensing danger, raising his head and sniffing the wind. The deer begin to run.

EXT. FOREST - NIGHT

Deer and men racing through the forest. The Horned One catching up with the King Stag, wrestling him to the ground.

Tight on the antlers of the horned One and the King Stag, locked together as they thrust and pull against each other. The young man's eyes in his pained face are bright with excitement; as bright as those of the stag. Suddenly he has a flint knife out; is raising it.

The King Stag, seeing it, uses all his strength to throw the man off, to throw him down, trample him; but the young man is too quick. The knife slashes down into the King Stag's throat. Now the other men of the tribe have caught up, and a great cheer goes up. More flint knives slash down at the fallen stag, and the young man's face is anointed with blood.

There is a TEARING sound; and the dripping hide of the King Stag is draped over the young man's shoulders.

INT. sacred CAVE - NIGHT (gallery)

Morgaine lies on a bed of skins in the cave, looking out at the great full moon rising over the valley. She hears the CHANTS of the approaching tribesmen, and with a single gesture sweeps her painted cloak from her body. There's a moment's stillness, and then the Horned One appears in the mouth of the cave, silhouetted against the moon.

From his POV we see Morgaine's naked, painted body, Goddess-like on the bed.

And then he removes the antlers from his head, and releases the cloak of deerskin around his shoulders. Thick with blue pigment, dripping with the blood of the King Stag, he advances towards the bed. Morgaine reaches up, grips his hands, and draws him down to her. The mouth of the Horned One closes on hers as their bodies merge.

EXT. HILLSIDE - night

The tribespeople are sprawled about the hillside, asleep, as the sun rises.

INT. sacred CAVE - SUNRISE

The Horned One and Morgaine lie together in the dimness of the cave. The Horned One wakes and looks at her.

THE HORNED ONE

Last night you were a Goddess: I was afraid of you. Now I wake to find you are a woman.

MORGAINE

I am a priestess from the Holy Isle.

THE HORNED ONE

And the priestess is a woman.

(kisses her)

Do you think the Goddess will be angry with me if I like the woman better?

MORGAINE

The Goddess is wise in the ways of men.

THE HORNED ONE

And her priestess?

MORGAINE

I - I have never known a man before this.

The Horned One leans down and kisses her between the breasts.

THE HORNED ONE

I don't suppose we shall ever meet each other again ... but I want you to know you were the very first for me: and no matter how many women I will lie with, for all my life I will always remember you - and love you and bless you. I promise you that.

There are tears on his cheek. Morgaine cradles his head against her and wipes the tears away. The Horned One seems to stop breathing.

THE HORNED ONE

Your voice ... and what you just did. Why do I seem to know you? Is it because you are the Goddess - and all women are the same?

Morgaine sees the streaks Arthur's tears have made on his painted face and dips her fingers into a bowl of water to wipe off the rest of his savage finery. As she does so her mouth falls open.

MORGAINE

No -

Arthur raises himself up, and looks down at her in growing horror.

ARTHUR

Morgaine! You are Morgaine! My sister! Ah, God, Mary, Virgin - what have we done?

MORGAINE

Ah, Goddess! Brother! Arthur!

She holds him tight as sobs rack his body.

ARTHUR

No wonder it seemed to me that I had known you since the world was made. I have always loved you and this - no, no, no ...

MORGAINE

(hopelessly)

Don't cry, don't cry. We are in the hands of her who brought us here. It doesn't matter. We are not brother and sister here: we were god and Goddess in the ceremony, no more.

But her eyes belie her words: she is appalled at what she had done. As she cradles Arthur on her breasts, she speaks into the rising sun.

MORGAINE

Why did you do this to us, Goddess? Why, Great Mother, why?

EXT. woods - DAY

Uther and his men are riding swiftly through woodland. Uther's chest is bandaged beneath his armor.

UTHER

If we can reach Caester before the Saxons, we can prevent Hengist joining forces with the Norse.

URIENS

Where are Lot's men? Unless he gets here in time we're not even a match for Hengist alone.

UTHER

Oh, he'll come. He's given his word that -

But he never finishes his sentence. An arrow thuds into his shoulder, hurling him off his horse, and before any of them can react, logs roll across the woodland before and behind them, and the Saxons pour out of their hiding places in every house. It is an ambush.

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

A lone horseman galloping wildly across the downland: as he passes us we see it is Arthur, his eyes red with weeping, his face still strained with the horror of what has happened to him. And then, ahead of him, he sees a country church - and fugitives racing towards it.

EXT. country church - DAY

As he tries to lead his remaining men towards the church, Uther is battling valiantly, but he has sustained several new wounds and is bleeding heavily. Even as we watch Hengist, the Saxon chief, backs him up against the door of the church.

HENGIST

I want you to know how much happiness this brings me, to bring down a high king.

UTHER

You swore an oath to me: I defeated you and let you live. Have you no honor?

Hengist's axe clashes with Uther's sword - and smashes it to pieces.

HENGIST

Honor rests only with the victor: and I am the victor, Uther - and you the vanquished.

And his axe-blade comes slashing down on the wounded man - as Arthur throws himself from his galloping horse into the weapon's path. But his intervention is without finesse: he has no time to draw his sword before Hengist, with a cry of fury lifts him up and slams into the church wall.

He slashes at Arthur with the axe, cutting his sword-belt so the weapon falls to the ground: but in that instant Arthur grasps the head of the axe - and holds onto it.

ARTHUR

Father - into the church, now!

HENGIST

Father?

Uther too looks in surprise at Arthur - but begins fumbling weakly with the church latch.

ARTHUR

Yes, Saxon - Uther Pendragon is my father. Do you think his son would let him die at the hands of a traitor like you?

Hengist's superior strength tells: he tears the axe head out of Arthur's hands.

HENGIST

Yes, I think that is exactly what will happen.

And he whirls the axe at Arthur's head - as Arthur throws himself backwards through the door of the church.

INT. country CHURCH - DAY (gallery)

Arthur slams the bolts of the church door and turns to look into its dimness. Uther, leaving a massive trail of blood behind him, has reached the altar, and is prostrate before it. Arthur rushes up the aisle and cradles him in his arms.

ARTHUR

Father!

UTHER

Is it you, Arthur? I thought you were safe in the household of Ectorius. And now you have to come to see me die.

ARTHUR

Die - no: you can't die. I hardly know you. Come on, we'll go out there, both of us, and cut them down.

UTHER

I'll never cut anyone down again, son. And you: you have no weapon either, I think.

ARTHUR

(realizing he's right)

It's alright, we're safe in here. They can't get in.

UTHER

They never try to get in, Arthur. They have another way.

And as he speaks there is a ROAR of FLAME - as the Saxons set fire to the church.

UTHER

And so ends the High Kingdom of Britain. It's a shame you never had the chance to rule: you would have been a good king.

Arthur looks at his father with pity - but as he does so a steely glint comes into his eye. This is not how it is going to end: he is not going to let it end this way. He looks up at the altar and calls aloud in a surprisingly strong, commanding voice.

ARTHUR

I call on the powers of heaven: aid me now. I call on the God of Heaven, and the Goddess of Earth: help me now.

He rises to his feet and looks straight at the altar.

ARTHUR

I, Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, once and future king, call on you. Come to my aid!

He stares at the altar. Nothing happens. And then - a wind blows through the church.

VOICE (O.S.)

Your prayer is answered, Horned One.

He turns around and then, halfway down the aisle of the church stand Viviane. Arthur stares at her, amazed.

ARTHUR

The Lady of the Lake!

VIVIANE

Did you not call on God and the Goddess, Arthur?

ARTHUR

I did.

VIVIANE

And it is the Goddess who has answered.

UTHER

Viviane ...

She kneels beside him.

VIVIANE

Uther ...

UTHER

And so it ends.

VIVIANE

You have played your part well, Uther. You may die knowing you have served God and the Goddess.

UTHER

I have played the part you assigned to me.

VIVIANE

You have been a king, Uther. You have helped the world turn. And your son is ready to reign in your stead.

Arthur is gripping Uther's hand.

ARTHUR

I don't want to reign in your stead, Father. I want to live beside you, learn from you. Be your son, not a stranger.

UTHER

You have learnt, my son, everything you -

And suddenly he is silent; a trickle of blood runs from the corner of his mouth.

ARTHUR

Uther!

VIVIANE

He is gone. Arthur; and nobly gone. And now you will be High King - if Avalon supports you.

Arthur looks at her - looks around him at the burning church.

ARTHUR

Lady - we are surrounded by Saxons - trapped inside a burning church: and you talk of -

VIVIANE

Avalon will lend you its support, and the tribes will follow you, if you swear to protect the old ways and keep the Goddess alive in men's hearts.

ARTHUR

Lady, I cannot promise -

VIVIANE

Swear, Arthur - or it ends here.

Arthur looks at her, the flames growing more intense, sweat beading his brow.

ARTHUR

I swear.

VIVIANE

Look at the altar.

Arthur turns, and realizes that what he took for a cross embedded in the altar stone is in fact the hilt of a massive sword. He looks back at Viviane and then grasps the sword.

VIVIANE

It is Excalibur, the sword of Avalon. You are blessed by the Goddess, purified in the rites, consecrated in the Great Marriage: you have the strength to draw it.

Arthur draws a deep breath, and pulls. With the piercing sound of steel on stone, the sword slides out of the altar, glittering with blue light.

On Arthur's eyes as its significance sinks in.

VIVIANE (O.S.)

It is Excalibur. Take it, and go forth - and smite your enemies.

He turns to her: she has disappeared. The roof has begun to burn, and blazing beams are crashing to the floor. Arthur looks at Uther's lifeless body.

ARTHUR

With your blessing, Father.

And with a great yell of battle, holding Excalibur high, he charges down the aisle, reaching the doors just as they crumble in the flames.

EXT. country church - DAY (gallery)
Arthur charges out of the church with the sword, slashing and hewing as the Saxons hurl themselves at him.

EXT. CATHEDRAL FIELD - TOPSHOT - DAY

In front of an early version of one of England's cathedrals stretches a great green field.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

If I thought that the pain had come to an end when Arthur and I parted in the cave of the Horned One: I had much to learn. And the learning began on the day of my brother's coronation.

In a series of mixes we watch two or three tents appear on this field, and then two or three more, and then a dozen more.

EXT. CATHEDRAL FIELD - DAY

We are down among the rows of tents, as Lot and Morgause walk between them. It's a bustling scene; stewards carrying platters of food, squires carrying armor, priests on donkeys, little knots of tribesmen in blue pigment. But Morgause and Lot, proud, regal and self- contained, sail through imperviously.

Their son GAWAIN, a tall, handsome, brawny young man in full battle dress, follow them at a few paces distance, reading a message handed to him by a royal guard.

MORGAUSE

Every kinglet and duke in Britain has come to pay homage today.

LOT

Including ourselves, Morgause.

MORGAUSE

You are no kinglet, Lot: you rule Orkney and Lothian as a true king.

LOT

Under the High King, my love. I was sworn to Uther, now I must swear to Arthur.

MORGAUSE

It should not be Arthur! If I had had my way ...

(indicating Gawain)

... our son would be taking Uther's crown today.

LOT

But you didn't have your way, my love: though I must say you tried your best. They hid Uther's brat away very cleverly and brought him out at the last moment, when it was too late. For which I blame your dear sister of Avalon.

MORGAUSE

Viviane! Always against me! The royal blood flows through my veins as well as Igraine's. She has Avalon, Igraine had Uther: Isn't it my turn now?

LOT

Yes, it is, it should be. But it is not to be, my dear. From now on the royal line will flow from the loins of whoever Arthur chooses to be his bride.

MORGAUSE

May she be barren as a rock!

LOT

Morgause ...

MORGAUSE

I mean it! I have been robbed! I will not be robbed!

Gawain catches up with them and shows them the message.

GAWAIN

Arthur is gathering the young princes before his crowning, choosing his battle-companions. I must go to him.

LOT

Ah, the new generation, you see, Morgause: We are being cast aside. The race is taken up by the young. Go and pay your homage, son: may Arthur recognize your worth.

Gawain bows and goes.

MORGAUSE

Do you mean that, husband?

LOT

Of course not. No one ceases to strive for power until they are dead. Certainly not Lot of Orkney. Or Lot of Orkney's wife.

They have reached their destination: a large, well- constructed tent with a guard outside the entrance. On seeing Lot and Morgause the guards present arms and pull back the flap.

INT. IGRAINE'S TENT - DAY (gallery)

Morgause flings her arms around Igraine as she and Lot enter.

MORGAUSE

Sister!

IGRAINE

Morgause!

MORGAUSE

This is a great day for you, Igraine.

IGRAINE

And a great sorrow, sister.

LOT

Uther was a good man and a great king. I grieve with you at his loss.

A figure materializes out of the shadows: it is Bishop Patricius.

PATRICIUS

He is on the right hand of God, King Lot. He was a good Christian and he has gone where good Christians go.

Morgause's face shows she does not accept this view for a moment.

IGRAINE

It is only that knowledge that comforts me, Father Patricius One day I shall see him again in heaven.

(heading off an argument)

Bishop Patricius and I were discussing how to find the right wife for Arthur, once he is king.

PATRICIUS

She must be high-born, of course, virtuous, and a good Christian.

LOT

And with a good dowry: Arthur will find that being High King requires all the money, men and horses he can lay his hands on.

MORGAUSE

I know the young princesses well. I may be able to help you.

The tent flap opens and Morgaine appears.

MORGAUSE

(sotto voce)

Later.

Morgaine and Igraine stare at one another.

MORGAINE

Mother!

IGRAINE

(softly)

My daughter ...

She holds out her hands to her. The tips of their fingers touch.

IGRAINE

So long ...

Morgraine's fingers wrap themselves around Igraine's hands and suddenly the two women are embracing.

IGRAINE

Why, you are a woman grown - I always see you in my heart as a little maiden.

PATRICIUS

(re the small blue crescent tattooed on Morgaine's temple)

But what is this? Painted like one of the fairy people? Is this seemly, Morgraine?

MORGAINE

I am a priestess of Avalon, Bishop, and I wear the mark of the Goddess with pride. As you wear your church regalia.

PATRICIUS

I wear my robes with humility, my lady. It is the Christian way.

MORGAUSE

How is the High Priestess Morgaine? Still meddling in other people's lives?

The remark strikes home to Morgaine and she hesitates. Morgause laughs.

MORGAUSE

Ah, you don't want to be disloyal to her, do you? But she's a spider in a web, is my sister, and we all know it.

Come, give your aunt a hug.

(embraces Morgaine)

But you're all skin and bone. Don't they feed you in Avalon? We'll have to take you up to Scotland and fatten you up on porridge, won't we, Lot?

LOT

Aye, Morgaine, you'll be welcome with us when you tire of Avalon.

PATRICIUS

Your first duty is to your mother, Morgaine. She needs you now.

IGRAINE

No, Bishop: I am over the first pangs of grief, and after Arthur is crowned I will go to a nunnery. I have had too much the world's turmoil.

(drawing Morgaine closer)

Come - I want to hear all about Viviane, and what you have been doing since you left me, so long ago.

EXT. CATHEDRAL FIELD - DAY (gallery)

A group of young men, dressed in bits and pieces of armor, at swordplay: Arthur, Lancelot, Arthur's foster- brother CAI, BEDWYR, LUCAN, BALIN, Gawain. Arthur is going from pair to pair, commenting on their skill.

ARTHUR

Cai, my brother, raise your shield, or Bedwyr will have that sword down on your -



Cai suddenly turns the tables, disarms Gawain and sends him crashing to the ground.

CAI

You may be about to be king, little foster-brother, but there's not much you can teach me about -



But Gawain has his revenge: from the ground he grabs Cai's ankles and brings him crashing down, setting them all laughing. Still laughing, Arthur steps into Lancelot's mock-fight with Lucan.

ARTHUR

No, Cai - this is what I meant.

And uses his shield to deflect Lancelot's sword. But Lancelot is not so easily defeated - soon he and Arthur are engaged in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle: still in fun, but growing more intense with every minute - till they are face to face, panting hard.

For a moment, as Lancelot looks into Arthur's eyes, it looks as if he will have the upper hand, and Arthur's demonstration will go wrong. And then Lancelot, without any sign that will alert the other companions, loosens his grip to let Arthur prevail and goes crashing to the ground. A fresh burst of laughter goes up.

LANCELOT

(good naturedly)

And that is what happens when you let a king teach you how to fight.

He looks up to meet Arthur's eyes - but Arthur is looking away, towards the top of the hill overlooking the field.

ARTHUR

Carry on, my friends, I'll be back with you shortly.

And he strides away between the tents. Lancelot watches him go: until his attention is distracted by the clatter of hooves.

It is Gwenhwyfar, arriving with her entourage. She does not see him, but Lancelot stares at her, thunderstruck anew by her beauty.

CAI

Another fight, Lance?

(Beat)

Lance?

But Lancelot is in another world.

EXT. HILLTOP - DAY

Morgaine is sitting alone at the top of a hill over- looking the field of tents, her chin on her knees. A shadow falls over her.

ARTHUR

Morgaine ...

MORGAINE

Arthur! Shouldn't you be -

ARTHUR

Preparing for the coronation, meeting my great lords, talking to the bishops: yes, I should be, but then I saw you.

He sits down beside her, and speaks softly.

ARTHUR

I think of you all the time. I can't help myself. It was true what I said, Morgaine - that all my life I shall remember you because you were the first, and I shall always think of you and love you -

MORGAINE

Brother, you must not think of me in that way. It is blasphemy to remember me as a mortal woman. Forget me, and remember the Goddess.

ARTHUR

I've tried and -

He breaks off and clenches his fists. Morgaine gently takes his hands.

MORGAINE

I will always be with you, Arthur. I too will always love you: as a sister. What happened between us at the Great Marriage -

ARTHUR

Changed everything! Don't you see that? I dream of you, Morgaine, I dream of you. Terrible, unholy dreams.

MORGAINE

No. You are my brother - you are going to be my king. Think only of that. What is past is past.

ARTHUR

Past for you, perhaps, Morgaine. Not past for me.

And he attempts to embrace her.

MORGAINE

No!

She gives way to her distress as she breaks away from him and races down the hill.

EXT. HILLSIDE - DAY

Morgaine rushes blindly down the hill - straight into Lancelot. For a moment, involuntarily, he holds her in his arms, looking down at her in sheer surprise.

LANCELOT

Morgaine! I was looking for Arthur.

MORGAINE

(dully)

He's on the hilltop.

LANCELOT

I haven't seen you since -

MORGAINE

Since Gwenhwyfar blundered into Avalon, and you fell in love with her.

LANCELOT

Love? I have had little time for love since that day.

MORGAINE

No ...?

LANCELOT

It has been nothing but fighting, attack and counter-attack. But now Arthur's going to be king, everything's going to change. He'll let me build that cavalry force I was telling you about - and then the Saxons will know who they're up against.

Morgaine looks at him: She knows he is deliberately avoiding the issue - but all she can think about is his beauty, which hypnotizes her.

MORGAINE

I have often thought about that day, Lancelot.

Beat.

LANCELOT

I too, Morgaine.

MORGAINE

But which of us did you think of? The small dark priestess of Avalon, or the golden princess of Leodekrantz?

LANCELOT

(softly)

I thought of you both. She dazzled me. Dazzles me. You calmed me. You calm me now, Morgaine. I have need of calm.

MORGAINE

You have braved much, Lancelot. I know.

LANCELOT

Arthur and I.

MORGAINE

Like brothers.

LANCELOT

Like brothers.

EXT. CATHEDRAL FIELD - TOPSHOT - NIGHT

The same field of tents we saw by day is now illuminated by lamps within and fire without like so many Chinese lanterns.

INT. MORGAUSE'S TENT - NIGHT

Morgause is sitting at a table, on which a brass tray supports a tiny fire; over the fire a tiny brass pot, bubbling. The flap of the tent opens and a the hooded figure of the PHYSICIAN comes in.

PHYSICIAN

I have it, my Lady. He flips back the hood, revealing an elderly man with a white beard.

He hands Morgause a small leather bag, which she opens, eagerly. Inside, a lock of hair.

MORGAUSE

The girl's hair ...

PHYSICIAN

It is, my lady.

Morgause presses money into his palm.

PHYSICIAN

But it will not be used to hurt her ...

MORGAUSE

On the contrary, Physician: it will be used to spare her the pain God laid on women when Eve bit the apple.

Morgause drops the hairs into the tiny bubbling cauldron. She closes her eyes and stretches her hands over the cauldron; her lips moving silently as she recites a spell.

The liquid in the cauldron changes color; the boiling stops and it becomes clear and colorless. Morgause gestures for the Physician to hold a tiny phial, as she pours the liquid into it.

MORGAUSE

Put this in her drink, and child- birth will never be a pain to her ...

The Physician is clearly troubled by what he is witnessing - and we begin to wonder whether he is going to do what Morgause is telling him.

MORGAUSE

That I promise.

INT. IGRAINE'S TENT - NIGHT

Igraine, Arthur and Merlin sit listening to Morgaine play the harp, held in the spell of her music. As it comes to an end, Merlin speaks.

MERLIN

The magic of Avalon, Morgaine. You have it in your fingers.

ARTHUR

It almost seems as if I was in Avalon as I listen to you play, Morgaine.

IGRAINE

You are to be High King in the real world, Arthur. You must leave the faery lands behind you now.

MERLIN

No, Igraine: Arthur has it in his blood to bring the two worlds together; to stop Avalon drifting away from this land; to preserve the magic.

IGRAINE

But he has been brought up a Christian.

MERLIN

True: but he also has it in him to unite the two religions - to infuse this land of ours with the old strengths, as well as the new. Is that not so, Arthur?

ARTHUR

(with a distant look in his eyes)

I have so sworn, Lord Merlin. I have so sworn.

Morgaine hands him a scabbard woven with the emblems of Avalon.

MORGAINE

For Excalibur, my Lord ... for you.

deleted

EXT. CATHEDRAL FIELD - DAY

A procession of kings, dukes, princesses, soldiers and painted tribesmen passes down the central aisle between the tents, and into the cathedral, from which the BELLS are PEALING.

EXT. SACRED WELL - DAY

In Avalon, Viviane places her hands on the rim of the Sacred Well, closes her eyes and composes herself. Raven appears and places a golden torque around her neck. Having achieved the mental state she wants, Viviane peers into the waters of the well. And sees a vision of Arthur's coronation.

INT. CATHEDRAL - DAY (gallery)

The cathedral is packed. Morgaine is with Lot and Morgause and Gawain. Suddenly the BELLS STOP and a hush falls on the church. Arthur, alone, in a simple white tunic, walks down the aisle. Morgaine's eyes follow him.

GAWAIN

(softly)

He is like a hero out of legend.

Arthur reaches the altar, and kneels. Patricius comes forward, and places a simple gold circlet on his forehead - and then Merlin, in his most majestic robes, hands him Excalibur. Arthur turns to the congregation, removes the sword from the scabbard Morgaine gave him, and speaks in a ringing voice.

ARTHUR

For all the peoples of Britain: my sword for your protection.

VIVIANE (V.O.)

See, Raven, how Merlin is on his right hand and the Christian priest on his left; he is fulfilling his vow to Avalon.

The painted tribesmen, unused to the ceremonies of a Christian church, yell out their acclamation. One by one, members of the rest of the congregation join in: soon they are all acclaiming Arthur at the tops of their voices. He sheathes the sword and his voice rises even above the din.

ARTHUR

My hand for justice!

The acclamation goes on. He spreads his arms wide, acknowledging both Merlin and the archbishop.

ARTHUR

One kingdom - the old wisdom and the new. One kingdom, united, to stand against the tides of barbarism - to hold the light of civilization high above the crashing waves. The once and future Britain!

Then the BELLS RING out again as the acclamation intensifies. Lot glances at his son, who is shouting as lustily as any, and speaks sotto voce to Morgause.

LOT

He has the knack, Morgause. If anyone can save this land, he can.

MORGAUSE

But he must do it in his own lifetime. No heir of his will follow him to the throne.

LOT

How can you say that, woman? Can you predict the future?

But now the congregation falls silent - as Patricius quiets them.

PATRICIUS

Brothers and sisters - there is another occasion of joy this day. We have a new high king: we are also to have a new high queen!

Tight on Merlin. He'd had no idea Patricius was going to do this.

PATRICIUS

Our king has sworn to defend Avalon as well as the holy church. That is good. But he has agreed to marry a Christian princess!



And he reaches out his hand to draw from the congregation - Gwenhwyfar.



EXT. SACRED WELL - DAY

VIVIANE

Gwenhwyfar! A Christian princess as Arthur's queen: a clever move, Patricius. But that was to be expected, and the girl is a cipher, nothing more.

(sees Morgaine, stony-faced ) with shock) )

Morgaine - Morgaine, what is in your heart?

Then she sees Morgaine's look towards Lancelot.

VIVIANE

She loves my son! Oh, Morgaine -

And she sees Lancelot's face as he gazes at Gwenhwyfar, and understands.

VIVIANE

Lancelot - you fool!

Involuntarily, her glance goes to the Tree of Avalon. Its branches are now bare.

INT. CATHEDRAL - DAY

As the bishop blesses Arthur and his affianced queen, Morgaine watches her brother betroth himself to the woman who robbed her of Lancelot - and Lancelot watches the woman he holds most dear given to his closest friend.

Tight on Igraine - pleased - Gwenhwyfar is a woman after her own heart.

On Merlin - appalled: Patricius has completely outmaneuvered him.

On Lot: as he looks down at Morgause - her face suffused in triumph.

MORGAUSE

(sotto voce, to Lot)

She will never bear him a living child, Lot, you may rely on that. When Arthur dies - the fruit of his loins will be the next in line for the throne.

LOT

What have you done, woman?

MORGAUSE

Think you I alone of all the sisters learned nothing of magic?

Lot shakes his head in awe at her determination. And then realizes something.

LOT

But all your plans will come to nothing if Morgaine bears a son.

MORGAUSE

Morgaine is a priestess of Avalon, husband. She will never marry.



Together they both glance across at Morgaine - whose gaze is fixed, hypnotized, on the unfolding ceremony at the front of the cathedral. Suddenly it is all too much for her, her eyes close and she crumples to the ground at their feet. Instantly, Morgause is beside her, cradling her in her arms.

LOT

What's the matter with her, Morgause?

MORGAUSE

It's nothing, it's just the heat, the noise. Isn't it, Morgaine?

But as Morgaine opens her eyes, she is gripped by nausea, and holding her hand over her mouth, she rushes out of the cathedral.

EXT. CATHEDRAL - DAY

Morgaine supports herself against the cathedral wall, vomiting. Morgause comes out after her, helps her upright, and gives her a cloth to wipe herself with.

MORGAUSE

It's alright, Morgaine, you're alright now. It was just the excitement in there.



Morgaine looks at her with haggard eyes.

MORGAINE

No - it wasn't that, Morgause.

MORGAUSE

Then what was it, niece? Tell me.

Morgaine can hardly get it out - but she has to tell someone.

MORGAINE

I think I must be ... pregnant.

On Morgause as the implications of this revelation sink in.

EXT. SACRED WELL - DAY

VIVIANE

She is with child! Arthur's child! (realizing) And Morgause has her in her power!

(to Raven)

Gather the herbs. We must prepare for a sending.

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Tight on herbs being sought for and plucked from thick vegetation near the edge of a wood. But when we look UP to see who is doing it, we see Morgause. She examines what she has gathered critically, laying the leaves out in the palm of her hand, and then tips them into a leather bag.

INT. MORGAUSE'S TENT - DAY (gallery)

Tight on steaming cauldron as Morgause tips the herbs into the water and it begins to boil. Through the steam we see Morgaine, lying on a camp bed.

MORGAUSE

This will bring on your courses: you are no more than two months with child; it will all be over.

MORGAINE

I'm afraid.

MORGAUSE

Of course you are. And if you want to bear the child, you should not take it. Perhaps the father was high-born - you should go to him, tell him what happened at the Beltane Rites. Perhaps he will marry you.

MORGAINE

No - no. Not that.

MORGAUSE

Or you could take the child to Avalon: other priestesses have brought up children of the Beltane Rites there. Why not this one?



Morgaine shakes her head.

MORGAUSE

Then it is simple. I know it works - I have used it several times myself.

MORGAINE

But - Lot ...

MORGAUSE

... Knows nothing about it. I'm not talking about his children. It's the trouble his handsome young courtiers have caused me.

(glances at cauldron)

Come along: time for your medicine.

She pours the contents of the cauldron into a wooden bowl and hands it to Morgaine as she sits up in bed. But as she puts it to her lips, they feel an unnatural breeze we have come to associate with one person.

VIVIANE

No, Morgaine, no.

Morgaine and Morgause stare at the vision of Viviane.

MORGAUSE

Ah, dear sister. So you have remembered your niece at last. She is carrying a child she doesn't want. I am helping her get rid of it.

VIVIANE

If she does, she will never bear another.

MORGAUSE

Is that a curse, sister?

VIVIANE

No, it is a fact.

(to Morgaine)

She did not tell you, did she, Morgaine, that if a woman uses that potion before she has born any child - she will never bear again.

MORGAUSE

Poppycock.

VIVIANE

Leave us, Morgause.

MORGAUSE

Leave her alone with you to bend to your will - once again? Never.

VIVIANE

I said leave us, sister.

MORGAUSE

I am not an infant, crawling at your skirts, Viviane. Nor one of your adoring priestesses. I am a queen in my own right, wife of Lot, a power in the land and a greater power to come. You do not order me to go or stay.

VIVIANE

But I do, Morgause. I do.

And she focuses all the strength of her personality on Morgause. After a moment, the younger woman's will cracks under the assault, and she turns abruptly and walks out. Viviane sits down on the bed besides Morgaine.

VIVIANE

It is Arthur's child, is it not, Morgaine? From the great marriage.

MORGAINE

How could it be anything else, since you kept me virgin until you needed me for the rites?

VIVIANE

You gave Arthur the strength he needed to become what he has become.

MORGAINE

My own brother!

VIVIANE

Half-brother. And I thought neither of you would ever know.

MORGAINE

Well, we realized - afterwards. How could you do it, Viviane?

VIVIANE

Because I have a sacred charge, Morgaine. Avalon and those of its blood are the only links this beleaguered land has to the world of mists, the reality beyond reality. The links are growing weaker with every year; the tree of Avalon is dying. I must do everything in my power to keep it alive.

MORGAINE

Even if it means sacrificing everyone you have ever loved - or who loves you?

VIVIANE

Even if it means sacrificing my own soul. That is what being the Lady of the Lake truly means. As you will discover.

MORGAINE

I ...

VIVIANE

Or course! What else has all your training been for, all your suffering, but to fit you to become the Lady when I am gone. You have the greatness of soul, Morgaine: I can see it. I have seen it all along.

MORGAINE

I am carrying a bastard child whose father is my half brother.

VIVIANE

You are carrying a child in whom the ancient, magic bloodlines are concentrated as never before in this land. You are carrying Arthur's successor. You are carrying the future of Britain.

(leaning close)

And you would let my slut of a sister murder it in the womb? So her own brat can step into Arthur's shoes?

MORGAINE

No!

VIVIANE

Yes, of course! You are too naive to see it? If you bear no child, the offspring of Lot and Morgause are next in line for the throne. Why else is she so solicitous of your needs?

MORGAINE

I don't believe it.

VIVIANE

Then drink the potion. Let her ambitions shape your life. Shape this nation's future.

(as Morgaine) hesitates)

Morgause is an utterly selfish woman, Morgaine. You are intelligent enough to see that. To her you are just a pawn in the game of power.

The words strike home: but not in the way Viviane intended. Morgaine suddenly sits up and faces Viviane, looking right back into her eyes.

MORGAINE

And I am something different for you, Aunt? I think not. Your motives may be nobler than hers, but you still move us around as pieces on a chessboard. My mother. My father, Gorlois, who died at Uther's hands because of you. My poor, innocent brother Arthur; you have torn his soul apart with what you did. He was a baby on my lap, he loved me, I loved him, I love him still - and you have - you have - twisted everything. Sullied it, made it into shame for the sake of Avalon. What is Avalon if these are the methods its priestess uses to keep it safe?

She raises the bowl as if to drink it off - and then flings it across the room.

MORGAINE

But I will not kill the child within me. I cannot do it. That much you have achieved.

She gets out of bed and stands before Viviane, and once more the hidden strength of her personality is clear.

MORGAINE

But I will not give him to you. I will not let you take him to Avalon to twist and shape as you wish to.

VIVIANE

In Avalon we can train him to be the greatest ruler Britain has ever -

MORGAINE

He will never set foot in Avalon, Viviane!

VIVIANE

You are a priestess of Avalon, Morgaine. I am the Lady of the Lake. You have sworn to obey the Goddess through me.

MORGAINE

Then I renounce my vows. I renounce the Goddess. I renounce you!

Viviane concentrates all her considerable psychic strength on Morgaine, as we saw her doing with Morgause.

VIVIANE

You will obey me, Morgaine. You will obey the will of the high priestess. You will return with me now, to Avalon, and you will bear your child there.

But Morgaine is made of tougher stuff than Morgause. Her eyes flash as she faces Viviane down.

MORGAINE

I will bear my child where I will, Viviane. I will not return with you to Avalon. I will be your plaything no more.

And she makes a gesture of power: Viviane's face is rigid with the effort to resist Morgaine's force, but the younger woman's power and anger are too much for her. As we watch, Viviane fades into insubstantiality, and disappears. Morgaine stands still, all strength drained. Tears run down her cheeks.

MORGAINE

(softly, almost inaudibly)

What have I done ...

The tent flap opens - and Morgause appears; to see the bowl that contained her potion thrown empty on the floor.

MORGAUSE

You did not drink it?

MORGAINE

I did not drink it. But Viviane will not have my child.

On Morgause: her mind is working faster than the speed of light as she re-evaluates the situation.

MORGAUSE

That she will not. We will look after your child together, you and I. In Scotland!

And the BELLS of the Cathedral begin to toll into the darkening afternoon.

EXT. CATHEDRAL FIELD - DAY

Horsemen clatter in: proud-faced armoured knights watched by Arthur and Lancelot.

LANCELOT

King Leodekrantz has done you proud, Your Majesty. It is a fine dowry.

ARTHUR

With men such as these, Lance, you can build the finest fighting force in Britain.

A laden cart rumbles past, carrying a massive object wrapped in sacking.

LANCELOT

And he sent the Table, Arthur: just as you asked for it: the Round Table where every one of your companions will be equal.

ARTHUR

It is the beginning, Lance: it is the beginning of something great in this land.

He realizes someone is standing beside him, unnoticed.

ARTHUR

Gwenhwyfar!

GWENHWYFAR

Is the dowry acceptable, my lord?

ARTHUR

The dowry, my love, is as acceptable as the bride.

And he kisses her.

On Lancelot, as they embrace; the sight is almost more than he can endure.

And then we see, moving in the opposite direction to the horsemen, the litter carrying Morgaine north. She gazes out of the window at the trio, and we see them from her

MORGAINE (V.O.)

And so began the era of Camelot, and my exile to the north - carrying the child who bore within him the power to destroy it all. We were caught up in the battle of the gods, Arthur, Gwenhwyfar, Lancelot and I, Morgaine - and who knew, at that moment, where it was to end?

FADE OUT.

END OF PART ONE

PART TWO

FADE IN:

EXT. HIGHLANDS - DAY

We are in the middle of a snowstorm roaring through a highland valley in the far north of Scotland. As the blizzard whirls across the bare hillside we follow it up to Lot's castle.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

I had never felt so alone as I did that winter in the castle of King Lot of Orkney. I would sit in the window, looking out into the storm and imagining that I could walk out into its blinding whiteness, that it would fold itself around me like a soft blanket, and I would disappear forever into forgetfulness ...

And as the snow-gusts swirl around its highest tower, we go with them through the narrow window.

INT. TOWER CHAMBER (Lot's castle) - DAY

Morgaine stands against the window, shivering. She is wearing an old blue dress; her hair is disheveled; she has dark circles under her eyes; her belly is huge.

MORGAUSE

Come away from the window, Morgaine. You will catch your death of cold.

Morgaine just stares at her. Morgause, who has been spinning, gets up, puts her arm around her, and draws her to the fire.

MORGAUSE (cont'd)

It was just so with me. The last few days were like eternity.

MORGAINE

I should have got rid of it while I had the chance.

MORGAUSE

But you did not, and now it is ready to come out into the world, and when you hold it, you will love it.

Morgaine stares at her.

MORGAUSE (cont'd)

Come, let me comb your hair, you'll feel better with your hair combed.

She sits down and Morgaine obediently sits back against her knees.

MORGAUSE (cont'd)

Remember when I used to do this for you at Tintagel, when you were a little girl? And you said the nurse always made tangles?

MORGAINE

She said my hair was coarse, like a pony's mane.

MORGAUSE

As fine as the wool of a black sheep, and shining like silk.

MORGAINE

You used to call me lamb.

MORGAUSE

Yes, lambkins, I did.

Suddenly, Morgaine is sobbing. Morgause puts her arms around her, rocks her like a child.

MORGAUSE (cont'd)

You sat on my lap no bigger than a doll, and now you are to have a child of your own, love.

There's the sound of a HUNTING HORN in the distance.

MORGAUSE

Good. Lot has found a deer. Doubtless an old, scrawny one at this time of year - but we'll eat fresh meat tonight. Put some flesh on those bones of yours.

(As Morgaine continues to sob)

It's all right, Morgaine. Everything's going to be alright.

INT. great hall (Lot's castle) - NIGHT (gallery)

Tight on a roast deer. Lot and his retainers, Morgause and her women, and Morgaine are sitting around the table, watching hungrily as great chunks of steaming meat are carved off and handed round.

LOT

Let no man say the King of Orkney and Lothian knows not how to keep a great hall, even in the depths of winter. The stag moves slowly after Candlemas, not enough heather to chew on.

MORGAUSE

Like us.

A burst of laughter from around the table.

LOT

Which reminds me, I saved the best cut for you, Morgaine.

(signals a steward)

Didn't you always say, Morgause, that the best meat for a breeding woman is the liver of a stag?

The steward comes towards the table, carrying something in a bowl. He bows and sets it in front of Morgaine.

LOT

Eaten raw.

Morgaine stares at the bloody mass, begins to retch, staggers to her feet - and then collapses. The steward catches her. Suddenly her dress is dark with fluid.

MORGAUSE

Her waters have broken.

(to the women)

Quick - get her up to her chamber.

(to Morgaine)

It's alright, my love, the waiting is over. They'll take you upstairs, I'll bring you a herbal drink.

The serving women help Morgaine out. Morgause is about to leave too when Lot catches her arm and draws her aside.

LOT

You are quick to bring Gawaine's rival into the world.

MORGAUSE

What do you want me to do? Murder the child?

LOT

Of course not. Morgaine is our kinswoman and our guest. But the lives of children born in midwinter are frail, unless they are carefully tended, and I doubt Morgaine will be well enough to tend to this one with much care.

Morgause meets his eyes steadily.

LOT

If this child dies, and Gwenhwyfar fails to produce Arthur an heir, our son Gawain will become High King. If he lives, Gawain and his brothers will squabble over my small kingdom, and probably destroy each other. Think on that, wife, as you bring that infant into the world.

MORGAUSE

I must go and brew the herbs.

LOT

(letting her go)

Think on what I have said, wife. Think well on it.

INT. Igraine's CHAPEL - NIGHT

A group of nuns are praying in a small, bare chapel. As they pray, a tremendous SCREAM ECHOES around the church. The nuns do not respond in any way - except one: as we close in on her, we realize she is Igraine - and that she is experiencing, in her mind, something of what is happening to her daughter. The first moments of the next scene are viewed through the slightly distorted lens of Igraine's sight.

INT. tower chamber (Lot's castle) - NIGHT

Morgaine is in labor, a difficult labor. As her pain reaches its climax and her SCREAMS ECHO around the castle, Morgause leans in to assist the delivery.

MORGAUSE

Breathe deep, Morgaine, breathe deep.

MORGAINE

Mother! Mother! I knew you would come!

MORGAUSE

Stop breathing now, push. Morgaine screams.

INT. GREAT HALL (Lot's castle) - NIGHT

The SCREAMS carry down to the great hall, where the table is empty and the fire is low. Lot and his retainers are throwing knucklebones. They exchange glances, carry on playing.

INT. Igraine's chapel - night

Tight on Igraine as she experiences Morgaine's pain.

MORGAINE (O.S.)

Mother ...!

INT. VIVIANE'S CHAMBER - NIGHT

Viviane, too, wakes as she experiences some of what Morgaine is feeling. She gets out of bed, wraps a robe around her, and hurries out.

EXT. SACRED WELL - NIGHT (gallery)

Viviane peers into the sacred well - but all she can see is a snowstorm.

VIVIANE

Morgaine, Morgaine: why are you hidden to my sight? Morgaine - show yourself.

Suddenly, in the image of the snowstorm, appear a pair of eyes, burning with fierce intensity. Although we will not know it now, they are the eyes of the adult Mordred, who has just entered the world.

Tight on Viviane's shocked face as laughter echoes up out of the sacred well; the laughter of Mordred.

INT. tower chamber (Lot's castle) - NIGHT (gallery)

Morgaine has collapsed, exhausted and unconscious. Morgause is wrapping the newborn infant as the serving women clear up. She is fascinated by it.

MORGAUSE

Frail, frail.

The SERVING WOMAN comes close and looks doubtfully at the baby.

SERVING WOMAN

The wet nurse is ready.

(indicating Morgaine)

She won't be able to feed him yet, poor bairn.

MORGAUSE

He doesn't look as if he'll last the night.

SERVING WOMAN

I take him, my lady? The woman's waiting.

MORGAUSE

Not yet. Leave us. All of you.

The Serving Woman and the others leave the chamber. Morgause goes to the window, opens the shutter. A swirl of snow blows in. She looks down at the child - and then out at the storm. She glances across at Morgaine, who is still lying unconscious. The child's life is in her hands. She could destroy it in an instant.

And then his eyes open. She blinks, it is as if she has encountered a will far stronger than hers will ever be. As if she is caught in a force field. The infant Mordred's eyes hold her in a mental vice. Almost against her will, she closes the shutter - and is startled by a weak voice from the bed.

MORGAINE

Give him to me, Morgause.

Morgause stares at her, she'd forgotten all about her, so caught up was she in the child.

MORGAINE

Give me my baby ...

MORGAUSE

You are too weak, child. Morgaine tries to sit up.

MORGAINE

Give me ...

Tight on Morgause's face as she wrestles with her dilemma. There is no thought now of destroying Morgaine's baby, but now she finds it almost impossible to give him up - even to let go of him. She racks her brain desperately for an excuse.

MORGAUSE

No, Morgaine - you are not strong enough to suckle him, and -

(winging it)

- if you hold him even once, he will not suck from his wet nurse's breasts. So he must be given to her right away.

She starts to leave the room.

MORGAINE

(trying weakly to reach out)

Let me hold my baby, Morgause. Let me hold him -

Morgause has reached the door.

MORGAUSE

When you are stronger.

MORGAINE

My baby -

But the effort is too much for her, she collapses back on the bed. And the door closes behind Morgause and the infant Mordred.

EXT. country road - DAY

A country road in high summer: thick green foliage on either side; sheep-cropped downland beyond the trees; SINGING in the distance, and then, round a bend in the road comes the royal procession, bedecked with canopies, ringed by soldiers, with musicians playing - and riding side by side, Arthur and Gwenhwyfar in the high summer of their love.

ARTHUR

This is what we are fighting for, my love. It does my heart good to see it. Peace flowing across the land like honey.

GWENHWYFAR

Paid for with your blood.

ARTHUR

The blood of many men, Gwenhwyfar; little enough of mine, thanks to the Lady Viviane's charms - and Excalibur.

He touches the sword, its scabbard woven with Druidic charms.

GWENHWYFAR

I wish they were Christian symbols, Arthur. I shiver when I see those heathen markings.

ARTHUR

They have kept me alive through many a battle, Gwen, when I should otherwise have died. And Christians and the followers of the Goddess all seem pleased I am still alive.

GWENHWYFAR

Archbishop Patricius says -

ARTHUR

Let us hear no more of Archbishop Patricius for now, it is high summer; we are on our way to back Camelot, and a new nation is growing under our hands. A great nation.

GWENHWYFAR

How can it be a great nation, my lord, when it is so divided: tribespeople, Picts, Celts, Britons, Christians, followers of the Goddess ...?

ARTHUR

It is from those divisions that greatness can come, Gwen: if I can balance them, hold them in play - there'll be a force resonating between them that no other land will ever match.

GWENHWYFAR

(with genuine admiration)

Arthur - you have such visions.

ARTHUR

Of course I do: and you are the best of them!

As he smiles he sees ahead of them on the road, Lancelot talking to a tattooed TRIBESMAN who has emerged from the trees. Moments later, Lancelot has ridden up to the King and Queen.

LANCELOT

This may be the chance you've been waiting for, My Lord. The tribesman says his people have seen Saxons moving from north and south towards the Forest of Dee. By tomorrow night both armies should be preparing camp in Herne Valley. As if they were asking us to ambush them!

Gwenhwyfar watches as both men turn their implication of the situation over in their minds; Lancelot, the impulsive hero - Arthur the strategist and diplomat. In the moment, she loves and admires them both in equal measure.

ARTHUR

Our main force is what - half a day behind us?

LANCELOT

If we leave the road now and ride across country to meet them, we can be in the hills overlooking Herne Valley an hour or two before the Saxons.

ARTHUR

But the tribesmen need a victory of their own: we must hold off our force until the tribes have made their attack - and then reinforce them.

LANCELOT

But my lord, if we all attack together -

ARTHUR

It will be our victory, not theirs: and we need to give them their chance, that they may take their place at the councils and balance the pride of the newer folk. Trust me, Lance: less glory for us - more strength for the nation.



Lancelot is silent: he knows that Arthur's mind has encompassed a bigger picture than his own.

ARTHUR

I'll go back. You see Gwenhwyfar safely to Camelot, saddle up the Companions, and ride to join us tomorrow night.

(as Lancelot starts to interrupt)

If you ride fast enough, you'll be in time to mop up the last of the Saxons!

He begins to turn his horse - and then remembers Gwenhwyfar. He turns to embrace her.

ARTHUR

Lance will look after you, my love. And I will return, with another victory to lay at your feet.

(to the tribesman)

You have done well, you and the tribes; you have sharp eyes and fast legs to bring me this timely news. It will not be forgotten.

He puts a hand on the man's shoulder, and we know this is a moment the man will never forget. Gwenhwyfar sees it too, and smiles with love and sadness as Arthur spurs his horse up the bank into the woods like a boy off to the hunt.

deleted

EXT. country road - SUNSET

Pan down from the setting sun to Gwenhwyfar and Lancelot riding side by side. Gwenhwyfar realizes Lancelot is staring at her.

GWENHWYFAR

Lance!

LANCELOT

I'm sorry, my lady. I was -

He falls silent. Their eyes are still locked on one another.

LANCELOT

You are so beautiful ...

GWENHWYFAR

Lance - no ...

LANCELOT

More beautiful than the sunset, more beautiful than the sun, more beautiful than life itself.

Gwenhwyfar looks at him with great intensity, but cannot trust herself to speak. The look lingers: they cannot take their eyes off each other. Then with a mighty effort Lancelot tears his gaze away.

LANCELOT

Arthur is a great king, is he not? A fount of wisdom for his people. I would never have thought of bringing the tribes into the battle as he plans.

GWENHWYFAR

That is because you are a hero, Lance: you would have thrown yourself into the fray come what may. Arthur sees things whole, balances everything in those hands of his ...

LANCELOT

Which do you love more, my lady: the hero or the statesman?

GWENHWYFAR

How can you ask me that, Lance?

Abashed, Lancelot looks away - and sees something to distract them from the dangerous ground they've reached.

LANCELOT

See there, Gwen, down by the stream? A doe has come for its evening drink.

But as they look at the deer, something startles it, and it bounds away into the woods. And Lancelot knows, with the instinct of a soldier, that something is wrong.

He pulls his sword from its scabbard.

LANCELOT

To arms, men, to arms!

As the escort reaches for its weapons, a rain of arrows pours down on them, and Saxon warriors pour out of the trees.

Lancelot grabs Gwenhwyfar's bridle.

LANCELOT

Come, my lady, we must ride.

GWENHWYFAR

No, you must stay with the -

LANCELOT

The Saxons are too many for us: my duty is to protect you. Hold on!

deleted

EXT. woods - SUNSET

Lancelot and Gwenhwyfar gallop wildly through the woods, with the cries of the Saxons behind them.

As he passes us we see the anguish on Lancelot's face: he wants to go back and fight, but he knows where his duty lies.

EXT. SACRED WELL - SUNSET

Viviane is staring into the sacred well.

VIVIANE

Morgaine, Morgaine: why do you hide yourself from my sight?

And then she sees a glimpse of Lancelot and Gwenhwyfar in the woods.

VIVIANE

No ...

And leaves from the Tree of Avalon swirl down around her.

EXT. CAVE - NIGHT (gallery)

Tight on a tiny bundle of sticks and then on a flint: Lancelot is striking the flint to create a spark: he and Gwenhwyfar are both soaked: beyond the cave mouth rain pours down. As the little fire begins to blaze, Gwenhwyfar starts to shiver violently.

LANCELOT

We must dry your clothes.

GWENHWYFAR

No!

LANCELOT

Yes, my lady: or you will die of cold. Take off your gown, drape my clothes around your shoulders, and dry yours before the fire.

He begins to pull his own clothes over his head. Involuntarily, Gwenhwyfar watches as his torso is revealed. When Lancelot can see again, he realizes she hasn't moved.

LANCELOT

Gwen, you must do this. There is no immodesty in it: I will go off into the woods as soon as I know you are warm.

Gwenhwyfar looks at him, her face torn by doubt - and then pulls her dress over her head. Instantly Lancelot drapes his own garment over her, takes the dress and hangs it over a branch near the fire.

LANCELOT

I will go now and try to find something to eat.

But Gwenhwyfar reaches out and takes his hand.

GWENHWYFAR

Stay with me.

LANCELOT

I -

GWENHWYFAR

I'm afraid, Lance. Stay with me.

He sits down beside her. She leans against him. Gradually, tentatively, his arm goes round her. She nestles into the warmth of his body.

GWENHWYFAR

This is where I want to be. Cold. Supperless. Homeless.

(softly)

With you.

Lancelot closes his eyes and lets out a long breath.

LANCELOT

You are my life, Gwenhwyfar. My soul reaches out to you with every breath I take. You light the day for me.

He holds her away from him, and they look into each other's eyes.

LANCELOT

I love you, Gwenhwyfar. I have loved you since the first moment I saw you.

GWENHWYFAR

And I you, my darling.

They kiss, and hold each other as if the world would never end. Then they sink back onto the ground. The draped clothing falls away from Gwenhwyfar's breasts and Lancelot gazes at her in the flickering firelight.

LANCELOT

You are so beautiful.

In answer she reaches out and caresses his face.

GWENHWYFAR

You are so like him: and yet ...

(off Lancelot's questioning look)

You speak to my soul as Arthur never has.

(She looks away into the little fire)

And I am sworn to Arthur.

LANCELOT

As am I.

They kiss again. He reaches out to touch to touch her breasts - but she raises herself up on one elbow.

GWENHWYFAR

It would be a sin, Lance.

LANCELOT

I know. I would go to hell for it, if that is the price.

He has said the wrong thing. Hell is quite real to Gwenhwyfar.

GWENHWYFAR

And take me there too?



He leans up.

LANCELOT

Never! There is no hell, Gwen, it is just priest-talk.

GWENHWYFAR

I was brought up by priests, Lancelot. And nuns. And hell is quite real. It is where adulterers go.

LANCELOT

Adulterers?

GWENHWYFAR

That is what we would be, Lance, if we did this thing. Traitors - and adulterers.

LANCELOT

(taking her hands)

But we love each other, Gwenhwyfar. There is nothing evil about our love.

GWENHWYFAR

There will be nothing evil, Lance. Will there?

He meets her eye: and bows his head in acknowledgement.

LANCELOT

No, my lady: there will not.

The words seem to be torn from him as if under torture. Gwenhwyfar squeezes his hand.

GWENHWYFAR

You are a good man, Lancelot. You are a good man to love.

Lancelot presses her hand against his face, and his tears run between her fingers.

INT. tower chamber (lot's castle) - DAY

Morgause is rocking Morgaine's baby in her arms, and looking at him lovingly. There is clearly a strong bond between them. She smiles into his face, takes a small knife and snips a lock of his hair. Widen to reveal the same tiny brazier and brass cauldron on her table that we saw her use to cast a spell of barrenness on Gwenhwyfar. She drops the lock of hair into the simmering herbs in the cauldron. And sees, in the steam, Arthur, as the Horned One, wiping the tribal marking from his face.

MORGAUSE

Arthur!

(to the baby)

You are Arthur's son!

(To herself)

Arthur's son ... in my hands ...

EXT. HIGHLAND HILLSIDE - DAY

It is spring now: the heather is in bloom and the Highlands are at their magnificent best. Great swooping hills stretching away towards lochs and mountains in the distance. As we swoop in towards it, Morgaine seems to rise out of the heather like the very spirit of the place.

She is no longer the bedraggled creature she was in the last stages of her pregnancy, but pale, thin and austere. She has clearly been walking for some time: as she reaches a promontory she sits down, chin on her hands, and looks over the view. A breeze stirs the heather, and a voice calls softly over the landscape, echoing in her head.

VIVIANE (V.O.)

Morgaine, Morgaine ... where are you?

Tight on Morgaine's troubled face as she hears the voice in her mind.

VIVIANE (V.O.)

Morgaine ... Avalon needs you ... I need you. Come home.

MORGAINE

(to herself)

Viviane ...

MORGAUSE

Viviane is not here, Morgaine: she is in Avalon. Plotting as usual.

Morgaine turns round, startled, to see Morgause coming up the hill towards her.

Panting a little, Morgause sits down beside her.

MORGAUSE

Moping. You have brought moping to a fine art, Morgaine.

MORGAINE

I try to do it alone, Aunt.

MORGAUSE

Your son spends so much time with me he thinks of me as his mother.

MORGAINE

He cries when he's in my arms: he sleeps peacefully in yours.

MORGAUSE

You would think a priestess of Avalon would have charms enough for that.

MORGAINE

I have cast myself out of Avalon, Morgause, as you know.

MORGAUSE

And a good thing too: one less life for my sister to meddle with. So, if you are not to be a priestess - you must have a man.

MORGAINE

A man?

MORGAUSE

A lover, or a husband, whichever you please: life isn't complete without a pair of strong thighs beside you in the bed at night. That's why you're moping, you know.

MORGAINE

You think that?

MORGAUSE

I know that, even if you don't. Is it Lancelot you're pining for?

MORGAINE

I'm not pining for anybody. But if I was - Lancelot loves another.

MORGAUSE

He loves Gwenhwyfar, and she is besotted with him: anybody could see that even while she was marrying Arthur. But as she is a Christian ninny and goes in terror of the priests and nuns, neither of them will do anything about it. Which is where you come in.

MORGAINE

You're telling me to go and throw myself at Lancelot?

MORGAUSE

You don't need to do any throwing. A bit of dangling will do the job. He's a man, isn't he? If you want him in your bed, he'll come. And you'd be doing the right thing, too.

MORGAINE

How so?

MORGAUSE

You think it good that Arthur's chief knight should lust after Arthur's wife?

Morgaine hesitates - and Morgause presses her attack.

MORGAUSE

Well then, if only for the sake of your brother - go and take Lancelot away from the Christian.

MORGAINE

Just like that?

MORGAUSE

Why, don't you think you're a match for her?

The barb hits home.

MORGAINE

It's not that. But I have a child. My first responsibility is to him.

MORGAUSE

And I am giving him all the care and love he needs. All the care and love you cannot.

MORGAINE

Cannot?

MORGAUSE

You think your child will be happy if you are not? You think your unhappiness won't see into him like foul water into fresh? No, Morgaine, if you want your child to be happy, you must find happiness yourself. And I tell you, you will not find it here.

deleted

EXT. castle COURTYARD (CAMELOT) - DAY

Arthur and his companions clatter into Camelot to be greeted by Lancelot and the cheering garrison. Lancelot helps Arthur dismount.

ARTHUR

Where is Gwenhwyfar, Lance: not here to greet me?

LANCELOT

She is abed, My Lord.

(on Arthur's look)

She hoped to present you with a child once again, it finished early.

ARTHUR

Poor thing, I must go to her.

But Lancelot detains him.

LANCELOT

She blames herself, Arthur. She thinks she must have committed some grave sin.

ARTHUR

My Gwen? But she's as pure as the driven snow.

LANCELOT

Of course she is. But it's hard for anyone brought up by Christian priests and nuns ever to believe that. Remember that when you go and see her.

INT. royal CHAMBER (Camelot) - DAY (gallery)

Gwenhwyfar is lying in a darkened room. Arthur comes in and sits beside her on the bed.

ARTHUR

My poor love!

Gwenhwyfar takes his hand.

GWENHWYFAR

I have failed you again, My Lord.

ARTHUR

Failed me? Never.

GWENHWYFAR

A queen should give her king an heir. I have given you no heir, Arthur ...

ARTHUR

There's plenty of time yet, love.

GWENHWYFAR

Unless we are being punished.

ARTHUR

For what?

Gwenhwyfar looks away.

GWENHWYFAR

Women are sinful, Arthur. The Bible tells us it was a woman committed the first sin, and every generation afterwards has carried that burden.

ARTHUR

Don't the priests also say Christ died for our sins? And redeemed us all?

GWENHWYFAR

Then why do you not carry His banner, Arthur?

Arthur is taken aback: this comes completely out of left field.

ARTHUR

I carry the Pendragon banner, like my father before me.

GWENHWYFAR

A banner woven in Avalon, My Lord, by pagans. Their symbol.

ARTHUR

I am sworn to protect the ancient religion as well as the new one, Gwenhwyfar. You always knew that.

GWENHWYFAR

I did not know it would cost me child after child, Arthur. I did not know it would make me barren.

ARTHUR

You are not barren, Gwen - and if you were, the Pendragon banner has nothing to do with it.

GWENHWYFAR

But I know that if you fought under the banner of our Lord instead, I would be able to give you a son. I know it, Arthur.

ARTHUR

If I put aside the Pendragon banner, I break my oath and lose the support of Avalon - and the swords of half the tribes. And we need them, Gwen, if we are to save this land.

GWENHWYFAR

And I need a child, Arthur. I need a child!

INT. Igraine's CHAPEL - DAY

Igraine is at the confessional.

IGRAINE

I am troubled, Mother Superior. In my dreams I see my son, assailed by dark forces. He needs help.

MOTHER SUPERIOR

Is it help you can give him, daughter?

Beat.

IGRAINE

Not unless I resort to magic, Mother.

MOTHER SUPERIOR

Which you have forsworn, as being against God's will.

IGRAINE

But magic forces are being used against him, against his wife -

MOTHER SUPERIOR

Then the devil will claim those who use them. Leave your son in the hands of God, daughter. He will provide.

Tight on Igraine. She does not believe it.

EXT. castle COURTYARD (CAMELOT) - DAY

A splendid melee is going on: Arthur, Lancelot, Bedwyr, all thoroughly enjoying themselves in a mock battle with practice weapons. Among the spectators, with her eyes fixed on Lancelot, is a stunning young lady-in-waiting named ELAINE.

And then, in the midst of the mock battle the trumpets sound - and Arthur turns to see a figure silhouetted against the dazzling summer afternoon.

ARTHUR

Morgaine ...

MORGAINE

I have come back, My Lord.
Arthur strides to meet her.

ARTHUR

My sister. Welcome to Camelot.

(softly)

Thank God you have come, Morgaine. I need your help.

But as she clasps his hands, Morgaine's eyes are on Lancelot.

And from the window of her tower - the eyes of Gwenhwyfar are on all three.

INT. GREAT HALL (CAMELOT) - NIGHT (gallery)

A feast is in progress at the Round Table, with all the pomp and splendor of the royal court. (We note Elaine, her eyes still fixed on Lancelot)

Gwenhwyfar and Morgaine are seated next to each other, and amid the chatter and the clatter of dishes, Gwenhwyfar turns her anguished face to her and speaks in a strained whisper.

GWENHWYFAR

Did Avalon train you in herb-lore, Morgaine?

MORGAINE

Of course. Many's the night I spent out on the hills, gathering -

GWENHWYFAR

And magic, they taught you how to use the herbs in magic potions, did they not?

MORGAINE

Magic is a simple word, Gwen, for complex things. Knowing the movements of the sun and stars, the lines of force in the earth, the power of words -

GWENHWYFAR

But you can make potions so a woman may conceive, can you not?

MORGAINE

To help, yes. Is that what you wish?

GWENHWYFAR

That, yes. And also ... a love potion.

MORGAINE

A love potion ...?

GWENHWYFAR

To help me love Arthur. So that I may get him a son.

MORGAINE

But surely you need no potion to help you love -

Morgaine looks at Gwenhwyfar, realizing the agony of soul which has prompted her to make this request.

GWENHWYFAR

Will Avalon do this for me, Morgaine? Will Avalon help England's queen in her hour of need?

Morgaine stares at her - and sees, further down the table, Lancelot watching them both.

And suddenly sees a vision of his face, rigid in the throes of passion.

INT. STABLES (Camelot) - NIGHT

Track along the stalls in which Arthur's steeds have been stabled for the night, to find Lancelot busy examining a particular mare.

LANCELOT

No - there is something in her hoof.

(to groom)

There. Give me the knife.

With a quick, deft movement he finds and removes something from the horse's hoof and pats the horse on the nose.

LANCELOT

There, there, my old friend: everything's alright now. You'll gallop across the field of battle like a colt.

(to groom)

See to the roan: she needs ointment for her fetlocks.

The groom goes, and Lancelot continues to gentle the horse.

LANCELOT

They didn't look properly, did they? They don't know you as I do, old friend.

MORGAINE

Does anyone know you, Lancelot?

Lancelot turns, startled to see Morgaine has slipped into the stable. She has changed her gown, and looks more beautiful than we have ever seen her. Lancelot sees it too.

LANCELOT

Morgaine! I would not have known you!

MORGAINE

You look at me almost as if you thought I was beautiful.

LANCELOT

You are beautiful.

MORGAINE

You think so?

LANCELOT

(coming closer)

And so small.

(takes her hand)

Like a little bird. I longed to hold you, you know: that day on the tor.

MERLIN

Why didn't you?

LANCELOT

What, lay my hand on one of my mother's new-sworn priestesses?

(smiling)

You must think me a brave man indeed.

MORGAINE

But now your mother is far away - and I have already defied Avalon.

She gazes into his eyes and slowly he bends forward and they kiss.

A sigh of satisfaction runs through her, as if she is drinking a long-sought vintage.

MORGAINE

That is what you have been missing.

LANCELOT

I've been a fool.

MORGAINE

Then be a fool no longer, Lance: be a man.

LANCELOT

Here?

She looks out into the aisle between the stalls, and sees the coast is clear.

MORGAINE

Here.

And taking his hand, she leads him to an empty, straw- filled stall and shuts the door.

Lancelot looks at her for a moment - and then pulls up her gown and thrusts her down into the straw.

EXT. CAMELOT - NIGHT

The moon rises over Camelot. Push in on the window of one of the towers. Arthur is looking out into the night.

GWENHWYFAR (V.O.)

Come to bed, Art.

INT. royal CHAMBER (Camelot) - NIGHT

Gwenhwyfar is lying in bed. After a moment, Arthur turns to her and smiles. But she can't see the smile is a forced one: there is a weariness about the king as he comes toward her.

INT. STABLES (Camelot) - NIGHT

Lancelot and Morgaine roll apart and lie on their backs in the straw. Lancelot's face is bleak.

MORGAINE

It happens, Lance. Think nothing of it.

LANCELOT

No ...

Morgaine leans over him.

MORGAINE

You feel you have let yourself down, great warrior? You haven't: you are just a man like other men. Sometimes ...

LANCELOT

It wasn't that.

MORGAINE

What was it, then? Don't tell me you imagine this is a sin against God?

LANCELOT

Against God? No. Against ...

MORGAINE

(realizing)

Against her?

She pulls Lancelot into a sitting position, furious now.

MORGAINE

You couldn't make love to me because all you could think of was Gwenhwyfar? Was that it?

(slaps him across the) face)

You fool! She is your friend's wife; she is your queen. You cannot have her, Lancelot.

LANCELOT

She doesn't love him; she loves me. She will never bear a child to Arthur.

MORGAINE

Won't she, Lance? We'll see about that. And whether she loves him or not is beside the point: She is his queen. He is a good man. She will not leave him for you and I will not let you take her away from him.

(grasping him)

Do you understand me? Answer, me Lancelot.

He turns his haggard eyes toward her.

LANCELOT

Every day without her is a living death for me, Morgaine.

And she slaps him again.

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Tight on a trowel digging through turf. A hand reaches into the earth and draws out a fungus. Morgaine drops the fungus into a leather bag.

Tight on a small sickle slicing a chunk of mistletoe from a tree; the parasitic plant falls straight into Morgaine's hand.

Tight on bright red berries falling into the same hand as it skims along a hedgerow.

INT. royal CHAMBER (CAMELOT) - DAY

The water in a brass cauldron hisses and splutters as Morgaine drops her berries and spices into it. She becomes aware of someone at her door, and turns to see Gwenhwyfar.

MORGAINE

You will have your potion, Gwenhwyfar. You will have it tonight.

Gwenhwyfar rushes into the chamber and embraces her.

GWENHWYFAR

Thank you, Morgaine, I thank you with all my heart.

Morgaine looks stony-faced over Gwenhwyfar's shoulder.

GWENHWYFAR

You have done this kingdom a great service, Morgaine. May God bless you for it.

EXT. RUINED TOWER - DAY

We track in towards the top of a bleak, roofless tower somewhere out on the moors.

INT. RUINED TOWER - DAY

Merlin is in the tower, running his hands over an ancient stone covered in runes, making notes on what he is deciphering. As he does so, something distracts him, and he stares ahead, as if aware that something terrible is happening just beyond his ken.

INT. GREAT HALL (CAMELOT) - NIGHT (gallery)

An even grander feast, with even more food and wine than before. Has Arthur partaken slightly more than is good for him? He slurs his words slightly as he speaks to Morgaine.

ARTHUR

We must get you married, Morgaine, now you are no longer a priestess of Avalon. Here are all my companions, splendid fellows, all, and several of them wanting a wife. What about Bedwyr there?

Bedwyr

You married me to the Lady Alwyn last month, Sire.

ARTHUR

So I did, so I did. It slipped my mind. Well, you can't have Bedwyr, then. What about Lancelot?

A jolt of pain on Morgaine's face.

ARTHUR

No, he's your aunt's son, isn't he? Too close a relation. But a good fellow, one of the best.

Another jolt of pain for Morgaine. And also for Gwenhwyfar. She has to stop this.

GWENHWYFAR

Morgaine - I have heard much of your skill with the harp. Would you sing for us?

MORGAINE

I have no -

GWENHWYFAR

Please.

At a nod from the queen, one of the court musicians hands Morgaine his harp, and Morgaine decides to go along with the request.

Gradually, stillness comes over the court as she plays a tune so full of poignant melancholy it has several of them almost in tears.

As she plays, Gwenhwyfar takes the vial containing Morgaine's love-potion and adds it to her drink and Arthur's. To ensure he drinks it, she links her arm through his and they drink together.

Tight on Morgaine's fingers as they pluck the strings of the harp - and when we look out a the Great Hall again it is almost empty.

Morgaine looks over at Arthur, leaning against Gwenhwyfar, almost asleep, quietly puts the harp down and steals away.

GWENHWYFAR

Your sister's music has bewitched you, Arthur. Come, it is time for bed.

But Arthur has begun to snore: Gwenhwyfar's face clouds, as she sees her plans coming to nothing. She looks down the table to where Lancelot is sitting in the shadows, leaning back in his chair, a goblet in his hand.

GWENHWYFAR

Lancelot, come and help. We need to get the king up to his chamber.

Lancelot comes over, and between them they get Arthur to his feet.

ARTHUR

What happened to the music? Lovely music.

LANCELOT

Come along, Sire, we have to get you to bed.

ARTHUR

Ah, bed; lovely bed. Lovely music, lovely bed. Lovely wife. Lovely Lancelot.

And between them, Lancelot and Gwenhwyfar get him out of the great hall.

INT. royal CHAMBER (Camelot) - NIGHT (gallery)

Gwenhwyfar and Lancelot get Arthur into the room and over to the bed.

GWENHWYFAR

Take his shirt, Lance, I'll never get him undressed otherwise.

Lancelot starts to remove Arthur's shirt, but before he is halfway through, the king has fallen right onto the bed, and the garment tears in Lancelot's hands. He and Gwenhwyfar look at each other: their closeness is almost unbearable to them.

GWENHWYFAR

Cover him with -

As they pull a blanket over Arthur, his arms suddenly reach up and clasp them both. He pulls their faces down to him.

ARTHUR

Gwenhwyfar and Lancelot, two people I love most in the world. Do you love me, Lancelot and Gwen? Come, lie beside me, one on either side. Want to talk to you.

Awkwardly, they sit, one on either side. Gradually, we realize Arthur is rather less drunk than he appears to be.

ARTHUR

It's not your fault, Gwen, the child thing. You blame yourself, but I think it's me.

GWENHWYFAR

Arthur, no -

ARTHUR

Kingdom needs an heir, Gwen. Otherwise all I'm fighting for is lost. All you're fighting for, too, Lance. A son of yours, Lance, conceived in the king's bed, would be heir to my kingdom. Will you do this for me, my friend?

LANCELOT

Arthur, no: I cannot -

ARTHUR

Cannot? Say not that. I've seen how you two look at each other. I understand, believe me, I understand. Will you do this thing?

LANCELOT

It's for my - it's for my lady to say.

ARTHUR

(concentrating on Gwenhwyfar)

Listen to this, my dearest - if I am here with you, and a child should come of this, none of us need ever know for certain. And you will be able to swear, with truth, that the child was conceived in the king's bed.

Gwenhwyfar stands up, and looks from Arthur to Lancelot - and then, with a swift gesture, unties the neck of her gown so it falls from her, leaving her naked. And steps towards the bed.

INT. CATHEDRAL - DAY

Patricius is at prayer. As he finishes praying and opens his eyes, he finds himself looking straight at a grim- faced Merlin.

PATRICIUS

Ah, Merlin. What a pleasure to see you. You do not often grace the holy church with your presence.

MERLIN

You are trying to persuade the king to renounce his oath to preserve Avalon.

PATRICIUS

I, my dear Merlin? Is that what you believe?

MERLIN

The queen, under your guidance, as you very well know.

PATRICIUS

The queen has a mind of her own, Merlin, and is a good Christian. Perhaps she sees it is time to put the past behind us and turn our faces to the future.

MERLIN

If Arthur breaks his oath to preserve Avalon, he loses Avalon's support; he splits the nation - and you and I will be swept away in the tides of barbarism.

PATRICIUS

You may be; I may be. But the holy church will endure, unsullied by ancient superstition.

MERLIN

Or bereft of ancient truths. Patricius - I urge you: defend your own beliefs, yes - but do not try to sweep away every other kind of wisdom. We are all impoverished if you do.

PATRICIUS

Your time is past, old man: the future belongs to the church. There is nothing you can about it.

MERLIN

(rising )

Think you so,Patricius? Think you so?

EXT. SACRED WELL - DAY

On the clouded waters of the sacred well. They bubble and swirl, and fleeting images appear in them (the Saxon attack on the road, Lancelot and Gwenhwyfar by the fire, Morgaine's potion) but they are so brief and jumbled, they're unidentifiable.

On Viviane's troubled face as she gazes into the well.

All around her, thick morning mist. She looks at Raven on the far side of the well.

VIVIANE

I can see nothing. Scraps, mere scraps that make no sense. The sight is leaving me.

Raven shakes her head urgently.

VIVIANE

I should be training my successor, Raven. Where is she?

(shouts up at the sky)

Where is Morgaine, Mother? Where is my Morgaine ...?

The sound of a STICK TAPPING, coming closer: As both women turn, Merlin emerges through the mist, much older now, slow and wheezing, leaning heavily on the stick. Viviane helps him sit down on the stone bench around the sacred well.

MERLIN

Morgaine is at Camelot, Viviane. But as I warned you, she has turned her back on you for what you did to her, and cloaked herself from your sight. You strove too hard, there, lady, and have spun your player out of the game.

VIVIANE

Morgaine is no game-piece to me, Merlin. I love her as my own daughter. I want her as my successor. You cannot know the pain I feel at losing her.

MERLIN

Then you should not have tricked her into bearing her half- brother's child, Viviane. However desperate is Avalon's case.

He looks at the Tree of Avalon: sicklier yet.

VIVIANE

Is the child at Camelot with her? Surely Arthur cannot acknowledge -

MERLIN

Arthur knows nothing about the child, Viviane. Morgaine left her son in the far north before she returned to court.

VIVIANE

Not ... not with Morgause?

MERLIN

With Morgause. We cannot order everything according to our wishes. Thanks to you, Morgaine has given birth to one in whom the ancient magic runs strong: but she did it against her will, and she has no love for the child.

VIVIANE

But my sister is the last person who should -

MERLIN

Morgause will teach the boy the art of survival, which he will surely need. But let that unfold as it will - I have come to talk to you of another matter: a more urgent one.

(beat)

Arthur is being persuaded to renounce his oath to Avalon.

VIVIANE

What? He would never dare! Without the support of Avalon, without the tribes, his whole rule will come crumbling down.

MERLIN

Which we, of course, cannot afford, while Mordred is still a child.

VIVIANE

Nor can we afford that the High King who has sworn to us should forswear us. This pressure comes from Gwenhwyfar, does it not? That Christian. You let Patricius outmaneuver you there, did you not?

MERLIN

I did. I regret it. But the task now is not to reproach each other but to fathom how to repair the damage.

Beat. Viviane looks at the weary old man - and her gaze softens.

VIVIANE

True, Merlin. We can both err. Forgive me.

MERLIN

(taking her hand)

It is forgotten. And now: how to bring pressure of our own on Arthur.

VIVIANE

There are many under-kings who are loyal to the Goddess: could we send one of them to Camelot to talk to him, remind him of his duties to the old ways?

MERLIN

Yes. Good. Pellinore, perhaps?

VIVIANE

Pellinore, yes ... though I have heard the Christians have begun to swarm about his court. Is there someone in Wales? The Goddess is strong there ...

MERLIN

Uriens. Valoch, the elder son, leans towards the Christ -

VIVIANE

But his son Accolon is strong in the old faith, and so is Uriens. I will send word to Wales.

MERLIN

Time is of the essence, Viviane. Gwenhwyfar grows more desperate, more demanding every day.

VIVIANE

My powers may be waning, Merlin, but I can still achieve a sending. Raven, prepare the herbs.

(She draws herself up to her full height)

I must appear this night in the court of Uriens of Wales.

EXT. BATTLEMENTS (CAMELOT) - NIGHT (gallery)

Morgaine walks in the moonlight along the battlements, looking out over the quiet countryside. Suddenly she hears a sound of METAL SLIDING ON STONE, and goes to investigate.

In a dark corner, hidden by a tower, Lancelot is sitting between two crenellations. He looks around guiltily as she appears.

MORGAINE

Oh, it's you. I thought some Saxon had scaled the walls.

LANCELOT

(Dully)

No.

MORGAINE

What are you doing there? You could fall to your death -

(realizing)

This isn't because of me, is it? Hardly. Don't tell me you're killing yourself for the sake of that damned Gwenhwyfar.

LANCELOT

It was your potion.

MORGAINE

What?

LANCELOT

For Gwenhwyfar and Arthur. I was there. I helped him to his bed.

(suddenly clutching her)

I was in the bed with them both, Morgaine.

Morgaine looks at him and raises an eyebrow.

MORGAINE

So, you got your wish. You made love to the blonde with her husband's consent.

(She looks at Lance's suicidal position above the drop)

So why this?

A long beat.

LANCELOT

Because I did not just lust after Gwenhwyfar in that bed, Morgaine.

(He looks away)

As I gazed on Arthur ...

He can't finish the sentence: but he doesn't need to.

MORGAINE

So ... that's it.

(suddenly she sits down too and takes his hand)

My poor Lance.

LANCELOT

Don't laugh at me, Morgaine. I will burn in hell for this. How can I stay by his side, knowing what I know now?

MORGAINE

There is no hell, and you are a fool to believe in it. But I understand your problem.

LANCELOT

Problem!

MORGAINE

You must marry. You must marry a beautiful, virtuous wife and go with her to live in her father's kingdom, far from Arthur and Gwenhwyfar.

LANCELOT

I think I would rather die.

MORGAINE

No: you aren't to blame for loving Arthur, you aren't to blame for loving Gwenhwyfar and not me: but destroying yourself, when your land has need of you: that would be a crime. Go from here with a wife, Lancelot. Start your life anew.

LANCELOT

I care for no one but -

Morgaine closes her eyes: and conjours a vision of Elaine as Lancelot sees her.

MORGAINE

Elaine, Gwenhwyfar's lady in waiting, has long adored you. I have seen it in her eyes. Pellinore, her father, is a good man, and old. You could take the lady Elaine back to her country without shame.

Such is the force of Morgaine's will that Lancelot does indeed begin to see Elaine in his mind. And then puzzlement comes over his face.

LANCELOT

Why are you saying this, Morgaine? I thought, after ... you hated me.

MORGAINE

I love you, Lance, fool that I am. I still want you be happy. And I want my brother Arthur to be happy too. While you are in this court, lusting after Gwenhwyfar and the King, that cannot be. Marry Elaine and get you gone from here. Will you do it, Lancelot?

Lancelot looks down at the dizzying drop beneath him and lets out a long breath.

Then, with a sudden, athletic movement, he springs back onto the battlements beside Morgaine.

LANCELOT

You are a priestess of Avalon, Morgaine. I can no more disobey you than I can my mother.

INT. royal CHAMBER (Camelot) - DAY (gallery)

Elaine, waiting outside the inner chamber, calls through to the queen inside.

ELAINE

I have loved him ever since I saw him, Your Majesty. I just - never dared hope. And then the Lady Morgaine told me there was hope. And I spoke to him - and - he asked me. Oh, Your Majesty - I am the happiest woman in England.

There is a tension-filled pause - and then Gwenhwyfar bursts out of the inner chamber, her face black with fury.

GWENHWYFAR

Lancelot asked you to be his wife? Egged on by Morgaine? And you said yes. Of course you did. What could be more natural? Don't look at me like that, you simpering fool. Take that question off your face or I'll take it off for you.

Evidently Elaine doesn't change her expression fast enough, because Gwenhwyfar slaps her across the face with some force.

GWENHWYFAR

You have a husband. Very good! But do I have a child to give the King? No. That's what you'll whisper to the rest of my women: the Queen has her courses again. Get out of my sight - I never want to see you again.

And she strides past her and out of the room.

deleted

INT. great hall (Camelot) - DAY (gallery)

Arthur is in a conference with Bedwyr, Cai and several others of his companions, poring over a map, as Gwenhwyfar enters. As Arthur looks up and sees her expression, he waves his knights out of the room. The door has scarcely closed behind them when Gwenhwyfar has launched herself on him.

GWENHWYFAR

So much for the love of your friend. So much for your dear sister's potions. So much for condemning me to everlasting damnation by that beastliness in our marriage bed.

ARTHUR

Gwen, calm yourself, what is it that brings you -

GWENHWYFAR

My courses have come on me. I bear you no child, Arthur.

ARTHUR

But, my queen -

GWENHWYFAR

(hissing it)

I took poison from a witch, I slept with you and your friend and gave myself to your lust and ungodliness - and all for nothing.

(bursts into tears)

All for nothing ...

(she falls into Arthur's arms)

No baby, no baby ... where is my baby, Arthur? Where is the child I can suckle at my breast? Give him to me, High King, give him to me.

ARTHUR

There, there my love. Don't cry. You will have a child, one day, when God wills it. It is in his hands, not ours, Gwen. Don't cry.

GWENHWYFAR

God does not reward sinners.

ARTHUR

We are all sinners, my sweet. He knows that, and understands.

GWENHWYFAR

Unless it is a great sin: something too great for even God to forgive.

(beat)

Arthur: is there anything on your conscience, anything you did - before you met me, that God might be punishing us for?

The question strikes home. Tight on Arthur's face as he remembers the Great Marriage and Morgaine. But this is something he can never confess.

ARTHUR

I have always striven to be a good man, Gwenhwyfar. God knows that.

GWENHWYFAR

Then why do you fight under a pagan banner, husband?

She points to the Pendragon banner, displayed on the wall.

ARTHUR

Because I am King of a Britain in which followers of God and followers of the Goddess fight side by side against a common foe. Because I am sworn to defend the old ways as well as the new.

GWENHWYFAR

You cannot be a pagan King as well as a Christian one. You fight against pagans. You should carry the sign of the Cross, not the emblem of heathens.

ARTHUR

God and the Goddess are but different faces of the same being, Gwenhwyfar. To deny one is to deny part of ourselves, to halve our strength. The Goddess is not some Saxon horse-idol: she is the Great Mother to us all.

Gwenhwyfar removes herself from his arms and stands before him.

GWENHWYFAR

She is not the great mother to me, My Lord. She will not give me a child. And while you carry that banner God will not give me a child either. You say you are a good man: but you condemn your wife to barrenness - for the sake of an oath to painted savages.

She goes to the door.

GWENHWYFAR

I despise you, Arthur Pendragon. Neither good Christian, nor good pagan, nor good husband to me.

And she storms out, leaving Arthur gazing bleakly after her.

deleted

EXT. BATTLEMENTS (CAMELOT) - DAY

Morgaine is on the battlements, looking down into the castle courtyard, from which the sounds of revelry float up. A voice speaks quietly beside her.

ACCOLON

So Lancelot and Elaine are wed.

Morgaine turns to him, and Accolon bows.

ACCOLON

Accolon of Wales. Son of King Uriens. And like yourself, Lady Morgaine, a follower of the Goddess.

Morgaine appraises him: he's a good-looking man.

MORGAINE

I saw you at the Tournament.

ACCOLON

And I you.

(beat)

I have heard you once lived on the Isle of Mists.

MORGAINE

I trained there, as a priestess.

ACCOLON

How I long to go there.

MORGAINE

To Avalon?

ACCOLON

To learn, Morgaine. But if I cannot go there ... perhaps ... you might teach me.

Morgaine looks at him frankly.

MORGAINE

Perhaps I might.

Rack focus to a figure on one of the castle's higher towers. It is Gwenhwyfar, watching them.

deleted

INT. Igraine's CHAPEL - NIGHT

Igraine is praying alone - and the sounds of a TOURNAMENT drift into the silent chapel. She opens her eyes and looks around, puzzled. And then she begins to see, fading in and out of vision near the altar, a distorted vision of the tournament field of Camelot.

As with Igraine's other visions, the next scene will begin through her slightly distorted, and gradually revert to normal vision.

EXT. castle courtyard (Camelot) - DAY (gallery)

Mock battle and trials of combat are being held in the courtyard.

Lancelot is there with Elaine: the ceremony over, they are both wearing the marriage garland on their heads - and look surprisingly happy. Arthur claps with delight as one of the contests ends - and turns to see Uriens beside him, with his Christian son, a dark-browed young man named VALOCH, who wears a prominent cross.

URIENS

Have you thought, My Lord, of the boon I craved of you?

Gwenhwyfar, overhearing, glances questioningly at Arthur.

ARTHUR

(to Gwenhwyfar)

Uriens has long been a widower, Gwen, and wishes to marry again.

URIENS

(to Gwenhwyfar)

I would like to be allied with your house, my Lady, and I asked the King if there is a woman of your court who might be willing to become queen of North Wales.

VALOCH

You have no need of a new wife, Father. Is not the memory of my mother sacred to you?

URIENS

Your mother has been dead these seven years, Valoch. We cannot mourn forever.

As Gwenhwyfar listens a smile spreads over her face - as a stroke of genius occurs to her. She turns to Arthur.

GWENHWYFAR

Morgaine, husband.

ARTHUR

Morgaine? But - is she not too young?

GWENHWYFAR

I think she would be happy with an older man. She is no giddy young thing. What think you, King Uriens?

URIENS

The King's own sister? I would be honored, My Lord, if she would have me.

On Valoch, shocked. He knows Morgaine is a follower of the Goddess.

On Arthur, also disconcerted.

ARTHUR

Let us discuss this further, at a later time.

URIENS

I thank you, My Lord.

And he disappears into the crowd.

ARTHUR

Gwen: Morgaine - for Uriens?

GWENHWYFAR

He is a good man, of the old religion you prize so much, as she is, and an important ally. Should we not at least ask Morgaine?

ARTHUR

I think I know the answer -

But Gwenhwyfar is already beckoning Morgaine to them through the crowd.

GWENHWYFAR

Morgaine - we have had an offer of marriage for you.

ARTHUR

Well, it has been broached ...

GWENHWYFAR

How would you like to join the royal house of North Wales? There is one of the old religion there who would wish to wed you.

ARTHUR

It is desolate there, but no more than Scotland; yet I think that -

MORGAINE

I will not try to pretend I am a surprised as all that, brother.

ARTHUR

Why, he did not tell me he had spoken to you, the sly fellow.

MORGAINE

(shyly)

You may tell him I would be happy to live in North Wales.

Arthur sighs with relief.

ARTHUR

Well, I am happy for you, Morgaine. Very happy. You shall have Tintagel as your dower.

He stands up: a trumpeter, at his nod, blows a blast and the field falls silent.

ARTHUR

My friends, on this auspicious day, I have yet another note of happiness to sound. My sister, Morgaine, is to be betrothed ...

There is a stirring of interest around the courtyard Lancelot looks up keenly.

ARTHUR

To King Uriens of North Wales.



King Uriens stands up, and comes towards the royal dais.

Crash zoom on Morgaine's horrified face as she realizes she has been tricked.

Crash zoom on Accolon's as he sees the woman he loves being taken away from him by his own father.

On Gwenhwyfar, savoring the taste of triumph over a woman she has come to hate.

Morgaine opens her mouth to protest - and then stops.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

I knew then that Gwenhwyfar had taken her revenge on me: and there was nothing I could do about it. To refuse Uriens would be to humiliate a good old man - and cost Arthur the loyalty of half Wales.

She meets Accolon's eyes.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

Accolon too knew what was at stake - and though as heartsick as I - understood what I had to do.

He shakes his head; Morgaine cannot go back on Arthur's pronouncement. She composes her features, smiles, and reaches out to take Uriens' hand.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

The strange thing was, that in taking that step, I brought myself the few years of steady happiness my life was to bring me. Such is the playfulness of the gods.

EXT. SACRED WELL - DAY

Viviane is looking into the sacred well, seeing glimpses of the previous scenes, but tantalizingly brief and indecipherable. And then she sees something that startles her: the eyes of Merlin, troubled, in pain.

VIVIANE

Merlin! Where are you?

EXT. WOOD - DAY

Merlin has entered a grove of trees and collapsed, exhausted, beside one of them. He tries to rise - and sinks down again. The wind stirs the leaves around him and the branches of the trees CREAK ... as Viviane appears.

VIVIANE

Merlin!

MERLIN

Lady of the Lake! Ah, it is good to see you at the last.

VIVIANE

No: not at the last: come, I will take you to Avalon, to the house of healing.

MERLIN

I will never see Avalon again, Viviane. My time has come.

VIVIANE

Merlin! Not now - we cannot afford to lose you now -

Merlin shifts himself so he's sitting back against the tree. The creaking of the branches becomes stronger.

MERLIN

The Goddess is calling me, Viviane. I must heed her.

VIVIANE

No!

MERLIN

Arthur will turn away from Avalon, Viviane. We must find Arthur's son - and bring him to us.

VIVIANE

Mordred ...

MERLIN

We need him, Viviane. And you will find him.

The tree begins to open up - around Merlin.

MERLIN

We have fought well together, you and I, Viviane. The battle goes on. You will lead it well, I know.

VIVIANE

I cannot do it without you!

MERLIN

(sinking into the tree)

You must try, Lady, you must try. It is the will of the Goddess.

And the tree closes around him.

EXT. HIGHLAND glen - DAY

A young man on a black stallion thunders up a Scottish hillside through the heather, down the other side and along a steep, narrow glen. At the end of the glen is a waterfall, and the young man, whose name is MORDRED, dismounts from the horse, strips off his clothes and plunges into the pool at the foot of the falls.

Mordred floats in the water, revelling in the coolness after the heat, looking up at the sky. Then a wind ruffles the surface of the water - and Mordred turns his gaze idly in the direction from which it came. To the bank: where a woman is sitting on a rock, looking at him. Mordred, startled, stands up.

VIVIANE

This is a good place to talk.

MORDRED

Who are you?

VIVIANE

Your aunt.

Mordred gazes steadily at her.

VIVIANE

There's nothing wrong with your sight, Mordred. This is a sending. From Avalon.

Mordred strides unabashedly out of the water and picks up a plaid to cover himself. Then he bows.

MORDRED

Of course. Welcome to Lothian, lady.

VIVIANE

You act as if you had been expecting me.

MORDRED

I have the sight, lady. You know that.

(beat)

Which is why you have come, is it not?

VIVIANE

What, to congratulate you?

MORDRED

No: to tell me what you want me to do. You have a plan for me, I think.

VIVIANE

Who told you that? Morgause?

MORDRED

Was it not you who ensured my mother became pregnant? Was it not you who forced her to carry me to term?

Viviane does not reply at first, struck by the force of his personality. Finally:

VIVIANE

Yes, that is true.

MORDRED

And you did not go to all the trouble, I think, out of the kindness of your heart.

VIVIANE

I act out of duty, Mordred, to the cause of the Goddess. In this age, she is besieged, beleaguered. She needs a champion: someone to defend Britain against both Saxons and Christian priests.

She stands up and comes close to him.

VIVIANE

Will you be that champion?

MORDRED

You already have one. His name is Arthur.

VIVIANE

Avalon can no longer rely on Arthur: his Christian wife turns him away from the old ways. And Arthur has no heir.

MORDRED

So?

VIVIANE

You can be that heir. And if he fails in his vows before his time is come - you can cast him into the dust.

MORDRED

Why should anyone acknowledge me as Arthur's heir? Whether I cast him into the dust or no?

VIVIANE

Because you are his son.

For the first time, Mordred's smoothness is shaken.

MORDRED

His ... son?

(realizing)

But my mother is his ... sister. Half sister.

He looks at Viviane for confirmation.

VIVIANE

The blood of two lines rich in magic runs through you, Mordred. You have the power, you know it.

Mordred walks from one side of the little glen to the other, trying to absorb what he has been told.

MORDRED

His son ... Arthur's son. By his own sister.

(he catches Viviane's eye)

Yes, I have the power. I have always known that. I can bend men to my will.

VIVIANE

Then you accept the quest?

(off his uncertain) look)

I am placing the future of this land in your hands, Mordred, son of Morgaine. Will you rise to it, or skulk here in the Scottish wilderness?

Mordred meets her eye.

MORDRED

You made me, Aunt, as surely as if you had fashioned me out of clay. What do you think my answer will be?

INT. tower CHAMBER (Lot's castle) - NIGHT (gallery)

Mordred and Morgause are seated by the fire, looking at one another.

MORGAUSE

I would have told you.

MORDRED

When it suited your purposes.

MORGAUSE

Our purposes, Mordred: for what you achieve is all I care about. But oh, my sister is ruthless: breeding you out of her niece and nephew together! Looking twenty years ahead to the day when she might have a use for you!

MORDRED

Yes, Morgause, very flatteringly put. But she has given me a bloodline and a secret which I can have a use for, myself. Would you not like to see me on the high throne?

MORGAUSE

With me as High Queen Mother?

She looks into his eyes: she is clearly besotted with him. His hands close over her thigh.

MORDRED

Of course. You have been more mother to me than Morgaine ever was. I would always want you beside me.

Morgause nods, satisfied.

MORGAUSE

You must not go straight to Camelot. You must build allies first. Among the knights.

MORDRED

Allies, yes: but not among the knights.

MORGAUSE

Then who?

MORDRED

The Saxons, my dear Morgause. They are the other power in this land, and power is what I need if I am to win the throne.

MORGAUSE

You would ally yourself with the Saxons?

MORDRED

They are men, like other men. And they have swords, and axes: which I will also need.

Morgause looks at him with a combination of horror and admiration.

MORGAUSE

Nothing will stop you, will it, Mordred?

MORDRED

Why should it?

EXT. SACRED GROVE - NIGHT

Drums being beaten, men dressed in animal skins, dancing; women donning animal furs over otherwise naked bodies to join them. Blue aromatic smoke rising from a fire in the middle of a grove of trees. In the trees, a man on horseback watches thoughtfully.

It is Valoch, the Christian son of Uriens, wearing, as always, his prominent cross. He is both attracted to these sensuous scenes - and appalled by them.

When he has seen what he needs to see, he kicks the horse into motion, and pads silently off into the night.

INT. URIENS' CHAMBER (tintagel) - NIGHT

King Uriens, old and infirm, lies in his bed. Morgaine sits on the edge of the bed beside him.

URIENS

Is that the drums I hear, Morgaine? The Beltane drums?

MORGAINE

I hear nothing, My Lord.

URIENS

Father Dennis says I should cut own the sacred grove, suppress the Beltane rites. He says they lead the people into sin.

MORGAINE

Father Dennis has nothing on his mind but sin, my Lord. He certainly has precious little else in it.

URIENS

You always laugh me out of my Christian temptations, Morgaine. But the truth is - every year the followers of the Christ gain ground in this land. The old ways are dying.

MORGAINE

They are still alive here, thanks to you.

URIENS

And you, my love. You have kept this court green ever since you came. You don't regret being married to an old man?

MORGAINE

Not for a moment, my love. My years here in Wales have been the happiest and most peaceful of my life. I thank you for them.

URIENS

You keep me alive, you know.

MORGAINE

(kissing him)

For my own selfish pleasure, lord.

Uriens, contented, closes his eyes. Morgaine watches him with tenderness as he falls asleep - and then she slips out of the room.

INT. tower CHAMBER (Tintagel) - NIGHT

Morgaine comes into her room, letting out a long breath, and lets her robe fall open. Only when she has done so does she see the man sitting in the chair by her window. It is Accolon.

ACCOLON

You are as beautiful as ever, Morgaine.

MORGAINE

Accolon! I thought - your father thought - you were in the north, fighting the -

ACCOLON

Picts? Norsemen? Angles? Saxons? Jutes? Pirates? All or any of the above, for they are all descending on us now.

(holds up bandaged,) bloody arm)

I have returned to ask for your healing power, Morgaine. I am in sore need of it.

She pulls her robe about her and comes forward to examine the wound: as she does so, Accolon seizes her with his good hand and draws her down for a long, lingering kiss.

ACCOLON

I was in sore need of that, too.

MORGAINE

We should not do this, Accolon. Your father lies asleep -

ACCOLON

You were tricked into marrying my father by that bitch Gwenhwyfar, Morgaine. She robbed me of you as my lawful wife. She will not rob me of you.

And he kisses her again. Morgaine responds. The beating of the Beltane drums seems louder than ever.

ACCOLON

You keep up the old rituals against the priests?

MORGAINE

The people need them ...

ACCOLON

So do the rulers. Let us celebrate our own Beltane here.

And he rolls her onto the floor of the chamber.

INT. cathedral - DAY

Arthur and Gwenhwyfar are kneeling side by side in the otherwise empty cathedral, with Archbishop Patricius preaching to them alone. Both look distinctly older than when we last saw them.

PATRICIUS

And the Lord God said unto Abraham, lo thou art in thy ninetieth year, yet I will grant you a son, and from his loins shall spring a people as numerous as the stars in the firmament, and they shall inherit the earth.

Tight on Gwenhwyfar as she prays. Tears are trickling down her cheeks.

EXT. CAMELOT - NIGHT

It is winter. The wind howls round it. Clouds scud across the moon.

INT. GREAT HALL (CAMELOT) - NIGHT (gallery)

Arthur and his court are eating their evening meal at the Round Table. There is ceremony and pomp about it - but also an air of sadness. The ranks of the Companions are depleted.

ARTHUR

It is too quiet in here. Let us have some music.

GWENHWYFAR

The harper is sick, My Lord. Of the fever ...

ARTHUR

That damned fever. It does more damage than the Saxons. Bedwyr, come, tell us a tale of your journey to the north country.

GWENHWYFAR

Sir Bedwyr is doing penance, Arthur. The Pictish village ...?

ARTHUR

Ah, the village. That was a bad business. War does that to people, Gwen, even good men, like Bedwyr.

(sighs)

I seem to have been fighting all my life. Not a great warrior, you know, never was. But great warriors always came to me.

(smiling at the) memory)

Like Lancelot. I miss Lancelot. He never comes to court now.

Gwenhwyfar masters her pain.

GWENHWYFAR

He has Pellinore's hand to look after now, Art. He has that dragon of Pellinore's to fight.

Arthur laughs, but his laughter stops as he catches Gwenhwyfar's eye. His hand closes over hers; he strokes her gently.

As the door at the far end of the hall slams back against the wall, and the winds whirl around the hall until it is shut.

Mordred stands there, in the light of the guttering torches, as if surveying his domain. As he looks at Arthur at the high table, it is as if a line of force was passing between them.

MORDRED

Forgive me, My Lord. I came without announcement.

Mordred hurries up the hall and kneels. Arthur raises him to his feet, looking puzzled into his face.

ARTHUR

But ... who are you?

MORDRED

I am your sister's son, Sire: my mother is the lady Morgaine, and my name is Mordred.

Arthur is stunned. Gwenhwyfar, who does not, of course, know who Mordred's father is, is confused.

GWENHWYFAR

From the court of King Uriens ...

MORDRED

Morgaine bore me long before she went to North Wales, my lady. I was fostered by her sister, the lady Morgause, at the court of King Lot of Orkney.

ARTHUR

And you have never before declared yourself ...

MORDRED

I was not ready, My Lord. And I have only come now because I bear tidings of great import.

ARTHUR

Come, sit down, tell us.

MORDRED

(sitting down)

I have been among the Saxons, Sire.

(off Arthur's look)

I joined them in the guise of a Norseman. They are not over- discriminating. If you kill well, they take you to their bosoms.

Arthur is watching every muscle of his face, asking himself ... who was this boy's father?

ARTHUR

You are a good fighter, eh?

MORDRED

I don't waste any time getting the job done, Sire. But that's not what I came to talk about. I came to warn you.

ARTHUR

Of what?

MORDRED

The raids are over.

ARTHUR

Over? But if that is true, it is good news, not cause for a warning ...

MORDRED

The raids are over because the Saxons are now massed on the Jutish shore. They have allied themselves with Angles, Jutes, Norsemen - all the forces who seek to take this land. They no longer wish to ravage and plunder. They wish to control.

ARTHUR

So the raids are only stopping because ...

MORDRED

They are going to invade.

(pauses for effect)

And unless you reorganize all your forces, the barbarians will roll over this land like the waters that swallowed Atlantis, and Camelot will disappear as Atlantis did before it.

A long pause.

ARTHUR

And what would you have me do, Mordred?

MORDRED

Make me your war-duke, sire: and I will make this land like a steel trap for them.

deleted

INT. CAVE OF WINDS - DAY

Morgaine and Accolon are making love in a bed of ferns. It is gentle, relaxed lovemaking, with the light filtering green through the curtain of leaves over the mouth of the cave. The two lovers roll apart.

ACCOLON

Do you ever miss the court? All the great doings at Camelot?

MORGAINE

Sometimes. But so my life ebbs and flows; sometimes I am the center of events; sometimes I am far away, in the wilds of Scotland or here in Wales. It is as the Goddess wills.

ACCOLON

Tell me about Avalon.

MORGAINE

Again?

ACCOLON

Tell me about the orchard, and the apples that roll down across the smooth turf to the lake.

MORGAINE

Ah, the apples of Avalon. They taste like honey. It is if they have swallowed the sun all summer, and when autumn comes -

VALOCH (O.S.)

They are plucked.

Morgaine and Accolon sit up, appalled, as Valoch appears in the mouth of the cave, his face twisted in a lascivious smile.

VALOCH

My father's wife and my father's young son: doing beastliness together. I knew it all along.

ACCOLON

(lunging at him)

Beastliness? You damn Christian hypocrite -

VALOCH

The sin of Cain? You would lay hands on your own brother?

(drawing a sword)

No, you will not. You fear I will tell our father, don't you?

MORGAINE

That would be an evil act, Valoch. It would wound him to the heart.

VALOCH

Yes, it would, wouldn't it? But not as much as the evil act you and your brother have committed.

(brandishes the sword at Accolon to keep him at bay)

But I am a good Christian: I know humility, I know forgiveness. It may be I will not hurt our father by giving him this news.

He pauses, his eyes flickering between them. Neither of them give him the satisfaction of asking "if ...?" so he has to carry on.

VALOCH

Provided you do penance.

ACCOLON

Penance?

VALOCH

The sacred grove is a fountainhead of lustfulness in this land. It must be cut down.

MORGAINE

Cut down? But it has grown since time immemorial! The people draw their strength from it, it gives them -

VALOCH

It must be cut down, my Lady Morgaine, and the Beltane rites suppressed. You must tell my father to do this, or I will tell him what you have been doing with his son.

ACCOLON

(lunging again)

You evil bastard -

Morgaine grasps his arm, stops him.

VALOCH

Think well of it, both of you. And act before the moon wanes - or it will be too late.

And he disappears.

EXT. CAMELOT - DAY

A greying warhorse bearing a greying knight plods slowly along the road to Camelot. As the horse comes towards us we recognize the aging warrior: it is Lancelot. He looks up at the towers of his former home through eyes that fill - all too easily - with tears.

Suddenly four horsemen ride out of the trees, two from each side of the road. Clad in dark, sinister-looking armor, they don't look like Arthur's knights. Their leader, BAYR, takes Lancelot's bridle.

BAyr

Halt, traveller. What business have you here?

LANCELOT

'Traveller'? I am Lancelot, fellow - and my business is with My Lord the High King.

Two of the black-clad men fall back, recognizing him - but Bayr is not impressed.

BAyr

None may approach Camelot without leave of the War Duke.

LANCELOT

The War Duke? Who the devil is he?

INT. great HALL (CAMELOT) - DAY

Lancelot has been brought before Mordred, who is sitting on a little mini-throne of his own in his darkly- furnished hall within the palace. The older man peers, puzzled at the authoritative young warrior.

LANCELOT

Duke Mordred ... I do not know that name, but you seem familiar ...

MORDRED

Perhaps I remind you of my mother. The Lady Morgaine.

LANCELOT

The Lady Morgaine!

MORDRED

I believe you and she were close once. And indeed, of course, as son to the Lady of the Lake, you and I must be cousins.

Mordred comes down off his dais, smiling at Lancelot - disconcertingly.

MORDRED

Welcome to Camelot, cousin. It is good to have the greatest fighter in the land with us in our hour of need.

As they embrace, Lancelot's face is full of puzzlement at this turn of events. Mordred's eyes, despite his warm words, are as cold as agate.

EXT. WOODLAND - DAY

Valoch and his retainers are out hunting, spears in hand, beaters ahead of them, banging at the undergrowth.

HUNTSMAN

He went this way, sir. Big boar, by the look of the tracks. Might turn on you, sir.

VALOCH

All the better if he does. Give us some sport. No fun sticking them unless they give some sport.

And they push on into the trees.

INT. tower CHAMBER (tintagel) - DAY

Morgaine is spinning, her eyes fixed on the hypnotic spindle. On the fire, a bowl of water filled with herbs bubbles and steams; the steam fills the room, and Morgaine breathes it in deeply. She begins to see flashes of forest, as if she is running through it, just a foot or two off the ground.

EXT. WOODLAND - DAY

The huntsmen sees something ahead.

HUNTSMAN

There she is, sir - we got her!

VALOCH

Damned old sow!

He begins to run.

INT. tower CHAMBER (tintagel) - DAY

Tight on the spindle, revolving so fast it's almost a blur ... on Morgaine's fingers, whirling over the spinning wheel; on her face, as she breathes in the steam and her eyes dilate.

Now she is looking out through the sow's eyes, as the sow charges through the forest towards Valoch.

EXT. WOODLAND - DAY

Valoch is charging at the wild pig.

HUNTSMAN

Look out, sir - she's turning on you!

As Valoch raises his spear, his expression of triumph changes to fear - as the sow hurls herself at him like an express train. Valoch - screams.

INT. tower CHAMBER (tintagel) - NIGHT

Morgaine is lying on the floor, unconscious beside the fallen spinning wheel. The fire has gone out. The container of boiling water has tipped onto the floor, and herb-filled liquid has rushed across the ashes toward Morgaine. Suddenly the door opens and an OLD SERVING WOMAN comes into the room, not seeing her in the gloom at first.

OLD SERVING WOMAN

My Lady - terrible news! She sees Morgaine. My Lady ...

She takes in the spinning wheel and the dish of herbs; opens Morgaine's hand to see a little image of the Goddess clutched in her fingers - and begins to understand.

EXT. castle courtyard (CAMELOT) - DAY

Mordred, Lancelot and Arthur watch as soldiers in Mordred's new uniforms put up straw effigies of enemy soldiers - while others dip their arrows in a bucket of some substance we cannot see.

MORDRED

It is not just the heat, My Lord: it is the fear it generates. The Saxons are simple, brutal and superstitious. We must use that to our advantage.

He gives a signal to Bedwyr - and the soldiers fire their arrow at the effigies - which promptly burst into flame.

On Arthur, somewhat taken aback at the sheer ferocity of the display.

MORDRED

Will your Majesty come with me to the battlements? I would have you see Lancelot's cavalry at their manoeuvers.

deleted

EXT. BATTLEMENTS (CAMELOT) - DAY (gallery)

Arthur is panting slightly as he and Mordred emerge from the stairs onto the battlements. Mordred offers him a sustaining arm.

MORDRED

My spies tell me the invasion will come before the next full moon, My Lord.

ARTHUR

Good. We are ready for them.

MORDRED

Except in one respect.

ARTHUR

And that is?

Beat.

MORDRED

If you were to die in battle, My Lord.

Arthur stops short.

ARTHUR

Well you would fight on. Lancelot would fight on. All my brave companions would fight on.

MORDRED

And which of them would become High King, sire? You have no designated successor.

ARTHUR

I cannot designate a successor while my Queen might yet give me an heir.

Mordred looks steadily at him. Arthur looks away.

ARTHUR

It is her hope she clings to. I cannot rob her of that.

MORDRED

Whatever the cost to your kingdom?

Arthur stares down at the horsemen for a long moment.

ARTHUR

If I chose someone not of my own family, it will split the companions; there will be war between us, and the Saxons will prevail.

MORDRED

Then choose someone of your own family then, sire.

ARTHUR

I told you, I have no -

He stops, and meets Mordred's eyes. Mordred holds him in an unwavering stare.

MORDRED

I am your son, sire.

Arthur hesitates. Mordred grips him by his robe.

MORDRED

I am your son.

ARTHUR

How can I be certain?

MORDRED

(brutally)

Because you slept with Morgaine. You slept with your sister at your King-making on Dragon Island. You slept with her and together you conceived a child - and I am that child, come now to demand that which is my due.

A cry of despair from behind them. Both men turn to see that Gwenhwyfar has followed them onto the battlements and overheard everything Mordred said. She seizes Arthur.

GWENHWYFAR

Say it isn't so, My Lord - say it isn't so!

(to Mordred)

You lie, you evil cur. You lie to force my husband to promote you beyond your merits.

(to Arthur)

Tell him he lies, Arthur. Tell him you never - never -

She cannot bring herself to finish the sentence. She looks up into Arthur's stricken eyes - and knows the truth.

ARTHUR

It was - it was ... the Great Marriage. We did not know ... I was - the Horned One.

GWENHWYFAR

(screaming)

Noooooooo!

And she rushes from the battlements. Arthur stares after her, unable to move. As Mordred watches, impassively.

EXT. castle COURTYARD (CAMELOT)

In the courtyard, Lancelot looks up at the battlements as the SCREAM DIES AWAY.

INT. URIENS' CHAMBER (tintagel) - NIGHT

Uriens is dying. He lies in his bed, gaunt and wasted, with Accolon on one side and Morgaine on the other.

URIENS

So it will be you, Accolon, who will rule North Wales after I am gone, and not your brother.

ACCOLON

Would it were neither of us, Father; would that you could stay and ...

His voice breaks. Morgaine strokes Uriens' hand.

MORGAINE

You have lived a good life, My Lord. You have been a good husband to me, a good father to your sons, and a good King to your people. The Goddess will welcome you to her side.

URIENS

(with a mischievous grin)

Or the Archangel Gabriel, depending whether you or Father Dennis is right.

Morgaine kisses him on the forehead. He closes his eyes, breathing stertorously.

MORGAINE

Only you could make me laugh at a time like this, husband. Only you.

She looks up from him to see Father Dennis at the doorway, indicating she should come out to join him. Puzzled, she does so.

INT. tower chamber (tintagel) - NIGHT

As Morgaine re-enters the room Father Dennis steps out of the shadows.

FATHER DENNIS

You must leave this place tonight.

MORGAINE

What?

FATHER DENNIS

When Uriens dies, Accolon will become King. I cannot prevent that. But I can prevent you from becoming his Queen. You must leave before Uriens' last breath is gone.

MORGAINE

Are you mad, priest? Why should I even consider such a thing?

FATHER DENNIS

Because I know it was you who killed Valloch. And I have proof.

And he gestures towards the doorway, where the old serving woman hovers nervously.

Beat.

MORGAINE

He would never believe you.

FATHER DENNIS

Can you be certain of that? Can you be certain he would not curse you with his dying breath?

MORGAINE

You evil -

FATHER DENNIS

Can you be certain Accolon will not revile you as the murderer of his brother?

Beat. Morgaine cannot be certain of it.

FATHER DENNIS

If you go tonight, I will say that your aunt the Lady of the Lake has fallen sick and called you to her side. But if ever you return - I will speak out. Do you understand me?

MORGAINE

I understand you, priest: and I curse you.

EXT. castle COURTYARD (CAMELOT) - DAY

Very early morning: the courtyard is thick with mist. A figure emerges from the mist; it is Lancelot. His squire is waiting for him with two horses.

A hooded figure appears beside him, and with Lancelot's help gets on the horse.

Lancelot leads the two horses towards the gate and two GUARDS in Mordred's livery.

GUARD

Who goes there?

LANCELOT

The Lord Lancelot. Raise the portcullis.

The guard looks uncertain, but his colleague nudges him to look up towards the battlements.

A torch flares, illuminating the face of Mordred. He dips the torch, signalling the Guard to obey Lancelot.

GUARDS

As you say, Your Honor.

And he winds up the portcullis, we see the second rider. It is Gwenhwyfar.

Tight on Mordred's impassive face as he watches them go.

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Lancelot and Gwenhwyfar riding through bleak countryside, silent, each intent on their own thoughts.

INT. royal CHAMBER (Camelot) - DAY

The chamber is empty, the bed unslept in, all the signs of hasty packing around the room. There is a KNOCKING at the door.

ARTHUR (O.S.)

Gwen, Gwen - it's me. I have to talk to you.

There's a pause, and then the door SLAMS open and Arthur, who looks as if he has not slept, bursts in and takes in the scene. Arthur rushes to the window looking out over the countryside.

ARTHUR

Gwen ...

EXT. tintagel - SUNRISE

A rider gallops towards us away from another castle on that same fateful morning. As she stops on the crest of a rise we recognize her as Morgaine, stopping for one last look at Tintagel, over which a pale sun is rising.

As she turns away from it for the last time, we see tears running down her cheeks.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

And so I left the one place where I had known happiness: thrust out of it by my efforts to serve the Goddess. But if I thought my sacrifice on her behalf had won me back her favor, I was soon to be set right.

EXT. LAKEshore OF AVALON - DAY

Morgaine, travel-worn and weary, brings her horse down to the spot where she and Viviane dismounted so many years ago and Viviane summoned the barge. Morgaine stands on the edge of the water, closes her eyes and concentrates - but no barge appears.

Despairing, she sits down on the stones and lets the water lap at her feet.

MORGAINE

Viviane: where are you? Viviane, I need you ...

She opens her eyes to see, not the barge with its obedient rowers, but a tiny dinghy, bobbing in the water by the reeds.

EXT. LAKE of avalon - DAY (gallery)

Morgaine's dinghy glides through the water into the mists of Avalon. She stands up, takes a deep breath, and raises her hands in the hieratic gesture we have seen before. Nothing happens.

Tight on Morgaine as she realizes the power of the priestess has gone from her.

MORGAINE

So, Great Mother, you too have abandoned me. Well - let the wilds of the world swallow me up.

EXT. RUINED tower - DAY

We pan up from a ruined tower to see Lancelot and Gwenhwyfar coming slowly towards it, heads bent, weary.

Though it is not important, it's the same ruined tower in which Merlin once saw the dark future that now engulfs them.

INT. RUINED tower - NIGHT (gallery)

In a scene reminiscent of both the cave scene of Morgaine and Accolon, and the woodland scene between Lancelot and Gwenhwyfar after the Saxon attack, Gwenhwyfar lies in a pile of fresh-cut ferns while Lancelot tends a fire. He looks over at her and smiles ironically.

LANCELOT

Together at last.

Gwenhwyfar stares at him for the longest time. Then she reaches out and takes his hand.

GWENHWYFAR

I have loved you since the first second I saw you. I have loved you with all my heart and all my soul and all my body. And I denied them all because of Arthur. Arthur the good. Arthur the pure. Arthur the hope of Britain.

(sits up)

Arthur who slept with his own sister!

LANCELOT

He is not a bad man, Gwenhwyfar. It was in ritual, it was not -

GWENHWYFAR

His bastard son stalks Camelot like an evil spirit. He cannot deny him: he will become King hereafter.

LANCELOT

No -

GWENHWYFAR

Yes! He has more power in his blood than all the companions put together. And all the evil of his tribe.

LANCELOT

I am of his tribe, Gwenhwyfar. It was my mother -

GWENHWYFAR

I know, my love. But you have risen above it. You too have embraced the Christ, like me. You have turned your back on the old, dark ways. And I know why you did it.

GWENHWYFAR (CONT'D)

(embraces him)

For me.

Lancelot looks down into her face: her beauty still pierces him like a sword.

LANCELOT

For you, Gwenhwyfar, I would do anything.

And his lips meet hers. All the evils that surround them slide away as they fall slowly into the green bed of ferns, the firelight flickering on them as they fall.

INT. GREAT HALL (CAMELOT) - NIGHT (gallery)

The Great Hall is empty except for Mordred and Arthur.

MORDRED

You have no choice, My Lord. They have defied you.

ARTHUR

I love them both, Mordred. I cannot - hunt them down.

MORDRED

If you do not, Arthur, you will cease to be High King. No one in this land will follow a King who is cuckolded and mocked by his own wife and his chief companion.

ARTHUR

(desperately)

No one need know -

MORDRED

They left Camelot together, My Lord, in broad daylight. The rumor will spread across the land faster than they will.

(coming close)

The very Saxons will taunt you with it when you take the field against them. You must hunt them down.

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - NIGHT

It is pouring with rain. A hunched, hooded figure comes out of the rain; as she comes closer we recognize her as Morgaine, bedraggled, emaciated and exhausted. Her eyes closed, she is sniffing her way forward.

As we go with her, we realize what she is sniffing: meat cooking over a fire. A group of tough, bearded warriors are sitting round the fire, sheltering from the rain beneath the huge tree that rises above them.

Morgaine looks at them: it is clearly a dangerous situation, but hunger drives her on.

On one of the warriors as he looks up in alarm to see Morgaine standing before him.

MORGAINE

May I warm myself, brother?

The men have clearly been spooked by Morgaine's appearance. Their hands stray to their sword-hilts. Morgaine sizes up the situation.

MORGAINE

It would be an act of kindness to a lost traveller.

Though she speaks gently, it is clear she has not lost all her priestly power to command the mind. The men make room for her round the fire, and she sits.

One of them breaks off a chunk of meat and offers it to her.

MORGAINE

(with great dignity)

I thank you, in the name of the Goddess.

The men watch her, intently, as she eats.

INT. RUINED tower - DAY

A brief idyll of rural perfection; as the sun rises over the ruins birds flit from bush to bush, a deer grazes at some foliage, and scent rises from the clumps of wildflowers growing amidst the old stones.

Gwenhwyfar looks from all this beauty to gaze at Lancelot, still asleep beside her. She cannot resist running her finger over his forehead and down his nose, tracing the shape of his profile. Lancelot wakes: it is a moment or two before he remembers where he is. Then he smiles.

LANCELOT

I have dreamt of this so often.

GWENHWYFAR

And does it match the dream?

LANCELOT

You are the dream, my love. And now we can live together. I know where we can take ship for Gaul, cross the sea, far from ...

GWENHWYFAR

We are near the convent of Igraine, my love.

LANCELOT

Igraine! I had forgotten her. A good woman. I hope she dwells in peace there.

GWENHWYFAR

I think I must go there too, Lance.

LANCELOT

What? You can't mean -

GWENHWYFAR

Arthur will come after us. He must, or his kingship is over. We have defied him, and if we can do it, any man can do it and he is no longer King.

LANCELOT

I won't let him harm you, Gwenhwyfar, I'll -

GWENHWYFAR

Fight off the companions? Kill them one by one as they come for us? No, I would not ask that of you, Lancelot. There is a better way.

LANCELOT

But a nunnery - walled up, shut off from the outside world -

GWENHWYFAR

Preparing myself for the next one. Far from sin. Far from treachery. Far from ...

(touching his cheek)

The lusts of the body. Oh, I know I am angry with Arthur. I know I hate him because he betrayed me; but I betrayed him, in my soul, time after time, whenever I looked at you and wanted you to hold me in your arms.

LANCELOT

It was not betrayal. All those years neither of us ever -

GWENHWYFAR

We betrayed him in our hearts, you and I, Lancelot: and now we must pay.

(taking his hand)

It is time to go.

And she pulls him to his feet.

GWENHWYFAR

But kiss me, once last time, before the darkness closes over me.

deleted

INT. NUNNERY RECEIVING room - DAY

The barred gate that leads from the receiving room into the dark interior of the nunnery is swinging to. Lancelot looks after the retreating form of Gwenhwyfar with agonized eyes and makes as if to go after her. The Mother Superior gently interposes herself. As she speaks we realize she is - Igraine.

IGRAINE

Do not grieve, nephew. She will be far from the pain and temptations of the world here.

LANCELOT

How have you borne it, all these years?

IGRAINE

Borne it? Borne the peace and the beauty of the scriptures and the companionship of other good women working in harmony to know the mind of God? Easily, is the answer.

LANCELOT

Gwenhwyfar is too young ...

IGRAINE

Gwenhwyfar has had enough of the world, Lancelot. Anyone can see that.



LANCELOT

But, Igraine - Mother Igraine: I love her.

IGRAINE

And she is wife to your liege lord. There is no other place than here she can hope to save her immortal soul, Lance.

LANCELOT

What about my soul?

IGRAINE

Your soul, nephew, you must care for yourself.

There is sudden commotion outside; raised voices.

NUN (V.O.)

No! You cannot see the Mother Superior now: she is admitting a postulant. Wait quietly.

VOICE (V.O.)

There will be no order to admit postulants to unless you let me see her. Now!

The door bursts open and Morgaine enters, radiating authority and power.

IGRAINE

Morgaine! What are you doing here?

MORGAINE

I have come to warn you, Mother -

(sees Lancelot)

Lance?

LANCELOT

(Staring at her in amazement)

Gwenhwyfar has fled from Arthur. She - she decided to take the veil.

MORGAINE

Just the timing I would have expected of Gwenhwyfar.

(to Igraine)

The Saxon army has landed; they are marching inland a hundred thousand strong: this convent is in their line of march.

IGRAINE

How do you know this?

MORGAINE

From wandering around the countryside like an old beggar woman. And listening. Come along, Mother: you must pack up the nuns now, and get them off into the forest.

IGRAINE

The Good Lord will protect us ...

MORGAINE

As he's protected all the other monasteries and convents the Saxons have destroyed? By all means rely on God to protect you - but let him do it in the forest.

LANCELOT

She's right, Igraine: the Saxons will be drawn to a convent like wasps to honey.

(realizing)

I can't leave Gwenhwyfar here now!

IGRAINE

You can and must leave Gwenhwyfar: you and she have taken leave of each other once - that is enough. She will help me get the younger women out of here. Your duty is clear, Lancelot. Is it not, Morgaine?

MORGAINE

Yes, Mother, I think it is.

They both look at him. He knows exactly what they mean.

LANCELOT

How can I face him?

IGRAINE

How can you not? My son needs you, Lancelot. As never before.

(to Morgaine)

And he needs his sister, does he not, Morgaine?

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Lancelot and Morgaine are riding across country towards Camelot.

LANCELOT

Happy ... you look happy. How can you look happy when all our worst fears are about to come true? When all that Arthur and the companions strove to build is about to come crashing down?

MORGAINE

Because I'm at the center of the storm again, Lance.

(spurs her horse)

And I no longer feel my heart turn over every time I see your damn handsome profile.

(At the top of her voice)

Goddess - that feels good.

And she spurs her horse into a gallop, and races away across the turf.

EXT. VALLEY - DAY

Lancelot and Morgaine are then forced to slow to a walk as they reach the narrow valley floor. Morgaine, in the lead, glances back to see Lancelot deep in thought.

MORGAINE

Stop worrying about Gwenhwyfar, Lancelot. She and my mother will be a perfect team. The Saxons will never find those nuns in a thousand years.

LANCELOT

I wasn't thinking about Gwenhwyfar, Morgaine. I was thinking about you.

MORGAINE

Ha! Well it's too late, Lance. Didn't you hear me? I don't love you anymore!

But the words die on her lips as she looks ahead of her, and sees a line of black-clad Mordred men barring her path. As she looks behind, she realizes there are troops waiting on either side of the valley, and behind them. And from the midst of them, Mordred rides out.

MORDRED

Ah, Mother: welcome to Camelot. Morgaine takes in the situation.

MORGAINE

Mordred ...?

MORDRED

Well done ... to recognize your own son, after all the years that have passed since you abandoned him. That shows true maternal affection.

MORGAINE

Morgause provided you with plenty of that, by all accounts.

MORDRED

She did, she did: she is enjoying her just reward at Camelot even as we speak. And speaking of just rewards ...

(indicating Lancelot)

Kill him.

MORGAINE

What?

MORDRED

Arthur's own orders, my dear: Lancelot eloped with the High Queen. If Arthur does not bring him to justice, he forfeits all authority in the land.

LANCELOT

I took the Queen Gwenhwyfar to a nunnery, Duke Mordred.

MORDRED

A touching story, but unconvincing. Bayr - do it.

But as Bayr moves in for the kill - Morgaine suddenly puts herself very close to Mordred, leaning against him with a deadly knife in her hand.

MORGAINE

(softly)

I gave life to you, Mordred. I can give you death, too. Choose.



Mordred, taken by surprise, looks down at her: their eyes meet - and there is the clash of two supercharged wills.

In the midst of which Lancelot whips out his sword, slices Bayr through the chest, and gallops straight up the hillside through the soldiers on the ridge. Mordred - relaxes.

MORDRED

He deserves his reputation.

(to Morgaine)

So do you. You remind me of me.

(spurring his horse)

Let's go see the King.

And with Morgaine in their midst, they ride up out of the valley.

MORDRED

You will find, Mother, that the Christians do not have quite the influence in Camelot that they used to.

deleted

EXT. castle COURTYARD (Camelot)- SUNSET (gallery)

This is something of an understatement. The courtyard of Camelot looks like a scene from Apocalypse Now. Several bonfires burn in different parts of it; there are poles erected with primitive-looking gods on top, animals waiting to be sacrificed, and dozens of blue-painted, skin-clad tribesmen and women dancing frenetically to the sound of hypnotically beating drums.

On a balcony overlooking the scene Morgause presides over the rites, looking like some slightly overblown fertility Goddess, with a largely naked young man on either arm.

She smiles as Morgaine and Mordred come into the courtyard.

MORGAUSE

Rejoice, Morgaine: the old ways are back. The Goddess you worship rules once more!

Morgaine looks around her in horror.

MORGAINE

This is ... an abomination.

MORDRED

Isn't this what the old religion is supposed to be about, Morgaine? Celebrating our human appetites instead of condemning them? Speaking to our deepest desires instead of suppressing them. Isn't that what the Goddess wants?

MORGAINE

No, it is not. It is nothing like that.

MORDRED

Ah, well, she told me different. And who am I to ignore her?

And then as he strides through the courtyard, half-naked women writhe themselves around him to welcome him back.

INT. GREAT HALL (CAMELOT) - NIGHT (gallery)

Arthur sits at the Round Table, a wreck of his former self. Unwashed, unshaven, his hair uncombed, he suddenly looks like an old man. There are plenty of jugs full of wine for him, and he has made use of them. Morgaine comes into the room and strides down the length of it towards him.

MORGAINE

Brother, bestir yourself: I bear tidings. The Saxon host has landed and is marching on Birtoswald. The invasion has begun.

Arthur looks up at her blearily.

ARTHUR

And you think I'm fit to resist it?

MORGAINE

You are the High King, Arthur. You are Britain's one hope.

ARTHUR

I am a man who slept with his sister, who loved his sister as he loved no other woman. Who was father to his own brother. Is such a man fit to be High King of anywhere?

Morgaine sits down beside him.

MORGAINE

Fit or no, you have your duty to do. You have your land to protect.

ARTHUR

Against the pagan horse gods of the Saxons? Have you seen what's going on out there?

MORGAINE

Only that you let it.

ARTHUR

What moral authority do I have to stop it? What moral authority have you and the Lady of the Lake left me?

MORGAINE

(leaning close)

Only that moral authority you give yourself, brother. Viviane used us. She used me and she used you and she took our good, pure love for each other and twisted it to serve her ends. But we're not going to let her do it, Arthur. We're not going to let her destroy what is good in you and in me. God knows, Goddess knows, we've both sinned. But are we going to let those sins drag us down as the Christians would have it, and send us crawling on our knees asking for forgiveness? Or are we going to rise above them, in all our imperfection, and do what we were put on this earth to do.

ARTHUR

And what were we put on this earth to do, Morgaine?

MORGAINE

You were put on this earth to lead your people, Arthur. And I was put on this earth to give you the strength to do it. Cast aside all the rest. That is the truth we hold to.

And she grasps him by the shoulder and raises him to his feet. He staggers for a moment - and then looks into her eyes. And all the strength of personality in her soul flashes into his like a radiant light, and inch by inch he straightens up, and sweeps his hand through his tangled hair - and from the debris at his feet, draws out ... Excalibur.

EXT. castle COURTYARD (CAMELOT) - NIGHT (gallery)

Outside in the courtyard, a powerful wind surges around the largest bonfire - and the flame snaps out as if a candle had been snuffed.

As the tribesmen and dancers step back in alarm - Viviane appears. The drummers stop; the courtyard falls silent. Viviane looks slowly around her at the scene. Morgause calls down to her.

MORGAUSE

Welcome, sister. You see, after all, the old ways are not dead.

Beat.

VIVIANE

They are not dead, Morgause - they are defiled.

A great in-drawing of breath around the courtyard.

MORDRED

Say not that, Lady of the Lake. They are - revived. As you bade us do.

VIVIANE

Not as I bade you to, Mordred. Avalon reaches to a world beyond this one. What you are doing here is reaching down into one we have left behind.

MORDRED

Lady, do you spoil the festivities - for on the morrow these tribesmen of ours go out to do battle with the Saxons - and their blood must be up.

VIVIANE

You are no better than the Saxons, Mordred. This is savagery.

MORDRED

But the savagery of the Goddess, of the horned one: our savagery, Lady of the Lake.

VIVIANE

Your savagery, Mordred. Your bestiality. Better the pious hopes of the Christians than this.

MORGAUSE

Better you went back to Avalon, Viviane, and disappeared into the mists with it. Mordred and I are hauling this country back to the old ways by the hair; if you are too squeamish for it - begone!

Suddenly Viviane draws herself to her full height and uses her full power on Morgause, her pointing finger seeming to catch her sister in a beam of light.

VIVIANE

He could have been a great man, Morgause. He could have led us back into the light. But you corrupted him. You turned all the strength I bred in him to evil. You have betrayed the Goddess.

And as her finger points, the balcony on which Morgause and her paramours are standing crumbles away - and Morgause, with a dreadful scream, plunges to her death on the stones of the courtyard.

Mordred can scarcely believe his eyes - he runs towards the rubble and then stops: there is nothing he can do.

He kneels down and takes Morgause dead hand where it sticks out from beneath a piece of masonry. He brings it to his lips.

MORDRED

I loved her!

And seizing an axe from a henchman, he rises to his feet and swings it in a wide arc at Viviane.

MORDRED

Go back to the Goddess, Lady of the Lake.

The axe slices through Viviane's neck, sending her head flying over the courtyard and onto one of the bonfires.

A great wind rushes through the courtyard, and a great cry goes up from the assembled throng.



As Arthur appears at the head of the steps - with Excalibur in his hands.

ARTHUR

Put down the axe, Mordred, or prepare to die.

A smile spreads across Mordred's face as Arthur comes down the steps toward him.

MORDRED

Die, My Lord? You would take the life of your only begotten son?

Arthur hefts Excalibur.

ARTHUR

In a moment.

MORDRED

I give you fair warning, old man: The tribesmen follow me now. If you harm a hair of my head, they will tear you limb from limb. And the battlements are ringed with men who will shoot you down like a dog at a word from me. So, why not -

(circling)

- give Excalibur to me?

ARTHUR

Certainly.

And he swings the great sword at Mordred. Mordred parries it with his axe, and for a few terrifying seconds the courtyard rings with the sound of steel on steel - and then the sound of steel biting into flesh.

Arthur gives a cry of pain - and Excalibur clatters to the ground.

MORDRED

Ah, Father, how sad it should come to this. It is like some time-hallowed ritual, is it not? The son slaying the father to take the crown. Unless ...

ARTHUR

Unless what?

MORDRED

Unless you proclaim me your heir and we ride into battle under the banner of the Goddess.

Morgaine dives for the sword, picks it up, and places herself between Mordred and Arthur.

MORGAINE

It is no Goddess you serve, Mordred: and you will never wield Excalibur.

Using the sword to keep Mordred at bay, she helps Arthur to his feet - and they begin to back up a stone staircase leading to the battlements.

MORDRED

Hold your tongue, Mother. And put down the sword. You have not the strength to wield it.

Arthur and Morgaine continue to back up the staircase.

But as Mordred takes the first step up after them - horns sound in the distance - and one of his men hurries up.

GUARD

My Lord! The King's Companions! They are come!

Mordred looks at him, shocked.

GUARD

(sotto voce)

Unless we leave now - we are trapped.

Mordred looks up the staircase. Morgaine and Arthur have gone.

deleted

EXT. castle COURTYARD (CAMELOT) - dawn

Lancelot and the companions ride into the courtyard among the debris of the orgy, looking at each other, appalled.

And then see Morgaine and Arthur, gray-faced with exhaustion and pain, coming down the staircase.

Lancelot leaps from his horse and comes to kneel before Arthur.

LANCELOT

Forgive me, Sire. I submit myself to your justice.

Arthur looks down at him for a long moment and then (with difficulty because of his wound) raises him to his feet and clasps him to his bosom.

ARTHUR

There is nothing to forgive, Lancelot. Nothing.

And he holds Lancelot against him.

LANCELOT

(softly)

Gwenhwyfar is with Igraine; she has taken the veil.

One by one the surviving companions dismount and kneel around Arthur. He looks at them with brimming eyes.

ARTHUR

So, my friends, we are united again. For the last battle.

LANCELOT

The Saxon host will be at the River Irthing by tomorrow night. I have sent out messengers across the land: every able-bodied man in Britain is coming to face them.

ARTHUR

I have my companions. The fellowship is forged anew. It is enough.

(turns to Morgaine)

What says the Lady of the Lake? For you are Viviane's heir, are you not?

MORGAINE

It is the last battle, Arthur. The future hangs on it. May God and the Goddess go with us all.

EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

Arthur's army is marching to battle, with Arthur and the companions, and Morgaine at their head, carrying the banners of Christ and the Pendragon. The column winds over the rich green countryside, drums beating.

EXT. DOWNLAND - DAY

The Saxon host is marching to meet them: Fiercer and wilder than ever, poles dangling with scalps being carried beneath effigies of bloodthirsty horse-gods. They sing as they march: a guttural, primitive war- chant. As they march, we see some of them have severed heads at their belts.

EXT. HILL ABOVE BATTLEFIELD - DAY (gallery)

Arthur and his companions rein in their horses on a ridge. On the far ridge, across the valley of the River Irthing, they can see the Saxon host on the skyline.

ARTHUR

I think we may be a match for them, Lancelot.

LANCELOT

I think, at least, it may be an equal fight. I wish the tribes were with us, though.

ARTHUR

The tribes have gone with Mordred, into the wilds. We will fight on without them.

(to Morgaine)

Pray to the Goddess for us, Morgaine.

MORGAINE

I will, My Lord.

But she has seen something that distracts her attention.

MORGAINE

By your leave.

And leaving Arthur and the companions to their last- minute planning, she spurs her horse toward a body of troops that has just ridden up to the ridge-top. It is Accolon and the men of Wales. As Morgaine approaches, she is suddenly overcome with disquiet.

MORGAINE

Accolon ...

ACCOLON

Morgaine! What are you -

MORGAINE

It is the last battle. I must be at my brother's side.

They stare at each other.

ACCOLON

I understand now why you left. For many moons I was consumed by bitterness: and then I came to understand.

MORGAINE

And Uriens?

ACCOLON

His eyes never opened again after you left the room. He died at peace.

MORGAINE

Then it was worth it.

ACCOLON

I have missed you, Morgaine.

MORGAINE

And I you, Accolon. God and the Goddess came between us.

ACCOLON

They need come between us no more. When this battle is over ...

Morgaine looks at him with infinite compassion and sadness.

MORGAINE

Aye, Accolon: then I will embrace you again.

And she kisses him on the cheek and rides away. Pan along the ranks of waiting soldiers. The tension mounts as the moment of action approaches. We reach Arthur: he looks at Lancelot. Lancelot nods. Arthur raises Excalibur.

ARTHUR

For Britain! Today and forever!

And he leads the charge down the hill - as the Saxons charge down the other side of the valley.

EXT. BATTLEFIELD - DAY

The two sides meet in a great clash of arms. Swords clang against each other, axes whirl, arrows fly; horsemen and foot soldiers thunder into one another.

On Arthur as he hews down a great Saxon war-chief with Excalibur.

On Lancelot as he spears another, riding into him as if he was at a tournament.

We see each of the companions grappling with their enemies, some triumphing, some falling beneath their blades.

EXT. WOODLAND - DAY

Morgaine rides swiftly up a wooded valley, the sounds of the battle still audible behind her. She stops and closes her eyes, focusing all her mental energy - and, thus guided, spurs her horse up to the right.

EXT. HIDDEN VALLEY - DAY

Morgaine rides into a hidden valley and sees, as she divined, the massed ranks of the tribes. She reins in her horse and raises her arms.

MORGAINE

People of the tribes! It is I, Lady of the Lake, successor to Viviane, voice of Avalon in Britain. I command you to come to Arthur in his time of need. It is the last battle for Britain. Arthur needs you; the Goddess needs you.

There is no response. She rides up and down the ranks of the painted men, who shuffle uneasily. Finally she is in front of one taller then the rest, decked out in deerskin and several layers of blue pigment.

TRIBESMAN

If we fight for Arthur, we fight for the Christians, lady. He is a priest's man, and the priests hate us.

MORGAINE

He fights for all Britain against the Saxons, friend.

MORDRED (O.S.)

Does he, Mother?

She turns to see Mordred on the hillside above her: he is now dressed in the full panoply of his dark, sinister version of the old religion. And beside him rides a phalanx of Saxon warriors.

MORDRED

The Saxons are closer to us than the Christians, Mother. And I have grown closer still to them in the years since I left the North Country. When this battle is won, with the aid of my painted people, I will be heir to the Saxon throne.

MORGAINE

You would betray your own country for a throne?

MORDRED

Arthur's country is not my country, lady. Nor is your country mine. Did you take me into it with you? Never: you left me to my own devices. So be it. I have forged my own faith out of the wreckage of Avalon and the fierce pride of the Saxons. It is a faith that will sweep this land even as I stride across it like a colossus.

MORGAINE

Mordred, no -

MORDRED

Out of my way, woman. Your time has come and gone. A new age begins.

And he raises his arm in a signal: and the tribesmen roar their approval as he starts to lead them out of the valley.

EXT. BATTLEFIELD - DAY (gallery)

The battle is now so much bloody slogging: the initial ardor has been spent; both sides are concentrating all their energy on simply holding the field. Lancelot and Arthur are in the thick of it; both have sustained several wounds.

ARTHUR

How goes it, Lance?

LANCELOT

This is where it tells: we have fought each other to a standstill. The question is - who can stand longest?

ARTHUR

This is when I would bring in the tribes - if we had them.

LANCELOT

We will prevail without the tribes, Arthur. We will prevail because -

He looks up and sees something on the far ridge-top.

LANCELOT

The tribes! It is the tribes, Arthur - they have come.

But Arthur sees more.

ARTHUR

With Mordred leading them.

(beat)

On the Saxon side.

LANCELOT

No!

ARTHUR

So is the past rising up to swallow us all.

He spurs his horse around.

ARTHUR

We must meet them head on. Charge!

And he leads them off towards the advancing tribesmen.

EXT. STREAM BED - DAY

We are in the thick of the fighting; Saxons, Mordred's men, tribesmen. Arthur's knights, Accolon's Welshmen, Scots, Cornishmen.

Accolon throws himself at Mordred, and is struck down.

EXT. HILLSIDE - DAY

Morgaine hears Accolon's cry of pain above the din of battle - and spurs her horse down towards the maelstrom.

EXT. BATTLEFIELD - DAY

As Morgaine rides across the battlefield, it is clear that the Saxons are beginning to prevail: the entry of Mordred and the tribesmen has tipped the balance.

EXT. STREAM BED - DAY (gallery)

Morgaine holds Accolon in her arms as he breathes his last.

MORGAINE

Goodbye, my love. Goodbye.

He tries to speak, and cannot; his head lolls to one side. Morgaine looks up through tear-filled eyes to see Arthur and Mordred fighting, hand to hand. The tide of battle has rolled away from this spot, but the two are totally engrossed in one another, hacking and cutting as if nothing else mattered.

MORGAINE

No ...

She lays Accolon down and goes towards them - as a bloody hand reaches out from the piles of corpses and clutches at her. She looks down and sees - Lancelot.

LANCELOT

Morgaine ...

She kneels down beside him.

MORGAINE

Lance ... my poor Lance.

LANCELOT

It's all over, isn't it? Everything we tried to ...

MORGAINE

Not yet.

And she eases his sword out of his stiffening hand.

MORGAINE

Not yet.

She begins to walk across the slippery ground towards where Mordred and Arthur are hacking at each other - and Arthur is weakening.

MORDRED

Give up, old man: your hour has come. The world begins anew this day.

ARTHUR

Not your world, Mordred. Not your world.

MORDRED

My world.

And lets fall the fatal blow. Only to look up and see Morgaine racing toward him with the sword.

MORGAINE

No!

And as Mordred turns to her Arthur thrusts his sword up under Mordred's rib cage and into his lungs.

Mordred cries out, falls to the ground, blood pouring from his mouth.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

And so we struck down the fruit of our loins - even as he brought our world down with him.

In his death agony, Mordred reaches out for her.

MORDRED

Mother ...

She hesitates - and then takes his hand.

MORGAINE

My son ... my son ...



And Mordred dies. Morgaine looks out over the battlefield: The Saxons are pursuing the remnants of Arthur's army over the ridge-top. She turns to the dying Arthur.

MORGAINE

You held them at bay as long as you could, my love. As long as you could.

EXT. STREAM - DAY

With difficulty, getting the dying Arthur into a little boat. The sounds of battle, echoing trumpets and beating war drums still echo from the distance, but for a moment, they are alone.

EXT. DOWNSTREAM - DAY

The boat is being carried downstream by the current. Morgaine steers from the stern. Arthur lies in the thwarts, white as death, but still just breathing.

EXT. WOODED HILLSIDE - DAY

A little group of nuns are singing a hymn in a glade high on a wooded hillside. Igraine is leading the service. As she sings she notices one of the kneeling women is looking away from her, down at the river that winds through the forest. It is Gwenhwyfar. Inexorably, Igraine's gaze goes in the same direction.

Down to the river, where it winds around a bend, as a small boat, with a woman in the stern and the body of a man lying in the thwarts, slides through the forest gloom.

EXT. LAKE of Avalon - DAY (gallery)

The boat glides through the mists of the lake of Avalon. Morgaine stands up, and raises her arms: but as before, nothing happens.

ARTHUR

Are we shut out of Avalon, sister?

MORGAINE

I fear the Goddess has rejected me, Arthur. As I rejected her.

ARTHUR

Perhaps she needs an offering.

He reaches for something beneath his cloak - but it is too painful.

ARTHUR

Help me, Morgaine.

Morgaine reaches beneath him - and pulls out Excalibur. She looks at him in surprise.

ARTHUR

Give it back to the Goddess, Morgaine. It is hers now.

Morgaine stands, takes a deep breath - and throws the sword in a great arc out into the lake.

As it disappears without a sound beneath the waters, the mists part, and Avalon lies before them once more.

MORGAINE

Home. We have come home.

EXT. LAKESHORE OF AVALON - DAY

The white-robed priestesses come down to the water with a bier. They lift Arthur out of the boat and onto the bier. Then they begin to walk through the orchard towards the tor. One of the priestesses speaks confidentially to Morgaine.

PRIESTESS

No one has come through the mists for a long time. We thought ...

MORGAINE

Everything is changing? It is, my dear, it is.

She looks up towards the Tree of Avalon. It is now quite dead.

EXT. TOR - DAY

Arthur's bier has been laid on the tor amidst the circle of standing stones. Morgaine is beside him as he looks out over the mists of the lake.

ARTHUR

It is drifting away, is it not? Avalon?

MORGAINE

Yes, Arthur. It is drifting out of this world. We kept the two together as long as we could: it can no longer be done.

PRIESTESS

But what will become of the old religion, lady, without Avalon?

MORGAINE

It will be transformed into something new, my dear. It always is. The old world has passed away. The new one is beginning.

ARTHUR

So we failed. I failed.

MORGAINE

We strove, Arthur. You strove with all your heart and soul. That will echo down the annals of this land long after we are gone.

ARTHUR

Hold my hand, Morgaine.

Morgaine looks down: she is already holding his hand. The end is very near. She leans down and kisses his brow.

MORGAINE

I love you, Arthur. I always will.

Arthur smiles - and his eyes close. Morgaine's head falls on his breast, and she weeps.

mix TO:

EXT. TOR - DAY

Morgaine walks slowly, steadily across the empty tor, away from the standing stones.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

So Camelot fell, the Saxons triumphed and the barbarians spread over Britain like a seething ocean. Avalon did fade into the mists, until even the adept could see it no more. And where the sacred ring had stood atop the tor ...

Along the ridge we can see the chapel that is in the other world.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

Only the Christian church was visible. Gradually, king by king, heathen by heathen, the Christians brought the barbarians into the fold: and the Goddess was forgotten.

Morgaine walks down the hill towards the chapel. The airseems to ripple as she passes between the dimensions.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

Or so I was convinced ...

INT. Glastonbury CHAPEL - DAY (gallery)

Morgaine enters the chapel to see people at prayer: Britons, Scots, Saxons, all on their knees. They do not see her - she is insubstantial to them, like a wraith.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

For years I believed that all the sufferings I and my mother Igraine, the lady Viviane, Lancelot and Arthur himself had endured, everything we had striven for - had been in vain: a cruel contest between heedless gods.

Children come into the church bearing branches of scarlet autumn leaves and baskets of autumn fruit. It is the harvest festival.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

And then at last I realized ...

Morgaine suddenly sees a wooden statue in a little niche. Tight on her puzzled face as she recognizes it - and as a child comes up and lights a candle in front of her.

CHILD

Virgin Mary, Mother of God - pray for me ...

Morgaine smiles, realizing. Her vision as she sees that the wooden statue of the Virgin Mary is the same statue she saw in the cave when she was initiated as a priestess.

It is the Mother Goddess.

MORGAINE (V.O.)

The Goddess had survived. The truth had not shrunk, but grown. And one day, in the future, it would blaze up again anew.

And as the fruits and vegetables pile up, blazing with color, the Goddess looks benignly down on them, smiling her enigmatic smile.

FADE OUT.

THE END

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