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Excalibur

Merlin: Looking at the cake is like looking at the future, until you've tasted it what do you really know? And then, of course, it's too late.
[Arthur takes a bite]
Merlin: Too late. Plot

Uther Pendragon defeats the Duke of Cornwall with the help of Merlin and Excalibur. They make a truce and Cornwall yields to Uther, who is proclaimed king. However, Uther lusts for Cornwall's wife Igrayne and breaks the truce, laying siege to Cornwall's castle.

Merlin uses his magic so Uther can consummate his lust for Igrayne, on the condition that Uther will relinquish to Merlin whatever results from his lust. Magically disguised as Cornwall, Uther beds Igrayne. Meanwhile, the real Duke of Cornwall is killed while attacking Uther's camp.

Igrayne bears Uther a son, Arthur. Merlin takes the boy. Uther pursues but is killed in ambush in the forest. Before he dies, he thrusts Excalibur into a rock, and Merlin exclaims that "he who draws the sword from the stone, he shall be king."

Years later, Sir Ector and his sons Kay and Arthur go a tournament to win the chance to draw Excalibur from the stone. As Kay's squire, Arthur forgets Kay's sword in the tent only to discover that it has been stolen. While looking for a replacement, Arthur draws the sword from the stone and presents it to Kay. When Arthur and Kay are discovered at the stone, Kay reveals that it was Arthur who pulled the sword from the stone and thus Arthur becomes King.

Not all accept Arthur's kingship, but his victory against the rebels laying siege to the castle of Leondegrance earns him the respect and fealty of all in combat. Arthur marries Leondegrance's daughter Guenevere.

Years later, Arthur defeats the undefeated knight Lancelot by unfairly using Excalibur's power. The blade, thought to be indestructible, is broken in half. Arthur admits his wrongdoing and speaks his repentance to the unconscious Lancelot, and the blade is restored. Lancelot awakens and, thinking he has been bested, becomes Arthur's closest friend and supporter.

Arthur unifies the land, institutes the fellowship of the Round Table, and builds Camelot, his castle. His half-sister Morgana, a budding sorceress, becomes apprenticed to Merlin, and a peasant boy named Perceval becomes Lancelot's squire.

Lancelot and Guenevere feel a mutual attraction, and Lancelot stays away from Camelot. Sir Gawain openly accuses them at the round table. Lancelot must fight him to defend Guenevere's honor, but he is injured in a nightmare by a shadow of himself. When Lancelot does not arrive for the duel, Perceval is hastily knighted so he can fight for Guenevere. Lancelot arrives just in time, and Perceval does not have to fight. Lancelot manages to defeat Gawain despite his injury, and Gawain recants his accusation.

Ultimately, Lancelot and Guenevere consummate their lust, and Arthur later finds them asleep together in the forest. Meanwhile, Merlin attempts to trick Morgana and cast a spell to destroy her after she showed signs she wanted to poison Arthur's reign. Arthur is seen thrusting Excalibur toward the sleeping couple, and Merlin is momentarily impaled by the sword because of his magical link with it. Morgana takes advantage of his weakness to trap him in crystal with the Charm of Making, then tricks Arthur into making love to her, and bears a son, Mordred.

On awakening, Lancelot sees Excalibur and flees in shame and self-loathing, knowing Arthur saw him with Guenevere. Awakening alone, Guenevere realizes what has happened and surrenders herself to a nunnery.

After these horrific events, the land is stricken with famine and sickness, and a broken Arthur sends his knights on a quest for the Grail, which will heal him and the land. Years pass and many knights die on the quest, while others are bewitched by Morgana to serve her and her son.

In the end, Perceval is the only knight left to search for the Grail. Narrowly escaping death at the hands of Mordred and Morgana, he has a vision of the Grail and a mysterious figure who asks "who am I?" and "what is my secret?" After further hardship Perceval realizes that the figure is King Arthur, and his secret is that he and the land are one. Answering the riddle, he attains the Grail. Arthur drinks from it and is revitalized.

Arthur and his few remaining knights ride to war against Mordred and Morgana. The barren land blooms with life as they pass, reborn with its King. He goes to Guenevere's convent, where they are reconciled. She returns Excalibur to him, having kept it safe since the day she fled.

Most of the land's nobles have rallied to Mordred and Morgana. Arthur calls to Merlin in despair and unwittingly awakens him from his enchanted slumber when he strikes a monolith with his armored fist. Though still imprisoned in Morgana's crystal, Merlin appears to her in dream and tricks her into uttering the Charm of Making, creating a thick fog. Her magically-endowed youth dissolves and she becomes a hag. She tries to embrace Mordred, who strangles her to death in disgust.

Arthur and his small army survive by hiding in the fog, but they are soon overwhelmed. A grey-haired, bearded Lancelot joins the fray and turns the tide of the battle. Lancelot dies, but not from the wounds of battle, rather the old wound from fighting himself which has never healed. Still hoping to defeat Arthur and become king, Mordred runs Arthur through with his spear, but Arthur presses forward and pierces Mordred's enchanted armor with Excalibur, killing him.

At Arthur's behest, Perceval throws Excalibur in a pool of calm water, where it is caught by the Lady of the Lake. When Perceval returns, he sees Arthur's body on a ship, attended by three formally posed ladies clad in white, sailing into the setting sun toward the Isle of Avalon.


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