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Image for the poem The Sword of Mordred: Part VI

The Sword of Mordred: Part VI

- The Sword of Mordred: Part VI -

  At our camp in the woods, my two brothers and I began to make plans as to what we should do next, in order to locate our missing brother Gareth and track down our murderous brother Gaheris... and, we began to debate as to what the best course of action should be in respect to the fugitive Lamorak. All I knew, was that Gaheris had murdered our mother and that he needed to pay for that crime. That was at least something we could all agree upon! The fighting men who stood in support of us were growing all the more uneasy, and ere long it felt as though we were getting nowhere with any of this. “All I know is that we cannot just stand around and wait for something to happen!” I declared, adding: “Surely one of you must have some idea by now where Gaheris has gotten off to? I mean, you have been pursing him, and that for some time now... has that trail now gone so cold!” And, both Gawain and Agravain had to honestly admit to me the truth, that... as Gawain put it: “To be truthful, it has! I swear to you, Mordred, we tracked the bastard to these woods... and Lamorak as well... and, it was the first good sign we had of either of them since we first set out. Aside from that insanity about Lamorak rushing off to Camelot and attempting to seek the High King's protection. That... worked out as well as one might expect! But, it is a small matter, that, compared to how artfully they both seem to have disappeared. I am probably more frustrated than all of us... I wanted to get this whole nasty business taken care of quickly. But Gaheris... his insanity has made everything a bloodier mess than it ever should have been.” I then slammed, quite hard, my fist into the side of a nearby tree as I screamed: “I know! I know it is a bloody mess. But how can you have trailed the ones we seek into these very woods, only to lose them immediately afterward?” Agravain then explained it as best as he could, though it clearly was a point of embarrassment for him to do so. He said: “I fell off my horse, and Gawain had to save my ass! Or rather, my head, since it had happened because a tree branch struck me as we were giving chase.” I then slapped my own head as I said angrily: “Oh my gods! And what did your men at arms do, nothing? Did they have to stop as well so that you could nurse your head... oh, never mind, it is obvious they did. This is grossly incompetent, and I cannot believe I am actually hearing such nonsense. Why did I even ride all the way out here? Ah, I should have known it would not be so simple an affair to resolve as I had hoped.” All of a sudden, a great deal of commotion was about the camp as the men at arms drew their weapons and appeared to as one become altered to something which made them quite alarmed. “What is it?” yelled out Gawain to one of the men, but the man urged him to be silent and explained in a near whisper: “Hush! Listen very carefully... there is a band of men coming upon our camp. One of the young lads spotted about ten... or maybe fifteen of them. There's eight of us all told, so that means we need to be cautious here! If it's just bandits, then fine. We can handle the likes of them easily enough... but if it's fighting men of any sort of reasonable skill, then we're in for a nasty time of it.” Then, as if on cue, an indeterminate number of tall and burly fighting men stormed out of the woods. They were all poorly armed, but looked strong. All of them were lightly armored, but looked determined as they set upon us. I unsheathed my sword, the pale white blade I had named Albion... and did not bother to grab a helmet. Instead, I picked of a round and medium sized shield and held that in my left hand. Albion was in my right, and all about me there was the chaos of battle. I slashed at our enemies, and lunged when necessary... and managed with quite a bit of difficulty to kill at least two or three men. There were still a lot of them though, and I could hear the commander of our men at arms calling out: “Oh great! Drian is leading these men. He's a bloody knight of the Round Table... and a fucking traitor to be doing this. Better get ready... he's charging at us, fast!” I could see who the commander was talking about... a big, heavy set man decked out in armor that was just as heavy as he was. I had never heard of him before, though by the way that the commander acted... I realized, that he was not a foe to be taken lightly. As Drian stormed into our camp... some of his men had to move aside in order to allow him to pass. It was Agravain who met him first, and had all that he could do to parry and deflect the treacherous knight's attacks. Drian was wielding a large, heavy mace.

   I rushed to assist my brother, whilst Gawain was attempting to rally the rest of our fighting men. This was a disaster, and as many of the enemy as we were able to cut down... the danger remained so long as Drian was still leading his men. I cried out at one point: “Who the hell even is this Drian! I totally get it that he is a knight and all that... but why is he attacking us?” Gawain then called over to me... and tried to explain what he knew, of the man we faced. He told me: “Mordred, I am so sorry! I, should probably have mentioned something before... to our lads as well. But I honestly did not think he was involved in any of this. Drian... is Lamorak's brother.” I dodged a blow from Drian's mace just in time to say to my brother in reply: “Oh, Gawain! So many knights... so many brothers, everyone has! I cannot keep track of who wants to kill who anymore. Are we not all supposed to be on the same side?” to which Gawain laughed and then said loudly so that I could hear him over the sound of clashing arms all about us: “In a perfect world, perhaps! But lines keep being drawn, and friends we had of old now seem intent on our blood being spilled. Lamorak is looking out for himself now, and it looks like he's roped his brother in as well... I swear upon my honor as a knight, once we kill Drian I am going to enjoy putting an end to that coward Lamorak.” I could not argue with Gawain's logic... Lamorak was indeed a coward, and now he was having his brother fight us in his stead. I heard Agravain exclaim: “I... honestly was planning, at some point, to deal with Drian, once Lamorak was put to the sword. But, it looks like he has saved us a bit of trouble in that regard! Let's have at him together, Mordred... even the biggest pricks can be cut off with a sharp enough blade.” We both came at Drian at once... but no matter how well we fought, and no matter how we tried to press some advantage with there being two of us against him... he still managed to defeat us and drive us back from him. “I have never before seen so big of a man move so fast!” I did exclaim, which made Agravain laugh. Gawain was not laughing, however... he saw an opportunity, and he called out to Agravain and I saying: “Brothers! Listen to me... come at him again, the both of you. I have an idea... and no, I am not going so say what it is. Can't have the dumb brute overhearing our plan. And oh, aye! We have a plan.” I turned to Agravain and looked at him in a puzzled manner before thus saying: “We have a plan? Why do I not feel confident about this.” But Agravain merely chuckled as he said to me in response: “Aye, if Gawain says we have a plan... then we do! Come, Mordred... time to be about this. Let us see if we can bait this big swine like the pig he is.” Drian heard him say that and flew into a roaring rage. He bellowed: “Oh, a big swine am I! And what are the lot of you... little piglets, one and all. Who feels like roasted pig for dinner, eh men?” and somehow his attempt at humor fell flat. His men were being cut down all around him. “Oh, bloody hell!” he shouted, and had all he could do not to panic as he noticed that he was in fact losing now. My brother and I fell upon him, and I managed to so deliver a nasty gash to Drian's left leg, spraying blood from the wound. I leapt out of his mace's way, as Agravain... who had been using his sword all this time... picked up his ax, and buried it rather deep into Drian's right shoulder, cleaving his armor in the delivering of that mighty blow. He left I there and fell back to using just his sword again. Suddenly, Gawain... who had managed to sneak behind the towering enemy knight... managed to stab his sword through the back of Drian's neck, knocking his helmet off as well. I could see the point of Gawain's sword protruding from out of Drian's throat... and the wound did spray forth a great quantity of blood. Horrible gurgling noises and a whistling sound were the only sort of sounds that the dying man could make, as he toppled to the ground face forward... dying at last, in a pool of his own blood. By the time we had managed to fell Drian, his men had been slain to the last. Of all our own men whom we had with us to begin with... only the commander and three others were left. We had paid dearly for this victory, and I was afraid that the battle was not over yet. I cautioned my two brothers as we took a moment to catch our breaths: “Listen to me, both of you! They must have made a camp or something nearby prior to attacking... someplace we would not have noticed. That means, that Lamorak is probably still at that camp. I, am not suggesting we search for it after all that... but if we do not wish for another surprise attack, we should at least be vigilant. Something, does not feel right here.”

   Suddenly, Gaheris came charging out from the woods with his face pale from fright. He looked much more skinny and sickly than when last I had seen him. He also had many wounds, though none of them appeared to be serious. Behind him was Gareth, who had a spear pressed to Gaheris' back. Gareth, was fully armed and armored... and looked like he had been taking immaculate care of himself despite what haste he likely had pursued Gaheris and Lamorak with. He was clean shaven, his armor well polished... and he had a bit of a sneer on his face. He was evidently taking great pride in having caught Gaheris, as he paraded him forward into what remained of our camp. Gaheris, was naked from the waist up, and he was covered in a bit of dirt and mud, and had a bit of stubble about his face. He yelled out to us as soon as he saw us standing there: “Gareth is a rotten little weasel! Bloody prick... he caught me whilst I was stripping down to bathe in the stream. I, almost had Lamorak, too... I know exactly, where he has been making camp, and in case it matters to anyone the blasted coward had gotten his brother Drian to help him out. Let me go, and I'll lead the rest of you to them... if we wait until they fall asleep, we can take them all by surprise. There's a good company of men at arms with them.” Gawain began to laugh rather hysterically, and then walked up to Gaheris and said unto him: “We know! That, is Drian's body... lying right over there.” He pointed to Drian's corpse, and then continued speaking to Gaheris, stating: “And, we just figured out about the camp you are talking about. Well, Mordred figured out about it anyway... the point is, why should we let you live? You killed our mother, you ruined my entire plan as regarded her, you've gotten yourself a serious bounty on your head... you, actually let Lamorak go to begin with, which caused us all a great deal of inconvenience to say the least... and now, here you are acting like it was all a part of some great plan of yours, and you expect us to be happy that you know where the camp is in which the man you allowed to escape to start with is probably sleeping soundly at, and laughing in his sleep at all of us! Oh good heavens... and every corner of Hell, too... I never realized that you had so grim and ridiculous of a sense of humor. Brother! You make me sick.” Before Gaheris could say even a word in his own defense, Gawain struck him hard across his face. As was his way, Agravain kept to his own counsel. I walked over to Gaheris, and I looked him squarely in the eyes and asked him: “Is it true? Did you in fact behead our mother! What you tell me next will determine whether I kill you or not.” He then nervously stammered before saying timidly: “I... in truth, I do not remember. It was like as if some sort of evil spell was cast upon me, and my thoughts and my actions were not my own. I am telling you the truth, Mordred! I know how much you loved our mother, and I suspect you might have even sought to cover for her misdeeds if given the chance to. But I swear to you, upon my very soul and upon all the honor of our house... my mind was not my own when I acted as I did!” Agravain then did spit upon the ground at Gaheris' feet as he walked towards him menacingly. He then said to Gaheris: “Oh? Then tell me, whose mind was it! Because there are only four possibilities here... you were insane at the time. Or, you were bewitched. In which case... I must ask... by who? Or, you were possessed by an evil spirit or a demon or devil of some sort. In which case, we should kill you in order to save your soul... since I have a fairly good idea that none of us here knows how to exorcise such creatures from someone.” Suddenly, Gaheris began to have what looked like a seizure, and he started to convulse. Gareth let him go and as soon as he did, the afflicted man began to roll about on the ground like a wild animal, clawing and also clutching at himself frantically. “Oh, by Christ!” screamed Gawain. I had no words to utter as I watched the thing that happened next. Gaheris began to scream, and he pointed to a nearby tree. As he pointed to it, he screeched in a pained voice: “It was she, who bewitched me to do as I did! Morgan the Fey... and, it be accursed that she is of our family. Can you not see her there? She is watching us, even now! I'll not ever know why she would wish our mother dead... her own sister... but it was truly she who so filled me with the desire to slay her. It was she, not I myself, who was the one in control in that dreadful hour. Do you see her? There she is!” and we all looked, save for Gareth who continued to keep an eye on Gaheris in case this was some kind of a trick. There was a large black raven, sitting in the tree, on a low branch.

   The raven stared into my eyes deeply, almost hatefully, with its' own coal black eyes... and I saw that they were the very same eyes of my aunt Morgan... and, the bird then let out a loud screeching call as it swiftly thereafter flew from the tree and disappeared into the distance. I said to my brothers: “I think he may be right. There is dark witchcraft transpiring here, and believe me when I say... I know a great deal about such things.” I turned back to Gaheris and asked him: “Why did you just now attack yourself like that, and behave like a mad beast?” He then said unto me, in a visibly frightened tone of voice: “It was she, who put it into my head to do this! It was she, not I, who worked the witchcraft that filled me with the desire to harm myself and act so foolish.” I then struck him across the face, unable to stand more of his words. Then, I said unto him angrily: “First, you murder our mother! Now, you slander aunt Morgan with accusations of black witchcraft... and for a moment, you nearly had me believing you. I am starting to believe that it is you, who are the witch here. Perhaps we should put you to the test?” He stuttered as he asked, whilst visibly shaking: “T...test? What t...test is that?” I then swung my sword near to his ribs and poked it into him a bit, drawing blood. I laughed in an evil manner as I said threateningly: “Do not be afraid, brother! I will think of something.” He began to scream before I could do anything further. I could not so much as collect my thoughts before Gareth looked off into the distance nervously. He did turn to where the rest of us were, and proclaimed: “Silence, everyone! I just spotted Lamorak... the fool is finally showing himself... and he is heading right this way. Probably to see what all the fuss is about! Come, if we hide then we can surprise him when he arrives.” We did as Gareth thus suggested, hiding behind various tress at the edge of the campsite, holding our weapons at the ready. Even Gaheris, was with us in doing so! Thus was it, that after some time Sir Lamorak did enter the grounds of our camp... and seemed puzzled at the wreckage of it, and at all the slain bodies that were laying about. There was blood everywhere, and hacked limbs, and severed heads... as well as the corpse of his brother Drian. On seeing that all of Drian's men at arms had been killed, he looked about nervously as he tried to see if a single one of my brothers had been among the dead. He muttered to himself: “Gawain! I swear, that if I find you playing dead anywhere hereabouts... I will make your death a long and painful one.” But as he did not notice Gawain there, he became visibly frightened. “Damn it all! The brothers, must have made their escape... and it was the perfect trap I had set for them too.” He was not a tall man, Lamorak... if it be truthful to tell, he was actually shorter than I was. He had shoulder length dark hair which he seemed to keep neatly brushed after the style that certain squires favored, and he had a thick droopy mustache... but was otherwise clean shaven. He wore full armor and had a thick sword clutched tightly in his hands. A sword that would have been better suited for a butcher to wield, rather than a knight. “Now!” yelled out Gawain, and all of us except for Gareth fell upon Lamorak at once. “Gareth, you were the one who was convinced that Lamorak was the one who truly killed our mother! Why, do you wait behind, and so refuse to take part in bringing justice unto him?” taunted Gaheris, adding: “Is knowing that he is not the one who did that deed making it less necessary for you to aid us in slaying him?” I could imagine that it was indeed exactly that which now caused Gareth to refuse to join us as we pressed our attack. None of our remaining men at arms joined us either... it was just myself, Gawain, Gaheris, and Agravain against Sir Lamorak. He had remarkable skill, and for a whole of three or more hours he managed to keep us all from doing him even the slightest of injuries... though, we all had our fair share of cuts and more than a few minor wounds to show for it. Lamorak taunted us, proclaiming: “All throughout the lands... as I did flee hither and yon... people called me coward. They called me coward, because I ran! But I shall run no longer... I will stand and fight unto the death if needs be. Our blood feud ends today.” Gawain appeared to have an almost defeated look upon his face, but I could see just one possible way to still vanquish the enemy who stood before us with such arrogance. I called out: “Brothers! Keep this coward occupied for a bit... I have an idea.” I then proceeded to make it look as if I was running away. But, in reality... as my brothers continued to attack Lamorak, I circled around the edge of the camp behind the line of the trees.

   Believing I had actually run away, Lamorak boasted: “Ah! Such a fine idea, the young Mordred has... running away like the coward they say that I am. Very well then... it is but one less to dispatch!” And so focused was he on his fight with my brothers, that he never noticed me working my way all through the trees that surrounded the campsite... until finally, I was able to see his back, which I saw was not at all covered, since the type of breastplate he was wearing only covered his chest, leaving his back exposed. Beneath the breastplate, he wore a simple cloth tunic... this was an opportunity that I intended to not see go to waste. “The fool should have at least worn a layer of leather over his tunic! I will teach him for so having such arrogance, and thinking himself invincible.” I thought to myself, before striding forward. I did lunge forth, and as I did so I buried Albion deep into Lamorak's back. I felt it thrust into his spine... and knew that he was in that instant doomed. However, he was not dead yet! He thrashed about before dropping his sword and his shield and falling to the ground. “Ah! It is colder than ice... what devilry is this...” he screamed in agony. I pulled my sword out of his back, with all my strength, and I saw that in the place where my blade had bitten into him... his back was frostbitten and the flesh blackened. I lifted my sword up, and as I did so it let out a loud, piercing screech. By that point, Lamorak was moaning in an unimaginable amount of pain. Gawain saw that I intended to deliver the killing blow, but beat me to it as fast as he could manage to do so. He picked up a large two handed ax from one of the dead men at arms upon the ground nearby, and he lifted it high above his head, bringing it down with all his strength upon Lamorak's neck. There was a tremendous spray of blood, as Gawain beheaded Lamorak without a shred of mercy. It was probably more merciful, than if he had been dispatched with my sword... for if it be that one is slain with the white sword Albion, then that same shall find their soul devoured and sent unto the other world thereafter. Albion had drank deeply and well enough that day... she did not require one more soul to slake her unholy thirst. “There! It is done.” Gawain stated, letting go of the handle of the ax. “And with his death, the feud is resolved.” he added. Gaheris then looked about nervously as he asked: “Aye, that it is! But what about me? You'll probably all want to be killing me next, like as not.” I then walked over to Gaheris, and at my side was Agravain. I said unto he who had slain our mother: “It is time to settle all matters of justice once and for all!” Agravain disarmed Gaheris and held him, as I so made ready to strike off his head with Albion. Suddenly, Gareth came rushing up to us, his face a mask of terror as he cried out: “No! Stop, Mordred... I swear to you, that just now I did espy that raven flying about the high branches of the trees, and it was singing, with Morgan's voice rather than the screeching of a natural raven. I thought that Gaheris was lying until I witnessed this awful right for myself! Lo... if you do but give ear and listen in yonder direction... you too shall hear this thing which I heard.” I saw as he pointed, followed that direction, and listened intently. All of my brothers did likewise, and we could see the raven flying about... its' voice singing as a woman's may. The voice it sang with was indeed that of Morgan the Fey. Gawain picked up a small pebble and threw it at the bird, causing it to fly away at a great speed. After that, it did not return again. I asked Gawain: “What is the nature of the bounty which lies upon our brother's head?” to which he explained: “It does not specify death... it merely says, that if he is brought before the High King, then he shall face the punishment of exile if he be alive. Those who bring him in, shall be rewarded with the bounty for having captured him. If he is brought in dead, then it shall be a less goodly reward. Either way... Arthur would consider the matter of his crime settled, in a just manner.” I suggested as follows: “We know that somehow Morgan is behind this! We have all thus been witness to her sorcery, this day, and the dark effect it had upon Gaheris. But I doubt that my father would believe a word of it! He... would think we were all attempting to cover for Gaheris, and would in that case perhaps even suspect us as being complicit in our mother's death. It would then be exile for us all at that point. I say, therefore, that the best thing for us all would be to turn Gaheris in alive... so that he can alone face the punishment of exile. For whether bewitched at the time or not, still it was that his hands did the awful deed of taking our mother's life. We shall split the bounty as evenly as we be able.”

   We made our way from there to Camelot and there did Gaheris stand before my father Arthur. He was made to recount the details of his crime as he was able to remember them, and when he did so never did he once mention being not himself at the time. He knew what would happen if he implicated Morgan in her sister's death! And so he took the full blame himself... and was led away in chains, to spend a day or two in the High King's dungeons until the details of his exile could be worked out. The bounty was split evenly between my brothers and I, for there was enough for all of us... with plenty to spare. I thought on back, to the early days of my knighthood, and how there was one occasion when I was twenty two years old, and for a time a protege of the High King's greatest champion, Llwch Lleminawg... we traveled for a good long time together, and during our travels I looked up to him as a hero and a role model. That in truth was before I came to see that he was a deeply flawed and greatly troubled man. During our travels, we did come one day unto the residence of an old hermit who dwelt in a lonely stretch of hill country as such as oft one might find in the countrysides of the north. The hermit greeted us coldly, and said that it was his misfortune to encounter we two who were in his opinion the most unfortunate and accursed, of all of Arthur's knights. He thew in my face, the full details of my birth, revealing unto me that in fact I had been a child born of rape. He told me... that my father Arthur had gotten very drunk one night when his half sister Morgause had come to Camelot in order to visit with him. Seeing how beautiful she was, he knew an unspeakable lust for her in his heart, and nothing he did could make it go away. So he went unto Merlin and stated that since the old druid had been able to help his father Uther when he longed to lay with the lovely Igraine... their union being that which produced Arthur himself... then surely it must be possible for him to help Arthur to somehow quench the fires of his lust for Morgause. Merlin thence did remind Arthur, that it was his father's lust which had led to Uther slaying Igraine's husband Gorlois, and thereafter raping Igraine herself, who later agreed to marry him because over time she actually did manage to fall in love with Uther, despite how wicked the man actually was. Arthur was so blinded by his own lustful thoughts, that he could not see the evil in what his father had done. Merlin stated that it was one of his biggest regrets, that he helped Uther to come to power and so violently seize Igraine for himself. But Arthur would not relent! And, so... did Merlin give him a tea which held within it a certain mixture of herbs that was known to cause a woman to fall into a deep sleep if she drank of it. Arthur so gave his half sister that vile tea to drink of... and sure enough, it caused her to fall into just such a sleep. Whilst she was slumbering, Arthur did begin to have his way with her... but so vigorous was the way he took her, that it caused her to awaken. As a side effect of the mixture she had drank, she hallucinated at first that Arthur was in fact the spirit of her deceased husband, Lot... which made him take her far more violently due to how much he had hated Lot when the man had lived due to Lot's rebellion against him. Thereupon, the hallucination ceased, and Morgause realized that she was being raped by her own half brother Arhur. She begged him to stop, but he would not... and out of what he did with her that night, it did come to pass that she was pregnant. A fact that she made certain Arthur was well aware of! On the night when I was to be born, Arthur went mad from guilt and anger over what it is that he had done. So deeply did he sink into insanity, that he actually ordered that any and all children who were to be born on that night... those same were to be slain, though their mothers were to be spared. Countless children, boys and girls alike, perished that night as Arthur's soldiers carried out his bloodthirsty order. Not one of the knights he had at the time would take part in so perverse a deed! But it did not save the children. There is only one reason I survived! Aunt Morgan was in Camelot at the time, and stood witness when Arthur did issue his deadly demand to the high captains of his soldiers. Rather than attempt to dissuade the High King from his murderous course, she did go forth with all haste to meet with my mother, who she took to safety, allowing me to be born in a secret place where Arthur's soldiers could never find us. By the time I was old enough to become a knight, my father had softened his heart and regretted all that he had done, including the slaughter of those innocent children. He became a good man following that.

   But I had never known how evil he had once been in his youth, or that had things gone differently he might have actually managed to cause my death in the very hour of my birth. The hermit spared nothing when he detailed the darkness that once lay within my father's very soul, and he did declare that since I was Arthur's son... then surely the same darkness must lie within me also. He declared: “The serpent as had been conceived through Uther's lust was still not fully born, until Arthur did commit far graver sins than even his father had. But now... that serpent is our High King! And from the lust of his filthy lions, shall so come a rapacious dragon... pale white, is the flesh of that dragon, as white as is snow... though the dragon's heart is black, and the darkness of that creature shall be the doom of Arthur's kingdom.” It was my skin which was that white, so white, so pale that it was like unto either snow, or chalk in color. It was I who so was the offspring of my father's lust. I listened further, as the old hermit then declared a good deal of dark and terrible things regarding Llwch Lleminawg, foretelling much of the downfall that awaited that great knight. Once that was done, the hermit finished speaking and fell silent. I looked at my companion, but he merely shook his head. Neither of us knew what to say, nor any words that may have been proper to say when faced with such things as this. “Are you a sorcerer or a soothsayer, then?” my companion asked the hermit, but the hermit merely said: “I am neither! I, am a man who knows of things which others do not. It is you, who came to my dwelling place, if you will recall. I, did not seek either of you out, nor did I tell you that you were welcome in my home. I told you to leave! And that I had seen things regarding your past, and your future. No one forced you to stay and listen.” I felt a pure rage consuming me at that moment, and knew that there was indeed darkness with him. I did draw my sword and slay the hermit on the spot, proceeding to hack away at his body well after he was dead. My companion stopped me and cautioned: “We must never speak of the words of prophecy that the hermit uttered! Nor, of the slanderous things he said about the High King, even if those things be true. Such a thing is dangerous to know, and we also must keep such knowledge to ourselves.” I then said unto the great knight: “But what if it is true that I am destined to bring about the doom of Arthur's kingdom? I do not want such a thing to ever come to pass! In fact... I shall ensure that it does not.” I then did attack Llwch Lleminawg with tears in my eyes, trying to provoke him to fight me... hoping that he could so be driven to kill me. For in that hour, I sought death. “Come on! Fight me... kill me... do not, be a coward. You are the greatest knight of them all! You are... my friend... please, please kill me. Please!” and I was not fighting with all my heart, nor was my friend defending himself with all of his. He knew... that I did not truly wish to do him any harm... and he did not wish any harm to come to me. I threw my sword to the floor and stopped. He cast his sword away, as well, and we hugged. He was so tall, so handsome... I was like a child in his arms. I felt his strong hands caressing my hair, and I heard his voice saying to me in a soothing tone: “There there, young one! It is alright. It will be alright, I promise you. Put all those words of that old madman far from your mind. Let us be on our way... and pretend that nothing which happened here ever did. Except for this!” and he kissed me, passionately, upon my lips. I did return his kiss with equal passion, and I realized at last that I loved him. He was one of the first men I ever loved, and one of my first serious loves in that life. We never spoke of what passed between us openly, and it was ever that we kept our true feelings for each other a secret from everyone except each other. It must make you wonder what make me think of that, on that day when Gaheris was turned over to Arthur, to face the High King's justice. It was because he had to keep a secret, and was willing to face exile so that the secret might not cause things far worse to happen. Such a secret as was that prophecy which that old hermit had spoken. However, these were not the only secrets that wore at the fabric of the tapestry that was Arthur's kingdom! It seemed that all of his knights, no matter how pure, or valiant, some were... or claimed to be... had secrets of their own, some far darker than others. These were not perfect people and neither were they the romanticized ideals of chivalrous knighthood that people of think of when hearing tales of the knights of the Round Table. The truth of it... was that they were all fallible, flawed people.

   There were, following the incident of which I have just written, a great many strange and terrible sorts of events that transpired in the kingdom of King Arthur. His first wife was the noble queen Gwenhyver, who had been at his side since long before I was born. She was the daughter of Leodegrance, who was a great king who ruled over the small but powerful kingdom of Cameliard. He had trained his daughter to from birth be a great and mighty warrior... of a sort that had not been seen, since the days of the ancient tribe of the Iceni. She only agreed to marry Arthur once he himself journeyed to her father's kingdom to prove that he was a warrior equal to herself in skill at arms, courage in the face of great adversity... and of an essentially honorable nature. He was, of course, far less honorable than he portrayed himself to be but at least he was enough so to win the princess's heart. When they married, her father gifted him with the Round Table, as a part of his daughter's dowry. Leodegrance told Arthur, that the reason why it was that the table was such an important symbol for a king to possess... was that if twelve or more men and women were seated around it, they would all be equals for at a round table, rather than a square one, it was impossible for anyone to be seated at the head of it. That was what gave Arthur the idea to use the Round Table in order to restructure his personal order of knights, based around the idea of true equality among them. Thus was it that ever after that, all the knights who sat at the Round Table to meet would do so as brothers and sisters rather than as servants to the master of their order... for Arthur did not wish to be seen as a master of others, but rather as a servant to others himself. That was his ideal, though the ideal was sorely put to the test all throughout his reign when he proved himself unable to measure up to the high standards that he had set for himself. But did I not say that strange and terrible events did take place? Tragedy befall Arthur's court... when Queen Gwenhyver rode forth in the company of several of her elite warriors, in order to do battle with and hopefully vanquish the villainous king Melwas and his loyal knight Maleagant, who was striving to impress the wicked king in order to be named as his heir. The king had boasted that he would invade Camelot, defeat Arthur's finest knights, and claim his queen for himself. Thus was it that the queen decided to show Melwas that she was not a prize to be claimed, and that she was quite capable of defending her kingdom herself when the need arose. She, and all her forces, managed to vanquish pretty much the entire army that Melwas sent forth until only the evil king and Maleagant himself remained. However, it cost her all of her warriors... and so she alone was left to face the two enemies who were left on the battlefield. The battle itself, took place on a plain very close to the region that today is known as Glastonbury, and that plain I herein speak of was within the bounds of what back then was called the Summer Kingdom... which belonged to Melwas himself. She believed still that she could best them, and so she urged her horse on and rode to face the two men... brandishing her sword high above her head, with a terrible battle cry. But, in the clash that ensued, she was dragged off of her horse and did lose her sword and shield. Thereafter she was struck by Maleagant and knocked unconscious before he threw her over his lap, upon his horse, and along with his evil king did carry her away to the fortress that the two men had nearby.... from which they had planned to launch their attack upon Camelot before it was that Arthur's warrior queen thwarted their ambitions of conquest. Once the two men had her there, they took turns raping her and over the course of her time as their prisoner they managed to break her spirit so utterly, that she was said to have lost her warrior spirit entirely. They did hire a messenger to venture to Camelot in order to tell Arthur every vile detail of how his queen had so been defiled, and the shame of this was made worse when the messenger presented Arthur with not just the queen's sword and shield, but also her armor and the gown which she had been wearing beneath the armor. The gown was tattered, torn, and had stains upon it that were proof of Gwenhyver's violation at the hands of the two men. This drove Arthur into a frenzy, and I was present at Camelot upon that day. I witnessed my father swearing unholy, bloody vengeance upon Melwas and Maleagant... and, he called for every single one of his knights to ride forth with him in order to slay them and rescue his queen. All were called upon to ride forth with him, except for me. Arthur explained to me of his reasons logically.

   He said unto me: “If anything ill should befall me on this day, my knights shall surely avenge me, for even now do they clamor to avenge the honor of my wife, their queen. But you, Mordred... I actually do rather need you here at Camelot to keep things running smoothly here, whilst I am away. The way that I have heard you run things in the Golden Woods is goodly to my ears, and if you keep Camelot in just as orderly and contented a fashion... then I am certain the people would accept you as my regent. Should I in fact perish after all, then you will be expected to choose a successor and heir to the throne. That is an important duty of the royal regent, and I know that you will honor that duty well. Naturally, if I live and survive the battle to come... you will be required by law to step down as regent so that I may resume my kingly duties. Would you do all as I desire it... my son?” and it was the first time he had ever called me his son. I had tears in my eyes as I said unto him: “I will, father! I will not dishonor you.” And thus was it that Arthur and all of his knights, except for myself... did thence ride forth upon their valiant mission. I knew very little of the details of what transpired thereafter, but what I do know was so told unto me by my father and his great champion and most loyal friend Llwch Lleminawg... who himself, had not ever failed to share with me even the deepest of things, and all that was within his goodly heart. The knights had been told by the messenger where to find the fortress where the queen was being held, and he had in all sad truth been quite forthcoming with the details surrounding the battle upon that plain. For thus did the evil king Melwas wish to drive Arthur into as deep a despair as possible. Before he was put to death, the messenger had revealed everything that Arthur wished to learn from him... and, a great deal was discovered through torture. Including that the messenger himself had been granted a turn raping the queen before being sent forth to Camelot. Upon reaching the fortress, the knights did surround it... for it was not a large structure by any means, and Arthur himself ventured within its' walls in order to be able to face Melwas in person. When he did not come back out, Llwch ventured in after him. Meanwhile, it fell to the remaining knights to ensure that no enemy soldiers might try to come to the defense of that fortress, for it was uncertain if Melwas was expecting any reinforcements from allies he may have had. Also, they needed to stand guard in case either Melwas or Maleagant attempted to escape. There was a single gate in and out of the fortress, and the knights had broken it in when they first got to the place... and thus was it a waiting game for them, which they did not like at all. I was instructed to, if it be that the knights also were all slain... lead the army of Camelot in person to the fortress in order to take it in a military victory. But Arthur did not believe that any enemy reinforcements were coming, and so was he certain that all which was required was a simply rescue mission. And so, like those knights, I did wait to hear word of what transpired within the walls of that dark and terrible fortress... such as it had been described unto me later on, by Llwch, when we talked more privately of what the champion had  both seen and endured therein. He told me that he discovered that Arthur had managed to slay Melwas, but that he could not seem to find any trace of where Gwenhyver was being held. He was going room by room, chamber by chamber, and also he could not seem to discover wherein Maleagant was hiding. He was quite frustrated by this, for although the fortress was not large... still was it confusingly arranged in terms of its' chambers, mostly in order to stall anyone attempting to invade it. But Arthur had no wish to see his justice stalled... or his full vengeance, either! Llwch did help his king to search the fortress... and the two of them together at last determined that there was no one within the main halls or any of the upper ones either. That only left the cellars, and they ventured down into them, where they discovered that the entirety of the cellars had been converted into a dungeon and torture chambers. They found the queen at last... who was naked and covered in bruises, cuts, scratches, and wounds of many types. She was shackled to a table with her arms and legs spread wide, and could not stop whimpering, crying and moaning over and over again. Maleagant was upon her, having his way with her yet again, and the vile knight knew a great deal of fear when he saw that both Arthur and Arthur's greatest champion were so standing not very far behind him. He heard the clanking of their armor, and heard their voices as well.

   They called out to challenge him, and Arthur himself shouted: “Maleagant, you sick bastard! Unhand my queen and face me like a man if you are able to. I have already beheaded your king, and it is said of you that you were his champion. Thus, it would only be honorable for you to face my champion, who is present here with me. If you slay him, then know that I shall avenge him! And, both of us are here to so avenge she whom you and your master saw fit to dishonor. Whatever transpires, you will not leave this place a living man.” Being the spiteful wretch that he was, Maleagant did take a dagger from a sheath at his belt and with it he slit Gwenhyver's throat before plunging the dagger deep into her breast. He wore still his full breastplate... and did arrange his clothing decently about himself as he leapt from off of the now slain queen in order to unsheathe his sword and face Llwch in combat. This all happened so quick, that all Arthur could do was scream and begin to weep dreadfully on seeing that his wife was now dead. He rushed forward to get to her... whilst Maleagant did spring at Llwch with murderous intent. “Get the queen free of her shackles, my king! I, will deal with this filthy creature.” he swore... fighting back tears of his own. For it was said that there had been a forbidden love between Arthur's queen and his greatest champion... and so it was that it was not only Arthur who deeply did mourn her dreadful passing. But it was Llwch Lleminawg who also mourned for her. After a rather lengthy fight, with both men proving to be rather equal in terms of swordplay, and skill with arms... Llwch managed to at last slay Maleagant. It was a brutal slaying as well! After disarming him by slicing off his sword hand, Arthur's champion then did mortally wound his foe by driving his blade deep into the man's stomach through the space between his breastplate and his belt. Then, he did proceed to strip Maleagant naked in order to rob him of all his remaining dignity... as the defeated knight lay dying, but not dead yet, Llwch then did take Maleagant's own dagger, the very same one with which the evil man had killed the queen, and with it he proceeded to castrate him, removing not only the man's testicles but the shaft of his manhood as well. He then did take all of what he had just cut off, and shoved it into Maleagant's mouth, screaming in his face words of the most feral anger imaginable. He spat into the dying man's face at the last, and waited until it was apparent that Maleagant was not only choking to death, upon his own vileness... but, succumbing to so much blood loss as well... and his final words to the vanquished enemy were: “When you get to Hell, at last, pray that the devils there do not do with you... as you did with Gwenhyver... for you've now a fresh hole of your own for their monstrous cocks to fill!” Thus, did Maleagant die in a manner most befitting of one such as him. The queen's honor was avenged, but she herself was now dead... and immediately it was upon Arthur's return to Camelot, that he had her body cleaned and sent to the sisterhood of Avalon so that they could see to her burial. My father did go in person to witness that burial, and only upon his return from it did he at last relieve me of the title of royal regent. It was then that Llwch Lleminawg did speak with me privately, in order to tell me everything that had happened... for up until that moment, it was vexing to me that I was not told how exactly the queen had met her end. After that, I did depart on my way back to the Golden Woods, and when I got home to my tower there, it felt delightful to be able to hold my beloved wife Kundry in my arms once again. The little girl's smile, was to me a great boon... for it eased the sorrow I felt, over the queen's death. Though I had not known her well... losing her in so horrifying a way was a blow to all of Arthur's kingdom. A period of national mourning began, and all of the peoples over whom Arthur ruled did mourn and grieve for the death of the great warrior queen. I did spend a great deal of time with Kundry in her play rooms, and we laughed together and knew every sort of love in each other's arms. I told her how for a brief time my father had named me the royal regent, to which her eyes widened and she said in the sweetest tone of voice imaginable: “Oh wow! He really did give you such a big responsibility like that? That is amazing, my honey mead... simply amazing!” I had already told her, how things fared with my brothers and I, and naturally I made her aware of the queen's passing, though I spared her the details of it, which even I did not wish to dwell upon any further. Even in the midst of the country's greatest time of sorrow... I was able to find delight in Kundry's love for me.
Written by Kou_Indigo (Kara L. Pythiana-Ashton)
All writing remains the property of the author. Don't use it for any purpose without their permission.
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