Monday, February 9, 2009

Pendragon--A Fantasy (Part 2 of 5)

The Lady Guinevere

Anon, Fair Maidens, Lords and Common Folk, please be advised you are about to embark on a flight of purest fantasy. Unlike other posts to this blog, it cannot be read as a stand alone, but musts require you to enjoin it at its very beginning, Part One below.

Having fulfilled that obligation, then be hushed for the curtain lifts and our players take the stage.


"This can't be Camelot," groaned Barry, wiping the mud from his face and cautiously sitting up in the darkened room. "It can't be like this!"

The knights encircled him, long shadows caste by the flaming torches, they huddled miserably in massive cloaks against the damp and cold. The central table in the room was a slab of wood that appeared to be a wagon wheel tilted on its side.

"It isn't the place of a peasant to tell us what Camelot can or cannot be!" grumbled Sir Gawain from his place closest to the fire.

Merlyn continued to circle the stranger, both horrified and fascinated, his staff always at the ready. "Just how did you picture Camelot?" the old man asked.

"Well built of stone, for a start," Barry began, hesitantly. "In my time, Camalot is still remembered for its physical beauty," Barry's voice stumbled as he looked around the rough cut wooden walls and mud strewn floors of the room. He went on uncertainly, "Camelot is renowned as the embodiment of the ideals of justice, bravery and truth, the virtues Arthur and his knights champion. It's celebrated as the ideal society."

Merlyn was startled and stepped back away from him with a hiss. The knights began to roar with laughter, pounding their wooden goblets on the rough table top.

"Indeed, is this how the serious business of the country is conducted," a woman's voice cut smoothly through the air.

Barry lifted his head to see a slim girl poised in the doorway of the room, an aged hag by her side. The bottom of the girl's skirt was wet with the mud that coated the floors and her greasy blond hair was tied in a braid at her back.

"Today it is, Lady Guinevere" said Arthur calmly. "You see we have a guest."

The young woman advanced quickly into the company of men and glanced down on Barry with a look of scorn. "What this? It looks too pudgy for either work or fight yet has none of the appearance of clergy"

"He is an oddity, to be sure," agreed Arthur. "However it does entertain, of a fashion."

The woman gathered her thread worn skirts and seated herself at the table, leaning forward mischievously. "Why then minstrel, favour me with your song. I would be amused."

Stunned by her request, Barry was uncertain how to respond. To be sure he was no singer. The quiet in the room became frighteningly oppressive. In desperation Barry's wobbling tenor launched into a rough version of Camelot--

It's true! It's true! The crown has made it clear.
The climate must be perfect all the year.

A law was made a distant moon ago here:
July and August cannot be too hot.
And there's a legal limit to the snow here
In Camelot.
The winter is forbidden till December
And exits March the second on the dot.
By order, summer lingers through September
In Camelot.
Camelot! Camelot!
I know it sounds a bit bizarre,
But in Camelot, Camelot
That's how conditions are.
The rain may never fall till after sundown.
By eight, the morning fog must disappear.
In short, there's simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
In Camelot.

The young girl was momentarily speechless. The room was stilled to silence, marred only by the pounding rain and wind.

"Why knave," she stammered. "That was oddly terrible."

"I did say it entertained, after a fashion." Arthur warned. "I didn't know it sang, if singing that was."

"Cute accent though," Guinevere laughed. "Minstrel, you amuse me. How come you here to Camelot?"

Barry looked earnestly up at the taunt, young queen in her home spun ragged dress and attempted to reconcile his image of the regal Guinevere with this thin teenager. "I was at a Diana Gabaldon book signing in Toronto and she asked for a volunteer to demonstrate how the characters in her novels time-travelled to distant locations. My wife volunteered me and next thing I knew I was here."

The fire cracked in the grate. Outside the rain seemed to lessen.

"I know not what to make of gibberish." The young woman said. "Merlyn what say you of this creature?"

"I say this, Lady" Merlyn picked up his staff and suddenly swung it directly at Barry's head.