The Time Machine Strikes Again (Part 7)

8 05 2010

If we get to a part 8 (which we undoubtedly will) we’ll have to assign someone on this bus to watch out for black holes. If you head out that far into the void you are bound to fall in and never get free again.

The best thing about medieval kings is that they are forced by tradition and expectation to hold court. In the future monarchs grew wily and learned to hide behind terms like “security” and “proper behavior” and hence were exempt from actually meeting any of their subjects. The Dark Ages are gloriously primitive in that one can always find a king when a king is needed.

Our  group diminished the farther into the palace we advanced until only Richmond, myself, the flag bearer and four of what stood for men-at-arms remained. Richmond was nonplussed by this, I could tell. I told myself over and over again that the initial impression of our immense size and importance would already have reached Merlin’s ears. There was no avoiding the fact that the entire set-up made me immensely nervous.

In for a penny in for a pound as the British say.

Eventually we were faced with a red-gold door at least four times my height but no wider than “normal” double doors. Richmond sorted us without seeming to do so until we stood in martial order. Leading was the flag-bearer. Behind came Richmond and myself with the men-at-arms flanking us. A gong sounded somewhere far away and the doors swung open.

The light of the hall was blinding. The enormous room was lined on both sides by stained glass windows. Once my eyes adjusted and we advanced several paces I dimly discerned flags bearing crests that hung from the high ceiling. I also noticed that the room was apparently empty of people.

I say “empty of people” because, while flesh and blood humans were conspicuously absent, there were at least fifty marble statues lining both walls. Where the coloured light from the windows hit them they cast eerie shadows. The effect was of some kind of underwater museum. The light seemed always to be shifting in unseen currents while marble eyes followed our slow progress.

The light must have been the reason I didn’t notice the man until we were almost upon him. He sat in a blackened iron throne thickly encrusted with jewels. His posture managed to be both sardonic and threatening. There was insolence too, and for one moment I had the insane thought that this man was Merlin. But when I saw his face clearly I knew that it could only be Arthur. His expression was that particular combination of arrogance and bravado so unique to the young.

He was kingly too, but I had had enough of him even before he spoke.

“Lord Richmond.” His lip rose in a sneer. “I told you once to stay on your lands and never to set foot in Camelot on pain of death.”

Richmond nodded slightly.

“You wish to die then?”

“Your Majesty I would certainly never had dared disobey you without cause.” Richmond’s voice had grown deeper and breathier, he sounded as though he had aged ten years since we entered the hall.

“I have no wish to listen to a man little better than a slave who comes to my hall yet holds me in contempt.”

“My Lord I respect you highly.”

“And yet you bow not.”

Richmond bent a creaky knee and our attendants followed suit. I locked my knees and drew myself upward, markedly refusing to make any gesture of respect or even acknowledgment. All part of the plan.

Arthur almost spit at me. His eyes blazed and his brow shadowed them in hatred. “And who is this puling spawn who knows nothing of honor?” The question was directed at me.

“Sie sind nicht mein König.” My own lips drew back in a half snarl. We had chosen German as a language the man called Merlin would be least likely to know. At least, the one language that I knew and hoped he would not.

“What does he say?!” Arthur rose to his feet and stared at me.

“This is what I wished to speak to your Highness about.” Richmond gestured at me sadly and very slowly, playing up his age and infirmity. “He appeared on my land several days ago and began enchanting my serfs. He is far more powerful than any magician I have come across. Luckily he seems an agreeable enough fellow as long as he is supplied with wine and treated with enormous respect. He must not have liked your tone.”

That was my cue. “Ich spazierte lonely wie eine Wolke! Das schwimmt auf hoch über vales und Hügeln!” It was nothing but a bit of poetry from Wordsworth. I almost laughed at the expression of Arthur’s face as I told him of my cloud-like wanderings.

It had almost the intended effect. The plan had been for Arthur to summon Merlin.

Instead he had us locked up.

And then he summoned Merlin.

There you go! Expect the next installment early on Sunday or late on Monday. This is turning into something of a novel and I am as surprised as any of you!

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11 responses

9 05 2010
NinjaEditor

“And then he summoned Merlin.” Hahaha! Loved the flashes of humor in this installment.

The statues gave me the creeps; quite the atmospheric setting for the Pendragon to brood in …

9 05 2010
Meghan

Hooray! Part of why this turned into such a saga is I really wanted to involve Merlin somehow. Also, I like turning Arthur into a pawn. Just this once he’s a prat and I love it!
Maybe good ole Gwen needs to make an appearance….

9 05 2010
NinjaEditor

I was a bit surprised by Arthur’s portrayal, but I like how subversive it is. 😀

If I may make a (mostly) joking request: keep that ridiculous French knight far, far away from this awesomeness. Unless you have a brilliant demise planned for Lancelot, or he turns out to be an absolute dolt—in which case, bring him on!

9 05 2010
NinjaEditor

I mean, more of a dolt than he already is. Gah.

9 05 2010
Meghan

I hate Lancelot. Passionately. I have no plans for him to appear but if he insinuates himself I am not to blame. The only knight worth anything (even Arthur must not have been great if his wife was out doing heaven knows what with the greasy L) was Sir Gawain.
He won’t be showing up either. 🙂

9 05 2010
NinjaEditor

Hahaha, yes, although Gawain sure procrastinated on that whole Green Knight thing. I’m assuming those twits, Galahad and Percival, won’t be showing their faces either…

9 05 2010
Meghan

Let’s face it… they were all major twit-heads. We try and avoid twit-heads in my world.

9 05 2010
NinjaEditor

Ha! In my world as well. Hey, we should be friends! 😀

9 05 2010
Meghan

I think we already are…. Though I will have to take up BJJ and you will have to start ballet classes STAT.

11 05 2010
NinjaEditor

Well, I was considering hip-hop classes, is that okay

11 05 2010
Meghan

Oh sure. That’ll work!

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