A Genius in King Arthur's Court - Ch. 8

A Genius in King Arthur's Court - Ch. 8

A Genius in King Arthur’s Court

 

Ch. 8 – Unbreakable Bonds and Forbidden Passions

 

Robin sat at his desk, reviewing the week’s reports from his lieutenants.  All seemed to be under control, though there was still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the unexpected death of his brother and niece last week.  As he continued to read, a knock came at his door.

“Come.”

“Father,” said Geoffrey.  “I would speak with you.”

“Ah, what is it, my son?” Robin replied, looking up from his work.

“I shall come straight to the point.  There is a man I know who wishes to meet with you.”

“I see.  And what business has he with me?”

“I know not for certain.  He only says he has a proposition for you.”

“Proposition?” Robin asked, rubbing his fingers through beard.  “Pray tell, who is this man?”

“I met him in the tavern last evening.  We talked for hours on end of our homelands and families.  He seems a good, honorable fellow.  He said his name is Lord Mordred, and hails from the lands east of here.”

“Hmm… very well, I will meet with him.  Is he here now?”

“Yes, Father.”

“Send him in, alone if you would.”

“Of course.”

A few moments after his son exited, a tall man entered, a tiny smile on his face.  His black hair was well groomed and flowed down past his shoulders, and his chin had about two days worth of stubble growing from it.  He stood next to the chair in front of Robin’s desk and introduced himself.

“Robin, Duke of Saxon, it is a true pleasure to make your acquaintance.  I am Lord Mordred.”

“Well met.  Please, take a seat.”

“My thanks.”

“My son tells me you have a proposition of some sort to discuss with me?”

“Indeed.  Let me begin by saying that I am aware of your… disagreements with your neighbor, Camelot.  In particular, I know that you and King Arthur have never seen eye-to-eye on many things.”

“Be that as it may, how is this any of your concern?” Robin asked, feigning ignorance for the time being.  He stood, strolling about his office.  “Oh, pay me no mind.  I pace quite often; it aids in my thinking.  Please continue.”

“Of course.  It is my concern because I too am at odds with Camelot.  So much so that I have had no choice but to go to war with King Arthur.”

“Really?  First I have heard of it,” Robin said, walking behind Mordred’s chair.

“Indeed.  Make no mistake; fighting against Arthur’s tyranny is a costly endeavor, both in finances and in manpower.  A recent battle has cost me dearly, and I need reinforcements.  As we are united in our dreams of a world without King Arthur, my hope is that you would agree to aid me.”

“Hmm… but then, what reason would I have to aid the man who ordered my brother’s death!?” Robin shouted, pulling a dagger and placing it against Mordred’s throat from behind.

“I assure you, my intentions are pure and noble.  I am not your enemy,” Mordred replied, not flinching a bit.

“Admit it!  You murdered my brother!”

“I did.  But why is this so upsetting to you?”

“Are you mad?  He was FAMILY!!!”

“Ah, but did his death not make you the sole owner of all the lands of Saxon?” Mordred asked with a grin.  “I know everything, Robin.  You are the eldest of two sons, yet your father loved you both equally.  He gave you both equal ownership of these lands… until I simplified the problem for you.”

“Do not think that the things I gain in Byron’s passing are worth his death.”

“But my friend, was your brother not seeking to align his men with Camelot, and marry his daughter off to one of Arthur’s men?”

“My brother and I may have disagreed in regards to Camelot, but I blame him not for wishing to ensure dear Madeleine’s future security.  God rest their souls…”

“Perhaps, but I notice that you still have not avenged your brother’s death,” Mordred chuckled.

“Oh?  Allow me to rectify that!”

“Release him, or you will die,” came an unfamiliar voice.

Robin turned his head, keeping his dagger on Mordred, and saw a beautiful middle-aged woman with pale skin and long, raven hair.

“And who might you be?” Robin inquired.

“She is my mother,” Mordred said, “and unless you obey her instructions, you will die before you can even grip the dagger tightly enough to slit my throat.  She is, after all, a Fey.”

“A Fey?  You… you are a sorceress?”

“One of the most powerful in existence.  Now, release my son.”

Thinking for a moment, Robin eventually stepped back from Mordred’s chair.

“Thank you,” Mordred said, standing to face the man.

“What is it you want?” Robin demanded.

“Your army.  Give me command of your forces, and I will at last be strong enough to end the reign of Arthur,” Mordred said.

“And if I refuse?”

“Then I shall kill you and level all of Saxon,” Morgan replied.  “Every last man, woman, and child in your lands will die a slow, agonizing death by fire.  When I finish, the lands will be so scorched that they shall never bear crops again!”

“You will do no such thing!  Arthur would send his forces after you!  Merlin himself would come to end you!” Robin protested.

“Circumstances have changed,” Morgan replied.  “And besides, I have no fear of Merlin.  He is old and weak.”

“You evil witch… and just how did you manage to fool my son into thinking you were honorable, Lord Mordred?” Byron asked.

“Come now, we both know how gullible your son is,” Mordred laughed.

“Yes… I should have raised him better.”  Robin took a few steps forward, standing in Mordred’s face.  “You will swear that my people will come to no harm by your hand or orders, regardless of the outcome of your war with Camelot.  Agreed?”

“But of course!  I have more important matters to deal with.  None of this is personal, Robin; it is simply the price of going to war.”

With a final sigh, Robin stuck out his hand.  “We have a deal…”

“Done!” Mordred replied, shaking Robin’s hand with a smile.  “I shall be at the Boar’s Tail Tavern; find me there when your men are ready.  Until next time.”

Robin made no sound or expression as the pair left his office.  Once they were alone in the hallway, Mordred turned to his mother.

“How long have we?”

“Not long.  Your sentries have spied men tracking us; they suspect they are from Camelot.”

“Were they able to catch them?”

“No,” Morgan replied.  “They must be the best scouts Camelot has to offer, as they disappeared without a trace.”

“How long ago was this?”

“Yesterday morning.”

“Damn… assuming they reported straight to Camelot, we have four days to prepare, at the very most.  Very well, ready the rest of my men.  I shall ensure Robin’s men are up to snuff.”

*****

“David… when I return home with you, will you wish me to meet your family?”

Dave shook himself more awake, still enjoying the afterglow of his most recent romp around the sheets with Madeleine.

“Of course I will.  My family such a big part of my life, and they will want to meet my first serious girlfriend.”

“Wonderful!  But… would they disapprove of me?” Madeleine asked.

“I doubt it.  Of course, we would have to craft a believable background story for you; I have no intention of telling them that my intended hails from tenth century England!  But when they see how happy we make each other, you will be welcomed as a member of the family.”

“That sounds delightful.  It will be a blessing to have a family once more…” Madeleine said wistfully.

“My parents are Jonathan and Sara.  I know for a fact you will like them.  While I have lived in a large city for the last several years, they have lived in a small farming community for the last three decades.  Mom is a teacher in the local school and Dad is an agricultural economist, specializing in dairy.”

“I see.  I understand ‘teacher’ of course, but not the rest of it,” Madeleine said with a giggle.

“Basically, Dad works as a financial advisor for many of the local farmers, particularly dairy farmers.  Dairy is a modern term for cow milk and everything made from it.  I could not explain any further than that, though; agriculture was never my strong suit.  Probably why I go to a technology-focused school.”

“You are a man of the future, your father is a man of the present.  Both sorts of men are needed to make a strong kingdom,” Madeleine surmised.  “Are you the only son of Jonathan and Sara Brighton?”

“I am the only son, but I do have a sister, Cindy.  She is a few years younger than me, and just began her studies my school, Georgia Tech.”

“Is she beautiful?”

“She has never had difficulty capturing the attention of the boys around her,” Dave replied with a grin.  “Still, she is almost as smart as I am, and quite ambitious, so her outer beauty can often fool people.  I imagine she will like you once she gets to know you; Cindy always said she wanted a sister growing up.”

Just then, they were startled by a knock at the door.

“Shit… Madeleine, hide in the closet.  Here, take your dress.”

As she hid herself, Dave quickly materialized his clothes back onto his body and straightened his hair before opening the door.

“Good evening, David.”

“Merlin, how are you?  Please, come in.”

“I am well.  I apologize for the lateness of my visit.  I do hope I did not… interrupt your time with Madeleine,” he said with a grin.

“Oh!  No, nothing like that.  She is here, though.  Are you alone?”

“I am.  Arthur is quite busy with his preparations, so he will not be joining us.”

“Good.”  Dave then knocked on the closet door.  “Madeleine, you may come out once you are decent.  It is only Merlin.”

The two men took a seat at the small table in the corner.  They pulled over a third chair for Madeleine, who soon emerged from the closet clad in her hunter green dress.

“What brings you here so late?” Dave asked.

“Our scouts have just returned.  Mordred’s forces are massing in Saxon, about two days away from here.  As I will be departing with Arthur’s army in the morning, I wanted one last chance to commune with my pupil.”

“Thank you.  I feel like I have grown by leaps and bounds over the last three days, thanks in large part to your tutelage,” Dave replied.

“You are too kind, but I merely provided guidance.  You are the one who actually accomplished these feats.  To think you have already mastered the invisibility and intangibility spells!  Simply incredible!”

“It was easy once you gave your example of how you do it.  They are in essence the same spell.  In the invisibility spell, I make my body intangible to light only, while in the intangibility spell, I make my body intangible to everything except light.  Once you explained that, the rest was easy.”

“It amazes me how similar the two of you are,” Madeleine said.  “Were Merlin a younger man, it would be difficult for me to prefer one over the other.”

“Ouch, not sure how I feel about that,” Dave said, pretending to be hurt.

“Rest assured, I have no intention of stealing away your love, David,” Merlin laughed.  “Ah, I shall miss these pleasant moments while I am away.  War is an ugly thing, even when necessary.  There is no time for such simple pleasures.”

“Why must it come to war?” Madeleine wondered.  “Is there no other way?  Why can Arthur and Mordred not come to an agreement without bloodshed?”

“On the surface, it seems simple,” Merlin replied.  “Mordred is Arthur’s son, yet Arthur will not grant him the throne of Camelot, for he knows of Mordred’s blackened heart.  But the reason that they could not come to an agreement outside of war goes much deeper.  Mordred thinks Arthur a hypocrite.  Mordred’s heart is so blackened, so twisted, that he cannot believe truly decent and honorable men exist.  In his mind, every decent man is simply good at hiding his true nature.  Mordred would rather embrace what he knows himself to be than become the hypocrite he sees Arthur as.”

“But Arthur actually is as decent and honorable as he portrays himself?” Dave asked.

“He has his flaws, as do we all, but yes, he is.  Even in his mistakes, Arthur works for what is right and just for all Camelot, not merely himself,” Merlin replied.  “I have known him since his childhood, and he has grown into one of the most splendid men the world shall ever know.  As a boy, he thought of nothing but fighting and questing, the things he saw as knightly.  But as he grew, he came to understand what would become his core philosophy: right makes right.  It is what he lives by, even to this day.”

“Such men shall always win the day,” Madeleine said with a smile.

Dave grimaced in silence at this, knowing the outcome of the war.  Merlin caught his eye and nodded a bit, showing the same understanding.

Seeking to change the subject, Dave asked, “Merlin, is there any way we can continue to communicate while you are away?  It would make things much simpler, after all.”

“An excellent thought, David.  Alas, the only way to accomplish this is with a bit of rare and powerful sorcery known as the mind merge.”

Mind merge?!  What is this, Star Trek?

“Er, how exactly is this mind merge performed?” Dave asked.

“In essence, this technique is one that allows a sorcerer to impart the knowledge of some of his past experiences upon another.  Normally, it is done with great specificity, imparting only a particular event that the sorcerer wishes to convey to the target of the spell.  However, it is possible for a sorcerer to perform a complete merging of minds between himself and another.  The end result of this is that the two individuals involved each carry a piece of the other’s mind within their own.  It requires incredible trust, for an untrustworthy individual would be able to abuse this and do the other harm.  Thus, a complete mind merge is rarely performed; I myself have never done it with anyone.  In my experience, I can only recommend it when a sorcerer takes a spouse in holy matrimony, and even then, their trust must be absolute.”

“And this technique allows the two individuals to communicate in their minds?” Dave asked.

“Indeed, no matter the distance.  But only in the case of a complete mind merger can this be done.  And as I said, it is not a technique to be performed lightly.  You must trust the other person implicitly, and they you,” Merlin cautioned.

“I see… what would you think were I to suggest I attempt this technique with Madeleine?”

Merlin chuckled.  “I would not be surprised in the least.  Once I learned of your relationship, I knew it would only be a matter of time before you would want to merge with her.  Still, proceed with care.  There is no true risk in this spell, not in performing it at least.  If it fails, it fails with no negative consequences, and you can try again at another time.  The risk comes in choosing the right person.  One false step in this regard can be disastrous.”

“Are you suggesting I am not the right person for him?” Madeleine asked sharply.

“Not at all, my dear.  I have foreseen your relationship.  Though the details elude me, it is clear that you will build a strong marriage and a loving family together, Madeleine.  Forgive me, but I simply would be doing my pupil a disservice if I did not fully communicate the inherent risks this technique presents.”

“Of course.  I apologize for my accusation.  My father always said I was sometimes too strong-willed for my own good.”

“You will fit right in where I come from,” Dave chuckled.  “What is your recommendation, Merlin?  Try the spell with you before you leave?”

“No, there is no need to rush, David.  You and Madeleine should take some time to read your Incantus and find out more about this spell.  Discover the effect it will have on you and the requirements to make it work before deciding if you wish to attempt it.  Take your time with this.”

“Alright, I will sleep on it at least.”

“Good.  Now, if you will excuse me.  I have preparations to make before we depart in the morning.”

“Good luck, Merlin.  And please, do not get yourself killed out there!” Dave grinned.

“Believe me, Mordred’s forces have no idea what they are in for,” Merlin replied as he left.

Though Dave began to immediately flip through the pages of his Incantus for the spell Merlin had mentioned, Madeleine had other ideas.

“David, it sounds as though this spell Merlin spoke of requires the two of us to be as close as possible, yes?”

“Sounds like it,” Dave agreed without looking up.

“I must admit, I feel that I am not as close to you as I should be.  I doubt the spell would work in my current state of mind.”  Leaning down from behind him, Madeleine began to kiss Dave’s neck.  “Perhaps we should do something… to ensure we are as close as can be,” she whispered.

Madeleine discarded her dress and slipped back under the covers of their bed, beckoning Dave to join her with a smoldering look on her face.  He closed his Incantus for the time being and magically threw his clothes off.

Well, back to work…

*****

As the sun rose over the horizon, Arthur stood before his assembled forces.  His army, now over one thousand strong, appeared more than capable of handling the task now set before them.  Still, he sensed their apprehension.  Camelot had enjoyed a period of unprecedented peace before Mordred’s betrayal, and many of these men had never known war.  There was much work to do, but Arthur had faith that his experienced veterans would come through for him.  Clearing his throat, Arthur rode up to the front of the army to address them.

“Men, we stand today on the precipice of war.  Some of you have never known war.  There are those of you who may have visions of glorious battle with spoils and rewards awaiting you, but I know the truth to be far different.  War is one of the worst things the world has to offer.  It is ugly.  It is divisive.  It is contrary to our purpose, as mankind’s purpose is to unite, not divide.  Why, then, do we now go to war so willingly?

“We go to war to do battle with a man with so little regard for human life and so little concern for anything other than himself that war is the only answer.  It pains me to say it, but it is the truth.  Lord Mordred desires nothing less than the throne of Camelot.  I have thus far denied him this, many times at that.  A kingdom ruled by Mordred would be wrought with destruction, for its king would recognize only power and might.  He would undo all the gains we have made in leading with righteousness in mind, not with power.

“My friends, we cannot allow this to happen!  Were he to gain the throne of Camelot, would his desires be at last satiated?  Nay!  Mordred will never be satiated so long as there are others who escape his influence of power.  We are righteous in this war.  Look.”  Drawing his sword, Arthur held it high above his head.  “The great Excalibur shines with a holy light.  It knows of our quest, and it knows our cause to be just.  By the grace of God Himself, we shall be victorious!  WE RIDE!!!”

The men roared their approval, readying their weapons and supplies for departure.  Pleased with his rousing speech, Arthur turned to Lancelot.

“Keep our home safe, my friend.”

“I shall,” Lancelot replied.  “The gates shall remain closed at all times until your return.  We have enough supplies to last months.”

“Excellent.  Merlin shall return of his own volition periodically, so let him know of anything you may require in my absence.”

“Of course.  And please be careful, Sire.  Do not do anything reckless out there.”

“I would never!” Arthur laughed. “Still, as long as I have Excalibur at my side, I fear no enemy, no matter how strong.”

Lancelot watched for a while as the army marched off into the distance, led by Arthur, Kay, Bedivere, and Merlin.  How he wished he could be with them, at last ending Mordred’s acts of evil in glorious battle.  Alas, his place is here in Camelot, it seemed.  Why David was so insistent on this point he could not be sure, but there was no changing Arthur’s mind after Merlin agreed.  Once the army had disappeared over the horizon, Lancelot ordered the drawbridge raised and the gates closed.

“Open the gates for no one without my permission,” Lancelot instructed the guards.  “I shall leave once a day for patrol, but that is it.  Nobody else in or out.”

“Aye.”

Striding back towards the main castle tower, Lancelot’s eye caught sight of Guinevere at her bedroom window.

Perhaps I ought to make sure the queen has recovered from her ordeal.

*****

“What does it say, David?” Madeleine asked.

Reading aloud from his Incantus, Dave said, “The mind is the most powerful force in the human body.  Everything begins and ends with it, and it is the source of all magical potential.  Thus, the mind of a sorcerer has power enough to affect those around said sorcerer.

“On the simplest level, a sorcerer can convey a vision of a past event or experience from his perspective upon another, regardless of their magical potential or lack thereof.  This requires that the sorcerer focus upon the memory in question and transfer the memory into the mind of another by using his aura.  The receiving individual will then be able to recall everything surrounding this event as if they had experienced it for themselves.  In doing this, the giver of the memory does not forfeit said memory altogether.  Rather, the memory is now shared between the two individuals, but will not fade as a memory normally does over time.

“While such specific use of this power is most common, a stronger variation of this spell is possible.  When a sorcerer concentrates every fiber of his being on another person and that person does the same for the sorcerer, the sorcerer’s aura will allow the two to share a part of their minds with each other.  In doing this, all past experiences will be shared between them, and their minds will be connected in an unbreakable bond that will last for the rest of their lives.  Once performed, this technique can never be undone.  Thus, the individuals must trust each other with their lives.  Even the slightest wavering of trust will cause the spell to fail.  Such magic is one of the ultimate forms of selflessness; each surrenders their mind, their future, and their very life to another.”

“Oh my… that sounds so romantic,” Madeleine said.

“And dangerous,” Dave commented.  “I can see why Merlin wanted us to research this before going through with it.  Once done, it can never be undone.”

“Yes… are you certain you trust me enough?”

“Of course!  Still, I suppose it would not hurt to try the less powerful version of this spell before moving on to a complete mind merge.”

“I agree,” Madeleine said.

Dave thought for a few minutes, considering what memory would be best to convey to Madeleine.  At first, he thought to give her a memory of his training under Merlin, so as not to overwhelm her with a memory of the modern world he lived in.  But then he got an idea; this memory could be the perfect way to “introduce” Madeleine to his family, at least in her mind.  Summoning his aura, Dave focused on a particularly fond memory from about a year ago.  With it clear in his mind, he placed two fingers on Madeleine’s forehead.  A flash of light, and his aura disappeared.

Madeleine now stood in a trance.  She could see everything so clearly in her mind, as if she had experienced it herself.  She walked through a doorway and into what appeared to be a dwelling home of some sort.  As she rounded a corner, three smiling people awaited her.

“SURPRISE!!!”

“Happy Birthday, Dave!” said a girl with dark brown hair.

“You guys!  You’re too much!” she heard Dave’s voice say.

Madeleine’s eyes began to well up with tears as she watched the scene unfold.  It was so simple, yet so beautiful.  The setting may have been foreign to her, but the feelings were not.  Dave and his loved ones were enjoying each other’s company as they celebrated with good food and fellowship.  To the casual observer, it would have all been unremarkable, but Madeleine saw exactly what had been taken from her weeks ago: family.  The love and support these people showed was everything she had received from her father growing up.  Perhaps God sent Dave for this very purpose, providing her a family just as she lost the only family she had ever known.  As she opened her eyes, the vision ended.

“You alright?” Dave asked, having watched her with intensity throughout.

Madeleine said nothing, wrapping Dave in a tight hug.  “You spoke the truth… your sister is beautiful,” she laughed through her tears.

“Madeleine, why are you crying?” he asked, keeping her in his arms.

“Because… I saw your family.  For them to love you as they do… I cannot wait to meet them, David.  Nobody could ever replace Father, but he would be pleased for me to have found a second family such as yours.”  She kissed him on the lips, savoring his touch for several long moments.  “Thank you,” she at last whispered as they parted.  “I love you.”

“Love you too,” Dave grinned.  “So, I think we might want to hold off on the full spell.  The last thing I want to do is overwhelm you.”

“I do not think you would,” Madeleine replied.  “As I understood it, the spell would confer upon me your past experiences, rather than just a memory.  I can only presume that the context of those experiences would be included in that.”

“True.  The description of the spell does say it will seem as if you experienced these things for yourself,” Dave mused.  “Still, the decision yours.  All you have to do is say the word, and we will stop.”

“Your concern is appreciated, my love, but I wish nothing more than to be as close to you as can be.  This will bring us closer than we have ever thought possible.  And as frightening as that prospect may sound, I feel no fear whatsoever.  I only feel… excitement.  Anticipation.  It is one more step towards returning to your time with you.  One more step towards forever with you.”

Dave smiled and placed his hands on either side of Madeleine’s head.  He emptied his mind of everything, all his troubles, doubts, and fears, and focused solely on the beautiful blue eyes before him.  Madeleine instinctively did the same, drawn into the pools of Dave’s brown eyes.  Without him trying, Dave’s aura appeared around the two of them, slowly connecting their eyes with beams of light.  Neither could look away from the other, not that they had any desire to do so.  At that time came from their foreheads two tiny sparks of light.  The sparks floated towards each other, dancing in midair for several seconds, then separated and entered into their respective recipients.  Dave’s aura disappeared.  All fell silent.

At first, Dave did not feel any different.  But as he searched his mind, he could sense the change, almost as if there was now an adjoining room.  Simply by focusing on this, he had immediate access to Madeleine’s memories and experiences.  He saw everything she could remember, even as far back as her childhood.  Her father, while gruff in all matters of work, became a giant softie for his only daughter.  Dave smiled and laughed at the images of their funny face contests and horsey rides.  At this, he understood why the images of his own family had touched her so.

For Madeleine, the change was quite similar to the memory Dave had shared with her, though far stronger.  Through his eyes, she saw so many wondrous things in Dave’s modern world, yet none of it terrified her.  Through his past experiences, she now had the context and understanding to take these images in without apprehension.  She had no doubt that seeing them in person for the first time would be an overwhelming experience, but none of it scared her.  As long as Dave was by her side, she wanted to see everything his world had to offer.

The two lovers said nothing.  They were now bonded forever.  Soon, they melted into each other’s arms, sharing a long, warm kiss that seemed to last years.  In those moments, nothing else in the world could have been more important to them than each other.  After several hours of making passionate love, they at last collapsed into a deep, relaxed slumber.

*****

“Your Highness?” Lancelot asked, knocking on Guinevere’s door.

“Come in.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I am well, I suppose,” Guinevere replied from the edge of her bed.

“You suppose?  What troubles you?” Lancelot inquired, taking a seat in a chair.

“I… I still cannot sleep in peace.  My dreams are plagued by the memory of Mordred’s men.  If… if they had…”

“They did not.  And they shall not, not as long as I have breath,” Lancelot reassured her.

“I know this while I am awake.  But at night, in the dark recesses of my mind, no rational thought can defeat them.  I have been restless each night but one since Mordred’s attack,” Guinevere admitted.

“Each but one?  What happened on the one night?”

“It was the first night following the attack.  Arthur insisted on staying with me, even though he had work to do.  Just feeling his arms around me was enough to stave off the dark memories.  But since then, he has been consumed with his war, preparing his men to fight and kill.  I have been on my own each night, and the dreams have returned hence.”

Lancelot sighed.  “I know Arthur means well, but it is no less a tragedy that such a beautiful lady as you has been neglected by her husband.”

“Do not blame him,” Guinevere replied.  “I have yet to tell him of this.  He has so many worries; our entire kingdom is under attack.  There was no need to also concern him about his wife as she sleeps.”

Seeking to change to a more pleasant topic, Lancelot asked, “Guinevere, do you remember the day we first met?”

“How could I forget?” she smiled.  “Young, brash Sir Lancelot had been knighted and made a member of King Arthur’s court.  As he stood before my husband and me, I saw something that none have ever seen in him: fear.”

“Nonsense!  I was not afraid!”

“You were terrified!  I could see it in your eyes,” she continued to tease him.  “I certainly could not blame you, what with the duties Arthur had thrust upon you and the great things Merlin predicted from you.”

“I am the courageous Sir Lancelot!” he replied with a laugh.  “Nothing frightens me!  NOTHING!”

“Whom are you attempting to convince, oh courageous Sir Lancelot?  Me or yourself?” Guinevere giggled.

“Hmm… I shall not dignify that with a response,” Lancelot said, stifling a grin.

“If you say so.”

Lancelot’s face softened as he continued, “There are times… I curse that day.”

“Curse?  Whatever for?” Guinevere asked.  “Your career as a member of Arthur’s Round Table has been nothing short of exemplary!”

“Aye, but that is not the reason I curse that day.”

“And what is the reason?”

“It is… because of you, milady.”

“Me?  But… I do not understand?”

Lancelot sighed again.  “You are correct; I was afraid that day.  But it was not the prospect of knighthood or the duties of the Round Table that frightened me.  No, it was something deeper.  On that day, the day I first saw you, I fell in love with a woman I was eternally forbidden to love.  Your beauty struck me, Guinevere, and I could not escape it.  I saw your face, and I was both elated and terrified at the same time.  I curse the day because… I had not the strength to prevent myself from falling in love at first sight.”

Guinevere sat in silence for several moments before finally replying, “Love at first sight?”

“Aye, and with my king’s wife no less.  I know these feelings are sinful, and that I have endangered my position in Camelot by telling you this, but I could no longer bear for this to be a secret from you.  Since the night of Mordred’s attack, I could not escape the fear that you could have died.  I would never have been able to tell you the truth.”

“Lancelot… I know not what to say…”

“Say nothing, milady.  I realize I have made you uncomfortable.  I shall take my leave now.”

“Wait,” Guinevere said, grabbing his arm.  “Do not go.  Please, stay with me.”

Lancelot hesitated a moment before replying, “As you wish.”

Guinevere took a deep breath.  “Lancelot, the truth is… I have long harbored an attraction for you as well.  I love my husband, of course, but I must admit to thinking of you sometimes in our intimate moments.  None has ever been able to enflame my loins like the most courageous knight in all Camelot.”

“You think of me… while your husband beds you?” he replied with a slight laugh.

“Yes.  Oh, it is so embarrassing to think about, but I cannot deny the truth.  The mere thought of you drives me wild, Sir Lancelot.”

“I see... I am unsure of what is supposed to happen next.”

“I know not.  We have just admitted our true feelings for each other.  I suppose the most logical thing to do next would be… consummating those feelings.”

“But… you are married!”

“Yes.  And my husband is off to war, a war that may yet take his life,” Guinevere noted.  “Besides, it has been years since I felt like a complete woman.  Arthur is loving and tender, yes, but he is always so respectful of me.  Not once has he thrown me on the bed and used me to satiate his most basic of desires.  I have told him that sometimes I wish to be taken by him, made to be his woman, even if only in play.  Each time, he has refused.  He says he loves me too much to treat me as such.”

“He ignores the needs and desires of his wife,” Lancelot surmised.  “Honorable as he may be in treating you with tender affection, to deny his wife something she so desperately desires… that is truly sad.  Though he is your husband and your duties are to him, it saddens me to learn that Arthur has not taken full advantage of the world of pleasures his wife offers to him.”

Guinevere hesitated once more before asking, “Would you?”

“Pardon?” Lancelot replied, unsure of where this was going.

“Would you… take advantage of such a world of pleasures?”

“Erm… if an offer were to be extended by a beautiful lady with whom I shared great attraction, I would find it impossible to refuse her.”

Guinevere said nothing, standing from her seat at the edge of her bed and sauntering over to Lancelot’s chair.  Her yellow frock swayed with every fluid motion, accentuating her incredible femininity.  As she approached a seated Sir Lancelot, she flung her long, brown hair over one shoulder, bent over, and gave him a long kiss on the lips.  His eyes went wide; he could not believe what was happening.  The woman for whom he had harbored a secret love for almost twenty years was kissing him!  Still, he willed his hands to remain on the armrests of the chair, not wanting to overstep his bounds any further.  At last, she withdrew, a sly smile on her lips.

“The offer is extended,” said Guinevere.

“But… b-but what of Arthur?” Lancelot stammered.

“Arthur shall never know.  Should he return alive and well, I shall return to being his faithful wife, keeping this secret as a treasured memory.  If he does not return… we shall cross that bridge when we come to it.  Please, I simply wish to know the joys of true passion once in my life… before I am old and ugly.”

Smiling, Lancelot stood and wrapped her in his arms.  “You may grow older, but you shall never be ugly to my eye.”

Their eyes locked, and their emotions soon began to take control over the situation.  Though both knew this to be a sinful betrayal, neither cared in those moments.  They needed each other; it was that simple.  After several long minutes of passionate kissing, they began to disrobe.  They tossed off their clothes with such fervor that they feared something might have ripped.

Their naked bodies stood in contrast to each other: Guinevere, tall, thin, and elegant, and Lancelot, short, muscular, and compact.  Despite being in her early forties, Guinevere possessed a fit and toned body, accentuated by a pair of firm, medium-small breasts.  Lancelot, on the other hand, was in the physical prime of his life, every inch of his body hardened from his numerous battles and adorned with thick hair.

The pair soon found there was no need for foreplay.  Lancelot was visibly erect from the moment Guinevere had disrobed, and both could detect a musky scent emanating from between her legs.  They melted into each other’s arms, allowing their hands to explore every inch of their bodies.  As the room heated up, Lancelot could tell that she wanted more than just intimacy with him; she wanted him to do everything to her that Arthur would not.  With a wicked grin, he took Guinevere firmly in his arms and tossed her onto the bed.

Guinevere gasped and laughed at his sudden control.  It was exhilarating, feeling this man have such power over her, yet being free of the fear that he would harm her in the process.  Her eyes bulged as Lancelot stood at the edge of the bed and pulled her forward, impaling her on his rod.  As he began to thrust into her, it was clear that Lancelot was a man of compensation.  He was short in stature, yet made up for this with his ruthlessness and tenacity on the battlefield.  Likewise, he compensated for his smaller-than-average cock with unrivaled confidence and incredible enthusiasm.  Guinevere soon found herself lost in his animalistic grunts and growls.

Lancelot then took hold of her legs and propped them up on his shoulders, giving him a better angle for his thrusting.  Guinevere loved this, of course, but was even more enthralled by what he did next.  In one fluid motion, Lancelot rolled her onto her side, placing her legs together while keeping his cock inside her the whole time.  He now hunched over a bit with his hands on her torso, pinning her down as he continued his pounding.  Guinevere could do nothing but lie there and enjoy the sensations he was giving her, and she loved every second of it.

Eventually, Lancelot sensed he was close to orgasm.  Pulling out for a moment, he pulled Guinevere towards him and rolled her once more to lie on her stomach, her feet planted on the floor beside the bed.  She gripped the sheets tightly as he reentered her, but her wrists were soon caught in Lancelot’s firm grasp.  This was more than she had ever imagined, being playfully dominated in this fashion.  Lancelot continued his frenzied pace for as long as he was able, but it was not long before the pair gave in to their baser instincts.  With a final guttural moan, he unleashed his seed into her womanhood, sending her into a prolonged orgasm of her own.  Drained of energy, Lancelot leaned forward and collapsed against Guinevere’s back.

“Was… was that?”

“Everything I have ever desired,” she confirmed.

*****

Audrey strolled leisurely through the castle corridors, enjoying the momentary solitude.  She had some time before her next assignment, so she decided to partake in one of her favorite pastimes: listening.  It amazed her the things she could hear people doing through the doors of their bedchambers.  But several doors later, she found nothing but silence and disappointment.  Alone with her thoughts, her mind turned once more to her beloved Mordred.

During his time in Camelot, Mordred had been the only client Audrey had serviced, personally requested night after night to share his bed.  It was not long before their relationship became more than that of a client and a working girl, as he had promised to marry her and give her a better life.  Though she suspected he did not truly love her and only wanted her beauty on his arm and in his bed, Audrey did not care.  He was wealthy, handsome, and would give her strong, healthy sons.

Then came the day of Mordred’s defection from Camelot.  He left as a thief in the night, taking with him around a third of Camelot’s soldiers that supported him.  While Audrey had pleaded with him to bring her along, he had refused.  Mordred insisted that the road before him was a dangerous one, and he would only bring her with him once it was safe to do so.  Still, they had managed to correspond in secret in the year since that day.  About a week after Mordred’s defection, Audrey was awakened one morning by a falcon on her windowsill.  A note attached to its leg confirmed that it was a trained animal that she could use to communicate with Mordred.  Audrey could never have been more thankful that he had taught her to read and write in their many evenings together.

At this point, her thoughts were interrupted by a sound coming from down the hallway.  As Audrey edged closer, it seemed she had at last hit the jackpot; a couple was involved in a particularly passionate encounter.  Soon, she realized that the noises were coming from Queen Guinevere’s bedchamber.  Her stomach churned at knowing that King Arthur was off to war.  Should she alert someone?  Perhaps Sir Lancelot?

“Oh, Lancelot…”

Audrey gasped at hearing the moaning voice; clearly it was the queen’s.  It now made sense why the greatest warrior in Camelot would remain behind from war: to bed the king’s wife.  Soon, the wheels began to turn in Audrey’s head.  She now saw this as the perfect opportunity to be reunited with her beloved.  As silently as she was able, she hurried back to her bedchambers.

“Alexander,” she cooed, reaching underneath her bed.

After a moment, she withdrew the cage containing Alexander, Mordred’s pet falcon.  As she began to pen a note, she wondered if this was her beloved’s plan all along, to have a friend and confidant in Camelot that could keep him informed should something momentous happen.  Certainly, she worried for Mordred, but she knew in her heart of hearts that the war was futile; Arthur would never be able to outright defeat Mordred.  But with the information she now wrote, Mordred might be able to ascend the throne of Camelot once and for all.  At last, they would be together, he, King of the Britons, and she his queen.

“Fly, Alexander.  Find Mordred.”

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