By E.J. Loera
The field was masked with flowers,
The colors dancing in the sun -
They wove and whirled, danced and twirled
The day had fittingly begun
Guinevere left the castle quietly
So as not to wake a peaceful rest;
She gathered a group of maidens
And they skipped into the West.
The walls of the castle shrunk behind
A few young knights that followed;
They happily accompanied their Queen
In case their service she should borrow.
Guinevere's voice rang like the bells
Dangling in the tower of Camelot.
The words spun a feathered coverlet
And o'er the city was comfort wrought.
The pale women sang like sirens
To lure close the beauty of the day.
They picked what they saw fit a'field
Joying in the sun's balmy rays.
Their naked feet brushed the earth,
Not a worry in their minds,
They knew not that which followed -
Something not of mortal kind.
A plan was in play perfectly
Through the work of evil forces -
They had banned together keenly
From all sorts of dissimilar sources.
The Queen of Lothian, Morgause,
Herself had mused a part -
She held despise for Guinevere
In the dark corners of her heart.
She organized a kidnapping -
An abduction, if you will,
To capture Arthur and his sword
And leave them begging trill.
She lusted her half-brother's crown,
Therefrom becoming the High Queen -
Reigning all that would belong to her
And earning a title more supreme.
So on this day, amid fine June,
She set a trap in work with aid
From the exiled knight yclept Melwas
And her every word he bade.
She told him to linger 'neath a tree
While her magic worked its wonder,
And in the earth she laced a hole
In scheme to make the party sunder.
A dark cloud formed around the Queen
Nearly blind, encased in mist,
While her maidens and her faithful knights
Were vacuumed into the black abyss.
Guinevere's scream sliced the air
Like an axe into a forest tree;
She knew not what had happened -
Nor could she much less see.
Then Melwas rode (by Morgause's word)
To assist the young Queen in need,
And Morgause's laugh quavered the sky
Like thunder's vengeful heed:
"Aha! How simple that task was -
Erelong Arthur will search for her
And be it then that I am crowned -
As was meant from the years of yore!"
Her plight was warranted well enough
For 'twas then that the mists ascended,
And Guinevere was a'mid a lonely forest
Her fright right then suspended.
Her party had vanished, it appeared to be,
She knew not wither they had gone.
She was not where she was before
And the wind was dreadfully wrong.
'Twas then that Melwas made his move,
Riding from 'hind a thick black shrub;
He galloped up to Guinevere
And to the forest's very hub.
Guinevere gasped, regained her grace,
Then spoke with a frissoned tone:
"Good Sir, I know not where I am
And I'm frightened to the bone.
Could thou lend a lady assistance?
Or perhaps a point of thy hand?
I would appreciate thee wholly
And I'd reward thee something grand."
Melwas smirked amusingly,
His yellow teeth a vulgar glare.
They stood elapsed like headstones
And matched the rust of his foul hair
His beard wiggled out like twigs
His face shrouded 'hind their mass
He surveyed the Queen and spoke:
"I will help thee, my bonny lass.
We shall venture to my castle -
Perhaps we might even share a drink.
Thou canst ride atop my saddle here.
We'll arrive by high noon, I think."
Guinevere slipped a step a'back,
A little started by his pitch.
She glared at the man afore her
At his mount and at his hitch.
His attire was appalling,
His hygiene hardly pure,
A belly bulged out his surcoat
In a disease that had no cure.
He was clad in a dreary fabric,
A kind never seen before.
His eyes matched the blackened color
Of the rapier hilt he wore
Guinevere held herself up sturdily,
Her neck inclined up to the knight.
She gathered up her bravery
And repressed her weighty spite.
Said she, "No offense intended,
Thine offer is quite kind,
But I'd rather travel to my castle
If thou dost not terribly mind."
"Thou art wrong," said the man
His patience now receding,
"Thou wilt come with me."
The Queen's heart was loudly beating.
She commanded her legs run,
But in her haste Melwas grabbed her,
His arms wringing 'round her form
And put a sleeping position to her nostril.
"I haven't time for pleasantries,"
He muttered with a chortle,
Then he lifted the Queen's limp body -
The thing so dainty and so mortal.
He placed her on his massive saddle,
Pulled and vaulted up himself,
Then rode away into a shadow
To the home where 'lone he dwelt.
Back in Camelot the word released -
It echoed through the realm -
That the Queen had vanished on her stroll
The people all were overwhelmed.
All the knights were sent to search the land
While the King paced hither and yon,
He wore a valley in his chamber
On the wood the color of fawn.
He thought, perhaps, his sins to blame,
And bit back the bitter tears.
He would not lose his darling Gwen -
Those were the worst of his rav'nous fears.
After the sun had burned the evening,
And still no word had come,
He called for his champion knight -
The heart of his vast kingdom.
Lancelot sat in the focus of his chamber
Trying desperately to think up a plan;
He prepared his things to go for Gwen -
He would save her at his own hand!
Then at the door, a courier,
Who sent Arthur's frantic word -
He asked Lancelot's presence
Both to listen and be heard.
Lancelot hastened to the King's room
Wanting only to leave the castle;
He barged upon the King alone
And shut the door, avoiding hassle.
"Arthur, thou inquired for my presence
But please be quick in tongue.
I must go after your dear Queen -
I have been waiting much too long!"
Arthur motioned him to sit
On the chair a'side his own.
He buried his face in his hands
Then garbled through a groan:
"Yes, indeed, 'tis why I called thee.
I've a proposition to place forth:
I will to go myself to find her
Without her my life hasn't worth.
But I ask for thine assistance
For I know thou too holds her dear."
And he looked up with a boyish smile,
His eyes quite deep and clear.
"But Arthur!" Lancelot cried aloud
"Thou canst not leave this place!
Thou art the King of Camelot
And here will thee be safe."
Arthur gripped Lancelot's firm shoulder,
His voice a cracking, dripping dew,
"Thy love for her is as great as mine own -
Mine eyes hath seen this to be true.
Thou art my bravest, truest knight,
My closest friend and brother;
Thou must assist me in my quest -
I would not trust another."
Then Lancelot stifled a sharp cry,
Clasping his friend's stiff arm,
"We wilt save her, I swear it -
To her will come no harm."
Arthur smiled, as best he could,
With the mist shrouding his eyes,
"There is evil magic at work here,
But to battle it we must try!
I have enlisted the help of Viviane,
She will help us find her, indeed.
Methinks this was the work of Morgause
My half sister and my misery.
Viviane gifted me this charm,"
(From out his shirt he pulled a thread),
"She said to follow its strongest pull,
And to Guinevere we would be led.
Now come, Lancelot, saddle thy horse.
We ride now though it nears night.
Thy men wilt ride one way, mine another -
We wilt save her afore the morning light."
They leapt to their feet and out the door,
And though their soft hearts did try,
They did not find the Queen that night,
Nor the next day when the sun rode high.
Guinevere awoke that night
In a rough bed not her own.
She was in the castle of Melwas
And seemed to be all alone
She wandered through the murky halls
Cobwebs sticking to her shadow.
Her steps were barely a whisper
And even that was more than allowed.
The stone was colder than winter
Beneath her trembling feet.
She hugged her elbows closer
And was roofed by an icy sheet.
Soon she managed to wander
Into a zealous enough room,
A fire crackled against one wall
And a long table was set for two.
She realized then her hunger -
She hadn't eaten in a day -
Her eyes drifted to the table
Where a gorgeous feast did lay.
A roasted pork! A pheasant bode!
Ribbons of potatoes strung all around!
Golden bowls of wine perched yon!
Loaves of bread piled in a mound!
"Ah, my Queen, how hungry thou must be!"
Melwas slithered up from behind.
He slid his hands 'round Gwen's waist
The rough manner far from kind.
Guinevere pushed out his grasp,
Though all he did was laugh amused,
"That's fine, my dear, thou wilt change.
Right now thou art merely confused."
"Where am I? Thy name, Sir Knight?"
Demanded the frightened Gwen
"And what is it that thee means?
Thou dost disgustingly offend!"
Melwas roared another laugh,
This time shrieking to the sky,
"King, my Queen, not a knight!
'tis the title I now go by.
I am yclept Melwas, by my friends,
But thou wilt refer to me by heading.
And thou art now mine own wife -
Though I have yet to arrange a wedding."
"Return me at once!" shouted the Queen,
"I won't partake in thy vile game!
By now all are looking for me
And thou wilt crumble in shame!"
Melwas ignored her shrieking voice -
He waddled up to the table's feast.
He took his seat in a wooden chair
And began to carve a beast.
"I will not eat," stated Guinevere,
"I will die thy prisoner - no more."
"Fine," grumbled Melwas, between stuffs,
"Though it will become a bore.
Especially when thou seeth me eating,
When I know thy stomach groans,
Or when thou liest alone at night
And thy bed is cold as stone.
For now consider thy wishes respected
If thou doth me one small thing -
I heard thy voice when you were maying
And for me now thee must sing."
Gwen spat in his raggled face
And turned about to leave,
But Melwas threw her on the floor
In one mighty vicious heave.
He crawled himself atop her
And spattered with disgust
"Sing or I find other amusement,"
His eyes hazed and drunken with lust
So the Queen released her lovely voice
Like a caged bird it then ascended.
She sang a set of Druid ballads,
Though her heart was sick with dread.
After Melwas was satisfied with meal
He gave her permission to retire
In a dungeon-like bedroom
That had no place for fire.
Guinevere froze the night away,
The air chilling like a spell;
She shook until the morning light,
Shivering as a bronze bell.
In the morning Melwas woke her
Afore the rising of the sun,
Stating the time was that of breakfast
And surely must she come.
Guinevere stated she would dress
And waited in the tiny quarters
Searching for a weapon of some kind -
Anything at all would serve her.
Melwas outweighed her by a heavy boar -
She knew she could not outstrength him,
But she knew she was cleverer
And that alone was worth a whim
No weapon was to be located.
She thought, "For now I will wait.
Another opportunity will come
And his strength will come too late."
The full day she stayed with Melwas
But she still refused to eat,
So she sang away the daylight
Or had a form of empty speak.
Melwas enjoyed her company,
Said, "Thy feelings wilt soon change
When thou seeth there's nowhere to go
And thy thoughts are formed in range.
Either that or hunger will prevail
And we'll be forced to share a meal -
But remember I haven't yet touched thee
As was mine end of the deal."
But the days withered by at any rate
And not a thing had differed,
Except that they crawled slower -
Three weeks an age to Guinevere.
Her hunger weakened heavily,
Her mind was always drifting.
She wore down to a ghastly stick,
Her thoughts no more than sifting.
Melwas' lust was growing impatient
And Gwen thought hope was lost,
But she promised herself to keep fighting
It mattered not - whatever the cost.
She slept little and even then
'Twas no more than horrid dreams,
While meanwhile her two champions
Found failures of their own schemes.
Neither Lancelot, nor Arthur
Were finding much good fortune.
They searched all around the land
And endured their private tortures.
Arthur's charm led him to a swamp -
He searched there night and day,
But nothing came of the long trip -
Through the mists nothing lay.
Lancelot's fare was just as bad,
Until one ev'ning he decided
That he would pray to the Gods,
Though his heart was greatly spited.
"Dear Gods," he spoke afore his tent,
"Lead me to my love and life.
She's the star for which my evening waits
Though she be my best friend's wife.
I will give the happiness of my life.
I will live in shame forever.
I will give my life, if you will,
My heart will undertake this endeavor.
Tell me what you want of me!
I will do whatever is asked!
Just let me find my Guinevere -
I give anything for this task!"
That night the skies did rumble;
The stars huddled and reformed;
The wind stirred in changing;
The entire world conformed.
Lancelot found himself in a dream
In which he floated through a mist.
He was carried to the step of a castle
Its old stones grumbled and hissed.
The dream dispersed into nothing -
As Lancelot was slowly waking
He could scarce believe his eyes,
And his fingers began shaking.
At the scene of the dream was he -
Surrounded by a hoary cloud!
Amd there indeed was the castle!
At last, a sign, he found!
He wore no armor save a surcoat,
Though his blade was in its hilt.
He sprinted into the castle -
Its defenses feebly built.
A few men came to challenge him,
But their perspicacity was poor.
None of them could fight a'tall
And fell like a hailstorm to the floor.
Lancelot was in an insane fury -
His blade was lit like fire!
Men fell in heaps around him
As if cleaved neatly by a wire.
Harder and harder he pushed,
Sweat boiling like molten rock.
Blood splattered all around him,
But like a madman he still fought.
Back in Melwas' dining hall,
Guinevere's dry throat was breaking -
No longer could she sing at all,
And it grew as silent as a waking.
"What is it that hath happened, woman?"
Melwas said, throwing down his wine,
"Is thy voice finally diminished
After all this impatient time?"
Guinevere mustered a whisper
From somewhere deep inside,
"I only need a moment to recompose,"
Came her thick and blistering lie.
But Melwas saw her swaggering.
He knew he had her trodden -
It was only a matter of time now
Before all defense had fallen.
"I am half sick of waiting," he said,
A drunk, balmy look in his stare,
"Thou hast seen none wilt save you
And these weeks have begun to wear.
Into the bedchamber we voyage!
Thou wilt become completely mine
By the full rise of the moon to-night!"
His voice a covetous whine.
The time had too worn heavily on Gwen -
Her thoughts were scarce her own.
She could not feel her weary body,
Nor the swooning in every bone.
She knew not how close her hope was -
That Lancelot was just down the stair.
Her faith had all but grisly faded -
No longer could the pain she bear.
Her throat was dry and marbled,
Her voice a peeping crack,
But with all that she could muster,
She raised herself and spat -
"Thou wilt not touch me, I swear it
By the ever-present stars above.
You will never have my marriage,
Nor my body or my love."
The vile man grunted loudly,
Disappointment bare amounting.
He gauchely flashed his yellow teeth,
His lust inside surmounting.
"Thou forgets none wilt hear thy scream,"
He bellowed a laugh, echoing in the room,
And reached his lumpy knuckles
Toward Guinevere and her doom.
The poor Queen fought - all she had -
But his heavy body pinned her.
In her weakness she could not win,
And drowned in his dappled fur.
His thick hand ran up her thigh,
As he tried to tear open her clothes,
But he was caught in his drunken stupor,
And in that confusion he rode.
His breath stank with rotten ale,
His palms pressed hard against her skin.
But she forced her finger into his eye -
An unnatural strength laired within.
A wail outside sounded, surprising,
Then there, at the door! A strange light!
A flash of steel and a man behind -
A whir of silver splitting the night!
In the moment of massed mystification,
The self-proclaimed King stood,
And in a final burst of energy
Gwen rose as best she could.
She reached for his dull sword,
Clasping it from 'bove the fireside,
Then sheathed it in Melwas' back
And uttered a terrifying cry.
He fell shattered like a glass,
His blood splashing like the rain,
His breath escaping silently -
For a stopped heart feels not pain.
Then Guinevere collapsed on the floor,
She sobbed out streams of water.
No longer could she move a'tall
And her heart no longer fought her.
She laid flat a'back on the stony ground,
The blood of the man surging nigh.
The world swirled in colors all around,
And she begged the Gods to die.
Sir Lancelot stood at the entrance,
Not understanding the image afore,
But his arms weighted like tombstones
And his strength ebbed at the core.
The curls of his hair mottled with sweat,
His face paler than the waxing stars;
His sword bled out a crimson liquid;
His mind wandering somewhere afar.
Strands on his face like wet wisps
Of separate beams of moonlight
That strolled in through the open window,
Producing an eerie glow of white.
But then - a shimmer of some life -
His eyes alight in conflagration!
The memories came soaring back -
The tasks befitting that of his station.
He dropped his weapon in hand
And fell a'ground in a single breath.
He lifted Guinevere affectionately
And pulled her from the death.
From her fingers he pried the bloody blade,
Tossed it aside with a loud clatter.
He held her tight against his body
As if nothing else held matter.
He tucked her hair behind her ear,
Absorbed her tears on his chest;
He shushed her as you would a child,
Breathing her beauty into his breast.
"Don't speak, my love," his breath a breeze,
"'tis I, your Lancelot, your truest knight."
Then he stroked her cheek delicately,
Reflecting the moon's grisly white.
"Lancelot," she breathed so daintily,
"Am I the victim of malicious dream?
'Tis it thee, my honest champion?
My swollen eyes do little to deem."
"'tis I," he said with a soft smile,
"I have come to take thee home.
Arthur, too, is searching for thee,
Though the Gods brought me alone.
Let us go now, my splendor, my sweet,
Let us not linger here in this palace of woe.
I will carry thee out of this dreadful place
As the wind carries the petals of a rose."
He began to lift her, but Gwen gasped -
She shivered in intense pain.
"I cannot move, let us only sit a moment,
My life force hath begun to wane."
Lancelot pulled her closer
And he smothered his own weep,
"I should have been here sooner -
That these wounds were not so deep!"
"Thou arrived here soon enough,"
She murmured into the dead air,
"I've slept little and eaten less
I had to, I wouldn't dare -"
She caught herself and swallowed,
A sharp tearing 'hind her tongue,
"That repulsive man Melwas."
Her voice drifting sooner than begun.
She sobbed 'gain, terrified and weary,
Not feeling anything but Lancelot -
His embrace as familiar and soft
As the gardens of Camelot.
"Thou art safe now, my precious Gwen,
Though I have something to confess –
I promised the gods I would leave you,
Our dearest Arthur deserves no less.
Guinevere had known this for a time
And could say nothing to protest.
Her body simply shook in sobs
And she wept against his chest.
“Let us have this moment, Gwen,”
Lancelot's whisper soothingly low,
"For now, I have thee in mine own arms
And I am not letting go."
- - -
I am an author of short stories, novels, poems, plays, and vegan recipes. I have previously been published in Daily Love, Indigo Rising Magazine, 34th Parallel Magazine, and others. A complete listing of publications and pictures of all of my dogs can be found on my website: http://ejloera.weebly.com
Labels: E.J. Loera