Friday, August 19, 2005

Fantasy Revealed, v

Fantasy Revealed, part v
By H. A. Handy
Copyright (c) 2005 by H.A. Handy


“Do not endeavor to try and mock me,” English said. He was trembling with rage as he stared at the king.

“Mock you? Mock you? May the heavens forbid such a thing...Lord English. If memory serves me correctly, I made you a lord of Avalon and gave you lands for exceptional service in battle once. If I gave you the title, I can just as easily revoke it!” King Arthur was standing with his feet braced, his hands open and loose at his side, but he seemed poised for grappling. I had never thought of King Arthur as a dangerous man before, but, really, why couldn’t he have been? He was a king who had served in battle and he was also a warrior; most of the time I read the story I was always interested in the romance and not the fighting. Now, standing where I was and hearing his words, seeing his face, made me just a little frightened. What made it even more frightening was the fact I was ever there!

“You wouldn’t dare!” Lord English hissed. He had blanched now and was even more intimidating, at least to me.

“Oh wouldn’t I?”

The two men stared at each other for ages. I discovered I was holding my breath, and looked over to Elise and saw she was tense, white really. Dremor was watching the two men carefully. The other elves, on both sides, appeared poised to attack one another. Suddenly I wished to be back safely in my living room dreaming up these type of scenarios instead of actually living one!

“Please, please,” Fredrick said, as he moved carefully between the two. “Much is happening in our land, it is affecting all of us,” he said. “Please, let us be calm. We have a guest,” he said, turning to look at me with a very disarming smile, “and we should never frighten guests as we are obviously doing.”

“This isn’t over,” Lord English said, loosening his shoulders with a shake.

“Yes, it is,” replied the king, and the knot of fear grew even tighter in my stomach. Dremor’s grasp of my elbow grew just a little more firm. “You are no longer a lord of Avalon. I rescind the award of title, and land.” A paper appeared floating in mid air between Lord English and King Arthur. It turned upon itself and split in two, then vanished in a mass of sparkling dots that reminded me of a Saturday morning cartoon effect.

English was livid now. He was clenching and un-clenching his fists so quickly it was as if he was pumping up to throw a punch. But he didn’t. Instead he wheeled around, mounted his horse and rode away – his elven guard looked at him and then glanced at me, and then King Arthur.

“You may return to your place in the army, of you may follow him,” Arthur was saying. “If you follow him, Avalon’s protection will not be with you.” Two guards dismounted and knelt before King Arthur, but the rest went after Lord English.

Dremor relaxed a little and let us go as King Arthur came back to where we were standing. “Forgive us for our foolishness this day,” King Arthur said to me softly, deeply. “Some things must be done quickly, and I cannot have someone undermining my authority.” I thought this part was said for Elise’s benefit more than mine. She was white as a ghost. “Come daughter, I shall ferry you home!” the king said with a flourish of his arm and he was smiling brightly, though he was observing Elise very closely. Elise took a staggering step toward her father and then seemed to snap out of something, because she smiled and color was slowly beginning to come back into her face. The hand that reached out to her father was trembling I saw.

When King Arthur turned, his daughter’s hand in his own, the people who had gathered cheered. I heard several shouts of “English is gone” mixed with “Long live the king” and “I just know he is in league with the shadows!” King Arthur lifted Elise easily into his saddle, side-saddle of course, and waving and nodding to the crowd who was still cheering, he headed through the gate and into Avalon proper. Dremor, the dogs, and I followed after.

There wasn’t much difference between outside the wall and inside as far as I could tell. There were a number of more well-dressed people, but the majority was still just peasants, shop keepers mostly, trying to make a living just like back in the 21st Century. Still, there was a general happiness in the faces I saw in comparison to the people I met on the street back home. Perhaps I was having a bout of the idea of the rustic-people-know-how-to-really-live. Whatever it was, there were very few pre-occupied faces I saw. Most were beaming and looked genuinely happy. What would they do when we had entered the castle? Would their faces fall and they go back to showing how the honestly felt rather than what they thought they should feel and show for the royalty? I couldn’t help but wonder if some of those thoughts ever went through the king’s mind as he waved and spoke to several people. A vender of vegetables rushed forward and gave the king something that looked like a pear. King Arthur bit into it happily and patted the man on the back and asked how his stall was doing lately. I didn’t catch the reply because Fredrick was suddenly beside me.

“I’m sorry you had to meet us under these conditions,” he said in a softer tone. He glanced up at Dremor with a quizzical look. “Lord English has been trying to play both ends against the middle. Several warned him his intrigues were going to get him into trouble, but he just wouldn’t listen.” Fredrick shook his head and the mass of blond and red curls swayed like seaweed on top of his head. I know the situation had been serious, but his curls nearly made me burst out laughing. “When we are back to the castle and you are refreshed, we will have food and talk f what needs to be done.” Fredrick bowed to me and disappeared with a soft pop. I jumped, and Enyo and Ella woofed. Dremor chuckled and slid his arm through mine.

“He does that,” he said, “it is just something you get used to.” Even though we were walking toward the castle, it still didn’t seem any closer and, frankly, my feet were hurting. It was probably because I hadn’t done so much walking on the ground without tennies that my feet just didn’t know how to handle the ground. All I had on my feet were thread bare slipper scuffs I had had for years. I wished we could just pop to the castle like Fredrick.

And we did. I mean we, because Dremor was with me looking just as shocked as I was.

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