Pan Post 157 continues the adventures of the Knights of the Round Table during their stay on Outpost Finagle. Isolde of the White Hands has control over the dead bodies of the Red-Tabard knights, who died in the arena in Pan Post 139, and keeps them fighting against a rancor. When the bets are in her favour, she lets them die brutally. After she jokes that her husband, Sir Tristram, should enter he refuses and she believes it is in honour of the memory of his love for Iseult so she grows angry. He had won Iseult on behalf of King Mark in an Irish tournament held by Iseult's father King Óenegus and had an affair with her before being caught and banished to Brittany by King Mark. To prove himself he enters the tournament and Isolde bets against him. In the all-you-can-eat bakery, several kings are having a debate about the direction that King Arthur is leading Space Britain. King Óenegus himself is a man who yearns for ultimate power and wants to prompt the other kings into disobedience against Arthur. Morgause, Arthur's crazy half-sister, throws baked goods at him and accuses him of being evil while King Mark rises to Arthur's defence. Morgause is married to King Lot, who cherishes his wife's insanity, while his brother, King Urien, follows his brother. Princess Guinevak hates her sister, Guinevere, and plants the idea of forcing Arthur to do what they want by threatening the queen - an idea she sees grow in King Caradoc's mind. In the casino, The Black Knight and Andy the rockman are gambling at the craps table. Andy keeps winning while The Black Knight keeps losing. Feeling her daughter is ignoring her, Anglitora enters the casino to chastise the Black Knight. The Black Knight admits she has been behaving poorly but she is trying to be a responsible knight and she spends time serving Prince Mordred, who Anglitora thinks is her daughter's love interest. Suddenly The Black Knight sees her grandfather's apparition, Prester John, who has come to watch his daughter die. A moment later Anglitora dies in the casino. In the Religious Quarters Sir Caelia is entertaining herself by giving out ridiculous quests to random knights, including the Knight of the Red Cross, though her son, The Faerie Knight, disapproves. When Sir Palamedes arrives she grants him the quest of seeking out the unholy knickers of Morganna le Fay and he rushes off, with Newrias chasing after him.
Dark Times Part I
Characters: King Arthur | Queen Guinevere | Prince Mordred | Morganna le Fay | Merlin the Younger | Sir Kay | Sir Lancelot | Sir Bedivere | Sir Galahad | Sir Tristram | Sir Caelia | Sir Red Rose Knight | Sir Black Knight | Sir Faerie Knight | Andy | Admiral Ltexi | Gamma Pans | King Mark | Queen Iseult | Sir Gawain | Sir Robin | Sir Greene Knight | Isolde of the White Hands | Sir Palamedes | Newrias | King Óenegus | Princess Guinevak | King Lot | King Urien | King Caradoc | Queen Morgause | Anglitora | Prester John | The Red Cross Knight | Sir Scottius | Sir Britthomas | Sir Alistair | King Hoel
Camelot is a colossal sight to most peoples of the galaxy. A gigantic piece of hulking framework that could fit the capital ships of several important empires within it. Yet for all its immensity it looks like the crotchety old grandpa of spacecraft. Although in better shape than The Hopeful had been, it is still missing a fair few parts, including, quite visibly, one of its rearmost engines. Its outer hull is scratched and discoloured and the space barnacles aren't helping. As of this moment there's a small repair craft spray-painting 'humans suck' on the side of the ship.
Despite its bedraggled appearance, Camelot is still right at home amongst the mess that is Outpost Finagle. The space station is dedicated to nothing but pleasure and leisure and those two concepts are largely subjective, especially to entirely different species. As such the station is constantly being added to to accommodate new tastes. From the arena, to the aquarium, to the mountain of very mouldy cheese (best not to ask which people wanted this) - Finagle is an eclectic assortment of spheroids, discs and pylons to connect them all. There are so many pieces to the station that it is almost the size of a moon. Camelot hardly stands out at all. Except for the graffiti. In particular the cartoon phallus that is currently being applied after the word 'sucks'. Complete with 'spurting' action at the end.
One of the largest discs stands towards the very centre of the mass and has an invisible dome covering it, only just visible as lights glint off of it. Not only does this dome keep in the breathable atmosphere (which has purposefully added oxygen to ensure everyone inside is extra giddy) but it keeps the dangerous explosions within. This is the arena disc. A place for warriors of the Multiverse to clash and for everyone else to gamble in any and every currency imaginable, including, but not limited to; PCC credits, requestion credits, Republic chits and this weird paper stuff that can be set on fire very easily. Who uses paper, honestly!?
In the stalls is a tall woman with extremely pale white skin and long, dark red hair. She watches the fight keenly, her lips pursed into a thin-lipped smile.
Nearby Spectator #1: "I can't believe those red-tabard guys are still going! Look, one of them is missing his arm and he hasn't even noticed!"
Nearby Spectator #2: "I bet they're minor deities from some planet somewhere. You know what they're like. They get bored one day and decide to ruin our day by getting involved in our matches and showing off. I lost a load of money because of those guys."
Nearby Spectator #3: "Their odds of winning have sky-rocketed over the past six matches. Now you'd lose money betting on them they're so likely to win!"
The three of them look at each other.
Nearby Spectator #1: "That means we'd win MEGA BUCKS if they actually lose!!"
The woman raises her eyebrow. Keeping the red-tabards going was getting wearisome on her spirits having pushed them through two hours of combat. Making a sudden fortune by letting them get ripped apart soon might be an idea.
Isolde glances at her husband, who approaches her through the thin crowd of their stall. She is wearing one of her usual white dresses, complete with sinisterly tall collar and flowing cape, but Tristram isn't wearing one of his usual Earthly garbs. He's wearing one of the drow outfits they'd gotten from Caledonia. The men of the drow are the submissive and dominated of the genders and therefore their outfits tend to be more provocative. The chest of his shirt is wide open and exposes Tristram's hairy pecks and from his right ear hangs a large looped earring. Along with tall leather boots Tristram looks like a flamboyant pirate that just walked off of one of Finagle's cabaret acts.
Isolde: "I am about to make... a killing."
She waggles her hand in the air and the gamble-bot, a little floating droid, hovers over to take her bet. She bets against her zombified minions.
Sir Tristram: "How droll you are."
Isolde: "The match will be over soon. Perhaps you'd like to volunteer for a match yourself? I'll bet on you, I promise."
Though she casts a playful smirk, Sir Tristram's mood sours a little.
Sir Tristram: "I don't think so. The last time I was in a tournament like this was back in Ireland."
It is then Isolde's turn to sour.
Isolde: "Oh, I see. So you'll never again enter a tournament because you'll be reminded of the woman you'd rather be with?"
Sir Tristram: "Please don't be childish."
In the arena Sir Britthomas leaps at the new foe, a rancor, and is promptly eaten whole. Isolde snarls as she gears the next two for their own end scenes. In her newly bad mood she's going to make sure this gets gorey.
Sir Tristram: "Okay, fine."
Isolde: "Okay fine what?"
Sir Tristram: "I'll enter the tournament."
Isolde: "What for?"
Sir Tristram: "Because you want me to."
Isolde: "I don't."
Sir Tristram: "But you said--"
Isolde: "I wasn't being serious. Why would I want you to risk your life in there? But then you had to bring up her."
Sir Tristram: "But I didn't even say anything about--"
Isolde: "You won't enter the tournament because it reminds you of her. It shouldn't. It's like her shadow hangs over us all of the damn time. I knew I was the consolation prize the day I married you, Tristram, but I didn't expect to have her haunting me."
Sir Tristram: "Just so you know, I never wanted to enter that tournament in the first place. I only went because King Mark required me to do so. This time I'll willingly enter this tournament if it proves my love for you."
Before she can protest he's gone.
Sir Alistair is suddenly struck so hard that his body flies off into the air and ultimately splats against the invisible shield and gets stuck there.
She hadn't meant to get into a fight with her husband today but every mention of her rival in love grates upon Isolde's nerves. The love square between the four of them began with that once fateful tournament held in Ireland by King Óenegus. King Arthur had only just ascended to the throne and the lands were not yet united under his banner. King Óenegus was king of Munster, the large kingdom of southern Ireland, and his armies would raid the coastal kingdoms of England with impunity. To further his own agenda the Irish king devised his tournament to sow rivalry between all of the lords of the land and especially to weaken the trust between the new English kings Mark and Arthur. The prize of the tournament would be the most beautiful woman in all of Ireland; Iseult, Óenegus' own daughter. Though already married, King Arthur was obliged to send a knight to the competition. That knight would be Sir Palamedes. Likewise King Mark was obliged to enter but he planned that by winning the hand of Óenegus' daughter, the king of Munster would no longer raid his lands of Dumnonia. He sent his own knight, Sir Tristram.
Isolde sometimes blames King Mark as much as she blames anyone else just for the act of sending Tristram to that fated tournament. Tristram was never one to show off or bask in fame and glory. He was ever more a soldier than a true knight. His role was his work, not his leisure. Why Iseult fell in love with Tristram, of all the knights and kings there, Isolde could never fathom. But it was that love that spurned Sir Tristram to victory over all others, including that final opponent; Sir Palamedes. Had Sir Palamedes won, Princess Iseult would have been delivered to Arthur's court without any foul play. His honour as a knight would outstrip any of his own personal desires he might have had for Iseult. Tristram, however, was not so strongly bound to his knightly vows as he ought to have been. Their relationship began in Ireland but continued on in England until they were eventually found out. King Mark, betrayed and humiliated, exiled Tristram. He went to Brittany and that is where Isolde of the White Hands met her despondent and mysterious love interest. She, as daughter of King Hoel of Brittany, hired him as her personal knight until she confessed her love for him. He had then explained his history and she took it as fate that they should marry, rather than see it for the warning she should have. She never expected that her father should pass away and that she should be sent to his cousin - Arthur. There Sir Tristram became a knight of the round table thanks to his fame as winner of the Munster tournament and she, as one of the White Hands, joined soon after.
The history seems to stalk her mind. Memories of meeting Tristram. Of King Hoel's death. Of moving to Castle Camelot. And then meeting Queen Iseult of Dumnonia. They share a name. They share their hair, their pale skin, their striking features. Many days she wishes she could undo what had been done. Return to her father in Brittany.
The rancor is announced as the winner and Isolde becomes ridiculously wealthy. As the next match is then declared she takes all of her winnings and places it all against the challenger. Sir Tristram to lose.
At Mr Kipling's All-You-Can-Eat Bakery there is an impromptu council of Space Britain in progress. Sufficiently fuelled on sugar from assorted cakes, breads and tarts the table is becoming restless. King Mark is seated between Prince Mordred and Princess Guinevak. Mordred appears irritated by the incessant prattling of this supposed council. Mark thinks it's odd that a mind so prone to intelligence and cunning should find politics so frustrating. Guinevak, on the other hand, is revelling in the opportunity to be known as anything more than just 'Guinevere's younger sister'. While Guinevere got the appearance of their British mother, Guinevak takes the likeness of their Roman father, descended from the noble equites of Rome's elite families. This alone has always given Guinevak the idea that she is superior to her elder sister and that she holds greater genetic lineage with their superior ancestors. She always endeavours to be dressed with greater pomp than her sister and is now seated with a bulky, red velvet cloak, a delicate, and expensive, tiara and a dress adorned with far too many precious stones to be fashionably tasteful.
Guinevere is, of course, absent. If she were here this meeting would undoubtedly be under her absolute sway and Guinevak would be bristling with envy. Guinevere carries an aura of command and respect wherever she goes that no number of sewn-in stones would grant Guinevak.
King Caradoc: "Arthur has no clue what he's doing! In Britannia we could let him have his way. War is what he's good at. But out here we're supposed to be finding a new land to settle! He is taking us God knows where and we're going to end up dead because of him! How many damned aliens do we have to fight just to get a land that is inferior to our homelands?"
King Caradoc was the king of Gwent, in southern Wales. A small kingdom but an important one culturally as the old ways were still practised there despite the Roman influence and the pressure of Christianity. Though a devout Christian, Mark has always had a deep respect for the old ways and the pagan myths of his ancestors. For Caradoc, however, he has zero respect. Though not an outright villain, Caradoc acts in the favour of one person. Himself.
Princess Guinevak: "He and Guinevere only care about how many aliens they can kill. What we want doesn't matter to either of them!"
Even when Arthur is the target, Guinevak is always first to throw her sister under the horse given half the opportunity to do so. Guinevak bears a long straight nose that could have been worn by Julius Caesar[Ext 2] himself and she uses it to look straight down at everyone around her.
Then one of the kings stands up. He is incredibly fat, which is impressive for people of 500AD, and has a big, though well groomed, red beard. His hair is balding at the top so he usually wears a hat and his eyes are small and sly with a bright blue denoting Scandinavian ancestry. He may not look intimidating but that inner vikinger is exuded with every word spoken in his booming, gravelly voice.
Many lords nod as they all remember being forcibly subjugated by Arthur.
He scoffs an éclair.
King Mark: "You weren't forced, Óenegus. You all chose to be here. Nobody wanted to be left out of the riches to be found so you all followed Arthur here. Now that you have no gold to show for it, you're shifting the blame."
The fat king smiles broadly and condescendingly, a maliciousness stands prominently upon his bright teeth.
King Óenegus: "Of course a man who cannot even control his own wife would be the grovelling servant of Arthur."
King Mark: "Says the man that raised her."
King Óenegus gives a mock shrug and look of 'oops'.
King Óenegus: "She must have too much of her old man in her yet!"
There's a lot of laughing. Mark's most prominent opponents do their best to laugh as loudly as they can. From the corner of his eye he sees his wife, Iseult, get up from her seat at the far end of the table and storm out of the room. She gives a soldier a good shove on the way.
Mark then feels a gentle palm upon the back of his hand. He looks at it in surprise and then up at Guinevak.
Guinevak: "Nevermind, my lord. You have firm grounds to divorce the harlot and have her sent to a convent. Then you need to get yourself a better wife."
Guinevak's stare makes Mark uncomfortable and he snatches his hand away.
King Mark: "So what exactly is the proposal you seem to be suggesting, my kings? You want to run back to your lands on Earth like a bunch of mewling dogs?"
Caradoc has the decency to look cowed but Óenegus is used to more fear in his peers than this and he demands respect. He scowls openly at Mark with absolute malice. He was once the most powerful tyrant of the islands, able to raid even the lands of Uther Pendragon and King Cole. But then came Arthur and he was beaten into submission. A true man worthy of being feared would have died that day. But a bully capitulates and resents and plots.
Many had resisted Arthur's dominion, of course. Uther Pendragon had managed to coerce most of the kings under his sway but it was Arthur that forced the Pendragon rule upon them all. Most didn't think Arthur had any right to rule, others didn't think he was capable.
King Lot: "I don't think returning to Earth is an option."
King Urien is brother to King Lot and he ruled Rheged back on Earth. They had been granted their respective lands by their father, who had been king of Hen Ogledd; the Old North. Old King Cole, that merry old soul, had conquered the Old North and kept peace in those lands for much of his lifetime. Both King Urien and King Lot had resisted the dominion of Arthur Pendragon believing that they had greater birthright than Arthur did. Soundly defeated they made peace with their new liege to the point that they could be considered sound vassals. Unfortunately both are easily swayed by more powerful men and the most powerful of them is King Óenegus.
King Mark: "Urien, isn't that exactly what the king intends to do?"
King Urien: "He intends to fight for lands instead of colonising them. He is looking for new wars, not new lands."
King Lot: "And in case you hadn't noticed, we're not looking for a new land, are we? We're stuck on this metal monster!"
King Óenegus: "More importantly, why should Arthur be the one to rule these new lands?"
There's a general murmur of agreement, though not as enthused as before. Nobody wants to go to war with Arthur again.
King Óenegus: "On Earth we were stranded on our tiny island. But out here we will find a whole planet to share! We could have great kingdoms the sizes of continents! Each!"
Greed, and the lure of 'bigger is better and shiny is good', causes that surge of enthusiasm that Óenegus is looking for. However his parade is then rained upon as a woman suddenly stands contemptuously. Unlike his daughter, though, this woman has no intention of running away. She points at the Irish king.
Morgause: "I see the evil in you, worm!"
Óenegus' face blisters with red fury and his attention turns on King Lot.
King Óenegus: "Control your damned wife, Lot!"
Before Lot could even speak, Morgause's vitriol continues forth;
Morgause: "The angels tell me you are unfit to live!"
Óenegus is back on his feet, this time he looks like he might jump over the table to punch the Queen of Lothian. The woman then, however, starts throwing random baked goods across the table at him. After a baguette bounces off of his head, Morgause is restrained by a relucted King Lot. Morgause had been married to Lot sometime after the subjugation of the Old North in a hope that her alliance with Lot would keep the peace. And it did. Until now.
King Urien was supposed to marry Morganna le Fay but Morgan outright refused and even threatened to turn the poor man into a hedgehog. And then to stomp on that hedgehog while wearing heels. And then to feed whatever was left to a bunch of very angry tadpoles (which nobody was brave enough to ask how tadpoles could be angry or why they would eat a hedgehog). In all Urien believes she was sweet on him. Which everyone thinks might actually be true since her threat seemed comparatively lenient then her usual threats... and the following through of those threats.
King Caradoc, still seated beside Óenegus and not rising to openly challenge the princess, makes a nervous twitch with the side of his mouth, sucking in the air to make a sharp snap noise.
King Caradoc: "Seems your wife has been skipping her medication again, Lot..."
Most find Morgause's bouts of insanity to be quite entertaining, others believe she has a direct line to God while others still think she ought to be burnt at the stake as a witch possessed by demons. Whenever she sneezes people around her place much greater emphasis on the words 'bless you' than they normally would.
Lot struggles to get Morgause back in her chair as she tosses a bunch of digestive biscuits[Ext 4] at the Irish king. Once she's seated again she stares at Óegenus with a venomous pout. Lot sighs and sits himself down too. His rest doesn't last long as she suddenly lashes out and grabs a large cherry bakewell[Ext 5]. All of the people at the table leap to their feet and cry out;
Everyone: "NOT THE BAKEWELL!!!!"
Morgause freezes at the sudden yell from everyone out her and sees the desperate, wide-eyes that are glued to the bakewell. She moves it closer to the table again and everyone's eyes follow it down. She returns it gently and, slowly, everyone sits back down with relief.
Morgause looks at her husband, hurt by his lack of faith in her oh-so-deadly confectionary projectiles, and sulks. Lot, who is normally quite stern-faced with most people, melts completely at the sight of his wife's little sullen face. He gently pats her arm and she feigns non-acceptance of his endearment by crossing her arms with a 'humph'.
King Urien: "Seriously, brother, why isn't she taking her potions? Next time it'll be cutlery."
King Caradoc: "When she hit me with that spatula a few weeks ago, it really hurt!"
King Lot: "You, Caradoc, deserved it."
King Urien: "You kind of did."
King Caradoc: "I did not!"
The weasel-faced king pauses.
King Caradoc: "Okay, I probably did. But it still hurt! Give her the potion, Lot!"
King Lot: "Merlin has been busy and hasn't made anything new. And I wouldn't trust Morganna to make it. Morgause will settle down. Besides..."
He gives a sly smirk.
King Lot: "It's more fun when she's like this."
At her husband's renewed faith in her, Morgause grins widely at him. Without turning away, her left hand reaches out for a new weapon but he catches her in the act and decides to go with the nice approach this time. He takes her offending hand and smothers it with his own. He brings it up to his lips and plants a petite kiss upon it.
They glance over to Mordred who does actually appear to have died in his chair with fright as she stares at the bakewell with unmoving wide-eyes even now.
King Lot: "You wouldn't want your nephew to die, would you?"
Morgause slowly turns her head away from her brother's son. Arthur is Morgause's half-brother, they share the same mother but not the same father. She, and Sir Kay, are children of Duke Gorlois and Igraine but Arthur was the product of an affair between Igraine and Uther Pendragon. Since Igraine would go on to marry Uther after Garlois' death, Morgause never held animosity for Arthur, believing that her mother truly loved Uther and was only wedded to Garlois as a result of politics. Morganna le Fay, on the other hand, is daughter of Uther Pendragon but not of Igraine. So Morgause has never been sure how to address her. She's not a half-sister since there's no blood between them, even half-blood. But she is a sister of some kind. So a step-sister perhaps? Since Mordred is the incestuous combination of her half-brother and her step-sister, does that make Mordred her half-step-nephew? Or her step-half-nephew? Or just an evil abomination that needs a good cake to the face?
She leans in close to confide secretly to her husband.
And then speaks in an incredibly loud voice;
Morgause: "I THINK MORDRED MIGHT BE EVIL! THE ANGELS DON'T TRUST HIM!"
Lot glances over his wife's shoulder towards Mordred. The young man still hasn't moved. King Mark follows Lot's gaze and sees the predicament that Mordred is in and decides to check for a pulse. As the king reaches out and graces the neck of Mordred, the prince suddenly snaps out of his stupefied horror with a cry of 'THE BAKEWELL!'
King Lot relaxes softly back into his seat. He's a patient man but a man that believes in efficiency, reliability and pragmatism. Only his wife brings out the affectionate and romantic side of his personality and mostly it gushes for her. When no man would tolerate such an uncontrollable basket-case, Lot sees it not only as his charge but he great fortune to have someone in his life that keeps him on his toes at all times. The time she, apparently lovingly, put a severed horse's head in his bed was an especially lively moment. When she bought him dozens of new shoes, which were all designed for left-feet, posed such a significant conundrum he spent days searching for where she had hidden his old shoes. He had found one pair atop of Mount Snowden, another pair in a den of angry wolves and another pair were hidden underneath Arthur's throne at Castle Camelot. It would have been easier for him to just buy a load of new shoes, even just buy a lot of right-footed shoes to match the left-footed, but his wife's antics posed such excited quests that the easy option never seemed suitable. Unfortunately his favourite pair of shoes had been lost for all eternity as she had apparently mailed them to the lost, sunken city of Atlantis where they were probably being nibbled into oblivion by a bunch of guppies. He had, however, at least attempted to retrieve them but the superstitious sailors were too afraid of the legends of Atlantis to go snooping for it.
In all he loves his wife and couldn't imagine his life without her. The fact that his marriage to her had originally been entirely political was moot. He had grown to love her beyond doubt and that worked better to keep him within Arthur's family than the political contract could. And so long as Lot considered Arthur his brother-in-law, then Urien would follow suit.
But just because Arthur is his brother, doesn't mean he has to remain his king.
King Lot: "I think we should calm ourselves and simply discuss the matter without such heated words."
King Caradoc: "Or cake throwing!"
King Lot: "Or cake throwing."
He looks at Morgause. She shrugs in capitulation.
Morgause: "Fine. But does that mean I can still throw biscuits at him?"
King Óenegus: "No! You can't throw anything at me!"
King Caradoc: "Or anyone!"
Morgause: "Not even the table salt?"
Everyone Else: "No!"
King Lot: "You can throw as much table salt as you like. Later."
Morgause: "But just so you know, the angels will be very angry that the Evil Fatso isn't being punished."
King Mark: "Perhaps being called Evil Fatso is punishment enough? For now at least?"
Morgause looks straight at Óenegus and slits her eyes at him.
Morgause: "The angels think your breath smells bad, by the way."
Óenegus catches his own hand as it subconsciously made its way to cover his mouth.
Morgause: "And they think your beard looks stupid. Super stupid."
King Óenegus: "My beard does not-- Grrrr! Look! Arthur is driving us all to destruction and even if we do find a new land to occupy I believe that we need not continue our vassalage to him."
King Mark: "So you'll take free passage to these rich and expansive lands aboard Arthur's ship, will you?"
Óenegus is caught off-guard by that matter-of-fact.
King Caradoc: "I hadn't thought of it like that."
King Mark: "Obviously."
King Óenegus: "Irregardless!"
He says as pompously as he could muster. Nobody feels the need to correct his mistake.
King Óenegus: "Even if we continue to pay homage to a liege lord, that liege lord ought not to be Arthur. He's reckless, conceited and, frankly, dumb."
He looks around at everyone with a completely honest face.
King Óenegus: "Can you really tell me I'm wrong on this?"
Prince Mordred is the first to concede wholeheartedly against his father. He wants his father to remain king of all, but he cannot deny his father is reckless, conceited and dumb. Not just dumb, but ridiculously dumb. Mordred is well aware that he takes after his mother far more than his father.
King Mark: "Perhaps, Óenegus, you could at least wait until we have found our new land before you start sedition? You never know, perhaps you'll change your mind when we get there?"
The princess' voice cuts through the chatter.
Guinevak: "Arthur would never back down for any reason. Except for his wife, maybe."
Guinevak pretends to play with her spoon as she muses over planting that little thought into the heads of these would-be-traitors. She doesn't much care what happens to Arthur, so long as Guinevere is brought down with him. She believes could make herself an ally in almost any one of these kings. King Óenegus would be an easy mark and he'd see the senses in getting hitched to her instead of some other lowly wench. King Mark is on the verge of divorce and he only married Iseult to spare his kingdom, he'd marry for politics again she's certain. King Urien would probably marry anything that offered and King Lot desperately needs a new wife. She couldn't bring herself to marry King Caradoc though. It isn't his hideous looks, or his greasy, unhygienic attire or the nervous, sucking twitch he makes with his mouth. It's the fact he would give her over to a pack of rabid rapists if it meant he could make even the smallest benefit.
King Caradoc: "Indeed..."
And that makes him the most likely to do something stupid. Much to Guinevak's pleasure.
In the casino, The Black Knight is standing at the craps table. In an extremely rare moment for her, she isn't wearing her thick, black armour. Instead she's wearing a thick black robe that looks very much like a burkha but instead of a full headscarf, she has a thin, black veil over her face to maintain that air of mystery that her persona 'the black knight' requires. Beside her is a walking pile of rocks.
The Black Knight: "These are dice."
She holds one up for Andy to get a good look. His bright blue eyes peer at the dice with their usual aura of jovial perplexity.
The Black Knight: "And we have to bet on--"
She looks down at the disgustingly complicated craps table.
The Black Knight: "Something."
Random Guy: "Why not allow me to help you, fair maiden?"
The Black Knight: "Speak to me again and I will end you."
Random Guy: "Ooooooooooooooookay then."
He slinks away, the whole while her eyes never left the table. In his place appears another figure. Before the Black Knight could utter harsh words at this second fool, a the very familiar fragrance of nag champa[Ext 9] strikes her nostrils. She jolts her head up to see her young mother, Anglitora, smiling sadly at her.
The Black Knight: "Wh-what're you doing here, mother? I don't think this is a place for you!"
Anglitora: "Probably, but I wanted to spend some time with you."
The Black Knight: "Then you should have waited for me to leave the casino."
While Black Knight had sounded pleasantly surprised initially, she now seems irritated and she turns back to the craps table. She placed a bet since the other gamers were becoming restless. The table manager is a bright red robot-man that speaks with an overly enthusiastic manner, even when she lost. These mechanical people concern the Black Knight greatly for they have no souls and yet they talk and walk as any human might.
Anglitora: "Anglia, I have been waiting a long while but you didn't come to see me. So I came to see you."
The Black Knight: "You shouldn't have."
Anglitora: "Why? Are you ashamed of your mother?"
The Black Knight: "Of course not."
Anglitora: "Well, I must have done something to upset you since you don't want to talk to me any more."
The Black Knight: "You haven't done anything. I've just been busy."
Anglitora: "Busy being a knight of the round table, you mean? Or busy playing dice games?"
At the mention of the word dice, Andy perks up and waggles his own dice at Anglitora as eagerly as a slow moving rockman possibly could. He then, somehow, makes a bet of his own and tosses the dice.
The Black Knight: "Damn. Beaten by a rock."
Anglitora: "You shouldn't use language like that."
The young woman rolls her eyes.
The Black Knight: "Can't help it if I speak English, mother. Maybe you should learn it."
There's a sudden silence that instantly followed the end of the sentence. The Black Knight bites her tongue in self-inflicted punishment for being so cruel.
The Black Knight: "I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."
Anglitora: "Of course you did. I am the Asian harpy that threw herself upon the English knight and can't even manage to learn the language enough to have a carry a conversation."
The Black Knight: "Your English is perfect, mother. And you're no harpy."
Anglitora: "But that's what they say, isn't it? Is that why you won't talk to me now? Because I embarrass you?"
The Black Knight: "No! Just--"
She gets more agitated as she loses another bet.
Anglitora: "Your father misses you too."
The Black Knight: "You mean your husband, not my father."
Anglitora: "He is your father. He provides for us and cares for us. That makes him your father."
The Black Knight: "He didn't make me."
Anglitora: "No he didn't. You know the man who did. Has he been a father to you?"
The Black Knight: "...no."
Andy wins another bet. He gives his squishy human companion a glint of the eyes, which Black Knight has taken to mean he's happy.
Anglitora: "Have you tried to even speak to him?"
The Black Knight: "No. No reason to."
Anglitora: "If you want him to be a father to you, you might want to try."
The Black Knight: "I don't want that. Mother, can you please just drop the conversation? I'm trying to win money."
Anglitora: "I'm so sorry, my daughter. You are quite right. Your duties as a knight must come first, correct?"
The Black Knight: "I'm only here because I have to wait for Mordred to finish in a meeting with the important people. I'm not allowed in."
Anglitora's mood shifts from affronted to suddenly curious.
Anglitora: "Mordred, is it?"
The Black Knight: "Yeah, so? I don't see why I have to call him my prince all the time."
Anglitora: "You like Mordred, do you?"
Luckily Anglitora couldn't see her daughter's cheeks flush behind the veil but the Black Knight recognises a the careful, but unsubtle, prying her mother is now doing. The Black Knight would have been able to shrug it off if there was nothing to it. But...
The Black Knight: "Maybe! I mean-- sort of! He's okay. He's not a pompous jerk like the rest of them and he likes having me around. I think."
Anglitora: "Does he now~? Well, at least if I'm going to be ignored then at least I'm being ignored for a good reason."
The Black Knight: "I'm not ignore--urgh."
She loses again. Realising she now has no money left Andy picks up some of his own coins and holds them out for her to take. She shakes her head in refusal but the rockman just stands there, unmoving. Stuck between a rock and her mother, the Black Knight just accepts the charity.
The Black Knight: "Okay, you were right. It gets to me that people talk about you when they know nothing about you. I used to get so angry and got into fights. But I'm a knight now and I can't go punching everyone in the bollocks whenever they annoy me."
Anglitora reaches out and slips her hand beneath the younger woman's veil to pet her warm cheek. Anglitora is a whole head shorter than her daughter and far more petite. Anyone at a glance would have thought Anglitora the daughter of the Black Knight not the other way around.
Anglitora: "I don't care what they think. I only care what you think. My honour is nothing compared to my love for you. If not for Tom, I would be dragon food. If not for you, I would be... well I don't know. Nothing, I guess."
The Black Knight: "You'd still be you. You just wouldn't have a grumpy daughter to worry about."
Anglitora: "My badass daughter, you mean!"
The Black Knight: "Mother! Where did you hear a word like that!?"
Anglitora: "People talk about you too, you know? Especially your fellow knights. I think they're all a bit afraid of you."
The Black Knight: "So they should be."
She grins to herself.
Andy draws in his new pile of gold.
The Black Knight: "Alright. Seriously dude. How the Hell're you making all this dough?"
She looks past Andy to see a man standing beside the hulking rockman. Though she has never met the man before now, she recognises him instantly. A tall Indian man with very dark skin and bleach white hair. His beard is very neatly trimmed and short, as is his hair. Upon his head is a crown, simple in its design and made of silver instead of gold. Embedded into the front of the silver crown is one large emerald. The style of his robe is difficult to place. Indian, Chinese and Eastern European all mixed into one. It is made of a dull gold colour with a silver sheen to it whenever it moves. Large imprints on either side of the robe depict blue and green peacocks that face each other - a Catholic symbol of paradise and immortality. Both of which are traits of the man.
The Black Knight: "How-how are you here?"
Andy turns slowly to his left and then back to his right with an expression of zero comprehension. His eyes seem to say, 'I've been here for ages, did you forget?'.
The Black Knight frowns and feels anger rising. He shows up from nowhere and doesn't even bother to speak to her. Just stares at her like she's a monkey in a zoo.
The Black Knight: "Why are you here?"
When he speaks he has an Indian accent but it is well-practised English;
Prester John: "To watch your mother die."
The Black Knight reels but retaliates quickly. She tries to shove Andy out of the way, but only manages to nudge his torso back an inch, and leans forward as aggressively and intimidatingly as she couldn't possible muster with a slab of rock in her way.
The Black Knight: "If you even touch--"
There's a short yell from behind her as attention is drawn in her vicinity. The Black Knight turns to see other patrons of the craps game have moved away with surprise and reservation as Anglitora convulses on the well-carpeted floor of the casino. Most of the spectators seem to think the woman is an alcoholic or a drug-abuser, considering she's in a casino. A couple of security robots are already stomping over.
The Black Knight falls to her knees and looks over her mother. She can't see anything wrong.
The Black Knight: "What is this? What's happening!? Mother!"
She sees her grandfather's robe appear beside her.
The Black Knight: "Stop it! Stop hurting her!"
Prester John: "I'm not doing anything. I just came to watch."
The Black Knight: "What? Help her!"
She lashes out to grab the robe of the Christian king but her hand meets with thin air, straight through the apparition of Prester John. He looks down at them both with an unfeeling expression upon his face. He doesn't seem upset or concerned but nor is he happy or revelling in the moment. He's just there.
The Black Knight looks around and realises that nobody can see him except her. Anglitora manages to focus her eyes on her daughter and then she sees who is looming over them. Her eyes widen and she croaks as she tries to speak.
The Black Knight glances up to see medical droids on approach. The security robots have cleared the space around the two women. The two droids are attached to a stretcher and move on a single ball each. As they come up beside Anglitora the stretcher lowers. With them comes a medical robot. His metal is entirely white with a red cross clumsily painted on his chest. He is smoking a metal cigar and has a grumbling voice to match it.
Medical Robot: "Alright. What'd she take and how much?"
The Black Knight: "Nothing!"
Medical Robot: "Look kid, you want your friend to live you gotta tell me what she took."
Anglitora reaches weakly into the air and extends her hand towards Prester John.
Her breath catches.
One of the sections of Outpost Finagle is dedicated wholly to religious institutions. The area is patrolled by witch-wardens, such as Egnarts the dorf, who are there to ensure nobody starts whizzing their divinity onto other people. In one of the more grandiose churches, which really is dedicated to the God of Earth as though just waiting for the Knights of the Round Table to arrive, Sir Caelia stands at the altar and before her are several kneeling knights.
Sir Caelia: "Rise, Sir Redcross Knight. You are to lead this most holy of quests in His name."
The Redcross Knight rises but keeps his head bowed.
The Redcross Knight: "I am humbled and honoured to serve."
Sir Caelia: "Then go forth, Arthur's knights! Do your king, your country and your God proud!"
The Redcross Knight puts his helmet on and leads the other knights from the church with a grand air of determination.
The Faerie Knight: "...did you just make up a quest for those poor guys?"
Sir Caelia chuckles.
Sir Caelia: "I have to do something to keep myself entertained round here!"
The Faerie Knight: "Mother, we're in a place dedicated to nothing but entertainment. Surely you can find something better to do than send these poor saps on a wild goose chase."
A man in blindingly bright armour suddenly bursts into the room, forcing mother and son to wince.
Sir Palamedes: "AM I TOO LATE!!!?"
The Faerie Knight: "Too late for what?"
Sir Palamedes: "For the ultimate divine quest!!!"
Sir Caelia: "Ah! Sir Palamedes, of course n--"
The Faerie Knight: "I'm sorry, you missed out on the quest for the -- uh-- the--"
He looks at his mother.
Sir Caelia: "The Quest for the Holy Spring Onion!"
The Faerie Knight falters.
The Faerie Knight: "They seriously bought that?"
Sir Caelia: "It seems all the places were taken, Sir Palamedes. Perhaps next time. Or maybe I could commune with God to give you a new quest!"
The Faerie Knight: "Mother, please!"
Sir Caelia: "He likes quests! Let him enjoy himself!"
The pink-clad knight groans and stands aside to let his faerie mother pretend to talk to God. She closes her eyes and mumbles for about thirty seconds until she gets bored and then snaps awake, startling both Palamedes and even the Faerie Knight.
Sir Caelia: "AHA! You have been charged with the most ULTIMATE of quests, good Sir Palamedes! Only a knight as truly devout and skilled as you could tackle such a test of mettle!"
Sir Palamedes: "OH GOODY!!! I mean-- I am in your service..."
He kneels before Caelia who grins like a mischievous child.
Sir Caelia: "Sir Palamedes, by the will of God, you must uncover the most unusual and unholy of garments!"
Sir Palamedes: "Unholy!? Are we to purge this unholy artefact!?"
Sir Caelia: "Indeed! The artefact is steeped in dark, dark magic of the pagans!"
The Faerie Knight clears his throat in protest since he's one of those pagans and so is she. She just shrugs at him, entirely missed by the bowing Greek knight.
Sir Caelia: "This quest will be most difficult, good knight. If you believe you are not up to the challenge, you can back out of the quest after I reveal it to you. Nobody would judge you for that..."
Sir Palamedes: "I shall not back out of any divine quest, my lady! I am a knight of King Arthur! A knight of God! I converted from the old ways long ago and have swore my very being to the grace of his divine worship!"
Sir Caelia: "Then, sir knight, you are tasked with the retrieval of..."
She pauses for dramatic effect. They can almost taste Palamedes' anticipation.
Sir Caelia: "THE KNICKERS OF MORGANNA LE FAY!!!"
There's a sudden, dark silence in the church.
Sir Palamedes: "The... knickers...?"
Sir Caelia: "A most unholy artefact if ever there was one!"
The Faerie Knights: "By the gods, mother..."
Sir Palamedes rises, trembling, with his face in a scowl.
Sir Palamedes: "This is... a disgrace!"
The Faerie Knight: "Uh-oh..."
Sir Palamedes: "I... I AM NOT WORTHY OF SUCH A GRAND QUEST AS THIS!!!!"
He falls back to his knees and clutches the hem of Caelia's sky blue clothes.
Sir Palamedes: "Please tell me this is true! I am truly chosen for this most incredible duty!?"
Even Caelia is a taken aback.
Sir Caelia: "Yes! Yes it is you! A most arduous and dangerous duty!"
Sir Palamedes springs up in absolute glee.
Sir Palamedes: "I, Sir Palamedes, do hereby swear that I shall retrieve the most unholy of knickers in the galaxy!"
Sir Caelia: "You go!!"
She cheers him on.
The Faerie Knight: "Are you sure about this, mother? I really think he might die!"
Sir Caelia: "At least he'll die having fun!"
The Faerie Knight: "With a woman's underwear..."
Caelia casts him a sly look.
Sir Caelia: "Yes! And speaking of which, isn't it about time you got a girlfriend?"
The Faerie Knight is almost floored.
Sir Caelia: "I am expecting little faerie feet to be pattering about Camelot as soon as possible."
Palamedes runs from the church just as the drow youth reaches them, wheezing. He watches the knights go skipping past and whines;
Newrias: "Wh-where does he get the energy? Seriously?"
- ↑ French Fancies Section, Mr Kipling article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Julius Caesar article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Battenberg cake article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Digestive Biscuits article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Cherry Bakewell section, Bakewell tart article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Lemon tart article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Treacle sponge pudding article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Mr Kipling article, Wikipedia.
- ↑ Nag Champa article, Wikipedia.