Pan Post 164 opens with a brief stint in the Writers' Realm where Gebohq the Writer finds Al Ciao the Writer buried under a pile of oranges thrown by Britt the Writer. In Space Camelot the origins of King Arthur continues as he and his group pass through Berry towards the Terre Deserte. Two strangers, one of which is named Niall Gilroy, show up to speak to Anna Pendragon. Guinevere believes that they may be pressuring the king's sister somehow. Sir Bors explains that his brother and cousin are still being held in the Terre Deserte by King Claudas and in his overenthusiasm to save the day, Sir Palamedes rides off on his horse, Silver. Guinevere asks Sir Kay and Sir Bedivere to bring him back and the three of them end up on their own crazy mini-adventure quite apart from Arthur's quest. It turns out that it was King Uther who turned the Terre Deserte into a wasteland, along with the Knights Templar, but whether he was searching for witches or relics is unclear. As Anna and Arthur get into a theological debate on God trouble appears as a man and a woman are fleeing from Claudas' soldiers. When prompted to save the most at risk, Sir Bors opts to save the woman over the man - who is his brother, Prince Lionel. After saving the woman, Lady Bertilak, she offers herself up to Sir Bors but he has to refuse has he has taken a vow of chastity. His brother is then rescued by their cousin, Lancelot du Lac, who is instantly offered knighthood by Arthur. Lady Bertilak confesses that she will be in grave danger if she should leave the Terre Deserte without protection and asks that Sir Bors make an oath to keep her safe with him until she releases him from the vow, which his chivalry demands so he accepts.
Oranges Part II
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 | Prester John | The Red Cross Knight | Sir Ector | Bors the Elder | King Hoel | Sir Bors | King Rience | King Leodegrance | Anna Pendragon | King Claudas | Prince Lionel | Lady Bertilak | Nyneve | Niall Gilroy
He looks side-long at the hillock of very ripe oranges.
Suddenly a hand erupts from the pile.
Al Ciao the Writer: "It's origins!!"
Another orange sails across the room and lands on the pile.
King Arthur and his knights ride across the south of Brittany and into the heart of Gaul. The kingdom of Berry, which Arthur thinks is a hilarious name every time someone says it, is the land from which the Frankish king Claudas conducts his rule. Having plenty of experience battling with Angles and Saxons, another bunch of Germans doesn't give Arthur any concern.
Anna: "Hullo brother."
Arthur almost leaps from his saddle at the voice suddenly whisper in his ear. He turns to see his elder half-sister.
Arthur: "Anna! You look..."
He sees her pallid complexion, lank hair, dark eyes and gaunt cheeks.
Anna smiles and when she does, for just a moment, she actually looks like she might still be alive.
Anna: "That is nice of you to say. But I don't care about how I look any more. There's much more important matters than that in the world."
Arthur nods with a sincere frown.
Arthur: "I understand completely. Cheese farms. That's the future, Anna. And I shall make it happen."
Anna: "Right... you know, I'm beginning to wonder how much inbreeding there really is in our family."
Arthur's hair stands on end as he thinks of the many nights he and his sister, Morganna, kept each other warm.
Arthur: "Wh-what do you mean!?"
Anna: "We're all crazy. At least in our own special ways. Me, you, Morgause. Even that Morganna of yours is supposed to be a mean-spirited recluse. So I'm told."
Arthur: "You heard about Morgan?"
Anna: "I like to know about my rivals in magic."
Arthur: "Ha! I knew you could do magic! You have the... look."
Anna: "My magic is not the same magic you're used to, dear brother. But I think it will serve you well."
Arthur: "Well, bloody old Merlin never helps me anyway. The old coot just shrugs and is all, like, 'I'm not here to interfere, young king. Your destiny is your own.' He helps me become king and then leaves me to it. Lucky my cousin Hoel was there to help me figure things out."
Anna: "King Hoel is a very good man. Very... Christian."
Arthur doesn't like that she speaks the word 'Christian' like it's an insult but he isn't about to jeopardise this newfound relationship just yet.
Arthur: "I assume he treats you well?"
Anna: "Of course. I have everything I could ever want. He has treated me like a daughter. And now his wife has just given birth to his own daughter. They named her Isolde."
Arthur: "That's a pretty name. Very Celtic."
Guinevere: "Lady Anna. There is someone here to meet with you."
Arthur's wife has come up on the other side of Anna and though she speaks pleasantly, Arthur detects some concern in the Welsh queen's voice. They all look back to see a man and a woman upon a single horse. The man is seated up front with the reins, while the woman sits side-saddle behind him. Though neither of them look as unhealthy as Anna, they both have very pale complexions and do have a dark, ominous air to them.
Anna suddenly looks very human and very vulnerable as worry casts across her face. Without a word, she turns her horse and slowly trots towards the mysterious couple.
Guinevere draws closer to Arthur.
Guinevere: "Arthur. What do you know of your sister?"
Arthur: "Um. She has a twin back in England. Morgause."
Guinevere: "I mean... do you think she is in trouble?"
Arthur: "What kind of trouble?"
Guinevere: "Those two people... I don't trust them and I think they have some hold over Lady Anna."
Arthur: "The dastards! I'll go and slay them this instant!"
His hand reaches for his sword but Guinevere stops him.
Guinevere: "That's not a good idea. Your sister's business is her own until she opens up to you. I think it would be wise to see if she will confess her problems to you."
Arthur nods slowly.
Arthur: "Maybe she really is sick. They might be doctors!"
Guinevere looks at Arthur dubiously.
Arthur: "Did they have any leaches? If they have leaches, then they're definitely doctors."
Guinevere: "No leaches..."
Arthur: "Damn. What about syringes! Doctors always have syringes!"
Guinevere: "I... don't know what that is, but I don't think so."
Arthur: "Ah! A stethoscope! Did they have--"
He sees the bewildered look on Guinevere's pretty face and realises he doesn't even know what a stethoscope is either.
The woman with Anna has long, black hair that is so black it looks like night descended on her head. Her skin is pale and creates a sensual, stark contrast that Arthur admits is quite alluring. She wears a dress that appears very out-of-date by, at least, several decades. The man, on the other hand, appears very fashionable for the late 5th century. He has foppish red hair and his skin isn't quite as white as his companion. While the woman could be of any nationality, the man appears decidedly Irish to Arthur's keen eye.
Arthur: "Did they tell you their names?"
Arthur: "I wonder why a couple of Irish people would be here in Gaul, looking for my English sister..."
Sir Bedivere: "I think you'll find that English would mean you were of Anglo-Saxon descent, my liege. In the future they might call themselves that, but in this day and age, you're probably part Celt and Roman. You killed the Saxons, remember?"
Guinevere and Arthur turn to stare at Sir Bedivere, who has appeared beside them on his golden-haired camel.
Guinevere: "I think I understood about half of what you said, Sir knight."
Arthur: "Wow. You understood more than I did then!"
Sir Kay: "That's not surprising now, is it?"
Sir Kay now rides up on the other side of Bedivere.
Sir Bedivere: "It's quite alright, my liege! I believe that every brain is equally capable. So if you cannot understand something, it is not because your brain is at fault. It is because it is already filled up with information of a different sort. If you wanted to learn something new, you have to replace existing knowledge."
Sir Kay: "If that's true, I bet Arthur's brain is filled up with rubbish."
Arthur: "Oi! My brain is filled up with important stuff!"
There's a moment of silence.
Arthur: "Like cheese farming!"
Sir Kay: "Saw it coming a mile off."
Sir Bors: "We're almost there!"
The group look ahead to see Sir Bors pointing.
Sir Bors: "It's just beyond this hill."
He slows to better speak with his king.
Sir Bors: "Once we reach Terre Deserte, I'll be leading a small group away from the main army on a rescue mission. My lord, if there are any of your knights that would accompany me on this quest I would be most grateful."
Arthur: "What quest is that?"
Sir Bors: "My... brother is still being held prisoner here. My cousin too. We three were kidnapped by King Claudas many years ago and kept here until my cousin helped me to escape. He got caught again, though, and I vowed I would free him and my brother upon my return. That time is now."
Sir Palamedes: "Sounds like a worthy quest! My king, I request permission to join Sir Bors to save his brother!"
Arthur: "We'll all go. King Bors can lead the army, we'll be better use on this secret mission! We'll be like ninjas!"
Sir Bors: "What's a ninja?"
Sir Kay: "It's a kind of ferret!"
Arthur: "No, no it's not."
Sir Palamedes: "I shall take point, sire!"
Sir Kay: "I hope you mean literally. Many, many points. To the face. And by points I mean swords. Or arrows would do."
Sir Palamedes: "I'll gladly take any deadly blows that would save my king or my fellow knights!"
Guinevere: "Such a fine knight you are, Sir Palamedes!"
Arthur could have sworn Palamedes' armour swelled.
Sir Palamedes: "I'll endeavour to be worthy of your praise, my lady! Hi ho Silver, and awaaaaaaaaaaay!"
The knight dashes off on his white steed. Everyone else watches for a moment.
Sir Kay: "He doesn't know where he's going, does he?"
Sir Bors: "Definitely not. He's riding towards Spain right now."
Arthur: "Maybe he'll get tired out and come back?"
Guinevere: "Honestly, I think his enthusiasm might actually take him all the way to Spain before he slows down..."
Sir Kay and Sir Bedivere are quickly tasked with chasing down their wayward companion, setting in motion a whole quest in-and-of itself that would see; Sir Kay going delirious after being bitten by a snake while going to the toilet in a bush, Sir Bedivere getting a tattoo of a hippo on his left buttock, Sir Palamedes making love to an oak tree and general misadventures involving tavern brawls, wenches and sailors. And some sailors that turned out to be wenches. Or at least Sir Kay hopes they were.
In the meantime, the others follow Sir Bors. Anna's mysterious companions part ways with them and she rejoins her brother's entourage. When asked who they were, she explains that she doesn't know the gentleman. He was just escorting the lady. Anna further explains that she is in service to the lady, who is a powerful noble of sorts that relies on Anna's help. She refused to elaborate beyond that but even Arthur could tell there was something seriously wrong with the story.
Bors the Elder leads the main army on towards the defences of Berry, while Arthur's group turns off towards Terre Deserte. They descend the hill into the lowlands and Arthur is shocked to find a wasteland. There are only dead trees or stumps, the ground has been salted so not even grass can grow with any regularity. The shells of homes remain after they had been burnt out long ago and left to rot. On the edge of the Terre Deserte is a mass grave.
Guinevere: "This is horrible..."
Arthur: "Who could have committed such a heinous act?"
Arthur obviously expected it would be King Claudas himself, confirming the man's tyranny and his status as villainous foe.
Sir Bors: "Well actually, it was your father. King Uther."
There's a long and uncomfortable silence.
King Arthur: "This was obviously a town brimming with evil!"
Sir Bors: "Perhaps, I don't really know. King Uther helped King Hoel conquer Brittany, but they were opposed by the Franks who wanted to take Gaul for themselves. King Claudas constantly raided King Hoel's kingdom so King Uther took an army into Berry and laid waste to this area. But he didn't come alone, he was joined by the Knights Templar."
Anna: "So they were hunting witches, were they?"
Sir Bors: "Maybe, but the Templars are really only interested in two things; hunting evil and collecting relics. The last I heard, they're searching for the holy grail."
Arthur: "Now wouldn't that be a fine thing!"
Anna: "You'd think that if God wanted you to have it, he'd just give it to you."
Arthur rolls his eyes.
Arthur: "It's not about possessing the grail, it's about the journey to seek the grail and be found worthy!"
Anna: "Isn't God supposed to be all-knowing? He knows the past, present and future. It's all his plan, right?"
Anna: "So he should know if you're worthy or not. He should know if you'll prove yourself or not. So why not just skip the whole thing and give you the grail?"
Arthur: "B-because... because... it's about the journey!"
Anna: "It's because he likes to watch humans squirm and play his sick game, right?"
Sir Bors: "I don't think we have the right to question God or his motives, Lady Anna."
Anna: "Why? Why don't we have that right? Oh, I know, might makes right. He's powerful enough he could squish us for daring to quest--"
Arthur: "There's something happening!"
Anna: "Don't try to wriggle out of the argument-- oh, there really is something happening."
Across the desolate town they can see a gang of curs chasing a trio of people. When the gang spots Arthur and his own gang, most of them break off pursuit and head straight for battle against Arthur.
Arthur: "Just great. Where are three of my top knights when you need them?"
He grumbles and makes a note to put Sirs Palamedes, Kay and Bedivere on latrine duty once they make it back to King Bors' camp.
Guinevere: "Those people are still being chased, Arthur!"
Arthur has his sword drawn and is battling the enemy. He tries to catch sight of what is going on. He sees a woman and a man fleeing in opposite directions.
Arthur: "Can anyone save those two? I'm rather busy!"
He headbutts one of the curs and, much to his surprise, is rendered dizzy and with a terrible headache. It always seems to work in the action plays!
Sir Bors: "I can help but-- I can only save one of them!"
Guinevere: "You are a knight of the Round Table, Sir Bors! Save the one most at risk!"
And so, according to the chivalric code of knightly virtue, Sir Bors gives chase of the damsel. The man, Bors knows, is capable enough. After all, he's his brother.
Sir Bors speeds across the wasteland and raises his faussart, a weapon designed predominantly for use from horseback, and swings it down to carve through the scoundrels. Bors could only imagine what foul deeds this animals had planned for the fair maiden as he catches up to her.
Sir Bors: "My lady, I am here to rescue you!"
She turns and he is struck by her insurmountable beauty. She is youthful, with the features of a dear cherubim, and yet striking. Her eyes are large and blue, her hair bright blonde under the sun and her thin, white dress gives her an air of purity that is so rarely seen outside of monastic orders.
She reaches out with her slender wrist and he helps her onto his horse, seated side-saddle before him. He turns the horse and spurs it after his brother, Lionel. Lionel is several years younger than Bors but is so slouch in fisticuffs.
Yet Lionel is beset by several grown men of great girth. Even at this distance, Bors can see Lionel fall to the ground and receive a wicked beating. Then Bors sees a flash of steel.
Sir Bors: "Lionel!!"
A spear streaks through the air and slams into the offender with the sword, laying him out dead. From the east arrives a new figure to the fray. Tall, dashing and as bold as they come - it is Bors' cousin, Lancelot du Lac.
The man leaps from his steed, now weaponless, and engages in hand-to-hand combat with the gang. He kicks, punches and bites his way to victory before Sir Bors has even arrived.
The lady hops down first, followed by the knight.
Sir Bors: "Thank you for rescuing my brother, Lancelot!"
Lionel looks up at his brother, his face a mess of blood, cuts and bruises. Tears streak down his young face.
Lionel: "Bors! You-you left me!"
Bors kneels down to help his brother up, but finds himself rebuked.
Sir Bors: "I'm sorry, Lionel. I had to save the maiden."
Lionel: "You would save a stranger over your own brother!"
Lionel tries to crawl away from Bors, though he groans in agony from the attempt.
Sir Bors: "But Lionel, you--"
Lionel: "Leave me alone, Bors! Lancelot, please help me!"
Lancelot's expression indicates that he agrees with Bors but isn't about to enter this family feud just yet. He does as asked and helps Lionel to his feet while Bors readies his horse again. He has to save his king.
The young woman grabs the reins before he could speed away, her eyes wide and energetic.
Woman: "Please, my lord, thank you for saving me! You are most brave!"
Sir Bors: "I did what any good knight would do, my lady."
Lady Bertilak: "I am Lady Bertilak. Please, let me thank you... properly."
Bors notices a shift in her demeanour as her shoulders poise themselves. The cloth dress slips slightly from her shoulder to reveal pretty, white skin.
Sir Bors: "Uh, thanks is not necessary, Lady Bertilak! I did my duty, nothing more."
Lady Bertilak: "But, sir knight, I simply must repay you!"
Her hand slides over his own and he flinches.
Sir Bors: "No, no! No need, good lady!"
Lady Bertilak: "I apologise if I am not up to your standards, Sir Bors..."
She releases him dejectedly.
Sir Bors: "That's not-- my lady, I am not a man who requires payment for services rendered."
Lady Bertilak: "Even if I want to?"
Sir Bors: "I have taken a vow of chastity, madam. My body and soul is to God alone. I am foresworn against Earthly pleasures. Now, if you please, I must--"
Arthur: "All done!"
Sir Bors: "Ah. My king. You're safe."
Arthur: "Of course! I can brawl with the best of them! And, you know, I could have sworn some of the guys I killed kept coming back to life to help me! It was really weird!"
Anna: "Yes... weird~."
Lancelot: "Good king! I am Lancelot du Lac! This young man, Prince Lionel, requires healing. I notice two ladies are with you, perchance they know some nursing techniques?"
Guinevere: "How presumptuous of you."
Lancelot: "Well I--"
Anna: "I'm sure he can manage to wash his own bloody face. Get a towel, fill it with ice, and apply. I swear--"
They all look around.
Anna: "Yeah, I know there's no ice here. What do you want me to do about that?"
Arthur slips from his horse and helps Prince Lionel onto it. Guinevere moves over to make room for Lady Bertilak, though she eyes the other woman suspiciously.
Guinevere: "Lady Bertilak, is it? How came you to be imprisoned by King Claudas?"
The young woman flashes a compelling look at Guinevere, as though seeing the other woman for the first time.
Lady Bertilak: "I was imprisoned for my... I am ashamed to say it... for my beauty..."
Her cheeks flush red.
Lancelot: "She has been with us for some weeks. When we heard news of King Bors' invasion, she took the chance to escape. I was held up fighting off the hordes while Prince Lionel and Lady Bertilak ran."
Arthur: "You seem to be quite the warrior, Lancelot! Do you need a job?" :D
Lady Bertilak: "Good Sir Bors. I am persecuted by King Claudas and I cannot defend myself. If we leave these lands, would you vouch to keep me safe? To take me with you?"
Sir Bors is taken aback. That is quite the oath to make to a woman he has only just met. And yet if he says no, then that would be not be chivalrous. This is a woman in need of protection and he is a man capable of doing just that. He cannot see any way out of the oath without forsaking his honour.
Sir Bors: "I do hereby swear to keep you safe once we leave Terre Deserte and to take you with me until you feel safe enough to absolve my vow."
Lady Bertilak: "Thank you, good knight..."