In which Arthur lets things get out of hand
Smash cut to Mador accusing Guenever of treason, in front of Arthur and everyone! Malory helpfully explains that back in olden times, murdering a knight was considered treason.
“Well, obviously the way to proceed is trial by combat,” said Arthur. He figured he could get this wrapped up real quick. “Mador, you’re accusing Guenever, so you and Launcelot can duel…”
Someone whispered into Arthur’s ear that Launcelot was out of town on an errand on nonspecific duration.
“Fine then,” Arthur said crossly. “I’ll do it myself. Sword!”
As someone hands Arthur a sword, Mador protested. One, as judge, Arthur couldn’t act as champion for the accused. Two, as king, Arthur was far too valuable to risk in accidental regicide. The last thing Mador wanted was to be responsible for the death of the king. And three, Arthur was of course too perfect and wise and full knightly for Mador to have a fair fighting chance against him.
“Fine then, again.” Arthur threw up his hands, and turned to the gallery. “Can I get a volunteer to act as my wife’s champion?”
Unfortunately, while Arthur had a fair number of knights assembled at his service, they all had eaten at the dinner. None of them stepped forward, because either they figured Guenever was guilty (most of them), or they had a general rule against championing other knights’ ladies (Sir Bors and the rest of the Benwick faction), or else they were just pretty much cowards (Sir Gawaine, Sir Pinel).
Mador suggested they take a one-day break and then get back to it.
Arthur was all riled up by this point, though; all his knights were basically asserting they thought Guenever was a murderer. “No!” he bellowed. “We’ll adjourn for two weeks, and if none of you come forward and agree to act as Guenever’s champion, then I’ll… I’ll…”
“Burn her at the stake?”
“Yes! I’ll burn her at the stake! Then won’t you all be sorry!” Arthur waggled his finger at the knights.
Afterwards Arthur assured Guenever that this whole burning-at-the-stake thing wouldn’t actually happen.
“I didn’t poison anybody!” insisted Guenever.
“I believe you, I believe you. We’ll find Launcelot, get him to trounce Mador, it’ll all be over double-quick. Where is that ol’ dog, anyway? Where is Sir Launcelot?“
Guenever fidgeted. “I don’t know. I’m pretty sure he’s out of the country, though. Like, if someone exiled him from Camelot?”
“Dang it. Okay. New plan. Sir Bors!” Someone handed Arthur Sir Bors. “Bors, bite the bullet and fight on my wife’s behalf. It’s not unseemly, I’m giving you permission!”
Bors respectfully declined, on the grounds that as a witness in the murder case, it wouldn’t be proper. “I could go find Sir Launcelot for you, though,” he offered.
“Fine, fine, do that.” Arthur had tired of this whole thing. He waved Bors away and went to bed, grumbling about how Guenever should have just kept Launcelot happy, in a manner that could very easily be interpreted as implying Arthur knew full well that Guenever and Launcelot were lovers, and just didn’t care.
With a heavy sigh, Guenever turned to Sir Bors. She opened her mouth to speak, but he cut her off.
“Madam, what would ye that I did? I was there, at the dinner, and it would not be appropriate for me to act in your defense while I’m a witness. That is way outside my comfort zone. Maybe Launcelot is your man here, madam. Which is funny if you think about it, what with your having exiled him! And now you’re asking me to do things, and I’m like, are you going to exile me next? I mean, in so much ye have chased him out of your country by whom ye were borne up and honoured.”
“Not a big fan of your speaking to me like that!” snapped Guenever. “But whatever. Fine. You want me to beg?” She got down on her knees (down upon both her knees, in fact) and begged him. “Pretty-pretty please? Outher I shall have a shameful death, and thereto I never offended.“
Arthur walked in at this point. When he saw his wife kneeling in front of Sir Bors, he cleared his throat, pointedly. “You two want to get into a less ribald set of poses?”
A red-faced Sir Bors hastily pulled Guenever to her feet and assured her that kneeling like that wasn’t necessary.
“Oh, come on, Bors,” said Arthur. “I’ve known Guenever for decades and when she kneels like that it isn’t because she thinks she’s guilty. You know as well as I do that she’s innocent, which totally negates your whole but-I’m-a-witness bull hockey. Do what Launcelot would do if he weren’t mysteriously out of the country, and defend her honor!”
Bors groaned, because he really didn’t want to, but he was running out of excuses. “All right, all right, I’ll do it. I said I’ll do it! Unless a better knight shows up to defend her, I’ll do it.”
Arthur scowled, because he sensed a trick. “Will ye promise me this by your faith?“
“On my honor as the guy who won the Quest for the Holy Grail, yes!”
“Well, that’s a load off my mind,” said Guenever. “You want to get some lunch, Arthur?”
So Arthur and Guenever exited, in search of lunch. Bors exited too, but he rode immediately to Castle Winsdor, home of Sir Brastias and temporary home of Sir Launcelot.
“…so that works out pretty conveniently for me,” said Launcelot, once Bors filled him in. “Guenever needs me, I ride in to her rescue, she can’t very well exile me after that!”
“Here’s what we do. Day of the execution, you and Mador are going to joust. You take a wholly defensive stance, stall for time. It’ll both tire him out, for the more ye suffer him the hastier will he be to battle, and it’ll also heighten the drama. Then I’ll swoop in at the last second, and next thing you know Guenever and I are making out in her closet.”
“If that’s how you want me to play it,” said Bors. “Doubt ye not that ye shall have all your will.”
Back in Camelot, Sir Bors called a meeting of the Knights of the Round Table.
“Fellows,” he said to the assembly, “I know that you think that whoever defends Guenever is necessarily a villain in cahoots with her, on account of she murdered Sir Patrice…”
“Boo!” cried a random knight. “She is a destroyer of good knights!“
“Arguably yes,” admitted Bors. “But she’s also a maintainer of good knights, always holding banquets, and signing off on our expense reports. I’m convinced she didn’t murder Sir Patrice, and as such, I’m prepared to act as her champion.”
General uproar! The twenty-odd other knights who were at the royal banquet all huffed about how unseemly this was, and many of the others grumbled about how maybe, just maybe, Sir Bors and Queen Guenever were embroiled in an elaborate conspiracy to kill knights.
But as the surviving winner of the Quest for the Holy Grail (a card he played a lot if you haven’t noticed), Sir Bors was about as trustworthy as they come. So most of the knights accepted it.
In which Arthur lets things get out of hand — No Comments
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