M4 Gerraint: The Final Battle, part 3 of 3

Coppertone changed.  She became two feet tall, with great leathery wings, two little horns, pointed teeth and claws in place of her hands and feet.  But when she lifted from the ground to fly over the top of the house, she sounded like a fairy.  “Children, he said okay.  He said okay,” she repeated, and they heard Dyfyr’s daughters congratulate her like she just won the first prize in a contest.

“The other?”  Dyfyr nodded toward Belle.

“I’m a house elf.  An elf maiden just three hundred years old.  I don’t know why my Lady should want someone so young.”

“It keeps me young,” Enid said, as Gwynyvar stepped up beside Enid and took her arm.

“I was wondering what your secret was,” Gwynyvar made her first conversational statement of the day.  They watched as Gwynyvar’s handmaids got wide eyed took a step back from Belle.  But then one stepped up and gave Belle a hug and a word.

“I thought you were much too beautiful to be an ordinary woman.”  Then the other followed suit.

“Ready?” Gerraint asked Dyfyr.  On that word, Enid dropped Gwynyvar’s arm and leapt up on the horses’ back, which caused the horse to jump and need calming down.

“I am not giving you a chance to ride off and join the fighting without me,” Enid said.

“Darn,” Gerraint responded with a slight smile.  “She saw through my clever plan.”

Enid stuck her tongue out at him while Dyfyr helped Gwynyvar up on Uwaine’s horse.  Gerraint and Dyfyr walked the horses.  The handmaids followed behind.  They went out the back road, the farm road that Dyfyr’s boys had ridden in such a hurry.  It swung around to link up with the great north-south road that came up from the coast and continued to Bath and parts north.  They were well away from the battle, but they were able to get to a small rise and see some.  Gerraint, with his fairy enhanced eyes saw the most.

They saw very little movement on the battlefield, apart from some stray, rider-less horses.  Gerraint assumed there had to be survivors, but he saw none.  With his elf enhanced ears, he heard the moans and groans of the men who would not live long.  With his dwarf nose he sniffed and looked where his son James lay face down in the dirt.  He located Uwaine, missing an arm where his life bled away, surrounded by several Saxons who did not escape his steel.  He found Percival propped up by several spikes set to fortify the camp, a long spear in his chest.  He found Arthur, back against a tree, gone.  But Bedivere lived, still with a sword in his hand, searching among the bodies near Arthur.

Gerraint fell to his knees and began to weep.  Dyfyr heard horses, hard ridden, and thought to lead the women off the road and into the woods.  The riders came to where Gerraint knelt in the road, and Gerraint did not even look up.  He kept weeping, but he could not help hearing.

“I said it was the Lion,” Lancelot spoke.

“Looks like we are too late.” That was Lionel.

“Lancelot!” Gwynyvar called from the woods and kicked Uwaine’s stubborn horse to get back up to the road.

“Gwynyvar!” Lancelot saw her and got down from his horse.  Gwynyvar also dismounted and ran to the man, as much as her old legs could run, and she hugged him and cried into his chest, even as Gerraint wiped his eyes.

Enid also got down and came to hug Gerraint which almost started him crying again, but he heard another horse approaching and he needed to stand.

Bedivere rode up with the sword in his hand.  He got down and walked straight to Gerraint.  Poor Bedivere looked covered in blood, his white cloak turned red, soaked in blood, and no telling how much of it was his own. 

“Excalibur,” he said.  “Arthur made me promise to return it to the Lady of the Lake.  I had to extract it from Medrawt’s chest.  I’m sorry, I can’t find the sheath.”

“Arthur said that?” Lionel dared to hope.

“They were his last words.”  Bedivere killed that hope.

“Rhiannon!”  Gerraint simply raised his head and called.

“No need to shout,” Rhiannon said, as she appeared on a great white steed.  She got down and gave both Gerraint and Enid a kiss on the cheek, like a daughter might kiss her beloved parents.  She stepped up to Lancelot and he put Gwynyvar in Lionel’s hands and got to one knee.

“Lady Nimue.”

Rhiannon raised her hand and Lancelot stood, whether he meant to or not.  “We have a long road to travel, I think.  It would be best to dispense with the formalities for the trip.”  Rhiannon stepped up to kiss Gwynyvar on the cheek.  “I am so sorry for your loss.”  Gwynyvar started to cry again, but quietly.

“Mother?”  Rhiannon turned.

“Just me,” Gerraint said.  He held up Excalibur and it disappeared, and a long, empty box appeared in its place. “Now, Caliburn if you please.”  Rhiannon held out her hands and the sword in its sheath appeared and fit exactly in the box.  Gerraint handed her the box.

“Take this to St. Catherine-de-Fierbois church, somewhere down in the Loire direction.”

“Church?”  Rhiannon did not like that idea.

“Must I remind you that you don’t belong here?  Have you spoken to Bridged lately?”

“Why must I do penance?  You are picking on the girls.  What about Manannan or Gwyr?”

“All in good time.”  Gerraint waited until Rhiannon dropped her head and spoke again.

“Yes mother.”

“St. Catherine de Fierbois church, behind the altar.  Bury the sword beneath the stone and carve five crosses on the stone.  There is a Frank who must carry it before it ends up in the hands of another woman.”

“Once again, the sword in the stone,” Rhiannon sounded grumpy.

“Under the stone.  Five crosses.  Talk to the nuns when you get there.  They will help you and guide you to the right place.”

“There is a nunnery there?” Gwynyvar interrupted.

“Nearby,” Gerraint said.  “A monastery with a branch for women.”

Gwynyvar took a deep breath against her tears.  She looked at Lancelot and her friend, Enid.  “I may stay there.”

“Gwynyvar!”  Enid caught her words.  She was not going to talk her friend out of it.  She looked at Gerraint who looked very old and tired and imagined she might join her friend in a few years. 

“St. Catherine’s.  Five crosses on the stone behind the altar.  Take Arthur.”  People looked up at that last word, and Gerraint explained.  “It is better if people do not know where he is buried,” he told Gwynyvar.  “Maybe you and Rhiannon will sail with him beyond the sea.  Maybe to Avalon.  You remember Avalon.”  Gwynyvar and Lancelot both nodded, and Enid took Gerraint’s arm.  “Now, all that remains is, who will bury the dead?”  He turned Enid, and Bedivere stepped up beside him.  He intended to collect what special things he could to take home, to Percival’s family, to Uwaine’s wife, to Cornwall in memory of James.  Enid began to cry.

END

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MONDAY

The second Story of the adventures of Margueritte in France during the dark ages (after 697 AD) begins. Margueritte and Roland are married and hoping for a peaceful life together, but Roland is needed by Charles, not yet called Charles Martel. The Frankish kingdom is falling into a civil war, the German nations around the edges are taking advantage of that, and there is a new threat brewing in the south where the Muslims have overrun the Visigoth kingdoms in Iberia. Peace and togetherness may be hard to come by. Starting Monday. Until then, as always, Happy Reading.

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M4 Gerraint: The Final Battle, part 2 of 3

Gwynyvar got lost in her own thoughts and took a moment to realize Gerraint spoke to her and then figure out what he said.  She handed him her scarf, and he examined it.  He saw nothing to identify it as Gwynyvar’s, but Gerraint pretended there was.  He gave it to the eldest.  “Tell Lancelot this is Gwynyvar’s scarf, and please hurry.”

“All of us?”  One of the boys asked.

Gerraint nodded.  “There may be enemies on the road.  Your father will have to stay here with me.  A couple of old men will be the only ones left to protect the ladies until you get back.  So, hurry.”

“Right,” the eldest said and stuffed the scarf beneath his belt.  They gathered their horses and rode out with all speed.  Dyfyr watched them go before he spoke.

“I was going to be angry that you denied my sons a chance to fight, but my heart only says thank you.”

Morwen saw what happened and came up to ask if he could help.  “No,” Gerraint said.  “You and your few soldiers will have to lead the men from the town.  Get them all white cloaks if there are enough.  A couple of old men will be all that is left to guard the ladies.”  He repeated himself, and like an old man with a heavy heart, turned and stepped back into the house.

“You could have sent a fairy, you know.  Lancelot would believe that,” Enid whispered.

“I already did,” Gerraint returned her whisper, and Enid kissed his cheek.

Back inside, he saw four of Dyfyr’s daughters or daughters-in-law with their hands on Gwenhwyfach and her elderly handmaid.  “They tried to escape out the back,” one of the daughters spoke.

“Coppertone and I were distracted with the cooking,” Belle excused herself.

Gerraint extracted his arm from his wife’s grasp.  He stepped up and punched the elderly handmaid with the fist and adrenaline of a heavyweight boxer.  He felt frustrated, and wanted to be out there fighting beside Arthur, where he belonged.  The old woman went down, unconscious.  She was lucky that punch did not break her neck.

Gerraint turned to Gwenhwyfach.  “I remember this.  Your son will go down in history as the evil murderer who killed Arthur, the greatest King ever to grace this land.”

Gwenhwyfach drew up her haughty self.  “The battle is not over.  When my son rides in victorious, I will decide what history remembers.  I will not be forgotten.”

“Sorry,” Gerraint said.  “History will get some things muddled.  Most will never know that Gwynyvar had a sister.  Morgana, the witch will get the credit and the blame.  Usually, she will be Loth’s wife, and mostly Mordred’s mother.”

“Medrawt,” Enid corrected.  “But that would be wrong.  That would be incest.”

Gerraint shrugged and took Enid to sit at the table.  “A teaching tool for the church, all about the evils of incest and witchery.”

“You don’t like the church rewriting history, do you?”

“I despise it, and anyone who rewrites history,” Gerraint said, and he finally looked over at Gwynyvar.  She started crying softly, and her two ladies comforted her and said things like, the battle isn’t over yet.  He looked at Gwenhwyfach.  She said “Mmmph,” and looked like she could not get her feet off the ground.  Coppertone had restored the muzzle to the mouth and glued Gwenhwyfach’s feet to the floor.  Gerraint smiled.  Gwenhwyfach would go nowhere, and she would not even be able to complain about it.

Belle came to cry with Gwynyvar for a while, and she cried so sweetly, Gwynyvar hugged her and did not let go, like Belle became both her child and her rock.  Enid also went over to comfort her friend, and Dyfyr and Gerraint simply sat and worried.  They had food.  The women kept the table loaded with plenty of food and drink.  The children played mostly outside, since it was not raining, but sometimes they came in to pick from the table.  Enid tried to get Gwynyvar to eat, but she said she was not hungry.  She stopped crying after a while and kept fingering the small cross she wore around her neck and stayed silent.  

The people in the house could not hear what happened in the distance.  Gerraint strained and heard the general movement.  He guessed.  Medrawt attacked with his footmen, at least some of them, but he moved too soon, and they were not really ready.  They were driven back, likely when Uwaine charged from the fort, and the two sides took time to breathe.  Medrawt then attacked with his horsemen and followed them with his Welshmen or Scots or Saxons, but not his whole army.  They were driven off, maybe by the attack from the town, but Gerraint imagined Arthur’s horsemen, so many from Cornwall, were likely victorious, but devastated.  They probably abandoned the horses at that point to join the fight on foot behind the meager fortifications.  Again, the armies took time to breathe.  Finally, now in the early afternoon, Gerraint knew it would be the last attack.  No one would be spared.  Now was the time, if Lancelot was ever going to show up.

“I can’t do it.”  Gerraint stood and rushed outside to his horse.  Enid caught him.

“Not without me.”

Dyfyr followed and set about quietly saddling Uwaine’s horse.

Gwynyvar followed with her handmaids and Belle and Coppertone in her wake.

“No,” Gerraint said, and everyone paused not knowing who he was talking to.  “Coppertone,” he clarified.  “You must stay here to set Gwenhwyfach free in case we don’t return.”

“Can I get little?” she asked.

“Don’t scare the children,” he said, then he paused.  He knew she had already shown the children.  She showed Dyfyr’s wife and daughters.  In fact, Gwenhwyfach and her maid and Dyfyr himself were the only ones she had not shown.  “Well, don’t scare Gwenhwyfach and her maid too badly.”

Coppertone’s face darkened.  She knew that he knew.

“Another fairy?”  Dyfyr asked.

“Pixie,” Gerraint said.  He knew Pixies were not viewed favorably in some circles.  They were seen as akin to goblins since they lived in caves and deep underground tunnels, but Dyfyr merely shrugged.  He had not seen anything himself up to that point, other than a glimpse of Dumfries hidden beneath his cloak, but obviously, he heard all about it.

M4 Gerraint: The Final Battle, part 1 of 3

Gerraint lead the group back to the very back room where the hole was located.  He went through first, and the others followed him into the dark.  Day or night did not matter in what Enid later described as something like a grave. Fortunately, the so-called natural lighting of the dark elves helped.  When they arrived at the turnoff for the barn, they found two soldiers who gave the all clear.  When they arrived at the stables, Dyfyr stood there with two others.

“Dyfyr, old man.”  Gerraint grabbed the man.  “You need to come with us.  We are going to visit your wife.”

“She will be pleased, totally nervous, but pleased.”  Gerraint understood, but he knew Dyfyr’s house and table were big enough.  They had to be to fit all those children and grandchildren.  “I need to go now.  I have to help with the horses.”

“No.”  Gerraint did not let Dyfyr go.  “You, and maybe your sons need to help set the town defense.”

Dyfyr looked up into Gerraint’s eyes.  “Is it as bad as that?”  Medrawt had ignored the town because it seemed big enough to be a pain to take, but not big enough to pose a threat.

Gerraint nodded.  “It will be, and there is no telling who will come out on top, but if Medrawt succeeds, you need to set a defense against rampaging Saxons and Scots.”

Dyfyr joined in the nod and turned to the man next to him.  “Tell my sons they can help their father or follow the Knight into battle, their choice.  When the horses are all taken, tell any leftover able-bodied men who are not needed at the barracks to come and see me.”   He turned to Gerraint.  “Lead on.”

By the time Gerraint got the women settled in Dyfyr’s house, he could hear the sounds of battle beginning.  He got up to get to his horse, but Enid blocked his way.  “It is your Christian duty to stay and keep us safe.”

“Dyfyr and his sons are more than capable.”

“No,” Gwynyvar got up to join Enid in a sign of support.

“But I can’t protect Arthur if I stay here.”

Gwynyvar hesitated before she said, “No.  If we need to flee, you are the only one who can get us to safety.”

“You are the only one who can call on Pinewood and Deerrunner and whoever else might be needed to get us out safely,” Enid added.  “Besides, you have the Danna, and Nameless in you.”

“You know it doesn’t work that way,” Gerraint protested, but he did not explain if he protested about the use of the little ones, or the use of Danna, or simply the idea that Danna was somehow in him—she lived in the past, in her own time and place, not in him like next to his liver.  The women would not move, and Gwynyvar’s handmaids brought two chairs so Enid and Gwynyvar could sit in the doorway.  Then the handmaids went to stand in front of the two windows in case Gerraint decided to get clever.

Gerraint looked at Coppertone, who cut things up to go on the cooking fire.  Her eyes got big, too big for human eyes despite the glamour of humanity, but she said nothing.  Belle caught his eye and spoke.  “You are the only one.”

Gerraint threw his gloves to the table and grumbled.  “There can be more than one.”  They heard a flurry of activity out in the yard, and Gerraint thought of Lancelot, still a day away as far as he knew.  “Damn bitches,” he called them, hoping to shock them, but Enid and Gwynyvar just shook their heads and refused to move.  “At least let me help see to the defense of the town.”  He got frustrated.

Enid and Gwynyvar looked at each other, and without a word they stood and pushed their chairs back from the door.  They still blocked the door and Enid spoke.  “Only if you take us with you.  You decide how much danger you want to put us in.”

Gerraint did not argue.  He stepped to the door and Enid grabbed his arm.  Gwynyvar walked on his other side to box him in.  “Dyfyr,” Gerraint called.  There were men bringing in weapons and saddling horses all up and down the street.  Dyfyr was not far, and he came up with information.

“We decided the only way to defend the town is to help Arthur win the battle.”

Gerraint saw Morwen down the way, barking orders to several soldiers from the fort.  He saw a man bringing up two mules.  They would be hard to ride into battle.  He saw another man with an armful of spears, and what was likely his son behind him carrying farm implements, hoes and the like.  Probably the blacksmith. He turned to Dyfyr

“Your sons.  How many are here.  Where are they?”

“Five sons and sons-in-law,” Dyfyr said, and turned to call.  “Brenden.  Fetch the boys and bring them here.”  The young man ran off while Gerraint looked to the side of Dyfyr’s home.  His and Uwaine’s horses stood quietly grazing on the little grass that grew there and ignored the mad activity going on around them.  They were soldier’s horses, used to the clank of weapons and men running wildly and shouting at each other.  It would not disturb their breakfast.  Gerraint saw his and Uwaine’s equipment also untouched, under the small awning where it would be protected from the rain.

“Forget it,” Enid said and tugged on his arm.  Gerraint looked once at Gwynyvar and wondered what she would think when he told her about Lancelot.

“Here we are,” Dyfyr said.

“Two things,” Gerraint got right to it, as was his way.  “I need you five for a special assignment.”  He looked again at Gwynyvar but spoke to the boys.  “I need you to ride to Christchurch, the port next to Bournmouth.  Lancelot and two thousand men from Amorica are coming to Arthur’s aid, but I don’t know when they may arrive.”  Gwynyvar put her hands to her lips in surprise.  This became hope and help, if Lancelot could get here in time.  “Your scarf,” Gerraint asked Gwynyvar and held out his hand.

 

 

M4 Gerraint: Cadbury, part 2 of 3

Arthur frowned at being reminded of Lancelot’s absence.  “Gerraint.  You and Uwaine go with this gentleman.  Take the hundred loyal men who escaped the fort when Medrawt came.  I can’t spare any more in case it comes to fighting.  Percival, you see to the distribution of the cloaks.”  He pointed.  He did not know what to call them because no one ever wore such things before, at least not since the days of the first Pendragon.  “I am going to sit here and stew about what to say to Medrawt.  I will tell him I need a day to think about it.”

“Two days would be better,” Gerraint said.

“One day,” Arthur insisted and then he showed that he had stopped listening

“Father?”  James and Bedivere were still outside the tent.  They were unloading the wagon, helping the elves who were disguised as men.

Gerraint looked carefully at his boys.  They were men in their early thirties and had grown into fine leaders.  Bedivere had an estate on the bit of land that remained to Lyoness.  James had his home on the Channel that separated Cornwall from Wales, where he could keep a sharp watch for pirates.  It was only Gerraint’s fatherly eyes that still saw them as boys.  That was what he called them.

“Boys.  You have many fine men from Cornwall that you need to lead into battle, if it should come to that.  Uwaine and I have another task to deal with, and don’t ask.  Meanwhile, get the hundred men from the fort ready to move out and fetch me Morgan and his pirates.  I have a job for him.”  And Gerraint sent Morgan and his dozen men back to Christchurch with a message for Lancelot as soon as he arrived.

Uwaine and Gerraint followed Dyfyr, son of Peryf the Bowman through a shallow ravine.  There were trees grown up there all the way to the edge of town.  Dyfyr talked.  “I told Captain Gweir all those years ago he needed to cut the trees here.  A whole army could sneak up to the edge of town without ever being seen from the fort.  He said the Lady Gwynyvar would prefer to see the green and was not concerned about armies.”  Dyfyr shrugged as they entered the town.

Most of the time got spent meeting Dyfyr’s wife and sons and their wives, and grandsons, but they found the shed soon enough.  It had been pushed up to the steep hillside beneath the fort wall.  The man who lived there had no idea the back of his shed could be torn out and reveal a hole in the hill.  Dyfyr assured them the man was on their side.  In fact, he said he had several hundred men, most of the men in the town, who were prepared to follow the soldiers and retake the fort.”

Gerraint looked into the dark hole and smelled the odor of mold.  “After you,” Gerraint said.

“By no means.  After you,” Uwaine responded.

“Please be my guest.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”

Dyfyr and the man Twech came back with two lit torches, and Dyfyr stepped right in.  “Careful, it may be wet in places.”

“Whisper,” Gerraint said.  “We don’t want to give ourselves away.”  He followed Dyfyr.  Twech and Uwaine brought up the rear.

They went up a ramp at first, one that looked like a shaft from an old mine.  They turned back and forth a couple of times before they came to the wall above.  There, they had to climb a dozen stairs, which were wood, but in surprisingly good shape after all the years.  The rest of the tunnel went through the wall itself, on ground level where the building stones were braced against collapse.  They found a couple of places where they had to bend under bowed braces or step over a fallen brace, but for the most part, the tunnel appeared in good shape.  Dyfyr pointed out the three small side tunnels that went to the stables, the barn and the Great Hall.  When they climbed back down and got back outside, Gerraint had to seriously stretch his back.  He had his head ducked most of the time; the tunnel through the wall not being as tall as his six feet.

“I’ll take the Great Hall with the objective of securing Gwynyvar, and after that, grabbing Medrawt if possible.  Uwaine, you take the Barn with the bulk of the men.  That tunnel seems to be in the best shape.  Dyfyr, if you are up for it, you might take the stables with a few men to prevent Medrawt or his men from escaping on horseback.”

“I can do that,” Dyfyr said.  “Good plan.”

“Fine.  Uwaine can go fetch the soldiers, and I’ll relax and see if Dyfyr’s wife is a good cook.”

“I can do that,” Uwaine said, and without too much sarcasm, added, “Good plan.”

At sundown, Gerraint asked Dumfries, the dark elf King, if his people could set some imitation of natural lights in the tunnels for the poor humans who couldn’t see past their noses in the dark.  Dumfries nodded and laughed and also checked the tunnel to make sure it would not collapse somewhere along the line.  Finally, he checked the ends of the tunnels and made sure they would collapse when struck with the hammer.

“A bit of cheating,” Dumfries said.

“I know, but around the edges.”  Gerraint thanked the dark elf. “Like these white cloaks, it should keep things straight, and help, but the men will still have to do their own fighting.”

Dumfries understood.  He waited quietly in his long dark cloak and oversized hood, which made it very hard to see what this presumed man looked like, especially in the dim light beside the thin wall that stood between the men and the Great Hall.

Beginning about two hours before sunup, white cloaked men in twos and threes made their way to the workman’s shed where they worked their way up the hill and down the tunnel to their station.  Gerraint gave strict instructions to ignore the rats and spiders, and above all go quietly because too much noise, like talking, or a sudden noise like a shout, might bring the roof down.  The men were exceptionally quiet and watched where they put their feet and hands.

  Gerraint had thirty men with him, including some soldiers from the fort, who knew the inside layout of the Great Hall.  They waited at the long end of the tunnel where it snaked around the east wall and into the north wall.  Dyfyr had about as many, mostly men who knew horses.  They got ready to break out into the stables.  The bulk of the men, including most of the soldiers went with Uwaine.  When they came out of the barn, he had some assigned to go straight up to the walls of the fort.  The rest of the men were to head for the barracks where they hoped the enemy would still be asleep.

“Now,” Dumfries said as he put his back to the wall to keep out of the way.  Goblins had an unerring sense of timing, which kept them from being caught out in the sun.  Gerraint knew they were about thirty minutes from sunup, and he tapped the two big fellows with the sledgehammers on the shoulders.  It took only three strikes for the wall to tumble down, but each hit echoed horrendously.

“At least the others will hear,” Gerraint mumbled, and just before he stepped through the hole, he heard the sound of hammers echo back to him.

They stepped out into a windowless dressing room at the back of the ground floor, where the building butted up to the wall.  Ten men were assigned to head for the stairs and the second floor where they were to clean out any guards and find Gwynyvar.  Ten men took the ground floor rooms, while ten followed Gerraint to the Great Hall itself.  Gerraint reasoned Medrawt and his commanders might be breaking their fast and preparing for a new day of jerkiness.

“Never underestimate the cleverness of a power-hungry jerk,” he told his men.  “Holding women hostage might just be the beginning.”  Several men growled.  That rankled against their every Christian nerve.  What kind of a Pendragon would Medrawt be when he showed himself willing to go against everything Arthur fought for—every ideal of the Round Table?

Gerraint moved quickly through the rooms deemed least likely to be occupied.  They picked up three prisoners in the guard room, soldiers from the fort known to the men who were with Gerraint.  They had just come off their shift and were groggy with sleep.  “Medrawt is a loser,” Gerraint told them.  “Think carefully which side you really want to be on.”  The men gave them no trouble.

They briefly heard a scuffle upstairs, and some shouts, as Gerraint and six men burst into the Great Hall.  Medrawt was there as expected, but he ran to the front door and did not pause to give any orders.  Three of Medrawt’s commanders followed the coward, but the other three drew their swords against the intruders, and there were six guards in the big room as well.  Nine on seven were not the worst odds when there were tables and chairs and other furniture to get in the way. In a moment, though, seven more of Gerraint’s men came from the downstairs door on the other side of the dais, and nine on fourteen made much better odds.  The guards and one surviving commander, a big, red-headed Saxon surrendered.

Gerraint wanted to follow Medrawt, but his first duty was to Gwynyvar.  Besides, when he looked out the front door of the Great Hall, he saw men running everywhere in a kind of mad dance and fighting in pockets here and there that threatened to overtake the whole courtyard.  He went back in and said only, “Gwynyvar?”

Eight women came into the Great Hall, escorted by a half-dozen of Gerraint’s men.  Gerraint got surprised when one of the women ran to him and threw her arms around him.  “I was hoping it was you,” she said.

Gerraint backed her up. “Enid, what are you doing here?”  He looked at the five ladies in waiting.  Two were with Gwynyvar, but two of them were Belle and Coppertone, disguised with glamours to appear human.  The other one was an old woman who was no doubt there for Gwenhwyfach.  Gerraint looked at Gwenhwyfach who had an angry, disappointed and somewhat defeated look in her face.  Enid talked.

“I came up to be with Gwynyvar and wait for your return.  You know how lovely Cadbury is in the Spring.  We were having a wonderful time until Gwenhwyfach showed up and ruined everything.  But Goreu, where is Arthur?”

“Busy,” Gerraint said, and turned her to his side after a peck on her lips.  He stepped to Gwenhwyfach.  “What did you think you were doing?  Don’t you know this will not end well?”

“For you, perhaps.”  Gwenhwyfach drew herself up and found some haughtiness to cover her face.  “Meryddin made everything clear to me.  Arthur’s son will be a great man, remembered by all of history.”

“He will,” Gerraint agreed.  “As a murdering, power hungry, kidnapping fool,” and he thought Merlin had one last card to play after all.

“What?” Gwenhwyfach arched her back.

“Sit down and shut up,” Gerraint said.

“What?” Gwenhwyfach wasn’t moving.

“SIT,” Gerraint commanded, and Enid and Gwynyvar stepped up and grabbed Gwenhwyfach’s arms.  They dragged her to a chair at the table and threw her into it.  

“You will suffer,” Gwenhwyfach threatened.

“Coppertone, please make her shut up,” Gerraint said, as he stepped up to the prisoners.