M3 Gerraint: Around the Table, part 1 of 2

It was May before everyone gathered at Caerleon to discuss the quest for the Graal.  Enid and Gwynyvar went off to do whatever it was the Ladies did, while Gerraint fell in with some old friends, some of whom he had not seen since Badon, three years earlier.  Kvendelig the hunter stood in the corner with his Welsh cohorts, Menw and Gwarhyr.  Old man Kai came alone, but Bedwyr brought his wife, Constance, who at fifty, made a stable older influence for the ladies.  The really old men, Pelenor and Peredur, both of whom had to be pushing their mid-sixties, sat most of the time, with their slightly younger hang about, Ederyn right there with them.

“Goreu!”  Urien came up and called Gerraint by his Cornish name which was seldom heard and which few even knew.

“Urien.”  Gerraint shook the man’s hand and stared briefly at the raven symbol blazoned on the front of his tunic. Gerraint imagined if one had to select a totem, the raven was as good as a dragon, or a Cornish lion for that matter.

“And how is the lovely Enid?”  Urien asked.

“Lovely.”  Gerraint answered, and Arawn, who stood right behind Urien, guffawed as only he could do so well.  Gerraint went on.  “With Gwynyvar, and Modron, I suspect, assuming your wife is with you.”

“Couldn’t keep her away, er, much as I might have liked.”  He laughed at his own joke.  “It was a chance to see her boys, you know.”

“That’s right,” Gerraint said.  “Your eldest, Mabon is squire to Percival and, I’m sorry, I forget your youngest and who he is with.”

“Owain, just turned fourteen and Agravain has agreed to take him on.”  Gerraint nodded, but then fell silent.  He and Urien had never been exceptionally close.

“Ask him.”  Arawn urged Urien from behind as Urien had also felt a little awkward in the silence.

“Yes?”  Gerraint showed he was paying attention.

“Well.”  Urien looked as if he did not know how to phrase it, though he had probably long since planned it all out in his mind.  “It’s about this Graal,” he said.  “Well, rumor has it that is not exactly what Meryddin said, if you’ve heard.  I was wondering.”  He paused to collect himself.  “Rumor has it Gawain came first to you on his return from Amorica.  Do you recall by chance the conversations you had with him?”

Gerraint squinted.  For all of his stumbling, Urien was a brave man and reported to be a decisive little tyrant on his home stomping ground.  Certainly, he was no fool.  “I don’t imagine there is anything I can add to what you have already heard,” Gerraint said. “Was there something specific you were wondering about?”

“Well.”  Urien rubbed his beard.  “I heard rumors that Meryddin used the word cauldron, not cup.  You don’t suppose he could have meant the Cauldron of Inspiration, do you?”

Gerraint took it as lightly as he could and showed nothing in his attitude.  “Don’t be absurd.  Why would Meryddin send men after some old pagan artifact?  Probably no more efficacious than Stonehenge, though undoubtedly less big.”  He laughed as if the whole notion was absurd.  Urien laughed with him while he excused himself, and Arawn went with him.  Gerraint watched him walk to the Welsh corner to talk to the hunter and his friends, but then Gerraint moved on so he would not be noticed, watching.

He went to the window and looked out on the young men, that is to say, the younger men outside, showing how stupid they could be, as Margueritte would say.  He recognized most of them including Percival, who was closer to his own age and older than most, Lancelot, Tristam, who was near enough his age along with Bohort, Lionel.  Then there was Gawain, Gawain’s three cousins, Gwalchemi, and, of course, his own Uwaine who were all in their thirties.  The squires, all teenagers, were further away in the outer court.

Gerraint briefly wondered if Medrawt at twenty-one was with the squires, corrupting the youth.  At least incorruptible Bedivere was there, with Mabon and what’s-his-name, oh yeah, Owain.  Gerraint’s own three sons, Peter, James and John were most certainly there, and that newly arrived and rather embarrassing son of Lancelot’s youthful tryst in the days before he crossed the channel and became joined to Arthur’s court and to Gwynyvar.  Curious how she forgave him for something that happened before her time.  What was the boy’s name?  Yes, Galahad.  About eighteen, maybe twenty, Gerraint guessed.  Couldn’t be much more since Lancelot, one of the old men of the young lot, was only perhaps forty.

Gerraint turned away.  He knew no more of the squires.  They were a generation apart, and he could not keep up with them all.  He looked again around the room he was in and he felt suddenly struck by the gray hair, missing teeth, and for that matter, the missing gray hair.  He bumped into Gwyr, Arthur’s court judge.

“Gerraint.”  Gwyr looked up.  He fumbled the papers in his hands.  Gerraint stood roughly six feet tall.  Most men had to look up to him.

“Can I help?”  Gerraint asked.

“No,” Gwyr said.  “I’ve got it.  And I have a message for you.”  Gerraint listened. “The queen and Lady Enid have arranged for you and Arthur to have a sit-down supper after the meeting.  Don’t stray.”  He underlined that and Gerraint understood there was to be a meeting after the meeting.  Then Arthur came in.

Gerraint: The Holy Graal M3 Gerraint: Trouble in the Dock, part 1 of 2

The wind swept Gerraint’s long dark brown hair around his face and made him blink involuntarily to protect his deep blue eyes.  The ship coming into the dock promised news from across the channel.  He already heard from Rhiannon, the Lady of the Lake, that something was afoot, but the lady gave no more information than that.  Still, he would hear soon enough, and it had to be important since normally ships avoided crossing the channel in winter.  Enid touched his arm and turned his attention momentarily from the wind and the waves.

“You look troubled,” she said.  After thirty years of war and suddenly three years of utter peace, the idea that “something was afoot” could do that to a man.

“Now, why would I be troubled?” Gerraint asked and smiled.  He kissed Enid sweetly and squeezed three-year-old Guimier in the process.  She was in her mother’s arms where she could look over the railing and wave at the sailors and fishermen.

Enid lowered her eyes.  “Because you look like you did in the weeks before Badon.”  She blushed a little.  The battle of Badon, the day the earth shook and Lyoness sank into the sea, had turned Gerraint into a bundle of stress.  Three years of peace came of it, but so did Guimier.

“Oh.”  Enid let out a little moan and set down the squiggling girl.  “I’m forty-one, you know.  I am getting much too old for this.”

“Never.”  Gerraint smiled genuinely and took the absence of the child to slip his arm lovingly around his wife.  She sighed and rested in his shoulder and they watched the ship together while Gerraint turned again to his thoughts.

They had whipped the Saxons badly enough at Badon that Gerraint hoped the peace would last the rest of his lifetime.  Bedwyr would watch the Saxon Shore well enough to remind them that Britain was not to be trifled with.  Kai, Warden of the North Watch had the Scotts and remaining Picts merrily fighting each other.  Loth had the Norwegian Shore completely under his thumb, and those pesky Irish had been quiet since Tristam killed Marat, or really, since Arthur beat back the invasion of old king Rience, now gone to meet Saint Patrick’s maker.  Peace had come, and quiet, and though the young men complained that there were no adventures left in the world, Gerraint did his best to convince them that they were better off.  His own sons, Peter, James and John, all of nineteen, seventeen and fourteen, and all off as squires in various places, had nothing to complain about except their mother having a baby.  They were pleased to have a little sister at last.

Enid broke free to catch Guimier before she toddled right over the side.  Gerraint thought how he named his sons and insisted on those Christian names, but Enid named their daughter, Guimier, and the little girl already had her father wrapped around her little finger.  He caught her up from Enid’s arms and she giggled.

“Look,” Guimier said, and pointed as the ship came to a stop and men began to shove out the plank.

“Wave to cousin Gawain,” Gerraint said, and Guimier and Gerraint waved together like a couple of three year olds.

“My Lord!  Majesty!  Uncle!”  Gawain shouted and hardly waited for the gang plank as he sprang to the dock and began to run toward them.  Guimier went back to her mother who put her down and took her little hand.

“Gawain!”  Gerraint shouted back, and when they got close enough, they hugged.  “And how is the family?”  he asked, knowing that Gawain had been in Amorica since Hoel’s funeral and out of touch with his own kin.

“Um, well, I guess,” he said.  “But I have the most remarkable news.”

“Well, come up to the house and you can tell me all about it.”

“But sir.”  Gawain started, but Enid interrupted.

“Good to have you home.”

“Oh!”  Gawain realized he had been rude.  “My lady.”  He gave her a hug.  “And, say!  This is Guimier?  You were just a baby last time I saw you.  You’re all grown up now, little cousin.”  He knelt down and kissed Guimier on the head.  Guimier did not know what to make of him.  Like all little children, she looked up to her mother for guidance. Fortunately, Gerraint had already moved toward the horses and Gawain did not dawdle.  He stepped on Gerraint’s heals even as Enid lifted Guimier to set her in the wagon with her nurse.

Luckily, by plan, Uwaine was there with the horses.  He and Gawain were the same age, just about thirty-three, and they hugged and had a good deal of catching up to do.  Gerraint mounted.  His squire, Bedivere, his sister Cordella’s son from Lyoness mounted beside him, and they lead the procession home.

“But aren’t you curious as to Sir Gawain’s news?”  Bedivere asked.

“Yes, but not impatient.  There is nothing that cannot wait until I am comfortable, sitting in front of the fire, with a glass of ale in my hands,” Gerraint responded.

When the time came, Uwaine was the one who spilled the news.  “He heard from Meryddin.”  Uwaine said.  “It’s been three years and no one has seen or heard from the old man until now.  Can you imagine?”

Gerraint rubbed his chin.  He could imagine it all too well.  Rhiannon had promised to keep the old man away from this world until his days were done.  He remained a potential time bomb, and Gerraint could not imagine what set his voice free from the grasp of the goddess.  Whatever he said, it could not be for the best.

“We are to find the Cauldron of Life.”  Gawain explained his brief conversation with Meryddin.

“You are sure it was him?”  Enid asked the obvious question while Gerraint thought as hard and as fast as he could.

“Absolutely,” Gawain said.  “Without question.  He knew who I was and reminded me of things only he would know.  Plus, I recognized his voice and that bit of a stutter.  No question it was Meryddin.”

“The Graal,” Gerraint said at last and took everyone’s attention.  “That must be it.  After all these years, the Graal is to be found.”

“No, I don’t think so.”  Gawain looked uncertain as to what a Graal was.  “It was a cauldron of some kind.”

“A cauldron.  A cup.”  Gerraint spoke fast.  “Let me tell you the story of Joseph of Arimathea.  I am sure you have heard the story, only you have forgotten.”  Gerraint counted on the fact that Gawain, like most of the Round Table, was a fervent believer in the Christ.  Indeed, Arthur’s rule was that no one was admitted to the table or even to the room unless they first confessed their faith.  Most did so willingly, though Gerraint knew there were some who confessed only in order to not be left out in the cold. Where their faith really lay was perhaps a question.

Gerraint told his audience about the last supper, and it was a story that resonated in the young hearts in the room.  Then, after the supper, Joseph retrieved the cup, and through a long, arduous journey, came at last to Britain where he hid the cup from the pagans who would have destroyed it and the curiosity seekers who would have treated it badly and without due respect.  “Evidently, now that we have become a Christian nation, God, in his wisdom, has chosen these days for this great task, to unveil the secret place of the Graal and make it known to all the people.”

“The cup of the Lord,” Bedivere whispered, reluctant to speak of such a thing too loud.

“Yes.”  Gawain nodded slightly.  “That must be what he meant.”

“You can imagine the healing in that great cup, the cup of the Great Physician himself, whose body and blood we partake of every Lord’s day for both our healing and our salvation.”

“That must be it.”  Uwaine sounded more convinced.

“Yes, Uncle.  I believe you know.”  Gawain finally spoke with some confidence.  “I know that after Meryddin, you know more things about what is and what must be than any other man alive.  This is why I came first to you, and now you have made clear what was uncertain and confusing in my mind.”

“It was a very short conversation you had with Meryddin, was it not?”  Gerraint asked.

“Yes,” Gawain nodded slowly again.  “Yes, it was.”

“Well!”  Gerraint sounded as if that answered all objections.  “Obviously, he did not have time to explain it all.  But maybe he picked you because he knew you would come first to me.  I’ll say, the minute you started talking I knew exactly what it was you were talking about.  At long last, the journey of Joseph will have its conclusion.  The Graal, what a wonderful quest that will be, and God bless the man who finds it!”

“Yes.”  Gawain nodded vigorously with his friend, Uwaine.  “With your permission, I will leave on the evening tide for Caerleon.  Arthur must be told right away.”

“You are welcome to stay and rest and refresh yourself,” Gerraint said, and he saw the reluctance in Gawain’s eyes, and laughed.  “Oh, impetuous youth,” he said, though well aware that he was talking to a thirty-year-old and hardly a youth.  Still, at forty-six he was nearly old enough to be Gawain’s father, so youth was a relative term.  “By all means you may go.  Arthur must be told, only eat something now before you leave.  Enid has been cooking cakes all day in anticipation of your arrival.”

Gawain stopped and swallowed.  It was the first he thought of it.  “Yes, actually,” he said.  “How did you know I was even coming?”

Gerraint winked at him.  “Don’t worry about minor mysteries.  You have a Graal to find.  Believe me, there is mystery enough, and I would say adventure enough for a lifetime.”  He laid a hand on Gawain’s shoulder and led him to the table.  He felt rather hungry.

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MONDAY

Gerraint explains his suspicions to Enid before he travels to Arthur’s court where, with Arthur’s help, he has to keep people focused on the Graal and off the ancient treasures of the Celts.  Until then, Happy Reading.

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Preview of Coming Attractions: April 10, 2019

The story of Gerraint, son of Erbin, in the days of King Arthur, will continue in the next book:

Kairos Medieval Book 3: Light in the Dark Ages

M3) Gerraint: The Holy Graal   13 weeks of posts

Gerraint feels his days of struggle should be behind him.  All he wants is to retire to Cornwall with Enid, his love.  But when ghostly hands carry a cauldron across the round table, he knows he has to act.  Arthur deftly turns all talk to the Holy Graal, but Gerraint knows he has to stop the older men from recovering the ancient treasures of the Celts and dredging up the past.  Christendom is only a thin veneer, and if Abraxas is allowed to strip that away, history might be irrevocably changed.

Gerraint’s story will begin again one year from now right after the posting of Avalon, Season Six, which will post over 22 weeks and  serve as an interlude between the end of the Kairos and Rome series and the beginning of the Kairos Medieval series.  Of course, the Avalon stories: the prequel, the pilot episode, and seasons 1, 2, and 3 are available as E-books, with the pilot episode free in most places.  Look under the author M G Kizzia.  Avalon, seasons 4, 5, and 6 will also go up as E-books as soon as I can work out some details… But I promised myself I would not turn this into a sales pitch…

First, we have two stories of the Kairos and Rome saga to complete:

Kairos and Rome Book 6: The Power of Persuasion

For those who enjoyed the Kairos and Rome book 5, Greta’s story (R5 Greta), which began on June 4, 2018, and which you can look up in the archives and read for yourself, you maybe realized the story is not finished.  Picking up the story several years later…

R6) Greta: To Grandfather’s House We Go   20 weeks of posts

Greta’s ward, Berry, and her sister Fae, along with Greta’s brother and Fae’s husband go north, looking for Berry and Fae’s father to bless their marriages.  They get trapped in the land of the lost, and the shattered pieces of the old god Mithras stand against Greta when she sets herself for a rescue mission.  Soon enough, the Iranian (Mithraic) tribes in the wilderness come to knock on Dacia’s door, which doesn’t have enough strength to stand against them.  And the Roman ranks are full of Mithraites.

Before that, as we did on April 2, 2018, roughly one year ago, we have the further adventures of Festuscato, Senator of Rome and all around cad, who is good at getting into trouble, but even better at wriggling out of the consequences.  That may be why the Emperor Valentinian and the Pope both tapped him to go to Britain and bring order out of the chaos that had taken over that former Roman province.  That may also be why the Bishop in London got him to take on a special assignment:

R6) Festuscato: The Dragon in Ireland   10 weeks of posts

Festuscato gets roped into providing safe passage for Patrick to get to Ireland.  Festuscato, knowing something of what to him is the history of these events, wants to see Patrick get started on a good foot.  That isn’t going to be easy when the so-called King of the Irish is against you, not to mention the reluctant druids, the Irish pirates, and the Saxon intruders.  The boy and his pet dragon don’t help, either.

 

 

MONDAY

R6 Festuscato:  Festuscato and the bishops relax in Caerdyf.  Before setting out, they are interrupted by a boatload of Irish pirates; an indication of things to look forward to…

Until then, Happy Reading

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