Hic Iacet Arcturus Rex Quondam Rexque Futurus
The tension grew as the eerie silence continued. Who would make the first move?
At the front of the Britons, a figure stood out among the rest. He sat high atop a large white horse which was pawing nervously and eagerly at the ground. He was tall with white, wavy, grizzled hair that fell to his shoulders. His blue eyes were wise and old with experience. He has seen many good men die fighting. You could tell he was strong and courageous by the gleam in his eyes and the way he sat proudly upon his horse. The man patted the horse's neck and then turned to look back at his men.
Their faces were hard, stern, and ready. He knew they would follow him to their deaths if he asked for it. What loyal men he had, he thought to himself.
The man turned his horse around to face his men and began to speak. His voice was loud, powerful and commanding, yet at the same time it was soft and understanding. The men listened to this voice carefully, attentively.
"For too long have we Britons lived in fear." he paused shortly. "For too long have we been threatened by these invaders. For too long have our homes and lives been stolen away from us. For too long have our families been slaughtered while we were out fighting for their dear lives. Too long."
He stood in front of them for a moment, thinking of what to say next. It didn't matter what he said, he knew, for these men loved him and even if he told them they were going to fight a lost cause to their deaths, many still would follow him into battle. But he owed them more than that. He owed them a cause, and he owed them his words.
"We are here today to fight for our safety. To fight for our homes, our lives, our families. Our country needs us. We, the fearless men who are not afraid to fight for what is right and good, are needed. And we shall answer. And we shall try our best to prevail. This is our chance to prove ourselves and our great worth. So go forth with courage! Go forth with bravery and loyalty for your country! For your people! Ride forth with me!" he shouted, getting increasingly louder as he spoke. He reared his horse and turned to face his barbarian opposition. Arthur took out his mighty sword, Excalibur, which was given to him by the Lady of the Lake, and it shined brilliantly in the dying red sun. He waved it in the air.
King Arthur rode forth with his brave knights and soldiers and they all cried out as the hooves thundered beneath them. They let out war cries releasing their agony, their pain, their anger and frustration. The Picts, the opposition, cried back and began to charge at them in return.
They clashed hard and both sides lost many men in those opening moments when good and evil collided with the force of the raging seas.
Swords smashed together. Steel slamming into steel. Shields cracked in half, sometimes upon only one blow. Men everywhere were screaming out in pain and agony as the swords of the enemy pierced their own armor and flesh.
Arthur fought against many foes that night, but none so important as his illegitimate son, Medraut.
"Finally my time has come to revolt and rise above you! You are nothing but an aging man now. You may have been a hero, but once I have slain you, I will rule and you shall be forgotten. Your memory will be lost in the sands of time, and I will be remembered." Mordred snarled in greeting, as the two met on the battlefield of Camlann.
"You are not worth my words Mordred. To speak to you is not worth spending my strength." Arthur replied, almost calmly. This angered Mordred.
"Look around you, you old fool! Your men are dying around you. With each breath you take another is slain. You cannot win, and you cannot defeat me!" Mordred cried out taking a swing at Arthur's head.
"Then I shall slow my breathing!" Arthur snapped, blocking Mordred's blow with Excalibur.
They continued to fight as the battle raged on around them. Everyone seemed to be dying. Most of Arthur's knights seemed to have fallen and so had many of Mordred's men. So much blood had been spilled already.
But Arthur fought valiantly. He knew he must for his men and his people.
Arthur spun, blocking one of Mordred's swings and he took one of his own. Excalibur connected with Mordred's arm, creating a deep gash.
Mordred cried out in pain as he stared down at his arm with an open mouth.
"You cut me! How dare you cut me!" Mordred cursed, and attacked Arthur with even more fury than before.
The king defended himself quickly, skillfully, and with just as much force as Mordred at first, but age was catching up with our hero.
Mordred, with a maniacal look in his green eyes, brought back his sword once more before burying it into Arthur's right side. He pulled out his sword and Arthur stumbled back in shock, with one hand on his bleeding wound.
Blood spurted from his mouth when the king coughed and his skin went pale. But Arthur, though almost dead, was not finished yet.
With what must have been a second strength, Arthur gripped Excalibur and raised it high. They fought once more, and this time, Arthur had the upper hand. He dodged, struck, and swung at Mordred with great precision, and before one minute was up, the table had been turned.
Mordred was now the one with blood gushing from his numerous wounds and from his mouth. His eyes had glazed over and his skin had become pale. Mordred's sword slipped out of his cold, dying hands and fell slowly and quietly to the newly stained grass beneath him.
Mordred then slipped away himself. His knees gave out and he fell onto them, slouched forward. He raised his head once more to look at Arthur, who showed no feelings on his smooth face. If not for the color of his skin, his clouding eyes and the blood on his mouth, one never would have known he was dying himself. He then slowly cracked a wry smile and fell to his own knees slowly.
Mordred fell face first onto the soiled ground, and this time he did not look up. Arthur was glad.
The always victorious king looked around him. He saw only one familiar face, and it was that of Sir Bedivere's as he plunged his sword into one of the few remaining Picts. There were tears in his eyes, and there were tears growing in Arthur's.
The Knights of the Round Table were defeated. They had met their last battle and did not even get to see the outcome. They did not get to see that they had won. This made Arthur sad because he knew his men had deserved to live, but he also knew that they had lived amazing lives and so had he. He let himself lie down, and then heard feet pounding toward him, vibrating through the earth under his head. His eyes began to close.
The next thing Arthur opened his eyes to was Sir Bedivere, who stood over him, holding his hand loyally. He had sadness and disbelief in his eyes. His leader, his hero, was dying, and nobody else was around. Only he was there to comfort the country's saviour now.
"My dear knight, Sir Bedivere… I…am so glad…you are here with me. You fought well today." King Arthur said almost smiling at him. " If you are as loyal as I think and hope you are, you will do one last thing for me?" He asked of his old friend.
"Anything, my king. Anything at all. Please tell me, how can I help?" Bedivere pleaded placing another hand on top of his own and Arthur's.
"Take my sword, Excalibur, and cast it into the Lake. You must, for it has to be done. Please my brother, do this."
"I shall do what you ask my lord." Bedivere answered obediently, letting Arthur's hand go to take up Excalibur in his hands.
He left Arthur and hurried toward the lake but when he arrived at the water's edge, he looked down at the beautiful sword and began to think. Excalibur could help them in the future. It could give them hope and power, he thought, and with that, Bedivere hid the sword in the bushes nearby. He went back to Arthur.
"Well my brother, what did you see? Did you cast it into the lake as asked?" Arthur questioned.
"I did, my king. Nothing happened. The water rippled, and the reeds and the birds whistled in the wind."
"Sir Bedivere, you did not cast the sword into the lake! Though you may mean well I beg of you to listen to me. Please…obey this…last command…and do as I ask. Go now, and when you return I want to know what you saw!" Arthur commanded, forcefully yet softly as he had the power to do. His breaths were becoming shorter.
Bedivere, this time, did cast the sword into the lake. He was shocked at what his eyes saw next. A silvery, delicate hand reached up from the water and caught the sword perfectly. The sword was swung in three circles before the hand pulled it neatly under the water again, barely creating a ripple.
Bedivere hurried back to where he had left Arthur and sat by his side.
"My king! I could not believe my eyes! A hand reached up from the depths of the lake and caught the sword. They waved it three times before taking it away. Who was that?" he asked, confused and eager for answers.
"A friend." he answered simply, "Just like you are, Sir Bedivere. I thank you for friendship and wish you all the best."
"Why do you speak so, my king? You cannot leave now. We need you here! Do not slip away now." Bedivere begged as tears stung his eyes.
"Do not weep sir." Arthur smiled and he shut his eyes, still breathing.
Bedivere stayed at Arthur's side, holding his hand until his sister, Morgan le Fay, and two other women came to take Arthur away to Avalon. It was the last time our brave hero was seen alive. But will it be the last? Time will tell.