As the half-empty goblet slipped from Arthur's hand and clattered to the floor, the wine it contained spilling like blood, Arthur heard, but did not see with his eyes blurred by drink and tears, Kai approach him, lay his hand on his shoulder and say "Sire, you should retire to your bed now, for your own health. I implore you."
With some difficulty, Arthur lifted and turned his head to look into the face of Kai, who had been like a brother to him in his boyhood and was now among the knights of his court, and said, perhaps more harshly than he intended, "Speak not to me of my health, Kai. Is your king not already dead? I bid you begone. As...they...are gone..." Again the agonizing memories surged: Watching Amr, his son and heir of the last ten years, slowly succumb to the sickness which not even Myrdynn's sorcery could cure and which would soon claim his life; Amr, wracked in mortal torment, crying out to his father to end his pain quickly with the blade of Excalibur, and Arthur's howl of grief as he plunged his sword into the boy's dying heart; the discovery of Rowena, his beloved wife, having sheathed a dagger in her breast, unable to bear the loss of her only child.
Arthur had hidden his face in his hands as the cold bodies of his queen and heir, wrapped in cloth, were entombed forever beside his father and grandfather, Uther and Ambrosius Aurelius. For the remainder of the day he had sat in his chambers and drank to try and ease his sorrow, visited only by Kai and Lancelot, his closest friends. Now, overcome by wine and emotion, the king's head swam and he pitched forward out of his chair into the arms of Lancelot and Kai, who helped him to his bed and stood watch over him through the rest of the night.
The abating of Arthur's grief was slow. Months went by and he never smiled, and rarely ate or slept. Those around him worried. "My power cannot change the feelings of his heart," Myrdynn said when asked to cure Arthur. "His sorrow is too strong. Only he can conquer that which ails him, and to do that, he must experience true joy again...in his own time." Then came the time of Easter, the time of the Lord Christ's Resurrection, though learned men knew the festival's true origins were older.
"I cannot," Arthur said when asked by Lancelot to attend the feast being held in Camelot's great hall. He stood at the window of his chambers, looking forlornly out at the forest and hills around his castle as he continued "My loss still pains me, and I would be poor company." His eyes sad, Lancelot could only salute and leave.
The celebration in the great hall was mild and subdued. Kai sipped his wine quietly, then shot to his feet as someone suddenly cried out "The king!" All conversation halted as everyone turned to look at the figure of Arthur, having quietly entered the hall and now standing between two pillars. He said nothing as he surveyed all present. Then, after a moment, something not seen for some time happened: Slowly, his eyes lost their haunted look and brightened; colour began to return to his features. Stepping forward, he said "Is there room for me to join you?"
It was Gawain, son of Loth, who first rose, saluted and called out "All hail King Arthur Pendragon!" Kai took up the words, then Lancelot, then everyone. Before long, Arthur was smiling again. Joy had returned to Camelot.
Watching the merriment from his throne, Arthur felt his sadness dwindle further. Was he free at last? Could he start to live again? Among the people of the court now carousing before him, his eye picked out a young and beguiling woman sitting near a group of knights, radiant as she talked and laughed with them. Rising and approaching, Arthur said "Girl, what is your name?"
The young lady bowed her head, then looking up at him with eyes like jewels and a smile like that of an ancient goddess of pagan passion, replied "I am Guinevere, sire, daughter of Leodegrance." Arthur felt his soul sparkle, and a feeling grew in him that tragedy would never strike him again as long as he knew such a beautiful creature as Guinevere.