Camelot, a slightly revised version
After a year-long absence, Richard the Lion Hearted is back from the crusades, and once again sits on the throne as King of all England.
He proves to be a compassionate and bene-volent ruler, and is much loved by his people.
But his queen, Guinevere, feels neglected, bored, and has grown tired of cutting ribbons, smiling and waving to the crowds, and doing other queenly duties.
Toying with the idea of becoming sheriff of Nottingham, she broached her thoughts to the King, but Richard would have none of it, not while Robin Hood roamed Sherwood Forest freely, robbing the rich to give to the poor.
To make peace with an outlaw, Guinevere just might strike a deal with him, and Richard feared that one thing could lead to another.
Be that as it may, the King’s subjects are happy – tilling the soil, tending their farms, raising chickens, hogs, sheep, and some cattle.
Harvest was always bountiful, but only because Camelot weather is perfect – warm and sunny all year long, with just enough rain to quench the thirst of the earth.
And when winter came, the snow rose no higher than three inches thick.
It is the month of May, and the much-awaited summer event, the jousting tournament would be staged on the 15th, as announced by the Royal Palace.
Knights from all over the land came to take part, hoping to catch the eye of the beautiful Guinevere, who was having trouble with her marriage.
The tournament is long and grueling, but at the end of the day only two are standing – Lancelot, a Knight of the Round Table, but of French blood, and the seemingly formidable Black Knight – black armor, black horse, his face hidden by a black helmet.
Lancelot wins the first joust, and the crowd cheers, much to the delight of Guinevere.
But before the start of the second joust – it is two out of three – Lancelot feels listless and tired, hardly able to stand. Someone had slipped a pill in his drink, and the effect was working.
The Black Knight easily wins the second joust, and now it is down to one.
Taking off his mask, the people are aghast to see that it is the King’s best friend, who, many years ago, was sent by Richard’s father to a faraway land never to return, having earlier tried and failed, to grab the throne from the then sitting monarch.
“I invoke,” the Black Knight proclaims, “a tournament rule, that whoever emerges winner has the right to challenge the King for the Queen’s hand.”
The crowd gasps. No past winner has ever invoked the rule. Nonetheless, Richard replies, “I accept your challenge.”
“But your majesty,” Lancelot cries, “He has to get through me first.”
The Black Knight laughs. “In your condition, all I need is my left hand to unseat you from your steed,” thus betraying his hand that he is responsible for what is happening to Lancelot.
As the two knights go back to their respective tents to prepare for the final joust, Lancelot sees Merlin the magician waiting for him, sitting on a chair all by his lonesome.
“What are you doing here,” Lancelot asks him. “You are from another time, Richard, not Arthur, is King of England.”
“I was sent by the gods because they love your King Richard as much as they do my King Arthur.”
“The Black Knight will be using a lance that is sharp and pointed, laced with arsenic. Once he hits you, instant death will follow.”
So, here’s what I plan to do. I will make sure that your lance will also be pointed, and then with a wave of my wand, his horse will stumble. You will then go for the jugular, and stick your lance in his black, black heart. Think of only one thing, given your hesitation, Guinevere in bed, in the arms of the King’s ‘best friend’.”
To cut to the chase, Lancelot disposes of the Black Knight, last seen shining the tail of the devil.
There is food and wine galore in the celebration that follows, and a tipsy Guinevere is soon flirting with Lancelot, a touch here, a pinch there.
Richard thinks nothing of it. “I see,” he says to a knight sitting beside him, “that my queen is back to her old tricks, leading a man on, and cutting him down to size once he gets too close.”
It is not the case, alas, with Lancelot. Pretty soon, the two are dating on the sly – throwing snowballs at each other, running up and down a hill, rolling on the grass, racing horses to the edge of the forest, and swimming in the lake in all their naked glory.
Before long, the two are discovered, and by edict, Guinevere must be punished for her infidelity. With a heavy heart, the King orders that she be burned at the stake.
Richard also tells immigration to deport Lancelot.
But as Richard hoped and prayed, Lancelot and his band of French Knights rescue Guinevere from a fiery death.
Richard promptly declares war on France. A remorseful Guinevere tells Lancelot that what they did was wrong, and she must now atone for her sins by joining the nunnery. She then seeks out Richard in the battlefield, to beg for forgiveness, and to bid him farewell.
In a voice choking with emotion and with tears in his eyes, Richard says to his queen, “Goodbye my love, my only love.”
I am riveted to my seat, tightly gripping its arms.
Only an Ibaloy romantic would know the feeling.
Belated Happy Mother’s Day!