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Sir Eberhart's Age of Consolidation

Arthur had united all Britain into one Kingdom but the seeds of tragedy were sown.

After a church service under the cupola on the sun-blessed lawn to dedicate an extraordinary number of new relics in the chapel, the tourney at Castle Beneth commenced. The Lady Evangeline had given Eberhart her favour as a mark of friendship and no more but he was content with this small relaxation of her froideur. Rosaline had intimated that Evangeline's circumstances were due to change in such a way that she may desperately need Eberhart's help but could tell him no more. Eberhart had learned patience; he could wait for matters to unfold. The lists were a place of great honour and all the contestants did well for themselves even the young Squire Cerval, unhorsed but proud to have competed. Eberhart was tilted by the vast skill of a foreign knight whom he then bested afoot by sword. With a titular victory, the bold young lord granted the prize to the foreigner before returning his ladies favour with poetic declamation and a magic mirror.

Nurse Mary had spoken with Evangeline and arranged for them to accompany Brosius and Eberhart to a bar for a tale of love and honour.In a story strangely reflecting its audience, Sir Bagdemagus and Lady Elaine with their personal servants were riding from Camelot when the heard tell of a Dolorous Tower in the forest where strange evils were rumoured to occur. Bagdemagus could not leave such a mystery unexplored; he led the party into the forest in the company of Squire Malvo, who was excited by the quest. The tower lived up to its name. Its very walls seemed to weep. Knocking upon the gate yielded no response. Malvo felled a small tree and felled it to form a ram with which the men beat down the door. The empty hall was littered with bird droppings and dried leaves. Above was a deserted chambers filled with wails that seemed to emanate from the walls themselves. Sensing the presence of magical evil, the party returned to town where Bishop Alden was persuaded to come exorcise the tower. As the Bishop prayed in the upper room, two people joined the group: a knight and a crone. When the prayers ceased the crone appeared to be a beautiful woman who was introduced as Lady Melisande by her husband Sir Carados. Bagdemagus agreed that as a guest he must conform to the custom of the place and that he and Malvo must judge which of the two ladies is the more beautiful; the loser of this contest being beheaded. Bagdemagus suggested that should he and Malvo choose differently there would be no result and nominated Elaine, with whom he had fallen in love on their travels. The devout Malvo, however, could not bring himself to choose a sorceress and also nominated Elaine. Carados drew his sword to behead his wife but Elaine had been talking to Melisande and believed her to be beautiful within. Elaine steps between the older woman and the sword. Bagdemagus could not let his beloved be slain so he interposed himself and was challenged by Carados, who was bested and persuaded to assist Bagdemagus in lifting the curse on the tower and so dooming Carados for eternity. Despite his love for Elaine, Bagdemagus rarely smiled thereafter. Honouring his host had blighted several lives.

Evangeline had exhorted Eberhart to be more pious in his thinking of love so the bard told them how Sir Gawain had been escorting Queen Guinevere through the woods when they met the shade of her dead mother. The ghost confessed that in life she had succumbed to lusts and counselled her shocked daughter to avoid the same sins. The kindly woman with whom the Queen had lodged overnight suggested that a local Abbess might be able to help lay the unquiet ghost and offered Guinevere the tears of St Stephen, which could be used in a ritual by five Christians. The pagan Gawain rode to the nearest town where he persuaded Owain, Marguerite, Whymark, and Abbess Matilda to assist their Queen in this matter.Gawain was astonished to see this Christian ritual banish a ghost. He had imagine this insipid faith with no link to the land to be ineffectual talk. The experience caused him to reflect upon his childhood faith.

Eberhart was uncomfortable with the carnality of the third and final story he heard in the company of Evangeline. Gaheris, a hotheaded young knight caught his mother Morgause in congress with Lamorak, the son of the man who killed his father. Enraged, Gaheris struck his mother so hard that she was knocked across the room. Lamorak imputed Gaheris' honour for such an act and, being fortunate that the young knight had no blade with him, forced him to swear to show respect to Morgause. Close to exploding with rage, Gaheris stalked out of the room, little knowing that the two lovers would go straight to Arthur and plight marriage. Being stepson to the son of he murderous Pellinore is almost too galling for Gaheris to contain.

For Eberhart this has been an age of honour and piety.

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grin

September 2015

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