Tintagel prepares for the wedding as Princess Isolde finally begins to wrap her mind around married life. Tristan and King Mark come to terms, putting an end to years of unspoken animosity. And Morgan enlists Agravain in her plan to ruin everything.
artwork by WLOP for his creative series
The Knights with No Lords
Chapter 18 – Generations
By Rock Kitaro
As the threat of light rain continued well into the morning, production for the upcoming wedding was well underway. The ceremony was to be held in the monastery, but decorations and arrangements for the reception also required coordination and construction. It was tradition for a tournament to follow the wedding and considering several of Queen Iseult’s knights signed up, Sir Cador knew he had to be careful with the match assignments.
Constantine was always by his father’s side. Sir Cador exerted supreme authority over the wedding plans and any error would be met by the backhand of his gauntlet. Constantine was truly in awe. The way everyone skirted around Sir Cador like a tiger on a chain, Constantine couldn’t help but admire his father.
In the Northern Ward, Tristan and Isolde strolled through the bustling district of tradesmen and vendors peddling their products. Almost everyone stopped and stared, utterly awestruck by their presence. It was as if the two were birthed from a romantic painting, a dream, a divine scene of a shining knight and a beautiful princess, both with shimmering blonde hair and heavenly faces that surpassed mere mortals.
One by one, skilled artisans and shop owners offered them food, wine, and crafts but the couple respectfully declined. Instead, Tristan spared a moment to help a carpenter hoist a beam up for a new roof. Isolde helped a farmer’s wife carry a basket of eggs from one cart to another. Once they finished their volunteerism, Tristan and Isolde rejoined and continued on their way to the palace.
Queen Iseult was waiting. On the great limestone steps of the main palace, the queen was accompanied by twelve choice men, all sharp and dashing. Sir Maven entertained her with a dazzling sword dance. He spun and twirled his blade so fast that it whistled with each spin. Everyone knew the techniques were useless in combat, but it was still spectacular to see.
The princess arrived, laughing and leaning into Tristan’s arm. The queen was not pleased. With a skeptic gaze, she watched as Iseult pranced up the steps and curtseyed.
“Good morrow, mother!”
“Good morrow, my dove.”
Tristan’s brooding heart had softened from before. At least now he could bring himself to look in the queen’s eyes without cringing.
“Bow before the queen!” Sir Maven shouted.
Tristan merely squinted and curled his lips into a half grin, half snarl.
“Insolent!” Maven slurred as he lunged forward with his sword.
Maven’s blade poked into Tristan’s chest but Tristan didn’t flinch. Isolde smirked, standing so close to her mother.
“Care to explain that blotch just above the derriere?” Iseult asked her.
Isolde pulled on her white dress to see the grass stain smudged by her hip.
“Oh! I fell,” Isolde answered, confident that it explained everything.
“Amazing.” The queen remarked. “This one hasn’t said a single word. Isolde’s father was the silent type. So laconic, plain, and dull. Like a cauldron of lukewarm water.”
“Oh! Trust me, once you get Tristan talking you’ll be hard pressed to find a moment of silence,” Isolde chuckled.
A page came running from the portico of the palace and kneeled before Tristan.
“Sir! The king requests your presence. He’s awaits in his private gardens. The orchards!”
The page continued with, “And milord, have you seen Lady Morgana? The duchess has the entire castellany out searching for her. I’m afraid she’s run off.”
“Of course she has,” Tristan scoffed, winking Isolde’s way.
Tristan departed. Isuelt observed how intensely her daughter watched the lion with that smirk of admiration. It was troublesome, to say the least.
Moments later, Iseult and Isolde were leading their retinue through an arcade on the second floor of the palace. They were high up, overlooking a busy plaza of merchants bartering their finest goods directly to the royal staff. After walking a considerable distance in awkward silence, Queen Iseult finally asked, “Will he be a problem for you and your betrothed?”
Isolde chuckled at the thought. Her light blue gaze wandered into the plaza and settled on a cart of ripe strawberries.
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” said Isolde.
“I see. So you’ve tried.”
“Can you blame me? Never before have I ever felt so foolish, and yet I can’t help but marvel. Tristan and Gawain, they’re so full of loyalty and honor! I can’t believe such men exists,” Isolde gushed.
“Neither can I,” said the queen.
Isolde laughed off her mother’s cynicism but that laughter was cut short when she locked eyes with the man selling the strawberries in the plaza. The merchant had just finished with a customer when and he looked up and smiled at the princess. Isolde recognized him. The merchant was a Hibernian posing as local, one of Morholt’s warriors who had come ashore in the middle of the night. The warriors had randomly murdered merchants and stole their occupations to blend in.
Shocked, Isolde turned and stared at her mother. The queen knew exactly what she was thinking and shook her head, silently warning her not to ask questions.