In the aftermath of the massacre, Tristan and Isolde are hunted by nearly every sword in the kingdom. Gawain tries to make sense of it all and finally he gets his answers. Morgan tells him of the vision.
The Knights with No Lords
Chapter 21 – Betrayal
By Rock Kitaro
Dawn came with an air of tension. The overcast of a storm lingered and a malevolent gale howled through the streets. The most aggressive manhunt the country’s ever seen was underway as desensitized soldiers scoured the city in search for the traitorous Tristan and Isolde.
The king’s retainers in the neighboring lands of Devonshire, Dorset, and Somerset were put on high alert. Tristan and Isolde were to be considered an enemy of the state. Their capture and return was paramount, an issue of life and death, peace and war.
Pellinore wasn’t a vassal of Tintagel. He didn’t owe the country or King Mark anything. Yet, he immediately set out to Sewellen’s Chest and scrounged up all the ruffians who owed him money. They raided brothels and gaming dens, kicking in doors and overturning beds looking for the star-crossed lovers. Anyone who gave them trouble was rewarded with Pellinore’s boot up their ass.
Behind the closed doors of a chapel, Queen Iseult was all fire and brimstone as she barraged King Mark with the burden of blame and betrayal. She threatened to wage the bloodiest war the world had ever seen if she didn’t get her daughter back. King Mark did his best to assure her he was doing everything that could be done. He also reminded her that the betrayal struck both ways.
The bodies of Sir Ioness, Sir Ewangish, and Sir Cador were cleaned, fully clothed, and resting in the finest caskets worthy of their valor. The Duchess Igraine wept over Sir Cador’s casket, her last living cousin. A red-faced Constantine wept bitterly but stood dignified as his father would have wanted. Sir Cador raised Constantine to be a good man. His harsh discipline and relentless reproof was evident. It’s in light of these tragic and significant losses, King Mark had no choice but to disregard his affections for Tristan. This was treason. If found, Tristan would not be spared capital punishment.
Inside the main citadel, strife prevailed as the lords and generals engaged in fiery debates about what was to be done. Over 200 men of authority convened in the King Mark’s court. Fingers were pointed. Accusations slurred. A revolt was on the rise with many fearing Tristan would rally men who were more loyal to him than the crown.
Gawain, Gaheris, and Agravain sat quietly at a table on the outskirts of the throne room. They were forbidden from aiding in the search, a point made clear following a stern lecture from their adoptive father King Lot. This of course came after Queen Morgaus noticed the deep grudge, the paint painted in Gaheris’s squinty-eyed scowl.
The brothers were armed with their weapons, breastplates and shoulder pads. Gawain’s burning gaze was fixed in place as he replayed every interaction he witnessed between Tristan and Isolde, trying to make sense of things, wondering what they could have possibly been thinking. Tristan was the most levelheaded man Gawain knew. He wouldn’t have let himself commit treason so easily. Something must have happened. It’s the only way. But what?
Gaheris and Agravain watched with disgust as the older men bickered. Meanwhile, the Hibernians showed a considerable amount of restraint. Gathered near the exit, sixteen Hibernian knights huddled around Algayre and Sir Maven. Gaheris and Agravain noticed their eerie silence. It wasn’t just silence. It was confidence. No matter how impressive their fighting ability was, the Hibernians were still severely out numbered. So why on earth were they so confident?
Algayre’s black beetle eyes watched Gawain. He could tell Gawain was hard at work solving riddles in his head. So badly, the warlock Algayre wanted to crack it open and let all the secrets come spilling out.
“I DARE YOU TO SAY THAT AGAIN!” shouted Bruno.
“Are you not Tristan’s closest friend? How can we trust you?” Sir Blajan shouted.
Bruno promptly replied by knocking Sir Blajan on his back. A skirmish broke out between Bruno’s clique and Blajan’s. The elderly Sir Ekner hobbled in and struggled to regain order but his voice was drown out in the ruckus. Meanwhile, the Hibernians chuckled at the sight. Their smug attitudes made Agravain squint with displeasure.
“Enough with this sitting around crap!” Agravain said as he propped up from his seat and started for the exit.
Gawain and Gaheris didn’t protest. They followed. And in a mental conversations that only brothers could have, all three came to the conclusion, “we have to find Tristan.”
Just as the light from the opening doors touched Gawain’s face, a long slender hand grabbed him by the collar.
“This is the witch’s doing. You know it to be true,” Algayre hissed.
“I strongly urge you remove your hand,” Gawain growled.
“I will open her neck with my teeth!”
Gawain shoved him into the door. The hard knock got everyone’s attention.
“Over my dead body,” Gawain warned.
“Was hoping you’d say that, street rat.”
Agravain had whipped up one of Algayre’s own daggers and pinned it to the door just inches from Algayre’s thin sideburns.
“Problem?” Agravain asked.
“Oye! None of that! You lads fan out and find Tristan. Go on! Out!” Sir Ekner shouted.
Gaheris pulled Gawain away by his breastplate as Algayre just nodded with a creepy grin.
“That’s right, boy.” Algayre taunted. “Find him. Find him, before I find the girl. And you know what I do to little toys you try keep to yourself.”
“OVER MY DEAD BODY!” Gawain shouted.
Toothless Kersey and five of his lancer friends were passing through when they helped Gaheris pull away an unhinged Gawain.
Agravain stayed where he was, glaring at Algayre. He jerked forward and spit down on Algayre’s boots. Algayre’s bug eyes widened with an insane smile. As Agravain joined the group, Algayre followed until he was just through the doors. He watched the young restless teens as they stormed up the stairs at the end of the hallway, like they were all just a bunch of rabid young cubs who needed to be put down as soon as possible.