Tristan arrives for his execution. The courtyard at St. Gabriel’s Abby is packed with mourners all here to say their goodbyes to Cornwall’s favorite son. And perhaps no one is more of a wreck than Princess Isolde. Screaming like a woman being skinned alive, all she wants is to touch him one last time.
The Knights with No Lords
Chapter 25 – The Greatest Escape
By Rock Kitaro
The bells from St. Gabriel’s Abbey could be heard for miles. Shrouded in her dark cloak, Morgan le Fay stood alone on the second floor cloister overlooking the courtyard of Angel’s Square. No one forced her to be there. She couldn’t even recall how she got there. Yet, there she was, devoid of any triumph or emotion. Just staring out with an empty gaze. Her sapphire eyes settled on nothing and everything at the same time.
Over 2,000 men and women filled Angel’s Square. A cold wind blew from the north, rustling leaves and making it difficult for one not to squint. Children were prohibited. Armed guards were stationed at every exit with archers posted on high. Everyone wore dark garbs or black mourning gowns. It was a tragic scene with so many weeping and sobbing before the ritual began. It was contagious and spread quickly. Even the most hardened men fought back tears with stern frowns and clenched jaws.
Off to the side were the stands designated for special guests. King Lot, Queen Morgaus, Gawain, Gaheris, Agravain, and Debra were seated in the front row. Sir Ioness’s daughters, Dawn and Fawn were behind them.
The royal platform was behind the crowd on the far end of Angel’s Square opposite to the scaffold. It was a dais elevated five feet up and protected by a perimeter of iron clad soldiers. Seated from left to right were Algayre, Princess Isolde, Queen Iseult, King Mark, the Duchess Igraine, and the Lady Elaine. The chair next to Elaine was vacant. It was reserved for Morgan, a void Gawain couldn’t help but notice.
Morholt the Destroyer was waiting outside the walls of Angel’s Square, in front of the church massive main entrance. A thick velvety cloak covered his grotesque bulging muscles. Four of his deadliest cutthroats stood by his side as a horse-driven carriage entered the yard. Tristan had arrived.
The guards had cleaned him up. His blond stringy hair was washed and he was now wearing a familiar attire of tan britches, brown boots, and the light blue shirt he was always so fond of. He was no longer wrapped in chains, just a sturdy length of rope binding his hands behind his back.
As Tristan stepped down from the carriage, a chuckle that sounded like grinding walnuts emanated from Morholt’s throat. Tristan knew he was there but couldn’t bring himself to look at the man who killed his parents. He simply submitted himself to the dungeon master and was escorted through a path of red berry hedges leading to the stage of his demise.
The crowd erupted with grief and groans to see their hero so pale and despondent. Isolde nearly slid out of her chair, whimpering like a tortured hound as a suffocating lump formed in her throat. It was torture. Her legs grew numb with a sweltering heat tingling around her knees rushing down her calves.
Queen Iseult clawed at her daughter’s sleeve to keep her seated. The princess whispered and begged to leave but Iseult forced her to stay. The queen’s patience had dried up. She grew weary of Tintagel and each passing second only ate at her thin veil of civility like a corrosive acid. The sooner Tristan was dead, the better.
Morgan’s guilt was creeping in. She didn’t think it would, but watching the outpour of sheer misery, she couldn’t believe it. The huddled mass swayed to and fro with outstretched hands like a tumultuous tide inching closer to reach out and touch their favorite son. The keening became so loud that it drowned out the bells. Their faces. The tears. The agony, as if Tristan was truly loved on a personal level by each and every soul in the courtyard, it was too much. Morgan finally closed her eyes and the flood of tears broke free to roll down her cheeks.
“So this is what it feels like to be Judas. So wretched,” Morgan sniveled as her hands gripped at her face.
Isolde was the worst. She screamed like a woman being skinned alive.
“AHHHHHH!!!!” she screamed.
Her high-pitched shrill screeched through the courtyard. Gawain’s eyes shot open at the sight. Algayre tried to hold on to her shoulders but Isolde convulsed and dropped to her knees on the dais. Gawain and his brothers exchanged awkward glances. She just kept screaming, over and over again, but the queen would not be moved.
Gawain hardened his heart. His brothers did the same. All three wore the masks of soldiers, determined to conceal their sorrow. They ignored the incessant screams and pleas for mercy to focus on the event at hand. Tristan was nearing the steps of the scaffold.