It’s a spectacular night where the Hall of Roses pulse to pounding drums and beating hearts. Tintagel Castle celebrates the homecoming of Prince Gawain. And whilst everyone hopes to make him an ally, his eye is on the alluring Morgan le Fay.
There’s music, magic, and intrigue. And as with every dance, envy erupts, hormones explode and if you’re not careful, you might find yourself on the receiving end of blunt force trauma. In this arm’s race between hot-blooded men and seductive women, it’s not the drink that induces rage and retaliation. It’s lust.
Chapter 12 – The Most Uncontrollable Emotion
By Rock Kitaro
Awesome fireworks lit up the sky. It shimmered and rained from far. If just for one night, in hopeful delight, everyone was his or her own special star. There was electricity in the air as the golden horns blared, and smiles from ear to ear. But who could have guessed, that this would, at best, be the moment that all should have feared.
A cool breeze, but pleasantly so. It stimulated the senses and made the very essence of anticipation somewhat exciting. Eager young hearts descended upon the Hall of Roses in spectacular fashion. Horse driven carriages came in a steady procession. Each stopped on a red carpet as baby-faced ushers helped women with their ball gowns, careful to keep them from touching the dirt.
The lads arrived in droves, all hot-blooded and spurred with confidence. Eager to meet the woman of their dreams, they wore their optimism with regalia on full display. The duchesses and baronesses were uplifted and transported by the extravagance of purple, blue, and gold bursting in air. It was amazing. They didn’t have to go to Camelot or Avalon to find fairy tales. They were living it, all under the same roof.
And what a glorious roof it was. Three hours after the sun had set, King Mark had already given his commencement speech and the celebration was well underway with over 5,000 in attendance. The king spared no expense in making this a night no one would ever forget.
The Hall of Roses was dolled up with green vines and radiant roses swirling the colossal columns as loose petals fell like glittering red flakes of snow. All 580 wax candles blazed from the stunning antler chandelier. Over sixty Hellenistic marble statues were scattered about, drawing much awe and serving as excellent conversational pieces.
At a time where the fiddle and dreary choir music dominated festivals, musicians were granted permission to showcase their newest experimentations. The Hall of Roses pulsed and shook with the profound banging of tribal drums. The beat was accompanied by an arrangement of over forty symphonic string instruments called violins and cellos. No one had ever heard such a heavy sound. Nor would they for another hundred years. Forty-eight musicians blended in perfect harmony to create a charged tempo that coursed through the veins of everyone there. It was a entrancing to say the least.
The actual enchanting, however, was left to professionals. Over a hundred prepubescent ladies dressed in blue fabrics frolicked amongst the guests in the theme of water nymphs. They were coordinated in their dance and, in various locations, took over the center of the dance floor to entertain with synchronized spins and waves in hypnotic fashion.
Court jesters with blue and black painted faces weaved themselves in and out of group circles. They took over conversations, replacing them with whimsical jokes and slapstick comedy. It was a real hoot for the older gentlemen who weren’t as spry enough to risk injury on the dance floor.
Fast shadows swiped on and off of the guests, drawing their attention to the daredevils dashing above. They wore white robes with wings and swung on harnesses in smooth maneuvers. These angels and cherubs flew to and from as they sprinkled petals and pretended to play golden harps. And just above them was the real spectacle to behold.
Stationed in the interior balconies atop the baroque crown molding, were six pyromancers dressed in dark hooded purple cloaks. Their old wrinkled hands were stretched out like puppet masters, but there were no strings on these decrepit fingers. They manipulated streams of fire from the wall torches mounted on all fifty bronze columns. And with their magic, the pyromancers would turn the fire into lukewarm purple flames, animating astonishing illusions.
Radiant bodies of celestial spheres floated above the angels and cherubs, rotating, fluctuating, shrinking and expanding. Wondrous constellations dispersed from exploding supernovas, the inconceivable conceived. Heaven itself had raised her curtains and guests were mesmerized by a glimpse of it. It was like levitating in a dream that lightened the load of one’s burden. The guests didn’t need to socialize to have a good time. One could just lie on the golden floor and stare up at the heights.
A buffet of sweet treats and smoked meats covered three fifteen-foot tables. The largest table held bulky barrels of honey wine. As expected, this was where the Brood of Black Bloods staggered about. Pellinore was having the time of his life as bedazzled ladies competed to make his acquaintance. The dashing young Pellinore was well aware of the lure he had on women and the jealousy fuming from his comrades caused him to roar with laughter.
More than once, Tristan looked over and rolled his eyes at the repugnant noise of Pellinore’s making. The exquisite Lady Annaliese maintained a firm grasp on Tristan’s arm but not his attention. When Tristan wasn’t supervising Pellinore, he was monitoring the deviance of Princess Isolde.
The blue-eyed Isolde was absolutely stunning in her sleek white dress and glistening golden hair. She turned heads wherever she went, leaving a lingering scent of stimulating fragrances that stirred the blood of all men. At the moment, King Mark was taking the time to formally introduce her to various members of the royal court.
Everyone was polite enough but they knew she was the Helen of Troy by which the Hibernians were coming to reclaim. Isolde smirked at their apprehensions and made no attempts to assuage their anxiety. She’d simply nod in small-talk and pretend to be utterly captivated by the purple stars shining above. The Duchess Igraine suggested King Mark take her for a dance and, while stiff in the knees, the good king obliged.
Joining Lot and Morgaus on the dance floor, King Mark took Isolde by the waist and pranced her about like a ballerina. She giggled with genuine joy and it surprised the king to find such satisfaction in seeing her happy. He was nearly twenty years her senior, but from the way she smiled, he was rejuvenating. There wasn’t an ounce of fear or reticence in her. The king was taken aback by the boldness of her hands, the way she gingerly massaged his beard, and even took him for a twirl.
At last, the ice around Tristan’s heart began to melt. He saw his enamored king and for the first time Tristan was grateful to have Isolde grace them with her presence.
Agravain was only fourteen so it didn’t take many drinks to impair his mental faculties. The endless gaggle of girls calling Gaheris’s name was beginning to get irritating. At first, he was resilient, impassive as his older brother was besieged by beauty. But after Gaheris bumped into him to evade the lunging lips of a kiss, envy ignited.
The bearded Constantine noticed and offered Debra’s hand for a dance. Fuming under the collar, Agravain reluctantly accepted as the kind-hearted Debra took him by the hand and led him onto the floor. Meanwhile, Constantine glowered at Gaheris who was now the prized center of ten of Tintagel’s most beautiful daughters. Gaheris felt the scathing stare and laughingly escaped groping hands to approach and inquire.
“Something vexes thee?” Gaheris asked as he struggled to stop smirking.
“You unruly bastard. Would you just pick one and be done with it?” said Constantine.
“Yes, well that’s easier said than done,” Gaheris grinned.
“Just pick one!”
“Wait, Constantine. See, you say that. However, the difficulty therein lies with-”
“Yes! Yes, Gaheris! Please. Please explain the abject horror of possessing the power of such appeal. Such hell!” Constantine shouted.
Gaheris chuckled, “Gladly! For starters…”
As Gaheris began a very detailed explanation with scholastic elocution, Constantine secretly plotted how he was going to knock him out and make it look like an accident. The girls gradually buzzed over like bees to pollen, and soon, Debra lost sight of Constantine from her position on the dance floor. She was beset by reasonable concern.
“Debra, thank you! You should go,” Agravain shouted over the music with a grateful curtsy.
Debra pouted, “Oh, Agravain. You’re so young. One day, women with fall to your feet the same way they do Gaheris. Just wait. You’ll see.”
Her words did little to move the heavy stones mounting in his heart. Agravain merely nodded and walked away, disappearing in the spirited sea of dancing crowns, capes and corsages. Everyone had a partner, a companion who sought none other. At almost every turn he was bumping into someone who easily recognized the lonely look on his face.
First it was his aunt, the Lady Elaine, a woman of reputed fame who had two knights nearly come to blows just for her hand in a single volta. Elaine chose neither and instead whisked Agravain away, lecturing him never to become like those brutes. The aunt and nephew enjoyed each other’s company briefly before Tristan’s friend, Bruno, arrived in his sharp green cloak. Bruno bowed before Agravain and asked for Elaine’s hand. Agravain approved. And again, Agravain trudged on.
Moments later, four lovely virgins dressed as blue water nymphs came and took him by the hand, twirling him around and around. Agravain blushed with embarrassment, spellbound by their remarkable beauty and painted blue eye shadow, but then, an ecstatic shriek from his mother broke that spell. The sight of Lot nibbling on Morgaus’s neck was enough to make Agravain cringe in disgust.
The giddy Queen Morgaus was reaching out for Agravain while a frisky King Lot held her tight. They were drunk and it wasn’t the first time Agravain’s seen them like this. Mead always made them a little too affectionate for his taste. Agravain didn’t want Morgaus’s wet slathering kisses drenching his face, so away he went.
A hand reached out and grabbed one of Agravain’s padded shoulders. He was clutched with such strength that Agravain instinctively reacted with an aggressive swing. He missed. Gawain removed his hand just in time.
“Whoa! Aggie, what happened?” asked the eldest brother.
The young gallant Gawain was conversing with six Lothian knights. For most of the party, ambitious statesmen ceaselessly approached Gawain in the hopes of establishing a powerful political ally. It was too obvious. Thus, Agravain saw through their pretentious smiles. The wall that held back his temper was beginning to crack.
“Hey!” Gawain leaned in to whisper. “What’s wrong?”
“Don’t trust these men.” Agravain warned. “They’re not your friends. Neither is Toothless Kersey or the rest of those sycophants.”
Gawain chuckled with a soft smile, “Well, of course I don’t trust them. I’ve only just met them. What’s wrong, Agravain? I see the ire of a scorched heart in you. Tell me.”
Agravain was touched by his brother’s empathy and became glossy eyed as he muttered, “I hate this.”
Gawain nodded, “Let’s get out of here and go for a walk. Just the two of us.”
“No. This is all for you. You should stay and enjoy it.”
“Hey, wait!” Gawain called.
Gawain shouldered his way through the crowd, determined to catch up with his little brother who darted under connected arms and around gowns like a rabbit racing to its dent. He lost sight of Agravain, and almost as soon, he lost sight of everything else.
Everything, except for her.