The Knights with No Lords
Chapter 29 – Remember Me
By Rock Kitaro
Nothing that once was could ever be the same. She knew that now. She knew there was no turning back, but at the same time, how could she move forward? Hopeless, exhausted, and alone, Morgan retreated to the one place that’s never turned its back on her. Chadwyck Forest.
The flourishing trees and all of its vivid colors was devoid of the blood, fire, and steel that so recently filled her sights. Here, she found solace with the woodland creatures, the rich smell of vegetation, and the trickle of crystal clear creeks.
She heard birds singing from the branches above. A cool breeze rustled the leaves and soothed the stinging gash along her right thigh. Morgan’s long black hair was grainy with the residue of sand and dried seawater. She had a blank stare, as if she was out of ideas and her body was now moving of its own volition.
Her black top, black pants, and hip-resting skirt were shredded and singed. She trudged into a shallow pond, an oasis in the middle of the forest where beautiful green willows bordered the banks. Once the frigid waters reached her waist, Morgan sunk her weight and let her ankles slide forward to submerge her body.
There she lay, baptized in suspended motion. The grime that encrusted her body gradually deteriorated. Her long black hair fanned out. As if the pond felt pity, it caressed her, consoled her, cleansed her, and kept her company. Thirty seconds felt like thirty minutes. When she finally opened her eyes, the clouds appeared so close. It was easy to imagine flying, gradually floating up towards the heavens.
Morgan planted her heels to stand and emerged from the pond as streams of water trickled down her smooth porcelain skin. The pain in her thigh subsided, as did the heat from physical exertion. Her heart still palpitated. And her eyes still burned from the sweat and tears but she didn’t scratch or wipe. The scene was too beautiful.
She took her time, trudging out of the pond as her hips pushed ripples with each step. Her glossy purple eyes rose up and peered through the canopy of leafy branches and the golden light that shimmered through. She found a spot by a massive oak with giant roots and a bed of soft grass.
There, she cowered down and lounged with her back against the roots. Then, tearing from the bottom of her shirt, she ripped a strip of fabric and fastened it as a bandage around her leg. She didn’t know if it would be enough to stave off infection or not. At the moment, she didn’t care.
All she could think of was the danger. The death. The look in that corpse’s eyes as she was crawling on her elbows in the midst of a full fledge battle. What happened at Tintagel was beyond her wildest imagination. Nothing went as expected. She never calculated Isolde to take matters in her hands. And she certainly didn’t think Gaheris would take it upon himself to kill Isolde.
A single tear trickled down her cheek. Her chest fluctuated as anxiety and mind-numbing fear mounted. She wasn’t naïve. She knew she deserved to be punished. She accepted it. The sooner the better…Just not from the man who was coming.
Imprisonment. Lashes. Disownment. Death. Those things, she didn’t fear. Let her die by Tristan’s hand. Let King Mark sign her death warrant. Let Gaheris put an arrow her heart. That’s fine. She could take it. Just not from Gawain!
She deflated with an emotional whimper as her face convulsed in a disgusted grimace. She buried into in her hands and cried. Oh, how she wept. Like a toddler who had all of her favorite toys taken away from her, Morgan sobbed and gushed and languished in self-loathing agony.
Then, she gasped with abject horror. The fast footsteps of a sprinter were approaching. Just as she looked over to her right, someone came bursting through the bushes with a skidding halt.
Gawain turned around and cast his sights on her. Beads of sweat covered his face. The fury in his eagle eyes blazed hot with indignation. He didn’t blink. His dark tunic was tattered and torn. His britches were soaking wet and with each step he could sense the unpleasant feeling of mud sinking beneath his boots.
Morgan said nothing but pouted in a silent plea of mercy. Meanwhile, Gawain’s eyes conveyed the sermon of a fiery priest, blaming her for the induction of sin itself. She curled against the tree roots with her legs tucked in close. Her eyes dropped from his face to his right hand. Gawain was clutching his katana, the razor sharp blade still filthy with the blood of so many. Morgan stared at the sword, fixated on it as a child to a father’s rod. She was triggered to vomit but pushed the lump back down her throat. After sitting there for some time, she finally propped up and sat on her knees with a studious arch in her back.
“Are you going to kill me?” she asked.
Gawain squinted. It brought him no pleasure to see Morgan so afraid but he demanded justice.
“Just give me a reason…”
“Because I love you!” Morgan whimpered.
“YOU CALL THIS LOVE!?” Gawain screamed with tears of his own.
“Damn it, Morgana! We’re not children anymore! These are peoples’ lives you’re toying with! Look at what you’ve done! I could’ve died! My brothers could’ve been killer. For the love of God! I almost lost you! You… I almost. I almost lost …Why? Why can’t I…DAMN IT!”
Gawain flung his sword into the pond and began swinging his fists as if he was literarily battling his own demons. Morgan kept her head bowed and winced with each forceful swing Gawain threw. Finally, Gawain dropped to his knees and let out a deafening roar that sent ripples across the pond.
A gust of wind howled through the trees.
“Just tell me this,” Gawain said. “Is it true? Did you poison Tristan’s mind to make him fall in love with Isolde? The truth!”
Morgan exhaled with shaky lungs. She pondered. Then, mustering the courage, she rose up and relocated to sit next to him so that their shoulders touched. It was a daring move that made him growl under his breath but he didn’t turn to look at her. Both sat facing the pond and the glittering vines draping from the willows.
“You haven’t answered my question.” He said.
Morgan stared at him. Gawain knew she was staring and it pissed him off further.
“When you told me my vision came in error, I believed you. If it were anyone else, I wouldn’t have doubted myself for a second. For four years, the Hibernians had you all to themselves. I fought tooth and nail to get you back and just when I thought all would be well, my own powers betray me.
“Gawain, you’re the only man I’ve ever loved. You’re the only one I’ll ever love. I know it. I’ve traveled near and far. Avalon attracts all types of life. I’ve seen men as golden as the sun and more bronze than a cauldron. I’ve seen beautiful men. I’ve seen wit and intelligence. Gawain there’s none like you.”
“What’s your point, Morgan?”
“What’s the point of living if there’s nothing to live for?”
“You have your sisters!” Gawain reminded.
“I have no one! Morgaus has King Lot and your brothers. Elaine can have any man she wants. But you were always mine and I was always yours. Always!”
“And what if I happen to fall in love with someone else? You’ll kill them too?”
“Someone else?” Morgan scoffed.
“That’s right. Someone else,” Gawain said as he finally turned and let Morgan see the fire in his eyes.
“I’ll tell you what. The day you fall in love with someone else, I’ll tell you what happened with Tristan and Isolde,” Morgan declared.
“No. You will tell me now.”
“Don’t hold your breath,” Morgan whispered.
In unison, both seventeen-year-olds whipped their sight back to the pond and said nothing for the next three minutes.
“You know, you really should stick to being pious. Cruelty isn’t your color,” Morgan said, breaking the silence.
“Cruelty?” Gawain asked.
“Someone else? That’s scorn talking. Trust me. I know a thing or two.”
“Oh yes. I know you do.”
Then, unexpectedly Gawain’s anger seemed to melt away. It was so sudden and swift. He seemed reminiscent and glad. Morgan had her arms crossed when she noticed Gawain standing up with a smile.
“We’re not done talking!” Morgan barked.
“Do you not recognize that tree? Come on.”
Gawain extended his hand. Morgan looked at it. Then back at him with hooded eyes.
“Why are you so weird?” she gawked.
“Come on!” Gawain chuckled as he reached down and pulled her up.
Morgan patted off the back of her skirt and followed Gawain away from the pond around to the other side of the massive oak tree. Like a giddy child on Christmas, Gawain crouched to the base of the tree and started scooping away the foliage.
Morgan sighed, “What are you doing?”
Gawain finally got to the base of the tree where a section of bark had been peeled off.
“Oh my gosh. It’s still here,” Gawain whispered.
Morgan’s heart began to swell at the sight of it. She kneeled down next to him and stared in amazement. There, at the base of this most magnificent tree were eight stick figures carved into the wood.
“Morgan! Wait up!” said a scrawny nine-year-old Gawain.
“Stop shouting! Geez. You’ll wake the spirits and have golem after us,” chided a nine-year-old Morgan.
“Golem?” Gawain asked.
“You never heard of golem? Never mind. Just shut up and follow me!” Morgan said as she led Gawain to the massive oak tree.
Morgan crouched and wiped the base of the tree where the trunk met with the dirt. There, she revealed stick figures carved into the tree.
“You did this?” Gawain asked.
Morgan rolled her eyes at such a stupid question and gazed at the carvings with great significance. Each stick figure had a name etched above them. It was written:
“Gorlois” “Igraine” “Morgaus” “Elaine” “Me”
“You shouldn’t be afraid of me,” Morgan said in a reflective tone.
“I’m not afraid of you,” Gawain said with a smile.
“You’re lying. Everyone is afraid of me. They think I’m wicked. Every time something gets stolen, every time something breaks, every time another kid happens to get a bruise or a cut, everyone points the finger at me.”
“Because of your purple eyes?”
Morgan grinned, “Among other reasons.”
She took an arrowhead from her sleeve and began carving into the wood. Gawain watched. He felt bad for her.
“Fear is one thing. Judging someone is completely different. Everyone fears that in which they lack sufficient amount of knowledge or understanding. But judging someone by appearance alone with no evidence to support the conclusion, I think its rather foolish.”
Morgan stared at Gawain as if he three heads. “Father was right. You don’t talk like the other boys. That’s weird. I bet the lads give you hell for it.”
“I think you mean strange,” Gawain said with a cautious smile. “Weird implies something unusual or bizarre. Strange means just that. My behavior is unfamiliar to you. Hence, it’s a stranger to you.”
Morgan beamed with a smile, staring at him with such bewilderment as if she wanted to kiss and slap him at the same time. She shook her head with a chuckle and continued carving. Meanwhile, Gawain caught sight of a curious fox that wondered by. He marveled at it. It was the first time he’s seen one.
“There! I’m done,” Morgan chimed.
Gawain was reluctant to take his eyes off the fox but Morgan was pulling him by the sleeve. He looked and noticed that Morgan had made three new stick figures. Above the drawings were the names, “Gawain, Gaheris, and Agravain”. While he was somewhat grateful for the gesture, he ultimately failed to hide his agitation at having lost sight of the fox.
“Gee, Morgan. Thanks,” he said.
“Fine! I’ll erase it!” Morgan snapped.
“Morgan wait! I’m sorry. Please. Don’t erase it!” Gawain laughed as he grabbed her wrists.
Morgan playfully put up a struggle. But she calmed when he put his arms around her waist. In that moment, Morgan and Gawain felt an electric charge rush through their veins. They were only nine years old. Call it puppy love. Call it lust. Call it confusion in that they had no idea what was going on. Whatever it was, it was real. Whilst in his arms, Morgan jutted forward and gave him a small peck on the lips. It caught him by surprise. A pleasant surprise.
That was eight years ago. It was bittersweet to remember one of the few priceless moments in which they simply had each other and no one else. Once again, Gawain’s arms were wrapped around her waist. He could feel her trembling so he held tighter. At the same time, their eyes met. Each with the same hopeless, scared self-destructive passion.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered.
“What?” she whispered back.
“I know. For the longest time I’ve always known. I can’t imagine how painful that must have been for you.”
“No. No, Gawain. Still, I shouldn’t have…”
Gawain moved in and kissed her ever so deeply.
“If ever again I cause you to doubt my affection, kill me. I don’t mind dying if it’s by your hands. Let your eyes be the last thing I ever see. It would be the greatest gift you could ever give me.”
The inhibitions Gawain that once prevented him from indulging in the most persistent desire of his life, it went up in smoke. Right then and there, at the base of this monumental oak tree, Gawain gently laid her down. In spite of their exhaustive battles and her respective injury, they were suddenly rejuvenated as their flesh melded and their bodies became one.
There, Gawain and Morgan made love as if it was their last day on earth. It was an eruption of sexual energy, the likes of which had been charging ever since the day they first met. She held onto him and didn’t let go. He embraced her and fulfilled every wish she every wanted.