Micro fiction

The Tale of King Arthur and the Empty Seat

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So after the quest of the Sangrail was fulfilled, and all knights that were left alive were come home again unto the Table Round, then was there great joy in the court. The only obstacle marring this great joy was the fact that, for some inexplicable reason, the King had been seated next to Sir Kay at the Table Round and so therefore the Welcome Home feast was now going to be really shit.

“I’m not saying that I could have definitely beaten Lancelot,” Kay said, taking a swig from his goblet. Arthur had been staring at the whole roast pig in front of him for the last seven minutes and, as he stared, one of the segments of lemon balanced precariously on its back began to slide down the buttery flesh towards its rump. “I just think that if I hadn’t sprained my wrist decking that ogre last week the tournament could have ended very differently.”

“Mmmmm,” Arthur said. He glanced across the Table Round towards where Lancelot and Gawain were sitting, both laughing heartily. They were both so goddamned photogenic and cool, Arthur thought as Kay dove into another story that, had he been listening, would have made him want to introduce his forehead, quickly and aggressively, with the legendary tabletop. He watched as Lancelot ran a hand through his long blonde hair, still grinning as Gawain gesticulated charismatically, emphasising his sexy anecdote with even sexier hand gestures. Arthur knew that if he was sitting on their side of the table he’d be having such a great time. He’d be able to tell them both about the time he’d wenched his way through fifteen taverns in a single afternoon. It would have been so great. He clenched his buttocks in agony, which, in armour, is a particularly painful enterprise.

*

Meanwhile, on the other side of the kingdom of Logres, Morgan le Fay was brainstorming evil plans with her sidekick the Green Knight. She wrote the word SCHEMES in block capitals in pink gel pen on the parchment in front of her and then proceeded to spend five minutes encircling it neatly in a cloud. Carefully, she drew an arrow extending from the cloud and wrote KILLING ARTHUR at the end of it.

“Right,” she said, looking up from the parchment. “How are we going to kill Arthur?”

“I have a big axe,” the Green Knight said.

Morgan nodded slowly before drawing an arrow extending from KILLING ARTHUR and writing the word AXE. She then reached for a blue gel pen and drew a circle around it.

“Pink is for concepts,” she explained. “Blue is for strategy.”

“Oh,” said the Green Knight. “Right.”

*

Meanwhile, back at the feast, Gawain was standing up at the table, his goblet held up high. “I propose a toast,” he announced. The stubble on his chin looked really good in the flickering light of the candles. “To our Sovereign and Lord, King Arthur.” Everyone cheered and much merriment was made.

Suddenly, however, the huge oak doors were flung open wide, and a gust of wind extinguished all of the candles. Gawain’s stubble didn’t look so great any more. Lighting flashed across the dark sky.

“According to the rules of pathetic fallacy,” Sir Tristam murmured. “Either something bad is going to happen or someone is feeling particularly passionate.”

“Something bad must be about to happen,” Arthur said very quickly.

A maiden was standing in the doorway and, as a flash of lightning illuminated her face, Sir Lancelot saw that she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

“That’s the most beautiful woman in the world,” he whispered to Gawain.

“Flip me pank!” Gawain replied. “So it is!”

“Forgive my intrusion, my lord,” the maiden said, stepping forward into the hall. The doors slammed shut behind her and the hall was quiet once more. “But I have come to Camelot to seek your help.”

Lancelot looked her up and down. Her dress was torn and ragged, though in more of a TopShop kind of way than a dirty, homeless way. It was hanging off one shoulder casually, exposing her collarbones. She didn’t look particularly bothered. Lancelot gulped.

“Camelot is at your service, fair maiden,” Arthur said.

“Yes, absolutely!” Kay agreed, a little too enthusiastically.

“My father has been taken hostage by a troll,” the woman explained, her beautiful eyes brimming with tears. “My entourage of knights were all slaughtered but they’re just background characters so it doesn’t matter. I ran all the way here, ripping my dress in an aesthetically-pleasing fashion on the way.” She held the ribbons of fabric between her fingers and began to cry.

In the speed of two antelopes, Lancelot had crossed the flagstone floor, had offered her a handkerchief and was cradling her cheek with his freshly moisturised hand.

“Where is he?” he asked, pleased with the way his voice sounded simultaneously sensitive and badass.

The maiden’s eyes widened as she stared with amazement upon the man whose voice was so manly while his hands were so soft. “On the other side of the enchanted forest,” she said. “I’ll take you there.”

*

Meanwhile, Morgan le Fay sat hunched over her piece of parchment. “Shit on it,” she spat, suddenly.

“What is it?” The Green Knight asked.

“I’ve misspelled ‘decapitation’,” she said.

*

They had plenty of horses in the stable but Lancelot said that they would cover ground quicker if they shared a steed. The maiden didn’t mind; his hair smelled nice. They set off towards the enchanted forest without further delay, Arthur waving them off from the walls of Camelot. As he watched them disappear into the distance, he smiled; now there would be a seat empty next to Gawain.

About the author

Ellen LavelleEllen Lavelle is a post-graduate alumni of The University of Warwick’s Writing Programme. An aspiring novelist and screenwriter, she has worked with The Young Journalist Academy since the age of fourteen, writing articles and making short films for their website. She’s currently working on a crime novel, a historical fiction novel and the script for a period drama. She interviews authors for her blog and you can follow her @ellenrlavelle on Twitter.

 

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