ARTHUR: ACT TWO—Conflict

CONFLICT

NARRATOR:

The leaves are gone from the towers of age.

The aqua tint of brooks and streams has faded away.

The songs of birds are but fond memories.

The stars are bright but dim with hope.

The solar orb follows its path across the heavens.

The clouds dance no more on the azure belt.

All is stillness at Camelot.

Bitter is war among the family of man.

Arthur sits at his round table.  His eyes are filled with moisture.

He looks about the chairs.  All are gone.

A lute sounds in the distant courtyard.  The air is cool with the touch of night.

Excalibur lies on the table.

Its jeweled handle reflects the candlelight.

The golden blade shines like the fields of grain.

ARTHUR:

“I lost all that ever mattered to me in a short pace of passing eternity.  Is a dream just an unreal shadow?”

NARRATOR:

Modred, his nephew and son by the sorcery of Morgan Le Fay, has led a rebellion against the throne.

Now Arthur must fight his own blood for the title of nobility.

Dawn breaks over the eastern horizon with amber traces of blood.

Phosphor beams its last rays of evening light till dusk.

The birds sing a sad tune.

The clash of arms is near.

The heavy weight bears on his countenance.

The morning dew is bitter like lime.

Arthur stands in the courtyard.  His heart is bitter with remorse.  The land lies under the flowing blood of battle.

GALAHAD:

“My lord, he nears the glen…”

ARTHUR:

“Galahad, you are faithful.  Have many of our companions are fallen?”

GALAHAD:

“Aye, many dear friends have watered the fields with their lives.”

ARTHUR:

“And what of brave Gareth?”

GALAHAD:

“Modred struck him down in the glen by the aged maple, but he lives still!  His will to live is strong as the north wind in winter.”

ARTHUR:

“Aye, my nephew shares the spirit of Excalibur.  Lancelot’s mighty sword could not end his existence either.  Vivian healed his wounds with her power…”

GALAHAD:

“Modred is in the glen,” a touch of fear fills Galahad’s voice.

ARTHUR:

“Morgan Le Fay cursed your soul to the pits of hell for bringing this evil on us.”

GALAHAD:

“Shall I do battle with him, my lord?”

 ARTHUR:

“The fight is mine and mine alone.  No man can fight another man’s battles except he be that man.  I have existed too long within these walls of stones while my knights have paid the ultimate price.  No more, Galahad, your king shall do battle this one last time.”  Arthur knows that before sunset he will die.

GALAHAD:

“God bless thee, Sire.”

ARTHUR:

Arthur smiles and says in a low voice, “God bless thee, Sir Galahad.”

NARRATOR:

The golden sphere stands high in the belt.  The glen is fresh with the lush smells of spring.

ARTHUR:

“Life is worth living only if there is something to live and strive for,” Arthur thinks.  “Man seeks a drop of gold or the tint of silver all his days, yet life is much more.  Honour, virtue, purity, faith and most of all love are substances bought not with silver or gold.  They are the things worth living for…”  A few thoughts of Guinevere pass through his mind, and he sheds a tear of remorse for his first true but lost love…

NARRATOR:

Modred stands in the field with his armour as bright as noontide.  His sword, dripping with flesh blood, is at his side.

Arthur has arrived.  They face each other.

Sir Galahad stands in the distance and prays for a miracle.  The sea washes the beach near-by.

ARTHUR:

“I know you not, my son,” Arthur moans.

MODRED:

“You acknowledge my birthright at last, father.  Your time has come.  Name me king and you shall live…”

ARTHUR:

“Live in the shadow of your mockery.  I think not, Modred.”

MODRED:

“The kingdom is mine by birth and conquest.  You are vanquished, Arthur, your kingdom lies in ruins about you.  You knights are on the field of battle, and look at you.  You are only a shell of dust.”

ARTHUR:

“A shell of dust, ruins, apt descriptions for my soul…”  Arthur solemnly declares.

MODRED:

“Father, let’s end this conflict and live.”  Modred’s words are like sweet balm to Arthur, but then he realizes what Modred is.

ARTHUR:

“You are a product of sorcery, Modred.  My soul abhors you.”

MODRED:

“Sorcery!  How dare you speak of sorcery, where is Merlin?”

ARTHUR:

“Merlin’s time has ended for now.”

MODRED:

“‘Tis sad that he could not see his prized pupil now,” Modred’s words cut Arthur to the quick. “I shall not waste my strength on you, Arthur.  There is nothing to fight except memories of a sorrowful old man.”

ARTHUR:

“True, memories are all that I possess now, but you are a nightmare that must end before sunset.  Prepare to meet you dark master, my son.”

MODRED:

“Fool! Arthur, you are such a fool!”

NARRATOR:

The swords clash.  The battle begins.  Blow after blow fall.

Modred’s sword strikes Arthur above the heart as Arthur plunges his into Modred’s breast.  His armour of magic does not save him from the power of Excalibur.  Modred falls face on the ground.

Arthur drops Excalibur and falls to his knees.  His wound produces a cascade of blood on the ground beside young Modred.  Sir Galahad reaches his side.

ARTHUR:

“I see you sweet countenance and it brings comfort to me,” Arthur utters in pain.

GALAHAD:

“My lord,” he responds.

ARTHUR:

“My end has come…”

GALAHAD:

“My liege…”

ARTHUR:

“Say no more, dear friend, but tell your father that he was more than a friend to me, he was a brother… I truly have missed Lancelot.”  Arthur falls to sleep upon the grassy lea.

NARRATOR:

A hand rests on Galahad’s shoulder.

GALAHAD:

“Who are you, man in black?”  Galahad asked fearfully.

MAN IN BLACK:

“I have come for my son.”  He takes Arthur in his arms and moves toward the inlet.  He enters a small sailing ship and they sail toward the north.

NARRATOR:

On the ship are twelve vestal virgins who sing a chant of pathos that wrenches at the heart of the noble knight.  However there is a calm stillness in the air.

Galahad watches until they have vanished.  He turns to pick up Excalibur, but it vanishes before his sight in a mist of mauve…

GALAHAD:

“All is lost.  Dear God, have mercy on us who are left.  We know not what to do,” Galahad falls to knees and weeps for his king and the death of Camelot…His world is gone for ever…

NARRATOR:

Camelot, your legend shall never die and your knights and ladies of yore shall always exist where love and honour reign supreme…

Life continues for those who are left

to remember

and

to hope…

For one day before the end of the world Merlin and Arthur will return to fight once more for the ideal of Camelot…

G. D. Williams       © 2011

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