The following is a one-shot background piece on an early book I wrote. It is part of a set of one shots about the goings on of King Arthur and his Noble Knights of the Table Round. This one happens to center on two characters one is my own creation the other is a mainstay in Arthurian Mythology. Sir Bors is the mainstay as he was on the legendary Quest for the Grail. The character of my own creation is Lady Seraphim, Champion for the King. I present to you, – THE TALE OF SIR BORS, A SWORD SWORN KNIGHT OF COMMON BLOOD.
It was nearing sunset on a warm summer’s day when someone knocked on the door of the little three room cottage. The villagers down the road didn’t visit the old woman that lived within. The village elders thought that she was off of her somewhat rusty hinges.
As for the children of the village, they were a different story altogether. They thought she was a bard. The old lady told them stories of Camelot. Of great Lords and Ladies. Even ones of knights in shining armor at tournaments jousting for a ladies favor.
She even told them of a time when there was no famine or war. When miracles happened as often as the new dawn, and good deeds were a knights daily fare with his lady’s smile as a reward.
The old woman gave a heavy sigh as she rose from her old wooden chair to answer the door. Her dark hair had long sense faded to white and her joints ached with the cold, but she was still as alert as she had been when she was a young maid of twenty.
Upon opening the door it wasn’t to find a child as she expected. Instead she found an apparent man of the gentry on her doorstep. His long white hair was tied back with a thong and his blue eyes were shadowed with the wisdom of age. The lines of his face spoke of a hard life lived with many adventures. It was obviously a face that spoke volumes to the right person.
“Seraphim? King’s Champion? Is it truly thee? Has my long search sought thee out,” the man asked. Relief was evident in his gravelly voice.
Seraphim, for that was the woman’s name, was shocked. Who was this man? How did he know the truth of her past? Seraphim had thought herself successful in erasing herself from popular memory.
“Who art thou,” she asked with a slight tremor in her voice that had nothing to do with fear and the frailty of age. While she may have sounded weak, you could almost hear the hidden strength that lay just beneath her surface.
“Do not you remember the Knight born of common blood,” he asked in a soft voice.
“Born of common blood? Bors? Could it possibly be you that stands at my door?” Confusion was evident in her voice. This couldn’t be Sir Bors. He hadn’t been seen since he left on his quest to find the Grail with Perceval and Galahad. Rumors had abounded of his death for years now.
“It is Milady. Might I beg entrance into your cottage,” he enquired politely.
“Granted Bors,” Seraphim answered in the same tone. Bors walked humbly into her home. Granted her home was not as grand as the rooms that she had acquired at Castle Camelot but the cottage was comfortable and it suited her needs perfectly.
“Please arrange thyself to thy comfort. For I wager that our conversation shall last well into the next sunrise,” Seraphim told him.
“Indeed Milady. For we have much to tell each other,” Bors agreed. He spoke quietly as though he were afraid to disturb the memories she held. Bors knew that his friend held a temper most powerful and he did not want to be the one to disturb it should it be resting peacefully after all these years.
Even though his voice was quiet it was serene. Just as it had always been at court, where Arthur and Guinnevere had presided in days long gone. Seraphim thought she detected a note of weariness in his voice as well. If it were there it would be a first, for Bors wasn’t known to be weary of anything.
“Before we begin would you care for refreshments?” Seraphim’s tone was polite, yet her eyes shone with merriment.
“I’ll not turn it down if you’ve a mind to share your precious ale,” he answered her with a slight grin. For in times now past it was almost unheard of for the Lady Champion Seraphim to share any ale or mead that was in her possession. It was just something that wasn’t done.
Seraphim nodded her had as he went into her little kitchen. She returned with two wooden mugs and a jug of ale.
“Where have you been Bors,” Seraphim asked after she sat down with her ale. There was more than a hint of sorrow in her voice.
“I shall answer your questions if you shall answer mine, Lady Seraphim.”
“Name thy question, Sir Bors.”
“What happened Lady Seraphim?”
“It fell apart. Her Majesty took to Lancelot’s bed,” Seraphim informed Bors gravely.
“The stories are true then? The tales told on peoples lips,” Bors asked in confusion.
“They are, my friend. Everything from the betrayal of Mordred and Morgause to that of the king resting on the isle of Avalon,” Seraphim confirmed. Her eyes bright with unshed tears.
“I do not know. It was a combination of many things. The battle with Lancelot for Guinnevere shook the people’s faith in Arthur. Thus opening the door for the vile that was spread by Mordred and Morgause,
“Other than that I know nothing more,” Seraphim replied.
Bors grew upset at the news. This was not what he wanted to hear. Especially not from the only female knight of the Table Round. She was the King’s Champion! How could she not know hat destroyed the realm?
“How did you survive? You who were his staunchest supporter and protector, yet there isn’t a tale in all the land that bears your name or presence,” he accused.
“Tis not what ye think, for you see, I am still bound by orders,” Seraphim stated simply.
“How is that possible?”
“Before the final battle, during the last gathering of the Court, I was ordered not to fight in the final battle against Mordred.
“Arthur gave that ordered at the beginning of the gathering in front of every surviving knight. I was furious. And I let my anger be known by storming off after he explained his orders.
“He said that I was to survive so that Camelot would be remembered,’ Seraphim explained.
“In other words, he left the hardest task to you,” Bors clarified.
Seraphim nodded her head in agreement. “And you Bors? What happened to your companions, Galahad and Perceval,” Seraphim asked.
A look of sadness mixed with joy crossed his face before Bors replied, “They are no more Seraphim. Listen well and I shall tell thee of the holiest adventure of the Knights of the Table Round.
“Across the blue sea and the land of hot sands there lies serene a hollow hill. Within it stands a glorious stone Cathedral dedicated to our Holy Father. It was protected by a silent order of monks.
“Before we reached the Cathedral, Galahad joined the ranks of the eternals.
“Upon reaching the Cathedral Perceval and I were silently led to the bishop of the Holy Ground for he was the only one permitted to speak.
“He told us, Perceval and I, of how his ancestor Joseph came into possession of the Cup of Christ.
“And then we were told of Joseph’s long journey from the land of milk and honey.
“After this he bid us to stay the night. And to receive communion the next day.
“So we stayed in the simple quarters provided. And truly we intended to stay but a single night. But that night turned into many seasons.
“Finally one day I awoke for communion to find that I woke alone. For in the night Perceval had ascended the steps of heaven.
“On that day the bishop told me that it was my duty to return to tell the tale of Christ’s Cup.
“And so I returned only to find that Camelot was no more. Arthur and Guinevere were no more. And absolutely no one knew of the Lady Champion Seraphim.
“Seraphim, I am most sure that when you were charged with keeping Camelot alive in the hearts of the people you were not supposed to erase yourself,” Bros finished.
“You may be right but it was all I could think of so that they will remember the most important parts,” Seraphim replied.
“Could you not have saved Her Majesty’s honor,” Bors asked.
“I tried and tried true. But by the time I started ‘twas already too late. She had been condemned in the eyes of the populace,” Seraphim replied.
And so the two old friends sat there and talked long into the night. They talked of recent times and those long gone.
Come morning Seraphim knew she had more to add to the legend before she could take her eternal rest.
So when the children came the next day Seraphim told them a new tale. The tale told that day would forever be remembered as the greatest adventure for Arthur and his Knights.
It would come to be known as the Quest for the Holy Grail.