“Fine! How about we talk about Sir Galahad.”
The knights of the round table stared at each other. Sir Percival twitched the sword digging into his side as he straddled the cramped chair. His eyes wandered to the parchment missive that decorated the center of the table, a sharply honed knife stabbed into its center.
“There is no way that Galahad is a traitor to you, Sire” he huffed, refusing to meet his King’s narrowed eyes, instead staring down Sir Lancelot. “The heralds must be mistaken.
King Arthur bent over the curled parchment and pulled the blade from the note. Unfurling it, he read aloud,” By your leave, my liege, I ride to the Holy Lands to join with those forces large, who fight to defend our King and our Lord. I pray for your blessing, your forgiveness, in these most perilous of times. Your ever faithful servant, Galahad.”
Arthur crushed the note into his fist and crossed his gauntlet covered arms across his chest.
“So, who of you knew of this and failed to report it?” The assembled knights scratched at chests, covered in armor.
Sir Bors kicked Sir Lancelot’s boot, earning a scowl for his efforts.
King Arthur strode around the round table, especially commissioned for these men, his most loyal inner circle. He bent over and commanded “Rise, Sir Lancelot” in a voice barely above a whisper.
Lancelot rose, glaring at the other knights, who grinned back at him, smirking that he was the one to face the kings ire.
“Well?” prompted Arthur, hand resting on his sword. Lancelot knew how swiftly Arthur could draw the blade, having fought him many a time on the practice field and in the annual tournament hosted by the castle.
Lancelot bowed to his liege, fist to heart in salute. On rising, he did not meet Arthur’s eyes.
“My King, I am sure Sir Galahad is jesting when he says he has left to fight this battle alone. It is madness to contemplate.” he said weakly, knowing that his absence from the table did little to support his plea. Every seat was filled except for Galahad’s. “Surely, he has taken a fancy to a young woman and wishes you to not worry that he is missing for a while.” He winced at his own words, knowing how weak they sounded.
Arthur glared at him, the explanation so weak it bounced away like a tumbleweed, in Arthur’s hot gaze. The gaze burned him. Damm you, Galahad, how dare you leave me to twist in the wind like this? Sir Gawain chucked out loud at Lancelot’s distress.
At that moment, the doors to the chamber burst open and the regular castle guard marched in, with Sir Galahad lurching between them, covered in dirt and smelling as though he had rolled through the leavings of the stalls in the royal stables.
Arthur turned and arms crossed, wrinkled his nose in disgust as he was hauled to a stop before him. Arthur waved his hand. The guards released Galahad and stepped back. Arthur walked around him, looking him over from head to toe.
“Let me guess, the wench you were chasing is the Royal Smithy’s daughter. Did you have to romp her in the manure pile?” Roars of laughter burst from the other knights. Sir Galahad divided his glare equally between them.
“Sire!” Galahad said, bowing with a stiff dignity that was all he could salvage of his pride.
Not three paces behind them came Queen Guinevere and an army of servants, bearing loaded trays of meat tarts, platters of picked and jammed treats and flagons of clove spiced mead, the aromas drowning out the horse smell of Galahad.
Arthur turned in surprise, as the knights burst into a round of “Happy Birthday”
A court magician released some rounded objects that looked like brightly colored animal skins, that floated up into the air by the hundreds to hang from the ceiling.
Lords and Ladies of the court filed in behind the serving women and joined in with the knights raucous singing.
Arthur shut his mouth with a snap as Guin reached up to kiss him on his cheek.
“How did you arrange all this? The blockade has kept any supplies from reaching the castle for weeks?” Arthur stroked her cheek.
“It was all Galahad’s doing.” She smiled over at the knight, who grinned back and winked. “He sneaked out a week ago and brought back a peddler who he had heard was holed up in the south, due to the blockade. Brought him all the way back, traveling by nightfall only. He had only arrived back at the stables when the long arm of the law caught up to him.” She nudged Arthur affectionately, dimples forming in her cheeks. “Happy 28th birthday, Arthur.”
Sir Galahad, catching Arthur’s eye, bowed and said, “By your leave, my liege, I would like to go wash.”
With a nod from Arthur, Galahad left the room whistling a shrill version of Happy Birthday.
English Idiom: “The Long Arm Of The Law” – The far-reaching power of the authorities…This expression began as Kings have long arms (or hands) and was listed as a proverb in 1539. The current version, now often used lightly, was first recorded in 1908.
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