Ach! What great shame I have brought upon myself. Neither brawn, nor wit can quell the fear of death in a man. But what does that make a knight then? What knight am I to fear this such triviality that is death itself? For what purpose is my sword and shield when I tremble at the mere anticipation of a swinging blade. I may as well discard them for my cowardice has wrenched their worth from them. But alas, as I have sworn an oath to my liege to defend his throne and all his subjects, I must keep my station. Though the shame I have suffered will forever haunt this fickle knight, nothing will keep me from fulfilling my oath. To bear the mark of cowardice and to remind myself of my failing, I shall keep this girdle and forever display the besmirched honor of Gawain. The knights of the round may laugh, and they may say such a thing is folly, but as a knight I must not forget the honor that was stained. I can never forget. Not merely for the cringing of a blade, but for my own failings in falling to such a trap. A curse upon myself for falling for the deception of the Lady Bertilak and the crone beside her. Such lies and fierce kisses were enough to unsettle this foolhardy knight. No sword can ever compete with the wiles of women. Aye, a lady must not be underestimated, for the sweet sight of a fair beauty can waylay the hardiest of men. Yet still I cannot curse them. Perhaps this is another weakness of mine, but I cannot place the blame upon those of the gentle sex. It is the man whose weakness leads to such folly. And as a knight, even greater still must I shoulder this fault. By my honor, I shall continue on the knightly code, while carrying this trinket of ridicule and shame around my waist. For every bit of corruption that has poured out of this flesh of mine, I shall do more than is enough to compensate for every lack of virtue. This is but little. But for my king and my fellow knights, I must avoid greater disgrace and renew the faith of the knighthood.
It sickens me so, how I must perfect the art of silence! That moment of nuptial promise stings me to the very center, for I must not protest in the marriage of Uther Pendragon. No, no…I musn’t step a toe of out of line, for my honor is at stake if I shall object the words of the court. I close my eyes and see my beloved duke, remember his affections and how they cradled me with genuine love and the greatest care. His death haunts me past sunrise and again until sunset. I have been sacrificed as queen to Uther and, punish me so, I imagine the face of my fallen husband behind this new man’s gaze. Even so, I have given my king everything he beckons for, even the product of my loins that he has requested. Our agreement leads me to send forth my child, away forever as to avoid an heir of untrue parentage. My mind wanders so, and this I cannot help…How must my king, a man who has won my claim by default, know the exact moment of my birth as graced by God? Does he hold a power not yet revealed to me, not yet revealed to his entire people? What superstition causes this knowing, or are the speed of my questions inexcusable? My answers run dry, cut deeper than the truth, so I do not ask. I only amuse myself with questions I will never close with answers. How dare I second-guess the nature of my lord? Although he is not my precious duke, God rest him peacefully...But at rest he lies, and I musn't rest with him. Not yet.
I no longer object to where I stand. I must live every instant knowing honor, love, and grace, for others deem me lucky to have a king great as Uther satisfying all my hours. How I wish I could have seen the face that left with my child in their arms, if but for a moment, but I musn’t make this a concern. My lord has approved of what becomes of the heir. I shall not object. I have learned the art of silence. Although my convictions strong, my heart wide, I use the silence well.
My Sweet Isolde,
Far across the raging seas have I travelled. Fierce and hideous beasts have I slaughtered. I have rode across Albion and dined with King Arthur at his table. I have fought in battle, and stolen the life of many men. I have looked into they eye of death, and bore his evil mark, until thy divine light did resurrect me. I drank a love potion with a beautiful princess, and took her love from my Uncle, King Mark. Though I have completed long enduring quests, and survived death, I have never been asked by a damsel to dress as a leper, to beg for gold and trinkets. I have never taken King Arthur’s leggings, nor had the opportunity to fool King Marks barons. Until thy sweet lips did speak of the favor. The dishonor I risked in that position had no effect on my choice, for I would do anything thou asked of me, no matter how dishonest, or righteous, anything for thy Love. It is true that when we met in Ireland, and began our trip to Cornwall, that we drank a love potion and fell into the depths for one another. We have betrayed our king, and our kingdom. But the soft of thy lips, and the sweet of thy breath would do enough for me to never want to leave thy side. The color of thine eyes and the length of thy hair, the melody of thy honeyed name, Isolde. Isolde, my dear Isolde, I have lied to you! I curse that dreaded potion for wearing off, and making us repent our sins, I could have lived in that forest by your side until we met our demise. I felt a shift in my heart in the time we spent together. A feeling of fire, a blaze that consumed me whole. The only regret I have is keeping a maiden as fair as you lost in the wilderness, hungry and cold. A Queen like you deserves to be dined with wine, and clothed in silk and furs. Isolde, I love thee true, that is why I have helped thee leave my side. For thou happiness means more to me than all the expeditions and honors I have received. It is true that a lowly Knight cannot compete with the luxuries of the King, and therefore I must let you go. I ask but one thing of thee my lovely, do not regret me, and do not forget me. I will forever be consumed with desire for thy love, a servant of thine heart.
How dare the Queen accuse me of asking for her love. I would never dishonor my lord, nor did I mean to offend him. I am an honest and honorable man. I am also very loyal. The Queen came to me to confess her love, and I told her to leave me be. What a silly idea that I would ever shame and betray my king by falling for the Queen. I have a love of my own, one who beats the love and beauty of the Queen. How stupid it was of my to let my anger get the best of me, and let me speak those foolish words about my love for my lady. Our love was meant to stay a secret, otherwise I would lose her. The Queen angered me so with her talk of me having no desire for women. She was wrongly mistaken. She was a fool for accusing me of such ideas just because I rejected her love. Because of the Queen, I almost lost my lady, for she would not reveal herself to me once I spoke of the love we had for one another. I was ready for them to kill me after I thought I lost her. I told my lord that I did not seek the love of his Queen. I denied the preposterous lies that the Queen had made against me. I was given the chance to free myself by having my lady reveal herself, but I thought that was impossible. If the Queen did not accuse me of loving her, I would never have risked losing the love from my fairyqueen. Alas, my lady had come to set me free. She proved to everyone her beauty, and proved to the king that I did not love his Queen. How happy I was to see my lady come riding in on her horse. She is the most beautiful thing I have ever set eyes on. At the sight of her coming, I did not want to lose her yet again. Without hesitation I jumped and went with her off to Avalon. Since I did not show my honorable side, I am writing this letter for anyone in King Arthur’s court who wishes to see. I regret the words I said about the Queen. I did not mean to offend m lord; my intentions were to defend myself and protect my love. We now live happily together in Avalon, with all the riches we could imagine. -Lanval
I wish to address to you the events of yesterday. If you are unfamiliar, a stranger came into our mist. He was, in all honest,
very handsome and quiet the adventurer. He came with a gift and a request for our dear king Arthur who would not begin eating without “interest news or a quest”. He asked that the king give a mantle of magnificent beauty and design.
He asked that our women be tested on the faithfulness of their virtue to their husbands. This type of behavior can not keep carrying on. I like the fact that our king so we can expose the unfaithfulness of our women. I would like to know, as a chivalrous knight, to know how the maiden I am courting is true in her word as her actions. Many knights often question the decisions our Arthur but I would like to use this as an example for those who feel that Arthur is just a child. The quests that we embark on might dangerous but it is for the good of the kingdom and its citizens. Had this handsome stranger not come with the mantle and Arthur whose curiosity is like a child, not met, you might court a woman who has lied and will not make the best wife. For if she lies about that, it opens up the question of what else has she been lying about. When even our queen wore
the mantle it shrunk and I would like to think that Arthur had a long talk with her last night. Before we had tried to protect our kingdom from those on the outside but now, we should exam those already within the kingdom. Not just our women, but men. Those knights who had pretend to be chivalrous. I will embark on a quest for a mantle for such a thing.