15. Crossed

“No!” Sir Balan cried out in horror, staring at the head of the Lady of the Lake on the stone floor of Camelot.

King Arthur—shocked at such graphic violence occurring in his court before him—drew his sword, prompting the knights around him to draw theirs as well.

“Why have you done this?” King Arthur bellowed with Excalibur’s brilliance beaming from the blade in his hands.

“I… I…” Balin stuttered with the bloodied blade still in hand.

“What have you done?!” King Pellinore cried out in horror as he shook his sword in rage. “That Lady was the daughter of our ally’s knight!”

King Arthur’s gaze moved from King Pellinore to Balin.

“King Pellinore is correct, as Lady Bradán is… was King Ban’s subject who was sworn my protection, under my safe-keeping in my court!” King Arthur snarled. “You have trespassed against me and the royal court of Camulod, and broke a promise that was not yours to break!”

The king swung Excalibur down at Balin.

Balin lifted the trick scabbard and absorbed the blow from King Arthur.

The scabbard shattered, revealing the bright gleam of the Tyrfing underneath the shattered metal.

Sir Balan caught his balance and found himself holding—in one hand—a scabbard that had been broken, and—in the other—the handle of the Tyrfing.

Instinctively, his hand landed upon King Arthur’s and Balin was able to wrangle the magical sword from the king’s hands.

Balin sent the king back at a safe distance from his blade with a small shove. Loud gasps ran through the court. Balin had his sword pointed at the king, and Excalibur held in his other hand. No knight dared approach.

“That criminal has drawn his sword against the King!” Sir Percival exploded. “What are you waiting for? Strike him down at once!”

Sir Balan felt lightheaded, watching his brother hold their king hostage.

Balin backed up with the king still at sword point, and with the Excalibur raised in the other.

A particularly courageous knight took a step forward, but Balin simply moved his sword closer to the king. The courageous knight froze, before backing down slowly.

“Back off, everyone!” King Arthur shouted.

As Balin held in his hands the Tyrfing and the Excalibur, he motioned with a tilt of his head. King Arthur made his way towards the guarded exit of the great hall.

“Stay back!” Balin warned as he walked King Arthur towards the guarded doors. “I do not wish to harm our king!”

The knights dared not approach.

“Tell them to step aside, my liege,” Balin said to King Arthur.

“You unwashed asshole!” King Arthur exploded. “I knighted you and everything. And you dare to call me your liege? As you hold me at swordpoint?”

“I know, I’m sorry,” Balin apologised, feeling hot as his eyes darted from one angry knight to the next. “Listen, I’ll get it back to you. I promise. Now tell those three to get out of the way, I’m going to bolt for it.”

“I’ll order them to catch you,” King Arthur said. “And when they do, I’ll have you drawn and quartered! I’ll have thirty-two of the best delivered straight to your bare backside, you barbarian!”

“I promise you,” Balin said. “I’ll make it up to you, sire!”

King Arthur sighed and, with a wave of his hand, he ordered the royal guards to stand down and step to the wayside.

“You better,” King Arthur said as Balin bolted for the great hall, with the majority of the court jumping to go grab him.

“Get him!” King Arthur bellowed to his guards. “And get me… uh… uh… Carbon Cutter back!”

The knight sprinted out of the great hall—with almost the entire great hall at his heels—and out of Camelot. He kept running until he found a horse. He stole it, then rode farther and farther away out of Somerset, eventually losing even the most quickest of knights, and sped north towards Wales.

King Arthur sorrowfully called for a royal page.“Send another messenger to King Ban of Benoic,” he ordered as his lip quivered. “Tell him that along with the death of his loyal knight Sir Dyonas Bradán, his loving wife Dame Bradán, and errant-knight Sir Craig Bradán, he has now also lost… Lady Viviane Bradán. The entire Bradán has perished it seems, and I have failed him greatly.”

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