They came from all corners of the kingdom to do honour to the newly crowned king.  The knights-to-be were all welcomed warmly to Camelot and its famed Round Table.  They peered in wonder at the mighty trophies and decorations in the castle, rare objects from the collections of all the kings who had ever been.

            “Man, your grandparents have a lot of cool stuff.”  Dan said to Ethan as he led them up the stairs of his grandparents’ home.  They had just passed the living room, where there was a piano and his grandmother’s porcelain doll collection, old photographs in silver frames and tiny statuettes and antiques in a curio cabinet.

            “Tell me about it.  They always make me go outside.”

            The boys passed the landing of the second floor where most of the bedrooms were and continued up a second set of stairs to a door.  Ethan laid hold of the handle, and opened it with a creak.

            “Behold the King, and welcome to Camelot.”  He said, allowing the others to enter before him.

            The King sat in his throne facing the doorway.  Between it and him was the Round Table.  The room itself was circular, ringed with windows facing north, south, east and west.  Where there was wall instead of glass, you could find the accumulated wealth of many kings.  A stuffed bear was in one corner, a hawk in another.  There was also a stuffed pheasant, a deer’s head on a wall, and a huge fish, the trophies of successful hunts.  Chests and boxes were pushed against the sides of the tower to make room for the Table, each filled with the plunder of kings.

            “Wow.”  The boys breathed in unison, seeing Neal seated at the head of an old dining room table, wearing a ragged bathrobe and a cardboard crown painted gold with colourful buttons glued on for jewels.  He was seated in a large armchair, while the other seats were either chairs from a card table set, or old rockers and chairs from the same dining room set as the table.

            “Welcome to my castle, men.”  Neal spoke, trying to sound like a king.  “Please sit.”

            They found that their names were on paper tags hanging on string from each seat, so that they did not have to fight over seating arrangements.  Each could see the others easily from where he sat, and each grinned at his friends in growing anticipation.

            “Each of you has come from lands far distant to join my court as a knight of the realm.  Have you fulfilled your quests?”

            “Aye, my liege, they have, and with honour.”  Ethan answered for them.  “They have brought the proper accoutrements of battle, shield and armour, and they lie below with their horses.”

            “He means the boxes and junk by our bikes, right?”  Jason asked Alex.  His brother hushed him, wanting to see what happened next.

            “It is good.  Then, each of you stand to take the pledge.”

            The boys stood, wondering what pledge they had to take, but eager to continue the game.  Neal, their king, drew his sword and pointed it at the centre of the table. 

            “Do you each pledge to defend this realm and its inhabitants, man, woman and child, with your whole heart and soul?”  He demanded.

            “We do.”  They answered in unison, prompted by their equal excitement and the fun of the game.

            “Do you pledge to obey the commands of this throne and this crown?”

            “We do.”  They answered again, wholeheartedly.

            “Do you pledge to put your brethren before yourself, defending them and their honour in all things?”

            “We do.”  Instead of becoming monotonous, the words came together as a strong chant, growing in strength with each repetition.

            “Do you pledge to always act nobly, never dishonouring this Table or this court?”

            “We do.”

            “Do you pledge your lives to this Table, defenders of the realm, Companions of the Circle forever?”

            “We do.”

            “Our oaths are made, our spirits joined in common as brothers.  So the Circle is completed.  May it never break.  Kneel, so that I may knight you, my Companions.”  Arthur spoke solemnly, his words echoing in the stillness of the attic.  Sunlight from the west struck his face, making the crown on his head seem almost real for a moment, shining brilliantly.  Each boy knelt on one knee, staring at the ground.

            “Alexander, I knight thee Sir Lancelot, arise and claim thy sword.”  Arthur touched Alex on each shoulder with his blade, and then Alex stood as Lancelot to claim one of his own from Ethan, who had placed them behind the King’s throne.

            “Evan, I knight thee Sir Tristan, arise.”  The King continued around the room, naming his knights.  “Owen, arise as Sir Kay.  Daniel, stand as Sir Bedivere.  Jason, arise as Sir Galahad.  Ethan, I name thee Gawain.  Come, my knights, and sit with me at the Table in fellowship.”

            Ethan turned his name-tag around, showing the name “Gawain” on the other side.  The others turned their name tags around, too, so that each knew that, while at the table, they were to call each other by those names only.  This was a different world than the one they knew, and so they were different people here.

            While Ethan started passing around cups and pouring juice, the boys talked excitedly with one another.  Each was wondering about their new names, and excited about the game.  Ethan’s grandmother had prepared sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly, so the boys had a proper feast to christen the Table properly.

            “Eth…  I mean Gawain, tell us the meanings of our names.”  Evan asked.  “Who was Tristan?”

            “Tristan was a young knight from Cornwall.  He was supposed to be gifted with musical ability, and I know that you’re learning to play the guitar.  I figured it suited you.”

            “And Bedivere?”  Dan asked him, “Who was he?”

            “He was one of the most loyal and strong knights.  He and Galahad and Percival got to see the Holy Grail.  Kay was Arthur’s foster brother, and Galahad was the purest, most virtuous knight, son of Lancelot.  I figured that way Jason and Alex can still go on quests together, seeing as how they’re brothers.”

            “Lancelot was the best knight, wasn’t he?”  Alexander asked, smiling.  “The most famous.”

            “Yes, he was.  No one could defeat him in fair combat.”

            “What about your name, Gawain?”

            “He was one of the best knights, too, strong and brave, his name means ‘White Hawk’ in Scottish, and I think I’ll put one on my shield.”

            “Hey, that’s right!  We have to paint our armour still!”  Dan said with enthusiasm.  The boys rushed down the stairs to their task, for a moment laughing boys again instead of solemn knights of the realm.

<<Previous   Next>>

Advertisements