Author's note: My first real shot at original fiction. I hope you enjoy it.
The Isle of Apples and the Scar in the DarknessIt was called the Isle of Apples...but as he looked about him he saw no sign of the red budding fruit. Only the silent tread of autumn leaves scattered across the wind.
No apples rolled onto his feet, for there were only the stones now, and the cold, bright white sun.
Soon, he knew, soon those bodies would be stretched out underneath that bright autumn sky like depressed leaves, torn from the stems and laid down before some eternal eye, unblinking, as
Arthur looked up, snapping shut the visor over his eyes. In the cold of the day the chain mail beneath his heavy armor seemed to rattle and dance, chattering irritatedly upon his weathered skin. Today, his very old bones seemed hardy, yet broken. Quite broken. He looked up. Something of his blood grew chilled with the passing of the lonely autumn wind.
Excalibur sat in his hand. The blade was sacred--born of enchantment--and today it shook in its scabbard, perhaps unnerved at the prospect of returning to its tumultuous place of origin. Arthur placed a hand over the hilt, lingering, and the sword obeyed; Excalibur was never nervous.
The isle was the last reminder of all that was lost, and of that which was yet to be gained. The bright white sun seemed a maddening round disk shining in his metal eyes, spinning so that the light fractured and shot out in a spectrum of glittering rays.
Like the light of the Avalon sun, such became the Round Table, each soul sitting at it becoming so vehement in his own nature that, once the wheels of treason and unrest had been turned, Arthur could not pull down again on the hub, becoming stuck in the throes of passion and denial. He was destined to be the centrality upon which the chaos pivoted as faces came and faces went. Like a distraught, well-meaning father, Arthur had tried to instill some notions of peace, mercy, and justice into his men. In doing so he was as one who tries to stimulate a dulled horse to run. Peace, mercy, and justice had instead become fragmented, twisted to each man's earthly need, and shot out into the world as broken, hollow arrows of righteousness and justification.
Here, Avalon was the intersection, the tiny Isle of Apples surrounded on all sides by black English waters. It was the realm of witches, unspoken magicks and forgotten transgressions. All of the sins, blunders and ignorances of Arthur's life came to a crashing convergence here: his command by the arrangement of too many voices, and not nearly enough insight; Morgause's deception and the birth of Mordred; the fateful meetings of the Queen and the Knight of the Lake; his own sickly oblivion, leaving many of these personal matters to fate; the slow but certain dissemination of the kingdom; his moral folly in pursuing the Grail, only to lose all hope of true prosperity; Lancelot held at Joyous Gard in Northumberland; Mordred's treason, calculation, and the matter of the forged letter; Gawain's spasms of civil destruction; Guinevere fled to the Tower of London; his refusal of her papal-induced apology. The primary emotion propelling his life forward had been the boon and bane of rage.
A man's life is as candlelight. Conception is set forth by the striking of the match, ignited by the might of initial force. The young flame, growing, is sustained by the warmth of the bearer, and, at the right conversion of time, transferred to the wick of the candle, where it burns long and hard. Slowly, so slowly, the wax drips down the sides of the glass container, spreading in influence as ringlets of wisdom emanate with age...such emotion is what fuels the apparent power of youth. But as a man grows older he loses some of his fuse. It is then that he may begin to realise the core power hidden in simplicity, truth, honesty, and, above all, forgiveness.
Arthur had never forgiven himself. He was as the candle that tried too hard to burn, pushing its own little light against the might of the seemingly endless darkness...in the very opposition of darkness he had sputtered, for he was, indeed, still human. But with the passage of time, he had learned to be as a quiet flame, a spark that dies out right before the night dissolves into final void. He was a special flame: the great, quiet fire within him dared to burn eternally, however faint the echoes were in the darkness, for, as the night dissolved, one may have looked up unto the cosmos. There, the memory of light flickered like a comet tail streaking in faded brilliance across the black canvas. To the insensitive observer this night may have seemed to remain the same, but, if one focused properly, slowly, the small single streak permanently scarred the darkness.