King Camlann the Fortunate
Disclaimer: If you listen very closely, you'll hear my heart breaking.
"'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life'." John 9:3
The story which High King Peter,
Magnificent and Northward 'pon the compass spear,
Discovered years into his Golden reign with
Three siblings Fair was writ in the nine-hundredth year
When White Winter drifted (as deadly nightshade)
O'er the border of Narnia's magick earth and air.
For in his studies of the Northern lands
He did espy the old book made from fine-grained
Pulp, rich text sprawling midst the fiery picts
Of dragons, women, knights all Silver-gilt crying:
"The West hast fallen in the night, sweet death
Silently creeping towards the Sea. The shade of the
Tree 'stead lit with lightning blaze, and the traitor,
Jaeden, marches 'pon us 'neath Winter's dusty shawl.
Our forces, fleeing, driven 'hind Cair Paravel's walls.
O Aslan! Ten years your servant, since my father
Boarded Your vessel homewards, and my mother lost,
Mother and siblings lost, to the wrath of barbarian South.
Raised, was I, by all manner of creature, of Wing
And of Tail, of Earth and of Water and of all manner
Of magick teachings. Do not abandon your servant as
The blinding White threatens to o'ercome the Narnians!"
And as High King Peter read, sitting cramped in a
Quiet corner and turning whispering pages with a
Light and reverent hand, he discovered a portrait
Of a youth, fair eyed and ruddy, with a winsome smile
'Neath which was inscribed carefully in golden letters:
"KING CAMLANN THE FORTUNATE"
And- reading on- found the Fortunate lamenting:
"'O Aslan! Have I only lived that I might lose all by dying?
Will You not stretch out Your claws and gouge out the
Hearts of Narnia's enemies? Will You not bellow out at
Them like thunder, rolling inland with the spearing lightning?
Our trespasser is like a hungry wolf, without reason or
Compassion, biting down on the soft and the unsuspecting
Creatures of the land and, when they struggle, breaking
Their fragile backs. She drags Calamity and Chaos on
A threaded leash into Your sanctioned halls and
Her Fell beasts rejoice in devouring the flesh of the
Thinking, speaking Animals from Your peaceful court.
Lord and Master, I can do naught but beg for Your aid
And, when I must, draw blade to combat Her myself.'"
And the great saga went on, detailing Camlann's struggle
To the great West, where Winter first rooted then grew,
Festering and feeding on all surroundings. Fair Camlann
Called forth Narnia's forces and plac'ed his General,
The sweet-tempered Oreius, at its head. With white-boned
Gjallar to his lips, he mounted up 'neath the
Witching wicked eyes of Jadis, so styled Empress.
"'For Narnia!' cried Fortune's doom'ed King
As he raced his army towards the Winter Queen. And
Her white arm raised, Her black eyes blazed at
The Fair and Winsome youth, 'neath the violent crush of
Winter's storm. Snow fell heavy, stealing figures from
Narnian eyes as the Magician stole a cut of
Blood from Camlann's side. Jaeden's blade, Vidar,
Flat and wide was edged by Spite, moved as Jove.
Sorely wounded, Camlann fell from Philip's back and
Brought dear Gjallar to his trembling lips, bleating for
The Lion, Aslan, as a child. And 'fore Jaeden, that
Odious playfellow and once but gentle wit, could
The fair King split in twain, the Horse Philip drove his steely
Hooves out, metal striking bone- O glorious sound!
"'Up, Majesty,' cried the gentle Horse. 'For Narnia's
Sake and for Aslan's, you must rise! 'Else your noble
People will suffer the fate of wretched Fell. She hast
Cursed them all With terrible madness, so that they even
Thirst for the power of Aslan Himself!'
Alas, fair Camlann had but the strength to raise his
Head, a winsome smile on his reddened mouth.
"'Ah, Philip,' said he. 'The best of Horses and closest friend-
Had I but one day more to live-!'
And though his lips moved to greet a moment more, his
Sightless eyes looked Beyond and, with weary sigh, shut."
High King Peter closed the book with great distress,
And reaching, found another, writ some odd years after
The passing of Camlann in a form less careful than 'fore
And in a tone nigh weeping:
"We raised him from a tender youth of eight, Camlann's
Father, mother, and brothers all lost to Aslan's country
And he, fortunate survivor, left to rule the nation.
We praised him through his hardy fight, as Camlann grew
Each day in honor, kindness, and courage, and (schooled
Under mentors) made peace with our neighbours,
We gave him all we could of priceless things like love
And understanding. Camlann was difficult to disappoint, so
Humble and sweet was Fortune's fair King.
We, Narnia, would have happ'ly died for Camlann.
But he, blind since birth, saw not the blade that felled him
And, so, Camlann died for us (miserable guardians) first."
Now, High King Peter was a noble man, and soft
Of heart, so wand'ring grievingly through Paravel's halls
Attracted such a crowd that the Sister Queens summoned
The Just to slip, unnoticed like a shadow into the thick
Of their ranks. At his brother's side in but an instant,
In another, he had all energies redirected.
"Come, Peter," said he, once the Narnians were sent
Off to complete all manner of useless tasks, "This past eve,
Your face hast twisted and wrinkled as if in pain. Our
Sisters worry you've found some new ailment or
Some old injury, but I suspect words have pierced you so.
'Tis nothing quite so lightly administered nor as permanent,
As we both well know." For he was, in thought, uncommon
And engineered many a craft or trick to help or hinder in turn.
"You know me," replied the High King, "better than my self.
Words, it is true, are the root of my muteness, and the blossom of
My inner disquiet. I find no comfort in conversing and no
Balm in the silence of my rooms. At all times, I lack understanding."
"Ah, riddles!" cried the Just. "This, indeed, must be a troubled
Time, should Magnificence find them suit to tinker with.
But I shall happ'ly answer you in the like;
That you might not converse, but speak.
That you might not embrace silence, but talk.
And I shall not speak,
But listen to all your words without comment.
'Tis a burden I am willing to undertake for my Lord."
So the High King emptied his heart before the weighted
Eyes of his brother, recalling the histories of Narnia
And of Fortunate King Camlann,
Unfortunate predecessor, whom the Narnians
Had similarly raised from youth to adulthood. And
As the High King continued, the eyes of the Just grew
Stead'ly graver, all the time darker, and lips all the time
Straighter, 'til at last the Northward King breached
The subject of Aslan, who had not saved His chosen
King on that grizzly white battleground, and then,
On a sigh, the Just freed a measured breath:
"Faithfully have I listened to all you have said, and
Thinking all the while to find that root, that I might tear
All arguments and doubt from your mind completely.
Such is the task of a worthy counselor, and though
You say Camlann was right to die for his people,
As you or I might have done, how think you Aslan
Wrong to permit him? For though they grieved, they
Easily loved us as they had loved him. And if Aslan
Was wrong, how then, could He have been right to
Choose we Four Sovereigns, knowing our varied flaws?
For even I, a traitor, was chosen to rebuild!
We cannot sit the fence with this debate (indeed, many
Are glad to try) for either Aslan is Good or He is Bad,
And no complacent ground we stand on will hold Him.
So if He is Bad, what are we, chosen by Him? And if
He is Good, who are we to question Him? We ourselves
Lean on the Bad side of things, and can be no
Proper judge of Good and Bad, let alone the
Evil and Perfection that Jadis and Aslan respectively embody.
No, brother- Time is not always glorious or patient, and
King Camlann (poor unfortunate!) was taken at the perfect Time.
And though Death is unnatural, and we rightly rage at its
Merciless appetite, Camlann chose his path and was
Likewise chosen by Aslan, who we know to be Good.
Therefore, rejoice and wipe the anguished lines from
Your face; Camlann cannot be elsewhere but between
Aslan's golden paws, a goblet of sweet water in one hand
And a grip on honey-sweet Mane with t'other."
And King Peter sat a moment in deep thought,
Realizing, "It was really difficult for you to be
Quiet for those few minutes, wasn't it?"
And Edmund, out of breath from his long speech,
Replied, "You have no idea."
I finished this thing in an entire night. As in, from 10 PM to about 5 in the morning. I couldn't stop. It was glorious.
King Camlann's name comes from the Battle of Camlann, where King Arthur was dealt a mortal blow. I've been wondering about the Pevensie's predecessor for a while now, and his history will be popping up in Monochrome because it is MUY IMPORTANTE to the plot. I cannot emphasize the MUY enough. Also, I may branch this chapter out with a prose edition of Camlann's life, but we'll see.
Please let me know what you think of this highly experimental style! I used Tennyson's The Passing of Arthur as my reference. It was a fun exercise and I highly recommend it. Stretching is good.
In other news, I'm working on Monochrome AND Emrys Emergent and a few other things. In the meanwhile (if you haven't already) check out Willow Dryad's newly completed work: Counted Among the Traitors.