Full Circle

[Author’s Note:  This is a future story of Forsena. It assumes that New Almekia won the war.]

Throne Room, Castle Logres, Almekia Kingdom  238

   King Lance sat in his chambers alone, a glass of wine in his hand.  He could hardly believe that the thing he had hoped for was finally going to come to pass after so many years.  It would be just 2 short weeks until he would finally have a queen to join him at his side, and in his bed.  He knew that he could have had pretty much any woman he wanted, but ever since that day almost 10 years ago, he had barely even noticed the charms of all the other women around him, despite the best efforts of them all. Romantics, callous status seekers, and everything in between had all but thrown themselves at him, but he had just shrugged them off, seeing that face in his mind over and over.

  He had first seen her after the battle of Logres, when he had finally put down the rebellion of Zemekis.  After seeing to the wounded, and after the terrifying encounter with Bulnoil, he had gone down to the dungeons deep within the castle to release the prisoners.  As soon as he saw her, something deep inside of him told him that this would be the only woman he would ever be interested in.  She was dirty, thin, in ragged tatters of clothing that barely held on to any modesty at all, but in her eyes, and her face, Lance lost himself.   Lance learned that her name was Filo, a knight of the old Leonia kingdom that had been destroyed by Zemekis.  Lance had heard of the horror when he stormed Tallas.  Lyonesse had barely escaped to the port and out to sea in time, but so many other loyal knights fell or were imprisoned that night.

  Lance didn’t say anything to her about his feelings at the time, resolving that such matters would best be dealt with after the last vestiges of the war were won.  The final stages of the war were long and brutal, with Norgard and Iscalio fighting to the absolute end, but finally, the war was won, and a new era of peace had come to Forsena.

  Lance returned home, ready to take Filo to be his wife.  But, of course, as usual, fate would not make it that simple.  As soon as he mentioned the idea to his advisors, they tried to tell him that he couldn’t do it.  She wasn’t from an important enough family, he needed to marry someone to solidify his hold on the continent.  They said it would be as big a scandal as the marriage of Cai and Merriot of Caerleon, who were expecting their second son.

  What was worse though was the opposition that he got from Filo.  She was flattered to be the object of royal affection, but her own eyes betrayed her own doubts. Though Lance had fallen for her, it was clear that the feeling was not totally mutual.  Plus, she was a member of the religious caste of Leonia, and she had doubts about marrying outside the caste.

  The same stubbornness that had served Lance in such good stead during the great war though, kept him going, in this campaign.  In time, he managed to overcome the objections of his advisors, even as his clumsy attempts to win the heart of Filo bore fruit.  She had finally agreed to his proposal, and more importantly, he could see in her eyes, and the small smile in the corners of her mouth, that she was not simply doing it out of duty to the King of all Forsena.

   Lance swirled the wine in his cup, and took another deep draught, eagerly thinking of what was to come.  It was going to be such a special time. Not only would he finally have the hand of his beloved, but he would see so many of the old comrades who had stood with him in the war.  After the war, so many of them had moved on in their lives.  Carlota had gone off to study magic in Caerleon, still hoping to be the greatest mage of this era.  Meleagant and Aldicilia had gone off and gotten married, and were living in Calmary.  Lance still shook his head at that one, he had never seen it coming.  Halley, after the night in the basement of Dolorousgard had taken orders and moved into a convent near Damas.  Finally, both his old teacher and friend Gerient, and kindly Coel, who had given him his kingdom had been called to their eternal rest.  Still though, he was looking forward to seeing the others.

   As he submerged himself in his happy thoughts, he was distracted by a sudden itching in his nose.  He broke out of his reverie, and realized that something was burning.  He rushed to the window, and saw that the guardhouse at the entrance to the castle was burning.  As he looked closer, he was shocked to see that the milling crowd he saw down there was not running in a panic, nor were they forming a bucket line to put out the fire.  Instead, the sound of steel on steel told his ears that there was a fight on.

  As he turned to go find out what was happening, the door burst open, and a guard, his arm broken can covered in blood entered.  “Sire, it’s an attack.. the deathmask has come”

  “Deathmask? Cador? It can’t be?  Halley killed him and Bulnoil!”  Lance said, even as he reflected for the thousandth time that Halley had never told him what exactly happened that night.”

 “I don’t know about that sire, but they have come” the guardsman said, between gasping, labored breaths.

  Without any further words, Lance reached up and wrapped his sword belt around himself, hardly noticing in his haste that his belt hardly fit him any more, as he no longer had the lean build of his youth.  He pulled his swords, and ran down the hallway, using the back stairs, as they would get him to the fight faster.

   He stopped short though, as a large figure, in black armor wearing a deathmask stepped out in front of him.

  “Very foolish Lance.  You should not have come without your guards” he said in a deep, gutteral voice that echoed from the depths of the mask.

  “Cador! You should have stayed away!” Lance screamed, raising his swords before him.

  “You make too many assumptions Lance.  I am not Cador, nor a creature like he was. I am merely your death” the figure said, as he raised his own great sword.

  Lance leaped into the fray, his twin swords flashing back and forth, hunting, searching for an opening in the defense of the man in black.  However, no matter how hard he tried, he could not find a way to touch the stranger.

  “Lance you have forgotten, you have grown soft.  You were once a great warrior, admired by all, but you have gone soft with the ways of peace..”

  With those words, the stranger began to press the attack on Lance, pushing him harder and harder, even as Lance’s breaths became more and more labored.  Finally, in desparation, Lance dropped his left hand sword, and holding his remaining sword in both hands, swung at the stranger.  In a smooth motion, the stranger blocked the desperate strike, and as the pain of the parry still shivered through Lance’s arms, the stranger brought his own sword down and slashed through Lance’s unprotected midsection.

  Lance fell to the ground, the foul taste of his own blood in his mouth. As he struggled to hold onto the last few seconds of his life, he looked up at the stranger, and weakly managed to say “who are you?”

  The masked man looked down at him. “Yes, you do deserve to know who did this to you.”.  He reached up, and pulled off his mask.

  When Lance saw the face that stared at him, he could only state in shock.

  “I told you I would be a King some day” said Alsace.