This AU is based on Arthurian legend. There are some obvious character parallels—at least I thought so.
1) King Arthur (the flawed, tortured, driven warrior-king) : Chris
2) Lancelot (known for his reputation w/ women) : Buck
*Although in my fic he’s not married with a son
3) Galahad (known for his goodness and purity) : JD
*In the Arthurian stories, Galahad is Lancelot’s son. In my story, JD is Buck’s cousin.
4) Tristan : Vin
*Sir Tristan was charged with escorting Isolde to meet his friend/uncle, King Mark. She was to marry the king. Tristan and Isolde accidentally drank a love potion meant for Mark and Isolde. Their forbidden love caused a lot of trouble. It made me think a bit of the whole Vin/Charlotte fiasco (except for the love potion part).
5) Merlin : Josiah
*I thought Josiah would be a natural to play the wise, soothsaying wizard.
6) Morgan le Fay : Ella Gaines
*Evil, psychotic women. That was kind of a given…although I’ve made the Morgan/Ella character’s motivation power and revenge—not obsessive love.
7) Morgause : Maude
*In most tales she is the sister of Morgan. But depending on the story, she’s been her cousin and sometimes the two characters are merged. She’s her cousin in mine and Ezra’s foster mother.
8) Mordred : Ezra
*Ezra’s character is often portrayed as misunderstood in fanfic. I always thought Mordred got a bum rap in a lot of the Arthurian stories. He wasn’t evil in the early tales. That happened later somehow. I prefer the ones where he’s a victim of his own destiny or a scapegoat for Arthur’s failings.
9) ? : Nathan
*I just couldn’t find an equivalent for Nathan. I don’t think Arthur had a lot of black warriors working for him. Although I came across a reference to a knight of the round table known as Sir Breunor le Noir (“the black”). I think this probably referred to his hair color or even maybe his disposition, not his skin. I simply made Nathan an ex-slave from a foreign land.
*Everyone else can fit in other roles: Mary as a widowed Guinevere character with a son, Orrin as a neighboring king, Nettie Wells as head cook with her niece, Casey, as a helper, Inez as a serving wench, etc.
Chris downed his fifth ale as he watched Buck saunter off with some giggling young woman. The man could find solace with anything in a skirt. Why couldn’t he?
Four years. They’d been gone four years. He knew had no right to be angry at his oldest friend. The man had pulled him out of some of his deepest hells through the years. Buck had never given up on him—even when a crazed, drunken Chris had blamed him for delaying his return to Sarah and Adam. A part of him always believed that if only he’d been there, they’d both still be alive. How was Buck to know Sarah hadn’t stayed at her father’s house with Adam for the whole week like she’d planned? How was Buck to know that a group of murderous bandits would be riding through the village that day? How was Buck to know that staying the night in Eagleton after the horse fair would keep them from Sarah’s side when she needed them most? Chris wasn’t a child. Buck hadn’t forced him to stay.
Sarah. What would she think of him now? In two days he was to be crowned king. They never would’ve let him take the crown with a commoner wife. But with her passing, everything was proper in the eyes of the other lords. To them, his marriage to her was a mistake that had been corrected. He’d heard whispers—none dared say it to his face—that it was divine intervention. She and Adam were nothing to them. Now he could take his rightful place as only heir of the deceased king, Uther Pendragon. Next they would expect him to marry some shallow and brainless royal wench—for alliance sake, of course.
He gazed into his tankard, seeing only the bottom. He needed another drink.
“Would you like some company, milord?”
He looked up to see a beautiful woman with dark hair sitting across from him. “You’re a little too well-dressed for this hovel, aren’t you?”
“I like to look my best.”
“Who are you and what do you want?”
“I’m a friend, milord. I saw you sitting over here all alone. A man of your standing and obvious charms shouldn’t be alone. I thought you might like some…companionship.”
Chris practically snarled at her. “I have all the companionship I need right here.” He saluted her with his tankard. “Find yourself another man of ‘standing and obvious charms’. I’m not interested tonight.”
“Very well. Your loss, milord. But at least let me get you another ale.”
Chris grunted in response. The woman left the table and returned a few minutes later with another tankard.
“Pleasant evening to you, milord. May the ale keep you as warm as a woman’s arms.”
Chris drank it down in no time. Several minutes later he was ready to order another when he felt a strange warmth steal through his body. In no time at all he became flushed and dizzy. Perhaps he’d had one too many. He threw several coins on the table and staggered up the stairs to his room. Chris fell into bed, confused and disoriented. Was he asleep? Things were so hazy, disjointed. He didn’t remember falling asleep. He was suddenly blinded by a bright light. There was someone in the doorway, silhouetted by the hallway torches. The dark shape moved into the room, drifting towards him. Chris blinked his pained eyes several times, trying to bring the figure into focus. “Sarah?”
“Tonight I’m whoever your fevered mind needs me to be.”
He sighed. “Sarah.”
“Yes, darling.” She slid into his arms.
Chris needed this, needed her. He felt strangely removed from his body, but he could feel her, smell her. He was eager, fumbling, like a young boy with his first woman. He couldn’t seem to get his arms to move the way he wanted. They were so heavy. But then she would touch him and whisper in his ear and it didn’t matter how clumsy he was. She was there. They were together. If this was a dream, he never wanted to wake up. Sarah. And as he pulled her to him and made love to her, his need overrode everything else—even the nagging thought at the back of his mind that something was horribly wrong.
Chris awoke several hours later as the early morning light began to creep in through the window. What had happened to him? His thoughts were clearer, but his body still felt strangely heavy. Sarah? Had he really dreamed her? He looked around the room, his eyes resting on a woman standing at the dressing table, her back to him. “Sarah?”
She turned, a cold smile greeting him. “Why no, darling. But it was fun to pretend, wasn’t it? Even drugged out of your mind, you weren’t half bad.”
“You really are a piece of work, aren’t you? You ruined my life and you don’t even recognize me. Lady Ella Gainsborough? Your betrothed?”
Chris grimaced with the memory. Yes. He knew who she was now.
“Oh, yes, we were promised to one another. Even though you were barely better than a stable hand and certainly beneath me, you were acceptable because you were King Uther’s only son. Your illegitimacy was overlooked since he could father no other children. It was to be an alliance between our warring lands. I was going to be the most powerful woman alive. My father’s star would’ve risen with mine. And all I had to do was play the dutiful wife to the country bumpkin king. Once I gave you an heir, my position would’ve been secure; you would no longer have been necessary.”
Chris struggled to get up, a burning rage clearing his mind. But his limbs dragged like wet sacks of grain, refusing to obey him.
“But you had to ruin everything. You defied your father and ran off with that common trollop. For what? Love? Love means nothing to people in our position. We marry for power, alliance.” She threw a bottle at him, barely missing his head. “My honor was tainted! My father humiliated! We had to go to war, of course, to regain our honor. Father was killed and our lands confiscated. And I…I had to flee the country, surviving on the charity of others. Waiting, plotting. And now the first of my many moments has come.” She smoothed her hair, regaining her composure. “I could kill you now. It would be so easy, drugged and weak as you are. But that would be too good for you. I want you to suffer as I have suffered. I’ll take the throne from you yet, Christofer. Oh, not right away. In time. I want you to have many years of tortured waiting.
I’m off to the Sacred Isle to study the ways of the goddess, the ways of magic. Magic is the only reliable power a woman can wield in this man’s world. When I return, I’ll be strong enough to take the throne—and keep it. But I won’t be alone.” She rubbed her stomach, smiling like a feral cat. “The instrument of your downfall will be your own flesh and blood. I may not know much of magic yet, but I know enough to ensure pregnancy. Your own son will destroy you for me. He will rule the land. And I will rule him.” She laughed at the anger on Chris’s face, sweeping out the door with a satisfied flourish.
Chris lunged after her, falling to the floor in a tangle of leaden limbs. He cursed her name until his throat was raw.