Here begins the tale of the Abduction of Guenivere. It is an ancient tale, and I pray my telling of it be pleasing to all.
Long ago, when Arthur ruled the Island of the Mighty from his Court at Camelot, it happened one August that the Queen wished to hold a great feast to celebrate the First Harvest. So she gathered together a group of her ladies to go into the countryside near the castle. Here they would gather late Summer flowers and other things to decorate the Great Hall. As peace had reigned for many years, Queen Guenivere took with her only a small band of knights to act as honor guard.
Now it happened at that time that there lived a Duke named Melegaunt of the Summer Country, who was jealous of Arthur's power and celebrity. Most of all he greatly wished to possess the sword Excalibur for himself, so that he might rule the Britain. Therefore when he learned of Queen Guenivere's intention to enter the wilderness with but little protection, he devised a plan.
With lightning swiftness, Duke Melegaunt and his men fell upon the Queen's men, slaying every knight with ease. Guenivere and her ladies were taken captive and carried to the Duke stronghold in the Summer Country. In this inpenetrable stronghold, the hostages were locked in the most secure tower, as Melegaunt and his men prepared to receive Arthur, who was sure to bring his warband to rescue the Queen.
Now when news of the abduction reached Camelot, the Pendragon was enraged. Immediately he began to gather together the Knights of the Round Table and his warband, making ready for war against Melegaunt. But such preparations took a great deal of time, especially in the era of peace which now surrounded Arthur's Court. Two of the Round Table Knights were impatient, and they set off on their own to rescue Gueinivere.
They were Sir Gawain and Sir Lancelot, and both had their own reasons for wishing to rescue the Queen. Sir Gawain of Orkney was the Pendragon's own nephew, and his great love for Arthur motivated him exceedingly. Also for many years he had been building his reputation as a protector of women, as it was his desire to become a Knight of the Maidens of the Wells, who served and protected the hidden Priestesses of the Grail.
But Sir Lancelot du Lac's reasons for wishing to rescue Guenivere were more personal and more secretive. He held a considerable love for her. Not the love of a Knight for his Queen, but rather the love of a man for a woman. For years had be kept this love hidden, for he knew it would bring shame and disgrace upon himself and all the Round Table Assembly if it were to be known.
And so the two set off together for the Summer Country, as the Pendragon dressed his war party for battle. Soon Sir Gawain and Sir Lancelot arrived on the shores of a lake, in the center of which was the small island where stood Melegaunt's fortress. Dolorous Gard. There were but two ways to approach the stronghold. One was a narrow and perilous bridge along which a knight must crawl upon his hands and knees. The other was precarious tunnel below the lake in which a knight might find all mannner of danger. Lancelot decided to take the bridge and Gawain the tunnel. And so the two went their separate ways, each praying that they would be the first to reach the fortress and rescue the Queen.
Lancelot started off upon the bridge, crawling along it's narrow surface. He soon discovered what made the bridge so hazardous was that it was covered with blades imbedded in the rock, making it as sharp as a sword. As he slowly made his way across the bridge, Melegaunt's men fired arrows and threw rocks at him from the stronghold's towers, so that when he at last reached the other side, he was bleeding from many wounds.
Sir Gawain did not have an easier time in his chosen course. Within the darkened confines of the underground passage, he was forced to fight against the slimy creatures which lived there. With sharp teeth and vicious claws, these terrible beasts defended the tunnel against all invaders, so that Gawain too was wounded and bleeding when he reached the other side.
From her tower prison, Queen Guenivere watched the two knights arrive from their separate directions and begin to fight with Melegaunt's men. At once she took heart, for she knew that no other knights were their equal.
Duke Melegaunt also watched from another tower, and soon he realized that his enterprise was doomed, for his men were no match for the great Sir Gawain and the mighty Sir Lancelot. Together these two knights, weakened though they were, slew scores of his warriors, fighting their way into his fortress and up to the very tower in which he had locked himself.
As the door to his chamber burst open and the knights entered, their swords red with the blood of his mercenaries, Duke Melegaunt fell to his knees and begged for mercy. Lancelot and Gawain conferred with one another, and at last they decided to allow the Pendragon to pronounce judgement upon the trecherous Duke.
After this, Lancelot collapsed, for he was greatly wounded by his passage over the sword-sharp bridge and the battle with Melegaunt's men. Gawain too was weakened, but not as badly, so he left Lancelot in the care of the Queen, as he set out to meet Arthur and the warband, dragging the repentant Malegaunt along.
So Guenivere tended to Lancelot's wounds, and as looked upon his face, she saw there the great love that he held for her. She could stand it no more, and she confessed to him that she had been harboring a secret love for him from the moment they had met on the day he arrived to escort her to her wedding.
Lancelot was overjoyed, and he professed his love to her as well. At last they were in one another's arms, kissing and embracing as only lovers should. But soon they came to their senses and separated, for they knew that Arthur would soon arrive, and they must keep their love secret from him. For his part, the Pendragon suspected nothing, despite the glances exchanged by his Queen and his First Knight. So overjoyed was Arthur to have Guenivere safe again, that offered to split Malegaunt's lands between her two rescuers. Sir Gawain respectfully refused, for he had lands enough, but Lancelot accepted, changing the name of the stronghold to Joyous Gard, for it was here that he first learned that the Queen returned his love.
As for Melegaunt, he was stripped of his titles and lands for his trechery and forced to live the rest of his days a prisoner within the very tower in which he had held the Queen hostage.
So Arthur and Guenivere returned to Camelot, where the First Harvest feast became a homecoming celebration as well. Many toasts were made that day to the Pendragon and his Queen, and to the two brave knights who had rescued her from the Duke of the Summer Country.
Here ends the Tale of the Abduction of Guenivere. May her Blessed Spirit be pleased with my telling of the tale, and may my ancestors smile upon me, now and ever.