The Strife of Camlann, Book II of The Arthurian Age
Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy
Arthur’s Men have returned to Britain to keep the peace between fractious allies. Gawain wants only to raise his family and forget the war, yet he carries a heavy burden: an oath to maintain a terrible lie.
But is it a lie?
Looming conflicts threaten more than any border or throne. The course of history, the future of the Britons, will be decided at Camlann.
Hueil rushed them, murder in his eyes. With one hand, he reached down to grab Gawain by the throat and punched with the other, hitting Gawain below the eye and momentarily blinding him in a flash of light and pain. Gawain hooked Hueil’s ankle with one foot and, with the other, kicked him hard in the knee, sending Hueil to the ground again. Gawain’s head finally contacted his captor’s jaw solidly enough to stun the man. Gawain broke free, twisting and jabbing his elbow into the man’s midriff. The fellow’s breath burst from his chest, leaving him gasping. Gawain jumped to his feet, his left eye blurry and swelling.
Hueil started to his feet, yelped, and grasped his right knee. Turning his eyes on Gawain, he snarled, his hand going for the long knife at his belt.
“Hueil!” Gawain barked, causing his foe to pause. “For the memory of Etmic, I will let this end now.” His voice lowered. “But if that blade sees light, God help me, I will kill you here and drag your body behind my horse to your father’s gates!”
Hueil froze, his anger shifting to shock.
God strike me dumb! Gawain realised his mistake too late. He had managed to keep questions about Arthur’s war in Gaul at bay for a year. No secret so terrible could be kept for long, and slips like this could begin the unravelling.
“What do you know of my brother?” Hueil sputtered blood onto his beard. “He’s fallen? You saw this?”
The commotion drew curious folk out of their shelters. Maglo stood in the rain, a hammer in his hand, watching intently. The broken pole had torn his awning.
“I saw him fall,” Gawain nearly whispered, blood mixing with the rain dripping from his nose. “He was a true and valorous man. Despite our families’ differences, I considered him a friend.”
“Why have you never told us this?” Hueil demanded.
“Am I a cyhiraeth,” Gawain retorted, “doomed to wander, bewailing the death of every warrior lost far from home? I’ve had enough tidings of sorrow to bring to my own people.” He shook his head and turned to Maglo.
“I’m sorry for the disturbance and the damage,” Gawain said, handing Maglo a copper ring as compensation. “May God smile upon your journey.”
Gawain turned and retrieved his horse from the pickets, departing without a look back. No good would come of this. Stories of Arthur’s victories in Gaul crossed Britain with every traveller and merchant, yet no one knew of their retreat to Avalon. Gawain’s oath prevented him from speaking the truth, so he avoided the subject altogether. Even absent the oath, he had no wish to recall the disaster. He spent the long hour’s ride home berating himself for his loss of control and thoughtless words.
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Historical fiction author, Sean Poage, has had an exciting and varied life, as a laborer, salesman, soldier, police officer, investigator, computer geek and author. A history buff his entire life, he is most drawn to the eras of the ancient Greeks and Dark Ages Britain. Travelling the world to see history up close is his passion.
These days he works in the tech world, writes when he can, and spends the rest of the time with his family, which usually means chores and home improvement projects, with occasional time for a motorcycle ride, scuba dive, or a hike in the beautiful Maine outdoors.
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