Prologue

    In the dawn of a new age, the Roman Empire withdrew their legions from the British Province leaving behind a civilization to defend themselves against an onslaught of raids from both land and sea. The Isle produced an alliance of Kings under the command of Ambrosius Aurelianus, son of Constantine III. For many years, Ambrosius and his armies battled the invasions of the Saxons and Teutonic tribes using the Roman military strategies in the fashion of the great centurions before them to protect their lands. At the end of Ambrosius’ illustrious reign, he befell victim to poisoning. On the eve of his death, there was a miraculous vision in the sky. A star of great magnitude and brilliance appeared with a single beam shining from it, the end of the beam was a ball of fire spread out in the shape of a dragon. From the mouth stretched forth two rays, one towards the country of Gaul and the other towards Ireland, which split into seven smaller shafts. The great sorcerer, Merlin, interpreted the spectacle to the younger brother of the King as thus; he foretold the passing of Ambrosius and explained to Prince Uther that he was to be King. Furthermore, the first beam represented his son and the second, a daughter; and from them, whose sons and grandsons shall hold one after the other, the Kingship of Briton.

    Assuming his position of authority, Uther was henceforth called the ‘Pendragon’ and used the image of the dragon comet as his sigil. He was the overwhelming choice of both the warlords and the people of Briton and was crowned High King in a coronation of great pageantry. Towards the end of the fifth century, Uther became obsessed with power and moreover, his affections towards another man’s wife. With the guidance of Merlin, former chief advisor to Ambrosius, they plotted against Gorlois, Duke of Cornwall and through Merlin’s skillful art of deception, Uther beguiled and seduced the wife of Gorlois, the beautiful Igraine. On the eve of the imposture, far from the castle of Tintagel, where Uther lay with the Duchess, the Duke fatefully met his death in battle.

    Arthur was born son of Uther and Igraine at Tintagel and the child was immediately surrendered to Merlin, as Uther had agreed, in exchange for his masterful illusions on that destined night. Years later, Uther died leaving the Britons without a rightful heir to the throne. Meanwhile, Arthur was being raised by Sir Cynyr of Penllyn in the Kingdom of Gwynedd where Merlin himself was reared, as a favor to the great sorcerer. Arthur learned the skills of knighthood and performed the duties of a squire for his older, foster brother, Sir Cai. In the days ahead, Arthur would fulfill his destiny as foreseen by Merlin, by drawing a sword from the sacred stone, a deed only the future High King could achieve. Yet another one of Merlin’s plans, devised to guarantee his acceptance without resistance from the other powerful kings waiting in the balance.

     During these tumultuous times, one virtuous king withstood the waves of genocide. Once considered a ferocious warrior and longtime friend of Arthur, King Uriens. of Northern Wales emerged from Celtic royalty as a heroic leader. In the triumphant battle of Mt. Badon, Uriens and his forces were significant in King Arthur’s greatest victory over the Saxons. Morgana, Arthur’s enchantress, half-sister and presiding Lady of Avalon, was betrothed to Uriens by Arthur for his great deeds. Reluctantly, she wed Uriens and henceforth, he became known as a ruler in a realm within the mystical, “Otherworld.”

    King Uriens and his wife gave birth to a son named Owein. As a young man, he became one of King Arthur’s most beloved nephews and a Knight of the Round Table, embarking on many adventures. His massive build and relentless spirit were a fearsome sight on the battlefield in the eyes of any opposing enemy. As legend has it, Owein possessed extraordinary powers, inherited by Morgana, which he used to command a mysterious swarm of black ravens. Further evidence of his capabilities was proven at an early age when he saved the life of a lion by slaying an attacking serpent. In return, the grateful beast became the guardian of Owein and devoured dissident aggressors when he was outnumbered (because of this companionship, he was sometimes called “Knight of the Lion”). On one of his many quests, he discovered a most unusual challenge and battled the defender of a magical fountain in the forest of Broceliande. By defeating his opponent Sir Escalados, he won the affections of the Countess of the castle and eventually returned to King Arthur’s court with his ‘‘Lady of the Fountain’’.

    When King Uriens was slain, Sir Owein left Camelot to return to his own land. With “The Three Hundred Swords of Cynfarch” (the warriors of his grandfather) he campaigned against the Saxons along with his flight of ravens and they were victorious wherever they went. In return for his loyalty, Arthur favored Owein’s kingdom with military support and imported gifts from around the world.

    In the tragic battle of Camlann, Arthur was mortally wounded by his bastard son, Mordred. He was taken to the Isle of Avalon, his final resting place, in hopes that one day he would return as King once again. This catastrophic war turned the brotherhood of knights against each other and destroyed the unity of the land. Sir Bedwyr was the knight of the Round Table to survive the battle and cast King Arthur’s enchanted sword, “Excalibur” back into the waters of the ‘‘Lady of the Lake’’ to fulfill Arthur’s last request.

    Owein distraught with grief soon became vulnerable to the advancing Saxons seeking revenge on the allies of Arthur. On a cold and stormy night, his castle was overpowered by hundreds of barbarians. In the siege, Owein and his wife Laudine were slain and much of the kingdom was burned. Eventually, the usurpers were annihilated by the remaining knights led by Orowen, son of Owein. In the aftermath of the invasion, Orowen inherited the throne, upholding the tradition of his family legacy and rebuilt his domain into a great commonwealth, respected by the people and leaders across the land once again.

    This was the beginning of a new era in the wake of a powerful dynasty. These are the stories passed down through the ages, of the gifted King Orowen, the challenges of his chivalry, the finding of his Queen, their encounter with the otherworldly Xandera and the mythical creatures of her realm. In a twist of fate that changed the course of their destiny, they entered a spellbinding journey through time.

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My Inspiration for ‘Farewell to Camelot’.

Arthurian literature has been a prolific source of inspiration by some of our greatest authors and poets over the last few centuries. I am no exception.

I would like to pay tribute to those who have been an unparalleled source of influence; Sir Thomas Malory, Edmund Spencer, Alfred Lord Tennyson, T.S. Eliot, Chretien de Troyes, Mary Stewart and John Steinbeck. I owe personal thanks to one, in particular, the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, with whom I had the privilege of spending an afternoon in an empty exposition hall discussing her perspective on what it meant to be a fictional author (while she signed my entire collection of her books). Another one of my favorite authors, Anne Rice – the queen of erotica and the ‘Vampire Chronicles’ – also offered me gracious words of encouragement at her book signing in Riverside, California’s prestigious Mission Inn.

My appreciation goes out to author and co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, Jann Wenner for his insight and generosity on the flight to Monterey (and introducing me to Clint Eastwood). Also too, Playboy’s west coast editor, Marilyn Grabowski for her influence and hospitality many years ago.

I wish to extend my gratitude to the songbirds of our time, whose voices provided a soundtrack of beautiful music that was instrumental in guiding me through this epic journey; Loreena McKennitt, Sarah Brightman, Ann & Nancy Wilson, Stevie Nicks, Maire Brennan, Amy Lee, Candice Night, Mediaeval Baebes, and ‘Celtic Women’ everywhere.

My inspiration extends to Boris Vallejo for his visionary, artistic images that have always amazed me and to the acclaimed artist, Olivia De Bernardis, whose work and friendly words of advice I shall never forget.

Had it not been for my Brookside School teacher, Susan Rice, who introduced me to Mythology, and followed by taking our entire class on a field trip to Greece. She instilled my profound and everlasting interest in classical lore. At Seaholm High School, my creative writing teacher not only tolerated my early attempts at erotica but also submitted a short story of mine which resulted in a Detroit News Scholastic Gold Key writing award (thank you for not sending me to the principal’s office instead). To my University High history teacher, Ms. Farrell, you enthused me with your academic wisdom and grace.

Most importantly, I drew support and inspiration from my family, especially my wife of 30 years; Linda, my parents, my children, grandchildren, new and my old friends (you know who you are).  Lastly, my furry ones for their unconditional love and devotion.

Excerpt

…”Sir Grimsley finds himself separated from the rest in the eerie mists. He cannot account for how he lost his way and there is no one to answer his call. The stout knight is a company man, proud to wear the signet of Rheged on his ring and feels uneasy away from the regiment. His hair is a long mane of tight brown curls and his handsome face is normally full of charm and good humor, but now he is out of sorts. As he trudges through the wandering wood, he hears the frantic cries of a damsel in need echoing in the murky haze. Suddenly she appears before him in a ghostly white-pleated chiffon gown, which flaunts her sumptuous figure, diffused through the sheerness of it, and with her arms outreached, the floating folds and creases fan out like the feathery wings of a great white egret gliding towards him. She is a rare splendor with wild-eyed desperation.
        “I beseech thee, fair knight…” her hair is abound in a beautiful mess, she looks distraught and disheveled in her plight. The diaphanous fabric clings to her damp skin from the dripping fog and is pulled askew off her bare shoulder. A trickle of blood stains the corner of her trembling mouth. “Help me… there is a cruel knight nigh upon us… I have escaped his pursuit only but for a moment!”
       Grimsley is enthralled by her loveliness and impassioned by her rueful plea, he is in the prime of his youth and his courage runs hot.
       “Upon my honor, I will defend thee from this miscreant…”
       “Nay my lord! I must implore… for my life, taketh me hence, far away and swift as thy horse can flee… He is powerful, with a dark soul, full of malice and practiced in evil customs… I beg of you, please save me!”
       He lifts her up into the saddle and heeds the adamant warning, albeit he would boldly challenge this foe in an affray with sword and shield. Her welfare is paramount – such men will always be ill-fated in turn – for now, he must obey his oath of chivalry and bring her to safety. They charge blindly down the obscured trail, she is aghast with fright, her nails digging into his ribs with terror. Full speed and free they fled, never looking back.
       “Aye… aye… aye…” she weeps and wails in breathless relief as she bounces up and down behind him to the galloping strides of the snorting destrier. Her bare feet dangle without stirrups to the rhythm of the racing hooves below, her inner thighs squish hard and repeatedly against the pounding leather. “O my champion! … Ooh… mercy me… faster! … O how blessed thou art… aye! … Aye!!”
       Louder she cries, gasping as she pulls firmly on his hair, reining his head backward, then drives her fangs voraciously into his neck. His blood spurts warm and thick through her craving lips, groaning deep as she tightens her rigid hold with insurmountable strength. The horse’s pace winds down to a halt as Grimsley’s unforeseen fight is over. Caught in her alluring snare, he falls asunder to the ground, pallid and slain. With a smoldering laugh, the immortal Ailleann rides off into the mists”.