“My Lady,” he said, bowing. “I am King Arthur…”
“Knights of the round table, Lady of the Lake? That King Arthur?”
“You know of me?” he asked, taken back.
“Everyone knows of you,” said Gwen, unwrapping her sandwich. “Want half?”
“Pray tell, Lady, what is that in your hand?”
“It’s half of a French bread sandwich, lettuce, tomato, vegetarian cheese, pickles and…”
“You partake of that?”
“Yes, I partake. It’s lunch.”
“And those?” he asked, pointing to a bag of potato chips.
“Try one, you’ll love them,” smiled Gwen, handing him the bag.
“You are generous as well as beautiful,” he said, biting into a chip. “It pleases me.”
“Glad you like them, now about Lancelot.”
“My dear and trusted friend,” said Arthur, nodding. “Brothers in battle.”
“My beloved wife.”
“You might want to rethink that,” said Gwen.
“What do you mean, Lady? Are you able to see into the future?”
“No, but I know what’s in the past,” said Gwen, handing him a chocolate covered cupcake.
“How do you know of us?”
“Uh, well, books and movies, mostly. People love you, not evil Mordred, of course. Everyone is crazy about Merlin but it really depends on who is playing him on screen. Sometimes he’s nice and sometimes he isn’t. The holy grail is a woman, by the way, not a cup, so don’t let Sir Gawain spend his life seeking and guarding anything. There’s a book and a movie about that as well.”
“This food is quite tasty.”
“Not what you’re used to though, right? Huge meals served in front of roaring fireplaces are more your speed and sandwiches were unheard of in your time. You ate a lot of dead animals.”
“No one would eat them while they were alive,” he said, startled. “That would be unthinkable.”
“Tell me about the Lady of the Lake, please. I think she’s wonderful.”
“She’s my aunt. Very strict but gentle as well,” he said softly. “She’s also my Goddess Mother, so she watches over me and that’s how I got…”
“Yes. She took an oath to protect me and she does.”
“I wouldn’t let Lance be alone with Guinevere if I were you,” said Gwen.
“Why ever not? They are fast friends.”
“Yes?” he said, his eyes filled with innocence and purpose.
“Look, your story has already been written but since you’re here, you may be able to alter it a bit so that you can have a better ending.”
“Explain yourself,” he said, standing up straighter. “Is there danger?” His hand went to his sword.
“Most definitely, but not the kind you think.”
“Say what you mean, Lady. Do not torment me in this way.”
“Fine. Gwen and Lance are going to be lovers and you will find them in the forest, naked and entwined under a tree. Everyone will freak out and she will go into the nunnery and Lance will head for parts unknown. You will lose both your of your loves, become massively depressed, and the war will be lost. Your nephew, Mordred, and sister Morgan le Fay, are truly evil and you need to stay as far away from them as possible.”
“Are you a witch?” he whispered.
“Some people think so,” she said. “I just want you to know the score, so that you can be prepared to step in, or send Lance away.”
“But she does not love me?” he asked, the blood draining from his face. “How can I keep her from him, if he has her heart?”
“She does love you but well, you know, Lance is kind of hot…. They try to stay away from each other, for your sake, but you’re so trusting, you make it easy for them to go behind your back.”
Arthur sat down on the grass. “Why would they do this? It would be wrong of me to stop them, if she loves him. What right do I have to…?”
“People are terrible beings, Arthur. You KNOW that. You and your knights have certainly killed enough of them. And this is a tough subject…no one ever knows if they should tell a person that the one they love is cheating on them. People say they would want to know but they don’t always mean it and a lot of people say it because they don’t believe it will ever happen to them. If you stop them, you may be able to save your kingdom and your people.”
“Lady, I cannot. My heart is broken even as the words fall from your lips. The sadness is upon me. Either way I have been betrayed by the two people I love, whether in thought or deed.”
“It happens all the time,” sighed Gwen. “I’m sorry.”
“Where is this place?” Asked Arthur, staring at the cars on the street. “Where are the horses?”
“We’re in Grant Park. You’re in Chicago, in a country called America, or the United States, but that’s a joke, since we are anything but united. We all hate each other. Well, not ALL of us, but enough to destroy the country. And the only people with horses are cops.”
“What of the sword?”
“When you are killed, it goes back to your aunt.”
“Death is better than betrayal.”
“Uh, not so much,” said Gwen.
“I must return to my people,” said Arthur, getting up. He reached into a pouch that hung from his belt. “For your services,” he said, handing her a crystal and a coin. “May that you are in error, Lady.”
“I am not in error,” Arthur. “I speak the truth.”
Arthur bowed. “If we meet again. The pleasure will be mine, Lady.”
“One more thing,” said Gwen. “Your sister will trap Merlin in his cave, so you might want to give him a heads up.”
Arthur bowed again and was gone.
Gwen cleaned up the papers from her lunch, put the crystal and coin in her backpack and thought about how some lunches were a lot more interesting than others. Then she headed back to her class on Myths and Legends, finally knowing the topic of her PhD thesis.