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Freedom and flight

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King Giles prepares to lay his life aside,
expecting God to act, but not for him;
after his indecision thinks he grim
his prospects, since with him does fault reside;
or so he sees it. But, one thing he said;
he hoped to have a chance to do things right.
Now sudden in surprise, he sees a sight
that makes him wonder if Sir Trefor’s dead;
he’d heard the Fairy Knight would joust that day,
and wondered how the boy would him acquit -
on such a horse as that, to simply sit -
unless he had the further help of Fay.
But ghostly through the night strides Trefor, mute;
the moonbeams flicker, glitt’ring on his suit.

“Good Lord!” hissed Giles. “You walk right through the gate!
Why dare the castle walls before you run?
Get out of here, before the rising sun -
or else you’ll share my sad and bitter fate!”
Sir Trefor looked at Giles, the King, and saw
him dressed as jester, throned amidst the stocks;
beside, fell instruments that filled a box,
while Giles sat still in chains that chafed and tore.
The box’s contents spoke of death most foul,
deliberately left for him to view -
sharp pincers, irons, knives, and cunning screw,
whose only use was making captives howl.
For Ranulet knew fear produces pain;
and pain produces fear, all o’er again.

“Though I was trapped, a friend has saved the day,
and set me free from Summer’s tower, nearby.
The wall and drawbridge left unguarded - why?
Whatever caused the guard to ride away?

But joy! The way to free the fairy’s known;
and so I prayed three things; now one remains!
To ride grey Meirion through leafy lanes -
and here you are! The way will soon be shown.”

“All of the guard have gone
right through the land to glean
people to see this scene -
Robert will spare not one.

I am the leading act!
Ranulet’s torture toy;
Robert will soon enjoy
teaching the land his tact.

First, you must get me out!
Otherwise may the chains
trouble my anguished brains;
then I will help, no doubt!”

The Fairy Knight beheld the stocks, and frowned;
then went outside the gate, his face all smiles,
shortly returning back to puzzled Giles,
walking the courtyard wide without a sound.

Sir Trefor carried branches in his hands;
enchanted, e’en without the tree they grew.
Between the cracks in aging stocks of yew
he placed them, so that they would burst the bands.
Wide eyed, King Giles beheld them while they throve,
and said, “Your friends tonight are Fay, I’d guess;
for no one else could grow with such success
betwixt the sticks of stocks a greeny grove!”
The aged restraints, retained from Lionel’s reign
when common villains were their wont to hold,
soon creaked about the cracks, all bent and old,
then snap! They broke, and Giles was free again.
But shackled still was he, and barely able
to lead young Trefor off to Robert’s stable.

With clink of chainéd links they hurry off,
hoping that Robert’s mind is far away,
obsessed with raising hell at dawn of day.
They seek the shadows; Giles tries not to cough.
Beyond the cornered keep they safely rest,
and there compare their news of Trefor’s quest.

“Boy, how your voice has changed;
rather, you seem a man!
What has the evening’s span
sent you? Or friends arranged?”

“Summer came soon to help me leave the tower;
early today, I saw her bless the field.
There, in our grieving, both our hearts were healed -
then she made grow a tree, in happy hour!
So down I climbed; but first, I saw the way
hidden from sight to ride the river wide.
Only inside that tower, this day, be spied
how to set free the captive Queen of Fay!
Just Sir Gaheris' horse I need from here,
since fourteen feet of water, as you said,
covers the Durrinelm’s deep river bed,
maintained downstream all year by Robert’s weir.
On such a horse as this, before dawn’s light,
I can bring in the end of Robert’s right!”

What can you mean? I grope --
Ah! I can see it clear!
Yes, that’s the depth, I fear;
but such a horse brings hope!

When in the hall, hell’s hounds
held by a huntsman Elf
jumped into Robert’s self,
leaping with eager bounds.

Now they shall bite his bones!
Watch as he soon destroys
everything he enjoys;
hell hates all those it owns.”

“Indeed, it was the fruit that Robert threw
from which did Summer grow this splendid tree;
so in its pips, he gave escape to me.
He would not spare me food, if that he knew!

And trapping in the tower just served to show
my eyes the means of causing his defeat!
Without his aid, I never could complete
a quest of which Sir Robert did not know!”

“Torturing me ‘fore all
meant he must send the guard
out of the castle yard,
serving his urgent call.

Now with them gone, well then!
Let’s fetch this horse of yours;
and by Sir Robert’s flaws,
I am your guide, again!

Strange seems the moon this night;
yesterday did she ail.
Cut from a fingernail,
barely a beam of light.”

“And yet this night near full she is, it seems;
the Forest King displaced me many days.
And so I cannot tell her proper phase,
but glad am I to see her shining beams.”

To Robert’s stables fair they made their way.
Among the sorcerer’s stalls, they found the one
in which stood slumb’ring great grey Meirion,
who’d been Gaheris' war horse yesterday.
Although she fled from wyvern’s fire, that mare
was trained for battle all her equine life.
Gaheris valued her above a wife,
because she’d go where others would not dare.
And thus in part he won rewards and fame
because he chose to ride this patient steed,
whose cool and calm obedience, at need
had suffered sword and lance, and fear, and flame.
Only the deadly wyvern’s hated smell
feared she; and now, it seemed, ‘twas just as well.

Young Trefor, born to horses, found her needs
had all been met by pages trained with care;
the mare had found a home without compare -
though Robert hated men, he valued steeds.
The sleek black stallion Robert called his own
was tended day and night by cheery lads
attending to his horse’s little fads.
If that great horse could sit, ‘twould have a throne.
With clicks and clucks the Fairy Knight awakes
the sleepy horse which walked with him all day.
For now the mighty mare, so ghostly grey,
must put aside her tiredness and aches.
She dreams of forests deep, where rides a knight -
Sir Trefor, dubbed a warrior by a sprite.

“While you prepare the horse,
I have a tale to tell.
Hear, and regard it well -
Robert feels no remorse.”

While Trefor rattled grain within a pail,
the more to raise grey Meirion from rest,
Aurorielle’s children’s woes King Giles confessed;
he scarce could bear to tell the dreadful tale.

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