Retelling Myths: Mordred at Camlann
Today, we’re reprinting one of my favourite Retelling Myths on Substack!
Mordred at Camlann
For this story, we will be taking a look at the Arthurian legends.
Specifically, a retelling of one of the last moments of Camelot – the moment when the traitor knight Mordred faces his father, King Arthur.
I looked at my father – the great King Arthur.
The father that has never once addressed me as 'son', and only ever as 'Sir Mordred'.
The father that has never shown me any love.
Was it because of the prophecies that foretold the doom that my mere existence would bring to Camelot?
Was it because he was too busy being the perfect king?
Or was it simply because I was the product of accidental incest, the result of a tryst between him and my mother, his half-sister?
Alas, whatever the reason was, it was too late.
I had already betrayed my father, and seized his kingdom.
And here, at Camlann, we fought our last battle, surrounded by dead knights.
My father's lance pierced through me.
"Father..." I looked down at lance.
"So," I said, "I wasn't even worthy enough to be slain by Excalibur..."
I looked up at my father's face.
And I saw them – those uncaring eyes, as if I was just any other knight that he had slain.
I screamed, as the rage burned inside of me.
"That will be your last mistake!" I yelled.
I charged at King Arthur, driving the lance deeper into me.
After a moment of paralysis, the king dropped the lance and started to draw Excalibur.
But, that moment was all that I needed.
With all my might, I brought my sword down upon my father's head.
My sword smashed into my father's helmet, and his helmet smashed into his head.
Stunned, my father stumbled backwards, as I fell down to my knees.
The lance halted my descent to the ground – and there I stayed, dying on my knees.
I watched as my father fell to his knees as well, and fumbled to take off his helmet.
"My king!" a knight ran up to my father – Sir Bedivere, one of my father's most loyal knights.
As Sir Bedivere helped my father to his feet, my father finally managed to take off his helmet.
Even in my pain, I could not help but muster a laugh.
Sir Bedivere glared at me as he helped my father walk away from the battlefield, but he knew that it wouldn't matter.
Even my father knew that it wouldn't matter anymore, as he walked away, with blood trickling down his head.
I had done it – I had dealt a mortal wound to King Arthur.
As all those damned prophecies that had haunted my entire life had foretold – I had doomed Camelot.
Thusly, surrounded by the dead around me, I closed my eyes, prepared to join them.
Mordred has always been an interesting character to me, as he is the treacherous knight that dooms Camelot.
His motivations and relationship with King Arthur has had a lot of different reinterpretations over the years (heck, in some of the older stories, he's not even King Arthur's son!), which leaves a lot of potential for creative storytellers to put their own spin own it.
This was actually the first story that I had written for this series, and the idea for retelling other myths and legends grew from there.
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