[personal profile] arthur_of_the_britons
Episode 1.6: The Duel

Writer: Terence Feely


OPENING SCENE


A misty morning. The sounds of birds. Arthur, Kai, Llud and two other Celts ride into view, over a hill. Some other riders are seen in the distance, coming to meet them.

Arthur: Mark of Cornwall.

Kai: He won’t be pleased to see us.

Llud: He’s a Celt. And like us he cannot always have what pleases him.

Llud rubs his left shoulder.

Llud: Oh ...

Kai casts a worried glance at Llud, then looks at Arthur and shakes his head. Llud makes another sound of pain.

Arthur: Perhaps it was wrong for all of us to have come. One of us should ride back and keep command of the camp.

Llud: My place is at the battle – not at the hearth with the women and children.

Kai: It’s a long hard ride, even to reach the battle area.

Arthur and Llud turn to look at him.

Llud: I was making long, hard rides before you were born.

Kai: [as if Llud has just made his point for him] Ye-es.

Llud: It’s this weather gets into my shoulder. Well, are we going to stay here gossiping, or are we going to see Mark? Come on!

They ride forward to meet Mark and his four companions.

Arthur: This is the battle that decides.

Mark: Decides what? I’m in no trouble.

Mark and his men chuckle.

Arthur: Unless the Saxons are stopped at Modred’s Field they’ll overrun us. And then you … will be in trouble.

Mark: You asked for men, I gave you men. Now you come begging for horsemen.

Arthur: A messenger has brought word that the Saxons outnumber us, six to one. But as warriors they are raw. And they’ve never met cavalry.

Mark: Why should it be I must get you out of trouble once again?

Llud: Because you’re a Celt. And there’s such a thing as loyalty to the blood. Perhaps you haven’t heard of that in Cornwall.

Mark and Llud give each other hostile looks.

Llud: If you’ve no stomach for the fight, say so, and let those who have get on.

Mark: I’ve no cause to like you, Arthur. But I like Saxons less. I’ll help you fight your battle. But I give you fair warning. It’s a long way to Modred’s field. Keep him … [points at Llud] out of my way. [to horse] Hah!

Mark and his men turn and ride away. Llud watches them go.

[OPENING CREDITS]


PART 1


Arthur, Kai, Llud, Mark of Cornwall and their men are sitting in small groups around a campfire. Llud’s shoulder is still troubling him. Kai is dicing with Arthur and Mark. Kai throws.

Arthur: That’s another ten pieces. I’ll own you for life soon.

Kai: I’ll owe you.

Some of the other men are drawing straws.

Kai: Throw.

Arthur: You owe me enough already, you’ve been losing to me for weeks.

Kai: Then it’s time for me to have a win. Go on, throw.

An owl hoots. One of Mark’s men, Luke, comes over to Llud.

Luke: Take your chance with the dice, Llud?

Llud: [still rubbing his shoulder] No. Thank you.

Luke: Oh, come! I’ll wager you.

Llud: Night’s for sleeping, not gambling.

Luke laughs at him.

Luke: Sleep is for the old.

Llud lies down to sleep, with his sword clutched to his chest.



Next morning. Most of the men are carrying their saddles towards their horses, but Llud is still asleep. Mark stands and looks down at him, then looks over at Luke, gestures at Llud with his sword, and mouths something. Luke evidently understands, and nods. He goes to Llud and rubs the tip of his sword against Llud’s elbow. Llud wakes, and instantly slashes with his sword, giving Luke a mortal wound to the stomach. Luke falls dead.


Mark: You murdering Celt!

Mark attacks Llud; Arthur and Kai immediately restrain him.

Mark: Let go! You did that deliberately. Luke was my best man! I’ll kill him!

Arthur: Don’t be a fool. Why should Llud want to kill him?

Kai: Even the rawest boy knows better than wake a seasoned fighter with a sword.

Llud throws down his sword, and comes to face Mark.

Llud: It was instinct. I ran him through before I was awake. I’m sorry, I’ll … I’ll make amends to his family.

Llud walks away. Mark finally calms down enough for Arthur and Kai to let him go, though Kai keeps a wary eye on him. While some of the men carry Lukes body away, Llud goes to the river and kneels down, to wash the blood from his hand. Mark follows him, carrying Llud’s sword.

Mark: Look at me. Murderer.

Llud looks haunted.

Mark: You said I know nothing of loyalty. I know this much. When someone slays one of mine, I slay his killer.

Mark throws Llud’s sword – it lands in the water.

Mark: Take up your sword.

Llud carries on washing. Mark comes right up to Llud.

Mark: What’s the matter? Can’t you kill someone who’s prepared for you?

Llud turns to look at him.

Llud: I will not fight you now. We’ve already lost one man. If we fight, one of us will die.

Mark comes down to face him.

Mark: You will die!

Llud: That just means another man gone. Only the Saxons will gain from that. After the battle … I will fight you.

Mark: After the battle, is it? Perhaps you are hoping that I won’t come through this battle alive. I tell you this, my friend. This is one battle I will come through. If I never come through another. And when I do, I’m gonna come for you … and I’m gonna kill you … with my bare hands.



The Celts are riding through the countryside, Arthur in the lead, then Kai, then the rest, with Llud and Mark bringing up the rear. Mark draws level with Llud.

Mark: Just stay in front, My Friend, where I can see you. I don’t want anything happening to me behind my back. And I don’t want anything happening to you either. I’m keeping you safer than a mother tends her firstborn child.


At the front of the group.

Kai: I bet you the first tree we see through that gap will be a sycamore.

Arthur: Why a sycamore?

Kai: [shrugs] A feeling.

Arthur: There may be hundreds of them.

Kai: Of course. The first prominent one.

Arthur smiles knowingly.

Arthur: Prominent.

Kai: Prominent.


Back with Llud and Mark.

Mark: Nothing to say? Murderer. You weren’t short of words when you were telling me my duty in Cornwall. [chuckles] [to horse] Yah!

A black rabbit jumps out and scares Mark’s horse, causing it to rear. Llud turns to look. Mark falls; his foot is caught in his stirrup, and he is dragged behind the horse. Llud turns his horse, and goes to his aid.

Llud: [to horse] Hah!


Back with Arthur and Kai.

Kai: There you are. What did I tell you? [points] A sycamore.


Meanwhile, Llud is still galloping back to Mark.


Arthur: Nonsense! That’s a dead lime tree.

Kai: No, beyond that. Immediately behind. She’s my sycamore.

Arthur: The first thing I saw was that dead tree.


Mark is still being dragged behind his horse, but Llud has now caught it.


Arthur: My dead tree wins, you lose. Remember? [slaps Kai on the arm with the back of his hand] Prominent!


Llud stops Mark’s horse. Mark looks pained. He gets up, his cloak askew.

Mark: Oh, don’t think anything has changed, Llud. This is not a song sung by minstrels. You still killed one of my best men. And when the battle is over, I’ll still kill you.

Llud looks disgusted, throws Mark his reins and rides on. Mark sags against his horse.



It is evening. The men are sitting around a campfire, eating meat they have just cooked, and drinking. Mark appears in good spirits.


Mark: What’s the matter, Llud? Lost your appetite? I’d keep my strength up if I were you. You’re gonna need it.

Kai: If he has to keep chasing after cavalry who can’t keep their seats, you’re right.

Mark: Oh, perhaps he’s regretting that I’m not still being dragged across the countryside.

Llud throws his meat into the fire in disgust.



It is morning. The men ride up to a copse and dismount.


Arthur: The two shortest twigs go out for the boar.

Arthur holds a bundle of twigs upright in his fist. Every man takes one.

Celt 1: Not me.

Celt 2: Not me.

Kai: Not me.

Celt 3: Nor me.

All hold up their twigs and compare.

Celt 4: Hmmm.

Celt 5: No.

Celt 6: No.

Llud and Mark have the shortest.

Mark: Come, Old Man. I’ll teach you how to hunt.

Llud throws his twig away in disgust, and follows Mark, who hands him a spear. They go into the copse, Mark first, then Mark, in a mockery of politeness, indicates that Llud should take the lead. He does. They go deeper into the thicket. We hear a bird and then something that sounds like a boar. Llud holds out a hand to bring Mark to a halt. They listen.

Mark: You’ll drive, I kill.

Mark goes off in the direction of the noises, with Llud following him. A Saxon steps out from behind a tree and aims a spear at Llud. Mark sees him.

Mark: Llud! Behind you!

Llud ducks, and Mark throws his spear, killing the Saxon. Llud and Mark draw their swords, and look around to see whether there are any more Saxons lying in wait, but they don’t see any. Mark goes towards Llud, who nods thankfully.

Mark: No Saxon is going to cheat me of my revenge.

Llud’s face falls.

[INTERVAL]


PART 2


It is evening. Arthur and Kai are lying side by side on the ground, looking at something in front of them. Kai is clearly drunk.

Arthur: [thoughtful] Ants. Is there anything you wouldn’t bet on?

Kai: Hmph! There. [gestures with his knife] Heading for that piece of meat. Hey! Get off the course! [leans over to chase a toad away, then sets his knife down on the blanket] They’re dead level. I bet you that my ant will get to that piece of meat before yours.

Arthur nods, amused. The toad is still wandering around the edge of the ants’ racecourse.

Kai: Is it a wager?

Arthur: [smiles] If you’re determined to be a poor man.

Kai: Well, mine can’t lose. He’s a wild horse.

Llud is trying to sleep.

Kai: Are you ready?

Arthur nods. Kai lifts his knife – the starting gate.

Kai: Watch him go! Ho ho!

The rest of the men begin to gather round.

Kai: Come on, my pretty! Lovely roast boar, yours for the taking!

Mark looks amused.

Kai: Come on Cedric!

Arthur: Mine’s a stayer! Look at that action.

Kai: Ah!

Arthur: Stamina. That’s what counts. Come on, Theodore.

Kai: Come on Cedric! That’s my boy! Streak away now!

Arthur: Come on Theodore!

Kai: Here comes that cursed frog again! Argh!

Kai tries to chase the toad away but Arthur stops him.

Arthur: He’s part of the race.

Mark laughs quietly.

Arthur: It’s the same for both of them.

Celts: Aaaah! [Kai’s ant has evidently been eaten]

Kai: Aaaawww. [shakes his head] No race! [he stands] How was I to know my runner would be gobbled up?

Arthur: How could I know Theodore was a thoroughbred?

Kai: He’ll be a dead thoroughbred if I put my foot on him.

Kai raises his foot as if to stamp on Arthur’s ant. Arthur gets up and wrestles with him, firstly to save his ant, and then to stop Kai from falling over.

Llud: [not the least bit amused] In the name of the Gods! We’ve got a battle to fight – tomorrow, for all we know. What are you? Men or boys?

Kai turns away.

Arthur: Just a little sport, Llud.

Llud: You’ll get all the sport you need before you’re much older.



Modred’s Field. The bodies of dead Celts are strewn over the battlefield. Arthur, Kai and the others survey the scene of slaughter.

Kai: Too late.

Arthur: They’ll pay for this!

They ride on, looking for the perpetrators. Arthur holds up a hand. A fairly large group of Saxons comes into view.

Arthur: That’s as far west as you’re going, My Friends.

Llud is grinning at the prospect of a fight.

Leading Saxon: Battle formation!

The Saxons form an arrow-head shape.

Leading Saxon: On the left side.

Saxons on the left run into place.

Leading Saxon: Slope arms!

The Saxons ready their spears – all pointing forwards. Arthur signals the advance. The Celts advance, drawing their swords, then picking up speed. All shout as they get nearer. They ride past and round behind the Saxons, making them break formation. Then it is pretty much a rout, and it isn’t long before the Saxons are all killed or on the run.



Kai rides into view over the rise of a hill, and down to where Llud is tightening his girth.


Kai: Are you alright, Llud?

Llud: Yes.

Kai: The men fought well.

Llud nods, and goes back to whatever he was doing.

Mark: [to horse] Hey! [incoherent sound] Hah!

Mark rides over the hill into view. Llud sighs.

Llud: Here comes trouble.

Mark stops some distance off and dismounts. He advances slowly on Llud.

Mark: I watched you fight … Old Man. Anyone who fights like that is too valuable to kill.

Mark takes Llud by the shoulders.

Mark: I’ve decided to spare your life.

Mark slaps Llud’s shoulder, then turns and walks away.

Llud: Nobody spares Llud.

Mark turns back.

Mark: It’s forgotten. [comes towards Llud again] You’re a mighty warrior. In the midst of the battle, one of my kinsmen was almost killed. You saved his life. My hand.

Mark offers his hand. Llud ignores it.

Llud: You made me sweat for three days and three nights. I’m ready for you now.

Mark looks disconcerted.

Llud: Fight! You barrow of lard!

Mark roars and draws his sword.

Llud: Not your sword! You said … [impersonates Mark’s intonations] ‘I will be coming for you … and I will kill you … with my bare hands.’ Or have you had better thoughts since then?

While still speaking, Llud punches Mark in the stomach. Kai grins. Llud hits Mark on the head. Kai rides off in haste as the fight continues.


Kai rides up to Arthur.


Kai: Suppose Llud and Mark were to fight. Who would you bet on?

Arthur: Llud’s a fine warrior. But Mark is younger and stronger.

Kai: You say Mark, then?

Arthur: Yes.

Kai: Would you take the bet?

Arthur: If it makes you happy, Kai.

Kai: Make me happy! Come and see! [to horse] Yar!

They both ride off.


The fight is still going, with various grunting noises from the participants. Mark appears to be getting the better of Llud until Arthur and Kai arrive, when Llud gets the upper hand.

Kai laughs. Arthur looks disgruntled.


Arthur: You didn’t tell me that if they fought, it would be with fists.

Kai: You didn’t ask.

Arthur: No contest. Llud’s arm makes it unequal.

Kai: It does, doesn’t it! But you took the bet.

The fight goes on. Finally, Llud fells Mark with a blow to the back of his neck from his metal hand.

Kai: Oh, very good, Llud! [chuckles]

Llud pants. Mark struggles to his feet and gives an ironic laugh.

Mark: Ah, it’s no disgrace … to be beaten by a warrior … with an iron fist.

Llud: It’s no disgrace … to renew a friendship with a brother Celt. [holds out his iron fist] Let’s make it a lasting one.

Mark shakes Llud’s hand with both of his.



The Celts are riding home.


Arthur: It was an unfair bet. You knew the circumstances of the fight.

Kai: That’s what gambling’s all about. Knowing something the other man doesn’t.

Arthur: Alright. I bet you I can reach that shepherd’s hut before you do.

Kai: Ah, who’s getting desperate?

Arthur: Do you take the bet or not?

Kai: It’ll be a pleasure to take your money.

Kai offers his hand, and Arthur clasps it.

Arthur: Ready?

Kai: Uhuh!

Arthur and Kai release each other’s arms.

Arthur and Kai: [to their horses] Hah!

They ride off, but Arthur veers right while Kai carries straight on and comes to a bank too steep for his horse to descend. Arthur comes out on the far side, and looks across at Kai.

Kai: [grinning] It was an unfair bet. You knew the terrain.

Arthur: That’s what gambling’s all about. Knowing something the other fellow doesn’t. Remember? [to horse] Hah!

Arthur rides off. Kai sits there chuckling, and watching as Arthur gallops away.

[ROLL THE CREDITS]

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Arthur of the Britons

August 2015

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