As I mentioned the last time I felt inclined to write, I'm thinking about continuing The King's Trilogy. In fact, I did put a bit of time in on chapter one of the third book The King's Son. Prior to that though I re-read both The King's Tale and The King's Heart, to get myself back into the world of Lysnowydh. I started on the first book in late 2005, and the first edition was published in 2009. The second book, and the 2nd edition of the first book, were published in 2012. Although I knew the outcome of both stories, it was fun reading them again. Reading and criticizing, of course.
I've said before, I was asked to make a pretty major change to the ending of The King's Heart. The "event", taken in modern context, was pretty shocking. In medieval times, and considering King Christopher as a character, it was probably fine the way it was. But, it's in the past, and during this recent re-reading I came to accept the fact that I'd changed it.
The King's Heart received a fair amount of criticism. There were outright, no other way to put it than falsehoods, spread on some message boards. The removal of the "event" left a lot of unconnected scenes that were also criticized as now they were out of context. And, there were people who found it not believable. How could Dafydd, who had proven himself as a fierce warrior, be left as a sniveling coward who wouldn't leave the castle? Here is a small excerpt:
Whilst last minute preparations were made, Richard stood with Christopher and Dafydd in the hall as they all broke their fast. Breads, cheeses, and ale had been set out, and the men stood clustered in groups eating.
"Dafydd," Christopher said when he had drained his tankard and set it aside, "it is my wish, as I have said, and that you go along with us today to Strasnedh."
"I am aware 'tis your wish," Dafydd said, and he drew a deep breath, "yet as I have told you from the beginning, I have no desire to ever see Strasnedh again."
Anger flared in Christopher's eyes, and his voice was harsh as he said, "Art coward?"
Dafydd dipped his head, "Nay your majesty," he said, "but I remain steadfast in my decision." He looked up again to meet Christopher's eyes, "I but told you two days ago."
"Nay," Christopher said, heedless of the fact that Richard still listened, "Two days ago you but told me you wished not to disrupt the magic betwixt us by talking of it. 'Twas my understanding I had changed your mind."
Sparing one glance at Richard, Dafydd stepped closer that he might speak softly into Christopher's ear, "Then I had the right of it, and you did attempt to bribe me." He turned then and walked away.
Color stained Christopher's cheeks, anger tinged with chagrin that Dafydd had read him so well. "Christ's blood," he murmured.
"Your majesty," Richard said, "Long you have known that the very thought of Strasnedh sickens Dafydd."
"Aye old man, he has said, yet I thought I had convinced him otherwise," Christopher said tersely.
"Art used to all falling in with your desires," Richard said. "You but crook your finger, and your subjects scramble over themselves to appease your desires. Dafydd is a subject, true enough, yet he should be held to different standards. 'Tis not right to expect he will overcome this quickly."
Christopher stood in silence, staring across the hall toward where Dafydd stood talking with Marged. A muscle tensed in his jaw, his brow wrinkled in a frown. "Aye Richard, as always you have the right of it." He paused for a moment then said softly, "'Tis just—"
"What?" Richard asked.
Christopher hunched his shoulders for a moment, drawn in on himself with his thoughts. There were few who ever heard his inner thoughts, heard him speak as a man, and not a King. Dafydd was one, and Richard was the only other. Though he knew his vulnerability was safe with Richard, it still went against his grain to expose it.
"Dafydd says he does not fear, and I must needs believe it. Ever he has proven that he is fearless, except in this one instance." Christopher sighed deeply, "'Tis my belief he lies to me about this fear."
"Christopher," Richard said gently, "in your realm of experience I do not believe you can ever imagine what he experienced, we have spoken on this before. You would never find yourself in his position, thus 'tis difficult for you to know what 'twas like for him. Fearless, yes, but captive? A natural need for self preservation takes over."
"There is one thing," Christopher said, his voice barely above a whisper, "I can never change. Warin forced my hand. I put duty before my heart, and I fear that it will drive a wedge between Dafydd and me. Always he will know that when it came down to a choice, I saved Marged instead of him," he turned anguished eyes on to Richard. "The love I had for Marged at that time paled in comparison to what I felt for Dafydd, what I feel for him now, and yet I left him in the clutches of that monster, and rode away with her."
Richard stepped closer and grasped Christopher's forearm, squeezing it tightly. "You had no choice Christopher, and Dafydd understands that. 'Twas not just Marged you chose, 'twas Anwyll. Methinks if you had chosen Dafydd that day, he would think the less of you now for leaving Marged helpless in Warin's clutches. 'Tis true that the torture he endured is something that neither of you will soon forget, but he was better suited to endure it than she was. 'Tis likely either she, or Anwyll, would have succumbed and not survived."
Christopher stood, head bowed, as Richard's words washed over him.
"You but make things worse now by asking that he forget all and revisit a place he finds loathsome. Give him time, and understand that it may be that he never wishes to visit Strasnedh again. Allow it, understand it, and do not drive this imagined wedge deeper by badgering him."
"I hear you old man," Christopher said, and his expression changed from vulnerable to the accustomed mask of leadership, "My thanks."
As he turned away, Christopher locked his fear deep inside his heart. Although he understood the intent of Richard's words, he still carried the knowledge, and the worry.
This is just one example of how Dafydd is unwilling to leave the safety of the castle (I'm trying to get away from calling it "the keep"). Obviously he's reluctant to venture to Strasnedh, as that was the site of his torture at the hands of Warin. Later on he shows he's unwilling to even travel about the kingdom, let alone venture all the way to London. Each time Christopher is angered, each time Dafydd is saddened.
When I wrote that, I had no idea how true this would be for Dafydd. I think I questioned myself, would Dafydd really be that cowardly? Of course, I was building to Dafydd fleeing across the kingdom of Lysnowydh, Christopher in pursuit, to prove he wasn't a coward. But, I have a whole different take on it now.
Unfortunately, I've had to see first hand how much chronic illness (or in Dafydd's case, the long period of time where he recovered from Warin's torture) can make a person anxious. Especially anxious about leaving the safety of home. For a year and a half, I didn't travel anywhere. Sure, trips around town weren't that stressful, but get me even a few hours away from home base and I began to fret.
I'm fine now. All major issues have been dealt with for well over a year now. I should be free as a bird. Yet, we are planning a short trip in a few weeks. As part of our retirement gifts our coworkers gave us a gift certificate for our favorite romantic bed & breakfast. It's a fabulous place, and I know we'll have a good time. But, there is a part of me that just doesn't want to go away from the safety of my hometown. Much like Dafydd, needing the safety of home.
So, there you go....what I thought was simply fiction turned out to be truth.