As Enlighten has been out for a bit, so I can finally discuss the plot! This post will have spoilers, so if you haven’t read the story yet, you’ve been warned!
Obviously a huge portion of Enlightened is my own content–the legendary King Arthur was male and the only rightful King of England, not a place-holder, like Britt. However, the story of Sir Damas kidnapping Arthur to fight for him against his brother, Sir Ontzlake, is part of the King Arthur legends. Additionally, both Sir James Knowles–author of King Arthur and His Knights–and Howard Pyle–author of The Story of King Arthur and His Knights–include this legend in their books–and it is worth noting that these men are the authors of the “classic” King Arthur books as we know them.
In the original legend, King Arthur is riding with a knight named Sir Accalon and the two happen upon a empty castle with a feast. Because they’ve never heard of Stranger Danger, they sit down, eat the food, and fall asleep. When Arthur awakens he finds himself captive in Sir Damas’ dungeon with a bunch of knights who have refused to fight for the evil man. The stories differ based on the author, but both men agree that Morgan le Fay plays a treacherous role in the story and either sets Arthur up with the banquet, or swipes Excalibur’s scabbard–which, remember, has the power to keep all wounds from bleeding.
Sir Accalon ends up acting as Sir Ontzlake’s champion because Ontzlake was injured in a tournament, and Morgan le Fay gives him Excalibur and its scabbard before his fight against Arthur. (It’s worth mentioning that, due to the armor, neither man knows who they are fighting.) Sir Accalon gravely injures Arthur and, quite frankly, is a total jerk during the match. In one version of the story he gets the best of Arthur and almost kills him–as everyone watching shouts at him to have mercy–and in another version he actively plots against Arthur as he considers Morgan le Fay his lady. Sir Accalon gets his comeuppance, though, when Arthur retrieves Excalibur and pounds the snot out of him. Arthur then wins the match and reveals who he is. Sir Accalon is horrified, and begs for forgiveness, which Arthur grants him before the knight dies of his wounds. Arthur then gives all of Sir Damas’ possessions and lands to Sir Ontzlake and returns to Camelot.
To me, this is one of the first sad legends of King Arthur. Arthur is betrayed by his half sister–Morgan le Fay–nearly killed by one of his own knights, and was forced to mortally wound his knight to survive. Even Sir Ontzlake–who is supposedly a good knight–comes off sketchy and not nearly as good as Arthur’s other companions, like King Pellinore. It is important to note that in the original legends, this story takes place directly after Merlin has left Arthur forever, which might explain Arthur’s sudden run of bad luck.
Arthur’s actions–mortally wounding his knight–wouldn’t sit well with Britt, so I knew I needed to adjust the ending, but the idea of wounding Britt without any of her usual entourage around appealed to me as it would be the perfect way for her men to accidentally find out her gender without resorting to throwing her in a river–which I frequently did with Robyn of Robyn Hood. Once I figured that out, the rest of the adjustments came readily.
I didn’t particularly like Ontzlake as he was the brother constantly asking for the matches, so I wasn’t hot to trot to give him all of Sir Damas’ things. Instead I invented their little sister and gave her the inheritance. As my Morgan le Fay is alined with her earlier roles in the King Arthur legends–a good magic user–I tossed out her side of the story and instead used her as Britt’s first aid kit. It was just as well–Britt would never be stupid enough to sit down and eat at a full banquet table in an otherwise abandoned castle. I didn’t want to bring Sir Accalon into the story just to kill him off–and I would have enough drama with the rest of the Round Table Knights after their enlightenment–so I decided to exclude him from the story and used Lancelot to attack Britt.
It was a fun story to adapt! Some of the lines and details were unbelievable (all the knights in Damas’ dungeons might be the funniest part of Sir James Knowles’ story) and it was a delight to drive a streak of Lancelot’s darker side into the open. This post is getting lengthy, so I’m going to cut it off here. Thank you for reading, Champions!