Last Knight (3)

Introduction to Sir Cie
(Manhattan: The night before the last day on Earth)

His friends sent Sir Cie to buy drinks at the bar. Instead, he was wolfing down the remnants of a meal at an abandoned table and was staring out the plate glass windows down onto night-time Manhattan.

A group of waiters watched him from a safe distance, debating their next move.

Outside, the lights of Manhattan shone like a hundred thousand stars, interspersed by a couple of black holes. The din inside his mind started once again, and he clutched his head in pain. Cat Ballou drew up chairs. Richard Harris followed in a haze, his long and odd-looking overcoat getting tangled in the tables he passed. While Richard lit up a cigar, Cat placed a revolver on the table and, with the eyes of an angel, whispered urgently, "You have to stay focused." With the hint of a banjo, she continued, "Be strong. Don't let them out until we have a plan."

Sir Cie groaned as Sir Orfeo pulled out a chair, frowned, and sat down back to front. He was starting to feel crowded again.

Cat looked around and spotted the waiters and clicked her fingers, "My friends need whiskey." The waiters stayed frozen for a second too long. She lifted both eyebrows meaningfully and added, with a bite of menace, "Now."

She smiled, then looked at the mess of plates and glasses on the table and swept them off the table. Then Cat asked Sir Cie, "How many more of the lost knights are still in your head?"

Sir Cie shuddered and caught her eye. He started to count on his fingers. "There are two handfuls if I include Sir Drem (not his real name), Sir Clust, and Sir Gwiawn Cat's-Eye but about ten if I include the knights with tough names to pronounce and their dogs. And then there are the golden-chained daughters of the three islands of the mighty." He winced, suffering a lance of pain from one of the daughters.

She looked at the bottles of hard liquor hastily placed on the table, briefly wondered if she should blow the tops off but then smashed them open on the side of the table. She asked, conversationally, "Will a drink help?" Cat knew intuitively that hard liquor always helps those inclined to think a little too hard.

Sir Cie said, "A bald leech once spoke me a cure for a half headache. A good bleed and some herbs, she said."

Richard flapped out his overcoat, which looked a little like a bedspread, and a breeze from the old Andalusian Moorish kingdoms suddenly caught Cat's blouse. A hint of green rue and mustard came from the orange groves of a sumptuous palace.

Cat sniffed at Richard, passed Sir Cie the bottle, and asked, "How did that work out?"

Sir Cie shrugged, "I am still here. Despite cakes melting in the park and drums beating out of time."

Cat sighed, "We are both still here. Well, if they are going to come out, ask them to bring lunch."

Sir Cie mumbled, "I am not sure I would be comfortable eating a chicken and flat rye bread wrap whipped up by Sir Uchdryd. But that might just be me. These were wonderful times, and perhaps Uchdryd might just surprise us and not burn the cakes."

Sir Orfeo warned, "If they come out, chaos will consume the cakes and then the world. They are not what they seem."

Richard shook his head, "They are just what we need. All we need is a sensible first quest for the lost knights."

Sir Orfeo hacked a cough, "Nettles and vinegar will consume the world. Arthur intends to reshape the world."

Richard muttered to himself, "Stealing a young damsel for one of his mates is a bad precedent. Why not get a group of athletic types together and go win a cup?"

Cat shrugged, "One of my New Year's Resolutions a couple of years ago was to find some way of contributing to world peace. A futile gesture best ignored. It says more about my vanity and self-regard.

However, since then, I have, as I have had time, collected my thoughts on peace, and tried to make the thoughts both coherent and straightforward. Perhaps this is a little simplistic, but I conclude that peace lies not in the absence of war (although symptomatic and maybe a precursor). Instead can be found in the obligations we all have, individually and through our organizations, state, and private, to address core issues. With my gun."

Sir Cie yawned, "Plans are for the weak. I say seize the moment! It is time to finish our original quest and kidnap the girl!"

Cat growled, "No one listens to me. You misbegotten wretch, I just said that! As you can see, the slightest attempt at a concise explanation will put the best intention to sleep. Are they still clamoring to get out of your head?"

Sir Cie finished the bottle and threw it at the bar, half expecting it to return. Cat watched expectedly.

She asked, "Is that one of your special powers."


"A boomerang. You know one of those things you throw, and it comes back to you."

Sir Cie shook his head sadly, "No such thing as a Welsh boomerang."

"Pity, could be handy."

Sir Orfeo turned to Cat and burped. He apologized and offered, "Sir Cie's story comes with a twist. At a time when most of the knights looked very alike under their red hair and whiskers, Sir Cie's peculiar attributes only became public knowledge because he had to set them out in paternity proceedings."

Sir Orfeo's eyes search for more alcohol. He shook his head. "The gifts listed are a little puzzling. I mean, cold hands. What gives there? And invisible burdens?"

Cat caught another waiter's eye and clicked her fingers. "A simple quest - what shall it be? Or shall I press-gang the lost knights into telling their story instead?"


This is an extract of a novel being written here: Last Knight


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