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                                       Written by

                             Rospo Pallenberg & John Boorman

                             Adapted from "Le Morte D'Arthur"


                                      Thomas Malory

                                                              Final Draft


               FADE IN:

               EXT. FOREST - NIGHT

               Darkness. The sound of battle cries and the clang of metal 
               upon metal. The forest lights up with huge sparks flying 
               from sword and ax as armored knights hack and swing at each 
               other. Mounted knights collide head-on at full gallop, their 
               armor made incandescent in the clash. Sparks eddy in their 
               wakes and float to the ground. The forest catches fire.

               MAIN TITLES on the flames. Out of the sounds of ancient battle 
               grows music, heroic and barbaric, shot through with 

               Two crazed eyes reflect the fire. The eyes belong to a man 
               without age, at once ancient and boyish, female and male; 
               his eyes are pained from the burden of too much knowledge. 
               So close is he to the flames that a lock of his wild hair 
               sizzles alight. He slaps at the fire as if it were an annoying 
               insect. He wears a cloak of black trimmed with silver. It is 
               Merlin. The wizard weaves a path through the burning forest, 
               dodging the combatants, searching.

                         Lord Uther! Lord Uther!

               The forest around him weeps softly with the sounds that follow 
               slaughter. Patches of undergrowth are smoldering. Small flames 
               lick bark and branches.

               Smoke floats through the trees and hovers over the bodies of 
               the dying and the dead.

               A huge knight reins up beside Merlin on a lathered horse. 
               His armor is blood spattered. He is weary from battle. He 
               looks down at Merlin, his countenance fierce. The blade of 
               his sword glows with an unnatural aura.

                         It's done. A truce. We meet at the 

                         Talk. Lovers murmuring to each 

               EXT. RIVER, FOREST - DAY

               Waiting on one bank of a small river that flows through the 
               forest is a warlord, the Duke of Cornwall. He is flanked by 
               his armored warriors. Lot of Lowthean prominent among them. 
               They are battle-weary and bloodied, but they look ready to 
               fight. Behind them is an army of lesser knights.

               To the opposite bank come Uther and Merlin, a much smaller 
               force of knights, including Uryens, Lord of Gore, surrounding 

                                     DUKE OF CORNWALL
                         I spit on your truce, Uther. If you 
                         want peace, throw down your swords.

               Uther and the Duke of Cornwall glare at each other in silence 
               across the river. Uther strains forward, burning with anger; 
               but Merlin restrains him.

                         I should butcher all and every one 
                         of them. Merlin, what is this wagging 
                         of tongues?

                         Just show the sword.

               Uther unsheathes his mighty sword, and brandishes it in the 
               air high over his head. The blade hums disquietingly and 
               leaves a lingering electric hue upon the air. The marvel 
               instills dread in all present.

                              (waxing eloquent)
                         Behold the sword of power, Excalibur. 
                         Before Uther, it belonged to Lud, 
                         before Lud, to Beowulf, before Beowulf 
                         to Baldur the Good, before Baldur to 
                         Thor himself and that was when the 
                         world was young and there were more 
                         than seven colors in the rainbow.
                              (and in an aside to 
                         Speak the words.

                         One land, one king! That is my peace!

               The Duke of Cornwall looks around nervously as some of his 
               knights fall to their knees in awe.

                                     DUKE OF CORNWALL
                         Lord Uther, if I yield to the sword 
                         of power, what will you yield?

                         Me, yield!?

               Merlin urges Uther hard.

                              (a whisper)
                         He has given. Now you must.

               The two knights glare at each other, rage contending with 

                         The land from here to the sea is 
                         yours if you will enforce the King's 

               The enemies lock eyes and Merlin watches anxiously.

                                     DUKE OF CORNWALL

               All men from both sides break out in wild cheers.

                                     DUKE OF CORNWALL
                         My Lord King Uther, let us feast 
                         together. To my castle. Lord Merlin, 
                         you must join -

               But Merlin is nowhere in sight.


               Drums and wailing flutes fill the banquet hall with a lusty 
               rhythm. Armored warriors watch a lone woman dancing. She is 
               very beautiful, both sensuous and innocent.

               Uther sits at the long table beside the Duke of Cornwall 
               with the barons and dukes of the land, and the lesser knights. 
               The table is stained with wine and littered with bones and 
               half-eaten fruit.

               Uther's eyes burn with lust as he watches the dancer.

                                     DUKE OF CORNWALL
                         I would wish you such a wife, Lord 
                         Uther, as my Igrayne. So innocent, 
                         but in bed, a furnace...

               The Duke rises and goes to his wife, be-striding the center 
               of the hall and Igrayne weaves circles of dance around him. 
               He gloats with pride.

               The words escape his lips:

                         I must have her.

               Lot spins to face him.

                         What? You're mad! What about the 

                         I must have her.

                         And risk all you've won? This castle 
                         commands the sea gate to the kingdom.

               Uther is not one for politics, and Lot's words sail past 
               him. The King lusts for Igrayne.

               A bell is struck not far away. The music ceases and the hall 
               falls silent. The great door creaks open, revealing the dawn 
               light, and a monk steps into the hall and waits by it. Muffled 
               by corridors of stone, a choir of monks can now be heard 
               singing the high, ecstatic harmonies of the Te Deum. Those 
               who have fallen asleep at the table are roused, those drunk, 
               helped up.


               The monk leads the party down the hallway of the castle. 
               Thin shafts of dawnlight filter through archers' slits in 
               the thick walls onto stone floors. Otherwise, it is dark. 
               Each person, lady and knight, proceeds alone, head bent, 
               some crossing themselves.

               Uther is among them. He stops in a dark alcove, breathing 
               heavily, waiting.

               As the lovely Igrayne drifts past him, he pulls her out of 
               sight of the others.

               In a shaft of pale light Uther clasps Igrayne to his 
               breastplate, his iron arm wrapped around her frail body. So 
               violent is his embrace that she cannot breathe, her mouth is 
               wide with fear, and her feet do not touch the ground; an 
               impaled butterfly.

                         You will be mine. Wife and queen, 
                         bed and crown.

               His face is close to hers, looking as though he would devour 
               her tender whiteness with his kiss. She doesn't answer; she 
               can't. Even Uther understands this and lets her go.

                              (a fierce whisper)
                         I want no other crown and no other 
                         bed than those I have.

               Her gown and her fragile skin torn on the spikes of his armor, 
               Igrayne backs away and joins the procession.

               Uther trembles with unreleased passion.


               Igrayne enters the candlelit chapel from which issues the 
               chant, calling the castle to worship. She rushes to her 
               husband's side, kneeling next to him and whispering. The 
               Duke of Cornwall looks back at Uther, hatred in his eyes.


               Uther is in a towering rage. Sword drawn, he stalks among 
               the biers of fallen knights. Squires and clerics keep a 
               healthy distance. The sky is lowering, pregnant with rolling 
               thunder. Beyond his encampment, high on a cliff rising out 
               of the sea stands the impregnable Tintagel Castle, seat of 
               the Duke of Cornwall, now under siege.

                              (bellowing in all 
                         Merlin! Where are you!?

               Just then a knight rides up and dismounts. It is Ulfius, a 

                         Have you found him?


               But he cannot finish. He is taken aback by the sudden 
               appearance of a hideous hag who approaches, rattling a 
               beggar's pan.

                         What a hurry you were in this morning, 
                         good sir. You forgot to give this 
                         old woman a coin.

                         I saw you half a day's gallop from 
                         here. I asked you if you had seen 
                         Merlin. I returned here straight 
                         away. How did -

                         --I heard. I have come. I am also 

               The figure straightens, the filthy rags become a flowing 
               cape, and the hair is swept back by the wind, andóit is 
               Merlin, laughing.

                         I have walked my way since the 
                         beginning of time. Sometimes I give, 
                         sometimes I take. It is mine to know 
                         which, and when.

                         Dumb riddles, Merlin. I am your King.

               Ulfius edges away.

                         I know the storm inside you, and 
                         what it has wrought. The alliance I 
                         forged is wrecked.

               The Duke of Cornwall under siege. All this for lust. Selfish 

               Uther grabs Merlin.

                         For Igrayne. One night with her. Do 
                         it. Use the magic.

               Merlin frowns pensively, his gaze searching strange distances 
               and wandering; then focusing, blazing straight at Uther.

                         You will swear by your true kingship 
                         to grant me what I wish. Then you 
                         shall have it.

               Uther kneels and draws his sword and holds it up by the blade, 
               a cross.

                         I swear it. By Excalibur and the 

                         --What issues from your lust will be 
                         mine. Swear it again.

                         I swear it.

               Merlin looks down sorrowfully at the kneeling King.


               The Duke of Cornwall watches a force of armored knights riding 
               forth from Uther's war camp, with banners flying. It passes 
               beneath the castle and on toward a distant cliff.

                                     DUKE OF CORNWALL
                              (to a lieutenant)
                         It's Uther and all his best knights. 
                         He leaves behind little more than 
                         fledglings to guard his camp.

               His eyes are as cold and as pale as ice.


               Uther and his knights, and Merlin on a mule, ride to the 
               high promontory and dismount. Here, overlooking the sea, is 
               a circle of ancient stones, carved with strange runes and 
               hieroglyphics, and as the wind moves through them it moans 
               and sighs.

               The knights watch as Merlin and Uther, leading his horse, 
               walk toward the stones. Merlin strides into the circle, 
               turning to look at Uther, who hesitates.


               Uther starts to make the sign of the cross, but Merlin halts 
               him with a gesture. Uther's hand drops, and he enters the 
               circle with his horse.

               Merlin and Uther look out across the sea, to Tintagel Castle 
               high upon the cliff.

               Merlin solemnly raises his arms toward that distant castle, 
               and chants in an ancient language, the sounds of which he 
               marries to the roaring and whining of the wind. The wind 
               becomes stronger, and Merlin's incantations become more 
               intense, and the wind in turn becomes wilder still. Until 
               Merlin is charged with a fierce, nonhuman power, as the wind 
               buffets his slight frame.

               And then, for all to understand:

                         I hold the balance of all things in 
                         my summoning. Arise mists. Come fog.


               From the horizon a front of fog advances toward the castle 
               to envelop it, and continues across the gulf to the circle 
               of stones.


               The portal opens and a small force of armored men, led by 
               the Duke of Cornwall, exits. A fog is thickening all around 


               The advancing front envelops Merlin and Uther, eddying around 
               the stones.  All else is obliterated.

                         Mount your horse.

               The King does.

                         Ride straight to the castle, across 
                         the sea of fog.

               Uther spurs straight for the edge of the cliff, then reins 
               in his horse abruptly.

                         But the cliff, the sea...

               Merlin rages, crazed.

                         Ride across! Across the bridges of 
                         desire. Your lust will hold you up. 
                         For I have just woven it into the 
                         fabric of the world. This is magic - 
                         making solid what is in the mind, 
                         and unsolid, that which is already 

               He gives the horse a stinging blow with his staff.

               The horse and Uther charge forward into a gallop and stepping 
               off where the hidden edge of the cliff would be, hoofbeats 
               ceasing and the horse dropping for the blink of an eye, they 
               gallop across the fog.

               EXT. MERLIN'S FOG

               Galloping on no visible terrain, Uther and his horse advance 
               through the restless fog, and as they recede rider and animal 
               become a wavering, changeable form within the cloud.


               Horse and rider pull up at the gate.

                         Wake up in there. It is I.

               If it was not for the electric blue hue burning in the eyes 
               of the man entering the castle, the same magic hue that 
               Excalibur left upon the air when wielded, the resemblance to 
               the Duke if Cornwall would be perfect.

               After a moment the portal opens.


               He passes into an inner court, the portal closing behind. 
               Armed men emerge cautiously. Thinking that it is their Duke 
               they help him dismount.

                                     'DUKE' OF CORNWALL
                         Have the horse ready. I ride out 
                         before sunrise.

               An inner gate opens and the 'Duke' goes through it.

               EXT. UTHER'S WAR CAMP - NIGHT

               The real Duke and his men ride through the fogbound camp, 
               cutting the ropes of the tents, stabbing the men trapped 
               beneath the canvas. When a frightened crow flies squawking 
               into the face of the Duke's horse, which rears. He is unhorsed 
               and falls, and impales himself on a tent stake.

               Dying, the true Lord of Tintagel Castle rises and staggers 
               forward, blood pumping from him.


               A little girl of four awakens from a nightmare, a small lone 
               figure in her canopied bed. Her eyes are ice, like her 

                         Papa... Papa...

               Igrayne is soon at her side, lifting the child from the bed, 
               holding her tight.

                         My father is dead...


               The 'Duke' enters. The room is empty, but the door to 
               Morgana's room is open.


               The 'Duke' stands in the doorway. Igrayne herself is 

                         Look, here is your father. It was 
                         just a dream, little one.

                                     'DUKE' OF CORNWALL
                         Come Igrayne.

               Igrayne kisses Morgana, tucks her in and returns to her own 
               room, closing the door. The child doesn't know whether to 
               believe the truth of the dream or the waking truth.


               In full armor, the 'Duke' bears down on the naked Igrayne on 
               her marriage bed. She stares at him, wondering. But his eyes 
               are closed, and finally he carries her in his wild passion, 
               her white limbs tangling around the lustre of his armor.


               And Merlin is jolted awake from deep within himself, coming 
               out of a trance.

                         It is done. The future has found 
                         root in the present.

               He lifts himself up on his staff. He stands in the midst of 
               the ancient stones, bristling with excitement. Uther's mighty 
               knights are asleep, a deep unnatural sleep, huddled together 
               and surrounded by their horses. And then Merlin swoons, 
               collapsing to the ground.


               His lieutenants deposit the Duke of Cornwall's bloodless 
               body upon the long table. His eyes are wide open, icy and 
               cunning even in death. The ladies of the castle support and 
               comfort the grief-stricken Igrayne as she approaches the 
               body of her husband. Morgana hangs onto her mother's gown.

                         When did it happen? Where?

                         In the camp of Uther, my lady, just 
                         after nightfall.

                         It can't be. He came to me, to his 
                         bed, last night.

                         It was his spirit, yearning for you 
                         in his hour of death, that visited 

                         His spirit?

               Pale with grief, Igrayne stares at her dead husband in 

               Then her hand drifts to her stomach. When she talks again, 
               undone and resolved, it is to all and herself:

                         Tintagel Castle falls to Uther. But 
                         what shall become of me, and the 
                         child I bear?

               Morgana shows no distress. She runs her baby hands across 
               her father's face and closes his eyes. The intensity that 
               was frozen in them is now added to her own pale and cunning 

               EXT. CLIFF ABOVE THE SEA - DAY

               Merlin has been propped up against one of the stones. He is 
               in a deep trance and Uther is attempting to shake him awake.

                         I want her, Merlin. I cannot be 
                         without her. Tintagel is mine. Can I 
                         take her now? Tell me!

               Merlin's eyes open but he sees nothing, and only a puzzling 
               squeal issues from him.


               Morgana watches from a corner. The ladies of the castle 
               surround Igrayne who is giving birth.

               Noisy crows alight on the windowsill. Only Morgana notices.


               Uther strides to Igrayne's bedchamber, his warrior knights 
               following. He is dirty and his iron dress is blood-spattered.

                         Three horses died under me, so hard 
                         did I spur them here. Is it born? Is 
                         it alive?


               At his approach and entrance the ladies shrink back, and 
               Morgana edges closer to her mother, and seats herself on the 
               bed beside her. Ingrain holds her newborn baby in her arms, 
               the blood of birth still wet upon it.


               The ladies slip past him to the door, and he goes up to 

                         What is it, lady?

               Terrified of him, Igrayne faces him the best she can.

                         A boy, sir. Rest yourself.

               Uther waves away her words but does sit down on the bed, 
               exhausted. He notices Morgana, who stares at him.

                         Send the girl away.

                         She is just a child -


               Igrayne draws the child to her and kisses her cheek.

                         Go now. Come back later.

               The child leaves silently, hatred in her eyes.

                         She watches me with her father's 

               He grasps the newborn baby with his iron hand, and pulls it 
               to himself. He looks upon it with wonder, with a gentleness 
               that is unexpected.

                         Igrayne, is he mine, or -

               He can't bring himself to say his name. She hesitates on the 
               edge of tears, worried for the infant lying in its iron 

                         The night he died, a man loved me 
                         with great fierceness. He looked 
                         like my husband, spoke like, smelled 
                         like, felt like my own husband. But 
                         it was not he, for he was already 
                         dead. It wasn't his spirit, for this 
                         child, who was conceived that night, 
                         is flesh and blood. I know nothing 

               Uther draws a dagger. He lifts it.


               But he uses it before Igrayne can move. He severs the leather 
               thongs that bind the iron breastplate to his chest. He casts 
               it to the floor. His chest is smooth and milk-white in 
               striking contrast to his creased, weathered face. And beaming, 
               he holds the baby to it.

                         Through him, I will learn to love 
                         them, for I am tired of battle. I 
                         will stay by his side and
                              (looking shyly at 
                         his mother's...

               Igrayne's hatred for the man is at the very edge of becoming 
               love. The baby starts to cry.

                         Here. It's hungry.

               And his free hand opens her shift, and he holds a swollen 
               breast in his gloved hand, squeezing gently. Milk bubbles 
               from it and he thrusts the baby's mouth onto it.

               Igrayne weeps and Uther watches proudly as the baby suckles.

               Merlin advances from the window, his cape the same iridescent 
               green-black as the feathers of the crows that were perched 
               by the window.

                         Merlin! Out of the sick sleep at 

                         Doing what I did for you, it wasn't 
                         easy, you know. It takes it's toll. 
                         It took nine moons to get back my 

               Uther avoids looking at him.

                         Now you must pay me.


                         The child is mine, Uther. I have 
                         come for him.

               Uther is shaken to his roots. Igrayne watches, trying to 

                         The oath. You didn't say--

                         You didn't ask!

                         Uther, is it true? Don't let him 
                         take the child.

                         I swore an oath, Igrayne. I made a 
                         pact with Merlin.

               Igrayne suddenly understands. She glares at Uther.

                         It was you? You came to me that night. 
                         You are the father.

               Uther is caught, and turns to Merlin who is harsh and 

                         It's not for you, Uther, hearth and 
                         home, wife and child.

                         To kill and be king, is that all?

                         Maybe not even that, Uther. I thought 
                         once that you were the one to unite 
                         the land under one sword. But it'll 
                         take another, a greater king...

                         You strike me with words as hard as 

                         They are not weapons, my friend, but 
                         truths. You betrayed the Duke, stole 
                         his wife and took his castle, now no 
                         one trusts you. Lot, Uryens, your 
                         allies will turn against you. Give 
                         me the child, Uther, I will protect 
                         him. Go back to your war tent.

               Uther wrenches the baby from it's mother's breast and hands 
               him to Merlin.

                              (in torment)
                         By the oath, take the devil child. 
                         Take him!

               With the bawling baby under his cape, Merlin exits. Igrayne 
               pulls herself out of the bed, weak, her legs giving under 
               her. She starts after Merlin.

                         WHY?... Why must he have the baby?

               Uther stops her with his bulk and she claws savagely at his 
               chest to get past him. He weeps as he folds his arms around 


               As Merlin walks through the castle, the baby crying in his 
               arms, the knights and ladies step back, afraid to intervene 
               in royal matters.


               Merlin comes across the empty banquet hall, cooing to the 
               baby, strangely pacifying him. Morgana steps out of the 
               shadows in his path, and Merlin stops at the sight of the 
               little girl, her pale eyes glaring at him.

               She speaks haltingly and clearly while far-off Igrayne cries 
               out her distress.

                         Merlin, are you now the father, and 
                         the mother, of the baby?

               Staring at her, Merlin shudders and without answering he 
               continues away, faster now, and into an unlit passageway, 
               disappearing from sight a bit sooner than an ordinary mortal 
               would have.

               EXT. FOREST - DAY

               The forest is dark and shiny with rain. An unseen battle 

               The first combatant in sight is Uther, who swings the mighty 
               Excalibur, cutting an attacker in half at the waist. Uther 
               and a small force of knights, Ulfius among them, are 
               retreating through the slippery wet forest, completely 

               Lord Lot of Lowthean and Lord Uryens of Gore are the leaders 
               of the attack.

                              (to his men)
                         The King's sword. I must have it.

               Ulfius and his men stand their ground so the King may escape 
               the onslaught. They are hacked down.

               Uther flees alone, severing the limbs of any man and tree 
               that stands in his way.

               EXT. STONE IN THE FOREST - DAY

               Uther has gained on his pursuers. He comes to a small clearing 
               where the spine of a buried boulder rises through the forest 
               floor. He stops upon it, breathing hard, dripping blood. He 
               rages aloud, but his throat is raw and cracked and only a 
               whisper comes out.

                         Merlin, where are you? To weave a 
                         mist, to hide us...

               He hears his pursuers closing in.

                         No one shall have the sword. No one 
                         shall wield Excalibur but me.

               He holds it by the hilt with both hands, the blade pointing 
               to the ground of stone. He flexes his knees. He lifts up his 
               hands above his head. And with all the strength that rage 
               and pain can muster, and more, he drives the blade of 
               Excalibur into the stone, nearly to the hilt. His mouth widens 
               in an awful silent scream, and then the foam of saliva pink 
               with blood issues from deep within him, so violent was his 

               As the sword cuts into the rock, the earth shudders.

               EXT. FOREST - DAY

               The forest quakes. The knights searching for Uther halt in 

               EXT. FIELDS, WOODS - DAY

               And far away, a caped figure is crossing a field toward a 
               wood, when the earth shakes, stirring animals and birds. The 
               man turns. He is Merlin, the two day-old baby peeking from 
               his cape. Merlin is amazed at the phenomenon, he puts his 
               ear to a rock protruding from the earth.

                         Into the spine of the dragon!
                              (and then he is 
                         Uther... I loved you, mighty child.

               And tears welling, and giggling at the same time, he whisks 
               away into the woods.

               EXT. STONE IN THE FOREST - DAY

               Uther staggers away, colliding with trees, staggering, 
               crashing to the ground. Until the only life left in him is 
               the coursing of his blood, flowing from his gaping mouth 
               onto the leaves on the forest floor.

               The enemy knights advance through the trees. They prod at 
               the fallen leviathan, they roll him over to get at his 
               scabbard. Only then do they see the sword in the stone, and 
               they stop, amazed and afraid. Their captains appear. Uryens 
               sees what they are staring at, and races to the sword and 
               attempts to pull it out.

               He strains with all his might, but it is immovable.

                         Let me.

               He shoves Uryens aside, but he can't loosen the sword either, 
               and he rages with frustration.

                                                                  FADE OUT:

               LEGEND APPEARS:

               "Fifteen years passed and the land was without a king."

               FADE IN:

               EXT. FIELDS - DAY

               Peasants spill over the crest of a hill. They are fleeing a 
               force of armored knights, their plumed helmets forged in the 
               semblance of predatory animals. The knights thunder past the 
               peasants, trampling the ripening crops. Sir Uryens is their 
               leader, his hard face indifferent to the havoc he leaves in 
               his wake.

               The peasants watch in mute anger.

               EXT. FARMYARD - EVENING

               Sir Lot leading another group of mounted knights comes 
               galloping into a small hamlet, panicked chickens and pigs 
               scattering at their approach. The farmers run for their lives 
               as the steel men dismount, leading their horses to water and 
               hay, and searching for vittles. A knight spots a woman who 
               stands frozen with fear, and he drags her into the barn as 
               her crying child watches.


               A farmhouse is burning nearby, and three mounted figures 
               make their way along a trail at a walking pace - an old knight 
               in leather and mail, a young knight proud in gleaming new 
               armor; and on a farm horse, a squire with baggage and jousting 
               lance. The old knight, Sir Ector, is troubled by what he 

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         It is a dark hour... everywhere 
                         lawlessness and destruction, and no 
                         one to lead us out of it.

               Just then, ten crazed peasants emerge from the darkness, 
               hurling stones and armed with clubs and pronged sticks. They 
               surround the three riders. Sir Ector wheels around and slices 
               the air with his sword to ward off the ambushers.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         Listen all. I am Sir Ector of Morven 
                         and these are my sons. You would 
                         wrong me, for I have never stolen 
                         from others, or destroyed the fruit 
                         of the land.

               The peasants edge closer, working up the nerve to rush the 
               horsemen. The sound of thundering hooves cuts through the 

               A cavalcade of riders, armor gleaming in the moonlight, 
               advances across the fields at a gallop. Immediately the 
               peasants scatter. The old knight is on the verge of tears.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         The people's anger is just. It is 
                         sad that for our own safety, we will 
                         have to ride to the tournament with 
                         these robber knights.


               Red with the first light of day, Excalibur rests in the stone 
               as King Uther left it. The field is itched with tents, each 
               flying its heraldic banner. Knights and squires are 
               everywhere, preparing horses and armor for the joust. A burly 
               man in religious robes harangues the crowd, vying for 

                         This is Easter day, when Christ rose 
                         again. Who will find strength in 
                         victory of arms? Who will draw the 

               The Bishop goes among the tents, through the teeming throng, 
               solemnly casting holy water upon man and horse, armor and 
               banner. The knights kneel at the Bishop's transit, but 
               ceremony does not lift the air of grimness that lies over 
               the event.


               Their armor ablaze with sunlight, two mounted knights thunder 
               toward each other at full gallop, lowering their long jousting 
               lances. As they meet, the lance of each knight is deflected 
               by the shield of the other. A gasp goes through the crowd, 
               and the two knights charge past each other. They wheel around 
               at the end of the jousting ground and go at each other again 
               from the other direction. Again lances strike, and this time 
               one of the men is hit in the chest and violently unhorsed. 
               The crowd cheers.

               EXT. THE SWORD IN THE STONE - DAY

               The victor, Leondegrance, rides up to the stone and dismounts. 
               Each great knight with his coterie of lesser knights comes 
               to watch. A charge of expectation is in the air, although 
               most knights are glowering with envy.

               Leondegrance of Camelyarde ascends to the sword, grabs it by 
               the hilt, and begins to tug with all his might. Excalibur is 
               immovable. The moment of tension passes. Leondegrance staggers 
               toward his waiting squires, who lead him away. All the others 
               return to the battle sport.

               EXT. JOUSTING GROUND - DAY

               At the edge of the jousting ground Sir Ector's son Sir Kay 
               is getting ready for a bout. His brother Arthur is buckling 
               the new armor while his father fusses about him, making small 
               adjustments when he notices that Kay's scabbard is empty. He 
               turns to Arthur and grab's him by the ear.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         Arthur, where is Kay's sword? A good 
                         squire doesn't forget his knight's 

               The fifteen year-old boy blushes.

                         I left it in the tent, sir.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         Well hurry then, and get it.

               The boy dashes off as Sir Ector shakes his head, not without 
               affection beneath the sternness.

               EXT. TENTS - DAY

               Arthur runs in search of their tent. He finds it.

               INT. TENT - DAY

               He enters. The saddle trunk has been emptied on the floor, 
               equipment is scattered all over. Arthur is shocked, 
               nonetheless he rummages madly. Finally he stops, on the verge 
               of tears.

                         It's been stolen....

               EXT. TENTS - DAY

               He comes out, utterly defeated, and frantic. He stops by two 
               knights who are arguing angrily; and one of them has left 
               his sword in the grass.

               Arthur looks at it. He is tempted to steal it, but he can't. 
               Head down, he wanders off.

               EXT. JOUSTING GROUND - DAY

               Sir Ector and Sir Kay are waiting.

                                     SIR KAY
                         Father, I'll go and see what's keeping 

               EXT. THE SWORD IN THE STONE - DAY

               Arthur stops at the edge of the dark forest, totally dejected, 
               when he sees the sword in the stone. He walks up to it, his 
               face lighting up, brimming with innocence. He is alone, as 
               everyone has returned to the jousting ground.

                         If only Kay could have it...

               He smiles, forgetting his troubles, a boy again living in a 
               fairy tale. He grasps the sword by the hilt and it comes 
               away easily from its stone lock.

               Not expecting it to, he nearly falls. He stares at it, 
               terribly excited and surprised: he tucks it under his arm 
               and rushes back.

               EXT. TENTS - DAY

               He bumps into Kay.

                         Your sword was stolen, Kay, but here 
                         is Excalibur. Is it too late? I 

               Kay takes it. He cannot believe what he's holding in his 
               hands. He starts to talk but he is so agitated he can only 

               EXT. JOUSTING GROUND - DAY

               Kay, with Arthur in tow, rushes to Sir Ector and shows him 
               the sword; he trembles with excitement.

                                     SIR KAY
                         Look, Father. Excalibur. Does that 
                         mean that I am to be king?

               Sir Ector is dumbstruck.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         Did you free the sword, boy?

                                     SIR KAY
                         I... did, Father.

               Ector looks at his son amazed, wanting to believe but not 
               able to.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         We must go to the stone at once.

               With Excalibur in hand Ector of Morven heads for the stone, 
               Kay following, and Arthur too, the boy flushed with excitement 
               but a little worried, not understanding what is happening.

               The exchange between Sir Ector and Sir Kay has been overheard. 
               Some have seen the sword in Sir Ector's hand. Rumor spreads 
               like wildfire.

               EXT. THE SWORD IN THE STONE - DAY

               As Sir Ector ascends the stone, from all parts of the jousting 
               ground knights and squires, the Bishop and the clerics, and 
               peasants too, press around.

               Ector lowers the blade into the tight cleft and Excalibur 
               sinks to its original position.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         Draw it, son!

               Sir Kay grabs the hilt and pulls without conviction, and the 
               sword doesn't give. Eyes downcast, he lets go.

                                     SIR KAY
                         Sir, I didn't draw the sword. Arthur 
                         gave it to me.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         Arthur ?!
                              (spinning around to 
                              face him)
                         How did you get the sword, child?

                         Sir... Kay needed a sword. His was 
                         stolen. I saw Excalibur, and... I 
                         took it.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         You freed it, son?

                         I did, Father. I beg your forgiveness.

               He starts to kneel but Ector pulls him up.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         Try the sword, Arthur.

               Arthur is about to grasp the hilt when Uryens and Lot, and 
               other nobles, Leondegrance of Camelyarde, and Sir Caradoc 
               and Sir Turquine among the younger, stride up.

                         Stand back, Sir Ector, and take your 

                         We will try again.

               Uryens, Lot, Leondegrance, Caradoc, Turquine - each in turn 
               grapples with the sword, only to be defeated by its 
               immobility. The crowd around the stone is thickening with 
               common folk.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         Let the boy try the sword.

                         Let the boy try...

               The demand is echoed by peasants and serfs. The great knights 
               remain silent and bitter in their defeat. Sir Ector pushes 
               Arthur to the sword.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         Go ahead, boy. Don't be afraid.

               The boy hesitates shyly, and then takes the hilt of Excalibur 
               and pulls out the sword with a great sweep.

               The throng is stunned. Silence falls. Some kneel, following 
               the example of Sir Ector and Sir Kay, of the Bishop and 
               Leondegrance. The other nobles stay back, confused, afraid, 

               Arthur stands there, little more than a boy, his cheeks 
               flushed, his soft hair ruffled by the wind, his eyes shining 
               with exultation, awe, and fear. Then, as if gaining confidence 
               from the sword itself, he turns it in arcs above his head.

                         We have our King, thanks be to God.

               The commoners and some of the knights react with roaring 
               enthusiasm. The others draw closer to Uryens and Lot and 
               their supporters, closing ranks around them.

                         Please, Father, rise up. I was your 
                         son before I became your King... if 
                         I am King.

               Sir Ector rises, tears streaming down his cheeks.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         My Lord, you are King, all the more 
                         because you are not my son, and I am 
                         not your father.

               This is quite a shock to the boy king, and to the onlookers.

                         Who is, then?

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         I don't know. Merlin brought you to 
                         me when you were newly born and 
                         charged me to raise you as my own. 
                         At first, I did so because I feared 
                         Merlin, later because I loved you.

               Merlin's name is on the lips of all those close by.

                         Who is Merlin?

                         Speak of the devil!...

               From out of the forest strides Merlin, dramatic, cape flowing, 
               eyes crazed as ever, laughing at his own entrance. A crow is 
               perched on his shoulder, and it squawks loudly. Annoyed with 
               it, Merlin swooshes it away.

                         I am Merlin. Counselor to kings. 
                         Wizard and beggar. Prophet and...
                              (he drops it)
                         I have feasted on thunderbolts, I 
                         savored my death before I got myself 
                         born. I--

               Merlin interrupts himself when his eyes fall on the boy, who 
               is taking in his performance raptly, half awestruck, half 

                         Whose son am I?

                         You are the son of King Uther, and 
                         the fair Igrayne... you are King 

               The suspicion and confusion and envy of the lords erupts.

                         Merlin, we haven't forgotten you. 
                         This is more of your trickery.

                         You're trying to foist a boy of 
                         dubious birth upon us. You want to 
                         shame us?

                         Lord Leondegrance, join us against 
                         the boy. Surely you can see he is 
                         only Merlin's tool.

                         No. I, Leondegrance, Lord of 
                         Camelyarde, saw the drawing of Uther's 
                         sword, and witnessed no trickery. If 
                         a boy has been chosen, a boy shall 
                         be king.

               The crowd of serfs and peasants cheer wildly, and their long 
               suppressed anger against the nobles comes to the fore. They 
               dare to press up against them, fists hammering on their 
               shields as the chant Arthur King over and over. Dark and 
               scowling, full of rebellion, all the lords except Leondegrance 
               begin to withdraw their iron men surrounding them.


               Bells toll the good news. People stream by to see the new 
               king and join the celebration.


               Uryens and Lot, and Caradoc, Turquine, and the other lords 
               have mounted, and are moving out, when from the rear guard a 
               bowman in Lot's service draws upon the unarmored figure of 
               Arthur across the cheering crowd. The bowman lets the arrow 

               It flies over the heads of the crowd, unseen.

               Except by Merlin at Arthur's side. He extends his arms halfway 
               up, his fists clenched tightly as if drawing urgently on the 
               power within himself. The sound of wings is heard as he flaps 
               his arms.

               The arrow flies toward Arthur.

               Arthur sees the arrow coming right at him, when a swooping 
               crow plucks it out of the air.

               Arthur watches the crow flapping its wings, climbing swiftly, 
               the arrow in its beak, disappearing over the forest. Only he 
               has noticed.

               When he turns Merlin is no longer at his side; to the 
               puzzlement of all. And Arthur is all of a sudden terribly 
               alone and afraid, as people from all sides clamor for his 
               attention and guidance.

               EXT. FOREST - DAY

               Arthur charges through the shadowy forest. He is in armor, 
               but it is only a light tunic of mail. Excalibur is sheathed 
               in a leather scabbard by his side. He is frantic and he calls 

                         ...Merlin... Merlin...

               His face shines with sweat, the horse is lathered. He 
               dismounts and continues on foot into denser, more tangled 


               A huge eye opens in the foreground of what had appeared to 
               be shadow, bark and tufts of weeds is really Merlin's head.

                         You called, sir?

               His voice is thin as he is awakening from a deep, exhausted 
               sleep. Arthur finds him lying within the large gnarled roots 
               of a great tree. The boy kneels before Merlin and lifts his 
               hands and kisses them.

                         You saved me from the arrow...

                              (a flicker of mischief)
                         But not from your destiny.

                         I want to thank you.

                         That's not why you came.

               Arthur blurts it out:

                         Merlin, help me. I need your help. I 
                         don't know how--

                         'Help me, Help me.' Help me get up.

               Arthur helps Merlin up and the wizard stands unsteadily.

                         I'm tired. Doing magic takes its 
                         toll, you know. My arms ache 
                              (he makes flying 
                              movements with his 
                              arms and grimaces)
                         Once--or is it yet to happen--I stood 
                         exposed to the Dragon's breath so 
                         that a man could lie one night with 
                         a woman. It took me ten moons to 
                         recover. I'm sure that story would 
                         interest you, since... Well, we'll 
                         have to talk about it another time. 
                         You're too busy now.

               The forest groans and creaks, alive with murmurs and shrill 

                         It is whispered in the forest that...
                              (he cups his ear with 
                         ...Leondegrance's castle is under 
                         siege by Lot and Uryens.

                         Yes, yes, I know that. Everybody 
                         does. Lord Leondegrance is my only 
                         ally among the barons and the great 
                         knights. I can't lose him.

                         Well there. You don't need me half 
                         as much as you think you do. You 
                         already know what must not happen.

                         I must find the means to save him, 
                         then. I was hoping I could ask you 
                         for a little magic help, but if it 
                         makes you so tired...

                         Thank you.

               Silence. Arthur tries again.

                         It's just that I have no experience, 
                         and no men to speak of. How can I--

                              (suddenly fierce)
                         Because you must! You and only you. 
                         Have you forgotten that it was you 
                         who freed Excalibur?

               Just as suddenly, he is his amused, ironic self again.

                         Besides, it will be a good lesson.
                         The best, if it's not the last.

               Arthur bows his head, confused and almost defeated. Merlin 
               steals a look at him, and puts his arm around the boy.

                         Maybe you'd like to meet the power 
                         that gave you the sword?

               He enjoys being cryptic.

                         How? Where?

                         In the great book.

                         What book is that?

                         The book without pages. Open before 
                         you, all around us. You can see it 
                         in bits and pieces, for if mortal 
                         men were to see it whole and all 
                         complete in a single glance, why, it 
                         would burn him to cinders.



                         The dragon! There...

               A deep cleft at the edge of the forest, where far below lava 
               boils with a phosphorescence that lights up a great cloud, 
               billowing upward.

                         Coiled in the unfathomed depths, it 

               Merlin points to the sky where roiling clouds appear to be 
               unfurling of immeasurable wings.

                         ...It unfolds itself in the storm 

               A terrific wave batters a coastline, spray shooting up, and 
               as the wave recedes it exposes dark rocks and deep crevices.

                washes its mane sparkling white 
                         in the blackness of seething 

               Merlin spins Arthur around, and they are transported into a 
               storm swept forest. Lightning strikes.

                         ...its claws are the forks of 
                         lightning... its scales glisten in 
                         the bark of trees...

               The trees shine with wetness, as a great wind tosses their 
               crowns, the branches groaning against each other.

                         ...its voice is heard in the 

               Arthur is awestruck.

               EXT. FOREST - DAY

               Arthur and Merlin are back in the same spot, having in fact 
               never moved at all, but traveled on the spell of Merlin's 
               words alone.

                is so much more than a scaly 
                         monster. It is Everything!

               Arthur's eyes shine with the brilliance of the vision.

                         And if I am to be King of everything, 
                         lord and commoner, beast, leaf and 
                         rock, I must use its voice, its claws, 
                         its power.


               Leondegrance, Lord of Camelyarde, is shocked by what he sees 
               in the distance. His daughter Guenevere, a beautiful girl of 
               sixteen, draws close to him, terrified. With his surviving 
               knights, Leondegrance is making his last stand. The walls 
               have been breached, parts of the castle are burning.


               A bellowing dragon advances. Its eyes burn, its scales gleam 
               from light shining from within. It snorts fire from its 

               Uryens and Lot, Caradoc and Turquine, the great knights in 
               command of the siege of Leondegrance's castle, back away 
               speechless as the monster descends upon their unprepared war 
               camp. All around them, squires and lesser knights flee in 
               panic and confusion.

               Only a dozen or so remain with their leaders. The group backs 
               up against the swampy moat that surrounds the castle, waiting 
               with swords drawn.

               The dragon moves closer, and now it becomes apparent that it 
               is nothing more than a force of knights and footmen. Their 
               shields glinting in the moonlight are the dragon's scales, 
               torches its burning eyes. And the snorting flames from its 
               nostrils are only Merlin doing a fire-eater's trick.

               The dragon form dissolves, and a banner rises bearing the 
               emblem of the Dragon, and under it, Arthur and Ector and Kay 
               lead a charge of twenty knights.

               In Arthur's hands, Excalibur leaves an electric glow upon 
               the air.


                         Father, it's the boy King.

                         It is. I will fight my way to his 


               Arthur and his men charge into the enemy ranks. Lot's and 
               Uryens' people are pushed into the moat. Although the water 
               is only waist-deep, the fallen, weighed down by their armor, 
               drown. The horses of the attackers are brought down, Arthur's 
               among them. He pulls out from under it, limping. Bleeding 
               form wounds, cutting, slashing, thrusting, he falls back 
               from the havoc of the charge.

               A small distance exists now between the foes, a brief respite. 
               Uryens and Lot, exhausted, bleeding, and fierce in their 

                         War-wise fighters, grown gray in 
                         battle, checkmated by a boy.

                         It's Merlin's trickery, nothing more. 
                         I won't swear faith to that wizard's 

               Arthur and his men have been joined by Leondegrance and his 
               knights, few in number.

                         Let's finish this with a show of 
                         force. We have no more tricks and no 
                         more advantages.

               He rushes alone at the enemy, shouting at the top of his 
               lungs, Excalibur flashing over his head, prepared to die.


               Guenevere watches...



                                     SIR ECTOR
                         No... Arthur--

               The old knight rushes after the boy, sword drawn, to defend 
               his flank, and the others follow, a battle cry issuing from 
               them that is terrifying in its fierceness.


               ...and when she can't watch any longer, she buries her face 
               in her hands.


               Arthur fights like a wounded lion at the center of the savage 
               melee of sword and shield, and once again the two sides fall 

               Uryens and Lot are standing in the moat among the bodies of 
               their men, are reduced to eleven knights, all wounded.

               Arthur is flanked by twenty men at arms, most of them wounded, 
               and trembling now beyond exhaustion with blood lust. Arthur 
               steps forward alone, and addresses his opponents.

                         You are in my hands, to slay or spare. 
                         I need battle lords such as you. 
                         Swear faith to me and you shall have 

                         Noble knights swear faith to a mere 

               Arthur turns, searching for Merlin. He spots him watching 
               from a distance. They stare at each other, Merlin implacable, 
               Arthur's eyes pleading. It's obvious that Merlin isn't going 
               to help.

                         You are right. I'm not yet a knight.
                              (gaining strength)
                         You, Uryens, will knight me.

               He unsheathes Excalibur and goes forward, kneeling before 
               Uryens and offering him the sword.

                         Then as knight to knight I can offer 
                         you mercy.

                              (to himself)
                         What's this, what's this?!

               Arthur, kneeling, bows his head and Uryens steps up to him, 
               his features set. He accepts the sword. Lot watches, a mad 
               hope dancing in his eyes.


               Guenevere watches, frightened for Arthur, not daring to 


               Uryens stands towering above the boy. He smiles enigmatically. 
               He lifts Excalibur.

               Merlin is attempting to push through the crowded ranks to 
               get to Arthur.

               He's frantic and worried for once.

                         I never saw this...

               Uryens swiftly lowers the sword on Arthur's neck; with the 
               flat of the blade he gives Arthur the three strokes.

                         In the name of God, of Saint Michael 
                         and Saint George, I give you the 
                         right to bear arms, the power to 
                         mete justice.

               Arthur looks up.

                         That duty I will solemnly obey as 
                         knight and King.

               Uryens is deeply moved.

                         Rise, my King. I am your humble 
                         knight, and I swear allegiance to 
                         the courage in your veins, for so 
                         strong it is, it's source must be 
                         Uther. I doubt you no more.

               Arthur rises and Uryens kneels and kisses his hands. Sir 
               Ector turns away to hide brimming tears. Merlin pushes through 
               finally, out of breath. Uryens embraces Leondegrance while 
               Lot and the other enemy knights kneel in turn and kiss 
               Arthur's hands.


               The castle can be glimpsed through the trees. A clear spring 
               bubbles from the ground, and the sun splashes leaf, bird, 
               squirrel, and bee with golden light, and Arthur and Guenevere 
               too. Guenevere is serious and intent on her work.


               With water from the spring, she is bathing a large cut on 
               his chest that has been stitched closed. Wounds on his arms, 
               and one on a calf also show evidence of her neat sewing. 
               She's just finishing, and she dabs his chest with a dry cloth.

                         It didn't hurt too much, did it?


                         --I'm pretty good at stitchery. I've 
                         sewn my father's wounds more than 

               He starts to get up.

                         Careful! You'll have to stay still 
                         for a few days or you'll tear them 

               Arthur shivers at the thought.

                         But I have to leave tomorrow. The 
                         forests are thick with rebels, 
                         invaders plunder our shores...

                         --And damsels in besieged castles 
                         are waiting to be rescued?

                         I didn't know Leondegrance had a 

                         Well, then, I shall tell you which 
                         knights have maiden daughters, so 
                         you can avoid their castles.

               Arthur smiles at her, enjoying her jealousy, and it irritates 
               her a little.

                         No, I think it's better if you just 
                         stay here to heal. At least a week.

                         I'm going.

                         Quiet, or I'll sew up your mouth 

               She touches his lips with hers, her eyelids fluttering shut. 
               He stares at her young beauty, and draws her into a long, 
               slow kiss.

               A shrill almost human squeal pierces the air not far away. 
               Arthur pulls away startled, half-rising. Guenevere giggles.

                         Would you rescue me from a fiery 
                         dragon, sir?

               She puts her arms around him, drawing him close again, 
               speaking in a half-whisper.

                         It's just a furry little rabbit that 
                         took the bait and sprung the trap.

               They smile at each other, about to kiss. As they come closer:

                         You'll find him served up to you 
                         tonight, cooked in a most excellent 


               The soft beat of psaltery and the liquid flow of lute. A 
               serving platter bearing roast rabbit in rampant position is 
               carried across the hall. It is laid on the long raised table 
               before Arthur, who presides in the middle. He looks at it 
               suspiciously and blushes, remembering the afternoon; and it 
               looks back at him accusingly with its cherry eye.

               Guenevere is dancing around her father, lovely, gliding, 
               sensual. She sees Arthur and the rabbit and laughs out-right. 
               He twists off a leg of the rabbit and sinks his teeth into 
               it to hide his embarrassment. Guenevere passes to another 
               partner, smiling at him, radiant. Arthur watches her, his 
               heart breaking. He is in love.

               Merlin leans close.

                         A king must marry, after all.

                         ...of course...

               Only then does he realize that Merlin has understood 
               everything. He is annoyed at being so transparent.

                         I love her. If she would be my queen, 
                         my dreams would be answered.

                         There are maidens as fair, and fairer 
                         than Guenevere. If I put my mind to 
                         it, I could see them now, many of 
                         them, weeping for love of you, 
                         watching the hills for you coming 
                         from the high towers of their castles. 
                         Offering you their every favor. Rich, 
                         clever--but if it is to be Guenevere, 
                         so be it.

               A shadow of doubt crosses Arthur's brow.

                         Who will it be? Put your mind to it, 

                         Guenevere. And a beloved friend who 
                         will betray you.


                         You're not listening. Your heart is 
                         not. Love is deaf as well as blind.

               Guenevere approaches, smiling and coquettish. She slaps her 
               hands, and a servant sets down a tray of pastries before 

                         They are only for you, for in them I 
                         mixed things that heal, but not too 
                         quickly; and things that make limbs 
                         sleepy, preventing escape, but keep 
                         one's mind sharp.

               She smiles at Arthur's embarrassment and confusion.

                         What's in them?

               She takes a cake and bites into it.

                         It is an ancient mixture, containing 
                         only soft, unborn grains, and flavored 
                         with roses. The rest is secret.

               Guenevere offers one to Arthur, and he hesitates, looking at 

                         Looking at the cake is like looking 
                         at the future. Until you have savored 
                         its bitterness and its sweetness, 
                         its texture and its perfume, what do 
                         you really know? And then, of course, 
                         it will he too late.

               Arthur bites into the cake, and Guenevere looks deep into 
               his eyes.

                         Too late...

                                                                  FADE OUT:

               A LEGEND APPEARS:

               "...but for years war kept Arthur from thoughts of marriage."

               FADE IN:

               EXT. OAK FOREST - DAY

               War tents have been pitched beneath the majestic trees. Near 
               the banner of the Dragon a doe grazes. Arthur is older, in 
               battle-scarred plate armor, pacing and angry. He is watched 
               by his wounded and bruised knights--Kay, Uryens, Lot, 
               Leondegrance, Caradoc, and some new young faces among the 
               ranks. No one talks.

               The harsh clank of its battle trappings announces the arrival 
               of a horse. All eyes watch it walk into the camp. A knight 
               is slouched in the saddle.

               Arthur runs to meet the horse, followed by squires and some 
               of the knights.

               He eases the rider to the ground, unlaces his helmet. It is 
               Sir Ector, and his hauberk is badly dented. Tears burn in 
               Arthur's eyes.

                                     SIR ECTOR
                         He is the mightiest and fairest of 

                         We fought and won battles, and now 
                         one man defeats all my knights? I 
                         will go.

               He pushes past the knights and goes to his horse. Kay steps 
               in front of him.

                                     SIR KAY
                         A king must not engage in single 
                         contest. I'll go again.

               Arthur rises into the saddle and takes a jousting spear from 
               the rack.

                         Where is Merlin?

               The squires are silent.

               Arthur gallops off in the direction Sir Ector came from. His 
               knights are afraid for him.

               EXT. COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

               His countenance grim, Arthur gallops along a trail bordering 
               a plowed field when in it a scarecrow moves. It starts to 
               run as stick-wielding farmers pursue it. It is Merlin. Arthur 
               turns off into the field, and at the sight of an armored 
               knight on a war horse, the farmers turn and flee. Merlin 
               stops to catch his breath.

                         I should have left you to fend for 

                         I had to weave a little enchantment 
                         on the bees so I could get some honey, 
                         and I didn't feel up to using any 
                         more magic just yet. Anyway, I was 
                         in less danger than you'll be in 

               Arthur's hand is clenched tight around Excalibur's hilt.

                         So you were stealing their honey. 
                         They should have killed you.

                         Come now. So much anger for such a 
                         little crime? Are you sure there is 
                         nothing else troubling you?

                         You know full well there is, and I 
                         go to meet it now. Come witness my 

               He offers his arm and Merlin hoists himself up behind the 


               A waterfall cascades into a pool. The spray casts a rainbow. 
               Beneath it is a colorful confusion of flowers and budding 
               trees, a place dreamlike in its beauty.

               Arthur, with Merlin behind, gallops along the edge of the 
               pool. The trail widens into a field of grass. Arthur reins 
               beside a pile of broken lances and twisted shields. Across 
               the field, pitched upon the trail is a war tent made of 
               diaphanous white silk, a sky blue banner above it. Merlin 
               slides off and Arthur continues.

               From the tent, a knight with jousting lance rides forward to 
               meet him. His armor is so shiny it is a mirror. His eyes, 
               seen through the open visor, seem to laugh. His speech is 
               foreign, from across the sea. He is Lancelot of the Lake.

                         Good day to you, sir.

                         Move aside. This is the King's road, 
                         and the knights you joined arms 
                         against were his very own.

                         I await the King himself. His knights 
                         are in need of training.

                         I am King, and this is Excalibur, 
                         sword of kings from the dawn of time. 
                         Who are you, and why do you block 
                         the way?

                         I am Sir Lancelot of the Lake, from 
                         across the sea. I am the best knight 
                         in the whole of Christiandom, and I 
                         look for the king who is worthy of 
                         my sword's service.

                         --That is a wild boast. You lack a 
                         knight's humility.

                         Not a boast, sir, but a curse.
                              (a cloud passes over 
                              his innocent face)
                         Never have I met my match in joust 
                         or duel.

                         Move aside!

                         I will not. You must retreat or prove 
                         your kingship in the test of arms, 
                         under the eyes of God.

               He crosses himself.

                         Then may He give me the strength to 
                         unhorse you and send you with one 
                         blow back across the sea.

               Arthur wheels away, trembling with anger, and gallops to his 
               edge of the field. He sees that Lancelot has already 
               positioned himself and is waiting, lance down.

               Merlin watches, a spectator, as the two charge at each other. 
               They collide with great force, their spears shattering. Arthur 
               is jolted but stays in the saddle. Lancelot's jousting is 
               impeccable. Arthur draws Excalibur.

                         Hold! I offer you another lance.

               Pages come forward with new lances for Arthur and Lancelot.

                         You joust well, sir. Battle learnt, 
                         but tournament fancy. You should 
                         ride more forward in the saddle, 

               Arthur grabs the spear from the page's hands, and circles 
               back to work the horse up into an all-out gallop. Lancelot 
               spurs forward to meet him. Arthur is neatly unhorsed. He 
               picks himself up from the ground in a rage, drawing Excalibur. 
               Lancelot on his horse weaves circles around him.

                         Yield. I have the advantage.

                         I will not.

               Arthur charges Lancelot, a raging bull, but cuts and slashes 
               only at the air as Lancelot stays clear of him.

                         Fight me from your horse or on foot, 
                         but fight me. Your avoidance mocks 

                         I sought only not to harm you, sir.

               He dismounts and draws his sword, and they clash. Shield and 
               sword and armor against shield and sword and armor. The 
               swordplay is furious, Arthur attacking, slashing, hacking, 
               Lancelot parrying effortlessly, elegantly defensive. Arthur 
               breaks the onslaught to catch his breath. Lancelot lifts his 
               visor. His eyes are calm, laughing.

                         Sir, your rage has unbalanced you. 
                         It seems you would fight to the death 
                         against a knight who is not your 
                         enemy, for a length of road you can 
                         ride around.

                         So be it, to the death.

                         It is you, sir, who knows not the 
                         virtue of humility, as a true king 

               Arthur goes forward attacking with terrible blows upon 
               Lancelot's shield, and Lancelot holds his ground, shield 
               high. And in its mirror-like metal Arthur can see his own 
               reflection, a face distorted by uncontrolled passion.

               Arthur discards his own shield, grabs Excalibur with both 
               hands, and with a frightening shout that speaks of all his 
               rage, he swings a terrific blow upon the shield, cutting 
               through his own reflection and the metal. And Excalibur snaps 
               in two.

               A blinding blue-green light explodes from the broken sword. 
               Lancelot, knocked back by the force of the blow, is stunned 
               by the blast and falls to the ground unconscious. Arthur 
               backs away, horrified, half of Excalibur in his hand.

                         What horror is this?

               Merlin approaches, pale, gripped by dread.

                         The sword is broken. Hope is broken...

               Arthur picks up the broken blade, utterly undone.

                         My pride broke it, my rage broke 
                         it... Humiliation and defeat lie in 
                         ambush even for a king.
                              (looking at Lancelot)
                         This excellent knight who fought 
                         with fairness and grace was meant to 
                         win. With Excalibur, I tried to change 
                         that verdict.

               Merlin stands there, drawn, defeated, his hopes dead.

                         I have lost for all time the ancient 
                         sword of my fathers whose power was 
                         meant to unite all men, to serve the 
                         vanity of a single man.

               Despairing, he flings the two parts of Excalibur into the 
               pool. He kneels at the waters edge, and he cries.

                         I am nothing.

               Then Arthur sees something that startles him. Beneath the 
               surface, suspended in the blue-green water amid the dancing 
               weeds, he sees Excalibur, intact.

               It is held by a maiden in flowing gown the color of water, 
               her long hair rippling across her face, obscuring it.

                         Excalibur! Is it true?

                         The Lady of the Lake. Take it. Take 
                         it, quickly!

               Arthur dips his hand under the water and grasps the hilt and 
               the moment he does the vision in the blue-green water fades. 
               He rises with Excalibur in hand, and Merlin speaks before 
               Arthur can ask the question.

                         There are infinite worlds within the 
                         infinite coils of the Dragon. In one 
                         of them, which I have not traveled, 
                         the sword was forged. I only know 
                         that the King is returned to us 
                         through the instrument of his power. 
                         The game continues!

               And he laughs.

               Just then Lancelot stirs. Arthur rushes to his side. He 
               loosens his helmet and removes it, uncovering damp curls. 
               The young knight's eyes open, and his laughing charm once 
               more animates his face.

                         Thanks to God, you are alive.

                              (sitting up)
                         I, the best knight in the world, 
                         bested! This is a great day, for my 
                         search is over. I love you, my King.

               He embraces Arthur, who is overwhelmed by his childlike 
               directness. The King helps him to his feet.

                         You are still the best knight in 
                         Christiandom. You gained a hundred 
                         advantages over me. It is I who must 
                         love you, for through your courage 
                         and patience you taught me a bitter 

                         Then make me your champion and I 
                         will always fight in your place.

                         But your life and lands are far from 

                         I gave up my castles and my lands!

               He thumps his breastplate.

                         My domain is here, inside this metal 
                         skin. And I would pledge to you all 
                         that I still own: muscle, bone, blood 
                         and the heart that pumps it.

                         And a great heart it is. Sir Lancelot, 
                         you will be my champion.

               Lancelot draws his sword, holding it by the blade, a crucifix.

                         In the name of Jesus Christ and His 
                         holy blood, I swear eternal faith to 
                         Arthur, King.

               They embrace, and Merlin watches.

               EXT. ARTHUR'S WAR CAMP - NIGHT

               Converging from different directions parties of mounted 
               knights enter the war camp. Lancelot among them. They 
               dismount, battle-weary and burning with the excitement of 
               victory. They quench their huge thirst from buckets carried 
               by squires. They rip off hunks of meat from carcasses sizzling 
               on spits over a roaring fire. And they join the throng of 
               knights, where stories of deeds of arms of the day are 
               enthusiastically exchanged.

               A great number of knights are packed tightly around King 
               Arthur, each man anxious to tell of his victories. One of 
               them has the King's attention.

                         ...We killed every one of them. Burnt 
                         their ship...

               Arthur sees Lancelot in the throng and moves toward him. 
               Merlin follows Arthur and is pushed and knocked around in 
               the crush of spikes and iron. The only unarmored man in the 
               crowd, he glares at the excited knights irritably.

                         Lancelot, how did you fare in the 

                         We spared the lives of a few, so 
                         they could sail home and tell their 
                         fellows what fate they met at the 
                         hands of King Arthur's knights...

               Arthur turns toward Uryens.

                         And you, Uryens?


                         Lot, and you?

                         We drove the invaders into the sea.

                         You, Gawain, the East?

                         The East is ours again.

               Cheers greet each declaration.

                         The war is over. One land, one King. 

               Amidst the celebration, a fracas is heard. A knight pushing 
               forward to talk to Arthur has entered a shoving match with 
               those in front of him.

                         Let me through. I fought the King's 
                         battle too. He must know my story.

               Merlin is brutally jostled. He draws a fistful of powder 
               from his cape and he tosses it into the air above him. He 
               raises his staff into the cloud, cracking it like a whip. 
               The tip of the staff catches fire, and the fire spreads 
               through the powder in the air, stunning all into silence. 
               Merlin shouts and snarls.

                         Chaos... confusion... brutes... 
                         savages... troglodytes... Stand 
                         back... make space.

               Merlin swings his burning staff into a wide arc. The knights 
               back away, amused at first, then a bit afraid.

                         The moon... the sun... the stars... 
                         they spin... they turn... they 
                         circle... around us... us...

               The knights have fallen back. Merlin stalks past each man, 
               and Arthur too, holding the flaming tip of his staff before 
               each pair of eyes, and staring into them with his gimlet 

                         You, and you, and you, take up your 
                         place. Be wedded to the world. Respect 
                         its perfection. All of you, together, 
                         be one.

               The knights have formed a circle. They realize this. 
               Awestruck, they whisper in astonishment, looking up at the 
               sky burning with stars. Merlin brims with pride as he waits 
               for Arthur to recognize his handiwork.

                         Your ancient wisdom and infinite 
                         sight have forged this circle, Merlin. 
                         Hereafter we shall come together in 
                         a circle, to tell and hear of deeds 
                         good and brave. I will build a table 
                         where this fellowship shall meet. 
                         And a hall around the table. And a 
                         castle about the hall.

               A cheer rises. Arthur strides into the ring of knights.

                         And I will marry.

               Another bout of cheers goes up, and Arthur stops before 
               Leondegrance, resting his hand on the old knight's shoulder.

                         And the land will have an heir to 
                         wield Excalibur.

               Leondegrance's eyes fill with tears of joy. A roar of cheers. 
               Arthur draws the sword of power.

                         Knights of the Round Table, good 
                         friends, brothers in arms. I send 
                         you on a quest harder by far than 
                         the battles we have fought together, 
                         a quest to uphold always, and 
                         everywhere, justice, honor, and truth. 
                         Each day shall bring forth a cause, 
                         and may each cause bring forth a 

               Lancelot is drawn in by the King's enthusiasm. He unsheathes 
               his sword and swoops it low in salute.

                         I swear never to rest twice on the 
                         same pillow till all men live at 

               In quick succession all knights draw their swords, following 
               Lancelot's example.

               Merlin struggles to put out the flame on his staff. He finally 
               does it by smothering it with earth. When he looks up again, 
               he sees the knights galloping off in all directions.

               INT. FARMHOUSE - DAY

               Terrified women, a screaming child, cowering men, old or 
               made old by the hard labor of the fields. Armored men are 
               ransacking a farm, looking for grain, and gold which they 
               find among the votive objects of a little house altar. A 
               woman is dragged away to be raped.

               Through a window, a knight in shining armor is seen emerging 
               from the adjoining woods. The plunderers are all of a sudden 
               apprehensive, and fall silent. One of them grabs the crying 
               child and covers her mouth with his iron hand.

               EXT. FARMYARD - DAY

               The knight is Lancelot, in his mirror-like armor. He rides 
               into the cluster of houses and barns that make up the farm. 
               There are other armored men there, around a cart half-loaded 
               with loot. They smile nervously at Lancelot. The farmers are 
               blank with fear.

               Lancelot stops in the middle of the yard. A knight among the 
               armored men comes forward.

                         Good day, sir.

                         Good day to you.

               And he also acknowledges with a nod the ashen-faced patriarch 
               of the community.

               Lancelot spurs his horse on, and the knight sighs with relief. 
               But then he reins his horse to a stop. He has sensed 
               something. He turns his head, his hooded eyes on the knight 
               and his men, and they squirm inwardly.

               INT. FARMHOUSE - DAY

               The child, her mouth covered by the armored hand.

               EXT. FARMYARD - DAY

               Lancelot, listening, watching.

               INT. BARN - DAY

               The woman, a blade flashing next to her eye.

               EXT. FARMYARD - DAY

               Lancelot, immobile. Behind him, the knight, his face shiny 
               with sweat. His minions inch forward, hands moving slowly 
               toward sword hilts.

               Lancelot wheels his horse around.

                         I hear the stifled cry for help, I 
                         smell the reek of fear...

               With a shout the knight and his men draw their swords and 
               rush Lancelot. He reins in his horse, causing it to rear and 
               break their attack. He slides off, falling on his feet with 
               sword drawn, already fighting. In an extraordinary show of 
               sword play he cuts down six men.

               INT. FARMHOUSE - DAY

               Hearing Lancelot storm in, the man holding the child hands 
               her to a woman and kneels before the altar, just as Lancelot 
               bursts into the room, sword high and already swooping down 
               on the man's neck. Lancelot brings the sword to a halt mid-
               air, his fury held in check. The repent man is spared. The 
               woman kneels to kiss Lancelot's hand.


               The field is pitched with war tents and pavilions decked for 
               holiday. Nobles and knights flank the King and Guenevere, a 
               beautiful vision in white samite, a wreath of flowers around 
               her head. Lancelot leads a long file of prisoners to the 
               King. They fall to their knees, begging forgiveness; among 
               them is the man whom Lancelot had spared before the altar.

                         These men repented before God for 
                         their evil deeds. Those who would 
                         not, met their fate at the end of my 
                              (he kneels)
                         Accept the fruit of my first quest 
                         as my wedding gift.

                         I do. Rise, Lancelot, come with me.

               He rises and follows Arthur and Guenevere into the central 
               pavilion. Pages draw its curtains closed as they pass inside.

               INT. PAVILION - DAY

               Guenevere is surrounded by a group of ladies and maids who 
               fuss over her dress and her hair. They eye the great knight 
               and whisper about him, Guenevere laughing with them.

               Arthur sits, excited and happy.

                         Sit beside me, Lancelot.

               Lancelot sits, stiff and upright.

                         Your deeds set an example for all 
                         other knights. For your gift, ask a 
                         gift of me.

                         Only give me leave to ride out again, 
                         to do what I am most able to do, and 
                         happiest doing.

               Guenevere overhears. She approaches and Lancelot jumps to 
               his feet.

                              (to Arthur)
                         He must stay for the feasting days 
                         of our wedding, and tell his deeds 

                              (to Lancelot, smiling)
                         I grant you your wish if you grant 
                         Lady Guenevere hers.

                         I will stay Madame.

               Merlin leans close to Arthur.

                         The knights of Galys approach the 
                         camp. It would be politic...

                ride out and meet them.

               He rises. Lancelot, who was about to sit again, straightens.

                         I will ride with Sir Kay. Lancelot, 
                         rest here.

                         Don't start a war on my wedding day!

                         Without Lancelot?!

               Arthur and Merlin exit, leaving Guenevere and Lancelot. She 
               looks at him, lively and amused, and he can't help smiling.

                         Look Lancelot. The maids and ladies 
                         whisper about you. They all dream of 
                         winning you, young and old, fair and 

               Lancelot blushes.

                         But surely that's no secret to you, 
                         dear Lancelot. You're the bravest 
                         and strongest knight they've ever 
                         seen, and beauty has kissed your 

               He can't look at her.

                         The well-kept secret is whether any 
                         of them has won your heart.



                         I am a fighting man and I am married 
                         to the quest. That is enough.

                         And there is no maiden in the whole 
                         world who inspires you?

                         There is one.




                         Yes. I would swear my love to you.

                         To me? But why?

                         I cannot love as a woman the lady 
                         who will be wife to my King and my 
                         friend. And, in pledging my love to 
                         you, I cannot love any other woman.

               Guenevere smiles, moved by his blunt innocence.

                         I will see you in all women, and I 
                         will defend them as I would defend 

               He kneels, kisses her thigh, rises and leaves.

               INT. CHAPEL - DAY

               A chorus of children sings. The Bishop waits at the altar 
               with his friars and altar boys. Cornucopias overflowing with 
               vegetables and wildflowers adorn the church, which glows 
               with the light of a thousand candles. Sir Kay is satisfied. 
               He comes back up the petal-strewn aisle.


               Arthur and Guenevere are ushered in by Kay. They are flanked 
               by Leondegrance and Sir Ector. Lancelot and Merlin follow, 
               leading the cortege of knights and ladies.

               Merlin is incapable of entering the chapel, as if at the 
               threshold there is an unseen force that repels him.

                         Lord Merlin, are you ill?

                         No, no, I need air.

               Strangling a laugh he wrenches himself away. Just then Uryens 
               and a small party of knights rides up through the tents and 
               dismounts in front of the church. Uryens helps a lady off 
               her horse and joins the cortege on foot.

                         Merlin, don't you join the 

               Merlin, who was slinking away through the throng of 
               bystanders, looks up. What he sees sends a chill through his 

               At Uryens' side stands a young woman of sinister beauty, 
               with bewitching eyes of ice. Merlin just stares at her, and 
               she smiles back at him faintly.

                         My wife, Merlin. Lady Morgana of 

                         I remember you, Merlin. I was a child. 
                         You took my brother away.

               Merlin laughs. Uryens shrugs and continues into the chapel 
               with Morgana. As she enters she glances back, and just then 
               Merlin steals a look, their eyes meet.

               INT. CHAPEL - DAY

               Uryens and Morgana take their places near the altar. Arthur 
               and Guenevere kneel before the Bishop, and Arthur takes her 
               hand. The clatter of armor mingles with the enthusiastic, 
               happy singing of the children, and seems to strengthen their 


               The chorus carries across the field to the dark wall of trees 
               from which issues another chorus, of hoots and squawks and 
               howls. Merlin advances along the edge of the forest. He stops 
               by the stone that once held the sword, his eyes wild. He 
               forgets his inner torment when he sees a plant at the base 
               of the stone. He kneels beside it and plucks it. He admires 
               its strange flowers; he smells them.

               Two feet appear at his side. He rises to be face to face 
               with Morgana. They look deep into each other. Then Merlin 
               breaks the silence.

                         You left your husband's side? You 
                         left your brother's wedding?

                         Is that Mandrake, Lord Merlin?

                         It is.

                         Can it truly be used for magic?

               Merlin smiles at last, and Morgana does, her eyes piercing, 
               cruel and lovely.

                         Yes... sometimes...

               His gaze drifts toward the chapel.

                         ...There are many powers in this 

               INT. CHAPEL - EVENING

               Arthur and Guenevere are radiant with joy, and Lancelot behind 
               them mirrors the ceremony of their joining in his armor; and 
               the sweet voices of the children fill the chapel as the Bishop 
               pours the wine into the chalice, and lifts it up before him, 
               blessing it.

               He turns to the royal couple.

                         Drink this the blood of Jesus Christ 
                         our Lord.

               The chalice seems to burn with a mystical light; and as the 
               chorus soars:

                                                                  FADE OUT:

               A LEGEND APPEARS:

               "And Arthur built his castle, Camelot. And one day, in the 
               far reaches of the Kingdom..."

               FADE IN:

               EXT. FOREST, STREAM - DAY

               It is shadowy and dark; ancient trees creak, unseen animals 
               cry out. A rabbit hops into view and a boy leaps forward, 
               grabbing the animal by the ears before it can move. He--
               Perceval--is a wild boy of seventeen, dressed in skins with 
               an endearing and childlike smile.

                              (to the rabbit)
                         Sorry. Hungry.

               A din is heard to the forest, and it grows. Perceval glances 
               around, panicked. The sound is the rubbing of leather upon 
               leather, of metal on metal, for now a mounted figure in armor 
               hovers over the terrified boy.

                         Have I taken too much?

               He lets the rabbit go free. The threatening figure dismounts. 
               And Perceval, cartwheels backward, landing in the stream and 
               scooping a fish out.

                              (desperately trying 
                              to ingratiate)
                         I had rabbit yesterday. Today I'll 
                         eat fish... No?

               He returns the fish to the water. The figure steps into a 
               pool of sunlight and a glorious halo streaks from the armor. 
               It is Lancelot.

                         Don't be afraid.

               Perceval is overcome with astonishment, and he kneels.

                         You're an angel! Not a devil...

               Lancelot laughs and pulls the boy to his feet.

                         Just a man. A knight in the King's 

                         You're a man?!
                              (he reaches out to 
                              touch Lancelot)
                         ...with metal skin!

               Perceval is beside himself with enthusiasm.

                         Can I grow metal skin?

               Lancelot rolls his eyes, amused.

                         You've got a lot to learn.

               EXT. SPARSE FOREST - DAY

               Lancelot is cantering and Perceval is running alongside, 
               shouting in gasps.

                         I'll learn... take me... to the 
                         King... What's a... King?

               Lancelot shakes his head and spurs the horse into a gallop. 
               Perceval lengthens his stride, and keeps up! Lancelot reins 
               to a halt.

                         Very well. Climb up.

                         I will run.

                         Listen, boy, it's more than twenty 
                         days from here.

                         Twenty days!? The world is that big?


               Perceval cannot believe his eyes. As Lancelot and Kay talk 
               about him out of earshot, he sees things that he's never 
               seen before; and he gapes like the country bumpkin that he 

               Dragon-like kites sweep low, maneuvered by children. In a 
               meadow among the trees, knights hone their skills with lance 
               and sword, and ladies watch and their "bright eyes rain 
               influence and judge the prize." And then, there is Camelot 
               itself; the great gate and the drawbridge; the massive walls, 
               and the soaring towers and spires above.

               Perceval rushes up to Lancelot and Kay.

                         Who will give me my sword?

               Kay is not at all pleased; nonetheless he takes the boy by 
               the ear and leads him across the drawbridge and into the 

                         Kitchen knives and greasy spits will 
                         be your weapons, boy.

               Lancelot smiles to himself, hesitation, lingering before the 
               great gate of Camelot.

               There is a walkway suspended in the trees above, that also 
               leads to the castle, and promenading on it is a group of 
               women, Guenevere and her ladies-in-waiting. The Queen sees 
               Lancelot and hastens toward him.

               Lancelot sees her, and mounts his horse and heads back into 
               the forest. She stops, somewhat ahead of the ladies, and 
               watches wistfully.

               Lancelot turns back and seeing her one last time, draws down 
               his visor and spurs his horse into a canter.

               He passes two commoners who are heading for the castle, one 
               fat and the other thin, and they are locked in hot dispute. 
               Their wives keep them from coming to blows and their children 
               spur them on, enjoying the excitement.

               Lancelot is swallowed by the forest.


               Guenevere, bearing a bowl of perfect, deep red apples, 
               approaches the Round Table, where Arthur sits and Merlin at 
               his side, attending to the affairs of the kingdom. Quite a 
               few of the knights occupy their seats, talking with each 
               other, drinking and laughing, attended by ladies and pages. 
               Guenevere places the apples at Lancelot's empty place and 
               takes her seat next to Arthur.

               In the archways that lead into the hall, petitioners wait, 
               eating, drinking, talking among themselves. In the din, no 
               one pays attention to the vehement arguing of the fat man 
               and the thin man, which continues even here. The hall is the 
               burgeoning, happy center of the kingdom.

               But Merlin is oblivious to the lively clamor. He gazes like 
               a lovesick puppy across the table at Morgana, who bends over 
               whispering to a knight at the table, the young Sir Gahalt,, 
               while his older brother Sir Gawain listens. Morgana notices 
               Merlin's stare and smiles at him, and then resumes her 
               flirtation with Sir Gahalt, much to Merlin's annoyance.

               Sir Kay ushers the thin man and the fat man into the open 
               space at the center of the table for their audience with the 
               king. They quarrel even as Kay tries to present them, and 
               the attention of the hall gradually focuses on them.

               The two men talk at once, interrupting, overlapping.

                         FAT MAN
                 I brew ale, sir--from 
                 old shoes--I am an 
                 honest tradesman sir. 
                 I must sell what I 
                 produce. He won't buy 
                 ale and he won't pay. 
                 Pay up! He leans over 
                 the barrel and sucks 
                 in the vapors. The 
                 vapors are mine.

                                                       THIN MAN
                                               How would you know I, sir, 
                                               have the misfortune to 
                                               live next to this 
                                               criminal... What loss in 
                                               that? Not to me! Pay for 
                                               what? Why?! They are 
                                               floating on the wind. 

               Arthur is both amused and exasperated.

                         Enough!... What is a fair price for 
                         the smell of your ale?

                                     FAT MAN
                         That's why we have come to you, sir 
                         There's no one else who can tell us.

                         What does it cost to get drunk on 
                         your ale?

                                     FAT MAN
                         At least three shillings, sir.

               Arthur addresses the Thin Man.

                         Give me three shillings.

               The Thin Man is crestfallen, the smile gone from his face. 
               He reluctantly hands the coins to Kay, who gives them to 
               Arthur. Arthur tosses them in the air and lets them fall on 
               a metal plate. He hands them back to the Thin Man, who is 
               totally confused now, as is everybody else.

                         For the smell of your ale, the jingle 
                         of his coins.

               The knights roar with laughter and the Fat Man and the Thin 
               Man look at each other in astonishment. Perceval lets out a 
               raucous laugh that wins him a glance of disapproval from 


               The din of the petitioners is replaced by music. It is the 
               hour of the evening feast, and all knights are present, except 
               Lancelot. Whole tree trunks burn in the great fireplace, and 
               lambs roast on spits in the flames. Pages run to and fro 
               with trays of food and wine, Perceval among them.

               Morgana stops beside Merlin.

                         What did I see today in the wizard's 
                         eyes? Censure, because I enjoy a few 
                         words with a young handsome knight?

               Merlin is in agony, a bug stuck on a pin.

                         No, no, of course not. You are 

                         I'm not jealous!

                         It's clear you are, and it irks me.

                         No. Yes, I am. I am jealous. I want 
                         to write poems about you with 
                         moonbeams, make the sea sing your 

                         A lovestruck page!

                         Shh... yes, yes. Sit with me, 
                         please... Morgana.

               She does, laughing and in complete control. His hand 
               immediately slides onto her thigh. She removes it, but holds 
               it in her hand, toying with his fingers.

                         A steamy, panting, lovestruck page. 
                         But what good are songs and poems to 
                         me? They are the barter of ordinary 
                         love. A gift that reflected your 
                         greatness is the only one worthy of 
                         your love.

               Merlin looks at her, knowing already, sad yet eager.

                         I showed you all my conjuring 

                         The deepest secrets, the forbidden 

                         Maybe... maybe...

               Merlin's thoughts have carried him far away, when he realizes 
               that Arthur is addressing him.

                         Merlin, are you counselor to the 
                         King, or to my sister?

               Some knights laugh.

                         At your service, sir.

                         Then answer me this. For years peace 
                         has reigned in the land. Crops grow 
                         in abundance, there is no want. Every 
                         one of my subjects enjoys his portion 
                         of happiness and justice, even those 
                         whose tiresome misunderstandings we 
                         must resolve here each day. Tell me, 
                         Merlin: have we defeated evil, as it 

                         Good and evil; there is never one 
                         without the other.

               Arthur is taken aback.

                         Where hides evil, then, in my kingdom?

                         Never where you expect it, that's 
                         all I know.

               He chuckles softly and Arthur is puzzled. A knight speaks 
               out, the young knight with whom Morgana was flirting. His 
               manner is sarcastic.

                                     SIR GAHALT
                         If we have peace and justice, why is 
                         Lancelot never with us? Why is he 
                         always riding out on his quests? He 
                         must know where this evil is.

                                     SIR GAWAIN
                         Could there be evil within Lancelot 
                         himself? To live above human folly, 
                         as is his aim, is to be overly proud.

                                     SIR GAHALT
                         He pays no heed even to the Queens 
                         longing for his company.

               The hall falls silent, all eyes upon the Queen.

                              (lashing out)
                         What is it you would have your words 
                         mean, Sir Gahalt?

               Frightened, Gahalt doesn't answer. Morgana has slipped to 
               Guenevere's side.

                         Don't listen to him. You are the 

               Arthur, ashen-faced, turns to Merlin for help, but he has 
               escaped into sleep...

                         Sir Gahalt, answer the Queen.

                         No. I meant not to be angry with 
                         you, Sir Gahalt. In the idleness 
                         that comes with peace gossip has 
                         bread its own evil. You merely repeat 
                         it. Please, sir, have one of those 
                         apples that Lancelot loves, and in 
                         that gesture partake of its goodness.

               Morgana picks the bowl up and as she does so, unseen by any 
               and with a magician's dexterity, she thrusts her fingernails 
               deep into the top apple. She gives the bowl to Guenevere, 
               who takes it and sweeps around to where Sir Gahalt sits, 
               followed by Morgana. The young knight jumps to his feet.

                         Take one, Sir Gahalt.

                                     SIR GAHALT
                         I am most honored, my lady.

               He is too shy to take the shiniest, most beautiful apple on 
               top, and goes for another one. Morgana giggles, and he looks 
               at her. She looks at the apple on top and then smiles 
               encouragingly at him. Sir Gahalt takes it and starts eating 
               as the Queen returns to her seat.

               With the third bite his is unable to breathe. His face goes 
               red and he rises to his feet, attempting to call out.

               He falls, dying immediately. All leap to their feet, and 
               Arthur rushes to the young knight. Merlin is asleep and far 
               from human affairs.

               Arthur and Sir Gawain rise from the body of the young knight. 
               Sir Gawain backs away from Arthur and points at Guenevere, 
               trembling with cold rage.

                                     SIR GAWAIN
                         Hear me, Lord Arthur, and knights 
                         and chieftains: I charge Guenevere 
                         with the murder of my brother.

               Guenevere, white and with a broken voice, turns to Arthur.

                         I didn't... I am innocent.

               She begins to swoon and Morgana keeps her steady on her feet. 
               Arthur slumps into his seat and Sir Gawain kneels before 

                                     SIR GAWAIN
                         I champion this truth: That Queen 
                         Guenevere murdered Sir Gahalt with 
                         the aid of sorcery.

               Enraged, Arthur reaches for Excalibur. But with effort he 
               checks his impulse.

                         The Queen will be in my charge till 
                         a champion steps forward to fight on 
                         her behalf.

                         Not you, my husband?

               Arthur cannot look at her.

                                     SIR GAWAIN
                         She must be burnt at the stake. That 
                         is the sentence for murder done with 

                         It is. Lords and knights of the Round 
                         Table, as her husband I say that 
                         this deed was not done by Guenevere. 
                         Who among you will champion this 

               No one responds. Guenevere falls into her seat. Arthur 
               searches the eyes of his knights and they evade him.

                         Sir Caradoc! You!

               The knight looks up.

                         I am torn.

               Sir Ector, old and feeble, weeps for Arthur. Someone speaks 
               up. It is Perceval, who kneels before the Queen. His voice 
               is unnaturally loud, and his eyes shine with held-back tears; 
               he stutters.

                         I will champion you, my lady.

               He is overwhelmed by his own boldness. He looks around. All 
               eyes are upon him. Guenevere smiles at him, sadly.

                         I thank you, but you are not yet a 

                         I will find Lancelot! He will come!

               Perceval hurries from the hall. Arthur looks away, ashamed, 
               and his eyes fall on Merlin, twitching and mumbling in his 

                         Boys!... boys will be boys...

               EXT. HOVEL - COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

               In full armor but for his helmet, Lancelot is seated at a 
               small table in the shadow of a tree, eating an apple.

               A young girl is turning a chicken on a spit, and her mother 
               is removing freshly-baked bread from an oven. It is very 
               peaceful and silent until, galloping all out, Perceval 
               arrives. Frantic, out of breath, he leaps from his lathered 

                         I have found you. The Queen. An apple.
                         Tomorrow. Sir Gawain...

                         --It must wait, child. These good 
                         ladies, for whom I intervened once, 
                         will honor me with a meal. I am 
                         beholden to them now as I was when 
                         they begged my protection.

               The two women set the chicken and the bread before the great 
               knight, and stand back to watch him eat, flushed with 
               excitement. Perceval falls silent, in awe of Lancelot.


               Arthur stands hunched over the fireplace, staring into the 
               flames. Guenevere paces back and forth to a window.

                         Why can't you be my champion?

                         If I am your judge, I cannot be your 
                         champion. When I act as your King, I 
                         cannot be your husband.

                         And you cannot love me...

                         The laws, my laws, must bind everyone, 
                         high and low, or they are not laws 
                         at all. Lancelot will come...

                         And if he cannot be found, no other 
                         knight will champion me, though you 
                         beseeched each and every one of them. 
                         Why be king if there is no one you 
                         can call loyal subject but an eager 

               He hides his anguish from her. Numb with hurt, she goes to a 
               tall curtained window, and draws it open, and stands there 
               looking out upon the surrounding forest, silent and still 
               beneath the moon.

               EXT. WINDOW - NIGHT

               She cries softly, and she whispers the name of the great 


               A mounted knight stands motionless at the edge of the forest, 
               his armor gleaming with dark lustre. It is Lancelot. His 
               eyes are raised to the high window, where he sees Guenevere. 
               He watches her in silence. In the high window Guenevere draws 
               the curtain and Lancelot reins back into the forest.

               EXT. FOREST - NIGHT

               Lancelot has unsaddled and tethered his horse in a small 
               clearing. He sits, resting back against a tree. He removes 
               his helmet; he plants his sword before him, like a cross. He 
               loosens the ties of his breastplate. He waits for day, 
               yawning, tired. But his eyes burn, and he closes them and 
               nods off to sleep.

               A knight appears silently hovering over him. Lancelot looks 
               up, and his eyes go wide with fear. The knight towering above 
               him wears armor identical to his, and he raises his sword, 
               and the blade is descending upon Lancelot. Lancelot draws 
               his sword from the ground and rolls away, but the knight's 
               sword slices through his shoulder joint. Lancelot attempts 
               to rise but already the knight, Lancelot's mirror image, is 
               upon him. From the ground, Lancelot parries the blow and 
               slashes at the opponent's knee, cutting through the joint in 
               the armor and severing the leg.

               The knight doesn't fall, doesn't bleed, doesn't cry out. On 
               one leg he comes forward, a horror. Lancelot is paralyzed by 
               fear. As the knight leaps upon Lancelot, Lancelot rises to 
               meet him, impaling himself on the knight's sword below the 
               hauberk. He throws the knight to the ground, and comes down 
               upon him. He rips off the helmet and the breastplate. The 
               armor is empty and Lancelot rolls over on his back, awakening 
               from the nightmare with his own sword deep in his stomach, 
               and in his hand his own helmet and breastplate, while other 
               parts of his armor lie strewn around him.

               Only then does he become conscious of the terrible pain and 
               the shock of the truth. He grabs the hilt of his sword and 
               draws it from his stomach. He curls up in agony, clutching a 
               fistful of leaves to the wound.

                         Guenevere, I fight against myself...

               He loses consciousness.


               The Bishop blesses the field. Guenevere, numb and 
               disbelieving, is being led to the stake, which rises from a 
               bed of straw and wood. Arthur watches, in shock. Other knights 
               and ladies keep their distance, watching darkly, stealing 
               glances at Arthur, mumbling disapproval of his refusing to 
               defend Guenevere. In battle dress, Sir Gawain rides up and 
               down the jousting run on a snorting and powerful horse, 
               practicing. Perceval, in a mail doublet, waits beside a mangy 
               roan, his face burning with anxiety.

               Guenevere is tied to the stake. All eyes watch for the 
               approach of her champion. Arthur goes to Perceval.

                         Is he coming?

                         He heard Lady Guenevere's request 
                         and he said nothing. That is all.

               Arthur hides his pain behind a rigid mask.

               EXT. JOUSTING GROUND - DAY

               The sun has risen shining cruelly into Guenevere's eyes; the 
               queen is alone at the stake. Sir Gawain rides up to King 
               Arthur, who waits alone, separated from the others.

                                     SIR GAWAIN
                         My Lord, the sun is upon the field. 
                         The Queen has no champion. I demand 
                         justice, as is my right.

                         So it is.

               Perceval leaps onto his horse.

                         Let me champion the Queen!

               Sir Gawain looks at the squire with contempt.

                                     SIR GAWAIN
                              (to Arthur)
                         Since no knight comes forward, I 
                         demand justice--

               Arthur is in anguish. He searches the tree line for a sign 
               of Lancelot. He looks from Guenevere at the stake to his own 
               knights watching him. He draws Excalibur. A gasp goes through 
               the crowd of onlookers.

                         Boy, kneel.

               Perceval leaps from his horse and bends his knee before the 
               King. Arthur brings the sword down on the boy's shoulder, 
               giving him the three strokes.

                         In the name of God, of St. Michael, 
                         and St. George, I make you a knight. 
                         Rise, Sir...


               Gawain shakes his head disdainfully as Perceval mounts back 
               into the saddle, his eyes burning with fervor.

               Sir Gawain and Perceval ride to opposite ends of the field. 
               The spectators fall silent, all staring blankly, their senses 
               dulled by the tragedy, at the uneven combatants.

               A cry goes up. Lancelot rides out of the forest. He rides up 
               to the King and salutes him. Arthur smiles at his old friend, 
               tears of joy in his eyes. Lancelot bows toward Guenevere and 
               rides on to where Perceval waits.

               Lancelot reaches out to touch Perceval's cheek.

                         It's my task to prove the Queen's 

               Perceval cannot reply, his eyes affixed on the blood that 
               trickles from Lancelot's hauberk. Lancelot raises his lance 
               in salute to Gawain across the field. Gawain salutes in 

               The two huge knights charge at each other, each man's spear 
               tip making contact with the other's armor, and in the violent 
               collision both are unhorsed. Lancelot is slower at getting 
               to his feet and drawing his sword.

               He is bleeding below the hauberk from his self-inflicted 

               In the first onslaught Lancelot fights defensively, falling 
               back. He has to toss aside his shield and hold his stomach 
               with his shield hand.

               Morgana watches with Merlin. Every terrible blow of sword on 
               sword reverberates through her body pleasurable. Merlin is 
               captivated by her cruel sensuality.


               They swing and thrust at each other with slower but bone-
               crushing force, both unsteady now. Blood seeps from Lancelot's 
               feet, leaving awful footprints on the earth. Finally, with a 
               daring thrust, Lancelot lifts Gawain's visor and the sword 
               tip is before his eyes. Gawain drops his sword and shield, 
               kneels and speaks in a voice hoarse with weariness.

                                     SIR GAWAIN
                         The Queen is innocent. I yield to 
                         your mercy, Sir Lancelot.

               Lancelot collapses in a dead faint.

               INT. CELL, CAMELOT - EVENING

               Eyes closed, Lancelot lies on a bed, naked but for a cloth 
               across his loins. His minor wounds have been dressed, and 
               Merlin is kneading the huge gash in his stomach, working the 
               severed flesh together. Guenevere stands on one side of the 
               bed, Arthur on the other, both looking down upon Lancelot, 
               relieved and not daring to look at each other.

                         Flesh on flesh. You must press on 
                         the wound, Guenevere, hold it, and 
                         it will begin to bind.

               Guenevere kneels, and at her touch Lancelot's eyes flicker 
               open. Merlin exits, and draws Arthur away with him.

               Arthur is deeply tormented.

                         Merlin, tell me. Now that Guenevere 
                         is returned to me...

                         What is it my child?

               Merlin appears moved by the predicaments that Arthur has to 

                         Will I have a son?

               Merlin stares off into the evening sky, where a lark sings 
               high up.


                         Just yes? No mad laughter, no riddles, 
                         nothing but a simple yes? That 
                         frightens me.

                         A king should be afraid, always. The 
                         enemy is everywhere. Waiting in ambush 
                         in the dark corridors of his castle, 
                         on the deer paths of his forest, or 
                         in the gray and winding paths of a 
                         more tangled forest, in here.

               He taps his skull and smiles.

               INT. CELL - EVENING

               Lancelot is staring into Guenevere's eyes. She opens her 
               shift, baring a breast with the innocence of a mother 
               preparing to suckle a child. She presses her breast to his 
               wound, her face to his chest, her arms enfolding him. She 

                         Flesh on flesh. I will heal you.

               His body trembles and his eyes brim with tears. He is lost.


               The court is assembled, for the evening feast. There is music 
               and heavy drinking. Some knights are slouched across the 
               table. Lancelot, still weak, takes his seat, looking at the 
               drunken and frivolous knights. Arthur catches it, and they 
               smile at each other.

                         They miss the battlefield. I think 
                         we do too.

                         But one can still keep a sword sharp 
                         riding out in the name of the King's 

               Guenevere cannot tear her eyes from Lancelot. He avoids her 
               look. Arthur looks from Guenevere to Lancelot, and speaks 
               softly to him, across her, and with stabbing directness.

                         It is not easy for the young ones to 
                         learn knightly virtues without the 
                         hard teaching of war and quest. It 
                         is only your example, Lancelot, that 
                         binds them now.

               Then, addressing the hall:

                         Which is the greatest quality of 
                         knighthood? Courage? Compassion? 
                         Loyalty? Humility? What do you say, 

               He is bent close to Morgana, whispering. Only when the hall 
               rings with laughter does he look up.

                              (then seeing he has 
                              an audience)
                         The greatest? They blend together 
                         like the metals we mix to make a 
                         good sword.

                         I didn't ask for poetry. Which is 

               Merlin looks from Arthur to Guenevere to Lancelot to Arthur.

                         All right. Truth. It must be truth, 
                         above all. When a man lies he murders 
                         some part of the world.

               An uneasy silence falls upon the feast. Guenevere and Lancelot 
               cannot look at each other, and Arthur feels it. Lancelot 
               jumps to his feet.

                         Conversation and court life don't 
                         suit me. I must take my rest in the 

               Guenevere stifles her dismay.

                         Hasn't Merlin mended your wound?

                         It is deep...

               Arthur is about to rise to embrace him, but checks himself.

                         You will be sorely missed. Heal 
                         yourself and come back.

               The exchange has become closely intimate, even though they 
               stand apart and speak before everyone in the large hall. 
               Lancelot leaves. Only Guenevere cannot watch.

               EXT. FOREST GLADE -DAY

               Water gurgles from a rock that is captive in the roots of an 
               ancient oak. Lancelot, in armor, reclines against its trunk, 
               the roots cradling him. He is perfectly still, drawing life 
               from the vibrant, all-enfolding forest.

               Flower petals drift on the breeze. Trees sigh. Fox and rabbit, 
               sparrow and hawk, at peace with each other, watch over the 

               EXT. FOREST -DAY

               A horse and rider tear through the thick undergrowth. It is 
               Guenevere. The forest races past her as she gallops toward 
               the glade, brambles tearing at her flesh and clothes.

               EXT. FOREST GLADE - DAY

               Lancelot gets to his feet, tense. Guenevere dismounts and 
               approaches. She is flushed and breathless from the wild race. 
               Her horse, left free, wanders over to his and grazes beside 

                         Why? You will destroy Arthur, and 

               She moves closer and he thrusts out his mailed fist to keep 
               her away. She clutches it and presses the metal to her soft 
               tear-streaked cheek.

                         The law forbids it.

                         Love demands it.

               Hungry with passion, she embraces the cold unmoving armor, 
               kissing it.

                         There are things about love--


               He steps back, drawing his sword. He holds it up by the blade 
               between them.

                         By my knight's sword, I swore faith--

               And before he can finish she grabs the blade to push it aside. 
               He holds it fast. Blood streams from her bare hands. He cannot 
               prevail without cutting them deeply. He lets go of the sword, 
               and she lets it fall to the ground.

               She embraces his still and defeated hulk. She kisses the 
               metal, and sensation shoots through him, dizzying him.


               He folds her in his arm, and their bodies lock together as 
               though a trap had sprung. Their mouths meet, each devouring 
               the other...


               Arthur and Merlin, the King desperate, the Wizard overwhelmed 
               by compassion:

                         I am alone and betrayed. By my wife, 
                         by my beloved friend, by my knights. 
                         And by you. Perhaps most of all by 
                         you. For you made me, you forged 
                         this wretched life. And like a child 
                         tired of a toy, you toss me aside, a 
                         babbling lecher trotting after my 

                         That is my destiny. I have a destiny, 

                         With all your powers, you are content 
                         to be ridiculed, laughed at...

                         My powers fade, Arthur. I resort to 
                         cheap tricks...
                              (with sudden enthusiasm)
                         Yes! I enjoy every moment of my 
                         foolishness, I join in the making of 
                         it, so no one can betray me. But 
                         you! You betray yourself.

                         Me? I have lived by the oath of king 
                         and knight.

                         You betray the boy who drew the sword, 
                         the boy who saw the Dragon... the 
                         Dragon who moves close by, coiling 
                         and uncoiling, restless, looking 
                         down, waiting for the King to be a 

               Arthur looks up and in the rolling clouds maybe, just maybe, 
               the form of a dragon is taking shape. Arthur draws Excalibur, 
               intensity animating his dead features.

                         I must do it myself. I must kill 
                         them both. Lancelot and Guenevere. 
                         Will you ride with me, Merlin?

                         I cannot. I must not. Here I must 

               They embrace. Merlin is on the verge of tears, his face 
               immediately sad and finally ancient. Arthur exits.

               Morgana, who has been watching from the shadows, watching 
               from the shadows, slinks up to Merlin's side.

                         Crazy old fool. You think yourself a 
                         kingmaker. Ha! A meddler, more likely. 
                         Look what a mess you've made of 

               Merlin smiles knowingly at her.

                         I? Perhaps, perhaps. I'm losing 
                         interest, Morgana... I have helped 
                         men--or meddled in their affairs, if 
                         you would have it that way--since 
                         the dawn of time. Now let them live 
                         by their own laws. Let them stand on 
                         their own feet. The gods of once are 
                         gone forever, it is time for men... 
                         Morgana, make a man out of me. Kiss 

               He reaches to touch her lips. She cradles his hand in hers 
               and doesn't allow Merlin to kiss her. She kisses his knuckles 
               and stares into his eyes, stoking his desire.

                         You know what I want. I want the 
                         secret of true magic, how to thicken 
                         the stuff of dreams and wishes with 
                         the flesh of the world.

                         That I cannot.

               She breaks away, provocative, alluring.

                         Then I will not.

               EXT. FOREST - NIGHT

               Arthur and Sir Kay gallop through the forest, silently. It 
               is not a dream.  Their armor and the hooves of their horses 
               are muffled with pieces of cloth.

               EXT. FOREST GLADE - NIGHT

               Only Nature will ever see their love; the creatures of the 
               air, tree and ground witness the final reality of their 
               passion and sense its unfathomable depths, singing of it in 
               a hundred languages. Lancelot and Guenevere are naked and 
               interlocked, one being, suspended in the darkness in the eye 
               of the forest.

               EXT. FOREST - NIGHT

               Arthur walks soundlessly through the trees, approaching the 
               glade. The forest falls suddenly silent.

               EXT. FOREST GLADE - NIGHT

               All passion spent, locked in each other's arms, Lancelot and 
               Guenevere drift off into sleep.

               Arthur comes upon them. He stands over them. He draws 
               Excalibur. Checking all emotion, he holds it above his head. 
               The ancient steel glows darkly.

               The lovers faces are serene and innocently beautiful. He 
               hesitates, tormented. His mask of anguish gives way to 
               determination and calm. He strikes the sword home, letting 
               go of it.

               He backs away, turns and disappears into the forest.

               EXT. FOREST GLADE - DAWN

               The sky is red; so is the steel of Excalibur. Lancelot awakens 
               and starts at what he sees. His cry stirs Guenevere. They 
               are horrified to see Excalibur impaled in the ground between 
               their entwined bodies. It has pierced their union without 
               grazing their flesh. They leap up and back away, unable to 
               speak at first.

                         Why didn't he kill us?

                         He has given up.

               She kneels before the sword, embracing the hilt to her breast.

                         The King without his sword, the land 
                         without a king...

                         We are to blame.

               Lancelot stumbles into the forest, berserk with guilt. He 
               rages against a small tree, crying out, and he rips its roots 
               from the ground, the terrible tearing and renting the symbol 
               of his own inner torment.

               Guenevere sinks to the ground next to Lancelot's empty armor 
               and his abandoned sword.


               Merlin and Morgana descend winding steps cut out of rock. 
               The only light comes from the glow of Merlin's staff.

                         When Arthur built the castle, I carved 
                         out a place for myself, where I could 
                         laugh or sleep, and no one would 
                         bother me.

                         People make you laugh?

               He laughs.

                         They do.


               He leans close to her ear, whispering into it.

                         They don't know how close they live 
                         to the edge of delight or disas...

               He is about to kiss her when he slips. He laughs.

                         Happiness or horror.


               They pass through jaws of stalactites and stalagmites. Merlin 
               cracks his staff whip-like and a ball of fire billows up 
               from the tip and illuminates a cave wildly veined and 
               filigreed with minerals and crusted with growths of crystals. 
               The light goes out but the malachite and the gold, the quartz, 
               diamond and beryllium burn dully. He turns to her, suddenly 
               tall and unstooped, younger, sleek and evil.

                         In the folds of the earth where the 
                         forces that hold the world together 
                         are more alive, my power is strongest. 
                         Here I will possess you, as a man 
                         possesses a woman. And the god, the 
                         eunuch, the mule that I was, will be 
                         no more.

               He sweeps her up into his arms.

                         You are truly magnificent!

                         Flattery! Do you think I am ignorant 
                         of your stupid little games? Preying 
                         on you weakness of others. That's 
                         your power, a petty evil. Mine is 
                         great. Great plans. Impossible dreams. 
                         Laughable endings...

               He deposits her on bare rock. He kisses her. She pushes him 

                         Merlin, the powers of Summoning, the 
                         true Name of the charms of Doing and 
                         Undoing. Show me!

                         I won't. You would misuse such power. 
                         I have paid enough for you, and I 
                         will have you.

               She leans forward and kisses his ear and whispers.

                         Make magic, my foolish wizard. For 
                         our love. Weave a marvelous room 
                         around us, a room worthy of our 

               She draws closer, kissing him deeply. He breathes heavily.

                         What do you want? You must desire it 
                         for me to weave it.

                         Walls of shining crystals, burning 
                         with red fire, furnishings of metals 
                         and jewels never seen by man...

               Morgana falls silent as Merlin raises a hand, majestically 
               intoning a harsh repetitive charm. The mineral veins of the 
               cave begin to glow and fog seeps out from them enveloping 
               the couple.

                         Desire it and it will be as you 

               Morgana burns with intensity. Merlin utters a formula and 
               the fog coalesces around them into the shimmering presence 
               of crystal walls, fountains raining jewels, flowers made of 
               scented air, a bed of glass shot with light and covered with 
               skins of animals dead before the time of man, goblets of 
               ruby, tapestries woven of golden hair. She reaches out to 
               touch the wall and her hand plunges through the unmaterialized 

                         It's only a semblance. You disappoint 

               She begins lacing up her loosened gown.

                         Don't touch the walls. Come close to 

               She does, a mad hope in her eyes. She kisses his chest.

                         Do it, Merlin, the deepest secret. 
                         Fix it with the charm of Making, for 
                         our endless pleasure.

               He utters the ancient charm, Morgana listening closely, 
               memorizing it. The illusion is all of a sudden solid.

                         For you...

               She runs her hand across the hard crystal surface, her eyes 

               From outside the wondrous room they can be seen to embrace. 
               He carries her to the magical bed where he makes love to 
               her, as they disappear from view in its effulgent light.

               She comes out through the crystal door, burning with evil 
               intent. She turns to watch him asleep in the bed.

               She utters the charm of Summoning learnt from Merlin, and 
               the room melts into an eddying carmine fog. Within it, Merlin 
               struggles to awaken from the torpor of love, alarmed.

               Outside, Morgana utters the charm of Making and the gaseous 
               mass begins to crystallize.

               Inside, Merlin is rising to his feet, breathing the red fog, 
               his movements slowing to a standstill, his mouth opening in 
               a scream of horror.

               The cloud has metamorphosed into a magnificent cluster of 
               red crystals.  Morgana peers into its facets and there she 
               sees, in fragments, Merlin's terror... an eye, the gaping 
               mouth, a clawing hand--as he is entombed in the stone. She 
               laughs in triumph.

               EXT. FOREST - CAMELOT - DAY

               Surrounded by forest, the spires and battlements of Camelot 
               rise under black storm clouds. Arthur and Kay ride back to 
               the castle.


               The great hall is in gloom. Few knights are in attendance at 
               the table.

               Some sleep off last night's wine. Arthur approaches, haggard, 

                         Has no one seen Merlin?

               Knights look up; those who meet Arthur's reddened eyes shake 
               their heads.

               Arthur leaves. A knight whispers to another.

                         Did you see? The King was without 


               Echoing in the vaulted corridors outside the hall, the 
               knight's whisper stabs Arthur.

               The words now seem borne on the whistling wind and follow 
               the King wherever he goes in search of Merlin. He comes upon 
               a knight seducing a lady in a dark corner by the chapel door, 
               his hand under her gown. Arthur notes the sacrilege in 
               silence, and continues on his way.

               INT. BEDCHAMBER - DAY

               The wind keens. Thunder rolls overhead. Arthur enters his 
               bedchamber. He sits by the empty fireplace, a broken man. 
               Feminine hands light on his shoulders. He starts. He looks 
               up. It is Morgana. He smiles and grasps her hand.

                         I'll weep for you, brother, for a 
                         King must not weep.

               She comes around and she kneels in front of him. Before he 
               can talk she silences him with a tender caress.

                         Do you know what Guenevere's maids 
                         have whispered?

               He shakes his head.

                         That when the King returned from 

               She begins untying the laces of his metal thigh and shin 

                         ...Guenevere would unlace his armor 
                         and massage the burns where metal 
                         rubbed on flesh...

               She is stripping his legs naked, gently touching the flesh 
               with her fingertips. He stares off, remembering.

                         ...She would prepare a bath for you, 
                         mixing special ointment in the 

               Arthur's eyes brim with tears. Morgana weeps, embracing his 
               knees. He rests his hand gently upon her head, choked with 
               remembrance, soothing her. But as she weeps, she incants a 

               Arthur looks down upon her, and the woman who looks up at 
               him is Guenevere, a Guenevere with cold ice eyes. He is made 
               weak by desire and weakened further by magic. He holds her 
               face adoringly.

                         Guenevere! You are--

                         --Don't speak. A thousand words, a 
                         hundred thousand words, would only 
                         be prologue to the truth that must 
                         be. That you, King, and I, your Queen, 
                         beget a son to bond our love and to 
                         strengthen our weak kingdom with a 
                         successor. Come, my lord...

               She draws him to the floor and upon her body, holding him 
               tightly to himself. Arthur trembles with excitement, pathetic 
               in his desperate passion.

               As he takes her, she shudders, losing control of the charm, 
               and her features change till once again "Guenevere" is 
               Morgana. She holds him in a tight embrace so that he may not 
               see her. She whispers in his ear.

                         The moon flows in my blood to meet 
                         your seed. And already I bear him 
                         who will be King.

               Arthur wrenches himself away so he can see her, her arms 
               still around his neck. He looks down upon her, aghast, 

                         I could easily kill you, brother. 
                         But I want you to live to see our 
                         son be King. In me, the blood of 
                         Cornwall will have its revenge; in 
                         me, the blood of Uther will show its 
                         dark side.

               She presses her thumbs into his neck and he faints.

               EXT. FOREST - CAMELOT - DAY

               Morgana, with a small party, rides away from the castle 
               through the lashing storm, till they are taken from sight in 
               the folds of the forest...


               Lightening forks across the sky, illuminating the interior. 
               The chapel has been transformed into a place of satanic 
               worship. Held up and surrounded by hooded figures, Morgana 
               lies on the altar, her pregnant belly huge; and her features 
               are fierce with passionate intensity. She writhes in the 
               pangs of childbirth.

                         Stand back, all of you. Through my 
                         own body I have nurtured him with my 
                         potions. I made him. I alone can 
                         give him life.

               INT. CHAPEL, CAMELOT - NIGHT

               Arthur enters, pale and haunted. Mass is being celebrated, 
               and some knights are present. Those not asleep whisper to 
               each other about the King. The sound of an approaching storm 
               is heard.

               As the priest raises the chalice to consecrate the wine. 
               Arthur comes down the aisle and steps onto the altar. He 
               reaches out to grasp the chalice from the priest's hands.


               Morgana holds aloft her beautiful newborn baby, his body 
               glistening in a flash of lightening. She is triumphant.

               INT. CHAPEL, CAMELOT - NIGHT.

               A bolt of lightening strikes the chalice, rocking the chapel, 
               and Arthur is knocked back violently.

               Rain lashes in through the shattered window upon the terrified 
               knights. They and the priest back away. Arthur is left alone. 
               He rises and goes to the chalice, which is bent and cracked. 
               He kneels before it. Steam hisses up as rain falls on it.


               Sun streams in. Many of the knights are in attendance, in 
               full armor.

               Ladies and pages watch from dark corners. Arthur addresses 
               the fellowship.

               He holds the cracked chalice in his hands. He burns with a 
               new-found fervor.

                         Who will ride the labyrinths of the 
                         forest, to the very root of his soul, 
                         to the very ends of the earth, to 
                         find the secret that will redeem us 
                         from the evil that has fallen upon 
                         us, and make this chalice, and 
                         ourselves, whole again?

               Gawain rises and draws his sword in salute.

                                     SIR GAWAIN
                         I will ride forth in the name of 
                         that quest, and commit my strength 
                         and my soul to it.

               Perceval, Kay and a few others draw their swords and touch 
               their lips to the blades in oath. Sunbeams splash off their 

                         I will go.

               The rest of the fellowship draw their swords in imitation, 
               but the resolution within them is not strong. Arthur comes 
               forward to Gawain.

                         Gawain, a dreadful fear is upon me, 
                         that we may never meet again, that 
                         the fellowship will be no more...

               He embraces Gawain, tears in his eyes. He turns to Perceval, 
               and Perceval kneels.

                         We will find the secret or die.

               Arthur kisses the young knight's brow. Then he turns to Kay.

                         Kay, I know your heart yearns to go, 
                         but I am prisoner to my duties, and 
                         you must be to yours, at my side.

               Arthur and Kay watch the knights file out till the hall is 
               empty, the harsh song of their armor growing distant.

                                                                  FADE OUT:

               A LEGEND APPEARS:

               "For nine years they searched. Morgana's power grew in the 

               FADE IN:

               EXT. SNOWSCAPE - DAY

               Under a leaden sky, Gawain drives his horse through swirling 
               snow. He comes upon a mounted knight who is frozen in his 
               tracks. He brushes the snow from the man's face. The frozen 
               features belong to Caradoc. He slowly continues on his way.

               EXT. DEAD FOREST - DAY

               Dangling from the branches of a dead tree are a dozen dead 
               knights of the Round Table, crows pecking at the rotting 
               flesh in the chinks of armor. Perceval rides up, cries out 
               in horror, and spurs his horse away.

               EXT. MOORS - DAY

               The rotting carcasses of sheep. The crops blackened and 
               withered on the stalk. Hungry peasants head for a distant 

               EXT, HILLSIDE, MOORS - DAY

               A giant head has been carved out of an outcrop of rock, its 
               stone mouth gaping toward the sky.

               People are congregated around the mouth. Peasants and farmers, 
               they are wild with excitement, responding to drums throbbing 
               and bagpipes wailing.

               They watch Morgana, who is surrounded by knights in dark 
               armor. At her side is an angelic boy of eight, his eyes cold 
               as his mother's. Morgana is more beautiful than ever, in 
               flowing druidic robes, the gossamer silk clinging to her 
               sweat-drenched body.

               She is standing by the deep hole which forms the giant's 
               open mouth. It is covered by a tooth-like grating acting as 
               a drain for the blood of human sacrifices made there. Before 
               her is Gawain, chained and struggling against five strong 
               men who hold him. Morgana lifts a dagger and plunges it into 
               Gawain's chest. The fountain of blood that gushes from the 
               great knight's body drives the crowd into a frenzy.

                         The blood of this knight will feed 
                         the god in the earth, he is weak 
                         with hunger, and he will be made 
                         strong by this blood. Then he will 
                         plant his seed, and the land will be 
                         fertile once again.

               Gawain, his blood flowing from him and into the giant's mouth, 
               looks up in anguish. His bellowing voice is echoed and 
               amplified by the hollow beneath the drain.

                         Arthur, forgive me. I die without 
                         the secret. I have failed.

               EXT. MOORS - DAY

               Gawain's death cry and the din of the ritual carries to 
               Perceval's ears as he wanders through the wasteland. He draws 
               down his visor and spurs his horse forward.

               EXT. HILLSIDE, MOORS - DAY

               He gallops toward the giant's head. He checks his sword and 
               lowers his lance.

               The knight charging forward on his war horse is an awesome 
               sight, but the crowd around the giant's mouth is strangely 
               unfrightened. Morgana is excited; she turns to the boy.

                         Look, Mordred, a true prize for the 
                         giant. The lamb rides into our jaws.

               Perceval is galloping toward them when the ground gives way 
               beneath the horse, and he and the animal plunge into a pit. 
               The cheering crowd rushes to the edge of the trap.

                              (to Mordred)
                         You must kill him, for this knight 
                         is dear to your father. You must do 
                         it and learn to enjoy your father's 

               Her knights drag Perceval, unarmed, into Morgana's presence.

                         Have you found what you search for? 
                         Have you found what Arthur seeks?

               Perceval doesn't answer, defiant and hiding his fear.

                         You haven't, or you would be smiling 
                         now in the face of death. Your quest 
                         is an impossible one.

                         That it might be impossible makes it 
                         all the more necessary.

                              (to the men holding 
                         Uncover him. I'll show you the mystery 
                         of life. It's death...
                              (to Mordred)
                         Do it, Mordred!

               Holding Perceval by his limbs and hair, the men force him 
               down on the bloody grating, drawing back his head, exposing 
               his throat. Morgana kneels by his head, and draws the boy 
               beside her. She holds the tip of the dagger to Perceval's 
               neck and takes Mordred's hand and wraps it around the handle.  
               Perceval is choked with fear, his heart pounding in his 

                         Feel the life through the dagger, 
                         child. It belongs to you.

               The boy looks up at his mother. The vein in Perceval's neck 
               pushes against the dagger's point.

                         I feel it, Mother. I will give his 
                         blood to the giant.

               The boy raises the dagger, and hesitates just a bit. Perceval 
               resigns himself bravely. He looks the child calmly in the 
               eye. Mordred brings down the blade without strength, just 
               piercing the skin with the tip. He lets go of the dagger, 
               afraid now of his mistake.

               The dagger clatters to the grating and slips away down the 
               drain, before Morgana can retrieve it. She rages against 
               Mordred. In the confusion, Perceval tears loose, the men 
               holding him slipping on the blood-wet stone.

               Perceval runs through the crowd. Immediately, lance lowered, 
               a knight is upon him. Perceval leaps toward him, catching 
               the lance in his hand, and pulling down the rider with it. 
               He jumps the rider and draws the knight's sword. Whirling 
               the lance and cutting the air with the sword, he keeps back 
               the other knights for a moment, giving him time to see his 
               chance. He leaps onto the riderless horse and charges off 
               through the crowd. He reins in abruptly, the horse rearing. 
               He is wary of the ground before him; there could be a hidden 
               pit. But there is no time to think. Knights and men on foot 
               are rushing him. He spurs forward into a gallop, the horse 
               striding mightily And its hind leg sinks into a pit, the 
               animal losing its gait. But the momentum carries the horse 
               forward, and it recovers from the stumble.

               Perceval gallops away.

               Morgana is enraged. She shakes Mordred by the hair.

                         You didn't kill him! You didn't kill 

               But suddenly she begins kissing him tenderly.

                         My dear, sweet boy...

               He just stands there emotionless, the dead center of her 
               turbulent passions.

               EXT. DEAD FOREST - DAY

               Perceval gallops down a trail. The black-armored knights of 
               Morgana chase him.

               Perceval reins into deep cover alongside the trail. The 
               pursuers thunder past and the sound of hooves recedes. 
               Perceval checks his newly found sword, slashes the air to 
               feel the weapon's balance. He re-sheathes it. He pats the 

                         We'll become good friends.

               He starts off again, into the patchless forest of dead trees.

               He is suddenly set upon by a wildman who, swinging a small 
               uprooted tree, knocks him off his horse. Perceval crashes to 
               the ground and before he can use his sword the wildman has 
               knocked it out of his hand.

               It is Lancelot, demented, who furiously rains battering blows 
               on Perceval's armor, bellowing with rage. All that Perceval 
               can do is attempt to avoid the blows. Lancelot addresses 
               Perceval as if the young knight were Lancelot himself.

                         Where are you going, Lancelot, in 
                         your iron tomb? Still trying to save 
                         the world?
                              (He hammers blows 
                              into Perceval's armor)
                         The best... the bravest... the 
                         greatest... fool that ever lived. 
                         Now the world rots. Death is king of 
                         the earth. And it is you who make it 
                         so, Lancelot.

               Before Perceval can speak, Lancelot disappears again into 
               the forest, his eyes blank, as though his encounter with the 
               young knight had never happened.

               A knot of pain, Perceval pulls himself up. He tries to rise 
               into the saddle. He is too hurt to do it. He starts off on 
               foot, slowly, leading the horse.


               It is very dark and Perceval has to feel his way.

               He comes to the edge of a stream. He kneels to drink, and 
               the horse drinks beside him. Then he rests back on his heels, 
               brooding, too tired to rise.

               He lowers his eyes, staring into the dark water, defeated, 

               Before him in the water a long thin bar of light appears. He 
               looks at it amazed. Voices are heard singing very far away. 
               He reaches out to touch the long strip of light but his hand 
               just disturbs the water. It is a reflection. The strip grows 
               wider and the ethereal music is closer.

               Perceval looks up. The strip of light is before him, 
               suspended, thirty feet above. It continues to grow wider. A 
               drawbridge is being slowly lowered, allowing a powerful light 
               to escape from within.

               Perceval is terrified. In pain, he slowly rises into the 
               saddle, ready to gallop off; but fascinated, hypnotized by 
               the sight, he cannot, and he stays and watches.

               The dim outline of a castle becomes visible as the drawbridge 
               is lowered across the water to the ground at his feet. At 
               the center of the blast of light coming from the castle, 
               Perceval can make out a burning chalice. The music swells to 
               a terrifying pitch, searing the forest.


               At the sight of the chalice, Perceval masters his fear. Bathed 
               in light and music, he spurs the horse forward onto the 

               Once he is on it, the bridge begins to rise. Unsure of its 
               footing and blinded by the light, the horse becomes skittish, 
               and Perceval has to struggle to control it. He dismounts to 
               lead it, but the horse is terrified, rears up and jumps off 
               the bridge, which continues to rise, drawn up by unseen hands.

               Perceval hesitates, then advances down the sloping drawbridge 
               into the castle courtyard. All details are bleached out by 
               the blinding light. The chalice appears suspended in space, 
               and now the figure of a man can be glimpsed standing behind 

               Enchanting music from unseen singers grows and weaves. 
               Perceval looks back to see the drawbridge slowly closing, 
               trapping him inside.

               He approaches the figure, his courage ebbing. Hands cupping 
               the chalice, it speaks to him.

                         What is the secret of the chalice? 
                         Who does it serve?

               Perceval doesn't understand. He glances back again. The 
               drawbridge is nearly closed. Terror seizes him.

               Panicked, puzzled, baffled, he backs away. He scrambles up 
               the drawbridge desperate to reach the top before it closes. 
               He claws his way up till his hand grasps the top. He heaves 
               himself through the narrow closing slit which is about to 
               crush him. He screams, and with a final effort he wriggles 
               free and topples over crashing into the water below.


               He looks up. The drawbridge thunders shut, the last thin 
               strip of light disappearing; and now he is surrounded only 
               by the silence of the forest.

               Where there was a castle, now there is darkness. Perceval 
               wades through the water. He has crossed the stream and all 
               he can see and feel are tree trunks. The castle has 
               disappeared. He is utterly defeated.

                         The chalice. The secret was in my 
                         grasp. I let it slip, afraid for 
                         myself. A question was asked. I didn't 
                         understand. I didn't try. I failed...

                                                                  FADE OUT:

               A LEGEND APPEARS:

               "Nine years passed."

               FADE IN:


               Dripping water is steadily encrusting the crystal with 


               Dead knights lay on biers. The once glorious seat of power 
               is falling into decay. Few are in attendance around the table. 
               Agitated, Kay enters and goes to Arthur, who is worn and 
               haggard, and aged.

                         Your son Mordred is at the gate.

               Arthur comes alive.

                         At last...

                         Don't recognize him. You were trapped 
                         by Morgana's sorcery.

                              (staring off)
                         ...Gawain and Perceval, Bors and 
                         Bohort, Caradoc and Ector, and all 
                         the others--lost to me. Only the 
                         echo of their voices remains in this 
                         empty hall. All I have left is the 
                         memory of their fellowship. Echoes 
                         and memories. I am a ghost of the 
                         King that once was...
                              (he turns to Kay and 
                              with sudden harshness)
                         ...Mordred is real, alive, my own 
                         flesh and blood. I will see him, I 


               The drawbridge lowers slowly, and Arthur moves away from Kay 
               and the other knights, and advances across it.

               Rooks wheel over the dead trees of the forest that surrounds 
               Camelot. A group of armed men waits at the edge of the forest. 
               One steps forward, a huge knight in black armor, the metal 
               defining and exaggerating the powerful musculature of his 
               body. He is Mordred, a young man of eighteen, and of 
               extraordinary beauty. A page follows ten steps behind him 
               bearing an enormous spear, its points hooded. Arthur stops 
               at the edge of the drawbridge, the huge knight a few steps 
               from him. Kay, ready for anything, moves halfway across the 

               Mordred kneels on one knee.


                         Rise, Mordred.

                         I have come to claim what is mine, 

                         I recognize you only as my son, no 

                              (his tone is scathing)
                         And you are the great King? The lords 
                         have rebelled. Invaders attack the 
                         coasts. Crops don't grow. There is 
                         nothing but plague and hunger in the 
                         land. Only I am feared. I will be 
                         king. You may have lost Excalibur, 
                         but I have found my own weapon of 
                         power. There.

               He points to the huge lance. The page pulls a string and the 
               hood drops, revealing a diabolically sharp spear tip, its 
               metal glinting menacingly.

                         The very spear that pierced the side 
                         of Christ as he died on the cross.

                         Your mother told you that?

               Mordred is thrown off by the doubt Arthur has cast. Arthur 
               looks upon his son, desperately trying to read him.

                         I cannot offer you the land, only my 

                         And I offer only this, Father. To 
                         commit with passion and pleasure all 
                         the evils that you failed to commit, 
                         as man and king.

               Arthur goes forward to embrace his son, a desperate attempt. 
               Mordred recoils.

                         We will embrace only in battle. 
                         Father, and I will touch you only 
                         with the blade of my spear.

               Arthur is on the verge of tears.

                         I will muster a great force of 
                         knights, and I will return to fight 
                         for what is mine.

                         So be it.

               He turns and re-enters the castle, the drawbridge pulled up 
               immediately behind him. He is hunched over, broken.

               EXT. BARREN LAND - EVENING

               Asleep in the saddle, Perceval rides across burnt and 
               smoldering fields. The horse walks aimlessly; it is the same 
               animal, mangy and old. A hoard of children in filthy rags 
               closes in on him, begging, pulling at the horse's trappings. 
               He bolts awake and reins away. His eyes are red and feverish.

               Wild hope grips him when he sees a glinting light by a 
               farmhouse. He spurs the horse forward into a gallop.

               EXT. FARM - EVENING

               He leaps from the saddle and a terrified woman backs away. 
               Perceval plunges his hand into the source of light. It is 
               nothing but the reflection of the dying sun in a bucketful 
               of water. Perceval covers his face.

                         Illusions. I will never find it 
                         again... I am sorry, woman, that I 
                         frightened you.

               Peasants have emerged, surrounding him, and they hold axes 
               and pitchforks.

                         Good woman, do you have any food? 
                         Some water?...

                         The little we had, we gave to 
                         Mordred's knights. He has taken this 
                         land. Tell the King that now we must 
                         look to Mordred.

                                     SECOND PEASANT
                         But we will give you some water...

               At least ten peasants encircle Perceval and he is too 
               exhausted to put up a fight. They grab him and carry him 
               away. Other peasants pull his horse to the ground, and one 
               raises and ax to kill it.


               They throw Perceval down an escarpment and he rolls into the 
               fast-moving water. He is swept downstream and thrown 
               ferociously against the rocks in the stream bed, crying out 
               in pain.


               The water is deeper and Perceval is dragged under by the 
               weight of his armor. He struggles desperately to shed it, 
               half drowning.

               Exhausted, he pulls himself up onto the muddy shore beside a 
               rotting sheep carcass, and around him, the daylight dies.

               EXT. RIVER - NIGHT

               Ragged and bruised, lifeless, he stares into space.

                         I have lost my horse, my armor, my 
                         sword. I have lost my way. I have 
                         lost my strength. I have lost 
                         everything... I will not lose hope.

               A light bursting through the trees shines on the mud, 
               wordless, harmonies sound somewhere in the forest. Perceval 
               sets off toward the source.

               The burning light blasts into his face but he doesn't flinch. 
               The chorus builds in power. Before him, a drawbridge lowers.

               EXT. CASTLE GATE - NIGHT

               He steps onto the bridge and walks in. He crosses the 
               courtyard as the drawbridge closes behind him. All details 
               of the castle are bleached out by the searing light.

               EXT. CASTLE GATE - NIGHT

               He steps onto the bridge and walks in. He crosses the 
               courtyard as the drawbridge closes behind him. All details 
               of the castle are bleached out by the searing light.

               INT. CASTLE, VARIOUS

               Heading for the source of the light he ascends what seem to 
               be a staircase. He enters a hall where the chalice stands 
               suspended, burning with light, and the mysterious music swirls 
               and grows.

               Perceval approaches the diaphanous and featureless Figure 
               who stands over the chalice.

                         Who does it serve?

                         You, my lord.

                         I have waited long for you. Once you 
                         almost saw, but fear blinded you. 
                         Why am I served from the chalice?

                         Because you and the land are one.

                         I am wasting away and I cannot die. 
                         And I cannot live.

                         You and the land are one. Drink from 
                         the chalice. You will be reborn and 
                         the land with you.

               Perceval cups his hands around the chalice to lift it. But 
               they close on nothing, and he draws back. The Figure's hands, 
               although insubstantial, grasp Perceval's and appear to hold 
               his hands around the cup.

                         But who am I?

               Perceval begins to kneel.

                         You are my lord and King. You are 

               The blinding light vanishes, the music drifts away.


               Perceval falls to his knees before Arthur and he holds the 
               chalice, now whole again, up to the King. It fills with blood 
               from within and Arthur takes it from Perceval. He drinks. 
               And having done so, he seems to become younger and to grow 
               in strength.

                         I didn't know how empty was my soul 
                         until it was filled.

               Sir Kay stands by the vast fireplace where a small fire burns, 
               and only now looks up and is aware of Perceval.

                         Perceval, you have returned!

                         Ready my knights for battle; they 
                         will ride with their King once more. 
                         I have lived through others far too 
                         long! Lancelot carried my honor and 
                         Guenevere my guilt. My knights have 
                         fought my causes. Mordred carries my 
                         sins. Now, at last, I will rule.

               EXT. WOODS AND FIELDS - NIGHT

               Arthur at the head of a small force of knights, their armor 
               shining beneath the moon, gallops through the land. Where 
               hooves thunder, the ground becomes alive with sprouts and 
               tendrils, and bare trees start to bud, and grasses to blossom, 
               the power of Nature exploding into life.

               INT. CONVENT - DAWN

               An old nun approaches the doors, upon which someone is 
               pounding loudly. She opens the peephole. It is Arthur.

                         Go away. No man is allowed beyond 
                         these doors.

                         I am Arthur.

               The old nun is amazed and starts pushing open the many bolts, 
               mumbling and agitated.


               She leads the King, his footsteps ringing in the silent 
               cloister, past the doors to the cells. His armor is wet with 
               dew and it shines with a dull and deep luster. Nuns whisper 
               at his transit. She opens the door to a cell and Arthur steps 

               INT. CELL - DAWN

               Candles flicker on a small altar before which a nun is 
               praying. She turns to see who has entered. It is Guenevere, 
               older, thin with self-denial, all the more beautiful. She 
               looks up at the majestic figure who stands before her. She 
               nearly swoons. He helps her to her feet, and words rush from 
               deep within him.

                         Guenevere, accept my forgiveness, 
                         and put your heart to rest. We have 
                         suffered to long. I have always loved 
                         you, and I still love you.

               She weeps.

                         I loved you much, as King, and 
                         sometimes as husband, but one cannot 
                         gaze too long at the sun in the sky.

                         Forgive me, my wife, if you can. I 
                         was not born to live a man's life, 
                         but to be the stuff of future memory. 
                         The fellowship was a brief beginning, 
                         a fair time that cannot be forgotten; 
                         and because it will not be forgotten, 
                         that fair time may come again. Now 
                         once more I must ride with my knights 
                         to defend what was, and the dream of 
                         what could be.

                         I have kept it.

               She draws back the covers of her pallet, and there is 
               Excalibur. Arthur is overwhelmed by emotion; he can barely 

                         I never dared to hope all these years 
                         that it was in your keeping.

               He kneels before her and kisses her thigh. She gazes off, 
               remembering the life of long ago. He rises and looks off 
               into her eyes, unable to find the words; he finally does.

                         I have often thought that in the 
                         hereafter of our lives, when I owe 
                         no more to the future and can be 
                         just a man, that we may meet, and 
                         you will come to me and claim me as 
                         yours, and know that I am your 
                         husband. It is a dream I have...

               He takes Excalibur by the hilt and exits.


               The nuns scatter before him in awe and terror. He strides 
               forward, Excalibur in hand. He stops and tests its balance, 
               and he draws force from it.


               EXT. WOODS - DAY

               Excalibur gleams in the sunlight. Arthur holds it high, at 
               the head of a small force of knights under the banner of the 
               Dragons. Kay and Perceval ride at his side. Plumed helmets, 
               shields blazing with armorial colors, pennants flying in the 
               clean wind from their lances; it is a brave sight. The trees 
               are in blossom and dandelion fluff billows up at their 

               EXT. PIT, MOORS - DAY

               Arthur's group comes to a halt. Two knights and a few squires 
               galloping from the opposite direction rein in before the 
               King. The knights draw their swords in homage, and the older 
               one addresses Arthur.

                         It is only me and my son. All other 
                         knights of the dukedom have rallied 
                         to Mordred.

               Arthur smiles hiding the hurt. He points to an open pit, a 
               huge devastation.

                         What horror is that?

                         Mordred, sir. He digs for precious 
                         metals, with which he buys the loyalty 
                         of men at arms, binding them to his 


               It is a clear night and the sky blazes with stars. A crescent 
               moon casts its silvery light upon Arthur, who wanders from 
               his camp alone.


               He stops in the ancient circle of Druidic stones.

                         I am outnumbered ten to one by 
                         Mordred's forces. Merlin, I need you 
                         at my side as you were once, my 
                         friend, to give me courage. There 
                         are no war tricks that will fool 
                         Mordred. He was weaned on blood.

               He falls on his knees in front of the stone, tired, between 
               thinking and dreaming, and he bangs his mailed fist against 

                         More than I ever did, I need you 
                         now. Where are you, Merlin? Is it 
                         true that Morgana has trapped you?

               INT. CAVE BELOW CAMELOT

               The veins of crystal glow darkly, and the hammering of 
               Arthur's fist upon the stone is dimly echoed here. In the 
               red crystal, fragments of Merlin can be glimpsed, trapped, 


               Arthur slips off into sleep. The stones around him distort. 
               He speaks softly, but then though the words continue, his 
               lips are closed.

                         ...If only you could be at my side, 
                         Merlin, to see me wield Excalibur 
                         once more...

               INT. CAVE BELOW CAMELOT

               The crystal is cracking, shards falling to the cave floor.

               EXT. STONEHENGE - NIGHT

               Arthur is still on his knees, and he sits back, looking up. 
               But the atmosphere is different, within a dream, and the 
               stones of the henge loom larger over him now.

                         What is this place? It is rumored 
                         Merlin, that you drew your power 
                         from these circles...

               A hand ruffles the King's hair. He turns, and is face to 
               face with Merlin, standing over him. Arthur looks at him 
               without surprise, as though the intervening years never were. 
               Merlin begins to laugh his hideous giggle. Arthur rises.

                         Quiet. You'll wake the men, and they 
                         must fight tomorrow for their very 

                         I know. I have heard noises and echoes 
                         through the stones...

                         What is this place, Merlin?

                         It is like a tree. The roots of the 
                         stones spread out across the land 
                         and they draw on the thoughts and 
                         actions of men. Like sap those human 
                         matters course through the stones 
                         feeding the stars that are the leaves 
                         of the tree. And the stars whisper 
                         back to men the future course of 
                              (becoming passionate)
                         But the earth is being torn apart, 
                         its metals stolen, and the balance 
                         is broken and the lines of power no 
                         longer converge. In fact, I nearly 
                         didn't make it in one piece.

               He limps affectedly and stretches with exaggerated pain.

                         But, I'm here.

                         Where have you been these many years? 
                         Is it true that Morgana--

                         --Stories... You brought me back. 
                         Your love brought me back. Back to 
                         where you are now, in the land of 

                         Is this a dream? Tell me, Merlin!

               Merlin smiles, turns and leaves, heading for Arthur's camp, 
               giggling. Arthur starts off after him and awakens from the 
               dream when he walks into one of the stones. It takes him a 
               moment to realize that Merlin has vanished.


               He hurries away toward the camp.


               Arthur shakes Kay awake, and as the faithful knight comes 
               out of a deep sleep, he clutches Arthur's arm.

                         Merlin, will I live...?
                              (he shakes away the 
                         ...I was dreaming...

                         Of Merlin?

                         Yes. He spoke to me. He said I would 
                         fight bravely tomorrow. I have never 
                         dreamed of Merlin before.

                         I dreamed of him too... Merlin lives! 
                         He lives in our dreams now, in that 
                         dark and shadowy place that is as 
                         strong and real as this more solid 
                         one. He speaks to us from there.

               EXT. MORDRED'S WAR CAMP - NIGHT

               Cape flowing, Merlin sweeps between Mordred's war tents, and 
               in the logic of dreams, unseen by the guards. He passes a 
               tent where the huge shadow of Mordred is thrown on the canvas, 
               as he sharpens the blade of a fearsome spear.

               He enters a tent.

               INT. MORGANA'S TENT - NIGHT

               She is stunningly beautiful in her sleep. Merlin leans over 
               her lovely body, kisses her softly on the lips, and waits 
               for her to awaken.

                         I have returned, enchantress. You 
                         are beautiful, magnificent. Have you 
                         used up all the magic you stole from 
                         me to keep yourself young? Have you 
                         any magic left to do battle with 

               INT. TENT - MORGANA'S DREAM

               She rises from her sleeping body.

                         You provoke me, Merlin.

                         What's behind that beauty? A wizened, 
                         cold-hearted snake.

               Merlin steps back, grandiose and melodramatic.

                         You are a snake about to strike!

               He raises his staff.

                         And I am the staff that drives the 
                         snake back.

               He lowers the staff with dreamlike slowness and she slinks 
               right up to him.

                         Burning with the fire of desire, I 
                         am the flames that consume the staff 
                         to ashes.

               She winds her fluttering hands around the staff, and the 
               shadows they cast upon the tent give the illusion of licking 

                         I am the cloudburst that quenches 
                         the flames.

                         I am the desert, where water 

                         --I am the sea, which covers the 
                         desert forever under its weight.

                         --I am the fog and mists that rise 
                         up from the sea, escaping...

               She laughs at her cleverness.

                         Fog and mist! You couldn't be that. 
                         You don't have enough magic.

               INT. MORGANA'S TENT - NIGHT

               Morgana tosses and mutters in her tormented dream.

                         ...I have the desire and I have the 

               INT. TENT - MORGANA'S DREAM

               Merlin, huge, magnetic, enfolds Morgana in his cape.

                         You are mine at last. I am the sea 
                         and you will never escape me. Fog 
                         and Mist...!?

               And he laughs at her, suffocating her. Morgana begins chanting 
               the charm of Making, desperate--

               INT. MORGANA'S TENT - NIGHT

               --and she finishes uttering it in her sleep. Her eyes spring 
               open, and vapors issue from her gaping mouth. She screams 
               and the fog gushes out filling the tent.


               Fog billows out of the tent, spreading through the camp.

               INT. MORGANA'S TENT - NIGHT

                         A fog is rising, sir.

                         That cannot be.

               He rises and goes out with the lieutenant.

               EXT. MORDRED'S WAR CAMP - NIGHT

               It is fogbound, the campfires yellow smudges within it.

                              (to the lieutenant)
                         My mother has a sense for such things. 
                         She said there would be no fog.

               Mordred enters his mother's tent.

               INT. MORGANA'S TENT - NIGHT

               Mordred enters.


               Morgana, withered, old, lies dead in the bed, wisps of smoke 
               rising from within her ruptured body.

               EXT. MOORS BY THE SEA - FOG - DAWN

               Arthur, with Kay and Perceval, canters through the white 
               fog. They are flanked by a phalanx of knights in silver armor.

                         Kay, you will lead the attack. 
                         Perceval, you will stay with me.

               Kay draws his sword in salute, elated.

                         Be cautious, my brother.

               He spurs forward, while Arthur reins to a halt, watching him 
               disappear. Perceval and a few knights stay behind and surround 
               the King.

                         In this battle there is one thing I 
                         must do, that no one else can. Find 
                         Mordred and kill him.

               Ahead, the horrible din of joined battle.

               In the swirling fog, clash of arms follows clash of arms. 
               There is confusion, for each knight is unable to see if he 
               is fighting friend or foe until they are upon each other.

               The battle becomes a series of vicious duels, a knight in 
               silver armor against a knight in black-burnished armor, just 
               glimpsed in the fog that is alive with the clang of sword on 
               shield, the pounding of hooves, the cries of the dying.

               Squires drag away their wounded knights, their young faces 
               pale at the sight of the carnage.

               Kay is unhorsed but picks himself up and mounts a riderless 
               horse, rejoining the combat although he is bleeding.

               EXT. MOORS BY THE SEA - FOG - DAY

               It is full day, and the fog blinds with its painful glare. 
               Arthur with Perceval at his side rides through the fog, 
               searching. Perceval takes up a challenge against the King. 
               He unhorses this opponent, piercing him with his lance. He 
               returns to the King's side.

                         There are too many on Mordred's side. 
                         We cannot hold out much longer.

               Kay is glimpsed fighting on foot, hurt, barely holding his 
               own, but then the sight is hidden in the fog.

               Kay overcomes his opponent and stops to catch his breath. He 
               is amazed by what he sees. A knight, in old, battle-scarred 
               armor whose pieces don't match, cuts down the knights in 
               black in foray after foray, wheeling and turning in a 
               brilliant and ruthless spectacle of martial arts. He fights 
               without a shield, a lance in his left hand and sword in his 

               Kay moves away in search of Arthur.

               Arthur and Perceval watch the lone knight meting out death 
               with such terrible beauty, weaving in and out of the fog.

                         He can be no other.

                         Lancelot?... It is Lancelot!

               He spurs his horse forward to join him, but Perceval is quick 
               to stop him.

                         No, my lord. We seek Mordred.

                         I will join him.

               Kay rises onto a fresh horse and gallops away.

               EXT. MOORS BY THE SEA - FOG - LATE DAY

               Arthur and Perceval ride alone, the accompanying knights 
               gone, the dying and the dead and the crazed horses all around 

               Squires are carrying Kay upon his shield. He is dead. Arthur 
               leaps to the ground and reaches out to touch his face, and 
               closes his eyes. He stifles his tears.

                         Has anyone seen Lancelot?

                         He lies over there, sir.

               Arthur rushes off, Perceval following on horseback.

               Lancelot is mortally wounded, blood flowing from his abdomen, 
               his eyes open but his gaze dead. Arthur falls to his side.

                         Squire! Here!

               But there is no one now except the dead and wounded, and 
               Perceval, who dismounts to watch over the King, sword drawn. 
               Desperate, Arthur stops the wound with his hand. Lancelot's 
               eyes are sightless, but tears spill from them.


                         Lancelot, I will save you... Don't 

               He tears off a piece of his tunic and staunches the wound 
               with it.

                         My salvation is to die a Knight of 
                         the Round Table.

                         You are that and much more. You are 
                         its greatest knight, you are what is 
                         best in men. Now we will be together--

                         --It is the old wound, that has been 
                         opened. I have always known it would 
                         be the gateway to my death, for it 
                         has never healed. Let my heart do 
                         its job, my King, and pump me empty...

               Arthur takes Lancelot in his arms and rests his lips against 
               the knight's brow.

                              (a death whisper)
                         Guenevere, has she come to you, is 
                         she Queen again?

               He lies, closing his eyes, unable to look at Lancelot.

                         She is, Lancelot.

               A boyish smile settles over the features of Lancelot's face, 
               and he dies. Arthur holds him to his breast, his eyes shut 

               A strong wind rises. Perceval kneels beside Arthur.

                         The fog is lifting. Only we remain 

               EXT. MOORS BY THE SEA - EVENING

               Arthur and Perceval rise, and as far as they can see across 
               the green hills that roll down to the sea lies the aftermath 
               of the massacre. Hacked bodies, abandoned armor, steaming 
               horse carcasses, everything still. The murmur of the dying 
               is carried on the wind to the soft roar of the sea. The 
               squires have fled the scene of horror.

                         But for Mordred. Where is Mordred?

               Elsewhere on the battlefield, Mordred searches the dead, 
               accompanied only by his lieutenant, who turns over the bodies 
               of Arthur's knights.

                         Where is Arthur?

               One of Arthur's knights reaches out blindly for help. Mordred 
               crushes his skull underfoot. The shaft of his huge lance is 
               caked with blood, as are his hands.

               Arthur and Perceval see Mordred and his lieutenant, and the 
               King restrains Perceval from going forward.

                         No, Perceval. Now it is time for me 
                         to raise my sword.
                              (he bellows out)
                         Mordred, prepare to meet your death.

               Shield on his left arm, and Excalibur in his right, he starts 
               toward Mordred.

                         I wait for you, Father.

               Mordred advances forward, the huge spear in both hands and 
               parallel to the ground.

               Arthur goes straight for him, shield ready to receive the 
               blow. Mordred keeps walking, his arms now tensed back and 
               ready to strike.

               Once they are within weapon's reach of each other, Mordred 
               dashes forward and thrusts the spear. It glances off Arthur's 
               shield, slides under his hauberk and penetrates the King's 
               body, and so powerful was the blow that the blade pierces 
               him right through.

               Mortally wounded, Arthur's scream of pain becomes a horrible 
               war cry, and he drives himself forward with all the strength 
               he has along the spear shaft almost to Mordred's hands. 
               Mordred is knocked back and to the ground and Arthur presses 
               down on him, the butt of the spear pinning Mordred. Arthur 
               lifts Excalibur. Mordred attempts to free himself, as the 
               blade of Excalibur descends upon him and cuts through metal, 
               flesh and bone.

               Mordred's head falls to the ground, rolling away.

               Mordred's lieutenant flees. Perceval races to Arthur's side, 
               and supports the King who has fallen on his knees. Arthur 
               speaks through the pain:

                         Draw the spear from me. Do it.

               Perceval holds the King tight to himself with one arm, while 
               with the other he draws the shaft through and out of Arthur's 
               body. Arthur sags but doesn't fall. Perceval begins to remove 
               his armor to get at the gaping wounds. The King speaks slowly, 
               softly, from outside his own pain-wracked body.

                         There is one thing left to do... 
                         Excalibur... And you must do it, 
                         Perceval. Leave my wounds, I command 

                         I cannot--

                         --Take Excalibur. Find a pool of 
                         calm water and throw the sword into 

               Perceval, stunned by the command, doesn't move.

                         Obey me, Perceval. You must act for 
                         me. It is my last order as your King. 
                         Do it, and be back!

               Perceval picks up the sword, mounts his horse and rides 
               inland. Arthur watches him go, struggling with the pain, 
               still kneeling, and then his head falls to his chest.

               EXT. POOL, MOORS - EVENING

               Perceval steps through tall reeds to the edge of a pool. He 
               cannot bring himself to throw Excalibur into the water. He 
               examines the blade, and it is haloed with a faint iridescence.

                         It is too precious a thing. I can't...

               He backs away from the water and hides the sword in the reeds, 
               and starts back.

               EXT. MOORS BY THE SEA - EVENING

               Perceval dismounts, rushing to kneel at the King's side. 
               Arthur looks up, calm and intense.

                         When you threw it in, what did you 

                         ...I saw nothing.

               The King looks at him with piercing power. Perceval blurts 
               it out.

                         My King, I couldn't do it. Excalibur 
                         cannot be lost. Other men--

                         --By itself it is only a piece of 
                         steel. Its power comes from he who 
                         wields it. For now there is no one. 
                         Do as I have ordered!

               Perceval leaves once more. The daylight is failing, the sun 
               is near the horizon over the sea, bursting through clouds.

               EXT. POOL - EVENING

               He picks up the sword and looks at it for a long time. 
               Finally, with great misgiving, he hurls it into the middle 
               of the pool. As Excalibur is about to touch the water a 
               woman's hand reaches and grasps it by the hilt. It holds the 
               sword aloft for a moment and then draws it under.

               Perceval backs away from the pool stunned by the marvel.

               EXT. MOORS BY THE SEA - SUNSET

               Perceval returns to the King, terribly excited, shouting 
               from his horse:


               But Arthur isn't there. Perceval looks around him, he doesn't 
               understand. He sees a trail of blood. He spurs his horse and 
               follows the trail down to the sea.


               There is a trail of blood and prints upon the sand left by a 
               man crawling.

               Perceval follows them toward the sea. He looks around, 
               searching, terribly distraught.

               Where the blood and prints cease, there are many footprints 
               coming from and returning into the sea. Perceval looks out 
               across the waves.

               He sees a sailing vessel rising on the swell. On its deck he 
               can make out the distant figure of Arthur, lying surrounded 
               by women, their gossamer robes rippling in the wind. The sun 
               hovers on the horizon and the ship is heading for it.

               He gallops into the waves until his horse will go no further, 
               calling out with all his strength, a futile attempt:

                         Arthur! Will you return?

               The sun slips below the horizon. Night is falling, and the 
               wind whips the wavecrests. He turns from the sea and wades 

                         All the knights of the Round Table 
                         are dead. Excalibur is returned. 
                         Arthur is gone. Maybe he lives, maybe 
                         he will return...

               He stops at the edge of the water. In the uncertain light 
               sky and sea become one. He draws the chalice out of a pouch 
               on his saddle, and he holds it up before him.

                         Only I remain, and this...

               The wind swirls and whistles mysteriously in the hollow of 
               the cup. Music grand and melancholic grows from it. The 
               chalice, etched in starlight, is the last thing that is taken 
               from sight in the enfolding darkness.

                                                                  FADE OUT:

                                         THE END


Writers :   Rospo Pallenberg  John Boorman
Genres :   Adventure  Drama  Fantasy

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