First, read this courageous comment on the bombing and shooting in Norway.
We had our own “Oslo moment” here in the U.S., of course: the 9/11 attacks. In the aftermath, there was a lot of talk about tightening national security even at the cost of compromising our freedoms. A point that was often made in defense of more, and more extreme, measures was that no matter how strong our security was already, the terrorists would only need to find one crack in the wall, and they’d be in again.
Around this time, I was working on my still in-progress YA novel on the death of Arthur, a sequel to my novel on the Quest for the Holy Grail, and these debates found their way into the following scene, which takes place after Arthur’s victory over the Ten Kings. I offer it now in order to join my voice, in however small a way, to that of “Ola”, the commenter linked to above.
Note: the book is written entirely in the second person, with the point of view changing from chapter to chapter. In this passage, “you” are King Arthur.
Note #2: the final sentence contains a reference to Peter Dale Scott’s book-length poem on the 1965 Indonesian massacre, Coming to Jakarta, which ends with these lines:
let there be the courage
not just to have seen
but to ease into the world
breathing within us
From The Death of Arthur:
That day on the battlefield, you had surprised even Kay.
“I spare your lives,” you told your powerless foes, “whether or not you will now submit to my rule. You may return to your castles and ride out against me again tomorrow – or stay, and we will speak of how to govern this land in peace for the good of all its people.”
“Arthur!” your brother exclaimed when you were alone in your tent at the end of that day. “We spoke of sparing their lives, but without condition? That will only teach them that there will never be any cost to attacking us. They will be able to try again and again, and will only need to succeed once!”
“So it must ever be,” you replied.
He looked long at you, while from outside your tent came the sounds of horses being stabled and armor stowed as the camp prepared for one last night in the field. Then his face broke into a smile, the sweet unguarded smile you could sometimes coax from him as a child.
“It will not be easy!” he cried in mock despair.
“Glad am I then for my brother and wiser self by my side,” you told him. “Together, we will ease into the world this new kingdom of men.”