King Arthur. Guinevere. Uther Pendragon. Morgana le Fay. Merlin the Wizard. Sir Lancelot. Sir Gawain. Mordred. Maybe you know all of these names and more; maybe you’ve only heard of a few. Maybe you’ve heard of sordid love affairs or magic enchantments gone wrong. Tales of the world of Camelot have been adapted into animated movies, television dramas, Broadway musicals… and now erotica.
For this anthology, we asked for both reimagined old stories and newly invented ones, dalliances we were expecting and affairs we wouldn’t have imagined, familiar characters, new characters, and some we thought we knew but discovered anew in the telling.
Read about Arthur’s origins from the steamy love affair of King Uther and Igraine, a woman married to another man. Take a peek into the mind of Mordred, a villain against his own choosing, as he seeks out his own pleasure before fulfilling his destiny. See how Arthur and Lancelot ache for each other, and feel your pulse quicken as they finally give in to temptation.
This anthology, edited by long-time Circlet editor Jennifer Levine, includes the following stories:
Wonderly Wroth by Yolande Kleinn
Destiny by Katya Harris
Under the Sign of the Dragon by Jean Roberta
Questing by Charles Payseur
The Giving Game by Alexandra Erin
The Shape of Camelot Today by Michael M. Jones
For a hot excerpt, keep reading below!
From “Questing” by Charles Payseur
Lancelot ran the streets of Chicago, laughter rising up in the air like a standard, proclaiming him to the world. His arms were outstretched, his eyes closed, his long blond hair trailing behind him. Around him people swore, saw him as just another dumb tourist, but he didn’t care. Why would he? He was in Chicago a full day ahead of schedule.
He didn’t need to be. He was so far ahead in points that none of the others had much hope of ever catching up, even if he took a holiday. Instead he pushed further ahead, lost himself in the simple pleasure of the game and of winning the game. What else was there to do with immortality? Jousting was now only done at Renaissance Festivals, and he wouldn’t be caught dead in such a place. Why live in the past when the present had so much to offer? For Lancelot, there was only the game, the quests. And whenever he felt the weight of centuries pushing down on him, the boredom, the tired ache, he reminded himself that he was Lancelot, the greatest knight in the world, and he kept right on going.
“I don’t see why you’re so happy,” a voice said, trailing him, and Lancelot stopped cold, eyes flying open. More curses erupted at his sudden halt, but a soft chuckle pierced them all. Palomides. Dark skin and amused grin and deep brown eyes. His hair was cut short these days, a small goatee trimmed thin and sharp on his face. Tall and fit, the man walked toward Lancelot with a muted grace and almost lazy energy.
“Just because you recovered the day you lost in Nevada?” Palomides continued. “Did you think that anyone would really believe you had gone all the way south to New Orleans to catch a boat to Africa? As if you’d ever miss the chance to go north through France.”
Lancelot frowned, though the emotion didn’t reach his eyes. Any complication was a good thing, after all, any distraction welcome. Especially from Palomides, though most of the time the man kept his distance. Lancelot had a reputation among the knights, and after a half dozen fiery affairs and lovers’ spats spanning continents, none seemed willing to let themselves get drawn close. Not that Lancelot lacked in romantic partners. With a whole world of men and women out there to win, he kept himself busy. Still, his eyes wandering up Palomides’ body, he couldn’t help but feel he had missed out on something.
“I suppose the others are around as well, then?” he asked. “Lamorak going to jump out next? Or Percival? Lionel?” But Palomides was shaking his head.
Lancelot smiled. Things were always more interesting one-on-one.
“They’re all at least a day behind, probably more. They caught a quest on their way through Texas, and you know the rules.”
The rules. As in the rules of the game. The game they’d been playing to stay sane the last few centuries. They had to do something, after all, being immortal. Otherwise they’d probably end up going mad and keeping the old hatreds alive, like Tristan had, or Gawaine, or any of the others caught in the past. Not him. Lancelot looked at the curse of the Grail somewhat differently, which is to say not as a curse at all. Oh, the first time it was a surprise, to close his eyes in final sleep and then open them up again as a child. Reincarnation, some said, but it hardly mattered. He’d gotten quite good at it, was able to always set money aside for his next self to find later. Enough to finance the game. It was always difficult the first few years of each new life, so full of knowledge and memories and unable to do anything about it. They had to act like Ricky or Ferdinand or whatever their new parents named them and blend in until they were old enough to play the game. But they remained the same in spirit. Lancelot was always Lancelot in his own mind. And he normally left home early. He had never liked being subject to anyone else’s control. He didn’t like to be tied down. He wanted freedom, adventure. Even after so many centuries he was still living for that next excitement.
“Well hurrah for us, then,” Lancelot said, trying to figure out Palomides’ move. Was he trying to lure Lancelot into a trap, or was it something else? Lancelot decided to come on strong. “Care to slip away and find a room or something?”
Palomides gave a small laugh and adopted an infuriatingly adorable smile, just the corners of his mouth curling up. He had a secret.
“Is their quest through Texas worth a lot of points or something?” Not that it would matter, with the lead that Lancelot had over most of the others. Only Palomides was even close.
“Not as much as the one a little north of here right now.” Just like Palomides, to be thinking of business first. Even in their first lives, Palomides the Questing Knight had been somewhat obsessed, always hunting that… Lancelot’s eyes widened.
“You don’t mean—”
“I do. Glatisant is here. In the Midwest, at least. I’ve got the trail.”
Which meant he was close to cashing in on a whole lot of points. Not that Lancelot was all that concerned. Even if Palomides banked big, Lancelot would catch up. It wasn’t like the game was difficult for him. Just keep going east, and whenever you’re in a place where someone needs help, you have to stop. If someone needs a lift, or their house painted, or a package delivered across the globe, you have to stop and take care of it before moving on or collecting any more points. The points were awarded depended on the difficulty and how fast you could circle the globe. Capturing Glatisant, the Questing Beast itself, would be worth a fortune. No one had managed it in over a hundred years. It, too, was ageless, and as long as they didn’t kill it they could keep hunting it forever. It made things interesting. And dangerous. Just like Lancelot liked. He smiled.
“And you’re telling me to gloat?” Lancelot asked.
“No, I’m asking if you want to help.” That smile never widened. It remained small, amused. Lancelot wondered what the angle was. He felt a flutter of warmth in his chest, the stirring of his old urge to quest, to win. If Palomides was challenging him, he wouldn’t back down, no matter where their adventures took them.
“You don’t mind splitting the points with me?” Lancelot asked. It was the rules, after all, but Palomides spread his hands wide as if showing he was unarmed, or disinterested. Lancelot paused. It was possible there was some other game going on here, some angle that Palomides was working. But the bait was just too tempting.
“Maybe I just know more than most not to go up against Glatisant alone,” Palomides said. “It has killed me a few times before.”
Lancelot frowned. It was hardly amusing to think of death, even if it didn’t end up meaning all that much to them. Dying put your points on hold, and it could take some time to grow old enough to play again. At the moment Lancelot was in his early thirties, Palomides a little younger, maybe twenty-five and looking far too good to die yet. Being reset now would be bad, much worse then going at sixty or even fifty, when there weren’t many good years left for gaming anyway.
“Okay,” Lancelot said. “I accept.”
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