Father Blaise's sermon
Author notes: This Campfire story takes place between chapter 20 and 21 of the main story. You will note that I chose to keep most events of the Arthurian myth on Earth. What I decided to make things stick with SG-1 canon was that the Ascended Ancients removed most of the traces of Arthur Kingdom’s on Earth by moving them to the planet Avalon after Camlann. Bishop was one of the few left behind, because of Janus’ interference. The character list and links can be found here
Blaise Bishop looked at his parishioners, seeing many questions in their eyes.
“Most of you have heard in the news that an Alteran was brought back by a Reconnaissance team and that his name is Merlin Ambrosius. Now, you may wonder if he is the Merlin of legend, the mage and advisor of King Arthur. You also wonder why I was seen speaking with him like with an old friend. Now, perhaps, some of you remembered that a man named Blaise exists in the Arthurian tales. I am, indeed, that Father Blaise and I was once advisor and chronicler at the court of King Arthur.
But it is better for me to put things back in perspective by telling you this story. As this is also recorded and transmitted on the Net, all the people in the fleet who want to hear it will be able to do so.
I was born in the second half of the fourth century, in a small village in Brittany. You have to forget about the ‘idealized Middle Ages’ created by authors like Geoffrey of Monmouth or Chretien de Troyes a thousand years after the facts and carried over by Hollywood. As it often happened in history, they transformed the facts to fit their vision, not knowing, or perhaps even caring, that in doing so they tarnished the memory of the people who lived and fought under the reign of King Arthur.
No, the Brittany and Great Britain in that time were Romano-British lands. In the great centers, Roman culture was predominant, but the more you went into the countryside and the more the Celtic culture was seen. Christianity, brought by the Romans, was mingling with the druidic faith and the many other religions used by the mercenaries employed by the Roman army. Things were not always easy as Rome wanted to force Christianity on those people. It was also a land and a time where magic was… more commonplace than in the twentieth century.
I was raised to become a druid and, as such, practiced white magic, calling on the powers of the spirits of nature. Later, I chose to convert and renounced to practice magic. However, I did not accept the Roman dogma and started to build my own doctrine. Of course, for Rome, I was a heretic, just as Martin Luther became one a long time after that. You know my ideas and I hope, seeing you here, that you share them. You know how I believe that the Lord does not care about official membership in a faith and that good deeds alone are what will count on Judgment Day.
One day, a girl came seeking assistance in my church. The fact she was pregnant out of wedlock was not such a big issue in Celtic lands. The druidic fertility rites were still often celebrated, particularly during the Summer Solstice. No, the problem of that woman was that, in those days, the people still commonly knew about the demons and they thought the girl offered herself to the forces of darkness and was bearing an inhuman child.
Thanks to my experience as a former druid, I knew that things were not so simple. There are many kinds of magical creatures and only some of them are evil. To keep things simple, there are four main factions of magical creatures, two light and two dark. As you certainly noticed I did not say good and evil. It is true that the Angels are of the Light and the true Demons of the Darkness, but, as people of the twentieth century, you certainly know how dangerous such generalizations are.
The two other factions are, indeed, the proof of that. They have many names but one of those I like the most is one that you often find in English literature: the Court of Seelie and the Court of Unseelie. In the old fairy tales, as well as in the famous play by Shakespeare some of you may have seen or read, we learn that Fairies have notions of Good and Evil that are not the ones of humans. They may be wise, but this wisdom will often lead them to what we perceive as cruel acts, or on the contrary so unaware of mortal limitations that their innocent games lead us to our end.
Long before the Goa’uld impostors discovered Earth and impersonated the ancient gods, our ancestors worshipped the Fairies, fearing their magical power. The Bible refers to them, in the sixth chapter of Genesis, calling them the Nephilim, though any trace of their true nature was stricken from the canonic texts by various scribes that were given the task to hide the truth about magic. The Fairies are, as I said, of two kinds that are sometimes enemies and sometimes allied, though they agree to oppose the demons. They not only have lords that took many names in the old mythologies, but also gather races of magical creatures in their fold. As an example, the Arabian jinni is a creature of Seelie while the dragons are of Unseelie. It is important to understand that all of them, though inhuman, are not fundamentally good or evil.
To come back to Merlin, what I had to determine was if that child was only a scion of the Fairies or something more nefarious, sent by the true demons that lurk on, and too often through, the threshold of our universe. I soon discovered that my fears were unfounded. I helped the mother to make herself a new life in Great Britain, following her to help her raise the child.
The fact was that Merlin was almost human. I did not know what an Alteran was at the time, but later I understood that some Alterans, surviving the horrible plague we discovered on the Dead Planet, founded the Court of Seelie and became magical creatures.
I will not tell you about all the stories that happened under the reign of Arthur, at least not today. I have also donated most of my journals and chronicles to the University, so that a real, though perhaps a little partial, account of those times could be known to the people of New Camelot. They promised me they will soon have scanned all of them and will make them publicly accessible.
No, what is important is that you know a little about Arthur himself. Contrarily to the myth, he was not a bastard raised without knowing his lineage, but sent by Uther, like many other young nobles of the time, to be raised in Rome. This was a way for the Empire to make sure that the nobility was sympathetic to the Roman ways. It sometimes backfired spectacularly, as the Roman-raised German leader Arminius proved. It also backfired with Arthur.
Arthur had quickly understood that the Empire was thoroughly corrupted and decadent. When he got back in Britain, it was as a Dux Bellorum, a kind of general with the mission to relieve the commander of the Roman troops. He quickly took command, but soon discovered that Rome was calling back more and more of the soldiers stationed in Britain, while the taxes ferried to Italy remained the same, if not higher.
Now I can see that I don’t have to tell Americans where this situation leads. After all, the history of your own country taught you that very well. Arthur united the various clans forming a good part of Britain in a federation under his rule as High King. He offered to the various mercenaries and Romans who had settled here a country to fight for. He did not care about race or religion, but only about good hearts…
You will perhaps say that it was still a monarchy, but the people of that time were not ready for democracy as we know it. In a way, however, you can say that Arthur was elected, as he had to convince all the tribes, clans and small kingdoms of Britain to unite under his rule. It was, in fact, even more difficult than for the modern politicians of Terra. If people lost faith in him, they would have left the alliance without waiting for the end of the term.
Arthur reigned for long years not only because he brought peace and happiness in his kingdom, making sure that all had enough to eat, would live free and under the same law. What he brought to the people of Camelot was a desire to become better. Oh, he was no saint, but he had learnt to consider people only on their deeds, not on their origins. He also knew how to listen and ask for advice.
It is this ideal of tolerance and justice that we, the people of the New Camelot, should strive to always defend, in memory of Arthur Pendragon.