Tristan & Isolde – my own words (part one)

Tristan is an orphan boy from Cornwall. Isolde is an Irish princess. After a viscous battle, Tristan is injured and presumed dead. His comrades build him a floating pyre, but as it drifts into the ocean the pyres fails to catch fire. Tristan drifts unconscious across the sea until he lands on the edge of Ireland. There, he is discovered by the princess Isolde out taking the morning air. Immediately, she recognizes he is injured and his wounds need tending. So she finds him a small shelter on the beach where she brings him herbs and medicines to dress his wounds in secret. If the young British man were to be discovered on Irish soil, he would surely be interrogated, tortured, and killed. So Isolde kept him a secret to only herself and her handmaid.

Some versions say this is where the pair fell in love with one another – in a small shack on a beach beside the ocean. As Tristan gained back his strength, his love for his healer also grew. When he was strong enough to row himself back to Britain, he beseeched Isolde to come away with him. However, she refused her heart’s desire knowing that her going to Britain would surely ignite all-out war between the British and Irish.

So Tristan returned alone to his clan in Cornwall where he was greeted with great joy by his surrogate father and dear friend Mark who had thought the young man to be forever lost to him.

Time passed, but Tristan often thought of his savior across the sea. Isolde’s mind often thought of Tristan too and her heart swelled with regret remembering how she refused to accompany him into the sea that day. Her father the king was making plans to marry her off soon to Morholdt, whom she detests.

However, Isolde is clever and refuses to resign herself to such an unpleasant fate. One evening at dinner, she makes her own proposal to Morholdt her betrothed. Mockingly, she says to him that he won her without a fight. Her father speaks up in defense of his best warrior, but Isolde rebuffs him. She teases the king by telling him if he really wanted to find a warrior worthy of the Irish crown, he would hold a tournament and to the winner would go her hand. So the Irish king declares a tournament shall be held and the winner will be betrothed to princess Isolde.

Back in Brittany, Mark had become elected as leader among the clans. The unification was a tenuous one to say the least. It also was of no help that Mark had yet to secure himself a wife an produce an heir to inherit what might one day become the British throne. Tristan – who had been adopted, protected, and cared for my Mark after his parent’s had been murdered in a raid felt heavily indebted to his father figure.

When the invitation to the tournament in Ireland arrived at the court of Mark and the British clans, Tristan vowed to himself and to all present that he would enter and win a wife for Mark and in doing so also earn a queen for the fledgling British nation. Thoughts of seeing his Irish handmaid once again fueled his passion for the cause.

Together, the clan leaders traveled with Tristan to the Irish shores for the tournament. Many clan leaders also entered themselves, playing into the Irish king’s intention of sowing a sense of rivalry among them.

The day of the tournament arrived. Isolde decided with disdain that if she were to be offered up as a gift to the winner then she ought to be wrapped accordingly. So she cloaked her entire self in a veil to hide her face. The tournament entrants could help but joke amongst themselves that the princess must be recovering from an unsightly case of the pox.

The fighting was brutal. Many wounds were in need of attending, though fortunately none had been fatal. The final battle came down to Tristan and Morholdt – the original betrothed to Isolde.

Morholdt, strong and brave, fought with a ferocity Isolde had only heard about in tales told around the feasting table. It frightened her knowing that he could win the day and take her as his wife. However, hope beat strongly inside her chest as she saw Tristan block his every blow and counter each strike of the blade.

After many blows had been exchanged, Tristan managed to disarm his opponent and claim victory over Morholdt. Tristan approached the Irish king and veiled princess to claim his victory and the woman he has won for Mark. As he approached, Isolde cast off her veil in a moment of joy. This time she would be free to return with Tristan to Britain. This time, she could not refuse him as she was bound to the winner by her father’s own decree.

“I am yours,” she declared – looking upon Tristan with love in her eyes and overflowing from her heart. But the king’s words put heavy darkness into her as he explained that Tristan had entered the tournament as a proxy for king Mark. Her face fell as she came to realize she would go to Britain, but only to be wed to someone else.

Tristan’s heart broke as he came to the same realization at seeing her lovely face. He had never known the true identity of the woman who had saved him on the beach, for she had told him that she was a mere handmaid in the palace.

So Mark takes the hand of Isolde and leads her back to his boat where they embark on the trip to return to Britain.
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