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The Chrysalis - Epilogue and Notes


It was never going to take King John long to go back on his word of course - and it didn't. In fact, at John's request, the Magna Carta was annulled by the Pope less than three months after it was signed, to the great anger of not just Treguard but virtually every English subject. Just as Mogdred had predicted however, this was the King's undoing, for he effectively united the Normans and Saxons in their common interest of resisting him. They would never trust him again.

The King spent the remainder of 1215 fighting against a rebel army led by his own barons, while still trying to hold off the invading armies of Louis VIII of France. In fact by May 1216, much of England was effectively ruled by the French King, the first successful incursion by France since 1066. However, the English barons soon found Louis' rule even less to their taste than John's, and internal opposition to the King declined. In any case, King John only lived until October, dying of a violent spasm of dysentry, and was succeeded by his nine-year old son, Henry III. All opposition melted away and England united to drive out the French invaders for good.

Their reward was the re-issue of Magna Carta and ironically, England would in the centuries that followed become even more powerful in its own right (under the rule of the Plantagenets) than the Norman-Angevin realm that had once enslaved it (under the Plantagents' own ancestors).

In the shorter term, Treguard and the Northguard, now referring to themselves simply as the Powers-That-Be, became the new King's guardians of the North. The Opposition led by Lord Fear would grow in power against them however, and Treguard's long struggle to bring justice and peace to the North of England would be a long and gruelling one, made all the more difficult by the Dungeon's ongoing expansion further and further across the Kingdom, which allowed Fear to spread his menace further afield than ever before.

It would be a very long time indeed before Treguard would finally discover Lord Fear's hybrid origins, and thus see the final piece of Mildread's premonition click into place. During that time, Treguard would continue to employ Dungeoneers from the far future in his struggle to contain Lord Fear. As before, it would be with only minimal success - the key to defeat after defeat after defeat had indeed been found in victory.





I first thought of the idea of writing "The Chrysalis" quite a few years ago as I'd long felt that there were serious discontinuities between earlier and later seasons of Knightmare that needed tidying up, or at least explaining away. Most prominent among these was the introduction around the fifth season of a clear division of allegiances among the characters who appeared in the show i.e. The Powers-That-Be versus the Opposition. Although there was nothing wrong with this idea in itself, I'd always regarded the implementation of it as a bit of a botched 'retcon', in that it came more or less out of nowhere without any clear explanation for it, and yet was now one of the most central aspects of the programme. Beyond this also lies the problem of introducing a new central villain, Lord Fear, again completely out of nowhere, and without any explanation for who he was, where he came from, and why he hadn't previously bothered to show his face. By the same measure, there was no real explanation for why two previous key players in Knightmare, Merlin and Mogdred, had completely disappeared. Brother Mace did mention in season five that Merlin was no longer present in the Dungeon (the only direct reference made in the series to his departure as far as I can remember), but offered no further details than that. "The Chrysalis" offers, in my optimistic opinion, the most workable explanation for all these omissions.

My reference to Pickle as half-elf-half-imp is just the obvious way to resolve the long-standing discrepancy between the TV series and the books - in the TV series Pickle's an elf, in the books he's an imp. Yes, it's an easy way out, but at least it's better than just trying to ignore it the way most people have in the past.

Most of the historical background information in "The Chrysalis" is in fact very accurate. The unsympathetic view of Richard I ('Coeur de Lion'), for instance, which is in stark contrast to his legend, is based on the indisputable fact that, for all his courage and military genius, he was a ruthless and greedy killer. In effect he overthrew his father, Henry II, and at times he behaved barbarically on Crusade - the massacre he ordered at Acre for instance was a genuine historical event. He was also a neglectful absentee monarch - far from being the glorious hero of the medieval English monarchy that he has usually been proclaimed to be, he only spent around six months of his ten year reign in England, and on one occasion even said that he would have happily sold London if he was given a high enough bid for it. Like his Norman forebears, he was first and foremost a French Duke who saw England as nothing more than a usable possession. (Indeed he had far more in common with King John than distinctions from him.)

The information around Magna Carta is largely correct, although I did take one or two liberties with timing, most noticeably by indicating that the first invasion of England by King Louis VIII was about a year earlier than in reality.

The story is set between the Knightmare novellas "Fortress of Assassins" and "The Sorcerer's Isle", written by Dave Morris. It is largely consistent with Morris' first four Knightmare books ("Fortress" even includes the occasional mention of the early developments of Magna Carta that this story picks up on), although there is one minor contradiction - early in "The Sorcerer's Isle" it is indicated that Treguard and Pickle had been present in Acre in the Holy Land from 1211 to 1216, and had not been back to England at any stage during that time. However "The Chrysalis" is set in 1215, and at no stage in the story do Treguard or Pickle appear anywhere EXCEPT England. I decided on taking this route as King John and Magna Carta were a key part of the plot that I needed Treguard to be present for. In any case I felt that if Treguard were in the Holy Land for all those years, there would be no room for the Knightmare Challenge during that time, which doesn't look likely on watching the TV series, and wherever possible I like to try and keep my stories consistent with both the TV shows AND the books (though not the Yearling titles - see below). To reconcile this, it's not much of a stretch to simply assume that Treguard and Pickle return to the Holy Land at some time after "The Chrysalis" to take up their misadventure with "Erica and Launcelot".

Further to this, a rough guide to continuity as I see it could be taken as follows...

The first book of Knightmare is set several years before the first two seasons of the TV series. The misleadingly-named "The Labyrinths of Fear" is set between seasons two and three. After season three (around the year 1211), Treguard starts his mini-Crusade in the Middle East in "Fortress of Assassins", and returns to England late in the year 1214 for season four on TV (explaining why the Dungeon had changed so much since the previous season). In the immediate aftermath of that is "The Chrysalis". After this he returns to Acre for "The Sorcerer's Isle" then returns once more for season five. Where the Yearling titles would fit in, I'm not so sure. It's not that I can't figure it out - they're clearly set during the last three seasons of the TV show - it's just they're such a departure in style from the previous books that I don't accept them as canonical, so I've never bothered trying to be more specific. (Not that anything I've written so far actually contradicts them.)

Incidentally, my previous fanfic, "Theatre of Dreams" is set about seven years after the last season of Knightmare. If you should read it, note the bit where Merlin mentions Lord Fear building his power "In a way which none could ever imagine", and that he doubted that "Lord Fear could profit from Mogdred's downfall." Before anyone asks, these are indeed references to the events of "The Chrysalis". As I wrote "Dreams" several years before "Chrys", it goes without saying that I was setting the backward references up deliberately - and it took quite a bit of doing to get the pattern right!

Merlin refers to himself as "Leilocen" (pronounced Lie-lo-Kun) when he is praying in episode 2. This is not merely another of the countless names that Merlin was reputed to possess, but his REAL name. It's one of the great ironies of the Arthurian legend that Merlin, one of its most fantastic and other-worldly figures, is in fact one of the few characters in the whole story whose historical existence is supported by some solid evidence. Leilocen was a sixth century bard who went mad after witnessing a terrible battle between two large armies (one probably Pictish, the other probably Romano-British) near the forest of Caledon (which was probably somewhere near the modern border between Scotland and England), and fled into the wilderness. When he finally returned to human society he began making wild and obscure prophecies (on which were based the infamous "Phrophetiae Merlini") to anyone who would listen, which admittedly was not very many. Nevertheless it was from these that Merlin gained his reputation in Celtic mythology as a seer and a wizard.

  The story in the prologue of the Talisman of Fortune being retrieved by a dungeoneer refers, of course, to Julian Smith (now Jason Karl) and friends' successful quest in series two, only the second ever winners of the Knightmare Challenge. Also, you may notice that Aesandre being bribed by Lord Fear with the Shield of Justice in the third episode is a rather handy bit of retcon, as it sets up Ben's winning team from season five taking it back from her  -  although how Barry's team in season seven end up retrieving it as well is a bit more difficult to explain away. (Seeing that they never bothered to explain it on the TV show, I won't try for the time being either.) Likewise, Skarkill steals the Sword of Freedom from the King so that Julie's team can steal it back (also in season seven)!

If anyone has any further questions about my thinking behind "The Chrysalis", please e-mail me at the address on the Contacts page. I'll paste any questions, and my replies to them, on this page.

- Martin Odoni, March 2003.