A Throne Room
King Claudius sits alone.
Claudius: Our faithful bodies rupture clean as knife decides their fate. We wonder with increasing dread what the future doth hold for our fellows and we. [knock at door, guard enters with Loca]
Guard: My liege, this surly fellow requests audience....
Claudius: Give him rein. Adjourn until the arrival of Salana. [guard leaves]
[to Loca] My good friend, to what is the pleasure owed?
Loca: [angrily] Thou dost sit on thy throne of skulls in a castle of blood while merrily men march to their dooms! [subsides a little] Why Claudius? What does this betrayal of thy fellows bring to you?
Claudius: Betrayal? I know not what thou mean.
Loca: Dost thou know so little of the war of faith engaged under thy sweet nose King? Scores of faithful, loyal, true soldiers march to their death for your petty whim. What trinket is worth bloodshed so?
Claudius: Trinket! Behold, my God, thy faithful child claims thou treasure as mere glitter! All that glitters in this case is most surely gold, my friend, for what can be more golden than the Cup of Christ?
Loca: Pah! Thou hidest behind riddle and half-truth! Tell me for what I fight or find my legions departed hence from this place of death.
Claudius: Thy pure, naive little soldier! [Loca's hand goes to his sword] Nay. Hold, my friend, I jest you not. Thou wish to know for what thy fight? It be nothing less than the Grail. The sacred cup of human spirit is here in England, and as God's child, I must possess it or be damned.
Loca: Hast thine eyes proof of skittish tongues' speech? Or dost thou fight for ghosts of ghosts? Answer or be damned and double damned again!
Claudius: Evidence? You ask of evidence? Alack! I have none, but the word of my master God himself.
Loca: Thou speak in riddles once more! A plain response is what I crave!
Claudius: Does my answer not convey my meaning? Marry, tis a petty war that tongues and minds must fight. An answer true my noble friend is that of the Dream Vision, God has spoken to me in my nightly rest.
Loca: Dost thou send scores to a bloody tomb for the hopes in a dream? Thou art more fool than I ever suspected! Friend you may be, but wise? Thou art most certain to be found lacking in the wisdom of Kings.
Claudius: Young upstart's heart within old soldier's head! This was no mere flight of fancy brought about by a nights feast! [stands and walks over to a large window, motioning to Loca to join him] Dost thou see the might within the skies? The clouds and winds know more of this earth than we ever shall. Yet here we toil, protecting man's king from man himself. Man fights with weapons of metal when all we need are the clouds. [Appears to think about something for a moment, and then sighs heavily] There is no Grail. My good and noble sword, there never was.
Loca: What? We fight for nothing? For clouds?
Claudius: No!! [turns to Loca with tears in his eyes] We fight for ourselves, that is all we can ever hope to do. [sits back on his throne, his appearance is no longer that of a king, but a tired old man] My good Lord Loca, how long hast thou served my cause?
Loca: Almost a score and a half, my liege, but what -
Claudius: - In all of that time, hast thou ever doubted what thou stands for?
Loca: My liege, I do not understand...
Claudius: Hast thou ever regretted thy course? Wished that scores did not kill in thy name? Never regretted the loss of so many stags for the sake of but one wolf?
Loca: Of course. Do not all soldiers tire of the killing arts after a time? The best learn to forget, others are not so fortunate and hear the silent screams at night.
Claudius: Which art thou, friend? Killer or human, both or neither?
Loca: I do not know, my lord. Such thoughts are driven away by my mind yet. Perhaps one day I shall know for sure. Many never find out.
Claudius: Do you know what drove me to invent such worthy treasure?
Loca: I say nothing, liege, for my head thinks and answers differently from my heart.
Claudius: My people need a cause. The peace in my name was turning idle content into restless need. Without a war, the people revolt to fulfil bloodthirsty desire. We have failed as a race if war is all that drives us so.
Loca: What about our other motivations? What of love's sweet embrace? Or the first time your son takes the breath from your lungs? How often a sunset has filled me with the new vigour to carry on is uncountable. My truth shines true, [pauses] we have our failures, but we also have our successes.
Claudius: I have none. I have never felt love's tender kiss, for my face is my fault. [strokes his scar thoughtfully] I have neither son nor daughter to carry on my line. I cannot see the sunset for fear of night-time's assassin arrow. I am incomplete and I cannot face it for much longer.
Loca: My liege, what has changed thy demeanour so? Art thou unwell?
Claudius: Only in the soul. My heart slowly dies whilst my mind stays well. Alone is my lot and alone I must be.
Loca: My friend...
Claudius: Go! [waves Loca towards the door] I need but my own self, no other is welcome. [draws his sword and stares at his reflection in the blade] Leave us to be alone. Do what you can when you rule here, for I soon withdraw my throne. My bishops have been informed of my wishes, thou are to be crowned at next full moon. I beg of you now to take your leave, my thoughts must be my only friend.
Loca: I shall return tomorrow, lord. [bows] Farewell. [leaves]
Claudius: [speaking to his sword] The final hour is now. My faithful friend, you have been forever by my side. [sighs] These moments are my last. [looks up at window as sun begins to set. He walks over to the window with tears running down his cheeks] Last glorious sunset, a fitting end for a lonely King. I come to join you now, Father. Be ready for me. [places sword against his throat] I shall die as King to come back as Prince in Heaven. [lights go down and we see his outline slump to the floor, the sword falls from his hand]
So there you go... what do you think?