It's been a long while since I last wrote about the Noble Knights, but now that two sets have come and gone, I'm very pleased to revisit them today! Last time you read about the Noble Knights, I briefly touched on the fact that certain knights had the ability to change from their 'holy' form and switch sides to a 'betrayer' form. As it would seem, the last two sets released more and more 'betrayers' into the court of King Artorigus. Get ready, as we uncover the secret life of some of the more famous of King Artorigus' massive social circle. We've got all the gossip in store for you! If you haven't read the last article on the Noble Knights and want to catch up, I suggest you check that out first, then come back for today's article. Note that in today's discussion, I'll be referring to each of the monsters and characters by their Welsh names (since those are the names that were adopted for the printed cards).

Let's begin with the two integral female monsters released in Shadow Specters and Legacy of the Valiant. Both of these characters have been portrayed in different ways in different media over the years, and both have received many titles and allusions that were attributed to them over time. Each of these ladies have been both friend and foe alike. I of course speak of The Lady of the Lake, of which multiples exist, and the inconstant Gwenhwyfar, Queen of the Noble Arms.

The Sorceress and Sorcerer's Secret Scandal!
I love how unique and versatile the Lady of the Lake is! Depicted as a young woman with blonde hair hovering above a ripple on the waters, she cradles the legendary Excaliburn as it glows red and blue. Her facial expression is rather dulled expressing no real sentiment. The fact that Lady herself is holding the sword is a bit odd, depending on which fiction you prefer to read. As was stated in the last article regarding the Noble Knights, the Lady of the Lake was not actually the one to give Artorigus Excaliburn. Classically speakings he was the one who gave him Caliburn, and when it was broken in battle, Merlin had the sword reforged. However, the stories all vary depending on whose version of the Arthurian mythos you read. Nothing's set in stone.

In one version of the tales, the Lancelot backstory pertaining to the hunt for the grail, she, Viviane, is schooled by Merlin in his magics. Merlin falls in love with Viviane and she states she will only return his love if he teaches him ALL of his magic. Merlin foresees that she will betray him and lock him away beneath a rock or in a tree (depending on the story), but because of destiny, he can't do anything to prevent his entombment. Merlin has no choice but to accept his fate and teach her his secrets.

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The Post-Vulgate Cycle's Lady of the Lake character is nearly identical, with the only difference being that her name is Ninianne. HOWEVER, in that version Ninianne does give Excaliburn to Artorigus and not Merlin. In the Sir Thomas Mallory version of the story, two Ladies of the Lake are present and the second, Nimue, presents Arthur with Excaliburn when Caliburn's damaged. Here, Merlin and Artorigus make their way to the lake where she resides and Artorigus must ask permission from the Lady of the Lake to have the sword that is left suspended above the water's surface. She would become Merlin's magical successor in some tales, protecting Artorigus and the knights from Morgan Le Fay and others. Perhaps this is why we have yet to see a Merlin card in the game?

The Lady of the Lake card itself has the astounding ability to be used with any of the 'betrayers' Noble Knights, Noble Knight Borz, Noble Knight Medraut and Ignoble Knight of Black Laundsallyn. She can also be used with Noble Knight Gwalchavad as well.

Two-Timing Tart Turns Up Trouble!
Gwenhwyfar, Queen of the Noble Arms' name translates as 'White Phantom'. She was said to be Roman and raised in the court of Duke Cador. In most Arthurian recounting she's the damsel in distress who needs rescuing. Her presentation alludes to some form of living trophy, and some favor of a goddess whose retaking symbolizes her divine favor. It was foretold by Merlin that she'd one day be the downfall of King Arthur and betray him. She brings the Round Table to the court as part of her dowery when marrying Artorigus, symbolizing unity, wholeness and the unending. Ironically she's also the one who ends up breaking the circle. It's debated whether or not Gwenhwyfar was actually an inconstant person, interested more in power and lust, or if she was merely the victim regarded as a fragile flower.

Not only did Gwenhwyfar have to be wary about the 'unwanted' advances by other men, she also had a rival in the form of Morgan LeFay. Moran LeFay is Artorigus' half sister and suspected to be associated with the Irish triple goddess Morrigan. She eventually becomes and enemy to both Artorigus and Gwenhwyfar. The two women symbolize a dichotomy, each representing separate aspects of dark goddesses. Turning our attention back to Gwenhwyfar as she's rendered on the card, her gown's beautiful and looks like the petals of a flower, which is important in symbolizing her as the 'flower bride', a term bestowed to her by historians for her contrast with Morgan LeFay and the prophecy that she would be taken and then rescued by another, symbolizing the shift of the seasons and the flower. Beside the two shadows in the background of the art, you can see her actual figure with Noble Arms - Excaliburn floating above her. Notice how her hands never come in contact with the sword and how the sword glows both blue (Artorigus) and red (Laundsallyn). Much like her love for both of the men in her life, it's out of her hands and the debate is up in the air. She can't grab the only thing symbolic enough to cut her ties from one or the other. She wears blue jewelry and has blue eyes with a crimson lamé.

In the background for the card art of Gwenhwyfar, Queen of the Noble Arms, you see her displayed in a blue cameo. In this you see her head is turned looking away from the darkness in front of her (the shadow cast by a pillar in the hall) as she's led by the hand away towards the shadows. The blue is indicative of King Artorigus, and her being led towards the shadows with her head turned could be symbolic of her eventual straying from the light. Or perhaps she's looking towards the darkness, lead by some unseen figure.

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Led astray in the stories, Gwenhwyfar and Laundsallyn fall madly in love with one another and their relationship winds up destroying the knights of the round table. Her symbolism as the bringer of unity crumbles as she becomes the breaker of unions. Later, Medraut captures both Laundsallyn and Gwenhwyfar, just as they call off their love affair in the bed chamber. Gwenhwyfar was captured and sentenced to the stake but Laundsallyn escaped and saved her, killing Gawayn's brothers in the process and stoking the upcoming war between Artorigus and Laundsallyn. While Laundsallyn and King Artorigus are away at war with one another, Medruat claimed that Artorigus was dead and took control of the kingdom, declaring Gwenhwyfar as his wife.

She refused him, and locked herself away in the tower of London until Artorigus returned, but during the battle with Medraut, Artorigus was mortally wounded and died. Following the death of Artorigus, Gwenhwyfar took to a nunnery and remained there until her death. Looking at the Gwenhwyfar, Queen of the Noble Arms card, you'll see in the red silhouette behind her the outline of a woman dressed in a nun's habit knelt with hands up, either praying or pleading. The red symbolizes her future fate, in which both her and Lundsallyn become a nun and a monk respectively to repent for how they acted.

Gwenhwyfar's effect that allows her to equip from the graveyard is likely symbolic of her running off to find a knight to protect and save her, as well as her inconstancy. While equipped to a Dark monster, the knight can overcome and slay any monster. While equipped to a light monster she protects the knight instead, pleading and praying for their protection. She essentially sits on the sidelines and cheers for her favorite knight, and when that knight's expended, she moves on to the next one. She plays favorites just as she does in the stories and her effect plays on the dual relationships she has with Laundsallyn and King Artorigus.

Virgin Knight's First Time, Sleeps With Satan!
Noble Knight Peredur, the virgin knight, was sheltered by his protective mother until he ventures out one day and comes acrossa group of knights. Different stories cast him as the son of King Pellinore or some other worthy knight. When his father passes, Peredur's mother becomes a hermit and secludes both herself and her son in the forest, where she teaches him nothing of how to be a man until he reaches the age of fifteen. At that age, a procession of knights through the forest caught Peredur's attention. He decides he wants to be a knight, and after his mother lets him go, he proves himself at King Artorigus' court and is invited to become a knight at the round table. His sister Dindrane is mentioned to be the bearer of the Holy Grail, too.

Looking to the card art, you can see that Noble Knight Peredur's accompanied by Noble Knight Borz and Noble Knight Gwalchavad in the artwork. Both Peredur and Borz wear strikingly different armor than the rest of the knights. Take note that the horse Peredur rides is black, symbollic of darkness, death, and temptation. In Le Morte D'Arthur, Peredur has a very unfortunate streak with horses. His steed is killed by twenty knights, but he's saved by Gwalchavad who rushes off without him. Next, a man on a black horse arrives and kills a new mount he receives from a squire. After that, he receives a black horse which can run four days worth of ground in an hour, but quickly attempts to jump into the sea. Peredur makes the sign of the cross and the horse shakes him off, plunging into the sea without him. The horse was the devil, apparently.

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Soon after, Peredur's tempted by a maiden to lie with her on a boat. He does so, and just as things start to get steamy, he stops himself. The maiden turns out to be the devil, again, this time trying to have Peredur give up his virginity. By the end of the Grail quest, Peredur becomes a religious hermit and passes away. In the story he's many times tempted by lust and urged to abandon his quest for the Grail. The Yu-Gi-Oh! version of Peredur seems to suggest that when he's equipped with a Noble Arms, temptation has washed over him. We see flower petals floating in the wind; symbolically, the flower petal is generally perceived to symbolize grace, naivety, femininity and purity, a fitting image for our knight who lived a practically sheltered life through so many of his teenage years.

Glory, Grail And Gone!
Unlike the other Grail knights, Peredur and Gwalchavad, Noble Knight Borz returns to King Artorigus' court with nothing while Gwalchavad and Peredur are touched by the grace of god. Out of all of his comrades, Borz is the only one who has black hair while everyone else has very light blonde hair. He beholds the Grail but doesn't touch it in his card art, witnessing the Grail's might and majesty alongside Gwalchavad and Peredur. Much like Peredur and Gwalchavad, Borz is celibate and never breaks his promise. He's the only one of the knights to return from his quest, the others pass away.

Interestingly, in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, Borz is chosen by Gwenhwyfar to be her champion after she's convicted of poisoning another knight. While Borz was disinclined to fill that role, Laundsallyn takes his place. When Laundsallyn was banished from the kingdom, Borz was one of the knights who joined him in exile along with his family. He even helps rescue Gwenhwyfar from the stake, and Borz becomes Laundsallyn's trusted advisor when it comes time to wage war against Artorigus.

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Many players have complained about Borz's armor, and I question why. This monster's strange armor is supposed to symbolize his betrayal, with nothing about it being simple like the armor of the 'holy' knights. In fact, most of the 'betrayer' knights wear strikingly different armor. Noble Knight Medraut's armor is full of shadows, creeping black veins, and setting suns. Noble Knight Borz's armor is fashioned with jewels and sharp points representing glory and vanity. Laundsallyn's armor evolves into a strange mechanical suit. Each of these knights are supposed to represent the opposite of the virtuous King Artorigus and his holy companions.

Sacred Sword Sold BACK To Owner!
In the artwork for Noble Arms – Excaliburn, you can see it floating above the water; it's the same sword that the Lady of the Lake is holding in her arms, and that Gwenhwyfar, Queen of the Noble Arms can't touch. This is the sword that was given to Artorigus by the Lady of the Lake. In many of the stories, it's said that the Lady told Artorigus that the sword must return to her when he reaches the end of his life. That's probably why the sword banishes itself when you use it to overlay Artorigus with another of his forms.

It was said that whosoever wielded Excaliburn could command and inspire armies. No one really knows if this was the sword pulled from the stone, as there's strong evidence leaning in both directions. It's whatever you want to believe at this point. The original sword in the stone was said to have broken in battle and so Merlin had it repaired. In fear that Artorigus might pass in battle, Merlin took Artorigus to the Lady of the Lake, where she offered to Artorigus an unbreakable sword, paired with a scabbard that would protect Artorigus as long as he wore it. Through intervention of Artorigus' sinister sister, Morgan LeFay, the scabbard was lost forever but the sword was retrieved. Losing the scabbard is what led to Artorigus' death in the ensuing battle with Medraut. Eventually, Bedwyr would return the sword to the Lady of the Lake.

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So there you have it, the latest in the Noble Arms saga of gossip and speculation! Hopefully we'll see more Noble Knight cards in the future. Primal Origin is the next booster set after Legacy of the Valiant, and it's due out in a couple months. I'm hoping that we'll see a Morgan LeFay monster card in that set. I'm sure many of you are hoping for a Merlin card too, but what other knight would you like to see released in the TCG?

-Franco Ferrara