"Arthur, some of the men said they've found something," Tristan said, walking up to the weary man where he stood at the door to the throne room that led out to a balcony overlooking the palace and down to the large village nearby. He pushed off from the doorway he had been leaning in and looked back at his old friend.
He was bone-tired from the battle, but he knew there was a long way to go before he could sleep that night. He sighed.
"What did they find?" he asked, rubbing his face.
"They said it's… well, it's a woman," Tristan said, seeming confused. Arthur looked up at him.
"A woman?" he asked. "Why is this important? I'm sure there's loads of women in the castle. Servants and such."
"It's not a servant. She was locked in one of the rooms high up. All the windows had been barred and boarded. And, well, she's dressed rather nice. Even if she's a bit scruffy at the moment," Tristan said. "Some of the guards that surrendered said she was Vortigern's prisoner."
"A prisoner?" Arthur asked. Tristan nodded as Arthur looked to Bedivere and Goosefat Bill. They both looked at each other in confusion.
"I hadn't heard of anything," Goosefat Bill said with a shrug. Arthur looked back to Tristan.
"Bring her in."
Tristan motioned to one of the guards who stepped out. They could hear muffled shouting from the hallway.
"I told you! I'll not come willingly!" a woman shouted as the door opened. Arthur snorted to himself slightly as he saw two guards drag possibly the most beautiful woman he had ever seen into the room, kicking and screaming the entire way. Her dress looked expensive, though it was slightly soiled and ripped. Her skin clear and pale, though covered in smudges of what he guessed was dirt. Though how it got there, he wasn't sure. She looked at him, their eyes meeting, and he was immediately taken in by their dark blue-gray - the color of a stormy sea. Bedivere and Bill looked at each other, immediately recognizing her.
"Let me go!" the woman screamed, fighting against the guards as they dragged her before him. Arthur smiled, amused by the display. She had fight.
"If you would calm down, I think you'd find they'd be much more agreeable to letting you go," he said. She glared at him, her long, dark hair coming loose from a braid that wound around her head and flying around her. Arthur surmised that she wasn't just any prisoner. But before they could let her wander around, they needed to find out why his uncle had her locked up in the first place.
"You want me to calm down?" she said, her dark blue eyes ice cold. "Why should I be calm for you?" She looked him up and down, seeming to be staring at him down her nose despite being several inches shorter.
"Please, would you just relax? I am not my uncle and I don't intend to hurt you or even keep you prisoner. I just want to know who you are and why you're here," he said, crossing his arms in front of him. She held her glare for a moment before she stopped struggling and stood calmly. Arthur looked at the guards and nodded. They slowly let go of her and stepped away. The woman shot glares at both of them, rubbing her arms.
"So… who are you?" Arthur asked. "And why were you locked up?"
"I suppose Vortigern didn't like that his future bride kept attempting to escape," she said wryly. "After about the fifth attempt, he took to locking me in. Though that didn't stop me from trying." Arthur blinked, his eyes widening. He hadn't known that his uncle intended to take another bride.
"As for who I am… I am Guinevere, eldest daughter of Lord Leopold," she said, holding her head high. "Who are you?" Arthur smiled, liking her spunk.
"Well, I am Arthur Pendragon, son of Uther Pendragon. And apparently I'm now the new king," he said, smiling slightly. Guinevere stared at him, momentarily shocked into silence.
"You mean… Vortigern's gone? He's not the king anymore?" she asked.
"My, he must have had you locked in some very soundproof place. Did you not hear the giant battle going on outside?" Arthur laughed, chuckling softly. Guinevere looked around her, seeming to notice the remnants of chaos around her. Relief seemed to spread across her face before she looked at him and the fear returned.
"Do you intend to keep me your prisoner as well?" she asked. Arthur laughed loudly this time, garnering a few chuckles from his men.
"No, not unless you give me reason to. I am not my uncle. And I intend to make a lot of changes around here," he said. Guinevere nodded, the relief coming back to her face.
"Will you let me go free, then?" she asked, barely able to keep the quiver out of her voice.
"If that is what you like," he said. She nodded and looked around at the band of ragged men around him.
"I should like to go home," she said, holding her head up high again. "Please," she seemed to add as an afterthought, suddenly remembering that she was addressing the new king.
"Very well. I'm afraid it's a bit late to set out today. And there is a lot that needs to be tended to right now. But, if you can wait, I'll gather some men to escort you home in a few days. I'm afraid I can't spare them any sooner," he said. "In the meantime, you'll be treated as a guest… not a prisoner." Guinevere nodded. It was obvious she wanted to go home right that minute, but she would wait.
"As you wish, your highness," she said with a curtsy. "May I please return to my room." Arthur chuckled again.
"You don't need to ask my permission. You can come and go as you like. And enough with this 'your highness' shite. I'm just Arthur," he said. She nodded.
"Very well… Arthur," she said. She then turned and strode out of the hall.
"She's a live one," Tristan said with a chuckle. Arthur nodded as he stared towards the door where she just left. "You know… you should try and keep her around a bit… see if you could woo her…" Arthur looked over to Tristan, an amused look on his face.
"Why would I want to woo her?" he asked.
"You're king now… a king needs a queen," Goosefat Bill said, a smirk on his face. He looked over at Bedivere.
"I don't need a queen right away," Arthur said. "I've only been king a few hours and you're already trying to marry me off?"
"She does come from a very powerful noble family. I suspect that's why Vortigern intended to marry her. An alliance with her family would solidify any reign," Bedivere said. Arthur continued chuckling.
"She just escaped one arranged marriage. I'm not about to force her into another. She may slit my throat in my sleep from the looks of it," he said. "But at least she may make the next few days interesting."
"Just… think about it. The marriage bit," Bill said, winking at Arthur before he wandered out of the room.
"Sure," Arthur replied, looking again towards the door where she left.
Not sure what possessed me to write and post this... I blame it on watching the movie a few too many times. For research! Anyway, here it is. I have a bit more written but not sure if I'll finish... we shall see...