Author: The Holy See
Summary: Tired of seeing the young of their tribe taken to serve Rome, Aleath and her silent friend Raine issue a negotiation with Roman soldiers. With negotiations going better than expected, they are led to serve Arthur and fight alongside his knights. Typically, women did not belong in their situations. Lucky for them, they weren't typical women. Less character deaths.
A/N: I have finally gotten back to work on this story. My first step was to thoroughly edit all my chapters and then to continue. If you have read this before, there have been considerable changes made. If you are new to this story, I hope you enjoy.
Chapter 1: Too Little Men To Harm
"Aleath," Raine called from behind the sheer fabric that veiled the entrance of Aleath's quarters. "They are here."
With a heavy sigh, Aleath stood from her chair. She had been waiting for this day to come. Time ran its course quickly when the arriving circumstances were those not looked forward to. Walking determinedly around her bedroom, Aleath pulled a brown tunic on over her undergarments and tightly laced her dark trousers. She strapped her sword and daggers into place, simultaneously slipping her slender feet into her boots.
"How far away?" she asked her friend and scout.
"They should arrive within a quarter of an hour," Raine replied, tightening the leather bindings on her wrists.
Aleath exited her bedroom and followed Raine to the highest peak in their village. It was perfect to keep a lookout against any unwelcome visitors. They could see the approaching Roman soldiers clearly from this point. She could feel the disgust coursing through her veins, bile threatening to rise up through her throat and out her mouth. It has been too long. It was time to take action against arrogant Romans.
"Ready yourself, friend," Aleath said to her oldest companion. "Have our steeds readied as well. If we succeed, we'll be well on our way to our new home by nightfall. We'll meet them half way."
Raine bowed her head slightly to acknowledge Aleath's words before quickly walking away to get her belongings and horses readied. She reached the tribe's modest stables and lead Iapetus, Aleath's mare, out of her quarters. The horse was rather large and much stronger than the other horses with a golden coat and mane. After she finished preparing Iapetus, Raine moved to ready her own horse, Tethys. Tethys was a wild and mysterious horse much like his rider. She found the horse near a stream a few years ago with a wound on its right hind leg. With care, Raine nursed the creature back to health, showering it with more affection than any other being she had come to know.
In the mean time, Aleath had made her way to her father's quarters. Her father, Telesto, was a man that the entire tribe had come to know as their leader. He was at the later years of his life, with his hair gray and features wrinkled and marred by scars from his own servitude to Rome. Being a man blessed with skill in combat, he had trained all of his children effectively in the art of swordsmanship and hand to hand combat. Unfortunately, all of his sons had now passed into the halls of their forefathers, dying honourably in combat for a country that was not their own. His daughter was all he had left.
"Father," Aleath said softly but swiftly as she entered her father's meagre quarters. "May I request an audience with you?"
"Come now Lea, you know very well that you need not ask," Telesto nodded with a smile, gesturing his daughter into the room with his aging but capable hands. "I always enjoy my daughter's company."
Aleath took the seat that stood empty before her father and bowed her head, not looking forward to spoiling her father's good mood. She gripped the arms of her chair as she struggled to find the right words to deliver to her father. He had already lost most of his children, but she knew she had to do this.
"The Romans have come for the boys," Aleath began unsteadily. "And as much as I have told that I understood, I cannot and will not let them take the children."
The smile on Telesto's features faded into a deep frown. He stood and paced his quarters slowly, hands clasped at his back. Telesto knew this day would come. His daughter loved her tribe too much to sit idly by and do nothing and Romans continued to take from them.
"What do you intend to do, Lea?" Telesto questioned, "We are bound by an agreement that is nearly seventy decades old. Sarmatians will serve the Romans. There is nothing we can say or do to make that change. To believe otherwise is foolish."
Finally raising her head to look her father in the eye, Aleath said, "There is one thing, father. One thing that no one has ever considered and much less thought of. Another agreement to put it simply, a negotiation."
"And what negotiation is this?" Telesto asked, not entirely certain if he was ready to hear his daughter's plan.
"I have spoken with Raine," Aleath said softly, "And she is willing to go in the boys' stead. We are going to go in their place and serve along with the other knights."
"One ridiculous idea after the other, Lea," Telesto said, shaking his head slowly. "The Roman's will not take women."
Aleath and Raine were both still relatively young at the ages of twenty-five and twenty-seven and yet they were very well versed in combat. Many times they have ridden out alongside him to protect the village against raiders and the like, proving their accountability as warriors. As knights. Had they been men, they would be finishing their term of service as knights for the Romans.
"Is there anything I can say or do to change your mind?" Telesto asked hopelessly. He had lost his five sons and was not willing to lose his last child and only daughter.
"I am afraid that I have my will set, father," Aleath said with a sad smile. "Raine and I are to ride out as soon as I finish saying my goodbyes to you."
"Well then, if there is nothing I can do to stop you," Telesto spoke, walking to a chest that lay at the food of his bed. He opened the chest and drew out a finely crafted sword. "This sword was given to me by my father as it was given to him by his father. None of your late brothers have had the chance to wield Encaladus, but I feel that you are as capable and I believe you will make me proud."
Aleath accepted the sword, holding it gingerly in her cold hands. With nothing more to say between father and daughter, Aleath kissed her father's brow before exiting the room. She spotted Raine dressed in a dark indigo high neck tunic, black trousers and black boots. The upper portion of her dark raven hair had been expertly braided and the rest bound to prevent conflict with her line of vision. Her sword was strapped to her back alongside her boy and quiver with daggers and throwing knives strapped onto the saddle of her horse.
"Have you said your farewells?" Aleath questioned and they mounted their horses, eyes to the horizon.
"No need," Raine said coldly, "I have no one to part from."
They urged their horses forward into a gallop. The Roman's were still a fair bit away from the village. Better for the two women as the farther the soldiers were from their tribe, the easier it would be to negotiate. Both women stopped at a clearing.
"These Roman's travel slower than I could have imagined," Raine smirked.
Aleath laughed at the inefficiency of the so called mighty Roman Empire. The distance between both parties, however, quickly closed. At their arrival, the Roman's looked questioningly at the pair. They inched their way closer, unsure of what to expect. But what was there to fear? They were just women, after all.
The two women stood their ground as Aleath raised her hand out and called loudly, "You will go no further."
The Roman soldiers laughed while others hollered degrading words at them. They were irritating, far beyond compare. One pervert dared come close and attempt to pull Raine off of Tethys' back. The man failed when Raine pulled out one of her knives and sank it deep into the man's neck. The jeering and laughter came to a halt as soldier fell to ground, limp and lifeless.
"Come now, Raine. Save your blood lust for later," Aleath muttered as the soldiers began to draw their weapons.
"Your young come with us, whether you wish it or not!" The leader of the pack came forward. "Now be gone and go trouble someone else."
Raine made a move for an arrow and her bow but was stopped when Aleath drew her hand up with a signal to stop. Calmly, the scout brought her hands back down to the reigns of her mount.
"We are here to come to an agreement, sir. Nothing more and nothing less," Aleath said.
"And what might that agreement be, my lady," the Roman said, words dripping with sarcasm.
There were already a rather large number of Sarmatian boys with the soldiers. They watched their kinsmen intently, wondering as to what they might have in store for the Romans. One of the boys laughed from behind his long hair. He knew that Sarmatian women were tough. The Romans had a surprise in store for them.
"As many of your soldiers as you like, against me and my friend in hand to hand combat," Aleath spoke fearlessly. "Should you defeat us, then you are free to take the boys from our tribe. Should you be defeated however, you will leave this area and take us instead."
The Romans chuckled but behind them the Sarmatian boys smiled upon Aleath and Raine, silent hopes with them.
"Two women are no threat to us," the man said finally.
"Well if we are of no threat to you, then you should have neither fears nor any hesitation to fight us," Aleath said, dismounting Iapetus and disarming as Raine followed suit. "Either way, you win."
The Roman hesitated slightly, sitting rigidly atop his horse. Raine and Aleath continued to disarm themselves as they waited for Roman soldiers to do so as well. The man who had spoken many times earlier had his face set tight. He signalled for six men to disarm themselves. Like sheep , six men did as they were told and began to advance upon the two Sarmatian women. They were cautious for Aleath had a confidence about her that was daunting and Raine's cold and calculating appearance was thoroughly unsettling.
"I am afraid then, ladies, that you will be begging me to reconsider by the time my men are through with you."
Raine smirked and said in a cold voice, "You speak so confidently and yet you yourself have not offered to fight us. All talk and no action."
Obviously annoyed, the soldiers steadily crept closer. They split in half, three heading for Aleath and the rest heading for Raine.
"This hardly seems fair," Raine spoke again in between wickedly amused laughter. "There are hardly enough men to satisfy my blood lust."
Aleath snickered and ducked an approaching fist. Swiftly, she grabbed onto one of the soldiers capes and pulled him, with more force than she looked to possess, into his comrade. Their heads collided as punched the third man square in the nose, pleased to hear the sound of breaking cartilage. With the heel of her foot, Aleath kicked him sharply in the temple, knocking him unconscious. She turned in time to see the other two soldiers rise and continue their attack. Aleath delivered a sharp kick to the man's nether regions and moved to grab the other by the neck. She lifted herself up and kicked the now kneeling man on the side of his face with boy feet. The man that she had grabbed onto successfully threw Aleath over his shoulder, causing her to fall painfully to the ground.
Shaking the pain from her body quickly, Aleath swiped the man's feet from below with a swift round-a-bout kick to the back of his knees. He fell, back first, and earned a quick punch to the face from Aleath's clenched fist. She stood clapping her hands as if to remove dirt from her hands before turning to see how her friend was faring. Not too badly, she observed, as one of the men were already unconscious face down on the ground and the other swaying in a daze as if drunk.
"Taking your sweet time, Raine?" Aleath called over jovially, before turning to the soldiers' superior.
The man looked irate but baffled with the two women. When the man before Raine swung his fist clumsily, Raine took the opportunity to hit him with two of her fingers at three separate pressure points in quick succession. One after the other, she hit him behind the other, in between the neck and chin and at the man's right temple. The soldier swayed, eyes rolling back before dropping to the ground. Finishing the grapple, they looked up to the Roman still on his horse.
"I believe you've just acquired to very capable women to your party," Aleath said, mocking him with a smile as she began to strap her weapons back onto her body.
"Mimas," a soldier who was keeping an eye on the boys called, sounding like he had no desire to travel with any women.
"So the bastard has a name," Raine sniggered as she started replacing all of her weaponry. 'you might want to tie your soldiers to their horses. They're not waking up any time soon."
Mimas' eyes quickly darted over the limp bodies of his men, grunting in defeat.
It took them close to three months to reach the Hadrian Wall. Often during their journey, Raine had ridden ahead to hunt for good food to feed the Sarmatian boys, leaving the Romans to hunt for their own meals. Upon reaching the wall, they had received many stares and questioning looks. After all, it was uncommon to see two women riding with Roman soldiers and future knights. It was when they were within the safe perimeter of the wall that they were greeted by their new superior: Artorius Castus"
"There is something different about this Roman," Raine had said quietly to Aleath, "He does not look like a Roman either.
Aleath nodded in agreement as they dismounted their horses. Arthur walked forward to examine the new company.
"By what honour do we receive these ladies, Mimas," Arthur asked as his knights soon came to join him. "The boys are lacking in numbers as well, are they not?"
"We come in the stead of those boys," Aleath spoke, cutting Mimas off before he could speak. "I Am tired of seeing families lose their children because of forced duty to a country not of their own."
"Though your intentions are noble," Arthur said, "I'm afraid women do not belong on a battlefield."
He looked to Raine and noticed that she bore a strange likeliness to Tristan before his attention was averted back to Aleath.
"Well, Sir Arthur," Aleath said, her face firm. "Typical and stereotypical women do not belong on a battlefield. You will find that my friend and I do not fit the description of a woman that you have come to accept. There may be women who are content with being kept in a household, making meals and caring for their children and husbands. I however, assure you that my companion and I are not one of those women."
Straightening her back, Raine moved a bit and watched as the knights smiled at Aleath's words. With Aleath seeming to be at a loss to continue her speech, Raine finished it for her, surprising them all with words that no one had expected from her.
"Let us prove our worth to you," she said eloquently. "Should we fail to meet the standards that you set for us, I give you my word that we will depart with no further question."
Arthur looked to her and thought for a moment before speaking, "Done. When the time comes, we shall see your capabilities and worth. If you prove yourselves to be able to serve as knights then you stay. My friends and fellow warriors will help me make this decision."
As Arthur introduced each of his knights, they nodded to each of their respective names. Raine's eyes lingered on each of them for a bit, taking in their appearances and making general assumptions. Aleath then introduced herself and Raine, knowing that her scout would probably not introduce herself.
Tristan, being the scout he was, had done a lot of examining like Raine. He had first observed Aleath and came to a quick conclusion. She seemed to be head strong, stubborn and most probably had a quick tongue to match wit that would, at times, cause her trouble. Her long golden hair was a shade darker than Gawain's and her eyes a deep ocean blue. And then there was her friend who had hair darker than his own and eyes of deep and almost unfeeling gray. Against her slightly pale skin, he spotted a tattoo similar to his own on her cheek and a scar just above her left eyebrow. She seemed to be very much like him, having very little need to speak any words and with observant eyes darting to her surroundings.
Looking around at his friends, he had noticed Gawain taking an interest in the golden haired female. Galahad too had taken interest in one of the women, but it was not Aleath, rather it was the silent and mysterious Raine that had captured his attention. The two women had been assigned temporary chambers and accommodated with food to satisfy their hunger.
Their worth as knights would be proven much sooner than they had expected.
A/N: This is the end of the chapter. I hope you enjoyed. Please don't forget to leave a review.