Disclaimer: Guess you all know it by now.
Later on that day the knights and amazons arrived at their destination. Starving people dressed in shabby clothes, which wouldn't keep out the cold, watched the newcomers suspiciously. They all dropped their tools and walked over. As the group rode up to the gates they swing shut, shutting off the outside world. The only strange thing, to Arlia anyway, was that the man who owned the estate was shutting his villagers outside. Didn't he know that if a marauding army came then all they would have to do to kill him is kill off all his villagers? Even if he took all the stores of grain in then he still would only be able to survive as long as that grain lasted. As soon as that grain ran out he would starve. But then again, having fewer people in the fort meant that there were less people to feed.
"I am Arthur Castus, sent by Bishop Germanus of Rome, open the gate." Arthur commanded.
"And I'm the Queen of Sheba." Reseda muttered to Arlia.
Arlia smiled and shook her head. A few minutes later the gates opened, revealing a short man, who was too heavy for his height, Arlia noticed. He had short cropped dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, which looked a little like crow's eyes. He was wearing something like a toga, and leather sandals. Must be warm inside that villa, Arlia thought to herself, sighing ruefully. She wished she was back in the south, where it was warmer.
"Arthur Castus, Good Jesus, it is a wonder you have come." The man enthused, clapping his hands together warmly.
"What about us, we rode all this way just to come see you?" Reseda asked sweetly.
"You have fought the woads, vile creatures." Marius continued, ignoring Reseda.
"Excuse me; I would thank you if you did not ignore me or one of my women." Arlia cut in, her voice ice cold.
"And you would be?" Marius asked, eyeing the women with disgust.
"Arlia of the Mazagardi." Arlia didn't show Marius any sign of respect.
"I have heard of you." Marius spat out.
"Nothing damaging I would hope." Arlia smiled, which looked more like a sign of anger.
"Listen, a Saxon army is coming this way, we must get you out." Arthur cut in to the conversation.
"Everything we have here is in this land, given to us by the pope of Rome." Marius spat.
"Well you're about to give it to the Saxons." Lancelot butted in.
"And they won't ask nicely, unlike us." Reseda smiled.
"Then Rome will send an army." Marius claimed.
"They have, us." Arthur explained coldly.
"I refuse to leave." Marius claimed indignantly.
"Listen, if I do not return with you my men can never leave this island, therefore I am taking you with me, if I have to tie you to my horse and drag you all the way to Hadrian's wall myself." Arthur explained, and then he turned to Marius' wife, "Lady my knights and the amazons are hungry."
The woman looked to her husband, who nodded. She then walked back inside the villa. Arlia felt bile rise in her throat at that gesture. That a woman had to run service to a man was insufferable! But it was the Roman way of doing things, and as such must be accepted wherever the Romans were. A boy, tall for his age, came and looked at the knights from the gate. He was obviously Alecto, the boy the men and women had been sent to retrieve. He was slim, and had long brown hair that hung over his eyes. Arlia dismounted easily, and with a click of her tongue, left Yildiz to her own devices. She decided to follow Arthur, as he was walking over to a man who had been lashed, and hung by chains to a wooden frame, Arlia guessed, specifically for that purpose. As she walked she heard Bors talking to someone.
"Are you from Rome?" The man asked.
"From hell." Bors spat out.
Arlia found herself smiling grimly. She liked that statement, it appealed to her somewhat. She liked the knights' sense of humour, and how their friendly bantering brought them closer together. She and her moon riders were very much the same. They had been thrown together, or chosen, and whether they liked it or not, they were stuck with their leader. But most of them got used to her ways in the end. She wasn't really that bad, she was just distant. She liked to watch from afar.
A few minutes later Tristan rode up, and stood in conference with Arthur. Looking around Tristan seemed displeased by something Arthur had said. Arlia smiled as she realised that Arthur had filled him in on the fact that they were taking the villagers were with him. Not liking the news that Tristan had given Arthur Arlia jogged over to the scout and looked at him questioningly. He just nodded towards the people.
"Where are they coming from?" Arlia asked.
"North and South. We have to go east; it will take us behind the Saxon lines." Tristan filled her in.
By now all the amazons and their horses and the knights had gathered round a small stone hut, curiosity getting the better of them. Arlia sighed and jogged over to the house. Looking at the monks praying in front of it. She knew it was something to do with that house, of which the door had been bricked up. Someone wanted to hide something, she thought to herself. Shaking her head she looked over at Arthur, who now had the monks at the point of his sword.
"What is this?" Arthur enquired of the monks.
"You cannot go in there, no one goes in there. This place is forbidden." One monk explained as he was moved out of the way.
"Like I give a monkey's." Reseda muttered
"What are you doing, stop this!" Marius cried as he started to come over. Reseda and Bors went and got in his way.
"Arthur, we have no time." Protested Lancelot as Arthur checked the bricked up door.
"Do you not hear the drums?" Galahad asked, looking to Reseda.
"I have selective hearing." Reseda smiled sweetly.
"Dagonet." Arthur ordered.
Dagonet swung off his horse, taking down his battle axe as he went. After he approached the door he attacked it, making Arlia jump. Reseda had jumped as well, but covered it well, by riding over to Arlia, leaping down she leant to her friend's ear.
"Couldn't you just knock?" She asked, making Arlia hide a smile behind her face.
"Key?" Arthur's question to the guards sounded more like an order.
"It is locked. From the inside." The guard said, inching away.
Arthur nodded to Dagonet, who started to knee the door. Reseda muttered something about, what happened to enquiring about a lock picker, as she walked off, making Arlia smile. Another thing about Reseda was she was an accomplished lock picker, and was willing to share her talent with anyone, although it had got the riders out of more than one tough spot a couple of times. After two kicks the door gave way and all of the knights apart from Galahad and Tristan stayed out of that place. Xanthe, Marpessa, Myrina and Xena stayed out at a shake of the head from Arlia, while Reseda and Bremusa were allowed in. The other girls looked about to protest, but when they got a smell of the stench that were coming out they visibly paled and Marpessa grimaced and ran off.
Tristan came and stood next to Arlia, who stood to one side of the door. She looked at him and he shrugged. Walking over to Yildiz she whistled for the mare, who came willingly to her mistress's hand. Tristan smiled at the woman, who made a great fuss of the horse, who enjoyed it. Walking up behind her Tristan made her jump when he placed a hand on Yildiz's flank. The horse juddered, but when she realised the new person meant no harm she calmed down. For a few minutes Arlia muttered soothing words to her horse, before turning to the scout.
"How did you know she wouldn't bite?" She asked.
"She's yours, and you were with her." Tristan explained.
"You would have been adopted back into our tribe." Arlia sighed sadly.
"Our?" Tristan asked, confused.
"Sir Knight, your grandmother's disagreement should not be held against you. Welcome back into the tribe." Arlia kissed Tristan lightly on the cheek before walking over to where Reseda and the others were standing.
Tristan stood stunned looking at Arlia as she walked away. She had a smile on her face and a spring in her step, something which he hadn't seen in her step since he'd known her. He also noted that the others hadn't seen it in a while either, as Reseda came up and whispered something in her ear, which made her laugh. At that all the amazons gathered around to see what was wrong with their leader. Arlia waved away the younger four, leaving Bremusa and Reseda. She explained something to the two of them that made them all laugh. But all merriment was soon over when Arthur came out holding a woman, and Dagonet holding a boy.
"Water, bring me some water." Arthur called.
Arlia rushed over to Yildiz. Tristan, who had already got the water bottle out handed it to her. She smiled her gratitude before running over to the boy. Marius' wife had gone over to see to the woman, who as Tristan pointed out, was a woad. The boy had a broken arm which would have to be set before too long. Both the boy and woman coughed when they received water. Marius walked over, looking outraged.
"You, you kept them alive!" He cried out to his wife, before he slapped her round the face.
Reseda ran straight over to him. She smiled at him before she punched him in the stomach. When he was down Reseda went to attack again, but Arlia was there to hold her back. Arthur took over, taking his sword to Marius' throat, which made him wave off his guards.
"When we get back to the wall I will have you punished for this heresy, both of you." Marius nodded to Reseda, who went to attack him again.
"Perhaps I should kill you now." Arthur pulled Marius towards the blade.
"Don't, he's not worth it, too much blood's been spilt on his account." Arlia spat.
"But all these people are pagans." Marius said.
"That does not condemn them to death. I thought the church was understanding." Arlia spat, becoming more and more upset.
"They would not do the task God has set for them!" Marius cried.
"What, so they refuse to be your serfs?" Arlia shouted.
"You understand, you are a Roman, and you are a Christian." Marius said to Arthur.
"I was willing to die with them, yes to show them the way, these sinners have to be sacrifice, only then can their souls be saved." One of the monks, the one who had been walled up spoke up.
"Then God shall have his wish, wall them up." Arthur spoke his voice deadly quiet.
"Arthur." Lancelot warned.
"I said wall them up!" Arthur shouted.
Before anyone could do anything to the monk Arlia had walked straight over to him and head butted him in the face. She then punched him in the face and stomach. Reseda and Bremusa ran straight over to Arlia, trying to stop her from killing the monk. In the end it took both of them to pull her off the monk, who was now cowering on the floor. In the end Arlia seemed to calm down, and whistled for Yildiz, without a look back at the monk, who was now being bundled back into the building. Arlia stopped next to Marius, who was still cowering on the floor.
"You bastard! You would kill innocent children for no reason." Arlia cried.
"What's the matter with her?" Galahad asked Reseda.
"It's better if you don't know." Reseda said, serious for once.
"What do you mean?" Marius asked.
"That poor boy! And maybe you should ask others what happened to my tribe, women and children! My twin sisters and their boys and girls!" Arlia almost screamed.
All the knights and some of the younger amazons looked shocked at the fact that this usually calm leader had totally lost it. They knew she hated Romans, they knew what had happened to her family. But none of them knew how she really felt about it, apart from maybe Reseda and Bremusa. They knew she hadn't grieved for her family, which they knew she needed to do, and now they thought she might actually become more of a person again after this strange outburst. Arthur looked the most shocked, and Marius looked scared, as he didn't quite know what this unpredictable woman was going to do quite next…
Author's note: Tee hee. Thought I'd leave it on a bit of a cliff-hanger. Arlia's finally lost it about her family. One thing about the Amazons marrying in with the native tribes. That may be, but I'm going with a particular book I read, and its sequel, so I took my artistic licence and used it. Normal routine.