A/N: I don't know Sarmatian. I don't even know if there are still records of a Sarmatian language. The "Sarmatian" name Galahad calls the Dark Child, is actually Farsi. Artistic license, thank you very much.

Chapter One

Artorius Castus and his legendary Sarmatian Knights were riding hard toward the Wall. They'd succeeded in their mission, but were trying to avoid an unnecessary and possibly bloody battle with the Woads. Galahad arched forward, his horse floundering as an arrow pierced through his shoulder plates and embedded deeply into his shoulder. Gawain and Arthur both stopped at the cry. "Galahad!" Gawain shouted, riding hard toward his friend.

Galahad dismounted, his injured arm tucked tightly to his chest. "I have to stop. I can't breathe." Galahad groaned, pressing his forehead into his horse's flank.

"We can't stop, Galahad. They'll be on us in seconds."

"Leave me. I'll catch up. I can't make it, I'm sorry."

Gawain looked helplessly at Arthur and was horrified to see him nod. "We can't leave him behind."

Galahad chuckled. "I'll be fine. I'll stay out of sight. Just promise, you'll come back to get me."

Gawain nodded sharply. "You have my word brother. Stay alive."

Galahad nodded, clasping arms with his best friend, before watching the fifteen remaining knights ride hard for the Wall. Hearing the Woads behind him, he pushed himself into the foliage and sat back against a tree. His sword was held in his good hand, and his ears strained to hear voices. However, soon the blood loss caught up with him, his eyes slipped closed and he slept.

When he woke, he was startled to see a Woad child crouched in front of him. When he went to speak, she shook her head and placed a gentle finger to his lips. "Don't speak. They'll hear you," she ordered. In Sarmatian, the tongue of Galahad's birth.

He stared at her in shock and surprise, but did as she said. "Close your eyes. You're going to be all right. Do not open them until I tell you."

He nodded, unsure of why he trusted the nymph in front of him. His eyes closed and no sooner had they closed, that he heard a Woad shout at the girl. "Why haven't you killed him yet!"

"I have no reason. He's injured."

"Fine then, I'll kill him." With the voice came the chilling sound of an iron blade against a scabbard.

Galahad withheld a flinch purely by strength of will. There was a rustle and next thing he knew, the girl was standing in front of him, the fabric of her dress brushing his nose. "You will do no such thing. He is injured and I shall lay claim to him."

"He's Roman!"

The girl chuckled slightly, before replying, "Correction, he's Sarmatian. A defeated, and forcibly drafted, Roman enemy. That puts him on our side, purely by accident of birth. I have no fight with Arthur or his Knights, only with Rome. Now be gone. Tell Merlin I went home."

The Woad grumbled, but left at her behest. "You may open your eyes now, Sarmatian," she whispered, crouching to examine his wound.

Opening his eyes, he found that he could not be concerned about her closeness. Not when she was so young and apparently so powerful that full-grown men heeded her word and Merlin himself would want to know her whereabouts. "Who are you?"

"Merlin calls me Dark Child. What is your name?" she asked, the language she used still the language Galahad had grown up using.

He stayed silent. He trusted her, yes, but not that much. She smiled. "That's all right. I shall just call you 'Sarmatian' then. Can you mount your horse, Sarmatian?"

He nodded, levering himself to his feet. Her arm looped around his waist and she steadied him as they walked slowly to the white stallion, called Dar, that stood silently off to the side. Galahad swung up unsteadily, swaying slightly. The Dark Child swung up in front of him, taking the reins in a firm, capable grip. "We're not that far from where I live. Hold on till then, and I'll take the arrow from your back."

He nodded, leaning forward against her gratefully. She patted his thigh and then urged the horse forward with a small click of her tongue. Her home was a rather large sized hut, built in Sarmatian style. She assisted Galahad in dismounting and led him gently into the house. Grabbing two knives from the table, she shoved the blades into the hot coals. "Come, let's get that arrow out, shall we?"

He nodded, sitting heavily on the only bed in the room. Moving slowly, and stopping whenever she caused him pain, she helped Galahad take off his tunic and boots. The kilt remained, preserving Galahad's modesty and peace of mind. Cutting the feathers from the arrow caused a flinch and the Dark Child's hands caressed his back, trying to bring some modicum of comfort. Checking the blades, she ripped a piece of cloth into long strips. "All right, I'm going to push the arrow through."

He nodded, closing his eyes tightly. She wrapped her arm around his neck and shoulders, standing at his back. "Ready?"

He grunted in affirmation, arching forward in pain as she shoved the arrow through quickly. Her hand gripped the shaft and tugged it the rest of the way through. Grabbing a thick lint pad, she pressed it to the gushing wounds. Galahad was panting hard, his body slumping forward. Her bloodless hand smoothed over his forehead, soothing him in the language of his birth. "Easy, Sarmatian, easy. The easiest part of it is over. The worst is still to come."

Reaching for a knife, she tightened her grip on his body and cauterized the wound in his back with a firm steady hand. Galahad struggled in her arms, too tired to break free. The smell of burning flesh caused his stomach to rebel, and he leaned forward, retching into a basin she held in front of him. Her hands smoothed gently along his spine, her voice gentle and calm. When he had stopped shaking, she reversed her grip and cauterized the exit wound as well. When it was over, she tipped Galahad onto his side. "It's over, Sarmatian. It's all over, I promise. Sleep now."

His eyes slipped closed and all he could say was, "Dar."

"Rest your eyes and heal. I shall tend to your stallion. A magnificent creature." Her voice was soft as she spoke about his horse and soon he fell to sleep to the sound of it.

The next day, Gawain and Bors rode fast and light to where they had left Galahad. "There's no sign of him," Gawain growled an hour later, after extensively searching the area.

"Maybe the Woads captured him."

"They don't take prisoners of Knights. They kill us. That's not it." Gawain snapped, before sighing. "I'm sorry, Bors. I'm just worried about him. He's the youngest. I promised when we got here I would protect him."

"Galahad knows that. Maybe he left on his own. Come, let's search the surrounding area."