Disclaimer: I don't own King Arthur or any of its characters. The King Arthur movie is the property of Touchstone Pictures. So there is no copyright infringement intended, nor do I intend to tick anyone off – so please don't sue me, I'm poor enough already and all you'll get is a rustbucket car and a load of rescue animals that make Tristan look like a cakewalk! But I do own the story itself and the characters of Kit and other non-King Arthurian types…. :O) I've tried to use real Sarmatian tribal names as much as possible here; additional tattoos mentioned and any sayings/spells are invented by me though.
I see we cannot reply to reviewers on our chapters anymore and for that I'm sorry. However, I will endeavour to answer you as per the new regime where possible. Thank you to my regular R&R's hope you like this story too.
This is my seventh King Arthur fanfic; it is still based on the 2004 film.. I do not intend to rip off any other writer (I just can't wade through so many pages of stories to check – they keep growing daily - I'd lose the will to live!) so if this premise has been done before I'm sorry, I just hope mine is different enough for it not to be too boring. But if I digress from the movie and stuff a little, don't shoot me as I'm old and the brain (what little I have) is not what it used to be. Plus I might also change things to fit the story a little better –sorry. But that is what artistic license is all about! LOL
I've been in hospital and was quite poorly – have now got major writer's block on my other fics right now; my best friend was saying out much she loved the darker stuff I did with 'Little Bird and the Hawk' and really wanted me to do this story – so here it is. I don't know how long it will be and this one, too, will be a Tristan/OC pairing; though I will obviously bring the others into it too. In truth, how could I leave them out?
It's going to be fairly dramatic/romantic (I can't help it!) and maybe have a little humour, in places anyway….. It is nothing but fluff, so if you don't like romance and stuff please don't read it. The main character, Kit, is abrupt and says only a little – though she understands the world, unlike Tari in 'Wild Child' and is not mute like Jules 'Little Bird….'.
This story is before they set out to get Germanius' little pet, Alecto. It starts before the film - the last mission, etc will still take place, but things will be different, including the end; hope that's clear – well, clearer than mud anyway!
All reviews, and constructive criticism, gratefully received – but no flaming please; and I will try to update regularly.
Anyway…on with the show!
Chapter One – Animal
She flew round and round with her blades, almost as if dancing and Eight watched in awe as the pretty lady twirled and pirouetted cutting down imaginary foe in the stables. Her blades almost whistled as they whisked through the air; every so often she would rub one edge against the other, blade against blade – the sound was wonderful, almost as if they sang their own strange song.
The horses stood and watched in rapt attention too, the Andalusian grey that belonged to Tristan was the most attentive it seemed; and the little girl had to stifle a giggle as the horse swayed its head in time to her movements as if truly watching.
Suddenly the woman stopped breathlessly; her dusky blond hair swinging into her eyes – the dark blue orbs narrowed suspiciously and Eight drew further back into the shadows, stifling her gasp.
Slowly though the narrowed eyes ghosted upwards and the 5 year old breathed out silently with relief that she had not been discovered. She watched, rapt, as the two blades were spaced apart as the woman seemed to listen intently, eyes closed as if placing some sound only she could hear and then jabbed her blades upwards………..a loud male shriek rent the air and Eight recognised it as Lancelot.
She saw the woman allow herself a brief smirk, reminding the child of the scout….who was scarier than even she before her.
"What the bloody hell!" He yelled, almost throwing himself down the ladder from the hayloft "Galahad if that was you or Bors then I swear your balls are mine for breakfast!"
He found himself however, confronted with two blades and a pair of very deep blue eyes glaring at him. "Who in Hades are you?"
She hissed at him and swung out with the blades, Eight did not hang around any longer – she would be in trouble if she hurt a knight; and, after she had given her an apple just this day, Eight was not happy about that. If she was aught like Tristan she did not hand out apples lightly. "MA! MA! Come quick, MA!" she yelled as she ran swiftly to the tavern….
However, most of the knights had been milling around and had heard Lancelot shout so were already surrounding the woman when Van skidded into the door "NAY! Leave him girl – leave him. He means thee no harm! He was probably bedding a maid up there……not spying on you!" She yelled at her.
The blade wavered slightly and Lancelot lunged at her, earning himself a deep cut on the arm and the defensive stance once more. "KIT! Please lass, do not! They are as proud as you and they will not back down if you corner 'em, no more'n you would." Van cried desperately.
With a growl Kit lowered the blades slightly, but all could see she was still deeply wary. The knights looked on as Lancelot nursed his arm and Van edged forward "remember me telling you about the knights lass? Well this is them." She waved her arm round the men "they mean you no harm lass….most are like you, aye?"
Kit stared hard at Arthur, before sneering at him and glaring at Van "Aye, aye - I know, I know. He is a roman….but only half." She added quickly "he will not harm thee….he will not."
The other looked unconvinced, but waved her blade at the dark knight "oh that is Lancelot…..the one with all the women…."
Kit hissed at him, like an angry cat Arthur mused, and Lancelot stepped back "Nay, lass he beds only those who are willing…truly; I would not lie." another wave, another knight "That there is Gawain – a good lad, and next to him is one who could be his brother; Galahad."
Kit snorted at Galahad, almost derisively Arthur noted, and then waved her blade between Dag and Bors "that one is my lover Bors, I told you of the great brute; and next to him is his best friend – Dagonet." Blue eyes glared at them to start, but softened and they all saw a smile ghost over her face as she stared at them. Van had obviously told her something funny about those two.
Suddenly without turning, her smaller blade flashed behind her and caught Tristan as he came behind her – the point right in front of his throat "nay, nay! That is the scout; remember me telling you of him?" Large blue mistrustful eyes swung round and regarded him "he will not hurt thee so long as you do not threaten him or us….." Van thought for a minute "He loves apples as much you." the small woman nodded at him desperately not to move "he will not harm you Kit – he is like you…..Sarmatian, they all are; well, all except for Arthur, so they will not hurt their own."
The other woman stepped back, lowering her swords only slightly; pressing the blade of one into her cheek indicating her tattoos. Van nodded "Aye that is right. Just like yours; even the same tribe, our scout. They will not hurt you, I swear – not Arthur neither."
The blades lowered some more, but her readiness to fight was still as clear as day. She growled and stalked out, stopping by Van on the way. The men all looked at Bors' lover but then realised the other had disappeared as quick as a mist. Tristan went to follow "Nay, Tris – leave her go; you will not want to tangle swords with that one, mark me." Van caught at his arm.
"If he wants to cut the vixen's throat, bloody let him!" snarled an angry Lancelot; only to earn a cuff from Van.
"You shut your mouth! She has had a crap life thus far, so leave her be! Let me tell you of her before you start trying to kill the poor wench."
"Nay, you will not let her be killed pa – say you will not!" Eight had fetched reinforcements, and Four stepped out of the shadows "She was nice to our Eight and ma not three days past – saved our little 'un here from a randy roman when you lot were out doin' yur soldierin'." The 10 year old said "Say you will not let death be her reward."
Bors looked at Vanora "is that true?"
"Aye – they would have done some bad stuff to our Eight and me if it were not for her…….cut their heads clean off she did." Van smiled.
Bors looked at his elder daughter "Then she will not die at my blade, nor our Dag's."
"Their heads?" Galahad put in "How many were there?"
"There was the one who had hold of our Eight, and then two others; she slaughtered all three in a breath" Van glanced at Tristan "enjoyed it too she did – though you would not know to look at her, until the end. Face and voice as passive as yours; but when they were all dead there was that smirk….like she had took pleasure in it." She shuddered.
"She talks?" Arthur was surprised.
"Aye – when she has aught to say, quiet like though she is – she was a slave long time back; and they threatened to cut out her tongue for speaking out of turn, so she speaks quietly even now. Did you not hear her talk to me as she left, after I said you would not harm her?" They all shook their heads; all but the scout.
"I did." Muttered Tristan.
"What she say then?" asked a still irritated Lancelot.
"She said 'not unless Rome commands it – no free will for slaves."
"I am not a slave!" roared the dark knight "I never have been!"
"Well, to her what else would you call what we do?" reasoned Gawain "We are given orders by Rome and we carry them out." He turned to Van "You said we were like her; that she is from the same tribe as Tris here."
"Aye, she is Iazyges." Tristan glanced over and Van nodded "she is…..she can even speak your mother tongue. Kept it up – said the roman pigs could take her from the land, but not the land from her." She tapped her chest "in here, she says it is safe."
"Why did you have to reassure her that Lancelot did not take women by force?" Arthur asked quietly, seven pairs of eyes looked expectantly at the small woman.
Once more Four spoke up "she was raped, she sleeps in the stables here and I came to check on her the other night; felt I owed her after she had helped us – she was 'avin' a terrible nightmare; thrashin' round fit to kill she was…..when she sat up sudden like and I found a sword at me throat. Then she realised it were me, and sank back. I gathered from what she was yellin' what had happened and when I asked her outright she nodded. All she said was "four." I guessed that was how many had her."
"Romans?" Arthur asked.
"I do not know Arthur – she never said more about it, and none of us lot have had the guts to ask." The young girl eyed Tristan warily "she scares us as much as he do."
"She do not scare me" Eight piped up at last "she a nice lady and I will not be yous friends if yous hurt her. She gave me an apple, and everythin'." She glared as much like Kit as she could at them, even her pa.
Bors stifled the smirk "you like 'er then my little wench, eh?" he picked her up and hugged her, only now realising how close he had come to losing her, and mayhap her mother.
"I do pa, we all do – do we not Four?" she looked to her older sister for support.
"Aye we do pa, we do. She has met all us little bastards and she is alright. I would not say she loves us, but she tolerates us like he do." She shuddered as she glanced once more at Tristan "though I will not say I are not frightened of her – she is not one I would cross, put it that way. She is too good with those bloody blades of hers."
"How did you find her name out Van?" Arthur asked once more.
"I do not know if it is her name to tell true. That is what folk here call her – Kit or Kitty. Like a cat see, they joke that them blades are her claws; and she growls like a cat – you know how they do when they'm angry. I ain't never seen them blades sheathed and she been here a week now." Van sighed sadly before adding "They also say the name serves an animal like her well."
Arthur nodded "We should go back to the table and discuss this further. She is too dangerous to be just left to roam. Mayhap someone could persuade her to stay at the fort."
"Aye – good luck with that." Four rolled her eyes "everyone roundabout here is too bloody frightened of her to even look sideways at her. We do not even know what she did with the bodies of those Romans her killed." she looked at Arthur askance and whispered "Some say she ate them."
Van cuffed her daughter round the head "and I told you that was bloody rubbish!" she looked at Arthur as Bors smiled ruefully at his elder daughter, too used to such blows himself, as his lover continued "She probably just dumped them in the woods near here. Any Woads what bothered her would have joined them, on that I have no doubt….so she has naught to fear."
"I agree Van; but it still adds weight to any stories about her….." he sighed "Mayhap we should persuade her to stay with us then, you possibly could talk to her? She seems to trust you."
By now they had reached the round table…….at Lancelot and Tristan's places was a bright red, polished apple each.
"Peace offering" Van smiled "she has obviously thought about what I said to her." She glanced at the two knights with a grin "make the most of it boys, she will not do it again; she covets 'er apples more'n Rome covets gold."
Lancelot rolled his eyes with a snort, but ate it anyway. Tristan said and did nothing except slowly devour it; but Van saw the brief softness in his eyes and smiled – that man did adore an apple.
"I will see what I can do Arthur. But mind me, she is a tough 'un. You will have your work cut for you with her…..she do not take orders – in fact she do not take kind to folk at all; keeps herself to herself mainly, I reckon I am the only one she talks to asides my little brood of bastards."
"Mayhap I can speak to her also though - show her we mean well?"
"Doubtful – she do not trust Romans, not nowhere. But who knows - do you want to talk to her now? I know where she goes…"
"Nay…..we have no more missions for a few days – leave it some time for all things to cool and then bring her; what of the day after the morrow?"
"Aye, right enough I reckon – couple of days for tempers to cool would help; for she is fierce prickly on a good day." Van smiled.
So it was that two days later Van was herding an obviously reluctant Kit to the round table.
When the small woman entered, the other held back. They were of similar stature, similar figure – but there the similarities ended. Kit wore no gown, but breeches and shirt; and as all the knights looked on, sure enough her blades were in her hand and they had had reports that that was where they always were just as Van said.
"Kit come in….they will not bite thee." she chided her friend gently.
"I care naught if they do – I will bite back." Was the quiet but bitter reply as dark blue eyes glared mistrustfully round the table.
"Will you sit with us lady?" Arthur asked as they all stood.
Kit glanced round, genuinely looking for another female until realising they meant her. She rolled her eyes "I are not no lady, Roman! I am just me……I will stand." Van sucked her teeth irritatedly and she sighed and intoned "thank you muchly all the same."
"We will not harm you." sighed Lancelot in exasperation; not knowing why they offered the olive branch to such a one as she.
"You will not, true enough; not and keep breathing anyhow." She nodded in agreement, glaring at him. He went to speak and she sighed in irritation "shut up – I care not for your pretty words, so waste no breath on flattery. I see what I am and embrace it."
Arthur stifled the smile at Lance's surprised face "How old are you and what should we call you?"
She considered him for a moment, rather like a cat weighing up if it can kill the bird quickly and not get pecked in the process he felt; and found it not a little unnerving – the only other to stare so resolutely and in such a way was Tristan. Finally she spoke "I am five and thirty winters and call me Kit….that is what all do."
"Is that your given name?" Galahad asked.
"It matters not. Call me Kit, or wench, or…" she paused and stared hard at Lancelot "Vixen." His eyes snapped up and she did smile then, albeit briefly "Call me what 'ere you will……." She shrugged and then turned to Arthur "I can go; or am I prisoner?"
He grimaced "You are no prisoner to us; we wish only to have to stay with us – Van considers you friend and we find it better to stick together here. Outsiders do not like us."
"None like me – I care not, I like being alone."
"Why?" Arthur did not like it, she sounded far too much like his scout; but he wondered if mayhap through her he could gain an insight into what Tristan had become.
She shrugged again "It is easier – no one to care for, no one to hurt for, no one to worry when I die." Conversely she finally sat down, resting her blades on her shoulders she went to put her feet on the table but stopped "Who is...Per-ci-val?" she sounded out the name. Obviously she could read a little; barely, but at least a little. That is something the commander before her resolved to put right quickly.
She marked each man and saw the one called Tristan flinch. "He was friend to you then?" He made no move or sound in reply; she stared at him and went to rest her muddy boots deliberately on the name. He tensed and she raised an eyebrow "if he was no friend to you, you should care naught about my boots."
"He was friend." It sounded like it was dragged from him.
"Dead?" her feet still hovered; he still tensed, his eyes only on her feet.
She put her feet back on the floor "Then I will not disrespect his memory so." He relaxed slightly. Deep blue eyes unblinkingly regarded the knights; one looked away, Galahad – she did not miss it.
"You…." she cast about for his name and gave up "...pup, you do not like me?" He continued to stare at the table; she stood "No matter….I will not lose sleep because a pup cannot like a bitch."
She touched Tristan on the shoulder "I have sorrow for your loss…." And she was gone.
Arthur glared at the youngest knight "you disrespected her Galahad; she did not deserve it."
Defiant eyes looked up "You have not heard the stories I have! She is little more than an animal!"
A movement caught Arthur's eye and he saw Tristan striding to the door "Well do I know how that insult hurts one of our number Galahad; and I am angry you should use it so on another with no proof."
Tristan glared at them, knowing it was of him that Arthur spoke first "Animals have no feelings to hurt Arthur, so worry not on my part."
Galahad earned cuffs round the head from both Gawain and Van……
It was another week before the knights themselves got to see her in action. They knew from Jols she still slept in the stables – Tristan learning it was she that had helped heal the lameness of his horse.
"She did some strange things with some herbs and salves Tris. Made him well in no time flat." The squire smiled "Bloody brute adores her."
"No one approaches him but you and I." Tristan muttered.
"Well that was before and this is now." Jols nodded "coz she bloody can; I seen it with me own eyes."
Tristan sighed in irritation, just as the sound of metal being sharpened caught his ears; he quirked an eyebrow at Jols.
"She is sharpening her swords – I reckon they would split hairs they would. When she ain't using 'em she is either cleanin' or sharpenin' 'em." He smiled.
Tristan nodded "good warrior would." He walked off.
Later that night he and the others were making their way back from the tavern…..well, he and the others were; they just happened to bump into Arthur on his way back from a Christian meeting.
Tristan was the first to see her – out in the training field. Hair flying, doing the same movements and steps that Eight had witnessed. He made sure they stood downwind and in the shadow of the garrison building, so she could not sense they were there.
All the men were transfixed "it is like she is dancing!" whispered a bewitched Galahad.
"Not bad for an animal eh?" Tristan muttered to him.
"I would say she has your knack for killing Tris." Dag murmured in awe.
Suddenly it began to rain – great, fat drops fell and then they heard it. She began to sing, albeit quietly; her arms outstretched, blades twirling like liquid silver in the wet. It did look as if indeed she was dancing as she sang. Arthur had the strangest feeling that if she knew they were there, hidden in the shadows of their barracks wall, she would probably cut them down where they stood; though the reason why escaped him……but he felt she would do it.
They could not hear all the melody only what drifted their way; but they stood and watched as she continued to let the rain pour down on her, now just twirling round in the rain – soaking it up, relaxing even as they stared; unaware of them, of anything…..
Soon her breeches and shirt were clinging to her soaking body and she shivered slightly; she, finally, scabbarded her blades; and, picking up her cloak, she swung the equally as wet fabric round her shoulders and walked away still quietly humming the tune. Seemingly uncaring of the pouring rain, her face turning up to it at intervals as she went to the stables.
Arthur looked at the others "No animal there…."
Galahad blushed, but remained defiant "not many at the fort would agree with you."
"They did not witness that."
"Singing does not make her less the animal Arthur" Galahad pressed "she would still kill without compunction; just like Tristan."
"That 'animal' has saved your life more than once boy." Dagonet grumbled to the youngest knight as Tristan merely turned and walked off.
"I meant no offence."
"Well it was taken all the same. You do not like being called 'pup' or 'boy' do you Gal?" Gawain put in, his friend and brother sulkily shook his head.
"Well imagine how much worse it is being called 'animal' all the time; especially by those you consider friends and brothers."
Galahad's sulk deepened "I only say what others do."
"If 'others' jumped off a cliff would you follow then?"
Galahad rolled his eyes and stalked off; Gawain turned to Arthur "I do not like it…calling Tris that."
"Neither do I; but I do not see our silent friend changing any time soon, and so it will continue."
Just then a jet black horse came out of the stables at a trot with Kit on its back; she urged the animal past them, merely glaring in their direction.
"She really do not like us much do she?" Bors queried sadly.
"I do not think it has aught to do with 'like' Bors, more trust – she does not trust us. Sadly, in a way, that is worse." Arthur sighed as they watched her disappear through the gates.
Only Gawain and Dag noticed Tristan standing on the battlements watching her leave.
"Like to like." The blond knight muttered to the larger one; both nodded before they turned away. In truth there were as wary of the scout as they were the wench……what did that say about them, they who were supposed to know him best?