So I am actually planning on keeping my updates to once a fortnight, well that is the plan anyway. This chap starts from when she lands in Britain. Continue reading to find out who the mysterious Artorius Castus is and how he is linked with Pax's future.
Just to reiterate the fact that I own nothing of 'King Arthur' or 'The Last Legion' (sighs)
So if you want to sue me over this story, all you are going to get is my collection of Porcelain Dolls!
Hope you all enjoy!!!
"Arriving on the Island of Britain"
"ALL ASHORE!" calls the captain loudly as all the passengers scurry off the ship. I am last to get off as I have Peyton with me. We descend down the wooden plank and on to the hard stones that are meant to pass off as beach. I mount Peyton and look for the old lady from the ship; unfortunately she has disappeared, so I start to make my way towards the city gates.
I reach it and find that it leads to a dirt road running along Hadrian's Wall; which will hopefully take me to the township where this Artorius Castus is. It's funny every time I say his name; something in the back of my mind goes off, like I have heard it before, but where?
It is cold, but I cannot be bothered with my scarf, none of the women here keep their faces covered anyway. I take the bright piece of material and wrap it around my wrist as I continue to ride along. It is wonderful not to have to have my face covered; even as the frigid air as it blows against my face, I revel in the fact that I can stand as an equal here.
I am hanging out for a warm bath and a soft bed; after over 3 months of sleeping on a lumpy sleeping bag it will be nice to have a 'home' again. Peyton trots patiently on while I fumble with my bag to keep it on my shoulder, unfortunately it slips and 'SPLAT' lands in the middle of a muddy puddle.
I groan loudly as I hop of Peyton to pick it up, as I bend over I am pushed and lose balance causing me to land butt first in the wet slimy mud. "Who was that?!" I yell turning around to face a group of boys not much older than myself; dressed a hell of a lot nicer than me and all wearing disgusting smirks on their smug little faces.
"Why, what are you going do about it princess?" says the boy in front, running a thin finger along my jaw. I turn my head and bite it, hard breaking the skin. "Ow!!" he yelps and brings his finger to his mouth. "Ooh, that looks bad!" I say mockingly "You might wanna wrap that up." I laugh as I turn back towards Peyton.
"Hey, you can't do that!" yells another boy. "Who says?!" I yell back, "I DO!!!" yells finger boy as he steps forward and takes a swing at me, he hits me right in the eye. I blink once, twice 'damn that's gonna bruise'!
"Stupid common girl, learn your place!" he says haughtily. "You stuck up bastard!" I scream as I swing my fist, connecting with his jaw and producing a bone crunching crack. "Ahhh!" he yells stumbling backwards.
"You're going to pay for that!" the other boy calls as finger boy reaches for his sword. "Romulus is the best swordsman in all Britain; he can best all the guys in class. And he can definitely best a GIRL!" he spits out the word like it's something disgusting.
"Don't you mean best swords-BOY?!" I reply with a smirk as I draw my blade. He attacks quickly but with little thought; and I simply step out of the way as he slips on the mud and falls. I laugh out loud as he gets back up. We parry a few times and I pretend to yawn, he really is too predictable, I have learnt every step he makes within 5 minutes and can easily deflect his every blow.
"We done yet boy?" I ask he turns to face me, but I am confused because for some reason he looks triumphant. "I'm not, but you are!" I turn to see a dozen guards heading towards us, "Damn!" I say as I run for Peyton only to be tripped by Romulus, who grabs the back of my shirt and lifts me up. "Here soldiers, take this one away, she will be dealt with tomorrow." He says haughtily with a menacing chuckle. "Yes Romulus!" they reply.
Romulus releases my arm but the guards are not fast enough as I whip out my dagger and turn quickly swiping at his face. "No, not my face!" he cries as blood drips down his cheek revealing a long gash traveling down the length of his face. "Whoops, must have slipped I hope it doesn't scar!" I call out as I'm dragged away.
"Get in there!" yells the guard as he throws me into a holding cell. My weapons were confiscated and Peyton was in the stables next to jail. It was cold and dark and the only thing in here besides me was a concrete block which I think is supposed to double as a seat and bed. "So much for a bath and comfy bed!" I grumble. "Shut up!" yells the guard.
I make my way towards the concrete block and unwrap my scarf from my waist to create a make-shift pillow. I wrap my cloak around myself and try to ignore the chattering of my teeth as I struggle to sleep. Eventually the darkness of an uneasy sleep consumes me.
– PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA –
The next morning…
I wake to a clanging and a screech as the guards open my cell, "Get moving!" they yell as I make my way out only to be grabbed and shackled. This has got to be the absolute worst day of my life, I am about to be put on trial for attacking a pompous, arrogant boy who provoked the attack just because he is rich; and I look terrible! My black eye is sowing in all it's glory and I have a severely split lip, definitely not my best look!
"Not so tough now are we princess!" says Romulus as he walks up behind me, I swing my chained arms and hit him in the shoulder. "Ow!" he winces, "You were saying?" I ask. "Just wait till you meet with Arthur, then you will be begging for me to take mercy on you. He doesn't like trouble makers here, and you will not be dealt with mildly because you're a woman!" he snarls as he stalks off.
'Arthur?! I wonder who he is……probable just another stuck up rich official' I push the thought out of head as we enter the hall. Inside is a huge round table with young men scattered around it filling almost every seat. I am pushed to the one side of the hall while Romulus goes to the other. "Sir Arthur we come before you with a case of great urgency" reports one of the officials who is with Romulus.
"What is this case?" asks a young man with short wavy dark hair, fully dressed in official roman armor; he looks no more than 19 or 20. "I, Romulus the 3rd, was brutally attacked by this woman" he points at me "after I tried to help her after she had fallen of her horse. I demand justice on the part of myself, and discipline on the part of the trouble maker" replies Romulus. "Please note Sir that Romulus has sustained serious injury from this woman's attack. One of which will remain as a scar across his noble façade"
At this comment I forget all propriety of court and burst out laughing; causing the entire room to look at me. I am hit by both the guards that are by my sides in order to silence my disruption; the blows disorientate me for a few seconds before I am able to stand and glare at a smirking Romulus. The whole room, excluding Romulus, looks at me with open mouths. I'm sure that none of them have ever seen a woman stand up after that kind of beating; that is everyone except Romulus who has seen first hand how tough I am.
"What is your name girl?" asks one of the men at the table, "My name is Paxton Amerine Antonius, I am cousin to Aurelius Antonius former General of the Nova Invicta Legion in Rome." I say firmly. I see Arthur's eyes widen as everyone starts chattering amongst themselves at the mention of my relation to Aurelius.
During this I find the opportunity to smirk at a slightly nervous looking Romulus. I take this opportunity to look at the men sitting at the table, aside from the one called Sir Arthur there are about 9 other men making a total of 10 Roman officials who are probably sitting there contemplating what would happen if they were to detain a relative of the famous General Aurelius Antonius.
Sir Arthur stands and turns to me "Do you show remorse on behalf of your actions? We will not have trouble makers running around here, especially if they will not take responsibility for their actions. Do not think that the spouting of famous relatives will dissolve any transgressions" he informs me.
"I will not apologize to someone who disgraces my honor by pushing me into the mud or challenging me to a duel just because I am female. I have earned the right to defend against any attack whether that be in combat or speech. If you will hold me accountable for the wrongdoings of others then so be it, but I take God as my witness that the evils poured upon will be returned twofold upon those practicing injustice against others."
At the end of my speech I take the time to check the responses of those in the room. One man in particular catches my attention; he is sitting at the table with Arthur and the other men, he has slightly longer and curlier hair than Arthur, and is very handsome. But I find his face almost unreadable as he looks at me, I cannot tell if the steel in his eyes is because of disdain or respect. I am hoping the latter, for I do not want to form too many enemies just yet.
"We have reached a decision…" everyone is waiting with baited breath for Arthur to continue "Paxton Amerine Antonius since you show no remorse and have such a fondness for fighting you are hereby sentenced to 10 years service under the command of myself, Artorius Castus. Let this be a lesson that you will remember!" "NO!!!" I shout as I am dragged out of the hall. How could this be happening to me?!?! How could that be Artorius?!?!
Later that night……
'BANG!' the door to my cell swings open and a big burly guard stomps in.
"Collect your junk, Arthur's knights are here to get you!" he says loudly. I pick up my cloak and make my way outside, as soon as I step out of the door the wind whips at my hair and cheeks causing me to shiver. I head for the stables to get Peyton, I mount her and we trot slowly out of the stables towards two hooded men on horses. "Follow us" says one, "And stay close!" says the other.
We make our way through the township in the dark of night. I shiver again, as cold as it is during the day; it is twice a cold in the middle of the night. The village is silent; I am not used to this kind of eerie quiet. Back home there was always some sort of insect in the garden making noise at night, it was never like this.
"Well, you're definitely not from around these parts, not with those skills" says the one ahead of me, "So where are you from?" asks the one behind me. I stay silent, not desiring to converse with either of the men.
"We're not gonna do anything to you girl!" says the one behind me, "Just answer him, he won't shut up till you do!"
"Give it a rest Gawain."
"You know Galahad, not every girl will fall for you and your 'boyish' charm." says the one named Gawain, I can see the traces of a smirk by the moonlight shining on his face. He has long dark blonde hair and a scruffy beard to match; he looks nothing like the knights I have ever read about.
I turn to the other one, his hood now resting on his shoulders so I can now see his face. He has shorter brown hair and neater beard, but looks just as filthy as the other. "Jealous Gawain, I know getting older, must be difficult for you!" snorts Galahad.
Well if nothing else they are quite entertaining, if this banter continues on it should hopefully make some of my service easier. We continue on in silence till I lift my head and I say quietly "Keralaputra, India".
"What did ya say?!" asks Galahad, "I said I'm from Keralaputra in India."
"Oh, you're a Muslim then, hey?" inquires Gawain.
"No, I am originally from around here actually, but that was many years ago. I lived in Rome for bit but my family has passed, so I went to live with my cousins in India." I inform them.
They are quiet for a few minutes before Galahad pipes up saying "Sorry for your loss."
I smile at him and reply, "Thank you, but it's actually fine now, I have managed to adjust."
"We're here!" says Gawain as we slow to a stop in front of a huge metal gate. I can hear noises coming from inside, some laughter and some moan…..well let's just leave it at that. "Open the gate!" calls Galahad. At this the front door swings open and a man runs over with kings jangling in his hands, "Welcome back Gawain, Galahad! Is this our new recruit?! He's a bit scrawny for a fighter!" says the man as he opens the gate, by this time I have dismounted and am standing in front of the man at the gate.
"Sorry I don't meet your standards!" I say to him annoyed. After I finish he pushes the hood of my cloak off my head and his eyes widen, "My apologies miss, I didn't realize our new recruit was a girl". "That's because I'm not a girl; I am a WOMAN, thank you very much!" I state loudly, "Now where can I tie up my horse?"
"In the stables, but I will take her. You need to learn your way around your new quarters" says the man as he takes Peyton's reigns. I pull my knapsack off the saddle and turn to follow Gawain & Galahad inside.
As soon as I enter I feel relief from the cold, this island really does feel like hell, I thought it was only a term used by foreigners to describe the crudeness of the Roman Fort. I move slowly through the halls following the two knights as they march confidently up and down halls.
"Here ya go, this is your room." says Galahad as we come to a stop in front of a huge wooden door.
"I'm just down there" says Gawain pointing to an identical door two down, "and Galahad is right across from me".
I stare at the big door, then look back at the two men.
"If you have any questions, you better ask now" nudges Galahad.
I shake my head firmly.
"Ok; then you better get some rest. We'll be up at dawn tomorrow, for full day of training." informs Gawain.
"Get to see how good you really are!" concludes Galahad with a wink as the men make their way to their respective rooms.
I glare at his back for a moment, and then turn towards my door. I slowly push it open only to be met with a dim, cold room. I close the door and make my way towards the other side of the room and manage to pull back the heavy material acting as a curtain. The moonlight pours in through the narrow window, creating a long, narrow pool of light on the stone floor.
I turn to inspect my new 'home'; the room is of average size, not as big as my room at the Antonius home, but bigger than my guard quarters at the palace. To my left is a wooden bed with a big wooly blanket thrown over it and scratchy pillow propped at the end. I sit on it and grimace as it creaks loudly; I am a fidgety sleeper and that noise will not be conducive to a good nights sleep.
On the other side of the room is a long wooden table; on it lie a large ceramic jug accompanied by a matching bowl. There is also a candle, I walk over and place my bag next to it. I open it and place some parchment, my special pen from Manisha and an ink well that I got from Augustus on the table.
Taking my bag with me I make my way towards the end of the bed; there located at its foot is small wooden chest; after opening it I empty all my clothes and other personal items into the chest. Nodding satisfactorily at my domestic skill I close the chest and return to my bed.
But before I manage to lie down a shiver runs up my spine from the chill that is drifting through the window; I turn back towards the door and see that to the left of the door is a small fireplace. I smile at my luck and hurry over to light it. After a few failed attempts I finally manage to produce a spark, which after about 20 mins roars to life with a comforting crackling noise.
I tiredly make my way back to bed; not bothering to change I snuggle down into the blanket. Now in a comfortable bed, for the first time in what feels like forever, my thoughts wander to what tomorrow holds for me. Though I am scared and unsure of my new surroundings, I will not let that rob me of a good night's sleep, if I am indeed to be training with the men tomorrow I want to make sure that I will be well rested.
As the glow from the fire disappears behind my closing lids, I smile and slip quietly into the darkness of slumber.
– PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA – PAA –
Early the next morning… (very early) …
'splash' the warm water washes over my face, I rub my eyes and reach for the small linen cloth lying next to the large ceramic bowl. I towel off the excess water, then grabbing a much larger towel throw my head over causing my newly washed and damp hair to fling forward crating a spray of water on the floor; using the larger towel I carefully secure it around my hair so that I can finish getting ready.
I open the small wooden chest and pull out what clothes I have left; as I inspect my traveling clothes I see that beside my dark brown leather boots and my large hooded cape, the rest of my clothes have been seriously worn from the elements. I frown and quickly throw on a pair of pants which are now sporting a large hole on the left leg and a shirt that is stained from sand and mud. I unwrap the towel form my hair and plait it tightly; then I wrap it into a bun secured at the back of my head; even thought I have always loved my hair, especially at the long length that it is at now, it gets in the way when I fight. Hurriedly tugging on my boots and cloak I make my way towards the stables.
After exiting my room I try to remember the way that I took on the way in, only to get lost 3 times before finding the large main door. I push it open and creep out; from there I can easily make out the stables in warm light of the dawn. I pull my hood over my head, fastening the criss-cross straps across my chest so as not to loose it in my hastened steps towards the stable.
I reach the door only to find it locked; after signing dejectedly, I shrug it off and head towards the gate, glad to see that it has not been locked. Once outside I make my way down the street; as I turn the corner I am glad to find that there are only a few stalls open and that not many people are up yet.
I travel along the length of the street till I reach the stall I want; above it hangs a hand painted sign that says "men & woman's attire". I head towards the woman's side only to find it covered in bright girly fabrics made into long elegant dresses, screwing up my nose I turn towards the men's clothing. Grimacing at the severe practicality of the clothes, I select only those that I feel I could alter to make them more 'womanly' without being inappropriate.
"Can I help you?" asks a brunette woman nursing a child with another 2 at her side.
"Oh, hello! Yes I would like to purchase these items please" I reply handing her my armful of men's clothes.
She looks at me funny, "You're not form around here are you?" she asks.
"No, why do you ask?" I answer.
"Because I don't know a single woman in our township that would wear men's clothing!" she says with a laugh; "My name is Vanora, you must be the girl who was assigned to Arthur's troop".
"Yes, I am. But how did you know that?" I ask slightly shocked at her knowledge.
"My partner is one of his men, his name is Bors. Have you met him?"
"I haven't met many of the men yet. I needed some new clothes first." I say pointing to the pile in front of her.
"Oh, of course. You wouldn't be able to fight in a skirt" she says bursting into a raucous laughter.
After talking to Vanora some more about Arthur, the knights and the township, I bid her farewell, promising to return to see her again tomorrow. I hurry back 'home' as the sun is blazing over the top of the trees now and I know that the men would be getting ready.
I open the gate, and the door, then quietly make my way towards where I believe my rooms is; this time only getting lost once. I enter and quickly toss the clothes on my bed; pulling off my boots and cloak I grab the 3 linen shirts I just purchased. Pulling out my dagger I cut a 'V' in the front of the tops to allow movement and conformability, I then shorten the arms on one to about ¾ the length of my arm. I pull on the shortened one and fold the others neatly.
I then turn towards the pants, 1 pair black the other brown; I fold the black ones and place them with my other tops. Then, once again using my dagger, I make a long-ish incision down the side of both legs; using some thread and a needle from my bag I make the pants tighter at the bottom, perfectly fitted to my calves. I pull my boots back on, doing them up so that they are over my pants; I tuck my shirt in and grab my leather buckled belt / sheath placing it securely around my hips.
I take a look in the small mirror I was able to keep from cracking during my trip and decide to let out my bun. If I am going to be living here for the next 10 years, they should get used to the e fact that I am a woman now. My hair hangs just above my belt in a long golden plait. I smile and make my way outside, as I exit my room Galahad & Gawain are making their way out too.
"Good Morning Princess!" calls Galahad with a smirk.
"Good Morning Boys" I call back, slowing to fall into step with them.
"I prefer the term 'Men', 'Boys' is for whelps like…Romulus, he thinks he's good, but he's pretty sad at fighting. You sure you can handle dueling against real men?" he says, eyes sparkling as he baits me.
"Only if you can handle loosing to a woman!" I retort.
Gawain gives a deep laugh, "Come one you two, Arthur will be waiting!"
I smile lightly, and walk faster, I don't want my first day of training ruined by being late!
She shoots, and finally scores!
Another chap done!
Hope you all like it, the next one will pick up from here, her first day of training and the trouble she has with fitting in with some of the men!
Please review, I won't feel like continuing otherwise, life gets busy, and this gets pushed to the background, so reviews will make me want to write!