Hello Everyone! Welcome to my first King Arthur story! I have watched the movie many times and began to fall in love with it. You will be excited to know that I have all twenty four chapters of this story written down to the very end! So there will be no bailing out on it. The name Azalea isn't some random name that I just made up, it's actually the name of a flower & of my brand new beautiful baby niece that was just born the day before thanksgiving! :) I will be posting a new chapter every week, unless I have technical difficulties. Which I will then post the new chapter as soon as possible. Everything you recognize from the movie is not my property. As far as everything else, I have done research to the best of my ability and every location that I mention is a real location that existed in the ancient roman empire. Any historical mistakes that I make, I apologize for now. I am not a historian and this story is merely for mine (and my readers) enjoyment. I leave a week between chapters so that I have time to make last minute editing changes and to give time for people to review if they so choose. I would love to hear your comments so let me know what you think! With Love, BWR
The sun beat down hard upon the head of a young woman as she walked down a familiar path through the forest near her home. She had forgotten to bring a water-skin with her and she hadn't had anything to drink since the night before. This was only one of many reasons why she was so desperate to reach the river. It was a path that she had taken many times before as a child. The earth was smooth and cool beneath her bare feet. She carried her brown leather sandals in her hands. Her skin was tanned from the days sun and her lips parched from dehydration. The weather was perfect for a midday swim. The anticipation of such a venture, caused the woman to quicken her pace and within only a few moments, she broke forth from a bramble of bushes and in to a small clearing. Grass as green as emeralds laid sprawled out before her as if guiding her down to the shore of the river. She had reached her destination. The woman sat down on the bank slowly and leaned over, starring at her reflection upon the surface of the water.
There was nothing spectacular in her appearance. A curly mass of brown hair fell in disheveled waves down her slender back. She was thin, almost too thin from malnourishment. A poet would not dare compare her eyes to the stars that light up the night or the sky on a summers day. They were brown, the color of the earth. The young woman had known for quite awhile that she was no great beauty or heroine like you hear of in ancient tales.
Her name was Azalea. She was the daughter of Rhazba a farmer from southern Persian. A year after her birth, devastating circumstances had caused the family to flee thousands of miles away and settle in a small village east of the Island of Sinope, a Greek town along the coast of the Black Sea and that was where Azalea had remained for the majority of her life. Sinope had been under Persian dominion until Lucullus conquered it for Rome in 70 BC, and Julius Caesar established a Roman colony there. It has remained under Byzantine rule for as long as Azalea was alive upon the earth. It was now 467 AD, she was no more than six and twenty years old and the great Kings of her past and ruling dynasty's were the farthest thing from her mind.
From a young age Azalea was reminded daily that she was not wanted at home. Her mother had died while giving her life and her father could have no use of an only daughter. She could not fight, hunt or tend to the field. So her only goal was to be beautiful and marry well. Azalea grew to be neither. She was simple and to her that had always been enough. She had never wished for anything beyond what she had been given by the Gods.
Azalea reached her arms in to the air and smiled. She pulled her brown woolen gown over her head and then unlaced the white long sleeved blouse from beneath. Her linen undergarments were quickly tossed to the side as she slithered down in to the cool water, letting it engulf her in it's soothing embrace. Azalea remained below until her lungs were begging for air and then she stood to her feet, bursting forth from the surface. With her palms cupped together she brought a handful of water quickly up to her lips and then drank as much as she could before it ran through the creases of her fingers. It tasted pure and icy against her throat. She had always loved the clear fresh water that ran down from the mountains. Azalea smiled to herself and swam around for a few more moments before she climbed out and lay naked upon the grass. The sun began quickly drying her body with it's warmth. Sleep was about to take her when noises of movement in the forest behind her made her jump to her feet and quickly pull on her dress without hesitation. She was barely clothed and had no time to grab her sandals when an older woman came breaking forth from the shadow of the trees.
When the woman caught sight of Azalea, she grave a cry and knelt down to catch her breath. Her hands were placed on her chest to steady her heart. "Where have you been child?" the woman scolded in a tone that Azalea would recognize anywhere.
The name of the new arrival was Chrystania and she had been with Azalea since birth. She had taken her mothers place and as the years passed they had naturally become each others closest companion. Before Azalea could respond the older woman waved a frantic hand in the air. "Oh no matter, you must be quick! You must hurry. There is no time!" Panic in her voice seemed to shake Azalea from her daze.
"What is happening Chrysta?" Azalea asked before she would move an inch from where she was standing.
"The Romans are here, we must leave now. We must go or we will all perish." Azalea gasped and her eyes grew wide in fear.
The Roman military had extinguished all but a handful of the Persian population from the Island of Sinope more than a century ago and from it's surrounding colonies. Yet every so many years they would return once more to control the population. Azalea's olive complexion and brazen brown eyes were a clear indication that she was of Persian heritage. She would be killed without hesitation, or worse. She had always known this time would come and yet she was highly unprepared for action when it finally arrived.
"Where will we go?" The young woman began to regain her composure and had started to follow Chrystania through the forest.
"There is a caravan of slave traders heading West, I have convinced the driver to allow us to ride it as far as it shall go and from there, only the God's can know."
"Farther west? In to the center of the Roman Empire? That is suicide!"
"That is our only chance of escape! Not all area's are as venomously against the extinction of our race. Let's just hope that our final destination is one of them." Chrystania grabbed Azaleas arm tightly and pulled her at an even faster pace.
"Could we not go back to Persia?" Azalea questioned, always curious to see her homeland. She was out of breath and panting as she spoke. The constant breathing without rest had begun to burn her lungs. Yet she kept pushing forward.
"You have never been to Persia girl. The land is in turmoil and a constant state of war. You have not the skills to survive in such a place."
Azalea could not argue and allowed herself to be swayed quickly. She knew that Chrysta was right. There was no other options. Peace was impossible and they must now flee from imminent danger, in to the possibility of even greater danger that now awaited them ahead.
The caravan was already beginning to load as they emerged from the forest and on to the road that headed west. Azalea hung back and allowed Chrystania to approach the burly bearded man who looked to be the leader. They spoke words that were only heard between the two and then Azalea was waved over to accompany them.
She was told to climb up in to the back of the wagon and sit with the slaves who were either wounded or too old to walk. Compassion washed over the young girls face as she looked upon the people who would be her new companions for the next few months. Their body's were decaying and their eyes were empty.
The caravan set off without a moments hesitation and the weeks passed by slowly. The journey was grueling. One city to the next, they were all the same. Once great nations now lay as puppets to the Roman Empire. The caravan stopped at Byzantium, Aquileia, Vindobona, Argentorate and every town in between. Azalea could hardly keep track. Food was scarcely found or shared among the passengers and slaves. Illness spread quickly and many did not make it. However, more slaves were picked up a long the way. The careless disposal of human life, was repulsive to Azalea. It made her shutter to think that if she would have remained in Sinope for only a few moments longer, her fate would have been the same.
It was after about a week in to the journey that Chrystania informed Azalea quietly that she had a fair stash of money hidden away that she had collected from her fathers estate before they departed. It would last them a few months only. They must use it very sparingly as not to draw attention. In such desperate times they would be robbed without hesitation.
So the women starved beside the others. Growing ill quite often and at one moment Chrystania had almost lost her life. Azalea begged her at each town to allow them to depart from the caravan and start their new lives. Yet no place ever felt blessed by the Gods and so they continued on until they made it to the western coast at the port of Gesoriacum. There they parted ways with those that they had kept company with for half a year and felt little sorrow.
As they stood upon the shore of the ocean, looking out upon the large ships sailing out in to the unknown. A hawk swooped down and snatched a fish from the hands of an angry merchant. Azalea smiled as the wind hit her face and the salty smell was sucked in to her lungs. When she opened her eyes, the clouds parted in the distance and a ray of light shown down upon the water, as a loud man hollered for the last of the passengers to board the ship.
It was the sign that she had been waiting for. Without saying a word, Azalea turned and ran towards the man. Chrystania was still weak from her illness and could hardly walk the distance to catch up with her friend. "Are you out of your mind?" The older woman hollered when she saw that Azalea had purchased their way aboard the ship.
"I am not. We must go to Britannia! Look Crysta...can you not feel it?" Azalea turned her friend around once more and pointed out across the restless water. The older woman stood completely still and looked on in silence. For a quiet moment she contemplated this and then nodded her head hesitantly.
So it was destined that their journey begin in much the same way as most great adventures of their time. Without proper knowledge of where the future would take them and with a great inclination of escaping the past. Unbeknownst to the two companions, it would lead to the fort of Hadrians Wall, the last Roman outpost of Britain and throw them in to the mercy of Artorius Castus. The same man who would one day hold the very fate of Azaleas life within his hands.
I have actually created a blog for this story where you can see pictures of what the characters, settings, clothing, ext... will look like. I have picked people to portray the characters how I view them and desire them to be. I like it when you can actually get a feeling for the story :) The link is on my profile!