A/N: Well for those of you who don't know, this is the sequel to my first story Eyes of Faith. I do suggest reading that before you read this. That sets up the foundation for everything that I have planned for this story. However, without further delay, here is Long Live…enjoy!
Time passed and things changed. Four years to be exact and many...many changes.
Others, not so good.
Yet they changed none the less. It was the way of life.
However, every so often you stumble upon those rare circumstances that almost seem to thwart the hands of time. They are ties that bind so deep, so pure that not even fate can touch them.
The love shared between Tristan and Azalea was one of those circumstances. All around them things altered and yet they still held tight to the same core foundation of truth and trust that had originally bonded them together. They remained the same...
The world did not.
Arthurs dream had finally come to pass. It took three years of great trial, but Camelot rose from the base of ruin and became one of the most successful and flourishing kingdoms on the continent. The rest of the world was falling in to darkness after the ransacking of Rome. All knowledge and progress was demolished and the people were reverting back to the old ways. The stone highways crumbled, waterways fell and nobody had the knowledge to fix them. Disease and famine spread like wildfires, engulfing a vast majority of the population. Yet Camelot was immune to it all.
The first year of Arthurs rein was not one of peace and joy. It was a time of hardship, rebellion and rebuilding. The land of Britain was in ruin. All the farms and villages had been burned to the ground by the Saxon army. The winter was brutal and hit them harder than what had been expected. Unable to grow crops, the citizens were forced to rely solely on the skills of the hunters. Arthur grew weary as his people grew thin and sickly. The King decided to halt the pilgrimage north and to remain at Hadrian's Wall once more until spring had arrived. At least there they had shelter. They spent this time gathering what supplies they could and then headed north in the warmer months.
The British rebels were now joined with the peasants from the wall and they worked together to build the foundation of the new city. First starting with small hovels in which each family lived. They were rounded tents made of wood and animal skin. During this time the men built the granary and those with farming experience planted the fields. Gong pits were dug to burry both human and animal feces, which Arthur found more reasonable than tossing it in to the river and continuing to contaminate the water supply. This new development greatly improved the spread of disease. Once the food rations were no longer dwindling, the peasants were far more willing to work hard and life began to improve.
Rock from the old fortress of Carduel was used to build the beginnings of the new castle. It took every able bodied hand to fortify the structure and in the end, it was well worth every ounce of sweat that went in to it. Two years after their pilgrimage north and Camelot rose high off the mountainside, overlooking the sea. It was a grand sight to behold. As the four remaining knights stood beside their new and future King, they knew it...
Arthur had done it.
For another year the four knights and their women, stayed within the confinements of the castle. They were each given a chamber and lived as royalty would. Arthur would have it no less. However, as time wore on the men began to grow restless to move forth with their lives. Each Sarmatian took a vastly different path.
Bors retired from his duty as a knight of the round table and was given a large territory to govern about four days ride from Camelot. There he lived in a moderate sized estate with Vanora and his now twelve children. A few adventurous men and women journeyed forth with him and so the town of Nottingham was established.
Gawain retired from active duty as well; however he remained at the castle. He was given the new rank of head of the tower guard and superior master swordsman. However, Gawain's favorite duty was training the young boys who left their families at the age ten to stay in the barracks and join the ranks of knighthood when they were old enough or skilled enough to pass the trials.
To the surprise of all, Galahad was the only Sarmatian who remained by Arthurs side as an active knight. He would continue to sit at Arthurs right hand at that round wooden table for many years to come. The new recruits looked up to him as a hero of legend and he was revered wherever he would go.
City life did not suit Tristan well and after a year, the walls were beginning to suffocate him. He was usually spotted down by the shores of the sea or walking about the vast open fields with Azalea by his side. He hardly went within the city walls except to oversee Lucan's training or at Arthur's request. His new job was to train the new falcons and their owners to rid the city of its rat infestation. Tristan did this willingly and then returned to his reclusive nature once more. The citizens of Camelot feared him, just as they had always done at Hadrian's Wall. The scout hardly noticed. Nor did he care.
When Tristan first resigned from active duty as a knight, Arthur had also offered him a large space of land to lord over as well. However, after a calm discussion with Azalea, he declined this offer. Tristan did not wish to have power of any sort. He simply wished to be left in peace. So the moment that Bors departed from Camelot, Tristan took Azalea and moved to a small space of land in the forest within the borders of Nottingham. They were far enough away for peace and close enough to see friends when they desired company. Lucan was now ten years of age and stayed behind to train for knighthood. He wished to follow in his new father's footsteps.
It was now four years after the battle of Badon Hill and Tristan walked slowly forward through the forest near his home. Each footprint that he made left an indentation in the moist dirt path that he had molded over the constant ware of time. Dawn remained his favorite time of day. Tristan still rose before the sunrise out of habit and took to walking the forest near their home. Azalea would sometimes accompany him and yet she more than often let him be. She knew that he treasured that time alone. It was very obvious on the rare occasion that Tristan overslept or had business to tend and his routine was disrupted. He would remain in a foul mood for the rest of the evening.
It was a beautiful morning to be outside. The earth gave off the rich scent that only lingers after a night of summer rain. The soft call of the birdsong began to sing through the silence and soon the entire world would rise with the sun. Tristan neared the cottage where he lived and stopped when he stood outside the kitchen window. He could see his beautiful woman kneeling down before a pot with his breakfast, which boiled furiously over the fire. Azalea swore loudly when a hot cinder flew up and burned her arm.
Tristan laughed lightly to himself as he walked in to the room. Azalea turned and looked up at him from her position on the floor. Her eyes sparkled with adoration at the site of him. Four years had not dimmed her beauty. Each moment that Tristan looked upon her, he saw something different, something new. Like the small laugh lines near the corner of her eyes. Proof not of her age, but of the overwhelming joy that she showed freely to the world. It did nothing but remind him of her smile that he loved so much. The one that Azalea now saved almost specifically for Tristan.
"How was your morning?" The woman asked as she slid her arms around his waist and clasped her hands tightly behind his lower back. Azalea leaned her chest back so that she could look Tristan in the face.
"Better now," Tristan answered as he leaned forward and his lips gently met her own. His tongue slowly traced the contours of her lower lip. Tristan could feel her shiver slightly when their skin collided.
Azalea sighed in to his mouth. She had yet to grow tired of the feeling that she had when she was in his arms. It was true that she had known no other lover besides Tristan to compare to and yet never once had her mind ever strayed. Tristan who had indeed known many other women, now knew what he loved best of all and he needed to search no farther than her eyes.
Against all odds, they were happy and still madly in love.
Not the dizzy, head over heels, irrational love that a couple has when they first meet. It was a deep, secure and sensual sort of passion that digs its roots firmly in to the center of their hearts. It only comes with the passing of time and the strength that it takes to survive many difficult trials together.
Tristan swept Azaleas legs up in to his arms and began to carry her down the corridor to their bedchamber. "Oh Shaheen, your food shall burn!" Azalea argued as she stretched out her arms towards the fire and yet she knew that there was no use fighting against Tristan once he made up his mind.
Once within, he placed her gently down upon the fur comforters and climbed on to the bed so that his body hovered over hers. Tristan's right hand bushed the hair away from her neck and he replaced it with his mouth. He lingered their just long enough to leave his mark before he ran his hand down her shoulder, pushing the cloth of her shift down to reveal the soft skin of her bare shoulders. He groaned when she grinded her hips fiercely against his own. Tristan knew that she wanted him as badly as he wanted her. "It has been far too long since we have done this right,'' he whispered in to her ear.
"You just took me last night in the garden," Azalea laughed and yet she secretly loved that his desire for her still burned so strong within him.
"Aye, but not properly." Tristan could feel her body tense slightly and he held her gaze to his. She looked away only for a moment before he pulled her back. "Do not be afraid."
Azalea didn't say a word, she just nodded her head. As he entered her, a mix of pleasure and pain seemed to swirl about within her. Her mind drifted away to three years prior and to one of the worst moments that they would ever have to overcome together.
Bile rose in her throat as Azalea looked back at the bloody footprints that trailed behind her upon the cold stone floor of the corridor. Only a few more steps...She was almost to Gawain's room. She knew that he would help her. He had to, there was no one else. The blood continued to slither down her legs like hideous snakes pouring forth from her body and the pain...
Oh the pain.
It gnawed away at her senses, leaving her dizzy and nauseous. Azalea pounded once upon the wooden door and only once. Her body was off balance and she swayed upon her feet. She didn't even notice the door open until a voice spoke. "Azalea?"
"The baby...something is the matter." and then she fell.
Gawain had caught her quickly before she hit the ground. He gently pulled Azalea over and laid her down upon the floor with her back propped up against the bottom of his bed. The knight called for help and a maid soon appeared in the doorway. She looked startled for a moment but became aware by Gawain's command. "Stay with this woman. Make sure that she stays conscience. I must find help."
Before another question could be asked, Gawain took flight. He ran to the east wing of the grounds where the royal infirmary lies and found Brene. He sent her quickly to aid Azalea while he went in search of Tristan. Gawain thanked the Gods when he came upon the scout leaving the fletchers shop at the corner of the bend near the Queens chambers.
It took only two words of explanation before Tristan was sprinting off as fast as he had ever run before. He halted to a quick stop at Gawain's door when he looked within and saw Azalea sprawled out on the floor in a pool of her own blood. Her tan gown died red. The only sign of life was the rise and fall of her chest. Brene stood over her and had a brown bundle wrapped in her arms. Her eyes were bloodshot and Tristan knew that she was holding back tears. The healer walked slowly over towards Tristan. She didn't speak; she just placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and then left the room. The scout hadn't noticed the boy Lucan who was now standing by his side. He had been training when he saw his father run by and by the look on Tristan's face he had known that something was terribly wrong.
Tristan was knocked back in to motion when a chocking sob escaped from Azalea's lips. It was the most pitiful noise that he had ever heard. Like the sound of a dying animal. He was by her side in a moment and had her wrapped up tightly in his arms. Nobody spoke for quite a while. Finally she spoke.
"What did I do wrong?" Azalea sobbed in to his shoulder. Gripping his shirt as it balled in to her fists.
"You did nothing wrong." He tried to soothe her as he rubbed the sweat soaked hair back from her head.
"I lost our child," she whimpered. The sound nearly ripped his heart in half. Tristan thought thoroughly before he spoke. He knew now that he had to choose his words cautiously. That was when he looked up and saw his new son in the doorway.
"We still have Lucan," he said. "Perhaps that is all that we are meant to have."
Azalea trembled for a moment and then wiped her eyes as she looked over at the now eleven year old boy standing in the doorway. Lucan pushed off of the doorframe and walked forward. He knelt down beside his mother and took her left hand from Tristan's shoulder. He held it in his own. "I will make you proud. I promise."
Azalea pulled away from Tristan's body and turned to kiss Lucan on the cheek. "You already do."
Three years have passed by since that day and they had yet to try again for a child. The couple continued to make love and yet Tristan did his best to pull out of her before he finished. They knew that this plan was not foolproof and yet it was the only plan that they had. He would not risk putting her through that torment again. Tristan always felt satisfied at her touch and yet it never felt fully complete. She was his woman. He wanted all of her and fear would no longer prevent him from taking what was his.
So he claimed her once again as his own that day. The release gave him more pleasure than any time before that ever had. Because they had triumphed. They had overcame devastation once more and they lived, when the weight of all that they have lost could have killed them.
They lay quietly within each other's arms and Azalea sighed deeply in content. She could feel the movement that signified life flowing through his veins beneath her. For years she had felt torn between being whole and being broken. Together they had never felt happier and yet there was that small fear that lingered in the back of their minds. This fear of loss had stopped them fully from giving themselves to each other.
The love they made that morning broke all barriers. They were whole again.
Tristan rose first and went in to the kitchen to put out the fire in the hearth. He laughed when he spotted the charred remains of his breakfast. Knowing that Azalea had worked hard on the stew, he grabbed his bow and made for the door. He would bring back a nice meal for dinner to surprise her. However, the door flew open before he could exit. It almost smacked him in the face.
"Where is she?" Vanora burst through the door and looked around the kitchen. When she didn't spot Azalea she stalked past Tristan and down the hallway to their bedchamber.
Vanora pushed the door open with her hand and walked inside. Azalea stood naked beside the bed and covered herself quickly when she realized that it was not Tristan who entered. "There you are! We have business to tend to. Get dressed girl!" Vanora picked up the closest garment to her and tossed it to Azalea.
Tristan was standing in the doorway, his arms folded across his chest. "You do not even knock?"
"Oh do keep quiet Tristan; this is a matter for women. What are you even still doing here?" Azalea choked and coughed at the same time when she attempted not to laugh at Tristan's affronted expression.
Azalea quickly pulled on a skirt and the blouse that Vanora had handed her. "What is this urgent business?"
"I have finally decided to accept my lover's proposal of marriage. We have a wedding to plan and since you are the closest friend available, I have chosen you to assist me!" Tristan rolled his eyes and took this as a cue for him to leave.
Azalea smiled. "Well it is about time. You have only been together going on what? Seventeen years."
"Eighteen to be exact...but who's counting." Vanora shrugged her shoulders.
The scout huffed loudly from the doorway. "Nobody. We stopped caring years ago." Tristan muttered.
Vanora turned and glared at the man. "So you are still here, are you?"
"It is my cottage, is it not? I believe I shall go wherever I so choose wench."
Azalea shook her head as she walked over and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Do be nice dear."
Tristan just grumbled something incoherent about being outnumbered and then turned to leave. Vanora and Azalea turned to look at each other and then laughed loudly. "Well I see he has not altered much."
"Aye, he definitely has not. Then again...he would not still be Tristan if he had." Azalea walked over and threw her arms around the shoulders of her redheaded friend. "Now what was this that you spoke of about a wedding?"
Soooo….what did you think? I would love to hear everyone's opinion on the new story. I am so very excited for this! I can't promise how quickly the updates for this will come. I am writing it as I go. Where the other story was already pre-written. I don't want to rush and to ruin what could be one of my favorite stories that I have ever written. But I do promise that I will hurry!