Author's Note: So, I have decided to edit and rewrite this story. Although the premise is the same as my old story I will be adding and deleting scenes. Main reason being was as I was reading my work I realized that there were little plot points that I hinted at or even wrote, but decided not to follow through. So I'm getting rid of those and will try to refine the relationships with all the characters. This is a rewrite of my original fanfiction that was titled the same "Tristan's Hawk". Unfortunately, FFN doesn't allow two copies of the same story to be up, so I will be deleting my original story in about a week or so. Just so people know that it was my story originally. I'm not going to break their rules. Hope you like the new and improved story. As the movie did, I will probably be playing fast and loose with history. And for my new readers. Welcome!
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters from the King Arthur 2004 movie.
Althea walked up the path, holding onto her youngest two-year-old daughter, Nola, by her right side stood her eldest five-year-old daughter, Myrina. She had wanted to bring all four of her children with her. They had to see even if they wouldn't understand what their father was about to do. At least, they wouldn't understand yet. The ritual was ancient, few knew how to perform it. But it had to be done. They needed it to be done, even though her heart broke at the very thought of the harm that would come to her husband. It was why she brought him their children. He wouldn't back down, but she had to visually remind him why he was performing the ritual. Unfortunately, she hadn't been able to find their eldest son who was ten, nor Nola's twin brother. She didn't have the time to search for them, so brought the girls. Not that it mattered. Everyone would be blessed.
Nola let out a stifled yawn as she half opened her eyes before closing them again. Althea rocked the toddler, while Myrina took in their surroundings. They were in a part of the sacred grove that the child was not allowed to be in. She was clearly taking careful note. Althea smiled, so much like her father. Ever the watchful eye.
"Althea," her husband, Calatin's, familiar voice stated the moment he spotted her. He appeared startled for half a second before giving in to his natural smile. He rushed over to them, hugging his wife. "You should not have come," he whispered in her ear so their daughter couldn't hear.
"I had to. I know what will happen. I brought our children for you and for them. Well, I could not find our boys. I did not want you to go without-" her voice cracked despite herself.
"Papa?" Myrina asked, letting go of her mother's hand.
He crouched, allowing her to hug him. "My fierce little hawk," he whispered, stroking her long hair. Taking in a deep breath, he pulled away to get a good look at her. "You must understand, little one. I do this for you, your brothers, your sisters. I know you are far too young to understand this sacrifice."
She cocked her head to one side, clearly trying to register the meaning of his words.
He gave her a sad smile. "Your mother will explain to you when you are older. She'll explain to you how this sacrifice is ancient but powerful. Do you remember your lessons about the old gods?"
She nodded her head as he took hold of her hands. "They have powerful magic," she stated. "But, we must give up something to receive from them."
His eyes glistened as he nodded. "I am going to give them my blood. It is sacred. My age, our lineage. They will honor our sacrifice. And in your life you will find that the Romans will never be a threat as they are now. Do you understand?"
She blinked, before nodding her head, sealing her lie. He let out half a smile then a chuckle shaking her head. She was yet to young to understand. But one day. Pulling her into another embrace, he kissed her forehead.
"I love you, papa" she said as she hugged him. She was her father's little girl, despite resembling Althea in nearly every way, long brown hair and brown eyes.
Standing up, he gave Nola a kiss on the cheek. Althea allowed him to kiss her, closing her eyes as she savored his lips. "Tell my sons I love them," he whispered. She nodded. Glancing down at his daughter he took her hand, placing it on her mother's. "Take your mother home," he stated.
"Come, mum," she said, obeying her father's command.
Althea let her daughter pull her away, but kept her gave on her husband for a few precious moments. The children didn't understand that this was the last time they were going to see their father. He was going to die a gruesome death. He had to sacrifice his body and blood in the hopes that the gods would provide them with the precious gift of magic. Stories told of druids who could do wondrous things. While they were legends it was their last desperate attempt to fight the Romans.
"Althea," Bram's cool baritone voice interrupted her thought.
"Uncle Bram," Myrina said happily, as she let go of her mother's hand and rushed toward the older man.
"And where have you been, little hawk?" he teased. He placed a hawk feather in her hair, making her smile.
"We went to see papa," she said.
He shot his sister a quick look and she gave him a slow nod and sad smile. He reached out and grabbed her hand. "It's for the best," he whispered, knowing she'd heard those words many times and yet they would bring little comfort.
She nodded. "I know," her voice was soft and difficult to hear. She looked up at the full moon then quickly closed her eyes. Two tears ran down her cheeks, but she didn't sniff. "I wanted to bring the boys with me. But it's too late now."
"I wish I'd known," he said as he wrapped his arm around his sister and led her away. "We may yet-"
Althea stopped as three boys emerged from the forest. One was Bram's eldest son, he carried Darren, Nola's twin, while beside him walked Brandon, the oldest of Althea's children. Rage filled up inside of her."Where have you been?" she shouted, despite her attempts to remain calm.
The boys looked at her in surprise. It was rare for her to raise her voice in such a manner.
"We were playing, mum," Brandon said softly, unused to the anger that emanated from her.
"Althea," Bram whispered, trying to calm her down.
Nola opened her eyes, half choking on a cry. Althea quickly hushed the toddler before she could begin to fuss as her body and angered quickly cooled. She closed her eyes, shaking her head. "Forgive me, children," she whispered. "I-" She turned away from them so they wouldn't see her pain. "Bram! Fire!" She screamed, pointing away from them.
"Romans," Bram hissed. He unsheathed his sword and ran in the direction of the reddened sky. "Reghan," he shouted at his son. "Go with Althea, keep them safe."
The boy opened his mouth to protest, but there was no point.
Althea stared at the sky for a harsh moment, before setting Nola down. The children were now all awake and aware something was wrong. Nola and Darren tried to cry, only to have their mother hush them. "My children, you must be brave and silent now," she commanded as she dropped to her knees and gave each of them a quick hug. "Reghan, take them. Run west. Keep out of sight. Merlin's village is not far. Do not follow the path. You can make it there. Brandon can help you with the twins."
"Mumma?" Brandon asked, voice quivering. Althea shook her head as the sound of a horn echoed through the trees.
"I can not allow the Romans to stop the ritual. Then his death will be for nothing. If you hear horses stay away. I love you," she blew a kiss then turned and ran in the direction that she'd left her husband.
Myrina took a step forward before Brandon grabbed her hand and roughly pulled her back. "We need to go, now Rina!" he snapped as he pulled her.
The children ran.
Reghan was the oldest, being sixteen years of age. He half dragged Darren behind him, while holding Nola in his arms. Despite that, his legs were long and he was strong, allowing him to keep a steady and almost too fast of a pace for the five and ten year old.
"Reghan, wait!" Myrina huffed. He didn't seem to hear her, until he stopped in his tracks, giving the children enough time to catch up.
"Reghan," Brandon said, trying to catch his breath. Then he gasped. A large bear stood in their path. It stared back at them, as if assessing what to do. Without notice, it stood up, roaring in anger. None of the children could move. The earth seemed to tremble when it landed back on all fours. It rushed at them, Reghan grabbed Brandon, pulling him back but was unable to grab Myrina. Her heart drummed as the big beast ran past her. Without thinking, she reached out and let her fingers run through its fur, pulling out some hairs. The bear lunged at a Roman soldier. They hadn't even realized they were being followed. The man cried out in surprise, clearly having expected the bear to attack the children.
"Run!" Reghan shouted as he pushed them further into the forest.
"Reghan," Myrina wheezed after what felt like hours. "I can't. I'm too-" She plopped onto the ground.
"Rina, we have to go," Brandon said as he pulled on his sister. She shook her head. She wasn't going anywhere. She was tired and it wasn't fair that the twins got to be carried and yet she had to run. She wanted to go back home. She wanted her father.
Reghan turned, glaring at her. "Rina. Get up. We have to go, now!" he commanded, setting down Nola.
"No," Rina said stubbornly, crossing her arms. She was tired, scared, and her body hurt.
"Rina," Reghan started, but stopped. Quickly, he unsheathed his sword and stepped forward as a horse and rider galloped out of the forest into the little clearing they were in. Myrina let out a scream of surprise as she scurried toward a large tree.
The boy appeared as if he wasn't much older than Reghan, but his eyes made it clear that he hadn't expected to see children. His bow was drawn and he aimed his arrow at each of them, before slowly lowering his weapon. He quickly scanned the area before pointing in the direction they were going. "There are soldiers that way," he stated. "They're searching the vicinity. You should be able to get away, but go that way, toward the river. You'll be safe on the other side.
Reghan kept his sword out, eyeing the lad who seemed to be helping them.
"Why are you helping us?" Reghan asked the Roman.
"Because…" He looked back toward the fighting then back at them. "I had to give you a chance." He didn't wait for them to say another word as he turned and rode back to join the fighting.
Reghan didn't wait, picking the twins up, he led them toward the river. Much to Myrina's relief, it didn't take them long to reach it. It wasn't a particularly warm day and she wasn't excited to get wet. But Reghan plunged into the river, keeping taking one twin with him before returning for each child. Myrina was the last to go, as Brandon swam next to his older cousin. She gave Reghan a quick glance, fascinated how her cousin had so much energy and strength, completely unaware of how exhausted he truly was.
Reaching the opposite side, Reghan walked them till they were out of view of the river. Finally, he collapsed onto the ground, taking deep heavy breaths as he leaned against a tree. He was clearly struggling to stay awake.
The cold wet children huddled around their older cousin, as they shivered to get warm again. Clutching the clump of bear hair, she closed her eyes, her mind recalling her father's voice.
My gift to you, his words rang loud in her mind. They sounded so clear as if he were right next to her. She frowned as she opened eyes. A weight seemed to fall on her. She felt odd, different, new. The world around her had a different feel. Slowly, she glanced around. Despite being a child, she understood she was different. A twig snapped in the distance. .
Quickly, she rose to her feet, staring in the direction of the noise. She paused, her instincts told her to run, she was still to young and not strong enough to fight.
"Rina?" Brandon asked, placing himself beside her.
The breeze blew the stranger's' scent at her. She frowned, not recognizing the smell, but her body relaxed. Woads. Her people. She knew. She looked at her brother, letting out a small smile.
"We will survive," she stated. No sooner had the words left her mouth when the men stepped out of the forest. Reghan jumped to his feet, clumsily trying to draw his sword. Only when he spotted their familiar blue paint did he allow his body to relax.
"The grove," Reghan whispered. "The others. I believe," he paused, giving the children a quick glance. "There are too many of them."
The leader of the party stepped forward, giving two of the men in his group a short, sharp nod. The men disappeared into the forest, making their way in the direction children had come.
"Come, we'll take you home," the leader said, beaconing toward them.
Myrina gave a last longing glance the way she'd come from. That was her home. Now it was gone. Her eyes welled up with tears, and then her heart hardened with anger. Come what may, she was going to destroy those Romans for what they'd done to her home, to her parents. She glanced up into the sky, giving a long mournful howl, like those she heard when a pack lost one of their members.
Someone gasped and Myrina turned to look at them. Her brother's and cousin's eyes were both large with fear, awe, and wonder.
The leader of the group of Woads dropped to his knees. "Sweet child," he whispered. "Wonder child. Your father-" he shook his head. "Such a gift has been bestowed upon you. We have hope now. Hope to take back our land."
She wasn't sure what he meant, but she had knew she had a duty. She could feel it. Raising her head, she nodded in agreement.
Many Years Later
Guinevere rushed toward a small lake, carelessly discarding her clothes before diving into the cool water. The only entrance to and from the small lake was the little dirt path that she had come through. The rest of the lake was surrounded by a cliff, giving privacy to swimmers. She took her time before finally resurfacing. It had been a while since she had enough time to enjoy herself in the lake. She'd enjoyed an odd and unique life. Her life was going to take a turn, one she wasn't quite sure she wanted.
She floated in the water, looking up into the sky. Her life had been anything but normal, especially when the last druid survivors were brought home with her father. She'd gone from being the only child, to becoming the middle child. She didn't feel particularly starved for love, despite the fact her parents had to split their attention between the five children.
From the moment the children were brought into the village it soon became clear that her parents wanted her and Brandon to marry. There were days that the thought excited her. After all, not everyone would be lucky enough to marry one of the last druids. And being that her father was Merlin, the leader of their village, and a very well respected elder, she was a top candidate. And every once in awhile there were days that she feared her union with him. She wasn't sure why. Sometimes, she felt as if her destiny lay elsewhere.
Brandon had been the one to postpone their union, much to everyone's surprise. They should have been married years ago, but he always had an excuse. It was almost as if he were trying to run away from marrying her. He didn't have to. There were so many others who would gladly marry him. Over the past few years, he kept his distance opting to travel. He never failed to return every year on the anniversary of his parents death, and then he'd disappear again. Merlin was growing tired of the young man's refusal to accept his fate.
Guinevere dove back underwater, closing her eyes. Rising back up, she combed her hair back. Brandon was back, and this time it seemed that he was going to stay for far longer. She'd heard her father mentioning it to her mother. Merlin was tired of Brandon shirking his responsibilities. He was one of the last druids and it was his duty to stand with them, fight with them and drive the Romans back.
She sighed to herself. He was handsome: shoulder length blond hair, strong physic. His different colored eyes didn't bother her in the least. And despite the fact that she'd practically grown up with him, she wouldn't have minded being his wife, bearing his children. That was until recently. She'd spied him with an unknown woman. Her happening upon him and this woman was either a fluke or she'd been led there. She'd been making her way to the home of a Roman noble, fully intending on making more trouble for the noble, possibly freeing some serifs, but instead she'd caught Brandon and this unknown woman in a rather intimate moment. She shuddered at the memory. Neither had seen her, and she wanted to keep it that way. But her heart hurt at the thought that he would be with someone else why being married to her.
Normally, she voiced her frustrations and concerns to Myrina. But not only was the young woman busy as of late, but Guinevere didn't want Brandon to know what she'd seen. And knowing Myrina's hot temper when it came to her brother's actions, Guinevere had no doubt that Brandon would find out.
A cold breeze flowed through the lake sending chills down her body and knocking her back into reality.
"A bit late to be swimming," a deep voice said.
Instinctively, Guinevere placed her hands over her chest. "It's rude to spy on a woman bathing," she snapped.
Brandon smiled, but didn't turn away or move. He leaned against a tree with his arms across his chest. "Come now," he said, standing up. "You shouldn't be shy. After all, I believe your father is prepared for us to marry."
She gulped. Maybe he was prepared, but that didn't mean she was. "But we aren't," she said with a glare.
Something grunted then moaned, causing both of them to look down the trail. A bear nearly as tall as Brandon stood at the entrance of the path. It looked from one to the other before it charged at them. Guinevere cursed at herself. Where did she leave her weapons? Brandon shouted as he jumped back and entered the water. The bear stopped at the edge of the water then stood up to its full height, roaring at the two.
"Do something, Brandon!" Guinevere shouted.
He looked around, but both were in the water and their weapons were on the shore.
She frowned. Did it just chuckle? The bear's body shimmered as the hair and claws disappeared. Its back legs became human legs and its front legs became human arms. The body and head of the bear immediately became that of a naked human, and Guinevere recognized Myrina.
"Get out of here, Bran!" the young druidess snapped at her brother. "What were you thinking?"
He kept his head turned so he wouldn't have to see his sister's body and took off his cloak. "I surrender," he said before he disappeared into the woods.
Myrina rolled her eyes, but picked up his cloak and wrapped it around her. "That is the one disadvantage of changing into an animal form," she said, not really talking to Guinevere. "Don't have clothes when I change back."
Guinevere made her way out of the small lake and smiled gratefully. "Thank you," she said.
Myrina nodded. "I'm going to speak to him. I don't know what possessed him to do that."
"He is right. We will be married soon." Guinevere frowned. Why was she defending him?
Myrina's eyes narrowed as she looked at her friend.
"Do you bring any news?" Guinevere asked, quickly changing the subject. She couldn't express her doubts and fears and what she saw between Brandon and the mystery woman.
Myrina sighed. "I don't know. The Sarmatian knights have taken up residence at a village nearby. It has been some time since they've left the Wall. I think your father's worried. Although he would not say it. I've spent some time watching and I don't believe they have come to cause us trouble."
Guinevere nodded, pushing back some jealousy. It was strange to think that a person had the ability to turn into animals. At times, she imagined what it would be like to have the wind lift her body in the air and to fly. According to Reghan, Calatin had undergone an ancient ritual, sacrificing his life hoping that the old gods would be pleased and bless them. The old gods had, giving the girls magic. Myrina could change into any animal she wished, as long as she had viewed them previous. Although she tend to find herself in hawk or bear form more often. Shifting tired her, though, and once she was in one form she had to stay like that until she gathered enough strength to change.
Her sister Nola had a healing ability. Although, Guinevere viewed Nola's gift more of a curse. They had all learned the hard way that Nola's gift was limited. After a particularly nasty battle, years ago, Nola had used her gift to heal many of the wounded who would have died. She'd only gotten to heal two men before she collapsed, her body practically on fire. Somehow, she didn't die, but she wasn't allowed to heal. She found a work around, using her power to make her potions more potent.
As for the two boys, if they received any magic it wasn't apparent. Myrina had told Guinevere once that she and Nola were the last to see their father and had been kissed by him. It seemed like a possible theory. Although Guinevere suspected that maybe the boys did have magic, they just hadn't found what they were good at yet. Whatever the case was, she knew that Brandon resented his sisters because of it. It was highly possible that his resentment grew it made it impossible for him to stay in the same village as them, which was why he took up traveling.
"We better go," Myrina said, looking up into the sky. "I believe it's going to rain."
Guinevere nodded and the two young women made their way back to their village. It was a quiet walk since neither spoke to each other, but it was an easy silence. They stopped once for Myrina to get her clothes that she had hid.
"Do you think your brother really wants to marry me? Or does he care for someone else?" Guinevere finally asked.
The young druidess looked at her in surprise then frowned. "I'm not as intuitive as Nola. I have seen other women look at him. But," she paused. "To be honest, I haven't heard him talk about anyone. I…" Myrina stopped talking and froze, hands automatically reaching for her weapon. A group of riders rode toward them.
Guinevere recognized her father, Nola and Darren in the group before them. The three pulled ahead and stopped in front of them.
"What has happened?" Myrina asked, spotting the tears in Nola's eyes.
"Reghan is dead," Nola whispered.
Panic crossed Myrina's face as she took a step back. "No," she whispered, covering her mouth with her hand.
"Come," Merlin said as one of his men brought out two fresh mounts. Both girls got on the horse and started to follow everyone back.
Darren turned and gave Guinevere a quick glance before he looked at his sister. "Rina!" he shouted.
She had turned her horse around and was riding in the opposite direction that they were going. She didn't look back as she forced her horse to gallop away.
"Don't! Merlin ordered Darren who started after her. "Let her be. She will come back."
Darren looked at the older man then at his sister before forcing himself to rejoin the group. The sky rumbled overhead and then it began to rain.
"Why?" Myrina sobbed, ignoring the rain as she buried her face into her horse's mane. She didn't care where it was going and didn't even try to look up. Reghan had died. He was the last to truly know her parents and could tell her stories. Her memories were faded, blurry, most dealt with that fateful night. It was a horrible memory to be left with. There was Brandon, but with the discovery that the his sisters had magic and he didn't he slowly became distant and angry toward them. It wasn't their fault. But he acted as if they'd stolen his birthright.
She clenched her fists around the reins. How? Why? Surely, Nola could have healed Reghan, couldn't she have? It was Merlin's fault. He'd made silly rules for her sister to follow. Guilt and regret quickly followed her thoughts. Her sister probably could have healed him, but that didn't mean she'd come out unscathed.
The stallion screamed in surprise as it rose up on its hind legs. She had been unprepared for the sudden stop, and screamed as she fell, landing on the ground with a hard thud. She coughed as the wind was knocked out of her. The rain continued to pour, landing on her body, but she didn't move as she tried to catch her breath. She felt useless, she was useless. Sure, she could change into an animal, but what good was that really?
Her horse! Rising up, she looked around but it was nowhere in sight. Damn. She winced in pain as she slowly got to her feet. Her body felt bruised, but she was sure nothing was broken. She started to move in the direction of her home when she heard someone approach.
"Oye! Look at what we got 'ere, boys," a man said as he walked out of the woods. Myrina glared at the man as he smiled looking her up and down. Two more men stood closely behind him. The three men were similar in appearance, in the way that they were fat, balding and bearded.
"Leave me alone," Myrina hissed as she turned and faced them. She wasn't going to turn her back on them. Rage filled her as she inwardly searched for her bear form. "I have no time for you."
"Did you hear that, boys?" the leader asked as he took a step toward her. "She got no time for us." His smile widened, and her eyes narrowed as she took a step back.
Where was it?
"Let's make time," one of the men behind the leader said as he giggled.
She froze. She found the bear, imagining the way it would take over her body, but there was no change. She was still too weak.
Like lightning, the leader took her brief moment of weakness and lunged at her, grabbing her left arm. She screamed as she ripped her arm away and punched him. Her fist connected with his jaw, causing him to stagger back in surprise. His men laughed behind him.
"That was a mistake," he snarled as he spat out blood.
There was no one to help her. She wasn't even sure how far she'd gone. Just because she couldn't become the bear didn't mean she couldn't bring some of its strength into her. Grabbing the tiny knife that was on her belt, she held it up.
The men laughed. Without warning, the three attacked her. She slashed, feeling her knife dig into one while another grabbed her wrist, twisting it hard. The knife fell, hitting the ground with a soft thud. A scream partially escaped her lips as a second man tackled her to the ground. For a brief moment, her vision blurred as her lungs screamed for air.
She struggled, but it seemed useless. The man was too strong. She closed her eyes, trying to calm her beating heart while summoning the bear. Her emotions were a jumbled mess, but the biggest she felt clearly as her heart sank. Disappointment. Her magic, the one thing that made her special, made her stronger, and it'd abandoned her. She'd been through countless exercises, Merlin insisted on teaching her how to defend herself as a person for an occasion where her magic would fail her. She just never imagined that time would come.
"Looks like we got a feisty one," the man on top of her laughed.
"Leave me be," she snarled, ignoring the tears as they rolled down the side of her face. She felt like such and idiot, such a fool.
One of the men screamed, his eyes grew wide as he stared at his chest before collapsing to the ground. The man on top of her quickly placed a blade to her throat, but she didn't care as her eyes lit and she cracked a smile. So her family had heard her after all.
"Show yourself!" the man shouted.
She smiled as she looked in the direction that the arrow had come from. She half expected to see her sister standing with their brothers, but was surprised to see a man. He sat on his horse, arrow nocked and ready to be released. He wasn't a Woad. She recognized him, but her brain refused to give her an answer.
"Let the lady be," he said in a deadly voice.
The leader laughed, pressing the blade just a little bit harder against her neck. "One step, stranger, and the blade will easily pass through her throat."
She returned her glare to the leader, as the remaining lackey fidgeted. The lackey moved as did the man on the horse as he fired his arrow. The distraction was enough. The leader rose ever so slightly. She took her advantage. Grabbing his arm, she pushed the knife into his bell. He spun, facing her, eyes filled with rage. But it didn't last as an arrow went through his skull and out his left eye. She couldn't help but scream at the blood that sprayed on her. The dead man's body collapsed on top of her. His weight trapped her hand and she kicked desperately to dislodge him.
If felt like forever before the body was thrown off her. She rolled in the opposite direction, taking in deep breaths as she stared at the ground. The swishing of a horse's tail brought her back to herself. She wasn't safe yet. Rolling onto her feet, she paused as she looked around her. Three dead bodies, her and her rescuer. His motives, unclear. He wasn't a Woad. He had armor that meant-
She swallowed back a scream of surprise. He was a Sarmatian knight! Why hadn't she recognized his armor earlier? She had just finished spying on them. Well, not so much this one. She had only caught glimpses of him. "Thank… you," she said, hesitantly.
"No need to mention it," the man said as he surveyed his kills.
She bit her cheek in an effort to not show fear. It was the Sarmatian knights who helped kill all the druids. There was no doubt in her mind that he would try to kill her if he knew who she was. But they were supposed to be ruthless and cruel. Why did he rescue her? "Why did you help me?" The words blurted out of her mouth before she could stop them. She took a step back. She couldn't trust him, not yet. Maybe, if she had to, she could run away from him. She could feel her magic humming through her veins, but she still wasn't strong enough.
"You were in need of my help," he replied as he looked around. "Your horse?"
"He was scared," she stated
The man nodded, as if he understood. He mounted his horse then reached his hand down to her. "I will take you to it," he said, trying to sound reassuring. She paused, trying to read his face. It was nearly impossible. The hairs on the back of her neck no longer stood on end. But that didn't mean he still wasn't dangerous. Sure, her instincts rarely led her wrong, but her emotions were a wreck. If she went with him, then he could take her anywhere. What if he brought her to more knights? Or maybe he was trying to lull her into a false sense of security. On the other hand, she wasn't quite strong enough to change into an animal and get away. She could buy herself some time by going with him and sneak out. Already, her magic was starting to hum in her veins, it wouldn't be that long.
"Or you could stay here with the bodies, and wait for it to return," he stated, mirroring her internal thoughts. "If they don't have friends that will start looking for them soon."
Her brain made up its mind as she walked toward him and took his hand. Despite it being a team effort, he effortlessly pulled her up onto his horse, sitting her in front of him. She felt herself tense as he arms crossed over her so he could pick up the horse's reins and guide it.
"Thank you, for rescuing me," she said after a few minutes of uneasy silence.
He grunted then let out a sigh. "Cowards," he muttered, more to himself.
She nodded. There wasn't much else to say. And much to her surprise, he was leading them in the direction that her horse had gone. Unfortunately, it was clearly making its way back toward home.
The wind picked up, causing her to cross her arms over her chest. With the wind came the distinct smell of rain. She looked up just in time to catch a drop of rain on her cheek.
The man muttered something as he pulled on his horse's reins.
A loud crack sounded overhead, and without anymore notice the heavens opened up completely. Myrina let out a surprised and horrified laugh as she ducked. He reached his arm around her, pulling his horse toward the right and kicking it into a fast trot. His cloak was a welcome, although temporary, sanctuary to keep her dry. It wasn't long before his cloak was soaked through as was her dress.
She couldn't believe her luck for the day. Things hadn't started out so bad. But then she found out her cousin had died, she got attacked, saved by a Sarmatian knight, and now it was raining. What else were the old gods planning? As if answering her, she spotted a dilapidated shack. It didn't appear as if anyone had been there for quite some time.
The knight must have seen it as well since he aimed his horse in the building's direction. He stopped his horse under some shelter and dismounted before reaching out to her. Her heartbeat in her chest at the thought of being completely alone with him in the shack. She let him help her off his horse. Going up to the door, he wrapped on the wood and waited, tilting his head slightly as he tried to listen. Finally, he opened the door.
"Evening," he wincing at his words. With a quick scan of the area he nodded his head and motioned for her to enter.
She bit her lip but obliged his order. Stepping inside, she slowly looked around. No human had lived in the place for quite some time. It was clear from the nature that was slowly reclaiming it. Not to mention, in the corner of the large living area was what appeared to be a nest of sorts. Water dripped down from a hole in the roof, but it was far enough away to not cause any problems.
The wind picked up, seeping through the holes and causing her to shiver. She wrapped her arms around her. It would have been easier for her if she could change into an animal. A big burly bear and a thick coat of fur would keep her warm until the rain subsided enough for her to head home.
The door opened again, as the knight stepped inside, bringing some wood bundled under one arm and a satchel under the other. He placed them on the ground then set his cloak out to dry before heading back out. Grabbing the wood, she placed the pieces in a little fire pit, making sure the dry ones were close to each other. She glanced behind her as the door opened once again and walked back in, closing it behind him. He didn't say a word as he produced a fire striker from his satchel. Two quick strikes, after placing some dried leaves and grass, and the fire was soon started.
She wrapped her arms around her legs, the fire made everything feel almost normal. Her shoulders sagged as her body loosened, and for the first time that day she felt calm. At least, calm enough to contemplate the day's events. Her chest tightened at the thought of her cousin. She shouldn't have run away. She should have stayed with her family.
"Regret won't get you anywhere," the man said, causing her to jump in surprise.
"What?" she asked.
He didn't look at her rummaged through his satchel. "Regret," he said again. "You can't change the past. Learn and move on."
"You don't regret? You don't regret the people you have killed?" She didn't mean the men he'd killed to protect her. She meant the Woads, her people. But she couldn't explain that to him.
He paused for a moment then looked at her. "Most tried to kill me, or harm innocent people, like you."
She didn't answer. Somehow, he'd answered her real question. She watched him carefully as he took off the items that were of no use to him. Her heart skipped and she scooted back, but he kept his back to her.
"Sir, knight," she said, softer than she meant. "I should thank you for rescuing me. But I do not know what to call you."
He paused, finally turning to look at her. "Tristan," he stated then crouched. He pulled out what appeared to be dry clothes and she felt a twinge of jealousy. He'd be dry and comfortable and she'd have to wait until her clothes dried.
He didn't hesitate as he took two quick steps toward her and held out the clothes.
"They are dry," he stated. "Put them on, unless you wish to get sick."
She took the clothes, standing as she did so. She wasn't sure what to think or do. Her situation seemed very much far from the norm. Yet, she didn't feel bad intentions from him. "Turn," she commanded twirling her finger.
A sparkle of amusement flashed through his eyes for a brief moment, but he obliged. Walking back to his satchel.
He was taller than her, and his tunic was loose on her, but it was warm and smelled nice. "Thank you," she finally said. "I'm decent."
He still didn't look at her as he opened his satchel and rummaged through it. She laid her dress out before sitting down by the fire again. "Myrina," she said, feeling an odd need to talk. He turned giving her a curious glance. "My name. It's Myrina. But you can call me Rina." Her eyes widen in horror and she quickly bit her lip to keep from saying more. Why had she given him her nickname? Only her family was allowed to call her Rina. And even worse he was an enemy.
He finally found what he wanted walked to the fire, placing a pan over it, then finally the meat. She could immediately tell that there wasn't much food. He had only packed enough for himself for the night.
Her stomach let out a loud growl when she spotted the piece of bread that he took out. She quickly set her sight on the distant wall as she thought. She had no illusions that he would share with her his food. Why would he? He'd already gone above and beyond what any person would do. Especially, a Sarmatian knight to a total stranger. The smell of cooked meat was starting to get overwhelming. Maybe she would try her luck walking in the rain, alone, at night.
She stood up and took a step toward the door.
"Sit," Tristan commanded. She looked at him and he motioned for her to sit next to him.
"I'm not hungry," she said, but sat down near him. He evenly split his meal into two and gave her the other half. She stared for a moment. He wasn't acting like a Sarmatian knight, a man who killed her people. He was acting, nice. She didn't like it. "Thank you," she said, not forgetting her manners.
He just shrugged, keeping all of his attention on his food.
She watched him as she carefully ate her food. Her eyes stopped over his tattoos, mind wandering over the possible meaning.
He continued to eat as if she wasn't staring at him.
"Can I ask you something?" she finally asked as she dragged her body closer to him.
He raised his eyebrows but nodded.
"Why are you here?"
"Does it matter? I was there when you needed me," he pointed out. "Why are you out in the forest alone?"
"I would have been alright if not for…" she caught herself just in time and crossed her arms over her chest.
The shack rumbled with the thunder. The two looked up and around as if expecting everything to collapse around them.
Slowly, she rubbed her eyes. "My cousin," she whispered. "He's… he's dead." At those words she started to cry.
Tristan shifted uncomfortably. This was not a situation he had ever found himself in. His fellow knights had talked to him about emotional females, but he had never had to deal with any.
He looked around then scooted closer to her. Hesitantly, he reached out and touched her hand. She turned and wrapped her arms around his neck, crying into his shirt. She didn't seem to notice that he still wore his wet clothes. He stiffened, now more uncomfortable than ever.
Despite the fact that he was uncomfortable he didn't move, allowing her to cry. He didn't touch her. He wasn't even sure how to touch her. Place his hand on her back? Small of her back? Her head? Her shoulder? He had no idea. So he just sat there with both of his hands on the ground.
Slowly, her sobs turned to soft whimpers as she began to relax. "Thank you," she whispered.
He opened his mouth to respond when he realized that she was asleep. Slowly, he laid her down, half tempted to curl up next to her and share her warmth. But he was still wet. Instead, he focused his eyes on the fire, and not the sleeping woman before him.
Myrina awoke to a splitting headache. She let out a yawn and turned to her right then bit her lip to keep from screaming. Tristan slept beside her. She quickly rolled away from him and took stock of herself. Physically, she felt fine, except for the headache. Carefully, she got on her knees and leaned in to get a closer look at his face.
"Tristan? I see yur horse. Git out 'ere," a voice from outside snarled.
Myrina looked at the door in fear as she heard horses and more voices. She jumped to her feet and spotted the open window. She didn't think for another minute as she ran to it.
Tristan quickly got to his feet just in time to see his clothes drop to the ground. A hawk flew out of the window. He knew exactly what she was.
"Tristan? Ya in there? Galahad, go in there and see if it's him," Bors shouted.
Tristan quickly packed his things and opened the door to find Lancelot there. The dark-haired knight smiled slyly as he tried to peek through Tristan's body. "Got some company?" he asked.
Tristan let the door open fully as he walked over to the small shelter where he had tied his horse. It greeted him with impatience as it stamped its foot on the ground. Lancelot wouldn't find anything, even if he searched the whole shack. Tristan had put Myrina's dress into his bag for safe keeping.
"Let's get going, Tristan," Bors demanded. "Vanora could be giving birth to my boy any day now."
"Don't you mean my boy?" Lancelot asked with a raised eyebrow.
"As if Vanora would ever sleep with you," Bors spat back.
Tristan ignored the knights' banter as they made their way back toward Arthur and the rest. His mind kept replaying Myrina's quick exit. She had turned into a hawk there was no doubt about that. Which meant that she was a druid. There were many rumors about the druids of old and their powers. But Tristan had it on good authority that all the druids were killed. But she had escaped somehow.
"How else can you explain how beautiful your children look?" Lancelot teased. "Because they all belong to me."
Tristan rolled his eyes as he looked around into the woods. Suddenly, fear flowed through his entire body. What if it was a trap? What if she was waiting for the other knights and… No, it wasn't a trap. She had been scared. He had seen her face when she heard Bors. She wasn't happy for catching them, but scared. Still, his eyes scanned the woods looking for a hint of someone preparing to attack them, but saw nothing.
"Back to the Wall," Arthur commanded as soon as the rest of his knights joined up with him. Tristan let out a sigh as they rode out of the meadow and back to Hadrian's Wall. Part of him wanted to see that woman again and part of him was glad that he was never going to see her again. She had opened up a part of him that he wanted to keep closed.