A/N: Hiya there guys! Sorry for the long wait! Soooooo much happening at the moment...anyways HUGE thanks to the following who reviewed/favourited/followed - JulieAKAweirdo, (as you're a guest I couldn't reply to your review - so yes he is! LOVE him in that even though it's only a small role...oh well! Eye-candy is enough eh? ;) ) and im-a-wizard, - your wonderful! This ones for you guys :)
Anyways, Read Review, Favourite and Follow - but most importantly - ENJOY!
Gawain decided that there was no one person on this earth that he disliked more than the man he had just met. Lord Gower was as arrogant, rude, sly and greasy as what Arthur had described him as. Gawain narrowed his eyes at the wall of his chamber as he absentmindedly fingered one of his blades.
He and Tristan had arrived early in the morning to Caer-Sallog, five days after they had departed from Caer-Legions. As soon as coming to the gate of the city, they had been accosted as to their business, and only after much argument were allowed to enter. The reception they received was less than friendly, and their official greeting with the lord of the citadel had gone less than smoothly.
• • •
Tristan and Gawain had finally been escorted through the main keep to the great hall after waiting for hours in the main courtyard. Needless to say, they were in a foul mood by the time they entered through the two large doors.
The tawny haired man was visibly angry, his blue eyes flashing as he stormed down the halls. On the other hand the only thing that gave any indication of the scout's annoyance, was the faint tick of a clenched muscle in his jaw.
The servant that had been leading them nodded to the two guards either side of them. As he did so, the two men pushed open the large doors they had stopped in front of. The room they stepped into was larger than they had first anticipated; it was smaller than the great hall of Camelot, but still large enough to fit several long, rectangular tables in. A raised platform at the back of the hall contained a large throne-like chair which Gawain noted with disgust. The tall young man languishing on it, who was being fed what looked like cold meats, provoked nothing but dislike in his mind.
'Ahhhh the famous knights of the beloved King Arthur!' the man Gawain presumed to be Lord Gower called from his seat, a belittling sneer flashing across his features. 'So good of you to come, and uninvited also! To what does this humble lord owe your invigorating presence?'
Gawain could feel his temper rising at this insidious little man, but forced himself to be polite. 'Lord Gower,' he inclined his head respectfully as he spoke, 'King Arthur sends his greetings and invites you to Camelot in a month's time for the weeks festivities celebrating the Queens birthday. You would be his respected guest as a Lord of your station entitles.'
The sneer was gone from the other mans face, replaced by a look of cold indifference. 'What do I care of festivities? ' Gower said with a dismissive wave of his hand, causing the tawny haired knight to bristle indignantly.
'Have a care what you say Roman,' Gawain replied sharply, his temper beginning to get the better of him, 'This is not the Britton of old, run by your people. I suggest you give our King the respect he deserves.'
Out of the corner of his eye, Gawain saw Tristan, who had been silent throughout the meeting, shift his stance slightly, as he always did when preparing for an attack. The soft glint of metal revealed itself as the scout leaned against a pillar, slicing the apple he had produced from his pocket into small, bite-sized pieces.
Gawain noted the silent threat, and so too it seemed, did Gower. The ex-Roman Lord shifted in his seat uncomfortably. The knights, over their years in service to Rome and afterwards had acquired a dangerous reputation and all were feared, some more though than others, if Tristan was anything to go by. His reputation for bloodlust and as a cold-blooded killer struck fear into the hearts of many and Gawain was certain the only ones he counted as friends were his fellow Sarmatians. And that damn bird of his.
'Of course, of course, I meant no disrespect to your King knight' Gower said with false apology.
Gawain cocked his head as he looked at the other man. 'Only our King?' he asked in pretend confusion. If this no good piece of slime was going to play pretend then he would oblige him and play along. 'You are saying 'your' a lot noble. Is not Arthur your King also? We did receive a note containing a missile of your fealty at his coronation...' Gawain trailed off, straightening up and stepping forward in a silent display of aggression.
Lord Gower straightened up from his previously languishing position and stood, the height of the platform he stood on making him tower over the two knights. 'But of course, my Lords, you understand completely my meaning!' he replied, 'Excuse my slip of the tongue, but my mind is else where tonight. My apologies.'
Gawain stepped back to his fellow Sarmatian, and watched as the Roman stayed where he was on his platform, unwilling to give away the small amount of power he had over the other two men.
'Dear knights, you must be tired,' Gower simpered with false sincerity, 'let me have a servant show you to your rooms. Unfortunately I have other business tomorrow and will not have time to see you before you depart. Please send a message of my fealty to your king upon your return.' and that was where they left him as they followed the servant to their rooms.
'There is nothing I would have liked more than to kill that man where he stood,' Gawain growled to Tristan, who sat at the table in the center of the room, 'We have given him his message, and now I feel we must leave as soon as possible.'
Tristan nodded in reply, 'Tonight then, under the cover of darkness we will leave,' the older man said, his voice low and dark, 'but quietly. The walls have ears.'
Gawain continued to think about the look the Roman Lord had given them long into the night, as he waited for the moon to rise into the middle of the sky. He had seen that look once before, on the face of a crazed Druid who had tried to murder the woman Kalyna. One part greed, one part intelligence and three parts insane. Thankfully, the look had been wiped from the Woad's face by one of Galahad's better placed arrows. This time however, on the face of a rich Lord instead of a hunted Druid, it did not bode well.
Suddenly there were two soft knocks on the door, and Tristan slid inside the room, his face, and the braids that framed it shadowed by the cowl of his cloak. 'Come.' the older man said simply, before slipping back out into the corridor, Gawain, in similar attire, following close on his heels.
Just as they turned a corner, they heard footsteps behind them, and the pair pressed themselves against the wall, listening as several men stood at the doors to their rooms. Silently Gawain moved until he could just see around the corner, noting the men were not dressed in the official uniform of soldiers, but in the garb of mercenaries. He watched as one put a finger to his lips, before pulling a dagger from his belt and motioning for his companions to enter the rooms.
Just as he was about to move forward to accost them, Gawain was pulled harshly back into the shadows by a firm hand.
'Do you wish to get out of here alive or not?' Tristan hissed in Gawain's ear, and gripped his arm in vice like fingers until he nodded, 'Then move!'
With a quiet growl, Gawain pushed himself up and around the corner, and down to the stables, feeling Tristan's dark presence behind him. 'Come Gringolet,' he whispered as he tacked up his grey stallion with practiced hands. The horse nickered quietly as if understanding the need for stealth and affectionately nudged his rider before he mounted 'Tristan, let's get out of here.'
When Gawain turned to look for his brother in arms, for the first time, he noticed the man's absence. 'Tristan?' he looked about in confusion, before calling out in a hushed whisper. 'Tristan! Where are you, you stupid scout?'
'I am here.' the older man replied icily as he strode through the front doors of the stable, throwing himself up into his saddle 'The gates are open, we do not have much time. We must go. Quickly!'
With that the two men urged their horses out into the night, their horses hooves slipping on the dirt and cobblestones and cloaks flying behind them as they galloped through the streets. Suddenly, out from the darkness, a voice cried out in alarm to shut the gate.
It was too late however, the knights flew through them before the deed could be done, the pair of soldiers on gate duty lying unconscious at their posts. Gawain stole a glance over his shoulder as they rode and noted several figures on horseback galloping close behind.
'Tristan! Behind!' he called to his friend and the man glanced over his own shoulder, before turning to look over at him and giving a sharp nod, his eyes dark.
As they rounded the corner in the road, they pulled up their horses in the middle of the path and prepared for the men that were rounding the corner. Gawain pulled his axe and sword, each in hand from his belt; twirling them in his hands lovingly. Tristan pulled out his already-strung bow from the front of his saddle and an arrow from his quiver, notching it, ready for the oncoming attack.
The only thing that crossed Gawain's mind as the men rounded the corner, was that they were not dressed as soldiers, instead as mercenaries, presumably the same ones that had been outside their rooms. Then one fell, an arrow in his throat followed soon after, by another, Gawain's axe in his gut. Then everything spiraled down into killing and blood.
• • •
They rode for some time in silence, the rain that was a trademark of the island dripping down from their cloaks and splashing onto already-soaked clothes. They followed the road with all its twists and turns until the fief, and the spilled blood, was far behind them.
Gawain was deep in thought as his mind replayed the deaths of the hapless soldiers. Quickly his gaze flickered over to his dark companion, who rode next to him in stoic silence. Tristan and he had killed the men who had attacked them with ease, and Gawain was a little surprised at the lack of emotion he had felt as he felled the men. Dimly he realised that the more he killed, the more he lost any feeling of regret for the slain. It had been long since he had first spilt blood and long would it be before he did so no more.
Suddenly from the trees ahead, an anguished scream echoed along the road, magnified by the rain and startling the two Sarmatian's from their thoughts. The men looked to each other for a moment, before urging their horses to stretch their strides forward into a full-out gallop, just as another scream rent the air.
A/N: Gringolet is a part of Arthurian Mythology and is the official name of the horse of Gawain, meaning 'snake-headed' (weird name in my opinion...)