The Passing Lily.
Disclaimer: No monetary gain is made from this, I actually lose money due to electricity costs…
"Our lives are not our own, we are bound to others, past and present. And with each crime every kindness, we birth our future." –Cloud Atlas
-"It's the oddest thing, you know?"
-(No I do not)
-"There are hundreds of universes that are exactly the same, except they're not, you know…"
-"Sometimes, the eternal spirit of some universe mingles with the one in the next, kinda like a glitch of sorts, correct?"
-"Sometimes, the flow of time isn't worth a jar of excrement in those universes, and some couples start boinking incarnations before they're supposed to."
-(I should've taken Lord Melloi's classes…)
-Wizard Marshall Zeltrech, A Class on Fractures of Reality. (Attendees: 1)
The wagon was a rickety affair as it traveled upon the rough road. Pulled by two oxen, however, the horrible form of transportation was the most tenacious of the many wagons that traversed the dirt snake that flowed across the green hills of Britain. Like a single stream of ants the carts carried their payloads with diligence, but the one pulled by the brawny oxen was one of the few who stayed at the very forefront, untiring even as many pulled aside to rejoin at the end when their beasts of burden were fully rested.
However it was not the animals that made the wagon special, nor was it their odd tenacity that markedly made them different. Amidst sacks of grain a page slept soundly, clutching contently upon the two and a half short sword that was held against rough cotton. Against all odds, it seemed, the page was lucky enough to choose this singular wagon that miraculously did not need to stop, and therefore not have its stocks checked.
The page would not be discovered until the wagon arrived at the town, but the merchant driving the wagon would be so pleased he would simply leave the child there and return the page later on.
I doubted I would ever see such kindness from any merchant. The fact that he had promised to return me to my village baffled me soundly. The many merchants I had met, would tirade endlessly upon discovering a stowaway had been present upon their wagon.
The situation was so bizarre that I decided to leave before the merchant acted as I expected of him and enter the town at the end of the pathway. I wondered if I could truly return to the trading depot to request a ride home, but the conclusion to that train of thought rested firmly upon the outcome of how well the merchant would be able to sell his wares.
If his good spirits and light demeanor carried over as he sold his wares, as well as his advantage of being the only wagon currently present with the important foodstuff, wheat and oats, that many families depended upon. Concluding that logical train of thought, I found that it was very likely he would be in a very optimistic spirits when I hazard my request for my passage home.
A great weight lifted from my shoulders at this conclusion, though I still worried lightly if it was a forgone end; it was nowhere near the weight that dropped beforehand. Excitement started to bubble within me as I saw the sharp steeple of the church in the distance.
So engrossed upon those thoughts, I did not hear the footsteps upon the muddy terrain I was steadily working myself through. Work towards all the forms of combat aided me in my steps, keeping me steady as my leathers sank into the muddy pathway.
It was another matter entirely for the person who crashed onto me however, and quite suddenly I was tumbling down the side of the hill upon grass. The world becoming a steady, yet chaotic, twirl of red, green and blue. I have no doubt, had I not been trained by my mentor so fastidiously to shield my neck even at the slightest provocation of falling I would have most definitely have died.
As the ground finally stilled after my tumble, I was able to get myself upright within a moment. My state of dress was abysmal, scratches by rocks along the ribs and stains of grass on my brown tunic made me look like one of those children that roughhoused the day away. Sir Ector would undoubtedly say the same and have me mend it myself, and his inquiries would undoubtedly lead to my plan's ruin within the day's end.
I quickly sought out the being who was responsible, my eyes scanning the area with righteous fury.
I spotted the edge of a red scarf within a bush, and it's rustling gave the person away, and I strode confidently as I realized that the cause of my future punishments was hiding and had no thought upon apologizing.
I was more than ashamed of myself when I met pitiful gold eyes as I looked over the bush. The boy had the long, wild hair of many peasant families, a vivid red in color, and was clad in a thick canvas sweater that was patched with a multitude of other colors. The article was many sizes larger for him, possibly belonging to the his father rather than himself. It pooled around him as he splayed himself out arms determinedly holding himself up, and noticeably keeping his weight away from his legs.
If my oath had not forbade it, I would have sworn in the Holy Father's name right there.
I could not harm someone in need of help, with good conscience, especially if I was to become a knight alike Sir Ector.
I ignored his pitysome look with a sigh.
"Are you hurt, badly?" I inquired, attempting to harden myself against my emotions.
He shook his head thoroughly, attempting to reach for something. My eyes followed his grasping's, maybe he was a cripple and required a crutch? It was unlikely, since the force that sent me tumbling over was much too fast for a cripple.
My eyebrow raised at the tablet lined with clay a few feet from his grasp, a wooden stick with a pointed stone attached to it with a piece of twine. I deftly reached the object with a few strides, the aches from the fall steadily registering themselves as I walked. They were worth noting, merely because I would have to hide them from sight later on, they were negligible otherwise. The warnings of Sir Ector to properly clean wounds rang from deep within my mind, however, and I realized I may have to ask this boy to lead me to the town's well should I wish to do so.
Once the tablet reached his hands, I was awarded to the interesting sight of him quickly writing upon the clay tablet. I was flummoxed when he handed it to me, however, and returned it to him after a quick glance.
"My training in the literary works begins the next solstice." I stated as he looked aghast at me. I felt a twinge of discomfort at his countenance, but that was swiftly crushed at the remembrance that I but one of the majority that was unable to read. Not only did I hide my pride under the deficits of the multitudes, but also under the premise that I would most certainly learn how to read later on.
It took me a moment to realize the importance of the tablet, but when the marks connected I voiced my thought into the air.
"You are unable to speak."
The boy gave a nod and a smile given by mother's when their children learned something quickly. The smile was alien to me, and I was left dumbfounded for a split second. The boy just found that his only source of help could not understand him and his inability to speak aired out, yet he smiles? His demeanor was undoubtedly even more confusing than that of the merchant, since I could find nothing benign upon his plight.
As I was engrossed upon my thoughts, he attempted to get up. His face contorted in pain and his legs shook with effort. It was not until he almost fell, quickly grasping onto a tree for support did I break out of my stupor and aided him wrapping my arm around his waist and pulling another over.
I almost wish I had not.
I was well aware of the famines that plagued the land I was within at the moment, information brought forth by listening to the many boisterous voices and avarice-laced claims of the merchants that followed the wagon I had chosen. A marauding band of bandits burnt the town's crops months ago, to spite them for repelling their attack yester-year and the merchants had in stock the resources that would undoubtedly save the town and intended to sell it at exorbitant prices.
The boy's body felt like bones wrapped upon skin to my hand, and the shift of his scarf as he stumbled into my arms revealed the silvery hue of scars across the front of his neck. They were the same I had seen countless times upon the burly arms of Bram, the blacksmith Sir Ector had commissioned to craft my blade. The boy's still had the strange luster that accompanied Bram's newer burns from his billowing forge, signifying their recent manifestation.
I was disgusted by my own disgust at the sight, certainly I could respect someone who could endeavor despite his wounds instead of feeling weak at the knees. That disgust gave away to surprise when my eyes trailed back up to his face to see his smile once more, as he pulled up the scarf with the hand holding his tablet. It was a sad smile, but understanding, I had the strangest feeling he wasn't wearing the scarf for his own sake but for others.
I pointedly looked away, swiftly awarded with a small sigh from the benefactor of my aide. Whether it was one of contentment, or of disappointment of my actions I did not know. The mixture of surprise and disgust threshing my nerves fairly, and it was not until my beneficiary made a feeble attempt to clear his throat.
The odd sound startled me at first, and terrified me the next. It was guttural sound that I was sure that no man should make, vaguely reminiscent of the sound of an animal that had its throat cut open to end its life.
The sound was so dissonant to his smile and features I nearly lost my nerve and left him to seek aid. Preferably from the confines of the castle I resided and not this imbecilic property that allowed him to traipse in its territory as if he was in complete control of his linguistics and not suffering from malnutrition and maybe even starvation.
"I will aide you to your home." I stated, fully intending to forsake my attempt to conceal my identity and demand the right to take him from where he resided and return with him to make sure he is under proper care. However, I had not even finished my sentence when he started to shake his head rapidly, pointing in the direction of the Trade Depot with the hand not hooked over my shoulder.
"You are harmed," I stated pointedly, and when our eyes met I couldn't help but feel smaller at the ferocity within them. While certainly not one that I expected from one of his countenance and disabilities, I could not shake the feeling that such an expression held true to the personality he most likely utilized the most. "It would be unwise to wear your body any further, unnecessarily."
His continued glare made me want to swear, my patience was quickly being steadily worn away by this odd boy. I had half a mind to simply leave him and guard him out of sight, but fear crawled into my bowels at the thought that he might attempt to climb up the steep hill with his bare hands should I not aid him.
Despite the improbability of such a thing, I could not help but to fear the drastic measures he may take should I leave him to his own devices. The ferocity of gaze, his continued pointing toward the Trade Depot, only strengthened the fear that someway, somehow he would do exactly as I feared without my aid and bullheadedly rush up the mountain without even a care for his own countenance and safety.
"So be it." I muttered in such a dark fashion I feared Sir Ector would bend reality to simply chastise me for my tone. I gave him a pointed look, that I hoped conveyed my true displeasure at his choice, but otherwise let no bone in my body convey my displeasure.
The only question was why I was not troubled the least about aiding him, or why I worried more of his health and his inability to speak more than I did of his displayed stupidity. It felt odd, but correct at the same time to support him. Each step helping him, made me feel more at ease, while each gasp of pain made me worry more and more of his health.
I could only acknowledge it as the teachings from Sir Ector shining through as if a revelation upon the true joy of helping others as a knight.
When we reached the road where he knocked me over, I had already forgotten of my own aches and pains. When my boots touched the muddy pathway as his did, I had already forgotten that I was not supposed to be there and I beamed at Sir Ector as he stood furiously upon the pathway where I slipped and fell.
It seemed when I was being taken away, I could not help but have my thoughts continuously brought back to the boy. Even Sir Ector's continuous rambling about the sword that was no longer at my hip could not bring me out of my stupor.
I didn't even know his name, yet I could not help but feel fond when I think of him. The way he attempted to speak through his tablet even as Sir Ector carried me as if I was a bushel of wheat to his horse, despite the fact he was doing it through a godly amount of pain. There was no doubt in my mind that he was truly grateful for what I had done, my first true attempt to aid someone culminating fruitfully as he furiously sought to clear my name despite my actions.
Sir Ector would not allow me leave of the castle for months afterward, not even for the hunts for provision in the wilds. I found myself unable to loathe my choices, even as I slowly forgot about the boy himself. I found myself slowly warming to the staff and befriending the men and women who cared for me my entire life, and even seeking out to aid them in menial duties.
Some nights I would, of course, be unscrupulously asked what instigated the change in my relations with the servants and the lower classes and truly I was only able to grasp at straws.
Though an odd smile and the color of gold was always brought to the forefront of my mind whenever the question was asked, I thought nothing of it and favored replying most befitting a noble squire to a favored companion by soaking said companion with a pail of water.
I began to make friends.
"Sir Kay…" I muttered a tad spitefully, "A tournament with the rule of the kingdom on the line and you forget your sword?" I sniffed egregiously as I passed the garbage dump of the encampment, "You have most certainly done this to simply spurn me for revealing your romances to Sir Ector."
How many weeks must we stay at this rapidly rotting place? All for the sake of some sword buried within a stone, for the sake of a wizard's words. As the story went, a being that went by the name of Merlin appeared amidst thunder and lighting and thrust the sword into the stone. Then he declared that that whoever pulled the sword from the stone was rightful ruler of Britain.
What a load of bollocks, the wizard had probably enchanted the stone to never relinquish it and simply wanted to be entertained for moment's time. Once the Holy Order of the Church arrived, the wizards folly would be unraveled and he would be put the pike like the rest of his kind that intruded upon the lives of well-meaning.
Maybe they would even ask for the help of the Sirs and Lords present, and Sir Ector would allow me my dagger Carn once more. It has been a fortnight since I had last seen the blessed knife, given to me by the foremost-priest in the Monastery a week's ride from my home. It had been a boon when seeking that witch in her pitch-black cave, and aiding an old friend of Sir Ector's to marry his lover.
It would be undoubtedly helpful to finding whoever was causing this maddening, meaningless tournament that was an absolute waste of time.
Though I was quite sure that Sir Ector would consider my own machinations to continuously seek my companions to be the same. I could not help myself to allotting time to my numerous relations, it was a ghastly thought to even suggest that I ignore my acquaintances in favor for something as trivial as this tournament.
By all means, at this rate I'll never find out if Tolle finally gets it past his perplexingly dense head that Scylla was nearing the end of the rope when romantic advances were in question and was pondering on strapping him onto a bed and having her way with him to convey her affections.
So distracted was I upon the spite; I was unable to notice the quick movement ahead of me. One moment I had been upright, the next I was upon the well-trodden grass with an uncomfortable weight upon me. My eyes met those of the trollop that had follow onto me, all intents upon trouncing him soundly with both fists and speech suddenly draining away as a wave of strangeness engulfed me.
He left my grasp almost immediately, pulling us both upright and between the spaces of a canvas tent. Thunderous footsteps and boisterous yells erupted from where we were previously occupied. His actions alongside the lack of ringing metal told me all I needed to know, the tournament's collection of unsavory proprietors had grown tremendously the past week. The town would have been ransacked had there not been an overwhelming presence of knights in the area.
Still, anyone carrying anything vaguely of any worth would be pursued and beaten for whatever they had.
Truthfully, I had cared very little of the occurrences of this town, due to my abhorrence to the festivities and its overall un-necessity. For some reason or another however, I found myself caring very much of the increase in the town's crimes this day and the inherent stupidity of the fellow for even traversing the outskirts of the tournament where criminals roamed and hunted.
I did not even bother with introductions, I immediately pulled down his red scarf and glared right into his surprised golden eyes.
"You should not be out here." I hissed plaintively, glaring at him for all my worth. Taking in his features akin to a sponge to water. Despite the years that had passed I recognized him the moment he entered my proximity. His features were noticeably filled out, his eyes less sunken and his cheeks less prominent. His hair was trimmed, far from the excessive length I now remembered with extreme clarity, akin to Sir Kay's despite being more lengthy and of the color of red.
His eyes widened further when he took in my own features, undoubtedly remembering me as well. He fumbled for the briefest of moments, before suddenly starting as though a torch had lit him. His gaze left mine and I instinctively glanced to where he brought his own vision.
Upon the muddy ground, was the selfsame clay tablet I had seen years ago. At this point in time, it was completely within my ability to understand all but the most complex of literary works and communication between the two of us would have come as easily as breathing.
The only complexity at this plan was that the tablet lay in pieces, the stylus broken into twigs and the clay returned from the earth from whence it came.
I had not felt such an urge to swear since my dagger had been taken away, the only solace I found was from my erstwhile companion who seemed far more depressed about his undoubtedly assured lack of communication until he procured another. Given the majority of the populace's view on the art of literature and inscribing, I doubted that he would be able to procure it easily. It would be facetious for me to be presumptuous of the fact, but tablets such the one lying broken were most commonly found in monasteries where monks rewrote literature for future generations and could make no mistake in each transcript. The process of repetition that they tenaciously employed in their teachings dictated that without the tablets they would swiftly consume far too much parchment and ink to be self-sustained fiefs that they were.
Due to these multitude of reasons they also held a monopoly on the tablets and would rather eat their own extremities than give one away without a great deal of hazardous bickering and bribery. My own education at the behest of Sir Ector only came to fruition due to the knight's un-doubtable reputation as the keeper of the lands surrounding the castle and sheer force of presence in full armor and equipment.
Coincidentally I was already planning on procuring one from the nearest source available in a similar manner, despite the inherent costs and time the endeavor will consume upon its course I did not find myself mitigated from the flow of thought. Despite the un-doubtable tedium the procurement will produce I did not find myself the least bit demotivated at the simple behest that I would be able to communicate with my companion.
The plan already set within my mind I turned to the boy who just finished his sigh of dismay.
"Do not fret." I assuaged him simply, gaining his attention. "Such things are easily acquired."
The sight of his face as it contorted into a picture of dismay was a memory that I would not sell for anything in the world. He obviously knew the tablet's importance, and was in dismay due to the knowledge that attaining another would be nearly impossible.
At my behest however, attaining one would only be a tedious affair that I should undoubtedly hasten to accomplish to save both my precious time and his own. I could even fetch Sir Kay's sword as I changed into more appropriate attire for dealing with monks.
Coincidently that brought the wind behind my sail of thought to peter out. Changing would most certainly reveal my hidden gender to my unlikely compatriot, yet at the same moment I could not find it within any territory of my mind to suggest he make his way without aid to the church within the town.
Oddly the revelation of my gender to my unnamed companion did not strike me as odd, especially under the remembrance of his actions to clear my name against a furious Sir Ector. The feeling that he would not share my secret even under the direst of threats should I tell him to keep it, assuaged the little fear I had of the revelation that I had planned. Having saved his life I was assured that he would not say anything, even when taken into account his way of speaking was through the written word.
I looked him up and down, making note of his superior height, the shorter length of the slightly patchier sweater, and the woolen trousers that fitted him akin to an oversized saddle upon a mule with larger boots to match. He would be akin to a piece of coal amidst stones if he walked alongside me in the more populous areas of the encampment, and seeing as the crest upon my chest marked me as a Page of Sir Ector, the situation would be called upon by a bevy of sly eyes and passed on by dozens of mouths by the end of the day.
Notwithstanding my plot to demand a ways for my unlucky ward to communicated with me by threatening the local parish within full armor and armaments afterward, which I had planned to do with him in tow.
…bah, I cannot simply gave up in the face of such meager adversity. I'll ascertain a way to explain the rumors that will filter to Sir Ector's ear after I had acquired my companion another inscribing tool to communicate with.
My mind set in resolution I beckoned for him to follow me through the maze of tents, his long stride easily keeping him within arm's reach should he somehow slip and fall. I could not ascertain, as of yet, the condition of his leg, but taking into account the fact that many towns hardly gave adequate treatment of any wounds I would not be at all surprised if his leg was improperly healed and he was coping with the pain the past years.
Maybe an appointment with a the towns surgeon may be in order, but given the inconsistency between towns of the professionalism and skills of doctors I would be more at ease if I took him to my own physician rather than one I hardly knew. The doctor here could be mad and think that amputation would be necessary to relieve the pain, and that was certainly not a thought anyone would find at all pleasant.
So I made sure he was within arm's reach as we steadily made our way to the tent that was the quarters I resided in with Sirs Ector and Kay.
I hesitated briefly as I let him in, and my features must have contorted at the hesitation more than I had imagined as his eyes quickly caught my own.
He cocked his head for a second, before a light I recognized lightly as realization illuminated his cheeks akin to a hot fire.
My own face felt as if I had pressed it far too close to the fireplace as I attempted to reconcile my features and heartbeat into something more presentable. Could I truly have been so transparent so that he could see through my disguise without even seeing me undressed? The thought truly made me wonder solidly about the entire method of my practice of keeping my gender discrete.
His pointed finger at my Squire crest, and a gesture towards areas of the body that usually depicted the anatomy of a woman, managed to both infuriate me yet cause my cheeks to feel as if there were coals merely inches away and my heart to start imitating a horses gallop.
"I-it's a complicated matter." I almost swore when I heard my own stammer, and I turned away from him as I crossed my arms of my chest. No matter what I did I could not regain control over my heart or where my blood continuously boiled. "My gender must remain a secret, I expect only this in return for my aid."
Much to my chagrin he did not even pause before giving a nod and pointing to the table where a few slices of bread had escaped the ravenous bowels that had assailed the table just this morning. The remnants were but paltry remains that I considered scraps, but at the begging look upon his face and intermittent glances as he awaited for my conclusion made all too clear that underneath clothing and the height he was still the starved boy from years ago.
My heart stilled and I found myself assailed by feelings I could not accurately describe as they were truly foreign to me. When I acquitted to his pleadings his smile was so radiant that the feelings intensified and I desperately missed the gallops that my heart had been doing only moments ago as it was replaced by the feeling of cracking glass within my chest.
The feeling only continued to grow as he did not eat the paltry offerings left behind by the ravenous appetites of two Knights and a Squire and regarded as scraps. My red-haired companion merely packed them into his pockets with a beatific smile that I could only describe as saintly.
I could not bear to watch another moment as he consumed to smallest piece that had been left behind, and I regretted consuming the rest of the loaf at Sir Kay's teasing behest mere hours ago. If I had only left that singular piece intact he would have been able to take that and consume the rest…
I decided that if I pondered upon the matter anymore I would go mad, and strike out. Given the fact the nearest solid object was one of the poles that lifted the grandiose tent up, such a bout of anger would only threated the integrity of the structure.
As I undressed and began to equip my armor and arms, I could not help but wonder about my mysterious golden-eyed companion. He seemed to readily radiate a seemingly benevolent aura whenever I glanced at him, his features were kind and fair, his build towering akin to the many knights I had seen despite his youth and lack of nourishment and the selfless nature only seemed to continuously grind against my conscience if he was the one that received the benefits I had readily reaped.
The only conclusion that I found completely and irrevocably sound was that he would make for the perfect knight.
Everything was slowly spiraling out of control. The barbarians of the North were rampaging through the countryside unmolested as the kingdom was ransacked by famines. There was no food to be found to feed the men needed to man the battlements, and those that attempted were too weak to hold back the tide of muscle and rage. The few strongholds that remain are manned by tired knights protecting the starving peasants within as the world outside slowly burned under the torches of the invaders. Horses were slaughtered long ago and messengers no longer came from the outlying fiefdoms, having done the same.
Camelot was filled with refugees, a mass of writhing skeletons and thin sinew that begged for food that I could not provide. My most loyal Knights were spread thinly in support of the meager army sent out to quell the massive numbers of barbarians that plagued the countryside. My faith in them was resolute, but I could not see that they could not hope to quell it before much of my people starve upon the streets of my own city.
Camelot was bathed by the setting sun in a bright red light reminiscent of blood, the streets toiled restlessly by the homeless and forgotten. Even those with titles of nobles were lucky to sleep near the furnace of a blacksmith or the empty coal ovens of the bakeries. The farms near the city were plagued so by vagrants and homeless that their crops were mere fractions of what were required to support my burgeoning city.
My knights were culling the barbarian horde, my servants have been dismissed to the farmsteads, the guards patrolled the streets below and gathered the dead, and Merlin used his magics to traverse the lands in search of aid from the fiefdoms that had been not heard since the last solstice. The mad hope that some may have weathered the storm and had fruitful harvest was tantalizing enough to send the wizard away.
"My King!" A voice I had not heard for months sprang to life, and I peered down the hall only to be flummoxed at the sight of Bediviere running towards me with all due haste. Clad in full armor and plate, no Knight ever ran within the confines of such armor as he wore, his breathes were ragged and once he neared. "I bring grand tidings from Lord Leodegrance! You must accompany me at once to-"
"Calm yourself, Sir Bediviere, catch your breath them you may address me." I offered no alternative in my tone, and his jaw snapped shut at a moment's notice. After his breath was stable and his eyes person less manic in status I inquired: "What tidings do you bring to me from my Father's most loyal friend?"
"They had weathered the first barbarian onslaught successfully, my King!" Bediviere declared ecstatically his countenance now far removed from the battered knight he seemed to be, and my own eyes widened in conjunction with his declaration. His lands were mostly crops such as wheat and oat… "They have an abundance of food and crops, ready to be sent at Lord Ledegrance's command!"
"Why has he not sent the bounty along with yourself?" I demanded, quickly surveying the streets below to assure myself that I was correct in the lack of foodstuffs.
"Father awaits for my call, my King." A melodic voice came from the same direction from which Bediviere had come and I turned to face the speaker. Her gown was extravagant, soft, white linens supplanted by an shawl extravagantly embroidered with gold. Her hair was hidden by the same shawl, as she used the garment akin to woman in hiding, though I could not comprehend as to how something of such color and golden embroidery could hope to attract less attention.
I understood a mere moment after she stopped utilizing it as the failure of concealment, pulling it back to reveal her face and let auburn tresses flow and frame her face.
Bediviere bowed lowly.
"Truly your face would have put Helen of Troy's to shame, Lady Guinevere." Bediviere declared excitedly, and Guinevere curtsied demurely to us both as he continued to speak with continuous compliments. I found myself suitably enraptured by her graceful features and a deliberate kindness that seemed to radiate from her smile without pretense or judgment.
I had no doubts about her beauty, many of the noblewomen within my court possessed an ethereal beauty that could hardly be matched by any of the peasantry. Guinevere's beauty was breathtaking and utterly limitless, in comparison to her beauty I could not help but ponder that in comparison to her the noblewomen I had seen were the peasants they utterly outmatched in the spectrum of beauty. In comparison to her flawless features I could not truly believe that another woman could ever compare in the eyes of any man.
As Bediviere continued to pour continuous praise upon her, I was suitably confident in my ability to negotiate for the resources required to utterly bring the famine to a standstill without being hampered by her beauty during the negotiations and compromise my resources in any way, shape or form. I had no doubt if I had been a man like the utterly smitten knight by my side I would have be so enraptured by her beauty I would have proposed to her on the very spot.
I held up my gloved hand to stop my faithful knight from humiliating himself any further by continuously quoting authors upon abstract women from ancient times past. I had seen this behavior once before in a tournament, so smitten was he towards the local nobleman's daughter he could hardly speak to her without quoting the Iliad or, much to the bemusement of the local chaplain, the old testament.
The words need not be uttered that we had to nurse him back to help after the viscous beating given to him after he began to compare the reputable woman of faith to Sodom and Gomorrah. Sir Kay and Bediviere had both been in the same room since, due to the former's inability to stop himself from speaking about the humorous situation whenever the poor knight ever came within his sight. The only reason Bediviere could even sit amongst the Round Table next to my Foster Brother was that most of the knights already knew of the happening and no longer found the story of any meaningful interest.
The smile that graced my features were aided by the thoughts, the infallible humor whenever I recounted Bediviere's plight against beautiful women, aided sufficiently against the lethargy and melancholy of the famine and invasion. I took her offered hand, pressing my lips against her remarkably smooth skin while as I kept my eyes on hers, my other hand upon my Caliburn's pommel and my back utterly straight. The smile upon my lips widened very slightest as she realized her feminine charms had not affected me as it had undoubtedly down to dozens of Nobles and suitors before myself. She would have to negotiate before me as dozens of others had done, with her words and resources against my own.
I offered her my arm, a truly odd gesture as she stood a head above me, which she unhesitatingly took. Her hand sought for mine from her grasp upon my elbow with the most miniscule amount of hesitation, and I was utterly bemused at the lengths to which she was willing to go for whatever her father had ordered her to do from his perch in power. I quickly grasped it and kissed it once more, with the smile returning upon my lips.
"Pray tell, Lady Guinevere, I fear you no longer have any more hands for my lips to grace." I utilized my miniscule skill in charming of those of similar sex to myself, as I uttered the words with the most charming smile I could manage. "Though I am not hesitant of placing my lips upon your fair skin, the church will most certainly object to my continuous upholding of my gentlemanly code."
Her beatific face erupted into a lovely shed of red as she swiftly looked away. I let her hand fall from my glove and unto the crook of my elbow as was its customary placement. I swiftly tuned upon my heel and I closed Bediviere's unhinged jaw. Though I was quite sure that his jaw had returned to its former state as he realized I was guiding the bashful beauty up to the stairs beside by throne and up to my quarters where we can speak in private.
I had the oddest feeling that once my business with Lady Guinevere I would undoubtedly find him sitting slumped against the wall where I had just left him. A haunted look would be upon him, as he slowly repeated the lines I had just uttered again and again in full plate.
…but that surely could not possibly happen, and I continued to guide the lovely maiden to my quarters and past the great doors that led to my throne room.
Lady Guinevere and myself reached my chambers within a few inconspicuous moments. I was at a loss for the briefest of moments as I gathered my wits and scrounged for something that would be of proper etiquette of a King towards a visitor of great importance. There was no food to be spoken of so it could not be offered and neither was there anything to drink…
I excused myself from my stunning compatriot, and moved quickly towards a cabinet that had laid untouched since the last feast of my beloved city. It was after the first banquet celebrating the completion of my castle and its festivities that I had retired to my quarters with Sirs Ector and Kay with a nearly a dozen bottles of fine French wine. At the eve's end we had decided that we would most certainly turn the small outing of the parties into tradition and we swiftly amassed a variety of different wines that steadily ripened and grew delightfully as it aged, away from the kitchens and wine cellars that serviced the rest of the castle.
Merlin had taken quite the liking to having access to such an array of fine drinks that he enchanted it to stay as cool as the wine cellars bellow the castle so the liquors would keep well. I let myself get lost at the memory of the last gathering within my quarters, with Sirs Ector, Kay Bediviere and Merlin more than a year ago. My eyes darted within the confines of the closet five times my width, twice my height, and could store three armored knights within. I quickly found the one I sought, the third to last of the original twelve I had brought with my Foster father and brother, the wine had been aged for over fifty years before being sent upon goodwill and stored for another five. To say it was befitting of royalty would be an understatement, especially within these perilous times.
She took the glass I offered with a surprising hesitance, either she did not drink or was worried that the wine would hamper her ability to ponder the negotiations that would occur. From the accounts of my knights and my own eyes, I had learned that many of those that did not participate in the regimented training we knights dutifully exercise ever day was inebriated by a mere three glasses of wine. To properly inebriate a knight of stature such as Sir Kay would require the same number of glasses but with the containing bottles as the containers instead.
I was glad that a one of my knights had requested a glass once upon a distant evening, otherwise the two of us might have had to share the bottle instead the single cup I had offered her. I was more fond of drinking the wine from the container myself, I always found the taste of the wine differing once the liquid entered the glass and found some of the wine's flavor depleted from the action.
I sat on the mahogany table that was crafted for me by my old home's master craftsman, the mighty piece of furniture could attest to the man's skill as the wood had held up to more than a few fully armored knights sitting upon it. Having been carved rather than cut from a singular tree trunk, more than a few of my knights that were artisans adored the piece of furniture and insisted that the desk was a work of art. I sat upon it, leveling a leg length wise onto it and leaving the other barely brushing against the floor, while laying the three quarters full bottle at my side.
"So what does my uncle ask for his aide in ending these terrible times, Lady Guinevere?" I asked as she sat upon my chair and dutifully sipped at the near sixty year old wine with slightly hidden delight. I brought the bottle up to my own lips, taking care to not spill it upon the tunic I wore over my light scale mail, the embroidery upon had taken days to complete and would be sorely ruined when the odd color of a wine stain was upon it.
"My father offers his aide in return for a position of great importance to the Kingdom for myself." She declared simply and effectively, to my bemusement her cheeks already had the lightest tinged of red that signified the beginnings of inebriations. "For such a position he would send his grains to lessen the effects of the famine and apply his troops to Camelot's aid against the barbarians."
"Two thinks quite lacking my kingdom at the moment," I acquiesced to the offered items, feeling more elated than I had minutes before Bediviere had returned, I was only worried about the price I would have to pay. A position of great import certainly meant becoming my Queen, but with Bediviere's enamored babbles in mind, I could think of a person who she would be far happier with and still receive great, if lesser, renown by being acknowledged as part of the court the presided within Camelot. I pondered the idea for a moment, only slightly contemplating the thought of maybe arranging the marriages of my many suitors to my knights, it most certainly had appeal should there be no qualms between the two or vows of chastity broken by my knights. "And a position of great import can be arranged easily for a beauty such as yourself amongst my knights."
"Surely such aid in times of great hostility and famine such as this would be of more import than a single knight, my dear King Arthur?" She batted her eyelashes at me as she placed a free hand over her heart and tugged upon the fabric enticingly. Her beauty truly swept me as though I stared at a masterpiece created by a lost artist, appreciation of her beauty as effortless as breathing. I was once more thankful of my gender this day, this entire proposition would be lost had I been a man before this woman of near divine beauty. "Surely I single knight of the Round Table would be lacking in such of the regards of the lives to be saved by my father's aid."
I took another slow sip of the wine beside me, savoring the amazing taste of the perfectly aged liquid that utterly ruined the cooking of even my own chefs. I noted that she had drank the same amount as I had but was already in the state of inebriation that left her swaying ever so slightly.
"I fear that only a few of the knights would be happy with such an arrangement." I stated simply, and her head tilted ever so slightly in confusion. I gestured for her to move her cup forward so I may fill it once more.
"I am confused, My King." She stated wearily, and I had the oddest feeling she was playing with me as much as I was with her. I could not say that her blush was fake, but more than a few nobles could hold a glass of this strong wine. The way her voice was almost always alluring, the way she seemed so innocent yet ready, the way her appearance bordered upon a scandal yet somehow stayed firmly upon the 'correct' and classical form of appreciation at the same moment.
I would not believe for a thousand years this woman was in any way not trained to use her body to attract and lull in men with melodic tunes that issued from her mouth, the always slight pouting of her lips, the way her back was perfectly straight yet angled her bosom enticingly. This young lady, would most certainly be the reincarnation of Aphrodite herself to achieve this all by only the sum of nature itself. She was the perfect weapon against a man, she would be able to toy with the heartstrings eternally and maybe without even malice in her intention.
She was quite the adversary I must admit, but until I grew a pair of testes and a scrotum I would not be hampered by her the slightest.
I nodded gravely as I poured the wine into her awaiting cup.
"I fear that very few knights would ever profess to you when you make your intentions clear that you intend to take more than one of them to marriage and unto the antechamber." She froze perceptibly and the glass slipped out of hand. I caught it with no difficulty as I allowed a smile to spread across my face, my foster brother was most perceptive in women and I reminded myself to thank him later for the extensive repertoire of raunchy tales he told at the each of the gatherings.
I sipped the wine from the cup luxuriously as the woman in front of me lost her composure and began the stutter and blush as she recounted the words she had stated in her mind. The goddess of love disappearing beneath the blushing and utterly swept woman alike the dozens or hundreds that had attempted to woo me. I had faith that she would undoubtedly capitulate to my demands. The resources and forces will alleviate the strain of my kingdom and Bediviere will gain a loving wife in the process.
My people will be fed, my soldiers relived and returned to their families, and my most faithful knight will gain a wife that will make every man in the kingdom jealous of him and fill my kingdom with continuous allusions to history in attempts to romanticize women.
Honestly I feared the outcome of this meeting very much, but the hitherto experience in dealing with others I acquired from befriending my knights was invaluable. I had no doubt, that even had I still retained my advantage of not falling for this woman's charms without my prior advancements in social etiquette, or rather the intentional lack of its usage, I acquired with the help of my knights this meeting could have ended with a marriage with no love between the spouses.
"My King…" Lancelot's steps were astoundingly quiet for the gait of a fully armed knight, such was his prowess and skill in anything that was required of any knight. As one of the more recent members of the Round Table, I had not thought that he would have been the many to depart after my child's revelation.
I tried to be calm and address my faithful knight, but I was being overwhelmed at the site of citizens congregating at the courtyard below, all of them calling for the same thing over and over: Explanations. I was sorely tempted to give my own account to them as the question as to what could my words could do to placate the crowd of people I had lied to for the better part of thirty odd years. My mind was continuously blank, and I could not help but panic at the mere thought of addressing the crowd below when I had been unable to withhold my own precious knights from leaving in disgust of serving a woman who assumed the role of a man.
My kingdom was falling slowly to pieces, and merely because I refused to acknowledge the truth of Mordred's true identity before the gathering of a court. The simple act of lying and having my flesh and bone killed would have saved me from this pain and wretched agony as my subjects assailed the palace with their cries for truth. I… was unable to have Mordred silenced, my splitting image in red left as soon as the judgment was given back from whence my child had hidden and grown in anger at me for years and years.
The thought made my heart ache so much, the thought of hatred coming from my only flesh and blood as I aided others was-
A sword was pulled from it's scabbard, Arondight's blade sang through the air and my instinct to parry a blade and draw for combat against the most perfect knight was smothered by regret and pain. Undoubtedly following me was a shame he sought to erase and purge from the world, he would be heralded as a hero that destroyed the false ruler of England and freed the people from her false dominion.
Armored knees fell upon the floor as I had expected the blow to come, a helmet clattered across the room in a flash of silver and purple. My eyes tore their gaze from the crowd that steadily gathered below and onto the kneeling form of Lancelot with his head bared upon Arondight before him. The only thing that separated his head form the stone floor was the blade he so carefully cared for, never had he before so callously placed the weapon for the realms beyond upon the ground.
I stood speechless before the prostate knight and could not find the will to call him up.
"Forgive me, my Queen." He annunciated, his words as honest and humble they always were. His voice so clear like a brook trickling onto a lake, eased my nerves as I comprehended what he was saying. "For not being able to stop my fellows from leaving you in these tumultuous times. I ask that you do not punish them for breaking their oaths of fealty and accept them when they retur-"
"Oaths?" I whispered, turning away from the prostate knight, my voice felt dry as I rasped. I did not remember the last I had drank, neither did I remember when I had taken off the armor that seemed to weigh upon me so much. I could not remember where the sun was when I began watching the crowd of people below gather in protest. I could only feel the dryness of my throat, the overbearing weight of plate steel, and see the sun slowly cresting into the horizon. "You took no oaths to a woman, Knight of the Lake and neither did they. The power to punish your fellows does not lie with me. Sir Lancelot."
The speed at which he stood shocked me, I expected him to attack but he left his sword as he grasped my shoulders and turned me away from the scene I could only describe as a time of judgment and execution.
"Then who DID I take an oath to, my lady?" He demanded violet-azure eyes blazing akin to rolling storm clouds or harsh waves manifested by only the largest of lakes. "Who holds the authority to punish renegade knights that broke their oaths at the slightest tremor of the unshakable mountain?" He aimed his finger down at the crowd below. "Who can answer the call of the people as they demand they see the ruler, who saved each of their lives tenfold, unharmed and unchallenged?"
His hand reached for the blade at my hip and I immediately grasped the blade and caught his wrist in such a manner that he was unable to move .
"Who can hold the sword that could split mountains, and carve up the lands?" He questioned with subdued fury and another emotion that I could only see as alien in his eyes. "Who can utilize its power without becoming a worthless tyrant of all the free men and women within the isle?"
He withdrew his hand from the blade the alien emotion and the fury that was not aimed at myself still boiling as he kept continuously asking questions.
"Who can save their country from barbarians and famine acting together against the will of God?" Lancelot inquired, voice filled with passion and fire I had yet to see before. "Who can unite so many fiefs under a single banner by simply swearing fealty to them and uphold the weak bond through three decades?"
"I do not know." I admitted, shame burning my throat as they left my mouth.
Ferocity faded from his eyes leaving only the alien feeling within his eyes as he slowly kneeled, never breaking lock with my eyes.
"I do." He declared softly, picking up his sword by the tip and its midsection. He held the point at his neck and the handle towards myself. The ease to which I could kill him was the same to throwing a rock.
Another rebel tear made its way down my cheek, joining its compatriots that had been overcoming my defenses regularly hours hence.
"I do not deserve this loyalty." My voice cracked, I could only speak in such a whimper at this very moment.
"I do not deserve such a marvelous ruler." He declared a smile gracing his features a moment before his eyes broke away and he finally bowed his head and awaited my decision to ascertain his faith.
Arondight was heavy in my hands, built for Lancelot by the same hands that created my Excalibur and Caliburn, it was blade that could break past any defense and remain unbroken. I held it fast, the flat of the blade making me unable to see the knight before me.
The words that issued from my mouth were ones that I had given hundreds of times before in numerous ceremonies, to grant prestigious knights entry into the Round Table. They felt so odd as they issued from my tongue, as if it was their first moment leaving them rather than the a hundredth.
Lancelot resolutely agreed to each and every single one, and when the final line came and I dutifully changed my title and to my true name he smiled, looked upon me with eyes of great joy and said.
"So as I swear to you, upon my honor as a knight, Queen Arturia, I shall entrust you with my body and spirit, armor and sword till the end of days." He paused and looked earnestly into my eyes, "For I am sure that no other could hope to do as you have done, or do as you will do."
He rose as my first true knight. He was the first knight to come back to the round table, the first knight to look at my actions before my gender after my offspring's revelation and the great splintering of the round table. He gave me hope that others will return and that my actions will overshadow my gender.
Lancelot turned and sheathed his sword, as he walked to my side my breath caught at the sight at the doorway behind him.
He was not the last.
There were many missing and my heart ached so much for the faces I could not find amongst the crowd of steel and flesh. My heart ached for them, yet at the same moment joy refused to remained shackled by the chains I had weighed down upon it alongside my sorrow and grief. I could not speak, I was unable to address the congregation that filled the hallway as far as I could see.
"You all stand before the monarch of this country?!" Lancelot declared by my side, I had not even felt him kneel, but that was how he was upon his declaration. "Have you forgotten your places amongst royalty, Knights of Queen Arturia, rightful heir of the throne, savior of your lives and those you love?"
Sir Kay stepped forward, moving from the congregation in withering silence until he was in the distance between.
My foster brother met Lancelot's eyes, blue against purple.
"Nay, Knight of the Lake." The knight I had known longest stated, his prevalent smile shining as he knelt. My foster brother's eyes sought mine, and grew unbearably soft and kind a look that I had not seen and felt for ages. "I have not forgotten how she had slain that barbarian who eclipsed my strength, or the countless others who would have gladly taken it."
Bediviere kneeled opposite of him, the animosity between him and Lancelot that was ever present nonexistent for the first time in years as their eyes met and the tensest of nods flowed between them
He simply stated "Nay." Before bowing his head upon his knee.
Each Knight followed, following either example whether they were behind the first who had done so. Two lines were formed and stretched from one end of the castle to the other, longer even that the lines for the holy host during days of litany and prayer.
The sight of the loyalty, the strength beyond words to someone such as myself, who lied to them my entire lives, made the situation all too clear that I could never hope to be the righteous recipient of this loyalty.
"Rise, my faithful knights." My voice was barely a whisper, but as Lancelot rose from my side so did all the others.
I could never be worthy of such loyalty, no matter how much I worked to attain it.
"Stand at attention, before your monarch!" Lancelot bellowed, he drew his blade and aimed it at the sky in salute. Hundreds of blades were unsheathed, and cross-linked as knights faced one another in a ceremony I had not seen since I was crowned king.
For only the second time in my life, I walked underneath a roof of blades that collapsed behind me. My life entrusted in theirs not even a single strand of my hair was touched, or did I ever fear that I would be harmed.
I entered the curtain of steel once, and left a King.
I leave it once more, a Queen.
The ripples of magic that had summoned me from the Throne of Heroes dissipated into nothingness, to my bemusement another servant was already present. The situation for my summoning must have been upon the direst of circumstances, if the one I was bound to was already under assault. Excalibur was present, held in my right hand, but the reassuring weight within my left and upon my waist greatly doubled my confidence to the highest degree.
I had to wonder where Avalon, my final Phantasm, currently was, but the man wielding a spear's expression steadily readied itself for battle. The man clad in blue and light armor was most certainly a hero, his mere presence absolutely not allowing any sort of contest to his status, I could not afford to hold back my strength.
The ground beneath my foot shattered as I stepped upon it with three times my normal strength, Prana Burst working as reliably as ever, much to my happiness. I threw the cursed spear in my left hand at the spearman, the strength behind the blood seeking spear had carried it through thirteen men even at my most fatigued. Thrown at the stupendous speed I was shocked to see him attempt to parry my treasured weapon, managing to block its advance with his own spear's midsection.
The man clad in blue must not have thought upon the strength of the spear as he did of its speed, as his eyes widened considerably his spear struck him lengthwise upon the chest and carried him out of the structure with considerable force, his legs last to leave with his body first.
I was tempted to address my summoner, but such formalities were best addressed once the enemy was either dispatched or removed from the immediate area. The information provided by the Grail, that stated a summoner would be compatible with the servant to a very high degree, wrought a fierce battle upon my better senses. Who was the person who was undoubtedly alike to me to such an extent that I could be summoned to his aid.
I could not decide as to what I should do, so I made a compromise with myself.
I turned upon my heel, intending to merely look upon my summoner before pursuing the man in blue.
My eyes met gold, and the world invariably changed as his gaze met mine. The thrum of his mind meshed with my own as stated by the Grail would occur with highly compatible masters in the span of a few days, so that I would be able to aid him at the simplest thought. I had pondered upon the fear of another sharing my mind after a mere few days of knowledge of the other. His mind and my own connected within a simple meeting of eyes, and I could not say that it worried me at the very least.
Emotions flowed into me, fear prominent but utterly eclipsed by the extreme magnitude of his will to live. The thoughts were haphazard at best, but the moment since our eyes met had yet to pass when I began to understand how truly powerful the man I had forced from battle. The spear in his hand had pierced my master's heart and destroyed it utterly within seconds of its activation.
When our eyes broke contact, I was already through the doorway, my mind awhirl at the thought of my master's ability to survive such a blow and his stupidity at being killed in the war. When my strike with Excalibur was unceremoniously blocked by the wicked spear the blue warrior carried, my opponent was once more thrown aside by my strength. The warrior recognized the opportunity in the attack, and he immediately raised his spear to bury it within my heart in s single thrust. The provocation of my strength undoubtedly bringing forth to his mind the lethality of my presence and his choice to kill me at the earliest opportunity.
My left hand immediately went to the knife at my side, and in a movement born of habit I flicked the blade at the man. My fellow servant was about to thrust the spear whilst declaring its name to activate the power within when he suddenly had to stop due to the need to block my spear. He batted it away with as much force as he could muster, the knife generating sparks in contact with the blood uncovered spear.
My fellow was undoubtedly quite bemused when he had to do so again a mere second after he batted it away. The blade had taken off a witch's head when I had thrown it into the darkness, the blade sought blood as much as my spear did. The blessed white blade was a constant flurry of speed that attempted to get past my opponent's guard, my own energy was steadily depleting as the spearman was continuously harassed by the enchanted spear.
I took the moment of respite to accept as much as I could from my master, seeking as much energy as possible to utterly destroy my enemy.
Pain lanced through my link, my manifested heart suddenly beating strong enough to nearly cause an aneurism within my brain as sympathetic, phantom pain lanced through my entire body. My own mind was so clouded by the pain, all my control over my weapon disappeared and the spearman batted it away and retreated without another word.
Could it be another servant was already attacking my master?!
My heart stopped at the sight within the building, there was no servant attacking and harming my master, but my mind would have preferred had the situation been so. My master's every pore was bleeding, excreting blood in such a way I had only seen once, when Merlin purposefully activated a magi's latent power by forcibly opening the Circuitry within and draining it to an extent that it would need to activate to survive.
He was harmed by my own hand, and my own foolish thought to quickly dispatch the enemy that had escaped. Not only had I harmed him, but I also failed in the goal of the accidental harm I had inflicted. The energy coursing within me and thrumming within my veins, thrumming against its maximum capacity, only served bring more shame upon me. The mental connection did not cease in its constant transmission of pain, and I fretted anxiously as I strained to remember what Merlin had done after the poor youth's pathways had been opened so forcibly.
I lifted him from his prone position, settling him upon a table after I cleared it of the various tools upon it. I fretted to and fro, my mind scrambling as I paced and wracked my brain for the solution my wizard had come up with the sooth the boy.
Then, like a bolt of lightning, it struck
The wizard had given the boy some of his own energy to sooth the circuitry within! The thought had not even finished when I was already by his side. I set the spear, that had returned upon my pacing, into the ground and grasped my knife. I did not know how much of my blood would be required, so I pierced the artery on my right arm quickly, leveling the opening carefully above his open mouth in the process.
A single droplet of blood dripped into his awaiting mouth before the wound immediately healed itself.
I swore, thankful for the lack of presence of those who knew me, I searched the room with a deft eye. I had been sure Avalon had not come with me, but the near instantaneous regeneration reminded me immediately of the magical sheath's properties when I did not fill it with constant energy. The most ponderous part of the frustrating event, was the fact I felt the pain lessen the moment the blood had dripped into his mouth.
The agony that rippled through the mental bonds, however was still far too much in quantity for him to ever be in. I eyed my trusted blade, and my arm for the slightest of moments as frustration welled within me. The thought of pain from what I would do came alongside the thought that he would most certainly survive with what he was already given. Merlin had only given a few drops of his own blood, not even from the wrist, but from his fingernails. The amount of power within the drop of blood was enough for my master to weather this pain.
I feel as if… something important has happened to me.
I did not hesitate was I cut a vertical slit from wrist to elbow, I could surely withstand this and the pain was only a splinter compared to his own. The amount of blood that left my veins was staggering to see, an incandescent river of life-giving rivulets of red liquid. I tilted my wrist downward, allowing the droplets into his mouth. The frustration that welled within me as a few strayed onto his stained shirt was volcanic, and I gritted my teeth in anger when the wound closed a mere moment after I managed to coax down a paltry cupful down into his throat.
I could not understand it… was it possible?
The pain that emanated from his mind was still staggering to comprehend, every single one of his nerves was on fire and steadily increasing in temperature. My blood soothed so much, I could not bring it to myself to halt. I felt alike to a bucket of water that steadily dropped water onto a thirsty man's throat, I did not hesitate to harm myself again and allow the river of blood to stain the pure-white clothing provided by the Holy Grail as I coaxed more of it into him. The sight of him swallowing, and the slightest numbing of the pain that pulsed through our mental channels nearly brought tears of happiness to my eyes.
I had just met him.
The wound healed once more, and I readily reopened the wound with my beloved knife. The clothing and armor that had not been damaged at all by the enemy servant was stained by the blood I chose to spill by my own hand and knife instead. I angled the flowing river into his awaiting mouth, wiping away his blood matted hair with my free hand. When he did not need me to coax the blood down his throat, and he drank under his own power, my heart almost burst in joy.
The pain that addled his mind was nearly gone, my full capacity of power continued to mock me, the desire to give him the same amount I had taken was bizarre yet feverishly desired. I wanted to help him more, I could not settle for him merely able to rest after I had brought him harm. My hand was about to create another river of blood when his rough, callused hand grasped my own weakly. A weak smile accompanied by his golden eyes made my knees weak and shaky, he stated: "I do not need anymore." I was utterly entranced by his voice, I had thought him mute for some inexplicable reason. "…can I have your name?"
I stated my name, the gleam of recognition within his eyes manifested butterflies within me.
"Thank you, Arturia, for saving my life…twice." I could not help but fawn over how my name left his lips.
I had already fallen in love…
"My name is Shirou Emiya."
And a love story began.