It was a little unnerving to have so many people watching him train. Sure he was used to a few of the knights standing guard while Alasdair gave him his small lessons, but this was different. This was.. people he needed to have seeing him as an equal among them, to be on the same page, trusted and to trust them all the same for they were his only protection and as of current, probably the only ones who can protect this growing Kingdom of his that he treasured more than his own life. The King strung his bow, pulling it tight until the apple was set on the man’s head, then he let the bending wood gently slid back to it’s resting position as he lowered his bow. To shoot a comrade. Back during the first battle with Alfred, he had pointed his bow at the man’s head, but only because he was scared. Scared of this brazen powerful man that had been suddenly thrown into his life- no, here this man before him was one whom was married. He was teaching the King how to fight for himself as an equal, and even took the time to laugh with the King, to include him as Arthur not as their royal King. He could not possibly shoot him like this, for there was a risk, the slip of the hand, the slight of his sight. Though, the King’s worries were dampened by the cheering around him. Everyone trusting the King and even telling him if he hit poor Mark, it wouldn’t be any problem, he would get over it! But the man would be dead! Could they not understand that?! Arthur felt shocked, and his palms started to become clammy, sending Arthur down another fit of what ifs. He looked up in time to see the man nod, they all trusted him. Now, all he had to do was trust himself some. To let his heart fly the arrow- wait. That’s what the man was trying to teach him all along!
Arthur’s forest green eyes closed as he took a deep breath, feeling the cold breeze against his skin. Once his eyes opened it was like a flash, he lifted the bow up, straining the wood and with the clear twang followed by the dull thunk of the arrow hitting it’s mark, Arthur let out his breath calmly, lowering the bow. Right on, even splitting the apple. Maybe there was more to this aim with your heart gibber gabber this man spoke of. A man, wise for his years. The King would be wise to keep on the good side of him and to trust him… Suddenly, everyone was around him, patting his back so hard that he stumbled forward slightly and handing him ale. Knowing better though, the King politely declined the drinks and food offered, giving a gentle shake of his head and a polite turn down. It was bad enough that earlier he had to will himself just to eat. Earlier.. that’s right, all this fuss with training already had nearly caused Arthur to forget, but now that he remembered, his stomach twisted tightly. Hopefully there would not be any dire consequences from what had happened. He nearly didn’t hear Marks retort about the men washing, for he heard the footsteps of someone coming near- Alphonse. He turned his gaze to this man, fingers gripping his bow tightly. By the tone of his voice, something was very wrong.
Antonio. The King felt his heart lurch to his throat. It wasn’t a fear! How could he be afraid of something so meaningless… It was.. that this was going to cause a damper on their travels, all because… the King didn’t rendezvous with others in the way that Antonio had been seeking? Arthur brought his hand up under his cloak, gripping at the clock under his clothing, the one that kept a calm ticking against his heart, the one that Alfred had said was a key for him to becoming a great King. Slowly he was realizing what those words meant.
To be steady. Like the ticking of the inner workings.
“Aye!” He replied to Alfred’s request for the King to have his bow and arrow at the ready. Hiking his hood up over his sandy blonde hair and down over his forehead to shade his eyes, Arthur only put up a small fuss when his slim waist was grabbed by the Knave and set upon the horse. He huffed slightly and murmured that he would get better at mounting so that he wouldn’t have to be lifted any more. Though, as soon as the Knave was behind him and moving to be tight against the King like this, he felt his heart rattle against his chest.
This was dangerous. Bandits! Being lead to them, because of the King! He was the cause of everyone’s danger at this moment. The horses took off, gaining speed as they continued, pushing the still slightly frightened of riding so fast on the back of a horse, King against his Knight’s chest. Unlike before though, he could not turn to bury his face. He had to be attentive, to protect the Knave from any on coming danger from coming closer. However, it didn’t stop him from taking a glance up at the Knave. He didn’t tease him at all through his training with Mark today…
Maybe it was strange of him to not have concubines. Or perhaps he was upset that the King was easily approached and put into a situation like that… or was it because Antonio had been his friend.
“We… I am sorry Knave.” The ducked under a low branch, the horses splashing water on them as they galloped through the icy water to save them from trackers. “I shall be more attentive of things around me, and to stand up for ones self.” They vered off from the water, following their new route that had been sketched up in their minds last second. The horses slowed so that the group could recalculate where they were headed. They needed to stay under the radar for now, until they could completely shake Antonio and his men.
The cold wind touch their skin as the horse pump it’s legs to bring them to safety. With their men watching behind them, Alfred is confident that his people will protect the King even if it means to sacrifice their own life. That’s how these rogues do their work- they like to put their lives in gamble. You die, bad luck, if you survive then congratulations. Alfred whistled then points at the right, five men automatically went to that direction to leave trail, playing as decoy. Alfred whistled again then points forward, five more went ahead this time, only then the Knave pull the reins to lead the horse and few of his men to the left. They will find each other again in the small villages- of not then they can meet up at their destination. “If you have chosen something and believed that it’s right, stay firm with your decision, Sire. Kings shouldn’t show hesitation or his people will feel worry.” He said next to the King’s ear, blue eyes focus at their invincible path. Anyone would get lost in this wilderness but with Alfred’s flying companion above their head, there’s nothing to be afraid of. “Next time, if you don’t trust someone please voice it out so we can do something about it. I believe that King’s can sense dangers.. It runs in your blood, just like your father.” Reading a person’s personality requires great training but somehow, the Royal blooded family possesses a strange ability and that is to read if they’re lying or not, pretending or real, honest or a complete devil. Like how Matthieu understands people’s heart. Kings, Queens and their children can see through your mask. In Arthur’s case though, his abilities are yet to awaken, hence the training and exposure. If they let the King open his eyes by his own will then in time his power will merge out.
They ride as if they’re no tomorrow, running as fast as they can, cutting through the wind as they passed hills, farms, fields and valleys until their horses starts to give in. They’re at their limit but Alfred push through till they found an abandoned keep in the middle of a rice field. It’s already dark, his men and the horses are already starving. They need to get proper food, water and rest if they want to reach their destination by tomorrow. “Your rear hurting, Sire? We can rest here. I know this place and I assure you we’re safe here.” It’s been abandoned for years but Alfred and his friends renovate it from the inside. It may look old and about to fall but once inside it’s all stable. Walls fixed, ceiling and there’s a fireplace they can use to keep warm. There’s a bed as well but only one person can use it. “We’ll take turns. I’ll take the first watch while you people get some sleep. Make sure to eat plenty and water your horses well. Tomorrow we will ride harder until we reach the walls.” Alfred said as he dismount from horse then gave the King a hand. Poor man is all sore from the mad running and he look exhausted from worrying and being alert with his surroundings. They will all sleep inside the house to keep warm and their horses are in the stable just next to the building. They all gather up near to the fire place as they eat their dinner. It was simple but it’s enough to fill their empty belly. Stew with bread and meat and a wine to keep their blood warm. Alfred ate his share but he give half of the meat to Arthur, telling him that he needs more iron since he look a tad paler than before. “You can sleep on the bed. It’s comfortable and warm. I also place blankets just to be sure.” The Knave said while enjoying his goblet of wine, the King holding his own and now nearly empty. “Rest early, you look tired.” What about him? “I’ll rest after my first watch. I’ll stay near so don’t worry.” He cup Arthur’s cheek gently and like diamond his skin radiate the orange glow from the fire of the hearth. “You became stronger today. I’m proud of you.” If this was the same Arthur he met before, the King will surely cower in the corner of the room, probably crying and demand to be sent home but now he has changed- molded into a better King. Not that brave just yet but almost there, just a little more.
The Knave left to stand guard, everyone blow out their lamp save for the fireplace to hold warmth inside the house. With a blanket the Knave sat by the doorway, sword sitting next to him and the owl hooting nearby. It’s a peaceful evening despite the near death chase they encounter earlier. Now Alfred wonders if his friends are doing well, if they made it to a safe place or perhaps found a quick path to their destination.
Arthur woke up the next day. He can hear the people doing their routine outside while other’s made breakfast for everyone and watering the horses to make sure they’re fit for their long travel today. But instead of finding himself sleeping along inside the house, he was greeted by the Knave’s sleeping face just right next to him. Dark shadows can be seen right underneath his eyes due to lack of sleep, his hair that is now slightly long messy and a few inward hair fall on his face. He’s using his own arm as pillow and blanket dangle messily on his mid. He’s exhausted but sleeping peacefully at least and comfortable right next to his king.
See here, the Knave was praising him for keeping up his father’s tradition. Yes, his father had fallen in love with the most beautiful and gentle lady. She had been a native of the land, she was free and as beautiful as they come. Sadly, three pregnancies and four children- yes there was twin princes, proved to be too rough on her system and when Arthur was just a small child, she passed away. The past King never remarried after her, never had ‘relations’ with other women. A loyal man to his grave, where he was joined with his beloved once more. Arthur always believed he would be like his father in this ideal, marrying only one person and loving only them for the rest of his life, not having multiple women to please. To him, it wasn’t a very proper thing to do, even though he had heard of many Kings who had done so. Even the girls of their own Kingdom of Great Britain spoke of a man like such. With flowing blonde hair and eyes like sapphire gems. Tch, this King wouldn’t play with the hearts of others. Not like that, there was far better ways to substitute his time as a King than frolicking around and things like that. Arthur would rather read and be inspired to be a great leader. Though, it hung heavy in his mind that people suspected him of having such a lifestyle like other kings though. In fact, as he sat on the log by the fire with the plate of food in his lap, he pushed around some of it while he thought hard on it. Perhaps there was a rumour of the King’s lifestyle choices in his Kingdom because he broke off his engagement! Did he possibly soil his good name because of that selfish act of his? Terrible, this was plain terrible for the King. His reputation was held high, he was supposed to be revered as nearly Godly to his people, and was even out here in the cold and dirty world to help protect his people. Maybe if they knew what their King was doing… they would love him a little more..
With a sigh, Arthur set the fork on the plate and took a sip of his tea, staring into the fire. Was it natural to seek warmth of such indecent deeds with others because of loneliness? Was it because he was a high ranking royal that he was treated in such a way? The Knave never mentioned anything about strange and crude rumours about the King, but should he have to worry? Maybe these men knew what others were saying- maybe! They were talking about Arthur behind his back, murmuring about his rumours and…
Arthur’s shoulders arched up a little as he tried to shrink in size. Sure he felt out of place with everyone here, but that was because he did not know anyone, and what’s more was that they were different. He had been worried about small things, but this, this was something was frightened him. Arthur was the type of King who wanted to be loved, and recognized for his efforts given. Maybe no one wanted to do that. He swallowed thickly, swallowing down all these fearful thoughts and finished his food, although he was not hungry anymore. He had remembered talk about rations and things, and Arthur decided not to waste any food, not like in his castle where he could chose to refuse food at any point.
It was at this time that Mark came over to the King, placing a hand on his shoulder but quickly pulling back when Arthur flinched. “We are sorry, We were lost in thought.” The King apologized and stood up, thanking him for the meal. They were going to start archery lessons now, good. Something to distract the weary King from these plaguing thoughts. Though, he looked over to the Knave and it seemed he was pestered by thoughts as well as he walked away with heavy shoulders. Perhaps the King was right about such rumours. No matter. It meant he had to try and work harder. He would put extra effort into his lessons today, hoping to have himself learn quicker so not to be a burden but a help.
Best to clear his head and that’s why he decided to tend the horses while the King and Mark busy themselves with archery. Antonio is nowhere to be found which made Alfred more jaded than ever. He could be wrong about this but deep inside something tells him that Antonio shouldn’t be trusted, that something bad will happen if he continue to travel with that strange man. Antonio is a friend, they travel and conquer a few together but nothing strong that could match his relationship with Mark and Alphonse. Or maybe he’s just too paranoid. But my instinct is never wrong, I should keep my eyes open and have another talk with Mark and Alphonse about this. Best to prepare for the worst than wait for it to happen before taking actions. As Arthur and Mark start their archery lessons, their companion decided to watch as they enjoy their food while others resting before moving out to continue their journey. At first they remain quiet but soon they began cheering for the British lord. “Now you have to aim, Sire.” Said Mark after placing an apple on top of his head, back leaning against the tree and one leg loop over his other. “Don’t worry about me, bad grass don’t die.” Mark’s men chuckle and said that it’s true. They even persuade the king to aim at Mark’s private area for fun. “Now, now, no need to let out your anger by asking Artie to get rid of my glory.” Artie? That’s right, they need to keep his identity a secret and calling this man Artie will loosen the nervousness of his men. One way or another, they’ll learn how to treat the King as equal but still with respect.
“You can do it, Sire!” Said one of Mark’s men. “Don’t worry about leaving a hole in his head, he can take it like a whore.” They laugh, all the mockery is just for amusement. Alfred watch from the distance as he brush the mane of his horse, smiling faintly as more men gathered to watch and join in the fun. They give tips, words of assurance and light joke to loosen Arthur’s worry. Little by little the King earn new friends and eventually join him in his archery practice. Mark stood there patiently, giving the King all the time he need until the arrow is freed and struck the apple perfectly in the center. Cutting the red fruit In half! Everyone is impressed! They give the King a light pat on his shoulder, said ‘good job’ and even offer some ale. “Alright everyone, give him space! You louts is suffocating him with your stink.” On cue they smell themselves, yep, they stink alright and so then took a step back with an apologetic smile. “That will persuade them to take baths every now and then.” Mark said with a chuckle then he munch on the apple from earlier.
“We should get going.” Alphonse announced and soon the group move away to gather their belongings and ready their horses. “and I need to talk to both of you- where’s Alfred?”
“I’m here.” Alfred said as he lead his horse to join them and the worry tone in Alphonse’s voice made him curious altogether. “Something wrong?”
“Antonio.” He said quietly but enough to have his friends hear him. “He’s leading a group of men here but I’m not sure who they are… I never met them before- they could be bandits but they could be allies.”
“He never mention anything about bringing men…”
“Exactly.” Alphonse said with a nod, confirming Mark’s statement. “He said nothing about this… and the strange part is that he’s leading them through the back.”
“Bandits then. Tell the men to pack up quickly, we’ll leave right away and head to a different location. Antonio knows which route we’re taking so it’s wise to take a detour until we’re certain that we lost him and his company.” Alfred quickly said, Mark and Alphonse nod in agreement then left to tell their men. “Sire, I want you to hold your bow and arrow ready, we don’t know what will happen from here on out. If Antonio did betray us… That means… the bandits will chase after you.” But he will keep Arthur safe no matter what. “If we ever get separated. Hide. Find a safe place and trust no one, I will find you then. I’ll look for you.” Men are now running, gathering their things as fast as they can then mount up their horses. Alfred help the king in mounting up the steed this time, they don’t have much time to dally about. In a few second, the Knave is now settled on his horse, reins in his hand and arms on either side of the King. He even move close to have the other’s back lean up against his chest, covering him from any possible attack from behind. “Leave, now!” All the horses gallop down the mountain as fast as their strong legs can carry. The bushes and trees nearly went blur as they dash pass them then run down the stream. When pursued, it’s best to travel on water to hide their trails.
At Alfred’s affection reach, the King closed his eyes, face scrunching up with expectation of the touch, but when none came, he felt a little down hearted. Even if it was an overly affectionate thing to do and probably not proper of their titles, the King was becoming attached to such things from the Knave. They slipped form their little cozy embrace to the chilly weather, the King drawing this cloak tighter to his chest as he gave the Knave a curious and excited look about the hot springs. He had only read of such things, never hearing of one ever being near. He even asked his brothers about them when they would come back from distant lands, only to have his hopes smothered. However, here, the Knave was speaking about one! A real one! Arthur snatched up his warm clothing to wear and trotted next to the Knave, who was willing to answer his questions with ease. The King still only gave a simple nod of his head to the others as they past, not trying to be rude, but he never really said good morn to anyone. “A volcano?” The King inquired, was that safe at all? Well, the Knave said that he had been here before and it was all well. Even so, as they approached, the King stared in awe. It was huge and steaming. Clear right to the bottom! Arthur glanced to his guardian for a moment then nodded his head, stripping his clothes slowly, as not to fall, and laid them over a tree branch before dipping a toe in.
It’s hot! He hissed loudly at the heat, but slowly emerged himself into the bath, a content sigh from the heat sliding from his lungs. It felt nice, smelled nice. Ah, the books explanations paled in comparison to the actual feeling! “Knave?” Arthur turned in the water, leaning his chest against the rock and his arms over the side, staring at his Knight. “Doest thou wish to join?” For some reason, much like the large bath at the inn, it felt like it was meant for more than one to join, besides, it must have been cold to just stand guard. Even so, Alfred’s response made the King chortle in laughter. A stark naked Alfred, gallivanting after a intruder. However at the mention of a massive arriving, the King was confused, following Alfred’s gaze upward until the screech of an eagle called loudly, the feeling up his spine form the call, but he let it vanish. “Whom is it from?” He inquired, turning his back again to let the steam rise to his face. “Thank God, I have been worried about the wellness of everyone-” The King froze when Alfred became on alert. Green eyes darted to his protector then towards his clothing. If needed he could nimbly jump out of the spring and at least pull on his cloak and boots. But he was told to stay there, the messenger bird left to watch. The King stared at the bird and nodded his head very slightly, to which the eagle responded with a soft chirp and nod of his own. Smart Bird!
A splash! The King reached over to grab one of the towels he had brought, the smaller of them and pulled it into the bath with him, pushing it down to cover his royal ‘jewels’. He didn’t make a noise, but stared at the tan blob under the water coming closer. Arthur pressed his back against the stone and- “Gah!” He hit his head, sinking down in to the water with a meek look. It was Antonio! Of all, the King hadn’t been expecting him to join. Oh no, he was really very close to the King! Arthur tried to shrink into the water, the sheer heat of the bath causing his face to redden of course. Though, it felt like his heart was going to run away at this. How does one deal with someone being so close, and have no feeling of it themselves? It’s quite confusing for the King. Except for Antonio’s statement about curing loneliness- “I dare say not! I have nor do such things in my castle!” Oh, he offended the poor King while flustering him in ways the King was unsure of.
Thankfully, Alfred arrived. The King craning his neck to look at his Knight with worry. Arthur was confused on what was going on here, but like always, his Knave came to the rescue without a moment’s notice, ever since day one. Antonio retreated slowly, looking back at Arthur, who seemed to sink further into the hot spring, but at the same time reach his hand out to grab at the fabric of Alfred’s trousers.
“Knave…” He murmured softly, seeing the anger over his knight’s feature. The King was lifted from the water, the wet towel dropped to the ground after the dry one wrapped around him. With a slight shiver, he rubbed the towel against his arms and body, trying to keep warm while drying off quickly so that he may wear his clothing again.
But something did bother him greatly about this.
More than just the obvious.
“Knave, is it to be strange to not have a concubine?” He asked quietly, slipping on his clothing, having to take his trousers off again because he had put them on backwards.
Alfred hold his hateful glare, directed to Antonio’s back until the Spaniard disappear from his sight. Only then he loosen up before he sheathing his sword. “Concubine, Sire?” Wait- is that what Antonio told him? About concubine and- does this mean he tried to get in the King’s pants? Convincing him that it’s okay to fucking anyone he pleases? This boil Alfred’s blood even more- he rather have the King pure and true to himself than following other people’s desire. True that there are Kings who enjoy having Concubine but Arthur is Arthur, he prefers to read books than plow someone’s womb. He enjoys drinking tea than make a number of female plead for his dick. “Not strange at all, Sire. Your father, the late King, never had concubines. He only loves one woman and that is your mother. Unlike other Kings, your lineage hold honor and respect… And I rather have you keep that than being acknowledged as a King who plays with women’s heart.” He help the King in putting on his trouser, once fully clothed they went back to the cave where the others are. Alfred asks Mark to start his archery lesson so he can talk with Antonio in private. His best friend sense his anger, asked him what happened then Alfred told him everything. About Antonio’s bold move, how he try to manipulate the king and the possibility of betrayal. “It’s too early to throw that assumption, Alfred.” Mark said, Arthur is busy eating his breakfast and tea to notice their conversation. “Antonio helped us many times during our thieving days; now don’t tell me we have to forget all that just because of one mistake?”
“One mistake but enough to put the throne’s name in shame.”
“Is it just for the throne and reputation or is there something more?” Alfred’s eyes went wide slightly but he turn away to hide his surprise. “Alfred.” Mark heave out a sigh as he lean his back against the tree. “I’ve known you for years now, we hunt, steal, explore together since we’re young. I’m like a brother to you so I know what’s running inside your head.” The Knave remained quiet but this only made Mark to smile. “You like him.”
“I do not!” This time, Mark let out a chuckle.
“Obviously you do but you’re in complete denial. In time my friend, you’ll learn that this feel you hold for the King is actually beyond ‘friendship’. Don’t worry, I’ll be here rooting for you till the very end.”
“I know, I know. Antonio. Fear not my old friend, I’ll keep an eye on him and I’ll tell Alphonse about this as well. For now you better make sure that the King is away from Antonio’s reach, who knows what he’ll do next time.” The Knave is at ease but what Mark point out earlier troubles him now. Does he love the King that much? A feeling beyond guardian and king? To be truthful he does feel something special for the British lord but he never had the time to think about it. He’s far too consumed with work and duty. Maybe I am… but I have to make sure… though if this feeling is truly ‘love’, I still can’t let it grow. Arthur is a King while I’m just a mere knight. I know that someday he will find the suitable one, someone who is born with power and authority. This saddens him… The thought of being split between because of ranks! Alfred squeezes his eyes tight to clear his thoughts then open it to face reality once again. He must pull himself together, he’s here to protect the King and teach him everything he knows- not to fall in love! But then again… Love is something that cannot be avoided. It’s a bliss and at the same time, a curse.
リクエスト mage!Arthur and knight!Alfred（魔導師英と騎士米）
ohhhh… I like this way too much.
*artist’s note: I drew this for the cover of a web novel! I was happy to be asked!
Think of those you love and treasure, to protect them. The King remained silent, letting his eyes fluttering open and shut slowly while he thought. It was very difficult for him to think about such things. He loved his people above all- or he should as their King. His heart was to be open for all and to take his people as his own, wishing to protect and give them the best life they should offer in these ages. It was a lot to think about for the King for he wasn’t only thinking about his archery training, but him even taking this journey. How would it help him grow, would he people respect him, love him, trust him? The King shifted slightly in the seat, pressing his cheek against Alfred’s chest, watching the trees as they passed, snow still clinging to the bark and branches as the last remnants of the storm from the night before. It looked beautiful. If he never left, he wouldn’t be able to see such things in person, or feel the cold tingling against his cheeks or see his breath turn to a smoke like vapor and waft up towards heaven. Or even the aurora above them. That was beautiful. Yes, he could see it form this high castle, but being out here in the open, it made it so much more beautiful and magical. Mystical and a little scary, but he wasn’t alone. It was a little strange that the King kept completely quiet until they moved to the cave for the evening. He dismounted form the horse and even left Alfred’s side, sitting next to Alphonse, watching him carefully while making the dinner. Arthur sat on a log with dinner, eating it slowly like normal, even though it tasted so good! The meat melted in his mouth and the vegetables gave it a pleasant smooth taste. Quietly, the King even asked for seconds.
Inevitably, it was time for bed. At first the King stood next to Alfred, staring at the cave floor and even looked around a bit. Surely there was some sort of a bed. He couldn’t be expected to sleep where animals would. Even that hay bed from the other cave behind the falls was better than this. He looked around, everyone was settling in sleeping bags, still in merriment from the fire and good food and ale, which the King passed up on. He bit at his lip. This was not a situation for any King, however, he wouldn’t be alone it seemed. Arthur glanced to his knight, seeing expecting blue eyes. With a resigning sigh, he went over to the washing area they deemed best (where the water wouldn’t stream down anywhere, but puddle and soak into the Earth) after glancing over his shoulder at the others once more. It seemed like they were all determined to keep the King safe and hidden. It couldn’t be that bad.. for the evening. The King rubbed the dirt from his skin, bringing back the dull pale hue to his skin once more, though with the water, it seemed much more. He felt warm- burning like something was grazing his skin, but when he looked, all he saw was the Knave looking at him, and he turned away. It was strange, the man had helped him countless times dress and undress, even wash when he felt that the maids weren’t needed. Arthur was gaining muscles. His stomach no longer just flat, but toned gently from the horse riding, his biceps becoming shaped from holding and pulling the bow- and yet when they settled in the sleeping back for the night, he was still smaller than Alfred. The Knave’s arms trapping him completely with protection, slightly heavy and warm. His chest large enough for Arthur to place both his hands on it and rest his cheek there as well. Even his legs seemed to be thinner when they would brush against one another.
It used to piss off the King, being substantially smaller, but some how, he found it comforting now. Very much so. He felt secure and calm here. Sometime he wondered what the Knave thought about him now. They used to nearly despise one another when the Knave first arrived, bickering and saying hurtful things- even enough for Alfred to lose his temper and break his precious library. A small and sleepy smile pressed over his lips as he let his fingers wander and begin to comb and mess with the Knave’s now longer hair while he shifted to being himself closer and tuck his head in the crook of Alfred’s neck. Comfortable. Safe. Loved? He smiled more, letting the silky hair slip through his fingers, weaving it around his hand gently, making sure not to pull. Like pure gold, able to hold in his hand. The King’s eyes grew heavy though, but Alfred’s voice made his heart thump against his chest suddenly, though he was getting better at ignoring the strange condition and nestled tight against his guardian, twirling the soft locks as he drifted to sleep quietly. Unfortunately, he was one of the few early early risers in the morning. Birds chirping was what woke him and the pecking at his cheek from Alfie who wished to scamper from the blankets. Knowing the little one would come back, Arthur shifted the sleeping bag flap so the bird could leave and inched closer to Alfred, able to see the man’s sleeping feature. He was well framed. Tan with a softly shaped face. He looked young like this. Arthur tilted his head against the Knave’s arm and shifted his own to wrap around Alfred completely, his fingers touching barely, but he pressed his face closer and sighed sleepily. “Golden arrow…” He muttered, but inched down slightly when he heard someone stepping over to them, then walked away when they noticed Alfred still asleep.
Alfred is clearly tired from the travel; it seems like his daily life in the castle made him a bit ‘rusty’. He’s not easily exhaust before but in time he will regain his old lifestyle in this journey. He just needs a moment to adjust but at least his body still great in adapting the environment. He’s warm and that made the King all comfortable in the evening and slept well until the sun peeks from the horizon. By the time Alfred woke up, he feel much more replenished and the King still lay right next to him but obviously awake. “You should have waked me up, Sire.” He chuckle while reaching down to push Arthur’s hair but quickly with draw as soon he realize what he’s doing. He’s… Well… getting overly affectionate these days. Not as Knight and King but something more. “Least the snow stop and the sky clear. You can have your bath by the hot spring.” Did he say hot spring? Alfred grinned when the King’s eyes went wide. “You haven’t tried a hot spring before? I was about to show you last night but I was exhausted and the snow heavy. Now come, bring your clean clothes and a towel.” Mark is still sleeping so they let the poor man get his share of rest; it’s too early for a practice anyway. Besides, the King looks quite curious about the hot spring. Arthur explained that he read about it in one of his books, but the Knave fill him more information whenever he throws questions. A curious King will make a very wise Ruler. “It’s different compared to your warm baths, Sire.” The Knave explain as they walk pass the others, greeting them good morning as they walk. “Instead of using wood and fire, this one is natural. Came from this huge mountain! It’s a volcano but in a sleeping state, nevertheless underneath it is a burning river. You’re safe, don’t worry. I and Mark tend to visit this place during winter to relax and enjoy the warm bath, though we have to be careful since bears use it as well.” Bears, apes- any animal that fancies it, though the latter is always present but thankfully not today.
“Here we are.” Its 8 feet wide and chest deep, the water is clear but steaming. It’s a very unusual sight since a couple steps away, it’s surrounded with snow. “I’ll keep watch.” The knave assured him. Arthur removes his clothes then dip into the warm water, it was a bit hot for his liking but soon his body adapts and relaxes him. Alfred chuckle when Arthur heaves out a sigh but what about the Knave? Surely he wants to take a warm bath too. “If I bathe with you then no ones left to guard, unless you expect me to jump out the spring butt naked and chase after the offender.” He laughed, bright and full. “Huh? A massive.” Alfred look up to the sky, the King did the same but sees nothing. After a few seconds there’s an eagle sound, Alfred’s smile then become wider. He stretches out his arm, the eagle land gracefully and a small note tied up on the flying companion’s feet. “It’s Matthieu. He said the Kingdom is safe and well guarded. Alasdair work hard to make sure everyone remain calm and continue their daily lives. Lady Alice will stay in the castle until this is settled, she too take part in helping. I didn’t know she study pharmacist.” He shoves the letter inside his pocket. “I’m glad that everyone is safe—.” Rustling of bush. Alfred wheel about and place a hand on the hilt of his sword. “Stay warm, I’ll go check what it was. I won’t stray far.” He whisper something to his companion then the eagle left his arm, fly a few yard then settle on one of the trees’ branches. Watching the king like a royal guard he was.
Alfred left. Searching the area where the noise came from and there he found some tracks. SPLASH. The King was startled by something joining him in the water. It was just a few minutes since the Knave left and yet this ‘creature’ attacked him. It was under the water, approaching the King slowly and then. “Boo!” Antonio. The Spanish man laughed in amusement. “Alone, my King?” The Spaniard let out a coy smile. He’s nude, shamelessly and without hesitation, dared on joining the King in his bath. “Where’s Alfred?” The Spanish man reach for Arthur’s wet locks, touching it while he’s dangerously close to him. Alfred mentioned that the man is quite affectionate but this is just too much. “While he’s away, how about we have some fun. Sire? Just a few kisses, touches? I’m sure you miss your concubines back home so here I am. Willing to be an alternative. Don’t you feel cold? It will make us both war—“
“Leave.” Knave. He presses the blade at Antonio’s neck and blue eyes dangerously fierce. “Leave and never mention about this to anyone. Or I’ll slit your throat.”
“Is this how you treat your friend, Alfred?”
“This is how I treat someone who threatens the King. Friend or not.” Antonio frowned, obviously unhappy that his fun was ruined. He throw his hand up in surrender then left the spring but he did glance back to gaze at the King. Alfred glare at him, glare even more when the bold man gaze at Arthur then tighten his jaw once he disappear from his sight. “Are you alright, Sire?” He pulls Arthur out from the water then wraps the thick towel around him. “I’m here.”
“You have to have the set to kill.” That was what Alasdair had said when he stopped training Arthur. He said that the King had a weak heart, unable to kill a man before him and because of that, he would never further his marksmanship studies. Unfortunately when both Alfred and Arthur noted him missing something, the King feared that this was the missing factor in his ability. Thankfully it had been yet to be mentioned. The royal man nibbled at his lower lip, chapped from yesterday’s snow storm. He rocked back and forth on his heels like a child, the reason probably unseen, mistaken for nerves or something for warmth, but in reality, the King was enjoying the feeling of the snow shift under his boots. The subtle crunch, the slushing noise after it melted under the movement, how his heel would slip sometimes on a bit of ice. A childish amusement, but he never was let out in the snow as a child. Even the lightest dusting and he was forbidden to have access to the out doors. He would attempt to open in his window to let the snow in, but was always caught by Alasdair, the Lord knowing the antics his younger brother had. But he was in fact listening to Mark at this time, even with his little bliss of the snow. He sniffled from the cold air and nodded his head. “Following your heart and allowing the arrow to take such path you have deemed.” The King blinked his emerald green eyes as if he had realized something important with that statement. He lowered his bow, the arrow in his other hand hitting the side of his boot as it hung loosely in his hand, his gaze directing over to the Knave. Maybe the King could grasp the ideals that Mark was explaining, since he already used them, but in a different instance. Chatter distracted the King form these thoughts, eyes drifting over to the path where they were joined by everyone else. Arthur replaced his arrow in the quiver and slung the bow over his shoulder again, walking over to stand beside his guardian while they all left to arrange for travel.
The King stared at the carriage, normally royalty would be seen riding in similar ones, adorned with riches, however at Alfred’s beckon, the King realized that he would be protected by person. He followed over to the steed, giving his usual hello pat on the long bridge of the horse, the creature more than happily nuzzling to the affection. The King was dressed in thick and warm clothing, much more so than the day before, in fact, he felt a few pounds heavier just form the wool and burlap. It wasn’t the most adorned thing for a King to wear, even Arthur pulled at the thick blanket around him, but decided that since it sheltered the icy weather away, he shouldn’t complain of such things. Settled on the horse, Arthur let his fingers thread through the thick mane of the horse’s before he felt the Knave closer than before, just as sitting. It stirred a certain nervous awareness of the other, not that he was afraid of his Knight, but that he was actually in danger if it was to be found that the royal King was traveling with mercenaries, against his own authorities at the castle. He was wondering how the Knave knew that the King was cold, but then again it was probably rather obvious from the man’s shivering the day before. Arthur enjoyed being pampered, but it felt strangely out of place when so far from the castle, yet just the small amount made him feel comfort.
He was planning to keep calm and just relax there, even though he was a spoilt King, he did wish for his people, these people, to think that he was poise and proper, not greedy and whiny. But the mention of tea brought the King to twist his body to look up at the Knave, eyes round and expecting but a face that said ‘you better not be kidding’. He wasn’t! There was tea. Oh glory heaven, tea. Arthur relaxed back in his spot, back slouching slightly as he used the Knave to keep himself up as he lazily relaxed like that. He began threading his fingers through the horse’s mane again, green eyes unfocused, like a dreamy gaze. “Aye… Knave..” He murmured softly, “I believe I that I will be able to better shoot an arrow soon.. If I listen to M..” Calling people their first names without any proper title, sometimes threw the King off, thus he had a slight tendency to stutter people’s names as he mentally thought of what he was to call them, “Mark.. They it will be soon, for I have already done such a feat.” He’s shot an arrow that quick and with the following your heart bit? “You.. are my arrow. I blindly send you on the path that my heart and justice dictates… yet you hit the target always.” The King smiled contently and closed his eyes, head tilted slightly as his breathing evened slowly. It was obvious that he was to trust his appointed ‘guardian’, but as a ruler, he trusted Alfred with his decisions and life, as well as a person he confided in the brazen blonde. Finding him someone easy to talk to. He wasn’t asleep though. With his eyes closed, he raised his hands and made a small gesture of shooting an arrow forward along with a strange breathy noise and a whoosh. He was making the sounds of a bow and arrow before smiling again. “My sight… Alfred.” He murmured strangely as if falling asleep.
To feel the King lean up so close like this and hear his voice speak and say something that he refuse to admit before. The Knave couldn’t help but feel proud of himself, the King change quite a lot- he become more honest, open about his thoughts and less demanding at some point. If this keeps up Arthur will surely grow to a great King. Someone who understands every people’s heart and understands their hardship, their dreams. The empire will be protected by someone with a huge heart and strong like the most powerful sword in the world. It will be a long travel before they reach their next destination, that means they will be stopping and camp out for a few nights. It will be cold but Alfred and his close friend knows a few caves nearby or a good spot to camp out without worrying about bandits. “You will soon master the bow and arrow, I believe in your skill, Sire. In this world it’s all about survival.” He looks down, dotting Arthur’s eyes are shut close but he can sense that he’s still awake. “If you’re in doubt, think about your people, Sire and those who you love and treasure… Remember, you don’t kill for the sake of killing or ending someone’s life, you kill to protect.” It’s getting dark, the snow stop at least and the sky is clear. Showing beautiful colour of the aurora while the group search for a good place to settle in. They found a cave not too far from the route their taking, it’s safe and clean- no bears hiding inside or snakes and other wild life. The mouth of the cave is wide enough for their carriage to enter, it’s better to keep it close or bandits will take advantage of it. Mark left with Antonio to look for some water for the horse while the other set up tents outside the cave to keep watch. Some of the thieves already set up bonfire to keep warm, Alphonse did the same as well but made supper for everyone.
It was a good meal. A rabbit stew, freshly caught then cooked with vegetables growing around here. Like what Alfred said, Alphonse was indeed a great cook.. To think that he’s just a mere hunter, he can best any chef in the land with so little ingredients. Everyone are full and content, the sky is now full of stars while the moon shine in between. “Come inside the cave, Sire. You need to get some rest for the long travel tomorrow.. You have to wake up early again to practice with Mark.” Mark nod in agreement while sitting on the rock, sharpening the end of the arrow while Alphonse prepare his sleeping bag. Antonio join in the other thieve to their little merriment, a share of ale to warm their skin and throats to fight off the coldness. Thankfully, Arthur is well clothed and wrap up (since the Knave tend to fuss over the King’s health) and more warmer because of the bonfire in the middle of the cave. The ceiling is high enough to prevent the smoke from suffocating them, they can sleep peacefully here. Alfred prepare the sleeping bag or the King, it’s purposely huge so the Knave can join in. He can protect him better this way and knowing Arthur’s weak body heat, he need all the warmth he can get. They settle in the far corner, the thieves outside will take turns in guarding while Alfred’s close friends will rest at the mount of the cave. Call them overly protective but they want to make sure that no harm will reach their King. They have slowly grown attached to him, like he’s their little brother of the group.
Alfred let Arthur wash first with the water they gathered, warmed it enough so the King can use it. Alfred use the towel to cover the King from everyone’s sight while the other wash his skin while being seated at the other side of the cave. Alfred had seen Arthur naked so many times but somehow watching him with fire as source of light gives him strange feeling. The light dances on his glistening skin due to the water, pale white became orange, reflecting the light that was given. He’s still thin but better than before- he look so sickly when he first met the King, before everything and the recovery of the empire. It’s like Arthur is one with his Kingdom, thin and broken when it was controlled by greed but now that they’re slowly standing, Arthur too shall rise… Now that danger threatens the Kingdom, the King will stand and fight- he will become strong for his people and for his belief. The Knave drape the towel around the King when his done, help him put on his clothes then together they settle in the sleeping bag. He hold the king close to keep him warm, Arthur’s hands press up at the Knave’s chest and his head hidden into the crook of his neck. “Why do you always do that, Sire?” Said the Knave, when his hair got longer, the King tend to reach for it then bring it closer to him, his finger would tread around the lock, swirling his digit over and over until the lord fells asleep. “Maybe the idea of keeping my hair long was a good one. I think you gain a fancy of it.” He whisper to not wake the others. “Sleep now.” He kiss the King’s hand then he close his eyes to recover his strength.
It wasn’t that the King distrusted Antonio exactly, it was more or less, he wasn’t used to such passionate stares. Or well, from others. He had slowly become used to Alfred’s intense stares. Simply leaving at as nothing more than the Knave doing his duty to watch over the King. Of course, it couldn’t be anything else. Why.. how could it be? But with the other, it was different. Arthur didn’t know what to make of such intenseness towards him like that. The King quietly bid his goodbye, turning to join the Knave gracefully at the staircase. Slowly, he gave a nod of his head at Alfred’s statement that the other would be in another room from them. That was calming at least. After the door shut to their room, the King approached the bed, pulling his overshirt off and hanging it by the hood on the rail of the bed. The room was warm, but there was a slight draft, something the King wasn’t quite used to. A small shiver cascaded over his body as he listened to Alfred explain things about his friend. A trades man and hunter. It was true that most Kingdoms at this time required tradesmen the most to deal with what they could not acquire in their own Kingdoms. Such like their Kingdom had a healthy abundance of Spices and Tea. They were sought out to trade for those often, not to mention they also had quite the defense. The King’s eyes traveled to Alfred, watching him secure the room from intruders as the King backed up to the bed, sitting down so that he may remove his boots- which was rather interesting to watch. The royal King, highest in power of their Kingdom. Struggling to yank his boot off. Much like a child.
The Knave then spoke that he would sleep in the chair. Green eyes peered over to the furniture. Smaller than his own, made of wood of course, but the cushions were rather flat. That would leave for a stiff and possibly cranky Knave come morning. With a testing sigh, the King pulled back the covers of the bed so that he may wriggle underneath for warmth. “Knave…” The King murmured, not looking over as he laid his head on the cool pillow, turning to his side and bringing his knees up to curl up some. “This bed is too cold…. You are naturally warm. Come.” He shifted slightly, inching over so that Alfred would have room to lay next to him. Thankfully, the other accepted and laid down, and yes. Almost instantly he felt the other’s presence, warmer, comfort. Strange. It must be because Alfred was his guardian. That is all. The King slowly turned over, but just as he did, the Knave suddenly pulled him closer, cutting the King’s breath off. Gingerly, he bit down on his own lip and let his body rest fully with the Knave’s, eyes closing slowly.
This.. was nice too. Perhaps he was getting to spoiled, for now he noticed that he preferred sleeping next to someone, or rather, being able to sleep huddled with someone like this, rather than being alone in that huge bed. It was easier to sleep, and it felt comfortable.. and safe. Nestling his head a bit, Arthur sighed and fell almost instantly asleep.
That was the first words out of the King’s mouth in the morning when the Knave had attempted to awaken him for the day. The King had tried everything, gripping at the man’s shirt and nuzzling against his chest to fight and keep the sleep that he craved, but then Alfred had pulled the blankets back. A war. The King sat up, hair wild and messy as he glared at the Knave who laughed it off and walked off to get the King his morning tea. That was how they started the day.
So at the funny statement of shooting off Alfred’s head, the King already drew an arrow and pointed it at the center of Alfred’s forehead, just between his eyes. Green eyes narrowed slightly, but he really wasn’t going to shoot him. Not after everything, heck, he couldn’t have even done it back when he was irritated by the Knave’s presence during the invasion. Instead, he was pointed to a sack with a drawing of Alfred’s face. Perfect. A sly grin fell over the King’s face as he lined up his body perfectly, everything straight, all lines perfect. He pulled the arrow back, feeling the breeze on his cheek and the feathers of the arrow ticking his skin. Eyes focused on his target, then snap! The arrow few perfectly forward in it’s spin, hitting the target dead center. The King smirked proudly and lowered his bow, giving a cocky tilt of his head to Alfred- however, it was pointed out that something was wrong with his marksmen ship. Arthur turned to the target- but he had hit it dead on!
The King swallowed thickly, watching the expertise marksmanship that Mark gave. Hitting the crow in a second and hitting his arrow without looking. Biting his lip, Arthur retrieved another arrow from his quiver. Not stringing it this time, but instead, suddenly becoming a student with a thirst for knowledge.
“How does one become trained by the heart?” He inquired, turning the arrow over in his hand carefully.
Alphonse and Antonio head out to check the route that they will be taking, making sure that it’s available for them and for their carriage to pass through. The strong snow storm last night could have possibly blocked their path, if that occurs then they will look for a way to travel around and reach their nest destination. It is important that they reach in the other side of the mountain so they can gather information and find the enemy lair, hopefully they can stop them from whatever plan they hold. While the two are away, they grab this chance to train the king. It’s cold outside but with his thick coat and hood, it will keep him warm. Alfred remain seated on the wood while watch the two, the King looks more interested now than ever after Mark show off his master skill with bow and arrows. Arthur will soon understand how Mark can pull that shoot without blinking an eye- when that time comes, the King will be able to protect himself without tribulations. “I’m glad you ask.” Mark is pleased to see the King show interest about his lessons; it was different when he was teaching the Knave. Alfred is always complaining, asking many questions at once and then he craves to be the best in a short span of time. It took him awhile to learn but alas, the man chose the sword over mastering his skill in marksmanship. Alfred is good with the bow but not really a master of it… Since he has a slight problem when it comes to far vision- yes, he can’t see from the distance. To him it was just a huge blob, although he can tell people’s faces from a few hundred yards but that’s not enough to become a first-class archer. Arthur, however, shows stellar expertise. “First off, you have to trust with your instinct- instinct is not what they call ‘luck’ it was something that resides in your. A subconscious skill that each of us have. That’s where our true power holds, all we have to do was to release it.. Trust in yourself, trust your heart. First off, relax.. You are far too stiff, Sire. You need to become one with your bow and arrow, not become its master. You have to feel it, make it as a part of you. Acknowledge its presence and believe that it has a soul. Once you acknowledge it, think like the arrow- where do you want to go, which thing you wish to hit? Then you point, pull the string like you’re pulling your fate then let go to release it to the world.”
It was a strange way of teaching. Even until now the Knave is having troubles in understanding Mark’s statement. It is true that he learned marksmanship from him but it was all about talent, hard work and practice- then again he wasn’t able to achieve the same skill as the elite marksman.. The ‘follow your heart’ thing and let the arrow move like it has its own life. Hitting something without looking and whatnot.. Alfred is envious of Mark’s skill but when it comes to swordsmanship, Alfred has the advantage. Perhaps that’s how humans work? Each of us has different expertise, preference and ideas- it’s like what weapon we wish to use. Mark understand his bows and arrows, Alphonse trust his daggers and wires, Antonio feels the same towards his axe while Alfred to his swords. Like finding a soul mate. It sounds funny if you think about it but it’s the only explanation he have so far. “That will be our lesson for today, Sire. For now you have to practice, practice and practice until pulling the bow and arrow feels usual to you.” Mark stopped the training for a reason and that is- they have to leave. The two arrive with the other men, their pathway is clear and safe for their travels.. Now they have to prepare and leave this place.
They grab the supplies they need, put their belongings inside the carriage and then they mount their horses. Two of their companions will be taking the carriage while the others rest inside and to secure that no thieves would slip in to steal their items while traveling. Alfred would let Arthur take shelter in the wagon but he won’t risk it- Arthur maybe good in archery but it’s not enough to protect his self. “Come, Sire.” Alfred makes sure that Arthur is well wrap up with coat, sweater shirt and gloves. He let the man wear boots with thick animal fur to keep his feet warm. Aside from that he wrap a thick fur blanket around the king once he was seated on the saddle and now leaning against the warm Knave. Why? Because he notice the King’s trembling when they’re traveling yesterday- it was his duty to observe the King, right? Arthur is not the type who says what he wants, well before he was- a demanding King with no boundaries but somehow he has changed. “If you need anything, don’t hesitate to tell me.” The Knave whisper while he pulls the reins then taps the side of his horse to move forward. “It’s admirable that you don’t wish to trouble me in pulling out the wool for you but it will be more troublesome if you get sick during our travels. Do feel free to complain, to demand and many more. If you ache, tell me to stop so you can walk about- we can have breaks every now and then and to water the horses. If you are hungry, just say so- Alphonse is a great cook and not to mention Antonio as well. Thirsty? Demand and I shall make tea.” He sees the King’s eyes went wide then the Knave chuckle. “Aye, Sire. I bought tea earlier for you. A many supply so you can have the drink whenever you want, I’m not good in picking tea but I let the shop owner choose the best. You will love their fresh tea and herbs here.” He felt the King relax in his arms. Seems like he’s been worried about matters like these, hesitant to complain and more, it was silly for him to be this conscious. “Are you okay now, Sire?”
That warm laugh, it caused the King to relax some. He shifted in his spot, eating the meal delicately like normal, contemplating his situation. He ran away from the castle. Never before would he have ever thought of doing such a horrendous thing. He was a royal, a King and born be a high ruler. Arthur pushed around some of the vegetables on his plate, making it look like he had eaten them, they never were his favourite. It didn’t keep his mind from racing though. Sure he had left the castle unattended before, he had first met Alfred in that very way. A brazen, unmannered man. Corning the King like a little mouse. This time was different. Sure, he was caught by the same man, with the same words, but here he sat. Next to the Knave in this small inn, sheltered from the snow storm while the country was on the brink of a civil war between the Royal advisers and the citizens. No, he lost his appetite. The King gently pushed the plate back and focused solely on his tea, sipping it slowly with deep breaths of the calming aroma. Everything had changed. He was sitting with a Knave- his appointed personal Knight. Probably the only person outside of his brothers, that actually cared about him as a person. Was he getting soft? Perhaps, since when the Knave stated that he would stay until the time that the King would dismiss him, he felt even more at ease, his body leaning towards the Knave slightly as if he was going to rest his head while the brazen blond went on to tease the pampered King.
“Well, A certain thief came and decided to uproot my very lifestyle.” He said with a huffy tone. “I still feel unclean.. I just learnt to stop complaining as much.” He muttered, crossing his arms with a pouting expression. Though, the expression fell to one of embarrassment when Alfred wiped the sauce from his lips and licked it- He shouldn’t do that- it was already on the King’s… Arthur’s ear began to burn as he turned away from Alfred, lowering his head so that his face was hidden by his hair and hood. “Idiot.” He muttered towards Alfred, only to have their thoughts frozen by the sound of a cheerful person entering the inn. Arthur noticed the Knave’s expression light up at the arrival, and turned to see whom it was as well. Dark hair, tanned skin and grassy green eyes, as well as an accent to boot. Qualities of those from South of the Kingdom. It was one of the first times the King had seen someone from the south, were they all so very cheerful?
“Ah, greetings.” Arthur said, about to get up when he was introduced, but decided to simply sit. It was a bother to keep standing at every introduction. Back in the castle, all he had to do was sit at his throne and let them babble about themselves until they saw fit. Arthur found it dull to remember everything. What was the point when so very few would ever return before him. He never was well liked by his cold attitude,many wished to meet with the advisers rather than battle the dull and bored looks of the King. However, being called ‘him’ brought Arthur to raise a thick brow, he was a high ruler and held tremendous power. Surely he could be called something other than a generic pronoun. However, before he could voice any of his opinions on this matter, the man came over to properly introduce himself to the King. Their eyes locked as Antonio lowered to his knee and cordially gave respect to the King. Arthur never heard such an accent or language. Spanish, if he remembered correctly. Yes, he had read books on that. Their eyes were locked though, never looking away, and the King nearly unable to mutter a word.
“Hello, Tonio.” He said curtly, his fingers twitching slightly, but pulled back slowly and stood up. “Upon this journey… it has been decided to call us..” Finally his green eyes flicked away from the other’s green to meet with Alfred’s blue. His voice laced with acid, even though he held no place to object to the name- “Artie…” He pulled his hand away gradually from Antonio, the King’s face still slightly flushed from the teasing earlier and then this sudden whirlwind of a man coming into the story. He tugged his hood slightly. “Please do guide us with care.” Gently he turned to Alfred, raising his hand slowly and pointing to the stairs with a slightly questioning look.
To see the King flustered is something the Knave enjoys, which explains the man’s constant teasing when they’re alone but to see Arthur turn red because of another man made his chest tighten. He knew that Antonio is just being himself, that carefree and passionate kind of a person but still- jealousy is a frightening thing to posses. “You didn’t tell me that the King is good looking, mi amigo.” Said the Spaniard without hesitation, green eyes still glued at the Arthur’s feature but the King tore his own away to gaze at the Knave, Alfred look at him in return with a faint smile. “I wish to stay and have a chat but the King wishes to retire.” He said Antonio with a small nod. “I shall talk to you tomorrow; Mark and Alphonse will keep you company. They’re in the far end of the tavern; you will find them with the rest of the crew. Don’t get too drunk now, he have a long travel tomorrow.” Antonio laughed and said that he will never get drunk. After giving each other a half embrace, they parted. The Knave guides his King towards the stairs then to their room so they can have a good night rest. “Rest assured he will be sharing room with the others, I can see that you don’t trust him, Sire.” He said as soon they enter their room; Alfred shut the door behind them then bolts it to keep them both safe.
“He’s from the south. Quite rare to see him traveling in this side of the land but he’s a hunter just like Mark and Alphonse. He’s also a trader since his people work in a farm. They sell or trade spices for an expensive wool or perhaps other kinds of food to try out. Because of his occupation he knows many people, contacts are important in gathering information.” With long stride he reach the window but before closing it he stick his head out to see if there are any possible way to climb up or perhaps down- it’s needed to know different routes or where an assassin would break in so that they will be come prepared. After making sure that they’re safe, Alfred close the window then bolt it as well, he gave it a couple of tug to make sure that it’s strong enough to last. He knows his way around, living a dangerous life hone your skills- makes your survival last long and senses keen. “Get some rest, Sire. I will take the chair so you can sleep comfortably.” The chair? He will have back pains by morn if he stays in that position for hours, muscles will surely go stiff… But Alfred respect his King’s privacy, he would not dare intrude his space or make him feel uncomfortable. The King told him, reluctantly, that he can sleep right next to him- body heat is needed, he says.. But the Knave knew that it was just an excuse. Arthur, he really does have a golden heart and he worries about his Guardian’s well being. It maybe just a simple offer but it means a lot to him. “Thank you, Sire. I gratefully accept.”
Alfred let the candle remain lit. He lay down right next to his King then he pull up the covers to keep them both warm before he reach out to grab Arthur into his arms, molding their body together and it was a perfect fit. Alfred can hold Arthur comfortably in his arms, like they’re made for each other.. As if Alfred was born to hold the King like this and protect him from any danger. If only nights like this would last forever—by then Alfred’s life will be complete—Wait, what is he thinking?! That can’t happen.. Arthur is a King and he, he’s nothing but a lowly commoner and since when did he feel all giddy towards Arthur’s anyway?! Love.. Love is indeed the most frightening and deadly disease this world ever has. Alfred sighed then nuzzles his nose into Arthur’s hair until finally sleep claims him; obviously exhausted after hours of travel.
Everyone is up and about. Save for those who are seriously drunk last night but Mark kept his word about giving the King a couple of lessons in archery. Alfred is sitting right under the tree, eating an apple even though they just had breakfast, a gluttonous man he was will never feel content. He watches the two, Mark and Arthur, getting busy with their arrows and bows. “I hope you had enough sleep today, m’lord. Now… let us start off with a warm up, shall we? Shoot an arrow right at that man’s head.”
“Are you planning to kill me?” Alfred said defensively after hearing that statement then pointed by his traitor of a friend. “It’s a joke, Alfred. Relax.” a cruel joke to be honest since the King look quite interested about shooting arrows at the lazy Knave.
“Serious, Sire. I want you to shoot at the target, hit the center with your best.” Mark did a good job in setting up a target, it’s made out of sack.. He even draw a face.. Guess who? Yes, the Knave.. Nonetheless. Alfred pouts when the King grins at the silly face on the sack. Mark watch closely, he study the King’s stance until finally the Arthur let go of the string to send the arrow flying, it hit right in the center! But Mark looks quite unpleased.
“See any problem, Alfred?”
“Time” Mark nod in agreement. “It takes awhile for you to let go, do you really acquire too much concentration to make a perfect throw? Don’t worry, in time you will learn how to follow by the heart and it will soon comes in naturally.” What is he talking about—by the heart? Alfred chuckled, the King look so confused right now. “Don’t worry, Sire. He always talks like this.” Said the Knave.
“Hush you, I’m telling the truth. Even the blind can see using their heart, if you use your heart in guiding your arrow.. You can hit—“ Mark suddenly aims up, pull up the string with the arrow then let go after a second. A crow got hit then fall into the forest. “Without looking with your eyes and time—.” He throws another but this time to the target and it hit right over the King’s arrow, piercing through, cutting the wood in half. “—will be decreased. This is sufficient when being hunted by your enemies. We archers don’t have the strength to use swords but we have agility. We must be swift, constant… like the fastest deer within the land- graceful yet fierce.”
If he could have heard the conversation of those men, he would have certainly spoken up about things. How ever at that time he was probably inching around in the bath, wondering how far he could go without drowning. Best to stay at the edge for safety reasons. After slipping away from the bath, he stared at the Knave for a moment before approaching completely, watching him carefully pull back his hair- golden, like the sun’s rays. A little messy, but who could blame him. The King approached, speaking softly for they were in close range and no others were around. Gingerly he sat on the bed next to his knight, his head tilting and little grunts falling from the King when his hair was ruffled dry by the other. His eyes closed and hand reached out to grip the Knave’s sleeve for balance, yet he didn’t move away when the towel was dropped to his shoulders and his head lifted once more. Emerald eyes studying clear blue ones. It was true that he had made the decision all on his own, to come and be a part of this battle and know what was going on with his kingdom first hand, not through the lies of others. His eyes closed again with the combing of fingers through his hair. He enjoyed it, and imagined his hair actually being silky smooth, flowing and tamed for once. However, it just wasn’t the way his hair grew.
“I have two, thy Knave and thy brother, Lord Alasdair.” He nodded his head confidently, but it was the wrong answer. Eyes fluttered open once more to gaze at the man. He had to protect himself- but did that mean he was to be left alone? Thick eyebrows arched up slightly, lips parting as if he was going to speak his worry, but no words fell. To be on his own, learning to be self sufficient after being pampered and treated as a precious treasure not to be seen or talked to. Now, one of the rare people he trusts with his very life was telling him that one day, he would have to rely on his own inner strength and to become the King he wished to be… he would have to be his own protector. His mouth closed slowly and his gaze diverted away, only to have his attention called back. Back to those clear eyes that could see everything… like the very sky above. Unknowingly his hand reached up to place over Alfred’s, head tilting slightly to seek out the comfort that was being offered. It was frightening, but luckily for the King, he didn’t have to vocalize that fear, since the Knave understood without words. Like always. This strange man… telling the King that he already has strength inside his heart. The right resolve to push him forward with this. His head cocked to the other side slightly, hand slipping away. He was with those who were willing to teach him the way to protect himself. To be a better ruler and a better man at that. The King- no, Arthur was going to have to push through on this with his head high. No matter what.
“Aye…” He slipped off the bed as well after pulling on his boots once more and a thiner cloak to conceal his body. He gently placed his hand over Alfred’s, nodding his head as they left to go for dinner. As they walked though, the King began to speak. “Knave.. about what we were discussing before. If thy believes in this King.. then he shall heed your words.” Arthur glanced to Alfred slightly before redirecting his gaze forward once more. “The physical and mental strength of a King is very important, it is the foundation of the Kingdom.” Said quietly, fingers somewhat gripping the Knave’s larger hand as they walked to the dining. “Knave…” He continued on as the chair was pulled out for him to sit in, food already at the table for them, a cup of tea being poured. The conversation fell away for a moment as Arthur eagerly groped for the cup and happily held it under his nose, enjoying the calming fragrance. Yes, it was relaxing to him.
“Knave… say I become as strong as you are hoping, to be able to stand on my own and never be blinded by those imbeciles…” The cup was set down after a small sip, the King reaching and plopping another sugar cube into the bitter drink. “Say that day comes, does that mean you intend to leave..?” His gaze slipped over to the man, a small and sly smile curling on his lips. “I shan’t allow you to leave your stand, Knave.” A cruel King? Perhaps just a lonely one, who had come to find someone to connect to and trust. No matter how strong he reigned, he had no intention of letting Alfred leave his services. As such, he pulled the plate closer to him and began to take small graceful bites of the food provided. Shoulder’s relaxed and back straight, perfect posture as ever. He may have not been a strong King, but everything around him seemed to call that he was a man of royal blood and upbringing.
“I shall grow, watch me.”
With Alfred’s old lifestyle he was convinced that his fate was sealed. He won’t be able to straighten his life or reach his dreams on becoming a Hero. He did his best to be one though by stealing from the greedy and give it to those who are in need but nonetheless thieving is wrong, against the law and every time he took something from the others, there will be a family get affected by it or frightened for their love one’s life. People maybe greedy, especially nobles but they’re still humans- they have children, a wife, a brother and sister.. The more Alfred though about it the more miserable he gets.. Perhaps that’s one of the many reason why he joined the tournament. He was hoping to be chosen so he can right his wrong, to change himself and the system of the Empire. To punish those who have sinned in a proper way, to follow the law and give justice to those who are deserving. What he expect once he gain the title of being the King’s Guardian was to serve the community effectively but he was assigned to babysit the King instead! He was utterly bummed about the whole situation but little by little he learn about the King’s side of the story, learned about the traitors plotting something mischievous against their Ruler, soon Alfred discover that it wasn’t the King’s fault of having a corrupt system.. It was because of his advisers. Thankfully it was over and now he’s teaching the King to open up his heart for everyone, the result? He’s very proud of himself to see Arthur interested in helping his people. He will become a great King someday.. Soon enough he will no longer need me.
“I shan’t allow you to leave your stand, Knave.”
Like Arthur have read his mind he declare that statement with a smile. Arthur stare at the King, stunned about his sudden announcement then he laugh warmly. This King, he never cease to surprise this brazen Knave. “Remember what I told you a long time ago, Sire?” Blue eyes scan his Majesty’s expression before he continue. “I vowed that I shall never leave your side unless you tell me so.. If you wish to keep me even though you mastered everything I know than I shall serve you until the very end.” He would be glad to serve the King, to remain by his side and protect the people until they grow old and worn. The Knave is no longer a stray wolf like what other people call him, he’s no longer homeless as well. He has a family now, a small people in a group but still a family with a huge place to call home. This is no time to be sappy and cry over this! But it was heartwarming though, to see the person you protect grow as time passes. It makes Alfred so proud of himself and honored to make this King turn into a legend. “I know you will grow, Sire… Remember the time when we first met? You don’t know how to change clothes by your own, take a bath without your servant maid’s help and you feel unclean when you see a small grime on your shoes.” He laughed. The King puffed his cheek in disapproval. “You’re finally turning into a strong man, Sire. Slowly but surely.” He reach over the table to wipe off the sauce from the King’s lips then instead of wiping his now stained fingers with a napkin, he lick it clean instead.
“Hola! I finally caught up with you. Oh man, the weather outside is really insane, mi amigo.” That voice, Alfred turn his head then a bright smile appear on Alfred’s lips as soon he spot the man. “Tonio!” Alfred slip out from his chair to give the Spaniard a tight embrace, blurting out ‘how are you?’ ‘been awhile’ any many other questions to catch up what’s new. “Sir— Arthur, this is my old friend. He will be joining us in our travels.” Alfred said with a grin. “He’s a close friend of mine, we’ve been travelling and searching for adventure since were young. He knows the place in the other side of the mountains, he has connections too. He will serve as a good companion for our journey.”
“So this is him?” Said the tanned man, rude of him to address the King as ‘him’ instead of using a proper name. “Yes, I hope you know the rules.”
“Of course, I won’t tell a soul. Ah, hello, Señor.” He courtly bow to the King while taking the pale man’s hand then he press his knuckle against his lips. Green eyes peer through his messy dark brown hair. Mi nombre es Antonio Fernandez, but my friends call me Tonio. Es un placer conocerle.“ With that last statement, Antonio press another kiss at the King’s hand- never once his eyes left Arthur’s own. “This will be a very interesting journey, indeed.”
So, he was going to still learn how to fight with a blade, as well as tracking now. The King didn’t see much need in either option. As a royal man he shouldn’t have to be reduced to actual fisticuffs. He took the arrow back and slipped it into the leather quiver on his back, giving a short nod. He was in no situation to complain. The Knave was trying to ensure the King’s safety after the green eyed royal went and did something rash as running away from the castle. With a sigh under his breath, Arthur pulled on the thick clothing he was provided, then that green cloak once more. Sword at his hip, quiver on his back and bow lazily over his shoulder, the King hooked his heel on the horse’s saddle, giving a few little test jumps before hiking himself all the way over to sit. Like always he puffed his chest with pride as he sat high up on the horse. They had to be ready for the cold weather they were about to face. The snow and everything. To be honest, the King was a bit worried about the snow. He had a low blood pressure and coldness of any kind chilled him to the bone faster than most. He did know that Alfred was most often rather warm bodied, perhaps he could simply inch back a little on the horse when he felt cold, to take in some of that warmth. For survival purposes of course. Nothing more.
The King hissed with discontent when Alfred mounted, the brazen knight tossing the King’s hood over his head, thus blocking his sight since the fabric was too long. While he fussed with fixing it back to a proper place so that he may see, Arthur pulled his bow onto his lap, fingers tracing over the horse hairs used. It was a fine bow, made with great craftsmanship and obviously highest quality. He should take care of it, for it may save his life, or perhaps Alfred’s- that would be something to see. He was smirking to himself when he noted Alfred speaking and others around him. Bandits were nearby, and from the sounds of it, they weren’t friendly like this group here. The King’s shoulders rose slightly with alarm, then fell, him leaning back into Alfred’s chest to mumble up to him, asking if it was safe to proceed like this with such people nearby their route. The Knave reassured him that there was nothing to worry about, even if they did cross paths with them, he would be the victor. Sighing, the King fell silent once more for the journey.
Snowflakes fell on the King’s cheeks, sending a terrible shiver of cold racing down his spine. He understood that they could not stop in such weather, and so he did as he had thought before; snuggling back between Alfred’s arms, using the man like he was a warm chair. Such a spoiled King he was, but right now, he craved a hot cup of tea, a warm blanket and to be clean. He probably smelled of a horse from riding one all day. Such a prime man, he truly was not used to such things, it was a shock to him, yet he didn’t complain, which was unusual. Normally by now he would have irritated the Knave with all his bitter complains, such as ‘my rear is numb from this beast’ and so on. No, he was unusually silent, even for a man who had taken this into his own hands, demanding to be a part of his Kingdom’s fight and such. It became blistery out, wind whipping across their cheeks with the snowflakes, making it feel like tiny little thorns scratching across any, and every, bit of uncovered skin. It even pushed through some of the lighter clothing to send icy chills across the rest of the body. By all accounts the King was rather lucky that Alfred was riding with him, the broad shouldered and large build man was enough to cover some of the wintery blizzard, but not enough. Finally it was as if the King stopped brooding as he inched back into the Knave’s arms, whining a bit as he turned his face away from the wind to press his cheek against the Knave’s chest, tugging the hood to cover the rest of his face.
After agreeing to stay at an inn and making sure things were set correctly; horses taken care of (they were fed and given shelter first come to find. It was proper to see that their trusty friends were well taken care of before one’s self- and the King couldn’t agree more, even as he stood there, shaking from head to toe.), personal items into their rooms and inn paid for with the King’s money. The King was offered food, but he politely raised his hand, giving a small shake of his head. He was too cold, at the moment if he were to eat, it would be very bad, since he would be rather ill. Thankfully the Knave had a bath drawn so that it would be warm for the King. Once they were alone though, Arthur leaned close to the Knave, nearly sticking to his arm, eyeing the room pointed before him. A public bath. The King was rather weary about such things. He had always had his public facilities back at the castle, and worried of others stepping inside. Alfred declared that he was going to stand guard outside the door, so the King may have his privacy. Lucky for the King, his guardian here understood nearly all his strange fears. The green hood slipped from the King’s sandy colored hair, the royal looking up at the Knave with a very rare, and very small, smile. He said his thanks and marched forward to the bath, stripping himself awkwardly, very awkwardly since he was used to maids doing it for him, then tipped his toe into the bath, feeling the burst of burning heat race across his leg. Wincing, he eased himself into the water. It was only a minute before he was finally all warm again and he slipped under the water fully.
It was about forty minutes later that the King pulled himself from the now luke warm bath and haphazardly dried himself- his hands first. A habit- maybe a bit of an OCD? His hands and arms had to be dry at all times, or else he got nervous. It was probably the cause of him wearing gloves all the time- even as a royal, he wore them in casual dress as well at times. His damp fingers reached behind him, tracing across the mark on his back, it looked like a tattoo, however this was done by a heated metal. The process of enduring such pain of having the King’s insignia burnt into his flesh proved his worth as a ruler. Now that he was older, it didn’t hurt anymore, but he did not show anyone the special mark, for they had to be deemed worthy to the King as well. Even so, his guardian just out side the door had seen it before… The King lifted the robe that the inn had provided, but he set it aside, pulling on the pale tan under tunic he had wore under his clothing earlier, then his under leggings before walking back into the room, approaching the Knave. Some soap still clung to his hair- the King obviously terrible at washing himself- but at least he tried. Green eyes peer at the Knave, clear and unwavering- or so it seemed. Arthur lowered his head and sighed finally. “Is this the right idea for me, Knave? Would it had been better if I had remained castleside?”
While the King is taking a bath to warm his body, Alfred, Mark and Alphonse are discussing about their plans tomorrow, they need to decide which route to take in order to reach the other side of the mountain and they have to think about the safety of their travels as well. They can’t storm into the snow storm without proper preparation. “We can use the old route, it will be quicker that way.. Although that place always have snow storms. We will survive like last time.” Mark said while leaning his back against the wall, Alphonse standing right next to him. “I don’t think that’s wise.” Alfred said without delay then the two gave him a questioned look. “The King is weak against cold.. If we push through using that route we will be putting the King’s life in danger.” Thankfully Arthur couldn’t hear their conversation because of the thick walls. “If that’s the case then we will be using the long road, we go to east then circle the mountain.” Alphonse pull out his map, such thing is rare nowadays but this man here enjoys making maps and writing down his new discovered caves or small villages. A very useful companion and an effective envoy. “There are villages too so restocking and finding inns won’t be that difficult.. We can gather information from the residents too.”
“Good.. People always have a keen ear when it comes to something interesting. We shall take that route then.” said as he give Alphonse a firm pat on his shoulder. He’s the youngest among them but really curious about nearly everything, curiosity is a good trait during this age, as long you know your limits then you’re safe, he’s good in using swords and axe, a true hunter he was. Mark on the other hand is the eldest in the group, he’s the decision maker whenever Alfred is in a pinch, he’s also the one who looks for a loophole when stuck in a situation. Just like what Alfred explain back in their homeland, Mark is skilled using the bow and a common thief just like Alfred. He’s the one who taught Alfred everything, from picking locks to pick pocketing- sadly though Alfred failed in learning how to throw sweet lines; Mark can make every woman, young and old swoon. But who needs pick up lines anyway when Alfred has great looks? Just one glance with his striking blue eyes then flashes his bright smile, their loins would go wet. These two are Alfred’s close friends, his brothers in arms ever since he stumble into the great empire of Britain. He owe them his life as they owe theirs to him. “We shall leave tomorrow morning, 10 o’clock. Mark can you train the King using the bow early morn? We have to hone his skills before we reach our main destination.”
“Of course, just make sure you wake him up.”
”..Yeah, about that.. Tomorrow. Can you tell the innkeeper to make tea? The King tend to get grumpy without it.” Perhaps he should bring a couple of tea bags too, best to keep tea close or Arthur will surely explode. Alphonse and Mark bid their good nights then left to join the others, they will be drinking tonight before hitting the sack. A good ale always help a man in falling asleep, as long you don’t drink too much that is. By the time the King return, Alfred is tying his hair back. It have grown long and reach the back of his neck after months of no trimming but it didn’t bother him, he can always cut his hair using the dagger but the man decided to keep it. Blue eyes scan the King’s facade then a gentle smile slowly form on his lips, there’s still a soap clinging on the King’s hair. Cute. He coax the lord to come closer and sit right next to him then Alfred grabbed the towel to wipe it off and dry Arthur’s wet hair. “You made this decision despite the danger, right Sire? Then do not waver.. Regrets are only for fools.. Once you made a decision then you must stand up for it or else you betrayed yourself.” He drop the towel on the King’s shoulder after drying his hair then Alfred comb it using his fingers… it was smooth and soft to touch. “Tell me, Sire.. Who is your number one protector?” The Knave chuckled when the King said it was him and Alasdair. “No.. Your number one ally is yourself.. You can protect yourself wherever you go, follow you whatever choices you do and supports you until the very end. That’s why you shouldn’t harm yourself, lie to yourself or betray yourself because when the time comes, Sire.. you have no choice but to stand on your own.”
He can see the worry in the King’s feature. He’s probably frightened to know that there are times he will be left alone, to face the challenges all by himself. Alfred did what he can to comfort the fragile man- he brought up a hand then he gently touch Arthur’s cheek to bring him back to reality, to have their eyes lock once more. “I know it’s frightening.. I know that you’re not yet ready to explore by your own but you have the strength inside you, Sire. You even escape the Castle to explore the town before, all by yourself, remember? That strength is sleeping inside you.. That’s why me, Mark and Alphonse will teach you everything we know so that you will be ready. You will be the strongest King in the land and no one can harm you. Now come, we should head downstairs to eat dinner then we can get some rest.” The Knave slip off the bed then he offer his hand to hold..
Alfred knew that Arthur will be strong in the future.. He can protect himself by then and soon the Knave will be no longer needed. Like what they say, when someone left you it means that you did good, you thought the other well. But for now..
He just want to pamper the King, protect him in anyway he can and remind the man that he will always be there whenever he needs him.