There it was. The rush of butterflies over his system, a bubbling, tingling sensation that brought him to stare at the Knave with his eyebrows arched. The King could feel his chest beating, his acting as if it was going to burst pure from his chest. As a royal, he was used to such greetings or actions as the chaste kiss to the knuckles, but when the head strong and troublesome Knave did it, all these things flooded over him. The longer the man’s lips lingered against his hand the further the warm feeling spilled, like Alfred was breathing life into him with just a small act. An act that was sure to leave the King confused in the end, but for now, he was happy. As the Knave straightened up, the King twisted his hand some to lace their finger’s together and allowed him to lead the royal man out of the library and down the dully lit halls to the circled staircases that led them up towards the towers and where the King’s chamber was. Once his door was opened for him, the King slipped his hand away slowly, lingering for the last touch before he slipped inside, keeping his eyes locked with Alfred’s. “Take not too long.” He warned and let the door slid shut behind him so that they may grab fresh garments for sleeping.
The bedroom, a bedroom actually. Large and warm from the hearth, the bed made with the finest of material and many pillows to support the King. Home. This was his home, and he should feel safe, but it felt more unreal than the small inns, or the caves that they slept in before. The King walked over to the dressing area and let his heavy cloak fall into the chair, followed by the jewelry on the table and his belt hung up. Keeping on a simple emerald embedded band on his fore right finger, a dangling emerald from his ear and the watch around his neck, Arthur walked to his bed, sitting at the edge and hitting his boots at the wooden frame, just waiting.
A knock sounded, then a voice, then Alfred followed to enter the room. The door locked for safety, and the King shifted to start to remove his boots only to lean back and allow the Knave to do so for him, then his trousers since the tunic was long enough as usual for him to sleep in alone. “She shall be here tomorrow… The crown’s pain will be on display.” The King muttered quietly, speaking of his aunt whom had been plotting against her nephew taking the crown, planning on using the poor young King for her advantage. “I am wondering if things shall go as planned.” He held out his hand, but this time Alfie fluttered over and hopped onto his finger, hopping up his arm and nuzzling against his worried master’s cheek lovingly. Arthur whispered a good night to the little bird and watched him flutter over to the bedside table, making the setting of face towels to be his little evening bedding.
Now, given there was probably much to say, bundled and tumbling around the King’s mind, but for now, he was at a loss. What could he bring up to even spell from his lips anymore? Tired gibberish that could cause harm come morning. Tired Kings do not speak for good reason. Arthur pulled up the blankets and swung his tired legs under them then situated himself against the pillows, staring up at the draping curtains that surrounded his bed. His head rolled to the side slightly, staring over at Alfred, his body partly shadowed by the flickering fire, the orange hue causing the man’s tanned skin to almost glow and his hair to seem like the most bountiful harvest in the evening sun. “Knave, I’ve grown accustomed to you being closer.” He said dully, a monotone voice falling back to place, the same tone he often used within the castle walls. Tired, trained. “I cannot sleep, you have to come over here.” Selfish. A selfish King, whom desired nothing more than the comfort that he had learned from this brazen man. The touch of another, the sounds of their life, the comfort of being close. Then again, he disliked having Antonio come that close to him, but here he was near demanding Alfred to do nearly the same.
Almost as of the King was quietly pleading for someone to love him, but not as he demanded before. Not as a King, but as what his mother named him, Arthur. Was their such a thing anymore? Love? Betrayed by blood, the woman who near raised him. It’s a poison for sure.
It didn’t take long for the Knave to prepare himself for the evening. He washed up with the water in basin that can be found in top of the side table, next to his well kept bed. When he returned to the King’s room, he no longer wear his duty clothes or his armour. He sees no reason to do so for they’re in the safe confines of the castle and about to turn in for the evening. With the door securely bolted and windows close to keep them warm from the night chilly wind, the Knave dutifully remove the King’s boots then set the heavy leather aside before giving Arthur’s smooth yet small feet, a quick massage. The Knave said nothing but he listened when the King commented about tomorrow’s event. The day when a beloved relative will be facing judgment, a judgment that will forever change their lives and future of the Empire. The King decided to lay down and let himself be comfortable under the warm blanket but his eyes fixated at nothing before turning to his side to gaze at his trusted Knight. Alfred, the Knave of Britain, stare upon the sleeping town through the towering glass window, a hand against the pane and his expression cannot be read. He’s thinking about something, perhaps wondering what possible problem they may face during the trial. He’s certain that during the event, there will be traitors that allied with the Lady will emerge and seek for a way to delay her punishment or perhaps cause chaos, an opportunity to sneak her out for an escape. Otherwise, there’s a possible assassination… Silencing the Lady in order to keep the secret hidden and mask her allies farther. King Mark is much aware of that possibilities and that is why he ordered reinforcements from his wife to aide the troops in escorting the Lady. If things goes well, the assault will be stopped and the hearing tomorrow will proceed. All they need to focus on is the tightening of security, especially the look outs.
To throw a punishment at your own relative won’t be easy and a complete focus must be laid tomorrow. All must be content with the King’s choice of judgment which can be found difficult to do so. In order to gain the best answer, Arthur requires a quiet place, a jury with no interruption or whatsoever. Alfred will make sure of that… “You’re getting more spoilt as ever after that long journey.” The Knave walked over the bed, left his sheathed sword leaning against the side table and then he crawl up on the mattress after remove his boots so that he could join the other. He lay on his side and invited the King to come closer and have his body mold against his Guardian’s own. Arthur did grow a few inch- surprising from a man who is already beyond his sprouting age but then again, being confined in this Castle could be the cause of his slow growing. With his training and learning the ropes about the world, his mind expanded, skills as well and that reflects through his physic. Arthur’s hand reach for the Knave’s golden locks as always, letting his finger thread through, circling, intertwined while his eyes fall to close and head rested right on the Knave’s shoulder. He’s comfortable like this, being close to Alfred and protected. “Rest with no dreams, Sire.. No dreams is better than good and bad for tomorrow we will be facing a difficult day but I am sure.. Thinks will end up well. Just remember, you’re not alone. I’m here, Matthieu is here, Sir Yao, Lord Alasdair and your people.” He pressed his lips over the King’s forehead. Wanting to get rid of the worry and trouble plaguing in the King’s mind.
Carriages arrived. Alfred is the first one who step out from the castle with guards following him. They surround the carriage while Alfred stood by the exit. The Lady is being escorted by one of Alfred’s trusted men for security measures. He knew that these men are not easily persuaded by money. “Welcome to the Kingdom of Britain- would say that if you aren’t guilty but today you will be facing trial, M’lady.. And Sir.” Ah, it’s Lady Rosa’s lover. He’s here as well for he refuses to run away and save his own skin. His love for Lady Rosa is so great, he wishes to face trial with her and suffer the very same consequences. The King is waiting in the throne room with the guards, nobles, advisers and Lord Alasdair who stood proudly next to his brother. When Alfred and the guest step inside the room, Alasdair shows no emotion when his eyes land upon his relative. He knew that threatening the crown’s life is punishable by death- either you’re a relative or not.. Judgment shall be given. Rosa and her lover knelt in front of the King as Alfred return to Arthur’s side.
The past few days, weeks, months were toll taking. The official action meeting had taken place hours ago and the King, Arthur here, had taken to his preferred library for some thinking time by himself. The Knave had gone to check on their traveling partners, making sure they had everything they needed and letting them stay in the castle if liked or setting them up at the inn and pub near the castle. Which ever was more preferable to them. The King however, stayed in the library until past sun setting, it was the Knave whom had come to fetch him for the evening once he had finished his nightly rounds and chores, since the stubborn King wouldn’t respond to anyone else that evening, and it was pretty obvious that once the King turned in for the evening, so would the Knave. Alfred was at the door as his highness closed the end of a certain scroll. Alfred Jones’ information to be specific. To be honest. They really didn’t have much information to go on, but enough for the King to be satisfied for now. He slipped the scroll into his cloak pocket, left his books at the table and walked to the door where his knight was standing, but instead of telling him that he wished to head to his chambers, the royal man put a hand on the open door and pushed it shut, sealing Alfred and himself in the quiet library alone.
The King’s head was still buzzing from the events earlier, the things that had been decided about the fate of his aunt and the Kingdom. That Lady Rosa would be captured and put on a public trial, where all her wrong doings would be well known, and then the punishment would be passed, one that had been decided upon earlier upon much inner debate from Arthur here. He seemed to be doing that a lot recently. Inner debates. Fighting with his mind. Like there was this bloody little version of himself, trying to tell him the wrong things inside. He was always so sure of himself before, never second guessing any of his actions or thoughts. Confident in everything he did and held his head high as the proud King he was. Recently, though, he had been thinking about things outside of his control. Painfully so, and the more he thought, the more confusion took a painful heated grasp around his heart. A heart newly melted from it’s icy shell that had protected it for so long. All the blame rested upon these broad shoulders before him, the Knave named Alfred. The King stepped closer to his guardian knight and then raised his hand, standing tall. From the top of his head to Alfred’s- Ah! Barely an inch of difference now. The King could even look him square in the eye and give him an accomplished grin. See? Small, insignificant things.
“You knew that his royal highness, Mark of Ireland was with us the entire time…” Arthur started, turning on his heel to look back at his library while standing next to the Knave, arms crossed over his chest. “You should have told me, I do worry that I may have not presented myself in the proper way. As a King I should be sure of everything around me…” Forest green eyes flickered their gaze over to Alfred, catching his flawless sky blues gazing back at him as they should be. “I have never been this uncertain before.” His own shoulders seemed to droop a little and the King tilted to the side, knocking himself against the Knave’s chest. “It was your birthday, and I kicked you to the floor. I am a ruddy King aren’t I?” His voice seemed smaller than normal, barely able to come out of his mouth with an audible sound at all. The King’s arms slipped over the Knave’s shoulders, with the heels of his boots, he didn’t have the need to tip toe anymore to do so, and it was easier for him to rest his head in the crook of the Knave’s neck and shoulder. “Have you finished your evening duties…?” Yes, that was good. The sensation of butterflies in his chest and stomach, the giddiness of being near Alfred- none of it was there. It was a little frightening to have it gone, no, maybe just unnerving for Arthur here.
“I’m tired.. Escort me to my chambers, you may retire to yours to ready for the eve…” The King pulled back and smoothed the front of his tunic and turned to the door, waiting for it to be opened. “However, you shall spend the eve in mine… I’m feeling rather vulnerable with the situation at hand, it is safer to not be left alone.” An excuse? It could be a hidden one. It was better to not be left alone during the nightly hours, but the real reason was hidden. After spent so much time out on their journey, sleeping not only side by side, but tangled in warmth. Arthur was at unrest whenever Alfred was too far from his side recently. The ticking of the watch that hung around his neck the only reminder of the Knave’s warm heartbeat as the accessory hung around his neck and pressed against his bare chest under his clothing. A piece of the Knave’s own being. That’s what it felt like. Arthur turned his head to look at Alfred again, his lips pursed together. Unnecessary thoughts for the current situation at hand. His hand reached out, fingers out stretched towards the sunny blonde. Weakness wasn’t something a King is to show to anyone, but those he trusted the highest, and Alfred was becoming the one to see it all, but also becoming his strongest weakness to his heart. Inner debates, second guessing, unnecessary thoughts and weakness. The King- no. Arthur Kirkland was poisoned, or perhaps sick. See, because now, his heart wouldn’t stop racing as he waited for Alfred to take his hand and to lead him down the hall away from the library.
"A word with you, Alfred." Alasdair said when he found the Guardian walk down the hallway that connects to the public dinning area where his friends are. He was ordered by the King to make sure that every man who escorted them through out their mission are well taken care of. Given proper food, rooms, their reward for their job and most of all, a good rest before returning to their homes by tomorrow. "Yes, Lord?" Alasdair stand proud right before the Knave; a mighty Lord he was, carry his name well. "I do not know what happened between you and my younger brother but I notice the huge change. Be warned, giving too much can kill. I suggest you don’t-"
"Forgive me my Lord. If you are worried about the King’s heart, I give you my word.. I shall not hurt his feelings or bring tears in his eyes. I respect him and treasure him as much as I respect and treasure this empire. This is my home, the King is my home. I will not do anything reckless to ruin it all." Alasdair stare at the Knave for a moment, scanning any prints of lies in his feature but the more he gaze at the young lad’s determined blue eyes, the more he realize that time did change. Before it was all war, all being a benefit, an easy access to what you truly crave. Maybe of power or fame. However, gazing at Alfred’s eyes and hearing his confident words, Alasdair began to believe that perhaps in this new generation, love does exist. “If you break your word-“
"I shall give up my life right before you."
"Do you love him that much, Alfred?" The Knave’s eyes went wide in surprise which confirmed that Alfred haven’t realize his heart has been seized by the King. Alasdair shook his head with a chuckle. "Forget what I asked, you may go now.. I trust you will keep your words till the very end." Alasdair then left with a faint smile on his lips. Perhaps a bit relieved knowing that someone will be there for his younger brother if ever something bad happens to him. Love… I thought it only exist in fairy tales but I suppose I’m wrong, mother. Arthur have grown quick than I expected. Soon he will become a great King just like what you wished and most of all, loved.
Alfred join the King after his errand but mind still hung up on what Alasdair thought of him. “Sire?” Ah, right. Mark. “Mark wants me to keep his identity hidden and as a good friend, I cannot betray him. As far as I know, he’s a normal human like you and I, Sire. He wants to be treated as equal, not of royalty and such.” Blue eyes follow the King until he felt Arthur’s head rest on his shoulder. Alfred close his eyes to feel more of his warmth, to take in the familiar scent of his shampoo, tea and roses. A scent he will never forget for years, a scent that he will surely search for eternity. “It’s just a birthday, Sire. We can celebrate it once the problem is over if you still desire..” He frown slightly when the King pulls away and mention about sleeping in their own chambers. But then, another offer was given.. He is allowed to sleep in the very same room with the King to ensure his safety. With a crooked smile he took a few step forward to take the King’s hand but instead of leading him to his chamber straightaway, the bold man brought the other’s hand up to his lips and press a kiss at the back.
Eyes close, warm yet chapped lips against the King’s soft hand. His heart skip a beat like butterflies flip in the air in happiness but he knew this isn’t right. A low ranking man like him is not worthy to have the King’s heart. I adore you. But he can love him still.
The Knave finally straighten up then lead the king to the royal chamber where they can finally get a well deserved rest.
Unknowing of the events of the Knave’s past and his relationship standings with the King of Ireland here, Arthur simply continued on with the way he was supposed to conduct his business. However, knowing now that he was possibly the only person on the journey whom had not known of the man’s identity did make him feel slightly weary about the whole ordeal at hand. Now as much as he did and had been trusting of King Mark, with the situation that was unfolding in the Kingdom of Britain, Arthur couldn’t help but to feel a bit frazzled by all of this. Like his neck hair was standing on end and he had to be completely proper as a King at this point, if not, then he could be seen as a lesser King. Formally he excused himself to clean up and change out of these traveling clothes that he had been wearing for too long now. It was strange to be escorted by the maids instead of his Knave, actually just being separated from him felt like a part of him was missing. Was this the consequence of being around someone for so long? It certainly was not a feeling that was well liked. The King settled in the bath, letting the maids tut and fuss over how dirty he was. Their poor King they kept murmuring as they washed and rewashed his sandy blond hair. It felt amazing to be fully clean again though, as he exited the bath and dried off, his skin held a pinkish hue from the hot water and scrubbing, his hair a mess, but shimmering and soft once more. However as he was being dressed, he was informed with many apologies from the maids, that his clothing was going to need to be altered. The shoulders held not enough slack for his muscles gained, and the trousers were a tad short now, showing his ankles- which was unheard of in this era.
“Short…” He muttered to himself while staring at the long length mirror in his quarters, tugging at the sides of his vest and smoothing the pockets. Once again he finally looked royal. His hair had been attempted to be tamed, a small crown adorned on the side. Fancy necklaces dressed his neck and chest, rings in place on his hands, and his heels. During the journey, he had only been wearing boots, flat on the bottom of course for better traction and such in the snow they had encountered. Now back in his normal heels, he felt rather… high. High and mighty. An important fellow- well, he was King after all. He marched back to the dining hall they were using, standing proud and tall now. He was clean, fresh, royal. Everything he should be, but what’s more was that he was confident. No longer an unknowing King, but a man who had seen his Kingdom and it’s flaws in person. He was a grown man. It even showed in his actions at the table. He sat in his proper chair, but once Yao appeared with the books and paperworks, he gestured the advisor over, asking him to find the saved copy of documents on the Knave, for he wished to properly know his guardian as he should. With documents and books sprawled before them, Arthur held a book in his hand, feeling the weight of it in his palm, ah, how long had it been now since he last held a book in his hand.Oh how he missed the texture of the pages, the smell of ink, the flutter of the pages like kisses across his fingers and words to tell a story or history. Far too long.
While those two other men spoke about putting Arthur in danger and all that, the King focused on catching up on all the current things in his castle and the surrounding area. He needed to know everything before moving forward on anything at this point, it was his duty to his people to do so after all. When Yao handed him the transcripts on Alfred, he simply slipped them into his breast pocket and continued to look through some of the testimonials that were before him. However, ‘If Alfred dies—’ Arthur’s head snapped up, green eyes wide with a fear unknown to him. The Knave, perhaps dying on the field, and then his own brother- who else would protect Arthur? No, that wasn’t the fear that was bubbling and making him feel uneasy with the topic. He knew at this point there was no doubt that Arthur would gain an extra lesson to his regiment. He could and would protect himself, but what was frightening was the idea of being alone. Mark turned to him after making his point and offered a wink, but all this King could muster was a mere nod. He understood that they had won over his brother at this point.
But in reality, Arthur didn’t want to lose anyone.
“Aye.” Arthur agreed to his brother. Extra lessons, going to combat. Surely different combat than before when he held his bow and arrow at the advancing guard before. This time he would have to be swifter. The King closed his books as Alfred rejoined them, he turned to Yao and requested a cup of tea with some biscuits, even though dinner was being prepared as they spoke. His stomach was uneasy, a full meal would cause a problem at this point unless he calmed himself down more. Arthur raised his hand and gestured for the Knave to step over, then gestured to the seat next to him before looking away. “Until the time we can guarantee the safety of everyone… stay by my side at all costs.” Of course it seemed like a legitimate order from a King to his guard. He would have to keep close to one for his own safety, but this King was at unease with the topic, the idea that his own family had already betrayed him and that the Knave and King had not been separated for months since on their journey.
“Is everything all settled with the payment and room for our friends?” Yes, good. One less thing to dampen on the King’s brain. “Now… I understand that my actions had seemed rash, but it has not come without benefits. I have seen what I could, learnt from raw experience. It has been a growing experience for myself, and in doing so, I feel as though I can properly… take care of our people as they should be, and not as I have been told.” Sleeping outside the castle was cold, many took to drinking ale to keep warm, and eating soup to last the evenings. Many did now have the means to get another blanket with a single call like Arthur could in the castle. Before the next winter fall, they should take care in making sure that there were stable things available for those who needed them, like blankets. Instead of the hefty wool tax and ale tax, the collections of such that would be pulled into the castle. During the winter they could lesson the tax so that families could survive rather than have the large amounts of weather related death in the villages far from the castle. Anything that was even a slight help. However, they could look into this later with Yao, a close look upon the books was needed since normally it was run by greedy advisors, this time, the King was ready to dip his hands into his Kingdom and become a true King and not the trophy shown.
“It has also shed light upon the gap we have in our Kingdom’s line… The betrayal…” The King’s voice lowered. This was a subject that, well, if he could let other people take care of important things, he would have liked this to be done for him. However, that was not the case since he was set to taking care of these things himself now. He would have to issue punishment and take care of the mess himself. As a King and as Rosa’s nephew. Arthur lifted his head to look at Alfred then to his brother across the table. “…Are we quite certain that it is Lady Rosa..?” He didn’t care if he was given strange looks at this moment. The lady had been one to mother him. Of course he would want to be certain, though the papers before him screamed the truth, even to his closed ears. Forest green eyes closed slowly as he took the moment to collect himself, feeling small in this room for the first time since he had come home. His heel dug into the carpet, finger nails into his knees, teeth clenched against one another.
“We must take care of this fast, and preferably… quietly. I would rather not worry our citizens about whom is really in control in our Kingdom.” He reached for his tea, but found that his hand was uneasy, trembling some, and so he dropped it back into his lap. “Brother… we know where Aun— Lady Rosa is currently and this general whom has been inside our home? We.. should detain them before they cause more harm to citizens or the crown. As for Lady Alice, I’m sure she holds no threat- however.. with current circumstances we cannot be too certain. I would prefer to have her stay here as a royal guest, or sent home with personally trusted Knights to keep an eye on her. For the Lady’s safety and our own.”
While the King is busy cleaning up and preparing for the meeting. Alfred took this chance to meet up with his younger brother. Matthieu is damned aware that Alfred and his men arrived today but he’s too busy in the kitchen to meet up with his older brother and so Alfred decided to pay him a visit, a quick detour that he needed most. As chef it is Matthieu’s obligation to guide his assistants and make sure that food are face and healthy to sustain strength that their soldiers needed. And now he needs to prepare a delightful feast for Alfred’s men and their important guests. The door swing open, Matthieu glanced over his shoulder then his eyes went wide in surprise to see his older brother standing there with a most goofy smile. Matthieu excuse himself then lead Alfred outside the kitchen but as soon as the door closes behind them, the younger latch onto his older brother, squeezing him tight and sniffled. “Are you crying again?” Matthieu didn’t say a word but shook his head to no, but Alfred is aware that his soft hearted brother is crying out of worry and at the same time, relief. He may not have the ability to read people’s heart like Matthieu but being twins, he can tell by just listening to his sniffling, the way he embrace him and the gentle voice that whispered. “Welcome home.”
"Lady Rosa will be captured today and then will be escorted here in the castle for questioning, what are your thoughts about this, Matthieu?" The two settled in the public dinning area in the castle where soldiers and castle workers a like gather to get their food or simply enjoy their drinks with their friends. Alfred have his share of wine but barely touches it. Matthieu on the other hand is currently holding his cup of tea, his eyes cast low as if looking for answers through the ancient lines of the oak table. "I never met Lady Rosa before but I did met Lady Alice. I don’t see any malice in her heart and nothing about the current problem, it seems the Lady has nothing to do with her mother’s action but then again, she was used by putting her in an engagement with the King in order to gain power. Perhaps Lady Rosa planned on taking over once King Arthur and Lady Alice are bound in marriage, only then she will strike. Have all the power passed to Lady Alice then use her as a puppet to do whatever she wanted… But I’m not the type who will jump into that conclusion, Alfred. I cant be certain until I am able to met her."
"Then meet you shall… Do you think you can use your ability to find the truth?"
"It doesn’t work all the time but I will try, eh?" That’s what worries him. The more Matthieu uses his ability, the more fragile he gets. Like long time ago, they encountered a murderer in the back alley and that man grabbed Matthieu when he was about to escape from the soldiers who are looking for him. He was suppose to take Matthieu as hostage but Alfred was there. With his strength he protected his younger brother but because of the contact, Matthieu saw what’s inside the man’s heart. It was dark and cold and frightening. Never in his life have seen his younger brother so torn and traumatized. He even have to sleep next to him for weeks before he turn back to normal. The more Matthieu connects to monstrous people, it takes small pieces of him as well. "I know what you’re thinking, Alfred." Matthieu said finally after taking notice of Alfred’s worried look. "But don’t worry. I’m a fully grown adult now, eh? I can take care of myself."
"I know but that doesn’t mean you can stop me from caring about you. And who gave ya the permission to read my thoughts, hmm?" He nudge his younger brother and Matthieu rolled his eyes but there’s a smile on his lips. "I think you forgot that I can only read people’s mind once I touched them. I’m just standing here you hoser and besides.. I don’t need to hold your hand to know what’s inside your head. We’re brothers.. I can feel what you feel somehow and you to mine. Alfred.. I will be strong too for both of us.. Someday, I will be the one protecting you."
"I know you will but make sure to protect yourself as well.. You’re the only family I have, Matthieu. I can’t risk of losing you too."
After gathering information from Matthieu such as the state of the castle or any event happened during his absence, the Knave head straight to the meeting room where the others are. Everyone turn their attention to the Knave but resume to their conversation as soon as the door was shut close. However, instead of taking the chair next to Mark, the King requested that he will sit next to him. Not that he’s complaining though but it seem unusual for the King to ask someone- more importantly, to sit on the empty chair next to the King. That spot is for the King’s son or perhaps his right hand man. Alfred is just a guardian, nothing to be considered as his better half or someone who he trust more than anyone. Yes, a right hand man is a possible next ruler. Alasdair eyed the Knave as he walk across the room to take the spot then he glance at Arthur who is obviously glue eyed at the taller one. Then he leans in to whisper but Alasdair was unable to catch their words and the Knave leans in more to whisper something in return. “I will always be by your side, Sire.. And yes, they are now eating like champions as we speak.” The two are now straighten up, they proceed to their conversation while enjoying their own food. Freshly cooked, steaming and looked delicious. It’s been awhile since they had a proper meal like this. During their travel, all they have is their rations and sometimes rabbits or deer that they hunt within the forest. Nothing too grand, no spices used up as well and most of all, no desert. That’s why the Knave gaze at the food as if it was heaven then he starts eating quietly as he listen to everyone’s conversation.
Arthur is still in denial. He even inquire if it is truly Lady Rosa who betrayed them and sad to say, Alasdair confirmed their findings. “It is true.. She is the culprit of all mishaps we experienced. I hardly believed it myself.. She’s been a second mother te us and taught us many on how te rule our Kingdom but alas, dear brother.. Ye an I know that this day will come eventually.” There was silence, save for the Knave’s spoon touching the bowl of soup and Alphonse loud chewing. “We found newly purchased cannons in the basement of their Castle. Lady Rosa refuse te let us in but we break through and found what she’s been hidin’ from us. Weapons such as swords, armors, spears and many other. She insisted that it is the old stock in the castle to be used for any upcoming wars but when we checked the inventory list, all are not listed. Budget she used came from the tax that are supposed te be sent te our people to start businesses and trades. By the looks of it, she is the one who manipulated our traitor advisers before. I’m quite surprised that none of them admitted that it was Lady Rosa- they are truly loyal te her which makes me wonder what she offered te those louts te betray us that easily.”
"Power and a stable place in the empire." Mark suggested. "If Lady Rosa plan on taking the throne with her lover.. Then for sure she offered a high standings in the castle once she takes the crown and perhaps wealth and land. It’s a common offer and hard to ignore."
"Possible.." Alasdair leans back to get comfortable. "We already sent troops to retrieve Lady Rosa and her lover. They are escorting them now te our Kingdom. Tomorrow morning, they will be here to face their trial. If they resist, many people will be aware of their actions in which Lady Rosa cannot take risk of. She loves her daughter, Lady Alice, te be put her name in shame."
"Ah, a love of mother is indeed complex. She’s forcing her to marry Lord Arthur then now she’s saving Lady Alice’s dignity. Charming." Mark shook his head. This political problem is maddening. Now he wonder how his wife manage to handle of all the insanity back home. Perhaps he will return to their Kingdom once this is settled with, for now sending letters will suffice. "This will be a very difficult decision, Arthur. But remember, you’re human too.. A King at the same time. You follow what is right for you and for your Kingdom. Never separate the two.. Sounds stressful and put more pressure, no? But think of it this way. The whole place." Mark extend his arms, Alphonse automatically ducks down to avoid getting hit while enjoying a roasted chicken. "Is yours- frankly speaking, yes it is yours but- not as your possession… As your family. The people in the town, the beggars, the orphans, the young, the old, the deaf, the mute, the guards, servant maids, gardener, rancher, advisers, the grumpy.” He glance at Alasdair at that. “The lover.” Glance at Alfred this time and the poor Knave choke on his food. “The allies, the traitor and the damned… All of this is your family.. Now in order to protect your family, what will you do? What is best for them? Should we kill the traitor or give her another chance? But then again, a weed will always destroy the crops even if you take care of them well. Then again, you can always strip off their ability to grow. Get rid of their title then put them in the right place. Your choice, Sire and remember.. Whatever decision you make.. Everyone within your family will support you so never hesitate. Only fools will be uncertain.”
It was one thing to be feeling tired, but to have this extra ill feeling was worse. The King felt his stomach rotate and flip about, threatening to let loose it’s contents out to the sea- but a dignified King never does that. Throwing up was out of the question, even on his sickest days, he could never do such a thing. Luckily the Knave understood right away what it was that was causing such a strange sickness in his highness. The man led the King to the front of the ship, where the light sea spray calmed the man as well as the way the ship cut through the waves was flawlessly beautiful. “You are not originally from the Britains?” Inquired the curious man. It was probably written in those same documents that the King had so hastily thrown at the fire. He ought to know more about the man he was traveling with, for more than just the obvious politeness since it was a provided information gathered. The King took in a breath of the cool air, letting it seep into his lungs, but released it before he would have the urge to cough. Coldness in his chest was never anything good for the King, behind harbored inside thick stone walls, he had a rather weak immune system and weaker lungs. Sure he could run forever with his stamina, but if it grew cold, a coughing attack was sure to ensue as soon as he stopped. He followed the advice of Alfred, watching the layout before them. It did help, a lot actually, also with the calm and happy chatter of their companions behind them added to the comfort. Arthur took another breath and relaxed some, resting his hand on the rail while the ship moved them with ease.
Taking a punishment out upon his own family was conflicting. The lady whom had raised him like her own son, gave him love and care and even tended to him when he grew ill during one of their harsher winters. Death, that was probably the proper passing upon the lady for betraying and putting the Crown in harms way. Threatening the King’s life- her nephew. The King lowered his head, watching the ship’s hull cut through the waves smoothly below them. The Knave sensed the King’s sadness it seemed for he spoke out with his own opinion on what to do with the situation. Banishment. The King’s forest green eyes fluttered shut for a moment, taking in the man’s words of advice upon punishing his Aunt. Have her stripped of glory, stripped of her title and wealth and banished from the family and lands to live in poverty with those she has caused unforeseen harm to. The ones too poor to buy bread, or seed for their lands. The King opened his eyes. He had seen those places with his very own eyes, his own body and heart to know that something is going awfully wrong in this Kingdom. It was nice to speak with someone whom doesn’t hold above the King’s head a guilt, or making him seem like there is only one choice as a ruler. There, a small smile peeked over the King’s chapped lips, just an upturn of the corners and a subtle nod. He would take it into careful consideration of course. As a King he had the right and ability to listen to all given idea on a subject and to choose as well as mend for the best one. He spoke no more on it though. Instead, the King kept his eye upon the horizon, thinking, mulling things over in his brain and heart. What to do that was best for him, the crown, his people and his Kingdom as a whole. Soon they turned in for the evening, the rocking making the King still unsteady so as they laid and settled in the same bed, he took the initiative to yank the Knave’s arm around him and near latched himself at his chest, looking for a stable unit to keep him from floating off in the night. Besides, the Knave seemed to be, as always, radiating with warmth, and being on the water, the night was chilly.
Their arrival home was largely welcomed. Common folk and wealthy nearby alike all gathered to line the way for the King, to grab a glance, anything. They wanted to know what the King had learnt, how he had grown- if he was injured. But more than that. What knowledge did he come home with? What changes were to be made. Inside the carriage, the King giddily peeked out the side curtain, just enough to see the happy faces of his people, many in relief that he was returning finally. Much like a child, he bounced one of his legs up and down, eager to get out of the carriage and be home finally. One step from the carriage and right into the broad chest before him, the rumbling accent that followed and the thin scent of cigar told him all he needed to know. His own arms wrapped around Alasdair, returning the hug, but what was this? The King stood taller than he had before, his hug stronger and shoulder broader from his training with a bow. He was still shorter than the lord, but more than he looked before, a child fearful of the world, unknowing and uncaring; Arthur looked wiser. Grown from the inside as well as the outside toned. A reflection of their father nearly. “It is good to see you, brother.” The conversation turned to the Knave, a punishment towards the Knave? The King’s green eyes flickered over to the Knave, the other Knights standing guard, tall and proud, their chests pushed out. There was more than usual, some younger than he remembered. Yes, there was new knights here. Alasdair was buffing their guard and army it seemed. The King took a step to the side, gesturing for the Knave to stand at his side where he belonged while Alasdair seemed to be getting a light tongue lashing from Mark- King!?
From a young age, the King of Britain here was told of the other residing Kings around them. There was King William, who’s Kingdom was destroyed, they had been one of the closest to Britain in many aspects. There was talk of the Kings in the other islands and parts around them. Ireland. Wales. Scotland. However, with Britain’s reach either those Kingdoms became null and part of Britain it’s self, or grew upon their own accord. Ireland was one that grew on it’s own. Scotland was a territory in Alasdair’s control and Wales was a farming area which was under control of Alasdair and Arthur’s brothers, that lived there. So, this man was the King of Ireland. The reckless King whom enjoyed hunting and danger alike, the thrill and yet had a level headed Queen who kept the Kingdom in perfect order. The King of Britain was under the subtle protection and guidance of the King of Ireland! Arthur stared nearly wide eyed at Mark, flabbergasted about this news, he did know that Alasdair knew him form meetings and greetings and visits alike, but never had the King of Ireland stepped upon the Castle grounds!
Arthur glanced to Alfred, he seemed on edge while those two bickered lightly about Arthur being an adult or not and about the fate of the King. However, there was a whisper of the crowd, wondering if there would be a punishment upon the Knave for letting their precious King in heed of danger. Even with the King of Ireland being there, it was a dangerous feat. “We shall take thy Knave’s punishment ruling upon my own accord. There are heavier items at stake that need to be taken care of we believe.” Arthur said sternly, tightening his jaw as he looked past everyone and to his beautiful castle, the lovely climbing ivy on the towers and the moss that crawled upon the lower parts of the stone walls.
“Shall we all take for tea?” Some of the traveling men dismounted and were tending to their horses. “We shall make amenities for those whom have traveled with us. It has been a long and tiresome journey for all. Some ease of mind would do them well. They also need their pay. Come, let us get warm.” The King was being bold, but he was going to take care of the ones who put their lives in harms way to protect them all. They were his friends, royal or not. They had all bonded together over the fires, the warm meals and ale. Kept watch in the evening and joked when things seemed rough. Arthur turned to the Knave. “Instruct one of the guards to lead our friends to the stables for their horses. Then have them guide them in to the more casual dining hall… a meal to thank them while I speak with Yao.” He said quietly. Then turned to his brother and King Mark. He bowed his head respectfully.
“His highness Mark has served as a mentor for us, brother. However we still cannot shoot with a blindfold on.” He chuckled.
“Mayhaps we should try on Alasdair here!” Piped Mark in a cheerful tone, the look on the Lord’s face suddenly paling, but it changed when suddenly, Arthur smiled.
“Please join us all for a tea. Nothing too fancy… we are afraid that a fancy course shall only cause us to bloat and become ill in the later hours.” Arthur said calmly, pressing a hand over his stomach. “A stew maybe.”
It’s strange to watch the two high ranking men battle for Alfred’s life. Though he prefer women fighting over him but still this is better than having his head cut off for taking the King without Alasdair’s knowledge. Alfred doesn’t look too surprised when Alasdair address Mark as the King of Ireland, he already knew the whole story and Mark’s real identity. That’s how they met actually. Alfred being captured as a thief within the Ireland Empire’s walls in spite of doing nothing but searching for a trade to acquire a very rare medicine for his sick guardian. He was given death as penalty. King Mark wasn’t convinced as his eyes meet Alfred’s own, the Knave is a young lad that time and he shows no fear as he gaze back at the King and no words spoke out of his lips. “Are you truly that willing to die? Usually men plead for their lives at this moment but you, however, remained quiet.” King Mark asked finally, stopping the soldier from putting a sack over the boy’s head to prepare him for hanging. “Why would I plead if I did nothing wrong? I rather remain quiet since the out come will be the same - I’m dead.” Brave young one and it amuses King Mark. His Queen, Lady Cecilia, lean in to whisper something then at that moment, King Mark’s eyes brighten. “My Queen fancies you, thief.. Tell us your name and I shall give you the chance to explain the real story behind of this accusations. Only then I will give my final decision regarding your life.” A rare chance. Usually they refuse to heed any pleads or chances but today, Alfred is lucky. Standing right in front of the King in this stadium like place while town’s people stand watch from the distance, waiting for him to speak so they could share their own thoughts about this. “My name is Alfred Frederick Jones. I have a younger brother Matthieu Frederick Williams. My guardian’s name is Lilian Von Einstenberg. I came from the Kingdom of Great Britain.. I went here to make a trade.. My guardian is severely ill because of this cruel winter. She needs medicine which is hard to find in my home. This is the only reason why I am hear.” People behind blurt out that he’s lying, trying to wriggle pity from the King’s heart. ‘Hang him’ they say, ‘punish the liar’ one added. The King lift his hand to silence them all, their opinion are too unreasonable to heed. “Are you speaking the truth or making it up to gain sympathy?”
Alfred gaze up sternly, blue eyes lock at King Mark’s own and then with his firm voice he said without turning away. “I do not care if you kill me or not, King Mark.. Nor I desire for your sympathy.. But I stated the name of my brother and dear guardian for a reason. For you to search if ever guilt comes after taking my life. I hope nothing more but at least a little aid or to inform them that I won’t be able to come back home again.” What happened after that is something Alfred will never forget. He was freed, given a horse to ride home and medicine for his beloved guardian but when he reach home it was too late. She passed away before he could give her the medicine she needs but nevertheless she held on until Alfred came home just to say good bye and whisper how much she loves her two little angels. Lord Mark went to visit a week after and was saddened about the news but ever since that day they began travelling together to search for an adventure. Alfred keep Mark’s identity a secret, including Alphonse’s, he is Mark’s right hand man.
Arthur instructed Alfred to command one of the guards; he nod then left to do what he’s been told and let the royals have their privacy. King Mark and Alphonse followed Alasdair, leading them to a place where they can discuss about their findings in a private place. We’re walls have no ears or eyes staring at them. “Food will be delivered to us soon..” Alasdair explain as they enter the castle then to royal’s dinning area. Not the one they usually use whenever they eat meals during normal days, this one is made for special occasion such as having a guest from another Kingdom. The three settled around the table while waiting for Arthur’s return; he’s currently cleaning up and put on fresh clothes to take his place in this Castle once more. A proud looking King with expensive clothes and a crown on top of his head. Soon the servant maid then appear to serve their food then left to give them space. Alfred will be joining them after he take care of giving rewards and a proper meal for those who help them in their conquest. Yao then appear with maps and books in his arms, ready to tackle down today’s plan. “I still can’t wrap it around my head that you, of all people, decided to help my younger brother.” The Lord of Britain sound a bit disappointed but at the same time, relieved. He likes Mark but sadly Alasdair is too stubborn to show his ‘friendly’ side to anyone. “You even left your castle for this.. How is Lady Cecilia?”
"My wife is well and healthy and reigning the Castle like a proper ‘King’. She enjoys playing leader right now and I couldn’t have been more proud of her." He said without hesitation. Many Kings have multiple wives and still look for more but Mark here, he remain faithful and even brag about his precious better half - Alfred is even tired of hearing the story how Mark and Cecilia met, repeating it on and on during their travel in the old days. "You should be happy that I’m the one taking care of him, Alis. It is obvious that you fail to teach your younger brother about combat.. These days it is require that the King should know how to fight or defend himself-"
"No one is asking you to take that part, King Mark. There is no need for him to lift a sword and fight. He have me, that Knave, the soldiers and this thick wall. It’s enough to protect him."
"You’re wrong. He nearly got killed in Lady Alice’s castle.. You cannot keep him under your wing forever, Alasdair. If you die because of a tragic accident or perhaps killed in battle, who will be there to protect Arthur? The Knave? If Alfred dies, Arthur will be left alone and vulnerable. Do you honestly believe that your soldiers will respect and follow Arthur’s command knowing that he’s inexperienced in battle?" Mark is making a point here. So far he’s the only one who can tongue lash Alasdair and bring him to his senses. All this protecting, the isolation and keeping Arthur away from the outside world will bring the downfall of this empire in the future. That’s why King Mark is here to give the stubborn lord some good educating. "I believe you’re doing your part in protecting him but it would be better if the King himself can protect his own. This will increase his survival compared to depending on others.. A King must stand strong by his own." Alasdair went quiet, probably swimming in his own thoughts now and remembered what his father said long time ago. Kings should be strong for his people.
Mark glance at Arthur to give him a wink. This victory in debate will give Arthur more freedom from now on. “Very well..” Alasdair said in defeat. “I see your point.. BUT. This doesn’t mean you can go wherever you want without informing me, Arthur.” He sighed. “Starting tomorrow you will learn more in comes to combat, you will have intense studying of tactic and will be joining a few battles.. Just don’t die or God forbid we will lose yet another King.. I don’t fancy filling up your shoes.”
While the men spoke on the current situation, the King was nursing his own warm cup of tea, staring with a rather blank expression at the table. It was hard to take in. Sure Alasdair had expressed concern about their aunt once or twice, and Arthur’s engagement to Lady Alice was to put off any rising suspicions on the lady as well as for them to get a sneak peak into the other Kirkland house hold. Unfortunately it seemed once the King and Lady decided to call off their engagement things were put into motion to have the King and his highest of support assassinated at the ball. Luckily, it was a failed plot. Arthur was hardly ready to place such a heavy blame upon a member of his family, especially the lady whom had taken care of Arthur as a mother figure when his own had passed on. All the while the King was staring at his tea, he was only partly listening to the current conversation, knowing full well they were trying to sort out the situation at hand. To travel so far and to have such casualties was a terrible fate, even worse when the problem rested right back at the castle and the Lord n’ Lady’s lands just on the other side. Had the King not gone off and forced the Knave to let him escort this mission, perhaps those men could have been spared their fate of Antonio’s hands. Arthur let go of his cup, tilting his hand to look at the palm, it was red from holding the warm porcelain, but all the King saw was the red of blood stained hands. Their lives were on him now. Slowly his fingers curled back into a fast as he placed it to rest against the table.
“Such behavior is saved for other Kingdoms, I shan’t have ours sullied by such dealings… Their judgment will be made public. Lady Alice will rise to her mother’s place, however the lands they control will be regulated and closely monitored by the Castle and Keep..” The King said finally. He was done eating, only having a light meal that evening, and the Knave not telling him to eat more, they both understood that it was better for Arthur to have a light stomach at this moment. The Knave backed up the King, even saying that Arthur was well enough to know what decisions to make, even throwing the King a reassuring smile, but the King seemed to ignore it for the sake of staring at his tea some more. He didn’t feel like smiling or any of that fancy things right now.Luckily they moved to the next matter at hand. Antonio. At first the King tightened up at the mention of it, but suddenly pressed the back of his hand to his lips to stifle a chortle. Alasdair as a peacock. He hadn’t heard a better explanation of his brother yet! At least it relaxed him slightly, enough for the King to pick up his cuppa again and press it to his lips for a sip- only to nearly spit it out. Gracefully, he swallowed the amber liquid then turned to his Knight in bewilderment. “Birthday?”
The look he received around the table! What? Did they expect that the King had actually read up on the file given to him about his Knave? Never! At that point he still despised the man, believed all to be a lie in that file and threw it in the hearth. However it was passed over since they all needed to prepare for the ship. Gathering their items, the horses and settling for the ship. Peaking of the ship, the negotiations took a while, but finally they boarded, the King taking small uneasy steps as he did so, then wrapped his arms around the rail at the side once on. Everyone settled down comfortably, the ship was to be the safest part for them. It wasn’t long before the King finally uncurled his arms and sat at the railing, legs over the edge as the ship sped forth on the water, Alfie settled in Arthur’s folded hands, sleeping calmly. The bird had grown some, his feathers having a small hint of red here and there at the ends.
The King didn’t flinch when the blanket draped over his shoulders, just reached out with one hand for the tea automatically, knowing who it was and that the Knave would have brought some warm drink for the King. “Aye.. we mostly travel by horse carriage when gone out.” The boat swayed, and the King felt a bit green about this, the way the waves crashed angrily against the bow and port, Sending the ship to lean towards the stern. The King swallowed down the thick feeling and finally tilted his paled face over to the Knave whom sat with him now. “As King for my… for our people. The people whom live in this Kingdom, I must segregate my familial ties from my duty to the Kingdom. I cannot see the woman as how I have always, right now, she is but Rosa Kirkland, traitor to the Crown and Church.” He said rather dully, taking small sips of the tea, but then he seemed to sway without the boat moving too much, the King suddenly leaning forward and his head knocking against the wooden panel of the ship.
“I am… not feeling well, Knave…” Alasdair was sure to have their hides this time.
It really is a surprise that the King knows nothing about the Knave’s birthday. Save for Alfred himself of course, he knew that Arthur will be so stubborn to check the Knave’s background. They had that rough relationship before and their egotistical heads clash before anyone notice it. Regardless of their bad start they manage to fix what is broken, mending it to have a stronger bond and in present, it keeps on growing as time passes and second spent together. During Alfred’s birthday, however, Mark and Alphonse greeted him and even offer Alfred a shot of rum to celebrate the day of his birth. Quietly, the Knave hoped that his King would remember but alas, it never happened. Not holding any grudge or some sort, he continue serving him with his best. Perchance next year they will have a proper celebration and next year he will hear Arthur’s voice congratulating him for coming in this world and became a part of his life. The group boarded the ship after making negotiations. They will travel nonstop until they reach their destination but there’s one problem about riding this fast moving ship and that is the sea sickness. Many of Alfred’s men aren’t good with riding boats, they’re used to taking the land with their horses or traveling with carriages. The same problem goes with their King who is now feeling unwell because of the waves. Alfred grab the cup of tea then set it aside, it’s best not to give him anything to drink for now or it will only go to waste. “Come.” He hold his hand and lead him across the deck. “I feel sickly during my first sea travel long time ago. I was young.. So young. Matthieu and I snuck inside the ship after losing our town and it lead us into a small town near Britain. That’s how our guardian found us. A nice lady who taught us many things about this world. Taught us how to survive and love..” They stand next to the guard. The Knave finally let go of the King’s hand then rest his elbow on the wooden rail. Blue eyes scan the vast sea as he did so. “If you feel ill. Gaze at the sea.. It will calm your mind and can see the waves approaching us. It will make your body prepare for the swaying until it starts to adapt.”
Alphonse and Mark are currently playing chess in the middle of the deck. Sitting on barrels with their play set on top of the table. The other crews that are well and kicking, stand around the two to watch their progress. Probably betting who will win- gambling, it’s part of their lifestyle. No signs of Antonio, no ships approach them for a raid, their travel is quick and smooth. Alfred hoped that by the time they arrive in Britain they will hear good news about capturing the Lady. Ah, yes.. That part. Arthur is still downhearted regarding the news. “You shouldn’t detach yourself, Sire..” The knave finally said after a long silence and dot the sadness in Arthur’s feature. “You can punish her as King but at the same time, give consideration as her nephew. Family will always be a family no matter how vile or damned they are. It is true she is planning to take over your crown but perhaps she’s blinded because of the power sitting before her. If you ask me… I would give her the proper consequences of her actions… And that would be banishment.” Usually when it comes to betrayal, the punishment would be death. Hanged right in front of the people but in banishment, they still live but won’t be given respect and all their title, land and belonging will be taken away. They will live as normal individual, a peasant who will work just to have food on their plates. “At least she’s alive to think over about her actions. You won’t be carrying the guilt of killing her, Lady Alice won’t despise you and for sure the Kingdom will remain intact. This will also give your people the chance to show her what life she gave to them- a poor life of hardship.” He glance at Arthur. “Then again, this is my suggestion. Your decision will always be honored, Sire.” He reach out to cup Arthur’s cheek, he’s a bit cold. “It’s getting chilly, Sire. Do you wish to retire?” They will be home soon. Back inside the walls of warmth and comfort. Back in Alasdair’s care but will soon start a trial for their relative. This will be a difficult situation but the Knave is confident that Lord Alasdair will be there for his younger brother, supporting him till the end.
The next day they arrive in the port of Britain that noon. The letter which Alfred sent to his younger brother reached them and as requested, carriages waited for their arrival. Mark and Alphonse prefer riding their beloved steed which leave Alfred and Arthur take the carriage for protection. They march towards the tall wall of Great Britain, they can here trumpets calling for everyone’s attention, an announcement that the King arrive from his long journey of seeking answers. This will be written in one of Arthur’s accomplishment as a king. Least he did something for the good of his country, unlike other Kingdoms where their Kings are nothing but decoration, fat louts who does nothing but eat and take all what his people have. “Welcome home, baby brother.” Alasdair welcome them with open arms, hugging his brother with a light squeeze. He was worried. Frightened when he found out that Arthur had gone missing and even went for a search until a massive reached him, informing the Lord that Arthur is in the Knave’s capable hands. Speaking of the Knave, Alasdair shoot him a deathly glare as soon as he step out from the carriage. “The nerve.. Haven’t I told ye to protect the King? Yet ye did the opposite.. Ye shall be given punishment for yer actions, Guardian. I hate to do this but ye nearly put the Empire’s future to an end. Alas.. We shall have this settled after taking care of our current-“
"You haven’t changed. Still a stick in the buttocks kind of a man, Alis." That voice. Alasdair wheel about by his heel to gaze at the man on the horse. His own green eyes meet the other, lock for a moment as if scanning each other’s feature and then finally, a heavy sigh slip out from Alasdair’s lips.
"I prefer Mark, thank you." Said man climb off his horse effortlessly then as he approach the Lord of Britain, Mark ruffle Alfred’s hair then wink at him with a crooked grin. A sign that he will take things from here, and that he will saving the Knave’s butt yet again. "Been awhile. I heard that your empire needs help and so I joined their crusade in searching the culprit." they know each other?
"Why would the King of Ireland put a foot with this matter? We can take care of our problems-"
"Cannot. It is because of my resources and men, we found the informant and the King’s life is never in grave danger in the first place. My army took control of the place during our search and Alfred here remain in Arthur’s side. We lost men in battle, we lost friends, Lord Alasdair but instead of running back to help them, Alfred flee with his Highness."
"It is part of his duty to protect-"
"Not part of his duty, I beg to defer. If you haven’t noticed he left the Britain wall without your soldier, Lord Alasdair. He travel with his friends, with his own comrades.. He went to search not as your guardian. He head out as an individual.. Yet you think he should be punished? Don’t you think losing his close friends is enough consequences to carry?" Alfred hang his head. It’s starting to sink in now. The burden of losing his comrades during battle and there’s nothing he can do.
"The King is well." Mark added. Standing there proudly like a proper king he was. "He chose what is right for his kingdom." He glance at Arthur with a nod. "And that is to step out from his throne room and search for those who are needed to be punished. You should be proud of your younger brother, Lord Alasdair. He have grown just like you."
Alasdair remain to frown and staring at the King of Ireland as if he’s about to punch him across his face but finally he heave out a heavy sigh. “Ye haven’t changed one bit as well. Old friend.” Mark chuckle and the two embrace. Alfred and Alphonse sign in relief.
Thankfully it was not pushed upon the King to dabble in his magical aptitude. Arthur gave out a small sigh of relief in his chest, taking the pocket notebook in hand carefully, looking at the old magical inscription on the binding. Their world was changing, the ideal of magics becoming more or less a known fact. Many who had even slightest traces of royal blood in their family could inherit magical abilities. Those with thick royal blood, such as the King himself, had outstanding magical abilities and near limitless stamina for using the sort. Though, with a price. The King nodded his head slowly and placed the booklet in his breast pocket of his cloak. This was something to keep safe so that one day, the King might return it to this man. Mark, an outstanding man, already done more than his worth on this trip, and the King here still is causing such problems. Problems like… being afraid and weak. Vulnerable and fearful of this world. The King knew it’s pain now, knew of the horrible things it could offer and bring. Arthur had duties to his people. To protect them, yes, but also to stay alive. If a King expectantly falls, and that to a traitor, the Kingdom will be ruined, broken and crumbling. War, famine, sickness. Arthur wouldn’t allow such a fate to his people, but he was also scared as a man. His very life was on the line, and so was the life of someone he had become to trust fully. Trust and cherish as an important factor in his life. His hands trembled as they gripped the Knave’s slightly tattered cloak, oh how the elements of travel had worn their clothing down. Arthur’s head had lowered, sandy locks, longer than normal, the fringe covered his face from view, but it wouldn’t take a genius to know that the King’s face was probably filled with fear and worry. Warm arms embraced him, Alfred’s arms. The King was becoming weak to an abundance of things, including this. He pushed up to rest against the man’s chest to take in the fullness of the protection, whispering that he didn’t want to be separated or alone. His voice was as broken as he was feeling, wavering with the fear and trembles of his body. Fingers continued to hold onto the bit of the Knave’s cloak, holding it to his chest as he furrowed his thicker brows. The ideal of being left alone here, or taken away was frightful indeed. Sure the King could defend himself, but for how long? If it was known that the King had fallen into a trap or taken, or that the man whom was to protect the King had fallen, what would become of their Kingdom. The fear was overwhelming got the King.
The Knave was here though, Alfred. He was alive, and had changed to stay with the King instead, Mark understanding and letting him stay with the King and taking his place instead. Arthur however didn’t lift his head, he just stood there, knuckles turning white from his grip on the cloth until the Knave spoke to him, swearing his upmost protection to the crown. Perhaps though, the King, who had taken a strong leap forward to join this journey, to work, by his hand, to reclaim his Kingdom under his and only his name and to protect it… maybe he had been to headstrong. His head was lifted, gaze turned to stare up at the Knave’s blue eyes, matching the sky outside, the leading to endless limits. Alfred was always the key to a better ruling. Teaching the King what he had not known, helping him grow from his roots and stand tall as he was. The King was indeed strong, his confidence and self praise used to rival no ones. A pompous and full of himself King, broken down and scared of being how weak that he was in reality. They were merely all looking to make their marks on the world, in the history books and to leave a better future for those who follow. Have their names as the ones who built it. The King of the world, Arthur and his brave Knight, Alfred. They would be undefeated, right? Arthur let go of the man’s cloak with one hand, placing it over the Knaves on his cheek, fingers slipping between the other’s. Green eyes squeezed shut, eyebrows knitted painfully and his grip tightened as streaks of tears painted his cheeks.
To be brave in it’s wording, the King had already known things that the Knave hadn’t. The true audacity of royalty. Restraints and chains. The face painted faces and the ideal that they are all strong as Gods. Strong hearts, some made of ice or seen as so, like the King here. Melted and shattered by fear. The King shuddered a breath in through his nose, letting go of Alfred finally to rub the sleeve of his tunic across his eyes and cheeks. “Aye..” He whispered, reaching out to take the Knave’s hand once more as they left with the King’s bow and quiver to take for archery lessons in the slightly wooded area. There, they practices long and hard, even opting to freshen the King’s defense skills with the sword. By midday they were back with everyone, the King wrapping wet cold cloths around his hands to prevent stinging from holding the arrows between his fingers and the bow. By now his colour had returned to a more natural color for him. Slightly rosy cheeks, smudged with dirt from holding his hand to his cheek, a small cut on his cheek from where the feathers had brushed against him. He was sipping his tea when they received the news. “Aunt Rosa…” The King muttered, setting his tea cup down. Arthur was silent for a while, staring at his cuppa. “Knave.. send a massive to Alasdair. Tell him that the lullabies speak truths.” He stood up from the seat by the fire and walked over to the window, bringing Alfie up to his shoulder. “He’ll know what it means. As you know, we currently have the young miss, Lady Alice residing in our castle walls. She bares no threat.. however, her stay will be… extended.”
This should have been a huge surprise, but more than surprised, the King seemed hurt. A woman he sought out like a mother when his own passed. His father confided in his sister for much about the Kingdom, perhaps she was displeased. Ever since the late King, rest his soul, placed heir upon Arthur’s young shoulders, Rosa was always there, though many maidens inside the walls murmured that the lady had been discontent with the decision, though most left it to the motherly instinct. That Lady Rosa had been upset that Arthur was far too young for a responsibility of such magnitude.
She was jealous. Believing that she would have the crown passed to her when her brother passed away, instead it was placed upon Arthur’s small head. A head so small that the crown hadn’t even fit correctly and they had to make another, smaller, for a child. She had been controlling things form those whom had been loyal on the inside, giving Arthur the false sense of being in control, when he really was… just a little bird locked in a cage until a deceitful little thief came and broke the lock.
Alfred did what the King request. He send the exact message with his faithful companion, an eagle. The letter will reach the Castle tomorrow or late evening. “Feels like a mutiny in a bloody ship. Don’t you agree, Alfred?” Mark said after downing his drink as Alphonse enjoy his warm meal. He just got back from his rounds to see if there are any signs of Antonio, thankfully he found none but there are rumors that the Spaniard is waiting in the forestland, knowing that Alfred and his men will head back to their Castle eventually. “There’s more dreadful news..” Mark mutter to himself but loud enough for his mate to hear. The man stare down at his drink, sporting the unique texture of his rum by tilting the glass to the side. “Our Lady Rosa didn’t work alone. A mare lady cannot gather rogues after all, not even with a prize of gold. She’s working with someone who is with high status and wealthy enough to convince thieves and murderers to put their lives at risk.. Alfred, do you remember that General back in Lady Rosa’s castle?” Mark knew? Of course. He always slip into parties without invitation, pretending to be a Lord just to have fun and a few drinks and food. Though taking precaution is necessary or he will be facing the wrath of his beloved wife. “Lady Rosa is having an affair with the General. They’re planning to over throw the current King and then she will be taking the throne. The General will be her King of course.. It seems her love for the Lord ran out, truly this kind of marriage end badly all the time. This is why, Sire. You shouldn’t fall in love easily and never let anyone tell you who to wed. It’s your life, you make the decisions, not them.” Alfred smile in agreement. “This is a shock for you. Your Aunt, the Lady and the General, together? It’s nothing but your normal day in Castle. The cheating, affairs and forbidden love. I assure you, once you grow older.. You will learn how to shrug these problems off your shoulder and let them face judgement without guilt. They know the consequences but despite all that, they still go against the law. Since they’re so willing to make mistakes, they should expect death and no forgiveness. Harsh but that is life, Sire. For your people.. You must close your heart when needed and open it to those are honest and loyal to you.”
"These justice talk makes me tired." Alfred joked to lighten the mood. "Be at ease, Mark. Our King knows what is right and wrong.. He had his share of experience and I know for one he will use it in the future to become a better King." He glance at his King with a small smile, assuring Arthur that they can get through this. "I trust Lord Alasdair will make a quick action in capturing our Lady and her partner… With that clear.. I believe it’s time to focus to our next problem."
"Antonio." Alphonse said before picking up his bowl to sip the soup. "Yes.. Antonio." Alphonse lift a hand to order some more, he really is starving. Mark and Alfred aren’t surprised though. This happen a lot during their travels and the best way to keep your mind off from questions like ‘where he put those food’ and ‘how many servings did he finish’, is by focusing in your goals. "What do you propose, Alfred?" Mark continue, his hand holding his goblet of wine to warm his belly. "If we face Antonio, I am sure that he will come prepared. With men, weapons and a plan on how to slaughter us nicely. Battle will expand our time of travel- before we could reach Britain, Alasdair will be dancing victoriously like a bloody peacock." Alphonse chuckled then shook his head. They talk as if they hold no fear and it gives you the thought that those two will stand in front of Alasdair and blurt out words that will offend him severely. "We can’t let him take our glory now, can we? We need to get our reward." Rascals. Always the thieves who require money for their service. Alfred smile as he brought up his share of rum, feeling blessed to have crazy friends like them.
"You have a point.. What day is it?"
"July of 5th… Ah, we missed your birthday."
"Not that it bothers me. 5th, I believe a fishing ship stops here. We will take that ship to travel back to Britain. I don’t think the sailors would mind as long we pay them well for their service. That way we can avoid that Spaniard and save from losing the lives of our men.. We only have few left."
"I second that." Alphonse pipe up finally after finish his meal, wiping his lips and emptied his goblet. He’s full and ready to face the world. "Are we goin’ or not?"
It takes a long negotiation before the Captain of the ship to agree with their offer. It’s not easy to leave their fishing job just to send these group of men to Britain but with the gold they’re willing to pay is enough to cover all the crew’s earnings and with extra. Horses are kept below the deck to protect them from the cold or falling off the deck, some of the thieves settle in the back to catch some rest while others are enjoying the sight. Ship move fast with the strong wind, cutting the waves with ease. Not too far from them they can see the forestland they explore for days - it will only be one day for them with this ship. They could have traveled using boats in the first place but alas, they’re tracking down people and hoping that they’ll run into the group to capture them. “First time riding the ship, Sire?” Alfred stand next to his King, passing him a cup of tea to keep him warm and a blanket over the King’s shoulder. “We’ll reach the Empire soon.. With Lady Rosa waiting for your judgement I assume.. Will you be alright?” This must be difficult. Arthur hold his relatives dearly but to find out that a member of his family betrayed him- surely it leave a huge scar.
Thankfully they weren’t followed by anyone. The King kept a close eye for the longest of time, before he grew tired, weary from their lack of rest and sudden trips all over. He pulled himself back, legs curling around Alfred’s waist and arms drooping as he rested his head against the Knave’s chest. They weren’t stopping for a while now, it would be too risky to do so after all. Small things pestered his mind though, he should have let the Knave sleep longer, true, however if he hadn’t accidentally shoved the man out of the bed, thus waking him, they would have been still asleep at the attack. Caught off guard. Knave most likely murdered or with more blood on his hands. The King yawned lightly and nestled his head at the slight concave of Alfred’s chest, listening to his sustained breathing, gentle and steady heart beat. His Knight, guardian. The one to protect him from all these things, and yet the King seemed to be leading them right into the face of death. Arthur felt the Knave pull his cloak around the both of them, covering the King completely and keeping him warm as well as safe. He heard the murmured words of protection, and let his eyes close slowly. This was turning out to be far more dangerous than what everyone had anticipated- mostly due to the actions of one man, whom grew a lust for the King. If anything, the King wanted to be the one to shoot the arrow to pin that man down. To give him rightful punishment from the ruler of this Kingdom, that Arthur wasn’t some lusted after doll, but a man who could take charge and give out punishment for wrong doings. Tiring… It was exhausting to have this much growth in such a short period of time, and through shock. The King volunteered to be in this, he could have stayed back at the castle like other Kings, bordered up by stone walls and fake smiles. Instead he snuck out and set out on this expedition with the Knave, to become a stronger King who understands his people and knows his Kingdom. Arthur tucked his head lower and decided to rest some, a small nap, to ignore the numbness of his arse and legs from riding the horse.
By the time they arrived, the King was indeed asleep. He missed the greeting of Mark and the conversation, as well as being carried up to the room. It wasn’t until he was completely alone that he noticed that something was off in his slumber and brought himself to stir. There was the slight noises of water splashing in the secondary room, the crickets outside, the gentle chatter of their crew downstairs in the pub, and the light cry of a animal outside the window. Arthur blinked hard at the dull lightening of the room and shifted on the bed, moving to sit up as he looked around and tried to mat down his hair. “Alfie..” Nothing. His heart sank. “Alfie?” There, a small peep from the window. The bird was sitting on the windowsill looking out side, he must have flown over there. Now that was settled, the King sighed and recalled the events from today. Terrible events they were. It caused the King to shudder in this lonely room and hitch his heel up on the mattress, hugging his knee. That was when the secondary room’s door opened, steam being let in as the Knave stepped out. Still damp form the shower, but skin slightly red and pink from the water and being clean. He looked a bit better, but the King could tell by now, he was holding strong as his place as the King’s guard. Arthur stared at him, then looked away. They must have been safe now if the Knave was relaxing and telling the King to bathe. He slipped off from the bed, as the Knave sat down and went to bathe. Bathing away the worries and the pain. Once clean, belly full and warm, the King and Knave laid down for the night, Arthur instantly gripping the Knave’s longer golden locks and burying his face close. They were safe, for right now.
Turning into the normal morning routine. The King settled next to the Knave with his plate, eyes glued at the table to keep form peering upon the lewd acts in the tavern. He knew what was happening around them and now instead of gawking, he found it much easier to focus on the grain flow of the wooden table. Just because he was used to seeing, doesn’t mean as a King and a righteous man, that he was accepting of such lewd actions. The King pushed about the food, only eating the fresh fruit given until the Knave caught him and told him to eat it all. Arthur gave a snort and stabbed at a bit of scrambled egg with his fork and shoved it in his mouth then moved onto his pancakes. Telling him what to do, feh! He was just going to ignore the conversation from there on out, but the mention of him brought the King to raise his head to the Knave. His magic. The King’s face paled completely and he looked like he was going to get sick. His fork fell from his hand and clattered on the plate as he stared at Alfred. His magic, they wanted the King to use it?! Impossible. Soon though, they were talking about other things, but the King cleared his throat and set his empty plate away.
“Sir Mark.. you should listen to as thy wife has said.” What? They looked upon the King in confusion as he daintily dabbed his mouth clean then folded his hands in his his lap, eyes down cast. “It is forbidden for us to use magic outside the castle walls, or at all for that matter. Written in tradition, and in our laws. We have trained and dabbled in it since thy’s announcement of being the heir.” He explained in a low tone, so that others wouldn’t catch onto their conversation. His face though was still pale. “We are sorry but perhaps focusing on archery should be the correct and wise path.” This was the reasoning why he never even told the Knave anything about his magic powers though, if the Knave were to find out the real extent of his power, then it would surely be asked upon him to use them. Something Arthur absolutely could not do under any circumstances.
They sat in silence for a moment then the Knave went to stand up, probably all getting ready for their newest trip to get information. The King was to go with Mark and train, and the Knave, to ready. However today, the King was feeling strange, as the Knave stood up, he reached out and grabbed onto the man’s cloak, fingers gripping the fabric and unletting of the Knave to leave his side. Head still lowered, the King muttered softly three words. “Don’t leave me.” The cloak tugged, and the King’s grip tightened around it. “Please…” He whispered, shoulders trembling just a bit, fearful of being alone, being far away from the Knave. If they were to be attacked again, and they were separate, who was to say that the Knave wouldn’t die, or the King to be captured? No, he wasn’t letting go.
The plan of having the king learn more about magic would help them greatly and also would serve the king well in protecting himself. The two friends talk about their plans, mentioning about a certain man who knows many secrets in the underground but to get him they need to send a few men for it will be dangerous to go alone. Alfred volunteered of course, he will see the man for information, take their suspect then head back for a quick interrogation. They need this to find their culprit as soon as possible then head back to the Kingdom to execute this traitor before the Empire fall in their hands. The King spoke soon after that, asking they if they could just focus with his bow lessons instead of involving his magic. Long time ago using magic is forbidden in the lands, most are called witches and warlocks, an abomination in this world. They believed that only God can have such power, not humans like us and those who stand on the same ground as God, they will execute them- burn them down. It was one of Britain’s darkest days… Such practice is being done in present and that’s the reason why for the sake of his wife, Mark cease his use of his magic. The older man observe the King’s face as he listen to his reasons then Mark direct his eyes at Alfred as if waiting for his answer. The Knave nod, they cannot force the King if he’s uncomfortable with it. “Alright, Sire.. But if you’re stuck in a very dire situation, do not hesitate to use your magic. People may call it curse but if you use it to save your life or your friends, it is a blessing.” Mark shove a hand inside his coat pocket, retrieving a pocket book with black covering. Alfred know what it was and that’s why he gave Mark a disappointed look. “I keep it for emergency reasons!” Said the older man, Alfred rolled his eyes then shook his head in disbelief. Loyal my arse. He’s been carrying a magic book all this time. “Read and learn by your own. I am not asking you to use it right away, like I said.. For emergencies. There are white magic such as healing, having light in the dark, warmth when it’s cold, breathing underwater and unlocking locks. Simple but can be tricky.. In the back page are destructive magic that can turn water into flames or summon vile creatures to kill for you.. Again, this is a blessing if used in good. A cruse if it’s for greed. Take good care of it, keep it close.” He place the small pocket book in the King’s hand then Mark and Alfred stand to start their day. “We should continue our archery practice then. Alfred, I trust you in having your mission done successfully.”
"You know I would. I will be taking Alphonse with me, he and I are enough to take any army. Keep the King safe while I’m gone. I will be back before you know it." Said the Knave confidently then after bowing before his King, the Knave left- about to- when the King suddenly grab the Knave’s cape. Both Alfred and Mark freeze in place then together they turn around to look at the King. There’s a great worry in Arthur’s feature and his words came out raspy as if he’s about to break down. He wants the Knave to stay.. Because of what happened yesterday the King cannot risk of losing his Knight, he’s the only wall he have right now to separate him from harm. He’s no longer inside the castle, no longer save within the walls of his Empire.. The King is now out in the open, bare and vulnerable that anytime soon someone would jump right in front of them then stab the King to his end. If the Knave leaves, such fear swim about in the King’s head like a nightmare in his real world. Something he cannot escape, unlike in dreams you can wake up once it’s over. Alfred took a few step to stand closer then wrap his arms around the King’s small frame. He can feel his small trembling, can feel the coldness of his skin due to his panic and worry and most of all, hear his small pleas to stay and not go somewhere where he cannot reach him. Blue eyes meet Mark’s own, Alfred give him an apologetic smile then a small nod and his best friend understood what he meant. Mark will be taking his place in this mission, leaving the Knave behind to tend his King. "It’s better this way since I know the informant personally." Mark said with a smirk. "Now you two continue with your lovey-dovey and leave the hard labor to us." Alfred rolled his eyes. He’s just doing his job here! There’s nothing attached or something special. Now that Mark is gone, Alfred put his attention at the worried King. He needs to keep Arthur’s mind away from his wild imagination or it will surely do great toll on him. The yesterday’s event would traumatize anyone but Arthur- he’s been trying to fight it off.
"I’m not going anywhere. I promised that I will protect you with my life, remember? You chose to follow me, Sire.. By your own will and even sneak out from the castle to join me. Doing so shows that you have something strong inside you. A reckless King but one of the bravest." He cup the King’s chin to lift his head. "You have to put more faith in me, Sire and more faith in yourself. All these training, this travel and all the experience we went through will be nothing if you keep on worrying. Be confident. Be tough. You’re the King of the Great Britain, you should be proud of that and in this world, Sire.. I know this is difficult but each and everyone are headed to one goal, dying. We will all die one day.. I would die one day.. But before that happens we have to do something that will mark in our name, in our grave, in books and in minds of people. That’s why I assure you I won’t die that easily." A smile tug the corner of Alfred’s lips. "I want you to be the King of the whole World before I draw out my last breath.. Come now, we don’t have whole day. Seems like I will be the one teachin’ you how to use the bow. Fair warning though, I’m never good with it."
It was midday when Mark and Alphonse arrive with their very first suspect but what confessed is something they have difficult time to accept. All these time, the attack, the threat and attempt on killing the King is been done by a woman. Someone who is close to Arthur, someone who helped nourished him when he’s young, a person who contributed so much in their family and country. A duchess with great reputation and a wife of a great ruler.. A cousin of Arthur’s father, the late king of Britain.. Their traitor is none other than the Duchess of York, Rosa.
Lady Alice’s Mother.
The thud and groan from the fallen Knave brought the King back to his senses. This was real life, not a fantasy and his Knave, was a person. Someone named Alfred, who needed his sleep and was risking his life for the empire when they all could be nice and snug back in the castle walls. The King was not a man to apologize, never! He was never wrong and kicking the Knave out of the bed was only logical. Somehow. Even though it was Arthur’s fault, he was getting… close. In fact he could fell his heart pitter as he leaned over the edge of the bed and saw the man’s blue eyes peering up at him tiredly. The King frowned himself and pulled back, sitting up on the bed and stretching his arms out before him, nuzzling his cheek against Alfie whom had hopped onto his shoulder with a cheerful peep. Alfred’s loud yawn wasn’t the only hint towards Alfred’s exhaustion, there were dark lines under the man’s eyes, aging his young appearance. He obviously wasn’t in the best of health with his lack of sleep. This could pose a problem later on, but even the King knew that they aught to keep moving, now that Alfred was awake, to stake off any followers from the night before that might have strayed to find them. “Aye..” The King replied, they should wash up and be off soon. The King slipped out from under the covers next to the Knave, but stood up and walked away gracefully, not looking back to the exhausted blue eyed man. He needn’t worry about the man’s sleep, the King had his own problems at this point. Why did he have such a desire to do such a thing to the Knave even, kissing. Feh, such a thing, kissing with someone not of betrothed or family. Unheard of! The King gave a bittered sigh and slipped from their hidden abode, walking with his pride high to the river instructed.
The water was clear and cool looking. The King pulled his tunic over his head, laying it on a rock before slipping off his boots one after the other and setting them next to the rock and proceeded to strip fully with a towel around his waist then tip his toe into the watch, shivering at the touch. With the rustle of grass near by, Arthur looked behind him, catching the Knave joining him, watching him strip and enter the water to wash up. Green eyes diverted their attention away from him and the King fully entered the water, cleaning himself up and letting the cold shock wake him from these pestering thoughts. Though, he glanced over a bit as he tried to mat his messy hair down, watching Alfred shave carefully with a knife. A skill actually. Arthur rubbed his chin some, soft still. It took too long for him to gain stubble. Which was good since he might have a beard by now on this journey since he never touched his own skin with a blade. He had a select person do to that for him. Luckily, his baby face saved him for now. Arthur sighed and got out earlier than the Knave, carefully drying himself with his second towel, attempting once more to smooth down his hair, no such luck though for him on that front. The King dressed himself awkwardly, the Knave helping him pull on his boots fully and fasten his trousers. Alfie chirped in Arthur’s ear as the King pulled on his cloak around him, fastening it. “Hush young one, we shall gather food once we return.” He murmured to his beloved pet, petting him with the pad of his finger as he walked behind the Knave.
Up the hill and they stopped, The King stared at the Knave confusedly and walked beside him, seeing the black smoke rising and screams now reaching his ears. “…B..bloody hell.” The King murmured, staring out at the scene. The Knave murmured next to his King, but the man looked up at his protector, green eyes full of fear. Pure fear. His hand was grabbed and they were running. The King glanced back then squeezed his eyes shut, tears filling and even spilling down his cheeks. His people. His people were dying for him, for them, for this cause. Why? Because someone was jealous perhaps or was this because of the current growing tensions of his Kingdom?! What was going on? The King was lifted onto the smart steed, then felt Alfred join him and in an instant they were off. Once again riding quickly into the land. The felling of riding on a horse once again was not welcomed, but had to be so. They were silent, however the King squirmed around, twisting his body around to the bags that the horse was carrying, it looked like everyone was already packed up and ready to leave when the surprise happened. Arthur retrieved his bow and arrows, adjusting the quiver onto his back and bow hooked just under his leg to hold while they rode.
They still were in silence, and from the stiff chest of Alfred behind him caving every so often, the King knew. Who wouldn’t for fallen comrades? The King sighed a little, a sad one at that and he shifted again, hooking his bow over his shoulder, they weren’t being followed luckily it seemed. He shifted his legs turning himself completely around in the saddle, his legs over the Knave’s. An awkward position, but the King closed his green eyes, face damp from his own tears, and raised his hands between them, spreading his fingers and holding them one over the other, palms facing each other, nearly making what looked like him holding an invisible ball in between them. “Beatae memoriae…” He whispered, a faint glowing forming in between his hands. He never stated about not knowing how to do magic, only that his was unneed or unable to help his kingdom. Small magic tricks he claimed them to be. A red poppy flower ring formed in the light, to which the King reached up and placed it around the Knave’s neck then leaned closer, resting his chest and head against him, arms wrapping around the larger man for a hug. He may be seen as a cold man, but he wasn’t that cold hearted. Alfred was exhausted and now this, they would have to travel hard to escape the pursuers, take difficult paths to get away without being caught onto. Arthur reached behind him and grabbed his bow before setting back to leaning against Alfred’s chest, watching the land they traveled pass behind them.
By the time the horse would even slow his pace, the King’s eyes were shut, ragged breathing slipping from the King’s lips.
The King. He’s worried about the Knave’s well being and the only way he can show comfort is by summoning a small offering. The flowers smell fresh but what’s more surprising is that the tall man didn’t question the King about his magic. Alfred have met many warlock and witches during his days of adventure and this simple incantation is nothing compared to what he saw. Then again it bothers him why the King show this to him now.. If only he open up his skill sooner then Mark could have done something to strengthen his power and widen his knowledge about magic. Alfred have to make sure that their enemy didn’t follow them and the only way to do that is to go through a stoop terrain and disappear into the thick woods. It’s dangerous to stay here until dark because of wolves, bears and other dangerous animals. “I’ll keep you safe..” As planned they will reunite with the others in the city. Mark and the others will be there before nightfall, if things went wrong, the remaining group will search for the others before proceeding to questioning. They have to do this quick, especially now that the enemies are tracking them to drive their group away from the real answer. It’s getting cold, the horse now run slower but they can see the light of the city from the distance, a few miles away to be exact and that’s when the Knave notice the King leaning limply against him. Sleeping, probably exhausted from the event earlier. ”Where are the others?” Mark asked as soon as Alfred pull the reins to cease his steed. The horse is obviously exhausted from the running but they arrive in their location nevertheless. “Gone..” Alfred said dryly, tears no longer there but replaced with anger. “They found our hideout then attacked us early in the morning, only I and the King manage to escape.” Mark’s face can’t be painted. Those people are his close friends as well, comrades who served them for years. Their family will be devastated once the news reach them. “We shall offer drinks, food and songs to them.. May their soul be at rest.” Mark place a hand over his chest then back to his side. “And the King?” Alfred yank his cloak, revealing the King who is asleep right against his chest. The lack of sleep and the mad dash knock him out and not to mention empty stomach and parch throat. “We need food and water, warm bed and bath.. We shall discuss our next move tomorrow morn. How are the others?”
"Holding quite well actually.. Drinking in the tavern so to speak but I know it will all change once I tell them the news. Nothing we can do.. But move on and finish the job on their behalf." Mark said as the Knave hand the sleeping King to him then climb off the horse. Food and other necessities will be given, for now they should go inside the inn to get warm and comfy. Knave taking the King and carrying him close, they went inside the building and Mark lead them to their room. Shortly after that, Mark left to ask the servants for their meal and warm their baths. Alfred clean himself up fist, taking his time to wash off the dirt and warm his skin and most importantly, gather his heart so he can face the King with no sign of conflict. He will avenge his friends and comrades.. Antonio will pay for what he have done. "Sire.. Forgive me. I didn’t know you’re awake." He merge out from the bathroom, wearing trousers alone and a towel drape over his head. Semi long hair loose, clinging onto his tanned skin, dripping wet. "Bath is ready for use. The food will arrive soon.. If you’re wondering, we reach our destination now. Mark and the others are downstairs and well.." He sat on the bed next to the King, he can see worry in his green eyes. "You’re safe here.. Guards in this area have strict policy, no one dares to walk outside after curfew." They eat their meal together after the King took a long bath. Food is pleasant and warm, a soup, roasted chicken and bread. As for drink is a wine that will keep them warm through out the evening. As usual, they shared the same bed- the Knave cannot risk of putting his guard down especially after what happened in the forest. If the King falls, the Kingdom will be in turmoil, it will be over for them before they could think of a possible way to strike back.
"I sent a few men to check the abandoned house in the mountains, they found corpses, both ours and enemy but the looks of it, they’re out numbered hence the fall of our comrades." Mark explain that morning as they enjoy their breakfast. The King with them, seated next to the Knave. Glad to say that Arthur is getting used to this kind of routine, waking up early, sleeping late, eating meals while discussing something awful and not to mention- seeing people partly naked here in the tavern, flirting and kissing and sometimes doing lewd acts. Before he would gape at such display but now, it won’t even make him bat a lash of disgust or surprise. "Eat more, Sire. Including eggs, it gives you enough energy for your training later." He whisper to his King as Mark continue on with his blabbering. "Anyway.. Alfred, tell me about this magic you speak off." So they’re talking about the King earlier before he arrives to join them for the meal. Alfred leans, bread in hand. "Our king possesses magic.. But I believe it’s not yet well developed."
"Does he now?" Mark quirk up a brow, eyes glued at the King who is pigging himself with a delicious pancake with maple.
"Do you think it’s possible to teach him how to-"
"I don’t use magic anymore, Alfred.. You know that I vowed to my wife that I wouldn’t-"
"Since when did you start listening to your wife anyway?"
"Since I asked her to be my wife." Said as a matter of fact. "But alright.. His skill of bow and arrows does need polishing. Adding elements to his every shot will increase it’s power greatly.. Though we have yet to know what element he uses.. Mmmm.. The rumors are right then. Royalties possesses powers. Magic. Special abilities such as abnormal strength."
"But I’m not a royalty, so do you."
"Aye.. And that’s why we’re an outcast. Anyway, we should plan on about our next move.. We don’t have enough people now but there’s no room for mourning over it. The only way to catch our culprit is to take every step seriously and by the mean ‘serious’, no error." He’s right. They can’t risk of losing more men. Alfred lean back on his wooden chair, taking a bite on his bread. "We go underground and look for answers."
"Ah.. Asking the dirt if they know a certain dirt."
"We have golds if they want it, anything to make them sing."
"But it’s not that easy my friend. We need to know a reliable source.. And I know just a person to approach." Mark grinned confidently. "Well now, how about we start our training my lord? Then we can go fetch our lovely man for interrogation."
This ride was treacherous. At first the King wanted to lean back and relax into the Knave’s arms, taking a nap to ignore all the strange events of that day, the fact that someone had tried to sully the King then betrayed them. Arthur was mentally exhausted. However, no matter how much he desired sleep, it would never calm his mind, even if he wanted to try. Every bone and signal in his body was telling him to stay alert, which caused for a very uncomfortable ride. He sat, straight backed, fingers gripping his bow and an arrow in his other hand. Alfie, the little bird, made soft noises, the creature sensing the tension with everyone and nuzzled up to his owner, just under Arthur’s chin. The King spoke softly to the bird, murmuring that everything was going to be alright, they weren’t in danger, it was a precaution. However, he couldn’t help but to wonder silently, was he really reassuring his pet, or was it to calm his own mind? The poor King didn’t know anymore. He even remained still while Alfred’s voice sounded in his ear, soft yet a bit husky from their journey. He was right, Arthur was a well refined King, taught in the ways of his father before him. His father, he was a well respected and loved King. Under him, their Kingdom had flourished, grown to become one of the largest and most powerful. A mysterious Kingdom actually, under his father, while his mother still was alive, it was whispered that attacking Kingdoms grew weaker as they approached the boarders, and some invisible force kept them from harming their lands. Unfortunately, it was seen as a folk story by now, since it had been many of years since those rumors had flown. Strange as it would seem, Arthur knew exactly what the rumors entailed, and the reasonings behind them. He knew the real stories and understood that he too should hold that power. However, as he stood, he held no ability that he knew of. If only, if only he was able to do this! The King’s fingers gripped the bow tighter, enough that his knuckles turned white from the grip. Even now, as the Knave spoke about the King’s abilities like his father. He still wondered if having such demonic strength like the Knave whom protected him would be a better help for this.
“You say that as if it is a simple feat.” The King murmured after some time, slipping the arrow he had out back into his quiver as they began to split up the group. “It has been some time since the danger has even lowered, Knave..” He shifted uncomfortably, his rear having long gone numb from sitting, but now it was traveling down his legs and up his pelvic area. “It covers the mournful calls of our people with a musky hue…” In fact, Arthur closed his eyes at this time, finally leaning back to knock his shoulders against the Knave’s broad chest behind him with a sigh. “There are many of time… especially now, I do not know whom I can trust, and whom is out after the crown anymore.” Knowing his advisors were using him was what brought his world to a screeching halt, and a huge turn around that corner, the corner of the protective wall he had, where his people were hurt, poor, sickly and needing of their King’s hand. There was only a few whom he could trust fully, his brother, the Knave and Matthieu. The King had to straighten up his manner and march forward though, leading his people with grace and pride. Such a man with a glorious burden, shan’t fall or let his people see his weakness. As the Knave helped him step down from the horse, it was as if his legs were but jelly. The man stumbling carelessly and rubbing his back with a distasteful groan. How tiresome this league was. The King followed his guard into the shabby shack, which to much surprise of the King’s was not very shabby at all. A well refined indoors. This probably made for good cover. Shivering, the King went over to the fire as it was stoked to life and sat there, watching the dancing embers, hoping they could calm his ever wandering mind. The hinting curse on himself for following so carelessly after the Knave, that was what put them all in danger. Traveling with the King and now someone following them because of it. It only made for their journey to become difficult and burdened. He ate his supper in silence, only speaking to the Knave when the man offered his food. Green eyes flickered up to the Knave then away, head shaking, but in the end, he took the extra, chewing slowly. He was too tired for arguing, too mentally exhausted to think anymore. In fact, as soon as he finished his wine, the King stood up, bowing his head silently and turned in for the evening, tugging the thick quilts up and over his head, Alfie fluttered and slept in the small crevice of the pillow and the wall, puffing himself up contently. At least someone was sleeping though, where as the King was staring at the wall for too long, then finally he rolled over and stared at the Knave, sitting in the moonlight, keeping guard. Green eyes closed finally once more with a painful swallow, yanking the covers over his head once more and drifting to sleep.
They let the two sleep longer this morning. The Knave having taken a long guard stance for most of the night, even after the journey. He needed the rest. The King on the other hand, had tossed and turned for most of the night, a very troubling sleep. Most chalked it up to the terribly long journey they had yesterday, letting their Lord sleep off the worries. And so, by the time the King had stirred even a bit, Alfie was soaking up sun-rays in the window and everyone else was tending to their duties outside, leaving these two to their peace. Arthur’s eyes fluttered tiredly, the world focusing slowly. The world being, Alfred. His cheek was squished against his arm, lips parted to his sleeping breaths, to which his chest rose and fell softly and contently. The King felt his heart flutter a bit. Of course they had been sleeping like this for the entire time away from the castle, but for some reason, having him here, not even touching the King and just sleeping next to him was something different. Where as Antonio had attempted to make passes at the King, the Knave hadn’t done such- except in a slight joking manner. Of course their meeting was something else. That should be forgotten… Arthur pressed his fingers to Alfred’s lips lightly, they were slightly chapped from the wind. Then he pressed his fingers to his own lips, about the same, with softness where he nearly gnawed away the chapped skin. He sighed a bit, examining the man’s face some. Well defined in many ways, tanned, a little bit rough from lack of shaving. His hair had really gotten longer, the King knew that, the other night he had accidentally become attached to the long golden locks. Arthur sat up a bit, shifting his own blankets a bit to cover up the other while he slept, it wasn’t wrong- he was taking care of the King so he had to make sure that the blasted man didn’t get sick! That’s all. It’s not like he wanted to get closer. That would be just silly. I suppose I am still quite a fool, selfish for things that are already technically mine. There is no end of greed.. Of course Alfred was bound to him forever as a duty, though, it left a painful hole in the King’s chest. To the fact that Antonio had caused him to over think such terrible things.
The King held no lover. None by duty, nor by love. He had called off his own wedding and engagement, thus canceling the person whom he was supposed to hold here in his heart. But he wasn’t entirely as cold and heartless as those who make him out to be. At the end of the day, he was a man, a human. With emotions like the next person, and that bitter loneliness of being at the top of his world, but without someone to share. No one to stand at his side fully because they chose to do so. Instead, Alfred was forced in a way, then came to terms of his enrollment. Arthur’s thick eyebrows furrowed a bit and he leaned closer, feeling Alfred’s breath against his own lips.
This man broke their bond. Who why did he feel connected still? Maybe a little was still there. Something else. To save himself from these pesky thoughts that got in the way. Green eyes closed slightly as he inched closer, pressing his lips against the Knave’s, it was alright. Alfred was sleeping after all, right? Just for a moment, he could be human, like the other men, who talk about their families back home, the wives and children they fought for. The King had to fight for all of them out of duty. But for right now, maybe he’ll grow to show this one man that he was more than he seemed. More than just another royal. He squeezed his eyes shut before pulling back, biting down on his own lip and sinking into the covers to hide himself, yanking them around himself protectively and rolling over. “I am feeling unwell…” Unfortunately in his feeble attempt in rolling over to protect his small heart, he ended up snatching the covers away from the seemingly still asleep Knave, all the while his legs kicking about to gather the blankets brought a swift kick and push against the Knight and then- THUD. Arthur’s green eyes widened at the sound and painful groan. Meekly, he looked over his shoulder to the empty spot next to him and silently cursed. He hitched the blankets over his head like a small elderly and hugged them tight around his core as he sat up, looking over the edge of the bed.
This world posses mystery that could bring chaos and peace. Prime example of its unknown is the existence of Alfred and Matthieu. They have gifts that can be considered as abnormal, something frightening if people find out about this. They will treat them as monsters or perhaps banished from their land- that’s the reason why the two keep their ability in secret. Their gift or curse can serve them well, useful for their survival but in their current situation, using it will put their lives in danger. Only pure blooded Kings, Queens and offspring can hold the gift from God but sometimes, there are few selected- rare ones, are given but instead of considering them as blessings or born leaders- they are automatically put in the bad omen or soon will cause chaos. The Knave is hopeful that one day the King will find his own ability and use it for the greater good. To save his people and protect his land until the world is back to its peaceful state. Though danger and enemies will be lurking within the shadows but no longer will move away after discovering that the new King of Britain holds the stronger power. If not.. Then the Knave will take a step forward to do the job instead. The King needs strong allies, strong soldiers and strong people. The only way to achieve that is to have an example, a model who will give everyone strong confidence and moral. Arthur will support them all mentally, Alfred will give them physical strength and Matthieu, he will heal the heart. What about Alasdair? No need for that man to have ability- he’s already keen when it comes to tactics, his smarts and unpredictable moves will bring them all to victory.
Everyone sleep peacefully that night. While Alfred is keeping watch there’s a letter arrive with Matthieu’s white owl. Huge fella at that who can fly so high that hunters cannot reach him, though Alfred’s eagle travels fast but he’s vulnerable to arrows or traps. He unfold the small letter after giving the owl a little treat to eat, a small token for his hard work. The creature waited, standing next to the Knave as Alfred read, as if he knew that the man will make a quick response later.
'Alfred, I hope you're doing well. Alasdair tighten the security here and increases the numbers of soldiers. Training more to be sent to Alice's Kingdom to give her family the protection they need as well. It's been peaceful here so far but I don't like it.. I can feel danger in the air and the weight of it. Please respond as soon as you receive the message and sent another if you have reach your destination. Take care, Alfred and send my regards to his Highness. -Matthieu.'
They need to hurry then. They must acquire all the information about the sudden attack and find the real culprit behind this. What if Mark is right about this whole madness that a high official within the Kingdom is behind all of this but they already get rid of the traitors! Unless.. There’s one more who keep their mouth shut then waited for the time to strike when their guards are down or maybe.. It’s someone from Alice’s Kingdom? “Bleh- The more I think about it, the more confused I get. Come on Alfred.. Think, try to remember if you saw something abnormal during that gathering.” Sadly there’s none. He’s too exhausted to search his head and so he give up for now. Alfred made a quick message using a ink quill he always carry and a small piece of paper to write on. The message is all about the King’s improvement and his determination and about his well being. They will arrive in their destination tomorrow afternoon, from there they will make a thorough search for information.
The Knave sleeps peacefully next to his King. It’s either because of the comfort or out of exhaustion but he’s dreaming during that time though and it’s about the King who he willingly protect with his life. Instead of having one of those busy days and fending off bad guys, he’s dreaming about romance- strange. The king kissed him, soft and slightly chapped lips pressed to his own and then it was gone. The Knave reach out for the King in his dream, to have another but suddenly he was pulled away from a sudden force, as if he’s being dragged into the oblivion- no, he’s falling and fast- THUD. “Ow.. Ngh..” Poor Knave rub his aching butt. “What did I do to deserve that, Sire?!” Some greeting. How rude of him kicking the poor sleeping man off the bed after his long night shift of watching. With a sigh, he push himself to sit on the side of the bed, stretching his aching muscles then yawned loudly. He’s still exhausted beyond belief but they will arrive to their location soon, just a little bit more then he can get enough rest. “Wash up, there’s a river nearby then we’ll eat breakfast. We have to reach the city as soon as possible to regroup with Mark and the others.” Bloodshot eyes, dark shadow underneath- he’s not in his top shape but he’s doing his best.
Alfred joins the King in cleaning up, he remove his shirt and trousers then walk into the middle of running water to wash off the dirt and let the cold water wake him up fully. He wash his face, his hair, his body and even use a small blade to shave. He keep his hair long though, he took a liking of it- more like decided to keep after the King took a fancy of touching it until he fell asleep. All clean and fully clothed, the two went back to the camp but they spot something that brought Alfred’s heart to clench painfully. A smoke, black and thick as if something is burning. “They caught up..” Screams and cries- coming from Alfred’s comrades and others from the enemies. He wanted to run towards them and help but the King’s life is his top priority. “We’ll have our revenge soon. They’ll pay for this, I promise.” He mutter under his breath and then grab the King’s hand then run towards the opposite. Alfred found his horse, it escape before the surprise attack occur. He quickly lift the King to mount the steed then he follows. They ride fast, away from the danger, away from Alfred’s friends and through out that journey, the Knave says no words. The King, even though he didn’t turn to gaze at the Knave’s face- he knew, he was crying.
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.