Her Highness

Once, the Five Kingdoms of Albion had been at peace, but that peace had started to shatter when the Court of Camelot was broken by the treachery and evil of one Knight, Mordred, and his greed for power.
Now, it’s been almost ten years since Mordred slew Arthur Pendragon at Camlann, ten years since Ygraine and Duran fled Camelot in search of safety. It’s been six years since Mordred found and captured them.
But Ygraine Pendragon is bordering on twenty years old, and she is through with the whole of Albion thinking her and her brother are dead. She is the daughter of the great King Arthur, and she is done with allowing her cousin to sit on the Throne of Camelot, the throne which he usurped.
When bonds are broken, betrayal occurs, hard decisions are made, and lives are lost, who will lose and who will conquer? How will the Princess, a lost heir to Camelot, fair when this become more than just an effort to rid the Kingdoms of Mordred, and instead become a war between light and dark?

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15. 13

 

 

 

 

13

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I woke to an empty space beside me and an almost empty house. I sat up slowly, blinking the last remnants of sleep out of my eyes, are stared at my surroundings. All clutter was packed up, seemingly hidden in boxes that I couldn’t see; the tables completely clear . . . it not only looked, but also felt, empty and hollow.

    Cyrus was sat on the centre table, idly swaying his hands so that gold embers from his fingertips caressed the air in a random pattern. He looked up when I swung my legs over the side of my bed, stood up and stretched.

    “Good morning,” he said.

    “What time is it?”

    “About eight—I thought I’d let you sleep a little longer,” he replied and retrieved something from his side, throwing at me. When I caught it I realised it was an apple, red as blood, and with a quick smile of thanks to Cyrus I took a bite out of it, savouring the sweetness. “Robert is meeting us here in ten minutes,” he added and jumped off of the table.

    “Why is the house almost all empty?” I murmured around the hand I had over my mouth as I munched and swallowed.

    “I packed everything up.”

    “What? Do you want to kill my horse?”

    He waved his hands in the air for a second. “I packed everything into boxes and shrunk them down to the size of a wee sugarcube, as light as a sugarcube. I’m not going to kill your horse with my possessions.”

    I nodded and took another bite out of my apple. “Where are my possessions?”

    He gestured to the headboard of my bed. I turned and saw that my satchel was hanging by the strap on the right post. “I seem to own so little compared to you.”

    “Ygraine,” he murmured. I turned back around to see that he had taken steps closer to me; he now stood a couple of feet away with a soft, a concerned expression in his eyes and face. “Are you alright?”

    “Yes. Why wouldn’t I be?”

    “Last night . . .” he trailed off, obviously not knowing what to say.

    I smiled sadly and made up the distance, placing a hand on his chest. I looked up at him. “Did I scare you?”

    He nodded. “You woke up screaming . . . of course it scared me.”

    “I have experienced them before,” I said and took my hand away. “One more is nothing.” I, of course, was lying—the dreams terrified me but I’d long since learnt how to show no terror.

    “Ygraine.” I knew he was about to say something more, but was stopped from doing so by the door flying open.

    We sprung apart in an instant and turned our heads to stare at the figure in the doorway. It was Robert, attired in standard winter clothing.

    There was a smirk on his face as he looked at us from his place leaning against the doorframe. “Am I interrupting something here?” he asked and cocked his head to the side. “Maybe I should come back later, once you two, um . . . finish doing whatever you were going to do.”

    Cyrus cleared his throat and took another step backwards. “We were going to do nothing.”

    “Well, in that case, maybe we should get going.”

    I glanced around the room and, upon seeing that the divider had been packed away (I had no idea how, that thing was tall!), bit the inside of my cheek. “Will you two do me the decency of waiting outside while I get dressed?”

    “Oh, I thought you were just going to wear that,” Robert said. “The a-little-bit-see-through dress looks good on you.”

    I scowled at him. “Say anything like that to me again, Robert, and there will be consequences.”

    “Ygraine is the Princess of Camelot,” Cyrus said to Robert, a disapproving expression on his face. “She’s not some common girl you can woo and have your way with, so have respect for her because . . . well, if you don’t, she’s perfectly capable of hurting you in some way herself.”

    I grinned at Robert, who was glowering after being put in his place. “Now,” I said and made an ushering motion with my hands. “You two, out!”

    Cyrus laughed with a nod and walked over to Robert, pushing him out of the door and then closing it once he’d also left.

    I ran my hands through my hair to loosely comb it but, realising there wasn’t much I could do with it, walked to my satchel and spread the contents over my bed. Out poured three clean dresses but I wasn’t going to wear them, the clothes I was going to wear, my bag of coins, other items and then, finally, the thing I was after—the gold ponytail holder with a knot pattern engraved into it, the one I’d found in the satchel a couple of days ago.

    I gathered all my hair, placed it over my right shoulder and clasped the holder around all of it. That done I got dressed, in a pair of flattering black trousers, because riding a horse was easier in trousers than in a dress, a beige tunic I’d stolen from Cyrus and altered to fit my frame perfectly, shrugged on a sleeveless vest jacket, of the same colour as the tunic, that laced at the front over the top and tied it, then pulled my boots on each foot.

    My dagger I slotted down into its usual place, but I’d bought a double wrap leather belt for my sword which I’d just clasped around my waist, so my longer weapon slotted back in there.

    I gathered everything back, albeit not at all neatly, into my satchel and slung it over my shoulders, put on my cloak and then headed outside.

    The cold hit me immediately, even with my layers on, so I pulled out my gloves and slid them on over my hands. The temperature had dropped dramatically over the last few days. I longed for hot baths in the comfort of Lothian, roaring large fires, blankets upon blankets to snuggle into and recline in a deep cushioned chair, an enormous bed with layers upon layers of covers and a thick canopy.

    I stopped those thoughts in their place, feeling homesick. Camelot had all of that and more, but I hadn’t had the luxury of it in six years.

    There was neither Cyrus nor Robert in the immediate area, but I could hear voices nearby so I turned and headed towards the stable.

    I found them standing outside the stable, Cyrus leaning against the frame whilst Robert leant against a grey horse with a black mane and black tail. They brought themselves out of their conversation to glance at me, only to do a double take as I glided past them to my horse.

    “What are you wearing?” Cyrus said.

    I glanced over my shoulder as I adjusted the strap of the double saddle Cyrus had bought, tightening it so it wouldn’t fall up but neither would it hurt Aeron. “I’m wearing trousers and a short tunic. Have you never seen a woman wear this outfit before?”

    “No,” they both said at the same time.

    “Well, it’s not that big of a thing,” I murmured and placed my foot in the stirrup, swinging up and sitting in the front seat. “It’s easier to ride in a pair of trousers.”

    “It’s just . . . weird. I mean . . . I don’t know.”

    I sighed and took a hold of the reins. “Are we leaving already, or are we going to stand about discussing my clothes that are just clothes?!

    “Yes, we’re leaving,” Robert said and swung himself up onto his own horse. “We’ll be taking the Narrow Passage. It’s the first of the detours, it’ll put two hours on our journey but riding through Caerleon is safer than riding straight through Mercia.”

    I smiled and nodded. “If the King of Mercia got one thought that I was riding through his bloody Kingdom he’d order his men to capture me for Mordred.”

    “Why?” Cyrus asked as he checked the bags attached to our saddle before swinging up to sit behind me.

    “Cassian Othen is neither an enemy nor an ally of the Pendragon’s, but his greed blinds what is right, so he will do what he can for money.”

    “He doesn’t sound like a very nice man.”

    “He isn’t,” I murmured. “He’s the King that will find even the smallest detail he can to start yet another war with Hadwin Bedloe, King of Anglia. Cassian is a dreadful man, no more than a rough thug with money and gold and a large castle. I’ve been to the castle, it’s a dark place and his throne is very tacky!”

    Robert barked a laugh and took a hold of his reins in one hand, brushing his hair back from his face with the other. “Perhaps we should start our journey before you start a rant about the King of Mercia.”

    I smiled and motioned for him to lead the way.

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