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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17. 15

 

 

 

 

15

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An hour later we were sitting at a small, square table pushed up against a thick wooden pillar, just off the centre of the modestly sized tavern. I glanced around myself, taking in the interior of the rowdy place again. The walls were stone and covered in hastily hung paintings that, really, looked like they’d been done by a five year old and deer antlers mounted on plaques. The bar area ran down the length of one of those walls, and a mezzanine went across each wall. Almost every table was occupied by burly men, as was the stools at the bar, and scantily dressed women baring too much chest and wearing too much rogue were splayed across many of the men’s laps.

    Not the most . . . glamorous place I’d ever been to.

    I turned in my seat to face Cyrus, who was resting his head on one of his hands and had his other arm stretched across the table—he was still tired—before dropping my head onto the table.

    “What’s the matter?” he asked, and took to stroking my hair

    I turned my head to the side and looked up to see him smiling down at me. “This noise is giving me a headache,” I mumbled, and it was the truth. I was used to noise, but it was mostly court noise I was used to—the music of parties in the dance hall, the chatter during evening meals in the Great Hall, the swish of hefty skirts twirling in time to music—not the rambunctious, rowdy atmosphere of a crowded tavern which, really, smelled of gone-off perfume and sweat.

    It was unpleasant. But I’d said I’d been hungry, and the meals here, it turned out, had been cheap. We’d already eaten, but Robert had insisted on having one more round of drinks before we set back off into the cold.

    I looked up, Cyrus’s hand dropping from my hair to stroke the scars on the back of my left hand soothingly with his thumb, and glanced over at the bar where Robert was standing. There were three tankards beside him, but he was making no sign of coming over—instead he was talking to a man in a black cloak, whose hood was pulled down to reveal a shock of blonde hair.

    “A friend of Robert’s?” I asked, pointing to the blonde man.

    Cyrus glanced at me for a second before following the direction of my pointing, his brow furrowing together. “I have no idea. Probably just some random man he’s started talking to whilst waiting for drinks.”

    I was about to reply but my attention was caught by a loud man sat at a long table a few feet away. He was surrounded by ten other men, with six of them having women sprawled on their laps. “I tell you, if I came across that bloody Pendragon girl I’d take her hostage and throw her to King Mordred!” he said loudly, slamming a tankard down on the table.

    My back straightened with a jolt and I felt my whole body stiffen. King Mordred. King? Usurper.

    “Really? That seems a little harsh,” one of his friends murmured.

    “I care not for that bloody family. If I found the Pendragon girl and brought her to Mordred . . . well, let’s just say I wouldn’t have to smuggle anymore. I’d probably be made a Lord.”

    “She is a Princess, Markus. The lost princess.”

    “She has no claim to the throne. Her dumb father is dead, her stupid brother is likely dead as well. She’s just a girl with a high price on her head,” Markus retorted.

    I knew there was anger bubbling up inside of me before I could even feel it, but a few seconds later rage was coursing hot through my veins. Before I realised it I was reaching down under the table for my dagger. Cyrus must have heard, must have noticed, for just before I grabbed the hilt of my dagger he wound his fingers around my wrist, gently but firmly enough to stop the movement of my arm.

    “You can’t,” he whispered. “Don’t attract attention to yourself.”

    “One more word, Cyrus, one more insult and I will slit that man’s throat,” I warned, eyes narrowed. I knew how I looked, I knew the anger made me look feral—Cyrus taking his hand away and leaning away was enough to tell me that.

    “I’ve heard that Ygraine Pendragon killed four or five guards within a minute whilst escaping Camelot. Within a minute. And they were twice her size,” one of the other men at the table murmured. “Could you imagine if she was here and heard you saying what you’re saying?”

    The man named Markus laughed, a loud and obnoxious laugh. I was ready to strike, the fury coiling in the pit of my stomach. “Then I’d tell her how stupid her father was, how he deserved to die. Kind Kings never last too long, the only reason he stayed on the throne was because of his army. I’d tell her how Mordred is the true king, a rightful King—Arthur Pendragon thought kindness means loyalty, but it’s fear. Arthur Pendragon was too stupid to see that, whilst King Mordred is wise enough to see it.”

    That’s it.

    Within a matter of seconds, quicker than I’d ever moved before, I’d lunged across the room to Markus’s table and spun his chair around, my dagger held to his throat. “If you persist in your filthy comments, you common bastard, I’ll slit your throat before you can draw your own sword,” I murmured, pure venom in my voice. I was aware that the room had fallen completely silent, but I didn’t care. Let them think what they want.

    Markus just stared at me before a smile split his face, revealing yellow teeth. “And just who might you be to think you can go threatening me? Do you know who I am, you stupid girl?”

    I pressed the blade of my dagger further to his skin, not quite enough to draw blood. “Do you know who I am?”

    “A little whore with a pretty face.”

    I snarled. I didn’t say anything however, because a hand of my upper arm pulled back my hand that held the dagger. My head snapped around and I didn’t mean to growl at Cyrus, who stood a few inches away with me with pleading eyes.

    “You should get your bloody whore under control,” Markus spat, staring at Cyrus.

    Cyrus’s eyes didn’t leave me face as he said, “She’s not my whore.”

    “Your wife then.”

    “She’s not my wife.”

    “Then—” He was cut off by Cyrus lifting a hand to his face and closing his fingers like they were a beak, cutting off Markus’s voice. I swallowed back a laugh at the sight of the man opening his mouth to have no words come out.

    “Warlock,” one of his friends breathed, chair scraping back as he pushed himself to his feet, brandishing a dagger in each hand.

    “Oh, my goodness—it seems that I am. Thank you for telling me, I’d spent my life thinking I was a mermaid,” Cyrus said, so seriously and without any trace of humour that if was enough to make even me flinch, before flicking his wrist so that the daggers that man held flared red, causing the man to drop them before they seriously burnt him.

    I leaned back down to Markus, scrunching a hand into his hair to pull his head back so he had to look at me. “Why don’t you tell me how stupid my father was? Why don’t you tell me how my bastard cousin is the true king of Camelot? Tell me how my father was stupid—go on, enlighten me.”

    His eyes went wide and his face slack. A cold smile split my face and I whirled away from Markus to stand in the centre of the room, because I knew everyone had heard what I’d said. All around me were gawking, astounded faces, and when I glanced at Robert and his wide eyes I winked. I pulled up my right sleeve enough to expose my Mark, letting everyone see it. 

    “I am Ygraine of House Pendragon, daughter of the late King Arthur Pendragon—the true king of Camelot, the Once and Future King. And I will not hear slander upon my father’s name, from anyone. If you dare to speak bad of my father, you will be introduced to my Warlock friend here, or my trusty dagger and sword. So, does anyone have anything insulting to say, any slurs on my family?”

    Everyone in the room just stared, completely silent. I smiled, pleased that I was able to bring a rowdy room of men to a complete standstill and make them speechless.

    “Good,” I amended, carefully and slowly putting away my dagger. “I didn’t want to kill anyone today, anyway. And if any of you are even thinking of trying to sneak-attack me and take me to Mordred, I’ll tell you one thing—whatever price of gold he is offering for my . . . return, he will not give it to you, the only thing he will give is front-row seats at your own butchering, because King’s like him don’t give up their gold to anyone or for anything unless it’s waging wars.”

    When they just carried on staring, I motioned for Robert with my hand and headed for the door, about to leave when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young man in messenger clothes and swirled around to face him.

    “You,” I said, pointing as I headed to his table, stopping in front of it. The young man gulped. “Find a raven, dear messenger, and have it send a message to Camelot, to my cousin. Send a message to tell him this: ‘I, Ygraine Pendragon, am coming with an army—and when I arrive, I will take your head’.”

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A/N: Well . . . some badassary from Ygraine, there, don't you think?

Just to warn you, my darlings, next chapter is mostly angst. And a lot of shouting. And violence.

 

Now, I'm curious. I'm curious as to if you have some ships within this story. Come on, tell me!

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