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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19. 17

 

 

 

 

17

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“Are you going to allow me to heal you or not?”

    “Not until you let me at least wash out your injuries.”

    “Robert, I will heal. Quicker than you!” A low thud sounded, followed by a shriek. “What’d you go and do that for?!”

    “Because you, Cyrus, are an idle and stubborn git sometimes.”

    “So you thought it fit to knock me on the head with a blunt stone?”

    “Of course.”

    There was a word screaming through my head, a name setting alight the darkness in my mind. Cyrus.

    Cyrus. Cyrus. Cyrus. Cyrus. Cyrus. Cyrus.

    I wasn’t dead. I hadn’t died. What had happened?

    I just knew one thing, I was alive and Cyrus was alive and Robert was alive. We were all alive.

    I worked to make a sound, any sound, to indicate that I was awake, but instead whispered, quite quietly and hoarsely, a name. “Cyrus.”

    Immediately I felt warm fingertips brush away my hair, soft and gentle. “I’m right here,” came the familiar voice, a murmur on the wind. “Can you open your eyes for me?”

    I did so, blinking rapidly as my eyes adjusted to the light. How long have I been asleep?

    “Cyrus,” I whispered again, reaching out with my hand.

    Fingers entwined with mine and pressed firmly but soothingly. “You’re alright, we’re all alright,” he murmured. My eyes darted to source out his face, and within a couple of seconds I did so. His hair was hanging limply and dirty against his face. He smiled down at me before bringing up my hand and placing a chaste kiss on my knuckles.

    There was a cut on his forehead that was—

    “You’re bleeding,” I muttered and, with my free hand, reached up to smear the blood.

    “It’s just a flesh wound. You watch, it’ll be gone in a few minutes.”

    “The larger ones won’t be,” Robert said. I glanced over at him. He was sat with his back to us, his boots off so his feet were in the water of the stream, and he was ringing out a cloth before applying it to his cut arm.

    Cyrus glanced back at his best friend. “I’ll be fine.”

    “You had those shackles on for far too long. Have you even looked at your wrists?”

    I hadn’t. I let go of his hand and cautiously pulled back his sleeve just enough to expose the skin there. The iron had left a ring of red, cracked skin that was bleeding on either wrist. “Cyrus,” I breathed and glanced back up at him. His face was anxious. “I’m so sorry.”

    “Hey, ssh,” he murmured and leant down to kiss my forehead. “It’s not your fault.”

    I tried to push myself up but a pain lanced through my torso and my leg.

    “Stay still, Ygraine, your wounds have not properly healed just yet.”

    “I’m sorry,” I repeated. “So, so sorry. If I . . . If I hadn’t run off, you wouldn’t have . . . I thought . . .”

    “You thought what?”

    I swallowed and took a deep breath, allowing my fingers to once more entwine with his when he held out his hand. “I thought you were going to die.”

    He smiled and pressed my hand again, more for comfort this time. “It’s going to take more than iron shackles around my wrist for ten minutes to kill me.”

    “See, that’s the thing—they did almost kill you,” Robert said dryly.

    “But they didn’t. And I’m fine.

    “But . . . if I hadn’t shouted at you, if I hadn’t hurt you and then ran off like a coward, none of this would have happened! You wouldn’t have had those iron shackles around your wrists!” I cried out, clutching my hands together against my chest and looking away from him. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I hurt you, I shouldn’t have done that. I was angry, but it doesn’t excuse my actions. I shouldn’t have said to things I said to you, I shouldn’t have raked my nails over your face. I’m so, so sorry, Cyrus.”

    Fingers worked through my hair, softly, until they reached my cheek and brushed the skin there. “Ygraine, look at me,” Cyrus whispered and I did so. His eyes were bright, more blue than violet, and the gold flakes glistened due to the dull sun. “See? I’m fine. My face is healed. Don’t blame yourself, you cannot blame yourself. I also said vicious things and for that I am sorry, too.” He reached for my hands and took them gently in both of his.

    I tried to glance around my surroundings, but I couldn’t really see much apart from the sky above me and Robert and Cyrus at either side of me. The water was running rapidly down the stream, full of little ripples. “Why are we by the water?”

    “The clearing is kind of covered by an extinguished pyre,” Robert replied, turning around to throw me a small smile that didn’t meet his eyes. So unlike his usual, cocky smile. “We burnt all but one of those bodies, because that one didn’t deserve to be burnt.”

    “We took up the weapons and hacked Markus apart—well, Rob did, I was still a little weak. Left the bastard to any wolves or whatever predators come around these parts.” Cyrus rubbed his thumb over my knuckles. “Do you want to sit up?” he asked. When I gave a short nod he wound his arms around my waist and carefully, if not hesitantly, lifted me up enough to allow my back to rest against a tree trunk.

    Images flashed across my mind. Markus crouching at my side, his hand on my thigh, his voice in my ear. I felt my chest grow tighter, my heart beat faster. Yet again I felt it hard to catch my breath.

    Not again.

    I clawed at my throat, gasping in breaths.

    “Ygraine!” Robert half-shouted and came scrambling over to me. “Breathe. Ygraine, breathe. Like I told you to before. Just breathe.”

    I did as he told me, repeating the breathing strategy he’d demonstrated following my first attack. After a few minutes my breathing evened. I felt better, if not thirsty.

    Robert, as if sensing my thirst, held out a wineskin. “It’s full of water, Ygraine. Drink.” I took it and pulled off the cork, bringing the ‘skin to my lips and gulping down water quickly. “Whoa, slow down. Slow down.”

    I brought the wineskin from my lips and replaced the cork

    “What triggered it this time?”     

    My eyes focused on Robert’s face. He looked tired. “Markus . . . he . . . he didn’t . . . did he?” I kept the memories at bay.

    “No, he didn’t,” Cyrus said matter-of-factly, moving to sit by my side and gently placed an arm around my shoulder. I moved slightly to rest my head on his chest. “Robert killed him before he had chance to. It was quite spectacular—I didn’t know he had it in him.”

    “But you were being held, how did you get out of their grasp?” I asked R, remembering the blade against his throat.

    Robert shrugged as he wound a piece of cloth around his cut arm. “People underestimate my ability. I know how to fight with a sword; I know how to kill with a sword.”

    “Evidently,” Cyrus said.

    “I’d rather die than let harm befall my friends.”

    Neither Cyrus nor I said anything about that, but merely allowed it to sink in. Robert was loyal when it came to Cyrus, I already knew that, but to be included in his loyalty . . . well, I couldn’t help but smile.

    “Thank you,” I whispered after a couple of minutes of silence. “For agreeing to take us to Lothian, for helping me, for killing Markus. Just . . . thank you.”

    Even though he was sat down he bowed. When he straightened again he was wearing that signature smile, but it didn’t meet his eyes. For a moment I could have sworn I’d seen pain in his eyes, but it disappeared just as quickly as it appeared.

    “I am but a humble servant to Her Highness,” he said and gave me a wink.

    I rolled my eyes and attempted to move, but pain hit me once more.

    “Try to keep still,” Cyrus murmured, one of his hands working its way into my hair. I held back my sigh of content as his fingers threaded through the strands. “I’m still weak so I wasn’t able to heal you properly. If you make any sudden movements your injuries might reopen, the one of your leg is deep enough that it will scar despite any healing from me.”

    “What about the other two?”

    “They’ll heal just fine, no reminders.”

    I nodded. “How long until I can walk?”

    “I give it another hour and we can be on our way. By then the wound on your abdomen should have healed also.”

    I looked at our surroundings once again. “Where is Aeron?”

    “He’s fine. Both horses and Aconitum are just behind these trees next to the wagon.”

    I looked up at him, brow creased. “Wagon? What wagon?”

    “It seemed our little group of thugs were actually smugglers, and we found their wagon—well I did, Cyrus was busy stumbling about,” said Robert. “Found it full of jewellery and posh clothing.”

    I nodded and a smile slowly crossed my face. “And what items of clothing are there?”

    “Leather jerkins and doublets, as well as silk ones, silk tunics and trousers all varying in colours. As for women’s clothing, dresses in varying colours and designs and materials, a number of corsets and bodices.” He stopped and studied me for a moment. “Why? What are you thinking?”

    “It’s seems a pity to let clothing go to waste, since it’ll never reach its destination.”

    “But it’s probably stolen,” Cyrus argued.

    I shrugged. “And we’re heading to the capital of Lothian, to the castle; we cannot be looking like paupers when we’ll be among nobility and royalty.”

    “So . . . you’re suggesting we play dress-up?” Robert asked.

    “Well, you two—yes. I mean, no offence, but you aren’t of important blood. I, however, am the Princess of Camelot.”

    “I don’t really care so long as I get to get out of these dirty clothes.”

    I just wanted to get out the dress I was wearing, wash myself clean of the events of today, slip on a beautiful dress, and reach the comfort and safety of my cousin’s castle.

    I just wanted to reach a home away from home. I just wanted to curl up in a large bed, huddled under the many layers of covers, and forget what had happened. I just wanted to see the last remaining members of my family that I had access to.

    I just wanted to forget for a moment that I’d threatened to take Mordred’s head; even though that was a threat I was going to uphold and see through.

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A/N: if you read the last chapter, well done - I know that the chapter was tricky reading. Which is why I will make up for it with little angst and happy reunions, as well as a couple of plot twists . . . 

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