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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The walls were of a beige stone, with great tapestries and crest flags hung from them at intervals. Where there had been the dragon of the Pendragon family crest embroidered on the flags, now there was the crest Mordred had given himself of a bare oak embroidered with black thread on a red background. Mordred fancied himself somewhat as a Darach, or ‘dark oak’.  

    A couple of Mordred’s Knights walked past us once we turned a corner, though neither gave us a second glance. That was to be expected. None were to pay attention to the once Princess. Only a chosen few know of my identity, the rest thought I was a mere peasant prisoner.

    Once the Knights had gone past it became eerily quiet in the corridors of the castle. The only sound that could be heard was that of the rain battering against the roof high above the vaulted ceiling. Though there were no windows in the corridors to watch the rain, the water would easily splash down from the courtyard above my cell and onto my bed below the small window. For that, I wouldn’t achieve any sleep tonight.

    Agravain and I walked in silence for most of the journey from Mordred’s chambers back to the dungeons, but when we started to descend the long tower stairs, I opened my mouth and spoke up.

    “He wants to kill you, you know,” I said, staring down at the stairs to make sure I wouldn’t miss a step and trip, for the torches in their sconces on the walls provided only the dimmest of light. “Mordred is looking for an excuse to kill you, Agravain.”

    “He wouldn’t. My brother knows I am loyal.”

    I smiled. “He has told me so. Though he has not told me his plan of how he will kill you. Perhaps he will send you out on patrol, and while there you have a tragic incident with a Questing Beast or one of the last dragons left.”

    “There are no more Questing Beasts.”

    “One can easily be conjured . . . by a Warlock with great power. Does Mordred not have great power?”

    By the set of his shoulders I could tell my cousin was thinking over my words, and for that my smile grew. “I have done all he has wanted. My brother would not rid of me so quickly,” he said, turning his head a fraction of the way left to look at me briefly out of the corner of his eye, before quickly turning back to face forward. We had reached the bottom of the stairs by now.

    “Exactly. You have done what he has wanted from you, you have secured him the Throne and crown of Camelot. Honestly, Agravain, if your younger brother truly appreciated you . . . would he not have you a Duke, or perhaps even a Grand Duke? You are blind, Agravain, if you do not see that your brother does not value you in anyway, he thinks you an idiot at best. Look at yourself, Agravain, look at your position. I have already told you the truth—accept it and betray your King.”

    “No.”

    My smile faded from my face. It would take more than words to convince my idiot of a cousin to betray Mordred, it seemed. Mores the pity. It seemed he would die by Mordred’s hand regardless. Not that I cared at all.

    Agravain paused for a moment to pull out a key from the ring of keys by his belt, unlock the metal door to the dungeons, and pushed me inside first before he continued to push me down the twisting labyrinth that made up the corridors of the dungeons. Set here and there were large wooden doors with small metal-barred windows in them, locked with a total of three locks— a sliding lock the size of my whole arm at the bottom and the very top, and a simple lock and key in the middle. Torture boxes were down another corridor, and sometimes one could hear the screams of prisoners slowly dying of heat exhaustion—one tended to attempt to drown the sounds out.

    “You could kill the King,” I whispered, not fully done with my futile attempts to change Agravain’s loyalties. “Take the crown for yourself. Take the title you so . . . honestly deserve.”

    Agravain thwacked a hand against the gap between my shoulder blades, shooting me forward a good few feet. Agravain was dumb, but he had strength the equivalent to ten men. “That is enough of your treasonous tongue,” he hissed.

    “I only wish to open your eyes to opportunity before he stabs you in the back.”

    “Enough!” he barked loudly, grabbing both my arms to halt me in front of the door in which I knew my cell was behind. “Enough of your insolence, little Pendragon girl!”

    “But I . . .”

    “Quieten your tongue or I shall cut it out!”

    I smacked my lips shut. I quite honestly did not want to lose my tongue. I watched in silence as Agravain unlocked my door before turning to me. “Hold out your wrists,” he said, and I did. He unsheathed a dagger from his belt and cut through the rope in one quick flick of his wrist. I dropped my bloodstained, open-wounded, rope-burned arms down to my sides—they would blister again soon enough, and then scar, if infection didn’t set in first. I needed badly to clean my wounds, but I didn’t voice that I needed to.

    Instead I allowed Agravain to push me through the open doorway of my cell, not turning around as he closed and bolted the door once again. It had stopped raining now, but water had leaked down through the window and splashed onto my bed. The water had also pooled onto the floor, and the only dry area was that in the darkest corner.

    Though there were no torches in my cell, the torches and fires outside for the guards provided some light to see where I was going and what I was doing.

    “Sleep well, little Pendragon girl,” I heard Agravain say with a chuckle before I heard his footfalls as he walked away.

    Sleep well.

    I hadn’t slept well in almost ten years, nightmares frequently plagued my sleep. Therefore I would be startled awake, sometimes by my own scream which nobody paid attention to, and not be able to fall back asleep for a good five hours.

    With a quiet sigh, I paced over to my bed and picked up the starch grey blanket—the only ‘luxury’ I had anymore—and, half-sodden though it was, wrapped it around my shoulders. I then moved to sit down huddled up in the darkest and driest corner, attempting to snuggle into a blanket that wasn’t providing any added warmth.

    I shut my eyes tight.

    Sleep well. I knew that I wouldn’t.

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