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It's no exageration at all, a castilian wouldn't understand basque better than any briton, basque is not a romance language, it's in fact not even a indoeuropean language according to most scholars, castilian and basque influenced each other but were never mutually inteligible, take it from me I speak castilian and I don't understand literally anything when people speak in basque.

I know, right? My uncle's girlfriend is Basque, so he's learned the language, and when they start babbling in Basque I just start staring. I'm not sure how much it evolved in time, but I cannot imagine it being any closer to Castilian a thousand something years ago.
 
I know, right? My uncle's girlfriend is Basque, so he's learned the language, and when they start babbling in Basque I just start staring. I'm not sure how much it evolved in time, but I cannot imagine it being any closer to Castilian a thousand something years ago.

Are you Spanish?? Well that took me by surprise... :D. Yeah, I learned that they mutually influenced each other over time, like falcon and fierro becoming Halcón and Hierro, izquierda coming from ezkerra and stuff like that, so if anything they were even less similar back then.

PS: yout uncle is a pro man... even with the proper motivation learning basque has to be a tough ride :D :D
 
Are you Spanish?? Well that took me by surprise... :D. Yeah, I learned that they mutually influenced each other over time, like falcon and fierro becoming Halcón and Hierro, izquierda coming from ezkerra and stuff like that, so if anything they were even less similar back then.

PS: yout uncle is a pro man... even with the proper motivation learning basque has to be a tough ride :D :D

The things we do for love :D:D:D

As for myself: I'm actually Italian, but between my uncle living in Spain, a very strict yet effective high school teacher, and a couple of Spanish girlfriends, I've become quite proficient at it, if I do say so myself. ;)
 
The things we do for love :D:D:D

As for myself: I'm actually Italian, but between my uncle living in Spain, a very strict yet effective high school teacher, and a couple of Spanish girlfriends, I've become quite proficient at it, if I do say so myself. ;)

Italian with a couple of spanish girlfriends... you sound like the guy who enters a party and pulls off a Lancelot, getting all the sweet smiles of the girls and nothing but frowns from the boys :D:D. Don't worry, next year I hope to go to Italy on Erasmus and I intend to pay you back in kind... ;).
 
Italian with a couple of spanish girlfriends... you sound like the guy who enters a party and pulls off a Lancelot, getting all the sweet smiles of the girls and nothing but frowns from the boys :D:D. Don't worry, next year I hope to go to Italy on Erasmus and I intend to pay you back in kind... ;).

NOT AT THE SAME TIME! :D:D:D

Although yes, it’s not the first time I get called Lancelot... I’ll try not to let that influence my writing too much ;)

Where are you going to do Erasmus?
 
:D:D:D
It's still not final or anything, but I was hoping for Torino

Ahhh, the demesne of the cursed Savoia!! :mad::mad:

All joking aside, its a hell of a town! I've only been there once or twice, but it has a lot of charm.
 
Book IV - Appendix I
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At the Court in the North

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Guinevere, princess of Gwynedd: youngest, and some say fairest, daughter of King Anarawd ap Rhodri. Much has been said about, poems written, gossip spread: most of it false. The source of much of the gossip was surely cause by the fact that, at eighteen, she was neither married nor arranged to be wed, an absurdity for a princess of the time. Some said Anarawd was following the example of Queen Dowager Igraine, known for trying to cater to her daughters' wishes, while others merely say her father wished to keep his favourite daughter with him. Though not supported by any historical basis, the legend must be mentioned according to which the wizard Merlin, having saved the King from some curse, claimed the hand of his youngest daughter for a ward of his. According to the legend, the ward turned out to be Art, later known as King Arthur.



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Anarawd son of Rhodri Mawr, King of Gwynedd: the King in the North, the unbowed. By the year 900, after the birth of our Lord, as King Arthur completed his conquest of western Mercia, later Kingdom of Lloegyr or Loegria, Arthur recognition as High King of the Britons was almost as universal as it was not official. The brothers Anarawd of Gwynedd and Rhicert of Powys were the exception, and even when Rhicert opened up to Arthur, promising his support in exchange for lands and boons, Anarawd said simply that he would be concerned by the matter only when the matter shall present itself, in a famous quote.



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Igraine, Queen Mother to Arthur and Queen Dowager of Britain: it is no great secret that, in the early years of King Arthur's reign, it was his mother that did most of the ruling, while he built his legend on the battlefield. Which suited both just fine: she was de facto Queen of her son's Kingdom while Arthur, who had learned much under Merlin but was still coming to terms with the administration of the realm, could ride forth unburdened with the details of what paid for his knights or kept his allies close.


Author's notes: I've finally find a much quicker way to take snapshots than... whatever I did before, that saves me a lot of time, so expect to see these with greater frequency!
 
As ever, always good to take a break and get a solid look at our dramatis personae all together :)

Indeed, I'm realising more and more just how vital that is to an AAR. Although I do not mean to go with this one the same way I went with Fires of Valyria, and probably won't start including screenshot of battles and so forth, I will try to get a screenshot post at least once every two chapters.
 
The chances of me keeping all these names straight are ... not good.
 
The chances of me keeping all these names straight are ... not good.

Eigyr... can be troublesome. As a frame of reference:

Hildegard Karling = Eigyr (pet name from Uther which I made up) = Igraine, Arthur's mother and Uther's wife
 
Book IV - Chapter II
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Chapter II: Castles and Families


King Anarawd’s retinue sailed from Ynys Mon, where the King of Gwynedd held his court in Aberffro, to the walled city of Caerlleon, where the banners of King Oucydd yet flew above the gates. The Romans had named her Deva Victrix, the Saxons had butchered her name as Chester, but the Britons had always called the castle of the Legion. Caerlleon was an impressive fortress, and Gwen understood why the Saxons thought the Romans had been giants, for indeed it was hard to imagine a mortal man building such walls. They were taller than three robust men, and looked even more fearsome thanks to the moat that faced them. And, even though ruined, some buildings in the town were still made of white plaster, with bright red tiles on their roofs instead of damp thatch. But above all she was impressed by the Roman shrine besides which they rode as they headed south from Caerlleon. For she had been told by her priest of how the Romans had chased the Celtic druids from the Isle of Britain, and brought with them the holy doctrines of the Christ. And yet the shrine was certainly of Roman make, and yet it was no christian shrine, for it depicted a goddess, a woman of great beauty, armed with spear and shield, with an owl sitting comfortably beside her. When she asked her father, he told her that, once upon a time, the Romans too had been pagans, and they had venerated a great many deities, just like the Britons had. And, amongst these deities, there were both gods and goddesses. The Romans, Gwenhwyfar thought, must have truly been a great people, if they were wise enough to worship women.


The awe Gwen had felt upon first seeing Caerlleon was trumped, however, as soon as Anarawd’s escort finally reached their final destination: Camulod, standing alongside both river and wood. Caerlleon could not compare, for Caerlleon was real, where Camulod had sprung out of a tale. The northern town had been just that: a town, its high Roman walls mighty and fearsome, but not high enough to hide the truth that hid behind them. For behind them hid dirt and stench and a mess of men and women scurrying about their miserable lives: fishermen come from the harbour with their stinking wares, beggars on the sides of the streets, traders shouting, peddling their goods, whores plying -or rather ploughing- their trade in side alleys… the list went on. But she saw none as she rode through Camulod: there were stable hands, sure, but even they looked courteous as they took their horses, and she spied a blacksmith shirtless behind one of the brick houses, but he was surrounded by coats of mail and was hammering a sword, not fixing a plow in some backwater village. Gwenhwyfar heard her father mutter Camulod was ‘but a glorified army camp’, yet it was did not seem anything of the sort to her eyes. To her, it was a magical castle, where only noble warriors and their steeds and servants lived and slept. It was the keep and hall of the great King Arthur.


Gwenhwyfar saw little of King Arthur, that first day. Indeed, she barely saw him at all, sitting in the centre of the long table during the night’s welcome feast, besides her father King Anarawd and her sister Queen Prawst. And it was Prawst that she saw a lot of: that same Prawst which her father had feared Arthur’s prisoner, which he had spent the whole trip non knowing whether he would be forced to ransom her or break her out, that very Prawst who welcomed her and her father to Camulod jewelled and dressed in the finest dyed linen trimmed with fur, and who strolled through the castle as if she owned it. Because, as far as anyone was concerned, until the treaty for which they had come was legally concluded, she still was. As Queen of Mercia and regent in her husband’s name, the noble King Sigeread being considered unfit to rule. Or do little else, for the matter. He was unfit to lead an army, much less fight in one, unfit to ride, unfit to meet with his council or go to mass and atone his sins. At times he was even ufit to sit straight on a chair and had to propped back up as he began to fall forwards. In truth, the noble King Sigeread was only fit to drool on his tunic and swallow silently when a serf brought a spoonful of soup to his mouth. Prawst did not seem to be overly worried about her husband’s state, and neither was she afraid of openly bad-mouthing the man to whomever might wish to listen. Gwenhwyfar could not blame her: Anarawd could not have known into what nest of vipers he was throwing his eldest daughter when he had given her hand to the King of Mercia, but Prawst barely had the courage to look at her own children, a living reminder of her abusive husband. Nor did she ever talk about herself, whenever she decided to go on about Sigeraed’s sins. And that was her favourite subject. That and Arthur. The noble King Arthur, who had freed her from the cruel Sigeraed by defeating the monster in single combat.


Gwenhwyfar had the chance to hear the tale about a dozen times in the days during which Mercia’s future was decided. The Kings spoke at length and in private, and so she was left to roam across the alleys of Camulod, a great winding labyrinth that always managed to rejoin with the main road that connected the high gates with Arthur’s Roman palace. She had marvelled when she had first seen it, with its red shingles and cream plaster walls, vaulted ceilings and marble columns. The main hall in which they had feasted the first night was at the center of the building, its ceiling standing a good six feet taller than the rest of the rooms, but it was not there that the high lords convened. They sat on a great circular room, which stood right behind the great hall, connected to it by a corridor that somehow seemed much recent than the rest of the palace, and which Bedwyr, the youngest son of King Cynyr of Demetia with whom Gwen became fast friends, told her used to be a church in ancient times, built by Emrys Wledig in the effigy of the greatest church of all, which lay in Rome. It was Bedwyr that told her the truth of the clash between Sigeraed and Arthur, without any mention of Dragons nor angels flying above the battlefield. Another might have liked such embellishments, but Gwen prided herself with having outgrown these childhood fancies. And besides, unlike most who had told her of the duel, Bedwyr had actually witnessed it with his own eyes. He had been there, riding besides Arthur, one of the strongest amongst those that unironically called themselves knights, when the King had cut through the Mercians like a knife through butter.


Arthur, Gwenhwyfar had come to understand, had a love for horses equaled only by his careless daring: thus he loathed the shieldwall, where warriors fight shoulder to shoulder, protecting each other like all men should, much rather preferring to charge into battle recklessly, on horseback. And, in his defense, it seemed as if though none had yet managed to stop him yet. But it seemed Sigeraed had finally caught on and so, in that last battle against the Mercians, when Arthur’s cavalry had ridden around the Saxon shieldwall they had been met not with a ragged group of fleeing skirmishers, but with the Mercian King’s own riders. Bedwyr told her that, instead of retreating as most commanders would have, Arthur but smiled at the sight, and urged them on. Sigeraed had not turned on his heels either, perhaps hoping to end the Briton aggression with one single thrust of his spear, and so they had met, King against King, in the field near Loncastre, the Mercian’s last friendly stronghold in all of Britain. They had charged at each other like a raging bull fighting a wild bear, Hengroen’s flanks frothing as Arthur had pushed him to the side, skilfully dodging Sigeraed’s thrust just as he broke his own lance’s tip into the Mercian King’s shield. Sigeraed had cursed horribly and, even as he cut down another Mercian warrior, Bedwyr had not failed to notice the rivulets of blood flowing from the enemy King’s arm. But Sigeraed had not failed to notice his new advantage either: because where he still held an deadly lance, Arthur had but a blunt wooden stump. And so, without waiting, his bloodied shield limp on his side, Sigeraed had charged again, knowing that any wise man would flee, and any fool would try to challenge him with a sword and be skewered before he could even draw. Only Arthur felt neither wise nor a fool: he felt like daring. And so the Briton King had, before anyone could stop him, dug his heels into his horse, and dropped his shield in a move of youthful pride, doubtlessly to even the odds with his wounded enemy. Even through the cheek plates of his helmet, Sigeraed’s cruel grin had shone on the battlefield as he had thrust his lance at Arthur once more. Cynyr had cursed his heart out, Culhwch had uselessly tried to spur his own horse towards his brother’s, Caradog had thrown a spear towards Sigeraed only to catch an Irish rider that stood between them. And the Mercians had cheered. Too soon. Because it had not been neither pride nor honour that had brought Arthur to drop his shield, and the enemy King had thrust his spear, Arthur had danced around it and caught the shaft with his free hand, using it to pull Sigeraed towards him while rising on his saddle. The Mercian had not even realised what was going on as he received the full force of Arthur’s broken shaft on his nose. His neck had arched unnaturally, and he had fallen. But he had not died.


Gwenhwyfar heard the story ten more times that night, as the Kings of the Isle, both Briton and Saxon, celebrated their accord in the way men have always celebrated things, and in all probability always will: with copious amounts of ale, beer, cider, and even wine. The pretense that “King” Sigeraed held any real king of power was still needed, at least for the night, so Gwen was not allowed her sister’s companionship, once despised and now sorely missed. Prawst had been once more called to the high table on the dais, sitting on Arthur’s right, as the guest of highest honour, while at the Briton King’s left sat his mother, for he himself had no Queen, and then, on either side of the Ladies, sat all the great Kings: Oucydd of Alba and Ystrad Clut beside Prawst, Cynyr of Demetia beside him, and Caradog, Prince of Buellt through a strained claim of succession from an ancient King, closed the table. They were the victors, Arthur’s most powerful and most trusted allies, and should have been joined by King Bran, whom everyone called Ban, much to Gwen’s confusion, but the King of Benoic was busy dealing with a revolt on the mainland. On Arthur’s left, next to Queen Eigyr, sat the guests: King Ælfred of the Western Saxons, King Anarawd of Gwynedd and King Rhicert of Powys. Gwen, seated at the women’s table, smiled sympathetically at her father, who coldly ignored his estranged younger brother, and she had to wonder whether the placement had been intentional. But mostly she was surprised by the courtesy with which Ælfred and Eigyr spoke to each other at length, and an unwary onlooker might have taken them for good friends. Gwenhwyfar was no unwary onlooker. It was watching them that she learned the importance of a well faked smile.


Arthur, on the other hand, was either incredibly skilled at it, or was not faking his face-wide grin at all. Gwen reckoned it was the latter. After all, he had every reason to be happy: before the end of the night he would go from being the weakest lord in Britain, held on his throne only by the misplaced loyalty of his father’s men, to the most powerful amongst the Briton Kings. Nobody called him a boy to his face anymore: four years of war had made him a warrior, a leader, a conqueror, and that is what they called him. But above all else they called him King. Gwen thought back to what Queen Eigyr had told her father when she had first met the Lady: that Britain chooses its own High King. And yet Kings needn’t call each other “King”, that much she knew, but Cynyr never spoke of his ward, Art, only of King Arthur. And Caradog the Strongarm, now a Prince in his own name, still called Arthur “Lord”. Britain it seemed, might choose its own High King, but at least half of it had already made up its mind. He knew that, Gwen was certain of it. Arthur knew it. And so he sat there, in the middle of the high table, the smug grin not leaving his face. He laughed and he joked, teasing King Oucydd, a man over twice his age, like one does an old friend. And nobody, of course, would dare tell him anything. Arthur had treated Gwen and her father with nothing but courtesy, and yet she found herself despising him. Or perhaps despising his certainly faked courtesy, the way he treated Anarawd like an equal and yet humiliated him by sitting him between a Saxon and a usurper. The whole feast, as they were served roast boar and stuffed pheasant, smoked fish of both sea and lake, the whole feast Gwen could not think of anything but Arthur. Could hardly take her eyes off him. How she hated him. And hated the fact that, the few times they had spoken, he had treated her kindly, as if she were but some child, unworthy of his hate.


“Will you ever stop staring at him?” Morganna’s voice pulled Gwenhwyfar from her reverie like a fisherman’s hook pulls a trout: swiftly, unexpectedly and, frankly, quite unpleasantly. Gwen turned toward the young princess to find her wide-eyed, as if she were simply, truly, curious.

“I’m sorry?” Gwen did her best to seem only mildly annoyed, hoping that would be enough to avoid further questioning, but she could feel her cheeks flaring up.

Morganna did not seem to take the hint: “My brother!” She said gleefully. “You’ve been staring at him all night.”

Before Gwenhwyfar could could reply, Elaine stepped in: “Shame on you, sister!” she chastised Morganna, not without a chuckle. “You have been spending too much time with Myrddin! In a courtly environment, a lady should never point out another lady’s crush so overtly!”

Elaine, every bit her mother if but for the fact that she had inherited King Uther’s fair hair and emerald eyes, winked at Gwen knowingly, and the princess of Gwynedd knew she was turning red as a beet. She stammered something, but was quickly cut off: “Now look who is being overt!” Morganna grinned at her sister. “Although by the way her energies swirl, it it quite obvious.”

“I have no idea what either of you are speaking…” Gwen begun, stressing every word as she tried desperately to regain a modicum of composure, but she was cut off again, as her sister Prawst rose from her seat and, in an instant, the room was filled with a plethora of loud voices calling for silence, each trying to out shout the other.

“My Lords! My Ladies!” Prawst beamed as she raised her hands to calm those stragglers that were ordering each other to be silent. “A toast! To peace!”

Although not a testament to her eloquence, the message was greatly appreciated by her audience, who once more began clamoring, so that King Ælfred began slamming his fist on the table to try and bring back some silence. Arthur was slouching on his throne, looking happily onto the raucous warriors who ill welcomed the Ælfred’s intervention. The Mercians and the Saxons in the hall grew quiet, but the Britons seemed to take the King’s attempts as a challenge, and grew even more unruly. Gwen did not miss the satisfied grin on King Arthur’s face as he silenced the whole hall with a simple gesture, much to Ælfred’s annoyance.

“Thank you, all, for being here!” Prawst was smiling more timidly now, as the now silent members of the assembly all fixed their eyes on her. She spoke in her native Briton, so that the translator at the Saxon’s table’s voice at times covered her own. “It is my greatest pleasure to tell you that, after much deliberation, we have reached an accord!” There was no roar of celebration as the warriors moved to the edge of their seats, anxious to hear what had their Lords had decided.


“As you all surely know, in recent times my dear husband, the King Sigeraed, had been gripped by madness: no longer was he the fair and kind man I knew, but became cruel, and began shouting blasphemy and heresy…” Prawst began once more, and Gwen was surprised by how skilled an actress her sister had become. “And it is with a sad but relieved heart that I announce his passing earlier this morning.”

The news was received with some sparse murmuring, but nobody feigned indignation. Queen Eigyr looked bored, and had begun toying with her food, while the warriors in the room stared on, not in the least interested or surprised by Sigeraed’s fate.

“The throne of Mercia lies now vacant, for it would pass onto my son by Sigeraed, but I, in his name, refuse it.” The statement was once more met with far less uproar than a similar statement would have warranted, as no one in the room truly believed the farce, and everyone knew that this was merely the division of the spoils of conquest.

“A child is not fit to face the onslaught of the Danes, and no good deed should go unrewarded: so, in the name of both responsibility and gratitude, it has been decided that the noble Kings Arthur and Ælfred share the rule of Mercian land, better to protect the people of our proud Kingdom!” None yet spoke, waiting to hear what this meant concretely, but there was some angry murmuring by the Mercians in the room.

“The King Ælfred shall control the Earldom of Middle Anglia, which his warriors have most previdently already garrisoned, whilst the King Arthur shall rule the lands from Caerlleon in the North to Caer Glow in the South, those lands that had once been of our ancestors the Dobunni and the Cornovi that lived in the golden days of Rome!” Gwen was certain that her sister’s words had been written by someone else, for Prawst knew naught about neither Romans, Dobunni or Cornovi, but those words had their desired effect, for the whole hall stood up at once, a cheerful roar filling the room.


Even Ælfred seemed glad, though whether that was because he had finally crossed the Thames, was glad to have London and her markets in his grasp, or merely he that the Saxons would soon easily take back whatever Arthur had been awarded, that was not for Gwen to know. What she did know was that, whatever promises of peace her sister might make, the Angles would soon flee Arthur’s Lloegyr for Ælfred’s West Saexe, and whatever Britons might come to colonise their new lands would be stretched thin and would suffer much at the hands of Saxon raiders. But that did not matter that night: it was a night of feasting, of celebration, where Saxon and Briton came to blows like even their ancestors would not have dared to, but reconciled moments after with a horn of mead in hand and a, slightly toothless, smile on their face. It was a happy night. That is, until King Rhicert spoke.
 
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Ah, Arthur rich in bravery, bravura, and now a goodly portion of land by the sounds of it.

I cannot but help get the impression that Gwen views Arthur in part a bit like how one views a particuarly cute if rumbunctious puppy.
 
Gwen is going to make an excellent consort some day -- she can look past the spectacle and pageantry, and see the messages such acts are meant to convey -- and, sometimes, the flaws they are meant to conceal.
 
Gwen is going to make an excellent consort some day -- she can look past the spectacle and pageantry, and see the messages such acts are meant to convey -- and, sometimes, the flaws they are meant to conceal.

A spruce of paranoia can, indeed, have it’s usefulness! With her AND Myrddin by his side, what could Arthur want for?
 
Book IV - Chapter III
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Chapter III: The Kneeling King


Gwenhwyfar’s stood proud on the battlements of Aberffro’s gates, her fair hair flowing in the sea breeze, freed from the coif that still rested in Doña Ximena’s grasp. The Basque lady had attempted to grab Gwen by it, when all other attempts to dissuade her from rushing to the walls had failed, but the young princess was far nimbler and faster. Gwen had expected some resistance from her father’s retainers, but none really seemed to care. Cynddellw, King Anarawd’s champion, had even smiled when he had seen her rushing up the stairs, pushing through the crowd of soldiers. The King himself had either not noticed her, or simply did not care, and she could not blame him. Anarawd’s gaze, much like his daughter’s, would not leave the slew of warriors facing Aberffro’s defenders from across her mighty ditch. From the plumes on their helms she could tell they were no simple warriors. They were his knights. Pride and joy of the ever so noble King Arthur.


King Rhicert’s words still rang in Gwen’s ears. They had hurt her then, like a dagger in her back, and still hurt her now. Whatever might have happened between Anarawd and his nephew, the man was still her cousin. When Rhicert of Powys had risen from his seat, at Arthur’s precious peace banquet, Gwenhwyfar had even dared hope he would seize the opportunity to make his own peace with his uncle. Her hopes had soon been crushed.


Oh, Rhicert had been eloquent, Rhicert had been smart. He had used fair words, spoken in the fairest voice he could muster, insulting half of those seated at the royal table while directly attacking the others. He spoke harshly of the Saxon cur, Ælfred, who had dared steal a land that was rightfully British. He mocked the King Sigeraed, and in doing so diminished the greatness of King Arthur’s victory. But most of all he attacked the traitor Anarawd, his own blood, and his bitch daughter, whom the King of Gwynedd, Rhicert said, had sold to the Anglish as easily a Jewish merchant sells an heirloom. Gwen had not heard much else, for already her father’s warriors had risen up with great commotion, but it hadn’t mattered much. Because as soon as Rhicert had announced that he had already sent men to siege Gwynedd’s unprotected fortresses, Anarawd had caved his nephew’s teeth in with a well placed punch, and had stormed out of the room after ordering his son to get his sisters.


Prawst had not joined them on the battlements, and Gwenhwyfar knew her sister felt betrayed more than anyone. The widow to the late King of Mercia had barely worn her mourning veil, glad to be free of her husband, yet now she grieved because of Arthur, fair, strong, just King Arthur, who had protected her during the war and used her to broker his peace, yet had said nothing as Rhicert insulted her virtue, sitting sullenly while the wizard Myrddin whispered in his ear. He was there too, Myrddin, Gwen could see him well. Where all of Arthur’s followers were warriors, and proudly showed their gleaming coats of mail, Myrddin stood out in his plain blue robes, the only steel on him being the graying hairs that now streaked his long brown beard. Gwen was not in the least surprised to see the aging wizard step forwards from the enemy ranks, waving his open hands to show that he was unarmed, as he jumped from his horse with an agility many a younger man would envy. Cyndellw was already giving the bowmen the order, but King Anarawd grunted and told him to desist. Myrddin had brought a curved horn to his lips, and from it came a call so terrible that, Gwenhwyfar did not doubt it, a dragon’s roar would have sounded sweeter.


“Come Anarawd, son of Rhodri! Come o King! Come from your walled fortress halls to meet me not as foe, but as friend!”

Another would have looked more concerned beneath a wall of enemy soldiers, but Myrddin was beaming as he spoke his invitation, giggling like a child who knows a secret that the adults ignore. And a secret he must have known, for Anarawd sighed loudly and called for the gates to be opened. Gwenhyfar could not help but stare as her father descended from the parapet and stepped, alone, towards Myrddin. A couple of retainers, and the princess herself, attempted to run after him, but the King stopped them with a curt gesture of the hand. He shook his head one last time and then walked out from the haven of Aberffro’s walls, his cloak floating behind him like a flag.


If nothing else, Gwenhwyfar though, Myrddin was ready to obey his own requests, as he indeed met her father not as a foe but as a friend, embracing him as a long lost brother. The cool in Anarawd’s own answer was visible even from the ramparts of the walls. Gwenhwyfar had heard much of Myrddin the Wizard, and feared some trickery, but if her father was of the same mind he showed no sign of it. Commanders meeting, and talking, before battles was not uncommon, but Myrddin was no commander. He was a webspinner, a treacherous snake, and Gwen looked to Cynddellw to give the order should thing take a dire turn for her father.


Yet no treason came. No arrow flew to meet the great King. Anarawd and Myrddin merely spoke, and slowly but surely the wizard’s merry melted away the King’s icy facade. Finally the King of Gwynedd nodded and, upon Myrddin’s signal, Arthur himself dismounted and left the ranks of his army, followed by friendly Bedwyr and his brother Cai carrying a covered stretcher, and a man that Gwen remembered as Caradog heir of Gwrtheyrn. Despite her rancor, Gwenhwyfar could not help but admire the young King as he strode towards her father, his straw locks gleaming almost golden in the evening sun. They were held in place by a simple circlet that looked more iron than silver, and fell on his mailled shoulders freely, seemingly untouched by the windy day. Gone was the smug smile that Gwen remembered, replaced by a gravity that made the boy seem truly regal.

They had barely exchanged a greeting, the two Kings, that Arthur did the last thing anyone would have expected of him. In front of the walls of Aberffro, where two rulers had met under oath of friendship and promise of truce, the son of Uther threw away any custom that ever was. With two rivaling armies as his witnesses, the young King fell to one knee in front of Anarawd, soiling his rich red britches with the mud that surrounded the King of Gwynedd’s ditch. Gwen look on, her mouth agape, as some of her father’s men rushed to nock arrows, but most of them were just as shocked as she. Those that had armed were fearing some trick, but there seemed to be none. Arthur did not jump at Anarawd’s throat. None of his knights made a move for their weapons. The young King merely spoke, softly and at length, his words lost to Gwen’s ears in the seaward breeze.


Unable to hear what King Arthur was saying, Gwenhwyfar merely looked. At the young lord, splendid more in submission than he had ever looked in victory. At the Knights that stood behind him, their faces grave and stony. And at her father, whose royal countenance could not hide his emotions. Shock, confusion and rage danced on great Anarawd’s visage like faeries dance in a forest clearing, yet he listened as Arthur spoke, his knee still digging in the muck. And what Gwenhwyfar’s ears couldn’t tell her, her eyes did. For when Bedwyr uncovered what lay on the stretcher he and his brother were carrying, Gwen understood. Not all, but part she understood.


Cai and Bedwyr, knights and princes both, stood like two great stone statues, holding the wooden frame of a man’s last bedding. Between them, his eyes closed as if he were sleeping, but his skin paler than roman stone, lay Rhicert of Powys, his head no longer crowned. A murmur ran through Anarawd’s men, as those that had known the King’s nephew informed those that had never laid eyes on him. Gwen saw her father’s expression turn to ice, though whether he was horrified by his nephew’s lifeless sight, or merely trying to contain his joy, she couldn’t tell. Was not sure whether she wanted to.


Then Anarawd’s gaze turned to Arthur and for moments that seemed to trail on forever, the two armies were silent as the tomb. Finally her father extended the young King his hand and Gwen joined Cynddellw in a sigh of relief. They spoke but few words, yet Gwenhwyfar could see a great weight had lifted from them both. Then, to her even greater surprise, her father turned to Caradog, and hugged him like a bear might hug its cub. It was at that point that Arthur’s serious facade finally broke, and his teeth shone from ear to ear. Gwen found herself not minding. She was beaming as well.



Author's notes: I'd like to say that I've been terribly busy, and I guess that I have. But not having written anything for one full year, I would say busy does not really cut it. The honest truth is that I had grown bored of writing Arthur's story. I did not see how to fill the blank space in front of me, and so I simply moved onto other projects. But then, a little while ago, I stumbled upon Arthur in a completely unrelated history search, and I found myself yearning to go back to this story. And the words simply started flowing. A special thanks to @kimanicut for making me realise that, even after a year, no ill can come from publishing what I write.
 
Author's notes: I'd like to say that I've been terribly busy, and I guess that I have. But not having written anything for one full year, I would say busy does not really cut it. The honest truth is that I had grown bored of writing Arthur's story. I did not see how to fill the blank space in front of me, and so I simply moved onto other projects. But then, a little while ago, I stumbled upon Arthur in a completely unrelated history search, and I found myself yearning to go back to this story. And the words simply started flowing. A special thanks to @kimanicut for making me realise that, even after a year, no ill can come from publishing what I write.
Very happy to see this have a surprise comeback one year later! :)
 
Very happy to see this have a surprise comeback one year later! :)
Our chief element is surprise!

Jokes aside, I’m glad to be back
 
Welcome back!