Violent Content Warning: This story does contain scenes of a violent nature.
Alternative Warning: This story does contain scenes of a romantic nature between two women. This story is not for those under the age of eighteen.
Uber Warning: This story is an uber. The two characters are based off of the leading ladies of XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS.
Historical Disclaimer: This story is set in the time of King Arthur. However, I am not a historian. The character of Rowanne was introduced in a cartoon from the Family Channel called The Legend of Prince Valiant. Which is what the entire story is based off of, not historical fact. Especially since some people do doubt the existence of King Arthur and Camelot.
Authors Notes: Thanks to Ri for the research. All POSITIVE comments are welcome. Negatives I will simply ignore. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Only One:
The Story of Rowanne
Pain. I dont recall the actual wound that pulled me down on the battlefield, but it was a fine one. I distinctly remember the feeling of being taken away from the battle. Camelot will fall without my help! My brain screams, but my body will not cooperate. Kathryn. I need my love. I hear the noise of the screeching wagon wheels as I am moved even farther away. I am going home.
The squeaking of the wagon going across the wooden drawbridge awoke me from my slight nap. Voices, panicked, but there. I hear her. She is here. I move my head to my left and I see my sweet Kathryns face...and I smile. I move my lips and form an I love you though I make no sound. She responds with the same.
I am being carried, this time into the castle. I feel the change in temperature on my skin. I am within the walls of Camelot. Home. I know where we are going. Where all wounded knights are taken, to Merlin. My wounds are severe, but I have faith in our healer. I hear Kathryn crying as I am put onto a bed. Oh my only regret of the day, is my love having to see me like this. I must be quite a sight. I am still bleeding. It may all ready be too late. I will not give up so easily. Not now, not after what we have been through. I will fight to my very last breath to stay with my beloved and serve my king.
Kathryn sits beside me. The warmth of her hand reminds me how close I am to death. "Dont go." she cries. My heart reaches out to her. I love her. I do not want to go. "Rest my love." I feel a kiss to my forehead. I close my eyes. My life has changed forever with my Kathryn at my side. She has made my quest easier. I am drifting.
"Rowanne." I turn to see Father waving his shoeing hammer. "Stop daydreaming and help me with this beast." I drop the bow I was previously restringing. "Hand me the nails." I hand them to him with a very pronounced frown. "You should be helping me or your mother instead playing with that toy."
"Its not a toy, Father. Its a weapon."
"Not its in the hands of a young girl." I huff as my response. Young. I have seen nearly twenty winters. "Go in the house and help your mother."
I reluctantly move inside. "Rowanne, get me that pitcher, Love."
"Put some of that extra height to use." she smiles. I reach above the top of the cupboard and hand my mother the pitcher. I have been tall for my age, always. I am nearly over the height of the average man. Father will never see me more than a mere child.
"I am going for a ride, Mother." I say and move back to the door.
"Be back before supper."
Putting my bow across my back, I mount my horse. I ride towards the river. Bridgeford, called so because of the four bridges crossing over the river. The main travel route that connects the Southern territories to the Northern. I am accustomed to seeing royal caravans cross. This one was different. I knew the flags. They bore the symbol of the Rising Sun. The Kingdom of Arthur Pendragon. The realm of Merlin. Camelot. I watched from the hilltop as wave after wave of foot soldiers passed over the main and largest bridge. It is most likely that he going to visit the kingdom to our North, King Malcolm of Northland, his brother.
Wagons loaded with supplies crossed as well. Soon I saw the coach that surely held the king and possibly queen. I am distracted as a flash of metal is seen from the trees, then fire. My horse jerked, but steadied. "Oh no." I whisper. I kicked my horse into a full run. The wagon was quickly approaching the bridge. "STOP!" I scream at the nearest soldiers. They exchange glances as they watch an apparent mad woman as she tears down the side of the hill, fast approaching. All reasoning apparently went out of my mind. It did not occur to me until this moment they might see me as a threat. Several did draw their swords and raise their spears, but none took action against me. I pulled my mare to a stop. She reared slightly at the sudden stop. "Dont cross!" I yelled. "Catapults!" I had no idea who was trying to kill King Arthur, but it was quite clear someone was. "Stop!"
For some strange reason, they actually listen. Just as they are beginning to pull back, I hear the first volley. It falls about thirty feet away, but its enough to scare my mount. I am almost thrown, but regain control. I turn her away and heal her towards the bank on the river. I plunge the horse into the water. The water creeps up my leggings to my knee. We cross with no difficulty. I head directly for the catapults position. I know I will beat the Kings men by the shortcut I took. I stop about forty yards away. I am safe because of the foliage. I used to play in these woods as a child. Many of villagers lose their way here, but I do not. I hear the men, three of them, as they reload. I take off my bow and reach behind my shoulder, retrieving an arrow. I place it on the string, pulling it back. I wait until the right moment. "Light it." I hear the leader say. Now. As soon as it is lit, I fire an arrow, striking the lever man. "Launch it! Its catching on fire." Within a moment, I have another arrow placed and fired, striking the second man to attempt to fire, leaving only the leader. He looks in my direction, but I am well hidden. He cannot see me. I laugh softly as he runs away. Without thought, I stand, turn, and walk back to my horse. I am leaving the men as they are, dead.
The chaos had taken time to calm. I returned without a word to my family as to what I did. When I did return, I saw that everyone had gathered at the bridge. So I went to join my parents. I reined my horse and looked on with the rest of my village as the caravan was regrouping. I recognized the leader. Prince Valiant. King Arthurs prodigy. Then I saw them. He was not hard to miss. Tall, regal, fierce. Arthur. His wife was at his side Queen Guinevere. My heart stopped when I saw what lie in his hand, my arrow.
A soldier walked by me, looking up at me, but continued to the king. He got the attention of the king and then pointed to me. I nervously looked for an escape route. Something I never expected stopped me cold. King Arthur was approaching me. He was walking directly towards me with Prince Valiant at his side. He stopped at the head of my horse, taking hold of the bridle. "May I have a word, Young woman?"
"Yes, Sire." I am barely able to dismount without falling from sheer terror. He points to a spot not too far away.
"Come." I start to walk and he follows. I stop when I feel him touch one of the arrows in my carrier."This is your arrow." he states.
"Yes, Sire." He sighs deeply.
"I owe you a great debt. You saved my life and the life of the Queen."
"You do not owe me anything."
"Indeed I do. When I say I owe, I owe." My eyes widened. I am afraid I have angered him, but he only smiles. He looks at the arrow once again. "How good are you?" I reach forward, take the arrow from him, and fire. The arrow flew into the center of a barrel over thirty feet away.
"Will you come to Camelot?"
"Camelot." I repeat.
"Yes. I see you as having great potential to serve my kingdom."
The decision is not a hard one. Stay in this dreadful village and become a farmers wife or become a soldier of King Arthur. I nod my head that I will go. "Excellent." I nod again.
I watch my father as he shoes another horse, from a distance. He is angry with my choice. My mother is the same. I mount my horse and begin my short ride to the camp of the king.
The king had decided against his trip to see King Malcolm. We are now nearing Camelot. I have all ready struck up a friendship with several soldiers, including Prince Valiant and Arn. Arn, I have learned, is a commoner like myself. He is seeking knighthood. In the court of King Arthur. The hope of every soldier seems to be to become a knight of the Round Table. Knighthood does sound very noble. Only the best are trusted knights of Arthur.
I am brought inside a beautiful kingdom and castle. I am shown to the small room that will be my home. Only being there less than an hour, I hear a knock on the door. I am still surprised to see the king himself. In his hand is a folded garment. "How does your suit feel?"
"Strange. I have never worn link mail before. Heavy, constricting." He chuckles softly.
"You will get used to the feel of wearing it. You only need to wear the armor in battle or when away from the castle." I have worn the knights common clothing, the clothing worn under armor, when not in battle, since I was small, but the adding of chain mail will take much getting used to. "Arn and the others will help you. They seem to have taken an interest in you." I smile. "Now here are two things that define you as a member of my kingdom. Normally you would have to remain here and prove your loyalty, but you have all ready done that. You saved my life and that of the Queens without even a thought to your own safety. So, you have earned this."
He instructs to hold out my hands. I do and he places a tunic in them. The symbol I know from stories only and the flags. The symbol of Arthur, the Rising Sun. The other garment is a cape with the same symbol. "I will wear with pride, Your majesty."
"Do that. Now if you will excuse me, Rowanne. I must attend a meeting with my sage, Merlin." I bow my head as he leaves.
The cape is heavier than I thought, but comfortable in the colder air. The grayish color seems to match my other clothing. I find my new friend Arn in the practice area. I am also given a blade. Again with the Rising Sun on the hilt. I am as excellent with a sword as I am with a bow, but I prefer my bow. I surprise most of the men in the yard by defeating them one by one. My strength is greater than the average woman, but my best weapon seems to be my speed. "The queen is watching you." Arn whispered into my ear. I look up to the balcony nearest us and the queen was watching me. I make eye contact and do a slight bow. She smiles and waves for me to continue.
In the midst of my match with Baran, I am awestruck. I watch as a small woman carries a load of wood towards the nearest castle door. I smile as I watch two guards argue with each other as to who gets to help the beautiful creature first. I stop my match, return my sword to its scabbard, and slip past the arguing men to reach the woman. Just as she is about to drop her burden, I grab it and steady her. It startles her and she turns. "Thank you." she smiles. "Its heavy."
"Yes it is....Here." I take the entire bundle from her and gesture for her to open the door.
"You dont have to help, but thank you again."
"No trouble at all....."
"Kathryn." I nearly drop my burden.
"Kathryn...Daughter of King Malcolm?" I as as she leads me inside, showing me where
to place the bundle.
"Yes. Niece of King Arthur." she says with a little humor. I drop the wood by the fire and do the appropriate bow. Kathryn scowls at me. "Dont do that. I am not worthy of a bow.
"May I ask why you are carrying wood? That is the job of the kitchen hands...."
"I know." she interrupts, rather annoyed. "I like to actually do something around here. Something useful."
"I understand." I smile. I start to leave.
"May I have your name, Soldier?" she asks. "I have never seen a woman dress like a man in this kingdom, but I must say it becomes you."
"Thank you, Lady..."
"Kathryn. Just Kathryn."
"Kathryn......I am Rowanne."
"Yes. You know me?"
"I know of you. The news of your selfless act to save the king has spread through the entire kingdom. You are the only woman admitted into the ranks of Arthur. You should feel honored."
"Indeed I do. I hope to become more than a soldier."
"More than a soldier?"
"A knight." I said, with a serious tone. A smile creeps across her face, but it isnt a mocking one.
"That is quite a task. Are you up for the challenge?"
"Then I am interested to see the results, Rowanne."
"I will try not to disappoint you."
"I dont think you could." she smiles. "You better go. Practice is taken very seriously. If you miss any of it, Sir Baran will have your hide."
"Youre right. I hope I can see you again, Kathryn."
"Of course. Now go."
My conversation with Kathryn led me to the throne room of the king. He was sitting so regally. So was Queen Guinevere. I was nervous about the idea of disturbing them, but I must say my peace. "Ahhhhh. Rowanne." I hear the voice of Guinevere.
"Come in." she waves courteously.
"Hello Rowanne." Arthur adds.
"My wife tells me you are quite the fighter." he smiles. "How do like the blade? All right?"
"Yes, Sire. Very good weapon."
"Good, good.....Was there something you wanted?"
"Yes, Sire........I know I am only a soldier and have not been in Camelot very long."
"I wish to seek knighthood." They exchange glances. Nervously I continue. "I wish to become a real part of this kingdom."
"That is very noble, Rowanne." the king smiles. "You do realize there are no female knights anywhere?"
"Yes, Sire." I watch as he scratches his beard in thought.
"Every knight of my kingdom must pass my requirements by training. Its a privilege that is earned." I nod my understanding.
"If you pass the tests and train along with my other soldiers, I see no reason why you cannot become a knight as well."
"However." I did not like the way he said that. "You will have to train just as hard as any man."
"I realize that, my liege."
"Good. Then go. Train."
"I will not disappoint you, Sire." He smiles a compassionate smile.
"I know I can count on you."
Having the most difficult task out of the way, asking the king, I decide to take a stroll through the grounds. I find Kathryn deep in conversation with a merchant. I go and stand beside her. She notices me as she finishes her shopping. "Hello Rowanne."
"You are quite the bargainer."
"I asked King Arthur." I watched as she picked up a second basket. I take it from her grasp and begin following her.
"Asked him about knighthood?"
"He said as long as I trained, he will grant me knighthood."
"Thats great, Rowanne." I smile. "Do you mind helping me home?"
"Of course not."
Kathryn also lives within the castle, but in a much more elaborate part. Her room was filled with luxury. Fruit laden trays, a full fireplace, canopy bed. I was in awe. The kings chamber itself couldnt be much more extravagant. "May I ask you a question?"
"Sure. You did help me, twice."
"Why do you not live with your father?" My question made her sad and I immediately regret it. "Im sorry."
"No, its okay. I was a product of a union before my father married his
queen." I wait for her to continue. "My mother died at my birth. He married for
the first time to another woman. He does love me very much. I just dont particularly
care for my stepmother. Unless they never bare children, I will not take the throne."
She sits down onto her bed and pats the space next to her. I move to her and remove my sword so I can sit next to her. "What about you?"
"I am nobody special. My father is a simple blacksmith that makes a decent living in Bridgeford. They never understood how my brain works." I smile.
"You mean about not being very ladylike and wanting to do more important tasks?"
"I understand." she said quietly. I have no idea why, but I leaned forward and kissed Kathryn. I was relieved to see a grin on her face.
"Do you fight as well as you kiss?"
"Then you will be a knight." I chuckle. I lean forward and kiss her again, this time not pulling back.
I awoke to the sound of chaos. I did not even realize I had fallen asleep on Rowannes bed. The last thing I remember was holding her in my arms as I kissed her. I remember being very tired.
I scramble out of her bed as the bell is being sounded. We are massing our forces for some reason. "Rowanne?"
"Stay here." I strap on my sword and grabbed my bow, putting it across my back. I run out in the hallway. Guards are running for the courtyard. I make a quick detour to my room to grab my chest plate and armor. My blood is running hot. My first battle serving King Arthur.
I mount my horse and join the rest of my company of soldiers. I get looks from those who I have not met, but I am sure that Kathryn was right about my presence being very well known. I hear the commander, Prince Valiant, scream the command to move out. I hear the loud sound of clanking metal as the foot soldiers begin moving out of the castle. My fear increases as I feel the wooden gate under my horses hooves, meaning we are leaving the safety of the castle walls.
We move into the border woods. I have no idea who we are fighting, but I believe it is the men of the Duke of Lions Gate. Self proclaimed rival of Camelot. I know from messengers that Arthur has tried every diplomatic skill he has to keep a war from happening. If it is true, I may have picked a bad time to come to Camelot.
To Be Continued.......
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