Violent Content Warning: This story contains scenes of a violent nature.
Alternative Warning: This story also contains 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.
Authors Notes: This is the second installment of my "Rowanne" series.
The Only One:
The Story of Rowanne
In front of me there were men on foot and on horseback. I could see the enemy up on the Southern hill. Not good. We will have to fight uphill. We come to a stop where the cover trees end, out of sight. I watch as the commanders ride ahead to get their orders from Prince Valiant. I am lucky to have my mount. I feel much better on horseback than on the ground. Arn stops his horse next to mine. "What do you think they are going to do, Rowanne?" I thought for a moment, looking at my surroundings.
"Surround the hill in the brush so we wont be seen." He looked nervously at me.
"This is my first battle." he smiles.
"Mine too." I smile back.
"But youve fought before right?"
"Well against invaders, protecting my village, but not legions of soldiers." Conversation was halted as we watched our commander rode back to his place.
We saw the front company break off and head to the right. "We have the left, far side." he announced. I sighed. That means we will have to go completely around the hill to get into position. I was not liking that idea. I kicked my mount forward and fell in step with the rest. It was a slow process trying to traverse the distance without being seen. From our vantage point, we knew we were not outnumbered. In fact, we outnumbered them almost two to one. I like those odds.
When every man was in place, Prince Valiant and Sir Conner rode out from the protection of the trees, from next to our position. "Archers....Forward." The first line of bows men stepped up, still unseen, to cover them. I am good with my bow, but I would not be a bows men. We watched as the apparent general and another man began to ride down from the hill. Every soldier was tense. Hands were resting on their weapons at the ready. Even my hand had unconsciously moved to the hilt of my sword.
The four men began to converse. The distance was too great for me to know exactly what they were saying. From the body language of the general, he is feeling pretty confident with his ability to defeat Camelot. I doubt he has any idea how many men are waiting on a simple nod of Valiants head. I can tell Valiant is giving him a warning to return to his kingdom. I felt it. I looked up and strained my eyes to see a lone man crouching to avoid being seen. "Sir." I whisper. My commander looks over.
"What is it?"
"There." I point at the man that apparently no one can see. Then Arn sees him as well.
"Go." He beckons to the first three men. They heal their horses out and ride for the would-be assassin. Sir Conner sees him now also and gives the signal for the men to take him. From the hilltop, an arrow is fired. Reflexively I grab my bow and ready it. The arrow misses Valiant by inches.
"Ahhhhh!!" Valiant screams the signal to emerge from our hiding place as he draws his weapon. The general and his man ride hard back towards the hill before they could be captured. We are all now in plain sight. We wait for our orders. From our side of the hill, we can see a company of infantrymen lining up with our company in a defensive gesture. I grip the reins of my horse tighter.
A roar is heard as the men charge down the hill. Why they charge I have no idea. Now I am forced to focus on the men in front of us, losing sight of what is happening elsewhere. I place an arrow on my bowstring and aim. My commander rides up next to me. "Wait." he says slowly. He is counting on my superior aim to take out the most dangerous man, the apparent leader on horseback wielding a mace. He is several feet in front of his men.
"Wait." he repeats. "NOW!" I fire. My aim is true and I strike him solidly in the middle of his chest. He falls heavily from the running horse. The signal given, the rest of our companys bows men fire. Now they step back and yield to the mounted soldiers, us.
The men are fast approaching. More were picked off by the arrows. I replace my bow. I will not be able to defend myself if I take the time to fire another shot. I draw my sword and charge with the rest of the first wave. One man and I locked eyes. He had centered me out as his victim. He swings his sword, missing me by feet. I swing my horse back around, at the same time swinging my sword. The man falls to the ground. My first kill in the name of Camelot, but I have no time for remorse. I must fight for my life as more men approach me.
I here a man coming from behind me. Before I have a chance to reposition my mount, I feel the weight of him as he jumps onto my horse behind me. I draw my boot dagger. He tries to force me out of the saddle. His fellow soldiers are falling very easily to the trained legions of King Arthur. He is surprised when I do not move. I lift my arm and drive the blade into him. He falls, pulling my horse off balance. She rears, but I hold firm. As she rears again, I am grabbed from behind and pulled from my saddle. The man throws me to the ground. In one swift motion, I jump back to my feet. I plant my feet as he charges with his battle spear. I grab the shaft and effectively wrestle it away from him. With a twist of my wrist, I bring the bottom of the spear around hitting him solidly on the chin. I then reverse my grip bringing the tip down, ready to finish him.
I hear a sudden cheering. I am finally able to take a look around. We have won. Not a soldier is standing. Many fled. Only one fourth seemed to be casualties. A few have fled back up the hill. Prince Valiant rides up to me. I throw the spear down, knowing there is no reason to kill him. "Come on Rowanne. I need you and Arn." he calls. A soldier brings me my horse.
"Thank you." I say as I swing back onto her back. Arn and I ride hard behind Valiant as we climb the hill. We saw a few men still up on the hill, the general is one of them. The coward did not follow or lead his men into battle. I noticed the large imprint of the Lion on his tunic. We stop in front of him. Arn and I remain right behind him. I put on my best battle face. He gives me a look. I know that look. The look of disbelief that a woman is on the battlefield.
"You have won this battle, Valiant." he gruffs. "My father will not look fondly upon your act of war."
Not only was this the general of the forces of Lions Gate, but also the son. "I imagine the Duke of Lions Gate would not look fondly upon a cowardly son either." Valiant smirks. Arn and I exchange smiles. "Tell him that it was act of war having a military presence in our kingdom. We asked you repeatedly to move on. You refused. So, we removed you."
"My father will hear of this." he spat.
"Oh Im sure he will. Theres a carrier pigeon on its way to your father now. A complete recount of this battle, including the lack of participation on your part." As expected, that got his attention. "It also says not to return to our kingdom. Take your wounded and dead and move on.....NOW!" He motions to his man.
We three turn our horses back down the hill. "Rowanne." Valiant says, as we begin moving down. He has a look of concern on his face. "Your arm." he gestures. I look down and for the first time I notice the scratch running the length of my forearm. "Be sure to get a bandage for that." I nod. "Good job, Rowanne." he smiles. "You handled yourself quite well. Ill make sure King Arthur hears of this."
"Are you kidding?" Arn said. "She was great. He probably all ready heard something." he chuckles.
I held my head high as I returned home. It was nearly dark when we arrived. Just as Arn predicted, news of the battle was all ready spreading. The peasants cheered as our company returned home. We lost no men this time. I know most battles are not as fortunate. Lions Gate deaths were minimal as well. I parted company with my two friends and stabled my horse. Tired, I headed into the castle towards my room. As soon as I was once again in the hallways, my mind drifted to Kathryn. No sooner than that thought crossed my mind, than she appeared. "Rowanne." she said happily. I opened my arms when she was close enough and she ran into them. Her embrace was fierce.
"Whats wrong?" I asked over her shoulder. She would not let me pull away to see her face.
"Ive been so worried about. Im glad youre safe."
"Im all right." I assure her. She lets go and I can see those beautiful eyes once again. She smiles at me. I lean forward and tenderly kiss her on the lips.
"Rowanne." She had absently placed her hand on my arm. "Your hurt."
she said sadly. I allow her to roll up my sleeve and look at my wound. It is nothing more
than a deep scratch, but it is enough to worry her. "Go to my room. Ill get
some things from the kitchen."
"GO!" I turn and make my way to the better part of the castle, one I feel ackward being in. The guard I passed stopped me.
"Good fight." he smiles, patting me on the shoulder.
"Sure was." I comment and proceed to her door.
Kathryn returns with a cloth bandage, water, and a small red bottle. "Take it off." she gestures to my chest plate and the rest of my armor. I remove it piece by piece until I am once again a commoner. She opens the bottle and dabs the contents onto a cloth.
"Whats that?" I ask as she places it on my arm. "Ahhhhhh!" I jump, but she holds me in my place. "Ahhh!" She continues to dab the cloth along the length of the cut. "It stings." I hiss, barely able to control the watering in my eyes brought on by the sudden sensation.
"It will help prevent infection."
"You could have warned me." I whimpered as she began to wrap my injured arm.
"Im sorry. I didnt know you never used this before. I should have told you it would sting." she smiled as she replaced the stopper of the bottle.
"Thank you." I say just above a whisper.
My eyes open slowly. My vision is blurred, but I know where I am. I am still in Merlins chambers. I wet my dry lips. "Kathryn." I cough as I finish the one word I managed to say. I feel her fingers on my face.
"Im here, my love." she said quietly. My eyes move to her lovely face. The wetness in her eyes and the streaks down her face give away that she has been crying. I try to move, but I have no energy. "Rest." she says firmly. I look down and see that I am covered in a thin sheet. I feel that my tunic is no longer there. I feel a bandage wrapped around my abdomen. I see a small mirror to my right. I look at my reflection. I am a sight. All color has drained from my skin. I am dying.
I watch as Kathryn lifts the sheet to check my bandages. "How bad?" I asked. She meets my eyes.
"Bad." She knows not to hide the truth from me. "However, you are not leaving me." I smile at her belief in me.
"Whats happening? The battle?" I ask. I knew we were stronger than our enemy, but there were more of them than us.
"You dont worry about that. Arn and Valiant are handling it just fine. In fact, they are being driven back across the border as we speak." We both share a smile as she tucks the
sheets around me.
The sound of the door opening turns both our heads. A soldier from my company comes in. "Sir Rowanne." It was taken some getting used to, the title. I have earned it.
"What is it?" I ask.
"Sir Arn and Prince Valiant sent me back to get a report on your condition."
"Shes hurt." Kathryn steps forward, placing her body between me and my soldier. "She is hurt badly, but I know shes going to live. Now go." The man bows and exits as quickly as he came in.
I look at my love. I can tell the emotions are taking there toll on her mind. "I love you." I say without much thought. None required. Her face softens.
"I love you, too.......Now rest. I will not be going anywhere."
"The bed is big enough for two."
"I dont want to hurt you."
"You wont. Please." She needs no further encouragement. Kathryn lies down next to me and I put my arm around her.
I am wakened by the sound of another in the room. I open my eyes. I feel the weight of Kathryn still next to me. I see the long, white beard. "How are you feeling, young lady? You seem better."
"I am. Thank you, Merlin." He lifts the sheet enough to remove the dressing on my stomach. Normally I would be offended and angered at a man looking at my body, but I trust Merlin. He is a very skilled healer. "Merlin?"
"What happened to me?" I watched as he stirred the contents of a small bowl.
"You were sliced, quite deeply I might add, by a sword just below your chest plate and then stabbed." The seriousness of my wounds caused me to sigh heavily. "You have lost a great deal of blood, but my dear, the fact you are alive now is important."
"Did she see me?" I reflexively squeeze my love. He nods his head, confirming what I knew.
"You were screaming in pain shortly after you were brought it. Poor thing was hysterical with worry." He takes the mixture and dabs it lightly on my wound.
"I feel no pain, just exhausted."
"Falsana berries and ponta root." he smiles. "Until the dosage I gave you wears off, you will feel no pain. You passed out before I could give it to you when you were conscious."
"Will I live, Merlin?" I did not want to leave my love or my kingdom.
"Rest Rowanne. I have a feeling you will. A sage is never wrong." he smiles. Whatever he had done to me was once again pulling me back into the dream world. My Kathryn. I love you.
"Will I live?" I smirk at Kathryn playfully as she puts the finishing touches on my injured arm.
"Yes." A knock is heard on her door. We exchange looks. Mine is fearful. I doubt I am supposed to be in Lady Kathryns room. She pats my hand as we both stand and move to the door. "Yes?" she asks the Paige at her door. The young man swallows nervously.
"I have a message for Rowanne."
"I am Rowanne." I step around Kathryn and exit the room.
"King Arthur requests your presence in the throne room, Mame."
"Yes Mame." I watch him walk away from us.
"Whats going on, Love?" Kathryn asked.
"I dont know....but I will find out." I turn and kiss her goodbye, knowing no guards are near us.
Once again I walk into the throne room. This time I am more relaxed, to a certain degree. I see Prince Valiant talking to the king. I see the queen reading. She looks up from her book and smiles. Her eyes. Something about her eyes that makes that smile look anything but innocent. However, I know she is a big supporter of my stay here. Perhaps maybe too much of a supporter. I nod in her direction. She returns it, with a wink. I did not imagine that. "Sire." I bow.
"Rowanne I want to extend my personal thanks for your efforts today."
"Thank you, Sire."
"You certainly have a sharp eye, young lady." I smile sheepishly at him. "You saw that extra man before any of my hardened soldiers did. You have passed another obstacle. You have proven that you will not run from the enemies of Camelot. Instead, risk personal injury." He gestures to my wrapped forearm. "Okay?"
"Just a scratch."
"Good. Now I want you, Arn, and Valiant to escort me tomorrow morning to Falling Brook field. There I will meet with my brother Malcolm and King Paron of Noresa." I nod my understanding. "Northland and Noresa are our two strongest northern allies and they too have had confrontations with the Duke of Lions Gate." I have a feeling this personal assignment will be one of the most important ones I will ever have.
I report the next morning to Valiant, later we are joined by Arn and King Arthur. Guarding the king will be a very stressful and terrifying experience, but it is an honorable task which I pray I am worthy of.
The journey to Falling Brook is very short. When we see a traveler heading in our direction, I immediately become nervous, but remember my job. Arn and I are following directly behind Arthur and Valiant is to his right. King Arthur stops his mount a few feet away from the stranger. He is wearing a symbol I do not recognize. The king motions to his left. I walk my horse around from behind him. He motions to his right and Arn does the same on the other side. We walk past the stranger, meeting directly behind him and stopping. He looks nervously between us and the king. "State your business." Arthur said sternly.
"I am a messenger from the kingdom Dervia." Dervia is also a northern realm, but not one we consider an ally. King Arthur has made numerous attempts at peace talks and treaties, but they simply want to be left alone.
"What is a messenger for Dervia doing in Camelot?" Valiant asks suspiciously.
"King William wants to know why the court of Camelot did not invite him to the talks." My king sighs heavily.
"King William has refused countless meetings. Why is this one so important?"
"Because if he is not an ally of Camelot, he will be an enemy."
"Is that a threat?" King Arthur said in a low tone. One I hope I never hear in a conversation directed at me.
"He is allying himself with Lions Gate." We exchange worried looks.
"That is a mistake. If we are to have peace, we must stop warring with ourselves and deal with the true enemy, Lions Gate." The messenger shrugs.
"Get out of my kingdom......And I suggest you do it quickly." Arthur said. I smile. We move our mounts out of the way as the man turns around and kicks his horse into a full gallop.
We arrive without further incident. I keep my eyes on Malcolm almost the entire time. He is the father of my beloved Kathryn. He seems gentle and loving in nature. However, his queen also has come. Just by watching her interact with the guards and King Parons wife, I can see why my love cant stand her. She is very moody to say the least, bitter to the core. She has all ready made the comment that a woman in mans clothing is unnatural. I simply brushed the comment aside. After several hours the three had devised a plan to join against Lions Gate. I am genuinely worried about the safety of all our kingdoms. The Duke will bring nothing but chaos and destruction to our lands, if he wins.
When I returned, I found Kathryn in my room. "Why are you here?"
"If you want me to leave....."
"No, no. I just meant why leave your luxury?"
"I keep telling you.....to be with you." I kiss her softly as her arms wrap around my neck. There is a hint of sadness in her voice.
"How is my father?" Kathryn asked quietly.
"Well.....Nice man." She smiles.
"Yes he is. I miss him so much at times."
"Why dont you go and visit?"
"I always end up fighting with my stepmother and making everyone miserable."
"Its not you." I grasp her by the shoulders. "If anyone makes things miserable, its that bitter old wench." Kathryn chuckles.
"For agreeing with me."
"A blind man can see the nasty demeanor in that womans mind."
My room is not as comfortable as Kathryns, but it served its purpose. I laid her down on my bed and removed all my armor, weapons, and boots. I joined her in my bed. She placed her head on my shoulder and one arm draped over my chest. "Goodnight." I said.
"Goodnight, Rowanne." she yawned. I did not fall asleep right away. I couldnt because I was enjoying having her in my arms. I kissed the top of her head before closing my eyes.
A knock on my door wakes me from a wonderful dream. I groan as I lift the blanket and leave the warmth of my bed, trying not to wake Kathryn. "Scroll, Mame." The boy hands me a small scroll.
"Thank you." I close my door and begin to unroll it. I go to the table and sit down next to the candle I left burning.
Come to the west side of the gardens immediately.
I glance to my bed and see my love sound asleep. Who is G? It could be a trap, but who would want to harm me in Camelot? Still, I am worried. I move to the bed and pick up my scabbard. Despite my efforts to be quiet, I trip on the bedpost as I pass it. "Rowanne." I hear from the bed.
"Go back to sleep." I say as I lace up my boots.
"Where are you going? Its the middle of the night."
"Someone wants to see me." I wrap my cape around my shoulders.
"I dont know, Love."
"I want to go with you."
"No, you stay here. I wont be long. I promise." I kiss her softly on the lips.
"Be careful." she said worriedly.
My stomach turns as I enter the deserted gardens. It is dark, but the torches in the distance provide enough light to see where I am going. I have had my sword drawn since leaving the castle. I walk past the birdbath, almost running into it. I hear the noise of a person breathing. I turn swiftly around. "Whos there?" No answer. "Show yourself." I hear the stranger step out of the surrounding bushes.
"You came." I turn again, towards the voice and see my stranger. I lower my sword. I knew it was immediately. Why was I here?
To Be Continued.......
Return to The Bard's Corner