The King and Her Queen
Chapter 12: The Rose
Illuminated by dim lamplight, they picked their way around the rubble
of the great hall. Since the stones were no longer translucent,
the great hall felt more like a great cave. Rin's heart twisted
with guilt as she passed by the crater in the middle of the hall.
She and Bedivere walked toward the east wing. The recent events
replayed over and over in her mind. She could not believe that it
She wanted to be free of those memories, even for a moment.
Perhaps, a bit of meditation would help. The rose garden would be
best with its inlaid geometric patterns for rituals. She would
need Bedivere's cooperation first.
"What is it, Milady?"
"I would like to meditate for a few moments. Today weighs heavily
upon mine mind, and I would like to lift that burden before I
sleep. Canst thou wait for half an hour before taking me back to
the east wing?"
Bedivere tapped the pommel of her sword thoughtfully. Before they
left, Merlyn told her to bring Rhynne back to the east wing when they
returned. However, Rhynne's request did not seem too extravagant,
so she scrutinized Rhynne and tried to discern if she had any ulterior
motives. Finding none, she replied, "Yea, but only if thou
promise not to go anywhere else but the rose garden. When the
time comes, I will meet thee there."
Rin smiled gratefully. "Mine thanks."
She made her way to the hallway which led to the rose garden.
Even in the hallway, the scent of roses floated in the air. She
inhaled the scent deeply and felt refreshed. She grasped the
handle of the stained glass door and opened it.
The sight that greeted her in the rose garden almost stopped her
heart. Arturia floated upright in mid-air in the middle of the
triangle of inlaid pebbles. She was wearing her familiar battle
armor. Her eyes were closed and her face was
expressionless. A golden scabbard glowed in front of her and
produced streams of bright mana into her upturned palms. The
glyphs on her palms glowed bright red as the mana was absorbed.
Rin approached her cautiously and stepped into the triangle, calling
out, "Arturia... Arturia... canst thou hear me?"
Arturia made no response. For a few moments, Rin watched her
intently. Then her eyes shifted to the golden scabbard. It
was similar to the scabbard that she saw in King Arthur's portrait, so
it was probably Avalon.
Her gaze returned to Arturia. She wondered what happened.
As she gazed at her, Arturia seemed to become translucent for an
instant. Rin's heart was seized with a terrible feeling that her
condition was related to Shiro's disappearance. She had lost
Shiro, but maybe she can do something to help Arturia. Careful
not to disrupt the mana flow from Avalon, she reached out to hold
The garden melted away into an abandoned warehouse. She was
stepping on someone's neck. Her stomach threatened to expel its
contents when she recognized the man under her armored boot.
"Father!" she cried out. But her father did not seem to
She heard herself speak in Arturia's voice, "Your orders, Master?"
In the dim light, she saw Kiritsugu Emiya standing nearby.
However, his face bore none of the gentleness shown in his picture at
A gloved hand pointed to a dismembered arm about five feet away.
"With all due respect, Master, the command seals have been
nullified. But if you insist, I will ask you to surrender a
"Command seals can be placed anywhere on the body. And Berserker
needs a master."
Her fear rose within her and she felt like retching it out.
Unfortunately, she could not do anything except watch in silence as
master and servant regarded each other.
A few moments later, she spoke, "May I propose an alternative, Master?"
"What?" asked Kiritsugu irritably.
"Separate his soul from his body temporarily. When the war is
over, return his soul to him. That way, you will not waste a
Kiritsugu looked thoughtful. Then he said gruffly, "I don't want
to waste mana."
"Then I will lend you mine. I recover faster than you and shall
regain the mana back in a few hours."
Kiritsugu rubbed his chin. "All right, if it'll make you
happy." He knelt on one knee next to her father. His words
dripped with derision. "Hey, Toki-kun... any last words?
You can even tell me what you want from the Grail. If it's easy,
I'll get it for you."
"B--bastard!" Her father's voice was raw, choking with
spittle. "You want what I want, and you know it! I hope you
lose! Anyone else would be a better disciple for Master!"
Kiritsugu laughed. "Someone else can be his disciple for all I
"What?" exclaimed her father in a bewildered voice.
Kiritsugu voice dropped with disgust. "I'm not like you,
following another man's shadow. Good-bye, Toki-kun."
Kiritsugu plunged his hand into her father's chest. Rin screamed
in protest, wishing with all her might to stop him. Suddenly, a
sharp pain erupted from her side and she was sent flying through the
She landed heavily on the ground. Fist-sized objects spilled over
her face and chest. She brushed them off in panic.
"Stupid girl! Can ye at least stop and think!?" Merlyn's
voice echoed in the garden and attacked her ears.
Rin's brain snapped to attention when she heard Merlyn's voice.
She propped herself up on her elbows and pushed aside the sack of
potatoes on top of her. She quickly assumed the seiza position
and bowed deeply. "Forgive me, Master..."
Merlyn rubbed her forehead with exasperation. "Just... just dinna
touch her again. Ye could have been pulled into yer past."
Rin gaped with astonishment and horror. "I... I thought I was
seeing Arturia's memories as a servant..."
"Nay... she has been summoned as a servant. I have managed to
keep her physical form in this time by using Avalon." She sighed
and her sigh seemed so sad. Merlyn beckoned her. "Come,
lass. Leave her be. We shall speak of this in the morn."
Rin obeyed and followed Merlyn. Along the way, they met Bedivere
who flushed with embarrassment when she saw Merlyn. Merlyn simply
threw her a disapproving glance, and she withered away under its
might. Bedivere managed to mumble, "Good night." and began to
"Arturia is in the rose garden." said Merlyn curtly. "Dinna
Bedivere's face went pale. She swallowed and nodded in
acknowledgement. Then, with hurried strides, she strode past them
towards the rose garden.
Merlyn led her back to her room in the east wing. "Sleep well,
lass. I have a lot of questions fer ye tomorrow." With
that, Merlyn walked down the hall to her quarters.
Rin changed to her nightgown and flopped down on her bed. How was
she supposed to get any sleep after such a horrible day?
Because of Merlyn's enforced isolation, she had breakfast by herself in
Airianne's study. Bored, her eyes wandered about the room until
they landed on the map. She put her muffin down and hesitantly
hovered her hand over the crystal. Gathering her courage, she
Arturia's image flickered in the rose garden. She was still
wearing her armor. Memories from last night tore at her heart and
she quickly dispelled the image. She went back to her meal and
finished it in silence.
About half an hour later, Merlyn and Bedivere came. They sat down
on the table where she was seated.
Merlyn leaned back in her seat. "Tell me what happened."
Rin drew a deep breath and told Merlyn about how they found and lost
Shiro. Then they went to the monastery to find Brother
Jacob. Brother Jacob revealed that the archbishop and Shiro met
the day before. Shiro had spoken to the archbishop privately and
spent the rest of the day with him. The next day, the archbishop
announced that he was leaving to see the archbishop of Lundein.
They set out very early in the morning. Shiro came about an hour
after the archbishop and his entourage left. When he found out
that they were gone, Shiro indicated that he was going to follow them.
After Brother Jacob finished, Bedivere asked to see the Grail.
They were escorted to a spartan room whose only extravagance was a
marble altar. He opened a small silver cabinet on the altar with
gloved hands. In it was a small tin goblet.
Bedivere bowed her head and extended her hands toward the goblet as if
she was praying. After five minutes, she lowered her hands and
prostrated herself. Brother Jacob closed the cabinet.
Bedivere thanked Brother Jacob and told them that they were leaving for
a previous engagement. They exchanged farewells and left the
"Well?" asked Merlyn anxiously. "Is it safe?"
Bedivere's face fell. "Nay. I could not sense the Holy
Merlyn stood up and paced about while cursing loudly in Welsh.
Although she could not understand all of her words, Rin cringed at the
words that she did understand. Bedivere's face turned a shade of
green which indicated that she understood all of it.
Merlyn banged her a fist against the door of a wooden cabinet so
forcefully that wood split in two. She stared at broken door for
a moment and waved her hand. The wood knitted together to fix the
She sighed remorsefully. "What's done is done. All this
time, I hath been one step behind." She sat down on the armchair
and buried her face in her hands.
"A step behind?" echoed Rin. "Master, pray, elaborate."
Merlyn shook her head. "Nay, tis no matter." Her face grew
serious. "Right now, we must look to Arturia's condition.
To do so, I will need everything that ye know about the Wars."
Rin shuddered and recalled the unpleasant experience of Merlyn reading
her mind. She kept silent.
Merlyn noticed Rhynne's apprehension. "I cannae do this without
reading yer mind. I understand that ye can speak to me about it,
but I need to see it for mine self. So, please... aid me by
concentrating on the memories that art related to the Wars.
Twould be easier fer me since I dinna have to search through yer
mind. E'en with mine skill, mind reading tires me and uses a lot
Hesitantly, Rin replied, "As ye command, Master." She closed her
eyes and tried to recollect all her studies and experiences about the
War and the Holy Grail. Merlyn laid her hands on her head and she
felt the surge of her mana. This time, however, she was not sent
reeling through an abyss. Instead, she walked through her
memories like a silent and calm observer.
It seemed like hours before she was finally released from the
spell. She leaned back into her seat and breathed a sigh of
relief. When she opened her eyes, she was surprised to see Merlyn
leaning against Bedivere. Bedivere helped her to an
armchair. Merlyn closed her eyes and appeared to fall
asleep. Rin glanced at her watch. It was over two hours
since they started.
Bedivere beckoned her and whispered, "Come... let her rest."
Rin followed Bedivere. They walked out of the east wing.
"Whither goest thou?" asked Rin.
"The Library. Merlyn suggested that thou search the books about a
cure for Arturia's malady."
"I see. I will do mine best."
"And I will pray that thou will find it."
Bedivere's words echoed her own fears. Silently, Rin prayed as
They met with Merlyn late in the afternoon in Airianne's study.
She paced up and down as she explained her theories.
"Tis obvious that Shiro's disappearance is related to Arturia's
malady. Shiro was her previous master, and served as her link
within this time. Furthermore, when he disappeared, Arturia's
spirit was drawn to the master before him, which is his foster father,
"And thank the fates! She was not drawn completely to him."
She looked sharply at Rin. "The glyphs on her hands forged a
weaker link... with ye. I saw them glow brightly when she was
disappearing. Twas then that I used Avalon to strengthen that
link and moved her to the rose garden to sustain her physical form in
this time. However, the other half of her spirit lies outside
this time. That is why ye were able to see yer own past."
Rin bowed her head as memories of her father's funeral replayed in her
mind. When she was old enough to understand the police report,
she thought that one of the knight class servants had killed her
comatose father in the hospital.
"I dinna know if Arturia used Excalibur while Kiritsugu was her
master. To prevent inconsistencies with time, ye must yield
Excalibur over to her." When Rin did not respond at once, Merlyn
stared at her. A great sadness was written all over Rin's
face. Carefully, she probed Rin's mind and walked over to lay a
hand on her shoulder. "Mine apologies fer yer loss, lass."
"None needed Master. I... I will overcome mine grief in time."
"Forgive her, lass. I ask this as her friend, not yer master."
Rin was not sure how to answer. If she forgave her, would she
betray her father? Her thoughts wandered to all those nights when
she waited for his return and went to sleep dreaming of the day when he
would open the gate and take her into his arms. But that day
never came, and now, she knew why.
Merlyn waited patiently for Rin to answer. When she saw the pain
on Rin's face, she realized that she had to convince her that it was
not entirely Arturia's fault. "Kiritsugu would have returned his
soul after the war. I am sure of that."
Merlyn's words shook her thoughts. If his body remained intact,
and if Kiritsugu returned his soul, her father would still be
alive. She bit her lip. Even though Merlyn had made a good
point, she could not ignore the fact that his body died and that
Kiritsugu kept his soul or destroyed it. But these last two facts
did not involve Arturia. At least, she could take some comfort in
Merlyn observed Rin's reactions. She seemed to be weighing her
last statement about Kiritsugu. For now, she had to be satisfied
that Rin would not lay all the blame on Arturia. And now, she had
to determine how much Rin cared for Arturia.
"There may be a way to make Arturia whole." She paused and waited
for Rin's reaction.
Rin's head jerked up and she half rose from her seat. "There is?"
Merlyn was pleased with her initial reaction. "Aye. When a
servant is defeated, his spirit returns to the Throne of Heroes.
Tis likely that the other half of Arturia's spirit will be found there."
Rin leaned forward. "Do ye know where it is, Master?"
"The Throne is not in the physical realm. Tis in a realm beyond
time and space. Ne'ertheless, methinks I know of a way to reach
it. Einzbern's history indicated that they hath attempted to
force their will upon the Throne of Heroes. But, if they were
successful in doing so, then the Wars would not be. Methinks that
they hath managed to find a way to reach it, but not a way to master
it. Furthermore, methinks that the gateway to the Throne lies
hidden within their ancestral lands."
"Tis in Germany!" Rin said excitedly. Rin was glad that she
had gotten over her initial dislike for Illya and that she had asked
her about her family's history. To her amazement, Illya
cheerfully replied to all her questions. "I hath seen their
castle from afar. Tis good news, Master! We can go there at
once and search for it."
"Nay, lass. I cannae go with ye. I am needed here, in this
place, in this TIME." Merlyn emphasized her last word.
Her mouth fell open as Merlyn's words began to sink in. Her voice
trembled as she tried to confirm what Merlyn said. "Ye mean...
that I must return to the future?"
"Aye. E'en if we go to the Saxon lands now, we will not find the
gate. The Wars started within a century of yer time. Tis
likely that the gate was constructed within that time as well."
Rin's knees buckled and she leaned on the table for support. She
knew that she would have to go back someday, and now, she had to.
It felt too soon. She did not want to leave without knowing that
Arturia was safe. But she must go to free Arturia's spirit from
the Throne of Heroes.
"Will ye go?"
Rin gathered her determination and stood straighter. "Yea... I
"E'en if it means leaving Arturia behind?"
Tears welled up in her eyes and she blinked to keep them in. In a
choking voice, she replied. "Yea."
"I am glad to hear it." Merlyn put a hand on her shoulder.
"I will teach ye all I can to help ye succeed. Bedivere will
instruct ye to improve yer battle skills. Once past the gate, the
rules of magic may not apply. Ye will need something else to rely
on." She took her hand away. "Prepare yerself, mine
apprentice. Yer task is great, and failure is unacceptable."
Rin swallowed and tried to look confident. "As we say in mine
time, 'Bring it on.'"
The days passed like the monotonic ticking of a clock. She spent
the mornings with Merlyn and the afternoons with Bedivere. Then,
one cloudy day, Merlyn came to her with a wide grin on her face and a
bundle of scrolls under her arm.
"Methinks that I hath found a way to further strengthen Arturia's
physical form. Tis a ritual that we can cast together."
Merlyn unfolded the scrolls on Rin's desk.
Rin beamed with joy. She eagerly listened as Merlyn translated a
scroll. To her relief, she discovered that she could read it on
her own. Rin cleared her throat.
"With all due respect, Master... I can read Welsh."
"Ye can?" said Merlyn incredulously. She handed the scroll
to Rin. "Read it to me then."
Rin did and watched with amusement as Merlyn's face betrayed her
surprise. When she was done, Merlyn laughed boisterously.
"So ye can! This makes it easier fer me. I dinna have to
translate those books in the library anymore. I can just tell ye
what ye need to read. Did ye learn Welsh at the Academy?"
"Nay." A pang of nostalgia poked Rin's heart. "Arturia
taught me." Her thoughts wandered to all those times they
practiced Welsh by the shores of that wonderful lake. It seemed
like a distant memory now.
"Oh... tis well then. Study the scrolls. I will be back in
an hour to discuss it with ye."
She did and discussed the ritual with Merlyn when she returned.
They agreed to cast it the next day. Rin was excited. If
the ritual was successful, Arturia would be able to maintain her
physical form within the Aerie. However, she would have to spend
a few hours in the rose garden to refresh the spell daily.
Before she went to sleep that night, she crept into Airianne's study
and activated the map to view Arturia. It made more sense
now: an incomplete servant for an incomplete master. And
what a pair they made! Rin was glad that she went against her
better judgement and Archer's to help them. For if she did not,
Shiro would surely be defeated, and with his defeat, Saber would
disappear. There was no way she could let that happen then, and
no way she could let it happen now. So when she went to sleep,
she dreamt of Arturia opening her eyes and grabbing her to bring her
into a tight embrace.
The next day, they cast the ritual perfectly. Rin watched with
bated breath as Arturia's form began to solidify. But her
attention was interrupted by Merlyn's hand on her arm.
"Bedivere will take ye back now. Ye can watch her on the map."
"Go." said Merlyn firmly.
Rin held back her disappointed tears as Bedivere escorted her to
Airianne's study. She rushed to the map and commanded it.
Arturia was leaning against Merlyn while Avalon and Excalibur floated
nearby. Then Merlyn carried her in her arms and laid her on the
cot that was within the boundaries of the reinforcing triangle.
Avalon and Excalibur followed and hovered near Arturia. Merlyn
sat down at a nearby table to begin her vigil over Arturia in order to
confirm that the spell would indeed maintain her form over time.
She watched for about five minutes before she dispelled the
image. Although Arturia's physical form was restored, she needed
to absorb more mana to sustain it. She can check again after four
hours. Rin breathed a sigh of relief and returned to her desk to
attack the mound of books that Merlyn wanted her to read. She
felt like she was in the academy again. However, instead of
aiming for a grade, she was aiming for Arturia's freedom. Drawing
on that for strength, she opened the first book and began to read.
Later that afternoon, Airianne came in with a tray of tea and
muffins. "Have a care and rest yer mind, Lady Rhynne." She
laid out the teapot and dishes on a nearby table.
"Mine thanks, Airianne." replied Rin gratefully. The scent
of the muffins made her mouth water.
"Mama sends her best." She placed a vase full of heather flowers
on the table.
"How lovely! I shall thank her for the beautiful flowers when I
Airianne looked at her inquiringly. "Do ye know what this flower
"Er... not really..."
"It means: may yer wish come true."
"I see." Her eyes misted over. "That's really thoughtful of
her. And thank ye for the tea and for telling me about the
She smiled warmly. "Ye're welcome. Anyway, please enjoy yer
Airianne curtsied and left. Rin quickly finished her tea and
muffins. Then she went to an adjoining room that gave her access
to the library. She placed her hand on a crystal ball. "A
book about the meaning of flowers."
A book appeared on the receiving mat on top of a nearby table.
She took it and went quietly to her room. She opened the top
drawer of her cabinet and carefully lifted the collection of pressed
flowers which she made from the bouquet that Arturia gave her.
She leafed through the book and tried to identify each flower.
"Dandelion... Happiness. Iris... Thy friendship means much to
me. Pansies... I think of thee. White lily... Purity, Tis
heavenly to be with thee. White Violets... Take a chance with me."
The words blurred before her and a tear stained the page. She
went to the map and commanded it. She saw an image of Arturia
sitting on her cot and eating from a tray. Rin's fingertips
hovered near her head in attempt to caress her and her heart whispered,
"I love you..."
She would have stood there for the rest of the day but she ended her
vigil when she heard footsteps in the hallway. With a regretful
sigh, she dispelled the image and went back to studying.
Arturia awoke to the sound of humming. She looked around and saw
Wybrenne seated at a table. She was picking off the petals from a
white rose and depositing them in a small basket. Two other small
baskets contained red and yellow petals.
"Good morning." Arturia sat up and rubbed her eyes.
"Good morning." replied Wybrenne. She continued to hum a
Arturia got out of bed and stretched out. Her limbs felt so
stiff. She had not felt this way since that long campaign against
the Saxons. Three days had passed since Merlyn cast the ritual to
cure her from her fainting malady. She felt that she should have
recovered by now. As she massaged her shoulders, she listened to
Wybrenne's humming. The melody seemed to tug at her heart.
"Pray, what is thy song, Lady Wybrenne?"
Wybrenne smiled and sang as an answer.
[Author's note: Recommended background music: The Rose]
Some say love tis a river
that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love tis a razor
that leaves thy soul to bleed.
Some say love tis a hunger
an endless aching need.
I say love tis a flower
and thee, its only seed.
Tis the heart afraid of breaking
that never learns to dance.
Tis the dream afraid of waking
that never takes the chance.
Tis the one who won't be taken
who cannot seem to give,
And the soul afraid of dying
that never learns to live.
When the night hast been too lonely
and the road hast been too long,
and thou thinkst that love is only
for the lucky and the strong.
Just remember in the winter
far beneath the bitter snows
lies the seed
that with the sun's love
in the spring
becomes the rose.
Arturia's hand rose to wipe away a tear. Then she clapped
appreciatively. Wybrenne bowed slightly at her applause.
"Didst Taliesin compose this song?" asked Arturia.
"Nay. Tis by mine own dear Merlyn. She called it, 'The
Rose'." replied Wybrenne. She snickered when she saw the
disbelief on Arturia's face.
"Is that so?" Arturia could not believe that Merlyn even had a
romantic bone in her body. Wybrenne's wide grin told her that it
"Tis so." With a twinkle in her eye, she added, "She takes pains
to hide it, since mine Merlyn is very shy when it comes to matters of
"Still... I find it hard to believe."
"Be not deceived by her gruff manner. Tis her way of masking her
nature. Ah... I vividly remember the first time I saw her..."
Arturia sat on the bed. "I would hear thy tale." After
three boring days in the rose garden, a good story was welcome relief
from the monotony.
"Tis a long one. Thy breakfast is behind thee. Partake of
thy meal whilst I tell mine tale."
Arturia hopped over the cot and grabbed the tray on a stool.
After placing it on her lap, she picked up a muffin and bit it.
Wybrenne smiled at her attentive audience and began her tale.
"One winter's night, a young bard appeared before the gates of
Rosenharte. She implored the gatekeeper."
"Please, lady... A rose in exchange for shelter from the
"The gatekeeper consulted the Lily Alliance. The falling snow
indicated that a storm was brewing. The Sisters gave their
consent. The bard seemed to be betwixt sixteen and twenty years
of age. She was dressed in a threadbare cloak, a patched tunic
and peasant skirt. Her gloves were ripped at the fingertips and
mismatched leather sandals adorned her feet. Slung on her
shoulder was a leather knapsack which contained her harp. Her
silver hair hung like a mop on her head. But what stood out of
her unkempt and shabby appearance were her piercing golden eyes."
"The Lily Alliance, three elder students, welcomed her. She
introduced herself as Lyn, the Cloud Singer. The sisters
introduced themselves as Lady Lloydia, Lady Nymphae and Lady
Majalis. They invited her to dinner. She sat at their table
and ate under the scrutiny of all the students in the hall. The
students exchanged whispered speculation about the bard and as each
speculation passed from ear to mouth, they grew into ridiculous
Wybrenne laughed softly. "Truly told, I hath seen her
first. She was walking along the road whilst I was on mine way
back from the barn. Out of curiosity, I followed her discreetly
and listened to her conversation with the gatekeeper."
Arturia was amused by Wybrenne's choice of words. She heard the
same phrase when a court lady claimed a new knight as her champion by
the right of being the first to see him. She returned her
attention to Wybrenne.
"A rose! A clever tactic to gain the trust of the Sisters.
But... even if a rose were grown indoors, its growth would be stunted
by winter. The rose she held was full... like a summer's
rose. I knew then that there was something peculiar about this
"After dinner, she offered to sing in return for the kindness that she
was given. She took out her harp and sang the song that thou hast
just heard. When she was done, the entire hall rose in applause
and demanded more. Lyn sang song after song until the clock
struck nine. Then Lady Lloydia announced that everyone must
adjourn to bed."
"I had chosen to sit as close as possible to the Sisters. When
Lady Lloydia made her announcement, I sprang to mine feet and offered
the hospitality of mine room. I explained that mine roommate hath
left to be married and so mine room hath a vacant bed. Lady
Lloydia weighed mine offer and gave her consent. Normally, guests
stayed in a stately furnished guest room. But there wert only a
few guest rooms, and a custodian would have to clean the room after the
guest left. If she stayed with me, she would not have to use the
guest room. I was certain that Lady Lloydia would agree."
Wybrenne chuckled. "Ah... many went to their rooms cursing mine
name. But the night was far from over. As I led Lyn to mine
room, students approached us boldly to talk to her. Some even
touched her hands." Wybrenne's face darkened. "But Lyn did
not protest enough to make them stop. I was compelled to shoo
them away. We raced down the hall and into mine room."
"Against the surging tide of students, I locked the door behind
me. Since she was mine guest, I offered to hang her cloak.
She gave it to me and I hung her dry cloak on a wooden peg.
Seeing that she did not bring a change of clothes with her, I offered
her a spare nightgown. She stared at it like she had never seen
one before." Wybrenne blushed. "Twas only after we were
married that I understood why. She either went to bed in a shirt
and trewes or... without."
"What?!" exclaimed Arturia. The thought of Merlyn sleeping
in the nude was... unthinkable. She decided that it was and
stopped her thoughts right there.
"Yea... without. I didst not know this, so I insisted that she
wear it, saying tis what proper maidens wore to bed. Then I
picked out mine gown and began to change in front of her. To mine
surprise, she turned her face to the wall, and refused to face me until
I was suitably dressed. From mine vantage, I could see her ears
Wybrenne laughed again. "Never have I met a maiden so shy!
Ah... she amused me so much during her stay. She was so shy, that
I had to step into the closet before she changed to that
nightgown. Even then, she was already under the covers when I
"Before I went to bed, I sketched out the locations of the bath and the
privy relative to our room. I advised her that if she required
its use, she must wait until two o'clock so that she would not be
disturbed in the hall. She smiled gratefully and bid me
"Overnight, the storm came and buried Rosenharte under four feet of
snow. Since she would be staying for a while, the Sisters allowed
her to attend classes if she wisheth to. I lent her some clothes
and accompanied her everywhere. She asked a lot of questions
about the classes and about the Sisters. Her manner and speech
were rough, but the questions she asked revealed an intelligent nature
and a maturity beyond her years. Soon I hath questions of mine
own, for she obviously hath been schooled far beyond a bard's
"I answered her questions, but I watched her carefully. Why was
she here? What did she hope to find out? Soon, I noticed
that she kept asking the same questions about every student that we
met. She wanted to know each maiden's family history, her
performance in school and her personality. After two days, twas
apparent to me that she was more interested in the students than the
school. Who was she looking for?"
"Since the matter involved mine sisters, I cornered her in mine room
and asked her if she was a mage. She did not reply at once, but
the startled look in her eyes spoke volumes. Finally, she waved
her hand in the air and chanted, 'Silentium.' She explained that
she hath cast a spell to prevent anyone from listening to us.
Then she asked me how I knew. I told her about the rose and about
her condition when she arrived at the gate. The nearest village
was three miles away. If she had walked from there, her cloak
would be soaked with melted snow. But it was not. Her skin
should have been pale from the frigid cold, but her cheeks were flushed
as if she had ran a mile."
"She laughed nervously and rewarded mine observations by revealing that
she conjured the rose and had arrived near Rosenharte by flying
there. I then asked her why she was here. She told me that
she was trying to find a bride."
Arturia choked on her tea. Wybrenne stopped and was relieved to
see Arturia recover from her mishap.
Arturia wiped her mouth with her napkin. "Didst she want to get
"Twas not for her. Twas for a dear friend of hers. I asked
her who and when she seemed reluctant to tell, I fell upon her and
Arturia's eyebrows shot up. "Tickled?! Merlyn let thee?"
Wybrenne nodded. "I dared as much as I can. When I saw
signs that I had exceeded her limits, I withdrew. Then I asked
why she did not petition the Sisters to arrange a meeting with her
friend. If her friend is of noble lineage, then the Sisters will
try to find suitable matches for him. I explained that Rosenharte
takes pride in finding a suitable bride in the name of happiness and
love. As a result, many noble families hath benefited from our
Sisters' diligence. She saith that her friend is very special and
she must see Rosenharte firsthand."
"I told her that I hath attended Rosenharte since I was a young girl
and hath grown up with many of the students here. I offered to
introduce her to students who might be a match for her friend if she
would supply her friend's history. She seemed reluctant to yield
that information. When I asked her about her friend's family, she
only saith that he was from the noblest bloodlines in Britain.
With a set of desired qualities in mind, I introduced her to all
students who were of an equal lineage. There were not many.
When we discussed them later that night, twas apparent to me that she
hath not found any to her liking. I asked her again to tell me
more about her friend. She yielded little new information."
"Finally, I threw up mine hands and jested that her search was as
difficult as finding a bride for the High King, who still remained
unmarried after fifteen years of ascending the throne. If I hath
not been watching her carefully, I would have missed it: the
subtle shiver in her shoulders and the alarm in her eyes."
"Twas then that I knew for certain who her friend was. Mine hand
flew to mine mouth when I realized it. She must have been
watching me too, and implored me not to tell anyone. In whispered
tones, I asked her if she was counsel to the High King. She cast
Silentium again and told me that she was. The puzzle began to
take shape in mine mind. Her name, her magic, her role as
"The discovery wiped away mine discretion and I blurted out, 'Thou art
Merlyn!' As soon as I blurted out her true name, she shrank
back. And then her hands clenched and she stared at me, wearing
the power of her true name like a mask."
Wybrenne laughed. "The conversation thereafter was rather
amusing. I can remember it clearly." She recited their
conversation, mimicking Merlyn's speech patterns when needed.
"And so I am. What of it?"
"Thou... art not what I hath envisioned thee to be."
"Did ye expect an old man with a large staff? I can
be that if ye want."
"Nay. I prefer thy true form. Tis more
beautiful and pleasing to
mine eyes than any I could imagine."
"A blush crept onto those pale cheeks. Mine heart was delighted
at the sight. In that instant, she hath won mine heart.
Nay, she hath won mine heart on the night she offered that rose, but I
did not realize it until that instant."
"But mine curiosity came with a price. I hath lost her
trust. I tried to be sincere in mine offer to help her and
offered to introduce her to students who were of lesser rank but
possessed a mature temperament. I argued that lineage may not be
enough to assist the High King and that a maiden of virtue and wisdom
might be more appropriate for His Majesty. She considered mine
words and agreed to meet the students."
Arturia interrupted her with a question. "Lady Wybrenne, how long
ago didst thou meet Merlyn?"
Wybrenne calculated the years. "Methinks... about seventy-five
"Seventy-five... then... the High King at that time..." Arturia's
eyes grew wide as plates. "She was looking for a bride for
me?!" she exclaimed.
Wybrenne laughed heartily when she saw Arturia's reaction. It had
taken Arturia long enough to realize it. "Yea... she was."
She watched Arturia with amusement as she tried to contain her
shock. When she seemed to have recovered, she ventured, "Shall I
Arturia nodded. "Yea... please do."
"We met more students the next day. After we returned from
dinner, we discussed them. Once again, none matched her
standards. I threw mineself upon mine bed and implored her to
tell me more about His Majesty so that I can find a new set of students
"And then she saith that perhaps she hath already found one. She
stared at me and the hairs on the back of mine head prickled at her
implied choice. I refused and stated that I was unsuitable for
His Majesty. She flattered me by saying that I was wise for
unmasking her guile and that I was beautiful and charming. Still,
I refused until she gave up. She sighed. However, the sigh
did not sound like a sigh of frustration, but rather, a sigh of
relief. Twas then that I began to entertain thoughts of a future
of us together."
"But I also discovered something else: that she would put aside
her own needs to fulfill the needs of the High King. I was not
pleased with that discovery at all. It meant that I must share
her time with the duties of being counsel to the High King."
Wybrenne sighed. "But if that is what it means to love her, then
I must learn to accept it."
She saw the anguish written on Arturia's face. "Fret not, Sir
Arturia. Even with her duties, know that Merlyn hath made me the
happiest woman in Britain."
"Mine thanks. Thy words hath soothed the sorrow in mine
heart. If I knew that Merlyn was married, I would have found a
way to give her more time for herself."
Wybrenne shook her head. "Nay... she had to keep me secret.
Merlyn hath many enemies... far more than she let thee know. Thou
may ask her about it later. So... shall I continue?"
Arturia murmured her assent.
"Since she was so reluctant to share His Majesty's information with me,
I asked her to describe the woman that His Majesty could love
instead. This time, twas she who threw up her hands. Her
reply drove a nail into mine heart." She recited her words.
"Alas! How can I? His Majesty will not love."
"How can that be? Everyone must love!"
"Nay... not King Arthur. Tis an emotion unneeded to
rule. If e'er
it comes to him, he will squash it like a Saxon
under his boot."
"Then if tis true, I must tell thee plainly as thy friend.
I will not allow any of mine sisters to enter in
such a loveless
union. I will not assist thee anymore.
And if thou persist at
a later time, I will prevent thee for as long as I
"Merlyn sat down on her bed and buried her face in her hands. She
saith that she was at her wits end, and that Rosenharte hath been her
last hope. I forgot mine anger over her plan to find a bride, and
sat by her side. I put mine arm around her and we sat in silence
whilst I tried to think of an alternative."
Wybrenne leveled her gaze at Arturia. "As thou can see, I hath
been an accomplice in this part of thy life. We meant no harm,
and only wisheth the best for thee. If thou hath felt slighted by
our schemes, then I greatly apologize." She paused and observed
Arturia carefully. "What comes next may shock thee. I will
understand if thou will hate me for it. But I must ask thee to
forgive Merlyn's part in this. Dost thou still want to know?"
"Yea... now more than e'er..."
Wybrenne drew a deep breath and continued. "I told her if she
could not find a bride who would marry out of love, then she must try
to find one who would marry out of duty. This lady would have to
come from a family who values lineage and honor. She must be a
queen who could strengthen the High King's reputation in Britain and
the lands beyond the sea, particularly, Rome. The emperors of
Rome hath ruled Britain in the past and the Pope hath dispensed his
blessings from Rome. So if more ties could be forged with Rome,
then Rome will respect King Arthur's authority and trade could flourish
between our lands." When she heard Arturia gasp, she knew that
Arturia realized the implications of her tale.
Arturia spoke softly. "I see... I understand now... why Guinevere
and I were married."
"Art thou angry?"
"Nay... there is no reason to." Arturia closed her eyes and
sighed. When she looked up, her inquisitive eyes probed
Wybrenne. "That is another story. However, I sense that thy
tale doth not end here."
Wybrenne flushed. A part of her hoped that Arturia would not ask
her to continue, while another part of her argued that Arturia needed
to hear the end of it and encouraged her to finish the tale. She
gathered her courage and drew a deep breath. "Since I hath voiced
mine objection over a Rosenharte bride, Merlyn hath no reason to
stay. However, she asked to stay one more day to see what
Rosenharte students do in their free time during the weekend. The
next day, I showed her the rooms where various societies engaged in
their activities: knitting, singing, poetry, acting, cooking and
so forth. Twas late in the afternoon when she asked what I liked
to do. I showed her the barn where I cared for the cows and
Wybrenne laughed. "I taught her how to milk Bessie. Ah...
that was so amusing! Her grasp on the udder was not quite right
and the udder squirted milk in her face. She pouted so much when
I laughed at her mishap!"
"Eventually, she did it properly and filled a bottle of milk. I
put it in the snow and handed her some special boots to wear.
When she examined them, I explained that I hath attached worn
horseshoes underneath the boots. When she asked why, I told her
to come with me behind the barn. I led her to the frozen pond
behind it and stepped onto its icy surface. She watched with
amazement as I slid across the surface with ease. I beckoned her
to come and she fell to her knees on her first step. I helped her
up and showed her how I manage to stay upright. Hand in hand, we
slid across the pond until the bell tolled, calling everyone for
"When we returned to the dining hall, I boiled the milk and served it
to her with honey. When she tasted it, she said that it was best
milk she hath ever had. Ah! She hath such a beautiful
"After dinner, we returned to mine room. She asked me what I
liked to do after dinner, so I showed her mine unfinished plays.
She read them and criticized them rather harshly. I was
infuriated at first, but when I noticed the crooked smile on her lips,
I realized that she was doing it deliberately. So I challenged
her to pick a play and finish what I started. She did and twisted
the plot so much that the ending was so absurd! I retaliated by
continuing the play from her ending to something more
proper. However, she did not give in and continued mine
ending to resolve into another bizarre one. By the great
bard! She truly hath an unusual imagination!"
"We went to sleep by the time the clock struck twelve. I told her
that I sang in the choir at morning mass which was at eight
o'clock. She saith that she would leave before then. I
asked her to write to me when she could, and she promised that she
"The morning came, and we got out of bed to prepare. When she was
ready, she walked toward the door and stopped with her back toward
me. She told me that I was the kindest host that she hath ever
stayed with. She turned around and raised her hand to me.
She told me clasp it to receive the traditional courtly farewell.
I was not well versed in courtly manners, so I was eager to learn about
it. To mine great surprise, she pulled me to her and kissed me
fully on mine lips."
"She released me and turned to leave. I grabbed her arm and
pulled her toward me. I called her a liar and kissed her back."
Wybrenne was blushing fiercely at this point. One glance at
Arturia told her that she was expected to continue. She swallowed
and explained, "She lied about the courtly farewell. I knew so
because I saw her. Even though her back was turned, I saw her
face reflected on the mirror on the wall. She licked her
lips. Twas obvious that she was just using the supposed courtly
farewell as an excuse."
"Thou thinkst me bold. Yea, I was. But I could not let her
leave without showing her what she meant to give up. I pushed her
onto mine bed and began to love her. She seemed reluctant at
first, but after she cast Silentium, I knew that mine efforts wert not
"She hath sang many songs for us. But her song that morning was
for mine ears alone. And when she sang mine name to shame the
choirs of angels, I knew that she was mine." Wybrenne
snickered. "Needless to say, I did not make it to morning mass...
nor any mass during that day."
By now, Arturia's face mirrored her own. But her eyes were still
anticipating for the rest of her tale. "Twas with regret that she
told me that she must leave tomorrow for certain. I made her
promise to visit me during the school festivals. The next day,
she thanked the Sisters for their hospitality and bid them
farewell. They were gracious enough to invite her to stay
whenever her journeys take her to Rosenharte. Then I accompanied
her for as far as I dared to walk. We hid behind some bushes and
held each other. Then she released me, and transformed into a
marvelous eagle. Before she flew away, I asked her to give me one
of her feathers and she held out her wing to let me pluck one. I
still have it to this day."
Wybrenne reached under her shirt and took off an amulet around her
neck. The amulet was made of clear amber and trapped within it
was a feather. She held it up proudly for Arturia to see before
wearing it again.
"An amazing tale..." The wonder in Arturia's voice was praise in
her ears. "I am grateful to thee for sharing thy tale. And
if I may implore thee again, may I hear Merlyn's song one more time?"
Wybrenne loved an appreciative audience. "Of course."
Later that night, Wybrenne joined them for the customary nightly
entertainment. Except for Rin, everyone else was there.
Wybrenne won the game and the board was placed before her to
spin. But her hand rose in refusal and she said, "Since I rarely
join thee, may I request that thou sing for me tonight?"
Everyone agreed to do so, and sang for her. When Arturia's turn
came, she strummed her harp and began to sing 'The Rose'. The
look on Merlyn's face was priceless. Merlyn raised her hand
towards her as if she was about to cast a spell but Wybrenne pinched
her forearm. Arturia reigned in the impending laughter within her
and tried to sing it in the style that Taliesin often used.
When she was done, she lingered not for the applause, but to enjoy the
mortification painted on Merlyn's face. She winked when she
passed Merlyn who blushed some more.
After everyone had sang at least twice, Wybrenne indicated that she was
sleepy. As Merlyn wheeled her to the exit, Wybrenne turned her
head and caught Arturia's eyes. Her eyes asked an unspoken
question. "Didst thou see it? Dost thou understand now?"
Arturia nodded gratefully. After she memorized The Rose, she
asked Wybrenne what it was like to be loved by Merlyn.
Wybrenne replied, "Exciting. Everyday with her is like
discovering something new about mineself, or herself, or about the
world around us. Tis like seeing everything with new eyes.
Even something so insignificant as a feather can begin to have
And tonight, Wybrenne had indeed acquired more discoveries. Her
eyes did not leave Merlyn's face while she sang her song. Arturia
was certain that she was savoring Merlyn's every emotion and reaction
throughout the song. Every discovery became a treasure in her
At the word treasure, Arturia's thoughts wandered to Rhynne and the
only treasure that she had from her. Ever since she destroyed the
garland that she made for Rhynne, she had regretted her moment of
weakness. But she had learned her lesson. From henceforth,
she would be more careful and guard every treasure that she
discovered. And when she prepared to sleep, she held Rhynne's
pillow close to her and guarded her treasure even in her dreams.
Arturia loaded a laundry basket on the platform in the shaft. She
read the first step of the instructions and found the crank. She
rotated the crank and watched the basket rise into the shaft.
Doing laundry seemed like a boring chore, but to Arturia, any chore
became a welcome relief. Ever since the day that she collapsed,
she spent each morning at the rose garden. Then she spent the
afternoons searching for the entrance to the east wing or for hidden
passages that may lead to it. When she got tired, she would go to
the sitting room to play the harp. Unfortunately, playing did
very little to ease the ache in her heart. So after a week, she
asked Airianne to give her chores to do. At least, she could have
something to do to help her forget.
As she cranked away, she seemed to hear a voice. She strained her
ears to locate the source of the voice. It seemed to come from
the ceiling. The crank resisted further rotation, so she did the
next step in the instructions and pulled a lever. Then she
cranked in the opposite direction to bring the platform back down.
She put the instructions aside and tried to locate the voice
again. She walked around until she was underneath a laundry
shaft. She closed her eyes to listen more carefully. Her
heart skipped a beat when she identified the voice as Rhynne's.
If her guess was correct, the shaft would lead to her room. She
gathered empty baskets and stacked them high. Then she climbed
the stack and stuck her head in the shaft. It was wide enough for
one person to crawl in. Arturia ran her hand along its smooth
surface. Since she would have to rely on the friction of her skin
to keep herself from slipping, Arturia removed her shoes and skirt
before crawling in.
She pushed against the walls of the shaft to wedge herself within
it. Slowly, she crawled up with only Rhynne's voice as her
guide. Her efforts were rewarded when she realized that she was
singing. She could even hear music. She crawled
Suddenly, her head hit something. She recoiled slightly and
reached out in the darkness. Something was blocking her way, and
it seemed to repel her hand. Her heart sank. It was
probably a magic barrier.
Rhynne's voice was much clearer now. However, she seemed to be
singing in a different language. Judging by the way it was
spoken, she guessed that it was Rhynne's native tongue. She
sighed. At least, she could listen to her voice. As she
clung to the shaft, she heard her sing.
"Let me be with you..."
Arturia's ears strained to understand the song. She waited for a
while and then she heard the phrase again.
"Let me be with you..."
Could it be that the song was sung in two languages? She closed
her eyes and listened.
[Author's note: recommended background music: Let me be
with you by Shela, from the Album Cherry Blossom]
Ano hi onaji mirai o shinjita
Futari wa itsushika
Yureru tagai no kokoro tashikana
Kizuna de musunda
Meguru kisetsu no naka o narande arukitai
Let me be with you
Sunao ni nareta kimi to nara
Let me be with you
Haru no sasayaki
Hoshi no kirameki
Let me be with you
Nagai nemurenu yoru wa nando mo
KISU shite kureta, ne?
Soushite watashi wa yagate honto no
Shiawase wo shitta
Ame ga niji e to kawari
Soshite hana wo hagukumu you ni
Let me be with you
Kakegae no nai
Taisetsu wa toki dakishimete
Let me be with you
Asa no tokimeki
Yume no nukumori kanjiru mama
Let me be with you
Let me be with you
Let me be with you
Sunao ni nareta kimi to nara
Let me be with you
Asa no tokimeki
Yume no nukumori kanjiru mama
Let me be with you
Let me be with you
Nostalgia flooded her heart as she listened to song. The language
seemed so strangely familiar that she felt that she should understand
it. But why was she feeling nostalgic? She searched through
her memories frantically for a clue but found none.
Eventually, the song ended and she heard silence. She gathered
her courage and called out.
"Rhynne? Canst thou hear me?"
She called out once more and touched the barrier. It probably did
not let her voice through. Her head bowed in defeat and she began
to crawl down.
"Arturia...?" echoed Rhynne's voice from above.
"Rhynne!" Arturia yelled excitedly.
She heard Rhynne say, "Illumina...". A bright light appeared
about twenty feet away from her. The light descended. Just
beyond the light, she could see Rhynne's face. Her mouth fell
open and she disappeared from her view.
"Wait!" cried Arturia. "Please!"
Then she heard Rhynne say, "Levitiam". She saw Rhynne crawl into
the shaft. When she was close enough, Arturia realized that she
When she was within an arm's length, Rhynne reached out to her.
"Arturia..." An invisible barrier stopped her hand as well.
Rhynne pressed her palm against it.
Arturia pressed her hand where Rhynne had hers. "I missed
Rin was so happy to hear those words. "I missed thee as
well." Tears streamed from her eyes and she made no effort to
wipe them away. "I am sorry... truly sorry about thy sister."
Arturia did not respond at once. After that awful battle, she
spent each night debating a proper course of action. But given
her near demise, it appeared that her days were numbered. Right
now, she could no longer afford to debate. No matter what action
she took, her sister was gone. But Rhynne was still here and she
knew for certain how she wanted to spend her time. Silently, she
asked her sister for forgiveness.
"Mine heart still aches over her loss. Even though we hath our
differences, she was still mine sister. I cannot hate her,
despite all that she hath done. And I can not hate thee either,
for I love thee too much."
Rhynne cried openly and pressed her other hand against the
barrier. Tears sprang from her own eyes as well and she leaned
forward to rest her head where Rhynne's head was. When Rhynne had
calmed down, she whispered hoarsely. "I am glad... so glad to
hear thy words..."
With Rhynne's hair over the left side of her face, she did not notice
it before. "Rhynne... what happened to thy eye?"
Her hand flew to cover the light brown patch over her eye. "Tis a
minor injury. It will heal in time."
"Is Merlin healing thee?"
"Yea. She hath found a potion to help it heal."
Arturia exhaled with relief. "Thank God. Twould be a shame
to suffer an incurable injury to thy beautiful eye." She felt
something brush against her forearm. She looked down to see
Rhynne's sleeve against it. Her heart began to beat with hope as
she pulled the sleeve.
Rin felt something pulling on her sleeve. She turned her head
towards it. Her mouth fell open at the sight. Quickly, she
pulled her arm out of the other sleeve and guided the sleeve towards
the barrier. The sleeve passed through. Her heart began to
pound with the thrill of discovery. She pulled the sleeve back
and put her arm through it but not all the way through. She
pushed the sleeve towards the barrier again. The sleeve passed
through up to the point where her hand was. Undaunted, she pulled
the sleeve back and tied the end of the sleeve. She pushed the
sleeve again. To her great delight, her hand passed through the
"Methinks I hath found a way to pass the barrier." declared
Rin. She noticed that Arturia was still holding on to her
other sleeve. She smiled at the sight of it. "Please let go
for a moment."
Reluctantly, Arturia let go. She watched as Rhynne pulled her
hood over her head, and pulled her arms out of her sleeves. She
brought her knees to her chest and chanted, "Aenderungs".
The robe wrapped itself around her and completely covered her.
Then Rhynne moved towards the barrier. When the top of her robe
passed through, Arturia crawled back to make room. Soon, the
entire robe had passed through. From within the robe, she heard
Rhynne's muffled chant.
Rhynne's robe unfolded and returned to its original form. She
pulled her hood back and grinned widely. "That actually wo---"
Arturia's lips sprang forward to capture Rhynne's. She kissed her
like a starved lion feasting on its hard won prey. She devoured
its tenderness... its sweetness... its warmth.
A few moments later, she felt Rhynne's hands slip under her arms and
wrap around her. Rhynne whispered into her mouth.
Her heart roared with exultation. Her hands left the surface of
the shaft to comply with Rhynne's command. Instead of slipping
down, her body floated. Her feet left the surface as well.
Together, they floated down the shaft.
Her hands slipped under Rhynne's robe. They wandered about until
they located the buttons of her shirt. One by one, the buttons
opened a path to her target. Her hands eagerly entered the breach
and swarmed underneath her shirt. Rhynne gasped against her
Encouraged by Rhynne's response, her hands cupped the mounds of her
soft flesh and teased their apex. Rhynne's hands clenched over
the folds of her tunic. Arturia smiled mischievously. She
continued to kiss and caress Rhynne until they floated into the laundry
Arturia kicked the baskets away and landed on her feet. Then she
raised her arms to receive Rhynne. Rhynne floated down into her
arms. They stared at each other for a few moments before moving
in unison to exchange fiery kisses. Arturia felt like she was
still floating. Her right foot scraped the ground to confirm that
it was only her heart floating with bliss.
Rhynne's hands wove through her hair and her scalp tingled at the
sensation. Her hand pushed against the back of her head slightly,
and she took that as a sign to part Rhynne's lips. Her tongue
entered Rhynne's mouth and probed her carefully. Rhynne's tongue
pushed against hers and she let Rhynne do as she wished. Then
Rhynne's tongue entered her mouth.
She let Rhynne play with her... tease her... It was such sweet
torture to let her do so since she wanted to taste Rhynne, to feel her
and to take as much of her as she could. But deep in her heart,
she also wanted to know if Rhynne desired her just as much. She
was not disappointed. She drew her closer to her body to urge her
to continue. Then Rhynne commanded her once more.
"Put me down... I want thee to touch me..."
Slowly, Arturia lowered her until she could stand on her own.
Rhynne wrapped her arms around her and whispered in her ear, tickling
it with her warm breath.
"There is a place unseen by the map."
"Where?" asked Arturia excitedly.
"Where we hang our laundry."
Arturia's face fell. "Merlyn saith that I can not venture outside
"Tis within the Aerie's defenses, but not part of the map's
"Is that so?"
Arturia closed her eyes and thanked God. She went to a nearby
basket of clean laundry and took out a blanket. She offered her
hand to Rhynne. "Shall we go?"
Rhynne smiled and took her hand. Together, they went to the deck
where laundry was hung to dry. Arturia laid the blanket near the
wall to minimize the effect of an occasional gust of mountain
wind. Then she took Rhynne into her arms and lowered her onto the
blanket. They exchanged enough kisses to subdue the chill of the
Like moths drawn to a flame, her hands dove into Rhynne's shirt and
luxuriated in warmth of her heaving bosom. The tips of her
fingers played with her nipples and Rhynne gasped rapidly in
response. Arturia was pleased to honor her lady's commands.
Her lips decided not to be outdone by her hands. They traveled
down Rhynne's neck and usurped the exalted position held by her
hands. Rhynne let out a small scream as her mouth sucked her
Suddenly, the door to the deck swung open. "Sir Arturia!
Arturia jerked away and landed on her behind. Rhynne turned away
from Airianne and pulled her robe over her front.
Arturia and Airianne stared at each other for a few seconds. Then
Airianne recovered from her shock.
"M--- mine apologies." Airianne turned to go back in.
Arturia sprang forward with all the speed that she could master.
She caught the edge of the door before Airianne closed it and grabbed
"Wait!" she cried.
She pulled Airianne back onto the deck and trapped her in her
arms. Airianne struggled a little before she dropped her
The silence hung about them like a sword over their heads.
Finally, Rin stood up and walked to them.
"Let her go, Arturia. Tis mine fault. Merlyn hath forbidden
me to leave the east wing."
"Mine apologies for mine rough manner, Lady Airianne." said
Arturia as she released her.
"Ye surprised me... both of ye."
Rin and Arturia blushed fiercely. Rin cleared her throat.
"Please forget what ye have seen. And... please... though I am
loath to ask this of ye, please refrain from telling Master that I hath
left mine room. I will not ask ye to lie. If ye must tell
her, then please do so."
Airianne sighed. "I will try. But know that Mother can read
mine mind within the Aerie."
Arturia and Rin gasped in unison. It would only be a matter of
time before Merlyn found out. They exchanged glances. The
resolution on Arturia's serious face made Rin believe that Arturia
would risk anything to be by her side. She took some comfort in
that. She returned her gaze to Airianne.
"Pray, withhold it for as long as ye can. We would be ever
Airianne reached out and held Rin's hand with her right and Arturia's
with her left. "Mine heart goes out to ye both. I wish ye
all the best. But I cannae tarry long. E'ery second with ye
is another second of memory that Mother can find. That is why I
wanted to leave."
Arturia's face paled with remorse. "Tis mine fault! I
should have let thee go!"
"Be at ease. I will do what I can." Airianne let go of
their hands and quickly went back in.
"I must go back. Master might visit me." Rin adjusted her
"Will I see thee again?"
"Mayhap." Rin cupped Arturia's cheek in her hand. "But we
must be careful, lest Merlyn take away our only means of being
together." She hugged Arturia. "When the time is right, I
will give thee a sign."
Arturia hugged her tightly. "Though it pains me to wait for it, I
pray that it will be soon. Oh Rhynne... I love thee so much..."
"I love thee more than I can say..." replied Rin.
They kissed a few more times before going in. Arturia watched
sadly as Rhynne ascended the shaft to return to her room. When
she could not see her anymore, she sat down against the wall and closed
her eyes to savor the short but delicious feast that she just enjoyed.
Chapter 13 Omake
Airianne: Thanks for doing the laundry again.
Arturia: You're welcome.
Airianne: You seem to be drinking a lot of tea lately.
Bedivere: Loooove letter! Love-love
Arturia: Excuse us... we have to... uh... brush the horses...
*drags Bedivere away*
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