The King and Her Queen
Chapter 2: The Lady of the Lake
Somehow, it had come to this. Shiro still could not believe how
they had come. Despite all his misgivings, somehow, the pieces
just steadily fell into place as they tried to reach their goal.
There were times that their research reached a dead end. But some
way or another, something cropped up to put them on another lead.
It was as if some invisible force was lending a hand. If there
was such a thing as karma, then Rin must have done something good in
When he first heard of Rin's idea, the concept seemed simple, but the
execution seemed impossible. Rin's words echoed in his mind as he
took his place on the glowing arcane glyphs. "The servants were
summoned here by magic, right? What if we can reverse that
process; i.e. 'summon' ourselves to where they were in
space and time?"
He watched apprehensively as Rin finished the last glyph. The
arcane circle was complete. Rin walked over and took her place in
"So... are you ready?" Rin smiled slightly. "I really
appreciate you coming this far with me. If... if you don't want
to do this, I'll understand."
"Geez, Rin! Why are you saying this now?" said Shiro with
mock exasperation. He held out his calloused hands. "I
didn't do all that work just to let you reap the benefits. I'm
with you on this one. No matter what."
"Thanks." Rin smiled widely.
Shiro felt that this was one of the few smiles that Rin gave from the
heart. The sight of it eased his anxiety a little bit.
Rin raised her hands. "Shall we begin?"
"Un." nodded Shiro.
Rin wove her hands and chanted the incantation. Shiro swept his
eyes across the landscape around them. The lake shimmered like
silver under the bright sun. Above the distant hills, a lone
eagle glided across the clear sky. Above them, the willow trees
bent their crooked branches to give them shade. Here and there,
small irises waved in the gentle breeze as if to bade them
farewell. As Rin started the last stanza of the incantation,
Shiro hoped that whatever luck had led them here would bring them back
Finally, Rin drew the last glyph in the air with her finger and spoke
the activation spell word. The arcane circle burst into a cacophy
of light and energy. Shiro unconsciously balled his hands into
fists. As the landscape faded into the light, he wished with all
his being. "Please let us find you... Saber..."
Rin floated in a dimensionless space filled with light. She could
not tell which way was up. But her honed magical senses alerted
her that the spell was nearly complete. It was do or die.
Rin adjusted her body slightly and prepared a levitation spell just in
case they materialized too high from the ground. Then the spell
faded into darkness. Rin's first sensation was pressure and a
dull ache in her ears. An attempt to breathe resulted in an
unpleasant sensation in her sinuses. The horrible realization
caused her to panic. They were underwater. She flailed for
a moment and noticed a dull light coming from above. Holding her
breath, she swam upwards toward the light. Soon, she could see
the surface of the water. She reached out her arm as if to grasp
her way to safety. As her arm broke through the water's surface,
something cold landed on her hand. Her hand closed on reflex,
thinking that it might be something that could help her float.
Instead, her arm drew backward and sank back into the water. She
turned to see what it was. It was a sword. Her fingers
loosened to let go of such a heavy object, but her mind emerged from
its panicked state to identify the sword. She willed her left
hand to grab the hilt as the sword began to slip from her grip.
Now with both hands on the hilt, she kicked upwards again to get some
air. Her muscles and lungs burned as she attempted to reach the
surface. She felt something slide around her waist. She
looked down and saw a yellow inflatable tube around her. Shiro
was nearby in a similar tube. Rin grabbed the tube gratefully
with her left hand and together they broke through the surface gasping
"Haaah... haah... Th- thanks, Shiro. Haaahh... You saved me."
"Haaah... yeah... haaah... no problem... haaahh..."
After swallowing several lungfuls of air, Rin held up her right
hand. "Hey... check it out..."
Shiro's eyes grew wide. "Where'd you get that?!"
"It just fell into my hand."
Shiro gaped at her, speechless. When he finally found his voice,
he growled, "Rin... don't tease me..."
"Hey! I really did!" Rin put forth her most serious face
and menacing tone. "Think about it! If this is the lake
where Bedivere threw the sword back, where's Saber?"
In his mind, Shiro quickly scanned through his research on the legend
of King Arthur. His eyes grew in alarm. "He threw the sword
back, because Arthur asked him to. Rin, we have to find Saber
fast!" Shiro thrust out his hands and an outline began to form
"Hey! Wait a sec!" cried Rin. They had agreed to
conserve mana for the return trip. Even as Rin kicked toward
Shiro, she knew it was too late to stop him. However, when he
finished, Rin had to admit that she was impressed. "A jet ski!?"
"Yeah..." Shiro hauled himself onto the seat and reached out
towards Rin. Rin grabbed his hand and climbed up to sit behind
him. She pulled off the tube and was about to throw it away when
Shiro stopped her. "Don't. We might need it..."
"C'mon, Shiro! We don't need it anymore. Besides, we're too
old to be using rubber ducky tubes." Then something dawned on
her. "Hey, if you could make something like this, why didn't you
make a life vest or something?"
"..." Shiro turned away from her. "It was reflex,
okay? It was the first thing I could think of!"
Rin noticed that Shiro's ears turned red. One side of her mouth
curved up to a lopsided smile. "Fine... I'll hold yours and let's
Shiro revved the engine and headed toward the shore. Meanwhile,
Rin sealed Excalibur and cast a masking spell. When they were
halfway to the shore, Shiro turned left.
"Umm... can you sense her?" asked Rin.
"Yeah... sort of. I feel a slight pull."
Rin hoped that Shiro was right. Finally, they were almost at the
shore. However, the jet ski was still moving too fast to get
"Hey... we're moving too fast..." Rin grabbed Shiro's arm.
"Oh, sorry." The jet ski slowed down, but showed no signs of
stopping. Rin gripped Shiro's arm tighter. Shiro only
replied, "Yeah, it might be a good idea to hold on."
"Eh?" Rin felt the jet ski scrape the sandy bank near the
shore. Rin cried out in alarm, "Shiro!"
"Just a sec..."
The jet ski became semi-transparent and its lines began to morph into a
different shape. Rin readied herself to jump off when her
seat didn't feel solid anymore, but she didn't have to as the jet ski
transformed into a stout dirt bike. It took several moments
before the shock was replaced with awe as they sped across a
field. "Pretty impressive, Shiro..." thought Rin.
They continued across a meadow and went up a hill. At the top of
the hill, they were appalled at the grisly scene before them.
There was no doubt that a gruesome battle had taken place. Shiro
was so shocked that he stopped the bike. Rin covered her mouth to
control herself from retching while Shiro gripped the handlebars
angrily. After a moment, Shiro turned the bike around so that the
battlefield was behind them. "Let's keep going." he said.
Rin nodded and they went around the battlefield. They rode across
a small meadow and into a forest. Eventually, they came unto a
leaf-strewn path. The soil and leaves on the path were torn up in
a stream of patches. Rin and Shiro shared a glance as each came
to the same conclusion that someone on horseback rode here
"Let's get off the bike." suggested Rin. "We shouldn't be
seen on it."
Shiro nodded and dispelled the bike and the tubes. They continued
cautiously along the path until they saw a grassy clearing about thirty
"She's close..." whispered Shiro.
Suddenly, the silence of the forest was broken by a deep, resonant
Shiro and Rin stopped in the middle of the path. A tall knight
stood where the path ended at the edge of the clearing. The
knight's flaxen yellow hair was braided in the same way as Saber's
except for a pair of braids held in place by a pair of silver
cylinders. A gloved hand rested on the pommel of a sheathed
sword. The knight held a red shield that had a bronze bar with 3
fleur de lis on the top half of the shield. A sword with its tip
pointed down adorned the bottom half of the shield.
"Art thou friend or foe?"
Rin gasped in surprise. She wasn't sure then, but she is sure
now. She cleared her throat and took one step. The knight
slid her hand onto the handle. Slightly alarmed, Rin replied
haltingly, "We come in peace... Sir Bedivere. We mean no
harm." Rin faltered at the salutation, since she did not know if
Bedivere should be addressed as 'Lady' or as 'Sir'. She settled
on 'Sir' since Bedivere was a knight.
"Thy speech... seemst not common." Bedivere's eyes
narrowed. "Yet thou knowst me by sight. Who art thou
truly? Art ye Mordred's spyes? Speak plainly, lest I yield
to grimly means for thy truth."
Rin swallowed visibly and thought fast, then spoke quickly. "We
art travelers, Sir. And have traveled far. Thus thy tongue
is not our own. But thy prowess is well known in our land."
Rin gestured her hands extravagantly. "I recognized thee by thy
device on thy shield." Rin smiled as charmingly as she possibly
could. Beside her, she could sense Shiro gathering his
will. She could only hope that Bedivere would buy her story and
that she and Shiro wouldn't be forced to do something rash.
"And from which land that thou hast hailed from?"
She did not expect Bedivere to ask that. A drop of sweat trickled
down the side of her forehead. "It is the land just beyond the
eastern seas." As soon as she said that, she felt a sense of
dread wash over her. On instinct, she curled her middle, ring and
small fingers and straightened her index finger to form a pointing
Bedivere's face darkened. "So ye art spyes! Saxon
spyes!" Bedivere advanced toward them and drew her sword as she
approached. "Before I banish thee from this kingdom, know that
thy kind art not ---"
A black bolt of energy struck Bedivere on the chest and she collapsed
face down on the path.
"Rin! What did you do?!"
Rin lowered her pointing finger and observed Bedivere for any sign of
consciousness. "Don't worry. I didn't use full power.
It'll only knock her out for a bit. She'll feel a little sick
when she wakes up though. Can you carry her off the path?"
Shiro resheathed the sword. He put Bedivere's arm over his
shoulder and put his arm around her waist. "Ugh... she's
heavy. Yeah... I think I can."
Rin took the other arm and lifted the shield. "Ohmigod... it must
be the armor."
Together, they half dragged Bedivere into the clearing. When they
entered the clearing their eyes rested on the large tree at the
opposite side of the clearing. There, resting under its shade,
Quickly, they laid Bedivere on the grass and ran to Saber's side.
Rin felt her forehead and her pulse.
"... no... she's not all dead... just mostly dead..."
"Mostly?! Can you save her?"
"Yeah... I think so... Help me take off her armor."
After they removed her armor, a thought occurred to Rin. "Now go
over there and stay with Bedivere. Or better yet, take the time
to change your clothes. Just don't look over here."
Shiro bore a confused expression on his face, but he obeyed. He
walked over to Bedivere and selected a thicket to change his damp
Rin unbuttoned Saber's tunic. When she finally undid the tunic,
she was horrified at the sight of the bloody bandages and serrated
flesh. An initial scan indicated broken ribs, severe internal
bleeding and several ruptured organs. She steeled her resolve
and reached into her pack for medical supplies and her pouch of
jewels. Rin worked steadily as she removed the crude bandages and
attended to each broken bone and wound. She had anticipated the
possibility of treating Saber's injuries, but her imagination did not
even come close to the severity of her injuries. Rin grew a bit
apprehensive when she went over her estimated jewel allotment for this
treatment. As jewel after jewel was used, Rin bit her lip.
There would be fewer jewels to use for the return trip. She
entertained the possibility of doing enough to keep her in a
coma. But a part of her reviled the idea. "Either I will
have all of her or none!" she thought. With her
determination renewed, she set out to finish her task.
At last, she bandaged the last wound and chanted the spell to help it
heal. She pulled the tunic close. Then she leaned
against the nearest tree. She closed her eyes and sighed.
She should be safe now. She glanced over to Saber.
Something was not quite right. Her skin color was still a shade
of gray. She knelt over her and passed her hand over her body for
a scan. Her heart skipped a beat when she discovered that the
bile spilled from her organs was polluting her bloodstream. Even
worse, Saber had lost a lot of blood. Rin cursed herself for not
noticing. She took out the ceremonial dagger that she got during
graduation and drew it from its sheath. She used the tip of the
dagger to etch glyphs on the skin of Saber's palms. Rin gritted
her teeth as she etched similar glyphs on the skin of her palms.
She dropped the dagger and straddled Saber. She quickly
interlaced her hands with her and chanted the spell to perform a blood
cleansing. When the spell activated, Rin stifled a cry of pain as
Saber's blood flowed into her left hand while a mixture of her own
blood and her purified blood flowed out of her right hand. Rin's
body sagged and she tried to balance herself on her knees and
elbows. Already, she could feel goosebumps all over her
"I'm going to break out in hives after this..." thought Rin as she
panted heavily. She licked her lips and tasted something bitter
in her mouth. She spat out a curse. There was some sort of
toxin in Saber's bloodstream. She hoped that it was something she
could deal with. "I'm in for a bad time..." grimaced Rin as she
gritted her teeth while her innards began to ache.
"Uh... Rin... are you done?" asked Shiro from a distance.
"Don't look..." said Rin hoarsely.
"I'm not looking. Just... just wanted to know if you're finished."
"No... ask me later."
Her body temperature had risen drastically and beads of sweat began to
form her brow. She swallowed the bitter taste in her throat and
concentrated on keeping the spell going. After a few minutes, Rin
felt like retching again.
"Ugh..." thought Rin. "I don't think I can go on much
longer..." Rin shifted her grip slightly. "I'm sorry,
Saber... I hope that this was enough..." she mumbled.
As if in reply, Saber's eyes opened slightly. Her green eyes
seemed to focus on Rin's face. Rin gasped in surprise. As
she was about to call out to her, she was interrupted by Saber's hoarse
Rin's jaw dropped and her eyes widened. She stared back at
Saber's sleepy face and watched as she drew a shallow breath through
her trembling lips. Then she smiled slightly and closed her
eyes. Alarmed, Rin drew close and positioned her ear near Saber's
nose and mouth. "Thank God... she's breathing better now..." said
Rin with a sigh of relief. She released her grip on Saber's hands
and rolled over to lie next to her. Her exhausted body was
coaxing her to sleep. Rin shook her head slightly in an attempt
to keep herself awake. There were things that still needed to be
done. "Shiro... come over here."
Shiro came over and took one look at Saber. "Damn... she looks
"Yeah... tell me about it..."
Shiro's gaze shifted to Rin. "Rin! You look awful!
What happened?" His eyes rested on Saber's upturned palm.
"Did you use that spell?" Shiro asked, his voice laced with
"Yeah... s'okay... I'll get over it..." Already, she could feel
the itchy rashes forming on her skin.
"Is she okay?"
"She's stable... for now. I think there's some sort of poison in
Shiro knelt next to Saber and put his hand over her palm. "Trace
on... analyze composition..." Shiro moved his other hand over her
wounds. His brows knitted in anger. "Dirty bastards!
There was poison on their weapons!" Shiro stood up. "Wait
here... I think I could make something for it. I'll be right
Before Rin could reply, Shiro left. Despite her exhaustion, Rin
pushed herself up on an elbow and looked at Saber. Then her gaze
moved over to Bedivere who was lying at the opposite end of the
clearing. To her alarm, Bedivere shifted her head to the right
and moaned. Rin prayed that Shiro would come back soon. It
would not be long until Bedivere regained consciousness. They
must think of a plan before then.
About ten minutes later, Shiro came back with a bunch of flowers.
"I could do this the quick way or the long way. The long way will
take about twenty minutes."
Rin thought for a moment to consider Saber's condition. "She's a
bit stable now. We can take the time to make the antidote.
However..." Rin gestured to Bedivere. "Bedivere's gonna
wake up soon. We have to move somewhere else and make the
antidote there." Rin stood up and leaned against the tree for
Shiro watched her curiously. "Rin... how do you feel?"
"Sleepy and a bit stiff. Why?"
The corners of Shiro's mouth drooped. "I'm sorry to say this,
Rin. I think you're poisoned too. Drowsiness is one of the
symptoms of Belladona poisoning. It also attacks the nervous
system and causes numbness and paralysis."
"Oh, great..." muttered Rin. "Hey, how do you know it's
"Grynberg likes to talk a lot while he works." Shiro put the
flowers down and went over to Rin. "I guessed I picked up a
little bit from him." He put his hand over Rin's palm.
"Trace on..." After a few moments, Shiro sighed with
relief. "It's not as bad as Saber's. But you'll have to
take the antidote too."
Rin nodded. "Let's get out of here. I'll tell you my idea
and you can tell me how to make the antidote." Rin slowly reached
over and shouldered her pack. "Can you carry Saber?"
"Yeah. Give me a second." Shiro put the flowers in his pack
and slipped his backpack on. Then he knelt next to Saber and
carefully lifted her into his arms.
Together, they left the clearing to locate a suitable thicket. On
the way, Rin told Shiro about her idea on how to deal with
Bedivere. After hearing it, Shiro balked at the thought of
executing Rin's plan by himself, but he could not think of any
alternative, and so he agreed to do it. Finally, they found an
adequate thicket. Shiro laid Saber on Rin's sleeping bag and then
instructed Rin on how to prepare the antidote from the bulbs of the
"Well... I'm off." Shiro picked up a bundle of clothes wrapped in
"Have fun." replied Rin. "I have the utmost faith in you."
"Gee... thanks. That makes me feel so much confident." said
Shiro with a hint of sarcasm.
"You'll do fine. You're a magician, right? So go out there
and show your stuff!"
Shiro straightened up a bit. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
"You better. Someone has to check if the antidote is good."
Shiro smiled. "Yeah, I will. Later..." With a small
salute, Shiro exited the thicket.
Rin sat still for a few moments and then yawned. "I better get
started on that antidote before I fall asleep." she
thought. Rin reached for the flowers and the tin pan. "I
hope the plan works out."
Bedivere woke up with a start and berated herself for collapsing.
She looked about her anxiously to ensure that they were still
safe. Reassured, she knelt beside her king. She took off
her right glove and felt for a pulse on Arturia's wrist. She
sighed with relief. It was not too late.
"Milord... I hath the strangest dream. In it, I beheld a tall
maid appareled in splendid guise rise from yonder lake. Deep
forest green eyes adorned her bronze face while fairy scarlet locks
framed that elegant visage. Might it be the Lady of the Lake as
such as thou spake?"
Bedivere paused for a moment to regard her king. "Ah, forgive
mine idle prattle, Milord... so earnest was I in telling thee mine
dream that I overlooked thy slumber. Pray that thou pardon me
Bedivere gently lifted Arturia into her arms and was surprised that she
seemed heavier than before. She grunted as she carefully
positioned Arturia foremost on the saddle of her horse, Haut.
Then she mounted Haut and sat behind Arturia. "Pardon mine weariness,
Milord. I fear the battle hath taken mine strength." She
gazed fondly at Arturia as she cradled her in her arms. "Thou
sleepst like a log. Thy dream must be most enthralling."
She spurred Haut towards the direction of the lake.
"If the Lady in mine dream spake true, then thy wounds can be attended
to in most haste. Until then, please endure this brief
journey." She patted Haut's side. "Fly like the wind,
Haut." With a slap, she urged Haut to a gallop.
Bedivere tried to minimize the amount of disturbance that the ride
would cause to Arturia and let Haut gallop as fast as she dared.
When they reached the shores of the lake, she dismounted and carried
Arturia in her arms once more. Over the lake hung an unusual fog
which was not there when she threw the sword. Out of habit, she
looked about to spot any possible threats. Once assured, she
ventured towards the lake until its waters lapped at her boots.
She peered into the fog apprehensively. To her delight, she
discerned a shape coalesce from within the fog. With great
anticipation, her eyes followed an unmanned boat as it glided away from
the fog and toward them. The boat stopped about fifteen feet from
where she stood.
"Tis just as the Lady saith, Milord." she said as she waded into
thigh deep water. "Fret not. The Lady saith that this boat
will carry thee to Avalon. There, the Lady shall minister to thy
wounds." She laid Arturia unto the satin cushioned cot in the
"Aggrieved am I, that by the Lady's behest, I am not permitted to
accompany thee." She reached over and caressed Arturia's
cheek. "When thou art well, come unto us in all haste. I
will await thy return." Then she bent down and kissed her gently
on the lips. She stared at Arturia's face for a moment before
whispering, "Fare thee well, Arturia, and farewell."
Bedivere drew away and the boat slowly departed into the fog. She
watched until she could no longer see its outline. She stood for
a few moments and turned to her horse. As she stepped onto the
sandy shore of the lake, her steps began to falter and her body
slouched forward. Eventually, she fell upon her knees. Then
with a great shudder emanating from her very core, she expelled a cry
of grief and wept.
Inside the fog, Shiro was startled by a distant cry. He quickly
cancelled the transfiguration spell on the log and tipped the boat to
let it sink. He carefully swam to the edge of the fog and focused
his gaze at the hunched figure near the shore. His ears caught
the sound of faint weeping. For a few moments, he watched
mournfully from the edge of the fog. A part of him wanted to go
over to Bedivere and console her. He steeled his resolve and swam
in the opposite direction of where Bedivere was.
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