The King and Her Queen
Chapter 8: Private Lessons
Since Airianne would be studying with Wybrenne, Bedivere decided that
it would be a good time to go down into the valley and buy supplies for
the ball. Airianne provided them with a basket and some knapsacks
to carry their purchases. For Bedivere, she presented a corded
belt and a velvet cloak to replace her worn sword strap and riding
"Tis in fashion and will suit thee." explained Airianne.
Bedivere replaced the strap on her sword and belted her sword on her
waist. Then she unfolded the cloak. She gasped aloud when
she saw the patch in front. It was an embroidered heart which
encircled three roses of red, white and yellow.
"Lady Airianne, tis an heirloom! Tis I who am unsuitable to don
"Mama gave it to me. She insists that ye wear it. It would
lift her heart to know that the colors of Rosenharte art displayed
Bedivere nodded in understanding. "Then I shall be honored to
After Bedivere put on the cloak, they made their way to the lower
levels to fetch their horses. Then Airianne operated the platform
so that they descended into the mine. With Bedivere's tracking
skill, they emerged from the mine into the bright sunshine of the
valley. Bedivere helped Rin on to her saddle and then sat behind
her. She threw Arturia a sly grin.
"Last one down is a rotten egg?" challenged Bedivere.
"I am at a disadvantage with this common pony." protested Arturia.
"Mine horse bears two riders."
They sized at each other up. Arturia laid down her
conditions. "Only if thou let me ride with Rhynne. And,
should thou accept mine terms, I will allow thee to start as fitting."
Bedivere sighed. "Oh very well..." She and Arturia got off
their horses. Bedivere handed the reins to Arturia. "No
leaping." she warned. Arturia nodded.
Rin stiffened at the word leaping. "Hold thy horses! What
saith thee about leaping?"
"Fret not, Rhynne. Haut will not leap in this race."
replied Arturia as she mounted Haut behind her.
Arturia's hand slipped around her waist to grasp the reins. "I am
with thee. Please trust me."
With that, Bedivere spurred her horse down the path and rode it to a
gallop. Arturia urged Haut to a slow canter. Rin stared at
her hands clinging to the rim of the saddle. She had ridden
horses before, but not one that was as large and tall as Haut. As
she watched the pebbles on the ground, she felt a sense of vertigo.
Suddenly, Arturia whispered softly near her ear. "Rhynne, tis
better to look up and see beyond the path."
Rin looked up and was rewarded by the magnificent sight of the valley
below. She marveled at the gentle slopes of the green hills and
the scattered patches of forest. The roads snaked across the
valley like stitches on a quilt. Here and there, farmers looked
like ants in their fields of golden grain.
"Yea. Our rooms art on the west side, while the village is on the
Arturia felt Rhynne lean back, so she shifted slightly to let her
settle against her. The mountain breeze played with the strands
of her hair and brought the familiar scent of camellia to her
nose. She turned her head slightly and allowed Rin's hair to
brush against her face and lips. Somehow, the scent felt very
soothing, and she felt an urge to bury her face in Rhynne's hair.
She managed to restrain herself and just let the scent envelop her
As they admired the scenery, a question popped up in Rin's mind.
"Arturia, why didst thou decide to race?"
Arturia laughed sheepishly. "Oh that. Bedivere and I would
often race each other when we went hunting. Tis a sport for
us. And the loser must grant the winner a boon for the day."
"I see. So if thou win, what boon shall thou ask for?"
Arturia thought for a moment. "Mayhap, I shall ask to ride Haut
instead of the horse."
"Will I be riding with thee or with Bedivere?"
"With me, of course. I doubt that the horse would enjoy carrying
two people. Haut's strength far exceeds that of a common
horse. He is used to carrying Bedivere and her weaponry."
Rin nodded in understanding. She remembered how heavy Bedivere
was when she and Shiro tried to carry her. She craned her neck to
see if she could spot Bedivere. As she wondered whether they
could catch up with her, an idea popped into her mind. She untied
a short red ribbon around her sleeve and tied it around Arturia's
wrist. "Tis a race, so I shall cheer mine champion on."
Arturia recognized the token and laughed. "I am honored to be thy
champion. Mine heart gladdens with thy support." Then with
a twinkle in her eye, she asked jokingly, "Art thou cheering me
on because thou wish me to win, or because thou wish to ride with me?"
Rin blushed at the question. She was hoping that Arturia would
win so that she could ride with her. But she felt that she did
not need to hide that wish, so she answered, "Both."
Her heart leapt with delight at Rhynne's answer. She felt happy
that Rhynne wanted to ride with her. "Then I am doubly
glad. I shall surely win this race for thee."
They rode on for a while until Arturia caught sight of Bedivere on a
path below. Arturia whistled loudly to warn Bedivere that she was
starting. "Tis time, Rhynne. Please hold on." Then
she snapped Haut's reins and urged him to run. Haut neighed in
eager response and began to gallop.
Rin clung to the saddle's rim as firmly as she could. The
mountain path sped past her in a blur. They rounded several bends
and the path became straight for about two hundred yards. The
side of the path leveled off steeply down to the next path below.
"We shall go this way. Please hold on to me." Arturia
warned Rhynne as her arm snaked around her waist to hold her close.
To Rin's great horror, Haut turned off the beaten path and galloped
down the very steep mountainside. As they gained speed, panic
rose within her and she screamed in fright.
"Mine apologies, Rhynne." Arturia's words were diminished by the
wind whipping by her ears.
Haut reached the path below leaving a cloud of dirt behind him.
They galloped down the path and around several bends. They came
upon another path with a similar steep slope that ended down at a path
on a lower level. Bedivere was on that lower path and rounded a
bend. However, they continued on the path.
Rin realized that if they had gone down the slope, they would have
caught up to Bedivere. But Arturia did not go down. "She's
worried about me." thought Rin. She did not want to be a
"Arturia, if by chance thou may come upon a slope to take us to a lower
path, thou must take it!" yelled Rin into the wind.
"Nay! I can not risk thy well being!"
"I was surprised! Thou need not worry!" She put her hand on
top of Arturia's and squeezed it. "Trust me!"
They were nearing the base of the mountain. Based on their last
sighting of Bedivere, she was quite ahead of them. They rounded a
bend and the path straightened for a while. To Rin's relief, it
had a slope that led to a lower path. "Arturia!" she cried.
As if on cue, Arturia guided Haut down the slope. Rin shut her
eyes and gritted her teeth until she felt the ground return to a normal
level. She released her bated breath.
They rounded several curves and the path straightened out once more to
reveal Bedivere racing towards its end which widened to empty into the
"Tis the last leg!" cried Arturia. "Come Haut! Let us
meet thy master!"
As if encouraged by her words, Haut quickened his pace. His
hooves tore up the path with his thunderous gallop. The road
seemed to shorten before them. Bedivere was halfway to its end.
Arturia urged Haut on once more and he seemed eager to comply.
The distance between them began to shrink. Finally, they rode
side by side within thirty feet of the main road. As Haut
thundered past to win by a head, Arturia crowed with victory.
They slowed down to a canter on the main road. Arturia's face
shone brightly while Bedivere's face was a thundercloud.
"I hath seen thy trick, Arturia. How dare thee employ such...
such... tactics?" Since Rhynne was present, Bedivere reigned in
the foul words on her tongue. She got off the horse and went over
to stroke Haut's head.
"Thou only saith to come down. Thou did not saith how."
said Arturia smugly. "Will thou grant mine boon?"
"Yea, what is it?" asked Bedivere sourly.
"Allow me to ride Haut until we return."
Bedivere's reaction was like that of a child whose favorite toy got
taken away. Arturia sneered calmly at her, patiently waiting for
"As thou wish." she bit out. Then she turned to Haut.
"How could thou let thy master lose? Thou could have slowed down."
Haut snorted in response. Rin wondered if he really understood
while Arturia added, "Haut hath his pride. He will not lose to a
common pony." Haut neighed as if in agreement with Arturia's
Bedivere's frown was replaced with a proud grin. "Thou did well
though." She kissed him on his forehead and patted his cheek
before returning to the other horse. "Come. We have a lot
They rode to town and stabled their horses before going on foot to the
marketplace. Rin swore that she could feel the eyes of the
villagers as they walked by. All three of them made a rather
unusual sight among the plainly clothed villagers. Bedivere
seemed to draw stares of admiration from men and of envy from
Meanwhile, Bedivere noticed the red ribbon around Arturia's
wrist. When she saw Rhynne's unfettered sleeve, she realized the
significance of the token. Her calm face masked her displeasure
over this new development. When she noticed her own reaction, her
lips drew taut. She gathered her thoughts.
"E'en if this is her decision, I will support mine King." She
forced her irritation aside and concentrated on finding good supplies.
Every merchant that they dealt with seemed more than happy to receive
their patronage. Bedivere stopped by the local blacksmith to pick
up her repaired battle gauntlet for her left hand. She asked
Arturia to test it. Rin watched in fascination as she slid the
switch below the palm. The fingers opened and closed in
response. Bedivere complimented the smith for his work and paid
him. Then they continued searching for supplies.
Soon, they acquired the necessary supplies and filled their basket and
knapsacks. They took their horses from the stables and strapped
their purchases on the backs of their horses. When they were
ready, they rode out of the village in high spirits.
Bedivere rode off the main road. She led them into a meadow and
to a grove of fruit trees. She selected a shady spot and
dismounted. "Methinks, that tis a good place to take our noon
Arturia and Rin dismounted while Bedivere opened a pack on Haut's side
to take out a blanket. Arturia took the blanket and spread it out
under the shade. Rin took out wrapped sandwiches, fruits and a
water skin. Each one selected a sandwich and began to eat.
Bedivere opened the water skin, drank and handed it to Arturia.
Arturia drank in turn and handed it to Rin.
Rin stared at it for a moment. The thought 'indirect kiss'
floated in her mind. She shook the thought away and drank from
the water skin. To her surprise, she tasted wine, not
water. And it was very good wine.
The food was good, the meadow was beautiful and the company was
pleasant. Rin felt very happy. Her day was perfect.
"Arturia..." whispered Bedivere in a low voice. "We're
"Yea. I count five."
"Shall I take care of them?"
"Do as thou wish."
"Wait! Thou art injured. Allow me to deal with it."
Arturia held up a hand. "Nay. Let us not give them cause to
despise mages. If they invent malicious tales of thy
witchcraft, thou may ne'er come to the village again. I shall
deal with it."
"Then I shall refrain from casting. I have some skill in
defending myself. Allow me to aid thee."
"I beg thy pardon, but thou art not a warrior."
"I do not need to be, because I am with thee."
Arturia blinked several times. Rhynne seemed very serious and
confident. She was also brave enough to endure the race despite
her initial fear on the mountain slope. She could trust
her. "Thou may aid me on the condition that thou will not tire
"Yea, upon mine honor."
"Here they come." warned Bedivere.
Five young men dressed in drab clothing walked across the meadow to
them. The tallest one spoke first.
"Wael looky here... Rosen'arte lassies with no escort?"
A scruffy one spat out the twig in his mouth. "We'd be 'appy t'
be yer escort. 'ow 'bout we escort yerselfs 'ome. Me 'ome's
Arturia stood up and walked half the distance toward them.
"But we've just met. Come on, dinna be shy..." The tall one
strode over to Arturia to grab her shoulder.
Arturia batted his hand away. "Methinks that ye need a lesson in
manners, uncouth knave. If ye persist with unruly cause, ye will
find me a most exacting teacher."
"Oh, tis a frisky one." He moved in to grab her wrists.
Arturia blocked his attack and grabbed his sleeve to yank him
down. At the same time, she cocked her arm to drive her fist into
his nose. The man staggered back with a bleeding nose. His
hand went up to nurse it.
"Ye blode me node! Ye'll pay fer tha'! Get 'er!"
The men began to surround Arturia. She assumed a boxing
stance. Suddenly, there was a whistle to her left. From the
corner of her eye, she saw Rhynne standing about twenty feet away.
"Hey boys... can I have some fun too?"
All the men turned their heads to look at Rhynne. One of them
began to edge towards her. Then she realized what Rhynne had
done. She lunged at the closest man and decked him under his
chin. Then she drove her fist into the stomach of another and
gave him the knee.
Rin watched the young man edging towards her. When he rushed to
grab her, she stepped aside at the last instant and landed a hammer
fist on the back of his neck where the skull meets the spine.
Another one tried to grab her arm, so she diverted it with a circular
motion and repositioned her hands to do an elbow lock. She
twisted the arm until she felt a satisfactory pop under the skin.
The man screamed in pain and crawled away from her with a limp
During the war, she received a very painful first lesson in unarmed
combat from Kuzuki-sensei. Since then, she devoted some time to
training in Aikido and grappling. Finally, all those long sweaty
hours and bruises were worth it.
Meanwhile, the man who received the hammer fist recovered from
it. He circled Rin warily. Rin backed away slowly in
Arturia's direction and kept an eye on Arturia who was beating the rest
of them into a pulp. She continued to back away until the man
grew bold enough to lunge at her once again. She stepped aside
and grabbed his arm to execute a throw. She directed his momentum
towards Arturia's opponents. The man flipped head over heels to
tangle his legs with another man who lost his balance as he
landed. Those who were on the ground scrambled to their feet and
they all retreated a distance of fifteen feet.
"Saucy wenches!" The fat one snarled angrily and reached into his
coat to pull a dagger out. His companions did the
They stalked towards Arturia but stopped as the screech of steel
scraping on steel reached their ears. They stared in disbelief
Bedivere strode over to Arturia with her large sword held at her
side. At the sight of it, Rin wondered how heavy it was.
The blade was over four feet long and its width was at least three
inches wide. Bedivere presented the handle to Arturia who grasped
it with both hands and held it before her. Then Bedivere casually
walked back and resumed her meal.
"Tis yer last chance to leave." growled Arturia in a low
voice. "Or else..."
The men started talking amongst themselves. "There be five o' us!"
"Nay, jus' four! Trent's gone!"
"She cannae swing it! Tis too big!"
"Aye, we'll go 'round 'er and attack 'er all t' same."
They nodded in unison. Meanwhile, Rin was dumbfounded by the
idiotic situation. "Um... hello... we can hear you..." she
thought. She returned to the blanket and sat with Bedivere.
Arturia brought the blade behind her and held it at waist level
parallel to the ground. She waited until the men advanced close
enough before she swung it in a large arc from side to side like a
farmer cutting grain with a scythe. The men backed away as she
advanced in their direction, but one of them was too slow. The
blade cut his belt and his breeches fell to his ankles. He leapt
out them in fright and ran behind a small boulder. Arturia
continued her advance and slashed the sword in his direction to chop
off the top of the boulder like a knife upon butter. The chopped
top went flying ten feet into the air.
The man stared in horror at the chopped boulder and then at the
apparition of death before him. He was smart enough to run.
At the sight of their fleeing comrade, the other men ran away as well.
When she was satisfied that they were gone, Arturia walked back to the
blanket. She rotated the sword around and presented the handle to
Bedivere. "Mine thanks."
Bedivere accepted it and resheathed the sword. "Twas mine
pleasure. Mine only regret was that twas not I who greeted
them." She cast a glance at Rhynne.
"A physic must look after her patient."
Bedivere handed the water skin to Arturia. "Come, Arturia.
Finish thy meal. I wish to leave before they come back with
friends and prompt us to resort to more drastic measures."
They returned to the Aerie without further incident. For most of
the afternoon, they stayed in the library to keep Airianne company as
As part of her education, Bedivere told Rin the basics of court
etiquette. It was then that she learned the difference between
High speech and common.
"One uses High speech in formal occasions, such as in court. Tis
also used to denote a sign of respect to the person whom one is
speaking to. Furthermore, if one is addressed by someone in High
speech, then one must respond in High speech if one is knowledgeable in
it. Twould be disrespectful not to. Of course, one can
converse in common if the other party requests it. Common is used
by merchants and peasants because they lack the necessary education to
speak High speech properly."
From her explanation, Rin discovered that one could gage the social
position of a person by judging the way they spoke. It was an
unusual way to determine the other person's place in society.
Then another thought occurred to her. Arturia used High speech
with Bedivere and used common with Airianne. However, she did
this to match Bedivere's and Airianne's preferred speech pattern.
But for herself, Arturia chose to address her in High speech from the
very beginning. Was her appearance and manner worthy enough for
Arturia address her that way? The idea warmed her heart.
When they were done, Arturia came over with a book on Welsh
grammar. "If thou art not tired, shall we continue thy lessons?"
Rin's face lit up. "I am not. Pray, continue thy
"What is this instruction?" asked Bedivere.
"Since a lot of mage lore is in Welsh, I am teaching Rhynne how to read
Bedivere nodded. "I see. Then I shall see both of thee
later. I wish to brush Haut."
When she was at the door, Bedivere looked back at Arturia and
Rhynne. They sat close to each other and were bent over a
book. Arturia would point to a word and Rhynne would repeat it
with a shy smile on her face. It was quite a remarkable
difference compared to the impassive expression she wore when she
taught her. Bedivere shook her head and left the room.
When Airianne was finished with her studies, they adjourned to the
great hall to practice dancing until dinner. Once again, Rin was
paired with Bedivere.
Rin grasped Bedivere's gloved hand. Just underneath the leather,
she could feel the metallic bulge of the gauntlet. She felt sad
holding it, knowing that her left hand was not there. At least,
she was able to do something about her arm which was supported by an
iron brace. The brace was fashioned from her armor and seemed out
of place when Bedivere wore a dress.
"Please give me thy undivided attention." said Bedivere as she
swept her away into the waltz.
They danced for about half an hour with Rin stumbling and nearly
stepping on Bedivere's feet. Bedivere waltzed further away from
Arturia and Airianne.
"I am sure that if thou give me but a fraction of thy enthusiasm when
thou learned Welsh, thou would surely master the basics."
Rin blushed with embarrassment. "Mine apologies. I shall be
At her blush, Bedivere thought of an incentive to motivate her.
With a silly grin, she wondered what Rhynne's reaction would be.
She leaned close to her ear and whispered. "If thou perform this
lesson to my satisfaction, I may be persuaded to offer a hint on how to
Rin's eyes grew wide with surprise and she was speechless for a few
moments. When she gathered her wits, she protested, "Methinks
thou art mistaken! What prompted thee to think that I... would
want to do THAT?"
"Me, Merlyn and Airianne art in accord. Surely, three people can
not all be mistaken."
"Is it that obvious?" thought Rin in a panic. She shuddered
As if she sensed her panic, Bedivere said, "Fear not. I shall not
reveal thy affection. But do keep mine behest in mind. Tis
tiring to dodge thy feet for an hour."
Bedivere waltzed a rather embarrassed Rhynne back towards Airianne and
Arturia. Half an hour later, she noted an improvement in her
technique. She smiled to herself and thought, "Mayhap, there is
hope after all."
It was amazing. She actually won. And everyone else would
be singing for her. Arturia would be singing for her. She
waited with excited anticipation as Arturia sat on the stage with her
harp. To her great surprise, Bedivere declared that she would
join Arturia on the stage. She selected a smaller harp and sat on
Arturia started a melody and then Bedivere's quick and nimble fingers
followed up with a simple counterpoint. Then Arturia's voice
entered the melody. After singing a stanza, Bedivere continued
with a deep alto that was almost within the range of a high
tenor. Their voices mingled harmonically in the chorus.
[Author's note: For an example of their playing, listen to:
The Maid and Robin. Sorry, no voices.]
Rin was stunned by the sheer elegance of their singing. She was
even more amazed that Bedivere could play with one hand. When
they were done, she gave them a standing ovation. "Bravo!
"Bravo? I hope that tis a word of praise." remarked Arturia
"Yea. Tis of Italian tongue."
"After that, mine song will be a poor offering." said Airianne
with mock sadness.
Bedivere patted her gently on the shoulder. "Allow me to be thy
judge, for I hath not heard thee sing. E'en now, thy speaking
voice is musical to mine ears, so it must be that thy song would shame
the choirs of heaven." Then she smiled with sweet sincerity.
Airianne blushed at her words. "I will do mine best!"
"She's smooth..." thought Rin when she heard their
conversation. "She really knows how to treat a girl
nicely." She glanced briefly at Arturia and
As the singing went on, Rin felt that she was in heaven. When the
clock struck ten, she was surprised that time had passed so
quickly. With great disappointment, she bid Airianne and Bedivere
good night. Airianne and Bedivere wished them good night as well,
and left the room together.
As they walked back to their rooms, Rin wondered why Bedivere left with
Airianne. She was jolted from her thoughts by Arturia's voice.
"How didst thee fare in thy lesson?"
Rin smiled widely. "Bedivere saith that mine step hath
improved. With a bit more practice, she saith that I will master
"Really? If thou art close to mastering it, shall I further thy
"Is she offering to teach me?" she asked herself. Suddenly,
Bedivere's parting reward surfaced in her thoughts. "If Arturia
offers thee a favor, thou must refuse thrice before accepting.
She will think that thou art concerned about inconveniencing her and
art considering her efforts. She will be delighted by thy concern
and will think that thou appreciate her efforts."
"Oh, what the hell..." thought Rin as she threw caution into the
wind. She replied, "Nay, thou must be tired from thy playing."
"I moved mine hands, not mine feet. I am not tired at all."
"Okay, second excuse... hmmm..." thought Rin. She quickly
protested, "I am a poor dancer. I will surely step on thy feet."
"I doth not mind."
"But what if Bedivere doth not approve of thy instruction? She
will be cross with thee."
Arturia winked at her. "Then, we shall keep it secret."
"Whither will we waltz?"
"This way, Milady." Arturia beamed her a beautiful smile and
offered her hand in the customary gesture of invitation.
Rin put her hand on hers and was careful not to get too close to the
mark. She let Arturia lead her into her room. Then they
assumed the starting position of the dance. Arturia began to hum
and they waltzed in the basic pattern.
Rin felt awkward at first, but managed synchronize with Arturia's
rhythm. As she gazed into Arturia's eyes, she let her body flow
with her rhythm. They just danced and danced. Rin lost
track of time.
Arturia stopped humming but continued to guide her. The rhythm
played in Rin's brain and she kept up with Arturia. After a
while, Arturia smiled proudly at her. Her heart leapt at the
"Thou no longer look at thy feet. And thou followed thy partner's
lead e'en without music. Tis well indeed."
Rin blushed. "Mine heart gladdens with thy praise. But
methinks I can still improve."
"Yea. I look forward to it."
Rin was loving this day. The race, the picnic, the singing... she
enjoyed every moment of it. And now, dancing the night away with
Arturia filled her cup of joy to overflowing.
Suddenly, her foot caught on the edge of a rug and she reeled
backward. She reached out to try to grab something.
Arturia felt Rhynne slip and tried to catch her. Without
thinking, she grabbed her hand.
The room melted away into darkness. When she opened her eyes, she
saw that she was on a dingy bed in a dimly lit room which was
illuminated by moonlight shining through broken windows. Rhynne
was sitting next to her. Syrowe was standing a few feet away with
a concerned expression on his face. She felt really weak and
could not move.
Rhynne pulled the ribbon off her shirt. Then she unbuttoned her
shirt halfway and slipped a hand in to caress her nipple. She
gasped at the sensation. She felt lips nibbling the tip of her
ear. Rhynne's lips traveled down her neck trailing soft kisses
while her hand moved from her breast to her stomach. Her
breathing became ragged as Rhynne sucked the nape of her neck while her
hand slipped under the waistband of her skirt and twirled the curly
strands of hair over her loins.
Then the room faded away and her eyes focused on the pattern of a
rug. With her elbows, she lifted herself up. Her eyes left
the rug to focus on Rhynne's apprehensive face. The vision of
that room flashed in her mind. She could almost feel Rhynne's
touch on her bosom.
She hastily sprang to her feet, her arms crossed before her as if to
protect her chest. The kisses lingered on her neck. Her
hand involuntarily rose to touch the place where Rhynne had planted
them. "Why?!" she thought.
"Art thou all right, Arturia?" asked Rhynne who sat up.
Was the vision true? Was it a dream? Her palm tingled with
the answer. She trembled at its truth. But the truth nagged
at her and finally, she blurted out, "Rhynne, what am I to thee?"
Rhynne seemed startled at her question and did not answer right
away. When she did, she spoke softly. "Thou art mine
"Is that all?"
Once again, Rhynne did not answer right away. And when she did,
she turned her head away and answered, "Yea. Thou art mine dear
She had to get away. So she did. Before she knew it, she
had left the room and ran to the lower level to find solace in
something that she knew to be true. To her great relief, she
found Bedivere crooning Haut to sleep. At her approach, Bedivere
turned to her with a puzzled expression.
"Bedivere... I must speak with thee."
Arturia seemed very agitated. Something must have happened.
Bedivere patted Haut and kissed him good night. "As thou
wish. Come, let us go somewhere more appropriate."
She led Arturia to the library and stepped into one of the private
rooms. "Say what thou wish. This room is enchanted so that
none may hear beyond its walls." She pulled up a chair for
Arturia and sat on another chair nearby.
Arturia sat down and started slowly. "Dost thou remember the
marks upon mine palms?"
"Yea. Thou wisheth to keep it to find thy memories."
Arturia nodded. "Yea. But to do so, I must match mine marks
Bedivere's eyebrows shot up. This was new information. She
wondered if Merlyn knew about it.
"Whenever the marks match, I have a vision. Most of the time,
Syrowe and Rhynne art in the vision. But they both look
younger. Tonight, mine hand touched Rhynne's as I tried to stay
her fall. And I beheld a vision of a most disturbing
nature. I was in a dark room upon a bed with Rhynne. She...
she... touched my bosom. And then she bit mine ear and swept
kisses down mine neck... and then her hand... her hand slipped under
mine skirt to... to touch mine..."
"Thou need not tell me if it makes thee uneasy." interrupted
Bedivere. She had heard enough. Her face was hot and was
probably as flushed as Arturia's. Her description matched
Syrowe's memories of the mana transfer incident.
Bedivere's thoughts raged with disgust. "Damn these mages and
their perverted rituals! Why must mana transfers require such
intimate contact?" Involuntarily, her hand covered her
mouth. She had no right to complain. Each courtly greeting
shared with Arturia transferred the mana that maintained her
youth. She returned her hand to her lap and wondered how she
should deal with Arturia. Since she had seen Syrowe's point of
view, perhaps it would be best to determine Arturia's state of
"How didst thou feel when she touched thee?"
"I felt... embarrassed. Syrowe was watching and..."
"What if Syrowe was not there? How didst thou feel?"
"... Her touch... made mine skin tingle. Her kisses filled me
with a strange sense of exhilaration. But... I felt that it was
"It seemeth to me... that she hath done so out of necessity.
During that time, I felt weak... so weak. I did not want her to
do something inappropriate because of mine weakness."
"Aha!" exclaimed Bedivere internally. A mote of
understanding formed in Bedivere's mind. Arturia was more
concerned that Rhynne was being forced to touch her. Now she had
something to work with.
"Arturia, tis not a flaw upon thy character to ask for aid."
"But... to do such an... an intimate thing with me... tis far too much
"Dost thou revile her touch?"
"Oh, so will thou accept her touch?"
Arturia fell silent. Was it all right for Rhynne to touch
her? She thought back to the time when Rhynne bandaged her in the
inn. Then she remembered the times that they bathed
together. Slowly, the answer crept out of her lips. "Yea..."
"So... why dost thou think that she will not want to touch thee?"
Arturia's eyes grew wide and stared at Bedivere. Until now, it
did not occur to her that Rhynne would want to touch her. It
seemed unlikely. "She hath no reason to want such a thing.
I'm sure of it!"
Bedivere rubbed her forehead with exasperation. As usual, Arturia
was being very oblivious. She had to phrase her words carefully.
"Suppose then, that she did want to touch you. Would thy vision
disturb thee so?"
Arturia blinked. If Rhynne did not mind touching her, then there
was no need to worry about her being forced to do something
inappropriate. But the very thought that Rhynne would actually
want to touch her still seemed unlikely. "Why art thou suggesting
such a thing? Rhynne is... she is..."
"Thou didst not answer mine question. Would thy vision disturb
thee if she didst want to touch thee?"
"So then, if thou knew that she didst not mind touching thee, then thou
would no longer be disturbed. Is that correct?"
"Tis true... mine heart will be at ease if Rhynne didst not mind it."
"Thus we art left with one more question. Doth Rhynne mind
"I... know not..."
With a mischievous grin, Bedivere asked, "Shall I ask her for thee?"
"Nay!" Arturia stood up with a face full of indignation and
Bedivere held her palms out in resignation. "Well, I know not her
Arturia sat down and cradled her head in her hands. "What should
Bedivere slouched in the chair and thought for a few moments before an
idea manifested itself. She smiled at herself for thinking of it
and even more as she imagined Arturia following her suggestion.
She put aside her own amusement. "Instead trying to pick up the
pieces of thy past, why not start anew?"
Arturia looked up. "Start anew? Pray, elaborate."
"Court... her...?" Arturia stood up and began to pace.
Eventually, she stopped and mumbled. "But I'm not sure if I
desire her that way..."
"Mine ears reject thy words. Doth she not sleep in thy bed?"
"That is a different matter! Mine dreams have been ghastly as of
"What didst thou dream of?"
Arturia gripped the cloth of her skirt and shuddered. "In one
dream, I was in a battle. Many fell before mine blade.
But... when I beheld their faces... they had none..."
"None?!" exclaimed Bedivere.
"Yea... no eyes, no nose, no mouth... tis very unsettling."
Arturia paused. "But... there was a knight who challenged me...
she wore a helm and smote me with such mighty blows. But
eventually, mine blow struck true and her helm sundered twain.
And, when the helm fell, I beheld... I beheld a face like mine own."
Her tears were streaming down her cheeks. She could not stem
their flow. Her heart wrenched at the sight of that face.
With a trembling voice, she cried out, "Oh! What have I
done?!" She bent over and wept into her hands.
Bedivere took her into her arms. She held her in silence.
Her thoughts wandered to that awful battle. When she finally
spotted them fighting, she rushed to them as quickly as she
could. But in the end, she watched in horror as a parent struck
down her own child.
She slew the enemies around Arturia and carried her out of the
battlefield. Then she tended Arturia's injuries as best as she
could. With a silent prayer, she went to look for Mordred.
When she found her, she hoped that her mutilated body would still show
signs of life. Sadly, her hopes were in vain and she returned to
Arturia with a prayer to God to save her.
And thankfully, God was listening and led Rhynne to Arturia.
Bedivere held her closer. She wanted to be God's instrument in
saving Arturia. But Rhynne was granted that honor. Ever
since she came to the Aerie, she could only watch silently as Arturia
showed Rhynne her kind smile, her cheerful laugh, her gentle touch, and
most of all, her trusting gaze that betrayed the warmth of her
Bedivere sighed. At least, Arturia was alive. That was
enough for her.
When she had calmed down, Arturia asked in a muffled voice,
"Bedivere... who am I?"
Bedivere paused for a moment to choose her words carefully. "Thou
art a knight like me."
"Will thou tell me about mine self?"
"Mayhap, a little. But Merlyn saw it fit that thou should wait
until thy memory return by itself."
"I doth not know. When she returns, thou may ask her. But
for now, I shall heed her counsel."
"I see." Arturia paused. "Canst thou tell me the lord whom
"We serve God and country." replied Bedivere evasively.
"Then who is our king?"
Bedivere repeated Merlyn's message with a note of finality.
"Constantine is king." It was done. King Arthur's reign was
over. She stroked Arturia's head. But Arturia was still
alive and she was determined to fulfill her oath until she released her
"Oh. Methinks I doth not remember him." Her hands gripped
Bedivere's dress. "Must I return to his service?"
"Nay. Thou art granted leave until thy memory returns."
"I am glad. For e'en thou I know not mine self, mine time here
hath been most pleasant."
"And I am in accord with thee."
They held each other in silence for a while. Finally, Arturia
spoke up. "What should I do about Rhynne?"
"Dost thou still wish to know her heart?"
"Yea... though mine own beats with trepidation on acquiring such
knowledge, mine curiosity remains unabated."
"Then tis a good time to find out."
Bedivere smiled sweetly at her, but there was a wicked glint in her
eyes. She lifted her chin with her finger and lowered her face to
gaze into her eyes. "I hath given thee instruction before.
Shall I refresh thy memory?"
Arturia shuddered as she remembered those lessons. "Nay... I
"Tis well, for I would be shamed if mine pupil neglected to apply mine
instruction." She spread her hands to her sides as if she were
presenting a play. "The stage is thine. I look forward to
"Will thou be mine judge?"
"Nay. Rhynne shall be thy judge." She grinned widely at her.
"Art thou amused by mine misery?"
"Nay, thou art mistaken."
"Then why dost thou sport a grin on thy face?"
"Thou remindeth me of mine son when he came to me for counsel on how to
court a certain maiden."
"Why did he come to thee? Should he not ask his uncle?"
"I asked him the same question." Bedivere blushed. "He
replied that he hath heard many a court lady spake fondly of me.
At first, I was shamed that he hath heard such inappropriate rumors,
but he assured me by saying that he was proud to be mine son, for not
many can boast that their mother is a knight of such noble bearing."
Arturia laughed. "Tis an amusing tale!"
"Not as amusing as the time when mine daughter sought me for the same
"Yea. It seemeth that a young maiden hath captured her
heart. As a mother, I had to caution her of the pitfalls of such
an endeavor, but I wisheth her well all the same."
Arturia's face grew serious again. "What counsel didst thou
"Not the same as thine, Arturia. Thy lessons were special."
Bedivere held her hands in her own. "For thee, I hath given all
that I can give."
Arturia blushed at the memory and looked down. Bedivere had done
her best to instruct her. She must do the same. She faced
Bedivere with sincerity laced in her voice. "Mine spirit hath
lifted with thy counsel. Know that I am in thy debt."
"Tis mine pleasure to provide thee counsel." Bedivere put her arm
around her and walked her to the door. "Tis late. Shall I
accompany thee to bed? For e'en if thy dreams plague thee, we
shall face them together."
Arturia laughed and opened the door. "Then I shall expect thee in
They laughed at themselves and headed towards Bedivere's room to get
some sleep. After they changed into their nightgowns, they
slipped under the covers. Arturia fell asleep within a few
minutes. Bedivere stared at the bed's canopy. It had been a
long time since she and Arturia shared the same bed. She closed
her eyes and remembered a past that she would never forget.
The wine gushed forth like a geyser. Bedivere hastily brought her
hand to her mouth to keep the rest of the liquid in. She
swallowed quickly and put her goblet down. Then she pulled her
handkerchief out and wiped her mouth.
"Milord, stay thy jest when I drink wine. Thou hath made me spill
a most excellent vintage." said Bedivere with a slight frown.
"I jest not." Arturia stood before her with nervous
determination. "Once again, canst thou tell me how to consummate
"Surely, thou must have heard something from Sir Kay about the method."
"I hath asked him, but he always hath some matter to attend to."
"And thy sister?"
"She is away on a voyage."
Bedivere leaned back and tapped her fingers on her leg in
thought. "Why now? I thought her Majesty was content to be
thy queen in name?"
Arturia began to pace. "Yea, twas mine thought too. But
recently, she hath beseeched me several times to... to lay with
her." Her cheeks flushed. "I pressed her to tell me why and
she claimed that she loved me. But I continued to refuse and
eventually she told me that she wanted to bear me an heir. Then I
tried to explain to her that I hath no manhood to accomplish her
behest, but she insisted that we must make an attempt anyway for surely
I will find some means to give her a child."
"Even Avalon can not do such a thing." Bedivere paused. "Is
she aware of Avalon?"
"Nay. Twas no need for her to know."
Bedivere sighed. "Tis inevitable, I suppose. Eight years
hath passed since thy marriage and she hath not given thee an
heir. She must have overheard the scorn of some court lady about
Arturia sighed. "Mine apologies. I hath asked something
inappropriate of thee."
"Nay, thou need not apologize. I hear and obey mine King's
command. I will be honored to instruct thee."
"Thou will?" asked Arturia excitedly.
Arturia wrung her hands. "So... uh... how will we proceed?"
"From the beginning. First, thou must express thy love to thy
lady. But thou must accomplish this in a way that will make her
"Sing her a song about thy love, write her a poem extolling her
innumerable virtues, and so forth. Since we have the entire day
to ourselves, why not sing me a song, Milord?"
"Ah... all right." Arturia cleared her voice and began to sing
Alas, mine love, thou do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously.
Bedivere held up her hand. "Nay. E'ery minstrel from moor
to high tower hath sung that to countless maidens. Thy lady is
the love of thy life. She deserveth much more than a paltry
wayside song. Hmm... methinks twould be best if thou accompany it
with an instrument. There might be a harp in the storeroom."
Arturia sighed. "Very well, I shall fetch yon harp and sing thee
Arturia found the harp and tuned it. She took a deep breath and
began to sing in a crooning melody. Bedivere had not heard this
song before. The harp's harmony wove through her song like
silk. The lyrics were sweet and endearing. When she was
finished, Bedivere clapped graciously.
"Whither hath thou heard this song?"
Arturia put the harp down on the table. "When I was a squire, the
bard Taliesin graced Sir Ector's hall with a visit. When he was
done, Sir Ector asked him to pen down the words of the song.
Then, when no one was near, I would spy upon the writ song and sing it
until I committed it to memory. Is it to thy liking?"
"Verily so. I am taken by its elegance. Thou wert lucky to
have heard such a song from such a famous bard."
Bedivere refilled her goblet. "Since thy song hath mine approval,
I beseech thee to take up a quill and pen me a poem."
Arturia got some parchment, a quill and an inkbottle from a
cabinet. She sat down on a table and began to write. While
waiting, Bedivere sipped her wine and munched on an apple.
Finally, Arturia stood up and handed her the parchment. Bedivere
made no move to take it.
"Nay, Milord. Thou must present thy poem appropriately.
Thou may recite thy poem to thy lady or enclose thy poem in a bundle of
Arturia nodded in understanding and read the poem to Bedivere.
Oh mine love, thou art true and strong.
No three men smite more than thee
For thy sword is sharp and long...
Bedivere cleared her throat. "Milord, thou must speak of thy
lady's beauty, her grace, her kindness and so forth. Mayhap, thou
might examine Taliesin's song for an example."
Arturia tried again and recited her new poem. Bedivere nodded in
approval. "Tis well. Now, I shall present thee several
situations with thy lady. After I describe it to thee, thou shall
answer with thy course of action to deal with the situation. Art
"Yea. Let us begin."
Bedivere patiently described each scenario to Arturia and evaluated
Arturia's answers. She explained why it was more appropriate to
do one thing versus another. She ended the exercise by saying,
"Thou must show that thou hold her in the highest regard and art
considerate of her well-being above all others. E'en if tis not
true, thou must make it appear so."
Bedivere glanced out the window and noted the shadows cast by the
sun. "Shall we have our noon day meal?"
"Yea, I am quite hungry."
"Then let us have it outside. When thou take thy lady out for a
picnic, thou must prepare the food and a blanket to sit upon. The
kitchen should have some food and a basket to put the food in. I
shall prepare our horses and await thee outside."
"I understand. I shall be with thee anon."
When Arturia was ready, they secured the manor and mounted their
"Lead the way, Milord. Find a place suitable for a picnic."
Arturia thought for a moment and smiled. "Methinks I know of a
suitable place. Follow me."
They rode through the woods and up a steep hill. They rode down
the hill and stopped by a stream. A small waterfall that was
flowing out of a rocky crevice on the side of the hill fed the
stream. On both banks of the stream were bushes of blooming wild
flowers. Arturia dismounted near a thick patch of grass.
"Is this satisfactory?"
Bedivere dismounted as well. "Yea, tis quite admirable.
Arturia laid out the blanket and the food from the basket.
Bedivere sat down and selected some food on a plate. When Arturia
finished picking her food, she held out her plate to Arturia.
"I will feed thee and thou will feed me."
Arturia blushed. "Bedivere... this... what thou ask... is it not
"Of course it is, since I am not thy heart's desire. But when
thou art with thy lady, thou may not mind at all."
"Really?" Arturia fell silent for a moment. "I am ashamed
to admit that... I would be embarrassed to do this with Guinevere."
Bedivere looked at Arturia sadly. She held out her plate once
Arturia took the plate and gave hers to Bedivere. After a bit of
practice, Arturia got better at feeding Bedivere without shoving her
fork too far into her mouth.
Bedivere picked up some grapes. "Now feed me some grapes, Milord."
Arturia took a grape with her index finger and thumb and held it out to
Bedivere. Bedivere leaned forward and captured it along with the
tips of Arturia's fingers. Arturia gasped and withdrew her hand
"Must thou do that?"
"Yea, and thou must do the same."
Arturia blushed and did as she was told. While they ate, Bedivere
gestured towards the patch of blooming flowers. "Milord, dost
thou know the meaning of those flowers?"
"When a lady presents thee a red rose in a tourney, dost thou know what
she wisheth to convey?"
"Uh... to ask me to be her champion?"
"Tis true that she asks that of thee, but the rose bears the meaning
that she fancies thee. Thus, she is able to convey her heart at
the same time."
"Oh. No one e'er explained that to me."
Bedivere sighed. "Then listen well, Milord. I shall tell
thee the meaning of each flower nearby." She gestured to each one
and told her what it symbolized. Then she discussed the meanings
of flowers that were not present. She ended her lecture by
saying, "So when thou assemble a bundle of flowers for thy lady, select
ones that will convey thy heart to her."
When their meal was done, they packed up rode back to the manor.
They stabled their horses and went back inside.
"Come, Milord. Let us refresh ourselves with a bath."
They went to the bath and undressed. After gathering some towels
and soap, they went to the washing area. Bedivere handed Arturia
"Let me guess..." said Arturia dryly. "I must wash thee and thou
must wash me."
Bedivere smiled smugly. "Thou art learning quickly."
They washed each other and rinsed. Then they soaked in the small
"Milord, massage mine shoulders."
"Uh... I doth not know how..."
"Then tis a good time to learn. I shall instruct thee."
After a bit of practice, Arturia softened up the muscles in her
shoulders. Bedivere sighed contentedly. "Milord, when thou
art done, massage mine feet." Arturia nodded and went to her feet
to massage it.
"After all this... I can not help but wonder... why thou would do this
Despite the warmth of the bath, Bedivere felt her cheeks flush.
Did Arturia hear those wild rumors about those court ladies? How
should she answer? After a few seconds of thought, she decided
that she would satisfy Arturia's curiosity but not betray their trust.
"Milord, I know all too well the demands of duty. Thus, I acted
out of compassion for those who sought solace. However, tis
unchivalrous of me to discuss any details. Thus, I beseech thee
to press no further."
Arturia silently nodded and continued massaging. When they had
finished bathing, they wiped each other dry. Bedivere asked
Arturia to brush her hair. After her hair was brushed nicely,
Arturia reached for her clothes but Bedivere stopped her.
"Nay. We shall wear these robes, Milord."
Arturia's face betrayed her puzzlement, but she obeyed. Bedivere
led her to the upstairs bedrooms. She selected a spacious room
with a large bed and closed the door behind them. Then she went
to each window and drew the curtains shut. She took Arturia's
hand and led her to the bed. She pulled the bed covers aside.
"Milord, take mine robe off. Slowly."
Arturia reached over and unknotted her sash. Her hands rose up to
grasp the lapels of the robe and slowly pulled them apart. The
robe slid off her shoulders and down her arms to reveal her ample
"When thou undress thy lady, doth not forget to marvel at her God-given
gifts." said Bedivere as her robe fell to the floor.
Bedivere reached over and disrobed Arturia in a similar manner.
Then she took a step towards Arturia and gazed into her eyes.
"Milord, please pay attention to what I am about to do. I beseech
thee to be patient and allow me to do as I wish."
Arturia swallowed. "Very well." she replied in a nervous
voice. "Do as thou wish."
Bedivere smiled and ran her fingers through Arturia's hair. Then
she lowered her face to kiss Arturia's lips. She felt Arturia
stiffen so she gently caressed her lips and brought her hand down to
her cheek to stroke it. When she felt Arturia relax, she parted
her mouth and slowly guided her tongue in. She explored the
inside of Arturia's mouth and noted her reactions.
Bedivere's hand slid down Arturia's arm and slipped around her
waist. Slowly, she turned until she faced the bed. Then she
lowered Arturia onto the bed.
She ended the kiss and trailed kisses down Arturia's neck.
Meanwhile, her hand crept up to Arturia's breasts to play with
them. Arturia gasped as she tickled a nipple.
Bedivere's lips settled on the nape of her neck. She licked it
and savored the taste of Arturia's skin. Then she sucked on her
skin gently. Arturia gasped again and squirmed under her.
Her right hand traveled lower and her legs slid between Arturia's to
part them. She watched Arturia's face as her fingertips raked
across her stomach and abdomen. Arturia's lips trembled as she
Her hand reached the curly hair above her loins. She ran her
fingers through them, enjoying its downy softness against her
skin. Then her fingers slid further to caress the soft flesh
between her legs.
Bedivere lowered her head to take Arturia's nipple in her mouth.
Her fingers explored the folds of her flesh and stroked its sensitive
spots. Arturia brought her hands up to her shoulders, as if she
were preparing to push her off.
Bedivere looked up questioningly. Arturia was breathing
heavily. She stared blankly for a moment and then closed her
eyes. She lowered her hands to her sides and nodded.
Bedivere understood and resumed sucking on her nipple. Arturia
squirmed and gasped as she played with the nipple with her tongue.
Her legs parted Arturia's even further and her mouth left her
breast. She trailed kisses down her stomach and abdomen.
Soon, she reached Arturia's loins and spent a few moments looking at it.
"Bedivere..." whispered Arturia hoarsely. Her face was
flushed and turned to the side. "...must thou look?"
"Yea... and thou must do the same for thy lady. Prepare thyself."
Arturia let out a loud gasp and gripped the bed sheets with her hands
as Bedivere expertly stroked her flesh with her tongue. She
continued to gasp with each stroke.
Bedivere looked up. "Thou must observe thy lady carefully.
Watch her face, hear her breathing, feel her move under thy body...
watch and learn how she reacts to thee. For instance, how is
this..." Bedivere flicked her tongue at a certain part of her
flesh. Arturia gasped in response.
"Compared to this..." She located that sensitive spot and sucked
on it slightly.
Arturia let out a small scream. Bedivere smiled in satisfaction
and crawled up to meet Arturia's flushed face. "Watch thy lady
carefully, and thou will know her need."
She turned Arturia's face to gaze into her eyes. "I didst not
take thee. Thy chastity is intact."
She slipped her arms around Arturia's back and straddled her.
Then with a flip, she brought Arturia to lie on top of her.
Arturia lay upon her as if exhausted. Bedivere waited until her
breathing returned to normal. Then she bent close to her ear and
whispered, "Didst thou pay attention? If so, do unto me as I hath
done unto thee."
Arturia lifted herself up with her elbows and stared at Bedivere.
Bedivere leered at her. "Art thou afraid of me, Milord?"
"Nay... tis I whom I fear."
Arturia bent to kiss her lips. For the next ten minutes, Bedivere
gasped, squirmed and writhed just as much as Arturia had. This
time, Arturia wore a smug smile on her face. "Was that
"Yea... verily..." replied Bedivere hoarsely. "Thou art an apt
pupil. Now... go down to mine loins... and feel it once
more." Arturia obeyed. "Dost thou feel the wetness of mine
"Yea, tis rather slick."
"That is a sign that thy lady is ready for thee. Feel around mine
flesh. Thou will find a small cleft that deepens."
"Is this it?"
"Yea... now take thy finger and plunge it into the cleft."
"What?!" exclaimed Arturia in surprise.
"Do it. It will not hurt me."
Arturia swallowed visibly and did as she was told. Bedivere felt
Arturia enter her.
"Listen carefully, Milord. That is where a man's manhood enters
to deliver his seed into his lady. He will thrust his manhood
repeatedly within her to coax it to dispense his seed. With God's
grace, that seed may bear fruit as a child. But... thou art not a
man. E'en so, thou may still give thy lady pleasure. This
part of a woman's loins is very sensitive. Thou only need to
discover how to stroke it to delight thy lady.
If thy lady is chaste, enter her slowly, for a part of her flesh bars
the entrance of the cleft. This will lessen the pain that she
will feel. But be at ease, for the pain will pass. And,
just above this cleft, is another sensitive piece of flesh. When
thou screamed, twas that part that I touched."
Arturia trembled at the memory. "I suppose then, that I am to
discover what delights thee?"
"Correct. Stroke the insides of her flesh and that part above the
cleft. Use everything that thou hath learned so far. Master
her body as thou mastered thy harp, and she will fill thy night with
her song. When thou had pleasured thy lady enough, a strong
tremor will run through her body and she will convulse and writhe
against thee with great fervor. That is a sign that thou had
achieved thy goal. Art thou ready to undertake thy lesson?"
"Yea." Arturia planted her lips on Bedivere's neck and
She was an apt pupil indeed. Bedivere squirmed and gasped in
pleasure as Arturia's fingers ran rampant all over her skin and within
her. Slowly, waves of passion built up within her. Then it
gathered itself to a mighty crest and swamped her senses under.
She screamed hoarsely and shuddered against Arturia. But Arturia
did not stop. Instead, she coaxed those waves to well up again,
like a cavalry regrouping for a second charge. The waves crashed
again and her other senses were dulled by the fire raging between her
legs. She threw her head back and cried out in bliss. There
was a sound of fabric being torn.
Arturia stopped and lay down on her side to face her. She was
flushed from her efforts and was breathing hard from her
exertions. Bedivere took the moment to catch her
breath. She lifted her hand to wipe the sweat dripping into her
eye and was surprised to find feathers clinging to them. She
glanced to her side. The bed sheet was ripped and downy feathers
spilled out of the tear.
"Behold what thou hath made me do..." whispered Bedivere.
"Me?! Twas thou who clawed the bed like a mad beast!"
Arturia paused. "Art thou satisfied with mine performance?"
"Yea... twas more than I expected... much more."
Arturia leaned back to lie on her back. "Am I ready to... lay
Bedivere paused for a moment. "Nay... I have one more lesson for
thee." She lifted herself up on her elbows and caressed Arturia's
cheek. "Milord, when a lady gives herself away, she bares both
her heart and body. She doth not do so lightly, for as thou hath
seen, she loses both her innocence and her chastity. Once she
loses her chastity, she can not take it back. That is why it is
so important for her to give it to the one she loves."
Bedivere paused and reflected on her past. "When I married mine
husband, I did so out of duty, not love. Our first night together
was very painful for me. There were nights when I wept silently
after he took me. At the time, he did not have a place in mine
heart, and e'ery time he entered me, I felt that he invaded mine heart."
A scowl began to form on Arturia's face and Bedivere noticed it.
"But do not despise him so. For if it were not for our marriage,
God would not have gifted me with mine children. And, when thou
requested that I join thy court, he was kind enough to look after mine
children's needs and education whilst I was away in court. So, by
the time he joined God in heaven, he hath earned a place in mine heart
as a friend."
"So when thou lay with thy lady, think of the trust that she hath in
thee and of the gift that she offers. If thou art unsure, imagine
thyself in thy lady's place, and think of offering thyself in the same
situation. Let thy heart and judgment guide thy actions."
"Bedivere, thou contradict thyself!" cried Arturia in alarm. "Why
didst thou let me take thee?"
"Because, Milord... I love thee."
Arturia's eyes grew wide at her confession. She stared at her in
shock. When the shock passed, Arturia blurted out, "I was a fool
to beseech thee in this manner! Mine heart aches at the immensity
of thy gift. I must repay thy kindness!" She grasped
Bedivere's arm and pulled her towards her.
Bedivere pushed her away slightly and said in a firm voice, "Nay,
Milord! Thou wert not paying attention! No matter how much
thou command me, I will not take thee." Then her eyes
softened. Ever since they started this morning, she tested not
just Arturia's skill, but also her heart. The signs that she saw
from Arturia told her the answer to her own question. She tried
to restrain the disappointment in her voice. "That honor is
reserved for the one who hath won thy heart. And though it pains
me to admit it, I am not the one."
Arturia cupped Bedivere's face in her hands. "What must I do to
compensate thee for thy gift?"
"Nothing, Milord." Bedivere lay back on the bed and closed her
eyes. "At the moment, I feel very compensated."
"There must be something..."
Bedivere turned her face towards her. "The only thing that I
might wish for, is for thy permission to serve thee and stay by thy
Arturia smiled. "That I can grant." She held out her hand.
Bedivere looked at her hand until her intention dawned on her
mind. She clasped her hand firmly with her own.
Then Arturia pulled her into a kiss to reaffirm the oath of service
between them. Fresh mana flowed from her lips into Bedivere's
When the transfer was done, Arturia pulled away and leered at
her. "There art still a few hours before sundown. Shall I
compensate thee some more?"
Bedivere trembled visibly. "Nay, Milord. Methinks the bed
will not last. And twould be difficult to ride back if we exhaust
"What should we do?"
"Allow me to rest, Milord. Unlike thee, mine stamina hath
limits. And thy instruction was tiring."
"I shall accompany thee."
They slept for a couple of hours before they dressed up and rode back
to Camelot. When they dismounted at the courtyard, Guinevere
greeted them. Her finely chiseled face reflected her noble Roman
bloodline. A fragile but intricate gold headpiece which
symbolized her crown nestled in her braided brown hair. She wore
a blue and beige gown which was richly ornamented with gold
embroidery. Her poise and dignity befitted her regal
manner. Bedivere knelt on one knee in her presence.
"Good evening, mine King, Sir Bedivere. How didst thou fare in
thy hunt?" Guinevere extended her hand to Arturia.
Arturia took Guinevere's hand and kissed it. "Poorly. As
thou can see."
Guinevere turned to Bedivere. Her hazel brown eyes narrowed as
she looked down at her. She extended her hand. "The deer
must have become crafty to evade thy renowned tracking skill."
Bedivere noted the slight chill in her voice. Her brother's
warning came into her mind: "Have a care in her Majesty's
presence. Methinks she is envious of the bond thou shareth with
Keeping her head bowed, she took Guinevere's hand and kissed it.
"Methinks thy assessment is correct. I must devise new methods to
"Mayhap, Sir Kay may share his methods with thee. He hath
returned with a fine buck an hour ago."
Bedivere ignored the subtle accusation. She lifted her face
slightly to show her elation. "That is splendid news! I
shall consult him as soon as possible."
"Shall we go, mine Queen?" Arturia offered her arm to
Guinevere. The conversation was taking an unusual turn, and she
felt the need to separate Guinevere and Bedivere.
Guinevere hooked her arm with Arturia's and sidled up to her. She
smiled winsomely. "As thy Majesty wishes."
With that, they parted ways. Arturia escorted Guinevere to the
inner keep of the castle while Bedivere went to her quarters in the
The next day, Bedivere rode out for her usual morning gallop.
After she was done, she rode to her favorite tree and sat down to have
some breakfast. While she was eating, she heard the sound of
galloping and was surprised to see Arturia.
"Good morning." greeted Bedivere as she put her food away and
"Good morning." replied Arturia as she dismounted.
"How art thou?"
Arturia did not reply at once and turned her gaze to the valley.
Her eyes stared into the distance sadly. Finally, she spoke, "I
could not do it, Bedivere. I could not take her." Arturia
faced her. "Have I failed in mine duty as a husband?"
"One may argue that thou hath failed." Bedivere strode over to
stand next to Arturia. "I will not judge thee. And I will
smite anyone who judges thee."
"Thy last lesson was too harsh."
Bedivere looked around to see if anyone was nearby. When she
could see no one, she hugged Arturia. "As thy teacher, I must do
mine duty to the fullest of mine ability."
She paused and reflected on Arturia's decision. "If it is of any
solace, tis mine thought that tis better to be hated than to do
something that will scar thy conscience for the rest of thy life."
Arturia tightened her hug. "Mine thanks. Mine spirit lifts
with thy words." Arturia pulled away. She looked at
Bedivere sadly. Then she reached out and grasped her left
wrist. She put her hand on the gauntlet that replaced her left
hand. "Thou hath given me so much..."
"Nay, Milord. Thou hath given me much more. If thou hath
not called me into thy service, I would have lived the rest of my life
as an ordinary married woman. For that, I am grateful.
Very, very grateful."
"Mine thanks. It gladdens mine heart to hear that." Arturia
let go of the gauntlet. "Court will commence soon. I must
prepare. I shall see thee later."
Bedivere watched her gallop away. Then she sat with her back
against the rough bark of the tree. She closed her eyes, and with
a smile, relived yesterday's events.
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