Artemisia clenched her fingers into a fist above her stomach as the baby continued to be restless. Her not knowing was it the continuous jerking first on the saddle and later the wagon ride that caused the child to be this ill at ease, but despite of her pleas the baby didn't calm down. Leaving her cramping and juddering all over once hours went by and she couldn't find release from the uncomfortable state the unborn child was putting her under. Hence now feeling herself far more tired out than she should've as someone who had been spared from continuing the journey on horseback Artemisia letting out a deep, fatigued sigh…Gazing down at her midriff pleadingly, dearly wishing the child to doze off, but for naught her palms once more begun to smooth the surface of her belly as the baby kept on moving. In addition to realizing the baby to have noticeably dropped lower during the past week, like many times before her being able to tell the exact position of the child as it continued its fidgety trajectory that this time around seemed as wild to her as if he was doing cartwheels even in the cramped space of her womb…For how long he would still remain there a total mystery, although she knew enough to understand such erratic behavior of the baby was probably a sign for him to be soon born.
Artemisia's head twirled upward, to see the curtain that covered the entrance of the wagon and kept the cold brumal air outside to have been moved aside and Galahad was staring down at her through the formed slit. A water skin in his hand that had been extended to her, the girl soon accepting it with another bemoan the shift in her own position brought out, her taking hold of the curtain and pinned it to the opening of the wagon so that Galahad could lean back and properly sit on his horse.
"I don't think water is going to help right now", she stated, the truth, as frankly nothing could fully ease all the maladies she had going for her at the present. Galahad smiling at her slightly amused tone.
"Maybe something stronger then?" Lancelot suddenly jested, cutting into their conversation from the sidelines with a smirk as then threw a second flask to his taken aback younger companion who was yet to get the joke until the offered beverage was in his hand. Earning himself a gentle snort in return as Artemisia glanced at the flask in immediate denial, the very thought of alcohol repulsing her.
"If you wish to make me ill then yes, I might have a go."
She shared a new small smile with Galahad. Galahad's a tad wider as he then instead took the opportunity and gulped down some of Lancelot's wine before returning the flash back to him, next watching the girl's gaze as it dropped as she closed the cork of his own water skin after taking a sip from it. Moaning again under her breath as she had to straighten up in order to return the object back to the man, the unborn child not liking the motion and Artemisia closed her eyes in frustration as the baby landed an agitated kick against her palm in response. The girl slumping back down in defeat.
"I can't sleep. He's keeping me awake and nothing I do seems to help to calm him down", she complained, partly not even noticing herself saying her thoughts out loud, but she needed to unburden herself…at least that much. And Galahad was the only one there to listen, since after nightfall and hours of journeying Marius' wife and her son along with the injured Woad woman had all fallen asleep ages ago…But not her.
"And so if he terrorizes his dear mother so, I am only convinced that he'll become quite a rascal…Something to look forward to", Galahad mused, in amusement that however wasn't at least visibly shared by the young future mother who shot him a worn look, leaning her head to the side of the wagon again.
"Then you raise him. Deliver him too while you're at it."
Galahad smiled at this, him then thinking a moment as his eyes also settled onto Artemisia's bulging stomach in wonder. However at first prevented from replying by Lancelot who once more took part in their exchange.
"That certainly is something none of us would think of", he mused, in mirth what else as then leveled a wondering and yet still sarcastic look at Gawain riding on his right side, just behind Galahad. "Galahad as a parent…I doubt he'd ever make a decent one so don't make requests of him that are so ill-advised."
"I know you told me him to wish for a boy", Galahad begun, choosing not to respond to Lancelot's slight tease and only shook his head at his companions' laughter, referring to Accius as then reflected onto one of his earlier exchanges with the girl from weeks back, his eyes now rising to eye at Artemisia quizzically. "How do you know it will be a boy?"
"You said it yourself. I doubt such a restless imp can be anything other than that", Artemisia breathed, her eyes closing due to another cramp after she'd shot a slightly mirthful look herself at Lancelot.
"Are you alright?" Galahad asked, suddenly worried as saw the way Artemisia continued to stiffen at times, uneasily caressing her midriff in evident discomfort, which made him thank the stars that he never had to go through such a ordeal as to bring life to this world…For from that little he'd laid witness to during his time of knowing Artemisia he knew what she was going through wasn't enviable…Especially with her circumstances taken into consideration.
"No. I'm not", Artemisia answered. Surprisingly honestly as she released another deep breath, Galahad bypassing the brief surge of compassion that took him over at the thought of Artemisia's past with the Legionnaire's brother as he next followed the girl to close her eyes this time willingly. "Quite frankly…I haven't felt this bad probably ever in my life…even I should probably be thankful of it."
Artemisia's brows then creased a tad. For melancholy that then also caused her to bite her lower lip briefly, but she then said nothing of what she had vicariously brought up. Galahad however understanding perfectly and he neither said anything, simply eyed at the girl in similar sentiments as when he'd first learned of her true affliction…Although he knew it to do little to spear her from any of the pain she was under, still feeling sorry for her.
"This feels so unreal. I didn't want any of this, I…I did think of some day having a child. But when I'd be ready, when I'd decide to have a family, and…not now…Not like this. This secret that this child is…it's eating me alive. Every passing day consuming my very soul and I…can't bear this much longer. As I feel I that can't bear this child either."
Artemisia took a break as she went silent, her eyes once more shut but for desperation this time that she no longer had any reason to mask from the knight listening to her. After awhile her however continuing, despite of the uplifting words them turning her even gloomier, her overall tone renounced.
"But I have to…Even still the worst thing about this is that the baby is innocent to all that has happened…But I can't be sure that won't I end up blaming him…Especially if…he looks just like him."
"You can't think that. Give him that much power over you", Galahad finally spoke up, casting a demuring look down at the girl who just shook her head at his reply.
"I know it is wrong. I know that in so doing I'd be terrible mother to a child who doesn't deserve it…But if that happened, what else would be expected of me when this child wasn't made out of love but of violence and misery?"
Galahad was about to protest, but then again only sighed. For he realized her to be right…That if her trauma would take the best of her motherly instincts and lead her to detest the child she was carrying simply thanks to the man who'd cursed her with such burden, she would have every right to behave so. Was it right or wrong, for she above everything was a victim…Victim of that despicable man's sordidness and vileness. So it was natural for her to think so.
"Why am I talking to you about these things?" Artemisia wondered then, letting out a light laugh as first searched the floor of the wagon for answers to that question until looked up to the young knight for one. Galahad meeting her gaze as she then gauged at him in disbelief, soon leveling an apologetic look to his way. "You don't even know me. My sorrows are none of your concern and I shouldn't be bothering you with my grievances when you have enough of your own."
"Because you don't have to fear for my reaction…For I know that there is no reason for anger to be harbored against you in this matter. Only him."
Artemisia was somewhat stunned. Galahad's rigid delivery when he'd directly pointed to Argus with his condemning words leaving her speechless, but at the same time she soon realized to be strangely calmed by them…Them giving her actual comfort. Her heart suddenly swelling for this unfamiliar feeling she hadn't properly experienced even once after her assault, especially from the boy who would've expected to bring her such solace in her time of suffering in silence, and therefore she perhaps wasn't able to hide how her eyes actually turned moist at the sound of the knight's supporting commentary. But Artemisia was only able to exchange a stare with Galahad as the wagon abruptly came to a halt, Artemisia watching the knight to soon vanish from sight as he rode ahead to see what was the reason for their stop. The tug of the wagon causing Accius' aunt and Alecto to gasp awake as the girl tried to inch closer to the edge of the wagon to hear the words spoken between Arthur's knights, however learning of the reason to the curt delay only when Galahad soon came back. Exchanging a reassuring look with each of the now awake passengers.
"There's a tree trunk blocking our path. It takes a moment for us to move it", he informed, soothing the agitated turned hearts of the three. Artemisia looking at him quizzically after her eyes had roamed on the faces of a few of Galahad's comrades who slid from the saddle. Passing the wagon.
"How long till we can take a rest?"
"We can't stop. Not for a while when the Saxons remain so close. We'll have to keep on moving throughout the night to try to get some distance between us and them before we can even plan on camping", Galahad told her, despite of his earnest expression his voice regretful as he knew what the girl was thinking while asking him such. The look she then gave to her baby belly confirming it, but he then looked at her encouragingly. Beckoning her to join the other passengers in laying down as Alecto and his mother settled back under their covers. "Try to get some sleep, Artemisia. We'll soon be on our way again."
Artemisia nodded. Realizing the knight's attempt to tell her not to worry as then watched Galahad to drop the curtain, the inside of the wagon once again filling with more warmth again when the wind was blocked from blowing in. Begrudgingly the girl doing as the knight had suggested and laid down on her back, however already knowing it to be futile, as the baby had robbed her of any chance of that and probably would continue to do so for who knew how long. Hence Artemisia only submitting to at least pretend to be sleeping and closed her eyes, however soon getting alerted from her ponders by a rustling sound, and as she leaned up a bit she saw how a vambraced forearm pushed through the curtain, holding onto an extra blanket. The girl smiling as stretched out a hand to receive it, with a tilt of her head her spotting a fraction of Galahad's smile from the small slit of the curtain as she received the item until the man disappeared from her sight. Leaving her whisper her thanks to the howling wind, before she spread the endowed blanket over herself, however noticing how small snow crystals begun to float inside the wagon. The girl wondering that perhaps the brisk wind had entailed a possible snowstorm.
Artemisia found herself surprisingly gasp awake as she felt someone brush past her in the cramped space of the wagon, taking a moment to stir from the daze she was in after seemingly managing to fall asleep at some point, but her rest had been far from pleasant and proper. The shy light filtering through the canvas covering the wagon however telling her a few hours to have passed as it was already morning, but as she rubbed some of the sleep from her eyes she peeked outside. Noticing the quite dense snowfall until a very crisp gust of wind shook the curtain, blowing against her face, and Artemisia buried herself deeper under the multilayered covers that she now noticed to have increased with an addition of a small fur coat someone had placed on her. Her thoughts instantly shifting to Accius' aunt as she recalled to have seen the fur on her, but once she shifted her head to cast a thankful look at her the explanation to her arousal was given in a form of Arthur she now noticed to have entered the wagon. In addition to one of his knights who'd apparently also come there at some point of her slumber, tending for the small boy, while Arthur had gone to the back of the wagon and knelt beside the Woad woman…Who was also awake surprisingly, despite of her rather frail state. Artemisia however not picking up the hushed words exchanged between them and her attention swiftly turned to Dagonet and the boy. One look at him telling her he was plagued with a high fever, Accius' aunt along with Alecto to have apparently left the wagon, to get some air probably after hours of remaining cooped up inside the wagon.
"Is his state serious?" Artemisia asked, ending the close to unbothered silence and gained Dagonet's attention as she heaved herself upward, the fur pooling into her lap along with the collection of blankets as she met the man's gaze. The rather gentle and worried look in his eyes surprising her a bit as he then gazed down at the feverish child again, running a wet rag over his face until took hold of his injured arm. Artemisia making a compassionate frown as she behold the ugly bruising coloring his skin from the spot the bone had been broken, reminding her of how good things actually were with her while compared to this poor boy.
"His fever isn't relieving…But he fights", Dagonet answered, looking truly concerned over the boy's fate as then wiped his wounded arm. Causing him to flinch in pain but he didn't wake up, so worn out by the fever burning him that Artemisia figured he wouldn't be opening his eyes any time soon…Unless something was to be done with his state.
"You've given him medicine?" she inquired, rising arduously on her knees as joined the man by the boy's berth, eyeing at him. Dagonet casting a concurring glance at her.
"The fever still burns him."
"That is good. He just needs to endure it", Artemisia remarked, stretching out a hand to snatch the fur coat until spread it over the boy. Lastly placing her palm on top of his forehead, feeling his cheeks with the back of her hand until shifted to inch towards her bag. However failing and Dagonet had to help her, as an enormous man however needing but to take one arm to reach it before handed it over to the girl. Artemisia smiling at him shortly until pushed a hand inside to feel the contents, but once her fingers discovered the neck of the small bottle she was searching for she took it out, abandoning the bag next to her as revealed it to the knight who gave it an odd look.
"We used to brew out own medicine at the temple. This is for severe shifts in temperature. It's not as effective as we have no means of heating it up, but it should elevate his fever for a bit until finally bringing it down", Artemisia told him, removing the cork before motioned the knight to lift the boy up. Dagonet doing so as followed the girl to take a whiff of the odor coming form the bottle, making sure it was the right one, until bent forward. Ignoring the limitations her midriff caused for her as she brought the bottle to the boy's lips, upon seeing him to swallow giving him a couple of more portions.
As expected the foul taste of the compound caused the boy to cough, Dagonet leveling one more wondering look at the bottle in Artemisia's grasp until cast his doubtful eyes up to her, in the end not knowing what exactly had she just given him.
"What is that?"
"I don't know what's in it. Only that people use to come to us and buy this for conditions like this, and that myself I was given it whenever I was ailed by such symptoms."
There was a short silence as true to his character Dagonet opted not to respond and simply nodded, drifting back to his wordless tending of the boy, while Artemisia watched the man care for him. Finding herself more taken aback the longer she watched the knight, to have indeed gotten such an impression of his overall quite reserved, composed demeanor that seeing him care for someone this diligently amazed her…Proving that she had been wrong to regard him as intimidating as he'd at first seemed with his tight-lipped and subdued manner of interacting with people. And which only gave evidence to a fact that none of Arthur's knights must've been as terrifying as the tales of them gave reason to believe…Just like Galahad wasn't. Despite of looking as scary and dangerous as their reputation implied, they were just normal men…Men with no possibility to live by other than the claims made of them, as who they truly were.
"What of his parents?" Artemisia queried then, although she could've pretty much pieced the answer together herself as someone who'd gone down to the prison he'd been rescued from. Dagonet's already earnest expression turning more grim as he didn't look up to her, keeping his gaze on the boy.
"Dead. No one came to claim him once we brought him out of the dungeon", Dagonet mused, and his indeed somber tone caused Artemisia's eyes to drop as well as she sighed. Although she hadn't gone through the loss of losing her parents to death but knew the pain of not having them in her life, and she then simply cast a pitying look at the boy until tucked his hand under the fur coat. Sudden outcry of agony however alerting her and Dagonet, and their attention was drawn to Arthur and the Woad woman. To see her to have risen up to his level so that Arthur could've taken hold of one of her injured hands, apparently re-adjusting her disjointed fingers.
There was a determined look on the young woman's face as she scowled through the pain, enduring it the best to her ability until Arthur took her other hand and wasted no time in forcing the last of her fingers in place with his own firm grip. This time around the agony growing too intense for her to bear and even louder bemoan escaped her lips then, Artemisia watching with a sad frown as she collapsed against the Commander's chest, gasping for air as drew her hands against her own bosom. For her surprise Artemisia then seeing how with a pitying glance of his own Arthur actually wrapped an arm around the woman's frame and brought her close, just for a moment as she then examined her gravely bruised but once more amended fingers. However just as Arthur next tried to leave her, her grasping to him, preventing him from leaving, and the utmost look of horror and disbelief then took over her mien. Artemisia to have never behold such fear in her life, and she was instantly reminded of her own horror of witnessing the terrible things back at that hidden chamber as she did overhear the woman's following words…Spoken with such dread that it caused Artemisia's heart to sink.
"They tortured me…with machines."
Artemisia studied the shaken young woman, the glaring signs of abuse and malnourishment evident and inflicting fear onto her as well…Fear of humanity's capacity to carry out such evil as hurting other people so badly without an ounce of restraint, moral or otherwise, instead masking such deeds under supposed mercy from god…Even it was mere torture performed out of one's own anger and malice that had led them developing such terrifying tools to achieve it. Brushing it off as something meaningless and only just, not worth to be horrified by no matter the depth of cruelty of the said misdeed, just like Accius' uncle had by claiming those innocent people mere pagans who deserved everything that had been done to them…Like Accius had. Telling her there to be no reason for her to be bothered to care for people like them…for this woman and this boy who would've both died at that horrible place had not Arthur saved them.
Sudden nausea took over her again as Artemisia thought back to the disgusting stench that had clung to the place, the terrifying images burnt to the back of her mind till eternity causing her to gasp as she then found herself shedding a tear for the dreadful ordeal that was currently torturing the Woad woman even more than it did her who hadn't lived through it, only seen it, following how she next buried her face into Arthur's safe chest again, her voice gaining now slightly dismayed tone.
"…made me tell them things…that I didn't know the begin with…And then…I heard your voice in the dark."
Artemisia saw her then to straighten, the young woman facing stern looking Arthur who also was moved by her circumstance, but the very horror of it had caused that stoic look to be plastered on his mien as he locked gazes with her next. Artemisia watching the woman to study the Roman Commander for a brief moment until spoke her name, until addressed him before he had the chance to identify himself.
"I'm Guinevere…And you're Arthur…Of the knights from the Great Wall."
"I am", Arthur admitted. The woman who called herself Guinevere then gazing up to him somewhat sharply as her voice also gained a more scornful tint, condemning the man for it as then continued. A few tears also then trickling down her face as her expression soon softened, was it due to fatigue or relief, but she couldn't hold onto her hostility longer than an instant…Clearly not embracing it despite of expressing it.
"The famous Briton who kills his own people."
Dagonet and Artemisia turned to look at Arthur taken aback at the sound of this, but Artemisia's thoughts were diverted from this baffling piece of information once a painful twinge slit across her midriff then. Conjuring up an agonized bemoan of her own as the medicine bottle slipped from her fingers and crashed to the floor, shattering and splattering the remaining contents all over the wagon, as the girl instead found herself leaning heavily against her arm not to collapse herself. Dagonet and the others watching as her hand shot up to settle onto her bulging stomach until soon enough her fingers gripped around the fabric of her dress, in visible pain as the first of the greatest spasms yet left her immobile.
Artemisia squeezed her eyes shut and she pressed her head against her elbow, very much like Guinevere simply trying to get through the pain, but she couldn't hold back her voice. Somehow Artemisia managing to move over to the spot she'd previously laid, groaning all the while, until with great effort she finally flopped down. The cramps however taking long to cease this time around, longer than usually, and once they didn't even after a while it set her into a slight panic, soon the low outcries of hers luring Dagonet over. Artemisia not noticing him hovering just beside her as she let out a tired breath at the end of one of the painful spasms, but the minute the next began her hand that previously had grabbed onto her stomach now rose up. To grip onto anything, and before she realized it she had actually taken hold of the knight's wrist, but before she could do more than cast an apologetic look up to the taken aback man Accius' aunt rushed inside the wagon. Accompanied by Alecto, who however remained outside, just standing by the slit left by the curtain as his mother rushed over to the girl.
"What is happening? Why isn't it stopping?" Artemisia asked, now even a little scared as met the woman's quelling eyes. Getting surprised then however as after releasing her hold of Dagonet he actually placed his had on top of hers soothingly, perhaps also trying to calm her down upon seeing her become so abruptly flustered. Marius' wife quickly wiping away the remains of the spilled medicine until sat beside the girl, taking her other hand into hers. Swiftly recognizing the signs of upcoming childbirth from the time she herself had been in the similar state before her time of delivery.
"Are you having cramps?" she asked, her eyes flickering down to Artemisia's belly. "Surging pains in your abdomen?"
Another spasm then manifested and left Artemisia able but to nod at first until she caught her breath, locking gazes with the woman. "They're longer than before…And they don't stop. Why don't they stop?"
Marius' wife smiled, patting Artemisia's hand gently until settled her own palm onto her midriff. To feel the resumed movement of the child, until also took notice the low positioning of it…Everything pointing to the sole thing the girl so much dreaded.
"When the time comes it is normal for the cramps not to cease until the child is due", she explained, running her hand a couple of times around Artemisia's baby belly until her alarmed eyes riveted to her. "It is a painful and long process, but that is the price we as mothers must pay for the chance to bring life to this world."
"The baby…Is it…coming? No, it can't happen. Not now", Artemisia protested, in fear of the idea until another cramp robbed her of a chance to continue and she shut her eyes again. Calming down only after the woman gave her stomach a few more soothing rubs and then leant closer, her smile warm and kind.
"I don't know…We'll have to wait and see", she replied, although she didn't spell it out clearly, however answering to the very suspicions of Artemisia until she then turned her attention to the pair of men within the wagon. Giving them a respectable, but remarkable nod.
"We are going to need some privacy."
With a nod of his own Arthur then left Guinevere's side, climbing out of the wagon and went to his horse Galahad was walking alongside his own, where Dagonet backed away before taking one of the blankets at the beckon of the woman and placed it to hang between himself and the pair of women. Accius' aunt lastly gesturing Alecto to move away from the opening and the lad did, closing the curtain so neither the others outside could see what was going on within the wagon as the woman then moved over to the side of the girl's feet. Raising the hem of her gown a little until spread her legs, leveling a reassuring look at her.
"Let's have a quick look, shall we?"
By the following day they were still on the move, not daring to set up camp even for a short while until they'd gained enough ground to truly distance themselves from the incoming Saxons, who undoubtedly had by then taken upon a chase and were tracking them down after coming across the evacuated manor. The snowfall that had begun the previous day to have stopped for the night but had started again that morning, swiftly cloaking the surrounding green scenery with fresh cover of snow, and for the past day they'd been pushing on in that same light blizzard.
Artemisia was plagued with similar episodes as before, the spasms resuming at first right in the early morning until coming back again around late afternoon. In time the girl getting somewhat used to it, but each time it happened it increased her fear of the closing in moment of birth, as even she hadn't asked about it from Accius' aunt, it still had been clarified that these cyclic cramps were caused by the very fact that she was perhaps only days away from giving birth…Not even the more experienced woman being able to tell exactly, but what Artemisia knew was that even if she was to give birth right then and there, they wouldn't be able to stop…So if the baby would decide to present itself without another moment's notice, she would have to go in labour right there in the wagon.
While enjoying a much appreciated break from her amplified signs of ever approaching motherhood Artemisia had began to eye at her fellow passengers, noticing that Guinevere had gained notable strength during the passed day and was now sitting at the head of the wagon. Buried into the fur covering her frame wile stared out in the vast plains of British wilderness despite of the cold wind blowing against her once the curtain had been moved aside to allow light within the space. Dagonet to have elected to continue his journey inside the wagon also, watching over the boy whose fever had luckily gone down, but who was still weak. Alecto and his mother to have dozed off and were sleeping soundly next to each other at the other side of the wagon, where Artemisia had stayed at the same spot since yesterday. Truly not feeling like moving much, as now more than ever she literally felt like bursting any minute…Although the thought of childbirth terrified her as much as before, especially after what Accius' aunt had said, she would still be but relieved once this baby would be out of her.
"My father told me great tales of you."
Guinevere's words brought Artemisia out of her aimless ponders, the girl shifting her head to gaze over to where the young woman was sitting. Seeing her to be eyeing at Arthur with a rather sniding smile, as if she was trying to evaluate with a single look were those stories she'd been told true to his name or not.
"Really? And what did you hear?" Arthur questioned, not even looking over to the spoken up young woman as frankly had already heard it all…The mighty tales of Arthur and his knights, and wouldn't necessarily have cared for to the recounted of them…However Guinevere having another outlook to these tales which initially coincided with his own view of all the lauded things spoken about him and his group of famed knights.
"Fairytales. The kind you hear of people so brave, so selfless, that they can't be real", Guinevere elaborated, indeed not buying the fantastical façade of the stories that most of Rome told about the Commander and his achievements. Her smile now turning but amused as she raised incredulous eyebrows at her own just spoken words…But soon her mien did turn back to more serious, her louder turning voice waking the attention of Galahad and his comrades within the earshot. "Arthur and his knights…A leader both Briton and Roman…and yet you chose your allegiance to Rome. To those who take what does not belong to them…That same Rome that took your men from their homeland."
There had been a subtle accusation perhaps in Guinevere's remark at the end, but Artemisia was only taken aback by her words. Casting a wondering look at Arthur who by then had turned to lock gazes with the young woman, Artemisia to have not had an inkling of the man to actually have Briton blood in him, and neither had Accius, who also was close enough to hear what Guinevere was saying. The young Legionnaire frowning in dismay of this revelation until his eyes narrowed as he next settled them onto the man in question, now understanding perfectly why was it that someone carrying Roman emblem on his armor would show such compassion to the very vermin he'd originally been sent out here to keep in check.
With a flicker of pity Artemisia then found herself reaching out a hand, moving aside the curtain a little to see Galahad who was riding just behind the wagon with Gawain and Bors. His eyes cast down to stare at the mane of his steed while his coupon was riddled with many emotions, them all however bordering to something the girl assumed as scorn…but also sadness. Regret of to have been indeed forced to lead his life far from the lands he regarded as his home, only for the sake of some greater power assuming it as their right to rob him and his comrades of it…Of everything that had mattered to them, their very identity, coercing them to live for the sake of Rome, and Rome alone…Not out of their own volition or for themselves. Now more than ever Artemisia feeling guilt to weigh down her heart at the thought of that…Guilt of being utterly ignorant to the plight many people like them had to endure while under the unforgiving rule of the Empire, which true nature she had been greatly spared in her own life…Unlike these men who'd been forced to put their lives at risk for the benefit of their oppressors yet again only to regain that which should've been every living being's right…freedom.
"Listen, lady, do not pretend you know anything about me or my men", Arthur retorted, aggravated by Guinevere's inculpatory tone and stilled his horse to get a better look of the woman faulting him, before faced away. Guinevere however only peering up to him unfazed, by both his vexed tone and peeved exterior.
"How many Britons have you killed?" she demanded, but instead of making another accusation she seemed to be making more of a point with such inquiry. However irritating the man even further with her matter-of-fact remarks and Athur's head snapped back to her direction, him countering with a solemn reply of his own, until was soon cut off by in turn angered Guinevere.
"As many as tried to kill me. It's the natural state of any man to want to live."
"Animals live! It's the natural state of any man to want to live free…in their own country."
Oppressive silence descended after Guinevere's snappish response, which in fact caused Arthur to admit defeat. Him not daring to say anything, as in truth what she'd just said was true, her accusing him of such misdeeds becoming then only eye-opening. Him however not admitting the success of her intentions to prove his so far convictions fallacious even if she had managed to make him feel guilty…Over his deeds and so far life which he himself had began to question, especially on the eve of his remaining knights release from the said tyranny, which then had been callously taken away from them in favor of the Empire he'd sworn allegiance to using their gratuitous power to bend their desire for freedom in accordance to their will…Benefitting from their inability to refuse yet again.
"I belong to this land…Where do you belong, Arthur?" Guinevere inquired then. Her words not as harsh this time but rather placid, reflecting the pride she felt over her own people and home that outsiders saw as nothing but savage land. And the sincerity in that particular question soon did strike a chord in Arthur, and although he had not an actual answer to reply with, he shifted his eyes back to Guinevere who had been studying him closely the whole time to see his reaction. Finding a sufficient response from his current demeanor that smoothed out some of her own severity as the Commander cast her a quizzical look, even conjuring up a smile on her lips.
"How are your hands?"
"I live, I promise you."
After a moment of thought over the previous exchange Artemisia turned her own eyes away from the conversing pair, in new rush of guilt of her own, as Guinevere's words that might've been addressed to Arthur still caused her to understand to have committed the exact same sin as the one she'd just berated the man of…Regarding her and her kind as mere savages who were not to be considered as people, at least on the same level as her and others living within the borders of the Empire…The girl feeling sick to her stomach as she realized that although she'd condemned all the wrongdoings of Rome against the natives she'd born witness here, she herself had bought into the supposed nature of them as mere barbarians and feared them…Even they were just like Galahad and his comrades…People who went against the tyranny of Rome and wished to fight for their own freedom. Right to live.
"Is there nothing about my land that appeals to your heart?" Artemisia heard Guinevere then ask from Arthur. Luring her then to move the curtain aside fully to take a peek at the sleet covered cliff sides edging the mountain pass they were taking, until she turned her eyes over to the large lea on their right as Guinevere continued. "Your own father married a Briton…Even he must've found something to his liking."
Artemisia gasped as after inching closer to the wagon's edge and sticking her head out she suddenly noticed a body to sprawl on the side of the path, several others also laying in the wet, long grass of the meadow. The corpses she then identified as Roman soldiers in fact riddling the vicinity within quarter of a mile as she craned her neck higher to peer farther, until the amount of gore and the mere brutality of the way those men had died caused her to retreat back inside the wagon…Arthur needing not to voice out who were responsible of such bloodbath as it couldn't have been more obvious, however laying witness to the cruelty of Saxons not easing her already existing fears at all and she then sighed. Trying her best not to be overwhelmed by her concerns, as she then detached the curtain. To have something else to think about by trying to find Accius from amongst the riders, but her smile swiftly turned into a wondering pout as there was no sign of him. Only Galahad responding to her baffled glances cast about the people following the wagons, Artemisia then seeing the knight to nod toward the head of the caravan.
"He rode ahead", Galahad specified, knowing who she was searching for, and exchanged a short stare with the girl until cast a fleeting look at the riding figure of Accius who had joined his uncle by his personal wagon, conversing with his guards. "Do you need him?"
Artemisia flashed him a faint, dismissive smile as then extended her hand towards his horse absent-mindedly. To lure the animal over and after a little coaxing the timid horse finally pressed his nose against the girl's palm after throwing his head back, after all familiar enough with her not to be more cautious around her, for Artemisia to pet him as she answered. "No, it's alright. It's not necessary."
"He should be here. You're going through a lot just on your own", Galahad mused, to have naturally found out about her episodes as hadn't strayed far from the wagon not to notice, but Artemisia simply shook her head. Caressing his horse's head.
"I don't want to bother him…Besides this will soon be over."
Galahad sighed, but didn't say how much he disagreed with that. In this instance acknowledging the fact that it was not up to him to redress her debatable mindset and simply smiled at her. Also giving his horse a friendly tap to his neck until raised his gaze to the faraway mountains that were already fully covered with snow. The white colored peaks making him at least appreciate the wild beauty of this country at that moment. Him however then surprising Artemisia as he next suddenly threw the horse's reins over to her, flashing her a wider smile in response to her confused expression.
"I close my eyes for a bit. You make sure he doesn't wander off…And don't let me sleep too long."
Artemisia returned his smile as wrapped the reins around her palm, watching Galahad to tie himself to the saddle until hung his head, as silly as it seemed to the girl closing his eyes and in fact falling asleep rather quickly. Artemisia however not marveling over it, as he and his comrades had spent two days straight on the saddle with no actual rest, her spending the following hour watching over the asleep knight and making sure he didn't fall off the horse. However staying there remarkably well, so she figured this not to be the first time he'd had to sleep in such fashion.