Valorous Knight And She Named After a Revered Huntress @linwood
Chapter 6

A/N:

Another Update!...Well, although writing this claimed the last of my summer holiday days, no matter. At least we get to move on with this story. And I'm planning on writing more, since I've already written out some of the following chapter when I had to trim this one down…

Reviews please, and enjoy! Any feedback is welcome, and thank you for supporting this fic with your follows and favorites!


The following days of travel passed uneventfully. Them gaining much ground as they continued to distant themselves from the more familiar lands upon pushing on, riding across the untamable wild in haste. Taking but few necessary breaks for the horses to recover and for them to catch a few hours of sleep every now and then…But the expeditation of their journey had proven quite painstaking to Artemisia.

During the passed two days she'd begun to feel even more uncomfortable. The countless hours spent on horseback only adding to her discomfort as she could've been only able to handle a notably shorter distance at a time, and such sedulous travel had made her fear for the child's health as well…As big as she was now at the peak of her pregnancy her beginning to feel like she was to pop at any time like a grape, and the other strains from the extensive swelling to the regular, only increased aches in her body weren't at all alleviated by the constant jiggling on the saddle. Her realizing to be a real burden to the knights and their commander who'd allowed her and Accius to join them on their quest taken that it was Accius' uncle they were sent to save from the invading Saxons, and who needed to get to the estate as fast as they could and not make any more stops than was needed just because they had a pregnant woman with them, but as she had already come this far there was no helping it. She could not wish away her state…no matter if she would've wanted to.

Artemisia released an audible huff as she practically flopped down to a rock she'd wobbled over to take seat on, thankful for the break Arthur had ordered their entourage to take since their departure from their previous campsite before the break of dawn. Her feeling herself particularly awful then as she suffered from not only the usual aches but she was extremely tired…Her mind all fuzzy, the sleep weighing down on her so heavily that she'd already thought to fall off the horse if they hadn't stopped for rest. And she was dirty. At least she felt like it, to have not had a chance to wash herself properly since they'd left the outpost almost two weeks prior, since the short stops nor other conditions hadn't provided a chance for it. Upon unloading some of their effects from the horses some of the knights leveling concerned glances at her. Galahad dropping a saddlebag to his feet as he watched her now to stretch down awkwardly to remove her shoes, despite of the notable chill that had chased away most of the day's warmth her looking but relieved as she placed her bare feet on the grass. It not being hard to imagine that simple act to have eased her altogether grievance tremendously…one only had to see the utmost delighted smile she then offered to the Legionnaire who arrived to her side then. Offering her a quick peck on her lips before handed her a water-skin, them exchanging a few words until the lad sat down next to her. Giving her stomach a gentle rub.

"She looks even worse than this blasted weather", Bors mused, in grave disbelief as knelt to the ground, continuing to put together a fire from the wood Gawain and Lancelot had just provided him with. Him continuing after letting out a disapproving scoff. "She's not up going ahead with this journey. She and her lover boy should've just stayed behind…They're slowing us down, and it's a pain to keep a knocked up little girl like her around who's scared of the slightest crackle. One of us only need to fart and she's ready to scream her lungs out, and that's when we get ourselves killed if any Pikts happen to be nearby…I'm telling you, she's bad news."

"I don't think she had much choice in the matter", Lancelot remarked, one look directed at Accius getting his point across, and others only raised their eyebrows at that as Galahad crouched to dig out his own water-skin. Taking a couple of good gulps before handing it over to the awaiting hand of Gawain, who naturally had already emptied his long ago. "But despite of what would've been safe for her and the child, she still agreed to follow him here. Upon knowing it probably will be the death of her."

"Well, at least she's got some spunk, even if she doesn't look like it. I'll give her that."

"I don't still understand what was Arthur thinking…letting those two tag along, no matter is the Legionnaire the nephew of the man we're supposed to fetch from this hellhole", Gawain spoke, after also staring down at the young couple in similar sentiments to Bors him shifting his gaze to their Commander. Indeed not agreeing with his made decision. "Bors is right. It shouldn't be up to us to uphold their safety when we are already in as hot water as it is in sustaining our own lives…on the expense of our earned freedom, which concession depends on whether we live or end up taking a sword through our gut while saving either of them."

"That damned bishop. I should've cut off his little head right when I saw that traitorous mug of his", Bors grunted, however so quietly that Arthur wasn't able to hear him, even should he have he would've thought exactly the same thing about the devious man who'd practically extorted him into taking upon this mission.

"Either way, it was not her doing. She didn't choose to come with us, and whatever Arthur's reasons were, we should settle for his informed decisions", Galahad noted, his comrades turning to him quizzically, but it was Gawain who called him out on his words. Eyeing at him surprised.

"Then are you saying that you'd be happy to throw yourself in front of a Woad sword in order to save her, even she isn't but an inconvenience to us? We are warriors, Galahad. Our only concern so far has been keeping ourselves from dying in the hands of the stray bands of savages Rome has ordered us to curb till the day of our freedom, but now we not only have to possibly offer our lives gladly in fulfillment of this suicide mission, but are forced to take upon a spare burden such as her and that Roman. It's not what I agreed to."

"Is there truly a problem of having them here?" Galahad replied, locking in turn questionable gazes with Gawain as faced him with a quirked eyebrow. Shaking his head in disagreement. "The Legionnaire is apt in combat and even if she would not be, I don't think keeping her around changes much."

"Do you now?" Bors stated, rising upon managing to light the firewood after several tries, confronting the young knight while Gawain wrinkled his eyebrows at him confused. Where Bors looked less baffled and his expression was but grim as he leant lower to direct a strict look into Galahad's eyes, lastly beckoning to Artemisia remarkably. "And have you considered what the good old Bishop will do with us if we fail to save that dandy ass Senator and his family because of her? Because instead of covering more ground to get to that pompous bastard's uncle's house we have to waste time in stopping for her to rest, when we could be days closer to the estate than we are now? Well I tell you, he'll shackle us like the dogs he thinks we are and sends us to Rome to be made a spectacle out of at the arena before slaughtering us for the sport of his people. That is what awaits us Galahad, if the Saxons get ahead of us and there'll be nothing but decapitated corpses for us to save shall we continue to be slowed down by that girl and her dastardly lover…I don't trust him. Nor his sword you seem to put such faith in, even if he wasn't a lowly deserter but a common weasel of a Roman like his friend the Bishop."

"Enough", Arthur's voice cut in then, their conversation to have carried to his ears before Galahad had had the chance to respond, but as the others then followed Arthur to level a serious look at them Galahad's eyes traveled over to Artemisia. To see her return his stare after roaming upon his comrades' faces until she lastly turned to look at Arthur, Galahad releasing a small sigh upon to have not being able to tell had she heard everything they'd said…But if so then the Legionnaire to have must also overheard their exchange, but who didn't seem at all aggravated to make it seem he had. The knights then scattering from the fire as Tristan now arrived from his brief scouting trip, his hawk swooping past his head to fly over to the fireplace and landed to the other side of it. Galahad giving the winged animal a hardly surprised gaze but then noticed Artemisia to begin to stare at the bird in awe, to have never seen it before or such an animal in general.

"The area is secure. No signs of Woads. Just animal prints", Tristan informed their Commander, Arthur nodding, but the words they then exchanged was inaudible to the rest of them. Tristan next dismounting his own horse and claiming a spot by the fire after taking a familiar looking rolled up animal skin out of his own effects. Alerted the falcon jumping into the air and flying to a nearby tree at the sight of it, and not but shortly Artemisia watched in surprise as the bird took off to his wings again to catch something Tristan had thrown in the air. After a brief moment of wonder her realizing it to be meat as the bird returned back to his perch on the tree branch, just before her attention was claimed by Arthur who then walked over to her and Accius. Smiling down at her as soon cast a look to the nearby thicket that edged a low hill behind it.

"I'm told there is a small pond nearby. If you wish you can take this opportunity to wash up. There should still be a few days' journey until we reach your uncle's estate", Arthur told her, until he lastly turned to acknowledge Accius who gave the man a confirmative nod, to have traveled to uncle Marius' lands before as a little boy even he didn't remember much of the said visit nor journey…Only that it had been much safer, as back then the area had still been in the control of the Romans and hadn't been reclaimed by the barbarians of the north. Artemisia returning Arthur's smile in gratitude upon to have been delighted of the news which made it seem like the Commander had read her mind about the prospects of a bath, and with a nod she made an attempt at standing. The Legionnaire supporting her when it proved a bit difficult after she'd sat there for a rather long while. Once Arthur had instructed Accius to simply walk Artemisia down the hill and beyond a sparse group of trees to find the pond Arthur returning his focus back to his knights.

"Take as much rest as you can and eat up. Water the horses and be ready to depart in an hour."


"Keep this close. Don't stray far from it, there can be anything in these woods", Accius said as swiftly drew his sword from his belt, returning taken aback Artemisia's gaze before placed the weapon on the ground right beside the edge of the pond. The girl giving the blade an unsure glance as despite of his attempt at not leaving her defenseless while bathing, it apparently didn't occur to him her to have never hold a sword in her life, therefore making her but clueless of how to use it to protect herself…in addition to the fact that it was far too heavy for her to wield. But she said nothing as simply smiled in understanding, letting Accius to help her sit down. The young man seeing her gasp as she pulled back the hem of her dress to dip her feet into the water, finding it rather cold.

"Fall comes early here", Artemisia remarked with a silent amused utterance, Accius simply glancing at her profile silently before begun to unlace the top side of her robe. Even he wouldn't have had to, helping her undress.

"Just don't catch yourself a cold", Accius replied eventually, Artemisia turning her head around to level a look of consent at him, just in time to spot his eyes lingering on her grown bosom a hint of passing lust in them but he content himself in smiling down at her in a sultry manner before bending down to press a kiss just above her right breast. Artemisia gasping again as his lips swiftly trailed up her neck before the lad claimed her lips shortly, standing with a final sign of intimacy as his lips brushed across her ear. This time the girl flinching, but not due to what the Legionnaire then mistakenly perceived as pleasure, but something that made Artemisia but relieved when he then retreated from her. Bending then down only to place his hands on her shoulders, giving them a few rubs.

"Do you need anything?"

"No. Just privacy", Artemisia said, peering at Accius and shared his smile, until he then took off to the direction of the camp. Artemisia following him walk away for awhile until saw him vanish behind the trees that grew at the base of that hill they'd just descended, her then sighing for absolute satisfaction at the very thought of being able to wash herself. Commencing to remove her under dress, but then thought the better of it. Even if the undergarment was as filthy as was she, her however reminding herself there to be several strange men close by, and although she hadn't come to fear any of them trying to take advantage of the situation of having a young woman like her around, her still deciding to be careful…Her never knowing if some of them would happen to wander here in search of more firewood perhaps…But nevertheless, Arthur had made it clear their break to be just long enough for her to wash up and the others to regain their strength, so she needed to be quick.

Despite of what Accius had made her promise, Artemisia soon forgot all about the sword as she slowly waded into the pond. It was shallow, and it took awhile for her to adjust to the coldness of the water, which she hadn't been accustomed. To have naturally taken baths without a chance for heated water before, but to have not bathed in so cold either…The feel of approaching winter truly making itself present then as she finally dared herself to plunge into the pond and gazed at her surroundings. Seeing the leaves that had fallen from the trees, and which now twirled on the surface of the water in the passing breeze, which itself had belt quite biting once she'd removed the layers of her clothing and stripped to near naked…which had been one of the reasons she hadn't wanted to remove it all, as neither did she want to catch her death before they'd made it safely to their destination…If that was even possible taken how delicate her whole constitution had become thanks to the pregnancy. Even she wasn't at all eager of the day this baby would be born, Artemisia still then sighing at the thought in frustration. She hated to be this weak and vulnerable, even more than she usually was. She after all wasn't but a country girl who'd lived a secluded life as a Vestal, knowing of close to nothing of the dangers and temptations of the outside world…not before that day.

Artemisia refused to let her thoughts circle back to that which always came to torment her so, then simply focusing on getting herself cleaned. Without the luxury of soaps her having to do with the nature water, but as soon as she was finished and she begun to climb out of the pond she was struck with the ever so sudden need to relieve herself…Which continued to be one of the several peeves she had to deal with, which didn't make the hours of riding any easier. Artemisia this time around releasing an annoyed utterance as she made it back to the dry ground, after scouring the vicinity for a suitable spot for her to ease nature stretching a hand to grab the bag she'd brought with her. One that contained the little spare clothes she had, fishing out a dry under dress. Letting out a strained breath for the effort of that simple action. Yes, she after all would count days till this grievance of just trying to do things normally without a need to admit she couldn't would end.

However just after she'd managed to take off the wet undergarment and replaced it with the clean one, she suddenly heard a loud rustling sound coming from somewhere behind her. Accompanied by an abrupt shrill wailing of an animal as she then turned and found herself surprised by something that in that following moment rushed out of the bushes. Scampering straight towards her and startling her to death as she could but take a panicked step back. The animal that then revealed to be a wild boar coming to a brief halt at the as sudden sight of her, its loud, clearly scared screams quieting down briefly as it stared back at equally frightened Artemisia until the boar took off to the direction of the bushes at the opposing side of the pond. Artemisia crying out as she felt the sharp tusk of the boar to scrape her thigh as it fled, Artemisia struggling to keep her balance and grabbed onto the closest tree to stay on her feet as she stared after the disappeared boar. The trail of blood that led to the spot it had vanished explaining the frenzy the animal had been in, as it apparently was wounded. Artemisia only wondering why as she then sighed in relief, feeling her heart to still throb against her chest as she straightened, waddling over to the bag to examine its contents. To find something to bind the wound with, as despite of the boar's tusk to have not left a big wound, it bled a lot.

"Is everything alright?" Artemisia heard one of Arthur's knights exclaim, Gawain probably by the sound of the voice she assumed, Artemisia curtly glancing to the direction of the camp as finally her fingers discovered the hem of her one remaining spare dress. Her standing up against stiffly with a huff before answered, Accius' voice soon after calling out to her as she didn't respond right away. The sound of branches snapping preventing her then from doing so, after a brief instant of listening her however deeming it to be the boar roaming about somewhere nearby.

"Artemisia?" Accius called loudly, now drawing the attention of the rest of the knights whose eyes traveled over to the young Legionnaire standing at the top of the hill. Several seconds ticking by without the young woman responding and sudden tension had time to build up as the knights exchanged looks with each other, suspicious. Until finally they all heard Artemisia's voice shout up to them.

"I'm alright! It was just just an animal!"

"You don't say", Lancelot mused, despite of his declarative tone saying this out of amusement. Galahad shaking his head at him before stood up, as his intention to go to his horse to check that the saddle and the rest of the bags were secured.

"Better a rabbit than a woad", Bors stated, his comrades chuckling to his comment, but Accius wasn't very amused by the man once Bors then beckoned to him and his empty sheath. Stating out exactly what Artemisia had been thinking. "A lot of good that sword does for her when she isn't even strong enough to lift it!"

"Well if your comrade there did his job properly, she will not need it", Accius retorted, not very civily obviously and his stare bordering close to a scowl then moved over to Galahad who finally spoke up again. His gaze equally grim.

"And despite of your confidence in that you left her down there with one anyway."

Artemisia took out the last clean dress she had, with a curt chagrined frown about to rip the hem to get the bandages she needed for she didn't want to worry Accius by returning wounded, even if just slightly. However thinking the better of it as looked down at her under dress, realizing it to be less waste to get a few strips from it than from one of the three sole gowns she owned. But just as she took it in her hand she suddenly heard a distinct growling sound from the same bushes the boar had appeared earlier, in following confusion her turning around again only to petrify as she noticed a couple of wolves to have appeared by the pond. Big ones, her to have never seen such animals this huge…As she then came to understand them to be after their apparent quarry which had just startled her by scampering out of the forest in fear, only now her understanding fully why after remembering the wounds she'd spotted on the boar. These wolves to have chased it here after injuring it in middle of an apparent hunt, as Artemisia then watched the wolves begin to approach and round the pond at the sight of her, her filling with terror as she immediately backed away. The growling of the animals intensifying as they saw her move, not long after Artemisia following them to expose their teeth at her, her voice getting caught in her throat and prevented her from calling for help her as the wolves came now spread out more to what she only assumed surround her. Artemisia hurrying back into the pond as quickly as she could, the other of the wolves who'd noticed her clumsy movements probably assuming her as suitable prey as it naturally could smell the blood that had dripped from her wound and tried to take a bite out of her ankle. Artemisia running to the other side of the pond, not turning her back to the approaching predators as then stared at them horrified, which she then noticed to have wounds on their bodies as well, made perhaps by the boar's tusks. Her not however dwelling much on the fact and only leveling panicked glances towards the nearby camp as felt herself begin to tremble all over once that same wolf then continued to round the pond. Letting out a frightening bark before it morphed into another horrendous growl, the second one setting her into a full panic as she now watched it enter the pond. About to cross it to get to her, her then scrambling to locate something to protect herself with after casting a fearful look at Accius' sword which was far beyond her reach, the wolves blocking her way, her castigating herself for to have not done as Accius had said by remaining beside it. Artemisia's fingers squeezing around the block of wood she'd managed to find somewhere, her breaths coming out shuddered.

"Do you have a problem with me, knight?" Accius questioned, after a moment of silence confronting Galahad by walking over to him after considering the knight previous comment. Galahad simply returning the Legionnaire's gaze stoically as his comrades all then focused on their exchange.

"Not any more than you have with calling me by my name", Galahad mused, not attempting to appear as mordant as he felt, but it nevertheless came out that way. It however not being a secret that during these past weeks none of the knights had come to even remotely like the young man, and all of them had come to question how exactly Artemisia had chosen to run off with an arrogant brat like him, who didn't display any less uncouth conduct now with his following responses.

"I have no need for your name, nor to any of your fellow knights names. You may as well be what remains of the famed Sarmatian auxiliary cavalry highly praised all the way in Rome, but that doesn't give me any more cause to regard you any more highly. I am grateful to your Commander for providing me and the mother of my child with a safe passage, but although you were sent to this mission as the invincible warriors of Artorius Castus in regards of that giving you some form of right to withspeak me, you are wrong, Sarmatian. Because you are nothing but a slave, to Rome, and to me. And as long as you are yet to return back to the outpost to receive your release papers, you are nothing but that to me. Remember that."

Galahad returned the young man's glare, the contemptuous tone which the Legionnaire had used to talk down on him however not being what angered Galahad, but the manner Accius was staring at him. With eyes that for that brief moment hold but the very look Galahad had seen many times before on other Romans who considered themselves better than him, the utter disregard he felt for him…for a slave, for someone he apparently saw so beneath him despite of all the merits of Galahad and his fellow knights that apparently were well known even in Rome that he had the audacity to slander him so openly in front of his comrades…and even without much cause. Which only spoke of his distasteful character all of them had so far become familiar with, which was why Galahad said nothing to Accius' previous remark, nor did any of the other knights who however had been visibly taken aback by the Legionnaire's so bluntly voiced out disdain. Simply stared right back at him speechless, until Artemisia's this time around terrified voice ended their slight feud.

"Help me!" Artemisia screamed, not even knowing did her voice rise above a mere whisper as so scared she was while she locked gazes with those wolves, her outcry however perhaps spooking the other wolf and it attacked first. Jumping at her from the other side of the pond, and before Artemisia even realized what she'd done she whacked the animal with the branch. The heavy built of the wolf however bumping into her once the animal was hit midair and Artemisia tried to avoid it once it fell to the ground and rolled down the hill that laid behind the pond. Artemisia collapsing into the pond herself, the sudden tumble frightening her even more as she lost her grip of the branch and she was briefly denied the knowledge of the second wolf's location, but once she hastily surfaced she only had to whip around to see the animal to stand right beside her. After witnessing the other animal to manage to bring her down now about to jump at her throat, Artemisia having time but to freeze as it watched the wolf's claws dig into the soil in preparation of the leap. Her scream of horror however dying on her lips as she then could hear the shouts of Accius and Tristan, who were the first ones to arrive after hearing her cries for help. Artemisia watching Accius to direct a shocked lock at her cowered form in the pond before his eyes fixated onto the wolf, the lad shouting at the animal to get it away from her as ran to the scene, his eyes fixating onto is sword.

Artemisia dared to come out of the water as she saw the wolf to turn, however her short-lived relief disappearing instantly as she saw it attack Accius just as he was about to slide over to his sword at the end of his short run to kill the beast. The wolf managing to tackle him, its jaws inching towards his neck to kill him, the sight of Accius battling the ferocious wolf almost luring Artemisia completely out of the pond, but Tristan's cautionary outcry stopped her. Her just barely managing to see how Galahad and Gawain who were soon followed by their Commander and the rest of the knights now arrived by their comrade, who raised a bow and leveled it straight at her, prompting her to twirl her head around. To see the second wolf re-appear and try to attack her from behind, Artemisia blinking as one of Tristan's carefully aimed arrows then flew past her face and sank into the animal's shoulder as it prepared to jump at her. The arrow however doing nothing but give the expecting woman enough time to dive under the water this time voluntarily with a frightened holler as only angered by this newest injury the animal attacked nevertheless. Despite of the second arrow Tristan fired to finish the beast, the formed splash of water affecting his aim enough for the wolf to survive, Arthur ordering his men to aid in killing the animals and getting Artemisia out of the pond as himself landed a strike at the wolf currently fighting against the vice like grip the Legionnaire had of its jaws. Saving him, once freed of the wolf's weight on him as it concentrated on killing Arthur, Accius flinging himself forward to reach his weapon, only succeeding in taking a hold of it, as Tristan collided with him during his attempt to dodge the incoming attack of the wolf he was battling with. The resurfaced Artemisia watching the men to topple over each other, only for Accius to lose his sword again once it was trampled by the leaping wolf as it turned around to face them to counter its failed attack. Artemisia seeing the blade drop into the pond, and before she could properly think she was already running towards it. Gawain's obstructing hand however stopping her, and she turned around startled, to see the knight to have a tight hold of her arm.

"Leave it!" he exclaimed, beginning to drag her out of the water. The agonized whimper that then filled the air telling them Arthur together with Bors and Lancelot to have managed to wound the other wolf, but the gained lacerations of the blades didn't seem to scare them as they should've. The men to have expected the animals to have already ran off by now especially due to the fact of the wolves to be outnumbered, but they hadn't. Gawain managing to walk Artemisia to the edge where Galahad stood, extending a hand to pull her from the pond, but Gawain's warning informed them of the wolf that had escaped Arthur and Lancelot. Even further angered the animal fixating onto Galahad and charged at the knight, Gawain acting fast and grabbed his comrade to get him out of the way, shoving both him and Artemisia to the side as received the incoming animal. Finally killing it by letting the jumping animal pierce itself to his swiftly raised blade, Artemisia only hearing a loud splash as the animal dropped into the water behind her while she briefly remained flung over Galahad, who'd scooped her into his arms to be the first one to fall into the pond. Galahad coughing out the water he'd accidentally swallowed before his eyes focused on the fallen beast just an inch away from him, but Artemisia's attention was now fully on Accius again whom he saw struggle with the last remaining wolf together with the rest of their entourage. Them to have managed to circle the animal, and it growled at the men savagely, taking bites of the air to threaten them from approaching. At times making lunges at the armed men, which resulted into the wolf receiving several new slices to its already bleeding sides and head. The knights however not being able to approach the wolf enough to put an end to it, for the animal was too guarded and aware of them to let them. After the wolf continued to circle around trying to find an opening to jump at the men oppressing it, Accius finally deciding to kill it.

Accius strode forth in an attempt to stab the wolf as it was momentarily distracted by Arthur, Lancelot and Tristan poking at it from the other side, the lad however not realizing the wolf to hear him, and even before he'd managed to outstretch his hand to run the animal through it had doubled back. With a feral snarl attacking Accius, Artemisia releasing a startled schriek as she followed Accius to fall back once the wolf leapt, his reclaimed sword once more prying from his hold as he was taken down by the animal. Now weaponless as the wolf rose at the same time as he, about to finish him by charging at him and sinking its fangs into his now fully exposed jugular, however abrupt arrow bringing the animal's charge to a halt and as suddenly as it had been close to kill the Legionnaire it dropped to the ground dead. The wolf's head collapsing onto Accius' lap and he saw the animal's jaws to close as it took a few more struggling breaths before dying, his eyes trailing upward on its torso to stare at the arrow that stuck out of its chest, and once they all turned to the direction the unexpected arrow had come from, they discovered one of Tristan's fallen crossbows to have been discovered by Artemisia…who was currently half laying in the pond next to the befuddled Galahad while the weapon she hold had been positioned to point at the raging wolf, which with a surprising accuracy, had been shot by her. The knights as well as Accius not helping but gape at Artemisia in bewilderment as she now released a relieved breath, putting the bow down until flopped to the ground. Taking support from the edge of the pond as her eyes sought out the Legionnaire, her heart still aflutter from the attack even it was now over. Her not noticing the sincerely confused looks she was receiving from Galahad who was eyeing at her and the bow in turns, perhaps most surprised out of all of them at least by the look on his face until his wonder was brought to an end by arriving Accius who raced over to Artemisia. Hauling her to her feet and out of the cold water before anyone got the chance to question what had just taken place.

"Are you alright? Are you hurt?" he demanded, his eyes scanning her for injuries until they hit on the reddish smudge that colored her soaked under dress, Artemisia shaking her head as a response as took hold of his hand that instantly attempted to move away the fabric to see the wound as then only leaned against him, suddenly much more exhausted than she'd been before.

"I'm fine."

"How the hell did this happen? Wasn't your knight supposed to check there to be nothing dangerous to be concerned of around here?" Accius asked as cast a strict look at Arthur before his eyes turned to Tristan, very much like his fellow knights him only returning the Legionnaire's leer like stare deadpan. Even if the young man was aggravating him not letting it show.

"There were animal trails found around our campsite. So it's not surprising to encounter a couple of wolves. These lands are probably crawling with them", Lancelot stated, sheathing his own sword as leveled a matter-of-fact look at the ticked off Legionnaire who was too angry to listen to self-evidences such as that. Too fazed still by the danger Artemisia had been put under.

"But these were strange ones…Usually animals flee from a threat too great for them to face. Even predators like these wolves", Tristan mused, examining the corpse of the dead wolf until everyone followed him to yank his arrow apart from its torso. "Especially while hunting in such small numbers."

"They were probably strays. Driven out of their pack and were roaming about these parts in search of food", Arthur said, also giving the deceased beasts a thoughtful look over until took notice of the wounds on the nearby wolf's torso that hadn't been inflicted by them. Kneeling down to give them a second look, Bors noticing the same and joined his Commander, giving the wolf a slight kick to the side.

"They were chasing an injured boar…it frightened me when it appeared from the woods…not long before the wolves", Artemisia informed them, herself now giving the animals a nervous look. Bors tilting a head at the one at his feet and placed a booted leg on top of it, causing the girl to gasp as he plunged his sword into the carcass.

"The mutt seemed rather battered even before we had the chance to hack at it ourselves."

"It's possible the wolves met with a Pikt hunting party somewhere near here…as lone strays hunting without a pack trying to find easy quarry and crossed paths with Woad hunters, stealing their prey", Arthur surmised, such explanation sounding the most reasonable to him.

"And they tried to chase the wolves away", Gawain filled in, scoffing. "So that's why they didn't back down and kept on attacking…The run in with the Woads left the fleabags wounded and bilious until they found her and decided on a more defenseless pray…The Pikts should've killed them while they were at it."

"So there are Woads close by?" Accius cut in, sharply as locked gazes with Arthur.

"They are always close. This is their territory."

"Well, this certainly proved my point", Bors cut in again, all eyes now shifting over to him as he pulled his sword free from the wolf's torso. Artemisia giving the bloody weapon a weary look as Bors used it to gesture towards her and Accius remarkably, his expression but somber as he then exchanged a stare with the pregnant girl. Her not helping but feel guilty although what the knight then said was for the most part, uncalled of, and the man received a few sideways glances from his fellow knights because of it even they had more or less agreed with him before. "We're lucky to survive this seething nest of demons to see even a single Saxon as long as we have girls like her around getting themselves eaten by wildlife…if a band of Woads won't cut our throats first while we sleep."


"Accius please…I don't feel like doing this."

Artemisia let out a breath as Accius pushed on with his advances, pushing her against the boulder of rock to keep her still as he ran his hands down her ribcage after passing her shoulders. In so doing exposing more of her bare skin while his lips slid down from sucking her earlobe to her neck, giving the spot he stopped a slight nip before avariciously sucked the soft flesh above her collarbone, something she wasn't accustomed of him doing, and with a confused frown she found herself disliking this new side in Accius that she'd just recently been introduced to. Parts of his current behavior reminding her of someone else entirely, and she closed her eyes once he now tried to lay her down under himself while his hands continued to roam. To persuade her to give into him, and Artemisia discovered herself to be losing the fight against his truculent caresses.

"Please…I'm so tired", she pleaded, only hearing him shush her before tipped his head upward, to give her a brief coaxing look before kissed her to silence. Stopping just shortly to press his forehead against hers until went ahead with his fondles, turning more aggressive with his touches.

"Just relax. All you have to do is stay still and let me have you... I've been waiting weeks for a chance to do this", Accius replied against her skin, missing the new sigh that left Artemisia's lips. Her now glancing at the flickering light of the fireplace that could be seen from the campsite they'd left some time before to get some privacy, although once Accius had told her to follow him so that they could be alone, she hadn't expected him to have meant this.

"No, Accius…they could hear us", she reminded him, well aware how close Arthur and his men were despite of them to have walked father than a stone's throw away from the rest of the entourage. The Legionnaire however not sharing her concern as simply concentrated on undressing her, running a teasing hand across her right thigh, suddenly finding it rather difficult to have his way with her like he usually did due to her baby belly him then separating from her to move closer. Lifting her so that she was sitting on top of him.

"Let them. It's fine, it's not like it would come as a surprise to them…"

For a moment Artemisia tried to do as he asked. To relax, to let him run his hands all over her body and love her like he'd done many times before, but right then it just felt wrong. Her indeed feeling herself exhausted, smarting all over, still shaken by the incident at the pond, and as a reminder of that she then could sense everything that felt out of place in her body down to the tiniest crevice. The aches of her back and muscles added to the mental strain making her overly sensitive to everything, making it hard for her to handle even as little as getting touched by her lover…and once she then could feel the child inside her shift restlessly again, as if reminding her of their existence bringing the reluctance to any intimacy back to the surface and she raised her hands to stop Accius as he continued to make his way under her dress…As his intention to remove it completely.

"Accius, I mean it. I don't want to do this."

Artemisia didn't hear it, but she could feel a sigh against her skin as Accius indeed stopped working with the laces of her dress. Straightening himself to give the girl a quizzical look, although Artemisia could tell him to be annoyed by her resistance. For this reason his own hands remaining on her hips where they'd stationed after she'd pushed him apart of herself.

"What's wrong now?" he asked, giving her a swift look-over. "You were fine with doing this the last time."

"I wasn't like this the last time", Artemisia replied, with a new sigh of her own as leveled a quelling look at the vexed young man. Now raising her own hand to place it to the side of his face shortly. "It's just too much…The days of travel on horseback and everything that happened today…I just want to have some rest before we leave in the morning…And I don't want to bring any more harm to the child."

"Do you think I'm not tired too?" Accius responded, Artemisia blinking at him as Accius then grasped her hand, bringing it out of the way so that he could come closer to her face. His eyes roaming about her and they weren't as warm as they used to…Or perhaps it was just the lack of proper light that made it hard for her to see his current expression. "I've been on this journey too. I've fended myself against savages and today I had to battle ferocious wolves and almost died…I understand you need to rest and worry about the baby, but don't I deserve a little comfort too from my woman? Besides, surely a little intimacy won't be harmful to either of you…"

After saying that Accius landed a significant, hungry kiss to the bend of Artemisia's neck once she said nothing to that. Taking that as her consent ignoring her hands that automatically rose to push him back, them after all remaining between them useless as the Legionnaire insisted on continuing with his advances. The following pleads of Artemisia for him to stop falling on deaf ears, and only when they heard someone to clear out their throat loudly somewhere close by they broke apart. Artemisia looking to her right and feeling her face to flush as she saw Galahad stand there, not even slightly as embarrassed as she was to have walked in on her and Accius, and instead didn't look a bit apologetic as he stared at them with an earnest expression. Artemisia hurrying to cover herself from any further gaze of the arrived knight where Accius only released a deep sigh of frustration this time and returned Galahad's stare with hard eyes. Expecting the man to explain why in the hell had he interrupted them, and indeed after eyeing at the young Legionnaire a moment with barely hold back disapproval Galahad nodded towards the campsite. Walking over to the river that ran across the forest next to them, crouching down to wash up the wooden bowl in his hand…Although the real reason he'd decided to leave the camp was that he'd been able to hear majority of their previous exchange after walking over to his saddlebags to fetch his water-skin, and after given the chance spying on the girl with the Legionnaire and not only overhearing her reluctance to submit to his desires but witnessing it…Convenient interruption therefore feeling like a right thing to orchestrate at the moment, despite of Accius currently glowering at him from the corner of his eye because of it.

"Your watch will begin in two hours. Arthur's orders…So I'd get some sleep now if I were you", Galahad informed him, gazing back at Accius for a moment more until turned his eyes were cast down to the bowl he was rinsing. With an irritated scoff the Legionnaire then rising to his feet, leaving abashed and somewhat baffled Artemisia sit alone by the cluster or rocks. Galahad letting out a deep breath as then turned to gaze after the Legionnaire whom he then indeed witnessed to lay down next to his horse, the knight's eyes however then drifting to Artemisia who only briefly returned his stare until looked away shyly. Understanding fully why Galahad then tilting his head in slight embarrassment as well upon admitting to have indeed seen her partly undressed, so not blaming the girl for not being able to look at him he rose and walked over to her. Putting out the small fire the Legionnaire had lit with the bowlful of water until offered Artemisia a small smile, beckoning towards the camp.

"You shouldn't stay here too long. It's warmer by the fire."

Despite of it not being Galahad's turn to keep watch, instead of heading for his own berth he walked back to the fire, not feeling like sleeping yet sitting beside it after exchanging a nod with Lancelot who was standing some distance away. Leaning against a tree trunk, but although his weapon had been placed right next to him, he didn't appear all that alert to the younger knight. Him then at times wondering if Lancelot had fallen asleep even when Galahad didn't see him move at all for a long period of times eventually the slight turn of his head or twitch of his leg informing the younger man that not to be the case…Lancelot keeping a careful watch of the surrounding darkness. It was always a risk to light a fire within hostile territory, but as cold as the nights could become at this time of the year, they'd rather signal their exact position to the enemy than freeze. For this reason always having someone keeping watch while others slept.

After some time Galahad saw Artemisia walk out of the woods, quick glance directed her way telling him her to have gotten over the previous embarrassment of getting discovered with Accius by him, but she still was swift to evade his gaze once he welcomed her with a new fleeting smile. Him spying her to come to a dithering halt beside the spot her lover was sleeping at until thought the better of following his example. Instead walking over to the fire herself, taking a seat next to Galahad, or she tried as her stomach made it very challenging for her to find a comfortable position. The knight giving her midriff a compassionate glance until observed her to content herself in the one she was in now, them both then simply staring into the flames for a moment, until Galahad took hold of his sword. Driven by suddenly surfaced memories making him thoughtful his full focus then getting drawn to the weapon in his lap. Lured by his silent demeanor soon Artemisia looking up to him, watching him to run his fingers across the detailing of the sheath and the weapon's handle, kind of which she'd never seen on any of the Roman swords worn by Roman soldiers like Accius. Homesickness suddenly hitting against her like a tidal wave as she then came to recall the temple and the peaceful life she'd led there, her mind going even further and faintly remembering her years spent in Greece with her family as she watched Galahad to caress his weapon under similar kind of reverie she was in…Yearning evident in the motions of his hands that then gripped to the sheath, Artemisia following him to draw out the blade, to reveal more detailed, strange engravings on the steel which she could only assume to be native to where he was from…Galahad however soon taking notice of her interest in his most trusted weapon and he took her aback by next extending the sword to her after re-sheathing it.

"Do you want to hold it?"

In spite of her clear fascination Galahad could see Artemisia to hesitate although she didn't refuse his offer, finally accepting the sword he was offering to her. However just before her fingers grasped the weapon's hilt Galahad noticing her hand to jerk back a bit, a telltale of clear reluctance after all, and his smile then turned gloomy as he figured to know why that was. Unknowingly reading too much into Artemisia's behavior at the moment, but now only mistaking simple uncertainty with actual fright he cast his eyes down momentarily.

"I thought you said you weren't afraid of me", he mused. Coming to remember the careful looks he'd received from her mostly whenever he'd allowed himself to get more close to her in means of pure kindness like coming over to hand her a extra blanket whenever she'd stayed up like this due to her ailments or helped her either mount or dismount from the horse…Him therefore figuring the reserved bearing she'd often displayed during whenever he'd tried to engage into a full conversation with her during their so far journey to signal her to find his presence unnerving…as if she was really scared of him. And she was acting exactly like so now. However her then surprising the knight by looking at him in protest, until her gaze then dropped as the took the sword, her current expression getting then shadowed by doubt after all when she replied. Galahad nevertheless not being able to think ill of her due to her honesty as frankly he could perfectly understand why she then said what she said…as had often wondered something similar himself during nights such as this…While kept awake by his reminiscing thoughts of the faraway past…and somewhat unsettling musings of the present.

"I'm not…But rather the person you become when you wield this sword", she admitted, after a short surprise earning a smile of consent from the knight. But it was also a sad smile, and she could clearly see sorrow deep within his eyes as he spoke.

"You're right. It's true that I am but a murderer when I use that sword, and throughout the years it has been hardened by cutting of many throats and endless spilling of blood…But now in your hand it almost looks like a mere instrument of divine peace and prosperity…As if while wielded by you it couldn't hurt a soul", Galahad agreed after taking Artemisia in with his blade. Even if speaking perhaps boldly deciding to be honest himself, having no reason to try to change how he already knew Artemisia to see him and his brothers in arms after but learning to know them as mere warriors, as it was but true. Without a doubt him must've appeared like a cold blooded killer to her without a question since it was all the more difficult for him as well to view himself as anything but that, so it wouldn't be no wonder if she actually feared to be with him alone like this despite of claiming otherwise…However instead of any indication of such fear, this time around him now seeing but understanding and wonder to occupy her mien after a fleeting, givenly unnerved expression. Her eyes then remaining cast down to examine the decorations imbedded into the blade, curious her also running her fingers along the unfamiliar symbols until after awhile she handed the sword back to him. Smiling at him.

"It's beautiful…for a sword that only cuts throats and takes lives."

"It was my father's. The only thing he has really ever given me", Galahad revealed, waking more of Artemisia's already sparked interest about his origin.

"Where is your family?" she asked, and although Galahad appeared genuinely happy about talking about his roots, she still spotted a shade of that same wistfulness to cast a shadow over the sincere joy the remembering of his family brought to him.

"Far away. In a land that isn't even considered as one anymore, referred to with its old name only by those who've endured the dividing of its people and abolishment of its right to be perceived as a country…Sarmatia. Although I do not know whether my father or the rest of my family even live…There weren't many of us left when they came to collect me."

Artemisia was confused by this, frowning as leveled a quizzical look at Galahad. "Who?"

"The Romans. It's been generations since they came and enslaved my people... Declaring that each boy born into the families of our survived clan had to be assigned to the service of the Roman army at the age of ten as dictated by the law ordained by our oppressers, who once conquered our land and defeated our warriors before merging what was left of our home with the rest of their conquests. Making them our masters, and to express our good will and obedience to Rome…our people has been forced to part with their sons for the sake of Roman glory ever since", Galahad explained. His story shocking Artemisia, although something like that wasn't unheard of to her, as she had lived as a citizen of Rome her whole life and had heard of the many atrocities the Emperors had committed in order to expand their Empire…However as she now saw Galahad and realized the anguish he was under due to the distress his people had to face day by day even now, Artemisia feeling pity for him. Not being able to imagine how terrible it must've felt to know the land his ancestors had been born into to have been completely wiped out…Leaving behind but stories to relay the idea of what had been their home, which Galahad himself hadn't even been alive to witness.

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