I had hoped to catch up with the plot of the movie in this chapter, but oh well…things didn't quite go as planned, and it would've dragged on way too long if I had continued it.
I hadn't planned Galahad's confrontation of Artemisia to take place in this chapter previously, but it happened…and I guess it's fine ;D
"I was only eight when they took me", Galahad continued, not to have expected himself to keep on talking, but for some reason he found it then rather easy…Before he realized him to have told Artemisia a lot more than he ever shared with close to anyone…except for his fellow knights who were like brothers to him, if not by blood...but by trial.
"They'd come for the older boys like my brother. But he had died some time before, so they decided on me in his stead. My mother…she tried to stop the soldiers from taking me but once she went as far as picking up a sword to protect me, a grief-stricken mother who just had lost her firstborn and who wanted to keep me with her just for a couple years more…she was slain and crucified outside our village to remind others not to defy the Roman army…Rome. Me and all of us Arthur's remaining men…we were all robbed of a chance to make our land our own…until now. Now we are free."
"Do you miss home?" Artemisia asked then, gotten over of the remorse that single confession had awoken in her, due to the joyous smile she now nevertheless saw on the knight's lips not questioning him…Despite of him and the rest of the knights to have been forced to abandon all thoughts of freedom until Accius' family had been saved. His warm words causing another sting of homesickness to remind her how adrift and far from her own birthplace she currently was as well, but she bypassed it as waited for Galahad's response. Not looking at him this time around upon to have shortly fallen into her own ponders, the saddening story of his causing her naturally to remember her own parents.
"I would be a fool not to…But for some reason I have trouble remembering it…Aside for all the bad things that I still have occasional nightmares about", Galahad said. After turning to gaze at him again Artemisia seeing then bitter, long left unshed tears to creep behind those eyes of his that were now intently staring into the fire to distract the man from the tragedy of his past, which still hurt like a long festered wound in his heart. No ailment turning out greater than his inborn desire to see the Sarmatia he hadn't been alive to see, and would never be able to see as long as he lived...For Rome, at least from its own point of view, was eternal.
Artemisia felt such compassion for the knight that she couldn't speak, his story only causing any words of consolation to escape her tongue, and she couldn't help but tearing up at the sound of his heartfelt yearning of home that resonated with hers, which not alone could've been heard in his adoring delivery, but also felt while one now sat beside him and heard him speak of his homeland. This however also forcing her to cast a thought to the savages these men called Woads…and who despite appearing but mere bloodthirsty barbarians who hated Rome, were only trying to claim their own homeland back from the ones who'd taken it, wanting the exact same as these knights under Arthur's authority. Freedom from oppression. Her however keeping her toughts to herself, Galahad only taking her ensued silence as a compliment, and he after all didn't see any shed tears either as he then looked at Artemisia, letting out a laugh that ended the ensued quiet.
"Good that you didn't say it. How sorry you are for such a fate we've been given…For pity would do little to change what has been done for decades and will continue to be long after I'm dead."
"But I am. I really am, and…I'm sorry for fearing you", Artemisia told him then, meaning every word as locked fleeting gazes with the man. Such sincere condolence on her mien that it briefly took the knight aback until he simply nodded in gratitude once she placed a momentary hand on his forearm. Them sharing a slight smile until spent a moment in another silence, which was however then cut by Artemisia's soft groan of frustration. Galahad watching her then to once more remove her shoes, stretching fer feet closer to the fire to chase away the cold as then tried to make herself comfortable by laying on her side, soon however discovering it to be the absolute opposite.
"What of your family then?" Galahad questioned, curious as well. Following Artemisia to direct a briefly vacant look into the flames after sitting upright again with a strenuous huff. Clear longing coloring her face curtly blue again until she let out a sigh, putting on a happier expression as begun to rub her ankles.
"I have not heard of them since I entered the temple. I was but a little girl when I was sent to Rome…and I was too young to even remember them clearly. Or at least I've begun to feel not to remember what they look like", Artemisia told him, hiding her gaze briefly to her lap, Galahad's following inquiry however taking her aback, and it confused her how he could know about what he then asked her about.
"They sent you to a Vestal temple?"
"Yes…My family was dependent on hunting, but when there was not much game we struggled to survive…which was why I was sent away to Rome. To live a better life as a Vestal at the capitol, where every opportunity would be open to me once I'd fulfill my 30 year pledge to the Goddess, and like my mother used to tell me find a rich husband and never live in need again…but things didn't quite go as planned."
Artemisia suddenly fell silent, as if she had let something slip she hadn't meant to say. Galahad observing her now to stare at her midriff an unreadable look on her face, her hands rising to caress the large bump, until he claimed her attention again once he realized something.
"So that's why you knew how to use a bow", he stated, Artemisia nodding.
"I learned it from my father. Even I was barely old enough to hold one. He probably made me learn that even before I could walk."
They shared a small gale of laughter, Galahad nodding as it was exactly what had been done to him…Taught to fight even before he'd learned how to be a carefree boy…But taken his future neither he would've done anything differently if he had been in the place of his parents.
"And your people? They are made to suffer a life under Roman rule as well…how do they fare?" Galahad queried, looking thoughtful then himself as looked at Artemisia now more earnestly. Only receiving a clueless shake of a head from her.
"I know not. I've spent most of my life in Rome, and even before that I was but a citizen of Rome. My roots may lay in Greece, but I'm as Roman as any person living within the Empire. And my home... is as Roman as any of the countries within its borders. But to me…There'll never be a more beautiful place than the island I grew up in. I will always hold it my heart, and no glory of Rome will ever shine brighter than the memory of it."
"No you're not. You definitely aren't like him", Galahad protested, surprising Artemisia, who looked to him questionably until she saw him nod towards sleeping Accius before continued. "From simply what you said just now, I can tell. You're just like us. Someone trying to live as who you are despite of having to pretend otherwise…Oppressed and forced to bow down to a superior rule which you recognize only on the surface, while your heart longs for the freedom of being who you were born to be."
Artemisia was stunned, to have never thought of it that way during any of the times she'd felt herself false by living her life as a Roman although she'd never considered herself as one. It being true that she'd always seen herself as Greek, not Roman…despite of what her father had used to always say even before sending her to the capitol to become a Vestal upon warning her from demurring the prevailing regime. Galahad not either then saying anything as he also witnessed the yearning the girl had been put under, breaking free of her stare to cast another look at Lancelot.
"Thank you…for not saying how sorry you are, because not any amount of pity will reunite me with my parents. Only gods can make that happen should I be fortunate enough to receive such blessing…which I doubt, since they seemed to have already forsaken me", Artemisia spoke then, however during the last part her voice quieting down to close to a whisper. Galahad still picking up her desolate words and looked back to her in confusion.
"You're with the man you love. Is that not a blessing great enough?" he asked, not quite agreeing with that, since that Legionnaire had come to prove more day by day how unworthy of Artemisia's affection he truly seemed to be. Artemisia looking rather odd then instead of anything about her current expression confirming his previous statement, but he couldn't go telling what was bothering her exactly as she took a moment to answer. Galahad not being able to tell did her strange reaction have anything to do with how Accius had treated her earlier.
"Perhaps it should be…but then why am I feeling uncertain?"
Indeed making his own conclusions from that very sincere response Galahad then turned serious as eyed at Artemisia. His eyes eventually shifting to stare at Accius' asleep form before he voiced out the question that had surfaced even before he'd laid witness to the coarse way he'd acted towards her…Meaning then a lot more than he said.
"Are you really sure you're alright to continue? Isn't this journey too strenuous for the child?"
Artemisia looked at her stomach, giving it an unsure caress. "What can I do? I just have to bare with it until we arrive to Accius' family estate…I'll manage till then."
"I just…can't help but worry. Such quick-paced travel can't be harder to any of us than it is to you…And quite frankly I don't understand why he brought you along to such a dangerous place. Even if you are to meet his family."
Galahad saw Artemisia blink at his response, until she gazed away with a brisk twitch of her head that couldn't quite be interpreted as a nod. Him then knowing he'd said too much and he sighed, settling for her silence. But something about her face then told him her to agree at least to some degree, even if she didn't say it. It was all in her eyes that then looked so troubled to him…and he couldn't help but wonder why, but this time stopped himself from asking. Feeling himself now rather tired rising to his feet for the surprise of Artemisia, the knight however taking her aback then even more by then unbinding a pouch of herbs from his belt. Handing them to her.
"I found these some time ago. My mother used to chew on them whenever she was expecting…She said them to aid in the fatigue and all manner of ailments of the body during pregnancy…and they should lessen the swelling. They're not the same as which grow in my homeland, but they should help nonetheless."
Artemisia saw Galahad to glance down at her puffy ankles until he placed a fleeting hand on her shoulder. Smiling down at her bafflement until was quick to depart, Artemisia gazing after him in stupefaction and missing how Lancelot gave the two of them a wondering raise of his eyebrows, until opened the pouch and looked upon the contents. Belated smile however curving up the corners of her lips as she watched the youngest of Arthur's knights to assume his position on his berth after swatting returned Dagonet's arm away, who'd rolled a bit much out of his own resting place. Grateful for his ever shown kindness, which only proved what she'd already known the first time she'd seen him…that Galahad was a far better man than he viewed himself to be. Which she however was able to see clearly, as battle-ridden as he may have been. This small benevolent gesture of his giving her then enough resolve to face the following day with less concerns from before, with a resigned sigh putting her shoes back on before rose. Following Galahad's example by going to sleep.
"Sorry you missed out all the fun, Dag. But then you shouldn't have gone looking for trouble elsewhere."
Galahad glanced at Dagonet, seeing him to simply level a fleeting glance at Bors but as was his habit remained quiet. Not replying to his comment, to have already heard all about the wolf attack from his comrades after returning from his scouting mission. Artemisia to have never seen him speak much during these weeks, but despite of his apparent silent character it didn't seem to affect to the bond that along the years had formed between these knights, and the others didn't appear to regard him any different than the more talkative ones in their group. Her hearing him break that thus far lasted silence once Gawain cut into the conversation, inquiring about his yesterday's patrol.
"Did you come upon any Woads up ahead?"
"No. I found some tracks of scattered Woad companies, but they disappeared about half a day's travel from here. I didn't see a glimpse of them as I made my way back", Dagonet said, confusing his comrades, but mostly Arthur. Also Artemisia wondering about the knights' following exchange when she'd so often heard them speak about how dangerous territory this was.
"Strange for them to allow us travel so freely through their lands", Lancelot remarked, Galahad frowning at that as cast a quizzical look at his fellow knights.
"Then why did they plant an ambush for us not but three days into their territory?" he questioned, baffled as well. "If they wanted us dead, why are they now letting us fare forward without any resistance?"
"He's right. After the failure of that trap they should've chased us down and tried to kill us many times over", Gawain agreed. Despite of his grim expression not sounding quite so glum as Lancelot answered, tipping his head.
"Maybe they're as worried about the invading Saxons as is Rome."
"You think them to know about the Saxons this far out in the wilderness?" Galahad wondered, earning a remarkable browlifting from Gawain.
"They're coming from the north. The Woads must know us not to be the greatest threat to them at the moment now that even Rome has fully withdrawn behind its borders", he stated.
"Fled you mean", Bors snapped. "Cowards. Ran away squealing and left us cleaning up their mess, those pigs."
"Which is why they've let us be", Lancelot continued, thinking a moment as tightened his hold of his horse's reins. "Which could explain why they didn't either attack us yesterday after certainly knowing us to be nearby."
"Or our ghastly reputation made the bloody Pikts quail in their boots!" Bors exclaimed, boisterous laugh following his comment. "Our legendary grandeur was too much for the feral dogs!"
"I hope you're not including yourself?" Gawain remarked, rousing more laughter from amongst their comrades, Bors flashing him a sullen smile as narrowed his eyes at the blonde haired knight. But as the only one who wasn't laughing Dagonet then looked but contemplative, voicing out his troubled ponders.
"It is indeed strange how they didn't kill us back then. Since we were led right into their trap."
All knights went silent then as they thought about that, also their Commander leveling a wondering look at Dagonet after hearing his previous comment, although he already thought to know why that was…that the Woad leader, Merlin, hadn't ordered his men to kill them…Despite of commanding them to be ambushed right after entering that forest.
"So I wonder…If what Arthur said was true, why did Merlin want to spare the emissaries of their sworn enemy?" Lancelot questioned, having a valid point, but not knowing any more than a moment ago no one said anything to that. Even longer silence descending then as everyone fell into their own musings…Concerning their yet to be fulfilled mission and the mystery of the Woads disappearing from the face of the earth, even their company was closing in on the heart of their reclaimed kingdom…It indeed feeling beyond out of place for them to not have undergone any new surprise attacks from the Pikts, even it must've been true them to remain not too far behind…Because despite of the Woads not showing themselves to the knights to perhaps avoid open confrontation by the order of their leader, they still must've been keeping an eye on them to find out what their goal was to wander this far beyond the Hadrian wall. Past which any Roman hadn't dared to cross ever since leaving these lands in fear of the said savages.
Artemisia straightened from her relaxed position against Accius as abrupt ache shot up her belly. A mild one at first, but making her feel uncomfortable enough to straighten up, after awhile another wave of pain erupting. Soon followed by a third one, her not being able to hold in a quiet whimper as the smarting did not cease after a few spasms like it had the previous night. Artemisia placing a hand to the side of her stomach baffled as released a deep breath, but even she then tried to hide her indisposition from the Legionnaire he had noticed her flinch. Accius looking down at the girl and seeing one of her hands to be clasping to her belly while the other one had squeezed around the saddle. Him eyeing at Artemisia in confusion of his own as watched her then to bend her head, her breathing quickening into a slight pant soon enough as she tried to get the sudden pain under control, failing.
"What's wrong?" the knights heard Accius ask, Galahad picking up a following new moan of Artemisia's and he turned his head around to see the Legionnaire to stop his horse. Galahad also pulling back the reins to halt his, seeing the pregnant girl slouched forward on the Legionnaire's steed while the lad's hands moved over to her arms. Artemisia's own shifting to hold onto her midriff, the look on her face signaling her to be in clear pain.
"I'm alright", she claimed. But despite of the reassuring exterior she put on her voice betrayed her. The words coming out partly breathless as she struggled against the cramps, not to cry out as they were fluctuating…some of the spasms more painful than others. The rest of the group now also stopping to see what was going on, staring at the Legionnaire who placed his own hand on Artemisia's stomach, frowning in disagreement once her breaths continued to come out as mere gasps.
"No you're not", Accius stated, Artemisia sighing as she closed her eyes briefly. Deterring a grimace, Accius and the rest watching her to fight against the pain for a moment until the same thought occurred to all of them. Accius casting a startled look at the girl before his eyes were riveted to her stomach, in incredulous realization. His following statement nevertheless sounding somewhat chagrined as in a moment he faced the knights. "We'll have to stop."
"We can't. You told us the estate is but a day's ride from here, so we should head there straight away", Gawain said, locking gazes with Accius.
"He's right. It would be too risky to stay. And we're so close to our destination to stop now", Tristan mused, but he didn't look at the young Legionnaire as said that and addressed only Arthur. His Commander giving him and then the girl a stern, but soon after a hesitating look, where Accius eyed at the knights in surprise until looked but put out.
"She's in pain!"
"Is the baby due?" Arthur asked then, his voice rising above the others' as he peered at Artemisia and matched her gaze, the girl giving him a nonplussed look back because she had no answer to that. The pains she was experiencing not feeling quite normal, some of the spasms quite sharp and long-lasting compared to the previous throes she'd undergone...These pains differing from the ones from last night too, and it frightened her…For she didn't know were these cramps normal, or was the wait finally over and her body was beginning to show signs of the delivery...which in that moment she dreaded to be true.
"She can't give birth here. We're in middle of the wild and we don't have time to linger. It's not safe", Lancelot agreed, despite of displaying actual concern over the girl upon seeing her to be in true agony and fully aware how she could be but minutes away from delivering, his expression turning to earnest as he also glanced at Arthur. Also aware that they knew not what laid between their current location and the estate besides unexplored nature, despite of them to have not had to fear a surprise attack of the Woads so far, them still not knowing where there any of them close by or if the foe would abruptly decide to waylay them when they least expected it.
Another louder bemoan of Artemisia's silenced them, even the knights who'd voiced out their objections about stopping then starting to have a change of heart as they saw her fingers to clasp around the fabric of her dress, and even she did her best she couldn't keep it from them how uneasy she felt. Accius giving Lancelot a dirty look from under his lashes, but didn't have a chance to answer as Artemisia did it for him, despite of the smarting getting herself together enough to look at the knights while her hand set onto the young man's. Her lastly leveling a quelling look at him.
"I'm fine. Let us go", she said, Galahad looking at her in disbelief, as even he agreed it to be risky to stop before they'd scoured the area for any possible foes, he could see it to be very difficult for her to even stay on the saddle at the moment…And if her time had finally come to go in labor, which would've been the least surprising looking the size of her, continuing the journey would be downright impossible for her.
"She's in no condition to push on. Knights, dismount. Make camp and search the area to ensure enemy can't catch us unawares", Arthur decided after beholding Artemisia's writhing long enough. Bypassing the indifferent front she tried to keep up even under the keen and well-seeing eyes of him and his men.
"No Commander, your knights are right. We can't stop", Artemisia projected, astounding the men, as she then straightened in the saddle again. Biting down to her lip as another wave of pain rendered her speechless but she endured it, flashing then a fleeting smile. "It would be too perilous to remain here. Let us continue."
"Are you sure?" now Galahad queried, locking concerned gazes with the pregnant girl, his attention however soon enough getting drawn to indignant looking Accius who raised his jaw. Placing a decisive hand on Artemisia's arm before caught her palm, tilting his head at the young knight remarkably while glanced at Artemisia. Supporting her.
"You heard her. We shall carry on."
"Alright. We shall ride on for now, but we will search for a suitable place to make camp as soon as we can", Arthur complied, Artemisia nodding at him thankfully until her eyes moved over to incredulous looking Galahad who was eyeing at her questionably, skeptical of her made compulsion to move forward. However once she offered him a small smile, which was reassuring even if a little feeble, he gave in with a sigh although she looked everything but well to his eye. Once he saw her nod at him as well as a sign to trust in her own judgment Galahad turning his own horse around and led it after the others. The Legionnaire and Artemisia's following exchange reaching his ears faintly even they took a moment to trail after the rest of the company.
"The estate is just one day ahead. Just hold the baby in until we reach the house…You can hold on for that long, can't you?" Accius asked, exchanging a look with Artemisia as then took the reins, curbing the horse into a slow canter. Artemisia eyeing at him unsurely, but despite of her evident doubts about that she withheld her fears, but to anyone who knew her well enough could hear clearly how she dreaded for the opposite from the way she answered…If her worry ridden mien wasn't enough to contradict her reply as she then wrapped her arms around her torso again, pleading for the child not to be born just yet.
As promised, a few hours later after sundown they stopped to a suitable place to make camp. Artemisia's cramps to have settled down during the ride, but despite of her reassurances of being totally fine Arthur had still decided it to be wise to go along with the earlier plan and had them to stop for the night. Ordering them to move out the first thing in the following morning and head for the estate, assuming the aches wouldn't indeed return and Artemisia would not go into labor later that night. After setting camp Accius to have helped her settle down near the fire, and regardless of hours of waiting nothing that would've signaled the child to be on the way hadn't happened and the Legionnaire had fallen asleep by her side. Artemisia however not doing the same even it was already very late, so many things swarming in her mind, and she discovered herself rubbing anxious circles around her stomach while tried to chase away the distressing thoughts. For no avail them shifting inevitably towards the memories that always lurked at the back of her head during calm, quiet moments such as this, ready to well up and force her to remember that which she had to fight every day harder to keep locked in the dark corner of her heart…Because of that turning it heavier with each instant spent in this lie…Lie that she was about to welcome to this world as her child.
"How are you?"
Artemisia gasped at the sound of Galahad's voice, her focus to have remained solely on sleeping Accius for so long that she hadn't noticed the knight to have arrived. Her quickly hiding the upset look that undoubtedly had crept onto her face while she'd been wallowing in her guilt, turning her head to face Galahad who took a seat beside her on a tree trunk. Galahad leaning his elbows on his knees, his fingers entwining as he examined her, not seeing any signs of that previous endurance from before.
"Nothing's changed. The pains stopped hours ago and the baby's been rather quiet too", Artemisia responded, casting a small smile down at herself. Content that the child had been so restful these days, at least in that aspect easing her at times unbearable feeling condition. Galahad nodding as watched her to tap her belly a couple of times, as he then gauged at her indeed finding her looking much better from before.
"And your other ailments?" he questioned, directing a remarkable glance at her at the present covered feet until his eyes shifted back to Artemisia's face to see her smile at him.
"Better. Those herbs you gave me really helped."
Galahad went silent then, him eyeing at Artemisia and she saw his expression harden a little. The man looking suddenly so earnest while fallen into his musings that she soon looked away to escape his perusing gaze, her own returning back to Accius who was still sprawled against that rock he'd settled against while monitoring the progression of her state. Galahad observing her now then in turn and seeing what he assumed as affinity to take over her features as her eyes took in the handsome Legionnaire's mien. Studying him with such assumed fondness Galahad had never seen her express towards the lad before, and he then cast his own eyes down at the abrupt feeling of to be intruding with his own gaze while certain kind of heaviness settled into his chest…sense of culpability perhaps as he thought about the young man. However as he then noticed Artemisia to lever herself to a sitting position and his focus shifted to her hand that after slipping from under Accius' own took his palm into hers the grown doubts taking the better of him once he'd come to review his outlook of the Legionnaire once more. Galahad eyeing at the asleep young man this time around in a calculative manner until his attention was fully on Artemisia again, his keen become eyes taking in even the least of her reactions to what he then said.
"Are you to you marry once we arrive to the estate?" he asked. The abruptness of such a direct question indeed taking Artemisia aback as she faced the knight briefly, not to have expected this kind of a shift in the conversation. Her now causing Galahad to frown at her once he heard her reply, although it was in support of what he'd just asked her.
"Yes. At least that's what we intended once we'd arrived and he'd introduced me to his uncle's family, told them about the child…But now as the things have changed…I suppose we'll marry as soon as we are able."
"Is that something you both agreed on? Or did he just tell you that?" Galahad inquired, his tone causing the pregnant girl to blink in confusion and she eyed at Galahad in honest puzzlement, addled by the sudden personal nature of their discussion.
"He told me so…Why?"
Galahad hesitated a moment, suddenly fazed by Artemisia's counter question who was now staring at him so intently, even what she'd just told him had turned him but incredulous taken everything he'd come to learn about the Legionnaire so far and which she was totally unaware of…That true affection he'd just witnessed her to harbor for the boy stopping him then. But only shortly, as then he came to recollect all he'd witnessed between those two not only during this journey but ever since meeting them weeks prior. The strange behavior he'd often seen Artemisia exhibit while with Accius, and what he'd seen happen between them the night before especially forcing him to make his own conclusions about their relationship despite of her apparently truly caring for him. His following question however coming out much more blunt and insensitive as he'd meant after summing up the oddities he'd come to notice between those two and connected it to Artemisia's at times clear distrust of men, as his eyes now dropped onto her baby belly significantly. In assumed realization as figured to have finally seen through her pretense, despite of her sustained display that hadn't sat well with him from the minute he'd sensed something to be amiss.
"It's just that the way he at times acts towards you…It doesn't feel right. Did you consent to him? Or did he force himself on you and had you come with him?"
Artemisia was utterly shocked by that. Galahad's question leaving her fully petrified as in that horrifying moment she realized him to have apparently come to see past her lies despite of her act that had fooled even Accius. The directness of his so bold inquiry however not dismaying her as much as the fact that he seemed to know the truth about her…Which is why she then only blinked, in horror of having those insisting eyes of the knight staring down at her in a try to coax her into revealing her greatest secret she'd so far managed to keep mostly buried under oblivion until now that he'd come this openly to ask about it. Artemisia feeling her chest to tighten as she was taken over by the similar sense of panic mixed with fear when terrifying flashbacks occupied her mind, her however forcing herself to deflect them enough to assume a confused expression as she now faced Galahad who was eyeing at her almost compassionately…Making it hard for her to hide her true feelings as she tried to seem calm despite of her distress that came near conquering her mustered self-control. Artemisia releasing a slight nervous laugh as her fingers secretly squeezed around the blanket she'd been tucked under as she returned the knight's stare, shaking her head at him. Even attempting to look mortified by Galahad's made query since if but misconstrued on his part it would've been downright offensive.
"Of course I did, why…How dare you? No. No, he would never do that to me!" Artemisia retorted, sizing up Galahad in indignation, but despite of her somewhat collected countenance and fitting piqued exterior he knew she wasn't telling him the truth. Him having to only look into her eyes and see how afraid she actually was then…of him forcing the truth out of her even she now tried her best to hide it with her aggravation on the Legionnaire's behalf. Galahad now leveling a briefly apologetic look at her for making her feel this threatened by his bluntness, but on the other hand he felt that he needed to clear things out now…instead of staying quiet and allowing things to escalate even further without knowing all the facts, and hence letting them trouble him ever further…Trouble her any further.
"Then who did?" he accosted, his voice not as strict as his mien once he now frowned at the dumbfounded young woman. With a following sigh him letting his features soften as behold Artemisia's startled expression at the sound of that newest question which she wasn't able to hide in time for him not to notice it. The way she cringed at his words only confirming that he hadn't been wrong, now that her didn't even need to admit it to him anymore when it was so clear by the fleeting, heart-wrenching look of contrition in her eyes, Galahad even partly regretting to have put her in the position of going through that feeling due to his desire to know. But he'd seen her struggle with this secret for so long to let it go now...even if he should've.
"I see from your eyes that I'm right…That that child isn't his…So whose is it?" he asked, now sounding but gentle, as his pity for the poor girl had now replaced his anger over her past ordeal. Artemisia keeping up appearances a moment more until she couldn't bare his so kind eyes that kept on studying her in hopes of a response, once his hand had settled onto her arm like hers had the night before onto his her losing the fight against the terrible truth barely hold back by her will to forget. After directing a panicked glance at still asleep Accius Artemisia breaking down with a long, shuddering breath as Galahad watched her squeeze her eyes shut. Long hold back tears forming when she then pulled her arm free from under his touch, a sob escaping Artemisia's lips as she then turned her face away from Galahad to hide her expression from him which she knew to be but ugly then. Her face nothing but a mixture of misery and pain now that the man by her side knew the despicable side of her…had found out the sole thing she'd ached to hide and forget and which all now came rushing back to her. Tears continuing to fall as she trembled at the flashes of being forcefully pushed down and rendered defenseless while brutal fingers ripped through her clothing, re-living them, only Galahad's hand bringing her back from the ghastly thralls of the memory once it landed on her shoulder then. Once she now turned around to face him and he saw the depth of the anguish now so openly displayed on her mien Galahad leaning back, shocked by her such visible torment that he could then only stare back at her speechless. As she then looked at him only pleadingly, her hands moving in a flash to take hold of his wrists as she shook her head, her voice that sounded but equally pitiful to strip away all that remained of Galahad's previous animosity then begging him to do let it go…Galahad noticing her to look at the Legionnaire over her shoulder briefly as she spoke, him only casting her a sorry look back as after all didn't find any further words to give her a reply. Her startlingly upset state taking away any thought of other action other than beholding her agony in silence.
"You…you can't tell him…You can't say anything, please…" she prayed, her hold of him tightening momentarily as she looked him square in the eye. Her own flooded with fearful tears as she beseeched him to remain quiet, not to let Accius know about what he'd uncovered. "I beg of you, please don't tell him. He can't know…He can't ever know…"
Artemisia gasped then in fright as she heard Accius let out a sleepy utterance. Her raising her head that had dropped in her despair once she'd pleaded the young knight to keep her secret, and upon realizing the Legionnaire to be waking up after also picking up the sound of his body shifting from the position he'd fallen asleep in for the first time in an hour, she let go of stupefied Galahad and hurried to brush hasty fingers over her cheeks. However it being impossible to conceal the signs of her breakdown as Accius then awoke, after opening his eyes them immediately focusing on shaken Artemisia and even though her face was covered from him he had to but sit up then and turn her over to lay witness to her state. Before Artemisia could do anything about her deplorable expression the young man angled her face towards him, to see what was left of her tears and previous upheaval.
"What are you crying for? Is it the child? Is he safe?" Accius accosted, rising to a full sitting position as turned Artemisia over. Casting a confused look down at her once she then swooped down to settle her head against his shoulder briefly, nodding. Accius' eyes then rising to Galahad for a fleeting moment to take in his own bizarre expression which he couldn't interpret at all, until his focus went back to the girl in his arms, feeling the remnants of her quiver. Artemisia telling herself to calm down, to forget, as she concealed herself from Galahad whose eyes she could still feel on her…Scared that that alone would inform Accius of what had just been said between her and the knight. Her rather dying than letting the Legionnaire know what had happened that night at the temple, and should Galahad have kept on asking about it when he awoke...he probably would've.
"Everything's…fine. All fine. I was just…having a bad dream", she told him, lied, as wiped the last of her tears from her eyes. Accius frowning at her once he saw Galahad to level a sorry look at her until the knight avoided his gaze, baffling the Legionnaire who now couldn't either miss how odd Artemisia seemed at the moment.
"I came over when I heard her scream…" Galahad said, despite of not agreeing to Artemisia's made pleads after all deciding to comply to her heartfelt request with his own contribution to the lie she'd just told him. Exchanging a fleeting look with Accius until looked at Artemisia again, masking his confliction behind a collected expression even the grateful glance he then received from her caused his heart but to lurch…It feeling wrong to him. Despite of sympathizing with her and understanding her fear, it not agreeing with him to keep up the appearances when he now knew how in much pain she was because of it…Just to desperately hide how that child in her belly had truly come to be from the man who was supposed to be responsible of it…Which as it turned out, he apparently wasn't. And Galahad couldn't feel but distressed by that fact himself, therefore Artemisia's regrettable state leaving him even more perturbed from before.
"And the baby? You think he's coming?" Accius asked then, pretty much ignoring Galahad's remark as cast a quizzical look at the girl. Her to have by this time managed to get hold of herself enough to give him a small smile, the misery however still there under that serene expression she'd by now practiced to put on to hide her true sentiments as she then leaned back. Striving to rise.
"No. But Accius, would he help me up? I need a moment for myself…"
Galahad watched Accius to aid Artemisia to her feet upon understanding what she meant, his eyes studying the girl's face the whole time it took for her and the young man to leave the fire and walk to the edge of the clearing to enter the forest. Artemisia to have not even glanced at him once, her suddenly rather lifeless turned gaze to have remained cast down, and understandably so. Galahad leveling one more look after the pair with a pang of guilt upon realizing to have interfered with something dreadful and so selfishly perhaps made the matters even worse despite of it not being his place, until his attention was drawn by Gawain who then slumped next to him. Fully oblivious of the previous incident offering him wine, before took in his comrade's unsettled countenance.
"Nothing", Galahad stated, after a moment of thought accepting the wine and taking a sip to soothe his own emotions. His brother in arms examining him and then turning but skeptical, as it was then also clear the young knight to be anxious about something by that flat delivery of his…What exactly it was at least not being hard to guess to Gawain, for he had seen his fellow knight to keep watch of the two lovers before his arrival.
"Fool me not Galahad…Is the girl still bringing you needless trouble?"
"And if she is?" Galahad admitted then surprisingly, his voice still sounding but humdrum once he then managed to withhold his upset state of mind from Gawain, who usually was able to read him like an open book…except now. Not anything on Galahad's mien then aiding Gawain in trying to figure out what the cause for Galahad's abrupt gloominess was other than assuming it to have something to do with the senseless fascination he seemed to have developed for the pregnant girl despite of his advice. Once silence descended and Galahad refused to tell him Gawain then taking the water-skin back to have some more of the wine before handed it back to Galahad, tipping an impassive head at his unexplained shift in mood…Although he did have his own qualms to go on.
"Well I'd once again tell you to not to dwell on it…but for you are a man of your urges so I only say it can't be anything good wine can't solve…Finish that and then be your more temerarious self again. Pining after a woman doesn't suit you."
Galahad made a half a smile at that, but he couldn't help but ponder over what he'd just learned. Finding it too despicable and terrible to overcome it any time soon when he now even dared to think about what seemed to have happened to Artemisia…good wine or not it not bothering him any less.
"If it only were that…But I just found out about something that…I maybe shouldn't have."