Valorous Knight And She Named After a Revered Huntress @linwood
Chapter 9

Artemisia wrapped her arms around herself as the passing gust of rather chilly wind caused her to shiver for cold. Her eyes then once again rising to eye at the patch of silhouette visible of the Honorius manor behind the gates in as she now had come to suspect in futile wait, in conflicted wonder, until her gaze begun to move about her vicinity aimlessly. Latching onto close to nothing for far too long, only briefly settling onto the impoverished, malnourished slaves bustling about the premises in haste while preparing for the announced evacuation, gathering together their smaller livestock and the little belongings they had and without which they couldn't do. As Artemisia tried to bypass the concerns and doubts that were nibbling her away by watching the people getting ready for departure, her eyes soon finding Galahad as she moved to observe Arthur's knights who were helping the people load their property and provisions into a selection of a few wagons. Long, shuddering sigh escaping from between her lips then as she felt her heart to drop to her stomach once the misery took hold of her again by the sight of him stealing a few glances at her…whenever she was quick enough to look elsewhere.

Why had she told him? Why had she revealed her greatest secret to that knight, when she hadn't even had the courage to confess it to Accius, who was more entitled to know than that man was? Artemisia could only continue to ask that of herself, but no matter how many times she tried to understand why she couldn't…She didn't know. She just didn't. She had believed to have been able to rebuff the knight's previous inquiries concerning the child without giving any reason to suspect her, but now that he had asked her of the baby again so straightforwardly, apparently to have already made his assumptions and only sought confirmation to them, she'd just…let it slip. Without thinking due to the oppression of Galahad's questioning to have simply told him…and now that decision made her feel unbearable. Foul, despicable. Like the absolute harlot she'd considered herself ever since getting violated. Especially now when someone knew…He knew.

Artemisia now released a helpless sigh that was reminiscent to a comfortless cry…Her hiding her eyes from Galahad once again who turned her way just then by squeezing them shut, however cloaking her actual distress by burying her face fully into her palms briefly in fitting lassitude that took over her again. The fact that out of all of people it was him who knew of her secret making this whole affair feel somehow even worse, although Artemisia didn't either know why it was so…But she simply knew that she couldn't anymore look the knight in the eye without being ashamed of her whole being, and perhaps…Perhaps the reason why she felt to terrible about Galahad knowing about her and Accius' brother was due to the fact that he'd ever been so kind to her…So kind that it had always felt undeserved, which was why she'd unconsciously sought solace from his such compassion and relied on it…Enough to reveal what kind of a woman she truly was.

You just wanted someone to listen. Someone to know what had happened…For the burden of keeping the truth was too grave to bear alone.

Artemisia didn't know whether to laugh or cry at that notion which had popped up from somewhere amongst her thoughts. That inner voice which had just given shape to the reason why she'd let those well guarded words to escape her during her previous discussion with the knight when it was the last thing she'd ever wanted…But perhaps she'd finally had enough. She had grown too tired to try to pretend everything was alright, when the truth was that Argus' face was always haunting her, her never finding peace from his presence that continued to cling to her, especially in her dreams. Even whenever she was looking into Accius' eyes and tried to wrap herself into the calming bliss of feelings she had for him she could most of the times only see Argus, and instantly was forced to live through the ordeal of him pinning her down to her bed and stripping her off her clothes, doing whatever he desired until he'd been done with her…Leaving her with a child that would ever be the reminder of how she'd been ravished by him…Even she'd never been with a man before. For he had not cared. And now she was but a liar…As big of a betrayer as Argus was for deceiving Accius...but much worse. A woman who not only lied about the origin of her child but came close recoiling every time the man she loved touched her, as if he had been the one to leave her this vulnerable and broken…

Artemisia's eyes stuck to the swell of her stomach. The glaring indication of her fault and the source of her torment…As she now stared down at her midriff not quite knowing how to feel about the baby that dwelled there…At that moment her actually not feeling close to anything aside for the overwhelming shame and quilt that stormed inside her, and not even the thought of this child to be completely innocent to everything she was going through didn't ease her sentiments…For the truth was that the longer she had to carry that baby and the more the closing in birth hence forced her to think about its real father, she was beginning to fail to let her trauma consume her…and fear for Accius to learn out about him. Especially now when Galahad had found her out, and either in his newly developed contempt of the likes of women she'd turned out to be or his abiding benevolence towards her would reveal the truth to Accius...Which she now dreaded more than ever before, and Artemisia knew then that she had to talk with the knight…As hard and shameful as it would be. But she had to make sure Galahad to say nothing to Accius. For this was the type of truth that was better left buried, and it if it would be known to Accius, Artemisia wouldn't be able to take it. It would, finally, destroy her and whatever was left of her self-restraint.

In mind of doing just that Artemisia then rose, starting to walk closer to the Sarmatian knights who were now preparing themselves for the upcoming journey while tried to assume a collected exterior. Not knowing was she successful in chasing away the melancholy that had plagued her, but neither caring all that much as she was in such rush to speak to Galahad before Accius would finally arrive. To tell him to please keep what she'd said to himself and not say a word to the Legionnaire, but she was robbed of both her chance and resolve to walk over to the young knight as one of his comrades she hadn't up till then noticed to have been missing rode past the small caravan that had begun to form along the road. The girl simply stilling to follow Tristan to stop his steed beside his Commander's to deliver his report, Artemisia lifting the thin shawl wrapped around her upper torso onto her head to shield herself from the densing up snowfall that had accompanied the turn of the day to nearing dusk while overheard the men to converse…Tristan apparently bringing troubling tidings of the invaders, and whom apparently weren't all that far now.

"They have flanked us to the east. They're coming from the south, trying to cut off our escape", Tristan informed Arthur, signaling towards the horizon and where he'd just ridden to have a look around in case of the approaching hoards of Saxons had reached them…which they had. "They'll be here by nightfall."

Artemisia's blood ran cold. Then they had close to no time at all. The Saxons were almost here, and by what the returned knight had just said were almost at their heel…In given dread of this thought Artemisia's hands rising to settle onto the large bump, her previous distressing ponders all forgotten now at the face of this threat that had finally reached them and was but a few short hours away from catching up with them.

"How many?" Arthur asked, as solemn expression on his face as Tristan's.

"An entire army."

"And the only way out is to the south?"

"East. There is a trail heading east across the mountains", Tristan contested, Arthur's brows creasing even further as he continued. "Which means we have to cross behind Saxon lines, but that's the one we should take."

There was a pause as both men then simply exchanged a tense gaze. Tristan however soon glancing about the people huddling themselves and their belongings into the wagons confounded, doubtful.

"Arthur, who are these people?"

"They're coming with us", his commander replied, heedless to his knight's audible lack of belief in this fact, and only returned Tristan's incredulous gaze until earned a gloomy laugh as an initial response. The knight's tone equally grim as was his words that he then spoke.

"Then we'll never make it."

Artemisia's gaze fell, eventually finding its way back to the small colony of slaves readied to leave with Arthur and his knights. It was true. She'd seen herself a mere burden the moment she'd joined these men's venture of coming here to rescue the Honorius family, but now that they were to travel with a group of other civilians consisting of not only men but more importantly women, children and elderly and their journey would be further hindered by having to cross the terrain with wagons in tow…their chances of running away from the Saxons seemed nonexistent. But Artemisia understood Arthur's decision. Neither she would've seen it nor felt it just to abandon these people, would it mean the death of them all or not. And very much like all of these people serving the family set to be rescued, neither did she want to die. So realizing there to be no point in wallowing in such fear Artemisia embraced herself for the upcoming travel, approaching the caravan that was standing by in wait of the arrived Roman Commander's order to depart. However despite of that her then freezing to her spot mid-step as sudden sound of drums reached her ears. The noise that echoed from the mountaintops claiming the attention of several others and eventually everyone, informing the people of the danger that lurked but a sundown away from them, Artemisia getting now caught by cold fear as she found herself unable to move for a moment. The simple realization of the actual peril they were in and how close their demise had come daunting her unlike it ever had till then, only the hand that then landed on her shoulder breaking her free of this terror and she looked at the ornamented bracer hovering by her face until her eyes focused to the rider. To meet with Lancelot's calming gaze.

"It will be alright. We'll get past them."

Artemisia made a slight nod, hint of a passing smile signaling her concur, as Lancelot then curbed his horse forward. Passing her to get room for the animal to turn, the sound of the Roman soldiers barking in the befallen silence however then claiming both of their attention as well as the rest of the knights. Causing Artemisia to fail to see how the gates leading to the manor now opened and Accius along with his uncle, aunt and cousin and a handful of servants stepped through them. The servants carrying the fortune of the family towards the awaiting, yet empty wagons, while Accius rode out on a new, gifted white horse. To have discarded his so far worn disguise that had previously covered his armor, and now sat mounted on the animal in his fully exposed uniform. His eyes seeking out Artemisia whose gaze was then riveted to a small annex that had been built within one of the walls surrounding the estate, and which was rapidly being sealed shut with boulders by a couple of priests. Rushed by the soldiers who were overseeing them work, clearly desperate to seal off the annex before the moment of departure would come, or any one of Arthur's company would notice…However too late as now everyone were eyeing at the men laboring secretly at the more secluded area by the wall, only alerted by the impatient commands of the soldiers.

Artemisia saw Arthur stare at the men suspiciously before drew his sword and dismouted, only drawn in by their underhand hurry of finishing laying those bricks now when no one supposedly was watching, even there should have been more pressing matters to weigh down their minds other than such strange insistence of masoning at this hour of distress. Therefore Arthur wishing to know what was the cause behind these priests' such folly actions he then approached the annex, his men soon following him their weapons bared when the soldiers failed to obey their Commander's order to move aside along with Artemisia who was still to notice returned Accius. Her attention transfixed by the men working to seal off the annex.

"Move!" Arthur repeated, now leveling his weapon straight at the pair of soldiers looking back at him in hesitation, until Artemisia noticed the way they glanced to the direction of Accius' uncle. The girl watching in confusion as one of them was taken aback by arriving Lancelot's steed which flicked its head to his direction, him and the other knights forcing the soldiers to back down, while the priests were now faced by Arthur. Each pierced by his grim gaze as the Commander now motioned towards the annex, even further misgiving by the manner these men continued to refuse to step away from it. "What is this?"

"You cannot go in there", one of the priests said, stepping closer to Arthur with a warning look on his face that was to underline his adamant words, while the older priest now settled himself against the boulders. Shielding them with his body with a similar determined look on his face. "No one goes in there. This place is forbidden."

Artemisia's baffled examinations over the pair of men came to an end as she was startled by Accius' hand that then in turn grabbed her from behind, securing itself onto her arm as the girl whipped around to face him. Despite of her effort of welcoming him with a smile, the somber expression that had taken over his features chased away her delight of seeing him. The girl simply blinking back at the Legionnaire as he now proceeded to give her arm a guiding tug without a single word of greeting.

"Accius…"

"Come. Let us leave."

"Wait…why?" Artemisia said, even further confused as she saw the way Accius then shot an earnest look at the annex and the priests guarding it, until tried to compel Artemisia to follow. Ignorant to her inquiry. "Accius, why…"

"What are you doing? Stop this!" Marius' voice suddenly cried out, his authoritative and appalled delivery drawing majority of the attention and the group turned to see him approach the annex himself. Arthur's grim gaze however never leaving the priests and step by step he forced the men to back away from the annex at the behest of his brandished sword, the Commander paying no mind to the lord of the manor who was then denied passage through the line of men by Bors, who turned his horse around to confront the approaching Roman. At the sight of his arrived uncle Accius once more tugging at Artemisia, telling her to follow.

"Leave it be, Artemisia. This is none of your concern."

"What is? Accius, what's in there?"

"Arthur, we have no time!" Lancelot exclaimed then, reminded his Commander of the ever diminishing daylight and nearing danger. Indeed the sound of the Saxon drums to have now grown stronger, but ignoring his knight's warning Arthur continued to examine the wall that had been built in front of the annex and noticed how the torch placed on its wall flickered from time to time…And not due to the wind blowing outside, but by apparent flow of air coming from the other side. "Do you not hear the drums?"

The knights were all giving their Commander anxious looks that urged him to get back on his horse so that they could be on their way, Accius once more pulling at Artemisia and after gaining a slightly sharp look from the young man she gave in. Drawing her arm free, with a nod Artemisia signaling him for her to follow as Accius did then take off to the direction of his horse. The raise of his jaw and one content gaze leveled at her telling her resignation to satisfy him, but just as she was about to go after him Arthur's voice stopped her.

"Dagonet", Arthur called, motioning towards the wall with a tip of his head for the vexation of his men, but despite of them regarding Arthur to be simply wasting their time in insisting to find out what laid behind that wall they said nothing as watched Dagonet to abandon his horse to go over to the annex. Snatching his long battle axe from its sheath by his saddle and brushed past Artemisia who stepped away from him once with a fleeting glance cast at Arthur he swung the weapon at the inlaid stones. The nose of Galahad's horse tapping Artemisia to her back, and she gave the steed a surprised glance until her eyes trailed upward to see how Galahad met her gaze with what else but expected compassionate look that reached down to his emerging smile. The girl breaking their eye-contact by moving the horse's head between them as smoothed the animal's muzzle, enjoying the warmth coming from its body as Dagonet's outcries of effort filled the air. With only a few powerful blows the knight managing to bring down the boulder wall, revealing a door, which the man then tried to open. However not succeeding.

"Key", Arthur said then, commanded more like as he turned to stare at the pair of soldiers.

"It is locked", one of them answered, stating the obvious, nevertheless then nodding towards the bolted entrance significantly. "…from the inside."

Arthur gave a nod of his own to Dagonet who then proceeded to kick down the door, taking support from the wooden frame, until with the third most vigorous kick the door flied off its hinges. Artemisia walking a bit closer to see pitch black nothingness that awaited at the other side, after a while outlines of what looked like a staircase coming to sight once Arthur removed the torch from the wall and he along with Dagonet and Lancelot approached the door-opening. Gawain soon joining them and coerced the priests to go after his Commander and fellow knight once the men entered the annex, Artemisia not realizing it but also she then found herself lured towards the revealed entrance once Galahad, Bors and Tristan positioned themselves beside the annex. To prevent any of the surrounding soldiers from approaching. And it was then when Accius noticed Artemisia to have stayed behind, Galahad raising his gaze to the Legionnaire who dropped the reins of his borrowed horse in vexation at the sight of Artemisia halting just outside the door. The foul, inhuman stench that was coming from the dark, strange passage that led downward causing the girl to halt. Artemisia not helping but retching at the odious smell that was so rich and thick that she couldn't tell exactly what was it composed of, as her hand flew to cover her mouth and nose. In instinctive try to block out the strong odor that in fact made her a bit lightheaded then, at the sound of the Legionnaire's call of her name Galahad turning to see how Artemisia hung to the doorframe briefly, dazed.

"Artemisia?" he called as well, noticing the evident nausea the girl was under while she stared into the blackness into which his fellow knights had just previously disappeared. As Accius' calls of the girl's name became then more frequent and demanding neither Galahad feeling quite right of letting Artemisia go in there, as he then saw the girl to straighten up and step inside courageously. That place even giving him the creeps, especially after the way he'd seen the soldiers and those priests try to keep them away from it…

Artemisia didn't either listen to Galahad as she did indeed walk though the narrow entrance, instantly getting enveloped not only by the dark, but the lower she traced the steps she found herself surrounded by the terrible coldness that dominated the underground chamber. Artemisia gasping as something equally frigid and metallic hit her in the head, and the ensuing jingling informed her it to be shackles. The stench intensifying the deeper she ventured, and once or twice she had to stop and press against the wall in true threat of fainting, the smell overcoming her, and by then she could identify some of it as feces…and blood.

The moment she realized that she could feel her skin to crawl, with now more tensed up steps her descending the rest of the winding stairs as now spoken words reached her ears from within the chamber once she got over the most recent rush of nausea. It getting replaced with creeping dread as she strained her hearing to know what the knights currently scouring the insides of the chamber were saying, eventually her seeing the light of the torch to reflect onto the stone floor of what it then was revealed to be…a prison. By the sound of the conversation she could soon pick up her understanding the eerie chant she'd earlier heard amongst the whispers and echoes coming from the hidden chamber had been prayers.

"The work of your god. Is this how he answers to your prayers?" Artemisia heard Lancelot ask, his voice derisive and filled with contempt as the man gazed at his Commander in outrage. Not yet knowing what they spoke of her glancing about the dank, stuffy, filthy dungeon in alarm until her eyes trailed over to the group of men she now could see standing by the entrance of the farthest room of the chamber. Accompanied by another man whom the girl assumed to be a priest as well, and who by the looks of things…had been sealed within this place by the time Arthur and his knights forced themselves in. However as she then heard Arthur respond her walk almost halting once more at the daunting sound of it.

"See if there's any still alive."

Artemisia watched the knights to disperse, beginning to rummage through the room they were in which was yet covered from her view by the wall that separated it from the other large room beside it. Her seeing nothing but signs of miscellaneous collection of manacles and number of strange devices and other manner of restraints that weren't at all familiar to her until she now finally reached the last chamber herself and saw the cells that had been crafted within the crevices excavated into the stone walls. Her then fully understanding the purpose of those machines as she stopped by the door-opening and her eyes latched onto the gaunt, bloodied and squalid form of a man she could see locked behind one of such bars right in front of her. Long since dead, his ashen, lifeless flesh nibbled by rats, looking like nothing more than a skeleton and dressed in mere rags that gave no warmth against the coldness of the room which Artemisia now realized to be not a mere prison…but a torture chamber. For naught Lancelot cutting through the chains that hold up the doors of the cells to check the people hold within them, for they were all dead. Rotting corpses left for the vermin riddling the dungeon to feast upon.

Horrified outcry left Artemisia's lips, her eyes remaining glued to the corpse Lancelot was inspecting, and all the men now turned to see her stand there beside the fully serene looking priest who was leveling murderous looks at the blasphemers scouring the prison he had referred to as "god's temple". A hand once more stuck on her mouth as Artemisia stared at the dead man until her focus flew over to the other cells to see the rest of the shackled, dead prisoners. To witness the equally gruesome ways they'd died mostly due to the marks of prolonged torture left on their bodies that had been carelessly left to lie within the cells, and feeling now actually something to be making its way up to her throat once her stomach made an unpleasant turn another hand was clasped over her mouth. Tears of horror and absolute disgust welling up as Lancelot faced her, in vain trying to block the view of the corpses from the girl who had already seen it all, Gawain casting a jaded look at her upon realizing her to have actually followed them.

"Take her out of here!" Artemisia only hazily heard him say, however no one doing so, as one of the priests then grabbed Lancelot in rage, his riled gaze fixated onto him.

"How dare you set foot into this holy place!?" the priest accosted, clinging to the knight in indignation, but only earned himself a sword right into his midriff as a response. Despite of his anger and hatred infused expression Lancelot giving the shaken Artemisia a brief regretful glance once the deceased priest slid off his sword and fell right at her feet, Artemisia looking down at the slain man with wide eyes, not even registering the blood that had smeared her hem as Lancelot glared at him venomously.

"There was a man of god", the other, still alive priest said accusingly. Staring at Lancelot in such scorn as if he'd just killed the manifestation of the Lord Almighty himself, which was why Lancelot's but frantic eyes next riveted to the man as he pointed an opposing finger at him.

"Not my god!"

"This one's dead", informed Dagonet, searching through the smallest of the nooks these despicable people had been keeping these poor people…by the looks of them pagans, Pikts mostly.

"By the smell they're all dead", Gawain cut in, whipping then around and jabbed the torch he was holding towards the priest, his own gaze but a leer as he briefly glanced down at the deceased one. "And you…even move and you join him."

"Arthur!" Dagonet cried out then, leaning over one of the smaller cells, out of which Artemisia then saw him pull out a young boy. One who still lived, and by the looks of him to have not been kept in that place all that long since he was thankfully far from the condition of the rest of the already dead prisoners. However the sight of the knight finding an innocent, young child from that tiniest of cells he'd been stuffed into becoming too much for the girl. Gawain seeing all the remaining color to drain from her face and he only had time to stretch a hand towards her as she recoiled, stumbling back, accidentally bumping into the priest, but the minute she felt herself touch him she twirled around and jumped back.

Now openly crying she stared at the man she naturally assumed to have been down here as his sole, supposedly holy, purpose of torturing these people…even children, planning on dooming them to death by mooring them and himself within this chamber, just because they were different from him. Not of the same faith, pagans. Hence her feeling sick to her stomach to be even touching such a foul man, her head quivering as a sign of a incredulous shake of a head when she eyed at the man in shock, the way he then smiled at her causing her to flinch and for a brief instant all horror was set aside in place of anger. However only manifesting in form of her grasping the collar of the priest's robe and yanking it off violently for the surprise of Gawain who'd moved over to support her, to stop her from collapsing, but he couldn't get a solid hold of her as then the shock struck her again and she was driven out of the chamber. The disgust and disbelief of a man being capable of such monstrous deeds leading her as she ran out of the prison, in hair prickling terror Artemisia stumbling her way across the rooms to the staircase, even in the dark ignoring her much heavier and slower built as scurried towards the diminishing daylight that loomed ahead in a frenzy, until finally reached the doorway. Practically collapsing out of it, only kept on her feet by the relieving notion of her to have left the horrifying place and that she was once again breathing in the crisp, clean outside air….

But then the mere terror of what she'd just witnessed crashed onto her like a weight, her eyes that had briefly shot upward to meet with baffled Galahad's now drifting down as she herself was beginning to sink. Artemisia slowly backing away against the wall until finally after a couple of new retches she finally couldn't hold herself back any longer and vomited, still able to feel the stench of what she now knew as death in her nose. The terrifying images of the tortured, dead people chained to the walls and locked in cells coursing through her mind as she continued to regurgitate until there was nothing left to churn out. Artemisia settling another shaking hand on her lips as she sought support for her equally trembling body from the wall, failing, slipping all the way to her knees as alarmed by her shaken up state Galahad had quickly dropped from the saddle. Accius however beating him to it as Artemisia now hunched over, her arms stretched out in front of her on top of her stomach, crying, as the Legionnaire knelt in front of her. Clasping her head for a slight moment, until took hold of her and tried to have her stand, however the girl being too upset to do other than cry out her horror.

"I told you to leave it be" Accius stated, totally serenely and matter-of-factly, to Galahad sounding like someone who'd clearly been aware of whatever it was down at that annex that had shocked Artemisia so. His words even appearing like a scold of some sort to his ears, even though the young man was trying to calm her down by holding her. In the end Galahad simply casting the girl a pitying look before looked at the revealed entrance to the annex somberly. Having even worse feeling about what it was even the lord of the manor had wanted to keep a secret from them.

"How…something so dreadful…How could they do that?" Artemisia asked, silently, in disbelief until she looked up to Accius who didn't seem all that taken with what she asked him. Simply looked back at her the moment their stare lasted, Artemisia's teary eyes searching his for an explanation, even though she truly didn't expect to receive any. She was simply so appalled by what the knights had discovered down at that chamber that she couldn't believe how any god could allow it.

"Never mind that. It's over now, you can forget it", Accius told her dismissively, brushing a consoling hand past her locks, which had been revealed from under the fallen shawl as he did then take hold of Artemisia and brought her back to her feet. Despite of the slight stagger of her not letting her back down as wiped away some of her tears, however before the girl could answer them seeing how Arthur suddenly burst out of the annex. Carrying a woman in his arms, Artemisia being able to put aside her previous shock enough to herself separate from Accius as followed the Commander to take the second yet living prisoner farther from the annex, as Dagonet, Gawain and Lancelot followed right after him with the little boy.

In full understanding Galahad now gave the injured woman in Arthur's hold a grim look. Artemisia's distraught state now making sense taken that the place these priests had tried to seal away seemed to be a prison cell, and by the state of this woman his fellow knights had rescued from that morbid place Galahad knew nothing the girl could've seen down there to have been pleasant. Lancelot throwing his own torch into the formed coat of snow as Arthur demanded someone to bring him water, putting the woman on the ground just as the three knights who'd stayed behind gathered around them. To gaze upon the mistreated, greatly abused woman as Bishop Germanus' servant rushed over, unfastening his waterskin from his belt before handed it to Arthur. Artemisia watching as Gawain shoved the two priests to their knees as the last one to exit, until her focus was drawn to the woman who begun to take greedy sips from the waterskin Arthur was offering her, but soon coughed out the liquid. Too weak to even such action, where the knights around them now realized who she was. Giving her and their Commander tense gazes, where Marius' wife hurried over to the salvaged prisoners as well. While Dagonet was giving some water for the boy the Bishop's servant observing the child, realizing the state of him in askance.

"His arm is broken", he mused, his eyes remaining on the poor child until his eyes rose to silent Dagonet whom he saw then but shake his head. "And his family?"

"She's a Woad", Tristan stated, thrusting his sword back to his sheath as exchanged a look with Bors, where Arthur introduced himself to the woman, assuring her to be now safe. As Artemisia watched in pity how she extended her mangled and gravely bruised fingers towards him in gratitude, her failing to see how Accius then took hold of his own weapon. Instinctively perhaps, but the blade had been drawn out but an inch until her hand shot out to stop the young man, Artemisia leveling a inhibitory look at him, where Accius' gaze was but grim as it eventually traveled back to the Pikt that laid on the ground. Her face and form mostly covered by Arthur's back.

"Stop what you're doing!" Marius shouted then, furious, and after simply watching everything to unfold from the sidelines now marched over to Arthur in anger. Arthur rising and greeting him with a somber expression that didn't stray far from similar anger as he gazed back at the Roman man, aghast.

"What is this madness?" he demanded, earning but a seething look back from the nobleman.

"They are all pagans here!" Marius exclaimed, seemingly like his priests that had overseen the torture of those people no doubt according to his orders, seeing no wrong in what had just been uncovered to occur at that annex and the chambers it contained.

"So are we", spat Galahad, exchanging a fleeting look with Marius who faced him and received his hateful stare. Artemisia hearing the depth of his disdain from that single remark as the young knight stared at the man in ire, however heedless to this the lord of the manor simply shifting his own ired eyes back to Arthur. Alecto watching intently his father's confrontation with the Roman Commander who'd freed a couple of the prisoners he hadn't even known his father to have been keeping at that place that had always as said, been forbidden to him.

"They refuse to do the task God has set for them!" Marius shouted biliously, Artemisia leveling an astounded look at him, until joined Arthurs' knights in sneering at everything he then said…no matter if the man was the uncle of Accius. "They must die as an example!"

"You mean they refused to be your serfs!" roared Arthur in response, rendering the Roman speechless for a moment, and it was now when Accius left Artemisia's side. Siding with his uncle as faced Arthur.

"I'd implore you to remember to whom you are speaking to, Commander! Accius snapped, sizing up Arthur equally grimly before beckoned to the manor and the whole estate remarkably, to get his point across while took a step closer to the man. "You are standing within lands Rome has given to my uncle, and as a mere guest to these lands you ought to consider carefully whether to place yourself above him…For such arrogance might yet prove ill-advised, for here he is your lord. And you will honor him."

Arthur matched Accius' gaze, studying the young man and suddenly during that short examination could very well see the resemblance…For right then he hold the same kind of anger in his eyes that his uncle's did, as Bors answered for Arthur. Leaning down a little in his saddle as his somber eyes latched onto the Legionnaire.

"Is that a threat?"

"You may consider it as one. For I do not suffer any word spoken against my family in my presence."

Accius had once again grasped the hilt of his sword and this time decidedly drawn it out halfway, to stress his words, but although the men around them did understand what he was going for Marius then hold his nephew back by placing a quelling hand on his shoulder. Gesturing him to relax and Accius did release his sword and stepped aside at the behest of his uncle's guiding arm that moved him aside, Artemisia now looking at Accius in slight outrage of her own.

"You are a Roman. You understand. And you are a Christian!" Marius spoke then, in an exaggerated manner as addressed Arthur, with whom he now exchanged a remarkable look after giving his uniform a matter-of-fact look-over. Trying to connect with that side of the Commander that undoubtedly must've agreed with him, for they were both from Rome and therefore must've had the same values when it came to treating and handling of slaves and whatnot. Thinking wrong however, as unlike him Arthur's knights and Arthur himself knew that to be far from the supposed truth the nobleman tried to appeal to. And when Marius was met with nothing but silence on Arthur's part his anger flared, his flaming eyes settling onto his wife who was currently knelt beside the injured Woad. "And you! You kept them alive!"

Artemisia watched in further horror as Marius slapped his wife hard across the face, the poor woman falling to the ground, but before the girl could as much as rush over to Accius to tell him to stop his uncle any further strike perhaps intented by the Roman was prevented by Arthur who punched the man. Causing Marius to fall onto his back while in his own anger Arthur drew out his sword, positioning the blade's tip just below the bewildered nobleman's chin, until he glanced at the approaching guards who were rushing to his aid.

"No! No, stop", the man commanded, also meaning Accius who'd taken out his own weapon the moment he'd seen his uncle to be stricken down, confounded Artemisia watching him to be halfway leveling his sword at Arthur who didn't grant him a single look. Marius telling Accius to stand down with a curt nod of his head, but Accius didn't move while Marius' infuriated eyes fixated onto Arthur. His voice but scornful as he then continued. "When we get to the Wall, you will be punished...for this heresy."

"Perhaps I should kill you now and seal my fate", Arthur replied earnestly as grabbed Marius by the collar, driving his blade closer to his exposed jaw, but Accius sword flashed to action and it swiftly slid under Arthur's neck. Causing now the knights to turn tense and they all fumbled their weapons while observed the three men.

"Do that…and nothing keeps me from using this blade to do it for you", Accius hissed, ignoring Artemisia who was trying to pull him away from the men. The Legionnaire simply shrugging her obstructing hands off while exchanged a stare with Arthur, narrowing his eyes.

"And we will bring upon yours, boy", said Bors, somberly, but there was certain elation in his voice as well as Gawain then rode over, placing the tip of his sword lightly onto Accius shoulder. Spooking away Artemisia who moved away from them, to a safe distance while Accius glared at the Sarmatian knight in now fully unmasked disdain. Indeed proving him and his uncle to come from the same family, Artemisia glancing about the men unsurely, until helped Alecto to lift his mother from the ground. "Just give us cause to do so."

"I was willing to die with them", the priest spoke up suddenly, claiming all the attention to himself as gazed at his lord adoringly. Blissful, like a deluded man of faith blinded by his distorted beliefs was, seeing an act of dying together with people they'd tortured for god as martyrdom. "Yes…To lead them to their rightful place. It is God's wish that these sinners be sacrificed. Only then can their souls be saved."

The priest had now indeed claimed Arthur's attention, and the man was staring at the Commander adamantly, believing in his words and taking them as the sole truth, were Artemisia was only horrified by such talk. Her now realizing to be still holding the torn off piece of the priest's robe and in a new fit of anger tossed it at the man, just as Arthur ended the befallen silence and replied to him once he released Marius and straightened, Accius' sword also shifting away from his neck. Concur in his voice as Arthur gazed back at the priest stoically, only his knights being able to see the hatred that still burned in his eyes.

"Then I shall grant His wish."

This confused the priest, as well as Artemisia, who now followed Arthur to turn away from the man to give his men a significant look. Lastly beckoning towards the priests and the annex.

"Wall them back up."

"Arthur", Tristan said, trying to remind their Commander of the even further approaching time limit, but in his infused anger Arthur paid no heed to such as his voice then rose in rage. One that rivarled Marius' as he matched his knights' gazes.

"I said wall them up!"

Resigned the knights came down from their horses, some of them striding over to the three priests, while the rest took it upon themselves to fulfill their Commander's command. Beginning to gather the boulders as their brothers-in-arms lead the priests towards the annex. Artemisia watching this all to happen with mixed feelings, for on one hand she wished nothing more than to see such vile men to get what they deserved, but also the mere barbarity of condemning them to the death they'd almost given to the yet alive prisoners also horrifying her…were they sinful men or not.

"Don't you see it is the will of God that these sinners be sacrificed?" the lastly spoken priest cried out, causing the knights forcing him and the others to stumble further backwards to halt to give them hateful glances, but it was now the people working for Marius' estate that arrived to the scene. Grabbing the priests and dragging them over to the annex by force before shoved them through the doorway, ignorant to their objections as with the help of Arthur's knights sealed them inside, beginning to form a wall in front of the bolted door.

Artemisia turned her gaze away from the annex, the shouts of the priests getting more and more faint the more stones were laid by the entrance, and instead her eyes moved over to the young Pikt woman. The girl eyeing at her visible injuries compassionately, the tears of pity still stinging the corners of her eyes as she behold what evil man was capable of. However as she continued to gaze at her and thought back on the horrors that she'd seen first hand at that torture chamber, it was Accius who brought her our of her musings.

"Come, Artemisia. Let us leave."

With now somewhat grim eyes herself Artemisia turned to face him, averting his hand that had made an attempt of grasping her again as gazed at him incredulously. Quizzically. However keeping all the questions to herself for now as once she didn't respond Accius sighed and turned fully around, extending his hand that just previously had hold the handle of his sword to her.

"Artemisia, leave the pagan. She has nothing to do with you."

"You're wrong."

Accius was taken aback by this, as well as the sudden seriousness of the girl, and after eyeing at Artemisia in wonder his hand that she after all didn't take dropped. Once again settling onto his weapon as the Legionnaire continued to gaze at her curiously, but still not much affected by her abrupt demur.

"I am?"

"Aren't you at all affected…by what was done to her? To that boy? What your uncle has done to them?"

There had now been a slight remarkable edge to her voice, furtive accusation as Artemisia was reflecting on Accius' previous involvement with Arthur's confrontation with his uncle...When the Commander had charged the man of the same she was now impugning Accius, the young man however not expressing whether or not he picked it up aside for the mild frustration that then took over him. Accius only sighing at her.

"She's just a Woad. A pagan. There's nothing to be affected by."

Artemisia blinked. Astounded, perhaps even a bit shocked at the sound of this as she then glanced at the young woman before her focus went back to deadpan looking Accius, remembering when he had slain that Pikt man once they'd first crossed paths with Arthur and his men...Killing him mercilessly, as unfeelingly as he'd just regarded this woman's fate. Therefore her following words coming out as skeptical, hesitant. "Because she's not a Roman?"

Accius, who'd by then begun to walk back to his horse stopped, eventually turning around as Artemisia continued after a small break. The silence that had ensued her previous query signaling of much she should've by then realized, but which she refused to see as she continued to gauge at Accius.

"I'm not a Roman. And yet you wouldn't allow them to string me up to such machines to be tortured, would you?" she asked, succeeding in bringing the young man around, but as Accius didn't respond to her she eventually frowned. Doubtful. "Would you?"

"You are a Roman", Accius said then, bypassing her earlier words as mere nonsense by that statement as he then closed the distance between them, leveling a significant look into the distressed girl's eyes…his however then failing to hide the jaded look from them as they measured Artemisia, for not her relief nor further concern either. The girl's gaze falling as she of course agreed, but still disagreed as living within Roman Empire as one of its citizens didn't change the fact that she had been born in Greece and would always remain Greek…But still she didn't turn down such notion as Accius then brought her closer, his fingers brushing her jawline as he smiled at her. "You are the mother of my soon to be born son. And as long as you are carrying my child, I won't allow anything like that to happen to you."

His words were sweet, but still Artemisia couldn't stop herself from close to flinching at them once the Legionnaire then placed a kiss at her hairline, his fingers briefly playing with her tied down wisps of hair until he along with his hand drew away and he was about to go after his family. Nevertheless Artemisia still not receiving an answer to her question, and unnerved by his previous remark and its effect on her she stayed. Not intending of following him, in fact angry with him.

"What are you doing?" Accius asked, the lack of his dwindling patience evident in his speech as he soon continued while he watched Artemisia to head for the wagons at the end of the caravan instead of his horse without a response. Ignoring him, waking Galahad's attention who was helping Arthur to load the injured Woad into one of the wagons reserved for the Honorius family at the behest of the Lady. "Artemisia, come here! Now, I'm not asking!"

"I think she would be better off not riding", Galahad cut he young man off, spinning around and leaving the side of the wagon to meet with the Legionnaire who tried to reach Artemisia, whom his aunt had gestured to come over. To join her, Alecto and the prisoners at the wagon, and frankly, Galahad viewed it as a smart idea. Making it clear to the annoyed young man giving him sideways glances while keeping on gazing at Artemisia who didn't as much as look at him.

"It's alright, Accius. It does her good to continue the journey more comfortably", Marius' wife told Accius, giving Galahad a concurring glance until smiled at his husband's nephew reassuringly. In response Accius simply letting out a drawn out breath, but nodded. Despite of what Galahad expected not granting him a single look as then turned and went over to his horse, however it being clear to Galahad him to be angry…and not because of the incident between his uncle and Arthur.

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