Violent Content Warning: This story does contain scenes of a violent nature.
Alternative Content Warning: This story also contains scenes of a romantic nature between two women. This story is not for those under the age of eighteen.
Uber Warning: This story is an uber. The two characters are based off of the leading ladies of XENA WARRIOR PRINCESS.
Historical Disclaimer: This story is set in the time of King Arthur. However, I am not a historian. The character of Rowanne was introduced in a cartoon on the Family Channel called The Legend of Prince Valiant, which is what the entire series is based off of, not historical fact.
Authors Notes: This is the third installment of my "Rowanne" series. I would recommend reading parts 1 and 2 before continuing. All POSITIVE comments are welcome. Negatives I will simply ignore. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Only One: The Story of Rowanne
I lowered my sword. My mouth, I could tell, was open from the surprise of seeing the queen. "You look dumbstruck, my friend."
"That I am, my queen." I returned my sword to the resting place on my hip. Her smile was strange, almost mysterious.
"Youre not afraid of me.....Are you?" I hesitated with my answer.
"No." I was speaking the truth. I am not afraid of Queen Guinevere, rather her power.
"No need to be Rowanne." Her voice dropped in tone, almost seductive. "Tell me..." She began to circle behind me. "Are you sure you want to become a knight, Rowanne?"
"I am sure."
"Because I would love to have you in our royal guard."
"Royal guards are knighted."
"Not all of them, but Im sure I can persuade my husband to knight you if you say yes."
An internal struggle began after those words. I would be knighted faster if I take the position as a royal guard. However, it would mean I would be a personal bodyguard for the king or queen or both. From the attentions the queen has been showing me, I would most likely be hers. My thoughts were halted as a hand brushed my back. I immediately stiffened. "Relax Rowanne." she chuckled at my reaction. I grinned nervously.
"Why?" I managed to breath.
"Why what, Dear?"
"Why offer this to me? I am only a soldier. A villager. Why trust your safety to me?" A laugh. An almost sinister laugh.
"You are much more than that." Her hand reached up. I watched, frozen in fear, as she tenderly touched the skin of my face. Her hand was warm to the touch, soft. I closed my eyes, willing her to stop. Queen Guinevere took it as a sign of arousal. "You think as I do."
"No." I said a little too loudly. "No, my queen." I slowly opened my eyes just in time to feel her lips touch mine.
Instinct. Thats the only thing I can think of that gave me the strength for my next reaction. I grasped her by the shoulders and gently pushed her away from me. The shock on her face was plain to see. "Rowanne?" My breath came in short, fast bursts. "You are angry." The smile returned. "You are wondering why I am doing this."
"Yes." I said through clenched teeth.
"Rowanne." she sighed heavily, the smile gone. I watched as she stepped back and sat down on the stone bench near the birdbath. "I have been my husbands loyal companion for years. I have been taught since birth to follow in my husbands shadow." I kept my eyes directly on her, trying to judge whether she was lying or telling the truth. "You." She paused. "You are strong, independent."
"I never saw myself as such." I commented.
"You are. You are also attractive. Very attractive. I prefer the company of women these days, Rowanne."
"You do?" I question.
"Yes, I do. Arthur is a wonderful husband and ruler, but I do not like feeling like one of his conquests. Among the women, I am the more powerful. I have all the say in what happens in my bed."
"Let me finish." Her commanding was enough to stop me. "You are special, Rowanne. I see it in your eyes. Even Merlin says you are headed for great things and will be remembered far after your death.......I am offering you a quick start on that path. Knighthood, Rowanne. You will the only female knight in all of the realm."
"And you get?" The smile returned.
"I get you." I immediately stiffened. Suddenly the awkwardness and nervousness was back.
She stood and returned to my personal space. "A soldier like you is surely able to spot a win win situation. You get your knighthood. You get your honor. You get the Queen of Camelot in your bed as a willing participant." My ears were hearing her words and listening to them, but my rational mind screamed no. I chose the moral alternative.
"No, my queen." Her expression matched mine from earlier. Shock. "There is no honor in this." I spat. "I want to earn my place at Camelot, not sell myself like a whore." With my last words, came an angered expression from my queen.
"How else do you expect to get knighthood, Child? You are never going to get your knighthood the traditional way. Too many male thinkers out there will keep you from your goal." she gestured in a random direction.
"If you choose that way of thinking my queen, it is you holding yourself back, not them." For the first time since I arrived, my feet moved when willed. I began to walk away in the direction that I came. A hand grabbed me, forcing me to stop.
"Dont deny me, Rowanne. You will regret it." I yanked my hand free.
I remained awake all night, holding my Kathryn. How could this happen? The threat at the end worried me more than any other part of our discussion. By pushing the queen away, I may have very well pushed knighthood even farther out of my grasp. Kathryn moved. "I must go. I have to begin my duties." We shared a soft kiss. As she began to move, my arms wouldnt. "Is something wrong, Rowanne?"
"No, Love." I release her. Kathryn smiled and moved to dress. She has no idea of the nature of the meeting I had last night. I watch as Kathryn puts on her dress for the day.
Queen Guinevere did bring up several points. The best of which was why I do not act like other females. How did I miss the nature of the woman? Dresses, cooking, finding a husband. I snort at all three points. I am a warrior. Deep within me I have known this since I was old enough to make my own decisions. Now I am faced with the greatest of them all: Turn down the queen herself and risk banishment, or give in and start my path of knighthood. I watch my beloved Kathryn prepare for the day. I know the decision I must make. "I love you." I say within my thoughts. I did not mean to voice it.
"I love you, too." She smiles so beautifully. I know I can never betray my love, even if it means double work to achieve my dreams.
I pondered throughout the day, the option of telling King Arthur. I know it is a risky course of action, but he must know that I have no reason and certainly nothing to gain by lying to him. As I stand in the market area, a strange breeze blows through my hair. I turn around. Merlin is standing in the shadows of a wall. He gestures with his ceptor for me to come to him. No one denies Merlin audience. No one. I walk quickly over to him. "I believe your mind is heavy this day, Child."
"Come with me."
I follow him inside the castle and into one of the darker parts. I dont think anyone knows why this part of the castle is darker than the rest. There are just as many windows as the rest of the castle. I follow the older man into a part I have never been in. No other people are around us. No servants, no cooks. We come to a huge wooden door and it opens almost by itself. Merlin only needed to touch it and it moved. "This Rowanne, is my private chamber. Only those I bring here can get through this door." I stood in almost disbelief that I was actually within this room. I glance to my left and see a large book open on a podium.
"Is that your book of......"
"Magic?" he smiles. "If you want to call it that yes, but I prefer to say my book of knowledge......Sit." I sat down in the nearest chair. "You are troubled."
"I all ready know your answer, Rowanne. You are destined for great things. You will make the right choice."
"What about the queen?" His eyes lowered to the floor.
"You should not concern yourself with what Queen Guinevere says will happen. If I were you, Id listen to the kings sage, not his wife." I bow my head in reply. "However, the greatest challenge you face will not be against an enemy of Camelot for knighthood. It will be against yourself.......You may go." I bow one last time.
"Thank you, Merlin."
"You are very welcome, Rowanne."
Merlin put my conscious at ease, but the sense of dread was still with me. Something was going to happen. Is it a battle? "Rowanne." I was on my way back to the exercise yard, when I heard his voice. King Arthur. "Why are you not training?"
"Forgive me, Sire. I was in council with Merlin."
"Merlin huh?" he smiled. The nervousness of the previous tonight returned ten fold as Queen Guinevere stepped into view beside the king, with a similar predatory look as last night. A young man suddenly got the kings attention with a scroll. "Oh I must take care of this. Excuse me, Ladies."
I turn to head for the outer door. My heart dropped into my feet as I realized she was following me. Her soft footfall was unmistakable. I ignored her as best I could until I reached the door. I opened the door. Her arm snaked out from beside me and closed the door, leaving her hand on it. "My queen, I must......."
"Why were you speaking to Merlin?" she whispered hoarsely into my ear. I stiffened as the unwelcome hand returned. This time caressing my back side, under the tail of my Camelot tunic. I felt her hand, even through the protective chain mail. The touch, as it did the previous night, caused my muscles to stop working. Now I find myself pinned against the door and my queen. The hand moved around my hip. It came to rest at my center. Suddenly her hand stopped caressing and turned into a forceful grip.
"Ahhhhhh." I hissed as her fingernails dug into my flesh. I felt my cheek being pressed into the door. I heard her laugh.
"This works so much better with men. More to grab onto." The pain escalated as she twisted her wrist, keeping a grip on my flesh through my clothing.
"Ahhhhh!" I yelled again.
"The irony of it, Rowanne." she sighed. "No matter how strong anyone is, if you have them by their lower region, they crumble sooooo easily......So, Ill ask you again....Why were you speaking to Merlin?"
"He wanted to speak to me. He sought me out." I breathed. My anger was growing. I was not going to allow her to manhandle me much longer.
"Let go of me." She ignored me. "Let go of me!" I managed to place my hands flat against the door. Pushing myself away from the door, I managed to shove the queen off of me, with a fair amount of pain as her grip was released.
"My queen." We both turned to see the young Paige that had delivered the scroll to me.
"What is it?"
"King Arthur wants to see you right away." he says without a hint of fear in his voice. I collapsed, sliding down the door and onto my backside. I looked up. The boy was still there. I was fighting the instinct to grab the tortured flesh between my legs. I had been embarrassed enough without writhing in pain in front of a child.
"What do you want, Boy?" I ask as I try and pull myself to my feet. Surprisingly, he reached out and helped me to my feet. "Your not the queens little servant? If you are, youll get in big trouble helping me." He continued to say nothing as he let me lean against him as he opened the door. "Thanks." I said, leaving him in the doorway as I carefully walked towards the market where I had been before.
I saw the patrols moving out of the castle as I made my way back. The military was still on full alert it would seem. I am thankful I dont have to worry about that right now. The thought of riding made me cringe. For the first time since coming here, I am seriously questioning my decision. I had no idea I was going to be caught inside of a scandal. I have been carefully weighing my options. King Arthur would not take a villagers word over his own beloved wifes, nor will the queen admit to her actions against me. The only sane action I could take was to talk to Kathryn. She is smart. She will know what to do.
I found her in the kitchen. She loves to prepare food for her uncle. The workers quickly parted to let me through to her. "Rowanne." Her smile is enough to make me forget all the troubles this day has brung. "Are you okay? Your walking strangely." I bit my tongue to hide my smile.
"I hurt my leg practicing."
"Ill look at it in a little while." I started to object. I decided that if I let it be, she may not remember by the time she is finished working. I placed myself on the nearest stool and
waited for her to finish.
"I want to take a walk. Do you want to come with me?" I ask.
"Of course. Im finished."
I stand and smile as I take her hand. Using the kitchen exit, we could move to the river without being seen. My Kathryn knew I was troubled. We didnt get very far before she questioned me. "Whats wrong?"
"Rowanne. Please, talk to me."
"I cant. Not now." I could see I made her sad. As she stopped to get a view of the water,
I wrapped my arms around her from behind. She sighed and leaned back against me.
"Ill be here when you want to tell me."
"Thank you, Love."
After walking Kathryn to her room, I decided today should come to an end. To my relief, she did forget to check my injury. I knew that if I stayed with her, I wouldnt have been able to hide the discomfort the queen has caused me, physically and emotionally. I am scared. I have no doubt in Merlins prophecy. He did not say how easy a road it would be. It will get darker before the dawn. That saying is strangely fitting. Camelot is represented by a rising sun. Tonight, I will do my best to calm my soul.
As expected, sleep did not claim me. Another day has greeted me anyway. I have to seek out my strength, Kathryn. I have to tell her what is wrong. Maybe she will be able to find an answer that I have missed. I found her alone in a corner of the market grounds. Her back was to me as she talked to her friend that ran the stand she was in front of. Something was wrong. I could see it in the way she was standing. Shes hurt. All other problems flew out of my mind as my Kathryn became my only concern. As I neared, I heard the sobs. She was crying. "Kathryn." I said softly, placing my hands on her shoulders.
My battle reflexes are great, but I was not expecting an attack from my love. I saw something in her hand as she spun around. The object struck me solidly in the face. Immediately I stepped back, clutching my face. She screamed as she came at me again. I looked up in time to grab her arm. "How could you?!" She tried to strike me with the hand that was not being held. I caught that hand as well. She was hysterical.
"Kathryn. Stop. Love stop."
"Dont call me that! You lied!" Finally her strength left her. I pulled her into my arms. She did not remain there for long.
"Tell me. What is it?" She held up the object I couldnt identify before. It was a scroll.
"Read it." She shoved the parchment into my hands as she wiped her tears away with her hand. I unrolled it with shaky hands.
I must to your attention an act of infidelity I witnessed in the gardens after dark. Queen Guinevere was walking in the gardens when she was stopped by Rowanne of Bridgeford. There they engaged in sexual activity. I must tell the king as well.
I was stunned. I looked up to meet Kathryns eyes. "Its a lie." I stated. I rolled the scroll up roughly and threw it to the ground.
"Is it Rowanne? Where were you when you left the other night? The Paige told me all about it." She turns away from me. "That scroll was from Guinevere. Wasnt it?"
"Yes." She snorted her disapproval.
"So you did meet the queen in the gardens."
"Yes, but at no time did we......."
"You kissed her. Didnt you?"
"She kissed ME."
"Nalia saw it from the window of her room." I never thought of the possibility of witnesses.
"Did she also see how the queen grabbed me? Touched me? I was led there by an anonymous note! I had no idea it was her or that she wanted to seduce me!"
"Its the truth! I swear it on anything you name!"
"Then why didnt you tell me?"
"I was scared!" I lowered my voice so that only she could here. "I love you, Kathryn. I was dealing with the queen, Love. The queen, not some barmaid."
"What about yesterday? The hallway?" She watched my expression as I silently questioned her. "The boy."
"You know I didnt want that...."
"I know. I know now." She gave me a small smile. "What you are going to do?"
"I dont know. I was hoping you could tell me."
"If you get enough witnesses, you can confront Arthur."
"No, that will not work." I sighed. "This is Queen Guinevere. If we say something to the king, shell just deny it."
"You cant live like this, Rowanne."
"I dont intend to."
Just as we were leaving, a commotion began. We saw an ominous site. King Arthur. He was angry. "Rowanne of Bridgeford!" His voice boomed across the yard. Strangely, Prince Valiant was not with him. "You have the gall to do what you have done!" he spat. He continued to advance on us. He had the look of an insane man. I placed Kathryn behind me as King Arthur moved to me. Grabbing me by the collar, he began to drag me towards the practice area. It could only mean trouble for me. Kathryn knew that. She trailed behind us.
"Uncle Arthur, Its not what you think." she pleaded. I was being dragged by my tunic. I couldnt a raise a hand against the king. I would be dead before I could even think the thought. "Let her go. Please. Let her explain." Kathryn knew it was about the queen. I praise her. Several minutes ago, she would have let him drag me away without a second thought. Now is fighting to keep me from the beating that was about to occur. "You OWE HER!" she screamed in desperation. The king stopped. He turned us both around to face Kathryn. "She saved your life, Uncle! Twice! You owe her. Let her go." My heart was breaking as I saw the tears streaming down her face. She was putting herself on the line for me. He looked over at me. Some of the rage had disappeared from his usually calm eyes. Was he going to let me go? Or am I going to have to endure a fight I know I cant win?
To Be Continued..........
Return to The Bard's Corner