(Kicks down the door and somersaults onto the sofa)
I'm back my friends, back from the depths of hard labor misery having obtained the sweet prize of a decent new job with a work schedule that wasn't okayed by a sociopathic gibbon into CBT. No more 3AM callouts to break my back and no more soul shattering monotony, yay me.
Ah, it feels good to get back to this, and I'm so glad that this story managed to surpass the 600-review mark as well as the 2000 follower mark. Let's keep it up you guys!
The Tsukihime remake has added and shifted some things around within the lore of that section to TYPE-MOON and more than likely I'll be making use of them later in the next act of this story.
This chapter will mark the beginning of the final arc of The Legend of Camelot act of Moonlight, but that doesn't mean it's the end of the story. As with what I've mentioned in my last AN, with the release of Avalon le Fae along Beast Lair's translations of Case Files' Atlas Contract arc and unloading a buttload of lore for me to use, I've now made the current story Act a little longer than originally planned since I didn't have much to work with prior to these things. Now, what bears mentioning is that some of my earlier work on this story doesn't jive with revelations from Lostbelt 6, like who would have called that Vivian was actually Morgan suffering from dissociative identity disorder, or that Titania the wife of Oberon technically doesn't exist when I had written before that she did? What matters is that the events of this arc will reconcile those differences, some will be transferred verbatim while others will be tweaked to adhere to what was set up beforehand so yay, taking that extra month to restructure was a fucking good decision.
Fall originally would've been only maybe 2-3 chapters, but now it's been extended to 4 chapters or so with the final chapter of this Act, Ashes being the chapter that wraps things up before I move onto Act II, detailing Naruto's time since Camelot's fall leading up to the beginning of Fate/Zero. Though fair warning to those who are adverse to tragedy, this arc is a DOOZY and I'm pretty sure my beta is a desiccated corpse after reading through it. While the tone of this chapter is upbeat, know that it's the summit before the plunge.
As far as other Fate news goes, we're finally getting the first Camelot film on blu-ray here in the west this December. Fucking finally… Hopefully the second film comes a lot faster since they have their dubbed cast now. And we got the Solomon movie out on BD in January of 2022 with big props to CloverWorks for making Goetia fully hand drawn, must have caused a few sleepless nights. Seeing as Ufotable is in hot water due to tax shenanigans it's good to know that Fate will be in good hands should they bite the dust.
Now for some reviews that I wasn't able to get to PM's either because they're guests, reviewers that have accounts supposedly but didn't use them, or they've just disabled PM'ing for some strange reason –
Klipper, Chapter 11; June 30th – Thing is, Mordred can't use chakra, I made that pretty clear when Naruto first met her. She has Albion's Dragon Core in the same way that Arturia has the Y Ddraig Gosch's (Red Dragon) Dragon's Core.
Guest, Chapter 11; July 7th – Here ya go dude, but let me know what your thoughts, likes and/or dislikes are in your next review, please.
Mau160, Chapter 8 & 11; July 8th – I updated, but please be patient. Be sure to let me know your thoughts, likes and/or dislikes about the new chapters though, please.
Klipper, Chapter 11; July 15th – No, Arturia can't age because she has Excalibur and Avalon, having used that instead of just Rhongomyniad. I've adjusted her age up some so she appears like her Saber self, but with some more feminine charm so to speak, almost like MHXX, but not that much.
Klipper, Chapter 1; July 21st – Mordred is a physical fighter like Arturia. She wasn't taught magecraft and while she has the aptitude for it like Arturia did, she prefers to fight like Arturia instead. That doesn't mean she didn't inherit a knack for creative use of elements from Naruto though...
Sumething dino, Chapter 12; July 21st – Lol, Thanx, though be sure to let me know your thoughts, likes and/or dislikes about the new chapters, please.
Klipper, Chapter 1; July 21st – There's not much point with Naruto telling Mordred about that stuff. Not only that, but the name doesn't fit Mo's naming conventions, not fitting well with the story much and it doesn't really fit with Mordred's personality. I already have a name for what she can use already.
Reader, Chapter 12; July 21st – It's always good to update one of my stories, especially this one. Let me know what your thoughts were, along with your like and/or dislikes in future reviews, please :)
Guest, Chapter 12; July 22nd – Nope, I never gave up on this story at all. Just took a while to write out and all. So, what all did you like and/or dislike about the new chapter and what were your thoughts on it?
Klipper, Chapter 12; July 22nd – The Fall of Camelot begins here dude.
Anastasyia, Chapter 12, July 23rd – Thank you! Here's some more, but do please let me know your thoughts, like and/or dislikes about future chapters, please.
Thunder Dragon, Chapter 12; July 23rd – I was wondering when someone would comment on the Middle Earth stuff. Also, I read your other reviews and chose not to reply, mainly because they weren't what would be referred to as true reviews. They were all merely part of a challenge that I'm declining, namely because it just didn't interest me along with being something you could instead just PM if you made an account.
Anyways, just be sure to let me know your thoughts were, along with like and/or dislike about future chapters, please.
Klipper, Chapter 3; July 24th – That I do.
Klipper, Chapter 8; July 26th – What makes you think Shirou will even be a Master in this story?
Klipper, Chapter 9; July 27th – I already have an amor set planned for Mordred. It's not like Arturia's.
Klipper, Chapter 11, July 28th – That I did, and you can kinda see that in Avalon le Fae.
Klipper, Chapter 12, July 29th – No, she wasn't talking about Surtr, but something far worse. Surtr existed sometime around 1000 BC when Ragnarök occurred, and the Norse Texture was burned away by Surtr over in Scandinavia, not the British Isles. Vivian was speaking of something far worse, if not just as bad in comparison to Sefar that existed. It does not pertain to the old king of Muspulheim.
Guest, Chapter 10; July 29th – I see you've been picking up on some of the references.
Randomreader, Chapter 12; July 30th – Thanx dude, and feel free to continue on with details as I don't mind, I personally enjoy reviewers like yourself who want to say more.
I do PM back on reviews, so be sure to check your inboxes for messages from me. If you have an account on here, then please log in as it's easier for me to respond that way to you.
Guest, Chapter 12; August 12th – Thanx for the compliment bro.
Klipper, Chapter 1; August 16th – You assume I haven't already made the preparations for what Arturia's level will be. I have already.
Klipper, Chapter 1; August 20th – Tamamo won't be in this story, and Kurama isn't even interested in a relationship.
Also, I've noticed a rather vexing trate every now and again in the review section, namely multiple reviewers with nearly word for word identical reviews using identical grammatical styles and complaints, leading me to believe that someone is employing alts to bolster their arguments. Please don't use alts to try and reinforce an argument, it's pathetic.
And so now we have come to the final arc of Act I. The Fall of Camelot. This is where it will begin, and I do hope you all will enjoy it to its fullest. I can't promise the updates will be fast due to my current job, along with how long the chapters will no doubt be, but I intend to finish this story no matter what.
So, please enjoy this new chapter and all it has to offer you!
Chapter 12 – The Fall of Camelot Part I
-Late Autumn 479 AD-
The sun had risen on a new day in Camelot, with its people preparing for their day's as they had since the city's construction. Men were readying themselves to till the fields, women assembling meals and clothes, children jumping from their straw beds to play with their friends and pets, while those with scholarly disposition squirrelled away in the Grand Library. However, as the morning guardsmen were relieving those who stood on the night's watch, there were some making ready for what would be an exceptional event.
"So, why do I have to wear this… ridiculous outfit again?" Naruto asked.
Arturia was finishing adjusting his quilted jerkin for said event with a playful frown, "Because, Naruto, it will help shift people's outlook on the color red, and you cut a fine figure in it."
Arturia had insisted on helping Naruto choose an outfit for this event, for it was something that required a certain level of aristocratic grace to attend, "It shows my eyes off too much." He lamented the loss of his hood in favor of a shoulder cape and breeches; having some potential vampiric traits shown off in public never did well for one's health. Especially when the people were believers in the Hebrew God.
Finishing up with the last few adjustments, Arturia took a step back to see her lover look as handsome as he always had, shoulder cape bearing the sigil of the Royal Standard in red on blue cloth. "And your eyes are as beautiful as rubies, Naruto." Nodding in satisfaction, she stepped forward before bringing Naruto down to her lips for a brief moment and shared a soft kiss with him, "Don't fret over something as trivial as your eyes. You need to take that hood off every once in a while, my love." Arturia said, Naruto smiling back at her, he couldn't help but get lost in her beauty.
She was his goddess. And he, her loyal Apostle.
Naruto brought up her hair ribbon that she always had done up when in public before the common folk and the nobles, those who were not aware that she was a woman, and spun Arturia around to tie her bun up, "You're right. This is Tristan's wedding we're heading off to." Chuckling briefly before he spoke again, "Wearing some nice clothes for weddings and parties is a habit I could get used to."
Ever since the death of Morgan, the darkness of Britain had seemingly begun to recede back to the Reverse Side. Phantasmals of the dark aspect retreated to places far from civilization, with the remnants of Morgan's power now merely wisps of what once was the Dark Fae. The light that Arturia represented and thus Vivian shined brightly to the corners of the land, bringing joy and happiness to many.
For the Knights of the Round Table, that joy had increased by a factor of two; Mordred and Ywain had become best friends since joining, both complementing one another in their personalities and actions. The infectious banter of Mordred's crass humor and Ywain's laid-back demeanor had proved contagious to the hall of Ehangwen.
Ywain was a mediator when arguments rose up to potentially sour relationships; even when he would venture into the city on his own time, he would help keep the peace with his words. When court matters came up, he merely took a step back to allow others more suited to deal with them, becoming laid back with such tiresome times.
As for Mordred, she was fiercely outspoken in her defense of Arturia whenever she came under the slander of others, be they noble or foreigner unknowing of her way of ruling. At times she would spar with other knights to let off their frustrations and steam, her armor was more than sturdy enough to withstand direct blows, despite using practice swords. Although they found it quite strange that she would never remove her helm. Naruto recalled a silly conversation he had with his daughter.
"Little Mo, why don't you take your helm off outside of battle?"
"Well, it's because I want to show my true worth as a knight like the others… I'm third rate at best, mom… and stop calling me little! Please?"
So simple, yet admirable, but also concerning with how Mordred perceived herself when it came to others looking at her as a knight. Third rate? How she came to that conclusion was beyond him. 'She just inherited the same stubbornness you had when you were younger.' Kurama pointed out to him at the time.
The Apostle would let it slide for now. But he would sit down with Arturia and finally have them all talk it out like a proper family… soon. Right now, the political climate was still relatively in flux overseas with how Tiberius was currently at a pause in his 'reclamation' of Europe for the time being, which they found pretty odd. Perhaps he had run into some unexpected obstacles? Who could honestly say without being there in person? Naruto's spy network had been forced to get distance between them and Tiberius' overzealous praetorian guard, it seemed that the Senate had left a lasting distaste for tricks and spies in the upstart Emperor's mouth.
Finishing up the bun, Arturia turned around as she reached up to pull Naruto down to her lips again, and they shared a quick kiss before she began to drag him over to the bed, where they sat down to continue their session, passion sinking its hooks into both of them.
"You know…" Naruto said quickly between every other kiss, "…you really should've gone… for your regular… royal blues…" Arturia had decided on wearing her armor with her blue cloak draped around her shoulders for the wedding.
The kissing came to a natural stop as they rested their foreheads against each other, "I know you want me to show more of myself to people…" Arturia said as she planted another kiss on his cheek, "…but there's still so much work to be done. You know it. I know it. It is simply something that needs to be done before we can live in happiness."
Naruto sighed softly while he internally groaned. In private, the two of them had been quite affectionate with one another as of late, having made love every now and then like they used to, if anything, Arturia had a spring in her tantric step. There were times where she decided how things would go, and he was happy to oblige and let Arturia take the reins… who would've thought she could be the dominant one when the mood struck her?
In public, however, she remained committed to keeping up the stoic face of justice and righteousness. It was something they had spats over with Naruto wanting to show her more gentle and affectionate side to the court and the people. Arturia had grown paranoid in dismantling Morgan's old network of spies and creatures, wanting to dispose of all that was left of her dark sister. History may not look kindly on Morgan le Fey, but it would certainly remember her for all of what she had done to Britain and its people.
"Alright then." Naruto replied, "But once everything's settled down, and there's not a single thing to worry over, we…" Wrapping his arms around Arturia, Naruto brought her close to him, despite the armor being uncomfortable, "…and by we, I really mean you…" Arturia gave a light chuckle at that, "…will need to wind down, relax, and just be yourself." Getting Arturia to shed the king persona she had built up over the years was just the first thing that needed to be done before he could properly introduce her and Mordred as parent and child.
Truthfully, he needed to get Mo's perception of mother and father corrected. Endearing as it was, and letting it slide all these years, being called mother, mom and mama was weird. Not that he didn't love her for her eccentricities, but she needed to learn what a stable parental environment felt like.
A knock on the door accompanied by the voice of Lancelot came through, "My king, it would be best if we weren't late for Sir Tristan's wedding."
Sighing at how the two of them were getting rather heated in the moment, Arturia spoke up, "We will be ready soon, Sir Lancelot, thank you."
Lancelot knew well enough about their affair and continued to keep it hidden from the others. He had been a great friend to them over the years, and as such, neither decided to inquire as to who it was that had captured his own heart. Whoever she was, they were sure that Lancelot would introduce her when he felt it best.
Getting up to leave for the ceremony, Naruto and Arturia strode through the halls down to the castle gates to where they met the rest of their entourage, some of whom had done well over the years. Bedivere had maintained his position as a member of the Round Table despite the loss of his right arm. Instead, he had come into his own as a general, one of Camelot's best and brightest. The troops under his command, mostly made up of veterans from their assault on Morgan's domain, had nothing but the brightest compliments about the Knight of Loyalty.
As for Galahad, he, alongside Pellinore, had ridden out to the countryside to hunt down what was the source of plague and death to several villagers within the last month: the Questing Beast. A creature that held the body of some cat-like creature, not all that different from Periwinkle's own, yet its limbs were like that of a horse, but that was not what made it so monstrous in its appearance. It held the head of a snake with a great maw, one which would swallow a man whole, and from that maw came the power to birth malformed hounds to chase down and bring back the victims it had claimed. It had been a long hunt and a fair adventure, but eventually, the two had driven the beast off the edge of a cliff, taking its curse of pestilence with it.
Everyone, with the exception of Arturia and Mordred, had forgone their armor and instead wore clothes fit for nobles and esteemed knights. Arturia wore her armor to maintain her kingly appearance, Mordred on the other hand, was given the duty of leading the ceremonial guard for the wedding, "Ready to kiss being a bachelor goodbye, Sir Tristan?" Mordred asked in a teasing manner, attempting to maintain her identity as a man, voice pitched two octaves lower than her usual cadence.
Tristan simply shrugged with a small smile, "I suppose I am, and what of you, Sir Mordred?" He spoke as he turned to face Mordred, "When will a woman see what is beneath your heavy helm and armor?" The Knight of Lamentation jested in turnabout to Mordred.
Mordred gave a dry chuckle at that, "I doubt any woman would want someone like me." Speaking softly to herself. Sure, women were beautiful, and all, but Mordred wasn't the type to be into women. Men? Not really that either, she was content with her lot in the romantic sense.
Ywain merely slapped Mordred's shoulder in response, "You give yourself far too little credit, Sir Mordred," he said, coming up behind her as she slightly jolted at the action, "Take the time go out and have fun at a tavern. Maybe you'll find a woman to warm your bed then?" Ywain thumped the back of his knuckles against Mordred's helm in a teasing manner. "If your pecker is as rigid as your helmet's horns, I'm sure many a whore will go to bed satisfied."
"Yeah, right." Mordred's irritated eye twitching was somehow audible even within the heavy armor.
Percival cleared his throat loudly to get everyone's attention, "Perhaps it's best if we were not late to our friend's wedding ceremony?" The silver-haired knight said in a chastising yet friendly tone.
As the entourage of the Round Table and the court assembled by horseback with Tristan in the front leading them on as the groom, Arturia and Guinevere were behind in a horse-drawn carriage with Naruto and Lancelot at their sides respectively, each sharing a look with the one whom they held an affair with, despite one couple being ignorant of the other.
The rest of the court filed behind them as they continued through the city to the cathedral, where all manner of exquisite decorations of flowers, banners and colors marked the occasion. The entourage dismounted their steeds and carriage to make their way into the chapel, where Tristan took up his position to the left of the priest, with the King and Co. having sat on Tristan's side, and many nobles on the side of the bride.
And the bride herself? Her name was Iseult of the White Hands. She was not the Iseult that Tristan had fallen for prior under his lord, but rather she hailed from distant Brittany instead. The two had met six months ago when Leodegrance had introduced her highborn family to the court, where the two of them had surprisingly become smitten with one another. Love soon bloomed openly with Tristan popping the question to the lovely lady; her answer was evident by the ceremony about to commence.
Everyone's attention was drawn to the entrance as the vocals of the child choir troupe began their harmonious chant to welcome the bride-to-be to the groom. While she was a head shorter than her husband to be, Iseult of Brittany was no less striking to behold than her crimson-haired fiancé, bearing a heart-shaped face with pronounced cheekbones and vibrant cyan colored eyes, setting off her well-bronzed skin born of the sunlit afternoons of the Frankish dukedom from which she hailed. Her full lips were painted with matte gold and fixed in a delicate smile that glowed with the same excited passion that danced in her gem cut eyes. Her figure was well developed but not voluptuous to the point that someone would call it vulgar, low C-cups and a trim waist wrapped in a pearlescent white wedding gown with long sleeves that extended down into white gloves. Iseult wore a golden tasseled fillet from which hung a short white veil that covered three sides of her head, her long glossy auburn hair falling in thick braids down her back and woven with a net of yellow rose blooms, and around her shoulders trailing to the floor where it dragged behind her as she walked was a light purple cloak with red lining.
Many of those present were floored by her enchanting beauty, with some word being that a fairy had a hand in the making of her dress, as well as the queen from many years prior.
The bride made her way, escorted by her father as per tradition, to the altar where Tristan and the priest waited for her. When the Latin Bible's gilded pages were cracked open, Naruto did his best not to tone out completely on his friend's behalf, but what could he say? For him weddings had never been the most exciting spectacles.
Vows were exchanged. Kisses made. Cheers erupted. Smiles gleamed. Truly a joyous day for those in attendance. Yet on some level, Arturia wished things were different for her and Naruto.
As the ceremony was coming to a close, Arturia decided that this would be as good a time as any to ensure something long overdue was done this day. As everyone conversed and made small talk, Arturia made her way to the front of the church to where everyone could see. Naruto saw that she wanted to make a speech and, as such, made a few knocks on the wall to gather attention with the intended effect desired.
"My fellow knights and countrymen." Arturia began with a gentle and proud tone, "Today is a momentous day. Sir Tristan and Lady Iseult have wed and found happiness in one another, something I hope many of those I know may one day find…." Even though those words were perhaps hollow to everyone, only a few had picked up on the desire they held for her, "…however, there is something long overdue for one of our number, and I can no longer put this off. Galahad…" She spoke louder than before as the young squire's eyes widened at the attention being directed towards him, "…please come forth, and kneel."
Arturia had unsheathed Excalibur, holding with one hand in front of her with no ill intent. Lancelot saw the posture and knew what was about to happen. His son made his way before the king and knelt before her, "Galahad, wilt thou on this day, pledge fealty to the Isles of Britain and act as one of her knights?"
She was going to bring him into the Round Table. It was fitting for the young man as he had trained well under Bedivere as squire to the Knight-General.
Galahad paused for a brief moment before he responded, "Yes, your majesty."
The cleaning silver blade rested gently on Galahad's left shoulder, "Do you submit to the responsibilities of this office and swear to be the shield and sword of our great nation?"
"Yes, your highness." Galahad nodded resolutely; his calm voice heard throughout the vaulted hall of the cathedral.
Arturia lifted the flat of the blade to rest on the youth's right shoulder, "And do you vow to never waver in this duty to act forevermore as a Paragon of Justice and Righteousness?"
"Yes, your highness."
Returning Excalibur to Galahad's left shoulder, Arturia then finished the knighting ceremony, "Then I, Arthur Pendragon, King of these British Isles, do hereby dub thee Sir Galahad of Camelot. Let this be known to all who look upon you."
The entirety of the church soon erupted in a cry of rejoicing at the sight of another fine man joining the ranks of the Round Table and the inner circle. For Lancelot, he wiped away unshed tears at the image of his son joining their fellowship and knowing one day that he would surpass him in many ways as both a knight and as a man. For Guinevere, her clapping was joyous in that the prospect of repairing the splintered bond between father and son, and hopefully the potential for some in the current generation to step down in the court and let those who inherit the wills of what is, allowing those who came before, enjoy their lives as they wished.
-The Tower of Magi-
The rhythmic clang of a jewel-tipped hammer striking steel reverberated through the tower as Naruto was making some repairs and additions to the favored tool of their latest member to the Round Table, "You say you feel different now, Galahad?" Picking up a chisel from the side of his forge, Naruto continued his work as he went to work on the center of the shield, "Different how?"
Not long after the wedding and the members of the court had gone about to their own duties and hobbies, Naruto asked Galahad to lend him his shield to enchant it in an effort to help the newly knighted young man in future quests and missions for the kingdom, "I'm not quite sure how to describe it, and yet… I feel something different within me." Galahad had found Naruto's insight and open nature to be a source of comfort at times. Despite being an Apostle, his century's worth of experience had been useful to help those that were in need of it.
Naruto listened to the young knight's words as he continued his work of inscribing the script of the Fae into it to give it its enchantments. He had already finished the setting of the jewels within flaming designs he had worked into the shield to help hold magical energy, "If the king decided to bring you into the Round Table, then she did so because you earned it." Glancing up to Galahad as he took a brief pause to continue his work, "She's not one for nepotism, Galahad. If she believes you were worthy, then you are worthy."
A part of Galahad took solace in his words before an old memory came to the forefront of his mind, "I suppose that eases me somewhat." Galahad looked off to the side to an array of books strewn out across several desks, detailing various things such as different phantasmal species, enchantments, languages, etc. "However, the hunt for the Questing Beast has left me…." He gave a sniff in annoyance, trying to find the right words for it, "…it's left me disturbed by it a bit."
Naruto stopped his chiseling to look up at Galahad. It wasn't often that he felt that way. Even in Morgan's domain, Galahad kept his bravery at the forefront, lest the soldiers around him falter in their step to attack, "Disturbed how?"
Recalling the final moments of the chase he and Pellinore gave the creature, Galahad filled the vampire in, "As Pellinore and I drove the beast out of the village and towards the cliffside where the ocean sat, I speared it through its serpentine neck." The sight of how it gazed at him before it fled was what got to him, "Its eyes were then filled with both rage… and obsession… then it leapt over the cliff to the waters below. We pursued it to find the body but found nothing instead. No blood, nothing." The white-haired knight lent against an anvil running a hand through his snowy locks, "The intensity of that look, the abject hate and obsession, I can't help but think that this isn't over. And if it isn't, then what of our other victories? What scars have we carved that ache at the sight of our happiness?"
Galahad saw that Naruto was in deep thought, as he had stopped his forging, looking down at the shield for a while before he looked up to Galahad, "In my experience, old wounds tend to stay open in these lands." The double meaning was not lost on Galahad as his intuition caught on his words.
Naruto resumed his work once again as he continued the chiseling while Galahad came round to his position to take a closer look at his job, never having seen him forge and enchant in person, "What have you done to the shield?"
Continuing on with his work, Naruto began to explain what all exactly he had done to Galahad's shield, "Well, when you brought that shield to me, it wasn't in the best of conditions." Seeing that part of it had been melted by the Questing Beast's venom was undoubtedly something that needed to be repaired, but he also noted other things needed to be done. "I've added a stabilizing ring to the interior of the shield to make handling it easier, using wood from the Round Table to give it flex." He glanced around before smirking at Galahad, "Don't tell Agravain that the table's an inch shorter, though." The two of them gave a chuckle at the image of an annoyed Agravain noticing how the table got shorter out of nowhere; the stickler for details would be driven insane by such a mundane difference. "Anyways, I also added in some jewels to hold Mana in them to power the Numerology High Thaumaturgy within." Naruto motioned to the top and bottom of the shield as he had finished the final wording, setting aside the chisel with the other forging instruments.
Galahad saw that Naruto had made Fae inscriptions into the center, "What does it say?"
"A sinome massë callo rimbë." Naruto spoke in Quenya. Galahad, of course, could not understand the language of the Fae that Naruto was gifted with by Vivian. Seeing the confused look on his face, Naruto translated for him to understand, "A place where heroes gather." Channeling some mana into the hammer, Naruto gestured for Galahad to take a few steps back before he raised the hammer to strike the shield once more to complete his work on it. As the hammer hit the shield, a bright light shined before their eyes as the shield's enchantments activated and seeped into the tool. Setting his hammer aside, Naruto hefted the shield with one hand and handed it to Galahad, who noticed an immediate difference, "It's lighter than before." Testing the weight of the shield, Galahad moved out to an open space where he swung the shield several times before setting it down, "Much lighter."
Setting the shield on his back, Galahad turned back to Naruto, who smiled at his work, "Thought of a name for it yet?" Naruto asked.
"I think…" Galahad began as he looked out the window that overlooked the city. Making his way to the vista, the young knight contemplated the name of his weapon of choice before it came to him, "Lord Camelot." He proclaimed to one of his mentors as he turned towards him, "I name this shield Lord Camelot, in honor of our kingdom as it's the ideal amidst ideals, worthy of lordship."
Naruto nodded in appreciation of the name and Galahad's outlook of things, "A fine name if any for a great shield like that." Another one of his creations made well for his friend. His thoughts soon drifted to another one of his projects, the long-term technique of his reality marble, and he was now on the precipice of completing it. The blonde Apostle wiped his dirty hands with a cloth as he joined Galahad at the window, basking in the warm glow of autumn's waning glory.
They say that at times age can show itself in a number of ways. Be it through vigor and spirit, or lack of it. For Arturia, she held both in high regard with how those she knew expressed them. She often displayed the traits and experiences of a woman in her thirties, but seldom were there times when she showed that she was still a little girl in her heart.
At the moment, she had forgone her armor and hair bun, clad only in her royal blues and hair hanging freely down to her shoulders while hugging the wheezing form of her lion, Periwinkle. Over the last few weeks, the lion's health had begun to wane, with the elderly lion showing his age. His once glossy golden mane was now a lank and matted mess, numerous streaks of grey tarnishing the usually mighty visage. No longer was he able to run freely as he used to, nor did the feline have the energy to play, now he merely laid down, hardly moving if only to greet his master/mother that was Arturia, and in secret, Mordred when she was able to.
She heard the door open and close to see that it was Naruto that had come to see her, "Arturia? Are you alright?" He sat down beside her as Periwinkle adjusted himself to see it was merely his mother's lover arriving, giving a weak chuff in greeting, "You weren't in your room, so I assumed you came here."
Nodding her head, she rubbed it up against the lion's mane, Arturia had a forlorn look marring her usual cherubic face, "I knew that lions did not live as long as we did, yet I had hoped it would one day be when…." A fleeting dream had come and gone across her mind before she discarded it from all thought, "…never mind." Naruto gave her a concerned look before she tried to placate him, "It's nothing, a question for another time."
Death was something Arturia had grown accustomed to, it came with ruling, the affirmation that death sometimes could not be avoided, yet when someone close to her died, she could not bear the thought of it becoming a reality. Ector's death had hit her hard, but she had endured the grief and risen back up to continue on with life and make his passing worth something in the end. However, for Periwinkle, it felt different; she had practically raised the lion from when it was still a cub, and it imprinted on her to see the King as its own mother. Now, as his life began to slip away, she contemplated trying to find a way to extend his life. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Naruto's face locked in reserved but prominent worry, slightly elongated canine teeth biting his lips softly, a sign of his care for her. 'Should I ask Naruto to bite him?' she tentatively questioned, but she squashed that idea almost immediately with a pang of bittersweet remembrance, despite being a Dead Apostle capable of turning others, immortalizing them, Naruto had displayed derision to the very concept of sharing his bloody curse. In his eyes, it was a violation of life and would only do so if there was no other way to save someone close to him, and even then… it would haunt him to the end of his eternal days.
This train of thought persisted in her mind in the quiet seconds that stretched out in this cozy little room, the only sound reaching them being the labored breaths of the old lion, the flickering of tallow candles and distant morning birds. Why did such a thought plague her? Why did she care so much for this mighty beast who leaned into her touch? Would she feel the same thing for Llamrei when it came time for her steed to be sent on to the knacker's yard? An unpleasant thought for sure but not one that filled her with such childish dread and grief. 'Childish,' Arturia reflected. What was Periwinkle? He was a remnant of her childhood, of days when things were so much more straightforward, and it seemed only one glowing righteous path lay before her towards kingship. Now, like a beaten path forked by brambles, that childhood was fading, and Periwinkle with it.
Arturia was roused from her thoughts when Periwinkle rose and moved about to position himself in between the two lovers, where he placed his paws on them. Ever so slowly, the elderly lion moved closer to them and breathed in their scents before nuzzling up to Arturia as he once did when he was younger to display his affection for her. Arturia dipped her head down to rest it atop Periwinkle's own, shedding tears, not of a woman, but of the little girl who had gripped her companion for comfort as fever wrapped its boiling tendrils into a wavering heart. A rumbling purr vibrated through her as Periwinkle's breathing levelled out, slow but unlabored breaths tickling her neck. In, out, in, out. Naruto could hear it, the calmness of blood slowing through a weakening heart, moving inexorably towards the final sleep for the big cat.
He placed his hands on her shoulders in an attempt to comfort her loss, "I'm sorry, Arturia."
Arturia said nothing as she looked into Periwinkle's own golden eyes, which gave a look of sorts to Arturia.
'Don't be sad.'
The big cat may have well said it aloud for the word to hear. They continued on like this until the last breaths of the lion were gone, and his large eyes brushed closed, leaving not a king and mage alone in mourning of such a fine companion, but a young girl and her protector, mourning the passing of innocence's vanguard.
"I-It's alright…." Arturia spoke, stuttering briefly, "…he died as he lived." She turned to Naruto, who's eyes were glistening, before her own tears slid slowly down her cheeks and smiled at him, "He made me happy."
It was all she could say before she planted a kiss on the mane of the once proud and mighty lion. Mustering her courage, Arturia spoke, "Naruto. Promise me this…" She turned towards him as she felt Naruto's arms encircle her from behind tightly, "…promise me that you will find a way for us. For us to be proper parents. To be a mother and father. To bring children into the world that is our own." Her voice cracked as what little composure she had crumbled, tears pouring down her cheeks.
Naruto knew that in some way, they did become parents years ago, even through improper means. Mordred was their daughter and hopefully the first of several children they could perhaps one day have. Morgan had found a way to bring life from a bloodline of the living dead; what was to say that he couldn't either. Perhaps he should've scoured her domain further before it vanished to the Reverse Side for the process to make it happen, but now? Now he would do so from scratch.
And so, he made a promise to the one whom he loved, and himself, "I promise." No matter how long it took, he would keep to it.
-Several Days Later-
After Periwinkle had passed, Arturia wanted him buried, and so Naruto perhaps thought it best if he were buried in the Forest Sauvage that Ector, now Kay, had come to own. To the average observer, nothing much had seemingly changed in Arturia, but Naruto could tell that some small part of her had gone with the lion. What part it was, he couldn't say, all that he knew that Arturia delved back into the matters of the kingdom.
With Samhain approaching, things had settled back into normalcy as another meeting of the Round Table was in session. Currently, Naruto was looking over several reports from his spies while the others were giving their accounts to Arturia.
"The troops are well-staffed and trained…" began Bedivere, "…their quarters have been expanded, and they receive hot food to warm their stomachs." Having become a general of Camelot, ensuring that the troops under his command became a new responsibility, on top of being the King's attendant whenever Naruto or Merlin were not around.
Agravain spoke next, even magically defanged, his role as being the administrator of Camelot was something not taken lightly. "The treasury is well kept, and coffers replenished with the past projects you wanted to be finished have finally been done, my king." He rolled his eyes at the next set of reports he had, "Though some of the nobles don't like how the old rebels you spared tried to make an uprising against you. Luckily the damage was kept to a minimum, in part due to our spies and actions taken by Sirs Mordred and Ywain."
The rest of the knights went around the table until it was Naruto's turn to report. Only he said nothing as he kept looking at the papers in front of him, "Naruto?" Arturia said to grab his attention, "Your report?"
Shaking his head to gather his thoughts, Naruto looked at Arturia first before glancing around the hall to his fellow knights and magecraft teacher, "Up until several weeks ago, the upstart Tiberius had seemingly hit a snag in his conquest to reclaim the lands of the old empire. He seemed to be focusing on routing spies and digging in for winter." He began, "Now though, for reasons my spies seem clueless of, he's moving west to push into the lands of the Francs and our allies across the channel." Setting his reports down, he looked to Arturia in full, "We'll need to be ready to act at a moment's notice to stop him from going any further. Military action will be the only thing he will listen to." Diplomacy was great and all, but when your words fell on deaf ears, violence was the one and only solution to resolve the problems.
The knight began to murmur amongst themselves, it was Lancelot who spoke next to voice his worries, "The Francs are a proud and strong people…" The purple-haired knight observed, clasping his hand together in front of his face, worrying over his homeland's safety, "…but they are not prepared to fend off a full Roman offensive. The legions of old are known for dashing lesser empires against the rocks."
"Do you truly think Tiberius would be so foolish as to attack the Francs?" Percival asked, seeing his fellow knight rather upset at the news. "They are the most numerous armed forces in western Europa and allied to Britain. To declare open war on them would—"
"To do so would see Camelot's righteous boot on his throat." Mordred cut in, "And that would be a dumbass thing for him to do." She was wholly confident in Britain's strength to push back whatever came their way. And why wouldn't she be? She herself wielded a blade that was, in her slightly biased opinion, one of the most powerful in the land. Their King wielded the ultimate offence and defense. Two of their greatest knights held Holy Swords of their own, and they had the blessings of the Fae on their side.
What did Rome have? A crumbling empire attempting to recapture its bygone glory days. Gods that no longer existed and did not hear their prayers. A stupid emperor who saw nothing but blood and conquest as the way forward. "My King, our armies are the greatest on the planet, our weapons the finest and our leader the greatest king, call us to arms, and anyone with two brain cells knows they face the greatest armed force in this world." Mordred thumped her gauntleted hand against her breastplate to emphasize her point, drawing nods of agreement from Bedivere to Ywain.
Arturia got up from her chair and strode across the hall to the map of Europa that hung from the far wall, showing their borders and the borders of their neighboring allies among potential enemies and neutral powers. It had been initially meant to be enchanted to mark the movements in real-time, but not only would such a thing have been a massive undertaking, but it would have drawn cries of bloody murder from the local Europa based Magi. Staring at the map, Arturia thought on their next course of action before she made her proclamation, "Should a single Roman troop be spotted crossing into King Ban's lands…." Turning towards her knights, she continued on with steely resolve, "…then it will be considered an act of war against our allies, and thus Britain itself. And we will respond in kind." Making her way back to her chair, the knights agreed with Arturia's stance. If there was no need to go to war, then they wouldn't. War was something that, while they would have no problem waging it in defense of Britain and the kingdom of Camelot, it was something they did not desire since the peaceful times had settled in with them, even more so with the death of Morgan le Fey.
They were about to wrap up for the day when a strange event occurred. A giant white silk moth had flown in from the open skylight where the occupants' sans Merlin and Naruto looked on in interest and some concern, but the Flower Magus quickly placed his staff up in placation. "Hold on now, I believe we have a good-natured messenger addressing us." The knights relaxed into their seats but kept vigilant eyes of the giant white moth, one larger than any of them had ever seen.
The moth fluttered for a minute before landing in the middle of the table, looking directly at Arturia. "Greetings, good King Arturia," The moth spoke in a warm yet reserved tone, its large black eyes and fluffy antennae twitching, "…my name is Blanca, and I bring an invitation to you and your court to join the Lady Vivian, as well as the Court of Avalon's rulers, the Fairy King Oberon and his Queen Titania in the Samhain celebration tonight." It invited jovially before continuing on, "Avalon venerates you, oh King of Knights, in thanks to the slaying of the King of Mors, Vortigern the Usurper, and the fall of the Dark Fairy Witch, Morgan le Fey."
The occupants quickly exchanged questioning looks with the King and the two resident Magi, this did not seem normal. It was true that Vivian had invited Arturia and a select few to come to her to receive gifts, and even seek her out for counsel, but never did the Fae ever reach out to them in such a way, preferring instead to watch from the Inner Sea. To receive something such as this was a high honor to those who held the favor of the Faeries and thus was granted certain privileges that many would be envious to have.
Naruto was quick to ask the moth a little more on the details of the celebration, "You mean, the Court of Avalon will host this celebration? And even Vivian herself? Who else will be there?" It wasn't often that the Fae would make contact with Humans other than for amusement. Truthfully, Naruto wanted to help keep the balance between Humans and Faeries as the symbiosis they made was something beautiful in his eyes. Both could learn so many things from one another, and hopefully, Naruto wanted to try and bridge things by asking Fae who would be willing to live in Camelot.
Despite the cityscape being not of true nature, Naruto hoped their presence would help keep flora and fauna in high spirits and bring happiness to those around them and vice versa.
Blanca beat his wings and turned to Naruto to address his questions, "Indeed. Lady Vivian, along with King Oberon and Queen Titania, are holding the celebration in their domain. Lady Aurora and her handmaiden Coral of the Wind Clan will be in attendance, along with Lord Boggart, and the Bride-maker Habetrot will also be of important note in attendance. Other Clan leaders sadly could not attend. But that is all I know." The oversized silk moth's antennae furrowed in apparent annoyance, "My King, Oberon, is one for theatrics, and thus wishes to keep the details in the dark... I apologize in advance if this has come ill-timed."
Some of these names Naruto wasn't aware of, though Merlin certainly was, as he chuckled when Habetrot was mentioned, "My King, I think that it would be a good thing for you to accept the invitation." Merlin said.
Naruto nodded in agreement, his curiosity was also peaked by the mentioning of Wind Clan, and he wondered who some of the other Fae that was mentioned were, "It'd be quite rude if we did refuse it, your majesty."
Seeing that both her teacher and lover were in agreement with this, Arturia nodded her head, "Very well then, Blanca. Please inform your King and Queen that we have accepted the invitation and will join them this evening." A surprised smile graced her pink lips; the idea of enjoying something as prestigious as this would make a fine palate cleanser for the seriousness of today's meeting.
Blanca gave a dainty nod before he flew back through the skylight, back to the wilderness to the Fae's domain, his fluffy wings carrying him at speeds no bird of prey could match. With the sun beginning to wane into the evening, the court decided to make haste and ready themselves for the celebration with the Fae, however, Merlin held Arturia back to speak with in private. As the Mage of Flowers closed the door, he quickly brought the subject up before Arturia could question him, "Before you ask, my king, it is about the slow drought that has begun in the west of Britain."
"A drought? But the time for droughts has long passed." Arturia cocked her head in confusion, "Speak sense, Merlin. Your theatrics for flowers are amusing right up to the point where it makes metaphors missable."
Merlin grimaced at the slight before it gave way to a sad smile. "Truthfully, I had hoped this would not happen, but in my walkabouts, my own fears have begun to come true. The decline of Britain's Mystery has begun…" He explained, "…for so long as the advancement of Mankind as a whole progresses, and learns the secrets of the world, so will the Magic and Mystery slowly fade over time, leaving the wonders laid barren and stripped of what makes them what they are."
Arturia's eyes widened at the news. If this continued, then… "Does this mean the magic will fade entirely?"
Merin shook his head, "No, not entirely, but the power of mystery will fade quite substantially." Petting Fou on his shoulder, he continued on, "Magecraft will remain but in less a potent state. Mages will be forced to lesser means of achieving their goals, through more brutal methods at times. The Church will make false proclamations in the name of preserving what little is left of their own foundation." Sighing at how things could go, Merlin said nothing of the worst possible case. "The Age of Gods is long over, but this winter of magecraft has been idling in autumn for two centuries now, it cannot be halted forever."
As for Arturia, in her eyes, this would only lead to the degradation of all of what they had built and accomplished thus far, "Then tell me, how can I stop this from continuing on? How can I preserve Britain's Magic and Mystery?"
Merlin made his way towards the door, only stopping before cryptically saying, "It is doubtful anything made by the hand of man could preserve this Age and prevent the degradation." Those were his last words before heading off to make ready for the celebration with the Fae, leaving Arturia alone in the hall.
The King of Knights gazed back at the map of Europa before turning towards the windows that showed the outside of the palace and clenched her fist in resolve, "My country, Britain, I shall not see you wither before my eyes. I will find that to which I seek, one way or another."
With the invitation accepted, the court of Camelot had gone off by horseback, following Blanca, who had waited for them patiently to lead the way into the Fae domain, leaving a trail of glowing floating dust in her wake. And while the knights and even Merlin had all chosen to go by horseback, the King and Queen instead had gone by robust carriage, with even the recent newlyweds of Tristan and Iseult carried in one as well. A thoughtful idea from Arturia, not wanting the two of them to spend part of their honeymoon on separate horses. The only one who hadn't come with was the ever-stoic Agravain, who's opinions on the matter had been as severe as his hairline.
"I know that an invitation from the Fae is a high honor and something to take joy in, I myself cannot find it within me to enjoy such a festivity in the presence of such beings. Besides, someone must also remain in the palace to help continue managing the city and estates of Camelot."
Arturia found it disappointing that the Knight of Black Iron had chosen not to come and continue working, but she found his work ethic highly commendable.
Though Naruto knew well enough, he was more of a stick in the mud, coupled with the enchantment he had placed on him months prior after discovering his treasonous nature had made him more effective as an administrator.
Either way, Naruto was glad that tonight wouldn't have anyone with dour moods to ruin the occasion. There had been FAR too much misery as of late, an evening of fun was a godsend.
As their entourage continued through the forest led by Blanca, they soon found the forest around them beginning to brim with light and life, from small animals flitting through the underbrush to glowing moths and butterflies dancing above. A light began to shine before them as the sun dipped down before the moon started to rise, "We will soon arrive in the domain of Oberon and Titania, your majesty." Blanca informed everyone present as the silver light surrounding them grew brighter and brighter until it finally faded to reveal many strange and beautiful flowers and creatures that gave off vibrant colors and lights.
For Guinevere and Iseult, this was their first time experiencing the domain of the Fae, alongside Ywain and Mordred, both of whom were wide-eyed, just as the Queen and Lady of the White Hands were, only they held their mouths closed, lest they show their own surprise and embarrassment of such a spectacle the proved typical for the far more seasoned knights around them. Fou, who had been sitting on Merlin's shoulder much of their journey, had piped up and ran off deeper into the forest, though the half-incubus said nothing, merely chuckling at how close to home he was in this enchanted land.
They were all soon welcomed by an overly bombastic voice ahead of them, drawing their attention, "Come one! Come all, and welcome to our humble home of the Court of Avalon, young and weary travelers in search of adventure and celebration!" Fifty feet in front of them was a large and impossibly intricate archway, grown from the land and wound intricately with glowing veins of living crystal and flower that trapped the light of the moon. Standing at the head of the gate were three figures, three faeries, one of which was Lady Vivian as Naruto and a few others recognized immediately in the middle. The other two as Naruto understood by their appearance and welcoming of them, were Oberon and Titania.
The King of the Fae lived up to his reputation less as an imposing figure but instead an archetypal 'Fairy Tale King'. His face was rounded with soft princely features lilting his wide to a goofy grin that exposed perfect teeth. Oberon's eyes were forget-me-not blue with deep black pupils filled with reserved excitement, and his hair was a thick bob of silvery locks accented by a circlet of golden stars. He wore a white peplos-Esque garment with a ruffled collar, puffy shoulders and frilly cuffs over which he wore a fancy periwinkle blue sleeveless jerkin with gold buttons worn open to the hem of his peplos; white tight clad legs poked out of the bottom tucked into blue heeled shoes with white bows. He wore an equally periwinkle blue cloak with a white-furred edge fastened by a golden broach at his clavicle. A passing firefly cast light upon the inside of the cape and revealed a paler blue inner lining bearing Oberon's sigil of a crowned white thistle. All of this, however, paled in comparison to the Fae King's most noticeable feature, the pair of huge glittering moth's wings that jutted from his back.
Titania, on the other hand, was a far departure from Oberon's comparatively human aesthetic with elven facial features and pointed ears, her skin was an alabaster white with an undertone of blue that gave Naruto pause, old memories of a crazed goddess rousing in his mind, indeed, this woman did have Divinity, potent Divinity that burbled against his senses like a fresh stream. But in comparison to the specter of memory, the Queen of the Avalon Fae exuded a regal warmth while interacting with the partygoers. She wore a fluttering white chiton with a pink cinch inset with large rubies and a floor-length silken mantle that shifted colors the longer one looked at it. The look was completed with thigh-length raven-colored hair arranged in a herringbone pattern ending with a top knot encircled by a platinum tiara that was woven from crystalline twigs.
Titania swatted Oberon on the shoulder lightly, "Oh, dear husband of mine, you really must cut down on the theatrics at times." Turning back towards their guests, she formally introduced herself, "Welcome, everyone, I apologize for my husband, Oberon's antics. He does not know when it is best to hold back such things. I am Titania, and you have met Lady Vivian, who arrived shortly before yourselves." With a wave of her hand, the brush and plants shifted aside to reveal a large gathering of various faeries and phantasmals drinking, eating, dancing and doing all manner of things. Music of exotic and alien beauty wafted through the air, practically visible to the naked eye, scents of sweet wines, rich foods and narcotic mist punched against their senses like a freight train.
Arturia looked nearly gobsmacked at seeing so many Fae in one place, she looked to Vivian with the Lady of the Lake, seeing her astonishment and addressed it, "They all came to celebrate their lynchpin and chosen, young one."
Naruto had dismounted Dun Stallion before uttering a single genuine show of amazement, "Wow…"
The guests from Camelot disembarked from their steeds, where several Seelie fae that appeared very much like Druids were taking care of their horses in what would've been seen as a corral of sorts that made it feel quite cozy, judging by how they all were resting easily and their armor removed off to the side as some small, humanoid fae were actually polishing the armor, despite how there was a celebration going on.
Naruto stood off to the side as he watched them work before speaking up, "I know this might be a strange question, but why are you guys working even though there's a party going on?" Pointing behind himself. One of the Fae turned to face him, allowing Naruto to get a better look at him to see how he resembled one of the dwarves that inhabited Scandinavia before Surtr burned the Norse textures during Ragnarök.
"Beh, it's just part of our nature in the Earth Clan." The dwarven Fae waved off before he went back with the others to polish the armor and clean the carriages, "I'm surprised one of the Moon's kids wouldn't know that." He commented offhandedly.
Kurama picked up on the Dwarf's banal dismissal with sarcasm, 'Yeah, not exactly something we'd know just because you got a species change.' He wasn't wrong on that count. Despite having become a Dead Apostle and now considered to be akin to a Lesser Fae, Naruto's knowledge of Fae society and structure was bare bones at best. Understanding he had gleaned from Vivian's gift of wisdom was that they all had different names, roles and purposes within the world to help make it function. Humans naturally lived off the land, and Faeries were, in a sense, the land itself. Still, they were also nourished by being in a human's presence despite how they could satisfy themselves with whatever they wanted.
A symbiotic relationship between Human and Fairy.
Naruto felt Arturia's hand on his shoulder, drawing his attention away from the dwarven Fae and back to the celebration at hand, "Naruto, you're missing out on the fun right now."
Smiling at the show of affection, Naruto returned her question with a smile, "I know, I'm sorry." Gesturing back to the Fae behind him, "My own curiosity got the better of me for a few minutes."
"Curious and curiouser, aren't you?"
Oberon's voice tinkled behind them as an accompaniment to his bright smile, "Quite the pair you two make, as a king and retainer. I've seen married couples with less chemistry." Commenting with a bit of quirkiness, subtly seeing just how close they were. Before the pair had even had the chance to give voice to their concern, Oberon moved to soothe their worries. "Not to worry you two…" He said much more softly as he inched closer to their faces before whispering, "…the Lady of the Lake did not say anything directly but subtly implied about you two to my wife and me. No one else knows." He winked at the pair that blushed with embarrassment in response, that is until he returned back to his initial image of a Fairy King, "But enough of that, you two should enjoy tonight's festivities with smiles and joy in you!" Spreading his arms out with a little flash of lights and fireflies setting off in a bombastic fashion. "So says Oberon, King of the Fae!"
The pair shared a silent sideways look, a common thought shared between them in muted conversation when they saw how Oberon acted.
'Now there's two of Merlin….'
He was just as quirky and eccentric as their teacher was. At least from what they saw, Oberon had Titania to keep him in check when it came to weird things being done. Oberon began to lead them through the party, talking animatedly about any number of topics that sprung to mind. In fact, it was all a little overwhelming, with Arturia looking a modicum haggard by the Fae King's endless quixotic optimism.
As if sensing the plight of her chosen, Vivian approached them with a calm and serene atmosphere about her, "Oberon, I do hope thou hasn't decided upon making trouble for my chosen." There was playfulness in her voice, indicating that she wasn't being stern on the fairy king.
Turning to see the Lady of the Lake, Oberon playfully waved his hands in protest, "Oh dear me? I would never!" He then placed a hand on his chin in thought, "Unless, of course, it would simply make their story all the better, then, by all means, I would double my efforts to make jests and jokes at them." Snapping his fingers in a eureka moment.
The other three rolled their eyes before the voice of the dwarven Fae cropped up, "Can you folks just let us do our work in peace? We're far away from the party for a reason." It seemed Oberon's tour had led them back to the corral.
"Terribly sorry about that, Onfam." Oberon apologized, "We'll leave you to your peace and quiet."
"Fucking finally, your Majesty."
Arturia's mouth fell open at the blatant disrespect shown between subject and monarch, a face that grew more incredulous when Oberon snapped his fingers as he turned on his heel, a butterfly carrying a freshly picked grape into her mouth. Naruto tried valiantly to prevent himself from bursting out laughing at the look of steaming rage that was paired with a moan of delight at the sweet fruit. It was a battle that Naruto eventually conceded a respectable loss to, "Pffft, tonight's gonna be fun." The vampiric blonde linked his arm around Arturia's before moving to follow the two high Fae for what would turn out to be a night to remember.
For the other members of the Round Table, all met different Fae from across the land. Each had something unique about their nature, their quirks, their personalities, and even their perceptions.
Off on a table, Gareth was currently staring at a pipe being offered to her by a caterpillar fae, that looked all too cheerful to her, but considering that it merely communicated in chirps, she could only guess that it was offering her a gift. "Oh, uh, thank you, Mr Caterpillar."
Looking at the pipe, she guessed there was some sort of relaxing herb in it, with a winged fae drifting towards her with a lit reed in hand for her, "Her you go, sir knight. Try it, it's relaxing!"
Taking the reed, Gareth inched it closer to the pipe, "You made it, Ainsel!" She nearly stumbled at the high-pitched voice that went off next to her before steadying. Turning to the origin of those words, Gareth looked to see that it was a fae riding atop some sort of floating wagon that kept her at head level. To say the Fae was little was an understatement, she could not have been any taller than a large toddler yet stood upright with inquisitive, bright pinkish-red eyes. Her small face gave the feeling of looking into the face of a rambunctious kitten with pointed ears and long straight coral pink hair that curled up at her back, twin bangs ran past her ears and up into a twin-tailed pink cap marked with gold lines with two large brown buttons at the forehead. For attire, she wore an adorable pink hooded jacket with a gold zipper and a pair of baggy white pants tucked into darling brown and black boots. Slung around her waist was a large - for her anyway, in reality, it was about the size of a small messenger satchel- stuffed with rolls of thread and various textiles tools. The Fae's cheerful expression dipped down as Gareth turned to see her, "Awww… you're not Ainsel…." Which quickly rose back up as she introduced herself, "Sorry about that, I'm Habetrot! It's nice to meet you, little cutie knight!"
Seeing Habetrot's tiny handheld out for her to take, Gareth gently clasped it with her thumb, index and middle fingers to give back proper manners, "And it's nice to meet you too, Habetrot. I'm Sir Gareth."
The winged Fae that was with them had risen her head after Habetrot's introduction, "Habetrot? The Fae who makes bridal dresses for women of Britain?"
Habetrot nodded in response, "That's me. Making bridal dresses is something I like doing, it's my role."
"With Morgan gone, perhaps humans and faeries can be happier together, and they will need you to make dresses for future brides." The Fae chirped.
"Yeah, I suppose so…" Habetrot said gloomily.
Gareth scratched the back of her head, hearing that bit of optimism, yet her mother's darkness still somewhat lingered in her mind. And while she herself was glad that Morgan would no longer trouble them, she did see how Habetrot's expression had become sullen and sad, "What's wrong, Habetrot?
"…oh, it's nothing…" Habetrot had seemed to space out, off in her own little world after hearing Morgan was gone, and yet she couldn't help but notice how solitary tear seemed to break, but was quickly wiped away, "…just remembering a happier time with friends who're no longer here to enjoy things…"
Gareth winced, that seemed to bring the mood down quite a bit. Seeing that this was a party, and everyone wanted to be happy, Gareth decided on trying out that pipe herb she was given, "So, what is this stuff, Habetrot?"
Snapping back to how she was before, Habetrot eyed the pipe before smirking a bit, "Oh, that stuff… he he he… go ahead, try it out."
Taking the light to the pipe, Gareth lit it up, and while she had never smoked anything before, she sort of understood the basics of simply taking a puff and exhaling it. Habetrot's feline smile turned positively devious, though still bright-eyed, "Pack your bags."
"Gareth, there you are…" Gaheris said as he came up behind his sister, "…I was looking for you after the Round Table split off and…" He stopped momentarily after he saw Gareth let out a puff of iridescent smoke after pulling the pipe away, "…Gareth, what are you doing?" For some reason that he couldn't describe, Gaheris had a chill run down his spine.
"Because you're going on a trip!" Habetrot tittered atop her little airship.
After coughing for a bit, Gareth slowly turned to face her brother, and she looked… off. Very off, "Oh, hey, big bro! How're you doing at this partaaay!" Gareth's usually green eyes were now fastly spinning quasars of kaleidoscopic color with a silly lackadaisical grin plastered on her face. Whatever it was the Fae had given her, it was certainly potent, Habetrot and the other Fae were snickering at the reaction the human had. Gaheris was about to speak up again, that is until Gareth looked up and pointed to the sky, "Don't you see the amazing colours and stars shooting by! Or what about the wacky cats and dogs chasing each other in the sea above us?!"
She was very high.
"Oh Lord give me strength…"
"I wanna chase and cuddle with them!"
The Fae then burst out laughing as Gareth followed suit. The next thing he knew, he was having to chase his sister down, trying to tickle and cuddle with imaginary pets.
"I'm an eagle, Awooga, Awooga!"
"Nonono Gareth, that's a bonfire!"
"Weeeeeeeeeee! All your bonfires will belong to Gareth the eagle!"
Over at what had been set up as an outdoor bar suspended atop a large bank of mushrooms made of quartz, Galahad, along with Kay and Palamedes, had decided to hit it up to see a dwarven fae was running it, "Might I slake your thirst good sirs? Here, try this new batch of ale. I made it after seeing how some humans did it." The Dwarf shoved a large tankard over to them, each filled to the brim with some golden-brown ale that fizzed at the top.
Taking a brief whiff of the drink, the knights gave it a sip before their eyes widened in astonishment, "This is…" Palamedes muttered…
"Yes?" The Dwarf asked.
"This is…" Galahad repeated.
"Yes?" The anticipation was showing.
"This is the greatest ale ever!" Kay yelled as he raised his tankard in cheering for the Fae's accomplishment. Galahad ideally rolled his eyes, only Kay could chug 300 plus proof alcohol and go back for more.
The Dwarf merely crossed his arms, "Well, thanks, good sir knights! It's nice to know that humans like it so much. I added something special to the ale to make it taste better than regular human-made ale. Name's Mike, by the way." Mike saw that the three knights were now chugging their tankards down before slamming them in enjoyment.
"Can we get another round?" Palamedes asked.
Mike had already taken the tankards and started refilling them up, "Sure, no problem, though I'm not sure if maybe it's a good idea to let you three have so much."
Handing them back to the knights there were about to guzzle them down, that is until a baritone voice came from Galahad's open side, "Oh don't worry, Mike. Humans can handle ale as much as we can. Let them drink their fill tonight." Compared to many of his human-Esque kinsmen, this Fae was more accurate to call an anthropomorphic lion of equal height to Naruto, with a white pelt and mane and expressive golden eyes. His tall and broad body was dressed in the attire of a human nobleman, a blue and gold coat with oversized black lapels and a matching waistcoat and pants; his long white tail swayed behind him from a special hole in the back of the waistband. Forgoing shoes, his white hind paws were perfectly maintained with manicured black claws.
The knights were certainly not expecting a Fae to dress as such, but they didn't let that bother them. Galahad saw fit to thank the Fae, "Thank you, uhm… Sir fae. I'm Sir Galahad along with Sir's Palamedes and Kay…" Gesturing to them respectively, "…I'm sorry, but I don't know your name."
The lion fae merely waved it off, "Oh, it's quite alright. I don't expect many humans to know all of our names since we don't know yours." The Fae cleared his throat before getting up to properly introduce himself, "My name is Boggart, milady. And I am pleased to make your acquaintance."
Galahad closed his eyes and nodded on, "It's an honor to—wait, how did you address me?" He just recalled that bit about 'mi lady.'
Palamedes merely whistled off to the side, eyeing the various ales that Mike had at the bar that suddenly became more interesting, while Kay was had snorted and placed a hand over his mouth to try and hold his ale down at the remark.
"I did call you a lady, isn't that the proper wording for a human such as yourself?" Boggart asked in ignorance, or perhaps innocence?
Galahad had essentially just frozen at his words, not sure how to even respond to that. Mike, however, leant over to Boggart and addressed what was going on, "Well, you see Boggart, Galahad is a young man. Not a woman."
It was at this point that Boggart's eyes widened briefly before looking back to Galahad for several minutes, inspecting him as one would a question, and then turned back to Mike with one of his own, "Are you certain of that?"
Kay just burst out laughing, unable to contain it for any longer, all the while Boggart scratched his chin, wondering if he was actually right or wrong as Galahad started banging his head against the bar softly.
From his position across the dance floor amidst a quiet seating area, Lancelot looked over to see how his son was now apparently hitting his head deliberately against the bar and furrowed his brows in confusion, "Did something happen to him, I wonder?"
Guinevere, who he had been dancing with as a knight chaperone and escort, so to speak, smiled at what she had a feeling was going on, "Oh, I'm certain he's fine. I've heard that fairies often make jests and jokes to make the mood all the more entertaining. Is that not true?" Knowing how Lancelot had been raised by a Fae in his homeland, she thought he would be able to confirm it.
"It is true…" Lancelot replied, "…though not all the time were the jests in the best of taste." He shuddered slightly at one memory. Oh, how he wished Nimue had not led a girl over to where he had been changing clothes that one time. Lord knows he was too innocent in those days to react in such a situation.
Not long after rejoining the festivities, Naruto and Arturia had both paired off with their hosts and began speaking with Vivian and Oberon respectively.
As Naruto and Vivian made their way off to a nearby moonlit lake, Arturia and Oberon were instead off by the stage where the music was played.
Despite how quirky he may have been upon his first introduction to her, Arturia noted that Oberon did have a serious side to him, much like how Merlin often slipped into when addressing matters of dire nature, "So, now that the King of Mors and the Dark Mistress is dead, what are your plans for the future?" Oberon asked in curiosity.
"To be honest, I was hoping to simply ensure that Britain is safe and secure enough that I can one day step down from the throne." Arturia responded, "However, with my lack of an heir, I doubt being able to retire will be within the immediate future." Arturia brooded somberly, remembering her last words to Naruto after Periwinkle had passed on.
Oberon casually waved her brooding aside, "Oh, I'm certain one day it will happen. Just keep the faith, and your story shall reach its zenith." He glanced over to the river while smiling, knowing well enough how things could potentially play out with those two, though he had to admit, "Though I must admit, you're quite different from your father, Uther."
Arturia's eyes widened at that, "You knew my father?" It wasn't often that he was ever spoken of in general conversation, she herself only knew he was a man that was both noble and honorable until her uncle Vortigern made a coup against his older brother. Or at least that was what Ector had told her growing up, Morgan's passing words had painted a somewhat darker picture of her progenitor.
Oberon nodded as he closed his eyes, recognizing that the image of Uther painted by Ector's anecdotes was not without white lies, "Yes. On the outside and in the eyes of the public, as well to his knights, not unlike Ector who raised you, Uther was a man that cared for the people and welfare of its inhabitants, at least as far as he was concerned with humans that is."
Arturia caught Oberon's tone, "You mean to say that he was… untrue in that image?"
Shaking his head, Oberon continued on, "I will say that he did care about humanity with all his heart, but as you humans say, the road to hell is paved with good intent. He believed that Britain was a land that belonged to Man and Man alone. And that we Fae should simply disappear entirely, wanting us to either go back to the Reverse Side or should we choose to remain, be hunted down and destroyed." The silver-haired monarch crossed his arms in business-esque professionality, bearing hard truths that did not need flowery cadence.
"Behind closed doors, the man had abused his wife and their firstborn, your sister, for his own ends in trying to eradicate Britain of the Fae." Oberon continued on, "Your uncle, Vortigern, born of the land as much of their mother, was a man who thought differently, seeing how we Fae and Men could live together and saw the beauty this land held. He attempted to force Uther from his plans, but his demands fell on deaf ears as Uther turned his attention to harnessing the Primeval Curse…." Oberon shuddered in fear at the thought of the effluvial miasma, "…and thus Vortigern chose to seek out Albion and use her blood to try and steer Britain's fate on the course he perceived was correct. But like many who go down the path of doing what they believe is right, they become what they oppose. The blood of the great dragon corrupted what little humanity was left in him, becoming the Dark Will of Britain, the Usurper, the King of Mors as you knew him."
Dipping her head in shame at how she had defended the glowing mental image of her birth father, Arturia realized that her sister had revealed the truth, now confirmed by one who stood nothing to gain by telling her these facts. And then there was her uncle and sister, both obviously opposed to Uther, but each had different approaches to a goal, not truly evil, yet their paths went down the same road of darkness in the end. "How can you trust me when my kin have proved to be so vile?"
Oberon placed a gentle hand on her shoulder to see he offered a serene smile, "Worry not, young Arturia, the sins of the father do not pass on to their children. Otherwise, none of us would have likely trusted a sire of the Crimson Moon; yet look at what wondrous friends to the Fae you have become."
"Just who exactly was the Crimson Moon? Brunestud, I mean." Arturia asked in growing curiosity. She knew the name from Naruto that it was he who sired him, but he never spoke in depth about the Moon King who had attacked him a century prior, cursing her love to forever walk the Earth as he was with no purpose until they met, who robbed him of the mortality that made him human. What kind of being was the red-eyed progenitor of the night kin? Deep down, she could feel that Naruto, the most compassionate man she knew, deeply hated and even feared the one that had turned him.
Oberon blinked, his posture turning uneasy, "To know Brunestud was to know that one was doomed beyond all measure." The fairy king stated in what one would describe as a eulogy, "He who had the power to remake the world at his fingertips beyond what gods could accomplish, that was what it was to stare into his sad eyes as if you fell into a sea of blood and despair. That was the very being that was Brunestud of the Crimson Moon, the Ultimate One of the Moon." Oberon had never fully encountered Brunestud, but before the Kaleidoscope's victory in sending him away, all he heard from his kin that had visited the Forested Capital was how utterly terrifying it was to be in his presence, even to the Dead Apostles and True Ancestors that he had encountered all had said the same thing. "You can't comprehend the terror of wandering into a glen of what had once been a texture only to find that the moon king had converted it into a snow globe for his own amusement. He was something beyond sense, a realm above the minds of mortals."
Brunestud was practically death itself, and the world was his playground to do as he saw fit.
The image of such a being entered Arturia's thoughts, and she couldn't even fathom the sheer power it took to do such things. Vortigern, Morgan and the gods of old all paled in comparison to such a creature that toyed with humanity for whatever reason he desired. Even so, there was something within Oberon's words that resounded to her, "Is there such a power that exists today? That could reshape the world for the good of a nation, its land and its people?"
Oberon regarded her determined emerald eyes, his seriousness evaporating as he switched over to a personality that one would refer to as a 'Storyteller', "In the realm of sense? No, but of mystery? Perhaps. For you see, I have a tale that may interest and entertain you, Arturia." Clearing his throat as he launched into a bombastic tale. "Some decades ago, when I was younger and was not a married man, just a good fellow named Robin, I travelled to a faraway land to the east and met a Djinn that resided in a lamp, the poor thing wished to have a breath of fresh air, and so I gave it to him all the while making small talk." Between his hands, a globe of sparkling dust swirled into being, an image of a younger Oberon walking across a desert and encountering a lamp taking form in its depths. "He mentioned once that he met THE Joseph of Arimathea, and it was there that I learned about the Holy Grail, the Cup of Christ that caught his blood that the Holy Spear Longinus spouted from the body of Yahweh's progeny on the cross." Oberon said, "Such a cup held power that could reshape the world should the finder desire it, but only if they sought it out and were true of heart could achieve such a thing."
"The Holy Grail..." It was just what Arturia needed to ensure that the Age of Faeries could continue, and Britain was safeguarded. "Thank you, Oberon." Arturia replied with some renewed confidence, "You've given me the answer to a question that has been plaguing me as of late."
The Fae King nodded back animatedly with a smile, "I'm more than happy to help you out, Arturia." Oberon dismissed his orb before he pulled out a glass bottle of golden wine that had a red bow tied around its neck, pushing it into Arturia's hands, "And as I feel that I must give my honored guest something tonight, here, a bottle of Faerie wine. Brewed to give it a taste unlike any other in the world, and a little something else in it to make some situations more enjoyable." He said, winking at Arturia, all the while smirking at her as he wiggled his eyebrows.
Arturia wasn't quite sure what that something was, and yet she— "Did you hear that?" Arturia's head whipped around, ears twitching at something only a trained ear could have perceived.
"No, what?" Oberon answered, floating a few feet up to look over the throng of dancing people to see just what had dragged Arturia from her focus.
"Did you hear, Sir Gawain is participating alongside Sir Percival for the dessert preparations." a spritely pixie chirped from atop another's shoulder.
"Oh, I wonder what he'll make?"
Overhearing that from some nearby Fae, Arturia grew pale and made her way across the party as fast as she could to stop Gawain from making his only dish: Mashed potatoes.
"Sorry, but I need to stop that from happening!" Arturia called over her shoulder to the perplexed Oberon as she ran off in search of her oldest nephew with wine in hand; all the while Oberon laughed merrily before Titania, vein twitching in her temple, arrived and slapped his shoulder.
"Did you just give the young king what I believe it to be?" The remnant of the Titaness Rhea asked her husband, having thoroughly schooled him before the party in keeping his pranks to a minimum, "I should have left you and Puck locked in a wicker cage to keep you from sowing too much mischief."
"Oh, I would never give her something bad unless it made her story more entertaining." Oberon joked all the while Titania turned to watch Naruto speaking with Vivian and turned back to her husband, "But it's not something that will be without shared enjoyment." Well, he saved himself from another slap, at least.
For Naruto, he found himself walking alongside the moonlit lake with Vivian, "I've noticed how the world seems to be rejecting me less and less, thanks to your gift." Looking down at his hands as he clenched them briefly before letting go, a brief flash of golden power effortlessly thrummed to the surface before fading, "It's like my old power has been coming back to me slowly, but surely." He turned to Vivian then, "Thank you. It's helped me more times than I can count."
"Think nothing of it, brother…." Vivian said, "…for you have done naught but help us all."
There were times where it felt as if nothing was holding him back, which prompted a particular question to leave Naruto's lips, "Though I gotta ask how it's possible." He knew Vivian was an incredible Fae, but he wasn't sure she held the power to allow the select chosen to reject the Counter Force entirely.
At this, Vivian's angelic face turned sullen, "I suppose thou deserves to know how I can allow those with my gift to reject the world. Like all High Fae, I was born of this planet to fulfil a role, my role is grandiose. Though I carry the name Vivian, I am a sapient terminal for Gaia to interact and speak with those who live in this world."
"…what…?" Naruto stopped dead in his tracks, expressive red eyes locking onto his companion. Vivian, was merely a terminal for Gaia to act through? The celestial body that had left him diminished for over a century? It had to be a lie, but Vivian's body held no lies, nothing but the truth and regret, "You know, it would've been nice to know this beforehand." His usually laid back and paradoxically energetic words carried an undercurrent of annoyance and bitterness.
Vivian sighed in slight shame at her words, "I did not wish for thee, brother mine, to hold a manner of resentment against my progenitor for holding… chaining you as it did."
Naruto digested her words and genuine regret that wafted against his senses from the Lady of the Lake, turning to look over water where the corpse of his true defiler lay reflected in its surface. Pinching the bridge of his nose in thought, Kurama remained silent to let his partner form his own conclusions on Vivian's lie of admission. Eventually, he slapped his own cheeks lightly to bring himself from his fugue. "It's not that. I don't despise or hate you." Naruto shrugged as he continued, not wanting to have Vivian take his aggravation as genuine malice, "I just wish you told me sooner about your status, that's all."
Vivian had the decency to dip her head in apology, eyes closed in refined remorse, speaking quietly. "I feared thy ire, brother of mine, trembled at the thought that if thou knew the veracity of mine existence that thou wouldest look upon me with hate and disgust. I am not Gaia, but we are connected; her love and fear of thee burns like old coals. Brunestud's siring was not foolproof, and in that systemic dissonance, a fear from Gaia and Alaya festered for a century… until recently."
"Until recently? What changed to make the Counter Force no longer see me as a threat?" Naruto asked slowly, but realization dawned on him after looking at Vivian's mark on her forehead. "Your mark completed the integration, didn't it?"
Beaming at his deduction, Vivian nodded. "Indeed, the systems of Gaia are hideously complicated, but I am able to confer certain privileges to those I deem worthy. Thy status as a Dead Apostle hath been underscored within the system known as the Counter Force, thou are an agent of the Planet. Henceforth, thou might bring the totality of thy power to bear with little repercussion from Gaia and only direct opposition from Alaya's dogs should thy actions prove damning for humanity as a whole, and I believe myself a fair enough judge of character to say such a thing is unlikely from thee, no?"
The apostle smiled in relief, feeling as if a great weight he never knew he carried was lifted from his shoulders. He and his 'sister' slipped back into a relaxed conversation, and he would've inquired more about Vivian's nature and status among the Fae, that is until Kurama chimed in, 'Pay attention across the lake, you've got some beady-eyed company.'
Turning to the other side of the lake, Naruto focused his eyes across to see a pair of beings watching them with ambivalent distaste, "Is that, is that a lycanthrope and a man-eating fae?"
The former appeared to be a werewolf with a long mane running down its back, garbed in what one could assume battle gear, and the latter looked like a twisted fae of the Unseelie, yet its head was split apart in half from the bottom up, designating it as its mouth, and eyes black as the night.
Vivian turned to see their onlookers and narrowed her eyes, "Indeed. A member of the Fang Clan and one of the Unseelie fae who was invited as almsgiving. 'Tis not surprising after thy defeat of Morgan."
Giving her a sideways glance, Naruto needed to know more, "What exactly has been going on in the Fae realm since Morgan's death? I thought the Unseelie had been beaten back to Tir Na Nog on your end?"
"The Unseelie court and some rogue elements of the Fang Clan hath gone into hiding, the former has had several come forward begging clemency while the latter..." Vivian explained, "…their leader, Lord Woodwose, may claim innocence in the courts, but he hath supported Morgan for many a moon since their days of youth." Naruto remained silent as she continued on, "The strength of Woodwose is akin to that of the founding Fae of the clans. A Sub Bell, comparable to the Crimson Moon's True Ancestors." She turned to regard Naruto before she finished, "One must not underestimate such a foe."
For Vivian to give him a warning like this meant that this Woodwose was not someone to take lightly. Though having power comparable to a True Ancestor? Naruto wasn't sure how powerful that kind of being was, "What can you tell me about hi—"
"Ahhh! Get away from my student, you demoness!"
Merlin made his presence known with all the subtlety of a volcanic eruption, scattering their conversation like a potter's vessel. The Flower Magus had quickly appeared behind Naruto and covered his ears before yanking him away. Fou had returned to his shoulder, but did not look amused, either annoyed or bored by Merlin's ways by now, "I hope you're not filling his head with wicked words about me, are you?" He gave Vivian the stink eye who merely rolled her eyes in response.
"Merlin, will there ever come a time when thou dost not jest nor cause trouble for others?"
"Who knows?" Merlin shrugged as he teased Vivian, knowing full well how their first meeting went that night. She certainly was a woman who did not let go of things, "Will you ever not cause me trouble whenever I go on my walkabouts?"
"Precisely when thou no longer beds young maidens at first sight," Vivian said, raising an accusatory finger in response, like an adult chastising a child.
"Now I resent that statement." Merlin pointed his own finger at her in childish mirroring, "Although I suppose I could hold my urges back if you stop talking in such an old-fashioned way."
Vivian raised a brow at that remark, "Oh, thou means to refrain from such deviant acts, should I speak as the people do today?" Vivian saw a move that Merlin clearly overlooked as she continued on and crossed her arms, "And here I thought you were a man of culture and knowledge. Very well then, I shall speak more plainly for you to understand me then. Something my chosen here can do that you cannot." She wasn't going to let Merlin get the last word in as he froze in shocked dissatisfaction before he tried to rebuke yet found no words. Vivian snorted in unladylike amusement before leaving the two to rejoin the celebration.
Ceasing his sputtering and hanging his head, Merlin could only rub his temples before smiling, "Well, I suppose I deserved that for trying to sleep with her… mmm, what a woman she is." Oh, how even when it came to Fae, Merlin was a sucker for certain women.
"Pervy Mage, was there something you needed to tell me?" Naruto asked.
Merlin had nearly forgotten that Naruto was still here, the chance to fuck with Vivian had been too good to pass up on, but now that he was here, he at least had some news for him, "Ah, right." Dusting himself off after his little charade, Merlin pulled out a velum letter with a wax seal from within his robes and handed it to Naruto, "An invitation to join the Mage's Association, I was able to secure you a spot at the new branch that's being constructed over Albion's corpse."
Naruto's eyes widened a modicum at that. He wasn't sure if this new branch of the Association would accept him or cut him open like the Wandering Sea would have, although this was a new branch, with most likely different views than the other branches, "Wow, thanks, Pervy Mage."
"Oh, think nothing of it…." Merlin said as he stood with a confident look, "…I was able to make some smooth talk with a few of the prominent families, though the Barthomeloi were a little stingy about…." Waving that last bit off as he continued, "…anyways, after that, they agreed to extend an invitation."
Naruto had heard of the Barthomeloi family, a family that had hunted down Dead Apostles and other various bloodsuckers almost obsessively. They were aristocrats of a greater intensity than the Ancestors he was a part of, meaning they believed their family was better than others regardless of how much more talented they were and looked down upon them. How Merlin managed to talk things out with them was something he could only guess, but not sure if he could even get a word in before they attacked him on sight, "Huh, I'll need to head over there when I have some free time."
"The invitation doesn't have a time limit, so do it at your leisure. Though do be prepared to be assaulted by some of the other families with marriage proposals." Merlin said with a teasing smile and eyes closed.
Naruto blushed at that, "Yeah, uh, no. I'm gonna say no to that all the way."
Eventually, as the party continued on, more Fae had arrived to take part in the festivities, and with it, a need for new delicacies that they wished to taste from the human society, and as such, it was called for several people to step up and try their hand at some dishes.
For the most part, regular food materials meant to be used in making dinner had already been used up by this time, in which now the partygoers had one thing on their mind: Desert.
Naruto, Gawain and Percival had stepped up to be the ones to make dessert for the night. While Naruto knew that Gawain's skills as a cook were… not there, he had only recently in the last few weeks learned that Percival was a cook as well, though he never really saw much of the dishes the guardian knight prepared, seeing as how he would cook for Arturia, and Mordred, in private. The three of them had gone to the nearby kitchen set up with some Fang Clan fae, not affiliated with the Winter Court, who had been delving into the business of trying to open up a restaurant in human society.
Turns out despite how they may have some animalistic instincts, they were pretty friendly and civilized.
The two burly knights and apostle had gone straight to work on making a dessert that they hoped many would enjoy. Of course, Arturia was one of the judges, seeing as she would never turn down Naruto's cooking. Mordred had also sat down, removing a piece of her helmet's faceplate that would allow her to eat and drink at her leisure, yet it didn't give away her birthmarks, much less any resemblance she held to her parents.
Along with them were two Fae from the Fang and Wind clans: Doga and Harobalomia. The former resembled those of his clan brethren, while the latter was what one described as Elven, like those from the Norse texture in Scandinavia of old.
The four of them would be the judges to see which dessert would be made en masse for the rest of the party.
The first to step out was Gawain. Raising the large bowl in hand, he carried it over to the judge's table, Gawain set it down with a proud expression, with the judges looking on it, and while Arturia fought to keep a smile on her face, twitching at the sight of what it was, Mordred swallowed a lump down her throat.
She knew how Gawain would just make nothing but mashed potatoes… the tasteless horror that it was, until Naruto pulled him aside and finally got it in his head to add cheese and herbs to give it something. The food was still an affront to dead gods 90% of the time, but at least he was trying.
For their fellow fae judges, they were intrigued by it, "So, whaddya have here?" Doga asked.
Gawain was all too happy to explain, "This dessert is rice pudding, something I had been thinking about for some time now." Scooping the desert into each of their bowls, Gawain continued as he explained, "All I simply did was take some cooked rice and poured milk and sugar on it before mixing it all together." The Knight of the Sun looked on in eagerness as the judges started to take their first bites.
For Arturia and Mordred, both had to fight it down to their stomachs as they shed slight tears at the bland taste of it. Guess Naruto's advice didn't stick for long.
Internally, they were screaming, 'Naruto/Mother! Please finish your cooking!'
They were hesitant to give Gawain any answer, seeing the eager look on his face. Doga and Harobalmia, on the other hand…
"What is the name of the Great Mother is this?!"
"How is this even dessert?!"
Well, they were obviously more vocal.
Gawain looked all to hurt by their words as he reeled back in comedic shock, "Bu… bu…"
"All finished, I hope everyone is—" Percival had left the kitchen with his own dish, which was much larger than Gawain's own only to see the current situation, "…wait, did something happen with Sir Gawain?" Seeing one of his fellow knights in such a strange state was quite perplexing.
"His dessert sucked, and the Fae called it shit." Mordred said, blunt as ever.
Arturia had to take a long swig of her drink before talking again to get rid of that abominable taste, "Yes, as Sir Mordred said, Gawain's dish was… well…" Seeing the look on her nephew's face, she didn't want to crush him any further than he had been already, "…what did you bring Sir Percival?"
A metaphorical rain cloud formed over Gawain's head at the abrupt sandbagging of his efforts, had his creation had any more carbs in it, Arturia was sure it would have gained sentience and attempted to comfort its creator. Upon conceiving of such an image, she immediately tossed it into the part of her mind she reserved for bad memories where it would hopefully stay until the heat death of the universe.
"Oh, I played with some of the materials while I was at it, and it sort of just came to me over time." Sitting the dish on the table, Percival took a large spoon and began to set the much more appetizing appearing dessert before them, "I'm not sure what to call it, but I used it making meringue, cream and strawberries." Even though it was put together in a makeshift way, Percival had put a lot of effort into it. Which was showcased even further by just how much he made. More so than usual, enough to overload a plate or bowl for most people.
The judges, having shoved Gawain's dish out of the way, eagerly dug in, though once they did, well, they started to feel tingly.
Mordred had to set her fork down before trying to steady herself a bit, as did Arturia, though for Doga, he wound up passing out, "W-Woah... this stuffff izzz reeEEEEAAAAlly good…" Snoring soon occurred as Doga slept in the desert.
Doga slumped face-first into the dish while Harobalmia held his hands up to stare at them, "I think I'm getting a… tingly sensation in my fingers. Is this normal?"
"Percival…" Arturia began to inquire, "…did you put alcohol in the dessert by any chance?"
Placing a hand under his chin in thought, Percival had to recall what exactly he added into it to help give it flavor, "Ah, yes, I did. I thought it would help with adding in flavor along with the strawberries."
Ah, so that explained it.
Percival's dessert was given an okay, while Gawain's was rejected. Who still had not gotten over the shock of his results.
Seeing how Naruto had yet to finish his dessert, Mordred decided to try and hold off filling up on Percival's tastier one. Taking her fork and scooping up another piece, Mordred inched it closer and closer to her mouth, that is until she heard Naruto's voice, "And I have arrived in the nick of time." Setting her fork down, the judges, save for the passed out Doga, saw that Naruto had a strange dessert made, "I hope you all enjoy it."
Mordred's mouth was now wide and with a bit of drool starting to fall, though Arturia was no less composed. Doga was still out cold, while Harobalima was very eager to try it, "What have you made?"
Taking a knife to cut the dessert up, Naruto sat them one at a time onto their plates as he explained, "This is a dessert from my homeland…"
'And so, I have been saved!' Arturia exclaimed internally.
"…I decided to make a few of them for tonight, and I hope everyone will enjoy it." Naruto said, "These are cake rolls that I made by creating a soft pillowy cake to contain the fluffy whipped cream, and fresh strawberries creates such a beautiful harmony in your mouth." Mordred eagerly dug into the cake, "It's mildly sweet and a little tart, but both texture and flavor should be spot on!" Arturia soon got halfway done with her roll, "Usually whipped cream is normally achieved by whipping cream. But in this recipe, I use gelatin to stabilize the cake."
Harobalima had taken his own bit, and at this point, the elven Fae stood up as his chair flung back down, "WE HAVE OUR DESSERT FOR THE NIGHT!"
The Fae around them cheered in joy at a new thing they would enjoy for the night.
For Tristan and his wife, Iseult, they were now making light conversation with Lancelot and Guinevere, the latter secret couple had decided on such a thing to give the king and their apostle friend more time together and were sitting with Bedivere, who had chosen to help Gaheris chase down his sister, who now was passed out from exhaustion and getting the fae pipeweed out of her system.
"I'm amazed by how many fairies still reside in Britain…" Iseult had commented, her English heavily accented, "…very few remain on the continent." She frowned at how rare such a thing was in the current age, "It's a shame that nothing like that occurs anywhere else anymore."
"Not all Fae are like the ones we've come to associate with." Tristan stated, knowing full well how the Winter Court could be, having seen what they could do when given the wrong things in Morgan's domain, "But it is strange how many are leaving Europa's mainland." He always heard how various phantasmals would roam the continent freely without much fear from humanity, only with the recent times they've slowly reseeded from the countryside and gone back to the Reverse Side as Merlin had once mentioned.
A voice that could almost be described as heavenly interjected abruptly, "Many fairies and phantasmals see that mankind is growing faster with each year." The six humans turned to see the speaker, and she was undoubtedly beautiful, accompanied by another who walked beside her. "And so, they believe that perhaps there isn't a place for them in the world anymore." The Fae then proceeded to introduce herself as well as the one that followed her like a handmaiden, "Oh, forgive me for not introducing myself and my companion. My name is Aurora, leader of the Wind Clan, and this is Coral, my assistant. I'm sorry for eavesdropping, but I thought it best to give some insight."
Aurora was a majestic beauty, the likes of which many could be forgiven for thinking she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Tall with a voluptuous body and angle length blonde hair arranged into various strands and braids that ran down her front and back, she had an angelic face with expertly perfected features that needed no makeup to illuminate their beauty. Golden eyes that were the sun shining through dark honey and knife-shaped ears that were perfectly proportioned, her entire creamy body was seemingly backlit by her dully glowing butterfly wings that beat behind her slowly, each one as big as Galahad was tall. She wore a white fishtail evening gown that pooled at her feet with four sashes dangling from the rose bloom collar that exposed the valley of her cleavage.
Compared to her borderline goddess of a mistress, Coral fell short of that standard of utter perfection but was still inhumanly beautiful. She appeared to be in her late teens or early twenties with an attentive look worn on her faery features, wide-spaced pink eyes and clear lip gloss set off her waist-length coral pink hair and equally coral pink butterfly wings. She had a petite figure and wore a simple but pretty white summer dress with detached sleeves and black mary janes, a black ring around each middle finger, and an all-enclosing neck ornament that completed the look.
At first, Guinevere had been caught off guard by Aurora's beauty and blushed slightly before schooling her features and introduced herself and those with her, "F-Forgive me for not introducing myself sooner. I am Guienvere, Queen of Camelot. My companions are Sirs Lancelot, Bedivere, Gaheris, Gareth and Tristan, alongside his wife, Iseult. It's a pleasure to meet you, Lady Aurora, Miss Coral."
Coral waved her hands in an attempt to assuage the forced decorum, "Just Coral, if you please, your majesty. I may be Lady Aurora's assistant, but I am not of the aristocracy." It seemed that Coral did not value herself as much as she did Aurora, but perhaps that was simply part of the nature of some Fae.
Seeing that there was an open seat next to the queen, Aurora sat next to her where they all began making small talk, though Coral saw how several Fae were dancing to the music and a nice slow tune was coming up and looked to see that Bedivere was on his own from what she saw. Deciding to help make the night more enjoyable to everyone, even to a knight on his own, Coral approached him, "Sir Bedivere, would you care to have a dance with me?"
Holding her hand out for the Knight of Loyalty to take, Bedivere nodded as he didn't want to possibly insult the young Fae, "Of course, Coral, I would be more than happy to." Gently grasping her hand, Bedivere led Coral out to the dance floor, where despite the awkwardness of being one-armed, Coral instead took the lead as the two danced with the others in sync with the music.
Back with those whom they left, their conversation soon took a turn, "I had heard that the young King of Knights had taken a sire of Brunestud as a retainer, is that true?"
Iseult was unaware of Naruto's status as an apostle, much less who Brunestud was, and as such, Guinevere felt it best to move through this subject as quickly as possible without giving away too much, "Yes, although he isn't like others of his supposed kin."
Aurora pondered her words as she came to a surprisingly quick conclusion, "Oh, so he does not…?"
"Not at all, milady," Lancelot replied. The partaking of drinking blood was something his friend was quite disgusted with when he asked him years ago as to why he did not.
The Wind Clan leader smiled at that, "How intriguing. I felt a form of divinity from him as well, as potent if not more than Queen Titania." Having felt something akin to the weapons that the Fae had forged within Naruto himself, she made no effort to obfuscate the fact that she was attracted to it, "Hmm, I'm reaching that age where a husband wouldn't go amiss, perhaps I should ask him if he would be my consort." Aurora said with a lilting smile. One perfect existence with another.
Both secret lovers knew better and decided that it was best to nip this one in the bud now, rather than risk any potential discovery, "I think that perhaps someone else has beaten you to that, in a way, milady." Guinevere said.
Tristan examined his queen and wondered just what exactly she meant by that. He had never really seen Naruto grow that close to another woman, other than the king, of course.
Aurora's cheery demeanor became blanked, caught off-guard by the words. Or perhaps disappointed? A fraction of a second later, her smile returned, brighter than before, "I suppose we shall see." She giggled before excusing herself from their company and running her fingers through Guinevere's hair as she left.
Back at the bar, Mike the fairy bartender was currently making another refill of the fairy ale for Kay and Boggart, both of whom had gotten into a drinking contest to see who could hold their liquor best before one of them puked their guts up or passed out. As of the last tankard, Kay was in the lead by one round but showing signs of strong inebriation, his shoulders swaying and eyes drooped.
Palamedes kept score while Galahad had instead just quietly scooted over to be alone after being told by Boggart that he looked more like a girl than a boy.
"Alright you two, I'm cuttin' you off after these last drinks." Mike said, thumping tankards down before the knight and Fae, "Anymore, and you two will get alcohol poisoning. By the by, I'm surprised your livers ain't punched d'ere ways out ya guts in protest."
Before either could guzzle down the ale, Kay opened his mouth in slurred speech, "Now lishen here… you dwarf, midget… or… or whatever you are. Therz not a dwink… that I can't handle… in the whole fuckin' country…" Arturia's foster brother punctuated each slurred syllable by jutting the tankard at Mike, spilling its foamy head onto the oaken bar.
"And for you… infor… infor… whatever…" Boggart supplied, hiccups wracking his form, "…I can drink this… this uh… hairless man-thing… under the…"
Both of them abandoned the attempts at rebuking Mike in favor of sloppily toasting their tankards together and necking the nectar, large purposeful gulps belaying their intoxicated states. The pair of impromptu drinking buddies slammed their empty drinks back down, sending them rolling onto the floor with a clatter. They turned in unison to look at one another in pleased competition and began to chuckle at their pointless victory. That is until they both took a deep breath and let the oxygen hit their brains, slowly but surely toppling backwards off their stools and passing out on the ground. Mike and Palamedes just looked down to see the two now snoring away, "Well, I'm just glad that they didn't suffer heart attacks."
Palamedes looked askance at Mike, wondering just what the ingredients in the ale were to put both Kay and Boggart down was. Perhaps he could convince Mike to come to Camelot to slake the thirst of the populace? The Seventh Seat was about to ask the dwarf when the sound of loud rhythmic clapping rose from a distant table, joined by the unmistakable tenor of song ringing out in concert with the Fae surrounding it. Palamedes craned his neck to try and catch a glimpse of the cause of the commotion, becoming bewildered when he spotted the forms of Mordred, Ywain and a tiny Fae doing what could only be called tap dancing as they sang. "What on earth?" Palamedes wondered, drawing Mike's attention to the distant table.
"Ah, Puck's up to his usual tricks, I see," Mike mused, hopping up onto the bar to wipe away the spilt foam, "That's King Oberon's court jester, annoying little shite, but he's good at parties."
The fairy was a curious little thing to behold and likely of the same species as Habertrot, given that he could be no taller than three feet in height, save for the swirl inscribed horns that jutted from either temple and the literal jewels he had instead of eyes. His skin was a light blue with a receded hairline despite his apparent youth and a jester's hat perched lopsidedly on the back of his white-haired head. His grin was fanged but good-natured, a look that anyone who knew Naruto would know as the leer of a prankster. His upper body was wrapped in leafy vines forming into a basic shawl while he wore furred trousers tucked into tiny brown boots with curled toes.
" We're Knights of the Round Table! '' The loud singing of a trio troupe consisting of Mordred, Ywain and Puck jauntily continued, arms around one another's shoulders with Puck tap dancing atop Moredred's helmet.
The two knights were now partially tipsy, having taken a bit of a dip into the fae ale with them now singing some song that they clearly were coming up with on the spot as Mordred took the first line in the lead, " We dance whene'er we're able. We do routines and chorus scenes with footwork impeccable. We dine well here in Camelot. We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot. "
Ywain followed up as he kept the tune, kicking their heels in time with the clapping of their crowd, " We're Knights of the Round Table. Our shows are for-mid-able, but many times we're given rhymes that are quite un-sing-able. We're opera mad in Camelot. We sing from the diaphragm a lot. "
And lost but not least, Puck finished it up, " In war we're tough and able, quite indefatigable. Between our quests, we sequin vests and impersonate Clark Gable. It's a busy life in Camelot!" Puck lept up to perch atop the tip of Mordred's horns, voice dropping to a baritone warble, "I. have. To. Push. The. Pram. A. Lot! "
Even though they weren't really part of the musical group playing overall on the stage, many laughed, cheered and clapped the trio on as they raised their tankards to drink their fill.
Palamedes shook his head, sitting back at the barstool and wondering who this Clark Gable was? "Upon second thought, let's not go to Camelot, 'tis a silly place."
As the celebrations began to die down, with many guests now taking it easy for the night, Naruto sought out Oberon, who was happy to share a drink with him, giving him the perfect opportunity to fill in some blanks in his knowledge.
"So…" Naruto began as he took a swig from a goblet of mead, "…what's the issue with the clans I've heard of. I know about the Summer, Winter and Avalon courts, but clans are something new to me."
Oberon lent against a thorny looking cane, answering Naruto with clear words, "The Summer and Winter Courts of the Seelie and Unseelie are pretty basic to understand." He began explaining, "The former are mostly nice, save for the odd prank or two every now and then, and the latter are wicked little shits that enjoy burning people's homes down or eating humans, until the now late Morgan emerged they tended to keep to Erin." Oberon explained, using the antiquated name for Ireland.
"And then there's my court in Avalon where the founding Sub-Bells originated from and propagated the rest of fairy-kind in Britain, and thus they began spreading around the world." Bringing up parchment and quill, for whatever reason, he had those on hand Naruto couldn't fathom and then began to illustrate the clans on it. "Once when Avalon was but a single land for fae, we were few in number, many millennia before the White Titan brought down the Olympians and other ancient civilizations, we held one on the surface as well when the sea hadn't engulfed so much of these lands; Menel."
Heaven. That's what the translation was from Quenya.
Naruto's eyes widened at that. He had no idea that the Fae had created a civilization on the surface texture of the World, "What happened to it?"
Oberon's expression grew grim at that question as his eyes hardened and peered down, "I know that you may think that it was the White Titan who had done so, but this was several centuries before its descent from the stars. No, rather a great evil had arisen from a place in our lands. We fought it to the end." The Fae King's words had begun in their usual cheery cadence, however, as he continued to speak, they got quieter so as to not draw the attention of any eavesdroppers.
For Naruto, he was reminded of his talk with Vivian before they assaulted Morgan's domain, "The Beast?"
"SHH!" Oberon quickly placed a hand over Naruto's mouth as he shushed him before looking around them to see if any had overheard them. He frog-marched Naruto into an empty grotto lit by fireflies. Seeing how they were in the clear, Oberon quietly continued on, "…yes… we do not speak its name, nor try to remember our great war against it. Much of the land sank into the sea in those days, and we were forced to flee back to the Reverse Side to recuperate. But the actions we took and what it forced us to do were not without scars, a static karma of malignancy standing as a testament to what we did to keep hold of our lives. A corrupting darkness that continues to plague us all and the evil it creates from within."
Once again, this Beast as Vivian and Oberon called it, was mentioned with ties to an age long ago, "What the hell was so evil as to create a curse so potent?" Naruto asked, wanting to know more to piece together the puzzle that had been boggling his mind ever since he was first introduced to these things, "What about Gogmagog? Was it the Beast from that age?"
Oberon seemingly nodded before speaking once again, "We… abandoned our purpose and turned against our stewardship of the world, using humans as livestock to empower our war with the Beast, every act of self-indulgent excess fattened our power, but that karma could not be expunged, instead clinging to the land." He then waved off another question, "But no, Gogmagog was not the Beast. He was an ancient god of these lands, and when the curse took root in the land, he changed to reflect it. You see, Naruto, the Primeval Curse was something that affected God, Fae and Man. Depending on their heritage and place within the World, it would have affected them to such a grave degree, while others there was naught but a change of their power only. Morgan resisted it all due to her place as one of the Great Mothers and having the blood of Man and Fae running through her veins. Vortigern's soul became rotted and decrepit, painting over his ego with a directive of destruction, and once he devoured the blood of Albion, he became the King of Mors. Other, quite possibly lesser humans would be so corrupted by it, that they would give in to their deepest, darkest desires, twisting them from the inside out."
"And the Mors are?" Naruto inquired further.
"Mors are the Fae who have lost all-purpose and memory of who they were. Their name. Their place in the World. Everything. All they have become is a plague upon us Fae." The Fae King remembered the first time he had encountered a fae slowly turning into a Mors. The poor girl was once part of the Wing clan and had forgotten her name, a kind fae who enjoyed playing with children and had been discarded before she was succumbing to the curse of Mors, "They eat and destroy what is around them. The beauty of nature and the land are twisted and brought to death's door by their presence. Truly, a fate worse than death itself."
"Vortigern's power allowed him to corrupt many Fae into Mors…" Oberon continued, "…and thus we were forced to combat them however we could, to keep the darkness at bay, just as you and the young King of yours overthrew and slew him, ending the threat of future Mors hordes. The Winter Court are Fae who have not become Mors, but the darkness left over from the war had turned them towards their vile interests. By acting in ways which the curse directs means they do not risk succumbing to a loss of purpose, never becoming Mors."
Many things were starting to make sense to Naruto now, the dark and hidden truth of what was plaguing Britain was coming undone. Seeing how the conversation was taking a rather depressing turn, Naruto changed the subject back to the other thing he asked Oberon about, "You said that the clans were formed several millennia ago, right?"
Oberon's cheery demeanor returned once more, glow returning to his eyes and happy to answer, "That they did!" Getting back to the parchment he had pulled out before, Oberon listed them all –
"After our war against the Beast ended, we Fae had divided ourselves into six clans, all of which were led by the founders and those of the original bloodline of the Sub-Bells." Oberon began explaining, "The Wind Clan are a peaceful and rational clan with excellent forms that almost make them seem divine, and they are led by Lady Aurora, who is actually here now. They are Fae who took on the appearances of the elves that resided in Alfheim eons ago in Scandinavia, save for the butterfly wings."
Naruto peaked out from the grotto to see several Fae who certainly fit that bill, until Oberon pointed Aurora out to him. She was undeniably beautiful in her own way, yet Naruto felt that there was something else about her. As if aware that she was being observed, she turned to face him and gave a wave before blowing a kiss his way. Not wanting to be rude, he merely gave a polite wave in return before forgetting that second bit and returned to Oberon, "You were saying about the rest?"
"The Earth Clan are Fae who had taken on the appearances of dwarves from Svartalfheim. Another group from Scandinavia. They built many of the places we reside in and even the ancient kingdom we once had. They are led by Lord Spriggan, who isn't here and is rather quite a… what is that you call one such as he?" Oberon tapped a finger to his chin in brief thought before he snapped his fingers in realization, "A scumbag!" He quickly put a hand to his chin in thought once again, "Or at least, that's an accurate descriptor for him."
The blonde got the distinct impression that Oberon would rather have used a ruder term for him. Still, given this Spriggan's status as leader of one of the clans, it was likely an act of kingly decorum to use a less rude name, "Well, I'll be sure to be careful around this one if and when I meet him."
"Hopefully you won't," The fae king said; Blanca, fluttered in bringing him a cake roll snagged from a nearby table and began to munch on it every now and then as he continued on, "Words are his greatest tool to deceive and get what he wants in the end. Anyways, the Fang clan are a clan composed of animalistic Fae that have a humanoid shape, almost like were-creatures in a way, but can be far more civilized at times or just as violent. And…"
"Woodwose leads them." Naruto finished Oberon's explanation, remembering Vivian's explanation from earlier that evening.
"That they do, but they've also been the Fae's greatest warriors and soldiers against the darkness, though some have sided with that which is dark within us all, they would never admit to it." Abhorrence crept into his voice, seeing a once proud and noble clan fall from grace. Morgan's past with their leader Woodwose no doubt had an effect on that. Yet the lord of the clan was all but immune for the most part to many of the things they could try to accuse him of, but unless they were caught red-handed in the act, then they were untouchable.
Seeing how Naruto was still attentive, Oberon moved onto the next one down the list, "The Mirror clan are the most populous of us Fae, and resemble men far more closely than others, more so than rest. Many often have farseeing abilities, though not quite so refined as their leader, Lady Ainsel. Her visions reach the far future, one of which foretold your King's rise." Oberon elaborated, before crossing his arms with a pleased smile, "She also has a habit of telling my court jester of future events to make his pranks more amusing."
So, there were Fae who had clairvoyance that was commonplace, and their leader's matched Merlin's own? "Is there any chance I can get in contact with Ainsel?" If she had something that was important, something vital that could lead to the benefit of Camelot and anything concerning himself and those around him, then he could certainly use it.
Oberon quickly shot that avenue down, "I'm afraid that Lady Ainsel's in a deep sleep right now." The dejected look on Naruto's face made Oberon feel a little bad for such an abrupt refusal, "It is simply the way her visions work. One doesn't achieve such a level of foresight without something to take away from our daily lives." Ainsel's visions required her to go into a deep sleep and meditate upon the energies of the World, to see what currently was, and what could, and most likely would be. In Oberon's opinion, "It's truly both a blessing and vexing of a gift. To see the future to potentially change the course of beautiful stories, and yet possibly hold them to a predestined course that resulted in tragedy."
To Oberon, stories of individuals and groups of people had the right to determine their own course, rather than someone else saying what would happen, with the end result possibly occurring regardless of what they would do to stop it from occurring. Self-fulfilling prophecies were oftentimes the source of many tragedies, and despite having some stories crafted that were amazing, the fairy king couldn't help but find so many of them sad in the end.
'I suppose it was too much to hope for knowing the end of things.' Naruto said internally to himself.
'Don't bother worrying so much. What happens, happens and we'll figure out whatever may come.' Kurama said.
"And the final clan?" Naruto asked, getting things back on track.
"Ah, yes, the King Clan…" Oberon said as he rolled his eyes at the name of it, "…they are led by Mab and are the source of much of the friction between Men and Fae, even though she herself is part of the Summer Court."
Naruto arched an eyebrow at that, "Wait, how can she be…" Thinking about it, Naruto quickly put the thought down, "…never mind. Fae can really be fickle at times. Continue, please?"
Oberon nodded his head, knowing how strange their kind could be at times, "Mab was a rather ambitious fae queen, having forcibly taken a human boy as her lover, and she once tried to overtake the other clans and found a new court, but the human betrayed and sabotaged this plan, and this allowed a young, and very talented mage girl named Tonelico to convince her to stop."
Now that was interesting, "I've never heard of someone named Tonelico before now."
"I'm not surprised by that." Oberon said, "Tonelico was a young human girl who was friendly and kind to many Fae. Her talent for magecraft surpassed all others at the time, and her relationship with nature itself was astounding." The Fae King kicked back and looked to the colourful sky, reminiscing about another, happier time, "There were times where Tonelico would come out and walk among the forests of Britain, and commune with the World, or so I've heard. I've never met her before, but…" His expression seemed to become saddened by his following words, "…she vanished one day many years ago. I'm not sure what happened to her, but Vivian would not say as they were quite close. I doubt that the fair lady would say anything, even if her chosen had asked her what occurred."
"It sounds like Vivian was fond of Tonelico, keeping her silence is anything to go by."
"I imagine she was…" The Fae King's presence changed once more to playful mischievousness, "Though I have to admit, I'm rather jealous that your Titaness of a wife over there is quite lax with how you do things. I mean, even I get a good scolding and a smack on the head when I try to be my best self!" Naruto said nothing at that, despite knowing how no one was listening in on their conversation, "And yet, I can tell even from a distance, she loves you dearly." Oberon's voice had soothed up, knowing full well that he meant what he said.
Naruto merely gave a small smile in response, "…yeah, she really does…" So much so that she drove herself time and time again into matters of running the country to make things so precise, so perfect that she wouldn't have to be bothered with it anymore to be with him more so than they were now.
As the music began to settle into something more casual, Bedivere and Coral had finished their dance and bowed before one another in kindness, "Thank you, Coral. It was a lovely dance."
Coral smiled in response at the Knight of Loyalty's words, "The thanks are mine to give, Sir Bedivere, I had often wished to be a partner with a knight such as yourself in a dance like this." The young Fae said as she floated before him, "Seeing the world of Men was something I wanted to do, but my duties as Lady Aurora's assistant comes before much of what I wished for."
Bedivere knew that train of thought all too well, "I understand such things well enough. Day in and day out, I serve my King in the stead of one of her generals and assistant in certain matters." The knight and Fae continued to converse more with one another on their lives and wishes, though Bedivere saw out of the corner of his eye how Naruto seemed to become a little bit exasperated, but also uncomfortable with Oberon's animated questions, he felt it best that he should give his friend a hand. "Once again, Coral, I enjoyed the evening with you, though I do believe a friend of mine needs some assistance in getting away from the…" He tried to find the right words to describe Oberon, "…eccentrics of King Oberon."
Coral looked off to the side to where she saw Oberon pushing his index finger repeatedly through a hole made by his fingers, sighing at how the Fae King was, "I understand. King Oberon can have all the tact of a brick at times. Even if he is not aware of it." With their night together having come to an end for the moment, they bid farewell before parting ways with Coral returning to her mistress and Bedivere helping his friend get away from Oberon.
Whatever it was they were talking about, Naruto was struggling to get a word in edgeways as Oberon continued on, "…and dare I say, that this was the hand that caused the whole mess that resulted in Titania forgiving and wedding me."
"Mhmm…" Naruto merely nodded, having gotten a little bored with Oberon's story on how he basically decided to be a dick, before Titania gave him a nice slap to his senses. Discovering that the Queen of the Fae was, in fact, a remnant of the Titaness Rhea explained the Divinity he sensed from her at the very least.
Bedivere had quickly made his way to where the two were situated and was able to break the ice to help his friend out, "Excuse me, King Oberon." The fae king turned to see the knight before him, "The lady Coral has told me of your prowess as a storyteller, perhaps you could regale me with this tale of yours?" Bedivere peered over to Naruto along with a subtle nod, gesturing nonchalantly with his one arm behind him to where Arturia was.
Getting the message, Naruto saw his chance, "Well, this has been… a pretty informative night, Oberon. But I think I hear someone calling my name somewhere around here." Clapping Bedivere on the shoulder for rescuing him from an Oberon shaped bullet, Naruto quickly excused himself and made his way over to Arturia, who appeared as if she was looking for him, "My king," Naruto said, maintaining the decorum as King and retainer, Arturia faced him with a bright smile, "…were you looking for me?"
"I was actually." She held up the bottle of golden fae wine that Oberon had given her to Naruto, "…I was hoping that perhaps we..." Arturia briefly glanced to her sides with a pronounced blush before continuing, "…that we could have a drink in private somewhere?"
Ah, so that's what she wanted to do now. With the festivities dying down somewhat with some of the guests now enjoying Samhain's aura, Naruto decided to go through with it, "Wait here a moment." Making his way over to the bar where Kay, Mordred and Ywain had fallen into drunken unconsciousness atop of Boggart —he'd have to give his Little Mo a stern talking to about drinking too much when they got back home— and took two goblets with him. Off to the side, he noticed that Lancelot and Guinevere weren't around anymore, which he chalked up to the party being too much for the Queen, but he had more important matters to attend to. Though he didn't know it yet, Aurora had seen them all go their own ways and sipped a rich red wine with a beautiful smile and prying eyes.
-Naruto & Arturia-
"Oberon gave you faerie wine?"
"He said that he felt obligated for being his guest tonight."
After the two secret lovers had gained distance from the party, Naruto had set up a small bounded field over a moonlit lake to give them some privacy from prying eyes, even from potential familiars. After pouring a bit of the wine out, the lovers were about to imbibe their first drink when Naruto had asked Arturia where she got the wine from.
Taking a small sip before speaking again, Naruto hummed in appreciation of the quality of the wine. It was cool, crisp, sweet and fruity without any hint of dryness. Whatever enchantment had been placed on it, it was already doing its work, "This is pretty good."
Arturia took a sip of her own and had to agree, "Indeed. It's something worth keeping for later occasions."
Taking a few more sips, Naruto looked off to the sky to see that the moon was full of an orange gleam, perhaps a shine dimmer than the fireflies that floated about the freshwater grove they had seated themselves in. He looked at the light reflected in Arturia's eyes, and a beautiful thought occurred to him. The male blonde set his crystalline goblet down on a nearby rock so as to not spill it before addressing his beloved, "Arturia…" Grabbing her attention as he walked out onto the water, "…will you dance with me tonight?" He turned to face her with an outstretched hand to take.
Arturia saw the crimson eyes of her lover almost reflecting the light that illuminated around, for she saw majesty and love where most would have been filled with fear and ignorance at the sight of one such as he as he was now. "I would like nothing better." Setting aside her own goblet next to Naruto's, Arturia removed her King's cloak and dissipated her armor into a mist of mana before walking out to gently take Naruto's hand.
Despite their height difference, the two were content as they positioned themselves accordingly, with Naruto wrapping his left arm around Arturia's waist. Their right hands gently grasped as Arturia set her left hand on Naruto's opposing shoulder, "Shall I take the lead, Arturia?" he asked, both stepping out onto the water itself, which rippled subtly underfoot.
"I would like to this time if that's okay," Arturia said.
Nodding his head, the two drew closer and began to move their feet in unheard rhythm and sound, letting the beat of Arturia's heart guide them, and with closed eyes, they danced under the moonlight for their enjoyment. As they continued on with their steps, Naruto began to feel a tingle in his fingers. At first, he discarded the feeling as butterflies in his stomach or something he perhaps ate, but again… the wine… "Wait, Arturia, are you…?" His words were cut off when she put her forehead on his chest, "Are you… alright?" Things seemed to slow down somewhat, with his body beginning to feel… hot? The sound of his own heart began to thump loudly in his ears, refined senses sharpening to a monomolecular razor's edge. Yet, at the same time, it was as if someone had dropped a thick blanket over his waking mind.
Arturia looked up to him with rosy cheeks along with a dopey smile. A giggle escaped her throat as she opened her eyes to reveal that they were somewhat glazed over, "I'm just fine, Naruto~" Another laugh escaped her lips before, with no warning, she leapt up to plant a kiss on his lips. Naruto's eyes widened before he could taste the strong wine on her breath, "I just wanted to kiss you~ that's all~…"
Naruto was starting to slowly feel rather heated, with the wine now taking a more significant effect as time went by. He had now accurately guessed that Oberon made the wine easier to affect him… and… and… his lover was beautiful.
Soon, Naruto's proper sense of self was slipping further and further away as Arturia stopped their dance to lead him back onto land, "And, I… I wanted to do something… a… a little more~." Naruto felt himself being pulled by Arturia's hand passionately until they finally made it back to the land, she quickly spun him around and pushed him down to the ground with her following, "I… I… I want to show you, how much I love you~… my sky silver lover~…" She pointed her finger to Naruto before poking his cheeks one after another and smashed her lips into his own.
Naruto merely gave in and let Arturia's aggressiveness go through as he undid her hair bun gently, letting her golden hair down before they stopped for a breath. Saliva was left stringing between their lips as they gazed at their half-glazed eyes as if time stood still. The moment was broken as Arturia pushed Naruto's arms down before she assaulted his lips once more, with him not resisting.
If he was honest with the parts of his mind that still functioned properly… it was good to feel her passion in the open once again.
-Oberon & Titania-
"I swear, sometimes you're incorrigible, Oberon."
"All I did was give them a gentle nudge into more pleasurable directions, my dear."
After finishing his tale to the Knight of Loyalty, Titania had managed to corner him away from the other guests and all but demanded to know what it was that he had given the King of Knights. As it turns out, Oberon had given the wine an enchantment that meant for anyone to drink from it to become aroused and lose much of their faculties. And that was on top of how it stimulated the parts of their minds and bodies that made them filled with joy. This, of course, was not mentioning how it brought out certain aspects of those who drank the wine to further stimulate their arousal. In layman's terms, he'd roofied them.
Crossing her arms, Titania breathed in deeply before she sighed to rub her temples, "I suppose I can't fault you for wanting those two to enjoy one another's company." The fae queen directed her attention back to her husband, "But why would you do so? I doubt the Apostle is impotent in the bedroom, and a life of ruling must leave the King gagging for it."
Oberon tutted in a teasing manner, "That is true, and yet, you know full well that those two can never truly enjoy one another as they do, as one would think." Seeing how his wife was still unsure of what he meant, he explained a little further, "Truly, the circumstances surrounding their lives are not fortunate. One who is showered with praise and meant to be an ideal of all that is good and pure, yet the other is forced into the shadows to be seen by the masses as a monster. Both are forced to keep up with a charade that prevents them from truly loving one another." Titania held her tongue surprisingly as this was usually the time she'd retort, leaving Oberon open to continue, "Even when and if they have the time to themselves, I can't help but feel sad that moments such as that are few and far between. The image of a king and retainer must always take precedence before two who love each other dearly. This would no doubt make their moments quite troublesome at times. And as such, I took it upon myself to help them in that regard." Oberon said as his tone held no regrets and was full of happiness.
Well, for once, her husband had made a good, if idiotically executed, point, even if he was his usual self when doing so, "Very well then, I suppose I should go ensure that they won't be disturbed." Titania then proceeded to chastise Oberon next, "Though if they happen to be caught by someone, I will make it so that you regret it, this is not the first time I've nearly cut your cock off."
If her words hadn't gotten to her husband before, they certainly did now. Anyone unfortunate discovering their affair would undo all the progress they've made up until now, "Well, I'm certain that no one will intentionally seek them out, for the sake of my manhood at the very least."
Rolling her eyes at Oberon, Titania made her way throughout the area, looking for anyone who had last seen them and which direction until it was Aurora who pointed her the way. Thanking the leader of the Wind Clan for her wee bit of help, Titania made her way out to the secret lovers before she ran into a bounded field.
Curious. Perhaps something Naruto had thrown up? Then again, if the two decided to do something intimate, it was best if no one intruded on them, accidental or intentional.
"I suppose this is the best one can hope for." Turning away from the field, Titania placed a hand on the nearby tree to 'feel' the emotions of those that were in her domain, willing her authority into being; anyone that came this way would feel the sudden urge to return to the party. Before returning herself, she shook her head at her mind playing tricks on her, as beyond the field, she could undoubtedly feel love, happiness, joy, excitement. That is until she felt the same emotions from somewhere else.
Three and a half hours later, the two lovers had collapsed back down to the ground as the moonlight illuminated their bodies by the sheen of sweat that covered them. After their dance was finished, with Arturia displaying her newfound aggression, despite it being brought on by an enchanted wine, they were still able to retain a partial grasp on their faculties to speak, "That was… I didn't know… that you could get that way… Arturia~" Naruto said in steady, haggard breaths, now having his own words become as loopy as Arturia's own.
Whom now laid her head down next to his own, cupping his chin before bringing him close for another kiss that lasted for a minute before they parted lips, "Neither did I~."
Laying back on her cloak, Naruto gently pulled over his own robes to give them some decency, all the while wishing these happy days would continue. For now, at least, Samhain was one hell of a festival.
-Spring 480 AD-
Months had passed since the celebration, with Mordred all too ecstatic for what the King was going to announce, "I wonder if mom knows what's about to happen?" Naruto had given her a bit of a talk concerning alcohol, among other things, with labels and all with how to address him in both the public eye and privately when they were able to spend time with each other. And as much as she cared for Naruto and his lessons, he would forever be her mother, calling him papa at this stage felt just wrong.
Over the last few months, she had grown closer to Ywain and Galahad, having developed a subtle rivalry of sorts with the boys. It was nothing as petty as to try and stay above them at every turn when they trained their minds and bodies, rather merely friendly competition to help one another.
Speaking of her skills, she found herself able to use Clarent almost flawlessly. Whenever she channeled her mana through the blade, lightning would spark momentarily, connecting with her on a level that she had never had with a weapon before. Maybe she should ask her mother about the details? 'Nah, screw that, I don't want to be spoon-fed power, I gotta achieve this on my own!'
As Mordred made her way to the Tower where her mother worked, she was surprised to catch Merlin exiting the doorway with haste and Fou on his shoulder, who didn't seem entertained. As Merlin turned towards her way to leave, Mordred could see the forlorn look upon his visage, almost as if he found something that he was too terrified of to speak, "What's up with you, Pervy Mage?"
She had adopted mom's nickname of Merlin, though it seemed that he didn't make his usual bombastic reaction to that name, instead maintaining his unsettled demeanor, "I… I have received a vision that I must act on."
Merlin's hesitance at the beginning to knock her off-kilter, she shook her head and waved off his concern as if it were about something as banal as the weather, "Well, I guess we'll see you in a couple of months then, eh?" Clapping a hand on Merlin's free shoulder, Mordred continued on knowing full well about his walkabouts and what he did on them from her mother, "I'll make sure to ask some of the local brothels to keep an eye and send a message to pick you up when you head back this way."
Mordred expected Merlin to chuckle in humor or make some wisecrack, yet that did not happen. Peculiarly, the Flower Magus shook his head in melancholy, "To be honest… I'm not sure if I will ever return from this new journey of mine." Merlin peered through Mordred's helm and into her eyes, seeing those same eyes that he saw in the little girl that would be King many years ago, "For what it's worth, tell Naruto… I'm sorry…" Mordred would've asked just what it was that Merlin meant by that, that if he did not dissipate into flowers that flew through the nearby open window.
Unsure of what she just saw, Mordred felt a chill run down her spine before shaking her head, "It's probably nothing, yeah." Just another one of Pervy Mage's eccentrics taken a little too far. She'd pass the word onto her mother and the King, of course, even still, Mordred couldn't help but worry for whatever it was that had worried the ever-unflappable Merlin.
Overlooking the capital city, Merlin stood on the edge of the cliff, lamenting how beautiful this story had turned out. "Perhaps… things were always meant to meet such an end…" When he first told Arturia what would lie at the end of her life when she pulled Caliburn, it seemed as if that vision would become distorted with the arrival of that blonde Apostle. A glimpse of hope laid before him, and he sought to take it to ensure such a tragedy would be stopped. Yet, the World designed it otherwise, "I hope it will be a far more peaceful end than parent and child standing atop that blood-soaked hill of death and despair. Perhaps you will change their fates in the end, Naruto." Those would be the last words he would speak of Camelot before leaving the gleaming silver city for the last time.
Back at the palace, Mordred had missed Naruto when one of the guardsmen informed her that the King had given the order for the rest of the Round Table to assemble in the palace's central courtyard, meant for major announcements to the palace staff as a whole. Falling into step between Ywain and Gareth, Mordred spotted Naruto back in his hooded robe speaking with Arturia in his capacity as a court mage in hushed tones. All around the courtyard and surrounding balconies, dozens of other figures stood watching over the events in interest with a hubbub of quiet conversation, wondering what had called for such a meeting. Whatever it was, the entirety of the court had been summoned, even those who were strong candidates for election to the Round Table should injury or age sink its fangs into the current retinue.
None of them were terrible knights, but they lacked any real potential to reach the current generation's level. That did not mean they lacked the heart of true knights and squires, veterans of Arturia's service would recognize the presence of Pelleas, who several years before the King liberated from the occupation of Vortigern, in his eyes shining the ambition to repay the indelible debt that the forces of Camelot had engraved into his heart. Mordred had interacted with him once or twice, and why she could appreciate his will to throw himself into training, the disparity in power between their current Round and the new recruits was heaven and earth.
Curiosity getting the better of her, Mordred focused on her hearing to cut through the distant chatter and overhear the last bit of a conversation between Naruto and the King, "…are you sure about this, my king?"
The King nodded in affirmation of whatever it was he had inquired, "Yes, with this power, we can protect and preserve the Britain that we've built."
"What was it that you gathered us all here for, my king?" Gawain asked the monarch, "Your summons was rather unexpected, to say the least."
Silence fell over the courtyard as all the assembled knights stood to attention, Arturia decided that it was best to begin her explanation, "Months ago, my court mage informed me of a disquieting truth. Britain's Magic and Mystery is in decline." She spoke at the top of her voice so that all could hear her voice. The knights and soldiers had various reactions, all begging to quietly murmur amongst themselves about this revelation. While the King was a paragon of the arcane, the majority of them were disconnected from the goings-on of the moonlit world, magecraft was the business of Magi with the mundane populace content with their own development, "Both are tied deeply to our land and to our future. If they continue to degrade at this rate, then our land will begin to suffer from the lack of the World's lifeblood within it. Our country and its people will become lesser for it; the people's own joy will be lost, and the beauty that we have built and preserved will fall." Her words seemed to reach everyone, now realizing just what it meant to lose Mystery. "But there is one thing, one sacred and holy item that will enable us to avert this ignominious end. The power within the Holy Grail, the Cup of Christ himself, will be used for the sake of Britain. It will ensure that we, Camelot, Britain and its people will endure and prosper for generations to come. But the Grail rests in a land far from here, a shrine at the World's end; thus, I must ask if there are any who would volunteer to take this quest?"
After a minute, several of the knights and paladins stepped forward and vocalized their desire to go on this quest, some of the veteran knights faces glowed with loyal diligence but remained silent, knowing well enough how their King was when it came to picking their brethren.
"I will go on this quest, my king!"
"No, choose me!"
"I will venture to the Holy Land for the Cup of Christ!"
Seeing that the excitement and apprehension was whipping the crowd into a frenzy, Arturia raised her hand to halt before anyone became more aggressive with their desire to go on this quest, "Enough!" The clearing became silent once more before she continued, "I know many of you wish to undertake this quest, but this is not for the faint of heart. You who step out into the wilderness would become my sword, and as we have always done, it is the sword that shall judge you my subjects, to see who is worthy."
Making her way past the assembled Knights of the Round Table, Arturia stepped to the side where a black steel longsword rested, its tip plunged into a slab of marble alchemically fused to the floor of the courtyard...
Gently gliding her fingers along the hilt, Arturia became lost in memory briefly before she returned to the present moment. "Merlin enchanted this sword, the Sword of Elaine, to determine who shall lead two more knights on an expedition into the Holy Land, to find and recover the Holy Grail." The sword, while not as extravagant as Caliburn's gold and blue grace, nor powerful like the Divine constructs forged by the Fae or even enchanted by Naruto or Merlin to be far more proficient in combat, it held an air of purity to it, "Only one who is pure and untarnished in their resolve and belief may be able to pull this sword. Whomsoever draws it, shall lead the quest for the Holy Grail. Only they may be able to obtain the Cup of Christ and return it safely to Britain."
Her declaration seemed to further halt any sort of vocal demand to be picked for the quest. It was as if the golden glow of the King of Knights stood before them as a Holy Dragon, ready to smite them for being unable to draw out the pure blade; Tristan eyed Arturia, wondering just how much she was willing to go for the ideal leader of such a thing. Surely any of them could recover the Grail and return home safely with it?
Naruto flexed his fingers in restrained annoyance, for while he had initially volunteered to retrieve it when Arturia had suggested the quest to him in private, Arturia had forbidden him before the assembly gathered. She hid it well, but deep down, she was afraid of losing him to the hands of some overzealous marauder beyond the borders of Britain, so long as he remained within the same land as her, then she could protect him.
Gawain would have volunteered, yet he knew that deep down, his pursuit of the perfect knighthood was incomplete and thus was not worthy enough to draw the sword.
Lancelot wouldn't touch it either, knowing well enough that despite his loyalty, he had given into vice, though none knew of that.
Bedivere looked out to see that no one had stepped forward, out of doubt, lack of confidence or something else, he looked to his former squire, Galahad. If there was anyone as pure as the King asked, then it was him. Taking a few steps to position himself behind the young knight, Bedivere spoke up in support of his candidacy, "My king, I believe that Sir Galahad is worthy of drawing the sword." All eyes soon turned to the white-haired knight as his own gold eyes widened in surprise, looking back to his former teacher in confusion, "Have faith in yourself." He comforted the young man.
"Do you accept this, Sir Galahad?"
Galahad turned to Arturia's question noting how at ease she seemed, telling him with no words that there was no shame in rejecting such a task. There were times where Galahad held doubt, feeling unworthy of his position and accomplishments, much less proud for having helped remove his mentor's arm, even if he held no true part in it. A lump formed in his throat before swallowing it and made his way over to the sword, "I accept, my king." Slowly reaching to grasp the sword's hilt, Galahad could feel that the sword had been jammed deeply into the rock, no give in the marble's grip on the blade. And yet, this sword had been enchanted to determine if he was worthy. Naruto's words sparked once more in his mind; if he was believed to be worthy, then it was because he had earned it. Closing his eyes as a bead of sweat dripped down his forehead, Galahad quickly pulled on the hilt and found that it slid out with such ease as if drawn from a sheath.
Opening his eyes, Galahad was surprised by the result before a roar of applause came up, "Sir Galahad, you have proven your worth as the one to lead this quest." Arturia proclaimed with a gentle aura about her, "You may choose who may join you on this quest; two of your fellow knights from the Round Table as well as whoever you design worthy to aid you."
Thinking it over, Galahad knew well enough that the Holy Land was far from Britain, having gone to the southwest beyond Greece, beyond the ruins of the once-mighty Persian Empire, to where the Pharoah's of old would have gone to take slaves from those of the Hebrew faith. Where Moses led his people to freedom. Where David defeated Goliath. Where the Son of God himself was born from the Virgin Mary. This would no doubt be the longest, most audacious quest of his life, and he needed those who would have his back with great experience, those who would enjoy such a quest and keep the morale up. Thinking over the ones who could fulfil these roles, Galahad had come to his conclusion. Turning to the Round Table crowd, Galahad asked the question, "Sir's Percival, Guardian Knight of the Spear, and Sir Bors, Veteran of a Hundred Battles, will you two come with me to recover the Holy Grail?"
The taller white-haired knight nodded without a second thought, looking to his bald senior for if he were willing to go through with this, despite his age. Both men smiled before stepping forward to Galahad, "We accept your choice, Sir Galahad." Percival answered for the both of them, "There are some people that I know who would accompany us without hesitation."
"As would I…" Bors said, "…I know a man who had travelled deep into the Holy Land, and he would aid us in this quest."
Nodding in affirmation, the three Round Table knights turned to Arturia for her blessing, so to speak, "Sirs Galahad, Percival and Bors. May your company travel with hopes and prayers of Britain." An eruption of applause echoed throughout the clearing as the court cheered on the chosen knights as they quickly departed to make their preparations to traverse Europa into the Holy Land.
-Days Later; the Battlements-
Days had passed since the quest for the Grail had been announced, with Arturia and Naruto standing off away from any prying eyes and ears atop Camelot's battlements, wanting a private moment for themselves together, "Why didn't you let me go with them, or even on my own for the Grail, Arturia?" Naruto said as he looked to Arturia for an answer. Traversing the Holy Land and the current Europa that was in a state of being assaulted by Tiberius' reclamation movement would be something he could do far more quickly than a company of esteemed knights. And yet Arturia forbade him from doing so.
Staring out to the plains that lay before them, Arturia knew that her beloved could do it, and that any threat that fell before him would be disposed of quickly. However, there was always a 'what if' that dwelled in her head, a potential hazard that could overcome his apostle status. She knew well enough that there were some vampires who Naruto had hated, and they in turn. This was not even considering the Holy Church if any of their people came across him in the Holy Land. They would undoubtedly try to put him in a coffin regardless of his nature and allegiance to her, "Because your place is at my side…" Deciding to try and not insult his skill and battle prowess, Arturia chose her words carefully to show that she still cared and valued him, "…and with the Grail in hand, we will stand for the world to see." It wasn't straightforward, instead left to being ambiguous was something she hoped would placate him.
It seemed to assuage some doubt, but not as much as she would have liked. Naruto stared out to the plains just as she did without saying a word. Although she could see that the answer did not fully satisfy him.
'One day… we can leave this place to others and live our lives together… and the Grail will make it possible.'
This was the only thought that was on her mind. To perfect Camelot, to ensure they could live in peace and have the family she so desired with him.
Back at the palace, Tristan was overlooking the main gates from a nearby balcony where Percival and Bors had gathered the people they spoke of with horses and wagons all set to head out, with only Galahad the last to leave the grounds yet. To the red-haired knight, he continued to ponder about his King. She was righteous and just, she fought for peace and security, protecting the people as her first and foremost objective, wanting to create a utopia that would last generations. There was nothing wrong with her ideal at all, and he did believe in them still. However, Tristan wondered if she could see how her desire for perfection was taking its toll on those around her, her very heart and mind. Of course, he could see at times Arturia did have joy, but they were few and far between, with her public happiness a mask to hide her desperation to chase her ideal.
Now Tristan wondered how she would— "Sir Tristan, are you alright?"
His thoughts were interrupted when Bedivere approached him, "I am alright, Sir Bedivere, my thoughts are on the king's choices of late, that's all."
Clapping his friend on the back, Bedivere tried to ease up whatever it was that held Tristan up in tension, "Don't worry, they'll return. And with it, Britain's preserved prosperity." Bedivere never doubted his King in how she always strived towards peace and justice.
Tristan hummed in response, "I have no doubt about their chances of success, Bedivere." Not turning towards his friend's confused expression, Tristan continued on, "Rather instead, it is how our king will react to their return that concerns me."
"You believe she would dismiss it?"
"Not at all, rather… it is something else that concerns me about her." He had wondered for some time now if he could still serve Arturia. If she continued down this path to pushing others away, or cradling them like infants, or even dismissing their thoughts and hearts, Tristan was not sure if he could continue serving the King, for depending on her words and reaction to the recovery of the Grail, would spell if he would remain as a member of the Round Table if she did not correct her current ways. "Is it truly the dawn of a spring, for Autumn's ebb still sings in my ear…"
For the young knight leading his first quest, Galahad felt unease yet was paradoxically ecstatic. In just a short time, he had risen from the position of a mere squire to becoming a member of the King's inner circle and privy to the dealings of the court, coupled with the eventual leading of soldiers under his command. Looking down at the Sword of Elaine and Lord Camelot that rested against the wall, Galahad felt a sense of pride within him surge before calming down, "I hope I can fulfil everyone's desire for this."
Turning back to packing his things up for the long journey ahead of him, he heard a knock on the door, thinking it was perhaps Naruto coming to ask him how he was doing, "You may enter." Expecting to face one of his mentors, he was surprised to see that it was his father instead, "Sir Lancelot…." Despite being his father, he never addressed him as such, merely forgoing it for his name instead. The rift that was between them was difficult to resolve.
"Galahad..." Lancelot spoke to try and severe the awkward air, "…I know that we have never been close but. I wanted to come in person to see you off." Guinevere had spoken how he needed to take the first step with Galahad, to try and repair their brokenness as father and son. Perhaps now would be the best time to take that first step to hopefully make it so.
Galahad snorted flippantly, "Now you choose to see me off personally?" Of all the times. "I have been here for quite some time now, and now you try to know me? I was able to accept and go beyond that you were a womanizer before finally straightening your life up under the King, and I know you had no knowledge of me until I arrived. So why now?" To him, Lancelot wasn't quite as great a man as everyone seemed to think so. Yes, he was noble, he was a kind man who went above and beyond for his friends, yet when it came to trying to be a father, he fell short of all expectations.
Lancelot couldn't fault his son for talking to him this way. Some would perhaps call him spineless, but they were not fathers with pasts such as his, "I know that we haven't had the best relationship, and I have never been a true father to you." He looked down in brief shame before gazing at his son, "But I have always felt proud of you and your accomplishments." Galahad's expression had slightly changed from dismissal to subtle surprise from his words, "When you became a member of our Round Table, I was so proud of you. And the day when you drew the sword to lead the quest for the Grail… it was the proudest day of my life to see my son go beyond what I could have done." He bent low in respect and apology, dropping to one knee as a knight would their superior, "Surpass me, Galahad. Let them sing songs of you in the far-flung future; let the name Galahad ring in the annals of history long after I have turned to dust."
Speaking his piece, Lancelot could see that his son was further surprised by his words, no doubt not believing it at first until he thought of his words and the conviction they held. Perhaps in some way, he had reached him? Galahad turned around to gather his weapons and spoke just before the son of Du Lac turned around to leave, "A knight must always be loyal to his King. He must serve the people and find the just in his cause. A knight must show the World that they are righteous." He slowly made his way past Lancelot to the doorway only to stop once more, "I will show the world that the just laws and ways of Camelot are something the world should follow in our stead, rather than allow its splendor to dim, I will make it shine in the eyes of those beyond our borders." Turning back to face his father, Galahad continued on with resolve in his voice, "Regardless as to whether or not I succeed, I will take these virtues and ideals to the ends of the Earth and back for all to see." And with that, Galahad left to join his company, leaving a father proud of his son, and with the hope by his response that perhaps they could reconnect as proper parent and child.
Upon meeting with his company, he could see that Percival and Bors had gathered several soldiers with them alongside some people whom he knew personally through them. Among those present was Claudin, the son of Claudus, who had come to Britain many months ago to escape his father and who had the hope of redeeming his family name. Dindrane, Percival's younger sister who wouldn't allow her brother to go, at least not without her, to make sure he was in good health, knowing how he would forgo his own safety for the safety of others like the older brother he was. And finally, Furniture and Lionel were also there, Pellinore and Bors sons respectively, who were eager to prove their worth as potential candidates for the Round Table.
As they fixed their wagons, mounted their steeds to leave the city gates, the caravan was given a great cheer by the people as they passed by, giving waves and smiles while receiving blessings and hopes for their success; Arturia looked on from the apex of the gates, stoic and perfect as she believed it so to maintain the perfect ideal. Naruto watched on from afar from the balcony in his tower, knowing that they would succeed if but with likely some injury of sorts, and yet when he saw Arturia, his heart ached at the sight of the love of his life continuing with this tiresome image.
"Maybe when they bring it back, she'll go back to how she was before when we started seeing each other." Speaking quietly aloud to no one but himself.
-Scotland, the Ruins of Castle Dún Scáith-
Far to the north on the Isle of Skye, a cold mistral wafted up from the slate grey sea over the ruined towers of Dún Scáith the once-great Castle of the warrior woman Scáthach had grown into disrepair, with the fortress growing decrepit since the disappearance of its former mistress nearly half a millennia ago. Deep beneath the cracked rock and dusty masonry in a hall long since abandoned, a new woman called the place home. Down in the deeper levels of the castle, several Unseelie Fae were gathered in a large hall to listen to her words. Lit by dark green willow wisps that floated in the air around them in a masterful showing of simple magecraft, the blue-skinned and sharp-toothed fair folk kept their beady black eyes locked on the end of the hall.
Sat resplendent in a throne was a young woman with long wavy plumb red-colored hair that faded to a gradient of grey towards its ends, a pale shade that mirrored her pale skin and eyes. She had pointed ears that poked out from the fringe of hair and cute facial features that were sweet to the point of being sickening, playing well with her moderate bust and trim waist. She wore an elaborate plumb red dress with white detailing running down its front and a black bow tied around her neck, detached sleeves that left her shoulders bare and ended in segmented cuffs that her red painted fingertips poked through the drum on the throne's arm wrists; the dress's bustle was undercut by a fluttering linen petticoat that exposed her thighs. The young woman was a hair over five foot six in height, but that was radically altered by her choice in footwear, thigh-high plumb red and boots with five-inch heels and platformed instep, dozens of laces lining their front from ankle to thigh. Perched atop her head was a pointed obsidian tiara made up of three spiked pillars interspersed with black diamonds.
Her name: Baobhan Sith. Adopted daughter of Morgan le Fey.
"I know a lot of you are here for your own reasons, personal or something else," Her sweet voice echoed off the tall rafters filled with barely restrained emotion, seething for vengeance long overdue, "…but regardless, we all had someone in common. My mother, Morgan."
Sith templed her fingers in thoughts of her impotence at preventing the death of her mother. On the night of Arturia's assault, she wasn't at her mother's domain due to being asked to stay in the Reverse Side to oversee the expansion of Morgan's land on that side of the dimensional barrier. It was such a confusing thing, really; taken in by the Dark Great Mother of the Fae, named her daughter after being saved from the edge of death and told that she could not come with her to the Human World? Whatever the reasons her mother had, she had arrived too late to do anything to prevent her death. Only to see the city vanish back to the Reverse Side after traversing Europa to find a new place to set a second domain up. Her mother's Black Captains, who were present among those in the hall, were given their orders to retreat to the Reverse Side, where they informed her of what was occurring.
"She fought for us, killed for us, and was prepared to take the Isles of Britain back for us Fae, and dethrone the humans who would take away our birthplace." She looked out to see that some of those that Morgan associated closely with were present in the front.
Of those assembled, two stood out as lacking any human features beyond simple walking upright, and both were striking in their own way. The first was a lycanthrope standing near nine feet in height with a severe canine face set into a perpetually snarling grimace, the fur of his muzzle and face was a greyish black while his eyes and a long wild mane of hair was snow white. He wore a dark grey tailcoat with gold detailing on the epaulettes and lapels over a matching waistcoat and pants, and as with most of the more bestial Fae, he chose not to wear any shoes in favor of leaving his clawed feet on display. A long bushy white tail swayed behind him menacingly, and each of his hands were long-fingered and ended in black talons that seemed vicious enough to rend steel with the lightest of scratches.
Lord Woodwose, one of Morgan's closest allies since her days of yore. He rose to the rank of leader of the Fang Clan in an effort to help her, but by the time he had done so, Morgan had been killed. When word had reached him, Woodwose slaughtered the messenger out of anger and hate at those who had done so to take one of the few beings that he considered a friend. But he was not the only one who had heeded her call to assemble on this cold spring evening beneath Dún Scáith.
Lent up against one of the many pillars was a man standing just under six feet with an average build, the first noticeable thing about him was his elongated elven ears that marked him as a member of the fairy folk. The man had a long face with narrow blue eyes and long blonde hair gathered in a top knot at the back of his head before draping down past his shoulders in a blonde wave, two pronounced wrinkles underscored his eyes, giving the man a middle-aged look but his thin-lipped wide mouth was set in a smug smirk. He wore a simple brown robe draped to just above his knees with red and gold gilded cuffs over a light brown sleeveless quilted doublet with a collar that matched his cuffs. In addition, he wore slightly baggy black trousers tucked into soft black boots, and the Fae wore a pair of white linen gloves. For accessories, the man wore a red scarf around his neck and anchored to his ensemble by a small silver pauldron on his left shoulder, and a guardless shortsword was strapped to the back of his waistline.
Lord Spriggan had come.
He and Morgan, while not the closest, were associates, with Spriggan being one of those who would feed her information from both the Fae and the Humans. It was only due to Morgan that he was able to take the position as head of the Earth Clan.
The other of the two monstrous beings was a humanoid of similar height to Woodwose, though this one was in many ways more horrifying than the upstanding wolfman. Eyes were immediately drawn to his head, a cross between a man's lower jaw and a stag's head with flaring nostrils and large bloody red eyes. Large deer's antlers poked out from either side of his head, covered in bloody felt that had been scraped off like a beast in rutting season, the tips sharpened into wicked points. His muscular body rippled with inhuman muscle, arms possessing additional joints where a human would have none to compensate for their size and hands that were stained in blood. He forewent any clothing on his upper body save for a tattered black cloak that covered him from shoulder to knee, leaving his chest visible, covered as it was in swirling Celtic tattoos. Each forearm was tightly banded in rune encrusted bronze vambraces while his legs were covered in a thick pelt of some long-dead phantasmal. Strapped to his back was an oversized quiver containing several oily black spears, their heads specially barbed to make them a nightmare to pull out as well as black chains attached to his belt where an old horn sat dinged and stained with the blood of countless hunts.
Gwyn ap Nudd, Tuathen demigod, the descendant of Cerrnunos and the former leader of the Wild Hunt before the King of Knights overtook his position with the power of Rhongomyniad to strike down the King of Mors. Morgan had given him aid whenever he had inquired about her for it, and she asked for nothing in return but to maintain his position to ensure that humanity could not overtake the Fae.
"We all know that it was the so-called King of Knights…." Sith spoke the title with sarcasm, "…had killed Morgan. Her own sister, flesh and blood. Someone that she shouldn't have raised a hand to and cleaved her head from her shoulders!" She slammed a clenched fist down onto the throne, leaving cracks on the seat and displaying strength that her lithe form would not suggest. "Arturia Pendragon was one of the Avalon le Fae! A being meant to save us and save Britain! Only to instead turn against us and her own sister, another who bore the title!" Woodwose let a dangerously low growl at that, "So what should we do? Well, I don't know about you all, but I'm in the mood for some revenge against those responsible for my mother's death." She gestured out to everyone present, "I may not be my mother, but I want you to know that we will kill the ones who killed Morgan le Fey. They'll all suffer for what they did to her, to us, and to the Fae they supposedly stand for." The Unseelie all cheered in dark agreement, as Gwyn nodded slowly for the upcoming storm that they would unleash. "We are the stewards of this planet, not them, let us remind them why they should be afraid of what goes bump in the night."
Woodwose stepped up before Sith to ask her a question, "Baobhan Sith, you are your mother's daughter, yet if we vow to give Morgan justice, then shouldn't we have rules to ensure that we…." Gesturing around him to everyone present, "…are not considered to be the animals in the end. Justice should be equal and just, not unmeasured and overzealous, no?"
Sith nodded at the lycanthrope fae's words, "Yes, hear me and obey." Holding her hand up, Sith then began to raise each finger up for each rule she presented, "Firstly, no children will be harmed. We all know it's because of them that we can continue to grow and exist here. Children who don't pass on to whatever afterlife they believe in becoming one of us, Seelie or Unseelie."
"Secondly, there will be no collateral damage." Some of the Unseelie hissed at Sith's restraint, but they were silenced quickly by Woodwose's roar of order sending the shivering with, "If that upsets you then grow a thicker skin, but our targets are the ones responsible for mother's death, this Arturia and her inner circle were the ones who did the deed. So they, and those close to them will pay for it in death and despair. Only them, no more, no less." One of the Unseelie Fae was about to protest, that is until they felt the tip of Gwyn's spears pointed at his throat to silence him with a deadly glare.
"Thirdly, have some restraint, we can't have a bloodbath on our hands, else we are no different from the butchers we hunt." On that they seemed to agree. Spriggan did see that despite some of the earlier protests, the Unseelie didn't disagree with this proclamation.
Raising her pinky, Sith set her final rule, "And lastly, if you do have to kill someone, make sure to clean up after yourself. Even if you have to torture them and all that bloody business before killing them, make sure they're compensated, we are part of this World, a just force meeting out justice. Let them fear our wrath but love our compassion. After all, we do still need humans to feed off their presence in the land. The same goes for their children, like I said before." Another thing that perplexed some of those gathered was just how less cruel Sith seemed compared to the image that Morgan had created among those in the isles.
The Black Captains glanced at one another with one thought in mind: She was too weak in their eyes. Yet because the Dark Mistress had made the vampiric Fae her daughter, they were obliged to follow her. Her prowess with magecraft could not be denied. Why Morgan kept Sith away from the darkness despite having used the Black Arts to bring her back from the brink of death was beyond them.
Nevertheless, they agreed with Sith in wanting to make it so that their leader, the Dark Great Mother would have justice. Vengeance against the bastard child.
"Before we enact anything…." Gwyn grunted over the rabble, "…we must remove the Dead Apostle from the false King's side. With him at her beck and call, it will be difficult regardless of what we do." Many of the Unseelie hissed at the mention of Naruto, with several calling him a traitor. A being brought into the night, the darkness, should have served Morgan, not the light she was opposed to. "Remove him from the field, and we will have our vengeance. Camelot's inner circle would fall like a house of cards in a stiff breeze."
"And we'll get our pound of flesh from each, and every one of those small fry knights before all is said and done." Sith proclaimed, "Arturia Pendragon will pay for turning her back on us all, on mother. And anyone else she holds dear will suffer for it, like we've suffered!"
The hall erupted into dark cheer once more, with Spriggan pulling something out of his sleeve: a small bottle with a butterfly familiar within it. "I believe I have something that will help us start things up." Holding the bottle high for everyone to see.
"What is it?" Woodwose inquired, unsure as to what it was.
Tossing the bottle up to Sith, Spriggan gave an ambiguous shrug, "It was something I had traded for from someone at the Court of Avalon. They witnessed something that would bring chaos to the perfect order that they seem so fervent in protecting." Gesturing for Baobhan to open the bottle, she held her hand out for the butterfly to land onto her palm before it released a cloud of fine dust that held what it had witnessed. Everyone present had gasped at what they saw, that is until Sith gave a dark smile, "As it turns out, a certain knight was rather unchivalrous with his queen." Spriggan chuckled at the sight, "What a disastrous affair this will make of things."
As the dark cabal began to make their preparations for their revenge, back in the Reverse Side, two fae women were confined to a large prison-like chamber in Morgan's domain that retreated back to the Reverse Side.
The first woman had fit the criteria for what many would call an amazon, six foot three with a voluptuous body that was interwoven with thick and powerful muscle. She had cyan colored eyes with flecks of orange and long thick pale blonde hair that tumbled chaotically down her front and back. Inset into the top of her head as if fused to her very skull was a strange headband with four antennae-like spikes, the same mix of cyan and orange as her eyes. She was garbed in tattered grey and brown rags that just hid her modesty and did nothing to obscure her thick muscled thighs, toned abdomen and prodigious bust, her feet were caked in mud and filth leading up to wide black iron shackles with trailing chains.
She looked across the room over to a large table where she saw the only other occupant in the room that had yet to awaken, "Can you hear me?" The Fae asked the smaller one, hoping that her voice echoing would help stir them awake. It seemed to have an effect as she mumbled briefly in an attempt to wake up, only to turn on her side to face the chained Fae.
In sharp juxtaposition to the towering amazon of a woman, the girl was a young woman who looked to be in her mid-teens easily under five feet in height, her petite body wholly obscured by a floor-length tattered black cloak. She had straight pearlescent white hair with twin ellipsoid bangs framing either side of her adolescent face that was stoic save for her expressive golden-brown eyes and twin short black horns that poked from between the white tresses of silk.
Getting up from the stone table, the petite Fae tried to sit up and walk, only for her feet to give way and collapsing back to the ground, "Ugh…."
"Are you alright?" The amazon woman asked in concern. The petite Fae looked back to the amazon with some skepticism, thinking that maybe she was someone else, "I don't know about you, but… but I'm also a prisoner here."
The petite Fae attempted to sit up since her legs were relatively weak with some success to lay on her back against the table, "Prisoner?"
The amazon nodded, "Yes, I was waiting for a woman named Morgause who had helped me many years ago, but she never returned." She wasn't sure if maybe the same thing happened to her fellow prisoner who had gone through the same thing, having been out of it when she was brought it, but it wouldn't hurt to know, "Did the Black Hand bring you here?"
The petite Fae looked down as she scrunched her nose in disgust, "…I want to kill them for bringing me here…."
The amazon narrowed her eyes at that knowledge but took solace in it as well, "Then we both have been made prisoners by that disgusting man."
"What's your name?"
The amazon looked at the petite Fae, seeing that she was slowly regaining her strength to speak appropriately, "My name is Barghest, and what of you? Do you have a name?"
The petite Fae shook her head in response, "I haven't got a name..."
This would be the beginning of a partnership between two Fae determined to seek what they wished for…
Correspondence between Cardinal Noi Seonator Granfatima and Pope John Paul II
I understand the questioning you have made to me of the need for the Burial Agency when the regular Executors that make up the various Sacrament Assembly's do an apt job in dealing with the banal dead and hieratic magi who break away from their heathen association but believe me when I tell you that even today the power of the Dead Apostle Ancestors is not something to be understated. The eldest of their number has persisted for the better part of five millennia and of their collective of 28 even the weakest had the power to wipe a city from the face of the Earth with very little effort. But should my words not persuade you then I offer evidence of infringements into our interests produced by the so-called 'Benign Ancestor.'
As you may have read in the scriptures of the Opus Dei upon your ascension to the papal office but during our blessed crusades into the Holy Land the presence of Dead Apostle activity was at an all-time high with scores of Holy Paladins and Executors consumed on mass by notable Apostles such as Nrvnqsr Chaos and [REDACTED] but most curious of all is the case of Naruto Uzumaki. For reasons that are held in strong academic conjecture by our historians, Uzumaki was sighted in the Holy Land in 1191 AD whereupon he murdered not a single soul, instead looking for an artifact which we believe may have ties to the Grail of our lord. What perplexes us is that he was accompanied by the White Princess of the True Ancestors and in turn was attacked by [REDACTED] believed to have been dispatched by Trhvmn Ortenrosse, the first of the dead. While Merem Solomon has proved infuriating to get out the particulars of the engagement the collateral damage is well recorded as the map of an area equating to 112 square kilometers of the Judaean mountain range had to be redrawn to varying degrees from the battle.
That is the power of three Ancestor level opponents, and if my sources are correct the totality of their power outstrips anything the Church currently wields beyond the Burial Agency. I hope that this convinced you of the necessity of our organization and wish you to be in high spirits come next fiscal meeting.
May the lord protect you and let his word flow through you
Your humble servant.
Cardinal Noi Seonator Granfatima
Yup, I've brought in many of the characters from Avalon le Fae. *whisper* peak FGO everyone *whisper* Now I'm sure that many of you know how Avalon's story has gone with it having finished and many translations done for the most part, knowing full well what happens with the characters. Do remember that was the Lostbelt, or rather *SPOILER ALERT!* Lost World where many of the Fae, save for a select few, were absolutely the worst kind of beings to be around. This was mostly due to what happened at the divergence point, and as such because that didn't happen here, many of the Fae are far better than you'd think, being far more kind and civilized, well most of them at least.
With regards to Titania there was a decision I made to reconcile an issue with the source material and my own writing. According to FGO there never was a Titania but according to Fate Extra CCC there was with her being one of Kingprotea's goddess components listed under the name Titania (Titan). So, to reconcile this, the Titania in this story is a remnant of the Titaness Rhea's machine form that was destroyed by Sefar. Absorbed into the planet it eventually emerged as the Fairy Titania.
Truthfully, I wish that LB6 had dropped much earlier for me to use, and as such, I've been forced to come up with expositions to try and explain why they never showed up until the end arc of the Camelot Act.
Anyways, this chapter was meant to be a nice reprieve from the depression that is to come. The deep breath before the plunge. Something I hope many of you will enjoy.
I've also managed to find a new job that should allow me more free time, but I make no promises as real life of course takes priority over fanfiction, but that doesn't mean I'm going to abandon my stories at all.
So, please be sure to fav, follow, read and review this story as well others on my profile that catch your attention.
And when you guys review, please be sure to tell me your thoughts on it, likes, dislikes, etc. Don't just leave small comments or something not really related to the story and/or chapter. It doesn't help me become a better writer.
See you guys until next time! ;)