This story will change perspectives a lot of times in a chapter. It will focus on the Sarmatian visitors and the Knights. The means that it is switching from the Knights to the Sarmatians.
Emogen and Lancelot, with their three children beside them-Erlina and Enid- and in his arms-Cadman, quickly traveled the length of their Wing and arrived in the center of all ten wings of the castle. In the center of all the wings was their common rooms, where all of them gathered to relax and have fun, the kitchens, where they ate their meals privately together, and the nursery, where all their children with the exceptions of Alec, Lucus, Gilly, Brent, Caoimhe and Dierdre, Ennis, and Devin, were taken to be cared for during the day while their parents were busy with the Kingdom. Alec, Lucus, Gilly, Brent, Ennis, and Devin where waiting outside for their Masters, the Knights they were apprenticed to. The elder twins of the castle, Caoimhe and Dierdre, were already with Lady Fulucina and Lady Blythe learning how to run a household effectively and their academics-math, reading, and writing.
As they reached the doors, Lancelot pulled it open and greeted cheerfully, "Vanora, my love! How are you this morning?"
Vanora, a very pretty woman of thirty-six, turned to him and smiled in welcome.
She laughed and said, "I am well Lance! I can see you two are as well!"
Emogen smiled, gave her a hug, and said as she took her son from him and passed Cadman to the older woman, "You are right, as usual! Unfortunately, we have to go meet with the Sarmatians that Tristran's men are escorting to the castle. They should be arriving any moment, I think."
She glanced over to him and he nodded in agreement. Vanora's red head shook with worry. This would be the first time in five years that the ex-Knights of Sarmatia would have to confront their pasts. He knew she was anxious for them all.
Lancelot placed a small kiss upon her cheek and said, "We'll be fine. Besides, we made our choice, and we don't regret it at all."
Vanora and Emogen smiled at him and Vanora replied, "I'm just worried. I remember some of the stories Bors told me about his tribe. They didn't seem very tolerant of those not of Sarmatian blood."
Lancelot closed his eyes and sighed. It was true. With another sigh he closed his eyes again and brought the memories of his past to the forefront. Sarmatia was a land surrounded by the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. The people of my past are separated into eleven different clans that each controlled one of the eleven different territories that makes up Sarmatia. I once belonged to the Lion Tribe. My father, Babai, is the High Tribal Leader and during Council Meetings, his vote was nine times out of ten the tiebreaker. Since I decided to remain here in Briton and my family must have thought me to be dead, my younger brother, Tarkan (Tar-can), who would now be twenty-seven, would have taken up MY rightful place as Tribal Leader of the Clan Lion as Babai's only living and eldest son. He smirked. Every tribe within the land of Sarmatia is like an individual kingdom with a royal family and guards to protect those families. My family, the true Clan Lion, was the royal clan of the Lion Tribe. I was once Prince Lancelot of Clan Lion. Now, Tarkan is Prince Tarkan of Clan Lion. His smile widened; and I'm absolutely thrilled that I'm not the prince! He shook his head and returned to his original train of thought, Sarmatia has four Council Meetings annually and each tribe, Lion, Wolf, Panther, Bear, Horse, Eagle, Snake, Coyote, Hawk, Leopard, and Cheetah are represented equally. That is one of the reasons that the Knights accepted Arthur and his authority so easily; the round Table is similar to are own Sarmatian Meetings.
Vanora waved a hand in front of him and said, "Hello! You in there Lancelot?"
Lancelot shook his head and caught the delicate looking hand with his own.
"I am fine. I was just thinking of Sarmatia. It will be difficult to speak with them, but it must be done. I just want to know why they have traveled so far from Sarmatia. It just doesn't make any sense!"
Emogen cuddled into him and said, "Well, lets get to the Great Hall and find out why they are here. Hopefully we can deal with them quickly and get on with things." She smiled alluringly and added, "After all, we have a few days of vacation coming soon."
Lancelot groaned and shivered in an attempt to suppress in hormones. He hated it when Emogen talked like that! It made him SO uncomfortable for a few hours.
Vanora giggled and said, "Off with ya! I'll watch the little ones."
They kissed her cheeks again, hugged their daughters, and left the nursery. The other Knights were just arriving with their children too.
Gawain smiled at him and said, "You've dropped our Sun and Moon off along with Cadman, yes?"
Lancelot grinned at his daughters' nicknames and nodded as Galahad continued heatedly, "Then get your arse to the Great Hall! Tristran is attempting to play peacemaker between the Sarmatians and Arthur. They didn't even wait to find out anything before they started yelling at him-IN SARMATIAN! You two need to hurry. Tristran looked like he wanted to run them all through with his curved sword and be done with it!"
Lancelot and Emogen stared at one another with pale faces. If Tristran was already this unnerved with the people of their pasts, it must be really bad especially if Tristan lost his legendary calm so quickly.
"We're on it!" exclaimed Lancelot as he grabbed his wife's hand and ran through the castle halls. All the servants jumped out of their way as they both cried out 'sorry' to anyone they accidentally hit.
In no time at all, but to Lancelot it seemed an eternity to long, they arrived. The announcer, Randolph, smiled tightly at them and winced as another yell and a crashing sound made it to their ears.
Lancelot patted him on the shoulder and said, "Go inside Sir Randolph and announce us. Make it as loud as possible. We want them to be shocked into calmness."
Randolph smiled at his plan and silently disappeared behind the large doors. Randolph smirked and slammed his iron staff onto the harsh stone floor. It made a gonging sound that echoed throughout the Great Hall causing all the sound within the large room to quiet at once. Lancelot smirked. He liked it when a plan of his went according to plan-even the tiny inconsequential ones.
He heard Randolph announce, "Announcing! Lord and Lady Lyon! Lord Lancelot Shieldguard Lyon of the House of Lyon, Knight Commander, King Protectorate of the House of Camelot and a Lord of the Briton Isles, and First Knight of the Round Table and his wife, Lady Emogen Serenity of the House of Lyon, Lady Ambassador of Peace and the Queen's High Councilor!"
Arthur and Tristran breathed a sigh of relief. They were eternally grateful to whoever it was that made Lancelot and Emogen arrive when they did. If they had to play polite to this group for one more minute, they were sure that the Sarmatian men would no longer be amongst the living.
Lancelot and Emogen, together, walked down the center walkway of the Great Hall and swiftly arrived at the stairs that lead to their silver thrones just a step below Arthur and Cordelia's golden ones.
As they turned and sat down on their thrones, Lancelot said commandingly but gently, "Now, let us try this again, who are you? Why have you come to our fair city to seek King Arthur's council?"
The Sarmatians before them were a rowdy group that looked like they just stormed into the Great Hall without stopping to clean themselves up. Not that he minded, but it was the polite thing to do when meeting new people. Then he winced, if only to himself, and thought I've been to involved with peace talks lately, I'm starting to think like Emmy does with courtly mannerisms.
One man, an older man, probably in his early sixties, stepped forward and said loudly, "I am Atilla, High Tribal Leader of the Horse Tribe of Sarmatia! We seek your so-called KING ARTHUR because we want to know what happened to our boys! We gave Rome fifty of our boys, and not one of them did Rome return! We know that this KING is truly Artorius Castus, the Roman Commander of the Sarmatian Knights! WHERE ARE OUR SONS!"
Before Lancelot could answer, another voice cut in sharply, "Atilla! That is enough! We aren't here to cause a riot! We are here to find out what happened to the Knights. They certainly cannot be all dead as others think. Now, stand down now, or I shall do it for you."
The group of Sarmatians parts like the Red Sea of Arthur's Bible and revealed a pretty Sarmatian woman of her mid twenties. She had long, waist length chestnut brown hair and brown eyes. Lancelot jolted back into his chair and reeled in shock. Those eyes were his own eyes! But, the only women he knew to have his eyes were his mother and his sister, Habren. This woman appeared to be younger than he, leading him to believe that this was his baby sister.
Lancelot cut in smoothly, "My Lady, we welcome all into our halls. Tell me, what is your name? Who is it that you seek?"
The woman bowed slightly and said strongly as another man with matching chestnut brown hair appeared at her side in an open show of support, "My name is Princess Habren of the Lion Tribe, daughter of High Tribal Leader King Babai and Queen Ama. I am here in search of my eldest brother, First Prince Lancelot du Lac of the Lion Clan."
Before he could reply, Randolph appeared, slammed his iron staff onto the stone floor, and announced, "Announcing, Lord Gawain Axelord of the House of Wolfe, Senior Master of War, Knight of the Round Table and his wife, Lady Alma Peaceful Wolfe, Lady of Medicine!"
Gawain and Alma dressed in their own court attire of black, yellow gold (tan), and bronze walked through the center of the Great Hall and sat down in two bronze throne-like chairs on either side of the stairs where Arthur, Cordelia, Lancelot, and Emogen sat. The Knights of the Round Table and their wives' chairs were lined up on the left and right of the stairs creating the very same center walkway that they had just traversed down not moments ago. Upon their chairs was engraved their family's shield.
Randolph continued, "Announcing! Lord Galahad Weaponsguild Wolfe of the House of Wolfe, Head Arms Master and Knight of the Round Table and his wife, Lady Enys Tranquil Wolfe of the House of Wolfe, Senior Lady of Medicine!"
Galahad and Enys were dressed very similarly to Gawain and Alma because their houses were one and the same, and yet, slightly different. The brothers had wanted it to be this way, and Arthur wholeheartedly approved of it. The only differences in the two couples' mode of dress, was the colors. Galahad and Enys' court clothes were light blue and bronze. Upon their heads were their bronze crowns that were engraved with wolves with topaz (light blue) stones. They too walked quickly down the center of the hall and sat in their chairs that were engraved with their family Coat of Arms.
Randolph smiled at the ire of the Sarmatian group and started again, "Announcing! Lord Bors Chiefton Beran of the House of Beran, Governor of Kameland City-Proper of Camelot and Knight of the Round Table and his wife, Lady Vanora Patient Beran of the House of Beran, Royal Caretaker, Castle Governess, and Lady of Kameland City-Proper!"
The Knights that were already seated raised their eyebrows at Vanora's announcing. Isn't she supposed to be with our children? They thought. She smiled and winked at them all as she sat down next to Enys. They smiled in understanding. She left the children to Lady Sera, Enys' mother, and Lady Ashley, the woman who had educated them about birth five years ago.
Habren sighed as yet ANOTHER couple interrupted her discussion with this LORD Lancelot. She couldn't help but notice how much this Lord, this King Protectorate, this…this…this KNIGHT looked like an older version of her brother. She missed him very much, and had been depressed when he hadn't returned when his fifteen years were through. She was the only one in her family that truly believed that he had lived to see the end of fifteen years. Her father, her mother, and her brother all thought she was crazy and in denial. She frowned and looked at the silver crowned man again. He did look a lot like her father had once at that age. This man, this Knight was also around the same age her brother is. But, it couldn't be this easy, right? I mean, I couldn't have found him so quickly?'
She blinked back into the present as Tarkan, her older brother, nudged her in the ribs. She absent-mindedly rubbed them as the announcer ended, "Announcing, Lord Connor Arbitrator Truth of the House of Truth, Head of Regulations and Knight of the Round Table!"
She sighed in relief and looked at the gathered council members. She couldn't help but be impressed through. Not only did they have this room set up to be intimidating, they also have men and women in balance with one another…well almost…the three Lords closest to her had no wives apparently (Connor, Dean, and Seamus).
Lancelot cleared his throat and said, "Since all of us are here, and we unfortunately, interrupted this lovely lady, Lady Habren, will you allow me to explain quickly who you are and what you want with this court?"
She sighed but nodded.
Her brother-look-alike stood up and said, "Fellow Knights and Ladies of Camelot, these are Sarmatians looking for their missing loved ones. We are to try and help them find the resting places for their lost loved ones."
Habren saw the King, Arthur, raise an odd eyebrow at Lord Lancelot's speech and made herself remember it so she could analyze it later with her tribesman, Tarkan (Tar-can), Pappy (Pa-Pi), and Melean (Mel-e-in), her husband, later on in their chambers.
Galahad blinked and shook his head. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. They had traveled more than eight thousand miles just to find out about dead men that could tell no tales? He frowned. I need to stop visiting that Tavern so much. I'm starting to sound like the Bard currently living there, Miles.
Gawain coughed and cleared his throat uncomfortably. I have not even thought about this! I never dreamed that people from my past would come looking for me. Of course he had thought about going home to tell his mother and father that he was alive, but he couldn't leave Alma and the others. They were his family now; not his mother and father. He loved them, yes, but he had moved on from the ties they held on him.
Bors and Dagonet couldn't believe their eyes. They could recognize a few of the people in the Sarmatian group. Bors thought he recognized a man with shoulder length blond hair and blue eyes that looked to be about thirty-five years old. He had his father's old Tribal sash around his waist. Is that really my little brother, Tor? He looked at the man standing beside Tor. He had black hair, blue eyes, and a strangely family scar running down the left side of his face from his temple to his chin. He was maybe a few years older than himself…No! That can't be Artur! Could that rubbish of a son of a dog still live!
Dagonet had to rub his eyes. Atilla, that old bitter arse is still alive! How can that be? And is that, Miskoc, my old friend? I thought he died! How'd he survive that arrow? Not even Enys could have saved him from that wound!
The two cousins looked at one another in disbelief as a stray thought ran through both their heads at the same time, They are going to say horrible things to Cina/Vanny when they find out who they are…or rather, what race they are!
Tristran gulped which was very unlike him, but he couldn't help it. There was no mistaking that face and those eyes. That woman in the back, with long, sleek, black hair that fell to her mid back and gray eyes, was his little sister, Princess Ilona of the Panther Tribe. She was an exact replica of his mother, Queen Aorsi, at her age. The woman beside his sister made his stomach churn. Those stunning blue eyes were very familiar to him. Not that he liked them, no, not at all. In fact, he hated those blue eyes. They belonged to a girl from his past-his fiancée from childhood. How he hated Calbur! How can she be here? I thought she was going to be executed! She was found guilty of killing my older brother, Tsar, thereby forcing ME to come here to Briton more than twenty years ago! He smirked evilly as he remembered her face as he rode off to the Romans dressed in their red cloaks. Her tanned face had been one of horror and ire. He had been grateful as well as enraged at her then. Without her help he wouldn't be here with Ula now. If she hadn't done what she did to Tsar, I would be married to her, and I probably would have killed myself by now.
Arthur glanced at all his Knights. They seemed to be reacting to the news pretty well, although he knew with out a doubt, that they were all panicking on the inside-even Tristran. He glanced at Lancelot. He didn't understand why his friend hadn't acknowledged himself as the Lancelot Princess Habren was looking for, but he intended to find out as soon as possible.
Lady Emogen cleared her throat and stood up. All in the room turned their attention to Lancelot's wife.
She said clearly, "My Lady Habren of the Clan Lion, I am Lady Emogen of the House of Lyon. I can understand your reasoning for coming here to Briton to find your brother, but I must insist that you make sure your friends do not lose their tempers here. After all, anger directed at us will get you and us nowhere. Now, if you could please tell us the names of the Knights of Sarmatia that you seek?"
Habren was impressed. This woman who was dressed in the same color scheme as her look-alike-brother was smart and cunning. In one breath, she had appeared sympathetic, commanding, and chiding all at once. She knew this woman would be a worthy opponent.
She cleared her throat and said loudly, "We seek those named First Prince Lancelot du Lac, Prince of the Lion Clan, First Prince Gawain Gray-wolf, Prince of the Wolf Clan, Second Prince Galahad Greenhill of the Wolf Clan, First Prince Tristran Sharpeye of the Panther Clan, First Prince Bors Bearhound of the Bear Clan, First Prince Dagonet Surefoot of the Horse Clan, First Prince Kay Wingfeather of the Eagle Clan, First Prince Percival Sharpbeak of the Hawk Clan, First Prince Beveidere Sly of the Snake Clan, First Prince Garean Sharptooth of the Coyote Clan, cousin to Princes Gawain and Galahad of the Wolf Clan, First Prince Lazolos Spotedcoat of the Leopard Clan, First Prince Calburan Fastrunner of the Cheetah Clan, Sir Horal, Sir Canbur, Sir Frangin, Sir Zane, Sir Galbern….."
All the Knights closed their eyes in pain as they remembered each and every one of those faithful, strong, and loyal Knights. They couldn't believe the pain they still felt for their fallen brothers. It seemed almost to unbelievable-their feelings of sadness and guilt. How could these people of their youth, make them feel like this-as if their deaths occurred just the day before? Why do they want them to feel such pain for those long gone now? It's not like they are forgotten-no-they all made sure of that each time they met at the Round Table.
The Ladies of Camelot stared fiercely at the group before them. These people were officially on their bad side. If this is the kind of politics they wanted to play, fine, but they were not going to win.
After all, the Ladies of Camelot never lose!
First chapter is finished! Whew! Don't expect them to come out as fast as the others did. It'll take me a while to write these down since I'm bringing in feelings and prejudice that I simply can't understand. So, I'm going to be taking a bit longer to get it all right.