Knights don't belong to me, or Lancelot's tribesmen. All other characters do.
The Return to Sarmatia
This story will change from Knight to Knight and family member to family member as they deal with their Sarmatian roots and their new lives in Briton.
As he moved to Emogen to relieve her of their son, Cadman, he said stoically, "Hello father, mother."
Lancelot watched with veiled eyes, as they oldest woman before him, his strong-willed mother from his memories, stared at them, or more importantly-him. Lancelot could tell be the sweet gleam of her cloudy brown-black eyes that she was glad that he was alive and well. He also knew that she was thrilled to see more 'Sons of Sarmatia' alive and well too. But, as her eyes caressed his face, trying to super-impose his thirteen-year-old self against his thirty-three year old self now, he knew that the next few moments would be uncomfortable and filled with hot, maddening emotions.
As her eyes moved to his wife, Emogen, and the baby they created together, his pride and joy, Cadman, his mother's warm brown-black eyes transformed into icy cold blocks of brown rocks.
Lancelot watched as his mother's eyes returned to him as she cried out happily, "Oh my son! I knew you weren't dead! The will to live is to strong in you! Thank the Gods you and your brothers are finally home! Now, let me look at you!"
Lancelot gulped, handed Emogen their son once more, and stepped closer to the woman who gave him life. With a quick glance behind him, he saw Gawain grab Emmy's upper shoulder to prevent her from moving to his side as many of the unwedded Sarmatian women from his tribe, many of whom were his cousins and second cousins, started to flirt silently with him.
His mother was circling him and moving her eyes all over his frame. His father, Babai, did not say a word to him, but his old face told Lancelot that he would accept whom ever he wished to be his wife when his mother made him get married in a Sarmatian-styled wedding ceremony.
As his mother clapped her hands twice sharply, she said with a smile, "My son has returned to us alive and well! Let the marriage ceremony begin!"
"What?!" shouted Lancelot in horror, even though he expected it, as he pulled away from the woman who carried him in her womb for nine months and cared for his childhood aches and scrapes.
Lancelot spun to his wife of five years as Emogen shouted out in pain at the same time he did, "NO!"
As he took a step towards her, he froze when he felt his mother's skeletal fingers grip his black cape, and watched helplessly as Gawain AND Tristran held his beloved wife back. He knew that his mother wouldn't appreciate the fact that he had married a woman that she didn't personally approve of, but he didn't expect her flat out refusal to even give Emogen a chance! He looked at the old, weathered fingers that had once soothed his fevered childhood skin, and wished he could gain the courage to hurt her for what she was putting Emogen through.
But, this was his mother…he just couldn't harm her…not even for his Emmy.
Lancelot stared at his mother with wounded eyes. He stubbornly ignored his father, whom had not yet spoken one word to him-at all.
His mother's lips pulled down as he stared at her, as she shrugged and said, "It does not matter to me, my son, that you have returned home five years later than expected. You MUST uphold your duty to our clan by marrying Princess Agrimpasa of the Wolf Tribe, and bring forth the next generation of our tribe to carry on our noble bloodline's prestige."
As Lancelot opened his mouth to argue her last remark, Ama growled and said dangerously, "And your little lover over there, the one in green, is a disgrace to our people! Our people are warriors-both males and the females! She cannot remain with you any longer. A Lady of Peace-our kind knows no peace. And further more…"
Lancelot, in rage, ripped his arm from his mother strong hold, and said passionately, "I am truly sorry mother, but I…!"
Lancelot's ravings was cut off as Gawain took a stand beside him and said with a forced politeness that Lancelot understood as he attempt to keep the peace between him and his mother, "My Queen Ama of the Lion Tribe, I am First Prince Gawain Gray-wolf of Sarmatia, Knight of Sarmatia, and the older brother of Princess Agrimpasa Wolfhill of the Wolf Tribe. Lord Miskoc of the Horse Tribe by Sarmatian Blood Oath killed my sister, a few moons ago. She was tried and found guilty of attempting to harm the heirs to Briton's thrown. I am here to verify that the arranged marriage between our two clans are here and now voided."
Lancelot gave his brother-n-arms a grateful smile. Gawain smiled back and winked as he shuffled back to his place behind his leader and First Knight.
Lancelot saw his mother's mouth open and close in shock. He turned to the eldest in their traveling party and tilted his head meaningfully. Miskoc cleared his throat and said strongly, "It is true, Queen Ama, I pledged a Blood Oath with your daughter as a witness. Princess Agrimpasa, Ex-Lord Atilla, Prince Tor, and Lord Artur are all dead for their transgressions against the crown of Briton."
Lancelot snorted as his father finally spoke, "What were these transgressions?"
Lancelot turned to his father and said as his wife came up behind him and placed her head gently on his shoulder, despite his mother's evil glares, "Atilla murdered one of our palace kitchen-girls, Artur and Tor where his stunt supporters, and Tor and Artur belittled and harmed Ladies Caoimhe and Dierdre, first born daughters of Lord Bors Bearhound of the Bear Tribe."
He sighed and added, "Agrimpasa was killed because she refused to answer our questions after she had been asked to answer under the Oath of Mithras."
He was interrupted as Galahad broke free from the line behind him and Emogen and said hotly, "She was depressed that Lancelot was married and refused to leave Emmy! She had been depressed for years because of what my monster of a mother did to her!"
The youngest son of the Wolf Tribe took a deep breath and continued on as he added his support to his First Knight, "Lancelot will NOT marry anyone you say he is to, my Queen! He LOVES Emmy and at the end, Agrimpasa figured that out as well, and she died peacefully."
Lancelot placed a hand on Galahad shoulder and said soothingly, "It's okay Galahad…calm down…"
The First Knight watched with concerned eyes as the youngest of the original seven Knights heaved and tried to control his emotions. Agrimpasa's death had affected him in ways that they had never dreamed of. As of now, Galahad's emotions were dangerously close to the forefront, and he jumped at every slight against him or his fellow Knights. They was lucky that Ula was able and willing to help the surviving twin get over his loss and help him get better control of his emotions.
He shook his head and said purposely to his mother as he continued from where he had been cut off a short time ago, "Mother, Emogen is NOT my lover. She is my WIFE! We've been married for five almost six years now, and she is the mother of our three children."
Ama's head cocked to the side as she asked curiously, "Children? What children? Habren's letter said nothing of children."
Lancelot glared at his younger sister as she ducked and said sheepishly and scooted closer to their mother and father, "I wanted it to be a surprise…"
She added as she stared at him beseechingly, like she wanted him to believe in her sincerity, "I didn't know she'd start off like this…honest!"
Lancelot cleared his throat and ordered gently over his shoulder, "Tristran, bring forth the Sun and Moon of House Lyon."
He felt rather than heard his friend and scout nod as he heard faint footsteps move away from him and the others and move in the direction of the wagon that carried their children.
Lancelot watched silently as his sister and brother spoke to their parents on behalf of his children. He was curious to see what they would tell their mother most of all.
"Mum! Lancelot's twin girls are adorable! They are beautiful and smart too! They know numbers, and languages, and most importantly…they cane speak in Sarmatian; they know our stories, and our culture…don't hate them before you meet them…please!"
Tarkan added to his father, "And Cadman, is Lancelot's first born son. He looks just like Lancelot, father. Please don't let mother denounce them! The twins were born, exactly, nine months after Lancelot and Emogen were married! Cadman was born four years later. The Gods truly favor this union…"
As the tribe waited in a tense silence, two young voices cried out happily in unison, "Daddy!"
Lancelot smiled, spun around, and said as he picked his twins up easily into his arms, "My beautiful Sun Princess and enchanting Moon Emerald! How would you like to meet your grandparents, Queen Ama and King Babai of the Lion Tribe, my loves?"
Lancelot watched with proud eyes as his twin daughters nodded seriously at him. As he set them down gently, he pushed them forward and said in flawless, unaccented Sarmatian, "Introduce yourselves my daughters, in the formal manner of your stations."
Erlina and Enid, the Sun and Moon of House Lyon, were dressed identically in cotton black, floor length gowns that had emerald green corset-like vests that hugged their tiny frames. Upon their hearts was their family's silver edged shield. Inside the shield was a golden lion with emerald green eyes and two black and steel colored swords crossed behind the gold lion's head. The top right quarter of the shield was silver, the top left was emerald, the bottom left was silver, and the bottom right was emerald. Protecting their tiny feet, were emerald green soft leather slippers.
Erlina grabbed the hem of her beautiful gown, and said gently, "I am Lady Erlina 'the Sun Princess' Lyon of the House of Lyon, Daughter of Marques Lancelot Shieldguard Lyon of the House of Lyon, Knight Commander of the Briton Isles, King's Protectorate, and First Knight of the Round Table and Marquess Emogen Serenity Just-Lyon of the Houses of Justice and Lyon, Lady of Peace and Queen's High Councilor, Lord and Lady of Badbury Shire and elder sister of Lady Enid 'the Moon Emerald' Lyon of the House of Lyon and Lord Cadman 'the Cub' Lyon, heir to the House of Lyon."
Enid followed suite and said just as politely, "I am Lady Enid 'the Moon Emerald' Lyon of the House of Lyon, Daughter of Marques Lancelot Shieldguard Lyon of the House of Lyon, Knight Commander of the Briton Isles, King's Protectorate, and First Knight of the Round Table and Marquess Emogen Serenity Just-Lyon of the Houses of Justice and Lyon, Lady of Peace and Queen's High Councilor, Lord and Lady of Badbury Shire and younger sister of Lady Erlina 'the Sun Princess' Lyon of the House of Lyon and Lord Cadman 'the Cub' Lyon, heir to the House of Lyon."
Lancelot smiled at the faces his father and mother made when his daughters introduced themselves. Both of his parent's eyes were wide with shock and amazement. As his father met his eyes, he knew then and there that his father approved of his new grandchildren and would support him faithfully in brining them into the clan as possible heirs to the Lion Thrown. It was his mother that shocked him the most.
Ama had fallen in love with Erlina and Enid almost instantly. He was almost positive now that his mother would approve of Emogen as soon as she under went the challenge against Habren to prove her worth as a warrior.
As Ama rushed to their side, pulled them to her for a big hug, Lancelot said as he took Cadman and presented him as well to his parents, "Erlina and Enid were born exactly nine months after Emogen and I married. Our son, Cadman, came a year ago and is my heir. We have three children from our union and more hopefully in the future. Emogen is my wife…please…give her a chance…she will surprise you."
He watched as he wife boldly came forth and said, "Excuse me, I have to put them to bed now…it's been a very long day."
He was proud when Emogen proclaimed, "How about we try this again, yes? I am Lady Emogen Serenity, Lady of Peace and the Queen's High Councilor and wife of Lord Lancelot Shieldguard Lyon of Badbury Shire. I am very pleased to meet you, Queen Ama."
She continued as she waved behind her, "And these, these are the Knights once known as the Knights of Sarmatia. Now they are known as the Legendary Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur's Court. The pair dressed in dark purple and lavender are Lord Tristran and Lady Ula of Albion Shire of the Far North, the pair in dark burnt gold and light amber are Lord Gawain and Lady Alma of Manchester Shire and Ynys Wyth or the Dragon Isle, and Lord Galahad and Lady Enys of Dummonia Shire and the Lyonesse Isles."
Lancelot watched with pleasure as each couple came forth unhesitatingly as Emogen called them forth and bowed and or curtsied in honor of the nobility before them.
Lancelot's eyes narrowed as his father eyed the women, and as his eyes widened in shock, Babai exclaimed, "They are Woads!"
Ama looked at him in reproach as she demanded, "What?! I thought Woads killed Roman soldiers and conscripts?"
As Lancelot opened his mouth to refute that fact, his father interrupted, "They killed because they represented Rome, the true enemy. Whenever the Knights left on their own, the Woads let them be."
Lancelot nodded in agreement as Gawain came to his side and asked curiously, "How'd you know that, My King? Lance said that you were stationed at Ad Fines, in the far western lands of Britannia."
Lancelot gave his father a thoughtful look as Babai explained, "My brother was taken to Vindolanda and served under a good and just Roman Commander, Uthur Castus. My brother was Uthur's second-n-command and loved Castus like a brother. Dookar was killed in a battle while protecting Uthur during a raid of the Scots. Uthur then got revenge by killing all the Scots with the legendary sword…"
"Excalibur." Ended the Knights together in a dazed tone, for that was a story they were all very familiar with-Lancelot especially. As a younger man, he had taken great pride in the fact that his family had close military ties with the Castus family.
Lancelot smirked as his father asked in shock, "How do you know of the sword, Excalibur?"
Lancelot stared at his father and said, "I think I need to introduce myself once again, only this time using my old titles."
When he was sure that he had the complete attention of all the tribe, he stated clearing and proudly, "I am Sir Lancelot of the Sarmatian Knights serving under the command of Lucius Artorius 'Arthur' Castus of Rome and Briton. I am Second-n-Command of Hadrian's Wall at Vindolanda and the only person to wield the Legendary Twin Demon Blades of Sarmatia…I am Sir Lancelot duLac de Castus!"
His father blinked and said with an approving nod, "So, the Roman married the Brit, did he? Interesting…"
Lancelot watched as the young man, who had remained quite this entire time by biting his bottom lip and grounding his feet into the green earth, suddenly blurted out angrily, "You became Second-n-Command to a Roman?!"
Lancelot raised his eyebrow at Zimkar's tone, but said calmly back, "I did, is that so hard to believe?"
Zimkar exclaimed angrily, "But we hate Romans! How could you befriend one?!"
Lancelot felt his ire rise, as he answered, "Quite easily, actually…Artorius Castus, son of Uthur Castus, believes that all men are equal. He believes that we all have free will. Also, upon our first meeting, he saved my skin from another whipping. We had arrived not a week earlier and Arthur was looking us over. Arthur asked for my name, and I demanded 'what for?'. The Roman Legionar took out his whip to strike me."
There he paused as the memory of Arthur overcame him, and then he continued more lively than the Sarmatians, who had traveled with him had ever seen him before, "Luckily Arthur pulled out Excalibur and the whip entangled with it instead of harming me. Then Arthur said, 'I requested his name. I did not order it, and people do not have to answer to a request.' Well I was amazed. As he walked away, I felt a sudden desire to tell him what he wanted to know."
Lancelot smiled and finished, "I also felt a suddenly strong urge to say thank-you. I did. From then on, Arthur and I were friends, and later we became the best of friends. We were and ARE so close, that I was tempted to return to Rome with Arthur before we left for our last mission. That's how close we were and still are."
He turned hard eyes upon the people of his past and said commandingly, "I will NOT tolerate anyone saying bad things against Arthur…from anyone."
He ended by glaring at his baby brother, Zimkar, and said, "Understood?"
Lancelot's father cleared his throat and said, "Apparently this Arthur is as good as Uthur was."
Babai looked at his son and his son's friends and fellow Knights and felt his chest swell with pride. His son had become something greater that a slave to Rome. Plus, rumors of Arthur's First Knight were well known from Briton to the Far East of Rome. His son was at the pinnacle of every man's dream-immortal-through deeds and honor just like his friend and captain, Arthur.
Babai added, "You'll hear no ill words from me, son. You have done what thousands of men have tried to do for hundreds of years before you, become immortal…First Knight of Arthur."
Lancelot smiled wryly as he added, "Yes, tales of my deeds have spread far and wide. I'm just glad that Gawain, Tristran, and Galahad have equal fame and immortality."
The Lion Tribe watched as the three other Knights rolled their eyes as Lancelot ticked off his fingers, "Gawain the Green Knight, Tristran the Silent Watcher, and Galahad the Pure."
Galahad grumbled at his title while the others laughed at him.
Ama crossed her arms and said, "Then your name is…"
Lancelot stood tall and proclaimed, "I am Lancelot the Brave."
Zimkar started to snicker as he said through his laughs, "What would you know of being Brave? You've been living a life of luxury. I bet you can't even catch your own food, never mind, fight in a battle."
Habren glared at her baby brother. She sucked in her breath as a zing of metal scraping against metal came to her ears.
As Lancelot placed his swords in an 'x' under Zimkar's throat, he asked with blazing brown eyes, "Care to find out? I am not Knight Commander and King Protectorate for nothing. Not including the fact that I am First Knight of Arthur's Court. That means, if you haven't already figured it out yet, that I am the best swordsman in Briton-second only to Arthur himself."
Zimkar sneered and stepped out of the swords sharp blades and said in a challenge, "Let's see the prowess of Lancelot the Brave."
Zimkar took his own sword out, looked at his eldest brother, chuckled mockingly, and said in a patronizing tone, "Are you really going to disgrace yourself by attempting to use two swords at once? You do know it is impossible."
Lancelot simply smirked as Galahad said loudly, "He's not called the 'Twin Sword Master' for nothing."
Gawain added, "Wipe the floor with him!"
Habren took a step closer to her baby brother, and said worriedly, "I wouldn't do this Zimkar…he's a great swordsman…he'll kill you!"
Zimkar steamed as he lunged at the First Knight with his sword crossed over his own body in defense.
Lancelot rolled his eyes, side stepped the charging man, raised his right sword, flat side towards him, and whacked Zimkar on the neck hard enough to leave a large stinging red welt on the exposed flesh.
Zimkar, enraged at the early hit, spun around and swung choppily yet precisely at Lancelot.
The Knight Commander calmly met each hit with his swords. In fact, as all the Lion Tribesmen saw, Lancelot made sure to parry the hits equally between his two swords-masterfully, Godly-even.
Babai felt pride overflow his entire being once more. Not only had his son become more than a Roman slave, he had gained an immortality that would span the generations. Also, he has mastered fighting with the once though impossible to wield Demon Blades.
Then a deep depression settled in his heart. While he could claim to be the father of the Legendary First Knight, Lancelot, he could not claim anything else. He could not claim to have taught Lancelot any of the morals he has been praised for. If he understood it all correctly, Arthur, his son's best friend, taught him all the morals he now possesses, and taught him how to wield those blades.
As the obviously one-sided fight continued, Lancelot said, "I find your assumptions of me ghastly Zimkar. I have spent fifteen years fighting nearly everyday for Rome. I am Knight Commander of Camelot and First Knight of the Round Table. If you do not understand what that entails, allow me to illuminate: fifteen years equals five thousand four hundred and seventy-five days of endless battle, be it in battle or training. Can you claim such a discipline?"
As he blocked a heavy handed left blow with his left sword, he continued, "I am the Commander of nearly ten thousand Knights, and with that I am also the First Knight. First Knight also means that I am the best hand-to-hand fighter in all of Briton. None can best me, save Arthur, the King. Out of ten thousand men and women, I am the best. I win in any challenge, except when I spar with Arthur. I have also killed hundreds if not thousands of invaders for Rome…so tell me, how do you hope to defeat me when all others have failed?"
Tristran said blandly, "Stop playing with the boy Lancelot; it's embarrassing to watch this amateur fight."
Most of Zimkar's trainers glared at the tattooed Knight, but Tristran's glare made them freeze.
As Zimkar swung around to make a slice to Lancelot's throat, Lancelot rolled his eyes and ended the fight. With his left sword he met Zimkar's thrust and used his own momentum to push his baby brother's sword up and away from him, leaving himself wide open, and placed his right sword under the chestnut hared man's bobbing Adam's apple.
Lancelot announced dryly, "You're dead."
As he stepped back, Lancelot drilled, "You left your right side open for attack, you let your anger cloud your judgment, and you didn't use smart battle tactics. Now, how you can you fix that?"
As he rejoined his family, Lancelot saw Gawain step up and said formally, "Lancelot does not mean to sound superior. He has fallen into Trainer Mode. All he wants is for Zimkar to admit his mistakes and try to fix them. If this had been a true battle, Zimkar would be dead and the Lion Tribe would have lost a valued Prince."
Many of Lancelot's tribesmen muttered angrily as Babai stepped up and said strongly, "My son and his friend are right."
There was immediate silence.
Zimkar protested, "But father…"
Lancelot and Zimkar's father continued on in disappointment, "Lancelot and his friend are right. Had this been a true battle to the death, Lancelot could have ended it very quickly. I saw four holes in Zimkar's defense that my son could have used to end the battle before he chose to…not to mention, the very first attack made by Zimkar. He charged in angrily, and he left his neck open. Lancelot took advantage of that early one by whacking Zimkar on the neck."
He bowed his head, shook it sadly, and said in a heave of sadness and pain, "It pains me to say it but Zimkar was fighting like an inexperience adolescent. I know this…"
He continued as Zimkar's glare worsened, "…because Lancelot fought similarly when he was twelve summers."
Lancelot snorted and said, "I changed right quick in Briton. If I hadn't I would have died that very first year."
The other Knights nodded us Ula stepped in and said, "Tis late, we should prepare for the night, My Lords."
Lancelot nodded in agreement as he said, "We'll be bedding down now. Do you have night sentries that we need to be aware of?"
Babai warned, "We have a night watch. But, we have heard of a large group of bandits nearby…be on guard."
Lancelot nodded and turned to Tristran, the Head of Intelligence, nodded and said blandly, "I'll stand watch."
The next chapter will focus on Gawain and Galahad as the eleven tribes come together for a meeting, and something else that will cause problems for our lovable knights and their families!