Author Topic: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 38 - The Warehouse  (Read 10817 times)

Online MarianT

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 3 - An Uncertain Future
« Reply #25 on: May 19, 2013, 09:31:05 AM »
This is very well-done. I can't wait to see how Lady Valerie fares at Avalon. Chrestien de Troyes would be proud of you!

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 3 - An Uncertain Future
« Reply #26 on: May 19, 2013, 11:05:17 AM »
You captured the Medieval atmosphere perfectly. Fantastic writing.

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 4 - The Ring
« Reply #27 on: June 02, 2013, 06:22:09 AM »
The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 4 – The Ring

Lady Valerie, Bronwyn and Alun returned to Avalon where life passed quietly and peacefully.  Lady Valerie worked tirelessly in the gardens and orchard and did much of the same things as before, but - as Bronwyn lamented to her husband - there was no joy in the maiden.  Lady Valerie no longer caught pretty butterflies or picked wildflowers for her pleasure.  She didn’t run anywhere.  Nor did she sing or play the harp.



When she fished or caught butterflies, it was only to gather ingredients for elixirs.  Lady Valerie no longer read for pleasure, but spent many hours rewriting some the ancient texts on Avalon.  She also walked every day in the forest, often returning wet through and chilled to the bone.  Bronwyn and Alun worried that their charge and lifelong friend seemed to be actively courting ill health.



Bronwyn spoke to Morgan le Fay, the unofficial queen of Avalon, who advised them to let Lady Valerie grieve in her own way.  But Morgan le Fay did take a keen interest in Lady Valerie, who was after all, the half-sister of her own half-brother.  Although sharing no blood parent in common, as was traditional for the time, Lady Valerie was still considered to be Morgan le Fay’s sister too.

Morgan le Fay sent word to Camelot’s magician, Merlin, to come visit Avalon for the summer as Merlin was the logical choice to lift Lady Valerie’s spirits.  It was Merlin who had smuggled the infant Lady Valerie to Avalon and became her first tutor and friend.  It was Merlin who had confirmed that Lady Valerie’s father was indeed Uther Pendragon, King Arthur’s father.  And it was also Merlin who discovered the curse upon Lady Valerie which neither Merlin’s magic nor Morgan le Fay’s charms could break.

When no reply came from Merlin, Morgan le Fay became concerned.  She knew the magician would not have ignored her request.  If he couldn’t visit he would have sent word.  Morgan le Fay immediately wrote a letter to King Arthur, asking for advice. 

Before her letter could be given to a messenger, Alun brought word to Morgan le Fay that a lone horseman had been seen riding into the narrow valley containing the secret entrance to Avalon.  As only a few people knew of its existence, Morgan le Fay and Alun went to the lookout from where they saw the rider approaching: it was a knight wearing Camelot’s emblem and he rode his horse fast over the treacherous ground.  This was a knight whose horse knew the terrain well. 



Together Morgan le Fay and Alun went to the hidden entrance and waited as the knight rode towards them.  It was Sir Bors the Younger. 



When the knight dismounted from his horse, Alun stepped forward to take the horse to the stables for care and attention.  The poor horse was a lather of sweat showing the ride had been long and fast. 



Sir Bors the Younger approached Morgan le Fay and bowed low, “My lady, King Arthur sends grave news.  Merlin has been missing for more than a week.  King Pelles, who is still a guest at Camelot, believes you may be able to find him with the use of this magic ring.”

“That is one of Merlin’s magic rings.  I know he intended to give it to his new love, Lady Nivianna, the daughter of the King of Bernicia,” replied Morgan le Fay.  Morgan le Fay could not put the small ring on her fingers save the littlest finger.  She received no vibes from the ring.  “It is no use.  My hands are too bony with age, we need younger fingers.”



Morgan le Fay went to see Lady Valerie who she knew could be found in the orchard most afternoons.  “Lady Valerie, we need your assistance,” said Morgan le Fay.  “Please put on this ring and tell me what you see.”

Lady Valerie did as she was bid and immediately felt a burning pain in her hand.  Gasping with the pain, she breathed deeply and closed her eyes.  “I see a dark tower beside a stream and a mill on the other side.  The tower is perhaps a large reeve’s tithe barn or a small keep.  There is someone inside it… someone in pain but I can't make out the details.  I need to use my crystal ball to see more.” 



Morgan le Fay and Sir Bors followed Lady Valerie as she went to her quarters.  As she reached out and touched the crystal ball, pain lanced through her body.  Each breath she took was painful.  Her arms ached with the effort to control the ball.  The mist within the crystal ball became black then red, then white.  Her eyes seared with pain as she peered deeper into the crystal ball.  The more she persisted, the greater the pain gripped her.  Her breathing shallowed and her face lost all colour.  Barely breathing, Lady Valerie cried out, “Oh mercy, it is Merlin!  He has been enchanted and immured in a magic tower.  I can feel that he is near death.”



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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 4 - The Ring
« Reply #28 on: June 02, 2013, 10:31:58 AM »
Whomever is powerful enough to capture Merlin, of all people, must be a frightening force with which to contend. Freeing the wizard will be quite the perilous quest...and if I am right, exactly what Valerie needs to pull herself out of her grief.

(On a side note: Morgan le Fey looks rather familiar... :P)

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 5 - No Time for Arguments
« Reply #29 on: June 08, 2013, 06:58:36 AM »
The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 5 – No Time for Arguments

While mindful of Lady Valerie’s pain and anguish, Sir Bors knew he must press her for more information urgently if they were to have any chance of saving Merlin.  “My Lady, there are scores of towers in England and mills more still.  But magic towers are rare.  Is this tower near mountains or a forest?  Can you see other buildings nearby?”



Lady Valerie was hesitant to touch the ball again but knew she must do so for Merlin’s sake.  Although braced for it, the pain of touching the ball was almost too much.  “I see the tower, the mill and a small footbridge across the stream.  There are willow trees along the stream.  I do see another building, it could be an inn.  The hills around the area have chalk cliffs.  There is an ancient ruin on one of the higher hills...” her voice trailed off, the pain was too much.



Sir Bors exclaimed, “Ruins on a chalk cliff... yes, I know where this tower could be.  But it is at least fifty leagues hence.  I must leave immediately.  My horse is tired.  Have Alun bring me a fresh horse!  I’ll be back for mine when Merlin is rescued.”



“Sir Bors wait”, Morgan le Fay said, “Haste is not needed for you cannot rescue Merlin from a magic tower.  If Merlin’s magic can’t free him, you alone cannot.”

“Then I will return to Camelot and raise a party of workmen with horses or oxen and take that tower apart brick by brick if we have to!” said Sir Bors heatedly.

“Dear Sir Bors, all the King’s horses and all the king’s men won’t be able to free Merlin.  Your loyalty is unquestioned, but magic towers are no place for mere mortals.  Nor can they be pulled apart so easily.  The workmen can be hurt if they try.”



“But I must try something!” replied Sir Bors, impatient to leave.

“I must go with Sir Bors.” Valerie’s words stopped Sir Bors in his tracks.  “I will know if it is the right tower.  I am not enchanted so perhaps my magic can free him.  Merlin has been like a father to me.  I can feel his pain through that ring.  He is old and his wits may be enfeebled but I must try to help him.  If nothing else, my magic can sustain him until we can find a way to free him.”




“But my dear Valerie”, Morgan le Fay said gently, “even if enfeebled, Merlin’s magic is far greater than yours.  It is not his pain that you are feeling, it is your own.  What I must tell you can only bring you more pain.  Merlin has exceptional foresight and for him to be enchanted and immured, it is of his own wish to be so.  I’ve known for some time that his love for the Lady Nivianna has been unrequited.  I saw her disgust at being the recipient of his affection and even with my limited foresight, I knew of the danger of teaching such a perfidious woman the magic of our forefathers.  No, as much as it grieves me say this, Merlin’s immurement is his choice.  Merlin has clearly chosen to end his life this way.  We must respect his decision.”



“Balderdash!” retorted Sir Bors.  “No man would wish to be imprisoned and die such a torturous death over unrequited love for a woman!”



“There speaks Camelot’s most inflexible misogynist,” snapped Lady Valerie, angry and uncertain.  “Tell me where the magic tower is Sir Bors, so that I may go to Merlin.  Even if it is his own wish to die this way, I would like to say goodbye to him.”



“I do not have time to organise the carriage or the escort for the journey for you!”

“I do not need a carriage or escort, or even a horse, I have my broom.”

“I will not take an unescorted maiden, let alone the King’s sister, so far onto the moors.  It is dangerous.  I hear there are dragons in those parts.

“I am not afraid of dragons.  But I thank you, for now I know where the tower is to be found.  There is only one valley in the kingdom with dragons.”

“Lady Valerie... Sir Bors... this is no time for arguments.  I will see Alun for a fresh horse for Sir Bors.  If you must go, you should travel together for safety.  Lady Valerie, you are the only one who can positively identify the tower and Sir Bors can be your escort.  You two used to be good friends, make up while I go see about a horse and send word to Arthur on what is happening!” declared an annoyed Morgan le Fay as she strode from the chamber.



“I apologise, my Lady Valerie.  I remember the last time I argued with you, you grounded me,” said Sir Bors ruefully.

Lady Valerie smiled, “You were twelve years old.  You were usually such a good boy but a bit hot-headed from time to time.  I do wish to know what happened to turn that sweet natured boy into the curmudgeon who stands before me.  Was it Claire?”

“I do not wish to talk about the daughter of King Brandegoris!  If you wish to join me, that topic is off limits.  Now, I realise that you can identify the tower which will save me riding all over England on some wild goose chase, but I still think it is dangerous.  We must be careful.  Mordred’s army is between Avalon and the tower.  We must cross enemy lines to get there.  You would be a prize catch to Mordred to help bring King Arthur to his knees.



“I know just the disguise for both of us.” said Lady Valerie.



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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 5 - No Time for Arguments
« Reply #30 on: June 08, 2013, 09:34:36 AM »
Stubborn, the both of them. :P

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 5 - No Time for Arguments
« Reply #31 on: June 08, 2013, 09:57:00 AM »
I just love this story!  And poor Morgan, nobody ever wants to listen...
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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 5 - No Time for Arguments
« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2013, 11:38:49 AM »
I can't wait to see what disguise she has in mind.

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 6 - The Journey Begins
« Reply #33 on: June 16, 2013, 07:39:56 AM »
The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 6 – The Journey Begins

“Well I have to admit this is not the disguise I had in mind” Sir Bors said to Morgan le Fay. “While this disguise has many advantages, wearing a long robe while riding a horse is not one of them.  We can ride to the village beyond the river but we will have to go on foot through enemy territory.”



Lady Valerie came over to advise Morgan le Fay that the horses were ready.



“Really!” Sir Bors said on seeing her.  “Is that the best you can do?  You would do better to be dressed as a nun.”



“A nun’s habit exposes too much of my face which you seemed to think was too easily recognisable!” retorted Lady Valerie breathlessly.  Her corset, laced tightly to try to conceal her bosom, caused her great discomfort which did nothing to lighten her mood.

“Granted it would, but I have never seen a monk who looks so effeminate.  If we meet anybody you are the son of a country gentleman.  So you’re going to be called Brother who?”

“How about Brother Berian?”

“Hmm, well it seems Brother Berian is the young son of a country gentleman whose voice has not yet broken, unless you can lower your voice.  Since I am wearing the jewel of an Abbot, I shall be Abbot Owen.”

“If that is your wish Sir Bors” said Lady Valerie lowering her voice to imitate a man.

“Lower.  Make your voice more guttural.”

“If that is your wish Sir Bors” said Lady Valerie lowering her voice still further.

“That would be Abbot Owen.  Now try again.  Make the sound from the very back of your throat.”

“As you wish Abbot Owen,” said Lady Valerie making her voice as low as she could from the back of her throat.

“Hmm... no... that is not going to work.  It appears that Brother Berian has taken a vow of silence.  You should start practising that now.” said Sir Bors turning away to check his horse and missing the flare of heat in Lady Valerie’s cornflower blue eyes.



Morgan le Fay hugged Lady Valerie and asked, “Are you sure about this?  You know Merlin will know how much he means to you.  Sir Bors is right.  This is a dangerous journey you have chosen.  It will be a difficult journey to take, the two of you together.  He is not the loveable boy who grew up here.  Life has changed him.  Sir Bors is to be admired for his courage, not his amiability.”

“I realise that.  Still I must go.  I feel it is the right thing for me at this time.”  Lady Valerie gave Morgan le Fay one more hug before mounting her horse. 



Sir Bors and Lady Valerie rode many leagues in silence.  Near the crest of every hill, Sir Bors dismounted, tethered his horse in the trees and crept forward, carefully observing the landscape for any hint of the enemy.  Lady Valerie gritted her teeth against the desire to talk.  She knew Sir Bors caution was necessary but it added extra time to the journey.  Time they didn’t have. 



At last they came to the final hill before the road forded the river.  A village lay on the far bank but Sir Bors was disturbed, not by what he had seen, but what he didn’t see.  The village looked too serene.  The men who should have been in the fields were not to be seen.  The houses gave off no chimney smoke.  There had been the remains of a large bonfire in the village green which should not be there given there had been no recent feast days on the calendar.

Sir Bors crept back to Lady Valerie and the horses and whispered, “I think the village has fallen to the enemy.  We have no choice but to go east and ford the river elsewhere.”

Just as Sir Bors was about to remount, he turned suddenly and saw the road was now occupied by an armed band of men...
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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 6 - The Journey Begins
« Reply #34 on: June 16, 2013, 03:12:55 PM »
Oh dear...that cannot be a good sign. Quite a suspenseful way to conclude a chapter!

Online MarianT

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 6 - The Journey Begins
« Reply #35 on: June 16, 2013, 03:39:59 PM »
Excellent! Dragon Valley is the perfect location for this story, and I love the way you use Grim's robe.

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 6 - The Journey Begins
« Reply #36 on: June 17, 2013, 03:27:34 AM »
Indeed, you did it so well I wasn't even sure if it was Grim's robe or not! I am on the edge of my seat about these armed men!

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 6 - The Journey Begins
« Reply #37 on: June 18, 2013, 10:30:34 AM »
Enjoying this very much!
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Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 7 - To the Rescue
« Reply #38 on: June 23, 2013, 01:12:16 AM »
The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 7:  To the Rescue


On closer inspection the band of men were armed with pitchforks, hoes and tree branches.  Some were elders but many more were just boys. 



As Sir Bors approached them, they laid down their weapons.  One older man came forward.  A group of boys and an older man came up behind him for reinforcement.  “Please, my Lord, my name is Huw.  I see you wear the jewel of an Abbot and we know that Cleeve Abbey is expecting a new Abbot.  Cleeve Abbey has long been friend to the villages along this road and we are in dire need of assistance.  Are you the new Abbot for the Abbey?”



“No,” replied Sir Bors deciding to stay in character, “Brother Berian and I are travelling to meet with the new Abbot.  What troubles you Huw and may I assist you?”

“Our village was raided five nights ago.  The invaders feasted on our meagre food supplies and stole our livestock.  Some villagers fled into the forest but many of our people were captured by Mordred’s army.  They rounded up the young men and marched them off along the east road.  They hold our women and youngest children captive in the tithe barn.  We are not many and are poorly armed.  Our boys are strong lads but have weakened with hunger.  We watched you approach.  We can see that you are careful.  We know nothing of military strategy but my brother, Gwilym,” Huw pointed to the other older man behind him, “and I believe you do.  Could you help us with a plan to rescue our kinfolk?”



“How many soldiers remain in the village?” asked Sir Bors.

“There are at least a dozen soldiers and a cook.  There were more soldiers but they left with our young men.  They work in shifts except for the cook.  There are two soldiers holed up in the tithe barn watching the captives and two sentries at each end of the village.  The other soldiers sleep lightly in any of the houses or gather at the school house, which as you can see from here, is just a pavilion with no true walls.  Ianto over there,” Huw pointed to the teen standing beside Gwilym “has snuck into the village to bring us this news.”



Sir Bors looked over the thin weedy teen and saw in his eyes the pain of memories that would probably haunt the lad forever.  “Let me talk about this with Brother Berian for a moment.  In the meantime take my saddlebag and distribute the food in it among you.”



Sir Bors walked over to Lady Valerie.  “I cannot leave those women and children captive in that tithe barn.  I need to come up with a plan.”



Lady Valerie looked at Sir Bors and opened her mouth to speak but checked herself.  The villagers might hear her.  Although the villagers looked harmless, the success of any disguise lies in maintaining it in all situations.

“If you have any ideas to help with a plan Brother Berian, I grant you permission to break your vow of silence.  Perhaps you have a potion that can help us.”



Lady Valerie beckoned Sir Bors closer and whispered.  “I have no potions but I do have some ingredients for elixirs with me that we can use to our advantage, but I need access to a cauldron to brew them.  Then you talk to the cook and distract him so I can add the elixir to the cooking pot.  When the soldiers eat their dinner, they will fall asleep and we can retake the village.”

“Excellent plan Brother Berian,” said Sir Bors and Lady Valerie felt foolishly pleased with his praise.  Let us get you ready.”  Sir Bors used his body to shield Lady Valerie from view as he helped her dismount from her horse.  Saddle sore and bone weary, Lady Valerie made an inelegant dismount made worse by the heavy robe.  On wobbly legs, she gathered the mushrooms she needed from her saddlebag clutching her horse for support.  Sir Bors raised an eyebrow of enquiry.  Valerie nodded that she was okay and was grateful for Sir Bors’ consideration.  Maybe the sweet-natured young boy of so many years ago was not gone forever.



“Now we need a plan to get us past the sentries.”

“If we know where they are, as a sorceress, I could give them a bladder curse so that they will break cover to... um... attend to business.”



“That might work but again it might not.  If we’re challenged we will use that plan.  ”

Sir Bors went back to Huw and asked if there was an alchemy cauldron in the village that they could use.  “The Apothecary has been captured and his wares ransacked but I believe his cauldron may still be there,” Huw replied.



“Which is the Apothecary’s house?” asked Sir Bors.

“It is the largest house in the village just beside the pond.  You would not have seen it from your reconnaissance earlier because it is past that large rock near the end of the village.  Unfortunately that house is next to the tithe barn.”

“That might be risky.  Are there any other cauldrons in the village?”

“There are large cooking pots aplenty but no other alchemy cauldrons.  The blacksmith has a large quenching tank that he uses.  Would that be suitable?” said Gwilym who came forward to speak.



Sir Bors looked at Lady Valerie who shook her head.  “The Apothecary’s house might be our only hope.  How close is the tithe barn to his house?”

“Not more than ten paces*,” came Huw’s reply.  “But there is a garden entrance which is on the other side to the house.  That is where he keeps his cauldron, not in the house proper.”

“That is good news.  We have a plan but it only involves Brother Berian and myself for the first part.  How can I quietly signal you to come into the village once it is safe and rescue the women and children?”

“Hmm... perhaps if you light the blacksmith’s fire.  We will be able to see the smoke from here and come to do our part.

“A smoke signal?  Excellent idea.  Please take care of our horses until we return for them.  Show me the places we need to go.”

“Certainly, my Lord.  Gwilym and Ianto can both ride and the boys would be happy to look after your horses.” 



Huw and Sir Bors crept back to the reconnaissance point.  Huw pointed out the places of interest and the route Ianto had used to gain entry to the village.  That route was not appropriate for them as it meant swimming the river.  For Lady Valerie, a wet robe was to be avoided at all costs.

“Our entry plan must be to go in on foot.  Two lone monks will not seem threatening.  We will improvise from there and signal you for your part.  If all goes to plan your women will be rescued this night.  If we are captured, have someone who can ride return our horses.  They know their way home.  Just tell the horse ‘domum’**.  Once there, inform Alun that the two monks were captured.”


* A Pace is an ancient measure approximately 4.854 feet or 1.48 metres.
** Domum is Latin for ‘home’.  All Avalon horses speak Latin.   ::)
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Offline Banana Bender

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 7 - To the Rescue
« Reply #39 on: July 02, 2013, 07:45:35 AM »
This is an entertaining story.  Hmm... Huw, Gwilym and Ianto... weren't they the brothers in "How Green Was My Valley" which fits neatly with Dragon Valley's celtic setting? 

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 7 - To the Rescue
« Reply #40 on: July 02, 2013, 07:52:16 AM »
This is an entertaining story.  Hmm... Huw, Gwilym and Ianto... weren't they the brothers in "How Green Was My Valley" which fits neatly with Dragon Valley's celtic setting?

Thanks.  Yes they were.  Arthur is based on a Welsh legend and I'm using Welsh names for some of the characters.  ;)
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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 8 - Retake the Village
« Reply #41 on: July 02, 2013, 08:10:20 AM »
Lady of the Lake:  Chapter 8 – Retaking the Village

“I have a new plan to enter the village.”  Sir Bors said as he fashioned a crutch from a sturdy sapling.  “If this does not work, it is a handy weapon.”   He began to walk using the crutch and an exaggerated limp.  Lady Valerie held his arm as if assisting him.  Together they walked slowly toward the village.  The sentry approached from the bushes.  Sir Bors and Lady Valerie halted and waited for the sentry to speak.

“My Lord Abbot, it appears you are injured”, the sentry said. “Rest here on this log a while if you want.  Can I help you?”  While his tone was sincere, the voice was gruff and his expression uncertain.



Sir Bors, who had not been expecting kindness or consideration, replied calmly, “I thank you for your kind words.  Brother Berian and I are bound for Cleeve Abbey to welcome the new Abbot.  My horse was startled not more than a league from here and threw me.  Brother Berian here, who is an apprentice healer, assures me that no bones are broken but I have injured my hip and can walk no further this day.  My horse has bolted with all our supplies and we have not eaten since breakfast, perhaps you can spare a crust for us?”

“My Lord, I cannot leave my post, but we have a cook who can help you.  I give you leave to go into the village and speak to the cook for some food.  I would send word to Cleeve Abbey for help, but all the horses have been taken.”

Sir Bors reached out and touched the sentry’s arm, “Thank you.  Perhaps you should consider a change of career - soldiering is no match for a good and gentle soul such as yours?”



“Thank you my Lord.  I am Aeron, son of Cai.  My father is a farrier and I am the sixth son.  I was apprenticed to our liege-lord for training as a squire.  But when our liege-lord was required to provide men for an army, I was drafted.  I normally take care of the horses for I am good with animals, but there are no horses here now, so I am made a sentry.”

Sir Bors nodded.  Many young men get drafted into armies when they have no heart or skill for it.  “May you be poor in misfortunes and rich in blessings.”

The young man smiled and Sir Bors and Lady Valerie hobbled over the small footbridge into the village.  The first person they saw was in fact the cook that the sentry had mentioned.



“Who are you and what are you doing here?” he asked belligerently.

“I am Abbot Owen and this is Brother Berian.  We are bound for Cleeve Abbey but I have been injured in a fall.  Your sentry gave us leave to enter the village in search of food and rest.”

“Young Aeron, I bet!” disparaged the cook, “He is soft, that boy.  You two wait here while I get one of the other soldiers!  It is more than my life is worth to feed either of you without their permission.” 



The cook had not walked more than half a dozen steps when... ZAP... Lady Valerie changed him into a toad Sim.  The cook stumbled for a moment and then after realising what had happened to him, fainted dead away.



Sir Bors looked askance at Lady Valerie who simply shrugged.  “You have no idea how much I have wanted to try that.  I have never done that before so I was not sure it would work.”



“Thankfully it did.  I will quickly change into his clothes and move him before he rouses.”

Sir Bors threw the comatose cook over his shoulder and walked off.  Lady Valerie waited near the cooking pot.  She could see the cook had made reckless use of the villager’s meagre food supplies.  Sir Bors came back wearing the cook’s clothes which seemed a little too tight for him.  Out of his knight’s tunic and the monk’s robe, Lady Valerie noticed that Sir Bors cut a fine figure for a man his age.

Unaware of Lady Valerie’s appreciative gaze, Sir Bors said, “I moved the cook into a horse stall.  I did see the Apothecary’s house.  You do not need to go near the tithe barn to get there.  Go back to the first path on the left as we came into the village and go along that path.  When you see a big garden, that is the house you need.”

“Where are the other soldiers?

“Probably sleeping or in the tithe barn with the women and children or...”

“Do not say it!  I will be back as quick as I can.  Evening is falling fast.  They will be looking for a meal soon.  Can you cook?”

“I can cook.  Not fancy stuff but I can feed myself.”

“Then look after the cooking pot and I will be back soon.”



Lady Valerie felt strange walking through the deserted village.  There were no sounds from hens or livestock.  No children’s laughter and no people talking.  An eerie quietness permeated the village.  The path was very tidy and lined with many planted flowers.  Most of the houses were of stone.  It had obviously been a prosperous village.  With Sir Bors instructions, Lady Valerie easily found the Apothecary’s house.  As Huw had said, there was an extension to the house with an entrance from the garden.  The alchemy station was in that small area so Lady Valerie quickly set to work creating the Flask of Potent Sleep elixir and a few other elixirs before returning along the dirt path to Sir Bors.



Lady Valerie added her elixir to the cooking pot while Sir Bors kept watch for any movement from the soldiers. 



After adding the elixir, Lady Valerie went to check on the cook who was not where Sir Bors said he had left him.  When she mixed the Potent Sleep elixir she had made an elixir to cure the toadified cook but he was nowhere to be seen.  He had probably just run away.  Valerie felt terrible about that.  The cook could not be cured without the elixir or a kiss.

As the sun began to set, the soldiers came around for the food and eagerly sat down to the cooked meal. 



Sir Bors hid his face from the soldiers who didn’t look directly at him anyway.  Almost immediately after the meal, they felt very sleepy with some of the men just curling up to sleep almost where they stood.



When Sir Bors was satisfied they were all asleep, he went over to the blacksmith’s house and lit the fire only to find that it was almost smoke free. 



Lady Valerie came to see what the problem was and realised that even with smoke, it would be difficult to see as night was falling fast.  Although it was not the prearranged signal, Sir Bors decided to light the bonfire to signal to the villagers that it was safe.



As he waited, he heard a rustle in the bushes.  He suspected it was the young teen and called out.  “Ianto, tell Huw that it is safe to come in.  It would frighten the women and children less if you let them out of the tithe barn.”  Immediately Ianto sprinted out of his hiding place and ran down the road toward the tithe barn and went straight in and hugged a pretty teenage girl. 

Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

My Stories:
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2. Duty Calls Sequel: Islands of Sunset Valley
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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 8 - Retake the Village
« Reply #42 on: July 02, 2013, 06:32:19 PM »
A brilliant ruse, and best of all no one was harmed (except or maybe the poor toadified cook, who I imagine will have a few mental issues to deal with after the fact :P). Very clever!

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 8 - Retake the Village
« Reply #43 on: July 02, 2013, 07:06:31 PM »
Excellent story, and your illustrations are gorgeous. I'm really enjoying this!

Offline ilovethesims

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 8 - Retake the Village
« Reply #44 on: July 03, 2013, 01:14:34 AM »
I love the settings they are well suited to the timeframe of the story. It must have taken great patience to catch the Sims in the actions which would most propel the story. Guinevere here is truly a queenly figure.

If only Sir Galahad could come back to life...

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 9 - Fight or Flight
« Reply #45 on: July 06, 2013, 02:36:26 AM »
Lady of the Lake:  Chapter 9 – Flight or Fight

While the villagers rejoiced at the liberation of their women and children, a head-count soon revealed that the loss of villagers to death and capture had been considerable.  In addition to losing many young field workers, the village also lost the Apothecary, the Reeve, the Blacksmith, and the Miller.  With the loss of so many young and skilled men, the survival of the village was tenuous. 

Sir Bors organised for the sleeping soldiers to be carried off and placed in a number of lockable spaces within the village as there was no jail as such to be had.  He then asked for a meeting with the village elders at the Apothecary’s house to discuss their plans for the future.  One of the elders thanked Sir Bors for his clever plan to retake the village which yielded no casualties.



“Being raided by an advancing army must have been terrifying for all but being raided by a retreating army would be catastrophic,” Sir Bors advised.  “This village is going to be hit far harder when Mordred’s army is defeated since usually only the soldiers of the winning army are paid.  The losing side cannot do that so those soldiers who are not killed or captured will return this way to steal whatever they can.  And, more than likely, they will burn what they cannot carry.”

The elders knew what Sir Bors said was true.  “We have lived many years in peace and prosperity under the vassalage to our liege-lord, Dafydd of Lowood Hall,” said Huw.  “But our spirit now is broken and all seems lost.”

Sir Bors watched their faces as he asked, “Can your Manorial Lord provide sufficient protection to the village?”

“No,” Huw replied.  “Our liege-lord, Dafydd is dead and Lowood Hall burns.  The siege lasted until late yesterday.  The Parson is also dead and the church is destroyed.  There is no more help from that quarter.”

“Is there an adjoining liege-lord who will he take Dafydd’s lands and protect you?”



“To the east is Aron of Summerholme Manor who is fair and just but to the north is Sion of Choat Hall who is vain and petty,” answered Gwilym.  If Aron takes the land, we will be safe but if Sion takes the land, as a freeman, I would not wish to stay.  He takes 40% of the produce in rent.  His villagers are starving.”

“So your first priority must be to send word to Aron of Summerholme to see if protection can be secured,” Sir Bors urged the villagers.  Gwilym volunteered to go on horseback and left immediately. 



Sir Bors then set to work to help organise the villagers to sort through what had been left of the village.  Less than an hour later, Gwilym was back with the grave news that Summerholme Manor burns and there were gibbets displaying the gruesome remains of Aron and his family.  He also reported that Sion of Choat Hall had taken Aron’s lands.



Sir Bors pondered for a moment.  Both Dafydd of Lowood Hall and Aron of Summerholme Manor had been allies of King Arthur which was most likely why they had been attacked.  Sion of Choat Hall was not allied with King Arthur.  Sir Bors had known of the man whose vanity was only exceeded by his greed.  Things did not look good for the villagers.  Without the protection of a strong liege-lord, the village was as good as lost. 



Sir Bors spoke frankly.  “If you stay in the village, you are in the line of retreat.  This could be days or weeks away but it will happen.  The retreating soldiers will remember the prosperity of this village and plunder all that is left.  You need to evacuate until the danger is passed and peace restored to this valley or leave forever if they burn the village.  What the retreating army does not take, Sion will.”

“Where can we all go?” asked Huw, not at all sure he wanted to leave his home but nonetheless acknowledging that it was not safe to stay.  Huw’s heart was heavy: his wife was among the dead; his older son had been captured; and his youngest son and two toddler daughters needed his protection.



“I know of a refuge where you can be safe.  I myself grew up there and it is a wonderful place for children.  But I need to seek the counsel of Brother Berian before I pursue this discussion further.  You need to sort out what goods you can carry and what items you can leave behind, buried in a safe place.” 

Sir Bors left them and went in search of Lady Valerie.  He found her at the Apothecary’s alchemy station making a few more batches of elixirs to take on the journey, just in case they were needed.  Ensuring they were indeed alone, Sir Bors said, “Lady Valerie, you and I both know that the villagers are not safe here anymore.”

Lady Valerie acknowledged the truth in his words.  “Yes unfortunately, when the army of Mordred retreats, it will ransack what remains of this pretty village.  Have you suggested to the villagers to take what they can and go to another village.  There will be more villages that have been raided, but if they combine their forces, they may be able to repel an unorganised band of retreating soldiers.”



“Possibly.  But the next manorial village has also been attacked.  It probably has no young men left either and no-one with military skills to prepare the remaining villagers for a battle.  So combining the villages may simply double the number of potential deaths and captives.”

“Then they must leave the village.  The first sentry we met, Aeron son of Cai, seemed a fine young man.  When he wakes, he will understand that he has been captured.  As an apprenticed squire, he knows some military strategy.  He will know he is now part of the ‘spoils of war’ and that his life is indebted to his capturers.  He understands horses.  His father is a farrier so he probably learned enough from watching and helping his father to fashion a harness so our horses could pull those two largest carts.  The remaining villagers could take refuge in Avalon until this war is over.”

“You do realise that if we lend the villagers the horses, we would have no option but to proceed to Merlin’s tower on foot and may not get to the magic tower in time.”

Lady Valerie touched the ring and while the pain was less intense than previously, it was still agonizing.  “Merlin lives still, but is very weak.  I wish to continue on to the magic tower.”

“That is as I presumed you would feel,” replied Sir Bors.  “But do the horses go with us or stay to help the villagers?  For without one of us to accompany them, the villagers do not know how to get to Avalon.  But the horses do and can lead the villagers to safety.  They are your horses, so you must decide.”



Lady Valerie looked reflective and Sir Bors asked again.  “My Lady Valerie, you need to ask yourself, does the need of the one outweigh the needs of the many?”
Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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Offline Banana Bender

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 9 - Fight or Flight
« Reply #46 on: July 07, 2013, 04:56:57 AM »
Your set dressing is quite detailed and very appropriate.  I did like the Trekkie reference.   ;D

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 10 - Exodus
« Reply #47 on: July 07, 2013, 06:17:33 AM »
Lady of the Lake:  Chapter 10 – Exodus



“No, it cannot.  The needs of the many are greater than my desire to go to Merlin who we now know is imprisoned by his own volition.  The villagers must take the horses.  But I have a broom and I can go on without you.  Perhaps you should indenture Aeron, son of Cai as your squire and together the two of you can lead the villagers to safety.”

“That is a clever idea but I have already pledged myself to see to your safety.  I cannot do this if you are in one place and I in another.  But I will indenture young Aeron as a squire.  Can you awaken him?”

“Yes of course.  I can make that elixir.  Where is he being held?” 



“Right here in the Apothecary’s house, upstairs in the bathroom.  It is secure.  I will be back shortly.”  Lady Valerie made the elixir and was ready when Sir Bors returned.  Lady Valerie handed Sir Bors the elixir and followed him up the stairs.  There was a long narrow landing with some doors.  Sir Bors walked to the door at the end.  Aeron was asleep on the floor.  Sir Bors threw the elixir on the floor near his sleeping form.  Almost immediately Aeron clambered to his feet yawning and anxious.”

“Wha...  My Lord Abbot, I beg your pardon, I am confused.  I do not understand how or why I am here.”



“The village has been retaken and the other soldiers have been killed or turned over to King Arthur’s army.  I have asked that you be spared.”

Immediately Aeron fell to his knees and bowed his head.  “I thank you my Lord Abbot.”

“Aeron, son of Cai, your kindness to Brother Berian and I shows that you are a good person.  If you still desire to be a squire, I have the authority to apprentice you as squire to Sir Elyan the White, who is in need of a new squire.”

“A squire to a Knight of the Round Table?  Oh my Lord Abbot, yes, I should like that very much.”

“Very well, kneel and take the pledge of allegiance to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.”  Sir Bors recited the pledge and Aeron spoke the correct responses.  Sir Bors finished by giving him a ring from his pocket.  “This ring is the symbol of Sir Bors, King of Gaunnes.  As squire to Sir Bors’ son, Sir Elyan the White, you are now an indentured servant of the House of Gaunnes.  Sir Bors is the patron of my abbey and as Abbot to the House of Gaunnes, I bid you welcome and I set the following tasks for you.”  The young man listened intently as Sir Bors outlined all that he needed Aeron to accomplish.

“This I can do my Lord Abbot.  I will begin immediately.”

“You must first change into the correct tunic for we do not wish you to spread fear among the remaining villagers in those clothes.  Here is your new tunic.  It carries the symbol of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table in the colours of the House of Gaunnes.  Wear it and the ring with pride and courage and long may you live and prosper.”

Sir Bors and Lady Valerie left Aeron in the bathroom to change and went downstairs.  “That was very generous of you to give him your tunic.  Now you are stuck being Abbot Owen until you return to Camelot. 



“Not so, Lady Valerie, a Knight has more than one tunic.”

“Why did you deceive him by telling him we had killed his fellow comrades?”

“I deceived Aeron to limit his choices.  If he had expressed revenge for their deaths, then he was not the man I thought he was and I would have locked him up again so King Arthur’s army can take him.  Will you excuse me Lady Valerie, I have a letter to write to my son to explain my actions.”

“Certainly, I too have a letter I must write to Morgan le Fay.”  At the completion of her long letter, Lady Valerie sealed it for delivery and went in search of someone to deliver her letter.  Sir Bors gave his letter to Aeron to give to his son. 



Lady Valerie found Huw and Gwilym with the wagons which had been loaded, the horses impatiently waiting in their stocks.  The horses’ hooves and the wheels of the wagons had been swaddled in hides to deaden the sound.  The axles of the wagons had been greased liberally with lard so they would creak less.

Lady Valerie realised that she could not speak.  Silently she handed Gwilym her letter who bowed his head in acknowledgment.  “I understand you have made a vow of silence.  But I cannot read Brother Berian.  Do I give your missive to someone at our destination?”  Lady Valerie nodded.  “This I will do.” he responded

Lady Valerie paused briefly to farewell her horse, Mistral, petting her as she whispered words of encouragement so no one but the mare could hear her voice.  Sir Bors and Lady Valerie maintained their disguises with the villagers to the end, so Sir Bors as Abbot Owen, gave them a short pragmatic prayer for a speedy and safe journey. 



Then without further ado, Gwilym and Ianto took the reins of the horses and Aeron lifted up one of the laden handcarts.  Sir Bors and Lady Valerie watched the villagers and Aeron as they walked off as quietly as they could into the blackness of the moonless night.

Lady Valerie followed Sir Bors as they turned and headed back to the Apothecary’s house, “Are there any other prisoners in the Apothecary’s house?”

“None, they are lockup up elsewhere.”



“Where are we to sleep for what is left of the night?”

“I thought we could sleep here at the Apothecary’s house.  It is the only house with two bedrooms,” Sir Bors said.  “Aeron has fitted new locks for the doors and you will be safe if any of the sleeping soldiers wake and escape.  But do not leave the house for I will set booby traps to wake us if there are intruders.”

“Thank you.  I will just quickly bathe and sleep soundly till sunrise,” said Lady Valerie, relieved that the long day was finally over.



“Take the room upstairs adjacent to the bathroom and I will take the one closest to the stairs.  Good night Lady Valerie, pleasant dreams.”

“Good night Sir Bors, sleep well” replied Lady Valerie as he turned and went outside.

Valerie went upstairs to her room.  Then decided she would bathe first.  After hauling enough water upstairs to fill the tub to a depth she was satisfied with, Lady Valerie soon found she had a problem.  Back in her bedroom, she struggled with it for a quite a while before admitting defeat.  When she heard Sir Bors return upstairs she opened her bedroom door to go to him, then changed her mind. 

She heard him go to the bathroom and splash about in the tub then tip the dirty water out the window.  She fumed but still she paced up and down inside her room.

“Go to sleep my Lady or you will be too tired to walk far tomorrow.” Sir Bors called from the adjacent bedroom.

That did it!  She wrenched open her door, padded barefoot to his room and knocked loudly upon his door before entering.  “Sir Bors I need your help.”

Sir Bors jumped out of bed and averted his startled eyes.  “My Lady Valerie you are not properly dressed!”



“I am not properly undressed either.  I cannot bear to spent the night strapped into this tight corset!  Please undo these wretched laces.” 

Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 10 - Exodus
« Reply #48 on: July 07, 2013, 10:48:24 AM »
I knew that Valerie would come to the right conclusion. She has a merciful heart.

This is just a lovely story. It truly reads like a novel and I find myself loving the characters more and more. Aeron seems like a good man and I hope that all will be well for him when he and the villagers reach Avalon.

Quite an interesting ending. Oh the perils of being a lady in disguise. ;)

Offline Magz from Oz

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Re: The Lady of the Lake: Chapter 11 - The Tower
« Reply #49 on: July 19, 2013, 07:11:59 AM »
Lady of the Lake:  Chapter 11 - The Tower

Lady Valerie turned around and Sir Bors fumbled tentatively with the laces eliciting unexpected shivers along her spine. 



“Hold still and stop fidgeting!”  Sir Bors admonished as he plucked inexpertly at the laces triggering even more tingles.  “No… I give up.  Those tiny knots have pulled too tight and are impossible to undo with my large fingers.”

“Well get a knife and cut the laces,” Lady Valerie said exasperated.

“But that will ruin your garment!”

“Unless we add a lady’s maid to our entourage, I am not wearing that awful robe one more day.  I will wear the nun’s garb or my own dress and we will deal with any issues that may ensue.”

Sir Bors muttered under his breath as he went to his pack and returned with his knife.  With one swift movement he cut the laces.  The garment fell apart instantly, causing Lady Valerie to hastily clutch it to herself.  “That is a very sharp knife!” she exclaimed to cover her embarrassment.

“Now what use is a blunt knife to me?” he chided as he expertly returned his knife to its sheath.  “I must thank you for drawing a bath for me.  That was unexpected and most enjoyable.  You should try to sleep, for a long journey awaits us in the morning.  Goodnight. ” Sir Bors said as he turned to go to his bed without so much as a backward glance.



Nonplussed, Lady Valerie quickly left his room.  She washed using the pitcher and bowl in her room then dressed for bed.  But sleep eluded her.  She thought about the events of the day and wondered at the actions of Sir Bors.  His behaviour puzzled her greatly.  He sometimes behaved rather surly but at other times, he was gentle, kind and considerate.  He had, undoubtedly saved young Aeron from being swept unwillingly along a dark path and probably saved his life.  She thought of Sir Bors again wearing the tight cook’s clothes and how she hadn’t appreciated that while he was the father of a grown son, he was still a fine looking man.  She felt again the tingles his touch aroused and scoffed at herself reining in her wild imaginings. 

Eventually she slept but was startled awake when Sir Bors knocked on her door and called, “Breakfast is ready, we leave in ten minutes!”

Lady Valerie hastily scrambled into the nun’s outfit that her maid Bronwyn had obtained for her.  Doing her best to tuck away her unruly hair, Lady Valerie ran breathlessly down the stairs and stopped immediately on the bottom step.



“That will never do!” Sir Bors said brusquely.

“Why?  What is wrong? The small looking glass in my room makes it difficult to see.” Lady Valerie said confused at the tone of his voice.

“My Lady……….No nun I have ever seen has looked so… um… ah …hmm...  Perhaps you had better wear your own clothes.  Eat first and then change.”



Lady Valerie sat at the table and ate a silent breakfast with him.  She did not understand the cause of his outburst but several furtive glances through her lashes at his set face told her he was intractable in this.  Well she did prefer her own garments anyway.  While Sir Bors packed up, Valerie went upstairs and changed into her own gown. 

She braided her hair as she came down the stairs again.  Sir Bors had also changed from the Abbot’s robe.  He was wearing some of the villager’s clothes.  He was impatient to leave.  “Stop fiddling with your hair.  You are wasting time.  Aeron has made adjustments to the leather straps on our saddlebags.  We should wear them over our shoulders.  He calls it a backpack.”  Lady Valerie threw a flask of elixir at him.  He immediately felt something in his hand and saw it was an apple.  “You changed me into a Wizard!  Why?” Sir Bors exclaimed angrily.



“Now you can ride a broom.  We shall both get to the tower quickly.  When we get there, I can cure you.”

“I have never ridden a broom.  I do not have time to learn.  Change me back!”



“No.  It is just like riding a horse at full gallop.  Hang on and hope for the best.”

“You do know that riding a broom means we have to follow the road.  We will be sitting ducks for any sentry with a longbow and good aim.”

“Then I shall go first and if I see any, I will give him an Icy Blast.  Now you are the one wasting time.  Let us go!” said Lady Valerie as she lifted her plait so she could put her backpack on.

Sir Bors slung his backpack over his shoulders and mounted the broom and it immediately flew off after Lady Valerie. 



They rode without saying anything and met no interference of any kind.  Lady Valerie was alert and listening to every movement as they passed through open fields and thick forest, looking back every so often to see how Sir Bors was faring on his first broom ride.  After a few hours of riding, Sir Bors pointed ahead to the tower he could see emerging in the distance.  Lady Valerie stopped and set down her broom.  Sir Bors stopped and gingerly hopped off his. 



“That is not the right tower,” Lady Valerie said.  She felt the ring and said anxiously, “Where is the next tower?”

“It is east of here.  I shall lead.”  Sir Bors got out his broom and again they set off riding in tandem.  It was much quicker to the next tower but again, it wasn’t the right tower, nor the next one. 



After the fourth wrong tower Lady Valerie felt the ring again.  It had no power.  Lady Valerie sat down beside the road and cried.

Sir Bors looked questioningly at her and she mumbled through the tears of anguish which coursed down her cheeks, “Merlin has gone.  We are too late.”  Drying her eyes, she asked, “Where is the next tower?”

“Why continue if he has gone?”

“I want to take his tombstone to Avalon or Camelot.  If his ghost appears, I can speak with him to find out what he truly wishes.”

Finally they located the right tower.  They found Merlin’s tombstone and both respectfully mourned for an old and revered friend. 



Lady Valerie turned to weep on Sir Bors’ shoulder.  He gently held her as huge sobs racked her slender body.  Sir Bors didn’t quite understand why he felt oddly pleased that she chose to find comfort from him.  Nor did he understand why he felt so content holding her when solemnity would have seemed more appropriate.
Where there is love - there is life. -- Mahatma Gandhi

My Stories:
1. Duty Calls
2. Duty Calls Sequel: Islands of Sunset Valley
3. The Lady of the Lake