Arthur and his men determined that the only place that could allow them some chance was the field of Camlann near the River Allen. It held an ancient wall and fortress, now an Abbey which would provide some safety and sanctuary for the women and children. More importantly, there was an escape passage there which few knew of, or would ever dare to use. Arthur knew it was there, that opening in time which one might enter into and disappear. He knew well that should this all go badly, he must send as many as possible, his wife and daughter included into that opening and pray that they arrived into some safer place and time. There were no gaurantees on that but it was a risk he must plan for. His one other prayer was only that they manage to arrive at the spot before the others gained suspicion of their plan and were there ahead of them waiting.
They gathered the group of women and led them on through the darkness of night. His one prayer was answered when they arrived at the field and the Abbey shortly before dawn on their third night of much silent travel. No others were there as yet and they were able to secure the exhausted and still shocked women within the Abbey. His wife was still most dazed, had not uttered a word and been carried there in front of him on horseback. One of his other knights, another much trusted Vampyre, Adrian DeWare had carried tiny Ainor wrapped in his cloak. She had never made a sound either but merely looked out around her as if to memorize the views. When they arrived, he took Ainor and his men helped his wife.
Once in the Abbey, he had found a quiet corner place for her to sit with the child. She had immediately wrapped her arms about the child, began to rock back and forth and sing soft lulling words meant to sooth them both. He knelt down with the two of them staring up at him with the same shining blue eyes, his wife’s copper braids and his small daughter, Ainor’s cloud of dark curls about her. He etched that sight into his mind should it be the last time he might ever see them, he wanted the memory engrained and burned into his mind for all eternity. He knew that when he walked out the doors of this Abbey, he walked into a battle for his life and for the future of their realm.
He was well correct in his suspicions of having been betrayed and set up to a losing battle, but he rested assured in his plans. It was not long before those others showed up to do battle with him one last time. They had been smug and arrogent in looking at him with his small band of knights.
His small band face a legion out on the field, whose intent was to easily slay this group and call victory for themselves. They assumed that the battle would be quickly done and this once glorious king would be no more. Arthur stalled the battle for a time, waiting within the Abbey fence for what the others assumed was fear of coming out and facing his death. One of those others called out that if he was so noble and honorable, he should come out now and face his defeat in a noble and manly way… not hide behind church walls. Arthur knew that even this group would not so willingly breech the gates of a sacred sanctuary so he took his time, waiting with his men in a seemingly casual and nonchalant ease. They took time to quench their thirsts at the well, check their armour and their horses, all the while listening for something…
Arthur heard it, a faint sound off in the distance… most assumed it was but another bird calling, but Arthur knew different. He signaled his men to mount their horses and be ready to ride out of the Abbey on his command. The others were thrown off guard by the approaching legion of Arthur’s own army. As his army, led by his trusted knight, Eric, crossed the Bridge, Arthur led his small group out to join them. Thus it became a well matched battle that occured on that field. For all that it was well matched and even, it was still a blood bath of soldiers against each other. And, for a time it did appear that the other faction might gain ground and take the battle. Their hopes soared mightily when more by accident than anything else, one of the traitors, Arthur’s own nephew, Mordred drew a mortal blow against his uncle. Arthur lay dying on the field, along side his nephew whom he had slain as a last victorious effort.
From within the Abbey, the women had watched out the barred windows the battle taking place. She had left her corner of solace, carrying Ainor with her to the window to view the scene. Upon seeing Arthur go down, she had screamed in piercing agony and all rational thought left her mind. Unthinking of anything else, she had flown out of the Abbey towards the bloody ground where the fighting still went on around Arthur’s body. The women all screamed together and tried to stop her from going. The result was more horror as men from that opposing army saw chance to hit Arthur’s legion even deeper by cutting his once well protected family down as well. The battle became chaos as those others launched attack on women and children on hallowed ground. Arthur’s army of men had to divide their forces and their attentions now between the battle on the field and the massacre on the Abbey grounds.
Arthur lay gravely wounded on the field, unable to do anything but pray for divine intervention or miracle to be on their side. His last sight before losing his consciousness was that of his wife racing toward him through a mass of horses and swords, their daughter in her arms. Before she could reach him, she was slain with a sword that so narrowly missed their daughter. She had fallen close to him on that field, the sword still piercing her belly and blood spewing out to cover her and Ainor both. The small one was so terrified that she could not utter a cry, and would not for a very long time afterwards. She had lain on that field of heather near to her husband, the glorious and valient king,one arm reaching out towards him while the other clutched and wrapped around their daughter. Her last breaths had been spent singing that lullaby to her child, trying to keep her silent in the midst of the screams around them.
Some time later, the battle had ceased… Arthur’s army had proven themselves victorious in spite of all odds and despite their king falling in the battle. Eric the Northman had found the Royal couple fallen so close together that their fingertips touched. Arthur was still breathing but barely had life left in him. What life that was left was fading fast and Eric’s one and only thought at that moment was to breathe life back into his king, his friend for all of eternity. He did what thought came first to him, he moved close and shared the drops of blood from his own wound with the man. He forced the blood of his life into Arthur’s mouth and willed the man to swallow. Eric wept as he did this, knowing that it might not be enough to save him, and even if it did, what would the consequence be for the future.
All the while he was trying save Arthur’s life, little Ainor sat soulfully solomn, mute, still clutched within her dead Mother’s arm. She was soaked in her Mother’s blood and being so young, did not understand any of what was taking place, only that her Mother was quietly sleeping next to her so still and cool.
Arthur gained a small bit of consciousness finally, and drew Eric close to him to whisper with great difficulty, “Take me back to Avalon, it is finished here for now…” He took in a ragged breath and heard the barest and faint sound from close to him. Opening his eyes, his vision much blurred, he groaned and cried, “Ohhh Gods in the heaven, she is alive!” His breathing was labored and his thoughts not very clear, he reached a hand to his daughter, who attempted to reach back to him. By this time, the other trusted knight, Adrian DeWare had come to their side and knelt down to carefully pull the little child out of her Mother’s arm so tightly clenched around her yet even in death.
Adrian brought the child close to Arthur so that the man could use what little strength he had to wrap his own arm around his daughter. Adrian spoke quietly and carefully, “Arthur, what do you want us to do? With you, with her, with the future of this realm”
Arthur was in great pain and spoke slowly, “Adrian, you must take her with you into the time slip… Her place is not in Avalon for now… Mayhaps someday but not now.” Arthur’s words were broken by quickened breaths and by tears shed for his daughter’s future and fate. “I must return to Avalon but she must remain here to learn the ways of the people and of the future. I can not take her with me.” He paused for a moment to think more clearly through the haze in his mind, “There is a linen in her Mother’s things… a prayer linen of her Mother’s people and their ways. Wrap her in that and take her through the slip to somewhere safe where we can watch over her.” With those words, it seemed that Arthur might fade away once more. He was quiet for some time, holding his daughter close whispering love into her ear in a final attempt at one last hint of a smile from her… Adrian left in search of that linen and Eric knelt with the two, keeping close guard over them. He wept openly for his friend and softly asked once more, “what should be done as to the future of this realm? Should we remain and fight for it… or should we now let pass to the people to do what they will?”
Arthur, with eyes half closed and attention on Ainor, murmured sadly, “Let them do what they will… I have done all I can for this dark time. The rule will pass to Constantine and it will be a bloody fight long into the future until someone can put it to some rights again.”
Later, as they prepared to leave, the crown was silently passed on to that relative, Constantine who had supported Arthur well and loyally in his reign but would do great damage in his own reign. A request was made from Arthur before they secretly carried him away, “Bury my wife by this Abbey, etch her name in her ancient Gaelic Fairie language so that none but she and other Fairies shall know where she remains. She will not be disturbed and abused in death as she was in life. Let her find her peace here on hallowed holy ground. Someday, her spirit will heal and she will be needed again.” Eric had done as his friend wished, buried the fragile and broken young Queen in the hallowed ground and prayed for rest to her broken spirit. He had etched her name lovingly upon the stone in her ancient language, Guinivere of Pendragon… then added a smaller, finer inscription, beloved queen of Camalon. He used the fairie wording for that place that she had come to know as her true home.
There was one last thing to be done as they took their leave of this battle field. The small amount of Eric’s blood was scorching through Arthur’s veins and he felt some temporary relief… enough for him to carry out one final act and end to his reign here. Earlier on the field, the crown had quietly been passed to his relative Constantine but Arthur had one parting council with that man. He needed to appear strong enough to carry this last act out. In the darkest of the night, he met with Constantine and left him with words of advice as they all watched such a blazing inferno as few had ever seen before. The flames seemed to stretch so high as to lick at the sky and the fire could be seen from miles around. The once gleaming white towers of Castle Camelot now glowed a brilliant mix of gold, orange and red leaping flames filled with glitterings of silver.
Constantine looked as though he might cry like a child in watching this place he had thought to inherit explode like fireworks in the night sky. Arthur stood by watching his Castle disapper into ash and spoke these words to his successor, “That place was mine by right and hard fought for. It was well earned, well fought for and it was my legacy, no one else’s to claim.” He faced Constantine and gave the man a cold look, “You may have a crown, but you shall begin again from scratch. If you desire such a place for your own, then you must prove your worth to your people, work for it and earn it on your own merits, not mine.” With that he left Constantine standing in the ruins of Camelot and disappeared into the night with his trusted knights.
The haunted young woman stood still staring out at the field, her eyes wet with tears from the recall of her life, the bitterness and betrayals, the joys and the deep sadness of it all. Her body shook with sobs as she felt all of it and knew now why she had not left this place. The older woman reached out and pulled her into loving arms to hold her and ease the grief she felt. She whispered in the young woman’s ear, “Hush now, Dearest girl, it is over long ago, you must set aside the sorrow and the guilt once and for all.” She slowly led her back to the Abbey and the ancient stone marker. “Read that now, reclaim your name and your spirit.”
The girl knelt at the stone and traced her fingertips over the worn etched words by that long ago loyal friend. Her voice trembled as she read it and spoke her name after being so long forgotten and not acknowledged. “Guinivere of Pendragon, much loved Queen of Camalon..”
She stood up, summoned the inner pieces of strength left in her soul and repeated again, “ Guinivere, I am Guinivere. Wife of Arthur, Mother of Ainor, daughter of Gwyther…” Her eyes filled with tears again as she voiced her pain, “My daughter, what of my dearest daughter Ainor? What has become of her.”
She looked around the Abbey Stones in dread, searching the words on them. “Last I saw and felt of her, she was alive.” She turned to the Abbess and went willingly back into those arms of comfort as she buried her head against the woman’s chest and cried. “I am the cause of all of this, I am filled with shame and guilt that I can not overcome, my remorse will carry with me through an eternity for all that I have done. I cost my husband his kingdom, his crown, his life and his one joy… If I should have cost her life as well, then why should I remain here, better I should follow to the depths and the fires of Hades to repent ever more.” She could not contain the flood of tears and guilt filled moans. “Why have you come to cause me to face this, it is it now finally my time to enter those flames? If that should be the reason, then I shall go willingly to that fate.” She removed herself from the comfort of the Abess’ love and stood up to her straightest. “I shall not weep or beg for mercy, I shall accept my eternal damnation… I have sinned most greviously against this world and will take what ever punishment the Gods deem that I deserve for it.”
The Abbess smiled softly at Guinivere. Her spirit was returning, her inner strength was gaining, although it was pointed much in the wrong direction at this moment. It was a start though. She brushed a tear from the girl’s face and spoke to her in a soft, easing manner, “Ahhh well, tis a fine speech, full of determination and retribution on your part, but the Gods want none of that for you, my child. You shall not burn in those flames any time soon, nor ever if they have anything to say about it. Your work and your repentence is best done right here in this world.” She sighed as Guinivere looked at her in concern, “first of all, cease your guilt over any of this. It will do no one any good, least wise yourself. That battle would have happened one way or another. Your husband knew that well… and, he did not die that day so you did not cause his death. You only caused his leaving a bit earlier than he intended, but it still did turn the way it was suppose to.” She watched as Guinivere took a slight breath and let one guilt fade.
“As to that precious one, your daughter… Yes, you did an unthinkable act, took such risk with her young life and placed her in much precarious danger. That will take much repentence on your part to atone for those actions which have shaped her life thus far and into the future. Your daughter does live, but has had and will have much peril in her life. She is still in danger and the events of that day will follow her through her travels through life. The young Ainor, now Eleanor was saved from the wrath that would have destroyed her just because of her mere existance. You put her in peril, but she would eventually have faced it anyway, or even a far worse fate should she have remained to inherit that kingdom of people who wanted no part of her sitting upon that throne.” The Abbess stroked Guinivere’s arm and pulled her close again as she continued,
“You acted unwisely and unthinkingly in those days but you were not all to blame for it, and the child was placed out of harm’s way at least temporarily. If anyone should take the blame, it should be your Father and those men who used him as their pawn. He willingly went along with those plots, he was easily decieved and much swayed by thoughts of gold and riches. The man did not see the riches he had in his heart and his life already. With you and with Ainor, he would have had the fullest riches that life could offer, yet he could not see past his greed for material things.”
The older woman showed her annoyance and disgust of that man and one other in her voice. “There is one other to blame in this, the one who set your Father to thinking of such things… The man who legends now mistakenly deem as some sort of hero in all of it…” she showed more irritation on her face and in her voice. “Achhhhh, I’ve heard those silly romantic renderings and ballads, how they oft disgrace your name and your morals and point him as some sort of hero.”
Guinivere voiced her confusion, “Legends? I am of some sort of legend now, my name has not been forgotten? And, I am accused of ill moral? What is this you speak, and who is such a man?. I knew of no other man more a hero than my husband.”
The Abess shrugged in her distain and her distaste for having to share the story but, she had brought it up so she must finish it. “Twas, Ancelot, the one who vowed he was ever loyal to you and to Arthur. Ancelot, that manservant of your Father’s whom he sent to Arthur to keep watch over you. Ancelot overstepped his boundaries and felt slighted that your Father chose to wed you to Arthur. For some reason, Ancelot was of the thought that you and he would be wed? I know nothing of why he should have reasoned that? Perhaps you know more of it than any of us.”
Guinivere hung her head and sighed sadly, “My Father oft made mention of such things when I was a child… He would tease Ancelot and hold me out as a possible prize to his men. I can remember him, when he had partook of too much ale, laughing with his men, promising that one day, I should be in need of a fine husband and which of them would be worthy enough for me?” She showed now, her own frustrations. “When my Father announced his plan for me to wed Arthur, Ancelot was dismayed as were all of those other men. Ancelot did seem to take it much harder though and voiced his negative opinions of the plan quite loudly.
My Father thought to quiet his dissent by offering him instead, my sister, Gwenhwyfach. They were wed but, not very happily… Gwenhwyfach always accused him of puttings his heart and his affections elsewhere above her. She was much resentful of me, insisting that it should have been her to go to Arthur as she was the eldest daughter. My Father reasoned that it was her place to stay within the Forest realm and that she should be honored that she would rule the Forest realm with Ancelot as her king one day. After their marriage and the birth of thier child, my Father felt secure that there was an heir to that kingdom so he sent Ancelot to Arthur’s court to learn of this outside world and to watch over me. That only increased Gwenhwyfach’s anger and resentments. She deemed it unworthy that her husband should spend his time at our court as my protector. After all, as she oft put it, What did I need with his protection when I had Arthur. Ancelot proved himself loyal and honorable over and over again to us. We would have no doubts or concerns of his loyalties.” Guinivere shook her head in clear concern. She bade the Abess to go on with the supposed legends.
“Some of the legends speak of your betrayal of Arthur, of your feelings for Ancelot and that you went behind Arthur’s back to indulge your passions for Ancelot… They portray Ancelot as a vicitm of your cunning and your deception of your king and husband.”
Guinivere gasped in some self rightiousness at this. “I never had affections for that man in such a way and I never betrayed my vows, my marriage or my husband like that in actions or deeds!” She was angry at such an accusation. “Who would say such things about me? Who would want my name, my memory so besmirched throughout time with such lies?” Her previous despair and sorrow were replaced with a feeling of self worthiness and pride that had been mistreated through the ages by someone. “I know that stories and legends all begin with smatterings of truths in their original tellings, or of lies planted by those telling the start of those stories. I must think now that someone chose to pass on stories of me in a bad light, that they intentionally maligned my good name and character to cause others to look better… or so they themselves would not be looked on in such a bad light.” She was grim in her thoughts on this. “I must believe that the ones who chose to start such stories were ones who were bitter and resentful of me… and that would leave my sister, Gwenhwyfach. She who was so mysteriously absent from our Forest keep when I visited there, and who never did return there. Now that my mind and my heart are less heavy and clouded, I can think clearer of that time. She was away as were her children, My Father said she was visiting the higher lands for a time. Ancelot, he did escort me there… and now I think of it, he made much of often reminding me of my Father’s desire to see me and how he was not well. Shortly after delivering me to my Father, he left with the excuse of traveling to see after Gwenhwyfach and their children. He swore he would not be away for long and that he would return shortly with Gwenhwyfach. Of course he never did return to aid in any defense of us on that day we were attacked.”
Guinivere’s eyes were lit with some fire now as she remembered more and felt in her heart that she knew the truest traitors of all. Her sister went much un-remembered in time, but her husband shined as much as Arthur through those passed down legends. And, her sister’s final deepest cut of revenge was to not let Guinivere’s name go unforgotten, but be smeared with some doubt and shame upon it for the ages.
The Abbess felt Guinivere’s own resentment and had to remind the young woman to walk the higher road, to hold her head high as that once revered Queen she had been, to forgive but not forget… She brought Guinivere back to the more important matters at hand. “Child, I must remind you that revenge and vengance are not yours to meet out but God’s. You now know the truth of it, and that in itself should be the ease of your conscience and your thoughts. We have far more important matters to address now that you have regained your spirit and your thoughts are cleared.”
Guinivere had some doubts on that but kept them to herself as she looked to her mentor for more answers. “So, what is now so much more important and what is my purpose here.” She then had another serious thought as she stared out at the land that appeared much changed in many other ways since she had last viewed it clearly. “Much of this place looks vastly different now… Tell me please just how much time has passed. How much time have I spent cloaked and shrouded in my pain and sorrow.”
The Abess sighed and tried to answer the girl in a way that would not overly frighten her. “My child, time has such a way of passing and going on about us… And from the heaven’s standpoint, it has little meaning as we are truly eternal.”
Guinivere waved her hands in frustration at the woman. “Acchhh, Get on with it and tell me plainly if you please… I know you are stalling in some excuse so I should warrant that a great deal of time has went on without me. Especially since you make much of the fact that I and others, have become that which legends are created around. Legends and myths do not just appear over the span of but a few years, but more of some centuries.”