The Restoration Cycle

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Sir Basil

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As the serf was hunting, Igris was hunting also, he found bits of mossy fabric, possibly from a dress worn by one of the fine ladies of Camelot. He found part of what had been a book, though the pages inside had rotted away in the heavy rain. A fragment of a sword hilt here, a clasp that he knew had belonged to royal armor. He sighed, and dusted some of the muck and grime off of his green tunic - though it probably would have blended in with the colour. He looked up, remembering the grand arched ceiling that had covered these halls, and sheltered the knights from sleet and hail. He remembered, as a child, when the court wizard turned the ceiling blue and filled it with stars, telling their fortunes by the planets and the nebula. He remembered what the old wizened wizard had said about him. You shall restore what has been taken, Igris the Lionhearted. He knew what that meant now. He would recover Camelot, and the world would go back to being what it was.
Igris heard the serf's question and turned to him, looking at the sheet of paper he was holding. It had survived the rain with no decay or mold. Magic, Igris thought with wonder, Just magic. He took the sheet away from the serf and read it, carefully. He knew the hand that it had been written with. It was the hand of his uncle, Sir Gareth, a man that he had always known to be pure of heart and completely unlike his other uncles.

He read it, cautiously, out loud, "My dear Igris - Merlyn told me that this letter would be read by you many days after I died. He's gone now, to be with his tree spirit, Nimue, he's been gone for some time, but he told me what must happen. I must write you this letter and say that Mordred took the sword Excalbiur far to the north, past the ruins of that old emperor's wall . I'm not certain why Arthur would give the sword to that dreadful child, but I'm sure that the meaning of that phrase will be clear to you, by the time you read this letter. Merlyn assured me that you grew up a tall strong boy, and will restore honour to our name. I hope, I hope, I hope. Your father is talking of war with Mordred... I hope nothing comes of it. Love from myself, and Lynette..." Igris trailed off. The thought of Gareth writing this letter knowing the entire situation but not knowing how it would play out was unbearably sad to him.

He looked at his serf, Howel, with water in his eyes not from the rain. He swallowed hard, "He's dead too. Tomorrow, we ride to Hadrian's wall all the way up in the land of the Scots. But we will rest here, at least, for a bit."
 
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Fluffy

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For a moment, Howel was actually excited because he did something useful outside of farming. Hearing the knight's change of tone, though and the somber words of 'died', 'dreadful', 'war'... Eagerness turned to sorrow as he listened on. From the sounds of things, Igris had no family left. If he did, they must have been elsewhere. That had to be lonely.

The moisture in the man's eyes was instantly noticeable when their gazes met. Even the mightiest had weaknesses; Howel knew that very well. A second, he looked to the sky as it cried with Igris. This one time, he decided not to resent the gloomy weather. It was fitting for the moment, even if some sunshine might make the day a little more cheerful.

"Some rest sounds nice," Howel said, deciding against verbal sympathy for the loss of Gareth. Instead, he put his arms around Igris for a brief embrace, giving his body a squeeze. It was a quick display of affection, meant to help him feel better, if just a little bit. Hopefully he wouldn't mind and also, he hoped he got none of the knight's clothes dirty.

"Would you like me to get your horse for you?" he offered, stepping away with a meek smile.
 
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Sir Basil

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Igris smiled weakly when Howel embraced him. It was a nice feeling, the warmth of another person holding you close, especially in this miserable drizzle that had coated all of Briton. When Howel left him, stepping away, the knight sighed a little, feeling the cold breeze blow into him once more. He looked at the serf. The boy seemed as if he honestly wanted to help him, and that earnest nature was worth the world in an age of poverty. Igris bowed his head, and dropped the letter. He was weak. He knew that. Galahad wouldn't have crumbled like this. Galahad would have gone and found Excalibur right away.

What would his father think of him?
He wondered to himself. Agravaine the Butcher would have probably told him to get back up his feet and stop sobbing like a woman. That had always been Agravaine's way. Igris raised his head, and the tears were gone from his eyes. He swallowed, roughly, and tried not to think of Gareth. "Please, retrieve the horse," He ran a hand through his damp and matted hair, and laid a hand on Howel's shoulder, and pointed with his other had to a seemingly dry place under the ruin of a column and part of the roof, "We'll camp there. I believe I can start a fire,"

The knight stood up, and began to walk the opposite direction, calling over his shoulder, "I'll gather some wood."
 
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Fluffy

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After looking to where Igris pointed, Howel made a solemn nod and made a quick smile at the mention of fire. That would be comforting and warm; he looked forward to it.

Locating the horse was easy. They didn't wander too far and he used some signs to help guide him. There were certain pieces of debris he remembered from earlier, as well as broken valuables that lost their shine. He could tell that Camelot was once a beautiful place to be. The serf wished he could have seen it before it crumbled.

Once he approached the horse, he gave the animal a kind pet along the snout, using the affection as a way of reminding how friendly he was. He then took hold of the reign so he could guide the horse back to its master. Howel was good with animals; they always seemed to get attached to him. It probably had to do with his gentle demeanor, plus he learned how to care for them back at his home.

"I bet you're tired," he said to the horse, smirking to himself for talking to it. They made their way to the spot Igris mentioned for camp and waited for the knight to return with firewood.
 
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Sir Basil

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Igris went for wood, trudging through grass and mud that tried to suck his feet down into the earth. Every step was an exercise, trying to slog his way to a patch of forest, where he saw several pieces of soggy wood. With the wood in such a state, it would be a trial to get the fire lit, with the wood being as damp as it was, the flint that Igris had with him would probably have very little affect on it. He sighed, and grabbed a bundle of the driest wood he could find, some shielded from the rain under the thick canopies of the trees. He began to move back towards the walls of Camelot when something caught his eye.

A rose. A rose growing right on the edge of the wall, encircled by briar and dying flower pushes. Over-watered, he assumed, noticing the black rot that seemed to coat the leaves. The rose though, the rose was beautiful. It was small, for a rose, and had soft white petals tinged with the very traces of peach. It was the only bright thing in a thicket of grime and mud. Igris shifted his load of wood to rest under on o fhis arms, and looked at the rose curiously. He looked about the area. The garden. This had been the garden of the queen, the garden that Arthur built for her out of marble bricks and love. The knight plucked the rose from it's vine, his leather gloves protecting him from the sharp thorns. He held it carefully, making sure it didn't bend.

He walked back to the arch, setting his wood down. He smiled at the serf and gave him the rose, "Here. A little souvenir from Camelot," He began to stick the wood, kneeling infront of it. He dug around in his pockets before finding a piece of flint and steel, which he began to rub together, attempting to set the wood ablaze with a spark.
 
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Fluffy

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Howel took a seat on the ground, using a chunk of wall as support to lean on. It wasn't the most comfortable recline, but he liked this better than home. All was silent between him and the horse. There was nothing to talk about; nothing to say. To a horse, especially. Even if the knight was around, Howel wouldn't be able to think of any decent conversation.

When Igiris returned, the serf immediately sat back up with his back straight, his sapphire eyes looking to the man with some cheer. He had no doubts his new master would return. The environment got lonely, was all.

Howel to the flower presented to him, squinting as a thorn pricked his index finger. No vocal complaints were made. A tiny, bleeding wound was nothing compared to what soreness he gained everyday in physical labour. He took a moment to admire the beauty of the petals. The rose was unlike any flower he'd ever seen before! A small smile formed on his face, the flower brought to his nose so he could inhale the scent.

"It's very nice. Thank you. I've never gotten a present before," he said to Igris gratefully. Now more cautious of the thorns, he moved the flower to his other hand so he could place his bleeding finger into his mouth. The blood flow would stop soon enough. With interest, he watched the knight work on starting a fire.
 
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Sir Basil

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Igris watched his take the rose, wincing when it pricked him. The pearl of blood that slid down his finger an d then was placed in his mouth to cease it. It was charming, in a way, but the boy's hands were so dirty that Igris knew that it couldn't be good for him. The boy needed a bath in the worst away. Near Camleot, there was a river. All castles were built near rivers back in those days - and the one near Camelot was a slow flowing dream of a river. The poison that Mordred had thrown into it had been washed downstream by this point. He'd take Howel there, and give him a bath. Besides, perhaps they could find a ferry that would take them through the meanders of the river to the Lake.

Igris had never been to the temple at the Lake, bu he knew that it existed, and what it looked like. He thought about the lapping waves of the green-grey stormy beach of the loch. They temple too, half cracked in two, with the face of the horned one superimposed over the tree the temple was built all around. He thought of this as he threw sticks into the fire that he steadily had managed to work into a passable camp fire. He smiled at Howel and outstretched his hand, "Let me see your finger," he said gently, "I'll wrap it up."
 
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Fluffy

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The taste of his blood never was anything pleasant. He was oftentimes malnourished because of poor conditions serfs lived in. All the dirt on his hands added to the gross flavour. Howel made no complaints, though. Not even a wrinkling of his nose or a frown. Expressing any kind of negativity seemed inappropriate, since he was already beginning a better life.

Slowly, he pulled his finger from his mouth, stretching his arm in Igris' direction. "Thank you, sir," he replied with a smile. "Sorry, it was clumsy of me to hold the rose like that."

Smiling sheepishly, his eyes went to the fire that was just built. The warmth was soothing for his aching, cold body. Howel continued to stare, almost looking hypnotized by the dancing flames.
 
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Sir Basil

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Igris stood up, and walked over to the young man, sitting down next to him so that the serf wouldn't have to risk burning his hand in the fires. He took Howel's hand in his, and dug through a satchel that hung at his side, pulling out a length of pure white cloth, thin and light, which he began to wrap around the bleeding finger. Without proper treatment it was likely to get worse, fester, but for now it would be fine like this. Igris huddled near him, pulling his heavy cloak from his shoulders and draping it over the boy. He stood up, and went to his horse, pulling several rolled lengths of cloth from its back.

Blankets, thick woolen blankets, enough to keep him warm and safe from the rain, even in his bare skin. His tabard was slick, and his chainmail was uncomfortable, sticking to his skin from the moisture of the rain. He had to take it off. So he began to, taking off his gauntlets, first, undoing the leather straps, setting the pieces of leather on the ground near the fire to warm them so they wouldn't warp from the wetness. He slid off his tabard and chain, with some difficulty, revealing a wool shirt and some leather pants. He set his discarded clothes and armor near the fire to warm and dry - hopefully, enough so that they would keep the Knight warm and safe through this grand adventure and charade.

He smiled at Howel, feeling more comfortable, more relaxed, "You know so much about me, but I know so little about you. What was it like, living how you did?"
 
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Fluffy

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Howel didn't look up from his bandaged finger while Igris got more comfortable. He thought it would be a good distraction, so he continued to slowly investigate the wrapping around his digit as if it was something he never saw before. There was red in his face, too. That was definitely worth hiding... Being caught staring whilst blushing would have been embarrassing! Privacy was something he had to highly respect to the authorities of home.

When he looked back up, the knight looked much more comfortable. At that, he smiled back at him, he himself feeling more relaxed. There was something soothing about seeing another person in a state of bliss. Even if it was simply being relieved of leather and chainmail. Howel could tell that Igris spent a lot of time traveling with all that weight.

The smile turned wry when he was asked about how living was for him. Serfdom was nothing glamorous. Quite the opposite, actually. He knew 'serf' was just another word for 'slave'! Simply, a less cruel term, he supposed.

"I worked in the Lord's fields with the other serfs. Other people paid taxes with money; we paid with labour. The life of a serf is miserable, Sir Igris. Our only purpose is to work, work and work until we grow old and useless. For we are bound to the land," he explained with a gentle shrug. "We at least had protection. As long as we were good and loyal, we got protection from enemy forces."

There was really nothing else to say, that he could think of, except for why he fled. "I wanted something different, so I ran away, even knowing the danger of being caught or killed," he added, making a confident nod.
 
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Sir Basil

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Igris thought about this for a moment. His father had owned serfs, as had his mother before him. Serfs had always been a part of the life in England - well, until, Kign Arthur had come and said that all men were equal under him. That didn't stop Lords and Ladies far from his control owning them - like his father who had lived so far away, up in the Orkney Isles, away from the world of Camelot. He felt badly for his serf of a friend. And he realized that he had forgotten something very important. His young friend was still technically property, property that he had stolen from a Lord. His code of chivalry should have stopped him from doing that - but he supposed that he could justify it by saying that his young friend was merely being taken away from an abusive master and put under new management.

He smiled slightly at his friend, though the Knight looked worried, maybe a bit tired as well. Without his armor on, it was easier to get a better idea of who the knight was, exactly. His long dark red hair came around the middle of his neck. He had muscle, yes, but wasn't build broadly, and was in fact, rather compactly built. He was quite tall still, even sitting down. He looked over at the serf, "I promise you, that once I find what I'm looking for, I'll free you." He smiled a bit, "I've made a lot of promises to you. How you manage to get them out of me, I'll never know." He laughed pleasantly and poked at the embers of the fire with a stick, stirring some sparks.
 
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Fluffy

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Howel indeed noticed how different of a man Igris looked to be without his armour. Minus those heavy plates protecting his body, he looked more vulnerable and gentle. By no means something to target, though. The reveal of his tight, muscular build was something to fear.

Eyes went from the knight to the fire, his gaze once again locked on the swaying flames. There was something comforting about the sight of warm fire, especially with a man he could depend on for protection. For the first time he years, he could sleep soundly. He hoped so, at least. The drowsiness settling in his eyes was certainly promising that.

"Thank you, Master. I look forward to that day," he replied with a sleepy smile. The mentioned promises confused him, too. Howel never saw himself worthy of such sacred words, but clearly, this other fellow thought otherwise. "I do feel free, though. More free than I did behind those walls."
 
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Sir Basil

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Igris stirred the fire again gently, breathing in the warm scent of burning branches. All around their outpost, the rain was still falling heavily making a white noise patter on the remains of grass and the prevalence of mud. He stretched a bit, and shrugged, throwing the stick he was using to stir the embers into the flame. He handed one of the woolen blankets he had procured and gave it to Howel, who now hand that in addition to his cloak. The knight wrapped himself up in one, laying on the granite that was no longer cold, but rather steadily becoming something akin to cozy. He looked at the flames with his green eyes, watching them dance and sizzle. You would have thought that this place would have had enough fires. He thought to himself, rather solemnly, though the smile remained on his face.

He glanced at Howel, "Don't call me master," He said, "I don't want you as a serf," His voice was fairly flat, "I just require a traveling companion, and really, what else were you going to do? Wander away from your castle only to be picked up by a knight far less chivalrous than I," He smirked a bit, and curled up in the blankets, "Get some sleep. We have a lot of work ahead of us."
 
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Fluffy

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Howel smirked back at the knight, mentally shrugging at the words. Master was all he ever called the men with power over him. Sometimes Lord, sometimes Highness... Depended on who it was. Habits were hard to break, but this one couldn't be too hard. It was a significant aspect to his freedom, in his opinion. Every new privilege was worth more than Igris realized.

"Good night," he said simply, watching briefly as Igris got comfortable in the blankets. As for Howel, it would take some time for him to fall asleep. The flower he held was set gently onto the ground beside him. His pockets weren't suitable homes for it; they were filthy and probably full of holes. He would carry the plant around by hand forever if he had to. It was his first gift ever, so he would treasure it.

In time, though, he drifted off to slumber. The serf fell asleep against a stone slab he had been sitting against, his long, golden bangs blanketing his eyes.
 
S

Sir Basil

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Igris watched the younger man sleep for a moment. The young man looked at peace, as if the knight had saved him, rather than kidnapped him. Igris hoped that was what he had done - save him. He wasn't certain, to some degree he felt like he shouldn't have done it. But travelling without a companion all the way up, past the wall would be too much to bear. He hadrd that beyond the wall the old ways still existed, as if Christianity had never come to them. Igris clenched his fists, hearing his knuckles pop. Magic past the wall, magic that hadn't forgiven his father, and wouldn't forgive him for being his father's son. The Knight sighed, and laid down - close, but not too close to his young compatriot.

He looked up at the stars for a moment, though they were half shielded by stars and trees, he could still spy bits and pieces of constellations. The Knight felt his eyes get heavy. Tomorrow, they would ride to what was left of the wall, and from their... from their he wasn't sure. The blade would either be found or it would be lost forever. But if he could just find it....

Enough thinking, he told himself inwardly, as he rolled over. He closed his eyes tight, and steadily began to get carried off to sleep.
 
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Fluffy

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The morning was very early, considerably. Howel had a habit of always waking with the sun, because that's when he'd start his work. As much as he hated the taxing chores, he still called himself a morning person. He was rarely grouchy when getting out of bed and never risked any punishment by fitting in an extra five minutes of sleep. Other serfs mistook his energy in the mornings as an eagerness to work, therefore earning him an odd reputation amongst them.

Birds were tweeting beyond the walls of their 'camp', at which he smiled. The only animals he ever heard back at home were horses, sheep and other whiny farm animals. Serene ones like birds rarely dropped by, unless they were screaming crows...

A fist rubbed at one of his eyes as he sat up, his mouth opening widely to let out a yawn. This morning, he felt especially good, even though the sky continued its dull shade of gray. He woke up nearby his traveling companion; his saviour. There was no reason to be anything other than happy.

Now, the problem was that he didn't know what to do with himself. Should he look for food? Should he tidy up their camp? Should he care for the horse? Quite adorably, he scratched at his head of golden, albeit filthy, hair while tilting his head, giving a puzzled stare to the horse, as if he expected the animal to know what to do!