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Futuristic ♕ Camelot | ellarose & Syntra

Sub Genres
Action, LGTBQ, Magical

ellarose

wanderer
“Can you imagine the look on Arthur’s face if he knew that I could best his most prestigious knight in battle?” Guinevere stands tall and triumphant, but smiles like a child as she sheathes her sword. “Can you?”

Lancelot shakes his head and laughs as she helps him to his feet. She watches expectantly as he recovers, dusting himself off and sheathing his own blade with a practiced sort of ease.

“'Cause it would be priceless.” Guinevere adds through a smile that never wavers, still high off her win. Lancelot, being the good sport he is, returns it.

“I wouldn't doubt it, Guin--” Then he clears his throat, as he tends to do whenever he realizes he’s treated her a bit too familiarly. He bows his head slightly, abashed. “-- my lady.”

This is where the illusion shudders and shatters. Her smile vanishes along with it and she wrinkles her nose. Formalities. Gross. She'll never get used to them. Besides, it's not like she’s his queen. Not yet, anyway.

Guinevere needs these temporary escapades like she needs air in her lungs. The wind in her hair, the freedom to move and express herself however she pleases. She is more at home when she stands beneath the sky, no matter how dark and foreboding it might be, than she ever will be within castle walls. No matter how safe it might be. Arthur seems to think that he's going to change her mind. She can tell when he charts the freckles on her face with his eyes, when his stare lingers on the scar beneath her eye. He must think he's rescuing her from the life she had before. But what he doesn't know is that when she has her sword in hand, there is nothing for her to doubt-- least of all herself-- because she is one hell of a good fighter, a force to be reckoned with, a storm with skin. Not the awkward, unrefined fool, scrutinized under a microscope by royals in court.

“Remind me when I'm queen. I’ll have you executed for your insolence.” Guinevere huffs with a faux imperious air, turning away from him. She can hear him grapple with himself for a response, undoubtably scouring his mind for a way to compromise between her views and Arthur’s, to remain in both of their good graces at once. It's not an easy feat and she knows he takes his status as Arthur's knight seriously. It should be enough that he spars with her at all... so she supposes she'll let him live. But she isn’t paying attention to Lancelot anymore. Instead, her gaze is fixed on the sky, on the graying underbelly of the clouds. “It’s getting dark.”

“It is. We ought to head back.” Lancelot seems grateful for the change of subject. But Guinevere is less concerned with the night’s approach than she is with a certain woman. A woman whose sharpest glare could rival an icy stake through the heart. Goosebumps perk up on her arms.

Sparring with Lancelot kept her warm until this point. Now it's time to face reality. Cold castle floors and cold gazes from anyone she might pass in the halls. And especially cold gazes from-- Morgan.

Their lesson.

“Shit's sake! I’m not gonna to make it back in time.” Guinevere holds a hand over her eyes, massages her brow with her fingertips. Untamed wisps of blonde hair frame her face and stick to her forehead, still slick with sweat. There isn’t nearly enough time for her to bathe and comb her hair and make it to her lesson without missing it entirely. “Oh... she’s gonna kill me.”

“Who?”

“Morgan. Morgan is going to kill me.” Guinevere emphasizes and begins to pace. Unenthused as she is about these ‘lady-in-training lessons’, she isn't so indifferent to her circumstances that she would skip them on purpose. It's an honest, innocent mistake, really, to forget the time this way. Even so, she doesn’t envision Morgan listening with a sympathetic ear when it comes to excuses. A proper lady doesn't make excuses. A proper lady doesn't need to make excuses. But surely Morgan doesn't need to be told that Guinevere is, perhaps, the farthest thing from a proper lady.

“Now, now. She's not going to kill you.” Lancelot smiles like it's funny. But it isn’t funny.

“She hates me.” Guinevere presses.

“She doesn’t hate you.” Lancelot reassures.

“Yes, she does.” Guinevere reaffirms.

They carry on like this, just far enough away that they don't hear the deep, guttural growl of something beastly yet distinctly mechanical lurking nearby.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Morgan was used to waiting. And honestly, why shouldn't she be used to that? All her life had been about waiting; waiting for a chance, for a semblance of purpose, for this whole damn world to start making sense. Practice makes perfect, they said, and maybe it was true, too, for she waited patiently. The clock ticked - tick, tock, tick tock - while Morgan half-lay, half-sat on her sofa. It was an elegant pose, of course, because a lady always needed to be elegant. A concept more than a human, really. If someone entered the room right now, they would probably think she was waiting for an artist to paint her, or perhaps for a lover. The scene was, after all, quite striking; the whiteness of her skin against the black lace of her dress, her wild, curly bronze hair spread over the pillows, the way one of her legs was placed over the other. Too bad, then, that all of that was wasted on that brat. On the brat who failed to show up!

Guinevere. Just hearing that name filled her with-- well, with all kinds of feelings, none of which were particularly nice. It wasn't the girl's fault, of course; Morgan was not nearly as biased as to not recognize that. She couldn't be held responsible for Arthur's stupid decisions. His dreams of building a dynasty that would last a thousand years hadn't been put into his head by her, either, and from what she had heard, Guinevere hadn't exactly begged him to save her from whatever gutter he had pulled her out of. No, her little brother had thought of that all on his own. A foolish, greater-than-life ambition, just like Camelot itself. And considering how easily Arthur took whatever he desired? It wouldn't surprise her, really, if the other woman was the prey in this situation rather than the hunter. Still, there were gracious way to be a prey, and wasting her time decidedly was not one of them.

Morgan rolled her eyes. As if it wasn't enough that they forced her to look after her in the first place! Did she also have to deal with this brand of disrespect? Not that disrespect was a new concept in her life, but people generally at least had the decency to sneer at her behind her back. Insulting the dreadful witch, after all, wasn't seen as a wise strategy. Guinevere, though? The woman spat on all her efforts. She spat on her, too!

And what was worse, the sun was setting. The sun was setting, and that only meant one thing; soon enough, the streets would belong to them. To those without a name. (Morgan found that a little dramatic, honestly, because giving them a proper label would make it that much easier to discuss the issue, but-- that was kind of the point here, wasn't it? You didn't discuss problems in Camelot. You ignored them, and hoped for them to disappear.) Either way, the lack of a name changed nothing. The creatures would still come out, yearning for fresh blood, and Morgan... wasn't really responsible for this, not truly at least, but she was convinced they'd somehow manage to blame her for Guinevere's demise anyway. They always did. Morgan, their favorite scapegoat. Sometimes, she suspected that was the entire reason they even allowed her to live in their precious castle.

Reluctantly, Morgan headed out into the streets. The contrast always baffled her; it was difficult believe, really, that she had just... made a few steps outside, and not travelled a thousand of miles. Where Camelot was all gleam and sparks, the city itself was filth and old metal and lack of sheen, and strangely enough, Morgan reveled in it. This was the true state of things, after all. A world stripped of its pretty mask. She reached somewhere outside of her consciousness - for the place where spirits resided - and asked them where the damn girl was. And the spirits? They listened, and whispered into her ear, and Morgan followed them. (Her only true friends. How... terribly depressing.)

Unsurprisingly, she found Guinevere sparring with Lancelot. Wonderful. So this was what she had ditched her for? For childish games? Morgan managed to keep her expression neutral, but her gaze was downright icy.

"Sir Lancelot," she greeted him, "lady Guinevere. I am so glad that you found something more entertaining to do than my boring lessons. Truly, I am happy for you. Worry not about wasting my time; I wanted to spend my afternoon waiting for you anyway."
 

ellarose

wanderer
Guinevere straightens her spine instinctively at sound of Morgan's voice -- only to recognize the effect the other woman's voice has on her and reassume her typical, slouched posture out of spite. It's as though mentioning Morgan by name had somehow conjured her appearance. Almost the same way that mentioning mecha beasts in the wastes tended to bring them forth in waves. Truth be told, it does come as a surprise to her that she came looking for her at all. She could have taken the afternoon off and then retired to her room... or go wherever it is she goes once their lessons are through. The other woman had always given off the air that she had more important things she could be doing, too. Their mutual hatred for the lessons are, perhaps, one of the very few things they have in common.

She can see Lancelot bow respectfully in her peripheral, greeting Morgan as any proper knight should. Guinevere, meanwhile, does everything she can to avoid Morgan's chilling gaze. She could choose to spar with words, to be just as passive aggressive about the whole ordeal... but, then, she isn't so childish to ignore that, technically, she is the one in the wrong here.

Lancelot is watching her, now. She shoots him a glance out the corner of her eye that says without words... I told you so.

"The lessons are really boring." Guinevere blurts out. She scratches her cheek. This is going well. "But, um, I didn't mean to waste your time. Just lost track of time, y'know... I'm sorry."

Clumsy as she might be, at least her apology is genuine. Though she's often at odds with Morgan, she didn't intend to make her wait all evening out of malice. And who even knows how long it took for her to find her out here? The guilt she feels is tangible and she sets her pride aside to acknowledge it.

It's quiet for a beat. Guinevere's sure that Lancelot is holding his face in his hands mentally right about now. She has the bright idea to fill the gap with more words.

"Hey! Maybe we could invite you to spar with us next time? I mean, it can't be healthy to act like a proper lady all the time." She chances a glance at Morgan, despite her nerves warning her against it. Something in her chest flutters. "You can, uh, vent some of that pent-up aggression. Pretend all the training dummies have my face."
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Was-- was that supposed to be her idea of apology? Gods. Someone should probably explain to the poor girl that you generally did not insult the person you were trying to apologize to in the same breath, and as fate would have it, that someone was her. What had she done to deserve this? Had the gods perhaps sent Guinevere to her to punish her for her hubris? That wouldn't surprise Morgan. Gods, after all, had a twisted sense of humor; the fact that Arthur out of all people was her brother proved it. (That she had survived at all proved it, too, though Morgan preferred to not think about that. The less you thought, the less pain you had to face. A nice, easy principle to follow.)

"You know," Morgan said automatically. Just as usual, her tone was careful and measured, but... was that a shadow of surprise in her eyes? Perhaps due to Guinevere apologizing at all? Maybe. It had been quite the shock, especially considering just how blatant her disregard for manners was. Foolish, foolish girl. Did she not know that words could be a weapon, too? That, from now on, most of her battles would be fought with them? Well, that wasn't her problem. None of this was. "Not y'know. It is uncouth to speak in this manner. We'll also need to work on your ability to not say things that should remain unsaid, but I suppose it is fine for now." What? Considering how stingy Morgan tended to be with her praise, Guinevere should count herself lucky for this small bit of acknowledgment.

A small bit of acknowledgment she was beginning to regret, really, with the way this conversation developed. Morgan just... stared at Guinevere, letting the embarrassing silence speak for her. Our future queen, ladies and gentlemen. Arthur must have lost his mind, truly. Not that she didn't see why - for all her faults, the woman was quite beautiful - but damn. Just as you couldn't train a cat to act like a dog, you couldn't polish refinement where there was none!

For a second or two, Morgan seriously considered raising her voice. Then again, reprimands hadn't worked before, had they? No, perhaps a different strategy should be employed instead of banging her head against the metaphorical wall. A shock therapy, then? Out of nowhere, Morgan smiled, and it wasn't a pretty smile. More than anything else, it resembled the expression of a wolf shortly before it caught its prey.

"Are you trying to get me killed, lady Guinevere?" she asked her nonchalantly, as if that was a topic people discussed on the regular. "Surely you're aware of who I am. Of how closely I am watched and of the line that I have to walk. Do you think it a wise idea to give me a sword?" 'Do you think that everyone is as free as you are?' was the true question here, though Morgan didn't need to say it. Even wrapped in indirectness, that much was glaringly obvious.
 

ellarose

wanderer
Guinevere's attempt to be light and easygoing in the face of adversity slips beyond her grasp and a scowl starts to break through. It's a face Morgan advised her against time and time again during their first lesson. A face that clearly says without words that she loathes this backwards place. A man picks up a sword to do something productive and he's a potential hero, an honorable knight... a woman does the same and somehow she's out of her mind. But what they don't seem to realize is that outside the confines of their shiny palace is an uncaring world that can and will try to kill them. A world that raised her up to grow thorns, to fight back. And now she's being expected to clip all of her thorns, to be nothing more than a decoration rose that sits idly by their king's side. Perhaps described in the grand scheme of things as nothing more than 'Arthur's wife'. She feels more than a little pity for anyone who was raised with these views thrust upon them. Even though they ostracize her. And, she supposes, that includes Morgan.

"You know... if I wanted you dead, lady Morgan, you would know it without question." Guinevere schools her expression and smiles back, using her role as the clueless, innocent student as a shield. "It's like you said, isn't it? I'm an open book. I have this 'problem' saying things that shouldn't be said. And trust me, I have all these colorful words I use when I want something dead."

Lancelot looks like he's trying to decide if he should intervene before they actually try to kill each other.

"Where I come from, you need to know how to use a weapon if you want to survive. Don't good intentions count for something in the world of manners? I mean, I only meant to include you." Not to mention, she notices that Morgan tends to keep to herself. Guinevere wouldn't use that against her -- maybe she prefers it that way. Guinevere did, too, once upon a time. But maybe she doesn't. And if she doesn't, then at least the offer is there. But their lives are clearly too different. She takes a deep, consoling breath in through her teeth. "Besides... I'm not exactly privy to all the talk that goes on in this place. Guess I didn't understand the connotations."

Her cheeks turn slightly pink at the admission. She'll never get used to this place. Despite the shine that Arthur has taken to her, she isn't included in anything. While Morgan is clearly forced to deal with her, other women in Camelot tend to keep a good ten foot radius, like they're afraid that breathing the same air might infect them with whatever toxins she might have brought in with her from the wastes. Perhaps once she finishes her lessons and becomes an ideal lady, then she'll be tolerated and allowed to participate. (Not that she particularly wants to.) And, really, most the 'talk' she overhears would be better defined as gossip. Considering most of what she's overheard has been about herself, she knows it's all untrue. Exaggerated, dramatized, enough to entertain them... because their lives in the castle are probably too boring to bear.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Ugh. Alright, so that didn't work. How could someone miss the point so wildly? Was she trying to misunderstand her on purpose? Sometimes, Morgan could swear the two spoke a different language altogether. (Maybe they did. Morgan spoke a viper's language, indirect and deadly, her words subtle hints and promises, while Guinevere spoke like a thunder. Like someone who had never had to watch what they said. Like-- like a man, and perhaps Morgan resented her for that just a little bit.) Even through her biases, though, she could see that Guinevere didn't lie to her; the girl really was pathetically transparent. She truly meant her no harm, and... well, that was such a foreign notion that, for a while, Morgan had no idea what to do with it.

Only for a while, though. Morgan didn't need some naive girl's pity, after all. She had Avalon. Not only that; she also had herself, which was more than most of those lost in Camelot's charm could say. And solitude? Solitude was the mark of greatness, and Morgan was proud to bear it. Forging closer bonds with other people only ever led to weakness. Weakness and broken heart when they inevitably betrayed you. No, being able to keep her distance in a way many simply couldn't was a blessing. She wouldn't throw it away for some useless girl! (How had that thought even occurred to her in the first place? It... must have been the weariness, surely. Lack of sleep did terrible things to people.)

"How very moving," Morgan smirked, none of her little emotional crisis showing in her expression. No, the mask she wore was perfect. It had to be, really, otherwise Morgan wouldn't have lasted a single goddamn day in Camelot. "I think it's time to go, however. We can discuss the merits of good intentions inside the castle walls, as well as the philosophy behind proper manners. I'm sure you will find it most helpful, lady Guinevere." Or maybe not, but learning how to hold an actual conversation was something she just had to do, sooner or later. Queens did nothing but babble sweetly, after all. "I'm sure your training was... too engrossing for you to notice, but the sun is setting. At least you, sir Lancelot," Morgan turned to him with the frown of a mother scolding her child, "should have had the sense to watch the sky. What would you say to my brother if something were to happen to lady Guinevere?"

"I-- I am sorry, lady Morgan," Lancelot bowed, mostly to avoid her icy stare. "You are right, of course. Come, my lady. We can continue our training tomorrow."

It wasn't meant to be that simple, though. They had wasted too much time standing and talking; time they used to find them. Once her ears registered the strange, vaguely mechanical sounds - click, click, clack - she knew it was too late. And, indeed, in the next moment, a pack of what once used to be dogs emerged from behind the corner. The creatures were large, large and half-consumed by the metallic, flower-like growth on its back; it was hard to tell where the animal ended and where the machine began. It probably didn't matter, though. What mattered was the jaws full of sharp teeth, and the hunger in their eyes.

"See?" Morgan asked them impassively, as if that sort of thing happened to her every single day. "I told you."
 

ellarose

wanderer
Guinevere snorts and rolls her eyes. She's wasted enough breath on these people already. They conveniently forget that she's lived her whole damned life on the other side of their precious castle walls when it suits them, to remind her that she's Canelot's designated damsel who needs constant looking after. Or maybe Morgan's just doing it to piss her off. Either way, she doesn't have much time to take offense before they show up. Doesn't faze her in the slightest, though. Perhaps she'll let her actions do the talking for once. It's not as though she's had the opportunity to do so before.

"Hah, figures. You mention mecha beasts and the bastards appear in packs." Guinevere quips, like for once she's on Morgan's wavelength, and throws her shoulders back in preparation. She scans the pack with a trained eye, looking specifically for patches of organic flesh between flecks and columns of metal. The softest bits are their weakest points, easy to cut through with her blade. When in doubt, their stomachs are usually a safe bet -- but it can vary from creature to creature. Once she has a general idea of where to strike, she looks at Morgan. Does she need protection, or--? At a glance, it doesn't really seem like she does. "You're surprisingly composed."

Okay, fine. She's impressed. Perhaps she'll bring it up later, when they're not in the midst of a life-or-death crisis.

Guinevere unsheathes her sword and lowers her stance. Lancelot holds an arm out in front of her and she pushes past him. Right. He's here, too. Tasked with keeping her safe (which, she keeps insisting, isn't necessary)-- so she supposes he's there if Morgan needs him, too. Good. This is so much easier with her girls -- when they're together, they make quick work of these beasts, they move in perfect synchronization. Fluid, perfected to the point of near effortlessness, like a dance. They know each other's strengths and weaknesses. They look out for each other. It seems she'll have to improvise in this case. She gets along with Lancelot well enough, but they hardly know each other. And Morgan is, well, Morgan. Who even knows what she's going to do? Half the time she seems just as dangerous as mythically fearsome creatures in the wastes -- especially with the way she was grinning and baring her own teeth mere moments ago. She's a survivor in her own way.

"Oh, please. Your chivalry is wasted on me, sir Lancelot. Just cover me, okay?" Without giving any further explanation, she rushes the creature closest to her, dodges the snap of his jaws, and runs her blade through his neck in one clean, methodical sweep. There's a clang as she kicks the mostly metal body away from her and into the path of another beast. Of course, taking down one gives the others incentive to pounce -- but she's used to this, cool and level-headed, ready for them. From where she's standing, she can see Lancelot's jaw flopping like he's a fish out of water. Normally she might have felt a surge of pride... but right now there are more pressing matters to attend to. Eyes narrowed, focused, she swings her blade towards another one, halting its fast approach. "Aim for the bits with skin! The belly's usually a safe bet with this breed."
 
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Syntra

Baba Yaga
Had Guinevere expected her to be afraid? Her? Pfft. As if a few mechanical beasts could scare her! Unlike Arthur's valorous knights, she knew how they worked; what exactly had sparked life in the rotting corpses, and also what would extinguish it. Knowledge, after all, was a weapon. A weapon far more elegant than swinging around a cumbersome piece of metal, though Morgan decided to keep that opinion to herself for now. There was a time and place for petty arguments, and this decidedly wasn't one of them. "I haven't lived in Camelot for so long as to forget what the outside world looks like, lady Guinevere," she said quietly, without her usual poison. Arthur and others would have liked that to be true, but oh, did her memory serve her well. Morgan had given up many things, both tangible and intangible, though she did have her limits. Their precious Camelot couldn't strip her of everything.

At the beginning, Morgan was content to watch. And why not? Guinevere had been so proud of her skills, really, that it would have been cruel to not let her showcase them. Lancelot, too, was probably itching for an opportunity to make himself look useful. (Knights claimed to be heroes, those thanks to whom Camelot thrived, but as far as Morgan was concerned, they were a burden. Yes, a burden. Considering how many people never left the castle walls, why did they need to kill the nameless ones anyway? To prove that there was some meaning to their existence? To win a naive maiden's heart? Everything about this arrangement was such a joke that not bursting into laughter was a testament to her willpower.)

Guinevere, though. Once again, the girls hadn't lied to her; her movements were both elegant and effective, and as she cut her way through the battlefield, Morgan couldn't help but admire her. This was a warrior, she thought. A warrior molded by the wastelands, not one of those empty-headed blokes in shiny armor who fought for some ill-defined notion of honor. No, from the way she moved, Morgan could tell that this was a survivor. Her skills would become irrelevant within a few months when her duties would consist of sitting on the throne and bearing Arthur's heirs, sure, but for now, Guinevere was here and deserved some sort of recognition. And if that recognition was only Morgan's head? Well, there were worse things in this world.

Lancelot tried his best not to fall behind, too, but his experience was more theoretical than practical, and it showed. Three beasts surrounded him, snarling and baring their teeth. He would probably take one of them down, Morgan supposed, but not two and certainly not three. Soon enough, he would find himself bleeding out in the streets, his flesh serving as sustenance for those he was meant to hunt. A beautiful, natural cycle. Still, the man didn't really deserve death; Lancelot was better than most of Arthur's knights. Unlike many of them, he actually believed in his stupid ideals. Perhaps that was part of the reason Morgan looked deep inside of herself, focused on the thread binding the spirits to the bodies - oh, yes, there it was - and pulled at it. She did so carefully at first, almost as if not wanting to spook the creatures. Just a few slight tugs, nothing more. Lancelot shouted something, though what was it? Morgan couldn't tell. When in this state, the rest of the world felt so distant; like a fragment of a half-finished dream, or perhaps the memory of last summer. His despair was tangible, however, and so she yanked at the thread instead. The effect was immediate. A guttural scream rippled through their bodies, all at the same time, and then they collapsed on the ground, writhing in spasms.

"Now, I'm not an expert," Morgan said, her voice tinged with sarcasm, "but I'd advise you to run. It won't last forever. The spirits have a tendency to reconnect to their hosts all on their own, I'm afraid." It would be quite fascinating from a scholar's standpoint, actually, if this wasn't a life or death situation. That made it decidedly less interesting and a lot more of a nightmare fuel type of scenario.
 
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ellarose

wanderer
Guinevere makes quick work of two more creatures before she checks to see how Lancelot is faring. He’s surrounded, his stance shaky and uncertain. Yikes. Not quite the hero she envisioned. Especially after Arthur spent an obnoxious amount of time (hours-- several hours) bragging about the strength of his kingdom and his knights. Now she sees firsthand that he's all talk. Unsurprising. And... and Lancelot's supposed to be the best of them? Perhaps he’ll need these sparring sessions more than she does. Out of the goodness of her heart, she’d offer to train Arthur’s knights... but she has a hunch they’ll take offense and tell her it isn’t a woman’s place. Darn shame, that. Their loss.

Seeing how he struggles, her gaze darts instinctively to Morgan. She’s okay, which comes as a relief. Guinevere doesn’t have much time to process what the other woman is focusing her energy on before she has to pivot towards a mecha beast that chooses that instant to launch itself at her. It's all sharp teeth and claws, eager to tear into her right arm. She sidesteps not a moment too soon, suffering no more than a scratch for her distraction. She gives the beast a once-over for weaknesses and tries to maneuver herself in Lancelot’s direction at the same time, so she can give him the assist he needs when she's able. “Hold on, I’m--”

Suddenly she's interrupted by a horrible sound-- an unnatural mashup of animalistic yowling and static. There’s silence for a moment. Then, in a clamorous finish, the mecha beast she’s facing drops in a jumble of limbs and machinery at her feet. As she surveys the area, she finds that all of the beasts have collapsed, as though their collective off switch had just been pushed. “What the...” She mutters under her breath, taking a few uneasy steps back. It doesn't take long for her to understand.

Magic is... complicated. Dangerous. Not something to be tampered with.

Guinevere stands very still as Morgan speaks, stares at the creatures strewn about with a fog clearing in her eyes. The beasts are twitching. Still alive. Feels risky to leave them like this, but she knows it'd be wisest to follow Morgan's lead. They'll be safe and sound once they're in Camelot. Besides, it isn't worth it to stick around and endanger poor Lancelot-- Arthur's trusty knight is as pale as a ghost.

Morgan's really messing with magic. Concern coils up tight in Guinevere's stomach.

For once, she shoves her emotions in the secret place where she bottles things up (it's full of cobwebs, sure, but it exists nonetheless. she's had to make a lot more space in there as of late.) and turns to Lancelot and Morgan with a neutral expression. It's one of the few masks she knows how to wear convincingly. A mask that gives off the impression that she's fearless when she's afraid, when she's chilled right down to her bones. She stares at Morgan for a moment, fleeting yet meaningful. Then, with a few rushed steps, she shakes herself off, reverting to her usual, energetic self as she sheathes her sword and makes her way over to Lancelot. She has to grab him by the arm to get his attention. Jostles him a little before he moves. It's almost like she's trying to wake a sleeping statue. Any day now...

"Come on. It's time to go." She says gently. This seems to draw him out, if only a little. In truth, the only time her voice ever gets this soft is when she consoles little kids still learning to take down their first beast... to spare the good man his pride, she won't tell him that. But even as she charges on ahead, she practically has to drag him along with her. Can't he... snap out of it? Why is he looking at her like that? It frustrates her to the point that she releases his arm and moves a few paces ahead. Not far enough to abandon him, but just enough to keep a cool head. "You heard Morgan, we don't have all night!"

Speaking of which... reluctantly, she checks over her shoulder for Morgan, to make sure she's following as well.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
It only occurred to her now that that was probably the first time Guinevere had seen her using magic. She wasn't trying to keep it secret, of course; not when her entire reputation hinged on it anyway. It had won her few friends so far, yes, but it also ensured she would have even fewer enemies. Who, after all, dared to oppose the terrifying witch? Morgan may or may not have spread some of the rumors herself. The one about her sacrificing babies to the god of darkness whenever the moon was full? That still made her laugh. The god of darkness didn't even exist! It only went to show, really, just how uneducated the ones condemning her craft were. Nothing but a bunch of idiots cowering in fear before the unknown, much like their forefathers who had once been afraid of fire. Too bad that nobody cared for analogies in here because the jokes wrote themselves. 'Camelot, your one-way ticket to the Stone Age. Make your reservation now!'

The point was, Guinevere must have at least heard about it. Hearing about it and witnessing it, however, were two entirely different things. And how did she react? She... didn't, not really, which-- what? Morgan couldn't help but raise her eyebrow. She hadn't expected the other woman to point and stare at her, though she had expected something. An offhand comment, maybe, or just a change in expression, or her physically recoiling from her; that was what Arthur had done, back when she had shown him for the first time. What most people did, really. And frankly? Morgan would have preferred that. Open contempt would have been better than-- better than this uncertainty, better than the ground feeling so shaky underneath her feet. That probably wasn't Guinevere's fault, though. Shock didn't generally rob you of your ability to walk straight; exhaustion, however, did. If only there hadn't been so many of them! Every step wouldn't have taken so much effort, and she would have been able to think clearly, and gods, the damn headache wouldn't have made her see red, and--

Meanwhile, Lancelot only had the eyes for Guinevere. "My... my lady," he stuttered as he struggled to keep his pace with her, "I had no idea you were this skilled with a blade. I'm sure that, if you demonstrated it to the king, he would--" the man paused, probably thinking about what exactly Guinevere's options were. Knighthood? No, definitely not. The other knights wouldn't be comfortable with a woman among their ranks, and besides, the future queen couldn't ride into battle. "-- he would allow you to spar with his men officially. I am sure that many of them could learn a thing or two from you. I, uh. I am not sure whether it could help, but I would vouch for you, my lady," sir Lancelot said, his cheeks bright pink. The shade seemed almost comical, really, as well as the way he averted her gaze. "I don't think such a talent should be squandered."

Just a few more steps, Morgan thought. Just a few more steps, and then I can retire to my chambers. Hmm, her chambers. It was little more than prison, yes, but a prison with a comfortable bed, and at times, that was all one needed to be happy. Except that maybe she wouldn't even be able to reach it. Suddenly, her strength went away and Morgan found herself leaning against one of the columns, panting heavily. She could taste something metallic in her mouth, too. Blood? Damn. Perhaps she really had pushed herself too far this time.
 

ellarose

wanderer
Morgan looks like she's seen better days. That's what Guinevere takes away from her first glance back. Her mind's still lost in a haze as Lancelot continues to babble behind her. Perhaps she'd have entertained his suggestions or beamed with pride at his praise if she wasn't still processing what had happened back there. That was magic. Try as she might to stay the hell away from it, she knows that much. After all, she's traveled all over. Been all sorts of places, seen all sorts of things, met all sorts of people. Some were magic users. And like all people, there were a handful of them with good intentions... and many with bad. There were those who tried to take control of their seemingly uncontrollable world for the better. Good people who faced serious repercussions for messing with it. There are some who live to say they regret it, some who don't. Some who keep trying in vain. Far more often, though, would she encounter those who used magic for their own twisted reasons. Tipping the scale of the world specifically in their favor, using it to cheat, steal and kill. To hurt people who were already hurting enough.

Now, Guinevere can't claim that she's a saint or that she never stole from anybody along the road. She and her twin sister were quite the con artists as kids... kind of had to be, if they wanted to live. Especially back then. But there's a fine line between a couple of girls telling lies to eat and a grown man who uses magic to steer a pack of beasts towards a camp of defenseless kids-- all so he can make off with their collective stock of supplies.

Nevertheless, Guinevere isn't so ignorant to assume that Morgan is a 'bad person' just for practicing magic. It's the magic she doesn't trust. And why should she? Magic is what sunk the world into the abyss in the first place. Even the most well-intentioned person could have trouble controlling it. As a rule, she keeps a safe distance. Doesn't know much about how to cast it, but she knows enough to understand that it doesn't entail baby sacrifices or gods of darkness or whatever oddball theories she's heard echoing in Camelot's halls. Camelot is out of touch with the real world... in a lot of ways. Even so, it reminds her of something Morgan said, before she jumped into the fray. That she remembers the world, the way it was before. That was... unexpected. Interesting.

"Yeah. Yeah, thanks." She acknowledges Lancelot a bit distractedly.

Guinevere's gut feelings are usually right. When her gut tells her to look behind, she listens to it. Sure enough, Morgan has fallen behind -- leaning against a column for support. When she stops short, Lancelot smashes right into her back. She catches herself before she can stumble forward and raises a brow at him. Poor guy basically jumps backwards and stammers an apology, bowing, his cheeks burning red. Geez. Is he... embarrassed? That's probably it. Hopefully it's not a fever. Either way, she's more concerned about Morgan right now. Moving with purpose, she jogs over to where the other woman is standing. There's no time for pity and there'll be plenty of time to ask if she's okay later. (Doesn't seem like she is... though she imagines Morgan might not take too kindly to her asking.) Right now, their priority is getting off the streets in one piece.

"Here, take my arm." Guinevere doesn't waste a second, offering a steady arm to hold and decidedly not touching Morgan before she gives her consent. They don't have time to debate the issue, so she hopes her help is accepted without argument. What if Morgan scoffs at the idea of touching her? (And why does the notion make her heart sink?) Guinevere supposes if she's terribly stubborn about it, she'll have to resort to carrying her. She'd rather Morgan live and be mad at her than get eaten by that pack of beasts. "We need to keep moving."
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Cold sweat was running down her back and, even if it couldn't have been happening for long, Morgan felt absolutely drenched in it. Shame about the dress, really. It had been her favorite, one she had liked to wear even before everything had gone to hell. Well, it was only fitting for her to die while dressed like this, Morgan supposed. It could-- it could symbolize her unhealthy attachment to the past, or something similarly delusional, and Arthur would make it a part of her speech during her funeral. And what a damn fine funeral it would be! Every regime needed its pointless celebrations, after all; surely Arthur wouldn't let this opportunity to slip between his fingers. Not when there had been so few opportunities for sermons lately.

The fantasies of her own death, however, were interrupted by Guinevere's arrival. Oh. Guinevere... returned for her? She must have because, well, she wouldn't have been there otherwise, but the situation was downright incomprehensible to her foggy brain. She was Guinevere. Not just Guinevere, Arthur's future queen, but also Guinevere who hated her lessons and, by extension, probably also her. (Hey, that was a safe assumption to make. Everyone hated her here, after all.) Wouldn't she stand to gain much by letting her die? Without her in the picture, surely they would pick someone more agreeable to tutor her. Some young, pleasant thing that would smile often and prettily, and praise her for every hint of common sense. Arthur's reputation, too, would benefit from being cleansed of the dark stain of her name. No, by all accounts, Guinevere should have taken advantage of the situation. It was a cruel, wolf-eat-wolf world, after all.

... except that she didn't. She was here, offering her her hand, and speaking to her more kindly than anyone she remembered in the last few years. (The last one had been her mother, Morgan thought. That kindness, too, had dissipated once her magic had woken up.) Should she accept it? Under normal circumstances, Morgan wouldn't have even thought about it. She would have laughed into her face, said something sarcastic and disappeared in the shadows. The circumstances decidedly weren't normal, though. The nameless ones may well be on the move already! Still, despite knowing that, Morgan hesitated. (Accepting help only made you weak, said the voice in the back of her head. It rarely came with no strings attached, and every debt had to be repaid tenfold. Besides, what could the girl even want from her? Not knowing that made it even scarier.)

In the end, however, Morgan decided that there was little difference between dooming herself now and postponing it for later. Moreover, wouldn't it be fun to discover her motivations? Probably more fun than being eaten alive anyway. Unable to find her words, Morgan just nodded in response. Gods, she must have looked so pathetic; not just because of the weakness of her body, but also because of the frailty of her mind. Her eyes were the eyes of a doe being hunted, not of the famous sorceress who put fear in the hearts of men. What was worse, she allowed herself to lean on Guinevere! (On Guinevere, who felt... kind of nice and stable, she would give her that. Morgan would rather die than to admit to it, but yeah.)

"I know," Morgan managed to say. She didn't even sound like her usual self; perhaps for the first time since she met Guinevere, she let some sort of vaguely posititive emotion seep into her voice. In that moment, it became apparent how young she was, really. Despite being older than Arthur, she couldn't even be thirty. "I-- apologize. For the complications, I mean. I have been careless." What? Morgan knew how to be pleasant, too. The fact that she chose not to be most of the time had nothing to do with that. It looked like she wanted to add something, too, but when she tried to do it, a violent cough seized her, and a stream of blood erupted from her mouth. Well, now her dress was definitely ruined.
 

ellarose

wanderer
Relieved, Guinevere tries not to release the breath she'd been holding too loudly when Morgan takes her arm. Because she gets it. She really does. In a world that kills at any chance it gets, it's rare to find anyone who will allow themselves to be vulnerable in the presence of those who might use it against them. Though Morgan might come from vastly different circumstances, she's still an impenetrable fortress. She must have built all those sturdy walls around herself for a reason. And it must be tough for her that, to a certain extent, they're coming down now.

Guinevere stays neutral and composed... but it does tug on her heartstrings, seeing her like this. Quiet and resigned. Not at all like the Morgan she knows. The woman with the intelligent spark in her eyes, the woman with a repertoire of witty comebacks for anything. If she were tending to one of her girls, Guinevere might have rubbed consoling circles against her back... but in this case, she decides to tread carefully. No sudden movements. Don't make it weird. Just focus. Get from one place to the other without incident. This is still Morgan she's dealing with, after all.

"Go on ahead of us-- and be on the lookout for more of those beasts! We'll catch up!" She urges Lancelot to pick up his pace when she notices him waiting on the path ahead. If the mecha beasts were to catch up with them, it'd be simpler to fend them off with only one person to look after. Ideally that won't be the case, but it's best to be safe. For once, the knight decides to take her for her word, and forges on ahead. It feels nice to be taken seriously, to feel like she's at least earned somebody's respect in this godforsaken place. Once he's further off, she hears Morgan speak up. And as she listens, Guinevere's brow furrows. (What? She can't help it!) Morgan's apologizing? Morgan's admitting to being... careless? Careless? Morgan? She never imagined she'd hear those words in the same sentence before.

And now she's coughing up blood instead of words. Oof.

"Maybe. But you still saved us back there, didn't you?" More than anything, she saved
Lancelot back there. But still. As much as she detests it, Morgan's magic really did an impressive number on those beasts. (Really did a number on her, too.) Even so, Guinevere decides to take an easygoing approach, doesn't let anything faze her. Somehow, she's far more equipped to handle blood than words and apologies. It takes a slight shift in their position before she manages to tear a long piece of fabric from her pale green sleeve (it shrieks, the way she imagines some women in Camelot might if they saw what she was doing) and then shimmies into a position that better supports Morgan. They'll find proper help once they get back to the castle... but this might prove to be a simple comfort, for now. She offers her the torn cloth. "You can cough in this, if you need to."

Might not be of much help, but it's all she can do for now.

"'Sides, I'm the one who should apologize for being careless. We wouldn't even be out here if I hadn't missed our lesson in the first place!" She doesn't miss a beat, as though this is a casual discussion and Morgan wasn't just coughing up a mouthful of blood. It's not that Guinevere is unconcerned. She is concerned. But she has a hunch that addressing the state Morgan's in might make her feel even worse.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
"... thank you," Morgan said as she accepted the piece of fabric. What was she thanking her for, exactly? The makeshift handkerchief or the acknowledgement of her merits? Perhaps it was both; perhaps it was none of that. She just... felt as if she had to say something to that, and gratitude was a normal sentiment to express here. A safe thing to express, too, for nobody could condemn her for it. It was a Camelot-approved course of action. (Morgan may have enjoyed all her little rebellions, sure, but when it counted, she walked the party line. The cost for not doing so would be too high for her to pay. For anyone, really.)

Camelot wasn't far by that point, but gods, did it feel like that. If it hadn't been for Guinevere's support, Morgan surely would have collapsed by now; even standing upright was a chore by that point, nevermind actual moving. (Why did magic ask so much of her? Morgan would have loved to know more about it, but Arthur had taken that away from her, too. All those books that could have answered her questions? Burnt. Burnt in the name of preserving Camelot's precious purity. She prefered to think of it as naivety, but since the two were more or less synonyms, it was a matter of semantics.)

When they finally reached the castle, the gates were open already; Lancelot hadn't been much of a help during the fight itself, yet apparently he was wise enough to notify the knights of their arrival.

"Lady Guinevere!" a male voice shrieked. Morgan recognized him as one Arthur's men, though his name eluded her. Someone of no notable skills, she supposed. Not that Camelot required notable skills of their knights; kissing their king's boots without a hint of shame was usually more than enough. "By god, I hope that you are unhurt. It is dangerous out there, truly. It is good that sir Lancelot was with you."

"Uhh, actually," Lancelot said, "I was lucky that lady Guinevere was with me. And lady Morgan, too. Both of them handled the crisis admirably, I must say. Better than I did." Oh, so someone actually bothered to acknowledge her presence? Now that was unexpected. A breach of an unspoken rule, really, and for a brief second, Morgan felt absurdly grateful for that small act of kindness. She didn't mind being this castle's ghost - preferred it, even - but still. Leaning on Guinevere while others refused to even look at her was more than just a little awkward. Like, hello? She was right there!

"Ah, truly? That-- that is surprising."

Okay, scratch that; somehow, this was even more awkward. Not that some attention wasn't nice, but was this really the right moment to ogle her? Couldn't they see she was hurt? Right now, Morgan would kill for some pillows and a warm blanket! Thankfully, not everyone suffered from the same kind of madness the knight did. A few maids emerged in the countryard, seemingly out of nowhere, and each supported her from one side. "We'll take care of lady Morgan from now on, lady Guinevere. Worry not." And with that, Morgan was half-dragged, half-carried back to her room, back to the comfort and safety. (Maybe it was a good thing she was so exhausted, too, because at least she didn't get to question the weird sense of loss that filled her the second they separated her from Guinevere. It was probably nothing, though. Just an instinctual desire for another being's warmth. Right?)

Guinevere wasn't given any real opportunity to say goodbye to Morgan, either, because then she was suddenly being ushered to the throne room. Arthur was waiting for her, after all, and you didn't make a king wait. Not if you wanted to enjoy Camelot's protection anyway.

"My lady," he stood up from his throne and looked her all over, his eyes stopping on her torn dress. To his credit, there was genuine warmth in them; genuine warmth and concern as well. Arthur made a few steps towards her, taking her hands into his. "I'm so sorry I wasn't there to protect you. And to hear that Morgan used magic in front of you-- that must have been a terrifying thing to witness. I'll talk to her once she recuperates, I promise. Is there anything I can do to make this up to you?"
 
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ellarose

wanderer
Guinevere clamps her jaw shut, holding onto her composure with gritted teeth. Not that she didn't expect it, the panic, the incessant coddling. Even as Lancelot intervenes for them, she finds her blood burning several degrees hotter than usual. Morgan needs help. Like, now. Can't they see that? Sparks singe a held tongue until she can't take it any longer... but before she can speak up on Morgan's behalf, she's whisked away from her. "Um--" The fire in her extinguishes far too quickly. She doesn't know what to say, but she knows she wants to say something. But they're already out of earshot. Somehow, she had anticipated at least seeing to it that Morgan made it to her room safely. Should have known better. "Okay." That's it, then. It makes her feel hollowed out, somehow. The cold of this place is so much more apparent as she stands alone.

Her shoulders feel heavier now than they did before. Maybe the exhaustion from training and fighting subsequently is finally catching up to her. But the real reason is probably because she knows exactly what comes next. Dealing with Arthur will entail more energy than anything she's done all day. That knight who addressed them at the gates... Tim? Or was it Thomas? It doesn't matter -- that knight is quick to escort her to the throne room.

Guinevere's gaze flits momentarily to Arthur's hands, clasped around hers. It takes all of her self control not to flinch and pull away. They're going to be married, after all. She'll... have to get used to this. His touch. Even though she knows she'll never love him the same way he loves her. It makes her sad for him, in a way. (Maybe a little sad for herself, too, but you won't catch her dwelling on it.) It could have been different, had he offered to help out of the goodness of his heart. No strings attached. No... lifetime commitments.

She steels herself. Her life is worth the change it will make in her girls' lives. They're hungry. They're tired. And Camelot's got more than enough for them to get by.

"Your concern for me is really--" Disgusting? That's vile, ungrateful. Cute? Too patronizing. "--touching." It'll do.

Guinevere smiles as pleasantly as she can manage. She's told him several times already that she can handle herself... but, hey, who's keeping count? "But if you were there, you would've seen that I didn't need protection. Sir Lancelot even said he'd vouch for me."

She never thought Arthur and Morgan were particularly close, but she might have expected a little more... emotion from him, on her behalf. Her stomach sinks and it occurs to her that she's disappointed. He received a detailed account of what happened, right? He knew that she fared better than Morgan... and yet he immediately requests an audience with her, instead of checking on his own sister. She hardly knows Morgan well enough to call her an acquaintance yet and wishes she could leave to see how she's doing.

"Oh, that's totally unnecessary. I mean, I wasn't scared. I just hope that she'll be all right." Okay, so she might have been a little scared, but she's not about to admit it. Especially not to Arthur. There's... still a lot to gauge, when it comes to Morgan. Anyway. If he's offering-- "Um, and I'd really just like to rest. If it isn't too much trouble, could you have some medical supplies sent to my room? I got this scratch in the chaos. Nothing at all to fret over, but... even the smallest scrapes can get infected if you aren't careful."

It's a pathetic scratch on her arm, really, but with the way these people coddle her... she's sure she'll be given more than she needs. And that's exactly what she's counting on.
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
"Oh, don't worry," Arthur said, obviously blind to her concerns. Either Guinevere's acting skills had improved under Morgan's tutelage, or he didn't care to recognize them in the first place. He had played the part of the gallant knight perfectly, so why should he have to deal with something that wasn't in the script? Something as unnatural as sympathy for the wicked witch? "You are being too kind, my lady. Morgan will manage just fine. She has survived worse than this and, knowing her, will survive worse incidents in the future as well. It's just that she-- can't help herself, I suppose," he chuckled nervously. "Either way, I will still talk to her. It is unacceptable to expose my betrothed to such vile things. We... tolerate her here, yes, but that doesn't mean she can do whatever she pleases." Did he expect Guinevere to react favorably to that? Probably, because he followed it up by leaning towards her and kissing her. He did so chastely, of course; just placing his lips on her cheek for a short while, strictly what etiquette allowed him. Arthur, after all, wouldn't dishonor his future queen. Still, the way he did it? There was something almost callous about it. The amount of consideration for her feelings was just about the same he'd extend to a-- a thing, really. You didn't ask a chalice whether it wanted to be drunk out of, did you? No, you just did it.

"Your wish is my command, my lady. You shall have whatever you desire. Now, though, I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave," he said with a great sorrow in his eyes. "I and my knights need to discuss matters of great importance; things too drab for your ears. Camelot is yours, however, so I am sure you will find something exciting to pursue." Oh, so he was kicking her out. It was wrapped in prettier words, yes, but that was essentially what it was. Whatever he meant to talk about with his men, clearly Guinevere wasn't supposed to know of it. Two guards in shiny, spotless armor escorted her outside, and that was all.

The following weeks were marked by a peculiar tension; it hung over Camelot like a dark cloud. Guinevere may have been lonely before, but it was only now that she tasted true solitude, with Morgan confined to her room and... nobody talking to her, at least not really. The ladies of Camelot? They ate with her, but that was it. Apparently their precious sensibilities couldn't handle the way their future queen spoke and conducted herself in general. Arthur, meanwhile, was always doing something tremendously important; something that conveniently didn't include her. He tried to dine with her every day at least, though it was becoming increasingly more obvious that he wasn't actually interested in her as a person. The conversations they had? Even calling them 'conversations' might have been too generous, really, because that implied there were two sides to them. Instead, Arthur usually used this time with her to fill her head with his ideas, his plans, his dreams. (Just like Camelot in general, it was always about him.)

Meanwhile, Morgan appeared to avoid her even outside of their lessons. That they had been cancelled didn't come off as a surprise; the woman did need some time to recover, as even Arthur acknowledged. It went beyond that, though. Whenever they passed each other in a hallway, Morgan seemed to walk just a little bit faster, with just a little more resoluteness, and didn't even bother to spare her a glance. "My lady," she always muttered, but it was frostier than usual. A conversation ender, really, rather than a starter. The invisible walls erected around her stood higher than ever before for some reason, and the sorceress certainly wasn't about to explain herself. Not to Guinevere anyway.

As time marched on, it... honestly started to look as if Morgan was straight up ignoring her duties? She must have been healthy by that point, or at least that much could be deduced from her appearances in the great hall, but Guinevere received no messages about their upcoming lessons. There was just-- radio silence, really. Radio silence and an occasional meaningful glance from across the room, though Morgan looked away whenever she noticed her looking back, almost as if the brief contact itself hurt her. (Something about her resembled a wounded animal. The way she seemed to be oh so wary of her surroundings, never completely at peace? Only prey behaved like that.) The only one who paid her any real attention at all was sir Lancelot, who had started a tradition of bringing her flowers each morning and whisking her away for more sparring sessions. They took place in the gardens of Camelot now, under the watchful eyes of Arthur's knights, though it was still better than nothing. At least something happened in this gilded cage.

Other, less pleasant things, however, were being set into motion as well; things like the banquet meant to honor Arhur and Guinevere's up-coming marriage. A farce, doubtlessly, though Camelot did love its empty gestures. Morgan had heard Arthur had hired ten bards to compose ballads about the couple's undying love, and wasn't that just hilarious? The girl scarcely seemed to know him. It would have been funny if it also didn't mean that their lessons couldn't be postponed anymore; that she would have to face her. Guinevere had to be Arthur's perfect little doll, not-- well, not herself. Somehow, Morgan found herself to be responsible for that, and she was sure the punishment would fall on her head if Guinevere ended up throwing food at someone she didn't like or challenging a man to a duel or acting on whatever crazy impulse seized her at the moment. As if she had planted those ideas in her head! Complaining about the unfairness of the situation did nothing at all, though, so Morgan just steeled herself. Steeled herself and-- and tried to forget everything. If she managed to erase her humiliation from her memories, then it hadn't happened at all. That was how it worked, right?

"My lady," she greeted Guinevere when she entered, her tone casual. Maybe, if she pretended she hadn't been ignoring her for the last few weeks hard enough, it would get swept under the rug, too. Wasn't that the way issues were dealt with in Camelot? Yay, she was finally adapting! "I am sure you must be looking forward to the banquet. I know I am. Is there something you're feeling uncertain about? Something we should prioritize in our lessons?" Ah, politeness. The only shield Morgan was allowed to use. If she remained courteous enough, and distant enough, perhaps her pride would survive this intact.
 
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ellarose

wanderer
Guinevere stares at Morgan long and hard, as though she'd gone and grown a second head in the time they've been apart. Oh... so now they're talking? At first, she wondered if it was her fault, somehow, if she had done something wrong without realizing it. Then she wondered if Arthur had said something horrible and unwarranted on 'her behalf', like he said he was going to-- if that might have been what caused her to keep her distance. Maybe Arthur intends to intimidate anyone who so much as coughs in her presence. Keep her lonely and 'safe' and locked in a gilded cage for the rest of her days. Isolate her from everyone till he's the only one left. Makes her sick and stir-crazy. Oh, and on top of that, she hates the whispering. The vulturous eyes that follow her down the halls. The uncertainty. Not to mention, without her lessons, there's hardly anything for her to do. As much as she hated them, at least they gave her something to occupy herself with. Hours of boredom gives her plenty of time to think and overthink everything. Pacing her room till her feet ache, resisting the temptation to break something. Unsurprisingly, Guinevere's the type to throw things when she's pissed off.

But every time she considers stabbing herself with her fork during meals with Arthur, she reminds herself of the supplies she's been hoarding under her bed. Soon. She'll make it back soon. Next chance she gets. If only temporarily, she'll have air to breathe, friends to talk to. A reason to... smile. Wow. That's depressing. And maybe she's not giving Lancelot enough credit. Sparring with him provides the single thread by which her sanity hangs. She still doesn't know what she's going to do with the flowers piling up in her room, though. Over the last few days, she'd seriously considered naming them. That way, maybe they could keep her company. She could talk to them and everything!

God, she's got to get out of this place. Maybe she'll make some flower crowns...it'll give her something to do. She could bring them back to camp for the kids. Make the most of what she has, like always.

She envisioned asking how Morgan was recovering the next time they spoke. Whether or not she was... okay. Maybe even go as far as to mention that she was concerned and that she's glad to see her all right. But she hadn't gotten the chance, even when she tried. Now the subject seems unnecessary to touch, especially when it's so far out of reach. It occurs to her that that's probably what Morgan wanted. So she won't press on it. Yet.

"I don't know." She shrugs, nonchalant. Doesn't know how to play it, if she's being honest. She's not mad at Morgan. Not exactly. Guinevere doesn't know how to feel-- and sure as hell doesn't know how Morgan feels, either. It's all this 'not knowing' that's frustrating. She doesn't know why she's messing with magic, or why she's been pointedly avoiding her. And for all the talking Arthur does, she has no idea what he's been discussing with his knights, either. Something too drab for her ears, apparently. Yeah, right. Okay. And she guesses she's supposed to accept that, just like everything else. "It's a thing, I guess." A big, extravagant, pointless thing.

Can you teach me how to smile pretty while I throw my life away? It's about to overflow, all of it, but she swallows hard and shoves it back where it belongs. Feels like sinking a knife in her gut. Although it hurts, she's got to keep moving forward.

Guinevere assembles a smile. It's tight at the corners. Forced. "Anyway... you know this stuff better than I do. What should I be concerned about?" She stretches her arms behind her back to unknot the tension tangled in her shoulders, averts her gaze. Her eyes crinkle knowingly, smile softening into something natural and self-deprecating. "Let me guess. Everything?"
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Morgan, too, watched Guinevere. Every fiber in her body screamed at her to avert her eyes, to escape from the intensity of that gaze, but-- that was what she had been doing up until now, hadn't she? Running away. Hiding from the girl, really, as if she was a five year old brat and Guinevere her teacher who had caught her doing something unacceptable. How ridiculous! If anything, she was the teacher here. She held the power in this situation, not vice versa. (It certainly didn't feel that way, though. Not with Guinevere looking so strong and self-assured and her-- her not being any of those things. Power was an illusion, after all. An illusion as fragile as butterfly wings, and her shameful display from earlier had shattered it to pieces. Shattered it so profoundly it could never be put back together, either. Morgan the weakling couldn't exist alongside Morgan the powerful witch, or even alongside Morgan, someone who deserved respect. But how to reconcile with that? She had no idea.)

Guinevere, at least, had the decency not to bring any of this up. Perhaps Morgan hadn't been giving her enough credit for her manners? Because playing along was surprisingly nice of her. She had been surprisingly nice to her back then, too, when she had helped her get back to the castle. When she had torn her own dress for her, and said nothing of her weakness. Just how much of it had been an act? Everything, Morgan was sure. A warrior like Guinevere must have found her to be so, so pathetic. Still, it didn't matter what Arthur's bride thought of her. Once she became the queen, these lessons would end, and all their ties would be severed. (That, at least, was something to look forward to, right?)

In the meantime, however, Morgan had to play her role. Roles and masks; all she was good for, apparently. From time to time, not even she herself could tell where her lies ended and where the real person began. Did it even matter, though? If her real self wasn't useful, it might as well be disposed of. That was what happened to trash, after all. "Yes," she chuckled dryly, "everything. But, my lady, self-awareness is a good start." Morgan rose from her sofa and circled Guinevere, seemingly deep in thought.

"There are rules for everything; for who is supposed to greet whom first, for which title should be used when addressing someone, for turn taking during a conversation. Then there are, of course, approved and forbidden topics. Basically, if what you're saying can be summarized as 'glory to Camelot' or 'Arthur is the greatest', you're safe. If not, reconsider if it needs to be said." Morgan's smile grew a little wider, though no more pleasant. "Actually, I'd recommend not talking much at all. That's the easiest way to avoid stepping on anyone's toes." Besides, it wasn't like people would be too interested in what the future queen had to say; she was there to be admired, not to be listened to. Like an ornament, or perhaps a pretty flower. And that the flower had a mind of her own? That was an obstacle more than anything else.

"One thing, though. Can you dance, lady Guinevere? Because you will be expected to do exactly that with my dear brother. It is said that your first dance with your betrothed will show whether you are suited for one another, so you don't want to botch it." The nobles would certainly never let her live it down, Morgan knew. All those bored ladies were probably waiting for her to make a mistake just so they would have something to talk about. How charming this lot was, really!
 
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ellarose

wanderer
“So... act like a soulless corpse. Got it.” This isn’t rebellion or her way of taking offense in a roundabout, passive aggressive way. It’s a statement of fact. A student taking her teacher's advice to heart. Arthur obviously didn’t pick Guinevere for her winning personality. The annoying thing is, she had genuinely tried to talk to him at first. Offered suggestions when he talked about all his grand plans. Sometimes he had the audacity to nod along to the sound of her voice... and then conveniently forget about everything she spoke about when it came to making actual decisions. He’s shit at listening to her. Maybe she doesn't always speak with the same fancy pants flair... but it doesn't mean she lacks the intelligence to come up with helpful solutions to Camelot's problems.

When Morgan circles her like a cat, looks at her with those eyes and that smile, a zing of electricity zips up her spine. Her heartbeat thrums in her ears. It must be obvious from the outside looking in, just how incompatible she and Arthur are. When he touches her it haunts her so badly, she worries that all her fears will bleed out in plain view. She’s never been skilled at this. At acting, hiding things. Not like... well, there’s no need to dwell on her. Not now. Guinevere buries a familiar pang of sorrow in her chest before it can consume her.

Now, real parties are painted in firelight and the smell of the woods. Full of laughter, genuine belly laughter-- and not the polite kind that’s meant to be fitted in a tiny glass container-- her gang telling stories of the events that brought them together, knowing each other well enough to finish each others’ sentences... talking over one another when someone exaggerates or gets the details wrong. There’s this sort of exhilaration that comes with having survived to see another day. Making the most of the lives they've still got. It goes without saying that the atmosphere is vastly different when she dines with the ladies of Camelot. Even those who appear to be close seem to be plotting the other’s demise. But, hey, maybe it isn’t fair of her to assume. They’re trapped in an environment that perpetually belittles and objectifies them. Always speaking like they're afraid to take up too much space, fretting over how devastating it'll be if a man doesn't look at them a certain way before they reach a certain age. They fret over years, rather than days. Oh and when they do deign to acknowledge Guinevere's existence (conveniently timed when Arthur or one of his knights is passing through) they tell her how they
oh so admire the way Arthur looks at her. Isn't he so very gallant and charming and... ugh. Her gag reflex is tested constantly.

Dancing. No one said anything about dancing. Not until now, that is. It takes an admirable amount of self control on her part not to drop an ineloquent 'oh shit' at the very mention of it. She bites her thumbnail and fidgets.

Morgan's sharp. Admirably so, scarily so. Guinevere's sure that she can see right through her. How she hates the word betrothed (it's weird, makes her feel icky) and how vastly uncomfortable she is at the prospect of being used as a centerpiece to be watched, admired or judged. It's so much worse now that she's a performing centerpiece. Sitting and smiling is one thing, but this? She can take down a pack of mecha beasts singlehandedly, but the prospect of Arthur's hands on her -- with so many eyes watching -- she's getting dizzy just thinking about it.

“Uh,” A nervous laugh bubbles in her words, “Well, that depends on your definition of dancing.” She makes little air quotes with her fingers on the word 'dancing'. Something tells her that their definitions are going to be vastly different. Different in the same way that her gang and the ladies of Camelot are different. Oh, she’s doomed. She can see it now : stepping on Arthur’s feet and cursing in front of everyone. Or he’ll put his hands on her hips and she’ll instinctively kick him in the groin, or chuck him across the room. No doubt the satisfaction would be delicious and immediate... but knowing these people, they’d likely have her burned at the stake for it. Up in a blaze. A befitting end to the disastrous story of her life.

Knitting her brow, she presses her fingers to her temples, screws her eyes firmly shut. No use in hiding when it's obvious. "Oh. Oh, this is going to be so bad."
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
"Yes. That is a fair description," Morgan nodded. What? It was true, and since none of Arthur's lackeys were present, she saw no harm in acknowledging it. They had told her to mentor Guinevere, not lie to her. Those were two distinct things! And if they also wanted her to fill her head with nonsense-- well, they should have said so from the beginning. Morgan wasn't going to play this game of guessing with Camelot. If Arthur expected anything more than the bare minimum from her, then he was even greater fool than she had thought. "Do take care to smell better than that, however. I don't think that eau de corpse would win you many friends around here." A... joke? Alright, that came off as shock even to Morgan. Where had that attitude come from? Perhaps from Guinevere herself. Not that the other woman was in a joking kind of mood, but her spontaneity? Maybe, maybe it was a little bit infectious. A dangerous thing to be sure; one she would have to be wary of in the future.

"So you can't," Morgan stated, plain as day. Gods, it was so difficult to reconcile the Guinevere from earlier with this one! She had been terrifying in the most magnificent way on battlefield, wielding death itself as her weapon, and now-- now she resembled a fidgeting schoolgirl. That was what Camelot did to people, Morgan supposed. Of course they would revert to this childlike state within its walls; childhood was defined by inexperience, after all, and none of outside experiences mattered here. (It only occurred to her now how terribly lost Guinevere seemed. How terribly lost and insecure. Before, she had been too blind to see it, too annoyed by her defiance to even think of her motivations, but it was so clear now. Almost against her will, her heart swelled with sympathy. This cross was difficult for her to bear, too. For an outsider, though? The weight must have been soul-crushing.)

"Don't worry," she heard herself say, "it'll be-- fine. If you pay attention now, that is. The dance isn't all that complicated. You just have to become familiar enough with the steps to not be nervous." Ignoring Guinevere's curses for once, Morgan crossed the room and opened one of the wardrobes that lined the wall. From within, she pulled out a gramophone; an old, almost laughable relic of ages long past, but anything newer than that wasn't allowed in Camelot. If nothing else, it fit the spirit of the place. "You're also lucky in that you are a woman. You just-- have to follow Arthur's lead, basically, and not assert yourself too much." What a good metaphor for their relationship, too. Sooner or later, Guinevere's light would be absorbed by Arthur, and that would be the end of her as a person. (Gods, Morgan was so glad she was at least free of the nightmare of marriage. Her reputation of a scary witch had its benefits, such as nobody wanting to marry her. Not even her brother's influence managed to change anything about that.)

Sweet, soulful music filled the air, and Morgan took her in her arms. When had been the last time she had been this close to-- well, anyone? She didn't remember. Maybe the true answer was 'never'; Morgan had always preferred to keep her distance, even before others had started keeping their distance from her. "I'll dance the male part for you," she said, her tone casual, despite her heart beating wildly in her chest. The arm she had placed on her back? It burned. "Watch my legs," Morgan recommended to her, doing her best to ignore that feeling. It... didn't work out, but perhaps it would disappear if she focused on her task. That sounded sensible, right? "You'll have to look Arthur in the eye, but this is just practice, and I don't want you to step on my feet too much." Well. Okay, that may not have been entirely true, but Morgan couldn't exactly admit how nervous her gaze made her. Not when it was so embarrassing!
 
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ellarose

wanderer
Guinevere blinks once. Then twice. The time Morgan takes to cross the room and retrieve the antique music device is simply not enough to wrap her mind around what had conspired within mere moments of each other. Jokes? Reassurances? Could it be that Morgan doesn't actually hate her as much as she thought? She doesn't want to let herself hope for it -- that she could have an ally in here -- knowing just how easily it could be smothered. Same as when hunger doesn't hurt so bad until she realizes she's hungry. Wanting for anything often leads to disappointment and wishing has no pull on an uncaring world. After all, wasn't it just yesterday that the other woman sped past her in the hall to avoid speaking to her, let alone look at her face? (And there's the magic! Can't forget about that particular detail.) Morgan's a puzzle and none of her pieces seem to snap together just right. Doesn't help that now she's viewing her in such close proximity. Getting closer does nothing to clarify her thoughts -- if anything, it scrambles them entirely.

"We're -- we're just jumping right into it, then. Okay." Searchingly, Guinevere's eyes flit like a skittish bird from Morgan's eyes, to her lips, and then determinedly to the floor where their feet peek out from their dresses. Nope. She's not acknowledging why her eyes just did that thing, that they always seems to do when she's standing too close to a girl she likes. It's clearly the amalgam of nervousness and uncertainty swimming in her chest, a galloping heart is easily confused for feelings that don't exist. She's Arthur's sister, for god's sake. If her cheeks are pink, if Morgan says something about it, she might as well just melt into the floor. She could claim to have a fever. Maybe she'll get out of this whole banquet thing. Or, at the very least, prolong her doom for later. Okay, get a grip. Breathe. She relaxes her shoulders, softens her grip. (Hopefully her hands aren't jarringly calloused... Morgan's are so smooth in comparison.) The idea of following Arthur's lead makes her want to be sick, but somehow, she doesn't mind so much when it's Morgan. Her touch is capable and only intentioned to inform her-- not greedy for something she can't reciprocate like Arthur's. "I'll try not to step on your feet, good sir."

Take it lightly, she reminds herself, in good spirits. It's just practice. Her fate won't be defined by a single misstep. Not the same way that hesitating or dodging in the wrong direction can get her killed on the battlefield. Comparing the stakes helps, if only a little. She bolsters herself up. Okay. Let's do this. Forget that Arthur's hands are going to be where Morgan's are, that the consequences will be so much higher then, and focus on the moment.

The pattern on the carpet moves with their footsteps. It's a little disorienting, but to Guinevere's credit, she doesn't step on her feet. Dancing and fighting aren't actually that different when it comes down to it. She knows her own body, how to keep herself balanced, how to react and think on her feet. Wears her grace in an untraditional way. "It's not that I've never danced before. It's just... different, out there." Somehow, it's easier to open up when she has an excuse to avert her eyes. Still. She would have never learned to fight looking at her feet. When she looks up, it's going to feel different, and -- "Should I, uh, try the eye contact thing, now?"
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
Morgan... sort of expected her to be bad. And why wouldn't she, really? Guinevere had never done this, after all, and it was only natural to make mistakes when learning. Only through failings could you ever hope to improve yourself, or some other nonsense. (She had never been fond of that particular piece of ancient wisdom. As far was Morgan was concerned, it was nothing but propaganda invented by those less than gifted. By people like her brother's knights. For all the talking they did, they sure failed a lot, and somehow they weren't even ashamed of it. If the adage about learning was true-- well, it shocked her that they weren't scholars by now.)

Guinevere, however, seemed to be decent. Not exactly great, or at least not yet, but that was mainly caused by her not really knowing the steps. Morgan recognized it easily; the occasional impulse to head in the wrong direction betrayed that. Even so, they moved together gracefully across the floor. (If she had been more of a poetic soul, maybe she would have said that their skirts were flowing like wisps of clouds around them, or perhaps commented upon the shade of pink that colored Guinevere's cheeks and how lively it made her look. Instead of that, though, Morgan found herself thinking of her brother. Yes, he would have a fine bride. With a little more practice and a lot more sel-denial, Guinevere would be everything one could reasonably expect of a queen. Now, why did the thought make her so irate? Somewhere along the way, her own feelings had become a mystery.)

"Is it? You are quite good," Morgan said in response. What? It wasn't like she enjoyed being mean for no reason. All of the times she had reprimanded Guinevere? Those instances had been well-deserved on her part. Right now, she deserved praise, and Morgan was going to provide that, too. Perhaps it sounded clumsier than her criticisms - less polished, less practiced - but that didn't diminish the sincerity of her words. If anything, it only made it stand out more. When had been the last time she had praised anyone and meant it? Again, her memory seemed to fail her. (Lately, too many of her firsts were reserved for this girl. What a curious turn of events.)

"Ah," Morgan yelped, and the sound was absolutely pathetic. It couldn't be helped, though! She wasn't even remotely prepared eye contact. So far it had been relatively easy to keep her cool, but some instinct warned her that that would not remain true for long if Guinevere looked up and her eyes met hers and they would be so close and-- damn it. She couldn't very well admit to that, could she? Well, that, and Guinevere did need to learn how to dance like this.

"Yes. Yes, do it, my lady," she ended up saying, her voice much surer than she felt to be. Morgan could only thank the gods, both known and unknown, that there were no mirrors in this room. Because if she saw herself right now? Surely she would die of embarrassment. How red her cheeks must have been! "In fact, you are going to do more than that. You will talk to me." Yes, talking would be good. Something to distract herself with, really. If Morgan focused on her words, then she didn't have to focus on the depth of her eyes. Simple, right? "It is customary to hold a conversation while dancing. I suppose, uh, it's because it's awkward to be that close to someone and keep your mouth shut." Uh? Were Guinevere's verbal ticks infectious? Because she didn't understand why else she would say something like that. Morgan le Fey didn't stutter!

"So, tell me something," she encouraged her. "Anything that comes to mind." Morgan could have suggested that this could double as a conversation training, too, but maybe, maybe she was interested in what the other woman thought. For... research purposes. Right, research. Guinevere was to be her queen, after all, and learning more about her counted as getting to know an enemy.
 

ellarose

wanderer
Guinevere hesitates before chancing a glance at Morgan. One look into her eyes and... that's when she falters, thrown off rhythm by the change of perspective, and quickly ducks her head to check their feet. Adjusting is a short but clumsy process until she finds the flow they had before, armoring herself with a breath and meeting Morgan's eyes again. Though she won't say it aloud, the praise she received replaying on a loop in her head might have contributed to the misstep -- it continues to take her off guard -- but in a good way. It's refreshing to know she's capable of being acknowledged with more than arched eyebrows and frowns. Signs of overt disapproval. In fact, she's beginning to see sides of Morgan that she's never seen before. Flickers of hidden gems tell her a human being exists behind those walls and polished expressions. She had always known that was the case, obviously, but it's another thing entirely to witness it... if only in little bits and pieces.

"That so?" She can't help but grin. Morgan's cheeks look just about as red as Guinevere's burn. For some reason, knowing that their embarrassment in this situation is mutual makes her feel a whole lot better about maintaining eye contact. "Wasn't it you who just said I should avoid talking?"

Jokes aside, she'll bite. Worrying at her lip, she inclines her head to the side, reaches for a topic. She had this mental list of things she wanted to ask... back before Morgan started avoiding her. And now the question as to why Morgan started avoiding her is on that list as well. Guinevere likes this peace between them, though. It's rare. Keeps a stable foundation in place beneath her uncertain feet. Besides, it isn't every day that someone in Camelot asks her for her thoughts... let alone with the intention of listening to her.

"Well, I guess the weather's out. I mean, I haven't been outside today. That's usually a safe topic, when you want to fill an awkward silence." Guinevere considers, brow wrinkling, "It's even more pointless to talk about in here, though. Some days, I have no idea what the sky even looks like. On the outside, the weather can be a matter of life and death. It's important, knowing when to layer your clothes and..." Her eyes widen, as though she's made an important discovery, and flicker with amusement at the same time.

"Ah! Clothes. Now that's a popular topic around here. Too bad I'm useless when it comes to fashion. There's also gossip, but..." She sighs, gaze sinking to her feet amidst a moment of doubt before returning to Morgan's levelly. Her expression steels into something a touch more serious. "I'm determined not to sink that low, no matter how bored I get. You wouldn't believe some of the tall tales I've heard around here. Or maybe you would. You've probably heard a lot of them."

There are theories about how Arthur heroically saved from one of the 'creatures who must not be named', how she played the victim so well that he decided to take her in like a mangy stray off the streets. (Some knights, like Lancelot, envision a far more sympathetic version of her in this one.) There are others (far more creative, she must add) that claim she was raised by a pack of 'creatures who must not be named' and used some kind of seductive sorcery to bewitch Arthur. Some say they fell in love on the outside and that she wanted Arthur to run away with her (because she's so vulgar and doesn't want to live by their rules) and of course, he's too loyal to his kingdom for that and she loved Arthur too much to part ways so she agreed to come with him, yada yada. Needless to say, she's painted in varying shades, depending on who's describing her. Some pity her, the hungry girl from the outside who simply doesn't know any better about their customs. Others are judgmental or mean or seriously bored out of their goddamned minds.

She can't help but wonder where Morgan falls on that scale. When they first met, she thought the animosity she sensed could have been born out of concern for Arthur, as his older sister. Knowing what she knows now, however, Guinevere's certain that's not the case. They might be siblings, but they don't seem close. Not even slightly. She's curious, sure, but it isn't her place to pry about it.

"Um, you know, most people here... they barely know me." Most people... as in everyone. "Is there anything you want to know?"
 

Syntra

Baba Yaga
For once, Morgan didn't take advantage of the opportunity to reprimand her. Instead of that, she just... tightened her hold of Guinevere so that she didn't fall, and allowed her to adapt to the strangeness hanging between them at her own pace. Because needing some time to get a hold of herself? Yeah, Morgan understood that very well. (Gods, just being so close to her felt downright scandalous. Why, though? They weren't doing anything shameful, even by Camelot's backwards standards; she was just teaching her how to dance. It didn't matter how nice she smelled from up close, or how firm her body felt under her touch, or how easy it was to let her gaze slide down to her lips and-- okay, no, she wasn't even going to go there. It... it must have been some remnant of her sickness, Morgan was sure. Clearly she wasn't thinking straight! Perhaps fever had seized her? Yes. Yes, that was it. Only fever could have made her succumb to such madness, really.)

"Dark colors," she blurted out when Guinevere started complaining of clothes. "Dark colors and simple dresses. Or white. If you don't know what you're doing fashion-wise, just stick to simplicity. You won't become a trendsetter that way, but at least you'll avoid looking like a complete fool. Besides," you're pretty enough to stand out anyway, "the dress shouldn't wear the woman. The woman should wear the dress, if you know what I am getting at." Once again, Morgan was thankful for her ability to think on the fly, because if she had said what had first come to her mind-- gods, she never would have lived that down! Just the idea alone caused her to falter. Still, Morgan caught herself fast; she had always been good at that. At erasing her mistakes from existence. Letting herself become so relaxed with Guinevere was clearly a mistake as well, however, and a much larger one than a botched step. The woman belonged to Arthur. She belonged to Camelot, too, no matter how much she seemed to resent it. Feeling for her because she didn't seem to fit-- that was just stupid. Of course she fit in here; Arthur said so, which was all that really counted. Soon enough, Guinevere would be the queen, and Morgan would be dust at her feet. (Clearly, this mistake had to be erased, too. It was a sweet kind of stupidity, but that didn't make it any less poisonous.)

"Hmm, I wonder about that," Morgan said. There were so, so many things she wanted to ask her, none of them even remotely acceptable to voice. 'What are you doing here?' was one of them. Guinevere reminded her of a swallow more than a canary - a bird not suited for a cage - and yet she had walked into one willingly. Why would anyone do that? Morgan probably knew, and that was part of the reason she didn't want to hear the answer. (Not a difficult puzzle to solve, really. Why people got married wasn't a mystery. Earlier, she had thought it might have been a case of Arthur taking whatever he desired, but Guinevere being who she was, that couldn't be it. No, her fire would have burnt him to ashes.)

"What about sir Lancelot, then? Does he not know you, my lady?" she heard herself say. For some reason, her tone was sharper than before; one could easily cut on it. "Apparently you've grown close. The whole castle talks about it." About the flowers he brought her every day and the smiles he reserved solely for her, too. Many maids admired Lancelot, but from what she had heard, he only had eyes for Guinevere. Why had she claimed to be lonely, then? Surely she must have noticed that? Perhaps-- oh. Perhaps she was subtler than she gave her credit for, and was trying to manipulate her through sympathy. Well, too bad! Such lowly tricks did not work on Morgan le Fey.
 
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ellarose

wanderer
It's like the magic in a fairytale wilting away at midnight all around them when Guinevere catches the change in Morgan's tone like the sharp end of a knife. That wasn't curiosity. More like... an implication about the way people talk. And what, exactly, is the whole castle saying about her and Lancelot? She has no idea. It turns out Morgan's heard more gossip than she has. Still. She didn't bravely offer to open up about herself just to-- to talk about Lancelot. She thought Morgan might be interested in something deeper than that shallow talk. Or maybe she's the one at fault for being too eager, for the chance to talk to someone about something other than Camelot for a change, and... disappointment sinks her like an anchor. Is this what the future's going to be? Being defined by the men who breathe in her general vicinity for the rest of her days?

"If '
knowing me' means he's the only person who's willingly spoken to me for days, then sure." Guinevere says, her voice taking on that thick, apathetic tone it tends to take before she loses her cool. She hadn't intended to make a jab at the way Morgan had been avoiding her, but there it is. The loneliness of the last few days creeps back in, a painful reminder of just how much she hates it here. She clips her eyes away, knowing how the hurt is usually so damned transparent in them, trying to wrap her mind around what rumors people might have started about her this time. The edge in Morgan's tone suggests she might even believe them. And that it isn't good. (Is it ever?) Is that why she's kept her distance until now? Guinevere's gut coils up tight with anticipation. "I've been teaching him what I know... Isn't that the same as what you've been doing with me? If people saw us right now, wouldn't it be true if they said we were close?"

Because, technically, it is true. In terms of proximity, they are standing close. Guinevere's feet have stopped moving amidst her thoughts. It's strange to her, now, how she was nearly at ease like this. Feeling safe enough to open up. Laughable. Naive. Now she wants to pull away so she can go scream into something. Scream at herself, maybe, for fooling herself. But she stays planted where she is, as if it's a test of will to see who steps away first.

"But we're
not close, are we? I mean, I don't know anything about you." And you just lost your chance to learn something about me. Guinevere narrows her eyes slightly, harnessing her frustration so that she can keep a level head. Unlike the ladies of Camelot, she prefers to confront her problems directly. Kill the damn beast before it can come back and haunt her. And that's exactly what she intends to do. No sidestepping the issue with grace and vague implications. "What are people saying about me and Lancelot?"
 

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