jacqueline & maixent
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Posted: Aug 18 2015, 03:58 AM
He had shouted at the top of his lungs. He'd never used such a tone with his friend before, though the fire in his usually soft blue eyes had shown he'd meant it just as harshly as he'd said it. He just couldn't stand it anymore. Any of it. The laughing, the comments made in jest, the attacks on his his honor, the insults to his physical and mental prowess. Today it was one step too far. The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
What had been said to provoke the violent reaction from the man who usually took such insults in stride? Who knows. It was all usually said in the same spirit. It could have been anything. It wouldn't have mattered. It wasn't the subject that had set him off specifically. It wasn't one thing. It was everything. From everyone. And he was tired of it.
Subservience was one thing. Being devoted, being submissive, being docile... It wasn't this. It wasn't the constant volley of hurtful words. It wasn't the barrage of abusive comments. There was a difference between bedroom masochism and being kicked into the mud for everyone else to laugh at. It wasn't having his manhood questioned in front of Queen and Country. No. He wasn't going to sit and be called weak anymore.
He'd left the room before his friend could even begin to understand his outrage. He'd left on that word and that word alone. 'Enough'. Heavy leather boots hit stone floors with purpose, turning a corner before anyone had time to think of following him. He pulled off his gauntlets and let them fall to the ground as he walked, leaving them behind.
As he made his way out of the castle his chest heaved inside his steel-plate armor. There were no tears, because he seethed to hotly with rage for them to come. His hand gripped the hilt of his sword tightly, knuckles as white as his armor, as if silently threatening the world as he walked undisturbed.
He arrived at the stables completely uninterrupted in his dark mood. He'd passed a Card along the way, one with a familiar face to him now, but the man had said nothing. He was grateful for it, because he would have had nothing to say to him that the Card hadn't already assumed.
He closed the stable doors behind him and began to tear off pieces of his armor, throwing them across the hay-covered floor with metallic thuds loud enough to terrify the horses. He didn't care. He didn't care about any of it.
His armor. His position. His purpose in the castle. His servitude. His oaths. None of it mattered. None of it had ever mattered. No one had ever wanted him to return to the castle after the current Queen had taken over. No one had asked him to return to the woman who had broken his heart and married another man in the same time frame. No one had told him to swear fealty second, again. No one had cared for him enough to desire his presence, least of all the two people he cared for most, the people who scorned him most.
As he tossed his final piece of armor to the ground he sighed heavily, expelling as much poisonous spirit out of himself with one breath as he could. He let the remaining wrath simmer as he stared at his work. All of it was his work. From the paulderons to the mail, he had made that armor himself. He'd made dozens just like it, with variations on design, which arm was the dominant one, different styles, and they all laid in his personal armory at the back of the stables. But this. These bits of his work scattered across the room wherever they had landed... This was a battlefield.
It brought back memories. Soldier against soldier, armor against armor, steel against steel. Hoof beats in damp earth drowned out by the wounded cries of men. Himself on horseback, wearing much the same armor. His dear friend at the head of the infantry line with armor more red with blood than paint. A heavy weapon had sat in both their hands, both stained red over silver with the number of enemies they had been plunged into. For one, a sword. For the other, a lance. Both deadly instruments of war.
And yet this proved to remind him of the things his friend said so often to hurt him.
"That's not a weapon, it's a damn toy for your silly games."
"This isn't a sport any more than chess is a sport, and at least chess requires some intelligence."
"I have trouble believing you were ever IN a war. You were probably cowering the whole time."
He unsheathed his sword and plunged it into the wood of the stable wall with a swift motion and a cry of fury. The horses neighed loudly behind him, startled by the sound. A few kicked the gates of their pens. The sound of their distress did nothing to quell his anger.
He stood there shaking for what felt like an eternity, grip still tight on his sword in spite of the fact that it was buried deep enough in the wood to threaten appearing on the outside. He slowly calmed himself and withdrew his hand from the blade, leaving it where it lay. It was worth nothing to him.
He went to his armory and claimed two small daggers for himself instead, tossing aside his sword scabbard in exchange for a more discreet dagger belt. He'd always been more proficient with daggers than a sword. Far better with his bare fists as well, but at least a dagger could kill if need be... and need might.
He looked at the white sleeves of his shirt and decided he could stand the color no longer. He changed into a black shirt with a read leather jerkin unlaced at the top, approving of the new color scheme as he walked over bits of his old armor back to the main stables. He could feel the fire dying inside of him with each step, quenched by the catharsis of the last half hour or so.
He didn't know if he asked it out loud or in his head, but he certainly asked it. 'What now', indeed. He'd yelled at his friend, deserted his post. He'd defiled his armor and all but ruined his sword..... and he'd all but abandoned his Queen and his oaths to her. He didn't know what to do. He didn't know how to begin to reconcile all these thoughts.
He opened Branwen's pen and quickly had her set with a saddle, pulling himself onto his favorite horse with ease and swiftness before ordering her out of the stable. He rode across the field that separated the stables from the gates, letting Branwen pick up speed as they reached the cobblestone path that lead out into the city. He passed a couple guards as he exited the gates, ignoring their shouts of protest against his speed and questions on where the knight could be going out of armor at this time.
That was his decision. It had been made. He quickly made his way through the streets, leaving the castle behind him. He gave one final glance back at it as it disappeared behind other buildings.
He rode out of the city, letting Branwen slow down after they were well past the city limits and deep into the small towns on the outskirts. They continued well into the night, and he didn't give himself the opportunity to regret anything. What was done was done. Even if he went back now and begged he wasn't sure he could get his position back. Stripped of title, honor, rank, pride... None of it mattered anymore. All of it was behind him. Even his greatest loves were now his enemies.
He found himself at the border of a dark and foreboding wood, and with a deep breath he dismounted his horse. He kissed her on the nose, patted her neck gently, and gave her the gesture to return home. Branwen seemed momentarily confused, but she was as loyal a horse as he had been a knight, and so she trotted off back the way they'd come.
He adjusted his clothes, felt the daggers on his belt, and sighed softly as he ran a hand through his hair. Did he really dare to do this? It could end two ways, and there was no guarantee one would be less bloody than the other. But as he hesitated he thought of his friend's jeers and the laugh they elicited from his queen, and he stepped into the Tulgey without a word.
He walked for an hour, making it deep into the trees, making sure he could see nothing but groves for miles around. He inhaled the thick musty scent of moss and earth and sealed whatever fate had in store for him with a word. One word, much the way the road had began. Whether it would result in his death or a new allegiance, he didn't care. Either way, the pain was ended.
"Not one word, not one gesture of yours shall I, could I, ever forget." -Tolstoy
Posted: Aug 30 2015, 10:16 AM
The dark, sinister emptiness of the Tulgey Wood was all that answered the Knight- the echo of his own desperate cry slowly fading into silence, and the quiet lingered. That is not to say he was alone, for the one he cried out for had indeed heard him. A dense fog had settled near the roots of the thorn-wrapped trees, and within it nestled an indiscernible shape. Be it of physical form or of no more substance than the smoke surrounding it was impossible to tell; it would not be the first time an apparition had appeared within the Wood, born of man's own paranoia and superstition. Stranger things roamed Wonderland than a mere hallucination, after all.
It had been silent for so long after Lance's shout that the sound was almost blasphemous in the way it disturbed the peace, for while the tone was softer than the Knight's had been- it was no less loud. It echoed about the clearing, leaving its origin unknown, for it could well have come from all around. No other word followed it, answering word for word it would seem: allowing the disgraced Knight to explain himself, explain why he had come.
Not long after the voice had finally faded into nothingness, two eyes opened in the gloom. They seemed attached to no physical form- merely hovered in the smoke a few metres in front of where Lance stood. Red eyes, with an engorged pupil. It was as though they were drinking in the sight of him, delighted by his presence. It was easy to imagine the crescent shaped smile beneath it, fangs and all, though it had yet to manifest.
That fatal smile, that had toppled an empire. Destroyed lives.
Yet only the eyes could be seen, focused on the Knight that had called the Cheshire from his lair, demanded his presence. Judas was giving Lance the floor, command of the stage- intrigued to know just what it was that had caused the Knight to flee the Palace, to come to him now.
What could possibly drive the White Knight to such a blatant act of treason?
Are you sure you wanna play this game? Are you sure you wanna play it?
Posted: Aug 30 2015, 03:08 PM
Lance stood there, boots in the damp grass. He flinched as Judas's single word shattered the silence, but he seemed almost relieved by it as well. Good. The Cat was here. Judas was listening...and he was giving Lance all the time in the world to explain why he was here. His arms outstretched, blue eyes cold and lost as he met the red eyes in the shadows.
"I am here, wearing your color, Judas. Well, wearing both colors, but the red can be removed." He undid the top laces of his blood-red jerkin, leaving his throat bare." Even this thin leather jerkin can be torn apart by a dagger or claw. My basic nature has turned from the dazzling white knight in full jousting armor...to this. Whatever this is. This rougish outfit, new weapons... A new look to match a new allegiance, perhaps."
Lance let out a weak chuckle and his arms fell limp to his sides. He began to pace slowly in his spot as he spoke. He usually reserved his pacing to when he was alone. When he was thinking over his past failures. This wasn't so different. He'd already thought of them all, and now he had the chance to voice them to someone who he knew was listening. His voice was shaky and pausing as he tried to gather his rapidly shifting thoughts. "You know, in the Human world.... it's funny. The White Knight, he would always win because he was braver, stronger, more 'pure of heart', had more honor, more pride, better title. I had all of that. I DID. I had it all. I WAS the White Knight. Was."
Lance smirked coldly. It was a strange expression on his usually innocent and cheerful face. Though now it was cast over with the occasional flicker of a fire inside of him. "And the human stories of the Black Knight. The Black Knight in the stories was a cheater, a liar, scoundrel, villain. And he always lost to the brave, bold White Knight because the White Knight had HONOR. I had honor. Had. "
He stopped in his place and returned his empty gaze back to the red eyes hovering before him. He noticed his own use of past tense. Had he committed to this so fully already? Yes. Yes he had. Now he was just explaining it. It was more for himself than for Judas, if he were honest with himself. He needed to speak. He'd spent so long keeping this inside. Keeping quiet. Afraid to show these feelings to those around him. "So what am I doing here? Why have I abandoned my honor? Abandoned my post? Abandoned my oaths? Abandoned my friend? Abandoned my QUEEN? "
He shook his head and began to pace again, this time more rapidly. His was starting to emphasize more with the growing anger in his voice, nearly shouting some of the words. "In the human stories the red knight was the LESSER. The red knight was GALAHAD, Lancelot's illegitimate son. Useless, weak, only managing to get anything DONE if he had Lancelot's help. No claim to anything, even less of a claim than the noble-blooded Lancelot. And that was how it was SUPPOSED to be. LANCELOT was the strong one. Lancelot was the HONORABLE one. Lancelot had the queen's affection."
Lance couldn't help but smirk again. He'd read the stories so many time. He'd based so much of his life around them. He knew every Lancelot story ever told, and had even written a few in his own head. He had filled his heart and soul with every letter, and tried to follow the example of his namesake. He nodded slighty. "Because the White Knight is always supposed to get the girl, isn't he? LANCELOT was always supposed to get the Queen. He DID! He got the queen! LANCELOT....was a true knight. "
Lance blinked, tears threatening his wrath-filled eyes. ".....I thought I had that, you know? I did! I thought I had that. I was in the queen's favor, her favored knight while the Red Knight was just her executioner. I was engaged to a noble, a princess, a beautiful woman... and then the Queen was sent away, and the princess took over. And I was pushed aside. For... MAIXENT." Lance laughed outright. " Some... random, mercenary, commoner with no more claim to the throne than a slimy fungus has claim to the sunlight. "
Lance's eyes fell to the grass, body tensing visibly, gripping the handle of a small dagger on his belt. He was saying too much. Judas could use all of this information, he knew. He knew what he was doing. He was giving Judas as much information as he could, in his own way. Perhaps divulging so much would put him in the Cat's favor... or the cat would decide he'd gotten enough from him and would kill him when he finally shut up. He didn't care. He didn't. If he died he hoped Judas would use the information to full advantage.
"...I could have been king. I could have been the human Arthur. Instead I stepped back. I served. I worked. I obeyed the orders of both the woman who spurned me and the man she left me for. I willingly gave myself, my fealty, my skills, to them. I even devoted my very being to the Red Knight more often than he would admit to having it. " He emphasized each of his traits individually, listing them, wrapping himself in that old cloak of pride that he used to wear so often back in the old days.
He inhaled slowly, a shiver rolling up his spine as the adrenaline from his rage flooded his system. "But they scorned, and jeered, and laughed, and wounded me, and wounded my pride, and used me for their gains while giving me none to call my own. "
He opened his arms again and slipped down to one knee, face to the dirt. "And so here I am before you, KNEELING before you, bowing my head.... to the CAT. To the VILLAIN, to the SCOUNDREL, to the KNAVE. Because..." He laughed and looked up at Judas again. "... Because that's not how it works in real life, is it? Because real life isn't like the stories. WONDERLAND isn't like the stories, even if the humans think so. HUMAN stories don't come true."
He stood slowly, expression going soft. "Are you going to kill me, Judas? I don't see why you wouldn't. After all, I am-" he shook his head "-WAS the White Knight. What else would you do, if you had the knight right here? If I were the RED knight you wouldn't hesitate to kill me, would you, Judas? But no. Here I stand instead. The former White Knight....Either your next victim or a new humble servant. " He said the options quite bluntly. He knew one of these were his fate. He'd known since he set foot in the woods.
"I was always loyal to the Queen. But as you see that loyalty has wavered. Would you be able to trust me?" He tilted his head at his own question, already knowing the answer. "No. You wouldn't trust me. I don't blame you, I don't trust me either. Would you be able to use me? SHE used me too. Jaq used me...They've all used me." He grabbed the fabric of his vest and tugged on it. "Would you like me to pull aside this red jerkin? Remove what little remains my previous life and loyalties? I'd be left dressed in all black. YOUR color. Your color... The color of the evil knight from the stories. "
He looked at his hands on the red leather, and reflected on it for a moment. Red wasn't his color. It was Achilles's color. And Achilles had scolded him so often for wearing it. It was Jaq's color. "Shall I take up that mantle? Will I pursue that path? Am I willing to become that Black Knight, who deserves no place in a knight's court? Would I be willing to become a traitor? I suppose if I've come this far ...." He chuckled darkly to himself as he found the answer. "I suppose if I'm THIS far, I suppose I will. "
He looked up from his hands, addressing the cat more directly now than he had been this whole time. "I will be your knight, Judas, or you will slay me here where I stand- I know you have the power and I know I've given you enough information that I may have given you all you need. But I'm not going back. That isn't an option. I'm not going back. I'm not going to be scorned any longer. Not going to look into the face of the woman I love and watch her give me an empty look when we were once engaged. Watch her SLEEP with my 'best friend' and a mercenary commoner who took my rightful place at her side. "
His fist clenched again and he slipped down to one knee again. This servitude. This controlled position. This was his natural state. He would either die this way- impure, without honor, without title, without love.... Or he would become the Black Knight of the Human stories and make those qualities his armor.
"So tell me, Judas, what have you decided? Because I have decided this. "
"Not one word, not one gesture of yours shall I, could I, ever forget." -Tolstoy