The first thing the previously slumbering Artoria heard was a faint mewing sound. It was close. Near her face to the left. As her senses slowly clawed their way back to full function, she was struck with a sudden stiffness in her limbs. With a groan, her eyes snapped open and she sat up in a sudden jerking motion. The former King of Knights blinked, scanning the room she found herself in, but not really taking in any of the details until she realised she was staring at Rhongomyniad and a suit of armor laying in a neat bunch near a closet door.
The room was fairly messy looking, with a few cans of soda, as well as an empty healing potion bottle, laying on the nightstand, a mess of clothes and pillows laying on the floor in piles much less organized than the neat bunch Artorias own armor was in. The rooms furniture was pretty ordinary looking, through the walls were plastered with images of things like dragons and weapons, and a model of a dragon even sat on top of a dresser.
Of course, the question this brought to mind was that if Artorias armor was quite clearly not being worn by herself...then what was she wearing? Looking down, she saw the crimson fabric of a bathrobe that bunched up tightly around her chest, explaining the discomfort she had been feeling. More importantly, she also noticed a solid grey cat laying next to her. Meeting the felines gaze, Artoria surmised this feline must have been responsible for awakening her, and that was a good thing too. It was always concerning to suddenly find yourself in a strangers bed wearing clothes that were not yours.
Rreow!" the more likely than not spoiled cat meowed again, most likely demanding the former king pet it. ".....What?" The demanding wailing of the feline did not go unnoticed but Artoria merely stared. I do not know what you want." Dismissive and uninterested in the selfish demands of the four legged fur ball, she threw the covers off herself, accidentally covering the cat in the process, and climbed out. Her bare feet touched the roughness of the white carpet, and the stiffness in her limbs was began to fade.
The former king made her way towards her armor, taking the helmet into her hands when she was close enough. As this place was relatively peaceful, apart from the irritating wailing of that cat, it was a good opportunity to change into a more practical outfit. Artoria started by removing the robe she wore letting it fall to the ground in a bundle. She started from the bottom up slipping the sabatons of her armour on first, but paused when she noticed a deep scratch in her armours otherwise unmarked surface.
How did this get here
.? In fact how, or why, am I even in this room to start with
" Seeming to forget the fact she was relatively unprotected, Artoria paused, her mind wandering into the fog of her memories. The last thing she remembered was fighting...yes, she had been fighting. In her adventures in the Sea of Moondust, she had stumbled into the territory of a large, stone, quadropedial lizard, which had not taken kindly to her presence. Long story short, she had lost the ensuing conflict but then somebody saved her: a figure dressed in silver and crimson armor. Who was the warrior in silver and crimson armour; it was a detail her memory was a bit blurry on. The only indicator of what laid beyond the bedroom was the distinct scent of frying oil hanging in the air.
That atrocious scent assaulted Artorias nostrils. She snorted, trying to clear it from her sinuses but no matter what, the offensive aroma lingered.Repulsive
." to put the offensive scent out of mind and most importantly out of nose, she focused on armouring up. Artoria tightened the straps of her sabatons, sealed her legs away inside the black greaves, wrapped the tasset around her waist, covered her chest in the appropriately named breastplate, and most importantly, slipped her helmet over her facial features.Taking a few moments to flex her limbs and ensure everything fit correctly, the king took a firm hold of her lance before forcing the door open. She marched out into whatever lied beyond, eager to find the source of the smell, but more importantly track down Llamrei.
The bedroom opened into a short hallway, which in turn led to a wide open combination of a reasonably modern looking living room and kitchenette, where the scent hung even stronger in the air. She wouldnt have much time to get a good look at the room, however, given she was greeted by a very familiar face.Oh, youre awake." the person told her, in somewhat bitter and standoffish tone. Artoria knew this figure. Blond hair, slender body, a foul expression, and a bitter tone of voice. It was her wayward son the Knight of Betrayal him(her)self: Mordred.
An awkward silence hung heavily in the air as the former king stared at her treacherous spawn. There was no active hatred or malice in Artorias glowering, simply an intense amount of distrust but it was with good reason: the last time the two of them met, it had resulted in one of them dying. Why are you here? I abdicated the throne. Whatever rebellious war youre fighting now will find no victory here." The callous nature in which Artoria questioned her son may have seemed cruel, but in fact, it was simply the ruthless king questioning her treasonous child in the most direct fashion possible.
Mordred grit her teeth, in a rare display of holding her tongue, though it looked like she wanted to growl. She took half a moment to compose herself, before simply replying, Tch, it isnt obvious?" before taking a pair of plastic tongs, and placing food that would look unfamiliar to Artoria on a plate, This is my apartment. I couldnt exactly leave you to get killed by some damn stone lizard."
She placed it on the counter, before opening the fridge, to take out a red can, and opening it. Thats my job, and like hell Im letting a pile of rocks take it."
Having never been one for conversation Artoria held her peace for now. I see
" she found it hard to feel any real sense of gratitude towards Mordred. It was not that Artoria wished to die, or else she would have simply ended her life in the most direct manner possible, but she believed that those who willingly stepped onto a battlefield should be prepared for the inevitability of death, regardless of whether it was sooner or later.
Mordred picked up the plate again, before putting it on the counter closest to Artoria, That will be another day though. Right now, youre my guest, so I guess the rules of hospitality say I have to feed you and play nice." She told her, before pushing the plate and can over towards her father.The plate had what looked to be home-cooked fried chicken and potato wedges on it, and the can simply looked to be some grocery store brand cola.
Having seen the plate slide towards her Artorias head looked down and paused slowly pondering what was before her. Chicken? A strange red container? And that pungent aroma of oil permanating everything. It was obvious that what Mordred had placed before her was food...but could it be trusted? Mmmm
.What exactly is this red container? This world is very strange." Despite that, hunger beat out paranoia and the knight sat down on a nearby stool. The knight removed her helmet and began to devour the meat in a manner that could only be described as relentless. Even though Artoria was using cutlery. the fried chicken was swiftly devoured savagely torn apart. The soda. on the other hand, was left untouched due to Artorias lack of familiarity with such a thing.
Silence. That was the kings initial response, or lack of response, to the meal she had so impatiently consumed, after finishing. Did she like it? Had she hated it? Had she merely eaten it due to a lack of options? I
.." There was a series of awkward pauses as Artoria tried to speak almost as if she knew what she wanted to say but not how to say it. Seconds." Even though she did not directly state it, the fact Artoria demanded seconds and the uncomfortable expression she wore implied that she did, in fact, like it to a certain extent.
Mordred turned away, she she took the plate, grinning slightly for a moment, despite her disdain, once her back was turned to the former King of Knights, before returning to the pans. By the time Artoria could see Mordreds face again, shed returned to her disdainful scowl. The second helping would be slightly cooler than it was the first, but the king would find the portion was reasonably generous.
As was the case with the prior plate, Artoria yet again devoured the food presented to her. She was unsure how to describe the taste, or how she felt on that matter, but
...her feelings could easily be summed up as not hating it. Sit Despite having abdicated the throne Artorias voice still carried the same commanding tone it always had. She pushed the empty plate, and the can, to one side having issued her proclamation nay her command. The former kings will had been made manifest.
Mordred narrowly avoided rolling her eyes. Despite having abdicated the throne, even by her own admission, she still thought herself in command
and of someone who had openly and violently betrayed her, no less. Mordred did indeed sit down, though at a leisurely pace, to indicate it was of her own will, rather than just because she had been told to. Yeah?"
Regardless of her childs pace or her own thoughts on the matter, Mordred had still sat down. Do you still desire to be king?" Without missing a beat nor with nary an awkward break in her speech the former king asked the one question that had always cast a shadow over her relationship with her son: Did Mordred still wish to be king? It was a fools errand for anyone to want to be king, as even Artoria, one who went down in history as a good king, believed it was an error for her to have been made one.
Mordred was surprised she had even been asked that question in the first place. Shed sparked a full-scale rebellion. Shed called together Artorias enemies, foreign and domestic, under her banner. She was surprised Artoria even thought she might have felt otherwise. After everything Ive done, do I even need to say?" she asked, her tone more surprised that Artoria even asked that question than angry, Look, are you getting at something?" Shed never known her father to ask stupid questions, after all.
Abandon your desire to be king." Despite her neutral tone of voice there was a certain pain to Artorias eyes. I no longer care for the throne and I have no reason to continue our war, but me becoming king was a mistake. No matter what I did, I only delayed the inevitable. Vortigern was right about everything." She clenched her fingers forming a fist as her gauntlets bent before rising to her feet hiding her face away under her draconic helmet. Where is Llamrei?" There was no doubt in her mind that the horse had survived but the question was how well had Mordred looked after him.
Mordred clenched her hands underneath the counter. Artoria could not simply call off the war. To end a war, both had to consent. Had Artoria simply stopped there, she would have addressed that then and there. Instead, the knight brought up Vortigern, Really?" she rhetorically replied, My rebellion wasnt exactly some supernatural event. It was a war of succession. Vortigern got a lucky guess in that it didnt work out, and it wasnt anything about what kind of power you had."
Regardless of the involvement of any supernatural elements, my actions resulted in your rebellion. The people I wished to protect only had further trauma visited upon them by a war my actions created. If I am a hero, then surely I should be hated by the people, for that is my burden." For once in Artorias life she felt the pangs of emotion: a gnawing doubt and self-loathing worming through her shattered psyche.She expressed her frustrations at her wrong doings with a prolonged sigh. Where is my steed?" Artoria believed nowadays all she really had to her name was Llamrei, her lance, and her fighting abilities. It was why she endlessly threw herself into battle after battle.
Llamrei was boarded at a private stable temporarily. Theres a small riding park some distance for here. Ill give you the address later." Mordred was getting a bit annoyed, and a bit of her own guilt was starting to gnaw at her, herself. She knew she bore at least part of the blame for Camlann, after all. But for crying out loud... unbelievable." Mordred muttered, before telling her, Look, I started the Battle of Camlann. I started it with the belief that I would live through it, and could salvage it, and I figured even if I didnt, itd just be back to business as usual with you in charge, minus a knight or two."
She crossed her arms, as she continued, So, you know, If one of us had lived, Camelot would have had its king. I had allies I was on the good side of, and its not like you hadnt pulled the kingdom through worse. I didnt even know mother had put that curse on me."
But I did live and I was unable to pull my fractuated kingdom back together. Everything I ever achieved merely resulted in the same anarchy I strove to prevent." That was where the former kings thought process ended on the matter. She knew not what had happened after her death in the inferno that claimed her lands. You died on the Hill of Camlann and I survived yet my kingdom was impossible to save. War tore apart the land, my enemies descended like carrion birds on a corpse and I?...Am nothing but a fallen king. Your words are meaningless in the face of reality. I can only fight and destroy."
Wait, what?" Mordred told her, The way I heard it, after I died, a curse mother put on me compelled my body to land a killing blow on you." She sighed. Maybe she just got history wrong or something. She hadnt exactly been around for whatever came after her demise.
You know, it doesnt- look, what you couldnt have expected was in the first place was me. Its not like I gave you a bunch of warning signs." Mordred told her. This was unacceptable. Ally or enemy, she would not stand to see her former king in such a slump. Odd as it may have seemed, she wanted a proud knight and king to fall by her hand, not a depressed one.
." she sighed again and her shoulders slumped. Yes...you were the one thing I never could expect
..nor control. You may have died battling me but even then you succeed in breaking my kingdom." Despite how it sounded as if Artoria was accusing her treasonous son there was no hatred in her voice; if anything the neutral way she spoke was merely a statement of fact rather than anything else.
Of course the acknowledgement that Mordred had always been an unexpected element of anarchy in Artorias life implied one thing: that even now Artoria still did understand her child. I
...do not understand you. You wanted to be king. I was in your way. England may be a charred wasteland, but countries can exist as ideals. My current state is only supportive of your goal
.so why are you doing this?" There was accusation to the kings tone as she glared at Mordred distrustful of her sons motivations.
You have no reason to help me. You had no reason to save me. You may have died at Camlann but ultimately you accomplish your objective. The King of Knights was no more. Her throne lay empty. Her people leaderless. Her enemies tearing apart her kingdom." Paranoia, Artorias poor understanding of emotions and her general lack of empathy all came to a head as she yet again asked the one question that had been gnawing away at her heart since awakening. "Why do you care?"
I didnt want the end of Camelot. I wanted Camelot for my own." Mordred corrected her.
" Artoria was unsure how to react to that. Yes she supposed it was understandable that Mordred wanted Camelot for herself but that didnt satisfy Artoria. She sighed dejectedly and sat there staring at the empty plate before her.
Look, Im out of fried chicken. I guess I have ice cream, if you want that."
.dont know what I want
..." Never in her entire life had Artoria truly asked herself what she wanted. When she was young, she had simply trained to be a good king because that was her destiny. When she was king she simply wanted to be a good king because thats what her country needed. Now? Now she simply wanted to fight, but that was ultimately down to the fact she had nothing else she could do. The former king simply sat there staring at her son.
Neither do I. Not past fulfilling old grudges, at least." Mordred explained, Doesnt mean I havent been having fun."
Fun...I do not know what fun is, but if you do not know what you want...then why did you save me? You could have chosen to let me die. By your inaction, a choice you made, you would have achieved the one victory you never reached in life." Mordred was
.confusing. Immensely so. Artoria didnt understand their sons motivations! Why did they save her?! Why did they want to be king? Why hadnt they attacked already?! I am not your king nor anybodys. I have nothing you want. The Sword of Selection is not in my posession anymore, but if you truly want to fulfill your grudges...then I am right here." She stood up and took Rhon in hand pointing it towards Mordred.
She stood up, glaring at her father, old grudges coming to the surface, You still havent fully recovered. It wouldnt be satisfying. Especially not when youre like this." The former King of Knights shouldnt have been depressed.
She took a deep breath, and blushed slightly Dont get me wrong, I just saved you for later."
The blush on Mordreds face did not go unnoticed but it meant nothing to Artoria, at least not this version of her. Yes
.you did save me. You took me into your home. You fed me.You clothed me. You took care of Llamrei and preserved my equipment. By whatever logic exists, you should not have done that. It was counterproductive to your goals but still you did it. I do not understand why, but there is one thing I do know." Artoria lowered her lance and walked around to stand before her son an intense overtly serious expression decorating her face.
You are a Knight of the Round Table. The laws of chivalry demand I honour you. As such you have my gratitude son. I may not be king but you ultimately have my gratitude." Utterly unaware of the situation, the context, or how what she just said would affect Mordred, Artoria thanked her. She thanked Mordred. It was an odd turn of events, but as the King of Knights said, the chivalric code demanded she guard the honor of her fellow knight, no matter who they were.
Mordred blushed a little more, I-I mean, I was doing for-" she stopped, when the exact phrase registered, or more specifically a single word. She paused for a moment, before stammering in near-disbelief, Wait, d-did you just call me son?"
Of course I called you son. Despite the past, I no longer have a reason to oppose you. Camelot is gone, your rebellion is over, and I am not king." With no reason to not call Mordred son, even though the Knight of Betrayal was technically her daughter born through really weird intercourse, why wouldnt Artoria call her that? I have no reason to not acknowledge that factually, logically, and genetically, you are my son." It was a simple matter of the fact that the past was in the past. Whatever issues Mordred had with her father, they were in regards to a symbol of kingship that did not exist.
To say Mordred felt blindsided was a massive understatement. Shed expected the King of Knights to awaken, eat, reluctantly thank her, and leave with a promise of settling the score one day. Not for Artoria to call her son.
She blushed fairly deeply, I
you know, I think I would win the fight this time around, but
you do have a point. Camelot is gone, the rebellion is over. I was thinking, things..." She paused, re-evaluating her thoughts for a moment.
Y-you know what, just cancel the death match. Anything past that wouldnt work out, I guess. Yeah, never mind, I was about to have a dumb idea." She went to go get some bowls from the cabinet, pulling out two plain, white soup bowls, while trying to keep herself composed. Honestly, she didnt know what to think right now.
Maybe you would win, maybe you would not. I have no notion of what to do with my life apart from fight. I can not return to the past." Artoria watched her son and was curious as to why their face was red, but in truth, it was none of her business, despite her rampaging curiosity. In all honesty, the King of Knights was unsure why she was even here still. There was no physical force keeping Artoria here, nor did she have a logical reason to
.but honestly? Where else could she go? A lack of clarity in where to go next kept her here. She sat down upon a nearby stool and intensely watched her son pondering something.
Why is your face red?"
Hmm?" responded, looking back, Um, n-no reason, why?" she denied, almost as reflexively as pathetically, Ice Cream?"
Ice cream causes your face to grow red?....Truly this world has some very strange creations. What even is ice cream?" As puzzled an expression as the normally stoic Artoria could muster flashed across her face. It was a partial furrowing of the brow coupled with a faint curve to her lips. Camelot did not have ice cream after all so it was no wonder she didnt know the first thing about it.
come to think of it, it was more that stupid idea I had." She turned around back towards the cabinets, pulling out the drawer of utensils, trying to use the sound of clanging silverware to disguise the noise of a deep breath shed just taken to try to keep herself calm.
"...You are still as hard to understand as you always were An exasperated sigh escaped her lips as she decided to leave her son to whatever it was they were doing. That food you provided earlier. What is it called? I have never tasted anything so unusual." It was hard to tell if Artoria actually liked the food Mordred provided but, well she had asked for seconds, hadnt she?
O-oh, its called fried chicken." Mordred replied off-hand, her mind on other things.
.it was an acceptable meal. I would not be opposed to consuming such a thing in the future." It may have sounded detached and disinterested, but the faint forming of a small smile on Artorias face betrayed her true feelings. Fried Chicken...it is a shame Camelots cooks never knew of such a meal."
Mordred spent a second thinking, before responding with, Well
we could again sometime. I mean, well, I know it sounds crazy, but
I guess if were putting the war to rest, we could do something some time. Eat, spar, whatever." She gave her a slightly nervous grin, I mean, like were both the kind of people to make a ton of friends anyways, right?"
..I do not have any. Everyone I have met since arriving here has been nothing to me except a foe or an ally in combat
" a mournful smile crossed her face as she thought back to the Knights of the Round Table. The adventures she had with them were a pleasant but ultimately distant memory. But yes...I would not be opposed to the notion of sparring with you...or having more of that fried chicken
.son." Unintentionally she had put emphasis on the word son unaware of just how it affected Mordred.
She turned around again, and opened the freezer, taking a black carton out, emblazoned with the words Rocky Road. She barely managing to choke back tears, before taking another deep breath. So.. a-about that ice cream. Its pretty cold, but I think youll like it," she told her, as she scooped the confection into a couple of bowls, putting a spoon in each, before putting one before her father, and another in front of herself, as she sat down again.
The king took the bowl placed before her and calmly ate the ice cream inside appreciating the sweetness. The coldness was very odd and different to the food she was used to, but Artoria could see herself growing used to it, not that she could bring herself to admit liking something. Having preferences was a human privilege.
The two of them eating ice cream together so casually almost made it seem like they were not supposed to be mortal enemies; of course, supposed to be mortal enemies and actually being mortal enemies were very different from each other. Artoria had no reason to oppose her son anymore hence the restraint she was showing, and unbeknownst to her, neither did Mordred.
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