With Prince Uther securely placed in the Duke of Cornwall’s care for his novice training I was free to return to Camelot, the library and my studies therein!

As you might imagine I was more than a little excited about this prospect and so did not remain in Cornwall for long.

I did though take up Duke Diodantes offer of an escourt of sorts, it was more of return message to the King, or more specifically the Crown Prince, letting them know the offer had been accepted and that the Prince was in good hands.

So the messenger, a Sir Christian and I headed back to Camelot, the trip through Cornwall being very uneventful indeed, but upon crossing the border of Camelot, things became very strange, very quickly.

We had crossed the border by another – shorter – route, which wasn’t marked on any maps, one that led us to enter Camelot far closer to the Isle of the Blessed than the main one. So close in fact, we all but skirted the lake, it was quite a sight to see, it was the height of summer by then and there was no wind whatsoever. The surface of the lake was completely still, almost like a mirror.

The day was hot enough that we took every opportunity to water our horses, so we took the opportunity here a well.

Later on, of course, I would wonder at the wisdom of doing this, at the time I had forgotten Cedas’s comment that the Isle and the lake in which it sat was considered sacred by the Old Religion. So it proably wasn’t the place to have your horses drink.

They had only just bent their necks to beginning lapping at the still water when there was a voice behind Sir Christian and I.

“Do you usually enter someone’s home without permission?”

I jumped, while Sir Christian, ever a knight immediately drew his word.

“Oh, put that down, you’re the one tresspassing.”

The voice was familiar and as my shock wore off I realised it was the priestess, Nimueh.

She had her arms folded, looking at both of us rather amused.

“Who are you?” Sir Chrisitan demanded, not lowering his sword or relaxing in the least.

“Who am I?” Nimueh sounded even more offended. “The question is, who are you? Wandering onto my lands and threatening me with that weapon?”

“That's Sir Christian,” I blurted quickly, “and it’s me....Geoffrey of Monmouth, from the Camelot Library.”

I wasn’t really all that sure she would remember me, why would she anyway?

However, an extremely amused smile touched Nimueh’s mouth and she turned to me. “You’re far from home, aren’t you, young Geoffrey?”

“We were in Cornwall...Prince Uther and I, I mean.”

“Oh?” Nimueh definitely seemed interested now, but she gave Sir Christian a rather suspicious look. “But this is not the prince, time doesn’t change a person that much.”

“No, Prince Uther stayed behind in Cornwall, he’s Duke Diodantes novice now.”

“Is he?” The look in Nimueh’s eyes was confusing, it seemed like triumph, but she had nothing to do with any of this. Did she?

“Yes, and Sir Christian is from Cornwall and is delivering a message to confirm Prince Uther’s placement.”

“Ah, courtly customs then? Typical,” Nimueh rolled her eyes and laughed. She turned back to Sir Christian. “You can put that away, I’m not going to hurt you.”

Sir Christian did reshealth his sword and looked rather irritated. “I do not fear you will hurt me, madam.”

“You don’t? That’s a shame, because I could.” I thought I saw Nimueh’s eyes flash, but nothing happened, so perhaps it was just a trick of the light.

She moved away from us over to the horses giving each of them a pat on the neck. “You’ve brought such lovely horses here for a visit, so really, I can’t be angry at you. It is customary, however, to pray to the Goddess before disturbing the lake.”

Sir Christian gave an annoyed grunt and I swallowed. No-one would ever accuse me of being deeply religious, but I really couldn’t imagine praying to the Goddess. I couldn’t say I wouldn’t, especially to appease the priestesses, but I wasn’t all that comfortable with the idea either.

Still, I felt that I better offer some explanation. “We didn’t intend any disrespect, my lady.”

Nimueh waved a hand. “Oh, I’m sure you didn’t, although really, you should be glad I found you. Some of the other priestesses are not so kind.”

That made me shiver slightly, Nimueh laughed and looked as if she wanted to pinch my cheek as if I were some errant child. Fortunately, she didn’t.

Sir Christian’s jaw remained set and for the first time I wondered if he was indeed one as his name implied and a strong one at that. In which case this could become very uncomfortable, very quickly.

Fortunately, the horses had had their fill of water by then and were all ready starting to wander away, which was our cue to leave and quickly.

I bowed my head to Nimueh, hoping that at least would be considered respectful. “Thank you for allowing our horses to drink here, we’ll be on our way.”

Sir Chrisitan fortunately decided not to stir Nimueh and instead strided towards his horse, grabbing his reins and swinging into the saddle.

Nimueh actually seemed disappointed. "Leaving so soon?"

"We have no business with you, witch." Sir Christian spat the words out, his hand once again going to his sword hilt.

"Oh, is that how it is?" Nimueh didn't seem offended, if anything she sounded amused. She strode over to Sir Christian's horse looking up at him without the slightest hint of fear. "You're one of those sorts of Christians then, who hate what you can't understand? You should be more like young Geoffrey here, his father is a bishop, but you don't see him condemning anyone, do you?"

Sir Christian looked in my direction ad whilst Nimueh might not have found his stare intimidating I certainly did, I cringed and stepped back, out of the argument.

"It is no concern of mine what a spineless boy does," Sir Christian snapped. "I only know that you are wicked and seek to corrupt."

This rather harsh pronouncement was met with gales of laughter, truly, I don't believe I'd seen anyone so amused before in my life.

"So you have met me before?" She purred, swaying her hips suggestively.

Sir Christian's face reddened, his jaw set, his hand grasped the hilt of his sword and I, having spent the last six years in the company of Pendragon's was certain I'd never seen anyone so angry.

"Are you planning to chop my head off?" She goaded. "Rid the world of one more heathen?"

"I would if I could, but fortunately for you I am not in my own land." Sir Christian, with some effort it seemed let go of his sword hilt and grasped up his horse's reins once more. "I will not risk bringing censure upon Cornwall by sending you to your rightful place in the fires of Hell."

Nimueh tilted back her head and laughed. "And because this fine young man is here," she nodded in my direction, "I will not bring the fires right here to rid the world of some useless bigot." She gave me a smile. "For I would not wish to scar him for life."

I let out a breath I hadn't even realised I was holding and then swallowed hard, still fearful of how this would end.

With that Nimueh turned her back on Sir Christian and walked away, paying him no more mind. When she reached the lake's edge she dove into its still waters and disappeared for almost a minute before surfacing again and swimming on towards the Isle.

I felt a bit weak at the knees after this confrontation and it was some moments before I had the strength to mount my horse.

"Truly a woman of the highest evil," Sir Christian proclaimed as we started on her way once more. He appraised me, looking far from impressed. "Your father is a bishop, yet you don't speak out against the use of evil?"

I really didn't know what to say to that, except that I hadn't seen magic used for evil since I had encountered it. I checked that thought briefly, however, remembering Maxim and the Labrinyth, but I had no idea what had really happened there. It seemed some creature of magic had taken him, but then there were plenty of non-magical creatures did the same.

My lack of answer did not sit well with Sir Christian and needless to say the rest of the journey back to Camelot was awkward at best.
 
 
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