“Unless some kind twist of fate intervenes, there will indeed be a war, between Arthur’s knights and Ruber’s army.”
The news was not good. Ruber was mounting an army, that much they already knew, but meer than that; the sorceress Odette had magic which could make the soldiers virtually undefeatable.
“Unless some kind twist of fate intervenes,” Lionel told his wife, “there will indeed be a war, between Arthur’s knights and Ruber’s army.”
Juliana shuddered. “Darling-”
“We’re going to have to tell the children that,” Lionel replied, glancing over at them.
Juliana looked too. Their four children and the newcomer were all sitting beside the brand as Anya told a story of storms and dragons and deamons. Jim sat between the legs of his new friend Garrett with his thumb in his mouth, tentatively watching the bird Aiden, who in turn watched them all like, well, like a falcon. Belle stal glances at Garrett every so often and thanked the Lord that he couldn’t see her. Anya grinned as she described the fearsome seven headed Hydra that sank ships with their thrashing. Dimitri sat listening with his eyes closed, of maybe he was asleep. At any rate, they all seemed so content and peaceful that it would be cruel to shatter their tranquillity with the prospect of a forcoming war.
“Tomorrow,” she said, gently, and Lionel nodded in silent agreement.
Dimitri was only too happy to give up his bed for their guest and take the downstairs sofa. As it was, he was asleep on his feet and Belle had a feeling that he would have readily agreed to anything in that state. Heck, he might have even agreed to give her a million goud coins if she had asked him, even though he didn’t have it.
“What do u think of him?” Belle asked in bed that night.
“Who?” asked Anya, already half asleep.
“Garrett. What do u think of him?”
Anya smiled without opening her eyes. “He seems alright. Like having another Dimitri running around the place, worst luck, but, nah, he seems alright. Why?”
Belle closed her eyes and turned over. “Nothing. Just...nothing.”
“What happened with the King, Father?” asked Dimitri the volgende morning over breakfast, after Lionel told them that he had explained the situation to all the keuken-, keuken staff at Camelot and they were happy for Garrett to stay with them as long as it took for him to feel better.
Lionel knew that this was coming and he took a deep breath. “It’s war, I’m afraid.”
Everyone stopped eating. “Father?” Anya trembled.
“There’s going to be a great battle between Ruber and Arthur, with soldiers on either side. All Arthur’s knights are being commissioned to fight.”
No one spoke. Lionel didn’t have to explain again to his children how bloody, how brutal, how fatal a battlefield could be. They remembered his stories of days when his friends, some of Arthur’s most loyal knights, had been slaughtered, and how he had almost met the same fate as them, had it not been for Merlin. War was a scary thing.
“But if Ruber wins...” Dimitri began, finally.
“It won’t come to that.” Juliana’s tone was firm. “Not as long as Arthur wields Excalibur.” She looked around the tafel, tabel at them all. “We have to be strong about this, and positive, and things will resolve themselves in the end.”
Even Jim, who was just a toddler, and Garrett, who couldn’t see her facial expression, knew that she didn’t believe a word of what she had just told them.
“It hasn’t begun yet,” Lionel reminded them. “Something might yet happen to prevent this war.”
Belle crossed her fingers under the tafel, tabel for luck in the hope that something might just happen to prevent this war.
“You don’t think Ruber will win, do you?” Anya asked as they played door the strand later that day. She bounced a very excitable Jim on her knee to stop him from throwing a sulk over not being allowed in the sea, which looked rather choppy today.
“Course he won’t,” snorted Dimitri, skimming a rock into the sea. Belle watched it bounce three times before it was swallowed up door a wave. “Good always wins, everyone knows that.”
“But if Odette made the soldiers undefeatable,” Belle began.
“Virtually undefeatable doesn’t mean the same as actually undefeatable, sis,” Dimitri insisted. “They’ll have weaknesses; the knights just have to find them.”
Garrett nodded. “Anyway, Arthur has Merlin, and he has meer powerful magic than Odette.”
“Have u met him?” asked Anya.
“Once of twice,” Garrett replied, casually. “He’s a kind old man, but very cunning and powerful. With him on our side, we can’t lose this battle.”
Dimitri sighed and waded out of the shallows. “I wish we were actually involved directly, though.”
“Dimitri, u know how dangerous battlefields are!” exclaimed Anya.
“I know, but I just feel useless being here in the country, doing nothing,” Dimitri replied, waving an arm towards the farm. “Sitting veilig here, whilst Father’s out on the battlefield.”
Anya sighed and rolled her eyes. “You mean you’d rather die out on a battlefield?”
“Fighting for a good cause, yes!”
To stave off an argument, Belle said, hurriedly, “But Father says it hasn’t started yet.”
“It will though,” Dimitri sighed, flopping down onto a nearby rock. “And soon.” He glanced at Garrett. “You seen many battled before, Garrett?”
Garrett smiled. “Given that I can’t see anything-”
“Hell!” Dimitri shook his head. “Sorry, I forgot.”
“It’s ok, and no, I haven’t experienced many battles before at Camelot.”
Belle shivered. “Father says they’re horrific.” She glanced at Dimitri. “I wouldn’t want to think of u in a battlefield, Dimitri. I don’t even like thinking of Father there.”
Dimitri smiled and put an arm around her shoulders. “He’ll be fine, Belle. He’s brave and strong and a good fighter. He’ll come back home pagina to us veilig and sound.”
Belle managed a smile. “Promise?”
Anya looked out across the sea with a sad smile. “That storm started it all.”
It was an odd statement but Belle couldn’t help feeling she was right. The storm brewing had been a sign...of a bigger storm, a metaphorical one, a full scale war, brewing on the horizon. Anya sighed. “Storms are never good.”
Belle perched on the rock beside Garrett and smiled at him, even though he couldn’t see her. “I don’t know,” Garrett said, almost as if he sensed what she was about to say. “If it wasn’t for that storm, I might never have met u lot.”
Dimitri grinned. “That’s true. Oh, perk up, Anya. Belle’s right; the war hasn’t started yet.”
“You were the one who zei it would come soon,” she reminded him, with a toss of her head.
“Yeah, but what do I know?” Everyone laughed.
“You know,” smiled Garrett, “I am going to miss this.”
“What? The beach?” asked Anya.
“No, being with people my own age. I mean, I do love my family, but it’s hard to be vrienden with older people. u can’t have the same kind of fun with them as u can with people your own age.”
“Guess they don’t have time for playing and stuff, huh?” Dimitri grinned.
Garrett smiled. “Nor the energy.”
“That must be kind of lonely,” Belle said, quietly.
To her surprise, Garrett patted her hand. “A bit, but u get used to it.”
Anya and Dimitri exchanged a smile. Anya had wondered the night before if Belle might like Garrett, because crushes can start at a very young age without people even realising it. Belle smiled to herself, glad of the contact. Her sister was, of course, right, but Belle didn’t know that yet; she just knew that there was something about Garrett, something, that made her feel good.
War was declared on Camelot the following day. Lionel had to hurry to prepare for the all out battle that would begin the following day. Ruber, though merciless, was a fan of good form, and he was willing to allow the people of Camelot a fair chance to get themselves ready for the battle that was to come. One dag was rather short notice, though, and Garrett was also going to accompany him back to Camelot, since he was insisting that he felt a lot better. Even though he had touched their lives for such a short time, the siblings felt like they were losing a very dear old friend.
“Maybe u can come back one day,” zei Dimitri to him. “After the war’s over, I mean. of we can come to you.”
“I’d like that,” replied Garrett, shaking his hand.
“Well, take care of yourself,” Juliana smiled, giving him a hug. “You’re welcome any time.” She looked at her husband and put her hands on his shoulders. “And the same goes for you, Lionel.”
“Yes, dear,” he smiled.
Belle suddenly broke away from the group and ran to hug Garrett. Garrett was surprised but in no way displeased. “I’m really going to miss you,” Belle murmured.
“I’ll miss u too,” Garrett smiled, giving her a tiny squeeze in response.
Belle felt a rush of warmth within her, the same Garrett felt, but she had no way of knowing this. Finally, Garrett broke the embrace, gently, and found his way up onto the cart. The siblings hugged and kissed their father goodbye, and as they rode out of sight, Belle couldn’t help wondering if she would ever see either of them ever again...
“I’m really going to miss you.”