Title: Step By Step
Sequel to: Destiny Begun
Universe: Lost Princess Series
Characters: Chloe/Arthur, Knights, Merlin, Uther, Gaius, Lois, Lana
Disclaimer: Don't own
Summary: Step by step each chess piece begins to move into place for the real game to begin.
She knew her name.
Those four words seemed to haunt Arthur the rest of the night, as he sat next to Chloe by the fire. He didn't utter a word, barely listened to the stories she told them of (which he secretly was beginning to believe might actually be events she lived through herself). Arthur couldn't keep himself from remembering the way her eyes had gone hazy, almost as if in a trance, and she'd uttered those words that were haunting him now.
"I am Lady Guinevere, ward of the king of Camelot and promised daughter." She'd smiled, eyes so odd they seemed almost unseeing. "My men are here to escort me to my new home, and are overprotective because Camelot has many enemies who would punish the kingdom by hurting an ally."
Arthur hadn't noticed his sword slip from his grip until it'd clattered to the ground, but he had noticed that the sound seemed to have jarred Chloe out of the trance she'd seemed to be in, and she'd turned to him, confused and worried, enquiring about his health. He hadn't been able to say anything, hadn't been able to even open his mouth, just watching her in hope. Had her memory returned? Was this it? Was she his Guinnie again?
And yet it was Chloe once more...
But...when Sir Leon had mentioned the name Guinevere she'd gone pale in horror...almost as if...as if she'd recognized the name.
Almost as if she knew it.
And that was what had Arthur gazing at Chloe more intently than usual as the knights ate the food she'd created, all quite pleased and relieved at how much better she was than Sir Pellinore. Even Sir Pellinore seemed relieved, praising her for her culinary masterpiece, something which made her laugh and scoff at that word being applied to soup.
He didn't know what about what she was saying now caught his attention, but it did, and he listened.
"And then the princess married the ogre, and went to live with him in his swamp." Chloe declared with a flourish. "And they lived happily ever after...until the sequel at least."
There was a deep silence amongst his men, and Arthur began to feel that he'd missed out on something crucial. What ogre and princess had Chloe been talking about? And what exactly was a sequel?
"Why would she prefer to live as an ogre when she could have lived unhindered by the witch's spell and as a princess?" Sir Pellinore wanted to know, making up his face."It doesn't make any sense."
"She loved the ogre because he made her love herself." The runt, Merlin, declared with rolled eyes at the knight. "It's also why the dragon ended up with the donkey...and I have to say...that couple was more interesting for me."
A couple of the knights snickered while others mumbled their agreement.
A princess ended up with an ogre...and a donkey with a dragon...
What sort of things happened in the prison dimension Chloe had grown up in?
The knights on guard duty finished their shift and returned to the fire to eat, while their replacements left to start their shift.
"Okay, apparently I'm going to have to work up towards Shrek II." Chloe laughed, shaking her head as the knights served themselves. "How about a more traditional tale?"
The knights didn't speak, but leaned forwards, giving enough of an answer.
Arthur was struck, once more, with surprise at how well his men were taking to Chloe. She seemed to know how to deal with men, and while that made him somewhat uneasy and resentful of whomever had given her the practice, she seemed more of the mothering type...and he believed that his knights sensed that and were reacting to it.
"Once upon a time, in a land Far, Far away..." she began...but was unable to continue as the sounds of swords clashing erupted around them.
"BANDITS!" One of the knights on duty yelled.
The knights all rose as one, unsheathing their swords as all of a sudden the rogues emerged from the woodlands around them.
"A favorable night to you, noble sirs." The leader smirked as he shouldered his own sword, proving his lack of fear for the knights. "Now kindly give us what you have and we'll let you travel through the rest of these lands with your lives."
Arthur sneered, stepping protectively in front of Chloe, sword trained on the leader. "Kindly leave now and we might let you and your brigands leave with your lives."
The leader shared a look with his men before laughing. "Do you not see you're outnumbered?"
Suddenly even more bandits emerged from the woods.
"Numbers mean nothing." Arthur sneered smugger, his knights not seeming very worried either.
Their confidence obviously made the bandits hesitate, before the leader finally snarled and turned to his men. "Kill the men!" His eyes went evilly to Chloe. "The woman is mine."
Chloe's eyes widened.
Oh no she wasn't!
Arthur snarled and charged the leader, their blades meeting only seconds before the knights and the brigands followed.
Chloe looked around her, eyes wide. She'd never been in the middle of combat before, and she felt in shock, and a little scared as she looked all around her. Lois had taught her hand to hand combat, and despite being in this dress would hinder her movement somehow Chloe was sure she'd be able to defend herself if someone came at her with just his hands...but how could she go up against swords?
One of the bandits came at her, and Chloe's eyes widened as suddenly a root rose from the ground and tripped the bandit, who fell hard.
The blonde turned to Merlin in time to see his eyes flashing gold.
She looked around her, terrified someone else had seen that. No one seemed to have, and she raced to Merlin, grabbing his hand and forcing him to look at her as she lowered her voice and glared at him.
"No matter what happens, don't use magic."
His eyes widened. "I-I don't-!"
"I know who you are, Merlin." Chloe whispered, staring up into his shocked, light blue eyes. "I know what you can do, and I know what you become. But no one else can know. Not yet." She tightened her hold on him and her voice lowered urgently. "Magic in Camelot is a death sentence, and every single one of these men will not hesitate to hand you to the king to be executed once you're on Camelot's soil if they were to know that you're magic."
He looked younger and scared.
"No magic." She whispered.
"No magic." He whispered.
Relieved, the blonde sent him a smile before letting go of his hand and pushing him out of the way as an arrow flew towards and between them, embedding itself into a tree just behind them. Chloe's eyes widened at the arrow before turning towards the shooter, finding him now aiming at Arthur, who fought three different bandits at the same time. The prince was incredibly impressive and formidable, and for a moment Chloe was distracted by just how amazing he was, but then she remembered the fact that a bandit was aiming an arrow at him.
Merlin gave a little yelp and ran when one of the bandits came after him with a sword.
Looking around desperately, Chloe ignored Merlin's plight, knowing he could take care of himself. She grabbed one of the logs of wood out of the fire, half of it in flames as she threw it at the archer. It instead hit the man standing in front of him, but the force of the blow barreled the (now on fire) man into the archer, causing the arrow to fly wide and pierce through the neck of one of the men fighting Arthur.
Chloe didn't have time to celebrate because suddenly she was grabbed from behind, a hand around her mouth, silencing her screams, another with a blade to her throat.
"Don't make any noise." The leader of the bandits growled into her ear, the blade digging threateningly deeper.
Chloe let herself be pulled out of the battle, deep into the forest, and when the sounds of the battle were distanced he let her go, sneering.
"Take off your clothes." He ordered.
Chloe glared at him.
This was just like something that would happen to Guinevere. She'd get kidnapped by some lusty fool and them get 'ravaged' by him, only to afterwards be rescued by Arthur or Lancelot.
Too bad for this pig she wasn't Guinevere, and there was no way she was taking this lying down...
...or in any other position for that matter.
Still, to bid her time, the blonde slowly removed her warm cloak, letting it cascade down to her feet.
He chuckled lecherously, dropping his sword and beginning to work on his trousers.
Chloe's fingers worked over the strings of her bodice, loosening them, eyes never leaving him.
The man surged forwards and slapped her viciously, the back of his palm connecting with her cheek and causing her head to swing as she fell to the ground with the blow. "Don't look at me like that! You think you're too good for a man like me?" He snarled. "I'll show you!"
Uther wasn't exactly happy with the fact that Guinevere had forced his hand into signing a contract with her, but there must be a reason as to why Arthur hadn't just dragged her back to her rightful place, and that meant this was Uther's only choice. So he'd signed the documents and had sent the knight riding back to meet up with the others at the border of Escetia and Camelot. It gave him more time to concentrate on the issue at hand.
Gertrude and...Elaine...had both awoken and unlike Guinevere they knew who they really were. Apparently, the fact that they'd realized that they were in a prison dimension was what had set them free...and what had allowed them to be in their true world with knowledge that their alternate identities were false. That didn't mean that they remembered their lives as Gertrude and Elaine, preferring, like Guinevere, to go by the names they'd been given in the other world.
Lois Lane and Lana Lang.
Gaius had spoken to the girls further, instructing them on the policy on magic in Camelot, of what was expected of them, and what would happen to their friend if they told Guinevere who she truly was.
It was obvious from their expressions that both girls truly cared for young Guinevere, the thought of her death horrifying them. They dealt with it differently though. Like the companion she was, Gertrude was the most worried, pacing back and forth most un-lady-likely, saying they should hunt Nimueh down and force her to give them all their memories of their true lives back or to at least lift the spell on them so they could tell Guinevere the truth.
Uther somewhat liked that girl. She reminded him of Morgana.
Elaine on the other hand was wary of going after Nimueh, reminding Gertrude of the same possession incident Guinevere had mentioned before, in which witches had taken over their bodies to destroy the world.
He approved of her wariness when it came to magic as well.
Uther wondered, since these two obviously didn't like and didn't trust magic, why Guinevere was different.
He wasn't blind, he'd seen the fury and agony in her face every time a witch was condemned to death.
He'd heard the many times Arthur had pulled her apart from the others to hiss a reminder to her that this was the ways of the kingdom, the boy obviously terrified at the thought of his own father hearing the girl's whispers of discontent and Uther punishing her for it.
Then again, Uther had killed people for less.
Maybe...maybe now that she had Gertrude and Elaine with her once more Guinevere would calm, would learn to accept things and her role in them, and would stop wanting to return to that place she'd been held prisoner for so long.
Uther hope this was so...
...for her own good.
"No one's gonna save you." The bandit sneered through rotten teeth before throwing himself on top of Chloe, covering her body with his.
She smiled up at him. "Who says I need someone to save me?"
His smile wilted slightly, confusion entering his eyes.
Remembering what Lois had drilled into her brain about what to do if in these situations, Chloe brought her knees up under him to off balance him as she struck up against his chin with the heel of her palm as hard as she could. He howled in pain, and she wiggled, thrashed, managing to push him off and struggle to her feet before kicking him as hard as she could in his repugnant face.
Hearing rapidly approaching footsteps, Chloe turned in time to see Arthur arriving, his eyes wide on her disheveled appearance before he snarled and looked down at the bandit, who was currently spitting out teeth.
"What took you so long?" Chloe asked as easily as she could, bringing her hand to her popped lip and wincing.
Arthur didn't answer, walking passed her to thrust his sword through the bandit's neck before yanking the blade out and sheathing it, turning towards her. Silent, quite unlike him, Arthur reached her side and reached for her face, actions soft and gentle as he turned her face so he could examine the bruises and slight swelling. His touch was so tender, and yet the look in those blue eyes was murderous and dark, ugly, monstrous.
It frightened Chloe a little, even though she knew it wasn't aimed towards her. "I'm okay."
"No thanks to me...again." He snarled, self-disgust obvious in his voice.
It shocked her. "Arthur, I'm not the type who likes to wait to be rescued...you know...a Damsel in Distress." She gave him a little smile and then flinched when her lips hurt. "You're going to have to get used to me getting hurt because I always attract a lot of danger and trouble, and this isn't the first time I've been hurt nor will it be the last."
Concern began to override the fury in his eyes, as his thumb caressed her cheek.
She gulped, shocked at the way her heart was racing rapidly in her throat.
She-she didn't react this way with Arthur!
She-she'd reacted this way with Lancelot-but Arthur?
Then again, this Arthur...he wasn't the Arthur she usually saw.
For the first time she was really getting a glance of the king he could become...of the king she'd crushed on for most of her childhood and teenaged years...and that glimpse took her breath away.
She was starting to really feel sorry for Guinevere now instead of the jealousy she'd felt before. The woman clearly didn't have a chance in hell. Not against Lancelot and Arthur, or their looks, their touches...
Chloe gulped, unable to look away from Arthur's searching gaze.
But, well, now that Merlin and Lancelot both had appeared on scene Guinevere better get her royal tush out of hiding soon, before Chloe forgot about her completely and did something really stupid concerning prince or knight.