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.
As Chloe rode in front of Arthur on his steed, she was surprised to realize that after all these days of riding she'd gotten used to this, had become very comfortable leaning into his chest and trusting the arm loosely around her to keep her from falling. She was conflicted, stroking the mane of the steed as she lost herself in thought. Her destiny was to be here, in this wrong time and country, to help Arthur become the king he was in her books, and to also basically heal the bad blood between Albion and magic. Once that was restored she knew now that it would be Merlin who would have the power to send her back to her time. She also had a feeling that this Emrys character she was supposed to work along with was Merlin. She vaguely remembered that Merlin went by many names, and she had a gut feeling that Emrys was one of them.
It was ironic to think that she was in the middle of one of her favorite legends of all time, almost as if she should have been here always due to the fact that she was 'destined' to do this...but if so why hadn't there ever been someone named Chloe in the Arthurian legends? She figured someone who'd 'healed' Albion should have at least merited a passing mention in one of the many legends. If she really was supposed to do this, why wasn't there any record of her from this time?
Her gaze went to Merlin, who was walking close to them, easily keeping up with the horses slow pace.
He wasn't like the legends said he was either, and she really couldn't imagine him being the offspring of some mortal woman and an incubus demon. This Merlin was much more human, much younger, and she had to admit it, much snarkier than he'd been depicted in the stories.
She kinda liked him better this way.
She wondered about Vivian, his lover who would later ensnare him, which was why he wasn't there to save Arthur at that fated battle with Mordred.
But...but in this land Mordred was a young druid boy who wanted peace, son of Cerdan, a good man.
So many things were different than they'd been written in their stories.
Morgana wasn't Arthur's sister but his father's ward, Guinevere was no where to be found, and Lancelot hadn't grown up in the realm of the Lady of the Lake...a prince in his own right. And where was Anna Morgause? Arthur's other supposed half-sister? It was with her (whom many over the years had mixed with Morgana and made into one woman) whom Arthur was supposed to have had Mordred by. So if she played such a vital role where exactly was she? And why didn't anyone know who she was when Chloe had vaguely asked if there was an Anna Morgause in the castle? Not even Morgana seemed to know who she'd been talking about.
It was all so confusing.
If things weren't like in the tales...how would she know what had really happened and what hadn't? How would she be able to right wrongs or make sure certain things didn't happen if she wasn't sure which were accurate and which were elaborate storytelling?
"This is ridiculous." Lois hissed to Lana, pacing the bedroom nervously. "We need to hunt down that bitch and make her bring Chloe's rightful memories back so she can be warned! Out of the three of us she's the one who knows these legends like the back of her hand, if she knew she was Princess Guinevere things could be different! How are we going to be able to help her make sure she doesn't make the same mistakes if we can't even tell her anything?"
Lana sat on the bed, sighing. "There has to be some way to jump-start her memories without outright telling her. If she remembers on her own then the spell should be broken."
"How exactly are we going to jump start her memory if being here hasn't been able to do it?" Lois wanted to know, eyes narrowed, throwing her hands in the air. "I know enough of the legend to know that Guinevere does not have a good end! None of the versions are good! The best one has her dying in a convent! A convent! In others she dies of heartache after her and Arthur's son dies...in another Lancelot executes her...in another Arthur has her torn apart by wild horses...and in another she is killed by the people of Camelot! None of these are good endings and Chloe doesn't deserve any of them!"
Lana looked up at that, pale. "Are you serious?"
Lois slammed her fist into the wall. "Chloe can't stay here, Lana. Even if-even if this is where we're supposed to be-she can't stay here."
Lana nodded, standing. "At least she has a chance in the prison-world."
"Exactly." Lois agreed, turning to her petite friend. "Now that we're here, we need to get her and get the hell outta here before history (no matter which one of the versions it is) can repeat itself and something terrible happens to her!"
"But how?" Lana whispered, biting her bottom lip, gaze going to the door before she lowered her voice and drew closer to Lois. "We came here by magic, remember? We were supposedly freed from our prison. This was supposed to be the good part."
"Then why do I miss it there?" Lois whispered back, looking a little desperate. "Sure, our world was messed up, but it sure beat things here! I don't know if there was a Gertrude in the Arthurian legends...but I do know there were a couple of Elaines...and the only one I can remember well dies of heartbreak because Lancelot loves Guinevere and not her."
Lana gulped. "Even if I was that Elaine I wouldn't let that happen...especially not when I know what to expect and how to counter it."
"Exactly!" Lois looked about to cry. "You have warning! Chloe doesn't! She's walking into a trap, will make the same mistakes, and we can't do a thing to stop her!"
Lana reached out and hugged Lois. "We'll find a way to keep her from making the same mistakes...at least until we can find a way back home."
Arthur watched as Sir Bedivere approached on horseback as they neared the boundary between Camelot and Escetia. Thankfully Camelot hadn't lost any of its knights during the scuffle with the bandits, but some had been injured...surprisingly very minor injuries though. He wondered if this was what his father had been referring to when he'd told him that Chloe was going to be a token of luck for Camelot and her troops, that having her with them would bring them good fortune. Last night Arthur knew that they'd gotten off lucky. There'd been more bandits than they'd anticipated, they should have lost at least one knight, and yet other than minor injuries they were perfectly well, all the knights quite invigorated by the small battle.
"Sire." Sir Bedivere smiled, handing him a sealed document. "The King sends this for the Lady."
He could feel the blonde tensing in his arms.
"Thank you, Sir Bedivere." Arthur reached for the document and then passed it to her hands. "Milady."
Chloe leaned harder into his chest, subconsciously seeking comfort, and it shocked him.
He answered by tightening his grip around her slightly.
The lady hesitated only a second before breaking the royal seal and rolled open the parchment, silently reading what was written within.
Arthur gazed over her shoulder before closing his eyes in thankfulness when he realized that his father had given into the demands, and had signed his agreement.
"Thank you." Chloe whispered softly, rolling back up the document and placing one of her hands over the one he had around her. "Thank you."
He felt something lodge in his throat, so he cleared it and nodded. "You are welcome."
She relaxed in his hold as he urged the horse over the border, finally stepping back onto Camelot's soil.
Now that they were back home, and she didn't feel a prisoner, Arthur was going to work hard so that she never wanted to leave again. He'd make sure that she considered Camelot her home as well, and would grow to love it and its people just as much as he did.
When he'd left here, searching for her with desperation, he'd promised the Old Gods he wasn't supposed to worship that if they allowed him to find her again, alive and well, that he'd make her his queen no matter what, and make her happy. He'd never made a promise to anyone before, especially not the gods, but he was a Pendragon, and Pendragons kept their word.
Guinevere, Chloe, it didn't matter what she called herself.
He even had problems thinking of her as Guinevere...whatever she'd gone through in that prison had changed her too much from the girl he'd once known for him to associate her with the little child she'd once been...but as he remembered coming upon the scene of her kicking the face of the man who would have been her rapist...he had to admit that this new side of her intrigued and fascinated him. The only other woman in his day and age who would have even thought of becoming the attacker and not the victim was Morgana...but somehow Chloe wasn't like Morgana either.
Arthur really liked her...no matter how pig-headed and cheeky she was.
And maybe...maybe those were some of the things he did like about her.
"They're going to burn him...because he used magic to make his crops grow." Lana whispered, horrified, the fact that witches blood ran through her veins chilling her in terror. "He wasn't doing anything evil at all-more crops would mean better economy and moral for Camelot! How could they kill someone over something like that?"
Lois gazed down at the courtyard, where they were preparing chopping block on which the 'evil sorcerer' was to be beheaded in front of the whole village. "I'm not the biggest fan of magic, but this is tyrannical at best."
"We have to be careful what we say, where we say it, and who might be listening." Lana went to the door, pressing her ear to it before opening the large wooden thing, gazing outside, glad that the guards had truly left after Lois had threatened to attack them with the fire poker if she peered outside and saw them once more. The tiny brunette closed the door and went back towards Lois, voice lowered. "If we slip up it can be our necks headed towards the chopping block next."
"We need to get out of here. It's Barbarian Land." Lois frowned. "Somehow, when Chloe used to talk about the Arthurian times, it wasn't like this."
"Probably because that was the Arthurian times." Lana responded, pulling a strand of dark hair behind her ear. "These are the Utherian times."
Lois frowned. "You've made a very good point."
"If only the Grimoire had travelled with us instead of staying there." Lana whispered. "If it was here we'd be able to find a spell to go back, I'm sure of it."
Lois suddenly stilled, and then her eyes went wide and she smiled, turning to Lana and placing her hands on her shoulders. "You're a genius!"
"I am?" Lana blinked.
"Yes!" Lois nodded. "The book! It was owned by Nimueh, remember? They were like keys to each realm! And since it brought us here and stayed there it means that there has to be another book somewhere here, hidden in this castle!"
"And if we find it..." Lana's eyes widened, as a smile took over her face. "If we find wherever the twin book is hidden we can find the spell to take us back!"
Lois smiled and reached out her hand.
Lana grinned, reaching out and putting her hand in Lois'.
They shook on it.
Somewhere in this castle lay Nimueh's Grimoire...and they were going to find it.