There’s a lot of catching up to do. Gawain learns about the tension between Britannia’s warring nations while his brothers learn about the hardships he had to endure while enslaved to the Hibernians. The youngsters come to terms with the fact that they’re living in a violent world of death and destruction. But despite the odds against them, everyone knows deep down…one day they will come to rule the world.
Photo by Jorge Barreda
Chapter 8 – Cascades
By Rock Kitaro
Their mission was a success. Gawain was rescued and the capture of Princess Isolde was an added bonus. Tristan asserted himself as the party leader as they galloped a full day to cross south over the River Clyde. They didn’t consider themselves safe from King Drest’s reach until they were south of the river.
Daylight dwindled. They needed to find shelter soon. Tracing southbound along the river, Tristan led them to a magnificent waterfall that was once inhabited by dwarves a century earlier. A hollow cave at the base of the waterfall served as the gateway to deep boroughs hidden beneath the earth. There were still carvings of their ancient language etched in the cave wall. The symbols glowed bright orange, infused with ether and amber.
The valley at the bottom of this breathtaking waterfall was enclosed by flat slabs of marble and cream-colored limestone. Beyond the rock formations, a perimeter of flourishing green trees shrouded this oasis with a leafy canopy that stretched out over the river. Birds whistled. The cascade’s endless crash was pleasant to hear. The water was crisp and refreshing, so clear that they could see the smooth pebbles settled on the riverbed. It was perfect. They were isolated. They were safe.
Morgan and Isolde cleansed themselves under Kanish and Balto’s supervision while the rest of the men ventured out to hunt. It was an awkward situation for the ladies as Isolde distinctly remembered Morgan calling for her death. Isolde understood the animosity and was willing to forgive. Morgan, however, wasn’t too timid to hide her enmity. The malcontent was manifested by her hooded gaze and sporadic groans. It was annoying at first, but after Isolde realized that Morgan was several years her junior, the princess started to tolerate her presence.
Morgan kept her pink cotton dress on as she bathed. Isolde stripped until she was completely nude. Kanish and Balto tried their best not to peep but Isolde’s body was the very definition of exquisite. There wasn’t a single blemish, scar, or bruise on her sun-kissed body. Her breasts were full formed and smooth enough to cup steady in even the roughest of hands. Small dimples were perfectly indented above the derriere, and her toned midriff was smoother than a baby’s cheeks. As Isolde released her braids, her gorgeous hair flowed and bounced with a radiant glow. Balto glanced and was nearly floored by her beauty.
For Morgan, it only piqued her ire. Isolde reminded her of Elaine, blessed in all the ways she was not. Isolde and Elaine were both relatively tall with slim slender figures. Both had blonde hair and mesmerizing eye-smiles. Even when they were angry they projected heavenly grace. Whereas Morgan’s resting bitchface always prompted people to ask if something was wrong with her, a pastime she abhorred more than loneliness itself.
Haughty laughter in the distance signaled Pellinore’s return. Once the ladies were finished bathing, Pellinore, Tristan, Jeremy, Dantry, and Barxy swam nude. Pellinore kept trying to provoke Tristan with splashes but Tristan was too tired to strike back. Princess Isolde had confined herself to the cave hidden behind the veil of the cascade. She watched Tristan with an attentive gaze, giggling at the possibilities.
Morgan was now lounging on a smooth slab of limestone as she wrung out the fabric of her pink sunflower. She felt Gawain watching. Indeed, he was. As he prepared a deer for roasting, Gawain’s jade green eyes kept bouncing over to Morgan as if she was calling his name.
His heart thumped hard at the sight of her. For the young man, it was a dream come true. Few of her features were exactly as he remembered. Her deep alluring eyes, those mystifying long lashes. Her small mouth with kissable lips that remained so pouty and puckered. Unbeknownst to Morgan, she had developed in all the ways he found desirable. Her voluptuous figure of curves and concealed strength. The way excess water glistened off her ample thighs. The way her flawless snow-white complexion contrasted with her long, dark, brown hair.
Gawain took a mental picture of Morgan lounging on the rock with the roaring cascades casting a misty cloud under the setting sun. It was better than his dreams. This bliss…Gawain didn’t want it to end.
“It won’t take me long to make a new one. I’m not worried.”
Gawain caught the tail end of Gaheris speaking to Agravain. The younger brothers were waist-deep in water as they massaged wet stones over their shoulders.
“Not worried about what?” Gawain asked.
Agravain chuckled, “Gaheris broke the bow that he made for King Mark.”
Gawain burst with laughter. It was amazing to see how much they’ve grown. He had just finished skinning the deer when he heard the news of their baby brother, Gareth. Agravain elaborated by explaining how their mother Morgaus had married King Lot. Gawain was astounded to learn that they were now all princes of a foreign land called Lothian and Orkney.
“Of Lothian? Hack!” Pellinore interjected. “You might as well be heirs to the damn Picts the way Lot kisses up to the Romans.”
“What do you mean?” Gawain asked.
Gaheris explained, “Well, King Lot rules over Lothian and the northern islands of Orkney. We have over 10,000 men at arms but compared to Vortigern’s forces we’re merely toddlers playing at soldiers. To match manpower, Roman soldiers are loaned to us by Emperor Lucius. King Lot has to pay an annual tribute.”
Agravain added, “Gaheris and I were delivering a tribute last month when the emperor felt good enough to have us send messages along the battle lines in the war against the Franks. I swear it’s only a matter of time before he puts us in the vanguard.”
“Why you? Why send a squire on a knight’s errand?” Gawain questioned with low brows.
“They are princes, are they not? Comes with the price of eminence, boy. Best get used to it.” Pellinore scoffed as he stood up from the water and flaunted his manhood for all of nature to see.
For Gawain, it was a disquieting notion. He had just been liberated from one house and it appeared that he was about to be thrown into the conflict of another. He wondered how Morgan felt. He turned and caught her staring. As soon as they locked eyes, Morgan quickly averted. And much to Gawain’s chagrin, Morgan’s fleeing eyes settled on the naked ass of Pellinore. He was wading his way toward the cascades and the cave where Isolde was getting dressed.
“It’s not so bad. King Lot treats us alright,” Gaheris noted.
“And he’s kind to mother,” Agravain added.
“That’s great. Hey, Pellinore! Ho-How’s your son doing!?” Gawain quickly shouted in haste.
At once, all of the Black Bloods turned to Pellinore with a puzzled expression. Apparently they never knew he had a son. Taken aback by the question, Pellinore sank until the water reached the bottom of his chin and made his way closer to the brothers.
“Who told you I had a son?” Pellinore asked.
“You did. About seven years ago when we first met,” Gawain smirked.
“You have a son? You scoundrel! I thought you only had the two daughters?” Barxy asked.
“Aye, Percival’s my firstborn, a bastard from some peasant girl not far from Listenoise. Cries as much as his sisters. It drives me insane.”