Lancelot hadn’t appeared to be sharing the same pleasant memories from their last outing together….obvious by the sour expression on the lieutenant’s face as they rode on. Should I be insulted? And since Arthur could not risk a verbal reminder of exactly why he had smiled over at his lieutenant….lover ….the Commander slightly shook his head and let it go. He did regret not learning more of Lancelot’s native tongue though…communicating in Sarmatian during this escort would have been quite helpful. Especially should Lancelot not keep his promise to behave.
Arthur had no objection when Lancelot picked up their pace; only momentarily glancing back over his shoulder to be sure Falco and his companions were able to keep up.
* * * *
Just as the sun was dipping down in the horizon, the small party arrived at the caves Lancelot had suggested. Arthur immediately spotted Tristan and brought his stallion to a halt in front of the scout. Without a backward glance at the three Romans he escorted, Arthur greeted Tristan with a nod, keen to hear whatever the man had to report.
"No activity, but be careful. I've seen a few fresh tracks - I'm going to check the next village to make sure that's where they came from."
“Keep me informed,” Arthur instructed his scout, although both men knew the words to be unnecessary. Tristan had perhaps the best instincts among Arthur’s men (although he’d never share that opinion with Lancelot) and thus the Commander rarely had the need to dispense orders at Tristan. However, with Falco’s scrutinizing eye close at hand, Arthur thought it best to do things the proper military way.
Once Tristan had departed, Arthur dismounted and momentarily stretched his back. Lancelot had already disappeared….which brought a frown to Arthur’s expression…. apparently relieving himself was more important than securing camp for the night, and the Sarmatian’s quick reappearance confirmed Arthur’s thoughts….he opened his mouth to give the order for Falco and his men to situate themselves within the cave when Lancelot beat Arthur to it…..
"It's not the garrison, or even a village, but this will be our camp for the night. I've stayed here before. The caves are perfectly safe and warm. You men go ahead inside. I need to speak with our Commander, here."
Arthur gestured towards the entrance to the caves in confirmation of his lieutenant’s suggestion. Falco’s expression gave away nothing if he thought Lancelot’s ‘orders’ were out of line.
"Commander, shall I expect you and your lieutenant to see about food?"
“Of course,” Arthur replied with a rather dry tone while offering a strained courteous smile at the Roman official.
The moment Falco and his men entered the cave; Arthur puffed out his cheeks and expelled a sigh of relief. Yet his bladder was quick to remind the Commander that perhaps he too should see to his own needs before finding the evening meal. But then he noted Lancelot’s small stumble and obvious discomfort as the other man touched his side. Guilt at agreeing to Falco’s arrangement threatened to rise up again and Arthur had to roughly swallow the worry back down.
"So they've reduced us to guards and cooks. Arthur……What did he mean - 'no more discussion' about the results of the reports?"
“It will be no trouble to share our meal with Falco and his companions,” Arthur started while closing the small distance between the two men and purposely ignoring the latter half of Lancelot’s statement.
“Dazzle them with your skills as a hunter by trapping a hare while I start a fire, hm?” Arthur was playing on Lancelot’s pride in order to convince the other man to do a task he knew his lieutenant truly did not want to do.
“And I believe I already explained about Falco…” Arthur half whispered, finally willing to answer (somewhat) Lancelot’s question while beginning to walk away towards a clump of trees.
Once he’d emptied his bladder, Arthur saw to it that the horses were properly tethered and then stepped into the entrance of the cave to look in on his charges. Tucked under one arm, the Commander carried enough tinder to start a small fire.
“Comfortable gentlemen?” He started in a tone overly pleasant while kneeling to form up a small fire pit. “My lieutenant will return presently with our meal,” Arthur informed while retrieving his flint from the saddlebag he’d brought with him into the cave. Within moments, Arthur had a steady flame dancing up from the small pile of wood and dried leaves.
Current Location: at the caves for the night
Current Mood: tired
Current Music: crickets, night sounds