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Chapter 56

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AN - A shorter chapter here, but answers some questions for you!! Enjoy, Az x

Chapter 56

Artair turned in shock. His eyes wide as he tried to take in what had happened. Never had he expected this, especially after Alfred's face came into view. Looking down, the sight and shock made his brows lift and his mouth to hang open a little. "Alfred, What in God's name does this mean?"

Alfred grunted as he pulled his blade free and the Englishman he had pierced fell with a solid thud to the frozen ground. "This means I just saved your ungrateful life." Crouching, he wiped of his bloodied blade and hands on the dead man's. Grabbing the fallen but still burning torch the male Artair had killed had dropped, he stood on turned on his way back to the cave. Artair hurrying to catch up with him after he had cleaned his own blade off. "Alfred." His harsh whisper whipped around Alfred, but he only carried on walking steadily back to the cave. "What do this mean?"

"This means that I want to get warm once more before I tell you anything. And as I have just save your life, I think you can give me that much." A grunt was his reply as Artair struggled to keep up with the larger strides of Alfred. Hurrying to use the light so as not to trip over any roots, he soon found himself in the cave once more, Alfred throwing the burning torch into fire pit that had created earlier. Letting the wood banked there come to life once more. Sitting opposite Alfred, he watched the male through the haze of smoke that rose quickly from the flames which sprouted forth.

"Care to speak now, or am I going to have to make you speak?" The certainty in his voice had Alfred raising a brow. "You talk as if you have knowledge of making people speak. Did I make the wrong choice here? Should you be the one out there right now with my dagger sticking from your back?"

Artair had to bite back the growl he could feel grumbling within him. He knew he was never going to be friends with Alfred, but something told him...possibly the dagger he had plunged into someone else's back rather than his own...that there was more to Alfred than met the eye. "Aye, I may know a trick or two, but nothing I am willing to share, just know it gives me even more ability to look after Rohesia." Alfred stared straight at him for a heartbeat or two, before he finally nodded slowly. Both males settled down, ready for the first to talk, the first to break the silence which descended about them. The only sounds the crackling of the wood as it battled for survival against the battering flames.

Alfred was the first to rub a hand over his face, a long sigh leaving him as his shoulders slumped. His eyes skittering to the lumped form of Percival before coming back to him once more. Artair waited for him, wondering if he was going to talk at all. Until some minutes later he finally began to speak. "After Father Thomas had wed you, and forced me outside." Through gritted teeth he voiced his displeasure over the events that had taken place then. "I noticed a figure that seemed to click some recognition within me, I just could not place it."

Artair furrowed his brow, it had been a few hours since Alfred had spoken and now he spoke of figures that looked familiar? "You could not place the figure? But you were with Father Thomas the whole time."

"I know, it was after, when you and Rohesia were sleeping for the journey and Father Thomas was collecting supplies. I slipped out, seeing if I could spot anything again." Taking a deep breath Alfred picked up a stick beside him and poked it into the fire, watching the sparks fly as he teased more life into it. "Percival was there, near the entrance. With much the same explanation he gave you earlier, he showed how much he truly cared by being here for Rohesia, but needed help with a plan to get the English off of her trail. By getting me to act as a double agent, he would play the hero, whilst everyone would expect the worst from me, but the English would expect me to be on their side. Not finding any difficulty in it after I met them and showed my anger at your marriage. I knew their plan then. Showing that you really do think little of me."

Artair went to speak but Alfred stopped him with a wave of his hand. "Do not worry, the feeling is mutual." Both men had to smile ruefully at each other in that moment. Neither may think much of each other, but at least that meant that they knew what they actually thought of each other. "Aye, I supposed your right, at least we have the right of each other here and now." Alfred nodded his agreement with him.

"They spoke of their plan and put me into it, when we had finalised everyone's part, they left me to find my own way back. But it was Percival that found me once more. Pulling me aside and working out the other details as to what was to happen to make you doubt me. But I knew you well enough to know you would not kill me for no real reason, so I refused to give you one, which was why I did not speak. I could not tell you the truth, but nor could I tell you the lie. Either way this needed to play out, to make sure that Rohesia was safe." They both went silent once more, the darkness seeping in once more as the fire slowly died before them.

Both males were trapped in their own thoughts, until they were shocked out of them by Percival coming awake, blade in hand and at the ready. Breathing heavy until he looked around and spotted the two of them, lowering his blade ruefully, whilst scrubbing his hand down his face as if to shake away the sleep. Rolling to his feet, Percival looked between the two, looking at Alfred first, his eyes wanted to bore into his skull. "Is it done?"

"Aye, all is finished." With a nod, Percival turned to Artair. "I'll take the next watch, I will not sleep from now on, so you might as well take this time to sleep, and we need to push on tomorrow, find some sort of civilisation before this blasted snow freezes us all." As he walked away Artair turned to watch. "Father Thomas says the snow will be melting in the next couple of days. Therefore it will be not be so arduous soon."

Percival just turned to look at him as if conversing with him at this point was not worth it, turning back to the entrance, he sat with a thump and stared outwards upon the darkness that was just slowly lightening at the horizon. Artair looked back to Alfred, only to see that he had moved off to lay down on the pallet he had created from his own blankets.

Artair stood, then moving off to where Rohesia still slept peacefully, nothing having disturbed her, even with all the commotion he had been through. It had not touched her and for that he was extremely grateful. Laying down behind her, he brought her back to his chest and brought the plaid over them both, closing his eyes and falling into the world of slumber once more.

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