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"I would normally talk to the elders on your behalf and convince them to give up testing and pushing all of you in such a manner in favor of something less invasive... less tearing. But this time... this time is different."

"This time they are not sure that they can trust you."

"This time I am held in suspicion by them and they are not sure they can trust me to act in the best interest of the tribes," she agreed with some bitterness in her voice. "But if I must go prove my worth to them after being gone for so long, then I am honoured to be at your side as warrior while all of this is happening."

She was silent for a long moment.

"My father will be one of the ones presiding over our actions and what the Tribes set forth for us to achieve," Guinevere said quietly. "He will make sure there are no ambushes and that the contests are held as fairly as possible. With the invaders still in the West, that will probably have a lot of bearing on what happens." She didn't know if that was meant as a comforting phrase to him or if part of her was seeking some small comfort. She shook her head. "For someone who has been told you have a great destiny...you do not seem to be so surprised at all of these things that keep being forced upon you... These things that seem designed to lead you away from whatever great accomplishments you are supposedly to be pursuing in your life."

"I do not believe in destiny or that it has the power to rule a man," He said as he looked out over the land. "I will do as I wish and as I think best because I think it best. I will not be pressed into doing something merely because others have foreseen it or because they claim that it is my destiny. My decisions and my choices are mine."

Guinevere managed not to flinch. She hadn't expected him to be overjoyed at the prospect of marriage, and she hadn't like being told where her destiny lay, but being female she was a little wounded. Finding her voice, she turned back to look out over the land because looking at him would hurt right now, which confused her.

"You would choose differently than what they say has been seen? I have often thought of doing that...I actually tried running away from what they said was my destiny once."

"What proof do I have that your wise men or your mystics have indeed seen everything they are claiming? How can I be so certain that they are not trying to manipulate me or my men to do as they wish in the same fashion that Rome has manipulated all of us for so long?" He shook his head. "Just because they say they see it does not make it true, Guinevere." He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "You said that you tried to runaway from what your destiny was predicted. What happened?"

Guinevere was silent for a long time, but her fists clenched on the stones of the walls. "I ran away," she finally said. "I was not overjoyed at the idea of my future being decided for me, so I decided to leave for awhile. I planned to live away from the tribe and try to find my own path. I was hoping that I could make some sense out of what my father was telling me."

"Did you find your answers?"

Guinevere swallowed thickly, trying not to let the memories overwhelm her. "Marcus and his men found me." She smiled humorlessly. "That was not exactly the answer I was expecting to find to the question of my destiny."

He decided not to say anything about her captivity for the moment, but they would be talking about that quite soon. "Was it the fact that they said your destiny stated you were to marry a man you had never seen before that caused you to run?"

"Oh, I had seen you, plenty of times," she said quietly. "I was a young girl the first time I saw any of your men and you were there, leading them even then." She nodded. "While I did not like being told whom I would join with and being told that the fates decreed it to be so, the main reason that I rebelled against it was because of how final and cold they made it sound." She stared out across the battlements as she spoke. “When one thinks about their future, it is not often that they think of it as being cold and lonely. Being forced into something against the will of yourself and another only breeds contempt and resentment among the joined pair.” She shok her head. "I did not desire to live like that -- no matter what the greater good would be of such a situation."

"When we wed, Guinevere, it will be because it is my choice -- and yours -- not because some mystic says that it is my destiny." He shook his head. "I refuse to let decisions like that be made for anybody. We both have the freedom of a choice to make in this."

Guinevere turned back to look at him at that. She wasn't sure what to say... but being Guinevere meant that she often said the first thing that entered her mind. He said when, not if. That thought alone made her heart jump just a fraction.

"That is a good thing to know. I would prefer to be wed because it is a free choice made by you, the man, Arthur... not because you might feel it is a duty imposed upon you as the King of Briton. I may be a warrior, but I am also a woman and no woman likes feeling like someone was forced to wed her because someone else said it was his duty or responsibility." She was quiet for a moment, just watching him.

"I think you have had enough decisions made for you in recent times," he said calmly.

She wasn't sure what response she had expected, but that most certainly was not one she had thought to hear him say. Trying to find a more stable ground that did not make her feel like she was somehow caught in a windstorm, she looked away. "I do not believe I ever thanked you rescuing me from that place and taking care of me to make sure I healed."

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Touched By Seshat

May 2007

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