Title: Veil Marchers
Character/s: Gwaine, Leon
Summary: Leon chooses to not let his childhood fear of legends interfere with his duty to Camelot. Not all childhood fears need to be disregarded.
Word Count: 502
Prompt: #232: The calm before the storm
Author's Notes: I'm posting this from my phone. Wish me luck.
Leon pulled his horse to a stop, looking warily at the marsh as Gwaine ambled ahead.
The ground was wet beneath them, saturated by recent rains, the mud thick as their horses trod carefully through it. It was said that a river once ran through the area but only the sloped banks remained and even the oldest people in the surrounding villages couldn’t remember when water actually flowed through the land. The air surrounding the marsh was humid, giving off an uncomfortable damp smell that hung thick as they approached the empty river bank.
Gwaine, sensing that the distance between them had grown, looked back over his shoulder.
“Are you coming?” he asked.
Leon glanced at him. Gwaine’s ever present grin turned up the corners of his mouth but his happiness seemed reckless, more so than on other occasions when Leon had thought that.
Leon cleared his throat. “Should we go this way?” he asked, trying to make his question sound unassuming and natural. “Why don’t we ride south more? Any tracks will be more visible in the sunlight.”
Gwaine tugged on the reins in his hands, turning his horse so he could look at Leon better. “Why would we ride south? We heard multiple reports from the villagers that the bandits are hiding out in this marsh. Look,” Gwaine leaned over in his saddle and pointed at the ground. The mud was tamped down; it had the look of a path grown from use. “This must be how they come and go. We should follow their path.”
Leon didn’t examine the ground too closely. He knew bandits tended to move with haste, their tracks disorganized and haphazard but still obvious to a seasoned tracker. He didn’t want to see anything other than the haphazard marks bandits left in their wake.
“Leon.” Gwaine’s head tilted thoughtfully. “Are you coming?”
Leon looked to the marsh, its vegetation growing thick mere feet from where Gwaine stood.
He nodded – after a long moment of consideration.
He had a job to do. They had been sent out at Arthur’s command to investigate the increasing complaints of bandit attacks from villagers in the area. It was their responsibility to protect the people of Camelot from those who didn’t abide by the king’s laws.
He was a knight of Camelot.
He was not a young boy who believed – was scared of – the stories the elders told of waterless rivers and tracks without owners.
He was a knight.
Leon set his jaw and pressed his heels into his horse’s sides, encouraging her forward to follow Gwaine across the sloping riverbed. She resisted, turning her head, but eventually conceded to Leon’s directions.
Gwaine’s chatter picked up one the other side of the river, filling the humid air with his familiar voice.
He was loud, as Gwaine always was, giving away their position and talking over the low, distant rumble of clanking armor.
The feet of men and horses.
A marching chant in a foreign tongue.
This is not your kingdom.