Gwynyvar got lost in her own thoughts and took a moment to realize Gerraint spoke to her and then figure out what he said. She handed him her scarf, and he examined it. He saw nothing to identify it as Gwynyvar’s, but Gerraint pretended there was. He gave it to the eldest. “Tell Lancelot this is Gwynyvar’s scarf, and please hurry.”
“All of us?” One of the boys asked.
Gerraint nodded. “There may be enemies on the road. Your father will have to stay here with me. A couple of old men will be the only ones left to protect the ladies until you get back. So, hurry.”
“Right,” the eldest said and stuffed the scarf beneath his belt. They gathered their horses and rode out with all speed. Dyfyr watched them go before he spoke.
“I was going to be angry that you denied my sons a chance to fight, but my heart only says thank you.”
Morwen saw what happened and came up to ask if he could help. “No,” Gerraint said. “You and your few soldiers will have to lead the men from the town. Get them all white cloaks if there are enough. A couple of old men will be all that is left to guard the ladies.” He repeated himself, and like an old man with a heavy heart, turned and stepped back into the house.
“You could have sent a fairy, you know. Lancelot would believe that,” Enid whispered.
“I already did,” Gerraint returned her whisper, and Enid kissed his cheek.
Back inside, he saw four of Dyfyr’s daughters or daughters-in-law with their hands on Gwenhwyfach and her elderly handmaid. “They tried to escape out the back,” one of the daughters spoke.
“Coppertone and I were distracted with the cooking,” Belle excused herself.
Gerraint extracted his arm from his wife’s grasp. He stepped up and punched the elderly handmaid with the fist and adrenaline of a heavyweight boxer. He felt frustrated, and wanted to be out there fighting beside Arthur, where he belonged. The old woman went down, unconscious. She was lucky that punch did not break her neck.
Gerraint turned to Gwenhwyfach. “I remember this. Your son will go down in history as the evil murderer who killed Arthur, the greatest King ever to grace this land.”
Gwenhwyfach drew up her haughty self. “The battle is not over. When my son rides in victorious, I will decide what history remembers. I will not be forgotten.”
“Sorry,” Gerraint said. “History will get some things muddled. Most will never know that Gwynyvar had a sister. Morgana, the witch will get the credit and the blame. Usually, she will be Loth’s wife, and mostly Mordred’s mother.”
“Medrawt,” Enid corrected. “But that would be wrong. That would be incest.”
Gerraint shrugged and took Enid to sit at the table. “A teaching tool for the church, all about the evils of incest and witchery.”
“You don’t like the church rewriting history, do you?”
“I despise it, and anyone who rewrites history,” Gerraint said, and he finally looked over at Gwynyvar. She started crying softly, and her two ladies comforted her and said things like, the battle isn’t over yet. He looked at Gwenhwyfach. She said “Mmmph,” and looked like she could not get her feet off the ground. Coppertone had restored the muzzle to the mouth and glued Gwenhwyfach’s feet to the floor. Gerraint smiled. Gwenhwyfach would go nowhere, and she would not even be able to complain about it.
Belle came to cry with Gwynyvar for a while, and she cried so sweetly, Gwynyvar hugged her and did not let go, like Belle became both her child and her rock. Enid also went over to comfort her friend, and Dyfyr and Gerraint simply sat and worried. They had food. The women kept the table loaded with plenty of food and drink. The children played mostly outside, since it was not raining, but sometimes they came in to pick from the table. Enid tried to get Gwynyvar to eat, but she said she was not hungry. She stopped crying after a while and kept fingering the small cross she wore around her neck and stayed silent.
The people in the house could not hear what happened in the distance. Gerraint strained and heard the general movement. He guessed. Medrawt attacked with his footmen, at least some of them, but he moved too soon, and they were not really ready. They were driven back, likely when Uwaine charged from the fort, and the two sides took time to breathe. Medrawt then attacked with his horsemen and followed them with his Welshmen or Scots or Saxons, but not his whole army. They were driven off, maybe by the attack from the town, but Gerraint imagined Arthur’s horsemen, so many from Cornwall, were likely victorious, but devastated. They probably abandoned the horses at that point to join the fight on foot behind the meager fortifications. Again, the armies took time to breathe. Finally, now in the early afternoon, Gerraint knew it would be the last attack. No one would be spared. Now was the time, if Lancelot was ever going to show up.
“I can’t do it.” Gerraint stood and rushed outside to his horse. Enid caught him.
“Not without me.”
Dyfyr followed and set about quietly saddling Uwaine’s horse.
Gwynyvar followed with her handmaids and Belle and Coppertone in her wake.
“No,” Gerraint said, and everyone paused not knowing who he was talking to. “Coppertone,” he clarified. “You must stay here to set Gwenhwyfach free in case we don’t return.”
“Can I get little?” she asked.
“Don’t scare the children,” he said, then he paused. He knew she had already shown the children. She showed Dyfyr’s wife and daughters. In fact, Gwenhwyfach and her maid and Dyfyr himself were the only ones she had not shown. “Well, don’t scare Gwenhwyfach and her maid too badly.”
Coppertone’s face darkened. She knew that he knew.
“Another fairy?” Dyfyr asked.
“Pixie,” Gerraint said. He knew Pixies were not viewed favorably in some circles. They were seen as akin to goblins since they lived in caves and deep underground tunnels, but Dyfyr merely shrugged. He had not seen anything himself up to that point, other than a glimpse of Dumfries hidden beneath his cloak, but obviously, he heard all about it.