The Princess and the Blackbird

By Reid T. G.

Fantasy / Humor

Hows and Whys

A magical beauty whose heart becomes ice, a peasant who catches the eye of the future ruler, a druid child who grows to be the ruler's bane, a ghost of love lost tied to the waters of a mystic lake, a ruler of pure heart and their trusted knights, and the most powerful sorcerer to ever live...

The stories have passed down through the ages, but as is often the case, the stories don't quite match the truth.


Armelle knew exactly how she got into this situation. What she wanted to know was why she had gotten into this situation.

It had started two days earlier when she had been heading to her rooms to change for her midday training. She was already running late so she was understandably annoyed when some peasant boy had the audacity to run into her. She should have locked the boy up then and there. After all, she is the Princess of Camelot, peasants barely had the right to look at her, let alone full body knocking into her and sending them both to the ground.

"Oh, I'm so sorry! Here, let me help you up, friend."

He jumped to his feet then offered her his hand, but she ignored it and stood on her own. She brushed off her dress as she asked, "Do I know you?"

"Er, I'm Merl-"

"So I don't know you."

"No."

"Yet you called me friend."

"That was my mistake."

"Yes, I think so," she said, moving around the boy to continue on to her room.

"Yeah. I'd never have a friend who could be such a bitch."

Armelle froze and turned back to the boy. "Or I one who could be so stupid. Tell me, do you know how to walk on your knees?"

"No."

"Would you like me to help you?" Before he could respond, she grabbed his arm and spun him while knocking his feet out from under him so that he was kneeling with his arm pinned behind his back. "First you knock me to the ground, then you insult me. I'll have you in the dungeons for this."

"Wha- Who do you think you are, the king?"

"No, I'm his daughter, Armelle. Guards!"

She thought that would have been the end of it. The guards had dragged the boy away and she had sent a servant to where her father was meeting with Gaius to explain what had happened so her father could decide what to do with the boy. The next morning she was informed the boy spent the night in the dungeons and would get a few hours in the stocks. She figured it was a fair enough punishment and put the boy out of her mind.

Except that it wasn't the end because she ran into the boy again (not literally though) while she and a few of the knights-in-training were heading through the lower town.

"How's your knee-walking coming along?"

The boy kept walking.

"Aw, don't run away!"

Of course he would. He might have mistaken her for some simple minded lady-in-waiting who would have let his actions slide before, but now he knew who she is.

"From you?" the boy stopped to ask and Armelle realized she was smiling. It's not often someone's willing to stand up to her. Her father does, of course. He's the king. He has every right. Morcant does as well, sometimes, but that's usually a small comment that would be overlooked by everyone but her. The knights all treat her with the respect she deserves as both the princess and one of the best knights in Camelot. The knights-in-training either attempt to treat her like a fragile doll (that gets beaten out of them soon enough) or a prize to be won (that both gets beaten out of them and earns them a reminder of exactly how easy it is to castrate a man with a dagger, along with a "Would you like a demonstration?"). The idiot's blatant disregard for her status was amusing, and she was sure it would be even more so to teach him a lesson.

"Thank God. I thought you were deaf as well as dumb."

"Look, I've told you you're a bitch," he said, turning to her. "I just didn't realise you were a royal one." A few of the knights-in-training started to step forward. They probably wanted to try and protect her honor or some other nonsense she wouldn't stand for, but before they could, the boy added, "Oh, what are you going to do? Get your daddy's men to protect you?"

Armelle laughed. "I could take you apart with one blow." Honestly, the boy was tiny! He was a mouse compared to the men she's faced before.

"I could take you apart with less than that," the boy shot back and Armelle raised an eyebrow.

Had he forgotten already how easily she had taken him down before? Did he honestly think she was just some damsel? And had he actually intended for that innuendo to be there? He couldn't be that stupid, could he? "Are you sure?"

At the knights-in-training's jeers, the boy removed the short cloak he was wearing and tossed it to the side. That gone, Armelle could now see that the hood he'd been wearing then and the day before was connected to a brown vest that he wore over a loose fitting shirt. Honestly, he looked even scrawnier than before.

Armelle laughed. She reached back and one of the men handed her a mace. She tossed it to the boy and he dropped it. She chuckled at his clumsiness and took one of her own. Swinging it, she said, "Come on, then. I warn you, I've been trained to kill since birth." A lie, she'd only started learning to fight when she turned thirteen and decided she was going to be knight.

"Wow, and how long have you been training to be a prat?"

"You can't address me like that," she snorted.

"I'm sorry. How long have you been training to be a prat, My Lady?" he asked, giving a little bow.

She kicked his ass, of course, even if she did have a few minor missteps (She blamed her dress. She'd need to practice fighting in a dress some other time. You never know when a fight might break out.) When the guards went to grab him she called them off. It had been fun putting him in his place.

"Wait, let hi-"

She cut off because when the guards lifted him up, his hood fell down. As did a hair pin that had been knocked loose by the fighting and a long, feathered curtain of black hair.

"You're a girl?" Armelle asked before she could stop herself.

The boy -- No, the girl -- blushed. She tried to give a cocky smirk, but it was weighed down by the embarrassment. "Just realizing that now, are you?"

Armelle was tempted to send the girl off to the dungeons after all.

"Let her go. She may be an idiot, but she's a brave one."

As soon as she was released, the girl dipped down to grab her hair pin before snatching her cloak from the knight-in-training that had picked it up and fleeing towards the castle.

That wasn't the last Armelle saw of the bizarre girl though. The next day she spotted her walking into the feast behind Gaius. She almost didn't recognize the girl. Gone were the trousers and vest. Instead she wore a pale blue peasant dress with a white bodice and overskirt. Her hair had a ribbon that matched her dress braided into it with the braid pinned up on her head with the same simple pin she had dropped the day before. Armelle would never admit it out loud, but the strange girl cleaned up rather nice for a peasant girl that ran around acting like a man.

The princess laughed inside when the girl, like every other woman in the room, ogled Morcant as he entered. While Armelle would admit he was handsome, the man barely ever trained and when he did, it was for no other reason than vanity.

Armelle greeted the Lord when he approached and exchanged a few words before discreetly glancing back at the girl. She barely restrained a snort when she saw that Morcant's manservant Gwyn was attempting to flirt with her, and the daft girl had absolutely no clue if the confused expression was anything to go by.

"What's got your attention, Armelle?" Morcant asked.

The princess froze as she realized she hadn't been quite as discrete as she hoped. "It's nothing," she tried to say, but her father's ward was already turning to see what Armelle had been looking at.

"Who's that girl talking to Gwyn? I've never seen her before."

"That is the peasant girl that insulted me the other day and tried to fight me in the lower town yesterday."

"Huh, I thought you said it was a man that was causing you trouble."

Morcant knew exactly what had happened. Armelle could see it in his eyes.

"I was mistaken," she said, barely keeping the growl out of her voice.

Thankfully the horns sounded then and everyone broke apart to find their seats. As Armelle stood next to her chair and listened to her father's speech, she noticed the girl standing off to the side with the servants. She idly wondered what the girl was doing there in the first place. She wasn't a servant, that was for sure, but the guards wouldn't let some random peasant girl into the feast. Especially after that sorceress had threatened the princess's life only a few short days earlier when her son had been executed ("A child for a child," she had said if Armelle's sources were right).

Armelle didn't have long to think about it though as soon her father was sitting and she was sitting and Lady Helen was singing and why did Armelle feel so tired all of a sudden?

The princess woke up and immediately felt embarrassed that she had dozed off. Then she realized everyone else had as well and there was cobwebs everywhere.

What just happened?

Brushing cobwebs off herself, Armelle stood up to get a better look at the chandelier that had fallen to the ground. Underneath it lay Lady Helen. Except that it wasn't Lady Helen, but an old woman.

The sorceress pulled her head up to glare at Armelle. Before anyone could so much as move the sorceress flung her dagger at the princess.

Armelle was sure she was to die, but then slender hands were on her shoulders and she was dragged to the ground just as the dagger embedded itself into her chair.

She stared at the dagger that would have been her end for a few seconds before turning to her rescuer to find none other than the odd peasant girl.

"Armelle!" her father cried, rushing over to help the princess to her feet before turning to do the same for the peasant girl, to both her surprise and Armelle's. "You saved my girl's life. A debt must be repaid."

"Oh, well..." the girl said, ducking her head nervously.

"Don't be so modest. You shall be rewarded."

"No, honestly, you don't have to, Your Highness," the girl said, looking all the more nervous.

"No, absolutely. This merits something quite special," Uther insisted.

"Well..." the girl said a bit more cheerfully and Armelle wondered if the daft girl was finally realizing her father, the King, was a wealthy man that was offering the girl a hearty reward.

"You shall be awarded a position in the royal household. You shall be Princess Armelle's maid."

What!?

"Father!" the princess hissed as her father left and the court applauded. No! There was no way she was putting up with having this idiot as her maid! She glanced towards the girl and saw that the feeling was mutual. She knew the girl wouldn't turn the position down though. If not for the money, then for the risk of insulting the King.

The moment the court departed Armelle attempted to make her father see reason. She couldn't have the girl as her maid. She was incredibly stupid, not to mention they knew nothing about her. She had just recently been in the dungeons for God's sake!

"She is the daughter of a friend of Gaius’ and has been sent to live and study with him. If Gaius trusts her than we should too. He has already explained that her outbursts were the result of her lack of knowledge on how to manage oneself in the presence of nobility having grown up in an outlying village. If anything, this will help her to learn how to treat royalty. That girl has done you a great favor, Armelle. I will hear no more of this," was all she got in return before she was dismissed.

Why did this happen to her? What in the world had she done to deserve the most dense maid to have ever walked the earth?
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