12 Knight of Atrocity

Artoria had believed she'd wept enough, mourned enough on that dreary hill surrounded by the corpses of those that had followed her into battle and of those who had battled against her. She'd believed she'd let her guilt and hatred for herself, for all she'd done, all she'd taken away and all she'd lost, out at the world around her.

That was why when she was summoned in another era, by a teen boy being hunted down by his foes, to fight for the Holy Grail, to obtain a wish that would let her change the grim end of her nation and her people, she wished to believe someone had heard her requests, and that she finally had a chance to right all wrongs.

She felt she would be able to fight freely, honourably and win.

But now, all those thoughts seemed so distant and fleeting, swept away once again by the sorrow and anguish she'd felt at death's door, and so, the legendary King of Knights, the incarnation of the welsh dragon, and the perfect king stumbled back, losing strength in her grip her eyes went wide from a plethora of emotions rushing to her mind all at the same time.

She'd died filled with regrets but perhaps the greatest source of that regret was how much she'd wronged the man still loyally kneeling before her, looking at her with a gaze that was almost infectiously joyous, the gaze that observed not the ideal and perfect ruler King Arthur Pendragon but the voracious, guilt-ridden and unfit Artoria who played the role of the king.

How was she not unfit? She'd failed to give the people the utopia she'd promised, chosen the few over the many, made pawns of people who trusted her with their beings, and fallen to a rebellion born of discontent.

The King summoned as a servant, in an unknown age couldn't help the tears forming in her eyes, she couldn't help stumbling forth disorientedly and attempting to apologise, she couldn't help failing at even that when in her state, she only ended up putting her arms on his shoulders and resting her on top of the knight who'd discarded all for not his but HER sake.

"P..Please, do n-not bow."

In the end that was all Artoria could muster, she was undeserving of such pure loyalty, not when she had used that in a bout of pragmatic strategy she had foolishly thought a necessity.

"My King, I would have been much more pleased to see you ha-"

Aston tried to do something about her emotional state but stopped when her grip on his shoulders tightened and the tears from her eyes flowed down his forehead.

"Do not." She stopped him, she didn't deserve to be called his King after what she'd done. Even his hair, it had been a bright shade of red. All that remained of it was some dull tufts in pure grey, she'd continually forced him to go against what he was, so much so that he'd lost even colour.

"I will." The Lancer didn't know what to make of the situation, it was the first time he'd seen his King so vulnerable, so human. It gave him joy that she could experience emotion but it also saddened him that this was how he learnt of it.

Artoria trembled, her eyes growing dim with each passing moment, "I..I was the one who ordered you to raise your blade against the innocent!" She raised her voice in frustration at his acceptance, "I ordered you against the Romans!" She'd told him to crush them completely, he'd taken that far too literally and killed far more than any other knight could, far more than any knight should.

"I ordered torture, massacre, burning! And for what?" Her voice once again lost strength as she fell to her knees, appearing small and frail even in armour next to the perhaps absurdly tall smiling knight, he'd followed her to liberate the people from their suffering, because she promised peace and prosperity, "I.. failed." She'd failed his expectations, failed even her own words.

"Even your hair, your gaze, your very nature.." That was all her fault! She remembered how bright he was initially, when he'd answered her call against the tyrant Vortigern, when he'd followed her into battle against the savages.. Now all that remained was this, someone who could only smile and watch on as the world moved around him.

"My King.." Aston didn't care for her ordering him to not do so, "I answered your call because I could not accept Vortigern and his ways, that much is true." He spoke calmly and fluidly, long prepared for when a time would come that he would have to lay all bare.

"And I failed at that!"

"But I followed you be-"

"I..know.." Artoria weakly banged her fists against his dark chestplate, precisely because she knew could she, "That was why I could time and time again wrong you, order you against your own code." She admitted truthfully, tears flowing freely down her eyes.

As a cold and pragmatic King deprived of emotions and desire, that was what she had done. Ask the one man she knew would do whatever she asked, use his feelings for her to further her ideals no matter how much she loathed doing so.

"I see." Aston simply continued to smile, it would be hard not to notice such a thing when of all knights he was the one committing the greatest atrocities.

But that didn't matter to him, because as someone who could be pragmatic when necessary, he understood the necessity of what she'd ordered him to do.

The Romans would have subjugated them, the Saxons would have raped and pillaged as they pleased, the Rebels would have erected an era built on the blood of all those who opposed them, the people would have lost faith if not for the King's unyielding desire to not cede even a single step to his foes.

"Then why?!"

Mustering strength, the king of legend shouted at the one man she always knew she could rely on and in doing so, branded with a horrendous title, 'Knight of Atrocity', feared by the masses for ruthlessness and a complete lack of compassion.

It was all her fault.

How could he be one to lack compassion when the sole reason he'd sworn himself to her had been his inability to watch others suffer as he thrived?

The moonlight falling upon the two servants created a strange sort of scene, leaving the two unaware and confused humans to only watch in wonder at the strange sight before them.

The figure of a young girl held up only by her head against her knight's armour.

Aston inhaled deeply, staring at the night sky for a prolonged moment before once more looking at the king, his little king, "Because where others saw a peerless ruler, I saw a frail young girl that continued to swing a sword, working hard for others in an era where none would. A gentle, kind and caring individual that discarded even herself for the sake of her people." He smiled widely, a sense of relief and joy washing over him as he finally spoke the words he'd for so long held to himself.

"A young girl that hated herself for every wrong thing she had no choice in doing. An emotionless king whose facade broke down each time she was met with good food. Someone who took in someone who'd lost everything and returned to him his heart." He paused again for a moment, "Met with that, how could I as a man not offer to you the only thing I had left then?"

"The land prospered, the invaders were driven off, we advanced forward, repelled any who sought to harm the people." Aston wrapped his arms around her small crying figure, "And that's all, the only thing I regretted in life was not saying this. You will always be my King, no matter what. And I will always be your knight."

"I..am undeserving." Artoria could only cry in silence as she recalled all they'd done.

"So allow me to stand by your side, or stand by mine, my King."

"Stop.. please."

"I refuse."

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You can find +7 chapters ahead at patre0n.com/Bleap, is what it's supposed to be but it's actually about 5 at the time. I don't want to give up quality for quantity so it's a bit slow.

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