The Kingdom of Callywith
Cornwall, 510 AD
Thunder rumbled through the rugged landscape, as lightning shot across the sky. Princess Mary Pendragon was led down the stone steps out into the castle courtyard. She was cousin to the young King Arthur, and was destined for his court at Tintagel Castle. A sudden shiver ran through her. Her eyes flickered to the darkening sky. Sighing, she pulled her crimson cloak closer around her shoulders.
Her mother bent down to lay a gentle kiss on her brow, and then cupped Mary's face in her hands.
"Dearest Molly," she said, with fervor ripe in her voice. Molly was her mother's pet name for her.
Mary jumped when another fire bolt bombarded the castle near to where they stood. Debris of stone mortar fell around them, and her mother pulled her close to shield her from the wreckage. They were under attack. Worse yet, her father's forces were quickly falling beneath the brutal onslaught of the enemy. Time was scarce. Soon, the stories of their stunning defeat would ring through the kingdom. But there was still hope.
There was Arthur.
"You must ride on Wind Spirit as if the hounds of Hades are plaguing you. Do not halt for anything," Queen Mildred advised. Her lyrical voice became soft. Tears stung Mary's eyes. She locked gazes with her mother. Her mother's eyes quickly filled with tears.
Mary did not want to leave. She couldn't abandon her mother to the darkness. It would take hours to reach Arthur. Days, if he had already not set out for Callywith. She could not abandon her mother.
She would not.
"Come with me, Mama," Mary murmured, feeling despair rush through her.
How could it have come to this point? An acrid smell wafted over to her. Death. Too many warriors had already met their maker. Her mother could not be one of the many!