Chapter 3 : The Theft
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Run. It was the only thing Albus wanted to do, but there was no way he was going to run into the forest like some coward while a girl stood ready to fight. Guinevere stood at attention, her feet spaced in a battle stance, her dagger resting on her fingers ready to be thrown or sunk into the first body that reached her. Albus' face hardened and his wand moved to his hand without effort. His eyes never left the oncoming figures.
Three men, taller than he'd ever seen, all with wide shoulders and twisted faces full of malice. They were filthy, clothes tattered, hair frayed and burned, shoes near falling apart and sticking to the damp ground as they ran. But their ragged appearance did nothing to slow their approach. They each let out a growl as they ran straight for the two children.
A bolt of light shot from Albus' wand and slammed into the middle attacker, throwing him to the ground. The man screamed and rolled around in the dirt as his skin began to redden and boils erupted over his neck, arms and chest. He clawed at the markings and called out to the other two, but they paid him no mind. Their fallen leader was of no concern.
The two men had their eyes on Guinevere. They grabbed for her but she was too quick. Albus watched in stark silence as the girl whipped her blade around and caught one on the cheek, leaving a gash down his face. His hand jumped to the wound but he kept up his pursuit. The second man narrowly avoided being sliced across the chest, his already tattered shirt the sole victim of her maneuver.
Albus wanted to help, but he feared any spell he cast would hit Guinevere instead. The three were moving so fast. The girl's hair whipped around and caught the injured in the right eye, sending him stumbling backwards. Albus donned this one Lefty and delivered a kick straight to the back of his knees, forcing him to the ground in a heap.
Spot, the name Albus would now refer to the boil-covered attacker by, rose from the ground and charged the boy. His eyes were wide with fear as he made a grab for Albus' wand. The boy saw his attack though and had just enough time to send up a shield charm between them, sending Spot back to the dirt.
“S'wounds! This one does dance with the darkness!” Spot rolled onto his front and crawled for the edge of the forest. “Run, lest you be dragged into the bowels of hell by unholy spirits he conjures!”
Albus frowned. He had never danced in his life and certainly wouldn't be doing such with any darkness. He was annoyed at the man and now starting to see a pattern in the people he was coming across. He turned back towards Guinevere who was still fighting off the remaining two attackers, for Lefty had rejoined the battle along side the other.
Albus charged, hoping he could get at least one of them away enough to hex him without putting Guinevere at risk. He rolled his eyes at the thought of putting the girl at risk. She was taking on both fully grown men with such skill and speed he was sure she'd had some sort of training. Maybe she was Lady Guin- No, he couldn't allow himself such beliefs.
“Do not mind the boy!” shouted Lefty as he pushed Albus to the ground and kicked at him. “The ransom be for the Runaway Princess only. This plague sore be not worth our time.”
“Plague sore?!” Albus fumed and jumped to his feet. But his stance was short lived as Lefty was knocked back by Guinevere's foot and slammed into the boy. A snap rang out and Albus begged for it to be a bone and not his wand. He groaned loudly as he lifted the broken strip of Yew to his eyes and poked at the exposed Unicorn tail hair. The boy swore under his breath and stabbed the wand shards into the man's neck as he tried to regain his footing.
A howl of pain escaped Lefty and he clamped his hand over his neck. The other man, who Albus would now think of as Ape due to his uncanny resemblance to a gorilla, turned back at his associate's cries and sneered at Albus. His hand shot out towards Guinevere and caught her around the neck. Albus was sure he was trying to strangle her but he pulled back just as quickly and shot off into the woods the same direction Spot had retreated to.
“You filthy catpurse!” Guinevere's hands flew to her neck, her eyes filled with fire. She made to chase down her assailant but the anger made her sloppy. A tree root caught her foot and down the girl went into the mud. She flung her dagger as she hit the ground and it stuck hard into a tree mere moments after Ape's head had been there.
Albus turned back to deal with Lefty but the man had scurried off behind the other two, leaving the children alone in the clearing by the lake. Guinevere's choking sobs clenched the boy's stomach. He knelt beside her and helped her to her feet. At first he thought she'd just been hurt; her neck bore two scratch marks down the side from where something metal had been ripped free. He pressed his hands to the marks in an effort to sooth the reddened flesh, but she pushed him away.
“That...that...son and heir of a mongrel bitch!” The girl stamped her feet into the dirt and shrieked in anger; her arms whipped wildly around her body, the dress billowing out and creating gusts.
Albus took a slow step back and Guinevere turned on him.
“Why do you retreat?” Her soft hazel eyes scanned Albus and a small smirk fell upon her lips. “Why Albus Dumbledore, be you afraid of me?”
“Honestly -” His eyes darted to the dagger that was wedged into the nearby tree “- yes. Yes I am. You were bloody amazing, but terrifying. How did you learn to fight like that?”
“It matters not.” Guinevere sighed and brushed her fingers over her neck where the scratches lay.
“He stole something from you, didn't he?” Albus kept his eyes on Guinevere's neck. “A...necklace?”
“Indeed.” The girl sighed once more and crossed over to the wounded tree, then plucked her property back from its bark. “Twas my mother's. She did bestow it upon me on her very death bed. Keep it close, she did say. And lo, I have failed her final request of me. This will not stand.”
Albus laid his hand gently on the girl's shoulder. “We'll tell the authorities and they'll get it back.”
“No. I shall go into the forest and track those mongrels myself. What was mine shall be mine again by nightfall, mark my words Albus Dumbledore.” She turned to the boy and locked her gaze with his. “Prithee, would you call upon the dark forces that I have seen you command? Aide me in recovering my mother's necklace and I shall help you to find your way home.”
“They aren't -” Albus took a deep breath to keep from losing his temper. “They aren't dark forces. It's just simple wand work. I told you that I was a wizard. And...I can't.”
“I'm not lying!” Albus grabbed her shoulders to keep Guinevere from running off. “He broke my wand. When you pushed him on me, my wand got caught under his back and snapped. I can't do magic without my wand.” The boy rushed over to where the broken pieces of his wand lay and held them up for her to see. “I swear it! I would help you if I could.”
Guinevere's eyes looked as though all the hope in the world had drained away. “Then I shall find and recover mine honour without you.”
“No! I'll go with you. I can't use my magic but I can help you get it back. I can try to help you.”
Guinevere offered a small smile, but her eyes still looked slightly defeated.
“There's something I want from you first.” Albus raised his eyebrows and Guinevere tipped her head, bidding the boy to go on. “I want the truth from you.”
“Be you still in question of mine identity?”
“No, no. After what I just saw, I believe that you are who you say you are. I've heard of time travel, it's a little strange the ravine would be enchanted that way, but it's not un- Never mind that. I want to know why, Lady Guinevere, you are traveling to see the King alone and why that man called you a Runaway Princess.”
Guinevere shifted in place and busied her hands with cleaning tree sap from dagger. “Because I did run away. My father wouldst not permit the leave to see King Arthur so I did what I had to. I stole away in the night to make for the castle. I am certain all will be forgiven once I complete my task.”
“And what task is that?”
“I desire nothing short of becoming Queen.”
Albus looked over the girl that stood before him. Fifteen years old, just fought away two men twice her size, now determined to track down said men and retrieve her stolen necklace. Even if he didn't already know the legend of Lady Guinevere, he would have no trouble imaging this girl to be Queen.
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