A tall, elegant Breton woman of about twenty huddled up in the dank, dirty corner of a dark green tent, her vibrant, forest green eyes lifted with a slight arrogance of royalty despite the fact that she was clearly a prisoner. Lady Lylyth's hair, usually a shimmering mass of color; hues of red, gold and brown, was matted with dirt and what smelled like blood. Her clothing was torn and dirty, of rough wool make, but her muscle tone was obvious on her lightly tanned arms. The lady was clearly not a defenseless princess to be tested or tried in any way. She shook her head, attempting to clear the snarls of dirty hair from where it had fallen into her eyes, and reflected on the past week.

Five Days Earlier

"General?" a red-haired youth beside her squeaked. He was about her age, but he still couldn't get his voice completely under control. "What is going on, General?"

"For the last time, Thomas," Lady Lylyth replied, "You do not need to call me General, or anything like that. M'lady or Lylyth will both suffice. If you are determined to get all politically correct on me, it is Lady Lylyth." Technically, her title was Princess Lylyth, but she wasn't fond of it and had always simply gone by Lady Lylyth.

She couldn't help but grin about him, her green eyes dancing. Thomas had always been one for formality, and there were some things you just couldn't change. "We are heading out," Lylyth said, finally answering his question. "Our men are going to need some time to get set up at the best possible locations if we have any intention of beating back this Saxon invasion."

Thomas nodded, looking quite ridiculous as his head bobbed up and down at an unbelievable rate. "I understand that, but why are you suiting up, m'lady?"

"These are my men," she said, her tone clearly perplexed by him thinking she would do anything different. "Men will fight when called upon, aye, but they need someone to stand behind, and if I do not ride out, who will lead my men? No one knows them as I do, Thomas." Lady Lylyth finished with confidence, making it clear to everyone nearby that hers was the only option.

"Where is she?!" a voice screeched from several hallways away. Thomas closed his mouth, the screeching voice having clearly interrupted his thought process.

"Wonderful," Lylyth said, sarcasm dripping from her voice as the servants continued to armor her. That bold screech could only belong to one woman and the Lady of Brittany dreaded nothing more than explaining to her dear stepmother the intricacies of war. Lylyth loved her stepmother very much, but she fretted over trivial things far too often. Thomas smiled smugly to himself.

The face of the screeching voice appeared at last, storming around the corner with an unbelievable fury, her long, dark hair streaming behind her. The petite woman striding toward Lady Lylyth and her servants was quite imposing, despite her short stature, and seemed to tower over everyone else as she looked Lylyth angrily in the eye.

"I am quite sure many people have asked you this; Thomas for sure, likely half of your men and all of your ladies maids, but I intend to ask again anyway," Adelice said, barely taking a breath before continuing on. "What in the name of the Grail do you think you are doing?"

"Mother," she uttered comfortingly, "Go lie down and rest for a while. Do not fret over me. I will be fine, you can be most assured. I have a battle to fight and, hopefully, win. We really do not need Saxons sitting on our front porch now, do we?" Lylyth placed a hand in the middle of her stepmother's back, urging her back toward the hallway she had come from.

"Well, no," the sturdy older woman said reasonably, setting her feet against the pressure. "No, we do not. We also don't need the future owner of this kingdom captured or killed or worse." Adelice crossed her arms across her chest, staring at Lylyth levelly.

"I have no intention of removing this armor, dearest mother. These men need someone to lead them, as I have already explained to Thomas." Lylyth sent him a glance, clearly conveying a message of 'We will talk about this later.' Thomas smiled sheepishly back at her. "I am the one to lead them. I have fought beside every man of them and risen through their ranks. They all know and trust me, and I intend to be beside them in what could very likely be the most important battle they ever see."

Adelice pursed her lips unhappily, shaking her head abstractly as she listened to her young stepdaughter's explanations. "You are being simply unreasonable! Has your father heard any of this? Does he know the madness you are planning?" Adelice lifted her hands in exaggerated gestures as she questioned Lylyth.

The younger woman caught her stepmother's wrists carefully, stilling her hands. "No, he does not, and I do not intend to tell him. I need to be out there, Mother. These men need someone to follow. They need to know that we, as the royalty of the kingdom care. They need to know that we are here for more than comforting words!" Lylyth's voice slowly escalated in volume, anger storming across her features.

She was angry at herself, not the woman before her, and knew that it wasn't right to take it out on anyone else. Lylyth's frustration had developed across weeks from a lack of help to her people. As royalty, as a person of position, she felt it her responsibility to do something.

Adelice started at Lylyth's quick temper, but gained her composure in a matter of seconds. "Calm down, Lylyth. I know you are very upset, but you cannot do this. You are risking your neck, and that is not something our kingdom is willing to allow."

"No one will know it is me, Adelice. I fully intend to take every precaution to make myself seem as any other male general of our army," Lylyth spoke more calmly, her face still flush with rage.

"Oh, dear," Adelice said, clasping her hands together tightly. "Oh, dear. Go, but do so quickly, and return home to us, my daughter." Adelice loosed her hands, placing them on Lylyth's cheeks as she quickly kissed her forehead.

Lylyth grinned haughtily, hugging her stepmother. "Thank you, Mother! I will return home. I swear it on my own life."

"Let us hope it does not come to that," Adelice replied, a smile still lingering on her face as she looked at her beaming stepdaughter.

The young lady looked down at her armor, her expression now serious, but her eyes clearly gleaming with pride. Lylyth looked at herself in a small looking glass, looking for anything that might give her away as the future Queen of Brittany. "My hair..." she started, upon catching a flashing glimpse of it.

Adelice stepped forward, twisting the shimmering plait deftly to slide it under the back of the chainmail shirt and leather tunic that Lylyth wore so comfortably. Adelice, however, had seen Lylyth herself complete this maneuver many times in preparation for combat training. Adelice knew her stepdaughter had learned how to fight alongside the boys her age, despite her husband's obvious oblivion.

As far as King Macliau knew, his daughter had been trained enough in combat to defend herself if her entourage of guards was infiltrated. The training he had ordered for her encompassed nothing more than basic skills of fighting with or without weapons, leaving the rest of her time free to learn about etiquette and politics for running the kingdom.

Lylyth grabbed her sword, Durandal, and its plain sheath from where she had hidden them in the small closet in the corner of her vast room. The closet contained expensive, stately dresses for the most part, but Lylyth had hired a craftsman to create a hidden space behind it where she could hide her armor and other combat equipment.

Lylyth tucked her helmet under her arm, facing Adelice with a grim smile. She nodded, no suitable words of condolence or goodbye coming to her lips. Lylyth turned and strode out of the room with a fierce determination.

She slipped through the castle as carefully as a fully armored person could, avoiding everyone on her way to the kitchen. The young lady reached the kitchen and bent, looking around to make sure no one saw her as she leaned toward the cooking fire. Lylyth dipped two fingers into the ash around the fire, smearing it along her face to disguise herself further.

After looking at her reflection several times in a metal pan, Lylyth slipped through the servant door, taking off at a quick clip in an attempt to look inconspicuous. She strode in the direction of the parade grounds, knowing that Brevalaer was already saddled and waiting with the other officers of the army.