Tangible Schizophrenia


Dawn Breaking

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Implied Arthur/Guinevere, Guinevere/Woad woman.
Feedback: What you liked, what you didn’t, etc.
Disclaimer: These versions aren’t mine.
Notes: Inspired by the contrelamontre ‘laundry list’ challenge, but a bit short.
Summary: The nameless meditates on the outcome of Badon Hill.


She’s cold now that the heat of battle is gone, carried away by the smoke that now stains the sky from horizon to horizon. Her blood runs freezing as it pours from the wounds on her legs, arms, belly. It spurts red between her fingers, but by the time it pools about her feet, the woad has stained it deathly purple, like winter-killed flesh.

The tree is rough against her back, but the bark doesn’t cut like the garrote did, ends wrapped into the bones of her fingers, and the sway of the leaves by her cheek is nothing like the hot breath of her leader or the steam of the life leaving the Saxon. She remembers the power in her legs as she’d sprung on him, remembers the triumphant fury in Guinevere’s eyes as together they had rode him down to the ground and ripped death into him. She remembers that at that moment, she had thought herself fallen into a campfire legend, burning bright and relentless and unstoppable.

They’re hailing Guinevere queen and Arthur king, she hears, but only dimly, as if through the hero-eating mists that pervade the island. Those are deserved titles, fitting for those who stand and raise their voices and do not fall like wheat before the scythe of tribulation. Arthur’s reputation is known far and wide—and Guinevere is the one who matches his light with shadow, whether or not she is yet famous for that. Perhaps it is better that she isn’t, given her role.

Perhaps…perhaps it is better to die here, to carry the knowledge of sticky lifeless-hued woad smearing beneath bow-callused fingers and dark intent eyes on distant Roman walls into the greatest darkness there is. Something is crumbling in the wind. Something is falling, and being swept away before the length of Excalibur, and whether it is Roman or Saxon or Briton makes no difference. It cannot be stopped, and that she knows as surely as she does the slowing of her heart, or the war kindness of a leader who stoops to help her followers smear on the marks of death, or the taste of blood passed back and forth between living mouths. Like rising to clever fingers cupping her sex, or like yanking out someone else’s blade from a corpse and turning to see her already gone. Like screaming in pleasure and in hate.

Her time is passing, and just as she cannot feel the light draining from her sight, she cannot sense the place she has in what comes after. Guinevere stands by her king, bloodied and bent but unbowed to the great tide that is taking away all the old lines carved in dirt and bark and flesh. She flashes and shimmers now, brilliant as the man that has won Britain for her.

But in the falling blackness: a memory of eyes burning deep with red lust and a mouth gaping wide with ancient rage over another man, smothered in blood-soaked furs tucked messily around his brutalized throat. And the old ways shall live on, one way or another, because they are not unchanging and not brittle rigidity before time. People will carry the seeds within them, keeping them safe and ready to sprout when the next long night descends on the land. They shall remember this day, and they shall remember the blood.

And at least one woman will remember what was lost in the gaining.