It is Year of the Sun 932.
King Arthur has declared himself Over-King of all Logres.
The thirteen other kings and queens have shrugged and gone on with their lives, unmoved.
In Camelot itself, the mist-shrouded castle of the over-king, Jack Lime, a humble apprentice, and Princess Elamine, his beloved, are once more discussing the future.
"I have to be betrothed to a Prince, or a noble Knight! We've crossed this ground before, many times, Jack!"
"But if you would wait for me, I can attain something here! I am training with the Merlin-men, I am training with Sir Palamodes-"
"Saracen, aye, but as noble a knight as any who have taken the vow of the Round Table. He has said he will sponsor me, and I will be able to sit the Siege Perilous-"
"And die, Jack. And die. The Siege Perilous allows them to give you a Quest. And few Knights, let alone, well, let alone commoners like you, come back from the Quest. They go to the Edge of the Map -and die there."
"But if, WHEN, I return, I will be enobled, raised in social status and well made to marry you. Then we can be betrothed."
Princess Elamine wrinkled up her pretty nose. Her fair face framed by strawberry blonde curled hair was a vision of loveliness, and disdain.
"I love you with all my heart, Jack Lime. I would rather be heartbroken and have you alive as I am betrothed to some fat old merchant, than heartbroken from you dead on some cold hillside in Fife."
"I'll not die on my Quest!" Jack was losing patience with her now.
"I've trained with others, too. Reynard of Nottingham-"
"The weird animal? That talking fox?"
"Aye. And with the Rhosian in the dungeons."
Elamine frowned fully now. "My father says that Rhosian is a Thief. Trained by Giant Spiders in his homeland and a fully paid member of the Thieves' Guild to boot."
"Don't tell your father, Elamine, but yes. He is. The Rhosian is a Thief, and a Master Thief at that."
"Then why didn't he free himself from the dungeons?"
"He says it's safer here than anywhere in Logres at the moment, and that dark things are coming. Bad things from beyond the Edge of the Map, dark deeds in their wake."
"An easy story for a criminal to tell."
Jack Lime froze.
"Was that someone? Is someone coming?"
"I heard nothing."
Unseen by the striplings, a dark figure in a hooded cloak had appeared at the open arched window space behind them. Now a crossbow glinted in his hands...
"Well, I am committed to sitting on the Siege Perilous. I will win my noble title, and then we can be together."
Elamine never got to speak. At that moment the hooded figure in the window shot his crossbow.
His bolt flew true, slamming into Elamine's chest. Immediately, her pretty dress was soaked with her lifeblood and she fell to the ground, dead. The assassin threw his crossbow - a strange designed thing with an armoured sleeve attachment - into the room, and dropped out of sight.
Jack went first to the window, then back to Elamine's body, cradling it in his arms.
The harsh snap of the crossbow bolt and the clatter of the crossbow hitting the flagstones was all it had taken for Sir Kay and a group of Knave soldiers to arrive, quickly surrounding Jack Lime where he crouched over his paramour's body.
"Rejection and murder followed, eh, commoner? You'll hang at dawn for this!" Sneered Sir Kay.
Lime's mind raced, full of horror at the death of Elamine, and fear at his own imminent death...
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