If there was any creature that Gwaine really, deeply hated, it was the werewolf. Mindless, bestial, savage like nothing else. They were machines of slaughter, which was why the Templar Rules clearly stated that any werewolf hunt should include a full lance per werewolf. Three knights per Hairy Scary.
So of course Arthur wanted them to take out an entire werewolf pack. Gwaine shook the mud off his boot, but it did no good. The field was just one huge quagmire and his legs were black with mud up to his knees. He swore and ploughed on.
The man wouldn’t listen to reason. Ever. Hadn’t he trained him? Hadn’t he brought Arthur into the Templars? He’d given the man purpose, pulled him, literally, out of the gutter. Now there were times when Arthur looked at him, well, it made Gwaine think he was something stuck to the Master’s boot.
The gutter. He’d found Arthur, in the gutter, under Waterloo Bridge. With the drunks, tramps, illegal immigrants. Snoring in his stinking old army sleeping bag, lying on a bed made of cardboard boxes.
He’d been kicked out of the Royal Marines after some bad business in Bosnia, and had spent six months in a psychiatric hospital. From there, out onto the streets.
Ghul attacks were up. He should have been suspicious, even then, that something was brewing. But that was all hindsight. No-one, not Lot, not Elaine, no-one could have predicted what was to follow. The Nights of Iron. The near-extinction of the Knights Templar.
A ghul had brought him to Arthur. The Unholy blood-drinker was feeding amongst the flotsam and jetsam that lived under the arches. It made sense. You drink from a kid, someone would investigate. You drink from some smelly tramp, even kill them, who’s interested? No-one.
Unless you pick a psychotic ex-Royal Marine with bad blood and an even badder head. The ghul had just sunk his needle-sharp fangs into Arthur’s neck and woken him. Strong as the ghul was, even he was taken aback by Arthur’s ferocity. Gwaine had been trailing the ghul, hoping to find its sleeping place and kill it during the day, but it had delayed, looking for a snack. A big mistake. A big fat fatal one.
Arthur had grabbed its hair and held it down with one hand while he pummelled its face with a half-brick. The concrete walls had echoed with the high-pitched screech of the Fang-face and Arthur didn’t stop until the only thing left was a smear of blood, brains and bone. Then he’d crawled into a corner and wept.
When he’d stopped sobbing, Gwaine spoke to him. Told him that other monsters were out there, tonight, doing what this creature had tried to do. He’d asked Arthur if he believed in God. He’d asked Arthur if he wanted to help fight against theses monsters, these Unholy. Arthur had only asked one question.
Gwaine smiled as he pushed himself through the deep, sticky mud. He’d given him the only answer a Templar could give.
Okay, Arthur was still deeply disturbed and unstable, but now his rage and anger at the world had direction, focus. Gwaine had been pleased. It was simple. Just point Arthur in the right direction as send him on his way. The details were irrelevant, but his successes were legendary. The guy was just born to slaughter. With guns, swords, knives, his bare hands. Uncouth, lacking technique, just simple and direct.
Then he met Jamila. God, what an evil day that was!
She’d been a doctor working at the psychiatric hospital where he’d been a patient. She specialised in Post-traumatic stress disorder and while he hadn’t been her patient, she remembered him. They talked. They swapped numbers.
They fell in love.
The day they married Arthur should have been kicked out. Simple as that. No Templar was allowed to marry. Relationships were an unnecessary distraction. You needed to have one focus, one love. The Order. Nothing else. God had given the Templars a holy duty and it was not to get married, happy and lazy.
The less said about the kid, the better. Uriens was insane to let Arthur stay when they discovered he was about to become a dad. Insane.
Then Jamila died. The ghuls killed her and Gwaine got the old Arthur back. No, he got something better. Or worse. His hate was like a laser beam: pure, narrow and devastatingly intense.
With Uriens one of the first killed, Gwaine was finally in charge. Or should have been. The Nights of Iron were mad times. Death-dealing times. Truth be told, they all thought they were going to die. Knights were being picked off, the ghuls attacked in hordes. Gwaine tried to organise some defences, he’d even contemplated going for help. He tried to think things through. Like a proper Master. Conserve their strength and try and understand what was going on.
But total chaos reigned. The other Templars realised if they were going down, they were going down fighting. They took Arthur’s lead: Total war.
They killed and died and it was a close run thing. Out of the forty knights that had served under Uriens, less than ten survived. Gwaine’s strategy had failed. War was madness and it needed a man like Arthur to wage it.
The stones came into sight and they stopped. Torches flared around them and figures approached, cautiously.
Yes, times were mad. A man married to a Muslim led the Knights Templar. Hope rested on the shoulders of children. Here they were, fighting for a boy that all sense dictated should die.
Gwaine peered amongst the gathered figures, darkly robed in long winter coats or rough builders’ jackets. They looked like gypsies. Then he caught sight of him. Small, skinny and huddled against a rock, his hands tied together like a lamb ready for the butcher’s yard. The social services report said he was ten, but he looked younger, skinny with malnourished, sunken cheeks. His hair was silvery-white and crudely cut, half-covering his shining too-big blue eyes.
Gwaine scowled. They were risking their lives for this boy. Their eyes met and a chill crept up Gwaine’s spine. If he was a powerful as Elaine suspected, better they kill him quickly, here and now. Leave him to the wolves.
The boy called Kay.