Artur had emerged from the battle, bruised but otherwise whole - though he knew his body would remind him of that spear when the aches crept forth in the coming hours. Being displaced was a dizzying experience, initially - he almost cursed when the blood-soaked sand beneath his boots instantaneously hardened into marble, but he wasn't such a green boy to not recognise such blatant magic at work.
Nor could he fail to recognise that the Kingdom surrounding him was beyond anything he'd ever laid eyes upon in his thirty-seven, putting his own wretched homeland to shame. That too was dizzying in its own right - though instead of retching, Artur spat off to one side as the ornately garbed Exusians that had surrounded them made their presence known and ever so kindly reminded them to relinquish their arms, perhaps failing to appreciate he and his fellow travellers had just weathered a raid that had seen these Exusians' fellows slaughtered.
Tugging an oilcloth free, he instead set to work on cleaning the blood from his sword, using the moment as an opportunity to ascertain the measure of the people that named this skywards kingdom their own. Men, women and children. Spellcasters and knights.
Knights, better equipped than most soldiers he'd fought with in his time. Their plate wasn't dented or spotted with rust, their weapons forged by skilled craftsmen, perhaps even bound by spells at the Witch-Queen's behest. And doubtless, they were trained and drilled well enough, yet there was a certain quality to these Exusians that betrayed a certain weakness - that life above the world made them soft. If the ambush of the guardsmen by a raiding band had been anything to go by, their sort simply weren't prepared for the realities that the world offered.
Artur wagered that, to a man, if one stripped away the ornate gilding and castle-forged steel, these men weren't much different than the likes of which he'd fought and fought alongside in his years, no less likely to bend or break under the heat of a true battle. Maybe he was wrong, but their lot had left much to be desired at the camp - not even magic had been enough to save the emissary.
Nonetheless, he had no argument with them. Exusia wasn't the kingdom he claimed, nor did he harbour any desire to ruin the opportunity that awaited him here. Swords and spears.
It was doubtful that the Exusians would've gone to such trouble to pluck them from the desert only to slaughter or enslave them. And doubtless, if he were in the Witch-Queen's position, he would've taken the same care in dealing with a band of travelers-for-hire.
After all, a bastard was no stranger to threats of assassins and plots.
Once his sword was clean, Artur repeated the same motion with his dagger, still crimson-stained from where he'd pricked the clansman's belly and then some. Then, rather than removing his swordbelt, the bastard handed both sword and dagger to one of the waiting knights by the flat of their blades. "Aye, your Queen has no need to fear for her person where I'd be concerned."
He made no mention of the hunting blade stowed in a pouch along the back of his belt - though he had no intention of using it here.
For a moment, he eyed Azariah and the peculiar yet deadly metallic curiosity that seemed animated by some queer magics alone, "Come, boy - I doubt the Queen's folk are like to toy with your pet."
Though he was certainly green, at least the lad hadn't shat himself and crumpled when the clansmen attacked them at the camp. As for the rest of the group, those who'd joined the fighting had at least demonstrated they could follow directions. Good enough, for now.
The few who didn't - well, perhaps they'd show some other use. Bur other sorceress and the crone? They warranted watching if nothing else. Though he was no mere swineherd that feared spectres and woodstalkers would curse his livelihood, he'd seen enough to take nothing at face value. Magic was a fickle beaat. Now to see what the Witch-Queen wanted with the lot of them.