A/N: I have a big kitty trying to attack my feet through the covers and one small kitty hiding under my lap-desk as per usual for him. I've got to play on Wednesday at the Broken Spoke. This will be the first time I've been able to play someplace since we moved in November. Hopefully, I won't see my mom there. w;; that would just make it awkward and unwelcome. However, likely she will be there playing bass as usual for the Broken Spoke. Oh well….
Merlin heard a loud cracking noise and looked to the small house elf near him, holding up box. The creature did not look like most elfin creatures did. Much like the merpeople, elves varied in their appearance according to the region they lived in, but shared common characteristics amongst each other. House elves, in particular, were of a kind that were very short and thin with large heads and greenish skin, their ears long and bat-like and their eyes large and round. They were hard working and loved to do what was asked of them.
Merlin took the box and nodded to the house elf. "Thank you," he said.
"A pleasure to do the bidding of Master Riddle, sir," it said and bowed, the tea towel it wore made a slight rustling sound as it did so. Then, with a snap of its tiny fingers it disappeared with a loud cracking sound.
Merlin looked to the box and opened it up, finding a ribbon and a note. He pulled out the note and looked at it carefully, seeing the spidery handwriting of the headmaster's scrawled across its surface in green ink.
I'm certain you will receive this in due time, as the house elves are quite proficient in getting to places where most wizards can't without a great deal of difficulty. Camelot is farther south than any one of us could disapperate to, however, the house elves can manage far larger distances due to their own innate powers.
The ribbon was what was handy and can be clutched by two people if necessary. I am certain you won't have need of two people joining us here, but you never know. I hope whatever you need it for is not going to happen; because I have a feeling for what purpose you requested this. My school is the safest place in all of the British Islands, after all.
Professor Tom Riddle
Headmaster of Hogwarts, school of witchcraft and wizardry
Merlin stowed the note away elsewhere and put the ribbon into his pocket for safe keeping. Then, he stood up and walked to the door. Immediately, he was hit by a very sick feeling inside him. He knew that feeling and didn't like it one bit. Morgan was still there and she was definitely up to something.
Cuchulainn stayed close to Arturia as well as he could. She was getting very irritated with him, but he didn't let her from his sight for more than a few minutes, aside from her going into her quarters. Morgan was still about and he certainly didn't trust her as far as he could throw her.
"Sir Cuchulainn," said Arturia stiffly, "Why is it that you continue to badger me? Don't you have duties yourself that you ought to be attending?"
"Aye, and one would be you. Merlin sanctioned it," he said, grinning faintly at Arturia. Arturia looked less than amused. "I don't lie, you know," he said.
"Yes, I'm well aware of that, Sir Cuchulainn," said Arturia as she looked away from his still very handsome face. Why did he have to give her that very particular smirk of his whenever she acknowledged that, yes, he was indeed what he said he was? "Please refrain from coming near me, at least, Sir Cuchulainn," said Arturia stiffly, looking away from him deliberately, "Merlin may have told you to watch after me, and I trust his judgment, however, I am your sole authority."
"A sole authority that seems to forget that what drives me is not wholly my loyalty to my king," said Cuchulainn softly.
"It should be." Cuchulainn eyed Arturia as she muttered and moved away from him quickly. He narrowed his red eyes and smirked faintly. If only she had been around when he had been alive previously, he certainly would have made good use of that stiff temperament of hers.
He suddenly had a sick feeling inside of him that caused his mind to almost split. The sleeping boy inside his mind, the lad who had not totally merged with his past life self, was surfacing once more with the sudden sickness that came over Cuchulainn. He leaned against the rock wall of the hallway and attempted to get his senses back to him; meanwhile, Arturia simply kept walking off ahead of him without looking back. Could she not hear him groaning in agony? Surely she was not as deaf and blind to all around her as to ignore the plight of a fellow human being!
And then, all he could see was black.
Bedivere was in the hallway, looking at Sir Cuchulainn as he looked around and touched the walls with wonder. His hair was bright red and his eyes were a vivid, clear blue. Bedivere frowned deeply. He knew the man in front of him was Sir Cuchulainn, but why did the man suddenly change his hair and eyes? Was he some sort of shape-shifter now?
"Sir Cuchulainn," said Bedivere as he walked closer. The knight didn't turn to him, but kept looking round in awe. "Sir Cuchulainn," he tried again, "What is the matter with you?"
"I'm not home," said the blue knight.
"Of course you aren't," said Bedivere, raising an eyebrow at the man before him.
"This… looks like a castle from a fairytale!" said the blue knight with big, boyish grin plastered on his face. Had his voice grown a little higher too? "I've always wanted to be with the fairies in the fairy kingdom!"
"What on Earth has gotten into you, Sir Cuhculainn?" asked Bedivere as he put a hand on Cuchulainn's arm. "Are you not feeling well? You're covered in sweat and you're very pale."
"Aunt Mary said I get very strange sometimes, talking about a fairy queen sitting under a tree when I sleep or when I play, but I've always seen her. I've always loved her. Maybe she finally took me in?" For the first time Cuchulainn looked to Bedivere and smiled brightly at him, much like a little boy. "Are you one of her knights?"
"Fairy queen?" asked Bedivere.
"Aye, she's very pretty. She has long blonde hair and a pretty smile." He grinned sheepishly and looked away, looking once more around the castle hallway as though he really had found himself in some sort of fairy tale kingdom. "I want to be her knight. I want to be the only knight she'll ever need."
Bedivere frowned even more deeply. Those words were words he had heard before from the man, though, in truth, he seemed to have been joking around at the time. What did he mean by queen? Had he somehow seen the queen, Gwenivere, in his dreams? But, he said she had blonde hair, not brown. And why did he suddenly have red hair and blue eyes?
"Come this way, Sir Cuchulainn, I'll take you to our wizard, Merlin," said Bedivere as he took a hold of Cuchulainn's arm. Cuchulainn looked to Bedivere and smiled brightly once again, freely grinning like a little kid. He must have been able to charm even as a boy with that grin. At least, that was what Bedivere felt when he watched how the man before him seemed to continuously act like a child.
Gwenivere felt odd, almost ill for some reason. She had been sewing with the other ladies and found herself feeling as though she was going to vomit. She stood up unsteadily and moved quickly outside to get some fresh air into her lungs and to clear her head. Ever since Morgan had arrived the previous day things had suddenly become very uncomfortable inside the castle. Gwenivere didn't trust in Morgan's good intentions to have her son join up and something about the boy made her nauseous just looking at him. His eyes reminded her of Arturia and that felt very wrong to her.
A thought hit her like a brick to her head. The day that Morgan had returned home after visiting her sons brought to mind the incident she still could not explain. Galahad and Gawain and Arturia had assured her nothing had happened, but there was too long a time that had disappeared that day for her to feel that it was right. She had forgotten it mostly due to Morgan's absence and the fact that perhaps it really had been her imagination.
A pair of strong hands placed themselves on her shoulders and she looked around to Lancelot, smiling faintly. Lancelot nodded to her and smiled back, kissing one of her hands. "You do not look well, my queen," said Lancelot. "Perhaps you should go speak to the castle doctor?"
"I will be fine, Lancelot," said Gwenivere as she rubbed his thumb with hers. "Thank you for inquiring to my health."
Lancelot gazed at her and felt his heart pain him with the desire to embrace her or perhaps kiss her. Indeed, the look she gave him made it even more painful for she looked upon him much like a maiden to a prized suitor. He sighed after a moment and released her hand, looking away from her. "My queen, please remember whose face you gaze at and that it is not your husband's."
Gwenivere went red and looked away, coughing into her hand. "Ah, I did not realize that I was looking at you in anyway other than one of my king's knights, Sir Lancelot," she said quickly.
"Indeed, you were fair heated in your gaze upon me, my queen," said Lancelot, smirking faintly.
"Now really!" gasped Gwenivere as she crossed her arms in front of her chest and looked away with a huff. "I'm queen to a king and I know my place. Don't accuse me of such behavior."
"Oui, and you enjoy a certain amount watching your knight play to your charms," said Lancelot.
Gwenivere opened her mouth and closed it repeatedly, somewhat resembling a fish for a few moments before she huffed and smacked his arm. He laughed and she turned red, though she chuckled a little behind her hand. This was how a woman and a man were to interact with one another when they felt the same way as the other did. This was flirtation and attraction, not duty and whatever else she had been privy to while playing queen to another girl's king.
"I see you are enjoying being outside with one of my fellow knights," said a rather snooty sounding voice. Gwenivere gasped and looked behind her to see the young man that Morgan had brought with her as her son. Once more, Gwenivere felt as though she were looking into the perversion of Arturia's eyes. The face was that of a very handsome young man with sharp features, pale skin and dark curled hair, but the eyes were all Arturia, though colored with malice.
"I was merely enjoying a lively conversation," said Gwenivere.
"Indeed," said Mordred, smiling coldly. "I enjoy a good conversation too, but usually not with a queen. Mayhap I might indeed join this conversation?"
"Decidedly not," said Gwenivere as she picked up her skirts and walked off.
"My, the queen doesn't seem to like me, Sir Lancelot. Could it be that I'm not as charming as you are?" asked Mordred.
Lancelot eyed Mordred for a moment and shook his head. "No," said Lancelot before he walked away from Mordred. He always had a strange feeling whenever Mordred was near him, as though the boy were mocking him. Galahad and Gawain as well didn't seem to like him, but Agravaine and Gaheris both enjoyed the boy's company. Several of the other knights and soldiers alike enjoyed the young man's presence, calling him witty and such things. It was as though a spell were coming over Camelot and there was nothing Lancelot or anyone could do to stop it.
Lancelot could only hope that when Morgan left that the spell would be broken and normal life would resume as it had for so many years. With that hope in his heart, he walked off as quickly as possible to find some sort of solace while that witch and her son were in the castle. After all, how could he accuse the king's own sister and nephew of foul play without further proof?
Merlin raised his eyebrows at the once proud hound of Ulster as he was ushered into his quarters by Bedivere. Bedivere frowned deeply at the old wizard and gently shoved the smiling, red haired Cuchulainn at him. "I have no idea what occurred in his head, but currently he's out of it and someone else has taken his place."
"In layman's terms, he's nutters, correct?" asked Merlin with some small amount of amusement.
"Aye, that would be right," said Bedivere. "I would say he's gone especially loony because of how young he seems in his head. You don't think he's gone elsewhere in his head because of stress, do you?" Bedivere highly doubted that given that Cuchulainn was probably the most laid back individual he had ever seen since Gawain.
Cuchulainn crouched down and watched some of Merlin's little planet collection swirl around each other on metal wires. Merlin eyed him for a moment and then looked back at Bedivere. "I'll keep him here for observation. I've been feeling out of sorts today and I think it may be a part of it. Perhaps it is a strange alignment of the planets that might resolve itself in a couple days time."
"Perhaps," said Bedivere. He bowed to Merlin and walked out, closing the door behind him. Once more, the magical seals Merlin kept in his quarters sealed the room tight from sound escaping.
"Sir Cuchulainn, are you quite all right," asked Merlin, leaning on his desk.
Cuchulainn continued to stay crouched as he watched the model of the heavens move around and around. When he did speak, he had a strange look in his vivid, clear blue eyes. "I'm not in a fairy castle, am I?" It wasn't said as a question, but rather a statement to be agreed or disagreed upon.
"No, you are in Camelot castle and you are a knight of the round table," said Merlin, carefully observing his odd behavior.
Cuchulainn scratched at his head and reached back to the tie holding the long portion of his hair back. He blinked and pulled the long red tail over his shoulder and looked at it before looking back at the planetary model once more. "I'm… not supposed to be here. The other me belongs here, not me."
"The other you?" Merlin was intrigued now. Had Cuchulainn been reborn and part of his soul simply wasn't fully integrated into the body he was reborn into? If so, that would explain how Cuchulainn was now acting like a very lost little boy. That being said, the little boy in question was somehow entranced and coming to life by watching the planetary movements of the model in front of him.
"Aye, the other me. The pretty fairy queen came down and talked to me at the old tree, but after that I don't remember much of what happened. I sometimes come out to take a look around, but then I go back asleep. Now that I think about it, I'm a man aren't I?" said Cuchulainn softly.
"Yes, you are. You are the reincarnation of the hero Cuchulainn."
Cuchulainn smiled faintly and poked the planet Neptune gently. "I told her I wanted to be her knight," said Cuchulainn softly. Merlin gazed at him gently, smiling very faintly. "I need to fully merge with my other self. I'm not sure how to, though."
"I might be able to find something. For now, I need to figure out what forced you from your sleep inside your mind," said Merlin as he sat down and picked up a book. "After all, you have been sleeping for a while I expect. That man's will is far stronger than anyone else's."
"I was feeling sick," said Cuchulainn as he poked Neptune again. "I felt like throwing up and then I came up and he was asleep. Magic is in the air."
"Magic? Of course there is, Arthur's sword is magi and so am I," said Merlin.
Merlin looked up finally at Cuchulainn, a dread spreading through him as he saw the man/boy looking out the window. "What do you mean, Cuchulainn?"
"Magic is what caused me to be nauseous. A magic spell has been woven," said Cuchulainn. "Magic that will hurt my fairy queen." With that, he turned and ran out of the room.
Merlin shot from his feet, dread forming a lump in his stomach as heavy as a rock. There was only one other in the castle that could cast magic and she was none too friendly to anyone. He too stood up quickly and ran out, the ribbon in his pocket a reminder of his only option should he be unable to get to Morgan.
In the great hall was where he heard a yelp of pain from a woman. He found Morgan on the ground, holding her hand which was bleeding. Cuchulainn, red hair and blue eyes, stood in front of Arturia and looked very much like he was afraid he would have to fight before he was ready. The boy had indeed the spirit of Cuchulainn inside him.
Merlin looked around him and frowned. No one was moving. Instead, they just looked on as though they were in a trance. Arturia glared at Cuchulainn. "Put your sword away, Sir Cuchulainn!" she snarled.
"How dare you harm my mother!" snarled Mordred. "Agravaine, Gaheris, Gawain! Help me protect mother from this fiend!"
Agravaine and Gaheris did as they were bade, but Gawain stood back, his eyes entranced, but deep inside those vivid green eyes was a spark of intelligence. The spell had not wholly worked on him!
"Indeed! Cuchulainn! I ordered you to stand down!" snarled Arturia.
Morgan stood up slowly and held her bleeding hand, smirking faintly at Merlin. "I win," she said. She flicked a wand and soon other knights were moving toward Cuchulainn, Merlin and Arturia, swords drawn.
"Bedivere! Garret! Galahad!" she cried at them, but to no avail, for they advanced on her and the only knight still protecting her.
Merlin pulled the ribbon out and knocked the knights away from the pair of them with his staff. He smirked at Morgan and winked at her. "You've not won yet, Morgan." Then, he grabbed both Arturia's hand and Cuchulainn's hand and wrapped the ribbon around their hands before moving away from them. A strange pull behind Arturia's navel forced her to fly through the air, or at least feel as though she was being pulled along through the air at top speed, with no telling where she'd land next.
Merlin sighed when the pair disappeared from his sight and looked to Morgan once more. The knights surrounded him and took hold of his staff and his arms. Morgan grunted and healed up her hand with her wand. "Now, that wasn't fair," said Morgan. "You had a portkey on you."
"Yes, I did. I knew something might occur soon that I would need the portkey to transport Arthur away from here with," said Merlin. "To someplace you can't go."
"I learned from there same as you did, Merlin," said Morgan, smirking at him, "And that means even I can enter that school."
"Not now. They know better and you forget that there are people there that KNOW you," said Merlin, grinning. "And that means that I have won, not you, Morgan."
Morgan slapped Merlin hard enough that blood spurted from his lip. He turned to look at her and she eyed him coldly with dark eyes. "Do not think you are free to say as you are please now, Merlin. I'm in charge now." With that, she snapped her fingers and the knights hauled Merlin away.
Mordred frowned. "Mother, you said I was to be king. A king is the only one to rule, not a queen."
Morgan eyed Mordred and smiled. "Ah, yes, I forget myself, son. I was caught up in dealing a blow to Merlin."
"Indeed," said Mordred, eyeing his mother suspiciously. He snorted and walked over to the high seat, picking up the circlet that Arturia typically wore off the floor and placed it on his head. "I am now king on this land," he announced loudly to the people present, "And that means you all belong to me."