A Life to save a Life

Disclaimer: Everything belongs to the BBC

Chapter One

Far away, in a lowely cave with sharp rocks and little pools of drew, a witch stood grinning over her basin, She was well into her 50's or 60's but her apperance made her look not a day over twenty. Grinning, she bent over the basin and dipped her hands into the water; 'Dra, teliamore, di morta Arthur Pendragon, ye tuea!' the basin shook violently and a huge roar filled the empty cave, Nimeuh looked up, grinning.

'Right! That's everything I think.' Prince Arthur, stood up straight in his armour, he turned to his servant and best friend, 'Come on Merlin! Hurry up!' 'Alright! Alright!' Merlin grumbled, 'it may have escape his royal highness' notice but I haven't quite managed to do two things at once!' The Prince grinned, 'Oh Merlin! That's not true! I have noticed that you are incapable of even doing ONE thing at a time!' Merlin glared at him, 'Thanks!' 'You're welcome! Now come on, let's get going!' As they made their way out to the courtyard where their horses were waiting, Arthur suddenly stopped and turned to Merlin, 'Now, remember what we talked about Merlin' he said in a playfully patronising way. Merlin sighed and rolled his eyes, 'yes Sire.' 'What aren't we going to do?' 'Get all emotional and end up fighting over animal rights.' 'Very good! And what else aren't we going to do?' Merlin sighed again, 'Be clumsey, distract you and frighten away the prey.' Arthur clapped sarcastically, 'Well done! There maybe hope for you yet!' Merlin glared at him, 'I hate you Arthur Pendragon!' The prince laughed and slapped him on the back, 'You say the nicest things Merlin! I feel the same way about you too! Maybe that's what keeps us together!' Merlin gave a fake smile, 'Funny!'

It was a lovely day, the sun shone through the trees as Merlin and Arthur crept through the forest, Suddenly they heard an almighty roar, Arthur beckoned Merlin to follow him and, together, they crept through the trees, as they approached the noise, they noticed broken branches, as they crept further they noticed a cave in front of them, Arthur grabbed the hilt of his sword, ready to confront it. 'Perhaps it's a dragon!' Merlin whispered. Arthur shook his head, 'They're all extinct!' 'Oh yeah!' Said Merlin, 'forgot.' They crept a little further, suddenly, as if from no-where, it sprung out, looking like a hughe snake with two vicious looking fangs, Arthur immediatly attacked it with his sword but it was too big and too powerful, Merlin rushed forward to try and help, but the beast's body was so big it got in the way, Merlin looked up at the ceiling to see to rather vicious looking pointed rocks, muttering a spell, they broke away and fell on the creature's head but it did no good. Frantically looking around, Merlin casted his eye on the ground and found a sword, Picking it up, he flung it at the creature, stabbing it sraight in the chest, (or what looked like its chest) it fell to the ground, dead. Looking round, Merlin's heart dropped like a stone as he saw his master and friend in the same state.

Chapter 2

Merlin and the rest of the men lugged an unconcious Arthur home, The King and Morgana rushed forward, 'What the hell has happened to my son!' The King shouted, Merlin nervously explained, 'Get Gaius at once!' Gaius immediatly tended to Arthur's wounds but shook his head, he turned to Merlin, 'What creature did this Merlin?' He asked. Merlin did his best to explain, Gaius turned pale, 'what creature is it?' Merlin asked, 'I fear that it is a questing beast, a beast that was the nightmare of a long-dead king, so the legend says.' 'So, it's magical!' Said Merlin, 'Almost certainly!' Replied Gaius.

Merlin lit a torch later that evening and looked at the long flight of stairs that stretched out before him leading to darkness, he felt sick, he and Arthur had become quite close over the time they had known each other, and it frightened him that he could die, and not just because he was the heir either. Reaching his usual peak on the rock, he called out, 'Hello?!' 'Hello!' Said a gruffer voice, Merlin looked up, 'I need help on saving Arthur!' The dragon cocked his head, 'Yes I heard about that.' 'Well?' Merlin asked expectantly, the dragon hesitated, 'You must seek help from the Isle of Blessed, and the old religion, they will know what to do.' 'Well, what will they do?' Merlin asked, 'They will have the answer you seek.' The dragon replied and flew off, 'YES!' Merlin called out, 'BUT WHAT IS THE ANS..... Oh why do I bother?' Merlin muttered to himself and headed back.

Gaius was busy cooking something when Merlin entered, 'How's Arthur?' Merlin asked, 'Still the same' Gaius replied he looked over and saw a worried look on his nephew's face, 'Don't worry, Merlin, he'll pull through, he's strong.' 'What's the Isle of the Blessed?' Asked Merlin, Gaius looked at him, 'It contains very powerful ancient magic, in fact, it was the first form of magic to exist, it consists of taking things in exchange for something else.' Merlin looked at him warily, 'So, in other words for Arthur to live, someone has to die!' Gaius nodded, 'The balance of life and death must always be preserved, so in other words, someone must take Arthur's place in death.' Merlin went pale, but then his face determined, said, 'So be it!' Gaius stared at him, 'don't be so stupid Merlin, I'm not going to let you die!' 'have you got a better idea then?' Gaius stared at him, tears came into his eyes, 'Just don't tell my mother, well not for a while anyway.' As Merlin got ready, Gaius hugged him tightly, 'I'm so proud of you' he whispered, 'and I know your father would be too.'

Chapter 3

Merlin made his way through the forest, it was pitch black, suddenly, he saw the faint flicker of light through the trees, apprehensive, he approached it cautiously, suddenly, he felt himself being lifted up, a faint smell of damp and drew filled his nostrils making his chest feel wet and sore, he closed his eyes, hoping to get rid of the dizzyness and faint feeling of nausea that hung around him. 'Welcome!' Said a voice, Merlin opened his eyes, he found himself in a woodland surrounding, except there were no trees, or at least any that he could see throught the thick fog, he felt something soft and cold through his thin shoe, he looked down and found the entire ground covered in moss, he looked up, he seemed to be in some kind of woodland graveyard, ahead of him, he saw a single tombstone, and recognised the person laying apon it.

'Arthur!' Merlin ran towards his friend's seemingly lifeless body, suddenly, a staff came out of no-where, stopping him in his tracks, 'Please!' He panted, The demon looked at him, 'It is too late, we have already taken his soul.' 'No! Take me in his place!' The demon chuckled, 'why would we accept a servant over a prince?' 'Please!' Merlin begged, 'He's got his whole life ahead of him, this was nerver supposed to happen I'm supposed to protect him, it's it's this witch Nimeuh she's got....' he stopped as the demon held his hand up, he eyes burned red, 'Nimeuh!! You know Nimeuh!!' Oh yes, we know her alright!' Merlin muttered.

Merlin looked at him thoughtfully, 'What's she done?' And, watching the demon hesitate added, 'perhaps I can help... Only on one condition of course!'

Chapter Four

'Oh god!' Arthur groaned and opened his eyes, 'I'm so giddy, what happend?' Gaius hastly explained. Arthur began to recover when he noticed tears in Gaius' eyes, 'Gaius! Whatever's the matter?' Gaius swallowed, 'Of course, you wouldn't know.' Horror grabbed Arthur's body and he went pale, 'Know what? Where's Merlin?' Gaius sat down on the bed and began to explain, the look of confusion on Arthur's face, turned to horror and then distress, at the end he brought his knees up to his chest and buried his head in his arms, desperate to hide the tears that he could feel beginning to fall, he felt a hand roughly grip his shoulder and give it a squeeze, he looked up, expecting to see Gaius, instead, his father was bent over him, the look of deepest sympathy on his face, the following day, Arthur went to the turrets and looked down at the villiage, he looked across to the target practise and his memory immediatly wondered to when they had first met, the ghost of their conversation started to ring in his ears; 'Come on! That's enough!' 'Do I know you?' 'My name's Merlin.' 'So I don't know you!' feeling his emotions get the better of him he put his head in his arms and cried.

The next following days, he was quite stoical, he didn't swap taunts with Morgana, nor hang around with his old mates and he wasn't as sharp and upbeat as everyone was used to seeing him. He felt a great hole in his life, and although he wouldn't dare admit to anyone, he knew he'd lost his best friend.

A Month later

Chapter Five

Cold, pale, weak, hungry, and exhausted, Merlin made his way up to the castle drawbridge, and slipped in, one of the guards suddenly grabbed him by the shoulder, 'Who are you? Show yourself!' Weakly, Merlin pushed back his hood, the guard went as white as a sheet, 'Christ almighty! Inform the Prince!' He yelled, a moment later Arthur came rushing out, 'MERLIN!! He yelled, servant, prince, and friends stared at each other for a while, then Merlin collapsed.

'Merlin?' Merlin slowly opened his eyes, to see the prince smiling at him, Morgana and Gwen were there too, 'Oh Merlin! I can't believe you're OK!' Merlin smiled, 'I can scarcely believe it myself.'

The following day, after Merlin had had a good sleep and something to eat, Gaius and Arthur eagerly asked him to explain what had happened, 'after I was taken, I noticed that the demons were still not happy, they were grumbling and muttering amongst themselves, I heard Nimeuh's name mentioned loads of times, so I sneak forward to try and hear a bit better, and I noticed that their eyes flashed red, so I approach them and ask if I can help, they pushed me aside, but then I heard one of them whispering something about me being a wizard and they beckon me forward. Apparently Nimeuh's been using their magical powers and been promising them mortel souls in return, But she hasn't upheld her side of the bargain, So I say, what if I could lead you to her and then you could take her soul? That would be complete revenge wouldn't it! They think about this and agree. So I practiced the summoning charm.' Gaius interrupted, 'The forceful summoning charm? But that takes months to learn!' 'I was desperate to get back to you so I worked exceptionaly hard.' 'What's the Forceful Summoning Charm? Arthur asked, 'Forces people to come to you or something?' Both Gaius and Merlin nodded, 'But it takes months to learn.' Gaius explained, 'No wonder Merlin's so exhausted!' 'Well, it was my drive and determination that did it I suppose.' Said merlin, 'Damn right it was!' Said Gaius smiling. 'Anyway!' Said Merlin, 'to cut a long story short, I did it! Oh Nimeuh's scream! I can guarantee that I'll have a headache for the rest of my life!' Gaius laughed then gave his nephew a big hug and left him alone with the prince, Arthur was still staring at him, 'so..' Said Merlin, 'how's my replacement?' Arthur smiled, 'He's terrific, yeah! He's punctual, smart, and does the job properly.' 'Wow! Looks like I'm out of a job then!' Said merlin grinning, 'No, it's better you have someone like that sire, it's what you deserve.' 'Merlin' replied Arthur, 'If I'd wanted a smart, punctual, effeciant servant, I wouldn't've put up with a lazy, incompetent, scruffy pest like you.' Merlin laughed, 'Thanks! I guess!' Arthur grinned, then, the two friends hugged, (In all understanding of course that it was in the heat of the moment!!)