Candun gazed out towards Camelot from his position at the edge of the outlying forest. The sun had not yet risen, the grey sky quite peaceful as it awaited morning sunlight. He smiled softly as he leaned casually against a tree. Tonight would be the night. After all this time, all this waiting, tonight it would all be over.
"Emrys," he said softly to himself ,"tonight we shall meet."
"Good morning, Sire."
"Merlin!" Arthur said in complete surprise when his servant walked in the door. "You're…on time. For once."
Merlin placed Arthur's breakfast on the table. "What do you mean? I'm not late that often." Arthur gave him an incredulous look. "All right…so maybe I am." In truth, Merlin had woken up early with a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, and he had no idea why. It was as if someone was calling out to him, but he heard nothing.
"Honestly Merlin, sometimes I wonder why I keep you around."
"I was on time today!" Merlin pointed out in irritation.
"Yes, one time out of a hundred. You're improving," he said sarcastically. Merlin ignored him and moved to make up the bed as Arthur sat down to eat his breakfast.
"So tell me, why grace me with your punctuality this morning?" Arthur asked between bites. "Didn't you sleep last night?"
Merlin paused for but a moment, debating how much truth to give away. He wasn't even sure what had woken him, whether it was magical or not. "Just happened to wake up a bit early, that's all," he answered, knowing it would be good enough for the prince. And besides, it wasn't even a lie. "Did you sleep well, Arthur?"
"Slept like a prince in a royal palace," he said with a smirk. Merlin couldn't help but roll his eyes as he moved from the bed to the wardrobe, picking out Arthur's clothes. When Arthur finished his breakfast, he moved into position to be dressed for the day. "I'll be training with the knights this morning, by the way. And when I return we'll go on a brief hunting trip. So use the time I'm gone to get things ready."
Merlin suppressed a groan. He hated hunting trips. At least this one wasn't overnight. "Do we have to?" he nearly wined.
It was Arthur's turn to roll his eyes. "Merlin, a proper servant would say 'Yes Sire,' and get on with it."
Merlin sighed but didn't reply.
Arthur frowned at the lack of response. "Well aren't you bright and cheerful this morning."
Maybe it would do Merin good though. Maybe getting away from the castle for a day would help this gnawing feeling go away. When he was done helping Arthur he picked up the discarded clothes from the morning and the night before and tossed them into a basket.
As Merlin left with the laundry, Arthur turned to pick up his sword.
The door opened again. Arthur rolled his eyes without turning around. "Forget something again, Merlin?" Honestly, that boy was a hopeless servant.
"Not exactly," a deep, unfamiliar voice answered. Arthur spun around, drawing his sword in an instant.
"Who are you?"
The man didn't answer, but outstretched his hand towards the prince. "Quiesco." Immediately Arthur felt his eyes droop. He didn't remember hitting the floor.
Merlin shifted the basket into a more comfortable position and opened the door. "Arthur?" he called, but the prince wasn't there. He must still be training with the knights, which didn't really surprise him. Sometimes those training sessions took no time at all, others went much longer than Arthur anticipated. He set the basket down and started putting the clean clothes away.
Merlin stopped and looked around the room. Something wasn't right. Then he saw it. Arthur's sword was on the ground. He wouldn't have gone to training without his sword.
Maybe…they were training with maces, Merlin thought unsurely. But he still would have taken his sword. He always took his sword. And the sword wouldn't be lying unsheathed even if he had left it behind intentionally.
Merlin walked over and picked up the sword. When he turned it over, his blood ran cold.
It was etched into the blade. Merlin starred at it for a long moment, contemplating what it could mean, and realizing it was nothing good for Arthur. Emrys. Only the druids ever called him that. Whoever had done this must be a sorcerer.
Merlin knew something had been off that morning. Maybe someone really had been calling him. But someone who knew who he was and his connection to Arthur? The sword was a clear enough message. Whoever did this wasn't after the prince.
Candun smiled when he felt Emrys call out to him. Candun had been subtle that morning, not wanting to warn the sorcerer to keep his guard up. But at last Emrys had felt his touch for what it was and responded. Which means he must have found the sword. In truth, Candun didn't know just who Emrys was. All he knew was that the sorcerer was in the palace somewhere, a silent guardian to Prince Arthur.
Hello Emrys, he said silently.
Who are you? The man wasted no time, Candun thought to himself with satisfaction. His mind-voice was cold as ice, and determined. Candun knew instantly that this man—whoever it was—would kill to protect the prince he had just kidnapped.
You need not concern yourself with that.
What do you want with me?
To meet you. The word is that you're among the most powerful sorcerers to live. I'm something of a fan, I suppose you could say. He could feel Emrys's tension increase.
Very well, he answered at last. Return Arthur safely to his chambers, and I will come find you.
Oh, but how do I know you'd make good on your word? No. I think I'll hold on to the prince for the time being. You need not worry, he is safe for now. And if you come, he will remain that way.
There was a silence before Emrys responded. Very well. Where are you?
An hour before sunset, head directly north from Camelot, straight into the tree line. You should reach me after approximately thirty minutes walking.
With that the connection broke, and Candun smiled.