(**AUTHOR NOTE: This is the roughest draft EVER, so, please don't point out the many errors. My beta reader is going to fix all nice and pretty when it is complete. So, until then, please, don't send flames based on wording choices, spelling, etc. If you're a grammar nazi then just wait until it is complete...otherwise, enjoy. :). Thanks for reading, you rock!)
For the love of GOD, Sam, put the fucking knife down and stop posturing. Bravado won't do you any good against those obviously well-used swords. These men are not playing around so PUT THE KNIFE DOWN, RIGHT NOW!
"Sa-am," the single word of warning expresses all this as Dean Winchester pushes himself off the damp ground.
Sam Winchester, younger of the two brothers, hesitates a moment longer and then lets his large hunting knife fall to the forest floor where it is swallowed up by the brush. He holds his hands up over his head and waits.
"Are you magic?" a stocky man with a trucker beard and chain mail shirt asks with a tone both commanding and deep. "You are trespassing on the King's land and magic is forbidden here."
Dean's eyebrows raised and he could feel the start of his patented "shit-eater" grin starting to form.
"King?" Sam asked, his voice holding only confusion.
"Uther, King of Camelot."
"Camelot? Alright, cupcake...it's obvious that you and your little friends need to quit the D-and-D, A-S-A-P."
The swords suddenly made a lot more sense. What had those Supernatural groupies called it, Dean wracked his brain, oh, yes, LARPING. The armor and weaponry looked authentic, but that was just a theatricality, Dean was sure of that now. What other explanation could there be?
Castiel had obviously transported them to a damn medieval convention, that was all. Sam's shoulders relaxed as he came to the same conclusion.
"Your words mean nothing to me! Answer the question I have given you or die," the soldier-man shook his sword as if to give weight to his words, "are you magic?"
Dean chuckled, his breath forming into a cloud. "Really? The sissy British accent and everything – seriously?" the elder Winchester shook his head.
"Silence! You are magic and therefore, under the laws of Camelot and our King, you must both be put to death."
There was a murmur of agreement from the dozen other soldiers and they began to close in on the brothers with drawn swords. It was their expressions, angry and hateful, that caused doubt to bubble up inside Dean.
Sam, I think maybe we might possibly be in a little bit of, well, trouble. Um. run!
The second the word was past his gritted teeth, both men turned and sprinted into the forest away from the soldiers. Dean felt his breath burn in his lungs, but he ignored it and kept running. He heard nothing except the fast, loud beat of his heart and the sound of his over-sized brother smashing through the forest somewhere to his left. He wondered briefly where Castiel had disappeared to and why he had chosen to transport them to such an awful place. Dean hated forests.
We can't keep doing this for much longer...Do you think they are still following us?
"Sam?" the question was a bit breathless.
"Not sure," Sam's answer came between gasps, "but I'm not going to stop to find out."
Exhaustion pulled at Dean's body, his knees and legs aching, but he had grown used to ignoring it. Being on the run from imminent peril was a daily event for the Winchester brothers. They did not hear anything of their pursuers, but that did not mean a thing if the damn LARPERS were shifters or something worse.
It was another good twenty minutes before they slowed to an even jog, taking in their new surroundings more carefully. The forest had opened up into a slanted plain of waist high grass. In the distance they could see the towers of a castle.
"My, God," Dean cursed in disbelief as he stared at the stone workings peeking over the tree tops, "Sammy, I think Castiel's internal GPS was a little off the mark."
"No shit," Sam responded, blinking at the sight.
When they got closer to the castle and they could see the tall walls, they began to hear the bustle of movement within. Voices, muffled by distance, accompanied by the sound of animals mulling. They had yet to meet anyone on the overgrown path they had found and begun to follow.
"I feel like that fricking Disney pixie," Dean muttered angrily, hiding his growing fear.
Sam's eyebrows shot up and he glanced over his shoulder at his brother. "Tinkerbell?"
Dean's head moved to one side and his green eyes glared. "Shut up."
Sam smirked, holding his hands up in the air. "Hey, you said it...Tinkerbell."
Sam, this is totally not Kansas and if Cas doesn't get his ass over here and zap us home then I think we might have a problem.
"Sam..." there was a small sigh at the end of the word.
"I know," all playfulness was gone from Sam's smile.
The two brothers, one with short cropped blond hair and a no-nonsense attitude, the other tall and dark haired with broad shoulders and demon blood, walked towards their destiny. Camelot.
Merlin frowned. Something had changed in the city and he could feel it. His arms tingled with magical warning. It was not uncommon for the young warlock to feel the oncoming source of evil before it struck at Arthur or the land.
A loud thunk filled the air and Merlin found his breath pushed out of his body and he fell to the ground, catching himself on all fours. The heavy shield on his back felt like it weighed a ton and Merlin waited patiently for Prince Arthur to pull out the spear that had hit its mark.
"For the hundredth time, Merlin – bob, weave, MOVE!" the prince sounded frustrated.
"Yes, sire. Sorry," Merlin gave the expected apologies.
"What is your problem this time? Another row with Gaius?" Arthur asks, squinting up at the sky.
Merlin pushes himself off the ground, wiping the dirt off his hands onto his leggings. "No."
"Well, then what?" Arthur presses.
"Nothing, I'm sorry." Merlin smiles, but it doesn't reach his eyes. "I'll do better, sire."
Bored with trying to cheer up the servant, Arthur shrugs and walks away, tossing the spear into the air and catching in a practiced movement. The prince doesn't like to appear to treat Merlin as a favorite, but in so many ways the large eared nobody was a type of mirror image of the blond prince. Arthur always felt uncomfortable when he thought about it. After all, Merlin was a blooming idiot...most of the time. Then there were those moments of such wise clarity when Merlin might well have been of royal blood. Arthur never knew what to expect from his manservant.
"Ready, sire," the source of Arthur's musings called from down the field.
The prince grinned, already forgetting his thoughts in anticipation of a good workout. He needed to keep in shape if the people were to trust him with their lives.
"Sire! Arthur!" a gasping knight ran into the training yard with arm raised.
Arthur immediately went to the man's side, "is everything alright?"
The knight shook his head, "No, sire. Magic."
Arthur's spine tingled at the dreaded word.
"Magic is in the kingdom...we believe to have found sorcerers."
Merlin had followed Arthur's approach and just caught the tail end of the knight's exclamations.
"Magic, are you sure?" Arthur asked.
He needed to know without a doubt that there was true reason for alarm before informing the King. Uther was blind to all things magic and Arthur hated to see his King so shuttered and biased. He had to be certain.
"We are mostly certain, sire...there could be no other explanation."
With a nod of his head, his lips pursing in distress, the prince put a hand on his knight's shoulder.
"Tell me everything."
Magic again, Gaius, when will it end? Will Camalot ever be free of the consequences of Uther's harsh actions? When will it stop? The fighting...the pain.
When he walked into the room all Merlin said was one word, "Arthur."
Gaius nodded his head in full understanding of what was not said, a sad glint in his eyes or perhaps that was only a trick of the candle light. The old man walked to the boy's side and pulled him into a rare hug.
"You are strong, Merlin, and I believe that you will make Arthur into a better King – the King that Camelot deserves...and needs." Gaius pulled back, leaving his hands on Merlin's shoulders. "But, I am afraid, it will be a long journey to freedom for all."
Merlin hung his head, his chin wrinkling as he held tears at bay. "I know that," his voice was thick with pent up emotion.
"Oh, Merlin," Gaius shook his head, patted the shoulders for a moment and then turned to pace across the room.
"Two men appeared in the forest just outside of town. There were knights there, they witnessed it. Apparently there was a blinding flash of light and then two men where moments before there were none. What do you make of it?"
Gaius raised an eyebrow impossibly high. "Blinding light?"
"Yes." Merlin nodded.
"Hm." Gaius moved to one of his many piles of old books and manuscripts, digging through it. "Hm."
You know something and you aren't going to tell me, are you, not until you're a thousand-and-ten percent certain it is fact...precious science. Arthur's life is at stake!
"Gaius?" Merlin's head cocked to one side, a single black eyebrow raised.
"I have to research this a bit more. You should stay with Arthur. If they are indeed sorcerers then the King and his son might be in grave danger," the old man let his face soften into a reassuring smile, "as soon as I know something helpful, I will tell you."
The boy nodded his head, still a bit peeved that his mentor had to be so procedural about everything. The ancient magic stirring in his bones left Merlin on edge and all he wanted was some kind of reassurance that Arthur's life was not in danger...not again. Not so soon.
He must be the worst servant in history, because every time he turned around a sorcerer or a rival King or someone else was trying to kill Arthur. A good servant – especially one as magical as Merlin – should be able to do something about it. Instead, the black haired boy must wait for Gaius to confide in him.
Sammy, if you don't shut up I'm going to throw a rock at your head...a big rock. Theorizing about what might or might not have happened is useless until we find Cas. He's our heavenly answer man.
"Sam," the word came out in a growl.
The dark haired Winchester closed his mouth mid-word with a sharp clack of teeth.
"Sorry," Sam apologized with a half-shrug.
"Yeah, well, whatever," Dean dismissed his brother's previous ramblings with a flick of his wrist.
They had decided to walk around the wall and seek a smaller, more discreet entrance rather than try to mingle with the men and women they had seen entering through the main gates. It was all a bit surreal for the brothers and Sam was on the fence about whether to have a melt-down-freak-out or pretend it was just another messed up day. After some soul searching, he chose the latter.
"So, what are we going to do once we get inside? You heard that dude - they kill magical people around here and, apparently, we look 'the type'." Sam used air quotes around the last two words.
"Sam, don't." Dean shakes his head.
Rolling his eyes, the younger man pushed past his brother, studying the wall for any openings.
"This is useless. We'll have to use the main gates and just...disguise ourselves or something," Sam said, throwing his hands up in exasperation.
Dude, you're, like, eight feet tall and wearing second hand Carhartt's. Somehow I think you might make a bit of an impression...then there's me. So, seriously?...We should keep looking a while longer.
"Hm." all expressed in a throaty sound of unease.
"Cas would have come by now if he could have," Sam voiced Dean's fear matter-of-factly.
"Yeah..." Dean shook his head. "Listen, Sammy, if – and I mean IF – we don't find Cas, we'll deal with it."
"What if he's dead?"
Sam let his large palm rest flat against the stone wall, he was surprised by how warm it felt. The sun must have recently been resting on it...but the golden orb is falling now and the day is coming to a slow end.
"If he got himself killed and us stuck here then he better hide that saintly little ass of his because I'm going to find him and when I do – what was that?" Dean whirled towards a outcropping several hundred yards away. He heard giggling.
Sam's hand strayed to his belt where a handgun was tucked safely into his jeans under the shirt. Dean held up a hand and the younger Winchester waited.
"It sounds like kids," Dean whispered.
"So..what now?" Sam whispered back with a flick his head that dislodged his long bangs from his eyes, "we should wait for them to pass by."
No shit, Sherlock! I'm glad you're around to hold my hand or else I would have never known how to deal with a couple of snot-nosed midgets. You idjit.
Dean rolled his eyes and Sam caught the expression with a frown not appreciating the unspoken sentiment. The brothers began to back towards the wall where they crouched down behind a large fern, Sam's brown hair sticking up over the greenery. It only took a few more moments for the children to show themselves, walking together in a group of three – two boys and a smaller girl – they were laughing and talking in high little voices.
Dean dares Sam to so much as twitch in response to his unexpected, and frankly uncharacteristic, comment. Something had changed inside Dean after his time with Lisa and Ben. Humans younger than ten were no longer the horrific, possibly homicidal monsters that he had always assumed. They weren't idiots either. Just young and innocent and...fucking adorable.
It looked as if one of the boys had caught a ground squirrel and they were hurrying towards the wall with excited grins.
"Wait until my father sees!" the boy said with a proud smile, "mom can make it for dinner!"
"Make it for dinner!" the little girl repeats, her words slightly slurred as she works hard to form the sounds, her hands are clapping together in anticipation.
Dean Winchester cannot help the ear to ear smile that stretches across his face at the interaction. At his side Sam is looking a bit confused.
Dude, you're getting a bit girly there...might want to reign it in.
"Um, Dean?" Sam asks.
Dean glares up at his younger brother and hissed in an fond tone, "bitch."
Sam smirks, "jerk," he mutters back the familiar reply.
The children traveled away from the brothers, following the wall and chattering to each other until their voices faded away. The Winchester's stood up from behind the fern, staring at the way they wanted to go – where the children had gone. There was nothing for it, they would have to turn back or face running into the children again. They were lucky to have escaped notice the first time.
"We need to turn back...we'll think of something to fool those guards at the gate," Sam said.
"You can dress like a woman," Dean suggested straight faced, "we can get you a nice dress and veil."
"Dean...I can kill you with my mind," Sam exaggerated his power with an upward pull of his lips.
Dean leaned his head back and laughed loudly into the air. "You can't touch this," he motioned at his body with a flap of the wrist.
"Like I'd want to." Sam snorted.
They continued their walk back towards the main gate letting their banter push away the fears and uncertainty. Dean was still finding it hard to believe that they might have actually been transported back to the days of castle's and...dragons. He ran a hand through his short cropped blond hair and focused on the moment.
Uther stood beside his thrown a concerned expression furrowing his brow. The soldier that had lead the party against the Winchester's stood in the middle of the room.
"Sorcery? You are certain?" Uther asked.
The soldier nodded his head, mouth moving for several second before a nervous retelling of the story passed his trembling lips. He knew that the King was notorious for being heartless when it came to executing those suspected of magic.
"We lost them in the woods near the North gate."
Uther nodded, stroking his chin as he thought of everything he had just learned. Arthur and his manservant, Merlin, were waiting patiently for the order everyone knew was coming. Uther hesitated a moment longer. He knew that his son was the most competent member of his knight's, but he was loath to put his heir in danger. Then Uther made the only decision he could in the circumstances.
"Arthur, take your men out and find these sorcerers. If the allegations are true they must be brought to justice."
Arthur bowed his head, eyes lowered. "Yes, father."
And, please, remember to be careful. You are my son and heir to the throne, so, let your men take the risks. . .I know you won't listen to me, but, please, at least try to be cautious.
"Son," Uther dismissed them with a nod of his head.
Arthur heard the words his father had not spoken aloud. He knew in his bones that his father saw him as the most prized possession Camelot housed. The Prince frowned, turned on his heel and together with Merlin exited the room. Uther's concern was touching, but Arthur was never completely sure of its motivation. Is the worry held by the father of a boy or the King of the land? Arthur is afraid to learn the answer so he never asks.
Walking out of the throne room, the two young men make their way through the halls. Once they reach the great doors that lead out of the castle, Arthur stops.
"Ready the horses, Merlin, and inform Gaius that you will be accompanying me for an extended period of time," saying that, the Prince continues towards his quarters.
"Yes, sire," Merlin responds even though the other boy is out of hearing range.
With a sigh the warlock skips down the stone stairs and jogs towards the stables. His heart pounds a little too loudly and a feeling of nausea will not release him. Merlin knows what will happen to the "sorcerers" if they are caught – he has seen one too many executions – and he will do whatever it takes to keep it from happening.
Gaius read down the page, his finger trailing down the lines of ornate texts. The book was title The Paths of Angels. It was a copy of Sir McCormick's personal journal, a man who claimed interactions with angelic beings. Bright flashes of pure white light was linked to the immediate transportation of a person from one place to another – a type of natural, archaic magic that transcended the planet. Gaius looked up then, his gaze unfocused, and knew that Merlin needed to be told.
Angels had returned to Camelot.
"Angels?...Are you sure?"
"As certain as I can be given the information at hand."
There was a soft sigh of acceptance, "alright. I need to tell Arthur."
Merlin felt a smile stretch across his face, it was fueled by nerves and anxiety and he hated it.
"Angels?" Arthur asked in disbelief, his blue eyes wide, eyebrows raised.
"Angels?" the Prince repeated dumbfounded, "are you sure?"
Merlin's back tingled at the feeling of Deja'vu that settled over him. He understood how odd this must sound, having felt he same way only an hour earlier when Gaius had told him the truth about the light.
"As certain as I can be...given the information at hand," Merlin parroted his mentor's response.
Arthur's mouth fell open in an unattractive 'O' of disbelief.
"They are not magical...they are beyond magic." Merlin pressed, hoping that he could keep the strangers alive when they were found by Arthur's knights. "They are not a threat to Camelot."
Arthur's mouth fell closed with a shark clack. "I don't believe that for a second," the Prince replied, suspicion underwriting every word. Without another word the Prince stood and walked out of his quarters.
Merlin sighed and shouldered his master heavy pack before following Arthur out of the room.
You look like a fucking idiot, Sammy...So, you look the same as always. Let's get going before I actually think about this plan and realize how screwed up it is. We are going to die.
"This dress smells funny," Dean said with a frown.
"Actually, I think it's called a 'robe', Dean," Sam replied with equal disgust.
"Dress, robe – whatever – it still smells like a small animal's plaything."
Sam scrunches his eyes closed, mentally forcing himself not to get too 'gutter-brained' when it came to his brother's random comments. He is unsuccessful.
"Sa-a-m." Dean let the word drag out. "Focus."
Sam sighs and brushes his bangs out of his eyes, looking down at the robe he had stolen from an unguarded wagon. Dean is wearing one too, the bottom of his jeans peeking out. Sam shifts awkwardly, his shoulders are broader than those of the original wearer. With nothing left to lose they exchange a "this can only end badly, but we're doing it anyway" look and then walk towards the castle's main entrance.
There are soldier in chain mail armor and red shirts, four at the gate and seven visible on the ramparts above, they all hold crude and deadly weapons.
"Just act natural," Dean mutters out of the corner of his mouth.
Sam give a curt nod.
They walk at an even pace, trying not to catch anyone's eye or appear to be avoiding gazes. Nonchalance is the key to sneaking into a castle undetected, Dean tells himself as way to calm his racing heart. A guard looks their way, staring long enough for Sam's hand to inch towards his belt where the gun is hidden even though he cannot reach it through the fabric of the black robe.
The guard looks away again, uninterested and both brothers breath a sigh of relief. Once inside they steal off to the left where fewer people seem to be gathered.
"We need a game plan," Dean whispers.
Sam gives his brother a disbelieving look. "I thought getting in here was the game plan."
C'mon, bro, give me some help here...you're the – god help me, I have to actually admit it – thinker around here. So, start thinking. Use those super-duper, hyped up brain cells to wizard us a way out of here.
"Sam," the blond haired man drawled expectantly.
The dark haired brother rolled his eyes and shook his head in frustration. "I should've known you would leave this all on me. This is so you can blame me when we get caught isn't it."
Dean smirked, "would I ever do that?"
Dean gasped theatrically and put a hand to his heart, "I'm hurt, Sam. Hurt."
Sam reached out and shoved his brother with a smarting smack to the shoulder. There were frantic calls from somewhere up the square and then two horses approached at a fast walk. Two men were leaving and one of them wore a shinning set of armor complete with helmet and the other wore a scruffy pair of pants, socks pulled out over his boots in a geeky fashion and a brown over-coat that partially hid a blue bandana wrapped around the boy's neck. The Winchester's backed into a nearby doorway, letting the shadows conceal them.
"The Prince is going out, it must be something important," a woman said loudly to her friend.
"The Prince!" Dean hissed in surprise.
The second rider, the Raggedy Ann one, jerked his head in their direction and stared in a rather disconcerting manner, but did not stop. Within a moment the riders had disappeared through the gate and out past the drawbridge.
Sam and Dean exchanged their all too often used "I think we almost got caught...didn't we" look. They eased out of the doorway and then started walking, heads lowered, towards the outskirts of the marketplace where they hoped to find an inn or some way to get information.
"Make way! Make way!" The deep, booming voice drew the boys attention.
A small group of men dressed as knights were pushing their way through the center isle of the market, two of them were carrying a man. Dean felt his heart come to a cold stop when he caught sight of Castiel's trademark beige coat – it was splashed with blood droplets and Dean could only hope they were not from the angel's host.
"C'mon, Sam," Dean said urgently, never taking his eyes off Castiel's still form.
The brothers followed at a safe distance, they were experts at tailing supernatural creatures and after that kind of life-long training it was no problem for them to sneak around the compound until they see the knights disappear down a hall inside the castle – they are watching through the open windows.
"Great," Dean grumbled.
Sam breathed in a deep sigh. "Well, at least we know where Cas is...that's good."
Dean let his head bang gently against the stone window frame. "They left guards, Sammy. I know we can take them, but if an alarm goes up we'll be smoked for sure."
"Then lets hope they don't send up an alarm," Sam says reasonably.
Alright, let's do this, but if we get caught this is still all your fault. . .so, there.
Sam frowned. "I knew you were going to blame me! This is totally not my fault."
Dean doesn't say anything, pushing away from the wall he leads the way towards a nearby side-door. The elder Winchester walks with a predatory stalk that comes naturally to him, but Sam almost giggles at the sight of his brother trying to sneak in a robe. The stalk doesn't look nearly as intimidating as it must feel for Dean.
They enter the castle ready for battle, hands on guns.
Uther sits on his throne, looking at the knight that had just reported finding a man in the forest.
"He is not one of the two seen to appear. Perhaps he was injured by the sorcerers...when he awakens maybe he can tell us more about them."
"Until then keep your men on high alert. I will not lose another of my people to the evil of sorcery."
The knight bowed low, hand on his sword hilt, "yes, sire."
Gaius looked down at the man in his care. The clothes were like nothing the physician had ever seen, their fabric and color were spectacular and a little worrying. He sincerely doubted that this was the angel, but at the same time there was no other conclusion the old man could reach.
The man was in a deep sleep, possibly even a coma, and there would be no answers from him for at least a couple of days. There was a quiet commotion outside the doors where the knights were posted sentry, Gaius straightened with a frown and walked towards the door ready to give the knight's an earful. His patient needed peace and quiet if he was to recover.
The door burst open and two men entered, they each held a strange black item in their hands which became focused on Gaius in a moment. The white haired man held up his hands to show that he was not a threat.
"Who are you?" The shorter, blond haired man asked.
Gaius felt his left eyebrow raise high at the strange accent of the man, he was obviously not from around Camelot. The physician motioned towards the motionless man on the bed.
"My name is Gaius, I am the court physician and I was looking after this man's injuries before you two broke down my door," he glared then.
Merlin would have to fix the blasted door and the poor boy already had enough on his plate without having to worry about that. Assuming he returned from the forest unharmed, there were many dangers out there and Merlin seemed to attract danger as a matter of course.
"Gaius?" the taller man asked, moving forward so that he was beside the bed, "how is he?"
"Sam, how do you think he is?" Dean's question was snarky. "Last time he expended that much energy moving us he almost died and lost his powers for over a week."
"Ye-ah," Sam drew out the word as he remembered.
Gaius felt a stab of fear, his gaze instantly going to the sleeping man. So, it was the angel after all. The man had short dark hair, just visible stubble on his chin and upper lip and a stern expression, even in sleep. Gaius hoped that the King did not find out about the angel or the two men currently invading the physicians rooms.
"You must get out of here. The guards will be missed and then...The King has outlawed the use of magic for any reason."
"Yeah, we heard."
"And not that we don't agree – trust me, we'd like to see a good witch burning as much as the next person – but we really don't belong here," Dean said in earnest.
Gaius' expression turned sour. "Indeed."
The boys put their guns away, hidden out of sight, and turned their attention on Castiel. The angel looked like he had only minor injuries. A few scratches on his face were bright red and looked infected.
"Raphael must have gotten to him...it must have been that light that hit us...it sent us back...It -" Sam stopped formulating his thoughts aloud as he silently worked through the last thing remembered before being thrown violently into the forest. "We must have gone back in time – a long ways."
Dean felt his stomach clench at the news. He had not given up hope that it was all some elaborate, crazy-ass medieval colony in the middle of freaking nowhere that they had inadvertently stumbled across. To know that they were instead hundreds, if not thousands, of years away from everything they knew...He had trouble wrapping his head around it all.
We are going to die here, a million years from home, and there is nothing that I can do to stop it. Our only hope – our fucking Obi-wan Kenobi – is in a coma and probably wont have his powers when he wakes up. We are so screwed.
"Great. For a minute there I thought we were in a Shymalan film – thank god for small favors," he tries to keep the devastation out of his voice for Sam's sake.
Merlin rode behind Arthur as they got further and further into the woods surrounding the castle. So far there had been no sign of any living creature, much less two renegade sorcerers.
"It is too quiet," Prince Arthur notices with an upraised chin, "not a good sign."
Merlin could only nod in silent agreement.