A/N: Before anything else, I just want to quickly apologize for the looooong wait for this update. DX I've been busy, I had writer's block, I lost inspiration for a couple weeks...
But then I saw the trailer for series 4 that some lucky person recorded at the Comic Con panel and my inspiration was TOTALLY back. :D Oh my goodness, I am soooo excited for series 4! Mostly injured!Merlin and worried!Arthur working to save him! Eeee heeee!
*clears throat* Anyway... I hope you enjoy this chapter. XD
The clearing was silent as Merlin and Nimueh stared into each other's eyes. Arthur's eyes were wide; he recognized the woman in the mirror to be the woman who had left him to die while on his quest for a cure to a poison which Merlin had drank. The prince was more confused in that moment than he thought he'd ever been in his life.
"I'm amazed you actually got him here," Nimueh said, glancing at Kadwyn. Her eyes flickered briefly towards the trees. "And why on earth is Prince Arthur of Camelot here?"
"He came after us in an attempt to save his precious servant," Kadwyn replied, a slight sneer in his voice. "The sorcerer knows that if he makes one wrong move, his prince's life will be gone in an instant."
"That is not a very good way to keep a sorcerer in line," Nimueh scolded, looking at Kadwyn again. "But enough of that. You know what to do now, don't you?"
"Nimueh," Merlin finally spoke up, looking up at the witch in the mirror. The beautiful woman turned her gaze down to the warlock and gave him a smile.
"Is there something you need, Merlin?" she asked him.
"What did you have them bring me here for?" Merlin said straight-forward, staring into the witch's bright blue eyes. His question only made her smile grow.
"Well now, why don't I just show you?" Nimueh said to him. Before Merlin could speak again, Kadwyn was behind him, cutting his hands free. Merlin's initial instinct was to attack and try to get away from the man, but he caught a glimpse of Arthur and did nothing as the rope fell from his wrists. He wanted to slap himself for being so afraid to use his magic; even if it was in front of Arthur, he would be using his magic to save the prince's life. Surely that would make some sort of impact on Arthur's decision on whether or not to turn Merlin into his father… wouldn't it?
Kadwyn pulled Merlin's right hand forward and held it over the gleaming silver goblet. Merlin stared at the cup before him, and then suddenly was struck full-on by an invisible force, strong enough to throw his head back and make his muscles tense up. A loud ring screeched through his head, just as it had the day before, when Oliver was leading his horse towards the camp, only stronger. Merlin didn't notice it, but Nimueh smiled once again at the young warlock's situation. Kadwyn, on the other hand, took a handful of Merlin's hair and yanked him forward, only causing the pain within the man's head to worsen.
"I told you-" Kadwyn began.
"Do not worry, Kadwyn," Nimueh cut him off. "Merlin is merely sensing the Cup's power." As if on some sort of cue, as soon as the words left Nimueh's mouth the ringing in Merlin's head disappeared and he once again felt back to his normal self. His eyes widened, though, and moved back up to meet Nimueh's once again.
"The… Cup?" he questioned.
"Yes, Merlin, the cup before you is none other than the Cup of Life itself. You didn't really think that it was just some measly old goblet from a tavern, did you?"
"How the hell did you manage to get the Cup of Life?" Merlin asked incredulously. "You're dead!" Nimueh's smile faltered.
"But I'm not," Kadwyn said, smacking Merlin across the head. "Damn Cup was bloody difficult to get our hands on, but we did it. And it's none of your little filthy business how we managed to."
"Enough," Nimueh hissed. "Kadwyn, do it now."
The dark-haired man once again took Merlin's right arm and held his hand over the Cup. After sliding a wavy dagger out of his belt, Kadwyn held the dirty blade up to Merlin's open palm, and both Arthur and Morgana knitted their eyebrows together in confusion. Without even a moment of hesitation, Kadwyn sliced the dagger across Merlin's palm and blood instantly rose to the surface. Merlin cringed in pain and instinctively tried to draw his arm back into his body, but Kadwyn held it out over the Cup, squeezing the blood out of the wound. The sticky red liquid slid quickly down Merlin's hand, as there was so much of it, and dripped into the waiting silver Cup below it.
"Mae hyn yn gwaed wedi cael ei gwenwyno gan yr one yn y drych. Gadewch y gwaed yn dod â bywyd yn ôl i mewn i'r un sydd wedi gwenwyno mae'n," Kadwyn chanted as the blood fell into the goblet. When only a few drops had landed inside the Cup, the leather-clad man's eyes briefly flashed gold, and a gold light erupted from within the Cup. Merlin immediately grabbed his neckerchief, which Kadwyn had tossed carelessly on the ground, and wrapped it around his right hand as the mirror also began to glow a bright gold.
From behind her tree, Morgana could barely believe her eyes. If her nightmares were anything to go off of, these people would not be any sort of good news to Merlin or Arthur. And the sheer amount of power Morgana could feel emanating from the brightly glowing mirror confirmed her fears even more. She still wasn't completely sure why she was so worried about the prince and his servant, but she hardly cared anymore.
Merlin's arm was up, shielding his eyes from the bright golden glow of the mirror, and it took him a slow second to lower his arm enough to see when the golden light had vanished. His blue eyes widened immediately as they travelled up her body, now completely real and alive. Nimueh was no longer trapped within the mirror, and she now stood before the kneeling warlock with her eyes closed and her face turned up towards the sky. Her arms were spread out to her sides and a smile was on her face as she felt the wind whisper through her dark brunette hair.
"Aahh," she sighed, clenching her pale hands into fists. Merlin's arm was now down to his side as he stared up at her, awed at how a few drops of his blood had brought her out of that mirror. "It feels… so… good," the witch said, snapping her brilliantly bright blue eyes open. She turned her head down towards Merlin, still smiling, and lowered her arms to her sides. "Hello Merlin," she said to him again, in exactly the same tone she had when she had first revealed herself to the warlock inside the mirror.
"My lady," Kadwyn also repeated, dipping his head in slight respect. Nimueh turned her gaze away from Merlin and rested it upon Kadwyn just as the man looked back up at her.
"You were of much help to me, Kadwyn," the witch said to him. "I am very grateful."
When it was clear that Nimueh wasn't going to say anything more, Kadwyn cleared his throat and took a step towards her. "Where's my pay?" he demanded, staring intently at her. Nimueh chuckled quietly.
"Ah yes, I did promise you something in return, did I not?" she said, looking directly into Kadwyn's dark eyes. "I suppose now is as perfect a time as any to give you what you rightfully deserve." Kadwyn caught onto the hidden meaning within her words almost instantly, and snapped her arm up towards one of the swords on his back. Nimueh smirked at him, and only one short word slipped past her lips. Her eyes flashed gold and out of nowhere a bolt of lightning shot through the air, tearing right through Kadwyn's unprotected chest. Merlin flinched subconsciously at the sound of the impact, and watched as Kadwyn's body fell to the ground.
"I really must thank you, Merlin, for giving your blood to this cause," Nimueh said, turning her amused gaze back to the warlock.
"I didn't give my blood, it was taken from me by force," Merlin argued, staring angrily up into the witch's eyes.
"Details, details," Nimueh sighed, waving her hand dismissively.
"You killed him," Oliver said, having left his station near Arthur and walked angrily over to the mirror. "You killed my master!" Nimueh turned her eyes over onto the young man.
"Yes, that I did," she responded flatly. "And unless you'd like to be next, I suggest you use those sticks you call legs and run from here as fast as you can."
"I'm not afraid of you," Oliver stated, raising his hands. Nimueh smirked, silently accepting his challenge.
"So be it," she merely said. Merlin looked from Nimueh to Oliver, his eyes wide.
"Oliver, no!" Merlin cried out, jumping at him just as Nimueh's lips began to move and her eyes glowed. The young warlock tackled Oliver to the ground, just barely pushing him out of the way of the coming bolt of lightning. When Merlin became fully aware of his actions, his eyes widened further in surprise. Oliver's wide eyes looked up to meet Merlin's, and they merely stared at each other in shock for a short moment.
"Well, well, what do we have here?" Nimueh questioned, amused once again. Merlin looked up at Nimueh briefly before looking back at Oliver.
"You need to run," he hissed quietly to the cloaked man, who didn't respond. Without waiting for any sort of reply, Merlin pushed himself to his feet and turned to face Nimueh again. "Leave him alone, it's me you want," the warlock said to her. Nimueh laughed.
"Your part has been played, Merlin, I no longer need you," she simply said. "I just want some fun…"
Without any sort of warning, Nimueh threw her hand out and launched a spell at Oliver, who was now on his feet. Merlin was quick to react, rushing forward and grabbing Nimueh's outstretched hand. He turned her arm to the side, causing her to shoot her spell off-target. Merlin turned back to Oliver, Nimueh's arm still in his grasp.
"Run!" he yelled. Oliver stared at him, completely still. "RUN!" Merlin screamed. For some reason, the way Merlin said it that time made Oliver's legs finally respond. The man turned and hurried through the wall of trees, running right past the tree where Arthur was still bound. The prince was struggling with all his might to free himself now that he saw the danger that Merlin and himself were in.
Nimueh threw Merlin off of her arm and back to the ground with the help of a spell, and Merlin bit his lip when his ankle throbbed painfully. She held her arm down towards where Merlin landed and she muttered a spell. Merlin was barely able to dodge the red ball of energy that was shot from the witch's hand, and when he looked again, the grass where he had just been was burnt to a crisp. Nimueh uttered another spell and attempted to kill Merlin again, but the warlock rolled out of the way once again.
Morgana desperately wanted to run out from the trees and help Merlin, but she knew that she couldn't and that she shouldn't. She shouldn't even be there watching the events unfold before her very eyes. In a way, she was just as restricted as the prince at that moment.
When Arthur crossed her mind, she turned her eyes over to where the prince was vainly tearing against the chains that strapped him to the tree. Morgana smiled – she may not be able to help Merlin, but Arthur sure could. But she couldn't go over there and free him… she would definitely be seen by him. She once again felt completely helpless, and anger coursed through her veins. She had to help them… she couldn't help them… Morgause wouldn't want her to help them… Merlin had poisoned her… they all hated her kind and would soon see her dead because of her magical ability… but Merlin wouldn't, would he? He had helped her in the beginning when she was first having troubles… but he had poisoned her! He had been ready to kill her himself!
So many emotions and conflicting thought processes crashed together within her, and she wasn't even aware of the magic that she released until it already had been. Morgana's irises flashed a bright gold and, out of nowhere, the chains binding Arthur to the tree also flashed gold before disintegrating. The rope that bound his wrists behind the trunk also disappeared, and the prince pulled his arms out in front of himself in shock. Morgana gasped in shock at what she had just done – she hadn't spoken any sort of spell or even been aware that she was using magic, and yet, the prince was free from his restraints. Without waiting another moment, Morgana turned and ran back through the trees in the direction she had come from. Tears were racing down her cheeks as she ran, but she didn't care to wipe them away.
Not wasting a second, Arthur picked up his sword, which Oliver had dropped on the ground before stomping over to the mirror, and ran towards Nimueh. The witch had her hand outstretched towards Merlin once again but noticed Arthur before she could say a spell. Merlin took advantage of her slight distraction and rolled back onto his feet, looking over at Arthur in surprise.
"Well, look at this, the little prince is free," Nimueh mocked, now standing between the two men. She felt absolutely no fear, however, and even kept her smile present on her face.
"Give up, witch," Arthur said in a voice of authority. Nimueh laughed.
"Oh, Arthur Pendragon, how could I give up when things have just gotten started?" she asked. Arthur's eyebrows rose. "Heh… let's have some fun now, shall we?" Nimueh murmured, turning back towards Merlin. "Ef a minnau, I ac ef, connect ni, ond yr wyf i fod â gofal," she said quietly, and her eyes flashed gold. Almost instantly, Merlin felt something strange beginning to build up inside himself. His and Nimueh's eyes were locked as some sort of strange sensation overtook his entire body. His breath hitched and his shoulders hunched slightly. His fingers twitched and his eyes closed tightly. His teeth clenched as his breathing came faster and harder, and all Arthur could do was watch in stupefied awe. Nimueh smiled yet again as Merlin stood up straighter, his ankle magically healed, and with a loud gasp, Merlin's eyes flew open, but the normal blue color was flooded with a bright gold. Arthur's own eyes widened and he took a step back, but the molten gold color melted back into the deep blue the prince recognized a moment later. For a second, Arthur thought whatever Nimueh had tried to do to Merlin hadn't worked.
But then the witch raised her arm towards Merlin and motioned with her fingers for him to come towards her. Without any hesitation, the young warlock began walking towards the witch before him, and Arthur found himself more confused than he had been earlier. Why was Merlin going towards her? Why was he doing what she told him to do?
The prince was about to yell at his friend and demand to know what the hell he was doing, but Merlin threw him a look before he could. Arthur looked intently at his friend and could see the same distress and surprise and confusion that he was feeling in Merlin's eyes. Whatever it was that was making Merlin walk towards Nimueh, it certainly wasn't Merlin's own willpower.
As if confirming what Arthur didn't want to think possible, Nimueh turned around to face him and, as she moved her hand out towards him, Merlin began walking straight for him, both of Kadwyn's swords clenched tightly in his hands.
A/N: Yes, yes, Merlin is the all-powerful sorcerer Emrys, but I really think that he would have a very hard time convincing himself to use his magic when Arthur was nearby. Even in a situation like this. And honestly, I don't think he's really grown to nearly his full potential as a wizard yet, seeing as this story takes place in between series' 2 and 3. So, he is powerful, yes, but at the same time, I think it's perfectly possible for a witch as powerful as Nimueh to be able to cast a spell on him and be able to control him. And yes, that's what she did, if you didn't understand that. XD;;
I will work very hard on getting the next chapter out sooner than I did this one! Once again, I'm sorry the update took so long. DX But I hope you enjoyed! Please review! They make the world go 'round! :)
(( Claire ))