Chapter 14 – Save Me!
I've been told on several occasions to stop apologizing for my delays etc. but I guess it's just my nature to do so. Sorry for the wait, I don't really have an excuse except for the fact that my muse took me to the middle and ending of this story and then moved on to Harry Potter. But I have another bit for you now, I can't promise when the next update will be but I hope it won't be as long a wait as before.
Six days later, the search has continued and they have gotten nowhere. While Arthur has become increasingly frustrated and short-tempered, Merlin's confidence has risen by about a million degrees. He was proud of the fact that he was still leading Arthur on without being caught out.
Arthur was so annoyed he felt like whacking his head against a wall. However, seeing as that would result in a very large, obvious bruise he opted for a pillow instead. It was still dark which meant he should still be asleep, but nooo, that would be too nice. Instead, he was sitting up in bed like the regular insomniac he was quickly becoming. He had run out of ideas, and it seemed that when it came to looking for anything Merlin was completely useless. Well, more so than usual. Honestly, how did that boy even managed to find his way out of bed in the morning?
Even though he and Merlin hadn't even been searching for a week and despite the fact that he had told himself he would wait a week or two, Arthur decided it was time to take action. He pulled out some paper and started working. He drew up plan after plan until he came up with one that was good enough to get Emrys' attention but not so good that it could end up seriously hurting him, or so he thought. He was just putting the finishing touches on a diagram when Merlin barged into his room rather loudly, as usual. He tucked the paper under his pillow, he knew that if Merlin found out what he was up to, he would try to talk him out of it.
"Merlin, you're early." He said, surprised.
"Um..." Merlin said uncertainly. Truth was, he was more than an hour late. Maybe if I just don't say anything he won't notice and I won't get anything thrown at me. "I just slept well last night." It wasn't quite a lie, he had slept better than usual.
"Well, I'm glad you're here, you can get an early start on your chores and continue the search. Also, you haven't cleaned my tack for a while, I think it really needs it. While you're at it you might as well take a stab at mucking out my stables. And I'm sure that these chambers haven't been cleaned properly in weeks, so you can do that as well." He wanted Merlin as far away as possible while he prepared for his capture.
"What?" Merlin almost yelled. "You expect me to find this Emrys dude, and do all that? What do you think I am, some sort of magician?"
"Well if you were, my search would be a whole lot easier wouldn't it?" Arthur retorted. "And maybe, if you had magic, you could get all your chores done on time and be a halfway decent servant!"
"Seriously?" Merlin asked, surprised at the change in Arthur. A year ago he would have sworn on his life that magic was the epitome of evil and all who practised it were hellbent on the permanent destruction of Camelot. "Does this mean you are giving me permission to use my super duper magical powers to do my work?"
"Yeah, sure." Said Arthur, extremely sarcastically. "Now you and your magicyness can go away."
Merlin gave Arthur a huge grin as he walked out the door, he had permission to use magic, albeit in a roundabout sort of way! It didn't really matter that Arthur had no way of knowing that he actually had magic.
Merlin grabbed a book from his room and walked down to the stables. He set some magical alarms on the door, set the tack to clean itself, made the stables muck themselves and sat down to read his book.
Arthur waited until he saw Merlin walk over to the stables before preparing for his 'adventure'. First, he went and found Sir Leon and Lancelot, they were two of his most trusted knights so they were perfect for the job. Then he talked to some of the scouts who they used to keep track of where bandits and other law-breakers were, and after determining that there was a medium-sized group of bandits who were slowly making their way into Camelot, he went to the stables.
Merlin heard someone set off his alarms and immediately stashed away his book, grabbed the pitchfork from the air and pretended that it was he who had been doing the work all along.
"Ah, Merlin." Arthur said in what he hoped wasn't too suspicious a voice. "I have a task for you."
Merlin groaned audibly and hoped that it was something away from anyone else so he could use magic to finish it. "What is it this time?" He grumbled.
Arthur decided to let Merlin's usual insolence slide. "My father has informed me that we will be hosting a tournament in a few weeks and I need my formal armor prepared." This was of course a complete lie, there was no way he would agree to having a tournament now, what with all the Emrys stuff he was dealing with, but Merlin didn't need to know that.
"Really?" Merlin raised an eyebrow, not quite as expertly as Guias but very close to. "That's a very odd thing to do now."
"You think I don't know that?" Arthur replied, trying to lace his voice with frustration which wasn't hard seeing as he was annoyed Merlin was basically calling him out on his bluff. "I told him it wasn't the smartest idea and that we should really do it at another time but did he listen to me? No." He added a bit more anger, "I don't know why he bothers asking for my opinion when he doesn't even take it into consideration."
Merlin sighed, there was something going on, some plan that had been made without his knowledge, but he didn't know whether it was Uther's or Arthur's. It was possible that Uther was trying to manipulate his son and use his skills to boost his own pride, it was also possible that Arthur had convinced his father to have the tournament so he could test himself or even try and draw Emrys out of the woodwork. Then, there was the other possibility, that Arthur had made the whole thing up and was trying to do something he knew Merlin wouldn't approve of. Either way, there was nothing he could do about it at the moment.
"All right." Merlin said, leaning the pitchfork against the nearest post. "Is this something you need me to do now or should I finish with everything else first?"
"Now. I need to practice in it if I'm to win. So, go!"
Merlin rolled his eyes at the prince, if Arthur's behaviour was anything to go by it was definitely some plan of his. Merlin just hoped he would be able to figure it out before Arthur did something stupid.
Arthur was glad that the conversation with Merlin hadn't taken very long because he had told the two knights to meet him down here in half an hour and he still had work to do. First, he saddled up all their horses, usually he would not have stooped to this level but he didn't need them asking why Merlin hadn't done it for him. As he was working he made sure to make little mistakes, every now and then he left a strap a bit too loose, tied a knot wrong here, didn't grease a buckle there, small things which wouldn't be noticed until they were fighting. Then, he 'accidentally' untied Merlin's horse and 'forgot' to close the paddock gate. When the other knights arrived they mounted up and left on what they were told was a 'quick scouting trip'.
It didn't take Merlin long to figure out that there was no tournament, the lack of other servants in armor storage was a dead giveaway. He rushed back to the stables where he had last seen Arthur and saw that he had left and conveniently made it rather difficult for him to follow by freeing his horse. Cursing vehemently Merlin ran all the way up to his and Guias' rooms and pulled out a book on tracking spells, he didn't want to just arrive where Arthur was like he had done before because it would be difficult to explain why Emrys was showing up when there might not be any danger at all. So instead he flipped through the book until he found what he decided to be the best alternative, he cleared off the table and followed the instructions in the book in front of him. He coated the table with a bit of water, held his hands just above the surface and chanted. Eala sunscín no sé béodærn scéawung mec sé foldweg Arthur Pendragon áþencan tó béatan. (Oh mirror on the table show me the path Arthur Pendragon intends to tread.) A rough map of Camelot shimmered into existence on the surface, showing path markers and landmarks, and a thin blue line where Arthur was going. Slowly, the map solidified and seemed to rise off the table, at which point Merlin reached out and caught it. It shrank until it was the size of a normal piece of parchment, the only difference was that it was completely white. Looking at the map Merlin saw that a small dot was moving along the blue line, he figured it must be Arthur because this map showed where Arthur was planning on going rather than where he had been. In fact, as the dot moved forward, the line behind it faded away. Merlin looked at where the blue line ended and groaned, Arthur was headed for a known bandit hideout. He had counted the horses as he left the stable and knew that only two knights had gone with Arthur, he must have had a death-wish. Then something occurred to him, something that was far from pleasant; Arthur was deliberately running into danger, unprepared. He sighed, so much for watching and waiting. Arthur was trying to get Emrys to reveal himself. Well, knowing his stupidity, Arthur was bound to not stop until Emrys showed up; he wouldn't run away just because things got a bit tough. Rolling his eyes at the prince's poorly thought out plan, Merlin ran to get his Emrys attire. Pulling the cloak on and arranging it so his face wasn't showing he used the landmarks on the map to guide him to a safe spot to wait.
"Níedfaru mec æt bæcern sé ærgeweorc cofan þingstów sé eallgréne æwiell be sé æcernspranca holtwudu" (Take me to where the ancient caves meet the new stream by the young forest) Then, just as he was starting to disappear in the swirl of lights he added Ahellian mec behindan sum carr. (Hide me behind a boulder.) As he reappeared behind a rather large pile of rocks he thought, I really should look up an actual spell to transport myself, these long sentences are getting rather tedious.
Merlin sat behind his rock and watched the bandits in their camp. In all, there were probably near a hundred men, all armed to the teeth and looking very bandity. He sighed, Arthur was going to need his help, again. Well, you had to give it to him, he had succeeded in getting Emrys' attention. Problem was, Emrys wasn't too happy about having his attention got this way, in fact, he was extremely unhappy. As he sat there cursing Arthur's stupidity he found a way to save him and keep himself from getting caught.
Now, I know some authors try to respond to the reviews they get and I thought now would be as good a time as any to do a bit of that. Know that I appreciate everyone's reviews but I simply don't have the space to respond to every single one (there are 165 of them...). So here go a few.
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The unknown from chapter 13: Advice is ALWAYS welcome, I think every other author will agree with me on this.
Everyone: Thank Rose Kathryns whose review kinda shocked me into finally putting this chapter together and girls-love-girls for reminding me I hadn't posted it yet.
A huge thanks goes out to all you people who are still reading this story despite the fact that I am such a terrible updater.
Also, I would like to thank the 207 people who have this story on alert and the 97 who have it as a favourite. Wow!
And you know the deal; coffee and chocolate to people who review!