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Gwen hands Merlin a cup half full of fresh water.

"So you won't spill", she explains.

Merlin would never have thought of it himself, but of course she's right. The ship's movements still has him stumbling from time to time.

"How is he?" she asks. "Am I still not allowed to see him?"

"I really don't think his pride could take it", Merlin says.

Gwen makes a worried face.

"He's fine, really", Merlin hastens to add. "He just loves complaining. It's nothing like-"

Merlin nods towards Gwaine, who is hanging over the railing close by. Percival is standing next to him, one big hand holding on to Gwaines belt to keep him from falling over the side. He is clearly not bothered by either Gwaines horrible retching or his equally horrible jokes. Merlin isn't surprised. He has seen the calm knight face armies, magical creatures, a troop of giants (to be fair, those weren't that much bigger than Percival) and flirting maidens at formal state dinners with the same sweet smile.

"I'd better get back to Arthur", Merlin says.

"Do that. I'll go check on Lancelot."

Gwen disappears down the rickety ladder below deck. Merlin makes his way back to the prow, careful not to spill.

Arthur sips at the water unenthusiastically. His repertoire of derogatory comments seems do have deserted him for the moment, as he stares intently at the horizon and holds on to the rail with a crushing grip. He is remarkably pale.

"Is that land?" he asks suddenly, the first words he has uttered in oven an hour.

Merlin squints. Far off, on the very edge where sea meets sky, there is a glimmer of purple mountains.

"Yes and no, I think. It's land, but…"

"… it's not Hyperborea."

"No, sire. The captain mentioned that we would pass the Isle of Sapphire before we… ah, got to the real sea, as he put it. He also mentioned that the water might get a bit rough later on."

The look of sheer horror on the prince's face was one that Merlin would treasure for years to come.