This is very late, and I'm a horrible person. It's been a year. It's set a bit in the past, since it took me so long to get to write the damn thing. Special thanks to all my reviewers/favorites during this time, and especially to Jayne Mays who kept me going.
A Complete Idiot's Guide to Scaring a Witch
It was late, and the usually noisy and bustling forest lay still as pale grey clouds stole over the sky and the sun hid underneath the horizon. Leaves rustled slightly as the group of hooded figures made their way slowly through the wooded path in the dusk. The dark stone form of an old ruin arch passed its withered shadow over them as they strode to the clearing where a woman with hair of starlight waited.
"Where have you been," the woman spoke without turning to look at them, choosing instead to gaze up at the thick stone wall that had once been part of a fortress. Moss and lichen covered the other parts of the ruin around it; their light tendrils creeping slowly down from the blackened stones above.
Two of the hooded figures farther back looked at each other, while the others shrank back from the venom in her voice.
"My priestess, while scouting the area we have found two who may be of interest-" One of the group started, but was cut off by a piercing look by the blonde. She turned towards them slowly, never taking her eyes off the one who spoke, her scarlet gown swirling in a stark contrast to the murky forest floor.
"I do not care for your excuses. Should you and your fellow novices foil my plan to crush Camelot underneath the weight of its corrupt nature and finally have Arthur Pendragon in my grasp, simply because you fools cannot even guard a perimeter-"
Morgause made a violent gesture with her left hand, and an orb of fire burst into life at her fingertips. The flame flickered hungrily as the man in the cloak wavered. After a few moments, the fire flickered back into nonexistence, and the ruins were thrown into shadow once more. One of the figures in the back of the group sneezed, and the other elbowed him subtly. Morgause quickly turned and looked at the source of the noise, and the man under the cloak shuffled uncomfortably. A bird shrieked loudly somewhere in the forest.
"Well now that you have wasted my time enough, show me the two newcomers in the back and why you think they may interest me. Also, should they be Camelot spies, I will have your tongues as well as theirs, and maybe a few fingers too," Morgause said softly, a cruel smile twisting her lips as the strangers slowly stepped forward from the rest of the group, one in a midnight blue robe with gold trimmings, the other in a green and silver mantle with delicate patterns. Underneath the gloom of the crumbling ruins, both of their faces were shrouded.
The rest of the hooded figures formed a half-circle around the proceedings, watching as Morgause silently crept towards the two men in the middle, her eyes narrowing as she scrutinized them. The two never looked away from her gaze, but one was fiddling with his hands absentmindedly behind his back. The other just stood as straight and as still as the ancient trees surrounding the clearing, and waited for the witch to speak. A bird cried out once more in the dusk.
"So, you two have come here I believe to aid me in my noble quest to end the pain of our kind? I can sense some sort of power from the two of you, but for what reason-" Morgause gasped as she looked closer at the young man in the silver-green robe. The man tried not to react, however both him and his partner tensed at the exclamation. The rest of the sorcerers in the back looked at one another, puzzled.
"I see now! I know who you are!" Morgause exclaimed, breathlessly. The alarmed men both looked at her quickly, tensing as if for a fight when the priestess continued, "You are a sacred virgin!"
Both men stared at her dumbstruck for a good time as a particularly rowdy bird shrieked almost suggestively in the background. The man in the blue robe exclaimed "Ah!" as if he had remembered something he had forgotten previously, breaking the silence as his partner was still having trouble uttering a word. His face was slowly turning a marvelous magenta color. Morgause smiled alluringly at the man while slowly stroking his sleeve.
"N-now wait a minute-" The man said, finally finding his strangled voice as Morgause shushed him.
"It's fine, hush darling, hush I said," she purred, her muddy eyes looking up from underneath her eyelashes, "I recognize those robes, and I know the ritual. You must be special, I've never seen a male wear one before, especially one so.. strong." At that last word, Morgause leaned in towards the stranger to smell him as he urgently tried to shy away. A bird hooted once again from the shadows of the forest, though it was a strange call indeed- it almost sounded like the animal was choking on something. The man in the green cloak looked around desperately for help from his partner, but the man in the blue robe seemed to be trying tremendously hard not to laugh.
"You poor thing, I suppose the druids left you wandering all alone with no priests or priestesses left to … help… " She pressed up slightly against him seductively as the man in silver and green stammered, with the man in the midnight blue robe still having some sort of fit on the side. The audience of magicians averted their eyes at the sight, saying things like "the holy virgin!" and "we are not worthy of his purity!" At the magicians' outcries loud chicken noises erupted from a tree nearby, only to be silenced by a low thud. Morgause seemed not to notice.
When the witch's chest pressed up against the man's arm it seemed the male virgin had finally found his voice for good as he quickly blurted out, "W-wait, that's not why we came here! We came here to warn you about the damn curse!"
Morgause stepped back as she looked oddly at the man, her sorcerer underlings speaking quickly to one another, their fright showing. One was shaking silently while another quickly turned his head at a sudden gust of wind, a drop of sweat dripping down his throat.
"Ghosts they said?"
"Idiot Stefan, he said clearly said curse."
"Ah that's even worse.."
"How can it be worse? Ghosts are the ones that cause curses.."
"Albreich, you imbecile, ANYTHING can cause a curse, remember that undead thing that guy told us about? Or maybe it was a possessed doll…"
"I saw a phantom the other day! A woman in white, skinning the flesh off a poor lil' bunny, I swear I did,"
"You guys are all fools, it's the DEMONS we need to worry about, they keep stealing my socks-"
Morgause turned to them and silenced their quibbling with a look.
"That's ENOUGH. I'll have no more of this foolish talk.. And you! What is this nonsense they're talking about." She turned and looked at the two standing before her, her eyes softening when she gazed upon the one in the green and silver garb. He nervously backed away from her while the mage in the blue robe finally spoke up, his voice echoing among the blackened stones around them.
"These ruins are very, very cursed Morgause. We have come to warn you. You need to leave before the curse gets you."
"Very, very cursed you say? And what would make you say that, my brethren? I haven't felt any sort of ominous or malicious presence here," she said arrogantly, looking haughtily at the man before her.
"Well it's uh, you see, it's uh haunted," he stammered nervously, again playing with the gold trim on the sleeves of his robe. Morgause looked at the mage as if he was a bit slow. His partner rolled his eyes, though it didn't show through the shadow of his hood.
"Yes, it's haunted, and you really would do the best to get out of here, this spirit is an extremely angry one and will rip up anyone who dares set up a trap here overnight. We want to warn you to leave, and take cover practicing a ritual to keep the spirit away so that he doesn't kill you," the man in green-and-silver said in a mysterious voice, though Morgause just looked at him exasperated as well.
"You expect me to believe that some silly spirit here is going to brutally murder us?For what? Staying too long at his favorite place? Trampling on his favorite grass?"
"He just hates you! He probably thinks you're some smirky, plotting, wicked bitch-" the man in silver started, but was cut off by his partner.
"Look, Morgause, we aren't kidding. You are the last of a line of priestesses, and us of the Old Religion just want to see you safe," the man said, staring intently at the witch. Suddenly, the air grew chill as the night's darkness weighed on the air around them, choking the whispers of the leaves into silence. A sudden chill settled over the dark stone walls. Morgause quickly glanced to her left, as if she had felt a presence there, and started to look a bit unsettled.
"This spirit is dangerous, and more powerful than any I've come across. I've spent quite a bit of my life banishing evil beings, and I can tell you this one is the cruelest and most malevolent of them all. You can't feel him, because he doesn't want to be sensed," The man in the blue robe spoke softly but his voice echoed powerfully over the ruins nonetheless. A spark of gold flared in the shadows of his hood, and Morgause let out an involuntary shudder. A gust of wind stirred the leaves around her in a gale of rasping laughter. Her underlings glanced around nervously, the tallest one shaking violently. The man in the green and silver robes looked quickly at his friend.
"And who is the one here?" She asked Merlin, her once confident voice now filled with a sharp fear she could not explain, her dark eyes darting towards the snarling grey gargoyle just a few feet away from the black arch above them. A bird screeched once more.
The name Mor'du was whispered, but not by any living thing standing in the clearing of the forest.
Earlier in the day …
"Merlin, I could probably anger some all-powerful sorcerer simply by stepping on this stupid little mushroom here. He'd come forth and scream some nonsense about his precious fungus, then proceed to pound me into the ground until more stupid little mushrooms would grow on me. These wizards never really put up any warnings, you know?"
Merlin didn't really have much to say to that one, as there had been many instances of wizards and sorcerers being randomly infuriated towards someone (usually Arthur) for harming one silly thing or another without even knowing. He certainly remembered the unfortunate Unicorn event.
"..Are you sure this isn't just some way for you to prank people with magic for fun, Gwaine?"
"Now now Merlin, if you hadn't suggested that special spell of yours, this wouldn't work, and you know it. One could even say that all this was your idea," Gwaine said, a rogue smile gleaming on his face.
The raven-haired man in question just looked at Gwaine and rolled his eyes. Merlin regretted suggesting that hallucination spell.
"As long as it works, Sir Gwaine, it doesn't matter whose idea it is," Leon said as he sharpened his knife.
"Ah Leon, you can't remain so poised and proper; you won't scare anyone that way. You'd just make them feel inferior to your mighty prose," Gwaine said as he gestured imperiously.
"Sir Gwaine, I do not look down upon the likes of the illiterate-"
"Of course you don't, you're too busy practicing your consonants-"
"Sir Leon, Gwaine, that's enough," Arthur said, as both knights burst into laughter, "We have work that needs to be done, and you fools are gabbling about grammar and other nonsense."
"Speaking of illiterate, Leon, what sort of word is 'gabbling'? And I see I don't get a sir, though I am your dog of a knight," Gwaine said inbetween chuckles while Leon was trying and failing to arrange his face into a more serious expression for his Prince. Arthur just ignored the two as Sir Elyan and Percival entered the forest clearing through the nearby brush.
"Sire," Sir Elyan spoke, "It seems Morgause's group has remained where we have tracked them last."
"Good, that at least has stayed consonant. I mean constant," Arthur said, slightly reddening at his mistake. Fits of chuckles continued from Gwaine, while Leon elbowed him sharply, trying even harder to contain his own laughter as Merlin too joined in with his own silent giggles.
"Merlin!" Arthur barked sharply at the warlock, in an attempt to sober him up from his laughing fit. It had the opposite effect, and Merlin burst out into fresh laughter again.
"Aha.. Yes, sire," Merlin finally answered sheepishly once he was done, and before Arthur's annoyance reached its limit. Merlin had gone 4 hours without Arthur hitting him today – it was a new personal record.
"How are the details of your part of the mission coming along?" the prince asked, looking at Merlin intently.
"Well sir, me and Gwaine have discussed it a bit more –"
"Gwaine, I told you, we are not going to try to throw dung at Morgause-"
"Arthur it's a good idea and you know it. I even volunteered for the supply."
"I am assuming that we are talking about your horse here, Gwaine…"
"My lovely Lucille's shit is far too nice for the likes of Morgause-" Arthur tried to cut him off quickly with the wave of his hand, but Elyan spoke up exasperatedly as well.
"Agh Gwaine you drunk, did you really name your horse after that tavern wench?"
"How dare you say that Elyan, my lady Lucille was a saint! And she had the most superb pair of-"
"Enough!" Merlin said loudly, surprising even himself at his interruption as both Gwaine and Arthur turned to look at him with amused looks, "Er, Arthur, we have actually been discussing something other than what comes out of Gwaine's knightly ass and his saintly tavern adventures."
"I don't actually have a mule, Merlin. But yes, Arthur, we were discussing about how poor Merlin here has to go to that scary evil magic camp with that horrid bitch all by his lonesome. I think the poor lad will need some company, don't you?" Gwaine said, frowning as he staged extreme sadness. Arthur sighed.
"What Sir Gwaine means, Arthur, is that it will be dangerous for just one person to travel to this camp," Merlin said, crossing his arms as he looked at the prince.
Sir Lancelot, whose dark eyes had been lost in thought while the others were talking, also spoke up, "I would agree that two people would look a better story than just one man traveling alone- it might seem that the man is a scout to Morgause. Plus it's best not to send a man alone into her camp; she's quite dangerous as we all know." He looked over to Arthur, whose brow furrowed as he rested his chin on his hands.
"I remember how dangerous she is, perhaps even better than everyone else, Sir Lancelot. But we have discussed this before- If anyone is going to pass off the act of being a sorcerer, it's going to be the one who actually is a sorcerer, lest we forget how god awful our own attempts at the disguise were…" Arthur said, grimacing at the memory, then continued "..And remember, we'll be right there with Merlin, watching from the forest. There's no way I'd actually let him be fully alone with that group."
"Yes but Arthur even with us there, will we be close enough to intervene if something does.. occur?" Lancelot said, glancing quickly over to Merlin, who had gone a shade pale. Arthur closed his eyes, his worry showing through a tense posture. The light streaming through the leaves above the clearing was a soft amber, and a squirrel raced up a tree nearby in preparation for dusk.
"Merlin, I'm coming with you," Arthur said after a long pause, while watching a blue-and-white bird peck at the ground nearby. The knights stiffened, each looking at Arthur with a tense aura of disagreement. Finally, Percival spoke up.
"Arthur, I know you care about Merlin, we all do, but as your knights and protectors we cannot allow you to do that. One of us needs to do it." Lancelot, Elyan and Leon nodded in agreement, and even Gwaine voiced his approval. Arthur sighed; the prince knew he was right, but he didn't enjoy the idea of ordering his knights to let him go.
"It has to be me. I'm the only one besides Merlin who now has a garb that can fool Morgause, which apparently no one else but me can wear. Speaking of which, Gwaine, how is Merlin's robe coming along?" Arthur asked, turning to Gwaine, and ignoring the sullen looks his knights were giving him as the knight pulled out a soft cloth in rich cobalt. The edges had a fine filigree of thin gold lines twisting amongst one another in a strange pattern Arthur didn't recognize. He assumed the filigree was Merlin's handiwork and not Gwaine's – the robe's design didn't contain any dirty pictures or beer mugs.
"We've finished it a while ago, and Merlin helped the final stitching with a spell or two of his own. Apparently he's quite the tailor," Gwaine reported dryly, clearly a bit miffed he didn't get the chance to add any hidden cuss words on the garb. Merlin gave the prince a smug grin, watching as Arthur regarded him with suspicious eyes. Sudden memories of his own clothes being miraculously repaired by the otherwise incompetent servant sprung up into Arthur's mind as he watched Merlin chortle at his own joke. Arthur quickly leaned forward and gave Merlin a sharp rap on the head, and the servant let out a surprised 'Ow!'
Rubbing his head where Arthur had hit him and annoyed that the prince had ruined his new record, Merlin tried to change the subject before the prince threw something at him as well.
"Alright, we've got the robes all settled, but what about the other part of the plan? As I've said, I believe I can cloak your presence to Morgause and her cronies, but I don't know how we're going to be able to communicate to one another once me and Arthur are in their camp."
"And that's where our knight training comes in; we already have various ways of mimicking various bird calls to communicate to one another while hidden," Leon said rationally, "we've practiced them quite a bit and used them in the field as well. It would be a good choice for communication in this situation."
"As long as Gwaine doesn't ruin it, that is," Elyan said, looking mockingly at the knight in question.
"You are just envious of my skills, Sir Sparrow," Gwaine taunted, flapping his arms as he did so.
"Gwaine, I hope you do not mean to attempt your chicken call again. It sounds absolutely nothing like a chicken. Even if it did, there are no chickens in the forest," Lancelot said exasperatedly as Gwaine took a swig from his silver flask. Leon gave Gwaine a disparaging look.
"I dunno Lance, Gwaine makes a pretty amazing chicken when he tries to perform 'sorcery'," Merlin said snickering, followed by a loud burst of laughter from everyone gathered, with Gwaine spitting out his drink and letting out a loud guffaw.
As the mirth died down, a chill swept over the camp. The amber light had faded to a deep orange, and dusk was approaching fast. Arthur looked over at Merlin, who had suddenly become nervous and was playing with his hands as he was wont to do when he was preoccupied with his own thoughts.
"I think we have discussed this far enough so far; Elyan, Percival, I need you two to hide the horses and start getting the armor ready as Gwaine and Leon patrol the perimeter. Sir Lancelot, quickly scout Morgause's camp again as close as you can, then return and give me a report on the camp. The last thing we need is for Morgause or her sorcerers to catch us off guard," Arthur commanded looking at each of his men in turn, the knights nodding then moving out into the crimson forest to perform their respective duties. Behind Arthur's back, Gwaine tried to take another swig of his flask, but Leon grabbed it from him and quickly emptied it onto the forest floor despite the rogue's muttered complaints.
Arthur turned to look at Merlin once more, the warlock now trying to distract himself from the prince's gaze as he checked over the dark-blue robes once more.
"Merlin," Arthur said quietly as the warlock pulled at a loose thread on the cloth. Merlin quickly turned to him with a smile that wasn't able to completely cover the obvious worry in his eyes, though the boy had tried. Arthur wasn't fooled.
"You're thinking you can't do this spell, aren't you."
Merlin looked away as his smile faded slightly, still playing with the loose string.
"Nah, I'm fine, Arthur, really. I've handled Morgause before…" Merlin said as his eyes flashed gold, and the thread wriggled its way back into the fabric. Arthur's gaze didn't falter as Merlin lifted up the robe to inspect his work, still avoiding the prince's stare.
"I wasn't talking about Morgause, Merlin, I was talking about this spell. You're having doubts as to whether you can pull it off or not."
Merlin looked up at the piercing blue gaze, then looked away wincing. Arthur sighed and picked up a loose branch from the forest floor, studying it as he thought about what to say.
"You don't have to lie to me Merlin, not anymore. In fact, with your acting skills, I don't even know how you got away with it the first place," Arthur said, his tone sincere, "I know you too well."
Merlin fiddled with his hands a bit more, then looked up at the blooded sky, his cheery pretense vanishing. A knot twisted in his stomach as he thought of what could go wrong in the upcoming trial, or what could happen to his valued friends. Sure he could do amazing things with magic, but compared to other practiced mages his control was sub-par and his technique was sloppy. He had hoped that he would eventually have the time to practice the finer methods of magic once his secret was revealed, but he didn't expect that he would need the skills so soon.
And this particular spell was tricky. It required time to be prepared beforehand with a multitude of extremely complicated words and phrases for the incantation to be completed properly, and also needed to be done soundlessly so as to not arouse suspicion. Even if spells often just came to Merlin, the magician had no idea if he could invoke such a long spell without making a single mistake from memory. And even if he did perform it perfectly, he still had to stay alert to the magicians around him to be sure he had warning should one of them react with magic-
The thick branch hit the side of Merlin's head with a thwack, interrupting his concentration on various ways to stay alert.
"Ow! What on earth was that for, you prat!" Merlin exclaimed, his blue eyes watering as he glared at Arthur. Unapologetic, the prat in question crossed his arms as he glared at the warlock.
"You're an idiot. That's what."
"Arthur, it's just that this spell, it's really complicated and I don't think I can remember it all-"
Merlin was interrupted by another sharp thwack from the stick.
"Are you done being an idiot yet?"
"Arthur god dammit I swear, will you just listen to me?"
"Not until you're done being an idiot, idiot."
"You're the one being an idiot, I told you, I can't do this spell-"
Merlin raised up his hands to try to block the incoming attack, but Arthur just feigned to the left and struck the right side of his shoulder anyway.
"You can, and stop trying to convince yourself you can't. I know you can."
"How do you know that!"
"The same way you know I'll succeed when I think I'll fail."
Astonished, Merlin turned to look at the prince who just coughed and looked embarrassedly away. It was the closest to admitting he relied on Merlin's advice as Arthur had ever come. A blossom of warmth spread through Merlin's chest as he smiled.
Arthur looked back at Merlin, the warlock's silly grin broadening as Arthur rolled his eyes at Merlin's reaction.
"Ha, so I guess you do listen to me then, my lord Prat."
Arthur swung the stick once more at Merlin before the servant's grin grew even wider, but Merlin was ready this time. With a flash of his eyes, Merlin tore the stick from Arthur's hand and began to beat the prince on his fat head with it while laughing at the sight. As a very annoyed prince tried to dodge the assault while simultaneously cursing his aggravator with every word in his repertoire, Gwaine, Leon, and Lancelot returned from the forest into the clearing.
"My lord," Lancelot said, as the stick dropped from midair back to the leafy ground, Merlin shying away from the red-faced blonde.
"Lancelot," Arthur said, somewhat out of breath. Gwaine went to give Merlin a pat on the back for his masterful branch control.
"My lord, Morgause's camp remains at the same site as before, underneath the Ruins of Es'kador. Occasionally her sorcerers scout the perimeter in a group of five, while she focuses on reading some sort of text," Lancelot reported, a leaf poking through his dark hair.
"You got that close? I'm pretty impressed you managed to do that without being caught and turned into a squirrel, Lancey," Gwaine said with a grin.
Ignoring Gwaine, Lancelot continued, "For our plans, the location is perfect. The witch's subordinates already seem a bit spooked by the shadows of the old ruins."
Leon also spoke up, "Are you sure they were unnerved by the ruins? It could also just be that Morgause is there…"
"Could be that as well, however they were all gazing up nervously at the stone formations and muttering to one another, so I do actually think it is the remains of the fortress scaring them," Lancelot said thoughtfully.
Arthur nodded. "Good, that's exactly what we need. Leon, go grab Elyan and Percival, we'll go over the plan once more with them before we head out – it's almost time."
"Do we really need to go over the plan again Arthur? I'm pretty sure we have all the details down by now.." Gwaine said, pulling out a different flask and taking a swig from it as Leon walked away.
"Yes, and Gwaine, you would do well to not drink in front of your prince."
"Ah like it's ever stopped me from besting most of you guys at sword practice nearly every time."
"Only because your drunken moves are so stupidly unpredictable, it's hard to parry them."
Arthur and Gwaine continued to argue over the finer applications of alcohol and swordplay as Leon returned with Elyan and Percival, their footsteps crunching on the leafy forest ground. Merlin started to put on his new midnight-blue wizard's robe by sticking his head through what he thought was the neckhole, but in fact was for his arm. As Merlin flailed around trying to fix his robe, Arthur began to go over the plan once more.
"Ok, so we've got it, right men? Once we're caught by her sorcerers, we'll explain that we're here to warn her about the 'curse'," Arthur said, his men nodding, Merlin now trying to figure out why his robe was on backwards.
"Merlin will start enchanting the spell while I distract Morgause somehow. Probably with more rumors of the curse or some other wizardy nonsense."
"We will be in the woods around you, with Elyan and Gwaine up in the trees to be able to see the gathering better."
"And I will be communicating with the most realistic bird calls known to man."
"You'd better hope they're realistic Gwaine, or you may just be birdfood once Morgause or Leon gets through with you," Elyan said, sniggering. Percival also grinned as Leon rolled his eyes.
Arthur looked at Merlin, who was nodding in thoughtful concentration as he considered all the different components in the plan. Finally Merlin smiled determinedly and looked up at all of them.
"Ok, it's all set. And once I finish the spell, you'll know it. Once the invocation is over, Morgause and her underlings will be much more paranoid than before, and should follow the instructions to the fake ritual me and Arthur give to her. We will appear normal to her, but once we split them up and you each come across them…" Merlin grinned something horrible. The corners of Arthur's lips twisted into a merciless smile, and Gwaine laughed sinisterly.
"…Then each of you will appear to them as their worst nightmare imaginable."
"Mor'du? Whatdo you mean?" Morgause asked, her fake confidence betrayed by the tremor in her voice. Merlin gave Arthur a quick nod underneath his hood- the spell was finished.
"An old spirit, and a very violent one. And he wants your blood, Morgause. He wants the blood of everyone here. Now, me and my companion here are protected-" Merlin started to say, but was cut off by a shrill screech from one of the sorcerers.
Pointing at a dark spot in the foreboding woods, the man was shaking with his eyes open wide. He managed to choke out in a panicked voice, "I SAW it, it was there…It had no eyes, mouth was torn.. open down to its throat and.. and blood.. too much..." before he passed out on the ground, unable to continue. His brethren now could not contain their fear any longer, and looked to Morgause for her reaction. The witch's jaw was clenched tight, her pale hands balled into fists as she stared at the man on the ground. The only two who appeared to be unaffected by the events were Arthur and Merlin, who both chanced a knowing grin at one another.
"Morgause, you must perform the ritual! You're in mortal danger," Arthur spoke in a grave tone.
"Wait, you don't mean the virgin ritual?" Morgause asked, her voice quiet with fear.
"NO, no… no. Definitely not. I mean the protection ritual," Arthur said, then added under his breath, "you crazy bitch."
"Protection ritual?" One of the sorcerers spoke up, his voice a squeak.
"Yes, a protection ritual. In order to be protected from this vile ghost, each of you must walk three-hundred paces away from these ruins alone. You must then say 'ghostie ghostie stay away we'll come and play another day' six times fast," Merlin said, with Arthur looking at him exasperatedly at the servant's improvised chant. Merlin looked at him and shrugged.
"Alone?" One of the sorcerers whimpered.
"Ghostie ghostie.. Are you sure?" Morgause asked, her brows furrowing in confusion.
"Yes! And hurry, you'd better hurry! The ghost has already started summoning his demonic minions!" Merlin added quickly, adding a spooky tremor to his voice and wiggling his fingers. Arthur rolled his eyes again as the sorcerers quickly scurried around trying to figure out who was going to walk where, and Morgause set off towards the west in shaky pace.
As each of the hooded men began to set off in opposite directions from the camp, Arthur turned to Merlin and said:
"Ghostie ghostie stay away, we'll come and play another day? Six times fast. Really."
"It was the best I had. I'm not good at this, you know," Merlin said defensively.
"I know you aren't. Anyway that went surprisingly perfect, excluding the horrifying sexual advances Morgause… Of which I will question you about later. You knew about this robe," Arthur turned to Merlin with a demonic look in his eye. Merlin wondered if he was put under the nightmare spell as well as he shuddered beneath the fuming gaze. Arthur would make him pay horribly for this later, Merlin was sure.
"Ah well the point is, it went well. And now it's just up to the knights to appear to scare… the rest of them," Merlin said as he nudged the unconscious man with his boot.
Stefan walked around fifty paces until he could take it no more, and just started to run. His panicked breathing burned his throat and his muscles were sore, but Stefan just kept running frantically through the forest despite the pain. As he ran his foot caught on an upraised root, and the sorcerer was sent flying onto the ground.
Mumbling from the pain and brushing crusted dirt off his knees, he turned sharply around as heard a twig snap nearby.
Stefan could only hear his own sharp breathing being crushed by the weight of the silence around him. No animals or even insects crawled around him; even the leaves stood still in the dead air surrounding him. The thump of his heart was drumming in his ears as he glanced around.
"Gh.. Ghostie…" he started to sputter out, but his small voice caught in his throat when he heard the sound of another twig break. None of his muscles would budge as fear clutched his heart.
"Stefan." An inhuman sound drifted from the black woods around him. "Stefan. My Stefan."
The man began to weep silently as he clutched his chest, terror constricting his lungs and erupting in his stomach.
"Stefan. My Stefan. My Stefan." The unholy chorus continued.
The figure of a pale woman stepped out from the shadows, her stomach gutted of any organs and sewing scissors held by her only pale, twisted hand.
Stefan shrieked as he fell to the ground, unconscious.
As the shriek echoed in the distance, Gwaine turned to Leon and laughed.
"Perce you bastard, you're fast. He's already got his guy on the ground…"
"So that's we have to do? Just sort of walk up to them and pretend to go with their hallucination? And then the spell just shows what they fear the most?" Leon asked, still apprehensive. Gwaine clapped him on the back and smiled.
"Yep that's all you have to do, we just need to wait until both of ours show up. Lucky Elyan already had his faint from the getgo, and now Percival is done too. Well, saving the best for last I guess," Gwaine said, puffing up his chest in mock bravado.
"Still, what if we get something like heights?" Leon said, still concerned.
"Heights? What do you mean?"
"Well.. I mean what if my guest.. what if he's afraid of heights, how on earth would I act that?"
"Leon, do you honestly know someone who's secretly most afraid of being up high?" Gwaine asked chuckling, then pausing as he looked at Leon's face. Gwaine's smile widened in horrible glee.
"Reeeeeeeally. Sir Leon the Bold, afraid of climbing up a tree," Gwaine giggled.
"Quiet, you drunk. I'm not afraid of heights, I just.. dislike them."
"Suuuuuure. Well, at least if it's heights it won't be something silly like being a woman. That would be quite hilarious to see, even if frightening. Ha! What if Perce had to pretend to be a woman!" the knight chortled at the thought.
Suddenly the sound of footsteps echoed through the forest.
"Shhhhh, Gwaine, here they come… Get ready," Leon whispered. Gwaine nodded as he and Leon crept through the forest to surprise their guests.
Watching from behind a tree as two of the hooded figures walked together, Gwaine gestured to Leon to walk to his position. Both of them were needed if Merlin's spell was to work correctly.
One of the two figures clutched at the other's robes, saying, "I'm REALLY not sure if we were supposed to go together…" The other shook his head.
"We're safer this way… two of us should be stronger than one…"
"Yea but that guy said we needed to stay apart… I can't stand this forest. It's too quiet. I can hear things.."
"How on earth can be it quiet, and yet you hear things? Mor-"
The man suddenly shut up as a faint ooooooooooooo whispered from the trees. The pair paused.
"Ok, this has to be three-hundred steps, right? Right?"
"… I wasn't counting."
"WHAT! I assumed you were!" Gwaine and Leon watched as the two sorcerers started to get slowly more panicked. Gwaine had to shove back a snicker as he nudged Leon. As they both started to step out from behind the bush, the sorcerers turned to them in shock and one uttered a horrified gasp, while the other merely stared.
"MORGAUSE!" One managed to choke out inbetween his fear, pointing at Leon. Gwaine's face lit up as he realized who Leon had to pretend to be. The other sorcerer just clutched his robes in tight fists as he gaped at Gwaine.
"MORGAUSE! NO! GH-GHOSTIE..." The first one started to say, staring somewhere around Leon's midriff, his mouth open in horror. Leon stepped forward slowly toward the man as he began to back away. Gwaine was too distracted by Leon's horrible attempt at a feminine walk towards the man to concentrate on his own victim. Leon knew Gwaine would soon get his revenge for Leon trashing his flask, as the man now had prime blackmail material.
"No, NO, I won't, YOU CAN'T MORGAUSE… I DID NOTHING!" The man shrieked, then fell over onto the ground. "I JUST WANTED… THEY'RE SO SOFT.." He shrieked one last time as his eyes rolled to the back of his head, his limbs motionless. Gwaine then started towards the other in a steady walk.
When he reached the only man remaining, the man still stood gaping at Gwaine, his eyes unfathomable pools of fear. The knight continued to stare at the man, wondering when on earth what to do and why the man hadn't really responded, when he just decided to invent his own terror for the magician.
"CA-CA CAAA! CA-CA CAAAAA!" Gwaine screamed, hopping up and down as he clapped his hands in a chicken dance. Leon stared at Gwaine, too appalled at the idiocy to do anything about Gwaine messing up the plan. Leon finally snapped out of his shock when the man next to Gwaine started screaming like a stuck pig.
"FROM WHAT TWISTED HELL ARE YOU, YOU DEMON! WHAT IS THIS HORRIFIC SOUND YOU HAVE BESTOWED UPON ME! MONSTER!" The man fell over silent at the last word, his hands twitching. Gwaine turned to Leon, triumphant. Leon took a page from Arthur's book and hit him hard over the head.
Lancelot just then showed up from behind the two, the front of his armor caked in mud.
"What happened to you?" Leon asked, looking at Lancelot's attire in confusion.
"I had to pretend.. to be a mud monster.. the idiot was afraid of a mud monster, of all the stupid fears… And what the hell happened to you guys? I heard some demon chicken over here, don't tell me that was Gwaine again?" Lancelot asked, spitting out mud every couple of words.
"It was me, and once again my chicken imitation has proved its worth," Gwaine stated proudly, while Leon muttered something about there not being a first time it was useful. Gwaine turned away, clapping his hands and rubbing them together, smiling.
"Well I guess that just leaves Morgause… And I don't mean Leon. Let's go make the real Morgause shudder in fear…"
Morgause was stepping frantically through the forest as the heavy weight of the darkness pressed in around her.
Two hundred ninety-seven, Two hundred ninety-eight… She counted in her head, as she stepped, her breathing becoming faster and faster as she reached her goal when she heard a soft, high-pitched noise.
Panic rose in her throat as she felt a vast presence suddenly appear with the shrill sound, her eyes wide as she searched for the source of the power.
"You have upset me."
The voice came from everywhere, and nowhere. The witch froze as she tried to remember her spells, any spell… But the knowledge would not come to her.
"You have upset me."
The voice spoke again, this time coming from even closer to Morgause, though she could not place where. Frantically, Morgause tried to recite the ritual to keep the spirit away.
"Ghostie, Ghostie, stay away…"
"You have upset me."
The voice's anger was palpable. Morgause thought she would choke on her own heart. Every shadow she saw a figure, and yet she saw nothing.
"Stay away, Come to play.."
"You have upset me."
"Stay.. Away.. Stay…" Morgause tried to continue, but as if an invisible hand were clutching her throat, she could no longer continue.
"YOU HAVE UPSET ME."
The witch collapsed to the ground, her final whisper: "Mor'du."
As Arthur and Merlin waited back at the ruins warmed by a conjured fire, a resounding chorus of crickets chirped around them and the one other sorcerer lying unconscious next to them. Arthur was sharpening his sword as Merlin was playing with shapes in the fire. Suddenly, Arthur's voice broke from the silence.
Merlin looked up questioningly towards the prince, his fire horse galloping back into the flames. Arthur paused, then continued.
"When we go back, I'm going to have a chat with my father."
"Wait, you're not going to tell him about my magic, are you?" Merlin asked, his eyes widening. Arthur shook his head.
"No, no, I won't tell him until the time is right, until magic can be truly accepted back into Camelot once more.. But I do wish to talk to him about something else. It will probably make your life a lot more difficult," Arthur said thoughtfully, the fire reflecting in his eyes as he spoke.
"What do you mean? You can't mean more chores?" Merlin said incredulously.
"Yes it'll probably turn out to be more chores, Merlin, for I intend to talk to my father about hiring you as one of my personal advisor."
Merlin was silent, his mouth gaping open stupidly as he tried to comprehend what Arthur had said.
"Eventually, I want the title to be 'Advisor of Magic', but obviously I can't get away with that yet. Of course, that means that you'll have the same privileges as the knights-" Arthur tried to continue but was cut off as Merlin suddenly hugged him. Arthur awkwardly waited a few seconds, then shoved the warlock off into a rock nearby.
"Agh! Again, injuring me again on the head-"
"Must not be the first head injury you've sustained, since you're clearly addled. As my advisor, I forbid you from anymore girly hugs, else I will demote you to working in the kitchens."
"You're right, you prat, it certainly isn't the first injury I've sustained to my head thanks to you…"
"Idiot, I don't have time to worry about you."
"Well good, because I'd probably just end up with even more injuries…"
"Am I interrupting something?" Gwaine said as he stepped out into the ruinous clearing, the other knights following close behind.
Arthur stood up from the fire, with Merlin following suit. He crossed his arms as he looked at the knights, smiling.
"So I take it the mission was a success?"
"Absolutely, not a single one conscious sire, and they should be out for quite a while according to Merlin's spell," Leon said, shooting Gwaine a venomous look as the knight grinned mischievously at him.
"Oh yes, both Leon and Lancelot had loads of feminine fun, as well as Percival…" Leon punched him in the stomach, and Gwaine doubled over coughing. Lancelot was still trying to get mud out from his ears.
"And Morgause?" Arthur inquired.
"Well strange thing actually," Elyan said lightly, as Gwaine proceeded to happily tell Merlin about each of the sorcerers' 'nightmares', "when we found her, she was already out cold!"
"What?" asked Merlin, momentarily distracted from Gwaine's tales of ghostly cross-dressing and chickens.
"Yea, we found her, and she was just on the ground completely knocked out! Don't know what happened there…" Elyan said, his brow furrowing as he spoke.
"Well whatever happened, this was a great victory for us, and I doubt Morgause will even think to come back here to finish her spell!" Arthur said triumphantly, his grin widening as his men let out a cheer.
"I'd also like to add that you idiots actually did manage to frighten not just one sorcerer, but six!" Merlin added cheerfully, a huge grin on his face. Gwaine put an arm around Merlin's shoulder and waved his flask around in the air.
"At a tavern! We must hurry to a tavern!" Gwaine yelled happily, as Leon tried to drag him off Merlin but laughing as he did so. Percival high-fived Elyan and Lancelot wrestled Arthur into a bear-hug, covering the prince in mud. Cursing Lancelot but still laughing, Arthur knew the mission was over. They had won.
"Alright men, time to march back to Camelot victorious! And who cares, let's hit the tavern on the way!" The prince shouted, with everyone cheering uproariously at the idea.
"Elyan, bet you ten pieces of silver I can make Merlin sing!" Gwaine said, as he grasped Merlin in a headlock.
"Gwaine! I don't sing, I told you that!" whined Merlin, as he fruitlessly attempted to escape from the knight's grasp.
"If you can make him sing, I'll pay you twenty pieces of silver, Gwaine."
"At that price, I can make him dance. Hell, I could probably make him sorcerize the cutlery into dancing!"
"Gwaine, you will do no such thing, I don't wish to explain to my father why my servant can make magic forks dance the jig.."
"Also Gwaine, sorcerize is definitely not a word.."
"There will be no sorcerizing of any kind."
"Arthur, don't be such a spoil sport. Merlin's gotta let his magic go free now! It's for the best!" Gwaine pulled merlin even tighter into his armhold.
With a flash of his eyes, Merlin flipped Gwaine over onto the forest floor, beautifully escaping from the knight's headlock. Percival let out a loud bout of laughter as Gwaine slowly sat up from the floor, laughing as well.
"How's that, Gwaine? That good enough 'freedom' for ya?" Merlin said impishly, unable to contain his grin. The knights laughed uproariously, with Arthur the loudest of them all.
And so the knights, a prince, and his advisor made their way through the forest to the tavern, each exchanging endless taunts and jokes until the sun rose back up.
OH MAN, It's done. It's all done. I can't believe it. What tiring work, with school I hardly had anytime to write, but I still had time to write, so there's no excuse for the lateness. I'm so sorry guys. It's probably not as funny as the last one, but I just had to write it. Also, once again I so appreciate the support I received. Unbelievable, you guys. I do have an idea for a completely new story, this time a very involved one, but I am not going to post it unless I have the entire thing planned out to prevent the same problem of procrastination again. This new story will be a bit more serious and dire than my comedy series, but I'll still squeeze some humor in it. If you are interested in me writing, let me know and I'll post a poll to see what others think, I want to try writing in a style more similar to George R. R. Martin's, though obviously nowhere near as well. I will also always respond to messages. Thank you guys so much once again. Season 5 Merlin is almost over!
Also, 10 points for people who think they can spot some references in this latest part of the story. Alright guys, I'm out. Reviews are loved as much as I love disney movies, which is a lot.
VIRGIN CLOAK, AWAAAAAAAAY~