Okay, peeps, I have some important things to say. Fern and I no longer live anywhere near each other. We're still going to try writing together though. We're partners after all. We've decided that I will be exclusively writing the A/Ns, and Fern will be replying to reviews from now on. (You might get both of us around Christmas time.) However, on the upside, I might be able to write more often now because I have a plan. Whenever my college is having a home football game, I will be writing fanfiction. The chapters will probably always be short, but you will at least be getting them.

Merlin's chest slammed into the ground with surprising force. He cried out in pain. He felt as though he couldn't draw breath.

Suddenly, something crashed down beside him. A tree. Merlin tried to calm himself. He only had the wind knocked out of him. His breathing should become normal in a minute. He just needed roll over and see what was happening. Then he could fight back.

Merlin barely twitched before another tree crashed on the other side of him. Then he heard another tree crashed nearby him. Panic swelled inside Merlin. Between the old age and lack of breath, he was having trouble mustering the strength to move at all. Then he heard another tree fall. And another. He finally pushed himself onto his back, even though he still couldn't breathe.

He couldn't see his assailant. However, he saw the next tree fall. And he now realized that his attacker didn't have bad aim. In fact, the aim was frighteningly precise. This person was trying to trap Merlin, not squish him. He tried to relax and catch his breath. He couldn't think.

Finally, as trees began to form a roof few feet above him, Merlin drew breath. He needed to escape. He couldn't let himself get trapped. Merlin inhaled again.

"Taflwch y coed i ffwrdd oddi wrthyf," Merlin shouted desperately. He launched his hands into the air in front of his face and flung his hands to the sides as if forcefully throwing open curtains. Magic burst from him in a shock wave. Trees shattered and flew in every direction.

Someone screamed. Merlin pulled himself off the ground as quickly as he could and hobbled to the source of the shriek. The long, horrifying scream soon became whimpers and sobs.

Merlin found the that woman who screamed was trapped under a tree. It was Ruby. She, being focused entirely on her pain, didn't notice the old man's presence. Everything from her hips down was crushed. She was going to die even if someone adept at healing magic was present. However, Merlin realized, she was going to die slowly. The tree had to be blocking a great deal of the blood flow. But if the tree was removed, she would quickly bleed out. The very thing that was killing her was also keeping her alive. It could be hours of agony before she finally died.

Even though Ruby didn't mean well to himself or Arthur, Merlin pitied her. Nobody deserved to die like that. He knew that she was going to die either way, but the least he could do was ease the passing. Whispering an incantation, he caused the tree trunk to rise—the abrupt change in pressure causing Ruby to scream again—and then fall nearby.

At that Merlin turned away and headed back to Camelot.

Finley hadn't slept properly in days. Every hour, day or night, she had to work on the enchantments for the amphora. Sadly, this job couldn't be shared with others. If multiple people worked on the bindings, then they would become poisoned. Therefore, the only assistance Finley could receive was wakeup calls. So, when she had completed the final binding, she had shoved the book aside and collapsed in exhaustion onto the bedroll that was positioned beside the enormous pot.

Being so tired, she didn't notice when something bumped into her leg. Even when a scream rang through the air she simply rolled over, thinking it was part of the dream. Finally, Finley woke to a sharp kick to the stomach. She cried out and automatically curled up in response to the pain.

"Get up," Rose ordered.

Finley glared as she sat up. "What's going on?"

"Ruby's gone."

Finley wanted to say this: Why does this matter to me? Oh, you mean that bimbo? Wait, you're right: she is stupid enough, but not pretty enough, to be classified as a bimbo. Good riddance anyway. Even her husband questioned her purpose in this group. And he's not even a great deal brighter than she is. Just let me go back to sleep. However, as much as she didn't like to admit it, Finley did realize that Ruby's absence was a serious problem. Ruby was extremely powerful, even if she was dumber than a rock. More importantly, Ruby knew too much. Reluctantly, Finley stood up.

Then a scream filled the air. Finley wasn't sure whether or not to hope that was Ruby. That woman's idiocy and power balanced each other out too evenly.

"Darby and Ashley are already running ahead," Rose said.

"Then why did you wake me up?" Finley asked crossly.

"If you're too stupid to figure it out, then go back to sleep."

Arthur lurched up with a cry of pain. He struggled to breathe. Merlin must have somehow gotten the wind knocked out of him. The prince really hoped that his servant had only clumsily fallen down something.

Grunting and struggling to breathe, Arthur forced himself out of bed and landed flat on the floor. His body ached from when he had aged spontaneously. He wasn't sure when they had aged. All Arthur knew was that, the last time he woke up all the way, he was old and bald. The prince had decided that he would deal with it in the morning. Now he was regretting that decision.

Arthur stood after finally drawing breath. He hurried into the corridors. Midway to Gaius's chambers, Arthur was forced to stop. He could continue if he needed to. However, judging by how his aching back, feet, and knees were shooting knives into him, Merlin was running. If Merlin was running, then the idiot was probably in danger. Which meant Arthur shouldn't run because Merlin didn't need extra pain as a hindrance. As he panted, he became aware of the palms of his hands; they were scraped and cut. "Merlin, you clumsy oaf," Arthur hissed.

Arthur walked slowly to Gaius's. He had to find out what was happening to Merlin. When he finally arrived at the physician's chambers, his breath hitched. There were no guards. He calmed himself. Them not being outside the door was possibly a good thing. He opened the door.

"Merlin!" Arthur croaked.

Gaius, who had been dozing, awoke with a start. "Sire?" The look Gaius gave was very odd. It seemed more… surprised than Arthur would have expected.

"Where's Merlin?" Arthur demanded.

"In bed."

"I'm going to check on him." He strode resolutely pass Gaius.

"He's resting."

"Doesn't hurt to be—" Arthur stopped. He had found his knights. Percival and Gwaine were passed out on the floor. "What happened to them?" Arthur asked Gaius.

"Well, sire, I tried to dissuade them."


"It seems they've gotten..." Gaius made a face as he motioned towards some jugs. "Drunk."

Arthur rolled his eyes and glared at the unconscious knights. "Fat amount of good you are," Arthur muttered as marched to Merlin's room.

"Sire, Merlin is just sleeping off the effects."

"No, he isn't drunk," Arthur snapped as he opened Merlin's door. "Merlin?" Arthur called on the off chance that Merlin was actually in there.

No answer. No surprise.

Arthur turned around and marched right back down. The prince grabbed a stool and placed it next to the sleeping forms of Percival and Gwaine. "Gaius," Arthur said as he sat down, "Go get Leon, Eylan, and Lancelot."

"Of course," Gaius replied.

As soon as Gaius left, Arthur began to kick his knights' shins. "There. Is. A. Reason. You. Aren't. Supposed. To. Drink. On. Duty."

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