Merlin was awakened by a very loud mechanical noise ringing in his ears. He had never heard such a noise before, and he began to worry. But the sound ended as quickly as it came.
"Merlin, get up! Arthur needs you," Gaius said, knocking on his door.
He groaned in response, covering his head with his pillow. Reluctantly kicking off his sheets, Merlin quickly dressed, wolfed down his breakfast, and set off to "his royal highness'" chambers. Merlin wanted to get through whatever task Arthur gave him as quickly as he could so he could investigate that strange noise. He had a strange feeling about it…
Walking at a steady speed, he went down the castle's corridors without effort, for, by now, he knew the way around better than he knew himself. When he got into Arthur's chambers, he knocked on the door once, and without waiting for a response, rushed inside.
"Merlin, what have I told you about coming in here unann –"
"Yeah, yeah. Very sorry, sire. What do you need?" he interjected.
Arthur began to speak, but Merlin cut him off again.
"Ahh," he said, surveying the lavish interior, "is it your armor that needs cleaning? I'll get right to it then."
Gathering up the armor, he scurried out of the room. He just shut the door before hearing an exasperated, "MERLIN – "
He flew down several flights of stairs, threw Arthur's equipment in the armory (he'd get to it later), and started to exit the palace to the Lower Town. Merlin had a feeling to go there; besides the face he suspected nothing magical to occur within the citadel.
Passing by small cottages and merchants opening shop, Merlin impatiently jogged along the dusty road looking for answers. Not paying much attention, Merlin accidently bumped into a lanky man walking with two other people in very strange attire.
"Oi! Watch it, mate!" he said, before the girl he walking with shushed him, and whispered, "Rory!"
Continuing along, he put the mental group behind him. It seemed he was walking for ages before he reached an exit to the forest from the kingdom. All that was near was the tavern. Reluctantly, Merlin stepped inside, looking for answers (if Arthur saw him walk in here, he would never hear the end of it…).
Inside. The shabby tavern was dark and dusty. There were barely any people – only the serving wench wiping down the counter, and a few drunks still chugging mead from the night before.
A hand grasped Merlin's shoulder. Turning around cautiously, he saw who it was.
"Meeeerrrrllllliiiiinnnnnn!" Gwaine exclaimed with a sloshing drink in his hand, "Care to join us?"
Laughing, Merlin responded, "No thanks, Gwaine. Shouldn't you be on patrol?"
"It's my day off! Come on! Just one drink…on me!" he demanded , extremely tipsy.
"No, it's almost seven in the morning. But listen, have you seen anything suspicious or peculiar?"
"The only thing peculiar I've seen is that girl denying me…" he slurred, pointing at the girl rolling her eyes behind the bar.
Merlin sighed. "Thanks, anyway."
Turning away, he almost gave up his search before Gwaine added, "…and that attractive redhead in funny dress slapping me when I asked for a kiss when she stepped out of that blue armoire outside. What's wrong with these women, Merlin? I'm handsome, riiiight?"
Not listening anymore, his heartbeat quickened as he remembered those passerbys.
"Thanks, Gwaine!" he said. Merlin left out the back door to see if this box was real, or a figure of Gwaine's drink imagination. He expected the latter.
But, to his surprise, Gwaine was right. Sitting on a pile of hay was a blue box, something you might see in the future. It was magnificent – Merlin unknowingly moved closer to it. Reaching out hesitantly, he laid his hand on the box, and in his mind he heard the noise from a few hours prior, saw a raggedy man and his two friends and impossible things.
With tears beginning to well up in his eyes from shock, he took off his hand from the box and thought about what he saw. Then, Merlin remembered the strange trio and thought, Arthur's in danger!
He ran toward the citadel as fast as he could, trying to put the magic box out of his mind.