A/N: And with this, the saga of the oversized, invisible rabbit traps is finished. I feel a little bad for Arthur's castle.
Merlin had gotten used to the Blocks as a necessary evil that he just needed to work around (and occasionally, through). Morgana, however, had no such experience. The castle woke to the sound of stone crumbling. The bell-ringer didn't even need his psychic gift to warn him of the danger; the explosive blast and scream of frustration had alerted him well enough. Merlin arrived in time to see the knights scurrying to opposite sides of the corridor as Morgana loosed a spark of energy at them.
"Where's the subtlety?" Gwaine called, tauntingly.
"Where's the army?" Arthur cried, reasonably, casting his gaze around as though expecting skeletons to rise from the very floor he stood on.
"I don't need an army!" Morgana screeched, stalking forward as the knights sensibly retreated further down the corridor. "Fight me like a man, Arthur! Don't hide behind your—"
She abruptly cut off as she slammed into a wall of air, staggering back clutching her nose. Arthur stared at his swearing half-sister, wondering if she had retained her sanity, or if it had finally been lost alongside her morality.
"Do not taunt me with petty tricks, Emyrs!" the cry was accompanied by half of the wall being blown apart to crash in pieces in the courtyard.
"Don't look at me," Merlin muttered under his breath, grudgingly grateful she'd cleared that Block for him; it would cut an extra ten minutes off his journeys to the laundry and back. Although she could have accomplished the same effect with much less damage; eager to emphasis her power he supposed. The dust cleared enough for them to see the murderous expression on her face; or…she could just be furious.
"Forbearne," she hissed, "wyrm." Flames from the hallway torches bowed to her command, coalescing into the fiery snake her magic guided. Merlin heard Elyan gasp in horror beside him. The snake reared, sparks of heat flickering from its mouth. Giving the knights a moment to let fear of her creation seep in, Morgana pinpointed the closest enemy. "Attack," she ordered her beast.
Before the creature could reach Percival, Arthur had dove in front of his knight, sword raised in desperate defiance. Morgana's laughter at the futility of the move died in a disbelieving choke as the fire snake screeched in pain upon meeting Excalibur's blade. Heat rushed Arthur, as he bowed his head against the onslaught; blind to the shimmering shield that reflected the worst of the danger.
Merlin decided now was as good a time as any to try his hand at interference.
"Morgana," the witch snapped her head to search behind her, frantic eyes shooting back to the assembled knights, guards and unfortunate servants caught up in the rush to reach her.
"Who are you?" she thundered back in response, wary of the voice in her head.
"I think you know that answer. Leave, while I still feel merciful."
"Emyrs," she hissed, eyes narrowing as she searched for sight of the old man she knew him as. "Did you think your weak barriers would hold me; that you could possibly prevent my progress with such a trick?"
Merlin was about to respond in the negative when a cunning thought flitted through his mind. He did need rid of those Blocks. "You will never move hidden through these corridors again, Morgana. My barriers have proven testament to that. You alert the very castle you seek to hide in when you dismantle them. Any army driven by magic will find themselves trapped like rats in a maze."
Watching the emotions and understanding of his words flit across her face; Merlin felt a moment of guilt for what he was encouraging to happen to Arthur's beloved castle. But really, Arthur only had himself to blame for letting the kitten-brained hunter wander so freely. Merlin was completely justified. And he was saving them all from the current situation, in a round-about way; yes, that was definitely his motivation.
Morgana's desire to rule Camelot won out over her need to kill Arthur right this second. And she would not risk any gathered army becoming an incompetent nuisance because of one warlock's need to humiliate her. She'd sensed the woven magic when she blasted the spell to kingdom-come; an enchantment like that needed preparation, timing, the favour of the moon. And she would return before he managed any such rebuilding of his frustrating traps.
"Then allow me to unbalance the playing field once more," she snarled, twisting her cloak around her as she activated her transportation spell. Merlin felt the pull of magic as she sought out 'his' Blocks, and crushed them one by one.
Huh, never realised that one was there, Merlin pondered as the echoing vibrations of magic travelled down to him. Oh, good, she found the first one, I have my shortcut back; the sound of stone crumbling as Morgana rushed her magic through the hallways searching was beautiful to his ears. Assuming she left the majority of the stone intact. Who would care; hardly any-one passes there anyway, I can just fix it next time I'm walking by.
Merlin fixed his look of excitement to one of pensive worry as Elyan stared over at him horrified. "I…we're still alive?" he asked, trying to explain his previous expression.
A screech of frustration and triumph sounded out from the corridor above them as another wall met the wrath of the mighty Morgana.
Light from the encroaching dawn tiptoed into the destructive renovations Morgana had graced the castle with the night before. Energy spent, and ego momentarily satisfied, the witch had retreated from the besieged fortress. Merlin drank in the approach of daylight as he stood at the edge of one of the new, open windows. Naming the large, ragged holes in the stonework 'windows' had done wonders in soothing his feelings of guilt.
The inhabitants of the castle swayed between relief at Morgana's departure, and horror at her redecorating. Although Merlin was sure he'd seen the odd relieved smile, quickly covered, by some of the more forgettable members of the castle staff as they realized the outcome of last night. He chuckled quietly; seemed there were a few more secrets wandering the castle than even he had suspected.
In the throne room, Arthur paced, shouting orders for masons and stoneworkers. Turning away to tend his king, Merlin headed down the corridor with a bounce in his step.
She's too cocky for her own good, he laughed quietly; she never even suspected I was lying.
In her hideout deep in the forest, Morgana celebrated with a roasted, freshly-caught hog.
He's too cocky for his own good, she realised gleefully; he never even suspected my magic could best his.
Deep in the kingdom, an eager, scatter-brained man peddled his wares. Dazing off into the gaze of nothing, he stood quietly for several moments. Passers-by jumped in shock as a loud, squealing laugh suddenly broke from his lips.
"Clever, clever Emyrs!" He exclaimed, oblivious to the crowd steering away from him in their travels. "Oh, you pass. You clutch your secret close, but still you pass. Clever, clever Emyrs!"
Shaking his head wildly to remove the lingering whispers of failed enchantments he spared one last chortle for the warlock who sabotaged his test. Albion's time would come, of that he was sure. But neither he, nor any other could hasten its arrival. He would just have to wait until Emyrs and the Once and Future King decided they were ready.