Merlin opened his eyes and groaned as his head seemed to split. Maybe he shouldn't have drunk that much the night before… ah well, it seemed to have helped him sleep. He got to his feet and immediately fell back onto the bed again as his head thumped painfully. Eventually, he realised he had to get up, and made his way, slowly down the stairs.
"So! Good afternoon Merlin. How did last night go for you…?" Gaius's voice seemed to thunder through his head, and Merlin slumped down onto the table, groaning in response. He looked up as a cup was placed in front of him, and grimaced when he realise what was inside it. Sure, it was great for a hangover, but it tasted… well, he didn't want to think about what it tasted like. He picked up the cup and downed he content in one, shivering at the terrible taste. He swilled it but with water, then one of Gaius's words came back to him.
"Why yes Merlin. You got back here at about one in the morning, waking me and Alice up as well, mind you…"
"Well… I was trying to be quiet…"
"And… you've been sleeping ever since. Its nearly three in the afternoon…"
"I slept for… fourteen hours?"
"Wow… It really is a good thing Arthur gave me the day off…"
"He gave you a day off? Why?"
"Oh… I was feeling a bit tired on the trip… and I guess he was feeling generous…"
"Seriously, I think he was just being nice."
Gaius knew Merlin was hiding something but let it drop.
"So, what do you intend to do with yourself? Your headache should be clearing up now, and I don't want you up here for the rest of the day complaining about how bored you are…"
"Well… If you made more of that damn drink, I could go to Gwaine? He drank a hell of a lot more than me…"
"And you want to see is face when he drinks it?"
"… Little bit Yeah." Merlin's grin had Gaius shaking his head.
"Fine… But I have work to do, so I don't want him up here after your blood…"
"You got it!"
Merlin went to change into fresher clothes, and came back down just as Gaius was ladling the drink into a flask.
"A few mouthfuls of this and he should be fine. How's your headache coming along?"
"It's gone… And I'm feeling better than I have in ages! Another night's sleep, like that, and I'll be absolutely back to normal."
"What do you mean? Back to Normal?"
"… Nothing. See ya Gaius!"
Merlin grabbed the flask and head out of the door. Thinking through Gwaine's timetable, he realised he would be at the training field, and head down through the courtyard.
"Oi! Merlin!" Bedivere caught him up and walked alongside him. "You heading to the training field?"
"Yeah. Got something to try and get rid of the headache I'm pretty sure Gwaine has."
"Well, he was complaining all morning… And hey, I didn't know you could dance…?"
"I haven't since I was a kid…"
"No no, You're good. Even Arthur was impressed."
"Are we really talking about dancing on our way to a field full of dangerous weapons and even more dangerous men?"
"… Fair point. So… have you ever trained with the weapons?"
Merlin burst out laughing,
"Well… Arthur used to knock me over the with them whenever the urge took him… And I guess I just can't use weapons…"
"Correction, you can't use a sword."
"Or a shield, or a mace, or pretty much anything…"
"Ah come on… I'm sure we could find something…?"
Merlin laughed again.
"Tell you what, if you can find a weapon I can use, I'll pay for any drinks you have at the tavern for the next month."
"Wow… Do you really get that much on a servants salary?"
Merlin agreed to accompany Bedivere to the weapons tents, but head over o Gwaine to give him a drink first. From the gruff reply, Merlin figured it was a good thing he had brought it. Leaving he rest for Peredur and Owain, who had both been a little heavy with the drinking, Merlin head over to the tents. Ducking inside, Merlin saw Bedivere holding a crossbow out to him.
"Because if you can aim and blast magic, you can aim and blast a bolt."
Merlin couldn't fault his reasoning, though he could fault the idea that he would be able to use it. Shaking I head, he positioned himself in front of a target, halfway across the field, and loaded the crossbow.
"This is gonna be so bad…" Merlin rumbled to himself, "I'll have to spend the rest of the day searching for the damn bolt…"
At Bedivere's nod, Merlin sighed, and raised the crossbow. Suddenly, he felt a sense of familiarity. He did do similar with magic… With this in mind, he let his instincts run his movements, avoiding magic. He released the bolt, and, to his surprise, it landed squarely in the bulls eye.
Merlin blinked. Then again. Did he just…
Bedivere whistled softly.
"Do that again Merlin…"
Merlin loaded the crossbow again, and lifted it up. Again, the bolt pierced he bulls eye.
Bedivere's laughter came from behind him.
"You know I'm going to the Tavern tonight… Right?"
"You do that. Dink a much as you lie. I owe you. Now, at least, I can honestly say I'm not completely useless…"
Bedivere patted him on the back and head over to where Percival and Leon were sparring. Merlin grinned. He could actually use a weapon. If only I wasn't so damn big and heavy. A thought sprung to mind and he raced off to the weapons tent again. He selected a small crossbow, from the rack, that was small and light enough to be held in one hand, and grasped an empty sword sheath from a corner. Using magic and his own ingenuity, Merlin cut the heath, then used the different sections to form straps around the base of the crossbow. He then used thin strips of the leather to create a harness for his hand. He put the straps and harness around his wrist, then finished securely attaching the crossbow to the web of leather. This took him the greater part of an hour, but, he hoped, it would be worth it. If it worked. Picking up several bots, he slotted them into a rotating chamber, and stepped outside. The idea was simple. By attaching it to his arm, it was out of the way, light and easy to use. He aimed and pulled on the strip of leather around two of his fingers. Immediately, the bolt fired, and hit just inside the bulls-eye. Merlin grinned. Now let Arthur try and say he was useless… Speaking of Arthur…
The king had just that moment stepped into the field, and was calling for Merlin.
Merlin ran over, folding in the sides of the crossbow and letting it get covered by his sleeve. It was actually rather comfortable…
"You called Sire?"
"Gaius told me you were down here… though why you are, I have no idea. We may have a problem…"
Merlin looked at the small, golden box, interested in the rune-ology on its lid. It was almost hypnotic. It had suddenly appeared on the round table, right where Arthur sat. Gaius had had no idea what the writing said, and Alice had only been able to translate the word Magic.
Hence the reason Merlin was here. He was about to reach out and touch it when he heard Kaden's voice in his head.
"Merlin…" Merlin got to his feet, calling to Arthur.
"Merlin… You must listen… we have heard of a plan… the brotherhood intend to rid you of your magic… we don't know how, but we know a plan is already underway… You must beware… Merlin…"
The voice faded, and Merlin realised that Kaden must have become too weak to keep the connection up.
"Arthur. It was Kaden. The have discovered that a plan is underway for the Brotherhood to take my magic… I'm guessing he box may have something to do with it…"
"Gee, ya think?" Arthur hadn't intended to sound so harsh, and was about to apologise when the lid of the box flew open. A back creature lunged out, directly at Merlin. Then another, then another. Merlin had ducked the first two, but the third was heading for his face. Merlin raised his hand, blasting at it with magic, but it seemed to have no effect. Arthur slashed it with his sword mere inches from Merlin's face.
"Merlin! Don't let them draw blood!" That was Gaius, and Merlin had no intention of ignoring the warning. "And don't attack with magic! Use weapons!"
"Gaius!" That was Arthur, who was scanning for the remaining two creatures. "This is Merlin we are talking about. He doesn't do weapons…"
At that, another creature lunged forward, and Merlin brought up his arm. His sleeve was pulled back and Arthur saw a crossbow contraption strapped on. Merlin fired a bolt, and it hit the creature dead centre, splattering it into pieces. Arthurs eyebrows rose.,
"I take it back. Where did you get that thing?"
"Made it… Well, most of it. Not the crossbow of course…"
Suddenly, the last of the creatures lunged at Gaius, and Merlin reacted faster than he had thought possible. He shoved Gaius out of the way, but was too slow to twist around, meaning that the creature latched onto his unprotected arm. He cried out as the creatures teeth pierced his skin, and he whipped it off. Arthur's sword cleaved the creature in half, but Merlin didn't see it a he suddenly felt dizzy.
"Merlin!" He faintly heard Gaius's voice as he felt himself fall to the floor. His vision was blurred, and the part of his arm that the creature ha bitten seemed to be on fire. Slowly, the fire seemed to spread through his body, and he felt himself convulsing. Then, it had gone. Merlin took a few deep breath, but realised that he felt no different form normal. Wait… something was missing… something… Merlin opened his eyes and sat up, seeing a ring of worried faces around him. Arthur helped him to sit upright, but Merlin was more focused on the fact that something was wrong… He wasn't sure what, but something was wrong…
"Merlin!" He heard Arthurs voice and pulled out of his reverie.
"How do you feel?"
"… Wrong… something is wrong…" suddenly, a thought occurred to him and he raised his hand, trembling slightly.
"Lonraigh…" Nothing happened. "Lonraigh…" Merlin felt nothing. Nothing happened… Nothing at all…
"Merlin?" Arthur looked as horrified as Merlin, as he figured out what had happened. None-the-less, he had to ask. "Merlin… What happened…?"
Merlin was silent for several moments, and when he spoke, he sounded lost.
"I guess the Brotherhood's plan worked…" His words held an undercurrent of disbelief as he spoke. That, combined with the lost and pained emotion in his voice made the next words even harder to hear.
"I've lost my magic…"