DISCLAIMER: I own nothing in this story but the story itself and the anonymous villains.
Hello. This is it, the last update on this story.
Here is the promised epilogue and I hope you like it:)
"Cunnan þu ábeþecest éadnes" the druid chieftain murmured, his white hair blowing in the breeze. Even though his voice was low, his words echoed clearly throughout the packed clearing, his midnight blue cloak billowing behind him as the wind picked up.
It was nearly dawn and the darkness was beginning to break into light, but it wasn't enough yet for Merlin to make out more than the shadowy shapes of the many figures that stood there, still and quiet as the trees surrounding them.
The silence felt almost alive, prickling at his skin, as Iseldir finally raised his right hand, ever so slowly.
They were standing in the clearing right next to the lake of Avalon, and Merlin felt very aware of that fact. It seemed to make the grim atmosphere even grimmer, knowing that he was so close to the place where he had laid Freya to rest, and where all the druids that had fought and died for them and for Albion would find their peace, too.
He stole a glance at Arthur. The future king was still dressed in his chain mail that was dirty with dried blood and mud, but had left the heavy armor in a pile somewhere at the edge of the clearing, like the rest of the knights did. The prince's face looked composed, some would say even emotionless, but Merlin could see the sadness, the guilt, in the thin line of his pressed lips and the slight crinkles at the corners of his eyes.
The warlock directed his gaze back at the back of the chieftain's head. He was close enough to the man to hear a whispered "Forbearnan" pass his lips.
And then the clearing suddenly exploded into a golden light as the pyre surrounded by dirty, tired druids and knights seemed to catch fire all of its own.
The murmurs of the crowd seemed to erupt from nowhere in particular, and soon enough everyone was whispering the same silent prayer, over and over again.
Merlin joined in, muttering with respect "Cunnan þu ábeþecest éadnes"
He could hear Arthur repeating the words along with the druids, as he could the knights behind him, even though their pronunciation was a little off.
But who cared about pronunciation anyway? Merlin had taught them the words earlier, as they were helping with creating the pyre and gathering the bodies.
They watched as the flames danced, chanting all the time. Even though he could barely stand, even though he felt tired and sore and his eyelids seemed to drift closed every time his attention strayed too much into the blazing fire, he stood there, his mouth forming the words.
At one point he almost fell, his knees buckling slightly, but a hand was around his shoulder faster than the blink of an eye.
Merlin threw Arthur a grateful look and the prince just nodded, only releasing his friend after making sure that the warlock could stand without falling.
He could feel the prince's concerned gaze on him watching him carefully after that.
As the flames grew smaller, the sun rose higher.
They stood there until the pyre turned to nothing more than ashes and the only remnant of the brilliant flames was a lone streak of black smoke.
Then the crowd dispersed, the druids starting to move and stretch. Merlin turned to the other knights.
Percival, Leon and Elyan looked dead on their feet, their chain mail as dirty as all of their clothes. He didn't want to think what he himself looked like. Now, in full daylight, everyone seemed to look even worse.
Arthur too looked like the living dead, although the prince was managing to keep up the appearance of a proud, royal soldier. (or, as merlin liked to put it, arrogant prat)
Only Gwaine seemed cheerful and energetic, the dirt and blood on his face and the rings under his eyes contrasting with his loud tone and happy skipping around, as he blabbered on about God-knew-what to his new friend, the one that had apparently saved Arthur. (Isaac was it?)
These days, the question was who didn't save Arthur.
Iseldir approached the group, the reigns of a horse in his hands and the animal trudging after him. The chieftain handed the reigns to Arthur.
Iseldir smiled and shook his head. "I am only sorry you cannot stay and rest with us."
Merlin gave a small smile. "Thanks, but we've been missing for a while and the last thing we need is a search party coming and finding you here."
"Merlin is-" Arthur began and threw a warning glance at the warlock, muttering something along the lines of "and I can't believe I'm saying this" under his breath, "-right. We cannot delay any longer. But we are forever indebted to you and I promise we will meet again. I will come and we shall see how the problem of magic can be solved. You will not leave in fear for much longer, that I swear"
Iseldir smiled and bowed.
"I bide you good luck and should you need anything, you are always welcomed." He threw Merlin a knowing look. "I trust Emrys here knows how to find us."
Iseldir turned and started walking away towards his people.
"That's it then, let's go" Arthur said and mounted his horse, while Merlin and the rest mounted theirs.
Only Gwaine took longer, giving Isaac one last powerful pat on the shoulder (the boy visibly winced, not that Gwaine would notice) throwing him one of his charming smiles.
"Well the, see you later, mate. And do think about that job, will you? I'm sure Arthur wouldn't mind having one of you in the palace once we've settled everything, eh?"
The young druid smiled heartedly at his new friend. "I promise. Have a good journey"
Isaac bowed at the prince and started walking towards his people, turning to wave happily at them with his uninjured hand.
"Some long journey we've got ahead of us, right?" said Gwaine and gave a very loud laugh that made all of the tired knights (plus manservant) wince, then started trotting towards the visible peaks of Camelot.
They followed in silence, even Arthur too exhausted to threaten Gwaine more than once to stop his whistling.
Finally, after about an hour or so, they reached the walls of the citadel.
Merlin saw the guards flinch and their eyes widening as Arthur led them past the gates, and had to wonder if they really looked that bad.
He looked around and noticed other people staring, too. He realized they must've looked worse than he thought, but frankly he couldn't find it in his heart to care.
He dismounted in front of the stables. Servants hurried to take the prince's and knights' horses away, gaping openly at them, and Arthur even had one servant take Merlin's horse. Not one of them was in any fit state to do anything besides sleep right now, and the warlock knew that was probably what all of them were going to do. Anything else could wait.
They stood there in a circle in front of the stables, covered in dirt and blood, exhausted and sore, and looked at each other for a couple of minutes.
So much had changed since that day a month ago, Merlin could hardly wrap his brain around it. Never had he imagined he's be standing here, all of the knights of the round table aware of his magic, all of them having fought in the same war against Morgana alongside magic and aided by magic.
A war nobody knew about. Every servant, courtier, knight, commoner, ever person who passed them by or didn't, every soul living in the city had absolutely no idea how close they had come to oblivion.
They had no idea of the war they had fought for them.
Most of them probably thought the knights and prince had gone on a hunting trip that had gone wrong. Some, who were aware of their fake cover story, thought they had found the mysterious sorcerer Emrys and dealt with him.
None of them had any idea.
But they knew.
Elyan, Percival, Gwaine, Leon, Arthur and Merlin knew.
The six friends broke into identical knowing grins at the same time and stood there, smiling like idiots at one another, for a full minute. There would be now grand feast to celebrate their victory, but they didn't need one. They had one another.
Gwaine was the one who broke the circle, heading off with a wave and an "Well, I'm off. don't expect me at training tomorrow, though" The rest of them followed with a snort and a shake of their heads, walking towards their respective beds.
Arthur lingered a moment longer, enough to put a tired hand on the warlock's shoulder.
"Merlin" he announced.
Prince and warlock locked blue gazes for a long second, in which a silent conversation was carried.
"You need to clean my armor" he finally said.
Merlin grinned and muttered "Prat" before they went straight for their beds.
The boy walked into the Court Physician's chambers, ignoring the looks he received, and silently thanked the gods Gaius wasn't there. He then promptly slumped into his bed face down and closed his eyes.
He fell asleep instantly, with a smile on his face. The air felt like a very beautiful and fresh beginning.
I cannot believe I have finished this story. I feel so good and so sad at the same time.
I'd like tot hank all of you for your support and for reading my words. You all mean more to me than you can imagine.
What else is there to say? Thank you again. Thank you:)
Oh, and if the translator I used is correct, then "Cunnan þu ábeþecest éadnes" should mean "May you find peace"
I guess I'll see you in the next story.
Bye, for now^^