AN: Hey guys, so sorry for the wait. I was in the hospital and had to catch up on my other stories before starting this one. This is the longest chapter I've ever written for this story because I felt bad about the wait. Please be dolls and leave a review or comment! Sorry for any mistakes, I don't have a beta and after the 20th page I was nearly seeing double.
Jesslynn77: Thanks so much! I'm glad you like the story so far, especially since you don't like fem!Merlin stories. Thanks for giving this a chance! As for Arthur dying, I tend to be girlie and like happy endings, lol. So I don't actually know what I plan to do with that. I might not actually write season 5, as it'd be hard to fit it into my story as I've written it so far. But we shall have to wait and see. Thanks for reading and dropping a review!
Barbara: Thanks so much! I'm glad you gave my story a shot and are enjoying it so far.
Guest: Thanks! Sorry for the wait! I hope you like this chapter.
Ghg: Thanks for reading!
Susan: Wow, thanks so much! I'm delighted you found the story and have enjoyed my spin on the show. I hope you like this chapter too!
Leafygreen16: Thanks! Glad you liked it.
AN: I own nothing related to Merlin.
Chapter 22: Past Truths Revealed
"What are you doing?" Arthur's exacerbated voice followed her as Emerlyn dismounted and pulled a bag off the saddle.
"I need to set up a privacy ring so we're not discovered and the horses can't wander." The witch answered as she led her mount to the small stream she'd stopped by to let the horse drink after their short journey.
"A what?" The prince's face showed his confusion as he got off his stallion, watching as Emerlyn pulled a jar of sand from her bag and uncorked it.
"A privacy ring. It will confuse anyone who comes near into thinking nothing is here and they should move on. It's very convenient, actually. Now keep the horses on this side of the stream." Arthur had to bite his lip to keep from saying something about her commanding tone, realizing that this was really something he didn't understand.
Keeping a hold of the horses' leads, Arthur watched as Emerlyn started chanting quietly as she walked in a wide circle around the bushes and stream. It was the first time she'd used magic in front of him knowing he knew and it was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time. Her hands shook as she sprinkled the sand clockwise around the area that was to be hidden, heart pounding loudly in her ears.
For the prince, it was just as nerve-racking, as every instinct he had told him to put a stop to this. He'd been raised to view every use of magic as evil and even though he'd accepted Emerlyn's secret and would protect her no matter what, it was bizarre to just stand by while she did a spell. He tried to concentrate on how beautiful she looked in her strange purple outfit instead, eyes trailing the emphasized curves before he shook his head and looked away.
Emerlyn connected the circle and smiled when it gave a faint white glow before that faded and the area was secure. She'd made the circle wide enough so the horses could move around and nibble on the surrounding foliage while also having access to the stream. Placing the empty jar back into her bag, the raven haired beauty slung it over her shoulder and turned toward Arthur.
"So can we speak freely now?" The blonde questioned, releasing the reins from his hold and moving towards her.
"No. They would hear us if we stayed here. We must go somewhere truly private."
Smiling at his confusion, Emerlyn wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pulled his mouth down to hers. Arthur tensed for a moment before relaxing, hands settling on her hips to keep her flush against him as he slanted his mouth to get a better angle. She gave a small little mewl as their tongues danced for a moment before she pulled back, looking up at him with bright eyes.
"Do you trust me?" The question was heavy with her uncertainty, her hands tensing on his shoulders as she waited for his answer. Arthur brought a hand up to cup her cheek, thumb stroking over her soft skin.
"We wouldn't be here if I didn't." Giving a small smile at his words, Emerlyn nodded and pulled him against her until there wasn't any space separating them.
"Then close your eyes." The blonde gave a quirked brow before he complied with her request, his hold on her tightening when he was forced into darkness, not wanting her out of his reach.
Sliding one hand into his hair to keep his head tilted down next to hers and the other banding around his shoulders, Emerlyn pressed a gentle kiss to his cheek as she teleported them away from the circle. Arthur gasped as his body jerked, feeling as if he was being stretched painfully in two different directions, as if he was being dismembered.
When his feet hit the ground, the prince barely had time to shove Emerlyn away before he collapsed to his knees and vomited. Emerlyn knelt down next to him, hand stroking down his back as he heaved, his body shaking with the force of them.
"Oh Arthur, I'm so sorry! I didn't know it'd be like this." The witch murmured he panted, the churning in his stomach finally stopping to allow him to draw breathe into his burning lungs.
"W-what happened?" He asked after a moment, resting his head back against her shoulder as he tried to get his bearings. Emerlyn stroked a hand over his hair, trying to sooth him.
"I teleported us. I had no idea you'd react this way. I'm so sorry." She answered, making him jolt in surprise, his eyes shooting open to look around.
They were next to a large pond, the water sparkling in the early morning light, trees and shrubbery surrounding the far sides of it. Where they rested was open, a trail leading up over a small hill towards the large castle he spotted, which was unlike any he'd seen before.
The stones were an iridescent white that sparkled brightly, as if the entire structure was adorned with the finest of opals; he'd never seen anything like it before. Camelot prided itself on being the most beautiful castle in the five kingdoms, but this put his beloved home to shame as he doubted there was ever a more stunning structure in the world.
"Where are we?" He asked as she helped him up, trying not to be embarrassed that he'd reacted so poorly while Emerlyn was perfectly fine.
"The Isle of the Blessed."
"What?" Arthur stopped short, his eyes widening more as he glanced around, not knowing if she was being honest or pulling his leg. He'd only heard of the Isle as being a myth, not an actual real place.
"You wanted me to explain everything to you and I couldn't do that without bringing you here."
Emerlyn pulled him towards a stone bench that sat in front of the pond, taking her daggers out of her boots before sliding them off and setting the items to the side. Arthur watched as she crossed her legs underneath her, sitting so she was facing him on the bench, the skirt's slits exposing her creamy thighs.
"It's probably best if I start from the beginning. That way it's less confusing." She said before taking a deep breath, hoping he still trusted and believed in her when it was all over. She began like she said she would, from the very beginning.
Arthur listened, fascinated, as she told him about discovering she had magic when she was young and how she'd had to try and hide it from her village, all the while using it to help her and her mother so their lives were a little easier. How she'd leveled a quarter mile of trees when she'd tried not to use her magic and it'd exploded from her violently; how she'd learned to burn off the excess to avoid that ever happening again.
When she got to the part about coming to Camelot, Arthur sat straighter, interested in just what all she'd gotten up to since moving there. Since he'd learned of her secret he'd had an endless supply of questions and was glad they were finally being answered, even when it seemed like she was leaving certain things out. But he figured it was most likely to protect those that resided in Camelot and practiced magic, as she still refused to divulge who they were, no matter how he pestered her.
Emerlyn slid her boots back on and tucked her daggers inside before grabbing his hand and standing, wanting to give him a tour of the island as she spoke of her eight years away. Arthur was stunned as he listened, never having imagined anything like that was possible; although, it did explain just how she'd gotten so good at everything.
The witch explained about Rhiannon and how she'd pulled her outside of time to train her in both magic and self-defense, pointing out which buildings took the longest to restore as they walked through the town up towards the castle. Even though questions piled up in his head, the prince remained silent so he could take everything in.
They ended up in the kitchen by the time she finished her story, the witch pulling out two goblets from a cupboard and filling them from a barrel holding spiced wine. Handing the prince a cup, she took hers to the table she's spent most of her meals at, as it was a lot more informal than the great hall. Arthur sat in front of her, sipping the drink as he tried to get a grasp on everything she'd revealed.
"So if we're here, does that mean we're outside of time?"
"No. Rhiannon was the one who was able to do that. I don't have that ability, as it's beyond human grasp. That's why I wanted to leave early; so that we had enough time to talk before we needed to get back to Camelot." He nodded, staring down at the scared wood as his mind whirled.
"So, uh, do you have any other questions?" Emerlyn asked after the silence stretched on, making her fidget on the bench as she waited for him to speak. It was the most terrifying experienced she'd ever had, telling him the truth, and she was afraid his view of her had forever been altered.
"I…it's a lot to take in." Arthur said before downing the rest of his wine, eyes rising to lock with her worried gaze.
"You really spent eight years here?"
"Yeah. It was…lonely." She nodded, her voice catching as she thought about the years she'd spent away from her loved ones. While Rhiannon had tried to keep her company, her heart had ached from her separation and it hadn't eased until she'd been back in Camelot and seen Arthur once more.
"You're remarkable." Emerlyn's eyes widened at the compliment, as she hadn't expected anything like it. Arthur quickly stood and pulled her up, mouth taking possession of hers, hands cradling her head as he plundered her.
Emerlyn moaned against his lips, her hands coming up to twist in his hair, relieved he didn't seem upset about her revelations. His hands slid down from her face until they settled at her hips, where he lifted her and sat her on the table, his body resting between her spread knees. He poured all the emotions he struggled to speak into the kiss, making her head spin and her skin to break out into goosebumps as she let him control the kiss.
Pulling away, Arthur's breathing was ragged as he pulled at the small purple jacket she wore, the two struggling as the long sleeves caught at her elbows before they were able to get it off, the material falling to the floor. Her dress was held up by thick straps, the material cut provocatively, her breasts pushed together to create cleavage between the cups of the corset, which were held together by a thin cord. She was delectable.
Arthur's mouth made a hot path down her bare shoulders, his tongue tasting her skin as he moved to the tops of her breasts. Emerlyn sighed, resting back on her hands so her back was arched, giving him better access to her body. When he pulled the cord free so he could tug the cups down, the witch groaned, the cool air making her peaks harden before one was taken into his mouth.
"Arthur." Emerlyn murmured, watching as he suckled her before he switched to the other breast, hands rising to cup the soft mounds, fingers tweaking the neglected nipple and making her mewl in pleasure.
"If you don't want me to rip this, you need to get it off. Now." Arthur said when he pulled back, nodding at her outfit before he stepped away to jerk his tunic off, his boots and trousers following.
Emerlyn's mouth went dry at the sight of him, as his extra training had paid off in the form of an expertly sculpted body. She'd seen him without a shirt on before she'd left, but since being back, the woman couldn't help but appreciate the broad shoulders and defined stomach, her fingers always wanting to trail through the small blonde hairs that littered his chest.
Working quickly, the witch released the green leather waist cincher before removing her boots, careful not to cut herself on the daggers in her haste. But she'd apparently taken too long, as Arthur was suddenly grabbing her hips and twisting her around so she was facing the table, his hands tugging on the laces of her dress while his mouth settled on her shoulder, teeth nipping at her until she was nearly panting.
Arthur finally got the dress loose enough that he was able to jerk it down her body, Emerlyn kicking it away to keep from tripping over it. But when she tried to turn, the prince's large hands splayed across her stomach to keep her in place as his lips moved down her spine, making her shudder.
Confident she would stay put, Arthur made quick work of untying the ties to her underpants and pulling the fabric away, Emerlyn shivering as she was exposed. He mumbled something against the small of her back that she couldn't decipher, but the thought was quickly driven from her mind as his mouth skimmed down the curve of her buttocks, her legs spreading on their own accord the closer he got to her center.
Arthur pushed her right leg up until it was bent over the table, exposing her to his seeking gaze, the prince having to swallow as desire consumed him at the sight. She was pink and swollen, glistening in the dim candlelight; Arthur couldn't resist her, wanting to hear her moan and wither against him. It was one of his favorite things in the whole world and he tried to make it a reality as often as possible.
Emerlyn's hips twitched as she gasped when his tongue flicked out to taste her, her hands gripping the table as she tried not to move. The position he'd put her in wasn't exactly comfortable, as she had to stand on her tip toes to keep her hip from protesting, but she didn't mind as Arthur's mouth settled over her, his hands gripping her hips to keep her still.
But as his tongue and lips teased her, the witch couldn't stop her hips from jerking, wanting more of him within her. When one finger eased inside of her, Emerlyn's head fell back on her shoulders as she let out a loud moan, her inner muscles clamping tightly around his stroking digit. Arthur smirked as his lips enveloped the small nub that always caused the most pleasure, sucking strongly while he added a second finger, delighting in the moans coming from her.
"A-Arthur, I'm—ah!" Emerlyn grunted as her body clenched tightly, fire bursting from her center and traveling throughout her body, leaving her nerves tingling and her panting.
Sliding up her body, Arthur claimed her mouth in a heated kiss over her shoulder as his cock slid across her moist lips, making her shudder with every movement. One hand gripped her hip while the other one came up to knead her breast, Arthur nipped at her lips before pulling away, their gazes holding as he aligned himself and thrust forward, making them both moan.
Emerlyn's head rested back on his shoulder as she tried to keep herself from skidding across the wood as Arthur continued to thrust powerfully into her, the motion rocking her body forward with every stroke. She would most likely ache afterward from where her hip was hitting the table, but all that mattered in that moment was the pleasure coursing through her body.
Even though it was fast and rough, she'd never felt closer to him. All her secrets were out in the open and he still accepted her, still loved her. Nothing she'd told him had turned him away from her and Emerlyn could feel their bond grow even stronger now that they had honesty between them, allowing their love to deepen until she thought she'd drown in it.
Arthur kissed her shoulder, the tender gesture contrasting the ferocity of his thrust, making her pull her right arm up so her fingers could clench in his hair and pull his mouth against hers. The hand he had on her breast slid down her body until he reached where they were joined, fingers slipping through her folds in search of her precious little nub.
The first touch made her jerk away from his mouth so she could mewl loudly, hips lurching against his hand as heat began to settle in the bottom of her stomach. Smirking, Arthur kissed her chin before settling his lips against her throat, sucking against the sensitive skin as he increased his rubs as his hips continued to surge against hers strongly.
Emerlyn couldn't take the onslaught; her entire body tensed as she gave a loud scream, an inferno surging through her body until she thought she had actually caught fire. Arthur's thrusts continued as he neared his own climax, her inner muscles squeezing him so tightly it was almost painful. But her silken heat was the most amazing feeling and was quickly sending him to the breaking point.
A few more strokes and he was emptying himself within her, his head falling to rest against her shoulder as he panted, his heart still racing. Emerlyn was limp, her body spent as she rested against him, hoping he had enough strength to keep them both up, as she'd lost feeling in both her legs.
They stayed like that for several minutes before Arthur pulled away, muscles twitching from the exertion. He helped her lower her leg, his large hands smoothing over her soft skin as he placed little kisses along her neck and shoulders.
Sighing, Emerlyn turned to face him, smiling gently at him as she rested her head against his chest, still coming down from their passionate coupling. Biting her lip, she concentrated on the room she'd claimed as her own, sending them both there.
Arthur jerked in surprise, but unlike the first time, he was only slightly nauseous and didn't have the need to purge. Stepping back, the witch grinned at him playfully before sauntering to a connecting room, where the deep claw-foot tub Rhiannon had given her was located, water filling it as she approached.
"What is that?" He questioned, following her into the room, which was clearly meant for washing.
"A bathtub." She said over her shoulder before stepping into the warm water, grabbing a bottle that rested on a shelf next to the tub and poured the liquid into the water. As he moved to stand next to the strange white basin, the smell of vanilla greeted him, making it clear she'd poured oil into the water to scent it and her skin.
"Aren't you going to join me?" Emerlyn asked shyly, as they'd never shared a bath before. With their wooden tubs, it wasn't really practical to share a bath, especially when the water cooled quickly. But there was something extremely intimate about wanting to share a bath and she was worried he would refuse.
But Arthur stepped into the tub and slowly submerged himself so they were facing each other, Emerlyn's legs rising until they could rest on top of his, as his legs were on either side of her hips. Smiling at him, the witch started unbraiding her hair as he enjoyed the water that was at just the right temperature, which was hard to come by without magic.
"You never told me what my destiny was."
"What?" She asked in confusion, summoning the brush she had in her room so she could brush the knots out of her curls.
Arthur watched the casual display of magic in fascination, amazed at just how much she could do without even thinking about it. It explained how she'd been able to complete her insane list of chores, even on the days he threw in pointless ones just to annoy her.
"You said the Dragon, who I'm still amazed is living under the castle, said you were supposed to help me. But you didn't go into details about it or what my destiny is." Arthur answered as he watched her, finding the motion of her combing her hair strangely erotic. But with her being naked and wet, it really shouldn't surprise him, as anything she did like that would be sensual.
Emerlyn sighed and sat the brush aside, leaning over to grab the sponge from the shelf and dipping it in the water before sitting forward. Arthur's breath caught as she skimmed the soft sponge across his chest, her hand following after it and leaving a trail of heat in its wake.
"It is a great burden to know you own destiny, Arthur. Mine weighs on me every day; it threatens to pull me down into despair and hopelessness. I have such a great responsibility that I have to remind myself every day that the gods wouldn't have given it to me if I couldn't handle it. But that is little conciliation when I've failed or someone has been hurt because of me."
As she spoke, Arthur could see the pain in her eyes and the heaviness she spoke of, making him realize just how much she'd had to deal with. And by herself, too afraid to be honest for fear of being executed. She was stronger than anyone he'd ever known and his heart swelled even more for her, if that was even possible.
"Trust me, Arthur, it's better not to know. Our densities might have been prophesized eons ago, but it's our choices that will shape the world we live in. Never forget that we have free will and we make our own choices, and we must bear the consequences of those decisions."
"How'd you ever make me believe you were an idiot?" Emerlyn laughed at his question and shrugged, the movement drawing his attention down, where her breasts seemed to float, beckoning, tempting.
Unable to resist, Arthur cupped the mounds in his hands, thumbs stroking over the pebbled peaks and making her sigh in pleasure. Pulling him to her, Emerlyn slid into his lap, his hardening member resting against her thigh as she captured his mouth with hers.
They needed to get back to Camelot, but Emerlyn figured they had enough time for another go around. And she really wanted to see what if felt like to make love in the water.
Once Arthur had gotten over the initial shock of Emerlyn's tale, he was firing question after question at her, from her actually killing Nimueh to what the differences in ranks among the magic practitioners meant. She was very open with her answers, only hedging around the truth when someone, like Morgana or the druids, was in danger of being discovered.
It wasn't that she didn't trust the prince, because after learning he'd kept her secret from his father for months now, it was impossible not to. But she'd taken a vow to protect her allies and keep their confidences, so it was out of the question to reveal their secrets to Arthur, no matter how much she loved him. If she broke her word, no one would ever trust her and the groundwork she'd made over the summer would be destroyed, leaving them vulnerable.
And she kept Mordred's true part in their destinies to herself, only telling him that they should avoid the boy as much as possible. He'd questioned her about it, as he'd thought they had an understanding since he helped smuggle Mordred out of Camelot, but Emerlyn just insisted the boy was no friend of theirs. She got so worked up about it that Arthur realized she was dead serious and agreed not to pursue the druid, if only to make her relax and stop yelling at him.
They returned to the castle by midafternoon, Arthur claiming Emerlyn's idiotcy for why he had no game upon their return, which she just took in stride. If they didn't have to kill cute fluffy creatures, than she was more than happy to take the blame, especially when it wasn't a punishable offense. And besides, she knew how much Arthur respected her now and that they had to keep up appearances, so it didn't bother her.
She was quickly pulled into preparations for the knighting ceremony, so the two separated, Arthur off to hang with his men and Emerlyn off to make sure his armor was polished and his cape clean. She was thankful for the space, as she'd bared her soul that morning and needed some time to recover.
The minute the armored knight came into the room, Emerlyn could feel the power radiating off them. Whoever it was had a lot of power, the type that came from years of tutoring and practice, meaning the person had been taught similar to how Emerlyn had been. Which meant they were a threat.
Not wanting the individual to have a chance to sense her immense power, the witch sucked her magic inside of herself so that it wasn't projected anymore. There was always the threat of someone with magic discovering her and telling Uther to save their own necks, so she'd gotten adapt at pulling her magic within herself to remain hidden. It wasn't very comfortable though.
Throat tight, Emerlyn watched as Arthur stepped forward through the recently knighted men, sword drawn as he prepared to defend his father. But the person in the armor made no move to draw their own weapon; instead, they pulled the gauntlet off their left hand and tossed it at Arthur's feet.
"Oh no." Emerlyn whispered, drawing Gaius's and Gwen's attention, who she was standing next to. There was no way the prince would refuse to accept the challenge, which was proven when he picked the gauntlet up, much to the witch's irritation. Just once could he be less honorable?
"I accept your challenge. If I'm to fight you, reveal your identity courteously." The knight reached up and pulled the helmet off, surprising the onlookers when long blonde hair fell and a woman's face was revealed.
"My name is Morgause." Morgana furrowed her brow as she got her first glimpse of the woman, something oddly familiar about her. She knew she'd never met this Morgause before, but there was definitely something about her that made the lady curious.
"Leave us." Uther's voice commanded loudly, glaring at the blonde woman as he motioned for the hall to be emptied. Emerlyn met Arthur's eyes before she followed everyone out of the large throne room, wishing she had a moment to warn the prince.
"Geoffrey, I want to know if this challenge is valid." The king demanded before grabbing Arthur's arm and ushering him out of the room, the old librarian hurrying back to his domain to find answers.
"There is nothing to be done. I must fight her." Arthur said when he came into his chambers, brow furrowed. Emerlyn stepped forward and started to help him remove his armor.
"Do you know who she is?"
"No, I've never heard of her. No one has. It's as if she appeared from thin air." The prince grumbled as the metal clanked together.
"Unless she was hidden." Emerlyn's voice was quiet, but since she was standing so close to him, Arthur heard.
"What're you talking about?" Biting her lip, the witch pulled the breastplate off him and sat it on the table before turning back to face him as he shrugged off his chainmail.
"She has magic. I felt it when she walked into the room." She revealed, shocking the blonde.
"Yes. She did not bother concealing it and it called out to my own magic strongly." Arthur's expression grew worried as he stepped forward, hands going to her upper arms.
"Will she be able to detect you?" The note of concern in his voice warmed her more than it probably should, but she was perfectly alright with it. It was always nice to be reminded that he cared deeply for her, as she did him.
"No, I hid my power immediately. She shouldn't have any idea about me since I don't think she was scanning for other magic users. I should be fine. It's you I'm worried about, Arthur. What if she's come to kill you? We must tell the King she possess magic."
"No, we cannot accuse her without proof, and she hasn't demonstrated using magic. If I accuse her of such, I will be seen as attempting to get out of the challenge. I would be perceived as a coward and I will not have anyone question my honor."
"And what if she uses magic in the arena? It will be too late." Emerlyn replied in irritation, arms crossing over her chest.
"That is what you are meant to prevent, is it not, Emerlyn?" Arthur quirked a brow at her, lips twitching into a smile as his hands settled on her shoulders and started a massage.
"And if I cannot? What then? Am I to just watch you die because you were more concerned with your honor than your life?" She demanded angrily, stepping away from him with a glare.
"You think she's going to defeat me?" The prince questioned, feelings obviously hurt at her lack of faith. Emerlyn groaned and turned to the table that held his armor, grabbing the polish rag before working at a wrist brace angrily.
"I'm saying you've never faced a woman in combat before Arthur, and she has magic. What if you hesitate and she uses that to her advantage? She's already killed 5 knights with only her sword; there's no telling what she'll do in the arena."
"If she was going to use magic, wouldn't she have already done so?" He asked, leaning against the mantle above the unlit fireplace, shoulders slumped as the situation weighed on them.
"No, not necessarily. If you remember, Sir Valiant did not intend to show his plan until it was too late to stop it had I not intervened."
"Fine. If you're that concerned about it, you will take a message to Morgause for me. If I'm seen to do it, it could be viewed as cowardice, even though we both know I'm prepared to face her, despite the fact that she's a woman. You must persuade her to withdraw the challenge." Arthur said after a moment, meeting her eyes and seeing the relief that filled the cerulean depths.
"Thank you, Arthur." She said quietly, standing to move towards him, resting her face against his shoulder, his hand coming up to stroke over her braid.
"And if she refuses?"
"Then I'll risk exposing myself, I guess. I will not let you die, even if that means I must flee the city." Arthur sighed heavily and kissed her forehead, hating they never seemed to have any peace. He'd give anything to go back a few hours to when they were all alone on the Isle of the Blessed and were content.
"I'll go deliver the message, sire." Emerlyn murmured, looking up to press a lingering kiss to his lips before departing, hoping she could convince Morgause to desist in her challenge. And she needed to get a better understanding of just who this woman was and how powerful her magic was in case she had to fight her. Why could her life never be simple?
Emerlyn pushed the door open slowly, eyes scanning the room that appeared to be empty. But as she took a step inside, a sword was suddenly at her throat, forcing her to stop.
"What do you want?" Morgause demanded.
"Well for starters, not being skewered would be nice. Do you treat all servants this way or am I just special?" The witch asked sarcastically with a quirked brow.
The blonde titled her head, as if trying to understand her, before she slowly lowered her sword. Emerlyn noted that she kept it half drawn though, so that if there was indeed a threat she would be ready.
"You are the Prince's servant, are you not?"
"Yes and I've come to deliver a message." Morgause nodded and stepped back, sword lowering fully and her body relaxing, perceiving the girl as unthreatening. She couldn't be more wrong.
"And what does the esteemed Prince Arthur have to say?" Emerlyn's hackles rose at the condescending tone Morgause had, but she swallowed her ire down, not wanting to cause a scene. And she was unarmed and didn't dare use her magic, so she was at a disadvantage.
"He wants you to withdraw your challenge. Arthur has no desire to fight you. And if you withdraw, he'll grant you safe passage from the kingdom. Leave now, while you still can."
"If Arthur has no desire to fight me, perhaps he should withdraw." Morgause countered.
"He is too honorable to ever back down when he's accepted a challenge."
"Then we have that in common." The blonde said as she sat her sword down on the bed, Emerlyn moving away from the door, arms crossing over her chest.
"If you fight him, he will have to treat you as he does any other opponent. He will not hesitate because you are a woman."
"I do not ask for any special treatment." She retorted.
"Why have you come, Morgause? Arthur has no quarrel with you; he has never even met you before. Why would you challenge him?" Emerlyn questioned in frustration, not understanding why the woman wouldn't just back down.
"My reasons are not your concern." Morgause said, stepping back towards the girl with a tight expression.
"Don't force Arthur to kill you. He will not take it lightly if he kills a woman."
"Who's to say Arthur's life won't rest in my hands?" The blonde questioned, quirking a brow. Emerlyn's face darkened and she stepped forward, until they were nearly touching.
"Then you should be warned that if you do succeed in your quest, there is no power on this earth that will protect you."
"Are you threatening me, servant?" Morgause asked in amusement.
"Yes, that I am. I am a lot more than a mere servant, and I will not stop until your blood coats my sword." The witch answered, her entire being coiled, as if in preparation of a fight.
"You do not frighten me. If I were you, I'd be more concerned with readying your master to meet his fate than giving idle threats."
Before Morgause could say another word, there was suddenly a very thin blade against her throat, the witch having pulled it from its hiding place along her hip. The blonde sucked in air as the sharp metal bit into her sensitive skin, staring at the eyes of a girl she'd thought was harmless. There was definitely nothing harmless about the dagger against her throat or the fury in her azure gaze.
"There is nothing idle about my threats, my lady. I am schooled in much more than just the art of servitude. You would do well to remember that." Emerlyn said quietly, her tone indicating she was completely serious.
She held the weapon for another moment before withdrawing; hair flipping over her shoulder as she exited the room, confident Morgause knew she meant her words. If any harm came to Arthur, the blonde woman would not make it out of Camelot alive, magic or no magic.
"Morgause refused to withdraw." Emerlyn announced as she entered Arthur's chambers, the prince seated at the table with a plate of food and goblet of water before him. He sighed and gave a nod, motioning for her to join him; Emerlyn took the seat to his right.
"I thought she might. So it is to the death, then."
"I won't let you die, Arthur. Surely you must know that by now." The witch said, reaching out to take his hand.
"I do not fear for myself, Emerlyn. I just do not wish to kill a woman, even if in combat. I do not relish in the taking of a life."
"I know. And that is what makes you such a good man." She replied, bringing his hand up to kiss his knuckles. He gave her a small smile, fingers wiggling out of hers so he could cup her soft cheek. Emerlyn leaned into the caress, eyes shining brightly at him.
"C'mon, my lord, you need to eat and be well rested for tomorrow. We cannot allow her any advantage over you." She said after a moment of silence, kissing his palm before standing. Arthur watched as she moved to the other side of the table to finish polishing his armor, kicking her boots off to tuck her feet under her as she grabbed the rag and polish.
The two chatted about meaningless things as the prince ate and the servant worked, both knowing they needed to stay positive and not think about the upcoming fight. It was enough for them to simply be together, especially since Emerlyn had to stay in her own room that night, as the servants were beginning to get curious as to why she was in his room so early.
Tomorrow would come soon enough and they were content to just relax and enjoy each other's company tonight.
Emerlyn followed Arthur into the arena, Morgause already standing in full armor, waiting. She refused to stand by and just let the woman kill Arthur, no matter how irritating he could be at times. Well, okay, most of the time. If she had to expose herself to save him, then she would; she just hoped it didn't get to that point.
"Don't worry, Emerlyn, we will not let our prince die, no matter the knight's code." She turned at Sir Leon's quiet words, the knight standing to her left with Sir Richard, both the men grasping the hilts of their swords in preparation. Biting her lip, she gave them both a smile and a nod.
"Thank you." She whispered back, not wanting to draw attention to them. It wasn't unusual for the servant to be around the knights, but that didn't mean she wanted anyone to see the friendship she shared with them, as that was looked down upon and she didn't want to cause the two nobles any problems. She had enough trouble being involved with Arthur and didn't need any more.
"The fight is by the Knight's Rules and to the death." Uther said gravely before he retook his seat next to Morgana, whose eyes couldn't leave the woman's armored form. She was just so compelling and the seer didn't know why.
Gaius came to stand to her right, nodding at the knights, as Arthur spoke with Morgause. She'd told him about Morgause being magical when she'd returned the night before and he was worried what that might mean for the challenge. If she dared use magic in front of Uther, she'd be executed immediately; but more than that, the witch would surely have to use her own magic to defend the prince, putting her at risk as well. It was all very unsettling.
As the fight started, Emerlyn had to clench her hands together tightly in front of her to keep from magically tripping Morgause, who was a much better fighter than she'd thought. It was very clear she'd had a very similar tutelage to that of the witch, which made her wonder just who had raised the blonde woman. She was very powerful, to the point of possibly being a High Priestess, which did not bode well for Arthur.
The prince landed the first blow, and being the honorable man he was, allowed Morgause to pick her sword back up before resuming his attack. Emerlyn's eyes jumped from figure to figure constantly, watching for any sign the woman was using magic, but it didn't appear she was. Unless she was using it on herself to make her a better fighter, which the raven haired beauty couldn't be sure of since she didn't know anything about Morgause.
When she kicked the back of Arthur's knee, making it buckle and the prince to fall back, helmet sliding off his head and sword escaping his grip, Leon had to grab her elbow to keep her from rushing out onto the field. She gave him an incredulous look, as she'd thought they were supposed to keep this from happening, but he just tilted his head and nodded towards the scene. Turning, she saw the two speaking before Morgause reached her hand out to help him up.
Not knowing what was going on, Emerlyn just waited as Morgause nodded to Uther before marching out of the arena; Gaius squeezed her shoulder before he followed after, wanting to look at the wound Arthur had inflicted. The prince's shoulders were slumped in embarrassment as he strode from the field, eyes on the ground to avoid seeing the disbelief and amusement in the eyes of his people, as he'd never lost a fight before. And he'd lost to a girl.
Reaching out, Emerlyn gave Sir Leon's hand a squeeze and the two knights nodded in an unspoken agreement before she dashed after her master, knowing he'd want to be in his rooms before he lost his temper. She stopped a servant along the way to request they bring Arthur something to eat and drink before she hurried along, not wanting to make him wait too long and let his mood get any blacker.
When she reached his chambers, Arthur was slumped over his table, the very picture of dejection. Biting her lip to keep from snickering at the pitiful sight, she closed the door behind her and swept her hair up into a tail, tying it off with a leather cord to keep it out of her eyes as she approached him.
"Please tell me she used magic." Arthur's voice was muffled against the wood, but there was no missing the sullenness of his tone, making him sound like a disgruntled 5 year old. Swallowing her amusement, the witch's fingers started working the small buckles that kept his breastplate connected.
"Afraid not, sire. She was surprisingly well trained. But if it makes you feel better, you were hesitant in your thrusts."
"Excuse me?" Arthur's head shot up, eyes turning to glare at her. Emerlyn just shrugged as she finished with his left shoulder and moved to the right.
"Well you were. I'm not saying that she wouldn't have beaten you if you hadn't been, but you were. I've seen you fight, Arthur, and that was not your best." The servant replied as she pulled at the breastplate, Arthur lifting his arms to let it go over his head.
"Yes, you're right. That's why I lost, because I was afraid of hurting her." Emerlyn just laughed lightly as his chest puffed back up, moving to set his armor on a chair while he stood to remove his chainmail. The servant girl Emerlyn had stopped earlier entered with a tray laden with food, a second servant following with a pitcher of spiced wine and a goblet.
"Would you like us to draw you up a bath, my lord?" The older woman asked after they sat their goods on the table and curtsied, the young girl blushing furiously, as she'd never been within the prince's bedchambers before.
"No, I can do that. Thank you for bringing Prince Arthur something to eat." Emerlyn said as she helped pull the chainmail off him, staggering under the weight. Arthur quickly took the heavy metal from her to keep her from tipping over, slinging it into the chair with his other armor before he grabbed at his plate, his stomach rumbling in hunger.
"Of course. My lord."
The two women curtsied again before the older servant led the girl out, not wanting to disturb the prince. They'd heard about his defeat in the arena and didn't want to be on the receiving end of his temper. Plus, they all suspected something was going on between master and servant and knew Emerlyn could 'take care' of him better than they could; not that they'd ever utter such thoughts, of course.
"I'll get the bath ready." Emerlyn murmured before going to the antechamber and pulling the large tub into the room. Now that she knew Arthur knew about her magic, she only hesitated a moment before filling the tub with water. She didn't bother to heat it, as it's just cool while he ate and she'd have to reheat it anyway.
"So why didn't she kill you? Wasn't that the point of the challenge?" She questioned as she went to his bureau to get him clean clothes.
"She wants me to meet her in three days for another challenge."
"And you agreed to it?" She quirked a brow, which he answered with one of his own.
"She did have a sword to my heart." Arthur said with an eye roll.
He finished off his goblet and wiped his mouth before standing, moving to his privacy screen to remove his dirty clothes. Emerlyn just shrugged as she set about tidying his room, knowing already that she'd have to accompany him on this mysterious voyage. Her life certainly was never dull, no matter how she wished for it to be.
The next morning, Arthur headed out to do some hunting, needing to kill something and make himself feel better after his defeat. Emerlyn just rolled her eyes and hurried to prep their horses, knowing he was still pouting, even after she tried to lift his spirits. Man really was too similar to a child sometimes.
As they were exiting the city walls, Arthur came to a stop, spotting Morgause with her white horse, making the witch have to pull up short so her mare didn't run into his mount. Sighing, the prince glanced back at her before turning back to look at the strange woman.
"Congratulations on your victory. You're a skillful swordsman. Woman. Swords. Swordswoman." Emerlyn snorted at his fumbled words as she stepped around his horse so she could see the blonde woman, wanting to be in eyesight in case she was needed.
Morgause arched a brow as she took in the servant's garb as she made her way over to the prince, surprised someone of such low standing would have the resources for such fine clothing. It was truly exquisite and far above what a servant should be able to afford; although, given the closeness between the two, she wouldn't be surprised if the prince had commissioned the outfit himself.
The blonde came to a stop in front of Arthur's stallion, lightly stroking the horse's nose.
"You have a beautiful horse." She murmured, silently casting the navigation charm on the animal when Arthur looked over at Emerlyn with a confused look. The witch stiffened at the subtle change in the air that signaled magic had been used, but she relaxed at the soothing quality, as it wasn't threatening, meaning whatever Morgause had done did not have a malicious intent.
"I shall expect to see you in three days hence."
"How will I find you?" Arthur asked in confusion. Why couldn't this woman just be up front? It was maddening.
"When the time comes, you will know your way." She answered, nodding at Emerlyn before she stepped away and headed back to her own horse.
"If I don't show up, it'll be because I'm lost." The prince said irritably, making the raven haired beauty silently laugh.
"The path you must follow will become clear to you. I should thank you for allowing me to retrieve my sword." Morgause said as she pulled herself up into the saddle.
"I wish I hadn't."
"You showed yourself to be a man of honor. You inherited that trait from your mother." Both master and servant started at those words, eyes flying up to meet the blonde's in astonishment.
"You knew my mother?" Arthur questioned in bewilderment.
"I knew her very well." She answered before sending her horse into a quick trot.
"Wait!" He called out, but she kept moving, quickly disappearing into the trees.
"How could she have known my mother? My father doesn't know who she is." Arthur said, looking at her with baffled eyes.
"Did your mom have a family?" Emerlyn asked, moving to take her mare's lead, forcing the prince to steer his mount out of the way so she could get out of the stone archway.
"Yes, of course. Why does that matter?"
"Maybe she knew your mom through her family." The witch shrugged as she checked her saddle before pulling herself up, straightening out her skirt while she waited for Arthur to get situated himself.
"Maybe." He murmured, not knowing what to believe anymore. It was as if when he learned of Emerlyn's secret, all the hidden facets of his life that he'd never even known were there were beginning to come to light. What more could there possibly be to uncover?
"Well c'mon, those cute little animals aren't gonna kill themselves." Arthur's lips twitched into a smirk at her tone, which showed how much she really didn't care for their endeavor.
"I wish to speak with my father about Morgause knowing my mother, so perhaps we shall go for a walk instead of hunt." The prince said as he got comfortable on his saddle, not missing the pleased look that crossed her face before she schooled her features and nodded.
"If that is what you'd like to do, sire." Emerlyn nudged her horse into movement with her heels, falling into place next to Arthur as they started towards the forest. The prince reached over and grasped her hand from the reins and brought it to his mouth, lips tickling her knuckles and making her eyes shoot up to meet his.
But Arthur didn't say anything, just released her hand before encouraging his mount into a fast gallop, Emerlyn giving a curse before following. His laughter trailed behind him as the witch tried to catch up with him, though she wasn't angry. It was nice to hear him laugh after the last few days, as she was just glad he was moving past his sulkiness about his defeat by Morgause. She didn't think it'd last, but it was nice to have it now.
While Arthur was speaking with the king, Emerlyn dropped his laundry off at the launderer, glad she didn't have to wash it herself this time. Why she'd never thought to drop his clothes off there before, she didn't know, but she was taking full advantage of the service now. It was like the stable hands and cleaning out the stalls; why make Emerlyn do it when there were people who got paid to do just that? It just didn't make sense.
On her way back, she veered off to visit with Morgana and Gwen, figuring it'd be awhile before Arthur'd need her. And she hadn't really spent much time with either woman recently, as she'd gotten so caught up with Arthur and she felt bad for ignoring her friends.
"Come in." Morgana called out when she reached her room and knocked, the door opening to reveal the regal lady perched in her reading chair, a book resting in her lap. Gwen was seated next to her, mending a gown that'd suffered a ripped hem and was in need of repair.
"Hello." Emerlyn said as she came into the room, setting the empty hamper by the door before she came to join them, sitting on a small stool.
"Hello Emerlyn. How have you been? I feel like I haven't seen you in so long. Well, besides that nonsense with the witchfinder, of course." Morgana said, smiling beautifully at her friend as she closed her book.
"Hey Em." Gwen smiled as she pulled the silk thread through the hem expertly.
"I realized that too and came to rectify that. I cannot believe I've let myself get so distracted." The seer and maidservant exchanged a look before they both burst into laughter, making the witch furrow her brow in confusion.
"Oh Em, as if we all don't know what's kept you so "distracted"." Gwen said with a giggle.
"Yes, I haven't seen Arthur much recently either, for which you have my gratitude. How you can stand to be around him for any length of time is beyond me. Although, I must say he has been a lot more approachable since your return, much to everyone's relief. He was a right prat while you were gone." Morgana said with a shake of her head.
"I—I'm his servant, I have to be around him a lot. It's my job." Emerlyn said, face heating at the amused and knowing looks the two women gave her.
"Of course that's the only reason." The lady said with a smirk.
"So, uh, what are you reading?" The witch tried to change the subject, not liking how hot her face had gotten.
"Nothing special. I just slept so well last night that I just feeling lazy today, which I know doesn't make sense. I should be energized, but I'm just content to sit here and relax." Morgana shrugged with a smile, wiggling in the chair to emphasize her words.
"I thought you'd been sleeping better already." Emerlyn said, confused. Since the woman's training had begun, she'd been having fewer and fewer nightmares, which Emerlyn thought was good.
"Oh I have. But Morgause left this for me last night and I slept until midday. Midday!" Morgana said with a laugh, lifting the gold bracelet up to show her. The witch's eyes widened before she snatched her friend's wrist so she could look closer at the metal, her senses tingling, telling her that the piece of jewelry was enchanted.
"Why would she give you this?" Morgana tensed at the abruptness of her tone, but Emerlyn wouldn't release her wrist, her fingers moving over the engraved metal.
"I don't know. She offered it to me when I went to speak with her yesterday, as I feel as if I know her from somewhere. I found it in my room this morning." She said defensively. Emerlyn chewed on her lip as she continued to examine the gold, her magic escaping through her fingertips to do a deeper perusal of the charm Morgause had placed on it.
"It is enchanted." She murmured, eyes flicking up to meet the seers as she released her wrist.
"Really? Morgause was a sorceress?" Gwen asked in shock.
"I—I had no idea."
"I think it's a simple sleeping spell to allow you dreamless nights. It doesn't seem harmful, but I'd be careful with it Morgana." Glancing back at Gwen, Emerlyn looked back at the seer and titled her head.
"Those things we've been doing are serious and you need to keep them up. Don't use this as a crutch, Morgana, because it'll only prevent you from finishing what we've started. Do you understand?"
Morgana looked confused for a moment before she understood, her own eyes flicking to the curious Gwen before she nodded. She still hadn't told her maidservant about her abilities; not because she didn't trust her, but because she wanted as few people as possible to know. She was terrified of what would happen if Uther ever found out and didn't want to put Gwen in the position of knowing the truth and getting killed over it.
"Good. I need to get back to Arthur, but I'll see you both later. And Morgana, remember what I said." Emerlyn stood and grabbed the hamper before waving to the two women and leaving. She was troubled over the bracelet and just who this Morgause was and was determined to figure this out.
When she reached the prince's rooms, she was surprised to see two guards situated outside the door. It was usual for guards to be stationed along the hallway in case Arthur ever needed them, but they were never positioned so close. Confused, she slipped between them and opened the door, spotting Arthur sitting by a window with a dagger, obviously annoyed.
"Why are there guards outside the door?" She questioned as she shut the door and stepped further into the room.
"Because my father has confined me to my chambers, and has forbidden me, from accepting Morgause's challenge." Arthur said as he continued to pick at the grey stones with his dagger. Emerlyn sat the hamper on the table and moved around so she could pick up the dirty dishes.
"Maybe he's got a point." Arthur gave her an irritated look.
"We don't know anything about her except that she's a sorceress, which doesn't usually bode well for you, Arthur. We have no idea what she might ask you to do."
"I gave her my word." He said, pointing the dagger towards her to stress his point.
"This has more to do with her knowing your mother, doesn't it?" She asked, not fooled. He sighed and went back picking at the stone.
"I need to know what she does, Emerlyn."
"So we're going, despite knowing she could very well curse you and the entire kingdom."
"You're smarter than you look. Gather some supplies. We leave tonight." Emerlyn sighed, shoulders slumping in dejection. She knew there was no way he'd allow himself to break his word, but did he have to drag her into it? Of course he did. It was her destiny to be his goffer, after all.
"Oh and Emerlyn, find me a way to get out of here. I'm sure you can think of something." He wiggled his eyebrows, referring to her magic.
"Yeah yeah. Leave all the hard work to me." She muttered, making him smile. He still enjoyed needling her whenever he could.
"I got the supplies and our horses are saddled and ready to go." Emerlyn announced later that night as she came into the room, where Arthur was waiting in his chainmail.
"Great. So how are we getting out of here?" The prince questioned, standing from the end of his bed.
"Since I don't want to alert Morgause to my own magic, I didn't bring my amulet. So I'll have to get creative. Here." She answered and handed him his sword from where it rested on the table.
"And just how do you plan to get "creative"?" He questioned, not sure if he liked the sound of it. And by the impish expression on her face, he certainly wasn't going to like it.
"Since I can't sneak you out with the guards in the corridor, you're going to have to go out the window." Emerlyn said straight-faced, having to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing at the look he gave her.
"Out the window? Have you lost your mind? I know you didn't have much of one before, but come on." Arthur remarked with a scowl.
"It's the only way. Unless you don't want to go." She shrugged nonchalantly, the very picture of indifference. The prince continued to scowl, but when it became apparent that she wasn't going to come up with an alternative plan, he gave a heavy sigh, shoulders slumping in dejection.
"Fine." He grumbled and marched over to the window, unlocking the latch and pulling the stained-glass pane back. Glancing down, he had to swallow as trepidation filled him at just how far up his room was located. If he were to fall, he'd surely break something, if not die.
"Are you sure about this?" He asked, glancing back at her. Emerlyn smiled and came to stand next to him, hand stroking his, as there was little skin not covered by chainmail.
"I won't let you die Arthur, I promise. My life would be too easy if that were to happen." He gave a sarcastic laugh that made her smile before she nodded towards the open window.
"Go ahead and crawl out."
Swallowing thickly, Arthur slowly pulled himself from the room, his muscles burning with the strange maneuvering he had to do to keep a hold of the windowsill and not plummet to his death. Poking her head out, Emerlyn started chanting, her hands coming out as well as she slowly wove the enchantment.
Arthur was startled when he felt himself being pulled from the wall and slowly lowered towards the ground, as if someone was holding him from behind and moving him downwards. It was a very surreal experience. One he did not want to repeat any time soon. When his boots hit the cobblestone ground, the pressure disappeared.
Looking up, he saw Emerlyn give a little cheeky wave before her head was gone and she made her way down through the castle, or at least that's what he assumed she was doing. The prince quickly made his way to where their two horses were waiting, checking that everything was indeed in place before he got in the saddle, not surprised when Emerlyn came skidding to a halt only a few minutes later.
"Let's go." Nodding, the servant got into her own saddle, trying to catch her breath, as she'd run the entire way.
The two set off, to what exactly neither knew. But there was something in the air that told them both that whatever it was, it was going to change their lives as they knew it.
It was several hours later, the sun hanging high in the sky, when the path they traveled on came to a sudden split. Glancing around the foliage, the witch quirked a brow before turning to Arthur.
"Which way? I mean, we don't actually know where we're going, so maybe we just guess." Emerlyn muttered, earning a scowl from the prince.
"It's this way." He said, pointing to the left path, though when he tried to urge his horse forward it neighed and refused to move.
"Come on. What is wrong with this horse? It's even dumber than you, Emerlyn." He said angrily when the stallion continued to refuse to do as its rider commanded. Instead, it headed down the right path and would not be veered off its course.
"It has to be a navigation charm. I felt Morgause use magic when you two were talking, and this must be what she was doing. The horse will know where to go." Emerlyn concluded as she trailed behind him. Arthur turned to look at her, his expression severe.
"You didn't think it a good idea to tell me she was using magic? What if she'd cursed me?" He demanded.
"I can feel magic, you know, and it wasn't malicious, so I didn't think it was important." She gave a careless shrug, earning a scowl from him that would have had lesser men cowering. She just smiled at him and continued forward, unbothered by his frustration.
"What is a navigation charm?" He questioned after a few tense minutes, as it was apparent she was not going to apologize for not saying anything. She could be so irritating sometimes!
"Obviously she didn't want to give you a map to wherever we're meeting her, so she planted it in the horses mind. He'll know exactly where to go. We just need to remember how to get back, if we get back that is. For all we know she's planning on killing us when we arrive and burying our bodies so no one can find us." Arthur rolled his eyes at her words, though his own worry was like a heavy stone in his stomach.
"You're such a girl."
"Well I would hope so or else I'd begin to wonder what you got up to with the knights while I'm not there." She replied cheekily, getting a huff in return. Arthur moved past her on the path and continued on in silence, though he should have known that wouldn't have lasted long. He was traveling with Emerlyn after all.
"What if Morgause challenges you to do something you don't want to do?"
"I'm not expecting it to be easy, Emerlyn. That's why it's called a challenge."
"So you'd do anything she asks of you? You don't even do that for me and you say you love me." She said with a quirked brow, which he answered with an eye roll.
"I gave her my word I would accept her challenge. It's about honor, which I will not skirt it. And you barely do the things I ask of you either."
"Ha, ask. You mean the things you demand. But what if she challenges you to do something that's even less honorable than breaking your word? Like raiding a village? Or stealing someone's child that she plans to use as a human sacrifice to summon a dark spirit?"
"Can you summon dark spirits?" He asked, brow furrowing.
"Well, not really. I mean you can, but it'd take a really big sacrifice and it'd be really bad. Like altering the balance of the world bad."
"She hasn't shown herself to wish me or anyone ill will so far, so I'm going to hope she doesn't plan on sacrificing anyone to summon anything. Now will you stop rabbitting on? We're in Odin's territory and can be attacked at any second."
The words had barely left his lips before an arrow was slicing through the air and embedding itself in the tree Emerlyn had been about to pass, making her mare rear back and knocking her to the ground. Several knights came charging out of the trees, ready for a fight.
Arthur swung off his horse and grabbed his sword while Emerlyn jumped to her feet, pulling the daggers from her boots. A man wielding an axe ran towards her, but before she could even try to defend herself, he went flying away, a sword in his back. Rolling her eyes at Arthur's actions, she watched as he fought his next opponent, having grabbed the first man's sword, when movement from a tree caught her attention.
A knight was perched in the tree branches, a spear in hand and aimed for the prince. Thinking quickly, she enchanted the wood to burst into flames, startling the man into falling backwards out of the tree to land heavily on the ground with a nasty crunch. He did not get back up.
Turning, she saw Arthur was almost finished with his adversary, so she went to the man with the axe and jerked the prince's sword out of his back, wiping it on the man's pant leg to rid it of the blood. She headed back towards the horses and sheathed their weapons, Arthur joining her a moment later, breathing heavily from the exertion.
"Maybe we should turn back. Odin did send that assassin after you, so if he gets word we're in his territory he'll keep sending knights after us to kill or capture you. There's no telling how many men are in these woods." Emerlyn said, eyes scanning the forest for anymore threats.
"You can go back if you want to, I won't stop you." Arthur murmured as he retightened his saddle, back turned towards her.
"Arthur…" She said in frustration, a throb beginning at her temple.
"She said she knew my mother." He said quietly, turning to look at her. Shoulders slumping, the raven haired beauty pouted at him, making the prince's lips twitch slightly before he pulled himself onto his stallion.
"One of these days I'm going to refuse to go on one of these suicidal missions and your pretty face is going to get maimed." She muttered darkly as she glared at him, making Arthur bark a laugh.
She just huffed and ignored him as she got situated before following after him, cursing her stupid destiny anew. They traveled for a further few hours before stopping to let the horses rest and to eat and replenish their strength, their bottoms sore, though Arthur would never admit it. Emerlyn got a fire going that they sat around and hate the food she'd packed.
"What was your mother like?" She asked after a while, looking up at him with her big blue eyes that he could always fall into and forget the world for at least a while. She was resting against his side, his arm wrapped around her waist, holding her close to him and her breath tickled his cheek as she spoke.
"I never knew her. She died before I opened my eyes." He said quietly, eyes shuttering as the dull but constant pain filled him.
"I'm so sorry." Emerlyn whispered, sitting up so she could properly face him, taking his hand in hers.
"I barely know anything about her, besides that she was beautiful and came from the de Bois family."
"Can't you ask your father?"
"He refuses to talk of her. It must be too painful for him. Sometimes it's like she never even existed. There's only one portrait of her, the one commissioned after my parents' marriage. I would spend hours just staring at it when I was a boy, but my father removed it when I got older, saying I needed to focus on my duties as prince and not dwell on the past. I still have a sense of her, almost as though she's a part of me." He revealed sadly, fingers tightening around hers.
"Arthur—" Her eyes stung, her vision wavering as tears threatened to spill, her throat contracting at the pain she could see in his eyes.
"I just want to know something about her. Anything. I'd do anything for even the vaguest memory."
"I know. I…I didn't know my father when I was younger, but I had that same sense too. I understand the need you have Arthur, and I'll stand by you against Morgause if she proves to be untrustworthy." She said, kneeling up on her knees so she could push her hands through his hair.
Arthur's hands settled on her ribs as she leaned forward to capture his mouth in his, trying to ease some of his pain with her love. He might be a right prat most days, but she hated how much the death of his mother hurt him and she'd do what she could to ease it.
"We should get some rest so we can head out at dawn." He said when they parted.
"Yeah." She nodded before smiling and giving him another light kiss before pulling away to go get their sleeping mats.
Arthur closed his eyes for a moment to get his emotions back under control before he stood to help her, thankful Emerlyn had come into his life, no matter how maddening she could be. He doubted he'd have been able to get through this without her. Not that he'd say that, of course. She had a big enough ego already. He did love her though and was glad she'd gone on this journey with him.
When they reached the castle, Emerlyn knew they were in the right place, as the air itself was heavy with magic. The was a place that had had magic practitioners in residence for decades, as the magic was in the very stone and soil, much like the Isle of the Blessed. Morgause was not the first sorceress to make the fortress her home and Emerlyn was both excited and worried; she was eager to see what secrets the place held, but anxious about what this could mean as well. Morgause was definitely a lot more than just a mere sorceress.
Arthur's stallion came to a stop by a wall, where an archway was carved into the stone, signaling this was where their journey ended. Taking a deep breath, Emerlyn jumped off her mare and pulled one dagger out of her boot, leaving her right hand free in case she needed to cast a quick spell. While she didn't require her hand to direct her magic anymore, it still seemed to help; plus, she wasn't above punching someone in the face if they got in her way.
They came to a small clearing where an executioner's block sat, an axe stuck in the top of the wood. Emerlyn's throat went dry at the sight, the two lovers exchanging nervous looks as Arthur approached the block. Grabbing the axe off the wood, he twirled it before letting the metal settle back into its resting place.
"Maybe we should go back. There's no one here. And that doesn't bode well." Emerlyn said, nodding towards the block.
"You kept your promise." Arthur turned sharply at the words, finding Morgause behind him, descending a set of stone stairs he hadn't noticed before. Emerlyn moved forward, envious of the beautiful dress the blonde wore, looking like a true enchantress. She'd love to be able to wear such amazing attire; well, if she actually liked wearing dresses, which she still didn't prefer.
"What is the nature of the challenge you wish to set me?" Arthur asked when Morgause reached him, her heels clicking on the stone.
"Place your head on the block." She said gravely, reaching down to pull the axe up. Arthur gave her a confused look, not sure if she was being serious.
"You said that you'd do anything I asked." Morgause said, arching a brow in challenge at him.
"Arthur, don't." Emerlyn said, rushing forward to stand by his side, hands going to his to tug at him.
"I won't let her kill you just to preserve your honor." She said angrily. Arthur's gloved fingers skimmed her cheek before he stepped away, taking a breath before he kneeled on the hard ground. He had the random thought that there was, thankfully, no blood stains on the dark wood.
"I won't let you do this." Emerlyn said, her dagger at Morgause's throat before the woman could blink.
"I swore to you that I'd kill you if you hurt him and I am a woman of my word." The witch said grimly, hand steady as she stared the blonde woman down.
"Stay out of this Emerlyn." Arthur said. Morgause quirked a brow at her before she turned to face the prince again, disregarding the blade still at her throat as she let the axe fall.
The woman only let out a small sound as the dagger cut into the sensitive skin of her neck before the axe came to rest next to Arthur's face, completely missing his exposed neck. Batting the dagger away, Morgause leaned forward to set the axe aside, showing she clearly wasn't actually going to behead the Prince of Camelot.
"You've shown that you are a man of your word, Arthur Pendragon. And you apparently inspire great loyalties in those around you, even when their own lives are at stake." Her eyes cut to Emerlyn, who was helping Arthur stand, her dagger already back in her boot.
"And for that, I will grant you one wish." She announced. Arthur moved away from the witch to stand before the blonde.
"Tell me what it is that your heart most desires."
"You said you knew my mother. Tell me what you know about her." He said forcibly.
"Perhaps you would like to see her."
"I want that more than anything."
"As you wish." Morgause gave a small smile and turned away, knowing he would follow. Emerlyn had a bad feeling about this, but she trailed after them, not wanting Arthur to be alone with her for any length of time. There was no telling what she could do to him.
Emerlyn tried to speak with Arthur on the journey home, but the prince was resolute in his silence and just pushed his horse faster, determined to get back to Camelot as quickly as possible. She thought Morgause did some type of spell, as it only took them two hours of riding to reach the city, when it'd taken them a day and a half to reach her fortress. But she was more concerned with the fury that was brimming under the surface in Arthur to care about that.
When they reached the citadel courtyard, she hurried after him, worried when he pulled his sword from its sheath before he started up the steps.
"What are you going to do?" She questioned, to which he did not answer. Sighing, she rubbed at her face while she thought over what the figure that appeared to be Ygraine had revealed. If what she said was true, Arthur would be devastated and she didn't know how to help him.
"Emerlyn. I'm relieved to see you're safe. Where's Arthur?" She turned at Gaius's voice, seeing her guardian approaching her from the left. Frowning, she walked past the physician, coming to a stop once she reached an empty side corridor.
"What is it?" Gaius asked as he followed her.
"Arthur was born of magic. Wasn't he?" Silence was her answer, making her own fury build in her chest.
"Uther used magic."
"Emerlyn." He tried to start, but she wouldn't let this go.
"All those people, my people, he's executed. He's as guilty as they are. He sacrificed Arthur's mother. He as good as murdered her." She said angrily.
"Emerlyn, there is more to the story than you know."
"It doesn't matter, Gaius. People should know the truth about what he'd done. How could you not tell me?"
"I feared what Arthur would do if he ever found out." Gaius said gravely.
"Oh he's found out now." She said with a glare before she hurried away, dashing up the stairs to the castle quickly.
It took her longer than she'd have liked to finally reach the council chambers, where Uther usually was this time of day. She skidded to a halt when she came to the closed doors, Sir Leon standing guard outside them.
"You have to let me in." She panted.
"The King has forbidden anyone to enter." Leon said firmly, blocking the way.
"They're going to kill each other!" She shouted and pushed past him, nearly falling into the room.
"Arthur! No! Don't!" She shouted, coming to a halt when she saw Uther pinned into a chair, Arthur's sword at his chest.
"I know you don't want to do this."
"My mother is dead because of him." He shouted angrily, his eyes shining with hatred as he stared down at the man he'd always aspired to be.
"Killing your father won't bring her back. You've lost one parent already, do you really want to lose another?" She questioned as she moved closer to his side.
"Listen to her, Arthur." Uther said.
"Arthur, please. Put the sword down."
"You heard what my mother said. After everything he has done, do you believe he deserves to live?" He demanded furiously. Emerlyn came to stand on the other side of the chair Uther was pinned to.
"He executes those who use magic, and yet he has used it himself. You have caused so much suffering and pain. I will put an end to that." Taking a breath, Emerlyn reached out and laid her hand against his sweaty cheek, the contact shocking him into looking at her.
"Arthur, I know you, and you will never, ever, forgive yourself for killing your father, no matter the reason. He is all you have and you love him. Give me the sword." She said quietly, the hand not on his cheek reaching out, palm up.
"How can you fight for him after what he's done?" He demanded, hurt.
"It's not your father I'm fighting for, Arthur. You are too good a man to do this and it will ruin you if oyu do."
"But my mother—"
"We don't even know if that was truly your mother. Morgause is an enchantress and could have easily tricked us."
"But…that was my mother." His voice wavered as he continued to stare at her, his eyes filled with more pain than she'd ever seen before. It made her own heart hurt.
"But it might not have been her actual spirit, Arthur. It could have been a mere illusion."
"Why would she do that? It doesn't make sense." He said, his sword arm slowly beginning to relax as he tried to think clearly. Emerlyn glanced down at Uther, who met her gaze, before she stepped even closer to Arthur, her knees banging against the chair's arm.
"Doesn't it? Think about it. She came here to challenge you, knowing she would most likely win, only to let you live so you'd feel obligated to go to her. And then she promises to give you the one thing you've always wanted, your mother. Don't you think that is all really too convenient?" He gave her a confused look, so she pushed forward.
"Anyone who knows Camelot's history knows your mother died when you were born. And any child that had lost a parent would always wish to see them again. I think Morgause used that to plant these doubts of your father in your mind so you'd come back and attack him. Didn't you notice it took only hours to get back here?"
"You don't know if it was an illusion." He retorted.
"No, but we don't know if it was true either. But her words got you to attack your own father, which anyone wanting to bring Camelot to ruin would happily relish. Every adversary you've faced before now has failed; what better way to kill the king than for his own son to do it? Arthur, listen to me." She closed her hand around the hilt of the sword, her fingers brushing his.
"If you kill him, the kingdom will be destroyed. You will never be able to forgive yourself, not ever, and Camelot's enemies will seize upon that weakness to bring your kingdom crumbling down. And your father loves you, Arthur. If nothing else, you know that is true."
"Listen to her. She speaks the truth." Uther said, staring up at his beloved son, who eyes were slowly losing their heat.
When his hand went slack, Emerlyn pulled the weapon away from Uther and let it fall to the floor. Arthur's entire body was trembling, his face showing his uncertainty and anguish.
Uther watched in sadness as the servant girl reached for him, wrapping her arm around his waist and lugging him toward the door, his arm over her shoulder. He knew she was the only reason he hadn't completely lost his son and was thankful for her quick appearance, even if he despised Arthur had ever been exposed to the truth. He'd never wanted his son to have to know his birth had cost his mother her life. It was a truth no one should ever have to live with.
Emerlyn got Arthur up to his rooms without much incident, the prince completely drained and sluggish. She sat him at the foot of his bed and began removing his shoulder plate before he helped with the chainmail.
"Do you really think what she said was a lie? That that wasn't my mother?" He asked quietly, his voice raspy with emotion. Sitting next to him, she combed her hand through his hair before wrapping him in a hug.
"I don't truly know, Arthur. But something felt off to me about the enchantment. Usually it takes at least two casters to perform something like that, as it's extremely difficult since you're messing with the veil between worlds. One wrong word and the veil could be ripped, which you do not want to happen. Ever." She replied as she stroked his short blonde locks, his head settling on her shoulder. He reminded her so much of a small boy right then that her heart just melted.
"I just want my mother." He murmured sadly. Closing her eyes, she pressed her lips to the top of his head before making up her mind.
"I can try and summon her, if you want." Arthur's head shot up at that, his eyes wide.
"But Morgause said once the door was closed it couldn't be reopened."
"That is true, if that was indeed your mother. But if it wasn't, the spell will work. Would you like me to do that?"
"Yes. But…if it takes two people, how are you going to be able to perform it?" He asked in confusion. Smiling, Emerlyn stood from the bed.
"I'm a lot stronger than most other sorcerers, so I should be able to do it. Wait here, I need to go get something." She kissed him before rushing from the room, dredging up the last of her energy reserves as she went. The last few days had been draining, to say the least.
When she returned, she had an amber amulet clasped around her neck and a thick tome in hand. Arthur went to her, not knowing if she actually planned to perform magic right there in his room. Grinning cheekily at him, she slid the thick lock into place on his door before doing the same for the antechamber door, which would keep anyone from being able to access the room without knocking the doors down.
"Close your eyes. I don't want you to get sick again." She said, wrapping her arms around him again. The book dug into his chest uncomfortably, but he ignored it and did as she said, feeling the strange stretching again before his feet slammed into solid ground.
He only swayed for a few seconds this time, much to his pleasure. When he opened his eyes, Emerlyn gave him a proud smile before she moved towards the altar stone in the center of the stone circle on the Isle of the Blessed, candles appearing from nowhere and lighting themselves. Heart racing in anticipation, Arthur followed after her.
Closing her eyes to venter herself, Emerlyn took a calming breath before she opened the book to the right page, staring at the words and instructions, feeling like an idiot when she read it over.
"That was most definitely not your real mother." She revealed, looking up at him.
"How do you know?" Arthur asked, stepping closer so he was standing next to her and could see the open pages, though the written language was not one he understood.
"I'm an idiot, that's how. To contact a spirit, you must offer a sacrifice to The Cailleach, the gatekeeper to the spirit world. I can't believe I forgot that." She shook her head.
"What kind of sacrifice?"
"Nothing serious, just some blood. Now be quiet."
Emerlyn pulled a dagger from her boot and sat it on the altar before she began chanting, calling on The Cailleach to allow Ygraine Pendragon to cross over. Arthur jumped when she reached for him, grasping his hand firmly in hers before she drug the side of the blade down his palm, making him hiss as his blood fell onto the stone slab.
Releasing his hand, Emerlyn repeated the gesture on her own palm, her blood mingling with his. His was needed since it was his mother she was reaching for, and hers because she was the one doing the spell. It wasn't anything to the level of killing someone, as that would cause a rip in the veil and bring chaos upon them. No, this was just a little blood to appease the goddess.
"W-Where am I?"
Arthur turned at the voice, coming face to face with the same image he'd seen only hours before, only she was slightly different. The Ygraine Morgause had brought forth had appeared gaunt and sickly; this Ygraine was flushed and healthy looking, her skin giving off an otherworldly glow. She was stunning.
"Arthur? Is it really you?" Ygraine asked in shock, her hand coming up to cover her mouth.
"You…you never came before, did you?"
"What do you mean?" The blonde spirit asked in confusion.
"Morgause claimed to have summoned you."
"This is the first time I've been back in this world. I cannot believe how you've grown. You are as handsome as I thought you would be." She said and pulled him into her arms, the embrace warmer than the one he'd had earlier. It might have been because he wasn't wearing his chainmail, but he liked to think it was because this was truly his mother.
"Let me look at you." She pulled away and examined his face, her fingers skimming over his cheeks and wiping away the stray tears that escaped.
"I miss you so much."
"As I miss you, my love. But I am so proud of the man you've grown into; I could never have wished for more." Ygraine smiled brightly.
"But…you died because of me. Because father used magic."
"No, no. Well, yes, technically, but I knew what would happen when we went through with the spell." She said.
"What do you mean?"
"I…I couldn't conceive, no matter how your father and I tried. I was desperate for a child of my own, and your father needed an heir to rule the kingdom after him. So we went to my friend Nimueh, who was a sorceress, and she performed a spell that allowed me to conceive." She explained, stroking his hair.
"You knew Nimueh?" He was so confused.
"Of course. She was a dear friend of mine."
"So you, you knew about the cost of the spell?"
"Yes. Nimueh was very clear in the rules of nature, that to bring a life into the world through magic would require a life be taken. Uther-he got so excited about finally having a son, I think he forgot about her warning. But I knew it would be my life that was taken, since I was the one that birthed you."
"How could you just willingly die like that?" He demanded angrily.
"Because I loved you, Arthur. A parent will do anything for their child, even give up their own life. And though I only got to hold you for a short while, it was the best moments of my life. I would gladly give my life for you over again." She said, cupping his cheeks and giving him a long look. His lips trembled as he looked down, his chest tight.
"I wished you were here. I have so many questions." He said after a minute, the words forced out past the lump in his throat. He wasn't sure if it was better or worse to know his mother had known she was going to die and had done so gladly or not.
"I know, my love. But we cannot keep the gate open any longer. Just know that I love you and your father. And I'm always looking down at you." She said, pulling him towards her so she could press a kiss to his cheek and give him another tight hug.
"But I still have so many unanswered questions. What's your favorite color? Did you enjoy celebrations or politics. Mother—"
"I wish I could remain to answer everything, but your witch cannot keep me here much longer." At her words, his head turned to see Emerlyn, who was kneeling on the ground, her eyes tightly closed as blood slowly began to seep out of her nose.
"I love you Arthur and am so proud of the man you've become and the king you'll be. And never shy away from your feelings for Emerlyn, as she's your light in the darkness. Take care of each other." Ygraine said, pressing one last kiss to his cheek before she disappeared. Arthur had to swallow thickly before he rushed to Emerlyn's side, barely catching her before she passed out.
Sliding down to sit on the grass, Arthur cradled her against his chest as his mind whirled, amazed the last few minutes had actually happened. And he felt the rage he'd had for his father dissipate a little; he'd never fully forgive him for allowing his mother to be sacrificed, but he felt better knowing his father hadn't even realized what the true cost of his birth would be. It certainly explained his anger towards the magic world, even if he brought it on himself.
Arthur was brought out of his thoughts when the body in his arms started moving, Emerlyn's eyes slowly opening to peer up at him.
"Did it work?" She asked, her voice hoarse. He helped her sit up and wiped at her face with his tunic until the blood was gone.
"Yes. You did it; you brought my mother to me. Thank you." He said softly, cupping her cheek tenderly as he looked at her as if she'd hung the moon.
"I'm just glad it worked." She replied, her cheeks heating under the intense look.
"I'll never be able to thank you, Emerlyn." She smiled at him, his joy filling her even as her body complained of its tiredness.
"Asking you to stop being a prat would be too much, so we'll just agree that it was the right thing to do." Arthur gave a low chuckle before pulling her to him, his mouth slanting over hers for a hot kiss. The witch's fists gripped his tunic tightly, needing to rely on his strength, as she had none of her own left to stay upright.
"I'll need to rest for a while before attempting to return us." She murmured when they parted.
"Okay." He said, pulling her so she was leaning against his chest, his arms wrapped around her, before he laid back, taking her with him.
Emerlyn smiled against his chest as she snuggled into him, not deterred by the bright sunlight as her exhaustion over took her. Things were never be the same between father and son, but at least now he knew the truth and could properly heal and shed the blame he'd always carried over Ygraine's death. It was the most she could ask for. They'd deal with everything else like they always did, together.
AN: Jeez, I reached 33 pages for this! My eyes hurt! Lol. Okay, please be amazing and review! Pretty please! It's 16000 words so be kind!
Oh, and the other chapters will not be this long, sorry. This was a beast that I don't want to try to top. Ever. Love you guys! It's 3"46 now, so if there are a lot of mistakes, let me know and I'll edit it when I get some sleep. I just wanted you all to have this when you woke up. Ciao.