A/N: Hello all ... I am beyond sorry it has taken so blasted long for me to update this story. Real life has been kicking me in the ass lately and finding inspiration and time to keep going with this story has been in short supply. But I think I might have fund my second wind with this and a new direction that might see this story wrapping up in the next chapter or two. So, thanks again for hanging in there and keeping up with this even though I've been so slow in writing this. I also want to apologize for the lack of action in this chapter - there will be a lot more going on in the next one. I can't say that this is the best chapter of this story either, but anyhoo ... onto the story, which is going to take us away from canon a little ...
Chapter 6: Destinies and Legacies
"What the hell are you talking about? You built this place?" Dean asked, his voice reverberating off the walls harshly.
Merlin was close enough to Dean to feel the tension building up in his muscles as he glared down at the old man at the bottom of the stairs.
"What? You think I was just going to sit around on my arse for the past 1500 years and not do anything? Sure, I may not have built this place with my own hands, but I did the fellowship that made this place possible."
Dean began charging down the stairs with Merlin following close at his heels. He stopped before the old man who calmly stared him down, his deep blue eyes sharp and filled with power. Dean didn't back down, his eyes blazing. "Are you trying to tell me that you started the Men of Letters?"
"Someone had to."
Dean suddenly snorted, "Right. Why should I believe you?"
"Believe whatever you want, Dean. I don't care. I'm not here to give you a history lesson right now – we'll get to that later when your brother gets back. All you need to know is for now is that the Men of Letters is not just a legacy handed down from your grandfather, it's been in your family for a long, long. long ... long time. It's in your blood and in the blood of many others all over the world."
Dean took pause at this, "All over the world?"
"Yes … this –" Old Merlin gestured towards their surroundings, "is just one of many such places and there are still many in our organization who fight every day against the same evils you face. What? Did you think battling monsters and demons was strictly within the purview of Americans?"
"You saying there are more Men of Letters out there?"
"Then how come we haven't heard of them?"
"What part of secret organization do you not understand?" Old Merlin derided, "All branches work independently of the others. This isn't MI6 or the CIA. There is no network, or central operations center. It's just me and a bunch of small groups scattered all over, doing what they can to keep fighting on their own – all of them without any knowledge of the other groups so that if one branch is compromised, like this one was fifty years ago, then the other branches won't be affected. Now – you're getting me off-track, so quit asking questions. I came here to talk to Merlin … alone, if you don't mind."
Merlin had been standing off to the side, listening intently to the conversation between his old self and Dean, trying to follow along without getting confused and failing. At the mention of his name, he looked up and locked eyes on his older self.
Old Merlin's eyes held his, reflecting years and years of weariness and strife, but above all, deep loneliness and sadness. Had he been alone, on his own all of these years? And what of Arthur? Gaius? The knights? Gwen? What had become of them? Surely after all of these years, they had to be long dead and he couldn't imagine the pain of continuing on year after year without them. How had he survived?
But why had he survived was probably the better question. Why was he still here? Why wasn't he dead too?
He had so many thoughts rolling around in his head and so many things to ask the man, yet at the same time, he was afraid. He wasn't sure he wanted to know what he had endured over the centuries (and he still wasn't sure he wanted to even contemplate living that long).
Old Merlin approached him and laid a withered hand on his shoulder, pulling him towards a pair of chairs sitting beside the library's fireplace. "Come … There are a few things you must know before you return to your time."
"Whoa, now." Dean stepped in between them, "He's not leaving my sight. He's still squatting in my little brother's body, so whatever you gotta say to him, I'm gonna be there too."
Old Merlin sneered and grunted, "Fine … take a seat, Mr. Bossy pants." He gestured towards the chairs. Dean sat down in the soft leather as Merlin took the other chair. Without another chair for the older man to take, he walked over to the fireplace, his eyes wordlessly flashing to gold.
Flames erupted from the dusty, unused wood within and Dean jerked back in surprise. "Jeez … don't burn the place down, dude!"
Merlin chuckled at Dean's reaction. Old Merlin merely turned around and waved a hand towards the hunter like he was swatting an annoying fly, whispering Swefe nu under his breath, his eyes glowing once again. Dean immediately slumped in his chair, fast asleep.
"That's better." The old man winked and grinned, unceremoniously pushing Dean out of the chair with both hands until he landed face-first on the floor. "He can be a bit of a pain in the ass, can't he? It'll be easier for us to talk without him butting in all of the time."
Dean didn't so much as stir as he lay snoring into the carpet underneath him.
Merlin could only shrug and agree with his older self.
Old Merlin sank into the now empty chair with a loud grunt, his joints cracking as he lowered himself down. He sighed and then turned to Merlin, "Now … where to start?"
"How about with the part about what I'm doing here and how I get back home again?" Merlin suggested leaning forward in his chair.
"Oh … I suppose that's a good place to begin," Old Merlin agreed matter-of-factly. "So … you're here because the crystal wanted you here. That's all I can really say to explain this … this cycle we're all stuck in. I've spent years and years trying to figure out how and why the crystal did this and all that I can come up with is because I – you—we – failed.
Merlin swallowed, "Failed? Failed at what?"
Old Merlin sighed wearily, staring off into the fireplace, eyes shadowed. "I failed – the older me I met when I was your age and transported here failed too. And we keep failing and the crystal keeps sending us here to try and fix our mistakes, over and over again, but so far – it hasn't worked. That's why you're here – to change things – to … to not make the same mistakes and hopefully, finally fulfill our destiny the way we should have."
Merlin shook his head, utterly baffled, "I don't understand."
"No … you don't. You can't possibly understand. But I will tell you this – in my time, the beginning of the end came about the time that Mordred came to Camelot. "
"Mordred?" Merlin's head swirled. Kilgarrah had been adamant that the boy would one day be Arthur's doom. "He comes to Camelot?"
"Yes … it's a long story and I can't tell you much – no one should know too much of their own future, after all, but he does come back. When he does, Arthur makes him a knight—"
Old Merlin ignored Merlin's exclamation and continued on, "Yes … he becomes a knight. Arthur put his trust in Mordred and became rather close to the boy. I, however, couldn't bring myself to put any faith in him to not turn on Arthur. I followed him, butted heads with him, and never showed him any kindness or trust, even though he seemed to be truly loyal to Arthur. In the end though – it was my betrayal of him and the woman he loved that drove him away – that drove him to Morgana out of grief and anger. It was my mistake that led to Arthur being killed."
Merlin gulped, his mouth suddenly dry and stomach twisting into knots, "Mordred kills Arthur?"
"In my time, he did." The older man nodded sadly as he leaned in his chair towards Merlin, the light of the fire dancing in his eyes, "After he died, Camelot was ruled by Gwen. She was a fair and just queen, but the golden age of Albion as it was supposed to be never came to pass without Arthur there to rule. The five kingdoms never truly united – magic was never completely free and it has all but disappeared now. Our destiny was never fulfilled in totality. But worst of all – I lost my best friend – my brother – far sooner than I should have. After that, I was told to wait – that one day Arthur would return again to rule when the world needed him the most. But after century after century of waiting, of seeing plagues, famines, terrible wars, the damned apocalypse – times when I was certain that Arthur would return because the world needed him more than ever, but he never did. I think he hasn't come back because he can't – not until our mistakes have been erased and our destiny is put right once again. I believe that Arthur was meant to rule for much longer – to live to an old age, bring Albion together and sire many heirs – all of which he was denied just because I was so certain that what I was doing was right. But all along – it was me that ruined it all."
"How could you have known?"
"Because I was told, not just by Kilgarrah, but by me – my older self when I was you sitting in the same chair you are in. My older self also failed his destiny and he believed it was because of Mordred that Arthur was killed – that if I somehow kept close tabs on the boy and never let my guard down around him or trusted him that I might be able to stop him from turning on Arthur. But no –he as wrong and I was wrong. I was too blinded by my distrust of Mordred that I only made things worse. But, this time – this time I think I know now how to fix it. It's you, Merlin – you can change things when you go back. Who knows how many times we've been through this cycle, but hopefully this will be the last time - you can be the one to break it."
"Are you saying I need to kill Mordred?" Merlin asked, imagining the small boy he had once rescued. He was just a child. "I don't think … I –"
"I know … you don't want to kill anyone, especially someone who hasn't done anything yet. And I'm not going to ask that of you. What I will suggest, however, is something none of the other Merlins who have been in our place ever thought to consider … a different way to approach this problem of ours altogether."
"And what is that?"
Old Merlin eyed him with a serious expression. "Tell Arthur the truth."
"The truth?" Merlin balked momentarily and gulped, "About magic?"
Old Merlin nodded sagely.
"But … he'll kill me."
"Will he?" the older man asked rhetorically, but Merlin adamantly responded anyway.
"Yes. He will. I've lied to him for years and he hates magic."
"But he doesn't hate you."
Merlin gave pause at that then looked down at his lap forlornly. "He will if he finds out – when he learns how much I've betrayed him." He stated quietly and sorrowfully. He hadn't considered telling Arthur the truth about his abilities in a long time – not since they had formed their unique brand of friendship. Arthur had made his feelings about magic clear, but every once in a while he would see a glimmer hope that the prince could be swayed into thinking differently about it, but every time Merlin thought 'now is the time to tell him', something awful would happen because of magic or some random sorcerer would attack, sending Arthur right back into his 'magic is evil' beliefs and all thoughts of revealing himself would flee.
Had he just become so used to telling lies that even thinking about coming clean to Arthur about his secret was taboo to him? Maybe it was … or maybe he was just a coward. In truth though, it wasn't just the fear of execution that held him back all of these years, rather it was thought of Arthur looking at him with the hurt of betrayal in his eyes that he would undoubtedly feel. And even if Arthur did somehow, by some miracle, accept him and his magic without lopping off his head, his father never would. Merlin would never be able to ask Arthur to choose between him or his own father—he didn't want to put him in a position where Uther might find out about his son harbouring a sorcerer – that would be far too dangerous. Even though Arthur was the king's son, Uther could be a harsh tyrant when it came to magic and there was no telling how severe he might punish the prince should he find out that his own son had kept this from him.
So … NO. Merlin could not reveal his magic to Arthur. Not yet. He wasn't ready and Arthur wasn't ready. He wasn't sure when or if the right time would ever come, but one thing he did know was that it wasn't now.
"I can't tell him. I just can't. Not yet."
"I know how you feel – believe me. For you it seems like there is never a good time - that Arthur will never accept you and will feel betrayed or that you will cause him to be conflicted about hiding you from his father – I know all of the excuses – I thought them all myself before. But, if you keep waiting and waiting – things will only pile up higher and higher and your lies and secrets will start to smother you. I know – I was there. I waited until – " Old Merlin swallowed with difficulty, his eyes glistening, " -until it was almost too late. Arthur will be angry, yes – that I can guarantee. But will Arthur hate you? That I can say with confidence is a no."
"I don't think I'll ever be able to tell him. He'll think me a traitor."
"The truth is always hard, but it can also be liberating. I can't tell you that it will be easy and maybe Arthur will think of you as a traitor at first, but must find a way to show him differently and eventually – he will come around – you must trust in that. Arthur is not the spoilt, blind prat that you met that first time in the marketplace. You changed him, Merlin … and you know the kind of man he is now and you must place your faith in that. He is good, fair, just, and will be a great king. He is not his father and he is stronger and smarter than sometimes even you give him credit for, even when it seems like you can't let him out of your sight for more than two minutes before he needs saving … again." Old Merlin chuckled, then continued more seriously, "But once united – you with magic and Arthur with his sword – maybe then you can both face Morgana and Mordred together and be victorious this time."
Old Merlin ended his passionate speech and rested his back against the chair, his fingers playing with the ends of his long, white beard. "But, of course … this is a decision that only you can make. Your future is yours to shape."
There was something in the passion of Old Merlin's words that sent Merlin's mind into motion. His other self had lived through so much – seen so much, yet Merlin could see plainly that the one thing that troubled him the most was failing Arthur. The guilt he had had to live with for centuries had never abated and Merlin didn't think he wanted to ever become the man that sat across from him – a man filled with regrets and 'what ifs'.
Merlin looked away from his older self and stared into the fire, retreating into his thoughts, weighing and balancing the internal debate going on within his head. He was scared of what Old Merlin was saying needed to be done and not just because of the excuses he had used before, but now because this wasn't a certain way to fix their destiny. He believed him when he said that this was the reason he had been brought to this time, but there were a lot of unknowns. Even Old Merlin didn't seem to be confident that revealing his magic to Arthur would mean that he could save his friend when Mordred returned, but it would most definitely change things. But would they change for the better or for the worse?
Old Merlin said he needed to trust Arthur, but didn't he already? When he looked back on his life with the prince though, he found himself second-guessing that belief. What if Merlin had been holding back from Arthur all of this time because he simply didn't trust him – that his friend had never really been his friend at all and only saw him as his servant and nothing more and would run him through with his sword before he even got the words 'I have magic' out of his mouth. But certainly, that wasn't the case, right? Arthur wasn't that rash of a man and hadn't been in a very long time. He had come a long ways since they first met and while the prince wasn't perfect by a long-shot and couldn't he trust that Arthur wouldn't act out of anger and would at least try to hear Merlin out?
Sure, Arthur was quick to temper, obnoxiously overconfident, and somewhat self-absorbed, but Arthur had saved him almost as many times as Merlin had saved him –even going so far as to disobey his father and retrieve the Morteas flower so that Merlin might be saved from the poison he had drunk for the prince. Wasn't that proof enough that Arthur was truly his friend and not just his master – that he could trust him with his secret – that he could handle himself when it came to his father and not get himself executed should he decide to keep Merlin's secret?
He still wasn't convinced that revealing his secret to Arthur would change destiny or save the prince from Mordred, but what if telling the truth did mean that Arthur would live longer than Old Merlin's Arthur had? Wasn't it worth it then? After all, that what his destiny was really about - saving Arthur any way that he can, no matter the personal cost to himself. He might end up on the pyre, or banished, or he might lose all of the faith and trust Arthur had placed in him, but maybe it was worth the risk.
Maybe the time had come.
The first day tracking the black dog was met with very little success, unless killing an apparently rabid bunny could be considered successful. If only Dean had been there - he could have supplied the obligatory 'Killer rabbit' jokes that Sam had to keep to himself, especially when one of the knights jokingly declared 'What will it do, nibble us to death?'
The evening fell fast and soon the company of knights, prince and Sam were setting up a camp. Sam was apparently expected to do the bulk of the work as he was ordered to gather wood, make a fire and make dinner for everyone. Getting wood and starting the fire was something Sam had no problem with, even if he had to use flint instead of matches or a lighter. His father had made certain that he and knew how to start a fire with just about anything and it wasn't long before the fire was roaring.
Cooking, however, was not something his father had drilled into his sons. Somehow, Dean had learned to make a few fine tasting dishes (his bacon cheeseburgers some of the best he had ever tasted) but Sam had never really learned. Growing up on the road had meant a wide variety of greasy spoons and fast food, then in college, Jess had done all of the cooking (his one and only attempt to make dinner had ended with the fire department being called), and when he started hunting with Dean again, roadside diners and gas stations had once again became his primary food sources.
So, it was really no wonder that his first attempt at creating a stew over a campfire ended with the knights frowning in disgust and Arthur complaining loudly as he bit into a crunchy, undercooked potato.
"Ughhh … Merlin – are you trying to poison us?" Arthur spat out his bite of food. "You have made some truly terrible suppers before, but this – I'm not certain this is even edible. How much salt did you put in this?"
There were several grunts of agreement from all of the other men gathered around the fire.
"Well … I uh … none." Sam admitted, frowning into his own bowl of the tasteless soup and setting it down. He had packed salt into his bag of provisions, but hadn't wanted to use it, thinking that he might need it when it came to facing the black dog.
"Well … this is just perfect. Now we get to hunt down this beast all while battling food poisoning. Thanks you ever so much, Merlin." The prince groused, dumping his food out onto the ground petulantly. Sam felt a surge of annoyance at the prince's behavior.
"I don't think it's so bad." A somewhat quiet voice said quietly from Sam's side. The knight beside him was young - very young, in Sam's opinion and probably no older than 18 or 19 years old. He was not what Sam would have imagined a knight of Camelot to be – he was somewhat short, but stocky with a head full of curly, flaming red hair. He also had an unfortunate case of acne that, when he was flustered, made his already ruddy complexion that much more vibrant. Throughout the journey, Sam had caught snippets of the other knights' words to the young man as they teased him jokingly about his lack of experience not just in battle, but apparently with women as well. Despite his status as a knight, the poor kid was awkward, easily tongue-tied, and quite shy and it was easy to see how he was still a virgin.
He had done little to fight against the taunts about his virginity other than to turn bright red and try to ignore them. Arthur hadn't paid much attention to his knights as he had been singularly focused on the hunt, but Sam had. As the teasing had reached a crescendo, Sam had finally had enough, and turned on the knights saying, 'Leave him alone already." This had earned Sam some glares, but it had also caused Arthur to turn and chastise his knights as well, demanding that they focus on their mission rather than on hazing the boy.
The young knight, after that, sent Sam a smile of thanks and their journey had continued for the rest of the day without any taunting. And it seemed now that the younger man was looking to repay Sam for his kindness, by complimenting his food, even if it was absolutely undeserved.
Sam huffed a little laugh, "You don't have to say that. I know it's crap."
"Well … okay. Maybe a little." The knight conceded, "But all the same ... I appreciate it."
Sam knew he wasn't talking about the food, but about his words to the other knights earlier. "I've only been in Camelot a few weeks and I don't think we've ever really been introduced. I'm Galahad." The young man suddenly extended his hand, causing Sam to take it and give it a shake even though he was in a little bit of shock at the boy's name.
This kid was Galahad? The Galahad?
His mind flashed back to a summer night 20 years ago spent in a dingy motel room that smelt of moldy cigarettes and spilled whiskey. Abandoned again while their father was out 'working', Sam and Dean had been left with little to do, especially since the room's TV could only pick up reception from the local PBS station during their pledge drive. Deciding that they would rather shoot themselves than watch old guys extol the merits of 'Masterpiece Theatre', Dean had taken Sam to the local library earlier in the day and they had checked out several books each, including an illustrated picture book about King Arthur and his Knights. Sam reveled in the stories as Dean read, but what he could still remember clearly to this day, was the illustration of Sir Galahad, the pure, golden sunlight shining down from a canopy of trees above him like a halo around an angel as he knelt in prayer. Sam recalled, even then as a kid, how the picture evoked a sort of sadness in him – Galahad was a good man – pious and brave. He stood as an example of everything Sam wanted to be, but somehow he fell short – he felt dirty compared to the purity Galahad represented.
Sam shook himself from his thoughts and focused again and the young man beside him and was reminded that the man in the stories was just that – a story. The real Galahad was just a kid – he wasn't perfect - he had flaws and fears, just like Sam. Even though he had just met him, Sam sensed that the boy was working to overcome them, striving to become a better person. Somehow, this gave Sam a little hope for himself – he wasn't pure like the Galahad from the book, and all his life he had felt a darkness inside him, chasing him, but that didn't mean he could defeat that darkness one day.
"I'm S –Merlin." Sam nearly slipped, shaking Galahad's hand.
"I know." The young knight grinned, exposing a row of crooked teeth as he smiled goofily, "Everyone talks about you."
"Sure … you're the prince's manservant. They say Uther gave you the job personally after you saved Arthur's life. Is that true?"
Sam didn't really have a clue, "Uh … well …" he never got the chance to say anything more as in the next moment, Leon spoke up from across the campfire. "Winchester!"
Sam's head snapped to the senior knight in surprise while at the same time, Galahad jumped to his feet and gave a slight bow, "Yes, sir?"
"You have first watch tonight. Finish your dinner, then take up your position."
Galahad nodded, "Yes, sir," and then sat back down to eat his meal.
"Winchester?" Sam dared to ask.
"Yeah …" the young man replied, "You heard of it?"
Sam chuckled a little, "You could say that."
"That's where I'm from. My father sent me here to train to become a knight and the first day I got here a couple of the knights started calling me that and I guess it just stuck. It's an annoying nickname, but I suppose it could be worse, like Sir Roger over there," Galahad pointed to an older knight with dark hair that streaked with white along his temples, "They call him Badger."
Galahad scraped the rest of his food from his bowl and shoveled it into his mouth before standing up and handing Sam the empty dish. "Well … thanks for supper, Merlin. And it was good meeting you finally."
"You too." Sam replied, watching the boy walk away and take up his guard duty. He didn't really have much time to ponder the young man any further before Arthur was shouting for him.
Sam looked up to see the prince standing with hands on his hips, looking rather pissed at him for some reason. "Merlin! You going to just sit there all night or are you actually going to do your job?"
"Oh … uh …" Sam stammered, unsure of what he was expected to do, looking about in a manner that might have people wondering about his mental capacity as he tried to see what chores still needed doing (Hadn't he already done everything for the prince already - what more could there be?).
"Brilliant response, as always." Arthur muttered, "Just clean the dishes and see to the horses, you idiot."
Sam resisted the temptation to roll his eyes as he stood up and started gathering the bowls all of the knights had left strewn about the campsite. He made his way over to a small stream nearby and began dunking the bowls in the water. Once he was finished with that and stashed the bowls back into one of the saddle bags, he went to the horses.
Sam wasn't sure what he was supposed to do with the horses and just stood there for a few moments stupidly. Was he supposed to feed them or what? He didn't have a clue where to start. Thankfully, Sir Leon was at his horse, rubbing it down with a coarse brush after he had removed its saddle and attached a bag of oats to its bridle for it to eat. A couple of the other knights had come to their horses as well and began tending to them, but Arthur stayed near the fire, stretching out and relaxing against a log. Apparently the knights each sought to their own mount, but the prince couldn't be bothered. Sam could only suppose that it was his job to take care of both his and Arthur's horses, so grumbling a little at the prince's laziness, he copied the other knights, fumbling a little as he undid the straps to his saddle and cursing under his breath as the weight of the saddle as it came off nearly toppled him and caused him to step into a fresh pile of horse dung.
Merlin really needed to put on a little muscle, he mused. Sam wasn't used to feeling so puny – at least not since he was 14 years old.
It was well past dark by the time Sam had the horses settled for the night. Exhausted, he grabbed his sleeping roll and walked back towards the fire where everyone else had begun to lay down for the night. He laid his roll out near Sir Leon and collapsed down onto it with a heavy sigh.
He was bone tired. His ass ached from sitting in the saddle all day, his chest still burned from the stitches and it seemed like he hadn't had a moment's rest since doing every little thing that the prince demanded of him proved to be more of a challenge than he would have imagined. All he wanted to do was sleep. However, he still had to sharpen the silver knife it was going to be of any use in killing the black dog. In its current state it wouldn't be able to cut butter let alone a supernatural monster.
With yet another sigh, Sam took the knife out of his pocket and began to sharpen it with a stone, his mind wandering as he worked it into something of a passable weapon. Next to him, Sir Leon stirred and turned to him. "What's the matter, Merlin? Arthur piss you off again?"
Confused at the question, Sam looked at the knight. "Huh? Why do you say that?"
"Because you always sleep next to him."
Leon chuckled. "Yeah … you two are always gabbing away while the rest of try to get some sleep. You are his manservant after all and you never know when he might need you for something. Besides, look at him …" he waved towards Arthur. "He looks kind of put-out, don't you think?"
Sam turned his head and looked across the fire towards the prince. Arthur was sitting on his bedroll with his arms folded across his chest and glaring at Sam almost like a toddler that wasn't getting his way - all that was missing was his bottom lip sticking out. It would have looked comical except that under Arthur's scowl, Sam could tell that he was feeling a little abandoned because of the distance Sam had put between them, like a kid at a playground whose best friend decided to play with someone else.
Sam winced, realizing his mistake and quickly gathered up his bedroll and walked around the fire, setting up his roll again beside the prince.
"Sorry, your majesty." Sam offered up in apology, trying to smooth the royal's ruffled feathers.
"Your majesty? Wow … " Arthur scoffed, half-laughing. "What did I do to piss you off? Is that why you were way over there?"
"You didn't do anything. I just uh -"
"Forgot you were my manservant ... again?"
"I don't see how you would ever let me forget that." Sam muttered under his breath.
"What was that, Merlin?"
"Nothing ... sire." Sam quickly tried to shift gears, "Is there anything you need?"
" No. I don't need anything except for sleep, which is hard to get with all of this armour on."
"Oh… right." Sam came around behind the prince and looked for straps or something that could give him some idea of how to proceed in removing the various pieces. "Uh …"
"You know what … just forget it." Arthur growled, lowing himself onto his back and rolling his cape behind his head for a pillow. "I should sleep with it on just in case we need to get up quickly."
"Okay." Sam raised his hands in surrender and rolled his eyes at how fickle the prince was and how much he reminded him of Dean.
Arthur turned his face towards Sam with something that bordered on concern, "Maybe you should get to sleep too, Merlin. You've been acting weird all day. I know that hunting this creature so soon after it injured you has got to put you a little out of sorts, but maybe it wasn't such a great idea bringing you along this time."
"I'm fine." Sam assured the prince. "I want to help." And in truth he really did feel fine, which was kind of strange considering the fact that only a couple of days had passed since he, or rather, Merlin was injured and had lost a considerable amount of blood. Sam had had his own experiences with blood loss and it usually took days for him to start feeling better and sometimes more than a week to feel like himself again. But now … other than some soreness, he felt capable of functioning just fine. Maybe it was the magic helping him, healing him faster than normal … he just didn't know.
Arthur snorted sarcastically, "Some help you'll be. You can't even walk in a straight line without tripping."
Sam didn't respond to that retort. Considering how clumsy he felt in Merlin's body, it was probably a true statement.
"Just promise me that when we find this beast that you'll stay out of the way. The last thing we need is for you to get eaten. Who would polish my armour then?"
"Good to know you care, sire." Sam replied dryly to which Arthur grinned, looking a little relieved.
"I care about my armour – that stuff is expensive."
Sam was getting the feeling that this kind of back and forth between prince and servant was actually relaxing for the other man like it was for him and Dean. He too was beginning to let go of some of his annoyance at the prince. Clearly, the prince really did care about Merlin and there was a friendship and special, odd bond between them.
Arthur closed his eyes an drifted off to sleep while Sam laid down on his bedroll and looked up at the stars. It wasn't long before he too was out.
It didn't feel like Sam had been asleep for more than an hour when he was startled awake by a strange feeling bubbling in his gut. His fingertips tingled and he could almost hear the power of the magic inside of him calling out to be used as he sat up quickly and scanned the area, his muscles tense, his instincts anticipating action. He didn't know what had awaken him, but he seemed to be the only one effected as Arthur and the other knights slept on.
That wasn't to last for long as a loud and deep howl of something unnatural and inhuman filled the air, followed shortly by a distinctly human shout.
Sam bolted off of his bedroll, grabbing the silver knife and running for the sounds of the man's screams without a second thought.
To Be Continued ...