Merlin Season 6
Episode 2: Return of the King-Part 2
"Emrys," Mordred greeted Merlin like he was a close dear friend. "It is good to see you." He sounded like he meant it, there was no guile in the way he spoke. Merlin remained cautious with a keen eye on Mordred.
Arthur sped down the winding tunnel, he had heard the scream coming from moments ago, as fast as he could. As the tunnel went on and on the feeling that it was all some sort of trap took further hold of his mind.
"Merlin," he called out behind him. "Let's turn around. I believe it would be wise to regroup with the knights." When he received no answer, he rolled his eyes and growled. "Merlin, don't make me think that I am talking to...myself. Merlin?"
Looking over his shoulder he saw that he was indeed alone. He shook his head and asked, "Where have you gone now?"
Arthur headed back in the direction he came grumbling about how frequent his "loyal servant" abandoned him.
Merlin's whole body was on guard as he continued to watch Mordred, who stood across the cavern with a small smile on his face.
"How are you alive?" Merlin asked. "Arthur killed you."
The smile spread. "Yes, and I killed Arthur. So how is it we're both alive?" Mordred moved closer. There was something different in the way he moved, it was more fluid, more confident and more subtle than that of the young man Merlin knew.
"You accepted the help of the Aos Si." Mordred let out a small empty laugh when Merlin gulped. "The Aos Si are mostly harmless magical creatures, spectators really. But when they feel that the mortal lives they watch become boring and uneventful they do like to step in and stir things up a bit. When you called Arthur back to his body, while he was on his journey to the next life, he was not the only one that heard your call." Mordred looked down and then slowly raised his head until Merlin could see the eerie half grin on his face, "Nor was I."
Frowning Merlin asked, "What do you mean?"
A devilish gleam sparked in Mordred's eyes, "There are many souls that still wander in this world, crying out for justice. They were unfairly treated and abused while they were alive because they were feared by narrow minded men. And eventually, they were killed because of a law passed long ago by a king who thought he could rid the world of their kind and silence them forever. They are not silent, not to me. They cried out for someone to listen, for someone to give them justice. And I listened. They've given me power to walk this earth again and now I will avenge all the wrongs done to their kind…our kind."
"Mordred," Merlin said, "Uther is dead. He can no longer inflict injustice to the people of magic."
A maniacal laughter echoed through the cavern, yet Mordred's mouth was closed. The laughter bounced off the cavern walls. Merlin could not tell if it was one voice or fifty. He scanned the room, he could not see anyone besides Mordred, but he could feel the magic swirling around in the room as thick as the morning air after a heavy summer's rain. Never had he felt so much magic in one place.
Merlin took a cautious step forward. "Mordred, please listen to me. Give Arthur a chance. I know that he will right the wrongs done to our kind. He is not his father."
"YOU'RE WRONG!" Mordred cried savagely louder than twenty men, his face twisted hideously until he was unrecognizable. "He has been on the thrown for years and he has yet to lift the law that forbids magic. He has been given many chances and he has failed to listen to the cries and relieve the suffering of our kind." Taking a deep breath, Mordred continued, "I know about the offer the Disir gave him. Arthur believed that the Disir would save my life if he but lift the law that forbids magic and he still refused. He pretended to care for me. What he didn't know was that the Disir saved me because he wouldn't lift the law and show respect for the Old Religion."
"How do you know that?" Merlin asked shocked.
"I know a lot of things, I hear a lot of things. As you can see, Emrys, I am not the ignorant child you once knew. Those that have gone before me have taught me many things." Mordred inclined his head toward Merlin, "Such as how to summon and command dark magical creatures."
"You're the one controlling the Shrieker," Merlin stated a fact he had already easily guessed. "But why? You are doing nothing but spreading fear of magic. Our kind will suffer more because of you than ever before. What do you hope to gain?"
"Unity," he answered simply, his face showed determination. "If pushed too far, the people of the Old Religion, the druids and all those that hide their true self will come together and rise up. We will take not only Camelot but all of Albion, they will know our power," he snarled, "and they will reap the pain of all the injustice we suffered."
"I will not let that happen," Merlin said with a bark in his tone.
This time the maniacal laughter that echoed off the cavern walls came from Mordred. He threw his head back as he continued to laugh like an insane man. Once the laughter died out he slowly rolled it forward looking at Merlin again. "You will not only allow it to happen, but you will lead us."
"You are insane," Merlin said and he meant it. It was more than the fact that Mordred thought Merlin would lead the people of magic to war, it was the way he laughed, the way he spoke, and the way he moved. It was Mordred's body and maybe even Mordred's spirit but others, unseen being, were with him.
"I may be insane but you are in denial of your true destiny." Mordred reached into a pocket on the inside of his cloak. "I thought about revealing your secret in hopes of forcing you to join me and then I stumbled on to this." He pulled out a small white crystal. "You know what this is."
Mordred tossed the crystal and it landed with a Thunk! and then rolled until it was at Merlin's feet. Unwillingly, Merlin found himself looking into the Crystal of Neahtid. The future started to play out yet again before Merlin. In the midst of the crystal Merlin stood with the druids and many others, all whose eyes glowed gold, gathered behind him. Merlin's eyes began to glow too and he saw himself raising his hands and then slowly forming fists like he was crushing a rock. As he did the the walls of Camelot began to crumble to the ground. Hundreds of terrified cries rose up, filling the skies.
"No!" Merlin cried, kicking the crystal away. "That's not possible. I would never turn against Arthur. I would never use magic to destroy Camelot."
"I do not have to convince you," Mordred said solemnly like he understood Merlin's conflict. "You saw yourself where you truly belong. Did not the Aos Si warn you that bringing Arthur back would cause even more destruction to the people of magic than ever before? If you allow him to become his father, where will you place your loyalty then?"
Merlin shook his head vigorously as if trying to shake out the images he just saw. "No. Arthur will never become like Uther. Aos Si knew that bringing Arthur back would result in you coming back as well. You are the cause of why the people of magic will suffer more than ever before."
Mordred lifted his shoulders carelessly, "Time will tell." Then he picked up the crystal Merlin had kicked back to him and examined it with a smile. "But the future is already set in motion." He turned back and threw Merlin a goodbye smile.
"No!" Merlin shot out an arm and caused the rocks to fall from the cavern ceiling over Mordred, but it was too late. Mordred's body had already disappeared rising into the air piece by piece until there was nothing left where he stood.
Merlin fell to his knees covering his face with his hands, "No," he moaned.
Arthur leaned against the wall near the small opening to the cavern where he had been quietly listening. He closed his eyes for a moment like he was pondering what he should do and then pushed himself off the wall and entered the cavern. "Merlin, what happen?"
Merlin, startled, looked up as Arthur approached. Arthur hovered over him waiting patiently for Merlin to answer. "Mordred," Merlin barely croaked out, "is alive."
"How is that possible?"
Merlin held his tongue.
"Merlin, we've discussed this. No more secrets. I need the truth from you."
Standing up, Merlin nodded.
"I wasn't able to heal you in time, like I said," he blurted out. Tears formed at the brim of Merlin's eyes. "You died, Arthur. I failed you. Then the Aos Si, creature of the other world, helped me bring you back. But bringing you back woke the souls of those that were put to death because they did magic. From what I understand they used their power and brought Mordred back and now he plans on turning everyone against those of magic forcing them to unite." Merlin rubbed his hands over his face, "This is all my fault."
It took Arthur a while to ponder what Merlin had just told him. "No," Arthur said. "Perhaps it was my time to die. If I living is the cause of all this..."
Merlin violently shook his head, "No matter what the consequences are, if there is a way to save you, I will always take it."
"Arthur, I fervently believe that your existence in this world is always for the better. You cannot blame yourself for other people's choices."
"Then neither can you," Arthur retorted raising a brow.
Merlin had no choice but to agree. "Mordred controls the Shrieker, he is the one that is causing all the magical creatures to cause chaos."
"Then we will kill the Shrieker." Arthur smiled like it was just that simple.
"I don't know how, but Gaius might."
Merlin and Arthur headed back out of the cave. Just as they saw the light of mid-day Arthur placed a hand on Merlin's shoulder. Turning around, Merlin could see the troubled look on Arthur's face in the little bit of sunlight that fell upon them.
"What is it?" Merlin asked concerned. He looked over Arthur's body to make sure he was not hurt. When he saw nothing he returned his gaze back to his face. "Arthur?"
Arthur lifted his eyes to meet Merlin's. "You know you can trust me." Though Arthur didn't pose it as a question he still seemed to wait for a response.
"Of course," Merlin replied quickly.
"Good," Arthur nodded with a slight smile. "I just wanted to know, did Mordred tell you anything else?"
Arthur was so focused on Merlin's response that it made him squirm a little. Shaking his head, Merlin answered, "No."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah," Merlin swallowed. "I told you everything."
Arthur continued to watch Merlin's face but when Merlin said nothing more, he frowned and continued on out of the cave. Merlin watched as Arthur walked passed him. Merlin's face showed concern and worry, like he could tell Arthur was angry with him for some reason. He couldn't possibly know what Merlin was hiding, could he?
As they came to the opening, they were greeted by the bright afternoon sun and the band of knights. In Percival's arms a young girl lay asleep.
"We found her trapped in a large whole," Leon told Arthur. "She was close to death, but she will be fine. We fed her some bread and as you can see she sleeps quite comfortably in Percival's arms." Leon smiled mischievously when Percival blushed.
"Let's get her back to her father and then we will head to Camelot."
"What about the rumors of Mordred?" Leon asked.
"I will explain on the way."
Arthur did explain, mostly. He left out anything to do with Merlin. The knights didn't question anything because they had seen stranger things caused by magic. Even though Arthur didn't fully approve of Merlin's magic, it was nice to know he could trust him with his secret. Merlin clenched his shirt near his heart, he could feel the guilt of yet another secret. He had not told Arthur about what he saw in the crystal. But how could he?
Their trip back to Camelot was swift. They wasted no time after they had returned the young girl. However, Merlin didn't fail to notice the cold way Arthur was treating him. When they stopped for a short rest to water the horses and eat, Merlin hadn't even gotten off his horse before Arthur was bossing him around.
"Merlin, water the horses," he commanded without a hint of kindness. "While you're at it, gather some wood for a fire."
"I thought we weren't stopping long?"
"Whether we are, or whether we're not, I want a fire," Arthur snapped.
Merlin frowned but did as he was told. He was just gathering the horses' reigns when Arthur yelled, "Be quick about it." Merlin looked up at the rest of the knights who all looked at Arthur, who was resting under a tree, and then to Merlin. They all wore the same expression of confusion.
Leon smiled, "I'll gather some wood while you tend to the horses."
Before Merlin could offer any thanks Arthur growled, "No need." He glared at Merlin from where he was sitting. "Merlin can handle everything himself. Can't you Merlin? He doesn't need to rely on anyone for anything."
He was definitely mad about something. "Yes, Sire," Merlin bowed humbly.
Once the horses were watered and wood was piled up high in Merlin's arms, he returned to camp. He dropped the wood at his feet, Arthur and the knights where all back on their horses. They looked rested, fed and ready to go. Merlin also didn't fail to notice how all the knights averted their eyes.
"Merlin," Arthur rolled his eyes impatiently. "Hurry up, we don't have time for you to take nature walks."
Gritting his teeth, Merlin got back on his horse. "Any food left?" he tried to sound pleasant.
The knights continued to look away.
"Yes," Arthur responded. "We saved you one roll of bread..."
Merlin sighed with relief as his stomach growled.
"...until I ate it." Arthur's smile seemed to dare Merlin to get angry.
Keeping his face reserved Merlin said, "That's okay. I've been meaning to cut back on my food intake. Wouldn't want to get fat." Merlin returned Arthur's smile.
For the rest of the trip the knights were all wise enough to stay clear of whatever was going on between the king and his manservant. Merlin lagged behind glaring at Arthur's back, he didn't know what Arthur was upset about but he wasn't going to take his abuse.
Once in Camelot, Arthur assembled his knights. He told them of Mordred's return and that it was not to be spread outside their circle. Then he sent sets of knights to different parts of the land surrounding the White Mountains. They were to kill any magical creatures that were tormenting his people and then return to Camelot.
While Arthur was meeting with his knights Merlin was with Gaius searching through the books to find a way to destroy the Shrieker. He had told Gaius everything he had told Arthur, but Gaius, sensing there was more asked, "Is that all you learned from Mordred?"
Not able to hold back, Merlin answered, "I saw the future again."
It was obvious by the way Gaius's features darkened that he took this as bad news. "And what did you see?"
"Me leading the people of magic against Camelot. Mordred is so convinced that I will eventually join his cause that he didn't even attack me. He appeared completely unthreatened by me. I know it to be impossible and yet, I have seen the future many times before and no matter what I did to avoid it, it always came to pass."
Gaius frowned thoughtfully as he flipped to another page in his book. "How could that be? This must be some trick of Mordred's."
"I don't think so."
Gaius came around the table and placed a hand on Merlin's shoulder. "Remember, the future is not set in stone."
"What if it is?"
Reading Merlin's thoughts, Gaius responded, "Just because you saw it in a stone, it does not mean that it is unchangeable. You must control your own destiny, Merlin," Gaius told him firmly.
"But how can I know what choices won't lead to that destiny?" Merlin began flipping through the book of magical creatures when Gaius offered him no answers. He flipped the pages a few more times and then stopped and went back a page. "I found it."
Opening the book wide, Merlin turned it so that Gaius could see it too. A picture of the Shrieker with the body of a long, slender man and the wings of a bat was drawn on the left. A black smudge was where the head should be. Gaius ran a finger over the page and started reading.
"The Shrieker is a dark creature born from the decaying body of dragon bones. It is blind therefore it emanates a high pitched shriek to navigate through the skies. It is said that the Shrieker's true face is unknown even to itself. When looked upon its face will appear as the one creature you fear the most. Feared by all other creatures, the Shrieker has the power to compel them to do its bidding."
"That's why there are so many magical creatures causing trouble," Merlin said. "The Shrieker is being controlled by Mordred and Mordred is forcing the Shrieker to cause all the other magical creatures to attack people."
"But that doesn't explain how Mordred has control over the Shrieker or how to kill it," Gaius pointed out as he flipped to the next page. "There is nothing else in this book about the Shrieker, but there may be something..." Gaius went to a bookshelf and pushed some books aside and then pulled out another book hidden behind them. He opened it up. "This may have something helpful, it's a book of dark magic and I believe," he continued to say while flipping through the pages, "it may tell us how Mordred is able to control the Shrieker. Here it is, it says, to possess the bone of a magical creatures is to control it. I am not sure if that is how Mordred has gained control over the Shrieker but it is a possibility. Shriekers are very powerful magical creatures and I doubt Mordred knows of any incantation, if there are any, that can control a Shrieker."
The door to Gaius's door swung open and Arthur stepped in.
"What have we learned," he demanded.
"Not much," Gaius admitted. "We believe that Mordred possesses the bone of a Shrieker and that is how he is controlling it. Since all other creatures fear the Shrieker they will do as the Shrieker commands and in turn what Mordred commands."
"Hmm," Arthur looked thoughtful. "Since Mordred will be harder to find then we will have to go after the Shrieker."
"That will not be so easy. Shriekers are born from the bones of a dead dragon. Dragon bones are harder and denser than any metal. In order to pierce the skin of a Shrieker you will need the bone of a dragon."
"That is a problem," Arthur said. "Dragons are all extinct besides the white one we saw while battle the Saxons. How are we going to find a bone?"
Hesitantly, Merlin said, "I might know of someone who may know where a dragon graveyard is."
"And who would this someone be?" Arthur raised is brow suspiciously.
Merlin shrugged, "An old friend."
"Does this old friend of yours also know magic?"
"No, but he knows a lot about it."
"And why am I just hearing about him?"
"Because he's a very private person and he doesn't like many visitors but you can trust him."
"Trust me," Merlin added with a smile.
Rolling his eyes, Arthur said, "Go."
After grabbing a few things, Merlin left after telling Arthur, "I'll be back before morning."
Pursing his lips, Arthur turned to Gaius.
"You'll have to give him time," Gaius told him calmly. "Merlin has had to keep secrets all his life, it is not easy for him just to be open. But if it will make you feel better, his heart is always in the right place."
"It better be," Arthur scowled. "But you tell him this, if he wants to earn my complete trust again and remain in Camelot, he had better stop keeping secrets." With that said, Arthur swept passed Gaius and out the door.
Arthur entered his chamber that night discouraged. He sat down on his bed and was soon joined by Gwen.
"What is it, Arthur?"
"Merlin, who else."
"What has he done now?" She asked soothingly.
"He's infuriating," Arthur practically exploded coming to his feet. "I overheard his conversation with Mordred in the cave. He didn't know I was there. But I heard something and when I asked him about it...he lied straight to my face. Just a few days ago he looked me in the eye and said he didn't want to lie to me anymore and then what does he do?"
"He lies to you," Gwen answered.
"He lies to me," Arthur repeated almost shouting.
Gwen stood up and placed a hand on her husband's shoulder. "What did you overhear?"
There was a long pause before Arthur answered, "I heard Mordred tell Merlin that one day Merlin will lead the people of magic."
"How could that be?"
"I don't know. I couldn't see anything from where I stood but Merlin seemed very upset about it, like he was afraid it may actually be true."
Arthur turned to look at Gwen. "I am trying to trust him again but even now he's off seeing some old friend that he won't tell me about."
Taking Arthur's hand, Gwen guided him back to the bed. "Have patience with him. After everything he has done for you and Camelot, I believe he deserves it." Then with a mischievous smile she added, "Besides, you're not always the easiest person to tell things to."
"You do have a slight temper."
Arthur jumped to his feet, "I do not."
Laughing, Gwen said, "I think throwing things at Merlin and piling up a list of ridiculous chores, Merlin would disagree."
Arthur took in a deep breath, "Fine. I will practice patience with him. But he better not wait too long or I'll show him more than a slight temper."
It took Merlin a few hours ride to make it to where the Great Dragon rested in his cave. Upon his approach, the Great Dragon lifted his weary head. "Young warlock, I am very pleased to see you."
"And I you old friend," Merlin responded solemnly. "How are you doing?"
"Well for my age," the Great Dragon said. "But I sense you have again come to me troubled."
Merlin nodded. "I am sorry to ask so much of you."
"I am pleased, Merlin, to be of help to you until I reach the last of my days in this world. Now what troubles you?"
"Mordred has returned, and it is my fault. By calling Arthur back from the dead I also set in motion the dark magic that brought Mordred. He uses the powers of the sorcerers who have been sentenced to death by King Uther. And now he wishes to turn everyone against the people of the Old Religion so they will unite and bring war to all the kingdoms. The worst of it is, I saw myself in the Crystal of Neahtid leading the people of magic against Camelot. Yet, I know I would never betray Arthur but all that I've ever foreseen has come true. I don't know how this could be."
Deep understanding passed in the Great Dragon's blazing eyes. "Do you remember what I said you when I first told you it was your destiny to protect Arthur?"
Merlin looked up.
"I said that none of us can choose our destiny and none of us can escape it."
"So you are saying that what I saw in the crystal is my destiny?" Merlin was confused, what he saw in the crystal conflicted with his destiny to stand by Arthur's side and unite the land of Albion.
"That is for you to find out for yourself, but know this, Young Warlock, your destiny remains the same and always will. I wish I could be of more help."
Merlin sighed then said, "Perhaps you can help me with something else. Mordred controls a Shrieker."
"A very rare and dangerous magical creature."
"Yes, and he is using the Shrieker to control other magical creatures. In order to kill a Shrieker we need to find a dragon's bone."
"This I can help you with. There is a dragon's graveyard hidden deep in the Valley of the Fallen Kings, where all the dragon's bodies were placed after Uther slaughtered my kin. Travel along the eastern stream and it will lead you to the dragon's grave."
"Thank you old friend."
Merlin turned to leave but the Great Dragon halted him. "Merlin, Shriekers are related to dragons. It is possible that you may be able to control it long enough to deliver a deadly blow."
Merlin nodded and then took off back to Camelot. Arthur and he could waste no time if they wanted to stop Mordred spreading the fear of magic any farther.
Dawn crested over the horizon as Merlin and Arthur readied their horses for departure.
"Are you sure your old friend's information is good?" Arthur asked.
Considering that a dragon was the one to tell Merlin where to find a dragon's grave, Merlin answered, "I'm pretty sure."
"Let's hope so. I've had reports back from multiple knights that more and more magical creature are appearing. Farmers have left their fields and don't dare to go out. This needs to end now."
Merlin could only shake his head in agreement as he mounted his horse. Moments later he and Arthur road out at full speed toward the Valley of the Fallen Kings.
In a village not far from Camelot, Leon ran like a lion was chasing him to the open doors of a large barn. A mound of dirt was on his heels. Once he reached the barn he threw himself at the open doors narrowly escaping a rat-like creature who popped out of the ground trying to grab him with its long claws. The villagers all huddled together in the barn trapped while Thorpes, nasty creatures the size of large dogs that buried people and then fed on their rotting flesh, circled around the barn looking for a way in.
Percival pulled Leon to his feet. When Percival raised a brow, Leon said shaking his head, "It was too late the family was already gone."
With slumped shoulders, Percival looked at all the frighten villagers. "What are we going to do? There are too many of them for us alone to handle."
"We will have to think of something."
Leaning in, Percival asked in a hushed tone, "I fear Mordred's plan is working. These people aren't ignorant, they know these creature appeared because of dark magic. Fear will only push a man so far before he takes up arms and fights back."
"Yes, which is exactly what Mordred wants. The people of the Old Religion have been persecuted for years, who knows what their breaking point will be."
Some of the villagers screamed when the barn began to tilt to the right. Over twenty Thorpes circled the barn digging underneath.
"Perhaps we should worry about Mordred later," Leon suggested, "and first try to find a way out of this mess."
"Agreed," Percival added. "Very soon those disgusting creatures are going to bury this whole barn."
Leon climbed up one of the barrels of hay and looked out a small narrow window. Across the field was a little pond. "I have an idea," he said.
"Is it a good one?" Percival asked skeptically.
"It's an idea."
Blowing out a mouth full of air, Percival said, "Let's do it."
After hearing Leon's idea, Percival found himself climbing the rafters to make his way to a window that he'd climb through in order to get to the roof of the barn. He grumbled when he found himself momentarily stuck going through the window. "Sure, send the biggest man through the smallest window."
Once on top of the roof he looked over the edge. "This is going to hurt." He flung himself as far as he could and landed with a thud. He had no time to rest before the mounds of dirt raced toward him. The pond was a hundred yards away and he'd would have to reach it before the Thorpes caught him, sore ankle and all.
Through the small window, Leon sent arrows at the mounds of dirt killing the few that got too close to Percival. A yard away, Percival dove into the cold, murky water. He had made it. The mounds of dirt stopped before they reached the pond and turned back around. Percival stripped himself of his armor and with the breast plate began digging a canal to the tunnel the Thorpes had made to chase him. It took a few minutes but once he broke through the last wall of dirt, the pond water began to flood the tunnels of the Thorpes.
Like spring flowers, the Thorpes' fury bodies with their long snouts began to pop out of the ground. The doors of the barn burst open and Leon, followed by every villager, ran out of the barn carry pitchforks, large pieces of wood and every other object they could use to kill the nasty creatures. Percival let out a Whoop! and grabbed his sword.
The Thorpes hissed and growled as they began to fall one by one. A few buried themselves back underground running for their lives but the majority were killed. When it was over the villagers cried joyously.
"That was a good idea," Percival told Leon, slapping him on the back. "But what are we going to do about their now drained pond?"
Leon looked at the muddy bottom of the villager's once beautiful pond. A few fish flapped around on the bottom suffocating and the frogs around the pond croaked.
"We should probably get back to Camelot," Leon said ignoring Percival's question.
With a chuckle, Percival said, "Probably."
Deep in the Valley of the Fallen Kings, Merlin and Arthur raced their horses at the bottom of a ravine as a pack of gigantic scorpions chased them with their long clawed hands. Their stingers struck the sides of the ravine causing many fallen rocks to slow their prey's retreat.
"I hate these things," Merlin yelled.
Arthur didn't spare a glance back when he asked, "You've dealt with them before?"
"When Morgause tried to kill me."
"Morgause tried to kill? We are going to have a long conversation."
Arthur spared a quick glance behind him and managed to dodge one of the scorpion's long tail by sliding to the side of his horse. Maintaining a good grip on his reigns, he swung at the tail with Excalibur chopping off the scorpion's stinger. Yellow juice squirted from the now severed end falling to the ground and dissolving anything it touched. "Just not right now," Arthur said breathlessly.
A loud shriek was heard overhead, sure enough, the shadow of the Shrieker passed over them.
"I think Mordred knows what we're up to," Arthur said.
More giant scorpions appeared up ahead crawling along the ravine walls cutting off Arthur and Merlin's escape route. Their horses came to an abrupt halt, rearing up and backing away from the giant scorpions that were drawing closer on every side. Arthur skillfully swung his sword cutting off more scorpion stingers here and there.
"Arthur," Merlin called out.
Arthur glanced to Merlin and saw that his eyes were glowing a bright gold.
Without arguing, Arthur wrapped his arm around his head. He heard Merlin shout some words and then the ground began to rumble. Peeking out, he saw large rocks break away from the ravine walls. The rocks tumbled down sounding like violent thunder as they crushed the giant scorpions around them. A few scorpions scurried away frantically, but most were caught in the avalanche of falling rocks. The part of the scorpion's bodies that were not flattened under the boulders twitched and then eventually stopped moving.
When it was over and the dust around them settled, Arthur sheathed his sword. "You couldn't have done that before?"
Merlin scratched at a spot at the back of his neck, "I forgot that I didn't have to hide my magic."
"Next time, try to remember sooner." Arthur kicked his horse and it began to climb the ravine walls.
"You're welcome," Merlin mumbled kicking his horse.
"What," Arthur said glancing back with a mischievous smile. "Now that I know you're the one saving me all the time you expect some kind of reward?"
"No," Merlin said indignantly. "But is a smidgen of gratitude too much to ask for?"
Arthur raised a brow.
"Apparently," Merlin growled pushing his horse past Arthur's.
Merlin turned around with brooding eyebrows.
"Thank you," Arthur said showing great sincerity.
Merlin's face first showed surprise and then it turned into a wide grin, "Was that so hard for your royal highness?"
Arthur scowled. "You're pushing it."
Again the Shrieker flew overhead reminding them why they were here. Without another word they both kicked their horses into high gear. The cry of the Shrieker grew louder. It was closing in. They stopped when they heard the Shrieker was close up ahead.
"How much farther?" Arthur asked.
"I'm not sure."
"Well...do your thing," Arthur told him wiggling his left fingers by his eyes.
Merlin's mouth fell opened. "What is," Merlin wiggled his fingers by his eyes mimicking Arthur, "that supposed to be?"
"You know," Arthur pointed a hand toward the forest, "look ahead."
Merlin looked insulted, "Is that your impression of me using magic?"
"You don't see me doing a stupid impression of you wielding your sword."
Rolling his eyes, Merlin did as Arthur requested. Seeing through the forest he came upon the dragon's graveyard. "It's not far."
With that they took off. The sound of branches breaking overhead stopped them just before the Shrieker crashed through the trees. Their horses reared up so high that they fell over backward knocking off their riders. The horses took off as the Shrieker, standing over nine feet tall, spreading its wings out, let out an earsplitting cry.
Arthur was quick on his feet, striking at the Shrieker before he could take a swipe with its own claws. When Excalibur clashed with the skin of the Shrieker it made a loud Clang! but no harm was done to the Shrieker.
"We need the bone of a dragon," Merlin said coming to his feet.
"Thank you, Merlin," Arthur continued to fend off the Shrieker, "I forgot why we came on this quest. How do propose we get around him?" The Shrieker swiped at Arthur who rolled to one side dodging the attack.
"Like this." Using magic, Merlin pulled back a large branch behind the Shrieker and released it. The branch broke, splintering off in a hundred pieces when it hit the Shriekers skull. The Shrieker cried out angrily at Merlin and took off toward him. Merlin was quick to run, "Get the bone!" he yelled over his shoulder.
Arthur didn't hesitate as he ran as fast as he could through the forest. He skidded to a halt just before a small cliff. Down below large dragon bones were scattered everywhere but there was no time to take in the scene of hundreds of dragon bones. Climbing down, he scanned the sea of bones for one that would suit his purpose.
The Shrieker was close. Taking in a deep breath, Merlin turned around and roared in the Dragonlord's tongue for the Shrieker to halt. The Shrieker did stop under the power of Merlin's voice, but not for long. The Shrieker's long slender hands covered its grotesque head and it cried out while it whipped its head back and forth trying to break Merlin's spell. When the Shrieker took a step forward, Merlin took that as a bad sign and began running again.
Breaking through the line of trees, Merlin didn't have time to stop himself before he rolled down a cliff and crashed into dragon bones. Groaning, Merlin rolled onto his side and slowly back onto his feet.
Moments later, the Shrieker broke through the trees and glided down landing right in front of Merlin. Strengthening his stance, Merlin raised his hands commanding fire to separate himself from the Shrieker.
Up on top of the cliff, Merlin could see Arthur with a long, sharp dragon bone in his hands. He nodded at Merlin and Merlin nodded back. Whispering in the Dragonlord's tongue loud enough so only the Shrieker could hear, he commanded it to back up. The Shrieker covered his head fighting against Merlin's power. Merlin lifted his hands and used a spell to shove the Shrieker back even more.
Arthur sank low ready to pounce on the Shrieker when it was in position. One more push from Merlin sent the Shrieker back into Arthur's reach. Arthur leapt from his spot on the small cliff. He brought the sharp dragon bone down piercing the back of the Shrieker's neck. The Shrieker thrashed about trying to get Arthur off its back. Arthur yelled out as one of the claws scratched Arthur at his waste. The Shrieker tried to cry but all it did was let out a loud gurgle as it fell to the ground. Arthur rolled off the Shrieker's back and landed on one knee.
Once the Shrieker lay dead with oozing blood coming out of its throat, Arthur let out a groan grabbing at his side.
Merlin ran toward Arthur kneeling down beside him. "Let me see," he demanded.
"It's just a scratch," Arthur said pulling his hand away from his bloody side. The Shriekers claws tore through Arthur's chainmail.
"Just a scratch?" Merlin asked doubtfully, then he lightly patted the open wound.
Arthur rolled to his unwounded side and growled painfully, "Merlin."
"You're being a big baby for just a scratch."
"I can heal this," Merlin assured him with a smile.
Arthur looked a bit weary at first then he nodded for Merlin to go ahead.
Merlin placed both hands over the wound. He closed his eyes and whispered an enchantment. The wound slowly began to close until there was nothing left but the torn chainmail and bloody clothes as evidence.
Arthur sat up and twisted at the waist with a look of surprise. "That is a neat trick."
With a laugh Merlin said, "I used to have to wait until you lost consciousness from a wound before I could heal you."
Arthur chuckled at what Merlin had just admitted. Merlin helped Arthur to his feet and then they went in search of their run away horses.
A couple hours later as they were approaching Camelot Arthur noticed Merlin's silence. "Is there is something you want to ask me Merlin? I can tell by the way you keep opening your mouth and closing it again that there is something you want to say or ask."
When Merlin didn't respond right away, Arthur prompted again with his usual impatient way he said Merlin's name.
"I was just wondering…"
"With all that has happened to you and Camelot because of the result of magic. And now with Mordred and all the trouble he is now causing. Do you believe magic is corrupt?"
Arthur turned his horse around. Merlin appeared deeply troubled.
"As you can imagine," Arthur started, "I have been giving this a lot of thought recently. But I've come to the conclusion that magic is only another form a power and I believe power in all its forms, whether as a leader, a skilled swordsman or as a sorcerer, can corrupt if we are not careful. You are no more in danger of becoming corrupt as I am. We both need to be careful and remember that power should be used to protect and not to destroy."
Arthur watched as Merlin's troubled look slowly disappeared.
They continued their journey back to Camelot with Merlin in awe at Arthur's words. Merlin thoughts had been overcome by the fear that one day he would join Mordred but after what Arthur said, it put most of his fears to rest. How did Arthur know exactly what to say to comfort Merlin? It was like Arthur knew what was troubling him.
Once Arthur and Merlin reached the Citadel they were greeted by Gwen and Gaius. Gwen ran to Arthur throwing her arms around him and then kissing him on the mouth.
Gaius wrapped an arm around Merlin's shoulders. "Don't expect the same kind of greeting from me," he said looking at Gwen and Arthur.
That night Arthur got reports that most of the magical creatures had been killed and the rest had disappeared. After the meeting Merlin walked with Arthur back to his chamber.
"This, I'm afraid, it but a small victory," Arthur said sounding discouraged.
"I'm not sure it was a victory at all," Merlin sighed heavily. "Mordred already accomplished what he wanted. The kingdom knows there is dark magic in the land; that evil magic didn't end with Morgana."
They walked down the hall a little farther before Arthur stopped and said, "Merlin," he placed a hand on his servant's shoulders.
Merlin responded with a look of concern.
"I've decided, I'm going to trust you...completely from now on."
Merlin blinked, unable to say anything to Arthur's declaration of trust.
"Well, only about certain things," Arthur clarified.
Merlin let out a laugh, "You can't say you're going to trust me completely and then take it back."
"Come on, I'm not going to trust your opinion on woman or style in clothing attire. Or your incompetent way of handling a sword or any weapon for that matter."
"Oh, well that's all right." Merlin seemed unaffected by the insult. "I don't completely trust you with everything either."
"Like what?" Arthur asked, sounding like there couldn't be anything he shouldn't be trusted with.
"Like your inept ability to give a sincere apology, your complete lack of respect for your most valuable servant and your incompetent way of saying thank you or showing any gratitude for that matter."
Arthur's eyes narrowed but whatever he was about to say was interrupted by Gwen's presence. "Boys," she said coming to Arthur's side, "are we getting along."
"Perfectly," Arthur answered, turning to her and giving her a reassuring smile.
"Good," then she opened up the chamber door and went inside.
Arthur was about to follow her but Merlin asked, "Arthur, what did you see when you looked at the Shrieker?"
There was a moment of hesitation and then Arthur said with a shrug, "A dragon's head. Don't misunderstand, I'm not afraid of a dragon but ever since seeing that white dragon when we battled the Saxons they've been on my mind. I was sure after we destroyed that egg that all the dragons were extinct but I wonder how many more unseen threats are out there."
"Oh," Merlin said, then he bid the king good night.
Gaius found Merlin an hour later sitting on his bed nervously rubbing his hands together. Taking a seat next to him, Gaius asked, "Did things not go so well between you and Arthur today?"
"Everything was fine," Merlin responded with his focus remaining on the ground. "Arthur even told me that he is going to trust me again."
"So soon? That's wonderful."
"It would be if he could trust me, but there is still so much he doesn't know, so much I am still hiding from him. He doesn't know that I am the one who released the Great Dragon and caused all that destruction on Camelot or that I am the one that saved the White Dragon. And he doesn't know about what Mordred showed me in the crystal." Merlin gave Gaius a desperate look, "What should I do?"
Gaius thought for a moment and then said, "Why don't you start with having something to eat after such a long day and let tomorrow sort itself out."
Nodding, Merlin stood up and followed Gaius out of his room.
EPISODE 3 COMING OCTOBER 12, 2013
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Also, check out (A Grim Awakening The Forest of Hollow) on Amazon. My first published novel.