AN: Happy Halloween everyone!
This story is very loosely based off of a local legend around where I live that has always given me the creeps. I'll explain more about the legend at the end so I don't spoil anything. I've never written horror or anything but I hope you guys enjoy it nonetheless.
Guinevere chuckled as Gwaine attempted to detangle himself from a branch which Arthur may or may not have let go of on purpose. Arthur turned and gave her a mischievous smile as Gwaine's horse continued to walk, pulling the branch along with it.
Gwaine cursed and finally just yanked the branch from the tree, riding along with the end of the long stick dragging on the ground as he attempted to detangle it from his cloak without getting any tears. Elyan and Percival were nearly falling off their horses in laughter.
Guinevere glanced around Arthur to Merlin who was smiling and chuckling, thought not nearly as wildly as the other two. He caught her eye and gave her a bigger smile, one that she couldn't help but mirror. She turned her attention back to her horse and took a deep breath.
It was not often she got to go out with the knights. She hardly ever left the castle at all in fact, except to visit the lower town, so this was a rare treat. A laughter like bells pulled her eyesight towards her other side and she smiled at her good friend, Princess Mithian. It was quite strange that she could become so close to someone who almost married her husband, but she knew they carried no feelings for each other now and Mithian was a good friend.
They had been traveling to Nemeth for trade negotiations and Mithian had asked to return to Camelot with them. Camelot and Nemeth were very different and she enjoyed the change in scenery, it would also be a way to strengthen their alliance. Guinevere suspected she had other reasons as well, watching Merlin and Mithian closely, but if there was something going on between the two of them, they were fairly good at hiding it.
It was getting dark when Leon, who was in front, suggested they stop for the knight. Arthur agreed and soon they were sitting around a roaring campfire. Mithian and Guinevere huddled close together to preserve warmth. The light was fading fast and it was almost completely dark now.
Percival was poking at the fire and stopped to look around. "We must be near cry baby bridge." he commented.
The others glanced at him in confusion. "What's that?" Arthur asked.
Percival smiled broadly. "None of you have heard of cry baby bridge?" Percival asked, they all shook their heads. "Where the Goatman is said to wander?" He asked again hoping for some kind of sign of recognition. "Ah, I've heard this story." Gwaine stated with a broad smile.
"What the hell is a goatman?" Arthur asked loudly. Percival glanced over at the ladies a little hesitantly.
"Well I could tell you the story but it's not for the faint of heart."
Guinevere was pretty sure she did not want to hear the story if she was planning on sleeping at all for the next few weeks, but Mithian's eyes lit up brightly. "Oh please tell it! We'll be fine, right Gwen?" She asked looking over to her companion.
Gwen gave a weak smile and nodded. Percival glanced at the rest of their party, but no one was going to admit to being afraid when a princess had already risen to the challenge.
The rest of them nodded in agreement, even Merlin leaned forward in anticipation.
Percival threw the stick he was holding into the fire and backed up to sit on a log. He was already tall but the area he sat on made him tower over the others, even while sitting down.
His face became somber, his smile disappearing and then he lifted his head to look at them, his deep serious voice giving them chills. "There is a legend of an old hermit who used to live in these very woods, next to the roaring river." He began.
"The hermit had no need for human contact. He required nothing but himself to survive and he despised anyone who trespassed on his land, and few ever did. You see, this man was a sorcerer." Percival glanced at Arthur a little nervously, but Arthur just nodded for him to continue. "He spent day and night experimenting with different spells, there were tales of him capturing travelers to try out his different spells on them. There were rumors of horrible sounds, screams coming from his property. It got to the point where travelers would avoid passing through the town nearby."
Percival had their attention, that was for sure, but none of them were on the edge of their seat… yet. "Several weeks went by, the town was suffering from lack of trade, not one single person wandered in. Finally the hermit himself stormed into the town. People shied away from him, it was difficult to get close to any of them. He did not want to risk angering the town by taking one of their own. Instead he spotted a goat, tied to a gate next to an old woman in a black dress.
'Let me buy your goat.' The hermit demanded.
'Only if you promise not to kill me.' The old woman replied.
The hermit was anxious and edgy. 'I promise not to kill you.' he told the old woman.
'I know you are a sorcerer, swear to me through magic.'
The man did as she asked.
'Give me some sort of talisman, as a symbol of your promise.'
The man did not have anything on him, so he bought a necklace and enchanted it with his promise, so that he would never be able to kill the woman. She placed it around her neck and sold him the goat.
That night the most horrible screams the town had ever heard ripped through the town, so that every man, woman and child covered their ears to block out the sound. The scream was not human and not beast either and it had even the bravest of men shaking in their boots.
"When daylight came ten men from the village ventured to the old hermit's house. The door had been ripped off its hinges, the inside was completely torn apart, furniture broken, pottery shattered, feathers blowing around the floor from the bedding, and there was blood covering every inch of the hovel.
"As they stared in horror the scream from the previous night ripped through the air again, the men did not even look at each other as they turned and ran from the house all the way back to the town, to tell the others what they had seen. For years no one approached the house and many people from the town moved on, no longer being able to stand the fear. The town was much smaller and emptier than it had once been, but people began to forget. Rumors became legends and the people grew less afraid. The villagers returned to the hermit's property, the shack had long ago been burnt down. As a symbol to show that they were no longer afraid they built a bridge on the property. For awhile there was peace, the town grew and became prosperous once again.
"Still the legend remained. Four young men set out to the bridge, intending to catch a sign of the old hermit, though he would long ago have died of old age. One of the boys was dared to cross under the bridge in the dead of night. He was afraid and begged them not to make him go. They called him a 'cry baby' which is where the bridge received its name.
"The others laughed as he entered under but their laughter was cut short when terrible sounds tore through the air and the scream of their friend sent their hearts running. None brave enough to help, they all ran back to the village.
"The elders inspected the next day, but there was no sign of the boy, or what had taken him."
It had grown dark now, except for the fire. Percival leaned closer, the fire cast eery shadows on his face and Guinevere felt her hand gripping Mithian's arm tighter.
"No one dared go under the bridge after that, but travelers began disappearing again. The men of the village having had enough grouped together and went to the bridge, armed with axes and pitchforks. One by one they all began to disappear. Gruesome ripping sounds, terrible screams, and an unearthly roar pierced the night, not a single man ran. This continued throughout the night until there was only one man left. The forest was silent except for a panting breath coming from behind him when he turned to look, what he saw… was the most horrifying sight…
"He saw a creature, with the body of a man and the horns of a goat, with razor sharp claws that dripped with the blood of its victims. Its golden eyes shown in the night, its body covered in coarse hair but unclothed. Its teeth were sharp as knives and gore was tangled up in its beard. He approached the man slowly and menacingly, but the man did not move.
"The Goatman was in front of him, his breath reeked of death, he reached a clawed hand out and took the ax from the man and said only one word, 'Run.'
The man ran all the way back to the village and told of what he had seen, the villagers wasted no time in packing their belongings and leaving at first light, all but a few who refused to be chased from their homes.
Hours later the villagers who fled could hear the massacre. The Goatman left none alive. None save one. As he approached the last victim he saw that it was the old lady who had sold him the goat. He approached her with malice.
'You did this to me! Now you will pay for turning me into this monster!'
The woman showed him the necklace, reminding him of his promise. 'You were a monster long before we made our deal, it was only a matter of time before you destroyed this village, I only made sure that I would not be one of the ones to suffer.'
The Goatman could not kill her because of his promise so he returned to the bridge and waited for travelers passing by, forever cursed to be a monster. Many have said they have caught glimpses of him, still carrying the ax he took from the surviving man. They say that the Goatman still lives under Cry Baby Bridge, waiting to kill the unsuspecting victim and that you can still hear his cry when darkness falls."
Percival's smile gleamed eerily in the fire and moonlight. Guinevere shivered and glanced at Mithian, somewhat horrified to see the grin of glee on her face.
"What happened to the old woman?" Merlin asked.
Percival leaned back and shrugged. "No one really knows, some say she wasn't an old woman at all, but a young sorceress who cursed the goat so that any magic performed on it would fail. After confronting the goatman they say she left and started a life, free from fear. Some say the necklace was buried with her, others say that it was passed down to future generations."
"That's the most ridiculous story I have ever heard." Arthur said, though Guinevere thought he looked a little paler in the moonlight. "Who ever heard of a goat being frightening?" This seemed to break the others from their fearful reverie and they all chuckled in agreement.
A cry ripped through the air causing Guinevere to physically jump, only slightly pleased when she felt Mithian do the same. The knights were on their feet, their swords pulled free from their scabbards and Merlin moved automatically closer to the women. They all froze for a moment and Arthur let out a huff of exasperated laughter. "It's just a fox calling for its mate." He said and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The knights sheathed their swords sheepishly and Merlin backed off still watching the forest carefully.
Mithian gave a nervous chuckle. "Well I guess you have us all on edge Sir Percival." Mithian said in a complimentary tone.
Percival smiled widely. "Yeah, thanks a lot, mate." Gwaine stated kicking Percival lightly.
They all huddled a little closer together, Arthur sitting by Guinevere and she leaned in a little closer to him while still clutching Mithian's arm.
Merlin was the most tense, everyone could see it, he watched the forest constantly, the hairs on the back of his neck rising… he couldn't help it… he was getting one of his funny feelings again.
AN: So I was thinking of continuing this story and maybe if I'm still into Merlin next year I will, but seeing as Halloween is only one day I think I'm going to leave it at this for now. So just a oneshot but hope you guys enjoyed it.
The legend goes that there was a scientist at a research center near where I live. There was an experiment on a goat that went wrong and he basically turned into this 'goatman' who wanders the woods killing people. Now people say they can see him in many different places, one being "cry baby" bridge where he will attack young lovers who go there for some smoochin :)
Yeah so like I said this story is VERY loosely based off of the original legend. Most of this is made up and obviously I switched 'scientist' to 'sorcerer.'
Hope you liked it and as always please leave a review!