A/N: One last spooky story ;) This one is probably a little scarier than the others (though I really can't judge). It's based on Goethe's Der Erlkönig.
Feel free to check out my other two (hint hint): s/9737957/1/Telltale and s/9802633/1/Breath
"I still don't see why I have to share my horse."
"Would you rather walk, Merlin?"
"Of course not- but you're the one who lost his so why should I have to suffer?"
"It's not exactly a pleasure for me either, idiot."
The servant snorted, "Doesn't look that way- you even have your arms around me!"
The king blushed lightly, "Just to keep you on the horse! Besides, you should be glad of some extra warmth!"
"Well I wouldn't have need of it if you hadn't insisted the river was shallow enough to lead the horses across- and then I had to drag you out of the water myself when your horse swam off!"
"What's that?" The thin man sat up abruptly, nearly bashing the royal's nose.
"What's what?" Arthur asked, exasperated but glad for the change of subject.
"Can't you see that?" Clawed fingers- faint, but large and threatening- were reaching out of the darkness as if to pull them from their mount.
The warrior gave a perfunctory survey of the area. "See what- the mist? You're just being-"
The familiar insults were blocked out by the hollow summons sounding in his ears- or was it inside his head?
It seemed to be coming from all around.
"That voice..." he looked around with haunted eyes, "we need to get out of here."
Ignoring the other rider's protests the warlock whistled the horse into a brisk canter, but still the voice called to him.
"Merlin! Stop this at once! I-"
"Can't you hear that?" It was a simple invocation of his name, but he found himself completely unnerved by the ghostly voice reaching out to him. It was Samhain, the veil was thin and all manner of magical creatures were stronger on this night. Then he saw it- the looming figure of the Sidhe king quickly gaining on their overburdened horse.
Since when is he so huge?
"Emrys, don't you want to join us in Avalon? You could see your lady love again- and your friends! William, Lancelot... they're all here."
The offer should have been tempting, but Merlin felt nothing apart from abject fear at the ice in those tones.
"It's just the wind, Merlin, now calm down! You're spooking the horse!"
"Come, Emrys, you won't be lonely in Avalon. Everyone here knows your secrets. Look, they came to take you home!"
Reluctant eyes turned to see the spectral shapes of his dead friends smiling back at him from the woods.
"Don't you see, Arthur? Even Lancelot's ghost is there!"
"It's just the trees and their shadows, you're imagining all this."
"Well, if you're not going to come willingly then I'll just have to use force."
The servant cried out in pain as luminous hands closed around his arm, attempting to pull him from the saddle.
The knight was properly afraid now, seeing bruises and claw-marks appearing on Merlin's arm as he wrestled with the unseen assailant trying to abduct him.
"Hold on, Merlin!" He kicked the horse into a gallop, the three tearing through the forest without slowing- even once their mysterious attacker seemed to have had given up the chase. Arthur pressed on, worried at the moans and whimpers of pain that grew softer as time passed. "Stay with me," he murmured, the gates of Camelot coming into view.
Rushing past the guards and through the crowded streets Arthur burst into the courtyard, dismounting quickly and catching Merlin as he fell.
His skin was white and cold, his chest still.
"Merlin?" Arthur's voice quivered as much as the fingers he placed under the still-wet neckerchief.
"No..." he hugged the body and wept.
Merlin was dead.