A/N: Plagiarism :(
Sorry! Sort of important note (I put it in late in yesterday's chapter and wanted to put it here for those who didn't see it). All though this is not related to Merlin, this IS about my stories :( I've been made aware that the author Phantom's Ange, who had originally plagiarized my Doctor Who story 'the Hidden Lady of Time', in her 'Rebel Companion' story, has, once again, plagiarized my story in the revision to her story, Hope's Light. I was contacted about her some minor instances of plagiarism in her Lazarus chapter and then again yesterday about LARGER instances in her lastest chapter (chapter 22) for the episode 42, and made aware that it appeared she had not revised it at all from how she originally posted it, save making an OC more present and changing the end scene slightly, and that a majority of the chapter was word for word identical to mine :(
I take plagiarism very seriously (having been plagiarized now 11 times since January 2013) and checked into it. I've had issues with this author through most of last year and had sworn not to look at her revision (for the sake of my own sanity) after a second case of plagiarism was brought up in the sequel to her Rebel story (An Eternal Love) and promised myself not to look unless it was brought to my attention by readers that plagiarism was happening again. Sadly, it was brought to my attention :( I checked and there are very large portions that belong to me, discounting dialogue for the show, a majority of description and action were taken from my story. I have side-by-side comparison proof on my tumblr (link on profile), it is the most recent entry in my 'Plagiarizers' page, screencaps taken just yesterday.
I hate to do this, I really do, but I would like to request your help in reporting the chapter and author to the site.
I gave her the chance to edit the first time around, I tried not to nitpick the 'how someone speaks' (replied/says/nodded order), and then the story was removed to be 'revised.' But it was brought to my attention, and this was what first clued the other reader in to investigate more, that the chapter in question is NOT in the style the author normally writes and had been writing the enitre story to that point (tending to favor the use of 'said') but in mine (using varying words such as defended, requested, chastised, etc). It has led me to believe she has not been truly revising her story as promised despite it beginning differently than her original story, and I have posted the proof for anyone to see in screencaps of both stories on my tumblr if you wished to check first or you can feel free to compare the chapters yourself, I believe the plagiarism is noticable about 1/3 or 1/4 through her chapter. I am not sure if she will have been made aware of this by now and attempted to change the chapters or gloss over the event as had happened during the first plagiarism or remove the chapter itself, but I do have the screencaps up should this happen, this is the 3rd entry for Phantom's Ange in terms of plagiarism :(
I truly do hate to ask, but I need your help. I never ever bring up something as serious as plagiarism unless I have side by side comparison proof, or unless I am genuinely unsure if it is happening. Sadly, this is the first instance where I can provide you proof. This has gone on a year and there is now plagiarism appearing in the revised verison of her first story as well :( It may just be my interpretation of 'revision' to expect things to be combed through and different than a first telling, perhaps even rewritten in areas, but that chapter is largely the same that was posted originally and, unfortunately, the 'originally' was plagiarized from me.
Thank you :'(
Le Morte d'Arthur
It was all Marayna could do not to groan audibly as she trekked through the woods with Arthur and his small group of knights on their hunting trip. She didn't understand why the knights had to hunt ever innocent creature in the forest. Couldn't they work out their aggressions the way they normally did, beating each other with sticks in their 'training' or something? She could at least be grateful that Arthur seemed to have learned his lesson with the unicorn, he was a tiny bit more cautious in how he hunted. He took the time to see what it was he was aiming at before he released an arrow or struck it with a sword.
Arthur glanced back as he heard a cracking of a branch ahead of them and held out his hand to Merlin, "Merlin, spear…" he had barely gotten the word out of his mouth before he rolled his eyes as Merlin dropped it in the process of handing it to him, "Do you have any natural gifts, Merlin?"
"No," Merlin remarked, "Well, let me think. I'm not naturally rude or insensitive."
"Just naturally irritating."
"And naturally the best big brother in the world," Marayna added, winking at her brother encouragingly. She'd made it a project of hers that, whenever Arthur or someone else insulted him, she countered with a positive thing, a positive and completely truthful thing. Merlin really WAS the absolute best brother anyone could ever ask for.
Arthur shook his head and moved forward with the spear, pausing when he heard a growling noise this time. He glanced back to his knights, about to command them to surround whatever the beast was, for it HAD to be a beast and not a gentler creature like a unicorn, only to catch sight of his servants' expressions, "It's probably more scared of you than you are of it," he tried to reassure them.
Merlin and Marayna exchanged a look, it wasn't THAT that was bothering them. They weren't afraid of the creature. If the absolute worst came to it, they had no qualms with using their magic to protect everyone, they WOULD do it to see Arthur and his friends safe. It wasn't the growl or the sure size of the beast…it was the magic they could feel emanating from ahead of them, from within the beast that was alarming them. Because they knew enough of magical beasts to know that it was likely that they would end up having to use magic on it or that it might even be more powerful than they were and end up unaffected by their own magic as a result.
Arthur signaled for the knights attempted to surround it…when the beast jumped out at them, too suddenly for them to get a strong look at it. They knew it was large, it was larger than any that Arthur seemed to think he or the knights could face with just their swords and spears as he dropped his, turning to push them on to run.
"Merlin!" Marayna gasped when she saw her brother trip, moving to help him with Sir Bedivere, the knight moving behind them to try and protect them from the beast as they ran on.
The small hunting party dashed behind more trees, pausing when they realized they weren't being chased by the beast and let out a breath. All of them were panting from the run, relieved that the beast had stayed back though.
"Did we lose it?" Marayna glanced at Arthur, knowing he would, with his hunting skills, be better able to determine that.
"Who's missing?" Arthur looked around instead.
Merlin frowned, "Where's Sir Bedivere?"
They all froze when, in the distance, back the way they'd come…someone screamed.
Gaius stopped short when he entered his chambers to see Merlin and Marayna waiting there. He had been summoned to the Main Hall, to council, as soon as they arrived back, Arthur apparently having dismissed his servants so he could speak to his father. He had been there, listening to Arthur's retelling of the events, his vague description of the beast.
"This is no ordinary beast," he warned them, moving over to them, word of the hunt Uther had ordered already spreading and knowing that his wards would be expected to attend to Arthur during it.
"Don't worry," Merlin smiled.
"No, listen to me, you don't understand. Uther may not respect the Old Religion, but it is very real. To face a beast such as this…you must understand where it came from."
"And where did it come from?" Marayna asked with a frown.
"At the very heart of the Old Religion lies the magic of life and death itself. The Questing Beast carries that power. One bite, you die, and there is no cure," he gave them the most serious look they had ever seen their uncle give and stilled, looking at each other before giving themselves a fierce nod, they would protect each other no matter what.
In her chambers, Morgana slept, having not gotten much rest the night before. She hadn't had nightmares, but she just…hadn't been able to sleep. It seemed that meditating during the day, relaxing her mind and breathing kept her energized enough long into the night that, at times she had trouble sleeping. She was hoping it was just because her body was so used to being tired so long that when she started to get stores of energy she operated on that first. Once she adapted to it, got used to not being so tired so often, she hoped that it would balance out and she would be able to rest more. Right now though, she thought a small nap would help…only to find that her mind was full of such terrible sights.
The Dragon was roaring, breathing fire, Merlin was shouting 'NO!' with Arthur, Merlin, and Marayna running through the woods, Arthur was sick and lying in bed, before Marayna glared at a woman in a red dress…the Questing Beast roared in anger…
And Morgana bolted up in bed, screaming.
"Morgana!" Gwen gasped, rushing to her, "Morgana?! Wake up! Wake up, it's me! It's Gwen! Stop it! It was just another dream."
"It was terrifying," Morgana shook.
"Oh, it's going to be alright," she hugged Morgana tightly before the woman curled up, her knees to her chest and Gwen knew what she needed to do, "I'll only be a moment," she promised before she ran out of the room, needing to find Merlin.
Morgana looked over as her door burst open and Merlin ran right to her side, she could hear Arthur outside in the courtyard through her open window, rallying the knights to fight the beast and winced, recalling that moment from her vision. She opened her arms, encircling Merlin, clutching him to her as she trembled, tears streaming down her eyes, knowing that she only had moments to express her concerns, for he and Marayna would be expected to join Arthur, but she could hardly catch her breath to speak she was so upset.
"Shh…" Merlin soothed, running a hand through her hair, "It's alright Gana, I'm here…"
Morgana took a deep breath, forcing herself to calm, this was too important for her fears or for her temperament to get the best of her, "You cannot let Arthur face the beast," she murmured, "Please!"
"Don't worry Morgana," Marayna stepped over, putting a hand on Morgana's arm, "We'll make sure he's safe. I promise."
"We'll make sure we're all safe," Merlin added when Morgana squeezed him tighter.
Morgana sniffled, relieved Merlin had come to calm her, she would have rushed out there, ranting and raving about how Arthur should stay and who knows what might have slipped from her mouth. She would have looked a sight, like a mad woman if she had…
They looked over, hearing the cheers of the knights and knew…it was time.
Arthur led the knights through the woods once more, all of them prepared this time, wearing armor, with stronger weapons than before…well, all of them except the poor servants who had been dragged along. He paused at a gigantic paw print in the mud, "Let's follow the trail," he ordered, the group moving closer…when they heard a growling and heavy footsteps, "Keep close."
They moved to a dark cave, spotting the entrance, and moved in…Arthur signaling for the knights to go one way, while he, Merlin, and Marayna split another way, all of them creeping along silently…till they heard hissing.
"What is it?" Merlin whispered.
"Shh!" Arthur warned, but he was too late, the beast snuck up on them and roared, startling them.
Marayna screamed as it moved to swipe at her, but Arthur pushing her out of the way, taking the hit himself as Merlin ran to his sister's side to help her up. They gasped, seeing the beast moving towards Arthur once more and ran over, Merlin waving the torch in front of it.
"Merlin!" Marayna cried, before holding out her hand, "Fléoge!" she incanted, making Arthur's sword float.
"Bregdan anwiele gefeluc!" he added, enchanting it as it went flying at the Questing Beast, striking it in the neck, killing it. He let out a breath, turning around…only to see Marayna was already at Arthur's side.
"It didn't bite you," she was mumbling as she checked Arthur over, "It didn't…it missed, it…" but then she stopped, holding up her hand and staring at it in horror…staring at the blood on it.
"Somebody help!" Merlin yelled out the cave before making his way to his sister's side, gently tugging the shell-shocked woman away from Arthur as the knights raced in to grab their fallen leader.
Marayna and Merlin swiped the table in Gaius's chambers clean as the knights placed Arthur's stretcher on it, the boy pale, covered in blood.
"What's happened?" Gaius gasped, looking at the wound, feeling as though he'd been punched in the gut at the realization, "He's been bitten."
"He was trying to save me," Marayna murmured, tears in her eyes as she shook, her brother beside her, his arm around her, holding her close, trying to comfort her, "It was aiming for me and…he…he pushed me out of the way."
"You must tell the king," Gaius looked at them as the knights left to do that.
"There must be something you can do," Merlin shook his head.
"I wish there was."
"Then I'll…I'll just have to…find a cure," Marayna determined, running into their rooms.
"Marayna!" he called, hearing a franticness in her voice before he turned to Arthur, "Can you hear me, sire?"
"Here," Marayna came out, shoving the magic book into Merlin's hands to hold as she opened it.
"The king'll be here any moment!" Gaius hissed, his eyes widening when he saw the book and realized what his wards were about to do.
"I don't care," Marayna snapped, desperate "I'm sorry uncle, but he can't die. He can't! I just…" she took a breath, "It's my fault, he was protecting me, and I can't let him die."
Merlin nodded, agreeing, "It is my destiny to protect him. We haven't done all the things we're meant to do."
"That is a lament of all men," Gaius shook his head.
"Gaius, he's my friend."
"And he's my…" Marayna swallowed, closing her eyes before admitting it, out loud, to both her uncle and her brother, "Love," she whispered, blinking and looking at them, "I…I love him."
Gaius sighed, his heart breaking for his niece, "Then save him."
Merlin put the book down, flipping it open to the first healing spell they could find, "Gestathole!" they tried, but nothing happened. They doubted it would, healing wasn't their expertise, not like Morgana but…there was no time to go fetch her to help.
Marayna flipped through more pages, taking her brother's hand, "Thurhhaele!" they attempted, but still, Arthur was unaffected.
Marayna stared at Arhtur's pale face and shook her head slowly, "They…the spells take time, they just…they take time to work," she looked at her uncle, unwilling to believe this had happened, "Don't they?"
"The bite of the Questing Beast is a death sentence that no magic can overturn," Gaius shook his head.
"Where is the prince?!" Uther shouted from the halls, making Marayna flinch at the frantic quality in his voice, "Where is my son?!" he burst into the room, "Arthur!"
Merlin magically closed the book, knowing Uther wouldn't be looking for it at the moment.
"Do something, Gaius!" he demanded, rushing to his son.
"I am trying, your majesty."
"Gaius will find a cure," Merlin stated, his arms going around his sister as she wept quietly, and he knew…she really did love him, didn't she? She really loved Arthur…his sister never cried unless it was something serious and important to her, "He will not let him die."
"I will do everything in my power," Gaius promised.
Uther picked Arthur up, "I'll bear him to his chamber," and walked out to the square to take him back, before his grief overcame him and he sank to his knees, the knights coming to take Arthur from him as he wept…till Marayna pulled out of Merlin's arms and knelt by the king, putting a hand on his shoulder in comfort and shared despair.
That would likely be the only time Uther, king of Camelot, ever let a servant touch him so.
Merlin ran down to the Dragon's cave, Marayna not with him, she had refused to leave Arthur's side since he'd been taken out of Gaius's chambers, he needed to do something to help, he had to, not just for his friend Arthur, but for his love Morgana, and his sister Marayna, both of whom cared for Arthur dearly.
"I have failed Arthur, failed in my destiny," he shouted, "I've failed my sister."
"And yet, you would not be here if that were true," the Dragon smiled.
"He was bitten by the Questing Beast. He's going to die."
"Does he still breathe?"
He paused, reaching out to Marayna, asking her in his mind, before nodding, "Only just, Aya says."
"Then there is still time to heal him."
"We've tried. We cannot save him. Even with our magic combined and Morgana is not near that experienced yet…"
"You do not know how to save him."
Merlin nearly pulled his hair out at that, of course they didn't know how to save him! He'd just SAID that! And yet the Dragon was talking as though they had all the time in the world, "But you can tell me how?"
"Perhaps. It will not be easy."
"We will do anything."
Merlin nodded, "Please, just tell me what we have to do!"
"Very well," the Dragon nodded, FAR too pleased with Merlin's promise, "The Questing Beast is a creature conjured by the powers of the Old Religion. You must use the same ancient magic to save him."
"But the Old Religion died out centuries ago."
The Dragon sighed, "Have you not listened to anything your sister has told you of our discussions?"
Merlin rolled his eyes, "Not really, no."
She always seemed farm more interpreted in what the Dragon had to say than he did.
"The Old Religion is the magic of the earth itself. It is the essence which binds all things together. It will last long beyond the time of men."
"But how can that help us save Arthur?"
"You must find those who still serve it, those who hold dominion over life and death."
"One is already closer than you know."
"Go to the place that men call the Isle of the Blessed, where the power of the ancients can still be felt. There you will discover Arthur's salvation."
"Thank you," Merlin breathed, "Thank you!"
"And Merlin," he called as Merlin moved to leave, "The young Pendragon must live, no matter what the cost."
Marayna looked up as Merlin burst into Arthur's chambers, she was sitting at his bedside, a cloth in her hand as she dabbed at his forehead, "Aya…" he breathed, rushing over to kneel beside her, "I found out a way to save Arthur," he was already packed to leave, enough for one person, knowing she wouldn't go with him, not with Arthur in such a state.
"To the Isle of the blessed," she murmured, she'd heard it in his mind.
He nodded, reaching out to put a lock of hair behind her ears, "It's the only way to save him."
"Merlin," she swallowed hard, taking his hand, "A death for a life," she mumbled, looking into his eyes, "Promise me, that you won't just offer your life…"
"I have to, if it'll save Arthur…"
"No," she shook her head, "I meant…offer mine as well."
He blinked, "What?"
"They may not accept just one life," she frowned, unable to help but feel like…that might have been the point. Gaius had warned them once, that Nimueh had been aiming for THEM and not Arthur when a few incidents had happened. She couldn't help but feel like…that was the point of this, Arthur's life was well worth at least two…the two of THEM, "Offer the two of ours and we may have a chance," she smiled, squeezing his hand, "Where you go, I go, remember?"
He nodded slowly, not pleased with that, it had certainly come back to bite him, that promise of hers, but he agreed, he'd force her to do the same if she were the one going, "Alright," he got up, leaning forward to kiss her forehead.
"I'll see you when you come back."
He nodded, "Keep him alive till then."
"I'll do as much as I can," she promised, turning to tend to Arthur as he left.
Uther entered Arthur's chambers later that night to see Marayna still awake, tending to his son, but yawning, "Retire for the night," he commanded, making his way over to another chair, sitting down across from her, "I shall watch over him."
"I can stay," she shook her head.
"You will need rest."
"So will you," she countered.
"I have servants to attend me," he reminded her, "You ARE a servant. It wouldn't do for servants to be falling asleep on themselves when doing their chores, hardly befitting a servant of a prince."
She scoffed lightly, that was such an Arthur thing to say, "I see where he gets it from," she mumbled under her breath.
Uther frowned, having heard her, "What?"
Uther blinked, "Did you just call your king a…prat?"
She glanced over at him, yawning once more, "Honestly sire? I've not slept in the last three days and I doubt I'll be able to sleep in the next three, I can scarcely be held responsible for anything I may call you."
Uther just eyed her, watching as she tended to his son, absolutely shocked at her gall to say that to him. On any normal day he would have her hung for it, but as he watched her tenderly dab his son's forehead with a cold cloth…seeing the bags under her eyes, knowing how attentive she'd been, how steadfast in her care of him…he knew she truly hadn't slept at all in her quest…he could…forgive this ONE instance.
Arthur stirred in his fevered sleep but Marayna wiped his forehead again, "Shh," she soothed, reaching out to stroke his cheek, "Sleep, Arthur. It's alright."
He watched, amazed, as his son began to calm, sleeping a bit more peacefully. Perhaps she could stay a while longer.
Marayna had moved to sit on the edge of the bed beside Arthur, the stool starting to hurt her backside. She could see the king had fallen asleep on his chair beside the bed, but…she couldn't sleep. Not with Arthur like this. She dipped the cloth in the bowl beside her and began to wipe his forehead again, there was little else she could do, dare mumble a spell with the king right there and have him wake would mean her head.
"You're not going to die, Artie," she smiled, "See, I almost like you like this, you can't stop me from calling you that. Artie. But in all seriousness, you really won't die. I won't let you, in fact, I order YOU not to. So you better not, or I'll be very disappointed and cross. So you can't go, not till Merlin gets back anyway," she sighed, "You won't die, because…you're too strong. I know that one day you will be king. A greater king than you father could ever be. And that…that's what keeps me here. Oh, you have no idea how much I want to leave sometimes, to just…go somewhere where I can be…free," she breathed at the word, before shaking her head, "But I never can. Because all I can think of is you. What would happen to you if I wasn't there? And I want to stay, because I want to see you grow stronger and greater. You are going to live to be the man I've seen inside you, Arthur. With you as king…I truly can see a Camelot that is fair and just and…happy. Free from fear and persecution. I can see a king that the people will love and be proud to call their sovereign. For the love of Camelot, you have to live. For the love of…me…you need to live. I…I love you and…I don't know what I'd do without you Artie," she closed her eyes, "Arthur," she corrected, it was far too serious a matter, "So please, live. For me?"
She blinked and sniffled, trying not to cry. She should have known that this wouldn't work, there was really nothing to do that would wake him up or heal him till Merlin returned. She knew her words wouldn't help him recover. It had been…foolish to say all that. She turned, facing the back wall, unable to look at him while gathering her bearings.
And, with her back turned, she never noticed Uther open his eyes and watch her, having heard everything.
Uther nearly jumped out of his seat…in a kingly fashion of course…when the door to his son's chambers burst open and Merlin and Gaius ran in, Gaius holding a small vile.
"What's that?" Uther pointed at it as Gaius stepped over, Merlin rushing to his sister's side to hug her when she too jumped up, startled.
"It's a..." Gaius hesitated, "It's a tincture made from the lobelia plant, an ancient remedy for poisonous bites."
"We hope," Gaius moved over, lifting Arthur's head to gently pour the concoction in to his mouth.
"Do you really think it will have some effect?"
"Oh it'll have an effect," Marayna blanched, going along with the story that it was just a potion of Gaius's. She'd, of course, kept tabs on her brother's endeavors through it all. Pleased to see he HAD offered BOTH their lives in exchange for Arthur's with Nimueh, a priestess of the Old Religion, "It'll taste horrid."
"It's our last resort, Sire" Gaius gave her a mock-offended look too, "Perhaps you should allow him to rest."
"I will not leave him," Uther sat back down.
"Nor shall I," Marayna sat as well, Merlin squeezing her shoulders before heading out with Gaius, needing to find Morgana and tell her what had happened. In the insanity of the last few days, he hadn't gotten the chance to tell her much of anything.
She would not be happy, he knew.
Merlin was rushing down the corridor towards Morgana's chambers, when he was suddenly pulled into a small alcove, Morgana already there, "Please, Merlin," she begged, tears in her eyes, "Tell me you didn't do it!"
He could only look at her sadly, knowing she must have dreamt of what he'd done at the Isle, "I'm sorry."
She pulled him to her, weeping into his shirt as he held her to him for what he knew might be his last day on earth.
Later that day Gaius was back in Arthur's chambers, pacing, Uther hunched over the bed, asleep, while Marayna sat, with her eyes open, bags under them, clutching Arthur's hand as she waited, staring at him.
She gasped, feeling him squeeze her hand, waking Uther in the process. Uther looked down and they waited on baited breath as Arthur woke slowly.
"Arthur," Marayna smiled down at him.
Arthur looked up at her, offering a tired smile of his own, before putting his head back down.
Merlin looked up as Gaius led a barely functioning Marayna into his chambers, helping her to a cot and lying her down for some much needed rest. He smiled and moved over to her, placing a blanket around her, the girl already asleep.
"The prince lives," Gaius told him,
Merlin breathed a sigh of relief. It had been nearly dawn when they had given Arthur the potion, he and Marayna had this day and night before they would take the prince's place.
Arthur was sitting up in bed, speaking to his father, looking for all the world as though he hadn't been at death's doorway only hours ago.
"I thought we'd lost you," Uther murmured.
"Don't worry, father, I'm not going to die," he offered his father a smile, "I think there's someone watching over me, keeping me from harm."
"Maybe you're right. On your long journey to become king, you will need a guardian angel. I shall inform the court that their prince lives," he moved to the door, about to open it…when Marayna just walked in.
Uther shook his head, but his mood was too good to berate the servant for not knocking, and he stepped out past her.
"So sleeping beauty finally wakes," Marayna made her way over, not bothering to tidy the room, before sitting on his bedside.
Arthur reached out and took her hand, "I can remember you talking," he told her.
She blinked, "You…can?"
"You stroked my forehead too."
"To tend to your fever."
"And tending my fever required you to stroke my cheeks as well?" he smirked, catching her.
She rolled her eyes, "A fever attacks your whole body, doesn't it?" before she smirked as well, leaning in, "Or was there some…other…area you wanted me to stroke instead?"
He started to sputter at that, when she just gave him a laugh, leaning back further as she chuckled, making him realize she'd been joking.
"You never lost faith in me," he murmured, eyeing her.
"You've yet to let me down," she shrugged.
He smiled at that, "Tell me again what you said?"
"Oh, pity for you," she mock-hissed, "I don't remember."
"Yes, you do," he nudged her with his leg.
"Come on," he took her hand, squeezing it, "Something about the man I am inside.'"
"I think you were delirious by that point."
"So you also deny you called my father a prat?"
"I didn't SAY that, I more…indirectly implied it."
He laughed, "So you admit it!"
"Of course I admit THAT," she smiled, "It's not every day a peasant gets the chance to call the King of Camelot a prat and live to tell the tale."
He laughed again before wincing as it tugged at his wounds, "Thank you Mara," he breathed, his thumb stroking over the back of her knuckles, "For staying with me."
She smiled sadly at him, "Always…Artie."
He shook his head, groaning as he flopped back on his bed, "Must you STILL call me that?" he mock-whined, "I thought we would be past that after the other things you admitted."
"And what could I have possibly admitted that would make me not call you Artie?" she shook her head.
He looked at her a long while, "That you love me."
She blinked and fell silent.
Arthur cleared his throat a moment, "You…DID say that," he murmured, not quite sounding unsure but more realizing that the topic was growing more serious than it had been, "And I know you, Mara, you never take back anything you say unless it was a true and grave mistake on your part," he looked at her intently, "Please…" he whispered, "Don't take that back."
She looked down at her hand, still held in his, and squeezed it, "Nothing will ever make me stop calling you Artie," was all she said, offering him a small smile before she stood and stepped out of the room.
Arthur blinked, before he started to smile…she hadn't taken it back.
Merlin laid awake that night, on Morgana's bed, both of them awake really, her in his arms, clutching him, both of them wanting to spend as much time as they could together. Marayna having spent some time with Arthur as well, before going to their uncle, not wanting him to be alone on the night he might lose them both. They both knew that Gaius was aware of the bargain Merlin had made and…she couldn't do that to their uncle.
So, when morning came, and both found themselves still alive they were overjoyed. Merlin ran back to Gaius's chambers to tell him the good news, that a miracle had happened, stepping into the room just as Marayna stepped out of their own.
"Uncle!" Marayna was calling.
"We're still alive!" Merlin added, but they both stopped short, seeing him crouched over someone who was collapsed on the floor, "What is it? What's happened?"
"Merlin, Marayna," he shook his head, "Stay there!"
"What's wrong?" Marayna moved forward.
But it was too late, they could see the figure clearly…their mother, covered in sores, struggling to breathe, "Mother!" they gasped, running to her side.
"Mer…lin…" she wheezed, "Ma…rayna…"
"What's happened to her?" Marayna demanded, frantic.
"She's gravely ill," Gaius told them.
"Do something!" Merlin shouted.
"If I could…"
"Please, uncle," Marayna begged.
"This is no ordinary illness."
"This can't be happening..."
"Who did you meet at the Isle of the Blessed?" Gaius turned to Merlin.
"Nimueh," Merlin replied.
"It was as you said. She demanded a price, but I bargained my life and Aya's," Merlin explained, "Not our mother's!"
"Merlin, Rayna…I wish there was something I could do."
"We'll make you better," Marayna whispered, stroking her mother's hair, "We promise."
Merlin and Marayna rushed down the stairs to the Dragon's cave, "You knew this would happen!" Merlin accused, glaring at the overgrown lizard, "You had me trade our mother's life for Arthur's!"
"You said you would do anything," the Dragon remarked.
Marayna frowned, "Did you know our mother would die?"
"I knew the price would be a heavy one," he sidestepped.
"But you sent me anyway," Merlin glared.
"We need Arthur to live."
"We are not one of you!"
"We are all creatures of the Old Religion. It is the source of your powers."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Merlin shook his head as Marayna's frown deepened.
He gave Merlin a long look, "Your destiny is to protect the young Pendragon until he claims his crown. And when he does, your destiny," he looked at Marayna, "Is to become his Queen and return magic to the realm. Only then will I be free."
"Oh. So that's all you cared about? I thought you were our friend."
"I am more than that, Merlin. I am your kin."
"No. The only family we have is our mother and each other, and you had me murder her!"
"Her life has not been taken in vain," the Dragon tried to calm them, Marayna looking down at the ground, feeling betrayed, "We will achieve great things together, you and I."
"You will never be released!" Merlin swore, "For what you've done, I'll make sure you never see the light."
"Merlin!" he roared, breathing fire at him.
Marayna quickly stepped up, "Gescildan!" she held up her hand, her eyes glowing gold as she blocked the flames, nearly sending them flying back at the Dragon, turning his attack on himself till they died out.
"You won't see us again," Merlin swore, before taking Marayna's hand and pulling her out of the room.
"Where is she?" Merlin demanded as he and Marayna entered Gaius's chambers again.
"She's sleeping," he nodded towards their rooms.
"We have to save her, uncle," Marayna stated.
"If the balance of the world needs a life, then Nimueh must take mine," Merlin remarked.
Marayna frowned, looking down, thinking on that. It had been a far cry, she knew, to try and offer 2 lives for 1. Their mother was proof that only one life would be taken. And…something about it wasn't sitting right with her about all of it. Nimueh had been trying to take their lives for ages, why wouldn't she jump at the opportunity to weaken them by taking one of their lives?
The Old Religion would only take one of them.
"Yes. I will return to the Isle…"
"You are young. Your gifts, your destiny, are far too precious to sacrifice."
"My destiny? This is our mother. Our powers mean nothing if we cannot save her," he looked at Gaius solemnly, "You have taught me and Aya so much. Taught us who we are, taught us the purpose for our skills, taught us that magic should only be used for great deeds. But most of all, you have always taught us to do what is right."
"Merlin…" Marayna began, shaking her head.
Merlin sniffled, "I need to say goodbye to Morgana," he murmured, turning to leave.
Marayna waited only a moment before running out of the room.
"I can see your promises do not last long," the Dragon remarked as Marayna entered the cave.
"Merlin promised that," Marayna reminded him, "Not me."
"And what do you seek?"
"I need your help…" she hesitated, "You keep saying Merlin and I are of the Old Religion, that my birth changed the fate of Camelot as did Merlin's…"
"I know Merlin is more powerful than me, he could fight Nimueh, he could…but if he doesn't know a spell to stop her…I'd rather her take my life than his," she took a breath, "I need you to give me a spell, one true to the Old Religion. I will not let her have my family."
"And what shall you do?" he eyed her.
"A death for a life," she shrugged, "Nimueh for my mother."
"You hope to take on a priestess of the Old Religion?" he raised an eyebrow at her.
"With your help," she nodded, "I need you to give me that advantage, that power, that magic."
He eyed her, "The magic is already within you. You recall the words of the sorceress Gretchen yes?" he asked, seeing Marayna frown, "YOU are the one with the true claim to the title not just of priestess, but HIGH Priestess of the Old Religion. The power is within you, locked in the recesses of your mind."
"Then can you…unlock it?" she asked, "Please, if it will save my family…"
"And what shall you do for me?"
She swallowed hard, "I will get Merlin to retract his promise."
The Dragon nodded, "So be it," he murmured, before breathing on her as she closed her eyes, feeling the magic swarm through her, a knowledge flooding her mind…
"Mara!" Arthur cheered as she entered his chambers to see him up and about, his arm in a sling though.
"How are you?" she asked quietly.
"Yes. I owe it all to Gaius."
"You owe it all to Merlin," she corrected, determined to see him get his proper dues, "He's the one who got the herb that healed you."
"Ah," he nodded, "Well then, tell him to come see me and I shall be sure to thank him."
She nodded, "I need to talk to you."
"You still haven't got it yet, have you?" he smiled, "I decide when we need to talk."
"Just as I decide when to listen," she smirked, before it fell, "But not today. Today…there's no time for games."
"Your games are entertaining though. Are you ever going to change?"
"Never," she shook her head, "You can take the girl from Ealdor but not Ealdor from the girl. And besides, you'd get bored. But um, promise me something though," she hesitated, "If you get a second servant, don't get a bootlicker and be sure to treat my brother well."
He frowned, "If this is you trying to leave your job..."
"No," she shook her head, stepping over to him to take his free hand, "I've actually rather come to like being your servant. I think I could be happy doing it to the day I die."
"Sometimes I think I know you, Mara," he smiled reaching out to put a lock of hair behind her ears, "Other times..." he shook his head.
"That's women for you," she smiled, "Have to keep our men on their toes."
"Oh, so I'm YOUR man then?"
"MY Master, aren't you?" she laughed, "And you're a great one. You're a great warrior and, one day, you'll be a great king sire."
"That's very kind of you," he murmured, feeling an all too familiar thrill go through him at hearing her call him 'sire.'
"But you need to be sure you actually keep your promise and LISTEN to others though."
"Any other pointers?" he rolled his eyes.
"No. That's it. Just...don't be a prat to my brother," she added, before turning to leave.
Marayna stepped into Gaius's chambers to see him packing a small bag, "What are you doing?"
"Oh, Rayna!" he gasped, putting a hand over his heart as he spun to face her, "You startled me."
Marayna frowned and stepped over to him more, "You didn't answer, what are you doing?" Gaius was silent, "Uncle! What are you doing!?" she reached out and snatched a parchment he'd just been putting in the bag, to see a map to the Isle of the Blessed,.
"Marayna…" he began.
"No," she shook her head, rolling it up and putting it in the belt of her dress, "No, you're not doing this."
"Marayna, please understand, I'm old, my life is…"
"Just as important as mine," she cut in, "More so…" she swallowed hard, "Someone must be here for Merlin."
Gaius frowned, "What…"
"Slǣp," she breathed, her eyes flashing gold before she lurched forward to catch Gaius as he nearly collapsed, sleeping, "I'm so sorry Uncle," she whispered, laying him down on a cot, before grabbing the pack and rushing out.
Merlin was standing in Morgana's chambers, the woman in his arms. He'd just told her of what he had to do, what had happened to his mother and what must be done to restore balance. She, of course, didn't want him to go, didn't want to lose him, but didn't want him to lose his mother either. She could still recall the familiar pain of when she'd lost her father, she wouldn't ever want him to experience that. She sniffled, hugging him tighter…
When the door burst open and Gwen ran in, "Have you seen Rayna?" she demanded, an urgency in her voice.
"No…why?" Merlin frowned.
"Gwen what happened?" Morgana stepped out of his arms and to her maid.
"I was tending to Hunith for Gaius, he said he had to get some supplies. But when I stepped out to get more water…Gaius was asleep on a cot, his bag was gone, Marayna wasn't anywhere. I woke him up but he didn't know and…" she hesitated.
"What is it?" Merlin asked, fear filling him.
"I asked Arthur and he said he thinks she might have quit or something…" she shook her head, "I…I think she may have gone to the Isle."
"No!" Merlin shouted, running out of the room, straight out of the castle and to the stables, to Arthur's stables, stopping short when he saw Bartok was gone, she truly had left.
"Merlin!" Morgana gasped as she and Gwen caught up to him, "Wait…"
"I can't," he shook his head, running for his horse, well, not HIS horse, but the one he usually rode on when Arthur went out and dragged them along, "I have to save Aya…"
"I know," Morgana cut in, "But not alone."
"Gana…" he began.
"Rayna may be your sister, Merlin, but she is OUR friend," she said, determined, Gwen already preparing Morgana's horse for her, "And if something has happened…I can at least try to help heal her."
"Gwen…" he looked at her.
Gwen nodded, "I know, look after your mum, and Arthur."
"Thanks," he breathed, before turning to ready his horse, only to see it already saddled, he frowned.
"You are not to go anywhere without me," Gaius called, trotting over on a horse of his own, a bag of medical supplies and herbs with him, fearing the worse.
Merlin nodded, hopping onto the horse and kicking it on, he and Morgana taking off.
'Aya!' he shouted in his mind, praying she'd hear him.
'I'm sorry Merlin.'
'Aya, what are you doing!?'
'I'm not about to let you give your life for this.'
'So you'll give YOURS?'
'Of course not, I'm going to stop Nimueh.'
His eyes widened 'You're going to battle her? Aya she's a high priestess of the old religion! We've barely been practicing in our magic for a year!'
'I know what to do Merlin,' she reassured him, 'She WANTS me to give my life.'
'We can't bargain two lives for mother's,' she realized, 'She couldn't take YOUR, and I wasn't there at the time to truly offer mine. Because I wasn't there, it had to be yours and only yours that she could have taken. But she CAN'T take the life of Emrys.'
'But YOU'RE Reesa!'
'Exactly,' she reminded him, 'She wants me out of the picture Merlin for too many reasons, for my claim to her title, for the future that Camelot would have. Those destinies the Dragon told us about. It all changed after I was born.'
'I'm sorry Merlin, but without me…your destiny will still exist. I'm sorry.'
And then he winced, feeling her block him from her mind.
"We need to hurry," he called to Morgana, urging his horse on faster, "She's going to battle Nimueh."
"Battle her!?" Morgana gasped, she knew of Nimueh, Merlin and Marayna had told her of the sorceress and the hand she'd had in the incidents around Camelot, she was powerful, VERY powerful.
"This was Nimueh's plan all along. She took our mother so that Aya would give her life."
"Our destinies," he glanced at Morgana, "Before Aya was born, the destiny of Camelot was to rise and fall…but after…it changed. It became a prosperous kingdom that would withstand the test of time. Which destiny do you think Nimueh would prefer?"
Morgana looked down, "I don't think she knows of the last one."
Merlin swallowed hard, he didn't either. No magic user who knew of it would dare try to harm Marayna, not when SHE would be the reason for magic's return. And…if that was true, what did Marayna mean by her claim to Nimueh's title?
"Well, well, well," Nimueh smirked, appearing before Marayna as she stepped up to an old stone altar in the middle of the Isle, "Reesa, in the flesh."
"Nimueh," she stood tall, firm, eyeing the sorceress as though she were nothing more than a bug she'd love to crush.
It was…odd…the magic she could now feel inside her, the knowledge, the…freedom. She knew, she understood now. It was like that inkling she'd always felt, the connection to her magic, was stronger, more connected to the will of the Old Religion than before.
And she understood.
Nimueh eyed her, "Have you come to offer your life in exchange for your dear mother's?"
Marayna's eyes narrowed, yes, she understood what Nimueh's goal had been, to see Camelot fall, through her. But Nimueh…she was too blinded by her hate, much like Uther, she couldn't see what was to be, why she had truly come.
Nimueh scoffed, "No?" before laughing, "With all my powers of prediction, I could never have foretold this."
"And that's just it, your powers are limited, your vision is short, you are not a true Seer like the Lady Morgna or else you'd know the future of Camelot, you'd know your own fate."
Nimueh's smirk faded to a frown, "And what do YOU know of my fate?"
Marayna took a breath, magic surging through her as she felt Merlin and Morgana and Gaius set foot on the Isle, knowing they could hear her, knowing she had to be quick, she had to do this before one of them got hurt.
"I know that while you are a priestess of the Old Religion," she smirked, "You are NOT the High Priestess. You do not posses that power."
Merlin gasped, hearing a hidden meaning in Marayna's words, her earlier comment making sense now…SHE was meant to the be High Priestess…
Nimueh, seeming to realize this as well, glared.
"You would know that the Old Religion does not care who lives and who dies! Only that the balance of the world is restored. To save a life, a life must be taken," she pointed at Nimueh, "And I shall have YOURS."
Nimueh's eyes widened, as though finally sensing the power and magic swarming off the girl before her. She quickly lifted her hand, "Forbærne!" a fireball appeared in her hand, "Ácwele!" and hurled the fireball at her.
"No!" Merlin cried, rushing forward and shoving his sister out of the way, taking the hit meant for her.
"Merlin!" she and Morgana screamed, Morgana rushing to his side, as Gaius moved to tend to the burn on his chest, the boy, luckily, still alive.
Marayna started to breathe heavily, seeing her brother on the ground, having taken a hit meant for her, just like Arthur had, both men injured because of their need to protect her…well, she'd have to prove to them she could handle herself so they wouldn't ever do that again.
Her hands clenched into fists as she turned a murderous look at Nimueh's smirking face, "Ástríce!" she threw her magic at Nimueh, who seemed stunned she was actually being attacked, and dove out of the way, "You should not have harmed my brother!" she screeched, "I am not as gentle as him, I will fight back!" before holding her arms out, she let out a primal roar, shouting words in the Old tongue to the sky, Merlin and Morgana watching in slight awe as fire began to appear on her hands, swarming up her arms till she was surrounded by it.
"No!" Gaius gasped, "Marayna don't! It's too powerful!"
"What is it?" Merlin wheezed in pain as Morgana turned to look down at his wound, focusing on healing him, he could tell by how Gaius used her full name that whatever it was…was not good.
"She conjured a Firefiend," he explained, "A creature of living fire. Fire…is the most powerful natural element to wield in the Old Religion, the most difficult to control. To conjure a Firefiend…is nearly a death sentence. They draw their power from something in order to appear, a person, life energy…if she can't control the fiend…it will destroy her."
"Aya!" Merlin struggled, feeling his wound healing as Morgana poured her magic into it, a far more grievous wound than she'd ever treated before.
"My god…" Gaius breathed, watching as Marayna sent the fire flying right at a terrified Nimueh, who screamed as she was consumed by it and destroyed, Marayna collapsing to her knees.
Merlin pushed himself up, now healed, as he and Morgana ran to her side, catching her as she started to fall to the ground, pale, shaking, Gaius hurrying to her side as well, "Aya!" he gasped, holding her, "Aya, are you alright?"
Marayna looked up at him, blinking quickly, "She's gone?"
"Yes," he nodded.
She smiled, "Good…" before she promptly fainted, something she was sure Merlin would not ever let her live down.
Gaius took her hand in his, feeling for her pulse on her wrist, letting out a breath, "She's fine…her pulse is weak, but steady, and not growing weaker…" he looked at Merlin, "She'll be just fine but…we need to get her back to Camelot."
Merlin nodded, closing his eyes a moment before he picked his sister up. He was going to have a LONG discussion with her about this, about what she'd done, and about where she'd learned that spell. That was…beyond anything that he knew the magic book held.
Arthur was standing in the Main Hall with his father, who was extolling his victory over the Questing Beast to the council, when he paused, hearing a commotion outside. He looked out the window to see a crowd gathering around something in the courtyard. He squinted, his eyes widening when he saw it was Marayna, cradled in Merlin's arms, much like, he'd been told, his father had carried him after he'd been attacked.
Fearing the worst, he ran out of the room, ignoring his father's shouts, and out into the courtyard where Merlin had just reached the stairs to the castle, Morgana and Gaius at his side, "Mara!" he shouted, rushing to Merlin, "What happened?"
Merlin glanced at Morgana who nodded, they'd come up with a story on the way back, not wanting Arthur to know about their deals with Nimueh, "She found out who sent the Questing Beast to Camelot," he began, "The Sorceress Nimueh."
"Nimueh!" Uther gasped, his eyes wide as he came up behind them.
Gaius nodded, "Marayna sought the woman out, she wanted to stop her from conjuring another beast…"
Uther's eyes widened as she looked at the unconscious woman now pulled into Arthur's arms, "She succeeded?"
"Yes, My Lord," Morgana nodded, "We saw her, Nimueh underestimated her, let her get too close and she…um…ran Nimueh through with a sai," she glanced at Arthur, knowing that Uther would only hear that Nimueh was gone, whereas Arthur would find it more believable an event for it to be THAT weapon than a sword.
Uther nodded, stunned, "If I may," Gaius nodded at Marayna, wanting to tend to her.
"Yes, of course," Uther stepped aside, letting Arthur carry her to the physician's chambers once more.
So stunned was he, that he didn't even notice Morgana taking Merlin's hand as they passed and not let go.
Marana blinked awake, groaning as she winced and held a hand to her throbbing head. Was this what Arthur felt like when she knocked him out? Perhaps she shouldn't anymore…before shaking that idea off, no, it was far too much fun.
"So you're finally awake," a voice said beside her. She looked over to see Arthur sitting there much like she had sat beside him to care for him, "Your mother, Gwen, Morgana, Merlin, and Gaius are in there," he nodded at the door to the main chambers, "Waiting till you woke up."
She nodded, pushing herself up more, "Best go tell them I'm not dead then."
Arthur was silent, looking at her a long while, "I'm hurt."
"Yes I know" she rolled her eyes, seeing his arm was still in a sling, "The Questing Beast tore at you and…"
"No," he cut in, "I'm hurt somewhere else."
She frowned, eyeing him as though trying to determine where, "No, you're not."
"Yes, I am," he reached out with his free hand and took hers, lifting it as he moved to sit on the side of her cot, placing it on his heart, "Here," he breathed, looking into her eyes, "You left…" he murmured, "You were going to leave. You went to fight a sorceress all on your own. Mara…you could have died! You almost did!"
She eyed him a moment, lifting her hand to his cheek, "And now we're even," she offered him a smile, before patting his cheek, "Now, for once, don't be a prat and go tell my family they can stop worrying and start smothering me."
Arthur blinked as she laid back down, closing her eyes to rest before he got up and went to do just that. Marayna cracked an eye open when she heard the door open and smirked, look at that, the Crown Prince taking orders from a servant. Well, it had only taken her a year, he still needed a bit of training, but…they had all the time in the world now.
And she was sure she'd rather enjoy seeing just what she could get him to do.
To be continued…in…Flames!
A/N: I can't believe the story's over! O.O But...surprise! In just 6 hours the next story will be up :) I'm trying to fit 3 new main-show stories into this year, Merlin (all 5 series), Once Upon a Time (3 current seasons), and Big Bang Theory (7 current seasons) and I worked out that, in order to do it, I need to post the next story in a series on the same day the last one ends :) So...check back in only a few short hours for the very next story in the Prophecies! :)
I hope you liked the tiny change about what happened on the Isle, I tried to not have Marayna fully take Merlin's place in that she was going with the full intent of taking Nimueh out (or die trying) instead of giving up her life, it was more to protect her brother from doing just that :) And I made the spell that the Dragon gave her different to suit her different personality than her brother :) I can say she won't often 'take his place' like that, but I felt, having nearly lost Arthur, and then to be faced with possibly losing her brother, it was very much a Marayna thing to do to go there and launch an offensive on Nimueh :)
I can say though, there's something very important about the moments that Arthur and Marayna were together here, things that were said/unsaid }:) And there'll be more of Uther's thoughts on what he overheard coming up :)
I just want to take a second to say thank you :) So to anyone who's ever read/reviewed/favorited/followed this story, thank you guys :) It really means a lot to me to know that you've been enjoying it so far :) I love you all, you rock! :)
The poll for the pairing name will be up in about 6 hours when the second story begins ;)
Some notes on reviews...
Oh I can say we'll see quite a bit of Morgana and Marayna teaming up ;)
Awww, thanks so much! I'm glad you're enjoying the story even with Arthur/OC :)