Albion's Coin

Chapter 19 More Bad News

Merlin remained at the wooden table after Gwen left. Lines of worry and concern appearing on his face. Merlin thought the Pendragon line would be sustained now that Arthur was back. Without an heir, who would claim the throne? Another knock came at the door, startling Merlin out from his thoughts. "Enter." A young boy of perhaps eight came in the room. "There's a letter here for you Lord Merlin," he said taking it out of the bag that hung at his side. Merlin still wasn't used to being called a Lord and had to stop himself from sighing. Standing up, Merlin took the envelope from him "What's your name?"

"Jason sir."

Merlin fished out a few gold pieces and handed them to him. His eyes grew wide at the money. "Take them home with you so you and your family can use them how they wish."

"Thank you very much sir. Mother will be happy with these" Jason gave a quick bow to him before rushing out of the room to finish his rounds.

Merlin went to the small stand that stood by his bed. Opening the drawer, he took out a letter opener. Placing it back, Merlin took out the letter and began to read.

Dear Merlin,

This is Sarah from Ealdor writing to you now. I don't know if you remember me, but that is not important. I hate to be the bearer of bad news; Hunith had passed away. By the time this letter reaches you, it would have been about a week ago. She became very sick and did not have the strength to overcome it. I was with her when she died, her last wish was for me to say she loved you, you were her greatest treasure. A mother's love never truly goes away. She also told me to say to not blame yourself. No one had expected it. We mourned for her and she is buried. I will help keep the house until you decide what to do with it. I am very sorry Merlin, she will be missed.

Tears started gathering at the edge of his eyes. They poured down his cheeks unrestrained. Merlin's slid down the wall he was leaning against. His legs unable to support his weight. Merlin could feel his stomach clenching and unclenching. He kept reading over the horrible words. Not wanting to believe them. Finally, Merlin let his arms fall to his side as he stared into nothingness.

Arthur was walking down the halls, sweaty from swords practice. Training new men to be knights. They weren't quite ready yet, but some had potential. He wanted to take a bath before dinner. Asking a servant his request, they bowed to him and went off. When the water was brought up, Arthur changed behind the screen and quickly rinsed himself down. After his bath, the servants cleared the tub away before dinner was brought up.

Gwen walked into the room as the servants finished laying out the food. "Arthur," she said slowly when they were alone. "There's something I need to tell you." Arthur was about to reply when Gwaine burst into the room. Both royals snapped their heads towards the wiled eyed man. "Arthur quick! There's something wrong with Merlin!"

Without another word, all three of them ran from the room. Arthur got there first, flinging the door open. Merlin didn't even notice. What Arthur saw scared him. Merlin was slumped against the opposite wall, his legs outstretched in front him. Arthur crossed the length in a few strides. Merlin's head was turned towards his right. His eyes were glassed over, unfocused. Staring at nothing. Arthur acknowledged tear streaks down his face, and the tears that were still coming. "Merlin?" Arthur shook his shoulder. No response came from the man in question, he didn't even seem to hear him. "Merlin!" Arthur raised his voice a little louder. Still nothing. Not even a blink. "What happened?!" Arthur hurriedly asked Gwaine. The knight was trying to control his rising panic. "I don't know! I was going to ask Merlin if he wanted to come to the tavern with me. He was like this when I found him."

"Go get Gaius, perhaps he can figure out what's wrong" Arthur told the knight.

"I'll get him" Gwen replied, knowing Gwaine would want to stay. Giving her a nod of thanks, Gwaine turned his attention back to Merlin. "Keep trying to get him to respond" Gwen said standing up. "I'll find Leon and Percival too." With one last concerned glance at her friend, Gwen hurried out of the room.

"Merlin? What is it, what's wrong?" Arthur asked. Hoping to get some reaction out of him.

"Come on mate, give us something" Gwaine tried.

Merlin remained mute. Arthur finally saw the note next to Merlin's hand. Picking it up, his eyes read over the parchment.

Arthur felt numb. He always liked Hunith, she was that link to what a mother might have been for him. No wonder Merlin was in this state. "What does it say?" Arthur almost jumped, forgetting Gwaine was there. He didn't say anything, only handed him the letter. Gwaine let the parchment fall to the floor when he finished. Nether were really sure what to say or how to comfort their friend.

"Let's put him on the bed, he'll be more comfortable" Arthur finally said. Merlin still showed no signs of comprehension, even when the two men lifted him off the floor. It was like his mind was trapped somewhere else. Arthur stood on the left while Gwaine was on the right of the bed. Then Gaius stormed into the room. Followed closely by Gwen, Percival and Leon. "Gwen told me what happened," he said out of breath. "Have you managed to get a response from him yet?" Arthur moved out of the way for Gaius to reach him. "No," he replied. "We did find the cause though." Gaius paused in mid evaluation over Merlin. "What is it?" Gaius said impatiently.

"It's Hunith Gaius. She's, she's dead."

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