Albion's Coin

Chapter 2 The Reveal

Arthur followed Freya outside the tent. A large meadow was before them. The grass was a vivid bright green, waving in the slight breeze. A tree line stood off to their right going for how long, he did not know. The sent of pine flicked at his nose. Arthur stood transfixed at the sight. Walking barefoot, he could feel the softness of the grass touching his feet. Arthur noticed Freya walking with no covering as he was. Children chased each other, weaving in out out of the trees. Not coming to the meadow as they did.

"They are elves Arthur Pendragon," Freya explained. "This is a place of pure magic. Elves have practiced the craft long before men. During the great purge, they fled here from Uther's wrath. Only those with strong magic can stay here."

"Then how am I here?" Arthur asked.

"It is not yet your time to leave the world of the living. You were sent here to heal, in order to return. Had you died, the Old Religion would have required another life for yours. However, there is another reason" Freya briefly paused. "When your mother Ygraine could not bear children, Uther was distraught. He asked the sorceress Nimueh, who practiced magic alongside Gaius, to help her become pregnant. The only way she could do this was use the power over life and death. Your father knew this, and he agreed to the terms of the Old Religion: for a life, another must die to keep the world in balance. Nimueh had no control over who would die so you would be born. Ygraine was the one who paid the price. After her death, Uther blamed Nimueh and magic; thus creating the Great Purge."

"No" Arthur spoke forcefully and with conviction. Freya turned to faced him.

"No." Arthur said again, "You lie. I have been told this before by who I thought was my mother. Merlin was with me when we went to Morgause. He said it was only an illusion caused by her to make me turn on my father." As he was saying this out loud Arthur already started to doubt his words. "What you saw was real Arthur Pendragon. Morgause told the truth when she said you could speak to your mother. What you saw was real."

Arthur spoke solemnly; "So Merlin lied to me about that too." Freya felt sorry for him as his eyes turned to feelings of betrayed. Going towards him, she lifted his chin up gently. "The only reason Merlin lied, was because if you had killed your father, you would have never forgiven yourself. Merlin knew that." Arthur realized her words were right. "Merlin hated lying to you Arthur. He wanted you to know who he truly was, but not at the cost of you having to choose between him and your father."

"How do you know so much about Merlin?" Arthur asked her suddenly curious. Noticing she had a faraway look in her eyes. The words came quietly. "We were in love."

Shock filled Arthur. Merlin had a lover? Who would ever love Merlin? He was clumsy, forgetful and seemed to spend most of the time in the tavern. Though he does have a good heart, and is extremely loyal. Arthur began to suspect that all those trips to the tavern, weren't really 'trips to the tavern.' "What happened?"

Freya had that faraway look in her eye again. "I was cursed many years ago. A bounty hunter captured me and brought me to Camelot. I was cold, scared, and trapped in a cage. Merlin saw me. He rescued and hid me with in your castle. I had magic, but I was too afraid to use it. Merlin revealed his magic, showing me the beauty of it. How not to be afraid." She paused and tears came to her eyes, they didn't fall. Arthur thought she wouldn't continue. "We were going to run away together. Live at a place by a lake." Arthur stayed silent through this, but was secretly growing jealous and hurt that Merlin trusted her more than him. "I didn't want him to leave his life in Camelot; so I left instead. Only I didn't get far. My curse made me transform. By day I am a human, and night turns me into a beast." She paused again watching Arthur, he didn't seem to recognize the story. "I was stabbed by a knight," Freya continued. "Merlin brought me to the lake of Avalon, I died in his arms."

Arthur didn't know what to do, or how to comfort her. He couldn't imagine loosing Gwenevere. Watching Freya die like that must have been devastating for Merlin. "I'm sorry," was all he could say. It sounded idiotic. Freya just smiled at him. "To answer your previous question. Of how you can be here. Merlin's father had magic, and was an ally of Uther. He had to flee Camelot when magic was deemed evil. Gaius sent him to Ealdor. Figuring he'd be safe in Cenered's kingdom. There he met Hunith. Uther perused his once ally, forcing Merlin's father to leave, protecting them all from Uther's wrath. Arthur began to feel loathing towards his father, for causing so much pain and suffering. "I have no intention to direct these feelings upon you Arthur." Once again seeming to know the emotions inside the young king. "Merlin should hate Uther, instead, he pities him."

"Why?" Arthur never thought anyone with magic would pity his father. "Because he sees Uther as a broken man; who has been blinded by hatred." Arthur didn't realize they were walking again until Freya stopped. Before them was a small picnic. A blanket was laid out with freshly baked bread, grapes inside a bowl, and cheese.The stones next to the picnic borders a small pond. Arthur's stomach grumbled. Freya laughed, it was a sweet sound. "Come, sit," she said inviting Arthur next to her. Arthur sprawled himself out, beginning to pick at the grapes. "To finish this story," Freya began again. "If your father had never banished magic; Merlin would never have been born." Arthur's eyes grew wide in surprise. "So you see, everything happens for a reason. Even if you do not know what that reason is." They sat in silence for the next few moments as Freya let him digest this information.

Arthur didn't know what to think. Part of him wanted to believe that all of what Freya had said was a lie. That would be easier. Though he knew she was telling the truth, there was no lie in her eyes. "I believe you." He said at last. "Thank you Arthur Pendragon."

"Call me Arthur. Any friend of Merlin's is a friend of mine." Arthur suddenly felt embarrassed . Freya was obviously more than a friend to Merlin; but he didn't want her calling him by his formality just because he was king. Freya laughed. "Arthur it is then."

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