Chapter 29 Unfamiliar Belongings
Arthur wasted no time in packing up the camp. Leaving Iseldir quickly explaining to Leon and Percival what had happened. Within five minutes, the horses were once again in full gallop. Arthur was grateful they were not completely blind, the moon was almost full and no clouds blocked the stars to help them see. He couldn't stop thinking about that terrifying scream. The words of the prophesy kept playing over and over. Albion's Coin will be broken. Albion's Coin will be broken. The only hope Arthur had, was the trail they were following. They were close now, Arthur could feel it. 'Just hang on Merlin, we're coming, we're coming."
Arthur pushed the horses harder. Glad that they had given them their brief rest beforehand. His horse's neck was already covered with sweat, their breathing quickly became labored. Bursting free from the trees, Arthur spotted a crumbling fortress that might have been a small castle once. Three times smaller than Camelot. Arthur stopped his horse at the tree line, followed by Leon, Percival and Iseldir. "That's where Merlin is," Arthur said to them. "Hopefully Gwaine will be there too."
"Do you have a plan Sire?" Leon asked.
"There is no plan Leon." Both Percival and Leon eyed him wearily. "We do not know the layout of the foundation, we don't know how many men attacked Merlin and Gwaine, or even what their full purpose is." Although Arthur could guess. "We'll be going in blind this time; but thankfully, we have magic on our side." Arthur finished with a glance at Iseldir who nodded in return. "We also have the element of surprise."
"This mission will require stealth and speed. I will go in first with Iseldir, you two after, so they don't spring any surprise attacks behind us" Arthur said. They agreed and quickly tied their horses just out of sight of any prying eyes.
"I can place a spell over us to blend into the surroundings. If we move quickly or too far apart, the spell won't have effect any longer."
"Excellent, we can use that to our advantage" Arthur agreed.
Iseldir spoke a few words of the Old Religion they did not understand. When that was done, Arthur saw no difference or change in their small group, but he trusted in Iseldir. Arthur drew out Excalibur, Leon and Percival followed suit.
'Almost there Merlin.'
As soon as the curse Darwin was chanting ended, Merlin could feel the effects almost immediately. His magic screamed out to him, his back arched as an ear-piercing sound came from his mouth. The magic pushed against his body in attempt to escape, and it pushed hard. Merlin had always found his magic warm and comforting to him. Even during the times when he thought he was a monster. His magic always engulfed him like a warm blanket. Now, it felt alien underneath his skin, unfamiliar, and it was causing him pain. So much pain, Merlin almost let his magic leave his body instantly. It screamed at him.
"LET ME OUT!"
"No, I won't let you."
"YOU HAVE TO LET ME OUT!
"I can't. Not yet."
"I BELONG TO THE WORLD EMRYS, NOT JUST TO YOU!"
"I AM magic," Merlin said desperately. "You DO belong to me."
"I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THERE FOR YOU EMRYS." His magic argued. "I HAVE ALWAYS DONE WHAT YOU HAVE COMMANDED ME TO DO. NOW I ASK OF YOU, ALLOW ME TO LEAVE!"
The magic screamed at him so loudly it made his head hurt. "No. I will not."
"I WILL LEAVE BY FORCE IF I HAVE TOO."
This time, the magic pushed even harder against him. Merlin struggled to keep it at bay.
"You cannot. Only I can give permission whether you leave."
"I WILL DIE FROM THIS CURSE IF YOU DON'T LET ME LEAVE. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?"
"THEN LET. ME. LEAVE!"
His magic screamed at him one more time before receding.
Merlin was too engrossed with his inner battle to notice what was going on around him. Once he opened his eyes, Merlin was surprised. He wasn't hanging on the low ceiling by the cuffs anymore. Nor was he lying in a cell. In fact, Merlin couldn't feel the effects of the Cold Iron on him either. Instead, he seemed to be lying on the forest floor. Lifting his head up slightly, Merlin heard voices close by. On his right, Merlin saw five figures standing a little always from him. They seemed to be talking to someone standing next to a beautiful, white stallion. Merlin wasn't sure who they were because their backs were turned. Although he thought he spotted Arthur's familiar blond hair in the mix.
Merlin didn't know what was being discussed, but they seemed to come to some sort of agreement. Merlin laid his head back down on the ground. His eyes flicking to the night sky. He smiled as he saw bright stars peaking between the trees. Exhaustion suddenly overcame him from the battle of his magic. Even now, he could feel his magic dying with in him, and Merlin was getting weaker. Still, it pushed against his body, wanting to be free. Although not as hard this time, and Merlin was able to keep it easier contained. Merlin did feel guilty for holding his magic inside as it was dying so he could live just a bit longer. He wasn't ready yet. Merlin knew he wouldn't be able to keep this battle up for long. Letting his eyes close again, sleep claimed him quickly. Before he did, Merlin felt someone lift him up from the ground. He didn't know who was carrying him. Perhaps It was Arthur, but he wasn't sure. All he knew was he felt safe. The person stopped and Merlin suddenly felt dizzy as he was being manhandled into a series of motions. Something hard was underneath him, as he seemed to be sitting up. Merlin missed the presence of whoever was carrying him. He didn't want to be alone. That quickly vanished as he sensed them coming up from behind. Merlin was gently guided to lean back as he felt arms on either side of him. Merlin didn't know what was going on, or where they were going. A swaying sensation was the last thing Merlin comprehended. Letting the comforting presence to wash over him as he fell into deep, heavy sleep.