Love and Lakes

The Duel

Merlin quickly side-stepped the spell she sent down, and turned to face Morgana. She gave a smirk and quickly made a jerking movement with her hand, causing the black smoke to move forward and grab him. Before he was right in front of her face, he twisted and turned around to face the castle. In a window, he was able to see Arthur, Gwen, and Gwaine staring out back at him in total fear and worry.

Merlin lunged a hand out for the window and screamed, “Arthur!” but he was quickly reeled in by Morgana’s cloud of darkness. Seeing Merlin, Arthur rushed towards the window and screamed, “Merlin!” back at him, and Gwen had to restrain both Arthur and Gwaine from launching themselves out the window after him.

Freya, who was helping a small child, looked up when Arthur screamed Merlin’s name. She rushed over to him and gently pushed him out of the way, where she saw Morgana pulling in Merlin. She quickly screamed, “Merlin!” too, a shrill, loud scream, and Merlin turned his head again and saw her in the window in the pained looking group of people.

“Freya!” He yelled, louder this time, but Morgana’s smoke snaked up around his arms and his shoulders until only his legs and the very tip of his shoulders were visible. He was struggling, struggling hard, but soon she got bored of his attempts to escape and completely trapped him inside. You could see his body struggling inside the smoke, but after a minute, he went limp.

The whole group gave out a little scream, except for Arthur. His eyes widened and he started to shake his head. “Merlin.” he whispered, as he held Gwen and she buried her head in his chest, but he continued to look out the window as Merlin’s limp form was dragged inside the mass of smoke. Freya hugged Gwaine (in a friendly way of course - they were pretty close because Gwaine always made Freya feel good about herself) and the four just looked out the window in total despair.

Morgana looked down at the puny, mourning people in the window and chuckled.

“See how you fare without your mighty Emrys.” She sneered. “My army is returning.”

Most of the people in the castle were confused, but the group of grieving four knew that they were doomed. Merlin had always protected them, as they knew, and without him to ward off the army of bandits and ruffians they were damned.

Morgana turned around and left, each step supported by the darkness. She smirked as she retreated into the Dark Woods, knowing that Emrys was stuck in the middle of all of her shadows, probably awake now. She would deal with him soon enough.

As soon as she reached the woods, with a wave of her hand, the darkness dissipated. Merlin fell to the ground, gasping, and he looked up, in a completely different surrounding. He was thoroughly confused and had a bit of a headache, but that didn’t stop him from staggering to his feet.

Morgana smirked again. “So the mighty Emrys finally awakens from his beauty sleep,” she said sweetly, as if doting on a small child. “Good morning.” Her sweet tone soon faded. “Or should I say, goodnight.” She smiled and with a flash of her eyes, a whirlwind of darkness soon awakened and swirled around Merlin, encasing him in complete blackness.

It surrounded him, but easily enough Merlin poked a hole through the dark coffin, and, from that, he exploded the whole thing outwards. He looked at Morgana, pity in his eyes. “It doesn’t have to be like this, Morgana.” He said quietly. “I’ll give you a chance to leave peacefully. Withdraw your attack on Camelot.”

Morgana’s face was filled with incredulity. “You fool. I will not stop until I am crowned as the rightful Queen of Camelot, and the people’s loyalty lie with me.” She lifted her chin in a regal way and put her hands on her hips, envisioning the crown on her head.

Merlin’s face hardened. “So be it.” He spat, and started chanting a spell. Vines that had not been there before broke through the dirt and started to wrap themselves around Morgana’s feet, then legs, then torso. The smallest glint of fear shone in her eyes.

However, with a quickly muttered spell from Morgana, the vines were incinerated by a blanket of fire wrapping itself around the forest floor, shooting outwards in a fast-moving layer on the ground. Merlin’s eyes flashed golden again, and he shot up in the air, suddenly flying.

For a second, Merlin was exhilarated. He had never attempted the flying spell before, but it was a great feeling. He felt weightless, and being able to glide on nothing but air made him feel very powerful and much more confident. As Morgana forcefully rose her hands upwards, making the flames jump higher and higher, Merlin rose up until he decided that he could try another something before he ended up hitting his head on the top of the tree.

He pushed his hands forward, and a wall of water formed at his feet in a temporary blockade from the fire. Soon, he transformed the simple wall into a fierce storm cloud, which rained heavily on the flames and put them out.

Meanwhile, Arthur was fighting fiercely through the lines of soldiers, who had once again advanced on Camelot. The citizens were safely inside the citadel, but the nights were outside defending themselves in a flurry of swords, maces, and axes. Some of the braver commoners had joined the knights and were fighting courageously alongside them.

The bandits were slowly, but surely losing. The knights were spurred to action by the loss of their friend, and the pure rage and hatred felt for Morgana and her men caused many of the attackers to fall. During all of this, Arthur was fighting savagely through the many bandits until he finally reached the gates, where he bolted into the woods the way Morgana had headed. In the chaos, nobody noticed.

Arthur kept running, dashing through the trees searching for his friend. Maybe, just maybe he was still alive. Then, he saw a roar of light and heat from somewhere on his left, maybe a quarter of a league away, and he started to run towards that.

When he finally got there, he saw Merlin. He was... was he flying? He was! Arthur was amazed and shocked, but he stayed hidden behind the tree, frozen. Merlin seemed to be standing on top of a storm cloud, like an angry god, and Morgana was on the ground trying but failing to conjure more flames in his heavy downpour.

Suddenly, Merlin muttered something and a blue, crackling light appeared in his hand. It solidified, crackling and sparking even more until Arthur realized Merlin had summoned a lightning bolt. Merlin launched it at Morgana, whose face had become a mask of terror, and she backed away, but soon the malice entered her eyes once more.

She caught the bolt in what looked like an invisible net, and she picked it up daintily as if it were some sort of delicate work of art. She smiled at it, and then muttered a few words. The bolt changed from light blue to black, with laces of purple, and then she launched it back at Merlin.

He wasn’t quite ready, and the bolt struck him in the leg. He howled in pain, and soon the storm cloud started to fade as his energy reserves started to fade as well. The cloud lowered his form down to the ground slowly, where it laid him softly. But without the rain to dampen the flames, the fire leapt high again and started to make its way to Merlin in a straight, dead-on line. Arthur frowned... magic really was evil, wasn’t it?

Merlin lifted his head to see the fire that was coming towards him, and he murmured a few words. The fire was extinguished, and Morgana was launched back with the force of it. Soon, Merlin struggled to his feet, panting, but victorious. Clutching his leg, he limped over to where Morgana lay.

Her breathing was ragged and shallow. She could not lift her head, but soon Merlin made his way into her line of view.

He muttered, “Withdraw your attack on Camelot. Do it now, or I kill you and all of your troops.” The idea pained him, but he tried not to let it show. Arthur frowned. Merlin could do something like that? What if Merlin ever turned against Camelot?

Morgana was afraid, but determined not to let Emrys be her downfall. She nodded, and sent out a telepathic message to her troops telling them to retreat and stop the attack. After doing so, she let her head fall back again, her breaths becoming quicker and shorter.

She gave him one last evil grin, and with a flash of her eyes, disappeared.

As soon as she had gone, Merlin collapsed to his knees, gasping. Arthur, finally unfreezing himself, ran towards him. Merlin looked up at him, not even asking him why he was there. He reached a hand out, but suddenly withdrew it when he saw the look in Arthur’s eyes.

Fear. Fear and hesitation. Merlin tried not to let the negative thoughts swirling in his mind bother him, but his efforts were fruitless.

Arthur was afraid of him and his magic, he undoubtedly thought it was evil. He would never allow magic back in Camelot now that he saw what it was capable of. For that matter, he would never allow Merlin back into Camelot now that he saw what he was capable of. Arthur didn’t even have to say anything, Merlin just knew it was the truth.

Merlin suddenly said, “Look, Arthur, magic isn’t -” But Arthur cut him off.

“Magic is not safe, Merlin. I know that you use it to defend me, but it’s not good for you to have. Magic corrupts, Merlin. I know that you are a good person, but so was Morgana. I don't want what happened to her to happen to you. Magic costs innocent people their lives and magic will never, ever have a place in Camelot because of it.” With each word, more and more hurt was shown in Merlin’s eyes until he couldn’t bare it anymore.

Merlin got up to his feet, a hardened resolve on his face, and raised a hand to Arthur. He started to chant, his voice starting out quiet and getting increasingly loud until it was a yell. Then his eyes flashed gold as the magic started to work.

Arthur realized what Merlin was doing. He - he didn't want to go back to how they had been before this, with Arthur always making fun of Merlin, forcing Merlin to lie, never, ever appreciating the great lengths Merlin went to protect him and Camelot. He wanted Merlin to stop.

“Merlin, no! Look, I’m sorry! I - I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry, Merlin. Maybe magic does have a place in Camelot, I was wrong, I’m..” But Arthur’s words trailed off as a glazed look came over his face. Merlin’s eyes widened and he tried to stop the magic, but it was too late.

Arthur forgot about Merlin's magic.

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