Love and Lakes


The morning found Gaius, out in the Lower Town investigating the death of the old woman, Merlin looking rather lost as he polished Arthur’s armor, Freya somewhere alone in the city, and Arthur and Gwen thoroughly confused about it all. The murder, however, was not confusing, because such similar ones had taken place years earlier, but the cause of the murders were still fresh in Gaius’ mind. It took him no time at all to name the pre-determined cause of death: death by Bastet. And so, the physician grimly set back off to his quarters.

When he came back, he was greeted by the sight of Merlin absentmindedly polishing Arthur’s already gleaming armor - his mind was obviously somewhere else. Gaius sighed and said, “Merlin.” Merlin didn’t answer. “Merlin!” Merlin snapped back into reality, surprised.

“Yes?” He answered breathlessly. Gaius set down his physician’s bag.

“What happened last night?” Merlin sighed and put down the polishing rag, placing his head in his hands.

“Freya... we went down into the catacombs to hide her there and wait for this whole thing to blow over. When she transformed, she got... scared, or panicked, or something, and I couldn’t control her... she left, and killed somebody, and I don’t know where she is.”

Gaius looked down on Merlin pityingly, before slowly sitting down beside him and putting a hand on his arm. “It’s alright, Merlin. You’ll find her again.”

Merlin took a shaky breath in. “But what if I don’t? What if I’m too late, like last time, and she dies again? It’ll be my fault, Gaius. And I couldn’t handle that.” Gaius frowned.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to go through with your duties as before. You cannot look through the city in the daytime. Arthur only gave you the rest of yesterday off. Freya is a different story, since she is the one who is ‘sick’, but you cannot make Arthur suspicious.” Merlin sighed.

“Maybe you’re right. But as soon as I’m done, I’m going to look for her.” And he got up and went to do his duties, but with a heavy heart.

Merlin sighed. Of course, on the day it was most important to get out early, Arthur had given him a pile of chores to get done by sunset. He sat, a bitter frown on his face, and polished Arthur’s sword. Then, he was to polish all his armor, do his laundry, and bring him his dinner.

He had to go look for Freya! Less people would be around at this time, so it was ideal to look for her now, and she would be turning into a Bastet soon enough. He had to get her before then. He had to! And Arthur had decided that Merlin really needed a load of chores to do, of course he had.

With a small creak of the door, Leon entered the armory. Merlin gave him a small smile and went back to his work, going at a fast pace.

Leon frowned for a moment as he watched Merlin polish the sword alarmingly fast. “Merlin? Is there somewhere you need to be?” Merlin started at his words.

“Um, yeah. It’s really, really important.” Leon smiled at him slyly.

“Don’t you think there’s a... shortcut for that?” Leon said quietly. Merlin smiled a bit too, remembering when Lancelot had said something like that as well. With a flash of his eyes, the armor was gleaming and the pile of laundry he had sitting next to him was miraculously cleaned.

“Thanks, Leon.” He said as he walked out to fetch Arthur’s dinner, and then ran out into the city.

Merlin opened the door without knocking and set Arthur’s dinner tray on the table. Arthur looked up suddenly from the paper that he was reading. With a sigh, he picked up his fork and begin to talk, in between bites. “I just can’t believe the Bastet is back. I thought I had killed it the last time we saw it so many years ago. And why is it back now, after so much time? The whole thing just confuses me.” Merlin bit his lip, wanting to give him the answer, but also deeply hoping that Arthur wouldn’t figure out the truth.

Instead, he tried to lead him off the path a bit. “Maybe this is a different one. You never know.” Arthur looked up at him, slightly perturbed at the uneasy tone Merlin’s voice had taken on, but his words made sense.

“Maybe.” He breathed out, and went back to reading his paper while he ate. Merlin let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding, and left the room.

He headed up to his room in Gaius’ chambers and looked around for a cloak, or maybe something just to cover his face. He was satisfied with a heavy blue cloak that he could pull over his head that cast a shadow over his face. That way, if any of the knights saw him using magic, they couldn’t tell it was him. He hoped.

Folding the cloak in his arms, he walked out of the castle and into the courtyard. Ducking into a corner, he donned the cloak and made sure any of his clothes that were recognizable were hidden, and then came out. He then cast a small spell on himself that made him hard to focus on, like he had when he and Freya had snuck back into the city. Better safe than sorry.

Walking around the city after dark wasn’t exactly what Merlin would call fun, but it was necessary. He felt himself turning and jumping at every small sound. He remained hopeful that Freya would be found, though, even though she couldn’t be found in the alleyways, the catacombs, or many of the streets. Midnight approached, and Merlin’s hopeful outlook waned.

He checked every street, looked down each dark alleyway, and looked around the catacombs probably three times before midnight came. And as he walked down another street, a loud sound and many shouts came from a few streets to his left. "Oh no," Merlin thought. "They found her first."

And he sprinted off, tearing down the streets and running until he made it to the scene of the crisis. And there stood the Bastet, growling as the Knights surrounded her. Merlin watched for a second before rushing forward, ducking behind a pillar before his eyes glowed gold and a strong gust of wind knocked the Knights off their feet. He winced, but it was something that had to be done.

He sent a mental message to Freya: Get out while you can. Fly away! But all he got was a growl in response. The Knights got to their feet and readied themselves again, before one in the group that Merlin didn’t really know yelled, “Attack!” And ran forward, sword in hand and being followed by three other knights. Merlin breathed in and put up an invisible shield around her, so that when the Knights ran into it it looked as the Bastet might have knocked them off their feet.

He sent another message. Go! Go! But yet again there was only another growl. And out of the corner of his eye he saw a knight stealthily creep along the wall behind her to slash at her side. In an instant, Merlin murmured a spell and the knight fell to his feet and gave out a small ‘oof’. The Bastet turned to him, and recognizing danger, finally spread her wings and flew off into the knight.

Merlin immediately turned and followed her before realizing that the knights would try and follow her as well. With a sigh, he muttered an enchantment. Immediately, the knights were given the thought that they had the apprehended the beast, and that it was now dead. Merlin frowned - he really didn't like messing with people's heads, now that he had to do it so often. But then he shook off the worries that slowed him, and ran off towards the direction she was flying in.

He sprinted through the streets, desperate to catch her before she went loose on the city again. And his feet pounded against the stone, his arms pumping up and down until he looked slightly left in the alleyways, and came to a slowing halt.

He thought he had seen Morgana, eyes glowing an eerie amber and a finger to her lips. As he turned to go see if she had been there, and jogged back, all he saw in her place was the edge of a black dress and wind mixing up the leaves before the alley was completely deserted again.

Merlin frowned, and though it worried him, he pushed it to the back of his mind. He would think about it later - right now Freya was the most important thing.

He sprinted to the catacombs, where her shaking, but alive human body was awaiting him.

Arthur frowned, but was assured by Noldan and the Knights that the creature had been apprehended. Strange, he hadn't heard too much last night... but he paid the bounty hunter his money and watched him leave.

At least Freya was now back at her post, though. Gwen was very happy about that.

It seemed as if things were resolved... for now.
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