The Bargain

Chapter 7

"Yes," Gwaine said as he looked at Eira and Merlin, who both nodded in confirmation.

"Well more towards the second part. I think we can all agree on the fact that laws against magic originally passed by Uther should lose their influence now that so much has changed. The council can define the limits towards the usage of magic, but no one should have to hide, much less be executed for, who they are," Merlin added, his slightly glassy eyes containing patches of sadness.

"And this was what Arthur was hoping to create?" She took a breath. "Before he...died."

"It was his destiny," Merlin said sadly. Even Eira nodded at Merlin's words.

"I agree. People with the unique gift of magic have been hiding for too long. I shall speak to Geoffrey," the Queen finished.

"So do we have a deal?" Gwaine brought up the main point and smiled.

"Yes. Thank you so much. For everything. Being here and supporting me in Camelot's dark times, and for promising to bring back our king," Gwen smiled back at Gwaine and then shook his, Merlin's and Eira's hands, giving them more reason to believe in her promise to help them in return.

"And may I stay in the castle?" Eira asked. Gwen nodded warmly.

"You can stay with me if you'd like to," Gwaine offered. Eira nodded. Gaius, who they had almost forgotten had entered, spoke.

"I'm warning you, you two will probably have to help me out with the work since we're short on helpers here," Gaius added, smiling.

The next day, Gwaine and Eira spent their time with Merlin and Gaius, helping them clean up the mess the war had left behind. In the evening, Gwen sent two guards to tell them that dinner was served in the throne room after they had discussed how they would bring Arthur back. Gwaine, Percival and Leon were the only knights invited, since these were tough times, and only the kingdom's most loyal and trusted ones could attend. Gaius joined them as well, just looking happy that everyone was reunited. Merlin had brushed up on some knowledge about magic and after going through some of Gaius' books, he had discovered that they would need the Helix, an old magical item, to bring Arthur back.

"It can be found in the Cave of Forgotten Secrets. It takes a great deal of effort to get hold of, but its powers will make the job a lot easier," he explained. They finished eating and talked about the progress in Camelot.

"It's a lot of work repairing and replacing everything, but I am hoping that Camelot will be back to normal soon." Percival stated.

"And training the new recruits isn't easy either; Percival and I were never the ones who led trainings, it was always Arthur. We have been training extra every morning because the men need to be trained by the best for war against the enemy kingdoms. If Arthur was here, he would know exactly what to do about it." Leon said.

"Well if Arthur was here we wouldn't even have that problem," Gwen said quietly.

Eira looked down, ashamed, she knew that it was partly her fault. Gwen put her arm on Eira's and smiled with caution, "I didn't mean it like that. We'll have him back soon enough anyway."

"I think I'm going to go for a ride in the woods. I need some fresh air and some space to think," Eira excused herself from the table and left.

"She's tired, and feels to blame for Arthur's death," Merlin said, immediately understanding how she felt. "And I understand exactly how Morgana manipulated her." He shuddered as he remembered the slimy feeling of the Fomorroh snake in his neck.

"I just hope she understands that she's not alone anymore," Gwen said sympathetically.

"I think we should all retire. We've had a long day and we're all tired," Gaius said.

"We have a busy time ahead of us if we're going to bring back that king of yours," Gwaine said cheerfully and pushed Gwen gently. She smiled and pushed him back playfully as they exited the room. Gwaine headed to his chambers and said goodnight to the others as they left.

Eira breathed in the cool evening air as she walked to the stables. A groom got a beautiful dark bay horse ready and she thanked him as he helped her on to it. She trotted out of the gates and into the woods. The swift horse moved gently under her, and she got him into a gallop. It was nearly dark, but Eira enjoyed the wind in her face and her hair trailing behind her. A ride was exactly what she'd needed. Walking around the destroyed parts of the castle wasn't easy when all the could think of was: I did this. How could she have been so foolish to think that Morgana would help her? The memory of the Fomorroh snake in her neck almost made her dinner resurface.

She slowed her horse down to a walk and tried to relax. She was safe now, Morgana was dead and couldn't get to her. She had Gwaine, Merlin, Gwen, Gaius and the whole of Camelot. Gwaine was the one person that had comforted her and he made her feel welcome in this strange world when she had first been to Camelot.

She would do anything not to lose him.

All of a sudden, her horse pricked its ears and walked attentively. It was almost completely dark, and very hard to see if there was anything lurking behind a tree or a bush. Suddenly she felt someone land behind her on the horse, and a strong grip held her as she was pulled off her startled horse. It reared and took off in the direction she'd come from. Her ambusher's grip loosened and she was shoved against a tree. "Tie her up. Tight," a deep voice said.

As he moved in front of her, holding a torch, she studied his unfamiliar face. He had scars running across his face, and his eyes were piercing blue. He looked middle-aged, and like he'd spent most of his life in brawls and tavern fights.

"Who are you?" she asked, trying to keep her voice steady, and not letting them hear how frightened she was.

'No one you should know." he asked, and she pulled away as much as she could when he stroked her hair. "Tell me who you are."

"I'm Jane. Jane Smith. Let me go! What do you want with me?" she lied, disliking everything about the situation.

"Well...there are a lot of things I could want with you," he looked at her dress. "Hmmm. This looks like it could belong to a rich lady. Maybe someone from Camelot. Maybe someone who associates with people like Queen Guinevere," he said menacingly. Eira realized that they were after something in particular, they weren't just bandits. She kept silent.

"What exactly do you know about the Helix?" he asked, moving closer to her. Her eyes widened. He smiled when he saw that she recognized the name.

"I don't know what you're talking about," she said, trying to remain cool.

"Oh don't you? Well, let me tell you then. We've heard that the Queen is planning to bring the King back with the help of some magical friends. And they need the Helix," he said.

"But we won't let them get it, right boss?" one of man's companions said and laughed dumbly, his mouth missing some teeth.

"Yes, you're right," her ambusher said. "I know that you, "Jane Smith", know quite a lot about the stone. Tell us, and we'll do things the easy way and let you go," he said gruffly and smiled a fake smile.

"I won't tell you anything," Eira said and turned her head away from him.

"Oh, you will, soon enough," he said threateningly, and turned her head back with his filthy and rough hands. He pulled out a knife, and held it against her neck. "Tell us. Tell us everything you know, or you'll find yourself with a red necklace around your neck once we're done with you! Jewellery is what you royals seem to love isn't it?"

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