Before the group left Ailya called to a Merlin falcon in the area and using her gift told it to send on the message through the grape vine till it reached Anelya and once it got there for the Falcon to fly out over the kingdom where the king would see. Merlin was curious what was going on and asked "So what is the message you are relaying with a Merlin falcon?" Ailya looked at Merlin smiling "I told your father that if we won I would send a Merlin falcon but if we lost I would send a raven. The Merlin falcons will relay the message to each other till it reaches home I estimate it will take until midday by then your father will have seen the falcon and will know that you are alright and are coming home." Merlin smiled and said "Home it has been a while since I have been able to say that I can go home. But there are a few things to be done first but they should not take long we should be able to set out by midday tomorrow." Ailya just smiled no words were needed for them to know what the other felt. Arthur cut in saying "Merlin I think we should get going you know how my father is if I am not back when he thinks I should be he sends out a damn search party so we should probably get back." Merlin just nodded and got on his auburn mare and fell in next to Arthur as all the knights did the same and headed back to Camelot.
(Twenty minutes later at the front gates.)
Merlin was looking up at the guards patroling the walls as the passed through and could tell that one of them was relaying the order to tell the king that they had returned. Merlin smiled as he said to Arthur "You know Arthur I think they might have just went to tell your father we are back." Arthur smiled back and started their usual banter "And how would you know that idiot?" "Because you unobservant prat I just saw the guard run off to tell him and I will bet you he will be meeting us in the courtyard alone with Gaius." Merlin retorted then they launched into their usual fond insults that they threw at each other on daily basis and by the time they got to the courtyard they were laughing so hard that they could barely stay on their horses.
Just as Merlin predicted Uther and Gaius were there waiting right on the stairs of the front gate. Merlin got off his horse as did everyone else. Gaius walked up to him and hugged him which Merlin returned when they broke apart Merlin said "We did it Gaius, Malith is dead I can go finally go home." Gaius smiled and replied "I knew you could do it I am so proud of you my boy."
Merlin then turned to Uther and bowed then said "Sire I want to thank you for allowing your son and one of his knights to help me and my knights fight my cousin Malith. The fought well. I am proud to have fought with such strong warriors. But I have some things I would like to discuss with you about the alliance you wished to form between Camelot and Anelya. I would like to talk to you about today if possible because I plan on leaving tomorrow around midday and I need to talk to you before then and I would like Arthur to be there because my request involves him." Uther nodded and said "If you would like to talk about them now I would be more than open to it." "Very well then lead the way." Merlin replied.
(Twenty minutes later)
"You have told me all the things you would like sire and I will be sure to bring them up to my father but I have request to make." Merlin said "And what request it that?" Uther asked "I would like to take Arthur with me when I go home to start the alliance there. I promise you no harm will come to him I won't allow it and they would have to kill me to get to him. I know my father would see it as a sign of goodwill to allow your only son and hair to come to Anelya just to start the alliance. I negotiated my first peace and alliance treaty and thirteen all on my own. My father thought that it would be good to for I am king to know how to negotiate a treaty among other things. But I also have personal reason for wanting to bring Arthur along I want to show him my home and have him meet my family because Arthur is a dear friend to me and it would mean a lot to me to have him there. I would really appreciate it if you gave your consent to this, we would return within a month's time because it takes fortnight to get there, a week to stay and make all the necessary arrangements and for me to visit with my family for a little bit, then another fortnight to get back. I swear on my life that no one will harm him they will have to go through me and my knights to get anywhere near him." Uther thought it over then turned to Arthur and asked "Arthur what do you think of t his arrangement do you think that you going there is a good idea?"
Arthur did not smile but his eyes told everyone how happy he was with the idea as he said "Yes father I do I think it would be a good idea for me to go to Anelya with Merlin for all the reasons provided." Uther was silent for a moment then said "Alright Arthur pack whatever you are going to take with you and be ready to leave by midday tomorrow. you are both dismissed" Arthur and Merlin got up, bowed to Uther, then left.
Once they got back to Arthur's chambers they burst out laughing. When Arthur and Merlin finally had some composure back Arthur said "My father is such an idiot he thinks this alliance will benefit him more then you but you turned the tables on him. You're a smooth talking devil when it comes to getting something I never noticed how good you were before." Merlin laughed "Yes well experience and being around you all day every day you tend to pick up a few things. Well you should probably start packing we will be leaving tomorrow. Then get some rest it is a long road ahead. Goodnight Arthur." "Goodnight Merlin." Arthur replied.
(the next day mid day)
Arthur was waiting for Merlin out in the courtyard they had about a half an hour before they had to leave and Arthur had told Merlin to meet him early. "Arthur what is it you wanted to show me?" Merlin asked as he came down the steps Arthur smiled and said "You'll see, now follow me." Arthur led Merlin to his personal stables and up to the same auburn mare that Merlin always rode when ever going out with Arthur "What is this Arthur?" Merlin asked confused "I giving her to you she responds to you better than me and you are the only one who had ridden her in the last four years. So I am giving her to you she is yours to keep as a gift from me." "Thank you Arthur this means a lot to me I won't forget this. The others are waiting we should probably get underway we have a lot of distance to cover before nightfall."
Arthur nodded smiling as he lead his own horse out Merlin right behind him. Soon they were underway not knowing that by the end of this trip choices would have to be made that would change their lives forever.