Merlin lay in his makeshift tent, gazing up at the starry night sky. Thoughts of Gaius, and of Gwen flitted across his mind, as he contemplated the vast dome of dark. Was Gaius asleep; snoring in his little cot, or was he kept up staring at the same night sky. Was Gwen asleep, alone in her feather matteress, or was she still searching. Merlin guessed it was the latter for both of them.
Merlin knew he should let them know what happened. However, he had no desire in the world to go within 20 feet of the lake. It felt as if a powerful force had tied a rope around him that lead straight to the center of the lake.
Earlier that day, he had come up with a solution while he was scavenging for berries. He had whistled, muttering a summoning charm beforehand, and a beautiful canary flew down from the treetops. Merlin pressed a leaf between two rocks, and wrote in cramped writing with bright red berry juice, a note. It had said this,
My Dearest Gaius.
I have enchanted this bird to find you, when it does, as I know it will, please take his note straight to Queen Quinevere. I am at the Lake of Avalon. You know what this means Gaius. I have failed in my destiny, and now I must wait. Arthur will return, and the land of Albion will be united, and I will be by his side when it happens, I will not fail him again. I am so, so sorry. I wish I could return to you, and continue being your apprentice until your days end. Arthur needs me, and I must stay with him. He is dead Gaius.
The king is dead.
The note had been splattered with a few drops of wetness, that Merlin had quickly smudged away. He tied the note to the birds leg with a string from his kerchief, and watched as it flew off into the distance.
He was quite proud with himself. He had found a huge bush of blackberries his seventh day, and the nuts and fruit animals brought to him, well. That had not been explained yet. The best day so far, had been when a wild boar unexpectantly, jumped into the lake and drowned itself. Merlin had felt quite sick, having observed it all, but happy when he had fresh meat for supper. Even if it was a little soggy.
Merlin awoke the next morning, and stretched. He was SO not used to sleeping on the forest floor yet. As his vertabre rolled around, and cracked threatiningly in his back, Merlin's eyes fell onto the bank. He shot up, and stumbled over to the golden plate stacked full of ripe, shiny apples.
Merlin's mouth started watering, but he with held from diving in. He found his pocket knife, and slowly sliced up one of the juicy apples. He laid out the fresh slices, and picked the best looking one. He stood, and using his best javelin throwing form, threw it into the lake, just as he did with the very best of his meals.
"Thank you Sire." Merlin muttered, bowing his head.
A few moments passed, and Merlin turned away frustrated. Arthur had only spoken to him twice, the second time to laugh heartily when Merlin fell in the lake. He had been trying in vain to get him speak again, ever since then. He had sat and asked questions for hours, sometimes recieveing strange ripples in the water, but no answers. So Merlin had talked, and talked, and talked. Until he lost his voice in fact. Merlin had told stories, listed old friends, and described the weather.
Once or twice he had had the feeling Arthur was actually sitting right next to him, listening intently.
Just as Merlin sat with his apples again, Arthur's disembodied voice chuckled.
"Twenty favors down, a bigillion to go. Repaying you is such hard work."
Merlin could hear the smile in Arthur's voice.