09 12 / 2013
Arthur sat on the floor where he had landed, his mind reeling. Part of him was unable to believe what Merlin had done, but at the same time, the prince knew he hadn’t meant to lose control like that. His horror at realising what he had done was a testimony to that. But even so, the servant had still done it, and there was no telling what else he was capable of doing without realising.
Climbing to his feet, Arthur suddenly frowned. He must be tired, for the prince could have sworn he just heard a scream that sounded suspiciously like his manservant. Shaking his head, Arthur pushed the matter from his mind. With not sleeping well the night before after being perched on a stool, then everything that had happened since, it was no wonder the prince was hearing things. Crossing his room with a sigh, he made to shut the door from where Merlin had left it open when something made him pause. His hand resting lightly on the handle, Arthur peered out into the corridor. Something wasn’t right.
Snatching up his sword, the prince stalked out into the corridor, the weapon held defensively in front of him. Swallowing hard, Arthur realised what was troubling him so much – it was the silence. Normally at this time of the day, something could always be heard, the oncoming evening meaning servants were normally bustling about trying to get the day’s work finished. But now, there was nothing, not even a whisper. Rounding a corner, Arthur quickly pressed himself into the wall as he heard faint footsteps heading his way. Holding his breath as they drew nearer and nearer, Arthur tensed. As the footsteps reached him, he sprang from his hiding place and leapt at the figure, sword held tightly in his outstretched hand. Swinging the weapon automatically, Arthur froze when he caught sight of who the figure was.
"Leon? What is going on? Where is everyone?"
"The prince," Leon stated, making Arthur start and look towards him in surprise There was something distant and cold about Leon’s normally friendly voice and Arthur had just enough time to register the far away, grey look in his eyes before a sword swung suddenly out of nowhere towards his head.
Blocking the blow, Arthur dodged out of the way. He had seen that look before; it was the same expression Merlin had been wearing whenever Claton was in control of him. Although he had not known it at the time, Arthur had come to realise all of Merlin’s strange behaviour could be traced back to the sorcerer.
"Leon?" the prince gasped, ducking under the knight’s arm. Darting behind him, Arthur bought his foot sharply up and knocked the man’s legs from under him. Immediately disarming Leon the second he hit the floor, Arthur took in the haunted eyes with horror. There could be no denying it; Leon was, somehow, under Claton’s influence. Unwilling to hurt the man if he was indeed not in control of himself, Arthur placed his foot firmly in Leon’s back as the knight began to wriggle. Thinking hard, Arthur repeated his earlier actions and bought the hilt of his sword down. Leon slumped immediately, allowing Arthur to remove his foot, sighing deeply. That was the second time in a day he had been forced to knock out one of his closest friends. Seizing the knight’s limp form, Arthur began to drag the body across the hallway, before unceremoniously throwing him into a broom cupboard and locking the door behind him. He may not want to really hurt the man, but Leon had just tried to kill him. There was a limit for how considerate the prince could be.
08 12 / 2013
Pausing outside his door, Arthur ignored the guard standing before him. He only hoped the man hadn’t heard Merlin’s pleading cry as Arthur had locked him in. Why he had done it, the prince had no idea; it wasn’t as if it would stop Merlin anyway. Breathing in deeply through his nose, Arthur steeled himself, preparing himself for whatever his father wanted this time. He really couldn’t be dealing with Uther now as well. The only dilemma he had was whether to tell the king or not Claton was still alive, in a manner of speaking.
Striding through the corridors regally, Arthur made his decision. He would not tell the king. For if he was to explain the manner in which Claton was still alive, he knew the king would have Merlin killed before he could say a word. Holding his head high and trying to hide the guilt he was feeling at leaving Merlin the way he had, Arthur Pendragon burst into the Great Hall with a sense of purpose.
"Father," Arthur stated, announcing his presence to Uther, who was standing at the end of the room, not even turning to acknowledge his son’s presence. "I believe you sent for me?"
"Arthur, yes. How is the training of your knights coming along?" Curious as to the sudden interest in the training, Arthur frowned at what he could see of the back of his father’s head.
"As well as I could hope for, Sire. Why?"
"Rumours have reached the kingdom. Possibility of a mass sorcerer attack building on the Northern border, but our informants have been unable to give specifics. They have been led to believe something big is about to happen, however. We must be prepared"
Swallowing nervously, Arthur only hoped his father couldn’t hear how fast his heart was beating from the other side of the room. Typical. The only time Uther had any sort of idea about something magical, and it coincided with Arthur himself finding out his own manservant was a sorcerer, and by the sounds of it, being possessed too by one who wanted to kill them all.
"Rumours, Sire?" the prince said reluctantly, knowing his father was expecting him to say something. He only hoped his voice hadn’t sounded as shaky to Uther as it had done to himself.
"Indeed. I want you to increase their training from tomorrow onwards. We will show these magic users that their tricks are no match for the steel of Camelot. If the rumours can be confirmed, or, for that matter, if they can’t, you are to ride out at the end of the week and eliminate this threat once and for all. Dismissed."
"Sire." Bowing his head to the king, regardless of the fact he was facing the other way, Arthur quickly left, suddenly feeling anxious to get back to Merlin. He knew the boy was scared, not only of Claton, but of the prince as well. Of what Arthur was going to do now he had admitted he knew. In a way, Arthur wished he hadn’t said anything and that Merlin wasn’t going to have told him. Not yet, anyway. Not until Claton was dealt with once and for all. Merlin didn’t need the threat of being executed hanging over him whilst trying to fight a sorcerer who wanted him more than dead. The only good thing was, Arthur mused, the corridors flying past as he quickly marched back to his chambers, was that as long as no one was around, Merlin would be able to use magic to fight the twisted man, without having to hide it from the prince as well. Considering Claton’s attitude to the pair of them, Arthur couldn’t help but think that that might be something that would be extremely helpful.
07 12 / 2013
Merlin groaned as he felt himself take back the control of his body. Sitting up blearily, the servant realised they were in the same cave as the previous night, the fragments of memory from the two occasions piecing together enough for him to know that Claton had once more used powerful magic. Glancing around the area, Merlin couldn’t see anything out of place, no clue as to what the sorcerer had done, yet he couldn’t help but get a strong feeling of foreboding. Whatever it was, it certainly wouldn’t be pleasant for anyone involved.
“Time to go.”
"Bye then," Merlin muttered, already climbing to his feet as he spoke. He knew full well that goading the man was foolish, but at this point in time the warlock honestly didn’t care. He didn’t feel like he had a lot left to lose. Besides, if Claton killed him, then he would no longer be in possession of his body, meaning he would be killing himself at the same time. Despite being half hopeful the sorcerer would snap, Merlin knew full well that there was no way Claton would be goaded into doing that. All of his plans and preparation to take over the warlock had been too great to ruin it all in fury.
Making his way out of the cave, Merlin blundered through the twisting passages; not at all sure of the route he was supposed to be taking. As the pair stumbled out into the well lit corridors beyond, the servant glanced down at himself and grimaced. He had no idea how long he had been in the cave for, but the amount of dirt covering his clothes made him wonder if it had been years. Running a hand distractedly through his hair, Merlin pulled a face when he felt the dirt settling in. What he would do for a good wash… yet somehow he didn’t believe that was top of Claton’s agenda.
“Return to the prince.” Smirking softly, Merlin couldn’t help but answer back. If he didn’t stop answering back for Arthur, there was no way he was going to stop for Claton.
"Hope you’re ready to die then, because he is going to kill me for what I said earlier. I thought you wanted him to think I was leaving."
“That was then,” the silky reply sounded automatically, causing Merlin to falter in his step. The tone of Claton’s voice made the warlock shudder; he obviously had something big planned. Cursing himself for not realising sooner there was no way the sorcerer would have really let Arthur escape unscathed considering their previous encounters, Merlin tried to resist Claton’s prod to get him moving again.
“I know you warned him somehow, boy. You’ve been getting far too cocky. Time to eliminate one problem.” Digging his heels in firmly, Merlin wondered whether Claton could feel his racing heart.
"I told you, I won’t let you harm him. Rid mihi illae malum presentia.” With a flash of his eyes, Merlin braced himself against his spell. He had hoped that directing it to rid him of Claton, it would have no effect on the warlock himself, only to be proven wrong when his feet suddenly left the ground and he was thrown backwards, sliding down the wall with a groan.
“Nice try. You can’t rid yourself of me, Merlin. Not until I see fit.”
“Occurro is malum presentia!” Merlin suddenly yelled, no longer caring who might possibly be around to hear him. Right, so he couldn’t get rid of Claton completely, but surely there was something he could do to restrict the sorcerer’s power? It was his body, after all. By the sudden cry of outrage as Claton tried to counteract the spell, Merlin let out a sigh of relief as the sorcerer’s presence dwindled. He could still feel him there, trying to regain his strength, but for the moment at least, it was Merlin who was fully in command.