“We need some wood and horses need to be watered.” Arthur stated when they stopped their journey to the Isle of the Blessed.
Merlin of course immediately went to get the wood, not wishing to be present for Anwen’s lecture session. Arthur grimaced the moment he spotted his cousin narrow gaze on him. After hours of deathly silence, it seemed he was in for lecture. Not that he thought he deserved it, considering his decision to leave on the quest whilst she was still unconscious. He was surprised though when she approached him and started talking in eerily calm voice. In his opinion, that was much worse that shouting.
“Do you have so low opinion of yourself that you are willing to just walk into your death?”
“Then please explain your decision to leave me behind even after Kyna and Gaius insisted to wait for me to wake up.”
“When will you learn to think before you act? You think I will just let you to walk in the Veil?”
“You are not taking my place.” Arthur stated firmly with impassive face.
“Never said I am. I actually quite like the way I live my life, thank you very much.”
“Then what is it?” Arthur snapped angrily, he really hated when Anwen played mystery games on him and he definitely was not in the mood.
“I will tell you when we get closer to the Isle. I will not have my decisions questioned by you or anyone else.”
“I love you very much cousin but there are things I still choose to keep to myself. And I admire your determination to rectify what your sister has done to save your people; it is my duty as Priestess of the Old Religion to heal the Veil. As is Kyna’s. Now if you excuse me…I need to speak with Kyna.”
She did not let him say anything else as she stalked off to where Kyna was talking to Gwaine and he could see her motioning for Gwaine to give the two ladies some privacy. He truly understood and respected her position as Priestess of the Old Religion. But no matter what she had in mind, he was not going to agree. This was his mission and no one else’s.
Anwen did not like the feeling the ruins of the once great now ruined citadel of Daobeth was offering. It was dark and quite cold, despite the warmth the fire they were gathered around offered.
There was this feeling of foreboding that grew its roots at the pit of her stomach and was keeping a tight grip. After their little conversation, Kyna remained silent through most of the journey, remaining at Gwaine’s side all the time. Anwen on the other hand kept switching between other knights. Despite his usual silence, Percival was in fact enjoyable person to talk to.
“The last one.” Gwaine broke them all out of their respective reveries and inner soliloquies. “Maybe we should draw lots. See who gets some more.”
“You’ll need help.”
“I’ll go with him.”
“You sure you’re the right person?”
“Since when have you known how to collect firewood?” Merlin asked teasingly, resulting in whole group letting out some chuckles.
Even now, with death breathing down their necks, trust Merlin to make a joke out of it. Anwen gave him a short look before he wondered off with Arthur and her eyes flashed gold to strengthen the fire. As the minutes trickled away, that feeling of foreboding strengthened because Arthur and Merlin were nowhere in sight.
“I am not waiting a moment longer.” Anwen declared, grabbing a torch and walking off to find Arthur and Merlin; leaving others with no choice but to follow.
The chill and the screams of the dead made them all jumpy and scared although no one would admit that out loud.
‘Where are they?’ Anwen thought to herself as they traipsed around the ruins of Daobeth, with Dorocha getting increasingly loud.
Arthur’s fearful shout made her blood run cold as they all turned towards the room the shout came from. They burst in the room and chased the spirit away but Anwen felt her heart stop and the torch fell from her hand at the sight of Merlin slumped in the far end of the room, even from where she was standing; she could see the frost on him.
“What happened?” Lancelot, the ever clear headed one, asked; approaching Arthur and Merlin.
“No…” Kyna’s quite murmur sounded like a shout in the deadly silent room as Arthur turned Merlin over only to gasp at the sight of his frozen friend whose always vividly blue eyes were dull and held almost no flicker of life in them.
“Merlin you idiot…” Arthur whispered quietly with a shaky voice.
Snapping out of her stupefied position, Anwen crossed the room in three long strides and with shaky hand reached out to Merlin’s neck. She suppressed a hiss at how icy cold his skin was and with batted breath searched for the impossible. Those few seconds seemed like a lifetime but suddenly, her fingers felt faint pulse thrumming beneath her touch. She let out a shaky chuckle, earning confused gazes from everyone in the room.
“What is it?” Gwaine asked, this was probably his most desperate and pained face she has ever seen on him.
“He’s alive. Barely.”
The room echoed with collective sighs of relief.
“Percival, he needs warmth. Could you please get him to the fire?” Kyna cut in softly and the tall knight immediately leaned down, picked up Merlin like he weighed nothing and walked out with everyone following.
Well…almost everyone. Arthur remained kneeling where he was, even in the dark Anwen could see that his eyes were shining with unshed tears. Two of them remained like that for few moments, soundlessly staring at each other. It was in those moments of their staring that Anwen realized that Arthur finally knew. He knew the truth about the young man that just survived the impossible. And she knew it was impossible to deny it any longer. All she could hope for is that he would not react as impulsively as Pendragons tended to do.