Eight pairs of eyes stared at the dagger in Anwen’s hand, unable to stop admiring its cold beauty. Although as Merlin stared at it, he could feel its presence, almost as if the dagger was alive but he assumed it had something to do with the ruby embedded in the handle.
“Carublæd. It was given to me by Rhiannon, High Priestess after Kyna and I completed our final test on Bælial.”
“I’ve never seen it before.” Kyna remarked.
“Because I never believed I would have to use it.”
“What exactly does it do?” Lancelot asked suspiciously, he knew he was not going to like where this was going the moment she drew out that blade.
“It has been made few centuries ago when some of the Priests and Priestess objected that the blood sacrifice for Cailleach is done wrong. The ruby in the handle is enchanted to anchor the soul and keep it in the body.”
“But there is still the matter of blood sacrifice, remember? It requires large amount of blood to spilt in order for the Veil to be closed.” Merlin pointed out dryly.
“Well that’s the easy part. I will be the blood sacrifice.”
“What?!” Everyone but Kyna shouted in disbelief, eyes wide in shock.
“You can’t be serious!”“Do you have a death wish?”
“Did you know about this?” Gwaine’s question pierced through all the others as he eyed his beloved that stared in the fire, being unusually quiet.
“Anwen shared the plan with me two days ago before Merlin got injured.”
“And you said nothing?” Arthur asked angrily, the idea of his cousin bleeding to death was just as appealing as Merlin’s death.
Anwen felt her anger bubble up as they all once again started to protest and argue.
“Enough!” Anwen jumped to her feet, shocking them all into silence. “I dare each of you to look me in the eyes and tell me that you honestly believe you can survive that kind of blood loss.”
They all looked at each other and then at the floor.
“That is what I thought. I do not think of myself any higher than you. But I have magic to keep me alive from wounds most of you, except Merlin and Kyna, would succumb to in matter of minutes. And to be honest I am not looking forward to what is yet to come. The idea of pain alone makes me shiver. But I have to do it because it is my duty and because I will not watch any of you walking in the Veil. I refuse to give Cailleach any more souls. She has overstayed her welcome in this world.”
“You said the dagger anchors the soul and keeps it in the body. It doesn’t give us much reassurance about you surviving the wound like that.” Merlin remarked quietly.
“No but Kyna’s healing skills do.” Anwen smiled to her friend.
“I thought you said your magic is useless in Dorocha’s presence.” Leon pointed out.
“Once the Veil is closed, we will be able to use our magic properly again. I can heal her.” Kyna stated confidently.
“I don’t like it.” Arthur muttered, getting agreeing nods in reply.
“Well tough Arthur because we do not have any other options.” Anwen mumbled.
“She’s right Arthur.”
The prince looked at his long time manservant and friend with puzzling look, one Merlin has not seen yet.
“Will you keep her safe?”
The question echoed the castle ruins as two men stared at each other, and it was very clear to Merlin what Arthur was really asking now that his secret was out. It was not just about Anwen. It was about whether Arthur can truly trust his friend never to betray him.
“As if you really need to ask that, you prat. Of course I will keep her safe.” Merlin replied in his usual chipper tone that made them all smile.
“When we get back to Camelot, you and I need to have a talk. Long talk.”
Merlin swallowed hard but smiled nevertheless.
“Good. Now…we should get some sleep. Long journey ahead of us tomorrow.” Anwen clapped Merlin on his shoulder before moving over to the bedroll she shared with Lancelot.
“I do not like your idea.” Lancelot whispered in her ear once they were lying down, face to face.
“You think I do? I am terrified Lancelot. When Rhiannon gave me Carublæd and explained me its origin and ritual that must be performed, I never imagined I would ever have to use it. I always believed it was something that should be learned and then one day passed on to my children.”
“Do you really believe you can survive that sort of wound? The thought of losing you is too much for me to even imagine.” He shuddered as he spoke.
“Yes, I believe it with all my heart. If I don’t, then I am as good as dead.”
“Then you will not mind giving me an answer to a question.”
Her eyes narrowed at his suddenly unreadable face expression.
“Well let’s hear it and then I will see if I can give you an answer.”
“When this is all over and we are back in Camelot, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?”
Her eyes widened in almost comical manner and she was certain she heard Merlin chuckle a bit from where he was lying on the bed roll, her old friend obviously amused to hear her rendered speechless. At first, her mouth opened and closed several times with no sound coming out but then drew in a deep breath and looked in his brown eyes.
“I would be delighted to be your wife. I just hope you are not planning to have the wedding soon.”
“I am prepared to wait as long as it takes. I just wanted to have the answer and a promise you will survive.”
“I will. Now sleep…my loving soul.”
The Isle of the Blessed was once revered as one of the most beautiful places that were also focus of the magic itself. Now it stood in utter ruin, draped in darkness, cold air and screams of the dead. The brave group of nine souls listened to the echoes of their footsteps as they walked to centre of the Isle where the altar and the tear in the Veil were located.
With his secret revealed, Merlin easily ordered the wyverns to leave much to the astonishment of Arthur and the knights. He just vaguely offered the explanation that wyverns were distant cousins of the dragons with tint of sadness in his eyes that struck Arthur’s heart harder than he would have ever imagined.
“It is not often that we have visitors.”
Their eyes narrowed on the old woman in dark robes that stood in front of the stone, weather worn altar, with Dorocha coming in and out of the veil as it pleased them, bringing more innocent souls with them every time.
“Put an end to this. I demand that you heal the tear between two worlds.” Arthur demanded.
“It was not I who created this horror. Why should be I who stops is?”
“Because innocent people are dying.” Merlin rasped out.
“Indeed Emrys.” Cailleach replied nonchalantly and started laughing maniacally.
“Enough of this cackling and insanity. You do yourself disservice by doing so my lady.” Anwen snapped angrily, slowly making her way over to the altar with Kyna right behind her.
“Do you even know to whom you speak child?” Cailleach asked Anwen seriously and angrily.
“I speak to Cailleach, the gatekeeper of the spirit world and kin to Mother Goddess. And you dishonour her madam, by taking more than you agreed to take. And I, as Priestess of the Old Religion that is also your most humble servant, have it in my power to demand that you heal the Veil.”
No one has heard Anwen speak so firmly, with solemn tone that invoked respect from everyone currently present on the Isle.
“You have it within your right indeed, future queen of the Forest of the Sun. The Veil however, cannot be closed without the blood sacrifice.”
“And you shall have my blood. But that is all I shall give you madam for my soul is not yet yours to take.”
“And how do you think you can manage that young one?” Cailleach studied the blonde that stood opposite to her now with interest.
Anwen reached for the blood red sheath that was now clipped to her sword belt and withdrew Carublæd for Cailleach to see; and by the looks of things, she did not seem happy to see it. Rightfully so.
“I believe you recognize this. Our ancestors forged it in blood and fire and magic.”
“I remember it well, for it was forged on the Eve of Samhain. Perform the ritual quickly and pray that your friend can save you once I am gone.” Cailleach said and in a slow pace walked over to the tear. “You showed extreme courage today young one. It only proves that the prophecy about you is true. Emrys indeed has a powerful sister in you.”
Unfazed by Cailleach’s statement, Anwen climbed the altar with shaky breath and handed the dagger to Kyna who seemed to be as terrified as she was.
“It will be fine. Once the Dorocha is gone, you can heal me. I know you can.” Anwen assured her best friend before closing her eyes and praying for Kyna to be done with it quickly.
Kyna took in a deep breath and closed her eyes, before speaking the spell in her mind after which her eyes glowed gold and with speed of lightening buried the Carublæd in Anwen’s stomach. Four things happened at the same time.
Anwen’s pained breath escaped her lips, the ruby in the Carublæd’s handle glowed bright red, Cailleach disappeared along with the tear in the Veil and the throne which king Galen currently sat upon shook and the light it projected shimmered.