The visitor was a young girl, about ten years old. Her daemon was a small kitten lying in her arms. She was trembling from head to toe as Arthur came forward with Midnight at his heels. Arthur took his seat at the throne with Midnight at his right and Merlin and Alith at his left. Alith had shifted into an ermine for politeness and was wrapped around Merlin's neck. Merlin's eyes flicked from the girl to the king and back again. Alith could sense his uneasiness and her tail swished backwards and forwards across Merlin's back.
"Speak," Arthur commanded, his voice ringing through the chamber.
"I..we..she," stammered the girl, terrified out of her wits.
Arthur stood up, walking towards the young girl. "Slow down," he started. "What's your name?"
"Anya," she replied.
"Alright Anya," Arthur said gently, "what's your daemon's name?"
"Makros" Anya replied. Arthur's gentle tones had worked wonders on the young girl. She was no longer shaking all over and had lost her stutter.
"Right Anya, start from the beginning, what happened?" Arthur questioned.
Anya began her tale. "Morgana, she attacked our village. She brought a whole army with her and just destroyed everything in her path. But there was something else as well. One of the men in the village knew where an object was hidden. It was said to be the key to the other world. They killed him though. Morgana was furious when she found out. She's out there now looking for it." At this moment, Anya wracked into sobs. "She killed my parents. My mother, my father, my brother..," Anya broke off completely as she dissolved into tears. Makros rubbed against her, trying to cheer his mistress up.
"Arthur knelt down beside the little grirl. "Thank you," he said sincerely. Standing up he turned to Percival. "Make sure she gets rest and good food. Let her have one of the guest chambers."
Percival nodded and he and his damon, a leopard named Salahk, walked forward to comfort Anya.
"So." Merlin began once they were back in Arthur's chambers, "what are we going to do?"
Midnight growled at Merlin as if he was annoyed at hm. Most of the time that was what it meant.
Arthur looked up suprised at the question. "Do? We're going to find that key."
Midnight rolled her eyes at Alith. Alith stuck her tounge out. Midnight was still jealous of Alith due to her ability to change forms while she was stuck as a panther. Midnight loved any chance to crow over her.Alith was a lynx right now and sitting by Merlin's feet.
"How do you know if it is the key to the other world?" Merlin asked raising an eyebrow.
"We don't," Arthur replied, "but whatever it is, it must be something pretty important if Morgana wants it so badly."
Merlin sighed and pulled out a leather bag. Alith lay down beside him as he started yanking clothes out of the wardrobe and packing them in the bag.
Arthur looked up,confused. Midnight had a frown on her face. "What are you doing?"
Merlin didn't stop. "Packing."
"What for?" Arthur asked.
Merlin gave him a look suggesting Arthur was stupid. "For the big quest that I know is going to follow."
Alith smiled at Midnight who scowled back.
Arthur smirked at Merlin. "Thank you Merlin for reminding me. Now once you've done that go tell the other knights to pack up and alert the court that we will be leaving at dawn tomorrow with Sir Leon, Sir Elyan, Sir Percival and Sir Gwaine."
Merlin groaned and slouched off towards the door. Midnight could not resist snapping at Alith's tail as she went by. Alith spun round hissing, her fur standing on end.
"Come on Alith," Merlin called. With one last snarl at Midnight, Alith ran to her master.