Chapter 9: A Broken Promise
"Merlin, you've been glued to that window sill for an awful long time. What has gotten you so captivated?" Gaius said as he put away the last of the cooking utensils. Merlin sighed and appeared to be lost in thought. He had taken up a chair by the window after breakfast and Arthur had left the room to go about his business. The recovering warlock was dressed in a loose-fitting tan-colored tunic and brown pants. A blanket spread across his shoulders and his head was still swathed with white bandages.
"What's on your mind, boy?" Gaius asked when he didn't get a reply from Merlin.
"Ever wonder how beautiful everything is under a coat of snow? The snow covers up all the flaws of the earth. It makes everything seem so pure and innocent." Merlin said gloomily without turning away from the window. "It's the only time the land looks perfect from every angle. Everything is so serene and new. You don't see the madness or chaos that lies beneath it. The snow buries it all. There is no survival of the fittest. No anguish. No deception. No violence. No suffering. I wish it could always be like this."
"What a statement indeed! It brings me to question if we're even talking about snow at all." Gaius made his way over to Merlin and glanced out the window. He placed a hand on Merlin's shoulder gently. "The snow will melt away and everyone will have to face reality at some point. It's like a masquerade party. Everyone hides behind a mask. But at the end of the night, the masks come off and we see everyone in their true form."
Merlin was hypnotized by the falling snowflakes drifting in whichever way the wind took them. He wished he was that snowflake. He was tired of pretending and always having to be one step ahead of the game. Merlin felt it would be nice to let the wind be his guidance for a change and to allow the wind to decide his fate. He just wanted to be a normal person with normal responsibilities.
"Remember Merlin, there are quite a few people here in Camelot who care about you a great deal. This is a better place because you're in it." Gaius reminded thoughtfully.
"I'm sorry for what I said last night." Merlin mumbled. "I didn't mean it." He sighed, hoping it was convincing enough for Gaius.
"I know you didn't." Gaius replied patiently. "It was only out of desperation."
"I-I was feeling too much." Merlin said. "I still feel…overwhelmed."
"It's so right you should. Need I remind you again, you've stepped into the crossfire between Badon's men. You had a clash with a powerful sorcerer and escaped a ferocious gargoyle. You almost paid with your life – but you survived. Not many have endured what you have endured all in a single day." Gaius said. "If it were me, I certainly would be overwhelmed."
"You keep telling me that I'm the only one who can destroy Blais." Merlin blurted. His voice was cold and empty. "Perhaps you've got it all wrong. Perhaps I'm not the all-powerful warlock that you think I am."
"Merlin, you are more powerful than you are letting on. You doubt yourself."
Merlin's eyes narrowed as his gaze followed the journey of a huge snowflake. "You keep saying I'm so powerful. I don't know what you see that I don't. There are some things that I can do…and many more that I know I can't do. I may have been born with this rare gift but there are limitations." He rambled.
"You've always relied on magic to get you out of tight spots. I don't need to remind you of all the times you've done that." Gaius hinted. "What you see as a basic defense mechanism will eventually become an instrument of influence."
"Magic comes to me as second-nature. I don't have to think too hard to do it. It just happens. I was only able to defeat Nimueh because she got careless and ahead of herself. I'm not so sure Blais would make the same mistakes."
"So, you're saying you just got lucky when Nimueh met her doom." Gaius said.
"Well, I wouldn't exactly put it that way." Merlin retorted. "I only caught her off guard."
"I think you did more than that." Gaius corrected.
"I had to do something. I couldn't just stand by and let her kill you." Merlin stammered. He hated to think that someone had the power to take Gaius away from him.
"Your determination and anger gave you the power to do what you did. You've always had it in you." Gaius said wisely.
Merlin let out a depressed sigh. He remembered a time when it was cool to have the abilities to do things no one else could. His magic was a part of him and made him special. It never dawned on him that his magic would someday be needed to fight evil sorcerers and ruthless witches. It was something young Merlin was not prepared to do. And life suddenly became more complicated with the destiny that he was supposed to fulfill. Running around playing Arthur's guardian angel was not as easy as it seemed. It was a 24 hour job. There were constant threats being made against the crowned prince and well, being Arthur's servant wasn't exactly a piece of cake either. Sure, Merlin had doubts about his power all the time. He didn't always feel powerful. He felt like any normal boy his age. It was only Gaius who had so much faith and often times saw so much in him.
"Perhaps you will get back to bed now? You'll feel better after a nap. Besides, it's time for your medicine." Gaius said. Merlin obeyed and allowed Gaius to help him to bed. He did not complain at the bitterness of the medicine. Instead, he finished the vial in four big gulps.
"Would it be too much to ask you to stay? Well, for a while." Merlin mumbled. His big glassy saucer eyes made him look vulnerable. Gaius realized Merlin had been requesting his presence quite a few times. But he understood Merlin's need to feel safe.
"If it would please you." Gaius replied with a smile.
"Don't think that I'm a baby, just because I want you to stay. I'm not afraid of anything. Well, not afraid of all things…just certain things." Merlin murmured.
"Merlin, I never questioned your courage." Gaius interjected. "You don't need to explain yourself."
Merlin drew the blankets up to his chin. He watched Gaius dart to and from the shelves looking for jars of specific roots and fungi. It was interesting to observe Gaius at work. Gaius was a meticulous person and believed a great deal in science. There was so much knowledge in his head that it often amazed Merlin. Gaius began measuring and array of powders and liquids with a scale then combining the ingredients together. After a while, Merlin's eyes became tired of following the old physician milling around the room. He closed them and drifted off into sleep.
Merlin innocently slept the day away. Perhaps it was the strong medicine or his weak condition that rendered him into such a deep and long sleep. He didn't wake until much later that night. In fact, he woke to a rather odd sensation. There was something weighing down on him. It wasn't extremely heavy, but it was enough to make a noticeable difference. He didn't remember feeling like this when he initially fell asleep. He concluded that it wasn't a bad feeling. This thing, whatever it was, made him warm and comfortable. Cozy. He inhaled deeply and a soft, furry fiber tickled his nose.
The first thing Merlin noticed when he opened his eyes was the darkness of the room. Light only came from a lantern at the table and the glowing embers of the fireplace. He waited for his eyes to adjust to the light. He was curious to know what was causing the heavy thing that someone had placed on him. Merlin looked down to find an enormous brown and black sable fur throw spread across the top of his usual blanket. It covered nearly the entire area of the bed, making Merlin seem like he was drowning in a sea of blankets. The fur was plush and soft as silk. Not only was it precious to look at, it provided such luxurious warmth. Never had Merlin ever seen or used anything so delicate and expensive in all his life. It was something that kings and queens used not poor servants. He wondered where it came from and what it was doing there.
"Gaius?" Merlin stammered as he emerged from the blankets.
"My dear boy, you are awake finally. We were beginning to worry. It's not like you to miss both lunch and dinner." Gaius said as he moved over to the empty chair by Merlin's bed. He seemed to be in a chipper mood. Merlin tried to stretch but in doing so, strained a tense muscle in his lower back causing him to cry out in pain. Lying in the same position too long would do that to a person.
"Take it easy now. You don't want to make things worse." Gaius coached. "Is it your back? Alright, just relax it." He continued as he massaged Merlin's lower back to get the muscle to loosen up.
"Thank you Gaius. Oh, that really hurts." Merlin breathed a quivering breath. "What time is it? Why is it so dark outside?"
"That's because it's late. Everyone's gone to bed. Don't you realize that you've been asleep since this morning? You gave me quite a fright. I figured you'd be tired, but I didn't expect you to sleep the entire day."
"Really? How odd. Though, I don't find sleep comforting at all. Plagued with the weirdest dreams." Merlin admitted. The one thing that he could always count on was Gaius. He could be completely honest with him and not be judged. He told the old physician just about everything, well, almost everything.
"I'll give you a tonic for it. I've been working on a new herbal blend." Gaius began but only to be interrupted by Merlin.
"There's no escape from these dreams. They're not your typical nightmares. I think something has to happen before they can go away permanently. I've sort of gotten used to them." Merlin interjected. His voice was soft but direct. He was so sure of himself.
"We'll see what we can do." Gaius said, still trying to be optimistic.
"Gaius, where did this come from?" Merlin asked pertaining to the exquisite fur that surrounded him.
"Oh, that. It belongs to Arthur." Gaius answered.
"Figured you could use it," Arthur said from where he sat at the table. He did not look up from the thick book that he was reading.
Merlin turned his head towards the sound of Arthur's voice. He didn't think the prince would be in the room, especially since it was already so late in the evening. But he was glad that he stopped himself before saying anything else that could jeopardize his secret. Merlin wondered why Arthur was spending his free time in the servant's quarters when he could be making himself useful doing some other princely activities. Merlin was surprised and, at the same time, touched to find Arthur spending so much time by his beside. Though, what surprised Merlin even more was that Arthur was reading a book. Arthur was a man of action, not so much the type who would pick up a book on a whim.
"Why?" Merlin asked innocently. Arthur had been extremely generous for the last few days. He may have provided better living conditions and healthier foods but letting the servant use this special blanket was going too far. Merlin felt incredibly guilty sharing in the prince's possessions already and could not ask for more.
"You were sick." Arthur replied, still not lifting his eyes from the page in the book.
"I was sick?" Merlin questioned in surprise.
"I'll say." Arthur said. "You certainly didn't look well to me. Ask Gaius."
"You had a terrible case of the chills and were trembling quite fierce as you slept. No matter how many blankets I put on you or how many logs I threw into the fire, you couldn't stop shaking. So, Arthur brought over his fur throw and it did the trick. You've been sleeping soundly for the last few hours." Gaius explained.
"But – but I feel fine." Merlin said. He tried to remember feeling cold, but his memory drew a blank.
"Of course you feel fine now, you idiot. You've been asleep for the whole day." Arthur taunted. He appeared to be his usual grumpy self.
Feeling a bit dumbfounded at the news and not really in the mood to give Arthur a wise reply, Merlin looked down at blanket and studied the beautiful design on the fur.
"I've never seen this before." Merlin said in awe. "And I'm sure I know what's in your entire closet."
"That's because it's new. It only arrived last week. It was a gift from the Duchess of Camden. I haven't even had the pleasure of using it yet." Arthur said. His voice sounded cold but deep down inside, he was relieved that Merlin was alright.
"Arthur, you really shouldn't have done…" Merlin began but only to be interrupted by Arthur.
"I don't take orders from you last I checked. So you can't tell me what I should and shouldn't do. I make my own decisions and I dare anyone who challenges it." Arthur scolded. His facial features softened. "It's real sable fur, mind you, which means it's very expensive. So you'd better keep it in good condition. I'm going to want it back when you're done borrowing it."
"Don't take it the wrong way. It's just that I'm not used to this special treatment. You are very kind. Er…I dunno what else to say, except thank you, Sire." Merlin stammered. Arthur waved it off as nothing, but a short grin formed on his lips.
"I imagine you should be hungry." Gaius spoke to Merlin. "I've kept a pot of rabbit stew warming over the fire for you."
"Come to think on it, I am a bit hungry." Merlin said.
He swung his legs over the side of the bed and helped himself up. On his way over to the table, he stumbled on his first few steps, losing his balance but steadied his footing shortly. Merlin's faltered steps gave Arthur and Gaius a nervous start. Gaius, who was the closest to Merlin, reached out his hand to help but Merlin had already regained his posture.
"I haven't eaten anything all day. I should be entitled to be a little weak." Merlin explained when he felt the weight of Arthur's curious eyes following him. The color came back to his cheeks after he sat down opposite Arthur at the table. Seeing that the clumsy servant could do no more harm to himself, Gaius devoted his attention to the pot simmering in the hearth, stirring its contents occasionally.
"Seriously Merlin, you ought to take care." Arthur puffed. His eyes went back to the book that he was reading. "You know Gaius, this is a truly fascinating book. It's a wonder why I hadn't found it earlier." He beamed.
"Oh, I'm glad it is to your liking." Gaius chuckled. "There is a wonderful chapter on the uses of wormwood in the back. It describes the unique qualities and secret remedies that very few know about. Why don't you take it with you and finish it?" He continued enthusiastically like as if they had hit upon some sort of common ground.
"I should like that very much." Arthur replied.
Merlin marveled at the conversation between prince and physician. As far as Merlin was concerned, Arthur did not read books unless there was a need to. For Arthur to rave about a book was new to Merlin. Of course, Merlin hadn't known Arthur forever, but he more or less had a rough image on the prince's likes and dislikes. Arthur liked a good challenging workout with his best knights. He was quite experienced with the mace, but needed a little work on the javelin. The sword was always the weapon of choice. Arthur also enjoyed a quiet game of chess from time to time with his father or sometimes, with Morgana. Merlin couldn't recall a time when Arthur read a book for pleasure. From the looks of the worn binding and yellowing pages, Merlin guessed it to be one of Gaius' really old books.
"What book is that?" Merlin finally asked. Arthur lifted the book so Merlin could see the title. Merlin half expected to see something related to fighting or strategy, but instead it was a medicinal book.
"One Hundred and One Ways to Cure Ailments Using Exotic Plants and Roots." Merlin read the gold lettering. He gave Arthur a bemused look.
"You should read this. It's better than the title sounds. There are facts about all sorts of roots that I didn't even know existed. Some of them cure the simplest things like a rash or an ear infection." Arthur said. "There are things in here that could save your life one day."
"It doesn't seem like you to read this sort of thing." Merlin pointed out.
"Indeed not. I didn't expect you to be sleeping for so long. To pass the time, I thought I'd browse through Gaius' book collection. And well, I came across this book." Arthur said as he folded the edge of the page to keep his place.
"You were waiting up for me?" Merlin asked innocently. He was ever so grateful to have a friend in Arthur.
"I was." Arthur admitted in a soft, rather shy tone.
"Something smells divine, Gaius." Merlin said referring to the thick aroma of stew wafting through the room. He was sure Arthur felt relieved when the subject was changed. Arthur was never one to show affection in so many words. The things he did often spoke for his character.
"Here you are." Gaius placed a heaping bowl full of rabbit stew in front of him. "Now Merlin, I expect you to finish every last morsel in this bowl."
Merlin's eyes widened at the scrumptious meal. He was so hungry at the sight of food that he could barely contain himself. Merlin didn't get to eat meat often. Only people of nobility and wealthy status, like kings and queens, had the pleasure of eating meats on a daily basis. Being a peasant, eating any sort of meat was considered a luxury and available only on rare occasions. Vegetables and fish made up most of Merlin's diet.
"I think you'll like it. It's Mrs. Mattie's special recipe." Arthur said while closing the book.
"It's been a while since I had rabbit, well, a long while." Merlin said with spoon in hand. "Would you like some more?"
"I think I'll pass. It's really late and besides, I already had two helpings for dinner myself." Arthur replied. "Come on then, dig in." He added when he saw Merlin staring at him like as if he was waiting for permission from his master to eat.
Merlin grinned and attacked the bowl without hesitation. His face was practically buried in the bowl as he chomped and swallowed greedily. A slightly trembling hand held the spoon tightly as he scooped the contents into his mouth. Arthur watched the hungry servant lick the top and bottom of the spoon clean before taking up the next spoonful. He'd never seen Merlin like this before. It was a big difference from earlier that morning when Merlin could barely finish a slice of ham. Merlin was so distracted by the stew that he didn't realize Arthur was staring at him.
"Merlin, slow it down. For Heaven's sake, you're lapping it up like a dog." Arthur said. Merlin looked up and wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt. "There's more stew in the pot, you know. In fact, even if you finished the entire pot at one sitting, I can get you more from the kitchen. Just take it easy."
"Arthur is right. Chew the food." Gaius said and took a seat next to the young warlock.
Merlin's wide eyes followed the small basket filled with white bread that Gaius placed on the table. Only the upper class and nobility had the privilege of white bread. People of the lower classes made do with rye or coarse barley bread. Merlin had seen white bread served at banquets and in many of Arthur's lunches. Though he can't remember a time when he actually tasted it himself. It never occurred to him that Gaius fed him white bread only a few days ago, but he was too delirious at the time to realize it. Merlin wondered if the bread was his for the taking.
"Go ahead, Merlin. The bread is not sitting there for display. It's meant to be eaten." Arthur said.
Merlin reached for a wedge of bread. He didn't think the small tremors in his hand were noticeable, but Arthur missed nothing. When Merlin realized Arthur was staring at his hands, he quickly made himself busy, hoping Arthur would look somewhere else. Merlin acted like nothing was out of the ordinary.
"Mmm, this is so good." Merlin commented with a mouthful of bread.
"Really? It just seemed average to me." Arthur replied.
"That's because you eat this often. It's not every day I get white bread." Merlin said. "It's the most delicious thing I've ever tasted."
Arthur gave Merlin a quizzical glance. He thought it strange that Merlin should thoroughly enjoy bread so much. It was just bread after all. But perhaps this was one of the things Arthur took for granted. He had this same old "average" bread every day. He never realized how fortunate he was to have white bread. There are people out there who've never even tasted it.
"Have some more." Arthur pushed the basket of bread closer to Merlin, encouraging his servant to take as much as he pleased.
"I will. Thanks, my Lord." Merlin dipped his head slightly. Merlin used the bread to soak up the sauce of the stew before putting it into his mouth. Arthur thought it was an interesting method of eating. Gaius occupied himself with a knife and sack of ginger root at the table. The old physician was always busy with something. Medicines needed to be prepared and stocked on a daily basis for any kind of ailment. Soon, the spicy scent of freshly peeled ginger filled the air.
When Merlin finally reached the bottom of the bowl, he licked his fingers clean. Gaius asked him if he wanted more, but Merlin declined. The portion was more than he ever had in one night. It was the tastiest meal he had in a long time. No offense to Gaius, who could manage to throw a few ingredients together to make vegetable soup and grill a trout to perfection. Gaius' strength was, of course, in medicines not the kitchen. So naturally, Merlin had to eat whatever was sent forth on the table.
"And tomorrow's dinner is going to be braised lamb." Arthur said with a merry ring in his tone. "The kitchen messengers will deliver some to you in the evening."
"That sounds wonderful but I'm fine with what I have. The rabbit stew was the best I've had in years. There is still so much left – enough to feed five people at least. I can't let it all go to waste. Gaius and I'll eat it for tomorrow's supper. It's good enough." Merlin said humbly.
"No." Arthur replied nonchalantly. He didn't feel like he, being the prince, needed to explain any further.
"I beg your pardon?" Merlin asked.
"Are you deaf? I said no. Gaius said needed protein in your diet. There really is no sense in arguing with me. Whatever I say, goes. It doesn't matter what you think." Arthur said. "Look Merlin, I know I haven't exactly been the most pleasant person to be around. I may have been pretentious."
"And a prat." Merlin added with a mischievous grin.
"Don't push it." Arthur warned. "You're a good servant, Merlin, despite your clumsiness and tendency to be tardy….and often experience problems following my orders, never do as you're told, and always giving your opinion when I didn't ask for it…." He stopped suddenly when he realized he was babbling. "The point is, even with all your flaws, I'm glad to have you as….as a friend."
"Oh." Merlin said, semi-surprised. "Well, it's likewise….flawed as we are." He added with a humorous grin.
"Er, you more so than me." Arthur said, always having the last word. And the boys burst out into laughter.
Gaius couldn't help but smile at the boys being boys. He liked hearing laughter in the room. It's been a while since he heard that comforting sound. Satisfied, he continued peeling ginger root in silence. Thereafter, the conversation between prince and servant turned into conversation between friend and friend. Arthur told Merlin about Morgana and Gwen dropping by earlier that evening. They stayed for about an hour and Gwen left some flowers, which were now in a clay vase by the window, and that Morgana helped change Merlin's bandages again. As Arthur told Merlin this, the young warlock blushed deeply. Merlin asked about the status between Badon and Uther. Arthur replied that a peace talk was very much in the works and that a war would be averted. Arthur's cheerfulness suddenly dissolved. Something was troubling the fair-haired prince and Merlin read it. Before Merlin could inquire, Arthur spoke.
"Merlin, I must go to Gorgon." Arthur revealed.
"Gorgon? But to get there, you have to go through…" Merlin's heartbeat hammered against his chest and a sudden chill ran down his spine.
"The Kayas." Arthur finished Merlin's sentence. At this moment, even Gaius stopped what he was doing and looked up.
"No Arthur. You mustn't go there. The dreams were very specific. You can't go there." Merlin cried.
"I don't have a choice. Father has sent me. I am to meet with King Cassius of Gorgon and give him a letter that father has written." Arthur explained.
"A letter? Why couldn't he send a messenger? Isn't that whole point of a messenger – is to deliver a message? You're a prince. Princes don't deliver messages." Merlin's voice squeaked.
"You don't understand. It has to be me. Before Badon wagered war against us, King Cassius came to Camelot for a visit. You might remember him – he's the tall fellow with the mustache that curled up at the ends." Arthur said. Merlin nodded.
"Father and Cassius are allies. They knew about Badon's capricious behavior towards union and peace. And that a conflict would sooner or later erupt. Father made a secret pact with Cassius that if it came to war, Camelot and Gorgon would unite. Badon employed a group of spies to get inside information. We've already caught and executed a dozen of them. We think we've got all of them but no one can be sure." Arthur told. He couldn't believe he was telling Merlin the secrets of the high court.
"Badon doesn't know anything about Cassius' intention to team with us. And we preferred it kept that way. We had to be extremely diligent in our communications with Cassius, for fear of the plan being compromised. We smuggled our correspondence with the trade, but the trade wagon only entered Gorgon once every two weeks. Meanwhile, Cassius prepared his army and as soon as we sent word that a war is on, they would attack Badon from the North." Arthur continued. Merlin listened intently.
"Messengers between Camelot and Gorgon could not be trusted. If our letters fell into the wrong hands, let's just say, it would not be a good thing. Father decided that if he had any immediate news to relay, I would be sent to deliver the message in person. It's the only way to ensure there are no spies. The last trade wagon left five days ago. Father could not wait another two weeks for the next trade wagon. And so, I must go."
"Arthur, there must be another way." Merlin pleaded. "You will be killed in The Kayas. I'll go. Let me take your place! I can be trusted to deliver the message."
"Don't be absurd. Father is very strict about these orders. I am to go alone. It's the only way I can make it there without being noticed. It would draw too much attention if I went with an entourage."
"I beg you, Arthur. Do not go. Blais has something terrible in store for you. You have to believe me. You promised me you would not go there." There were tears in the back of Merlin's eyes.
"Don't worry! I'll be fine." Arthur said confidently. "Llamrei is a fast mare. She's as swift as the wind and will bring me back to Camelot in record time."
"Sire, you might want to rethink this journey." Gaius said.
"Perhaps you're overreacting. Maybe the dreams were just dreams." Arthur faced Merlin. "You've been through a great deal, Merlin. It wouldn't be so unusual for you to have nightmares as a result of the trauma, would it?"
"It sounds crazy but I know what's real. I've never felt so strongly about anything before." Merlin said in defense. "You can't go there."
"Don't you think I want to believe you? Picture yourself in my position. I can't go to father and tell him that I won't be going to Gorgon because my servant had a dream that I'll be killed when I pass through The Kayas. Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? If The Kayas won't kill me first, my father will." Arthur raised his voice.
"When do you have to leave?" Merlin asked.
"The day after tomorrow." Arthur replied, feeling torn.
He trusted Merlin with his life, but he had to admit that there were doubts about the warning that came in Merlin's dream. On one hand, it spooked him to see how hysterical and sure Merlin was about this thing in particular. And on the other hand, it was far-fetched. Merlin was just an ordinary boy, nothing but a lowly servant. Why should any important premonitions come to him?
"I'll go with you." Merlin insisted firmly. "If you must go, at least you won't be alone. Besides, I don't think it's breaking the rules. There is nothing abnormal about a prince traveling with the aide of his servant. I'm sure King Cassius won't think it suspicious."
"No you won't. Look at you Merlin. You can barely stand on your feet. You're in no condition to travel. Even if you were, I wouldn't let you go. Have you forgotten about the amulet?" Arthur said.
"There is that." Gaius pointed out.
"I don't care!" Merlin blurted. He was getting flustered.
"But I DO!" Arthur hollered back and pounded a fist upon the table. He could hardly believe what just came out of his mouth. Did he actually admit out loud that he cared about Merlin? Merlin stared at Arthur with cold, hard eyes, trying desperately to hold back tears.
"The only thing keeping that gargoyle away from you is the amulet. As long as you stay within Camelot limits, you are under the protection of the amulet. Once out of Camelot, the gargoyle will come after you the first chance it gets. I – I can't let that happen. You can't leave Camelot." Arthur said.
"My life is only a small price to pay for the future of Camelot. It's my duty to keep you safe."
"I don't need saving from anything. I'm a champion swordsman, mind you. Nothing can get past me. 'Sides, how would you protect me? You don't even know the first thing on holding a sword. You'll just get in the way…if a fight should erupt." The prince taunted.
"You don't understand." Merlin shook his head.
I may not be handy with a sword or any other weapon, but there are ways that I can keep harm from touching you. You don't know what I'm capable of. If only I could tell you my secret. Merlin thought miserably.
Gaius wanted to intervene and convince Arthur that going to Gorgon was a bad idea. But he understood the reasoning behind it. Arthur couldn't go to Uther and tell him the real reason for refusing to make the trip. Gaius felt the only way Arthur could be safe was if Merlin accompanied him. But that would mean Merlin stepping out of Camelot and into the claws of the ferocious gargoyle, which Merlin may or may not be able to defeat in his current condition. He was in no shape for battle.
Gaius needed more time to find a way to reverse the spell. It would be close to impossible to filter out a vast amount of information in just one day. He believed every word Merlin said about the dreams. But this was only because he knew Merlin's secret. Arthur was walking into some sort of danger and there was nothing to be done. The selfish side of Gaius wanted Merlin to stay in Camelot and be protected by the amulet. He loved Merlin and wanted him clear of harm's way.
"You are not coming with me. And that's an order. I will have no more arguments on this." Arthur demanded. "Gaius, Merlin will not leave Camelot under any circumstance. Put him under lock and key if you have to."
"As you wish, Sire." Gaius obeyed but he knew Merlin could not be kept under lock and key. Merlin was Merlin. Nothing could bind him.
"Do I make myself clear, Merlin?" Arthur asked.
"Yes, Sire." Merlin replied softly, but he had his mind made up.
Merlin was not one to sit by and obediently listen to orders when he felt so strongly about something, at least not this time. The future of Camelot relied on Arthur, who would become the once and future king. Merlin may not see the whole picture as clearly as he would've liked to, but he knew he had an important job. It was not only to play the part of humble servant, but it was also his destiny to make sure Arthur lived to claim the throne. They needed each other for survival. Merlin was already in the process of brainstorming a plan to follow Arthur.
Two sides of the same coin. Merlin was beginning to understand the meaning of those words.
End of Chapter 9
Author's Note: Thank you for reading and reviewing! Please sign a review? :)