The sky was dark as black. The forest in the distant to the far north was like a soul coming to harbor on those sitting in the dark of the village not a mere miles away. The horse that was on the trail, his hooves making a steady clip clop, let out a soft neigh and tossed its head. The rider grimaced and hushed it. The man could not allow himself to be found. To do so would only mean trouble that he did not need or want. He looked up at the moon that was now peeking out of the sky just a little and he adjusted his homespun cloak and looked down at the road. He let out a sigh and snapped the reins, and let the horse trail down the road.
It had been a long time since he had been home and even longer since he had seen the people he had left behind. But he was stronger know, in health and power. He could hold and take his own. He let his mind wonder back to the night he had taken leave of the castle. The famed castle heard all around the isle, Camelot. He had stolen food from the kitchen, took the best cloak he could find from a certain person, left a note, and got a horse and ran. And ran. To where he did not know at first, but then he came upon it. The magic guild, a place he could learn how to master himself and the power from harming people. To help.
He saw many terrible and great things there in that tower that roses high above the sky. He had started with the black and ended with the white. He had the robe in his traveler's bag on the side of the horses. Along with his spell book and letters he had scribed and gotten from his friends who had no idea where he had been all these past years.
A sound up-ahead on the road made him shake his head out of reminisce and pull the bay mare up short. The bay whinnied in protest and rolled an eye up at him as if to ask him if all this was necessary. The man jumped of the saddle, his leg muscles protesting in the sudden movement. He pulled a sharp angled angle knife from his belt and hid it out of anyone's gaze and let his other hand, his dominant hand when coming to magic, let a flicker of white light spring up into it. It lit a good mile or so.
He saw a banner of red and gold flash through the trees and then back again to the road. A dragon and bear stood out in a sea of blood. The knights in their heavy amour spotted him and let out a cry. The man watched as they broke off in a flank; ten to his left and ten to his right. He was surrounded.
" I wouldn't be casting any magic around here, lad," said an older knight with a sprite of grey in the hair he had left on his head. He had his sword out but not pointing at him.
" I hear that magic is allowed back in the kingdom of Albion. The king had passed the law many moons ago," the magic wilder said with a slight smile at the mention on the document that had been posted at all the kingdoms and local cities and towns in the area.
A knight, this one with a red beard came through the throng, he stopped and looked at the older knight," this is true, yes. But this isn't a place I used the art at. Not on this night."
The knight then looked over the magic user for the first time and took a step closer. He held up a hand and let it fall on the man's shoulders. His eyes, blue in shade, widened more than one thought possible. "It's you. "
"so it is," said the person who wasn't really a Stanger, " I'm me. Well met Sir Leon."
The stranger smiled and then leapt back onto his horse and looked down at the knight was stepped back a few steps. "Come on. I am sure I am expected at the castle already. I know you have been trailing me for hours."
They left in a precision, two pairs in a row of 20 plus men. They marched in a line until the sun peaked out over the fresh mountain peaks and they arrived on the courtyard of the castle. The stranger, whose name was Merlin, yes, that Merlin, the warlock destined for great things and the once and always mentor and friend to the king, let his feet touch the ground and he smiled a big smile. He was finally home.
The door to the castle opened and the warlock marched inside. He let the red curtains and the stone walls and floors warm him up. He made it up to the first flight of stairs and into the wing of the royal family and the Knights of the Round Table. He paused at one of the bigger doors and let out a shaky breath. Was he ready for this? He thought back to every second of his life in Camelot and then those moments away from it. He let his fist knock against the door with a hallow knock.
"Enter," said a much more hollow but soft voice.
Merlin pushed the door opened and a honey soft light filled his vision. He stepped more inside and took in the old wooden table he had sat at many times for food and game, to the bed he had hid under many times and made fresh for the king and prince at one time, and to the many things that held many memories too much to recall.
He saw a man with fading blonde hair, a tough build, and a regal standard looking through an open window. The sun was in his eyes but then again it was a new day. He had his hands pressed against the wall, his sword hanging by his side. That fable sword that Merlin had always thought more trouble than it was worth. The ring on the man's figure was around his neck as his wife, Gwen, their old friend, dead from child birth a few winters past. One of the many reasons why Merlin had left, he had not been able to save her.
"Arthur," Merlin said as he walked the floor to close the space, "Arthur I'm-"
Before Merlin could blink there were arms around him and a head buried in his chest and a sob escaped a mouth. He wrapped his arms around the king, his brother, and laid his head on his.
"Your home. Your home, Merlin, home."
Merlin took a deep breath and hugged his friend, "yes, I am. And I'm not leaving. Not now and not ever."
And that was the truth.