Elena lies down next to Merlin that night, so when she hears him talking with Lancelot, she leans over him to join the conversation, propping her head up on her elbow to see over Merlin's head.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Merlin asks. "I have magic."
"And me," Elena smirks, planting a kiss on the warlock's cheek. "Never forget about me." Merlin laughs quietly.
"Never could if I tried," he responds but Lancelot does join in on their humour.
"Neither of you are immortal though," he counters, sobering the atmosphere.
"No," Merlin agrees.
"You know, Merlin, you're the one Arthur should knight. You're the bravest of us all and he doesn't even know it."
Merlin appreciates the compliment and Elena nods, humming in agreement. "Sir Merlin," she says. "I like the sound of that."
But Merlin and Elena both know that Arthur finding out now could ruin everything they've built up over the years. "He can't. Not yet. That's why I need to find a way to get to the Cup without Arthur knowing."
"Leave that to me," he replies cryptically. Merlin eyes him, but ultimately, he trusts his newly knighted friend. Lancelot turns on his back, closing his eyes so Merlin turns around to face Elena.
"How can I help?" she asks quietly, leaning her head back down on the ground.
"I need you to stay with Arthur," he says. "That way if anything goes wrong on either side…" Elena nods at the insinuation. There is no debate to whether she would be going tomorrow, whether the others like it or not. Wherever Arthur goes, she'll go.
"You better stay safe," she warns him. "Remember – if you die, I die." She means it teasingly, but Merlin's frown deepens. Elena notices and reaches out to rub his arm. "It is worth it."
"There is a tunnel under the northern ramparts that brings us only a few paces from the entrance to the dungeons. It will be well guarded," he emphasises. "So, if we're going to break everyone out, we must remain unobserved. We cannot let them raise the alarm."
"We need to take out the warning bell," Lancelot says. "That way the warriors have no means of communication."
"I'll need someone with me who knows the castle," he says, giving Merlin a pointed look. The warlock picks up the hint, volunteering immediately.
"Alright," Arthur agrees.
Although she hasn't voiced it yet, Elena wiggles herself into the plan, joining the knights and Arthur in freeing both the other knights still in Camelot and Uther. The men start preparing themselves, putting on their armour. Elena, already set with her sword at her waist has nothing else to do as she doesn't have any armour so instead, she helps Leon put his on.
"I think I already know the answer," he says slowly as she tightens the strap going around his chest. "But what are you going to be doing?"
Elena tugs on his chainmail, pulling it taught so there are no kinks that she may accidentally lock in. "I'll be right next to you fighting," she answers. There isn't any point in lying since she will quite literally, be by their side. There will be no sneaking out to join them. Leon sighs, not liking the answer but he knows better than to fight it.
"Ellie!" Her head falls over her shoulder, hearing Gwaine's nickname for her being called out. Gwaine is holding up a short piece of chainmail, sizing it against himself. Timely finishing Leon's armour, she sends him a smile before walking over to Gwaine. The knight holds the chainmail up to her, smirking as he eyes to fit. "You should get into this." If one person will assume she is coming, it is Gwaine.
"She won't need it."
Both their heads turn to Arthur who has walked over, glaring at the chainmail. Gwaine glowers at the Prince. "And why not?" he dares to ask.
"Because she won't be coming," the Prince answers. Elena rolls her eyes, taking the chainmail from Gwaine, causing the dark-haired man to smirk at the Prince.
"I think that's her choice," he counters. Elena pulls the chainmail over her head. She undoes the belt around her pants – which she doesn't need anyway and does it back up around her waist to hold the chainmail better to her body. Arthur clenches his jaw as she ignores him. "You look like a badass."
Elena chuckles, rounding off her arms before her gaze drifts to Arthur who is staring at her new armour. "He's right, Arthur. I'm coming and I'm fighting. You have both trained me, you know what I can do. I'm also smaller and quieter than you lot and I think we need someone with sneaking skills around."
"She'll come whether you want her to or not," Leon says, coming to stand behind Elena, placing his hands on her shoulders. Elena smiles at the support. She knows that if Castor was here, he'd be standing with her as well. It's not that she thinks Arthur doubts her, she knows he just cares enough to not want her fighting off an immortal army. But she didn't stand at the Round Table to stand by and watch. This is her part to play – one where she can not only help Merlin but fight her own battles as well.
Arthur looks at all three of them. His shoulders drop as he nods. Elena steps forward, hugging the Prince. "I promise to stay as safe as possible, but only if you do the same."
The Knights of the Round table, Elena, and Merlin crouch in the bushes near the entrance to the castle grounds. Arthur waits for the sentries to move away from their post before directing the rest. They scurry along the grounds, using whatever they can as cover. Getting inside is the easy part and soon enough, they are in an empty corridor.
"Good luck," Arthur says to Lancelot as he and Merlin are now splitting from the larger group to disable the warning bell. Or so Arthur and the rest think. Elena isn't quite sure if they are going to as well as get the cup, but she won't be surprised if the warning bell does sound. Merlin smiles to Elena, wishing her luck before he and Lancelot run out of sight.
Elena finds herself in the middle of the knights, holding her sword low and at the ready. At every turn, one of them lean forward, checking the way is clear before turning. They make it all the way down to the cells before they run into their first bit of trouble.
Guards stand at their post in the way, but Leon comes up with an idea that Gwaine is stupid enough to agree to. Gwaine leans out of a corridor, whistling to grab the attention of the guards. They run after him as Gwaine sprints back through the cell area that the other knights are waiting for.
"Now!" he yells. Gwaine runs through the open door and Elena closes it right after, nearly hitting his heels as Leon and Percival close the one on the other side. Gwaine claps Elena on the back, smirking at the captured men. "Stay there and don't move, eh?" Elena grabs his arm, forcing him to follow her as they run off.
On the inside of the cells are more guards but they've already been spotted and there is no exit besides the one that they just came from – and that is not a choice. Breathing quickly, Elena prepares herself for a battle so when the first immortal man runs up to her, she is ready and parries his blows.
There is no 'winning' against them, a fact she is very well aware of but as long as she can hold them off, Arthur can get his father and the other knights out and there is still the possibility of escape.
She grunts, knocking into Elyan as a solider much larger than her strikes heavy blows. Arthur flicks the keys to the cells over to the knights with his sword whose hands are out and waiting. Freeing and arming themselves, the new knights join the Knights of the Round table.
Out of the corner of her eye she sees Arthur enter one of the cells and figures that he must have found his father.
"You all good?" Leon asks between breathes as he is pushed over towards the girl. Elena smirks cocking her head to the side for a moment, holding off another blow.
"Never better," she laughs, trying to use humour to get through this. "Yourself?"
Before he can answer, the warning bells sound. While Elena had a strong inkling it would, and she knows Merlin is working on the Cup, it still strikes fear into her bones as she is very aware that they will be facing even more enemies.
"What the hell are those two doing?!" Arthur cries out. Elena stumbles over somebody else's foot and she barely ducks in time as a sword swings at her head. Arthur sees this, moving over to take the immortal man on himself, letting Elena gain her footing back.
More and more men start piling into the cells, overwhelming the knights who are beginning to tire. Arthur looks at his men – and woman, knowing that this may well be their final moments. "If we're gonna go down! We'll go down fighting! For the love of Camelot!"
Elena cries out her own battle cry, feeling the motivational words seep through her and she swings her sword down heavier and harder than she ever has before. Her sword slices through the shoulder of one man's sword wielding hand. The sword goes so deep that the arm becomes useless as all the muscles are cut off. The man doesn't cry in pain but his arm dangles uselessly, his sword falling to the floor.
Elena grins, laughing to herself in disbelief – she has just disabled an immortal man. Or at least, until he's picks the sword up with his left hand. Her face drops as her arms raise the meet his new blows. They are not as strong but there is nothing Elena can do but try and keep him at bay.
He is easier to fight off with his left hand, until she begins to feel faint. She blinks the feeling away, knowing that she has fought longer than this before. But it doesn't go away. Because it's not her own feelings.
Merlin doesn't answer, whether he's not awake to or otherwise unable and that worries Elena more than the idea of the men in front of her. Her back presses up against the wall, being pushed back by this one knight until she can go no further. Sweat pools on her neck, trying to fight the faintness. She's felt things that Merlin has before, but she can't remember a time feeling like this.
Another knight comes into her view, taking the attention of the immortal man she has been in battle with. Her sword drops from her hand as she slides down the wall. Her hand presses against her head, trying to push the feeling away.
Someone kneels in front of her, speaking to her but her eyes are pointed down, trying to pull herself back into some sort of normalcy while also trying to talk to Merlin. The person gives up trying to talk to her, instead, standing over and parries off an immortal man trying to take advantage of the weak spot.
Finally, the feeling begins to fade, and she pushes herself to her feet, standing next to Gwaine who eyes her off. Her sword raises but before it can strike, the men in front of her explode – yes, explode into nothingness.
Elena sheathe her sword, breathing heavily as her and Gwaine look around. They are the only two in this part of the cells, corned off somehow in the fight. "He did it," she whispers.
"What happened?" asks Gwaine who is still looking around with narrowed eyes. Elena runs her finger through her hair.
"They've knocked their blood from the Cup of Life."
"Merlin and Lancelot."
"Gwaine! Elena!" Leon's voice rings down the corridor that they were in originally. Gwaine looks over his shoulder, smirking.
"Our fans await," he teases. Elena rolls her eyes tiredly. Gwaine and Elena walk out into the main part of the cells. "That's Sir Gwaine, to you," he says once they walk out into sight. The men sigh in relief. "And Lady Elena as well," he adds.
Elena's face drops in shock, staring wide eyed at Gwaine. "What?" Only one other person knew of her 'supposed title' and it certainly isn't Gwaine. The other men, bar Arthur who is supporting his father with the help of some of the other free knights watch the interaction between the two. "Ho-how did you…?"
Gwaine rolls his eyes exasperatedly. "I figured out when you told me about your father, a few weeks after we just met."
"Your father?" Leon presses. His face is set in a deep frown. He's finding out new things about Elena each day and he doesn't like it. What else is she keeping secret from him? Elena sighs, knowing the cat is out of the bag.
"My father was a Captain in the army," she explains. "And apparently that is also a rank that gives nobility." Elyan, Lancelot, and Percival nod, not really thinking much of it, but Leon drops his eyes, avoiding her gaze. Elena's stomach drops at his expression, but she can't focus on it too much as things need to be done.
They work hard over the next day, and Elena finds herself busy helping the new knights get sorted into the castle that she barely sees Merlin or Arthur. She gave Gwaine Torj's old chambers, wanting his close to hers and Leon's while she gave Elyan, Percival, and Lancelot three rooms free on the other side of the castle near the armoury. She got the pleasure of giving them their robes and begged Gwaine to put his on right then and there which he of course did. Elena stared at the sight, not believing that Gwaine is standing there, decked in the full attire of a true Camelot knight. A position he deserved.
They left to retrieve Gwen the next day and she, Arthur, and Merlin get the pleasure of seeing them all ride into Camelot. They looked truly magnificent and Elena nearly burst into tears (concerning both the warlock and Prince) as she watched them ride in.
But one thing has been plaguing her mind since the cells and she finally finds the guts to ask. She hasn't seen Castor since he told her to hide with Gaius. There is a chance that she missed him in the movements of everything as she barely even saw Arthur but a whole two days have passed and no sight of him.
Working up the courage, Elena leaves her chambers, heading for Arthur's. On the way there, she finds him on a balcony, speaking to someone else. Arthur stands, leaning against the stone wall, looking out over the city that is once again safe. Leon carries heavy news with him, something he'd never thought he would have to deliver.
Elena waits behind a pillar, not wanting to intrude but to wait for the right moment to go up to them.
"Sire, I'm afraid I have some bad news," Leon says, watching his Prince's expression carefully. Arthur barely reacts, almost knowing that what has happened is too good to be true.
"What is it?" he asks numbly.
"It's Sir Castor, Sire." Leon pauses, not believing the next words to leave his mouth. "He's betrayed us. When I was still here, I saw him working with Morgana. He stood by her side. He's disappeared along with her and Morgause."
Elena's mouth drops open as her breath leaves her. She has to hold two hands against her mouth to stifle her cry of shock. Her back presses up against the pillar, her legs weakening as she slides to the floor, biting her fingers with stinging eyes.
Usually I would post a separate chapter with everything I would like to say but I don't actually have anything to mention besides work and stuff starting again so I'll hold off from publishing book 4 until I have enough chapters written to be able to post when I can't write.
Also, just thank you to everybody who has made it this far. This is definitely not my best writing (cough* my Hobbit fanfic is better cough*) but I do enjoy it all the same.