Chapter 15

People had always said the castle near the river Hudōr was haunted, but none more so than as of recent. Howling screams of a young boy could be heard, although no one in their right mind stuck around long enough to find out who it was. It was speculated that they were the screams of a young prince who was murdered by his brother in order to secure the throne, however those were just petty rumours. The truth was altogether more sinister.

The locals knew the truth of course. They knew how Morgause had spent the last three days trying to train her latest weapon, and knew that the screams were made by no ghost, but instead by a sorcerer. No one would stop her though.

They feared their king and his vicious sorceress, and fear acts like a serpent's bite, paralysing the victim and preventing them from acting. So they merely continued with their lives and tried to ignore the heart wrenching screams and pitiful cries for mercy.

"Ic onbelæde þu fræcne déaþcwalu!"

Pain courses through Merlin's veins like a fiery poison, eliciting painful screams from his already battered throat and sending convulsions along his frail body. Morgause had alternated between physical abuse and magical, and to be honest Merlin didn't know what was worse.

"You could end all this suffering, Emrys. You could see your little friends again, you could have your wounds healed, you could even have a position of power rivalling that of gods! All you have to do is help Cenred and I defeat those Pendragons!"

Merlin chuckled weakly, the motion irritating his chest. "You must be pretty stupid if you think I can be swayed by a bit of power. There is only one true ruler of Albion, and his name is Arthur Pendragon. He's my friend and I won't help you hurt him!"

Morgause slapped him harshly across the face, her ring cutting into his chapped lip and causing blood to meander from the corner of his mouth. "You insolent brat! I have offered you the world on a platter and yet you refuse me on the account of some pathetic loyalty to a Pendragon. Tell me Emrys, if Arthur Pendragon is truly your friend, why hasn't he come to rescue you?"

Merlin remained silent, not wanting to believe what Morgause was saying was true.

"I'm have other more important matters to deal with right now, but when I return, you better have thought about where your loyalties truly lie, or else I might find that there is no use for you alive." And with that Morgause turned away from the chained warlock, before leaving the dungeon, her heels clicking against the floor as the heavy door slammed behind her, leaving Merlin alone with nothing but his pain and the doubt Morgause was trying to sow into his mind.

Morgause was growing increasingly furious as she strode up and down the throne room, much to the annoyance of Cenred.

"I don't understand!" she cried, "I have tortured him for days now and still he will not help me! No one has ever rebelled this much, not even that little brat Freya! He clearly cares far too much for his prince." She hissed at the thought of a magic user being loyal to the heir to the throne of Camelot. Cenred smirked and a chuckle escaped his throat, eliciting a scowl from Morgause.

"Oh Morgause my dear, you've been going about this the wrong way!" When Morgause paused in her pacing, Cenred took it as a sign to continue. "The boy is loyal, and has no sense of self preservation. Well, we can play to that loyalty. All we have to do is let him see his little friends again, then threaten them if he doesn't obey you! It's simple!"

All the while he spoke, a grin began to grow on Morgause's face, until it was almost a grimace. "Yes, you're a genius Cenred!" she yelled, kissing him on the cheek, before storming out of the room and towards the dungeons where Freya, Percival, Gwaine and Lancelot were being held.

"Did you not already know that?" Cenred called after her, chuckling to himself.

Arthur, Elyan and Leon had set off at dawn, although Arthur had been awake long before that, trying but failing not to think about what could be happening to Merlin. The thought of torture being used against his little friend made the older boy feel physically sick, and he prayed to the gods that they found Merlin before anything too horrendous happened.

"So what is the castle like? Are there many guard rotas?" Leon asked Elyan, who replied without even turning around.

"The place is swamped with Cenred's men, so we will probably have to procure some uniforms. The castle itself is made up of 5 floors, with your friend probably being held in the dungeon at the bottom."

"Why, what's down there?" Arthur asked, although he was already dreading the answer.

Elyan hesitated, then spoke much more softly than he had before. "I tried to escape twice whilst I was there. The second time I managed to get hold of a sword, slice through the restraints and teleport out, before running to my sister's home. The first time however, I was caught and therefore Morgause decided I needed to face the repercussions of my attempt. "

Again, Elyan hesitated, but a glance back at Arthur's concerned face spurred him back into motion. "There is a room in the dungeons were Morgause trains her more... disobedient guests. She hung me by wrists and whipped me until I became unconscious." Elyan said bluntly, lifting the back of his shirt to reveal a mass of criss crossing scars, the print of a whip visible in each one.

Seeing the expressions of his companions, he gave a sad smile. "You know, those are the exact expressions my friends had when they saw what that witch had done. It's been three months since I escaped, and God only knows what she has done to them since I left. I can only hope when we rescue your little friend I can find mine as well."

The trio soon fell into companionable silence, each one contemplating what lay ahead, the lack of noise only being broken as in the distance a large black tower began to loom into their vision.

"There it is," Elyan said, pointing to the dark mass. "You can only see the first 3 floors, the other two are underground, and they are where she keeps her prisoners."

With their target now in sight, the three men unconsciously hastened in pace, until the ink splatter on the landscape grew until it practically blocked out everything. They dismounted their horses, leaving them in the nearest town's stables, before continuing closer by foot. The sound of tortured screams began to fill the air, leaving a sense of unease amongst the trio. As they knocked out several of the guards, Elyan scoffed at how easy it seemed to get inside the castle as they changed into their uniform. "If it was only this easy to escape that hell hole, this whole operation would come to a standstill!" he said bitterly, remembering how hard it had been just to get out of his cell, let alone the castle.

The three now inconspicuously dressed men strolled back towards the castle, this time making their way towards the main entrance. They received a brief nod from the guard at the opening, who only had time to open his mouth in greeting before he was pounced upon by a stormy eyed Arthur.

"Where is he!" he hissed frantically, positioning his sword under the terrified guards chin.

"Where's who? I don't know who you m-"

"The young sorcerer they brought here a few days ago. Merlin. He has brown hair and big ears and wears a stupid necktie. Now if you value your life, you'll tell me where he is!" Arthur emphasised his point by jabbing the tip of his sword into the meaty flesh of the terrified guard's throat.

"I don't know nothing, I swear! I've only just come on duty! Please don't kill me!"

Arthur yelled in frustration before knocking out the guard with the butt of his sword. He then controlled his emotions, before signalling to the others to proceed into the depths of the castle.

Merlin sat alone in his cell, shivering with fear and cold, as well as from the exertion of having all his weight hanging on his arms. Morgause's latest attack although still not breaking his cause, had lead him to several unhappy thoughts.

Firstly, he wondered about his new found friends, and pondered as to whether they were ok. He had not seen them since Morgause had taken them away after Gwaine had become irritating to her, and Merlin prayed that all of them, particularly Freya, were ok.

Next, he wondered about his fate, and whether Morgause would really kill him or not. The throb from his cheek suggested she was not afraid to hurt him, however something told Merlin that he was more important to her cause than she was letting on. She refused to call him by Merlin, only by this Emrys name, which suggested she feared whatever it was that he could supposedly do, and that he was her only way of killing the Pendragons.

Which led him to Arthur. Where was the young prince? Why hadn't he saved him yet? Merlin wondered whether Morgause's words were true, and that Arthur didn't care about him, before shaking his head. No, despite only knowing him for a few days, Merlin knew somewhere in his soul that Arthur truly cared about him, and that if he could Arthur would get there. However there was still a niggle of doubt in Merlin's mind. If Arthur would be here if he could, what was stopping him right now? Merlin sighed and wriggled in his chains trying to shake off the negative thoughts.

Suddenly the door slammed open once more, revealing a person he hadn't expected to see so soon, if at all.

AN: I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am for this long unexplained hiatus. My sister managed to destroy both my iPad and iPod in the space of a week leaving me without any means of writing and uploading, and I have only recently managed to get them both repaired. I then had 15 GCSE and FSMQ exams, which has stifled my creativity and broken my brain. However, I am now on holiday and am currently in Rome, so my creative juices are flowing and this is the result. I promise you this was a one off and I will never abandon any of my stories, no matter how long the hiatus. So, massive rant over, I hope you enjoy the new update, and I recommend you reread the original story if confused, as its been a long time since I last updated. Thank you so much to everyone who has reviewed in my absence, and I'm sorry I've had no way of thanking you personally. For now I am writing the next chapter and I will put all my other stories on hiatus until this one is done. Finally, if you've read this far, thanks again but also I am opening up a survey as to whether I should kill off Freya or not, and have some bromance comfort. Please vote and review!