I'm not giving anything away on this one because its all very mysterious but the basic story line (really, really basic) is that Arthur is turned mysteriously into a golden statue and Merlin has to save him.
“Merlin. Merlin! Wake up!” Gaius said and jabbed Merlin in the side.
“Go away.” Merlin grumbled irritably, turning over and swatting the hand away like a fly.
“Your late! It’s the tournament today remember?!” Gaius said, persisting with the poking.
“Ten more minutes…” Merlin muffled into his pillow.
“I don’t think he’s going to wait that long!”
“Arthur! You should have gotten him ready five minutes ago!”
“What?! Why didn’t you say?! He’s gonna kill me!” Merlin leapt up and sprinted to the door, throwing his bed sheets all over Gaius in his hurry.
“Merlin!” Gaius called after Merlin as he swooped out of the door.
“What?” Merlin stuck his head round the door of the physician’s chambers.
“Your still in your pyjamas.”
“Oh…yeah…” Merlin said, looking down at himself, slightly abashed.
Five minutes later Merlin was hopping down the corridor, still pulling a boot on. He came to the prince’s door and burst in, immediately regretting it because Arthur would probably have something to say about his knocking policy. Fortunately the said prince was too angry and too late for the jousting tournament to give Merlin a lecture.
“Congratulations Merlin! You are now the latest person to have ever walked the earth!” Arthur said, clapping sarcastically.
Merlin mumbled something incoherent and grabbed a bit of armour that was sitting on the table. As he began strapping it to Arthur’s arm there came another knock at the door.
“Yes?” Arthur said and turned to the door, the armour on his arm coming off and clattering to the floor. Sighing, Merlin picked up the armour and once again began fixing it to Arthur’s arm.
Someone opened the door and a knight poked his head through, an urgent look on his face.
“His majesty is growing impatient. He wishes you to hurry or the tournament will start without you sire.” He knight said.
“Tell my father I will be there shortly.” Arthur said. The knight nodded and closed the door.
“Get a move on Merlin! If I’m late I’ll hold you personally responsible!” He snapped.
Merlin knew this probably meant a spell in the stocks or worse and hurriedly did up the last few buckles. He didn’t know why Arthur wouldn’t do it himself because he could. If Merlin managed without a servant why couldn’t he? He thrust the helmet into Arthur’s hand as the prince grabbed his sword and strolled out the door, Merlin following.
The arena was swathed in its usual glory, the Pendragon crest flying in the wind, hundreds of other flags swamping the air and the stadium having its usual occupants. Uther stood and clapped with the crowd as Arthur rounded the corner. Morgana and Gwen also raised to their feet, cheering Arthur on. You could almost smell the excitement and anticipation in the air.
Two horses were led to the arena, one white (Arthur’s) and the other (brown) belonging to the opposing knight who wore a green tunic with three entwined triangles imprinted on the front. The two warriors mounted their separate horses and were each handed a long thin lance by their servants.
Merlin shifted the heavy lance onto his shoulder and held it up to Arthur who first put his helmet on and then took the weapon.
“Good luck.” Merlin said.
Merlin retreated to the edge of the arena to watch as the two men waited for the order to begin that would come from Uther. Finally the king stood and raised a hand for silence.
“Good people of Camelot I welcome you all here on this fine day to the annual jousting tournament!” His voice boomed out over the crowd as they cheered.
“My son, among many other brave knights, shall fight courageously over the next week for your entertainment. The scores shall be counted and the final shall be held by the end of the week. The winner shall receive one hundred gold pieces and be given a title worthy of their courage. The rules to the game are as follows; three turns are had and the one who has unbalanced his opponent the most out of that number wins the round.”
The speech went on in this fashion, Uther explaining the rules and such like, but Merlin wasn’t really listening. He had never been one for speeches. His eyes wondered over to where Morgana and Gwen were sat, on the right of Uther.
Gwen was smiling sweetly as usual but Morgana looked slightly tousled. A few hairs were out of place and she defiantly had rings round here eyes. Merlin made a mental note to ask her if she was all right after the tournament, which was about to begin as Uther had just given the word.
“Prince Arthur verses Knight Belmot. Let the tournament begin!”
Arthur and opposing knight shifted their lances and kicked their horses in the sides to propel them forward. The horses raced down the arena, sand flying up behind them as their hooves rocketed over the ground. Arthur’s lance connected with the shoulder of the other knight and he went flying awkwardly off the horse. The crowd cheered loudly as Knight Belmot remounted his horse and the two warriors both returned to their original stations to start again.
The next two turns ended in an unsurprising victory for Arthur and a disgruntled Knight Belmot was knocked down a few peg on the scoreboard which was very much like the one used when Knight Valiant had been in Camelot.
Over the next few hours Arthur had four victories and only lost one round. Merlin roared with the crowd as the prince shoved the last knight of the day off his horse. Arthur jumped off his mount and Merlin went up to lead the stallion away to the stables.
“They all think they’ve got a chance but in truth they’re all useless!” Arthur commented on the knights he had battled that day as he pulled off a glove with his teeth.
“Well one of them beat you! They can’t be that bad!” Merlin pointed out.
“I let him win.” Arthur grunted, mildly embarrassed.
“Whatever you say.” Merlin grinned.
“You know your coming to the feast this evening don’t you?”
“The feast. There’s gonna be one every evening after the tournament.”
“I’m not wearing that hat!” Merlin announced quickly, remembering the preposterous head gear Arthur had given him when Lord Bayard of Mercia had come for a banquet to declare peace.
“But it suits you so well!”
“With friends like you who needs enemies!”
“Just be there…or else.”
“Or else what?”
“Or else…I’ll be using you instead of a lance tomorrow.”
“Exactly! See you later.” Arthur sauntered away, still pulling a reluctant glove off.
Merlin tied the horse to a stall, gave it a rub down and made sure it had enough food and water before setting off back to Gaius’s chambers as he had promised the physician, the day before, he would help him with getting some supplies.
He was wondering down one of the many streets that led to the castle thinking of nothing in particular when he quite literally bumped into Gwen. She had been carrying a good deal of washing and it flew into the air as they collided.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! Let me get that.” Merlin apologized and began picking up the assortment of clothes of the dusty floor, silently cursing his clumsiness.
“That’s all right Merlin. Thank you.” Gwen replied, also stooping down to scoop up the washing.
It turned out that many hands do make light work and they soon had all the clothes in their arms.
“So, which way are they headed?” Merlin asked, nodding at the bundle in his hands.
“The lady Morgana’s chambers.”
“I’ll help you carry them. You never know when you might bump into another klutz like me!”
“Thanks Merlin.” Gwen smiled and the pair began walking in the direction of the castle.
Merlin remembered the mental note he had made earlier to ask Morgana if she was ok. She had looked rather upset about something when he had seen her earlier. He decided to ask Gwen, as Morgana wasn’t present.
“I saw Morgana looked a bit…ruffled during the tournament today. Has she been sleeping badly again?”
“Is it really that obvious?” Gwen lowed her head slightly and looked at the floor.
“Well…” Merlin paused.
“It doesn’t matter. Anyway, yes she had another nightmare last night. If anything it was worse than the others.” Gwen shuddered, thinking about her friend’s hysteria the previous night.
Merlin knew that when the kings ward had dreams they weren’t just fantasies but instead previews of the future. It had happened many times before and he had known at the time of the last one that it was not to be the end of the prophecies.
Morgana’s nightmares usually foretold of some evil entering Camelot or of a crime or generally anything bad. That probably meant that he was going to have to save the day…again. Merlin pulled a face, annoyed that he would probably never have a normal life. But that was true of any warlock though none were quite like him. He often wished that he didn’t have magic and that he could live a normal life that didn’t involve saving the life of a prince countless times a day but other times he wouldn’t have his life any other way. He suddenly realized that he was being rude by not answering and Gwen was giving him a funny look so he quickly emerged from his thoughts and replied.
“Worse than the others? Why? What did she see?”
“She wouldn’t tell me but she did say that she was going to see Gaius about it.” Gwen said, wondering why Morgana had not shared the dream with her as she usually did.
“That’s wise. I’m sure Gaius will be able to help her.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Well, I promised Gaius I’d help him today so I’ll leave you to get on with your duties.” Merlin said and handed the pile of washing to Gwen; the heap becoming so big that Gwen’s face was covered.
“Thank you.” Gwen muffled and Merlin made for the physician’s chamber waving goodbye, too late realizing that she couldn’t see him for the washing.
Gaius was waiting, impatiently tapping his foot, just out side his office.
“Seems you like being late!” The physician raised an eyebrow.
“Patience is a virtue, that’s what you told me.” Merlin grinned.
“And may I remind you of your comeback? Come on. We need apples.” Gaius said also smiling and beginning to walk away.
“Apples? What for?” Merlin said following Gaius down the passageway.
“We need some for supper.”
“So I’m helping you with your groceries?”
“Whoopee, the greatest warlock to have ever lived is doing his groceries.” Merlin said sarcastically.
“Shh! You can’t go blurting that out round here!” Gaius hissed angrily as a passing guard eyed them suspiciously.
“Oh yeah! They might think I’m gonna set a horde of apples on the king and/or destroy Camelot.”
“Ha, ha. You’re a comic genius…among other things.” Gaius chuckled.
Merlin and Gaius jumped as Morgana suddenly appeared in front of them.
“Morgana.” Gaius bowed his head. “What can I do for you?”
“I had another dream last night.” Was the short and serious reply.
“Oh. Well the apples can wait. Come back to my quarters and tell me everything.” Gaius said, beckoning them back the way they had come.