Unsurprisingly Arthur was still standing nearby the window, his golden face washed in shadows from the sunset that was flooding the room with its glowing orange rays. Thankfully no one else was there, probably because they didn’t want to be. That not meaning that nobody loved Arthur but instead that it was rather scary to see someone you know standing so still and not knowing whether they would be all right or not.
Merlin, however, was undaunted by this because he knew that he could save Arthur.
“Good luck.” Gaius said, trying to smile. He knew that this was extremely dangerous and if even the smallest thing went wrong then both Arthur and Merlin could die or worse go mad with the damage to their brains. As he had said, messing with people’s minds is not something to be taken lightly.
“Thanks.” Merlin said, taking a deep breath.
He held Arthur’s head in his hands, his arms outstretched and his eyes closed for concentration. The prince just looked unseeingly into the distance as though looking through Merlin. The look that was on his face was the sort that could make a person cry it was so hard and sad. Before Arthur had been turned to gold he had not had one of the most enjoyable experiences that was for certain.
Merlin paused a moment and shuffled his feet slightly. He suddenly wasn’t as sure that he could do it, as he had been earlier. He took another deep breath and began to recite the spell he had learnt.
“Gaelic carrum forstay ferventay ariolosoe.” He muttered quietly and squeezed his eyes tightly shut.
Immediately there was a sort of weird feeling swirling around his head like a tornado. It was as if him, his soul, was flying down his arms and moving into Arthur’s head through his fingers. As his consciousness left Merlin felt as though he was moving away from his body and was seeing himself, standing and shaking slightly gripping Arthur’s head like his life depended on it. And then suddenly Merlin was gone and he was inside Arthur’s head.
Gaius watched as Merlin cast the spell and suddenly collapsed to the floor, unconscious. He sat the young warlock up and propped him against a wall, his head lolling around on his shoulders. Gaius knew that the spell had been successful and Merlin’s mind was now in Arthur’s so there was nothing more he could do other than lock the door and wait.
Merlin knew that Arthur was a bit of an airhead at times but this was ridiculous.
He was on his back on a cloudy floor. There wasn’t much around, just soft whiteness and cloud. The clouds drifted by like ghosts. They were different colours. Some were bright white, some were grey and some were extreme black. For some reason Merlin had a strange notion that the darker the cloud the worse the memory and the whiter the happier. He was sure that each cloud was a representation of a memory.
So this was Arthur’s memory storage? Bank? Place? Whatever you called it this was where Arthur’s memories were.
Suddenly he wondered if Arthur would want him nosing around his private thoughts and experiences. If it had been Merlin he certainly wouldn’t have wanted anyone poking around in his mind. But there wasn’t any way of telling which cloud held which memory so Merlin decided that, as there was no other way, he would have to play a game of hit an miss and hopefully come across the right memory.
He stood up and walked around the white place for a while; just staring at the drifting clouds as they passed and wondering which one he should take. After some time he saw what looked like a gathering of people in the distance. For some reason some of them looked oddly familiar.
Curiously Merlin began to walk toward them. The figures milled around randomly and didn’t seem to take any notice of him. They all looked as though they were daydreaming and just floating around without a care in the world. Things were very peaceful here. As Merlin neared the people he saw that they were each holding a cloud in their arms. There were some people he had never seen before and some he actually knew.
He was half scared to death as he saw Gwen suddenly appear from behind a bunch of knights and even more so when he himself popped out in front of him. Morgana was there and Uther, Gaius, Will, Hunith, Lancelot even Nimueh. Merlin wasn’t afraid of these people though. Not that he should be scared of them (not including Nimueh.) He somehow knew that they were all the people Arthur had encountered in his life and they would do him no harm.
Most of them Merlin didn’t know. He vaguely recognized a few of them as random servants and knights who lived around the castle.
He wondered if the clouds each of them were holding were the memories Arthur had had with that particular person. The servants and knights had small clouds and the owners of the biggest were Uther, Morgana and himself.
Merlin was extremely tempted to find out what Arthur thought of these people (including himself) but he told himself severely that he wasn’t here to do that and Arthur would most likely not want him snooping through his opinions of others.
So Merlin left the strange gathering and went back to the drifting clouds. He had some strange idea that he should jump into one of the clouds to see the memory. He wondered how he knew how stuff worked around the place but decided it was probably magic. It was strange.
He chose a completely random cloud that was a bright white and waited for it to come closer. He waited because it seemed that if he moved then the clouds would float away from him as if they were opposing magnets, also because he didn’t really want to move around too much. It was a very weird feeling of sleepiness that seemed to hang in the air like a person telling you gently to go to sleep and forget everything. Merlin refused to listen to the voice though. He had to save Arthur.
Eventually the billow of white passed slowly past him and he leapt into it.
Everything flashed brilliant white for a second but gradually faded into a hazy green. He could see only vague blocks of colour, which were various greens, blues and a soft gold of a warm sun. There was the sound of flowing water in the background and a few birds chattered amongst themselves above his head. Merlin could smell the sweet scent of hundreds of small wild flowers and feel a gentle breeze ruffling his hair. Crickets buzzed their strange songs below in the longish grass that brushed his legs as he walked through the meadow that was revealing itself slowly before his eyes.
He was walking against his will and seemed to be a good deal shorter than before. But now he thought about it he didn’t really want to take over whoever was walking for him. He put out a hand and it brushed through the tall grass and he put the other up to shield his eyes from the rays of light that shone brightly, reflected and twinkling from the stream that flowed beside him.
This was truly a wonderful place and Merlin would quite happily have lived there.
“Come on lazy bones! I dared you to climb that tree! Don’t tell me you’ve chickened out!” A voice suddenly said and a girl popped out from behind the tall grass.
She had long black hair, green/brown eyes and a playfully smile across her lips.
Before he knew it Merlin was speaking to this girl. The strange thing was that he didn’t speak in his voice.
“Calm down Morgana! I’m just coming!” Merlin said. Except it was Arthur’s voice he said it in. It was like but not completely Arthur’s voice but instead higher pitched. The prince’s voice most defiantly but when he had been younger that was for certain.
This was getting really weird.
“Yeah right! You were dawdling on purpose! I knew you didn’t have it in you!” The girl (Morgana, as Arthur had called her) teased and flew off into the grass, her long hair flowing out behind her.
“Whoa! Hang on!” Arthur, or was it Merlin, said and gave chase to Morgana who could be no more than six.
Merlin watched on through Arthur’s eyes, a few strands of golden hair obscuring his vision as he ran through the meadow after Morgana who was giggling wildly and nearing a large tree.
“Go on then! Up you go! I did dare you!” Morgana said, hiding behind the trees trunk and chuckling.
“If I remember correctly I was the one who dared you!” Arthur said folding his arms obstinately as he also neared the tree.
“Seems you have a bad memory!” Morgana said.
“Don’t care if I do. You’re climbing it!”
“Not scared are you? Anyway, I’m a prince so you have to do what I say!”
“Do. Come on. I’ll give you a leg up if I have to!”
Morgana scratched her head comically.
“Ok but then you have to come up to! You’re not getting out of this one Arthur Pendragon!”
“Fine whatever!” Arthur said, kneeling on the dusty ground and holding his hands together for Morgana to stand on.
Morgana leapt unceremoniously onto Arthur’s hands and preceded to reach for the lowest branch of the oak, her short arm waving franticly in the air while the other one propped her up against the tree.
“Take your time!” Arthur moaned.
“Shut up!” Morgana said, catching hold of the branch and swinging herself up elegantly.
“Come on! You promised!” Morgana said, hanging off the branch with one hand clutching a knobble in the trunk and the other held down to the prince.
“I didn’t promise anything!” Arthur replied, ignoring Morgana’s offer for help and instead making his own way up the side of the oak.
Morgana snorted, annoyed, and suddenly looked up at something in the distance that had caught her eye.
“Oh great.” She said.
“What?” Arthur said and hauled himself up onto the branch beside her.
“Its your father. He’s coming!”
Arthur growled crossly.
“I’ll race you to the top! He won’t see us there!” He said already clambering ungracefully up the tree.
“Oi! Talk about unfair!” Morgana giggled and followed him up quickly, ignoring the shouts that were coming from Uther and a few escorting guards.
Merlin had it sussed now. He was seeing one of Arthur’s childhood memories through the prince’s very own eyes. This wasn’t the memory he wanted to see though. How to get back? Everything was so real. It wasn’t like a hazy shred of a dream like he had expected but was instead very real. There was no “door” or “magic portal” back to where he had come from. He decided to just wait and maybe this memory would end and he would go back to the cloudy place.
Arthur had reached the top of the tree by now and was swaying precariously on the thin branches that lived at the top. The view was amazing.
Camelot’s turrets weren’t too far away and this turned out to be a field nearby the castle. There was a long winding river to the right and a buttercup-infested meadow to the left. Willow trees hung their swaying branches into the river and they flowed gently with the currant. The leaves on the trees betrayed the time of year, which looked as if they were browning slightly. It must be nearly Autumn. Also, to top it all off there was an angry king at the foot of the tree, practically shaking a fist at the two run away children.
“He doesn’t look too happy.” Morgana observed, joining Arthur in the uppermost branches of the tree.
“Probably worried we’re gonna fall. You know what parents are like!” Arthur laughed.
“Yeah…” Morgana said quietly, remembering her parents who had died not that long ago.
“Oh…sorry.” Arthur was quick to apologize.
“That’s ok. Do you think we should go down?” Morgana said, quickly changing the subject to Uther and his guards who were earnestly trying to coax the two children down like they were cats who had got stuck at the top of the tree.
“Go if you want. I’m staying.” Arthur said distractedly, harvesting a few acorns from a branch and turning the bottom of his shirt up into a makeshift holder for them.
“GET DOWN HERE NOW!” A voice called angrily from below and Morgana looked down to see a guard trying his best to climb the tree with his bulky armour on.
“They’re coming!” Morgana chuckled and hid behind Arthur as best she could on the dangerously thin branches.
“Whoa! Watch it!” Arthur yelped as his brood of acorns slid out of his shirt and hit the guard several times on the head.
Morgana giggled at the guard’s misfortune.
“Milady, Milord…the king has instructed me to return you to the ground.” The knight said through gritted teeth; clearly he hated his job and heights.
“You’ll have to catch us first!” Arthur said cheekily and ran (if you can run up trees) away, up to the furthest reaches oak.
“Ahh! No! Put me down!” Morgana suddenly screeched as the guard, obviously fed to his teeth with the two rascals, grabbed her and slung her over his shoulder to take her back down to the ground.
“ARTHUR!” Morgana yelled furiously and drummed her fists on the guard’s back angrily.
“Oi! Put her down!” Arthur demanded and swung down to the guard, trying to release the struggling Morgana.
“Sorry Milord…” The guard said in a voice that betrayed that he was anything but and grabbed poor Arthur and easily slung him over his other shoulder.
“I’m a prince! You can’t do this to me!” Arthur said, trying to wriggle his way free.
The guard wobbled perilously on the branch, his arms flying around in circles to try and regain his balance as Arthur struggled.
“Fall and I’ll have you executed!” The king shouted, practically seething in anger.
The guard swallowed and locked both Morgana and Arthur in a vice like grip to stop them moving. Somehow he managed to clamber down with his arms full of the two angry children.
All of a sudden the white light was back and Merlin felt himself on the soft, puffy floor of the cloud place. He leapt up, glad that he could move his own limbs again and was back to his original height.
That had been really, really weird but kind of enjoyable. It must have been one of Arthur’s more pleasant memories. It had almost been like Merlin had experienced it instead of Arthur. It was all very strange but not in a bad way.
But the job at hand was not reliving Arthur’s childhood. It was to find out who had turned him into a golden statue.
Merlin realized he had been sort of stupid. The white clouds were obviously good memories and the darker ones were unhappy ones. Merlin highly considered being turned to gold as a bad memory so it was clear that the next cloud he went through would have to be a black one.
There were quite a number of black ones though. That was to be expected of anyone. Everyone has bad memories.
He picked one at random. It was pretty blackish and even raining slightly.
Merlin was having cold feet. When he had been in the previous memory he had almost heard Arthur’s thoughts and could most defiantly feel the emotions the prince had felt. Whatever this memory was about it clearly wasn’t good and now he would have to experience it himself. However as the cloud passed Merlin jumped into like he had with the other.