Gaius had been sitting on a chair in Arthur’s chambers for over two hours now and thankfully no one had come (or tried) to come in. He had spent most of his time fretting over the unconscious Merlin or pacing worriedly up and down the room but he was currently sat on the chair, wringing his hands.
What would happen if Merlin didn’t regain consciousness? What would happen if Arthur never became flesh and blood again? What would he do? What would become of Camelot when the king died and there was no one to take his place except a gold statue?
Suddenly the form of Merlin, slumped against a wall snapped awake and jumped up like he had been electrocuted.
“Merlin!” Gaius yelped and fell of the chair with surprise.
“Are you alright?” Merlin said and dashed over to Gaius who was sprawled on the floor.
“What do you mean am I alright?! Are you? What happened?” Gaius said, swatting Merlin away as he fussed over the old man.
“I…well…I’m fine but it’s a long story.”
“Did you see who did it? Tell me!”
“I didn’t see…” Merlin shuddered and trailed off, remembering the horrible memory.
“Tell me everything that happened!” Gaius said, ignoring the fact that it was hurting the young warlock to talk about it.
“Well first of all I went into this…place, which I think was Arthur’s mind and then there were these cloud things that were floating around and I had a feeling they were his memories so I jumped into one and that wasn’t the right memory so I tried another.” Merlin explained as best he could the weirdness of the place.
“And?” Gaius said making Merlin surprised the physician was acting as though this was an every day occurrence.
“Err…well there was this fire thing that sang and turned Arthur into gold…it hurt so much…” Merlin said and slumped exhaustedly into a chair. The weirdness, magic and pain from the whole ordeal had practically drained him. The magic he had used to enter Arthur’s mind had been extremely powerful and it was finally catching up with him. Also the pain and horror of the fire had seemed to stay with him as if it was still present.
“Fire?” Gaius demanded, oblivious to the fact Merlin was half dead.
“Like in Morgana’s dream…” Gaius trailed off and stared at the ceiling and then at Arthur who still stood in the corner pronouncing the phrase “silence is golden” without fault.
“I still don’t know who did it though. It was all for nothing.” Merlin hung his head dejectedly.
“What do you mean? We’re no nearer than before!” Merlin argued.
“What was the fire like? I need to know everything.” Gaius said, pulling a chair up in front of the young warlock.
“Well it started of really small and then it got bigger, it wasn’t a normal fire that I’m sure of, and then it started…singing…and everything went golden and it hurt. It really, really hurt.”
“What was the song like? Can you remember it?”
“Yeah…I’ll never forget it…” Merlin shivered.
“Can you sing it?”
“You want me to sing?” Merlin frowned and stared at Gaius like he had suddenly sprouted another head.
“Merlin, this could be important.”
Reluctantly Merlin hummed the tune of the song, refusing to sing. Gaius listened intently and when Merlin had gone on to what was probably the chorus he suddenly jumped up.
“Do you know it?” Merlin asked.
“I know it alright. It’s not the sort of thing you forget easily.”
“What is it?”
“It is the song of the phoenix.”
“Phoenix? I thought they were good creatures?”
“They are, defiantly are.”
“Then why would a phoenix turn Arthur into gold?” Merlin asked, his forehead crumpling into a confused frown.
“How much do you know about phoenixes?” Gaius said, sitting down again.
“There can only be one alive at any time, they rule over fire, they’re birds…that’s about it.”
“Good, but you missed a very important fact out.”
“Phoenixes all have a purpose that they must for fill in their life times.”
“What?! You mean like a purposes to turn Arthur into a statue?!”
“No! They use magic for good.”
“Well evidently not!”
“And that’s what’s so confusing.” Gaius lent back in his chair thoughtfully and put his fingertips together.
“The phoenix must have had a reason!” Merlin said.
“Yes…we need to talk to it.”
“How?” Merlin asked, almost laughing, “Where on earth are we gonna find a phoenix? They don’t grow on trees!”
“There not on earth.” Gaius said quietly, bending his fingers and pressing them together so much his knuckles went white.
“You said where on ear-“
“I know what I said! What do you mean not on earth?”
“Phoenixes are birds of fire.” Gaius said as though it was obvious to the where abouts of the elusive creature.
“And where is the best place for a bird who likes fire to live that isn’t on earth?”
“Err…” Merlin racked his brains, annoyed that the physician was stringing him along like this, “The sun?”
“Well then…Arthur isn’t ever going to return to his usual state then is he? I mean…come on… the sun!” Merlin said, half angry and half sarcastic.
“There is a way to the sun. Not many have been able to succeed in using it but some who have tried claimed they did.”
“You’ve lost me completely.” Merlin said, shaking his head.
“Have you ever heard the phrase “a ladder to the sun”?”
“…Yes…don’t tell me there is?!” Merlin reeled.
“Not an actual man made ladder (obviously) but from the stories of the survivors there is a thing very much like it.”
Merlin did not like the way Gaius had said “survivors” and swallowed because he knew that he was probably going to have to try and be one of them.
“Well…err…how do you get to it?” Merlin asked tentatively, trying desperately to not think about the inevitable out come this was surely going to end up in.
“I don’t know.” Gaius said.
“What? You know everything about it apart from where it is?”
“I don’t know everything about it! No one does. It’s shrouded in mystery.” Gaius said darkly.
“It looks like I’m going to have to do some more research.” Gaius said, standing up heavily.
“Right. What are we going to do with him?” Merlin added, pointing his head in Arthur’s direction.
“Nothing. What can we do?” Gaius said and turned the key in the doors lock.