“What happened? Are you ok?” Gaius leapt to Merlin’s side as the young warlock stumbled out of the rock.
“That…was…” Merlin was lost for words.
“Incredible…” Merlin said, looking back at the rock that was no longer rippling.
“What was? What happened?” Gaius persisted.
“The phoenix? You heard it sing?”
“What was it like?”
“I…I can’t describe it…but that doesn’t really matter now. Don’t you want to know what’s going on?”
“Enlighten me.” Gaius said.
“The phoenix’s purpose was to protect Arthur but it hates…hated how Uther kills everything magical and so it decided to make Uther feel the pain it felt by getting to him the best way it could think of.” Merlin explained, taking his horses reins and beginning to walk down the hill, Gaius following.
“Turning Arthur into gold?”
“And then what?”
“It sung…and I was getting really sleepy but then I remembered why I was there.”
“And then I threw us off the balcony to stop it singing.”
“There was a strange house…thing…place…”
“How did you survive the fall?” Gaius inquired.
“There was a lake.”
“A lake? In the sun?”
“I don’t know! Anyway it was stunned when it hit the water and it died.” Merlin said rather weakly, wishing he had better literature.
“What’s going to happen to Arthur now?” Gaius halted in his tracks. Merlin however kept walking.
“It gave me this.” He said, taking the feather out of his belt and showing it to Gaius, “And it said I would know what to do with it.” He added when Gaius continued looking confused.
“What do you have to do with it then?”
“Come on. I’m sure Arthur doesn’t appreciate being made of gold.” Merlin said, mounting his horse.
As Gaius and Merlin approached the door that led to Arthur’s chambers Morgana and Uther came out, Uther with a stony face and an arm around Morgana who was crying silently into his shoulder. She was to upset to notice them and Uther might as well have ignored them because all he did was nod and continue to walk sadly down the corridor.
“Don’t let them back in.” Merlin said, going into Arthur’s room, obviously not wanting for the king of Camelot and hater of magic to see him perform a spell on his son. Gaius obediently locked the door and followed Merlin to where Arthur stood silently. Merlin took the feather from the belt and it flashed in the sun that shone through the window, bathing the room in light for a second.
“What do you have to do with it?” Gaius asked, frowning with confusion.
“Shh.” Merlin said, studying the feather and remembering the song that the owner of it had sung.
“Niaga ruhtra sevas nilrem.” He whispered to it. Immediately it burst into flame in his hand, not burning him or the feather. Gaius gasped but Merlin was to intent on looking at the flames to notice.
The feather was now a ball of fire.
Gently he let go of it and it floated in the air for a second before growing in size and brightness. Merlin stumbled back and put up his hand to shield his eyes from the flames.
The fire grew over Arthur until it had covered him completely and not even a golden hair could be seen. As quickly as it had come the fire disappeared to show the prince again. The gold began to fall away from him like sparkling dust, which flew out of the window, never to be seen again.
As soon as it was gone Arthur moved for the first time in days. He blinked and swayed dizzily. Merlin could see he was about to fall and caught him as he collapsed to the floor.
“Sire! Are you alright?” Gaius exclaimed and knelt down beside the prince as Merlin propped him against the wall.
“Someone had better tell me what happened or heads are gonna roll.” Arthur groaned and rubbed his face dazedly.
Merlin couldn’t contain himself anymore and hugged his friend into a vice like grip.
“I…can’t…breath…!” Arthur gasped and Merlin released him grinning like a Cheshire cat.
“Anyway…someone was going to tell me what happened.” Arthur said, gazing confusedly at the pair before him.
Gaius and Merlin exchanged a quick glance. They couldn’t tell him the truth…could they?
“Well…I’ll let Merlin tell you.” Gaius said.
Arthur turned expectantly to Merlin.
“By all means Merlin, take your time!” he said, politely rude.
Merlin knew what he had to do and that wasn’t tell him the truth. He decided to admit part of it though, missing out all the magic of course.
“Well what do you want to know?”
“Everything! For starters you can tell me why there was a really weird fire in my room!”
“I don’t know anything about a fire,” Merlin lied, “but I do know that you were turned into gold by a phoenix.”
“But I found it and…it won’t be troubling us again.”
“And I cured you with…an anti gold potion…” Gaius said weakly.
“A what?” Merlin and Arthur said in unison.
Gaius was saved by the door handle that suddenly began to rattle.
“Why is this door locked? Open it immediately!” The king on the other side commanded.
Gaius went over to open it and Merlin helped Arthur up who was still shaky on his legs from standing stock still for so long. As Gaius opened it the king came in and saw his son, leaning heavily on Merlin’s shoulder and no longer made of solid gold.
“Arthur!” The king cried and dashed over to his son and embraced him in a hug that Arthur wasn’t quite ready for.
“This is incredible! What happened?” The king demanded, clapping Arthur heartily on the shoulder causing the prince to stagger, still stiff from the ordeal of being made of metal.
Merlin sighed, knowing he was probably in for another explanation but Arthur unknowingly saved him.
“It was Merlin. He’s the one you should thank! Gaius to…and his…anti gold potion…” Arthur added, raising an eyebrow at Gaius’s feeble lie.
“Physician? Please explain.” Uther said.
“Uh…well…” Gaius said and began to tell the king everything that had happened in detail. As they talked Arthur turned to Merlin.
“Did you really save me?” He asked.
“Yeah, I guess so.” Merlin let loose a lopsided grin.
“Thank you.” Arthur said, the gratitude coming from the bottom of his heart.
Merlin smiled and nodded in response.
“Do you remember anything?” He asked.
“Only that horrible fire. How long was I out?”
“A few days.”
“Oh right. Wait a minute!” Arthur suddenly stopped.
“What?” Merlin frowned.
“What did you tell the people? They must have noticed I wasn’t at the tournament.”
“Ahh, yes, well what?”
“The king didn’t want the people to worry so he kind of…umm…” Merlin rubbed the back of his neck, dreading what was going to come next.
“Yes?” Arthur asked cautiously.
“He ordered me to pretend to be you in the tournament so they wouldn’t worry and…err…”
“What?” Arthur asked in a dangerous voice Merlin knew only to well.
“I may have ruined your reputation…”
“Yes?” Merlin asked, cringing at the calmly angry tone Arthur had adopted.
“I AM GONNA KILL YOU!” Arthur found his legs again and gave chase to Merlin who had already dived for the door.
He may have been joking but that was no comfort to Merlin.
Well thats gratitude for you.