Huddled with Arthur under the prince’s sopping wet coat to escape the rain, Merlin wondered how they were to get out of this stupid forest and get back to Camelot.
Ahh, Camelot. The word alone brought pleasant memories back to Merlin. How great it would be to sit in front of a blazing fire in Gaius’s chambers, his toes toasty warm, not sitting in squelching wet boots. And of course not forgetting a steaming hot stew sitting in his lap, warming his hands and filling his growling stomach that had not been satisfied by the blackberries.
Merlin wiped yet another splat of water off his face that had just dripped off one of the coat’s buttons into his eye again. The rain was still going as strong as ever, lightning bolts tearing across the black sky and thunder rumbling like huge heavenly drums in the distance.
On the walk through the forest Arthur hadn’t spoken much (there wasn’t a lot to talk about) but one of the things he had mentioned was that his father would probably have hundreds of search parties out for them, hunting high and low for his son who, along with his manservant had been missing for nearly a week now.
The soldiers wouldn’t find them though. How could they possibly know where to begin?
Merlin didn’t even know if he and Arthur were in the kingdom of Camelot or another one entirely. He had never been in this forest before and from how Arthur acted, nether had he. The trees that creaked in the stormy and wet wind were not at all like the ones near the castle and the sandy plain before the forest was even less like the lush green rolling hills that inhabited Camelot.
The sun slowly climbed up from the horizon, casting long orange rays through the dense trees, bathing Merlin’s tired face in gold.
Suddenly Arthur stirred beside him and yawned loudly, stretching and throwing the soaking coat off him in the processes.
“Flipping rain.” He groaned, wringing out the jacket.
“Good morning to you to.” Merlin said cheerfully, also yawning.
“Get any sleep?”
“Not much. You want the rest of the blackberries?”
“Umm…I sort of ate them when you were asleep.” Arthur mumbled, getting up and stretching again.
“Oh, great. Well what are we supposed to eat now?”
“You go and get some more blackberries. I’ll find some wood for a fire.”
Arthur hung his jacket on a branch to dry and strolled off into the forest to find wood.
Merlin returned to the blackberry bush and after picking as many berries as his shirt would allow he made his way back to the tree, where he found Arthur trying to make a fire with a few soggy sticks and a flint.
“Ooh, lumfley!” Arthur exclaimed with his mouth full, beginning to stuff his face as Merlin dumped the berries on the floor. He discarded the flints and his lips began to darken with the black juice.
Merlin picked up the flints and began chipping away with them, occasionally grabbing a handful of the berries. An inconspicuous flash of gold later and a spark flared out from the stones, lighting one of the sticks. Merlin picked it up and began to blow it, the stick bursting into flame. He lit the other twigs and soon he had a respectable fire going.
“So where are we going next?” He asked Arthur, warming his hands on the flames as the prince laid his jacket next to the fire to dry.
Arthur picked a long blade of grass out of the ground and chewed on it thoughtfully before answering.
“Well, I thought tha-“ He began but suddenly there was a shout from somewhere up ahead, towards the track.
They both sprung up, Arthur’s hand going to the hilt of his absent sword instinctively.
“What was that?” Merlin spun around in search of the source of the sound.
The shout came again and suddenly a running figure appeared around the distant corner of the muddy track.
“HELP!” The figure yelled desperately still running from an invisible foe.
Arthur and Merlin jumped out onto the path to see who the person was.
It was a lad (somewhere around nineteen) with shockingly blonde hair and a strange, black, sleeveless coat that showed his pale arms. Even from a distance you could also see he wore an odd red choker that clung tightly around his neck.
He seemed to be in some distress, clearly terrified by whatever it was that he was running from. The said thing had yet to show its self however.
“IT’S COMING! IT’S COMING!” The boy yelled madly.
He was only a few feet away now and he suddenly grabbed Merlin by the shoulders, desperately trying to drag him with him down the track away from whatever it was that was chasing him.
“What’s coming?” Merlin yelped as the boy pulled him along, a confused Arthur jogging along beside them.
“THAT!” The boy stopped and pointed a long arm back down the track the way he had come.
Arthur and Merlin both looked back in the direction he was designating and saw a terrible creature pounding down the path.
It was blackish grey with hunched shoulders that brought its head into being part of its chest, its massive pupil-less eyes set like huge glowing red orbs where its lower neck should have been. It vaguely resembled a misshapen dog with overly long and spindly legs, thin body and mane of short ash coloured fur that ran around the back of its neck and down its lean back. In height it was about eight or nine foot tall and huge mandibles that were it’s mouth, which resembled those of a gigantic spider made up for at least two of those measurements.
One look at this awful creature and both Merlin and Arthur turned heel and raced after the blonde boy for all they were worth.
The beast lopped along behind them at a speedy pace, its long legs throwing it over the ground with ease.
Merlin felt its hot breath on the back of his neck and shot a fleeting glance over his shoulder. He did a double take, seeing that it’s spider like jaws were only inches away from snapping him in half.
Too caught up with how suddenly close it was he missed the rock that was embedded in the pathway before him and he tripped over it, falling face first into the mud, yelling with surprise.
Arthur, who was ahead, heard him and spun round to see the horrible creature almost upon his friend.
“Merlin!” He ran at the creature, foolishly thinking he had a chance against it.
The beast flung a talon like paw at him that sent him flying into a tree and hitting it painfully.
Arthur picked himself up hurriedly and saw Merlin battling fiercely with the creature’s mandibles, his hands pushing them apart as they tried to slice him in half.
Before Arthur had time to leap to his friends aid the boy was drawing his sword and charging at the beast himself.
It leapt back at the sight of the glinting metal and Merlin, thankfully unhurt, scrabbled away quickly.
The beast snarled with a scraping, screeching noise like a huge dieing bird and threw a swipe in the boy’s direction.
He sidestepped agilely and thrust the sword at the creatures shoulder but it whipped around before he could touch it. It swung its head/shoulders and rammed into the lad, knocking him flat to the ground and sending his sword spinning through the air to where it landed, feet away from Arthur.
The beast leaned over the dazed boy, ready to kill its prey.
Arthur caught up the sword and lunged at the thing, hurtling over the ground like a missile and shouting a war cry like a mad man. It swung around with surprise and without hesitation Arthur drove the sword into one of its abnormally large red eyes.
The sword was yanked from his fist as it reared up into the air, screeching with pain and the sword still protruding from its head. It dropped to its thin knees and convulsed for a moment, writhing in agony before final becoming still and breathing no more.