BBC Merlin: Happy Go Lucky – Chapter Twelve

Merlin’s face whitened as Sheridan prized open his hand, finger by finger, and held the dagger over the creamy skin. The hated man gently touched his hand with the sharp tip of the knife and began to slowly slice a long, clean cut over Merlin’s palm. Scarlet blood started to drizzle out of the gash, and Merlin had to look away, gritting his teeth together to stop himself shouting out in pain.

Sheridan was clearly taking a morbid pleasure in this, and after he’d finished the cut, he held Merlin’s trembling arm over the jar and began to squeeze his fist so that blood began to drip into the glass. Streams of red ran down over his fingers, eventually becoming too heavy to stay on his skin and then dripping into the jar. When it was filled with the dark red liquid, Sheridan finally freed Merlin’s hand.

The young warlock snatched it away to his chest and held it tightly in his other hand, trying to crush away the pain and stop the blood running out all over his shirt.

“Now, then,” Sheridan said brightly, sounding so sick it made Merlin feel queasy, “I want you to start writing. Pick up the quill.”

Taking a deep breath and knowing he would have to do this or get into deeper trouble, Merlin released his blood-streaked hand and reached out for the white quill, trembling.

“What do you want me to write?” the young warlock asked, staring down at the paper, refusing to look Sheridan in the face.

“My name is Runt and I will listen to it,” the man answered, keeping back laughter, something the crew was failing to do.

Merlin hated them. All of them.

“How – many – times?” he forced out, grinding his teeth together and trying to ignore the pain from his hand that stung as the quill inside his fist pressed into the cut.

“Until I say stop,” Sheridan replied, now laughing heartily. “And if I should catch you taking a single break, you’ll be writing lines with your entrails.”

As the crowd began to disband, taking Sheridan along with them, Merlin raised his shaking hand and dipped the nib of the quill in his own blood that was glistening from within the jar.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

Only divine intervention could have stopped the bubbling, steaming anger that boiled inside Merlin now, as he continued to write in the scarlet ink.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

The cut was still streaming and it dripped blood all over the scroll, splattering it with hundreds of little, red dots.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will kill Sheridan.

Merlin had to lick his thumb and rub out that last line with it, before starting again, quaking with fury.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

Where was Arthur? Why hadn’t he come? Would he come? Did he care? What was he doing now? Did he know where to go?

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

Merlin put down the quill and buried his head in his hands, not caring if blood now smeared his face. A sound like a door opening reminded him of Sheridan’s threat, and he quickly picked the quill up again, wiping away the mingled blood and tears on his face and beginning to write once more.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

The young warlock didn’t look up, and after a short silence, the door closed again and footsteps pounded away.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

My name is Runt and I will listen to it.

 

*

 

Several hours later, when Merlin’s wrist felt dead and he himself not much better, Sheridan finally gave the word for him to stop. Merlin had covered more than twenty pages, front and back, in his very own blood. Sheridan held up the thick mass of paper in his hand and waved it at the crew who were shouting catcalls at Merlin and laughing.

Merlin, however, could barely hear them. He was nodding his head and leaning over the table, unconsciously clasping his wounded hand in the other, his eyelids drooping. He was exhausted. All he needed was rest right now, but he wasn’t going to get any yet.

“Oi, Runt!” Sheridan’s call snapped him out of his almost sleep. “Didn’t you hear me?”

Merlin looked drowsily around in confusion. Judging by the expression on other people’s faces, Sheridan had been talking to him for a while. The young warlock could only blink as the man sidled over to him.

“Don’t tell me that, even though you’ve been writing it for ages, you still aren’t listening to your name!” Sheridan asked in mock horror.

Merlin knew only too well what was coming next, and he just laid his forehead on the table with a quiet thud.

“DO IT AGAIN!”

 

*

 

Arthur was standing at the front of the ship, leaning against the stay – a line that was used to keep the mast steady while sailing. He was just staring at the peaceful sea, but he was not as calm as the water spread out before him, however.

The wind had suddenly decided to stop, and all that was left was a faint breeze – not even enough to puff up the sails and make the ship move forward.

This was taking way too long. All the things that were probably happening to Merlin now, while he was stuck here in the middle of nowhere…and there was nothing he could do about it. He wasn’t able to make the wind come back, or move the ship with his bare hands. Arthur felt completely helpless and it frustrated him immensely.

The foresail lay at his feet, neatly folded and lines all rolled up. There was no way to tell, but Arthur was sure the ship wasn’t moving at all.

Feeling restless, he tapped his fingers on the stay. His foot joined in and the tapping turned into an incoherent rhythm.

Suddenly, Arthur turned around and paced up and down the top deck. The worst thing about the lack of wind was the hot temperature that came with it. The sun was high up in the sky and made the copper plating on the ship feel like a burning fire when he touched it.

In this heat there wasn’t much that could be done – all the other stuff that were daily jobs on the ship had already been taken care of by Matilda, John and even little Kaelan.

Arthur took off his red jacket and threw it on the deck with anger. Sweating with the heat, he continued pacing, images of Merlin flashing through his mind. He had covered all of the clumsy things his manservant had ever done, when he suddenly heard a loud splash, and a shower of icy water fell on him.

“Oi, watch it!” Arthur turned around, expecting to see somebody standing behind him with a bucket, which he’d just emptied all over him, accidentally on purpose. But there was nobody there, however, although he did catch sight of Kaelan’s head sticking out of the water, with a big grin on his face from where he was swimming just next to the boat.

“Sorry, Arthur! I didn’t mean to get you all wet like that.”

Arthur sighed and ran his hand through his hair. The cold water was actually quite refreshing.

“Yeah, sure you did. Can you tell me when the wind might pick up again? I’m sort of in a hurry.”

“To find Merlin?” Kaelan asked. “You can’t rush the wind, though. Or trust it. It comes and goes whenever it wants. But Dad said it might return in the evening,” he dove under water like he was some sort of fish, and kicked his feet up in the air. He came to the surface soon after, gasping for breath.

“And what do we do in the meantime?” Arthur quizzed, trying to keep the frustration he was feeling out of his voice. Pointlessly, walking up and down the ship was not doing him any good. And his legs were feeling a wobbly from the unsteady deck as the small boat bobbed up and down in the gentle waves.

“Swimming!” Kaelan exclaimed, the grin on his face turning into a big smile. “Are you coming, too? The water’s great!”

Arthur’s imagination ran away again before he could answer the question. In the worst case, Merlin was already dead…and even is he wasn’t – please, let him be alive – terrible things must be happening to him. And all the while, Arthur was swimming in the sea…

Just the thought of it made him feel sick. He couldn’t have fun while Merlin was in the situation he was in. He just couldn’t.

Arthur shook his head.

“No, I’m sorry. I can’t.”

Kaelan looked disappointed, but the prince turned around and walked back to the front of the ship where he sank onto a guardrail and waited for the wind to return.

The End

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