A revengeful boy kidnaps Merlin and holds him to ransom at a ancient temple. Can Arthur rescue him?
Arthur placed a foot on the windowsill and lent on his arm whilst looking out of the window absent-mindedly. He had woken only moments before for some reason he could not explain and had not been able to fall asleep again so he had taken to staring up at the stars through his bedroom window. If asked he would never admit to any one that he sometimes did this, just gaze up at the night sky and survey its endless depths. He had done this since before he could remember and knew every star by name. Of course he hadn’t known them without first studying them, which he had done when he had first discovered his interest in them.
The constellation on Pleiades, or more widely known as the Seven Sisters was shining brightly tonight and he could just see the reddish orange outline of Mars in the far distance. The stars fascinated him. They just went on forever and ever, never seeming to stop. Arthur tried to contemplate the sheer size of it all but it made him feel small and vulnerable. He didn’t like the feeling so he stuck to just gazing out of the window with a glazed expression on his face.
He stayed there for hours until he fell asleep on the windowsill and the bright light of the morning sun burst from behind a cloud and flooded the room in rays of gold. The light woke Arthur from a pleasant dream, which was more than welcome after his half sleepless night. It’s Morgana’s job to sleep badly, he thought and shook himself properly awake.
He dressed himself and whilst doing so discovered that his laundry needed doing. Where was that lazy so and so Merlin when you need him? He was late yet again but Arthur was quite used to it by now. Merlin was probably the worst servant he had ever had the misfortune to come across but he was also his best friend so he couldn’t stay angry with him for long. As Arthur thought, the said person entered the room.
“Sorry I’m late…again…but there was this mouse you see-“
“Save the accuses for when you need them Merlin. Who knows, they might actually come in handy one day!” Arthur came out from behind his screen and sat down on his chair. As he sat there was a strange noise, like a cracking of wood. The two young men looked around in search of the noise. Suddenly, with a yelp, Arthur crashed to the ground as the chair beneath him crumbled, a spray of dust swamping the air.
“To many banquets?” Merlin asked innocently, an amused grin bursting on to his face. Arthur sat sprawled on the remainders of the chair like a daddy long legs for a moment before scrambled up and gaping at the debris of chair, somewhat astonished.
“My chair?!” He knelt down beside his cherished piece of furniture. He wasn’t that sentimental but this particular chair had been in the Pendragon family for longer than he could remember, perhaps even longer than his father could remember. Picking up a snapped piece of what was once the chairs leg he inspected it. There were unmistakable long passages of small holes working their way down the entire length of the beautiful oak.
“Woodworms?” Merlin said over Arthur’s shoulder.
“Looks that way.” Arthur said, a dispirited look on his face.
“I can have the carpenter fix it if you want?”
“It’s beyond repair…” Arthur whined.
“Don’t be stupid! The carpenter can easily fix that!” Merlin waved his hand at the chair. It wasn’t that bad. The legs would defiantly need replacing but the actual seat and the back were fine.
“I guess…Ok go get it mended.”
“Will do.” Merlin picked up the remainders of the chair and made for the door.
“Oh, hang on.” Arthur remembered he needed his clothes washing and threw the heap of dirty linen at Merlin who just managed to catch it while still grasping firmly onto the chair.
“I want to see myself in the belt buckles so make sure they’re properly polished before you come back. Ok?”
“Yes sire…” Merlin groused and managed to invent away of opening the door with his arms full of chair and clothes. Arthur grunted and went to sit on his chair but too late realized that it wasn’t there and for the second time that day found himself stranded on the floor. Merlin achieved a chuckle before the door swung itself shut and Arthur threw a “shut up” look back at him.
“Can you repair it?” Merlin asked the carpenter who was frowning down at the wreckage of chair with a weary look on his face.
“Yes, I think so. It’ll be difficult. Could take a long time but with a little persuasion…” The carpenter trailed off, hinting what he wanted a tip. Sighing Merlin dug into his pockets and brought out a few gold coins, which he handed to the man who more snatched than took them.
Arthur owed him for this.
“When shall I come and pick it up?”
“Ooh…a week or so I should say. It could be done in a matter of days if…” Once again he trailed off with a hopeful look on his face.
“Err…no a weeks fine!” Merlin hurried out before the carpenter could pilfer any more of his cash.
He walked a little way through the town, noticing with some amusement that someone besides him was in the stocks today. The poor fellow was being pelted with a large assortment of fruit and vegetables including a couple of leeks that judging by the smell had long been off. Merlin wondered what he had done to disserve this treatment.
Suddenly there was a tug on his shirt. He looked down and saw a small boy, no more than ten years old with dark brown hair and a small plait going down the back of his neck, was latched onto his leg. For some reason he looked oddly familiar.
“Urm…can I help you?” Merlin’s forehead crumpling with surprise.
“Are you Merlin?” The boys voice was not an innocent squeak like most children his age but instead had a sorrowful tinge to it, like the boy was upset about something.
“Yes. Who are you?” Merlin asked. The boys appearance was defiantly ringing bells but Merlin couldn’t quite think why.
“My name is Benjamin.”
“Oh.” Merlin would normally have said something along the lines of “nice to meet you Benjamin” but there was something about the kid that unnerved him.
“Can you help me?” The child looked up at him with huge blue eyes.
“What do you need?” Merlin asked, while wishing the small boy would refrain from clinging to his leg like a leach.
“My horse is stuck in some mud not a mile from Camelot. Can you come and help him out?”
“Can you not have your guardian do it? I’m sort of busy.” Merlin said, remembering Arthur’s washing.
“I travel alone.”
“Why?! You can only be ten at most?!”
“Please…!” The boy suddenly looked as though he could at any moment unleash a tidal wave of tears.
“Ok, ok! Come on, show me where it is.” Merlin took the boys hand that was offered to him. He wondered how the boy had known his name and also why he seemed to have come especially for his help. Merlin had been taught not to trust strangers by his mother but what harm could this small boy do him? Having made up his mind he followed Benjamin through the busy town.
As Benjamin had said, his horse was only a mile or so from the town and was indeed stuck in mud. Merlin surveyed the filthy bog with contempt. It was bigger than he thought and most certainly smellier. Benjamin looked up at Merlin expectantly. Merlin shifted on the spot. Mostly because of the strange boys gaze but also because the marshy, bog looked deep. The horse was stranded on a smallish island in the middle and there was about three or four meters of marsh with an unknown depth between it and dry land.
“How did you get it stuck in there?!” Merlin asked.
“A fox spooked it and it jumped.” Was the short reply.
Merlin craned his neck to see if there was anyway of getting through the mire without ending up with half of it in his mouth. He came to the conclusion there wasn’t and reluctantly handed Benjamin his coat and scarf.
“Egh!” He groaned as he tentatively squelched a foot into the grassy wetness of the bog. The water was cold, slimy and wrought with seaweed like plants. Merlin was quite sure something was moving under his feet but chose to ignore it. A few steps in and he was up to his waist in the quagmire and finding it difficult to move.
“Umm…I think I’m kind of stuck…” Merlin twisted his feet in the mud but the more he did the more cemented into the muck they became.
“Finally! I thought you were never going to!” Benjamin’s voice said. Except it wasn’t his voice. It was harsh and cruel; completely different from the innocent little boy it had been before.
Merlin snapped his head round.
“Kea jama lefrea nomondea lefta com thantro.” The boy ignored Merlin and began muttering quietly, malice dripping from his voice.
Merlin, with a jolt realized that the words the boy had spoken were of the magical kind. Unfortunately he realized too late.