“This is getting ridiculous! He’s never been this late before!” Arthur told a wall angrily. He wanted his clothes and when he had gone to where all the castle clothes where cleaned the people there had said they had not seen Merlin for ages and had most definitely not seen him yesterday.
Well there was nothing for it; he was going to have to search everywhere again. He thought he might as well start at Gaius’s office, as that was probably the most likely place he would find Merlin so he started trudging off to the physician’s quarters yet again.
He briefly reflected that he had never gone to the physicians place so many times in one week. This would be his third visit in two days. Gaius must be quite sick of seeing him by now. However, Arthur eventually arrived at the doctor’s door and knocked loudly on it.
“Merlin? Is that you?” The door flung open and an angry face of Gaius showed itself.
“So he hasn’t come back since yesterday then I take it?” Arthur said, letting himself in as Gaius went bustling away.
“No, I haven’t seen him since yesterday morning. His bed hasn’t been slept in, all of his things are still there and I’ve been in here all day yesterday and today and I haven’t seen a sign of him! I don’t have a clue where he is.” Gaius looked rather flustered.
“Nobody has seen him in the laundry room ether. The carpenter has the chair and the I imagine he would have gone straight to the laundry room after that because he had my washing to do so he must have disappeared on his way there.” Arthur deduced, impressed with himself.
“Yes, that seems logical…” Gaius looked up at the ceiling in thought.
“And that would have been early morning yesterday so he’s been gone twenty four hours. He’s not done that before.”
“I’m sure he’s ok…” Gaius said in a voice, which told Arthur that he was anything but.
“I’m going to search the castle and town again. If you see him send him to my chambers and make sure he takes the washing with him.” Arthur said, making for the door.
“Yes sire.” Gaius bowed as Arthur left.
After another unsuccessful search of the town and castle Arthur returned to his chambers a mixture of anger and anxiousness stabbing at his insides. He was angry because he was anxious and anxious because he angry. He went into his room hoping to find Merlin with a sheepish “sorry” look on his face and a pile of clean clothes but he was sorely disappointed. Sighing heavily he slumped down on his bed and yanked off his boots.
He waited a few more hours in his room having nothing better to do until it started to become dark with the dull light of dusk flooding his room.
Resting his head on a pillow he stared up at the roof of his four-poster and wondered what had happened to his friend. Suddenly there came a quick sharp rap at the door disturbing him from his thoughts. He got up, went to the door and opened it.
That was strange. There was no one there. Arthur peered out from the door and looked down each way of the corridor to see nobody. Not even a hint of somebody. Thinking it was some servant on a mission to knock and run he turned to go back to his room and almost missed a small envelope of paper that was sat on the floor, inches from the door.
Frowning he bent down and picked up the parchment. It had no address on the front, just a clear space and no seal no the back. Forehead crumpled, he eyed the letter curiously and returned to his room. He sat on his bed having no chair to use and opened the letter, wary of what it might say. He found it to be written in a hand he did not recognize, long curly letters that looked almost foreign.
Prince Arthur of Camelot,
I am sure by now that you have noticed the absence of your servant Merlin. I, of course can explain his disappearance, as I am responsible for his kidnapping. Yes, I a mere boy have kidnapped this great warlock. But why have I done this? That is a question easily answered Prince Arthur. Revenge. It’s a dish best served warm.
I am sure that I have you’re unwavering attention by now if I had not earlier as much as I am sure you remember Nimueh. She was my sister until Merlin murdered her. I now seek revenge on Merlin and everything he holds dear. That includes you.
I am holding Merlin captive in the Valley of the Shadows in the temple of Ae’rathma. I will kill him if you do not turn yourself in by the time the moon is full in two days time.
But why should I turn myself in when that is surely a trap and it will result in us both being killed I hear you ask. Also a simple question that is easily answered. There are creatures in the temple of Ae’rathma that are at my command. I will unleash them on Camelot if you should not be at the valley at the time I specified.
Oh and by the way, If your father or anyone else should hear of this and I should meet Camelot’s soldiers at the temple I shall kill Merlin and unleash the creatures both. I am positive that you, by now have a great deal to think about so I shall leave you to think over this offer. Camelot or Merlin. Your choice.
Arthur’s head was filled. It was simply filled. He couldn’t think over so many things at once and he was having a brain melt down. Why had the writer of the letter called Merlin a great warlock? Why had he said that Merlin had murdered Nimueh? Arthur didn’t even know she was dead! What were these creatures that the letter spoke of? What was Arthur going to do now? His head was spinning and his vision was clouded with so many thoughts. He read the letter again to make sure he’d got it all right. He noticed that the letter had not been signed but he knew that the writer was Nimueh’s brother. Also he could tell nobody of this or two bads would happen. Arthur cleared his mind as best he could and read the letter yet again.
“Kidnapped this great warlock…revenge…murdered Nimueh…Valley of the Shadows…temple…kill…creatures…” Arthur read a few snippets of the letter almost on the verge of tears, not knowing what emotion to express he had so many. He rattled himself furiously. Princes don’t cry he told himself savagely, blinking away the tears. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, his hand holding the letter scrunching into a fist and crushing the letter.
He was angry. Angrier than he had ever been before. How dare somebody kidnap his best friend?! How dare they write such a letter?! How dare they?!
Calm down Arthur, he told himself. Getting angry isn’t going to solve anything. But what was then? He would have gone to his father or even Gaius at this point and consulted them on what to do. They had far more experience than him and could really help but Arthur couldn’t risk it when the letter had threatened to kill Merlin if he did. Somehow he was going to have to work this one out by himself. He suddenly wondered what Merlin would say to him if he were present. Arthur could hear his voice inside his head telling him what to do.
“Come and rescue me. You’re clever. You can find a way! Don’t give up hope.”
“I don’t know how!” Arthur told the Merlin he had created inside his mind.
“I just said you were clever! If I know you at all then you will save the day. You always do!”
Arthur sighed. Was he loosing it? He was having conversations with himself. He shook his head and lay back on his bed again, his mind going over and over all the options he had.