Merlin was still lying on his back, feeling groggy when suddenly a horribly loud grinding noise echoed of the walls giving the impression that the whole place (where ever that was) was crumbling apart. Merlin tried to move and find out where the bone-crushing sound was coming from and found that he could actually lift his head, which was a victory, if small, as he could only just manage to open his eyes before. He saw that he was in a huge room clearly from ancient times as there was moss, shrubs and cracks covering the time worn stone floor.
There were statues carved into the walls that looked like people that had been crossed with grotesque fantasy creatures with long spears in their hands. Most of the figures had deteriorated from the long amount of time they had spent there and they were missing arms, noses and other parts of their faces. At the front of the cavernous room was an extremely tall double door that was not something you would easily forget. It had massive patterns and symbols running all the way up it and like the statues had worn away to only slight lines and grooves.
Merlin gaped at this incredible room with nothing short of stupefaction. But what was the grinding noise that boomed and clanged deep beneath the ground? It was the doors. They were opening.
The gigantic doors were sliding open, scraping across the floor and the mechanism that opened them was crunching under the floor and all around. Its progress was slow and you couldn’t blame it, as it was probably up to a hundred tons in weight. Eventually they opened to reveal a small figure in a large sweeping cape standing eerily in silence like a ghost. The figure began to walk forward slowly, its footsteps tapping around the room, breaking the silence. As it drew closer Merlin recognized it to be the young boy Benjamin who had asked him for help earlier. It was still the same boy but he looked so different from the small wide-eyed kid that he had been before.
Benjamin seemed to have grown taller and had an older more mature look on his face. He had lost the baby eyes and had adopted cruel, harsh, smouldering, blue pits that if looks could kill Merlin would have died ages ago. At length Benjamin came close enough to Merlin that if he wanted to he could touch him.
“Who are you?” Merlin croaked, still under the effects of whatever magic the boy had done on him. Of course he knew the kids name but he wanted to know who he was and what he wanted with him.
“You remember Nimueh do you not? The one you murdered in cold blood.” The boy began to walk slowly around Merlin.
“Yes…but I didn’t kill her in cold blood.” Merlin replied. He wasn’t proud of killing Nimueh but he had had no other choice.
“It makes little difference!” The boy spat. “She was my sister.”
If Merlin had been on his feet he would have reeled but as he wasn’t he settled for widening his eyes to ridiculously huge sizes. Now he knew why the kid had look familiar to him earlier. The family resemblance was uncanny.
“You are Nimueh’s brother?!” He gasped.
“And you are a sorcerer like she was?!”
“She was always the more powerful in the family. I was powerful to but she was still the one who got all the praise. She would tell people not to forget me but they did anyway. She cared for me like no one else did and you killed her.”
Merlin swallowed remembering the awful day.
“I vowed to take revenge and nursed my powers to what they are today. I am far more impressive than you.”
“I wouldn’t underestimate me if I were you.”
Benjamin blatantly ignored Merlin and continued his speech, venom dripping from his words.
“And so now I have you. Of course I will not settle for simply killing you. That is to common, to boring. No. I have sent a letter to Prince Arthur informing him of your location. I have threatened to unleash creatures on Camelot if he should not be here in two days time. He has no other option but to comply.”
“And you plan to kill us both?” Merlin presumed.
“Do you really want to do this? You’re only a child!” Merlin tried to voice reason to the boy.
“And that means I am not allowed to take revenge for my sister? I think not.”
Merlin had to admit he had a point. The boy could only have been eleven or twelve at the very most but he had a very mature quality about him that almost gave him the presence of a grown man.
“What did you do to me?” Merlin said, referring to the sick feeling that still consumed his body.
“I Teleported us both. I am guessing you feel pretty ill now. People always do on their first teleport.”
“Teleport?! Is it hard? I’ve never been able to do it!” Merlin couldn’t help being interested but suddenly realized that he was being a little too friendly with his kidnapper.
“Not for me.” Benjamin bragged.
“Whatever you say.” Merlin snorted.
There was an awkward pause and an eerie wind blew through the room like a breath of a huge beast that made Merlin shiver.
“I am sure you would like to know where you are.” The boy suddenly said, once again breaking the silence and making Merlin flinch. There was something about this place that said, no shouted “SILENCE IS GOLDEN” but Benjamin seemed to have no respect for this warning.
“This is the temple of the heathen god of old, Ae’rathma. The Valley of Shadows is his domain.”
Merlin would have replied but he was beginning to feel woozy again and his head dropped onto the cold floor again.
“You’ll recover soon…unfortunately.” Benjamin said and without another word left.
Well…there’s nothing for it. I’m going to have to rescue him, Arthur told himself reluctantly, and I’m gonna have to do it alone. He had come to the decision that he was going to go to this…Valley of Shadows to the temple of Ae’rathma and rescue Merlin. He desperately wanted to talk to somebody about this newest plight but he couldn’t. He had just packed a rucksack and was preparing to leave immediately when there came a knock on the door.
“Sire?” A voice called. It was Gaius.
“Come in.” Arthur said, hurriedly hiding his rucksack and cramming the letter into his pocket. Gaius came in and stood quietly by the wall. Arthur was sorely reminded of Merlin coming to tell him to not go to a tournament or warning him about snakes in a shield. His insides sunk as he realized how much he owed that skinny friend of his.
“Merlin hasn’t come back yet.” Gaius said.
“Yes?” Arthur said carefully, not wanting to even hint that he knew where Merlin was.
“Don’t be. I…umm…he’s gonna be fine.” Arthur stuttered.
“He’s completely disappeared! Gwen noticed and she’s been asking questions…”
“Really…” Arthur bit his lip and rocked on his feet nervously. He didn’t have time to talk to Gaius when he had to find a place he didn’t even know existed until a few minutes ago and also he didn’t want to accidentally let something slip. He had a feeling that whoever had written the letter would know he had told someone even without hearing him first hand.
“Are you all right sire?” It seemed Gaius had noticed his nervousness.
“Huh…yes…I…umm…I need to go…away…Tell my father I’ve gone for a hunting trip or…or something…” Arthur spluttered seizing his rucksack and diving for the door.
“Sire?” Gaius said, confused as Arthur ran out the door.
“No time! Deer to be shot! Rabbits to trap!” Arthur called back and legged it to the stables. That was a little too close for comfort.
He saddled his horse and strapped his rucksack to it, also stuffing a map he had grabbed in with it. He stole a few seconds looking at the map. There was a bowl shaped symbol on it marked Valley of Shadows and in the middle of the bowl was a pyramid kind of thing that Arthur guessed was the temple. He was going to have to ride fast if he was to get there in one day. It was pretty far to go. He noticed that the bit around the bowl was grey, unlike the golden brown of the map but he ignored it.