A fic in which Merlin's scarf becomes possessed and goes on a rampage throughout Camelot. 'Nuff said.
Cloaked in shadow, a dark figure stole down the empty street, moving as silently as the dead leaves slithering over the ground in his wake. The full moon shone down from its lofty perch, bathing the courtyard in a milky-white light as the figure crept along the wall, peering around it, careful to remain undetected by any palace guards that could be posted by the great castle doors. Seeing no one to hinder him, the figure moved more casually out into the open. He now stood in the centre of the courtyard, looking up at a small window high above him. The window was empty, and no light shone from within.
The figure began to whisper quite, harsh words under his breath, speaking in a foreign tounge. They tumbled from his lips, reverberating off the palace walls, though he had not raised his voice. After a moment, the ancient words died away, and the figure slowly began to rise, floating up and up and up towards the window.
Like a ghost he drifted into the room, landing as lightly as mist on the hard wooden floor. There was a shadowy form in the bed – a dark haired boy, sound asleep. The cloaked figure looked at him with distain. This boy was the reason he had come to Camelot, Camelot where the ban on magic was at its strongest. By coming to the castle, the figure was putting himself in terrible danger. But it was anger that had compelled him forward, giving him little choice.
Looking at the sleeping boy, he found it difficult to believe that this was the murderer of his brother, his dear brother, Edwin. But as soon as they began to form, he shook the thoughts from his head. Like his brother, he possessed the same power, the same magic, and it had told him on the night his brother had died of what had taken place: he knew for a fact that this boy was accountable for his brother’s death. Stricken by grief and rage, he had sworn to avenge Edwin. Only now was he strong enough to do this.
He moved further into the room, sliding his gaze smoothly from the boy to his other surroundings. The place was like a death trap, clothes and belongings strewn across the floor, goodness knew what else lurking in their unfathomable depths. A small glimmer of red, half hidden beneath a threadbare blue shirt, caught his eye. Stooping down to pick it up, he looked at it analytically. It appeared to be a neckerchief of sorts, and a thought crossed his mind. The figure was not without a sense of humour. To feel the last dregs of oxygen slowly ebb away from his lungs, to be strangled by his own scarf, would be a worthy way for Merlin to die.
Once again, cold, harsh words began to flow from his lips…
Golden light flooded into the room through the window, indicating that it was morning. Blinking, Merlin opened an eye. A rooster was crowing somewhere down in the town below. This probably meant he was late. Thoughts of the mood Arthur would be in when he finally made it to his chambers began popping into his head, filling the young wizard with dread.
Hastily, Merlin tumbled out of his bed, landed on the floor with a thump, tried to stand up, found he was tangled in his bed sheets, fell over again, knocked a candlestick off a table, unravelled himself, picked himself up, tripped over his boots, went flying, and landed in a cupboard. Muttering a few unintelligible words of disgruntlement under his breath, he pulled himself out and began to pick up some clothes from the floor. Looking around when he could not find it on the ground, he caught sight of his red neckerchief hanging from a peg on the door. Smiling, he went over to get it; and after knotting the scarf around his neck, he hopped his way out of the door, still yanking on a boot and accidentally smacking his forehead on the ceiling.
Gaius had already left to do his daily rounds, so when Merlin stumbled down the stairs, tripping up over his spindly legs in the process, he tumbled into quite an empty room. Unfortunately, this also meant that it was quite void of food. He would just have to starve today.
Subsequent to inadvertently knocking over a broom, a stack of books, and an assortment of jars (the contents of which spilled out on to the floor and began to bubble and hiss somewhat alarmingly), Merlin raced out of the door and tore down the following corridors, coming quite close to crashing into several people on his way. However, he arrived at his master’s door quite unscathed – unlike a time when he had collided with an old lady, who had attacked him with a mop as a result…
For the millionth time forgetting to knock, Merlin shot in to the room, somehow managing to fall over his own feet, and ended up spread-eagled on the floor. Hurriedly picking himself up, he expected a wave of annoyance to come crashing down on him at any second – courtesy of prince Arthur. But it seemed as though Merlin was the last thing on the prince’s mind today. Quite the contrary, he barely seemed to have noticed his manservant’s presence, and was instead studying his table with great interest, one hand on his chin, the other dug deep into his pocket.
Wondering if the excuses he had had at the ready were going to be required, Merlin straightened himself up and waited for Arthur to acknowledge his presence. After some time – in which Arthur did nothing but stare, engrossed, at the table, occasionally tilting his head one way and then the other as if to get a better view of it – Merlin coughed lightly to get his attention. Seemingly quite startled to see him there, Arthur looked up, the frown that had been on his face while scrutinizing the table still present for a moment before he wiped it off, and returned to analysing the furniture.
“Ah, Merlin,” he said, “you’re early.”
Merlin, who had been about to let forth his excuses, paused, confused. He was over an hour late, and Arthur was not one to let slip an opportunity of throwing his servant in the stocks. So what was it that had distracted the prince so much that he was not taking advantage of these favourable circumstances?
“Merlin?” The prince’s voice brought him out of his thoughts. “I need your opinion on something.”
Baffled, Merlin’s brow furrowed further. Arthur was asking an opinion from him? Since when had that ever happened before? Despite his mystification, however, Merlin decided to play along, at least thankful that Arthur was not scolding him for arriving late.
“Oh, what on?”
“Well,” Arthur said, gesturing at the table before him, “don’t you think it would be better if it were…” he paused, “…round?”
“I can’t say I’ve ever thought about it, sire.”
“I doubt if you’ve ever thought about anything, Merlin.”
“It may interest you to know that I have thought of something!”
“Yeah, what’s that, then?”
“How to do away with you in your sleep one night for being a prat.”
A knife could cut the silence that followed this.
“I suggest you go polish my armour before I loose my temper, Merlin.”
“Don’t use that tone with me!”
“Merlin, I’m warning you…”
Arthur threw a boot at him. Merlin ducked. The boot hit the wall. Scowling at his manservant, who was now grinning from ear to ear like the loveable idiot he was, Arthur shook his head and moved over to the table he had been studying so carefully before. He sat down on a chair, reaching for a flagon of ale and drinking before setting it down on the table again and beginning to rifle through a small folder of papers, all of which were tedious reports from the outlying villages on how well the crop yield had been that year, and other monotonous matters that Arthur really could care less about.
Adamant to delay the task at hand for as long as possible, the prince decided to reel off a list of instructions to his manservant – something he enjoyed mostly because of the face of a wounded puppy that Merlin would adopt after being told to go and clean the stables for the fifth time that week.
“Oh, Merlin? Once you’ve polished my armour, cleaned my boots, and replaced all the candles, I want you to go sweep the guardhouse –”
“But that’s not even my job!” Merlin cried from behind a screen somewhere over in the corner, out of Arthur’s view.
“I don’t care – it needs doing. And once you’ve done that, you can clean up in here, get my hunting boots re-soled, and…”
At this point, Merlin tuned out of the conversation, and continued to scrub viciously at the silver breastplate before him with a small cloth. He had taken the armour behind the screen in the corner in order to remain concealed as he enchanted it with a quick spell, which was the reason why Arthur did not catch sight of the frustrated expression that was spreading itself across his face. The young warlock knew full well that the prince was only giving him extra jobs to quench his boredom, and it annoyed him greatly.
“…and don’t forget the windows – I want the windows cleaning, too…”
Merlin ignored him, and as he muttered a spell under his breath, an invisible hand started to rub the cloth back and forth over the metal. He watched with satisfaction as the armour began to acquire some shine.
Then, quite suddenly, something closed tight around his neck. He leapt to his feet, and raised a hand to free himself. He realized, with some surprise, that it was his scarf, and it tightened, slowly constricting his windpipe…
“…oh, and you mustn’t forget my socks, either,” Arthur was saying, quite oblivious as he glowered down at the papers in his hands that his servant was being murdered by an item of his own clothing, “they need washing, too…”
Thrashing, suffocating, Merlin scrabbled at the neckerchief strangling him, his fingers unable to loosen it, and now little lights were popping inside his head…
“…and all my swords down in the armoury need sharpening…”
Merlin crashed back into the suit of armour, trying to free himself, and yet he could feel himself slipping away from consciousness, and the scarf was tightening its grip…
“…I’d also appreciate it, Merlin, if you didn’t let all the dog’s loose again when you take them out later…”
Lights danced before him now, sparkling in front of his eyes, and the scarf wouldn’t come free, and he stumbled over, rolling out from behind the screen, struggling feverishly with the neckerchief…
“Merlin, what the hell are you doing?”
Arthur had caught sight of Merlin failing about on the floor, and quickly rushed to his side, sword in hand. Choking and spluttering, Merlin pointed frantically to the scarf around his neck. Arthur tore it away, freeing him, and yanked him to his feet, directing the tip of his sword to the scarf, which now sat in a defensive position on the floor, growling savagely.
“That’s my scarf!!!” Merlin wailed, and Arthur had to hold him back as he tried to go to his beloved neckerchief. “What’s happened to it???”
Having no answer for this, Arthur did not reply, but as an alternative, pushed Merlin back, trying to get him away from the scarf. The scarf itself was now pinching all of its four corners into what appeared to be legs, and it began to scuttle away, looking for all the world like a strangely shaped beetle.
“DON’T LET IT GET AWAY!” Arthur bellowed, giving chase to the neckerchief which was now heading for the door.
Catapulting across the room, both boys leapt at it simultaneously, only to land on thin air and a surprisingly hard floor. Scrabbling to get up, they both got to their feet just in time to see the scarf flatten itself and slip under the door. Arthur threw the door open, hoping to catch the neckerchief before it was beyond reach, but it had scurried away down the corridor.
Quite stunned by the fact a possessed scarf had just attempted murder on one of them, Merlin and Arthur, mouths agape, stared after the neckerchief racing away from them. And suddenly, Merlin realized something.
“Arthur…” he began, almost wishing he didn’t have to say it, “isn’t that the way to the conference hall?” He gestured at the corridor the scarf had just vacated by disappearing round a corner. “And isn’t your father there…?”
Horror mounting inside him, Arthur stared down the corridor with dread.
Sat upon his throne, Uther surveyed those in his courtroom with a steely expression. Before him, knelt to the ground, a man, whose pointed hat was slightly askew, was begging for his life. He had been found in a street handing out ‘Magic Beans’ to small children. These ‘Magic Beans’ were mere confectionary – or so he said – but Uther had thought otherwise. It was labelled magic; therefore it was magic, and thus evil. And of course, this crime could not go unpunished. Sorcery had to be quenched.
The man’s pleas fell upon deaf ears as the king waved his hand for him to be taken away. Uther watched the guards drag him from the courtroom, feeling a certain sense of satisfaction. One less sorcerer to threaten his kingdom.
Smiling to himself, the king reached into the paper bag, which was balancing on the armrest of his throne, and took one of the sweets that the man had been selling from it, popped it into his mouth and sucked it. They might be magical, but they sure tasted good.
Quite suddenly, startling Uther so much that he swallowed the boiled sweet whole, someone screamed, and stumbled back, pointing frantically at something hidden behind the king’s throne. Thumping himself in the chest to remove the sweet now lodged in his throat, Uther turned around, but he never manage to identify the cause of the screaming until it was too late…
A thing – red, growling fiercely, and looking vaguely like a scarf – suddenly pounced out from under his throne and latched onto his ankle, gnawing away furiously at his boot. The king leapt to his feet, aghast, just as the doors to the hall flew open and two boys, one blonde and muscular, the other tall and scrawny, rocketed into the room.
Breathing heavily after the sprint through the castle, Arthur quickly drew his sword and ran towards Uther, who was now hopping up and down on one leg, howling as the vicious scarf sank its teeth into his ankle. Merlin hurried after him and lunged for the neckerchief.
The scarf released Uther’s foot, and then tried to escape, but Merlin caught hold of it, only too late discovering that it was strong enough to pull him along. Yanking the young warlock down onto his stomach, the scarf dragged Merlin up the stairs towards the throne, causing his chin to bump on each and every step in the procedure. Hoping to loose him by going under the stately chair, the neckerchief dragged Merlin beneath the throne; but he merely slid under, unharmed. Perhaps it was something of a merit to have the build of a beanpole…
Arthur was waiting in ambush on the other side. The scarf was unaware, and it scurried out in to the open. Yelling a declaration of war, Arthur leapt for the scarf, but only managed to succeed in grabbing on to it. And now he was being dragged along on the floor beside Merlin, who was quite adamant to keep a firm hold on the scarf.
Seeing a door to the side of the hall, the neckerchief began to drag the both of them towards it, seemingly having no trouble in doing so.
“Bye!” Arthur called to the several stunned courtiers behind him, as the neckerchief dragged both himself and Merlin through the side door, Merlin hastily waving goodbye.
Next, they went through an antechamber, knocking over vases, bookshelves, tables, and servants left and right as they went. And then they were being pulled along a corridor, down a flight of steps, out into the courtyard.
Preening herself by the window, Morgana was most bemused to see two familiar figures face down on the ground, dragged along by what could only be a scarf. She blinked a few times; decided she was dreaming and returned to her hair.
“How are we gonna stop it???” Merlin cried, bouncing up and down over the cobbles as the neckerchief cannoned along with extreme ease.
“I don’t know!” Arthur retorted.
But that’s when the idea hit him. Perhaps making some unbidden attempt for freedom, the scarf was now dragging the two of them down to the lower towns. This did not bode well, not only because the floor around here got considerably mucked up by several horses, but because Arthur – knowing his servant well – knew that chances were, Merlin would not relinquish his grip on his beloved neckerchief. This would then mean the idiot would get dragged to kingdom come, never to be seen or heard or again. In some respects, this was not a total hardship in Arthur’s eyes, but thinking back to all those times Merlin had saved his life or been a constant source of amusement, quite brightening his somewhat boring and lonely days, the prince realized that maybe he couldn’t let that happen.
They were now approaching a chicken stall, the hens clucking wildly as the two boys and the scarf shot towards them. Each bird was in a small foot-by-foot cage. It would be just big enough to hold the scarf, and hopefully strong enough, too.
“In there!” Arthur yelled to his manservant over the noise of the frantic hens. “Direct it in the cages!”
A very nearly terrified nod seemed to mean that Merlin agreed. So, working together to bring down the neckerchief, both boys jammed their feet hard into the dusty ground. This slowed them down significantly, but the scarf still continued on its rampage quite unhindered. At this, Merlin and Arthur tried a different approach. Passing a long row of houses, there were props holding up the overhead cover for the many fruit stalls. They each latched on to one of these supports: the posts stayed firm, and they were brought to an abrupt halt.
Quaking with fury, the scarf lashed out savagely as Arthur picked it up and held it at arms length. After several futile attempts to lacerate his arm in to a million mangled shreds, it gave up and went limp, accepting that it was defeated. Even when Merlin poked it with a wary finger, it did not move, but instead only whimpered forlornly.
By this time, the hens at the chicken stall were clucking and squawking so frantically, no extra noise became audible when Arthur strolled over, shook a cockerel out of one of the cages and threw the neckerchief in to it, wanting to make sure that the scarf wasn’t lulling them into a false sense of security. He then thrust the cage into Merlin’s hands. Merlin nearly dropped it, but managed to juggle it around until it was nestled in his arms nicely. Strangely, the scarf within began to coo happily. Arthur decided to ignore it.
A few days after these occurrences, Arthur was sitting in the chair behind his table, fingers tapping impatiently on the polished wooden surface. Any minute now, still just as late as ever, Merlin would come catapulting through the door, trying to grin off his punishment. Maybe he would be merciful today. Or maybe not. It all depended on what mood he chose to be in when Merlin finally did arrive.
And finally arrive he did. Just as expected, the gawky servant promptly tumbled in to the room, tripping over his feet in his hurry. Honestly, gravity would kill that boy one of these days. Sighing, Arthur stood, seconds away from dishing out a sentence for his crimes, when he suddenly caught sight of the thing around his servant’s neck. No, surely…it couldn’t be…
But it was.
There was no mistaking the tattered red neckerchief. None of Merlin’s other scarves were looking that so for themselves. This neckerchief could only be the one that had mysteriously come alive, attacked the king and dragged the both of them through the castle.
Arthur eyed it warily.
And that’s when it suddenly began purring.
Arthur stared at it in horror. Could it be that Merlin, the idiot manservant from hell, had somehow tamed his scarf? Of all the things Merlin had done, this had to be the most ridiculous.
“Merlin, please don’t tell me that’s what I think it is,” the prince said, staring at both scarf and owner with repudiation.
“Tell you what what is?” Merlin asked, looking up from where he had been trying to make the bed, the neckerchief nuzzling his face as he did so.
“That!” Arthur pointed accusingly at the scarf.
“Oh, you mean Alfie.”
“You named that thing???”
Arthur had collapsed on the floor.