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ArWen the Eternally Surprised
Author: Ria Time: 2007/11/22
Arwen encounters a strange monk and gains a little extra time.
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World Within Worlds
Submitter: Date: 2011/4/24 Views: 210 Rate: 0.00/1
Summary: Title: Worlds Within Worlds
Rating: PG-13 (some violence and Merlin tends to swear, a lot)
Disclaimer: Owned by Shine, BBC, Tolkien Estates, and Turbine (for the internet game). Please don’t sue me, I’m only playing!
Warnings/spoilers: none in this bit
Summary: Merlin Travels with his friends. Is it into his dreams? Can he protect them?

A/N: This whole piece is based on my experiences whilst playing Lord of the Rings Online and my characters in the kinship Buckland Brewers are used here. The pre-sequel is at my journal and, for the life of me, I can not form a link at this time of night (it has been a looong day and I am definitely technophobic. Woe is me!)!!!

A/n2: OK, sober(ish) and wishing it was easier to put in links, the back story should be here, I hope:
Keywords: lotro shire slash


He dreams…

The elf hunter runs. Through woods does he sprint, his lungs burning and his breath laboured. Twigs of dark trees claw at him, leaving their marks on his face and hands, snagging his flowing black hair, but he does not care. He runs.

His leather jerkin is cut in many places and from one of them, on the shoulder, dried blood clots. It is his own, the brown scab joining the patches of the blood of others that he carries. He does not care.

Suddenly the hunter stops and looks to one side and slightly up, looking straight at the dreamer. The face looks so young, but the grey eyes are ancient. The elf smiles, a manic one. He nods once in the dreamer’s direction and continues. He runs…

The dreamer now sees a small, windswept hill crowned by a lone standing stone. It is early summer and buttercups dot the lush grass. Near the stone stand two elves and a woman. The latter is tall and proud and holds a sapphire topped staff in her hand. An elf maiden holds a similar staff, but it has an emerald and she holds a scroll, a map. She turns to her fellow elf.

“Warrior of Mirkwood, you will do this? There is no guarantee that you will be able to return. He helped us once and showed his power when he fought against the vampire of the First Age. However, he may baulk at returning to this land.” She hands over the scroll.

The young elf, who looks so much like the running hunter, smiles slightly, shyly. “For my brother, my lady, I will travel to this…reflection of Arda. I doubt not that the lord of London via Wales will help us, for he has shown great courage and love and will not abandon us.”

“Pray that is so,” says the woman, her voice stern and commanding. “Myfanwy here has scried the nodes of power that the strange land holds and you know what to say. May the Valar be with you.”

The elf maiden gasps and looks up, straight into the direction of the dreamer. “My lord, help us I beg you. Help us find my lover.” Her green eyes widen in alarm. “My lord! Wake up from your slumber, for I fear the Witchking listens in. Wake up…”

This part of the dream dissolves to be replaced with the image of a black cowled being crowned in iron. “Fools the so called defenders of Eriador are. My servants are in place, the trap is set. Come and spring it.”

The scream of terror and death fills the dreamer’s mind and…he wakes.

* * *

Merlin opens his eyes and realises that it is his screaming that has joined the sound of his mobile. He is on top of the duvet, naked and sweating, even though there is a slight chill in the deepest night of early spring. He fumbles for the ‘phone and sees that the call is from Morgana and it is four in the morning.

“Fuck!” Dumping the mobile aside, he carefully walks to the sink of his bedsit. The mobile stops its wail. Sketches litter the floor; drawings of elves, of a single storey building with round windows and a shattered front door, of Arthur wielding a sword, of Arthur on a black stallion, of Arthur fighting four orcs, of Arthur…a lot of pictures of Arthur.

Merlin sets aside a pile of dirty dishes and lets out a long sigh while he fills a fairly clean coffee mug with water. “It always comes down to you.”

He looks down at his feet and his attention is drawn to the headline of a week old Metro. “Savage Attack of Sewage Worker by Child”. “Yeah, underneath Brixton where I live, I know. That little shit…”

He takes the mug back to his bed and places it carefully on the floor, next to the mobile. Merlin picks up one of his sketch books and finds a clean page. He thinks back to his dream, of the running hunter, the name on the tip of his tongue. Eventually, another sigh escapes his lips and the duvet is pulled about his shoulders. He starts to sketch.

* * *

Arthur looked up at the old, Victorian building and sees a light shine through the heavy curtainsn on the top floor. He assumed it was Merlin’s. Squinting down at the piece of paper in his hand, and cursing his own handwriting, he checks the address a second time and takes the few steps up to the front door.

After pressing the bell for flat eight a third time, Arthur whirled around when he heard a giggling sound. Before him was the ugliest looking child he had ever come across. Green scabby skin, pointed ears that stuck out from his bald head and sharp little teeth did nothing for his looks. He wore a stained cloak and tunic that came down to his knees, but the blonde’s attention was drawn to the wicked curved blade in his hand.

“Er, you’re not a kid are you?” Arthur took a step back and felt the door behind him. The door gave way and it took his quick reflexes not to fall onto his backside.

“Manc hate this world, don’t he, yes he does. Manc has special knife back. Manc is going to use it!” Manc sprang up the steps and waved the blade before him.

Arthur grabbed the wrist of the short thing (dwarf?) and, keeping the knife away from him, kicked Manc in the balls, twice. “Don’t mess with a rugby player,” he shouted as the creature dropped the blade onto the dirty floor, howled in pain and ran out into the street while he cupped his tender nether regions with both hands.

“Bloody muggers!” Arthur was tempted to call the police, but he new they would only ask dumb questions, fill in some forms and then go onto the next crime. Instead he picked up the knife dumped it in the glove compartment of his car. He noticed a small rip in his favourite rugby shirt and cursed under his breath. It started to rain heavily. “Great.”

Arthur ran back into the house and took the stairs two at a time until he reached the top. It only took a moment for him to get his breath back and, after he ran his fingers through his damp hair, he thumped on the door of number eight.

“Merlin, it’s me, Arthur. Open up.” Silence. “I know you’re in there. Will said you didn’t arrive at his dungeon and dragon’s thing last night and Morgan’s been ringing you for hours. Lance said you don’t answer your door and you haven’t left this house today.” More silence. “Dammit Merlin, open this door or I will knock it down, you know I will.”

The door is opened and the first thing Arthur notices is that Merlin is naked with just a duvet wrapped around his shoulders. The boy is skinny and pale, more than usual. The second thing is the stench of sweat, piss and mouldy food.

“Christ Merlin, I’m away for a week and you let yourself go. And you’re bruised all over!” The bruises are yellow and fading, but they still mar the white expanse of his stomach and chest. Arthur is about to step forward to hug him but Merlin pulls away and shuffles back to his bed. Arthur forced his irritation and hurt down and closed the door quietly behind him.

Arthur scans the room, taking in the sink, shower, wardrobe, chest of drawers, the sketches on the floor and walls and finally back to Merlin, who stares at the floor. “What’s going on?” He asks quietly. After taking two steps towards his lover, he clears his throat and asks again. “What’s happened?” His fingers brush Merlin’s hair and the black haired youth jumps from the bed, leaving the duvet behind.

“Don’t touch me! I’m diseased, I’m filth. I’ll ruin both you and Morgana’s life.”

“We’ve been through this before. I love you and I don’t give a shit what you’ve got and what has this got to do with Morgana anyway?” Arthur takes another step forward. He ached to take his lover in his arms, wanted to make sure that the look of hurt and despair never again appears on Merlin’s face.

“I’m high maintenance and will drag you down. Just…stop loving me.” That hurt. “Val said._” Merlin clamped his mouth shut and looked down again.

“What did he say?” Arthur nearly growled. “Merlin, what did Val say?”

So quiet that Arthur had to strain to hear him speak, Merlin answered. “He said that your… your father is concerned. That Morgana has grown too attached to me and that…that you are infatuated, that I won’t live long and will only bring you down. Val said I was a diseased queer and you deserve better. He used his fists to drive the point home and said you used to hate my kind and did the same. Just go Arthur, just go. I…I don’t love you anymore.” Merlin body shook in silent sobs and Arthur wrapped his arms around him, holding tight until his lover stopped struggling and started crying onto his shoulder. He was surprised at how fragile and bony Merlin felt.

“You idiot. I promised when you were in hospital, didn’t I? I’ll never leave you.” Merlin’s sobbing eventually stopped and he hesitatingly wrapped his arms around Arthur’s body. “We’ve known each other for exactly eight weeks give or take a few hours, and I know you love me so stop trying to protect me by running away. Please, you just hurt us both.”

Merlin sobbed again. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” he wailed over and over again until Arthur stroked his hair and made shushing sounds to make the second bout of crying go away.

After a few minutes Merlin lifted his head and stared at him with his deep blue eyes. He whispered, “I love you.”

A warmed glow spread from his heart throughout his whole body, as it always did when Merlin uttered those words, and Arthur smiled and squeezed him gently. “Get dressed. This is the first and last time I’m coming to your place. Time to find you another one.” The dark haired youth simply nodded and pulled on the cleanest looking shirt and his favourite skinny black jeans.

It was then that Arthur noticed something crawling over the pillow. “Merlin, there’s a cockroach on your bed!”

“I’ve named him Nobbie.”

Arthur helped him with his red trainers and parka and, at Merlin’s insistence, scooped up the sketchbook and pencil case, before dragging him out of the house and into his car. When he had driven out of the street and stopped at a red light, he turned to his passenger. “Never again, okay you idiot?”

Merlin smiled for the first time. “Never again, prat.”

* * *

He dreams…

This time the dreamer is in his own dream, atop a large hill crowned by a ring of tall and grey standing stones that overlooks a gleaming white city and a blue lake that stretches as far as he can see. A white tower is close to where he stands and from it runs an armoured man.

“Are you a ghost? I can see right though you!” The man is a youth, no older than the dreamer himself.

“He is no ghost, captain. Go back to your vigilance.”

The boy salutes, fist over heart, and returns to his tower, while the dreamer slowly turns towards the sound of the voice. Before him stands a very old man, his face wrinkled, with clear eyes the colour of the sky. He has no beard but a few days growth of white whiskers. He wears flowing white robes and he also carries a staff, but this one is made of a smooth white wood and is topped by a multi-facetted diamond as big as a fist.

“Are you a lore master too? I…I don’t want to see the evil one with the iron crown, like in my other dream,” says the dreamer, afraid.

“Ha, I am not restricted by their magics. Be assured, you will not dream of the iron crowned here, young one, for this time your dreamself is on a different world.” The voice is deep and kind and sounds very tired.

“Who are you? Where is this place? What am I doing here?”

The old man chuckles. “So many questions, but first answer mine. Do you know who you are?”

The dreamer furrows his brow and thinks back to his time in London, to his love of drawing, to his lover, Arthur. “I’m Merlin.”

“Powerful indeed and I sense that the connection to the other half of your coin is a strong one. Our time together, sadly, is short. Know the answers to your questions, young Merlin, and may they help you, for I give them freely and also with advice.

“I am known by some as Staffwielder Tarrion Caerillion, protector of many worlds and traveller of many more. This world you dream in is called Draconis Terra and the city below you is Gallantine, a bulwark against the tides of evil that sweep this land. You are here because I summoned you.” The Staffwielder comes forward and is only a foot away from the dreamer, from Merlin.

“Your world and the world you travel to are closed to me and, although I am busy with my own machinations, I had to speak with you, to warn you. Do not use the Henge for it has long been a trap for travellers. Powerful beings inhabit your world and it would be wise not to draw their attention. Use any node of power. I am certain that one as powerful and learned as you can find another.”

“Beings?” Merlin was thinking of politicians. They were powerful, but he feared the old man’s answer.

“Oh, you know what I mean, vampires, magi, the Sidh and such. Who knows what faction controls that little kingdom you live in. The last time I was there a version of you was helping the king against the Saxon invaders and the Sidh…ah, but that is another story and perhaps a different version of your world. I get confused in my old age.”

Merlin trembles and fear wells up in his belly. “I…I can’t do this. I’m nothing. I’m just a diseased little queer that is fucking his life up and everyone’s_”

Tarrion grabs his shoulder and squeezes it. “Shush, young one. Have faith in yourself and those around you, especially the one you love. Also, there is no corruption that I can see. Lord Elrond cured you by the power of the beings he calls the Valar. Also, try and learn how to dreamspeak in private for if I can hear you then so can others.”

“I will. Thank you, Tarrion.” Merlin whispers, smiling. “I’m going back ‘cause you’re beginning to fade.”

“Ah yes, even with our great power such communications over a such a time and distance cannot last long. One last piece of advice,” the old man raises his voice to be heard, for he and the land about him is nearly gone. “Use the blade. It is evil but it has its uses.”

“I will.”

Merlin sleeps contentedly and he does not dream.

* * *

Arthur leaves Merlin sleeping in the car with his leather jacket draped over him and sprints up to Morgana’s house, a semi-detached in Chelsea that Uthur had bought her for her twenty-first birthday.

His sister answers the door bell and he knows that Merlin is not the only one that has had trouble sleeping.

“Is he okay?” Morgana is dressed in jeans and a white blouse, makeup already applied even though it is six in the morning.

“He’s fine and sleeping in my car. Thank God you called as soon as I got back. He was practically starving himself to death.” Morgana looked even more worried and went to go pass her step brother, but he grasped her wrist. “Where’s Val, I want a word with him.”

“What’s that idiot done now? I swear if he’s done another crass thing_”

“He’s just been used by father to drive a wedge between us. Morgana, the cruel things he told Merlin...” Arthur could feel the anger that he felt as he had journeyed over build up inside him again and he let go of her wrist. “I’m going to take care of your boyfriend.”

Morgana looked into his face and gave a slight nod. “Ex-boyfriend. I’ll take care of Merlin.” She took an umbrella from the stand and walked to his car, her heels clicking sharply on the pavement.

Arthur took a deep breath and made his way down the hall. He was glad Morgana was on his side. They rarely met eye to eye, but when they did, they were a powerful team.

“Get up you prick.”

Val immediately stood when Arthur walked into the room. He had been watching some children’s cartoon on the telly while drinking a can of beer. The scruffy man put his hands up to placate the blonde. “Don’t know what this is about mate, but just calm down, yeah?”

“Just had a word with Merlin, ‘mate’.”

“Hey, cool it. Were rugga mates yeah? I’ve known you since we were kids and we picked on queer shits like him. I know this is just a phase you’re going through and you’ll be shagging bitches like old times, yeah? Come on mate, dump the little poof.”

Arthur saw red and smashed his fist into Val’s face. He kept doing it while his ex rugga team mate tried to fight back, but he punched ineffectively against the blonde’s body, his swings wild off the mark. It was only when a hand grasped him around his bicep and pulled him away that the red haze lifted. He turned to Morgana, shaking with adrenalin and he noticed Merlin in the door way, trembling and hugging himself. Arthur went over to him and steered him towards an armchair.

“You, get out” said Morgana pointing at Val, “I’ll have your stuff dumped at your work place. Come back begging then I’m thinking police, court orders, and some shady people I know.”

“Morgana baby,” whined Val.

She raised one perfectly manicured eyebrow and he hastily retreated. As he passed Arthur he muttered “fucking queer”, but starting running when the blonde rose to reply.

Morgana ignored them. She went straight to Merlin and knelt down in front of him. She grasped his hands and looked into his face. “I dreamt of you and…other things. You gave me a fright.”


“Hey, where’s the confident cocky kid I met at dungeon and dragons night?” Arthur coughed and she glared at him. “Will persuaded me to have a go when we, er, knew each other closely for those two weeks.” She turned back to Merlin. “I never told you that I have weird dreams that sometimes come true. I have about one every couple of years, but over this last week I’ve been dreaming of you every night.”

“My dreams don’t come true. They are actually happening, I think. Do…do you travel in your dreams as well?”

Morgana gave him a smile and brushed the hair from his forehead. “No Merlin, though recently I’ve shared yours. I’ve seen a man with pointy ears running; I assume he’s an elf. Mainly that and something last night that made me wake up screaming.”

Merlin gulped. “The hooded one with an iron crown and a face of shadow?”

Morgana nods in answer, her face mirroring Merlin’s, fearful. “Don’t think about that now. I just want you to know that you are not alone. I and my friends can teach you to screen your dreams, to make sure this Witchking, whoever he is, doesn’t invade them.”

Merlin laughs and Arthur is glad of the sound. “Tarrion said I should learn how to dreamspeak in private, though even that dream is fading now.”

“Morgana?” asks Arthur, disturbed at what he was hearing. “I thought only us two knew of your dreams. Now there’s others?”

Morgana sighed impatiently. “Arthur dear, why not brew us some coffee. I’m sure we could all do with some.” He went to protest but she cut him off. “The kitchen is that way. Do you need a map?”

Arthur ground his teeth together and went to make coffee. The last thing he heard as he left the room was Merlin talking about vampires and magi and Morgana answering that she had not heard of them let alone met any. His hands are trembling when he started to take three mugs from the kitchen unit. He clenched his fists and tried to control his breathing. Before it was just Morgana who woke up screaming saying things like “That bitch Sophia will break your heart!” He thought her unique. Now Merlin seemed to have some kind of talent and his sister was talking of others. Coupled with the knowledge that supernatural creatures might exist in modern Britain and he felt his world was falling apart. He forced his fists to stop trembling and he went back to the routine of making coffee.

“I’ve gotta keep in control, for Merlin’s sake.”

When he came back with three full mugs, he saw Morgana hug Merlin and then ruffle his hair as she stood. “I’ve decided that Merlin is staying here.” Merlin started to protest, but Arthur sighed with relief. He shuddered at the thought of his lover going back to the bedsit. Then he thought that Merlin would be better in his own flat. “No, Arthur, you’re place is like an art gallery not a home. And no buts, Merlin, you can pay a nominal rent out of your student loan and be my general house slave.”

Merlin gave a pleading look at Arthur. “Don’t worry; she has a maid visit three times a week. That and it’s no use arguing with her.”

“I’m glad you think so, because you owe me a new telly, I’m sure that one was scratched when Val knocked it over.”

Merlin grinned at him as he groaned, thinking of his bank balance. “Shut up, Merlin.”

* * *

Merlin lay awake in bed, a bed with clean bedding. He snuggled deeper into the embrace of a sleeping Arthur and was happy. For the whole of that Sunday he had talked and ate and made plans. He would go back to art college (he had only missed a week) and Arthur would pick him up after his own classes at the LSE, though Merlin had insisted that he was perfectly capable of taking the tube. His blonde lover was having none of it and Merlin eventually gave in. “Thanks for the advice, Staffwielder Tarrion Caerillion, I will have faith in my lover,” he whispered, his hand feeling the steady heartbeat of his other half. His last dream, though the details were slipping away, made him feel at peace. The conversation with the old traveller reassured him, especially the bit about him being cured. He had dared not mention it to Arthur or Morgana until he was sure, until he had got himself tested.

As he drifted off to sleep, he heard a sharp crack coming from above and, on opening his eyes, he bolted upright in bed. The ceiling was a swirl of green clouds with lightening flickering in them. In the middle was a silent, fuzzy image of men fighting with swords.

Arthur sat up and put a protective arm around him. “What the fuck?”

“It begins,” Merlin whispered, but Arthur did not hear him. Instead he dragged Merlin towards the door. When it was opened Morgana was there in the hallway, an expensive silk dressing gown wrapped around her body.

“You’re naked. Oh!” The last was said as she spied the clouds and image.

Arthur and Merlin quickly pulled on their discarded jeans and went to stand next to Morgana. All three of them watched as the images continued fighting. It seemed as if they were on a hill and quite a few of the combatants were against only one. The viewers jumped as a young voice shouted “No!” When the cloud and lightning, with its image, started to disperse, a man fell from the ceiling and landed heavily on the floor. He hit his head on the bedside table with a sickening thud.

“Shit, this isn’t happening,” said Arthur and Morgana placed her hand in her brother’s, also in shock.

Merlin was the first to react. He went over to the prone form and knelt down. The figure was young and had long black hair held in place by a circlet of copper fashioned to look like small oak leaves. He was dressed in a dark green leather jacket and black woollen trousers tucked into scuffed boots. Besides a worn leather satchel, the young man loosely held two thin bladed short swords. Merlin prised them gently from the unconscious youth and put them aside. He looked back at the face.

“Fucking shit! It’s Celimdol. My sort of dream was all true!”

Arthur quickly recovered and took charge. “I’m calling an ambulance,” he said as he went for his mobile.

“Don’t Arthur.” When the blonde looked at him in confusion, Merlin answered. “Look at his ears, they’re pointed. He’s an elf. The government would just take over and cut him up or something.”

Morgana knelt beside him and placed a hand over a wound, not caring of the blood on her gown or carpet. “We have to help him Merlin.”

“Call Lance and…and Gwen. They’re nurses. They’ll know what to do.” Since coming out of hospital a month ago, the five had fast become friends and had spent a few nights out together. He thought Lance a pure soul, but Gwen as a soul mate. He had already spent several drunken nights with her talking of the shortcomings and lovableness of men.

“And you’ll find a med kit in the bathroom,” said Morgana.

“I’m on it.” Arthur started dialling as he left the room.

When they had stripped the elf of his clothes, cleaned and bandaged and stopped the bleeding, and put him to bed, the three sat around while they waited for Lance and Gwen to arrive. Their patient was breathing evenly and they all thought it was a good sign.

Morgana took the circlet off and stroked his brow. “He’s kind of cute.”

Arthur rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, well, he’s a sort of kid,” said Merlin, “about thirty years, which is young in elf years. His elder brother though is something else. Broody and all muscley,” Arthur shot him a jealous look, “and you’ll definitely like him. He’s the running hunter you saw in my dream. Everything is coming back to me now…oh shit!” He remembered the time he had with Prince Arthur while in Middle Earth and he glanced at his lover, his face red.

Arthur narrowed his eyes. “What?”

Merlin went over to him and knelt beside his chair. He held onto the blonde’s arm tightly with both hands. “I met a version of you in my dream, sort of dream, and we kinda had a very heavy petting session in a tent.” Arthur’s body stiffened. “I’m really sorry. He was the spitting image of you and even had your name and it was just after our big row and I was missing you so much and I was very lonely and I thought it was all a dream and did I mention he was you in all but name, and he had your name as well, and he was you, and_”

“Shut up Merlin,” Arthur said and hugged him. He kissed Merlin’s forehead and then cupped his face in his hands. “No more fucking around with any version but me.”

“Fuck, I fucking love you so fucking much, because you are so fucking awesome.”

“And I think we need to fine you a pound for every swear word you utter from now on.”

“Anything you fucking want.”

Morgana clapped her hands, smiling. “You boys, I’ve gone all squee inside.” They both turned their heads to give her hard stares, but she was saved by the door bell. “That’ll be Lance and Gwen.” She quickly left the room.

Arthur kissed him. “I mean it. You can look at other Arthurs but you stay with this one. You’re mine.” Their next kiss was interrupted by a groan from the bed and they rushed over.


The elf’s eyes flickered open and a look of recognition came across his face. “My Lord Merlin and my lord Prince Arthur. It worked, the lore masters were right.” His eyes widened in fear. “My lords, I must get back,” but they held him down as he struggled to get up.

“Celimdol, you’re hurt.”

Celimdol shook his head and fought against their hold, but his efforts were too weak. “You do not understand. The Lady Myfanwy fell, surrounded by men with clubs and swords, and I could not get to her in time. I have failed even before I have begun.”

Arthur held his shoulders. “Celimdol is it? Look at me, I said look at me.” The elf slowly quietened and looked into the blonde’s face, unshed tears making his grey eyes sparkle. “I don’t know what’s going on here and a lot of strange things have happened over the last few hours, but I promise you this; what help you need I will give with all my heart. I think that Merlin here counts you as a friend and that means you are important to me. We will get back to your world and do whatever needs to be done to set things right, okay? Now I want you to rest and you can tell us everything when you’re better.”

Celimdol nodded. “Thank you my prince,” he whispered and slowly closed his eyes, exhausted.

Merlin looked at his lover in wonder, but before he could say anything, Gwen and Lance came into the room and ushered everyone out. He held Arthur’s hand and led him to the sofa in the living room. They kissed for a long time until Morgana announced that they were all having scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast.

Arthur won the race to the large kitchen table.

* * *

“So you’re saying this kid with the pointy ears is from another world and he wants Merlin to save his brother from something.” Lance looked at his girlfriend and Merlin bit his lower lip with worry. They had argued with the two nurses for over an hour when Lance had insisted on taking Celimdol to hospital. The three had talked of Merlin’s dreams and what had happened the previous night, going into as much detail as possible.

“It’s all crazy, but I believe it.”

Gwen smiled. “So do I. Morgana is the most practical person I know and if she believes it, then…wow.” They all turned their heads to where Gwen was looking and saw Celimdol in the kitchen door way dressed only in his trousers and boots. The nurse looked at Morgana and whispered. “Like wow. That face and those abs. I mean, wow, did I mention the abs?”

Morgana smirked. “I know and Merlin and I have seen him naked,” she whispered back.

Both Arthur and Lance bristled, while Celimdol’s face went red.

“Er, girls, elves have excellent hearing?” said Merlin. “What can we do for you mate?”

“I wish to know who this house belongs to.”

They all turned to Morgana, who raised one eyebrow.

“I…er…I mean to say that…” The elf went down on one knee and bowed his head. “Good lady, I thank you for taking me into your abode but I must confess of being a poor guest, for I have soiled your furnishings with my spilt blood. Please forgive me.”

“Awww, isn’t he adorable?” said Morgana. “Merlin, you’re out. This cutey is having your room.”

Merlin rolled his eyes as Arthur stood and helped the elf to his feet. “Come on Celimdol,” he said, leading him from the room. “Time for us to find one of Val’s shirts.”

Gwen squeezed Lance’s hand. “Only playing, lover. I only have eyes for your abs.”

Lance laughed. “I’m glad to hear it.”

When Celimdol and Arthur came back (the former wearing a figure hugging white tee that had the girls practically drooling and Merlin chuckling), they got another chair out to place around the kitchen table and the elf sat down.

“Gentle ladies and lords,” he began, “thank you for hearing me out, but what I have to say is mainly for my Lord Merlin.”

“Like I said earlier, and I think I speak for all here, I’m going to help all I can.”

Celimdol smiled and nodded once in Arthur’s direction. “Very well my lord prince, then hear a tale that does not put me in a good light and I hope you judge me from what you see now.

“As I have told Merlin before, my mother and I were attacked by orcs in the eaves of Mirkwood and she was eaten by them before my very eyes. I was taken south and sold to a slaver and…and he used me for his pleasure. He drugged and warped my mind to hate my Cynan, my brother, and he trained me in the use of sword and bow. I was used to bring about Cynan’s downfall and I thought my brother killed.

“This slaver worked for a great evil, a vampire of the First Age. Unbeknown to me, agents of this creature had found the royal ring of the household of Thranduil that my brother had lost centuries ago. I now know that the ring was enchanted and cursed and placed so that I would come across it when I ‘escaped’. When I had returned to my brother and had made peace with him, the slaver captured me again and conditioned me to betray Cynan a second time.

“That night when my brother found out my duplicity and disowned me…” Celimdol looked down at his hands on the table, his face flushed with shame.

Merlin reached over and squeezed his arm. “Hey there, it all came right in the end. Cynan became your brother again, remember?”

Celimdol smiled shyly and nodded his thanks. He cleared his throat and continued. “That night, that terribly and stormy night, Cynan killed the slaver and I thought nothing of the ring he bore. However, he started to act erratically and would have a great temper. Some days ago he struck the Lady Myfanwy and stormed out of the mansion where we live. She later said that the ring has an evil influence over him and it is slowly driving him insane. She tried to take it from him, but alas, she failed. The company called the Buckland Brewers are scattered and are too few in Eriador to mount a proper search and so we then devised a plan to come to you for help, my lord Merlin. Please, if not for me then for Myfanwy, who misses her lover so.” Celimdol finished and looked at their faces expectantly.

They all let out a collective breath. “I’m coming with Merlin to your world,” stated Arthur.

“Me too,” said Morgana, a determined look in her eyes.

Gwen looked at her lover and they both smiled. “Well, it might be crazy, but we’re in as well.”

Celimdol breathed a sigh of relief. “Truly the people of this land are noble. Now, all we have to do is find this Henge of Stone that Myfanwy told me about_”

“No, no, NO!” shouted Merlin and then felt foolish. “I meant, that place is a trap, so I’m told. Any node of power will do. Another stone circle maybe, or a standing stone somewhere?”

Arthur and Morgana looked at each other.

“I’ll go on the internet,” said Arthur.

“I have friends to ring,” said Morgana and they both jumped from their seats, the race commencing.

Morgana won. “A friend of mine said that a site from Merlin’s homeland in Wales would be best. A place called Grey Hill in Gwent?”

Merlin shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t know it, but while we’re near Newport, can we visit Mum? I’ve, er, been a bad son, kinda, if that’s okay with you Celimdol?”

The elf copied Merlin and shrugged his shoulders and Arthur was reminded of a child copying a grown up. It made him feel protective towards the stranger.

“Time is strange between worlds, or so the Lady Myfanwy said. A moment here can be a year in Middle Earth or the opposite. Also, my lord, the connection of a son to his mother is an important one and you must make amends.”

Merlin smiled his thanks and talk turned to what to pile in the two cars they would take to Wales.
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