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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: 212 Rate: 0.00/1
3.

Merlin inspected his shoulder while the others were sleeping. When he had been in Middle Earth before, an orc had fired an arrow into him and, although the wound had disappeared when he had travelled back to London, he still felt an aching twinge now and then. What worried him now were teeth marks and a grey smudge on his white skin. The scratch marks over the rest of his body were disappearing fast, but his shoulder felt stiff and ached continuously.

The sound of muffling came from behind him and he turned to look fondly at Arthur, curled up around the space where Merlin had been sleeping. He went back to his lover, all thoughts of his wound forgotten as he snuggled back into place. He turned his head to look at the other sleeping forms and noticed Celimdol standing near the clearing’s edge staring into the rolling midst. Did elves ever sleep?

“The mists are thinning my lord,” he said without looking at the dark haired youth.

“What else do you see?” Merlin whispered.

“Dreams within dreams. Worlds within worlds. My mother. Myself. My brother.” The elf bowed his head. “Do you think Cynan still lives?”

“I’m sure of it mate. We’ll find him.”

Celimdol slightly nodded and looked up to stare into the mists once more. “Sleep my friend,” he said in a sad voice. “Sleep, for we should arrive within the next few hours.”

Disturbed, Merlin closed his eyes and found comfort in Arthur’s strong and loving embrace.

He dreams…

Anharadeth is before a large wooden gate in front of three men bearing maces. “Let me pass, Sergeant Rushlight, or you will rue the day that you were ever born.” She has a bay mare behind her and Cathbach is at her feet, spitting.

A short man puffs up with self importance and steps forwards, wary of the lynx. “Bree is closed until further notice. We’ve had too many refuges coming up from the south. Don’t know what’s happening down there, but we’re not going to be swamped!”

Anharadeth sighed in irritation. “Do I look like a refugee in your pathetic eyes, little man?”

“The Mayor says_”

“The Mayor will answer to me, fool. Tents and blankets need to be provided if these poor souls have to make do outside the town. Move aside, imbecile,” and the lore master pushes pass him, leading her horse.

Sergeant Rushlight splutters fruitlessly and then he stars at his two grinning watchers. They stand to attention and the dreamer cheers…

The hunter runs. Through a land of dead trees and burial mounds along a broken road, man sized wolves stalk him, keep up with him, but he is unconcerned. He does not head north towards the ruined fortress in the distance but veers west and sprints up to a stony mound; his stance when he reaches the top is one of defiance. “Come then mongrels, dogs, wargs. Come and meet death.”

The wolf-like beings charge from all directions and the hunter spins and somersaults, delivering death wherever his blades land. The battle is quick and bloody and the dreamer feels sick to the stomach. The creatures retreat, cowed, but then a much larger warg approaches.

“Elf-flesh dares invade my land. I will gnaw on your bones.”

Mad is the gleam in the hunter’s eyes and he holds his bloodied blades in a battle stance. “Come then pack leader. Try and gnaw on this elf.”

No teeth or claw touches the hunter, but his claws, his blades are merciless. The fight is short, the warg dies. The hunter looks up and to one side to stare at the dreamer and his eyes briefly look concerned. “Do not follow me my friend. Look after my brother. Tell Myfanwy…I go to my death. I go…I…”

The hunter shakes his head, grins, nods once and sprints westwards…

Grey mists and a voice in the dreamer’s mind. “Flee, you fool. I am in a midst of a battle to save Gallantine and I cannot protect your dreamself for long from Him. Wake up!”

Fear and death grips his heart. His shoulder is so ice-cold it pains him. The dreamer wakes. The dreamer screams…

They are all around Merlin and he stops his struggling in Arthur’s arms. Morgana looks into his face, fear etched in her hers.

“I saw. I felt…oh Merlin,” she grasps his hand.

Merlin stood up shakily with the help of Arthur. “I’m fine, bad dream is all.” He saw the sun shining all about and he was on a grassy hill with buttercups dotted around. He reached out and gingerly touched the standing stone that was beside him. “We made it. We’re here. Middle Earth.”

“Yeah, you and Morgana were asleep and we couldn’t wake you,” said Arthur, a look of concern in his face. “Are you okay? You look like death.”

“I’m fine, just leave me alone. Fucking hell!” Merlin shouted in irritation. He strode down the hill towards the Brewers Mansion. He was sick of being the weak one of their group, of not having a weapon. Even Gwen had her medical knowledge, he had only stupid dreams. He was the first to come across a dwarf repairing the front door.

Just reaching his chest in height, the dwarf stopped his work and picked up a double headed axe that had been leaning against the horse post. He had long dark brown hair and beard, both braided and littered with wood shavings. His eyes were black and narrowed in caution at the approaching newcomers.

“Stop there youngling. Your garb is stranger than your friends and you have a traitor amongst you. You will not come any further or you will feel the edge of my axe!”

Merlin sighed loudly with impatience and by he time he started speaking the others had caught up. “I’ve been through a lot of shit to come here. I’m tired, hungry and Celimdol is not a traitor.”

The dwarf looked the elf up and down. “Last time I was here, sprog, you were locked up in the guest room. Your betters had yet to decide what to do with you.”

Celimdol bowed his head. “Mae govannen Master Bjalar, the outcome was for me to prove my worth. Before you stands Lord Merlin, a powerful lore master and his complement, my lord Prince Arthur.” Arthur shifted his feet, obviously discomforted at the introduction and Merlin’s irritation faded. Celimdol nodded his head at the others. “The tall one, dark of hair and skin, is the warrior Lord Lance and the fair ladies are named Morgana and Gwen. These gentle nobles come to save my brother. Cast me in an evil light, if you must, but extend courtesy to weary travellers that come to the aid of the Buckland Brewers.”

Bjalar put his axe aside and bowed low. When his head came up he eyed Merlin with such scrutiny that the youth felt as nervous as his lover. “A dark day has arrived when an elf, even one such as this, admonishes a dwarf for being ill mannered. My pardon good nobles, though ‘noble heart is shown by noble deeds’ as the old saying goes. I must finish this door. Enter the mansion then and seek out that rascal Aldrhod. He is with the Lady Myfanwy, for she is gravely ill and has not awoken these three days since I have arrived.”

Merlin looked with alarm at Celimdol and caught the fear in the elf’s eyes. “She can’t die, she can’t. I won’t allow it.”

Gwen and Lance automatically took charge and had their med kits out in an instant. The elf led them all down the dark passageway to the large chambers of the lore master. In a wooden chair beside a four poster bed sat a thin and swarthy man holding the hand of the golden haired elf who Merlin loved as a sister, even though he had only met her once before and in his so called dream.

“How is she?” he asked quietly, as the nurses went to her bedside.

The man turned his scarred face to look at the dark haired youth, tears running down his face. His voice was choked. “I am Aldrhod, my nobles. You must be Lord Merlin that my lady spoke of. You are too late, too late. She has just breathed her last.”

“NO!”

Merlin barely registered the words of Lance when he said “He’s right Merlin.”

“NO!”

The comforting arms of Arthur were shrugged off and he felt the throbbing in his head. Anger, despair and impotence charged through his veins and his vision acquired a golden hue. “This is my fucking dream and she will not die. I. Won’t. Allow. It!”

In a daze he pushed aside Aldrhod and put his fists on each side of the prone elf’s forehead. He vaguely noticed that his hands were encased in a golden nimbus. “Live, please live. You gave me hope, I give you life.” He did. He willed what little strength he had into her. “I can’t do this. I should not have starved myself. Should’ve been strong, for her. It’s not enough.” He yelled out his rage and redoubled his efforts, willing his very fibre into her body. Tears ran down his cheeks. “Live, fucking live. Please.”

Myfanwy gasped and Merlin fell, darkness his only companion.

* * *

Arthur was slumped down against the wall, his head in his hands. He had been with Merlin for two days and a night and he felt exhausted. It was only when Gwen had said that his lover would be all right that he decided to catch a few moments to himself in the cool air. He heard the newly rebuilt door open and someone joined him on the ground. Looking to the side he saw Lance.

“Thanks,” he said softly. “You and Gwen…” he let his words trail off.

Lance smiled. “We did what we could. Merlin did most for that Myfanwy. Your better half should be awake before the night comes. We just made sure Merlin was kept alive until he could look after himself.”

“That’s what I meant.” Arthur looked up at the hill and the lone standing stone and felt utterly useless. “What am I doing here Lance? What am I doing in this impossible place? No matter what Celimdol said, I’m no prince.”

“And I’m no warrior. I feel as useless as you. I know it’s real, I’ve seen too much to think otherwise, but it all feels like a bad dream and I don’t know what I’m doing.”

After a few moments of silence the door opened again and Celimdol came out carrying two long swords. “Forgive me, my lords, but I overheard what you have said. Please stand.”

They both reluctantly did and the elf gave them each a weapon. “I am young, this I know, but I have read your walk, your stance. I have read your hearts and they are noble.” He drew out his two swords, the afternoon sun glinting off their sharp edges. “Attack me.”

“What?” Arthur moved away from the wall, keeping his weapon low.

“Both of you, attack.”

“I don’t think so, I’m a nurse.”

“If you will not, then I will.” Grim faced, Celimdol struck against their blades, and they automatically parried in defence. Again the elf struck, but faster and continued to do so, keeping up the pace and building it relentlessly.

Arthur at first panicked, his mind numb. Then something took over his limbs as if he went into auto. He started fighting back and he noticed that Lance did the same. The wall of steel between the three combatants was a blur, and still Celimdol persisted. What seemed like hours passed and eventually the elf jumped back and lowered his blades. He smiled.

“Truly I see before me warriors true.” He bowed in front of the shocked men and re-entered the mansion.

Arthur turned to Lance, his breath heavy. “Did that just happen?”

Lance shrugged his shoulders. “I suppose it did. I never knew…I’m still a nurse first though.”

The blonde opened the door to allow his new friend through. “Think of it as a skill to keep Gwen safe,” he said, thinking the same of his Merlin.

The main hall was lit by many lamps and a roaring fire. Sat around a large table were Gwen and Morgana finishing off their meals of cold pork and bread. The shaven headed Aldrhod hovered in the background with a pitcher of a light ale. Celimdol was nowhere to be seen.

Arthur and Lance had already eaten, but they joined the girls anyway and the scarred man poured clay cups for them before retreating back to the shadows.

“I didn’t know I was so hungry,” said Gwen as she followed Morgana’s cue in using the red napkin against her lips.

“And Aldrhod is the perfect host.”

The shadow bowed at Morgana’s words and Arthur thought he caught a hint of a smile coming from the man.

“Thankfully there was a Brewer still standing that could fill such a role, for Master Bjalar has left for Bree.” They turned their heads and saw Myfanwy walk into the hall, her hand gracefully resting on Celimdol’s arm. “Nay, sweet gentles, do not stand, for we would join you to drink and discuss. Aldrhod, perhaps the elven starwine?”

The man bowed low. “As my lady wishes.” He brought out four decanters of a pale red liquid and started to place them and several glasses on the table. He then started to bring two more chairs to the table.

“Though you are a self appointed servant, good master, you are a Brewer first. Sit with us.”

Aldrhod looked nervously at the table and Arthur placed a chair for him between himself and Lance. The middle aged man briefly gave a smile of thanks as the blonde poured the wine into a clear glass.

When they were settled and their glasses were full, they paid rapt attention to the elf maiden. Arthur could hear the creaks of the old house, the whistle of a strong wind outside and the crackle of logs on the fire; there was no other sound as they waited.

The silence was broken by Myfanwy’s melodious voice.

“Kinsman, my lords and ladies, I have had visions and dreams while I wondered the halls of Mandos before Lord Merlin brought me back with his great power, though he was foolish to do so and I have admonished him for it.” Arthur felt uneasy but the elf spoke to him directly. “Be at ease, my lord, for your lover dresses and will join us soon. I have spoken at length to my saviour.

“Know this, gentles, the road you take is a stony one and with fearsome obstacles, but you will find your strengths and be the better for it. Your trials will take you far to the north in your quest to find my Cynan but you must rely on each other and do not disperse, for that way lies ruin. Of this I am certain. I have seen it.

“The armouries of the Mansion will have mail of chain for my lords Lance and Arthur and Aldrhod here will outfit you later this evening. Lady Morgana, you have the seer’s gift like myself and Lady Gwen, you have a small talent to sense danger or wrongness, though you know it not. I shall teach you to hone your talents.”

“Have we got the time?” asked Morgana.

Myfanwy smiled and placed a hand over hers. “Time is short for all mortals, but your question brings me to what I have to say next. My lover’s path is dark to me and, much to my despair, I cannot see him in my waking visions. Also, my own path is closed to me and my heart is heavy at my own blindness. Fear not my sisters, for that is what you truly are, we will have some time for me to teach you. I travel north in your company for as far as I can.”

Arthur joined the chorus of concern, but it was Merlin’s arrival that got him out of his chair and rushing towards his lover. He swept him up in his strong arms and hugged him. “I thought I’d lost you,” he whispered in his lover’s ear.

“Sorry I was an irritable bastard earlier. I just feel so useless.”

Arthur hugged him again. “You idiot,” was all he fondly said as he led the youth over to the table and Lance got the last chair in the room for him to sit on. Merlin was placed opposite Arthur and at Myfanwy’s right. She poured a glass of wine for him.

“I don’t want you to come with us Myfanwy. I don’t want you hurt.”

Myfanwy smiled and gently placed her hand on Merlin’s shoulder. The dark haired youth winced slightly and Arthur filed that knowledge away for a later time. “The Dark Lord as we speak casts his Shadow over as much of Arda as possible and we are all in danger. Too long have I been injured, expecting others to do what I should be doing. No more. When you brought me back you cured me of all my ills, even the cracked ribs the minions of Mordach Na gave me some weeks ago. When I woke I resolved to play a more active role. I am no weak maiden!

“One more subject before I outfit my sisters in dresses fit for riding in,” Gwen looked concerned at this but Morgana smiled happily. Arthur knew how much she loved horses. “Anharadeth gave me full authority and I believe she will be pleased at my decision.”

The elf lore master stood and raised her glass, the others copied her. Myfanwy’s voice rang true and rose in power and authority as she spoke. It filled the hall and their hearts. “As Acting Second Officer I decree thus; Lady Morgana, Lady Gwen, Lord Merlin, Prince Arthur and Lord Lance, I name thee full members of the Buckland Brewers. With your strength and noble hearts may you defend the land and peoples of fair Eriador. Thus I have spoken. Thus it is done. Kinsmen, I give you the Buckland Brewers!”

They cheered and drank from the dry wine. Arthur knew that he grinned like an idiot at Merlin from across the table and his lover grinned back, tears of joy streaming down his cheeks. As with many times before, Arthur also knew that, with all his heart, he loved the scrawny youth so much that it hurt. It was a good hurt.

As the crowd of eight laughed and talked, sitting them selves back down around the oak table, Myfanwy brought out a sealed scroll from a cupboard to one side and handed it to Merlin. “The Lady Anharadeth bade me to give you this when you arrived. She was most urgent and her countenance was sad. I have done my duty by her.”

She stood. “Come, my sisters, time for us to retire to my chambers and select suitable robes for your journey.” She smiled mischievously. “The men will clear the table.”

* * *

After the dishes were cleared away and washed, Merlin sat in a comfortable chair by the fire. He was alone in the hall for Aldrhod had taken both Arthur and Lance down to the armoury and Celimdol had gone to his own room. He still held the ivory coloured scroll in his hand and he breathed deep as he broke the red wax seal and unfurled it. Anharadeth’s script flowed across the page and at first he could not understand the words, but slowly they reformed themselves into English. He did not know whether that was the cause of his magic, of the lore master’s, or the power of Middle Earth. He settled comfortably in his seat and began to read.

My Little Lore Master

If the seal is broken and you read my words, then I know that Celimdol has succeeded and that you are persuaded to come back to us in our hour of need. I wish that I could be there to greet you myself, but I have resolved to close up the Mansion and move the Brewers to a temporary new base in Bree. I acquired a town house many years ago and I go there to prepare the way for you and what kinsman are left in Buckland who travel with you. I and my kinship are increasingly targeted by evil foes and I will no longer endanger the lives of our hobbit neighbours.

It pleases me to know that your disease was cured by Lord Elrond. I know this for Myfanwy sensed it so when you briefly visited us in your dreams some days ago. I am glad and fervently hope that you have found comfort and love in the arms of the prince on your world. I know with all my heart that Prince Arthur survives and thrives in his Camelot. I have not the sight of a seer, but I feel this with my very being.

Merlin, I ask of you more than perhaps I should. Take care of my sister in lore, Myfanwy, and settle her in Bree before you go forth on your travels. She is close to me and I would have her take over my role whilst in the town and help the people and what Brewers I find and send to her on my travels.

Also, my lord, keep close the elf who I thought once lost but has returned to the Brewers’ fold. He loves you very much for it was he who insisted that he was the one to travel to your world. I had wanted to take that dangerous journey myself, but perhaps this is for the best. Celimdol has seen too much in his short life and, as far as it is possible, I would protect what innocence and wonder he has left in his heart. I implore you to take care of him, but it is your burden to bear if you so wish it.

Myself? I travel south with my trusted friend, Master Bjalar, to gather the scattered Brewers this side of the Misty Mountains. I will journey to Orthanc itself if I have to. I have not Myfanwy’s sight, but I fear that I will find my end soon and that I will not see you again. Treasured are the brief moments we have had, for they assure me of one thing; even if Sauron does find the One Ring and covers this land with pain and death, then good will survive on other worlds. Good will survive in the form of you, most noble little lore master.

Be assured that I love you and remain your most loyal friend

Anharadeth

Merlin wiped tears from his eyes with his sleeve and a sob escaped from between his lips.

“My lord? Merlin?” Celimdol asked quietly. Merlin had not noticed when he had entered the room, some neatly folded clothes in his arms. The elf put them to one side and knelt in front of the youth, a look of concern in his eyes. “What troubles you so?”

“Nothing. I…just a letter from Anharadeth, that’s all. I miss her.”

“A most noble lady and I know she misses you too.”

“Look Merlin, I’m a knight!” Arthur and Lance came into the hall, both wearing chain mail and carrying shields with swords at their sides. The elf jumped to his feet and went to pick up the pile of clothes, his cheeks red with embarrassment.

“You always look like a knight to me, lover,” said Merlin raking the blonde’s form with his eyes.

Arthur flicked a glance at Celimdol and his smile faltered. “Am I missing something?”

Celimdol bowed in Merlin’s direction. “These are for you, my lord. Breeches, tunic and your elven boots you left the last time you were here.” He turned to Lance and Arthur. “Merlin was telling me that he misses the Lady Anharadeth and was upset. I…he needs you Arthur. I bid you all a restful night.” With that said the elf placed the clothes back down and walked from the mansion. He closed the front door quietly behind him.

“Merlin?”

Merlin took Arthur in his arms and kissed his forehead. “Just a letter from someone you haven’t met yet. Hopefully you will in Bree. Reading it just made me a bit sad.” He kissed him again, but on the lips. “Can I be your manservant and help you out of your armour?”

“That and other things,” said the blonde, wriggling his eyebrows suggestively.

A cough stopped their chuckles. “Get a room you two,” said Lance and went in search of Gwen.

They laughed as they went to one of the guest bedrooms. He made sure that the lamps were out when they undressed and climbed into bed. Merlin did not want his lover worrying about his shoulder. He would deal with that problem later.

* * *

Bedwyr stood before the green door and thumped it once. A female, passed her prime, opened it and stared at him in shock.

“I know what you are.” Her voice shook slightly, but he admired her courage.

“Hunith Emrys. You have a son who is causing me some trouble. I was going to find him to clear a debt.”

Before she could answer, her neighbour, Mrs. Jones, came out of her own house and stared at the two. “Is everything all right Hunith? Shall I call the police?”

Bedwyr growled low in his throat and turned to the frail looking old woman. “You will go back inside. You will sleep deeply in your bed. When you wake on the morn, you will forget all that has happened this night.”

Mrs. Jones nodded once and silently re-entered her home.

“You know me, woman?” he asked and turned back to Merlin’s mother.

“I have peeked behind the Curtain, many years ago.”

Bedwyr barked out a laugh. “Mage talk. My lesser brethren call it the Veil. Wolf runners name it the Mist. It all means one thing. A dance to keep Man from discovering our kind. Now, where was your son? He travels into a place I cannot go, but I would know where he started his journey.”

Hunith squared her shoulders. “Never, you will have to kill me first. I won’t tell you even if you use your mind tricks.”

Deep down Bedwyr saw the truth in her words. Her will was strong. He sighed impatiently. He had forgotten how humans could be so stubborn. It had been a long time since he had hunted their kind.

“You are in danger, woman. If I could find you so easily then others can also. You can thank the attention your son has gathered. Trust me Hunith, for your son’s sake.”

The woman shook her head. “No.”

A black van screeched around the corner and out poured men with guns.

Bedwyr entered the house and closed the door behind him.

“You…you entered without me inviting you!”

“Ha! Only a few of my kind have that restriction. I do not bother with such trifling rules. Into your garden, now!” He grabbed her by the arm and dragged her out through the back door. “Do not scream if you value your life.” Bedwyr wrapped his arms around the small woman and flew quietly up into the air and the black sky. Below them Hunith’s house burst into orange flame.

“This life is over for you now, brave one. If you will not tell me where your son departed from this world, then tell me where I can deliver you safely.”

Hunith went limp in his embrace, defeated. “I…I have friends in Trellech.”

“I have strength to take us out of Casnewydd and then I will have to steal a car for the rest of our journey.”

She nodded.

Bedwyr thought of the village of Trellech and the Harold Stones and knew it was a good a place as any to hunt for this Myrddin, this Merlin.
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