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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
4.

Although they had got up early and left the Mansion before daylight had lightened the sky, it took them the best part of the day to reach the small town of Bree. The lore master and Aldrhod sat in a cart pulled by two black horses with a mule carrying provisions and armour. The others rode, nervously in Gwen’s case, steeds in varying colours. Arthur had chosen a grey dappled mare named Morrowdim, which Myfanwy had translated from elf as “The twilight of dawn, when the stars fade.”

He was dressed in a russet overcoat which was embroidered in gold at the cuffs and hem. A white, open necked shirt and black woollen trousers tuck into sturdy but scuffed boots finished off his outfit and, although Arthur preferred his jeans and ruby shirt (“Leave them behind Arthur. We’ll reappear with them on us when we get back”), it was comfortable and warm in the windy, sunny day. He had elected to wrap up into a bundle his grey hooded cloak and it was strapped behind him on his saddle.

When they had all left the Mansion and the door had closed, Myfanwy had stood before it with her staff held high. “Mara mesta, old friend. These doors are sealed until a happier time. A curse on all those who try and enter you and do you harm. Do not forget us. Do not forget the Buckland Brewers.” She lowered her staff and sang softly in her own tongue and Arthur had felt a great sadness come over him. He put his hand into Merlin’s and they watched as the lore master turned and wiped a tear from her eye. She had then climbed into the wagon in silence and they started their journey.



The sun was setting when Arthur first saw Bree. It had many stone houses covering a large hill and was surrounded by a deep dike and a tall, thick hedge. A wooden gate had a small lodge just inside the town and two men with maces came out at their approach. They held their lanterns high and looked over the gate as Arthur was the first to dismount.

“What’s this then? Travellers from the Shire at his time of night?” said one pock-marked man, no older than Aldrhod. His companion was silent and younger, but gave them a wary glance.

“We have travelled all day and want to go up to the inn,” said Arthur. “We are the Buckland Brewers.” He felt a surge of pride in his heart at the last words, but only then remembered that Myfanwy was the one in charge. What am I doing? He thought as he wondered what had come over him.

“Talk is that the Brewers be disbanded and, anyway, Bree is closed to all strangers. Be gone!”

Arthur walked up to the man and stared into his face. His hand rested on the hilt of his sword. “You, sunshine, let us through right now and I’ll forget_ what’s your favourite phrase at the moment Merlin?” he said over his shoulder.

Merlin sniggered behind him and said “Knob cheese.”

“That’ll do. I’ll forget what a knob cheese you have been in front of ladies.”

Pock-marked squared his shoulders and readied his mace.

“Be at ease fair warrior,” said Myfanwy and placed a hand on his shoulder. He stepped aside, but kept his glare on the two men. “You are both strangers to me and I sense you are not of this place. Faithful watch of Bree you do not know me by name.” She bowed her head slightly. “Lady Myfanwy of Lothlorien from beyond the Misty Mountains. It is a dark time indeed when this town has closed its gates to weary travellers. Let us pass and I shall square it with Sergeant Rushlight in the morn.”

Pock-marked’s voice trembled slightly, but he held his ground. “Lady or no, elf or no, get lost or I’ll blow the alarm horn.” He went to poke the elf with his mace but, before he realised what he was doing, Arthur parried the weapon away with his sword.

“Try to touch her again, ugly, and it’ll be the last thing you do.”

Lance had his own sword out and went to Myfanwy’s side. Arthur heard the others gather behind him and he kept his blade lowered but still naked.

“Hold, my Brewers and stay your weapons,” Myfanwy said softly but her voice carried. “Merlin, let your power fade. I am unhurt.”

Arthur glanced back at his lover and saw his eyes turn from gold to their normal blue. He wondered not for the first time the change that had come over the scrawny youth. The blonde was not afraid, but felt even more protective of his other half.

“Right, that’s it. I’m blowing the horn.” Before the watcher could move, however, a small and fully armoured figure came running down the hill. He carried a shield nearly as big as himself in one hand and an iron-bound club in the other.

“Hail Brewers,” the little one shouted and bowed when he reached the gate. “My Lady Myfanwy, you are late but you are here.”

Myfanwy smiled and curtseyed. “Im gelir ceni ad lín, Master Bobdin, hobbit warrior of Bree-land.”

The hobbit looked up at Pock-marked and scrunched his face in annoyance. “Idiot, this be my fellow Brewer you’re delaying and she’s been delayed long enough! She’s an officer as well, so Lady Anharadeth said, and you don’t want to anger that noble of Gondor, do you?” He had asked the question with such a sly look that Arthur nearly laughed out loud, but he kept himself in check.

The two men hastily opened the gate and stepped aside. The Brewers passed and Arthur gave the watchers a hard, challenging glare. He heard Merlin chuckle behind him and grab his arm. “Save your strength for later on tonight, lover boy.”

“Those two are queer folk and that’s no lie,” muttered Pock-marked and Arthur turned at the insult. Before he could go back to the man, however, he saw Morgana poke the watcher in the chest.

“Listen to me, idiot. That’s my brother and a good friend you’re talking about. Another dribble from your sad ugly mouth and you’ll wish this Anharadeth was the one in front of you and not me. Got it?”

The man mumbled something.

“What was that little man?”

“I’m sorry, my lady.”

Morgana imperiously glared at the unfortunate for a while and then haughtily left him. With Merlin laughing, they rejoined the others.

The hobbit was talking excitedly. “…and Lady Anharadeth has gone south with Bjalar and she put me in charge until you came along. Can you believe that? Me! Your older brother has gone with her also but your twin, Lord Gilladrin has gone north to Trestlebridge to wait for this Lord Merlin…oh, is that you? Hello, it’s me, Bobdin. I’m a warrior you know, been practicing and everything. Can’t wait to knock a few orc heads, well, knee caps I suppose. And you must be so awesome, being a lore master with no staff and all that. Ooo, is that Prince Arthur, your lover? I’ve heard so much about him. He’s big and strong isn’t he? Perhaps he can teach me some more about fighting, seeing that Aneirin has gone south an’ all. Lord Aneirin’s my hero, you know. Saved me from brigands and everything!”

“Aww,” cooed Gwen, hugging the little hobbit to her side. “He’s so cute.”

“That’s me, a cute warrior. You are very pretty, for big folk, that is. Pity you’re not a Brewer ‘cos then I could show you our new den. Lady Anharadeth said to only allow Brewers in, she did. It is so big and got lots of bedrooms above and below ground. It’s not as big as the Mansion of course, but it’s really big and_”

Myfanwy’s laugh cut him off. “Breathe, little one.” Arthur let in a breath for the hobbit and he knew he had a soppy smile on his face. The lore master continued before Bobdin could speak further. “I have decreed that all these visitors are our fellow Brewers. Now go up to the Prancing Pony and order us some refreshments.”

“Wow, new Brewers. We always need new Brewers and I get to order at the counter, all on my own! Charge!” Waving his club before him, the hobbit ran the short distance to the inn and barged into the door.

Arthur heard a crash and a man shout “Not again, Bobdin. I wish you’d not stop rushing about so. You’re likely to do me an injury one of these days!”

“Oops, sorry Master Butterbur. I’ll clean it up and the Lady Myfanwy is here with a whole lot of guests. Nearly as much as there are fingers on my hands and Lord Celimdol is here. He’s not a traitor anymore and he’s still very quiet an’ all and…”

Arthur zoned out the rest of the hobbit warrior’s words and looked up at the building before him as they tied the reins of their horses to several post. It had three stories and both round and square windows, shuttered to keep out the chill. Warm light came from the open door and, on entering he saw a large common room swept clean and nearly filled with patrons. A group of dwarves similar to Bjalar kept to themselves in a corner, hugging tankards and talking in low voices. A few men were at the counter, leaning on their elbows and turning back to their drinks and talk after the disturbance. A few more with hobbits played dice at a table near the fire while a youth stood to one side as he played a recorder, a cap at his feet overflowing with coins. Arthur immediately like this pub.

Bobdin was bent over on the floor, picking up pieces of crockery and placing them carefully onto his upturned shield.

Butterbur, a large man with a white apron around his middle, bowed before them. When he straightened he clapped his hands in front of himself and smiled. “Always a pleasure, my lady, and for all Brewers come here this night. Welcome to the Prancing Pony. I’ll have a table readied in no time. Plenty of room and food and ale for all.” He led them to a large table and insisted on seating them himself before going off and shouting for help. Within minutes two hobbits came with full tankards for the men and wine for the women, before disappearing gain and coming back with platters piled high with meat and vegetables.

One of the serving hobbits bowed. “My name is Nob, good ladies and gentlemen. I’ll see to your mounts and cart. Enjoy your meal.” He bowed again and scurried out the front door.

Arthur tucked into the food. He had not realised how hungry he had been. He was pleased that Merlin was doing the same and that his deathly pallor from the night in his bedsit (was it so many days ago?) was gone. When they had finished and were listening to the mournful tune coming from the minstrel in the corner, Myfanwy placed her hand on his.

“Prince Arthur, you have shown courage and leadership. There may come a time when we will have need of it. I name thee Third Officer of the Buckland Brewers. Thus I have decreed. Thus it is done.”

Nonplussed, Arthur looked around the table and was met with smiles of pride and affection. He turned to Merlin and he had such love shining in his eyes that the blonde could not stop himself from gently kissing him on his lips. He then turned back to the lore master. “I’m a not a prince and…well...are you sure? About the officer thing?”

“Your breast holds the heart of a prince, good noble, and yes, I am sure.” She stood and they followed her action. “Come, gentle folk, let us save Butterbur’s kitchen from Bobdin’s mayhem and get him to lead us to this town house so that we may retire.”

They laughed as they prepared to leave. Arthur only then noticed that the minstrel had stopped playing and had left the common room. He shrugged his shoulders and thought nothing of it as Merlin placed his arm in his and led him from the inn.

* * *

He opened his eyes. There had been no dreams, but on looking around the small attic bedroom he realised that it was still night. Merlin reached for his mobile and further realised that, not only was he not in his bedsit, but mobile ‘phones and similar technology did not travel to Middle Earth. Curious as to why there was a warm patch next to him and not Arthur, he got up and pulled his tee on. I need a shower or this needs a wash, he thought as he crept as silently as possible down the small stair case and towards the parlour. If Arthur was not getting something to eat then Merlin would.

On nearing the wooden door that was between him and his midnight snack, he heard a mournful flute-like tune coming from beyond it. He stopped a moment to listen and an image of a meadow filled with wild flowers and buzzing bees came to him. He closed his eyes, feeling sleepy, and thought it would be a good idea to sleep on the cold flagstones.

What the fuck? Cold floor? No fucking way I’m gonna sleep anywhere but in a bed with my lover! Merlin snapped his eyes open and pushed at the door. It swung open to reveal a room filled with smoked hams and herb bundles hanging from the ceiling, a small table, shelves filled with jars, a stone sink with a small cupboard to one side, and a topless Arthur holding his hunting knife at his exposed throat.

Standing in front of the blonde was a brown haired youth no older than Merlin, playing a recorder and with a triumphant glint in his black eyes. He glanced towards the door way and, with a sharp note, sent Merlin flying across the room to crash into the cupboard.

“Arthur, wake up!” he said from floor, nursing his shoulder.

His lover shook his head and looked with alarm at the blade he was holding. The minstrel sounded another sharp note and Arthur was pushed backwards against the sink. Walking slowly and playing discordant notes that made Merlin’s head scream with pain, the youth approached the blonde.

Merlin shot a look at his lover and saw that he was still against the sink, his body arched and glistening with sweat, his muscles bulged against the strain on the small of his back. “No, leave him alone!” Merlin tried to summon the golden haze in his vision, but the pain in his head and shoulder prevented him from doing do. He sobbed when he heard Arthur gasp in pain and he tried to shakily get up off the floor. “Fucking hell piss jizz wank knob tit twat! Fucking do something Arthur! You’re a fucking warrior fucking rugby player for fuck’s sake!”

“Seriously. Stop. The. Fucking. Swearing.” With a grunt of effort, Arthur swung the knife still in his hand with all his might. The blow snapped the recorder in two and sliced deeply into the minstrel’s neck. The youth looked shocked as his hands flew to the blood and he collapsed to the floor.

Arthur straightened up, dropped the blade and threw up in the sink. Merlin shakily went over to him and put a hand on his back while he handed over a jug of water.

“You okay?”

Arthur poured water over his head and rinsed his mouth out. “Yeah…you know…yeah,” was all he said and he started to take deep breaths.

They both slowly turned when they heard a groan and then a sickly laugh from behind them. The young minstrel stood up, a glazed look in his eyes and a manic smile to his lips. With blood streaming from his mouth he spoke with a deep, grating voice. “The bait is nearly there, my Lord Merlin. The daughter of Numenor has abandoned you, the minor elf nobility will not protect you, your lover and protector is squeamish in dealing out death; your fate is sealed. This minstrel was but a minor pawn and my players gather to their places on the board, but what do you have?”

A gasp from the door way turned their attention to Celimdol, two naked swords in his hands.

“Ah, the slave cometh. Know that your new master waits for you.” The young elf visibly gulped. “And behind you come the others; a seer who could not foretell even this night, the dark knight too noble to shed blood, the girl who thinks herself a healer, the burglar of Dale scarred outside and in, the halfling of no great importance and the daughter of Lothlorien who knows that her lover goes to his death and is undone by it.” The dead minstrel turned back to Merlin, “Your pieces are nothing compared to mine. Your power_”

“Yeah, yeah, tell someone who gives a shit,” and Merlin summoned a ball of fire in his hand.

The cadaver smiled, opened his mouth and screamed. The fireball was immediately snuffed out and Merlin clasped his hands to his ears and he saw most of the others do the same.

“Arthur,” Celimdol cried out and lobbed one of his swords hilt first. Arthur deftly caught it and, in a two handed blow, severed the head from its body. For a second time, the minstrel crumpled to the ground.

“Not squeamish where Merlin is concerned. What in hell’s name was that?”

“The Witchking of Angmar diverts his attention from his master’s search it seems,” said Myfanwy as she entered the room. “Bobdin, go and fetch the watch to clear this mess.” The hobbit charged from the town house with a shout of glee. “Celimdol, you are to ride fast north along the Greenway to Trestlebridge. Meet with my brother and see that all is well. He must know of this. We will follow shortly.”

Celimdol, after a look at Merlin to see that he was unharmed, silently retrieved his sword from Arthur, wiped it clean on the minstrel’s clothes and went to his room to gather his belongings.

“Aldrhod, please prepare our horses, but you are to stay here with Master Bobdin. Wait for any Brewers that the Lady Anharadeth finds on her journeys south.”

“As my lady wishes,” and the man left to carry out his orders.

“Sleep what few hours are left to us, my Brewers. I will prepare a meal to break our fast in the morn once this body has gone from this house.”



Merlin snuggled against Arthur’s warm body, but neither of them could sleep. Arthur had left the single lamp burning (“For your benefit, Merlin.”) and Merlin talked into the gloom.

“I didn’t dream which is good and bad.”

“Huh?”

“Good that I didn’t dream of this Witchking but bad that I didn’t dream of Cynan and where he is now. I bet it’s Tarrion thinking he’s protecting me or something like that. Next time I sleep I’ll try and visit him on his own world.”

Arthur sighed in irritation. “You’re talking weird crap as usual. I don’t want you endangering yourself. If it comes down to it I want you to look after your self first. Not this Cynan, Myfanwy or any other Brewer, nor me for that matter. You’re too precious to me and I know you; you’ll sacrifice yourself if you have to and I’ve seen it once already. I won’t have it.”

Merlin propped up on one elbow to look into the blonde’s face, his anger rising. “Where the fuck do get off? You don’t tell me what to do!”

Arthur gave him a hard stare. “I will when you’re too stupid to see sense, idiot. Now leave it.”

The black haired youth jumped out of bed and stood, towering over his lover. “You don’t order me around, Arthur, fucking Third Officer or not. You don’t decide what’s good for me. Don’t push it.”

Arthur slowly stood and Merlin realised that he was keeping his own anger in check, but the youth did not care. “Ever since the mists and I nearly got you killed and then you nearly died anyway when you healed Myfanwy, I’ve been terrified for your own safety. That reminds me. Since the journey to this Middle Earth you’ve been nursing your shoulder. Take your shirt off.”

The bed was between them and this gave him some courage. Merlin crossed his arms over his chest. “Fuck you!”

“Don’t make me rip the shirt off you.” Arthur had his fists balled up at his side and he visibly shook with anger. Still Merlin pushed his lover, not wanting to back down.

“Gonna start fag bashing like you did years ago with Val are we Arthur? Go on, hit me if it’ll make you feel better, but you can fuck off with the commands.”

The blonde’s voice was low compared with Merlin’s shouting, but it still matched the scrawny youth’s temper. “Perhaps I should get Celimdol before he goes. I bet you’d just love to have him undress you.” Arthur bit his lower lip as if suddenly realising what he had just said.

Merlin pushed some more. “You’re fucking unbelievable. You jealous twat, I’ve only got eyes for you, you prick. Celimdol loves me as a brother, but you don’t get it or you’re some control freak.”

Arthur swallowed once, breathed in deeply and started to leave the room. “I’ll get Myfanwy.”

Merlin panicked and ran to the door to block Arthur’s way. “You can’t. She’ll just want to do some herb shit or something and we’ve lost too much time already. Cynan will be even further away. Even worse, I might have to stay behind.”

“Good!” Arthur went to push passed Merlin but he pushed back with both hands against his lover’s solid chest and the blonde stumbled backwards against the bed. The glare of anger made Merlin flinch. With a speed that surprised him, Arthur made a lunged and gripped the white tee, ripping it in two. When Merlin was left standing in his smalls, much like Arthur himself, the wound was exposed in the orange lamp light.

“Jesus, Merlin! You fucking idiot. Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”

Merlin looked at his shoulder and saw that the grey bruise around the teeth marks had grown slightly. What was worse was that his veins coming from the area were like black tendrils reaching for his heart. “Like I said,” he said in a small voice trembling with rage, “you don’t fucking decide what’s good for me.”

There was a slight knock at the door. “My Lord Merlin? Is all well with you?” It was Celimdol and he sounded nervous and concerned at the same time.

Merlin slightly shook his head at the blonde. “Don’t tell. Please.”

Arthur’s face was grim and determined. “Come in Celimdol.”

The door opened and the elf was dressed as if ready to depart. He glanced at Arthur and then saw the wounded shoulder. His eyes widened in shock. “Merlin!” His eyes turned back to the blonde accusingly.

Arthur rolled his eyes. “Get Myfanwy. He got that in the mists when he was attacked.”

The elf nodded once and left them.

Merlin silently shrugged into his breeches. He was angry, but it was a cold anger now. Before leaving the bedroom he turned back to his near naked lover and whispered “You cunt!” before slamming the door shut.

* * *

Bedwyr bent low to inspect the foot of the standing stone. A small patch or ground was charred. The warrior sensed that the air was charged, as if magic had been recently used in the area.

He walked a short distance from the three stones and, turning to mist, he sank into the ground. He would wait. If they came back during the day time, then Bedwyr would track them when he was able. If they came back during the night, then he would act. Either way, Merlin would be within his grasp.
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