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The Unquiet Castle

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1 The Unquiet Castle on Mon 16 Jan 2012, 6:01 pm


Gwaine and Leon are starting to get the hang of running Camelot while Arthur is gone. How will the knights react when the castle itself begins to rebel against them? Meanwhile, Gwaine begins his quest to unite Leon and Lady Elaine in holy matrimony--or at least in a double-date.



Last edited by beeayy on Thu 19 Jan 2012, 11:09 pm; edited 1 time in total


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2 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Tue 17 Jan 2012, 9:52 pm

Sir Lancelot was surveying the castle early in the morning. Sir Leon had taken to calling training exercises at later hours, probably to accommodate the tendencies of his co-Steward, Sir Gwaine, who was rarely at his best before noon, so Lancelot knew he had a few hours at least to poke around.

That Round Table he and the boys were planning on bringing in as a wedding gift for the King and Queen had to go somewhere.

It had been Gwaine’s idea: surprising because of the blatant sentimentality of the gift, unsurprising because he clearly hadn’t thought how ridiculously impractical it would be to obtain, bring to the castle, and find space for. But Leon had been the only one frightened by the logistics of it, while Elyan and Percival had jumped on the idea of a proper quest, and Lancelot appreciated it as a token remembrance of the day Arthur had knighted them all.

The quest had been uneventful, except for the underestimation of how heavy the bloody thing was. It broke two carts on the way in, a few mules went lame, and in the end they all had to put their backs into it to get it up the last hill to Camelot. So it would have an amusing story--no doubt embellished by Gwaine--when Arthur received it. And then, of course, when they got it up to the main doors they made the unfortunate realization that the door was too small!

Needless to say, the knights agreed unanimously to leave it on the porch until a more suitable location with easier access could be found.

Which is why Lancelot was poking around the castle with a length of rope that had been cut to the exact diameter of the table: if the rope, drawn to its full length, could make it through a given door, Lancelot knew they could get the table through it.

The Great Hall was probably the best place for it, and if they took it through the back way and tilted it to get it through the door, they could just get it in. However it was, Lancelot admitted, something of an eyesore just off to the side--not to mention nigh impossible to move aside for feasts and dances and ceremonies and things.

There were, however, a few side-rooms, war-rooms, council chambers, etc., which, if the table fit, would be a fitting symbol for--

And which, apparently, as Lancelot muscled a dusty door open, no one ever went in. Or cleaned, for that matter. He was sure all of these rooms were used somehow. This one seemed to be used for storage. Lancelot consulted the door with his string, pleased to discover that the table would only need to be tilted slightly to fit inside.

Lancelot frowned at the cobwebs and miscellaneous furniture. Didn’t they have cupboards for this kind of stuff? Well.

He checked outside. It wasn’t midday yet, so he had some time. He could at least sort through it all, and have the servants organize, store, and chuck the rest. He sneezed. And have them dust.

The rickety bookshelf full of old tomes certainly belonged in the library, and Geoffrey could sort through it. Still. Lancelot was a great admirer of poetry, and the red-leather-bound folio as good as called his name, demanding to be perused. He plucked it from the shelf: A Gode Boke of--but there the letters had smudged out (though he thought he recognized a “P”), and a few pages were missing. From what he could gather, flipping through the weathered pages, it was full of love poetry:

One love feeds the fire
One heart burns desire
I wonder, who is crying now?...


Ah, this was good stuff! Lancelot had been in a bit of a rut, recently, and no one and nothing could fill his mind but a certain Queen whose heart belonged to another. Mostly to keep himself from weeping, he read out loud--

“Two hearts born to run
Who’ll be the lonely one?
I wonder, who is crying now?”


Lancelot spent the next several hours reading, and it was not until he heard the chimes ring out calling for training that he realized how quickly the time had passed. “Oh!” he started with a cry, and, clutching the book to him, ran to find a servant.

“We need that lot cleaned out today,” Lancelot said, pointing toward the anteroom in question, in his own gentle, unaccusing way of asking-not-ordering. “Take as many people as you need. The books go to Geoffrey, find a cupboard to store the furniture in, and chuck the rest as you like. Come and get me when you’ve done, I’ll be at the training grounds. Thank you!” he added as he ran off.

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3 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Thu 19 Jan 2012, 8:06 pm

“I’ll get these sword boxes, Merlin. No—it’s no trouble, I could do with bigger arms.”

Leon gave Merlin a grin as Merlin laughed, and carried one of the sword boxes onto the training field in his arms. Percival also offered to help Merlin carry equipment to the training field, and to Leon’s chagrin he picked up the other two boxes in one hand each. Sometimes Leon noticed that Percival got up earlier than he himself did, just to lift weights—weights being whatever he could find. Once, Leon saw him doing push-ups with Merlin sitting on his back. But most of the knights found it easier to bulk up than Leon did. Oh, he could do push-ups with the rest of them, but he spent more time running and practicing footwork than increasing the diameter of his biceps. It was what he was used to doing, but such exercises didn’t make him all too keen to work out in front of a crowd.

Especially on a warm day like this. Leon scratched at his beard, quite warm already as he set the sword box down. There were a lot of new soldiers today, as well. Arthur would be knighting the better ones soon, and Leon wanted to see who he ought to recommend to the young King. They also appeared uncomfortable in the heat, and fidgeted restlessly, looking like they wouldn’t get into formation without a lot of yelling. The morning was so warm, in fact, that a small crowd began to gather in the first rows of the stadium. It was mostly young kids clambering about on the benches with their wooden swords, and a few injured soldiers who were still recuperating, and…

Oh, no…

“Here, Leon, isn’t that your girlfriend?” Percival said, nodding in the direction of a covy of young noblewomen who sat down to watch. One of them was Lady Elaine.

“You’ve been at the leftover ale, Percy,” Leon said, trying to hide his embarrassment with humor. But he caught her eye nonetheless. She waved at him, and he put a hand up, trying to look dashing as he did so. She giggled and whispered something to one of the other ladies, who in turn also laughed. Leon gulped and turned away quickly.

“Hey, hey, Leon! Your lucky day! Ready to show off some of your moves for the ladies?”

Leon groaned inwardly as Gwaine clapped him on the shoulder. “We’re here to train, Sir Gwaine, not to show off,” Leon replied.

“Can’t you do both?”

“No.” he opened one of the sword boxes. “Are the candidates for knighthood all here?”

But Gwaine seemed determined to not let him change the subject. “Never understood why women like watching men beat each other up. Not that I’m complaining.” Suddenly he grabbed Leon’s arm and started jumping up and down. “Oh! Oh! Oh! Leon! Leon—take your shirt off!”

Leon instantly turned beet red. “I beg your pardon?”

“Let her see those rippling abs!” he tugged at the shirt. “Don’t be so shy!”

“No!”

“Look, I’ll take mine off. There,” Gwaine grinned as his heroic naked chest gleamed in the sunlight. “Now you do it.”

“Look, if you think I’m going to take off my shirt just to—“

“Oh, are we taking off our shirts?”

Leon and Gwaine turned to see Bors peeling off his shirt with relish, revealing his well-tanned back and shoulders. Other knights began to voice their approval of the trend and followed suit.

“Come on, Leon,” Elyan said, “You could do with some sun.”

“Wait—“ Leon stammered, thoroughly intimidated, “Alright, you lot, that’s not what I—“

“SHIRTS VERSUS SKINS!” This shout came from Percival, who ripped off his shirt and promptly tackled Leon to the ground.

“Percival!” Gwaine shouted, aghast, until he was tackled by a still-shirted Lancelot. In a few seconds the group of knights and soldiers were wrestling in the dirt like kids. That seemed to suit Gwaine just fine, after he managed to pull his face out of the dirt, but it took Leon another half an hour to corral everyone into formation, and by that time they all looked absolutely terrible. Leon didn’t dare look in Elaine’s direction again more than once, but when he did he saw her smiling just like before. She seemed particularly difficult to disappoint.

“This is *not* how knights behave themselves!” he said to the group, and, glaring at Gwaine in particular, added, “Especially knights of the round table.”

This elicited some snickers from the younger soldiers. “’Scuse me, Sir—but you might want to get your nice round table out from under all them chickens, right?”

The soldiers again chuckled as Leon glanced at the table. Indeed, a few chickens were perched on it, looking irritatingly smug.

“Yes, Godwin, thank you for pointing that out,” Leon said, pinching the bridge of his nose.
At that moment a troop of castle servants came out of one of the few doors the table could possible fit through and crossed towards them.

“Excuse me, Sir Lancelot! Sorry to interrupt, but we’ve got that room cleared out, Sir. It’s all ready for the table to be moved in.”

“Good, thank you,” Lancelot said.

“About time!” the soldier called Godwin said to one of his friends, and added, in a whisper that was nothing like a whisper, “That table’s got more shit on it than Merlin after he’s mucked out the horses!”

Some of the soldiers laughed, all of the children watching did, and the ladies in the stands looked uncomfortable.

“Godwin!” Leon called out loudly. “I believe I just heard you volunteer to move the table inside for us, and to scrub it down when you’ve finished. Five of you can help him. Sir Lancelot, go with them. The rest will get into sparring pairs, please.”

"Well, now," Gwaine said with a wink and a smile, as the soldiers scrambled into formation, "Who says you never show off?"


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4 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Fri 20 Jan 2012, 4:02 am

Having been relieved of sword-box-carrying duty, Merlin tagged after the knights carrying a couple of archery targets- a lighter load than he was used to. He dumped them next to the sword and stood back as chaos erupted, not doubt started by Gwaine. It appeared to be Gwaine, anyway, given that he was pestering Leon again. Merlin dodged one of the younger knight candidates as the boy went leaping past to tackle a friend into the general dogpile of knights and went to set up the archery targets further down the grounds. When he returned, it was to the tail-end of one of the candidates’ wisecracks about mucking stalls. He glared. First of all, he was good enough at mucking to avoid getting anything really nasty on his clothes- that was mostly mud and horse drool, because when you mucked the stalls with horses in them, they tended to follow you around and drool helpfully on your sleeves, and the back of your shirt, and your shoulder.

As the potential knight walked off, looking sullen with five of his buddies, his foot seemed to find a puddle of mud, and he slipped and fell down in it. By the time his friends had helped him out of it, he was as mud-covered as Merlin ever got. Merlin went back to staying well out of the way of the sparring knights, with a mischievous sort of grin on his face.

“What are you grinning at?” Gwaine asked as he walked up to grab a practice sword, and Merlin glanced at Godwin, who was still trying to figure out how to brush mud off of wool.

“Nothing at all,” Merlin said innocently, but Gwaine looked over his shoulder at Godwin and snorted. He went back to Leon and the two conversed about something for a moment, with a few quick glances at Merlin. Leon looked like he wasn’t at all sure about whatever Gwaine was proposing, but Gwaine gave him a friendly “oh, it’ll be alright, what’s the worst that could happen?” pat on the back and tossed his practice sword to Merlin.

“Hey! Merlin! Catch!” was really all the warning Merlin got, and he caught the sword sloppily, juggling it for a second before he got a good handle on it and stared at Gwaine.

“Would you stop doing that?” he asked, holding it back out to the knight as he wandered over, Leon following him.

“No, keep that. We’re going to teach you how to swordfight! Can’t have you flinging that thing around all haphazard like at-“ here, Gwaine seemed to realize most of the assembled probably didn’t, and shouldn’t, know about the three of them infiltrating Morgana’s castle, “Like the other day,” he finish vaguely.

“Are you sure this is a good idea? He almost cut Arthur’s head off last time,” Leon said worriedly, glancing at the sword Merlin was holding like it was a snake about to bite him.

“Leon’s right, this is a bad idea,” Merlin agreed. He finally dropped the point of the sword so it rested in the dirt.

“No, not like that. That’s bad for the blade,” Leon said. He took the sword from Merlin and showed him how to put it through his belt, lacking a scabbard. Merlin took it back when Leon handed it to him (Gwaine snorted, possibly because he would have chucked it at him again, just for an excuse to chuck swords about at random) and managed to get the sword stuck in his belt without slicing the belt off or stabbing himself in the leg, or the foot, or anywhere else. Leon realized that, however unwillingly, he was doing exactly what he’d just said was a bad idea, and shrugged.

“I suppose it can’t hurt. At least it’s a practice blade,” he admitted. Gwaine clapped them both on the back and dragged Merlin over with the candidates to show him how to actually swing the sword, while Leon watched from a careful distance away and offered pointers when Gwaine said something wrong.

It turned out Merlin wasn’t nearly as big a disaster with the sword as they’d all thought. In fact, with a little practice he might be able to swing exactly where he wanted it to go, instead of a few inches up or down. As long as everyone stayed clear of his reach, there was little danger of them being injured.

“Excellent! Now, can you move while you swing that, without killing someone on accident?” Gwaine asked, and Merlin looked at him patiently.

“Gwaine, go help those two before one puts an eye out of the other,” Leon broke in. Gwaine pouted for a moment and then went to help the two young men while Leon tried to get Merlin to learn the footwork necessary to sword-fighting.

“Look. Stand here, next to me, and follow my feet,” Leon finally said, going to stand next to Merlin. This time, Merlin managed five steps before he realized he was off balance and pinwheeled his non-sword-holding arm wildly trying to balance without moving a single toe. Leon hopped back and reached out to steady him before he could topple over completely.

“Sorry,” Merlin said with a slight grin, “Arthur is probably right about me staying away from swords.”

“What! Giving up already?” Gwaine asked as he came back over, and Merlin leaned on the sword.

“Stop leaning on it like that, it isn’t a walking stick,” Leon said with some distress, and Merlin put the sword through his belt again.

“You should keep practicing, Merlin. It can’t hurt for Arthur have an armed manservant,” Leon said helpfully.

“That’s the spirit! Come on, Merlin, let’s see what you’ve learned,” Gwaine said, but here Merlin drew the line.

“I really have to go, Gaius needs help in the library today,” he said. Before either knight could object he waved to the two of them and retreated, setting the practice sword back in the box as he went.

“At least it wasn’t the pet turtle excuse this time,” Leon said meditatively as he watched the young man practically run from the field, and Gwaine laughed.


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5 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Fri 20 Jan 2012, 4:29 am

Maeglin

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By the time Leon and Gwaine had sorted everyone out and given pointers on footwork and grip, they found themselves with a spare moment of breathing space just as they realized they were the only two knights unoccupied. Gwaine looked sidelong at Leon with a wry grin. "May I have this dance?" he laughed, flicking hair out of his face.

"Er--alright," Leon said, looking a little concerned as he picked up his sword. Gwaine always felt so reckless and untrained while every movement of Leon's was precise. It was irritating.

But it didn't make Leon's thrusts and parries any better.

"Oh, come on, Leon, you're so bloody predictable!" Gwaine laughed (predicting that this would get Sir Leon's breeches in a twist, which it did), as he gave his counterpart a playful smack on the thigh with the flat of his sword.

"Am not!" Parry. Repost.

"Are too! I can know your answer to any question without bothering asking you!"

"Like what?"

"Okay. You're going to say 'no' to this next bit."

"Try me."

"Take Elaine for a picnic!"

"What? No!"

"See?"

Leon ground his teeth and pulled out a few well-calculated moves that surprised Gwaine, sending him stumbling back. "You need to keep your weight on your back foot," he added.

Gwaine laughed in reply, spinning out and down, hop-skipping along to outflank his longer-legged opponent. The full effect wasn't achieved, though they were on equal footing again at least.

"Impressive," Leon said.

"You only say that when you're losing."

The clash of swords again.

"You know, Sir Leon, you're so straight, I can practically tell time just by looking at you?"

Leon knotted his brow. "That--doesn't make any sense." Gwaine used his moment of confusion to get in another strike, this time on Leon's arm.

"We'll even make it a double-date," Gwaine insisted, beginning to puff slightly as he bore down on his sparring partner rather than easing up.

"Make what a double-date?" he said, with willful ignorance.

"The picnic, Leon, pay a-bloody-tension!" He wasn't playing nice now, and stepped down hard on Leon's foot as he advanced. "You know, with Elaine!" He said this last part with inordinate loudness, though it was (probably) covered up by the clash of steel and shouting of men.

Leon blushed to his receding hair roots as he tried to extricate himself. "Gwaine--!" he said, trying to sound stern but almost whining.

"I can say it louder." Gwaine wiggled his eyebrows. "You want to hear me say it louder? So everyone can hear--"

"Shut! Up!"

"Pic! Nic!"

Leon was really losing ground at this point, and they walked into the path of a few other sparring matches in their concentration. "I can't! I'm too busy!"

"Bull! Shi--"

"Gwaine!" Leon shoved him off. "Will you please desist from this childiish behavior and leave me to my own affairs?"

"You mean the affairs you obviously can't manage by yourself? She's going to be old and wrinkled before you get the courage to hold her hand! You may be able to run Camelot in your sleep, son, but when it comes to your love life, you clearly need a hand!" Gwaine took a deep breath as if to shout a certain lady's name very loudly.

Leon dropped the sword and grabbed Gwaine's face, stopping the noise before he could get out another syllable. "Alright!" he hissed, suddenly quite angry. "Alright? Picnic. Fine. No problem. Will you just shut your mouth now?" He let go and picked up his sword.

Gwaine was so pleased he was even willing to let the other knights around them think Leon had won that round.

For the moment.

"Pleased as anything, Sir Leon," Gwaine bowed low, for effect. "Let's say, 3 o'clock today? Should give you time to clean up from the paddling I'm about to gve you..."

And with that and a laugh, Gwaine was through playing games. Leon was on his backside and swordless in seconds, with Gwaine standing over him with two swords and an incorrigible grin on his face.

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6 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sun 22 Jan 2012, 12:42 am

“Come on, lads,” Percival said as Leon and Gwaine stood in front of the pump, alternating between dousing and scrubbing their wet hair, “Let’s leave the ladies to finish their styles!”

“I don’t see why you two need to wash your hair every day,” Lancelot said. “I mean—Arthur doesn’t even wash his that often!”

“Arthur doesn’t get compliments on his hair, though, does he?” Gwaine said from under the pump.

The other knights laughed and left to perform their other duties, leaving Gwaine and Leon alone by the pump. Leon pulled on a clean shirt and started drying his hair with a towel.

“If its all the same, I don’t think a picnic is the best venue for a first date,” he said.

“Why not?” Gwaine said from where he was scrubbing his hair in a bowl of water.

“Too many variables. Dinner at King Arthur’s table would be more appropriate.”

“Fine—it’ll look better with four of us.” Leon and Gwaine only ate there once during their tenure as stewards, and abandoned it after Gwaine had to shout to get Leon to pass the salt.

“And not tonight. It’ll have to be Saturday.”

“Right, right!” Gwaine pulled his hair out of the water and flipped it sharply back, sending a shower of droplets into Leon’s face. “Do you need me to ask her for you as well?”

“I think I might be able to manage that,” Leon muttered, wiping his face. “...Who are you bringing?”

“Oh, that’s just details,” Gwaine said, with a characteristic grin. “The hardest part about that will be choosing which one.”

“Oh, I’m sure!” Leon said, and as Gwaine bent to rinse his hair, Leon smacked him on the backside with the towel. He ran out of the pump room with Gwaine’s shouts hard on his heels, laughing and hoping that Gwaine’s pride in his perfectly-styled hair would keep him from giving chase too long.

He skidded to a halt just outside, because if he didn’t he would have run straight into Lady Elaine and a few of her friends.

“Ladies,” Leon said. For a second he thought he could feign nonchalance, but then Gwaine ran into him from behind, shoving him forward a couple of inches.

“Good afternoon, girls!” Gwaine said, who had no concept of honorifics. “How did you enjoy the training?”

The ladies giggled. “Very much, thank you,” one said.

“Especially that er—little tumble in the dirt?” another said, sending the others into further giggles.

“Excuse me, ladies,” Leon said, giving a curt nod and heading off quickly across the courtyard. Gwaine could entertain the ladies without him standing there blushing like a monk--

“Sir Leon!”

Leon turned to see Elaine following him, and, instead of running away like he wanted, he stopped and waited for her.

“I wanted to thank you for sticking up for Merlin,” she said. “There’s no excuse for the soldiers to make fun of him like that.”

Leon nodded and gave a dismissive “Oh.”

She nodded encouragingly. But Leon couldn’t think of anything else to add to this profound statement so she said, “You and Sir Gwaine seem to be getting along well.”

Leon replied with a descriptive “Mmm.” He glanced over at Gwaine, who was chatting easily with the other ladies. My God—it was bloody unfair! “Actually,” he said forcing himself to form actual words, “we’re going to have dinner on Saturday. At Arthur’s table. You know, in the council chambers, and we’re--with some people, so—Would you…” he lost his train of thought as Gwaine sent the other ladies into a fit of giggling. He couldn’t think when girls were giggling. “...Come?”

Elaine raised an eyebrow. “Come to dinner? With you and Gwaine?”

“Mmm,” Leon said, his moment of loquacity gone.

“Yes, I’d love to,” she said.

“Ah,” Leon said, hoping she could at least see how pleased he was.

He spent the rest of the afternoon touring the lower town with Percival. Percival was laconic, which was just what Leon wanted now. The only conversation they had all day was about horses, about which Percy had some interesting insight. Later, Leon took a small detour by the marketplace to talk with a couple of merchants.

“This is the man I was telling you about, sir,” the silk merchant, Cora, said.

“He’s from the border—knows all about what’s goin’ on in Caerleon’s kingdom.”

“My name is Leon,” Leon said to the man, who looked him over with a tough glare.
“I’m looking for any surviving members of the House of Loth.”

“Loth?” the man put his head to one side. “I hear there’s some in a kingdom South of here. Over the mountains.”

“Do you know anything about them?”

He shrugged. “No, sir. They’re just kids.”

“Would you know how to find them?” Leon reached into his purse and pulled out several gold coins. “If you could deliver a letter to them,” he said, putting the coins and the letter into his hand, “and bring me back their reply, I will give you triple.”

The man nodded warily, and took the money. “What would a fancy knight like you be doing interested in that House, then?”

“A friend of mine is interested in their whereabouts. I put my trust in your discretion.”

The man, apparently surprised at his politeness, gave a short bow. “Aye, sir,” he said, and scampered off into the crowd of the marketplace.


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7 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sun 22 Jan 2012, 8:26 pm

Merlin hadn’t actually been lying entirely when he said Gaius needed help in the archives. In fact, he was supposed to be helping Gaius and Geoffrey while they tried to make sure books were where they were supposed to be- and many of them weren’t. Merlin was right now digging through some very old books someone had recently found in a chest and luckily neglected to bring to the attention of Uther or his son. Most of them were on boring things like how to keep a farm, or the care of geese, but in amongst all the mundane tomes were a few very old, very well-used books that seemed to be on magic. He set them aside to look over later, and stood up holding yet another scroll on farming.

“Gaius?” he asked, and his mentor stuck his head out from around a shelf.

“More farming scrolls. And a book. Do we really need to put all of them on shelves?” he asked, and Geoffrey of Monmouth stepped out from behind another shelf with a severe look.

“Put it on the shelves with the rest. It may someday prove useful,” he said, and Merlin stood with an armful of paper to take to an already overflowing shelf. Why did they need all of these? Farming was taking over a whole shelf, and the section on castles was not far behind.

After a full afternoon spent in the dusty archives, the last thing Merlin wanted to do was spend the evening there, so he ferreted the books on magic out with him when he left, while Geoffrey and Gaius were arguing about the best place for a whole series of books on farming within castle walls.

He retreated to his room and as the evening wore on, delved through the books for something that would help him with a plan that he hadn’t really given much thought to, afraid he’d talk himself right out of it. Right now, he had to find out if it was even possible to do as he wanted. There was no way, as far as he’d been able to think it through, that Freya was actually dead- he’d seen her, after all, in the lake. It was as if she’d… gone through the mirror-surface of the lake and gotten stuck on the other side. It had occurred to him, while watching Gwaine tease Leon endlessly about Elaine the previous day, that maybe he could bring her back, to this side of the lake’s surface. Without giving it too much consideration, he’d ruled out asking Gaius anything about it, because he knew immediately that he would not approve. But Merlin missed her, especially with Gwaine and Leon larking about after any pretty lady or Lady Elaine, respectively. The trouble was, he wasn’t sure any of the magic he knew would quite cut it, and though he was growing less hesitant of labeling any magic “good” or “bad”, he wondered if he needed different magic than what he knew.

Merlin sighed and shut the book he’d been leafing through. He couldn’t ask the dragon for help either, because he definitely had set opinions on what magic should and shouldn’t do. The dragon would definitely not agree that Merlin should be wasting his time trying to find a spell to bring back Freya.

Anyway, it was clear this book wasn’t what he was looking for. There would be nothing useful in amongst a lot of spells for curing ills and making things grow and making water flow the wrong direction. He set the book on the floor and with a disgruntled mutter pulled the next book into his lap and set to flipping pages.


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8 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sun 29 Jan 2012, 3:35 am

Maeglin

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"Sssit turns out, y'notta biiiiiiig boy f'r nuthin!"

"Sssssir Gwaine, r'you flirting with mmmmmme?"

"Nnnnaaaaawww, Perce! I'm flirtin' wi' yer Ma!"

That got a chorus of laughter from the regulars, though Gwaine wasn't sure why. He liked drinking with Sir Percival, when they actually got right down to it and did some serious drinking. Percy drank slower, but Gwaine talked more. They kept the pints flowing, matching each other well, confident that the castle coffers would be picking up the tab.

But not before they drank Stuart dry.

As it happened, Stuart kicked them out at half past two, sometime after they'd been properly soused, but well before they were fully marinated.

Percival was a giggler. "Coulda kept going, hee! Huh, Gwaine?"

"Aww, yeah, Perce!" Gwaine said, clapping the bigger man on the back as they staggered home. "Wanna sssssneak int'the wine cellar?" Gwaine wiggled his eyebrows sloppily.

"Nnnnnaaah," Percival said, lowering his head and blinking slowly. "Sssss'late! Teeeheee!"

The bigger man stopped, staggered sideways.

"Annnnndyer right about Northumbrian mmmoonshine, Gwaine!"

"Oh, hell, you haven't gone blind, have you, Perce?"

But Percival just exploded into laughter. Gwaine followed suit. After a moment,

"What were we laughing about, again?" Gwaine asked.

"Nev'mmindthat," Percival slurred. "Wherethehell'rewe?"

Gwaine sighed. "A'right, big boy, lesss getya home."

Together the pair stumbled down the darkened streets toward the castle, sometimes laughing, often swaying, until they reached the gates. The guards, accustomed to such scenes (although they did frown at Percival, who was leaning heavily on Gwaine by this point) and let them pass without a word.

He had Percival tucked safely in his bed in no time: shoes, armor, and belt off, and lying on his side the way you were supposed to lay out mates who'd had one too many.

Well, now what?

Now he was bored. He was too drunk to sleep, not drunk enough to pass out, and now no one to talk to.

His feet led the way and he just followed. They guessed right, though, and put him outside the Physician's quarters. Because you know who was probably up at stupid hours?

Merlin!

He almost burst in like that, remembering himself just in time. Gaius probably wouldn't appreciate being awakened like this. So he snuck in. Or tried, anyway. He bumped a few tables and cursed a few times, but the old physician was...well, old, and he didn't wake.

So Gwaine made it to Merlin's room undetected, and threw wide the door, grinning as Merlin scrambled to hide some books he was looking at. Although Gwaine had his suspicions as to what the books really were, he couldn't resist a sleazy jab:

"Now Merlin," Gwaine said, leaning sloppily against the doorframe, "what've I told you about looking at those dirty-picture-books?"

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9 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Mon 30 Jan 2012, 3:23 am

One book and three hours later, Merlin was still no further along in finding a spell. He had found a great many other spells that, had he not been looking for something, probably would have caught his attention. As it was, he had indeed tried the one that turned teacups into hedgehogs. Why such a spell even existed was beyond him, and he’d then wasted no small amount of time chasing the spiky thing around his room. When he finally caught it, it bit him for his trouble and curled into a tiny, teacup-sized ball of quills. He went out into the courtyard to release it, and it trundled off toward the kitchens, presumably looking for its teacup-kinfolk.

He was just nearing the end of his current book, which had initially seemed very promising, or at least full of eclectic spells, when his door burst open quite without warning. He slammed the book shut, yanked his hand back as it shut on his finger, and realized that it was only Gwaine. Who, of course, despite being drunk, came up with something to say that made Merlin blush bright red. And since he looked like he’d never seen a day of sun in his life, when he blushed, he turned bright red.

“What? They’re not… I mean… I don’t…” he stammered, which of course only made Gwaine laugh at him. Merlin stopped stammering when realized he was only going to dig himself a hole, and waited for Gwaine to stop laughing. Because the knight was drunk, it took a little longer than it usually did.

“Stop, you’re going to wake Gaius, and he’ll kick us both out. And I, for one, would like to sleep sometime tonight,” Merlin hissed finally, and Gwaine at least toned down the laughter to a quiet chuckle. He watched Merlin glare in what he assumed was indignation, but really more closely resembled a startled fawn trying to look threatening. He held up his hands in mock surrender to the almighty angry-baby-deer glare.

“Alright, no need t’worry. The problem with you, Merlin, is that you’re far too much fun to tease. None of us can possibly help ourselves when you react like that,” Gwaine said, stepping through the doorway he’d been leaning in and swinging the door mostly shut behind him. He looked at the books scattered about and on Merlin’s bed.

“So what are you looking for, then?” Gwaine asked. Merlin flipped the book in his lap back open and looked down at it for a moment.

“A spell,” he answered vaguely, pausing on a page to read through the whole spell. Close, but not really what he was looking for.

“I’m drunk, Merlin, not stupid. I meant what kind of spell,” Gwaine drawled, and Merlin grinned at the statement. Well, at least he knew he was drunk. Granted, he was usually to some extent, so the admission didn’t carry a ton of weight.

“Sort of a transport spell,” he said, though he didn’t say what he was transporting. Gwaine gave him A Look, fully aware Merlin was being evasive again- the boy seemed to have a knack for weaseling out of questions- and Merlin finally elaborated.

“To… transport the soul of one thing into another thing?” he said, although it sounded more like a question.

“Ah. And why, exactly, would you want to do that?” he asked.

“Curiosity?” Merlin asked. It was usually a good excuse. In fact, he’d done a great many stupid things out of curiosity. Gwaine also tended to do stupid things out of what Merlin thought was curiosity, just to see what would happen. Or perhaps he didn’t think first. Maybe both. Whatever the case, the explanation seemed to satisfy Gwaine for the moment, and he held out a hand for one of the books. Since Merlin wasn’t sure the knight would make it up off the floor if he sat down in his current state, Merlin moved to the floor and leaned up against a chest on the far wall, relinquishing the higher ground, the bed, to Gwaine.

Ten minutes later, he heard Gwaine mumbling something under his breath. After listening for a moment, Merlin realized what it was he was mumbling.

“Gwaine,” he said loudly enough to get his friend’s attention, and Gwaine looked up from the book.

“If you want to turn yourself into a frog, keep reading,” Merlin said, and watched as the knight put two and two together. Then he stared at the book.

“Really? This one?” he said, pointing to a spell. He held the book out and Merlin squinted at it to read the words from where he sat. Liggeþ alse þe tadde deð in þere eorðe, it said, and Merlin laughed.

“Yes. Don’t read any of them out loud,” Merlin said, and went back to his book. Gwaine stared at him for a moment longer, shrugged, and went back to his book. A minute later, he looked up and then tossed a sock a Merlin, and then a ball of paper, and finally a boot, which clumped down right next to his leg and prompted him to finally look up from his book, having ignored previous attempts to bother him.

“I found one, but you weren’t paying attention,” he supplied as an excuse, although Merlin suspected he had just been taking the opportunity to toss things at him. At least he hadn’t had a sword anywhere within arm’s reach. When Merlin stood and went to look at the book, he discovered that, indeed, it looked to be a spell that might work. He hadn’t quite expected to find one so fast, not when he was still hesitating about this whole thing. He looked at it and sighed. In fact, he was on the verge of asking Gwaine about the whole thing, albeit in such a way that it sounded like generic relationship advice.

“Hey! You know what I just realized?”

“You never manage to make it to your own bed to be drunk?” Merlin asked helpfully, and dodged another sock.

“Ah, no,” Gwaine said, and then appeared to get lost in thought thinking about that.

“Then what?” Merlin prompted.

“Oh, I don’t remember any more. But you’re right! Funny how that happens,” he commented. Merlin rolled his eyes at the ceiling in an age-old gesture of please-give-me-strength. Yes, this was just the best idea he’d had all day. Right up there with turning the teacup into a hedgehog- but he also had not a single other soul to ask.

“I have a question. Um… actually, I sort of need some advice,” Merlin said, and that got Gwaine’s attention. He flicked an errant lock of hair out of his face and even looked like he was paying attention. And being serious.

“It’s about… well, a girl, sort of,” he added. Oh of course. There was the cocky, I-know-something-you-don’t grin. Wonderful. While there was no doubt Gwaine knew a great many things Merlin didn’t, that was exactly not what he was asking about. The young warlock dropped his head into his palm. Yes, this was a great idea.


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10 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Mon 30 Jan 2012, 4:38 am

Maeglin

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"Ahh! So you are a man, after all, eh, Merlin?" Gwaine guffawed loudly before remembering who was snoring just outside, and promptly clapped a hand over his mouth as Merlin glared. "Only joking, mate, of course, lad like you, doesn't want to be tied down, I get it. Girls are far too much work these days, and you're a busy man!"

"Em--" Merlin tried, but Gwaine held up a hand.

"Just let the Gwaine the Ladykiller look out for you on this one!" he assured his companion, patting him on the shoulder firmly, relishing as Merlin flinched hilariously. "The trick is, as I keep telling Leon, you have to strike up a conversation with her, you see--you have spoken to the lady in question, have you, Merlin?"

"Yes!" was the exasperated reply.

"All right, all right, never can be too sure with the likes of you!" Gwaine settled back onto Merlin's bed with his hands behind his head, getting down to business. "Now, what you want to do, Merlin, see," he continued, gesticulating wildly, "is get a nice, sturdy table--"

"Ooookay, that's enough!" Merlin cried, jumping to his feet.

"Merlin!" came Gaius' shout from outside the room. "Keep it down in there, I'm trying to sleep!"

Gwaine snorted. Merlin glared.

"Aye, Merlin," Gwaine couldn't resist whispering, "keep it down!" He quickly dissolved into a fit of giggling so strong he didn't even feel it when Merlin's boot hit him in the head.

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11 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Mon 30 Jan 2012, 5:16 am

“Gwaine, I’m serious!” Merlin practically wailed, except since they’d just been shouted at, he kept his voice down and it came out more like a strangled whine. The petulant tone of voice only made Gwaine snort and continue giggling. Merlin was seriously considering winging one of the smaller books across the room when Gwaine finally got himself under control and there was a break in the giggle fit as he attempted to look serious.

“Are you done?” Merlin asked with annoyance, and Gwaine thought about it for a second, apparently thought of something hilarious, and went off into another giggle fit. Merlin threw his other boot at him.

“Ow! What the bloody hell was that for?” Gwaine yelped, and put a hand to his head.

“Stop laughing, this is serious! I need help!” Merlin said. He honestly looked a little desperate. Gwaine realized he was, indeed, being serious, and stopped laughing. He stopped giggling, even. Perhaps that had been a bit uncalled-for… and maybe, just maybe, he was being a bit of a jackass about this.

“I was just kidding,” he grumbled. Could he perhaps plead that he was too drunk for serious conversation? He considered it, and then discarded the idea.

“Alright, Merlin, what’s wrong?” he asked. Merlin thought for a moment. He actually wasn’t sure what advice he wanted. He couldn’t quite bring himself to ask for advice about the magic… He paced while he thought, and then leaned on the wall and looked at the ceiling for inspiration.

“How do you know… Ummmm. What do you do if know no one will approve of her… or you being with her… or even her being around?” Merlin asked. Yes, that was what he wanted advice on. Was he even doing the right thing? He thought he was, certainly. Oh, he still wasn’t questioning about the potential misuse of magic, here, or whether it was morally right or wrong to try and bring her back, but if she showed up someone was bound to ask questions, and several someones were bound to disapprove. The dragon, if he found out, which he would, might even barbecue Merlin for it. How was he even supposed to deal with that?


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12 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Mon 30 Jan 2012, 5:40 am

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Gwaine tried flexing his eyebrows to coax more intelligence out of his skull, but it didn't really work. He felt he needed to be more sober for this, lest he say something truly saptastic and never be respected by Merlin ever again--

"Do it," Gwaine said.

There was a pause. Gwaine almost regretted his words, but, no, that was exactly the sentiment he wanted to pass on.

"Do...what, really?" Merlin asked.

Gwaine nodded, sitting up so he could actually look at Merlin.

"Do whatever you've got to do, Merlin," he said, with a shrug. "If you need to do it, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or says. Nobody's perfect. Anyone who tells you you can't do what makes you happy, what you feel you need to do, that's not perfect, that's not good advice or anyone you need bother yourself listening to, huh? Anyone who's gonna judge you for doing right by yourself isn't someone whose judgement you ought to be heeding."

Merlin thought about this.

"But then I'm an anarchist, what do I know?" Gwaine laughed and flopped back on the bed. "Anyway, know I'm behind you, whatever you do."

More silence. Ooh, I just said that out loud, didn't I? Quick, time to cheapen the moment:

"Although I may draw the line if she's a troll or something."

That got a reaction, and a giggle, and sent Merlin casting about for something further to throw at him, though he'd exhausted his supply of ammunition already. "She's not a troll!"

"Still wouldn't judge you, mate, I mean, takes all kinds, right, just saying I wouldn't be over for Sunday dinner on a regular--"

"Not! A! Troll!" Merlin hissed.

Gwaine winked. "Then I think it's safe to say I reckon you're a big lad, Merlin, and can make your own damn choices without worrying what other people think. Couldn't you just turn 'em into a toad, anyone who gave you trouble?"

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13 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 5:45 am

“I could do that, but Arthur would make an ugly toad,” Merlin said thoughtfully, grinning slightly. The grin faded. Not to mention the dragon. Could you even turn dragons into toads? He supposed they were probably immune to magic. It was also possible Arthur wouldn’t care much, outside of giving him endless grief, but probably all the knights would give him grief anyway.

“Although those donkey ears…” he added after a moment.

“What?” Gwaine laughed.

“Right before we met you, in fact, in that tavern. There was this goblin, and it possessed Gaius, and gave Arthur donkey ears. And he couldn’t talk without sounding like a donkey, either,” Merlin said. Gwaine appeared to be trying to imagine this, but he was already giggling, and Merlin added, “I fixed it. Mostly. He did sound like a donkey for about a day after the ears were gone…” He laughed and Gwaine burst into laughter as well.

Merlin! Be quiet!” Gauis shouted from the other room, and the two of them both stopped laughing lest they both get kicked out into the courtyard.

“Well, it worked out. And the time that Sidhe princess put the spell on him, and he acted like a prat for days. I was in the stocks three times because he was larking after her. Actually, do you know how many times I’ve saved his life, and he doesn’t even know about it?” Merlin said, sitting on the chest at the end of his bed and ticking off the times on his fingers.

“The time the Questing Beast bit him, and he nearly died, and that shield that bit people, and you were there the time that bracelet and the wyverns nearly killed him. Oh! And when I drank poison because Uther didn’t believe the cup was really poisoned,” he stopped to think for a moment, completely unaware that Gwaine had, while still listening, sprawled out on his bed because it was hard listening to Merlin natter on when you were drunk and tired.

“On second thought, that may not count. He did save my life in return,” Merlin added a full minute later, apparently having been lost in thought for a good deal longer than he realized. Then he realized that Gwaine had gone incredibly quiet, which was certainly unusual. Merlin turned on the chest and looked to see why he was being so quiet.

The knight had apparently fallen asleep. He was sprawled across a little over half the bed, as if he’d been trying to leave Merlin somewhere to at least sit that wasn’t a chest or a floor. It was really quite considerate, given that Gwaine usually sprawled enough to take up multiple chairs, bedrolls, beds, or wherever else the knights were being forced to sleep. The others had learned to be nowhere near him after he’d kicked Percival in the face when the other knight had chosen to sleep with his head about a foot too close to Gwaine’s feet. On the other hand, Percy had then awoken Gwaine by twisting an arm behind his back and starting a wrestling match that had almost landed the both of them in the fire until Arthur shouted at them to knock it off and go to sleep. So it’d probably worked out fairly in the end.

This, however, wasn’t going to work. Short of making enough noise to wake this entire end of the castle, Merlin knew he wasn’t going to just wake Gwaine out of an alcohol-induced unconsciousness. He did roll him onto his side, because he thought at some point Gwaine, ironically enough, had told him that was what you did when your friends got passed-out drunk. If, indeed, Gwaine was passed out and not just sleeping. It was hard to tell, sometimes.

Then Merlin looked around his room. There was exactly nowhere for him to sleep, except on the pile of clothes by his door. At least they were clean.

“Gwaine. Psssst, Gwaine. Wake up!” he hissed and shoved the knight’s shoulder. It worked exactly as well as he’d thought it would.

Gwaine! Go sleep in your own bed!” Merlin said, as if that would work any better. Gwaine just slept on. At least he wasn’t snoring.

Finally, Merlin gave up and sat with his back against the wall on the pile of clothes next to the door. He wasn’t planning on sleeping sitting up, but maybe if he glared long enough Gwaine would feel his eyes boring figurative holes in his forehead and wake up and go back to his own quarters. Or maybe pigs would suddenly learn to fly.


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14 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 3:56 pm

“You’re not happy, Lancelot.”

Lancelot turned from where he had been staring out the window into the starry night. Galehaut was standing in the doorway of his room, silhouetted slightly against the light from the hall. It was odd to see the man without a grin on his face, but he apparently was taking Lancelot’s brooding pretty seriously. Lancelot didn’t think he showed his emotions as easily as that!

“It’s nothing,” he said. He was compelled to say more, but for all of Galehaut’s friendliness during the past couple of weeks, he didn’t know the man very well. He forced a smile. “It’s late. You ought to get to bed.”

“Oh, can’t sleep. I stay up most nights just thinking. It’s very relaxing, in a way.”

“For some, maybe. For my part I wish things were a little less complicated.”

Lancelot turned back to the window, which Galehaut took as an invitation to join him at the window. They gazed at the stars for a few moments in silence. “You’ve lost someone up there in those stars,” Galehaut said at length.

Lancelot and he exchanged sidelong glances. “You make it sound very romantic,” he said with a smile.

“Oh, pining for love is the most romantic thing in the world.” He leaned over and added. “I shouldn’t be surprised if the beloved in question isn’t thinking about you, too.”

“She isn’t thinking of me,” Lancelot said, and though he laughed he ended with a sigh.

“Then Sir Lancelot saw her visage,” Galehaut said, as if reciting a poem as he looked up at the stars, “but he wept not greatly, but sighed! The sweetness of love is short-lived, it whispered, but the pain endures.”

“That’s good,” Lancelot said, impressed.

“It just comes to me,” Galehaut said, touching his brow. He glanced again at Lancelot. “I am at your service, should you need anything. I’m told I have a sympathetic ear and an absorbent shoulder.”

It took Lancelot a moment to work out what he meant. “Oh—I think
I’m alright,” Lancelot said, laughing nonetheless at Galehaut’s oddness. Part of him hoped that Galehaut would press the issue further, but he only smiled, gave one last look at the stars and left. Lancelot noticed from the height of the candles in his room that it had to be near midnight.

He sighed again and wandered, seemingly by accident, to the virginal in the corner of his room. It was a present from Gwen, and Gwaine and Leon kept pestering him to bring it to Friday Knights. But he didn’t dare—not until he could play something that was worthy of it, and of Gwen. Oh how he longed to make her see that *he* loved her more than anyone else…!

Now, that poem, *that* was certainly worthy of her. Perhaps it would make her understand. He took it from where it lay by his bed and opened it up to the poem he had been reading earlier, setting it on the music stand. He played a few experimental chords, deep and melancholy.

He had to look the part, too. He grabbed the mirror from where it stood by the wardrobe and dragged it over. He looked in his reflection, and began.

It’s been a mystery, still I try to see why something good could hurt so bad…. Caught on a one way street, the taste of bittersweet, love will survive somehow, some way….”

He glanced now and then at the book, but he had read it so many times that the words came easily to him. He continued, soft and ardent, feeling the very essence of the music building and magnifying within him.

So many stormy nights, so many wrongs or rights, neither could change their headstrong ways, and in a lover’s rage they tore another page. The fighting is worth the love they save…”

He fancied the candles were twinkling in the background like her eyes, and he could almost hear the instruments of the others, a lute, some drums…faraway, not really there—only he was there to make her see, only she could hear the music. Light seemed to grow in intensity around him, flooding the room in gold, scarlet, and azure, and though he knew he was just singing to himself, it almost seemed like someone was there with him. Perhaps it was Gwen, thinking of him across the night. The unknown listener drew the music through his fingers, demanding everything in his heart to emerge in the unearthly notes. In the shadow of its presence he grew confident, the drums in his head bursting into crescendo.

One love feeds the fire, one heart burns desire, wonder who’s crying now? Two hearts born to run, who’ll be the lonely one? Wonder who’s crying now?

He took a deep breath, ready for the finale, his fingers playing only the softest of notes. “Only so many tears---“

A loud couple of thumps against on the wall so surprised Lancelot that he bumped against the virginal, causing the lid to come down hard on his knuckles. A second later he heard a shout of “Are you strangling a cat or something? Keep it down!” It was from Percival, who’s room shared a wall with Lancelot’s.

“Sorry!” Lancelot shouted back, and sucked on his fingers.

Sounded like a cat, did he? Well—he’d never play that stupid thing again, not ever!

Despite being quite tired he had a fitful night’s sleep. It seemed that the very walls of Camelot were still humming the music to him, mocking him.

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15 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Tue 31 Jan 2012, 6:45 pm

“…And that is how you make a chirograph,” Leon said, pushing the two pieces of paper across the table. “This half goes to the nobleman and this half we keep.”

George, one of the other castle servants, looked at the two pieces of paper which Leon had just cut in half with some degree of skepticism. “What, that’s it?”

“Yes,” Leon said uncertainly. “Is there something else?”

“Only--well, it's not very secure, is it? A child could forge that!”

Leon looked back at the two halves. “Oh, it’s alright,” he said. “They’re all like that--see?”

“Yes, I do see,” George said, apparently still bothered. “I’ll just make it a bit more complex--that way when you bring the two pieces back together you'll know for sure that you have the real one." He took the shears and started cutting.

"There's no need,” Leon said desperately. It was already past midnight. He laughed and clapped George on the shoulder. “Really. We’re done.”

"Only take a minute," George said, a little testily.

Leon's grin faded as he watched George work. "But you're not even going to be able to read the writing--"

“It’s alright,” George said, industriously cutting the parchment. “I'll just write up another. Otherwise I shant get a wink of sleep for thinking about it. I know, I think I'll make it in the shape of Grendel.”

"No one knows what Grendel looked like."

"They will in a minute!"

Leon blinked. “Right. I’ll—leave you to it, then.”

George just smiled, not looking up from the page. Leon took the opportunity and bolted.

He was crossing the rampart by Gaius’s window when he heard a loud snore. He grinned. Gaius was notorious for his snoring, which was why the Physicians quarter’s were out of the common way. Poor old Merlin, though!

The first snorer, however, was joined by a second. He listened, and under the chorus of snores he could barely make out a pathetic, hopeless groan of “Please, would you shut up??”

Leon poked his head in Merlin’s window. “Merlin?” he whispered.

“Leon!” Merlin was lying on the floor, but at the sound of Leon’s voice he jumped up and ran to the window. “It’s terrible! He just won’t shut up! Gaius is alright, but I can’t even sleep in my own bed!”

“What, again?” he didn’t even need to ask who had taken Merlin’s bed. “Alright, let’s get him up.”

Merlin grinned, and together they managed to get Gwaine pulled over Leon’s shoulder and out into the hallway. It wasn’t too difficult—this happened often enough that they had developed a system. Gaius didn’t stir.

“You should come out and train with us again tomorrow,” Leon offered. “With Arthur gone I’m sure you must be bored out of your skull.”

Merlin paled until he realized Leon was joking.

“We’ll see,” Merlin said, rolling his eyes. “Thanks again.”

“This is the last time,” Leon warned, though he was still grinning, and he headed off down the hall toward Gwaine’s room. On the way he passed Lord Galehaut, who also appeared to be going to bed.

“Goodnight, Galehaut,” Leon said as he passed, careful to keep Gwaine’s legs out of Galehaut’s way.

Galehaut only gave a forlorn sigh and said, “Every one’s got someone…” Leon wasn’t exactly sure what he meant.



Last edited by beeayy on Thu 02 Feb 2012, 4:20 am; edited 1 time in total


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16 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Wed 01 Feb 2012, 4:59 am

With Gwaine finally gone, Merlin yawned and stretched and toppled into his bed. He lay there for a minute, and then remembered that spell Gwaine had found. With another yawn Merlin sat up and dragged the book into his lap from the floor where Gwaine had dropped it. It didn’t say anything about casting it on something specific, so he shrugged and stared at the air about three feet in front of him. He took a deep breath.

Gelíffæstnian,” he said. Nothing happened for several long seconds, and then he felt a very strange surge of magic around him, like a gust of air through an open window. But there was not other immediate sign that the spell had worked. If it had, it certainly hadn’t worked the way he’d intended. Just in case, though, he cracked his door open and looked into the deserted main room. She wasn’t there, either.

More than a little crestfallen, he sat down hard on his bed and set the book back down on the floor. The candle had burned low since nightfall, so with an irritated sigh he lay down and waved a hand to put it out. It didn’t go out. He frowned and tried again, and then sat up and waved at it a third time. That was odd. Then again, maybe he’d accidentally enchanted the candle instead of bringing Freya back… it would make sense. He shrugged and blew on the candle- it flicked right out- and rolled over to go to sleep.


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17 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Thu 02 Feb 2012, 4:08 am

Sure, Leon was tired. He was always tired, especially when he had a thirteen-stone Gwaine on his back.

But surely it shouldn’t be this hard to find his room!

It was dark—most of the bracket lamps had been put out long ago—and now Leon trudged down a dimly lit hallway towards what he certainly hoped was Gwaine’s room.

“Alright, Gwaine, come on, wake up, you’ve got to go to bed now,” he said as he pushed Gwaine’s door open, until he heard a groan.

“Alright, that’s it! I am trying to sleep, you know!”

Leon’s brow knotted. “Percival? Sorry—I thought this was Gwaine’s room…”

“Yer mad, ’s second hall on the th’right,” Percival said with a yawn, and ignored them until Leon dragged Gwaine out into the hall again.

It was the change in sleep pattern that was doing this to him, and Gwaine, for whom there was only one seven o’ clock per day. He couldn’t wait for Arthur to return and get Camelot running on regular business hours. No, not Arthur—Arthur had no concept of standard sleep patterns either. Gwen, then. Yes, Gwen would put everything in order, bless her.

He went down the second hall on the right, and blinked blearily at the door to his own room.
But the—his room was on the other side of the—How could--?

Oh. Right. Long day.

With a resigned shake of the head he went inside and deposited Gwaine on his own bed, careful to remove his shoes before he put the covers over him. Gwaine lay there like a ragdoll, looking perfectly peaceful. It made Leon sleepy just watching him.

Maybe there was a way to push him onto one side of the bed, and Leon might just fit too...? No, best not risk it. He remembered the row Percival made when Gwaine kicked him in the head all too well, and already Gwaine was unconsciously starting to sprawl out over both of the bed's edges. Besides, Gwaine would never let him hear the end of it if he woke up.

He grabbed a blanket from the foot of the bed and lay down on the carpet by the window. It was harder than he had hoped. Still, he had Elaine to occupy his thoughts, and musings on whether the merchant would be able to locate the House of Loth and Gwaine’s surviving kin.

He was fast asleep in minutes.


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18 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Fri 03 Feb 2012, 12:13 am

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A girl once told Gwaine he chased rabbits in his sleep. He had been with her for some time--maybe even a week--a record, for him--before she told him this. She said the first night she couldn't stop laughing for his twitching, and the second night his flailing arm had hit her in the side of the head, and the third night he had actually rolled himself out of bed, entangled in sheets and demanding what had happened.

Gwaine slept like the dead. He also didn't dream. It was therefore news to him that he was such an active sleeper.

The knights gave him no end of trouble for it. Percy once almost broke his arm for allegedly kicking him, and Lancelot had practically challenged him to a duel for allegedly spooning him, and it had never yet been cold enough on campaign that they didn't make him sleep on the other side of the fire from the rest of the lads.

He woke to nature's call, sitting up, dazed and confused, wondering where the hell he was and hadn't he been in Merlin's room and why was he now in Leon's bed? These things hardly troubled Gwaine, however, because he was hungry. Also, he had to piss.

Still at least two sheets to the wind, Gwaine staggered to his feet. Where the bloody hell were his buggering shoes? No matter.

"Leon," Gwaine said, poking the blonde knight in the shoulder. Then, much louder, "LEON!"

"DOES NO ONE SLEEP IN THIS PLACE?!" he heard a muffled, though highly exasperated, shout a few rooms over, and Gwaine couldn't help but laugh. Percival had a reputation as something of a Sleep Tyrant. If he didn't get his eight or nine hours each night, he was a wreck, and on top of that was grumpy in the mornings anyway and, except under very select circumstances (like Gwaine was buying) hardly ever stayed out late. Gwaine had already told Arthur that Percival should probably get a bunk in the dungeons, where it was quieter, but no one listened to him.

"Leon, I'm gone. I think the Lady Elaine might get jealous of me like this. Get back in yer bed, mate."

No reaction to that, though Leon did lurch upright, like the undead, and lumber over to drop heavily into his bed. Gwaine tucked him in as best he could while still seeing double, and staggered back to his room.

Gwaine stripped down to his breeches, flinging clothes all around the tiny room before going to his wardrobe and practically wrenching the doors off their hinges to get at his secret stash: a bottle of Northumbrian moonshine that he was saving for a special occasion but which he readily dipped into when his inhibitions were low (usually when he needed a reason to get up before Prime), a few wine skins (all virtually empty), a few old campaign rations for when he was really desperate, a hunk of bread nicked from the kitchens, a bit of cheese from the same, and a few mushrooms he was pretty sure weren't poisonous.

He took these last three: cheese, bread, and mushrooms, and sat down on the floor to eat them. He usually refrained from eating when he was seriously drinking, so that he could keep pace with lesser men, and Gwaine realized he actually hadn't had anything for supper until now. The mushrooms were delicious, and the cheese wasn't even too molded, the bread soft enough when soaked with the last few drops of wine left in the skins.

Sated, Gwaine was prepared to sleep on the floor, and was just considering whether he cared enough to drag himself the few feet to his bed, when the wardrobe moved.

At first he thought, or hoped, it was a trick of his mind. The entire room, really, had been faintly swaying, like a tree branch in a gentle breeze, since he'd sat down here.

But it certainly hadn't been growling.

Gwaine leapt back, suddenly sober, against his bed as the wardrobe reared itself up and, shifting it's weight from corner to corner, took a few steps toward him. Confused, mesmerized, and apparently drunker than he though, Gwaine simply stared up at the creature-furniture. But it seemed to size him up, then, deem him not a threat, perhaps, because it blew out its doors and drawers, like a friendly horse flapping its lips, and then abruptly snapped everything shut.

Gwaine stared a moment longer.

"Huh," he said.

There was nothing further from the wardrobe.

"Okay." Gwaine left the remnants of his meal--crumbs and a wrung wine skin--on the floor and hauled himself into bed, where he closed his eyes immediately upon impact with the pillow.

Definitely poisonous mushrooms. The Pictish kind of poisoned, apparently.



Last edited by Maeglin on Wed 08 Feb 2012, 3:20 am; edited 1 time in total

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19 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Mon 06 Feb 2012, 5:45 pm

Leon hefted the stack of books into his arms and started for the library.

It was a large assortment of books, and thus not easy to carry. The patents of nobility were particularly cumbersome, as were the royal annals and records. All stacked up in his arms they went above his eyebrows, and he made his way cautiously so as not to run into anyone. He had borrowed them from Geoffrey a few weeks back, almost as soon as Gwaine had told him about his family's cruel treatment at the hands of Caerleon. Leon hoped to find in the records some sort of explanation, possibly even a misunderstanding. But the annals in particular were painfully clear and brief in explaining what had happened--and it happened just as Gwaine had told it.

Leon didn't promise to help Gwaine lightly. Especially if Gwaine only let his past be known under duress of drink. But now that he knew the particulars of Caerleon's treachery, he didn't know what else to do except find Gwaine's lost siblings. That could be difficult, and he wouldn't hear back from that merchant for several weeks. It was possible that his siblings were untraceable, living somewhere far beyond Camelot's influence. He had to at least try to find them. Still, that didn't mean he needed to tell Gwaine. He certainly didn't want to get him angry, or get his hopes up. It would be better to wait until he had proof of Gwaine's siblings' wellbeing, and pretend as if he had forgotten about the whole thing.

It would be better to get the books back before Gwaine saw them with him, too. Geoff would be wanting them back anyway. The fact that he took the books away with him probably upset Geoffrey to no end, who was the type of librarian that wished books were attached to their shelves on little chains.

He jimmied the door to the library open with his elbow and turned awkwardly on the spot to get in. "Geoff?..."

SMACK! Someone ran into Leon just as he stepped inside, causing him to drop all of his books. There was a shout that sounded like Merlin, and a load of hard corners and edges dropping on his boots suggested that he had also dropped their books as well.

"Sorry!" Merlin said, quickly picking up his books.

"It's alright," Leon said, helping to gather up the fallen books before Geoffrey caught either of them.

"Bit of light reading?" Merlin asked as he stacked his books up.

"Oh, yes, just--you know. Some reading." To change the subject, Leon picked up one of Merlin's books at random. "I didn't know you liked to read so much. What's this one?"


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20 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Wed 08 Feb 2012, 4:44 am

Having failed entirely to glean anything really useful from the book he’d taken from the archives, Merlin stacked them on the table in the main room while Gaius was out taking medicines to less mobile patients, and then managed to pick up the whole stack and carry them all the way to the archives. Having also failed almost entirely to get any decent sleep, he did not realize the age-old problem of carrying the “lazy man’s load”, and nearly lost the whole stack walking down a flight of stairs. The top one fell off as he was opening a door, and he couldn’t even bend down to pick it up without causing the rest to go into an avalanche of literary material, and so he just stood there staring at the traitorous volume.

Oh, right. Magic. If he hadn’t been carrying all the books, he definitely would have face-palmed. Merlin blamed his lack of thought on lack of sleep, and levitated the book to the top of the stack.

Once in the safety of the archives, he relaxed his grip on the books just a little, and went to the table to set them down. Rather, he was going to go to the table, but as he rounded the corner of a shelf, he ran headlong into Leon, who also had a load of books. He, of course, dropped his own, and then jumped so they wouldn’t land on his feet. One of the heavier ones dropped corner-down on his left foot and he bit off a curse.

Merlin tried to get to the books first, especially to gather the ones that would take a bit more explanation than he was quite ready to give. Leon, however, in true helpful-Leon fashion, completely beat him to it- due in no small part to the fact that Merlin had been biting off curses aimed at certain inanimate objects.

“That one?” he said, and tipped his head to try and read it upside down. “That one is about common household pests, because Gaius has been having trouble with rats,” he said off the top of his head. Of course, they’d been having trouble with no such thing. And now he’d have to mention this to Gaius in case Leon went and tried to help him take care of the problem. Not that Gaius wasn’t used to covering for Merlin’s random excuses… He was even competent at making them up himself. That tavern one, for example. Merlin was sure he’d never hear the end of it.

As he picked up the rest of the books, a leaf of paper fluttered out from between two of the fallen volumes, and he turned it right-side-up to look at it. Oh! One of the riddles he’d found. Merlin grinned crookedly.

“Sir Leon, are you any good at riddles? I found this one…” he said, holding the paper out so the knight could read it. If, indeed, he could read Merlin’s nearly-illegible chicken-scratch handwriting.

What does man love more than life
Fear more than death or mortal strife
What the poor have, the rich require,
and what contented men desire,
What the miser spends and the spendthrift saves
And all men carry to their graves?


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21 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Thu 09 Feb 2012, 4:24 pm

Leon raised an eyebrow, half-smiling. “Do you not know the answer, or do you want me to guess?”

“Bit of both,” Merlin said with a coy shrug. Leon had a feeling that Merlin was trying to distract him. Unfortunately, a good riddle was one of the few things that could always distract him. He snorted and sat back against one of the library shelves, his brow knotted.

“Hmm, that’s a tough one. How about….Absence? No, no—nothing!”

Merlin opened his mouth to object, then looked up at the ceiling as he spoke the words of the riddle silently to himself again. “Oh, yeah!” he said. “I couldn’t manage the second to last line.”

“I don’t often try ones with more than four parts,” Leon said, grinning. “I used to find riddles all the time to annoy Arthur with.”

Merlin looked surprised and interested. “Did it work?”

“Well, it’d get him out of bed, if only to throw a sword at me. He loathes them.”

“Good to know,” Merlin laughed.

“Here, I’ve got one,” Leon offered. “What belongs to you but everyone uses it more than you do?

“My time?” Merlin said with a laugh.

“…Close,” Leon said.

“My…Oh, no wait—I’ve heard this one! It’s um--My name!”

“Right!”

“I’ve got to write that down,” Merlin said. He grabbed one of the books and started to scribble in the margin with charcoal.

“You really have to think about every word with these things,” Leon said, getting excited.

Merlin nodded enthusiastically. “Like that one—“

“--About the heart--?”

“--And the triple analogy--?”

“BRILLIANT!”

Merlin looked as if he was about to ask Leon another when they were interrupted by a cough. They looked up to see Geoffrey standing above them with his arms folded. He was glaring at them and the books, which were still strewn about the floor.

“I’ve got a riddle for you,” he said. He stepped towards them as they spoke, making them scoot cautiously backward with each line until they ran up against a bookshelf. “What’s got four arms, four legs, desecrates books and isn’t allowed in the library for a month?!

And with super-human speed, he gathered up the fallen books and stormed off. Leon and Merlin stood up, feeling rather sheepish.

Inexplicably, Gwaine’s head appeared over a stack of books. “Kids these days, don’t know how to treat a library well,” he said, hefting a book under his arm.

“What’s that?” Merlin said.

“This?” Gwaine held the book up. “Naked ladies.”

Leon blinked. Merlin blushed.

“It’s art!” Gwaine said defensively. “Hey, hey—I’ve got a riddle! A thing of much interest lies on the thigh of a man, under it’s master’s cloak. It’s stiff and hard and pokes inside a—“

“A key,” Merlin and Leon said in unison. Gwaine cursed under his breath.

“I've been meaning to talk to you two anyway,” Leon said, heading for the door. “We need to plan the homecoming banquet.”

"You mean feast, right?" Gwaine said hopefully.

Leon rolled his eyes. "Fine. A feast. You'll still have to dress up."

"Damn!"


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22 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sat 11 Feb 2012, 4:36 am

Maeglin

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Seriously? Riddles? Just when he thought these two couldn't get any more lame...

"Hey, I got another one," Gwaine jeered, "I am a wondrous creature: to women a thing of joyful expectation, to close-lying companions serviceable. I harm no city-dweller excepting my slayer alone. My stem is erect and tall--I stand up in bed--and whiskery somewhere down below. Sometimes a--"

"Onion," Leon and Gwaine said together, in simultaneous boredom and annoyance, perhaps sensing they were being teased.

Gwaine was actually surprised they guessed that one--Merlin didn't even blush--and he thought it was a good one--but perhaps this was only further testament to what egg-headed losers Gwaine chose for companions.

Now Leon, as if being a nerd wasn't enough, was dragging him and Merlin off to redecorate. The Round Table room needed more than the cleaning the servants had given it, apparently, and Leon didn't support Gwaine's attempt to "liven the place up" by sticking a bundle of wildflowers in an ale tankard in the center of the table.

"We'll start the feast with a recital, I think, a bit of poetry," Leon said, as he and Merlin together tacked a unicorn tapestry to the wall.

Gwaine wrinkled up his nose. "I hate poetry recitals," he complained, as Leon and Merlin moved on to the next wall hanging.

"Well, the bards have put something special together for Arthur's return, something about him taking over all of Rome, I'm not sure. It sounds rather exciting, though."

"Hm. Lots of battle sequences?" Gwaine said, willing to be impressed as he eased the left hook down a few inches until the tapestry was unevenly hanging.

"Probably," Leon continued, as he tacked up another wall-hanging. "I hear you're made out to be quite fierce in this version."

"Oh, fine," Gwaine said. "What else did you have in mind?" he asked, as he replaced the expensive-looking vase in the center of the table with his tankard full of flowers.

Merlin, who recognized what Gwaine was doing, clapped a hand over his mouth to keep from giggling, although Leon continued straightening up the room, oblivious. It was kind of sad, actually.

"And then I'll give a small speech welcoming the happy couple back to Camelot," Leon went on, proceeding to drape covers over the backs of the wooden chairs.

"Sounds good, so long as you don't want me to talk," Gwaine said, as he followed around behind Leon, flipping the covers inside-out.

"What's on the menu?" Merlin asked, who had come up behind Gwaine now and was trying to right the seat covers, glaring at Gwaine to cut it out.

"Yeah, the menu, talk about that," Gwaine encouraged, reaching back to upset the cover Merlin had just corrected.

"Roast swan, turnips, carrots, white bread..."

Merlin had snatched the seat cover from Gwaine, but Gwaine kept hold of it, and the two were now engaged in a silent tug-of-war as Leon went on.

"And that's after the green leaf salad and the chicken cream soup. There will also be a fish dish depending on the catch--what are you two doing?" Leon demanded.

Without missing a beat, Gwaine changed tactics, immediately smoothing the fabric he had previously been trying to offset. "Tsk, tsk," he said, shaking his head, "can't trust you two to do anything! If this is your idea of decorating--"

Now Leon saw the askew tapestries and the tankard full of flowers. He glared at Gwaine.

Merlin also glared at Gwaine.

Then they looked at each other. Gwaine was absolutley beginning to suspect foul play when, "Fong him!" they shouted in unison and dove for him.

Giggling impishly, Gwaine ducked and rolled, making a break for the door. He darted out just as a figure stepped into it, blocking the pursuit. Gwaine glanced behind him, the shock of red hair confirming his suspicions.

As Leon and Merlin were accosted by Galehaut's "What are you doing? What, what, what are you doing?" Gwaine kept laughing and he kept running, resolving not to stop until he reached the tavern and leaving the girls to do the decorating.

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23 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sun 12 Feb 2012, 10:44 pm

Following closely on Gwaine’s heels and moving too quickly to stop, Merlin crashed right into the knight blocking the doorway, stopped suddenly, and tripped backwards over his own feet. He landed on Leon’s feet and nearly bowled the tall man over as well, but Leon had slightly better balance and merely stepped back.

“Hello, Galehaut. We were attempting to redecorate… Gwaine was helping,” Leon said as he reached down and hauled Merlin back to his feet.

“If you call that helping…” Merlin added, looking out the door where Gwaine had gone running just a few moments before.

“And that is why the tapestries are crooked? What is that horrendous thing sitting in the middle of the table?” Galehaut asked, taking a moment to look around the room. Leon glared at the tankard with assorted wildflowers and Merlin stifled a laugh.

“Yes, and now we’ll have to fix them. That is Gwaine’s idea of a centerpiece,” Leon said, definitely sounding put-upon. Galehaut tsk-ed sympathetically and then shrugged.

“Well, surely two strapping lads like yourselves won’t have a problem with that,” he said, eyeing both Leon and Merlin for one long moment. Merlin was a little taken aback, although he wasn’t sure whether it was being called a “strapping lad” or that particular look, he couldn’t quite say. Leon didn’t seem to notice.
“Well, no. But it is rather bothersome. Galehaut, have you met Merlin?” Leon asked, and Merlin, realizing he was being introduced, had enough manners to shake hands with Galehaut as the red-head smiled brightly and practically bounded forward to shake his hand.

“I have not yet had the pleasure! But Lancelot has mentioned you. Actually, most of the knights have mentioned you. It cannot be an easy job being manservant to the king,” he said, and then steam-rolled right over Leon’s attempt to introduce him by doing the job himself, “I am Galehaut. I believe you were also away when I arrived.” Merlin smiled nervously, because Galehaut had very little concept of personal space… or at least, if he did, it was a definition with which Merlin was not familiar. He reacted with complete bewilderment when he suspected girls of flirting with him, and the growing suspicion that Galehaut was flirting with both he and Leon was a bit beyond bewildering. Not that he held the knight’s eccentricity against him, but he wasn’t sure how he felt about being on the receiving end. Awkward.

“Oh, it’s not… so bad, really. I’m used to it,” he responded, because awkward or not, at least Galehaut was being nice. Leon, noticing that Merlin was definitely taking on the appearance of a startled woodland creature, stepped in and took Galehaut to one side to get some advice on table decorations, leaving Merlin to correct the wall hangings. He was fixing the left hook Gwaine had so helpfully lowered when the right hook of the same tapestry chose that moment to loosen and also fall several feet. Merlin frowned at it, suspecting perhaps more of Gwaine’s silly tricks, and he was still frowning at it when footsteps crossed the floor and Lancelot stepped up the ladder Leon had been using to fix the errant corner.

“You could have fixed it, no one was watching,” he said with a grin to the warlock, who grinned back and looked over at Leon and Galehaut as he got the left corner of the tapestry hanging at a correct angle again and climbed down the ladder. When they rejoined the two other knights, Merlin was surprised to see Galehaut look up in curiosity and then light up like… well, sort of like Arthur when he saw Gwen and thought no one was looking.

“Hello, Lancelot! Come to help decorate?” he asked, shaking Lancelot warmly by the hand by way of greeting. Lancelot just grinned back, and shook his head.

“No, I was passing by and saw that tapestry over there trying to eat Merlin,” he responded, and when all of the knights turned to look at him, Merlin turned red and again did an impression of a startled young deer.

“Ah yes, ever the honorable knight, is our Sir Lancelot,” Galehaut laughed. Merlin glanced at Leon, trying to figure out if he was really as oblivious has he seemed, and from Leon’s lack of curiosity at Galehaut’s very partial behavior towards Lancelot, was forced to assume that Leon really was as blissfully unaware of things as he seemed. Then they all went back to decorating the room, Galehaut helping Leon with tapestries, and Merlin and Leon fixing the chair covers while Merlin whistled the repetitive and annoyingly memorable little tune Lancelot had been whistling just earlier.


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24 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Mon 13 Feb 2012, 4:11 am

Maeglin

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Gwaine's mother didn't raise an idiot.

He knew, when he was hiding out from the regulars, he should always go to the tavern, but he shouldn't go to the tavern.

The Rising Sun was the best place in town, with the best drinks for the best price, but there was this one place in the lower town Gwaine quite liked called the Broken Drum, where the alcohol didn't taste quite like sheep dip, and anyway was cheap enough for it not to matter, and you only got in a fight if you, like, stabbed someone's granny in the face.

For Camelot, it was a seedy dive: but considering some of the haunts Gwaine had survived, it was practically Cockayne.

And it had the added advantage that no one recognized him here, or, rather, if they did, they didn't say. He put his money down first, as was the custom here (sadly) and ordered an ale. It was black and syrupy and warm, but Gwaine liked it, in a weird way, probably the same part of him that liked cheap harlots and planning to sleep when he was dead.

The problem with the Broken Drum was that you didn't go there to meet people. You didn't talk to strangers at this tavern. You came here to get away, to not be recognized, to meet someone or pretend to be someone you weren't. Which was sad, in his opinion: the main drawback of the place, which was why he only went here when he really needed to hide.

It was therefore a surprise when a young man sidled up to the bar next to him.

"Can I get the next round?" he asked. He was blonde, martial-looking, dressed in fine clothes over fine armor. A sword hung at his side, though he seemed as if he wanted to hide this under his cloak. He had a dishonest face--Gwaine liked that in a man.

Gwaine narrowed his eyes and looked around him, as if expecting a fight, but nothing else was out of the ordinary, so,

"Sure," he said.

The man grinned and sat down.

"My name's Kilhwch," the stranger said.

Another oddity. You didn't just introduce yourself in a place like this! Unless it was a fake name. But Gwaine usually came up with things like William and Henry when he was coming up with fake names, not something that sounded like he was hawking up a loogie.

"You're new here, aren't you?"

"And you're a knight of Camelot, aren't you?"

Gwaine froze. He'd left his armor and cape behind, though it was possible he would be recognized by his countenance alone. Still--

Gwaine laughed and took a deep pull on his ale. "New in town, but not naive. A hustler."

"Something like that," Kilhwch grinned.

Gwaine liked this guy, and they drank in silence for a while. "So what brings you to Camelot?"

"The business of pleasure."

"Ha. Barkeep, another round. But seriously."

Kilhwch waggled his eyebrows. "I have business with your king?"

Gwaine's hand went instinctively to his sword.

"Easy, champ, not that kind of business. I'm actually a cousin of the King, myself."

"Wait, what?" Gwaine practically choked on his beer. "Aren't you supposed to announce that sort of thing? Write a letter on the royal letterhead, have heralds announce your arrival, that sort of thing?"

The blonde man shrugged. "Yeah, but where's the fun in that?"

Gwaine pursed his lips, considering. "Fair enough."

They drank in silence again. A serious drinker. Was there anything not cool about this guy?

"You do know the King is still on his honeymoon?"

"Wasn't sure, actually, but good to know. Say, you wouldn't happen to know the best haunts in this town? A bar, a brawl, and a brothel, I like to see one in every town. You look like a man with similar predilections: can I count on your recommendations, sir...?"

Gwaine chuckled. "Gwaine. Sir Gwaine. Knight of Camelot. Well, I'd recommend the Rising Sun--usually good for a fine drink, lovely ladies, and a fair fight. Me and the boys will be there later tonight if you'd like to join us."

"Nope. Had plans to see the sights tonight."

Gwaine nodded. "Don't miss lighting the ramparts at sundown."

"You won't mention I was here? Only I wanted to surprise my cousin."

Gwaine shook his head, belching under his breath. "If you're looking for a place to stay that isn't the castle, the Seamstresses' Guild usually will have a few rooms to rent. Though I could get you a decent room in the palace without name-dropping if you like."

"Oooh, Seamstresses!"

"Not that kind of Seamstresses, I'm afraid," Gwaine said with a wink. "Camelot's a quaint little place."

"I'm sure it is. Well, I'll be seeing you around, Gwaine," Kilhwch said, standing, and, "Here," he said, slamming a coin down on the counter. "Last one's on me."

Gwaine washed down the lingering grin with more black ale as Kilhwch walked out the door. He'd be fun to have around the castle, Gwaine mused. He finished his last beer and left in a hurry. Leon and Merlin would almost certainly forgive him by now, and he had somewhere to be.

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25 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Tue 14 Feb 2012, 5:03 am

“Alright, one more set? Long point….forward.”

Thunk. Leon’s sword struck the shield Merlin was holding square in the middle.

“Alright, Plough. Middle hew. Double.”

Thunk thunk thunk, Leon's sword struck the shield at different angles.

Merlin peeked over the shield at Leon. “You ready?”

Leon wiped some sweat off his forehead and returned to center, holding the training sword in front of him. “Right.”

Merlin took a deep breath and ducked behind the shield again. “Part, middle, over, fool, change, middle, under! Squinting-hew, overrun! Squinting-hew, change! Part, plough, under, over, middle, double! Front hew!—front, front!”

Leon let out a cry as he tried to correct midswing, but the rhythm was lost. He sheathed his sword.

“Well done!” Merlin said, lowering the shield.

“Thanks.” He held the hilt out to Merlin. “Would you like to have a go?”

“No, no—I’ve got to muck out the horses after this.”

“Alright, I think I’ve had enough today anyway.”

Merlin nodded, and together they walked across the training field in the evening light toward the stables.

“Shall I tack up your horse? Friday night, out with the lads again?”

Leon nodded. “I’ll take Lamrei, thanks.”

They entered the stables in silence and as Merlin got the tack, Leon coaxed his courser to the front of her stall with a click of his tongue. He prided himself on having very well-trained horses. He rubbed her muzzle with a smile.

“Er—sorry, which one’s Lamrei again?”

Leon laughed at Merlin’s hopeless face. “This one, Merlin!” Leon said.

“Right, right.” He did not appear convinced, but he started saddling the horse nonetheless. “Sorry, they just look so similar.”

“What do?” Leon said, still grinning.

“Your horses. All nice, clean bay. The courser, the destrier, the palfrey—not that there’s anything wrong with that,” he added. “Very…tidy.”

Leon’s grin faded. “No—no, they’re quite different if you look closely. Lamrei’s got softer eyes, and she’s got a snip that’s lighter. The packhorse you can tell from miles away—the fetlocks are very distinctive.” He realized he was rambling, and changed the subject. “Two horses, swiftest travelling, harnessed in a pair, and grazing ever in places distant from them.”

“Er—the—barbarians?”

“No. Why don’t you get the palfrey, and you can think about it over an ale.”

“Oh, I’ve got the mucking up to do,” Merlin said.

“But you already did it this morning.”

“Yeah, well—if I get it done tonight, I won’t have to do it tomorrow!”

“Oh, come on. You can sing that song you’ve been humming all day. What is it?” Leon tried to think of the tune that he heard Merlin humming earlier, but it was drowned out by a loud singing outside, drawing nearer, followed by the figure of Gwaine appearing in the stables.

“…Try to run, try to hide, break on through to the other side! Hello, lads!” he said, grinning. “Ready to go, Leon?”

“I was just trying to convince Merlin to come along,” Leon said. “Honestly, Merlin, you can ride one of mine.”

“Yours?” Gwaine looked aghast. “You *color-code* your horses! What Merlin needs is one of *my* rides…”


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