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The Unquiet Castle

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26 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Wed 15 Feb 2012, 12:05 am

Maeglin

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"Who's a sweet ride," Gwaine cooed, stroking the long muzzle of a huge black warhorse, "that's right, me boy-o, you are!" The steed seemed to take offence at being so baby-talked and snorted indignantly, tugging his head free.

"Hey!" Gwaine grabbed an ear as Studly Royale went to bite him. As Merlin and Leon watched, horrified, Gwaine climbed up on the fence that protected him from the grumpy beast, half-wrestling, half-calming the horse, alternating a soft voice with an authoritative one. "Here now, easy, easy! Itchin' for a scrap, are you? Down, boy, down!"

"Gwaine, maybe you oughta--"

"Oh, no, he's fine, just bloody bored," Gwaine swung himself into the stable with the black beauty, who was now looking decidedly peeved. "Okay, now, I've had enough of your guff, see? You want to go for a ride or don't you?"

Curiously, instead of trampling him to death, the horse began to calm as Gwaine ran his hands over his dark coat, shushing him. "Dumb bastard," he said, but he said it affectionately and pressed his forehead to Studly's nose.

Merlin watched nervously.

"Oh, don't worry, Merlin, I wouldn't subject anyone else to Studly Royale's temper, ha! I was thinking you could ride Leon Junior!"

"You got another horse?" Merlin cried, at the same moment Leon stammered, "You've named a horse after me?"

"Oh, aye," Gwaine replied, climbing over the dividers to get from one horse to the next. Leon Junior started at this new intruder to his pen, but although he whinnied softly, he didn't cause a fuss. "See, he's a good boy, isn't he? Follows all the rules, and won't get mad for nothing. And he rides great. Come on, Merlin, say hello. And look at what a pretty color he is!"

The horse the next stall over huffed indignantly. "All right, Pussy Willow, you're pretty, too!" he said, reaching a hand through to scratch the white palfrey.

“How many horses do you have, Gwaine?” Leon asked, sounding exasperated.

Gwaine had to think about this. “Um. Nine? No, ten. No, nine. Nine: Studly Royale, Pussy Willow, Leon Junior, and Nero, and then there’s Bacardi, Scrumpy, Beefeater, and Drambuie.” He pointed each one out down the line, immensely proud of his equine fleet.

“How can you possibly afford them all?” Leon wondered.

Gwaine thought he was kidding. “What else am I supposed to do with all this money we get?”

“Pick up the tab once in a while?” Merlin tried.

Leon snorted, but Gwaine didn’t see what was funny. “Ach, see how you are? I offer to let you ride me third-best horse and you insult me! Put that bloody rake down, Merlin, I already got someone coming in to do the mucking out!”

“What? Who?”

Gwaine shrugged. “Some bloke, tanner’s son, I think. Offered a silver coin to him for his trouble.”

“That’s more than I get in a whole week!” Merlin squeaked.

“What, really? I could pay you to do it, haha. Still, you should come out with us just the same, Merlin. I’ll buy you dinner. And I might even pay for drinks!”

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27 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Fri 17 Feb 2012, 10:07 pm

Free food was one of those things that Merlin was generally incapable of refusing. Gwaine, he reflected, probably knew this, and that was probably why he had hauled out the bright gold horse’s saddle before Merlin had even agreed to going to the tavern. And all the knights knew that if Merlin was distracted, you could hand him almost anything and he’d take it. So it was no surprise to him that he found himself putting the saddle on the horse even before he finally decided it probably wouldn’t kill him to go to the tavern.

“But…” he said, not even sure what he was protesting.

“You’ve already saddled up, you may as well come with us,” Leon said helpfully. He’d wandered off and returned with Lamrei, who'd been standing quietly where Merlin had saddled her. While Gwaine took his life into his own hands saddling up the homicidal Royale, Merlin swung into Leon Jr.’s saddle and looked down at the horse’s ears as they swiveled back to him. The horse snorted softly and took a few hesitant steps outside. Leon followed Merlin out of the stable on Lamrei, and they waited for Gwaine to appear, hopefully on Royale and not being dragged along by the reins he occasionally chose to wrap around his wrist to keep the big black horse from walking away without a rider.

Gwaine did eventually manage to get Royale saddled, and he even got into the saddle. Then Royale decided he was tired of waiting and blasted out of the stable, scattering chickens and geese that loitered in front of the door, and surprising both Lamrei and Leon Jr., not to mention their riders, as he tore past them. Leon’s bay leaped after them, and Merlin finally got Leon Jr. to follow at a sedate canter. He was left bringing up the end of what turned out to be a mildly destructive train, as Gwaine went hooting and hollering through the town with Leon on his heels scolding at the top of his lungs, and neither of them paying a lot of attention to what they nearly ran over.

But soon Gwaine’s horse had had enough of galloping on the uneven cobbles and slowed down. Really, he slowed to a walk quite suddenly, causing Lamrei to nearly crash into him, which very nearly resulted in a kicking and biting match in the middle of the thoroughfare before both knights got their horses under control. Merlin caught up with them and rode between the two war horses, since the sun-gold horse was not inclined to react much at all to mock-bites, and Lamrei stopped trying to fight once separated from Royale.

“You owe someone almost a full cart of cabbages,” Merlin remarked as they clopped along, and Gwaine laughed while Leon looked chagrined.

“Cabbages. Who needs cabbages?” Gwaine asked. Clearly, in his opinion, cabbages occupied the same general category as other disgusting things, including probably all other vegetables.

“We can’t all survive on a steady diet of ale and apples,” Leon said from Merlin’s other side, which caused Merlin to snort and then laugh as Gwaine glared at Leon and Leon grinned innocently.

“I eat other things!” Gwaine finally protested.

“Like that chicken I saw you and Percival stealing from the kitchens?” Merlin asked wickedly.

“The one you saw us stealing while you were nicking one of those little steak pies?” Gwaine countered.

“I was getting laundry!”

“In the kitchens?”

“The steam gets the wrinkles out!”

“Sir Gwaine! Merlin!” The bickering pair both turned and looked at Leon as he broke in on their argument. Merlin looked abashed. Gwaine grinned unapologetically at the older knight.

“Would you like to keep arguing, or shall we go in?” Leon asked when he had their attention, and after he’d stopped Gwaine elbowing Merlin with a flat look. Both Merlin and Gwaine turned to look in front of them, and saw that indeed, they were almost to the Rising Sun.

The other knights were already there, but when the three walked in, they hulloo’ed and waved them over and made room. Lancelot was up on the stage singing some vaguely mournful song, which Merlin caught a few lines of as he wandered in.

But you misread my meaning when I met you
Closed the door and left me blinded by the light


He just shook his head and sat down in the spot Galehaut offered next to him, waving a general hello to everyone as he did so. Lancelot finished his tune and sat down with a grin quite at odds with the words he’d just been singing, on Merlin’s other side. He clapped Merlin on the back as he sat down and Percival wandered up to the stage with some of the others.

You can shake an apple off an apple tree

Stuck between Lancelot and Galehaut, who had started chattering away the second Lancelot sat down, Merlin sat quietly and tried to stay out of the way of the conversation for the entirety of the song before Gwaine, who he thought had been up playing some instrument or another, sat down and set a drink in front of Merlin.

“What is that?” Merlin asked, eyeing the thing a bit distrustfully. Gwaine managed to pretend he was deeply injured by this mistrust.

“It’s only mead,” he said, “It won’t bite you. Besides, you can’t sing unless you’ve had a drink!”

Merlin, who had been taking an experimental sip just to make sure Gwaine wasn’t lying, nearly spit the honey-sweet alcohol all over his friend. Instead, he swallowed, half-choked, and when he got his breath back, tried to shrink into the bench while Galehaut, Lancelot, and Gwaine all looked at him.

“Uhhhh,” he said, trying to quickly think of a reason he couldn’t sing. Seeing the deer-in-headlights look on Merlin’s face, Galehaut laughed and spoke up before Merlin could say anything.

“Ah, perhaps I should sing? Percival was just saying I had to, some rite of passage or something,” he said, and Gwaine considered this for a second. Finally, after another meditative drink of whatever he was drinking, he assented. While Galehaut was up singing, and before Gwaine could corral him into singing after the newest knight, Merlin got up and went to sit across from Leon.

“That riddle about the horses,” he said by way of greeting, and Leon smiled.

“Do you have it?” he asked. Merlin shook his head, smiling wryly.

“No, not exactly. Well, not at all, really,” he answered. He wasn’t sure if he wanted the answer or a hint, but anything was better than being forced to sing in front of a bunch of people.


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28 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sun 19 Feb 2012, 5:56 pm

“Think about…other things the horses could be.” Leon took a drink of his ale.

Elyan started singing a song about a brown-eyed girl and Merlin’s face lit up. “Eyes!” He wrinkled his nose. “Not sure if that was your best one, though. The clues are a bit foggy…”

“Oh, no—you’ve got to find one for me now. Anyway, I think I’m to be playing lute on this one.”

He pulled his lute out of its case and got on the little stage with Elyan and Galehaut, and the other Friday Knights followed suit. Leon played rhythm-lute throughout most of the night, only taking a break to play drum on a foreign song called “Oye Como Va,” a tune which apparently Lancelot, Elyan and Gwaine loved but one which neither Percival or Leon had ever heard of. The rhythm was easy to learn and fun to play, though, and they enjoyed it while the other three took turns singing the foreign lyrics and playing equally foreign instruments.

Afterwards they played a few dice games, which Leon hadn’t played since the massacre by Cenred’s men. They were soldiers, of course—death came with the job, and it was best not to dwell on it—but he was afraid it might be awkward, especially for people who lived through it all like Stuart and himself. But it wasn’t bad—it was fun, even. He hadn’t relaxed like this in a while, and they laughed and joked their way well into the night. Now and then he thought he saw Bedivere out of the corner of his eye, or mistook Merlin’s laugh for Galahad’s. He tried not to think about it.

Gwaine had just finished drinking from the Rising Sun’s Aurochs horn, having realized that Stuart would give him the lot free if he could take all seven pints of it down in one go. Everyone cheered as he just managed it, and Leon joined in.

“Come on, Merlin! Your turn!” Gwaine shouted.

Leon glanced at Merlin, who was grinning goofily at the huge drinking horn.

“Right,” he said, and stood up, knocking an empty tankard of ale over in the process.

“No one can drink as much as Gwaine,” Leon said, trying to keep the mood cheerful while he reached over to pull Merlin back down into his seat.

Merlin shook him off. “Is that a challenge?”

“Drink! Drink! Drink!” Gwaine shouted happily.

Leon gave Merlin a warning glare. “Come on, you’re going to poison yourself trying that—sit down.”

“Don’t be a wet hen, Leon!” Percival said.

Gwaine laughed. “Drink fast, Merlin or you’ll never manage it!”

“Stop encouraging him, Gwaine!”

Merlin grabbed the horn. “Nah, I can do it! Doesn’t look that big—!“

“Listen, Galahad, you’re—!” He stopped, instantly turning bright red.

Gwaine, Merlin and Elyan laughed, though a large portion of the tavern had gone silent as well. “Don’t you mean Galehaut?” Elyan laughed.

“Don’t you mean *Merlin*?” Gwaine said, which sent them into further bouts of laughter.

“Where’d Galahad come from?” Merlin giggled.

But Leon was finished making an idiot of himself. He left them laughing behind and hurriedly made his way to the bar.

“Another, Stuart,” he said, pushing his tankard forward. Owen caught his eye—he had heard Leon’s outburst—and quickly took the tankard to fill it.
Well, that was certainly something that didn’t need to be brought up—here of all places….

“What’s wrong? Who’s Galahad?”

Leon looked up to see Merlin standing beside him. “It’s nothing,” Leon said, looking to see if Stuart had finished refilling his drink. But the barrel was empty, and the barman disappeared into the back to fetch another.

“Was he a soldier?” Merlin asked, this time more quietly. Leon glanced at him, and saw genuine concern in the young man’s face. He sighed. It wasn’t really a secret. People just didn’t talk about it.

“Yes. He was training with me to become a knight. You may have seen him around. Brown hair—shorter than me.” He paused, and cursing Stuart’s slowness, continued with, “His parents—well, he was about your age, and we were from the same province, so they asked me to look after him. I should have been able to, second in command and all that. And I swore to guard him with my life. He was one of the most promising lads of the bunch. He was kind and he worked hard—like you do.” He shrugged. “And when the great dragon escaped…. Anyway, we try not to talk about it. The tavern’s no place for that kind of thing.”

“What happened to him?” Merlin asked, breathlessly.

Leon glanced at Merlin then down at the bar. “He was killed in one of the last fire attacks.” Oh God, it still hurt to admit it, even now, years later. He blinked and pushed back from the bar. “Why don’t you have my last pint? It’s been a long day.”

“Leon—“

“Give it to Gwaine, actually—you’ve had more than enough to drink tonight. Good night, Merlin,” he said, and headed for the exit. As he opened the door he heard Gwaine say, “Are you going to drink that?”


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29 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sun 19 Feb 2012, 10:35 pm

From time to time, Merlin unexpectedly found out about the consequences of things he’d done years and years ago. Usually he heard it second-hand, or from someone who’d known someone who’d known someone, and it always made him uncomfortable and oddly numb. But to find himself face-to-face with the grief the dragon had caused when he’d let it free, and not someone he barely knew and would have felt bad for anyway, but Leon, of all people… Merlin felt that familiar knot of guilt in the pit of his stomach and frowned. He stood starring at the door after it clattered shut behind the blonde knight, and didn’t initially hear Gwaine asking him if he was going to drink the ale Leon had left.

“Merlin! On second thought, you better let me handle that,” Gwaine said, mistaking Merlin’s inattentiveness for some sort of momentary, alcohol-induced stupor. Not wanting to explain anything at all to his friend right at the moment, Merlin forced a fairly convincing grin over what he knew was one of his most recognizable kicked-puppy looks and turned to Gwaine.

“Oh, er… yes, you can have it,” he said, handing him the pint. He heard some girl giggle from just beyond Gwaine and glanced over the man’s shoulder to see not one, but two young ladies in truly outlandish clothes. One stepped forward and practically hung off Gwaine’s shoulder, while her twin sister, identical in all but her hair color, which was brown instead of blonde, looked over Gwaine’s other shoulder, blinking a little owlishly. Her attempt to make her eyes look large and doe-like were lost on Gwaine as he took a drink of the ale.

“Ladies, now, you’re going to make me spill my beer, and that would be a true tragedy!” he laughed at the two, who both giggled and stopped draping themselves all over him.

“But you said we could meet the other knights!” they mock-whined.

“So I did! Merlin, why don’t you come sit back down with us instead of lurking about up here all by yourself!” he said, turning and leading the simpering women to the knights’ table. He didn’t look back, apparently expecting Merlin to follow, but Merlin had had quite enough of the tavern tonight. Before anyone could think to drag him back to the table, he slunk to the door and slipped outside, holding it as it swung shut so it wouldn’t clatter. His absence was apparently not noticed, as he heard the uproarious laughter of knights and the high-pitched girlish giggles of the twin sisters.


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30 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sun 19 Feb 2012, 11:22 pm

"Goodnight, gentleman," Galehaut hiccuped demurely, and smiled. "It was ever so thoughtful of you to invite me to such a spectacle. I assure you I had a most pleasant evening...er, morning, now, isn't it? Teehee!" he said, and shut his door.

The last three standing Friday Knights staggered down the hall, mumbling their good-nights as they tried to locate their rooms without incident.

"'Night, Perce. 'Night, Elyan."

"'Night, Lance. 'Night Perce."

"'Night, Elyan. 'Night, Lance," Percival replied, walking into the doorframe instead of the door to his room and giggling. "Wait. Wheredidda others go?"

Elyan rolled his eyes and just shut his door, leaving Lancelot, who was probably more sober and definitely more patient, to explain things. "The others? They've just gone to bed. Leon and Merlin left early, remember? And Gwaine stayed behind with Cadi or Mari or whichever one it was..."

Percival giggled again, and hiccuped. "Ohhhh yeah!"

"All right, you big lump, it's past your bedtime," Lancelot urged, shoving Percival gently into his room. He helped the bigger knight off with his boots and made sure he was sleeping safely before he blew out the low-burning candle and shut the door quietly after him.

All was dark and silent in Camelot. It was a bit scary, but beautiful. Lancelot gave a contented sigh and had just grasped the handle to his own room when he heard a whisper--

Lancelot...

Lancelot looked around, but there was no one there. Assuming it was the wind or his imagination, Lancelot opened his door, just as--

Sir Lancelot, please...

Okay, that was definitely not the wind.

"Hello?" Lancelot asked.

Nothing.

"Is anyone there?"

Lancelot!

The voice! He knew it! "Gwen? Guinevere?"

Lancelot, I need you!

"I'm coming, Gwen!" he called, suddenly heedless of the hour or the darkness of the castle, charging down the hallway. Her voice led him on for some time, until he was thoroughly lost and confused and anxious.

Lancelot!

Suddenly the voice was right here, behind this door, and Lancelot threw it open with wild abandon, naked sword ready, shouting "Gwen!" as he discovered--

"Ooh!" Came a cry from the...bedroom? Lancelot now found himself in.

"Galehaut?"

"Sir Lancelot!" Galehaut was sitting up in bed, white as his nightshirt, clutching somewhat dramatically at the sheets. "I--er--I had no idea!"

"No idea what?" Lancelot blurted out, putting his sword quickly behind his back and growing increasingly embarrassed. "I only thought I heard--did you hear voices?"

"None but yours, I'm afraid." Galehaut smiled warmly. "Is everything all right, Sir Lancelot?"

"Er. Yes. Everything's fine. All fine here, yes, thank you, good. How are you?" Lancelot regretted it as soon as it was out of his mouth.

"Well, you know how it is. Although I can certainly think of many a ruder awakening than your heroic physique startling me from my beauty rest, what?" he grinned impishly.

"Yes. Um." Lancelot wasn't sure how to reply to that. "Sorry to disturb you. Good night."

"And a good night to you, too, Sir Knight."

Awkward...

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31 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Mon 20 Feb 2012, 6:52 pm

Maeglin

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Gwaine groaned at the morning light in his face, cursing himself--not for the first time--that he'd requested a bedroom with a window. He was ignoring, of course, the vast majority of the time when he would just stare out that window at the view of the sky, the town, and the world beyond that just made his heart bloody soar.

But, no, right now, that window was a cruel device meant to torture him, as was the light it brought with it.

Gwaine could handle his liquor, to an almost inhuman level. But last night--from what he could recall, anyway--he'd drunk Leon's, Percival's, Lancelot's, Elyan's, Galehaut's, and Merlin's liquor, as well, at which point it pretty well stopped being an ability to hold his liquor, as it were. And, well, the problem wasn't so much with holding it as it was with living with the consequences.

He wasn't even sure he remembered getting to his room. But this definitely was his room, so that much was good. He remembered the twins--good times--though he definitely felt in need of a bath now--and, oh, that was right: they snored. Since he vaguely remembered both of them being present (though that could have just been that he was seeing double) he could very easily see himself slipping out in the wee hours of the morning in order to actually get some rest.

Which meant he'd only been asleep a few hours. Ah, well, hoot with the owls, soar with the eagles, and all that: Gwaine heaved himself upright. He steadied, did not puke, and then moved to standing.

His door was open, and Lancelot wandered past, but did a double-take at the door. "When did you get in?"

Gwaine ignored the question in favor of gripping the doorframe to steady himself. "When did the English start drinking like that?" he asked Lancelot. "They drink like they don't want to live!"

Lancelot chuckled. "Seriously, Gwaine, I thought you were--" he stopped talking and blushed just in time, as both men simultaneously remembered that Cadi (or Mari?) had been a fling of Lance's once when he was trying to get over Gwen. Which was a bit awkward, if you subscribed to that six-degrees-of-separation nonsense, but Gwaine grinned:

"Snorers, the pair of 'em. I don't even remember getting here." Gwaine cast about for a clean shirt with little success. "Everyone else get in okay?"

Lancelot nodded. "You were last one in." Now he paused, and his face twitched, as if he struggled with something he didn't quite want to say.

"What is it, Lance?"

"Oh. Um. Nothing. Except, you didn't notice anything...strange last night, did you?"

"I was practically unconscious, Lance--"

"Okay, okay, sorry, forget I said anything," Lance said, and moved off.

Gwaine stared at the doorframe, waited for it to stop moving, but it never did. He had to find Gaius, or Merlin. His normal hangover cure just wasn't going to cut it right now. He wasn't even sure he could make it right now without poisoning himself--you know, even more. Maybe Merlin could magically remove a hangover. He certainly needed it after that seven-pint-binge--had he really had two of them? Or did he give that one to Merlin?

Merlin?

Gwaine straightened, suddenly sobered with worry (though the headache remained). Surely he hadn't tried to get Merlin to drink that horn! He couldn't weigh more than a baby bird--that thing would have killed him! Jesus Christ--Gwaine thought, for the scenario was still quite fuzzy--what if I made him drink it? Gwaine thought hard, but he didn't really remember seeing Merlin after offering him the Auroch's horn. He didn't remember much of anything after that, to be fair.

Gwaine staggered toward the Physician's quarters with all the grace of a seasick mariner, but one with a very urgent mission: to make sure he hadn't killed his best friend!

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32 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Wed 22 Feb 2012, 4:50 am

Gwaine rushed into the stable after not finding Merlin at the Physician's quarters, looking breathless, anxious, and also a little bit green. When he spotted Merlin he made a beeline for him.

"Merlin!" he cried, sounding greatly relieved. When he heard his name, Merlin looked up and leaned on the rake he'd been using, raising his eyebrows at Gwaine.

"Uh, yes?" he said, and then blinked, "Wait, did you just get up?" He'd been awake since just after dawn, of course. Then again, he'd only had the one pint of beer last night, not... however many Gwaine had had. The knight rushed at Merlin and clapped him hard on the shoulder, grinning.

"Jesus Christ, Merlin, am I glad to see you up and about! You gave me a scare!" he exclaimed. Merlin just laughed in surprise and stumbled a little under the force of the friendly shoulder-clapping.

“What? Why?” he asked, giving up leaning on the rake to catch his balance. Gwaine shrugged.

"I don't remember a thing about last night!" he admitted, and laughed, as if this was hilarious.

"You don't remember anything? I'm sure the twins won't appreciate that," Merlin said, and then dodged without even stopping to see if Gwaine planned on trying to smack him upside the head for the comment. Gwaine blinked in confusion at that, wondering why Merlin was ducking, but didn’t comment. Or smack him upside the head.

"Oh, well, yeah. I remember the twins. And, ah," he puffed himself up obnoxiously, "I don't need to tell you that they'll be remembering Sir Gwaine! Hur hur hur!" Gwaine ducked out for a few moments, but returned shortly with two full buckets of water and an apple stuck in his mouth. He set the buckets down and took the apple out of his mouth. With his mouth still full, he continued: "And I remember that seven-pinter, by God!"

"You tried to get me to drink that. Leon put a stop to it," Merlin remarked. He frowned at that- and the subsequent conversation, but said nothing else. Instead, he set the rake aside and gestured carelessly at one of the buckets to levitate it and dump it in the trough before a curious horse nose could knock it over. His eyes went gold for a moment, but the bucket didn't even twitch. He glanced at Gwaine to see if he'd noticed, because... quite frankly, it was a bit bewildering and embarrassing to do magic and it not work. He tried again. Nothing. Instead of picking up the bucket, Merlin just stood there and glared at it.

Gwaine watched Merlin carefully. Unless he was still drunk--which he was pretty sure he wasn't--or was seeing things, Merlin looked distant for a minute, and sad. Then, and Gwaine only noticed because he was watching him closely, his eyes went gold. Gwaine jumped, looked around, but no one else was about, and...

Nothing happened. Which was odd. "You all right, Merlin?" Gwaine decided sufficed for both questions he wanted to ask.

Merlin hesitated for a minute before answering Gwaine. He wasn’t up for starting another row about honesty. So he answered honestly, to a point. Of course, he left Leon and Galahad and all that out of it.

"Remember when we were looking for that spell? I tried to cast the one you found, but it didn't work," he said, and went to lift the water bucket. He'd neglected, however, to realize that since Gwaine had filled it, he'd filled it almost to the brim, which was much heavier than what Merlin could carry. They were big buckets...

"Or I thought it didn't. Then I couldn't put out a candle, and I thought it was because I was tired. But look," he said, and gestured a little more emphatically at the bucket, which predictably didn't do a thing. "It's like my magic isn't working," he explained a little plaintively.

Gwaine bridled, and scratched the back of his head. "Well, to be fair, I don't know what you're like really when your magic is working so..." But he bit back the 'I can't help you on that one, mate.' He'd find a way to help, even if it was being someone to talk to. "You think you cursed yourself, or something? Can that even happen?"

Merlin stopped and thought for a moment. "I don't think so. Gaius would know, though..." he trailed off. "I don't feel cursed," he added with a shrug, but he guessed he couldn't rule it out. What if he had cursed himself on accident? Finally, he was forced to admit it. "I don't know. But I've never not been able to do magic," he said, sounding more than a little frustrated, and only adding to his frustration by trying to lift the bucket again and sloshing the water out onto his boots. Wonderful. Who didn't love wearing soggy shoes? And he couldn’t just wave them dry like he might usually do.

"Okay, okay, easy," Gwaine said, diving for the buckets. "I'm sure we'll figure it out." He took the buckets in turn and dumped the water into the trough where the horses waited eagerly, before Merlin could get more irritated. "Just don't--I don't know if you can over-strain yourself as far as magic is concerned, but if anyone was going to figure out how to pull a magic-muscle or something, it'd be you, so just--" he patted Merlin gently on both arms, giving up on what he wanted Merlin to do. "Maybe it's not you, anyway. Could be something else." He shrugged. “Anyway, I better let Leon know,” he said. Merlin gave him a look that implied he had something witty to say, but wasn’t going to say it.

“Not, you know, any of this,” Gwaine waved his hand at the buckets, “But I mean, remember when we...well, let's say he just gets fussy when I don't let him know what's on. I'll make up something. Just so he can keep an eye out. As will I." With that, he grinned like a fool, chucked his apple core off the back wall of the stable and into a bucket, and ducked outside, already half-running.


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33 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Wed 22 Feb 2012, 7:31 pm

Maeglin

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Gwaine was beginning to suspect that he was still drunk, as he proceeded, half-running, back to the castle to hunt for Leon. Stairs moved underneath him, the floor tilted, and walls walked right out in front of him. At least, he hoped he was still drunk, because that would make a whole lot more sense than...

Someone...tilting the room on him?

And as for Merlin's magic not working, that definitely meant something was wrong, though he naturally didn't want Merlin to know he was worried. And he really didn't want Leon to know!

But, still, he ought to be warned.

Which didn't mean Gwaine didn't feel justified making a detour from the stables to Leon's chambers by way of the kitchens, because he desperately needed to sober up.

The kitchens were rather empty of people, quite luckily. He flirted his way past a girl sweeping at the door, snuck his way past another baking bread, and made his way to the cupboards in the back. The pre-breakfast apple made him crave cheese, and of course he would require more apples to go with. He cursed himself that he hadn't brought his cloak or was wearing much more than a loose shirt and trousers, and was just puzzling how he was going to smuggle the goods out short of stuffing the apples in his shirt and going as a woman when--

The cupboard moved.

Gwaine experienced a moment of terrifying deja-vu--remembering what he had thought was a drunken dream of his own wardrobe growling at him hungrily--as the giant wall cupboard opened its doors, growled, and moved.

Okay, I'm not that drunk! was all he had time to think before the wardrobe leapt upon him, and with one devouring bite, snapped him up and locked him inside.

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34 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Thu 23 Feb 2012, 4:56 am

Leon made his way across the courtyard, hoping to get training started a few minutes early today. He had to get ready for the dinner with Elaine tonight. Granted, dinner wasn’t for another eight or nine hours, but he didn’t exactly know how long getting ready took for something like this. He could do with a bath, and his beard needed trimming, the menu needed to be prepared…

A quick head count told him that everyone who needed to be present at training was, (except for Gwaine) but they were just sitting around chatting. It was then that Leon noticed that the sword boxes hadn’t been brought out. He cast around the courtyard for Merlin, and caught a flash of blue as Merlin moved about in the stables. Leon jogged over.

“Merlin,” he said, hoping to gloss over last night’s little conversation completely, “do you think you could get the training kit out, please? Only I was hoping to start a bit early today.”

Merlin looked up. “Oh—sorry! Gwaine came in and distracted me and—I’ll just go get it now, it’ll be ready in a minute.”

“I’ll save you a trip,” Leon said, knowing it would be more efficient if they both carried the training equipment out, and followed Merlin to one of the sheds where the practice swords and shields were kept.

“Did Gwaine find you?”

Leon shook his head. “He’s not even on the field yet. Probably still reeling from that seven-pinter.”

“No, I mean, he said he was looking for you. He, er—said he had to talk to you about something.”

“Oh. Well, I’m sure he’ll be down—“

Leon stopped when he saw a kitchen maid running across the courtyard at breakneck speeds towards them. She didn’t appear to want to stop any time soon, and ran full-on into Merlin, who just managed to catch her despite the fact that she knocked the breath out of him.

“Oh! Sorry!” the kitchen maid said, obviously flustered.

“No problem,” Merlin gasped, clutching his solar plexus.

“What is it?” Leon demanded.

“Oh, Sir Leon,” the kitchen maid stammered, “I didn’t know who else to turn to…”

“What’s happened?”

“Only Sir Gwaine—you do know how Sir Gwaine likes to get into the kitchens, sir—he sneaked in this morning when he thought I wasn’t looking, and, well, he’s gone and gotten himself locked in the bread cupboard!”

Merlin gave a sort of cough, which Leon presumed was his attempt at breathless laughter. Leon looked at the kitchen maid in despair. “What??”

“We did try to get it open, sir, but it won’t budge!”

“Yeah, I bet he’s *holding* it shut,” Leon growled. He glanced at Merlin, who was now rolling on the grass laughing his head off. “I’d better go deal with this—do you think you can manage?”

“Hahaha—oh yeah, sure—hahaha!....”

"I'm really rather worried," the kitchen maid continued as Leon and she made their way back toward the kitchens, "That cupboard doesn't even have a lock! There's some odd things been going on in this castle..."

"I'm sure it's nothing," Leon offered, over Merlin's distant laughter.


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35 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Thu 23 Feb 2012, 9:09 pm

Maeglin

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This was mad. Why the hell--how the hell--had the cupboard just come to life like that? Had he not been that drunk when his wardrobe moved at him night before last? Did this have anything to do with why Merlin's magic didn't work? What's next, the gargoyles on the awnings come to life and eat people?

This was annoying. All he wanted was a bit of cheese, and now he was stuck in this small, dark cupboard. He was probably sitting on a loaf of bread, which was a shame. He'd still eat it, anyway.

This was ridiculous! He slammed his fist--again--against the door, but it didn't budge. He was a Knight of Camelot, not the bloody tin soldier! He couldn't believe he let it catch him, much less keep him! This was an insult to his...to loads of things!

This was terrifying.

Oh, not that he'd ever admit it, of course. Gwaine didn't go in much for honor or glory, but he did have pride, which was different. It wasn't the dark that was the problem, or even, really, the smallness of the space. Um, okay, maybe it was a bit of that. It was the being stuck, being trapped, that--

Well, he didn't like it, anyway.

He pounded against the door, sitting back to strike it with both feet, gaining nothing but sore knees. He didn't call for help, exactly, oh no, not Sir Gwaine, but he was sure his struggles--the banging and the pounding and the cursing--could be heard for miles.

It took him a moment, then, to realize that someone on the outside was speaking to him.

"All right, Gwaine, stop messing about!"

"Leon!" Gwaine leapt up, or, you know, would have, if he wasn't being squished. The air smelled funny in here. "Leon, the bloody stupid thing's trapped me in here!"

"Gwaine, this isn't funny--"

"You bet it's not! I can't get out!" He hoped Leon missed his voice breaking. It was noticeably stuffy here, now, and he wasn't sure breathing in did anything for him.

"Well, how did you get in?"

"The bloody thing ate me, Leon!" Gwaine bellowed, exasperated, banging against the door again. "It just--it moved, and it just snapped me up!"

There was no response from outside.

"I ain't jokin', mate!" Gwaine insisted, desperate not to sound desperate. Even if he was getting ready to start rocking back and forth until the cupboard tipped over.

"Leon, this isn't funny, you great oaf, I'm serious!"

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36 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Fri 24 Feb 2012, 3:38 am

Leon covered his mouth as a laugh escaped his lips. This sort of thing never happened—and to be happening to Gwaine of all people!—it was just too perfect!

“Of course, of course—Gwaine, not to worry, we’ll, er, think of something.” He silently gestured to one of the kitchen maids to get a crowbar.

“Isn’t there a bloody key or something?” Gwaine said. He sounded almost manic! Leon could have some fun with this.

“Oh, there’s no key to this door,” Leon said, tapping on it. “I think it must be stuck or something.” He glanced around the edge of the door, surprised to find that nothing was jammed in the door. That was certainly a little odd—he’d gotten into this cupboard dozens of times, and the doors couldn’t stick unless something was jammed in it. Maybe it was jammed from the inside somehow…
Gwaine kicked at the door again. “Well, break the door down!”

“Gwaine!” Leon said, in his reprimanding voice, “This is cupboard is made of hand-carved mahogany!”

“Leon--!”

“Oh, no, I’m afraid we may have to leave you in there for some time, until we fetch the carpenter to take all apart. Look on the bright side—you’ll miss training!”

Leon was having so much fun with keeping Gwaine at the disadvantage like this, and he did not notice Gwaine’s strikes against the inside of the cupboard had stopped. Now it was quiet. Oh, no—he hoped he hadn’t made him mad…

He sighed. “I’m only joking, son—we’re getting the crowbar now.”

No answer.

He knocked on the cupboard, getting nervous, now. “Gwaine?”

Still no answer.

“Gwaine?!” The kitchen maid rounded the corner with a crowbar, and Leon took it quickly and fumbled desperately to get it in the door. It was a tight seam, and the shaft snapped back in his hands without catching. He tried again, his hands shaking. Oh God, what if he’d been suffocating this whole time—while he was *playing around*….?

“Come on!” he snarled, and, fed up with trying to get in by hand, forced the end of the crowbar into the seam with a kick, and hauled backward. With a sharp crack the door popped out. Leon let out a relieved sigh. “Gwa—ah!”

As he knelt to haul Gwaine out, Gwaine jumped out himself, and gripped Leon like a vice. Leon stiffened, thinking for a second that Gwaine was going to tackle him for teasing him. But Gwaine just hung on, his arms tight around Leon’s ribcage in...a...hug?... Leon could feel Gwaine's heart beating at an abnormally high rate.

“You alright?”

“Fine,” Gwaine lied from somewhere around his armpit.

“You sure?”

“Absolutely.”

Leon tried to shift, but Gwaine’s grip didn’t loosen. “You want to let go, now?”

“Nnnnope!”

“O...kay.” After Gwaine's breathing had steadied out somewhat, Leon gently managed to guide Gwaine off of him.

“All right?”

With one last apprehensive glance at the wardrobe Gwaine cleared his throat and drew himself up, though he folded his arms across his chest and kept them there. "Right. Fine," he said, shaking his head as if to clear it, "just--"

“--Could happen to anyone. It's fine.” Leon smiled and clapped him on the shoulder. “Come on, we’d better get out to the field.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, there,” Gwaine said, grabbing onto Leon's cloak as he turned away. “Aren't you at all fussed about what just happened? I mean, there’s something odd going on here! You saw it!”

“What do you mean?”

“That cupboard bloody attacked me!” Leon must have accidentally been giving him a look, because he added, “Hey--I was right about the goblins, remember?”

Leon sighed. “Fine. What’s so odd?”

“The castle, mate--haven’t you noticed it? Things coming to life, like that--“ he glanced at the cupboard again and stepped further from it, “--that thing. Merlin’s noticed it, too. Something odd with the castle.”

“Merlin? Why didn’t he say anything?”

“Well, who would believe it?”

Leon swallowed, and thought for a moment. “Why don’t you go talk to Gaius--maybe he has some idea of what it is. I’ll go let the knights know that they should get started with training.”


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37 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Fri 24 Feb 2012, 4:13 pm

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Gaius flipped through a few old tomes while Gwaine paced anxiously around the physician's quarters. He felt much better after a change of clothes and a meal--Gaius was better than a mother hen at these things, and had filled him with tea and porridge, and had given him some of Merlin's things to change into, in addition to bandaging up his knuckles where he'd pounded them bloody trying to escape the cupboard--and though Gwaine was still agitated, he felt much better here.

"Hiya, Merlin!" he beamed as Merlin trudged in, looking a little disheveled from horse-mucking.

"So they got you out, then," Merlin chuckled, but just as Gwaine's smile transformed into a frown, he cried out, "Hey! That's my favorite shirt!"

"Ahh, here we are," Gaius said, pointing to a page in a book. "Apparently there are some kinds of magic so powerful they can effect an entire building or citadel."

Gwaine and Merlin gathered around. "Are we even sure it's just Camelot?" Gwaine asked. "I mean, if could be to our borders, or it could be the whole land?"

"Unlikely," Gaius said. "I have a feeling we'd have more problems than just..." a smile spread across Gaius' face, and Merlin followed suit.

"Look. I told you to bloody forget about it: it's not funny!"

Gaius wiped the grin off his face quicker than Merlin, so Gwaine gave him a shove, suddenly less concerned that he was apparently wearing Merlin's favorite shirt.

"Well, we can't exactly forget about it, Gwaine," Gaius said. "It's evidence as to what's gone wrong with the castle. I myself have had a deuce of a time finding anything in my apothecary, though I thought it just might be Merlin not cleaning up after himself."

"Hey!" Merlin protested, but Gaius continued over him.

"You say your bedroom wardrobe moved as well?"

Gwaine frowned. "Yeah."

"Perhaps it's limited to wardrobes?" Merlin wondered.

"Maybe I'm cursed!" Gwaine moaned, still feeling panicked from being locked in the cupboard. "Your magic didn't work around me!"

"No, the first time I couldn't get the candles to go out I was alone."

"Okay, well, look, here's an idea," Gwaine said irritably, "why don't we skip this bit and look ahead to what might be causing it and how to stop it?"



Last edited by Maeglin on Tue 28 Feb 2012, 5:41 am; edited 1 time in total

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38 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Fri 24 Feb 2012, 11:46 pm

“Merlin! What are you-“ Gaius exclaimed when Merlin so non-chalantly mentioned that his magic not working didn’t seem tied to whether Gwaine was around or not. Both Merlin and Gwaine turned their heads to look at the Physician, momentarily confused. Then Merlin figured out why Gaius was spluttering and looking so concerned, and grinned. It wasn’t often you could catch Gaius so completely off guard as to startle that bewildered expression out of him.

“Oh, right. Gwaine knows I can do magic, now. I didn’t tell him, he figured it out,” Merlin said. Gaius still looked a little flabbergasted, so Merlin added reassuringly, “Don’t worry, he’s not going to tell anyone.”

“He said if I did he’d turn me into a frog,” Gwaine added helpfully.

“I did not! I was only kidding,” Merlin answered, sounding a little aggrieved. Gwaine, of course, knew this, but still… he had to get Merlin back for the cupboard remarks somehow. The knight opened his mouth to reply, but Gaius cleared his throat and he fell silent instead, looking over with a slight smile still on his face.

“No, I don’t imagine he would. You wouldn’t have told him otherwise,” Gaius said finally to Merlin, still watching the both of them. Gwaine did his best to look honest- which, okay, wasn’t all that terribly hard, he had a very good honest face that he could produce at a moments’ notice. And Merlin looked uncertain, as if he were fully expecting a lecture for some reason or another.

“So! What causes a spell like this? And how do we stop it? I’d rather not be eaten by any more cupboards,” Gwaine said after a moment.

“Eaten by a cupboard…” Merlin muttered under his breath, and then laughed, again. Gwaine was never, ever going to live this down. Ever. But Gwaine looked like he was about ready to throw a boot at him, so he stopped sniggering.

“A spell could cause this. Or an enchantment,” Gaius said. But he couldn’t be more specific, since they didn’t know what exactly was going on.

“Could I have caused it?” Merlin asked hesitantly. The Physician looked up from contemplating one of the books they’d scattered around and raised both eyebrows at him.

“Have you been casting spells to awake castles?” Gaius asked mildly.

“Not exactly,” Merlin answered, and Gaius thought about asking him what spells, exactly, he’d been casting in his free time. But he didn’t, and instead shook his head.

“No. Generally, this sort of spell requires some intent by the caster. If you had cast it on accident, you would know. Have you ever accidentally cast anything?” he asked when Merlin didn’t look entirely convinced. But finally, Merlin shook his head. No, he’d certainly never cast something by accident.

“Great! So it’s not Merlin. How do we find out what it is?” Gwaine broke in.

“We need more information,” he said, and Merlin slumped a little, making a face. Gwaine looked confused, until Gaius grabbed two huge books and handed one to Merlin, who took it and sat at the table they usually used for breakfast, shoving dishes he hadn’t cleaned out of the way. The other he handed to Gwaine, who wrinkled his nose at the book before realizing that wouldn’t make it burn to cinders, before going to sit across from Merlin with a very dramatic sigh.


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39 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sun 26 Feb 2012, 12:07 am

Leon took the long hall to the courtyard, glancing through some of the very creative chirographs George shoved into his hands on his way out of the kitchens, while his mind clicked through a few possible explanations for the odd occurrences around the castle. More goblins, perhaps? Maybe someone from the town brought some piece of magic to Camelot without knowing what it was.

George’s chirography was painstakingly done, like little parchment snowflakes you make when you’re a kid. Except that these actually looked like snowflakes.

Leon was so used to Camelot’s halls that he didn’t look up as he put a hand out to open the door at the end of the hall, and stumbled forward awkwardly when his hand hit nothing. He looked up, and found that he was only half-way down the hall. He must have been more distracted than he thought.

As he started walking again, he started to feel a tight knot forming in his stomach. The door, for some reason, wasn’t getting any closer. He glanced behind him, and the door he entered through seemed even farther away. There was no one else in the hallway with him.

“Oh no.”

He walked a little faster, then a little faster still. The door remained quite far away. It was—stretching…. The effect it had on Leon’s sense of perspective made him dizzy for a second, and he stopped until the vertigo subsided. He went to a nearby window and looked out, but it was extremely dirty and he could see nothing out of it.

What the hell is going on? He thought, turning back to the hall, and his gaze fell on a door which he knew only led to a storage closet. He glanced down the hall again then cautiously approached the door. As he touched the handle he heard something move beyond the door, something like a scrape or a snarl. He drew his sword and, pausing for a moment with his back to the wall beside the door, threw the door open and leapt inside.

His vision was obscured by a bright light, and when his eyes adjusted he found himself not in a storage closet, but in an empty octagonal room. He sheathed his sword and looked around, but there was not much to see. It was bright—far too bright, lit from what appeared to be a skylight blaring sunlight down upon him. Besides that, music from some unknown source was reverberating around the room, making his head spin.

He turned and, finding that the door had closed behind him, opened it to get back into the hallway.

But it wasn’t the hallway anymore—at least, not the same hallway. It was dark and narrow. He squeezed through it quickly.

There was another door at the end of the hall, and when he opened it he found himself back in the room with the bright light and loud music.

The knot in his stomach had become a festering tangle. He was starting to know what Gwaine felt like.

“Calm down,” he said out loud, and leaned against the door frame. But it wasn’t quite where he expected. He stumbled back to find—the same ruddy hallway he started in!

He glanced at the room of light, which was still behind him, then at the hallway. The music rose in pitch, building to climax.

He made a mad dash for the door, running headlong with all the speed he could muster. But every step seemed to only take the door farther away into the distance. He ran what felt like a hundred yards flat out, wall-hangings rustling as he rushed past but ever repeating.

He collapsed outside another identical door to the one he had entered before, heaving. The door seemed to be watching him silently. Leon glared at it, then, with less confidence, opened the door and peeked inside. Light and music came blaring out. He shut the door gently. He could have sworn the door was smiling at him.

He jumped up and smashed the window on the other side of the hall with the hilt of his sword. It fragmented, but didn’t break—and Leon actually let out a yelp when the glass fragmented into a mirror. He covered his eyes, and muttered, “Ok, ok, ok….think.”

This was some serious magic. Very serious. It was tying Camelot in knots behind his back! Or—just when he wasn’t looking?—He quickly took his hands off his eyes and tried not to blink. But he couldn’t look everywhere at once.

Or could he?

He grabbed a fragment of mirror-glass from the window, and, holding it in front of his face, angled it so that he could see over his shoulder at the hallway behind him. Careful not to take his eye off the mirror, He grinned at the door, then reached out and opened it.

“Leon? What are you doing?”

In the second that he glanced away from the mirror to see Gaius, Gwaine and Merlin standing in Gaius’s apothecary, the mirror’s image changed to reveal the ordinary hallway that led to Gaius’s quarters. He put the piece of mirror in his pocket, and, without risking a glance back, shut the door, and leaned on it.

“You know, I think there’s something odd going on with the castle.”


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40 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Tue 28 Feb 2012, 4:30 am

Merlin, Gwaine, and Gaius stared at Leon as he stood leaning against the door like an exhausted scarecrow. He looked inordinately relieved to have found himself in the apothecary, which might have explained why he’d just said there was something wrong with the castle. Gwaine was the first to react, leaning against the table and then sitting non-chalantly on the book he’d been reading.

“I told you the cupboard ate me! And you didn’t believe me,” he said with mock injury. Next to him, Merlin glanced back at the books, realized why Gwaine was sitting on his, and leaned almost too casually so that most of his was blocked from Leon’s view. Gaius went and started clattering around with a kettle and some mismatched cups, apparently making more tea. This seemed like a very emergency-tea sort of afternoon.

“Well… I’m still not sure about that,” Leon said in response to Gwaine, and Gwaine realized he was actually trying to be funny. Leon was so often serious that the other knights sometimes didn’t always recognize his sense of humor. Gwaine, though, just laughed a very short laugh.

“Right! So why did you walk in here backwards, holding a mirror?” he asked. Leon looked embarrassed.

“I… got lost in the hall. Upstairs,” he asked. This made Gwaine laugh again, this time in disbelief. Leon had been wandering these halls for many years, and him getting lost was as ridiculous as Gwaine getting eaten by a cupboard in the kitchen.

“No, I did! It kept getting longer, and all the rooms were playing music. Are you sitting on one of Gaius’ books?” Leon added in protest.

“What? No, of course not,” Gwaine said.

“Gwaine, I can see the book right there. You are sitting on it,” Leon stated, stepping closer as if he’d like to see why Gwaine was sitting on a book. Gwaine looked down to his side at said book, and shrugged one shoulder.

“Oh, well, yes. I am,” he admitted, and didn’t move.

“Well, what is it? Gaius isn’t going to be very happy with you,” Leon said, squinting as he tried to read what of the book he could see. Gwaine frowned and crossed his arms across his chest, and hopped off the table. Instead, he leaned back against it, one ankle crossed over the other. This blocked the book even more effectively.

“I don’t know. It’s a boring medical book,” he said.

“Just because it doesn’t have pictures doesn’t mean it’s boring, Gwaine,” Leon jested, and Gwaine opened his mouth to respond, but before the two could lapse into an argument, Gaius came over with the hot kettle and four cups.

“Gwaine, are you sitting on a book?” he asked the knight innocently. Gwaine jumped away from the table, because when Gaius or Geoff asked you a deceptively simple question about what you were doing to a book, you bloody well stopped doing it, or anything like it. Under the guise of clearing the table off for tea, Gaius gathered the books into a pile along with several interesting papers and dumped them well out of the way in Merlin’s room. There wasn’t room, after all, on the shelves and tables in the room, and it made sense. Also, Leon was less likely to pursue the books if they were out of sight and out of mind.

While Gaius went about moving the books, the two knights and one manservant sat around the table with much clattering and nearly-breaking of mugs and kettle, but eventually managed to get tea poured.

“Have either of you noticed anything odd?” Leon asked Gaius and Merlin when the physician had returned and taken a seat just across from him.

“Several of my ingredients and medicines have gone missing, and Merlin insists it isn’t his fault… and since they are really nowhere to be found, I believe he is right, this time,” Gaius answered, while Merlin scowled. Why was it always his fault when things went missing?

“And the candle in my room wouldn’t go out last night,” Merlin added.

“I could be an object that brought it into the castle, or an accidental spell. I don’t think it’s the work of a real wizard, it’s far too general,” Gaius said. Merlin, Leon, and Gwaine looked at each other. Leon and Merlin looked at Gwaine in unison.

“What? I haven’t done anything!” he said, leaning back from the table and gesturing so wildly that he almost threw tea all over Leon. Merlin gave Gwaine’s borrowed clothing a pointed look. He liked that purple shirt. He especially liked it in a state free of tea stains.

“Alright, if Gwaine hasn’t done anything…” Merlin said dryly, and grinned unrepentantly at his friend’s glare.

“Has anything been brought into the castle recently?” Gaius asked. Well, of course things had been brought in. But would someone seriously have enchanted a garden vegetable? Merlin gave this a moment’s thought. Yes, he could just imagine a potato coming to life and wreaking havoc. But no, he didn’t think so.

“Well, there’s the table,” Leon said thoughtfully, and everyone looked at him.

“Oh, no,” Merlin said, a look of dread growing on his face. Gwaine, however, thought this was fantastic.

“Great! So we get the table out of the castle, and everything is fixed. Right?” he said, and swallowed the rest of his very hot tea in one gulp. Merlin blinked, and looked at his own cup. If he’d done that, he’d have spit it out all over whoever was across from him, and his purple shirt that Gwaine was wearing would have been ruined.

“The round table? Yes, that would make sense. It is certainly large enough to support such a spell,” Gaius said thoughtfully. Merlin sighed, and sipped his tea carefully until it was gone, by which time Leon and Gwaine had found a piece of paper to draw how best to get the wretched table out of the castle. As they left the apothecary to go take care of the table, he remembered something that would at least pass the time. Also, it might drive Gwaine crazy, and that couldn’t be anything but amusing.

“I have another riddle, Sir Leon!” he said. Gwaine rolled his eyes and sighed. Leon looked over and down at the shorter young man.

“Let’s hear it, then,” he said eagerly.

When you see me, you instantly recognize me. I will turn everything around, but remain absolutely still. I tell you truth that can hurt, but if you try to kill me I just multiply.

"Em...." Leon trailed off as he sized up the table. "I'll have to get back to you about that one when we're finished, I think."

Merlin looked the table up and down. "Is it just me, or does it look heavier than before?"


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41 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Fri 02 Mar 2012, 5:05 am

Maeglin

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"I can't believe I let you talk me into this, Gwaine."

"I can."

"Shut up, Merlin."

"Yeah, shut up, Merlin, and push."

"Waitwaitwaitwait!" Leon gripped the table hard, which was on its side, being rolled carefully through the castle until it stood, now, in the doorway at the top of the back stairs. This way led down to the training ground, a nice flat area which Gwaine thought would be easiest to roll the table across, easy as rolling a coin across a table. But Leon looked at the stairs apprehensively. "Maybe we should just sort of carry it down, rather than--"

"Oh, you've got to be joking!" Gwaine whined. "Look, there aren't even enough stairs to pick up the speed to damage anything. The only thing that'll be hellish is getting it up again once it falls over. On three now."

Merlin wasn't looking like he was going to be able hold up his end for much longer anyway, so Leon's shoulders sagged and he nodded.

"Right. Three!" Gwaine said, and let go. The other two released their holds.

The table rolled, just as it ought, clanked down the stairs, but stayed upright. It didn't even chip the last stair, which Gwaine secretly had been a bit concerned about.

The table rolled, out to the grass, and it kept rolling. It crashed through a tent, and Leon's head whipped around to glare at Gwaine, as if this was his fault. "Oh, don't get your tunic in a twist, darling," he replied, "it'll stop in a minute, and that tent wasn't doing anything, I'll even put it back up, if you're going to fuss."

The table rolled as he talked. Curiously, it didn't teeter, or slow. In fact, it seemed to be...

"I, ahm, I think it's picking up speed," Merlin pointed out.

"No, no," Gwaine insisted. "Just give it a minute, it'll stop."

The table rolled on. It was almost to the edge of the training grounds now. Beyond that was the lower town.

"When?"

The table rolled.

"Any minute now."

The table rolled...

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42 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Mon 05 Mar 2012, 1:48 am

The table had not stopped rolling.

Leon, who was the fastest of the three of them, ran after it hollering for people to move out of the way, while Gwaine and Merlin ran after him. For the second time in as many days, an odd sort of train made its way through the lower town. Thankfully, this time it did not end in a pub, since the great stone table probably would have crashed right through the Rising Sun’s front door. The owner was tolerant, but he would not have appreciated the new furniture.

“It should have stopped by now, shouldn’t it?” Merlin asked, and nearly tripped over a rake that someone had dropped in their hurry to get out of the way of the rolling table. Gwaine, who at least had the good sense to look worried, no matter if he was cackling with childish glee on the inside, shrugged.

“Leon seems to think so,” he replied, watching the tall knight thunder on behind the table. It rolled into a broad, open plaza and they saw a shower of vegetable matter and wood as it crashed through what had apparently been a vegetable stand. Gwaine jumped over the wreckage and Merlin paused to apologize, but the stand owner seemed only to want to wring the collective necks of the three following the table. He went after Gwaine in a hurry, the man’s angry cursing following him.

“Goodness, Merlin, making friends?” Gwaine asked when he caught up, having stopped a good distance down the road to wait for him, and Merlin just shook his head. They were almost out of the lower town, and they saw Leon waiting for them up ahead. He glared at Gwaine as they caught up, and then pointed down the road.

“Does that table look like it has stopped rolling?” he asked angrily.

“No,” Gwaine replied, looking after the table. There was no catching it now. It was almost to the gate, having taken out another cart on its way. The owner was starting up the street for them, shouting and waving her hands.

“Whoops. I think I’ll go, uh… see to that table,” Gwaine said, and tried to dodge around Leon, hoping to avoid the wrath of the large woman who could be heard a full half-block away.

“Oh no, this was your idea. You can apologize this time,” Leon said, reaching out and neatly grabbing the back of Gwaine’s shirt, spinning him back around right into the path of the oncoming one-woman war party. Merlin was about to sneak off back up the road to the castle, wanting no part of this fireworks show, but Leon saw him at it.

“Merlin,” he called out just as Merlin thought he’d made good on his escape. He turned and tried to look like he hadn’t been beating a hasty retreat.

“I was… er… it hit a vegetable stand up there. I thought I might… see if they needed help?” he said. Leon gave him one of those looks that implied he’d heard better excuses from George, who everyone knew wouldn’t know a good excuse if it walked up and chewed his leg off, and Merlin returned.

“We should go check on the table,” Leon said, and Gwaine looked at him hopefully.

“Not you, you’re going to stay here and help-“

“YOUR TABLE JUST RAN OVER MY CART!” the angry woman shouted as she finally reached them, and Leon practically threw Gwaine at her. Gwaine stuttered and stumbled back a few feet.

“At least she doesn’t have a rolling pin,” Merlin couldn’t resist commenting under his breath before he jogged off after Leon, who’d already started striding down the street toward the castle walls. Hopefully the table had found the grass more of a challenge than cobblestone roads, and would not be making mutton of the fat, slow sheep that grazed outside the castle walls.


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43 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Mon 05 Mar 2012, 5:03 am

As a consequence of the runaway table, Leon lost track of time, what with all the apologizing to irate merchants, getting the pigs back into their pens, and picking up the debris from more than one cart. When he managed to check the time it was almost sundown, and he all but ran through the marketplace to grab some new clothes he thought were suitable, wash up (no time to wash his hair, but it wasn’t horribly manky yet) and get ready.

Well, he did have a few minutes to spare….

He found Gaius’s apothecary easily enough this time, and thanked God that getting rid of the table had done the trick. It was now sitting placidly by the town gates. But when he stepped inside he did not find Gaius. Merlin was sitting at the table eating soup.

“Oh. Sorry. Do you know where Gaius is?”

“He’s taking a bath.” Merlin cocked his head. “What are you holding?”

“Er—“ Leon coughed, wrapping the bundle of new clothes up in his arms. He wasn’t really sure if this was the sort of thing you could ask…but Merlin was his friend, after all, and he trusted his judgment…. “Do you know, um, what—what kids are wearing these days?”

Merlin laughed at that, until he realized Leon was actually completely serious, at which point he tried to cover the laugh with a cough. Merlin probably knew what people wore—he was out and about enough to have noticed things here and there that seemed to be popular. And he'd certainly washed enough clothes to know what Some People thought were fashionable. Also, the slightly pleading look Leon was sure he was giving without meaning to probably made Merlin take pity on him.

"Um... I might? I can try to help.” He pointed to a screen in the corner that Leon was eyeing. “Is this for that dinner Gwaine got you to agree to?" he asked.

"--Yeah," Leon said, relieved to find that Merlin didn't laugh too hard at him. He dove behind the screen and changed quickly. "I was going to ask Gaius--I don't wear plain clothes very often, so maybe you can just let me know what you think...ladies like to see that you try, don't they?" He came out wearing one of the first outfits he picked out—it stood out to him because it was a very bright yellow. It was a lot of yellow. But yellow was a good, color, wasn't it? "Now, tell me honestly--is this too flash?"

Merlin blinked, and then blinked again, because the effect of the yellow and maroon together was making his eyes do funny things. He tactfully did not ask Leon if he was planning on joining one of the traveling minstrel shows. "It's very yellow. Maybe something less bright?" he said instead.

Leon looked down, trying not to get blinded himself. "You're right. Something darker!" He tried this next, feeling quite suave and sexy in the next outfit. He pulled the hood up and struck a pose. "How about this? Sort of mysterious, eh?"

Merlin looked at Leon for a moment, wondering where he had acquired the clothing of a woodsman. Or perhaps an outlaw. Maybe both, now that he thought about it. And what was with the hood? "The color isn't bad, but I'm not sure about the hood..." he said.

"Really? I thought it was sort of..." Merlin glared at him. "Alright, fine." He tried this next, thinking the bright red tights really accented his legs.

Merlin actually jumped back. “Whoa!”

“What?”

Merlin recovered, unable to take his eyes off the scarlet fabric. "Did you find anything that doesn't have hose? I haven't seen anyone wearing those. Except maybe George, at feasts," he said, "Sorry."

Leon blinked. "What, no?"

"Definitely not. No hose."

Leon pursed his lips. “Well. At least I can return it.” He then snorted like an indignant child and sulked off to change. It was the last outfit. "Now, I know you can't object to this. I've seen Gwaine wear this exact thing."

This time, Merlin snorted- but not in indignance, in amusement. "But, Leon, Gwaine doesn't care what he wears. That just looks like you couldn't be bothered," he said. “Still, at least there’s no hose. Maybe you could cobble something together out of it all?” He picked up the clothes Leon had discarded, which were heaped on the table. Leon looked over his shoulder as he considered them. It didn't look terribly promising.

"Maybe we should ask Galehaut….”

“—Yeah, maybe you’re right…”

Galehaut turned out to be surprisingly helpful. He had an extensive wardrobe he was only too willing to share, and with a combination of his clothes and the ones that Leon had bought, they came up with the outfit that Leon now stood in front of the mirror wearing. It started with his dress boots, which were still a little scuffed from the Friday Knights but still cleaner than his work boots. He rubbed the toe of one feverishly on the back of his calf in a vain attempt to get it clean. He was wearing Galehaut’s trousers, which were almost as tight as hose and were a bit short, but that didn’t matter because they were tucked into the boots. Then it was the loose white shirt he had bought to go under the yellow jacket, but instead of the jacket he wore a dark green tunic, another addition from Galehaut. It hung to somewhere just below his…

“It’s too short,” he said, tugging the edge of the tunic down as he continued to try to clean his boots.

“Goodness me, you’re shy!” Galehaut said with a laugh.

“I think it looks good,” Merlin said, sounding somewhat surprised.

“I look like a pirate!”

“Isn’t that a good thing?”

“It’s not—ARGH MY BOOTS ARE DIRTY AND I CAN’T GET THEM QUITE ALL THE WAY CLEAN--”

“Leon, Leon, Leon!” Galehaut grabbed him by the shoulders as Merlin hurriedly bent down to clean the smudges off the boots. When Leon looked up Galehaut was grinning. “You’re going to do fine.”

“He’s right,” Merlin said. “Just take a deep breath and be yourself.”

“I can barely breathe in this tunic,” Leon said, shifting petulantly.

“Chin up, Leon," Galehaut said. "No, really—you have terrible posture. Up, up! You’ll be able to breathe just fine if you stand up straight….”



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44 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Fri 09 Mar 2012, 11:27 pm

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Gwaine was a Ladies’ Man. Everyone knew this. Heck, he was the Ladies’ Man!

He was probably being too hard on Leon, if he stopped to think about it. You couldn’t expect someone as emotionally stunted as old Leo to suddenly turn into a smooth-talking stud, so Gwaine assumed that there would be some rough patches in his quest to make Elaine and Leon an item. The fact of the matter was that one learned the most about these things from experience, and as a matter of fact he had been thrown into the deep end to be taught how to swim and had turned out all right. So Leon could buck up and do the same.

Or so Gwaine thought.

The sight of Leon gussied up like a peacock, flanked by Merlin and Galehaut would, at any other time, have been hilarious. But this evening it sparked off a memory and a realization that made his heart skip a beat--

That was tonight!

“See, what did I tell you?” Galehaut said, gesturing to Gwaine.

Gwaine panicked further, though was pretty sure he kept it more or less together. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked, feigning nonchalance while his mind raced to think up a legitimate excuse as to why he was in the very clothes he had trained in today and was currently lady-less with a half an hour to go before the very important dinner. He would just have to say he lost track of time (which was true) and he couldn’t care less that he was running late (which wasn’t entirely true) and he could blame his wardrobe on his general roguish contempt for custom. Yes, that would work: that sounded just like something he’d do!

“It just looks like you can’t be asked,” Galehaut said, with obvious disdain. Gwaine quite liked Galehaut, in spite of his painfully aristocratic demeanor, and had pegged him as one of those types--not that there was anything wrong with that--the moment he clapped eyes on the ginger-headed nobleman. That wasn’t a problem, but Gwaine certainly didn’t appreciate Galehaut’s self-assumed role as fashion watchman. He was probably the reason Leon looked like a turkey.

“Well, maybe I can’t,” Gwaine snapped, then, as Leon paled, decided to go easy on the lad and change tactics: “Only joking, mate, just on my way to change—what’s everyone in a fuss for? Am I late?” he added, sounding carefree and slightly lost.

“Um. Yeah,” Merlin piped up.

Gwaine glared at him. “Well if you don’t mind, I was just about to collect my guest for the evening, so unless there was anything else? Good. Back in a jiff, Leon, I’m sure you can manage opening conversation without me—haha, again, joking—I’ll be back in time!” he shouted down the hall, excusing himself as quickly as he could. It was a good thing he had a reputation for being rude, because he was pretty sure they all had something further to say to him, but as soon as he rounded the corner, Gwaine broke into a sprint.

He reached the stables in record time and pulled himself up onto Pussy’s back without bothering to saddle him. Studly snorted at him to be so ignored, but Gwaine didn’t have the time. Actually, really, everything was good. If he planned this just right, and--

“Cora, Cora!” Gwaine shouted, dropping down off the steed and holding tight to the skittish horse’s mane. “Wait, wait, don’t close up shop yet! Please tell me you’re open!”

Cora looked at him, bemused. “And what can I do for you, Sir Gwaine?”

Gwaine didn’t even fuss about being called “Sir” in this end of town. His eyes darted around the half-packed-up cart of shinies and pretties. He was going to look ridiculous, but--

“That black shirt, there in the back. How much?”

Cora eyed him warily. What is it with people wanting to tell him how to dress? Maybe he wanted to look cheap! “For you? Gwaine, that one’s far too small, you’ll--“

“I know, look like a harlot, I know.”

“I was going to say ‘pirate’, but--“

“Just give it to me.”

“Something the matter, Gwaine?” she chuckled, plucking the silk shirt from its hanger.

“Matter? What, me? Hardly! And that bundle of roses, I’ll take those, too. How much?” Sir Gwaine stripped his shirt off right there, taking the new shirt--more of a costume than a practical shirt--and pulling it over his chest. It was just a little too tight, but he figured he could probably pull it off as though he meant to buy his shirt too small for the sake of fashion or irony or something.

Anyway, the girls packing up the shop couldn’t stop staring. Gwaine decided to think that was a good thing, and he flashed them a wink that sent them all into giggles.

“Twelve pence,” Cora growled, eyeing him eye the younger girls--and did her own gaze rake him up and down, as well? That was a good sign!

He raised his hands in mock-surrender and gave her thirteen pence before leaping back up onto his white steed and galloping towards the Rising Sun like a madman.

He had, thank you very much, not completely forgotten about the dinner, and yesterday evening had asked one of the twins, Mari--no, Cadi--no, definitely Mari--at any rate, the blonde one--to join him for dinner. She had readily agreed, and he had only to collect her.

There was one place where the twins could always be found: the Rising Sun. And sure enough--

“Cadi, my love!” Gwaine spied her immediately upon entering the throng, spun her around, and kissed her hand.

“I’m Mari,” she giggled.

“Oh--“

“No, she’s not!” the other one appeared--Mari, surely, now that he had them side by side--and tugged her sister’s hair.

“Ah, but can you blame me? It's a wonder I don't go blind from your beauty every time I look at the pair of you!” Gwaine said in his defense, grinning widely and, plucking the bouquet of roses into two behind his back and handing each girl a bundle of flowers.

“Oh!” they squealed, in unison, snatching the roses up and smelling them.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

“Ready?” Cadi said.

“Ready?” Mari said.

“Em, yes. Dinner?” Gwaine tried, more tentatively. At least he wasn’t the only one who had forgotten!

“Oh, yes, that’s right!” Mari exclaimed, turning to her sister. “Sir Gwaine is taking us to dinner at the castle!”

“Ooh, but I’ve nothing to wear!” Cadi complained.

“Actually, I--“ Gwaine tried, and the pair looked at him. For the second time tonight Gwaine’s heart skipped a beat in horrified realization. He hadn’t meant to take the both of them! Then again, he couldn’t well tell Cadi “no” now, could he? No, he would have to make this look good. And how could you not make having Camelot’s finest matching set on either arm look good, I mean, really? Leon might fuss a bit, but he’d soon get used to it, and the more the merrier, of course! “I…think you look ravishing, as always!”

“As do you,” Mari growled, running her fingers along his chest and the silk shirt covering it.

He took her hand, laughing, and ushered them out. “Come now, we don’t want to keep the others waiting.”

“Ooh! He’s come on the white pony!”

“Hello, Pussy Willow!”

Of course, the dumb brute was behaving for them.

“All right, up you go!” Gwaine said, lifting them onto the horse and pulling himself up between them. He might have been concerned with over-burdening the white palfrey if the two girls hadn’t been half his size and a third his weight combined.

“Are we ready, ladies?”

“Yes, hurry!” Cadi giggled.

“What? Why?” Gwaine said, urging Pussy onward.

“We didn’t pay our tab! Teehee!”

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45 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Tue 13 Mar 2012, 3:52 pm

It wasn’t that Leon had *no* experience with courtly dinners, even dinners with ladies. For a time Uther had insisted on having such dinners on a regular basis, for Arthur’s instruction. Leon had been to many of them, just as window dressing for Arthur, really. At least Leon had been permitted to wear whatever he liked, so he usually wore his livery and enjoyed sitting back and listening to the conversation. But the whole thing could become a bit…intimidating. The ladies unwaveringly dominated the conversation, and, well, girls like to talk about certain things. Their conversation could be very interesting, if somewhat more intense than he was used to. Arthur found it all very boring, but Leon would have gladly joined in if…well, he could usually think of a good reason to not join in.

But here he had no choice. He would have to provide at least a quarter of the conversation. Fine. He actually had a lot to talk about, should the conversation turn to court gossip—more still if they started in on the subject of music. He wasn’t used to being the center of attention, though.

He was fiddling with the silverware when Merlin entered, holding the door open for Elaine. Leon jumped to his feet, a movement that either resembled a pirate leaping at the beat to quarters, or, more likely, a hare that had accidentally backed into a thorn bush.

“I’ll see where Gwaine is,” Merlin said, obviously trying not to laugh, but he scampered off before Leon could glare at him, leaving the two of them alone.

She looked absolutely perfect, as always. Her dress puffed and cinched in all the right places. He noticed it was one of those low-back dresses as she took off her shawl--somewhat reluctantly, he also noticed. Was she nervous, just like he was?

Why did he always feel like a frightened giraffe whenever she was looking at him?

While he was wondering this she greeted him, smiled at him, asked him how he was and sat down. He supposed he shouldn’t be surprised that she appeared right at home in this kind of situation. He just managed to push her chair in for her so that he didn’t look like a complete ass, and sit down opposite her.

“Am I early?” she asked.

“No, no,” Leon said. “Just in time, actually.” And by God, it turns me on.

“I thought that you would have to cancel dinner, what with getting the Round Table back into the castle.”

“Oh—yes,” Leon said.

“I saw you running after it this morning. I wonder how it got rolling like that!” she said, grinning.

Leon forced a laugh, but couldn’t for the life of him think of a way to change the subject without looking obviously evasive. As the seconds ticked by he looked even more evasive. He was getting distracted by her smile.

“…Are you going to be able to get it back in time? For Arthur’s return?” she asked. Her encouraging smile was becoming hesitant, and he felt he’d better say something.

“Mm, perhaps!” he said. He swallowed hard, and started picking at the base of his wine goblet with a fingernail. Oh, no. The silence. He had forgotten to say something that she could respond to.

Their eyes met for a moment. Elaine broke into a giggle, and Leon found himself laughing as well.

“We aren’t going to get very far like this!” she said.

“I guess not,” Leon said. He picked up the jug of wine and poured for her. Their eyes met again, but this time it was intentional, almost flirtatious. It made him feel young and capable, impressing her with his epic wine-pouring skills. Under her sweet gaze he felt himself beginning to relax, like he could actually talk to this woman for five minutes without help….

“The party don’t start ‘til I walk in!”

And with that attractive self-announced fanfare Gwaine entered, also looking like a pirate in clothes that were too tight for him. He was grinning—but Leon recognized *that* grin. Oh, no—what did he do *now*?…. He set down the jug, ready for anything.

Anything, except a shrill chorus of laughs exploding from the hallway. A second later two very indecently-dressed women that Leon unfortunately recognized from the Rising Sun entered. Gwaine joined in with the laughter and said, “You know Cadi and Mari, don’t you? They’ll be joining us for dinner! Isn’t that lovely?”

Leon’s mouth shut, and he stared at Gwaine for a moment. No. No, no, no. He couldn’t have gone that far. He couldn’t possibly have invited them *both*…Oh, but it would be just *like* him, wouldn’t it?...

Gwaine’s smile flickered at Leon’s expression, but only slightly. “Merlin!” he shouted over the twins’ giggles as Leon forced a bow, “You’ve forgot a place-setting! Come on! Don’t keep Mari waiting!”

“That’s Cadi!” Mari said, already sitting at the table beside Elaine.

Gwaine laughed as if it was all a big joke, and, when Merlin got an extra place-setting and shot Leon a pitying glance, Leon realized he was the only one still standing and sat down quickly.

“We were just talking about court fashion,” Gwaine said.

“*Men’s* court fashion!” Cadi and Mari said together, again bursting into peals of laughter. They talked about it all through the soup course, with Gwaine and Elaine bravely attempting to contribute despite the twins’ apparent authority on the subject. Leon, who couldn’t manage to even dress himself, sat quietly.

Until he felt something brush against his leg. Not just anything—a foot. A stocking-ed foot. A woman’s foot. It tickled his calf very purposefully.

He squirmed back in his seat, his eyes darting to Elaine. Was this her way of trying to make him relax? But she only looked at him with confusion, no blush betraying her deed.

Another brush against his leg, this time higher up, in between his knees.

“...What’s wrong, Leon? I should have thought all men preferred trousers to hose.”

Cold horror passed through Leon as his gaze turned to Mari, who had spoken to him. She was leering at him, and he could have sworn he saw her wink. What--? *She* was--! But, she was Gwaine's--!

“They’re--fine, ma’am,” Leon said. He tried to surreptitiously brush the foot away under the table.

“Anyway, it doesn’t matter what *we* think,” Gwaine said, “It’s the ladies that get to—Jesus, Leon!”

Leon barely managed to keep from spilling wine everywhere as the toes of the unseen foot gave his leg a hard pinch. Mari and Cadi giggled. Elaine and Gwaine looked concerned.

“Sorry,” Leon mumbled, coloring deeply as Merlin appeared out of nowhere to clean up the spill. He managed a quick glance below the table but the mysterious foot had vanished. When he looked up Gwaine was rolling his eyes, and the conversation drifted to drinking, jewelry, and other things that Leon knew nothing about. All of his conversation topics would have been as appropriate for this audience as philosophy would be for horses.

And this was what people did for fun? Yeah, right.



Last edited by beeayy on Thu 05 Apr 2012, 4:58 am; edited 2 times in total


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46 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Fri 16 Mar 2012, 3:36 am

It didn’t look like the dinner was going well, for Leon especially. There was very little doubt in his mind that Leon and Gwaine would probably have a shouting match about Gwaine’s two dinner guests later, although for what it was worth, he wasn’t sure it had been entirely Gwaine’s idea for both of them to come along. He’d only told Merlin that they’d need four place settings, afterall.

Anyway, watching things fall apart was not Merlin’s idea of fun, so after he’d cleaned up the spilled wine, he handed serving duty over to one of the other servants that was hanging around by the door, and booked it not back to his room, but up to one of the castle walls. There wasn’t anyone there this time of night, with guards in the towers looking over the same land as the walls, and with a better view.

For awhile, he stood there and stared out in the direction of the lake. It would have been nice to know that, when he was done waiting on one dinner, he could go home and eat and it wouldn’t be alone, at the table in the workroom, eating very cold soup. Well, the cold soup wouldn’t arguably have been changed by there being someone to eat with, but at least there would have been someone to commiserate with about it.

He sighed a half sigh, and threw a twig over the edge of the wall, leaning over to watch it fall past where he couldn’t see it anymore. Then he shrugged off his fit of moping and sat with his back to the wall, idly wondering if, by climbing to the wall on the town side of the castle, he could look out far enough to see the rogue table, which still hadn’t been brought in from the pastures. Probably the wall was in the way, but it might be interesting to try… Then again, he was comfortable right here, and didn’t particularly feel like going all the way over to the other side of the castle on the inner wall. So he stayed where he was, and out of pure boredom and the need to do something, shredded a rogue tuft of grass that was growing between the rocks. Annoyed, even though he wasn’t sure why, he tried to light the tuft on fire, before realizing that, of course, that wasn’t going to work.

Then he stopped glaring at the unburned grass and blinked in surprise. Why wasn’t his magic working now? It was supposed to be the table! They’d really rolled that behemoth through the town for nothing? If he’d been able to, he probably would have scorched the grass down to the very tips of its buried roots in sheer frustration. He tried to think of anything else that could possibly have been brought into the castle with a curse.

But it was a bit of a hopeless endeavor, given everything that came and went from the castle in any given day. A leaf, blown in by some little fluttering breeze, blew in front of his face, and he caught it. He blinked at it, and then yelped as, precisely like he’d told it to do, it went up in fire and burned his hand. And why had that worked? What was going on here, that his magic didn’t work on anything related to the castle, but did work on something that just so happened to breeze by? Well, at least it proved what he thought- it was the castle that was cursed, not anything else. Also, he needed to speak with Gwaine, and soon. It clearly wasn’t the table causing this mess…


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47 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Fri 16 Mar 2012, 7:08 pm

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"Good night, ladies!" Gwaine waved again as Mari and Cadi went joyriding off together on the back of Pussy Willow, with Gwaine watching them, hoping against hope not to find him wrecked in a ditch somewhere the next morning. But he was too preoccupied with other thoughts to even care--

"You moonlight as a fishmonger, don't you?" Gwaine asked, a smile still plastered to his face, still waving. They were alone: Elaine had excused herself rather early.

"What?" Leon phased through insulted straight to confused.

"You know: you, the opposite sex, nightly hookups in the lower towns--"

"What does that even mean?"

"You must do, because the way you held it together in there, wow! All cool and suave and charming. It was chilling. I was even turned on," Gwaine said. His voice started off dripping sarcasm and ended up dripping venom.

"Oh." Leon said, bowing his head to try to hide the blush that nearly matched his hair.

Now Gwaine snapped. "You know you really are a coward, aren't you? Jesus, Leon, we set up a nice date like that and you--you waste it! I admit the twins are a bit much to handle, but I was looking after them--why couldn't you make a move? Or, you know, say more than two words, maybe?"

Gwaine paused for breath, but Leon didn't say anything: didn't raise hand or word to his defense. And even though Gwaine began to feel like he was hitting a woman, he kept going--probably because Leon was acting like a woman, which made him even more angry.

"And if it bothered you that much you could've taken her for a walk! A ride, even! My God, Leon, some initiative! There's one thing girls don't like, and that's a man who leaves his spine on the battlefield! Sure you can play knight with a horse and a stick, but you can't even say two words to a lady on your first date and it has got to stop!"

Gwaine huffed for a bit longer, looked around for something to kick that wouldn't break his foot, found nothing, and settled for cracking his knuckles. The night had been a disaster, and it was all Leon's fault! He was braver than that, smarter than that, he knew better! Sure he was a bit of a social cripple, but it didn't mean he had to leave everyone hanging like that! Gwaine was disappointed.

And also sad. Leon really needed his help! And it wouldn't do any good to just yell at him.

Gwaine sighed. "Look, okay, I'm sorry. We'll try again. No problem. A single date, maybe, a picnic in the woods, just you two, so you don't have a choice but to talk. Next time, we'll--"

"There won't be a next time," Leon growled, and without another word, stalked off, leaving a stunned Gwaine at the castle doors.

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48 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sat 17 Mar 2012, 4:10 am

Leon walked back to his room, feeling like he’d been kicked in the stomach. That dinner *was* a kick in the stomach. All he could think about was Mari’s foot rubbing up against his leg, Cadi making Gwaine snort wine out of his nose, and Lady Elaine’s very pretty, beautiful lips—lips that could make him think very ungentlemanly thoughts if he wasn’t careful—frowning at him from across the table. Oh, yes, a man who can’t string three words together, that must have looked so attractive. She left first, for goodness sake!

The sensible part of him told him that Gwaine’s lecture was some kind of ridiculous attempt to free himself of guilt, that it was Gwaine who invited those two nutters and upset what was supposed to be an enjoyable evening. It was Gwaine’s fault for trying to run his love life. It was Gwaine’s fault for acting like nothing was wrong so that Leon looked even more like a fool. He should have stood up for himself and told Gwaine off like he wanted to all evening. Just because he didn’t act like a stag during rutting season, it didn’t mean he deserved to be made fun of.

But another part of him told him that Gwaine was perfectly right. Leon had been nothing short of a wet hen and entirely ruined the evening. Maybe he did need help, or maybe he was beyond help.

Leon descended the stairs feeling very confused and sorry for himself.

He became even more confused when he found another set of stairs at the bottom of these ones, ones that had never been there before.

The kicked-in-the-stomach feeling was quickly being replaced by a heart-jumping-into-the-throat feeling.

“No,” Leon said. “We fixed this…!”

He turned to run back up the stairs, but as he jumped onto the first step it shot upwards under him. It was all he could do to hold on, as it carried him upward back the way he came.

“NO NO NO NO NO NO!”

The stairs deposited him unceremoniously onto flat ground, and Leon jumped to his feet. He could hear that damn music again, getting louder by the second. He was on what looked like the third floor of the south hall, except…

“The walls are closing in,” he said, throwing his hands in the air. “The bloody—!“

He turned to go back down the stairs, and smacked into a stone wall.

Ok. He was *not* in the mood for this.

“You…” Leon seethed. The walls were getting closer by the second. The only course of action was to try to get to that door at the end of the hall. Without another glance back he made a break for it. He was surprised at how fast he could run in civilian clothes, but the hallway was longer than it looked.

Just as his shoulders were beginning to bump against the sides, he flung himself through the door, slamming the door shut behind him and landing in the hall that led toward Gaius's chambers.

“GAIUS!!!!”


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DW: The Bachelor
Sandbox: Elinor Dashwood
SG: Agent Double-Oh-Negative
Merlin: Sir Leon
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49 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sat 17 Mar 2012, 4:55 am

From up on the wall, Merlin had a pretty clear view of the main castle doors. He also had a clear view of some sort of altercation between Gwaine and Leon, which ended with Leon stomping off and Gwaine standing there looking confused. So the dinner hadn’t ended well, he thought. He was a little surprised Leon hadn’t shouted at Gwaine, though, for bringing the twins…

Anyway, he had better things to do than contemplate Leon and Gwaine’s disastrous dinner. He really needed to catch Gwaine before the knight disappeared to somewhere else for the night. Dashing down the steps two at a time, in a neck-or-nothing fashion that Arthur, Gaius, and his mother all three would have yelled at him for, he caught Gwaine just as he was turning to leave, still looking vaguely confused.

“Gwaine!” he called across the courtyard, and Gwaine whirled around, managing to toss his hair as he did so. Not for the first time, Merlin wondered how he avoided giving himself whiplash, but he didn’t say anything. If being awkward was his thing, and trying not to be tall was Leon’s thing, he supposed Gwaine probably had to have a hair-tossing thing. It only made sense.
“What, Merlin,” Gwaine asked, sounding a little bit less than his usual self. Merlin hesitated, not sure this was really the best time to break the news about the table. But they couldn’t have the castle running amok longer than was necessary…

“I was up on the wall, and I tried to light some grass on fire,” no, he wasn’t going to tell Gwaine why he’d been burning grass, “And… well, it didn’t work. It wouldn’t light,” he said. The frown on Gwaine’s face was answer enough.

“So the table…?” he asked hesitantly.

“It’s not the table. Can you think of anything else?” Merlin asked, and Gwaine ran a hand through his hair in frustration. He couldn’t think of anything at all, especially not after that dinner, which had already frazzled him more than he’d ever have admitted. With a wistful look over toward the now-quiet kitchens, he gave up any hope of going either to the tavern or to his bed.

“Did you eat, Merlin?” he asked, and Merlin blinked, momentarily confused as to what possible relevance this could have to the situation.

“Um… no?” he asked, more than answered.

“Good. Let’s go to the kitchens. You can eat, and we can both try to think,” he said. He did some good thinking in the kitchens, maybe because of the smell of food and general atmosphere of barely-contained chaos, though why that should be the case was beyond Gwaine. But if they were going to be dealing with a rogue castle all night, he wanted an apple, despite the huge dinner he’d just eaten. Truly, he’d been dealing with carrying the conversation and trying to rescue Leon from his own ineptitude for so much of it that he hadn’t actually eaten much of the food. Anyway, there was always room for an apple, and it might help him think.

“And you’re sure it’s not just you?” Gwaine asked as they walked toward the side-door to the kitchen, and Merlin shook his head adamantly.

“I lit a leaf on fire,” he answered, and his friend looked at him askance.

“Why are you lighting things on fire?” he asked, shouldering open the door.

“Oh, um, no reason,” Merlin answered hurriedly, and gestured vaguely at one of the breadknives in a block on one of the tables. “Hand me that so I can cut some bread, please,” he said by way of distraction.


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50 Re: The Unquiet Castle on Sat 17 Mar 2012, 5:47 pm

Maeglin

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Gwaine, who was definitely not at all preoccupied with thinking about the catastrophe that was this evening's dinner and was instead wholly focused on the matter at hand, nodded absently and reached for the knife.

And missed.

He looked up, sharply, and went for the knife again, actually looking at it this time (which was generally a good idea with knives).

It moved.

It sort of just skidded away from him as if on the end of a string. Gwaine looked to Merlin, to see if he saw this, but Merlin was preoccupied locating as sausage to go with his bread, so Gwaine quickly clapped his eye back on the wayward knife.

Only just in time, as the thing reared its head, dancing up on its point, twirled briefly, and then, quick as a flash, launched itself at Gwaine's head. He ducked, a close shave as the kitchen utensil embedded itself in the cupboard next to Gwaine's head.

"Um. Merlin?"

"No, Gwaine, give me the knife, don't stick it in the wood there--" Merlin began, only glancing at him.

"Um." Gwaine wasn't sure how to say this. 'The knife tried to attack me'? 'I'm probably imagining things but we know from experience these past few days that I'm unfortunately probably not imagining things, though I wish I was'?

And his tongue got tangled up with his heart in his throat when he looked across the room at the block where all the knives were kept. There were at least thirty or forty knives, there, of all different shapes and sizes, no longer in the block where they belonged but vibrating, alive, thrilling with the need to kill, standing up on their points, ready to launch--

"Get down!" was all Gwaine managed. He grabbed the long table in the middle of the kitchen and, with a strength driven by terror that surprised even him, upended the furniture on its side so that, when he'd grabbed Merlin and drug him to the ground, the fifty knives flying at them had instead pierced through the table instead of their flesh.

"Oh!" Merlin said.

Gwaine gave him a Look.

"Can't you magic it away or something?"

"Haven't you been listening? My magic doesn't work on the castle when--what?"

For now Gwaine had grabbed Merlin's shirt, just as fear grabbed him by the family jewels. Merlin followed his gaze up to the cheese cabinet, which was walking, doors wide, toward them, menacing and hungry.

"When I say run..." Gwaine said, but Merlin had already launching himself to his feet and was tearing out of the kitchen, yanking Gwaine behind him. As one man they screamed as they ran:

"GAAAAAAAIUS!!"

"LEEEEEEEON!!"

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