Title: A Mystic Night
Disclaimer: Merlin is owned by the BBC and other associated parties. I do not make any profit from this story and the plot is purely fiction.
Summary: AU, pre-slash, A/M, Looking for a place to camp for the night, Arthur and a few of his knights stumble upon a gathering of Druids who are making their annual pilgrimage to the Isle of the Blessed. Little did he know that destiny was going to intervene.
Pairings: ArthurxMerlin, MorganaxMerlin (none sexual)
Author's Note: I've done another story like this, were I shifted around the characters to have different parts in the original mythology: (Lady of the Lake). In this Arthur is still Prince and this is before he meets Merlin. Merlin and Morgana are druids and with Nimueh who isn't Uther's enemy. The story came about after listening to the song A Mystic's Dream by Loreena McKennitt. If you've seen the movie The Mists of Avalon, than you've heard parts of it. Enjoy the story.
The sound of night drawing on was all around them, lulling them into it’s comforting embrace. The riders slowed, spying the large fire ahead. Unease stirred for a moment as they waited to see if those gathered were friend or foe.
Mist clung to the ground among the trees, shrouding all in white and gray, distorting even shadow, but still they waited for conformation, a sign…and out of the mist it came. In the shape of a woman. Tall and pale as the mist, sapphire eyes and blood red lips, she walked as if the mist carried her.
"You do not need to fear, Arthur Pendragon. You are most welcome to share our camp for the night." Her voice rang out, saturated in power and the unseen. She held power that he could only dream about.
They dismounted, eyes still searching, ears tuned for the slightest noise to give away deceit. "How is it you know of me, Lady…?" He let the questions hang in the air.
"Nimueh. I know of you for I have been told of your coming. By one whom has the Sight. She foretold me of this night and so I have prepared for you and your companions arrival. Come, please accept my hospitality." She drew back, arm raised in a beckoning gesture, inviting them to enter the camp.
Finally relaxing, they followed. Seeing to their horses first, the five of them were soon engulfed into the merry making of those gathered. They learned that those gathered were on a sacred pilgrimage, to the Isle of the Blessed. It was to honor not only the Goddess and all other pagan gods, but to honor the old religion itself.
Arthur and his men sat there drinking and listening to stories of the Druids. It wasn't very often that the Druids were gathered in such a large group and their practices, though not rare, were a mystery to these hardened warriors.
Nimueh excused herself from them, promising to return in a moment. They sat back, watching those gathered dance and play, their merry making looking so free and wild compared to the tame banquets of Camelot.
"My Lord, this is the most fun I've had off a battle ground in such a long while." Leon, one of the older knights, murmured to him, taking a large gulp of wine from his wooden goblet.
"They certainly know how to feast." Lancelot, said just as softly, eyes roving over everything. His eyes shone, either from the roaring bonfire or the flowing mead that they had been drinking since the feast started.
"Arthur Pendragon, and his honored guests. We bring you a sight that few outsiders have been privileged to see. On this night, the night of the full moon, two among us shall dance to the Goddess in thanks for this meal and for a safe journey to the Isle. I hope you will enjoy it." She drew back into the shadow of one of the trees.
They sat there waiting for the entertainment to begin. A low humming started and than out of the mist that still encircled them, a low horn sounded, wailing its mournful sound. A shadow detached itself from one of the many shadows. Her voice rose and fell, chanting in a low hum.
Her face was covered, a hooded clock hung from her shoulders, hiding her face and body. All that could really be seen were her arms pale white and painted in with markings, and some of her hair, twisted and knotted with flowers and leaves.
As her chant came to an end, a second shadow detached itself. His voice rose high, though slightly deeper than her. He was dressed like her, with a clock hiding most of his body. Marking marred his arms, bracelets of flowers woven together adorned his thin wrists.
The wailing horn sounded again, and they started to move, just a shifting of weight from one foot to the other. A low chant sounded behind them. Drums pounded and the lone horn sounded and they began to move.
They stepped and leaped, twining around each other like snakes. At first it appeared to be just a dance, steps practiced and memorized for future reference. Except that it soon shifted, from the controlled movements to a wild frenzy. They moved around each other, like two warriors, feinting and parrying, a dizzying dance of pale limbs and swirling clothe.
The chanting rose with the level, driving them into an even deeper trance, keeping the beat and increasing it…and the outsides watched in awe, at the display. Never had they seen such a thing, and they like all others were drawn into the song, the dance, the magic. Binding them into the old religion and making them it's pawns as it did for all it's followers.
And as the fire started to die, the dancing frenzy seemed to slow. The woman stumbled and caught herself, pulling her hood back to smile in tired triumph for a job well done…but none watched her. All eyes were on the other whom still danced as if possessed…and as if some string connected to him was cut, he fell to the ground, gasping and clawing at it, trying to draw in air.
"Merlin!" The second dancer raced over to her fallen partner, turning him over, seeking to see what ailed him.
The one called Arthur stood too, compelled by some unknown force to help the fallen dancer. He raced over, falling to his knees, lifting his head up. The hood fell back, showing flushed pale cheeks, midnight black hair and lashes, pink lips that at the moment were opened as he continued to gasp for air. He held his shoulders down, trying to keep him from flailing and hurting someone.
She looked up in thanks, bending low over him. "Come back. Please come back. You've gone too deep, Merlin. You need to come back or you'll die." She whispered anxiously, her words slurred in her speed to speak them.
She continued to speak them, he lay there fighting to come back. Arthur leaned down, seeking some sign that the man was wakening from the trance. A flutter of his eye lids and they opened, showing shining golden eyes that gazed upon him in wonder.
Everything else seemed to slip away, all that he saw was those eyes and the skin beneath his palms. They seemed almost to speak to him. It wasn't meant to last forever though. He gave a small smile, and whispered for his ears alone, "Arthur Pendragon."
It seemed to shatter the silence around them. His eyes closed and he gasped as air finally was able to come to his starved lungs. The body beneath his hands went limp as the last of his strength went out. A pale hand came into his line of vision and he glanced up, spying the woman. "Shh, sleep now." She stroked his raven black hair.
Sensing his stare, she glanced up into his eyes. "Will you help me carry him to his bed?" She asked softly. He nodded, and with a grunt, lifted him from the ground.
The crowd around them parted, letting the three of them pass without being stopped. He followed her through a maze of tents and bed rolls, away from the fire and noise to the quieter outskirts of their camp.
She stopped at the base of a tree, a willow next to the stream that watered them, and indicated that he could set down the passed out Druid. He lay him down gently, not wanting to waken him. As he pulled back, his hand was grabbed in his pale grasp and pulled towards his chest.
It rested there for a second, feeling the slow even beat of his heart. He felt his face soften, and reached up to stroke his hair once before extracting himself from his grasp. It was than he realized that he was not alone. She watched him with eyes that saw everything.
"What is it you go by?" He asked softly.
"Morgana." She looked to her sleeping partner. "Your, mine and his fate are intertwined now, Arthur Pendragon. Be sure to look for us, when we come to seek you out…and be kind to him. You two will have much to get through before you will be accepted." She glanced up and her eyes shone just as gold as his had.
"I will." He glanced once more at the sleeping Druid before stepping back and walking away back to those gathered. He could feel her gaze on his retreating back the entire time.
As morning came and the sun cut through the fog, the knights and their Prince rode off, back to Camelot. All left with a better understanding of the wilder side of life, but only one left with a promise to keep and a destiny revealed to him…and though he never looked back, he kept close to his heart the night he saw the dance of the Goddess and met his fate on a mystic night.
Until Next Time