Merlin tries to put on the hauberk all によって himself but the もっと見る he tries, the worse he gets 塔の上のラプンツェル in it. He heaves, puffs and curses to himself for the failure. Having done no good at all, he yanks it back upwards. The weight is terrifyingly heavy as he finally pulls it over his head and lets it fall on the floor, collected in a heap. Not bothering to pick it up, he takes in a huge gulp of air and walks towards his ベッド and sits down. A sheath with a sword in it lay on the bed, staring back at him. Merlin reaches out and runs his finger along the sheath. It was his birthday present from his father last 年 and he loves the sword though he really hasn’t found any purpose to use it. Despite that, he still loves it. A knock on the door startles him and after a 分 recovering, he looks towards the door.
“Can I come in?”
Merlin recognises the voice and smiles to himself. He definitely could use a friend right now. “Yes, Arthur … あなた may.”
The door opens and Arthur walks in, proudly attired in his royal outfit complete with his sword and cape. Merlin gapes looking at him. Arthur closes the door behind him and smiles at Merlin. Swinging his hand in front of him, Arthur presents himself, feeling very proud indeed.
“Are we supposed to be attending something?” Merlin asks, arching his brow. It's not common for Arthur to go out of the 城 in his royal attire.
“No,” Arthur pouts and shakes his head.
“Are あなた getting crowned または knighted? But I suppose あなた are already … so?”
“Nope.” Arthur looks at himself and again shakes his head.
“Am I missing something?”
“Because あなた never dress like this unless there’s an important function または event we need to attend. Why are あなた dressed so … regally when あなた are here to visit me?” Merlin asks, looking at Arthur up and down.
Arthur laughs and walks towards the desk. He picks up the paperweight and weighs it in his hand. “That’s because we are going patrolling in the village, Merlin. Come on, gear up and accompany me, will you?”
“Patrolling?” Merlin laughs. He falls back on the bed, and laughs. “Since when did あなた patrol the village?”
“Since my mother had an interesting proposition for me,” Arthur says, puts the weight back on the 表, テーブル and turns around. His eye catches the hauberk on the floor and he walks towards it, bends down and picks it up. “Have あなた been trying the hauberk, Merlin?”
Merlin looks at Arthur and then at the hauberk in his friend’s hand. “Ahh … that. Yes. I thought I could put it on without anyone’s help, but couldn’t. How on earth do あなた all actually wear it? It’s so heavy! I can barely lift it, let alone wear it. And then there is the mail coif, gorget, pauldron and breast plate that follows suit. That doesn’t include the belt, daggers, sword and ヘルメット … count me out during battles,” Merlin whines.
Arthur laughs. “All that is what keeps あなた from losing your life, Merlin.” He points at the hauberk. “Each piece has its responsibility to 安全, 安全です guard your life.” Arthur walks towards the ウォール and picks up the breast plate, the vambraces, couter and mail coifs and holds them in his hand. The hauberk dangles over his arm. “Each of these pieces is a valuable asset of armour. As a knight, あなた must have all these on あなた または count yourself dead while facing the enemy.”
“I will die while putting it on!” Merlin replies. “I don’t think I can walk with them on!”
“That’s because あなた look feeble Merlin. Look at yourself. Do あなた eat? A knight must be strong not just physically but mentally as well. But in your case, あなた are wasting your time trying to become a knight. Sorry to say this, but あなた don’t fit in there, Merlin.”
“HAH!! Try telling that to my father. He’s the one who’s dying to see me knighted. I never wanted to be a knight, Arthur. あなた know that, don’t you?”
“Of course I do, Merlin and that’s why it puzzles me as to why あなた are still trying. あなた look as if あなた can barely lift the sword …” and then Arthur’s eye drifts off beyond Merlin and towards the sword behind him. “That’s a beautiful sword Merlin … where did あなた get it?” Arthur puts down the pieces of armour and walks off towards the bed. He takes the sword in his hand, pulling it out from the sheath to admires the beauty of the weapon. “This is a beauty,” he says, gazing at the sword in his hand.
“It belonged to my grandfather. My father kept it for me,” Merlin tells, scratching his hand.
“Your grandfather had taste, Merlin. This is a beauty. I know a beauty when I see one, be it woman または sword,” Arthur winks at Merlin and slides the sword back into the sheath. He hands it back to Merlin. “Take good care of that sword, Merlin, it’s not often あなた come across a sword of that kind.”
“Thanks … if it didn’t belong to my ancestors and I hadn’t fallen in 愛 with it, I would have 与えられた it to you. The sword needs a master and I am definitely not the one,” Merlin puts it back on his bed. “Anyway … あなた 発言しました something about patrolling? Why? And you, Arthur? I don’t quite believe it?”
“Why? Because I 発言しました so?”
“Yes, Arthur … あなた may be a prince, but あなた hardly took up any princely responsibilities as long as I’ve know you. And now, all of a sudden あなた storm into my chamber, dressed all regally and requesting my escort to patrol your kingdom, yes, Arthur. It does sound pretty odd to me, especially coming from you. I seriously never expected this from you.”
“Can’t a man change?”
Merlin laughs. “You? Change, Arthur?” he continues to laugh.
Arthur rolls his eyes and purses his lips. “Go ahead, Merlin, amuse yourself.”
Merlin finishes laughing and looks at Arthur. “Right, out with it.”
“Why do あなた want to go to the village, and don’t give me that stupid reason of yours about patrolling because I don’t believe you. I know あなた too well, Arthur.” Merlin stands his ground.
“I told あなた …”
Arthur knows there is no way he can fool his friend. Merlin might be a quiet person, but when he puts his foot down about something, he means business. If Arthur wants Merlin to escort him to the village, he better tell his friend the truth. Arthur clears his throat and adjusts his cape. He reaches for the hilt of his sword and runs his finger along it. “I have to meet with someone, Merlin,” he says shortly.
Merlin’s ハート, 心 skips a beat. ‘Meet with someone?’
“I have to see the blacksmith, Tom.”
Merlin’s ハート, 心 is in his mouth. “Why?” the word came out sooner than he thought. He hopes what’s on his mind is not what Arthur’s planning to do.
Arthur looks surprisingly at Merlin, his lips curved into a teasing smile. “You seem shocked, Merlin.”
“Hmm … yeah … sort of, actually,” Merlin struggles with his words. He silently curses himself for allowing himself to be found. “I was wondering why the blacksmith?”
“Oh, mother’s had a good proposition for me and I need to discuss that with him. It’s about his daughter. I want to marry her!”
Merlin is up on his feet immediately. His eye widens as he stares at Arthur. ‘What the ..’
he thinks to himself. ‘Surely, Arthur can’t be serious about this? Why her and why now? What is Katrina planning to do?’
the 質問 knocked on Merlin’s skull all at once. “Marriage?”
“Yeah …” Arthur laughs. “Funny isn’t it? To think all my life I’ve been running away from it and now, today …” he rakes his hair and looks at Merlin. “I want it.” He squares his shoulder and smiles innocently.
Merlin doesn’t even know what to tell him.
“I want to marry her, Merlin, the girl I told あなた about. I know what あなた must be thinking. I hardly know her and she’s a seamstress, peasant and all that, but I don’t care, Merlin. I really want to marry her.”
“Arthur!” Merlin holds up his hands and tries to let the statement sink in. “Just wait a minute, Arthur,” he adds and takes in a huge gulp of air. After a 分 または so, he looks at Arthur, confusion swirling in his eyes. “This is the girl who humiliated you, the one with whom あなた are angry.”
“As I remember well, you’ve been steaming with anger since the 日 she humiliated you. And あなた vowed revenge, didn’t you?”
“And now, suddenly … out of the blue, あなた want to marry her? Am I missing something here, または do I simply look like a clot pole to you?” Merlin is angry.
“I didn’t mean it that way, Merlin …”
“But that’s how I feel, Arthur! I mean, I’m your friend and I know あなた hated marriage. あなた told me so, and then there’s this girl whom you’re bitterly angry with. How can this come together? Unless …” Merlin looks at Arthur suspiciously. “Unless あなた have an underlying reason all along.”
Arthur bites his lip, walks towards the 机, デスク and sits on it. Dangling his feet, he sighs and shakes his head, slowly from side to side. “What do あなた think?”
“You 発言しました あなた know me. あなた suspect there’s a hidden reason behind it … so, take a wild guess Merlin. Tell me what あなた think, just spit it out,” Arthur says again.
“I think あなた want her. That’s what あなた told me and perhaps あなた didn’t get what あなた want so you’re playing politics here. Correct?” it wasn’t even hard for Merlin to guess.
“Now, who ever 発言しました you’re a clot pole, Merlin!” Arthur skips down from the 表, テーブル and walks quickly to cover the 宇宙 between him and Merlin. He grabs Merlin’s shoulder and shakes it in excitement. “Yes … that was the correct answer.”
“But why, Arthur?” Merlin removes Arthur’s hand from his shoulder. He is completely gutted with Arthur’s decisions.
“I want to own her, Merlin. I want her to be mine and mine alone!” Arthur replies.
“Arthur, this is wrong,” Merlin shakes his head.
“What is wrong, Merlin?” Arthur grabs Merlin’s shoulder again, and this time his eyes are fierce. “I am not forcing her into my bed, I am not attempting to kidnap her または do anything despicable. No, I am asking for her hand in marriage … and I am doing it courteously, Merlin! I am meeting her father and asking him in person. What could be wrong in that?”
“You asking her to marry あなた … that is wrong.”
“Aw, come on, Merlin!”
“You don’t 愛 her, Arthur! あなた just want to quench your thirst and あなた want to do it courtly because she’s not giving in to あなた like the others. And this strokes your arrogance, does it not? あなた want to make it look as if you’re being a gentleman and all chivalrous but deep in your ハート, 心 あなた know it’s not. あなた want her in your bed, あなた want to own her so that she’s reminded of that ownership everyday and あなた want her for yourself, even if あなた don’t 愛 her. That’s what is wrong, Arthur.”
Arthur chortles. “This is getting better and better, Merlin,” he says in between his chortles. “Love, Merlin,” Arthur says, wiping his eyes. “Never existed in my book. I am marrying her so that I can put a stop to her arrogance.”
“No, あなた listen, Merlin. She’s arrogant and stubborn like me. She’s also defiant and very blunt. I like that, even if it hurts my ego, but I like it. I like it because she makes me stronger. She reminds me of who I am. She tweaks my pride and gives me a jolt each time she sends her shards into me, but I like that because it teases me. I feel challenged, Merlin. She’s different than the other women. She doesn’t give in または give up without a fight. She knows how to hold herself strong and she’s bold. She’s not weak like the other. She’s …” Arthur sighs and smiles to himself. “She’s destined to be my queen.”
“Your queen? I thought あなた didn’t want the throne?”
“Merlin, metaphorically speaking … she’s destined for me.”
“Ohh … but あなた don’t 愛 her, Arthur. How can あなた marry without love?”
“I’ll give her satisfaction, isn’t that enough?” Arthur throws his hands up. ‘What is wrong with Merlin? 愛 is all he can think about?’ Arthur thinks to himself.
“That is not what marriage is all about, Arthur, arghhhh!!!!” Merlin walks back to his ベッド and sits down. He feels like stabbing himself with his sword. “That is not what marriage is based upon, Arthur … that’s lust!”
“Then fill me in, Merlin.”
“Marriage should be based on love, Arthur. Not lust. Love, because …” Merlin pauses. How on earth is he going to explain it to Arthur when the latter’s head is filled with nothing but lust? “Love is energy. It’s like magic. It happens when あなた are least aware of it and it can happen with anyone. あなた don’t have to necessarily pretend to like a person または hate them because if you’re meant to 愛 them, あなた will do so unexpectedly. It just happens,” Merlin snaps his fingers. “One 分 あなた hate her and the next, あなた are in love. That’s 愛 … it’s a wonder, it’s something which あなた can never find a good word to explain. Marriage based on 愛 tends to stay strong and provides everlasting happiness. But if you’re engaged in a loveless marriage, it will break あなた down. What あなた tend to do with that girl is that … あなた will break her down, Arthur. And that’s what I’m afraid of.”
“That’s very educating Merlin.”
“It’s not a joke, Arthur!” Merlin snaps at Arthur. “I am begging you, please reconsider. あなた will be destroying her life and yours as well. This is not what あなた need right now!”
“Come on, Merlin; don’t tell me あなた believe in all that crap あなた just told me? Love, commitment, happiness ever after … it’s all rubbish! Satisfaction is the word now. あなた satisfy a woman, then あなた buy her commitment and loyalty and she’s yours permanently! She’ll succumb to your needs immediately. Who needs 愛 when あなた have the energy to make a woman moan and yearn for you? And then there’s money and power as well …”
“Merlin … I understand my way does not … never gets あなた going. I am sorry, but that’s me and I will never change for anyone. I need this girl, によって hook または crook, I need her in my bed. But I will only touch her on my wedding night. Since she’s different, she deserves respect and I am being courtly here. I am asking her hand in marriage properly. And that’s why I am going to meet her father and I need あなた to come along.”
“Me, whatever for? From the way I see it, you’re pretty well all geared and ready with your statements … what do あなた even need me for? Not that you’ll be following any of my アドバイス anyway.” Merlin pouts in frustration.
“I have a reputation, Merlin. They fear me out there. So if I am going to ask his daughter’s hand in marriage, I need someone strong with me, someone who will assure the man that I really mean business. I need あなた as my assurance, Merlin.”
“I thought as much … nope, I’m sorry but not interested,” Merlin says shortly.
“I’m sorry, Arthur, I really am! I find the reason for your marriage to that girl ridiculous and stupid. Sorry to put it bluntly but I really don’t see any valid reasons for your scheme. Yes, scheme …that’s what this is all about. A scheme to destroy an innocent girl’s life because あなた couldn’t stand being touted as an arrogant prat. あなた want to destroy your life, によって all means go ahead, Arthur Pendragon, but I will not allow あなた to destroy hers as well. And I will not be part of it. Should あなた succeed, あなた will do so without my help!” Merlin says and crosses his arms across his chest.
Merlin’s reaction stuns Arthur but he came here expecting backlash for he knows his friend will not approve any of his ideas. Merlin is his best friend, もっと見る like a brother to him than friend, and he knows him too well. So despite being stunned によって Merlin’s sharp words, Arthur still manages to smile.
“Ahhh … that smile again!” Merlin says in annoyance.
“Merlin, I understand your anger and I don’t blame you. That’s what あなた are, Merlin. And I am not asking あなた to change yourself for me but … like I told you, I want her によって all means. So, if あなた come along あなた might be able to save the blacksmith and the girl some pride and dignity. Get what I mean, because if I go there alone and they give me rubbish for answers, あなた know what will I do, don’t you? There are advantages of being a prince where あなた get to use the laws according to your own needs. Do I make a point there, Merlin?”
Merlin stares at Arthur. ‘Surely Arthur doesn’t mean that?’
“From the way you’re staring at me, I think I’ve hit the point, my friend.”
“Are あなた going to threaten that family, Arthur?”
“Only if they keep arguing …”
“But that’s wrong!”
“And that’s why I asked あなた to come along, Merlin. See, あなた don’t like what I might do and あなた know what I am capable of doing, so … which one will it be? Will あなた sit back here and let me handle the situation my way または would あなた rather hop along and save the blacksmith and the girl some dignity?”
“Don’t do this, Arthur …”
“You give me no choice, Merlin.”
“And I thought あなた were my friend.”
Arthur sighs. “Of course あなた are, Merlin, a brother I never had. I am sorry to put あなた in such a tight situation like this but I don’t have any other options. I need あなた and your wisdom now, もっと見る than ever. I need a friend with me … and I don’t have anyone to turn to. If my ways have hurt you, I apologise but please … come with me and save all the troubles that I might make. I need あなた to keep me in line,” he admits finally.
Merlin thinks a while. Arthur is right. If he goes alone, God knows what other troubles he might take back with him. With the situation like this, those are the least they need right now. And the king will be angry knowing Merlin didn’t accompany his son so, to save everyone and everything, Merlin will have to put his frustration aside and ride along with Arthur. And who knows, he might still be able to persuade Arthur to forget about this proposal または save the girl’s life.
“Good, now get dressed and be sure to be attired officially. This is an official visit,” Arthur says and heads to the door. “I’ll be in the キッチン with your mother when あなた are ready,” he says and leaves, closing the door behind him.
“Great … another trouble seems to be brewing and another curse awaits me in the afterlife,” Merlin hisses under his breath and walks to his cupboard.
Gwen pays the money for the tomatoes and turns around immediately only to knock herself against a woman, carrying an infant. The tomatoes roll off her basket but Gwen is もっと見る concerned for the lady carrying the infant. She reaches out just in time to stop the lady from falling back and grabs the infant tightly.
“Oooff …. Steady, steady … here あなた go,” she tells the lady as she holds her firm, ignoring her own fallen things.
“Thanks … thank you,” the lady tells Gwen as she cuddles the infant tightly, her breathing coming in quickly now. “I am so sorry, I didn’t see you.”
“No, it’s not your fault at all. It was mine and mine alone. I should have been もっと見る careful.” Gwen apologises to the lady. “I hope the baby isn’t frightened,” she caresses the infant’s head softly.
The lady smiles. “He’s fine … thank あなた and sorry about the tomatoes,”
“It’s all right. Take care.” Gwen bids the lady goodbye and sighs, looking down at the tomatoes. Some are still fine but mostly are damaged because of the fall. She squats down and begins picking up the tomatoes, putting them into her basket.
“The rotten tomatoes aren’t good for anything, あなた know, unless you’re thinking of feeding the pigeons.”
Gwen looks up immediately, recognizing the voice and a big smile appears on her face. “Gwaine!” she calls and within second, up on her feet. She wipes her hand on her ガウン and rushes to him, embracing him.
Gwaine, the man now firmly in Gwen’s embrace, is her childhood friend. They have grown up together and he spent もっと見る of his time with Gwen than anyone else. He is the only son of the rich textile merchant in Camelot but despite his social status, he and Gwen enjoy an honest friendship between them. And his parents have no problem with that friendship as well. They separated when Gwaine was sixteen years old where he was to attend the academy for boys and spent a long seven years away from his parents and friends. And Gwen missed him very much. Gwaine never came ホーム during his academy years and Gwen didn’t think she would see him again. She’d almost ロスト any hope she had.
“Gwaine!” her eyes widens as she laughs and cries at the same time. “I didn’t think … oh God! Gwaine …” she struggles with her words.
“Just hug me, Gwen. I missed あなた too,” Gwaine says as he holds her warmly in his embrace.
After a while, Gwen pushes herself back and looks at him, from head to toe. Gasping, clasping her mouth with her hands, she shakes her head in disbelief. “Look at you, Gwaine, just look at you!”
Gwaine steps back, waves his hand in front of himself, and smiles.
“Training, exercise, diets … あなた name it, I’ve done it,” he tells her, raking his hair with his fingers.
“And your hair .. it’s longer too. Gwaine … my dear Gwaine, あなた look different,” Gwen covers her cheek and still unable to belief her good friend is all buffed up.
“Tell me, how do I look?”
“Hmm … let me see. Turn around.” Gwen instructs as Gwaine turns around, slowly. When he is done, she bites her lip.
Gwen laughs and claps her hand happily. “Like a prince, Gwaine!”
“Come here,” and again both the フレンズ hug each other. They were in the market and their antics invited curious onlookers their way but they just could not be bothered at this time. These are two フレンズ who have been separated for seven years and now it’s time for reconciliation. Nothing could disturb their reunion.
“You were nothing but a tall skinny boy when あなた left, Gwaine, but now… Where did あなた learn to build all these?” Gwen pokes at Gwaine’s arms. “And this … since when have あなた became fashionable?” she points at his hair.
“Since I didn’t have the time to cut it off. I thought of going bald after I left here but a friend of mine advised me not to and told me to let it grow. Of course at one point I had to trim it a bit または you’d be seeing me with braids,” Gwaine laughs. “But after that I allowed it to grow again. And now, before I came to see you, I decided to have it trimmed in style for I really wanted to surprise you, Gwen. Looks like I did.”
“More than surprise Gwaine, I almost didn’t recognise you.”
“But あなた did Gwen. The moment あなた looked up, あなた smiled.”
“Because I knew your voice, Gwaine. I will recognise your voice even if あなた are standing in the midst of a battlefield. あなた may change anything in あなた but that voice of yours, nope, my friend. あなた can’t change that,” Gwen smiles again with her hands on her waist.
Gwaine laughs loudly, wriggling his finger at Gwen. “Smart, very smart.”
“Just like always.”
“I missed you, Gwen. I really did and that’s why I asked my parents to keep my arrival a secret from you. I wanted to see あなた myself.”
Gwen gapes. “Your parents knew?” she asks in surprise. “I asked them last week if you’d completed your education and they 発言しました あなた have another 年 to go which was really curious because I kept count of the years and I know あなた only had five years. But then, they were your parents and should know better, so … this is a surprise indeed, Gwaine.”
“I couldn’t wait. That’s why I came here straight away.”
“How did あなた know I was here?” Gwen asks.
“I went to your house and saw your father. He told where to find あなた and … here I am.”
Gwen laughs and squats back down, picking up the tomatoes. Gwaine steps フォワード, 前進, 楽しみにして and helps her. “Leave the rotten ones Gwen … they are no good at all,” he tells her.
“Tomatoes are expensive, Gwaine. I’ll be feeding the pigeons with this, like あなた said,” she tells him and continues to pick the tomatoes.
“Stubborn as usual.”
“Some traits die hard, Gwaine.” Gwen finishes with the picking and gets up. Gwaine follows suit.
“Where are あなた heading to? Home?” Gwen asks.
“Home can wait. There’s so much of catching up to do and あなた have to fill me in on everything. I am counting on you, Gwen,” Gwaine says, extending his hand. Gwen loops her hand around his and walks alongside with him.
“What do あなた want to know?”
“Everything. あなた better not skip anything. I want to what happened in the five years I’ve been gone, I want to know what happened to you, I want to know how the king is doing. I want to know how far Camelot progressed … everything. And … of course, あなた will be doing all that talking while I tuck in some of your delicious pie.”
“I’ve missed your cooking, too, and あなた better not disappoint.”
“For you, my friend … I will not. Come on,” Gwen finishes and walks with Gwaine.
“Are あなた sure he is in the tavern, Merlin?” Arthur asks as he steers his horse towards the Sunshine Tavern.
“That’s what the old man in his workshop said. あなた heard it too, didn’t you?”
“Of course I did but I also noticed the man was half drunk,” Arthur answers.
“He was?” Merlin shoots a quick surprised look to Arthur, who is riding on his left. Arching his brow, Merlin waits for his answer.
“He was … tell me あなた noticed the way he was swaying,”
“He did … I thought that was the way he usually stands.”
“People don’t sway in their stance, Merlin. Only drunkards do. Well … looks like we have to listen to a drunken man and hope his words aren’t like himself,” Arthur rides along.
“I believe him,” Merlin says.
“You have no choice, I guess.”
“Why is that?” Merlin shoots another look at Arthur.
“Because if Tom isn’t there, you’re dead, Merlin,” Arthur confirms.
“It’s not my idea that I ride along with あなた … remember that.” Merlin reminds Arthur.
“Only one way to 確認 that … here’s your tavern,” Arthur tells Merlin as both of them nears the tavern. They tie their 馬 to a 木, ツリー and walk inside.
It is a busy tavern and looks to be actively involved with some sorts of games. People are grouped together in the middle of the room with two steady men facing of each other. There is a 表, テーブル set in between them and a board with checkers laid on it. People around the two men were cheering, clapping and some drinking. As Arthur and Merlin enter, no one pays any attention to them.
“What’s going on?” Arthur asks, looking around.
“Looks like they are busy with the checkers game,” Merlin tells his friend.
“Haven’t あなた heard of it? It’s a fun game to play. It involves two people and one will emerge as winner at they end of the day. Usually played for fun but sometimes, wagers are placed and it’s a favourite among gamblers,” Merlin explains.
“I don’t play games, Merlin, あなた know that. The only games I play involve swords, maces, jousts … get the point?”
“Very well, then … come, let’s find a place to sit down and wait until the game is over before we look out for Tom,” Merlin assures Arthur and heads the way towards an empty table. They head to the nearest 表, テーブル from the door and sit down.
“No one realizes we are here?” Arthur is still curious.
“Arthur, when あなた are involved in a game like this, no one will notice anything. Even if the king walks in.”
“Oh … well, I suppose we need to wait then. How do あなた know so much? About the game?”
“It’s my favourite game, Arthur. I win all the time … just ask Morgana,” Merlin tells Arthur, proud of his feat. He looks around the room and notices almost no one is paying attention to them. “Let us have some drinks while we are here, shall we?” Merlin looks for the bartender. The man whom Merlin guesses owns the place is also actively watching the game and he doesn’t see Merlin waving at him. After a couple of tries, Merlin gives up.
Arthur laughs. “Giving up already?”
“He’s not interested in his business … wonder who’s playing those checkers?” Merlin asks and tries to クレーン his neck to have a better look at the game when an oversized woman comes to block his view.
“Can I help you?” she asks her hands on her hips. From the エプロン she adorns and the towel in her hands, seems like she belongs in the tavern, too, though Merlin thinks twice before assuming anything.
“Urm, yeah … actually we would like to buy two tankards of mead, if あなた don’t mind?” he asks politely.
“Of course I don’t mind, it’s my job … two あなた said? In a jiff …” and then she is gone.
Arthur clutches his stomach and laughs. “Is that how あなた order your drinks in here Merlin? If あなた don’t mind …. Merlin, あなた just never cease to amuse me,” and he continues to laugh.
“Fine … how am I supposed to know, not that I hang out in the tavern all the time,” Merlin whines and looks away.
The woman arrives and places two huge wooden tankards of mead and as she turns around, she notices Arthur. She frowns at him. ‘Great … she recognises him.’
“Can I help you?” Arthur asks, casually.
“You are dressed richly … both of you. What business of yours in here? People like あなた never even toss a glance this way. Are あなた here for something または just pleasure?” she asks.
Merlin almost spills the mead on him. ‘She doesn’t recognise him?’
“You don’t know who I am?” Arthur is even もっと見る surprised.
“Am I supposed to?” she asks back.
Merlin watches in amazement.
“No … but yes, we are here for something. Do あなた know where can we find the blacksmith Tom?” Arthur asks, sipping his mead.
“Over there, he’s playing the checkers. And winning. He’s the best in Camelot for that game. No one has beaten him yet,” she tells him and leaves.
“Ahh … あなた get to live another day, Merlin. That’s our man. Since he is winning, let’s enjoy our mead and wait for him,” Arthur says and drinks his mead while Merlin pouts and looks away.
“Now, I missed this very much. Thank you, Gwen,” Gwaine finishes the last bit and licks his fingers.
“I’m glad あなた liked it … did in a hurry あなた know.”
“Girl, I like all your 食 … and I missed them so much. Thanks … now sit with me and tell me everything. First how’s Tom?”
Gwen sits down and plays with the お花 Gwaine bought for her on the way home. “Father’s fine. Just these past few years, business hasn’t been good … but once in a while we get customers taking the forms of the angels, blessing us with good fortunes. And for that alone we are really blessed to be here. But recently father supplied armoury for the king’s guard and the king is impressed with his work. Word has it that father might get a job in the castle, as their official blacksmith.”
“Now that’s a real good fortune indeed. And what’ll happen to you?”
“I might find a job in the castle, I’m sure they could use another servant.”
“Hmmm … interesting. And how’s the king?”
“The king is fine and good health. He’s such a good man. He brought peace to this land and last year, he almost ロスト his life after falling of the horse while visiting one of his allies. But thankfully God loves him and he survived. We are lucky to have him as our king.”
“And Arthur?” Gwaine asks, licking his fingers.
Gwen keeps quiet and that prompts Gwaine to look her way.
“Something wrong Gwen?”
“No, nothing … the prince huh?” she asks and curses silently. ‘He’s a donkey!’
she thinks to herself. “He’s fine, I think. もっと見る pie, Gwaine?”
“What’s wrong, Gwen?”
“What’s wrong, what?”
“You’re nervous and avoiding my eyes. The only time あなた do that is when you’re trying to lie to me … now, tell me what happened?”
“Nothing, Gwai …”
“Gwen, please.” Gwaine reaches out and clasps her tiny hand into his and pats it gently. He feels the shiver and says nothing about it. Something must have happened または Gwen wouldn’t be trying her best to hide it from him. He’s known her long enough to understand her worries. If Gwen decides to stray away from meeting his eyes, then she’s lying または at least trying her best to. Gwen doesn’t lie, as far Gwaine knows. As much she hates liars, she hates lying to another as well. And that’s why it’s always a pain for her to try and even do it. When she still keeps quiet, he leans closer and clips her chin, lifting it up. “Please Gwen. Talk to me.”
Gwen knows Gwaine will not let the matter rest till he knows what happened. And he, too, knows her もっと見る than anyone and understands that she hates lying. And she doesn’t want to do that him, of all people. Collecting her strength, she sighs. Looking at him and trying to smile which she fails of course, she says, “Something happened while you’ve gone, Gwaine. Something that involved my father, myself and … the prince.”
She nods. “A short while ago, my father was involved in an accident. The prince came riding with his フレンズ and knocked my father over. Arthur was thrown off the horse himself. Infuriated and embarrassed to have ロスト the race, he came storming to my father, demanding an apology. And … あなた know me Gwaine, もっと見る than anyone else. あなた know how I 愛 my father and would defend him from anyone at all.”
Gwaine nods and pats her hand softly.
“So, I …” Gwen struggles for words. She clears her throat. “I did something … perhaps it’s foolish in the eye of the others but for me, no. I stood up against the prince and asked him to apologise to my father instead.”
Gwaine listens without moving a muscle.
“It made him raging mad, and he … I don’t know, Gwaine. He was angry, 苦い and humiliated, but … the way he looked at me suggested otherwise. He left after my father apologised and he came back the following day.”
Gwaine listens without question.
“He apologised to father and was all nice with him. He brought me flowers, and … I don’t know what to say, Gwaine.”
“About him! I mean, he’s got a reputation out here. He’s a womanizer and though I don’t know much about him, I’ve heard things, and now I seriously wish I hadn’t behaved like an idiot in the first place. What was I thinking? He’s a prince, for God’s sake, and asking him to apologise, no … I didn’t ask him. I demanded that he apologise to my father. That …” she wriggles her finger at her friend, “was the first mistake. Second, entertaining him … and now I look as if I’m stuck in his web.”
“I don’t follow you, Gwen.”
“He is trying to flirt with me, Gwaine!” Gwen pulls her hands from Gwaine’s clutches and stands up. Moving a step behind from the table, she clutches her forehead, shaking her head. “He was in the market yesterday, trying to make his 移動する on me.”
“He what!” Gwaine was up on his feet as well, his face darkening with fury.
“No, Gwaine … please, sit down. Please …” Gwen rushes to him, circling the 表, テーブル and grabbing his arm, forcing him to sit down. “Please, Gwaine, not now …”
“What did he do?” Gwaine’s voice is no longer soft.
“Not what あなた might have in mind, but … like I said, he’s trying to make his 移動する on me. He flirts and uses all sorts of charm to gain my attention, and the worst part is he doesn’t care where we are and who is looking. He just wants me … I can tell, from the way he looks at me.”
“He needs a lesson, Gwen. Perhaps I can teach him a couple,” Gwaine stands up again and once again, Gwen pulls him down, asking him to sit down.
“Gwaine, please do not get angry. あなた just came home, and trust me; this is the last thing あなた need to worry about.”
“What are あなた talking about, Gwen? You’re my friend, and if not me, who else would do this for you? I don’t care about anything but you, so if you’re in trouble, I will not sit down and watch it pass. I might not know Arthur closely and I didn’t know about his philandering ways, but this is not the way to treat a person, a woman especially. He really could use a lesson in manners.”
“I know, Gwaine, but I have everything under control. I have told him off and I am sure he will understand. It seemed like he did,” she tells Gwaine. But in truth she knows Arthur didn’t understand and will not try to understand her point. But she will keep that information away from Gwaine for now.
“Are あなた sure, you’re fine, Gwen?” Gwaine asks, looking at her suspiciously.
“Of course I am. Besides, I have あなた should anything go wrong,” she chuckles. Gwaine smiles but sadly. “Oh come on, now … Gwaine!” she punches him lightly on his arm.
“I am worried for you, Gwen.”
“Don’t be. It was my mistake to underestimate the prince but after telling him off, I feel better. I just hate him, that’s all. I can never see him the same way I see the king. That’s why it was rather hard for me to explain about Arthur.”
“Good, if あなた are fine with your actions, then I am, too, but remember, if あなた are in any sort of trouble, anything at all …”
“I have you. I know,” Gwen tells him with a smile.
“Come here,” he reaches out and cups her cheek, pulling her close he plants a キッス on her forehead and embraces her. “No matter what happens … what so ever happens, あなた have me, remember that!”
“I will Gwaine, I will.”
“All right Tom!” A man shouts in jubilant from the corner of the tavern.
“Yay … Tom, here あなた go … another mead on me!” another man yells, raising his tankard high.
“Oh, thank you, but I promised my daughter not もっと見る than a tankard. Thank Jerome,” Tom says and walks to meet a friend によって a table. Someone taps on his shoulder and he turns halfway round, looking at the woman who works there.
“Those two are looking for you. Been there for some time … seem genuinely interested in you. Maybe you’d like to meet them,” the woman says and leaves.
Tom waits to get a better view after the lady leaves and the moment he spots Arthur, his ハート, 心 thumps wildly. He gapes and grabs the side of the table. ‘What is he doing here?’
he thinks. Tom looks around and searches if there is any way he can leave unnoticed but unfortunately the only way out is through the way in. And Arthur is sitting right beside it! ‘Please … please let me leave,’
Tom prays in his ハート, 心 and still keeps on looking and suddenly his eyes make contact with Arthur. The prince is looking straight at him and after a 分 of staring, Arthur smiles. ‘Great, he saw me …’
Tom thinks again. Arthur waves at him, asking him to come over. Like it または not, Tom has to oblige. This is the prince and he is aware of the punishment if one disobeys the king または the prince. Tom straightens himself and walks towards Arthur.
“Ahh … Tom. Congratulations on your win. Come sit down with us and have a drink,” Arthur invites.
“Sire,” Tom bows respectfully, and at that time, the whole tavern turns towards them. They spot the prince for the first time that afternoon and those drunk could hardly be bothered, those half drunk are still trying to figure why on earth is Tom bowing to man seated at the 表, テーブル and only those that are still sane seem to realize they have a royalty in the tavern. The place buzzes with excitement as men come フォワード, 前進, 楽しみにして and bow to the prince in respect. Women curtsey and even the lady who served them a while 前 apologises for her behaviour. Arthur assures them he is in for a drink and urges them to go back to their drinks and games. He then asks Tom to sit with them. Tom is reluctant in the beginning but after further persuasion, he obliges.
“This is Merlin, son of Sir Balinor and my best friend. And he is the best checker player in Camelot, I’m told,” Arthur brags, crossing his arms across his chest. “I can tell you, there is no one better than Merlin.”
“Arthur?” Merlin calls to disagree but Arthur isn’t listening.
“Oh shush, Merlin. あなた never admit your strength …” Arthur waves at Merlin and turns to meet Tom. “Don’t mind him, Tom, he’s always being modest.”
“Anyone can be the best in checkers, Sire.”
“But not everyone can win consistently. I believe it requires great strength, mentally and emotionally,” Arthur says, squaring his shoulders.
“It tests your patience and あなた have to have plenty of it,” Merlin chips in.
“True sire. Patience and tactics I must say,” Tom adds.
“Ahh, yes tactics. My favourite part, except of course for battles, yes, but I believe I am not much of a tactician in checkers,” Arthur says and finishes his 秒 tankard of mead. Setting the empty wooden tankard down, he signals for another. “You can’t compare checkers with battles, right?”
“No Sire, it is like the battlefield. あなた have to be smart to identify your opponent. あなた need to be on alert with movements and sometimes あなた need to think like your opponents does. If あなた know your opponents movements, if you’re quick enough to dispose them, then the victory is yours. Checkers is like that,” Tom explains proudly.
“In other words, あなた need to be clever, Sire. Being stupid doesn’t get あなた near the king at all!” A man chips in from the 表, テーブル beside them and everyone starts to laugh.
Merlin didn’t like the way they were laughing at the way the game is played. Yes, he agrees one has to be tactically equipped and mentally strong to withhold the advances of the opponent but it doesn’t mean one has to be clever to play the game. Does that mean those with lower intelligence cannot play it? または is the game restricted to those they label as smart? And what’s with linking the game with battles and calling people names? Battles and checkers vary a lot. In checkers, あなた know your opponent’s movements but in battles, あなた don’t! And there’s always luck attached as well. Calling names isn’t what Merlin came to anticipate here.
Arthur notices Merlin’s quietness and arches his brow. “Are あなた all right, Merlin?”
“Hmm …” Merlin is bored and he shows it.
“Perhaps, Sire he’s feeling the pinch によって those things we 発言しました … he is a knight after all,” the man behind Tom says and laughs. Arthur joins him.
“Jerome!” Tom argues and asks the man to quiet down. Jerome laughs and drinks his mead.
“What do あなた mean によって that?” Merlin asks, looking at the man.
“No offence there, but haven’t あなた been trying to be the knight for the past two years and still haven’t made it … so when the prince says you’re the best in the game of checkers, I couldn’t help but laugh,” Jerome explains with a laugh.
“Why? Because I am stupid? Is that what あなた mean?” Merlin is riled up. Some of the men in the tavern are now paying attention to the heated argument between Merlin and Jerome.
“Jerome!!! No sir, please ignore the drunken fool’s words. He couldn’t even differentiate 日 and night when he’s drunk … I apologise for his accusation,” Tom apologises.
But the apology comes a bit too late because Merlin is hurt. He knows his strengths and it wasn’t that he couldn’t pass the exams but he simply didn’t want to. The life of a knight is not what he wants. It was what his father wishes for him. He is simply fulfilling his father’s wishes. Not that he is stupid not to get through the exams and tests, like everyone thinks he is. Now everyone, including Arthur, thinks he is useless. Even a drunken fool thinks he is stupid.
“Merlin, come on, get over it. He is drunk,” Arthur calms his friend. “He doesn’t know what’s he saying.”
“I simply think those who struggle to get over the knight’s academy is not mentally strong for facing the real world.”
“JEROME!!” Tom shouts in anger. “Keep your mouth shut!”
“A knight is made of valor, intelligence and tactically acute. And the player who wins the checker game also has to be in same mould as a knight. God … Tom あなた could be the king’s knight anytime. あなた keep wining with your intelligence, but the king accepts wimps like this boy here into his academy every year, thinking they will make a difference.” Jerome laughs again, followed によって the rest in the tavern.
Tom is up on his feet and grabs Jerome’s shirt, rattling him wildly. “How dare you? Do あなた know to whom あなた are talking? That’s Sir Balinor’s son, あなた fool!! Apologise immediately.”
“Everyone knows the boy doesn’t make it through the academy, Tom. And he will not make it again this year. The knights were talking last week, and the week before … everyone talks!” Jerome snaps back. He isn’t drunk like everyone thinks he is. He seems to be perfectly sane.
“Enough!” Arthur gets up on his feet and takes a quick look at Merlin. His friend is hurt and angry. “Apologise,” he demands, looking at Jerome.
Tom releases Jerome’s シャツ and steps aside. Merlin turns to look at Jerome.
“Didn’t あなた hear what the prince said, Jerome?” Tom reminds angrily. But Jerome on the other hand seems to opt for silence.
“So, あなた think I’m a wimp?” Merlin asks. His voice is choking back his sadness yet his eyes are red, raging with fury. He is hurt and very angry. No one has insulted him like this before. No one disparaged his intelligence before. No one has humiliated him to this level before.
“I heard…” Jerome starts.
“I said, ENOUGH!” Arthur shouts again, stopping Jerome from continuing. “Come on Merlin, あなた don’t have to sit here and listen to them. We are done.” Arthur reaches to grab Merlin’s hand but his friend brushes it off.
“No, あなた think I can never become a knight? あなた think I’m not smart enough to pass the tests?” Merlin asks again, getting up, pushing the chair so hard till it falls back. He ignores it. He turns to face Jerome and nears him, stopping only an inch from him.
“Merlin,” Arthur calls again.
“Fine. Why don’t あなた test me in the game of checkers? または anything else あなた want. I will 表示する あなた how smart I am. Come on, be a man and face me,” Merlin challenges, looking at Jerome sharply.
“Merlin!” Arthur calls again, trying to grab Merlin’s シャツ but again his friend brushes Arthur off.
“No Arthur, I have to do this. Come on. Be a man.”
Jerome smiles. “I’m not good with checkers but I will ask Tom to play on my behalf. We play with a wager. あなた win, I take back what I 発言しました and walk out of this tavern naked. And I will walk back home, naked! But if Tom wins, あなた need to …” Jerome scans Merlin and his eye rests upon the sword at Merlin’s waist. “I want that!” he points at the sword.
Merlin looks down at the sword and back at Jerome. He smiles. “Done!”
Tom didn’t like what he hears and pulls Jerome aside and whispers. “Jerome, あなた are insane. I will not be part of this … find someone else. I have to get home,” Tom says. But Jerome grabs his arms and whispers back.
“We can be rich, Tom. These are the royalties and they have plenty to spare. I want that sword. Get me that and I will sell it and we split. あなた can consider the debt あなた owe me done. あなた don’t have to pay a single cent.”
“Tom, opportunities doesn’t knock on the door twice. Come on. No もっと見る debts. あなた can start collecting money for your daughter. Think about it,” Jerome encourages.
Tom thinks a while and considers it to be a good wager after all. He owes Jerome a lot of money and hasn’t paid anything back. But if he wins it for Jerome, perhaps his friend will keep up with his words. Maybe he can start collecting his pay for his daughter. Sighing, he nods his head. Jerome laughs and slaps Tom’s shoulder in excitement. He turns back towards Merlin and nods.
“Good, bring it on!” Merlin says, smiling. link