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14 August 2011 @ 11:08 pm
PaperLegends: Tinker, Tailor, Wizard, Spy, Part 7, Final part (R)  
part 6


The car journey could have been five minutes or two hours, for all Arthur was paying attention. He was so far into himself that he was oblivious. Today seemed to have stretched on forever.

He didn’t even notice that they had stopped until Merlin poked him in the side.

“It’s dark,” he said stupidly, looking out of the car.

“It’s been dark for hours,” Merlin said. “It was dark before we even left the hotel. It’s gone midnight now. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine, Merlin,” Arthur said, catching Merlin’s eyes. They held each other’s gaze for a second before Merlin nodded firmly. He looked, for a moment, almost wise. The idea was so alien that Arthur was suddenly very awake. He pulled himself out of the car and followed Leon and Lancelot up into the small flat.

“Welcome to HQ,” Lancelot said.

“We need-“ Arthur began, but Leon cut him off.

“Some rest,” he said. “You won’t be any good like this. Get some sleep.”

Arthur was dimly aware of a familiar looking blonde woman who waved. He waved back as he sat down on the sofa, and then there was some man who looked about seven feet tall in front of him. He stared for a moment, before sagging back into the cushions, determined that he was going to stay awake. They needed a plan.

They needed…


Arthur woke up last, and he could tell by the expression on Gwaine's face that it was bad. He had never known the man to frown for longer than a few seconds before, but he was sitting on one of the chairs and glaring at his hands.

Merlin was standing by the door looking vaguely sick and with a growing bruise creeping across his forehead.

“They took it,” Arthur said.

“Look on the bright side,” Gwaine said, looking up again and smiling suddenly, like someone had flicked a switch. “We’re still alive. We’ve got Merlin to thank for that, too.”

“It was automatic,” Merlin said. He was watching Arthur curiously, “I’m good at shields. You’ve both given me a lot of practice over the years.”

“I’ll bet,” Lancelot said, startling Arthur, who looked around and found himself the centre of attention. “Sorry, introductions are probably in order. This is Percival and Elena. Elena, Percival, these are Arthur, Merlin and Gwaine.”

“Nice to meet you,” Elena said, sounding completely genuine. Arthur looked at her, a little bemused.

“Thank you,” Arthur said, before turning to Merlin and repeating the words. He held Merlin’s gaze as firmly as he could. He wanted it to serve as a thank you for all the times before, as well, and he thought that Merlin kind of understood, because there was a quirk of a smile before his face fell back into perplexed irritation.

“It’s just...” Merlin waved his hand at the room. “We were so close. We were almost ready to destroy it and then they stole it." Arthur could feel the floor underneath him vibrating slightly, and from the look of other people’s faces, they could too. Gwaine reached out to touch Merlin's wrist and it stilled.

“It’ll be fine,” Gwaine said.

“We’re going to stop them,” Lancelot said. “We know who they are now. That means we can find them.”

“You're missing the point," Arthur snapped, noticing as the pair turned back to them, that there was something under Gwaine's smile, something darker, and Merlin looked as though he was on his last legs. His hair stuck everywhere and the bags under his eyes. "The odds are overwhelmingly in their favour. They have whole armies of people who don’t seem to feel pain. They have three magic users, we have… Merlin. You should leave. Run. Go somewhere they won't find you. Survive. This isn't your fight.” He looked around at their faces. Saw Leon staring back at him, face set in determination. “I'm the one who dragged you into this. If I hadn't showed up on your doorstep, Merlin, then you... neither of you," he inclined his head to Gwaine, who was nodding back at him slowly, "would be here. You'd still be safe. And Leon…"

“I’m not going anywhere,” Leon said.

Arthur wasn’t sure why Lancelot was here, or Percival or Elena, but when he turned to them, they stared him down until he sighed and looked away.

“No one's safe,” Merlin said with a sigh.

“They aren‘t going to kill the whole world.” Arthur said, “That would be ridiculous. And Morgana might be mad, but she’s not stupid. They’ll just go after those who oppose them.”

“You’re not going to do this alone, Arthur. You miserable, honourable, stupid prick,” Merlin said with feeling.

“To go up against them is certain death," he tried to make his point clear. This was his mess.

“In my opinion, a far superior option to uncertain death," Gwaine said, cheery once more. “So wishy-washy." There was a grin of approval from Elena, and Percival nodded.

“You hate my guts," Arthur pointed out, staring at Gwaine.

“Yeah, sometimes,” Gwaine admitted. “But sometimes you’re not a complete nightmare. And Merlin would follow you into hell and back." Merlin blushed a rather disturbing shade of magenta. “And I trust his judgement.”

Arthur nodded, slowly, pulling himself to his feet with a heavy breath. He looked at Merlin who gave a rather shaky grin.

“To hell and back, right?” he said.

“Then we’re going to need to find them,” Arthur said, glossing over the way his chest was suddenly tighter than before. Lancelot nodded. He felt Gwaine's hand smack him on the arm companionably. "Merlin, do you know anything about rituals like this?"

“If Freya is – was – right about what they’re trying to do, then they’ll need some sort of magical nexus, a place where a lot of magical power can be pulled together.”

“Find it,” Arthur said. Everyone was looking at Merlin now, which was a little better than them looking at Arthur, because at least now he wasn’t aware of their pity.

“Arthur!” Merlin protested, his eyes growing wide. “That’s over a year’s worth of research, at least. And I don’t even know where to start. There's no way I'll ever be able to-"

“Find a way." Merlin opened his mouth to protest again, but Arthur hadn’t finished yet. He lowered his voice, and he felt a bit silly doing this in front of the others, and Gwaine especially, but there had been a moment back there when Merlin had looked at him, a little abashed, and pledged his undying loyalty, when it had been like it used to be, only better. So Gwaine or not, Arthur was going to say this. "You always do." And, just like that Merlin's mouth closed and he nodded, standing as close to attention as Merlin ever got.


Merlin had commandeered the table, and the Internet connection. He seemed to be alternating between looking at online maps, and looking at strange websites with clip art pentacles at the top of them.

“This is ridiculous,” he said, and Arthur watched as he stretched his arms above his head. “I don’t know whether I’m looking for leylines, sites of magical significance or what. It could be anywhere. Do you know that there are seventy two places of pagan interest within twenty miles of the Department? They’re supposed to be sacred places or something.”

“You think that Morgause and the other two are going to one of those?” Arthur asked, leaning over Merlin’s shoulder.

“I think that they could be going anywhere. I might as well say that they’re going to come here and perform the ritual. There’s just as much chance of that as anywhere else.

Gwen and Elyan had arrived half an hour earlier, and Gwen came over to join them, smiling sadly.

“Isn’t it working?” she asked, looking at the screen.

“I don’t even know where to start,” Merlin admitted.

“Well, what are you looking for?” Gwen asked.

“Something that attracts magical energy, or generates it, or channels it. Something that will concentrate the magic so that they can use the stones to tap into it,” Merlin said. “These artefacts and rituals always take place somewhere like that. It means that the person performing the magic doesn’t have to be as powerful.”

“Concentrates magic?” Gwen said thoughtfully.

“Do you know somewhere?” Arthur asked. Gwen nodded, slowly.

“Sorry, it’s just something Gaius was saying earlier today. He was talking about one of the pieces of equipment in the Research and Development section. He said that he was trying to make something that captured magical energy and converted it into electricity. But he couldn’t get it to work. It gathered the energy and focused it, but he couldn’t convert it.”

Merlin stared at her.

“You’re sure about this?” he asked.

“Yes, he was talking to Morgana about it this… yesterday morning, I suppose it is now.”

“Morgana?” Arthur asked. “Did she seem interested?”

“Yes,” Gwen said slowly.

“That’s it, then,” Merlin said, sitting back. “All this time looking and it’s right under our noses. They’re going to do this in the Department itself.”

“But when?” Arthur asked.

“Traditionally midnight or midday give the best results,” Merlin said. “It’s some archaic magical lore or other. I never understood that.”

“During the day, the Department will be crawling with people,” Arthur pointed out.

“It’ll be crawling during the day as well,” Leon said, stepping in. “Morgause declared a state of emergency, that means people will be working round the clock.”

“Only people on the main floors, the R&D section won’t be,” Gwen said. “The state of emergency doesn’t affect them unless they’re working on something vital to national security, or something to do with a current case, and nothing to do with Uther’s death or the house you visited yesterday has ended up in R&D.”

“So there’ll be floors full of people to see us coming, but no one to see what they’re doing?” Arthur asked. “That’s convenient.”

“When something’s that convenient, I tend to think that’s because it’s been planned that way,” Elena said. “But you don’t need to worry about the people. They won’t see us.”

“What do you mean they won’t see us?” Arthur asked.

“Elena’s a cat-burglar in her spare time,” Lancelot said. Arthur blinked. So far in the few hours he had known her, he had seen Elena trip over a chair leg, her trousers and her own feet. “She says that she can get us into the Department.” He turned to Elena. “I thought you said that you couldn’t see a way out, though.”

“Doesn’t matter anymore,” Elena said cheerfully. Everyone turned to her. “Well, once we’re in, either we win, in which case we don’t need to worry about getting out, or we die, in which case we don’t need to worry about getting out. Either way, we don’t need to worry about the exit strategy.” She said it as though it was meant to be comforting. Arthur didn’t think he was alone in not finding it comforting at all. Even Gwaine seemed to be struck dumb.

“Are we sure they’re not going to try this during the day?” Lancelot asked.

“With Gaius there?” Elyan asked. “I tried to eat my lunch in R&D once, almost touched one of his experiments. I was out the door before I even realised what was happening. He knows the place too well, and he designed the security system. They won’t risk it while he’s there. He’s too smart to be taken in for long.”

“It works the other way too, though,” Gwaine pointed out. “If they can’t get in there, that goes doubly for us. Morgana and Morgause might arouse Gaius’s suspicions, but they at least work there still. Gwen and Elyan might make it inside, but the rest of us wouldn’t last half a second.”

Arthur looked around, thinking furiously.

“We’ll have to go in after dark, then, and hope that Gaius has gone home. Elena, show us how we’re going to go in, and let’s come up with a plan for what to do when we get there. When we know what we’re doing we can get some more rest. Most of us have barely slept.” He looked around at the faces that surrounded him, and wondered how they were ever going to pull this off.


Once they were past the main floors, they split up. It hadn’t been Arthur’s idea, he had wanted to keep them together; there were few enough of them as it was. But Leon had pointed out that Merlin might be better placed somewhere Morgana and Morgause couldn’t see him, so he could work magic from a distance, without them being able to target him. Arthur hadn’t been able to argue with that. Merlin could help them just as much from the other side of the room as he could from alongside them, and keeping him concealed might give them a small advantage.

So Elena had led Merlin and Gwaine off (Gwaine having insisted that someone needed to watch Merlin and Elena’s backs) leaving the rest of them heading for the Department armoury.

Elyan’s code got them through the door, and they grabbed everything they could, from protective gear to weaponry. They raided every cupboard they came across until they looked like strange metal hedgehogs, bristling with guns and blades.

The problem with carrying so much was that they lost the ability of stealth. Every step Arthur took seemed to clank, and he was sure that wherever Morgana and Morgause were they could hear every step he took. They were waiting for him, all of them.

They headed towards the stairs down to R&D, luckily not running into anyone. There were no call outs. The magical world was strangely silent. Arthur had his suspicions about that. Word had got out about Nimueh’s death and the stones. No one wanted to attract attention right then. And if the magic users knew about Uther’s death and the state of emergency, they’d no better than to risk the mercy of the Department tonight.

So things were quiet as they made their way down. No one spoke. Gwen and Elyan had managed to hack the camera and audio systems, so that no one could see or hear them, but people still seemed afraid to make a noise.

The room was humming before they even got there and Arthur could hear Gaius’ voice, clearly agitated.

“I’m not going to help you with this. Morgana! You don’t know what you’re doing.”

Out in the corridor, Arthur turned back. “I thought you said they wouldn’t risk this while Gaius was there,” Arthur hissed at Elyan, who shrugged.

“Maybe they need his help with the machine” suggested Gwen. “I found blueprints in your father’s desk earlier. They looked extremely complicated.”

Another voice replied, a man’s voice.

“Switch it on, old man,” the other man said. “I grow tired of your voice.”

“Stay calm, Cenred,” a woman said. Leon mouthed “Morgause” at Arthur, who nodded. “You will get what you deserve. “Patience.”

“We need to go in there,” Arthur said.

“No,” Lancelot hissed back, “Elena said it would take her at least fifteen minutes to get Merlin into position. It’s only been ten. If we go in there without magical back-up then they’ll kill us where we stand.” Arthur glared at the door, but he let it go. Lancelot was right, to go in there without Merlin was suicide, even more so than going in there with him.

So Arthur held his position.

“If they do this while we’re waiting for Merlin to get there, then I will kill him,” Arthur breathed.

“It’s still seven minutes to midnight. They’re not going to start it yet,” Gwen said. Arthur nodded.

“Switch it on, Gaius,” Morgause said, her voice clear even through the door. “Or we’ll kill your little protégée here.”

There was a moan of pain.

“Hostage,” Percival said, adjusting one of his guns. Arthur was suddenly very glad that Percival was on their side.

“All right, all right,” Gaius said. “Leave the boy alone… I’ll turn it on.”

“Finally,” the man – Cenred – said.

“Stand in the circle,” Morgause commanded. There was the sound of footsteps, heavy and booted, and then they came to a halt.

“Circle to the Centre,” Arthur said, looking at the sign by the door.

“Sorry?” Leon said.

“Nothing,” Arthur said after a moment. “Just something a dragon told me.” he ran one finger over the words ‘Research and Development Centre’ and smiled.

“Right,” Leon said. He didn’t sound convinced.

There was a sudden shudder through the corridor and then the entire world began to vibrate. A whooshing noise came, and there was a dim glow through the cracks around the door.

“Can we go in yet?” Arthur said. Lancelot checked his watch.

“Three more minutes,” he said.

“I thought Merlin said midnight,” Arthur said.

“He did,” Lancelot agreed.

“Is your watch right?” Arthur asked. The glowing got brighter.

“I checked it earlier, it’s as accurate as I can get it, to the atomic clock.” He was frowning, though.

“Soon I’ll have power of my own,” Cenred said. “Power to do as I please. Magic of my own.”

“They’re giving some guy magic?” Elyan asked. “That’s what this was all about, just giving some man magic?” Arthur frowned. Freya had been convinced that this was worse than that, she had mentioned it as a possibility. But the lengths that Morgana and Morgause had gone to, it didn’t seem like they’d do all that for nothing.

“We’ve got to go in,” Arthur said. “They might be distracted.”

“Two minutes, Arthur.”

Then the screaming began. It started muffled, like the screamer was trying to keep his composure, but after a few seconds it descended into hysterical shrieks of pain.

“Turn it off!” Cenred shouted. “Turn it off!”

“No,” Morgause said simply.

“It’s tearing me apart… I can feel it. It’s… oh-” Whatever else it was was cut off by another ear piercing scream.

“Sorry, Cenred. But the magic requires a sacrifice first, and you did volunteer for the role.”

“You told me I’d get the power,” Cenred managed to shout between screams.

“I told you that you’d get what you deserve,” Morgause said. “You should really have learnt to listen.”

After that Cenred didn’t speak again, he just screamed and screamed, never breaking, until one final scream broke off in a strange gurgle and then there was silence and the glowing stopped again.

“One minute,” Lancelot said in a shaky voice. Arthur didn’t say a word.

“What have you done?” Gaius asked. He sounded dull and quiet, after the sharp, clear agony of Cenred’s screaming. “Do you know what you’re doing? Morgana!”

And then Morgana’s voice replied, harder than Arthur had ever heard it before. It still cut him to the quick, knowing that it was her, that all along it had been her. Even before he had known there was something going on, it had been Morgana.

“I know exactly what I’m doing, Gaius,” she said, utterly confident. “I’m helping to build a better world. A world where magical people don’t have to hide.”

“And those without magic?” Gaius asked.

“They’ve had their chance,” Morgause said.

“Most people in this world don’t even know that magic exists,” Gaius said in what Arthur always thought of as his ‘reasonable voice’.

“And those that do have slaughtered us, chained us up and beaten us down,” Morgana said. “Do you know how that feels?”

“My dear –“

“I’m not your dear!” Morgana said, losing her composure.

Arthur looked across the doorway to where Lancelot was standing, flattened against the wall.

“Now,” Lancelot whispered, “We go now.”

Arthur flooded with relief, anything would be better than standing here, waiting. He saw the strained looks on people’s faces. He could tell that he wasn’t the only one praying that Merlin, Gwaine and Elena had made it through.

“On three,” Arthur agreed in a hissed whisper. He held up fingers to count it out, choosing not to speak. He wasn’t sure he’d keep his voice low enough to maintain the element of surprise. His body was flooded with adrenaline.

As Arthur’s third finger raised, they started to move, crashing through the door, guns drawn, yelling as loudly as they could. It didn’t matter what they yelled, really, just as long as they made enough noise to catch Morgana and Morgause off guard.

They succeeded, after a fashion. But whether Merlin had got lost on the way, or whether he was late, or dead, Arthur didn’t know. But Morgana and Morgause’s magic was still very much at their disposal and there were no convenient shields that popped up.

Arthur managed to make it three feet into the room before it felt like he was moving through treacle, every limb struggling against immense force as he went. Even opening his mouth was a battle against the odds.

He had to stop after only trying for a few seconds, the effort it was taking simply too breathe almost too much.

“How nice to see you all,” Morgause said, smiling serenely. Arthur took his first proper look at her – that he could remember anyway – and felt himself go icy cold. She was beautiful, true, but she looked cruel. Right at that moment she looked like he had always imagined the Snow Queen from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale to look. All pale, cold and hard, with nothing inside her but ice. She raised a hand and he felt himself lifted off the floor and thrown back against the wall. “I suppose it’s only fitting that you be given front row seats to the end of your world. All you little people who’ve been trying so very hard to maintain the status quo. It’ll be such a shame to see your hard work crumble down around your ears.”

Arthur looked over at Morgana, wanting to see something there, something that he remembered. But there was nothing but a faintly amused interest. She didn’t look concerned or worried about him, or about anything. She looked as though he was nothing more important than an ant way down below her on the pavement. He swallowed, thick and painful around the treacle feeling.

The others were pinned too, lined up along the wall like statues round a crypt. The only parts of them moving were their eyes. Leon looked resigned, Lancelot worried and Gwen looked out furious, Arthur could almost see the flames spilling from her eyes as she looked at Morgana, but she didn’t open her mouth to say a word. And across from him was a young man, who must have been barely out of university, in a lab coat. He was bleeding profusely from one leg and seemed to be drifting in and out of consciousness. Arthur vaguely recognised him from just walking around the Department, but he couldn’t put a name to the face.

“You are just in time for the main event,” Morgause said. “Right on time to see Morgana take her rightful place.”

“I’ve told you, Morgause,” Gaius said, “It’s not ready to be used. It’s just a prototype, in the first stages of development.” He looked tired and old. Arthur had always thought of him as an old man, even when Arthur was just a tiny child, Gaius had seemed unthinkably ancient. But he had never thought of him as being like other old people – frail, tired and easily broken – not until now. He looked tiny. Perhaps it was because Arthur was pinned over a metre above the floor, looking down at everything, but he didn’t think so. Gaius looked like he was fraying at the edges. Was it just tonight or had it been like this since Arthur’s father… since Uther…

Arthur looked away, unable to see Gaius like that. It seemed that the last couple of days were going to force him to see everyone he knew the wrong way round.

“It’ll do what we need it for,” Morgause said.

“You think that no one’s tried to do this before?” Gaius asked. “The dragon stones have been around for thousands of years, and you honestly think that no one has tried this before.” Arthur finally noticed the stones. He had been so caught up with the people before that he hadn’t seen them, lying unobtrusively in the centre of the room. They were in a circle, evenly spaced, and in the centre of them was what looked like a blackened scorch mark. It was shaped like a twelve pointed star, each point going out to one of the stones. “To control all magic,” Gaius said, “it’s something people dream of. But you have to be strong enough.”

“Morgana is strong,” Morgause said firmly, smiling over at Morgana who smiled back happily. The expression was incongruous with the situation. It was a little girl smile, pleased at praise from an idol and it made Arthur swallow compulsively. He had to remember that she wasn’t Morgana anymore, she was the enemy. “She had enough strength to kill Uther.”

Arthur didn’t scream. He couldn’t move and he didn’t scream. He just hung there, on the wall, as silent as a bloody painting and stopped. For a moment everything in his head just stopped. Every thought, every wish, every emotion stopped dead in its tracks and Arthur hung there. Just for a moment, an everlasting, but far too quick, moment.

Then it fell in on him, bits and pieces of half-thoughts, chaos around the edges of him, blackening the edges of his sight and making his ears roar with the sound of his pulse.

He strained against the magic that held him still, but there was no fighting it. There was no fighting any of it. He jerked and pulled against the bonds until he could hardly breathe with the effort, and then he carried on. He couldn’t stand there and do nothing he couldn’t-

Leon caught his eye, watching him motionlessly but sure, and Arthur fell still again. He looked at Lancelot, who was just as still, but staring at him just as intently, and Gwen whose eyes were full of sorrow and concern, and Percival, who seemed to understand, without even knowing him, exactly what was going on.

Arthur had never put much faith in those so called wordless communications that people made, but he thought that, in that moment, he sort of understood. There weren’t volumes of information in his friends’ eyes, they weren’t telling him anything, and he couldn’t make out entire sentences behind their eyes. But there was knowledge, that he wasn’t alone.

He let his muscles relax. They ached.

While he had been fighting, Morgana and Morgause had been preparing something or other, and they had convinced Gaius, through some threats to himself and the others, no doubt, to turn the machine on again.

Morgause hugged Morgana fiercely. It seemed like they didn’t even realise that there was anyone else in the room with them.

“Take your place, sister,” Morgause said. “Become who you were born to be.”

“Her magic isn’t powerful enough,” Gaius said again, in warning. “You saw what happened to Cenred.”

Arthur looked back at the star-shaped burn mark and really wished that Gaius hadn’t said that.

“The sacrifice was part of the ritual. That was supposed to happen,” Morgause said. “Cenred was an idiot, who didn’t have a magical bone in his body.”

“The machine concentrates magic. It didn’t matter that Cenred wasn’t magical. He couldn’t have taken that much power in even if he was. It’s a matter of physics. The human body, magical or not, isn’t designed to hold power like that. It just doesn’t fit.”

“Get on with it, old man. You’re not fooling anyone,” Morgause said, snapping.

“I’m not trying to fool anyone.” Gaius argued. “It’s foolish to enter into an experiment without some idea of the risks involved, and I’m telling you that I’ve watched Morgana grow up, I know how strong her magic is, and I know she won’t be able to handle this. I’d prefer not to watch another person burn alive today.”

“You knew?” Morgana said, clearly fixating on the wrong part of Gaius’s speech. “All these years you knew and you said nothing?”

“What would I have said?” Gaius asked, sighing deeply. He looked over at Arthur apologetically, but avoided Morgana’s gaze completely. “You were Uther Pendragon’s daughter, for all intents and purposes. What could I have said?”

“Anything!” Morgana snapped. She opened her mouth as if to say more, but words failed her. “Enough. You’ll pay for your mistakes soon enough, just like Uther paid for his. Turn it on.”

As Gaius moved towards the machine, Arthur’s eyes caught a flash of movement high above them. In the steel supports in the roof, that kept the building above them from crashing down. It wasn’t much, just a flash of light colour, but it was enough to draw his attention, and once it had drawn it, he concentrated.

High up above them, up in the ceiling, there were three shapes that were probably just some pipes, or wiring. But, if you looked at them for too long, they looked like they might be three people, crouching in the rafters, looking downward.

One of the people moved.

Arthur’s attention snapped back to Morgana and Morgause, but they hadn’t looked up, they hadn’t noticed. He glanced upwards again, but his eyes couldn’t find the shapes again. He couldn’t keep himself from hoping, just a little bit, that somehow, some way, Merlin and Gwaine would find a way to get them all out of this. He didn’t know if Merlin could break a spell that had already been cast, but he hoped that he’d get them down from the wall.

Morgana took her place in the stone circle, standing on what Arthur was now painfully aware, were Cenred’s ashes. As she did so, she and Morgause began to chant. He couldn’t make out the words. They weren’t in English or any other language that he knew, or even one that he had heard before. But they seemed to strike something deep in his stomach that jumped at them. It felt a little like nausea and a little like sitting on a roller coaster at the top of a huge drop.

At first he didn’t notice it, but the stones were starting to glow, a fiery red-orange. Second after second the glow grew stronger, and for the first time he understood why they had been called dragon stones. They looked like they were alight. Morgana stood in the centre of it all, lit from below by the magical firelight. It reminded him of the strange nights they had spent camping in the bottom of the garden as children, the two of them and a torch. Morgana had loved to tell ghost stories and Arthur had tried never to seem scared. The lighting was the same now as it had been then.

Perhaps Merlin succeeded, perhaps Morgause was distracted, or maybe the stones were already leeching the magic from the world around them, because suddenly Arthur pitched forwards and fell to the ground. He heard the thuds from around him as the others did the same.

He was on his feet in seconds, but the glow was so bright by now, and a wind was picking up, making the stone circle into a vortex that he couldn’t approach. It was almost as difficult to take a step forward into the growing winds as it had been to walk with Morgause’s spell on them.

“It’s too late,” Morgause called out over the howling. “There’s nothing you can do to stop her now.” As if to reinforce what she had said, the pitch of Gaius’ machine rose another few tones, to a note that seemed to reverberate through Arthur’s skeleton. He winced. “In a few moments, it’ll all be over, and you will get the punishment you richly deserve.”

Arthur looked around for something – anything – that he could use to stop this. His gun was no good, the bullet wouldn’t have any more hope against a magical vortex than he would. But there was nothing nearby.

He stared at her, helpless, before turning to the others, hoping against hope that one of them would have an idea.

And they did.

“What we need” Gwen said, with a small smile, “is more time.”

“Time?” Leon said, reaching into his pocket. “I might be able to help with that.”

Arthur had never seen anything like it before, the vortex slowed and ground to a halt, the fierce orange faded into brown. It was like he was standing in a bubble.

“That won’t hold for long,” Lancelot said, “if they’re sucking all of the magic out of this place, then that’s going to go first.”

“All the magic except the stuff in people,” a familiar voice said from behind Arthur.

He turned in astonishment, to see Merlin standing behind him, a grin pasted to his face. Gwaine was on one side of him, peering at the world outside the bubble, and Elena was on the other, smirking at him.

“You were…” Arthur pointed upwards.

“We moved,” Elena said.

“She’s startlingly good at being quiet when she’s doing something illegal,” Gwaine said with a grin. “I’m actually a little worried. Merlin was a little less… stealthy.”

“I didn’t make a noise.”

“Only because you used magic,” Elena pointed out. “And speaking of magic, aren’t we supposed to be saving the world or something?” She looked to where the whirlwind stood, frozen in a moment.

Merlin nodded.

“Right, yes… that would be my job.”

“What do you mean?” Arthur said. “We have to get out of here, there’s nothing we can do now.” Merlin looked at him for a long moment as though he really wanted to say something – something stupid no doubt, or maybe something about feelings. “We’ll regroup. Start afresh.”

“No,” he said finally. “If this works, Morgana’s going to be the most powerful being in the known universe. It’s now or never.”

“Tell us what to do,” Lancelot said, before Arthur could get a word in edgeways. He was looking at Merlin like he really believed that Merlin could do it, could stop it. Of all of them, Lancelot had known Merlin’s magic for the longest, Arthur remembered. Perhaps he didn’t know it as well as Gwaine did now, but he had worked with him at the Department, knowing about his magic, and he thought Merlin could do this, could stop this.

“Stay back, take cover,” Merlin said. “If this doesn’t work then… well, I hope it works.” He walked to the edge of the bubble nearest to Morgause and Morgana. Arthur started after him, but a hand grasped his shoulder and held him back.

“There’s nothing you can do to help him now,” Gwaine said. He didn’t sound any happier about it than Arthur felt. “If you try to help you’ll only get in his way. You’d hurt more than you’d help.”

“I can’t just stand here,” Arthur protested. He felt useless again. His father’s murderers were within his grasp and he had to stand back and let someone else deal with them.

“That’s why I’m here to hold you back,” Gwaine said succinctly.

Merlin nodded to Leon, who undid whatever it was he had done before, and suddenly the world was starting up again and the bubble was disappearing into nothing.

Arthur tried to run forward, but Gwaine was expecting it, and held him back, and then he had no choice but to watch, all over again, as Merlin ran forwards towards Morgana.

Before he got there, though, there came an almost unearthly scream from inside the vortex. Morgana’s voice, Arthur could recognise it even as stretched and broken as it was, and she was in a lot of pain. It sounded like Cenred had sounded, right at the end, when the magic had burnt him up.

“Morgana?” Morgause called, but all she got in reply was more screaming.

“I warned you she wouldn’t be able to handle it,” Gaius said. Morgause glared at him, and strode towards the vortex, but she was thrown backwards by the force of it. Even then, Morgana didn’t stop screaming.

Then Merlin did something incredibly stupid.

Arthur was used to Merlin doing stupid things. His life while Merlin had worked for the Department had been spent trying to work out what stupid thing Merlin was doing and stop it from causing all their deaths. But he had never seen Merlin do anything quite like this.

He stepped towards the vortex, raised his hand and said, “Let me through.”

Just those words, like he was talking to an annoying toddler who was blocking a hallway. “Let me through.”

There was a pause, which was probably shorter than it felt to Arthur, whose pulse was racing, and then, like a curtain being drawn aside, a gap formed in the vortex. A gap through which Arthur could see Morgana, standing rigid. Every muscle in her body was taut, her head was thrown back, her mouth open. Tears were rolling down her cheeks and she was screeching in agony.

Then Merlin stepped through the gap, without looking back, and it closed behind him.

Not long after that, the screaming stopped, and the glow suddenly brightened all at once to clear white light, so bright that Arthur had to close his eyes and shield them in his arm.

Morgause was still screaming Morgana’s name, and she went on screaming Morgana’s name even as the light got so bright it cut through Arthur’s arm and his eyelids so that all he could see was white. She was raving and yelling at Merlin, telling him to let her sister go.

Then there was darkness.

It was so dark that Arthur thought that he must have gone blind, and so sudden that he was left reeling.

He lowered his arm and blinked, but there was nothing but black in every direction, only the sounds of people breathing and Morgause’s anger, and the firm grip of Gwaine’s arm across his chest, kept Arthur rooted in reality.

The lights flickered back into being and the first thing Arthur saw was Merlin, holding Morgana up, blood dripping from his nose. The next thing he heard was an almighty crack and everyone looked down at the stones where they sat on the floor. All of them but one, cracked right in half.

“Huh,” Elena said. “That’s a pity, I could have fenced those.” Arthur chose to ignore her, focusing more on Merlin and Morgause, who was flying at him like an avenging banshee.

But she was caught before she got to him, lifted off the ground, kicking and screaming, like she weighed nothing at all.

“She’s alive,” Merlin said, looking up at Morgause. “She’s alive, and considering what she just went through, I think that’s the best thing you can hope for.”

“What did you do to her?” Morgause asked. “What did you do?”

“I saved her life,” Merlin said, sounding a little astonished at his own actions.

“Merlin, my boy,” Gaius stepped forwards, “Are you alright?” Merlin blinked at him and grinned.

“Gaius!” he exclaimed. “It’s good to see you.”

“Yes, yes. You too,” Gaius said swiftly, “but are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Merlin said with a shrug.

“Merlin,” Gaius said, in his least impressed tone. “You’re crackling.”

Arthur hadn’t noticed it until then, but it was true, every move Merlin made seemed to be accompanied by static electricity, his fingers twitched and there were sparks between them, he turned his head and his hair did the same thing.

“Am I?” Merlin asked. “That’s weird.”

Arthur looked around, but no one seemed any more aware of what was going on than he was. Elena had walked over to where Leon was standing, and Lancelot and Gwen were wrapped up in each other, but no one looked exactly well-informed.

Merlin turned to Morgause.

“I think…” he began. “It was too much for Morgana on her own,” he said, starting again. “but it wasn’t too much for both of us.” He leant down to pick up the final stone and slipped it into his pocket. “So it’s in both of us now.”

“Both of you?” Morgause asked, she sounded horrified.

“Yes… but it’s not,” Merlin paused again, cocking his head to one side, like he was listening to something. “It’s not what you think it is. You think that the stones give someone the power over all the magic in the world. You think that they take it all and stuff it into one person. They don’t. It’s not the magic that’s transferred… it’s the knowledge.”

“The texts said power.”

“Knowledge is power,” Gwaine muttered in Arthur’s ear. It was almost enough to make him laugh. Merlin just shrugged.

Morgana groaned, her head lolling slightly and the entire room hushed as she opened her eyes and her mouth.

“The dancing’s over,” she said slowly. “Did I end up with the wrong partner?”

Morgause stared at her sister, her mouth open. Morgana looked back, her face blank and confused.

“What did you do to her?” Morgause asked Merlin. She wasn’t loud anymore, but quiet and hollow.

“Her brain couldn’t take it,” Merlin said a little sorrowfully. “She can’t fix on what’s here and what’s everywhere. It is a little confusing.”

“But you’re somehow fine?” Morgause asked.

“I wasn’t in there as long,” Merlin said. He spoke slowly, like he was trying out the words, testing the idea as he said it. “Morgana was in there for ages, all by herself. She lost touch with herself.”

“Morgause,” Morgana said suddenly.


“Which you are you?” Morgana asked. “I’ve seen so many. You were in the fire, a million of you. And you were burning.”

“I’m the real me,” Morgause said slowly.

“You’re all real,” Morgana told her. “Every one of you. I see you… all of you.”

Morgause stared at her, horrified, her face crumpling. Arthur knew exactly how she felt in that moment, he could see the despair burying her, but he didn’t feel sympathy, or pity. He felt glad.

Then Morgause raised her hand to point a finger at Merlin and she began chanting again, despair turning into rage.

Arthur didn’t even think about it, a gun was already in his hand before he had time to think about it. Merlin looked dead on his feet and knowledge or no knowledge he wouldn’t be able to stop a curse right now, even if someone gave him a mirror and body armour.

His wasn’t the only gun fired, Morgause fell with more than three bullet holes in her. Morgana watched her fall with as much emotion as someone watching dominoes topple. She looked at Arthur and smiled. It wasn’t the smirk that she’d turned on after he walked through the door and it wasn’t the rare smile of true happiness that she had always tried to conceal growing up. It was loose, open and blank.

“Did you know that you’re gold and red around the edges?” she asked.

Then Merlin collapsed face first onto the concrete floor and she went following after.



Merlin didn’t like hospitals. He didn’t like the way they smelt, or the way they felt. Even the magic in them was wrong. It had a sickly sweet edge to it and it made his flesh crawl.

It didn’t help that he knew more than the doctors did. He knew more than them about practically everything now. He knew their lives, their dreams. He knew who was going to die and who would live. He knew who was going to walk through the door before they even knew they were going to his room. And he knew more about magic and the magical than he had ever thought could be fitted inside one skull.

He amused himself when the nurses weren’t there by doing silly little tricks, tapping into time and rewinding, fast-forwarding, looking across time to see how it folded around people.

The things that he hadn’t been able to handle before, came easily now, too easily. There wasn’t even a challenge to him. He knew how to bend the world around him. He sort of wished that he had ended up like Morgana in a way. She seemed happy enough, though it was difficult to get a straight answer out of her.

She was disconnected from the world completely, and she couldn’t use what she knew. But Merlin could. He could see how to use it for good and for – not so good purposes. He could see how he could make the world a better place for everyone. But he could see where that would lead him.

He knew more than anyone alive had ever known – apart from Morgana – but he knew enough to know that he couldn’t use that knowledge. But even that was using the knowledge.

He could also see the Arthur was walking down the corridor towards his room, so he set his conundrum aside for a moment and went back to just staring at the ceiling.

Arthur had brought books. Merlin could see them, he knew what was in them, all of it every word. But he knew that he’d read them anyway, because Arthur had brought them. He knew that Arthur had brought books because books were neutral and Arthur didn’t want to assume. He knew that Arthur was thinking about how to apologise.

He knew what would happen when Arthur apologised. And he knew what would happen after that. He knew too much.

So he switched it off, turned off the part of himself that was looking into the future, the part of him that couldn’t help but look into people’s brains. He opened a door somewhere at the back of his mind and shoved it into himself so that it would only come out of he needed it. He knew how to do that as well.

And then he didn’t.

Merlin blinked at the ceiling and tried to remember what had happened in the past few days. He was in the Department’s hospital, he could tell that, but what was he doing there. He remembered Morgana and Morgause, and the circle.

They must have succeeded because he was alive and he was here in bed. So they must have succeeded.

The door to his room swung open and he turned around, expecting a doctor. He wasn’t expecting to see Arthur, a pile of books tucked under his arm. Merlin grinned.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” Arthur asked. “Uh… Gwaine wanted me to ask you what enlightenment was like.”

“Enlightenment?” Merlin asked, confused. “What do you mean?”

Arthur opened his mouth to speak, but he shut it again after a pause, sort of smiling and sort of frowning. It was an odd expression. But then, Arthur was an odd person.

“Never mind,” Arthur said. “I brought you some books, in case you got bored.”

“Thanks,” Merlin said, feeling a little disconnected. “So I take it we won, then.”

“Yeah, we won…” Arthur said. He looked away from Merlin’s face, avoiding eye contact in the way he always did when he was uncomfortable, his eyes flicking around the room. “And I have something I need to say to you.” Merlin waited.

“It’s not enough,” Arthur said. “I don’t think there’s anything I can say that would be enough. But… I’m sorry.”

Merlin blinked. He hadn’t been expecting that.

“I’m sorry,” Arthur repeated. “For… well…”

“It’s all right,” Merlin said, smiling again and reaching out for the books. Arthur handed them over. “I can probably forgive you, if you keep bringing me books.”

“I’ll remember that.” Arthur paused, fidgeting a little from foot to foot. Merlin watched him, still smiling. It was always amusing to see Arthur this uncomfortable. “Anyway, you’re not a fugitive anymore, nor am I… or Gwaine. So I… I called your mother. She’s coming down to see you.”

“You called my Mum?” Merlin asked. He smiled so much that he felt as though his cheeks were splitting. “Really?”

“Yes, really,” Arthur said. “Though you might want to do something with your hair, it’s a mess.”

“Hey!” Merlin protested. “I just saved the world. I can have messy hair if I want to have messy hair.”

“I thought you didn’t remember that,” Arthur said, smirking.

“Well, it must have been me. You couldn’t have done it without me,” Merlin said.

“No,” Arthur said, shocking Merlin yet again. “No we couldn’t.”




Thank you for reading this far :)

To see all the wonderful art in one place, head on over to the_little_owl's Master Art Post and please leave a comment saying how brilliant those pictures are.
paradox18 on August 15th, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
I really, really loved this. It was just so epic
kattale: GwainePercivalkattale on August 15th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
This was absolutely the most brilliant modern AU I have ever read. I have never seen a story where the characters were SO in character - each and every one of them - (except maybe Gwen, who you wrote better than the Beeb does) - or a modern AU that was so true to canon, there are canon era stories that are far less true to canon than this. And you nailed the magic reveal - even though it was a flashback, all of the fallout was so true to the show, you could have written the show itself.

You took the show, and transplanted it into this chilling modern setting, took the characters and made each and every one of them more insightful, more expressive of themselves. Took the story of the series and made it more chilling, more terrifying.

I love the lead role you gave to Leon. This is the smart, perceptive, loyal and courageous Leon I believe in. Morgana - you captured what the show tried to hint at but failed to convey - how a confused and lost Morgana with magic was lured by the love and acceptance of family, and turned her fury on the man who perpetuated crimes against her kind. The way you conveyed this is SO much more convincing than the show - your Morgana is a villian who earns my sympathies and emotional understanding. Arthur's reaction to his discovery of her betrayal and hatred - I hurt for him so so deeply. You were amazing conveying the numbness and horror of that discovery.

The three boys - just. Just. You've nailed them - their characters - and you've nailed their reactions and feelings and motivations and choices. My favourite Merlin is the confident complex Merlin that Arthur FINALLY sees when magic and savings of life have been revealed - this is the one you have given us - so believable. Even more believable is Arthur's perplexity in the face of this Merlin. He's always loved Merlin, now he can believe in him too. I love how you wrote a post-reveal Arthur who maintains his arrogance and prattish demeanor, who knows he has to change everything he's ever believed, but still holds tight to his pride. Depressed drinking Arthur is perfect too - the hurt and betrayal would go so deep. But he'd keep up the front. Everything about this reveal is so True.

And Gwaine accepting the reveal on the fly, taking it in and going with it - bristling at Arthur, the rivalry, yet knowing that both Arthur and Gwaine would trust no one but each other with Merlin's safety. This trio's dynamic is my favourite on the show - loved the Fisher King ep, and how Arthur & Gwaine compare in it... I just soaked up every instance of banter and rivalry and mutual trust. You had so much of that, I'm almost sated. Almost.

But if you don't write that threesome - the one we ALL KNOW HAPPENED (what with the sleepy morning at the hotel) then I shall perish. I really really will. I need that scene like burning. How am I going to know when you post it? (Because I have total faith that you will - exhausted scared-to-the-core trusting boys needing that connection - it's just burning a hole in your brain waiting to get out, isn't it???) I'll love you forever if you write it. (Longer if you mention Gwaine's necklace?)

Anyway, thank you for this fic. I'm on a high from it like I haven't gotten from a story in ages. You've renewed my enthusiasm for the show. I don't know HOW they're going to pack this much depth and emotion into their reveal, how will they ever touch what you have done here?

Edited at 2011-08-15 03:51 pm (UTC)
archaeologist_d: Merlin Emrysarchaeologist_d on August 15th, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
This was really brilliant. I'm at a loss for words but I think your universe is just wonderful, so full and rich in detail. Loved how you slowly brought things out and yet hinted at them early on. Just a great, great job.
Tama-abi: colin our private lifetama_abi on August 16th, 2011 02:24 am (UTC)
OK... I'm not gonna leave you a story-long review, but I want you to know I loved this more than you can imagine. The universe, the characters, the magic, the story, everything was fantastic.

I'm going to rec this on my journal right now.

Thank you!!! It was brilliant!
einahpets: Metal Pendragonreni_m on August 16th, 2011 04:36 am (UTC)
Wow, that was brilliant.
I can only imagine the day when Merlin discovers the knowledge in his brain.
I also loved how you handled the past/current relationships but the kept the story focused on the problems at hand.
Great job!
misscake: MerlinxArthurmisscake on August 16th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
Wonderfully exciting plot and really enjoyable characterizations.
(Deleted comment)
Keddi: eoin | everything will flowluisadeza on August 17th, 2011 12:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, that was a great read. Thanks a lot!
Love how you involved everyone and still made them all feel very much in characters. And I liked the little triangle between Merlin, Arthur and Gwaine.
I'll just assume they live happily ever after in a threesome if you don't mind. ;)
ddz008 on August 17th, 2011 03:23 pm (UTC)
Wonderful story. I loved the plot, the characterizations and the world you created. I had a great time reading this :D

Thanks for writing and sharing this!
Anskuanmkosk on August 17th, 2011 06:00 pm (UTC)
Incredible :)
Amelieiichristinll on August 19th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
Your title is by far my favorite of the Big Bangs so far, I just love it. And the story was great! Full of mystery and action. Very cool. Thanks for sharing it!
Lauradefencelaura on August 19th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
I admit - I was expecting at least a little A/M action or intimacy, but inspite of that this was the best action fanfiction I read in ages. And the fact that I enjoyed it even without said action....it´s just proof of it´s quality. Bravo. Great read.
Fiona Fawkesfiona_fawkes on August 19th, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this story. Your modern world worked well and every character felt like they really fit into the slot you made for them. A very good read.
B00i_m_b00 on August 20th, 2011 01:16 pm (UTC)

that was really exciting. The action was wonderful very detailed yet it still read very fast and exciting. The pacing was perfect action suspense and moments of humor. Can't say enough about your talent and this story.

Everyone was so fleshed out. I loved Leon he was loyal to Arthur in the way Arthur understood loyalty. He was the balance that Arthur needed. I was glad he had someone like Leon during the hard times.

the back story was heart breaking. I love how well you weaved it in. The story never stopped for back story it was part of the story. and flowed in seamlessly.

the dynamics between Merlin, Arthur and Gwaine was spot on. the Hurt Arthur had to ignore and the rivalry for Merlin that was under every interaction every sentence. That Arthur couldn't leave alone.

“Hi,” Arthur asked. “Uh… Gwaine wanted me to ask you what enlightenment was like.”

That line broke my heart and yet fit the whole story and summed up Arthur so well. He could have asked Merlin how he felt chatted a bit then went by the way Gwaine asked...

But no he didn't do that. He put Gawain's message first like he was admitting that for Merlin Gawain should be ahead of him. Sad, yes but also a noble and a very Arthur thing to do. I don't know what's going to happen (God you write so well it's like I'm talking about real people)But Artur will be okay even if he has to nurse a broken heart, he is staring to get his head around his new life.

The back story was heart breaking.
kin_chiyo: Hello...kin_chiyo on February 17th, 2012 02:20 am (UTC)
poor merlin, choosing between 2 handsome men
To i_m_B00... Im such a sucker for BOTH those pairings. Gwaine's unwavering loyalty and affection for Merlin is beautiful and Arthur's noble, yet selfish want for Merlin, makes him perfect too. Going from Enlightened!Merlin's earlier fortune telling about knowing exactly how things will go when Arthur apologises, my head has already decided that they will come together again, especially with all the changes Arthur is making to better himself and cherish Merlin. Merlin was also warm but distant with Gwaine when they were having their 'moment'. So as much as I love both pairings I feel like Arthur is victorious this time. Well, the good thing about definewisdom is that it was left up to us =)

I agree with your comment, btw, the back story was fit so well in between the plot. There wasn't just a chuck of back story like most works are prone to. Loved it!
pink for pterodactyl: p: cherry blossomsignificantowl on September 4th, 2011 04:47 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this so much! Everyone was so incredibly in character, everything they did felt so true. One part that I especially liked was when Arthur found out about Morgana - "we're not talking about this" - just, so right. I loved the moments towards the end when Merlin had all the knowledge in his head, it was so very well done, and the switch when he'd decided to push it aside was perfect. Thanks for a great fic!
Mazthismaz on September 17th, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC)
This has got to be my favourite BB story, so far – imaginative and complex, with texture and artfully laid clues. A rich world that has integrity. Plus a great plot.
whoa it's Laurabraxas_life on October 13th, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
I just love the way you mirrored last season's finale, without making it seem like you ripped the plot out and stuck it in a different world. It's familiar while still feeling original. Really, brilliant job, thanks so much for letting us read it.

Edited at 2011-10-13 07:58 pm (UTC)
100% win, wash with like colours, no iron.themegaloo on October 18th, 2011 06:27 am (UTC)
This was lovely, a true world-building that was entirely enjoyable!
zedabbler on October 23rd, 2011 12:37 pm (UTC)
This is like the most awesome modern AU! story in the fandom I have ever read so far. Everything fits, and the characters are so real and close to canon (I had a moment when I shouted.. "that's so Gaius!" when he says Merlin is crackling with his 'least impressed tone') that I felt like reading a really good off-the-shelf book and not just a fanfic. Like this story is set in its own original verse with no input from anywhere prior whatsoever. That's contradictory, I know...but I dunno how else to say it... :P

The last time I felt like this was reading Harry Potter, I don't remember which book, but every clue was set in place in that story...so I knew I had to commit some of the stuff you threw in at the beginning to memory coz I'll find them again being used later. I really had fun reading this. Thanks so much for writing it! <3

kin_chiyo: ...OMGkin_chiyo on February 17th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
This was a phenomenal piece of fiction.

I absolutely adored it. The story was on a large scale but was simple enough to follow, with the right twists at the right time. The pace was perfect and your descriptions created the scene effortless and evoked so much emotion. I especially liked this wording:

"So he switched it off, turned off the part of himself that was looking into the future, the part of him that couldn’t help but look into people’s brains. He opened a door somewhere at the back of his mind and shoved it into himself so that it would only come out of he needed it. He knew how to do that as well.

And then he didn't." --- Wow. My mind had to reboot after reading that, which I imagine is something similar to what Merlin went through. Its amazing how powerful words can be.
There were so many well worded moments like that in your writing.

A special mention for the characters that were so well extrapolated and weaved into your world. They were all so in character in their new skin.

I don't think I will every see a fic like this again and I THANK YOU so much for dedicating your time and effort into this.

Please keep writing, and best of luck for your future projects.

- Kin
darkrose_9darkrose_9 on January 28th, 2013 03:53 am (UTC)
The part about Merlin deliberately locking away the knowledge reminds me of "Sphere" where at the end, The characters chose to forget, cause otherwise, terrible things would happen. It also reminds me of the wierd key alien thing that talked to Gwaine when Morgana captured him on the show. :)