My eyes flutter open as I slowly awaken, trying to remember where I was. I shake my head at my silliness; even if I had tried, I do not think I would ever forget my prison. Sighing through my nose, I raise my long, slender, pale neck slowly. As I do that, I hear the satisfying crack ring in my ear and I hum in satisfaction.
I slowly stretch out my long, slender limbs; I had slept on them again, depriving them of blood circulation. Familiar tingles were spreading around the skin of my numb limbs, signaling me that the blood flow was reaching them. As I raised my body, I sat there as I thought to myself;
‘It would be nice to have freedom, I wonder how it’s like to be… free.’
It’s my morning routine; wake up, stretch, sit down and wonder how it would feel like to be free. As I finish pondering about freedom, I slowly rose from the spot in which I slept in the cave. I crept ever so slightly towards the balcony. I could already feel the chilly wind blowing lightly on my hard skin. I saw the illuminated balcony at the end the hall getting closer to me until I was outside. The warm morning sunlight was bliss to me; for the first time in a long, long time, I was relaxed, something I had not had the pleasure of experiencing during my time here. Another thing that had not happened for a long time happened too; I was crying. I let out small huffs as I let out all my feelings. I laid down on the ground as my feelings left my body through tears, and I slowly fell victim to a peaceful sleep.
“Hey! Thief! Thief! Somebody stop him!” the loud voice of the merchant shrieked as I ran away, holding a full bag of jewelry. I ran away as fast as I could, not looking back and avoiding people who were walking. I ran for a minute, before stopping and hiding behind a wall as I heard heavy footsteps and metal clanging. ‘They must be the guards’ I thought as I tried to hide myself in the brown, dirty, worn cloak. I was right; they were the guards who were sent to chase after me. I smiled mischievously; the guards here were idiotic. They did not even bother to look behind walls. I putthe bag of jewelry in my worn leather satchel, and went my way. It was a wonderful walk while it lasted, because what happened next happened so fast I didn’t even process it had happened.But when I had finished processing it, I was hanging upside down in the air. My satchel, cloak, dagger and money bag was on the floor. I grit my teeth, I was going to be hanged; there was no questioning it. I felt rough metal covered hands grab my wrists with a painful grip, and then I felt the familiar sensation of rope wrap around my wrists. I saw a guard grab my belongings and throw it to another guard.
“Tie it to the horse. Let it be dragged through the mud like the piece of rubbish it is.”
I frowned; I deserved to be punished for my sins, yes, but calling me a piece of rubbish is a bit over the line. I mean, I have feelings too. I’m not trash. The inner battle with myself ceased, and I just laid there on the ground, ready to be dragged through the dirty streets of this measly village. I heard the crack of a whip and the neighing of a horse, and I proceeded to get dragged through the mud. Fortunately, the horse was going at a slow pace; I didn’t get struck in the face with its’ hooves or the dirt it dug out with them. It was… quite relaxing to say the least; I did not have to walk or get dragged by the brute force of the guards. But good times never last, because the whip came down once again to strike its’ poor victim; the horse. The horse neighed once again and gained speed. I frowned in panic; I could potentially die if my skull were to hit a stone at this speed. I struggled against the rope, but to no use; they had tied too tight for me to untie. I shut my eyes and prayed for my life; I did not want to vanish like this! It’s humiliating! I am the most wanted thief of the country! I should at least perish with glory!
I could feel the villagers glare at me even if my eyes were shut. I could hear the cries of the angry mob that had gathered in the streets and at the hanging post. The villagers had also started to throw food (fresh and rotten), stones and sticks at me. I still hadn’t opened my eyes, but I could feel the thrown items on my skin. I assume the horse was coming to a stop because I could feel myself slow down. I eventually came to a stop, because I couldn’t feel the mud slide on my skin. I could still hear the villagers’ angry cries, but no more objects were thrown at me. I hesitantly opened my eyes and glanced at my surroundings; some villagers were laughing, some were scowling at me, some were smiling proudly at the guards for capturing me and some were glaring at me. I stared at the ones who glared at me, and glared back with all my might. I then saw a goldpair of boot armor in front of my face and I looked up to meet the owner of the boots. It was none other than the lord of this pathetic village. He was tall, around the height of a werewolf, had long, curly strawberry blond hair, green eyes and a ridiculously badly-shaved goatee. He was a kind-hearted, loyal and trustworthy lord to his villagers, but that’s just a facade
He smirked, “The all mighty, mute king of thieves has finally been caught at last.”
Ah, I forgot to mention his name. His name is Lord Arthur. He was part of a guild, but apparently something happened between the members and they all quit the guild. He also has a nasty attitude towards criminals; it did not matter if the criminal was guilty or innocent, he would punish them anyway. He’s been after me for years; because I was a criminal and because I knew what his dirty secret was. You see, he’s just using the villagers’ taxes’ for himself. He’s hiring high-skilled assassins, archers, swordsman, etc.… Basically an army to fight against the old members of his guild and kill them out of revenge.
Anyways, my train of thought was interrupted as I felt hot, white pain on my cheek as my tears welled up at the edge of my eyes; the brute Arthur had struck me across the face with his boot. I could taste the metallic taste of blood on my tongue, and I was pretty sure my tooth was knocked out. I could hear him laugh sadistically as he stepped on my face harshly as I winced. I glared at him even though it was no use; my glare was hidden by his gigantic foot. I grit my teeth. He removed his foot and knelt on one knee as he leaned closer to my face.
“I’ve won this battle, heathen. You won’t be able to tell anybody.” He whispered, his smelly, hot breath fanning across my face. I glared at his face in anger and disgust as I mouthed to him ‘Damn you!’ he laughed once again with his mouth wide open and his head thrown back. I saw an opportunity and jumped on it; I spat in his face. My blood mixed saliva splattered on his nose and some drops landed in his mouth. He instantly stopped laughing and stood up, spitting out the drops of my spit (I clean my teeth and mouth with citrus so my saliva wasn’t dirty. He’s just overreacting) and rubbed his face with the back of his hand.
“Why you…!” he growled as he glared at me. I merely smirked at him; I may be tied down, but that doesn’t mean I can’t fight back. But my smirk was immediately erased off my face as he stomped on my face; blood had started to come out through my nose and mouth, my face started to get covered in bruises and red swelling. The stomps eventually stopped and I could hear him pant. He removed his blood, saliva and mud covered foot from my face.
“Humph. You deserved that.” He said as he smirked at my red, swollen and bruise covered face. I barely saw him turn around as he barked out orders like a dog to his servants;
“Pick him up and prepare to hang him!”
I felt a pair of hands on my arms, someone forced me to stand, and dragged me to the hanging station.I could hear the villagers scream ‘hang him! Hang him! Damn him to hell!’ at me. The guard roughly pushes me on the stairs as we got up together and the he made me stand still; I could feel the noose hitting the side of my face and ear. I could hear someone walking behind me. Then, theygrabbed the noose and put it around my neck.
Clank, clank, clank; I could hear heavy footsteps on the wooden boards of the hanging station.
“Lads and lassies! This day, we witness the deathof the mute king of thieves!” Lord Arthur screamed with pride.
The crowd went crazy with cheers; they were happy that I was dying. What kind of logic is thatit was sick. I could feel the knot of the noose tighten around my neck; I gulped in fear. It’s my time, isn’t it? I took a deep breath and swallowed; I accepted my fate. I didn’t put up much of a fight because I knew it would be useless; I would die anyways. I could hear the crowd go crazy once again.
“Long live the king.” He seethed in my ear.
“Hang him!” he screamed once more. I could feel the wooden floor beneath me give out. The noose tightened around my neck as my usual light weight worked against me. I was choking, but I did not struggle. That would make my death come closer. I could feel the last of my oxygen escape.It was here, my time to go. I smiled, waiting for the next step.
“Stop! Cut the rope now!” an elderly voice stated firmly. I could hear some gasps and some whispers. The rope still was not cut, so I was still dying.
“Curses! Do I have to do everything here in this town?!” I heard the voice say again. I heard mumbling, and suddenly there I was, on the ground, gasping and clawing my throat for more oxygen. I ‘coughed’ but since I had no voice they just came out as wheezes.
“By the Gods, what have they done to you, poor child?” The same elderly voice said from somewhere beside me, although his tone was much gentler than before. I felt him place his palm on my face as I once again heard mumbling. A flash of green erupted around my face and I could feel the pain and the swelling on my face disappear. I could finally see without my eyelids covering half of my view, but the first thing I noticed was an old man crouched near me. I looked at him and realized that he looked very familiar, but I couldn’t place my finger on it.
‘Have I met you before, old man?’ I mouthed as best as I could. I heard the crowd of people gasp and whisper once again.
‘’Does the heathen not know who lord Merlin is?”
I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion, is ‘Merlin’ supposed to be someone I had to know about? I heard the elderly man chuckle, clearly amused. He helped me stand up and stood up himself. Now that he did, I take notice of how he is like;
A wrinkly but sharp face decorated with warm brown eyes and a great white beard. His outfit consisted of a gray robe with a leather belt tied around his waist. He also had a big stick too; it was covered with leaves and the top was just quartz stone stuck to it. It arrived at his eye level (the stick).
“I am Merlin, my child. I am the sorcerer of the round table.”
Wow! A sorcerer? It’s not every day you get to see one! Especially not one that comes from a prestigious line of knights! I guess my excited thoughts were written all over my face because next thing I knew was that he was rubbing and patting my hair. I stood there stunned; no one had actually touched me as affectionately as he did. I… liked the feeling; it was pleasant and made me feel safe and warm on the inside. I leaned into his touch and hummed quietly in satisfaction.
I heard Merlin chuckle again before he turned to face the crowd;
“Now, kind people, would you please tell me where Sir Arthur is? I need to speak to him.” He demanded firmly, I heard some people talk to each other and then they all pointed in different directions. I narrowed my eyes; why were they trying to protect a man who caused them nothing but suffering? I glanced around, trying to spot the giant brute. I saw a shimmer of gold, and I tugged on Merlin’s robe lightly. He turned back to look at me, but saw that I was pointing in the direction where I saw the gold glint at. He spared a glance to the area in which I pointed at and turned to look at me once again, with a smile on his face,
“Thank you my child.” He said as he walked to the spot. He stopped in front of the spot and started to raise his giant stick wand. He brought down the stick with a lot of force, and the wooden wall blew away, where you could see the cowardly Arthur crouch and whimper.
“Sir Arthur, I have come to inform you that you are no longer in charge of this town, as ordered by his Majesty.”
“What?! But I’ve been such a good lord to these people! Merlin, you cannot do this to me!”
Arthur whipped around as he screamed. Suddenly, his expression showed fear. I could see him gulp and get on the ground to kneel.
“My name is Sir Merlin to you, Arthur. And you have not been a good lord, because if you were, you wouldn’t have been using your people’s money to quench your thirst for blood.”, I could hear the villagers gasp at this, and I smiled in victory, “I’m usually kind, but you have stepped over the boundary.” Merlin continued as he turned around;
“Guards! Take him away to the mountain prison!”
I could see Arthurs’ face pale, as he shivered and whimpered like a dog;
“No please! Don’t take me there, please...” He begged once again, but to his misfortune and my luck, Merlin brushed him off;
“Arthur, you must know that I am not doing this on my own. These were the orders I have been given by the majesty himself.”
Wow, he must be really powerful then, if the king were to trust him this much. I saw big, tall guards drag Arthur away somewhere, I had stopped watching him cry and beg as he was going to that place.
What happened next was predictable, I say. Merlin told everybody what their lord did, told them that their new lord was a kind, young, wise, clever man that he and his majesty themselves picked to be the new lord, and that he would arrive tomorrow at dawn.
As for me, I leaned my back against the pole at the hanging station, browsing through my head as to what I could do now. I could start over and move to another village, or be the mute king of thieves again. I loved the latter, but starting over sounded really heavenly to me.
“My child, I have a proposition to make you.” Merlin said as he appeared out of nowhere; I jumped, spooked.
He laughed, “My apologies, young one.”
I shook my head as to say ‘No, no. It’s okay.’
“I see you are trying to decide what to do next in your eventful life. ‘To start anew or to steal once more’, am I not correct?” He told me.
I hung my head in shame; he knew about my sins.
He chuckled softly before petting me on the hair like he did earlier,
“Young child, would you like to come with me?”
He asked. I looked up at him with surprise, my look of surprise screaming ‘Really?’. Merlin chuckled once more, “Yes child, you can come with me, but on an agreement.” He said.
I tilted my head to the side, as if to say ‘what are the terms?’
“You come with me and I take you under my wing as my apprentice, and you help me protect Camelot. Is that a bargain?”
I thought about it. Going with him would mean lots of studying and physical training, but what could happen? I nodded my head. Merlin smiled once more.
I mouthed to him, ‘Do I call you, Sir Merlin, Lord Merlin or Merlin?’
“You can call me any of those my child, but I do prefer getting called by Merlin.”
I nodded my head.
“Forgive my rudeness for not asking earlier child, but what is your name?”
I paused. I didn’t… have a name. People just called me trash or filth, and I don’t have any recognition of my parents. I shook my head as an answer.
“Ah, you do not know what you are called? Then I will name you once again. Hmm..,” he hummed as he combs his fingers through his beard,” Ah, yes. I shall call you, Aurum. It is the Latin term for gold.” He said as he looked at me with a kind smile.
Aurum sounded nice. I liked it. I smiled back at him, and nodded to say ‘okay.’
He grabbed my hand and made me walk with him,
“Come now Aurum, we must journey back to our home.”
I jolted awake. My skin was heated and my tears were dried. I always had that dream, or memory. I looked up at the sky to look at the time, and saw that it was noon. I sighed through my nose, and rose to my feet. It was time for my duty, and I walked to the edge of the balcony. I could see the rough waters of the sea down there. I glared at the big waves and grit my teeth; I jumped. I landed in the rough waters, but the current still hurt my muscles. I let myself be dragged along the current, where I did not have to worry about getting lost because this current dragged me to where I needed to be. I arrived at the ‘humongous’ castle in ruins, where my duty has been carried out here for centuries. I waddled out of the water and dried myself with my hot breath. I knew that the prisoner here would not escape. But one detail about the prisoner made me wary, which was she so tiny? She could escape easily because of her size, but I don’t think she tried to escape once in her life here as prisoner because I was here, guarding her and protecting her from harm. I know I call her prisoner, but I do not know the term for someone like her.
I stood in front of her window, where I made sure to make as much noise as possible to alert her that I was here. I could hear her heartbeat (which was unusual when I had first started, but I got used to it.) which meant that she was there. I huffed through my nose. She was here, okay. I looked at the sky to know the time, and saw that it was almost noon and a half. I lay on the ground with nothing to do. After dozens of minutes lying down like that, I stood up and started wandering somewhere in the castle. I saw lots of animals in the castle, but they all looked tiny in comparison to me, like the prisoner. I approached them, but when they heard me approaching, they ran away, like they always do. I don’t understand; I’m not a monster darn it! I stomped my foot on the ground, angered. I calmed down and sat down, where I watched two shelled slugs race one another. It sure did keep me occupied, because when I looked up at the sky, it was a hue of orange and purple. I felt a disturbance in my Propinquo which is Latin for ‘Magnetic field’. Well, I think.
Anyways, someone was here and I knew it. I immediately raced back to the prisoner, where could only feel one heartbeat, so that meant that the intruder had not arrived yet. I glanced around rapidly, trying to find a hiding place to hide. I hid behind the tower of the prisoner. I could feel the rapid pace of the intruder, and its’ heartbeat. It stopped right in front of the tower, where the prisoner was;
“Oh Princess! I’ve found you at last! Don’t fret for I am here to save you!” I heard him scream.
“Oh Prince! I am saved by you! Thank the gods!”
“Hush, now princess! The beast might hear us! I will now throw to you some rope that I—“
He had not finished his sentence because I emerged from the back of the tower, growling intensely. He would not take the prisoner away from me! She is mine to protect! The prince stood there, scared as I walked towards him with the grace of a feline. I would scream, but I could not, since I was a mute.
Suddenly he jumped back and took out a tiny silver stick. I glanced at him confused, what was he going to do with a small silver stick? He charged towards me, but I did not stop him; too curious to do anything. He reached and poked my neck. I didn’t feel anything until a pain rung throughout my throat as I screamed silently and jumped back with closed eyes. I felt heat in my neck the moment I screamed, and it travelled to my mouth. I jumped around, clawing at my neck to ease the pain. When the pain had eased, I opened my eyes, only to see fire everywhere and the prisoner with the intruder. This scene was... familiar
I cried helplessly as I held a Merlin’s hand in my own. We were in our house, eating our supper in delight when a group of men barged into our home and started screaming at Merlin;
“We are here to kill you! You have a high bounty on your head that will last us a lifetime!”
Merlin had not brought his wand with him, so he clapped twice and coughed once; it was a signal for me to run. But I refused to.
“Gentlemen, please,” Merlin said, “one by one.”
And that’s how we were here in this position; him under a wooden pole with fire everywhere while I was holding his hand.
“Aurum… you must,” he was interrupted by a series of coughs and wheezes,” leave me..”
I shook my head as I cried. I refused to leave him! He placed his hand on my cheek. I put my available hand on top of his and gripped it tightly.
“Listen to me… my time has... come. God has plans… with me above… you must go… please Aurum.” He pleaded. I shook my head once again, not refusing to leave his side.
“Then it cannot be helped…”
He took his other free and placed it on my chest and started reciting a phrase. A blue hue emitted from my chest and my vision suddenly went white.
“I’m sorry to do this… but please understand me Aurum… it is not your time yet…”
And everything faded to black, and I was transported to that cave, with his mission in my mind.
‘Protect the princess. Don’t let anyone capture her.’
I gasped. Was that how I came to be? Was that how I arrived here, in this forsaken place? Tears welled in my eyes, Merlin saved me… again…
“I will vanquish you, wicked beast! How dare you capture the princess?!”
He charged towards me again, and headed below me. I looked down, and understood why they called me a beast. I was a man-eating, fire breathing dragon; I was enormous, with large wings with white hard skin and golden eyes! At that moment, pain seared through my abdomen, the knight had cut open my stomach. I could feel the blood rise up to my mouth and I fell on my side, defeated. I could feel the knight mount on me and step on my skull as he looked at me in the eye in my final moment.
He smirked,“Long live the King.”
“And he struck me in the eye with his sword. I smiled, happy, because I finally had peace.” I finished the last sentence of my book. The crowd cheered, happy. I smiled, running a hand through my brown hair. I stepped off the podium and saw the MC get on stage,
“Wow! That was a fantastic story by Aurum Clournier! It’s his new release—“
I didn’t tune in anymore. I walked to the backstage and saw my daughter there, sitting on the couch.
“Daddy! Daddy! Can I ask you a question?” she asked excitedly, running to me.
I crouch and grabbed her, “Yes my little butterfly. Ask me.”
“Why do you always write stories about the Middle Age or about Fairy Tales?”
I smiled, and brushed a strand of hair off her face, “Because daddy likes them. Do you like daddy’s stories?”
“Yes! Even if I don’t understand.” I laughed as she giggled.
My inner consciences’ voice fluttered throughout my head,
‘Liar; you remember everything that happened in that world, don’t you?’ it questioned me.
I smirked; yes. Yes, I did. I remember everything.