M (ella_rose88) wrote in ag_fics,
M
ella_rose88
ag_fics

SC7 Entry 6: The Enchanted Bog



Title: The Enchanted Bog
Themes and/or Prompt/s AU Medieval
Rating: Teen
Word count: 3,499
Characters/Pairings: Gwen, Leon, Merlin, Arthur {Arthur/Gwen}
Spoilers/Warnings: Mildly mature at times
Disclaimer: I disclaim. I receive no compensation for this. Merlin belongs to Shine/BBC
Summary: Committal takes hold, bringing on these actions and feelings. It compels proof and belief to surface from the embittered land.
Author’s notes: During the time of the middle ages there was the Little Ice Age. Elements of this story are based on fact/research for that, and blacksmithing as well.

***

The Enchanted Bog

The rider raced over rough terrain. As the tall pillars of ashen wood came into view, the horse reared upward. Past the barrier, the rider pushed on.

Nonetheless, the armored pursuers caught up. Their raging breaths were like roars of lions to the rider’s ears as one grasped hold of waist, and pulled.

The saddle’s cushion lost, the rider rolled with a pained yell to the ground.

Fingers tightened fiercely.

“Dare to break Camelot’s law. You will face judgment.”

The turban of smoke-gray cloth was yanked away. The men, who were called Knights of the Round Table, gasped in shock.

“A woman!”

The rider felt her last breaths eking out, the back of her head warm and wet. She whispered, “I am from the Meredoc Sea, within Camelot’s jurisdiction. I seek audience with the king.” She brought the paper out from her cloak, held by a shaking dirtied hand. “I am one of The Twelve the late king commissioned. It makes me worthy of pleading for my brother’s life.”

Thus, with that last trembling breath, the woman’s head fell back. Her eyes closed.

A knight of red curling hair, his name Leon, exchanged glances of bewilderment with the others, before picking her up and carrying her within the castle.



It had been three years now since its dawning, The Age of Ice altering much. Camelot, like most kingdoms of Albion, no longer held its gates open to people not within the closest proximity. The Age of Ice had brought on floods, the oddest formations of icebergs, scarcity of animals, and so of course famine. The cold brutal winds were like rapists of the land. No one was immune, but those especially on the outskirts of Kingdom, were the harshest victims.

The woman rider was pulled up by the arms and taken from her cell to the mighty throne room. A bandage touched the back of her head. Her dirtied hands had been washed. Once at center aisle, she was pushed to her knees.

The young king rose from his throne, his metallic look giving little away as he stood above her. “So you are one of The Twelve? For your brother you use this privilege I am told. Who is he?”

Her knees not accustomed to the stone ground, she tightened her lip before hearing the king’s voice grow softer.

“You may stand if you’d prefer.”

She did, but kept her eyes upon the floor. “My brother is named Elyan. You have arrested him for-

Dry vicious laughter cackled from some of the knights. She looked up for just a second, noticing a man near the king, wearing long robes over tunic and pants. His warm blue eyed gaze locked with hers for a moment before the king regained her attention with a word.

“Murder.

Of one of my knights. You have foolishly used your one privilege. Guards-

She looked again to the man in the robes. He was watching her with veiled curiosity, the dark hairs upon his head framing a starkly white thin face. And she rushed. Not to him. To the king. “Sire, please. You are wrong.”

Gasps let out. Hand of an armored man whipped near her face, but another caught it with an iron grip, the king’s authoritative voice stating firmly, “The abuse of a woman within Camelot is against our laws. Temper yourself Knight Gareth.”

Chagrined, the man stepped back. The king continued. “And as for you…” He let it hang there.

“Gwen…Sire.”

He scrutinized for a moment, not seeming to agree with it. “The right of privilege does not give you the allowance to enter Camelot so--audaciously, and be impudent. Your brother has committed a heinous crime.”

“My brother did wrong by killing. But your knight would not give food to Meredoc’s people, after the markets charging too much of those who have little funds, if any at all. Instead he forced his way into home of an expectant woman. My sister- in-law. He would have had his ways with her if my brother had not stopped him.”

“HOW DARE-

Once again the king intervened. “Hold your tongue Omar. I know Sir Dagonet’s death has caused great misery, he like a brother to you, but this is still my court.”

The king dismissed all then, but two.



Gwen could tell by looking upon his feet, that it was the robed man who secondly remained.

The king circled slowly around her, saying nothing for a few ticks. And then, paper of commissioned proof in his hand, “As one of The Twelve you are given silver compensation. Substantial worth. And yet you claim the people hunger. Do you keep it all to yourself?”

She shook her head furiously, and felt it, a finger at her chin.

“You may look at me when you speak.”

She did, seeing a blaze of empyrean eyes and full pouting lips, finalized with an angular jaw. “I have not been paid for eight months now.”

“How can that be?”

She glanced at the robed man quickly, before focusing on the fair haired king once more who seemed to be impatiently waiting. “I am no longer able to craft the swords. The bog from which I got the ore-

“Dried up?”

She shook her head, dreading stating the ludicrous truth, but lies were the miscreant’s choice. “It is still intact. However, when I forge a new sword from it…hours later…it disappears. It vanishes.”

He surveyed her with amazement, and turned backward. “Is this possible Merlin?’

The other shrugged cautiously. “I’ve never heard of it before, but if it’s enchanted anything’s possible.”

“Is it?” The king asked her. “Enchanted?”

Gwen nodded uncomfortably, not caring of magic and its illusion that contradicted science. “My father swore it was, and his too. The best iron ore ever they’d say. I don’t know if that’s true.”

“You could be lying to me.” The king told her evenly now.

Gwen regarded him almost coldly, as she was a woman who did not hold to chicanery.

“I am not. You would know better if you actually lifted from your throne more often King Arthur Pendragon, but you have not since the Age of Ice began and your father’s death soon after. You sit upon it instead, surrounded by luxury as many of your people suffer. My brother-

“Is a murderer.” He hissed, getting her to retaliate.

“Is a GOOD man. Your knight acted wrongly. It is unfortunate he had to die, but it was a slip. I know. My sister-in-law told me. Elyan never wanted his death, only for him to back off.”

“My knights swear your brother was a vicious killer.”

“Your knights lie.”

Merlin gasped. The king lifted his hand. Gwen flinched away from it, but then it was gripping her shoulder, a cool voice telling her to look at him again.

“If that is so, then let us see something else. Let us see if you lie. You say that the bog is enchanted, that the swords--disappear.”

“Yes Sire.”

She shakily whispered, truth on her side, but maybe not an ally enough.

“Prove it will disappear and I will spare your brother, for you are right about one thing. People should not have to suffer. I am not a cruel man, Gwen.” She cast a gander to his eyes now, seeing modicums of altruism. “It matters to me if your sister-in-law is indeed hungering.

Withal, if you try beguiling me, not only will your brother face execution immediately. You may face it yourself.”

His look was fierce, howbeit she was no beguiler.

“I will prove it. I will show any knight you send with me, anyone at all-

“We ride at dawn.”

“Sire?” Gwen questioned with shock.

“You will prove it to me.”



It took three days and two nights to reach the brutalized coastline of the Meredoc Sea. It surprised Arthur just how ravaged the land was. “What happened here?’

Gwen moved down from her horse, gesturing for the king, who was in a totality of black leather, to follow. As she walked, she pulled the old fur lined cloak that she wore tighter around her body. It was torn and stained, but the warmest material of clothing she had that she could wear over her pants and tunic shirt. “The last flood. It covered much of the land, sundered away any crops. Scared away most of the animals.”

She took him to a sandy bank of frozen dried out plants and pointed. “There…that is where we live.”

He nodded, thinking the lay of land before him that bordered the swelling ocean, did not seem all that impressive. “We’ll make camp here then.”



Midnight.

She checked cautiously. His low snore gave away his sleep. It was risky, and yet her determination was immutable. Gwen scurried to where the horses stood, and untied hers. As she commenced to mount, a blade poked her side.

“Get down. Slowly.”

Letting out a ragged sigh, she dropped to her feet. “Sire-

He ignored her protest and tugged at her cloak, revealing it. “You stole food.”

She moved down, picking up the fallen nourishment, all of it still wrapped tightly. “It’s the food I was given within cell.”

“Where do you think to take it?”

Gwen told him more about the village some miles away. “My sister-in-law’s child is ill. Why would I run? Makes no sense. I want my brother to live. I was only going to take this to her.”

Catching hold of Gwen’s wrist, Arthur told her gruffly, “You’re foolish to think to ride in the eventide. Get a lame horse that way. We’ll go together at first light.”



The condition of what remained of the village appalled Arthur the next morning. “This is awful.”

Gwen pointed to the shanty huts, made of earth, stone, and plants. “Best we can do.”

He was even more unnerved at the impecunious conditions within the tiny home. While a young child wailed with fever, the mother shivered fiercely.

Gwen sighed as Arthur ran out of the house. Spoilt king couldn’t take it that his people would live so wretchedly.

But then he was soon reentering, carrying blankets. “From the horses.” He stated, and gestured to Gwen. “Give these to them so they get no sicker.”

For a tick of time Gwen stared at him with wonder, before assisting her sister-in-law and nephew.



The site of the bog wasn’t much better, and at great distance from the village. Arthur followed Gwen into the tiny stone building, seeing its grittiness of years. Gwen told him, “My grandfather built it. Was in better condition then I suppose.”

He shook his head. “Forging can take days. You live alone out here?”

“As you can see…” She pointed to the dried grasses and horribly uneven terrain, to the motley assortment of trees and to the angry sea winds that pulled at their winter clothes, “It is not land suitable for a village. My brother used to help me some nights.”

“And the ones he didn’t?” Arthur asked sharply.

She shrugged. “I’m not fearful of solitariness Sire.”

He said nothing, silently pondering.

The Age of Ice meant danger of attack was always imminent. Both Leon: head knight, and Merlin: sorcerer/healer, were astounded he wanted to be the one to go with her. Then Merlin made a silly comment, saying that she intrigued him, before sending it ahead.

Arthur called for it now. The golden brown feathered owl swooped from its high perch to a lower branch, as if it had just descended from the sky.

Gwen gasped in shock, so Arthur held out his hand to her. “Don’t be alarmed. It’s Merlin’s. I use it to call him. He healed your head and can help your sister-in-law in kind.”

It was another marvel. Elyan always complained that he was nothing but a selfish brat, and she rarely defended him. It seemed though he did have minims of beneficence. “Thank you.”

“You still must prove the enchantment or your brother will die.” He told her sternly, and she glowered, gesturing for him to follow her to the bog as the owl sailed into the air past them, its destination: Camelot.

The bog was nothing illuminating, like most others small, and shallow in depth. Beyond the dried grasses though, it floated in the air, steam. Gwen stooped down as Arthur observed the oily film on the surface of the water with quiet fascination. Using her turf knife, Gwen pulled away and cut the surrounding peat, revealing the tiny deposits of bog iron.

The blast furnace did the smelting. Although petite, Gwen was quite adept at her task, and Arthur couldn’t help notice, of unique beauty. Her dark curls of hair, pulled away from her tanned face, illuminated under the growing moonlight as day turned to evening. Gwen made clay of various articles, including horse’s dung, not shying away from the smelly flaming process like other women might.

“I didn’t know any of The Twelve were female.”

Gwen smiled softly, eyes concentrated upon the blast furnace. “Your father was not privy either. I cut most my hair off then, never caring for deceit, but knowing I would not be accepted into The Twelve if I resembled a woman.”

They were the finest blacksmiths of the land, committed to the king. But in the Age of Ice, Arthur’s takeover of it fell short. And so he did not know all of them as intimately as maybe he should, did not realize one had stopped forging altogether.



Many hours later Arthur awoke to cast eyes upon the dawn, and see Gwen still hard at work. Gathering his leather coat around himself, he moved to where she sat upon a rock formation. “Do you not sleep?”

She wiped at her brow with her sleeve. “My brother’s life consumes my heart.”

He scowled at that, and then his empyrean eyes widened as the slag began to appear. “What-

“The ore’s waste. It drains at the furnace’s lower section.”

Beads of sweat dripped from her curls to her forehead and down her skin. They lapped at her throat and near the commencement of her breast. Arthur moved forward, wiping at her brow gently. “It’s too hot. You should move away.”

“Process is not done.” She told him evenly. He wiped more from her skin, not feeling her tiny shivers, and sat down nearby, upon the dirt since there was no other rock.

As the sun started its hazy lift, the bloom was produced, a mixture of iron slag and charcoal. Seeing that she was tired, Arthur helped Gwen extricate it. The slag and charcoal were hacked off and the rest was compacted and folded. The chunks now broken correctly to begin the process in the forge, Arthur grasped Gwen’s waist. She sighed, hot and cold the same, the temperature of outside air frigid, but the furnace well past boiling.

“Come. You need to rest.”

She nodded, following him to a placement upon the ground that was not steaming from the furnace.

“You balance it all well. How did you learn?”

She told him about her father and grandfather, what they taught her, and that they said she had a natural gift at it.

Arthur had to agree.

He got her to eat some of the meats and fruits brought from Camelot, but only little pieces. Sleep consumed her quickly, furthermore she leant against his shoulder and chest without thought, just weariness, to which he made no protest. Simply he pressed his hand to her back to keep her steadily sustained.



The forging took a week, the atmosphere barren, lonesome at times, and so conversation a must.

He told her of his father, his imperious, but strangely loving ways. And she confessed that the moonlight was something she craved, and so loneliness was never there when that golden-silvery ball sailed into the sky.

The work consisted of melding the bog components with other materials to form hard gleaming steel.

Arthur was in awe at the transformation, telling her it reminded him of his very first sword, which they determined together had likely been forged by her father.

A rare animal was spotted the day she was finishing off the metal’s shine. He grasped her hand to get her to look upon it with him, and wondered if she would be good at catching it. That moment he learned she was a terrible hunter, as the wild hare scurried away from her awfully impetuous advance.

She shrugged. “Can’t be good at everything.”

Laughter came, and then his thumb upon her chin, his mouth advancing to kiss her warm one. He gazed afterward, spoke. “Gwen is pretty. Yet it seems not enough.”

She nodded, and told him her name by birth. “Guinevere.”

He liked that much more.

That night the moon glowed with such resplendent light as if enchanted by effervescence. When he kissed her further she didn’t protest. Nor when his gentle hands lifted away her clothing. Instead she parted him from his. And together they lay within the tall wild grasses. He thrust and she widened to each drive of his manhood. It was passionate and frenzied, steams of carnal calescence like the furnace she welded with. His lips found her throat and murmured dispatch. She answered with fervent flaming whispers. Neither questioned the sudden ache of need to be one with each other. They just welcomed the urgent ecstasy, and then lay harmoniously afterward in each other’s arms, as if they were brought to world this way. Melded like ore to carbon.



Morning came, and the sword remained. It, and the words that spat from his raging lips, stunned her.

“I told the truth.”

Rare to open his heart to anyone, his scowl hid pain. “I trusted you. We…” He gestured to the grasses where only moments ago they lay entwined. “And yet-

“No.” She insisted.

He dismissed her mutterings, stating that Elyan would die for murdering an honorable knight. And as for her own fate-

He couldn’t say more, arcing away as she pleaded for him to take her life in place of her brother’s.



Days later, in silence they returned to Camelot, the sword fully intact.

The morning of her brother’s execution Gwen wept, but then the gentle knight named Leon appeared at her cell’s door and told her to follow.

She stepped within the king’s chambers, heard him tell her the sword was gone. Her brother would be spared.

She cried relief, howbeit pushed hand to her breast. “You did not believe me. I gave my heart, my veracity, and you accused me of immoral lies.” Her body quavering with a mismatched cacophony of joy and pain, she advanced to the door.

“Guinevere.” She didn’t cease.

“Guin_E_vere!” He stated sharply and she turned around, seeing material in his hand, and then a gleam of metal.

“But you told me it was gone. What kind of game do you play?’

He dropped the shining object carefully and looked into her eyes, the same pair that he looked into that day she entered his throne room and implored her brother’s release. Something then took hold of him, and still did now. For there was such passionate rectitude in them, the same he saw when he first entered her impassioned womanhood and she did not flinch at his coming.

“No game. I only know you spoke the truth.”

She shook her head, pointing. “But the sword remains.”

He shrugged. “So it does. You said the bog was enchanted. Maybe it felt the magic of us.”

She scoffed at that.

“How you love me is in your eyes.”

No. Not after how you didn’t believe-

“How I love you is in mine.”

Gwen lifted her head, feeling the push of his lips as Arthur whispered, teasing back one of the curls he adored. “I spare your brother for that love. For you teaching me that I have not been the kind of king rightful for Camelot. I need to be with the people more, see to their sufferings, and help. I need to be sure of my knights. One of my finest, Gwaine, confessed. Sir Dagonet acted wrongly. Elyan was looking out for his wife. The Age of Ice made me as cold as it, but you and your smelting warmed my heart again.

I love you and your veracity. Truly.

Remain in Kingdom. Marry me Guinevere.”

He descended to his knee then, kissing the top of her hand.

“You hurt me.” She breathed painfully.

“I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Love is something new, something frightening to me.” His eyes held anxious mists, tears of hope.

As did hers, for she could see his fear, feel her own, but also the committal, the throe to hold his heart again like he let her within those wild grasses of the bog. As now she let the magic of love take command, passionately whispering,

“Yes. I’ll marry you.”

Perhaps the bog was enchanted.

Enchanted with finding one’s true love.

***

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Tags: /theme: au, rating: t (13+), writer: mara93, ~2013 short challenge: submissions
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