A Desperate Plea
Roleplaying Log: A Desperate Plea
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Merlin comes at Frank's call, and what he asks of the wizard, he cannot fulfill, but allies are made.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: November 24, 2019
IC Location: Gotham Central Hospital
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 17 Dec 2019 03:25
Rating & Warnings: PG-13 (Frank)
Scene Soundtrack: [*\# None]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

It's been days now, and Frank is bruised, battered, and at his wit's end. He has at least one cracked rib by now, and on his second broken nose of the past several days. He sits in the darkness of a hospital room, watching Barbara Gordon slip in and out of consciousness. Eventually, he sighs and pulls out a little piece of paper with a wizard's hat on it. "Fuck it," he mutters. Clenching his off hand, he slams the fist softly into the arm of the chair, wincing as the motion pulls on split knuckles. "Bathrobe. You there? I could use a hand." He pauses a moment, then lets out a little breath, "Jesus this is ridiculous."

It's been a rather quiet day for Merlin. Other than examining some items he received a few days ago, he's spent most of his time in quiet contemplation and reading. When one of the pieces of paper are used to summon him, he smiles gently and pushes himself up. Straightening up his robes, he clears his throat. "Now, where did I put my staff? Ah, yes. Of course!" He snaps his fingers and it materializes. Taking hold of his staff, he stands tall, disappearing from his present location.

Practically instantaneously, he appears in the hospital room. "A person in need shall a hand receive." The old wizard looks about the room, from Frank to Barbara and back again. "It appears you both have seen your share of battle." Leaning on his staff, the old wizard contemplates the scene before him. "What can I do for you, young man?"

Barbara is breathing in a deep breath to speak just before Merlin's voice cuts in, and she realizes abruptly that someone is in the room with them that hadn't been moments ago. She slowly opens her eyes to glance toward Frank once, and then to Merlin. She takes in the wizard — robes, staff, and so unlike John Constantine. Then her tired eyes shift back to Frank. "Friend of yours?" She licks at her lips, and for one, they do not feel cracked and dried. The most recent surgery had been rough what with seeing to what could become an infection of the spine — just something else she needs.

Frank doesn't know what he's expecting. He probably should be expecting something just like what happens, but he's not. He's just started to look over to Babs as she shifts, and then there's a wizard in the room. "Shit!" The paper flutters to his knee and then down to the floor as he starts in his seat, reaching painfully toward the small of his back and the pistol stored there. He stops before he gets there, however, grimacing and pushing himself out of his seat. "Yeah." That could be for Merlin or for Barbara, but its to her side that he crosses, reaching out to clasp her hand and then get her a cup of water. "This ain't nothin', but she got it bad tryin' to save her dad." And then back to Babs, "The ghosts. This was the other guy. One of the other guys."

"Friend of mind? Oh, no, we've only really met…oh. Right. Of course. You're speaking with…" Merlin focuses his gaze instead upon the machines, some with their beeping and line, and others with their various functions. "Hmm?" He perks at the word 'yeah'. "Ghosts? Oh! Yes, right. The ghosts. That was certainly an interesting day." Motioning to Frank's hands and the bruises he can see, the old wizard asks, "Would you care for me to heal those. They seem rather simple and I could probably have an ointment or potion or spell to heal them up good as new in no time." He reaches out a hand toward Barbara, closes his eyes, and mutters a few words. "I'm afraid any magic I were to use on yourself, my dear lady, would take more time to take action, although I do believe I could be more effective at relieving any pain should you still be feeling some."

Turning back to Frank, he smiles. "Assuming for a moment it wasn't to cure each of you of your ailments, might I enquire as to what it is that pushed you to summon me here today?"

"And here I thought I was the only one who made friends with magicians," Babs muses aloud with a little, almost awkward smile for Frank. Then she's pushing her knuckles into the mattress on either side of her hips, hauling herself upright with a hard groan. She then rests back into the pillows, the cushions sighing under her relaxed weight. "Hi." The word is soft as she smiles to Merlin. "I'm Barbara. Barbara Gordon." Then he's reaching a hand out toward her, and she breathes a steadying breath as he assesses her with magic. Then she starts to smile, her smile a bit sorrowful. "It's alright. If magic could repair a broken spine, I imagine that Constantine or Zatana would have already been here." She flickers an apologetic look to Frank. Then she sighs out a soft breath. "Relieving pain would be a good forward step. I would like to get out of this place."

Frank looks over to Merlin at the magician's confusion, his own brow furrowing. Barbara's quiet words, and her stubborn attempt to sit up, causes him to snort. He sets down the cup and reaches out to steady her as she settles higher in the hospital bed. His battered fingers squeeze at Babs's shoulder, and then he turns his attention back to Merlin, burying the split knuckles of one hand into the palm of the other, "Yeah, these ain't shit, sir." The title comes automatically, not a statement of superiority, just a polite method of address. His lips thin as the wizard's response and Barbara's sad smile. He bites off a sour grumble of his own, although directed outside the room rather than at either of the other occupants. "Thanks, but I'm more worried about her. Pain, anythin' you can do." There's a pause, "And I don't suppose you do trackin' shit, do you?"

"Friends are always useful to have, whether they know magic or not. For friendship, in and of itself, can be a magic of its own." Merlin speaks softly. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Gordon." The old sorcerer offers her a smile in kind. "I am Merlin. Just…Merlin." He offers a little nod to both Barbara and to Frank. "Pain relief I can do. I can ease it, dull it, make you forget that it's even there." He explains to them. "I have some spells that can help with this, but I also might be able to get you a potion that you can use when the pain gets particularly bad."

Turning his attention once more to Frank, her furrows his brow. "Tracking? I am proficient at it. Give me what information you have and I may be of assistance."

"Just… Merlin." Any other day, any other time, any other life, Barbara might wonder about the name Merlin and its connection, but for now — at this moment — she is sure she knows the connection. He gives his offers, and she takes in a breath. "Ease it. Dull it." Her jaw sets. "I don't want to forget it's there. I just want to be able to get out of here before Christmas." Because right now, Thanksgiving in the hospital looks all the likely. She drags the back of her hand across the underside of her nose. Then she looks up at Merlin. "I'll take whatever healing you can offer." She doesn't even ask the price. John taught her that all magic has a price, but she would pay this one without thinking twice. Now she glances over toward Frank, and confusion tightens her brow. "Frank, what—?"

Some might expect Frank Castle to snark back about the value of friendship, but instead he nods sharply, "Yeah. Not how I'd put it, but there ain't nothin' like friends and family." The description of Merlin's abilities draws a slow nod, but there's a tight little smile behind Barbara's response, one that disappears right afterwards, "Good call." He nods again at Merlin's response to his second question, "I've got shit and more shit, really. Been tryin' to find the asshole that took shots at Babs and what-the-fuck-ever his name is. Hard as hell to get info on them."

Shuffling over to her side, Merlin holds out his hand. "May I have your hand, please, Miss Gordon?" With her hand in his, he places his other hand over hers, clasping it between both of his hands. He starts to murmur a spell, the pain throbs a bit, ebbing and flowing. The pain almost seems to be flowing from Barbara over to Merlin, transferring from her to him through the hands. After a few minutes of this, he lets out a small gasp and releases, sighing. "You should, hopefully, be feeling some relief." He says, smiling ever so slightly.

Looking to Frank, he offers a nod. "I may be able to assist with that. There are a few things I would like, if we are able to acquire them. Well, one item first and foremost." He looks to Barbara. "The weapon used to injure you. Were they able to remove it?"

The ask for her hand has her smiling a bit weakly, but she gives it over easily enough. Hers is soft, warm with very few callouses thanks to wearing gloves in her other life. She reaches out to touch the top of Merlin's second hand with hers. Then she closes her eyes, focusing on the magic that Merlin conjures up with his focus. Her own breath sharpens at the throb of pain, but then she is sinking into a comfortable softness that comes with the loss of pain — and some of her wounds becoming less so. She welcomes it, and she nods slightly in her thanks. Her throat is thick around her words, and there's a hint of tears in her blue eyes. Then she sucks in a tight breath and tries to settle back into the conversation. Merlin looks to her, asks that question, and she glances slightly to Frank. "Yeah," the word is hoarse. "But the police have it." Now her frown settles, regarding the two men. "But I can give you the access codes needed to get into the evidence room in the GCPD headquarters."

You didn't think it was going to be easy, did you, Castle?

Frank shifts uncomfortably as he watches Barbara's initial reaction to the magic, grimacing and his fingers twitching at his sides as he paces two steps away, and then two back, back and forth several times even over the course of bare minutes, unable to stay still like there's a live wire driven under his skin. It's not just the oddness of magic, it's the inability to do anything to help. He watches Babs and Merlin through the process, glancing up once at the door when there's a sound from the hallway beyond, but otherwise focusing closely on the two. Finally, Babs sinks back, and Frank is at her side again in a moment, reaching out for her shoulder and squeezing, his thumb just rising to brush against the side of her throat. It takes him a moment to realize that Merlin is speaking to him again, and he blinks as he focuses back on the other man's words, a grimace of disappointment starting to come to his features. The weapon, the weapon is likely to be with the killer — but then Merlin clarifies, and his brows lift, his eyes snapping back over to Barbara in silent question. Her response draws a sour grunt from him, but he nods, "I'll get it if I gotta. Might be some folks who can get it easier'n me. I'll keep poundin' the pavement." And anyone that appears in his metaphorical crosshairs as he asks questions. He studies Babs for a moment longer, then looks back to Merlin, "Thanks, sir. You doin' that means a whole hell of a lot."

Finding a chair nearby, Merlin sinks into and sighs, letting his staff rest against the wall behind the chair. "It would be nice to be able to see the item that caused the damage. To hold it." He explains. "I understand if it's too difficult, but it would make things easier." He lets out a slow breath. "But going to where…to where Miss Gordon was injured, that is also important. Along with any other information I can be given. Especially regarding the people who did this."

He ponders for a moment. "If we know height, men or women, where they came from. Anything can help." He explains. "From there, I do have some magic that may help. But I am also a capable visual tracker." He explains. "With a mixture of sight and magic, I believe we can find who did this."

"It will need to be put back, and if anyone finds out it is missing, it might compromise it as part of evidence in the case." If there will be a case at all, but Babs doesn't say that aloud. Instead she just focuses on what might be considered a mission — something to do. She knows Frank needs that more than she does. So, she smiles a bit weakly at Merlin. "You will want to find where the bullet was fired." She looks aside toward Frank. "Have you found the perch?"

Then she looks over toward Merlin. "You will need to be careful out there, sir… Gotham isn't all that friendly to vigilante justice right now." Her eyes flicker over to Frank. "And they know The Punisher is here."

Frank watches Merlin sink into the chair, his frown deepening. His feet shift, but the discussion takes his attention away. "Pretty sure the cops don't wanna see me. But I bet we," he glances to Barbara, "know a blonde that'd fit in okay." Turning his attention back to Merlin, he shrugs, "Goin' to the place Babs got shot's easy enough. And yeah, I found where they took the shots from. Pretty sure it was there. Empty apartment, high up. Table in front'a the window, but not too close. As for visual, nobody's got a look at 'em." Beat pause, "I asked." Another pause. "A lot." He presses his lips together as he looks back to Babs, his right index finger twitching a little. "I don't much give two shits 'bout the case. And I'll take any more help people got to give in findin' whoever fuckin' did this." The fingers of his left hand tighten at Barbara's shoulder, and he adds, "I owe you one, Bathrobe."

"Going to where the person or people responsible hid and attacked from is important." Merlin nods. "We can take it from there, but everything I can see, smell, touch, perform spells on even, can be of assistance." He explains. "There's a lot to do, but we shall get it done." He smiles at Barbara and waves a hand in dismissal. "Don't you worry about me, Miss. I'm not vigilante. Not really. I am merely a man who goes where I'm needed. And sometimes I'm in the right place at the right time. Like the other night I assisted this silent woman in freeing people from a truck! A vigilante am I? No. More like…one who fights for those who cannot, presently, fight for themselves."

He shakes his head at Frank. "No, my good man. You do not owe me a thing. This I do freely. It is my pleasure to gift my time to you in assistance. There is nothing I'd rather do at the moment than help the two of you."

Frank mentions a blonde who can probably get in to retrieve the bullet, which only darkens her expression a bit more after Frank dismisses the case. "I care," she says hotly to him. "I care if there's a case, I care if GCPD has the evidence to support taking whoever did this down." Barbara still isn't ready to invest in Frank style retribution yet. She believes in the system; she has to continue to believe in the system. She takes in a breath, and she's back to rubbing at her paralyzed leg, trying to coax feeling into it. But she's stalled by Merlin's definition of who he is, and she starts to smile a bit. "Sorry, Merlin… I think that's just what most vigilantes are." Then she looks back to Frank. "Whoever was gunning for March and Dad had their reasons. Remember, Frank… they weren't trying to shoot me. We need to know why… that means keeping them alive."

"That's what I keep tellin' people." That Frank's not a vigilante. He's mostly given up. Shaking his head at the bearded man, he adds, "You try to convince me I don't owe you one, sir, I'm gonna start gettin' pissed off." Nodding toward Babs, he continues, "You did somethin' I couldn't." Only then does he look back toward the redhead, his eyes dropping to her hand on her leg, then back up to her drawn, freckled features. One hand settles at the nape of her neck, blunt, battered fingers squeezing gently and then turning to smoothing at the hair there. He doesn't remind Babs that if he finds whoever did this, there isn't likely to be a trial, but he adds, "They shot an innocent when they were gunnin' for someone tryin' to do good. Far as I'm concerned, that makes them a dead man walkin'. Even if they're a dead man walkin' who's got info you wanna know." He probably wants to know it to, but he generally has ways to find out what people know before he finishes them.

"Really? That's what a vigilante is these days? Huh." Merlin shakes his head. "Back when I was young, and in Arthur's day, we'd commend people for doing the right thing. But, of course, that was…oh, at least a millennia ago. I think. Maybe longer? It has been quite some time, anyway. Although, I suppose if vigilantes are doing the right thing, they can still be commended." He waves his hand again. "But then, I'm rambling. 'Tis not important. What's important is finding out who did this." He says softly.

"We'll do our best to find whoever did this. Once found, justice can be brought upon them." He raises an eyebrow at Frank. "I still insist that I am not owed. But to each their own."

"May I enquire as to the circumstances surrounding the attack?"

"There's good reason that the vigilantes of Gotham are called the Knights, sir." Babs keeps wanting to call him something other than sir, but magician sounds odd on her tongue, and Mr. Merlin isn't going to fly. She keeps realizing with each passing moment that this man is Merlin — the Merlin. "Is it true, then? Arthur, and the Knights, and all the myths?" It gives her something to distract herself with, to ask about something that she had thought years ago could never be true. But then there were aliens, and mutants, and she dated a magician. The world is a strange place.

She nods soberly at Frank and Merlin, and then she licks at her lips with a breath. "I was outside with my dad and the new Mayor-Elect. He was going to give a speech — the mayor, not my dad. But I saw something… or, sensed something. I don't know what it was. I just knew that something was going to happen, so… I tried to get them down. I guess that's when I got shot." She shakes her head with a frown. "It's all a little fuzzy in my head." And for a woman so perceptive, that's not an easy confession.

"Wait…" Frank's head snaps back to Merlin, "Like, the Merlin? What the actual fuck? I saw that cartoon." There's the Disney connection. He shrugs a little at Merlin's insistence, looking back to Barbara, the fingers at her neck stroking a gentle reassurance. "I saw the footage. I can show you if you want. Two shots. Bolt-action or a careful shooter." There's plenty of footage of the incident, and he's had GAARD dig up as much of it as she can. "First shot was aimed at her dad, but hit Babs when she pushed him down. Second shot hit March." He's learned the mayor-elect's name after hearing it on the news so often. "If they were shootin' from where I think they were, the policed their brass. But it was the only empty apartment with a good view. Plus the table was in the right spot."

"There are knights in Gotham?! Please excuse my surprise, but I didn't know. It's certainly a pleasant surprise, however." Merlin responds with a smile. "Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, Camelot. They were real. In fact," He looks at Frank, "you got to meet him. Arthur. The same night we met. Well, you met him in a roundabout way, I suppose. Arthur was the one protecting me." He explains.

"I helped train Arthur, in fact. I knew him from when he was a child. But those are stories for another day, perhaps?"

As he listens to the explanation of what happened, he nods. "Perhaps, when you're feeling stronger, Miss, would you permit me to look into your mind at the events in question? I am, what some call, telepathic. I do not use the skill often, unless need be, so neither of you need worry in my presence. However, I feel it could be useful here. With your permission, of course."

"Cartoon?" Barbara looks perplexed at Frank. She has not seen The Sword in the Stone, which perhaps only ages Frank a bit more. But then she is looking back toward Merlin as Frank unpacks what happened out there, methodical in his play-by-play of how Babs ended up in this bed with no feeling in her legs. She goes back to rubbing at the side of her thigh, only stopping when Merlin mentions that he taught Arthur, and the idea of being told the stories of a child who would become King Arthur bewilders her a moment.

Then Merlin is asking her permission to do something, and she licks at her lips. "I… yes. I think that would be okay." She glances toward Frank, holding up her hand gently to him as if to let him know that it's okay. "Will I…" She decides against the question, and instead just licks her lips with another little nod.

"Not real knights." In Frank's sour-knight opinion. "Vigilantes tryin' to do right." Still, he nods to Merlin, "Yeah. I was a little distracted. But I remember a guy with a sword." The mention of telepathy might be a bridge too far, with Frank shifting his weight and scowling all the deeper. He doesn't interrupt, however, just nodding to Babs, "Yeah. Cartoon. With an owl and a bunch of animals and a kid-Arthur who was a bit of a shit." That's a momentary distraction before he grunts at the thought of telepathy again, "You're the boss, Red." Looking back to Arthur, he adds, "She's got a killer memory when she hasn't been knocked about. Shouldn't be too hard."

"A cartoon, as I understand it, is a visual medium created by colouring or painting images that create a continuous story. Often they are projected upon a screen as a motion picture with music and vocalizations." Merlin tells Barbara. Since there was no specification regarding the specific cartoon Frank was referencing, the wizard took it upon himself to educate. It's in his nature to do so, after all.

He smiles and nods at the agreement regarding him using his telepathy. "I shan't delve into your mind today, Miss. 'Tis still important for you to get your rest. In times such as these, resting the mind can oft be as important as resting the body."

"What is a knight," He says to Frank, "but a person who fights for what is right and protects those incapable of protecting themselves? It may be argued, of course, that a knight must be made so by a royal. However, the spirit of knighthood, I believe, can reside within any who act in a knightly manner."

Now Barbara is smiling a bit more warmly toward the aged wizard. She doesn't even correct him that she knows what a cartoon is, but rather enjoys Merlin's simple definition. Then she's sobering a bit as she glances toward Frank, and she reaches for his hand to take gently in her own. Her fingers are soft, strong to remind him that she's not weakened even if she is bed-bound. Then she looks to Merlin. "Thank you, sir." Then, before she can help herself, she is going on, "I'm going to be out of here soon, so I'll be able to help."

Softer, Babs smiles to Frank. "You're a knight in your own way, Frank."

Frank snorts at Merlin's description of a cartoon, chuckling dryly, "Nerd." He looks between the two academics, "You two are gonna get along just fine." He laces his fingers together with Barbara's when she takes his hand, glancing down at her and nodding slightly, acceptance of the silent statement of strength. He nods more sharply as she goes on optimistically about getting out of the hospital, but the description of knighthood — and of him as a knight — has him snorting sourly, "Bullshit. You find out real soon these days that the ones in the shining armor are the fuckers that just want to look pretty an' get good press. Takes a whole different sort to do the dirty work," which might be a response to Babs's soft, smiling words, "Pretty sure specops ain't the knightly type, Red. Most'a the Corps'd be thrown right outta shiny knight shit." Which just goes to show that he doesn't know a whole lot about historical knighthood.

Merlin smiles at Barbara and nods. "Oh, I'm sure you'll be out of here quite quickly. Good spirits, they keep one going in even the most difficult of times." He says as he lightly turns his staff in his hand, watching Barbara and Frank's silent interactions. He can't help but chuckle at Frank's mention of knights. "You know, young man, if there ever was a knight who would parade around and whose armor was always shining? Those were certainly the knights that were merely there to…what's the phrase? They were 'showboating'." He raises one of his white haired eyebrow. "It was the knights whose armor was dented and dull who were the ones doing the real work. They were out in the world, fighting for the good of their king, queen, and for the people of the realm." He explains. "Never trust the ones who claim to be doing all this good, while their suits are nothing but shiny and clean."

Nerd. Barbara's smile warms a bit higher toward her eyes despite the fragile state of the world around her. Then Frank is enfolding her fingers with his, and she squeezes once more. Her smile softens for Frank a bit, even if there's some gentle sadness there in her eyes as he chases away any comparisons. She squeezes his hand again. Merlin's insights has her settling her head back into the pillows, almost eager to hear whatever stories he might have of knights long dead. Thoughts trickle in, comparing Frank's battered vest to the armor that Merlin speaks of, and then she starts to shake her head dismissively. "He won't agree," she tells Merlin. "Frank sees himself…" Her words taper off, and she squeezes his hand again. "He doesn't think he's a good guy."

"'All sizzle and no steak,'" Frank proposes at Merlin's look for the right phrase. "Fuck Kings and Queens and all that bullshit." He looks back to Barbara, looking just a little bashful for just a moment, "Look. I just do what needs to be done. I'm not in for bein' a good guy, I'm not in for claimin' territory. I'm just a soldier, still fightin' a war." Looking between Merlin and Barbara, he shakes his head, "It's still the same way though. The soldiers who know what they're doin', they're the ones with the battered gear, scrounged from wherever they could get it, look like shit on a parade ground, but fight like hell in the field."

"He may not agree, but that doesn't mean we can't know it to be true." Merlin grins and gives Barbara a little wink. "I've known many a knight in my time, not just the Round Table." He explains. "King Arthur, however, was a mighty knight. He wouldn't think twice about being the last man standing in the battle field, surrounded by his enemy." He explains. "Don't judge a book by its cover, and don't judge those who fight by their armor or title." He says softly.

"You know, not all the sizzles is steak, my dear man. Take it from someone who has done of a bit of sizzling in his time." Merlin chuckles.

Barbara just tightens her hand around Frank's briefly. Then she looks to Merlin. "He's a Knight… just a different breed." Then she releases a softer breath, closing her eyes as she rests her head back into the pillows. Something the wizard says has her brows tightening together briefly. Now, she opens her eyes to look between Frank and Merlin, and she cannot help herself to offer with a casual smile, "Frank has his own way of sizzling." Is that a little blush flaring up under the pale freckles of her cheeks? Maybe. She clears her throat and goes on, "He was a good man, Arthur?" The chance to ask about King Arthur isn't going to be passed up.

Frank doesn't dignify the 'confirmation' that he's a knight with a response, dragging a chair over to Barbara's bedside with a screech of plastic on linoleum. He settles down into it with a grimace, not letting go of Babs's hand as he does. He starts to open his mouth to respond to Merlin, but Babs gets there first, and he snorts, shaking his head. "Jesus, Red." Amusement ripples through the words, and he squeezes her fingers back, "Yeah, maybe not, sir. The book thing's right for sure. Those nasty mothers? They're usually not the biggest guy in the room either," says the biggest guy in the room. He settles in to listen to Merlin's answer to Barbara's question.

"I can see that of him. A different kind of knight. A knight in any other form would be just as caring." Merlin glances at his staff once more and shakes his head. "I don't believe I need this for the time being." He murmurs. "Dispersit." He says softly, and the staff fades from view. "Not much use for a staff when I'm talking to such fine company." He offers with a smile.

He raises an eyebrow once more, his eyes sparkling. "I'm sure he sizzles…well, in many ways." He chuckles softly and shakes his head.

"Arthur was a very good man." Merlin nods in agreement. "Very good indeed. He was a kind soul, but he stood his ground against injustice. He would not, could not, tolerate ill deeds against the innocent. He was a man who would fight side by side with a farmer to protect the man's crops from raiders, whether or not that farmer was one of his subjects."

The scrape of the chair legs against the floor draws Barbara's affronted attention for a moment. But, she spares Frank a comment to go with the look as she instead eases into a small smile. Now she closes her eyes as she rests her head back into the pillows again, just listening to Merlin's response. Her pink cheeks cool just a bit even if she can hear the little brow-raise in Merlin's words. Then she opens her eyes again to look over at Frank with a gentle roll of her head against the pillows. "Everyone needs a black knight, Frank." Now she looks back to Merlin even while she squeezes Frank's hand. "My dad used to love telling me some of the stories. Maybe one day you can tell me some, Sir Merlin."

The disappearance of the staff causes Frank to blink, and then shakes his head ruefully, muttering, "Fuckin' magic, man." The description of Arthur causes a grunt of approval, and Barbara's affronted look slides off him like water off a duck's back. Clearly, keeping hold of her hand and not causing his rib to twinge is more important than avoiding a scrape on the floor. No, he wasn't raised in a barn, why do you ask? "Black knight? This gonna be one of those bunny jokes?" He might have been distracted the one and only time he saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Still, he nods, "Man's gotta know what's important to him. There's worse places to draw your line in the sand than injustice. Might mean takin' a whole lotta action, but it ain't a bad place to be actin' from."

"One might say we all deserve a knight by our sides. Someone to watch over us." Merlin nods, murmuring softly. "But what's this about a bunny joke? I knew a bunny once, who had plenty of jokes but never ever seemed to be on time. Always constantly complaining about being late for a very important date…" There's a good chance that the old wizard is just messing with them now, but he says it in such a serious manner that it's hard to tell.

Smiling at Barbara, Merlin tilts his head. "You've been told stories of Arthur? By your father? How kind of him to keep the memory of Arthur alive. It's important to remember our past. I am a staunch believer in the philosophy that being mindful of the past shall help us to commit the same mistakes as our predecessors. Likewise, I believe that the past can provide insight into how we can live our lives today." He pauses briefly before adding, "Of course, some stories are just for entertainment and to give us a hearty laugh!"

Barbara casts Frank an oblique look that includes a little smile. "No. I was more thinking that you're not a shining white knight, but you're more like a black knight — who is still a knight." Then she is looking back to Merlin. "My dad? No. I mean, I'm sure he would have, but not really. I read your stories on my own, or watched the adaptations. Have you seen much about how this world envisions you these days? Might be a trip." But, at the inquiry about the bunny joke, Babs just looks back to Frank with a patient, amused look that says 'You're up, Frank.' She does look back to Merlin with a gentle smile. "My favorite story is still about Gawain though."

Frank shifts in his seat as they keep discussing him as a knight, but he doesn't interrupt, settling in so that he can keep holding Barbara's hand, but can slump down in a way that's more comfortable on his ribs. "Yeah, pretty sure that's a different bunny." He looks over to Babs, at a bit of a loss for a moment as he struggles to remember the plot, "There's somethin' about a black knight who keeps losin' his arms and legs, and a bunny with big, nasty, sharp teeth," almost, Frank, almost, "and a whole buncha British knights and… well shit, that's got Arthur in it too. But no Merlin. Just singin' and dancin' and really weird animation." Considering a moment, he adds, "And you gotta learn from history, or you're just gonna fuck it up again? Yeah. Problem is, it means the military's always fightin' the last war." Shaking that off, he looks over to Babs, "I don't know Gawain's story."

"Gawain? Oh, dear, sweet Gawain." Merlin smiles softly. "He was a good spirit, I think. A good soul, overall, if a bit misguided at times. Good intentions, though." He smiles a little. "The stories told of myself…I've heard some. I've not seen many of them told in modern form, such as television or movie, but the tales often reach my ears. Some true, some less so. But then, after so many centuries, truth often becomes hidden within myth" He says softly. "However, it would please me to hear your favourite story of Sir Gawain."

"A bunny with sharp teeth? That can be many a bunny." He ponders. "Singing? Dancing? Well, there certainly was singing and dancing back in then. It was fun. Very fun. Even I partook in it every once in a while." He tilts his head slightly. "Armies…they are certainly a different thing to how I first knew them. Ever evolving, they are."

Babs turns her head slightly toward Frank when he shifts a bit while still holding her hand. She squeezes slightly at his fingers before she turns her head back toward Merlin. "You should see some of it… some of it is, well, I imagine a bit amusing if not perhaps insulting at time." Now she turns slightly to Frank at his comment of war, and again her fingers squeeze at his. Then with a slight breath, she tries to remember her favorite story. "I think the one with the Green Knight. It felt like the most strange of his stories — beheading a knight who got back up with his head. Always pictured him tucking it under his arm like a basketball." Her smile has a slight press of amusement. "I can't remember how it ends though."

The squeeze at Frank's fingers draws his dark eyes over to Babs, and he nods slightly, the corners of his lips lifting ever-so-slightly before he looks back to Merlin, "I'm still tryin' to get my head 'round the idea of you bein' someone from hundreds of years ago. But I guess that ain't such a big deal compared to magic." Or, you know, it's the same thing. "And yeah, the black knight and Arthur and the bunnny and all that shit's from some crazy British movie. Might be a little insultin'. Somethin' about women throwin' swords." He goes quiet as Babs tells the story, and his eyes widen slightly, "Ohhh… yeah. That one. I read that story once. He does his duty, right?"

"As with most myth and stories, I am sure that the storytellers have permitted their own imaginations to run a bit…shall we say 'wild' when it comes to expanding on what is already known?" Merlin smiles and shakes his head. "They write for entertainment's sake, and not always to tell the truth. Once upon a time I may have worried about how the stories were told. However, it takes much for me to be insulted in this day and age." He chuckles. "As for being hundreds of years old…try over a thousand. I'm closer to a millennia and a half. But then, you are correct. Longevity of life does indeed surprise less than magic. Magic can always surprise a person. Long life is mundane compared to what magic can do."

At the mention of a Green Knight and a beheading, Merlin is silent for a few moments. "Ah, yes." He says finally. "The Green Knight." He nods solemnly. "'Twas a test. Gawain was the one who stood up to the challenge. Brave was he. And yes, he did his duty. Although, he learned who the test was set by, which came as a surprise to us all."

The continued talk about Monty Python and the Holy Grail has Barbara battling between bemusement and amusement. She shakes her head slowly, and offers with some self-deprecation, "It's alright. They used to have a chain of burger places called Bat Burger. Pretty sure that Batman understands the woes of poor advertising for entertainment purposes." Only when they settle back onto the topic of Gawain does she relax her shoulders a bit more, sinking back into the cushions of her inclined bed. Her brows slightly arch a bit. "Who… set the test?" She doesn't remember that part of the story.

"At least Bat Burger's just greasy. I've got fuckin' bottle openers that break after a half dozen uses." Looking to Babs, Frank squeezes her fingers, adding, "Mine's still fine." He shakes his head at Merlin, "Yeah. I'm not gonna be able to get my head 'round someone livin' a thousand years. Hell, I still don't get this magic shit. But hell, I'll still do what I gotta." His fingers squeeze Barbara's hand once more, but as she relaxes, he does a little himself, letting out a little breath, "Yeah. I don't remember all that."

"A burger made of bat? How unusual. Although, I suppose not so much. I've travelled far and wide and have eaten many different dishes. Why should bat be any different?" Although that's not really what their discussion is about. "As far as the test, it was set upon Knights of the Round Table by none other than Arthur's own sister, Morgan le Fay." Merlin explains. "She was…is…was always a sneaky one, that Morgan. Strong and powerful, and sneaky."

He chuckles slightly at Frank's words. "If a difficult time with my age you're having, you wouldn't want to discuss my lineage. That gets even more baffling to some."

Babs spares Merlin more explanation around the Bat Burger phenomena. Instead, she lets out a slow breath as her eyes start to slowly close. She listens to Frank and Merlin — but mostly Merlin — as he tells the story's end. "Morgan le Fay…" Her eyes slowly open when she latches onto a word — the slightest shift of tense — "Morgan le Fay is still alive?" She furrows up her brows. "Yikes." Then she gives Frank's hand another squeeze. "I should get some rest. The doctor's are going to be coming in for a check-up in a few hours." Now she looks to Merlin, and her smile softens. "Thank you, Sir Merlin."

It's rare lately that Frank Castle gets to laugh, but he actually chuckles at Merlin's question. "Yeah, no. There ain't enough meat on a bat." His eyes flicker over to Babs, and his grin quirks up at one corner, boyish and mischievous for just a moment. "I'm just givin' you shit. Regular burgers, just took the name 'cause of Batman and all the other Bats." He frowns slightly at Babs's reaction, then looks back to Merlin, "Tricky enough that you don't know if she's alive. And I'm rememberin' some of all that Mort of Arthur stuff, and I'm pretty sure I don't wanna know about your family, sorry." He return's Barbara's squeeze as she begs off, and he hauls himself to his own feet, offering out his hand to Merlin, "Thanks. You need anythin', you let me know. I'll… shit, I guess I'll use the paper if I find out anythin' to follow up on or get my hands on the casing or the bullet."

"Oh…a joke about bats….ha!" Merlin smiles, a little twinkle in his eye. He may not get the joke, not really, but if it helps lighten the mood of those who need a bit of mood lightening, who is he to break down the joke further. "Every so often a person enters my life that I learn to never be surprised by. I've learned to never be surprised by Morgan Le Fay. I don't know if she's alive or dead. I've known her to be both and neither." Standing from his chair, he gives Frank a nod as he shakes the man's hand. "I'll do some searching of my own, as well, of the site of the incident. Hopefully we can find the perpetrator of this incident sooner rather than later. And yes, anytime you wish to speak with me, just contact me by that paper."

Walking over to Barbara's side, Merlin places a hand on her shoulder and smiles kindly. "Trouble not your mind with worries of days past nor of days to come. Whatever was, is. Whatever shall be shall come to pass. What is most important is to focus on the here and now, one breath, one moment at a time." He closes his eyes and mutters some words. Any additional pain dulls for a little while. "If you need me," he says, holding up a piece of paper similar to Frank's, "call on me." He places it gently in one of her hands. "Until we meet again."

The flickered look from Frank is met with a light glare that then softens into something a bit warmer and gentler as she looks toward Merlin. Frank explains, so she spares the wizard further explanation. She has other things to focus on, despite the sleep tugging at her brain. "Frank has a piece of paper that summons wizards?" She squints a look at the Punisher before she rests her head back into the pillows behind her again. She starts to smile a bit wearily for Merlin even as more pain drains from her, and it is enough to make her eyes closed. With another breath, she drifts to sleep just as she murmurs, "Thank you." Her hand closes around the card very slowly, but carefully.

Then, she's asleep.

Frank in fact looks around for said wizard-summoning paper, finding it on the floor where he dropped it after it… well… summoned a wizard. Look, he wasn't sure what to expect. Picking it up, he nods and shoves it back in his pocket, "Y'know, you should get a cellphone. Seriously easier if you just wanna talk." He watches the wizard heal the vigilante a little further, nodding his thanks and then giving Merlin a little flick of a two-fingered salute before dropping back into the seat at Babs's bedside.

"Not wizards plural, young one. Just a single wizard." Merlin smiles kindly and gently pats Barbara on the shoulder. "You're welcome." He whispers. Looking over at Frank, he tilts his head. "Easier for whom? Easier does not always mean better or more worthwhile." He taps the side of his nose a couple times as if saying, 'You know what I'm saying. You get it.'

Beside the old wizard, his staff appears once more, and he grabs hold of it. "Call upon me again soon. We have work to do. Until then, I bid you adieu." He turns toward the door to the room and as he takes a step toward it, he disappears, as if he was never there to begin with, except for the papers, and perhaps the tiniest wisp of a foresty scent.

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