The Court of King Arthur
Roleplaying Log: The Court of King Arthur
IC Details

Merlin and Frank travel back to King Arthur's time in hopes of recovering Merlin's staff.

Other Characters Referenced: Barbara Gordon, Morgan Le Faye
IC Date: December 27, 2019
IC Location: Wales, England
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 12 Feb 2020 04:57
Rating & Warnings: PG-13
Scene Soundtrack: [*\# None]
NPC & GM Credits: Barbara Gordon as GM
Associated Plots

Time and space are difficult things to travel. To Frank and Merlin, it all passes in flashes—some familiar, some unfamiliar. For a heartbeat, Frank can almost smell a scent of Maria's homemade lasagna, or hear the soft laughter of Lisa when she was a young child. Then there is the roar of an old car's engine. Then everything becomes stark and unfamiliar as time slips past them at lightning speed.

Wars scream around them, so do times of peace. Images flash by so fast that neither can fully recognize them save for the smallest details—airplane propellers, the interiors of enormous fires, hooves beating through patches of grass and wildflowers, the interior of lightning storms.

After what feels like both a minute and eternity at the same time, the flickering images and bombardment of their senses starts to slow and focus. They pass through stone walls, along empty corridors that seem to be aging backwards from ruins to newer stone. There's a flash of a staff in Merlin's vision, but the moment he reaches for it, he is slammed full force by a blast of magic and sends both him and Frank careening out of the vortex of space and time.

They tumble across a grassy field with the heat of summer beating down on them. There is the sound of birdsong in the trees surrounding the field and the scent of flowers that polkadot the green grasses.

Frank finds himself stripped down to just his shirt and pants—no weapons, vest, or boots. Anything of modern technology has been lost to the vortex; even the polyester tags on his clothing and zipper and button on his jeans has been torn at the seams leaving him in just his cotton textiles. Merlin has been undressed of all his modern things—his sword has been spared.

Before he gets a chance to ask, 'What does she mean, to remember it's John's trinket?' Merlin finds himself and Frank being torn not only through space, as was expected, but through time itself. So much passes by. Some scenes familiar, some not so much. Everything vaguely…vague. None of this was expected in the least. It was all so sudden. Though, magic can often be that way. It can be disorienting, magic like this. If one isn't careful, it can be easy to loose one's bearings.

The building made of stone almost seems familiar…almost. And then when he sees his staff, could it really be that easy? When the he's slammed by the magical blast, he can only cringe and chastise himself. How could he be so foolish? He's no magical apprentice. He's had centuries upon centuries, errors upon errors made, to base experience on to know better than what he did. However, hope still got the better of him, and he still did what logic dictated he would be best to avoid.

Once they've been placed in the location and time the device meant to send them, he looks around. "Curious." He murmurs, taking a deep breath in. Glancing at the magical item that brought them here, he knows he can't have just laying about somewhere. He swiftly conjures a satchel, the strap resting on one shoulder, the actual satchel resting near the hip opposite the side the sword rests on. He slips the fob inside, utters a spell to keep it closed, and then properly looks around.

"Curiouser and curiouser." He sniffs the air and sticks his tongue out, as if taking a taste of something. As he does this, he catches sight of Frank, he frowns. His tongue sticks back in his mouth and he tilts his head. "Well then…"

The flashes of the past hit Frank hard, and when they reach their destination — or at least the endpoint of their journey — he staggers down to one knee, pressing his fist into the ground to brace him. His breath is ragged, and his eyes squeezed closed. Letting out a sharp breath, he looks up, blinking his eyes against the sting of tears. "Fucking hell." It's only then that he notices that he's wearing just his pants and shirt, without any of the gear he so laboriously gathered up. His hand goes to his chest, and finds… nothing. "God damn motherfucking worthless fucking sorcerer." There's real anger in his voice, and he pushes to his feet, "Where in the hell are we, Bathrobe? And where in the hell is my stuff?" Again, his hand presses not to his missing vest or weapons, but to his collarbone, where he once carried a chain with very important tokens on it.

"Come, stand." Merlin places one hand on Frank's shoulder, his other reaching out to offer to grasp one of Frank's hands, so as to help the man stand. "We are…" He takes a moment to think. "Well, we're in what you'd call the United Kingdom. Britain, most likely. Though I suspect the locals would call it something slightly different. Perhaps Britannia…or likely Albion." He sticks his tongue out again. "I believe we've gone back in time." He informs his travel companion. "I suspect that this Constantine fellow…that the magic in his device was meant to deal detect fluctuations in the timeline and prevent anything terribly modern from being brought into the past. None of your guns or anything that could be considered beyond this time's level of development. I can only conjecture that when we return back to our time, your items shall be returned to you." He frowns. "In the meantime, would you care for a weapon more appropriate to this time? I can conjure you a sword."

Glancing down over himself, Frank takes account beyond the immediate loss of the tokens of his past, present, and future. His hand drops back to his side, right index finger twitching just a moment, "Fuckin' Britain? And back in time? Someone took your staff back in time? This is why people hate magic." 'People' don't hate magic, he hates magic. But there's an offer there, and he stops his griping for a moment to take a step, then look down at his zipper-less jeans, "Jesus Christ." Shaking his head, he grunts, "Pretty sure some pants that aren't about to fall down are more important than a sword I don't know how t'use." This is what he gets for having a webbing belt instead of something simple in leather and steel. Relenting a little from his high-caliber griping, he presses the knuckles of one hand into the palms of the other, looking around with a quick, darting glance, "Let's worry 'bout your staff. I need a weapon against someone, I'll just fuckin' take it from 'em."

Nodding, the old wizard seems interested that they're in Britain in the past. "It's curious, isn't it? Why take my staff in the first place? Perhaps its power. There are multiple reasons, really. But why bring it back in time? The item in question, our location, and our appearance back in time suggest very few people who might have done this." Looking around, with a few more 'taste tests' of the air, Merlin points. "We'll want to go this way." One more glance around has him nodding. "Yes. This way, most definitely. This area is familiar." Though one could argue that most of the British Isles are familiar to him. "I've spent much time in this area, if I'm not mistaken. I feel we may be able to find you suitable clothing nearby as well." If the air, and his memory, serve him well, there should be a farm nearby. And those who operate said farm are of the friendly sort. That's assuming his memory is in tact.

"Glad you know where you are. I'm all turned the fuck around and worried that I'm gonna lose my pants at any moment." Frank grabs at the waist of his pants with his left hand, "You gonna be able to get us back?" He can replace the gear — his eyes tighten with the realization that he can replace most of the gear — but he has anchors in the present, anchors he doesn't want to be adrift without. The decision on the direction gets a nod, as he starts looking over the angle and direction of the sun, moss on trees, all that usual stuff to determine which way is north. "So someone back here took your staff. Or someone put your staff back here to get you here." He's starting to recover his wits, which means he's figuring the angles, "At least we didn't get Terminator'd." He pauses a moment, and then realizes that he's going to have to explain that, "Time travel movie. People arrive naked."

Merlin starts to take Frank toward the treeline that spans for at least a hundred feet with brightness beaming on the other side. The woods are silent, and peaceful. The air here is richer without the pollutants of the modern day, and the sunlight seems brighter in this summer afternoon. It must have rained the day before based on the wetness of the ground beneath their feet. There's a chitter of a chipmunk in the trees that is responded by the soft birdsong that is undisturbed by the pair.

As they come out of the trees, they arrive on a road. It leads in a winding quality to the south and northeast and just a long walk down a short, grassy hill is the simple stone structure of a farmhouse. Sheep lazily graze in the meadow, and a figure stands watch over them from a standing stone in the middle of the grass.

Merlin holds out his hand as a rope appears in it. "Here. Take this and put it through the loops of your pants. Use it as a belt." He explains. "It should be long enough to tie in the front and keep your pants from falling. At least, long enough until we can find you some clothing appropriate to the time we've found ourselves in." He sniffs the air as they walk. "Yes, the object should take us back to our time." He pats the satchel he now wears, where he is keeping the magical object out of sight. "For some reason it was important to bring my staff back to this time and place. Whenever this is." He has some ideas, but not a precise date as yet. "Whenever we are, this might be an important turning point in the timeline. Something important may happen around now that, if changed, could change the course of the future as we know it." He murmurs. "As such, it is exeptionally lucky we did not get…'Terminator'd', as you put it."

"Over yonder." He points, once their upon the road. "Toward the farm." Yes, this is where they need to go. It feels right, somehow. "Perhaps the sheepherder can be of assistance to us." He again starts to lead the way.

Frank looks at the magicked-up rope like it might be a snake, but as his jeans threaten to fall about his hips again, he gives a sign and takes it, threading it through his belt-loops and then cinching it around his waist with a tight knot. "Thanks. That's handy as fuck, by the way." As they start through the forest, Frank's voice lowers and his head turns this way and that, a predator in an unfamiliar place, on watch for local threats. "I ain't gonna have to talk all thees and thous and shit, am I? I can barely follow that shit in movies." A pause, "And if we run into anyone named Bercilak, I ain't doin' shit with his wife." Apparently he re-read The Green Knight after the discussion in the hospital room. The suggestion to talk to the sheepherder gets a nod, "I'll follow your lead, man. I'm just the backup on this one."

The wizard raises an eyebrow at the hushed voice. "Worried the squirrel might attack?" Granted, he doesn't mention he bands of thieves that sometimes hide in forests. Why bother being unduly worried? "Regarding the words…well, it depends. We may encounter their usage. Thou, thee, thy, thine. They are all variants of indicating person. They essentially mean 'you'. If you need translations…we can always pretend you're Pictish. Although," he looks Frank over. "No. Not quite believable as Pictish. French. We could pass you off as French, worst case." He grins. He turns back to watch their approach of the farm and the person standing watch of the sheep.

"I don't know if there are bandits or merry men or shit around in the woods here," Frank grumps, and then shakes his head at the language lesson and then the suggestion that he might be French. "Really?" A hint of laughter touches his lips for all his worry, "How 'bout Italian? At least that'd be closer. You guys know Italians, right?" That would be Romans, Visigoths, or Lombards depending on when they've actually landed. But he lets that go with a shake of his head, and as they approach the shepherd, he spreads his hands at his sides, showing that he isn't carrying any weapons at the same time that he studies the local, searching out any weapons the other might be carrying.

As the pair start down the grassy hill toward the shepherd, she lifts her head. Her skin is dark from the sun, and she wears a broad-brimmed hat to guard her eyes from the brightness of the day. When she spots Merlin, her eyes brighten into a sudden delight. "Master Merlin!" The young woman picks up her shepherd crook, and starts toward him with quick, cheerful strides. As she gets closer, it becomes clearer that she is perhaps in her late teens or early twenties, and it might take Merlin a few moments to recognize Lanwenn, even if she had just been a child last he may remember her. She doesn't go for the hug, but stands close enough to offer out her hand to him in a more companionable, but not intimate greeting. "Why have you come?" She hesitates. "Were we supposed to expect you?" Her dark eyes skim over to Frank, and she purses her lips a bit. "Were you… are you both alright?" Something about Frank's appearance perhaps sets Lanwenn off as strange. Might be his lack of shoes—

"Ah…I…" Merlin takes in the young woman, looking her over. Obviously she knows who he is. She does seem ever so familiar to him. "Lanwenn!" It takes a moment or two, but he recognizes her in the end. He offer his hand, grasping her forearm in a form of greeting, as has become common these days. "It is certainly good to see you, young one." He looks about, his recognition of the region becoming clearer and clearer. "It is wonderful to see that your family's sheep still thrive." He shakes his head. "Oh, no. No. You weren't to expect me at all. My journey here this day came quite unexpectedly, I must say." He glances back at Frank. "I am fine. However, my companion's campsite was raided recently as he slept, leaving him naught but the clothes on his back. Your father wouldn't happen to have clothes he could borrow temporarily?" There's a pause and then he chuckles. "Silly me. Lanwenn, this is Francis."

Frank slows as the young shepherdess greets Merlin familiarly and enthusiastically, instead looking around for any other threats. His dark eyes turn back to the pair as Merlin glances back to him, and he shrugs a little helplessly, grunting a little sourly and noting, "Thought they were squirrels." Just for that crack from Merlin earlier. His New York accent sounds strange in the clean, crisp rural air. Merlin calls him Francis, and he has to freeze his features in place, keeping something approaching a tight-lipped smile plastered onto his face despite the urge to turn it into a violent scowl. "My friends call me Frank."

Lanwenn starts to smile a glowing smile that makes her look younger. "We had a good lambing in the winter, and now are waiting to see how many will get taken to market." It's an easy conversation between a girl and wizard, the former having no idea just how far Merlin and his friend has traveled to be here. She turns when Merlin introduces Frank, and she looks over him and his clothes. She frowns with some puzzlement. "Raided?" She turns back to Merlin, looking a bit more worried. "Close?" The concern there is evident—is her family in danger? She takes a step back, and then two, gesturing for the pair to follow her. When Frank offers up his name, she bobs her head. "Pleasure to meet you, Master Frank." She looks to Merlin. "I'll check in Da's things. He left this morning for Camelot."

"Oh Frank." There's a twinkle in the old wizard's eye as he glances over at the man at his side. "And as frank and upright as you'd hope a man to be, too." As they walk, Merlin listens intently. "It fills me with joy to hear of such a successful birthing of lambs over the winter. I can think of no better family for good tidings to come upon. You and your kin have always been kind." He glances back at Frank and then shakes his head to the girl's question. "The raiders weren't terribly close, but it does no harm to be on the lookout." He explains. "If you'd like me to assist in putting out some wards, it would be the least I could do for your kindness." He says with a little bow of the head. "He's off to Camelot, your father?" That piques his interest. "Did he happen to inform you as to what business was taking him there?"

Frank shrugs a little helplessly when Lanwenn asks about his new cover story, "The asshole who did this to me ain't gonna hurt you, Miss." He snorts at Merlin's description of him, but shrugs a little uncomfortably, perhaps accepting it and perhaps even appreciating it. "John took an asslong time doin' wards. Least I'm pretty sure he did. We got time to do that?" Giving a little shrug to Lanwenn, he adds, "No offense, Miss. We appreciate the help." He glances over to Merlin, pauses, and then gives a heavy sigh, "We're on a quest." He sounds like he hates even saying it.

Frank's words cause the girl to frown, but she nods all the same. "Well, thank you then, sir… for helping both my family and Master Merlin keep us safe." Then, Lanwenn is beaming at Merlin, and she reaches out to squeeze his arm. "We will take whatever you will offer us." Then her brow starts to furrow at Merlin. "Well, of course, Master Merlin… the King is getting married today. Everyone has been arriving for the last fortnight." Now she frowns, worry creasing her brows. Very kindly, but also warily, she asks, "You did not forget, did you?"

Now, Lanwenn opens the door to her dwelling and inside is the customary room of the farmhouse. It is large, but also contains the sleeping arrangements for the children of the house. She holds the door open for the pair so she can enter, and then seek to find Frank some clothes. "Make yourself comfortable. There's some stew on the fire."

Leaning in to whisper to Frank, Merlin says, "It may be wise to…consider vocabulary in the future. Normally I would not deign to censor one's speech, but there is a time and place for it all. A pub or among mercenaries, for instance, may be a wiser place to use such…jargon." Swear words, but Merlin's trying to be polite. As Lanwenn speaks to him again, he brightens and smiles. "It it always my pleasure to assist yourself and your family. You are kind people. Kindness deserves kindness in return." At the revelation of the king's wedding, he brings his palm up to his forehead and shakes his head. "Of course! In all the excitement of help my friend, here, it merely slipped my mind for a moment. But of course, King Arthur is marrying Guinevere this day!"

As they enter the home, he nods to Lanwenn. "Thank you, Lanwenn. That is very kind." He glances to Frank, realizing they ate not too long ago…or rather many, many centuries in the future ago. When Lanwenn is gone looking for the clothes, he speaks again. "It might not hurt to eat a little, to keep our energy up. We have no cars like in your era, nor have we any horses. Plus, we may not know when exactly we'll eat again." He tilts his head. "I can use my magic to get us to the castle. It may be a good place to start to look for my staff."

Frank looks over at Merlin's warning a little warily, "That might be the politest I've ever been told to knock off the cursin'." The mention of the wedding draws Frank's brows up, and he grunts thoughtfully, "King Arthur's weddin'. That's a big — " he bites back a 'damn' " — deal." He glances over to the pot of stew, sizing it up for a moment and then nodding, "Thank you, Miss." When she's gone, he looks back to Merlin, "One'a the rules of the Corps is you don't pass up a good chance to fill your belly…" but he looks around the dwelling, particularly on the little bedrolls for the children, "But they got a lot less'n me. I don't gotta take what they got. And I ain't no stranger to the heel-an'-toe express. Even these days, we walk our asses off in-country."

Lanwenn is gone for a few more minutes while the two consider their next steps. When she comes back out, she has a change of clothes for Frank. They are, well, perhaps not his idea — cotton pants, an equally cotton shirt, and a low pair of boots that lack much in the way of comfortable soles. She gives them over to Frank with a bold, warm smile. Then she looks back to the pair. "I should get back to the sheep. But, please… stay, eat." She reaches to squeeze Merlin's arm before she starts to depart for the door again, leaving the Frank to dress and Merlin to convince him to teleport to the castle. She calls over her shoulder to them, "You shouldn't be late, Master Merlin!"

For the wedding, of course.

"I mean no offense. I apologize. However, it does well to tread carefully. Especially when using one's language. Normally, I could not care less about the words chosen by another." When the young sheepherder returns, Merlin bows to her. "Many thanks. Your generosity knows no bounds. Be well, young Lanwenn. May our paths one day cross again." Once the girl has departed, the wizard summons up four rocks, a piece of paper, and a quill with in. He places a stone on each corner of the paper and write a note that says,

'Thank you for your generosity. Take these rocks and bury one at each corner of your property. Once completed, no person or animal meaning you harm shall be able to pass onto your property. Sincerely, Merlin'

The quill disappears and he holds his hand over each rock, muttering a phrase. Once done, he looks to Frank, who should be done changing, or at least close. "While we're not too far from Camelot by foot, it would certainly get us there quicker by me transporting us. It can't be a coincidence that we were brought back to the exact same day that Arthur got married."

Frank shrugs off the apology from Merlin, "Hey, your place, your time." He takes the clothes from Lanwenn when she returns, nodding his thanks and then speaking it as well, "Thanks, Miss. Be safe." Not far off from Merlin's own benediction. He waits a moment after she's gone, then starts stripping off his clothes, apparently not caring that the wizard is present. Of course, considering that Merlin is casting a spell, he probably has some cover anyhow. It doesn't take long to pull the clothes on, and he looks down at the pants, kicking out his feet to check the fall of the linen. He scowls, then shrugs, "Could be a hell of a lot worse." The boots are less fun, not providing nearly the support that he's used to — and they're about half a size too small, his toes stretching the material. He grunts in annoyance and some discomfort, then looks up at Merlin, sighing as he does, "Yeah. Sure. Fine. Magic away. I mean, the last time we just ended up back in a…" he swallows another curse, "…castle." Not quite, of course. "But that was John's f — screw-up, not yours. Okay, let's do it."

"This John fellow sounds like a curious person. I'd very much like to meet him someday, screw-ups and all." Perhaps it's due to Merlin being a sorcerer as well, giving him a bit more patience with those who are magically inclined. Or perhaps it's that he hasn't dealt with the screw-ups quite as much as others have. "Now, we shall be travelling to a castle this time as well. However, I shall be taking us to said castle on purpose." Suddenly he frowns. "I just realized, current me shall be there as well. This certainly puts a frumple in our pumpkins, doesn't it?" He sighs. "We may need to use a bit more discretion than I'd initially hoped." He shakes his head. "It shouldn't matter, however. I know these lands, and the castle, better than anyone…well, almost anyone." Taking a couple steps toward Frank, he holds out his hand. "Shall we?" As soon as their hands connect, they'll suddenly be launched elsewhere, appearing in a rather dark and gloomy stone passageway. He looks around and nods. "Perfect. We're near some storage."

"He ghosted Red." There's an odd mix of emotions behind the words, anger, annoyance, relief. "He's her ex. Twice, apparently." Which probably explains some of the emotions. Or all of them. Frank snorts his amusement at Merlin's clarification, nodding his head, but the frown causes him to frown in turn, "That gonna cause some, I don't know, Back to the Future problem or somethin'? History gonna end if you meet yourself? Or does even young-you know all about time travel magic and is just gonna handle it? Or, I guess you don't remember runnin' into you before, so you must not've?" He reaches out to clasp Merlin's hand like he's going to shake it, and then the world changes around him, and he grunts, rubbing a hand across his mouth and looking around. "Storage. Not like an armory, right? But you figure we might need somethin' from in there? Or just outta the way?"

"Ghosted? He was a ghost? …That can't be right." Merlin seems more confused than ever, apparently unaccustomed to modern uses of the phrase as it pertains to relationships. "That there were once together but now are apart…well, that could take its toll on anyone, I suppose." But now…they have other problems to deal with. "Back to the Future? We'll be going back to the future at some point, but I don't see how that pertains to what we're doing now. That's an issue for after finding my staff." He sighs. Young people, will they ever learn? "This me…this past me…is aware of time travel magic. Even he is wary of it, although less so than I am now. I've grown a healthy appreciation for time travel. Had I known we'd have been brought back in time, especially to my own past, I would have thought twice about it, even possibly have given it a score of days before deciding what to do." He glances at Frank with a raised eyebrow. "Just because I have no memories about meeting future me now doesn't mean we won't meet past me. By all this happening, we could have created a whole new timeline, which is why we must tread carefully. But, then again," he bobs his head from side to side, "if this were an event predestined to happen? That means that it has already happened, and that it was always happen. In that case, whatever we do is what we were always meant to do." He sighs gruffly and rubs his forehead. "Time travel. It always complicates matters."

Once in their new location, Merlin shakes his head at the question. "I just wanted us out of the way. Most of what is needed for the wedding will have already been brought from down here." He explains. "And if we're discovered, I can easily explain our presence as that of me requiring some extra food or extra chairs or…something. They'd not question my reasons for wanting to ensure this wedding goes off without issue." He nods toward the end of the hallway. "Follow me."

Merlin remembers the castle of Camelot well. The armory is quiet on this day, but there are numerous weapons being held along the wall and several wooden dummies sport sets of chainmail in varying sizes. There's also some more elaborate armor sets with helmets and shields. The heavy wooden door is closed, but still fire burns in carefully contained wall sconces — no one should fumble around in the dark if an emergency arises.

Outside, in the hallway, it is mostly quiet. There is a straight shot down the hallway where people are processioning past; some are knights in full armor, others in fine dresses and clothes. They are talking to each other and not at all paying attention to the hallway that Merlin and Frank find themselves in. To the left a couple doors down come the fragrant scent of the laundry room. Out of the laundry room comes a tall woman with a basket, and she glances at the pair in a passing look, then stops, blinks and looks back. "Master Merlin? I thought you had gone to the great hall by now."

"Ghosted. Means left without sayin' anythin'." Frank is definitely not used to being the hip member of a pair. He groans and rubs at his face, then drops his hand, "An' Back to the Future's a movie." His hand comes back up, however, at the mention of timelines and predestiny, and this time he massages his temples, "Shit, are you kiddin' me? I don't even wanna try to work through all that, but I can tell you somethin', there ain't some destiny tellin' me what to do. I decide. I make the choice, I take the heat." He follows Merlin out as he's bid, his eyes widening a little as he looks down the hallway and sees the people moving about in armor and Ren Faire clothes. "Jesus," he mutters to himself, then shakes his head and clams up, looking back behind them as the laundress stops them with the question.

"Left without saying anything? That's just rude! Though I don't see how that has to do with ghosts." Merlin raises an eyebrow. "And a movie? OH! Is it that movie that involves the man who creates a time machine and ends up stuck in the future? You know…based on that book? Oh, who was it written by? …H. G. Wells?" If there's one thing Merlin is not, it's the hip member of the group. Never has been, even in Arthur's court. He was the one people went to for advice, certainly, and he had a position of prestige, but he was still different. "I've found, funnily enough, that while some things can be changed, others are set in stone. But one never knows which is which, unless one has a glimpse of the future." He then tilts his head and raises an eyebrow in curiosity. "What about Jesus? We're not quite far back enough to meet him. Not to mention we're in the completely wrong part of the planet to meet him as well."

"Hmm?" There comes another voice calling out to him. "What's that, young one?" When in doubt, he finds calling someone 'young one' always a good bet. "Oh, yes. Quite right you are. And that is exactly where I'm headed now. This day, after all, must go without a hitch for the king and his bride to be. I doubt either would forgive my absence, eh?" He chuckles. "Off with you now." He says in a good natured tone. "I'm sure your duties won't finish themselves and they are equally as important."

He sighs. "It would seem this day keeps pointing us toward the wedding ceremony." He furrows his brow. "I am go into cast a spell that will change my appearance. Don't worry. I'll then cast a spell that shall permit you to see past the change, so you still see me for who I am." For a moment it sounds like he's muttering in Latin when suddenly, as promised, he appears different. He appears to be closer to his 50s, and his beard is trimmed. His face, too, gives the look of someone slightly different. He quickly waves his hand in front of Frank's eyes, causing his looks to go back to normal. Well, at least for Frank. Not for everyone else.

The laundress frowns with some bemusement, but Merlin's firm encouragement is enough to get her moving along. She nods soberly. "Yes, without a hitch." Then she turns to walk away with her load, but her gaze still shifts back toward Merlin and Frank, particularly the latter curiously.

As the two prepare to head down the hallway, Merlin would get this strange tingle at the base of his spine. He can almost sense her — a presence that was not at Arthur's nuptials last time. It takes him just a moment to recognize it — Morgan Le Fay is here. It draws him opposite of where the people are heading, toward the front hall.

Frank stares at Merlin for a long moment, then shakes his head, "We get back, I'm givin' you a list of books an' movies." That should be interesting. He grimaces at the mention of continuing on toward the wedding ceremony, his hand going up to his collarbone again, touching… nothing but linen and skin. The chain isn't there anymore. The laundress's sober comment draws a wry snort of amusement, and he adds in, "'cept the one where the king gets hitched." He steps on from the chance meeting, his frown returning and deepening at Merlin's plan. He nods, "I can track the change, man. I don't know how this shit works, if you've only got so many spells in your magazine…" he stops, translating from psuedo-Marine to 'person who doesn't know the 20th century, let alone the 21st,' "If you've got a limited number'a spells you can do, only so much power, whatever. If you got that, take it easy. There's other ways we can do this."

Merlin takes a deep breath in and stops them, holding up his hand and looking around. "You make a valid point." He says softly, a shimmer of light surrounds him, and he returns to looking like his regular self to everyone. "This can't be. This isn't how it was last time. The past is being changed. What has she planned?" He sounds a million miles away. Facing Frank, he places a hand on Frank's shoulder and says the words, "Rydych chi'n cael eich amddiffyn!" A tingling feeling will come across Frank. "This should protect you from most physical and magical attacks." He pauses for a moment. "Well, at least for a short while."

He turns and starts walking opposite the direction they had been heading. "This way. Follow me. Quickly now!" It seems he has no time to loose.

When Merlin starts to sound distracted, Frank frowns, half-turning so that he can watch the hallway behind the sorcerer rather than duplicating their alertness. He shivers at the tingling, grimacing a little but nodding at the explanation, "We hit regular guys, I'll go right up the center, take the heat for you. We hit someone doin' magic, I'll sneak 'round the side an' drop 'em." He doesn't delay, however, starting forward alongside Merlin, his steps quick, his shoulders squared, looking like he might walk through a stone wall if it doesn't get out of his way.

That tingle—that little itch—leads Merlin against a sea of people all trying to pass their way toward the great hall. Several try to talk to the wizard as he goes past, welcoming him, or trying to engage in a quick note of conversation. The pull draws Merlin down the hall, and then to a flight of stone stairs that, in his memory, would take him to a mezzanine that would look over the hall below. Like following a trail with a bloodhound's nose, it beckons him up.

As Frank follows Merlin, he receives several glances. A redhead — almost familiar in a long gown of rose silk and blue accents, with a long nose and familiar eyes — look at him with a lingering look. She smiles at him, but the pair of women she gaggles with sweeps her down the hallway even while she smiles over her shoulder to him.

"If my senses are indeed correct here," The old sorcerer says, "we are dealing with Morgan Le Fay. She is a powerful sorceress. One of the most powerful of all time. We would do well to tread carefully here. Our steps must be placed with intent and care and careful precision. Nothing else shall do." Perhaps for the first time since Frank has met him, there is actual concern and worry in Merlin's voice. Even upon learning he lost his staff, he wasn't this concerned.

"Greetings. Yes. Good to see you. Thank you. Kind words. Verily. Is that so? Sorry, very busy. It's almost time, of course. No, no, pardon me. Why you sly so and so! Pardon me!" And so it goes as Merlin moves them through the crowds of people, briefly speaking to people while still moving them along at a steady pace.

"What would she be doing on the mezzanine?" He finally ponders as he realizes where they're going. While he notices the redhead, he doesn't register her familiar appearance quite yet. Not in the same way that Frank might recognize it.

Frank is half listening to Merlin, half eyeing the crowd, looking for anything out of place. But everything is out of place for him, and his scowl starts to deepen — only to catch the gaze of the redhead. The scowl is washed away, and he stops for a second, two, watching her depart, and then shakes his head slightly, trying to get back in the game. A couple of quick steps bring him back to Merlin's side, and he grunts, "So she'll either try to wipe me out first, and give you a shot at her while she's distracted, or she'll put all her attention on you, and I'll deal with her." He knows he out of his depth, but he's still got a plan. Looking over his shoulder, he grimaces, but the redhead is out of sight, and he murmurs to himself, "Could've sworn…" And then he blinks and looks upward, "Mezzanine? You see her?"

Wizard, a voice murmurs, disembodied. Across time and space… fascinating. And you've brought yourself a mortal pet. Even more fascinating.

Morgan le Fay's voice is soft, almost sensual in its casual delivery. Up the stairs, the mezzanine is dark despite the cheerful lights that brighten the stairwell.

The red headed girl finally gets the wizards attention. Before they disappear from each other's sight, he tilt's his head and takes in her appearance. Merlin can't help but chuckle and smile, especially when he sees Frank's reaction her. "I probably could have made introductions, if we'd had time. No doubt she's an ancestor of Barbara's." He explains. "Hence not only the red hair, but the similarity in looks overall." He sighs a soft sigh. "Ancestry is strong. One's appearance can often be shared across many, many generations, believe it or not."

He then shakes his head at Frank's question. "Haven't seen her yet…but that's where…"

And then he stops all together. "She's near." He whispers. "And she knows…about you." Not that he's surprised. He closes his mind and extends his thoughts out to her, wherever (whenever?) she is.

Sorceress. It has been a long time. Or perhaps, not so long. Time is a tricky thing like that. I could say it was just as fascinating. Did you come to the future to steal from me? Or are you from my present, only to return here to change the future? You were always a voice of opposition to Arthur being on the throne.

He frowns and starts to slowly finalize their ascent, motioning for Frank to come with him.

The mortal is a good man, like Arthur. And like Arthur, he does not deserve whatever you may have planned.

Frank looks back to Merlin, shaking his head. His features harden, a scowl driving itself into his brows, "Maybe. Doesn't change the mission." Just makes him homesick already. He walls off that little part of him, however, his right index finger twitching slightly as he listens to the report. "That's fine. I'll draw her fire," Maybe literal in this case. "An' you can take her out." His entirely-too-light boots are at least quiet on the stairs, "Guess I shoulda taken you up on the offer for a blade. Next time." Because he's not going to ask Merlin to make him one now, not if the wizard is going to need his magical abilities to fight someone as dangerous as the woman sounds. As they ascend, his eyes flicker about, searching for some sign of the enchantress in the darkness — either in front of them, or across the mezzanine on the other side of the room.

Quite a long time, dear Wizard. The voice has a sly note to it that turns into something impatient. Imagine what chaos I can wrought if I kill a king with is faithful Wizard's own staff. Imagine how history will change if shatter the Round Table on the very day it is gifted to your precious boy.

They finalize their ascent, and they step foot onto the mezzanine. Here, lesser nobles and knights look down into the great hall as the cheers go up, all eyes fixed on the floor below. Arthur and his new bride are entering with a blare of trumpets. Across from where they stand, on the opposite side of the mezzanine, a dark-haired woman stands with her hands clasped in front of her. She starts to smile, and it shows some of her age, and sheds light on where — when — she has come. She is not as old as he is, but she abuses her magic in far different ways.

Merlin… always collecting the wayward to raise into knights. Into kings.

From behind her back, she pulls the staff she had stolen into view, setting it down with a soft thump.

"She is close." Merlin whispers, as they reach the top of the stairs. "And she means to kill the king…" Something he had feared, though he hadn't dared let cross his mind. Of course, Morgan Le Fay, in her many roles, has long lead a life of disdain for Arthur, with a desire to dethrone him and his queen. "Do be careful, Frank." There's a way he says the man's name…it's filled with worry, though there's some underlying pain, and perhaps a hint of an apology? If Merlin's wishing he came alone, it's certainly too late now. Besides, he's placed his trust in many mortals before, why should this time be any different?

Once they arrive at the top of the stairs and onto the mezzanine, Merlin points an outstretched hand, indicating the woman they've come here to confront, if it weren't already obvious to Frank.

I…we shall stop you, as has been done before, my dear once apprentice. He smiles, though it's a tired smile. Perhaps I see something in these mortals that you do not. They have a strength that pushes them to carry on when many more would fail. They shall carry on, these wayward sons, and there shall be peace when they are done.

When his staff is brought into view, he takes in a sharp breath, glancing from it to Morgan, down to Arthur and his bride, over to where the present him should be standing, to Frank, and lastly, back to Morgan and the staff.

"And because she's time-bouncin' too, she could do it," Frank gravels quietly as they reach the top of the stairs. He looks one way and the other, only for Merlin to gesture and him to spot the enchantress. The worry in the wizard's voice gets a shake of his head, "Ain't gonna happen, Bathrobe." It could be reassurance, it could be denying the warning. His eyes are intent on the woman at the far end of the mezzanine, and a growl of anger has entered his voice, "There's too many…" he barely swallows a curse, "…innocents in here. Shit," he can't swallow that one, "goes down, it's gonna get ugly. Can we get her somewhere else?" He ignores the fanfare and the cheers from below, focused on his enemy. If he could hear the mental conversation, he would be so proud of Merlin for quoting Journey.

"Pitiful," the witch finally says aloud. Morgan's smile turns into a sneer. She places the butt of the staff down on the ground before her feet, and a soft incantation slips past her lips. The wooden benches that line the mezzanine for those tired of standing start to move, shivering and shuddering beneath the seats of those guests who have settled to talk; those guests yelp and stand quickly, backing away from the benches that now rear up and reshape themselves so that they are hulking forms of wood. Two start toward Frank and Merlin while the another knocks an unwitting guest down into the great hall below.

Speaking of down below, the commotion above has caused a stir as heads start to lift only to spot what looks like strange silhouettes of attackers above. Frank's hopes to spare the wedding party below an attack appears to be for naught.

"I was afraid of this." Merlin withdraws his sword, for what good it will do on magically transformed benches. Looking at Frank, he utters, "I believe it time to put 'Frank' on the sidelines and for 'Punisher' to make an appearance, yes? Punisher and Bathrobe, at it for the people." He holds up his sword. "Do you want my sword, Punisher?" He asks, offering it to the younger man. "While you thinking on it, you may wish to consider grabbing one of the torches." As one of the wood forms knocks a man over, Merlin is quick to utter a spell that, if he's correct on the placement in his inner eye, should place something soft immediately under the person who fell, cushioning said fall. He can take care of the repercussions of him using that spell later, should there be any.

"If you grab a torch, I can conjure up a flammable material to appear over the wood. This should help us." He says as he starts to move forward, preparing himself and his stamina for the spells and battle to come.

"Please, do not do this. Just give me back the staff." He calls over to Morgan.

Frank watches the benches writhe and rise to their carved feet, his eyes widening slightly, "Fuckin' magic." The words are quiet, and he shakes his head. Merlin's suggestion causes him to shake his head slightly, "It ain't like that. I'm always both of 'em. And the sword ain't gonna help." He looks around, then nods slightly, stepping aside to wrench one of the metal torches from the walls, "Let the other you deal with anybody fallin'," he suggests, pointing the flaming brand toward their new enemies. Tightening his fingers, the Punisher squares himself up, and then gives a wordless bellow and charges forward, aiming to batter the nearest hulking construction of wood and cloth into the wall with the flaming end of the torch. "Or don't give it back," he growls. "We can always beat you 'till you stop castin' and just take it." Might as well give her a little distraction from a straight-up contest of magical power with Merlin.

Morgan's laughter cuts through the chaos of the wooden monsters. There is the Punisher with his new torch weapon. She gives the staff another little tap just as the screams start to echo up from below. "Your Knight is so poorly outfitted, Merlin. Have you no care for him? Here, let me help." The magic swirls out from the staff and Morgan's will, and suddenly Frank is being swallowed up in mail and armor plates—this all happens just as one of the wooden monsters slams into his charge, trying to knock him back even as it splitters with the black armor that is becoming part of Frank. "The story is important here, old man!" This is called to Merlin. "Think of it! The great Wizard and his Black Knight. It will make quite the tale."

There's the angry call of other Knights, but there is no scramble up the steps from the warriors. Not yet. But, the youthful face of the still young Sir Gawain lifts to spot Morgan. His eyes widen in surprise, but what might be more surprising is his cry of confusion, "Master Merlin! What is happening!"

He speaks this to Morgan le Fay, and the woman just smiles a cold smile at the real Merlin across the way. The Mistress of Disguise has struck again. She taps the staff once more against the ground, and lowers the head of the staff as fire starts to lick up its length, preparing to blast flames down into the crowds below.

Merlin's attention is pulled in multiple directions at once. As the wooden monsters move toward Frank, utters a spell to cover the any nearby wooden monster with a flammable oil like substance. "Frank…Punisher! Are you okay?" His eyes widen as the he begins to be covered with various armor. He hopes the protective spell that he placed on Frank earlier prevents the armor from causing any physical damage. He takes a deep breath in and starts pushing toward Morgan. "Of course the story is important." He stops halfway to the sorceress. "Not just here, but everywhere. Everywhen. The story is what holds the fabric of reality together." When he turns to answer Gawain, only to notice the knight's attention on Mogan instead of him, he places a hand on the nearby wall, as if intending to lean on it. He sighs, his eyes closed for just a brief moment before opening once more.

"Why am I not surprised? You were always so good at disguising yourself, pretending to be someone else. If used properly, such a skill could be used for such good things. But to use it to manipulate the word to your own will, instead of of using it to make the world a better place?" He shakes his head. Of course, he's changed himself and others, and it wasn't always for the better, but he had learned from his experiences. He only wished that Morgan had learned from hers.

"Am I to assume that they perceive me as you?"

The Punisher is knocked into the wall with a… metal clang? Sure, the armor isn't like the barely-walking immobile tank that it's often portrayed as, but it's a damned sight heavier than his usual vest. Pushing himself up to his feet again and snatching up the torch, he snarls with audible anger. "Black Knight. Hah." There's no real humor in his voice as he swings the torch in flame-rippling arcs, striking again and again at the bench-monster, "Red made me watch that Monty Python shit." Evidently, he's okay, despite the metallic disguise hiding his features and painting him in the heraldry of mystery or villainy, despite the impact with the wall. "None shall pass." And he works fight his way past the bench-monsters to put himself between the flame-licked staff and those below as best as he can in the narrow space.

"Oh no, good wizard—they don't perceive you at all." Then her teeth flash, lip pulling back to show her gums in a furious snarl. "And what of my story? I have heard it uttered a thousand times—always the villain, save for once when they elevated me to a priestess. But you, always you… the wise old man who brought peace to this country, this kingdom. For a time at least. It always falls apart, always goes to war… well, I see no point in any peace when chaos always reigns!"

Now, Morgan starts toward Merlin, opposite side of the mezzanine from Frank as the now-armored knight must deal with ferocious bench monsters. She marches with calm certainty even as every few paces she launches out her hand to send blast of telekinetic energy into the ballroom below. People are fleeing, but there is heavy footsteps on the stairs as the Knights of the Round Table make their way to the top. In just a short moment, Merlin's oldest friends will face Morgan le Fay in his face and with his staff and a Black Knight. She smiles cooly to Merlin as she arrives just a couple short steps away from him.

What's this? When he could have been made to appear as an adversary to the realm, she makes him imperceivable? At least it's something that Merlin could possibly use to his advantage. "It needn't have been that way." He responds. "You as the villainous one. You could have helped shape the kingdom, the nation, for the better. You could have helped enlighten Albion." He sighs. "But alas, you chose a different path. A path that draws chaos to it wherever, whenever, it shall go."

"Punisher, my good…black knight." He calls over to Frank. "How fare you?" He asks as reaches out his own hand, ensuring flammable liquids soak the bench monsters, in hopes that he can light them on fire.

"Are you sure this is how you wish to create chaos out of the order I established? What is your end desire? To sully my name, only to swoop in soon after as yourself as the hero you always wished to be?"

As he waits for an answer, his right hand slightly raises from his side and under his breath he starts to utter a spell. His staff will start to jiggle slightly in Morgan's grasp, as if attempting to move from her grasp on its own.

Frank slams his shoulder into one of the benchmonsters, getting space to swing the torch backhand into another. He grunts at the impact, stymied from getting between the sorceress and her targets below. "Hangin' in there, Bathrobe." He continues sweeping and striking with the torch as best as he can without guttering it out. "You want me to try an' slow the armored division? Or keep at these… whatever-the-…" he stymied by the request not to curse, "things." Slammed into the railing by a wooden limb, he recovers in time to dodge a downward blow of hardwood that cracks onto the stone railing. "She wants to play agent of chaos, I say you put her the… put her down. For good."

"The chaos is enough," the sorceress hisses through her teeth. He spurs her just as hoped, and her anger distracts her from the magic that the old wizard works.

Then, the staff flies from Morgan's hand, slapping into Merlin's palm. She screams out wordless rage, and lunges toward him.

Everything slows as Frank slams into the monstrous bench, and it catches aflame just as Morgan vanishes, just a few feet from Merlin. There is a whirlwind of magic, and Merlin and Frank are thrown out of this space by a magic that is beyond Merlin's control. The staff in his hand hums, and he would recognize it as a sentient moment between wizard and staff.

For the two, everything goes suddenly black.

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