?

Log in

No account? Create an account

the island of conclusions

Two Boys from Kansas....3/? (Merlin/ SPN crossover fic)

the island of conclusions

bright star

Two Boys from Kansas....3/? (Merlin/ SPN crossover fic)

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
nimueh
Title: Two Boys from Kansas in King Uther's Court 3/?
Rating: Gen--no pairing, just swearing
Characters: Sam, Dean, Merlin, Arthur, various characters from BBC Merlin and a few OCs
Word Count: this part ~5.5K
Warnings/Spoilers: see part 1
Disclaimer: not mine, no profit

A/N: beta'd by the unfazeable [personal profile] calamitycrow, who truly went above and beyond on this one.
A/N 2: more notes, here, with part 1
ETA: beautiful banner by ala_tariel

Summary: The title kinda says it all. And this:
“So—the body of a lion?”

Dean nodded.

“Dragon’s wings?” Another nod. “A scorpion’s tale with poisonous spikes it can fling at people?” Arthur waved the black quill at him.

“Well, the venom usually just paralyzes the victims—doesn’t kill them.”

“I don’t see how that matters, if it’s just going to eat them later. Anything else?”

“Um, it has a human face—but with really sharp teeth.”

“Well then,” said Arthur, “sounds like we’ve got an interesting hunt on our hands.”





Picture Credit by: ala_tariel


part one

part two

3.

Merlin shook Dean awake before dawn.

He blinked. He couldn’t see a thing except for Merlin’s face, its sharp angles weirdly shadowed by the dim light of a closed lantern. For a moment Dean couldn’t remember who the kid was and why he himself was lying on a hard stone floor, wrapped in a scratchy wool blanket, his head on a rough, straw-stuffed pillow. Then it all came rushing back: knights in armor, kings and princes, Sam unconscious on the throne room floor. Camelot. Or a pretty fucking lifelike facsimile thereof. At least Sam seemed to be sleeping peacefully in the cot beside him.

Dean scrubbed a hand over his face and blew out an exhausted breath. It had taken him forever to fall asleep on the cold, uneven stone. The rattle and whir of heaters or air conditioners mixed with an undercurrent of highway noise usually lulled him to sleep—but the castle had been perfectly quiet except for some small rustling noises he hadn’t wanted to think too much about. The only familiar sound had been the soft whoosh and snuffle of Sam’s breathing and he had trained his attention on that until he was finally able to drift off.

Even so, he had jerked awake, internal alarm systems firing and hands reaching for a weapon, every time a knee or elbow knocked against the unyielding surface beneath him. The first few times, he had woken Sam up too, quizzed him on his name and date of birth and waved a few fingers in front of his face. When Sam had tried to punch him on the third go-around he had figured his brother would be able to look after himself in the morning.

The only bright spot had been the discovery that the knife strapped to his ankle had survived whatever transition they had undergone in time and space. Its weight was so familiar he hadn’t even remembered to check for it after they had gotten away from Kay. It was iron, though, and he felt ten times better knowing it was under the crude pillow.

“Come on,” Merlin was whispering urgently, “the creature snatched somebody else during the night—Arthur’s mustering the men to go look for it. He’ll take you if you get a move on.”

“Huh?” It had been a struggle to get as far as where and he was nowhere near why. All the details in between were still blurred by sleep.

“Hunt? Nasty creature? Absconding with our villagers?”

Right. A jolt of adrenaline brought Dean fully awake. “Right,” he said out loud, disentangling himself from the blanket, “let’s go hunting.” He strapped the knife to his leg, pulled on his boots, and looked hopefully at Merlin.

“Coffee?”

“Pardon?”

“Coffee?”

Merlin seemed to consider his response carefully. “I am well, thank you. And yourself?” He sounded like he had been studying the words in etiquette class.

“No, no, it’s a drink, not some crazy foreign greeting,” Dean scowled. Then he sighed in resignation, vaguely remembering Sam lecturing him about his caffeine habits—telling him that coffee hadn’t even arrived in Western Europe until the seventeenth century, so there was no need to treat it like water or oxygen or something. He’d been too under-caffeinated at the time to care much what Sam saying. Now he cared. It was going to be a long day, and he sure hoped the creature was worth it.

The geek in question snored on. Dean shook his shoulder gently.

“Hey—I’m going hunting—you gonna be okay?” Dean felt a momentary qualm about splitting up.

Sam peered at him through sleep-tousled bangs. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine—go on.” He waved at him vaguely, dismissing Dean’s concern.

“Alright.” Dean frowned. “I’m leaving Dad’s journal with you. Find out some stuff, okay? And be careful.”

“Yeah—you too. Try not to go medieval on anyone’s ass.” Sam snickered sleepily at his own joke and burrowed deeper under his blanket.

Dean was following Merlin out the door when he remembered.

“Hey, Sam?”

“Mmmf?”

“When’s that eclipse supposed to be?”

“Umm…mid-day sometime I think—‘round noon—“

*************************************************
Dawn light was just beginning to filter into the courtyard when Merlin led Dean to where Arthur was standing with a small group of men and horses. The prince had on some kind of light chain mail that covered his shoulders, and both sword and shield strapped to his body. The two burly men with him—trackers, Dean guessed—wore thick leather tunics, and crossbows slung over their backs. All three wore heavy red cloaks against the chill early morning air. Dean felt acutely conscious of his own worn jeans, cotton jacket and boots. This seemed like a world where you needed a lot of protective clothing.

“Merlin,” Arthur said, “So kind of you to grace us with your presence.” Merlin ducked his head in apology. The prince gave Dean a brusque nod. “Winchester. I’m not about to give you a weapon so soon after that display in the throne room. You’ll help Merlin carry the supplies and extra weapons. You can ride, can’t you?”

Dean was pretty sure he could. He’d been able to last time he tried, anyway. Of course, that had been when Dad got rid of that dude ranch ghost in Colorado, and he’d been about fourteen. He was pretty sure it would come back to him, though. He eyed the horses. They looked bigger than normal; like they’d bulked up special to carry heavily armored knights. They, like the people, were rocking some serious gear—leather breastplates and faceguards along with their harnesses. Yeah. Pretty sure.

“Here’s what we know:” Arthur continued, “The creature, whatever it is, took one of the village cowherds before first light as he was readying the cattle for pasture. No one saw it, as usual—too dark. Just heard the screams. But there seems to be some evidence of a struggle at the edge of the paddock. So, we’ll take a look at that, then see if there’s any way to track it farther into the woods. Hard to track something that flies, of course, and the thing won’t come out again ‘til nightfall. But with any luck we’ll find its lair—trap it there before it does more damage.”

Dean looked at him. The prince seemed different in this context. Still as curtly arrogant as before, but in the fresh air of morning his terseness seemed designed to rein in his excitement rather than mask his contempt—as if he felt it would be improper to display the pure joy hunting kindled in him. Dean felt a smile tugging at the corners of his own mouth in response to Arthur’s unspoken excitement, but he quickly schooled his face into the seriousness the situation seemed to merit.

He heaved himself awkwardly onto one of the horses, uneasily feeling the giant animal breathing beneath him as Merlin passed him some heavy bags of weaponry. They set off.

********************************************************

“Well, at least there’s one clean print this time,” Arthur said, running a careful hand over the wrecked, muddy ground that signaled the beast’s landing site, “though bless me if I know what it is.”

The two trackers—named Walter and Watt, of all things—crouched next to him and peered at the large paw print deeply embedded in the soft earth near the paddock. Dean tried to get a good look at it over their shoulders.

“Looks like a giant cat,” Watt said, “heavy, too.” He gestured towards the deep gouges made by the thing’s claws—four facing forwards, one back.

“And we know something else about it,” Arthur said grimly. “It likes to eat people. Otherwise why fly away with old Nob when there were plenty of tasty cows at hand?”

Dean stepped away from them, took a deep breath, and arched his back hard enough to crack his spine. Staying on the horse hadn’t been as easy as he’d remembered, though he’d managed to avoid the embarrassment of falling off. His mount had kept making unexpected little movements that threw him off balance, tossing its head and whickering at him like it wanted to start a conversation. Give him a car any day—how could you ever relax on something that was freakin’ alive?

He scanned the grass around the edge of the paddock. The spring green practically glowed, punctuated by a few orange poppies and white daisies. Something black caught his eye, and he stooped to pick up what seemed like a long, thick, porcupine quill. He turned it over in his fingers, careful to avoid its sharp point. Porcupines weren’t native to England, were they?

A giant, flying cat with spikes. Dean tried to picture that weird combination of attributes. He searched through his extensive mental database of monsters for an image that would ring some bells, idly passing the spike from hand to hand. After a moment, he flashed on an illustration from an old book of Bobby’s about the monsters of the medieval world, and his hands froze. Shit. He had a pretty good idea of what they were after. And he didn’t like it at all.

He went over to Merlin and gingerly handed him the spike.

“Show it to Arthur, would you?”

“What do you think it is?”

“I’ve got a bad feeling,” Dean said, “that we’re dealing with a manticore.”

*******************************************************************

Arthur was grilling him.

“So—the body of a lion?”

Dean nodded.

“Dragon’s wings?” Another nod. “A scorpion’s tale with poisonous spikes it can fling at people?” Arthur waved the black quill at him.

“Well, the venom usually just paralyzes the victims—doesn’t kill them.”

“I don’t see how that matters, if it’s just going to eat them later. Anything else?”

“Um, it has a human face—but with really sharp teeth.”

“And you know so much about it how? Is the land of Impala infested with such creatures?”

“No…um…I,” Dean cleared his throat and tried to get the tone right. “I am young, but I have traveled far, and hunted many monsters. And, uh, I have read many books of lore.” Christ, he sounded like a fake medicine man from an old Western.

“Humpf.” Arthur looked at hum sharply, but he didn’t challenge Dean’s claims. “What’s the best way to kill it, then?”

“Just the usual, I think” Dean said, relaxing into familiar territory, “cut off its head, salt and burn the carcass.”

“Why the extra precautions? Is it a magical creature?”

“No…not really…” Dean remembered Gauis’s thinly-veiled warning about the Pendragons’ views on magic. “I mean, it doesn’t do magic, cast spells or anything—it just isn’t exactly natural—supernatural, we’d say.”

“Well then,” said Arthur, “sounds like we’ve got an interesting hunt on our hands.”

************************************************************************
They left the horses at the edge of the forest, thank God, and set off in the direction the villagers said that the manticore had taken its victims. Or rather, the direction most of the villagers had thought it had gone. The initial question had provoked a sea of fingers pointing in opposite directions, like a dozen Scarecrows from The Wizard of Oz. They’d gone with the majority.

Under the vaulting forest canopy, the air stilled. The trees had to be the biggest Dean had ever seen, their huge limbs blocking out most of the sun. Only a few, well-defined, narrow beams cut through, creating pools of light that made the shadows around them even darker. Thick, gnarled roots spiraled out crazily in all directions, half hidden under a blanket of fallen leaves. Unobstructed by undergrowth, giant, mossy trunks loomed over the men, dwarfing them. A spongy carpet of dead foliage formed the forest floor. It gave a little under their feet, absorbing most of the rustling and clinking of their passage. Without the overlay of pollution he now realized had varnished all the scents he had ever breathed, the ripe fragrances of tree mold and damp earth were almost overpowering.

Dean shivered slightly in the moist, close air, wondering once again what the hell had happened to him and Sam after that bar fight in Bridgeport. He was no wilderness expert, but he knew that the wood around him differed in some profound way from the forests he had known. It wasn’t hostile exactly—just alien: untouched by human hands—as if people were newcomers to an ancient world it ruled uncontested.

He shook himself free of his reverie. It wasn’t like him to be awed by the beauty of anything that didn’t have perky tits and a nice ass. All this eco-musing wasn’t going to help them find the manticore, and besides, no one else seemed to be finding the forest unusual at all. Arthur and the trackers were scanning the ground for spikes and the branches overhead for signs of the monster’s passing, and Merlin was struggling under the weight of a supply bag, managing to crash into things despite the lack of undergrowth.

“Merlin,” Arthur hissed in exasperation, “I’m amazed by the way you can make a racket in any situation. Try to be stealthy, would you?”

Merlin shrugged good-naturedly. Dean looked around, acknowledging the cathedral-like grandeur of the forest one last time, and then focused his mind on the job.

***************************************************************************

As the morning wore on, his sense of wonder backed off a bit, giving way to the discomfort and tedium of any long hunt. The overhanging branches shaded them from the sun, but the air warmed steadily around them nonetheless. Arthur and the trackers shed their cloaks, and Dean shucked his jacket and stuffed it in one of the bags. A nasty caffeine-withdrawal headache took up residence at the base of his skull.

They found a black spike or two as they moved through the forest, and saw a few broken branches overhead. But none of it was enough to make Dean believe they were really on the thing’s trail. So it was probably pure luck when after a few hours they stumbled onto the site the monster had chosen for its midnight snack.

They came to a place where the giant trees thinned out a bit, beaten back by the assault of some long-ago fire, maybe, or pushed aside by the path of a now-vanished stream. Grass and a few bushier weeds flourished in the opening. The sun, approaching its zenith, lit up the space like an amphitheater. And spotlighted, near the exact center of the clearing, was the little that remained of Old Nob, the ground nearby gouged the way it had been back at the paddock.

The bones and bits of skin and hair were bloody and they stank. One of the trackers—Walter maybe—turned away quickly and was sick in the bushes. Dean had to put a elbow over his nose and mouth. Merlin, however, surveyed it all coolly, and Arthur actually picked up a stick and started poking around in the mess, looking for tracks.

Dean saw a sparse trail of black spikes leading out of the clearing, and cautiously followed it a few yards into the trees, hoping to get a sense of which direction the beast had flown off in. After a brief investigation, he decided that if the pattern of the quills was to be believed, it had set off to the west.

It took just a moment for him to get back to the clearing with this information, but when he did, the sunlight illuminating the clearing seemed shadowed, as if the shade of the surrounding trees was reclaiming its territory. He peered at Arthur and the others in the dimming light and thought, with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Sam was right. And then, the gathering dusk just one more confirmation of what he’d probably already known, we really are in 528.

In front of him, Merlin seemed to notice the change as well, cocking his head towards the sky. The boy walked over to Arthur and tugged at his sleeve, murmuring a question, and then Arthur was looking around apprehensively too.

The light was failing rapidly now, and the four other men turned and twisted anxiously, as if they might catch some theatrical mastermind playing with the lights.

“Sire,” Walter asked, sounding close to panic, “Is it magic? Is the beast casting a spell on the sun?”

“No,” Arthur’s voice was grim, but level, “I think not, although I know not what this darkness portends.”

“Arthur,” Dean said urgently, too concerned to stand on formality, “tell your men not to look at the sun. I—I’ve seen this kind of the thing before—and it can be very dangerous—it can blind them. Tell them not to look at the sun.”

Arthur looked at him askance, but relayed the command with calm authority.

The forest had been eerily hushed before, but now it burst into a cacophony of cries, as if all its inhabitants had decided to give their opinion on the unexpected nightfall at the same time. Even the air, which had been oppressively still, stirred a bit, brushing over Dean’s skin in a slow, rhythmic pulse.

Dean tensed under the onslaught of discordant noise, a little spooked himself by the gathering dark. At the edges of his hearing, over and above the other sounds, he thought he could catch a high-pitched, feral keening. As he focused on it, it seemed to get louder, and he realized all at once that the ripple in the air was no breeze, but rather the currents churned up by the beating of huge wings.

Of course, he realized, it thinks night is falling, and it smells prey nearby .

The same thought must have occurred to Arthur.

“Men-at-arms, to me,” he called, “Merlin, Winchester, take cover in the trees.”

Arthur’s men were well-trained, Dean gave them that. Whatever fear they were experiencing, the two trackers instantly came to stand back to back with Arthur in a heavily armed triangle—two loaded bows and a broad sword raised expectantly towards the sky. All three men had donned chain mail hoods.

Dean hesitated for a moment, his hands itching for a sword or bow—or better yet a sawed-off—then he acknowledged his unarmed state, snagged one of the supply bags, and fell back with Merlin into the brush at the edge of the clearing. He grabbed the knife strapped to his ankle, but doubted it could do much good against what was coming.

The gusts of air got stronger, whipping the leaves into a frenzy, undersides flipped over as if to signal the approach of a thunderstorm. The howling, too, increased in volume, somewhere between a reptilian scream and mammalian howl—half lion, half dragon—and the sound made the hairs on the back of Dean’s neck stand up.

Between the dimming light and looming trees, they couldn’t actually see the manticore until it crested over the edge of the clearing. But then all at once it was hovering over them, body bigger than a lion’s, wingspan almost as wide as a single-engine plane. It surveyed the scene for a moment, circling just out of bowshot, body so powerful it seemed impossible that even its enormous wings could keep it up. Suddenly, with a whoosh of air, it banked, and dove towards the men in the center of the clearing.

The light was bad enough now that Dean could only see its outlines as it began its tightly controlled plummet—angular wings set into a lithe leonine body, a narrow tail with a bundle of what must have been spikes at the end. Its head was human, and the faint, remaining rays of the sun glinted off sharp teeth set into an old man’s mouth.

Before the bowmen could get off shots in the gloom, the manticore whipped its tail around and let loose a volley of poisonous quills. Arthur’s shield went up instantaneously, but Watt and Walter had no such protection, and first one, then the other, crashed unceremoniously to the ground, black quills lodged needle-like in their faces. Dean heard Arthur grit out a string of what he assumed were medieval curses as he hunkered down between the bodies, as much of him tucked away behind the shield as possible.

Sensing victory, the manticore settled to the ground in a welter of slashing wings, and ear-piercing caterwauls. It gave its full attention to the one remaining obstacle between it and lunch, and leveled a barrage of quills at Arthur’s shield. Since the beast was now between him and the men in the clearing, Dean decided to risk a throw despite the failing light. Hefting his knife into the air, he aimed as best he could at the join between spiny wing and muscled shoulder. The resulting hit produced a satisfying howl of pain from the monster. It flapped its wings madly for a moment, then subsided, and Dean dared to hope that he had impaired its flying capacity somewhat.

Unfortunately, that also meant that the beast was trapped on the ground, all its rage focused on the prince. Arthur, miraculously, seemed to be holding his own against it so far, darting his sword out from behind the shield to harass the beast’s face and fore legs, keeping his own body protected. Dean wondered grimly how long he would be able to keep it up as the eclipse moved on towards total darkness. For all he knew, the manticore could see in the dark, but Arthur had to be fighting on instinct alone—sensing the thing’s movements by sound and fluctuations in the air. A natural fighter, Dean thought, with dawning admiration.

“I’m gonna have to try and get a bow off one of the trackers,” he whispered to Merlin, “stay here and try to get a fire going—I think there’s a tinderbox in the supply bag.”

He used his most soothing, I’ve-got-this-situation-under-control voice; he expected the kid to be close to hysteria at this point. He was wrong. It was too dark now to see Merlin’s face, but his voice, when he murmured his agreement, was even and alert, and Dean felt oddly reassured.

Figuring that closer to the ground was safer, Dean set off towards the sounds of fighting in a kind of commando crawl, using his elbows and forearms to propel him across the grassy ground, digging in with his toes and knees for traction. He could hear the low frustrated growls of the thing, and the scrape of its claws hitting the prince’s shield. He tamped down a worry about how much longer Arthur’s armor could hold up against the brutal onslaught of claws, teeth and spikes and pushed towards the struggle.

After what seemed like an endless crawl through the now total darkness, Dean hit up against something soft but unyielding and realized that it was Watt. The beleaguered prince was so close by Dean could hear his shredded breathing. Arthur must have sensed his proximity too, because he whispered harshly, “Come to keep me company?”

“Getting a fucking weapon so I can take that thing out,” Dean said, his voice equally strained. A quill pinged against his shield and the prince hunkered down again.

Dean felt around, and found the quiver of arrows on Watt’s back, realizing, to his dismay, that that meant that the tracker had fallen on top of his bow.

“Can you divert that thing for a minute?” he hissed, “I’m gonna have to move this guy and I don’t want it to notice before I’m armed.”

Arthur didn’t answer, but he shifted away from Dean and the unconscious Watt, stuck his sword out, and called out tauntingly, “Hey, you! Yes, you, you ugly pile of bones and fur. Slow today, are we? Molting season not our friend?”

The manticore roared and lunged away from Dean. As quickly as he could, he got his shoulder under the heavy tracker and rolled him over, biting back a curse. Panting with the exertion, he retrieved the weapon.

“Thanks—that thing’s dead meat now,” he whispered, with more confidence than he really felt.

“Any time,” said the prince, his voice muffled again behind his shield, “just make it quick.”

Clutching the arrows and tucking the bow under his arm, Dean turned, not entirely sure anymore which direction he’d come from. But a light had appeared nearby and he realized that Merlin had actually managed to get a fire going. He risked getting to his feet to make a crouching run towards it.

The fire, when he got to it, was strangely big—higher and brighter than what Dean thought Merlin would have been able to produce in the short time he’d been away—but he had no time to think about that.

Dean hefted the crossbow to his shoulder. Made of wood, it weighed much more than the titanium bows he had trained with, but he thought he could still control it. He tested the draw—well-oiled, but harder to pull than the smooth, mechanical mechanism he was used to.

He cocked an arrow, sighted as well as he could in the flickering light of the fire, and glanced at Merlin. Lit by the flames, the boy’s face showed the same serene intensity Dean had heard in his voice.

“Here goes nothing,” he murmured, and let the arrow fly.

It rose in a smooth arc, but Dean could barely track it as it moved in and out of the flickering light of Merlin’s fire. As it descended towards the manticore, however, a fierce blue fire suddenly ran up the arrow, illuminating its length.

“What the—“

Dean turned to Merlin, but the boy wasn’t paying any attention to him. He was looking intently at the arrow, and his eyes glowed dark gold.

Dean’s breath caught in his throat.

The burning arrow found its mark in the side of the manticore’s neck, and the beast let out a tremendous bellow of pain and outrage. The blue fire rippled over its skin for a moment, and then faded away. Its wake seemed to leave the beast in agony, however. It suddenly stretched it wings out to their full extent, every sharp bone and knotted muscle in them rigid and straining. It stayed like that for a minute, impossibly huge, frozen, and then, just as quickly, the wings crumpled. The manticore tried to draw them in towards itself, but it had lost its fine muscle control—its movements were awkward, uncoordinated, and the wings collapsed like sails that had lost their wind.

The arrow must have struck an artery; Dean could see a river of dark blood coursing down its neck. Reeling from the pain and blood loss, the lion body writhed, its howls fading, but hitting the high notes just the same. Then, it seemed to gather the last of its remaining strength, rearing back on its hind legs, its dragon-length claws fully extended. But the violent lunge it was clearly planning never happened. Instead, Arthur emerged from behind his shield, spun his sword around once, and in a smooth, perfect movement, sliced off the thing’s head.

And then it was over. Blood gushed from the place where the manticore’s head had been, and the monster slowly crumpled to the ground in a puddle of its own bodily fluids.

Beside it, Arthur dropped his sword and shield and pushed back his chain mail hood. He sank to his knees, head canted upwards, gulping in ragged breaths of air.

Dean turned to Merlin to ask what the fuck was up with the blue fire, but Merlin was already pushing past him to kneel in front of Arthur, face tight with worry, hands hard on the prince’s shoulders, then running over his arms with rough concern.

“Oi, Merlin,” the prince said hoarsely, “I’m fine. Get off me."

“Shut up, you prat,” Merlin said fiercely, cupping Arthur’s jaw and tilting it to make sure his face and head were uninjured. “I don’t know why you aren’t dead.” Arthur grimaced, but seemed unfazed by his servant’s familiarity, and made no further attempt to push Merlin away.

Dean cocked his head at them. Huh. But what did he know about sixth-century master-servant relations? He checked on the unconscious trackers. He couldn’t see much in the flickering light of the fire, but they seemed to be breathing alright—he got their headgear off, just to make sure.

“Winchester—“

The prince had gotten to his feet again, leaning heavily on his sword.

“Thank you,” Arthur said, “that was a good shot, and a neat trick with the fire.”

“Actually—“ Dean began, but over Arthur’s shoulder Merlin shook his head sharply, and gave him a pleading look. Well, okay, if that was the way he wanted to play it, no one had ever accused Dean Winchester of not knowing how to keep a secret. He changed tack and said sincerely, “thanks, and that was a beautiful blow.”

He meant it—it must have taken considerable power and an impressive degree of precision to get the thing’s head off clean in one stroke.

Arthur wearily nodded his acknowledgement. He looked a little unearthly himself—blond hair dark with sweat, firelight limning the broad, proud lines of cheekbones and jaw, flinging a tall, wide-shouldered shadow behind him. A Winchester hunting with a prince, Dean thought, what would Dad say to that? But he quickly shied away from the painful reminder of his father’s absence.

The manticore’s carcass was as gruesome a heap of monstrosity as Dean had ever seen. Golden fur covered what would have been a majestic lion’s body, but the leathery dragon wings and the spiny scorpion tail incongruously attached to it rendered it grotesque. The worst was the severed head lying next to it—skin wrinkled and spotted, split by a wide mouth frozen open in the horrible rictus of death—Dean counted three rows of sharp teeth, one behind the other, inside.

That is one nasty son of a bitch, he thought admiringly, and wished he had his phone so he could get a picture of the thing. He imagined himself showing the picture to Sam, and saying smugly, “oh, yeah, no big deal—all it took was an arrow lit up with blue unearthly fire, and a good, sharp broadsword.”

They were all three wrung out by the battle, so it was hard work gathering enough fuel to burn the manticore’s body. Dragging his tired feet between the trees, holding a makeshift torch in one hand, and the axe Merlin had conveniently pulled out of one of the supply bags in the other, Dean was struck once again by how alive the forest was around them. If it could cough up a manticore, who knew what else lurked in its depths? He peered through the darkness apprehensively for wood dead enough to burn, but everything seemed to be bursting with life. Finally, he found a tree split down the middle, struck by lightening, probably, and started hacking away wearily with the wobbly axe blade. Where was Home Depot when you needed it? , he thought, gathering up the branches and carting them back to the clearing, where Merlin and Arthur had already arrived with similar loads

It was harder still to get the fire to catch without Merlin’s gold-eyed trick. It took about ten tries to get the still-damp wood to ignite, and even then it popped and sizzled for a long time as the excess moisture burned off. If Arthur noticed the difference between this slow-building fire and the magically instantaneous blaze that had helped defeat the monster, he didn’t say anything.

They didn’t have any salt, but the pyre around the manticore’s body—minus the head and the scorpion tail, which Arthur insisted they bring back to Uther as trophies—was pretty damn impressive once it got going. Despite the strangeness of his surroundings, and the sobering certainty that they had indeed landed in the sixth century, with no immediate way to get back to the twenty-first, Dean felt the familiar satisfaction of a successful hunt. Merlin shared out some food—dried meat, hard bread, and, blissfully, a wineskin—and the three of them watched in contented silence as the fire consumed the manticore’s corpse.

By the time the monster had been reduced to a pile of charred bones, the unconscious trackers had started to revive, and the sun was beginning to reappear from behind the earth’s shadow.

part four

  • The action was well written and I could really feel his puzzlement and realization of where and when he was. The forest primeval and he's finally seen it. I liked that he didn't tell Arthur about Merlin, either. Great job.
    • Thanks! and thanks so much for sticking with this!

      I'm glad the action and the forest worked for you--there was much hair-pulling on my side, and hand-holding from my beta, involved in making those parts, in particular, presentable!
  • ♥ Nice battle scene :DD
    • Thanks! I've got to thank my beta for helping me get it into any kind of shape, so I'm really glad it worked for you--
  • (no subject) - meri_contrary
  • I just found this and read all three parts in one go. Just in case you didn't know, this is freaking awesome!
    The boys are very in character and the whole premise works beautifully. Arthur, Uther,Merlin and Gaius are so well written and interesting.I can't wait for more. Thanks.
    • Oh wow! thanks for reading--and I'm glad everyone seemed in character! The story will probably be complete in 3 more parts--though I have a feeling the writing is going to be a bit slower than I'd like...
  • Love it. I'm so glad you updated and I can't wait for more.
    • Thanks! and thanks so much for sticking with it! I hope the next section won't be as long is coming as this one was...

      great icon, btw!
  • I'm so glad you updated. :) You did a great job with describing the hunt and the action involved. I liked how Dean was able to see the good side of Arthur and how he was impressed by the prince. Cheers for Merlin saving the day in his own under the radar way. I'm sure Dean isn't going to let that go - especially when he has the chance to talk to him in private.

    Huh. But what did he know about sixth-century master-servant relations?

    Oh, Dean. lol, if he only knew... :p
    • Thanks! and thanks so much for sticking with it--

      I'm glad the action worked for you. I have to thank my beta, without her help and encouragement, it would have been more like:

      Dean went into a forest with really big trees. A giant flying thing attacked them, and then Arthur cut its head off

      I put that other line in at the last minute--because, really, how could I resist!
  • ...I don't even watch SPN (though have been meaning to start) and that was still freaking awesome.
  • (no subject) - the_little_owl
    • Glad you're enjoying it--and thanks so much for sticking with it!

      Also glad the hunt scene worked for you--it was freakin' hard to write, and required much hand-holding from my beta!
  • Wow

    Awesome fight!
    And looks like Dean's going to be Arthur's favourite hunting buddy :)
    And that's okay, coz Dean can be Merlin's study buddy :D
    • Re: Wow

      Thanks! I do think Dean and Arthur would bond over killing stuff--

      Glad the fight worked for you--like I said above, it was freakin' hard to figure out how to write action, and required much hand-holding and back-patting from my beta!
  • Oh, you're still wirting it! Awesome! Great hunt in this chapter:)
    • Oh, I am still writing it! it was just that vacation, work, pulling my hair trying to figure out how to write action, kinda slowed me down...It should be complete in ~3 more sections, though, and I hope the next one won't take as long as this one did--

      Thanks so much for sticking with it!
  • Yay! more of this!

    I do love Dean admiring the knights and Arthur for their fighting and physical skills. it's so Dean. And Arthur taking it in his stride because he expects competent soldiers on his side, and the Winchesters are nothing if not competent soldiers. Nice one of Arthur nodding along with the salt and burn recommendation.

    Yes, Dean, you... really know nothing of sixth century master-servant realtions. :cough:
    • I'm glad you're enjoying it! and thanks so much for sticking with it!

      I do think Dean and Arthur would recognize each other as skilled, competent fighters--possibly crush out on each other a little....

      I put that other line in there at the last minute because, yeah, I couldn't resist...
  • omg you have to continue. this is unbelievably good. when will you continue? i love the writing and the story line: simple and enjoyable to read.

    update soon please!!
  • Loved the action you wrote, I got caught up in it. Great job with it!
    • Thank you! Your comment makes me so happy, because it was sooooo hard to write--but I kinda feel that there needs to be a lot of fighting when the Winchester boys are in town.

  • Oh I am loving this!! Always loved the Arthurian legends and the way you have woven it with SPN is amazing!! Hope to read more soon.
  • I just have to stop midway to let you know -- this is SO GOOD!!!

    Okay, I promise to be more articulate when I'm done... but you wrote a Supernatural & Merlin crossover!!!! And it's so good!!!!

    *back to reading*
Powered by LiveJournal.com