Title: The Secret in the Basement, part 3
Pairing/s: not really
Character/s: Arthur, Morgana, Morgause, Uther, Aredian, and, of course, the boy in the basement - who could he be??
Summary: A sudden death leads to a mystery
Word Count: 1433, not really that sorry since I had to edit for that crazy dialogue
Prompt: #327 "Why did you scream like that?"
Author's Notes: Part One ; Part Two
Arthur smiled to himself and got to work. It only took a few moments for him to grab a backpack and dig through a drawer for some joggers and a couple of shirts that were too small. It occurred to him that the boy didn’t have shoes so grabbed an old pair of slip ons and a pair of socks. Arthur also grabbed a couple of bottles of water from his fridge, some granola bars and peanut butter crackers. He stared around his room for a moment trying to think of anything. Nothing came to mind so he zipped up the bag and ran back downstairs to the breakfast room. He hung the backpack in the mudroom leading to the garage and darted back into the kitchen. He grabbed a glass of juice and pretended to be poking through the fridge when Aredian emerged from the basement. He tried his best to look surprised. “Mr. Aredian.”
Aredian gave him a greasy smile and held up a bottle of wine. “One of the advantages of being friends with Uther Pendragon.”
“Of course,” Arthur nodded.
“Your father also said I could have one of the old rugs in the storage rooms. I’ll be back in a bit to pick it up.”
Arthur just nodded along, “Ok.”
Aredian headed out of the kitchen. Arthur held his breath as he listened to him walk down the long hall into the foyer. It seemed to take him forever to go out the front door. As soon as he did Arthur quickly ran up the hall to the door of the front sitting room. He watched out the window as Aredian drove away. He then darted back to the breakfast room to check the gate cam. Instead of leaving however, Aredian parked his car just inside the gate and pulled out his phone. Morgana and Morgause joined him a moment later. Arthur looked at them with concern. "He's not leaving."
Morgause spoke, "maybe he knows somethings up."
Arthur pulled his lips tight. "I don't like it. We need to get him out of here now."
Morgana gave them a sour look, “We can’t take him by foot.”
“We have the four wheelers,” Morgause suggested.
Arthur cut off that plan, “We would have to ditch them when we get out to the fields. Too many fences.”
Morgana smiled, “We have horses.”
“They could chase us down with the quads unless I could get to the fields first,” Arthur countered.
Morgause smiled. “Not if we drain them of gas. And yes, I know they can just fill them from the stored fuel but that takes time, especially if the pump key has been misplaced.”
“Ok. We ride out of here on a horse,” Arthur smiled.
Morgause took charge. “Plan made. Arthur, you go get the boy. Morgana, go saddle Hengroen and bring him to the mudroom door.”
“What are you going to do?” Morgana asked.
“I’m going take care of our quad problem.” Morgause smiled. They usually didn’t work well together nor did they work together often but when they did, the Pendragon children made for a strong team.
Arthur grabbed the backpack from the mudroom and, with the keys in hand, made his way back to the boy chained in their basement. Arthur smiled at him hoping it looked reassuring. “I promised I would be back.” The boy said nothing, just stared at him as Arthur pulled the clothes out of the backpack. “We have to get you out of here before Aredian comes back.”
It was just luck that there was only one padlock key on the ring. Arthur had difficulty in the low light but finally it came loose. Not thinking, he pulled the chain from the boy’s leg causing him to scream.
Arthur jumped back and held a hand to his chest. “Why did you scream like that?”
The boy sat on the cold ground, rocking back and forth holding his leg. All Arthur could hear were sobs. He picked up his phone and pointed its flashlight at the boy. He could see a messy, bloody wound on the boy’s leg in the shape of the chain.
“I’m really sorry but we have to hurry,” Arthur said as he rubbed the boy’s knee. He then helped the boy get dressed. The clothes were very baggy but there were no complaints. The shoes were a close fit. As soon as the boy was dressed, Arthur grabbed the backpack and moved toward the door. The boy, however, hesitated. Arthur turned back to look at him. He was tall, thin and pale, too thin, too pale. There were dark circles under his eyes and his cheek bones were very sharp. “What’s your name?”
“Merlin,” the boy answered in a croaky, dry voice.
Arthur smiled at him. “I’m Arthur and I know you don’t know me but know that the man who was here before is coming back. You can wait for him or come with me.”
Merlin didn’t hesitate. He limped toward Arthur with a hand held out. The going was slow but as they made it to the basement stairs Morgause was waiting. “He’s still sitting in his car near the gate.”
“Let’s hope he stays there for the moment.” Arthur struggled with Merlin on the stairs. “Get the first aid kit.” It was a lot of effort but he finally had Merlin in a chair in the breakfast room. “We don’t have time to do much but we need to wrap his leg.” Arthur pulled up Merlin’s pant leg. “Merlin, this is my sister, Morgause.”
Morgause knelt down on the floor in front of Merlin. “It’s nice to meet you Merlin. I wish the circumstances were better.” He simply smiled and nodded as she pulled out a spray bottle of wound cleaner. “It’s going to sting but I will do this as fast as I can.” As a bit of distraction Arthur handed Merlin a bottle of water. He chugged the entire bottle while Morgause wrapped his leg in gauze and then with an ankle wrap that she tied off. She then smiled at Merlin. “Not perfect but it should get you where you’re going.”
“Which is where?” Arthur asked.
“I’ve been thinking about that.” Morgause replied. “I know it’s a long way but Mithian’s.”
Morgana came through the mudroom door into the breakfast room. “Hengroen’s ready. And I think I have a good way to cover you. I sent out a party alert to our friends.”
Arthur smiled, “That’s brilliant.”
Morgause spoke up, “You better get going Arthur.” They all looked one more time at the gate cam before Arthur grabbed Merlin’s hand. “It’s time to ride.”
“Bathroom first?” Merlin asked.
Arthur him directed to the smallest bathroom in the house just off the mudroom. “Make it quick.”
Morgana spoke quietly to Arthur as soon as the door closed. “Who is he?”
“All he has said is that his name is Merlin.” Arthur whispered in return.
“Just be careful, ok?”
Arthur looked carefully at his sister. It hit him that he might be riding off into danger but that he was also leaving them to Aredian’s potential wrath. “Both of you get out of here if you have to.”
The door to the bathroom opened. Merlin shifted nervously, “I’m ready.”
Morgana led the way out the door to where Hengroen was tied up out back. The horse whickered but stood still as Arthur climbed up. He reached out a hand to Merlin, “Don’t worry. I’ve been riding all my life.”
Merlin looked nervous as though he were going to refuse. Morgause stepped up, took his hand and looked him in the eye. “I know this is a lot. That you have probably been through some terrifying shit but you have to believe us. You have to go.”
Merlin took a moment as though he were assessing the veracity of her statement. “Ok.” It took a lot of help from Morgause and Morgana because of his injured leg, but finally Merlin was seated behind Arthur.
Before Arthur could turn Hengroen around Morgause grabbed the reins. “Give me your phone, just in case.”
Arthur tightened his jaw at the thought that Uther would have their phones tracked but it was exactly the kind of thing he would do. He pulled it from his pocket and handed it over. “Be careful.”
Morgause and Morgana stood back, side by side holding hands. Morgause spoke, ”Don’t forget, you know this place like the back of your hand.” They watched as Arthur rode out of sight of the house before heading back inside.
To be continued...