Title: The Secret in the Basement, part 8
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Valiant, Helios, Hengroen
Summary: A death leads to a the discovery of a secret in the basement
Word Count: 828
Prompt: 333 Eerie (and a little bit of last week's 332 contest)
Author's Notes: Part One ; Part Two ; Part Three ; Part Four ; Part Five ; Part Six ; Part Seven
Helios took two helmets off the wall. He handed one to Valiant as he headed out of the garage to where they had parked the quads. As he got aboard the quad he double checked that the gas cap was closed, made sure the parking brake was set and the gear was in neutral, then turned it on. Before he had a chance to slip on the helmet Valiant spoke, “What say we race?”
Helios raised an eyebrow at him, “This isn’t a contest. We have a job to do.”
Valiant smirked as he got on the quad, “Doesn’t mean we can’t make it interesting. 10 quid says I make the woods first.”
“Fine.” Helios slipped on the helmet, took off the parking brake, put it in gear and took off.
“Bloody bugger.” He slipped on the helmet as quickly as he could, started the quad and took off after Helios.
As Arthur moved Hengroen into the woods he slowed the horse to a walk. The woods were too thick for the horse to go faster without possible injury.
Merlin tensed up, “Why are we slowing down?”
“Because there are too many obstacles for Hengroen to go faster,” Arthur stated.
“But the song.”
“Don’t you think I know,” Arthur snapped. He immediately regretted his tone as he felt Merlin pull away from him just a bit. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have spoken like that.”
Merlin’s voice was a little quieter. “It’s ok.”
Arthur was irritated with Merlin excusing his behavior. He had been taught never to say ok to someone’s poor behavior but then it occurred to him that Merlin might simply be placating him so that he doesn’t’ do anything to him. A wave of guilt washed over him but he had to push that aside. There were more important things. “It’s at least another mile in the open to get to the clear trail through the woods but I don’t know if we can beat them to the fields if they are on the quads.”
Merlin wondered about that for a second. “Why didn’t we just take the quads?”
“Because, once on the other side of the woods it’s fenced fields. You have to find every gate.” Arthur sat up a bit taller. “Hengroen can jump most of the gates with ease, even with two riders.”
Merlin wasn’t about to reveal that he didn’t like that idea. He just hoped his comment covered his hesitation. “I sense a but in there.”
“It’s open. Anyone could see us crossing the fields,” Arthur said.
“Your sister said you knew this place. Isn’t there a way to go round?” Merlin asked.
“No, it really is just fenced fields. Sheep, goats, horses. A few crops.”
As Hengroen moved deeper into the woods it seemed that late day was catching them as the sun seemed to all but disappear. The sounds of bugs could be heard but they were strangely distant. An odd silence had descended on them with just the sound of horse’s hooves hitting the ground. The woods were thick with trees and debris on the ground but a decided lack of animal life. It was as though the rest of the world had dropped away from this eerie place. Merlin could almost imagine that he and Arthur were just friends taking a ride, enjoying a day out. They continued on this way for a bit when they heard it. The distinct sound of a motor, or maybe two, in the distance.
Arthur brought Hengroen to a stop. “Why are you stopping?” Merlin said in a bit of a panic.
“They will be able to see us from the trail along this side of the woods if we keep going,” Arthur stated.
“So what now?” Merlin looked around.
Arthur stared down at his hands for a moment trying to think. “Alright, come on, we need to get off.”
He reached out to grab Merlin’s hand and help him dismount. He then dismounted himself. He turned to look at Merlin. “Hengroen is just going to slow us down. The trees are thick enough that they can’t see us from here.”
“Just what are you planning?” Merlin knitted his brows.
Arthur gave him an odd smile. “We are going to hide in the old fort.”
As the sounds of two quads got closer Arthur took Merlin’s arm to lead him through the woods. “As long as we stay toward the middle we should be good.”
Merlin looked back as he limped along. “What about your horse?”
“Don’t worry about Hengroen. I’ve got a plan.” Arthur led Merlin about 20 feet away where he picked up a few rocks. “You are going to move as fast as you can. Get ready.” He tossed rocks at Hengroen but he caught the horse in the flank. “Hengroen, go to Mithian!” The horse whinnied before heading through the forest in the direction they had been heading.
“Move.” Arthur grabbed Merlin’s hand and pulled him along.