Character/s: Original charcter POV, Isildir the druid, Merlin's there though not physically. More like he's the subject of the drabble.
Summary: A child goes looking for a legend
Word Count: 600
Prompt: 6: Whispers in the night.
Author's Notes: Playing a bit with the Merlin as the wild man legend. Future fic in a way, post magic reveal and pre one, united Albion.
It's dusk when she stumbles into the druid camp, heart lifting at having found it just as her body is dragged down, sagging, bogged down by the hardships of the road. The bottoms of her feet are covered in blisters and those blisters are bleeding sluggishly.
It mightn't seem like much, but they’re worked raw. The sores, covered in mud, oozing yellow pus. Her toe nails are caked with dirt. Her arms are scratched where they're bare. There are mud splashes on her legs.
An owl hoots as if to mock her, part of immortal nature.
She goes to her knees, fallen leaves of a bright orange colour rising and floating on a breeze as the settling of her weight disturbs them.
An old druid woman runs to her, dropping the pile of kindling she was carrying. Her eyes are pale blue, like shadows of a shadow, her hair's a matte grey and translucent in spots. She kneels at her side, clutches at both her arms as if to give her strength. “Are you well, child? What are you doing here alone?”
She understands the words and their logic. But she has one priority and one priority alone. “I seek Emrys,” she says, repeating the message she was taught in their hour of peril. “I would seek Emrys.”
The old woman's eyes flare. “Isildir,” she calls. “Come quick. There's a child looking for the wild man.”
“No,” she insists. “I'm looking for Emrys. No wild man. Emrys will save us.”
The man called Isildir steps forward. He has wise eyes. “Emrys is the wild man. The man who hides.”
“No, he isn't a wild man,” she insists. “I was told he's the greatest... the greatest of them all. Stronger than Taliesin.”
Isildir's eyes narrow to shards of glass. “You know the prophecy.”
“My people told me,” she says, acknowledging this truth as her last defence. The druids seem to respect the ancient words as much as her people. “It's foretold. He's part of the making of Albion. And the defender of my people. He must help us.”
“You do well in trusting destiny,” Isildir says. “But the paths to it are uncertain, my child. Even I don't know how the things that are meant to be will come to pass. I know of the future, as it is written, as word of mouth has spread it. And I know what the present looks like. Emrys lives. But he's in hiding. Deep in the bowels of Albion, in its forests or in its dank caves. Riding on wings of fire. In their breath that is in the sky. The wording of his prayer thundering in a language we don't know.” Isildir's stance changes; on a sigh, he becomes smaller. “Unfortunately I don't know how long this state of things will last. For now he hides. He will for as long as the word exile buries magic under its yoke.”
“But I must find him.” Tears come. To have come so far only to be told that Emrys is not to be found. That he's ephemeral like broken hopes. Her quest for nothing. “My people need the greatest magic there is to be saved from... from... I've travelled far. I must. I must find him. I beseech you.”
Her sobs come on the heels of her last words.
Isildir shares a compassionate look with the woman who offered her succour. Then his eyes rake the clearing, the forest beyond it. Its sounds and murmurs, its secret voices, its dark corners and mysterious lairs. “Perhaps... Perhaps, he'll rise to your call.”
New strength courses through her, makes her stand, hair whipping in the breeze, lashing her face. “How?”
Isilidir widens his arms, as if to encompass the world around him. “Listen to the whispers in the night.”