Merlyn was the first to wake the next morning, or though she thought. She couldn’t see Legolas watching her in the morning light. Feeling dirty and remembering the stream nearby, she collected some things out of her bag, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and underwear wrapped up in her spare t-shirt and trousers. She made a quick dash out of their camp but slowed of the clearing. Merlyn heard the water before seeing it. She walked down the banking to a safe spot where she could climb in and out easily. The water was crystal clear and words couldn’t describe the beauty of the water and its small waterfall further up the steam.
Gently she took off her clothes and slowly eased herself into the water. It was warm and soothing. Her heart felt glad of something other than her feet was supporting her. Merlyn decided to swim some lengths. She found a deep part near the banking not far down the stream; it was deep enough for Merlyn to sit on the stream bed with the water flowing over her head. She sat there with her eyes open, watching fishes of all shapes and sizes swim pass. Some stopped to look and play in her long hair that was wrapping itself around her body.
After feeling calm and relaxed, Merlyn rose to the surface. She swam back to the bank again and reached for her shampoo and other toiletries, she walked towards the small waterfall. She placed some shampoo and conditioner both in one hand and mixed it together and rubbed it into her hair. She had noticed her hair had grown an inch or two where as it has stayed the same length for years. The scent of rose and jasmine swirled around her, making her fall further into the void of calmness. As the water fell gently over her head, Merlyn began to feel a bit strange. She began to hear voices around her; like the trees and flowers were talking to one another. She opened her eyes and looked around. There standing by the group of trees by her clothes was a creature about five inches high with wings longer then itself. Merlyn watched it walk towards her, she didn’t feel any fear. It walked right up to the banking and spoke in a strange language she didn’t know. This creature spoke as if in whisper.
“Child” it said “do not be afraid, I m Anwen, I am kin to the water folk. I am here to tell you of your destiny. Open out your hand so that we may speak privately” Merlyn did so.
Anwen raised her delicate wings and flew to her hand. The creature settled itself in her palm.
“Do you know where you are, Merlyn?”
“I have been told I am in middle earth, where I am precisely I don’t know” replied Merlyn puzzled “how do you know my name?”
“I know a lot about you” the creature said with a small smile on her face “I believe that I know more about you then you know about yourself”
There was a silence between them; Merlyn was trying to get what Anwen had just said clear in her mind.
“I m going to ask you a question you would find personal. Do you remember you mother?”
Merlyn look at her amazed “at least she understood it would be personal” she thought.
“In memories and in faded photographs” she replied “but yes I remember her”
“Do you know her name?”
Merlyn was stopped short; she had never asked herself what her mums name was. She had never asked her father what it was either.
“No” admitted Merlyn “I never even asked”
“I shall tell you, her name was Nieve” Anwen started pacing up and down Merlyn’s palm “do you not recognize it, child”
Merlyn thought for a while, she could swear that she had heard that name before.
“No, wait I think I do…….hang on, I remember, Merlin’s love. Merlin fell in love a lady of the lake, her name was Nieve but she never return his love. She got fed up with him chasing her around asking her to marry him so ended up caging him in cave.”
“That is correct, do you remember more?” Anwen had an excited look in her eye but kept herself calm.
Merlyn sat quietly in the water, allowing it to pour over her head and over her face. Taking a deep breath she spoke.
“She patiently coped with this attention, because she knew Merlin was a powerful wizard and was willing to teach her all he knew. Over the years she became just as powerful as he was and decided to put an end to the old fools dreaming, so she tricked him into one of her caves and left him there. Merlin was unable to escape as the cave door only answered to Nieve’s magic. Nieve then thought it was best to take his place and protect Arthur against his enemies
“My Lady would be proud of you” said Anwen fluttering her wings in the air. “Do you finally understand child, do you understand what this means?”
“I do” replied Merlyn quietly “my mother and Nieve are the same person, but I can’t understand how that can be”
“You mother became powerful, she was able to travel far and wide, through time itself. She was able to change shape at will, into any creature or human form. You are your mother’s daughter. You are able to do the same.”
Merlyn went cold, the water around her felt strange and hostile. Anwen understood. She allowed Merlyn to dry and dress. They continued there talk between them on the grass.
“I m sorry Merlyn” said Anwen, a tear sparkled in her eye “to much, to soon”
“No” Merlyn looked Anwen directly into her eyes “I need to know everything. You said that I could change my self at will. How is this possible?”
Anwen shook her head.
“I have told all I can” Anwen stepped delicately on a dandelion clock “My Lady has two things left for you, a message and a present. Do as I say”
Anwen held out her hand and commanded Merlyn to place a finger on it; she told her close her eyes and open her heart. Merlyn heard voices around her once more, they calmed her and Merlyn found it easier to open her heart. Anwen was singing softly. Her whispery voice swayed around her. The feeling vanished as quickly as it came.
Merlyn opened her eyes to find herself alone and a leather bag at her feet. She looked around but there was still no sign of Anwen. Merlyn sighed and rubbed her eyes. A voice was drifting through her mind.
“Merlyn, daughter of Nieve, hear my voice and do not fear.
Child, forget-not one thing; nothing in life is never what they seem,
Confront you fears, hold on to hope and always follow your dreams.
We are here to guide you, here to help you, to love you, and to honor you!
Understand this, love conquers all evil, happiness gladdens the heart.
Use you magic wisely and fight in the name of honor and truth.
Fare thee well, Merlyn. We will meet again.
Merlyn found herself looking up at the sky. She was lying on her back. The exact position when Legolas and Gimli had found her.
“You’ve been bathing for quite some time” said Gimli the anxiety left his voice “we were worried, if we had known you were sleeping we would have left you in peace”
“Don’t worry about me Gimli, I have been told I m capable of looking after myself.”
For the next three quarters of an hour, Merlyn told Gimli and Legolas her strange meeting with Anwen, a water spirit.
“You are blessed” said Legolas in awe “I have wondered up and own the streams and rivers in my home land in the hope of meeting a spirit of the water, wood or the air. I v been attacked by a fire spirit though. And that wasn’t the sort of meeting I was hoping for”
Merlyn laughed. She looked down at the bag at her feet. Before looking in it, she decided to return to camp.
Standing by the fire, staring directly into it, was Aragorn. As soon as he heard her footfalls he rushed to her wrapping his arms around her.
“You’re safe” he said quietly holding her at arms length.
Merlyn turned serious.
“Aragorn, I need your help” she spilt the contents of the bag out on to the ground. There was a sword, bow, knives and arrows. The sword’s sabbath looked as if made of gold. Legolas was amazed with the bow and the arrows, Merlyn heard him say to Gimli that the fair hands of Mirkwood and Lorien together couldn’t make any thing as fine.
There was a pattern of a tree on each weapon, the roots going deep into the hilt of the sword and the knives. The delicately carved branches reached out at the top. On the sword the highest branch reached out into the very tip and held a bird of prey; the kestrel.
On the bow the tree’s branches held seven counting magpies and the knives there were thorn bushes. Living in them was a mother wolf and her three cubs. Their mother was howling at a full moon.
While they were looking at the weapons, Merlyn told Aragorn of her meeting with Anwen.
“I am here for a reason, but I wasn’t told what it was. I have been given these beautiful weapons but I don’t know how to use them.”
Aragorn was quiet; he swung the sword around himself. It was perfectly balanced, he noted to him self.
“I believe that you don’t have to do any thing, child” he said “the sword just needs the reassurance of a hand on its hilt, it will do the rest. But still I will teach you some of the things I know”
“And I will teach you the bow and the strength of those knives” said Legolas with a hand on her hand on her soldier.
“And I, the swing of the axe” said Gimli “after all, better safe than sorry, if you can only lay your hand on an axe”
It was decided that they would move on tomorrow. Merlyn slept in her usual place, while Legolas and Aragorn spoke quietly to one side. Soon they fell asleep. Gimli was awake watching the fire, running his fingers thoughtfully across the edge of the axe. He suddenly saw a figure on the edge of the fire light. There was an old bent man with a hat covering is eyes. Gimli sudden movement to his feet woke the others.
Aragorn was the first to speak.
“Come father, what can we do for you, come, warm your self by the fire if you’re cold”
The old man never moved, but when Aragorn took a several steps forward, the man had disappeared.
Legolas suddenly shouted “the horses! The horses!”
The horses of Rohan had pulled out their pickets and ran into the wood, leaving their company behind to ponder their bad luck.