A Servant of Two Masters
Arthur, Merlin and the knights are on their way through the Valley of the Fallen Kings, having picked that route for its secrecy. Unfortunately itís not that secret, as a band of mercenaries come hurtling down from the slopes either side of them. The knights begin to fight and Arthur is dragged off his horse, though he manages to overcome his attacker. Merlin uses magic to throw a horse-backed mercenary to the ground, but while distracted he is wounded by another warrior and falls to the ground.
With the knights nowhere in sight, Arthur helps Merlin take cover under some trees. Arthur checks the wound and deems it to be non-serious. After some banter, Arthur acknowledges Merlin as a very good servant, and Merlin thanks him for saving his life.
The following morning they are awoken by the sounds of footsteps approaching. Despite asking to be left behind, Merlin is thrown over Arthurís shoulders. They retreat into a narrow gully but Arthur is forced to put Merlin down as a mercenary approaches. Seeing more of them approaching, Merlin mutters an incantation that causes a rockslide, burying several of the mercenaries, but separating him from Arthur.
Merlin passes out as he is dragged away and thrown at Morganaís feet. Agravaine is with her, and it soon becomes clear that it was they who planned the ambush. Morgana is angry that their plan failed, and Agravaine states that he has to return to Camelot considering Gaius already suspects him. Morgana warns him of Gaiusís shrewdness, but prevents him from killing Merlin. Since Arthur is fond of Merlin, Morgana has other plans for him.
Merlin awakes in Morganaís hovel, chained to the ceiling and soaking wet thanks to the bucket of water that Morgana has just thrown over him.
Morgana: We have a lot of catching up to do. After all, I haven't seen you since you condemned my sister to a slow and painful death, thwarted my plans to take over Camelot and forced me to live in a hovel.
Merlin: Couldnít do me a favour, could you? Let Arthur know. He still thinks of me as an underachiever, and Iím quite proud of those accomplishments. I can die happy.
Morgana: Oh, youíre not going to die. I'm not going to make it that easy.
Leon, Gwaine, Elyan and Percival come across Arthur in the forest, and together they gallop back to Camelot. Arthur assures Gaius that Merlin is still alive, and orders that the forest be searched until heís found.
As night falls, Morgana tends to Merlinís injury, asking him why his loyalty to Arthur runs so deep.
Merlin: I donít expect you to understand, Morgana, you have no sense of duty, no sense of loyalty.
Morgana: Youíre wrong. Donít think I donít understand loyalty just because I have no one left to be loyal to.
She chants a sleep that renders Merlin unconscious.
Back in Camelot, Agravaine and Leon are breaking the bad news to Arthur and the council that Merlin is still missing. Agravaine tries to console him, but Arthur silences him with a gesture. Leon points out that because their route through the forest was completely secret, it can only mean that thereís a traitor in their midst. Gaius looks up at Agravaine suspiciously.
Out in the forest hovel, Merlin watches as Morgana chants to a medallion with the image of a multi-headed hydra on it. She throws it into the brazier and a creature emerges, hissing loudly, identical to the one on the medallion. Morgana introduces it as a Formorra, and cuts off one of its heads.
Morgana: Formorra are creatures of dark magic. Even if you cut off their heads you cannot kill them. Another will just grow in its place. In the days of the Old Religion they were revered by the high priestesses, for they allowed them to control peopleís minds. The Formorra will suck the life force out of you, and everything that makes you Merlin will be gone. And in its place there will be just one thought. One thought that will grow until itís consumed you completely. One thought that will be your lifeís work. You will not be able to rest until itís done. And that one thought is simple: you must kill Arthur Pendragon.
Morgana forces the snake head into the back of Merlinís neck, and once again he falls unconscious.
Arthur wakes up the following day to see an unfamiliar figure standing at the foot of his bed. It is an extremely efficient servant called George, who has already completed all his tasks and is getting ready to serve him breakfast. Arthur finds him impressive, but much prefers Merlin. He marches down the front steps of the castle with Gwen in hot pursuit, asking that he at least take someone with him. Thatís Gwaineís cue to ride up and join the search-party for Merlin.
Arthur: See, now youíve condemned me to a day of mindless chatter.
Arthur: Weíll return.
Gwen: You better.
Merlin wakes up in a puddle of mud, seemingly unaware of where he is or whatís happened, and just in time to wander into Arthur and Gwaineís path. Merlin seems incredibly cheerful, and Arthur is so delighted that he actually hugs him.
Back in Camelot, Gaius serves Merlin some soup. After Merlin is uncharacteristically rude about its taste, he asks what the strongest poison is that Gaius possesses. Gaius suggests aconite, and Merlin takes it with him, cheerfully remarking that you never know when youíll need to kill someone.
Down in the kitchens Merlin pours the aconite over a cooked meal, insulting the cook on the way out. In the upstairs hallway he runs across Gwaine who tries to take a bite of the food, only for Merlin to manoeuvre the tray out of the way. However, as he enters Arthurís room he sees that Gwen has already served Arthur lunch. Uncharacteristically jealous of Gwen, Merlin tries to switch the plates around, only for Arthur to insist on Gwenís meal and ask for his help later during the knighting ceremony.
Frustrated, Merlin throws the plate of poisoned food into a pig sty as he goes and goes to the armoury where Sir Leon introduces him to a crossbow. Merlin shoots it across the room, causing a barrel to explode, and laughs in delight.
Leon: Will that do the job?
Merlin: Oh yes, that will do the job nicely.
Leon: What is the job, exactly?
Merlin: To kill Arthur!
Leon: Driving you mad, is he?
Merlin: Not for much longer!
In Arthurís room Merlin rigs up the crossbow in the cupboard so that it fires as soon as the door opens. He tests it out and an arrow hits the bedpost just as Arthur walks in. As Arthur prattles away, Merlin hides the evidence.
Outside by the pig-pen Guinevere notices a group of people clustered around the dead pigs, and takes some of the poisoned food to Gaius. Between the two of them, they realize that Merlin is trying to assassinate Arthur. On their way up to Arthurís room they come across Sir Leon and learn that Merlin is in possession of a crossbow.
Merlin resets the trap as Arthur readies himself for the knighting ceremony, talking about possibilities as to who could be the traitor. Merlin urges him to get dressed, but the trap doesnít activate when Arthur opens the door. Arthur heads back behind the screen to dress, and Merlin narrowly dodges the bolt when he opens the cupboard. Arthur then asks for his ceremonial sword and Merlinís eyes light up. Gaius and Gwen burst into the room just as Merlin attacks Arthur from behind, only for him to race headfirst into a pillar and knock himself out. Gwen and Gaius look on in astonishment as Arthur retrieves his sword from the unconscious Merlin on the floor and casually exits the room. Seeing Merlin wake up, Gwen grabs a nearby water pitcher and hits him over the head with it.
Down in the physicianís quarters, Gaius has figured out whatís wrong with Merlin, and with Gwenís help he removes the Formorra head from the back of Merlinís neck, first by paralysing it, then by cutting it out.
Up in his uncleís office, Arthur approaches Agravaine.
Arthur: I have been looking into how the mercenaries discovered the route through the forest. None of the knights had the opportunity to betray me. Iíve questioned the councillors, only three of them were aware of the treaty. Of those, none but yourself knew of the route I was planning to take.
Agravaine: Are you seriously suggesting Ė
Arthur: It brings me no pleasure to doubt you, uncle.
Agravaine: Then let me reassure you, that you have no reason to doubt. You are all that is left of my dear sister. If I betray you, Arthur, I betray her, and that I will never do. There is one other person who knew your route. Gaius.
Merlin comes down from his room the following morning, looking remarkably cheerful, but Gaiusís delight is short-lived when he sees the Formorra head squirming around the back of Merlinís neck.
Behind the screen in his room, Arthur is undressing as Merlin prepares his bath, filling it full of a powder that causes a sword to freeze when he dips it into the water. Gaius and Gwen burst into the room just in time to see Merlin brandishing the sword. Gwen knocks him out with the water pitcher, causing him to fall backwards into Gaiusís arms just as Arthur emerges from behind the screen in his birthday suit.
Gaius conceals Merlin behind a curtain as Arthur conceals himself behind a pillow. Gwen blabbers that the bathwater is too cold and that Arthur canít have a bath today. Bewildered, Arthur looks from Gaius to Gwen, and then slowly crab-walks back behind the screen.
Once again Gaius paralyses the Formorra and waves a potion under Merlinís nose to wake him up.
Over dinner, Merlin and Gaius come up with a plan. While the serpent is dormant, Merlin will disguise himself as Dragoon and kill the mother-beast, thereby destroying the head that still lingers in his head Ė though heís only got a day. Gaius will cover for him in his absence, though Merlin reminds him not to use the tavern as an excuse.
Merlin takes a horse out to the forest and goes behind a tree to turn into Dragoon Ė only to find on his return that he no longer has the strength to mount. He turns around to see that the knights have found him (somehow) and they surround him with their swords unsheathed. Merlin makes short work of them with his magic, and even uses their bodies as a staircase with which to reach his horse.
In Morganaís hovel, she is becoming increasingly impatient with Agravaineís visits and his lack of good news. Though he tells her that heís implicated Gaius in treachery, Morgana is uninterested.
Merlin arrives at the hovel just in time to see Agravaine leaving and Morgana head away in the opposite direction. He enters the hut and begins to search the place for the Formorra, only to be interrupted by Morganaís return. She looks at him in terror and flees. Merlin continues his search and finds the jar that has the Formorra floating inside it, just as Morgana returns and draws a knife on him, clearly terrified.
Morgana: Youíre just my imagination.
Merlin: Thatís right. Iím not really here, just pretend that Iím not really here, and Iíll just get this and go.
Merlin uses magic to throw her against a shelf and makes a run for it. Morgana follows and sends him hurtling into the air with her own spell. The jar with the Formorra flies down the leafy slope and Morgana approaches ďEmrysĒ with her knife raised. She prepares to stab him when once again Merlin sends her flying backwards. As he approaches she pulls a classic Decoy Damsel
, telling him that people who use magic will never be safe until sheís on the throne. As soon as heís distracted she levitates the knife toward them. Merlin dodges and she throws him to the ground, picking up the jar and making a run for it.
Finally Merlin conjures a whirlwind that lifts Morgana up off the ground despite her attempts to ward it off. She is flung through the air and lands unconscious on the ground.
Having retrieved the Formorra, Merlin conjures a fire and burns it on the flames, feeling the stray head in the back of his neck die.
Back in the physicianís quarters, Gaius removes the dead head just as Gwen enters the room, happy that Merlin is back but informing him that Arthur wants to see him.Arthur asks Merlin why he should bother keeping him around when he has a manservant as effective as George around, informing Merlin that heís going to be taking a few lessons from him if he wants to stay in Arthurís service.
Merlin: Tell me something Ė if heís so good, why donít you just give him the job?
Arthur: Heís seriously boring, Iíve never met anyone so dull. The man makes jokes about brass. Anyway, off you go. Itíll be fun.
Agravaine gallops out to the forest, and looks surprisingly distraught at the state of Morganaís hovel. He goes looking for her and discovers her unconscious body laying against a tree. Looking tearful, he gently carries her back to her home.