elfflame

May 2016

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Finding King Arthur - Part 16

Title: Finding King Arthur (temporary until I find something better)
Author: [info]elfflame
Fandom: Merlin (BBC)
Rating: R-ish (leaning towards NC-17) now.
Summary: Things have gone bad in Camelot.  Arthur has been missing for a year, and Uther and Gaius have been poisoned.  Merlin and the knights of Camelot set out to find their Prince before the kingdom can be claimed by Morgana.
Warnings: Death (not Merlin or Arthur), minor spoilers for season 3.
A/N: Went for a visit yesterday, so no worcount from then, but I'm still well on track.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10
Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15


If Merlin had thought things were mad before, he'd had no clue. It was little different from watching a true battle—aside from the flags and markers that bordered the field to keep the men within the bounds. Shouts and clangs came from the field, making him wince.

He glanced toward where Arthur stood, frowning. Maybe this was a bad idea. He knew Arthur wanted everyone to get a good look at him, but maybe this wasn't the way to do it? What if someone got in a lucky blow? What if he were badly hurt by one of the brutes he'd be fighting against?

"Stop worrying, Merlin," Gwen said, giving his arm a squeeze. "He'll do fine. He has Excalibur, after all."

Merlin nodded, but he couldn't stop thinking of just how many ways this could all go seriously wrong.

The first men being led off the field helped to distract him. Most received little more than superficial wounds, but often they needed help to get armor off so that Elaine could get at the wound in question, and many needed water to rehydrate.

By the time the battle was over, Merlin was so distracted, he hadn't thought to look up for several hours, and he was unprepared to hear the seneschal's voice announcing the next battle.

Merlin looked up to watch the first set of fighters receive their nod from Morgana before leaving the field, and then the next group was slowly let onto the field, Arthur, Gwaine and Lancelot among them. Merlin shifted nervously. What if something happened to Arthur?

"Lancelot won't let anything happen to him," Gwen said.

When had she shown up? Merlin turned to her. "I know. It's…I'm just nervous for him."

She nodded. "Me too. For all of them." She glanced toward Morgana, who was looking down her nose at Arthur and not-quite sneering.

When the melee began, the three men moved back-to back, each tackling those who came toward them, but otherwise not moving from where they stood on the field.

"Clever…" Gwen said with a smile. "I suppose that's why they're so good…"

Merlin nodded, then turned to help as men came to the tent from the field, the major wounds more prevalent this time. But at least it was unlikely that Arthur would be here. It helped. A little.

Even as he worked, he could hear the cheers from the people watching. He wanted to turn to look, but knew it was best if he didn't. Elaine needed all the help she could get.

He could tell the battle was over when a great roar came from the stands around the field, but he finished bandaging the fighter he'd been helping before going to see. Arthur and the others stood together as the seneschal announced them to Morgana. She barely nodded at them, and they walked off the field together, looking triumphant.

Merlin hurried to meet them. "You did it!"

"You had doubts, Merlin?" Gwaine asked. "How could we fail?"

Arthur looked happy, but Merlin could see something in his eyes. "Arthur?"

"I'll be okay. Can you help me with all this?" Merlin looked back towards the tent, which was getting more crowded with each battle, then turned back to Arthur. "Yeah, but then I should get back and help Elaine with the next battle…"

Arthur smiled. "Thanks, Merlin."


Twenty-Three
Ambushed

After helping Arthur with his armor, Merlin hurried back toward the tent, but before he got more than halfway, a cloaked figure stepped into his path. He couldn't see the face, but the dagger pressing into his back told him not to look too close.

Rather than speaking, the person nodded toward a nearby tent, and Merlin moved towards it, his mind already searching for the best spells to get out of whatever trap this person might have waiting for him.

Inside the tent, the cloaked person pulled down their hood, and Merlin hated how surprised he was at who it was. "Morgause."

She smirked. "Expecting someone else?"

He tried to glare at her, but either he didn't quite manage in his surprise, or she was unaffected by the look. "No. I suppose I just expected Morgana to threaten me all on her own. Not send a lackey."

She frowned. "I'm no lackey, and you know it, Merlin. And your little princeling had better watch out. If he wants to live, I'd suggest you get him out of here, Merlin. If not…"

Merlin managed a laugh at that. "You honestly think I could convince him not to fight, now that he's won a round?" He shook his head. "Perhaps Morgana hasn't mentioned how stubborn he is?"

She raised her chin. "Perhaps you'd rather see him dragged through the town in chains, then? I'm certain Morgana will not treat him well once she's been given the throne…"

"Ah, but now that Arthur is here, I think you'll find that's far less likely. Don't you?"

"A prince who hasn't even gone to his father's ministers? Who hasn't tried to get her tossed aside in his favor? And sneaking around like he knows he's not the true heir?" She smirked. "No. I can't say I do. I'd say that Morgana's claim is far more secure now than before. So…this is your only chance, Merlin. Get him out of here. Before something happens to him."

Merlin shook his head. "Thank you for your warning. I'll take it under advisement. But I doubt anything I say will change his mind. Was that all?"

She narrowed his eyes. "You take this far too lightly, Merlin. Surely you would rather see the right person on the throne? One who will work to make certain all are happy?"

"Yes. I do, in fact. And I'll do everything in my power to make sure he gets there," Merlin told her.

"Then I would advise you to watch your step. The little people are likely to be squashed even more vigorously once he is king," she growled.

"I think you don't know him as well as you think, Morgause. Too bad you never bothered looking beyond the surface. Arthur isn't his father. And I doubt he ever will be."

The memory of Arthur attacking Uther, of how Merlin had had to lie to him to keep him from killing him… It hurt. But he knew it had been the right thing to do. Unlike Morgause's lies.

She scowled, then her eyes glowed, and Merlin felt his arms bound from behind.

"If you will not help us…nor will you help him," she told him. "I had hoped that someone he had badly used might understand, but I see it was too much to hope for. Too bad." She nodded to whoever was holding the dagger behind him. "Keep him here. I'll have to deal with Arthur myself."

The words had panic flooding through him. He couldn't allow her to hurt Arthur. But he also didn't want to give away his magic, either. He didn't want to give them any reason to kill him in public. Not only just because he didn’t' want to die, but because he didn't want Arthur to have to suffer from seeing it. Well, okay, he just didn't want to die, regardless. But what could he do?

"If you change your mind, Merlin…do let my man here know. He knows how to call me back. Otherwise…I suppose you'll be released when it's coronation day…" She smirked, then nodded to the man behind Merlin once more. That done, she drew up her hood and left the two alone.

Merlin tried to catch a glimpse of the man behind him, but either they were invisible, or fast, and he couldn't catch a glimpse of him. He could still feel the dagger, though, and that was enough to have him immobilized for now.

Frantic, Merlin tried to think what to do to get free without revealing his magic to the man behind him. When the thought came to him, it seemed to obvious. Merlin might have worried about why if he hadn't been frantic to get free. Instead he focused on a spell to make the man behind him sleep, whispering the words of the remembered spell under his breath.

When the dagger remained pressing into Merlin's back after a minute, Merlin knew something was wrong. Any human would be out cold by now… Surely?

Merlin turned again, this time not bothering to be careful. If the dagger was real, it wasn't likely held by a human, and he'd be able to stop before it could do any real damage. He looked around, and nothing. And still, he could feel the dagger still pressed against his back.

Huffing, he canceled whatever spell was holding it there, eyes widening when he felt a rush of magic zoom past him. "Fuck…" She'd tricked him. She hadn't meant to hold him here, but to find out if he had magic. And he'd just given her the answer.

Quickly he unbound himself and hurried back to Arthur's tent, hoping that Arthur, at least, was safe.

Lancelot, Arthur, and Gwain looked startled when he burst in.

"Merlin? I thought you were going to help Elaine?" Arthur asked.

Lancelot frowned. "What happened? Is Gwen all right?"

Merlin nodded to both of them, drinking in Arthur for a moment. "Morgause. She…tricked me," he said, still meeting Arthur's eyes.

And now that he knew for sure, he felt so stupid. How could he have fallen for such a simple ruse? But then, everything was different. Had been since Arthur had first disappeared.

"Tricked you?" Arthur asked. "Tricked you how?"

"She knows. About my magic. Trapped me somewhere and made me think she was going after you next…so that I'd try to escape without…thinking things through." He swallowed. He wouldn't be surprised if Arthur'd been furious with him. Wouldn't even blame him for whatever he might do.

He certainly wasn't expecting Arthur to begin feeling him down in front of Gwaine and Lancelot. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine. It turned out to be an illusion. She set it up to…find out about my magic, that's all, Arthur."

Arthur met his eyes. "I'm glad you're all right."

"But…she knows, Arthur!"

He snorted. "And what difference will that make? She can't exactly use it against you…"

"She can! She can tell Morgana, who can have me put to death!"

"With what proof? No one's going to believe anything that Morgause says, and…"

"They don't need proof! All they need is the accusation!"

"Merlin! It's all right! It won't happen. All right?"

Gwaine nodded. "Arthur's right. They might know now, but they've got no time to use it against you. Not before the final battle. And too many people in the stands today were already shouting for Arthur. She's lost. She might not want to admit it yet, but it's true."

Merlin met Arthur's eyes, but he saw none of the worry he felt himself there. "We need to be careful. She's not just going to give up without a fight," he said.

"I know that, Merlin. But we'll manage." Arthur smiled. "This is my kingdom, and the people know it."

Sighing, Merlin nodded. He didn't really feel better, though. This wasn't over. Not by a long shot. "So…I guess…I should go check and see if Elaine needs help."

Arthur nodded. "Take Lancelot with you. He can make sure they don't try anything else."

Merlin nodded, then glanced at Gwaine. "But if anything happens to Arthur while we're gone…"

Gwaine grinned. "Like I'd let that happen, Merlin."

"Better not. You wouldn't want a wizard angry at you…" Merlin smirked, then turned to Lancelot. "Let's get back before the melee's over?"

Lance nodded and followed him out of the tent.


Next Part


27818 / 50000 words. 56% done!

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