Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Artos wasn’t in the mood for a smelly sheep herder to give him a hard time.
Word Count: 1013
Camelot_drabble Prompt: 366 – Historical AU
Author's Notes: Roman Britain approximately 75 AD
Disclaimer: Merlin characters are the property of Shine and BBC. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
The AO3 link has a longer version.
Annoyed with what the Fates had handed him, oh for the warmth and soft breezes of Ostia, Artos had grown sloppy. So it was a bit of a surprise to find the smell of sheep teasing his nose as the prisoner started toward him, iron cuffs rattling hard.
There were curses in some indescribable barbarian tongue that was an affront to every civilized Roman, and the boy shoving his hands at Artos. Not to be outdone, he really didn’t have time for this, Artos stood up, shoving the prisoner’s hands aside, then kicking out, watching as the boy fell into the dirt at his feet.
It would have been laughable watching some sheep herder rage at him, but even as the boy tried to struggle to rise, he was kicking at Artos’s legs, and looking highly affronted. The iron chain was rattling, too, a curious counterpoint to the ferocious sounds - curses or obscenities that Artos wasn’t sure about but it didn’t sound very pleasant coming out of the boy’s mouth.
Artos had had enough. He swept the boy’s feet again, that scrawny fool hitting the ground with a hard thump, and then Artos sat on him, capturing his wrists and shoving them and the iron cuffs into the dirt over his head.
Ignoring the thrusts upward and the way the boy kept twisting to get away, Artos said, “I will let you up if you behave. Otherwise, I will give you over to my men and we’ll see how well you do with them. They’ve not seen a woman in a while and a boy will do just as well.”
Something must have gotten through. The boy suddenly stilled, eyes going wide, then narrowing, as he said, in passible Latin, “You wouldn’t dare.”
Artos laughed. “So you do understand me.” He leaned down, pressing hard, feeling the bones of the boy’s wrists shifting a little. “And what use of you are to me that I wouldn’t whore you out. You are pretty enough under all that sheep dung.”
“You arse, I’m Myrddin.” The boy gave another shove upward, then lay there panting.
He said it as if Artos should know and be wonderstruck, but Artos was tired and not a little annoyed. “So, Myrddin, are you my bedwarmer for the night?” When Myrddin just glared up at him, sputtering barbaric curses again, Artos said, “While you do have certain charms and I’m sure you would clean up with a good dunking and a bit of a scrub, I really don’t want to end up with a knife in my gut.”
Myrddin stopped fighting. Glaring up at Artos, he said, slowly, distinctly, looking as if he was ready to kill him, “I… am… Myrddin…, your… soothsayer. You arse.”
Scowling down at him, Artos said, “You don’t look like a soothsayer. Where’s your beard and pointy hat?”
“How you survived this long is beyond me. You are unbelievable.” Myrddin narrowed his eyes. “I am in disguise, dollophead.” And then he let out another string of gibberish that was clearly not Latin.
It was always possible that this Myrddin was telling the truth. His uncle had said something about a sorcerer or soothsayer being sent to Artos’s fort, but the only ones Artos knew of were old and always spouting off nonsense.
But it might be true.
Knowing that he could take Myrddin down with one blow, no matter if he were a soothsayer or traitor or unwashed peasant, he climbed off him and pulled him to his feet. Surprisingly, the idiot was as tall as Artos, and not unpleasing to the eye, either. But Artos had more important things to think about than sex and how he hadn’t had any in months.
“Why would I believe you? Other than your obvious talent for babbling, I’ve seen no evidence of skill.”
“Your idiot troops put me in iron.” Myrddin rattled his chains. “Get them off me and I’ll show you what I can do.”
Artos looked at him a moment, then pulled out a key and undid the locks. After all, he was the best warrior in the legion and no sheep herder would be able to best him.
As the chains fell, they seemed to hover a moment before clanging at Artos’s feet. He couldn’t believe what he’d seen, but then as he glanced up at Myrddin, those blue eyes of his were fading gold.
He took a step back, worried. He’d heard about sorcerers, that they could take over your mind, that they could make you dance a jig or fall in love.
But Myrddin still smelled of sheep dung and he didn’t send any magic toward Artos. He seemed harmless and rather ridiculous.
“Now, I’ve entrails to look at. You can either bring me a sheep or you could volunteer yourself. Doesn’t matter to me.” Myrddin was brushing off his soiled tunic, then he stood up, putting hands on hips, glaring. “Well, hurry up. I’ve not got all day.” Then when Artos glared back, Myrddin looked at Artos, taking in his leather tunic and dusty sandals, then stared at his mouth a long long moment before sending Artos a decadent smile.
“Besides, I’ve a bed to warm tonight. The legion’s commander, I’ve heard, hasn’t had any in months.” Myrddin moved closer, pressed one hand on Artos’s chest, then leaned in for a long, indecent kiss.
Artos could have protested, could have asked what solder in his command was telling filthy lies, but Myrddin did something with his tongue and suddenly things were looking up in Britannia.
Entrails could wait for another day.