Title: The World Was a Roar
Character/s: Arthur, Percival, Gwen
Summary: Arthur comes around after a battle.
Word Count: 654
Prompt: #428, I awoke to darkness.
Author's Notes: This is more of a mood thing rather than a complete story. I got stuck on the imagery and wanted to get it down.
The world was a roar, dull and throbbing. It pulsed behind his eyes, beneath his skin, into his teeth, driving him to the brink of madness, only to ebb away when darkness momentarily won out again. Arthur blessed the void that rescued him, though its relief didn't seem to last very long. Each time it returned, he wanted to claw at his body, as if he could peel away the flesh that got in its way and let the roaring free. But the first time he tried it, his entire side screamed in agony.
He might have screamed, too.
The void was swift to rush in after that, but when he woke up again, he could have sworn a new whisper had joined the cacophony. This was softer, gentler, soothing at the ragged edge of his senses. A rumble punctuated its lapses, but that was different, too. Warmth was there, a knowing deep in his gut. Together, they created new sounds to help vanquish the pain.
He tried opening his eyes once. He thought he'd succeeded except he was blanketed in darkness, with only the occasional flashes of gold dancing at the periphery. Turning his head toward them failed, so maybe he wasn't awake, maybe this was all just one prolonged nightmare he had to find a way to wake out of. He didn't remember falling asleep, though. He remembered the call to arms, the cloaked figures rising out of the sea without a drop of water on them, the shadow on the finger of sand who seemed to be orchestrating the attack. He'd maneuvered through the enemy even when the ground shook beneath his feet, and found himself alone at the verge of the water, cornered and facing down more than his share of opponents.
Was he dead? Was that what this was? He'd been outnumbered. The enemy fought well, too, trained that way or guided by magic, he had no idea. One wrong slip of a blade. That was all it took.
But death should've meant the absence of pain, not this neverending whirlwind. And when he tried to take a deep breath, he could hear the ragged gasps he made, followed almost immediately by the whisper or rumble.
Not dead, then. Dying, perhaps.
Once, wetness touched his lips. Water trickled through the corner, dripping to the back of his throat until he had to swallow or risk choking. The moment he did, more came, along with tender strokes along the side of his face. He drank it down, then sputtered when it cut off his air.
Something hard and long slid beneath his shoulders and lifted him up so his throat smoothed and he could swallow again. The rumble returned, only now, its familiarity rang clearer. Images of sunlight and swords supplanted the roar, and he knew before the gentle whispers responded who exactly it was.
With his airwaves open, he was laid down again. The void threatened to lure him in, but now he had reason to brave the pain and the red and the heat. Percival was here, and Gwen of the tender touch, which could only mean he was back in Camelot or on his way.
Though it took more strength than he would've expected, he swiped his tongue across his lower lip, skidding across its dry, cracked surface.
"You need to rest, Arthur." Her words came from a distance, but at least he recognized it as speech, could separate the sounds better to understand their meaning. "Please. You need to heal."
He wanted to see her, her smile, the way the light gilded her hair when it tumbled over her face. But opening his eyes was harder than licking his lips had been, and he gave up with a heavy exhalation, grateful at least he could feel her fingertips where they caressed his brow.
The rhythm of their low voices soothed him to sleep.