Title: The Fairies' Curse
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin if you squint
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: Arthur and Merlin are attacked by bandits, but a completely different and unexpected danger also presents itself
Word Count: 300
Prompt: 463 'Ring'
Author's Notes: Canon-based triple drabble. The superstitions surrounding so-called fairy rings are many and varied, - the wikipedia page on this subject makes for an interesting read.
The Fairies' Curse
The attack came out of nowhere, a number of battle-scarred bandits launching themselves at Arthur and Merlin with loud yells. Arthur reacted instinctively, pushing Merlin to the ground and moving to protect him. He confronted the assailants with sword-skill and courage. It wasn't long before the woodland clearing's green grass was spattered with red.
The men fled, but the last attacker stumbled. He somehow managed to shove Arthur away, before he, too, turned and ran. Arthur made several involuntary steps backwards and landed on his arse in the grass a little way from Merlin.
Merlin had jumped to his feet, magic at the ready. "Are you wounded?" he asked, surveying the scene.
"I'm all right." Wiping sweat off his brow, Arthur got up and planted his sword in the ground. "Never you worry."
All at once, Merlin turned very pale. Without a word, he pointed to Arthur's feet.
Right in front of the prince was a distinct curving line of darker, longer grass - part of a full circle. He had stepped into a fairy ring.
Arthur grimaced, exasperated. "Don't be such a girl's blouse, Merlin. Yes, I see the ring. Fairies have been dancing here once, but it's empty now. There are no pixies here, I haven't gone mad, everything's fine. Forget your childhood superstitions and your mum's scary tales."
Merlin nodded. "As you say." There was a slight tremor to his voice, and Arthur rolled his eyes.
They continued on their way. Arthur wanted to discuss the bandits and where their lair might be, but Merlin was silent and distracted. He looked at Arthur, and his heart ached with foreboding.
Back home in Ealdor, everyone knew all too well that he who steps into an empty fairy ring is cursed to die at a young age.