Title: Execution Drums
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: " - if you asked me to. I would."
Warnings: Dark!Merlin, implied minor (OC) character death
Word Count: 591
Prompt: #057 Dance
Author's Notes: I hope I haven't flown off on a tangent with characterisation...
A gust of wind blew in, howling and screaming as it swept down the dimly lit corridor, and the torches hung on the wall swayed and fluttered. The one behind the warlock's head clattered as its weakened, old bolts shuddered in the ominous draft, and the golden halo glowing behind his sticky raven head flickered for half a second. The shine of his eyes never ceased however, and the man gasping on his knees before the dark shadow whimpered and started to heave deep, retching sobs.
"Merlin," breathed Arthur, half crouched just out of sight, one hand splayed rigidly against the cold enclosure of the castle dungeon. His sword was tight in his grasp but his hands were sweaty and the blade pointed downwards; he was hunched, as if crippled under the weight of his torn cloak and dented armour, but his gaze was steady, even if his mind couldn't comprehend what his eyes dared not to see. "Don't."
"I could," muttered Merlin, cool voice suppressive and smooth. His stare didn't falter and his head didn't turn. "He'd hop and jump and flail around - "
A beg broke through his fantasies, but whose trembling lips it had left was lost as the heavy oak doors groaned and moaned as another chilling wail battered against it, ghostly hands scrabbling through the gaps and cracks.
" - if you asked me to. I would."
Excalibur scraped along the stone ground, the noise sharp and grating as Arthur shuddered, shaking his head. Merlin didn't even blink at the sound, safe with the knowledge that such a weapon would never be lifted against him, or perhaps would never manage to break his impermeable, invisible shield if it was. He reached out and threaded his bony white fingers through the hair of the villain choking on the last of his time, stroking it softly with a satisfied hum. A small smile quirked at the edge of his mouth, pinching his lifeless face and causing the fire burning in his eyes to gleam.
"Merlin," Arthur whispered again, as if that was the only word his tongue would release. "Merlin."
The warlock obediently turned at the call, and his smile split open on his face, tearing away the blood and sweat that was splattered across his pale complexion. It caused the King still knelt on the ground to falter, just for a moment, and Merlin narrowed his eyes at the action, face dropping. The third man whimpered. His head was patted in apology.
"He hurt you," hissed Merlin, glowering at Arthur's stricken gaze. "He made you - he made you - " He spun away from Arthur and tugged the enemy's hair sharply, practically spitting. "How would you like it?" He tugged again, forcing the man to look up at him. "How would you like it?"
"P - please!" the man sobbed hysterically, trying desperately to escape from Merlin's hold. "I didn't - didn't mean it! Just let me go, I won't - "
Arthur cried a warning, a command, a plea, all of the above - but it didn't matter - it was too late - and all of the torches lining the wall were extinguished in a furious intake of breath. The only light left in the corridor flashed once, molten gold bright enough to quell the sun, before darkness plummeted down upon them as the man's jerking body crumbled against the floor.
A childish laugh filled the abyss. The deep, resounding echo was like a beat of execution drums.