Title: No Escape
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur
Summary: How long had he been held prisoner for now? He had no idea.
Warnings: torture, strongly implied rape/non-con
Word Count: 999
Prompt: #71 Despair
Author's Notes: Well this is rather dramatic.
It was the only emotion that he was capable of feeling now. He didn’t see the point in wasting the emotions on anything else, not considering the position he was in. There was no escape, there would be no escape. How long had it been now? A month? Two? Maybe even longer? He had lost track of time weeks ago, ever since they had locked him in this tiny cell.
There were no windows and a heavily barred door. That might not have normally been enough to stop him, apart from the cold iron cuffs locked around his wrists. Heavy chains ran from the cuffs and shackled him to a wall, locked into a ring that looked to be sitting on some sort of groove. He didn’t know how it worked, just knew that when the lever on the outside of his cell was pulled, the ring ran up the groove and into the ceiling, yanking him up and making it so his toes barely touched the ground.
They liked doing that. That liked him dangling there, helpless, as they slowly broke him down. He was still defiant. He knew the cuffs hadn’t ripped his magic from him, it had just buried it deep down. His own despair was helping to lock it down further, not seeing the point of fighting back any longer. He had once dreamed of escape, of blasting them all away from him. Of severing their rough hands as they pinched his body, causing him agony as they took their pleasure. Of burning all the whips, destroying all the chains and other devices they had used to try and get him to pledge allegiance.
He didn’t know who had sold him out, who had tipped off Cendred’s men that there was a warlock living in Ealdor. The king had never shown any interest in their village until that day, when he had rode through with his soldiers, burning and murdering as they went. His mother had tried to get him out, to protect her only son. Bile rose in his mouth as he recalled the way they had barely even seen the blade coming until she had collapsed. That had been when they had caught him, when he desperately tried to save his mother.
A hand had snagged the back of his collar, choking him as he was pulled up over a horse. The king himself had pushed him from the beast when they made camp, securing the iron around his limbs and stripping his clothes and his innocence in one movement.
Merlin shook as he thought about that day, trying to stop the chains from rattling. They liked it when they saw that he was afraid despite the fact that he refused to pledge his allegiance. They wanted his magic to swear it, it wouldn’t be an oath he could break. There would be no pretending; he had to mean it to get out of this cell.
But his mother had made him swear to stay true to himself. They had made a very big mistake taking him by force, for the anger he felt over what they had done to his family and friends, never mind him, kept him fighting.
The cell door opened at the same time as the contraption moved and he was hauled to his feet. Two soldiers walked in, one gagging him while the other inspected the barely healed whip marks on his back and the top of his legs. Whatever story they had heard about his magic, they clearly believed that he was powerful enough to go to all of this effort. They wouldn’t let him go, but they wouldn’t let him die either.
Once the soldiers knew he was secured, they backed out.
Merlin breathed heavily through the gag, knowing what was coming.
Barely any time later, he had a long burn across his torso and his arse feeling like it had been torn open all over again as the commander laced up his breeches and undid the gag, sneering. Merlin knew what he was about to ask, it was the same question every day. So rather than waiting for it, the warlock simply spat. It earned him an immediate backhander that left his head snapping to the side and the commander breathing heavily.
“If you won’t use that pretty mouth to swear allegiance to the king, maybe I’ll put it to a better use.” He nodded and the chain slipped back down the wall. Merlin dropped to his knees and the man seized his neck, forcing his mouth open at the same time. It wouldn’t be the first time, but still Merlin whimpered.
“Pick on someone your own size, would you?” A voice called, and the commander pulled away. He left the cell, slamming the door behind him. Merlin forced himself to crawl over to the bars, his hands gripping them as he peered out.
For the first time since being here, there was another prisoner. He looked to be a few years older, well built with blond hair that seemed to shine even in the darkness of the cell. He had four men trying to keep him still long enough to chain, despite them having already shackled his feet. This man was a fighter and part of Merlin wanted to congratulate him and part of him wanted to tell him to give in. The man had no idea what was coming to him unless he gave into their demands.
But even as they ripped his shirt off and the commander uncurled a whip, Merlin couldn’t move away from the door. The man gave no signs of pain apart from a flickering in his eyes as he was brutally lashed, and instead Merlin found that he was meeting the man’s gaze across the cells, holding it and giving him a grounding point through the whipping.
For the first time in weeks, despair wasn’t all he was feeling. Hope had once again ignited in his soul.