Title: The World We Build Together
Character/s: King Lot, Arthur, Merlin, Annis, Godwyn, Bayard, Alined
Summary: King Lot is determined that there shall never be peace in Albion. He'll do whatever it takes to stop it.
Warnings: Minor Character death
Word Count: 1575 (oops, sorry...)
Prompt: 80 Wrath
Author's Notes: Thanks to deinonychus_1 for the beta. Also fills Trope Bingo square Trust and Vows.
The World We Build Together
He was a fool, the young king of Camelot.
In the few short years of Arthur's reign, he'd made many changes to his father's kingdom. Most shocking of those was the lifting of the ban on magic. Uther would probably be turning in his grave. Arthur was talking about it now, bleating on about it being used for good and the benefits it had wrought in Camelot. King Lot fixed Arthur with a sceptical glare, and fancied that he saw a reaction. It was tiny, barely perceptible, but it was there. A weakness, he decided, one he could exploit if he needed to. Not that there was likely to be any time for that.
The growing strength of Camelot was the talk of Albion, too many kingdoms were allied to her for him to ignore Arthur's requests for a peace summit any longer. Lot didn't do peace. He did invasions, expansions of his own kingdom and kept himself to himself at all other times. Some of the other leaders, ones he had expected to be as warlike as himself were gathered there now, talking of peace. The very idea infuriated him. There would never be peace in Albion, not while there was breath in Lot's body. Peace meant trading instead of taking, it meant not being able to force your people to do whatever you wanted, raise your taxes as high as you liked because those other kingdoms, those allies, would all frown on you, try to dissuade you.
Toothless idiots. As if they'd ever be able to stop Lot doing as he wished. They'd pay for even trying, for letting him in, trusting him.
Queen Annis was there at the young king's side. Another fool. Pendragon had killed her husband and yet there she sat, Caerleon already allied with Camelot. Did she think she could link herself further, bind the kingdoms together in a new marriage? Lot doubted it, even if she had been the youngest and most beautiful of queens. He had heard the rumours about the king and his servant, and he saw the looks that passed between them. It was as though Arthur looked to him for approval. A servant.
The servant in question was from Essetir originally, apparently, his mother lived in a small village Lot couldn't even recall the name of. He didn't seem to be doing much serving, either, just standing beside the king's chair most of the time. Lot didn't think he'd seen him do so much as fill a goblet. Sweet justice then, if Lot managed to frame the lazy servant when he carried out his plan. Royal bedwarmers always thought too highly of themselves in Lot's opinion. It was why he kept a harem of them, virtual slaves who would never make that mistake and knew they were disposable.
The new treaty was moving around the table, not down it, like any sensible discussion table. Lot would have expected to be placed at the very top in recognition of his importance. No, this idiotic circular thing had him on equal footing with the likes of Godwyn and his tiny kingdom. Ridiculous.
Godwyn was signing it now, as if what he did mattered. Lot could have overrun his lands in days if he'd cared to. They weren't worth it.
Bayard took up the quill next. It was unforgivable. They'd practically been allies once, and now he was signing up to this pathetic treaty. Essetir and Mercia together would have been unstoppable. Mercia by itself was vast enough that Bayard could stand alone if he wanted to. Small wonder Bayard looked uncomfortable as he pushed the parchment towards Lot. Probably ashamed, Lot thought.
Lot signed it himself then pushed it towards Alined. Another one who should know better but seemed to be continually signing treaties with pacifists. Still, it meant nothing. The parchment would be in shreds before the hour was up. Time to act.
Still biding his time, holding back his anger, he called to Arthur's servant. It was infuriating to see one of his own countrymen look to Camelot's king for agreement before hurrying over. The servant would pay for that slight.
"This is Essetir's finest mead." Lot held up two bottles. "We should toast this great day, when the dream of a united Albion has come so close! See to it!"
It was a simple matter, to slip an antidote into his own goblet once it was filled. Everyone was watching the treaty being signed. It was justice if all the other soft-hearted fools died alongside Arthur. They wanted a united Albion, and if Lot was the only one left standing then a united Albion would be what they got.
And then, suddenly, the goblet was in his lap and he was soaked.
"I'm sorry my lord," Arthur's servant scrambled to clean up the mess. "Here, let me pour you another."
"You idiot! I'll have you flogged!" Lot roared, getting to his feet.
The young man was still gabbling his apologies, desperately trying to mop him down. Another servant had provided a fresh goblet and was hurriedly pouring it out.
Around the table, the mead was still being poured. All was not lost. Arthur would make the toast and drink first, Lot just had to wait.
"Get back over here, Merlin!" Arthur snarled. "King Lot, I can only apologise. My servant is beyond clumsy. We don't usually allow him near the wine."
"I want him whipped!" Lot snarled.
Arthur didn't, Lot could see that from the look on his face. A fool, just as Lot had supposed. Servants were expendable, particularly that sort.
"He'll be punished. Please, don't let this sour the occasion. You were going to raise a toast?"
He was, but not now that the antidote was gone. "Of course. Though this is your alliance, you should do it."
That servant, the clumsy oaf, was back at Arthur's side. And he'd said something to the king. Something dark flitted across Arthur's face, and then the pleasant facade was back. Just for a moment there had been something in his expression that might have made him a worthy ally. The servant had seen, he must have done. The spillage had been no clumsy accident.
"Oh no, that would be unworthy of me. We are all equals in this alliance. You have generously brought the mead, which is famed throughout Albion. Please, we would all be honoured if you would do this."
There were murmurs of assent around the table. Alined, Lot noticed, was frowning at him. It took a trickster to spot another.
Lot looked at the full goblet in front of him, the golden mead sparkling within. The poison it was infused with was lethal stuff. If just a few drops passed his lips he'd be a dead man. It wasn't worth the risk of pretending to drink it.
"Is something the matter, Lot?" Annis enquired.
"You seem reluctant," Arthur added. "You're not a man I would expect to be reticent. Please, we would love to hear your toast. Perhaps if you took a sip of the mead first. I hear it can loosen the tongue."
He was caught. Lot didn't need to look round to hear the guards barring the door, reacting to some small signal from their king. The other leaders were shifting nervously now. Bayard sniffed at the mead suspiciously, then pushed it away.
"Would you poison us all, Lot?" Arthur asked. "Are you so against peace that you would betray our trust rather than vow to stand united with us all?"
"You're nothing but a weak and foolish boy!" Lot snarled. He knew he'd lost and might well not make it out alive. Bayard and Alined had moved swiftly away from him. He should have been faster there, taken hostages. "You'll end up betrayed, gutted and thrown in a ditch before you're one and thirty, your father's kingdom gone."
"Perhaps. But you won't see the morning."
Of course he wouldn't. Even a weak king couldn't allow him to live after this.
"My sons will avenge me."
"If your sons have any sense they'll join this alliance," Godwyn told him.
It depended which son won the crown. They were all almost as stupid as Arthur and would likely wipe each other out in their haste for the crown. "So what's it to be? Fire? Beheading?"
Arthur shook his head, then gestured to that wretched servant to step forward. The man had been standing next to Arthur, his expression thunderous. Probably worried he'd lose his position if anything happened to Arthur. As he approached Lot, the anger didn't fade. Still, he was just a serving boy.
Lot raised an eyebrow. "Your manservant? That's the best you can do?"
Arthur looked at his manservant with a gaze far beyond just fond. "It is, yes."
Lot's last thought was how curious it was that the servant's eyes seemed to be glowing gold, just for a moment.
Arthur looked at the dumbstruck faces of the other leaders. Some were staring at Lot's body, others at Merlin who had immediately stepped back to his place at Arthur's side, his head lowered, radiating respect and obedience to his king. It took a moment for Arthur to regain their attention.
"This power is sworn to defend Camelot and her allies. Are you all still with us?"
He had no doubt of the answer. Beside him, his sorcerer gave him a small smile.