Summary: As he stepped into the cool shade of the entrance corridor, no man or woman greeted his battered expression, and Merlin hesitated to go any further.
Warnings: Mild violence/injury. Author's muse likes not explaining things.
Word Count: 574
Prompt: #103 Bitter
Author's Notes: Who totally forgot she signed up for this? Me, yep, that's right.
There is a bitter taste to his mouth, grievous and sharp. Merlin watches it splatter onto the stone as he rolls over. The cracks in his teeth are dripping and he is certain his nose is crying in pain, but he pushes himself up from the cobbled path and coughs as shattered gravel tumbles out of his hair. Though all fingers and toes are all attached he still wobbles at a rush of speckled vertigo; there is no one around to catch him, so his magic soars up to balance his aching head. It whispers and whines at the state of his face and Merlin can't help but laugh, waving the delicate touch away. No doubt he's worn more bruised complexions before, and really, he can't look half as bad as the castle's courtyard. Brick, wood, and straw lay scattered like leaves in the wind, and though Merlin scarcely takes the time to examine every inch of the castle wall, he is convinced there never used to be great, gaping holes like a dozen dragon mouths surrounding the front courtyard.
He calls with his mind, though he isn't sure why. The old dragon is doubtlessly slumbering a thousand leagues away from the heart of Camelot, though his insight into the world around him does pose the question of what the mythical legend isn't aware of. When there is no inkling of a reply, Merlin cannot say he is surprised, so he starts to totter towards the castle.
Many have called him 'dim' before, but even the brightest, worthiest noble would be confused at the state Merlin found himself in. Despite it clearly being an early market morning (or it was when he clambered out of bed at dawn - assuming it was the same morning he was tiptoeing through) there wasn't a soul about except his own. He rationalised it was likely the city streets had been evacuated if they were under attack (were they?) but that didn't explain where the guards and soldiers were, or where Gaius was, or Gwen, Gwaine, and Arthur.
As he stepped into the cool shade of the entrance corridor, no man or woman greeted his battered expression, and Merlin hesitated to go any further.
The bitterness of his lips continued to bleed down his chin.
What had he been doing lying out in the courtyard anyway? (Surely someone would have noticed?)
Why way his nose broken? (Broken? He jabbed it experimentally. It hissed at him. Yep, broken).
Why was he alone? (Where was Arthur?)
Letting his feet automatically run through the hallways, Merlin knew he had to find out what was going on, and had to do it fast. There was every possibility that he was simply experiencing some hallucinogenic haze or a frighteningly vivid dream, but the floor feet real; the air felt real; his fear felt real. He had to find Arthur, and Gaius, and his friends. Gwen would calm him. Gwaine would make him laugh. Gaius would know all the answers. And Arthur would draw his sword and charge off like an idiot before anybody else got the chance to do anything, and once again it would be down to Merlin to sort out the mess their fearless king has thrown them all in.
(Though he is scared, and lonely, and definitely wishing he hadn't woken that morning, a smile tugs its way onto his face).
(Just like a normal day then, it seems).