Title: Bloodied Truce
Pairing/s: None (if you want, potential Arthur/Merlin)
Character/s: Merlin, Arthur, Leon, Percival, Gwaine, Gaius
Summary: Arthur would not make deals with this sort of man.
Warnings: Reference to non-con.
Word Count: 999
Author's Notes: Not really sure what this is.
Arthur looked bored as trumpets rang out through the area. He had been left waiting and was not happy. He was a king; the person he was meeting was a rebellious lord who had taken it upon himself to control Cendred’s lands after the king’s death.
As it wasn’t within Camelot’s borders, Arthur had left the matter well alone. He had already had too many experiences of war and he wouldn’t put his people through that again. But rumours had begun to reach him. This man didn’t rule fairly – he was a warlord and a thug, and was beginning to venture over the borders.
Arthur knew something had to be done, so he had set up the meeting to find out what sort of man he was dealing with. The fact that he had been left waiting already told him so much.
Finally, though, the horses galloped into the clearing. Arthur knew from reports which was the lord – it was broad man at the front who looked like he could match an ox for strength. If Arthur wasn’t mistaken, he leered when he saw the king. Leon shifting next to him revealed it hadn’t just been in Arthur’s mind. He made to shoot his knight a look, telling him without words to keep calm, when something caught his eye.
The horses had been dragging someone behind. A young man, his hands tied harshly in front of him and being led along by a rope. He dropped to his knees, head hanging as soon as they stopped and Arthur knew that he was exhausted. The lord was approaching him, but Arthur paid him no attention. He was too busy watching a couple of the men grab the rope and throw it over a tree. Within seconds, the young man had been hauled into the air, dangling by his wrists. His face twisted in pain, but the men secured it and left him there.
The lord followed his gaze and smirked in satisfaction.
“He thought he could defy me.”
It was only then that Arthur noticed he was covered in blood. He couldn’t tell from here if it was several wounds or just a few deeper ones. But to have lost that much blood and still run; no wonder he was exhausted.
“And that’s how you deal with defiance?”
“Oh no, that’s just to get him from one place to another. I deal with it by giving him to my men every night. He’s powerful, you see. I have to make an example of him. Sire.”
The formality was added on as an afterthought. Arthur finally looked at the man in cold disdain. Even his father hadn’t tortured people just because he could.
“I see.” Arthur’s voice was like ice and the lord seemed to have realised the meeting was already not going as well as he hoped.
“Why don’t you take him for an hour? I’m sure you will be prepared to come to some sort of agreement after that.”
Arthur made to reach for his sword, sickened anyone could even dream of thinking that about him. But then he stopped.
“Very well. Gwaine, Percival, get him to my tent.”
Arthur turned away and waited until he knew the warlord was out of earshot.
“Get Gaius to my tent, now,” he muttered in an undertone before striding in that direction himself. He was not the type of man to hurt others because he could. Instead, he was going to do whatever he could for this man while he had the chance. With that much blood lost, Arthur knew he was the walking dead unless something changed.
He took the long route round, letting his knights get the man to the safety of the tent. He exchanged pleasantries with his own men, helping pitch a tent here and there and showing he was one of them as well as their leader. He knew that was why they would follow him into death if it came to it; he didn’t need to order, he only had to ask.
But eventually, he could put it off no longer and arrived. Cries were coming from within and Percival was looking pale as he stood guard. He nodded stiffly to Arthur as he ducked instead.
The young man was spread out on Arthur’s bedroll, Gaius bending over him. Arthur could see multiple wounds bleeding freely and understood Percival’s expression. The man tried to arch away as Gaius continued dabbing an angry looking cut.
“Stop it,” Arthur said firmly, the type of voice men listened to. “He can’t help you if you move. Leon, fetch me some water and some plain stew, he needs to eat.”
“What are you doing?” the man gasped, unbelievably lucid considering the state of him. Arthur crouched down and before he knew it, he had the man’s head resting on his lap.
“Trying to save your life,” he murmured. Gaius glanced up at the same time as Arthur and their eyes met. Arthur swallowed. It looked like it was definitely going to be a fight – Arthur himself knew that once the body understood it was safe, it often crashed.
“I don’t know if I can get you away from him-,”
“You can’t!” The man tried to sit up, but both Arthur and Gaius pressed him back down. “He’s got my mother, if I don’t do as he orders…”
“Relax,” Arthur said soothingly, trying to hide his anger. The meeting was officially over before it began; he would never come to any sort of treaty with a man like this. It looked like it was going to have to be war after all, but he didn’t think the other kingdom would oppose his taking of leadership if this was how they had been treated.
“I might not get you away from him, but I’m going to make sure that I give you the best chance you can have, do you understand?”
With those words, Arthur started helping Gaius clean the man up.