Title: The Messenger
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin, Leon
Summary: "Your father has angered the Gods, Arthur Pendragon, and that is not a fate any man should tempt."
Word Count: 511
Prompt: 144 - Frost
Arthur rubbed his face and sighed, breath clouding the air in front of him. "Yes?"
"We found-- Well, we found a boy. Wandering out by the walls."
Arthur looked up sharply. "A boy?"
Sir Leon frowned, ill at ease. "Yes, in little more than a coat."
"How--" Arthur shook his head and pulled himself up to his full height, eyes narrowed. "Bring him in."
They marched him in, hands tied behind his back, and unceremoniously shoved him to his knees in front of Arthur. He scowled up at Arthur and Arthur almost wanted to laugh at his mullish, glowering face and unkempt hair and threadbare clothes.
And ears. God above, those ears.
But he should have frozen to death within minutes in that little clothing and he hadn't and that thought sobered Arthur more swiftly than a hard kick to the ribs.
Hands clenched in the furs around him, Arthur glared down at him. "And how is it that you, boy, with hardly any meat on your bones have survived this wretched curse when so many in Camelot have perished?" he sneered.
The boy merely stared back, face hard and gaze keen on Arthur's face. Finally, he tilted his head a bit. "Your father has angered the Gods, Arthur Pendragon, and that is not a fate any man should tempt."
"And the Gods have decided to protect you, have they? Whilst everyone else in Camelot freezes in the night?"
He licked his lips and glanced down. "I honour the old ways, the ones your father wishes to burn out of existence. There is knowledge there, knowledge that can protect. Amongst other things." He shrugged.
"Is that so? And is there anything in this 'knowledge' that can end this damned curse? The people of Camelot are dying," Arthur growled, furious. Furious and sick, sick of watching his people die, sick of being utterly helpless and laid bare at the feet of powers greater than him.
"No, only the Gods can do that. And there is only one thing they want in exchange. You."
"Yes, you. That's why they've sent me here. They want the son of Uther Pendragon in exchange for lifting the curse."
Arthur closed his eyes and breathed deeply, speaking through clenched teeth. "They want a sacrifice."
If that was the only... Well. It would be done. Arthur had always known he'd give his life for Camelot, just hadn't thought it'd be for many, many years.
The boy laughed a little, eyes bright and smirking when Arthur frowned at him. "They don't want your death, Prince Arthur. They want your life. And they've sent me to take you."
Arthur blinked down at him. "What does that even mean? And who even are you? Why should I believe any of this?"
"Do you want to save your people or not? That's your only choice." He looked Arthur up and down, the corners of his mouth turning up as he glanced at Arthur from under his eyelashes. "You'll just have to untie me and find out."