Title: Flames of War
Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Arthur and his team are called on to capture a sorcerer. Things get heated.
Warnings: Minor Character Death, Graphic Depictions of Violence, Gore
Word Count: 859 words
Prompt: #158 Engaged
Author's Notes: Thanks to enkanowen for the beta.
“Whatever you do, do not engage with him in direct combat. His powers are unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”
Unfortunately, they’d found that out the hard way. Apparently, when Bedivere tried to sneak up to the boy to slit his throat, the blade flew out of his hands and straight through his heart. The rest of the team that were dispatched to capture the boy fled into the woods and called for the back-up team. Arthur was furious at the display of incompetence. All they needed to do, was capture a 15-year-old boy, for fuck’s sake. How hard could it be? If it were his team on the mission, they’d have apprehended and locked him away for life before they could say ‘sorcerer’.
Or at least, that is what he was thinking before he and the rest of his team arrived on the scene. Now, Arthur has to admit that he has no idea if they can pull this off. The boy – sitting in the middle of a clearing – still clutches the body of some woman to his chest, rocking back and forth and crying loudly. Arthur swears he can feel the air and ground beneath his feet tremble with each sob.
“Mom. Mom, no. I need you, Mom.”
For a moment, Arthur pities the boy. However, one look at Bedivere, who’s lying in a puddle of his own blood a few feet away from the sorcerer, sends all compassion flying through the window. There is no room for mercy for souls corrupted by magic.
“You killed her. You killed my mother!”
Now, the sorcerer is looking up at the heavily armed men. They’re huddled together behind the tree line. Between the distance and their camouflage, they should be nearly undetectable, but the boy settles his gaze on them without hesitation. He lets out an anguished scream, and they all go flying. A tree stops Arthur mid-trajectory, and he lands with a throbbing head at its trunk.
Everyone is scattered, and they all look a bit dazed, but no one seems to be badly hurt.
“Now!” Arthur yells, and they quickly take position. He’s glad he explained his plan to them before the boy attacked them. They need no further explanation and their movements are sure, swift.
One half of the group follows Arthur as he steals around the clearing until he’s positioned right behind the boy, who’s lost interest in them and has gone back to weeping and caressing his mother.
Arthur crouches down behind a tree at the edge of the clearing. His men position themselves at either side of him. They ready their weapons and wait.
Meanwhile, the other team is posted on their left, right, and opposite. Arthur can see them fiddling with their bows. Then, one by one, they bring it to their shoulder and take aim. Arthur sucks in a sharp breath.
For one second, the entire forest seems to quiet down. Nobody moves. And then a rain of arrows descends upon the boy.
He doesn’t even look up. There’s nothing to indicate that he has even noticed the projectiles that are meant to kill him. But every arrow that touches him—which is all of them, because Arthur has trained his men to never miss or else—simply drops down. The boy keeps on cradling his mother’s corpse. Arthur supposes that if you have the kind of power this kid has, you can afford to have your priorities mixed up.
Luckily, he anticipated that something like this might happen, so they move on to plan B.
Kay, his best archer, posted right across from Arthur, brings a flame to one of his specially designed arrows. He pulls the bow taut, furrows his brow in concentration, and releases the arrow. It’s a thing of beauty. Its trajectory curves elegantly downwards. Flames lick their way up the shaft. The arrow buries itself smoothly in the back of the woman.
There’s no stopping the fire. It touches the woman’s worn clothes, and that’s all the fuel it needs. In a matter of seconds, the flames are licking merrily at her hair, her face, her shoes. She’s a bonfire, and her son is the pork they’re wanting to spit and roast.
With a surprised yelp, the sorcerer drops her body and jumps away. Then realisation at what’s happening dawns on him, and he’s shouting spells to kill the fire. That’s all the distraction they need, and Arthur’s team springs into action.
They sprint over the clearing, everyone but Arthur carrying weapons they won’t even need. Handcuffs in his hands, he grips the arms of the boy, and before he knows what’s happening, the molten golden disappears from his eyes.
“Cold iron,” Arthur hisses triumphantly in his ear. Then, turning towards the others, “Well done, men. Mission accomplished.”
They all strut towards the vans. The boy struggles, but his efforts are fruitless. Arthur shoves him in the back, closing the door. He throws one last look over his shoulder at the burning remains of the woman who birthed the sorcerer before climbing behind the wheel.
Arthur grins. One step closer to ridding the world of all magic.