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A Word for Forgotten Songs (10/?)

Title: A Word for Forgotten Songs
Fandom: Merlin
Characters: Merlin, Arthur, Uther, Gaius, Gwen, Morgana, Leon, OMC
Rated: PG-13
Word Count: 1,150 (this chapter)
Summary: A strange warrior arrives in time to save Arthur and Merlin from bandits. He is wounded and falls ill. As Gaius cares for the wound, he knows the blade was dipped in a potion that only affects those with magic. After he heals, Merlin talks with him of magic and Arthur spars with him. They then learn that the bandit attack was not random.
Author's Note: This has been sitting on my computer for over 3 years! It's still not done but I couldn't put off the posting any longer. The original character is from one of my series and I kinda place him in lots of fandoms. His original series starts here. The story is set in series 2, somewhat early on. It's unbeta'd so all mistakes are my own.

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Merlin rode silently behind Arthur. He could tell the prince was upset with his father for not letting Alan join them. “I have a whole group of knights,” he had complained. “What could he have done?”

“You know I agree with you, Arthur. You know when your father has his mind set, there’s no changing it.”

“I think he would have prevented me from leaving if I’d persisted.”

Merlin didn’t argue. Uther did care for Arthur in his own way. Whether it was for Arthur himself or for Ygraine, he wasn’t sure.

They rode on for another hour or so until they were near the village where they bandits had last been spotted. “Right,” said Arthur. “Merlin and I will go one alone to lure the bandits out. They went for us once before, I don’t think they’ll be able to resist.”

“Wouldn’t it seem a bit…obvious, sire?” asked Leon. “Just the two of you, especially after the last attack?”

Arthur thought on what the knight said. “Very well.” He looked over the knights and his gaze settled on one staying to the rear. “You.”

“Yes, sire,” the knight answered with a raspy voice.

“You will join us.”

The knight nodded and brought his horse forward while still keeping his face hidden.

“The rest of you will follow at a discreet distance. We do not want to drive them away.”

The three of them rode ahead and Merlin kept glancing over his shoulder at the knight. What little of his face he saw was familiar, but not as a knight. The man seemed to sense when Merlin’s eyes were on him because he would turn his face towards the woods or down at the ground.

“Merlin, will you quit fidgeting! We don’t need you constantly looking around like you’re expecting something.”

“I think it lends authenticity,” he replied, thinking fast. “I should be nervous after the last time. It would be strange if I weren’t.”

Arthur gave a long-suffering sigh. “Fine.”

At that point, Merlin thought he saw the knight smile.

Where the path narrowed, Arthur dismounted and checked his horse’s front right hoof. The knight became more alert but without overtly acting it. It was then Merlin noticed the forest was quiet, no birds or small animal sounds. That was never a good sign. “Arthur.”

“I know, Merlin.” Arthur’s hand was resting on the hilt of his sword.

With a roar, the bandits ran down the slope on either side. There were at least ten, but not more than twenty. With a move of his hand, Merlin caused some of the bandits to trip, lessening the strength of the initial attack.

Arthur turned, swinging his sword, and, taking his attacker by surprise, sliced him across the stomach. The knight – what is his name? – was pulled from his horse and, amazingly, landed on his feet and began to disable the man too close for the sword.

Merlin turned his horse around and headed back the way they came but his path was blocked. He was yanked from the saddle.

“Bind his hands!” ordered one as he stuffed a rag into Merlin’s mouth.

Merlin tried to fight them off, but the man who seemed to be in charge punched him in the stomach, winding him. He had barely let out a gasp, but Arthur must have heard, because he chose that moment to look over. He turned back to his opponents with a renewed fury. The bandits around Merlin hauled him to his feet and started to drag him into the woods. When one seemingly tripped and slid down the slope, Merlin didn’t think anything of it, but when three went flying, he was stunned. Someone was using magic.

Merlin jerked himself from the stunned hands of his remaining captors and ran towards the now approaching knights. Leon directed some to bind the fallen attackers while he and the rest went to help Arthur and…Alan?

Yes, that was who it was fighting alongside Arthur like the first day they had met. Had he not been otherwise engaged, he would have recognized that style. No one else fought as he did.

The bandits were soon surrounded and the surrendered. Merlin was worried that they would tell Arthur that he was a magic user and was surprised when they didn’t. For what reason could they have wanted him?

“You!” Arthur demanded once everything was under control. “What are you doing here?”

“You didn’t actually think I’d stay behind, did you?” replied Alan with a smile.

“How did you—No, wait, it’s better you don’t tell me. Then I won’t have to lie.” Arthur left Merlin and Alan and walked over to see how his men were taking care of the bandits.

“How did you get out of Camelot?”

“Oh, I had help.” Alan told him the full story.

Merlin smiled at how the three of them banded together to help someone they felt had been wronged. He knew that Alan was the type of man who would do the same for them. “But how did you catch up with us so quickly? Someone would have noticed if your horse had been lathered.”

Alan grinned and tapped his head. Merlin was amazed that the man had brought himself and his horse this far using the powers of his mind, a trick Merlin would love to master. He looked over at Arthur and could tell the prince was ready to leave. “Thank you for saving me.”

“Well, you helped me and Arthur, so I was just returning the favor.”

The bandits had their hands tied together and another rope was used as a line, joining them as they were forced to walk. The knights surrounded them on horseback; Leon in the rear to make sure none would escape.

When they came within sight of Camelot, Alan said this was where they would have to separate. “No one saw me leave, so it would be best if no one saw me arrive.”

Merlin watched as Alan rode down into the valley.

“It scares me how he got out of the city so easily,” commented Arthur.

“He did have help.”

“Still, no one saw him. I think I need to check on watches and patrols.”

“Without letting your father know why.”

Arthur looked back at the knights. “We have to make sure they say nothing about Alan.”

“I don’t think they will. For him to defy your father in order to help you, he has their respect.”

“As long as that doesn’t override their respect for me or my father, then it’s okay.”

“Those men would lay down their lives for you, and not just because you’re their prince.” Merlin warmed to his subject. “They see you as a great man, one who has earned their respect. I don’t see it myself…”

“Merlin.” Arthur did crack a slight smile so Merlin felt he had done his duty.


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