The Challenge

Arthur let out a bark of a laugh as he knocked one of his knights to the ground and held him there with the tip of his sword. "You'll have to move faster than that, Geraint! One more inch, and I could have killed you in a flash." He withdrew his sword with a triumphant air and Sir Geraint staggered to his feet, obviously winded with exhaustion.

"Good work, my lord!" called Sir Leon, who had been watching the fight and waiting for his turn with the rest of the knights.

"What did you think of that, Merlin?" Arthur called, facing away from Sir Leon to look at Merlin, who was standing alone on the other side. "I bet I could take you down if you tried to stop me."

Merlin arched a brow at him. "Oh yeah?" he said. "Do you really want to test that theory?"

"Don't get smart with me, Merlin," said Arthur. But the idea had definitely peaked his interest. His bright blue eyes flashed with the glint her usually displayed when he was up for a challenge. "All right, what do you say?" he goaded. "Let's have a duel. My sword, your magic."

Merlin's lips curled up in a smile. "What happens if you lose?" he asked.

"You'll get the day off," Arthur replied. Then he smirked. "But if you lose – "

" – I'll be at your beck and call for the rest of the day, which is what I do anyway," Merlin cut in. "Which means I can't lose. It's a deal; let's do it."

The knights all looked at each other at this and whooped loudly; this was going to prove to be quite the spectacle. "I'm betting that Merlin will win!" shouted Sir Gwaine. "Who's willing to bet with me?" The knights all laughed and each placed their bet on the king and his warlock.

"Come on over then," said Arthur, extending a hand in a gesture for Merlin to step onto the fighting ground. Merlin obeyed and walked towards him with a confident look in his eyes. Arthur approached him with a swagger in his walk that had the knights watching in anticipation.

The first move was extremely sudden. Merlin whipped out his hand in a flash and cried, "Astrice!" His eyes burned molten gold and a fireball the size of a mace-head shot out from his palm and zoomed towards Arthur, whose reflexes were fortunately quick enough to duck. The onlookers gasped, and the maidservants who had been tending to the interior of the castle leaned out of the windows to watch as the ball of flame slammed into a tree behind him, which promptly turned into a pile of ash. One of the maids screamed out loud before covering her mouth quickly, eyes wide.

Arthur's hand reached up to feel at his hair, which was only slightly singed from the fire. "Not that old trick again," he said, mockingly petulant. "Can't you do something other than fireballs?" Straightening to his full height once more, he let out a yell, ran forward and swung his sword, expecting Merlin to be thrown off by his words. However, Merlin closed his eyes and disappeared into thin air at the last second, reappearing a few paces behind him. Arthur nearly had his sword flying out of his hand from the momentum as it slashed with a whooshing sound through the air, but his strong grip on the hilt prevented it from sliding out completely. Merlin laughed out loud. "Come and get me!" he mocked, dancing lightly out of the way as Arthur whipped around again.

Arthur rushed towards him, yelling, "Mer – !"

With a deft, casual flick of his wrist, Merlin froze him mid-step. "Should I just keep you there?" he teased, his other hand stroking his chin and narrowing his eyes in mock-thought. Arthur could not move a muscle save for his eyes, which he used to glare daggers at his magical manservant. Taking pity on him, the warlock unfroze him.

" – lin, I'm going to get you for that!" Arthur finished, amid laughter from the knights who were now cheering Merlin on. Never had they seen their king quite so humiliated, and the fact that it was a sorcerer who was embarrassing their king made it all the more entertaining for the spectators.

The fight went on. Merlin managed to outwit his king in every way he possibly could; he charmed the grass to wrap around his ankles and trip him, cast a deadweight spell on Excalibur, and even clouded his vision with an explosion of smoke that had the knights fearing that the king had caught on fire. Arthur could not do much except run at Merlin and attempt to strike him, but every time Merlin came up with another magic trick to make him look a fool.

"Do you yield, Arthur?" Merlin shouted over the cheering crowd. When he didn't get an answer, he snapped his fingers and sent a gust of wind blowing hair into Arthur's face. "Do you yield?"

"A king does not yield," Arthur roared back. Merlin twirled his fingers and made the leaves in the grass swirl upwards in the gale, surrounding Arthur so he was caught in the calm of a mini-storm, unable to move for fear of being swept up into the strong current. Merlin had the elements at his disposal, and the audience called for Arthur to yield as the storm went on.

"All right, Merlin! I yield! I yield!" shouted Arthur, whose voice could barely be heard over the din of the whirlwind Merlin had conjured up.

There was a silence before a sudden uproar from the knights had Merlin breaking the charm so he could cover his ears, laughing as the wind dissipated and left Arthur looking extremely disheveled with his hair in disarray and his armour covered in earth. Merlin turned towards the knights, throwing his arms up and letting out a victorious whoop. He basked in the glory of his success as the knights handed each other the gold coins they had bet on. Sir Percival gave Merlin a thumbs-up. Merlin was so caught up in his happiness that he didn't see Arthur approaching from behind him until it was too late. The king had thrown down his sword, and with one tactical blow he had Merlin down and caught in a headlock.

Merlin flailed his limbs helplessly, and both men went tumbling into the grass, Arthur on top. "It's not over yet!" Sir Percival proclaimed. "Give me my gold back!"

The warlock was in a completely vulnerable position given the fact that the king was of much heavier build. It wasn't long before Arthur had one hand on his neck pinning him into the grass. The other hand reached up to push his head so it turned to the side, lightly. "There. Any more force, and I could break your neck," said Arthur. He was grinning widely as he said this. "Merlin, admit it. You suck."

Merlin let out a "gah!" of frustration and glared at him with defiance, but could not move at all; Arthur had effectively straddled him, rendering him incapable of getting out from underneath him. Panting with exhaustion, Merlin searched for a plan. As it came to him, he looked up and narrowed his eyes. Almost immediately, a layer of pale grey vapour surrounded him and swirled around both of them…

Poof! Arthur suddenly found nothing but air beneath him and fell a short distance into the ground. "What on earth…?" He looked around, but Merlin was nowhere in sight. Surely his manservant hadn't teleported to his own chambers. Merlin was a sore loser, but it would be completely out of character for him to do so.

He was shocked when he suddenly felt a cool drop of moisture running down his face. He reached up to wipe it away, but it was quickly replaced by another, and another. Soon, Arthur was completely and utterly drenched in water, damp leaves and soil that had now turned to a slushy mud. The rain soaked through his chainmail and weighed him down. Coughing and gasping, Arthur looked up.

A grey storm cloud hung low in the sky just above him with the vaguely familiar shape of Merlin's face floating within it. "Serves you right," it boomed, the sound reverberating off the castle walls. The cloud then turned from dark grey to pale white before floating serenely away in the direction of the castle. Open-mouthed, Arthur stared after it before flopping onto his back in defeat, completely unaware of the guffawing knights behind him.

Author's Note:

I found a comic on Tumblr that had Merlin turning into a storm cloud and raining on Arthur because he was angry. It was such a great idea I burst out laughing. What prompted me to write this story was another fanfiction I read which had Merlin using his magic in a play fight with someone else. I combined the two ideas and voila! I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did – please tell me what you thought of my FIFTIETH FANFICTION in the review box below!