Author's Note: This was a chapter in my series of Fem! Merlin one shots, The Flower of Camelot. But it was so popular that I made the decision that it should get its own story. I did mess with the timeline a bit. This is now after Arthur has become king. So this chapter is slightly different from the one in The Flower Of Camelot, but not much. I own nothing.
Arthur had been captured along with Lancelot and Leon. The others had gotten away, or at least Arthur hoped they had. He had no way of knowing. Last he had seen the rest of the knights, and his maidservant, they had been battling the bandits. But it turned out they weren't ordinary bandits, they were working for the sorcerer who had been threatening the outlying villages on the southern border of Camelot. Arthur and his knights were dragged in chains before the sorcerer who sat on a rusty old throne. He smiled down at Arthur.
"Well, well, well. What have we here? If it isn't the King of all Camelot and his little knights. Quite the catch indeed." Arthur steeled himself.
"What do you want?" The sorcerer sneered. It was ugly and cruel.
"I simply want to see you suffer as I and my kind have suffered at the hands of your father." Arthur's eyes narrowed. Lancelot and Leon, both of whom were gagged, glared up at the sorcerer who paid them no mind at all.
"If you kill me you will have all of Camelot to answer to. My armies will not stop until they have destroyed you." The sorcerer smiled brightly but it still had that edge of cruelness. He sat up straighter in his chair.
"Oh I'm not going to kill you. Don't be predictable. Many have tried to kill you, none have succeeded. So I reasoned if I can't kill you, I'll just hurt you." Arthur knew what was coming. Torture, he could handle torture. The sorcerer leaned forward.
"The same way you have hurt me and mine. I'm not going to kill you Arthur Pendragon. I'm going to make you watch your friends die. One by one, starting with the weakest one." That confused Arthur. Lancelot and Leon were almost equally matched, though it could be argued that Lancelot was better with a sword. Then he heard a scuffle at the door and turned to look. His heart dropped and his mouth went dry as he saw who the sorcerer's men were practically dragging into the room.
"Merlin!" He whirled to glare at the sorcerer, if looks could kill all their current problems would be solved. The two very large men dragged Merlin so she was between Arthur and the sorcerer and shoved her to her knees. Gwaine and Elyan were dragged in by two men, they were both wounded presumably protecting Merlin. The girl in question was glaring at the sorcerer in front of her with true hate in her eyes. Arthur pulled at his bonds. He couldn't let this sorcerer kill Merlin. The man's eyes glowed gold and Merlin was lifted off her feet into the air choking as if there was a hand around her throat feet kicking in the air trying to find something to stand on. Arthur and the knights all shouted in rage but Arthur was loudest.
"Leave her alone! She has nothing to do with any of this! She never hurt anyone!" The sorcerer grinned and dropped his hand which had been mimicking the act of strangling someone. Merlin crumpled to the floor coughing and gasping for air. All five men behind her struggled to try and get to her to check on her but none of them could move from the spots they were being held.
"That is true. But then neither did the healers that your father had hunted down and murdered. But I am a fair man, I will give her a chance to survive, if she lives you all go free and I turn myself in. If not you all die one by one." Merlin looked up at him with defiance but also with a kind of cautious planning look in her eyes.
"If I survive what?"The sorcerer glanced down at her with distain but smiled none the less. He made a mock bow as Merlin pulled herself to her feet.
"Why the Labyrinth of course, my lady. But I am being rude to my beautiful guest. I am the sorcerer known as Hareth, the young king here said your name was Merlin. It is nice to meet you, for what I am certain will be the last time." Merlin rolled her eyes looking angry and annoyed but not scared.
"What Labyrinth? Cause I've been to the Labyrinth of Gedref and been through it." Arthur rolled his eyes. What Merlin neglected to mention about that story was she'd only made it halfway through that labyrinth before being captured by Anhora the keeper of the unicorns. Hareth laughed.
"No my lady, not Gedref. That labyrinth is child's play in comparison to this one. It has many more dangers than Gedref. It lies under this very fortress, it is said it changes depending on who walks through it. I wonder what horrors you will face. Will you accept this deal or would you rather I killed you now, it would be kinder." Merlin seemed to think for a moment. Arthur was about to protest when Merlin spoke, sounding determined.
"I want your oath, not just spoken. Giaus once told me that if a sorcerer swears on a life and breaks that oath that life is taken as recompense by that sorcerer's magic. I want you to make that oath that if I succeed you will hold to your terms, I want you to swear it on your life." The sorcerer smiled and nodded slowly.
"You may be more clever than I gave you credit for. Very well. I swear on my life and my magic that if you make it through the Labyrinth I will release all my captives, unharmed save their current wounds, and turn myself over to Arthur Pendragon's mercy. Do we have a deal?" Merlin nodded.
"We have a deal. Take me to this Labyrinth." Arthur shook his head violently. He couldn't let Merlin do this, couldn't let her risk her life to save them, not like this. There was no guarantee that this sorcerer would keep his word and Merlin was useless, there was no way she was going to survive this. But before he could speak he and the knights were pulled to their feet and dragged down the hall. Merlin was walking in front of them between them and the sorcerer who was flanked by two of his men. Merlin dropped back slightly to talk to Arthur.
"I know what you're gonna say but I can do this. I have to."
"How can you trust him Merlin?" Merlin frowned.
"I don't. Not in the slightest, but magic has to have rules right? And if it's got rules then those rules have to be adhered to." Arthur shook his head.
"One of these days you are going to tell me exactly how you know so much about magic Merlin." Merlin rolled her eyes at him.
"I know so much cause we keep getting attacked by it, how are you supposed to fight something when you don't know anything about it." Arthur nodded slightly, it made sense. But something in her eyes told him she wasn't telling him everything.
"Besides I didn't grow up in Camelot, magic may be taboo in Estier but it's not illegal." Arthur nodded again they had reached a stone door gold runes set around it. Hareth smiled.
"For those of you who don't know how to read the language of the old religion the doors read, 'Fear and doubt will cloud the mind, in here you will face your every fear.' I do hope this will be interesting at least. After you my lady." Merlin stepped forward and one of Hareth's men handed her a torch. Hareth's eyes glowed gold and the stone slid away leaving a gaping hole in the stone wall. They couldn't see anything but blackness behind it. Hareth smiled and waved a hand towards the hole in the wall.
"After you my lady." Merlin took a deep breath and stepped into the opening. Hareth turned to the knights.
"Wave goodbye. This will be the last time you see her." The knights all glared at Hareth as Merlin met their eyes one by one. She nodded to each of them.
"See you on the other side." Then she stepped into the darkness and the stone slid back into place behind her.