Disclaimer: I own nothing in regards to Merlin.

"Stupid, untidy manservant" Arthur snorted huffily. "I give him one task, just one and he forgets I even asked." Sighing indignantly, he spurred his horse further into the shadowy woods in hopes of spotting an animal worthy of being hunted. Peering through his blond fringe, and seeing nothing, he rode forward again, hoping a mystical, rare creature would be found further in the dark forest. The steady sound of hoof beats crunching in freshly fallen leaves plunged Arthur into his thoughts once more.

Merlin wasn't daft, Arthur knew that from experience. When the situation called for it the boy could be quite quick on his feet. Why he would then disobey a direct order from the prince to muck out the stables, was beyond him. Granted, Arthur relented slightly, the boy had been looking worn and tired these past couple of days; and yes maybe double sword practice with the best knight in Camelot was a little cruel, but Arthur couldn't afford to baby Merlin. Life was tough, and Merlin would have to learn to deal with fatigue and stress if he ever was going to mature, maybe he acquiesced, he could go a little easier…

The sound of his horses panicked neighing snapped the prince out of his reverie. Slowly, precisely Arthur looked around. His horse had been trained by the best; and if she was whinnying it meant they were both in serious distress. For several moments Arthur gazed at his surroundings; sword drawn and prepared for an imminent attack. More time slipped by and Arthur gradually relaxed. Despite his horses frantic pleas Arthur saw nothing out of the ordinary in the dank woods. The foliage was perhaps thicker than usual, and he didn't immediately recognize his location; but there was nothing that he sensed as a threat. Breathing a sigh of relief Arthur dropped his gauntlet- held sword in his holster and turned towards Camelot. There were never any decent animals to kill in these woods. Throwing back his shoulders and resuming the reigns Arthur directed his horse onward. When she remained frozen in place he used his spurs, and when that didn't work he looked up; just in time to see an arrow zooming from above, and then landing… directly in his chest.