Disclaimer: I don't own BBC's Merlin or any of the characters, though I sure wish I did.
A/N: A great big thank you to Pendragon2601 for looking over the story and being a my beta I reeeeeeally needed the help. This story takes place after season 2, but before season 3 since I started writting it before the last season ever started.
The Perils of a Stormy Night
Chapter 1: When the Thunder Rolls
For hours the heavens had wept a barrage of rain over Camelot, the wind whipping the bitter fall air. Thunder rumbled throughout the night, lightening crackling and spreading across the skies like firey branches. Small rivers formed in the trenches, the surrounding dirt turning to mud, cobblestones becoming slick.
"Stupid prat." Merlin growled, cursing the prince for the hundredth time that evening as he pushed his still wet bangs away from his face. He was soaked from head to foot, his shoes giving off an annoying squelching sound as he walked around the stables.
The young warlock had expected to be in bed right now, warm under his blanket and fast asleep like the rest of the city. Instead he found himself chilled to the bones as he finished the extra chores Arthur had gifted him with.
Each horse had been blanketed, tether secured, and the stalls cleaned and ready to return the new mare Arthur had just aquired. She was a beautiful animal with a bright bay coat accented with black tinted legs, maine, and tail. The prince had named her Vidaldei. She was a powerful animal, but she was still in need of some training to refine her temperment.
Unfortunately for Merlin, Vidaldei was proving to be a little skittish and her nervous behavior was quickly becoming increasingly agitated by the terbulant weather. For that matter, all the beasts were a little edgy, ears alert and twitching at the sounds of the raging storm outside. They each pawed nervously at the ground, occasionally tossing their heads with a huff or a whinny. Merlin did his best to comfort the animals as best as he could, though a few of the more agitated ones were given a wide berth.
He walked over to Vidaldei and placed a comforting hand on her muzzle as he untied the lead. "Easy girl." he soothed giving her a gentle pat. Gripping the halter, Merlin began leading the mare towards the stall.
Vidaldei let out a heated snort, flicking her head to the side as she moved nervously. "Come on girl." Merlin coaxed tugging slightly to urge the horse forward. Slowly he backed into the stall with the skitterish mare cautiously following, the freshly layed hay compressing under her heavy hooves.
"That's it, now let's get you settled. I don't know about you girl, but I'm ready to go to bed." He grinned as he reached to tie the lead into place. A loud crack of thunder sounded and Vidaldei rearedup causing the rest of the stables to fill with irritated sounds from its inhabitants.
"Whoa!" Merlin exclaimed as he was pulled off balance, his feet moving hastily in an attemt to steady himself. As soon as he got his footing, he gave a relieved sigh and leaned forward to stroke the animal's breast. Slowly he guided his hand up and over her shoulder, letting his fingers softly brush across the mare's withers.
"Just a little bit of thunder," he stated softly. "Don't worry about it; never harmed anyone." He looked into the beasts black fearful eyes, a reasuring smile playing on his lips "Come now." He murmured.
Hesitantly, the horse began to move back into place. When Merlin was confident that Vidaldei had settled, he turned away. Ironically, it was as if the fates themselves hated him as the skies chose that very moment to errupt again into a sudden earth shattering explosion. Merlin himself jumped in surprise, every muscle in his body tensing in unison. He didn't even have time to process the events happening around him before he was suddenly flung into the boarded wall beside him. He hit the wall with an oof!, the air fleeing his lungs as the large horse pressed its broad body into him, pinning him for a moment against the solid planks.
A frightened Vidaldei backed up with a snort releasing the pressure on the servant's chest, allowing Merlin to suck in a ragged breath. "I'm going to turn Arthur into a toad in the morning," he growled internally, trying to steady himself. "this is ridiculous!"
His fingers fumbled and grabbed for the halter that had been momentarily dropped. Merlin gripped the leather tightly easily taking up the slack. "Easy girl. See, I'm not afraid, so you shouldn't be either." Merlin cooed, the calmness of the statement being betrayed by the underlying quiver in his voice.
Vidaldei huffed, and no matter how he tried to calm the animal, it was no no longer desired to listen to him. The mare began to jump and fidget in agitation, oblivious to the man who was trapped infront of her. Merlin stumbled, his feet trying desperately to avoid getting stepped on. One well aimed hit and the animal would surely break the bones resting beneath its hooves. An injury like that would leave him incopasitated for weeks and if that alone wasn't motivation enough, the avoidance of intense pain was.
Merlin tried to prevent the horse from hurting itself or bolting but the situation had become dangerous and he wondered quickly how he was going to prevent injury to himself. The storm continued its angry assault and it caused Vidaldei to finish her retreat from the stall. Despite Merlin's best efforts to hold the beast back, his slight frame was of no match for the large, determined and stalky animal. Merlin was flung painfully into a nearby post, his fingers clawing to find baring.
Once freed the mare reared and Merlin barely escaped being clocked in the chin by Vidaldei's knee. He dodged clumsily, his feet stumbling beneath him. Merlin tried desperately to anticipate the horse's next move so that he could shift accordingly and remove himself from its path. The animal abruptly swung around to gallop to the other side of the stable, but not before knocking the boy over forcefully with her hind qaurters, her tail whipping him in the face like a multitude of tiny needles. She retreated hastily, ignoring the boy she had tossed back like a rag doll.
Merlin's entire body flayed out in the air just as his feet went out from under him. With a panicked shout that further startled the horses, he fell. Gravity had a hold of him as his body tensed with the sickening antisipation of striking the hard ground. Unfortunately, the path to the well packed earth was not a clear one and his raven covered head struck violently against a corner of the post behind him. There was a blinding pain that shot pin pricks up and down the lengths of his arms and legs, lights bursting infront of his eyes. He dropped to the floor in a heap, shocked and unable to move his unresposive body. He couldn't even utter a sound. He stared up at his surroundings vacantly, feeling numb as a rush of darkness spread across his vision and it was then that he knew nothing.