A/N: …What ifs are very dangerous in my hands. You have been warned. Enjoy the fruits of my strange mind =). Reviews make writer wannabes (me!) very happy!

Of Princes and Secret Sorcerers

The day It happened was a day like any other. Arthur slunk like a hunting cat through the forest undergrowth, crossbow up and ready. A giant, beautiful buck stood in a clearing a mere dozen feet away, completely unaware of the stalking Prince's presence. He aimed carefully, licking his lips in anticipation…

"Arthur!" A certain sharp, slightly whiny voice burst out, somewhere near his right. Arthur shot, but the startled buck had already bolted away, disappearing into the other side of the clearing.

Arthur lowered his crossbow, sighing loudly. "What, Merlin."

"Problem…Knights…" The boy wheezed. Concern briefly touched Arthur-Merlin had said he was fine earlier, but it was obvious that the illness had a lingering grip-but he quickly shoved it away, thumping his manservant roughly on the shoulder.

"Spit it out, man!" He growled impatiently.

As it turned out, Merlin didn't have to. Screams and shouts drifted toward them from where Arthur and Merlin had split with the knights. Arthur swore, drawing his sword and sprinting toward the commotion, Merlin right behind.

A sorceress, a vengeful blonde ringed in green fire, was wreaking havoc when they arrived. The knights were scattered before her onslaught, cowering behind trees to avoid her fire.

Arthur sighed again, raising his sword. He felt a cold chill pass over him briefly as Merlin quietly rattled off a charm to ward against fire, touching Arthur's shoulder lightly.

The Prince approached slowly, sword up, as if he were still stalking the buck, his feet gliding noiselessly over the spongy earth. A good plan, except he failed to account for enemy wards.

He triggered one. A high pitched, piercing one note blast split the air. He felt a flash of heat, but was saved from the worst of it as Merlin's charm took effect, pushing the resulting plume of fire away, back toward its creator.

The plume didn't harm her-she dissipated it with a simple wave of her hand-but the ensuing smoke cloud provided enough cover for Arthur to spring forward, slamming the hilt of his sword against her forehead. She collapsed in an undignified heap at the Prince's feet.

He looked around to see the knights slowly come out of hiding. "Well done, brave knights." He said sarcastically. "Secure the prisoner. We're returning to Camelot."

As the knights moved to do as their Prince commanded, Merlin drew nearer, to stand by his royal friend. "You're never going to let them live this down, are you?" He asked, grinning.

"Oh noo." He half turned, clapping his manservant's shoulder. "Good work, Merlin. Now be a good servant for once and go fetch my horse."

"Yes Sire." Merlin walked off, shaking his head at his Prince, slightly goofy grin still in place.

As the knights hoisted the unconscious sorceress onto Sir Gwaine's horse, something small and glittering dropped on the ground. Curious, Arthur picked it up, absently pocketing it. He would examine it in more detail later.

Later that evening, Arthur lounged in his favorite chair by the fire. Somewhere behind him, Merlin bustled about, clearing up the remainder of their shared dinner.

The curiosity needled at him again, burrowing like a splinter beneath his skin until he finally drew the thing out of his pocket, holding it up to the firelight.

It was quite small-about a quarter if the size of his palm-and perfectly round. Backlit by the flames, it looked like an orange-red rock, though it felt as delicately smooth as glass in his fingers.


"Yes Arthur?"

"What do you think this is?" He turned, showing his manservant/secret sorcerer the rock. Merlin approached Arthur's chair for a better look, wiping his hands on a towel.

He blinked, surprised, squinting at the thing. "It…It looks like a wishing stone, but I've never heard of one that color before. Where'd you get it?"

Arthur held it up to the light again, watching the colors dance at its center. "Found it, near the sorceress captured this morning."

Merlin's gray-blue eyes widened in alarm. "Arthur, put it down. There's not telling what she might have done to it."

Arthur threw him an annoyed look. "Merlin, it's a rock, not a giant anaconda. I think I can handle it." He turned his attention back to the stone, wondering idly if it was really as delicate as it felt…

"Arthur." Merlin whined urgently, but his voice sounded too far away to be important, so Arthur ignore him.

Almost without his conscious consent, his fingers curled around the stone, squeezing. The thing shattered, but not like glass; when his fingers loosened, a fine orange-red, glittering powder fell out in a thick stream, like in an hourglass. Arthur watched the stream, mesmerized, his eyelids growing heavier and heavier, finally sliding shut…

A/N: Sorry that this is really short and not very interesting. I promise, the next chapter will be better.