Tada! I has another story!

Alright, so by now I am asuming you have probably caught on that I am a bit twisted (but hey, I keep life interesting). I'm not sure if a story like this has already been done. It probably has. Oh well, this is my version then. I wasn't actually going to post this until I was finished writing it, but seeing as it is already about twice as long as I thought it would be (and I'm no where near finished with it), I figured I'd start posting the first bits. Maybe, 1 update a week, kind of thing? Depending on the feedback I get, I spose. If no one's interested, I'll just finish the story for myself.

Anyway, I do not own Merlin. I just took the characters out to play with. I promise to put them back where I found them when I am done. :)

They were closing in. Prince Arthur could sense it.

For five days, the Knights of Camelot had been searching for a group of bandits that had been terrorizing small villages on the borders of the Kingdom. They rode through, raiding homes and stealing crops, killing anyone who tried to stop them.

Arthur couldn't wait to run them through with his sword.

Up ahead, through the trees, Arthur could see someone had set up camp. He raised a hand, alerting the Knights. They dismounted their horses, slowly moving forward.

As Arthur stepped through the trees, he found a man sitting beside a small fire, cooking something. On the far side of the clearing, another man was lying on the ground near a tree. Arthur handed his reins to one of the Knights, stepping forward.

The man by the fire jumped to his feet, pulling a dagger from his belt. "Who goes there?"

"I only want to ask some questions," said Arthur, ignoring the man's question.

The man stared at him. "What kind of questions?"

"There is a group of bandits that was recently seen in the area-"

"Oh, yeah," said the man, looking behind himself. "I seen them passing by only just hours ago. Headed that way. Hadn't set up me camp yet, so I was able to hide."

Arthur also looked behind him, but his gaze only fell on the other man by the tree. He was startled to find himself being stared at by unnerving, deep blue eyes. He was young, maybe a few years younger than Arthur, almost more of a boy than a man. Arthur shook his head slightly, returning to the conversation. "How many men are they?" he asked.

"Oh, a dozen or so. Large group. They-"

He was interrupted by a high pitch whine. Arthur realized it had come from the boy.

"Shut up, you!" hollered the man, spinning around and storming towards him. The boy tried to scramble away only to be jerked to a stop. Arthur gasped in shock as he realized the boy was chained to a tree.

"You will remain silent," continued to yell the man, reaching down and slapping the boy across the face, causing the boy's head to snap to the side. "You do not make a sound." Another slap. "I don't even want to hear you breath." He made to slap him again, a surprised sound slipping from his lips as he discovered his hand wouldn't move.

The man spun, finding himself face to face with Arthur.

"Don't do that," hissed Arthur, tightening his hold on the man's arm enough to leave bruises.

The man frantically nodded, trying to free his arm. "Yeah, of course. Whatever you say."

Arthur glared at him for a few more seconds, before relinquishing his grip. The man hurried back to the fire as Arthur glanced down at the boy.

He was staring up at him with wide, fearful eyes. He was naked and dirty, his skin covered in painful burns and blisters from exposure to the sun. He had bruises and cuts in various stages of healing scattered across his body, a deep purple bruise already forming on his cheek. His long, dark hair was matted in clumps. A thick leather collar was secured around his neck.

Arthur felt a pang of pity and a desperate need to help the boy. He turned, walking back to the fire and facing the man. "Who is that?" he asked, pointing back to the boy.

"Bought him off a fellow I met, oh, a year ago or so. Think I may have wasted me money. Bloody useless thing. Can't even follow orders."

"How much?"

The man stared at him, incredulous. "Excuse me?"

"How much for him?"

An evil grin split the man's face as he listed what he considered to be an outrageous price.

Arthur nodded, reaching into his belt. "Alright," he said, pulling out the sum and holding it out.

The man stared at him with wide eyes. He had not honestly expected Arthur to meet his price. It was ten times the amount he had originally paid for the boy. He eyed the money. "I'll just unlock him then, shall I?" He walked back to the boy, who flinched away from him. The man pulled a cord from around his neck, a key attached. After unlocking the chain, which fell heavily to the ground, he yanked on the collar. "Stand up, boy," he roared.

The boy shakily got to his feet. Arthur eyed him over. He was tall and disturbingly thin. He could count every single rib on the boy. His muscles trembled and his legs looked unsteady as he stepped forward.

"Hurry up," growled the man, pulling on the collar. The boy stumbled, falling to the ground. "Useless…"

"I'll take him from here," cut in Arthur, as the man drew back a foot to kick the boy. He stepped forward, motioning for the man to back off.

Arthur reached down to help the boy back up, but he flinched away from Arthur. "Okay, okay," soothed Arthur, straightening back up slowly. "You can get up on your own."

The boy stared at him with those wide blue eyes. He unsteadily stood, his eyes never leaving Arthur's.

Arthur turned back to the man. "The direction the bandits went?"

The man pointed, before returning to his dinner, not sparring them another glance.

Arthur headed back to the Knights, walking slowly enough so that the boy could keep up.

"Sire," started Sir Leon, stepping forward. "I…"

"Speak your mind," said Arthur.

Leon glanced towards the boy. "Sire, I am not sure that your father would approve-"

"My father is none of your concern," cut in Arthur. "I will deal with him."

Leon nodded, falling back into the group.

"The bandits are heading South," Arthur addressed the group. "We will ride for a few more hours before setting up camp. Let's go."

The Knights all mounted their horses, turning in the right direction. Arthur glanced between the horse and the boy, trying to decide how to do this. He climbed into the saddle, looking back down to find the boy standing beside the horse's flank, facing forward. He looked as if he was prepared to walk beside the horse.

"Raise your arms," said Arthur.

The boy looked up at him, confused.

"Your arms," repeated Arthur, motioning with his own. "Raise your arms."

Slowly, the boy complied. He yelped in shock as Arthur grabbed them and pulled him onto the horse. The boy stiffened as Arthur settled him side-saddle in front of himself. He flinched as Arthur reached around him, turning the horse south and starting off after the Knights.

Arthur sighed. The boy was leaning as far away from him as possible. "You're going to fall off the horse," Arthur told him "I'm sorry we don't have a spare one for you."

The boy glanced back at him, his eyes curious.

"Really, you should lean against me or you'll fall off," added Arthur.

He sighed again, looking ahead as the boy ignored him. He had caught up with the Knights, and they had a decent pace going. It wasn't as fast as Arthur would like, but with the wooded terrain that was not possible.

Surprise flooded Arthur as he felt a body press against his. He quickly glanced down to find the boy had leaned back against his left shoulder. A small smile flitted across Arthur's lips as he moved his horse to the front of the Knights.

If you don't review, I'll sic my hermit crab on you! MUAHAHAHA! (I need it to be Thursday, so classes will have started, and I'll have something constructive to do with my time.)