Each word is punctuated by a blow to the torso. A strangled gasp escapes the manservant's blue-tinted lips as he struggles to stay conscious.
The Prince takes a few steps backward, arms held slightly away from his sides, fingers splayed. His eyes have taken on a bright gold, almost yellow colour that nearly seems to give off light. Merlin hadn't noticed it when the Prince first asked to speak with him. Nothing seemed particularly out of place then, but then he had woken up in some sort of damp dungeon with his arms shackled above his head.
Then Merlin noticed the light in his eyes.
A possession of some sort, he had initially thought.
Well. Not initially. His true initial thought was that the Prince had gone absolutely bonkers and decided to take it out on Merlin.
(Still a possibility.)
What appears to be a glass orb hovers a few inches off the ground in the centre of the room, directly behind the Prince. It glows with the same tint as his eyes, only brighter, on the whiter end of the spectrum. Merlin's frazzled mind can't make sense of it, and when he tries to focus his gaze upon the object, everything goes fuzzy (fuzzier, anyway).
Merlin's head lolls against his chest, eyelids fluttering over his glassy eyes.
"No you don't," the Prince hisses, grabbing Merlin and shaking him back to awareness. "No, I want you awake when I kill you." His tongue flicks from between his teeth.
The young wizard blinks, staring out at his deranged––friend? prince? employer?––and speaks.
"Why are you doing this, sire?" he asks, quiet but genuinely curious.
Merlin's gaze flicks to the artifact, which raised another inch or so higher, and then back to the Prince.
"Why is killing your manservant your biggest concern?"
The Prince leans forward, putting his lips close to Merlin's ear. "I know what you are." Voice not quite his, edged in something metallic. The wizard stiffened.
He swallows before speaking, determined to reach the Prince inside that empty husk. "Well, that's very nice and good, sire, but you have combat training at half-three, and if you're not there, it'll be my head, I'm sure of it. But it's much later than half-three, isn't it? Did you really think no one would question your unannounced absence? Our, unannounced absences?"
The Prince steps back, a crease appearing on his brow.
Merlin shakes his head. "Dear me, sire, dear me. Not your smartest move, if I may, but then again, rarely do you ever think––"
He finishes his sentence with a wheeze as fist comes into contact with unarmored flesh.
Sagging against the stone wall, Merlin can't even double over to protect himself. "I suppose I deserved that..."
"You always have such snide remarks, you always need to have the last word in, don't you? Feeling superior with your intellect, and whatnot, because you are inferior in every other way."
The Prince grabs Merlin's face and forces him to look at him. "Where are your books now, Merlin? Where are your scrolls and words to save you?"
Merlin dips his head. "I'll always have my words, sire."
He feels every blow.
He doesn't recall the Prince every being quite this strong, but perhaps whatever is possessing him is projecting its strength to the king.
"Taking the 'brute strength' approach, huh?" Merlin spits a bit of blood onto his shirt.
"I should have chained you to the floor," the Prince answers. He digs his heel into the side of Merlin's knee, prompting a strangled cry. "It would be easier to kick you."
He lets his manservant hang and turns his back, kneeling before the orb.
Merlin musters up what ever strength he has left to hold his head up. "Kill me." Blood drips from his nose into his mouth, but he doesn't spit it back out. It leaks from the corner of his lips. "Please, Arthur."
The Prince turns, light in his eyes glowing brighter, brighter.
"I don't ask for much from you. Just do this. End it now."
The Prince approaches, boots echoing in the enclosed room. He tenderly holds Merlin's face in his hands, brushing his blood-caked hair from his forehead and traces a line lightly on his skin with his fingertip.
Like a stylus, he draws a thin gash, a wound that cries blood in the way Merlin refuses to cry tears.
"Kill you?" he asks. "Why on earth would I want to do that, Merlin? I don't want to kill you. I can't use you if I do that. You're no good to me dead."
He continues on as if the Prince hadn't spoken. "I know you're in there somewhere, Arthur. Please, if you can hear me, just kill me."
The Prince presses down on his chest. "Do you so easily cave? This is nothing, Merlin. When I am through with you, you will beg me to kill you. You will welcome death like an old friend but even then, I will deny you what you crave."
Darkness is creeping over Merlin, smothering him slowly, like a blanket. He no longer wishes to fight, to fight the Prince, to fight the entity holding him that will surely take over Merlin, and use what magic he has to grow powerful.
The entity would most likely dispose of the Prince when it was through with him.
This is what drives Merlin to fight back the fog.
"Kill me, Arthur." He feels the thing feeding off him already. If he can sever it soon, perhaps it will be relinquish its grasp on the Prince.
"Arthur's gone, Merlin. And soon, you will be, too."
"No." What used to be the Prince grinds its fist into Merlin's ribcage. Again. And again. "I want to feel you shatter under my fingers first."
Something in Merlin breaks.
Something in his mind. Something in his throat. Something(s) in his torso. Splinters.
A scream rips itself from his very being, from the foundations of his person. He screams and screams and screams.
The prince leaps back like he was scorched. He bumps into the still-rising glass orb, knocking it to the ground, where it breaks into a million pieces. A blinding light illuminates the dungeon. The Prince arches his back, mouth open, eyes open, and the golden light spills from him. The chains holding Merlin up turn to dust and he slams into the ground.
The Prince collapses.
He lies in limbo as the entity scatters and he reawakens shortly, coming to with a gasp, eye flying back open.
He looks around wildly, gaze finally settling on the body against the wall. No. No.
As he stumbles to his fallen servant––friend––Arthur only remembers snippets. But that body is very real.
"Wake up." He cradles Merlin's head in his lap. "Wake up. Wakeupwakeupwakeup."
"Kill me." A garbled noise from the fallen sorcerer.
Two blue eyes lazily open. Arthur chokes.
Merlin blinks. "Arthur?"
"I'm here, I'm here, stay with me, you daft––sodding––"
Arthur freezes. "Merlin?"
"Kill me, sire. Please. Please just kill me."
It's the prince's turn to scream. And he does. He screams and yells until his voice cracks and half the castle comes running (they were already halfway there). And each scream is punctuated by the small "kill me" of a broken servant.
A/N: To be continued! Thank you for reading, I hoped you enjoyed. Reviews appreciated!