Arthur probably should have known better. When did any mission they went on ever go smoothly? Was it was too much to hope for them to get to the Cauldron of Arianrhod without any mishaps? And of course, Merlin had managed to fall off a cliff. Wonderful. He had just regained consciousness to find himself at the bottom of the cliff himself, after climbing down to rescue Merlin.
In hindsight, he probably should have used the rope.
In some ways he was glad that Merlin wasn't awake yet, because Merlin would be unbearable about the whole 'forgetting the rope' thing. Then again, if Merlin did finally wake up, he could get Arthur's arm out from underneath this bloody rock so they could get up to Gwen before she woke up.
He tried again to push the rock on his arm off, but it refused to budge.
"Merlin!" Arthur called, giving his manservant a small kick to try and wake him up. Merlin remained immobile.
Arthur had to admit that the sight of Merlin lying still and quiet was unnerving. Normally he was talking mindlessly about the 'funny feeling' he had about the mission they were on at the moment. Luckily Merlin didn't seem to hurt by the fall, though it was hard to tell from the rock he was still stuck under.
He pushed at the rock again, but it refused to move.
Trying not to scream in frustration, he shifted onto his front in case that magically made the rock lighter.
Arthur could have cried out in relief. Standing at the top of the cliff was Mordred, looking happy to see them, which was nothing to the relief that Arthur had. He wanted to get moving again and (though he wouldn't tell Merlin) check that his bumbling servant was OK. First though he had to make sure that Gwen was still asleep, or this whole journey would turn out to be utterly pointless.
"Check on Guinevere!" he called up.
"I already have sire!" Mordred yelled back down, glancing back to what Arthur assumed was Gwen's unconscious form. "She sleeps soundly!"
Arthur exhaled loudly, glad that they could still get to the Cauldron and fix Gwen. All was not yet lost.
"I'll just climb down to help you then!"
Arthur's eyes snapped open. "NO! Just throw the rope down!"
But it was too late; Mordred had started to descend down the sheer cliff. Maybe it would be fine. Maybe Mordred wouldn't fall like they had. Maybe if they were lucky…
But since when was luck ever on his side?
Mordred slipped and tumbled down the cliff like a rag-doll, bouncing off the small ledges that were dotted across the cliff. Arthur winced as Mordred landed at the bottom with a loud 'CRACK' that echoed across the gully. A loud yell of pain told Arthur that nothing too vital seemed to have broken.
"Are you OK?" Arthur asked anxiously, trying to keep the frustration out of his voice.
"I think that was my leg" Mordred called back, and Arthur turned towards the sound. Mordred was pushing himself into a sitting position about 3 meters from where Arthur was, massaging his left leg with a pained expression on his face.
"Do you think you could get this rock off me?" Arthur asked, as Mordred glanced at Merlin's still unconscious form. Mordred made as if to crawl towards Arthur, but his leg gave out beneath him and he fell forwards with a small yelp. He pushed his chest off the ground and shook his head sadly. Arthur didn't bother to keep the annoyance out of his frustrated yell. He really did have the worst luck in the world.
"Is anyone else coming?" Arthur asked hopefully, but Mordred shook his head.
"I didn't know where you were going. I thought it might be some sort of secret so I didn't tell anyone." He glanced towards Merlin. "I suppose we'll just have to wait for Merlin to wake, and then he can get your arm free."
Arthur gave Merlin an apprehensive look. Everything relied on Merlin waking up.
They were doomed.
Arthur looked away from the side of the cliff, where he had been counting the different types of moss for some warped version of fun. Hopefully that groan meant that Merlin was finally waking up. He shifted onto his side so he could see Merlin, and the odd scuffling sound nearby meant that Mordred was probably doing the same thing.
"Merlin?" Arthur asked, as Merlin tried and failed to sit up. "Are you OK?"
"Yeah, fine" Merlin gasped in a voice that most definitely did not sound 'fine'. He pushed turned towards Arthur and Mordred, eyes widening in surprise and something else as his eyes rested on Mordred.
"Where did Mordred come from?" He asked, turning towards Arthur with confusion on his face.
"I was the rescue team" Mordred said wryly from the ground. "We've been waiting for you to wake for half an hour."
Half an hour? It had only been 30 minutes? Well, that had definitely been the most boring 30 minutes of Arthur's life and Arthur had been in council meetings about the quality of brass before. Some of those older council members could be incredibly tedious when they wanted to be. Which seemed to be all the time. He did spend most of his time in those meetings active avoiding eye contact with certain people in case they took it as a signal to engage him in conversation out of Round Table meetings.
Merlin turned away from Mordred and looked at Arthur, turning quickly into 'concerned Merlin' when he saw Arthur trapped under the rock.
"Are you OK?" he asked, as he struggled to push himself upright on an arm that appeared to be broken.
"I'm fine" Arthur said "Apart from the massive rock that's pinning me down to the ground."
Merlin rolled his eyes and finally managed to struggle into a standing position, clutching his am close to his chest. He made his way towards Arthur and bent down over the rock which was still pinning him down.
It took 10 minutes of futile grunting and pushing for Arthur to realise that Merlin was not going to be able to push the rock off with a broken arm.
It took another 5 minutes for Arthur to stop shouting loudly about this.
"Well, I guess we'll have to wait for one of the Knights to come looking for me." Mordred said, as Merlin sat himself down on a rock opposite the one still on Arthur. Mordred had pushed himself mostly upright and had propped himself up on his arms. "That should only take a day or two; Gwaine's expecting me in the tavern this evening."
Arthur let his head fall back out of exasperation. Even if she was still asleep at the moment, she'd definitely be awake by then, and Arthur wasn't too sure how she'd react when she saw him lying helpless down here. She was still enchanted to kill him, wasn't she?
There was a silence.
"So…" Merlin said awkwardly "Did anyone remember any food?"
"I spy with my little eye…" Mordred said slowly, glancing around at his surroundings "something that begins with 'M'"
"Is it 'Mordred' again?" Merlin asked, as Arthur resisted the urge to smash his head repeatedly against the cliff's rocky wall.
"Yeah. OK, your turn"
"I spy with my little eye… something beginning with 'M'"
"Is it me?"
"Is it… moss?"
"Moon? Men? Mud? Monkeys?"
"No, no, no and no."
"IT'S MERLIN!" Arthur yelled. "NOW SHUT UP AND LET ME BROOD IN PEACE!"
One second of silence.
"I spy with my little I, something beginning with 'C'…"
"…And that's why I keep treating you oddly Mordred." Merlin finished.
"So a creepy old man in a cave told you that I was going to kill Arthur, and you just believed him?" Mordred asked incredulously.
"It sounds so much worse when you put it like that" Merlin mused, while Arthur stared at him incredulously, the same as he had for the last 5 minutes as Merlin had finally revealed why he mistrusted Mordred.
"And you didn't tell me this why?" Arthur asked, as Merlin shifted about uncomfortably. Mordred had managed to push himself over to the cliff and had been leaning on it for support for the last 30 minutes. At least they'd finally stopped playing I-spy. If Merlin had named one more object starting with 'M'…
"I didn't really want to tell you that I'd just seen you die" Merlin said "Do you really think you would have taken it well?"
'No' was probably the correct answer, but Arthur wasn't going to tell Merlin that.
"Well, I haven't got any plans to kill Arthur at the moment, if that's what you're worrying about." Mordred said.
Merlin muttered something under his breath that Arthur only caught a few words of. And the few words that he did hear just confused him.
"What do you mean 'stupid Dragon'?"
"Come on Arthur, it's not that hard, just say 'Who's there'"
"Merlin, shut up"
"Fine then. Mordred, what about you then? Knock, knock."
"Merlin, you should count yourself extremely lucky that my arm's still trapped under this rock or I might strangle you!"
"I've only ever used it to help you, and you have no idea how dead you'd be if I didn't have magic! I've been protecting you with my magic since I came to Camelot!"
"Merlin, I'd advise waiting for Arthur to calm down before you use magic to move that rock."
"I spy with my lit-"
"IF YOU START THAT GAME AGAIN I WILL THROW THIS ROCK AT YOU, POWERFUL WARLOCK OR NOT!"
"Merlin, can't you just heal my arm?"
"I suck at healing magic Arthur; otherwise life would be so much easier for me"
Arthur groaned again. Typical. Merlin turned out to be good at something for once, but it was completely impractical. Merlin had managed to magic the boulder off his arm, but had been unable to heal Arthur's arm. So all three of them were still trapped at the bottom of the cliff. Joy.
"So wait, am I the only person who doesn't have magic down here? Why didn't you just tell me Mordred?"
"I see that I didn't even need to be here for you to get yourself into trouble."
Arthur groaned loudly. Just when he thought his crap day couldn't get worse, the universe went and made his evil half-sister appear while he was injured. Great.
"Morgana." Merlin said, looking up as to where she was standing up on the cliff ledge, peering down at them all with her trademarked smirk still on her face.
"Ah, Merlin" Morgana said, turning towards him. "I've been meaning to-AHH!"
Morgana had taken one step forward, perhaps to make some sort of ominous gesture, but instead had stood on a wobbly rock which had flown out from beneath her foot and sent Morgana flying backwards and off the edge of the cliff. She slid down the cliff face and landed on the ground next to them, her head hitting a rock as she did so.
"Morgana?" Arthur asked cautiously, as Mordred poked her with his unbroken leg.
"She's unconscious" Mordred said, turning to Arthur as Merlin rolled his eyes.
"That's the fourth person who's fallen off that cliff.' He commented, looking up at the cliff in question.
When Arthur got out from underneath this rock, he was going to put a fence along that cliff.
"Merlin, where did that dragon come from?"
"Ah. That dragon"
"Arthur? What am I doing here?"
Gwen's voice echoed down the cliff, full of confusion, fear and trepidation. Arthur wasn't sure whether that was a good thing or not. On one hand, she was still brainwashed to kill Arthur, and he was still lying helpless down here (though less helpless than he thought, considering his latest revelation over Merlin and Mordred's abilities.
Gwen's face peered over the edge of cliff.
"Gwen, we're trying to help!" Merlin called up, but Gwen was backing away from the edge, as if she was preparing to run away.
"By kidnapping me?" Gwen yelled, "Why would I- wait, is that Morgana? And a dragon?"
"It's hard to explain." Arthur called up "Gwen please! Look at me and tell me that you don't love me, look at me!"
Gwen had stopped moving now, and was standing at the edge of the cliff still, unsure of whether to run or not.
"Don't you remember what you told me the night I asked you to marry me?" Arthur asked, desperately trying to get through to her. She wasn't anywhere near the Cauldron of Arianrhod, but maybe she didn't need to be. Gwen froze.
"With all my heart" she said in a whisper that still managed to carry down to Arthur.
Arthur quickly turned to Merlin, who was still trying to heal his arm with little success while the dragon Aithusa flew around his head, looking far less terrifying than she did the last time Arthur saw her in the caves. "Will this work?" he asked, but Merlin just shrugged.
"Gwen?" Arthur asked again, as Gwen kept staring down at the four of them (five if you included Aithusa).
"Arthur!" She said, in a much more gentle voice than before. "Are you OK?"
"Fine!" he called up. If he still had the full use of both of his arms, he'd be punching the air right now. So the mission wasn't completely pointless. He'd learnt valuable information about Mordred, Merlin had finally told him that he had magic, Morgana was currently unconscious and he had a dragon. Well, Merlin had a dragon, but he was sure that he could force Merlin to let him borrow her for a bit.
Gwen looked anxiously down at them, as though she didn't believe that Arthur was OK for one second. Her eyes roamed over Arthur and his mangled arm, Mordred with his still broken leg, Merlin who was still trying to heal himself, Morgana's unconscious form and Aithusa who was flapping around them.
"You're a terrible liar Arthur" Gwen said, as Arthur shrugged. "You need help!"
"Wait a second; I'll just climb down to you…AH!"