DISCLAIMER: I own nothing in this story but the story itself and the anonymous villains.

Hey guys. I haven't posted anything in a while... Ok, that was the understatement of the century. I know and I'm ashamed to say that I have let this account sleep for what was it? two, three years? I just didn't feel like Fanfiction anymore, you know? Stuff happened, school got in the way, I floated away from the stories...

But for almost a year and a half now I've gotten back into my habit of reading fanfics so, after all this time, I decided I should make a proper comeback and write one for myself.

It was supposed to be a one shot but yeah, things got a little bit out of hand. Anyway, now I'm into Merlin so this is probably all that I'll be writing for a long time.

Before I finish, I just wanted to apologize for not finishing my other story. I promise I will try: it's the best I can do.

Without further ado, I hope you'll enjoy this as much as I have when I wrote it.

It was official. It was the worst, the very, very worst day of his entire life. He couldn't possibly put into words how extremely horrible and impossibly awful that day had been.

Actually, if he were to be honest, that day hadn't been particularly bad. It was the usual hunting trip routine: ride out into the forest with a pack of overzealous, annoying knights (for whom the idea of fun could be described by shooting arrows at random animals), make camp, sleep, wake up, hunt again, be attacked by bandits, fight off said bandits and then return home.

No, if he were to be completely honest with himself, things had been adding up to this moment for several days.

First, he miraculously seemed to have caught a cold. Or maybe it was an allergy, who knows? Point was, for the last couple of days he appeared to be sneezing every five minutes and his movements were slow and sluggish, not to mention that he couldn't stomach almost any form of solid food and his magic kept doing some kind of somersaults inside of him.

One time, two days ago, he had been helping Gaius prepare some strength enhancing medicine for Arthur's knights. They had been at it for hours and finally had enough of the little bottles filled with red liquid, when he sneezed.

And all of the precious bottles of medicine blew up.

Of course, he had had to spend that night remaking them all.

The prince himself had been in a bad mood and had pushed Merlin this way and that and never seemed to be content with what he had done. He was always either late, or what he did wasn't good enough, or he had forgotten something and so and so. His weakened state did not help any, either.

Oh, and let's not forget Agravaine. God, he was this close to sneaking into his chambers and plating some form of deadly poison, or just simply disguising as a thief or something and ending it once and for all. The man was an annoying, sneaky little bastard. He had seen him slipping into the woods every night and he was sure he was seeing Morgana. He had waited for the man every time and once Agravaine returned with some kind of bag that was practically reeking off magic.

And worst even than the very bad and frustrating feeling of not being able to figure out what the two were planning was the fact that he could do anything about it, short of killing the man. (Which, honestly, wasn't his style.) He couldn't warn Artur or the knights, and Gaius had swatted the news away, telling him not to worry because there was nothing they could do for now.

As such, he had actually looked forward to this little hunting trip. He could go out into the woods for a couple of days, away from his duties both as the prince's manservant, Gaius' pupil and his destiny. Away from plotting little uncles and oblivious kings.

Yeah, he had to put up with the bunch of arrogant knights, but they were his knights, the 'knights of the round table'. (As he had taken to calling them after Morgana's whole take-Camelot-over thing.)

Plus, Arthur was always in a good mood during these trips and he could finally feel useful again when he'd save all of their asses from the bandits (without anyone noticing, of course) that would undoubtedly come.

His good mood couldn't be shaken even by his sneezing and the magic doing flip-flops in the pit of his stomach, or anything, really.

And then it happened.

They had set out at dawn, as usual. Ridden deep into the forest. Started hunting. Night had fallen. They camped, slept, woke up and resumed the hunting.

He remained at the rear, content to just let the knights crawl through the trees, shooting at rabbits and deers.

He was enjoying the warmth of the sun that kept escaping through the canopy above, the gentle rustle of the wind, the sound of birds singing, Gwaine blabbering now and then under his breath about princesses (and Arthur shutting him up in the same manner) and all that.

Of course bandits attacked them. Of course they fought it off. Of course he helped.

What didn't usually happen was the arrow that had planted itself in his thigh.

They all nursed him (a bunch of mother hens, all of them, but he wasn't going to complain now) and set out towards Camelot, but they were too far away and night had caught up with them, so they had to camp. And, of course, they didn't have any game, having been too busy fighting bandits and getting Merlin back to Camelot to hunt.

As a result, he had fallen asleep shivering from a low fever, his leg on fire and his stomach empty and rumbling.

He woke up with a start after a particularly brutal nightmare. He had been tossing and turning for the most part of the night and when he finally managed to settle, it was only to these nightmares.

Merlin felt his throat dry and he hurt all over, but the pain was especially vicious in his right leg. He felt cold and hot at the same time and though he wanted to open his eyes and locate the water skin, he just couldn't find it in him to move.

After a while, however, he couldn't put up with it anymore, so he slowly opened his eyes. When he only met darkness, the boy realized it was still night. He couldn't have slept too much.

The fire was out already, so he could barely see his own hands, but he shakily stood up, gripping the hems of the blanket and trying to wrap it tighter around his prone form. His fingers closed around air.

Where the hell was his bloody blanket?

He grit his teeth to stop them from clattering. God, it was cold. And he was tired. And he hurt. And he couldn't see a thing, which could put a real damper on him locating the water skin.

Wait. Come to think of it, why was the fire out? Wasn't one of the knights supposed to keep watch and tend to the fire?

A feeling of dread washed over him, settling into his stomach. Something was wrong.

Then, he thought bitterly, of course something was wrong. Now of all times something just had to go wrong, didn't it?

"Arthur?" he tried, but his voice felt hoarse and too low even to his ears. Clearing his throat, he tried again. "Arthur"


He could feel annoyance creeping on him now.


No answer. Great.

Thinking it couldn't possibly get any worse, as they were either asleep or not there, he whispered "Leoht" under his breath, and a sphere of soft light formed in his right hand. The warlock shut his eyes, then opened them slowly and waited for them to adjust.

A white glow settled over the remains of the fire, around which lay scattered haphazardly blankets and swords.

"Amazing" Merlin muttered. If the imprints on the ground that even he couldn't miss didn't give it away, then the state of their belongings (a couple of bloody swords, blankets ripped apart, bags emptied of their contents) were clear signs that there had been a fight. Apparently, he had slept through that.

Then again, he couldn't see any bodies, so that had to mean his friends were still alive. And if that was the case (and Merlin would've bet his life that was the case) where the hell were they? There was only one answer his mind would give to the question, and he didn't like it one bit: his friends had been kidnapped.

Yet he was still there. But why? Why wasn't he dead? Did whoever did this think he was already a goner and they needn't bother with him? Or he simply hadn't been deemed enough of a threat to go through the trouble of dealing with him? That, Merlin had to admit, stung his pride a bit. He surely couldn't look that bad. Right?

He sighed and gave to stand up. Which ended up with him back on the ground when his vision went black and he felt his whole body light up with pain.

His sphere of light had also died out when he collapsed, leaving him once again in complete darkness.

Merlin swore and lighted the sphere again, uttering a few extra words to make it float next to him as he gave standing up another try.

After two more failed attempts, a lot of cursing and tears of pain stinging his eyes, the boy looked around for something he could use to support himself, seeing as his leg couldn't be trusted.

Finally, he settled for Gwaine's (at least he thought it was; it didn't really matter) sword. He reached with his hand and felt his eyes burn gold as his magic made the blade fly graciously through the air, before slipping right into his ready fingers. He then planted it firmly into the soft ground and pushed himself up into a crouched position.

The young warlock kept his weight solely on his left foot while he regained his breath.

If standing up had all but exhausted him, how on Earth was he going to find and save his friends?

That's it. For now. Tell me what you think?

Don't worry, I have the next chapter(s) already written, I just have to check them. I might post chapter two this very evening if I can polish it in time.

Thank you for reading and see you in a bit^^