This is it, folks. I want to thank everyone who reviewed, alerted, favorited, and kept up with this story until the end. You guys are truly awesome!
So, seriously, thanks for reading, drop me a comment if you can, and I hope to catch you in the next story
P.S. They, alas, still aren't mine
Merlin fought to break the hold on him, but his burley captor slammed a beefy fist into his stomach, effectively knocking the air out of him and ceasing his struggles. Behind him, he could hear Arthur struggling to get to his feet and dared not use his magic. He also caught a glimpse of Gwaine moving through the forest, no doubt returning to wherever he wandered off to, looking worried.
"I was going to trade you in for a hefty bounty," the bandit leader growled, roughing shaking Merlin, sending a sharp pain through his head and down his back, "but I'm beginning to think you're more trouble than you're worth."
"Arthur… Arthur tells me that… all the time," Merlin wheezed sardonically, slowly getting his breath back.
"Shut up," his captor snarled shaking his again, the pain returning with a vengeance, leaving his vision spotty at best.
"He tells me that, too," Merlin commented very much aware of the footsteps crashing after him and the bandit leader. "You know, if you play your cards right, you two could be the very best of friends."
With a growl, the bandit leader slugged Merlin in the side of the head, dazing the young warlock. His ears ringing, vision more black than spotty now (and wasn't that just great; he managed to get his sight back only to lose it again), he felt himself slowly getting dragged further and further away from his friends.
Or so he thought. Suddenly, the bandit stopped just as Merlin's hearing returned to him. He was very much aware of swords being drawn and a familiar voice saying, "I wouldn't go any further if I were you."
"I quite agree," another voice said, coming from his left. "You see, he's a friend of ours, and you appeared to have hurt him."
"And we just can't have that," a third, final voice stated, to Merlin's right.
Merlin felt himself hit the ground, pain shooting through his body, originating from his pounding head, very much aware of a struggle followed by a cry of pain and a heavy thud as something (or somebody) hit the ground. His hearing was going in and out, and he barely heard two new sets of footsteps quickly approaching before everything went dark.
Arthur skidded to a halt, eyes widening at the sight of Percival and Elyan surrounding a clearly unconscious Merlin. A few feet away from them laid the bandit, blood pooling around him, clearly dead, with Leon standing over him, sword held tightly in his hand, scanning the forest for anymore possible threats.
"How did you find us?" Arthur asked curiously as Gwaine pushed past him, rushing to Merlin's side.
"Your horses turned up a few hours ago, so Gwen sent us out to find you," Elyan responded pushing himself to his feet, meeting Arthur's eyes. "We've been searching for you ever since."
"We found that scum trying to take Merlin, so we were assuming you were close by," Percival stated sneering at the downed bandit.
"What happened to you three, sire?" Leon questioned sparing Arthur a quick glance before returning his gaze to his scouting.
"It's a long, long story," Arthur replied moving to kneel down next to Merlin. He checked his manservant over, finding a new bruise looming around his eye, spreading to his temple. "This is just not his day," he muttered lightly shaking the younger man's shoulder. "Merlin, wake up."
It took a few more shakes and a few more calls of his name to get Merlin coherent enough to get him to his feet. He swayed dangerously, back and forth, and Percival took pity on his, scooping the much smaller man up, into his arms.
"'m not a damsel," Merlin grumbled tiredly, but still burrowed his face into the gently giant's chest, much to the knights' and Arthur's amusement.
"Right now you are," Arthur deadpanned starting forward, "so shut up and accept it. And stay the hell awake."
"Bossy," Merlin murmured.
"Hey," Merlin complained, his voice sounding more like a whine, "that's my word."
"Merlin, I am the king, I can use it anytime I want," Arthur retorted and they continued to half-heartedly bicker the rest of the way home.