Hello, and yes, I'm still alive and still around! And lookit! A little fic to prove it. Originally a oneshot; it overgrew so ... more chapters.. Complaints? I hope not :s *wiggles fingers*
Before you all give me the 'Gaius-eyebrow', let me say.. Yes, ALL my ongoing fics are being worked on in turns, bit by bit, nothing is abandoned; I've just been busy with trips and a wedding (not mine!) and guests and workplace taking time from writing.. but it's coming;'Dreams of Pale White Flames', 'Growing Secrets', 'The Blood Potion','The Queen's Fool', 'The Request Game', 'The stray Dragonlord' and of course 'The Resemblance', with some oneshots in between the updates to keep it all interesting ;)
It's been quiet on the board.. and I won't deny, it worries me a little. May it be exams or vacations.. I also understand people might be moving on to other fandoms as the series is finished.. I still got lots of ideas though and am writing whenever I can. I just hope there are still people out there that get as excited about this wonderful realm as much as I do.
So. Without further ado, here you got another little story, that I had playing around with for a while now, and it's dedicated to... You. Yes. YOU. ALL OF YOU, who are reading and enjoying this fandom! ;) Thank you~ Hope you like it and feedback appreciated as always~!
Thinking back, Sir Percival tried to blame it on the dust; on the light, - or rather lack of it; the dimness of the tunnel; the rumbling noises; the rush; the panic; the danger;.. and just about anything he could think of instead of thinking what he actually saw playing out in front of him. - Because that was just too unbelievable to comprehend and accept.
His thoughts came to a blank halt once again; as he mindlessly fidgeted with the hilt of the small dagger he pulled from his boots some time ago, but was uncertain what to do with it just yet.
He stared at the king's manservant.
The always smiling, always helpful, up-for-a-jest, incredibly loyal servant, who was by the royal's side ever since Percival had met him; the lad, Lancelot thought the world of, and every time he had talked about him it was with a knowing smile and pride. There was no hunt or patrol or quest, the dark haired didn't follow their sovereign to, no matter the danger. He was probably the only one that back-talked to the monarch and dared to question him and call him names, and the king tolerated it; well most of the time anyway. The banter between them was enjoyable to listen to, and despite his brash behavior, the servant was dear to the king, even a blind man could see that. And now.. now what?
The manservant was unconscious, - more so, the manservant was unconscious and bleeding.
Instinct told the knight to immediately see to the wounds that were oozing away the precious life-liquid out of the body of the scrawny young man, but some other instinct told him to plunge the dagger in his heart and be done with it.
Obviously, the contradiction between the two urges so very opposite, the muscular knight couldn't make up his mind what to do and which instinct to follow. So Percival sat with a dagger in hand, staring at Merlin in the depths of a half-caved-in God-forsaken cave, well aware how time was running out for a decision; and he will have to make the right one.
The knight couldn't tell the time, but there had to be some length between the last time he saw torchlight and the moment he came to; to that attested the darkness and silence descended on him and the small sticky puddle of lukewarm liquid his palm landed in soon after waking and trying to pad his way around the blackness that surrounded him. It had a metallic smell to it, and felt eerily familiar, but not recognizing it immediately, the tall man quickly discarded his focus on it and instead tried to feel around the place he found himself in; a place he couldn't see anything in the pitch dark that stared back at him.
The walls had caved in, Percival recalled. They were running towards the entrance to the cave while the ground shook and the caverns grumbled and stones, large and small, were dropping in their paths and on their heads.
He was lucky to be alive, he realized, thinking back to how grim it all looked, and pushed the debris off of himself; a task seemingly easy, but it still took some time for the disoriented knight to complete.
Once not feeling any other weights on him, and catching his breath from the latest of coughing fits – the air, even if dark in front of him, no doubt still being full of dust – he stood, trying to asses the situation. For one, he quickly learnt that standing up straight isn't all that good of an idea for a man of his height, as at the first attempt to do so, he bumped his head into the cavern ceiling and spent the next couple of minutes caressing his injury and cursing silently. – That too, between coughs.
Percival guessed that the bigger boulders avoided him, still feeling sore here and there, he was certain there was a cut on his thigh and shoulder, and the back of his head felt especially sensitive, (now the bump added to it) but he was standing and in one piece with no major injuries and miraculously nothing broken.Such luck. He scoffed to himself feeling around his torso for any injuries and finding mere scratches and bruises.
He stood still listening for any sounds or signs, but besides the faint echoes of small rocks tipping over and rolling down, and his own breathing, the cave was silent. Dead silent.
It suddenly dawned upon him that he was trapped.
A small flicker of panic started to reach him and he desperately held his hands out and upon finding the wall he started patting and grabbing and pulling at the stones he reached and finding every inch movable and shiftable he frantically started scratching and clawing and digging for his freedom; all until the earthen wall gave way and rocks and soil started falling on him once again, swiping his feet from underneath him, forcing the tall man to fall against the debris and slouch down on it; and as dust rose with new waves, Percival could do nothing but kneel and cough.
This.. this cant be happening..He thought, but then decided to counter the panic before it gets too big to manage. 'No, they will find me and dig me out..'
He sat down with his back against the rocks trying to gather his thoughts and catch his breath.
The others got out. They did. He saw it. He was certain they got out. Hell, they were downright thrown out. And Merlin.. Percival shivered and decided to deal with that later, desperately wanting to cling onto something hopeful instead.
Arthur and the others were alive and will look for him and find him and get him out. He felt confident about that. No use wasting his strength on digging, when Gods know, he could even be digging in the wrong direction.
Suddenly he thought he heard something so he held his breath and listened as best as he could, as no matter how wide his eyes got and no matter how hard he tried to see anything, the darkness around him was thick and shapeless. He had to rely on his hearing.
For a moment he could have sworn he heard something stir, but now he could only hear his heart's frantic beating pounding in his ears and some pebbles still rolling about the slide he just created.
Gods, who knows how long will the air last in here. - But just to put his worries to rest, he felt the air move and Percival took it as good as a news as if he would've walked out of his imprisonment in that very moment, for it meant there was another opening somewhere.
Of course. There had to be. That witch Morgana had also been in there.
Oh.. she was..
No..! he hurriedly tried to reassure himself. Being trapped underground was bad enough, but being trapped with a powerful and crazed witch was the last thing he needed. Suddenly he wondered if she was around in the dark, or could she see in the dark? Surely she could use her evil magic to do such things..no.. it's more certain she escaped the cave the moment things went to hell and the walls started coming down on them. She always does that. Escape.
He swallowed hard and tried not to think of the possibility of the witch still being down there. It felt like walking around barefoot when there's a snake lurking around.
His heart slowly calmed and as no other sound invaded the darkness, he decided to try and find the other opening. Better then sitting still and waiting.He just wasn't the kind to sit around in wait. – so the knight pushed himself off the ground, keeping his head down and feeling around the wall, he started following his hand.
It worked; that is, until his foot caught in something and he nearly fell over it.
Realizing it didn't quite feel like a piece of wood or stone he bent down to check what it is, and once he touched it he felt a shiver run thought him. It was a leg.
Someone was down here with him, and in that moment he didn't realize who it could be.
Percival's hand quickly roamed around the body, feeling it still had warmth in it – still had life in it. He flinched whenever his fingers felt warm liquid and it suddenly dawned upon him just what that lukewarm puddle on the stone was and it made him shudder. Surely, it wasn't his. Was it from the figure he just stumbled on? He dreaded the answer, but his hands kept moving upward on the unmoving form, as he crawled closer, aiming to look for a pulse on the person's neck; but then his thoughts got interrupted as he felt a familiar fabric of a neckerchief under his palm and the next minute he jerked back as if he would've put his hand upon flames.
To hell with this...He growled to himself and hastily got up on his feet, backing away and reaching out to the wall to use as guide to get to the other entrance, to get away as far and as fast as he could; leaving Merlin behind..
The knight lost track of time, no doubt feeling about the walls instead of going in a straight line and not knowing where he is putting his foot, slowed him down. His mind however, was racing with the images he saw before the cave collapsed on them. He tried to give sense to it all, but no matter what explanation he came up with, it just didn't add up. Each theory he invented was limping; each interpretation had a gaping hole in it he couldn't ignore.
The cave was a labyrinth; and his hand met carvings and spider-webs; empty torch holders and tree-roots; water-leaks in the cracks and just about anything one can imagine in a cave - Percival met it all and more; and he wondered if he was going around in circles, also thinking he probably had double amount of injuries by now, simply from bumping into things in the dark; partly he had himself to thank for that and of how distracted he's been the whole while.
So focused was he on what he witnessed before the rocks fell, that he nearly missed the small opening on the wall. Lucky, there was a gush of wind coming towards him and once it grabbed his attention the knight started feeling about in it's direction and taking a sharp turn in the tunnel, and soon Percival even spotted a faint light seeping in. He felt more relieved with each step, but just before reaching the end of the cave he nearly fell when his foot got caught in something again, this time he found it to be just a piece of wood, instead of someone's limb; - it was an unlit torch to be precise, and the tall man mumbled to himself, how the thing could have been more useful when he was actually inside the caverns.
The forest crown and the gathered clouds made the early evening look even more gloomy and dark, yet Sir Percival was still rubbing his eyes and shielding them with his hand as he squeezed through the opening amongst the tree-roots. It took him a little time to recognize that he arrived to a clearing of some sort. He contemplated staying hidden, until his eyes become once again comfortable with light and for him to asses his injuries, before running out to find his comrades, but then he noticed a familiar figure walking passing his hiding place, just on the edge of the cleft he was facing.
He gave out a whistle, not to draw too much attention, but recognizing the signal, the figure immediately stopped and turned, sword drawn, and cautiously looked around until he spotted the giant knight.
"Percival!" the other man cried out in a hushed tone with relief and took a few steps towards his mate, looking at his footing, then let out a whistle of his own to signal the others, before turning back again to the other knight.
"Are you alright?"
"I think so." Percival nodded. "The others?" But before Gwaine could answer Elyan appeared on his right and soon Sir Leon and Arthur himself joined them. "We're fine." They all had their swords still drawn and looked pretty ruffled and muddy. The muscular knight figured he probably doesn't look any better.
"Percival! Are you alright?" Arthur asked hastily, observing the bloody cuts on the man's thigh and shoulder.
"Yes, Milord." The tall man said assuring, glancing at his right shoulder and upper arm, then to his thigh; they weren't serious injuries, nothing he couldn't handle, however his gaze paused a little as he saw the blood on his palm and it gave him a shiver. He looked up at his comrades instead and notices the king observing left and right the ditch he was in, then upon looking at Percival again, asked what the muscular man probably feared the most of hearing.
There was silence as they all waited for the answer. Percival just stared at them wide-eyed and mouth slightly agape, his throat feeling dry all of a sudden.
"He didn't come out with us." Leon supplied the information.
Not, that he didn't know that; but Percival still couldn't get his mouth to say anything, so instead he turned back towards the roots, looking at the entrance of the cave. - Yes, Merlin was still in there, but they didn't know. Merlin was still in there, because he, Percival had left him there..
"Oh no.." Gwaine mumbled under his breath and Elyan too let out an uncomfortable sigh.
"He still must be in the caves.." Leon said somewhat shocked, though it was obvious.
The tall knight looked back up on his king and his fellow knights, taking in wordlessly their expressions of concern; they no doubt mistaking his own to be the same, but still, even then all he felt was confusion, denial and guilt.
Arthur was the hardest to look at. The king stood firmly with a clenched jaw not saying a word and Percival with all his strength and height felt small in the face of the man that was worried over his friend; even if said friend was a servant.. and a traitor. And for a moment the knight wondered if the king really knew just who was polishing his armor.
"We can't pull you out." Arthur then stated, motioning to the sides of the ditch, and Percival glanced around just now to realize he was in fact in a deep hole with steep earthen walls and no easy edges. "The horses got taken. We got no rope." The king said, forcing on a calm voice and he fiddled on his side, and then tossed his waterskin for the tall man to catch. "But we will come back for you.." He added biting off the end of the sentence and for a moment had a pleading look upon him and an unspoken 'and for Merlin' lingered in the pause before he continued. "We should be back by sunrise.."
Percival merely nodded.
"Here." Elyan spoke and tossed his own weapon in. "Morgana's men might still be around."
"You also might need this." Gwaine unbuckled his cape and bundled it up for the knight to catch.
"Stay safe." The king said. "We'll come back as soon as we can."
"I'll go look for Merlin." Percival found his voice at last, even if it was a little more hoarse then he liked. He turned to pick up the torch he saw not long ago, noting how it will have it's use after all, and willing unwilling he descended back into the dark labyrinth. - He also had a dagger in his boots and wondered if he will be using that as well..