A/N: New story! Yay! :D I'm actually not sure how often I'll update this as I've signed up for a Big Bang sort of thing, but my brain wouldn't even let me start on that one until I'd written this. I have a feeling this one will take precedent over my "Chronicles of Camelot" piece since it involves more yummy research, but we shall see. For now, enjoy!

I dedicate this one to LFB72 because I love her to bits :)
Go and check out her latest story; read and review! s/9991946/1/In-Deep-and-Out-of-Control

Lord Faltare and his household leaned in, staring with wrapt attention as the Court Warlock, oblivious to the eyes upon him, took his first drink from the goblet in front of him. They grinned gleefully as he tried to suppress his grimace with a smile.

"This certainly is an... interesting vintage, Lord Faltare."

The middle-aged man laughed heartily.

"It is at that! Most guests find it completely undrinkable!" He laughed again, as it seemed he frequently did. "It's made with betony- some ancestor of ours thought it prevented drunkenness and our family wine has included it ever since!"

"Betony?" The warlock inquired. It sounded vaguely familiar, but he couldn't quite call it to mind.

"Tallish plant, purple flowers; some call it 'bishopwort'."

"Hm," something niggled at his memory but he still couldn't quite grasp it.

"I'm surprised you haven't heard of it- most physicians use it to treat all manner of things; gout, arthritis, stomach woes, migram... it's even said it prevents bad dreams!"

"Well, I can see why you're all in such good health then!" Merlin grinned more genuinely before braving another swig of the bitter drink.

"For that I have my own physician and his assistants to thank- they are at the forefront of medical advancement. Gaius might even be able to learn a thing or two from them!"

The physician's ward smiled indulgently when the man began to chuckle more, grasping his middle as he chortled. He had met the aforementioned men when he stopped by the infirmary to pick up a simple tonic for the cold he'd developed on the way there (which was Arthur's fault for taking so long to allow Merlin to travel without half an army that he wound up riding during the rainy season). The place had been a mess of star maps and bizarre instruments that looked like they belonged in a torture chamber. When he had asked after a few herbs the trio had had no idea what he spoke of and offered to 'balance his humours' instead. Merlin had no idea what that meant but, seeing the sharp tool in the physician's hand, thought it better to decline.

He had developed a slight fever since then, but certainly wasn't going to return there unless he were dying.

A tickle in his throat threatened to provoke a bout of coughing so he took another mouthful of the dubious beverage, this time completely containing his wince. The way his stomach roiled, provoking his magic to the same, made him glad he had obtained some mint earlier. Perhaps he'd be able to find some thyme for tea to help him get to bed as well as soothe his throat.

The coughs came anyway, leaving him bent over the table and struggling for breath.

"My Lord?"

The former servant groaned internally at the title. Arthur had been entirely too satisfied with himself when he'd ennobled his best friend, grinning smugly whenever someone addressed him respectfully.

"Just 'Merlin', please. I'm alright, just a tickle," he waved away the maid that had stepped forward to assist him and sat up. The room spun a bit and he blinked in surprise. Surely his fever wasn't that high?

"Lord Merlin?"

He blinked again. How had Faltare gotten in front of him so quickly- and what was he so concerned about? The man's lips were moving under that generous mustache, but the warlock heard no sounds. What is going on?

Another blink and the lord's brawny hands were now grasping his shoulders. Merlin had a suspicion they may be the only reason he wasn't lying atop his supper.
What- His magic gave a sickening lurch and his dimming vision tunneled before he lost consciousness completely.