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Merlin - Dialeddau

Title: Dialeddau
Genre: Gen
Rating: High PG-13 for violence and aftermath thereof
Length: ~2150 words
Spoilers: Nothing specific
Synopsis: Dialeddau: [Welsh] vengeance, nemesis.
Warnings: Violence and the aftermath thereof.
Author’s Notes: Also written for the cliche_bingo entry “injury”.
Disclaimer: I do not own this particular interpretation of the myths or characters. I am just borrowing them to play and making no profit from this.


Merlin wasn't moving when they found him. Stripped to his breeches, blood-soaked, and manacled to the wall. Arcane symbols were carved into his back, into his very flesh, blood drying in rivulets slowly dripping to his knees. His wrists were red and raw beneath the metal, and there was something that looked scarily like a brand upon his left shoulder.

A quick search provided a key hung on a hook on the opposite wall. Arthur's hand stung when he touched it, and he took Sir Gawain's glove gratefully, the protection of the leather allowing him to hold the metal long enough to fit it to the locks. The moment he did, Merlin seized, body flung backward, thrashing about though his eyes had yet to open. Gawain caught him, held him tight and lowered him gently to the floor.

“He needs cover,” Arthur ordered, unable to tear his eyes away from the monstrosity of justice before him. Merlin, Merlin, with his pale frail body, was carved like a tablet or a scrap of wood, front and back, in a language Arthur had no hope of translating, let alone understanding.

Sir Halwick tore down one of the curtains that shielded an alcove, revealing a table of sharpened instruments, their metallic gleam darkened by flakes of rusty brown. There was no doubt what their use had been. Ever so gently, the three of them wrapped their charge in the crushed velvet; all knowing it did nothing to cushion the horror beneath.

“What did they do to him?” Halwick asked, wide eyes not leaving the still twitching form.

“I don't know,” Arthur answered honestly.

“What did they want with him?” Gawain added.

Arthur knew what he meant: Why a servant when the Prince had been at his side? Why the weakest, most unarmed member of their excursion? Why torture him to this extent when there is no way he could know the court secrets? “I don't know,” Arthur repeated, and it broke him a little to admit it.

“How dare you remove him?” a new voice challenged. Arthur turned to find a man draped with finery and gold, symbols eerily reminiscent of those carved upon his servant sewn in delicate thread along his cuffs and hems. He knew immediately whom he wished to kill.

He drew his sword, eyes narrowed, anger boiling in his blood. “You did this.” It was not a question.

“His power will be mine,” the man said haughtily, completely unthreatened by the now three weapons drawn against him. A flick of his wrist and the swords went flying. Another, and the might of Camelot hit the wall.

Arthur pushed himself up, vision swimming. “Who are you?” he demanded. He did not ask what as it was clearly obvious: sorcerer.

“I am the one whose time has come. I am the one who shall hold the power. I am the one who will have the might of the world worship at my feet,” the man replied, voice growing deeper with each delusional statement.

“If you are so powerful, why do you need to torture a piddly little servant to get your way?” Gawain asked, reaching for the knife he kept at his waist. He was rewarded by being flung against the opposite wall.

The sorcerer stepped forward, grey hair shining silver in the flickering candlelight. “Because he is the only one who can stand in my way,” he announced. His eyes narrowed and the blackened depths now glowed a brilliant white. Merlin writhed on the floor in response and the man only chuckled, a disturbing echo in the silence.

His focus solely on the injured man, Arthur decided to take advantage of the distraction. He grabbed the dagger at his side and flung it, the sorcerer reacting just a bit too slow. It did not hit its mark, but winged it, the man's sleeve now stained with crimson.

Arthur watched as the man turned the full force of his fury upon him, readied himself for the attack. The inhuman eyes glowed once more, a wind stirred from nowhere blew hair and cloak behind him, but the strike never came.

Arthur now watched as something wholly unexpected happened. Merlin slowly uncoiled from himself, stood to his full height in the centre of the room, mindless of his undressed state. As he turned slowly to face his opponent, Arthur saw his blue eyes turn gold, a look of defiance form across his face like none he had seen before. “We finish this now,” he growled.

“Merlin!” Arthur called. There was no way a man in his state should be breathing, let alone fighting.

Merlin held up a hand to silence him, a ball the colour of his glowing eyes in the centre. A wave of his hand and the ball shot outwards, encompassing Arthur and his knights. He knew without trying that they were now held fast, even as he knew they were now protected.

“This is my realm, you cannot hope to defeat me,” the sorcerer shouted. His own eyes were as white as the strands of his beard, fingertips crackling with barely restrained energy.

“Your circle, yes,” Merlin admitted and for the first time Arthur noticed the darker stones forming a neat ring upon the floor. “My blood,” he continued, letting it drip from his fingers, looking at it like a curious abnormality and not his life slipping away.

“My control,” the other man smirked.

Merlin smiled, brutal, ugly. “Your blood has fallen now.” He raised his hand and the blood from the other man's wound congealed and floated towards him. “The rules have changed.” A flick of his wrist and the blood spattered on the floor, symbols hidden within the circle now glowing bright.

The other man reeled, staggering backward before finding his footing again. “You are weak,” he declared. “You cannot hope to defeat me!” He raised an arm, but the energy that had been ready to attack now retreated, leaving him far less frightening than before.

Arthur was beginning to tire of the sorcerer's arrogance. This untouchable being that was so obsessed with controlling another than Arthur himself had been able to harm him. True, he had no idea how yet to defeat him, but his mind was swimming with the possibilities.

So lost in his own thoughts, he almost missed Merlin's whispered reply. “You have already defeated yourself.”

He would have had to been blind, and possibly deaf, to miss what happened next. Merlin threw his arms to the side, head thrown back and spine bowed at an unnatural angle as he exposed his horrific injuries for all to see, an inhuman sound erupting from deep within his very soul.

The injuries began to glow, symbols carved in blood shone with the same light as his eyes, slowly separated themselves from his skin, hung in the air, heavy with promise. Merlin lowered his head now, gaze locked on the man now attempting to back away, a chant forming low in his chest before bubbling forth from his lips. Most of the words were nothing Arthur had heard before, except possibly in his nightmares. One word stood out, “Dialeddau,” it was a language Arthur barely knew but the word rang clear: vengeance.

The symbols spun, blurred together as they swarmed towards the other man, circling him as he cried out in both fear and agony. One by one, they broke off, slammed into his ancient form, causing him to writhe and holler. The circle still glowed bright around him though, even as he began to collapse into himself. Another incantation and the circle shrank, closing in around the now bleeding and nearly broken form. He threw his arms up in protection, but Arthur could tell it would be of no use. The circle tightened completely, blinking out in a blinding flash of light.

When Arthur could open his eyes again, the scene had changed. The sorcerer's broken form was nothing more than a charred heap on the blackened stone floor, no hint of the former circle even visible. Merlin was doubled over, slowly sinking to his knees as he gasped for breath.

Arthur pressed experimentally against what had been his bonds, feeling his hand pass through with no resistance. Not bothering to question it, he surged forward, rushing to his friend's side. “Merlin?” he breathed. He reached out a hesitant hand, fearful of causing more harm than good.

“It's over,” Merlin assured him with ragged breath. His head lolled slightly to the side and Arthur took it as the warning it was, catching him before he hit the hard stone floor.

He lowered him gently to the folded velvet Halwick provided, taking in his ashen features, the dark shadows under the slivers of his eyes. Reluctantly, he dragged his gaze downwards, bracing himself to see the damage once more, knowing it was likely his friend would not last to reach Camelot and that, even if he did, there was not much Gaius could do other than make him comfortable in his final moments.

He furrowed his brow at what he saw. Instead of open, seeping wounds beneath the blood, there was clear, pale flesh. He wiped gently across what had been a wound so deep he swore he saw muscle and bone, and revealed unblemished skin. “What?” he managed to choke out.

He looked to Merlin, his consciousness rapidly fading, and then to his knights, seemingly in the same state of shock as himself.

“He is healed,” Gawaine breathed, kneeling beside him.

Arthur swallowed heavily, fighting against the evidence he saw before him. His servant, his friend, had just taken on a sorcerer, and won. He looked up to his knights, knowing what they would expect him to do, what they would be willing to do should he not be able to bring himself to do it.

It was Halwick that spoke first, clearing his throat before managing, “He killed the sorcerer.”

Gawaine held up a hand. “The sorcerer attacked him with magic,” he began, voice strong and steady. “He resisted and the sorcerer's magic turned against him.”

Arthur blinked, realizing what was going on. His knights, sworn to the laws of Camelot, sworn to seek out and destroy the evil that was magic, would not tell, would not send Merlin to his death at his father's hand.

The barest hint of a smile graced Halwick's features. “This is why you do not challenge forces of uncontrollable strength. You never know the consequences.”

Arthur let out a breath he did not know he had been holding, relief flooding through him. “Let's get my errant servant home,” he ordered.

With matching nods, his knights helped Merlin to his feet, balancing his slight weight between them. The velvet had dropped , revealing one wound that had not healed. The brand stood stark red against the white of his shoulder and for the first time Arthur could see it clearly. It was a mark of ownership that he had seen only in the old texts, and usually associated with magic. Though he knew it caused his friend pain, he also knew nothing was more fitting. If Merlin had to carry something away from this experience, he was glad it was only this and nothing more.

He waited for the three of them to shuffle their way towards the door before picking up his sword from where it had been thrown. He moved to slide it into its scabbard, but stopped himself. There was one final act he felt the need to do.

Moments later, he joined his men, watching as they lifted Merlin up onto the horse, woollen blankets swathed around him. He glanced back at the stone building, thought of the sorcerer within and how he would never harm another again. Merlin had defeated him, and Arthur had made sure he was not coming back. He mounted the horse behind his friend, wrapped an arm around the slim waist to steady him, and pulled him close knowing without doubt that, finally, the danger has passed.

Merlin's head lolled back slightly, his eyes safely blue once more as he looked around as if just realizing where he was. “Sire?” he asked, voice no more than a whisper.

“Shh,” Arthur bade him. “You're safe,” he promised.

As Merlin sank back against him, he looked to his knights and saw their knowing looks. “That he is,” Gawaine said, and he knew he meant more than just from the sorcerer.

With a smile of gratitude, he spurred his horse forward. He thought of Camelot, of his father's stern gaze and Gaius' overprotective care. He thought of how the healer would not let Merlin out of his sight for days, if not weeks, and how Gwen would sneak in anyway and give Morgana and him updates on his status and boredom until Arthur himself pulled rank and Merlin was safely scrubbing boots and lighting fires once more. With a smile, he sighed, “Let's go home.”



Feedback is always welcomed.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 13th, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
Love, omg. I absolutely adore stories where Merlin has this all-encompassing, gigantic, frightening power, and I also love hurt!Merlin. It's like the best of all worlds - thank you!
Jul. 14th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC)
Wow! Thank you so much! This one came fully formed in my head a while back and I finally got the chance to write it down. So glad you liked the results!
Jul. 13th, 2009 05:32 am (UTC)
Hi, just wanted to say I really liked this fic
Jul. 14th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
Jul. 13th, 2009 06:48 am (UTC)
Very nice.
Jul. 14th, 2009 01:16 am (UTC)
Jul. 13th, 2009 10:20 am (UTC)
Very well done! I enjoyed this a lot, especially the knights conspiring to keep Merlin safe.
Jul. 14th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC)
Thank you! *Someone* has to have noticed how often he's saved Arthur's life by now, right? :)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 14th, 2009 01:19 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
Jul. 17th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
Like the first commenter said, the best of both worlds! Hurt!Merlin and all-powerful!Merlin in one fic, yay! :D

Um. 2 questions - do you have an image of what Merlin's brand looked like (just curious) and what did Arthur do before he joined the other on horseback?

Why a servant when then Prince had been at his side?

Found a typo too, I think you meant 'the Prince' here. ;)

Looking forward to more fics, yay!
Jul. 17th, 2009 05:04 am (UTC)
Thank you! I have an idea, but have not drawn the brand out so it's sorta there and sorta not, if that makes sense. I keep thinking, "Ooh, what about adding..." followed by, "No! Keep it simple!" As for what Arthur did - he made 100% certain that sorcerer was really and truly dead. :)

Thank you for pointing out the typo - fixed!
Jul. 18th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
That was great. I loved the power Merlin showed and how he defeated the sorcerer but even better were the knights and how they were willing to ignore it all for Merlin and Arthur's sakes. Well done.
Jul. 19th, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I had this image in my head of him standing with all of the symbols pouring out of him, and the rest just sort of fell into place. I love the thought of the knights and everyone else covering for him.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 5th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
There's never such a thing as a late comment. :)

So very happy that you liked this! Thank you for letting me know!
Nov. 5th, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
This is amazing! I loved Merlin's intense power and Arthur was certainly a lovely match in concern :D Beautiful!
Nov. 6th, 2009 01:35 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Dec. 28th, 2009 06:29 am (UTC)
Fantastic story \o/
Jan. 1st, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Dec. 28th, 2009 11:08 am (UTC)
Nice. I loved the end - until Arthur himself pulled rank and Merlin was safely scrubbing boots and lighting fires once more. I can so see that.
Jan. 1st, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! He would so totally do that. *g*
Jul. 2nd, 2010 09:56 am (UTC)
This was amazing, I'v read it twice now and each time I like it more than the last.

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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