Leon looked down at the bed he was standing next to, in which was a very pale and ill looking Gwaine, to Gaius who was standing opposite him.
"I'll be fine all I have to do is sit on a horse for a bit" Gwaine tried weakly.
"No" Gaius replied sternly.
"But I'm not coughing any more." Gwaine tried to laugh but ended up having a massive coughing fit, he smiled slightly. "Well when I say anymore I really mean hardly at all" he grinned up at Gaius.
"No" he repeated, "you are not going on that patrol."
"Are you sure he can't?" Leon asked, Gaius looked up and raised his eyebrows before answering rather irately.
"Yes I'm sure, who is the physician round here?" Leon sighed and looked across to Percival who was standing silently in the middle of the room, he shrugged.
"You said it was a twenty four hour thing."
"I did and it will be if he stays here and rests. Now if you don't mind I have other patients that need seeing to" and with that Gaius swept out of the room.
"Honestly I thought you would be glad not to go" Percival said walking over to them.
"Well I would be but not going means being bored out of my mind here instead." Leon smiled slightly.
"Look it's for the best you stay here for today but when you're better I'll schedule you onto more patrols. Only because you're so desperate to come." Gwaines’ smile vanished instantly not having realised he was joking.
"You know what I don't think I can come, patrols, boring things, never liked them. Quite glad really, no need to bother.” Percival started to laugh and realisation dawned on him, he sighed in frustration. "Leave the dying alone and go and tell Arthur the bad news."
"Bad news! Who said this was bad news? At last one patrol that'll be quiet." Gwaine scowled and turned over so he didn't have to look at their grinning faces. He heard them start to leave before they stopped again.
"We’ll be back once it's over to see how you're doing of course and let you know how everything went." Gwaine could tell they were still smiling and knew they would only come back to irritate him further, and probably bring Elyan as well. He reached subtly for a small pillow, the only thing near him good enough to throw, and launched it across the room in their general direction. From the sound of it, it missed them both of them. He sighed as he heard them close the door behind them and turned over trying to get some sleep.
Leon and Percival having exited the room quickly after the pillow incident, in case he found something better throw, and being slightly late hurried down to the courtyard where an angry Arthur waited with a smirking Elyan.
"Where have you two been? You're late" he all but shouted.
"Our apologies, sire but…" Before he could finish his sentence Arthur butted in again.
"And where on Earth is Gwaine honestly I am going to kill him." Leon, knowing Arthur was most likely about to go into some sort of rant, spoke up loudly.
"My lord, that is what we are trying to tell you."
"Then where is he?"
"He came down with an illness late last night and Gaius has told him he can't come today, he sends his apologies."
"And you've just seen him?" Percival nodded. "Well let's hope he gets better but now we need to get going." With that he swung up onto his horse and rode out the courtyard, closely followed by Elyan, Percival, Leon, Merlin and two other knights that were to join them.
Elyan sighed slightly louder than he meant to which caused Merlin to look round. "You alright?" he asked slowing down so he was riding next to him.
"Honestly starting to wish Gwaine was here, at least then it would slightly more interesting than this."
"This is good though, the quieter it is the safer Camelot is" Merlin tried. Wanting to join in on any conversation Percival rode up beside them.
"Elyan's right if we have to ride any longer like this I'm going to fall asleep in my saddle."
"What's got into Arthur?" Elyan asked. "He's been in a bad mood all day." Merlin shrugged.
"Didn't sleep last night apparently."
"Poor excuse." Their conversation lapsed into silence as they rode further on. Just as they could at last see Camelot coming into view Arthur halted the patrol. Merlin rode forward.
"Arthur what's going on?" The only response was Arthur holding his finger to his lips, Merlin listened but couldn't hear anything. Turning back to the others he could tell they couldn't hear anything either and were starting to get fed up. He didn't blame them, they were so close to home. A rustle in the trees to his right caught his attention he turned back just to catch a glimpse of a hooded figure running across the road in front of them. Feeling slightly disappointed that that was it he turned back to Arthur and realised he had dismounted.
"Arthur that was it let's go." Arthur shook his head and drew his sword. Motioning for the others to do the same, they quickly dismounted just as a mob of angry bandits charged straight past them.
"Arthur that was..."
"But why didn't he attack us?"
"I don't know but I'm going to find out" and with that he plunged into the trees after them. Quickly grabbing their swords the rest of the knights and Merlin ran after him. They caught up and silently approached the clearing, where the bandits seemed to have gathered. Staying just out of eyesight but close enough so they could hear they crouched down to see what was going on. The bandits seemed to be interrogating the hooded figure they had seen earlier. By the looks of things he had tried to put up a fight.
"Where is it?" One of them questioned.
"Now why would I tell you that?" Merlin looked up shocked, it was a girl that had spoken. He felt a movement to his left and saw Arthur and the other knights had stood up and walked into the clearing. No one was paying any attention so Arthur cleared his throat loudly, the bandits all turned around.
"Gentlemen, what a surprise."
"Arthur Pendragon" their leader spat, "I wondered how long it would be before you, interfered."
"By the looks of things not long enough, now drop your weapons and no one will be hurt" they started laughing. Arthur looked around "this is your last warning." No one moved so Arthur attacked the man nearest to him, soon the clearing was ringing with the sound of swords and axes clashing against each other. Merlin had originally decided to save the girl but in the confusion of the battle starting she had fought free and was defending herself pretty well. His mind went back to Arthur and he turned and saw him narrowly avoiding an axe. Sending out a small blast of magic he made him stumble slightly which gave Arthur the opportunity to kill him. The battle continued on for a about a minute more before all the bandits had been taken out, apart from their leader who was on the floor with a wound to his stomach which was bleeding heavily. Arthur walked over to him.
"It's not like you to miss an opportunity to kill me" the bandit said nothing. Arthur tried again "what was so different this time?"
"It was her" he started to cough violently. "She stole it, the thief" he said weakly before his head fell back and hit the ground dead. Looking up he spotted her walking from bandit to bandit, looking for something. She was wearing a long coat that stopped just below her knees. Holding it open she sheathed her sword and continued to pick up her daggers, slipping them back into small sheathes on various parts of her body. She moved on until she found something that caught her interest. Kneeling down next to one of the bodies she started rummaging around in a bag the bandit must have dropped.
"What are you doing?" He demanded as she emptied a small pouch of silver coins into her own. Her head snapped up as if she had forgotten they were there.
"Taking their money" she replied casually as she moved onto another body.
"Well they're dead and aren't going to need it and I'm alive and am. I wouldn't expect rich nobles such as yourselves to understand though."
"He called you a thief."
"A lot of people call me that" she answered pocketing another couple of coins.
"I don't like thieves."
"I don't like nobles, but I'm not a thief" she added as an after thought.
"Then what are you?" Leon asked.
"A traveller?" Arthur repeated slightly confused.
"Yes not everyone's rich enough to stay in the same place their whole lives."
"What about getting a job?" she shrugged.
"Boring, not enough adventure" by this point Elyan had sidled up to Percival.
"Is it just me or does she remind you of someone" he whispered, smiling Percival nodded in agreement and went back to listening to the conversation just as Leon interrupted.
"Show some respect" he said loudly.
"Why?" She retaliated, "all that makes me different from him is what we're wearing."
"There is a lot more than that."
"He is the king" Elyan smiled slightly as her face changed to surprise.
"You're the king?" She asked not quite believing him.
"Yes, Arthur Pendragon king of Camelot" he introduced. "Do you have a problem with that?"
"Oh no, not at all. I just thought..." She trailed off, her hands still gesturing at him.
"Thought what?" Arthur asked not sure he wanted to know what she was going to say next.
"Well just that you'd be taller." Percival laughed slightly but stopped immediately after Arthur shot him an angry look.
"What's your name?" Merlin asked. She turned towards him allowing Percival to move around the clearing behind her.
"Where did you learn to fight like that?"
"Doesn't matter, you're just lucky I was here."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It wouldn't have ended as quickly" she smiled.
“We saved your life” Arthur said angrily.
“Did you though?” Arthur looked around at the bodies on the floor and made a slight gesture to them.
“They would have killed you.”
“No they wouldn’t, they needed me alive.”
“Why?” he asked, it was very unlikely for a bandit to keep someone they didn't like alive. Unless they could fetch a rather large ransom.
“Apparently I’m the only one who knows where it is.”
“Where what is?”
“Haven’t got a clue. I wasn’t entirely sure what they were on about if I’m honest.”
“What do you mean?”
“They lost something. I didn’t take it but they assumed I did.”
“So why did you run?”
“What’s with all the questions?” he didn’t reply, still waiting for Ira to answer his. She sighed, “have you ever tried politely explaining something to a bandit? Especially when they are convinced otherwise?” she paused and looked around. “No? Well it’s not easy, in fact it’s impossible. Now if you don't mind." She made to leave the clearing but came face to face with Percival who, before she could do anything to protect herself, knocked her out.
"Hang on what did you do that for?" Merlin asked."She's a thief, thievery is against the law" Arthur replied. "We'll take her back to Camelot to be tried fairly." Percival picked her up and followed Arthur back the way they came. Finding their horses again they slowly made their way back to Camelot.