I do not own BBC Merlin

Cursed Caves

Summary: Arthur had send Merlin, Gwaine, Percival and Leon on a mission. But on the way they come across a strange cave – and against Merlin's advice the knight had to go in.

Chapter One

Leon rode ahead of the small group with Percival not that far behind him – a little way behind them Gwaine and Merlin were talking non-stop. What they were talking about Leon had no idea, but they hadn't stop talking since leaving Camelot a couple of hours ago. Knowing them, they were making jokes about Arthur and sharing stories of misadventures. But at least Gwaine and Merlin could entertain each other during the long rides and not annoying everyone else and it seem they never got tired of each other prattle.

"We need to stop soon," said Percival in a calm voice. Specking for the first time in over an hour "The horses need to rest." They had set off early at morning and it was now near midday.

"And I'm getting hungry," called out Gwaine loudly and then with a playful grin turned to Merlin "What's for lunch, Merlin?"

Merlin shook his head amused "You do realise I'm not a servant to any of you – right? Sort your own food out…" he said with his usual wit. Everyone knew that Merlin had packed food for them all, but Merlin had a point he wasn't a servant to any of them and on this mission he was the being the acting physician again. Gaius was getting too old to make longer journey now leaving Merlin to do them. It was time like these the knight had gain more respect for Merlin who had not only serve Arthur with unquestioned loyalty but also somehow find time to learn as much as he could about the healing arts. Merlin might not match them with swords skills but they couldn't match Merlin with his knowledge. Sometime it seem Merlin could sometimes memorise whole books without a problem but yet he still couldn't do the simplest serving jobs without getting into trouble.

This time it wasn't Merlin's official job to make sure they eat and Leon wanted to respect that.

"You wouldn't eat and not give us any," said Gwaine on a tone pretended hurt. Gwaine knew Merlin too well - he knew Merlin wouldn't deny them food.

"You lot done it to me before," pointed out Merlin his voice still playful.

"You do realised you are with three highly trained knights – we can make you cook." Said Gwaine, he pointed towards Percival "Percival can sit on you- while I steal the food and Leon will act like he hasn't seen anything…."

"You do realised I had gave Arthur rat for his dinner before," said Merlin unashamed. "More than once…If you mean to me I could do the same thing to you and you won't even know…" Percival looked amused at that and Leon shook his head. He never heard that one but he wouldn't be surprise if that was true. It was surprising sometimes that Merlin still had a job with Arthur at times. Not everyone who have the guts to give rat to someone with royal blood.

"But, you wouldn't do that to us," said Gwaine looking at Merlin face, then Gwaine paused "Actually, you would do that… Merlin have I ever told you that you are my best friend….I love you man..."

Percival shared a look with Leon "They are worse than children," he said in a low voice. Percival would hate to know what Merlin and Gwaine were like when they were younger. Merlin and Gwaine together was nothing but trouble when they were in this mood. But they did lighten the mood when it was needed. .

Leon couldn't help but agree – He also knew why Arthur had send Gwaine with them on this mission. Arthur knew Gwaine would make sure Merlin was okay. Merlin wasn't a trained fighter but he could hold his own in a fight long enough for one of the others could help him. He and Percival would also protect Merlin if needed but it was Gwaine who looked out of Merlin like a younger brother. Gwaine would make sure Merlin got back to Camelot.

"We can stop here," said Leon as they reach the clearing and got off his horse – the other did the same. "We rest here for an hour or two then we been on our way – we wanted to get to the village by nightfall…." Leon looked at his friends "And don't wonder to far…" he added as he saw Merlin moving away towards the trees.

"I just getting some herbs I might need," said Merlin at once "Gaius, was running low on some….I won't board you with the details…"

"Do you need help?" asked Percival

Merlin looked at Percival with a shy look "Do you know the different between monkshood and wolfsbane?"

"Errrr, aren't they the same thing?" asked Percival with a frown, He was sure this was a riddle Merlin had used in the past to confused the knights. He heard Merlin asking Arthur once to wind him up. Merlin liked to the confused the knights with riddles.

Merlin grinned "I can manage thanks – but well done – that puzzled Sir Owen for over a week…." With that he disappeared thought the trees and out of sight.

The knights watch him go amused at the fact Merlin liked to often confuse the knights of Camelot. "I don't think I will ever understand him," said Percival fondly. Percival liked Merlin because he wasn't afraid to speak his mind – even to Arthur, Merlin also proved he would go up and beyond for those he cares about. Merlin wasn't a just a simple servant he was more than that.

"While Merlin gone I guess we have to cook something," said Gwaine getting some bags off Merlin's horses "He wasn't kidding about sorting out our own food…." Gwaine open the bag and started to look though it "Or we can skip cooking and eat bread and apples…" Gwaine took out an apple and began to munch it and sat down "Relax you two, we got a few hour rest right?" Merlin walked back into the clearing empty handed "That was quick, did you find what you were looking for…"

"Are you sure we are going in the right direction?" asked Merlin looking at Leon

Leon frowned, "I'm positive, why?"

"I didn't see a cave on the map," said Merlin seriously.

"There wasn't one," said Gwaine who was still sitting down relaxing. "Are you sure it was caves and not large rocks…it an easy mistake to make…"

Merlin looked annoyed about that comment "I know what a cave look like, and it's huge – it should be on the map…."

"They was definitely no caves on the map and I never heard of the cave in this area," said Leon but he knew Merlin wasn't lying or playing a trick on them "Let's check it out…" they could have gone the wrong way – things like this did sometimes happen – if it was a simple mistake he would never hear the end of it.

Gwaine rolled his eyes as he got up. "I thought we were resting for a few hours." He grumble to himself and he followed Merlin, Leon and Percival thought the trees to a very large ancient cave. "Wow, that is very hard to miss…why isn't on the map? Maybe we should check it out…"

"You can't got into unknown caves," said Merlin at once "For all you know they is a whole family of wolfs living in them….of worse than that…wildren" Merlin paused "You don't go into unknown caves – everyone know that – like everyone knows don't to walk on frozen water in case the ice breaks..." Merlin was rambling again.

Gwaine laughed "You are still a county boy by heart aren't you,"

Leon looked at the cave in wonder "We better have a little look – and report back to Arthur when we get back…"

"Or, we get to the village so I can do my job and then head back to Arthur without going in," said Merlin quickly "Even if this cave isn't on a map it likely be mention in one of Gaius books – we need some information before we go in… I got a bad feeling about these caves…"

"We won't go far inside," said Percival fairly

"I thought you were the sensible one…." Said Merlin to himself but loud enough for everyone to hear.

"I agree with Leon and Percival…. That's three against one Merlin," said Gwaine "Come on the quicker we check this place out the quicker we can get back and rest before we had to go…" the three knight walked into the cave.

Merlin watched them "Well, if anything goes wrong – I warned you not to enter…." He called out "You can take the full blame if anything goes wrong…" he added.

"Merlin! Come on!" called Leon voice in the tone Arthur used sometimes. Merlin looked around before following them into the caves.

They step in the cave, it was cold and damp but they was something else that was different – something that couldn't be explained in words. "Something feels wrong," said Merlin he was behind the knights "We shouldn't be here." But none of the knight said anything knowing Merlin wasn't going to stay quiet about this – but even they could feel something in the air.

"Maybe we should leave," said Percival "It's getting too dark to see much anyway…"

"It seem to go a long way," said Gwaine looking at the darken tunnel "There is no telling how far it goes back… We could easily get lost, and the princess won't be impressed if we get lost in a cave."

They turn the way they come and saw that way they come from was now a rock wall that look like it had been they for years. They way out was now blocked. "I hate to say that I told you so…but….I told you so" said Merlin looking at the wall, the knight all turned looked at him in the dark "I tried to warn you not to go inside – but you guys never listen to me…I told you not to go into a unknown cave without finding information out first…. Gaius was right when he told me most people dismissed the important of research…"

"You're not going let us live this down are you," said Leon looking at the wall unsure what they should do now. Arthur wasn't going to like this – he wasn't going to like it one bit.

"The only way is to go deeper" said Gwaine "I don't think that's a good idea…but we can't stay here…" He looked at the other knight who shrugged then he turn to Merlin was already walking deeper into the cave.

"Come on!" called Merlin impatiently "You three wanted to go exploring an unknown cave without researching it first – now you are just standing around looking clueless."

"Is it me or is Merlin being bossy?" question Gwaine walking after the servant "He's not pleased with us is he?"

"We should have listened to his warning," said Percival regretting not having to listen to Merlin. How many times was this going to happen before they listen to him? Merlin superstitious warning hold a lot of truth in them "We were being foolish,"

"Let's hope we can find a way out," said Leon trying to keep his emotions under control – today wasn't going as planned. He was not going to hear the end of it for a while.

Merlin had led the way through the tunnel, it was dark but they could just about see. Merlin knew they was something odd about this cave. It was magic – old magic, cursed magic. The sooner they leave the doomed place, the better. Then Merlin hear something he stopped suddenly causing Gwaine to crash into him "Give a man a little warning next time Merlin….what is it?"

"Can't you hear that?" asked Merlin suddenly

Gwaine was quite for a moment "No – I can't hear a thing… it's these caves they are starting to mess with you head Merlin," But as he said they he hear something that sound like a whisper but a voice he thought he recognise. "That can't been good can it?"

"Nothing about this place is good," said Leon moving passed Merlin and Gwaine to get into front. He was impressed Merlin led them though this far without showing any trace of fear. He would have make a good knight if he put the effort in to fighting better and did what he was told. "We can't go back – this is our only option. Keep your guards up…" said Leon the other nodded they heads as they followed Leon deeper into the caves until they come to a larger space with a fire in the middle

"Is fire meant to be purple?" asked Gwaine stepping closer to the fire to have a look.

"I don't think we should stop and look around," said Merlin looking around the room at the ancient words craved into the walls "These are written in the old religion – and it doesn't look good…" he said

Percival frowned "You can read the language of the old religion?"

"We need to go – now…" said Merlin not answering Percival question. He teared his eyes from the words looking at the knights who were all looking at the fire as purple smoke started to rise from the fire.

The purple smoke filled the room and soon they find themselves unable to see or unable to move. But they could hear – voices from the past. Cruel voices, some they thought they had long forgotten about "He's a nuisance" said one voice "He's nothing like his father" said another "He won't become a knight" another voice spoke "freaky freak freaky freak." Soon more voice join them "He's unless," "Not as brave as his younger sister," "Demon child,"

Merlin manged to block the voices and stopped listening. He then mumble a spell under his breath and freed himself form the spell power but the knights were still stuck. They needed help and fast – Merlin wasn't sure what would happen if they stay that way too long, but whatever it was couldn't be good. Merlin looked at the words on the wall again – the words talk about the labels and names that stay with people for a lifetime. Merlin stood still for a little too long and the words started to enter his head again "Not much between his ears," "Just a troublemaker" "Can't think for himself." "Bustard."

"Stop listening," yelled Merlin "You need to stop listening – come on you are knights of the round table..." The knight showed no sign they had heard Merlin – Merlin grasped the nearest knight – Gwaine "It's not real…"he yelled, that seem to knock Gwaine back – he blinked and looked at Merlin "We need to get Leon and Percival to stop listening," ordered Merlin. Gwaine nodded his head and went to Percival while Merlin went towards Leon and manged to get them out and quickly they back through the tunnel again without turning back leaving the whispers behind

"What the hell was that?" asked Gwaine panting slightly as they got a good distance away from the whispers.

"It's a spell – make you hear thing …" said Merlin looking around "I think it was meant to make you doubt yourself – you have remember who we are now…"

"How did you manged to break free first?" asked Leon puzzled. He, Gwaine and Percival needed to be shouted out and physical shook out of the spell but Merlin manged to escape alone.

Merlin paused for a moment like he was thinking before he talked "I knew that they said was just lies – I know who I am…." Merlin paused for moment "It's mind over matter…" Merlin trailed off but none of the knights question him further.

"So…who was the demon child?" asked Gwaine awkwardly trying to change the subject "I know that It wasn't me…" no one spoke for a moment "There has to a story behind it…."

"It's me," said Merlin shortly "And the story isn't exciting, they call them that because no one knew who my father was and I wasn't what you called normal…"

"Still…being called a demon child is going too far…." Said Gwaine with a serious expression. "I mean if you were setting fires and stealing then maybe... you don't look like a son of a demon….if it make you feel any better people sometimes called me wild brat…"

"Let not talk about this now," said Leon knowing this wasn't the best places or time to talk about all this. "We need to find a way out and no more stopping….no matter what we see or hear – we do not stop…we have to keep on moving…"

They carried on walking what feel like hours in silent. Everyone lost in their own thoughts – they have yet to find a way out and they wished they never enter the cursed caves in the first place. The tunnel led them to large open space this time with a green fire.

"Keep going," order Leon "Do not stop." But as soon as that order left his mouth the room filled with smoke again and everything went dark.