DISCLAIMER: The characters in Merlin (BBC) belong to Shine Television and the BBC, etc., i.e., not me.
I'm just borrowing them for a while to spin a tale

With Power… Arc I: the players
Part 2: The Broken King
By firewolf
July 2009
@>;-'-

As it went, Gaius showed Merlin a few ‘household’ spells, which were less tiring to use than his natural magic. So they were easily packed up in a few short hours and trooping towards the castle to meet with the royal steward who showed them to their new rooms near the royal library. The man was a little started about not having to assign porters to help them cart over their belongings. However, since their household goods were happily bobbing along in mid air behind them, the steward decided it was far easier to accept the magical duo at face value and just not say anything.

The maids and servants who had only just finished cleaning out the dusty rooms were certainly impressed with their entrance, though were quickly shooed away while they unpacked. All in all, they were highly pleased with their new accommodations. They each had their own spacious bedroom, and now had spare rooms to segregate for use as a consultation room, a room for brewing and storing their herbs, and even two rooms where a patient might stay overnight.

It did not take very long after they settled in for Geoffrey to visit and drag Gaius away to the library where they could begin nattering over books and the like. Well, ‘drag’ wasn’t exactly the word Merlin would use for the way Gaius actually flew out the door with his old friend. Merlin, however, wasn’t left alone very long as a knock on the door brought him face to face with Sir Balin again.

“M’lord.”

“Sir Balin,” Merlin cringed. “Please? Just ‘Merlin’. I’m not anyone’s Lord anything.”

The man grinned at him sympathetically. “Well, then you should just call me ‘Balin’. I Were the maids and the servants a bit much?”

“I mean? I’m just a servant too, aren’t I?” Merlin pouted at him as he led the Knight into the now very spacious living room where their poor table seemed completely dwarfed, and poured the Knight a goblet of wine.

“Well—it—that’s true, but there are ranks even among servants and—” Balin frowned thoughtfully. “I think you’ve just been promoted to a position that’s just under the Court Sorcerer.”

“The Court Sorcerer’s a servant?”

Balin gave him a satisfied chuckle. “Yes, he is. Though from the airs he takes you wouldn’t know it. But no one would challenge him, no one would dare too. You did quite a bit to steal his thunder last night though.”

“Oh. So that’s why Gaius thinks we’d be in danger from him, isn’t it?” Merlin deflated as he stared morosely at his goblet. “I didn’t mean to. I just saw danger, and I reacted.”

“Yes, and you saved the lives of our King and the Prince.” Balin smiled at him warmly. “You are a good man, Merlin of Ealdor. And the other Knights were suitably impressed enough to finally give me leave to share our secret with you.”

Merlin sat up and was about to gesture for the Knight to go on when he suddenly glance over at the door. “Maybe we’d better do this in our new consultation room. If anyone walks in on us…”

Balin grinned even brighter. “Thank you, Merlin. Yes, your caution is appreciated.”

Merlin bade the knight lie upon the padded table as he took a seat beside him. “If any one comes in and asks, you felt nauseous this morning and we’re trying to pinpoint what you may have eaten which caused the stomach upset when everyone else around you are fine.”

“Sounds like a good enough excuse.”

“Gaius—he has already told me a little bit about the secret the Knights keep from the King.”

“But I wager, it is still not very much… Merlin, perhaps it is best if I start at the beginning.”

“Please do.”

So Merlin heard then of the King Cendred in his days of glory, how he was a wise, just and kind King, and how he once had three sons, all whom he was proud of as warriors and each a worthy successor to the realm. Unfortunately, this had quickly changed during the years of war between Uther and Cendred, and none of the councillors currently at large could even begin to explain why the war had started between them; only that the negotiations between the two monarchs over the borderline between their nations had grown heated to a point where war had been declared.

It was believed that Cendred lost his heart in the war, because he had over the years lost his sons one by one. At one point, the two Kingdoms could have ended the war and finally come to an agreement. But by then Cendred had already been mad with grief for his losses and refused to accept the offered hand of reconciliation.

During the ending months of the war, in fear for the life of his last heir, Cendred had the boy called back from the front lines and forced his son to stay within the safety of the castle. But fate, it seemed, had already decided upon the boy’s death. Within days of his son’s incarceration in his castle, the young heir had taken ill and passed away in his sleep. As he had been bleeding from one of his ears, the Court Physician suggested the boy had suffered bleeding in the brain, probably from a blow to the head taken when he was last on the battle field.

With the death of his last son, Cendred had gone mad with grief. For his failure to save his son, the King had his Court Physician put to death. Later, he was approached by a sorcerer who offered to end the war for him. The man called down fire from the heavens to assist Cendred’s forces when the two armies next met, and without like assistance from a sorcerer of their own because of Uther’s ingrained prejudices, Camelot was forced to surrender or see their armies’ burn.

For his aid, Muirden, for that was who the sorcerer was, had asked Cendred for Uther’s life. However, on taking charge of Camelot’s royals, Cendred had been incensed that Uther still had an heir who lived. And at his first sight of the boy, the King knew that he would never be able to control the young Prince without the father.

So Cendred denied the sorcerer’s wishes, and instead offered him a position in the Royal household as the Court Sorcerer. Seeing the King’s determination to keep both Pendragons for his own pleasure, the sorcerer had no choice but to accept. And unfortunately for the man, he wasn’t to know until a lot later that this title held no power within the King’s court. It was something that was created just for him.

“Seriously?” Merlin had to interrupt Balin’s tale then. “Cendred got one over Muirden?”

“Aye he did at that.” Balin chuckled nastily. “The thing was, he may have won the war for us, but no one trusted him. And there was also gossip that he may have been somehow involved in the last heir’s death. There was talk of a scarred man who had asked for an audience with the prince a few days before his health began to fail. But there’s no proof that he had a hand in the boy’s death. It could have been just coincidence.”

“Go on…”

“When we first returned to the castle with our royal hostages, Cendred had Uther taken to the tower to be imprisoned immediately,” Balin’s expression had turned haunted. “Prince Arthur—he was taken to the King’s chambers. And the King—he—he called on us a few hours later.”

“Oh.” Merlin didn’t have to ask for any details to understand that Cendred had probably raped Arthur for the first time then.

“We were—we were horrified by what he had done to the Prince—we—we could scarcely believe that he—that our King would act so dishonourably and—and…” Balin’s voice had gone so soft with shame that Merlin had to sit closer to hear him. “It was—he called us in because he wanted us to do worse while he watched.

“Merlin, you cannot know how insulted—how appalled we were that he would make such a demand—we were—we were sickened. We saw then that the death of his sons had changed him—had—had twisted his mind, but—we—we weren’t—we could do nothing.” Merlin took the Knight’s hand in his as he heard the tears in his voice. “He is our King. We gave him our oaths when we became his knights. And so we had to obey his command that we—that we savaged our vanquished enemy’s son.

“Prince Arthur—even through his trauma and tears, he—he recognised our reluctance.” Balin’s voice was filled in wonder now as he recalled that first day. “And he gave us his understanding and generosity then.

“Softly, so the King would not hear him, he forgave us for what we were about to do to him and he gave us his consent so that our honour would stay intact…

“And he has continued to give us this kindness and consideration since then.”

Silence fell between them after those words. Merlin had to bring a hand to his eyes to wipe away his tears for the bravery and generosity that Arthur had showed the knights that day and it seemed unrelenting showed them all these years.

“In all this time, we of the brotherhood have carefully spread the word of Prince Arthur’s kindness. Where there are Knights, his story is told, and we have ensured that there has been no new blood joining us in this Kingdom.” Balin told Merlin firmly. “Where there are Knights, their rulers are counselled and if possible turned away from ever approaching this kingdom to offer allegiance or friendship.

“Cendred is our King, but while he has our loyalty and obedience because of our oath to him. We have lost all respect and love for him.”

“What can I do?” Merlin asked softly as he scrubbed the last of the tears from his face.

Balin sat up on the bed to face the young physician. “There is little that can be done, except to try and protect Prince Arthur how ever we are able to get away with it, and to do what we can to make life easier for him.”

“I will—I will do my part as well.” Merlin took Balin’s hands in his as he made this promise.

“I do not doubt that, Merlin.” Balin sucked in a deep breath. “Courage—that is what you must show for his sake… Tonight—you had tended to the Prince after those—louts the other night. But tonight, Merlin, Cendred will enact upon the Prince his punishment for the attempted assassination.”

“What? But Arthur was in danger too. He wasn’t involved—”

“Unfortunately, the Prince is related to that woman, Merlin. She dropped her illusion to let the King see and recognise her before she threw the dagger at him.” Balin shook his head sadly, “She was the Lady Morgana, though she has since taken the name Morgause. She was once the ward of Uther, and was said to have been raised like a sister to Prince Arthur.

“When the Pendragons were forced to surrender to Cendred, she was said to have fled Camelot. And she has since made many minor attacks upon this castle with her band of rebels in an effort to either kill the King or free Prince Arthur.”

“But Arthur has—” Merlin made a gesture towards a wrist.

“I don’t believe these rebels are aware of the magic cast upon the Prince’s accessories.” Balin hesitated slightly before he continued. “The collar, Merlin, does more than keep the Prince near the King. The red stone pendent on the collar also ensures he will not die from—from the abuse we meet out to him.”

“Balin, I’m sure you don’t—” Merlin gripped his arm in protest.

“Merlin, don’t try to dismiss the damage we do. We ravage him, Merlin. Sometimes the King is content to do this alone, but when he calls upon us, he does not ask for just one or two volunteers. We do this in great numbers.” Balin’s voice had turned haunted again as he remembered the past. “After that first time, the King had complained to Muirden that the Prince was already half dead before his first day with us was over. The Court Sorcerer gave the collar and manacles to the Prince two days later. The pendant on the collar—it—it keeps him healed, whole and lubricated for—”

Balin had to swallow hard before he could continue. “In the first few months of his stay with us, in an effort to try and break his spirit the King had us abuse Prince Arthur almost night and day. In those months, we all—we were *all* commanded to have him, and it was only after the last of us were done that the King finally allowed him a few days to rest. The pendant kept him alive.
 
“But it only works for intimate injuries which *we* inflict. We discovered its limitation when the king thought to move on to the Guards’ barracks. If he is hurt by others…”

“Like those louts? “Merlin had winced at the word ‘barracks’ and his eyes went hard as he remembered the tearing he had repaired. Then his thoughts swung towards other scars and injuries he had noticed on Arthur’s skin when he had lain on their examination table previously. “Has he been whipped often?”

“Every time Morgause tries and fails to assassinate the King, or to rescue him.

“Gaius would treat him for the injuries the pendant does not handle.” Balin looked around them. “In a way, it is good that you have moved to the castle.”

“We are now closer should Arthur need us.”

“And I fear he will need you desperately, Merlin.” Balin admitted. “There seems to be change in the air, but we don’t know if it will be for the better, or the worse.

“Brace yourself, Merlin. For tonight will be the first time you will be there to attend to Prince Arthur after the King is done with his punishment.”

Merlin swallowed hard. “I’ll—I’ll be prepared.”

*~*~*

With Balin’s departure, Merlin had immediately dived for Gaius’ spell books, but even as he scanned through them frantically, there was very little he thought would be of any use in the current situation. When Gaius returned, he had helped Merlin to prepare a medicine bag of healing salves and poultices, and the older man had shared with him the treatments he would render to Arthur’s skin after a whipping.

All too soon though, dusk approached, and a Knight came to the door of Gaius and Merlin’s new abode to fetch him. “Er—we’re heading to the dungeons?” Merlin gulped as he followed the Knight, the pouch of poultices and herbs hung heavily against his thigh.

“It—it is where Prince Arthur is always brought to be punished after Morgause has failed to assassinate our King, or rescue him.” The Knight told him in a strained voice. “Merlin—”

Merlin nodded to the man. “I know. I will do my best for Arthur.”

The man sucked in a deep breath as he looked him in the eye. “This—will—it will be difficult, Merlin. If you are unused to—”

“I’m a physician, Sir Caradoc. I have seen and tended to men through the horrors of war. Though now I fear, I am preparing myself to see too the sad abuse of peace.” Merlin steeled himself with these words.

When Merlin entered the dungeon cell behind the Knight, it was to see that the King was already seated on a comfortable chair and attended to by over ten other knights. Across the dungeon cell, a crowd of knights surrounded Arthur though positioned such that they did not block their King’s view of him in profile. The man was already stripped nude save for his collar and manacles, and glancing around at the assembly of Knights with them, Merlin suddenly knew that Cendred wasn’t only planning a whipping.

Still, Merlin thought that Arthur was being unnaturally calm as the knights with him securely chained his wrists manacles to the post in front of him while others were looping chains through the rings on the manacles around his ankles to two more rings set into the stone floor which stretched his stance quite wide. With the broad spread of his legs, it was difficult not to notice the slight gleam of oil shining from Arthur’s cleft; enough indication to the eyes of everyone in the cell that the Knights had clearly oiled, and stretched their prisoner in anticipation of his ordeal to come. It struck Merlin then to wonder just how many times Arthur had been subjected to this.

“Ahh, Merlin. Come, we are about to begin.” The King gestured for him to approach. Not knowing what else to do, Merlin quickly strode across the cell to pass behind the King and stand next to his chair where the man indicated he wanted him.

“You probably think me harsh to punish my hostage for the faults of his would be rescuers.”

“Sire…” Merlin gulped, he didn’t know what the man wanted him to say. He did feel it was unfair, but he wasn’t about to voice it out to the King.

“They know, Merlin. That is what holding a hostage is about. The health and well being of the hostage is always dependant on the good behaviour of their subjects.” The King told him in a very reasonable tone, “They well know that young Arthur is punished each time they—misbehave. It would be so much easier on him if they did not.”

“Of—of course, Sire…”

“Even so, I’ve always had a healer or a physician on hand to ensure he does not suffer too much.” Cendred went on as if Merlin hadn’t spoken. “Why, when he and his father first arrived here, I no longer had a Court Physician, so I immediately called for their own Court Physician to move to my City where he could continue to care for their needs.”

Merlin stayed very silent. He remembered Balin telling him that the man had killed his own Court Physician because he hadn’t been able to save the life of his heir.

“And now you are here.” Cendred raised a hand to stroke his knuckles over Merlin’s cheek. It took all of Merlin’s self control not to flinch or jerk away from the King’s touch. He promised Balin that he would be strong for Arthur and he was not going to shirk his duty, no matter how creepy he thought the King was being.

“There is just something about you I can’t put my finger on, Merlin.” The King told him softly. “I’m glad you are here.”

Merlin swallowed with a throat that was suddenly feeling very dry. “Sire…”

Before the King could say anymore, the Knights surrounding Arthur had stepped away to indicate they were finished with securing him hand and foot against the whipping post and to the rings on the ground; one of the other knights reluctantly stepped forward then with the bull whip and looked to his King for the signal to begin.

“It will be thirty tonight, I think.” There was a sharp intake of breath all around and the Knight holding the whip almost dropped it at this announcement.

“Sire—do you—do you wish an—an—execution?” One of the Knights gritted.

“No. Still, it will be thirty. The rebels must learn that I will not bow to their threats. But—” Cendred turned towards Merlin lazily. “I’m sure our young apprentice physician can manage to assist Arthur.”

“Sire, I—” Merlin’s eyes were filled with fear as he stared first at the King then at where Arthur stood leaning tensed and obviously nervous against the post.

“Do it.” Cendred commanded of his Knight softly. “Fear not, I believe you needn’t worry that you’ll lose your whore this night.”

The Knight holding the whip swallowed hard before he lifted his chin and gave Merlin a long assessing look. And Merlin gulped as he received the man’s firm nod of expectation. Then the knight’s arm rose and the whip sang across the silence of the dungeons.

It took too long. Merlin gritted his teeth and he could feel his breath hitching in his chest as he watched the bleeding welts grow and begin to blend with each swing of the Knight’s arm. Arthur—Arthur never allowed a single cry to escape his lips. The tears were inevitable, but he refused to let his audience hear his distress. Merlin, however, couldn’t keep his sobs silent even when he chewed his own fist to stop himself from screaming at the King to stop the madness. And his eyes weren’t the only ones that were wet with tears either.

It was fortunate for the knights that the King’s attention was completely on Arthur and his suffering, for they were not able to hold back their distress either. If one was to look closely, it could be discerned that the one wielding the whip seemed to be openly crying as well. However, it could also be a trick of the light since he was sweating with his effort and perhaps his tears could be excused for having his sweat slipping into his eyes. The King never noticed.

It took too long… but eventually, thirty lashes had been delivered, by which time Arthur was hanging quite limp against the whipping post with his life blood bleeding down his lacerated back, buttocks and thighs. Merlin did not wait for the King to invite him to move. As soon as the knight threw the whip aside, he was across the cell and at Arthur’s back to assess the damage.

Merlin knew the knight had tried very hard to space out the hits so that they did not fall together; he could not have avoided drawing blood, however, he managed not to use his full strength behind each blow. Even so, up close as Merlin was, the training physician could see that the devastation was still horrendous.

At first glance, Merlin knew that his pouch of herbs were useless. There was also nothing that he had read earlier in Gaius’ books which could assist him in caring for this level of damage. The village healer had told Merlin that he had good instincts for this profession, and Merlin knew that it was the only thing he had to work with now; his instinct and his magic.

He could feel the eyes of the Knights upon him as he stood unmoving behind the prince and raised his hand over Arthur’s ruined flesh. “gehǽlednes insegel.” He focused his magic on these jumbled together spell words while letting his glowing hand pass over a swath of lashes, and he watched the blood and dirt washing away under the path of his hand as torn flesh knitted together to seal and heal in its wake.

“gehǽlednes insegel.” He repeated the words again, letting his hand leave a new path of healed flesh and clean skin over Arthur’s back.

“Merlin?” Arthur’s soft moan allowed him to know that amazingly, the man was still awake and hadn’t been driven into unconsciousness by the torture.

“Shhh, you’re going to be okay, Arthur.” Merlin told him softly before, speaking his spell words once more. “gehǽlednes insegel.”

Arthur arched sinuously under his hovering hand with a groan that came from deep within his throat. This made Merlin blink in puzzlement for the man’s seemingly strange reaction. And he could hear Cendred sniggering where he sat watching them.

“gehǽlednes insegel.” Merlin was using both hands now as he made repeated passes over Arthur’s rapidly healing back and started to follow the welts that had curled around his body to his chest and stomach.

It was only with his slight move forward that Merlin suddenly understood what the King was laughing over. Seated in profile to the Prince, Cendred could see Arthur’s cock standing fiercely erect and dripping with pre-come. And Merlin realised then what he had unintentionally caused to the Prince. The village healer had warned him about watching out for this healing ‘side effect’ once; about how for some patients the rapid cessation of pain could trick the senses into believing the body was being delivered unaccountable pleasure. He was apparently doing that now to Arthur.

Horrified, Merlin wanted to stop, but—he stole a glance at the knights who waited in tensed silence. He couldn’t leave Arthur still injured when the King commanded for the next part of his punishment to begin. He looked up at Arthur then, the man was panting heavily from arousal as he returned Merlin’s regard. He mouthed “I’m sorry” to the man; Arthur just gave him a smile, called him ‘Idiot’ and bade him to finish.

“gehǽlednes insegel.” Merlin worked a little faster now over Arthur’s front, buttocks and thighs; hoping that he wouldn’t embarrass the prince by making him come before he was finished.

“gehǽlednes insegel.”

Tiny groans and mewls of want and need escaped Arthur's lips with each pass of Merlin’s hand. Where the man had earlier refused to make a sound despite the pain, he apparently could not show the same indifference to pleasure.

In hope of covering for him, Merlin spoke louder. “gehǽlednes insegel! gehǽlednes insegel!” Even so, seated where he was, the King could not have missed the Prince’s humiliation.

“gehǽlednes insegel!”

In the end, it was a close thing. Arthur’s legs were practically shaking by the time the last welt was sealed and his flesh healed and whole once more. And from his shivery breathing, Merlin could guess that Arthur was so close a slight touch was probably all that was needed to make him come. He looked so aroused and hard, it gave Merlin the idea that it was only the man’s iron resolve which prevented him from trying to spread his legs wider and thrust his buttocks out towards their audience to entice someone to give him relief.

Even so, such blatant invitation clearly wasn’t needed. The entire process was apparently equally arousing to watch since Cendred was suddenly there behind Arthur and pushing Merlin aside while he fumbled with the laces of his breeches. The King grabbed Arthur’s hips and stabbed his cock into him without any offer of warning or further preparation, but even this painful violation was enough to tip Arthur over the edge into howling orgasm.

Cendred mercilessly milked Arthur of the pleasure Merlin had unintentionally built within the Prince’s body with his healing spells. Merlin could only sit where he had fallen and stare in aghast and horror as Arthur sprayed his pleasure upon the whipping post; with his release finally tapering off to erupt in short spurts with the rhythm of the King’s brutal thrusts.

Before too long, the young physician had to look away; unable to continue watching Cendred frantically fucking Arthur to his own completion. Merlin hadn’t even realised he was sobbing again, until Cendred’s hand fell on his shoulder. He looked up to find the King already resettled into his clothes with his breeches securely fastened once more.

Cendred pulled Merlin to his feet while his other hand brushed at the tears on his cheeks. “You are so soft hearted, Merlin.” The King told him gently as he guided him back to the audience stand. “There is nothing to be sad about. Surely you must understand that you’ve only given great pleasure to myself and Arthur? You’ve performed beyond all expectations, Merlin. Well done.”

Before Merlin knew what the King intended, he was suddenly pulled upon the older man’s lap as Cendred sat back in his chair and turned them both to face Arthur’s position again. The prince leaned heavily against the post, chest heaving. The whipping post before him was wet with his splattered seed, and the King’s own pleasure dripped down his thighs from his arse.

As much as Merlin tried to tell himself he did not find this image arousing, he could not lie to himself. The Prince’s lightly tanned skin was covered in sweat from his exertions and it caught the light of the torches just right to make him seemingly haloed in gold. His nudity in contrast to the black manacles and the gleaming chains; his spent and dripping cock; the trickle of come leaking down the inside of his thighs; his vulnerably spread legs which contributed to the slight parting of the cleft between his buttocks that now glistened with the King’s seed… It all added up to a sinful spectacle which seemed to invite its audience to use, indulge and seek pleasure in this succulent treasure. It made Merlin hate himself for this thought.

“We have twenty-four tonight, Arthur. Enjoy.” Cendred waved the knights into motion with one hand even as the other had a forceful grip on Merlin’s hip keeping him seated on his lap.

Merlin chewed on his lower lip in trepidation as he watched the first of the dark dressed knights’ stride up to Arthur to catch his head in his hands to make him face him, then kiss him almost forcefully before positioning himself behind the prince with his rigid cock sliding into his cleft. Arthur didn’t hesitate at all as he leaned his head to one side allowing the knight to ravish his neck as the man started to push his cock into him.

“Do you see, Merlin? How right it is? How he enjoys this.” Cendred’s arms had anchored themselves more firmly around Merlin’s waist as the King rested his chin on the young physician’s shoulder. “I have watched him through these years, and I’ve never seen Arthur reject any of my knights. Can it be any more obvious how they have made him their cock whore, Merlin?”

Merlin swallowed hard. He had spoken to Balin, and he understood now how the Knights could have kept their secret from their King for so long. The man believed—he could never have suspected Arthur’s capitulation to his abuse to be anything other than want of pleasure, which was probably just as well for their sakes.

“I would give him pleasure, if he would but ask, Merlin.  I’ve commanded my knights to never touch his sex. And yet he still prefers their company to mine.” Merlin swallowed hard as he watched the Knight run possessive hands over Arthur’s body, letting his fingers pinch and tweak at the Prince’s nipples while his hips moved steadily in hard forceful thrusts, driving his cock into the vulnerably spread arse; all the while, the man mouthed and sucked on Arthur’s neck and shoulders, or twisted his head around to plunder his lips. And as the king rightly observed, despite the bondage and restraints Arthur’s entire body language was of invitation and welcome.

“He is never this open with me.” Merlin had to wonder if the king realised he was showing bitter jealousy of his Knights. “They have truly enslaved him to their cock; and only *their* cock.

“I once had him brought to the guards’ barracks to let them sample my little treasure; they apparently could not win the same favour. His struggles and tears were quite exquisite and it was truly satisfying in a different way. But we could only have him stay for less than a day as that was also when we realised the enchantment on the pendent would only work for my Knights.

“Muirden was most apologetic. He claimed the charms could not be all powerful. It seemed he tied this particular spell to a knight’s oath to his Brotherhood.

“My knights were furious about the damage to their whore and the lost of exclusivity. They argued that they were already so numerous, each of them could have precious little time with him already without my inviting more to share him. And I could see the truth in the statement, that there really are so many of them, Merlin. It took months for me to have him properly ‘introduced’ to each and every one of my knights when he first arrived. And apparently, he impressed all of them with his eager service of their lusts.

“So to keep my knights happy I allowed it, and don’t question their demands for his company when I have no use of him. See how generous I can be, Merlin?

“You—said this was a punishment?” Merlin couldn’t help asking.

“Ahh, so you think you see a contradiction? If I believe that Arthur enjoys sex with my Knights, why do I appear now to reward him?”

“Er...”

“Because, dear boy, as much as he loves their cock, this is also agony and ecstasy for him; I command my Knights never to touch his cock during these sessions and so they can keep him hard and dripping for hours while scores of them use him for their pleasure.” Cendred breathed into Merlin’s suddenly very sensitive ears. “And even after he has finally had his pleasure and is too spent to be aroused any longer, they are too numerous to be even half done with him yet. So his agony begins then, when he becomes just a pure come receptacle for their pleasure.

“He was raised a Prince, Merlin. Even after more than two years as my hostage, his carriage is still unchanged.” Cendred’s hand was stroking Merlin’s thigh now as he turned his eyes back to watching while the Knight started slapping and slamming his hips against Arthur’s buttocks at an almost frantic pace, a good indication that he was near ready to orgasm.

“My Knights may have made him their whore, but they value their privacy with their fuck toy and so hide him away in their barracks whenever they can. And I’m sure they try to make it up to him for these long sessions of abuse by seeing to his pleasure in private. 

“However, when he is deserving of punishment, I can ask my Knights to entertain me as well and have him humiliated and fucked before an audience of my choosing. That is his punishment, Merlin; an audience to his shame of being a whore to all the knights in my not so modest Kingdom.”

Merlin found himself swallowing hard as the knight slammed in a last time, practically lifting Arthur onto the balls of his feet for a few long moments. Then the man slowly lowered the prince to his feet again, and pumped into him for a few more leisurely strokes before reluctantly drawing his limp cock out and allowing another man to take his place. This new knight also presumptuously claimed Arthur’s lips before lowering his head to make his own mark upon the vulnerably exposed neck as he sank his eager cock into Arthur’s dripping arse.

This went on for hours as knight after knight took their turn with little variation. One and all first greeted Arthur with a fierce kiss before they’d thrust into his come flooded channel while mauling  and sucking on the skin of his neck and shoulders. And they’d fuck him hard and fast, each obviously racing for their pleasure; the King may have thought his knights were interested only to seek their orgasm, but after speaking with Gaius and Balin Merlin thought different. He was sure the Knight’s were only trying not to prolong the fucking, perhaps even to hasten the end of the evening for Arthur.

And though the King had commanded them not to touch Arthur’s cock, the knights still tried to surreptitiously give him pleasure in other ways. They’d set warm mouths and nibbling teeth to his vulnerable neck. Long inquisitive tongues would lick around and explore his ears. Hard sword callused hands would stroke over his chest and thighs, while teasing fingers pulled and pinched on his hardened nipples. Then too was the way they’d fuck Arthur, adding strategic twists of their hips and wrenching their pelvis about to ‘stir’ their cocks within his tight channel. Added together, their skilled fucking brought Arthur off thrice more, and he’d release his pleasure upon the whipping post.

Still, there were twenty-four knights taking turns, and it was rather obvious to Merlin that the King wasn’t going to let it go at just one turn a piece. On top of that, these were all powerful men with strength and stamina. By the time, the last knight had his turn Merlin knew the first would have recovered to be ready to begin again. However, Merlin also had a sense that the King would by then bid his Knights to change Arthur’s position.

And all the while he watched this sordid spectacle, Merlin didn’t dare struggle nor squirm on his perch upon the King’s lap. He was also much too conscious of Cendred’s cock resting hard and hot under one thigh, while the King had a hand intimately curled around and resting inside his other thigh and dangerously close to his groin. 

Deep in dungeons which did not ever see either moon or sun, Merlin couldn’t even begin to tell what time it was anymore. He just knew he didn’t want to watch this sordid display any longer. The King may think he was observing eagerness and lust in the spectacle taking place before him, but Merlin knew better. Even his magic could see the eddying energy currents of misery and pain, though ironically this radiated more from the knights than it did Arthur. And Merlin could also see the unexpected kindness the glowing red pendant bestowed upon Arthur as it kept him from complete exhaustion and damage. It gave him the energy to reassure the knights as they fucked him as he’d often enough lean his head back with an expression of clear pleasure to brush his lips against his abuser’s cheek or chin.

The King saw Arthur’s behaviour as sluttish capitulation to his Knights. Merlin could see it as the kind consent that the Knights appreciated receiving from their Prince.

Merlin desperately did not want to witness this. For as much as the pendant kept Arthur going, he was still fading into an exhausted stupor as the fucking just wore on and on. And when the twenty-fourth man was finally done, as Merlin had guessed the King wasn’t ready to let them stop.

The knights freed Arthur from the post and chains and led him to kneel on trembling hands and knees before Cendred. It was only then that the King finally allowed Merlin to escape from his lap, and he quickly scurried off to stand behind Cendred’s chair.

“Dear Arthur, are you enjoying yourself, my sweet pet?” Cendred purred as he combed his fingers through Arthur’s sweaty blonde locks.

Arthur barely had the strength to lift his head to look at his chief tormenter. Cendred only smiled. “Perhaps I can offer you a drink.”

Merlin bit his lips as he recognised Cendred’s meaning before the King even reached for the laces of his breeches. There was just a bare spark of recognition in Arthur’s dull eyes as he tried to pull away from Cendred’s dripping cock. But the king wouldn’t let him escape.

Merlin couldn’t watch as Cendred held Arthur’s head tight while he drove his cock in and out of the man’s mouth. Merlin kept himself turned determinedly away even as he heard the King invite his knights to further ensure Arthur drank all they had to offer and to fill his arse once more as well. And he knew from the sounds which soon followed that the Knights were now taking Arthur in pairs.

He wanted to leave the dungeons. He wanted to hide in his brand new room and pretend he had just arrived, and never met Arthur nor heard of him in all his life. He wanted to use his magic to stop this. He couldn’t do any of these things. Arthur—he couldn’t leave. Arthur’s care was his responsibility now and magic pendent or not, Merlin didn’t believe the man would not in some way suffer physically after the amount of abuse heaped upon him.

“Merlin?”

“M’Lord?!” He swung around in alarm to have the word whispered in his ear.

The King was standing very close behind him. Close enough that he could easily grip Merlin’s arms firmly and hold him such that their faces were just centimetres apart.  “I missed you, my boy. Are you unwell, you’ve retreated quite far from the fun?”

Merlin shuddered as he looked down as an excuse to keep his face and lips turned away from the man. “Please, m’lord. I—I do not enjoy watching this.”

“But why not?” Before Merlin could put up any greater resistance, Cendred had him turned around and facing the ‘stage’ again. The King’s arms were around Merlin’s waist once more, with his chin resting on the young Physician’s shoulder.

Arthur looked barely conscious; held up on trembling knees by the knight energetically fucking his come flooded arse, his head held tight by the knight firmly gliding a cock in and out of his mouth; his hands taken up by two more knights who had wrapped his limp fingers around their cocks to jerk them off.

“He is a beautiful man, Merlin.” Cendred whispered in his ear. “How can you not be aroused by his pleasured use?”

Merlin gulped. Almost biting his tongue off to stop himself from telling the King off about how he saw rape as a clear deterrent to arousal.

“Muirden’s gift keeps the sweet rose of his arse tight despite the years and the number of men he has had. On those nights when I have him share my bed, it is like taking his virginity again. I fit so snug and perfect within him. It matters not if he has already had a horde fuck him stupid hours earlier. The pendant only needs an hour to restore his worn out body. And for my knights, it provides a passage oiled and slick for their ease of use.

“I may not have the same privilege, but it is, Merlin, a guilty perversity of mine to fuck Arthur when he’s already well lubricated by the come of the many that had him earlier.

“Truly Merlin, you have not gazed upon delight if you have not seen Arthur on a platform with his legs spread so wide it presents his moist pucker for the world to pillage and plunder. Its mere sight whispers promises to your eyes of the erotic satisfaction one would receive from its warm succulent depths.

“And his lips… Full luscious petals, so especially pretty when wrapped around your cock; so pleasurable to feel it’s wet sucking warmth; and we enjoy a secondary relish too to watch them pursed around another man’s meat.”

“Sire?” Merlin couldn’t help the squeak in his voice as he desperately tried to look anywhere but at Arthur now.

Then at last, Cendred showed him a shadow of kindness and understanding. “Merlin? Are you—innocent?”

He didn’t have to say anything. His bright red blush was enough of an announcement. For a long moment, the King looked upon him in clear disbelief. “So, you are a rare treasure indeed, aren’t you, my boy?”

Merlin didn’t know what to say to that statement. He really didn’t think it was any of the king’s business. 

The King released him. “Go.”

“Sire?”

“Do you want to stay?”

“No, but—?” His eyes flickered towards Arthur and back to the King again.

“They will be a while yet. I will send for you when we are done.”

“Sire…” With a last glance at the Knights standing around Arthur, rather than the man himself, Merlin quickly ran for it.

*~*~*

Gaius had stayed up to wait for Merlin when he burst into their quarters and gratefully barrowed into the older man’s offered embrace. There was no need to say anything. Gaius just held Merlin tight while he trembled and quaked in his arms.

“I’m sorry I did not better prepare you, my boy.” Gaius told him softly as his tears soaked the man’s shoulder.

“Why?” He asked shakily after an almost eternity of gasping sobs.

“Because he can,” Gaius sighed softly, “Because he enjoys tormenting Arthur with an audience since he cannot shame him with his Knights alone. Because Cendred—thinks it is acceptable entertainment. And he isn’t alone among the nobles who think this. 

“King Bayard of Mercia visits often to indulge when he can.”

“What?!” Merlin pushed himself off Gaius’ shoulder to stare at him in outrage. “The king—he’s—he has brought in others before who have enjoyed this?” It was more a statement than a question.

“Arthur just needs an hour for the pendant to heal his body after the Knights have done their--duty as their King commands, Merlin. Cendred and his guests—they would take him together after the—entertainment.” Gaius’ eyes were sad as he met Merlin’s eyes, “And I—now we have the task of taking care of Arthur after these trysts.”

“It’s so wrong, Gaius. It has to stop! Someone—someone— It just has to stop!”

“And who would stand up to the King, Merlin?” Gaius asked him firmly. “Knowing what you do now, would you have saved just Arthur from Morgause’s dagger? You have power in your hands—would you strike the King dead with this power.”

Merlin scrunched his eyes closed at the thought. He was a healer—a physician, he did not deliberately take life. He would not. He just—he could not. His code—before Gaius would let him begin his apprenticeship, the older man had shared with him a passage passed down to him through the lines of doctors and physicians of the royal court. An oath created by a man called Hippocrates centuries earlier. Two lines, in particular, stood out to him now.

“I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

“I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan.”

Merlin had accepted his creed and oath as seriously as a Knight followed his. Whatever he felt about the situation, like the knights, he had to believe in a higher purpose. He would not kill, nor in deliberate inaction cause another to be killed when he could prevent it.

“No, Gaius. I would have still saved them both.”

Gaius smiled warmly at him. “There is a God, Merlin. That is the one faith which keeps me going some times. That retribution will eventually catch up with the evils I have seen done. Perhaps you are even here because the hand of fate has decided to reward Arthur for his stoic suffering and generosity by giving him a friend.

“You have, after all, already saved him twice in as many months.”

“I wish I could do more, Gaius.” Merlin told him softly.

“I have made this wish many times myself, Merlin. And I’m sure the Knights of this sorry kingdom have said this as many times.”

“It’s not fair.”

“No—no it isn’t.”

Gaius pulled Merlin in his arms again and rocked him gently. And they stayed in this comforting embrace until a Knight came for Merlin several hours later to bring him back to the dungeons.

“Are you all right?” Caradoc asked him gently as they walked into the bowels of the castle once more. “You did well to stay as long as you did, despite what you felt.”

Merlin’s bloodshot eyes looked up at the Knight’s kindly expression. “We owe you an apology too, Merlin. If we had known the King was trying to—we hadn’t realised—we would have warned you if—if we knew he would try to seduce you too.”

Merlin’s cringe told the Knight that this was one bit he hadn’t shared with Gaius. “Merlin…”

“It’s not important right now, and the King did back off.” Merlin told the Knight firmly. “Focus on Arthur. Tell me—how is he? What happened after—after—?”

Caradoc wasn’t happy about the change of subject, but he allowed it out of greater concern for their Prince. “The King—he usually tops off the night by having a turn or two as well when we—when we can’t get it up anymore. Tonight…”

“What is it?” Merlin pushed aside his own jittery concerns to look out a passing window to note the appearance of first light. “Does it always take this long?”

“He—usually the numbers he first settles on are sufficient.” Caradoc tells him miserably. “It was already large last night but—we should have been finished not more than a couple of hours after you’d left, really. The King—he called in more knights without letting the pendant take its hour…”

Merlin shivered. “How many?”

“As—as many.” Caradoc’s voice is a near whisper as they start their track into the dungeons. “We’ve never seen him so still, Merlin. The pendent—perhaps we’ve—perhaps it was too much for it to—to—”

Merlin had heard enough. The young physician broke into a run for the cell he’d been led to the previous night.

“Arthur?!” He burst into the cell to find a crowd of Knights kneeling around the seemingly broken figure and trying to gently wipe him clean of the trails of crusted fluid that practically drenched him.

With a low growl, Merlin’s eyes glowed and the viscous muck instantly sloughed off even as Arthur’s limp body was levitated. “Let me take care of him.”

“Merlin…”

“Rest, sir Knights.” He remembered to speak to the distressed men kindly as he conjured a soft bed sheet out of mid air to gently wrap around Arthur’s nude body. “It is my duty to care for the Prince as well now.

“You may visit later in the afternoon. My master and I have a convalescence room he may rest in.”

None of the knights would move though, hovering nearby while Merlin checked over his patient. “He is just exhausted. Go. I will care for him now.”

“Thank you, m’lord.” one of the Knights told him solemnly.

“It’s Merlin.” He told him automatically as he guided his floating patient out of the dungeons. “I am no lord anything.”

“Of course, m’lord.”

Caradoc, however, trailed after them attentively. Merlin hadn’t the heart to shoo him away, so he decided to ‘fish’ for a little more information. “Does Arthur have rooms? He’ll need clothes when he wakes up.”

“The Prince—” Caradoc flushed in embarrassment. “He has no quarters, and what he wears was given to him by the Knights.

“When he’s not in the King’s chambers, he stays in our barracks where—where— At night, Merlin, the King has on occasion paid us surprise visits. So to perpetuate the illusion of his position among us, he stays nude then and we draw lots to have him share our bed.”

If Merlin thought he was numbed to the growing list of humiliations inflicted upon Arthur, this took the cake. “But he must then do more than sleep with that ‘lucky’ knight.”

“It is—true that not a night passes where the Prince does not have sex, but we spare him penetration then, Merlin.” Caradoc told him firmly. “We *never* violate him when we don’t have to; when the King isn’t there to order us to.”

Merlin let out a long breath he hadn’t even realised he’d been holding. “I’m sorry—”

“Don’t apologise, Merlin. We understand. This is—it is not a situation any of us would choose…” Caradoc sighed as he strode on Arthur’s other side and stroked a gentle hand through his hair. “One of us will come with some clothes for the Prince later.”

They said little else after that. Caradoc took his leave after they settled Arthur in the comfortable single bed. Gaius came in to help Merlin give Arthur a thorough once over, then they covered him up in blankets. Gaius left for his bed, but Merlin found himself reluctant to leave Arthur alone.

After what Caradoc had shared with him, it had struck the young physician then that Arthur probably had not slept alone in a bed since he was brought to the castle. If he were not in the stocks or the dungeons at night, he was in the King’s bed or in the bed of one of the Knights. And Merlin felt sure that he shouldn’t leave Arthur to wake alone in a strange bed. So he pulled a chair near the bed and settled himself in for a nap.

It wasn’t the most comfortable of positions, so Merlin didn’t really think he could possibly fall asleep. But he did. So soundly, in fact, that he was to awaken hours later lying in the same bed he had laid Arthur in with his patient missing.

A note on the table told Merlin that Arthur had woken up and put Merlin to bed. Gaius wrote that the man thankfully showed little ill effects from the previous night, and so had gone off with the Knights who had come to visit. They had let him sleep since he looked like he needed it.

Gaius’ note also told Merlin that he’d be on his rounds till evening. And that if he was up to it, Merlin could reorganize their herb stock and go out to forage for herbs that he thought they were low on.

Reorganising their stock was a simple task when Merlin had a little cantrip he had made up back in his village. And suddenly feeling claustrophobic despite their large quarters, Merlin quite eagerly grabbed his herb gathering basket and left the city.

Well into his advanced years, Gaius was no longer fond of the task of gathering herbs so Merlin was glad to completely take over the job. Merlin enjoyed the tranquillity of the forest. He had fun climbing trees and digging in the dirt after herbs. When he was younger, it was like sanctioned permission to go out into the woods and get as dirty as he wanted without the worry of being yelled at by his mother.

Brewing, however, was an arduous task he still did not appreciate just yet, but he was getting there. He had watched the care Gaius put into this work and it impressed him. Watching Gaius, Merlin could see how much the man found the process almost meditative. Eventually, Merlin knew he would need to take up a serious interest in this task since it was the main mode of delivery for the medicines they prepared for their patients.

Today though, Merlin was just out in the woods for a relaxing walk where he’d just pick up what he could see along the way. It was perhaps sometime around midday when he realised he had a feeling of being followed. Recalling the sorceress who had attempted to assassinate the King the previous night, Merlin would be the first to admit that he was being a little paranoid, but—better safe than sorry. And he was also curious about the true effect of a little spell which had caught his eye earlier.

He closed his eyes, and breathed out the spell word. “Lígetræsc.”

On this bright sunny day, a huge bolt of lightning with an accompanying thunder crack boomed through the forest. With it, Merlin heard a squeal of fright and the thudding sounds of a body falling from one of the trees nearby to land in the bushes.

“Ow! Why did you have to do that for?!”

Merlin had turned in the direction of the voice and opened his eyes to look upon a rather attractive dusky skinned woman dressed in sturdy leather jerkin, pants and boots, with a short sword in her belt sitting on the ground with a long bow and a quiver full of arrows lying near her feet. She was rubbing her eyes, obviously trying to clear the stars from them cause by the sudden flash of light.

“Hey, you can’t fault a man for being cautious?” Merlin tapped her arm to give her a hand up. “You might have just introduced yourself and asked to walk with me if you’re curious about what I’m doing?”

“Really?” She accepted the hand up. “Of course I don’t mean that I’m questioning your sincerity. But you’re awfully trusting if you think it’s all right to just walk up to a stranger and ask if you can give them some company; Not that it’s bad to be trusting; but I’m just saying it’s not good either; I mean—”

Merlin laughed as he passed a hand over her eyes to clear the lingering pain and restore her vision. She blinked at him in pure surprise. “Well, my mother always told me a stranger’s just a friend you don’t know yet. I’m Merlin.”

“Oh, I—eh, I’m Gwen.”

“So why are you following me, Gwen?” Merlin asked as he turned away and continued on his leisurely track, while stopping every now and then to check on some plants and harvest the herbs when he’d find them.

“What makes you think I’m following you? I could just be taking a stroll out in the woods myself, or maybe I’m hunting.” She gestured with the bow and quiver. “Not that I’m hunting you, of course. I thought you should know that, just in case that’s what you think—”

He grinned at her before letting out a huge sigh. “Look, let’s just get right down to it. Did Lady Morgana send you to watch me?”

“M—mo—morgana?”

“Or Morgause, I heard that’s what she’s calling herself now.” Merlin nodded at the dismay her face showed. “Did she send you to search me out to check on what her stunt caused in its wake? Well?! Did she?!”

“Erm—”

“Does she even know what the King does to Arthur each time she makes a try on his life and fails?!” It was unfair, but Merlin couldn’t rein in his anger. After what he had witnessed the previous night—after the aftermath—cleaning and caring for the sodden wreck which had been made of Arthur. He needed to yell at someone and this poor woman was an easy target. “*He* pays for *her* *failure*! The King entertains himself with Arthur’s suffering!

“Arthur had to take *thirty* lashes last night. Thirty! And the King expected me to heal him. I did. I managed it, but what if I hadn’t been able to? That wasn’t his only punishment. He—”

The woman’s frightened expression brought Merlin back to himself then. And he drew back sheepishly; ashamed of what he had done. He remembered then Gaius’ words of caution to him what seemed like an eternity ago, when he had still been innocent. That as a natural born sorcerer he had the potential to be very powerful, but also uncontrollable since magic was a part of him. And his magic had always responded well to his emotions. That made him dangerous. Even now there was a swirl of dark clouds overhead where there had earlier been clear blue sky.

“Listen—I’m—” He had started then he saw a flicker in her eyes which made him turn around in time to see a rather familiar looking dark haired woman release an arrow at him, while beside her another woman with dark hair and clad in a red dress had a shimmering hand raised at him.

Merlin’s eyes blazed and time ground to a halt before the arrow covered half the distance between them. This time, Merlin realised he had consciously willed it and he briefly wondered why it had taken him so long to realise how he managed this. However, he had more pressing concerns at the moment.     

Glancing at the leather clad woman standing behind him, Merlin realised that if he stepped out of the arrow’s path it was an almost certainty that Gwen would be hit instead. And at the current trajectory, she would probably die. So he didn’t do that. Instead, he reached with his magic to turn the arrow around and at the woman with the shimmering hand.   

Before he restarted time though, Merlin took a good look around and spotted a boy hiding a ways from the trail. He decided that it just wasn’t going to do at all. So he took several steps to one side where he could observe all three women and pulled the hiding boy out in front of him.  

He re-started time and several things happened. Gwen had yelled in alarm. The woman in the red dress screamed as her hand was pierced by the arrow Merlin had turned around which also disrupted her spell; Morgause dropped her long bow to clutch at her companion’s injured hand; and the boy had startled under Merlin’s hand.

“Ladies, I really am in a foul mood today. So could we just talk?”

~Part 3~


Thanks for reading.
Cheers, firewolf

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