“Whatever these crow cages are, they wont be pleasant. That grate is our best bet.” Merlin pointed out, pacing up and down the cell.
They were back in the cave and trying to escape from it via the grate. Arthur, however, had doubts.
“There’s no getting out that way. That thing is unmovable! I’ve already tried!” He argued.
“That’s when you didn’t have me.”
“I hardly think you can move it, especially with a broken rib. Even if you did have my help that thing is way too strong! Besides there’s that long tunnel to consider.” Arthur waved a hand at the iron bars that covered the hole.
There was indeed a long straight tunnel leading to daylight that shone brightly down from the top of the rock that the cell had been carved into.
“It’s worth a try!” Merlin retorted.
“Fine, if it shuts you up!” Arthur got up from where he had been sitting and raised his arms to the grate.
Merlin went over to help and together they tried to move the grate. The strong iron bars didn’t move an inch.
“There! Satisfied?” Arthur said sarcastically and retreated to his sulking by the wall.
Merlin bit his lip and waited for the prince to look away so he would be free to cast a spell on the bars. Eventually he did and a flash of gold later the bolts loosened on the metal and Merlin caught them silently as they slid out.
He raised a hand to the bars and knocked it lightly. It immediately fell out of place and clattered to the floor, Merlin side-stepping smartly to avoid it.
A glance at Arthur revealed a totally stunned prince, his mouth opening and closing like a fish.
“H…how…how did…what?” He stammered and sprung over to the now open hole.
Merlin rubbed the back of his neck and grinned sheepishly.
“How did you do that?” Arthur demanded.
“Don’t really know to be honest…” Merlin shrugged.
“But…you…how?” Arthur stopped and narrowed his eyes suspiciously, “Fine, keep your secrets. I guess I should thank you.”
“Yeah, well, it was nothing.”
“Come on, let’s go.” Arthur said and hauled himself up into the hole.
“What’s it like?” Merlin asked, peering up into the hole.
“Small. Stay there. I’ll go first.”
Arthur bridged his arms and legs against the sides of the tunnel and somehow managed to jump up it, moving about a foot at a time with each leap.
Merlin heard footsteps outside the door and froze. There were a few murmurings outside and the footsteps echoed away again. He heaved a sigh of relief and cast his attention back to Arthur who had neared the top.
If he fell now it would end in something getting broken at the very least.
Merlin wondered how he was meant to climb up the long tunnel with a broken rib but was interrupted from his thoughts before he could answer that question.
“Psst!” Arthur hissed from the top of the shaft way, his head poking over the side and casting a long shadow down the rock.
“Is it safe?” Merlin asked hesitantly.
“It’s fine! Come on! I think someone’s coming.”
Merlin somehow pulled himself onto the small ledge at the bottom of the tunnel, his rib protesting painfully.
The cylinder shaped shaft way was caked in bits of moss that were damp with dew, making it even more difficult to jump up it using the bridging method. It was the only way of getting to the top however so he knocked his hands and feet into the wall to begin the ascent.
His feet kept slipping on the slimy walls and his rib began to ache horribly, making it difficult to use the arm on that side.
Nevertheless he managed to get to the top and forced himself not to look down. He threw an arm over the edge and scrabbled with his feet, not quite being able to drag himself out of the hole.
“A bit of help would be appreciated.” Merlin groaned and looked up to find the prince who seemed to have disappeared.
The hole led up to the top of a huge flat rock with a grassy slope going off to the right and a sheer drop to the left. If you were to look over the side of the drop you would find the bandits camp at the bottom.
It was a pretty good view but Merlin had no time to admire it.
He was looking upon a pair of shoes that most defiantly weren’t Arthur’s and as Merlin raised his gaze up to the persons face he saw that it was Finnie, arms folded and an ugly smirk on his face.
Arthur was struggling violently with two other men behind him. They had him bound and gagged, which explained why the prince had not been able to warn him.
Merlin groaned and closed his eyes in dismay.
They had been caught.
Two men dragged Merlin roughly out of the hole and the next thing he knew he had been hit over the head and the world was slowly swimming into black.
“Was that necessary?!” Arthur yelled at Finnie, pushing the rag that had been gagging him out of his mouth with his tounge, referring to Merlin, out cold on the floor.
“Zip it, unless you want the same.” Finnie growled, indicating for his fellow thugs to take them away.
Arthur watch furiously as Merlin was dragged along by his feet, no one taking his arms and his head bumping horribly over the rock.
“You can’t treat him like that!” He fumed a he himself was pulled away.
“Watch me.” Finnie sneered.
It was then that Arthur swore he would make them pay.