Chapter 1: The Journey to Prydwen Part One
The first Christmas had passed by in Camelot, the first of the new age as many called it. A time when magic was once more a part of the Kingdom. It had been a busy and fraught time for all, yet the festivities had gone by in an instant. At the heart of the celebrations had been the newly born heir, Prince Lachlan. Camelot had celebrated his birth as though it was coming out from under a dark shadow and into the light. In way it was true, as the death of Morgana had at least brought some relief. But to Merlin, Arthur and Guinevere, also some regret for the person who she’d once been.
For now, those in power elected to continue to rebuild the Kingdom. With plenty of work still to complete, the festivities at least gave people a chance to take some leave. The celebrations had gone off into the night and into the next day, an endless noise and excitement taking over the castle and the lower town, as everyone came together. As the fireworks hit the sky a new feeling overcame the Kingdom and joy erupted, embracing every walk of life.
Like all parties, it had to come to an end, by mid-day of the next morning, a more sedate atmosphere prevailed. By the time the darkness returned, Camelot was once more on alert, for anything which may occur.
Two Days Later
Merlin was in his apartment one night when he discovered the papers. The two pages had been shoved into one of his old research books. His first thought, had been to discard them but as he noticed the ancient old language written on the pages, his curiosity got the better of him. He strained his eyes scrunching his face up in concentration. He managed to translate a couple of sentences, but as the language became more difficult, was forced to abandon the effort. But something about the text intrigued him and he decided to pay Gaius and Alice a visit.
He blew out the candle on his table before quietly closing the door. He made his way down the corridor, briefly pausing at the door of the young newly born. He watched him from a distance a smile on his face, as he noticed the infant stir in his sleep. He had been surprised when Arthur and Guinevere had asked him to be a Godparent to the young Prince. At first, he’d been lost, knowing little about what he had to do. But as he talked it out with Gaius, he relaxed and a bond had grown between Lachlan and himself. He knew the young boy held the future in his tiny hands, he would be the one to take on Arthur’s work eventually. Merlin knew in the meantime he’d do anything to protect the young boy. Happy, that Lachlan had settled, he ran down the stairs.
After knocking and hearing Gaius’s cheerful voice he opened the door and smiled as he took in the scene. Alice and Gaius were at the table finishing a potion together. Since Alice had arrived back, Merlin marvelled at how easily the two of them had come back together in such harmony. Gaius was looking ever younger, he guessed Alice had a knocked a few years off his age mentally, if not physically. He waved at Gilli, who was washing some containers in the back of the room.
“Oh Merlin, I wasn’t expecting you to come tonight. Do you want something to eat?” Gaius asked,
Merlin smiled even now Gaius couldn’t stop fussing whenever Merlin paid him a visit.
“Thank you, but I’ve already eaten Gaius.” Merlin assured him. “I was hoping you could help me translate something,”
“Anything interesting?” Alice asked, her eyes coming to life.
“I’m not sure. I was reading one of my magical books when I came across these two pages,” Merlin explained, “They had been slipped into the book,”
“Oh, let me see then,” Gauis replied.
Merlin carefully put the sheets of paper on the table and everyone stared at them for a couple of seconds. Alice reached for one of the pages.
“This is a very ancient old language, I’m sure I came across it when I was with Roland.” Alice sighed, “He had such a flair for transcripts like these,”
“I remember you telling me that,” Gaius said, “I’m finding it quite difficult to recognize many words in it,”
“Hang on, I know that name,” Alice cried out, pointing at a few words, which to Merlin meant very little.
“Who is it?” Gauis asked,
“Attila Ludwin,” Alice replied, a smile on her face, “you must have heard some of the tales of old Gaius?”
“I’ve heard of him, but I know very little about him,” Gaius admitted.
“Who is he?” Merlin asked, looking to one than the other. He felt strangely excited all of a sudden as if a mystery was about to be explained.
“Atilla Ludwin, was an old ancient Sorcerer who once dominated the Kingdom. Camelot was his home territory. I believe he ruled for over two hundred years, or so the transcripts of old claimed.” Alice smiled.
“But I thought Cornelius Sigan was the main Sorcerer that ruled Camelot,” Merlin said, confused.
“This was a long time before Cornelius Sigan, Merlin.” Alice explained. “It was said that Cornelius learnt a lot from Attila. Attila was a Sorcerer without parallel, no one of his knowledge and power had existed before he came along. He was as much a scholar as a Sorcerer in truth. I remember Roland saying much of what we take for granted now, started from his reign.”
“So, what happened to him?” Merlin asked, “Why is so little known about him?”
“A lot of things happened around that time. Magic was becoming more accepted within the higher power. This was before it was accepted that magic’s ultimate power came from the Isle of the Blessed. There were different beliefs in those early times. In those days, many tribes existed who had their own forms of magic and hierarchy and firm ideas of where it came from. Different groups had different types of magic, none of which held domination over any other.” Alice explained,
“So how did the Old Religion begin?” Merlin asked, truly intrigued now.
“Mainly due to Attila Ludwin. It was he who found out about the secrets of the Isle of the Blessed. It was he who discovered the root power and how magic translated itself through the land. Not everyone was prepared to follow his opinion, indeed for centuries afterwards some people were reluctant to accept it at all. It is true to say the likes of Cornelius Sigan took parts of what Attila learnt and bended it to their own will,”
“I still don’t understand why so little is known about him, if he was that incredible,” Merlin said, a bit frustrated that nothing more had been translated.
“In the years that followed, magic took on its own path,” Gaius explained, “By then the belief of the Old Religion had been established, meaning that magic users followed the procedure that was laid down. There were still odd groups which argued with the logic though.”
“Can you leave these sheets with me Merlin?” Alice asked, “I will have another look in the morning and see if I can work anything else out,”
“Of course, Alice,” Merlin agreed, “Let’s hope a good night’s sleep will refresh your memory,”
“You always learn something new in this place,” Gilli smiled, “If you excuse me, I’m going for an early night,”
“Or visiting a certain young lady perhaps?” Alice asked, a twinkle in her eye.
Gilli laughed, “I couldn’t possibly say,”
“I’ll walk back with you Gilli,” Merlin said, “I have some notes from the last meeting I’ll bring over tomorrow for you to read,”
“Yes, that’s fine Merlin. I think we could all do with an early night,” Gaius replied,
Merlin made his goodbyes, and closed the door walking back along the corridor with Gilli.
“How’s everything going?” Merlin asked,
“Very well, thanks. I am finding plenty to do now the School is taking shape. I am also looking forward to the visit to Nemeth in the spring,” Gilli said, holding the door open for Merlin.
“Thanks,” Merlin replied, “It will certainly be interesting visiting the old school. I am really intrigued with learning about how it all came about. It must be exciting with so many people registering an interest in Summer Hall,”
“It is yes, but also daunting. There will be a lot of work to get through,” Gilli admitted.
“There is no pressure, we can take our time to make sure we give people the best possible start,” Merlin cautioned, “If it’s delayed, it’s delayed until you’re happy with everything.”
“Hopefully, it will all come together in time. We are getting some good people involved and there is the right spirit and determination to make a success of it,”
“I’m sure you will do a great job Gilli, I have every faith in you,” Merlin replied, smiling.
“Thank you, Merlin,”
They were at Gilli’s apartment and after a couple of minutes of polite chat, Gilli excused himself and Merlin continued walking to his own room.
He still felt quite alert as if he wanted to get his mind into something. He remembered he still had his father’s book and decided to do some more reading. He had received a note from Mervyn about Aithusa. It seemed the young dragon was quite restless and moving around quite a bit. Merlin guessed she was just exploring the boundaries of her new home, but he was concerned about any problems, which could materialise if she met anyone untoward.
It bothered him that he still knew so little about how to help her. A lot of the text in the book was quite ancient and Merlin found he had to look words up, to fully understand the pages. It meant nothing could be done quickly which just increased his frustration. He worried that something could occur before he had the chance, to actually help her. But at the same time, he knew he had to tread carefully. He had already worked out that any assistance would involve quite intense magic, so knew he had to be sure he was using the right spell. He had already discovered a new type of magic, which seemed to be acquainted with the Dragonlords. It was described as a Senses type of magic which connected with certain places. Some of the areas mentioned Merlin had barely heard of at all.
The more he read the ancient magic book the more he realised there were so many different paths and magical interpretations to consider. He began to appreciate Alice’s knowledge from earlier on more, as he continued to read. The whole history of magic inside the Kingdom was complicated by the different beliefs and ultimate suspicions which existed in many different walks of life. It meant nothing seemed to be clear-cut.
He had learnt this especially when dealing with the non-magical people in Camelot. It was not just reassuring them about magic, but also correcting wrongly held views, which existed from the Purge years. He could appreciate the fear that some people held, but at the same time was frustrated that it led to inevitable delays. Realising his mind was wandering he decided to have an earlier night and so reluctantly closed his father’s book and blew out the candle.
It was just before Merlin was about to have a break late in the morning, when Alice knocked at the door. He smiled, as she made her way over to his table with the two pieces of paper in her hand.
“How did you get on?” Merlin asked, holding his breath, “did you manage to translate anything else,”
“Not in the fine detail,” Alice admitted, “It such a long time ago, since I’ve read this language. But I have remembered something that my old colleague told me about Atilla,”
“Oh?” Merlin asked, slightly disappointed but one look at Alice’s face told him, what she was about to say could indeed be important.
“Roland used to research old forms of ancient magic. Back then it was the age of experimentation. As a result, people followed few rules which meant the boundaries were very unpredictable. It appeared one of the magical formulas he discovered was senses magic,”
“I’ve been reading about that the other night,” Merlin interrupted, “In my father’s old book, do you mean this could help me in my quest for curing Aithusa?”
“It’s possible,” Alice admitted, “But you have to be aware it’s one of the hardest types of magic to learn about. I would urge you to do your research before you go travelling to places and disturbing old spirits. I can tell you though the place you need to be researching, is Daobeth,”
“That was the Kingdom that the Dragons destroyed if I’m not mistaken. I’m sure I remember Arthur telling the story when we were on a quest,” Merlin said, grimly.
“They did, but before that event they had a special affinity for that part of Albion. It held one of the most sacred old religion secrets, outside the Isle of the Blessed,”
“Which was?” Merlin asked, now fascinated.
“The Alter of Mount Devla,”
Merlin shook his head, “I’ve not even heard of the place, what more do you know about it?”
Alice shifted in her chair, as she described one of the biggest hidden secrets of Albion’s magical past.
“Before magic became fully accepted, the Dragonlords controlled the Dragons all over the Kingdom. I remember reading a book on how if you travelled through the Northern Plains, Dragons were as common as the rains on that desolate plain,” she began,
Merlin leaned forward, fully engaged in the story Alice was telling.
“Dragons were adaptable creatures, who could live in many different environments. Some were meat eaters, other could live on nothing but plants, as I’m sure you are aware. That meant they were numerous all over Albion, in virtually every type of terrain. Even near the big towns people would cite Dragons flying overhead. At first, they were tolerated. But then as different Kingdoms fell and a new ones were born, so the dividing lines between the Dragonlords and the rulers changed.”
Merlin grimaced understanding only too well how things could change virtually overnight, as new people with different beliefs intertwined with those Dragonlords who were already there.
“To cut a long story short, it wasn’t long before isolated conflicts began, between those who wanted to cause friction. All of a sudden battles would break out, as boundaries between the two sides were tested. It caused death and destruction on both sides and many Dragonlords, paid with their lives.
But one incident in particular was especially serious. A gang of bandits working for one of the newer Kings made their way to the edges of the Northern Plains. It was a place were many of the young dragons were kept together, one night a battle ensued and before the end of the night all the young dragons had perished,”
“That’s terrible,” Merlin murmured, anger lingering for a moment, as he thought about the wanton destruction of such a noble breed. “Who was responsible for that?”
“The old stories state that it was King Taegar who had taken over the next Kingdom. As Daobeth had a lot of natural sources not surprisingly it was sought after by many a ruler. When the Dragonlords from some of the other Kingdoms found out there was a real battle between the two sides,”
“Where does the Alter of Mount Devla come into the story though?” Merlin asked, intrigued.
“Mount Devla, was at that time, the most sacred place in Albion. The Alter was on top of a hill and it was there that the Dragonlords would first assemble and pass on their secrets to one another. Ordinary men feared going near the place, as they claimed spirits walked among the forests and villages around,”
“And did they?” Merlin asked, already realising this was the place he needed to find out about.
“Probably not, to the non-magical people any site of magic was rumoured to be full of spirits with indescribable happenings. They were always in isolated places after all where the mist would cover every part of the ground. I think their imaginations would get carried away. None the less the Alter is still there, but rumour has it, its is guarded by an old wizard called Nameon.”
“Do you believe that?” Merlin asked, curiously staring at the bits of paper on the table.
“Perhaps, there is something to the tale. Gaius told me you met the Fisher King who after all was centuries old,” Alice replied, looking at him intently.
“You are right of course, anything is possible. Either way its obvious I need to do some research on Daobeth,” Merlin said, watching Alice as she unfurled another piece of paper.
“This belonged to Roland, it’s an old map of the region of Daobeth. It may come in useful the Alter was rumoured to be in a place called Prydwen which is over here,” she pointed at the top of the map.
“May I keep this map?” Merlin asked, suddenly keen to get started.
“Of course, its no use to me now.” Alice smiled, “I am only sorry I couldn’t tell you more.”
“You have been a great help anyway, and thanks for the map,” Merlin said,
“That’s okay, I never thought it would have been of use again, took me back to my early days with Roland,” Alice admitted, getting up and pushing the chair back.
“You must miss him,” Merlin replied, wondering if she would ever tell them more about him.
“I have Gaius now though and that’s enough,” Alice replied, “Speaking of which I had better go and collect some herbs,”
“Do you want any help?” Merlin asked,
“Thank you,” Alice answered, “But Gaius is coming with me, we’re making an afternoon of it,”
“Oh well,” Merlin grinned, “Enjoy yourselves and once again thanks for your help in this,”
Alice nodded as she reached the door and with one last look around Merlin’s room, the door shut and once again Merlin was alone. For a second, he wondered what to do next, then realised he was late for a meeting with Arthur. He hastily shoved the map into his pocket, collecting the notes he needed and made his way over to Arthur’s chambers, almost bumping into Lancelot en route.
“Sorry,” Merlin apologised, a grin on his face.
“You know Merlin, with your magic surely there is a way for you to transport yourself to places without causing mayhem around you!” Lancelot laughed,
Merlin turned around and giggled, “Yes, you’d think so wouldn’t you. I will see you later have to meet Arthur,”
He waved and ran down the corridor knowing only too well Arthur would be awaiting his presence with a detached amusement. Merlin knew his timekeeping was still little better than when he’d been a servant and knew the conversation would start with that very point. He burst through the door after a brief knock.
“Ah Merlin, I did ask for the meeting to start on time, but obviously I knew that would be highly unlikely,” Arthur remarked, his eyebrow rising.
“Sorry, I got a bit carried away,” Merlin admitted, with a tight smile.
“With?” Arthur asked, pouring them both a drink.
“I found a couple of sheets of paper in one of my magical books. When I started reading them, I had trouble translating them. So, I took them to Gaius and Alice and it ends up being about an old ancient sorcerer called Attila Ludwin. Did your father ever mention him to you?” Merlin asked,
“Not my father no. But there is something familiar about that name.” Arthur admitted,
“He was in power some years before Cornelius Sigan became known,” Merlin began,
“Now his name is definitely familiar,” Arthur said, a look of recognition, on his face.
Merlin grimaced thinking vaguely about Cedric and the brief reincarnation of Sigan. “It turns out it was Ludwin who discovered the importance of the Isle of the Blessed and its relevance to magic.”
“I always assumed its importance was always known anyway,” Arthur replied, a look of surprise on his face.
“Not in the beginning, there were many tribes who had different beliefs and theories. I suppose you could say it was Attila who put everything together. People like Sigan, took parts of what Attila discovered and used them for their own ambitions,”
“I see,” Arthur said, “so what did the papers say?”
“Alice couldn’t translate them, she did give me some other interesting background stuff. It is something I may look at, though I will have to do some research first.”
“Oh? Anything interesting,”
“Well, if Alice is right in her assessment it could lead me to a place called The Alter of Mount Devla, which is a place where the Dragonlords used to meet to pass on their secrets. I’m hoping this could help me cure Aithusa,”
“Right,” Arthur nodded, “That would be interesting certainly. Where is this place?”
Merlin took out the map Alice had given him and put it on the table. He pointed at Prydwen.
“I’ve been to Prydwen, it is very isolated though make sure you take some Knights with you,”
“I’ll take Lancelot with me,” Merlin promised,
“Why don’t you also take young Galahad with you as well,” Arthur suggested,
“Do you think he’s ready for such a mission, it could be dangerous,” Merlin explained, “I know very little about the place,”
“He has very impressive fighting skills and he needs to start somewhere,” Arthur pointed out,
“I suppose so,” Merlin agreed. “Will you put it to him then?”
“Yes, leave it to me. When are you thinking about going to Nemeth?” Arthur asked,
“Probably in the spring, think it will be quite tricky at the moment,” Merlin said, “Gilli is going to visit the Druids over the next couple of days,”
“I see people are still showing interest in the School then,” Arthur said, “What’s going to be the timetable to the opening?”
“I’m going to leave that to Gilli, as I think he’s in the best position to bring it all together. He will get an idea from the Druids over how many people will come over from them. I gather there is already quite a number,”
Arthur nodded, “Good to see its all coming together. You are doing well Merlin I have to say,”
“Thank you. At times it feels very slow moving but it seems as if things are finally advancing. Anything I can help you with?” Merlin asked, hoping Arthur would say no.
“I think everything is in order. When are you going away to Prydwen?” he asked,
“Shortly, if possible. So, if you could ask Galahad, I would be grateful,”
“Not a problem and make sure you take enough provisions Merlin, there isn’t much out there,” Arthur warned him.
“Yes, I’d already worked that one out,” Merlin grinned.
In the next couple of days Merlin made sure they had enough provisions to last them for a month. He knew with the weather still unpredictable, they could be delayed once they set off. He still had private doubts about taking Galahad with them, the young man seemed a very quiet and private person. But he ultimately trusted Arthur’s opinion on him and knew there would be security in numbers.
He spent a couple of hours with Lancelot working out the best route and decided going cross country despite the weather risks, would probably save them some time. He could already tell by the map that parts of the journey would be tricky, so the night before he left decided an early night would be best.
To be continued.
Chapter 2: The Journey to Prydwen Part Two
Merlin, Lancelot and Galahad continue their journey to Prydwen and as the journey increases Merlin and Lancelot begin to unwind with Galahad. As they get nearer to their destination Merlin begins to wonder what it is he will find there and if he'll be able to help Aithusa.
Merlin joined the two Knights and soon they were tucking into some chicken that Merlin had “borrowed” from the Camelot kitchens. He noticed with amusement how both Knights attacked their food, in much the same way as they did life. He enjoyed it no less, but took time to enjoy the taste.
“We’ve made good time I think, despite the weather,” Galahad said, breaking the contented silence.
“Yes, I think we have. We were lucky the roads were not as water-logged as usual,” Lancelot agreed,
“The nearer we get to the White Mountains, the slower our progress will be,” Merlin mused,
“If you don’t mind, I was looking at the map last night. There is a way we can avoid the worst of the mountains,” Galahad said, his face reddening a bit as Merlin and Lancelot stared at him.
“Go on,” Merlin encouraged, hopeful that a tricky part of the journey could be avoided.
“I used to live in the vicinity of the mountains. There is a secret path you can take which misses out a lot of the range,” Galahad replied, getting the map out.
Merlin looked, as the young Knight pointed out a back pass which he hadn’t noticed up to then.
“Hang on, isn’t that the path to Reosa?” Lancelot asked,
“It is,” Galahad replied, “But I have used it many times when I was training to be a Knight,”
“But they say it’s haunted.” Lancelot said, looking from the map to Galahad.
“That is just an old wives tale, with respect,” Galahad laughed,
“Well, if it cuts some of the trickiness out of our journey, surely it’s worth the risk?” Merlin suggested. He didn’t fancy having to ride over the mountains noticing once more how the clouds were starting to gather.
“There is also plenty of cover for when we stop overnight,” Galahad said, “I’ve camped in the forest of Gethin many a time as a boy,”
“Surely it’s worth a try?” Merlin suggested. “What’s the worst that can happen?”
“If you two are up for it, I’m not going to be the weakling!” Lancelot smiled.
“That’s decided then,” Merlin grinned, “Good work, Galahad,”
“Thanks,” the young Knight stammered.
Lancelot and Merlin grinned at the boy’s self-conscious manner and with another look at a darkening sky, hastened their departure.
“I suggest we’re going to need cover pretty soon,” Lancelot grimaced, “Let’s get to this forest,”
“Agreed,” Merlin said, tossing his bag onto his horse.
Before long they were thundering down a long straight path, with overhanging trees on each side of them. Every now and then a bush would almost impede the riders and more than once, Merlin felt he was about to be end up on the ground. But each time his horse somehow managed to regain his balance. It was certainly a hairy ride with Merlin realising quickly, he had avoid one tricky ride for another one. He could see the mountains in their sight, through a slow moving mist. Merlin had already anticipated, that Lancelot’s description of haunted could yet become a reality for them. Suddenly a tension creeped into his manner, he began to notice more of what was around.
In situations like these his whole magical demeanour kicked in, making him aware of things long before anyone else was. He knew now he needed to be ready for anything. With the outskirts of the forest ahead they had slowed their pace. Merlin sensed an inner strangeness about the place and he already appreciated that Arthur’s sense of Galahad being brave, was a very accurate description. If the young Knight really had spent nights in this forest, he was braver than Merlin was.
“If you really camped out in this place Galahad, no wonder they call you the fearless one!” the older Knight remarked, as if reading Merlin’s mind.
Galahad laughed, “Maybe to an outsider it seems worse, but some of my happiest nights were spent here,”
As Merlin guided his horse through the forest, he had already spotted signs of the Old Religion alive and well. He had never spoken much to Galahad and wondered what his view on magic actually was. He still recognised that to some people magic was still a taboo subject. Merlin thought he’d never have a better chance to find out more about the young Knight.
“Some of the trees are really ancient ones,” Merlin remarked, noticing an oak tree with a face carved on it. The roots he reckoned went for miles underneath the forest floor.
“I would have thought you’d be at home here Merlin,” Galahad prompted, “It is quite well known for its connections to the Old Religion,”
“I think I can sense them even now,” Merlin admitted, beginning to relax a little bit more.
“On Samhain Eve, we children would always come here, looking for any sign of witches and sorcerers. The old people would talk about there being a mad man who lived in a hut, not far from here,” Galahad reminisced,
“Did you ever see him?” Merlin asked,
“We did, I think he was just an old Druid. I met him once, he didn’t strike me as anyone to fear,” Galahad replied,
Merlin smiled to himself, already feeling the young man would not be a problem and had already displayed a pretty open mind of the world. If only there were more people like him, Merlin realised his task would be that much easier.
By now shadows were starting to form, as the last remnants of daylight began disappearing. Merlin realised they would need to find somewhere to camp down for the night pretty soon.
“Any idea over where we can stop for the night Galahad?” he asked,
“If we carry on for another half an hour, there is a little alcove which is pretty sheltered from the elements. That would be our best bet,” the young man suggested.
“It sounds promising,” Lancelot said,
A wind had begun to blow around them, making Merlin shudder. All of a sudden he began to wish he’d taken his heavier jacket with him. But he had decided it was too bulky to take, but now realised it had been a mistake. The air around them was still cold with a wintery feel about it. The last heat of winter sun felt like an age away, as he the dark enclosed around them.
It had taken a little longer to reach their destination, but Merlin noticed the alcove described at once. He was suddenly grateful that Arthur had suggested taking Galahad with them the young man had already proved his worth.
“Let me start a fire,” Merlin said, as the others threw some wood down.
Within seconds the three of them were warming themselves by the fire and sharing out the last bits of bounty between them. They all ate slowly as if making the most of what remained.
“I will take the horses to the stream to get a drink. It’s not far I won’t be long,” Galahad said,
“Take care, we’re relying on you leading us out of here tomorrow,” Merlin reminded him.
Lancelot and Merlin watched him lead the horses away down a path. They continued to warm their hands on the fire.
“The young man has already proved his worth,” Merlin remarked,
“He’s very quiet that’s as much as I’ve heard him say since he’s been with us,” Lancelot laughed.
Merlin smiled, “It’s a good spot, considering how much we’re out in the open,”
“True, though I still think this place is full of ghouls!” his friend replied, looking around.
“Lancelot I never thought you’d admit to such fears!” Merlin laughed,
“Being brave is admitting your fears though Merlin,” Lancelot pointed out.
“You could be right there,” Merlin admitted, “I still don’t know if this is a good idea, but it’s one I had to try,”
“So, what are you hoping to achieve here?” Lancelot asked, throwing a blanket over Merlin’s legs.
“First off, to explore the idea of this senses magic I’ve read about,” Merlin began,
“What is senses magic?” Lancelot, “How is it different to what you have?”
“It is a type of magic that is connected to the local landscape. The Alter was where the Dragon lords of old would pass on their secrets. Which is why that type of magic is encased in that particular area,” Merlin explained,
“So you wouldn’t find this sort of magic near Camelot?” Lancelot asked,
“No, Camelot probably has its own type of magic that is bound into its area. But the more you look at this, the bigger it gets,” Merlin admitted,
“This old sorcerer,” Lancelot said,
“Yes Nameon. Do you really think you will get to meet him,” Lancelot asked,
“When Alice first told me about it, I was doubtful. But the more I’ve read since the more I’ve realised there is a lot I don’t know about. I never seriously thought the Fisher King was alive either, but he was. He had spoken about how our meeting was foretold,”
“It could be the same with Nameon maybe?” Lancelot mused,
“We will have to wait and see about that,” Merlin admitted, looking up and noticing Galahad bringing the horses back.
“The horses are all refreshed. Do you want me to do the first watch Lancelot?”
“If you want, kick me in a few hours and I’ll take over,” the older Knight replied,
“Here, put a blanket over you,” Merlin said, “The wind is getting colder,”
“Thanks,” Galahad put the blanket around his shoulders, then, walked off into the darkness.
By the time morning had arrived the world around them had transformed with the sunshine showing the landscape off to its best. The hills off in the distant seemed more pastel in colour, with every sight leaving Merlin more speechless. They had by now entered the back- path Galahad had informed them about. As they eased their horses up the hill, Merlin couldn’t resist the urge to catch a view every now and then. To their right the valley below was resplendent and with a stunning waterfall throwing its contents down the chalky cliffs. Every now and then a hawk would float on the breeze which made Merlin wish he had the time to sit and take it all in.
Time of course was of the essence and so they ploughed on, determined to make Prydwen by nightfall. As Merlin turned his head left, he caught sight of the ruin of Daobeth, not for the first he mused it must have been an impressive sight in its glory days. The size of it was massive, built at an angle. Merlin had seen similar ruins elsewhere, but not one which caught the imagination as this one did.
Further west in the distance he could sense the Isle of the Blessed. His mind briefly returned to the stunning battle he’d had there with Nimule, after he’d first arrived in Camelot. The memory of his almost losing first his mother and then Gaius, could still force him to catch his breath in the shock of it. That evening he had unleashed a power within himself that he didn’t know he had. It had been the beginning of his journey in understanding what lay beneath his skin, what prompted him to act and the wild emotions that it forced him to endure. Even now, with all the changes in his life he could still become transfixed in how little had actually changed inside himself. He was at heart the same person who had left Ealdor all those years ago, only the responsibilities had become more difficult and challenging. He had become so engrossed in his thinking, that had hadn’t realised Lancelot and Galahad had stopped their horses. Coming to his senses, he joined his two companions who were looking out over a new valley ahead of them.
“There we go in the distance behind those trees that is the road to Prydwen,” Galahad said, pointing ahead.
“We’ve made good progress,” Merlin smiled, relieved that at least they were nearing their destination.
“Let’s hope the weather continues to hold,” Lancelot cautioned, “That valley below will become very wet, if the rains return,”
“When do you suppose we will get there?” Merlin asked,
“In normal circumstances it would take at least a full day’s ride, but thanks to the path we’re on, hopefully by this evening,” Galahad estimated, urging his horse forward.
Merlin and Lancelot followed Galahad and soon they were making their way down the path. Merlin recognised bird song up ahead, but also, he had a magical sense too one which was not welcomed by him. He could see Lancelot had noticed.
“What is it Merlin?” Lancelot asked,
“I’m not sure yet, but I can feel a sense from somewhere. It could just be the fact that I’m entering a highly magical environment, but I’m a bit wary,” Merlin said, looking around.
“Isn’t that just a natural feeling for you in these circumstances?”
“Maybe,” Merlin muttered, “Either way, let’s stay alert just in case,”
They travelled in silence for a bit, all three taking the time to check the sky and ground for anything untoward. By now they were halfway down and Merlin could recognise a group of Poplar trees which heralded the road to Prydwen. At the moment they had the advantage of height to check for any danger, but once they got lower, Merlin knew they were more at the mercy of anything which may threaten them.
The lower they rode, the more apparent it became to Merlin that it was from now, that their journey could develop into something much riskier. He continued to check the sky, for some reason feeling that was more dangerous than the ground. By the time they had got to the bottom of the path, all three men were looking more perturbed.
“I suggest we go in single file, I’ll lead Galahad you stay at the back,” Lancelot suggested,
“Merlin, if you sense anything let us know straight away,” Lancelot urged, moving off.
“Don’t worry, I’ll warn you,” Merlin replied leaving a little distance between them.
The road they were travelling on was very open. Either side of it a line of trees guarded the distant hills. Merlin sensed immediately that his breath had changed, he couldn’t breathe as deeply as before. It was as if someone had restricted the air around them. It heightened his magical senses even more. He looked ahead at the same time that Galahad caught sight of the three figures in the sky.
“What are they?” the young Knight asked,
“Wyverns” Merlin replied, “They are guarding something,” He could see them circulating round and round. As he looked again, he noticed there was a cavern and it reminded him of something he’d read, before he left Camelot.
The Wyverns hadn’t yet noticed them, but Merlin knew it was only a matter of time before they did. Then he knew they would be under attack. He noticed a patch of woodland off to the right, he pointed over towards it.
“Why don’t we leave the horses in the wood and then we can walk on foot,” Merlin said, “There is something I would like to investigate.”
“We could do that, there is a path over there,” Lancelot suggested, “If we follow the stream,”
They turned their horses round and manoeuvred them onto a half-hidden path which was overgrown on each side. As they slowly encouraged their mounts along, the ivy became thicker and more challenging. In the end, they decided to climb off their horses and walk instead. As they pushed the undergrowth away, a clearer path emerged and eventually they came to a spot where they could catch their breath. Merlin beckoned them over and explained his idea.
“One of the books I read before I left spoke about a cliff side cavern. When I took another look at the Wyverns, I could see there was an opening behind them. It could be that is where the entrance is. To get to the alter we have to go through the cavern first, but I would like to confirm it first of all,”
“There is enough daylight to go and take a look. I wouldn’t recommend going in until tomorrow though,” Lancelot cautioned,
“Don’t worry, I’ve no intention of doing that today,” Merlin admitted,
“Do you need me?” Galahad asked, “While you are looking, I could go and catch some dinner we’re running low on supplies,”
“That’s fine Galahad,” Merlin said, “We won’t be long,”
Merlin and Lancelot walked down a short hill and were soon onto another path. The path was sandy and blew in their faces as they walked. Merlin used his hand to disperse the worst of it. They had been walking for about five minutes when they came to a fork in the path. Merlin by now was using his magical senses to trace where they needed to go. Lancelot followed behind, not even bothering to question Merlin which gave the warlock more confidence in continuing to use his abilities.
As they looked ahead, they could see the top of the cliff, suddenly the path went upwards and they struggled up it, their feet sinking into the sand. Merlin had to urge himself forwards and felt his friend pushing him along. When they got to the top they could clearly see where the Wyverns had been. But suddenly all was quiet, so they continued onwards. Presently they came to a couple of sharp looking bushes, which they brushed passed with relative ease. Looking upwards, for the first time they could make out the opening.
Merlin tried to visualise the sketch he’d seen in the magical book. It certainly looked big enough to be the place. They at least knew it would be worth further investigation the next day. But Merlin knew it would not be straight forward.
“Well?” Lancelot asked, “Is this the place you are looking for?”
“I think it’s the start of it at least,” Merlin nodded, “Let’s see what we find tomorrow,”
“I hope you are right this valley looks rather open and vague,” Lancelot grimaced,
“Yes,” Merlin agreed, “I hope Galahad has managed to find us something to eat, I’m famished,”
By the time they had arrived back a fire was blazing with a plump rabbit being cooked. The smell made Merlin’s stomach rumble with anticipation. After a brief conversation Merlin bedded down early knowing tomorrow would be a full day. But he hoped he would be nearer to finding a solution to Aithusa’s situation.
To be Continued.
Chapter 3: The Journey to Prydwen
Merlin, Galahad and Lancelot make for the cave, wondering what challenges may lay ahead of them. Having made it into the magical place, Merlin feels a positive influence but cannot work out the reason behind it. As Merlin meets the old sorcerer Nameon, he realises this is the just the start of his challenge in helping Aithusa.
The next day a bitterly cold breeze blew in and already Merlin could sense a dramatic change in the weather was heading their way. He cursed, as this would undoubtedly cause them problems. He did his jacket up as he finished off some berries.
Before long, the three of them were moving along the path once again. Lancelot led the way pushing back the bushes and ivy that every now and then would impede their progress. Merlin was scratched a number of times as he pushed the branches away with his bare hands. By now the first spots of rain had hit them, as they made their way gingerly along the path. In the distance, they could just about make out the cavern through the low cloud.
As they eased their way through the forest, the rain by now was heavy and unrelenting. A mist had appeared out of nowhere which partly hid the entrance, making them narrow their eyes, as they struggled to see more than a few feet ahead of them. Their progress was slow and as they became wetter, a deep frustration grew. Underneath their feet it became muddier, making their movement more hesitant. Merlin silently fumed wishing he had the power to control the weather. By the time they had made it to the cavern, even now they could sense the light of the day becoming darker. Then out of nowhere they were attacked by the Wyverns.
Lancelot quickly aimed his sword at one of them as they flew at them from an acute angle. Galahad joined him and managed to catch one of them on their rear. It made them even more aggressive and as they flew in low to attack the Knights, Merlin decided to take over.
He pushed the Knights aside and then faced the wyviens astride. Thrusting his arm up his voice erupted made mightier by the echo it had from the cave, “s’enthend apakhorein nun epello!” As the words came tumbling out, the dragons dispersed, though not before giving Merlin a roar of insolence, for his trouble. Merlin kept his eye on them until they had flown off disappearing into the mist. When Merlin came too he noticed Galahad watching him with an amazed expression on his face.
“That was mightily impressive,” the young Knight exclaimed,
“Thanks,” Merlin shrugged, “At least I have some uses!”
“Let’s get going before the next lot arrive,” Lancelot encouraged, checking the sky.
“Yes, I agree. We don’t know how long this journey will take either,” Merlin cautioned.
The Knights followed Merlin down into the cave. They hadn’t walked far before the path had already narrowed, so they were forced to follow single file. As they emerged deeper the path began to wind in on itself, causing Merlin to slow down. The further they went into the cave, the harder it became to breath normally, as the air disappeared. Merlin decided taking short breaths would be preferable.
As the path became darker, he used his powers to lighten the path before them. He could hear over his shoulder the intake of amazement from the following Knights. It gave him a real feeling of pleasure at being able to use his skills in such an open and helpful way. It was once more, the proof of how magic could be used for good. As he continued to lead he kept a reasonable pace, having adjusted to the changes in the lack of air. He also focussed his concentration, determined to stay a step ahead of anything which may occur.
The more he thought about it now, he realised the whole trip was far more risky than he had at first anticipated. He remembered the warning Gaius had given him the night before he left to expect the unexpected. Who knew what was down in the depth of the cave and whether they could come across it? For the first time he felt a bit of tension as he scanned the horizon and they travelled ever deeper towards the depths. He wondered what was going through the two Knight’s minds, where they as nervous as he suddenly felt?
He looked back briefly Galahad was behind him, looking warily about him. Merlin suspected Lancelot would be the same. He decided to focus on the task, determined to wipe out the misgivings he was currently feeling. They suddenly came to a fork in the path which brightened his manner, especially as he could sense light up ahead. While common sense, told him he should question the light, for some reason something calmed him.
“Look!” Merlin pointed in front of him, as the Knights stopped.
“Why is it suddenly light?” Lancelot asked, suspiciously.
“That was what I was wondering,” Galahad agreed, “Do you want me to investigate it?”
“I will go,” Merlin said, determined to reassure them. “I know it seems strange but for some reason I feel there is nothing to fear,”
“Is it something magical?” Lancelot asked, eyeing Merlin closely.
“It could be I suppose. I get a sixth sense when there is magic in the air, but I just get a feeling it’s nothing to worry about,” Merlin explained, “You stay here, I’ll call for you if I need you,”
“Okay, remember we are here,” Lancelot cautioned, nodding at Merlin.
“Thanks,” Merlin smiled.
He pushed further down the path towards where the light was at its strongest. The closer he came to it, the more he felt suddenly relaxed as if something was pulling him towards it. But there was nothing bad in what he was feeling, any negative thought was now far from his mind. He suddenly realised the Knights should be with him and he called to them.
Merlin waited for them to join him after reassuring them further they continued on their way. Presently they came to an opening and beyond it lay a door. Merlin watched the Knight’s reaction closely.
“We need to be careful, who knows what’s beyond it,” Lancelot said,
“I still don’t think it’s anything bad. Let me go first, I have my magic after all,” Merlin cautioned,
The Knights agreed and after a minute of composing himself Merlin made himself ready. As Merlin walked towards the door, an intense feeling caught hold of him, making it instantly easier to breath. He knew straight away whatever was beyond the door was a good thing, he realised he was among friends.
As Merlin walked through the opening the first thing which took him by surprise was just how brighter everything became. He looked around, they were standing in a huge room ahead of them was a long trestle table with a couple of chairs neatly pushed underneath it. Behind that was a chest, stacked with books and bottles of what looked like potions. A big crystal stood in the centre which every now and then caught Merlin’s eyes. He tried to ignore it anxious to not connect with it remembering old experiences. All along the wall, were cobwebs, a musty smell came from somewhere within.
The room was airy and suddenly the coolness of the day disappeared and Merlin felt as if it was the middle of spring. He stood in the centre of the room taking everything around in. It had somehow a sense of history about it and Merlin felt it had played a key part in life before his time.
“Everything is fine, follow me in,” he called to the Knights. He watched as first Galahad and then Lancelot came through the door. They both joined Merlin in the middle of the room looking around suspiciously.
“Why are you so reassured?” Lancelot asked, then sudden a voice boomed from behind them.
“Ah Emrys, we meet at last,”
Merlin looked around and saw an old man, carrying a book come in through the door. He was small, wearing an old woollen tunic which reached the floor, his beard grey but a welcoming smile was on his face.
“You are Nameon?” Merlin smiled, recognising a kindred spirit.
“I am indeed, Emrys. I am so happy to have at last met your acquaintance. These are your friends, I take it?”
“Yes, this is Lancelot and Galahad,”
The two Knights nodded at the old sorcerer, looking tense and unsure.
“Aww, the great Lancelot, special things are expected of you.” The old man smiled, “As for you Galahad, I sense a true adventurer inside of you,”
Galahad looked at Merlin before answering, “I have always loved the world outside,”
“Indeed, something we should never take for granted.”
“You were expecting me?” Merlin suggested, testing the theory he’d heard before.
“Yes, our meeting has been foretold as I am sure you are aware. There are certain things which have come to pass, now I must pass on certain information to you. I have a gift, something you need to promise to take good care of,”
“Of course, what is it?” Merlin asked, an excitement taking hold of him.
Merlin watched, as the old man struggled and reached inside a bag. He brought out a book, old and dusty and put it on the table. Merlin recognised the sign of the Old Religion on the cover. He looked over at Nameon, the old man nodded for Merlin to take a look at it.
As he went over to the book and opened it, he could feel a faint sense of power coursing through his hand, as he touched the page.
“I just felt something,” Merlin said, looking up at the old sorcerer.
“The book I am giving you, is one of the oldest books in existence Emrys. It holds power that goes back to the Ancient Kings, the world before the majority of the Dragons had died out.”
Merlin let the words sink in, as he turned over the page an image crept into his mind and he saw his old friend on one of the pages.
“Kilgharrah!” he cried out, for a second he felt as if the image had come to life, as the old Dragon looked at him.
“I haven’t seen Kilgharrah for a couple of years, he is dead, isn’t he?” Merlin asked, emotion in his voice.
The old Sorcerer nodded sadly. “Anything which is contained inside that book is indeed dead. But their spirits are contained inside it, you will sense their presence whenever you open it,”
“Then Aithusa is the last Dragon in the world now,” Merlin remarked, feeling suddenly shocked.
“That is indeed the case. Now I am sure you are wanting to know how to help her?”
“I know I have to go to the Alter of Mount Devla and recite a spell,” Merlin said,
“It’s not that simple I am afraid. The secrets contained in this book are massively important. When the Dragon Lords of old composed this book, they took with them much of what they knew. You will notice spells inside this book, which are incomplete but in fact the answers are already around,”
Merlin thought for a second, “So, how will I know what is the right spell?”
“Dragon Lord magic comes from somewhere deep inside you Emrys. It is contained inside your personality and your courage. It will ask things of you which will both dismay and amaze you. Dragons are creatures of wonder and their true power can only be found through your own being,”
Merlin nodded, realising that today was just the start of his quest for helping Aithusa.
“Then I must start discovering and researching this book, I take it I will know when the feeling is right,”
“You will, of that I can assure you. You must believe in your own morality and sense of courage. When the spell is found you can return here and go to the Alter of Mount Devla, you must do so alone with Aithusa. You must reassure her, as she will sense things she has never come across before. But in doing so, it will bring you closer to her then you have ever been before,”
“What happens if I don’t find the right one?” Merlin asked, suddenly afraid of what he was going to be told.
“Then Aithusa will forever be lost to you. But you must not doubt yourself in this moment. You alone, have the power and ability to reverse the wrongs done to our mighty breed,”
Merlin nodded, feeling tired and disorientated. It was madness to think helping Aithusa would be straight-forward, he realised now. Everything he had read in the book his father had once owned should have told him that. As he stared at the old book on the table, he realised it could prove to be one of this toughest challenges yet.
“There is one more thing that I have for you Emrys,” Nameon said,
Merlin went over to him, his eyes full of wonder. “What is that?”
“They call it a path-finder. When you return to Mount Devla you must bring this with you. It will help you find the secret path which will take you to the Alter. The mountain has many misleading trails, this will be your main ally on your perilous journey back to the land of the Dragons. You, Aithusa and the path-finder will be all you need to complete the task.”
Lancelot had been listening to the conversation with unease. Merlin could sense his friends worry and he looked at him, he hoped with a look of reassurance.
“Lancelot, I can see this leaves you worried,” Nameon said, going over to the Knight. “I think one of your lasting and most important qualities is knowing when to give Emrys your trust. I know you are a good friend, but you must believe when I say it cannot be done between you. Emrys must enter his own realm to find the true power of his ability, he will need every ounce of it in his quest. Promise me, that you will allow him that opportunity,”
After a brief second, Lancelot looked at Nameon and nodded, “I promise, even though it will be difficult,”
“You are a true friend, but sometimes we must act alone to realise what we are truly capable off,” Nameon replied,
“I want to thank you, for what you have told me,” Merlin replied, “I will endeavour to find the spell and return here, when I have found the answer,”
“I am glad to have been off service to you Emrys and to have at last met you. You will become an even greater man the world of magic will be indebted to you, for centuries ahead. I am only happy to have been of use to you. Go with my blessing,” Nameon said, holding his hand up and blessing the three of them.
“Will we meet anymore Wyverns on our way out?” Galahad asked,
Nameon smiled at the young Knight, “No, rest assured your path will be clear,”
“The Wyverns are the guardians of the Alter’s secret?” Merlin said, smiling.
“Indeed, they are, but they can be challenged by those with magic. I would never entirely trust one,” Nameon warned,
“Will you be here when I come back?” Merlin asked,
“No, my place is in the otherworld now that I have passed on what I must. But I dare say you will come across my spirit here. Bless me on my way, when you do,”
Merlin shook the old man’s hand. “I certainly will, I wish you peace on the journey to the other world,”
Within seconds the old sorcerer had disappeared out of the room, with Lancelot and Galahad looking around them, in surprise. Merlin regarded his companions.
“You do realise he was centuries old,” Merlin said, with a smile.
“He looked no older than some of the old men in the Tavern,” Lancelot answered.
Merlin picked up the book and put the path-finder in his bag. “Come on, we need to make tracks back home,”
Merlin walked out giving the place a last look, sensing the Knights following him he made for the passage, lighting the path ahead. It took an hour to reach the early darkness of the evening. At least, the rain was no longer falling and Merlin looked around with a sense of wonder of the magical place.
Having made it back to their base and having eaten, Merlin sat with Lancelot each lost in their own secret thoughts. Lancelot’s voice eventually broke the silence.
“What do you think of this quest?” he asked, putting another log on the fire.
“Well, it won’t be easy for sure and I will be tested. But that has always been the case with my magic. I am only glad I can share it with my friends now,”
“It will be tough letting you face it alone,”
“I won’t be alone, I will have Aithusa and the spirit of my father. I felt him there, its only now I realised what that feeling was in the cavern. He had been there before and I was retracing his footsteps,”
Lancelot smiled, “I am glad you felt that,”
“I am sorry about Kilgharrah. I know you hadn’t mentioned him for a while, but its sad to think he is no longer with us,” Lancelot said,
“I have suspected it for months. I have tried to call him but he never came. That told me everything I needed to know. But here, he does not feel too far away. There was a time when this Kingdom was full of Dragons, they roamed far and wide. But than man came and put them to the sword, the world was never quite the same again. Helping Aithusa could at least put some of that right,”
“I know you will find a way,”
“I hope you are right.” Merlin said, suddenly feeling exhausted. As the night arrived spreading its darkness around them, he was soon fast asleep. It was only when he was shaken awake, he realised the morning had come. After a brief breakfast, the three of them were back on the horses and travelling back to Camelot the wind on their backs.
Merlin sensed the journey had made an impact on both of his fellow travellers. Both of them talked about their meeting with Nameon and what lay ahead for Merlin. For his part, Merlin was by now feeling refreshed and ready for the challenges which lay ahead. Not least telling Arthur all the news. He looked up, seeing the white towers in the distance, he hadn’t realised just how much he’d missed Camelot until now.
As they entered the court yard, the Knights waved at the party.
“Hey Merlin, we missed you. In fact, all of you!” Gwaine shouted,
“That’s nice to know, missed you all as well,” Merlin jumped off his horse, running up the steps wanting to be back in his quarters. In the end, he decided to look in on Arthur. After knocking on the door, he entered the room, to be greeted by Arthur holding a glass in his hand.
“I imagine you can do with some refreshment?” the King asked,
“Yes please. How is everything, no mini invasions or battles while I’ve been gone?” Merlin said, with a smirk.
“You will be pleased to know peace has broken out on our borders. No more reports of any army on the move. Everything is just how we want it,”
“Good to know,”
“So, tell me, how did you get on. Did you get to meet this sorcerer?”
“Nameon? I certainly did, he gave me these,” Merlin reached into his bag and showed him the book and path-finder.
Arthur picked up the path-finder, “I haven’t seen one of these in years,”
Merlin filled him in with all the details, including the feelings of him sensing his father at the cavern. He watched, as Arthur took it all in.
“What do you feel about going on your own?” he asked, “I can’t say I’m keen on it,”
“It was just like when you had to go to the Perilous Lands on that quest,” Merlin pointed out.
“And we know what happened there!” Arthur replied,
Merlin blushed, “Yes, but I had to, the bracelet given to you by Morgana was a magical one, it would have killed you in the end,”
“As this quest might kill you,” Arthur answered. “Is this really going to be worth it Merlin?”
“It’s important to me, also I feel I have to make it up to Aithusa.”
“Where is the dragon anyway, any further reports?” Arthur asked, sitting back.
“The Druids contacted me before I left, they said Aithusa was hanging around them. I need to do a lot more research before I do it anyway,”
“You must be tired, go and get some rest. When are you going to Nemeth to look at the magic school,”
“Soon, I expect. I need to have a meeting with Gilli about it. I will let you know,”
“I am glad you are back Merlin, its been way too quiet without you,” Arthur smiled,
“You look a bit tired,” Merlin remarked, noticing the rings around his eyes.
“Lachlan has very big lungs especially early in the morning!” the King grimaced. “Maybe one day you’ll experience it yourself Merlin,”
Merlin grimaced, “I am in no hurry on that one, I will leave that to you and Gwen,”
Merlin skipped out of the room, making for his apartment. As he opened the door the bed lay there enticing him. He thought for a second he should do some research. But eventually he gave in to his tiredness and within minutes he was fast asleep.
Chapter 4: An Afternoon in the Country
After some busy weeks of stressful work, Arthur decides to spend an afternoon away with Guinevere. He is conscious that everyone has their own pressures to deal with and that sometimes, there is not enough opportunity to enjoy the simple things. As Leon accompanies them, they all reflect upon how much progress in Camelot has already been made and embrace the challenges which they still face. As Arthur reflects his father's views on not trusting people, he realises how different he and his father are.
It had been a demanding few weeks for Arthur. After a period of brief calm, initial reports about bandit attacks on Camelot’s borders had been concerning him. In the end, he had sent some of his Knights to investigate, after a couple of tense days the problems had once again disappeared. It had forced the King to concede how fragile the peace still was. Despite wanting to arrange a meeting between the various factions in Albion, invariably something always appeared to get in the way. Some petty squabble inside someone’s Kingdom, a matter of sudden crisis somewhere else.
It had started to frustrate Arthur, as he was anxious to not delay the momentum which had been building up to then. But in the end, he’d been forced to take a step back. He was awaiting a report from Leon that morning, as he waited he tapped the desk and his mind turned to his son Lachlan.
The boy had certainly transformed his life, making him even keener to change things for the better. He hadn’t appreciated just how much having a child would change even the most of unimportant events, never mind the bigger ones. Every little challenge would seize hold of his mind, reminding him of the consequences that would occur, if they were not put right or dealt with properly. He knew eventually he would hand over his Kingdom to Lachlan and he was determined to give his son the best possible chance, to make it a success.
His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door he jumped to attention, knowing this could be an important meeting.
“Come in,” he shouted, looking up as the door opened, “I’m glad you made it back safely Leon,”
“Thank you, sire,” Leon replied, sitting down opposite Arthur.
“So, what happened?”
“When we arrived at Culenthaim there was a lot of unrest initially. We met the village’s elder a man called Gadnor. He had reported several nights of raids on the village.”
“Do we know who was responsible?” Arthur asked, frowning.
“To begin with there were a couple of possibilites. But in the end when we mounted a patrol, we found a hideout in the adjoining forest. We kept a watch on the movements of the outlaws and eventually they attempted to attack the village once again,”
“Did you manage to make some arrests?”
“Yes, they have been taken to Daleton and have been dealt with,” Leon said, “They won’t be attacking the village again for a while,”
“That is good work Leon. You said there were two explanations. What was the other one?”
Arthur noticed straight away, that Leon shifted uncomfortably in his seat and knew already what was coming.
“Speak freely, Leon,”
“In the little villages out on the edges of the Kingdom, there is still a suspicion about those with magic,” Leon began, “I don’t know what we can do to reassure those people. The first blame was being put on the Druids though luckily we apprehended the real culprits.”
“Thank you for your honesty Leon,” Arthur smiled, “We knew when we went down this path, it wouldn’t all be straight-forward. Maybe this is something that Merlin can help us with in some way. He too came from a small village like Culenthaim, I’ll speak with him,”
“That’s a good idea sire,” Leon replied, getting up and making his way to the door.
“Leon, I am taking Guinevere out this afternoon in the country. Maybe you could accompany us?” Arthur suggested,
“Of course sire, it would be an honour,” Leon replied,
“I’ll see you this afternoon,”
Arthur watched the door closed and frowned at what Leon had told him. It was true that he knew there would be problems with the course they had taken. But it bothered him that some of the more isolated places, were still quite fearful of magic. The location of the villages concerned highlighted the problems they faced. Arthur knew, they needed to find a way to bring the villages into line with Camelot itself.
He knew through experience that some of the more distant places had their superstitions and old views on magic. The further away they were, the harder they were to control. Merlin had suggested putting the Druids into contact with some of the villages. But at times, there was a reluctance, even now, to accept their help. Arthur considered visiting Mervyn, he was adamant he couldn’t put every magical problem in the lap of Merlin. He had enough to think about. All in all, there was much to ponder and for a moment Arthur considered calling the afternoon off. But then, he changed his mind. He knew a day out would do Guinevere some good, she had a lot on her plate at the moment, Arthur realised they were all under intense pressure.
He thought about her for a moment, he had an awful job persuading her to leave their son behind, for an afternoon. She was completely devoted to him and went much further, than most noble women did in looking after their children. But in the end, he had worn her down and reassured her that Alice and Hunith, were only too happy to have Lachlan for an afternoon. He grinned at the thought of Merlin walking into the prospect of hearing Lachlan bursting his ear-drums with his crying. Why should Arthur be the only one to suffer?
He decided to finish his report and then make an early start before his wife, changed her mind again. Having got to the end and checked with Lancelot how the Knights were getting on, he wandered over to the kitchens. As he opened the door, he could hear Audrey screaming her orders at her staff. As he made a grab for the basket, her shrill voice stopped him in her tracks.
“What do you think you’re doing with that basket!” she began yelling, then realised who it was and her manner changed entirely.
“I am sorry your highness, I thought it was-“
“Merlin?” Arthur finished the question, with a grin. It was well known how the cook berated his friend on his visits into the kitchen. Some of them were stories of legend around the place.
“Yes, I thought it might be,” she laughed, “I hope it meets your standards,”
“I am sure it will Audrey and once again thanks for preparing at such short notice,”
“It’s my pleasure, your highness,” Audrey did an awkward curtsy, before stiffly walking away. Arthur watched her leave with relief.
He was about to make for his quarters when he saw Leon who began walking over.
“Your wife is waiting outside for you,” the Knight informed him.
“Could you take this out, I will be with you in a second,” Arthur handed over the basket and ran for his boots. As he sped around the corner, he almost knocked Merlin off his feet. Somehow his sorcerer just about managed to avoid him.
“Why in such a hurry?” Merlin asked, steadying the King with his hand.
“Sorry, I’m holding up Guinevere for our afternoon out,”
“Aww, the picnic of course, I was amazed you managed to get her away from Lachlan,” Merlin said, with a grin.
“It was the work of a moment, I have to admit,” Arthur replied, “Luckily I have heard your mother and Alice is looking after him,” He pulled his boots on quickly.
“But I’m seeing my mother,” Merlin grumbled,
“It looks like Uncle Merlin, can entertain him as well. Unless you would prefer to accompany my wife and I on a picnic,”
“What? And spend another three hours on a horse, no thanks I will risk it with your noisy son instead,”
“I was hoping you’d say that. Have a good time,” Arthur grinned, as he dashed out of the door.
Guinevere was already sitting on the horse and waiting patiently, along with Leon behind her.
“You are holding us up, Arthur,” she said, “Didn’t I tell you Leon, how his time keeping is getting worse than Merlin’s now?”
Leon laughed, easing his horse forward.
“Huh, I can still beat him on most days,” Arthur said, trotting alongside his wife.
“It was a nice idea and you’ve picked a good day for it anyway,” Guinevere smiled,
Arthur suddenly felt relaxed and happy he knew this would be a great chance to actually get some time together. The day to day business at Camelot hardly allowed them quality time. They had each learnt to get on with it for now. But Arthur knew moments like, needed to be grasped. He knew there would be little time later on, once all the meetings began, between all the different Kingdoms.
After an hour’s riding, they came to a beautiful piece of forest. It had a waterfall running down one side, with wild flowers showing off their finery elsewhere. Arthur spotted a Bluebell and picked it quickly handing it too his wife.
“Oh Arthur, you are so sweet,” she laughed, “You remember how much I love these,”
“I know I’m not one of the last romantics,” he admitted, “but I do remember some things,”
“Though still not my Birthday!” she smiled,
“I don’t have a talent for remembering Birthdays. I can barely remember my own,”
“But luckily I can remember it,” Gwen said,
“It must be a lot to remember sire, especially now Merlin is not always around,” Leon pointed out,
“I am beginning to regret I asked you to come with us now Leon,” Arthur grumbled, winking at his wife.
“Well, I am glad as we will never eat all this food, sit down Leon and give us a hand,” Guinevere urged,
Before long all three were tucking into the picnic. The sun by now was hot and high in the sky, making them all feel sleepy.
“So, tell me about Merlin,” Guinevere said, “I never had the chance to ask him how he got on,”
“He reached Prydwen in good time, they saw the old sorcerer, Merlin said something about him being centuries old,” Arthur said, a making a face, “Imagine that!”
“I find it hard too. What did he tell Merlin?”
“That he has to work out this spell from a book he was given. I think he said some of the Dragon Lords didn’t finish the spells off, but the answers lay around him,” Arthur explained, still not quite understanding the explanation Merlin had given him.
“What do you mean around him?” Guinevere asked, as puzzled as Arthur,
“I wonder if he means around the area maybe,” Leon suggested, “I remember Lancelot saying something about how it was senses magic which lay around a certain place,”
“Oh, so it’s not something he’s going to do right away?” Guinevere said, “Mithian will be relieved. She’s looking forward to seeing him soon,”
“Oh yes, the jaunt into Nemeth,” Arthur sniggered,
“It’s hardly a jaunt Arthur. There’s a serious reason for them going there, the magic school,” Guinevere pointed out,
“I don’t imagine it’s only business though!” Leon grinned, “He seems rather smitten with Mithian,”
“She with him too, she never stops asking me questions about him. We need to get them together Arthur,” Guinevere suggested,
“Steady on Guinevere. We don’t know if King Rodor hasn’t got plans for her already,” Arthur warned,
“It’s even more reason to get them together. Camelot needs its friends around it at this time. Merlin and Mithian together would establish that union,” Guinevere suggested,
“I suppose it would, but I’m not sure Merlin is in a rush to marry anyone,” Arthur cautioned, “He’s always saying he has too much to do,”
“Surely, we could take some of the work from him,” Guinevere replied, shading her eyes from the sun. “He too, needs a break from time to time,”
“I’ve already tried that and it’s not an easy thing to do,”
“I will go and look around the place just in case,” Leon said, “I’m sure you want some time alone,”
“Thank you, Leon,” Arthur smiled, putting his hand around Guinevere’s shoulder.
“I am happy you persuaded me to do this. It’s been a long time,” Guinevere admitted.
“It’s not easy finding too much time together is it?” Arthur admitted, “Though I did warn you before you became my wife and the Queen,”
“I remember. But I wouldn’t miss it for the world, now that everything is moving forward. You and Merlin have done a wonderful job so far, let’s hope before long Albion becomes a reality.”
“You know, there was something I really wanted to talk to you about. But with the way everything has been, I never found the right moment.”
“I hope nothing is wrong?” Guinevere asked, looking concerned.
“You don’t have to worry.” Arthur smiled, “I am conscious though that there is a lot of pressure on all of us, at the moment. Merlin has work piling up. I know you have more than you should, considering you have Lachlan to look after as well,”
“I manage,” Guinevere assured him.
“I know you do, you do a very good job all round. But now that Hunith has arrived, she has mentioned that she would like to be more involved,” Arthur explained,
“Yes, she was hinting that the other day. I wasn’t sure if she was being serious or not. I think when she was in Ealdor, people went to her with any problems. It must seem pretty quiet for her now,” Guinevere reasoned. “Especially with Merlin rushing all over the place,”
“I did wonder if you could hand some of your duties over to her, to help her feel more involved.” Arthur suggested,
“I will see what I can find, I am sure there is something more we can give her to do. Once the school is up and running, I’m sure she could help-out with the children, she is so good with them. Lachlan already has a bond with her,”
“Excellent idea, I’ll suggest that to Merlin,”
“He looks a lot happier having Hunith around. He was worrying about her more than he let on,” Guinevere considered.
“That’s Merlin, he is becoming more open, but every now and then I remember about him being too good, at keeping secrets,”
“It’s a hard habit to break Arthur. Look at you, you are better at opening up than what you used to be,” Guinevere smiled, “I think having Gilli around has helped Merlin too,”
“Is there any other improvements I have made?” Arthur grinned,
“I dare say there is, but I have to adjudge whether it goes to your head or not though,” Guinevere laughed.
“Thank you Guinevere,” Arthur replied, “I can only assume you’ve been speaking to Merlin then!”
“Not at all,” Guinevere assured him with a sideways glance. She grabbed hold of his hand. “I’m so glad you persuaded me to come today. It’s nice to get away from Camelot, once in a while,”
“So, maybe that’s an improvement for you to make?” Arthur asked,
“That is probably a fair suggestion. We can all improve after all. It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come in a short space of time,”
“It certainly is, sometimes you get so hung up on running the Kingdom you forget about the simpler things. Speaking of which, I have something for you,” Arthur announced.
“What is it?” Guinevere asked, curious.
“This belonged to my mother she had it in her family’s possession for generations. But I think it’s time that you had it,” Arthur said, handing her a golden ring. “You have proved to be a true partner in this venture, as well as a loving wife. I can’t think of anyone who I’d rather give this too,”
“Oh Arthur, it’s beautiful,” Guinevere replied, emotion on her face. “Are you sure?”
“I have never been surer of anything. In giving this to you, I hope you realise how much you mean to me. I simply could not be the man I am without you being there with me,”
“We are a team, the way it should be Arthur. I will treasure this, thank you,” They kissed.
Arthur smiled, as she fitted it onto her finger, feeling completely satisfied and happy. As the sun continued to beat down, he reflected that they had indeed come far. The Kingdom was truly starting to turn into one he was proud to front. It was true there was still much to do, but with Guinevere and Merlin by his side he felt there was nothing he could not achieve. Right now, Camelot was in a good place and though challenges remained he was determined to continue to be bold and brave.
“All is well, sire,” Leon remarked,
“Thank you Leon,” Arthur replied, “I suppose we should make our way back to Camelot now,” He couldn’t help but notice how happy Guinevere was now looking.
“Yes, I think we better had,” Guinevere agreed, “Before we know it, the evening will be here,”
“At least we’ve had today,” Arthur smiled,
“You chose this day well, sire,” Leon agreed,
“Yes, not often I have the chance to spend my afternoon with two such handsome men,” Guinevere grinned,
Arthur laughed, “I think I can speak for Leon when I agree with that sentence!”
They all laughed. The conversation riding back to Camelot was light-hearted and proof that only people who had known each other for as long as they all had, could be so comfortable and have utter trust in one another.
As Arthur reflected once more, he was lucky to have surrounded himself with such people. His father would have never hesitated to make the point that trusting people was a fault of his son’s. But Arthur now knew this to be wrong, for while Uther may have been able to rule in isolation this was not Arthur’s way. His Kingdom’s strength would come from the good people who surrounded him and put their own trust in him and one another. Arthur remembered what Guinevere had said that very afternoon about being a team, he knew this was true right through Camelot now. For it was only by people coming and working together that problems and understandings could be achieved.
Arthur was aware challenges lay ahead for all of them, but he knew the foundations had now been set. If any of them failed, it would not be for the lack of trying. He would continue to lead by example and bringing out the best of those around him. Maybe then Camelot would finally become the Kingdom he truly wanted it to be.
Chapter 5: The Apprentice
This chapter concerns two young children whose magical abilities are causing challenges. Merlin and Gilli work together with Alice to try and understand their problems and come up with a solution. As Merlin discusses it with Arthur, it makes the King think about his former sister and Merlin tells him something he knew nothing about.
Merlin had been on a brief walk, a problem in a neighbouring village had been unsettling him. But try as he might, he couldn’t make his mind up over what to do about it. The girl concerned was very young and her magic had a power which had surprised Merlin. It usually took years, for a person’s power to fully develop but hers seemed already at an advanced stage. Her parents were at a loss as to what to do. The Magic School having not quite opened, Merlin realised she was in limbo. He was already aware at the unease with which some of the Villagers were with the girl. It was hardly a surprise, considering the power she had already unintentionally displayed. When magic was this strong, it would alarm non-magical people, as it happened so suddenly. The girl disturbingly reminded Merlin of a young Morgana. She was scared and isolated, not understanding what was happening to her. He understood only too well, how alarming it was for her. He thought in the end, a visit to the Druids might be the best possible solution, or at least to get her out of the village, which by now was on edge.
He sighed, wondering how many other people had a similar problem. It was very hard in certain villages as some people still were not fully on board, with Arthur’s decision to reverse magic. He had always realised that it would cause issues and resentments in certain communities. He always tried to sympathize with those people, knowing full well some had suffered undeservingly. But he knew they had to change the mistaken perception, that magic could not be controlled. Otherwise their plans would be thwarted before they could even start. In his short time as Arthur’s main Magic representative, he had already learnt two cases are rarely the same. It was working out how to proceed with each situation that was the biggest challenge. He was starting to accept the case of Katia could be his biggest headache yet. He sighed, knowing rushing into any decision would be rash. As he sat and pondered a voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Trying to catch a moment alone?”
Merlin jumped up, realising that Gilli had joined him out of nowhere, as he came over smiling, Merlin realised he wasn’t alone.
“Sorry Gilli, I was miles away. How were the Druids?” he asked,
“Very interesting as ever, more cases being identified. Mervyn sends his good wishes,”
Merlin looked at Gilli’s companion, a small dark haired boy.
“Oh meet Mordred,” Gilli said,
“Hello Mordred, how are you?” Merlin asked, looking at him for the first time. The boy was in a long, green cloak and had the bluest eyes that he’d ever seen. The boy didn’t speak, just a slight nod Merlin’s way.
“Mordred, why don’t you go and see if you can find those flowers? Gilli suggested,
Merlin watched as the boy solemnly nodded and then sloped off with heavy feet. Merlin looked at Gilli. “What do they know about him?” he asked,
“They know very little, he has obviously suffered a trauma of some kind. But he was always a loner after he arrived in the camp one night. He never mixed with the other children and they cannot get him to open up. I thought maybe Alice could have a look at him, she worked wonders with the other Druid I brought back last time,” Gilli said, quietly. “His magic is very strong though, he can sense weather changes in particular. In fact, when we were walking over, he said a storm would occur a day before it arrived! That is why I thought going through the forest might cheer him up a bit,”
“I see, well I am sure Alice will look him over. I’ve heard before about children who can sense weather changes. It is quite a rare gift I gather,”
“Can you, if you don’t mind me asking?” Gilli asked,
“I can sense a certain change in atmosphere but it tends to be at the time, certainly not a day in advance. That is incredible. I would mention that to Alice she may know more,” Merlin suggested.
“They don’t even know who his parents are?” Merlin asked, watching the boy from a distance.
“He arrived out of the blue one night. An old man brought him, claimed to find him wandering about on his own.” Gilli explained,
“That is very sad, let’s hope Alice can find a way to get through to him. I will walk back with you both, I have wasted enough time here,” Merlin said, realising he had still not reached any conclusion even now.
“Did you see the girl Katia?” Gilli asked,
“I did indeed. To be honest, I don’t really know what to do about her. Her magic is so strong, but it is frightening her and the townspeople. I think for her sake she needs to be taken out of the situation. Whether that means the Druids or even with us in some way
I’m not sure,”
“I wonder if maybe bringing her to see Alice, you never know she and Mordred could strike up a friendship. They are both roughly the same age,” Gilli said, “Children seem to mix better with other children,”
“I thought you said, Mordred didn’t mix with the other children?” Merlin asked,
“There were a lot of children there who had known each other for years. It’s hard for someone new coming in and mixing straight away. But two children together, that maybe easier for him to do,”
“Let’s speak with Alice first, see what she thinks.” Merlin said, buttoning his jacket up.
“It is going to rain,” Mordred said suddenly.
Merlin looked at the sky, there were no rain clouds present just more of a chill prominent in the atmosphere. But something about how the boy spoke made Merlin take him seriously. He regarded Gilli, who he could tell was thinking the same.
“Why don’t we run back to Camelot?” Gilli suggested, “Ready Mordred?”
The three of them rushed back and within minutes a downpour had thrown itself, all over them soon they were splashing their way through deep puddles. Merlin looked ahead as he noticed other people rushing to get away from the rain. Merlin had never seen a shower come so quickly or unexpectedly to this extent before. He was beginning to appreciate that Gilli could be right about Mordred after all. Within minutes they were safely in the dry inside the castle.
The next day Merlin called on Alice, knowing by now she would have checked Mordred over. He had thought about Gilli’s suggestion about Katia and had decided he would mention it to Alice. As he approached Gaius and Alice’s apartment, the door opened. Gaius was going out with Mordred accompanying him.
“Hello Gaius, Mordred. Where are you going?” Merlin asked,
“We are going to collect some herbs for the potions. Mordred was helping me mix some earlier on,” the old man explained,
“It’s good to see get some extra help. I would wrap up and don’t wonder far, the rain clouds are gathering,” Merlin said,
“It won’t rain for another two hours Emrys!” Mordred replied, looking up at Merlin.
Merlin and Gaius exchanged glances. Merlin was stunned that Mordred had used his other name.
“That is all right then. Have a good morning,” Merlin smiled.
Merlin watched them go, once more amazed by the assurance on what the young boy had said. He knocked on the door, suddenly keen to get some opinion from Alice.
Merlin opened the door. Alice was already making up some potions. She smiled as Merlin made his way over. He looked at the ingredients on the work bench surprised by its outright variety.
“What are you working on?” He asked, unable to resist asking the question.
“Oh, it’s a little potion, to help with joint pain. Gaius has been a willing test case for me. It has worked with some of his pain, but I don’t think I have the overall effect right yet. It’s just trial and error until I get it right.” She explained, “I’m guessing you have come about the boy?”
“I did wonder what your ideas on him where?” Merlin admitted,
“I think the Druids are right, there has been some trauma in his life, hard to say what as he doesn’t willingly open up. I think we need to gain his trust more, which is why I suggested Gaius taking him out again.”
“Gilli said yesterday about his sense of awareness with the weather changes. I witnessed it myself yesterday. There was no hint of rain at that stage, it came out of nowhere,”
“Some magical people can diagnose a change in the weather, I’ve heard that before. Having said that, the way he sensed it yesterday has me wondering even more about his actual powers.”
“In what way?” Merlin asked, suddenly fascinated.
“People who have the power in atmospheric changes tend to have a special type of magic. Their power mainly comes from that, especially the outside influences. It is why he is so home in the forest, he can sense danger a long time before it happens. But I detected another type of power from him yesterday. I don’t think he realised that I was there, but he was able to move objects and turn over pages on books, without touching them.”
Merlin took a breath in, “That is serious magic then, interesting. What do you think we are best doing?”
“Nothing for now. Gaius and I can take him in for a week or two I will get a better look at him. Then maybe we can persuade him to open up a bit more. You could play a part, he needs to mix with different people, from time to time,”
“I’m sure I can find something for him to do,” Merlin agreed, “Alice, did Gilli mention this girl Katia?”
“Yes, he did,” Alice replied, “I said I would see her this afternoon.”
“Great, oh did Gilli mention the idea of introducing Katia to Mordred? They both appear to be the same age,”
Alice paused for a second, Merlin could see she was considering the idea.
“We could I suppose. There is no way of telling whether they would get on or not, also how their magic would counteract each other. On the other hand, it could work. Leave it with me and we will see,”
“Thanks Alice, I’m grateful for everything you have done,”
“It’s been so nice being back here and contributing,” she smiled, “Like the old days,”
“Speaking of which, I had better report to Arthur. Thanks once again,”
As Merlin considered the conversation he had just had with Alice, he wondered how to broker the subject with Arthur. Having one child with magical problems was one thing, but two of them at the same time, he knew Alice had a point, it could all backfire on them. He decided honesty was the best policy here. He knocked on the door, there was a pause before Arthur replied.
“Are you busy?” Merlin asked, tipping his head around the door.
Arthur’s desk was covered in papers thrown on every part of the table, say nothing of the floor. Merlin made a face at the mess.
“Are you sure you don’t still need me, to keep you in order?” Merlin asked, starting to tidy up.
“What are you doing Merlin?” Arthur asked, his voice a study of animated outrage. “It may look like a mess to you, but to me it’s perfectly straight-forward.”
“Ah, I see,” Merlin replied, folding his arms his manner not convinced.
“I’m glad you are here, a report has just come in I need you to see,” Arthur said, shoving various pieces of paper around his desk.
Merlin narrowed his eyes watching the King fruitlessly searching for the report, then noticed a parchment on the floor,
“It’s here somewhere,” Arthur said, still searching aimlessly.
“Maybe on the floor?” Merlin pointed out.
“What?” Arthur said,
“There is something by your foot?” Merlin repeated,
Arthur picked it up, “There we go,” he said, giving it too Merlin. “Please sit-down Merlin and look like you’re staying!”
“Sit down on what?” Merlin asked, pointing to the chair which had papers crammed on it. He picked them up and was about to put them on Arthur’s desk.
“Not there,” Arthur instructed, “Give them to me,”
Merlin sat down and then read through the words on the parchment. It was in an old style of writing, something he’d briefly seen at school back in Ealdor. The report mentioned an incident which had occurred at an old monastery near the Northern borders. He grimaced as he saw the words “dark magic” written within it.
“Where has this come from?” Merlin asked, not too sure what to think.
“It was sent in by the elder at the nearby village. He also listed other incidents, which included screams in the night, people disappearing and a group of seers meeting in the nearby forest,”
“What are you going to do? Merlin asked,
“I am sending Leon and Percival to investigate tomorrow. I know you are busy at the moment, but I could do with someone going with them,”
Merlin sat back, “No problem. But I have to tell you something as well,”
“Is this about the boy Gilli has brought back?” Arthur asked,
“How did you know?”
“Oh Guinevere, saw him and mentioned him. She said something about him being able to sense changes in the weather,”
“He can certainly do that. When he was walking to Camelot with Gilli he told him a storm would occur,” Merlin explained, “The next day,”
“Have you seen this sort of magic before?” Arthur asked,
“Not personally. But I knew it existed. I saw Alice this morning and she has said he has very strong magic, it seems that’s just one part of it. But he has obviously suffered a trauma of some kind, he doesn’t open up easily. There is another case, a girl called Katia. She too has powerful magic and feels very stressed by it. She reminds me of,”
“Morgana?” Arthur finished the sentence for him.
“Yes. Before the Druids had confirmed to her, she had magic she was terribly isolated. She didn’t understand what was happening to her. Do you remember the night her room caught fire?”
“Yes, I do, I thought the storm had started it, but then my father decided it was magic,” Arthur confirmed.
“Well it was magic. Morgana had unintentionally started it due to the fact she was unable to control the magic. All people need to learn to do that, but Gaius was anxious that her magic would remain hidden from your father,”
“She had those terrible nightmares as well. They used to alarm me,” Arthur admitted,
“She was a seer. She saved your life once,” Merlin said quietly.
“Morgana?” Arthur asked surprised.
“The day you met Sophia,”
“Sophia?” Arthur asked,
“The girl you almost eloped with?” Merlin said, raising an eyebrow.
“I suppose you are going to tell me you didn’t hit me on the head now?” Arthur said, "I knew that was unlikely,"
“No, I didn’t,” Merlin admitted reluctantly, “Morgana though saw them in a dream before they arrived in Camelot. She had warned Gaius about them.”
Arthur wrinkled his face, “She was going on about Sophia to me as well, I just thought she was jealous. It seemed I should have listened to her,”
“We can all say that. Going back to Katia though, she is in a similar situation to how your sister was. We are going to try and put them together, in the hope that they befriend one another. That way Mordred may open up more and Katia will hopefully be less worried.”
“Isn’t that a risk though? I know I’ve always said I trust you to take those decisions, but isn’t there a chance it could backfire?” Arthur asked,
“We don’t know for sure, that much is true. But it could have a positive affect for both of them,” Merlin explain, “Sometimes children just bond better together, has to be worth a try,”
“Well, you’re the expert. Let’s hope it has the required effect then,”
“Right, I had better go and get ready for another early start,”
“Thank you, Merlin, be careful we don’t have a lot of information on the situation up north,”
“Don’t worry, I will soon be back to pester you,” he smiled, “Maybe by that time your table will be clearer,”
“Yes, did I tell you I have a new assistant for that,” Arthur smiled back,
“Someone you know quite well actually,” Arthur grinned
“Hello Merlin,” a voice said behind him.
Merlin turned around as George came in with a tray of food. “George, well this is a surprize. “
“I have some polishing to do this afternoon Merlin, this job never finishes,”
Merlin grinned, “No it doesn’t, I will leave you to it, things to see too,”
A Week later
Merlin was happy to see the white towers overhead, as he Percival, Leon and the other Knights trudged back home. It had been a fruitless journey up north it seemed the situation had been greatly exaggerated. Merlin was relieved that it was another “incident” which could now be closed up and put to one side. As they came nearer to the castle, he saw two figures darting through the woods. As he looked harder, he recognised Mordred chasing a girl around in the undergrowth. He smiled, it seemed they were getting on rather well. Sometimes all that was needed was a bit of common sense and patience. If only all things could be regarded in the same way he thought, the world would be a much better place.
To be Continued.