Chapter 1 – The Curse Takes Hold
Disclaimer : I own this story as much as I owned the one before it. All rights to canon characters go to the canon people. Etc…
Arthur slowly made his way through the trees and vegetation trying, not for the first time, to clear his mind with a hunt. Ever since he’d first met Merlin his world had seemed to crumble around him leaving nothing behind but confusion where once conviction had been.
His father had convened his war council nearly immediately and yet now two months later they were no closer to a decision. While Uther wanted to rush in and destroy Merlin and his Haven for magic, the other rulers were far more reticent to do so. They thought that the fact that Merlin had managed to tame the perilous lands and had gone undetected for so long was reason enough for caution. If he was being honest he tended to agree with them on that, but in public out loud he agreed with his father standing firmly behind his king as he has always done.
The longer the argument dragged on the more people took sides. Even Gaius and Morgana two people he would have said had as much faith in Uther as he did were beginning to side with the others urging caution and sometimes even understanding. Gaius kept insisting that Merlin was a force for good, that he was helping everyone by keeping the dangerous magic users away from the other kingdoms. Again he was beginning to agree, they had not seen Mary Collins or the Great Dragon since they were sent to Haven. Uther took this as a sign that the treacherous sorcerer Merlin was building an army that he would one day use against them all. He insisted that the best plan of action was to attack now when he wouldn’t be expecting it.
Only Arthur wasn’t so sure that he wouldn’t be expecting it. There had been something in his face before he and Gwaine had disappeared in a swirl of lights and magic, something akin to resignation. It was almost like he knew what was going to happen next, like he had no expectation of peace anymore only the venom, hatred, and war his father demanded.
Hearing the faint snap of a twig off to his right he looked through the trees and spotted … a unicorn? Even as he raised his crossbow there was something in his minded urging him not to fire, but he ignored it. He would have his prize.
Merlin felt the death of the unicorn, the injustice of it echoed across the magic that was his life’s blood. He felt the guardian’s punishment take hold as he quickly ran to the balcony to try to find the direction it was coming from.
“What’s wrong mate?” Ah, Gwaine with his normal cheer and love of life. Normally he would easily match it, but not today. Today he felt only sorrow at what was soon to come to pass in Camelot.
“It would seem Camelot is about to face some magical trouble.”
“What again? Bad luck all around for them isn’t it.”
Yes, bad luck on them. Only it wasn’t so much bad luck as bad decisions. Nearly every problem they have faced so far had been a disaster of their own making. He didn’t even know why he was dwelling on the problems of his enemies, but he just couldn’t seem to shake this urge to help them.
“Don’t even think about it.”
Wonderful just what he needed right now.
“Don’t you Freya me, I know you far to well for you to hide from me. You’re thinking about helping them aren’t you? Aren’t you!”
“The thought had crossed my mind briefly yes. I have yet to decide what I’m going to do though.” He made sure to keep his voice calm and even. He didn’t mind people questioning or challenging him once he made a decision but it was a little irritating to have a decision second guessed when he hadn’t even made it yet.
“Well you had best decide to leave them to their fate, whatever that may be. They convened a war council against us Merlin. Uther is already set against us! If you just go waltzing into Camelot offering to help the only thanks you’ll get from the likes of him will be the pyre.” She turned quickly and ran off not wanting to be part of this conversation a moment longer.
“She has a point mate.”
“I haven’t made a decision yet!”
“Yeah you have.”
Yeah he had. The only thing he didn’t know was why. Why did he care what happened to Camelot?
Arthur stood on the battlements overlooking the heart of Camelot and tried to understand what was happening. The water had dried up, the grain had shriveled and blown away on the winds, and the people were beginning to suffer. All because he’d shot a unicorn.
He had gone to Gaius seeking advice a solution to this problem and found resignation and legends but no answers. He knew the unicorn had a guardian, the man who enacted the vengeance of the slain animal, but he had no idea where to find this man. Or even if finding him would do any good.
Looking over his lands as the sun began to set he made a decision. He would take a group of his most trusted knights and they would search the woods come morning starting where he first saw the beast. Hopefully they would find this man and with him their salvation.