Chapter 1 – Seeking Help
Disclaimer : I own nothing that is even tangentially related to Merlin, not the show, the legends, or anything else. What I do have is the idea that spawned this little story and hopefully more beyond it.
Merlin sat in his room watching the shadows play across the walls as the sun began to set and thought back, not for the first time, about how he had gotten here. He never meant for any of this to happen, but he had learned long ago that Destiny rarely took into account what people wanted.
He thought back to his mother, his village, his friends, his life, and the day it all went up in flames.
Cenred had been trying to make peace with Camelot for years and that year he finally had, by allowing Camelot to expand her borders further into his kingdom Ealdor was part of Camelot overnight, only no one had bothered to tell any of the villagers, in any of the villages, that they were now ruled by Uther Pendragon.
When Camelot’s forces had descended on the village Merlin had been in the forest to the south and only returned when he noticed the smoke beginning to rise into the sky.
Camelot soldiers had come looking for magic users and had found a few, none with any real power, and when they tried to take them back to Camelot for judgment all hell had broken loose.
Merlin’s best friend Will had died trying to protect his mother Hunith who’d spoken against Uther.
He had known none of that when he’d broken free of the tree line that day, all he had known was that his world was on fire. The magic users who hadn’t died in the initial assault were taken back to Camelot and executed there to thunderous applause. After burying his mother and his only friend who’d really been more like a brother he looked around at all the devastation and realized that there was nothing left, at least not for him, nothing holding him here but bad memories and the nightmares of fire that were soon to come.
With nothing but the clothes on his back and that thought in his mind he wandered away. Away from Uther, away from Cenred, away from the smoldering embers of his past.
He’d wandered for days before he found himself in the Perilous Lands, the lands of the Fisher King. The Fisher Kings lands were a no mans land in between two kingdoms, it sat between Camelot and Essetir and while both coveted it neither could ever hold it. He had been half dead when he found himself in the throne room standing before the skeletal king.
“Ah, boy you are here earlier than expected. Though I see now that things have changed, no matter, all will be set right in the end and maybe… yes maybe this will be better.”
Merlin had seen the longing in the old man’s eyes and asked the only question he could.
“What do you need?”
“Rest. Peace. Can you give it to me? I cannot find rest until I know my lands will once more be as they were.” He could tell that every word, every breathe, cost him more and more of his strength.
“What were they?”
“Safe. A haven for all those who needed it, none were turned away. All were protected. My land was… peace. Will you bring it back?”
“How?” How could anywhere be a haven in such times? Uther would burn any place such as that to the ground, and smile as the embers burned out.
“Just. Be. Your existence will bring back the haven that was lost. The power, your power, will bring everything back. As long as you draw breathe, as long as your heart is pure, and your actions true those who seek peace here shall find it. Will you help?”
“Yes.” To his dying day he would always know there had been no other answer.
“Thank you. Place your hand on the trident and let your power call to the earth. Let the world know there is once more peace to be found.”
Five Years Later
Arthur Pendragon fought to stay calm as he rode away from Camelot, it went against everything in his training to flee his kingdom, but his father was right if there was to be hope for Camelot he needed to be free to mobilize the resistance.
Nimuhe a known sorceress and enemy of Camelot had taken the castle so effortlessly it would have been laughable had it not been his home that had fallen. The king had stayed behind to give his son and a few others the time needed to escape. Glancing back at his comrades on his heels he fought a grimace.
Leon had been the only knight he’d managed to bring with him all others stayed with their king. Other than that he had Morgana, her maid Gwen, and the court physician Gaius, he’d never seen a more pitiful sight.
They needed to get beyond Nimuhe’s reach and make camp for the night so he could decide what was to be done.
Gaius sat by the fire and debated speaking up. While Arthur wasn’t a bad man he shared his fathers hatred of magic and his words would not be taken in the light they were given. The longer he held his silence the more certain he became that he needed to speak. Arthur was a gifted strategist, but he had no knowledge of magic and all he had planned would repel a normal army, but would do nothing against a sorceress of Nimuhe’s strength.
“Yes, Gaius.” The prince’s tone was not friendly but that was to be expected and only quelled the physician momentarily.
“I have a suggestion if I may?” His voice began to shake slightly no matter his efforts to quell it, but that could easily be excused by the cold night air on his old bones.
“Of course, your advice is much welcome.” His words were respectful but his tone spoke the truth his words denied. He did not believe Gaius would have anything of use to impart.
“Well, sire, I believe you are overlooking one momentous fact that impacts your plans.”
“Oh, really, and what might that be?” He knew he was on thin ice, but he must persevere.
“Nimuhe is a sorceress, sire. So all your plans can be easily undone by her with little effort.” The look of pure disdain that overtook the young princes face confirmed his fears, Arthur was discounting magic far too easily. Understandable really, he’d never truly seen magic in action, not on the scale that it would be used now.
“We’ve faced sorcerers before, Gaius.”
“Yes, sire. However, the magic users you’ve faced in the past were young, inexperienced, most untrained. Nimuhe survived the purge, she’s kept herself hidden all these years, and despite her appearance she is in fact older than I am.” He saw the moment his words sank in. Both the prince and his knight exchanged looks of unease.
“What do you suggest?” And here was the tricky part.
“Well sire, the only way to defeat a sorcerer of her power would be with someone of equal or greater power at your side.” He braced himself before the last word left his lips, he knew what reaction his statement would cause. However, it was necessary, because it was the truth. They needed help.
“What! You would have me abandon my father’s teachings within hours of leaving his side? I thought you were his friend Gaius.” Arthurs look of betrayal nearly swayed him from his path, but one fact kept him steadfast.
“Sire, Nimuhe will release the Great Dragon. No army, no matter the size will be able to defeat it.” Especially not now, after so long spent imprisoned under the castle. His hatred would have only grown over the years.
“My father defeated it once.” Now the final blow.
“Yes, sire, he did. With magic.” And trickery, among other things.
“I do not believe you my father would never…”
“Oh, but he did. There are magic users in the world known as Dragon Lords only they can control the dragons. Not even Nimuhe will be able to control what he does once he is free sire. Back at the start of the purge the Dragon Lords and dragons themselves were killed. All save one of each we need to find that Dragon Lord if we wish to have even a prayer of success.” With his words still echoing into the night he rose from the fire and began to move towards his patch of grass by the two sleeping women.
“Who is this Dragon Lord?” The question stopped him for a moment. He answered without looking back.
“His name was Balinor.”