|The Red Dragon
Author: In caverns dark PM
A story about what may happen if you change one, seemingly minor point in an episode, and of how Merlin chooses to deal with the challenges that are dealt to him.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Merlin - Chapters: 4 - Words: 10,272 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 01-05-12 - Published: 12-05-11 - id: 7611331
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Red Dragon
"It is the Hour of Wakening.
He comes forth in his glory,
and his people shall rejoice,
and his enemies shall scatter like dust."
He waited for the guards to appear to investigate the sound "Blessed are the Dragonlords" he repeated as the clunk clunk clunk of armour grew louder, "for they serve without self," he pictured the stone in his mind's eye, feeling his spirit connect with itself. "sacrificed on the altar of faith and blood."
The guards looked over the edge, two became one, and in an instant he appeared behind them and pushed them over. They were so surprised that it was amusing. So surprised, they couldn't even suck in the air to scream.
Aggrivane was not a happy man. Everything had been wasted, everything, and for what? So that the witch could spite her families legacy. Gods!
What was the point of it anymore? The Kingdom of Camelot was sundered; land that they paid with blood to protect and acquire had been thrown away in an instant. Now all that was left was a castle with dwindling food supplies from the loss of farmland and mounting debts from the loss of tax revenues. Then the army, the army had begun to dwindle. None of the oh so noble knights of Camelot had seen fit to desert, but the lesser soldiers were more than eager to reach home once they realised that their homes were on the other side of the border, or once they saw how the Kingdom had crumbled after the humiliating loss that was inflicted on them.
What was worse was that the witch was rejoicing at Camelot's suffering! Aggrivane admitted to himself that there may have been a time when he had been taken in by the act of the seductress, but after this display of stupidity he was more than happy to bypass her 'authority'.
He would use his position to persuade Arthur to retake Camelot's lands, and retake them as soon as possible. Because if Morgana had her way Camelot would be reduced to the size of her hovel, and she would be Queen of the rats that inhabit it.
The first thing Merlin could hear was the sound of drums. "Get moving scum!" shouted the guards as he was taken through an endless maze of twisting hallways. His travels always marked by the beat of the drums, beating a low beat through the walls', shaking the very floor beneath him.
"Your highness." Ulfric said whilst kneeling in front of his Queen. "You have asked for my presence?"
Annis looked down on her champion, amused beyond words at her plan, "Yes, my loyal champion"
They would throw him, push him, drag him ever onwards. The worst of it all was that they had also gagged his mouth tightly shut, and added extra guards to escort him. He couldn't do anything to get out. But his insides were screaming for him to run, every nerve and sense quivering in fear. He had to, he had to get out of here and to Camelot, or Ealdor. Somewhere, somewhere that he would be safe. But he couldn't use his magic, he couldn't shout an incantation. He couldn't do anything to get out.
The ropes that bound his hands behind his back felt as if they had rubbed his wrists raw. He tried to reach his magic, to feel it swirling around him. But was quickly stopped by a harsh push from the guards escorting him. Slowly but surely, any hope that he would live to see tomorrow fled.
"I think that you, for your contribution in our victory against Camelot deserve a place of honour. Something to be given to you as a reward in recognition of your deeds." There was silence from all present as the Queen continued, "I have taken your suggestions into account and have decided that whilst the boy could prove to be a powerful asset, it is far too much of a risk to keep him alive."
He could hear the beat of his own heart hammer in his chest.
The drumming in the distance became faster, beating, pulsing until it was an unintelligible roar, a roar deafening Merlin to all other sounds around him, the insults of the men escorting him, and the sharp screech of the doors as he was taken outside.
"The boy shall be beheaded in front of all the assorted nobles who have come to celebrate our victory, and the return of glory to our kingdom"
Then, as he was paraded through the streets, the Warlock/servant of Camelot, listening to the jeers and insults thrown at him like rotten vegetables it became clear. There was no drumbeat, only the roar of the people that surrounded him. Begging for his blood, for his death. He listened to them whilst being, pushed, prodded, and beaten down; all he could hear was their screams, all their voices becoming one. Because from this distance they all looked the same, and the only words he could make out in the endless din was the words, "Death" the endless chant of, "Death, death, death."
"Kill the boy, kill him!" one woman screamed whilst attempting to get to the boy and kill him herself. He was back in Camelot witnessing a boy burnt alive whilst his mother wept; he was on the battlements as Kilgarrah laid waste to the city underneath. He was in front of a dark cave where the beast made of fire and smoke dwelled. They all screamed, "Death".
Merlin had to get out, he had to get out and get away. No more time to worry about the risks, no more time to worry about destiny. If he was going to die, none of that would matter. So he silenced the voice of the crowd, he gathered every tendril of magic that he felt inside of him, every shred of strength. Looked forwards, and at seeing what lay before him, felt the magic slip away from his fingers.
"In honour of your service," Annis began, her words loud and clear so that all those assembled in her throne room could hear "you, my champion shall have the honour of executing the sorcerer."
Ulfric stood on top of a raised platform, an axe held firmly in one of his hands; besides him with her head held high was a woman who he recognised as Queen Annis. In front of them both, kneeling with his head on a chopping block was Sparrow.
Merlin felt himself go numb as he was pushed upon the platform and shoved down to his knees in front of the Queen who didn't dare give him a second glance.
The roars became distant as he tried to look Ulfric in the eyes, to try and ask him 'why' even though his mouth was bound and he could not speak.
He looked at Sparrow, the man had his head on the block but looked at Merlin with a bitter smile. He knew that the crowd was roaring, and that the Queen behind him had begun to make a speech, but the last words spoken by Sparrow were as clear as if they hadn't been speaking at all.
"Ulfric, champion of Caerleon, do you accept this great honour?" Queen Annis asked, knowing full well what the man's answer would be.
"Yes." He said, the remains of his soul screeching out in protest at the thought of killing a boy, regardless of how powerful he was, "I accept this honour you have given me, your highness."
"Merlin" Sparrow said as Ulfric moved behind him and the crowd hushed to silence, the smile still plastered onto his face "Don't forget who you are."
Chop, the axe fell, and the crowd roared and clapped joyously as his head fell and rolled to the ground. Ulfric held the bloody axe high in the face of the nobles as Merlin froze in disbelief.
It wasn't the first time he had seen death, but to see the life of someone who he had talked to extinguished so easily, so instantaneously sent a chill up the Warlock's spine.
A guard kicked Sparrows motionless body to the side and walked behind Merlin, dragging him up to his feet, moving him past Queen Annis who was telling another guard to disturb her at some other time.
Merlin looked into Ulfric's eyes for a moment before Ulfric looked away in shame. All of a sudden Merlin had felt as if the world had begun to blur. The voices of the crowd dimming down, as he was roughly forced to kneel in front of the chopping block.
He could hear horns in the distance and asked himself if this was the end?
A hand forcefully pushed him down. His face hit the wood. His nose was filled with the smell of his friend's blood.
He closed his eyes, prepared for what was going to happen. Felt warmth fill him as he steeled himself for the sharp pain of the axe on his neck. Thinking not of what others would do now that he was gone, but rather if he would meet Freya, his father or Will when he died.
He closed his eyes in preparation.
Silence was all he could hear. It slowly became a distant screech, growing in intensity louder and louder.
Bang. The sound roared, wiping away all else.
He was dead.
His world was empty, nothing.
Then he heard a voice in the distance shout, "Merlin!"
"Get up Merlin" said the voice. It sounded like Sparrow.
Merlin felt strange, weightless, sad. Free and unrestrained by the shackles of destiny, yet bound by the chains of disappointment and failure. He felt warm, as if caught in a fire storm yet... cold.
"Merlin, we need your help" sounded Sparrows voice as the heat around him began to increase. "Merlin" Sparrows voice called out once more, sounding slightly distorted, "Open your eyes!"
Merlin saw his head still on the chopping block. He was still alive!
Why? He asked himself, looking around to see the town was burning, the people running scared in every direction, the soldiers trying to form some sort of coherent defence from some enemy somewhere.
Yet... everything was silent, he couldn't hear a thing, as if he was watching this scene of madness through the eyes of another.
"Merlin" Sparrow said. Wait... not Sparrow Merlin realised as someone else came up to Merlin and forced him up.
"You alright boy?" It was Ulfric, "We got to get out of here, I need your help." He said systematically destroying the chains and ropes that kept Merlin bound, and finally releasing the gag that kept the boys mouth shut.
Suddenly the sound of screams washed over him, the feel of the flames became more intense, the crackle of the flames and the taste of smoke. Then, a loud screech pierced his hearing as boulders flew down from the sky, crashing into houses and squashing soldiers and peasants alike.
"Merlin!" Ulfric shouted to the frozen boy who was watching this scene of horror, a slaughter on the scale of which he had not seen before. A slaughter that a part of Merlin's mind said was rightfully deserved.
"Merlin!" Ulfric roared, shaking the boy out of his trance, "If we stay, we're going to die!"
"They're going to kill you"
Merlin nodded to the older man. He understood that he had to get out of here or share the same fate of all those who had already perished in the carnage.
"Follow me."Ulfric shouted as he began to make his way out of the city. Stopping and turning when he noticed Merlin hadn't followed.
Because Merlin had looked down to see Sparrows headless body. He remembered that Ulfric had killed the soldier without hesitation, and would have killed him as well. But he saved me screamed another part of his mind. He was frozen, stuck between two impossible decisions.
He looked to see Sparrows head in the dirt, his eyes open and lifeless. "Don't forget who you are." They said, and Merlin wondered just who he was as he looked into Ulfric's pleading gaze, begging the boy... the warlock to follow him.
Who am I? Merlin's eyes asked Ulfric. A murderer? someone who will bring justice to my friend. A coward who will follow you like a servant? Merlin asked himself, realising that he had been doing this for Arthur for a good part of his life.
Then he heard the sound of horns bellow in the distance, punctuated by the sound of screaming men rush closer like the approaching tide. Then the screech of metal against metal, the swearing, curses and groans of fighting men.
Merlin looked at Ulfric in the eyes, and ran, knowing that he had to get out of here, knowing who he was wouldn't help much if he was dead.
YAY! I didn't start with a dream sequence. :D
Hands up how many of you thought Merlin died? All in all I quite enjoyed this chapter (mostly), bar a couple of irritating blocks, it seemed to flow (generally). If you agree leave it in your review (hint, hint)
If I get them I might even promise to stop the self depreciating comments. :P