Alright everyone, here is my new story. I personally love reading about a younger Merlin so I figured I should write something about a younger Merlin. I hope you all enjoy. Gwen and Elyan's father is dead in this book, killed the same way as in the show.
Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin.
"Do we know where he's at?" the captain of the guards asked in a venomous tone. He was absolutely furious. How hard was it to keep track of one little animal? Honestly, between this and the jumper last month, he would have thought this was a weak stronghold. Though they had never lost a monster before, perhaps the winds were just changing.
"No, we have no idea. He just vanished," the other replied in a shaky tone. Why wouldn't he be? The captain was a dangerous man and did not like to fail his lord. Then again, perhaps it was time for this whole operation to crumble and fall in a heap of rubble after all the years of hard work the captain had put in. The man gritted his teeth and vehemently refused to allow such a possibility. He would keep this place afloat and ready for his master's orders. He would not fail and bring dishonor and shame upon himself. Though he knew there would be great repercussions for losing this one, the guard knew he could worm his way out of it. The thing was still so young, there was no way it would be able to survive for long. Though its death would probably bring greater punishment then merely losing track of it. The captain didn't want to think about what his boss had in store once word got out about what had happened.
Though, to be fair, they were warned that this might happen, that this would happen. The idiot druid the king kept locked up in the tower had forewarned that they could not contain such strong power, especially when the boy had just a "great destiny". Personally, the guard couldn't see it. The kid was just too weak to ever be worth anything. He didn't even understand why the king bothered to keep him around. Perhaps the animal held some special place in the king's heart, though that was doubtful. The only thing his boss loved was himself and power. Apparently, the brat was going to help give it to him. Destiny or not, though, the animal belonged here and nowhere else.
"How long has he been gone?" the captain spat, trying to weed at least one answer from the man who was supposed to be in charge of guarding the child.
"Um, well, we…" the guard stuttered. The leader growled and tried not to cut off his fellow guardsman's head. Though it was getting quite difficult. The stuttering suggested that the man wasn't doing his job like he was supposed to.
"Spit. It. Out!" the captain shouted.
"At least three hours," came the meek reply. At this, the senior guard lost his temper and plunged the sword through the man's heart. The others stopped and stared at the body that laid bleeding at the senior's feet. The damn thing had almost three hours of a head start. A lot could happen in three hours and now the chances of finding him were very slim. The guard kicked the dead man away from him and turned to the others standing in the room.
"I want him found and I want him found now. Our lord will not be happy that we lost such a prize and I will ensure that it is entirely on your heads and not mine. FIND HIM!" he shouted. The others jumped and scurried about like rats, tripping over each other in an effort to appease their leader. The senior guard growled and turned to the wall that was lined with cages. Several grubby people were stuffed inside. Cowering as far away from the metal bars as possible.
You could tell which ones had been here awhile. They were the ones with dead and empty eyes. The ones that sat closest to the bars. They stayed away from each other and did everything asked. The others did everything asked as well, mostly out of fear and not because they were too brain dead to resist. There were a few troublemakers, but those were quickly taken care of with the loss of a tongue or ear. Some of the more mouthier ones took several days of torture, but they were broken in the end. They all were broken in the end.
The new arrivals were more likely to huddle together in the back of the cages. Their eyes still held the spark of life. They still had hope that one day they would be rescued. Surprisingly, the jumper and the escapee had also stayed strong, despite being here for almost four years. The guard should have known that this would have happened. Not because of some old cook, but because those two were far too alive. They were biding their time before they were able to escape. There probably wasn't an elaborate plan. The boy simply saw an opportunity and took it. The guard flew forward with an animalistic cry and slammed a metal pole against the bars. The sound resonated and caused the occupants to jump back, even the old timers with no light left in their eyes skidded away in fear. The guard was seething and breathing heavily. A stupid mistake and now he might never live to see another morning. It was then that the guard remembered that although the boy was strong, he was also very young. He wouldn't have had the courage to do this without someone to at least push him out the door. The guard decided to ask about this.
"The boy is powerful, but he couldn't have orchestrated this all on his own. If you tell me who helped him, I'll let you go," the guard falsely promised. No one spoke up. He had hoped that the new arrivals would answer immediately, given that they were unaware of the true nature of the guards, but not even freedom broke their silence.
"I'm trying to be patient with you all. You know how quickly I lose my patience," he threatened. An old man, one of the longest surviving, stood up and made his way to the front of the cage. The guard sighed. This one was completely crazy. There probably wouldn't be any useful information out of him. But he still decided to humor the man. Maybe later he could convince his lord to let him butcher the old timer. He wasn't much use now. He was here as more of a relic and trophy than anything.
"Do you know something?" the guard asked sweetly. The old man look at the guard with eyes that had been blind for many years. Despite the fact that he couldn't see the guard, the man still appeared to be staring right at him. His eyes were boring deep into the guard's soul. The captain felt exposed and raw, like nothing was hidden from the man. He could read his entire life's story just by staring ahead blankly. The guard shook off the ridiculous thought. This man was blind. He couldn't see anything, much less the guard's soul. Still, it felt like an eternity before the old man spoke.
"Emrys is going home."
1 Year Later
Arthur didn't even want to begin explaining to his father how idiotic this plan was. It was completely and totally insane. There was no way this would ever work. But he had to try anyways. Uther was insistent.
"Father, I can't go after something if I don't even know what it looks like," Arthur said through gritted teeth. He was trying very hard not to lose his patience. Sometimes his father could be so stubborn. Though it probably didn't help that Arthur was just as stubborn. Uther slammed his fist down on the table.
"Arthur, this beast is dangerous and magical. It is destroying crops. You have to figure out what it is before it gets worse," Uther snapped. Arthur rolled his eyes. Leave it to his father to make something seem important by calling it magical.
Leon cleared his throat uncomfortably and attempted to regain control of the situation. He hated Sir Ian for retiring last year. He was the only one besides Gaius who could actually keep control of Uther and Arthur's temper. Since Leon was head knight, the responsibility now lay with him. He was just glad the Lady Morgana had taken ill before the meeting so that he wouldn't have to deal with three stubborn opinions. Though Leon silently suspected Morgana just didn't want to attend and made up an illness, knowing Uther would allow her a respite. Leon didn't know how you could even have three different sides to this argument. But if anyone could make it work, it was the royal family. Maybe he could pass off the duties to Lancelot. Knowing the man, he would take it as a great honor and not as a great chore. Regardless, Leon was here now and needed to create a plan of action soon.
"Sire, I agree with Arthur. We have no idea what this creature looks like or what it is capable of. Give us more time to research and ask around to see if anyone has seen it. If we know what it is, we might be more successful on the first hunt rather than going on many different hunts." Uther turned to Leon and glared at the knight. Leon tried not to shrink under that stare but it was rather difficult. The king had one of those looks that threatened Leon with an execution if he didn't watch his next words carefully.
"You are to hunt the beast down. Do not come back until you find it. And don't even think about seeing Morgana. She is ill and needs her rest," Uther snarled before sweeping out of the council chambers. Arthur and Leon sank back defeated.
"Cyrus," Leon called to his servant. The boy stepped forward with a bow. "Gather the usual men and tell them to be prepared to leave in half an hour. You then can go home until I return," Leon commanded.
"Right away, sir," he replied. He gave another bow before heading off to do what Leon had asked. Leon turned to Arthur.
"It will be okay. We have nothing to fear," he tried to soothe the young prince's troubled mind.
"I just have a feeling about today," Arthur replied.
"A bad feeling?"
"Not exactly. It's not a very good feeling either," Arthur explained.
"Perhaps we should ask our old friend," Leon suggested. Arthur shook his head.
"We'll see what we can find first. If nothing else one of us can ride back and ask Gaius for help," Leon proposed. Arthur nodded and stood to prepare for the journey.
"Why can't my father just be patient? Yes, it has destroyed crops and villages, but there have been no actual sightings. Furthermore, there have been no damages for the last week and a half," Arthur grumbled.
"Perhaps it just needed a break," Leon said.
"This was something that was razing one village to the ground everyday. This doesn't strike me as the kind of thing that just stops 'cause it wants to," Arthur said. "I want it gone as much as my father. But at the expense of resources that could be used to better protect the people, I'm not sure if that's the right way to go about this."
"There is no right way to go about this. You just have to do what you think is right." Leon shook his head and continued to follow the prince through the castle.
"I'm just afraid that this is a trap, or nothing at all. Perhaps just some overactive bandits," Arthur sighed. Leon decided to try and focus on what they did know instead of what they didn't
"The last reports came from up north, closer to Cenred's kingdom," Leon said. Arthur nodded and made his way out into the courtyard. The other knights were all ready to go.
"This better be good, princess," Gwaine grumbled, looking as though he had just been pulled out of bed. It was almost noon. On a Tuesday. But Arthur didn't ask since he didn't want to know what Gwaine had been up to last night.
"There have been reports of a creature attacking villages. Our mission is to go and dispose of this creature," Arthur explained.
"Do we know what we're up against?" Elyan asked. Arthur sighed and massaged his brow.
"No, we don't know what we're looking for," he responded truthfully. Gwaine snorted.
"So for all we know, this thing could be a rabbit or a wyvern," he muttered. Leon was about to admonish him when Arthur spoke again.
"Listen, this thing has burned several villages to the ground. Many are without homes because of it. Others have lost everything, their entire lives, their family, their friends. It isn't active now, but it may come back and destroy more lives than it already has. We need to stop it while it is still inactive and possibly recuperating," Arthur said. Gwaine snapped his mouth closed and nodded. Most of the group knew what it was like to lose their home and family because of monsters, be them man or beast. They weren't going to let innocents suffer simply because the creature was unknown. They were going to kill this beast if it was the last thing they did.
"So we're just going to head north until we hit an enemy kingdom?" Gwaine asked, leaning casually on his horse.
"The last sightings were somewhere near Cenred's kingdoms. We need to ask and see if anyone saw anything," Leon clarified. Gwaine sighed.
"We really have no idea what we're doing," he muttered.
"At least we have a plan," Percival said with a small smile. "The first step has to be figuring out what we're up against before any action can be taken. If we don't ask around, this thing will remain unknown." Gwaine spurred his horse forward, unwilling to admit that Percival was right. Gwaine liked helping people, he really did. But sometimes it felt as though Uther was becoming more paranoid and forcing others to suffer with him because of it. Gwaine would have followed Arthur to the ends of the Earth, but Arthur wasn't calling the shots, not yet. Lancelot sat quietly in the back. He couldn't shake the feeling that they were being watched. Something was off about this whole thing. He could just feel it. Lancelot spurred his horse to the front by Leon's and Arthur.
"Don't be alarmed but I think we're being followed," Lancelot muttered. Leon sat up straighter and locked eyes with Percival. Percival nodded and nudged his horse into Gwaine and Elyan's who quickly got the message. Gwaine began to recount the tale about two twins from Samos who he had once spent the weekend with while Lancelot continued to tell Arthur and Leon about the situation.
"I've noticed the bushes moving along with us for about ten minutes now. The feelings been there ever since we entered the forest," Lancelot explained. In the background, Elyan shouted at Gwaine to shut up which caused Gwaine to proceed to try and hook Elyan up so he could get laid and relax.
"Do you know how many?" Arthur asked. Lancelot shook his head.
"I think there's only the one for now. But I can't be sure," he admitted. Gwaine's story stopped abruptly as the group became aware of a figure standing in the middle of the road. The other's caught site of the man and slowed their horses. He was standing a good ten yards from the horses. He had on a wide brimmed, brown hat that cast a shadow over the better part of his face. He also had a brown cloak draped around his shoulders, fluttering in the breeze. From the distance, Gwaine couldn't really tell how tall the man was, but he was definitely muscular. Gwaine swore he could make out a smirk from underneath the shadow. He stiffened in the saddle and prepared for a fight. Something was off about this man.
"Do you need something?" Lancelot called out. The man just stood there and continued to study the knights. Leon reached down to draw out his sword.
"Don't do that, sir knight," the man said.
"And why not?" Elyan asked. The man chuckled.
"You are completely surrounded. You are on horseback. You are outnumbered. The chances of you getting out of this alive are very slim. Just surrender and come with me," the man explained.
"Why would we come with a common bandit?" Gwaine snapped.
"I am a mercenary. My name is Drake and my employer wants the prince," he said. Arthur bristled at this. His men were being threatened because of him. He never liked it when others were in danger because of him. It made him hate the title of prince even more. The fact that just being associated with him could cause so many people to be in danger. It wasn't fair.
"We can still fight you," Arthur said. He hoped that his voice was stronger than what he felt at the moment. In all honesty, Arthur was afraid. This mercenary was so damn calm. It was as if nothing could go wrong with his plan. Overconfidence was some men's downfall, but it was also some men's strength. The forest was suddenly too silent and the trees too thick. Arthur felt like everything was closing in on him and he couldn't do anything to stop it.
"Oh, my dear prince, you can. You might even kill a few of my men. But, you are the only one my employer wants. The others are disposable. We won't hesitate to kill them. Come with me and I can promise no harm will come to them," the man said. Arthur hesitated for a moment. Part of him screamed to not trust the man. Part of him said that he had no choice. Another part, strangely the largest part, was telling him to remain calm, everything would work out. It wasn't afraid of the man. It was almost as if it was preparing for a guardian angel to rescue Arthur and his men. It was this part that gave Arthur the strength to make a decision.
"Alright. I will come with you." Arthur moved to get off of his horse. Leon grabbed his arm.
"You can't. You don't know what this man wants. You need to get back to the palace. We'll cover you." Leon said. Typical Leon. Sacrificing himself for the crown. Arthur turned to Leon.
"I am at the front. They have us surrounded. We are almost an hour's ride from the palace. Even if I manage to somehow get past all of you, I'd never make it back," Arthur said.
"He's right, Sir Leon," the leader chuckled. Leon's head snapped back towards the man. Arthur wanted to scold him for taking the eyes off the enemy, but figured there was a time and a place.
"How do you know my name?" Leon asked. The man just shook his head and laughed again. This laugh was full body and mocking.
"The knight who was so desperate to save the one's he love the most that he lost almost everything." Arthur turned to Leon. The knight's knuckles had turned white from gripping the reins with such fear. Only a few people knew about that. And Arthur was sure this random man in the middle of the forest wasn't one of them.
"Stop it," Arthur snarled. He had to protect everyone. If this man knew about Leon's past, what did he know about the others? Arthur didn't want all of his men to experience the same sort of emotions that was currently leaving Leon unable to fight or think straight.
"I know all about you. Everyone of you. Sir Elyan, the one who ran from his responsibilities. The one who makes excuses for his past behaviors. Tell me, how is your father doing?"
"I said stop it."
"Oh and dear Percival, have you told your friends what you used to do? How many you've killed? Why your family died?" Percival's face drained so fast, Arthur was afraid the man would faint. The further this went, the less his knights would be able to function. They were entering dangerous territory now. Arthur just hoped his men would be able to put their past lives aside for the sake of their own survival.
"Why are you taunting us like this?" Arthur asked, trying to get the conversation off of his men.
"Gwaine's running too. Trying everything in his power to distance himself from his own blood. You know, Gwaine, you remind me so much of your father. How's that temper of yours?" the man said. Arthur could practically hear the sneer in his voice.
"Why you-" Gwaine attempted to lunge off his horse only to be held back by Percival and Elyan.
"I thought so," the man chuckled. "And finally little, lost, Lancelot. Searching and searching for the man who took it all away, knowing you'll never find him. You weren't strong enough then and you aren't strong enough now."
"You need to stop. Now!" Arthur shouted.
"Oh, Arthur, I know about all your men. I know their strengths, their weaknesses. I know the lowest and highest points in their lives. I know it all. Now, dismount and come with me, all of you," the man said. Arthur and the others jumped off the horses and began to follow the man.
"Leave the horses. You won't be needing them." Arthur turned and saw Leon was as white as a sheet. He put a comforting hand on his knight's shoulder before following the man. All of his men had been shaken by the events that had just taken place. These weren't little secrets that this man knew, these were huge secrets dealing with the pasts of each knight. Arthur didn't know what was being planned, but he sure as hell knew it was going to be very painful for him and his men.
"Sorry about that. I just wanted to make it a bit easier to handle you all," the man said with his syrupy sweet voice. Arthur doubted he was very sorry over the events that had happened.
The group stopped at a clearing where about ten other men were standing. All swords were out and ready to kill anyone who wasn't going to cooperate with the leader. Arthur attempted to look strong as he crossed into the clearing. Leon and Elyan had regained some of their composure. Percival still looked ready to faint, as did Lancelot. The reaction that surprised Arthur the most was Gwaine's. The knight looked very frightened. He never talked about his father, but judging from the man's reaction, being compared to him wasn't a compliment. If the knights didn't stand a chance to get out of this back on the trail, they sure as hell didn't now. Each was visibly shaken by the ordeal. The only purpose was to show that their captor held power over them. That thought made Arthur sick. These were his men. They didn't need the worst pieces of their soul to be dragged up by some stranger. And furthermore, why did the stranger know these things? Arthur bristled when he realized it was probably some sort of magic. If this man had magic, then he probably knew something about the creature they were hunting.
"Were you the one to call upon the creature that has destroyed several villages?" Arthur asked. The man looked up from his discussion with one of his subordinates.
"No, dear prince. That was just a wyvern that got a bit wild. It was just an added bonus that you came. I was planning on storming the castle," the man laughed. Arthur nodded and turned to his men. Gwaine was trying to calm down his breathing. Percival had yet to regain his color. Lancelot looked slightly calmer, though still a tad pale. Elyan was probably the one that was the most put together out of the entire group. He came up behind Arthur.
"We need a plan," he whispered.
"We can't do anything with the others still panicking because some man knew about their past," Arthur snapped.
"You don't understand. He knows things about me that I won't even admit to myself. You didn't feel it. You just heard it. I never wanted that part of my soul to come to light. And some man who I don't know dragged it up out of me and forced it into the open. Give them a little credit for not fainting on the spot. Lord knows that's what I felt like doing," Elyan hissed. Arthur massaged his brow and prepared to discuss the release of his men. Before he could speak, the man rounded on Lancelet and sent a powerful punch to his jaw. Lancelot cried out in pain and fell to the ground.
"Some of these are liabilities. Choose which ones you like the least and I'll kill them," the man smiled.
"I am not choosing which of my men to die!" Arthur shouted. The previous questions about magic and the wyvern that had been attacking the villages was now gone from Arthur's head. The man tutted.
"If you don't choose at least two, then I'll be forced to kill them all," he warned. Arthur looked around helplessly. He couldn't live with himself if he chose two to die and three to live. It wasn't fair.
"You have thirty seconds, my prince. Then I'll kill blond one," he said. Arthur whipped around just in time to see a man slam the but of a sword into Leon's head. Gwaine tried to rush forward but Percival held him back. Leon wasn't unconscious yet, but he didn't seem to be doing very well. He crashed onto his knees, the sword positioned onto the back of his neck, ready to sink in when the signal was given.
"Please, you don't have to do this. Just let them go," Arthur begged. He knew there was no way it was going to work, but he had to try. Perhaps seeing him beg would give the leader more pleasure and he would let the men go simply because Arthur lowered himself to the point of begging. It didn't work. Instead the man just sat there and widened his smile.
"You're time is up," the man said.
"NO!" Arthur shouted. He saw the sword go to cut Leon's head off. Everything seemed to slow as the sword began to arc back towards the knight. Leon had his eyes closed, accepting of the situation. Arthur couldn't look away. He couldn't move. All he could do was watch his friend get murdered right before his eyes. But the cut never came. Instead, another cry of distress was heard and a brown blob skidded right into the executioner. The executioner yelped as he was thrown to the ground. The sword landed away from Leon's neck, much to Arthur's relief.
"Whoa!" the brown blobbed exclaimed at it tumbled to a stop near the leader. The execution propped himself up on his elbows and Leon had opened his eyes. Everyone was staring at the thing that had just fallen into the campsite. The brown blob rolled around before getting to its feet. That's when Arthur realized that it was a jacket that had been caught on the person's head. At least Arthur hoped it was a person. This would be a very bad day to deal with a pixie on top of everything else. The person struggled for a few minutes with the jacket before managing to pull it down. Arthur gasped as he realized that it was just a child standing there. He had long, tangled hair that was the color of a raven's wing and bright blue eyes. His skin looked to be burned from being out in the sun for too long. His clothing hung off his frame. And personally, Arthur thought the boy was too small and skinny for his own good. He didn't look to be more than six or seven years old. The boy took a second to observe his surroundings. He seemed very confused as to what he had stumbled on. Arthur just wanted to scream and tell the boy to run. His voice seemed to stop working. Finally, the child spoke.
"Um, hello. I'm Merlin. What are you doing in my forest?"
First chapter is done. I hope to see you all for the next chapter. I will try to update everyone to two weeks, so you shouldn't have to wait long. Have a great weekend.