Notes: Notice this is the first chapter (of six) of the first story of a series, "Gods Play Dice. Of Destiny, Causality and Free Will."
When Morgana sees Merlin talking with a dragon about her in one of her dreams, she decides to confront him about it. This change unfolds an alternate timeline to canon, where this story series will take place. What kind of future lies ahead for Merlin and Camelot? Is there really a fate or free will can change things? Enjoy the ride!
Characters: Merlin, Morgana, Kilgharrah, Gaius, Arthur, Gwen, Mordred, Aglain.
Ships: Merlin/Morgana, Arthur/Gwen.
Thanks to Moonfox, MadameMorganLeFay, AJsRandom and Sarajm, for their encouragement and their valuable help at discussing and editing this story.
Especial thanks to MonJoh for her great work as a beta, both providing insightful input for the development of the story and detailed proofreading, all with dedication and enthusiasm that deserve only praises.
Chapter 1.- Confrontation.
Merlin was standing alone in the dark, with a torch in his right hand, looking down at a big and deep cave. Suddenly, a giant dragon arrived, his golden eyes glowing in the gloomy surroundings.
"What do you want, young warlock?" the Great Dragon asked, looking down at the boy.
"I need your help. Do you know where the druids are?" he asked eagerly, biting his lip.
"First you must tell me why you seek them." The threatening voice of the dragon echoed through the cavern.
He looked at the scaly beast and grumbled in exasperation."It doesn't matter!"
"It does to me." The dragon looked at him with contempt.
"I need to ask them something," Merlin sighed and looked down at his feet as if he was trying to collect himself to look calm.
"I've lived more than a thousand years, seen civilizations rise and fall. Do not believe that you can lie to me," the dragon's voice was a roar resonating in the cave.
The boy sighed again in resignation.
"I need their help. Someone I care about needs their help."
The dragon eyes shone in annoyance and smoke emanated from his nostrils.
"You speak of the witch, the Lady Morgana!"
"She's not a witch. She's my friend," Merlin protested.
"She cannot be trusted."
"What makes you say that?"
The dragon snorted at the boy before continuing his speech as if he had not heard him.
"It would be better if the witch -"
"Stop calling her that!" he screamed angrily.
"She's a witch in the same way that you are a warlock, Merlin." The dragon rolled his eyes. "It would be better if the witch never knew the true extent of her powers..." the dragon continued his speech.
"You're wrong. I know her. She has a good heart," the boy had angry tears in his eyes.
"You failed to heed my advice in the past and it brought grave consequences," the dragon said.
"I won't abandon her." He stared at the dragon with cold determination.
"I will not give you the help you seek. If you pursue this course of action, you do so alone," said the dragon before flying away, abruptly ending the conversation.
Morgana woke up suddenly in her bed. She was sweating and breathing heavily. The dream wasn't one of her usual nightmares, but it had been a disturbing, all the same.
In her vision, Merlin was talking to a dragon. Had not Uther killed all dragons during the Great Purge? No, the King claimed he had left one dragon alive, imprisoned and chained beneath Camelot, as a reminder of Pendragon's power. Also, she remembered that, when she was a little child, she had overheard her father, Gorlois, talking to a friend about the dragon the King had imprisoned. The dragon had sworn revenge on Camelot and the Pendragon lineage, as Uther was the reason dragons had become nearly extinct.
So maybe that dragon was indeed still living below the castle? If that was the case, why on Albion was Merlin asking him for advice? Also, what did the dragon call him? 'Young warlock'? And he had called her a 'witch'? So, both he and herself had magic? Maybe she wasn't so alone after all? No, it couldn't be. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on her part, maybe it was just her imagination playing tricks with her mind...
"Good morning, Milady," Gwen said cheerfully, entering her bedroom. "Did you have a good night?"
"Not really," she said, distracted with her thoughts.
"Do you want to have breakfast now? Or would you prefer me to come back later, in an hour or two, so you can get some more rest?"
"Yes, come back later, Gwen, thank you." Morgana felt restless and could not even think about eating. She wanted some more time alone to gather her thoughts. The images of her dream still replaying themselves chaotically in her mind, as she tried to make sense of them.
It was the evening and Morgana was sitting on her bed, trying to read a book. She sighed, it was hard to concentrate because the earlier vision was still haunting her.
Someone knocked on her door.
She got up from the bed and left her book on the nightstand.
"Who is it?" She approached the door.
"It's me, Merlin."
Her stomach lurched. Merlin was at her door. Should she ask him about the dragon? Maybe it was not a good idea. He already knew of her constant nightmares and, despite last night she had confided in him, that she thought the reason behind the fire incident in her room was that she had magic, he didn't seem very convinced about her making sense. If she told him about this last vision of hers, maybe he would think she was crazy.
"You can come in, the door is unlocked," she said, pacing through the room.
Merlin tentatively opened the door and peeked inside. He looked at her, as asking for permission. She nodded, so he entered the chambers and closed the door behind him. He walked calmly towards her and showed her a small vial in his hand.
"Gaius asked me to deliver this."
"I don't need any potion, thank you. Merlin? Ignore what I said last night. I had a nightmare, I was upset." She stepped back away from him.
He followed her and looked unblinkingly at her eyes
"I know. I haven't said anything to anyone."
"I'm sorry. It's usually Gwen who has to deal with me when I'm like this." Maybe it was better not to involve him anymore in all this, he surely thought she was insane.
"I don't mind. Maybe I could help."
He gave her a slight smile.
"I doubt that," she said, shaking her head, disheartened.
"You'd be surprised."
She looked at his eyes.
"I understand. I realize how frightening all this must be for you. Especially for you," he said in a compassionate tone.
"Why especially for me?" she asked. It was not as if she needed his pity.
"You're the King's ward. You know his hatred of magic better than anyone," he explained.
"That's what you think has been happening to me? The dreams. The fire. You think it was magic?!" she snapped.
"I'm not saying that," he said.
"But it could be, couldn't it?" She frowned, a bit exasperated. It was just like the last time. He said he understood her, but when she explained her thoughts, he refused to reassure her, either confirming or denying her suspicions.
"I really wouldn't know, but there are people who do."
"What about the druids? They help people like you."
The druids? Had he just suggested she seek the druids? This could not be a coincidence. He had asked the dragon about the druids in order to help her, and now he was here advising her of the very same thing.
"So, how did you find the druids, Merlin? I thought your friend the dragon wouldn't tell you." She smirked sarcastically.
"How did you know? Err, I mean, what are you talking about, Milady?" His face was suddenly paler than normal and his eyes widened.
"Please, tell me the truth. I can tell you are trying to hide something," she said. "And stop calling me that, my name is Morgana."
He didn't answer, gaping at her, his eyes still widely open.
She snorted, slightly amused at his shock.
"I had a dream, and I saw you talking to the dragon who lives in a cave, below the castle."
"It's only a dream, Morgana."
"No, it's not! In my dream, you asked the dragon where to find the druids in order to help me, and now you are here, suggesting to me the very same thing. It can't be a coincidence. I am not that stupid, you know," she said angrily. She couldn't believe he still tried to insist in his denial.
He looked at her hesitantly for a moment, before releasing a resigned sigh.
"OK, you are right."
Finally! She had managed to make him admit the true. Now she had to make him confess the rest, she thought triumphantly. "All right. We need to talk." She walked towards the table where she usually had her meals." She sat at the table, patting a spot on the nearest chair.
He sat next to her, staring at her while scratching his head, inquisitively.
"So, you have magic," she said matter of factly.
"What?" He gaped at her.
"In my vision, the dragon called you a 'warlock'," she explained.
"Oh, I see," he said, looking at the floor.
"Why didn't you tell me? I mean, we are the same. A witch and a warlock, in a place where magic is not welcomed. We should stick together!" she exclaimed. She could not understand his reluctance to trust her.
"I am sorry, Morgana, I guess you are right." He looked her in the eye again.
"Since when have you had magic?" she asked.
"I don't really know," he said. "I always have had magic for as long as I can remember. My mother always said I was a special kid since I was born."
"Fascinating." Morgana raised her eyebrows and rubbed her chin. "I've had these strange dreams of mine since I was a little girl, and Mordred seemed able to perform magic as well, despite being just a boy." She chewed her lip. "The problem is that I can't control it, and lighting up a fire while dreaming could be dangerous, could you help me with that?" She released a hopeful sigh.
"Maybe," he said tentatively. "I've never taught anyone before, but I can try."
"That would be great!" she said.
He gave her a small smile.
"So, tell me, why were you talking to that dragon?" she asked. She was still curious about what she had seen in her dream.
"He's a friend of sorts, I guess. He told me about my destiny when I arrived Camelot."
"Your destiny? What do you mean?" She was surprised.
"He said it's my destiny to protect Arthur so when he becomes a king we can work together to unite Albion and bring a golden age where magic will be allowed again." he explained pensively.
"Does Arthur know about your magic?"
"No, of course not!" He looked alarmed.
"Well, that's fishy," she thought aloud.
"What do you mean, fishy?" He sounded annoyed.
"You see, Merlin, when I was a small girl, I heard my father, Gorlois, talking about the dragon imprisoned under Camelot's castle. He said the dragon had sworn revenge on Camelot and the Pendragons. So, I don't think he's trustworthy. Why would he send you to help Arthur? Also, I don't understand how you can work together with Arthur to bring back magic when you don't even dare to tell him about your talents. Additionally, for some reason, that damn lizard doesn't seem very fond of me," she said.
"So, do you think he's lying to me?" He raised his eyebrows.
"I don't know. Have you got any independent confirmation about the dragon's words?"
"Well... remember Mordred? He called me Emrys. It seems the druids have some sort of prophecy about me." he said doubtfully, slightly shrugging his shoulders.
"What does this prophecy say exactly?" This was so vague, surely he should know more about something like that, should not he? She felt bewildered at his apathetic lack of research.
"I really don't know." He looked embarrassed.
"We need to investigate that," she said determinedly. "We have to go to see the druids."
"No problem," he said. "I know how to find them -"
"One moment!" she said, raising her hand in alarm. "How did you get that information? I remember the dragon refused to help you."
"Arthur," he said. "He had a list of people suspected of dealing with the druids. He and the knights are arresting people because Uther thinks some wizard is harassing you. I got some names from the list. I warned those persons about the knights pursuing them. They told me where to find the druids, in exchange for my help."
"Then we can't go to the druids now," she said, scared.
"Are you joking? If we go to the druids now we will be putting us and them in peril. It seems Arthur was right, you can be a bit dense sometimes." She shook her head in disbelief.
"Thank you, Morgana," he frowned.
"I didn't mean to offend you, Merlin," she said, slightly pouting her lips and squeezing affectionately his hand. "You are my friend and I need your help."
His forehead relaxed and he stretched his lips into a thin smile. He seemed mollified. Her feminine charm was always useful to fix things with males when she put her foot in her mouth.
"So, will you teach me about magic?" she asked him with a sweet smile.
"I will do my best," he said proudly, slightly raising his chin and using a reassuring tone.
"Thank you. It's late, Gwen must be on her way to help me to get ready for bed, so you better go. See you tomorrow." She kissed his cheek softly.
"Good night, Milady," he said with a blush. He rose from the chair, bowed to her and left quickly.