TITLE: Solus et Fidelis

AUTHOR: Inukshuk

SPOILERS: None

DISCLAIMER: The characters and situations of the television program "Merlin" are the creations and property of Others, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

FEEDBACK: yes please … writers need food

Solus et Fidelis

Chapter 1

Geraint Wyndym had a secret.

Geraint started out life humbly enough. A family of farmers, the Wyndym Clan found themselves in the middle of a feud they could not avoid and where neutrality was not an option. Caught in the cross-fire, the family was decimated by the feudal fighting. The eventual war caused the remaining few to flee who did so without notice. They lost land, position and all possessions and Geraint – the youngest at twelve - became separated from kin. When the opportunity presented itself – meaning – when there remained no other choice to earn honest money and be fed with regularity – Geraint joined an army. A foot soldier at first, Geraint displayed an aptitude for battle which could have been simple self-interest survival. Gradually, as battles were fought, Geraint used opportunity as an ally. Why not swap the current sword for one that was better suited – perhaps a better steel or keener balance in the hand - from the hands of a dead enemy? Improvement was never greedy or disrespectful of the dead, never wasteful but always deliberate. Spoils of war were rights conferred upon the victorious. In Geraint's case, the victor earned a fine sword, two dirks (one worn in belt, the other sheathed in boot), a set of armour only slightly too big and a horse with an excellent saddle.

It was a nomadic existence but it was a living; there was pay, shelter, food, and above all a point to life. Geraint's early display of inclination earned attention from those that saw potential. Teachers emerged. Some likely. Some unlikely. All of them offered knowledge and the full wealth of their experience. One taught Geraint how to read words. Another how to read men. A third how to read battlefields. Geraint witnessed corruption, incompetence and stifling ego and began to appreciate the value of these opposites in leaders.

Geraint Wyndym journeyed far and wide. One day around a low campfire after darkness had set in came they began talking in whispers of a distant land called Camelot. The King – they said – cared deeply about his people yet he played no favourites. Magic was forever banned; a tragedy from long ago that never mended. The letter of the law had meaning and substance and applied equally to all. The land was bountiful, the climate temperate, the people happy. Geraint Wyndym wondered at such a place where order and grace reigned. Setting out for Camelot, Geraint used the military as a means of travel. Once arrived at Camelot, Geraint Wyndym realized they valued a good, hardworking soldier and landed a position. Over the course of successive campaigns, Geraint was promoted through the general ranks until one day, the King sent a summons.

King Uthor Pendragon had stood at the centre of court, feet planted apart and strong – as if he were an oak – at once rooted and filling the sky with expanse. His crown sat straight across his brow, brilliant scarlet robes flowing from his broad shoulders. Gloved fists rested on powerful hips and a gaze met Geraint Wyndym that seemed to see past mortal flesh into one's soul. This King's presence was a palpable force. He exuded a regal authority that defied disobedience. He commanded order through his absolute power as king yet his first words to Geraint Wyndym were gentle and understated.

"I understand you are not from Camelot yet have acquitted yourself admirably on our behalf." The King did not rush his words. Everyone listened to the tenor of his speech that echoed the gravelled growl of a dragon. "I wish to confer upon you permanent rank and standing in our Second Platoon."

"Thank you, my liege. It is my great honour to serve you."

"Come," the King had stood aside and held out a hand to show the way, "I wish to hear about your role in the Battle of Seven Points. How did you accomplish victory under such dire circumstances? You are a man of many talents..."

The King had not noticed nor shown the slightest flicker of recognition of any secret. Geraint Wyndym eased and followed, finding the King erudite, interested and with a profound grasp of warfare.

Men saw what they wanted to see. Men saw what they expected to see. Men saw what they were coaxed to see. Geraint Wyndym learned this early and exploited man's natural desire for illusion and comfort with the familiar. It was in this discovery that Geraint buried the secret that would destroy everything and, if discovered, would lead to certain banishment or even death.

Geraint Wyndym was a woman.