The Last Dragonlord
In a land of Myth and a time of magic,
The destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of two young people,
Merlin and Mira-Liana
Two days had passed since the Great Dragon's death and his son—the Last Dragon—had started ravaging Camelot. In that time, there had been much destruction and pain. During the day, everyone hid themselves and tended to the wounded and grieved for the dead. For the past two nights, they'd fought against the Last Dragon, but their efforts to stop the beast were fruitless.
Although Merlin and Mira-Liana were in no way responsible for what was happening, they still felt some blame and wished they could do more to help. On the third night as the beast wrecked havoc yet again upon Camelot. Arthur and his men fired countless flaming arrows at the Last Dragon, but the beast just fought back with enormous fire of its own.
Due to the need of fresh water, Gwen ran out of the castle and tried to fill a bucket as quickly as she could.
"Gwen! Gwen!" Merlin shouted, as the Last Dragon flew above them. Suddenly the beast flew straight down to them. "GUINEVERE!"
Gwen finally looked up and grabbed her bucket of water and ran for her life with Merlin right behind her.
"Gwen, duck!" Merlin yelled, as he shoved her aside. One of the Dragon's talons managed to injure his shoulder. He bit back a cry of pain as he clutched his wound. The Last Dragon was flying away from them, but he would be back soon. "Gwen, get back inside!"
"Merlin, I can't leave you!"
"Just go, I'll be fine! Go!"
Gwen looked reluctant, but nodded as she ran down back inside.
Mira-Liana caught up with Merlin and was dragging Arthur behind her. Arthur was wounded as well, but he seemed to be ignoring it.
"Here he comes!" said Mira-Liana, as the Dragon flew into sight again. She grabbed Merlin's hand and they enchanted a spear to hit the Dragon, but it did nothing.
"Do not imagine that your petty magic can harm me, Dragon Killers!" he snarled.
"Why are you doing this?" Merlin shouted. "You're killing innocent people!"
But there was no reply and only the sound of the Dragon's wings flapping away into the dark distance.
Back inside, everyone who was wounded was being tended to.
Gwen tended to Merlin's wounds. His shirt was off, revealing just how badly he was hurt. His shoulder wound was deep, but it would heal. He was also scratched and bruised, but he wasn't complaining. His wounds worried Gwen.
"Look at the state of you! You shouldn't be out there when you're like this. You shouldn't have risked your life like that," said Gwen.
Merlin covered her hand, which rested on his wounded shoulder with his own. "I wasn't going to let anything happen to you—either of you." Gwen was expecting their child. She was fine for now, but she needed to do less work and relax a little more.
Gwen just smiled and tenderly kissed Merlin. "I love you," she murmured.
"I love you too," said Merlin.
Mira-Liana was mending Arthur. He'd been hurt getting a family away to safety.
"Do you always have to be such a hero?" asked Mira-Liana, as she tied off the bandage on his injury. "You could've been killed out there."
"Honestly, how many times do I have to tell you, Ana? Nothing could keep me away from you for too long," said Arthur.
Mira-Liana sighed and rested her forehead against Arthur's. "I'm just so worried. Will this ever end?" she whispered. "How much more of this can the people take?"
"Don't worry, love, we'll pull through, I promise. We always do," said Arthur.
"Merlin, Mira, I need to speak with you," said Gaius.
"Stay here," Mira-Liana ordered, as she rose from her place and she joined Gaius where Merlin was sitting and they began to talk.
"Mira, are you injured?" asked Gaius.
"I'm fine," said Mira-Liana.
"Merlin, how badly are you hurt?" asked Gaius.
"It's okay. It's nothing I won't recover from," said Merlin, as he slipped his shirt back on. "This is a disaster. We can't do anything."
"Our magic is no good," said Mira-Liana. "It doesn't work."
"Dragons are monsters. They're creatures of wonder and magic. You must realize they are immune to your powers," said Gaius.
This only made Merlin and Mira-Liana fears grow worse.
Morning eventually came, which granted the people of Camelot some peace from the Dragon's attack, but no comfort. The city was nearing destruction and there would be much to do to repair the city when it was all over.
Arthur recorded the recent events as per Uther's instruction. "The dead number forty-nine men, twenty-seven women and a further eighteen children and women are unaccounted for. Most of last night's fires are now out. The castle walls, the west sections could collapse if there's more destruction aimed at them."
"Do we have any further idea about what happened to the Dragon that vanished or how this one escaped our notice for all these years?" asked Uther.
"I regret to say, Sire, that we don't," said Sir Leon.
Uther looked troubled. "There must be some way to rid us of this aberration." He looked around the room, but no one said a word. "Gaius?"
Gaius hesitated, but then said, "We'd need a Dragonlord, Sire."
"You know very well that's not an option," said Uther.
"Sire, what if…what if there was one last Dragonlord left?" asked Gaius.
"That's impossible," said Uther, dismissively.
"But what if there was?" Gaius persisted.
Uther froze and then focused his gaze on Gaius. "What're you saying?"
"It may just be rumor…"
"I'm not exactly sure, but I think his name is Balinor."
"Balinor," Uther repeated.
"Where does he live?" asked Arthur.
"He was last seen in Sentrid's kingdom, near the bordered town of Ingid, but that was many years ago."
"If this man still exists, then it is our duty to find him," said Arthur.
"Our treaty with Sentrid no longer holds. We are at war," said Uther. "If they discovered you beyond our border, they would kill you."
"I will go regardless," said Arthur.
"No!" said Uther. "Arthur, it is too dangerous."
"More dangerous than staying here?" Arthur shot back. "I'll not stand by and watch my people died, not while I can save them!"
"I've given you my orders!" said Uther.
"Do not make this a test of wills, Father," said Arthur.
"I'm not talking to you as a father, I'm talking to you as a King!"
Arthur just sighed. "I will ride immediately."
"My concern is for you," said Uther.
"My concern is for Camelot and for my family," said Arthur. "I'll send word when I've found him."
After making arrangements for Amora, Merrick and Gwen to be watched over by Frik, Mordred and Morgana; Merlin and Mira-Liana set to work on packing and preparing for the trip. Hunith, who had been staying in Camelot since she was sent for sometime ago; and Gaius both seemed anxious and concerned.
"So, who were the Dragonlords?" asked Mira-Liana, as she refilled her bag of medical supplies.
"They were once people who could talk to the dragons, tame them," said Gaius.
"What happened to them?" asked Merlin.
"Uther believed the art of the Dragonlord was too close to the work of magic. So, he had them all rounded up and executed," said Gaius.
"But one survived," said Mira-Liana. "How did you know about him?"
"I helped him escape," said Gaius.
"Why am I not surprised?" asked Merlin.
"Merlin, Mira," said Hunith, speaking at last. "There's something I need to tell you about Balinor."
"What?" asked Mira-Liana.
"I knew Balinor. I took him in when he was running from Uther," said Hunith.
"You stood up against Uther?" asked Merlin.
"Yes, I did. And when Uther discovered where Balinor was, he sent Knights to Elador to hunt Balinor down," said Hunith. "He was forced to flee."
"Why didn't you ever tell us about this?" asked Mira-Liana.
"Because I never knew how to tell you and I wanted to protect you," said Hunith.
"Protect us from what?" asked Merlin.
"I've always treated you as my own son and daughter," said Gaius. "But that is not what you are."
"We know that. What're you getting at?" asked Mira-Liana, growing concerned.
"Don't blame Gaius for this," said Hunith. "I made him swear not to tell you until you were ready."
"Ready for what?" asked Merlin.
"Merlin, Mira-Liana…the man you're going to look for, is your father," said Hunith.
The twins were shocked and let out gasps as they tried to speak. They were heartbroken and angry. Balinor, the last of the Dragonlords was their father? That was where their powers had come from? How could Hunith and Gaius have kept this from them for so long?
"Our father?" said Mira-Liana, after a moment.
"Yes," said Gaius.
"He was a Dragonlord?" said Merlin. "Why didn't you ever tell us about this?"
"Dears, I wanted to, but I feared it might be too dangerous," said Hunith.
"Mother, you still should've told us!" said Mira-Liana. "We had a right to know."
"I only wanted to protect you," said Hunith.
"As did I," said Gaius.
"We understand that, but you still should've told us the truth," said Mira-Liana.
"I know," said Hunith, softly. "Are you angry with us?"
"No," said Merlin. "We're just confused."
Merlin and Mira-Liana were lost. They'd been told that they were creatures of the Old Religion, a powerful witch and warlock called Emrys and Emrysa, and kin of the Dragon, and now they were the children of the last Dragonlord. Who and what were they truly?
"Did he know about us before he left?" asked Mira-Liana.
"No. I didn't even know myself until after he was gone," said Hunith.
"Alright," said Merlin.
Merlin and Mira-Liana pushed aside their emotions as they hugged their mother and uncle.
"You watch yourselves until we get back," said Mira-Liana. "Stay safe. If you need anything, just get Frik or Mordred."
"We will," said Hunith. "You two take care of yourselves and keep each other safe."
"Have you two got everything?" asked Gaius.
"Yes, we do," said Merlin. He slung his bag over his shoulder, trying not to wince as his shoulder wound ached. "Come on, Mir. Arthur's waiting for us."
Mira-Liana nodded and followed her brother out of the room.
They finished saddling up their horses just as Gwen came out and hugged Merlin tight. "You come back to me, safely," she whispered.
"I will, I promise," said Merlin. He kissed her. "I love you both, so much."
"I love you too."
They kissed once more and then Merlin waved good-bye as he rode off with Arthur and Mira-Liana.
The trio rode off deep into the woods until they came to the next kingdom. By the time they reached the village, it was dark and pouring rain.
They entered an inn with several large and laughing men, who all fell silent at the arrival of Arthur, Merlin and Mira-Liana. The trio ignored this as they got some hot drinks and food, and spoke to the innkeeper.
"So, what brings the likes of you here?" the innkeeper asked.
"We're looking for a man named Balinor," said Arthur. He placed a pouch of coins onto the table. "We're willing to pay, handsomely."
The barman just shook his head. "I've never heard of him." And then he walked off.
"You think one of these men is Balinor?" asked Merlin.
"I hope not," said Arthur.
"So do we," said Mira-Liana, as she sat down beside them. "I've had a word with those in charge. They've only got one room left, but it's got two beds. We'll have to stay here tonight."
"Fine," said Arthur.
After finishing their drinks and food, they went to bed. Mira-Liana noticed Merlin was wincing from his shoulder wound and it didn't look well.
"Merlin, are you alright?" asked Mira-Liana. "Let me see that."
Merlin didn't argue with her as she replaced his bandage, fixed up his wound a little more and then used a spell to numb up the pain. That was much better.
Thanks, Mir, said Merlin.
Anything for my brother, said Mira-Liana, as she kissed his head. If your wound acts up again, tell me. It's bad enough Arthur tries to ignore his own injuries, I don't want you doing the same.
Alright, alright, I won't, said Merlin.
"What is wrong with you two?" said Arthur, breaking the silence.
"What do you mean?" asked Mira-Liana.
"You know what I mean. You two have barely said a word since we left. I do enjoy hearing the sound of my brother-in-law and my wife talking to me. This silence is practically deafening. So, talk to me. What's bothering you?"
"It's nothing," said Merlin, not wanting to tell unless Mira-Liana did so first.
"It's something. So, tell me," said Arthur. "I'm asking because I care. I can't help you if I don't know what's wrong."
Mira-Liana sighed. "Nothing's wrong, we just…we've found out that Balinor is our father."
Arthur sat up straight. "What?"
"Balinor's our father," Merlin repeated.
"He's your father?" said Arthur, shocked. "You're kin of the last Dragonlord?"
"Apparently so," said Mira-Liana.
"Oh, good grief," said Arthur. "Does he know?"
"No," said Merlin. "He left before our mother even knew."
"I'm sorry," said Arthur.
"It's not your fault," said Mira-Liana, as she snuggled closer to Arthur. "Come on, we need to sleep."
That same night, a man snuck in and tried to steal their money but soon found himself with Arthur's blade at his throat and enchanted ropes binding his wrists and feet.
"Do you know what the penalty is for theft?" asked Arthur.
"Please, I've got children to feed!"
"Tell us where to find Balinor!" said Merlin.
"Do you know him?" asked Mira-Liana.
Arthur pressed his knife a little harder. "I believe the nice lady asked you a question. Tell us the truth, now," he ordered. "Do you value your life? Do you know where he lives?"
The man nodded. "He was traveling through the Forests of Mirindin, to the mountains. There you will find the caves where Balinor lives."
The trio exchanged looks and then Arthur removed his blade and the ropes came off.
"Just don't get your hopes up."
"Why?" asked Merlin.
"He will not welcome you. Balinor hates everyone and everything. The cave's the best place for him."
"Get out!" Mira-Liana yelled.
The man did as she asked and when morning came, they set out again. Merlin's wound was fine, but Arthur was wincing as he moved his arm a little.
"Are you alright?" asked Merlin.
"I'm fine," said Arthur.
"No, you're not. Your wound's acting up, isn't it?" asked Mira-Liana. "Let me take a look at it."
Arthur tried to protest, but Mira-Liana gave him such a look that he kept quiet. She'd just barely glanced at it when Merlin pushed them both down.
"Keep down. There's someone here!" he hissed.
"It's Sentrid's men," Mira-Liana whispered, as she peered from their hiding place. She turned to Arthur, who'd been quiet. "Arthur? Arthur!"
But he didn't wake up. He was still alive, but he'd succumbed to his injury. Mira-Liana was terribly low on medical supplies, having only taken a small amount due to Camelot's needs being greater. She bit her lip in worry as she and Merlin got him onto his horse and rode off, hoping that Balinor would help.
They eventually found the caves where Balinor was supposed to be at.
"This is it," said Merlin. Then he called out, "Hello?"
But no one replied. They wandered the cave. There was next to no light, but they found signs that someone was living there.
Suddenly, they were both grabbed from behind and a voice hissed, "What do you want here, you two?"
"Let us go!" said Mira-Liana. "Please, my husband's sick. He needs help. I'm nearly out of supplies."
They were released and then when they turned around, they came face-to-face with a middle-aged man with long black hair and beard that was graying. His eyes seemed sad and he looked as if he'd had a hard life.
"Show me your husband is. Fetch him," he said. "And I think I'd better have a look at your friend here."
Merlin was wincing again and he was starting to look pale.
"Actually, he's my twin brother," said Mira-Liana, as she brought Arthur in.
"I'm going to need your help," he said. "I can only do so much on my own."
"Yes, of course," said Mira-Liana.
For the next couple of hours, they tended to Merlin and Arthur's wounds. Arthur remained unconscious, but he and Merlin showed signs of recovery. Merlin and Mira-Liana said nothing about his little incantation that he muttered while he worked.
He then rose from where he'd been sitting and said to Mira-Liana, "They both need to rest. They'll be fine by morning."
"Thank you," said Merlin.
"This means a great to us," said Mira-Liana.
The man just nodded and then scooped them some of the food that had been cooking. They ate in silence for a while until Merlin said, "It's good. How long have you lived here?"
"A few winters," the man said.
"It must be hard," said Mira-Liana, softly.
"Why are you here?" he asked, sharply.
"Just traveling," said Merlin. "We're looking for someone."
"We were told—or rather, they said that he was somewhere hereabouts," said Mira-Liana. "A man named Balinor."
"Have you ever heard of him?" asked Merlin. "He was a Dragonlord."
"He's passed on."
"Did you know him?" asked Mira-Liana.
"Who—are—you?" he demanded.
The twins hesitated, slightly taken aback by the man's anger.
"I'm just Merlin. This is my twin sister, Mira-Liana."
"And who's he?" he demanded, pointing to Arthur.
"He's my husband," said Mira-Liana, softly.
"I mean his name!"
"His name is…" Merlin's voice wandered off.
"His name is Arthur Pendragon!" he snarled. "He's Uther's son! And the two of you are his wife and Advisor!"
"Yes," said Mira-Liana.
"This is Sentrid's kingdom! He's asking for trouble! What do you want from me?"
"Are you Balinor?" asked Merlin.
He didn't reply and they began to feel desperate.
"The Great Dragon had a son. He only told us this after he died. His son, the Last Dragon, is attacking Camelot," said Mira-Liana.
"The Great Dragon's son will have taken on his father's name of Kilgarrah."
"We can't stop him," said Merlin. "Only you, a Dragonlord, can."
"He doesn't act blindly. He kills for a reason, vengeance. This is of Uther's making."
"Uther has nothing to do with it. The Dragon blames us for what happened to his father. He called us Dragon Killers," said Mira-Liana.
"Did you kill his father?"
"No!" said Merlin. "We released his father into the stars because it was his dying wish. He was dying of old age. We wouldn't have killed him. He was our friend."
"I see. You did him a great favor."
"Is that all you can say?" said Mira-Liana. "The father is freed, but the son is killing innocent people, women and children, and—"
"Uther pursued me!" he interrupted, sounding angry. "He hunted me like an animal!"
"We know," said Merlin.
"What do you know of anybody's life?" He stood up and then faced them. "Uther had me use my power to bring the Dragon's father into Camelot; he said he wanted to make peace with it. But he did not! He lied to me, he betrayed me! The Dragon asked me to hide its egg just in case Uther was lying and it was right! And you would ask me to protect this man?"
"We're asking you to protect Camelot!" said Mira-Liana.
"Uther killed everyone of my kind! I alone escaped!"
"Where did you go?" asked Merlin.
Balinor looked sad as he said, "It was a place called Elador. I had a life there with a woman, a good woman. Elador is beyond Uther's realm, but still he pursued me. Why would he not let me be? What was it that I had done, that he wanted to destroy the life I had built and the woman I loved? He sent Knights to kill me. I was forced to come here, to this! So, I understand how Kilgarrah feels. He's lost every single one of his kind, every one of his kin. Do you want to know how that feels? Look around you two. Let Uther die and Camelot fall."
"Everyone in Camelot will die!" said Mira-Liana, trying not to cry.
"Why should I care?" he snapped.
"What if some of them were your son, daughter, or grandchildren?" asked Merlin.
Balinor glared at them. "I have no son or daughter," he hissed. "Nor grandchildren."
But you do! Mira-Liana wanted to shout, but did not. Balinor was not alone. He was Merlin and Mira-Liana's father, Amora and Merrick's grandfather and he was grandfather of Gwen and Merlin's unborn child.
"What if we said—" Mira-Liana began, but she was cut off by Arthur's moan for her. She was at his side within seconds. She took his hand and stroked his hair. "Shh, I'm here, love. Just sleep."
"You three can stay here until morning. But I want you off by then," said Balinor.
"As you wish," said Merlin.
Balinor left them alone and then Mira-Liana and Merlin began to talk.
What're we going to do? He won't help us, said Mira-Liana.
Should we tell him about us? asked Merlin.
And have him come to Camelot out of guilt and reluctance? Can we really ask that of him? said Mira-Liana.
Maybe he just needs to think it over. We'll try again in the morning, said Merlin, as he squeezed her hand. Get some sleep, Mir. I'll be right beside you.
Mira-Liana nodded and then they fell asleep, holding each other's hands.
Morning came quickly.
The twins watched Balinor stand by himself far from the mouth of the cave. They sat in silence, unsure as to what to do. Arthur then came out, in fit condition once more.
"I feel great. What on earth did you do to me?" he asked.
"It wasn't really us. It was more of Balinor," said Mira-Liana.
"So, we've found him, then?" said Arthur. "Thank heavens for that."
"Doesn't mean he's willing to help," said Merlin.
"What?" said Arthur, surprised.
"We can't persuade him," said Mira-Liana. "We've already tried talking to him."
"I don't believe this. Doesn't he know what's at stake? About you two?"
"He knows what's at stake, but he doesn't know about us," said Merlin. "As for the stakes, well, he just doesn't care. He's angry, mostly at Uther."
"Typical. My father's really messed things up for us, hasn't he?" said Arthur.
"Looks that way," said Mira-Liana.
"Great," said Arthur. "I just don't understand any of this. What kind of a man is Balinor?"
"We don't know," said Merlin. "But we thought he'd be something more."
Back in Camelot, everyone was trying to mend the damage caused by the Dragon. Gwen watched with great sadness from the balcony. Her hand stroked her swollen stomach where her and Merlin's baby lay and she still held Merlin's spare red scarf. She was worried. She was worried for Camelot, for herself, and for her family.
Gaius came up to her. "You missing Merlin?"
"Yes," she said, nodding. "I'm scared for him."
"You can relax. Merlin's a strong warlock and he's got every reason to come back. He'll be fine."
"So, you really think he and Mira-Liana and Arthur are safe?" asked Gwen.
"I've always had great faith in him and Mira-Liana. They'll return safely," said Gaius, gently.
"I hope so," said Gwen.
Gaius squeezed her shoulder and then hugged her in a fatherly way, which gave Gwen some comfort.
Merlin, please come home soon, she silently prayed. I miss you.
Merlin and Mira-Liana were waiting outside Balinor's cave. Arthur had decided to try and convince him to help once more, but didn't reveal Merlin and Mira-Liana's connection to him at their request. He came out looking defeated.
"It didn't go well, did it?" asked Merlin.
"Not exactly, no," said Arthur.
Balinor came to them. "Farewell then," he said, as he walked off.
"That's your decision, then?" said Arthur.
"I will not help Uther," said Balinor, sternly.
"Then the people of Camelot are condemned!" said Arthur.
"Then so be it!" said Balinor.
"Have you no conscious?" said Arthur, angrily.
Balinor glared at him. "You should ask that question of your father!" he spat.
"Then you're no better than him!" said Merlin, feeling angry.
Balinor said nothing, but continued walking off.
"Gaius spoke of the nobility of the Dragonlords!" said Mira-Liana. "Clearly, he was wrong!"
These words froze Balinor in his steps and he turned to look at them. "Gaius?" he repeated.
"Yes," said Mira-Liana.
"He's a good man," said Balinor.
"One of the best," said Merlin. "We were hoping you'd be like him. But I guess we were wrong to hope for that, weren't we?"
Without waiting for a reply, the twins rode off with Arthur and made camp somewhere in the woods. Merlin and Mira-Liana's hearts were heavy as they thought of their father and how disappointed they were. Had their hopes been too high?
"I'm sorry," said Arthur, breaking the silence. "I wish I could've made things better back there."
"You did what you could. Balinor's made up his mind," said Mira-Liana.
"It's not your fault," said Merlin.
"I know, but still," said Arthur. "You two drive me mad sometimes, you know that? You talk almost all the time, and then you don't and it still drives me crazy. You're both riddles."
"Is there a reason you said all that?" asked Merlin.
"Yeah, to make you laugh. I have seen a smile on either of your faces for a while. I miss it," said Arthur.
"Well, you got what you wanted," said Mira-Liana, chuckling.
"Shh!" said Arthur, as he grabbed his sword.
"What's wrong?" asked Merlin.
"Someone's here!" Arthur hissed.
They looked around and then Mira-Liana found herself holding her blade at Balinor who just smiled as she lowered it.
"Careful, dear girl," he said. "I thought you might need some help. This is dangerous country."
"So, you'll return to Camelot with us?" said Mira-Liana.
He nodded. "You were right, Merlin, Mira-Liana. There are some in Camelot who risked their lives for me. There's an old debt that must be repaid."
"I don't suppose it'd do any good to say that if you succeed in killing the Dragon, you'll not go unrewarded?" asked Arthur.
Balinor shook his head. "I seek no reward. Only my freedom."
"Then, I promise I'll do all that I can to secure you of that," said Arthur.
"Thank you," said Balinor.
"Arthur, why don't you see if you can find us something to eat? We'll get some firewood," said Merlin.
"Sure," said Arthur, catching the hint. "Take your time."
Balinor, Merlin and Mira-Liana set about their job and picked up a great deal of wood. Merlin frowned at the dampness.
"Think the wood's too wet?" he said.
"Don't worry, I'm sure we'll find a way to make it light," said Balinor.
"When you helped heal Arthur and Merlin, we heard you mumble some words," said Mira-Liana.
"It was an ancient prayer," said Balinor.
"We thought it might've been more than that," said Merlin.
"The Old Religion can teach us many things."
"The Old Religion, was that something you were taught?" asked Mira-Liana.
Balinor shook his head. "It's not something you can learn. Either it's a part of you or it isn't. My parents knew that and their parents before them. But I suspect you two already know something about the Old Religion. How else could you have released that Dragon into the stars?"
"You're right, we do. But we know very little," said Merlin. "Your kin, were they also Dragonlords?"
"We'll need some kindling," said Balinor, avoiding the question.
"In the cave, you spoke of Elador," said Merlin. "Where you took refuge with a woman."
"That was a long time ago."
"We grew up there," said Mira-Liana.
"In Elador?" said Balinor.
"Yes," said Merlin. "We know the woman."
"Hunith?" said Balinor, his eyes full of hope. "She's still alive."
"Yes," said Mira-Liana. "She's our mother."
Balinor looked disappointed. "She found someone else. That's good."
"She never found anyone else," said Merlin.
Balinor froze. "What're you saying?"
"We're saying that you do have children and grandchildren," said Mira-Liana. A few tears trickled down her cheek. "Merlin and I…we're your son and daughter."
There was silence between the three of them. Balinor looked shocked and happy all at the same time. "My children," he murmured. "But I don't know what it is to have children."
"Well, we barely know what it's like to have a father," said Merlin.
It became too much for them to bear, and soon the three of them were in a tight embrace, crying. When they finally let go, Balinor looked at Arthur who was bringing back a catch to camp.
"Does Arthur know about your powers, about us?" he asked.
"Yes, he knows," said Mira-Liana. "He's nothing like Uther, I swear it. He's kept our secret from his father for a long time now. He won't harm you. He's going to give us some space.
"Good," said Balinor.
Arthur gave them plenty of space and answered all of Balinor's questions—a father had the right to know of his daughter's husband—and things were peaceful between the four of them. Mira-Liana ended up using a spell to make Arthur sleep so he wouldn't strain his wound again and then she and Merlin sat alone with their father, just talking.
Balinor seemed glad that his family had led somewhat happy and peaceful lives. He was patient and gentle, not like what they'd first come across in the caves.
After a few moments, Merlin asked, "Why you never return?"
Balinor sighed. "I thought Hunith's life would be better without me."
"Because of Uther?" said Mira-Liana.
"Exactly. Uther wanted me dead. If he'd found me, he would've killed me and your mother. I wanted her to be safe," said Balinor.
"We could've come with you," said Merlin.
"And what kind of a life would you have had here?" he asked, skeptically.
"A happy one and one with a father," said Mira-Liana.
"When this is over, you can see Mother again and go off with her. She's in Camelot," said Merlin.
Balinor smiled a little, but then shook his head. "She won't recognize me."
"You don't know that," said Mira-Liana. "I know she's missed you."
Balinor sighed again. "I see so much of your mother in you both. You have her heart, her kindness."
"Thank you," said Merlin. "How did you become a Dragonlord?"
"I didn't choose to become a Dragonlord. It's not something you're taught. It's a sacred gift. For thousands of years, it's been passed down from father to child. And now the two of you must become a Dragonlord and a Dragonlady, Merlin, Mira-Liana."
"How will we know when we are?" asked Mira-Liana.
"Like all before you, you won't know for sure if you have that power until you've faced first dragon."
"Enough of this. Tell me more of your lives," said Balinor. "Merlin, how did you find your Gwen and what are my grandchildren like?"
They told him and when they were finished, he was laughing. "I should've expected this. Trouble always follows my line." He sighed for the third time. "Get some sleep. We've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow. Good-night, my children."
The twins smiled.
"Sleep well, Father," said Merlin.
When morning came, there were two small models of dragons beside Merlin and Mira-Liana. They smiled as they knew who had given them these things. But they had no time to dwell on their gifts as they were attacked by Sentrid's men.
The four of them fought back bravely, but then Merlin and Mira-Liana were held at knifepoint by some of the men who were about to destroy them, but Balinor came between them and sacrificed himself for them. Merlin and Mira-Liana let out angry cries and sent their attackers away as they lowered Balinor to the ground.
They held Balinor in their arms.
"Ah, I see you have your father's talent," he said. "Merlin, Mira…"
"Just hang on. We're going to save you," said Mira-Liana.
"Listen to me, when you face the Dragon, remember to be strong. A dragon's heart is on its right side, not its left."
"We can't do it!" said Merlin.
"Listen to me! You're my son and daughter. I know enough of you to know that I'm proud and I always will be. I love you both so much."
"We love you too, Father," said Mira-Liana, as tears streamed down her face.
Balinor touched their faces before his eyes then closed and he was gone. The twins grieved a great deal as they gave him a funeral pyre and scattered his ashes in the stream near the cave where he had lived for so many years. It was truly a mournful day.
When they came back to Camelot, Uther did not take the news of Balinor's death well. Without Balinor, what hope did Camelot have? But he reluctantly allowed Arthur to ride out with a dozen Knights to fight the Dragon at Arthur's request.
Mira-Liana had received comfort from Arthur after Balinor's funeral but then requested some time alone with Merlin. It broke Arthur's heart to see Mira-Liana so upset, but there was little he could do except offer comfort.
When Merlin came to her chambers, they both broke down and ended up holding each other close on the bed. They had never needed each other so badly until that moment. Their father was gone. They'd had a father for a day and it had taken less than that to lose him.
Gaius and Hunith eventually came to see them.
"Merlin, Mira-Liana, what happened?" Hunith asked.
"He sacrificed himself for us. We couldn't save him." said Mira-Liana. "We failed."
"No, you didn't," said Hunith, gently. "You did all you could."
"We should've been able to do more! He said that a Dragonlord's power is passed from father to child, but when we faced the Dragon, our magic was useless," said Merlin.
"Your father wasn't dead," said Gaius, gently. "It's only then that you can inherit his powers."
"Do you think we're strong enough to face him?" asked Mira-Liana.
"I do," said Gaius.
Despite Arthur's protests and willingness to let them stay behind, given what they'd just lost, Merlin and Mira-Liana refused to leave Arthur to face the Dragon without them. It was their duty to Camelot, to themselves and to their father to end this. But Arthur also admitted that there was no one else he'd rather have at his side than them.
That night, they prepared to fight. The Dragon flew into sight and then attacked them in the center of a field. It quickly defeated the Knights and knocked Arthur unconscious before it growled at the twins.
The twins could hear their father's words and then they felt a surge of power rush through them as they aimed their ice-blue gaze at the beast.
"DRAGON!" they shouted. They incanted the ancient words which made the Dragon obey them and see the truth about his father's death. They spoke to it as kin and they knew what his father had meant all that time ago.
The Dragon bowed its head and was at their mercy. For a moment they didn't know what to do. Letting it go could prove a mistake, but it was the last wish of its father and such a death would upset the balance. It was then that they realized something—the dragon was merely grieving for the father it would never know, just like they were.
"Because it was the last will of your father and we share your grief, we'll spare you!" said Mira-Liana.
"But if you ever attack Camelot again, we will kill you!" said Merlin. "We have shown you mercy! Now you must do the same for others!"
"Young witch and warlock, what you have shown is what you will be. I'll not forget this act of clemency nor forget the honor you bestowed upon my father. Perhaps one day, our paths will cross again." And with that, the Dragon flew off into the distance.
Arthur then woke up. "What happened?" he asked.
"The Dragon's gone," said Merlin.
"It's over," said Mira-Liana. "That's the end of it. We'll say that you dealt the beast a mortal blow if anyone asks."
Arthur looked relieved and started laughing hysterically as he got up and hugged them both before they walked back to Camelot. The people greeted them like heroes and Gwen kissed Merlin the minute she saw him. Gaius and Hunith also embraced the twins, happy to see that they were alive.
"We felt him there with us," said Mira-Liana.
"Your father will always be with you," said Hunith.
"I know I can never compare with your father, you two, but you've still got me," said Gaius.
"And we're glad of that," said Merlin.
Repairs were well underway after the attack and although there was still some mourning for those lost, there was also a little celebration for the return of peace to the kingdom. The Royal Family was also very grateful to still have one another. Gwen and Merlin eventually had twins. A son that they named Thomas Balinor in honor of both their fathers and a daughter named Dawn Lily who was as beautiful as her mother.
Mira-Liana and Arthur spent even more time with their children, silently vowing that they would always be there to protect and love their beloved babies. Late one night, Merlin and Mira-Liana watched the starry night sky from each of their parts of their castle and pondered all that had occurred.
They missed Balinor a great deal and always would, but somehow the pain seemed easier. What little they remembered of him would always remain in their hearts and he survived through them and through their own children.
Our father is alive within us and our kin. He'll never truly be gone, said Merlin.
I know, said Mira-Liana. She gazed at the Great Dragon's form in the stars and could've sworn she felt her father's presence near her. She ceased gazing at the stars when she felt Arthur's arms wrap around her and she kissed him. No matter what, they would never be alone and Balinor would always be remembered what he was—a Dragonlord and a father.