So many paths that wind and wind…

Disclaimer: Merlin and its characters belong to the BBC.

A/N: This story is co-authored by two huge Merlin fans. The idea came to us when we were on a train from Nice to Paris (just like JKR had the idea for Harry Potter on a train!). Visiting Pierrefonds inspired us even further. We have attempted to follow each of the character's journeys to the end by using some of the spoilers we heard about Season 3, but mostly our own imaginations. We have planned out the entire story from beginning to end which will unfold in roughly 30 chapters, so stick with us and we hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we have writing it! :)

This story is set a year after the events of The Last Dragonlord.


Prologue

"So many gods, so many creeds, so many paths that wind and wind while just the art of being kind is all the sad world needs."

~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox


The sunlight trickled through the branches of the trees, leaving the forest in shadows. A twig snapped, silencing the sounds of the forest. A young boy stepped into the clearing and his icy blue eyes immediately fell on the object that had been calling to him. He moved forward cautiously towards the gigantic egg and he placed his hand on the shell. The voice in his head became clearer than ever before.

"At last, you have come."

And the egg began to crack.


Guinevere walked briskly through the street, clutching a basket with herbs that Gaius had requested. Ever since Morgana had left, Gwen's role had changed considerably in the castle. She was now indispensable to Gaius as his assistant and Gaius often joked that she was much more useful than Merlin anyway. Merlin had little time for anything but helping Arthur with his increased responsibilities.

As she passed the training ground on the way to the castle, her eyes involuntarily searched for the young prince as they always did these days. When her eyes finally found him, he was already looking at her. He smiled at her briefly and then continued to correct Sir Caradoc's stance. She blushed and hurried on.


Two women walked along a dusty road, their cloaks flowing behind them. The fair-haired one lifted her arm and pointed to a man rushing home from work.

"That one."

Morgana closed her eyes and furrowed her brows in concentration. "The man has a wife and two sons. The youngest one is ill," she said after a short pause.

As the man approached his hut, his wife came to greet him with a wailing baby in her arms and a young boy holding her skirts trailed behind her. The man bent over the baby with concern and put his hand on the baby's forehand. He handed the small potion bottle he had been carrying to his wife.

Morgause nodded and took Morgana's hand.

"You are ready, sister."


Arthur continued to watch his knights train, but his thoughts were far away. Uther had commanded him again just this morning to take another search party, this time to the eastern borders, to search for Morgana. Although nearly a year had passed since her disappearance, Uther's resolve to find her had not diminished. Arthur was worried at the toll that Morgana's absence was having on his father. He did not want to give up hope that Morgana would be found, but resources were strained. News had reached Camelot that a large band of magicians had gathered under the banner of Alvarr, a rebel he had encountered before. Arthur knew that his army would have to set out any day now for war and though he was confident in his knights' abilities, he wasn't about to take any chances.

"Pick up the pace and look sharp, you clotpoles!"

Arthur smiled inwardly at the fact that he was now borrowing insults from his servant.


Merlin collapsed on his bed in relief since Arthur had run out of things for him to do and had instead moved on to torturing the knights. He picked up the book that Gaius had given him so long ago and flipped through it though he knew he had mastered every spell in it. He knew that he would have to use not only the spells in this book, but also the spells that he had created himself through experimentation in order to help Arthur defeat Alvarr's armies.

It wasn't just Alvarr that worried him. Truth be told, Merlin was more concerned about stirrings of magic, more powerful than he had ever felt before. His attempts to uncover the source of this magical disturbance in his surroundings had been unfruitful. A part of him wished that he could run down to the dungeons to consult Kilgharrah, who he knew would have the answers.

But this time, he was truly on his own.