Disclaimer: Not my castle, I'm just playing in it.
Pairing(s): eventual Morgana/Merlin, possible Gwen/Arthur or Gwen/Lancelot.
Notes: So, I've read a few royal!Merlin AUs lately and decided I'd like to play with the idea myself. However, the main character of this story is going to be Morgana. This story will also feature Morgana/Gwen bff-ness, a not-dead Balinor, and more dragons besides Kilgharrah, because if there was a kingdom where magic ruled and dragons were welcomed, they probably wouldn't have died out. Now on with the story.
Arthur Pendragon swept his sword up and around in an arc, forcing his opponent's blade out to the side, then slipped in close and smashed his elbow into the other knight's face, knocking him down with the force of his blow. The man's helmet went flying when he hit the ground, exposing an olive-toned face surrounded by a tangle of longish dark hair - a face Arthur knew well. It was Lancelot, leader of the knights of Dagon, Camelot's sworn enemy for the better part of three years.
Kill him, and this can all end tonight. Eliminating the enemy commander would still leave the kingdom of Dagon's unnatural weaponry to contend with, but said weapons would be no use when the army meant to wield them was leaderless.
Arthur planted his foot on the other knight's chest to pin him down and kicked away his dropped sword. The blade glowed blue when Arthur's boot connected with it, giving the young Pendragon an unneeded reminder of exactly why destroying Dagon was so necessary. Magic had permeated that accursed land to its very core, corrupting the kingdom and everyone in it.
Bearing that in mind, Arthur raised his sword to strike a fatal blow, thinking that Lancelot was oddly calm for someone who was about to die. He wasn't even watching Arthur; instead, his eyes were fixed on the blue-black night sky above. Stranger yet, a smile was playing at the corners of his mouth. What the...
Arthur glanced heavenward just in time to see a pair of massive lizard-like shapes gliding in from the west on huge batwings. Dragons! For a while now, there'd been rumors circulating throughout Camelot that Dagon's ruler had some sort of connection with or power over the legendary creatures - rumors which had just been confirmed as fact.
"Look out!" Arthur shouted to his men, but his warning was drowned out by a thunderous roar. It wouldn't have mattered if anyone had heard him; no one could move fast enough to evade the gouts of flame spewing from both dragons' mouths.
Several knights were immediately engulfed, and Arthur watched in horror as his men were roasted inside their own superheated suits of armor. Their foes, on the other hand, didn't seem to be showing any ill effects from the dragon fire; their armor must have been enchanted for heat resistance.
Arthur snatched up a spear dropped by one of Camelot's fallen knights and hurled it at the larger dragon. The weapon soared through the air with deadly accuracy, heading straight for the beast's heart...and then abruptly veered off course. Arthur felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise - it was a windless night except for an occasional feeble puff of a breeze, so that had to be magic.
Sure enough, a man with glowing golden eyes stood behind him, hand upraised. Arthur recognized him immediately - Merlin, son of the dragonlord-king Balinor of Dagon, and a powerful sorcerer in his own right. He was rather lousy with a sword, though.
Emboldened by that knowledge, Arthur charged at Merlin and struck him on the side of his head with the flat of his sword's blade, stunning him. He then flipped the sword over and brought it down on the warlock's neck...or tried to.
Dazed from the blow to the head he'd just taken, Merlin couldn't remember a single spell that might be helpful, couldn't even move fast enough to get out of the way of the blade that was about to sever his head. Luckily his magic was so strong that he didn't always need spells. Next thing he knew, Arthur Pendragon was flying backward . . . and crashing with an earsplitting clang of armor on armor into Lancelot, who had tried to come to Merlin's aid, only to end up pinned underneath Camelot's crown prince. Clumsy idiot! Merlin berated himself. Now Lancelot's probably hurt and it's all my fault!
When Arthur came at him again - after rendering Lancelot unconscious by slamming his head against the ground - Merlin was ready. He magically heated Arthur's sword, forcing him to drop it. Disarmed, Arthur lunged at his enemy and caught the slighter male in a chokehold. "Call off your dragons," he hissed in his ear, "and I may let you live."
Merlin shook his head. He wouldn't become a dragonlord until Balinor died - he couldn't call off the dragons even if he wanted to.
With a growl of frustration, Arthur punched Merlin in the head for the second time that night, knocking him senseless and carelessly dropping his limp form. Much as he'd like to finish him off while he couldn't cheat by using magic, there were more pressing problems - the dragons, for instance. They had been hit multiple times by spears and arrows from those of Camelot's knights who were still standing, but nothing seemed to be hurting the magical creatures.
Magical... Inspiration struck Arthur. He stuck his foot underneath Merlin, flipped him onto his side so that his scabbard was more easily accessible, and relieved the unconscious warlock of his enchanted sword.
The smaller of the two dragons was circling around, swooping down low to flame at a group of knights who had thus far avoided the fire by taking shelter under their shields. Arthur ran toward them, pushing aside a knight who tried to cover him with his shield, and thrust Merlin's sword upward as the dragon dipped down out of the sky. For one heart-stopping moment, Arthur's vision was entirely filled with the beast's iridescent blue-scaled underside, as if the sky had come down on his head; then that unearthly cerulean was pierced by a flash of gold as the magical blade sank deep into the dragon's flesh.
The creature drew back with an earsplitting shriek, beating its wings franticly to pull itself back up into the air, but the damage was done. Blood poured to earth like crimson rain as the dragon rose unsteadily. The other dragon, the bigger golden one, abandoned its attempts at exterminating Camelot's archers and flew toward its fellow, presumably to try to help it somehow, though there was obviously nothing to be done. Another moment and the blue dragon plummeted like a stone.
Men, Camelot's and Dagon's alike, scrambled to get out of the way of the gargantuan falling body. An unlucky few didn't make it and were crushed to death instantly. Sir Leon, Arthur's second-in-command, was almost clipped by one of the dying monster's tail spikes. Arthur shoved him out of harm's way, and the spike came down on him instead.
Pain exploded inside Arthur's mind as his armor and his back were torn open by the spike's sharp edges, his shoulder crushed by its sheer weight. Then everything went dark.
Miles away, in the royal palace of Camelot, the Lady Morgana bolted upright in her bed with a scream. "Arthur! No!"
Sorry for the shortness and lack of Morgana till the very end. This is just a teaser/prologue of sorts to test the water, and it took me long enough to write this much. Battle scenes - not exactly my strongest point, especially when I'm trying to imagine magic vs. conventional weaponry.
I'll update when I can find time. Reviews will encourage me to look for time (hint, hint).