Disclaimer: I think it's safe to say I don't own Merlin. The only thing I own in this story is Sirs Aldwin, Gerrick, Eadric and Cadmon. And a pretty nasty character Driscoll that you will meet soon.
** This story is a sequel to my one shot To Share A Secret, so you should probably read that first to understand this one fully ** - now on with the show! (Author's note at bottom)
King Cenred felt nothing as he stared down at the shallow grave of his elder brother. The day was an angry grey, heavy rain poured upon the party in the clearing, as if the earth did not want them there- all of the knights looked around warily, twitching at the slightest noise. It had taken a while, but after he heard that the great dragon was defeated, Cenred ordered his best scout to find his brother. He had taken the trip through the woods to confirm it; he had felt like he owed his brother something and that would just not do. The grave looked to be around two years old, but the name etched on the gravestone seemed fresh. 'That would have been the time the dragon was attacking Camelot. Makes sense.' Cenred rested his chin on his gloved knuckles, deep in thought. He knew that no mortal could defeat Kilgarrah, not without a dragonlord. But his brother was lying in the dirt beneath him. His knights looked at him from a far, the few of them kneeling had known the king twenty years ago.
'Unless!-' Cenred's eyes widened and he started to laugh, 'Balinor must have sired a son during the time he was on the run. But he was always a fool, he never would have put people in danger he didn't have to, let alone bring a family into exile. That's the only explanation, he must have passed on his powers to his son, and that's who defeated the dragon.'
His dark eyes roved over the site, Balinor must have been travelling to help Camelot. He had never ceased to amaze Cenred with his sheer stupidity. "Serves you right brother, you and father were always too noble for your own good." Cenred felt a cruel smile form on his face, if he could find out who the last dragonlord was, he would acquire an unstoppable weapon against Camelot. Cenred would find his nephew and persuade him to liberate Camelot. And if the boy was anything like his father, it just meant Cenred would have a little fun. He sneered at ground in front of him, "I hope you are rolling in your grave brother, I will find your son, and I hope he is like you. I will ruin him and gain a lovely weapon in the process." Cenred spat on the grave, "I win Balinor."
Miles away in Camelot, the last dragonlord jolted awake. Merlin ran a hand across his face- that was some nightmare, if only he could remember what it was about. He groaned at the sunlight slapping him in the face. Wait. Sunlight! The warlock shot out of bed and stumbled out of the room. Arthur was going to kill him! He almost got out the door when Gaius' call made him skid to a halt. He looked back impatiently. "You might want to consider changing out of your bed clothes Merlin."
"Ah," he looked down and rushed back to his room. He re emerged five seconds later pulling his red shirt over his head, raven coloured hair sticking out in all directions.
The physician's wrinkled face creased as Gaius smiled indulgently at his ward. He held out an apple as the boy passed.
"What would I do without you Gaius!" Merlin called out, now running for the kitchens to get the prince his breakfast. The old physician merely chuckled to himself and shook his head.
Arthur had about fifteen minutes to make it to the training field.
Golden sunlight embraced the grassy field, warming the brisk morning air. Bright light shone down upon the cluster of knights who were waiting patiently for training to begin. It looked like a scene on a painter's canvas and he hated it. Dark brown eyes squinted disdainfully at the sun; it was far too early in the morning to be standing around in full armour. Sir Aldwin yawned spectacularly. He then turned a heavy glare towards Eadric who snorted at him.
Before the attack two years ago Aldwin had found it hard to abide Eadric's gruff attitude, but it turned out that the only thing you needed to do, to become close friends with someone was to survive fighting a dragon with them- simple really. All of the knights were now a close knit group; Aldwin, Gerrick, Eadric, Cadmon, Leon, their prince, as well as their secret dragonlord, made for a strange troop of friends.
"Oh, sod of Eadric." A trainee knight nearby looked at Eadric nervously upon hearing Aldwin's insult, his eyes widening fearfully at the thunderhead that was the burly knight. Sir Eadric might have been short, but his shoulders could put the prince's to shame and all of a sudden three hundred pounds of pure muscle were glaring fiercely nose to chin with Aldwin. Eadric was on his toes and his head held young trainee backed up, not realizing the amusement glinting in the knight's hazel eyes. Aldwin did, and he was not in the mood, "Gerrick!" he called, retreating hastily away from Eadric, "you wrestle with him." A straw coloured head turned away from three senior knights to eye his two friends.
"But I'm in the middle of telling them a joke! I haven't reached the punch line yet." He turned back to the older knights only to snap his mouth shut upon seeing they had scampered away. Gerrick harrumphed, looking slightly crestfallen. "If only Cad were here," he sighed, "he would have listened to me." Aldwin chuckled at his petulant tone, now almost awake. Eadric sauntered over and pulled Gerrick down into a headlock, "Don't worry! He and Sir Leon will be back before you know it!" The trapped man tried to manoeuvre his hands to cover his ears. Everything Eadric did, he had to do loud.
It was well known among the knights that only two people could listen to Gerrick's never ending tirade of jokes, Cadmon was one of them, Leon was learning but it was an art that required the utmost discipline and patience. Merlin was the other, in fact he could outlast Sir Cadmon because the servant actually enjoyed them. Many a strange look was sent their way as the two would be sniggering together on hunting trips or patrols. Sir Cadmon and Sir Leon were in a council with the king, and Sir Aldwin almost felt sorry for them- going over taxes would never be an engaging topic.
Speaking of the dark haired servant, he and the prince were walking towards the training field now. Eadric promptly released a loudly protesting Gerrick from a noogie and snapped to attention along with the rest of the knights. Gerrick followed after not so subtly elbowing the other man on the shoulder. They shared an amused look and Sir Aldwin suppressed a smirk of his own upon seeing Merlin and Prince Arthur's faces. Merlin must have been running late if his bare neck was anything to go by. Frustration was apparent on the Prince's face as he stalked closer to them and many of the knights stood straighter. He growled something at Merlin who was hurrying along paces behind him and shot a few words right back to the blonde haired man. The boy had his own look of irritation beneath his dishevelled hair and a definite obstinate glint in his sea blue eyes. Arthur's face adopted a red tinge but somehow looked dignified as he stomped the rest of the way. It seemed like he got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.
"Alright men! Get into pairs and we will start with practicing swords, maces, and quarterstaffs. Sir Aldwin, you're with me. Sir Eadric you get Merlin. Maces first!" Arthur bellowed. Merlin gulped but looking unsurprised, made his way to the gleeful looking knight. Gerrick beamed at Merlin and said quietly, "You can take him my lord!" He sprang off ignoring the baleful glower sent his way. Gerrick had taken to calling Merlin my lord ever since the dragon attack; Merlin blamed Arthur, he still remembered the conversation: You know Merlin," Arthur intoned thoughtfully. Merlin glanced at him warily, that look was never good. "Your father was a dragonlord." Dark brows drew together, both of them knew this was a delicate subject and why was Arthur stating the obvious? "Think about it Merlin, a dragonlord. A lord. You are the son of a dragonlord." Arthur spoke as if talking to a small child and raised his eyebrows pointedly.
Gerrick had seized it, and it never failed to summon a surly pout from the boy. Arthur strode toward the resigned but now fully awake Sir Aldwin. 'This is going to be a long morning,' he thought sadly.
Patience was not a value Cenred could ever claim to have. His fingers tapped an incessant beat upon the throne, his other hand gripping a coin purse. There would have been pacing if not for the cold gaze from the corner.
"I do hope you are not lying to me Cenred," Morgause's voice cut the silence like a steel whip. Her heels tapping a slow beat as she made her way toward the leather clad King.
"Do not worry Morgause, he will be here. Ealdor is a fair distance after all."
"And what importance could a little border town possibly hold?"
"That I do not know, but my man has many talents. His letter said that he was in Ealdor and will be here tonight." Hardly as he finished speaking, the doors opened and a cloaked man glided in.
"Driscoll," Cenred greeted. "Meet the fair lady Morgause." The witch in question gave the man a calculating stare.
"My lady Morgause, it is an honour," the man spoke softly and lifted his hood. Driscoll always seemed to be able to unsettle the king- taller than any man he knew, his flesh was the colour of maggots and his protuberant eyes a ruthless black, but his voice was honey coated steel. The scout knelt in front of the king and bowed his bald head.
"Tell us what news you bring Driscoll," Cenred ordered.
"I was able to track the late dragonlord from when he escaped Camelot. It has taken time to find, your majesty, but Ealdor is where he fled to." Morgause narrowed her eyes.
"And how did you accomplish this? Are you suggesting that you followed twenty year old tracks?" The blonde sorceress asked scathingly. Driscoll fixed his bulging eyes on her.
"That is exactly what I have done. Like you my lady, I have...certain talents," he held out his hand and whispered a spell causing a small ball of flame to hover in his palm. Morgause let out a derisive laugh, unimpressed but fell silent.
Cenred leaned forward, "And this is where Balinor fathered a son?" The scout returned his gaze to the king.
"I believe so my lord. I have watched the women of the village and have compiled a list of single women, widows, and re married women, all of who could have bore a child twenty years ago or have like aged boys."
"You have done well my friend," the king flashed his vile teeth in a cruel smile. "We are close. Morgause, what of the men who survived battling the dragon?"
"My sister told me it was the prince and his servant, along with five knights."
Cenred pounded his fists, "Then where does that leave me! If he hails from Ealdor, he cannot be a knight!" he snarled.
The answer shot into her head like an arrow, Morgause's lip curled into an ugly sneer, 'Impossible! That pathetic excuse for a servant... always making himself a nuisance!' However, the more she thought about it, the more she realized that Merlin could be the only explanation, it couldn't be anyone else.
"It is the serving boy Merlin," she hissed, her eyes flashing a bloody gold.
"A servant? What insult is this Morgause? A prince of Escetia would never lower himself to such a place!"
"You do not know him as I do, you fool. This boy is the reason that Camelot still stands," she replied coldly.
"If I may, your majesty?" Driscoll's smooth voice inquired. "If this Merlin is the son of Balinor, it is more than likely that he is merely stationed where their ilk is due." He spat the name Balinor, hate darkening his already black eyes. Neither Cenred nor Driscoll could have said who loathed the man more.
Cenred looked as though he had dung up his nose and thought for a moment. He knew that he would have seen the boy when he had lured Arthur to the Castle of Fyrien, but he could not recall what he looked like. "I fear that may be a possibility," Cenred said. "Morgause... if you would ask Morgana if the boy is from Ealdor, and if she knows his mother's name...I would be grateful."
Morgause beamed at him, and Cenred nearly cringed at the barely concealed malice behind it. "I will, on one condition." The king knew it would not be that easy. "If he is the dragonlord, and I am sure he is, once you have him, you will allow me to exact my revenge." Morgause was only putting on airs, she would have her revenge whether the fool king said so or not. But why do the dirty work when she could have the servant brought to her instead?
The king nodded, "To a point. Driscoll, give the list to Morgause, and if the name of his mother matches with one on the list there can be no question. You will go to Camelot and watch the boy. Make sure you bring the appropriate equipment to obtain him, I will not take chances- it is always best to be prepared, as they say," he finished brightly, tossing the coin purse he held in his hand to the scout who caught it deftly, belying his heavy build. Driscoll then pulled a list from his cloak and handed it to Morgause. She seized it quickly, repulsed by the sour man.
Cenred continued in a darker tone, "And Driscoll, you will not have your fun with him until you have reported back to me." He knew that the other man thirsted for revenge on Balinor and that his son would present a perfect replacement. Driscoll grimaced, aggravated that his budding plans were foiled.
"As you wish my lord. I hope you do not wish for me to coddle him though." The malicious man's idea of coddling was to not use his occupational skills.
"You can scare him, and make it easy for him to give in to my demands. Do not torture him, not until the time is right."
"I will have to hope he is like his father then." He smiled with anticipation. He bowed to Cenred and nodded to Morgause before stalking out with a noticeable spring in his step, black cloak billowing menacingly behind him. The sorceress curled her lip contemptuously at the retreating man, and disappeared in a flurry of wind without a word. The king's hair settled across his smiling face. Cenred folded his hands with anticipation, the dragonlord would be brought to him and he would gain vengeance against his brother as well as conquer Camelot. His vicious laugh echoed throughout the room.
The darkling woods were quiet, all manner of creatures giving a wide berth to where the red cloaked figure was waiting. The only sources of light were the stars sparkling like diamonds scattered across a great velvet curtain, the white eye was sleeping with the rest of Camelot. The silence was interrupted as muted footsteps approached. Morgana's grin lit up her cold eyes when she glimpsed her sister.
"Morgause," she greeted, embracing the woman as the blonde reached her.
"Morgana, it is good to see you sister. Are you well?"
"As good as I can be, suffering the company of Uther and the rest," she sighed, dismissing the topic. "The note you left me seemed urgent, is everything alright?" Rosy lips formed a pleasing smile; Morgause linked her hands with Morgana's.
"Oh yes Morgana, it is more than alright. We finally have a chance at revenge!" Morgana inclined her head with interest. "But first you must tell me something, only a formality but important. I know you will think it odd but you must answer me, I will answer your questions very soon." Morgana's porcelain brow creased in confusion but she nodded. "Tell me, do you know if the boy Merlin is from Ealdor?" Morgana's face darkened in an ugly sneer as she heard that cursed name.
"Yes," she spat, "I went there when his mother came for help with a group of bandits. Why would you wish to know such a thing?"
Morgause's eyes brightened. "What is his mother's name Morgana?" She whispered feverishly, tightening her grip unconsciously.
"Her name is Hunith," she answered puzzled, "Morgause, why-" Morgause instantly drew her hands into her dark cloak and pulled out a list. She conjured a flame in her palm and held it close to pore over the names. After a moment, she laughed gleefully. She looked into Morgana's eyes as the seer tried to talk once more.
"Morgana, we will get revenge against Merlin! I will make him pay for what he did to you sister." She hurried on, "It turns out that he is not just a simple serving boy after all. He is the last dragonlord."
"A dragonlord? I thought he died. Everyone still praises Arthur's victory against the dragon." Her voice was laden with scorn.
"I was mistaken, a dragonlord's powers are passed down from father to son. Cenred said that only a dragonlord would be able to defeat the great dragon."
"Cenred?" Morgana cut in, "what does that swine have to do with it?" Morgause smirked, looking forward to seeing her sister's reaction.
"Everything. He is the engineer of this plan. Balinor was Cenred's elder brother." Morgana gasped and her green eyes widened.
"But- that means-"
"It does not matter that the boy has a title. Only that he will be in our grasp soon."
Morgana paused and nodded, "Of course, you are right sister, but how?"
"Cenred wants the power of a dragonlord for himself. He has hired a man to bring Merlin to him. And while he is imprisoned, I will have the chance to make him suffer," her brown eyes lit up with a cruel gleam.
A slow smile grew on Morgana's face, "I will get a chance as well?" Morgause lifted her hand to Morgana's cheek.
Morgana jerked away, "Why not!" she yelled incredulously, "Morgause-"
"Morgana you will stay here, it would be too suspicious if you disappeared at the same time. We cannot take that risk, you are needed in Camelot," Morgause reprimanded sternly.
Morgana ducked her head like a scolded child. "As you wish Morgause," her lips compressed into a thin line. "I only hoped to gain retribution."
"Fear not dear sister, I am going to make it so that he will wish for oblivion. When I am done with him, he will be but a wretched husk." She made Morgana smile at the picture she formed.
"I look forward to it."
"I must go now and tell Cenred he can allow his man to take Merlin. Oh Morgana, he truly is an atrocious creature- it is only just that the boy should endure his company. Keep well sister." With a final embrace she disappeared. Morgana turned and headed back towards the castle with a terrible smirk marring her beautiful face. She would have dreams of anguish and suffering tonight.
Near the outlying border of Escetia, a raven was descending toward its goal. Below, a lone man sat before a roaring fire. He was gnawing the remaining meat off the bones of a rabbit and grease slathered across his mouth and cheeks. He sighed with contentment and patted his portly stomach. A raven crowed next to him and waited; a roll of paper was attached to its leg. Driscoll took it and broke the seal and the raven flew off. It was in King Cenred's hand:
He is the one we seek. Bring him to the abandoned fort in the forest of Merendra, it is ideal for our plans. Inform me when you have him. Make haste.
Driscoll's shoulders shook with mirth, he threw the letter in the fire and jingled as he jumped up; he had the tools he needed within the pockets of his cloak. His shadow extended like blood pouring from a wound. He would go now. 'I will find him, make him suffer! Snap his- no. No, I need to watch and wait, bide my time. Haste is bad. Plenty of time to play with him after, oh yes.' He stroked the leather whip attached to his belt and said an incantation to douse the fire. It was still smoking long after lengthy strides carried the beast into the night.
Author's Note: Finally! I put the first chapter up! I just have a few points I want to say, first of all according to the Merlin wikia, Escetia is the name of Cenred's kingdom. Apparently they mentioned it in S3 but I don't remember hearing it, so if someone does please let me know and I'll go and watch it! Second is I don't know how violent I want to make this story, because I'm definitely mean to Merlin in later chapters. At this point though I don't think I can write a full on torture fic, I am aiming to keep it Teen, and besides dealing with the realistic after effects of something like that will be difficult. So I'll try to keep it teen, but I will up the rating if I have too.
So far I have three chapters completed of this story, I don't want to fall behind and have to rush to update because that sucks for everyone. And on that note, I'm not going to base how quick I update on the amount of reviews I get- I have a plan (barring real life) and hope to stick with it so I'm guessing I'll update 1 chapter per week based on how much I get done.
That being said I would love to hear your thoughts, please review! My last story got 5 reviews but like 700 people (YEAAA that's awesome!) read it. If you don't review how am I supposed to know you like it? So ya, drop a review if you have any pointers (especially about the violence issue) or ideas or criticism.
I would be really grateful if you would, and thanks for reading! I hope you liked it!