Siblings of Prophecy Season III

The Tears of Uther Pendragon Part One

Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin

In a land of Myth and a time of magic,
The destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of two young people,
Their names,
Merlin and Mira-Liana

It had been a year since the Last Dragon had attacked Camelot. During that time, there had been peace and prosperity in the city. But though no one knew it, that peace was at an end.

A friend of Uther's, Prince Agravain was coming for a potentially long stay and Uther was putting up a huge fuss about the whole thing. It was driving Arthur and the others mad. (A/N: Sorry, folks, I know this isn't what happened in the show, but as I've kept Morgana good, I have to make this really AU. Sorry.)

"Father, for heaven's sake, you're driving everyone mad around here with your preparations for Agravain's visit. What's the big deal?" asked Arthur, during dinner one night. "We've had royal visitors before."

"Agravain's not like the others, he's the son of King Cenred," said Uther. "As you are aware, Cenred rules our closest neighboring kingdom."

Mira-Liana's eyes widened. "He's Cenred's son?" She was stunned. Cenred was the ruler of the kingdom in which her old village, Elador lay on the outskirts of. "Why've I never heard of him before now?"

"Because he's been traveling for a few years and no one's really sure who his mother is," said Uther. "He's been a good friend of mine for the past six years and this first time he's been able to visit Camelot in a long while. We need to maintain good relations with him. He has considerable influence over his father, and one word to him would bring war upon us."

"Well, in that case, we'll do our best to please him," said Morgana.

Uther nodded, looking relieved.

XXX

Agravain arrived the next morning on his fine black stallion. He was dressed in fine clothes and wearing a gold circlet. He was quite tall and handsome with his dark hair and muscly build, but he had a certain look in his eyes that made Merlin and Mira-Liana feel uncomfortable.

He smiling as he and Uther shook hands.

"Uther, it is good to see you," said Agravain.

"Likewise, my friend," said Uther. "Please, allow me to introduce my family. This is my son, Arthur, his wife Mira-Liana, her brother Merlin, my son's Chief Advisor, my ward the Lady Morgana, her husband Lord Frik and their son Mordred, apprentice to our Court Physician."

"I've heard a great deal about you and I'm honored to make your acquaintance," said Agravain, bowing.

"As are we, Your Majesty," said Morgana. She gazed at him with curiosity, as though she knew him from before but could not remember where.

"How long will we have the honor of your stay?" asked Mira-Liana, faking a smile.

"A few months," said Agravain. "You simply must hear about my travels while we talk. My father's anxious for our good relations to continue."

"As am I. Come, you must join us for breakfast. I'm sure you must be starving after your journey here," said Uther.

"Indeed I am, I'm famished," said Agravain.

Throughout breakfast, the uncomfortable feelings Agravain seemed to give off lingered and Morgana kept glancing at the young prince out of the corner of her eye.

XXX

After breakfast, they gathered in their usual meeting place—Gaius's chambers.

"What's the matter with you all?" asked Gaius. "You look like something's troubling you."

"Gaius, have you met Agravain before?" asked Frik.

"Once, when Uther first met him," said Gaius. "He seemed a bit cold and eager for power, like his father, but somehow Uther approved of him. Why do you ask?"

Morgana sighed. "It's Agravain. He seems familiar to me somehow. But I swear, I've never met him before in my life until now."

"Familiar as Morgause, familiar?" asked Merlin.

Arthur tensed at the mention of the sorceress's name. Morgause was a powerful sorceress who had tried to get Arthur kill Uther and then launched an attack with the Knights of Midhir by using Morgana as a vessel for her magic.

The last time Morgana had thought someone seemed familiar to her, it had been Morgause and Gaius had finally admitted that she was Morgana's half-sister. But as far as Morgana was concerned, the sorceress wasn't family and had since disposed of her bracelet by having it destroyed with a spell.

Morgana nodded.

"Do you think he's connected to her, somehow?" asked Gwen.

"It's possible, but we don't know anything about this man," said Mira-Liana. "Something about him gave me and Merlin an uneasy feeling."

"We'll just have to keep an eye on him," said Arthur.

"And hope that we're wrong," said Mordred.

But somehow, none of them believed they were.

XXX

The following morning Mira-Liana was playing with her children who were eighteen months old now while waiting for Arthur to finish up a meeting with Uther and Agravain.

The children were walking now, and growing quickly. They had also started coming into their powers, but luckily Uther hadn't seen anything. And, much to their parents' relief, Frik was able to whip up a magical potion that would keep the children's powers at bay until they were older and could control them or until Mira-Liana decided to undo the potion's enchantments. Part of her did want her children to grow magically, but it was too big of a risk while Uther was still King. There would be time for magic later.

Mira-Liana couldn't help but admire the children. Amora was a beautiful little girl with her golden locks and her mother's looks. Merrick was a handsome little boy with his jet-black hair and his father's looks. While Amora was hugging her knitted stuffed cat from Gwen, Merrick was squealing as Mira-Liana tickled him.

"Sounds like someone's having fun in here," said Arthur, as he came in. "How's everyone today?"

"We're fine," said Mira-Liana. "You?"

"Same," said Arthur. "But better for being here with you and the children." He smiled at them. He loved his family more than life itself and he thanked the heavens everyday he'd been blessed with them.

"Dada," said Amora.

Mira-Liana and Arthur froze.

"Did she just say—?" said Mira-Liana.

"Dada," Amora repeated. She put down her toy and held out her arms to Arthur. "Dada."

Tears of joy glittered in Arthur's eyes. "Daddy's here, sweetheart," he said, as he picked up his daughter and hugged her close.

"Her first word," said Mira-Liana, smiling as she held Merrick.

"Mama," said Merrick, apparently not wanting to be outdone by his sister. He reached out as Mira-Liana picked him up. "Mama."

"And Merrick's as well," said Arthur, smiling.

Mira-Liana kissed Arthur. "I love you."

"I love you too," said Arthur.

It was truly a joyful moment, one that they'd treasure forever.

XXX

Agravain settled in well in Camelot. He seemed to fit in well amongst the nobles of the court and Camelot's citizens, but he didn't quite do with the others.

Arthur and the others were slightly distrustful of Agravain. Something about him seemed wrong and if there was one thing Merlin and Mira-Liana had learned, it was to always trust your instinct. One afternoon, Agravain request an audience with Morgan, Merlin and Mira-Liana

Agravain waited in his chambers for them until there was a knock on his door.

"Enter," said Agravain.

The door opened to reveal Merlin, Mira-Liana and Morgana.

"You wanted to see us?" asked Merlin.

"Yes," said Agravain. "Please, come in. Sit down."

The three of them entered the room and sat down.

"I requested this audience with the three of you because I have something to say to you," said Agravain. "You three are something special to my parents, ever since word reached my father's kingdom of who you are to Uther and Arthur. My mother speaks highly of you, Lady Morgana."

"Your mother?" asked Morgana.

"Yes, you know her. She has asked me to make an offer to you on behalf of herself and my father."

"What might that be?" asked Mira-Liana.

"Your Highness, I am well aware that you and your brother were once citizens of my father's kingdom. Because of that, my father's more than willing to extend an offer of protection for the two of you and my mother would personally see to it that Lady Morgana is granted her every wish."

"Why would they make such an offer?" asked Merlin. "And why only to the three of us?"

"As I said, you three are special. You hold positions of great power and my parents are particularly interested in you. The world is changing and these are perilous times. You might need to make sure you have the right kind of friends on the right side. There are rumors of events that have been set into motion. So, we would like to offer you three the chance to change loyalties from Uther to Cenred, for your own sakes and if you do that, you'll be deeply blessed."

I don't believe this; he's asking us to betray our people? said Mira-Liana, silently outraged.

It would appear so, said Merlin. He's in for a nasty shock, though.

"You can, of course, think about the offer," said Agravain, mistaking their silence.

"We don't need to think about it," said Morgana, sternly. "I think I speak for all three of us when I say that we must respectfully decline the offer."

"Our only loyalty is to Camelot and to our family," said Merlin.

"There is nothing your parents can give us that'll change our minds. If that's all, we'll leave now," said Mira-Liana, as she got up, and was followed by Merlin and Morgana.

"Good-day to you, Agravain," said Morgana.

"Good-day," said Agravain, looking displeased.

The three of them left the chambers, and Mira-Liana met Arthur, who was waiting outside the door.

"What did Agravain want?" asked Arthur.

"He wanted us to switch our loyalties to his father, and we refused," said Mira-Liana.

Arthur didn't look pleased. "Did he make a threat?"

"No, he didn't, but I wouldn't put it past him," said Mira-Liana. "He said they'd make it worth our while and that there were rumors of events that had been set into motion."

"That settles it, he's up to something," said Arthur. "And whatever it is, it's not good."

Indeed it was not.

XXX

That night, Agravain snuck out of the castle, disguised in his black cloak.

He rode off into the forest with his prize. Uther had cried a little when he'd been informed of his grandchildren saying their first words and how the children had reached for their parents, and Agravain had managed to collect those tears. He intended to use them for something very important.

He finally arrived at his rendezvous point in a deep part of the woods that was surrounded by the ruins of an old castle and there was a fire blazing and someone was there to meet him.

"My son," she said.

It was Morgause.

Agravain pulled back his hood, smiling. "Hello, Mother," he said.

"How have you faired?" she asked, taking his hands.

"Uther's welcomed me back into his kingdom with open arms," said Agravain.

"And he doesn't suspect a thing?" asked Morgause.

"He laps up my lies like the sniveling dog that he is," said Agravain. "He believes me to be his friend, but that could not be farther from the truth."

"And the three you made the offer to, what did they say?" asked Morgause. "You didn't mention my name, did you?"

Agravain's face darkened. "I didn't say your name. But those fools refused our generous offer. They said their only loyalty was to Camelot and to their family." He scoffed. "Family. If family is what they are loyal to, then why did old Aunt Morgana refuse me? Why did she refuse you last year?"

"My half-sister has the gift of prophecy. She believes in her vision of a utopia that will occur when Arthur's been crowned king," said Morgause. "But she's wrong. Arthur's just like his father and a son always follows in his father's footsteps. If Morgana knows of our connection, she's chosen to ignore it. I highly doubt she even knows you're my son."

"It doesn't matter anyway. I understand why you wanted to make Morgana an offer, but didn't Merlin and Mira-Liana prevent your last two attempts to rid the world of Uther and destroy Camelot? Why make an offer to them?" asked Agravain.

"Because they're special and I had to try at least," said Morgause. "How many commoners can gain position in the Royal Court as they have? They have considerable influence over Arthur and Uther and somehow they knew exactly what to do to make me stop my last attack."

"I see," said Agravain. He took out the handkerchief that contained Uther's tears, making Morgause smile as she took it.

"You've done well," said Morgause. She grinned evilly at the handkerchief. "The tears of Uther Pendragon have only begun to fall."

She dropped the handkerchief into the tar-like potion in her cauldron and then dropped in a strange-looking vegetable thing into the potion as well. Then there was a sharp scream that made Agravain cringe.

Morgause grinned. "The mandrake root is very special. Only those with magic can hear its cries." She stirred her potion. "And for those without magic, the mandrake root pierces at the recesses of the soul, twisting the mind's very image of fear and dread. Uther Pendragon will discover that his great kingdom counts for nothing when he has lost his mind."

Agravain grinned as Morgause started chanting a powerful spell and when she was done, she took out the root which was now coated in the tar-like potion and handed it to her son.

Before another hour had passed, the root was dripping its muck under Uther's bed with Uther none the wiser.

XXX

There was a great feast the following, in honor of Agravain's arrival in Camelot and to celebrate the Royal Family's good fortune.

It was great fun with music, entertainers, dancing, and delicious food. Everyone was enjoying themselves as they laughed and had great intellectual conversations with one another. For a few moments, Merlin and Mira-Liana's distrust of Agravain was forgotten.

Uther rose up to talk, silencing everyone.

"Standing here, seeing so many happy faces, seems almost like a dream," said Uther. He seemed to be on the verge of tears. "I can tell you that I have not felt like this in a long time."

"What, drunk?" joked Arthur, as everyone laughed.

Uther playfully swatted his son's shoulder, smiling. "Drunk and happy," he said. "To have such a good friend here beside me." He beckoned to Agravain, who smiled. He then beckoned to the others. "And to be blessed with such a wonderful family."

Arthur and Mira-Liana and the others smiled.

"Arthur, Mira-Liana, Merlin, Morgana, all of you—there are no words. But ever since you've become a part of my family and I have seen the honorable and wonderful people you are, you've meant more to me than you will ever know. And I wish all the happiness in the world to you and my grandchildren." He raised his goblet. "To the Royal Family."

"To the Royal Family," said everyone as they raised their goblets and continued on with the night.

Well, that was unexpected, said Mira-Liana, on the verge of tears herself.

I'll say, said Merlin. I didn't know he felt that way about us.

Father's never been good with showing his feelings. And you have to admit, you have all made quite an impression on him and you are part of the family, said Arthur, smiling.

Indeed, said Mira-Liana. She rose up from her seat and for the first time in her life, she hugged Uther, who returned her embrace.

"Thank you," she whispered.

"You're-Welcome," he said.

He got out of the embrace and wobbled slightly as he smiled. "I think I need some air."

"Watch yourself," said Arthur.

Uther just shrugged him off as he left the hall and went out for some fresh air.

He was quite drunk as he stumbled into the courtyard. He froze when he heard something. "Who's there? Arthur?"

He started walking around and looking for the source of the noise, but found nothing and no one. He then walked over to the courtyard's well and peered into the water, only to scream and recoil in horror when Igraine appeared from nowhere and grabbed his arm and she cried out, "Please!"

Uther fell to the ground, screaming and shaking with fear as some of the guards and Camelot's citizens surrounded him and were quite baffled at their king's behavior as they did not see what he saw.

Uther was taken to his bedchambers and placed on his bed with the help of Arthur and Merlin. Everyone was worried as Morgana covered Uther with his blankets.

"Is he going to be alright?" asked Morgana.

"He should sleep until morning," said Gaius.

"We should let him rest," said Agravain. "There's little more we can do for him now."

They left.

XXX

While Agravain immediately went to his chambers, Gaius, Gwen, Arthur, Frik, Mordred, Morgana, Merlin and Mira-Liana walked down the hall, their minds abuzz with Uther's sudden illness.

"What could've made him like this?" asked Arthur. "He was lying on the ground, crying. He's never done that before."

"I don't know," said Gaius. "But I fear it isn't good."

"When he was found, he was mumbling," said Frik. "Most of it was incoherent, but…"

"But what?" asked Arthur. "What did he say?"

"He kept mentioning your mother's name," said Mordred.

Arthur frowned. "My mother? But he hasn't spoken of her since we had that long talk over a year ago."

"He claims he saw her in the well," said Gaius.

Arthur's eyes widened. "Did the guards see him in this state?" he whispered.

"I think you're worrying too much," said Gaius.

"How can we not worry?" asked Merlin.

"If people see Uther like this—" said Morgana.

"They'll see him as ill," said Gaius. "For the moment, he's recovered."

"We should still be on our guard," said Gwen.

"Indeed," said Mira-Liana. "Come on, we should all get some sleep."

XXX

Meanwhile, Argavain had gone to meet his mother and informed her of the news. They were rejoicing over their work. The rumors were already spreading and soon Camelot would see that their king had gone mad and a kingdom without a king would be ripe for the picking.

While Argavain went back to Camelot with another mandrake, and killed one of the guards who'd spotted him with it and quickly went back to his chambers, Morgause was heading back to Cenred's kingdom.

When she arrived, Cenred's men were preparing themselves for the battle that would soon be underway. She met with Cenred in his throne room.

He had black hair to his shoulders and dark facial hair and was dressed in his armor. He glanced up from his sword he was placing on his back when Morgause arrived.

"Ah, my love, I wasn't expecting you back so soon," said Cenred.

"If you will not leave the castle, then I must come to you," said Morgause.

Cenred scoffed. "I see you've lost none of your audacity."

"I wish I could say the same," said Morgause, sharply. "But I find the might King Cendred cowering in his chambers when he should've met me at the border. Perhaps he's lost his nerve. Perhaps he is a coward."

At this, one of the guards drew his sword—he would defend his king, even against the king's own lover—but Morgause just flung him into a table with a spell. The other guards drew their swords, but Cenred stopped them as he pulled Morgause in for a kiss which she returned.

"You are very beautiful when you're angry," said Cenred, when they broke apart.

Morgause smirked. "Is that why you continue to defy me?"

"You wouldn't like it if I made it easy for you," he pointed out.

They both started laughing at this point before Cenred had some chairs set up and poured them both some wine.

"I'm certain you've not come all this way just to drink, my love," said Cenred.

"You know me too well," she said, as she sipped her drink.

"Extremely well, and yet somehow we're still close," he said.

Morgause smiled. "I've come to talk to you about our old friend, Uther Pendragon and those three we had our son make the offer to."

"They've refused to accept our offer, I take it?" said Cenred, as Morgause nodded. "It's their own loss, I'm afraid. As for Uther, yes, I've heard the sad news. He's finally lost his mind."

"Camelot is weak," said Morgause. "Weaker than it's been for years. The kingdom is vulnerable just as I promised."

"It doesn't change the fact that the citadel is still impregnable."

"So, even without his wits, Uther is still too strong for you?"

"You're a woman of great courage, Morgause, and my lover you may be, but I don't think with my sword," he growled. "An assault on Camelot cannot be taken lightly."

"You forget, we have an ally in the court," she reminded him. "Agravain, our son, is working well. We've taught him well and he can be relied upon until the end. He's doing us both proud."

Cenred looked pleased with this.

XXX

Trouble followed.

In a meeting one morning, Arthur came to report that mercenaries had been seen flooding into Cenred's kingdom.

"Mercenaries?" said Uther. "Do we know why?"

"There is rumor," said Arthur, trying to emphasize the word 'rumor.' "That that Cenred is massing an army. I would like to send a patrol of our own men to assess the situation, but that can only be done with Agravain's approval."

Agravain looked surprised. "There's no need, sire. I'll lead a patrol of my men. I haven't heard a word of this before now. I'll speak to my father, tell him to look into this," he said. "I cannot believe Father would be preparing an army when his main goal is toward peace. Perhaps the reports are mistaken."

"Let us hope so," said Mira-Liana, not believing him.

"Your Majesty, are you alright?" asked Merlin.

Uther had suddenly gone very quiet and was gazing at the doorway with fear.

"Father?" asked Arthur, now worried.

He started shaking with fear as while everyone else in the hall saw nothing, he saw a drowned victim, a young boy no older than six.

He rose up. "Leave me alone," he whispered, as he pointed at the boy. "Get out of here."

Arthur was worried as he placed a hand on his father's arm. "Father—"

"I said, get out!" he yelled, ignoring his son. "GET OUT, I'LL HAVE YOU HANGED!"

At that point, he was taken kicking and screaming by Sir Leon and Arthur to his chambers.

Mira-Liana rose up and spoke to the knights and members of the court, using her authority as Camelot's Princess.

"All of you will leave this room immediately. My brother and I need to talk with the Court Physician alone."

Everyone vacated the room on her command, leaving the twins alone with Gaius.

"Gaius, what is going on?" she demanded.

"There has to be some explanation for this," said Merlin.

Gaius sighed and folded his arms. "During the Great Purge, Uther drowned many he suspected of sorcery and some, heaven help them, were children."

Merlin stared in horror as Mira-Liana's heart skipped a beat.

"He murdered children?" said Mira-Liana, looking horrified.

It shouldn't have surprised her, given how he'd tried to execute Mordred two years ago, but still, the thought terrified her to the bone.

Though Uther was something of a doting grandfather and the twins' powers had been bound before anyone had seen anything, Mira-Liana knew that if he suspected or knew that her children possessed magic, he would not be so kind. This had been one of her constant fears ever since she learned she was first expecting her children.

Gaius nodded. "They were killed for the magic they were born with." He paused for a moment. "Maybe his conscious is playing tricks with him."

"After twenty years?" said Merlin, skeptically.

"I don't know why he's suddenly acting like this, but whatever is going on, we can no longer hide this," said Gaius. "The King's hold in people is a very fragile thing, you two. If they start to lose faith in him, I fear for Camelot."

Suddenly, the bells went off and they went to investigate.

They found the guard Agravain had killed and he was taken to Gaius's chambers for examination and Arthur was notified.

"The sentry must've been attacked at some point during the night," said Gaius, to Arthur.

"Who could've done this?" asked Arthur.

Gaius handed him the blade. "On this knife, there is a symbol of the Blood Guard."

"Blood Guard?" he repeated.

"Warrior priests sworn to protect the High Priestesses of the Old Religion," explained Frik.

"I thought they were wiped out during the Great Purge," said Arthur.

"Not all of them," said Gaius.

"So, you believe there's a traitor in Camelot?" said Mira-Liana.

"It's possible. The sentry guard will be able to tell us for sure," said Gaius.

"He's still alive?" said Merlin, surprised.

"Barely, but yes," said Gaius.

No one noticed the look of fear on Agravain's face at this news.

XXX

Agravain needed to tie up loose ends, so he snuck into Gaius's chambers and poisoned the guard, preventing him from revealing what he knew.

Gaius and Mordred found him dead not ten minutes later and were at a loss to explain how it had happened.

XXX

That night, Mordred was delivering the king's medicine when he stopped and took a good look at him.

Uther was asleep, but he was shivering both in cold and fear, as though he was suffering from a nightmare. Mordred had no love for Uther, considering what the King had done to his family and his people, but in that moment he felt a bit of pity for the man and pulled his blankets up to warm him.

He was about to leave when he heard the sound of something dripping and noticed a small pile of black gunk on the floor. Curious, he bent down to examine it and sniffed it.

Suddenly, there was the sound of footsteps and a shadow hinting of someone's arrival. Quickly, Mordred hid under the bed, only to bump into the filthy mandrake root that was hanging there. He scooted off to the side just as someone reached under the bed and took away the root.

Quietly, he scooted forward and saw Agravain leaving the room with root. He ran out from under the bed and called out for Merlin and Mira-Liana.

Emrys, Emrysa! he yelled.

Ow. Mordred, not so loud, what's wrong? asked Merlin.

I'm sorry, but it's Agravain, he was just in Uther's room. He didn't see me, but I saw him take something I think he placed under Uther's bed.

What did he take? asked Mira-Liana.

It was some kind of root in black gunk. I didn't recognize it. He's leaving the castle now. Should I follow him?

No, it's too dangerous, said Merlin. Stay with Frik and Morgana and make sure the others are safe. Mir and I will go after Agravain. Where's Agravain now?

He's in the courtyard.

We're on our way. Go tell Arthur what's happened. We'll be back as soon as we can, said Mira-Liana.

Okay, be safe.

XXX

Merlin and Mira-Liana quickly left the castle and followed Agravain.

They followed him to a clearing within the forest while hidden behind some large mossy rocks, and then they waited for a moment, before their eyes widened in shock as Agravain met with Morgause and several of Cenred's men.

"Sorry you had to wait," said Morgause, as she got off her horse. "There was much to discuss."

"But your talk with Father was successful?" said Agravain.

"Your father's armies ride to Camelot on my command," said Morgause.

Agravain smiled. "There's nothing you cannot do, Mother."

Shock flooded the twins.

Did I just hear Agravain call Morgause, 'Mother'? asked Mira-Liana.

You're not the only one, said Merlin. It would appear Uther's "friend" is Morgause's son.

And no doubt a sorcerer himself, said Mira-Liana.

"It is you that give me strength, my son," said Morgause. "How goes the battle for Uther's mind?"

"When Father marches on Camelot, he'll find a kingdom without a leader," said Agravain.

"Excellent, I'm proud of you," said Morgause. "Finally, we are ready."

"Not quite, Mother," said Agravain. "The two you were so fascinated with, Merlin and Mira-Liana, they suspect me."

"Have they told Arthur?" asked Morgause, sounding concerned.

"As far as I know, they haven't yet. But they will," said Agravain.

"Well, then we must stop them," said Morgause.

"That will not be difficult."

"Why?"

"Because they're already here!"

The twins' blood ran cold, yet they showed no fear as they revealed themselves.

"Did you really think I was that stupid, you two?" he snarled.

Without thinking twice, Merlin and Mira-Liana ran away as fast as they could until they were finally caught.

XXX

Back in Camelot, Arthur was in his chambers doing some writing and worrying himself sick over his father and the lack of news from Mira-Liana and Merlin since Mordred had told them of their departure.

Gaius came in.

"How are you, sire?"

"It's not me who's sick," said Arthur.

"It can't be easy to see your father this way," said Gaius, gently.

"No," he admitted. "He's always been so strong." He sighed. "I know of what he's done, but he lifted this kingdom from its knees and he's still my father, Gaius. To see him now…"

"I'm sure, with time he will recover," said Gaius, as Arthur nodded. "But until then, we have to make plans, Arthur. We need you to assume control."

Arthur's face fell as he shook his head. "That's ridiculous."

He couldn't be king now. Uther was still alive.

"Camelot needs a leader," he continued. "It falls to you. You must fulfill your role as regent and start to take your place in your destiny as the Once and Future King. This is not just me talking, other members of the court have spoken. It's for the good of the kingdom."

Arthur shook his head. "I know of my destiny, but I will not usurp my father."

"This isn't usurpation, this is you taking your rightful place," said Gaius. "The palace is awash with rumors. They need a leader."

"I swore allegiance to my father, and as long as there is still breath in him, I'll stay true to my word," said Arthur, sternly.

"Arthur, please," said Gaius.

"You're giving up on my father," said Arthur. "That is something I will never do."

XXX

When morning came, Merlin and Mira-Liana found themselves waking up with splitting headaches and they were bound with chains and forced to sit up to face Morgause.

"You intrigue me, you two," she said. "Why does a mere advisor and a commoner turned princess continue to risk everything for Arthur and for Camelot?"

They just glared at her, and remained silent.

"You know the answer and you're not telling me," she said. She walked around them and then knelt beside them. "Come on, time and time again you've risked yourselves. There must be a reason."

"We believe in a fair and just land," said Merlin.

"And you think Arthur will give you that?"

"We know it," said Mira-Liana.

"And then what?" asked Morgause, as she rose up and stood before them. "You think you'll be recognized, is that it, Merlin, Mira-Liana? All this, so one day you can be part of something greater and serve a king?"

They didn't reply.

"No," said Morgause, gazing at them. "There's something more, something you're not telling me, isn't there?"

They glared at her.

"We've told you," said Merlin, coldly.

Morgause returned the cold look. "Well, you can take your secret to your grave." She recited a spell and suddenly their chains tightened.

"You chose to poison one of my own, my half-sister Morgana, and you chose to refuse my generous offer for protection," she said. "You may regret that."

And with that, she left them alone in the forest.

XXX

Merlin and Mira-Liana struggled against their chains.

"We need to get out of here," said Merlin, grunting. "We have to warn Arthur."

"I've already tried calling them, but either something's blocking me or we're too far away," said Mira-Liana.

"Dang it," said Merlin.

Try as they might, they could not break their bonds and using magic on the chains only tightened them, even when Merlin managed to intertwine Mira-Liana's fingers with his own and they combined their power.

They soon realized they had another problem as serkets started to appear and surround them. Quickly, they manage to perform a few spells that pushed the serkets away, but it didn't last long as suddenly, they let out a cry of pain as they were both stabbed in the lower back by serkets.

They managed to kill the serkets that stabbed them, but it didn't do any good. A serket's venom was deadly and they were already feeling the effects.

"I don't feel so good," said Mira-Liana.

"Me either," said Merlin, as he kneeled over.

There was pain where they'd been stabbed and they were already finding it difficult to breathe and see straight.

Merlin forced himself to straighten as Mira-Liana's grip on his hand tightened and out of sheer desperation; they used the last drop of their power and called out for a friend in the ancient tongue.

"Kilgarrah, dragon, hear our summons, come to us!" they cried.

Finally, the pain became too much for them and they collapsed. They fought to stay away as the serkets drew closer and then, suddenly the Last Dragon, Kilgarrah, flew into view.

He blew fire onto the serkets, killing them and then he took the twins into his claws and carried them away to safety just as they succumbed to the darkness.

To Be Continued…