"Well, whoever was here, isn't here anymore." Arthur stated blandly, almost as if he was bored.

With a sense of dread and prickling awareness, Merlin corrected him, "Yes, they are." He was proven correct as two arrows shot out and wounded a pair of knights.

"Take cover!" The Crown Prince roared, as renegades poured into the clearing from the surrounding forest.

Eyes darting to and fro, Merlin took cover in the hollow of a tree as he found himself being shot at. From there, he helped as well as he could, mostly through diverting arrows and bolts so as to not hit vital veins, arteries, or organs, for both sides. These people weren't wrong in their hopes after all, they were the same as his. It was just the course of action they, well, that most magic users he had met, took... And would you look at that, it would appear Gaius' tendency towards lecturing on the nuances of anatomy did pay off. From his hiding place he saw Alvarr, the leader of the renegades, shout something to Mordred, probably a command to flee, before going back to a fight with one of the Knights.

Watching the youth run, Merlin recalled the words the Great Dragon had last spoken to him, "The ancient prophecies speak of an alliance of Mordred and Morgana, united in evil. But this union must be stopped, at any cost..." Here was a chance to stop it, he could extend that branch, the guards would take care of the rest. But was it right? Merlin started forward, magic surging up, but found he could not. He could not condemn this boy, this child of thirteen summers, or perhaps even less, to death. He would not. Instead, he found himself tripping the guards whom were giving him chase.

The crash of the two guards' helmets on one another, resulting in their unconsciousness, barely registered over the roar of the battle. But, apparently it was enough to draw Mordred's attention away from his escape. Seeing the warlock's eyes fading from gold to sapphire, Mordred smiled at him, and Merlin heard his voice, as he had in Camelot the year before,'Thank you Emrys. I will not forget this.'

Projecting his thoughts in turn, Merlin told him, 'You are welcome. Now run, Mordred. You may well be killed otherwise. Run.'

As he watched the boy run, Merlin felt as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Somehow he knew, he quite simply just knew, that he would not regret this decision. He did not know why, or how he knew, but he did. Hopefully he would prove right.


It had been about a month, perhaps a month and a half, since the battle with Alvarr and his men. In that time, Alvarr had escaped, presumably with Morgana's help, Morgause had overtaken Camelot by awakening the Knights of Medhir, he had poisoned Morgana, Morgause had taken her and disappeared, and he had been required to set the Great Dragon free. And, of course, the aforementioned dragon was now laying waste to Camelot. So, he and Arthur were on a quest to find Balinor, the last dragon lord, whom Gaius had apparently saved from death during the Great Purge twenty years ago. Oh, and how could he forget! From what Gaius had told him, and the night before he and Arthur set off, at that, Balinor was his father. His father.

That is, Merlin had of course, known he had a father, after all he would not be here without one. However, his father had always been absent. His mother, Hunith, had never even told Merlin his name. He had eventually stopped asking. And now he was about to go off and meet him, when the man probably did n0t even know he existed. Just great. Well, Gaius had known the man, and saved him, so he was probably a good man. Probably. Who knew, he might even be rather similar to him, he didn't know.

But he could hope.


Oh, the bloody clod pole would push himself too damn far, wouldn't he? The prat was forever telling his knights, and his guards, and his servants, and well, everyone under his command, which was every one but his father, to never push their limits too far when injured, as it was likely to result in further injury or even death, to know them and know them well. Did the man take his own advice? No, of course not! He was Crown Prince Arthur, Leader of the Knights of Camelot, Merlin's Master, and the Once and Future King... of cabbage heads! He just had to keep going, didn't he? Honestly, it wasn't as if Merlin would be upset if they had to take a break due to his injury, who knows how many times Arthur had had to stop for Merlin, whether due to injury or fatigue, or both! Prat. It wasn't as if it was Arthur's fault the damnable dragon was attacking Camelot... that was Merlin's fault, not that he was going to admit it, to any one but Gaius that is...

Still, it wasn't as if stopping for a rest would take too much time from their journey.

But, of course, this did not matter to Crown Prince Clod Pole. Nope, the prat just went and pushed himself further anyways. And thus, the cabbage head was now slung over his own horse, while Merlin tried to navigate them through the woods, in Cendred's kingdom. It didn't matter that technically he was a citizen there, and thus safe, and he still had to try to find Balinor... without alerting Cenred's men. Oh no, it's not like this could end badly at all, no, not at all. Yeah, and he wasn't a warlock, how's that one for you?

Well, here was (another) cave. Hopefully this one would be fit for habitation. Maybe this one would even have Balinor in it. Honestly, he settle for at least a lack of bats. The last cave he had seen had been infested with the damn things. He did not like bats, they were annoying, high pitched, squeaky, creepy looking, and always managed to find a way indoors at the oddest times.

Abandoning that train of thought, Merlin left Arthur and the horses tied to a tree and went to check it for signs of habitation, human habitation that is. Not flying rat type habitation, he didn't need anymore of that, thank you very much.

Stepping carefully over the rocks, so as not to fall into the water, he delved further into the cave. "Hello?" he called, desperation coloring his voice. He had to find Balinor, and help for Arthur. Just as he was about to turn back, he found some earthen pottery, a bed, and what may have been a hearth.

Suddenly, he was grabbed from behind, one arm snaking around his neck in a choke hold. "What do you want here, boy?" A rough, slightly crazed voice spat out roughly in his ear.

Gasping, Merlin replied, "My friend, he's sick and needs help!"

The man threw Merlin away from him, and stepped into a patch of light. He had dark, grayed hair, blue eyes, and the look of a man who had lost much in his life. Merlin could not help but stare. Was this his father? "Show me, boy." The man said, gently this time. Merlin continued to stare a bit, which obviously displeased the man, as when he next spoke his voice held a trace of anger, "What are you waiting for? Fetch him!"

Shocked from his stupor, Merlin ran from the cave to do just that.

A small time later, Arthur was laying out on some blankets, still unconscious, as Balinor applied a salve to his chest and rubbed his forehead as well. He threw a cautious glance at Merlin before quickly muttering, "Ahlúttre þá séocnes. Þurh- hæle bræd." Both Merlin and the man cast their eyes down, slightly nervous, before the man said, "He needs rest." and got up.

"Will he be all right?" Merlin asked, worried. Magic, which he knew was what Balinor used, had many uses, but did not always ensure complete recovery – if it did, Merlin would not have half as many bruises from 'training' with Arthur.

Nodding a bit, the man said, "By morning." before walking past him.

"Thank you." Merlin said sincerely.

Supper was soon ready, and was actually quite good. Merlin told the man so, before asking, "How long have you lived here?"

The man's reply was gruff, and a bit short. "A few winters." Was all he said.

"Must be hard." Merlin said with a bit of sympathy. Living in Ealdor may not have always been easy, but at least there had been the support of a community to help through the winters.

Unfortunately the man's patience seemed to be growing thin as he asked bluntly, "Why are you here?"

Nervous, Merlin replied, "Just traveling." He wasn't quite able to meet the man's eye. The man gave him a long look, and as he went back to his dinner, Merlin blurted out, "We're looking for someone." The man gave him a rather blank look, so Merlin continued babbling. "I was told, well they said that he lives somewhere hereabouts. A man... named... Balinor." Merlin said the last part slowly, with an air of nervousness. The man continued to look at him while eating his stew. "You've never heard of him?" More empty looks. "He was a dragon lord."

The man finally replied to his nervous babble, saying, "He's passed on."

Curious, Merlin queried, "You knew him?" Though it came out more as a statement.

A statement that rather angered Balinor based upon the rough tone he used as he demanded, "Who are you?"

"I'm... Merlin" the young manservant replied slowly, swallowing a bit.

The man turned to point at the sleeping prince. "Him?"

"My master." Merlin said, apprehensive.

"His name." the man said, impatient.

"His name, is... Lancelot, he's... a knight. You know a nice one." Merlin said, smiling a bit as he tried to hide his worry.

With a slight sneer, the man leaned forward and said slowly, deliberately, "His name, is Arthur Pendragon. He is Uther's son." Why did magic users always say the name Pendragon that way? Yes, Uther was a bastard, and horrible, and some, including his ward, would say a prejudiced tyrant, but surely that did not mean the same of all Pendragons!

Swallowing, Merlin confirmed, "Yes."

"This is Cendred's 's asking for trouble. What do you want from me?" The man appeared to be growing angry.

Looking him full in the face, Merlin asked, "Are you Balinor?" The man just turned to his stew. Peeved, Merlin leaned forward, tapping him on the arm before saying, "The Great Dragon is attacking Camelot."

"His name is Kilgarrah." The man said simply.

"We can't stop him." Merlin told the man, presumably Balinor, worry and fear coloring his tone just a bit. "Only you, a dragon lord can."

Balinor nodded a bit at this, before stating, "He doesn't act blindly. He kills for a reason. Vengeance. This is of Uther's making."

He's killing innocent people," Merlin protested, "women and children."

"Uther pursued me." Balinor spat angrily, "He hunted me like an animal!"

"I know.": Merlin said, trying to calm him. It did not work. At all.

"What do you know about anybody's life boy?" Balinor began to pace, before facing Merlin again. "Uther asked me to use my power to bring the last dragon to Camelot, he said he wanted to make peace with it. But he did not. He lied to me. He betrayed me. You want me to protect this man?"

Merlin quickly clarified, "I want you to protect Camelot!"

"He killed every one of my kind! I alone escaped."

Changing the subject a bit, both to calm him and to find out about his father, Merlin asked, "Where did you go?"

It seemed to work, as Balinor got a distant look in his eyes and said, "A place called Ealdor."

"Yes?" Merlin encouraged.

"I had a life there." Balinor near whispered. "A woman. A good woman. Ealdor is beyond Uther's realm, and 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 built, abandon the woman I loved? He sent knights to kill me. I was forced to come here, to this!" Despair and then anger colored his tone, though his next words we calmer, if mocking. "So, I understand how Kilgarrah feels. He's lost every one of his kind, every one of his kin. You want to know how that feels? Look around boy. Let Uther die. And Camelot fall."

Disbelieving, Merlin tried again, "You want everyone in Camelot to die?"

"What should I care?" Balinor spat.

"What if one of them was your son?" Merlin asked, hoping beyond hope that perhaps the man knew of him, of his son.

Balinor shook his head. "I don't have a son. Not anymore. Mine was taken from me when he was but a child, his mother not yet cold in her grave."

Holding back his shock at the thought that he may yet have a brother, he opened his mouth to tell his father of his existence, but stopped when Arthur moved restlessly in his slumber and said, "Merlin." Before coughing a bit.

The conversation between the two dark haired men ceased after that. Merlin stared into the flames as Balinor walked to some part of the cave he had made his home in. Merlin almost could not hold back the tears he felt stinging at his eyes.


The next morning, Merlin sat on a rock at the mouth of Balinor's cave, watching the man as he stood staring into the rushing water. The quiet of the morning was broken however, as the familiar sound of his master's voice rang out, "I feel great! What the hell did you give me?" The prat seemed to be trying to figure out where in the world they were.

"It was all down to Balinor." Merlin told him, nodding in the man's direction.

Merlin could hear the smile, the hope in his friend and future king's voice a s he said, somewhat disbelievingly, "So we found him then? Thank heaven for that."

"Doesn't mean he's willing to help." Merlin replied, somewhat ironically. After all, they had come all this way, and yet it was for nothing if the man would not help him.

Arthur, shocked, said stupidly, "What?" As if he could not believe his ears Which he probably could not.

"You won't persuade him." Merlin shrugged. Heaven knew he had tried.

"Does he know what's at stake?" Arthur questioned, as if Merlin might have forgotten to mention it. The warlock merely nodded. "What kind of a man is he?" The ton Arthur used was one of disbelief.

"I don't know." Merlin replied, rather sadly. "I thought he'd be something more." And he had. He had hoped he would be a good man, the type of man he could look up to, rather like Gaius often was. Apparently he had been wrong.

Arthur tried anyways. Merlin just sat on his rock waiting.

"What did he say?" Merlin asked, suspecting the answer and yet hoping despite that.

"He'll change his mind." Arthur stated confidently. Had he...?

"He said that?"

"Just wait." Maybe... "Give him a moment."

Balinor soon came out, and Merlin looked at him with hope as he met them. "Farewell then." He brushed past them. Well, apparently Arthur was wrong... again.

"That's your decision?" Arthur asked.

"I will not help Uther!" Balinor spat.

"Then the people of Camelot are damned!" Arthur shouted.

"So be it!"

"Have you no conscience?" Arthur yelled in disbelief.

Balinor simply turned and snarled, "You should ask that question of your father!"

Angrily, Merlin spoke up, "Then you're no better than him." Turning, Balinor just continued on into his cave.

"Don't waste your time, Merlin!" Arthur yelled out, obviously intending for Balinor to hear.

Giving it one last try, Merlin called after Balinor's retreating back, "Gaius spoke of the nobility of dragon lords. Clearly he was wrong."

That got him to turn around. "Gaius?"

"Yes." Merlin said coldly.

"Good man."

"Yeah. I was hoping you'd be more like him."

"Merlin!" Arthur called.

"I wanted-"

"Merlin!"

Sighing, Merlin finished, "Well, there's no point." He then turned and followed after his master, to head back to Camelot.


As they sat by the fire in their camp that evening, Arthur commented, "I always thought silence would be a blessing with you, but I find it just as irritating." Okay, apparently he wasn't as good at hiding inner turmoil as he thought. He probably should work on that. "You're a riddle Merlin." Seriously? How was he a riddle? Beyond generally hiding his magic, that is... and the truth about Morgana... and the dragon's release... and his parentage... and Arthur's destiny... and how often he had saved either Uther, Camelot, or Arthur... but beyond all that, he was an open book!

Humoring the prat, Merlin asked, "A riddle?"

"Yes. You know, I've got to quite like you."

"Yeah?"

"Now I realize you're not as big a fool as you look."

Such a prat. "Yeah, I feel the same... Now that I realize you're not as arrogant as you sound."

Arthur rolled his eyes and said, "You still think I'm arrogant?"

"No..." Merlin denied. "More... supercilious."

"That's a big word Merlin." Arthur stated with a look of utter surprise. "Sure you know what it means?"

"Condescending."

"Very good."

"Patronizing."

"It doesn't quite mean that."

"No, these are other things you are."

"Hang on!"

"Over bearing..."

"Shh!" Arthur whispered harshly, reaching for his sword.

"Very overbearing."

"Merlin!"

"You wanted me to talk!"

Merlin then heard a snap and started searching the area as well, grabbing the sword Arthur had lent him. He heard another snap, turned and found Balinor a few paces behind him.

"Careful boy. I thought you might need some help. This is dangerous country."

Arthur, suspicious as he ever was with magic users, asked, "And will you return to Camelot with us?"

Balinor looked at Merlin a moment, before replying, "You were right Merlin. There are some in Camelot who risked their lives for me. I owe a debt that must be repaid."

Arthur took over again at this point, stating, "If you succeed in killing the dragon, you will not go unrewarded."

Balinor merely snorted at this and said, "I seek no reward."

Arthur simply shrugged, and said, "Great. Let's eat." before sticking his sword in the ground. Did the prat always have to think of his stomach?

Merlin simply smiled and nodded to Balinor before starting to collect firewood. He was pleasantly surprised when Balinor started helping him. A touch irritated, he noted, "This wood's too wet."

Balinor just smiled a bit, and said simply, "Don't worry, I'm sure we'll find a way to make it light."

Ah, he intended to use magic then. Which reminded him... "When you healed Arthur, I heard you mumble some words..."

Balinor stiffened a little. "An ancient prayer." he said gruffly.

Well, he supposed that was one way of putting it. "I thought it might've been more than that."

"The Old Religion can teach us many things." More vagueness. Great. Perfect. Wonderful. This man was most definitely kin of Kilgarrah's. No doubts there, nope, none. They were both, in Gaius' words, 'Clear as mud.'

So, he pushed a bit. "The Old Religion, is that something you were taught?"

Balinor gave Merlin a cold look. "It's not something you can be taught," He paused, as if finding the right words. "Either it's a part of you or it isn't. My father knew that, and his father before him."

Huh, was being a dragon lord hereditary, then? He figured he might as well ask. "Were they also dragon lords?"

"We'll need some kindling." Okay, apparently he had pushed a tad too much. Time for a new line of questioning.

"You mentioned, you spoke of Ealdor. You took refuge with a woman." Merlin nudged, hoping to get an opening and tell Balinor who he was.

Balinor just sighed and said, "That was a long time ago."

Okay then, time to be... blunt. Ish. "I grew up there."

That seemed to shock the man a bit, as he asked, "Ealdor?" for confirmation.

Merlin nodded. "Yes. I know the woman."

A bit of hope, wistfulness, or perhaps fondness, lit his father's eyes. "Hunith? She's still alive?" Well, his mother wasn't that old...

Still, Merlin smiled a bit, "Yes, She's my mother."

A bit of a forlorn look crossed his father's face, a bit of a smile, as he turned a way a little. "Then she married. That's good."

Quickly, to keep him from getting the wrong impression, Merlin corrected him. "No, she never married." Balinor's eyes shot over to his. "I'm your son." Merlin finished lamely, unsure of what to do.

Balinor stared at him. As the silence grew, Merlin wondered whether he should have even mentioned it, when Balinor said hoarsely, looking lost, "I haven't had a son in years, and most definitely not o near grown one."

Merlin shrugged a bit and smiled with tears in his eyes. "I don't know what it is to have a father."

The two fell silent for a moment, during which Arthur passed by, looking as if he was patrolling the area.

Once Arthur had moved on, Merlin turned to his father and asked him, "You mentioned a son. One that was taken from you. May I ask to know what happened?"

Balinor smirked a bit. "You may ask."

Merlin waited patiently for a moment, waiting for his father to continue, but he didn't. "Well?" He asked, a little confused.

"You asked if you were allowed to ask. You didn't actually ask."

Merlin rolled his eyes a bit. At least the man had more humor than the dragon. "Fine then. What happened to my brother?"

Sighing, his face losing the merriment that had been there mere moments before, Balinor surveyed the area for a moment, presumably for Arthur,m but perhaps for Cenred's men, before sitting down on a log and saying, "About fourteen years ago, I met a woman. She was a sorceress, who had once lived in Uther's kingdom. When news of the purge came, she fled, and had been on the run ever thereafter. Uther was rather ruthless in hunting down every magic user he could, regardless of insignificant or weak. We decided to stick together, to try and find strength in numbers, to an extent.

"One thing led to another, and, well, a year after she gave birth to a son. Our son. My son. He had a mop of black hair, and his eyes never changed their shade of blue. Even for a child, he seemed unusually innocent. Anna, his mother, and I married a month or so before she realized that she was with child. " A smile lit Balinor's face for a moment, shedding numerous years off of his face. It fell away as he continued his tale.

"We were happy for quite a time. But she grew ill one winter. Uther's men had been unusually persistent. I later learned it was due to an assassination attempt on the prince's life, and Uther suspected magic. We evaded them, but the cold and constant movement left Anna with the fever. Mordred was five at the time.

"She held on for so long... I thought she would make it. But then... then, then she was gone. She was gone, and soon after, so was out son. I had left Mordred in the cave we had been living in, by the fire. I wanted him to remember his mother as she had lived, not as she had died. There was a bit of a thaw, so it wasn't overly difficult, physically at least. I was gone perhaps an hour, and when I returned... he was gone.

"I searched frantically for him for a week, tearing apart the forest in the area. I even enchanted some of the creatures in the forest to help me. But I did not find him. I can only assume the child died. That my last link to my wife is dead."

Swallowing thickly, Merlin asked, "What was his name?" He didn't know why, perhaps it was a perverse need to know everything about this dead sibling that he could. This little brother he would never know. But he had to know.

"Mordred." the name fell from Balinor's lips in a near whisper. "His name was Mordred."

Merlin stared at his father in profound shock, mouth hanging open. "Did you say Mordred?" "My brother's name is Mordred?"

"Yes..." Balinor replied warily. "Why?"

Ignoring his father's question for a moment, he clarified, "Mordred, his name was Mordred, and he had dark hair, some would say black? With eyes the same blue as those of a newborn child? And an undefinable air of innocence? Perhaps thirteen summers old? With magic?"

Balinor, thoroughly bewildered at this point, simply nodded to everything his son was asking, as it all fit his lost child perfectly, it described the boy he thought had died, but if he had, how could Merlin describe him so well? "Yes, yes. That sounds like my son. Why do you ask such things?"

Merlin ran a hand through his hair, the other on his hip, as he paced, looking shocked. He finally turned to face his father, and told him hoarsely, "I... I think I've met him. I think I've met my little brother."

"What?" Balinor yelped, shocked. He leaped up, and grabbed Merlin by the jacket, eyes wild, "Where? When? Is he alive?" He begged, desperate, with the desperation only a parent who has lost a child can know. "Please," He begged, "Tell me."

Gulping, Merlin placed his hands on his father's, and, staring into his eyes, told him slowly, "I saw him last perhaps a month ago. Arthur took me along when he and the knights raided a renegade camp, because they had stolen the Crystal of Neahtid from the Royal Vaults beneath the Citadel at Camelot. I saw him there, the leader of the renegades, Alvarr, had been mentoring Mordred, I think. He told him to run, and when some guards gave chase, I tripped them. Mordred ran, and wasn't caught. To my knowledge, he's alive. Before then, I saved him from execution for being a druid. That was a year and a half ago. So, I think , I know he is alive. He's out there. We can find him."

Balinor looked at him, truly looking. Merlin felt as if he knew that Merlin wasn't giving the whole truth, but was satisfied that it was enough of it. He gave a large grin, and pulled Merlin into a hug. "Thank you," He whispered. "Thank you." Merlin just smiled, and hugged his father, resolving to find his brother again. To bring him to his father. And, gods forbid, if his father died taking on Kilgarrah, he'd take in the boy himself, damn the consequences, damn destiny, damn Uther. Family was important. He would not abandon any family he found.

Standing back Balinor gave his new found son another smile, and they went back to gathering wood, and kindling, for the fire.

That night, as Arthur slept, Merlin and Balinor stood watch. Balinor was carving, whittling something. Merlin wasn't sure what, but he was happy just to watch. Balinor blew away some wood shavings.

Carefully, cautiously, Merlin broke the the silence. "Why did you never return?"

Balinor, was silent for a beat before saying, "At first, it was because I thought her life would be better without me, and then I met Anna, and didn't want to hurt either of them. I thought your mother would have married in that time."

"Why?" Merlin asked, to both parts of the answer.

"Uther wanted me dead." Balinor said bluntly, "If he'd have found me, he would have killed me... and your mother. I wanted her to be safe."

"We could have come with you." Merlin ventured.

Balinor shook his head, "What kind of a life would you have had here?"

"We'd have been... happy." Merlin replied, knowing it to be true. Balinor shook his head, going back to his carving, and the slight smile on Merlin's face fell away, before returning as an idea hit him. "When we finish, in Ealdor, maybe I could take you, to Ealdor."

Balinor shook his head again. "She won't recognize me." Merlin looked away, and Balinor continued. "I see her in you."

Merlin looked back up. He was silent a moment, before asking, "Yeah?"

Balinor nodded. "You have her kindness."

Merlin looked away a moment, pondering this, before he asked his father something that had been on his mind. "How did you become a dragon lord?"

"I didn't choose to be a dragon lord. It's not something you are taught. It's a sacred gift. For thousands of years it's been handed down from father, to son. That is what you must now become Merlin. You, and your brother."

Merlin nodded a little bit. "I would like that."

"And like all dragon lords, you won't know for sure that you have that power, until you face your first dragon." Merlin looked down a moment, again pondering this new information. "You should go to bed. We've a big day ahead of us." His father said, taking note of how late it was. He himself got up, so as to get his own sleeping roll. "Good night son."

Merlin smiled at this last piece, replying, "Sleep well, father." He couldn't believe how good it was to have someone to call father.

Although, he had to wonder, if he wasn't an only child, he wasn't the only one set to inherit his father's power, would he have it? Would he be a dragon lord? Merlin put the question out of his mind, telling himself not to worry. It wasn't as if his father was going to die anytime soon. And Kilgarrah was the only dragon left in existence.

It must have rained at some point that night, as Merlin was woken by a drop of water falling on his neck. Simultaneously clapping a hand to his neck, and opening his eyes, the first thing Merlin took note of, was a wooden dragon. It was a carved piece, like something one would make a child. He stared at it in shock a moment, before starting to smile.

However, before he could complete aforementioned smile, A gloved hand suddenly clapped itself over his mouth, as if from nowhere. He calmed a bit when he heard Arthur's voice whisper to him, "Cenred's men." before pulling his manservant up.

Arthur drew his sword, and Merlin readied himself, waiting for an attack.

Of course, they were facing in the wrong direction.

The two young men whirled around as they heard a yell come from the trees behind them. A man, a guard based upon his uniform, came running down the hill wearing Cenred's colors. Arthur pushed his manservant back as he aimed his sword to face the attacker himself, meeting him blow for blow.

More soldiers rushed to the scene, and Merlin threw his father a sword. Balinor made quick work of a few of those that attacked him, as did Arthur.

As his father faced off against a soldier, Merlin quickly grabbed another sword, so as to fight himself. A lucky thing to, as he almost immediately was at blows with a man whom had come up behind him. He and the soldier fought desperately, swinging their swords wildly. Balinor dispatched of a particularly tricky , a soldier as the guard fighting Merlin managed to disarm him, pointing his sword at the lanky warlock's chest, a sneer on his face. Merlin could only watch in a dazed shock as the man took aim, only to be blocked by Balinor's sword.

Unfortunately, the soldier was fast. He stabbed Balinor through the gut as Merlin looked on in helpless horror. Balinor fell back, and Merlin caught him, before his eyes flashed and he roared. The soldier flew back into a tree, and did not get up.

Merlin breathed hard for a moment, helping his father to lay down. The look on the dragon lord's face was one of shock, almost nausea. He seemed to be losing his strength

"Well then," Balinor gasped, "I see you have your father's talent. Merlin," he gasped, breath coming hard.

"Please no, please" Merlin begged, praying to any deity that would listen not to take his father, not now. "I can save you."

"Listen to me!" His father commanded, "Remember, be strong. A dragon's heart is on it's right side, not it's left." The dying dragon lord groaned. Merlin shook his head, tears welling up in his eyes.

"I can't do this!" Merlin whispered hoarsely. He couldn't, he honestly could not. He could not lose his father so soon after finding him. Not like this, at least.

"Listen to me!" His father said, desperation creeping into his voice. He did not have much time left in this world. "My son. I've seen enough in you to know that you will make me proud." Merlin nodded, oddly relieved at this. Balinor reached up, hand shaking, "Be strong," the man groaned in pain, and gasped out, "Find him. Please, find your brother. You'll do me proud." His hand fell back, and his head slowly fell back, going limp.

"No." Merlin whispered. This couldn't happen. He could not lose his father. He could not.

But it didn't matter. Balinor, the last of the dragon lords, Camelot's only hope for salvation, Merlin's father, was dead. And there was nothing the foretold Emrys could do about it.

Merlin finally let his tears fall.

A/N - So, here is the first chapter of my first NaNoWriMo and piece of Merlin FanFiction. This should be the last of what I borrow from individual episodes, as far as dialogue goes. Now for the interim year between Seasons 2 and 3. Tell me what you think. Oh, and I started a Yahoo! Group for the Merlin fandom, called The Brighter Side, Obviously in reference to Merlin's comment to Gaius. Link on my profile.