The Doves were still in the Castle an hour later which was causing all kinds of gossip and uproar but Merlin found he didn't care. The tower hadn't fallen over and the fire was out and he had other things to worry about, namely getting his mother and Henry back.
Now surrounded by what was becoming his inner war council, including a very quiet Arthur, Merlin felt his destiny beginning to weigh on him once more. There was no doubt that although he wanted to avoid war and strife, one was brewing and one he would be ready for. As the King had listened to the never ending advice he was receiving he realized that the great destiny Killgarrah had been speaking of was now upon him. The days of being Arthur's bumbling manservant and silent protector were long gone. He sighed, sipping his small glass of wine, and yes Arthur had taken great pleasure in saying that his majesty should only have a small glass and found his mind becoming darker.
Of course, Merlin knew having the most over protective brother and boyfriend in the history of Albion meant one of them would be fussing if he didn't speak in a minute.
"Sire." Leon offered raising an eyebrow.
"Yes your Grace."
"Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, I've listened to everyone's advice and my mind is made up. We are getting them back. Tomorrow. We can fake a letter from Aiden and send it on to the Norsemen. When he comes to Castle Desmond he and Annis will have to be greeted by you Duke Kay. Then the Dragon can bring you both to me."
Leon looked like he wanted to protest but Merlin raised a hand, "Someone needs to meet Queen Annis and explain. I have to go and strip Loki of his magic. Think about it from the Norsemen's viewpoint, they would expect Thomas to go and I hardly doubt Thomas is going to stand by when we are trying to save his brother."
"And I'm not going to stand by and let you leave."
Merlin knew he wouldn't win this argument but hoped Leon would know he wouldn't budge. "I know. But this is an order and that's the end of it. Don't be alarmed. I'll have Thomas and fifty of the Knights and besides I'll be a poor handmaiden helping the Princess, it's the perfect disguise."
"And my army, well what's left of it." Gerry helpfully chipped in with, Leon thought.
"And me, your Grace. I can fight you know." Mithian offered.
Leon shook his head, "You'll need more than fifty knights."
"But that's the whole idea, you will come with the rest of them and my army. Remember this is meant to be a peace delegation, well publicly with Aiden betraying us. It will look very strange if suddenly half the Kingdom has turned up. I will call for you, you will know when and that's when you strike."
"I'm against it, I'm sorry Sire. It is very risky. The more I think about it, the more I think we should take Loki on in combat." Leon said, voice even, not wishing to betray his emotions, he couldn't let his brother walk into the Lion's den without him.
"Yes, it is. But what is riskier is causing a battle with thousands dead on both sides. By being in the Castle we can fight from within and then let you in. Kay we don't have the numbers for an open fight, we have to be different."
"He's right." said Arthur, all eyes now on him. "That, I mean, sorry Sire."
"Nonsense." Merlin smiled. "You are my friend and I asked for your opinion. If I don't want it I'll tell you."
Leon knew he wasn't going to win. "Please Sire just be careful. The Kingdom has suffered enough losses and I have no desire to become King."
"You won't be. I'll still be here in twenty years' time; you can't get rid of me."
"Very well, I know when I am beaten."
"Good." Thomas said. "I don't like any of it either Your Grace but I want my brother back with as little bloodshed as possible and I promise I'll protect the King or die trying."
Merlin and Arthur shared a secret, small glance at each other at the choice of words, both remembering Merlin's declaration when faced with the Dorcha.
"Thank You Thomas. Now, it is getting late and we have an early start." Merlin rose, "Please all stay and finish your drinks. I bid you all a good night. Your Grace would you mind escorting me to my chambers? Arthur perhaps you'll be good enough to speak to the Kitchen's and arrange the supplies for tomorrow. Visit me later please."
Leon was now worried he was going to be on the end of a legendary Merlin telling off. He had seen them in operation before, the one Gwaine got was not to be repeated. Merlin didn't speak all the way until they were safely in his chambers.
"I'm sorry." Leon blustered out, wanting to get it out of the way.
"What on earth for?"
"Well disagreeing with you."
Merlin ran a hand through his hair. "I thought I told you that you needed to speak your mind. I don't mind you doing it at all. We are never going to always agree. You will always want to protect me. I keep telling you I am not made of glass but you don't seem to listen. Leon I am the world's most powerful sorcerer. I don't think you fully appreciate what I can do."
"Probably not but this Loki, he has magic too and he managed to defeat Gwaine and take a castle of yours. He's not going to go down without a fight is he?"
"No. And that's where you come in."
"I'm confused, I thought I wasn't coming?"
"No, you aren't yet but I will call for you and you have another task too."
"Of course, what is it?"
"The Dragon Egg. We're hatching it now. Then you're going to get the baby Dragon to Killgarrah with me tonight. "
"Because we need two Dragons, and we are going to need reinforcements. You don't think that I think fifty Knights will do it do you?"
"Well, but, you said?"
"I know Leon. But we are going to need more troops and for that, we need the Diamonds and Gold. I've been working with Gwaine, he's built up an army of a few thousand now and we need to get them over here without being stopped by the Norsemen."
With Leon looking confused, Merlin continued. "The Norsemen are trying to control the seas, now they haven't got enough control to stop Annis and her party, especially with a Dragon protecting them but they can harass an army."
"How is the army going to get here then?"
"Magic, very powerful magic. Dragon magic mixed with that of a Dragon Lord. Between me, Killgarrah and the Baby we have enough power to transport an entire army. An army which is going to be meeting you and then led by you. "
"Wait, why didn't you tell me and where did you find the time?"
Merlin laughed, "Did you just think I was sleeping with Arthur and that was it? I can stop time remember? Don't tell me you didn't feel any of it?"
"Well I felt yesterday for a minute that I was stuck and unable to move but didn't think anything of it."
"That was me. I needed to sleep and I didn't want you worrying."
"How long for?"
"An hour, possibly a little more. I don't need a lot of sleep. Arthur will tell you that I was always dozing but that was only after I had used a lot of magic."
"Wow. Well thank you for trusting me now." Leon said, a little put out.
"Leon, don't get funny. I'm telling you now because I wasn't sure if I could pull this all off and I wanted to make sure the plans were in place to help you. Now they are I'm telling you."
"I thought we weren't to have secrets brother?"
"We don't, you're always going to be the first to know but if I don't know myself I can't tell you can I?"
Leon appreciated that he wasn't going to get anywhere and it wasn't like Merlin had run off or something and he was the King after all. "So Gwaine is in charge of military strategy?"
Merlin snorted, "No. He might be a good Knight but he's too hot headed, you're in charge and that's the end of it. He knows this and I think he's relieved because of what happened with him losing the castle in the first place. "
"Does Arthur know any of this?"
"No, and that's something I'll have to deal with. He cannot be too overburdened, Gaius told me his mind was still recovering."
"He won't thank you for hiding anything from him Merlin."
"No and neither do you but I have to do what is right for me and the Kingdom. Now, fancy meeting a baby dragon?"
"Yes but you should bring Arthur too. It will be easier for all of us."
Merlin rubbed his eyes, "I'm never going to be left alone am I?"
Leon barked out a laugh, "Merlin you're in love with the most possessive Prince in all of Albion and you have me as a brother. You're lucky you aren't locked in a tower."
"I know. Where is he?"
Leon shrugged, "You told him to come later."
"Well I want him now."
"Why don't you do what he used to do to you and bellow across the castle until he found you and then berate him for laziness?"
Merlin clapped, "Oh it's too much. I have to do it." He raised a finger, "Let me get my best Dragon calling voice ready." Then he barked "ARTHUR!" and had to step back as he saw the vibrations bounce off the walls. Leon giggled. "ARTHUR." Merlin shouted again and thought he could hear swearing.
"One more for luck?" Leon suggested.
"ARTHUR. GET YOUR LAZY BACKSIDE IN MY CHAMBERS NOW OR IT'S THE STOCKS FOR YOU!"
Now Merlin definitely heard swearing and then the stomping which could only belong to one person. With his best innocent face on he awaited the inevitable barrage.
Arthur came running into the chambers and then bowed, smiling sweetly, "Sire you bellowed? How may I help you?"
"Ah Arthur," A smirking Leon said, "We are going on a little visit and want you to come with us don't we Sire?"
Merlin nodded enthusiastically, "Yes, yes we do."
"Sire." Arthur bit out. "May I ask why you felt the need to bellow?"
This earnt a shrug from Merlin. "Was it a bellow?" "Your Grace was one bellowing?"
"No your Majesty, I heard no bellow. Why we were just remarking how long it was taking you Arthur and then here you are. As if by magic or something. How fortunate."
"Indeed. It was." Arthur said calmly. He knew exactly what they were doing and if that idiot and his brother thought they could better him they were very much mistaken.
"Where are we off to then My Lieges?"
"To the vaults, your Grace, lead the way." Merlin said, walking up to Arthur, "Arthur please after you."
"No I insist after you." Arthur said, sticking a leg out as Merlin walked past as if to try and trip him up.
"Why Arthur your leg seems to have a life of its own." Merlin said as he jumped over it, resulting in a growl from his boyfriend. "You should get that checked out, I nearly fell over it and we can't have that can we?"
"NO Sire, we can't." Bloody Merlin Arthur thought. He cheated using magic. He would get his payback that was certain and that smirking buffoon Leon would cop it too.
After a trek down to the vaults where Arthur was pleasantly thinking of ways to get his own back on his former manservant and Knight, the former King felt a chill down his back. Looking round he saw nothing but he was still a Prince and a Prince had instincts others simply didn't have.
As if he was tuned into Arthur's moods, Merlin turned round and said "What is it Arthur? You can speak freely."
"It is probably nothing. Maybe I'm turning into you, you always had funny feelings didn't you?"
"You're having one now?" Merlin asked.
Arthur frowned. "I don't actually know. I feel odd, a shiver went down my spin. I just don't feel right. "
"I don't feel anything, do you Leon?"
"No Merlin, nothing. Arthur, did you hit your head at all today? Merlin said that you need to take it easy, perhaps it is tiredness or your mind?"
"Perhaps, but you know I've always had a good sense of hearing, even without having Merlin's ears and I'm alert too."
"I'll ignore the ears comment, clot pole but we should keep our guard up."
"Why are we down here anyway? You didn't say."
"Oh. That. To hatch a Dragon's egg?"
Arthur shook his head, scowling. "And why do you think that's a good idea? You saw what the last Dragon did!"
"Yes and I also saw him save you and I more than once. I'm a Dragon Lord, they have to obey me."
"I still see no good reason for doubling your problems with those beasts!" Arthur turned to Leon "Why are you letting him do this?"
"Arthur, Merlin knows magic. If he thinks it is a good idea I trust him. I might not like it but he's the magic expert not us. Besides my magic isn't reacting and so far it flares up if Merlin is in danger."
"Really?" Arthur's eyes widened.
"Really. So watch it next time you debaunch him!" Leon starting laughing just to ease the tension.
"I, erm, erm."
"Arthur don't splutter, it's not very Princely. Leon stop making Arthur splutter. Now come on, we've got to get this Dragon to Killgarrah."
"You're giving it away? Madness." Arthur said outraged.
"No, just to help the baby grow and I can't take a baby Dragon with me can I? Now come on."
Merlin walked up to a locked door. "Key's would have been a good idea Merlin."
"No need dollop head."
Arthur shouldn't have been surprised when the door opened seemingly at its own accord nor at the treasure trove behind it. In the middle was a tomb, clearly of a former King. With a blazing torch also helpfully supplied by Merlin he walked up to it, not recognizing the language. Arthur skimmed a hand past it and bristled, feeling a shock.
"Merlin, come and see this?"
"What is it?"
"I touch this tomb, the writing and my hand bristled with this energy."
"How did you feel?"
"Like I wanted to know more, can you read what it say?"
Merlin knelt down to read more closely. "Leon get over here!"
"What? What is it?"
"It's Irish, one of the languages of the old religion." Merlin looked to Leon and Arthur, the text, it wraps around the tomb." Merlin motioned to them both to follow him as he translated.
"It's odd, it is a prophecy. It says "Albany will be angry, calling her near neighbours to her. The sixth Ambrosius shall throw down the walls of Ireland. The sixth shall unite the different parts into one whole and he shall be crowned with the Lion. For when Magic is restored, so shall the son of the Dragons return."
"Pendragon." Arthur said quietly.
"What?" Merlin looked at him.
"Son of the Dragons, that's me. Pendragon means son, child or sometimes chief depending on the language. Albany is another name for Albion. Merlin this tomb is talking about you and me!"
"Yes but it doesn't say who is inside there does it?" Leon said.
"No, there's no name. Wait. No. It can't be."
"What? What is it?" Arthur said. "Merlin you look like you've seen a ghost."
"There's a name on there but it's not one of us. It says Killgarrah, here lives the Great Dragon."
"are you sure Merlin?" Leon asked.
Merlin nodded, "Very, now let's find the egg and get out of here. We will have to ride out and hatch it in the forest. "
"And find out why Killgarrah's tomb is in your castle." Leon added.
"Indeed, though I don't think I'm going to like the answer."
"Well the sooner we get out of here the better, this place. It makes me feel funny." Arthur said.
With the egg being surprisingly easy to find, Merlin suspect his magic had had a role in that, the three men crept back up from the vaults in a reflective mood. Both Leon and Arthur saw how Merlin was clearly pained at the revelation of a tomb with his Dragon's name on it and both knew they didn't have a good enough answer for him.
After a visit to the stables which had resulted in a short and sharp exchange between two of the men over who was better at caring for horses and which one of them knew how to ride them properly and which one of them smelt like the stables in the morning, which had resulted in the third part, namely the Duke of Leinster telling them both to pack it then, Merlin, Arthur, and said Duke departed the castle quietly, Egg firmly in place in Merlin's bag.
"Where are we going then?" Arthur demanded to Merlin. Leon was taking the sensible decision in riding behind them both; he told them it was to protect them from surprise attacks.
"I told you, to the forest, that's where I will hatch him."
"How'd you know it's a he?"
Merlin shrugged, "I just do."
"One of your funny feelings no doubt? Though now I know why you got them!" Arthur said smiling.
"Well they certainly helped you out of a hole or too, not that I got any thanks for it. All I got was a 'don't worry Merlin', 'stop being a girl Merlin.'"
Arthur stared at him, "You know I never meant them. You're the bravest man I know." And just because he could, "Cute too."
"Alright don't get used to it. I'm still not convinced this isn't all some mad dream and I'll wake up to find you spilling water over me again."
"Well you slept like the dead." Merlin retorted before going quiet.
"What is it?'
"Clearly it is. Look is it about the tomb?"
"Yes and No. Arthur look Leon and I, we died and we came back to life. Now I find a tomb mentioning you and me that apparently is the Dragon's. I'm just a bit freaked out."
"You and me both. But Merlin whatever happens, we face these threats head on and together as a team. You and me. And Leon. Isn't that right Leon?"
Merlin chuckled, "He's deliberately not listening to us. He thought we might bicker too much."
"Oh Merlin." Arthur said sweetly, "It was never bickering, it was you not doing as you were told."