A/N: So. Another AU. I know you wanna kill me, but it was Ultra-Geek's idea, and someone had to do it, and the plot bunnies! They attacked! Sorry. This story will be continued, but probably not until I've gotten a bit of work out of the way by finishing Wolf in Sheep's Clothing and getting myself more firmly set into Polishing Armor. So all thanks to Ultra-Geek, and here we go!
The general hubbub of the camp filled the back of Arthur's mind with noise, but he expertly ignored it as he strode down the foot-packed dirt road. He was faintly irritated, but working on not showing it. He'd just cornered – finally! – the pretty woman working in the medical tent when his father's messenger showed up and told him that his father wanted to see him. Arthur had told Gwen he would return, but she'd only chuckled and returned to going about her business. He sighed.
As he came to the shack that his father was in, a slightly more permanent structure among everything else, which was temporary, he sighed and took a moment to collect himself, pushing his blond hair back and straightening his posture. Uther didn't like him to look less than alert. The family might not be royalty any longer, but you wouldn't know it from Uther's behavior.
Arthur slipped in, spotting his father at once, leaning over a map set on a table with Leon standing next to him. He was talking through his teeth in that way he had, showing he was serious, and Leon was bobbing his brown head, making his curls bounce.
Arthur strode over and stood up straight next to the table. "Father? You called me?"
Uther looked up. He had stormy eyes that matched his gray hair and a face lined with many years of being firm and in charge. Arthur would look like that one day if he could be as much of a leader, and live as long, as his father.
"Yes," Uther said. "I suppose you heard what happened to the group we sent to Camelot."
"I have. There were no survivors?" Their mission had been to get something good for the Mundanes, no matter what it was, whether it was political rights or the assassination of a high official. Uther had felt that the refugees just couldn't survive without any hope.
"None. Morale is lower than ever."
"Don't worry too much, Father," Arthur said. "The people trust you too much; they wouldn't begin to cause trouble when this group is the only thing keeping them alive."
"We've already caught two petty thieves this week," Leon spoke up. "And curfew is continually broken."
"Surely those are just small things?" asked Arthur.
"They build," Leon told him. Arthur looked at him. Leon was a young man, perhaps in his late twenties, with a kind face. He wasn't made for a life of hiding, but he'd adapted. The pro-magic law had been instated when Leon was about five, but they had really begun to crunch down recently. Over the collar of his shirt, Arthur could see where the "X" scar that covered his chest ended. A brand for a first time offender or a small rebellion against the Old Religion. Uther had one too. Very many of refugees did.
"They do, Arthur," said Uther. "But morale I can handle. It's the failure of the mission that is alarming. We cannot afford to lose ground. We need to think of the future."
"Are you going to try it again?" Arthur asked respectfully.
Uther nodded. "With a few modifications. A smaller group this time. We just need one person to infiltrate the palace."
"What will the mission be?" Arthur asked.
"Information," Uther said. "We need to know the workings of the court. And then, assassination."
"We're going to combine the two things?"
Uther nodded, walking away from the map on the table. "The king or the prince would be the best targets. It doesn't matter where we begin to make headway, for we have made none so far. And we need to start somewhere."
Arthur blinked. Basically, he thought to himself, might as well be hung for a cow as a goat. That wasn't a very Uther-esque plan. They must be desperate.
He thought that over.
Uther opened a small box they had sitting on another, smaller table, and reached inside with his back turned to Arthur. "All we need," he said, "is a volunteer."
Arthur cleared his throat. Well, he was the best fighter the resisting refugees had, and he'd learned from the best. And he was hardly a stranger to hiding or to diplomacy, thanks to training from the one-time king of Camelot—the man standing in front of him. "Father," he said. "I would like to volunteer." It was fitting, after all, that the man who never got to be prince, thanks to Balinor, should strike this sort of blow against the magical government.
Uther turned around. He held a long knife with a delicately carved hilt in his hand. "I know," he said, and drove the tip of the knife into the wood of the table for Arthur to take up himself.
A/N: So the rest of the chapters will probably be a bit longer, but this is to get us all started off. There you go! Please review. Tell me what you thought.