"Where are you taking me?" Merlin shouted over the whistling wind.
"There is something you must see," Kilgharrah said. He didn't say anymore and Merlin didn't bother to ask again. He should have known by now how the dragon liked to keep his riddles to himself. Merlin fell into silence once more, still reeling at the horror of knowing he himself had brought this fate to Camelot.
Kilgharrah descended from the clouds and landed in an unfamiliar area. The land was beautiful, with soft grass and a glittering shore which rivalled that of Avalon. He could see land across the ocean and parts of an old temple remained on the island. Merlin curiously studied the walls which looked to be of the Old Religion. Tentatively, Merlin reached out with his magic to sense the earth. He blinked in shock as he recognised it.
"It feels like the Isle of the Blessed," Merlin commented.
"That's because it is, young warlock," replied Kilgharrah, his eyes glittering. Merlin stared around in shock.
"It can't be!" he exclaimed, even as he saw it with his own eyes. The altar he'd come to know so well lay not too far, along with the remnants of the castle. He blinked with surprise as he realised he could now see past the ruins and saw trees and life, wild and pure across the land. He'd only ever seen The Isle of the Blessed filled with mist, the earth barren and neglected.
"What happened?" he asked in awe, drinking in the peaceful air.
"You did, shield bearer," Kilgharrah said with something like sadness in his voice.
"Why do you call me that?" Merlin asked uneasily, meeting Kilgharrah's ancient eyes.
"You challenged the Cailleach, Merlin. By doing so, you named yourself a Keeper of Light. Namely, the shield bearer. The power you wielded that night should not have been. It gave you the ability to banish the Dorocha and redeem the Isle to some of its former glory." Merlin looked around him in wonder once more at a land that had only meant pain and loss for him. Now there was life and colour, the land was unrecognisable.
"I don't understand, what's a Keeper of Light? And I don't remember naming myself anything!" Merlin protested weakly.
"Think, Merlin. Those were ancient words you uttered and I dare not repeat them." Kilgharrah watched as the young man frowned in concentration.
Bebiede be arisan, ypile cume mec! Beo scildanbora steacra strengthe ealdan aewfaestnesse, ic the diegol searobend! Fago, folgie min bebeod!
It hadn't been a conscious decision to speak those words. They had simply come to him. They'd felt right and, he admitted there had been an ancient feel in the air, in his bones.
"Scildanbora," he murmured. The word settled on him with a finality that was both fitting and foreboding. It seemed that, without realising it, Merlin had created another destiny.
"Uther's purge was more damaging to magic than he ever could have guessed. He didn't stop at killing sorcerers. He hunted and killed ruthlessly, destroyed shrines and sacred sources of magic, burning the trees of nymphs, poisoning rivers of naiads. The Sidhe of Avalon were put under siege, taking in all the magic folk they could," Kilgharrah recounted with a distant look, as if seeing the fall of magic before his very eyes once more. "Magic quite literally fled from the land, the sprites and spirits hiding elsewhere, in a realm known only as the Sanctuary of the Old Religion.
It is growing once more. The boundary between here and the Sanctuary grows thinner before its time. The ease with which you broke it proves this. The land isn't ready yet and the balance is on the verge of collapsing. The realm needs a Keeper and now, one has been named. You."
Merlin's face paled the more it dawned on him. He hadn't dreamt that the rule of Uther had been so damaging.
"I don't know what any of this means, what do I do, exactly?" Merlin asked shakily. Kilgharrah's voice quietened but lost none of its authority as he explained.
"It means that you now have an active part to play in the balance. You know some of its power, you already wielded it before with the cup of life and mirroring life and death." Images of lightening and spilt blood flashed through Merlin's mind. Kilgharrah continued with what could have been regret in his voice. "I had falsely assumed that was all that would be required of you. It seems I was wrong. By naming yourself shield bearer, just as the Cailleach keeps the veil, you now protect the realm of magic.
Only a Keeper can truly summon creatures of magic from the Sanctuary. Only a Keeper has the power to send them back. You will know more of what occurs around you. Your senses which had been growing will now become sharpened. When you sensed the cup and the tearing of the veil, you left yourself vulnerable. Am I right in saying you recently lost consciousness as a result?"
Merlin nodded weakly, wishing he could sit down and press his hands to his ears to stop himself from listening.
"These creatures that answered your summons must be stopped. Be careful, Merlin," he warned softly, concern showing through. "Despite all the good magic can do, there is still the darkness that Uther feared lurking in the depths of the earth and now, I fear they will reawaken."
Merlin sank to the floor and stared off into the distance. Kilgharrah watched with sympathy, knowing it wasn't fear for himself that raged through the young man. He'd known him long enough to see that the warlock had courage. He was simply overwhelmed.
"I can't do it, Kilgharrah" he uttered, shaking his head numbly. "Whatever it is I just can't. I've made too many mistakes just protecting Camelot, just one city. I can't protect the whole land! Look at the mess I've made already!" Merlin looked up at him desperately. The old dragon could see the fear of failure and years of insecurity and inexperience weighed down on his dragonlord. But Kilgharrah knew the heart behind those fearful eyes and could see greatness there.
"You are not alone, Merlin. The mortal world stands between many realms. Each has its guardians. You may not be comforted to know that the Cailleach is one, but you forget the one other you have met. I believe it is you that made it possible for her to be appointed as the Keeper of Avalon." Merlin's eyes widened in realisation.
"Freya?" he said reverently, his voice unconsciously softening at her name.
"This is a heavy burden you must bear, young warlock. Know that I and many others will do whatever we can to aid you," Kilgharrah reassured the overwhelmed warlock. He slowly nodded, once more taking in the life around him, life that was there because of him. In his mind, he saw the terrorised village of Kebul and the desolation of the Perilous Lands. Perhaps if he could help others it would be worth it.
"You really think I can do this, Kilgharrah?" Merlin asked, feeling ten years old under the dragon's wisdom. Kilgharrah returned Merlin's gaze with the closest thing that could come to fondness in the expression of a dragon.
"If there is one thing I know about you Merlin, it's that you care too much to fail.. Your heart is your strength Merlin, though sometimes you allow it to overwhelm you. I believe you will make the right choices in time."
"I don't know how to control these creatures, Kilgharrah," Merlin admitted quietly.
"You must find a way, Merlin. I can not help you in this task. What I can do is aid what villages I can from further terror," the dragon responded gravely. Merlin looked up sharply.
"You're going to fight them? Alone?" Merlin demanded before shaking his head. "I can't let you do this Kilgharrah." The dragon snorted defensively.
"Do not think me a defenceless beast, Merlin. I am more than capable of holding my own and you'd have to order me not to," he added solemnly. Merlin smiled fondly.
"I can't convince you not to, can I?" Merlin asked resignedly. He sighed. "I won't order you not to give protection to those you can. Thank you, old friend." Kilgharrah bowed his head in respect.
"We have a long fight ahead of us, Merlin. Prince Arthur needs you now more than ever." Merlin almost rolled his eyes. Where had he heard that before? He smiled up at his fellow kin.
"We'd best get to work."
This may seem sudden…it kind of is. I never realised how vicious those bunnies were! So I may continue with this but I'm not sure. I'm going to try and head off into canon again, but keeping my plot running with it.
So there may be a sequel…or more. What do you think?
I like all the episodes honestly but some just don't have…enough bunnies…. I'm honestly not sure what I'm planning or if ever it will be finished. Let's hope so!
Note: Leohtbora has been used to light torches. Scildan is the basic shield – Merlin uses it or the variation – Gescildan. As far as I know, the term Scildanbora hasn't been used on the show. It's Merlin's newest title :D