THIS STORY IS VERY SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED AS THE CONCLUSION OF A TWO-PART NARRATIVE. If you've not read 'By The Fires Of Camelot', I'd urge you to at least read the first chapter and the very last (and anything else in between that takes your fancy!) in order to fully follow this. Fully reading this introductory chapter WILL GIVE YOU SPOILERS.
This first chapter is an informative, non-prose chapter, giving additional information/reference material which you may find useful. Please don't skip it, just for the sake of it being an AN*.
I thought it might be helpful if I explained in detail the sequence of events which occurs just before and throughout 'By The Fires of Camelot'. You may not remember all of these things, most of these were only touched upon in chapters, yet you may find knowing the sequence of events useful for this story.
Backstory: A fatal sickness has been sweeping the land, specifically attacking those in a position of authority, who's loss would cripple Camelot. When Uther falls victim, he sends his son away to preserve the Pendragon line. And Merlin stays behind to help Gaius with the cure. Which, as the King succumbs to the last fateful stages of the disease, could only be magical in nature.
Day Zero - Evening/Night, Merlin cures Uther. Uther in turn arrests him.
Day One - Exhausted by the effects of the sickness bringing him to the brink of death, Uther rests/recuperates in bed. His advisers persuade him not to sentence Merlin until he has regained full use of his mental faculties, a residual fever still clouding his mind. Merlin awaits his fate in the dungeons.
Day Three - Uther deems himself healthy enough to pass judgement on Merlin. For the crime of sorcery, he shall burn. But first, feeling deeply betrayed by Merlin's apparent treachery, Merlin is flogged that very night, witnessed by the vindictive King. Exhausted by the trip to the dungeons, Uther sets the execution date for noon, three days' time, when hopefully his body is physically recovered enough to appear before the entire nation.
Day Four - Waiting in the dungeons, Merlin is brought his evening meal by one of the guards- who was involved in the previous day's punishment. Magic acting on instinct and fear, he is thrown against the wall and unintentionally knocked unconscious. That is the last time the guards bring Merlin food.
Day Six - At noon, the people are gathered in the Citadel courtyard to witness the execution of Merlin. All bar Arthur, who returns to Camelot just in time to witness his manservant about to be lit on fire, and calls a halt to proceedings in order to talk to him/ his father.
Arthur and Merlin talk in the dungeons well into the night, joined later by Gaius.
Night Six-Seven - Leon collects Arthur and Gaius from the dungeons, reveals the execution has been rescheduled. They come up with a plan, and hunt out the other survivors of the sickness cured by Merlin well into the night.
Day Seven - Morning. Arthur attempts his 'intervention'. He presents a fully and carefully constructed trial, yet Uther determines that this is further evidence of Merlin's power and treachery. He arrests all cured by Merlin, believing himself the one last person in control of clear thought.
Night- an hour after sunset. Merlin is burnt at the stake. Fuelled by magic, the flames rise impossibly high, obscuring him from view.
Merlin rasped out hollowed words as the flames sored higher, dances of yellow across his eyes. The people could not tell, were they glowing with that same bright flame or was it just the reflection of death's light in his eyes?
After the fires die down, there is nothing remaining.
Order in which the sickness attacked the kingdom. Not strictly necessary, but I did a hell of a lot of work on just how this 'intelligent' disease nearly destroyed the kingdom. Note: this is not a full list!
Healers, magical and traditional alike.
Strong peasant social leaders, strategic leaders of the lower town. It start creeping up on the lower town, dispensing of those who lead but are not seen by the noble leaders. It cripples silently.
Lead Knight- Sir Lion- It also attacks the single highest leader below royal status. Disables without drawing too much attention to itself.
Minor people from the court/palace.
Head Cook- provides the court with sustenance.
Blacksmith- taking away defences for exterior threat. Puts people on edge/defensive.
Children of nobles- just a few. Plays with human hearts.
Teachers/supervisors of children- would cause chaos. People are also sensitive when it comes down to children's safety.
Main food stall/supplier in the lower town.
Courtiers/advisors - those people who give advise to the highest of the high.
The King, Uther- starts getting symptoms. It is decided to send Arthur away, as he is naturally the next target.
(Crown Prince)- sent away before disease spread to him.
*DISCLAIMER: By the rules of , authors note chapters are not permitted. However, this chapter holds an immense amount of information which you will find useful/necessary for the continued enjoyment of this story, and therefore, I do not view it as an AN chapter. I am not trying to 'bend the rules'- this information is necessary, even if it is not presented within the context of fictional prose. I honestly do not call these authors notes, they are notes on the story- an appendix. I understand that other views may be different.
The first 'prologue' chapter has been written. I am currently working on perfecting it, but it should be up relatively shortly. Thank you all for your continued support.