The court was always so cold. So bitter. So desolate. No matter how many colorful garments filled the room, no matter the strength of the perfume that floated off impeccably dressed ladies, the hall lacked warmth. But it wasn't always like this. Not when the baby princess was first born, when nothing could be heard but laughter within the walls of the citadel. Aurora Pendragon was adored from the moment she took her first breath, and the kingdom celebrated the birth of the heir to the throne of Camelot with their sovereigns.
Arthur and Gwenivere Pendragon were never happier.
In celebration of her birth, the King and Queen threw a great party, and as the Court Warlock, Emrys, stood by the cradle, preparing to bestow on the child a blessing, the room grew suddenly frigid. The great doors flew open and from the darkness walked in the High Priestess Morgana. Before anyone could retaliate, she cast a terrible spell on the girl, and Aurora was cursed to an eternal slumber. But Emrys was clever and quick, retaliating with another, so that true love's first kiss could break the terrible curse.
Dear reader, I suspect you now expect me to recant the tale of Sleeping Beauty. The tale of the enchanted princess Aurora and the brave prince who will come to her aid, braving terrible beasts to save her. But I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint you and say that this is not the story I'm here to tell. No, I'm here to tell you the story of Emrys and Morgana before they were destined to fight on opposing sides of the board.
If you'll allow me, I'd like to take you back in time, far before Emrys was Emrys and Morgana was the most feared High Priestess in the seven kingdoms. Let's go back seventeen years.
You are in a farm village. Scrawny cows graze in the yellowed fields; houses stand dirty next to each other, their shingles falling with the smallest gusts of wind. Do not get comfortable, we won't be here long. Enter a young man. He has ebony hair and eyes whose color rival that of the South Seas. Wearing threadbare clothes, he carries on his thin shoulders large sacks of grain.
His name, Merlin.
From afar, he appears to be an average farmboy, whose destiny will contain nothing more than a mundane existence in a forgotten town at the edge of a great kingdom. But you see, my dearest reader, this boy has a gift, and rumors of it have traveled further than anyone could have foreseen. In fact, whispers of his ability have reached the court of the King Leodogrance. Loved by many, the ruler of the kingdom of Glendale is always on the lookout for additions to his gifted court. Artists, poets, writers (such as myself), musicians, chefs, mathematicians…and it goes on. Humbly said, the most brilliant are always found within the stone walls of the citadel. However, one gift that the King has been unable to boast is magic. The Old Religion has long since faded, and now there are very few born with the ability to transcend the planes of fantasy and reality. So when word of a boy at the outskirts of the empire with power potent enough to reach the ears of a king seated in his fortress, the sovereign did not hesitate in sending an envoy to fetch the young man and bring him under his protective care. There, the King could watch as the greatest professors nurtured the boy's gift so that, someday, it could serve the growing power of Glendale.
That is how a farmboy found himself at the gates of a place he had only ever dreamed of.
Now dear reader, I will leave you to enjoy this tale. I'll warn you that while it may appear to be, this is not a fairytale, and unlike fairytales, this story will not have a happy ending. But if your heart is strong enough, then I bid you luck and a fond farewell as you leave to start this journey. So prepare yourself and pack your bags with your favorite snacks (hot cocoa is always perfect in such situations) because your story starts (-dramatic pause-) now.
Stepping down from the rich carriage, Merlin looked up at the brilliant white turrets of the castle. In a daze, the farmboy stumbled forward, disbelieving, as he tried to take in as much as he could, all the while trying to figure whether this was just a dream.
Merlin shook himself out of his amazed stupor as a sharp voice called out to him. Tearing his eyes away from the gargantuan stone dwelling, he turned at the sound.
The man was richly dressed from head to foot, and even though he had never worn anything so fine, Merlin couldn't help but think that the man looked ridiculous. He was dressed in bright red pants embroidered with gold, and wore a bright purple velvet jacket which was tied all the way up to his chin. Bright yellow ruffles sprung from the jacket and put the man's head at a seemingly break neck position with his chin almost lifted all the way up. And not only was his outfit frightening, so was the man's posture. His back was board straight, his feet stiff, and his ankles pressed together. He held in his hand a large feather quill and a leather notebook in which he was madly scribbling.
"You know, it's rude to stare, "the man barked.
"So…sorry," Merlin stuttered.
"Sorry, sir," the man corrected strictly, putting a heavy emphasis on the last word. "Now come on, boy, I don't have all day." With that, he turned around and walked through the large doors, not looking back to check he was being followed (the pompous pigeon).
Securing his small bag around his shoulder, Merlin leapt up the stairs and followed the man into the castle, and unknowingly, to his destiny.
The man ahead walked briskly through the labyrinth of halls. How will I memorize all these passages? Merlin thought as he turned corner after corner, walking down hall after hall of richly decorated corridors. So immersed he was in the scenery, that he ran into his guide when the man suddenly stopped.
"Sorry…sir," Merlin blustered, nearly forgetting the formality at the end.
"Don't you know any other words?" the man asked sharply as he brushed himself off. "Now boy, these are the quarters of the court physician, Gaius. You'll be staying and helping him—the King does not take kindly to useless wards." And with those brisk words, the man was gone, leaving Merlin in front of old, worn mahogany doors, hesitant to enter.
Plucking up what little courage he possessed, Merlin lifted his hand and knocked on the door, turning the old brass doorknob and entering when a gruff voice from inside said to do so. He closed the door behind him and looked around the room. It was fairly large, and every surface was covered with books or glass containers housing things from herbs to preserved eyeballs. Seated at one of the tables, an old man in a dark red tunic was studying the contents of a dirty glass vial. The man looked up, his eyes narrowing at the sight of the raven haired boy at his door.
"Merlin…sir." Walking over, the boy handed the man a letter. "I'm here—"
"I know who you are." The old physician stood up and looked up at the boy, slightly disappointed that the young man was taller than him. "My name is Gaius. Let me show you to your room."
Gaius led Merlin to the end of the room where a small staircase led to small, sparsely decorated room. "Set down your things and let me fix you something, I'm sure you're hungry from your long trip. Ealdor is quite a ways from here."
"You've been to Ealdor?" Merlin asked, surprised. Few people knew of the village's existence, let alone traveled there.
"A lifetime ago," he muttered in reply, but said nothing else on the matter before leaving the room.
As he arranged his things, Merlin took a closer look at the place that would be his home for who knows how long. A small desk sat in the corner, and a worn wooden cupboard rested empty across from a window. Walking towards the little opening, Merlin looked out onto the city. The sun was beginning to set, and lights were being lit all over the city. Smoke rose from the multitude of buildings down below, and he watched as people made their way back home.
Tearing his eyes away from the view, Merlin walked down the steps and to the main room, taking a seat at an old bench. Gaius trudged over and handed the boy a bowl of what looked like white sludge, placing a large bucket of water on the table in front of him.
"Thank you, Sir," Merlin said hesitantly.
"Enough with that Sir business, there is no need for it here."
"But the man who brought me here—"
"Oh, Martin is an arrogant fool, a stickler for rules. Ignore him. Now eat before it gets cold."
Merlin nodded and picked up his spoon, trying to hide his disgust and preparing himself to eat whatever the physician had handed him. Gaius looked at him from the corner of his blue eyes, observing. Suddenly, without warning, the physician hit his hand on the bucket, sending it tumbling. For an instant, Merlin's eyes glowed gold, and the pail froze. Gaius gasped and Merlin looked at him in shock before dropping his hand. The bucket hit the floor, water spilling everywhere.
It spread on the floor, slowly soaking the bottom of Gaius's tunic, but the man paid it no mind. He was fixated instead on the boy seated at his table.
"So the rumors are true."
"What rumors?" Merlin asked hesitantly, wringing his pale hands.
"That you can do magic, the likes of which have never been seen before."
Gaius took a seat next to the boy, still looking at him curiously—if not a little nervously. "Do you know anything about magic, boy?"
"Not much…I've never studied if that's what you mean."
"Well most magic isn't instinctual—" Seeing the boy's confusion, Gaius amended himself. "What I mean is that when most magicians use their skills, they have to think and use spells. The magic doesn't simply come to them naturally. Which begs the question, where did you learn to do so?"
"I don't know. I was born like this." Merlin stood up and walked towards the window across the room to look at the darkening sky before continuing quietly, his voice choked and broken. "So it's true. I am a monster, I'm cursed."
"No, my boy. What you have is a gift. Why do you think you were brought here if not because you possess it? Yours is an ability that even a king desires."
"I thought I was just brought here because the King feared that I would hurt someone."
"And that he does. Anyone who is wise would fear your ability. It's like has little been seen ever in the Seven Kingdoms. Obviously, he's apprehensive, but he admires it even more. "
"But I've only ever been told that magic is evil."Merlin replied bitterly.
"Magic is like a sword. It can be used for great things just as for terrible things. With the proper training, your magic can be used as a force for good." Gaius sighed as he looked at the boy's back. "Now come and eat your supper. You should get to bed soon—it'll be a long day tomorrow."
Merlin turned and followed his new guardian's orders, picking up the spoon and preparing to eat the glue in his bowl. He was about to take a mouthful before a hand stopped him, Gaius looking at him with what could be a smile-Merlin wasn't quite sure how to read this man's emotions yet.
"Here," Gaius handed him a sandwich and Merlin smiled before beginning to eat, the previous conversation already forgotten.
That night, after seeing that the boy had gone to bed, Gaius slipped out of his chambers. Walking down the corridors silently, the old physician made his way to the throne room, where King Leodogrance was seated—deep in thought.
"My lord. I'm sorry to disturb you."
The King started, but smiled at the sight of one of his most trusted advisers. "Not at all, Gaius. What news do you have on the newest addition to Glendale?"
"The boy is well mannered and quiet, if not a bit flustered. But give him time and I'm sure he'll fit in well here. This is a lot to take in for a country boy."
"Of course…" Trailing off, the King ran his finger on the polished wooden armrest of his throne. "Have you seen his…gift?"
"Yes," Gaius replied softly, thinking back to it, his eyes filling with awe at the memory. "I've not seen such a display of the Old Religion for a very long time. The boy is powerful, there is no denying it. However, he is conflicted. It will take time for him to become comfortable using an ability which he has grown up believing is wrong."
The King cursed. "Uther's influence grows. Camelot's fear of magic has even reached the edges of my empire."
"This boy could change that."
"What do you mean?"
Gaius was quiet for a moment, trying to find the right words. "With a gift like his, he could become an example to the kingdom. A living proof that magic is good and not as terrible as Uther spells it out to be..."
"…And in turn, weaken Camelot's authority." The King smiled as he completed the thought. "See to it that the boy starts his tutelage tomorrow."
Bowing slightly, the physician turned to leave. As he was closing the doors behind him, the King's voice stopped him.
"Yes, my lord?"
"What's the boy's name?"
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING!
Ok, I have the notes here at the bottom so that you could get a taste of the story, and then see what I have to say.
1) This is, if you haven't already noticed, a massive AU
2) Warnings will come at the beginnings of each chapter. This story will have some very violent themes and some sexual content (hence the M rating)
3) I will be updating ever week, Wednesday or Thursday, unless something comes up or I have something planned-but I will warn you about that
4) My notes are on the bottom, so any info about following chapters will be down here
5) Beta is the lovely Merlyn Pendragon, you should read her stuff, IT'S SPECTACULAR
6) At the beginning of each chapter I'll just have a mergana song, I don't know, to get you in the mood. Song recommendations are brilliant
7) The first 2 chapters don't have much action. I made that decision because I figured because this is such an AU, I wanted to develop the world a bit first. But I promise, by chapter 3 you will begin getting your action sequences
8) Reviews are always always always welcome. It's just nice to know if people are interested, and constructive criticism is welcome. This is a work in progress, so if you have a scene in mind or you want me to just clarify something in the story, than I'll happily put it in
9)...running out of things to say, I really wanted to get to 10...
10) OH YES! I'll be publishing this on livejournal, so if you have an account there and would prefer to read it there, than just PM me and I'll give you the details
THANK YOU AGAIN FOR DROPPING BY (and if you chose to read all my little bullet points. My notes are usually more entertaining but sadly some important house-keeping cannot be forgotten)!