Merlin was standing on the top of one of the cliffs, looking at the joined armies of Gawant and Anylia, marching along the mountain trail. Thousands of men and two kings who would never bow before Arthur. What's worse Arthur right now was regrouping his armies, trying to struck political deal with lord Aion, who took over the army of his former king and the former king of Dyffen, who kneeled before Arthur after changing sides at the battle of Traitors Pass.
Merlin knew, that they needed more armies to defend against the enemies all around them, which was the only reason he and Arthur decided to spare the rest of the broken armies of four kingdoms that fought against them in the battle at the Traitors Pass.
Merlin knew, that if both of them marched out of the small passage they would be able to fight Arthur's army as an equal. He couldn't allow that. But he couldn't just destroy their armies in an open fight. Merlin knew, that Arthur needed to win his battles by himself. If he just do it for him, no one would respect or fear his king. Everyone would just talk about what Merlin did, how he summoned a dragon or created a half mile hole, burying thousands men in it. What he needed to do was to be discrete. And there was something natural about the avalanches in the mountains and the fast changing weather.
"Wuendo, flæush, fæll", shouted Merlin, lifting his hands. His eyes glowed with orange light and the cloudless sky started to change, becoming clouded with the dark, ominious clouds. The wind blow from nowhere and heavy rain fell from the sky at the marching troops, making their march much more harder. People started to organize themselfs, but Merlin wasn't done. He channeled his magic to the air around him, creating furious storm. Strong winds were blowing people from the passage, throwing them into abyss beneath. Rain was making the passage muddy and people below started to lose their ground, falling down. Horses started to panic, creating a chaos in the array of troops. People started to die, but Merlin didn't stop. He was channeling his magic into the storm for almost half an hour, before he used his last play. The avalanche moved down from the mountains, ending his work, bringing people, animals and carts into the abyss beneath them, right into their deaths. Merlin gritted his teeth.
Mass murderer. His conscience whispered to him, while he continued channeling his magic into the storm. He was standing like that for a few hours, before he stopped, letting the storm to stop itself. Beneath him was few thousand men, dead or dying. Some maybe survived, scattered, but the passage was destroyed. Even if some lords or the both the kings survived, they wouldn't be able to muster enough men to retry their invasion. And with what happened, they would be an easy target for neighbouring countries. Merlin already sent messages to their kings, in which he explained, how both armies was decimated by the weather in the mountains while taking the dangerous march.
Sometimes he was looking at himself, trying to discover, who he really was. He just murdered a few thousands men, or hurt them, leaving them to die. All because Arthur needed it.
Merlin lifted his hands.
"Flægo", his eyes sparkled with orange and his body foated into the sky. He leaned back, rolling his body in the air, like he was swimming in the water. He dived into the endless blue sky with the sun shining all over his body with it's beams, feeling like his body was being cleaned from his sin. He breathed hard watery air, feeling better. He needed some time, to think, or rather not think, but just feel. Feel the cold air and the warm sun beams on his skin. Get washed in it.
He landed near the Arthur's war camp some time later. He was getting better and better at flying and managing his magic. He smiled sadly, before walking inside the camp.
"My lord", he recognized the guards in the camp, bowing his heads to him. It was something strange. So strange, he never actually get used to it. The same guards who were picking on him, when they were bored now were bowing their heads politely, saying their compliments to him. He smiled to them, waving his hand and walked inside the big tent, where Arthur was eating with the most important lords and his two new knights. Lord Aion, now the lord of the former lands of the Cantia kingdom, was sitting near king Arthur, talking to him. Merlin walked in the silence he caused by his arrival.
"Merlin!", shouted smiling Arthur, standing up, "come here, my friend!", he waved his hand at Merlin, inviting him near himself.
Merlin walked near the his chair, when his king put his muscular hand on his shoulder.
"Now, don't make me look bad", his king whispered to Merlin, lifting one of the cups filled with red wine. "To the new alliances! And to my royal advisor, Merlin, who to strengten our bond with our new allies decided to marry one of the lord's Reinevore daughters! And to you my lords!" Athur lifted his cup to his lips, drinking and the rest of his lords repeated after their king. They shouted new toasts and compliments, drinking to each other health, loudly talking.
Merlin was shocked, but he smiled drinking his wine.
"Arthur, you are joking, right?", he smiled, whispering to Arthur, begging him with his eyes.
"Shut up", whispered Arthur, smiling to other poeple, lifting his cup to them, answering their toasts.
"Arthur, is it because of the log?", whispered Merlin, repeating after his king, lifting his cup in the direction of other people, who tried to compliment him.
"Shut. Up.", Arthur whispered one more time, smiling around to his liegemen.
"So it is because of the log, Arthur, i swear, i will never do it again...", young warlock wasn't able to whisper his sentence to the end, because lord Reinevore, the former king of Dyffen walked to him with two cups of wine.
"Sire, if it please you, i would like to talk in private to your royal advisor, now that he is to wed one of my daughters", the middle aged former king bowed his silver-haired head, now without a crown on it anymore, waiting.
"It does please me, Merlin, you have my leave", nodded to both of them Arthur, meeting Merlin's blue eyes with his, showing him a sign that he counts on him.
Merlin blinked. Royal advisor nodded his head, showing that he understood and turned to the former king, who was waiting for him, now wearing Camelot's red and gold colours instead of his former, blue and green.
They walked out of the spacious tent into the warcamp, leaving the feast behind them. Merlin looked at the former king, who was acting like nothing was troubling him and losing his kingdom was nothing more then losing a penny in a bet. He was tall and muscular, yet his body was slim. He looked at Merlin with his green, dark eyes, trying to assess the men before him.
"You are not wearing clothes other lords would", started conversation former king, walking to the part of the camp, where less people were feasting.
Melrin glanced at his own clothes. Red shirt, high, shiny black boots reaching his knees, dark bronze leather pants and dark, black belt were definitely showing, that he wasn't a simple servant, but weren't giving any sign of his noble status. More like a travelling young lord, looking for adventure.
"People should be equal", said Merlin walking next to him, looking around, not feeling any urge to talk to his companion.
"But they aren't, my lord", smiled sadly former king. They were walking in silence for a moment, before they stopped. "My lord, if you wonder, why i am going to such lenghts to just talk to you, i don't have intention of lying or averting the truth. Let me tell you, why i won't betray your king and why i decided to take part in this war."
Merlin glanced at his companion, interested. That wasn't something he would expect. He nodded to the former king, watching him, wondering what he will hear.
"When i was a king and got my first daughter, i wanted to just use her to have more power, to struck an alliance", he smiled sadly, sitting on one of the logs in the camp. "When i got my second daughter, my thoughts were exactly the same. Until i got third, fourth, fifth and now i have six daughters. And no son", he looked at Merlin, who sit near him, listetening, watching him focusing on his words.
"So right now, i know my family won't be ruling over and my family name won't be known forever. It will die along me. But i also realized that i have", he smiled to himself, looking at something that couldn't be seen by no one else but him, "six beautiful daughters, my lord. And", he looked at Merlin with calm, asking eyes, "I want the to be happy, my lord. I stopped caring for the lands. Stopped caring for honors. Now i care only about the happiness of my six girls. But to do that", he sighed, "i needed to make them wed into good parties. So i went on this war, to make alliances. To share my kingdom with other kings, letting them take my daughters. And now, now i have only one choice, but the best i could ever think of. If one of my daughter marry you, every of my daughter will be the best party one could imagine. To have as the wife the sister of the wife of Merlin, the most powerful warlock, the friend of king Arthur and his right hand."
The former king stood up and kneeled before the Merlin, looking him into his eyes.
"Please, make my daughter happy, my lord."
Merlin gulped and nodded, shocked.
"I, i will try, i promise", he heard himself. And momentarily stood up. His hand bolted to his right and his eyes glowed with orange light. The time around him slowed down and he put his black boot on the kneeling lord, pushing him out of the way of the incoming knifes, rolling back. The time moved fast again and the knifes cut the air where he and the former king was standing before to the accompaniment of someone's grunt.
Merlin looked at the knife in his leg, standing out from the side of his thigh. He decided to leave it there and jumped on the other one to the former king, who was looking alright, with no visible wounds.
"To escape Nizima's nails, strange", hissed voice behind Merlin's back.
Merlin felt five blades plunging into his back. His eyes glowed again and he slowed time one more time, throwing himself forward, feeling the blades was left behind. The time returned to normal and he turned on his back, feeling the blade in his leg went deeper. He saw five strange knifes moving in his direction and something dark coming from behind his head.
Former king turned around twisting his heavy black coat in the air, catching the knifes inside, slowing them and imprisoned them inside his cloak.
"I'm afraid i can't allow you to kill the man who is about to become the father of my grandchildren, guards!", said lord Reinevore, standing behind the laying Merlin, with his heavy cloak in his hands, ready to fight off another attack from the man standing before them.
The man before them was crouching, with one of his hand lifted. He was tall, slim, wearing dark, purple, untidy clothes and bandages all around his body, covering even his head, so only his face and fingers was visible. His fingers were slim and bloody at the end. His face was long, with sharp, swart features. His eyes were black, like the night. He take a step back into one of the shadows, hearing shouting of the guards all around him, running to help Merlin and lord Reinevore.
The body of their attackers submerged itself into the shadow below him, like he was standing on the water that decided to not allow him to walk over it's surface anymore.
"Are you alright, my lord", asked lord Reinevore helping Merlin stand up. Merlin grabbed his arm, jumping on one of his legs, when Camelot's soldiers surrounded them.
"No time", he hissed, "help me to get to Arthur, fast."
"As you wish, my lord", said lord Reinevore, helping Arthur, holding him with one of his hands around his waist, while Merlin's arm was around his shoulders.
"Drop the lord", gasped from pain Merlin, jumping on one of his legs, being thankful to former king for stabilizing him.
"Alright", said former king, when they inside the Arthur's tent, where the feasting was taking place. Or at least was before. Now a man in a white, cashemere clothes with only one hand was dancing between the lord and Arthur's guards. Arthur was trying to take part in the fight, but his lords swarmed him, not allowing him to move from the corner they pushed him in. Their king shouted on them his orders, but they weren't listening, getting ready to defend him with their lives.
And the man fighting all their guards had only one hand, his right one. His left was missing, but none of this mattered. He turned around, pushing away one fo the lord's Aion liegemen's sword, and with the next half turn cut his head off his shoulders. Then, without stopping his momentum he slashed from up one of Arthur's guards, who got too close to him. Black haired man glanced with his bronze, dark eyes at Merlin, who lifted his hand, conjuring a spell.
One handed attacker whirled to tent's wall, slashing it with his sword just a moment before Merlin's spell hit him. The force throwed him in the air and the attacker's body flew right through the hole in the tent's wall he created with his sword.
"Guards!", shouted one of the lords inside and men rushed outside. Some tried to go out the way attacker got out, but the blade slashed from the outside, cutting the face of the first man who tried to go out that way. Moment later he was gone and the only sound were the shouts of soldiers gathering together and grunts of people dying on the floor of the spacious tent.
"Let go of me!", shouted Arthur, when his lords released him from their hold. "Merlin, who was that?", shouted Arthur, but when he saw Merlin's concerned face he understood, that Merlin was no smarter then him.
"We need to go back to Camelot, sire", said Merlin, paining, gasping. "Now, by air."
Arthur nodded, feeling that whatever Merlin wanted to do was important. He turned to his lords, shouting his commends, assigning commands. After he was done he walked out of his spacious tent, only to stop, shocked, terrified.
"Merlin, if it's about the being betrothed thing", he said, looking at the log before him, where were already sitting Merlin and lord Reinevore.
"Arthur", Merlin patted the log, gasping, giving his king grave look.
"Merlin, i understand that you are angry", said Arthur, gulping.
"Arthur", Merlin hissed, "there is a knife in my leg, so stop whimpering and sit on the log."
Arthur nodded, sitting on the log and waved on the lord Aion, who sat near him.
Merlin eyes glowed with orange light.
"Flægus", the log floated and plunged into the sky at his command, leaving their warcamp behind them.
Merlin gasped with pain form his back and his right leg.
"Lord Reinevore, i forgot to say, i have something to do for you?", shouted Arthur with his eyes closed, embracing the log.
"Whatever you desire, sire", shouted back middle aged man, visibly enjoying flying in the sky.
"You will need to relinquish crown one more time and kneel to me!"
"As you wish sire, but why?", shouted former king.
"Because you are to be married to queen Annis", shouted Arthur.
"Smart move, sire, but i am beginning to wonder if you do not trust me too much for your own good", shouted back former future former king, laughing.
"I trust your love for your daughters, sir Reinevore", shouted Arthur.
"Arthur!", shouted Merlin, "i need you to unsheatd Excalibur!"
"What?, now?", shouted terrified his king, when the log abruptly moved to the left and something big with terryfing shriek plunged down almost taking them down.
The great gryffin, half lion and other half eagle cirled them in the air. His body was the size of two horses together. His upper half with white feathers, was flapping with it's great wings in the air, following after them.
"Arthur! I can't focus on fightinf and steering the log, use the sword, only with it we stand a chance!", shouted Merlin, making the log spin and move from the griffin's way.
"Then stop spinning", shouted Arthur, terrified.
"Just use the sword!", shouted Merlin, making the log to go up, right before the griffin's body plunged into them, almost taking them down.
Athur pulled his sword from the scabbard, opening his eyes.
"It was easier when you were just pretending to be a simple servant", he shouted and pointed the sword at the griffin. The beast stopped, looking at them, before departing.
"Wow, that was easy", whistled lord Aion to the accompaniment of lord's Reinevore laughter.
"Better hope i won't lose counsciousness, before we land", shouted Merlin with weak voice. Men behind him shivered.
"I suddenly don't like this whole flying in the air idea", said calmly lord Reinevore, while Arthur clinged to the log again and lord Aion chuckled.
"What is life without a good adventure", lord's Aion's eyes sparkled, while his hands embraced the log.
"Don't worry, we are almost there", assured them Merlin, landing with his log in the Camelot's courtyard. All four passangers were almost instantly swarmed by Arthur's knights and guards, helping them.
"Defend the king all the time", shouted Merlin and waved at one of the young men, "Gilli, help me!" Young man grabbed Merlin, helping him stand. Merlin started to jump on his good leg and Gilli moved with him, helping him walk, acting as a pair of extra legs.
"Merlin, are you alright?", he asked, with his blue eyes looking at Merlin with concern.
Merlin always liked this young man, even when he first met him when Gilli was a simple boy. Now Gilli was one of his personal attendants and students. Very promising one. And he was always talking to him like they used to, without all the fuss about their status. They liked each other and treated each other with respect. Gilli stopped, when they walked into the cave, where the dragons lived. Aithusa showed herself almsot instantly shrieking over them. She caught the knife in Merlin's leg and pulled it with her teeth. She threw it away and the small, colorless fire came out from her mouth, closing Merlin's body in it, before flowing inside him, disappearing.
"Young warlock, it's luck, that you came here. One more hour and you would be dead", the great dragon flew on his favourite rock.
"I need answers", Merlin looked at great dragon, who laughed.
"Like always, but this time you don't need to ask", great beast smiled, before it's smile disappeared and Kilgharrah voie became much more grave "what was inside you was one of the shadow walker nails. They are the creatures of the old religion, very dangerous. They can travel between the shadows and create daggers from their nails. They can shoot them or use their nails to stab their enemies. But they need to regrow them."
"But why would one attack us?", asked Merlin, trying to think of a good reason, "and why there would a swordsman after Arthur and a gryffin trying to kill us when we were flying back", he stopped seeing as great dragon looked at him with anxiously.
"I won't be able to help you much, i am afraid. But heed my words. The enemies this time are much more dangerous then ever. Take Aithusa with you and tkae this young boy with you, i can feel he is an extraordinary young man", Gilli's ears became flaming red, "take anyone who will be able to help you, any warrior strong enough. Many will die, but that can't stop you. Their lair should be in the north, in the Northumbria kingdom. But be ware of beast masters other then you, dragonlord."
"What do you mean?", asked Merlin, but before he could answer, he heard shouting from above. He tried to jump back and run, but almost fell and only Gilli help saved him from falling down.
Aithusa moved under him and throwed her master oh her back, shrieking. Merlin grabbed her ith his hands, trying to sit on her back, while she leaped forward, to the place from all the shouts were coming. Gilli rushed to his side, but she left his behind with her big leaps. When she leaped inside the chamber, Merlin saw men laying dead on the floor and the guards pointing their spears at the young, dark skinned, smirking man, who stood with his hands lifted like he was surrendering himself. None the less, he was still holding dagger in his left hand.
Merlin, sitting oh his white dragoness lifted his right hand, preparing to hit dark skinned man with his spell, when Arthur grabbed his hand.
"Merlin, this man just saved my life." Merlin glanced at the standing man, who smirked, winking to him with his right eye.