This first chapter is a recap of some of the highlights of the seemingly endless Merlin Soap Opera I have created as done from a first person POV journal entry of Merlin himself recalling the year everything changed and the Golden Age of Albion began.
While I am trying to make this as inclusive of the events as possible, I will purposely skip a lot of stuff I probably could have condensed in the first nearly 300k words of the story LOL. So for those of you just now reading this- you can probably get away with reading the first story "Two Sides of the Coin" and skip about 250k words to read this one. You may miss a lot of character studies (of which George and other servants seem to take center stage with) as well as various adventures, (each with a piece of the puzzle to healing Arthur and Leon) that are inspired by different Arthurian myths and legends, but this is where things get interesting.
So yeah... Read first one, skip to here, go back and read the rest if you're brave enough.
Please take the time to leave a review, or a comment if you would. As like most authors I appreciate the feedback immensely!
That year was the longest of my life and yet it seemed to pass me by all too quickly. As I sit journaling now and reflecting on the events of my life, I have come to realize that it the time that impacted us all the greatest.
Using my magic in secret always weighed heavily upon me during my younger life, even more so when I reached Camelot. The constant vigil I maintained at keeping it a secret from the nobility of a kingdom so bent on destroying all of my kind in the simple hope that the dragon's words were not wrong. That my destiny and all I strove for would not be in vain.
Perhaps around that time I began to grow sloppy, perhaps King Arthur finally began to exhibit more wisdom and common sense than I ever gave him credit for, or simply it was fate that gave the final nudge - telling me the time of the Golden Age of Albion was upon us.
Arthur called his Privy Council, suspicious at the recent - and not so recent- chain of events that led to the earth shaking in the tomb when Odin held a blade to his neck. He realized then that it was not always luck. It was me.
From there I was sent on a journey, a mission sanctioned by the king with only one friend at my side. I knew the reasons Arthur sent me away. He needed to find a way to change the laws of his kingdom without the accusations flying around that I might be enchanting him. Gwaine and I set off to the north, towards a monastery where Uther's eldest brother was once a monk. Along the way I came to find out my friend's own personal history from which he had been running for years.
His mother was once a princess, the only daughter of King Lot, and his father- her first cousin and a prince in his own right, both disowned after an unsanctioned marriage. His father died a knight of Caerleon during the war with Camelot when Gwaine and, I came to find out later, his twin sister Clarissant were but five years old. Later in life the twins had a falling out and Clarissant found herself in a bad marriage which Gwaine did not approve. It was many years before they spoke again, but just months after he and I set out on our own quest.
When we reached the northern lands of the Llyn Peninsula we came across Morgana and much to my disappointment at that time, Aithusa. A horde of Saxons at her command, the Lothian army on our heels as they brought the war to the sleepy hills.
Thankfully, word reached Camelot about the impending conflict in enough time for Arthur to gather his men and set sail on one of Queen Annis's ships towards the area Gwaine and I had found ourselves in.
We came to the monastery, only to find it razed. As one monk lay dying, unwilling to accept my magic to heal him he passed on to me the information Morgana had failed to ascertain when she attacked the peaceful abbey. Uther's middle brother, Ambrosius, who held the throne before him, had sent a dagger said to be crafted by the angels to his brother at the monastery. This family relic, when we found it in the catacombs at the burial site of the eldest brother, called to me like no magical item before. Carnwenhau was her name, and the beautiful blade with a hilt of dragon bone fit perfectly in my hand. It was the first real piece of the puzzle that told me my destiny was entwined with Arthur's even more than I had ever imagined.
We made our way back to the ruins of a keep, high on a hill in the shadow of the Snowdon mountains. A place that called to my soul as much as the blade on belt. I began to hear the whispers of a voice similar to what I heard my first days in Camelot, though a bit more feminine that the deep grovel of Kilgharrah, but I had no way of reaching the source.
We woke to find ourselves surrounded, Saxons on one road, the frigid sharp mountains on another, and below the hill in the meadows the Lothian army, King Lot's tent stood out like a castle among the rest of the soldiers. Gwaine finally biting back his pride, we took a chance that his maternal grandfather wouldn't imprison us...again.
It was upon meeting Lot this way, other than in cuffs dragged before him as our previous experience, that the king of Lothian noticed me truly for the first time. More than that, he knew of my father. Though it wasn't until later that night, as I wandered into the trees and stumbled upon a sacred shrine known as the Grove of Magicians, that I had any inclination of all that entailed.
As fate would have it, Arthur, fresh off the boat from Caerleon, and I met seemingly by accident in that grove and we were treated to a shared vision of the history of our fathers. For the first time he knew who not only my father was, but more clearly, to his disappointment, who Uther really was. It was at this moment we became more than the friends we had been, we were truly family.
The battle that followed was fierce and short. Only lasting the day before the Saxons retreated, although I think much of that had to do with their fear at facing not only the well oiled machine of the Lothian army, but the largest dragon even I couldn't have imagined. The great red dragon, older and wiser than Kilgharrah, (though he would certainly disagree with the latter) gave me the information I needed to break the curse I was unaware plagued the woman I once called my friend. The grip of the dark spirit that inhabited Morgana was broken, but unfortunately so was she, having little memory of the past years since the day I forced a skin with poisoned water into her hands.
I decided then and there to end the circle of death and betrayal by offering my own life as sacrifice. Mordred was destined to kill Arthur, I thought I could trick destiny, but I was wrong and a poisoned blade meant to end my life nearly killed Arthur as he, being the hero as always, interfered. It was outside of my power to save him, but the Goddess was with us all that day. A powerful curse cast by the red dragon and the selfless nature of Arthur's most loyal knight, Sir Leon, allowed the king to live that day. However Leon's life was forever changed as he sank into a state so close to death it was hardly distinguishable.
The king and the knights who survived that day set sail back to Camelot. Sadly Elyan, the queen's brother, was not among those who lived to see the end of it.
I stayed in the north for a while to assist in Morgana's recovery. Her own mother, thought deceased for years, was with us and it was the first time in my life I began to feel at peace in my own skin.
It was after a month of this peace that I finally felt the need to return to Camelot. I first found out that I do not get along with ships in the open sea. Although Gwaine would happily argue that it was not in fact the open sea as the vessel stayed within sight of land for much of the storm ridden journey. After this a few days of riding to Camelot and on the brink of complete exhaustion I found myself the center of a whirlwind of nobility as Arthur not only changed the laws regarding magical practices, but acknowledged my relationship to him and twisted around policies of the court to name me Heir Presumptive to the throne of Camelot.
The weeks that followed left me in a daze, thinking Morgana, whom I had left in the north wanted nothing beyond friendship and Arthur arranging for me to escort his childhood sweetheart to a ball. Because of that night I discovered many things, not only about myself but others as well. The Lady Lisanor, whom I grew fond of, was the mother of Arthur's bastard child, a son named Loholt. A friendship, though rough at first was forged between her eldest brother, a former and now once again, knight of Camelot. The safety of his sister, her child, and his own secret, which could bring his death as easily as magic could have my own months before, kept him away from the great citadel.
Leon's body, still plagued by the curse that joined him and Arthur in a delicate dance of life and death, was moved to Anjou, where Cai's family maintained a shrine blessed by the Old Religion and the New. We nearly lost Arthur however, because of the forbidden love Cai once shared with Leon, whom he had known since a very young age.
I also should note, I nearly lost myself that day as well to the panic and stress of my own mind as I struggled to cope with all the changes. Gwaine, thankfully, was there to pull me back from the edge and the Red Dragon was able to strengthen the curse that almost dissipated due to love.
I look back now and realize Lisanor was right when she told me she couldn't be strong enough. Although she is a strong woman for what she has overcome, she is intelligent and knows her limits, where as I many years later, still don't know my own.
The kingdoms of Albion were slowly coming together, only one was missing and it happened to be there which we journeyed to next. During that time I found a great sorrow, but which in turn gifted me with one of the greatest joys I could have ever imagined. Ourjourney here consisted of three reasons, once again destiny was forging our path to create the Golden Age. Aside from being the lost member of the original five kingdoms, it was also the last known place of the existence of a cauldron that could hold the key to brewing the antidote for the poison that was on Mordred's blade.
Along the way is when I first found out about Gwaine's sister. Morgause's evil spirit who refused to die even after we freed Morgana's mind from her clutches and Arthur killed her son, Mordred, found out about her as well. If she did one good deed in the afterlife it was doing away with the abusive arse Gwaine had the misfortune of calling his brother-in-law.
Somehow she also acquired an ancient relic called the Dragon Stone that gave her control of the wyvren we met in the Perilous Lands. Unfortunately this also gave her control over the Red Dragon and her magic. We somehow managed to save Clarissant, separate a magical talking head that once belonged to Prince Bran, son of the Fisher King, from her dead husband's body. Found out he was the last person... I am almost hesitant to say 'alive' - that knew the location of the cauldron. Plus dealt a major blow to Morgause in her current form of Gwen's former traitorous maid.
Sadly, however, this came at a price. Morgause tricked me with an illusion and I had no time to react before my dagger was plunged into the heart of the Red Dragon. She died that day, and I felt a piece of myself die with her. I often wonder if my father felt the same thing as each of the dragons Uther killed died during the Great Purge, or if it was simply because it was my blade that committed the deed.
Arthur... I blame him completely for what happened next and for events that followed later the following year. I went home to the comfort of a beautiful woman and what followed the next day was like an out of control carriage ride. I still laugh today looking back on the assumptions we both were guilty of. After returning I found out the gift the Red Dragon had left, giving Aithusa, the little brilliant shining star of my life a chance to fly not only on the wings of a dragon, but run on the legs of a child.
Upon returning to Camelot, the severed head of Bran in tow, along with my dragon child, and Gwaine's sister things couldn't stay quiet. I was firstly faced with the reality that Gaius was getting on further in age than I had blinded myself to. I set out on a quest to bring a new healer to Camelot, along with Sir Cai and his nephew. Oh what a time that was. Cai and I forged a deep and lasting friendship during that time as we were first captured by renegades, Loholt running lost in the forest, and freed a prince from the curse of being a pig, in both senses of the word.
After which we returned to find traitors among the elite nobility. A few missteps and a lost head of a prince and Arthur managed to handle it quite well without me shadowing his every move.
Winter passed quickly after that, I sent Aithusa to Morgana, for as much as I adored my dragonling, she needed a mother more than a scatterbrained warlock of a father to guide her.
Percival and Gwaine's sister were soon married, and on their wedding day, when gifts are meant to be received by the bride and groom, Clarissant handed me a small pendant. The last piece of the dragonstone that had shattered when the spell broke in the Perilous lands. It was amazing how much she and I had in common. I will never forget the kindness she showed in saving that one piece of stone and the beautiful setting she made for it.
Soon enough spring came and we were heading north. Our information from Bran was pointing us to Ireland, the last place he saw the cauldron before his head was severed from his body. While looking forward to seeing Morgana and my father's keep, which was now mine, I suppose. I was not excited about the prospect of taking another ship to cross the Irish Sea. Thankfully, destiny turned in our favor.
I'll never forget the sight as I came over the hill. Aithusa flying and diving through some exquisite aerial acrobatics and below her the most beautiful woman I could ever imagine. Morgana walked up to me, like a dream. She kissed me and I felt myself melt. Then in a maneuver true to her form, she slapped me. If someone had told me then that the very next night I would take her as my wife, I would have laughed.
A local woman, who Morgana had hired to help in the keep had stories of the giant we were searching for. In a moment of idiotic revelation I realized I had met this giant already during my initial search of the poison Mordred had used. If only I hadn't been so blind, we could have saved ourselves a lot of time. Although, if I had known the location of the cauldron first I may not have been led on the quests which brought me to the other items we needed.
We also found out about a local king, calling himself the 'dragon' was threatening her if she didn't marry him. We originally planned to stick around and do more research while waiting for the king's response to the wedding invitation Arthur sent out. But time was closing in. The king awoke from nightmares and a weakness to his body we had not seen before.
I wondered if something happened back in Anjou to Leon. He was still kept in the temple with Lisanor, a few druids and the Catha to take care of him. But I also feared that somehow Morgause, who had escaped us in the Perilous Lands, had found him. I felt powerless to do anything if that was the case.
We decided to leave straight away taking a chance we could make it there and back before the king arrived. Heading up the mountain towards the giant and what we hoped would be an end to our year long quest.
We didn't expect the large beast, a cat I later found out had been birthed from this same cauldron we sought, to be guarding the cave. We lost a good knight that day, and nearly lost Loholt as well. I think it was a bit of a wake up call for Arthur and his own mortality.
Once we regrouped after Cai and Arthur took care of the cat, we spent the evening tending to our injuries. The giant had fled through the last open gateway between worlds. He spilled out the cauldron (in which I should note we found the rest of Bran) and fled with the sacred object.
I was able to reattach Bran's head and body, which was a good thing, with one knight dead and two injured, including Cai, it only gave us six men total for the rest of our journey.
I was able to send my love to my new wife through my dragon kin soul to the pendant she now wore on her neck before the king, myself and the knights literally walked straight into the mouth of hell...
*edited, thanks Nance. (that who/whom has always been an issue for me) As for the "during that time...", and the "Irish..." (supposed to be Irish Sea) I've started using google drive instead of my word program because my computer is starting to do weird things. If my space bar sticks at the end of a sentence - drive won't automatically put a space in like word does, so fanfiction DOT net reads it as a web addy instead of a grammar error and takes out the two words surrounding the DOT (or period) *grumbles* teach me to try and use a new program with a dying keyboard. LOL