READ THIS FIRST
This is the sequel to Merlin: Dawn of the Dragonlord.
But to help those of you who haven't read it (shame on you) or just don't remember it, you can read the PROLOGUE below, which is actually the epilogue of Dawn of the Dragonlord.
Alternate season 3 and 4.
Arthur and Guinevere are married.
Arthur is king.
Lancelot is dead (different from the show).
Uther is dead (different from the show).
Morgause is alive.
It has been three years since Merlin revealed his identity to Arthur as a warlock, a dragonlord and a noble of the House of Brittanicus. Now Arthur is king and Merlin is living the double life of a servant and an 80-years-old sorcerer.
When mystery arises with the discovery of a dragon egg and an old map, it's up to Merlin to take charge and lead the knights on a quest that will put them on the path of Julius Borden and Morgause. With the Great Dragon missing, Merlin must rely on Morgana to understand Morgause's mind. Can he complete his quest in time to save Camelot and those who are trapped within its walls? You must read to find out!
Disclaimer: I don't own BBC's Merlin. Don't sue.
I don't like to beg for reviews, but please review.
Merlin: Quest of the Dragonlord
"Rise and shine!"
Arthur had never appreciated being woken by bright light shining in his eyes, but this time it was different. This time it meant that Merlin was back. And by the tone of his voice, the prince knew that his servant was just as glad to be back in Camelot.
"This place is a mess! I always knew you were a prat, I just didn't know you were a slob."
"Merlin…" groaned the prince while burying his face in the pillow to shut out the bright morning light.
Yes, Merlin was back. Yet there hung a sort of uncertainty in the air. To everyone but a few trusted knights, Merlin was Arthur's manservant, but to those who knew the truth, he was in fact a powerful sorcerer, a noble of the House of Brittanicus, and a Dragonlord. Now he, Prince Arthur, was expected to keep up the pretense. But how could he? Was he really going to order Lord Merlin around? Make him muck out the stables, clean his room, mend his clothes, bring his food? No one in their right mind would accept to be treated that way, against their birthrights, even against their nature. Then again, Merlin was not like anyone that he knew. In fact, Merlin was not only a lot cleverer then he looked; he was also the most well-kept secret in the entire kingdom. As annoying as it was to Arthur, if anyone had the ability to pull it off, it would be Merlin.
The tricky part, of course, would be to stop him from showing off too much.
"Seriously! You could at least have learned to pick yourself up," Merlin was saying as Arthur sat up in his bed. He became suddenly aware that the level of agitation was somewhat disproportionate to the actual state of his chambers.
"This is called a cupboard," Merlin continued, pointing at the large piece of furniture. "This is for your clean clothes. The dirty ones you can put… Well, we'll find a system for you because Gaius wants me to take on more physician duties and I won't always have time to look under your bed to find your… What is that? An apple core? I'm really disappointed."
The smug smile on Merlin's face wasn't going to make it easy.
"We have to talk," said Arthur as he was pulling his usual red shirt over his head.
Merlin kept on fussing about the room, picking up leftovers and shuffling through Arthur's clothes as though expecting to find more apple cores.
"If this is you trying to tell me that I can't use magic, then I have to say that I already know. It comes from having an incredible power of astuteness equaled only by an intense desire to live.
Arthur suppressed a smile. This had to remain a serious conversation.
"You are aware of my father's new rule," he stated, crossing his arms on his chest.
Merlin slowed down his pace. "Anyone caught performing magic will be killed on sight," he said bluntly.
The prince nodded. It still had not properly sunk in that his father would order him to do such a thing. Even during the Great Purge, there had been a reasonable gathering of proof before sending anyone accused of using magic to the pyre. To order one's army to kill on sight was opening the door wide for mindless accusations, which would only add mistrust to the existing climate of fear within the walls of Camelot. There was rumor now that the king's mind was set on revenge and war, or that it was clouded by something else entirely. The word 'madness' had reached Arthur's ears on his first day back from Aria's Cradle. If he was choosing to ignore it now, it was only because he needed time to think...
"This is not a rule easy to work around," Arthur said darkly. "I may not always be there to cover for you."
Merlin leaned his back against the table on which Arthur's armor was resting. "I know. Gaius already warned me. You know it's not right, that rule, don't you?"
Arthur bowed his head low, now painfully aware of the huge task before him. "Yes, but he's my father. I will not betray him. And I won't put myself on the throne either; my father's allies would declare war instantly. I'll... think of another way. But you... you have to stay safe... and hidden."
Merlin's lips turned into a half-smile. "I'm still alive, aren't I?"
Arthur's face hardened. "This is serious. I... Camelot needs you. You're the only one with magic who can possibly be on our side."
"All right! I'll be careful," said Merlin with a grin.
Arthur knew that he had to stand his ground. "You won't be using magic at all."
The change in Merlin's face was instantaneous. He threw up his arms in annoyance. "But you just said... What about all of those times when you'll need me to save your royal ass?"
"What about trusting me a little more?" The prince snapped back. "Listen, I'm prepared to make way for you in the face of a magical threat, but if you use your magic for your chores or your own purposes, I'll personally throw you in the dungeons. Understand?"
He couldn't help waving his finger at him. He knew that he was scolding Merlin like a child, but how else was he supposed to act? He still had that defiant grin on his face and Arthur was quite powerless to make him see sense. Against all possibilities, the thing that Arthur Pendragon, Heir to the throne of Camelot, had come to fear most was a world in which his manservant was no longer there besides him. Merlin couldn't die; it was as simple as that.
"You'll make way for me?" asked the young warlock incredulously. "As in… taking charge?"
"I'm as surprised as you are," snorted Arthur. "I guess you're not entirely useless, being able to talk to dragons and all that."
A moment of silence passed between them. Arthur could easily tell that this last comment held a lot of meaning for Merlin although the young warlock was not allowing himself to show it. It didn't seem fair to lay this burden on him so soon after his return, but the fact was that he couldn't wait for Merlin to be ready.
"I'm not really the 'taking charge' type, you know," said Merlin in a hushed voice.
Arthur was briefly reminded of his own expression on the day his father had told him that he was to rule over more experienced and older men than himself. He took the time to walk over to stand besides Merlin, nudging him on the shoulder as he leaned against the wooden table.
"You didn't do so bad in Aria's Cradle," replied the prince.
Merlin's smile was weak. "They didn't call me Lord Merlin right away. I had to kill a couple of dark creatures first."
"Then you have some experience, which is more than I had, you know, being trained to rule since birth."
Merlin let out a derisive snort and Arthur was glad for the change of mood.
"The knights are all sworn to secrecy, of course," he said in a lighter tone. "Well, all of the knights who are aware of what you are: Percival, Elyan, Gwaine and Lancelot. We'll also have to do something about Leon. We need him on our side. I will tell Gwen as well. But Lancelot… How could you tell Lancelot and not me?"
He was walking around his chambers now and he saw Merlin jump on his feet as well.
"I'm not getting into that," Merlin said smartly. "I am done telling you about all the magic I did behind your back. You'll just have to assume it was me all along."
Arthur felt an outburst of annoyance. "Merlin! I will have no more secrets!" he shouted in spite of himself.
But he knew by the way that Merlin was smirking and bouncing around the chambers that he already had his defences up.
"I guess Lancelot is just smarter than you because he found out all by himself," replied the servant.
"I'm extremely astute!" burst out Arthur.
"You were – what's that word? – dumbfounded."
"You may have eluded me…"
"Though I'm not sure it really applies..."
He asked for it, thought Arthur as he grabbed the nearest goblet that he could find and threw it at Merlin's back. To his surprise, however, Merlin's ear twitched and almost simultaneously he wheeled around, the cup stopping in midair inches from his nose.
Arthur gasped in horror. "That's exactly the kind of thing that cannot happen!"
"Oh come on! I wanted to do that my whole life!"
The prince caught an empty plate and threw it forcefully. This time it hit Merlin on the shoulder.
"That's much better!" cried out the prince with what he hoped was his self-satisfied tone.
"All right!" cried Merlin, rubbing his shoulder. "I'll get your breakfast now…"
"I'm not finished with you yet!"
Merlin stopped near the door, a smug look on his face. "Going to throw something else at me?"
There was one more thing on Prince Arthur's mind. He walked slowly over to Merlin, taking his most solemn air.
"I have a question for you. Two, actually."
Merlin's smile faded. He considered Arthur's serious expression and then he said: "You want to know about Morgana."
The prince nodded. "Is she alive?"
He didn't like the shadow on Merlin's face, as though he was remembering something painful.
"Alive and safe from Morgause. But her mind is fragile. If Morgause gets hold of her again, then we will loose her forever."
Arthur allowed the words to sink in. "Then... there is hope..."
"I didn't say that. There is darkness in her. She's not the Morgana that you remember, not anymore."
"Can I see her?"
Merlin did not even need to think before he replied, as though he had already prepared the answer to that question.
"No, not yet. She's not ready."
"I don't know. I will check on her soon and then I'll let you know."
Arthur wasn't entirely satisfied with the answer, but he knew that he would not get more information from the young warlock on that subject. In any case, Merlin was taking charge, and that was good enough for the prince.
"Anything else, Sire?" Merlin let out quietly.
"Yes. Where's your dragon?"
Merlin shook his head and brushed a hand on the side of head in a gesture that Arthur had come to identify as anxiety or uneasiness.
"I don't know. I'm working on that. I'm doing all that I can..."
All that Arthur could do was press a caring hand on the young Dragonlord's shoulder.
"You just came back. I'm sure he'll turn up. Give yourself some time, all right? And no more secrets. If something is wrong, you come to me."
Some color seemed to return to Merlin's face. "Are you actually being nice to me?"
Arthur quickly released Merlin's shoulder and nudged him so hard that the manservant almost tumbled over.
Arthur could not help but smile maliciously. "Being Lord Merlin Brittanicus won't save you from cleaning my room, mending my clothes, polishing my armor…"
"Right," completed Merlin, and he started to walk towards the door.
"And don't forget the meat."
"Are you sure? Because you look a little... you know... round..."
They exchanged a glance. It only lasted a moment, but in that moment Arthur felt as though they were the same again, both of them struggling to be what they were meant to be against all possible odds and obstacles. They were more than distant cousins; they were, for lack of a better word, brothers.
Why then did that clotpole have to be so annoying?
"Get that smirk out of your face, Merlin, and get me my breakfast. And Merlin? If you ever use magic on me, I'll kill you myself."
All that Arthur Pendragon could do as he stared at the closed door was to smile widely. The questions about Morgana and the dragon seemed of secondary importance. Merlin was back. How could things possibly go wrong?
Now go to chapter 1