Maybe one day his magic would be revealed, he just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. Arthur, the Knights of the round table and Merlin were out on a hunt that was going smoothly, well as smoothly as it usually does for them when it began to rain down buckets of water. They found a cave and took refuge in Merlin felt a tingling on his neck, the familiar sensation of dark magic clinging to the air around them. Before he had any chance to voice his thoughts they were suddenly surrounded by Serkets. Merlin knew all too well what their poison felt like, almost instinctively his magic began to tingle under his skin ready for use as a means to defend himself. As they got closer his magic began to bring even closer to the surface he knew he couldn’t control it for much longer, his panic and fear of the creatures taking over. Eventually, his magic lashed out burning the creatures to dust, Merlin’s eyes went wide as the others turned to look at him. He could see the betrayal and Arthur’s eyes, to before any of them could say anything or react, he left.
Arthur was bewildered he thought he knew everything about his manservant, his friend. He couldn’t be more wrong, Merlin had magic and he’s been hiding it from him. He’s not angry as he was with Morgana’s betrayal, instead, he was angry and upset that even after his father died he never told him. It made sense all the luck that they’ve had so far, throughout the years. But before he could even confront Merlin about why he never told him, he just left in a puff of smoke he was gone, he ran away from him. Though Arthur was upset at the betrayal of trust between them, he was even more upset that Merlin ran away before he had a chance to talk to him. It hurt him more than he would care to admit, his anger doubled and frustration with his friend with himself grew. How could he not notice? Merlin was a terrible lair, what’s more why run? Why not talk it out with everyone? With him? Were they not the friends he thought they were? Were they not brothers in everything but blood?
“Did he just" Arthur looked over to Gawine, as he came out of his own shock. "He left, using smoke. Since when could he do that?”
Arthur stormed out of the mouth of the cave, in spite of the rain went looking for his horse. There was no way he was going to let Merlin get away with this disappearing and not letting him get a single word in. Arthur knew there was a huge possibility that Merlin could be anywhere, but that didn’t stop him from searching the area.
They had been searching for about a month now with no sign of Merlin anywhere. Gawine had almost up and left, in fact, he did, he had gone to Ealdor hoping that he had gone to see his mother. Arthur sent Leon after him when they returned the news was less than pleasant. Huntith had not seen her son in some time and was unsure as to where he was, all she said was that he had somewhere where he could do his work without being discovered; Gaius had said something similar as well.
“He might be at the networks main information location Sire.”
“He built a spy network and allegiance, once he knew there was no longer a way to reach her. They have been gathering information on her forces and ensuring it makes it back to you and the Kingdoms you’ve built relationships with.” Arthur had been stunned into silence, Merlin built a spy network that was feeding them all their information.
“where is it, Gaius?”
“I do not know sire, Merlin would never tell me. He also set up a series of wards that only those who have truly decided to follow him and you, as well they mustn’t mean no harm to you or Camelot may enter.”
“Then we should be able to find it.”
“Not exactly Sire. Only a select few can find the way and without meeting ever condition even if you stumbled upon it sire, you will feel the need to leave. Without magic or the proper guide, there is no entry.” Arthur didn’t like the feeling he had of never seeing his friend again, then it dawned on him.
“I was born because of magic, could that possibly work?”
“It is possible, Merlin has also used protection spells in the past, only whenever he had to leave to attend to some magical threat while you remained in Camelot. It mainly was to prevent any of you from eating poisoned food.”
“Since the day he arrived.” The shock of how loyal Merlin has been astounded him. Never once did Merlin ask for praise or thanks, he just simply did it. Merlin never ceased to amaze him but something dawned on him the answer to the same nagging question, why didn’t Merlin tell him about his magic after his father died?
“He was scared of my response, wasn’t he?” Gaius simple looked at Arthur, it was enough to confirm his thoughts. This hurt him more then Merlin running, it meant that at some point in their friendship he had caused Merlin to feel like his response would be bad. The door to Gaius’s chamber suddenly opened.
“Princess he was spotted near the bridge.” Hope at least, he schooled his face quickly,
“What bridge Gawine?”
“The one leading to the Fisher Kings Place.” I set of fear ran through him, wyverns remained at that castle and he wasn’t going to let Merlin die.
“Get the other’s we’re leaving know. Gaius tell Gwen, we checking a lead and that the idiot is coming home even if I have drag him back.”
Gaius chuckled as he watches the King and his knight leave. He knew Merlin would never truly leave Camelot, his ward most likely stayed nearby and only went to the fisher king’s place when needed. He remembered Merlin once saying he turned it into a sanctuary for the dragons and other creatures alike. It wouldn’t surprise him if Merlin did use it for the spies as well. When Gaius had heard Merlin had left he would admit he was shocked, but after hearing why Gaius understood. Merlin’s fear of the creatures was a result of him nearly dying by their hand, he was already panicking and he’s used his magic as a means to protect himself, which meant the fear his friends would reject him was at the forefront of his mind. Running and Hiding was the result of all the years of battle, he just hoped that Merlin had enough time to calm down and was ready to talk to his brothers.
Arthur was nervous and anxious, one look at his knights and he could tell they felt the same way. They hadn’t seen Merlin in just over a month now, the trip being a long one, adding to all the emotions they felt. The first real sign of Merlin and there is a possibility that he might not be there, but Arthur remained hopeful. They stopped so the horses could rest, they should reach the bridge by mid-afternoon.
“Merlin has magic.” Leon suddenly stated, Arthur turned to face the knight and long-time friend. He felt a frown make its way to his face.
“Everything happened so fast, and we’ve been searching for him because he left but we also don’t know how he’s doing or if he even is alive.”
“Apparently he built a network of spies loyal to Camelot and her allies, to feed us information about Morgana and her follower's movements” Came the only reply Arthur had, Gawine was suddenly spluttering with what seemed like a half cough and half laughter.
“He did what?” came the choke-out words from Gawine; Percival simply laughed, Arthur couldn’t help but join in.
“That’s so like him though.” Arthur was thoughtful about the words that came next. “All of us came together because of Merlin, with the exception of Leon none of us would have been friends.”
“Arthur, what do you plan to do about Merlin’s magic,” Leon questioned.
“Pretend it doesn’t exist. None of us will talk about it till he does, and the same rule for the past month applies too. Tell no one.” Gwen and Gaius were the only ones they approached about the subject.
“This does not leave the roundtable circle.” The knights nodded, knowing full well Merlin and Gwen were the only people who could change his mind. The remainder of the rest each man was left to his own thoughts. Leon started to think of all the impossible things they survived and realized it was Merlin’s doing. Percival thought of how met Merlin and who the man was, never once caring about the magic. Gawine remembered the last time he went to the fisher king’s land, the keeper referred to him as strength; he wondered what the keeper had called Arthur and Merlin. As they got on their horse and continued on their way Gawine thought of something else.
“Will the Keeper even let us cross?”
“What keeper?” Leon questioned, Arthur gave pause and Percival just seem.
“I forgot about him. The Keeper of the Bridge, Grettir he allowed me to pass when I went on my quest for the Trident. Short little thing, he called me courage, nice fellow.”
“He turned my sword into flowers.”
“Wait, Gawine what were you doing there?” Arthur and Gawine shared a look. There was an unspoken rule between them and Merlin, the two of them were never on that quest.
“I use to go through his land for a few things, ran into the keeper a couple of times.” Gawine smoothly lied, but Arthur laughed.
“Merlin and Gawine showed up when I had passed out. Merlin said something that about an enchanted object had been planted on me that was slowly killing. We just never spoke of it.”
The rest of the ride was in silence. Just before mid-afternoon, they made it to the Bridge. A short man was standing at the bridge.
“Ah Courage, Strength you’ve returned. Kindness and Loyalty pleasure to meet you. My Lord is waiting for you, you’re a few days late.”
“Pleasure to see you again Grettir, I thought the Fisher King was your lord?”
“He was but another has allowed me to work under his service, after his death. I must warn you though I am to permit you to cross it will not be easy, the path to the place is also protected. I'm surprised you made it to here with all the wards around.”
“That explains why we kept getting lost.” Leon ‘coughed’ at Gawaine's comment.
“Thank you for the passage.”
“A word of advice, listen to everything around you.” The king and knights nodded their heads and made their way across the bridge. Arthur and Gawine noticed the difference in the land since they last had been there. There was greenery and the red soil and hot sun were either hidden from sight or no longer around. They carefully trekked their way forward remaining in a single line, just in case, and listened to their surroundings.
The ground sizzled, the air hot, they could hear the wings of the beast flying about. At some point the land returned to being the red dirt and boiling sun, the greenery has long since gone. Sweat dripped from their brows and their armour began to feel heavy and hot. They moved forward each step becoming harder but kept their ears open, not much seemed to be heard, yet they could hear everything. Every step in the ground, every beat of a wing, every instinct, every voice. Arthur was confused there weren’t any people around and his knights were not speaking. He halted their movement and listened closer, more voices but they were muffled like a wall was between them and him. Arthur took a step closer and found himself in a hallway, back at Camelot in his own castle. He took another cautious step forward, his foot hit something, he looked down and found his fathers body. Across from him the old man who had killed him instead of healing him, here he was once more with his father dead body crouched over it. Arthur’s hand went for his blade, and the old man looked up at him.
“I am sorry, I should have checked. Do with me as you please.” Arthur couldn’t find it in himself to cause any harm to the man. His hand left his sword, and he offered a hand to the old man; instead of accepting his hand, everything around him changed the man disappeared. He was surrounded by fog, Arthur kept taking small cautious steps, he had taken a total of 6 steps when Leon appeared beside him. They nodded to one another and kept listening as they stepped forward; one by one his knights appeared beside him each passing a task. He looked back once as he noticed Elyon and Lancelot had joined them when he turned forwards again his face was meet with the stone of a cave.
Arthur took in a sharp intake of breath. It was the same as the day they found him.
“The Dragonlord’s cave, he was living in. He was hiding from father. Gaius told me once that he had betrayed him and slaughtered his kind.” Leon placed a hand on Arthur's shoulder knowing full well, that despite needing his help, Arthur still regretted that day. Merlin’s reaction to the death of the dragonlord had taken its toll on him. He found a small dragon carving, he picked it up it was solid and he didn’t believe it would leave.
“When we get the chance, we should look for anyone who was related to the dragonlords. Provided whatever needs to them, I refuse to believe none found a way to hide. The no dragons went into hiding with their lords.” Leon, Gawine, and Percival all nodded their heads in agreement, Elyon and Lancelot simply smiled before leaving. Those still there began to look around the cave to see if they could find a clue as to what to do next and Arthur kept his ears peeled. Percival suddenly was on alert, Arthur watched as Percy made his way to the southwest wall and slowly placed a hand on the wall. Then he disappeared. As he went to try and make his way to him when the ground suddenly became liquid and was keeping his legs in place. He watched helplessly as each of his knights once again disappeared, in front of eyes.
“NO, MERLIN STOP THIS NONSENSE NOW!” He struggled to get free when he was meet with a young girl.
“Sorry, that was my fault. I needed to speak to you alone before you reached Merlin.”