Chapter: Prologue and Chapter One
Chapter Rating: PG
Fandom: Merlin / Legend of the Seeker
Ships: Mainly (eventually) Arthur/Kahlan and Merlin/Cara. Secondarily Arthur/Morgana, Lancelot/Guinevere, and hints of Richard/Kahlan, Richard/Morgana, and Darken/Morgause.
Story Summary: After surviving the events of Light, Dark and Perdition (episodes 2x08 - 2x10), the Seeker must resume his mission in following the compass he holds to the Stone of Tears. In the midst of his quest, Richard Cypher receives word of a new prophecy: The Seeker of Truth cannot prevail without the help of the Next Great Wizard.
As fate would have it, the young wizard now works in the one kingdom in all of the Midlands where the use of magic is treason: Camelot. This journey not only leads to Merlin, but to a reunion between Kahlan Amnell and Arthur Pendragon, who share a past unknown to the rest of their companions.
With his gift now at the forefront of this mission, Merlin must now step up to the plate and be a hero while dealing with a magical world beyond his imaginings. Arthur will have to contend with the revelations regarding those that matter the most to him, with the fact that - for once - he isn't the man in charge, and with facing old ghosts and demons his heart had never intended on dealing with. Kahlan must now face the dilemma between what she wants most and what she must do. And, in the midst of the most inhumane situations, Cara relearns what it is to be human. All the while, Morgana, King Uther's ward, remains missing, the Midlands are slowly succumbing to the Keeper, and Camelot has fallen under the attack of the Sisters of the Dark.
Can this motley crew succeed in finding the Stone and bringing about the Keeper's downfall, just as prophecy foretells, or are they destined to fall at the hands of the Keeper's newest and most powerful agents, who are much closer to them than they realize?
Author's Note: This story takes place immediately after the second season of Merlin, and partway through the second season of Legend of the Seeker (just after 2x10).
P R O L O G U E"Anxious?"
A young Prince Arthur Pendragon gave the elder knight a look of disdain. “Of course not,” he lied. “We were hunting in Camelot’s forest for ages. It’s about time we traveled further.”
Gorlois couldn’t help being amused at the young prince’s eagerness. Arthur knew that Gorlois would be reporting back to King Uther, recounting how the thirteen-year old did on his first true hunt. He couldn’t disappoint his father.
“We must be wary, sire,” said Raymond, the knight to Arthur’s left. “The forests of the Midlands beyond our kingdom are treacherous. The dangers my father experienced in his travels are… beyond my comprehension.”
Seemingly unfazed by Raymond’s story, Arthur clenched his jaw and kept silent, scanning the forest for something to focus his attention on.
Giving Raymond a stern look, Gorlois made an attempt at conversation so Arthur wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable.
“My daughter would have loved to accompany us on this hunt,” he noted.
“Although father allows me to train her in the use of weapons, Morgana would not be safe with us here,” Arthur replied in earnest.
“I suppose,” Gorlois chuckled, taking a deep breath. “Still… Morgana would have enjoyed leaving Camelot for a little while and utilizing those skills she’s acquired.”
It was not long after that when Arthur rode forth, leading the group of five knights as they traveled deeper into the woods. It wasn’t long until he came to a full stop, raising his hand swiftly to silence his companions.
Raymond’s horse quietly cantered forward to where Arthur was, and the knight watched the young prince’s expressions closely.
“Sounds like a family of boars,” Arthur whispered. “Have your crossbow at the ready.”
“Sire,” Raymond nodded, and he swatted at a few flies on his arm before moving to reach for his crossbow.
Behind them, Gorlois and the other knights were beginning to notice more flies circling them. And that was when it clicked.
Arthur turned quickly, making a face. “Quiet,” he hissed.
Shaking his head, Gorlois spoke again. “No, sire, you don’t unders—“
“Shut up, Gorlois. You’re scaring them away!”
“Arthur!” he yelled, finally capturing the young prince’s attention. “These are no ordinary flies! They're blood flies. We mustn’t linger!”
While he waved his arm about him in an attempt to make the flies go away, the other knights seemed to understand what Gorlois spoke of, and their swords were unsheathed within moments. In the blink of an eye, a large, winged creature swept down upon them and grabbed Sir Plenorius clean off his horse.
Arthur stared, his eyes wide and mouth agape at the beast he’d never seen before. It was only when Gorlois yelled that his thoughts were shaken back to the present task at hand.
“RIDE!” came the command, and Arthur sent his horse into a full gallop away from the clearing.
He wasn’t sure what direction he was going in, but outside of the sound of his own heartbeat pounding in his ears, he could just barely hear the other horses behind him. Though he gripped his sword with one hand, he didn’t dare look up at what he knew was swooping and circling above them. In all his training and studies, Arthur had never known of something so ferocious. The large beast, covered in fur, had bat-like wings and the largest teeth. It was not a sight Arthur would ever forget.
“Arthur, I need you to listen to me!” Gorlois bellowed from behind. “You need to keep riding – as hard and as fast as you can. Don’t look back.”
“We’ll stay to distract them, so they won’t go after you! Go, Arthur!”
Arthur wanted to stay and fight. He wanted to help the knights, and he wanted to prove that he was a worthy warrior himself. But at that moment, something in him – a gut feeling, or perhaps fear mixed with the intense desire for self-preservation – made him keep going. Arthur spurred his horse on, and he rode faster than ever before.
He never saw Gorlois, Raymond, or any of the other knights ever again.
C H A P T E R O N E
His eyes opened slowly.
Arthur found himself warm and comfortable, save for the slightest ache in his legs. After weeks of camping and hunting, the luxury of being back in his bed was a welcome one. But it didn't take long before Arthur realized that he was still very much far from home.
A blonde-haired girl around his age was seated by his bed, and her eyes grew wide when their gazes met. Without a word, she stood and rushed over to the far side of the room, where another girl a few years older stood, tending to what Arthur realized was his armour.
“Kahlan!” said the younger one.
“What is it, Dennee?”
Dennee pointed towards the bed, and Kahlan found that Arthur was attempting to sit up. At that, she clasped Dennee’s shoulders and met her gaze.
“Go tell the Mother Confessor that he’s awake,” she instructed.
With a nod, Dennee left the room, leaving Kahlan and Arthur alone.
“D…do you know who I am?” Arthur decided to ask. It was the first thing that came to his mind. He tried to sound confident, even upset. But instead he sounded tired and deflated.
Nodding as she approached, she took a seat right beside where he was lying. “You’re Arthur Pendragon, Prince of Camelot,” came her reply. When it was clear that he didn’t really have a follow up question, she continued to speak. “My name is Kahlan Amnell. You’ve been resting here for a few days now.”
He looked around the room and attempted to peer out the window, but he couldn’t make anything out. “Where exactly is ‘here’?”
“You’re in the city of Aydindril,” Kahlan said. “Some of my sisters were training in the forest by our borders and you rode through on your horse. You were nearly unconscious! I’m not even sure how long you’d been riding.”
Arthur struggled to remember the events from that night. It came to him in pieces and out of order, until he finally saw the image of Sir Plenorius getting plucked into the air, and the clear, vivid image of what plucked him from his horse. He described the beast to Kahlan in horrific detail, and once he’d finished, she nodded quietly, reaching out to cover his hand with her own.
“Those creatures you described? They’re called gars. They’re creatures of evil magic,” Kahlan explained, and she noticed how Arthur flinched when she said ‘magic.’ “I’m sorry that your companions were lost to them… but they were very brave, doing what they did.”
“They did it because it was their duty,” he said bitterly, pushing the covers back and moving to get up. Their lives weighed heavily on the young prince’s mind – especially that of Gorlois. He couldn’t fathom how he was going to explain this to Morgana; to have to deliver this news to her was a responsibility he wished he didn't have.
Kahlan let him stand and made no attempt to assist him, knowing that he would decline. While he washed his face with some fresh water, Dennee returned to the room, an older woman following behind her.
“Prince Arthur,” she greeted. She was wearing a long, white dress, and her straight brown hair hit the small of her back. Arthur wiped his face with a cloth before nodding slightly. “My name is Serena, and I am the Mother Confessor.”
Arthur gauged the situation, and after glancing back at Kahlan, decided to play this out with honesty.
“Forgive me… Serena? But I have no idea what a Mother Confessor is,” Arthur said, almost laughing. “And… Kahlan. Kahlan says that the creature that attacked me is magical? But… that’s impossible. My father sa—“
Serena raised her hand slowly, and Arthur quieted mid-sentence. “Just because Uther Pendragon outlawed the practice of magic in his own kingdom does not mean it is not very much alive – both in good and evil forms – everywhere else in the Midlands.”
It was obvious that this revelation bothered Arthur greatly. So many questions suddenly arose in his mind. He wasn’t even sure he could trust these people, but there was something telling him that it was okay here. That he was safe.
“There is much I have to explain to you, I am sure,” Serena said, extending her arm to the boy. “But you haven’t eaten in two days. So… we can start our discussion over breakfast. Is that all right?”
Given his curiosity, and given that there seemed to be no other option, Arthur nodded, taking her hand.
There was much to learn.
"I was always taught that magic was evil."
Kahlan shook her head. "As you've seen in the last few days, it can be used for good. The Confessors' magic, the order of Wizards - they all use their powers to help people. Especially against those who do use magic for evil."
They walked through the market streets and back to the palace, and Arthur continued to observe - as he had been in the last week - how people and confessors and wizards all coexisted in this city harmoniously. It went against everything his father taught him, and it boggled his mind.
"I can understand where your father is coming from," she continued, sighing slightly. "There are many who would choose to use their gifts to enslave others, for personal gain, and to allow darkness to rule over light. I have seen how magic can corrupt the purest of hearts, Arthur! But there are those who use it for justice and for good. To group both into one category..."
"-- is completely unfair," Arthur said, his brow creasing. "And that is what my father does! Knowing what I know now... I'm not sure if I want to return to Camelot."
It had been days since Arthur's arrival in Aydindril. He slowly regained his strength in order to travel once again, and all the while learned more and more about magic. After a week's worth of recuperation, he would finally be leaving for Camelot that day.
Kahlan shook her head, sighing. "You're the heir to Camelot's throne. If, by then, your father still misunderstands and misjudges magic, then you can always be the one to change that."
He shrugged as they continued their walk, not quite knowing what to say. The thought of becoming ruler to an entire kingdom ought to be far from a thirteen-year old's mind, but it plagued Arthur's thoughts often.
Entering his room, Arthur walked over to the table and found that all of his chain mail and armour were mended, polished, and ready to be worn.
"I, uh, I took the liberty of fixing that for you," Kahlan said, smiling a little sheepishly. "You're probably accustomed to having a servant do that."
"Oh," he replied, taken aback. Though Arthur's pride disallowed him from openly admitting his dependence on others, they both knew she was right, and he conceded. "Thank you."
He stared at the armour, quietly sighing, then slowly began dressing himself - something he'd never done before in his life.
It took him a good while to lift the heavy chain mail onto himself, but he managed to do so without much incident. Afterwards, Arthur began to make sense of the breastplate and pauldron, trying to remember how and in what way he could clasp them onto his own body. It was at that moment that Kahlan approached, tentatively raising her hands to hold his armour.
"I can do it, if you'll let me," she offered.
He made no motion to stop her, and Kahlan deftly did up the clasps to hold the pieces in place. As he stared straight ahead, Kahlan moved around him, and Arthur could just barely feel the weight of her fingers on his back as she fastened everything together.
"There," Kahlan breathed, splaying her hands flat against his back. "All done."
Turning around, Arthur managed to take one of her hands in his before it fell to her side, and he pressed his lips to it, bowing deeply.
"Thank you for everything, my lady," Arthur said, keeping his gaze on her hand. "For nursing me back to health, for teaching me about Aydindril and this whole world outside of Camelot! There are things about magic I never would have known or understood without you."
Surprised by the gesture, it took Kahlan a few moments to respond, slowly meeting his gaze. "It was nothing, sire, honestly."
"Don't call me sire," he chuckled.
"Well don't call me 'my lady', then," Kahlan retorted.
Arthur grinned. "We have a deal."
At that moment, Dennee rushed into the room, quickly curtsying in front of Arthur and Kahlan.
"The Mother Confessor requests your presence in the Hall, Prince Arthur," she announced. "Your party is leaving Aydindril soon."
Bowing again, the shy young girl intended on leaving as quickly as she came, but Arthur managed to grab her arm and stop her.
"Thank you for watching over me, Dennee," he smiled, resting his hand on her shoulder. "I'm sure Kahlan would have had a much harder time if you weren't around, you know."
Dennee blushed, but managed to smile back. "You're welcome, Prince Arthur. And thank you for teaching me how to use a bow. I promise I'll keep practicing! Whenever I see you again, I'll be really good at it. You'll see."
"Oh, I don't doubt that," Arthur chuckled.
After chewing on her lip and considering the situation for a split second, Dennee caved and reached up to briefly hug him. Before Arthur had a chance to react, however, she had already stepped back, bowed, and rushed out of the room, leaving the two alone once more.
Neither of them could help but laugh at Dennee's shyness, but once they got it out of their systems, his impending departure quickly took over their thoughts again.
"I guess this is goodbye, then," she said.
Her brow furrowed. "I don't know how or when or under what circumstances we would ever see each other again."
"It doesn't matter. This is only temporary," he insisted, smiling brightly. "I'll find you... or you'll find me! Either way, I'm sure our paths will cross again, Kahlan."
Kahlan found his optimism infectious, and she conceded with a nod.
"Farewell for now, Kahlan Amnell," Arthur said.
"May the spirits be with you, Arthur Pendragon."
A wizard and three confessors were to accompany Arthur on his return to Camelot, and they flanked him on all sides, creating a protective circle around him as they traveled on horseback.
"May the spirits keep you safe on your journey, Prince Arthur."
"Thank you, Mother Confessor," he replied, bowing. "Everything you've done for me will never be forgotten."
"I hope that is true," Serena said, watching Arthur mount his horse. "Now go. You have a long ride ahead of you."
Arthur maneuvered the horse, facing him towards the gate, and was about to kick him into movement when he decided to look back one more time. His lips parted in a small smile as he nodded, and, even in the presence of the Mother Confessor herself, Kahlan raised her hand and waved, smiling back.
It was not long before the prince and his party were off, and they disappeared over the horizon and into the woods, traveling back towards Camelot. Those who had come to see them off slowly trickled away, back into the market and to their duties, until all that remained were Kahlan and Dennee.
"I'm going to miss him," Dennee murmured, looking up at her sister.
Kahlan laughed. "Miss him? You hardly ever talked to him! You were flittering around him like a nightwisp."
"Well... I'm just not used to being around boys our age," she shrugged. "But he was nice to me. It was nice to know what it feels like to have a brother, if only for a week."
Kahlan said nothing for a long while, mulling over her thoughts as well as her sister's words. It was most uncommon for confessors their age to interact with anyone aside from other confessors. This week, however, had been a unique experience for them both.
"I hope he learned much from us. If he is to be king one day, he can't afford to be as close-minded as his father, especially with the darkness sweeping the Midlands now," Kahlan said, sighing. "Difficult times are ahead, Dennee. We must all be prepared."