Truth. He could sense it, feel the magic in his veins vibrating with the truth of those simple words. And straight from the dragon’s mouth, no less, Arthur thought sardonically. It was a surreal feeling, standing in a cave and speaking calmly with a dragon, a creature of magic, someone who had been judged evil and cruel and not even worthy of death in Uther’s eyes, though he had done no wrong except to be who and what he was.
“Why should I believe you?” he still demanded, though it was half-plea. He was still Uther Pendragon’s son, after all. “I have no reason to trust you, and you clearly have a grudge against my father since he trapped you here. Plus, you’re a dragon.”
The dragon thrust his head forward, glaring down at Arthur balefully. “Think, princeling. You are the heir to the throne. The fate of magic rests in your hands, not Uther’s. You have the potential in you to be the greatest king this land has ever known, but it means forging your own path towards your destiny, instead of following in your father’s footsteps.” He exhaled, a stream of smoke curling from his nostrils. “You may not trust me, young Pendragon, but neither do I, a creature of magic and your kin, have reason to trust you.”
The two royals glared at each other, neither backing down.
Finally Arthur yielded slightly, dropping his gaze. “I apologize, dragon,” he said. “The very fact that I’m down here speaking with you indicates some semblance of trust on both of our parts, after all.”
“My name is Kilgarrah.” It is hard to tell who is more startled, Arthur or the dragon himself. But now that the words are out, he cannot take them back. Still, his lips tighten over his teeth in an instinctive gesture to do just that, and he meets Arthur’s gaze defiantly once more.
The prince bowed, once again giving the acknowledgement of royal to royal. “Kilgarrah.” The name rolls off of his tongue with ease, despite the strangeness of it to his ear. “You have given me much to think about, Kilgarrah.” He frowned darkly, thoughts already turned inward, then glanced up. “Thank you.”
“A word of additional warning then, Prince Arthur.”
Arthur paused, but did not turn back to look at him.
“You are a warrior, Arthur Pendragon,” Kilgarrah begins slowly, trying to put to words the warning of the vision he can feel ghosting over his skin. “By birth and by nature. You know your physical strengths and weaknesses, and are learning where to verbally yield and where to stand firm.” He paused, and Arthur half-turned so that his face was partially in the light, partially shrouded by the darkness. “You also know what it means to take a life, and the scars it can leave on the soul. Merlin has had some hard lessons and painful truths as to the extent of the power at his fingertips, and that frightens him and fascinates him in the same breath. Remind him that there are many types of strength, and be his anchor, as he has been and will be yours.”
Arthur was silent for many long moments. “I will take your words under advisement.”
“One more thing, Arthur Pendragon.”
The prince raised his brows, but waited.
“Since it is a night of revelations about the sins of your father, I would reveal one more for your judgment, that the witch Morgause did not. The Lady Morgana…is your half-sister and also kin to Morgause and the Druid boy, Mordred. She is the daughter of Uther Pendragon and the Lady Vivianne, conceived during the dark of the moon when Lord Gorlois was away, fighting under the king’s banner.”
Arthur’s body jerked, as if he had been physically dealt a harsh blow. Kilgarrah continued, merciless. “The Lady Morgana is a witch as well, sharing the powers of her mother, sister, and nephew. She is also the unacknowledged heir to the throne of Camelot. Beware, Arthur Pendragon, because while she is bitterly aware of one secret, she is not yet aware of the other.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
The dragon blew out a gusty breath that smelled strongly of iron and ore. “Because even as you and Merlin are two sides of the same coin, Morgana and Merlin are similarly bound. I have warned the young warlock of the viper in your nest, and he will not heed me. His actions towards the witch has obscured her path of destiny. She stands at a crossroads, her future uncertain. Your actions in response to the revelations of tonight will directly affect her decision to take the first step towards darkness, or towards the light.”
He could not read the prince’s expressions in the flickering torchlight.
“How long has Merlin had magic?”
Kilgarrah answered without thought, caught by surprise by the abrupt change in subject. “Merlin was born with magic in his soul, the result of a prophecy predicted well before your time. He can no more deny it than you can deny the air which you breathe. It is a part of him. It is him.”
Arthur nodded abruptly and melted back into the shadows without another word. Only when the prince was beyond even his keen hearing did Kilgarrah breathe another gusty sigh. He had planted the seeds. Now to see if they would come to fruition.