“Find my father first; then Gaius and the girls.” He murmured, sensing Merlin’s nod before following his wake inside the castle.
The throne room was empty, as was the council chambers. They finally found the King in his room, slumped over a pile of parchment.
“We can’t just leave him here!” Arthur snapped, forestalling Merlin’s suggestion.
“Fine. But let’s at least move him to the bed, and then go check on the others first, without having to lug—I mean carry—the king too.” Merlin reasoned.
“He’s the KING!”
“And he’s safer here than with us until we figure out who and what exactly we’re up against!” Merlin retorted impatiently.
Arthur glared at the warlock, who remained unmoved.
“We’re wasting time here, Arthur. We found him. He’s safe. I’ll lock the door so that no one can get in. Let’s go find the girls and Gaius. We don’t have much time.”
The prince reluctantly allowed himself to be pulled away, and the warlock sealed the door with a murmured word. He had the foresight to set it to open at Uther’s touch, so that the king would be able to get out on his own, none the wiser.
Next stop was Gaius’ chambers. The physician was sleeping peacefully, and would not awaken, despite Merlin’s various spells.
“I don’t like this at all, Arthur.” He said grimly. “This is very strong magic, but it’s being sustained from some kind of external source. I can’t sever the link; it’s too tightly woven.”
Glancing around the room, he grabbed some books and a few vials at random. His eye caught one more of murky white liquid, and he eyed it for a moment before reluctantly adding it as well.
“There’s one being that might have the answers we seek.” Arthur stated grimly. “The dragon.”
Merlin winced; he had come to the same conclusion. “Let’s go.”
Unlike previous encounters, Kilgarrah was waiting for them when they emerged onto the ledge.
“None of your riddles this time.” Merlin warned, his temper and patience fraying quickly under his fear and worry. “What is this spell, and how do we break it?”
Kilgarrah’s eyes gleamed with triumph. “I have told you before, you and the young Pendragon both. Now you shall see. It is one thing to cast a spell to put everyone to sleep. The power to maintain it, however, is an entirely different matter. You will need more than just words to break this enchantment.”
“What do you mean?” Merlin breathed, although there was a growing coldness in his chest.
“You must eradicate the source, Merlin.” The dragon’s tone grew fervent with hunger.
“Great. What is it?” Arthur demanded impatiently.
“Not what, young Pendragon, but who. Such spells need a vessel, a constant living source to give them strength. The source of this pestilence is the witch. The Lady Morgana.”
“No,” Merlin breathed, but the prince again stepped up.
“How do we stop her?”
“That is easy, young prince. You must kill her.”
“The spell is so woven with magic of such power that even you two are not immune, “ Kilgarrah continued, ignoring Merlin’s outburst. “You must act now, before it’s too late. Kill the source, or convince the caster to undo it.”
Arthur pulled Merlin away, the dragon’s maniacal laughter drifting up behind them.