“So, young Pendragon,” the dragon rumbled as Arthur stopped just beyond the opening to the cave. “You have come at last.”
Arthur stepped out onto the ledge. He and the dragon regarded each other for a long moment, assessing. The dragon inclined his head slightly, an acknowledgement of royal to royal, and Arthur returned the gesture, sheathing his sword but letting his hand rest easily on the hilt.
“You are not surprised to see me.” He stated after a moment.
“The magic in your veins called out to me, just as the magic in mine and the young warlock’s calls to you. We do not have as strong of a bond as you and Merlin do, so I could not sense your emotions as clearly as you sensed his, but then our fates are not so quite tightly entwined.”
“So it’s true then. Merlin–is a sorcerer,” Arthur said bitterly. “All this time, he’s lied to me–”
“Peace, young Pendragon. Be at ease. Merlin has never meant you ill will, and it is not in him to intentionally betray you. You know that as well as I,” the dragon said sternly. “It is not lack of trust or loyalty towards you that stayed his tongue, but rather the corrupt hand of power that reigns over the land and seeks to choke the life out of magic and anyone associated with it.”
“My father.” The prince stated grimly.
“Uther Pendragon seeks to destroy magic to absolve him of his sins, but the first thing that he would have to destroy would be–”
“Me,” the prince breathed, his eyes widening as the true implications of what drove his father sank in. “But Morgause–” he half pleaded, half protested.
“–is a witch, yes, but she did not lie or mislead you.” The dragon did not soften the blow. “That was your mother you saw, and she spoke true. Uther knew of the consequences, knew what the Old Magic would demand to keep the Balance. A life for a life. In his arrogance, he believed that he was above the laws of the world. He is not.”
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. “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.”