“All I want is a hot bath, and then sleep.” Merlin groaned, dismounting. Arthur followed suit, allowing the waiting stable hands to lead their horses away. “You’re on your own tomorrow. I’m taking a holiday.”

Arthur smirked. “Can’t keep up, Merlin?”

“Gods, no. I’m done. Why I have to work for an arrogant prat…” Merlin muttered as the prince laughed.

They struck gold the first night–but the confirmation of Balinor’s death brought mixed feelings in both men. They returned home quickly, and for once without incident or encounter of bandits, but camped just outside of Camelot’s walls to plan their next step.

“Even if I can harness this unknown power, I still don’t know if I can kill him, Arthur!” Merlin snapped, getting up to pace around the clearing.

Prince Arthur collapsed into his chair, his face streaked with soot and heavy with exhaustion as he recited the damaged incurred by the dragon’s systematic attacks.

“Do we have any idea how this abomination escaped?” Uther demanded furiously.

“We believe it to be the work of Morgause.” Arthur answered heavily. “She is the only known threat with the power to break those chains.”

“Is there no way to kill it?” The king asked the room at large.

She had deliberately waited until Uther had burst into the room before disappearing—and reappearing in his bedchambers, which were empty, with no one in the vicinity.

With a satisfied smirk, she pulled the mandrake root out from the hidden pocket sewn into her cloak. “You will not escape your sins and guilt so easily, Uther Pendragon.” She hissed, eyes alight with fanatical righteousness as she secured the magical root under the king’s bed.