Title: Sender of Storms
Summary: Sometimes problems just step aside when Merlin's around.
Word Count: 630
Prompt: #4 (Surrender)
The blasting gale drove their eyes downward, so that the knights did not see the wind-sculpted drift until they were about to plow through it. Arthur halted abruptly when he realized that the whiteness in front of him was solid. He didn't have time to wonder how they would continue up the steep mountain path, because the snow erupted, sending down a cascade of icy powder as a great shape rose up to block their way.
It was a dragon. That simple, inexplicable thought drove his sword from its scabbard, even as his jaw dropped before the sinuous, jeweled beauty of it. He had never seen a creature so large move so quickly, scales flashing a brilliant silver-blue through the storm. It opened its serrated mouth, and he prayed for a fortunate strike before those shining teeth spilled his guts out onto the snow.
Arthur wondered if he looked as comically surprised as the dragon did when Merlin threw himself between them, as though his outstretched arms could keep the monster at bay. His brow furrowed when he realized that his manservant was just as interested in keeping Arthur from harming the dragon as he was in keeping the dragon from harming Arthur. He had the same look Sir Orfeo wore every solstice, when his twin boys crawled into their cups and came out brawling.
The beast, for its part, regarded Merlin with a curiously human expression of baffled indignation. It was a strange sight: the great maw and the razor teeth looked odd without the bestial snarl. Then it did something even stranger.
“Do not presume to command me. I am a daughter of sky and storm. I bend no wing to the lords of flame.”
“I'm not commanding, I'm asking. Can't we talk about this first?”
“Talk!” Arthur hadn't meant the word to come out with such a, well, squeak. He desperately lowered his pitch. “With a great bloody dragon?!”
“Arthur,” Merlin murmured from the corner of his mouth. “Shut up.”
The reptilian eyes narrowed, the head shifting slightly to train on Arthur. “Your realm ends here, ever-king.”
“We are not the first to reach your border.” Merlin's voice carried over the wind with a firm confidence, as though he conversed with enormous magical creatures every day. “There was an old man ahead of us. He fled Camelot with a dangerous artifact. The Heart of Gyssa.”
“No craft of men can touch the Lailaphet,” the dragon replied with a snarling sneer.
At first, Arthur didn't think Merlin would respond. He stood in the roiling snow for several breaths, and when he spoke, there was a shadow on his words, as though the wind spoke with him. “Drakontites it is called in your tongue.”
At this, the creature snapped its neck down to peer at Merlin with a frightening, predatory gaze. They held this pose, and Arthur tightened his grip on his weapon, certain that it would be needed.
With a bone-jarring grinding of claw on stone, the silvery creature retreated down the mountainside, clinging to the nearly sheer cliff with spider-like dexterity. The long neck arched down respectfully, surrendering the path to the small group of bedraggled men and horses.
Merlin turned back and snatched his mount's reins, briskly urging the skittish beast past the dragon. “Are you coming?” he asked over his shoulder.
Arthur was still holding his sword. He looked at it. The dragon crouched below them, silent and submissive. Merlin had fallen face-first into the snow a few yards ahead, his horse snorting and sidestepping. The gaze of the knights was a heat at Arthur's back. He raised his blade and pointed it like an accusing finger.