Based Off The Arthurian Legend: The Best and Worst of Arthur
It is a days walk from Caerfyrddin to Camelot. My feet burned from the treacherous hike. My parents had kicked me out, tired from my newest mess. To be fair, it was definitely not my fault that I have no control over my magic. The town down below glisented as like it was draped with gold .The finery is present in the nobles choosing to walk the square. Camelot’s very hard to describe in its lustrous beauty. It’s like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was set on a hill with a castle upon its peak. Streets were filled with noise and a colorfully dressed marketplace. Everyone wore joy on their face, happy under their monarch’s rule. During this time of wonderment, I realised I needed to find an Inn or other lodging for my stay
Stopping to look at some fresh strawberries being sold, I attempted to subtly check them with magic for freshness. Magic wasn’t necessarily illegal, but sorcerers were burned regularly due to “dangerous” partakings. I noticed a young man, roughly my age in namings, leaning over a girl, dressed in peasant garb. The girl wore an uncomfortable stance and a terrified face. Without thinking, as most bad things are done, I rushed to the girls side, eagerly at her defence.
“Excuse me sir, but this lady seems to be uninterested so I would advise you to be on your way,” I spoke quickly, without deference, so it had overridden the polite sir.
“Ha, you foolish peasant, she means nothing to me. I would’ve not looked at this disgusting hedge-born, if I hadn’t needed her assistance,” He responded in a nasty tone. The anger began to build inside me as red covered my eyes, who did his boy think he was to speak about a lovely lady in such a manner. My impulses took the best of me, the reasonable me, and shoved it down. I swore thunder rumbled in the distance when my fist collided with his quintessential princely face.
“Don’t be a fopdoodle,” I cried . He moved back startled by the unexpected pain.
“Do you know who I am? I am Prince Arthur of Camelot and in case you didn’t notice that’s where you are. I’ll have your head for this!” Arthur growled.
“Then do it, but here’s what I think. I think you’re a prince, but not a crown prince, which means that you do not yet have the authority to call for an execution,” I proclaimed in response.
“I’m gonna tear you apart,” Arthur fumed.
“On that note, goodbye m’lady,” I bowed then scampered off with Arthur on my tail.
A couple hours later, I was strolling the streets, proud of my quick escape. I hadn’t been paying attention when I ran head first into an expensively dressed woman with sleek black hair.
“It’s you,” She stated before I could apologize.
“Me?” I asked.
“Yes, you’re the one who stood up my bully brother. You match his complaining perfectly. Thank you so much for such lovely entertainment, I was falling ill from boredom,” Her eyes lit up when she laughed, a real laugh.
“It was my pleasure, Your Highness,”
“Oh please, Morgan is fine. Why address me formally when you do not other nobles?”
“Merlin,” I pointed to myself, “I best be on my way though. I’m sure I’ll see you again.”
“Hey, you!” another called from behind.
“Goodbye Merlin,” Morgan remarked before departing. I turned around to see the girl I had previously helped, waving her hands. We walked to meet each other.
“I’m Guinevere, but you can call me Gwen. I wanted to thank you for helping me earlier and offer you a place to stay, if you don’t already have one,” Guinevere beamed.
“I’m Merlin and a place to stay would be lovely,” I smiled unable to contain myself as she radiated joy. She led me to her house and giggled when I tried to jump from stone to stone on the paved walkway.
“Is it just you?” I questioned.
“Yes, my parents died when I was a child. I’ve been raising myself ever since.”
“It’s not your fault, nothing you could’ve done. Anyways, it’s getting late we should get to bed.”
“Thank you for letting me stay.”
“Thank you for defending my honor.”
The next day, I arose at dawn at Gwen’s pestering request.
“Come on!” She cried, rolling me off the bed, “I want you to come watch the knights train with me.”
“You want me to leave this delightfully warm bed to join you watching arrogant men beating each other with metal sticks. I don’t think so,” I complained.
“I’ll make you breakfast,” Gwen bargained.
“Sold,” I declared picking myself off the floor to follow an already departing Gwen. The walk was filled with mindless chatter about one childhood story or another. When we arrived, I was unsurprised to see sweaty boys fighting each other with sticks.
“So, which one do you fancy,” I asked
“What? Fancy? I never said I fancied anyone,” Gwen responded
“Oh, so you just dragged me out of bed to watch the knights fight, for fun.” One of the knights looked back at Gwen and they made eye contact as she straightened her posture and blushed lightly. While the knight was distracted, Arthur knocked out his feet from under him, laughing as he helped the other knight up.
“Right, so what’s his name?” I was unconvinced.
“Lancelot,” She said, “ My beautiful Lancelot.” Guinevere and I sat down on soft grass, preparing to watch the rest of training. At the end, Lancelot made his was over to us, Arthur trailing after him. I stood up, fully expecting to have to run away from him again.
“Stay,” Lancelot reassured me,” He’s not going to touch you with me around to stop him.” Lancelot leaned down to grab Gwen’s hand and bring it to his mouth. Arthur stood awkwardly next to them, eventually out stretching his hand to shake mine.
“Lancelot says that I should apologize for trying to murder you yesterday so sorry I guess, Merlin,” He said emphasizing my name in a strange way.
“Merlin?” I ask
“Morgan,” Arthur responded.
“Well then, I apologize for not addressing you properly and for your massive ego thinking I’d have to.”
“Not for punching me?”
“No, you deserved that.” Arthur laughed, grinning at me.
“You’re odd, Merlin,” He stated like that was the only way he could describe me. Lancelot finally broke away from making eyes at Guinevere.
“Gwen and I are going for a walk in the woods,” He nodded towards the expansive forest behind them.
“Perfect, Merlin and I will join,” Arthur decided.
“Arthur-,” I started.
“No,” Gwen interrupted me, making a motion to dismiss what I was about to say, “It’s fine. We’ll all go together.” The group of four set off for the vast woods that lived near Camelot. Trips became more frequent, lingering on once a day. When Morgan found out, she was furious that she hadn’t invited and ended screaming at Arthur for hours. After she finished, Morgan smoothed her dress, sauntered out of the castle with Arthur stumbling behind, a laughter inducing sight that Gwen and I had the pleasure of experiencing.
One day, I decided to travel farther than our usual clearing. Hiking the rocky path, while the other four trailed behind, chattering about. Morgan refused to wear heels much to her old-fashioned father’s distress, she actually found herself out walking the boys and calling them out on their protests.
“I don’t think this is a good idea,” Arthur adjudicated for the rest of the group, “There’s bandits in these woods.”
“Don’t be such a spoil-sport. It’s all good fun. You never know what we’ll find out here,” Morgan teased.
“And if anything does happen, Lancelot will protect us so there’s no need to worry, Arthur,” I said. Arthur pouted as they laughed.
“Oh look!” Gwen exclaimed. She brushed away some hanging branches to reveal a small stream. The water was crystal blue and bubbling gently. Ethereal beauty exhaled from the entire area like it was cut off from the rest of the world, untouched by man’s cruel hand. Several blue-ish flowers decorated the water line. We piled inside and were taken aback by the entire space. Silence forged itself between us and stood tauntingly, daring any of us to break it. I was brave though. I stalked over to the largest flower bed, picking some of the sweet-smelling plants. Arthur stared at me, curious at my courageous behaviour. I held them up to his face.
“They’re the color of your eyes,” I said. He just looked at me, not even protesting as I sent them behind his ear. Everyone else settled in eventually, continuing the previous chatter, but it was different this time, personal, like getting to know your best friend.
“If I could be anyone in the world?,” Gwen repeated, “I would be a queen so I could make a difference and help people, but I’d want to marry for love, not political advantage. Lancelot nodded,
“I would probably stay a knight, I like protecting those who cannot protect themselves.”
“I would want to be someone powerful, ancient, someone people would respect and not bestow their petty opinions on,” Morgan started, “But someone with a crown would be nice,” She nudged Arthur with her arm.
“King, I’d fast my progress and start my rule now so I can make a difference for as long as possible.” There is complete silence for a moment.
“You’re gonna make a great king. I’m sure of it,” Gwen announced. We all nodded in total agreement. A rustling noise in the background stops us from asking another question. Lancelot and Arthur jump to their feet, swords drawn. In just a second, bandits charge into the clearing, armed to the teeth with weapons. Not waiting for a demand of coins or jewels, Arthur and Lancelot race into combat shielding the girls and I. The clanging of swords was deafening, a rushing experience unlike anything before. Bandits fought ruthlessly while the boys fought with nobility as they had been trained for most of their life. Eventually, the bandits knocked them to the ground, swords to their throats, their numbers beating the knights’ talent.
“Come on, come on,” I whispered to myself. I had to help them, but my magic refused to do anything.
“These two are useless, it’s the ladies we want,” one of the bandits, most likely the leader, spoke to the rest, “Dispatch the spares”. It was in that moment I felt burning inside of me.
I was not going to let them die on me. Every none ground-attached item, excluding Gwen, Lancelot, Arthur, and Morgan, began to float. The bandits rose into the air with me, my brown eyes glowing like a dying star.
“No,” I snarled. Concentrating everything I had on to the bandits, someone screamed, maybe me, maybe the bandits, maybe even one of the girls. I fell to ground, hard, the bandits fell with me, dead, all of them. I look up to only see Arthur’s sword hilt linger above me, then pushing down, the flowers fell out of his hair, then darkness.
My eyes peeled open slowly, Gwen and Arthur were arguing about something or another. My head was throbbing, I couldn’t even tell who was saying what.
“He’s your friend and you’re condemning him to death!”
“He’s a sorcerer, a powerful one at that, and he used deadly magic, Guinevere, I will not apologize for saving the lives of people he might kill!”
“Might! Might kill! He saved your life, Arthur, doesn’t that mean anything to you!”
“Gwen,” I mumbled.
“Merlin!” She exclaimed rushing to my side. Morgan and Lancelot followed. We weren’t in the same spot as before, I noticed.
“Gwen, It hurts, Gwen,” I could barely form words.
“What hurts, Merlin? What’s wrong?” Gwen sounded worried.
“Everything,” I puffed. Arthur began to move closer to me, his hand rested on his sword. He pulled it out and hit me over the head with it, in one swift motion. The last thing I heard was Gwen exclaim,
The next time I awoke, I was in a dark, damp room lined with iron bars. Gwen sat outside my cage.
“Please, Merlin, just use your magic get yourself out. Please, Merlin, please, save yourself,” Gwen begged.
“I can’t control it and even if I could I’d want Arthur to want me to be free, to not resent me.” I told her, meaning every word.
“He’s gonna burn you, Merlin. He’s gonna watch you burn.” Soldiers piled in lead by Uther Pendragon, the king.
“Take the girl,” Uther declared, “Let the boy be an example for her and the wayward knight.” The knights unlocked cell, dragged him the arms to the castle courtyard, where a large wood pyre stood ominously. Uther’s knights were ruthless, leading me around, despite the fact I refused to struggled. Lancelot was on his knees, hands tied behind his back, two soldiers stood beside him, their swords drawn to Lancelot’s throat. Gwen stood next to him, one soldier held her arms, keeping her from moving away. Morgan was tear-stricken, arms also tied, by Uther’s side.
The knights dropped me at Uther’s and Arthur’s feet.
“Merlin, you have showed proof of conducting dangerous magic in front of my son, Prince Arthur. You are sentenced to death on the pyre. Do you have any last words?” Uther proclaimed to the citizens of Camelot, less directed at me. I stared at Arthur, trying to make him look at me.
“Why do you keep staring at my son?” Uther demanded.
“I want his face to be the last face I see,” I spoke without malice, meaning every word I said.
“Put him on the pyre,” Uther barked, obviously unpleased with my response. Gwen began to scream, tears rushing down her face as she tried to get to me. Only once they lit the pyre, did Morgan start to cry, silent tears that rolled off her face. Lancelot looked on with agony adamantly shown. Arthur was stone-faced, he finally made eye contact with me when the smoke rose, high into the air. His whole body seemed tensed and shaking or maybe it was the heat waves that rolled off the flames, clouding my perspective. When the fire hit me, somebody screamed, I think it was me this time. The pain flared up my legs consuming my thoughts, but I continued to stare at Arthur like my life depended on it. Smoke filled my lungs making it harder to scream, it burned my eyes, closing them would end some of the pain. I still watch Arthur.
That’s when, I believe, Arthur broke. He ran, sword drawn to me. I hoped he would run me through. He cuts the ropes. He pulls me into his arms.
“It’s okay, just breathe, I’ve got you,” He whispered to me, “You’re safe.” Lancelot swiftly moved, swinging his arms around, hitting one of his guards. He stole their sword, cut himself free, and moved on to disarm the next knight.
Lancelot threw their sword to Gwen who began to fight her restrainer as well. Everything moved so fast, Arthur swung my legs over his other arm, holding my entire body. He moved to the center of the courtyard. Lancelot and Gwen formed a protective circle around us, valiantly fighting of the endless stream of soldiers, it isn’t enough. Arthur leaned down and whispered quietly in my ear,
“Help.” In that instant, I scream once more, magic searing its way through me. All of the knights are flown back by an invisible force. One more pulse and we disappear slowly, moving from this location to the next. I could’ve sworn I heard a small voice say,
“Please, don’t leave me.”
We reappear in a field. The grass was overgrown and brushed their legs. Arthur finally sets me down, I notice burns running up his calves from the fire. We walk in no apart direction, but something feels right about going east. A shimmery blue curtain passes through us, it was almost invisible not there before. Looking up, a whole town has appeared with a castle at its center. It’s the opposite of Camelot, draped in silver not gold. The town buzzed with magic used by everyone, in everyday life. A man and woman appear in front of us, the curtain must have been an alarm as well as an invisibility spell. They are both dressed in finery and crowns sat atop their heads. It was evident they ruled the land.
The man spoke first, “Welcome to Caerfyrddin. You may stay as long as you need and like.” The woman next, “Welcome home, Merlin. Your father and I have missed you.”