Previously on “Merlin, the adventures continue…”:
Morgana was given an ancient and powerful spell to get rid of Merlin. Merlin survived, but his health is far from good and there seems to be no cure. The old archives, however, may hold an answer.
In the meantime Mordred has fled Camelot. Morgana is trying to get him to join forces with her, but he refused her offer and is returning to Camelot.
“I can’t read it, I can’t… can’t read it…” Merlin sobbed and he was feeling more and more frustrated. For hours he had sat there and scroll after scroll he had opened, very careful as not to damage the fragile parchment and each and every scroll was the same. Line after line of illegible script and undecipherable symbols. And yet, the words were there, he could see them hovering in the corner of his eye, all those strange markings turning into familiar words, at least they looked like words, he thought they were familiar and he felt he could almost read them, but every time he turned his head or even his eyes, the words morphed back into those illegible scribbles. “I can’t read it…” Desperately he closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose; and with a heavy sigh he grabbed another scroll and started to unroll it. Wearily he shook his head: scribbles and scrawls, more and more unreadable scribbles and scrawls. Merlin took a deep breath and tried to calm himself. “There must be a way,” he thought, “there must be a way to read them. There must be a way to find out if there is something here to counteract this sleeping spell. If there is something here at all, for all I know it’s nothing but a shopping list.” He started to feel so very sleepy again, but he knew he must stay awake now. He took a large swig from Gaius’ bitter brown potion and winced at the still horrible taste, but at least it kept him awake for a while. Slæp. In the corner of his eye he thought he saw that word, very faint and very blurry. Slæp. There is was again, his eyes moved but a fraction of an inch and it was gone again. “I’m starting to imagine things,“ he thought, but he also knew there was so much magic in these scrolls, it all but leaped from the parchment.
“I must take a scroll to Gaius, he surely must be able to read it,” he finally mumbled and started to roll up one of the parchments.
“If of life you keep a care, shake of slumber, and beware… Awake! Awake!”
Merlin’s heart skipped a beat, he dropped the scroll on the little table and gasped. In front of him stood a human-like creature unlike anything he had ever seen. Black hair, dark piercing eyes, the skin around them an eerie reddish colour. He was naked save for a blue hose with some sort of long white kilt over it and boots of supple white leather. Merlin stared mesmerised at its body: all white with a bluish sheen it was, and completely covered in white spikes, just like a giant porcupine.
“Who… who are you, you… you…, how did you get here, not through the door, I would have heard it, is there a hidden door, yes, that’s it, a hidden door…,” and his eyes darted to and fro, looking but not finding any hidden entrance, “but who are you, have I disturbed something? If so, my deepest apologies, and…,” Merlin gazed with inquisitive eyes at the vaguely smiling creature,“ …and you look like me,” he said softly, “amazing….” Slowly his hand reached out to that strange being, trying to touch it. “You are me! You are me! Awesome! No, that cannot be, I’m sleeping again, dreaming… and OUCH!” The creature had pinched him hard in his arm. “No, I’m awake, but, you are me… how did you get here, who are you, what are you, what are you doing here…”
“Please allow me to introduce myself,” the creature said, “I am a spirit of the air, an airy Spirit if you like and…” he said, raising his hand, “…and please allow me to explain my presence to you in an uninterrupted fashion, so before you commence your unremitting rambling again, asking half-questions without bothering to wait for an answer, I will try and explain a few things.”
Merlin desperately wanted to say something, but with great effort he managed to keep quiet.
“I am a spirit, my dear Emrys, I come and go as I please. Don’t look so surprised, I know who you are. And as to why I am here, well, you summoned me, but without you even being aware of doing so. In a way I am you, as you are me. You see me, and yet you see yourself. You hear me, yet you hear yourself.” The spirit stood very close to Merlin now, his mouth inches from Merlin’s ear. “You must believe in yourself Emrys,” he whispered, “believe in yourself! Only then will you unlock the powers hidden deep within you.” He paused for a moment, and then said: “But we will come to that later, first there are these scrolls…” and suddenly the Spirit stood on the other side of the room. “These scrolls…” and he sat on the top shelf of the book-case. “I told you Emrys, I come and go as I please, when I please,” and he stood in front of Merlin again. “The words, Emrys, the words on these scrolls are asleep. And yes, to answer the question you have just asked yourself in your mind, they do contain the answer to your problem, you can set your mind at rest. What that answer is, I do not know, that is for you to find. Well, actually I do know, but I’m not telling. But the words, Emrys, the words must be awoken first.”
“But how can words be asleep?” Merlin asked, intrigued.
“You are a sorcerer Emrys, you should know that nothing is impossible, not even slumbering words.”
Merlin took a scroll in his hand and said, “Ic biddan becumen nu worde” and for a brief moment his eyes turned golden. Nothing happened. Puzzled, he cocked his head a little and tried again: “Ic ascian that thu awæcest!”. Nothing.
“It won’t work, my dear Emrys, your spells will have no effect whatsoever. But there are spells to unlock its secrets, spells almost older than time itself. You must find those spells in your head, for they are there.” The spirit edged closer to Merlin, their faces almost touching. He rapped his finger quite hard against Merlin’s temple: “Find the spells in there, Emrys. For not only were you born with the magic of the Old Religion, the magic before that time also flows in you. You are powerful, more powerful than you can possibly imagine, more powerful than anyone can imagine. Finding the magic within you to read these scrolls is only the beginning. I know this, Emrys, I know this because I am you, I can see inside your brain, into your very being.” Merlin found he couldn’t avert his eyes from the spirit’s penetrating gaze. “You Emrys,” he whispered, barely audible now, “you have a destiny. You are to be the greatest warlock of all time, protecting the greatest king this kingdom of Camelot has ever seen. Kilgharrah already has told you this and I can do nothing but repeat it. I know what you have seen in your nightmares, those dreams where Arthur and Mordred fell, mortally wounded, at that fateful plain of Camlann. But that dream is not only your destiny, it is part of other destinies too, Mordred’s destiny, Arthur’s destiny. And remember my dear Emrys, the future is made up of innumerable destinies. Shape that future Emrys, shape your destiny, shape those around you and you can start by awakening these words, for if you do not find the spell to counteract Morgana’s, your destiny, and your very life, will be very short indeed. And you would be wise Emrys, to bear in mind that Morgana does not have that kind of immense power, that sleeping spell was given to her by someone with very great magical skills indeed!”
Fighting to stay awake, Merlin yawned and took another sip of the potion. There was not much left.
“Try not too hard to find the answer, Emrys, it is already in your mind. All you have to do is search and you will find what you are looking for. I am afraid I cannot help you, as much as I would like to. Empty your mind Emrys, empty your mind.” And suddenly the Spirit’s face and a slightly mocking voice resembled Arthur’s and he said: “Now, that shouldn’t be too hard, emptying your mind, should it Merlin,” and seconds later he morphed back to his former self.
“But how…,” Merlin said, but the spirit had vanished, leaving him with the unreadable scrolls and more questions than answers. He felt a tight knot forming in his stomach, his hands turned cold and his throat was suddenly dry as he remembered that dire warning: “your life will be very short indeed”. And he also remembered that other remark: it was Morgana who had cast the sleeping spell.
Carefully he put the scrolls back in their wooden cases. One he took with him for Gaius to have a look at. He didn’t know why he took that particular one, it was a hunch, or perhaps he was already, and unknowingly, guided by the ancient magic within him.
* * *
“You failed, Morgana,” Macha screamed, seething with fury, “you failed miserably.”
“I failed? I FAILED? I saw him fall!” Morgana shouted back.
“And I saw him get up again, you fool, you bungler”
It was your magic, you stupid witch, It was YOUR magic that failed!”
“My magic is strong enough, stupid cow, but the vessel that conducts my magic must be strong also and you certainly lack in that department!”
The two women stood there facing each other, trembling and burning with rage.
“And how do you know Merlin got up again,” Morgana said, her voice dripping with sarcasm, “you’re trapped here.”
“Do you really think that, just because I cannot leave this place, I have no knowledge of everything that happens in Camelot? I have a spy there Morgana, a spy who is my ears and eyes, and you wouldn’t believe the things he told me about you!” Her voice became shriller and louder with each word she hurled at Morgana.
“Then you should know how strong my magic is,” she hollered back.
At that moment Macha’s eyes rolled back, leaving only the whites visible. She sat stock-still, even her breathing seemed to have stopped. Her lips moved soundlessly for a while, then all of a sudden she collapsed on the earthen floor. Morgana just looked at her, not quite knowing what to do. After a few seconds Macha sat up again and with a lugubrious grin she said: “I just got a message. Merlin still lives, but he is getting more and more weak. He might even die. I just might give you another chance to redeem yourself.”
* * *
There, in the kitchen of Camelot, amidst the hustle and bustle of the chopping, plucking, cooking and roasting on hot and roaring fires, on a low stool he sat, Cerdic the kitchen boy, waiting for something to do. Asking for it he could not, for Uther had his tongue cut out for speaking out of turn in front of other kings and thus embarrassing him, and after he lost his tongue Uther had banished him, Cerdic, Keeper of the Wardrobe, to the kitchen, far from the Great Hall and the Royal Chambers. And every day revenge was gnawing at him, eating him away.
The kitchen-staff talks freely when he is around, for he cannot reveal their secrets, he cannot speak and he cannot write. And all the girls and some of the boys confide in him, pouring out their hearts on just about everything, but mainly on their real or unattainable beloved, knowing their secrets are safe with him. So Cerdic sat there, silently, eyes forever downcast, listening to all the gossip and idle chatter.
And thus he heard Rose, a smelly scullery-maid, talk to nobody in particular while she was scouring some cooking-pots: “ ’Ave you ‘eard ‘bout poor Merlin? ‘E’s awake they say, and it’s true, I’ve seen ‘im meself, such a weak boy he is, so weak, it breaks y’r ‘eart. Even Gaius can’t do nothin’ they say. I said to Nell, ‘e won’t last another day I said to ‘er, ‘e won’t, ‘e won’t see another sunrise I said…”
And Cerdic sat there, listening. Someone smacked him on the back of his head. “Take this to master Geoffrey and be quick about it, you lazy rattle-brain,” and a wooden platter loaded with bread, cheese, cold meats and a flagon of ale was thrust into his hands. Cerdic took the plate and quickly scuttled away.
After delivering the platter to a distracted master Geoffrey, who was writing with great haste as if he might forget the words he wanted to write down, Cerdic went to his little hide-away in some forgotten corner of Camelot. Here at least he could find some peace and quiet among his treasures he had collected over the years; bits of broken crockery, discarded spoons, a rusty eating-knife. In the corner stood a crude wooden statue of a woman. Cerdic took it in his hands and concentrated. He felt his mind melting together with the statue. A sudden jerk of his body, his eyes rolled back and the link was established. In his mind he heard a voice, cracking with old age, and in his mind he formed words, letting them flow through his arms and hands to the statue. “O great goddess Macha,” came his voiceless words, “this is your obedient servant Cerdic speaking. Merlin is still alive, but he is getting more and more weak. Talk is he may not live to see another sunrise.”
* * *
“So, the boy is weak and dying,” said Morgana, her malicious voice dripping with contempt, “I was strong enough after all, as if I ever doubted it myself.”
“Weak yes, but dying no. I don’t believe that for a second. The boy is strong, otherwise he would not have survived. And I’m sure you will be able to harm him a little bit more, but with your pathetic magic that’s just about all you can do.”
Morgana’s nostrils flared and her eyes flashed with uncontrollable anger. A spell formed on her lips, a spell to do serious damage to that miserable old crone sitting there, looking so very complacent and disdainful.
“Before you unleash that pathetic little magic of yours, you pitiful conjurer, it might be wise to save it for something more important. No matter what, that young upstart of a warlock will die before the moon is full, and with him that unbearable prat Arthur. When I gave you that spell, I also told you there was a price to pay and you agreed. So, whether you like it or not, and I really don’t care one way or another, the time for you to pay has come.” She stretched out her bony hands and suddenly Morgana felt her gnarled fingers inside her head. She screamed and screamed until she could scream no more.
TO LEAVE A COMMENT OR READ COMMENTS The comment section only appears when you click the “reply/replies” in the small footer underneath the “tweet” button below. You can also find it by clicking on the number in the square box to the right of the title of this post at the top right hand corner Thank you!
Next time on “Merlin, the adventures continue…”: will the scrolls reveal their secrets and a visitor to Camelot is announced.
links to the previous chapters:
Chapter 1: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-1-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 2: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-2/
Chapter 3: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-3-by-tony-de-haan/