Chapter two of Camelot Reborn, being the second part of The Fall of Camelot

“Ohhhhh!” The crowd gathered on the market place let out a collective gasp at seeing the spectacle unfolding before their eyes and involuntarily they all took a step backwards, for there, right in front of their eyes, appeared the most hideous creature they had ever seen. A harpy, a terrible creature that surely could only have come from beyond the Veil appeared with a blinding flash and thunderous noise on stage, screeching and waving its skeletal wings, bones with rotting and decaying pieces of flesh sticking out of its body, tufts of lank and greasy hair clinging to its skull, and speaking in a distorted voice not from this world. Another flash, and in the blink of an eye a table laden with food disappeared into thin air. One woman in the crowd let out a scream and fell into a swoon, while others were suddenly looking extremely pale and uncomfortable.

“It’s all done with smoke and mirrors you know, it’s not real,” Leon whispered in Merlin’s ear, sensing his distress and thinking Merlin was scared out of his wits; but it was not from fear that Merlin had turned as white as a sheet, for he had sensed something: magic. He concentrated, closing his mind to anything around him but the players on the stage, and then he felt powerful magic emanating from the player hidden inside the harpy costume. Could it really be you? Merlin thought, after all these years?, and a smile came to his lips, for he thought he had recognised the man playing that terrible creature. I must go to him right after the show, he said to himself, and tried to enjoy the rest of the performance, all but jumping up and down with excitement with both the play and the prospect of seeing an old friend again. A band now appeared on stage playing a lively tune, and six players were engaged in an intricate dance of attracting and rejecting, trying, unsuccessfully and to the delight of the audience, to break up the two lovers.
A few hours later and the play came to a happy end. The crowd cheered loudly, clapping their hands and stamping their feet as the players went round with hats in their hands, hoping the audience would honour them with a few coins, which they generously did; and there was also the promise of a hot supper in the kitchens of Camelot. Slowly the market place emptied as everybody went their separate ways, back to their workshops and houses, and all still in awe at what they had just witnessed. The players in the meantime had quickly closed the front of their carts with thick leather curtains, brightly painted with scenes from their plays, for they did not want anyone inside so they could see and discover the secrets of their trade.
“Are you coming with us?” Leon asked Merlin, pointing with a half-eaten apple in his hand at the lazily swinging sign of The Rising Sun, it’s painted golden sun sparkling brightly in the afternoon sun. “I’m parched.”
“No…” Merlin said absent-mindedly, and he let his gaze wander over the players, and to one in particular. “Things to do, sorry…,” and he took a few tentative steps to the biggest cart into which the players had disappeared.
Leon raised an eyebrow. Merlin not visiting the tavern? That play really had done something to him, must have shaking him to the bone. So Percival, Leon, Kay and Gaharis walked without Merlin to the tavern, laughing and boasting, counting their coin, and each claiming to know exactly which tricks the players had used.
Merlin quickly crossed the market place, walked up the few steps leading to a small door at the back of the players’ wagon, knocked and said: “hello…?”, and before waiting for an answer he slowly opened the door and peered inside the dimly lit interior.
“I knew you would come,” sounded a voice, shrouded in darkness, “I saw you in the crowd, no, I sensed you first. Welcome!”
The other players kept silent and quietly left as if agreed beforehand as Merlin walked to the other end of the wagon, careful not to trip over all the props and costumes still lying scattered around. “Gilli,” he finally said, smiling broadly, arms extended, and both men embraced each other, both happy to see each other again after so many a year. “I knew it was you, had to be you!”
They both started talking at once, each had so much to tell the other.
“Do you still have your ring?”

Gilli held out his hand and there it was: the magical ring that, many years ago, he had used to defeat his opponents in a tournament at Camelot, until Merlin counteracted his last spell which would have made him defeat Uther, making him the winner. “And it still hasn’t lost it magic,” Gilli said, “on the contrary, and I can perform magic without using the ring now.”
“So you did make that table disappear.”
“Of course, but there is also a trapdoor underneath it, just to fool the likes of Uther and now Arthur. You know Uther…”
“It’s magic, kill it,” Merlin replied, and both started laughing at Merlin’s impersonation of Uther, former king of Camelot. “I sensed magic, you know,” he continued, “strong magic, and somehow I knew it had to be you.”
“I felt the same,” Gilli said, “even before I saw you in the crowd, I knew you were there. I was hoping you would come and see me. If not, I would have come to the castle and search for you. Still the servant I see.”
“Yes, but I like it that way. I know, I can’t use magic as much as I want to, but that’s alright now. It’s my destiny, and I know one day magic will no longer be forbidden.”
“That’s one thing I never could understood,” Gilli said, shaking his head, and there came a hint of anger in his voice, “never using magic, always subservient to Arthur, leading the life of a nobody while you could be so much more, could do so much more. Why, Merlin, why?”
“Yes…” Merlin wanted to tell Gilli all about his destiny, protecting Arthur, but he found he couldn’t. Some things were best left untold. “Yes, but I have my reasons.”
“I’m sure you have.” For a moment an uncomfortable silence could be felt in the air.
“And what about you?” Merlin finally said, trying to lighten the mood.
Gilli took a large swig of water before answering. “After the tournament I wandered through the lands of Albion, seeking employment wherever I could find it, using my magic whenever I could, not all rulers are like Uther you know, until I stumbled upon this troupe. It turned out I was rather good at acting. And magic. You know, the players welcomed me with open arms once they knew I was a sorcerer, for their own sorcerer had been executed, here in Camelot believe it or not. Thank you Uther, thank you so very much! Luckily it didn’t happen during a show, the whole troupe would have been killed, but he was using sorcery in a tavern, performing some innocent parlour tricks. Unfortunately some of Uther’s soldiers were present and, well…”
For a moment both men didn’t say anything.
“That’s why we have a trapdoor in the floor,” Gilli continued, “to make it all look harmless, make it look like some clever trick.”
“Smoke and mirrors,” Merlin said, “That’s what Sir Leon said, smoke and mirrors. But only a few weeks ago Arthur said something about making the use of magic no longer forbidden.”
Gilli snorted. “And you believe that? No, that will never happen. Arthur is just as bad as his father. No offence,” he quickly added.
“None taken, but people can change, you know, even Arthur.”
“Can a wildeorren change his habits and start eating plants instead of people?” Gilli said bitterly. “But let’s not discuss all this now, let’s have a bit of fun. I want to hear all the gossip about Camelot, and how Uther died and what Arthur’s like. I’m sure you know a tale or two. Come with me to the tavern.”
“Only if you will tell me all of your adventures,” Merlin said, smiling and feeling good about having found a long lost friend.
“You should come with us,” Gilli said as they walked to the Rising Sun, “You would make an excellent jester.”
“I could always turn the audience into white rabbits,” and both men laughed as they entered the tavern.

to be continued…


Camelot Reborn – part 1

The Day Camelot Fell part two: Camelot Reborn

The story so far:
It’s five years after Arthur and Mordred fell at Camlann, and things are not going well at Camelot. The Saxons conquer Camelot, throwing Gwen in the dungeons. Later Leon is put in her dungeon cell as well.
The last remaining Knights stealthily leave Camelot, hoping to raise an army to retake the castle.

Gaius and Merlin had to flee Camelot, it was no longer safe for them. They lived in a cave in the woods. Merlin can’t come to terms with Arthur’s death and slowly he is losing his magic and his mind. In a dream he sees Arthur announcing his return.

On the Isle of Avalon the Nine Sisters have been nursing Arthur back to life, and they are able to send a message to Merlin about Arthur’s return.
Then one day Merlin sees a barge floating from Avalon, and Merlin and Arthur are reunited.

The Knights meanwhile have managed to raise an army and they are marching to Camelot, Percival is also among them. In the woods they reunite with Arthur, Merlin and Gaius. The battle for Camelot is about to begin. They drive away the Saxons and Arthur, with Gwen by his side, sits on the throne once more.


And now the continuation:

Two days. It’s been two days now, and still I can’t talk about it without bursting into tears. Two long, endless, tortuous days.
King Arthur, the late Arthur I should say, there, on the battlefield of Camlann, dubbed me Knight of Camelot only two days ago. Me, a mere squire to Sir Baudwin. The late Sir Baudwin. And former squire now. A few hours later Arthur was dead, killed by that Mordred. I was there, at Camlann, when Arthur died. I remember walking away, there was nothing left to fight for, nor anyone left to fight against. Camelot died that day, Albion died that day, and I died that day. I can hardly remember anything apart from the silence. And carrion-birds. Carrion-birds and silence. I felt as if my soul had left my body, my legs were moving without me knowing. Don’t think I left my friends behind there on the battle-field, although it may seem so to you, please don’t think ill of me. Too many deaths, I guess… But the worst was yet to come. Suddenly I found myself in the woods where I saw a man, a knight, kneeling, holding another man in his arms. I couldn’t see who it was, but he was grieving, that I could see. Grieving for a fallen comrade no doubt, perhaps he had dragged him there for safety. I took a few more steps and then I saw it: Gwaine. It was Gwaine. I remember running towards them, shouting, crying. “Not Gwaine, please don’t let it be Gwaine” I remember yelling, at least I think that’s what I shouted. The knight, Percival, I recognised him now, looked up, startled, but I didn’t see him. All I could see was Gwaine. I knelt and hooked his hair behind his ear, cradling his head. He was dead. I was overcome with grief, as I still am. I remember vaguely Percival’s hand on my shoulder, trying to give comfort while he himself had only grief to give. What happened next I don’t know anymore, everything is hidden deep in my mind, only a few vague memories like intangible wisps of fog remain. I felt my strength flowing into Gwaine. I am also a druid you know, have been since birth. I know how to heal people. Oh, I wanted so desperately to restore Gwaine’s life to him, I was totally willing to give up my own so he could live. I know I tried, giving everything I had and more, trying to get just one tiny spark of life back into Gwaine’s now ice-cold body. The world around me no longer existed, all I could see was Gwaine’s beautiful face, and then there were shadows, spectres, all around me, almost like ghosts. I felt a hand on my shoulder, gently trying to tear me away from Gwaine. There was a comfortable warmth in his touch, a reassurance even. I felt weak, so terribly weak. It must have been the druids, I’m certain of it. Almost certain. I thought I heard them talking, something like “don’t worry, we will take care of him now”. I must have walked away, it was a great day for walking away…, and now I am here, in this little village where there is only talk of the massacre at Camlann and Arthur’s death. I still don’t know how I got here. I must stop now, I can write no more, too much grief.
My name? Galahad. Sir Galahad, Knight of Camelot.



“May I have the honour of this dance, my Lady?” Arthur said, bowing, as he offered his hand to Gwen. She smiled and tenderly took his hand in hers, and together they strode onto the still empty floor of the lavishly decorated Banqueting Hall. The musicians began to play a lively and merry tune on their fiddles and pipes and drums; and Gwen and Arthur opened the ball, the first in many years, and just a few weeks after the recapture of Camelot. A thunderous applause sounded, drowning out the music, and many a goblet was raised as the couple made their first graceful steps. Soon more couples followed, and it did not take long before the Hall was one giant whirling and colourful sea of merry splendour.
Hundreds and hundreds of expensive beeswax candles were burning brightly in dozens of chandeliers and candelabrums, setting the Hall and everyone in it in a rich and golden light. All the knights, whether survivor or newly dubbed, had donned their best mail shirts and armour, polished to a brilliant shine, reflecting the candle-flames a thousand times over; and all the ladies were wearing their most beautiful gowns in silk and brocade, many specially made for this evening, and their most gorgeous jewellery was sparkling like thousands of bright little stars.
Merlin too had new clothes, gone were his simple tunic and jacket of old; he now wore a lush green linen tunic trimmed with bands of dark red, and a leather jerkin dyed the same red colour as the knight’s gambesons.
The feasting would last for a whole week throughout the entire kingdom of Camelot, and there would be a tourney and a joust, and, on the last day, a mêlée. Arthur, however, much to his distress, could not compete, for he was still too weak, but he had already been training with the knights, and his strength was rapidly returning, and all expected him to compete and win next year.
“Are you going to the market square tomorrow?” Leon asked Percival as he popped another pickled egg in his mouth, washing it away with a large swig of ale, “The stage players have finally come to Camelot”.
“Of course,” Percival answered, picking clean a roasted pheasant leg, “I’ve been looking forward to it for days now. Merlin, didn’t you want to come too?”
“Yes, absolutely, and I’m sure Arthur can do without me for one afternoon,” Merlin said, looking pleadingly at Arthur. He too had heard of the play, it was supposed to be filled with all kinds of magic. There already were carts with scenery on the market square where a troupe of wandering players performed their tale involving an enchanted island, a spirit who supposedly appears and disappears from thin air, a horrifying harpy, disappearing tables and there was even talk of a real tempest! Surely they must use real magic, Merlin thought.
“Of course you can go, Merlin, but only if you wash my shirts and polish my boots this very night, I need them clean by tomorrow,” came Arthur’s carefully even voice, “and don’t forget to polish my armour too.”
“Or Merlin can wash them the day after tomorrow,” Gwen said, gently patting Arthur’s arm, “you have plenty of clean shirts, and I’m sure there’s a kitchen boy somewhere willing to polish your boots.”
“You might want to come too, Sire, I’ve heard there’ve staged something especially for you,” Merlin said with a frolicsome twinkle in his eyes, “A booth with glove puppets,” and then he quickly had to duck, trying not to get hit by the cream pie Arthur had thrown at him. Laughter erupted, and with a single glance it was understood between Arthur and Merlin that he could go and watch the play, and not do all those chores tonight Arthur had joked about.


“He has risen,” they hissed, “‘tis done, he has return’d.” Three hideous creatures were stirring in a huge cauldron. The foul-smelling liquid inside it bubbled and almost cried out in agony as more and more indefinable bits were thrown in. “Why has he risen,” they hissed angrily, “‘tis not something that should have happened.” The cave now filled with smoke, thick and green and smelling of rotten eggs. The three sisters, for sisters they were, stood there with their backs bent; dirty, grey-white hair hanging down their faces, obscuring their totally black eyes. The hissing continued, a snake-like sound coming from almost toothless mouths. Their gnarled hands with long, dirty fingernails clutched the ladle as they kept stirring, oblivious to the intense heat from the fire. “We must not tarry, and act with haste,” they hissed. “for Camelot was almost ours, we must not fail now.”
“But she is not ready,” they answered themselves, “we must do more if we are to succeed.”
A handful of dried bat-wings found their way into the cauldron, turning the liquid from green to the most blackest of black. “On the morrow, when the sun rises, ’tis ready to be sure,” they hissed and they kept on stirring, not needing any rest nor sleep, “And on the new morn she must be made ready too.”

The next day the liquid was as clear as water, and the three sisters hissed: “’tis finally ready, now she must be made to drink it.” They poured some of it in a crude wooden beaker, and with faltering steps made their way into the deepest recesses of the cave. No light penetrated there, and the one small flickering candle was unable to drive away the darkness.
“Drink,” they commanded, and they poured the liquid into the slightly open mouth of the woman who was laying there, her hair like a black halo around her head. The three sisters held out their hands, eyes closed in utter concentration, murmuring dark and ancient spells, from a distant time before the Old Religion, under their breath. Suddenly the woman let out a gasp, followed by a coughing fit as she tried to sit up. Her eyes suddenly opened wide, feral eyes nervously looking to and fro, and then she fell back again, but now her breathing was deep and there was colour on her face again. The three sisters looked at each other and smiled their toothless smiles. “‘tis done,” they hissed, “she has return’d. Soon Camelot will be ours. Now we must make her do our bidding.”

To be continued…

How Merlin got Arthur his gift – a Christmas story by Tony DeHaan

It had been snowing steadily for days now, and countless fluffy snowflakes had covered Camelot under a thick, white blanket. Percival and Leon could be seen hauling a Yule log from the woods, their tracks quickly fading as more and more snow kept falling.
Inside the Banqueting Hall the hearth was blazing, and at the far end stood a giant fir-tree surrounded by dozens of baskets.
“You’re just in time,” Gwen said as Percival and Leon entered the Hall and carried the Yule log to the hearth, “You can help me decorating the higher branches, just don’t break the decorations…,” and Gwen looked a bit worrying at Percival’s big and strong hands. From one of the baskets she took a bird made of delicate glass and carefully hung it on a branch. Soon Percival was stretching his arms high into the air and standing on his toes trying to decorate the highest branches with birds, flowers and fruits, all beautifully made from coloured glass and silver; and, much to Gwen’s delight, he did not break a single one of them.
“Now this one should go on the top,” Gwen said, and from a little basket she took a beautiful ornament made from intricate silver filigree and glass worked in a very delicate pattern. There was even a candle inside it, so in the evenings it could be lit. She looked at Percival who unceremoniously hoisted Leon up in the air so he could put the ornament on top of the tree.
“That’s beautiful, Gwen” came Arthur’s voice as he entered the Hall, carrying a helmet. He walked to the tree, grabbed something from the helmet and started hanging little ornaments on the branches.
“Arthur, what’s that,” Gwen asked a bit icily.
“Decorations of course,” Arthur answered and another trinket found its way on the tree.
“It’s a sword, Arthur, and a helmet.”
“Yes. Lovely, isn’t it. I had them specially made by the finest craftsman in Camelot.”
Gwen stood looking at the tree, shaking her head in disbelief. Behind her back, Percival and Leon gave Arthur their thumbs-up as Arthur carefully put a tiny mail shirt on the tree. “Look at all those tiny rings,” he said admiringly, turning it so it could catch the light.
“You can’t decorate a tree with swords and armour,” Gwen said quite decisively.
“Why not?”
“Just because!” Gwen turned to Percival and Leon, but before she could ask their opinion, Leon coughed and muttered something about polishing his boots and left the Hall, quickly followed by Percival. Arthur in the meantime stood a few paces from the tree, beaming and admiring his handiwork. Gwen just shook her head, thinking “men…”.

“And who did you draw?” Gaius asked. Everybody in Camelot had drawn lots as to whom to buy a present for.
“Arthur,” Merlin said and he clasped his head in utter despair.
“Any idea as what to give him?” Gaius asked.
“I don’t know, he has everything, and I can’t afford to buy him a new mail shirt or anything,” Merlin answered, followed by a deep and joyless sigh. “I know!”, he suddenly exclaimed, “Why don’t I just give him nothing. That’s something he hasn’t got: nothing!”
Gaius smiled, careful not to show his face to Merlin. “A little bit difficult to wrap, that ‘nothing’,” he said, patting Merlin on the shoulder. “I’m sure you’ll think of something,” and with these encouraging words he left his chambers, saying, “I’m going to the market, I want to buy my present for Cook”.
“A whole week of polishing his armour for free? No, that’s what I’m doing already. Change places for a day? No, he wouldn’t survive for five minutes. Think, Merlin, think!”

The Yule log was burning in the hearth now, carefully tended to insure it kept on burning until it was nothing but a pile of ashes. Dozens of candles had been lit in the tree, making all the decorations sparkle like thousands of little stars, and numerous parcels, big and small, were stacked under it.
“Happy Yule,” everybody shouted and lifted their goblets to celebrate the longest night, for tomorrow the days would lengthen again, giving a little more light every day, heralding the coming of spring.
Soon one by one the gifts were opened. Cook smiled and her eyes lit up as she unwrapped a wooden ladle, highly polished and beautifully decorated with an intricate design of leaves and foliage. “Oh, I like this one,” she happily exclaimed, and Gaius beamed too.
Finally it was Arthur’s turn to open his gift. His eyes widened as he opened the box, lifting out a wooden model of Camelot. “This is beautiful,” he said as he turned model, a mere 6 inches high, in his hands for all to see. He turned it upside down and there he read: “For my friend Arthur, carved by own hand”.
“Thank you, Merlin,” Arthur whispered, for he had recognized the handwriting. Merlin said nothing, he just smiled, turning slightly red.
And from that day onwards did this little model of Camelot grace Arthur’s table in his private chambers.


The Day Camelot Fell – part 6, by TonyDeHaan


The army was now only a few days’ march from Camelot, and they had erected their camp near the river and the woods. They had met with a few Saxon war-bands, but they had proved no match for the knights. A few Saxons, however, had managed to escape, and king Ban suspected they must have run back to Camelot, undoubtedly warning the Saxons that an army was approaching, that a battle was now unavoidable, thus giving them time to prepare their defences.

On that moonless night a scout came back, all clad in black he was, and his horse had rags tied around his hoofs, so he could gallop in silence. With great haste he went to king Ban’s pavilion, and there he met with his king and the knights of Camelot. “Sire, Sirs,” he said, dispensing with all the small talk, “the postern gate is all blocked up with rubble and masonry, but it can be cleared, give enough men and a few hours’ time. The main gate is heavily defended, but the southern gate is all but deserted. They clearly do not anticipate an attack from the river, but they did put sharpened poles in the riverbed, and chains preventing boats from sailing to the gate.”

“But we will be able to enter Camelot using the southern gate?”

“Yes, Sir Kay, provided someone can lower the drawbridge from the inside.”

And so plans to retake Camelot  were being made.


And as the first rays of the sun spilled over the horizon, the Saxons saw a huge army approaching, they saw the ominous trebuchets, their slings filled with stones, firing beams pulled back, ready to bombard the walls of Camelot. Alarm bells sounded, and the Saxons quickly donned their armour, ready to do battle. Great vats of oil were boiling by now, oil to pour over the attackers should they attempt to scale the walls, and many an archer manned the battlements, as well as all the arrow loops, ready to fire their deathly rain of iron-tipped arrows.

And then the trebuchets fired, followed by the arrows of the longbow-men; and the stones were pounding the walls of Camelot, making masonry fly, and there were so many arrows in the air that they all but blocked out the sun. Quickly the trebuchets were loaded for the next volley, and the longbow-men tirelessly fired arrow after arrow, and many Saxons perished.


At the postern gate men-at-arms worked relentlessly trying to clear away all the rubble so they could enter Camelot and try and open the southern gate. They had met with no resistance, for every Saxon was called away to defend the northern gate. Sweat streamed down their bodies, for the sun was hot and the men were fully armoured in helmets and mail shirts; but after an hour of hard work, they finally were able to enter the castle. With drawn swords they cautiously walked through the corridors, but they did not encounter any Saxon, nor were they spotted, and they finally reached the southern gate unseen. Quickly they raised the portcullis, opened the heavy gate and lowered the drawbridge. Hundreds of fully armed knights and foot soldiers, led by Arthur, streamed into the castle grounds and made their way to the northern gate. The Saxons realised too late the danger they were in, and many fell as the knights made their swords perform their deadly dance, and swung their spiked maces in devastating arcs; and Roland, squire to Sir Kay, and many other squires besides, could be seen lowering the drawbridge and opening the heavy northern gate, and hundreds upon hundreds of armoured knights and men-at-arms came storming in. Fierce fighting ensued, but the Saxons found themselves hugely outnumbered, and those trying to flee, like the scuttling rats they were, were quickly being put to the sword, and still more and more knights and men-at-arms came rushing in. King Maleagant witnessed everything from the window in the Great Hall, refusing to do battle like the coward he was, and he was filled with uncontrollable anger and fear, but before he could make his escape, Sir Gaharis came storming into the Hall, sword drawn, and the sharp steel hit Maleagant on his head, cleaving through helm and coif. “That’s for killing my squire,” Gaharis said as Maleagant hit the floor, and instantly his life fled from him.




That day there was great rejoicing in Camelot, as the few remaining Saxons were, with much jeering and spitting, driven from their beloved kingdom, so they could spread the tale of an even stronger Camelot and all its vigilant allies, a tale of an unconquerable Albion, a warning to all; but there was also great sadness as every citizen and every knight remembered those who had perished under the short, but ruthless Saxon occupation. And so did Arthur access the throne of Camelot once more.

And soon all the dungeons were thrown open, and the prisoners were set free for they were all innocent citizens of Camelot.

The Knights went to Gwen’s little dungeon, and the honour of opening the grille fell to Sir Gareth; and soon everybody was overwhelmed with unbounded joy at seeing each other alive and well again. There was, however, no Arthur to be seen, nor Gaius or Merlin, for Gaius felt that the shock would be too great for Gwen, and so Gaius and the knights carefully prepared her first for the no doubt emotional reunion with her husband.

And when they finally saw each other, Gwen and Arthur were all but fainting from a happiness beyond all description, and they fell into each other’s arms, but there is no need to relate their feelings here.




Arthur roamed the now all but empty corridors of Camelot and mourned the loss of so many good and loyal knights. Never again, he thought, this must never happen again, and he opened a door at random, only to find nothing but broken furniture inside. Slowly he made his way to the Great Hall. After the defeat of the Saxons, many valiant men-at-arms had asked to be allowed to remain behind, to become a Knight of Camelot, and their kings had graciously given their consent, for they all saw the need for a strong Camelot. Arthur’s footfalls sounded loud and hollow, like he was walking through a charnel house, for the Saxons had taken all the tapestries from the walls, leaving nothing but an empty shell, dead and crumbling. As he stood before the doors of the Great Hall, he heaved a deep sigh and entered. There was assembled a great number of men, all cheering and shouting “For the love of Camelot!”

“Today will be the beginning of a new Camelot, a strong Camelot,” Arthur said, “And not only that, but today will also be the beginning of the United Kingdoms of Albion.” His words met with great cheer. “For we have now seen what can be achieved when all our kingdoms unite. You are all gathered here, all wanting to become a Knight of Camelot—” More cheers erupted. “—and for that I give thanks.” With these words Arthur walked to an empty chair, and laid his hands on the backrest. “But first I decree that this chair will remain empty forever, for this used to be Gwaine’s chair, and no one will ever be allowed to sit in it or remove it as long as Camelot stands.” His eyes misted over, and his words met with great acclamation. “For Gwaine,” they all shouted, lifting their goblets in a salute. “Tomorrow you will start your training. Lamorak, Kay, Gareth, Gaharis, Ywain, you will each take an equal number of men under your command. But you must remember one thing: if you’re not good enough, you will not be dubbed a Knight of Camelot. But I have every faith you all will pass all the tests! And now I must attend to another pressing matter. I will be in my chambers, not to be disturbed.” And as Arthur left the hall, a deafening “For the love of Camelot” reverberated off the walls. “Send Gaius to my chambers,” he said to a guard, as he left the Great Hall.


“Gaius,” Arthur said as both men were alone in Arthur’s chambers, “I want you to resume your duties as court physician, if you want to of course.”

For a moment Gaius did not speak, but then his lips cracked open in a grateful smile and he said: “I would love nothing more, Sire, thank you.”

“Good, that’s settled then,” Arthur said, “I hope your chambers won’t be too much damaged. Please let me know if you need anything replaced.”

Gaius bowed, saying “Thank you, Sire,” once more, and slowly he shuffled towards the door, a smile still on his lips. After years of hardship he finally was able to go back to his beloved old chambers, to see his books once more, his salves and ointments, his leeches.

“Merlin is a sorcerer, isn’t he,” came Arthur’s voice as Gaius was about to open the door. Gaius’ whole body stiffened as Arthur’s words hit him like a battering-ram, his hands shook with sudden fright. It took all his willpower to remain calm as he answered, still clutching the door-handle: “I wouldn’t know, Sire.”

“Yes you do, Gaius, I know you do.”

Gaius closed his eyes and he gripped the door handle so tightly now that his knuckles turned white and the cold steel of the handle bit painfully into his flesh.

“Oh, don’t worry, I won’t hurt him. In fact, I was thinking of lifting the ban on sorcery. Good sorcery that is.”

Gaius head turned around slowly, his hands still holding the door handle for support. “Sire, Merlin is no sorcerer, and if he was, I surely would have known,” he whispered, his eyes downcast, afraid to look at Arthur.

“Get Merlin in here,” Arthur said to a guard. The man bowed and hurried away. Gaius said nothing, the whole world seemed to spin, and he was sweating profusely now. He felt cold and hot at the same time, feeling like a scared rabbit waiting for the knife to cut his throat. Arthur gently took Gaius’ arm and led him to a chair. “Please sit, Gaius, you look unwell. So much has happened, so much to take in.”

Gaius remained silent. The door opened and Merlin entered, a puzzled look on his now clean shaven face. He saw Gaius slumped in a chair, and he said worryingly: “Gaius, are you alright? You look sick.”

“I’m fine, Merlin, just a bit fatigued,” he managed to answer, trying to smile. How he wished with all his heart he could tell Merlin of Arthur’s plan to allow magic back in Camelot, but it was not his place to relate such news, not in front of Arthur.

“Merlin, are you a sorcerer?” Arthur asked without preamble.


Merlin’s heart leaped in his throat. “A sorcerer?” he squeaked, “Me? Oh no, no, no, no, no! I can’t… I mean… Me…?” and he kept stammering, arms flapping. “I’ve been cleaning your armour for years, if I had magic, I wouldn’t have worked my fingers to the bone, I could have cleaned it with one click of my fingers. No, no, no, I’m no sorcerer! Ha! Gaius, am I a sorcerer?”

“Arthur did ask me the same thing,” Gaius said, trying to sound calm, “but I would have known surely—” but before he could say anything more, Merlin was jabbering away again.

All the while did Arthur not say anything, but he kept looking at Merlin, his face unreadable. “I remember Camlann,” Arthur finally said, interrupting Merlin’s incoherent stuttering. “I know what I saw, Merlin, I saw magic performed. There was an old guy there, but he wasn’t really old, it was you, wasn’t he, Merlin. I know it was. Everything shimmered for just a second, and I clearly saw your face.” And Arthur’s cold, blue eyes bored into Merlin’s, holding him transfixed in an almost hypnotical stare. Merlin kept silent, wiping his sweaty palms on his tunic, wiping his wet forehead with his sleeve.

“I already told Arthur you couldn’t possibly a sorcerer,” Gaius said.

“No!, I’m not!” and Merlin’s voice rose another octave, “Look at me, how can I… A sorcerer? No, no, not me…,” fidgeting all the time with his hair, his ears, his tunic, his belt. The air was heavy with tension now, enveloping everything in a thick, oppressive blanket of dense and impenetrable fog. No one spoke for what seemed like ages. Then Arthur said softly: “I saw it, Merlin, don’t bother denying it any longer. I saw you performing magic.”

“Sire,” came the soft voice of Gaius, “you were wounded, Sire, mortally wounded. The shock, the pain… you surely were delirious, Sire, making you see things. Pain and loss of blood will do that to a man, any man. It plays tricks on the mind, Sire, as I know from professional experience.”

Arthur said nothing, but kept his eyes on Merlin.

“That’s it, I’m sure that’s it,” Merlin exclaimed far too loud.

“I won’t execute you, Merlin, I’m not like my father. Now I’m asking you one last time, and if I find out you’ve been lying to me…” Arthur didn’t finish the sentence, but let the words hovering threateningly in the air. “Are you a sorcerer or not, and I urge you to answer truthfully.”

“No, Sire,” Merlin whispered, eyes downcast.

“I’m still not convinced, Merlin, but for the time being we will leave it at that. Now you can go and polish my armour I saw lying in the Great Hall. It hasn’t been cleaned for five years, you know…” Merlin all but ran from Arthur’s chambers. “You may go too, Gaius, I think Merlin and you may need each other now. Take some rest, and think about what happened just now.”

“Thank you, Sire,” Gaius said in a faltering voice, and he too left Arthur’s chambers, still trembling.

“I saw it all before I got stabbed,” Arthur whispered softly the moment the door closed, “There’s something about you, Merlin, and one day I will find out…”

Here ends part one of The Day Camelot Fell.

Part two will be published in February.

The Day Camelot Fell – part 5, by Tony DeHaan


“Hello, my princess, how are you today?” came the grating voice of Maleagant, the words reverberating off the cold, stone walls. He halted right in front of Gwen’s little dungeon cell, lips curled in a sneering smile. “Lovely day today. Oh, wait, you can’t see that of course. How sad…,” and a opprobrious laughter followed his words. “I have a present for you…” He beckoned to one of the guards and opened the grille. The guard threw something large and heavy into her cell and immediately the grille was closed again. “How about that, it almost looks like a knight. Have fun,” Maleagant said with a voice dripping with sarcasm, and his derisive laughter filled the dark corridor as he walked away. All the while Gwen had sat there, in a corner of her dungeon cell, not speaking nor reacting to Maleagant’s words, but haughtily looking at him, showing him she was not afraid, she was still the rightful queen of Camelot. As soon as the noise died down, and there were no more footsteps to be heard, she carefully took a few tentative steps to what must be a human being. “Hello,” she whispered, and involuntarily took a step back as the man, for it surely must be a man she thought, groaned softly. Gwen took a deep breath and tried again: “Hello. I’m Gwen.” The man groaned again, as if in great pain. Gwen knelt and touched his shoulder, for the man was lying face down on the floor. “My queen,” the man said with great difficulty, as he slowly turned his head. “It’s me.” Gwen took the bowl of water and moistened his cracked and bloody lips, and then she brushed the hair aside that was obscuring his face; and then she saw his face: “Leon,” she exclaimed, “it is truly you. What have they done to you?”
“Beat me up a little,” Leon managed to say, “Need rest,” and his eyes started to close.
Gwen found herself unable to move him, so she put some straw under his head instead. Leon didn’t even notice it as he drifted into sleep.

After what seemed like an eternity to Gwen, Leon finally woke up. He groaned again as he tried to move, but he kept trying. With much difficulty he managed to sit up and crawl a few feet to the wall so he could rest his back against it. He was panting heavily, and Gwen noticed he dragged his left leg behind him. “Oh, Leon,” she whispered, “what have they done to you? And what have they done to your leg? Here, I’ve got a bit of soup left. It’s not much, but it’s all I’ve got. There will be more tonight.”
Thankfully accepted Leon the cold and watery soup and gulped it down. “Thank you, my lady,” he said, “That vermin of a so-called king said there are no more knights, I’m the last one it said, but not for long, and that they would bring me to you. The queen and her champion, that fraud befouling your throne said, the last remains of Camelot, slowly rotting away. I am, however, still quite shocked to see you here, my queen, and not sitting on the throne, where you belong. Pray tell me, my lady, are those Saxon rats treating you well?”
“I am alive, Leon, alive and unhurt. But please, tell me your story. And why did they put you here?”
Leon slowly shook his head. “I don’t know, my lady—”
“Gwen, please call me Gwen.”
“Gwen… I don’t know. They must have put me here for a reason. To get information perhaps, they might be listening, or it is simply their warped sense of fun, I don’t know anymore,” and he started to whisper just in case. “And if that thing on your throne wanted us dead, he would have done so already. As for me, it happened a few years ago, two, three, I don’t know anymore, while I was patrolling the outlying villages when suddenly a sack was thrown over me and I got hit on the head. When I woke up, I found myself in a dirty and rat-infested dungeon. It turned out to be a Saxon stronghold in the south, and they wanted information from me, information regarding Camelot. How many knights there were, how was it defended and so on. I will spare you all the details, my la… Gwen, but I did not betray Camelot, although the pain they inflicted almost made me. So after a few weeks they finally threw me back into the dungeon, more dead than alive, yet somehow they wanted to keep me alive, and I’ve been planning to escape ever since.” Leon’s voice faltered, his strength had all but left him and he breathed heavily now. Sweat had broken out on his now very pale face. Gwen offered him a little water.
“Please rest awhile, Leon, we will talk later.”


“And at some point some Saxon vermin broke my leg, and it never healed properly. I tried to do it myself. The pain was unbearable, and I didn’t have the right tools, but I managed alright. I can still walk, and ride a horse if need be. And I finally managed to escape, after all those years in the dungeons. It took me months to get to Camelot, weak as I was, and as I was hiding in the woods, a Saxon rat saw me and captured me. I am sorry, Gwen, but I was exhausted and I didn’t have much strength left. Some knight of Camelot am I, letting myself captured like that!” Leon felt ashamed now, ashamed for letting Gwen down, letting Camelot down. He spoke no more, and turned his face from Gwen’s.
“It’s alright, Leon, you’re here and we’re both still alive. I’m sure everything will turn out fine,” but the tone of her voice said otherwise.

And then one day, not long after Leon was captured and thrown in Gwen’s dungeon, a great tumult broke out, and they could hear heavy stones pounding the walls of Camelot, and frantic yelling and screaming; and they looked at each other with both hope and fear in their eyes.


“So you’re the great Percival,” Ywain said with a haughty voice, “I’ve heard so much about you,” and he looked disdainfully at Percival, for he had heard the tales of Percival’s flight, how he had ran away like a coward under the cover of a moonless night.
“Percival,” Gareth said curtly, and turned his back on him, pretending to admire a tapestry. Gaharis and Kay just stood there without speaking. Only Lamorak smiled, clasped Percival’s arms and hugged him. “It’s good to see you again, old friend,” he said.
“Friends don’t run away,” Ywain said, and his tone was scornful and full of barely contained disdain, “Friends stay loyal to their comrades, to their king and queen, to Camelot.”
Percival stiffened, his eyes hardened, but he kept his calm, albeit with great effort.
“Let them,” Lamorak whispered, “they weren’t there, they don’t know anything,” and then: “Yes, Percival left Camelot and personally I don’t blame him. Do you have any idea how hard it is to see all those you love die? He had seen how his family got slaughtered, and then all those deaths at Camlann. And you, Ywain, you weren’t even with us back then, you don’t know all he’s been through! And don’t forget, Percival had been a knight for only a short time, and seeing all those deaths all around him was too much to handle, so no, I don’t blame him, and I still consider him my friend!”
“Thank you,” Percival whispered, and then, facing the knights, he exclaimed: “Yes, I went away, and for a very good reason. Arthur, my king and my friend, was dead; Gwaine, the bravest knight there ever was, was dead too, and I was the one who held him as his last breath left him.” Percival saw it all again and his eyes became moist; he felt once again holding Gwaine’s head in his hands, foreheads touching, and he felt Gwaine’s skin rapidly losing warmth, and then his eyes went dead and his skin turned cold as ice. He saw himself sitting there, frozen in time, cradling Gwaine’s head in his hands, rocking to and fro; and then he suddenly saw the burned and razed village of his parents again, and he felt surrounded by the ghosts of all his loved ones. “Pecival,” he heard, a whispering voice in the distance, “Percival, are you alright?” Slowly the world came into focus again and Percival, in a broken voice, continued: “I had nothing left to live for, and so I went away. You think it was wrong, and maybe it was, but it was the only thing I could do at the time, and now the time has come for me to fight for Camelot once more.”
“I’m sure you can still use a sword,” Kay said as he walked towards Percival and offered him his hand. Percival took it.
“True Knights of Camelot do not run away,” Gareth said, “Never!”
“Well, you’re here, aren’t you, don’t you have a Camelot to defend?” Percival was really getting upset now, for Gareth’s unbending words had cut deep into his very soul.
“That’s different,” Gareth exclaimed, turning red and he clenched his fists, ready to attack Percival.
“Really… Care to explain?”
Without warning, Gareth’s fist slammed into Percival’s gut, and almost immediately Gareth felt Percival’s fingers clutching his throat, squeezing hard.
“That’s enough!” Lamorak thundered, his fist slamming on a table, “I won’t have you fighting amongst yourselves. What are you? Barbarian Saxons? We are knights, so let’s start acting like knights instead of a bunch of spoiled children! For once, let the past lie in the past, and look to the future: how to retake Camelot! I’m not asking you to be friends for life, but at least try to behave like knights!”
There was great tension in the air now, as Gareth, nursing his throat, once more turned his back on Percival, but Gaharis reluctantly offered Percival his hand, which he, Percival, gladly took, and the Ywain did likewise, which made Percival glad, for wanted nothing more than be friends with them all, even Gareth.


Every day, from dusk to dawn, Merlin sat by the lake, and never did his eyes stray from that single apple-tree, but blossom it did not. And every night he slept fitfully, waking up countless times, but there were no blossoms to be seen.
And on the tenth day, as the sun slowly ascended from the calm water of the Lake of Avalon, lifting the veil of an airy mist, he saw on the apple-tree one tiny bud which was about to burst. His heart filled with joy and his eyes filled with tears. “Arthur can’t see me like this,” he mumbled and with a sharp knife he cut off his long and unkempt beard and scraped clean his chin the best he could. Then he cut his hair and when he saw himself reflected in the water he almost felt like the old Merlin again. And on the apple-tree more and more buds appeared, and soon the tree was in full bloom. The sweet scent filled his nostrils and made him dizzy. Gently the blossoms swayed in the breeze and Merlin felt more emotions in him then he could handle. He was overjoyed with the prospect of seeing Arthur again, for he knew in his heart his dream had been real. Feverishly he paced up and down the shore, never straying far from the apple-tree which was so heavy with blossom now. Slowly the sun rose higher and higher and it warmed Merlin’s skin and bones.
Then he saw it: from afar the prow of a small boat appeared. Slowly, very slowly, the rest of the boat came into view and it glided towards the shore, hardly making a ripple in the water. Merlin’s heart sank and his heart turned ice-cold, for he saw no Arthur in the boat. And he started softly lamenting as the boat floated nearer and nearer until it reached the shore. Merlin, with great fear in his heart, ran towards it, but when he reached the boat he saw Arthur lying there, his new mail shirt sparkling in the sunshine, his sword lay across his chest, his breathing was calm, his face serene and full of life.
“O Arthur,” Merlin sobbed, “Arthur, you have come back,” his fingers brushed Arthur’s cheek and a salty tear fell on Arthur’s lips. Then Arthur woke up.




And every day more and more knights and men-at-arms came to Dinas Emrys, the kingdom of king Ban. There was king Caradoc of Cambenic, and he brought with him five hundred knights in full armour. And there was king Brandegorre of the Distant Isles with one thousand men-at-arms all clad in sparkling, finely linked mail shirts, and it was a wonderful sight to behold; and they all encamped on the fields surrounding the Castle of the Pond of Dragons, for thus was king Ban’s castle called. And there was king Tradelmant of Estrangorre, with two thousand men in iron armour, carrying shields and lances. And when the Knights of Camelot saw all this, their hearts filled with joy and pride, for they knew the Saxons could be beaten.
Soon the fields were completely covered with tents and pavilions of all sizes and colours, and countless banners were to be seen waving in the wind; and numerous campfires were lit, and the air was soon filled with smoke and fragrant smells of roasting meat. And still more allies were coming: there was king Alan of Caerwent, who brought with him eight hundred men all riding good horses; and king Belinant of Ebrauc came with seven hundred ironclad men, all fully armed.

And so the army left King Ban’s kingdom, but the pace was slow, for there were many carts laden with helms and hauberks, swords and maces, food and livestock; and there were carpenters, blacksmiths, bakers, cooks, jesters, jongleurs, druids and physicians; and several imposing trebuchets drawn by spans of fine, strong oxen; and there were many men-at-arms, foot soldiers and knights, too numerous to count. “For Albion,” they all yelled, “for Camelot!”


“Arthur,” Merlin whispered anxiously, all but fainting from happiness at the sight of his king, his friend, alive again, after so many years of tormented uncertainty.
“Wha…” Arthur croaked, but speech did not come easily, for he had not spoken for five years.
“Don’t talk, don’t talk. Oh, Arthur, you’re back, I knew it, I…,” and his voice broke.
“Water,” Arthur managed to utter in a weak and rasping voice.
Merlin quickly took his water-bottle and carefully let a small trickle of cool water fall onto Arthur’s lips.
“I can’t remember…,” Arthur whispered, “There was… was… Mordred… darkness… voices…” His eyes closed again as he tried to remember what had happened to him.
“What am I doing in a funeral barge?” Arthur suddenly exclaimed, “Mordred, I… I…” His voice faltered as he now remembered those fateful last minutes, those last minutes, last seconds, the sword Mordred had thrust through his body, a wave of excruciating pain, and then a deep, dark nothingness; and now he saw in his mind nine women hovering above him, but who they were he did not know. His hands glided hurriedly over his mail-clad body, trying to find any holes in it, trying to find those mortal wounds inflicted by that treacherous Mordred, but finding them he did not, nor did he feel any pain or saw any blood. “Merlin,” he whispered, and there was sudden fear in his eyes, “Merlin, what’s happened?” He sat up, clutching the sides of the boat as he tried to stand, but his legs buckled and he fell down. He tried again, and with great effort he managed to disembark, and Merlin proved to be a great help, supporting his limp body. Leaning heavily on Merlin’s shoulder, they stumbled towards some trees and bushes where Arthur laid down again, his back resting against a tree, hidden from view, and there he lay for a long time.
“Have you been mucking the horses? Arthur finally asked, smiling faintly, “You look terrible. There’re holes in your boots, your tunic is all faded and torn, and what’s with the stubble?”
Merlin had to laugh, a nervous laugh, for he still didn’t know how to tell Arthur the truth about what really did happen.
“I keep seeing images,” Arthur said, “strange images. What has happened, Merlin? I see myself looking at you, you’re looking awful, unkempt beard, and clothes… clothes like you’re wearing now. Talk, Merlin, please explain.” There was a pleading in his voice Merlin had never heard before.
“I will,” he said, barely audible, and at that moment he fully realised what just happened. All those years he had been waiting, waiting for Arthur to return, Arthur who was killed by Mordred. All those years he had shut himself off from the world around him, and he had build impenetrable barriers in his mind, making him forget everything and everyone, but there was one thing he had never lost: his faith in Arthur’s return. Mad, they had called him, Merlin the Mad, Merlin the Wild Man of the Woods, but those names he did not recognise any more. “Gaius, we must go to Gaius,” Merlin mumbled, looking nervously around him.
“What happened! I got stabbed, a sword through my body, but there are no wounds anymore! I was lying in a funeral barge, did all of you think I was dead? Were you preparing my funeral by setting the boat alight? Tell me I’m not dead, Merlin, please tell me you weren’t trying to burn me… Tell me how long I was ‘dead’.”
For a moment Merlin closed his eyes and heaved a deep sigh. Yes, he thought, I must tell him, but how will he take it?
“Arthur,” he said at last, “Arthur, what I’m going to tell you won’t be easy.”
And so Merlin related the whole story to Arthur, omitting nothing save his own involvement as old Emrys, and Arthur was greatly distressed, and he grew more and more astonished at hearing Merlin’s words, for he knew it to be true; and that night he had a vision of the nine sisters speaking to him, telling him all that had happened.
The next day they made their way to Gaius’ cave, resting often, for Arthur was still very weak of limb.



Gaius stood by the entrance of his cave, looking, listening. The smallest sound made him jump: the rustling of leaves, the snapping of a twig, and every time he heard something, he thought that Merlin had come back. For weeks now there had been no sign of him, and Gaius was getting very worried. He has been gone for many weeks on end many times, he thought, I’m sure he’s fine now, he must be, but Gaius had an uneasy feeling as he recalled Merlin’s last words before he left: Arthur is back. He heaved a deep sigh and went inside, obscuring the entrance with thick foliage as he had done for countless times these last few years. But he felt restless and agitated, and the stuffy confines of the cave made him anxious, so he went outside again; and at that moment he heard noises, real noises, people were coming his way. Quickly he went inside, carefully putting the foliage in place, so nobody could detect the entrance. “I’m getting too old for this,” he muttered as he stood near the entrance, trying to hear who were coming, whether they were friend or foe. He dared not move a muscle, and tried to hold his breath. The voices were coming nearer now, he could almost discern the words spoken. “I thought I saw a stream here,” a voice said, “it must be on the other side though.” Footsteps now could be heard, and the clinking of chain mail. Very carefully did Gaius take a step sideways and turned his head. Through the foliage he could just make out shapes, shapes of fully armoured men wearing red cloaks. “There are footsteps here,” one man shouted, “must be from several men, by the look of it. Could be robbers or scoundrels, I don’t know for sure. Their hiding place could be near here. Shall I go and investigate?” Gaius’ heart nearly gave out and he almost fell through the foliage from fright. Then it hit him: they were wearing red cloaks, the colour of Camelot. He ventured another look and he saw a knight aimlessly slashing at some bushes with his sword. On his cloak there was embroidered that all too familiar golden dragon. Gaius felt dizzy and was about to faint. After all these years there came a friend to his dwelling. Thoughts were racing through his mind: are the Saxons finally beaten? Is Camelot safe?
“But suppose they’re Saxons dressed up like Knights of Camelot?” Gaius mumbled, wringing his old and gnarled hands, “They must not find me.” Cautiously he took another look and he let out a gasp, for it was Sir Kay he saw. Tears came to Gaius’ eyes as he stepped outside, startling the knights. With astonishing speed three swords were unsheathed and pointing at Gaius’ chest. No-one moved for a second or two, then Sir Kay said, in a voice filled with disbelief: “Gaius? Is that really you?” and he sheathed his sword, beckoning the rest to do the same. “Gaius?”
“Sir Kay,” was all Gaius could utter, for he could no longer speak from emotion. Kay walked to him and hugged him. “We thought you were dead, it’s so good to see you again. Ywain, meet the venerable Gaius, our court physician, long believed dead.”
“Sir,” Ywain said as he made a small bow and offered Gaius his hand in friendship, ”I have heard so much about you. All good things, I assure you.”
“My dear Gaius, I can’t tell you how glad I am to see you alive and well,” Sir Lamorak said, beaming.
“Merlin, have you seen Merlin?” Gaius asked, “he must be around here somewhere…” and he looked around, hoping to see him walking into view.
“Merlin is alive too?” Kay exclaimed.
“Who’s Merlin,” Ywain said a trifle bored, for he had not heard of someone called by that name.
“Arthur’s servant,” Kay answered, “But Gaius, I still can’t believe it, and Merlin, where’s Merlin?”
“I don’t know, he does that you know, disappear for weeks on end, and now that he…” and his voice trailed away. “But why are you here?” Gaius said, changing the subject, “And how is Guinevere, is she well?”
And Kay related the whole story to Gaius, who grew sadder with every word, and when Kay mentioned that Gwen was locked up in the dungeons, his face turned ashen. “There are thousands of knights and men-at-arms not far from here, ready to retake Camelot,” Kay finally said, “Please come with us, there’s plenty of room in the wagons.”
Gaius nodded, nervously looking around. “Yes… yes.. I might…”
“But you don’t want to go without Merlin, don’t you,” Lamorak said, sensing Gaius’ distress.
Gaius nodded, and at that moment a noise was heard in the foliage, uneven footfalls, panting. The knights quickly unsheathed their swords. Then Merlin emerged, with Arthur leaning on his shoulder, and both Gaius and the knights froze, a look of utter disbelief and bewilderment on their faces. All except Ywain, for he had never seen Arthur nor Merlin.
“Help me get him inside,” Merlin gasped, panting for breath, for they had walked a long distance. Ywain quickly laid Arthur arm around his shoulders and took him inside the cave, followed by Merlin.
“Who are you?” both men asked simultaneously.
“My name is Ywain, Knight of Camelot, and your name be…”
“Merlin, I’m Merlin. And this is Arthur. King Arthur.”
“Arthur?” Ywain exclaimed, “The great king Arthur of whom I have heard so much? But he is believed to be dead, killed by a traitor who went by the name of Mordred.”
But before they could speak again, Gaius, Kay, Lamorak and Gareth came bursting into the cave.
“I told you, Gaius, I told you Arthur was back,” Merlin said without turning around.
“This can’t be,” Lamorak whispered, “You were dead, are dead.”
“There is this prophesy that I know of,” Kay said, “I heard it years ago from the druids. It says that Arthur will rise again when Camelot is in inescapable dire straits, when all seems completely lost. If there ever was a time like that, it’s definitely now…”
And then Ywain who walked over to where Arthur was sitting and he fell on one knee, saying: “My lord, my king. I, Ywain, offer you my sword as I did to queen Guinevere.”
In a corner Gaius was shaking his head, he still couldn’t believe all that was happening. Arthur was indeed well and truly back, and he would finally go to Camelot soon.

They all spend the rest of the afternoon outside, so that Arthur could rest after his long and arduous journey. Only Merlin stayed with him, tending him.
And that evening and night there was a lot of talking between Arthur, Lamorak, Kay and Ywain, and the knights thought Arthur should go with them to the waiting army, and to take command, which he graciously accepted. Sleep did not come easy that night, for they all were still overwhelmed with emotion at finding Arthur alive.

to be continued…

The Day Camelot Fell – part 4, by Tony DeHaan


Merlin, the Wild Man of the Woods, had a dream one night. He dreamt of apple-trees and he saw one in blossom, but that could not be, for it was not the right season. Dark red those blossoms were and flecked with gold, and they were growing and growing and suddenly he was a little stamen in the heart of a giant red-and-gold blossom and he heard his name: “Merlin”. He looked around but he saw nobody and again an impatient whisper: “Merlin!” Then those golden flecks began to grow and they were golden dragons now, golden dragons on a field of red and the voice whispered again, urgent now: “Merlin!!!”. The blossom started dissolving and Merlin felt himself falling and falling, forever falling and now he is lying in a boat, in a bed, in an orchard and he is hearing “MERLIN!!!” all around him, shouting, whispering, pleading and then silence.
He woke up screaming and drenched in sweat, but still he could hear it, the whispering. He slept no more that night.
But the dreams kept haunting him, and on that night, after Gaius had told his story and he slept in the cave again once more, lying on soft and fragrant leaves and ferns, he heard the voice again: “Merlin…”. The voice reverberated in his skull, getting louder and louder; What am I going to do with you Merlin. You had to open your mouth didn’t you Merlin. Don’t be such a girl Merlin. Describe dollop-head // in two words? // yes // Prince Arthur. And the pounding in his head became almost unbearable and then he saw a face, very vague it was, and yet very familiar, and the face smiled. Merlin’s eyes flew open, he sat straight up in bed and there stood a man eating an apple. “You’re completely useless aren’t you Merlin, you must be the worst servant ever,” he said and took another bite, “How many times did I have to call you, but did you listen? No Merlin, you did not. As usual.”
“Arthur,” Merlin said, trying to get nearer to him, “Arthur, you’re back,” and a huge smile lit up his face.
“Almost. When you see the apple-tree in blossom, come and find me there.” With these words he started to fade. Merlin tried to say something, but Arthur had vanished completely.
And then Merlin remembered it all.

The next morning, at first sunlight, Merlin jumped from his pallet and exclaimed: “He’s coming back. Arthur’s coming back, Gaius.”
Gaius, still sleepy and only half awake, couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He sat there, stunned. “Merlin, you’re talking again,” he said, emotion creeping into his voice and a tear glistened on his cheek, but all he heard was Merlin’s voice, and not his words. He placed his hands on Merlin’s shoulders, beaming. “You’re talking again. What was it that you said?”
“I saw him. Arthur. He’s coming back.” And without another word or glance, Merlin hastened away, leaving a perplexed Gaius behind. You saw Arthur? Where? When? He shook his old head, Merlin must have been dreaming again, poor boy.


There, in a cave, on a bed made of pure gold, he motionless lay. Blond hair framed his waxen face and on his naked chest scars could be seen, scars from grievous wounds, wounds that had almost killed him. Nine women stood by the bed, the nine sisters they were.
“He is almost healed,” they chanted in unison, “he is almost there.” Their slender hands wove patterns in the air and their mouths mumbled spells of healing as they had done for many years now. They had seen the little boat as it floated towards the Isle of Avalon, a place of lakes and woods and lush meadows. They had seen Merlin standing by the shore. They had seen the tears on his face and the tears in his soul. Gently the nine sisters had taken the grievously wounded king from the boat and laid him on the golden bed, and without further ado they had started the healing, for the spirit of King Arthur had almost fled his body. And for many a day and many a night they chanted their spells, for they knew the prophesy of the king who one day must return.
“He is reaching out,” they said, “he is reaching out to his most loyal servant, his most loyal friend,” and never did their chanting waver. “He is getting stronger,” they said, “soon he will depart from here and rule Camelot once more,” and they sensed Arthur desperately reaching out to Merlin. They let their energy flow into Arthur so he may reach Merlin and tell him of his return. They closed their eyes and they saw Arthur and Merlin together. The nine sisters then spoke as one through Arthur and said: “When you see the apple-tree in blossom, come and find me there”, for they knew when the apple-tree would be blossoming and they knew Arthur would at that very moment be completely healed again. Then they felt their strength fleeting and they withdrew. On the golden bed Arthur peacefully lay and his pale lips were starting to colour slightly red.



“Have you heard?” the man said as he came storming into the dimly lit tavern, “Have you heard?” and he breathlessly leaned over a table, “There’re coming!” He ran to another table. “There’re coming! We’re doomed! We’re doomed!”
“What are you talking about, Eadweard, calm down will you, who’s coming? The tax collectors?” Laughter erupted.
“No, even worse, the Saxons… the Saxons are coming. I heard them talking…”
“Who, the Saxons?” More laughter, but it was a nervous and tense laughter, for they all had heard the rumours of the Saxons marching north, of villages razed to the ground, crops burned and villagers killed; and they saw knights and soldiers exercising more than usual, but they choose to push it aside in their minds.
Eadweard took a tankard of ale and downed it in one gulp, shaking visibly now, but whether from fear of anger, that they could not tell.
“Calm down and sit down,” the patron said as he gave Eadweard another tankard of ale.
“There came knights in king Ban’s the castle, knights of Camelot, the last knights they say, well, that’s what I’ve heard from the cook who heard it from the bottler who heard it from—”
“Come on, Eadweard, we get the picture!”
“Camelot has fallen…” There was no laughter now, only deathly silence descended as his words sunk in.
“No, that can’t be,” one of the men said, “Camelot can never fall, it just can’t.”
“If Camelot has fallen, all is lost,” another one said gloomily.
“Are you sure?”
Eadweard nodded. “Yes. The Saxons are heading north, or so they say, and the knights of Camelot are trying to gather a huge army to retake Camelot, and drive the Saxons away, or so I’ve heard from the cook.”

The man sitting quietly in a dark corner slowly put down his tankard, for by the word “Camelot” his sunken and lifeless eyes had suddenly got a tiny spark of life. He wiped his hands on his faded, sleeveless red gambeson. “Camelot in danger?” he muttered, shaking his head. He stood up and grabbed Eadweard by his tunic, lifting him effortlessly off the floor. “Tell me more,” he said hoarsely, his faces mere inches from Eadweard’s, “what’s that about Camelot you’ve just said.”
“Please, master Percival, please put me down.” And Percival lowered him onto the floor, and he felt ashamed for treating Eadweard thus.
“I know no more, master Percival,” he said, smoothing his wrinkled tunic, “this all the cook told me, the Saxons have seized Camelot, and there are horrible things afoot if the Saxons come here.”

“And Gwen, queen Guinevere, what have you heard about her? Tell me, please tell me!”
“I don’t know, master Percival, but I heard the cook say that she is still alive. Locked up, but alive, but please, master Percival, I don’t know for certain, please believe me.”
“I believe you,” Percival muttered, and for a moment he was standing there like a man unsure of what to do next. “I must go to the caste, I must join that army.” He threw a few coins on the table to pay for his ale. “I must help save Camelot,” and with these words he ran from the tavern, towards the castle. For almost five years he had lived there, in this little village far from Camelot, wallowing in his misery, trying to forget Camlann, trying to forget Gwaine’s death, Arthur´s death, and failing miserably, for not a day went by without him thinking of that fateful and atrocious day. He slowed his pace, panting, for all those years of inactivity had made him weak, and he tired easily; and with great effort he finally reached the gate. “Percival, knight of Camelot, offers his services to the king,” he barked, banging with all his might on the heavy door. “Please, let me speak to king Ban!”
“You a knight?” the gatekeeper chuckled, for he knew the man who stood before the gate, a man who did nothing but drink all night and sleep all day, and who was never seen holding a sword, let alone using one. “Everyone can put on a red gambeson and claim they’re a knight of Camelot.”
“Open this gate right now,” Percival hollered, getting more and more angry, “I challenge you, sir, just give me a sword and you’ll find out soon enough that I’m a true knight!”
“Right,” the gatekeeper said, getting bored now, and he opened the little door in the gate, saying: “you may come in now.” And if you are a Knight of Camelot, the gatekeeper thought, those knights who are now conferring with King Ban will know you, if not, they will surely mock you and taunt you and chase you away, and you will be running back to the tavern where you belong. “You will be wanting to go to the Great Hall, where King Ban will hold audience, so please present yourself to the steward.”
“I know how it works,” Percival said curtly, and with great strides he traversed the courtyard, headed for the Great Hall. He did not hear the gatekeeper’s scornful laughter.


The Day Camelot Fell – part 3, by Tony DeHaan


By sunrise he came out of the woods as he did every morning. Long unkempt dark hair he had, and a dirty beard framing a gaunt face, skin stretched taut over his cheekbones, sunken eyes darting to and fro. Thin as a rake he was, his once-red tunic torn and dirty, and there were holes in his boots. Every morning he came here, to the shores of the Lake of Avalon and every day you could see him walking by the lake, his eyes forever on that small island in the middle, and every night he disappeared again into the woods as he has done for a long time now. The Wild Man of the Woods they called him, and some say they had heard him mutter words in a strange language, the same words over and over again, but what it meant they knew not. Some made fun of him, driving their carts with great speed as they passed him by, laughing and booing, narrowly missing him, but he never missed a stride, he kept on walking, oblivious to the world around him. Even the Saxons left him in peace, that crazy Wild Man of the Woods.
Sometimes he went to a cave, hidden deep within the forest, far from prying Saxon eyes. An old man lived there, very old and very wise. We know each other, the man had said numerous times, we know each other very well, but remembering it he did not. When he came to visit he just sat there, never saying a word, slurping the thin and tasteless soup the man usually gave him. He was kind, this Gaius as the man called himself, very kind. After finishing the soup, he invariably sat on the only bed, knees drawn up to his chin, arms around his legs and the man told him stories. Tonight Gaius will tell him a story he must have heard many times before, a tale of who he is and why they came here, but remembering it he did not.
“It happened over five years ago now I think,” Gaius said and there was a deep sadness in his voice now, “five long and lonely years ago. You were the servant of Arthur, king of Camelot. Great friends the two of you were, loyal to each other, respecting each other, regardless of ancestry. A young man of noble birth and a young man of humble origins, brought together by destiny.
“But you were so much more. You were born with magic in a time when magic was forbidden. Still is I should think. And your magic was strong, far stronger than anyone could imagine, stronger than even you could imagine. Many times with that magic you saved Arthur’s life and he never knew it. It was your destiny.”
He sat there, listening and drinking nice cool water, but remembering it he did not.
“Then one day disaster struck. In a fierce battle Arthur was mortally wounded. You brought him at great peril to yourself to the Isle of Avalon so he could heal from his wounds, but you were too late and Arthur died in your arms. Such a tragic day that was, with so many of our friends dead or dying. So, after you had gently laid down Arthur’s body in a boat, it floated to the Isle of Avalon and then you came back to Camelot. Mad with grief you were, mad with inconsolable grief. You thought you had failed your destiny, that Arthur’s death was all your fault.”

He nodded and his sunken eyes seemed to drink in each and every word Gaius told him, but remembering it he did not.
“It was not long after that, that we were forced to flee. It was getting far too dangerous for us in Camelot. Magic was still outlawed, no matter how hard Gwen tried to make magic accepted, but there were too many knights who were against magic, having been told to detest magic too many times by Uther and later by Arthur. Perhaps they were afraid of it too, anyway, one day a witchfinder came to Camelot, one of Aredian’s pupils as I found out later, and this one was good, oh so very good…” Gaius shuddered at the thought, and he saw again all those innocent people being beheaded or burned at the stake. He closed his eyes for a moment, unable to continue his story; and all the time Merlin sat there, listening.
“So one night we managed to flee, that witchfinder knew who you were, and he wanted you dead. We finally came here, I knew this place of old. You were still so broken-hearted, day after day you would just sit here, crying, and night after night you woke up screaming, do you remember?”
He just shook his head as he sat there, listening. Gaius was playing with a crude little wooden dragon, hoping it would trigger some memories in Merlin, for it was the dragon Merlin’s father Balinor had once made for him, so many years ago now.
“Slowly I started to lose you, Merlin, you were getting more and more depressed, building wall after wall around you, completely shutting yourself off from this world. Then one day you started to lose your magic, very slowly at first, and hardly noticeable, but losing it you did, making you even more depressed, and the more you lost your magic, the less you talked and one day you simply stopped talking altogether. I no longer could get through to you, Merlin, and then one day you were gone, gone for a few days, and as that happened more and more I followed you one day and I saw you walking by the lake, never stopping, gazing over the water. And now you are gone every day and almost every night.”
I don’t remember my name being Merlin, he thought.
“And now you have been walking there for almost five years, hoping for Arthur to return. Merlin, I felt so sad for you, but nothing I said or did had any effect on you, your mind was closed to all but yourself and it still is I’m afraid. I tried to help you, but in vain. I even tried magic, but to no effect, your mind was closed even to that. But one day you will remember, one day you will realise that Arthur is gone forever, one day you will be Merlin again.”
Arthur will come back, Merlin thought, I know he will, I’ve seen it.
That he did remember.


She did not know what day it was, she did not even know if it was day or night, for the dungeon was deep underground, no sunlight could penetrate there, there was only the chill rising up from the ground, making Gwen’s bones colder with every passing day, despite the straw that had been put on the floor. From time to time her guard, Ned his name was, came with some food and water.
“There you are, little princess,” he would say, flinging down a bowl of water, and precious drops sloshed over the rim into the densely packed mud of the floor; followed by a bowl of watery soup with a few pieces of stringy meat floating in it, and a piece of stale black bread. Quickly she gulped it all down, trying not to think what sort of meat it was. There was shouting outside her cell, and she saw Ned punching another guard. “Don’t you dare hurt her, or even touch her,” he shouted, “Maleagant wants her in one piece and alive, unlike you, remember Alfric!” And Gwen did remember: Alfric had tried to hit her repeatedly with a sharp stick, just for fun, and Ned had made sure Alfric could never hurt her again, by killing him where he stood. Another blow and the guard got hurled against the grille of her cell, followed by a kick from Ned. Gwen recoiled, but she also knew she was safe. And every day she got the same food; enough to keep her alive, but not enough to satisfy her hunger.


The noise in the dungeons was deafening. Every cell was filled with prisoners, and more were coming in every day. People from all over the kingdom of Camelot, innocent people. They fought over crusts of bread thrown into the cells, tearing it from each other’s mouths even. Sometimes the guards took people away, they shouted, pleaded, fought, resisted, but to no avail. They were taken away, never to be seen again. She heard talk of villages looted and burned to the ground. She heard talk of Ealdor and cupped her hands over her ears, she did not want to hear the fate of her beloved Ealdor, her beloved friends.
So Gwen lay there, listening and thinking, hoping for a miracle that may never come, hoping for Arthur’s return, and her thoughts went back some years ago, to the time of Arthur’s demise. It has been so difficult, Gwen thought, so very difficult, those first few months after my beloved Arthur’s death. I never even got the chance to see him after Camlann, I never had the chance to say good-bye. The knights had been helpful, giving advice on how to rule the kingdom. They had, after all, sat with my husband on all matters of state, they knew so much… they have done so much… I tried to rule just and fair and I think I succeeded. The people of Camelot lived in peace, trading was good, our alliances with other kingdoms were strong. Life simply went on as before, for the citizens of Camelot I was their strong queen, keeping Arthur’s legacy alive, but for me it was all a play: I may have been a queen during the day, but I was a grieving widow at night, every night.
And then one day the Saxons came.

But Camelot was strong and they could not take our kingdom by force, so they planted spies and instigators in the outlying villages, and even within the castle itself. They sometimes poisoned our food and water, set fire to our houses, killing our men at night. We found them out eventually, but by then it was almost too late. Camelot by then was corrupted from within, its foundations were shaking. And it was during those times that Gaius and Merlin disappeared. It must be almost five years now. A witchfinder came, finding sorcerers everywhere and having them killed. Nobody had seen Gaius and Merlin, nobody knew where they went, if they were taken, or where they were taken. I don’t even know if they are still alive or not.
And Leon, strong and loyal Leon, went missing too, but whether he was dead of captured to be ransomed later nobody knew, for his body was never found, and no request for ransom ever came.
But Camelot remained strong, we survived somehow and we defeated the Saxons time and time again, but all the fighting had taken its toll and Camelot started to grow weaker and weaker, and eventually the Saxons won, and now some brute is sitting on the throne, my throne, Arthur’s throne, but Arthur is dead, so many people are dead and Merlin and Gaius must be dead too, and soon I will be dead and there will be no more Camelot and…
Tears came to her eyes again and Gwen cried herself to sleep, oblivious to all the noise around her.


And northwards the Knight rode, stopping only to rest the horses or to rest themselves. They ate whatever meagre rations they could find, for the land was a wasteland, and they filled their water-bottles at every stream they came across. This land was free of Saxons, there were no more villages or supplies left for them to plunder. And so they finally came to the kingdom of Dinas Emrys which was still unspoiled, the Saxons had not yet come this far north. They rode until they reached the castle known as the Castle of the Pond of Dragons and asked for an audience with King Ban, for he had always been loyal to Camelot. They were asked to wait, and they could see dozens of archers behind the crenellations, watching them, ready to fire a volley of arrows should the knights make one false move.
They did not have to wait long. The drawbridge was lowered and the Knights, tired and hungry, rode into the inner courtyard where they were met with numerous fully armoured knights, swords drawn. King Ban was not taking any chances, for the Saxons could easily come to his castle too. Kay, Lamorak, Gareth, Gaharis and Ywain raised their hands, showing they came in peace. For a moment nobody moved, then a knight of king Ban nodded curtly, sheathed his sword and said: “Welcome Sirs,” and to his squire: “Take their horses and look after them well. See that they are fed and watered and be sure to groom those horses with great care and attention. Sir Knights, please follow me. King Ban is very anxious to speak with you, but perhaps you would like to freshen up first?”
“Thank you good sir,” Sir Kay said, “a little water perhaps, but it is better if we speak with King Ban first.”
And so with great haste they were shown into King Ban’s chambers. “My good Sirs, I have heard of the terrible Saxon attacks in the south. I gather there is something very wrong or you would not be here,” Ban said without preamble.
“Indeed Sire,” Kay said, “I am afraid Camelot has fallen into the hands of the Saxons. Guinevere our Queen is held prisoner in Camelot. We saw no other way than to leave Camelot and seek help.” With these words Lamorak looked at Gareth, but the latter did not show any emotion. Lamorak relaxed just a little bit. “The Saxons are making a stronghold in the south first it seems,” continued Kay, “before heading north and they will head north, of that I am sure, parts of the land has already been plundered. It is therefore that we stand here before you today, Sire, pleading that you, and all those who are loyal to you and to Camelot, will raise an army to retake Camelot and restore peace in our lands once more. This, Sire, we humbly ask of you. Together we can drive that Saxon vermin from our kingdoms. For if we do nothing, more and more kingdoms will fall, and those Saxons will rule over our beloved Albion.”
Ban sat quiet for a while, lost in thought. Finally he said: “My head knows you are right but my heart is worried. Many lives will be lost, including many of my own men.”
“Too many lives have already been lost Sire, lives of innocent children, innocent women. We all must unite now to save all those who are still alive, including your own citizens.”
“Yes…” Silence again. “Very well. I will sent envoys to the neighbouring kingdoms and urge them to come to your aid, to our aid. We hold Camelot in high esteem, for you have helped us in the past, and Arthur has always been a honest king, just as Guinevere is a worthy queen. Besides, as you said, one day they will be heading north, and that day will soon be upon us. Now, allow me to have you escorted to your chambers for a hot bath and hot food. We will talk further of this on the morrow. I must make preparations now”
The knights bowed deep.
“Thank you King Ban,” Kay said, “You truly are a wise and just king.”

to be continued…

The Day Camelot Fell – part two, by Tony DeHaan


With great speed they urged on their horses, kicking op thick clouds of dust. It had not been an easy decision, leaving Camelot, leaving their queen in the lurch, locked in a dungeon, but there was no other option. The last remaining Knights of Camelot had fled, hoping to raise an army and retake Camelot one day soon. With pain in their hearts they had to abandon her, hoping she would still be alive when they would eventually return. “No use getting ourselves killed,” they had said, “better to flee now and regroup,” and so they rode on knowing full well they had broken their chivalric code, broken their oath to Arthur and Camelot and to the Round Table. They felt their hearts grieving and their eyes crying, and they all recalled the moment when they had so stealthily fled.


Earlier that day
“Have you all gone mad?” Gareth shouted, “Running away just like that, leaving our Queen behind?” His whole body quivered with rage, his hand gripped the hilt of his sword, ready to strike any moment as he looked with contempt at the four other Knights assembled at the postern gate, deep within the walls of Camelot and as yet undiscovered by the Saxons.
“Will you keep your voice down,” Gaharis whispered angrily, “Saxons have ears, you know!”
“The let them come, I say, let them come!”
“So what do you suggest, Gareth, stay here and get killed too?”
“Gaharis is right,” said Lamorak, “we can’t stay here, there are far too many Saxons for us to handle. We must leave Camelot and find reinforcements, raise an army. Only then may we be able to drive the Saxons away and retake Camelot and—“
“NO, it is wrong!” Gareth interrupted, “This goes against anything we have been taught, everything we Knights stand for, or had you conveniently forgotten that, SIR Lamorak?”
“I will never forget that, and one more remark like that…” whispered Lamorak through clenched teeth as he unsheathed his sword just a little bit. The air was heavy with tension as Gareth and Lamorak were all but ready to fight each other.
“We swore an oath, remember? An oath, a Knight’s Oath, to protect Camelot, the King, the Queen.”
“We all understand that, Gareth,” said Kay, trying to ease the tension, “and it pains us that we can’t uphold our code at this moment, but you must understand too that the best way to protect our queen is to go and find as many allies as possible. We can’t fight those Saxons alone, Gareth.”
“There are hundreds of them and only a handful of us. Use your head, Gareth, have you seen the courtyard lately? There are dead knights everywhere, Gareth, dead! And all of them died because they tried protecting our queen, defending our Camelot. And they were all killed, every last one of them. As much as it pains me to say this, but we can’t win this by ourselves, we have no choice but to go and find help.” Lamorak took Gareth by his shoulders and looked him in the eyes, pleading with his common sense.
“And if they really wanted to kill our queen, they would have done so already,” said Ywain. He had kept silent until now, being the youngest and the least experienced of them. “They will keep her alive for ransoming, I’m sure of it.”
“We have sworn to protect our queen,” Gareth said stubbornly, as if he was reciting a personal litany, “what you’re proposing is nothing short of treason. What would king Arthur say if he heard you talking like this? Do you think he would run away like an old maid?”
A sudden flash and the tip of Lamorak’s sword pressed into Gareht’s throat.
“Don’t, Lamorak, hasn’t there been enough killing?” said Kay as he took a step forwards.
“Do not speak to me of Arthur like that.” Lamorak’s words sounded grim and harsh, his eyes cold as steel. Slowly he lowered his sword and sheathed it again, keeping his eyes on Gareth all the time. Gareth touched his throat and felt droplets of blood on his fingers, felt them trickling down.
“So,” Kay said, “it’s either the five of us go, or it’s four. Your choice, Gareth, you can stay here and be heroically killed, or you can join us and—” Kay raised his hand and whispered: “Keep still, someone is coming.”
They all heard the sound of footfalls now, getting louder with every step. A shadow could be seen on the wall, and seconds later a limping figure came into view. Five razor-sharp swords were pointing at his chest.
“Roland,” Kay said, heaving a sigh of immense relief, “you’re still alive!” And the knights sheathed their swords. “What happened to you?”
“Those Saxon animals, Sir,” Roland, squire to Sir Kay, said with some difficulty, “they were having some fun with us squires, but that is not important now. All is ready, as we agreed.” And Roland tried to steady himself against the wall. One of his eyes was black and swollen shut, and blood still seeped from the strips of cloth bound on his wounded arms and legs. “There are horses waiting for you in the woods, I don’t think those Saxon animals noticed anything, it took us all night to get them there…” He faltered, closed his eyes and took a deep breath and groaned, as he was in great pain. “Broken ribs, I think, Sir Kay, nothing to worry about. But Aiden was not so lucky. Those animals caught him in the courtyard and they… and they… they broke his arms and kicked him about. I don’t think he’s alive anymore,” Roland stifled a sob, “and I couldn’t get to him, I’m really sorry, Sir Gaharis,” for Aiden was, or better had been, Sir Gaharis’ squire.
“You did well, Roland,” Gaharis said quietly, his voice unnaturally calm, vowing to avenge his squire.
“Any word on our queen?” Lamorak asked.
Roland nodded. “Still in the dungeons, Sir Lamorak, I’ve heard our queen is not hurt very much.”
“As we agreed?” came the strangled voice of Gareth, “as we agreed?”
“Good,” Lamorak said without bothering to answer Gareth, and he grabbed Roland’s shoulders, “I, we, have a task for you, Roland, an important one, and a dangerous one. Try to keep an eye on our queen, try to get some food to her, even if it means siding with those heinous Saxons, Offer your services to them if need be, but remember: you’re only doing this to save our queen, save Camelot.”
Gareth stood there seething, barely able to contain himself, hands opening and closing, as if he was trying to strangle someone.
“Now go, Roland, and be brave!” And Roland limped away as fast as he could. “And as for you, my dear Gareth,” Lamorak continued as he turned towards the enraged knight, “we did talk about this earlier this week, but you chose to furiously leave the room. Now let me make this simple for you: either you’re with us or against us. There are horses waiting, and those Saxon animals are still dead drunk from last night, going away undetected shouldn’t prove too difficult. You can come with us now or stay behind, at this moment I really don’t care.” With these words he turned his back on Gareth, opened the postern gate and ran as fast as he could to the edge of the forest. No Saxon arrow pierced his body, no warning bell sounded. He looked around and saw Gareth running behind the other three knights. “Good, a wise choice.”
Gareth kept silent. Suddenly they heard bells tolling. “I guess someone saw us after all,” Ywain said as they disappeared into the darkness of the forest.


And so, with ever increasing rapidity, they urged on their horses, those last Knights of Camelot: Kay, the brothers Gaheris and Gareth, Ywain and Lamorak, hoping to find a kingdom still bound by friendship to Camelot and not overrun by the Saxons, and on their flight they passed many a village razed to the ground; and the stench of burned flesh and rotting corpses lingered in their noses by day, the images of maimed women and children haunted them at night.

To be continued…

The Day Camelot Fell – part 1, by Tony DeHaan


The action takes place about five years after the last episode of Merlin

“My queen, we can’t hold the northern gate much longer,” Sir Gingalain, Knight of Camelot stammered as he came staggering into the Great Hall, his haggard face contorted with pain. His breath came in ragged gulps, his cape was torn and caked with blood, his mail shirt had large holes in it, and he was bleeding from wounds to numerous to count. He managed to take a few more unsteady steps before his sword fell from his hand and it clattered loudly on the flagstones. Then he fell and died without another sound in front of a horrified Guinevere. More knights, also heavily wounded, came staggering into the Great Hall, all bearing the same message: Camelot was about to fall, the Saxons were too numerous, too strong. Slowly the floor turned crimson, the air became heavy with an oppressive sweet and metallic stench. Guinevere slumped on her throne and her trembling hands covered her eyes. “Arthur, Arthur, why did you have to die,” she lamented, rocking to and fro, hot tears now streaming down her face, “Why, why, why…”. She had never felt so alone in her life, never felt so afraid. “And I never got the chance to say farewell.” Arthur dead, Gwaine dead, Gaius and Merlin gone missing, and Percival, loyal and strong Percival gone too. He had never been able to come to terms with Gwaine’s death, and soon after that fateful day at Camlann five years ago he had silently gone away, a broken man consumed by inconsolable grief. “I need you Arthur, I need you so much,” Guinevere whispered.

Fierce fighting could now be heard in the hallways, the clanging of arms mixing with the shouts of the attackers and the dying groans of even more Knights of Camelot. Suddenly the doors were violently thrown open and a man came striding forth, clad in dirty leathers and furs and various bits of dented armour, the tip of his bloodied sword scraping the floor. Two more men came in, one nudging Sir Gingalain none too gently with the tip of his scruffy boot, rolling him over, another knight was dragged aside, creating a clear path towards the throne. The clamour of fighting had now stopped, and an eerie silence had descended over the Great Hall making the heavy footsteps of the man even more ominous.
“My queen,” he said mockingly as he reached the throne, and he made a florid and utterly contemptuous bow. Guinevere could smell his putrid breath, saw his yellow and brown teeth, some of them missing and all of them broken. Slowly and with great effort she rose, trying to look as regal as possible in the face of impending doom. Before Gwen could say anything, the man said: “I think you are sitting on my throne,” and he beckoned two of his warriors. “Take her away and throw her in some dungeon. And clean up this mess,” he shouted to no one in particular, waving to the fallen knights.
All her willpower, all her strength had fled now, and Gwen almost collapsed on the floor, but she managed to hold on to the throne, keeping her from falling. None too gently the warriors seized her by the arms and dragged her away, through the corridors and into the courtyard. For a brief moment she opened her eyes, but quickly closed them again, the image of the ghastly blend of red capes and red blood of hundreds of fallen Knights of Camelot was too much for her to bear. Finally they threw her in a dungeon and with a loud reverberating clang the grille closed, leaving Guinevere lying on the cold stone floor, all alone.
In the Great Hall King Maleagant of the Saxons plumped down on Arthur’s throne and laughed.
Camelot had fallen.

To be continued…

A Personal Journey – Five seasons of Merlin, part two by Tony de Haan

Hello Merlin Fans,
You know, questing is a rather time-consuming event, but I feel I really must make some time to share with you my thoughts on Episode 5: Lancelot.
Sometimes, and only sometimes, hardly ever I might add, there is something wrong, and that first scene of Lancelot is wrong! Nothing more, nothing less. Please, don’t be angry now and turn away in disgust from this post, refusing to read any further, but please bear with me!
First we see Merlin running, trying to get away from the griffin. He is quite scared even. But… Merlin is a sorcerer. Surely he can come up with some spell to drive that creature away? Try something simple like oþfléogan, or Ic bebod þæt þu nu flíehest or words to that effect.

Lancelot fights the griffin

Lancelot fights the griffin

The second thing is Lancelot battling with the griffin. That is not well executed, on the contrary even. Lack of money? Lack of time? Lack of both? Don’t get me wrong, the griffin itself looks awesome, no complaints there, but just look at the scene. Lancelot slashes and parries and hits the beast (or so we are supposed to think), but the CGI and the live action simply do not match. A blemish on an otherwise wonderful episode!
Poor Arthur, he was definitely not pleased as Lancelot bested him! He, the unbeatable Arthur, beaten by someone who isn’t even a highly trained knight! Now he knows how Merlin must have felt in the first episode! Still, Uther did dub him a Knight of Camelot!

Arise Sir Lancelot, Knight of Camelot...

Arise Sir Lancelot, Knight of Camelot…

All in all a great episode, and such a shame Lancelot was banished from Camelot on a mere technicality: he was not of noble birth (and there was something concerning a forged seal of nobility…).

"My seal of nobility, sire..."

“My seal of nobility, sire…”