Tsu ~ The Social Network That Pays You

Original Article by Andy Whiteley  Co-Founder of Wake Up World with additions by Francesca Azuremare

Every time you create a post on Facebook, send out a Tweet or share a photo on Instagram, that content provides a financial value to those companies.   Currently, around 2 billion people create content on social media platforms and so, in the spirit of give and take, isn’t it about time that someone created a social media model that allowed everyone to prosper?

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Founder of tsū Sebastian Sobcza has done just that. And over the past few weeks, Wake Up World has been testing out this new social network, which rewards users for their input.

What is tsū?

tsū (pronounced ‘sue’) is a free invitation-only social platform that gives 90% of its ad revenue back to its users — the people who spend the time and effort creating the content that keeps people coming back to social network sites in the first place.

Sebastian, founder of tsū, explains:   “Established social networks have built amazing business models prospering on the total monetization of free user-generated content… Why should anyone commercially benefit from someone else’s image, likeness and work giving no financial return to the owner? The markets we participate in are enormous, growing, and can materially compensate each user — we’re simply and uniquely rewarding the users who are doing all the work. This is the way the world should work.”

Sounds like a fair exchange to me.   Especially when you consider that Facebook, for example, hosts approximately 1.3 billion users each month [1], earning the company US$7.87 billion in revenue last year & $1.5 billion profit , with the total value of its financial assets (then) approaching the US$18 billion mark. [2] Even the small-by-comparison Twitter hosts 271 million users [3] with a total revenue in 2013 of US$664 million [4] while Instagram, currently the fastest growing social platform [5] (and a subsidiary of Facebook Inc.) is valued at approximately US$500 million. [6]

There is certainly no shortage of revenue where social media is concerned.

How does tsū work?

Social media platforms generate their revenue from third party ads, sponsorships and corporate partnerships. The more activity, or traffic, they draw to their site, the more valuable those sponsorship deals become.

Differentiating itself from other social platforms, tsū acknowledges the value of its users, and rewards them by sharing the revenues generated by their social activity.

Once economic value is created, tsū receives 10% for maintaining the platform (a standard commission rate). Half of the remaining revenue (45%) is paid to the user who created the content, and the remainder (45%) is shared through the user’s network (or ‘family tree’) who helped distribute that content. In tsū economics, the content is valued, not just the platform that carries it.shared_economics_ad_revenue-24e53f6044b271878915e4cab8dfe4f3

Is tsū popular?

Since launching to the public in October 2014, tsū has generated some serious traffic! Over the past weeks we have received numerous invitations to join their network, which is what first prompted us to check it out. Judging by the alexa.com ranking graph below, it seems people are really warming to this new social media model.

TSU-Alexa-Ranking

Since we joined the tsū network, we have posted a few articles and shared some pictures, just to test the waters. Initially, people seems quite active and willing to connect. Without asking anyone to visit my page we have organically found over 190 followers and friends already!

Best of all, tsū have a ‘no-censorship’ policy — unlike other (inconsistently censored) social media platforms.

How do I join?

New members can only join tsū by user invitation. Their invite-only system enables tsū to track network value and distribute revenue to the users who help them grow.

Click here to receive an invitation from me to you

 

What can I do with money earnt on tsū?

Users can receive a cheque for the revenue they earn, once their balance reaches US$100. Users also have the ability to transfer funds in their tsū account to other friends, charities or members in the network. This alone could mean millions of dollars are directed to worthwhile causes and community activities, rather than ending up on a corporate profit statement.

Tsu sample money
If you’re interested in checking out this new social platform, read on for more…

Content is the key!

In social media, content is the key. It’s simple – the more engaging you are, the more social activity you generate. In the tsū model, your content contribution is rewarded via your tsū bank balance.

So today, I’m inviting readers to join the invitation-only tsū network and share my content  far and wide! A win/win/win situation.

Get started on tsū

To get started, join the tsū network here   . You can then invite your family and friends to join too. (You don’t have to invite anyone, but social media is always more fun with your friends!)

See you on tsū!

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Still skeptical?

There are some concerns being discussed within social media circles of the tsū model, which some are likening to a ‘pyramid’ scheme. After taking in the various perspectives of this discussion, I would like to share a few thoughts…

The platform launched 8 weeks ago and so far we haven’t seen any ‘red flags’ – it’s free to join (always a good start), you’re not asked to provide bank details to receive payments, the platform itself is user friendly, and unlike pyramid schemes, you don’t invest anything into it but your time and social content — which 2 billion of us are already doing every day.
The invitation-only sign up process makes sense when you consider the revenue sharing component. Having control of who you invite into your immediate network (family tree) allows you to determine who shares in the 45% of ad revenues that your social activity generates. For many, networks will be made up of family and friends.

Initially, it seems less like a ‘scheme’ and more like a bonus system to attract and engage users on a new social platform in an already saturated market. But of course, we will be keeping an open mind on the platform model, and its benefits limitations and incentives, until we’ve had a chance to properly experience it and see what happens over time.
Right this moment, I believe this new platform presents an opportunity. And as stake-holders, tsū users will ultimately determine how valuable that system is — by how they choose to use it.
Personally I like the function that allows you to forward any $$’s you earn to other tsū users, like community groups and charities. In essence, tsū offers users an allowance and the ability to invest it within their social community, and although the amount each user earns may be small individually, cumulatively, the potential is enormous. What we do with that potential is up to us.
So rather than rely on reviews, we’re going to explore the possibilities and decide from experience.

If you’d like to check it out for yourself, here’s your invitation:

https://www.tsu.co/fourwinds

Note from Francesca:   I joined Tsu after reading the above article in Wake Up World.   I’ve been on Tsu almost a week, have 250 friends and I’m loving it.   For me, it’s the next step in evolution for social media.   It’s funny because literally a few days before seeing this, I was feeling so fed up with Facebook… and actually said out loud “wish someone would do something alternative that shares with people”   and here it is!     I feel the energy flows much more on Tsu… there’s a lot of ‘light” and beauty and it’s not surprising… considering the business model.  

 

What has this to do with Merlin?  If anything?  

Good question.   And here’s the answer.   We’ve created a “More Merlin” page on Tsu.   So assuming you decide to join Tsu simply because it makes sense … by sharing the More Merlin posts, you will be contributing to getting a Merlin Movie made.     Because we will be taking 50% of revenue made on the More Merlin page on Tsu and putting it aside as seed money for a Movie.   There’s a lot of Merlin fans out there so it shouldn’t be too long before we can start some serious conversation with respect to producing a Merlin Movie.

Are you in?   To re-write that dreadful ending?  To see Merlin using magic freely in Camelot? To see the golden age of Albion?     Let’s Keep the MAGIC Alive!

Click here to join Tsu

 

Merlin, the adventures continue…: chapter 10 by Tony de Haan

title

Previously on “Merlin, the adventures continue…”:
The goddess Macha has taken over Morgana’s body in order to destroy both Arthur and Merlin, and to take over Camelot. Arthur already nearly escaped death, and Merlin is under the influence of a sleeping spell, which is slowly killing him.
Galahad finds the cure, but by using it he might have killed Merlin.
In the meantime Macha’s influence made several kings want to go to war with Camelot.

Chapter 10
Brimful of sorrow and dismay…

Nobody saw the black-clad man on that dark and moonless night as he slipped without a noise through the postern gate of the castle of king Peredur. A horse was already waiting for him, its hooves were swathed with cloth, in order to ride as stealthily as possible, so they would not alarm the guards. At a safe distance from the castle he removed the cloth from the horses’ hoofs and rode with great haste to Camelot, this spy of king Arthur, and to tell the king of the many hundreds of knights and soldiers king Peredur had assembled, for he wanted nothing more than to take over the throne of Camelot. Even the farmers and day-labourers, no matter how old or how young, armed with their own pitchforks and flails, were forced to supplement king Peredur’s army; and the millers and bakers were ordered to give all their flour and bread to the king’s kitchens, and the blacksmiths were not allowed to forge anything but swords and battle-axes. “King Peredur has surely gone mad,” the citizens thought, “he cares nothing for us anymore, soon we will all die of starvation,” but they were afraid to voice their qualms, lest king Peredur would hear of it and throw them in the dungeons or perhaps even hang them.
And then, one fateful morning, not long after the spy had fled king Peredur’s castle, the whole army began their slow march towards Camelot.

Around the same time an unruly mob of soldiers, labourors and rabble of all sorts left king Maleagant’s castle, armed with a great variety of weapons and sharpened farming tools. Some said Maleagant was possessed by an evil spirit, others blamed his untrustworthy counselors, for all Maleagant could talk about was conquering Camelot, his rightful place, as he claimed to all who would hear it. No one knew where this delusion so suddenly came from, and most of them really didn’t care, eager as they were for war and the prospect of rich spoils, for Camelot must surely be very rich indeed, they thought.
And so this disorganized and undisciplined kludge plodded along, yelling and cheering, to Camelot and to victory.

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He didn’t know for how long he had sat there, cradling Merlin’s head, and feeling his pulse over and over again, but every time there was nothing, not one single heartbeat, however feeble. He was almost beside himself, the thought of him having killed Merlin was too much to bear. “I didn’t want this,” he sobbed, “I thought I was doing the right thing, all I wanted to do was to help you.” He didn’t know what to do anymore, how could he face Arthur, how could he tell he murdered his servant, his friend. He thought about running away, running and running until he could run no more; and forever living in fear, fear of being found and killed or worse, forever living with the knowledge of being a murderer and a coward. How could he face Leon and Gwaine, Percival or Mordred, they would be furious, devastated and they would probably banishing him from Camelot forever, or simply kill him where he stood. And all that time Merlin lay there, the stone clutched firmly in his cold, white hand. Galahad felt so alone now, so utterly alone and utterly desperate. A tear fell on the stone and to his amazement Galahad saw the stone turning white now, it became almost translucent. A part of his wanted desperately to pry that murderous stone from Merlin’s fingers, but he dared not, afraid he might die also.
Slowly the realization came that there was no escaping his fate. He must go to Arthur and tell him everything, he must bear the consequences of his actions. “Father, please forgive me, I have failed you,” he whispered, “I have tried to become a knight of Camelot, I have tried to live up to your expectations, and all I’ve done is kill an innocent man.” Galahad did not see the spirit standing in a corner behind him, a smile on his lips. “I’m so sorry, Merlin,” Galahad’s voice a barely audible whisper now, “I truly wanted to help, but the others were right, I’m a good-for-nothing, I’m useless.” He tried to stand up, but his legs felt so heavy. He slumped down again, unable to stay awake, and the spirit faded away, still smiling.
Merlin3x0800012There is a storm raging in my head, I can see nothing but a swirling red mist. It is so cold that it hurts. Another storm is coming, a white one, and it is colliding with the red. There are horses now, all made of mist, red and white horses, and they are galloping towards each other and clashing and dissolving. The noise is deafening, splitting my skull, suffocating me. There are all kinds of shapes now, horses, wild boars, dragons destroying towers, and all of them red and white, all doing battle and they are all shouting at me to help them, to defeat the others. I don’t know what to do anymore, I must fight it, and now I feel magic surging through my every fibre, red and white magic, powerful magic, talking to me, pleading, pulling me in every direction. I don’t want to fight, I just want to be left alone! Fireballs are exploding, spells are shouting, words are coming alive. I see Arthur, laughing, and Galahad, smirking. Galahad is all red now, I grab him and he is starting to turn white. Every second I hold him feels like burning a hole in my soul, but still I hold on. Then he lays there, sobbing, drained of all colour. There’s a stone in Galahad’s hand, a blood-red stone. Do what you must do to survive, I hear someone shouting and I pick up the stone and then I see a white blur, it’s grabbing me in its hands and I feel another battle in my head, I see evil magic now and good magic battling it out while that white thing is holding me, shouting. Fight it, it says, fight it or die and so I fight but what is it I’m fighting? I see that blood-red stone flying towards me and it shatters right in front of me, showering me with razor-sharp white shards and suddenly I find myself in a white room, at least I think it is a room, but it’s more like there’s clouds all around me, thick white clouds. Then I see him standing there, the Spirit I once met in that forgotten room in the archives, the one who gave me that scroll, the one who looks just like me. He is smiling broadly now, this spirit. The noise is gone, the silence is deafening.
“Welcome, my dear Emrys, welcome. So we do meet again! How time flies! And there has been a most wondrous event! Young Galahad actually sacrificed something in order to save you. He has played his part well. By giving his blood, and his compassion, to the stone, you were finally able to conquer that evil magic within you, and releasing all your true power at the same time. That sleeping-spell could only be eliminated with the unselfishness of another soul, and Galahad’s destiny was to be that soul.” His eyes now had a dreamy far-away look. “Destinies, young warlock, destinies are curious things and not all is clear. Arthur’s destiny is to become the greatest ruler Albion has ever known, and that destiny will be fulfilled as it is your destiny to protect Arthur even if it means your death and oh, don’t look so alarmed, you are not dead yet. I think. It is also written Arthur will die by a druid’s hand, and that hand could very well be Mordred’s, but it could be yours also, Emrys. Did Kilgharrah not tell you to kill Mordred, for he will be Arthur’s downfall? But you chose not to, didn’t you Emrys, and in doing so, are you therefore not Arthur’s murderer should Mordred be the one to kill him one day? But on the other hand, it could be someone we don’t even know, someone who isn’t even born yet. But enough of this gloomy talk, and let us turn our attention to more joyous matters, for, my dear Emrys, you have finally unlocked all that ancient magic within you and you are going to need it, for terrible events are about to happen. Be ready, young warlock, be ready… Sorry, gloomy talk again. Do you remember, of course you do, how could you forget, the first time we met, you said I looked like you, but it is a bit more than that, for I truly am you, I am the magic you unlocked…” and with these words the spirit started to fade, and wispy tendrils of a white, iridescent fog reached out to Merlin, touching him, absorbing into his very body. Suddenly Merlin felt a sharp and piercing pain in his head. He no longer could see anything, everything was white, one blinding flash of white light and then it was over.
Gwaine-1“Galahad, where are you? Oh, there you are. We lost you there for a moment there. Why are you sitting alone in that room? Feeling too proud, too high-and-mighty to be seen sleeping with us?”
Galahad looked up and saw Gwaine’s face hovering above him. He opened his mouth to explain, but no sound escaped his lips. Quickly his eyes scanned the room, looking for Merlin, but he was not there anymore. And the door, it was suddenly open now. He must have been dreaming for sure. How did I get here?
“Look, you guys, our Galahad’s just crashed here, preferring to sleep alone on the cold floor instead of sharing a room with us. You really disgust me, Galahad,” and with these words Gwaine walked away, leaving a bewildered Galahad behind.
“Nice dreams,” Percival said, without bothering to stop or even to look at him.
“He was here, Merlin, he was here,” Galahad stammered, trying to stand up and he felt a sudden sharp pain in his little finger. With incredulity he looked at it, finding half his finger gone.
“No, Galahad, Merlin is already fast asleep, he was never here, he never left the Great Hall. We left him there just seconds ago, sleeping,” Leon answered sharply, “And don’t touch the mead again, you’re obviously hallucinating.”Sir-Leon-9-Wallpaper-merlin-characters-31177915-1709-953“But….” Galahad tried to explain, but Leon too was gone. “What’s happening to me, I wasn’t hallucinating, I saw him, I saw Merlin, I killed him…” he said, and suddenly he remembered his maimed finger. Half of it was indeed gone, the wound already scabbing over. I did slice my finger to draw blood, he thought, but it was only a minor scratch. “Merlin,” he almost shouted, remembering Leon’s words, and he ran to the Great Hall, his finger forgotten. There, sprawled in a chair, was Merlin. With a trembling hand Galahad felt Merlin’s pulse and a great relief washed over him, there was a steady heartbeat. “You’re not dead,” he whispered.
“And why would he be dead?” Arthur said as he emerged from the shadows.
“Sire, I… I…” Galahad stammered, trembling.
With one quick motion unsheathed Arthur his sword and its sharp point touched Galahad’s throat. “Why would Merlin be dead?” Arthur asked again, his voice soft, yet ice-cold.
“Please Sire, please let me explain,” he faltered, “I only wanted to save him, it wasn’t my fault, I had a dream, I thought,… please Sire, don’t kill me.”
“Sit,” Arthur commanded, leaving his sword on Galahad’s throat. Galahad walked slowly to the chair and sat down. Only then did Arthur lower his sword. “Talk.”
And, with a lot of sobbing, faltering and stammering, did Galahad tell his story. Arthur remained silent. “Go and join the others in the sleeping quarters. We will talk about this in the morning,” he said after a while.

When Galahad had gone, Arthur closed the door and walked over to Merlin. His breathing was regular, and Arthur thought Merlin’s face looked calmer, more at ease. “Merlin,” he whispered, “Merlin, are you awake?”
“You just can’t let me sleep in peace, can you,” came the sleepy voice of Merlin.
“No, I just don’t want you sleeping in a chair, so you can complain the whole day tomorrow how sore your poor muscles are and can’t do any work, provided you actually have muscles.”
Merlin kept silent, a look of bewilderment on his face.
“What, are you actually, for the first time in years, at a loss for words?”
Merlin looked at Arthur and said: “I feel fine, Arthur, I actually feel fine. I actually feel awake for the first time in weeks.”
At hearing these words Arthur wanted to shout for joy, but instead he said: “That’s nice to hear, Merlin, that means you can actually start polishing my armour properly now?”
“Yes, YES,” Merlin was absolutely beaming now. “It worked! That stone did heal me, I’m sure of it!” He did not tell Arthur about his dream, about the ancient magic he now so strongly felt, about the spirit.
“So Galahad was successful,” Arthur asked thoughtfully, “he really was the key to your recovery?”
Merlin nodded, smiling broadly.
“I’d better talk to him then,” and Arthur almost ran to the sleeping quarters and shouted: “Galahad, I want to talk to you. Now!” and he turned on his heels, followed by a terrified Galahad.
“Justice at last,” mumbled a half-asleep Percival, before falling asleep again.

Galahad stood there with his head bowed, eyes firmly locked on the toes of his boots. His heart was beating like mad in his dry throat, the palms of his hands were slick with sweat.
“Merlin told me he feels fine now, like he’s cured. You were supposed to be the key to his recovery, and it looks like you’ve succeeded. I just wanted you to know this. Tomorrow morning I will ask Gaius’ opinion. If Merlin is indeed free of the sleeping-spell, I will honour my promise regarding a knighthood. If, however, Merlin is still under some enchantment, you will be banished from Camelot forever, quest or no quest.”
“Yes, Sire,” Galahad whispered, barely audible.
Without another word Arthur left the hall.

“Merlin has made a truly remarkable recovery, Sire,” said Gaius the next morning. He and Merlin already had a long talk beforehand, and Merlin had finally been able to tell the whole story to an overjoyed Gaius. “The sleeping enchantment is no longer there.”
Arthur and the knights cheered like mad at this most wonderful news.
“Galahad, come here,” Arthur commanded as he drew his sword. Galahad did so and fell on one knee before Arthur, head bowed. Arthur touched his sword on both his shoulders and solemnly said: “Arise, Sir Galahad, Knight of Camelot!”
“Thank you, Sire,” he said softly. Then he turned to the knights, who were standing there, saying nothing, nor smiling or cheering, and said: “I know I’ve been an insufferable person, and I can’t ask of you to be glad of this great honour bestowed upon me, but I know I can change, must change. Please, give me that chance, give me the chance to become a valued Knight of Camelot, a worthy son of the great Lancelot.”
Still the knights kept silent, then Gwaine said: “Very well, I am willing to give you a chance, but only because you were instrumental in healing Merlin.”
“Same here,” Percival said. Mordred and Leon merely nodded.
“That’s settled then,” Arthur said, “either you become accepted by the knights or not, and if not, there is no place for you in Camelot.”
“And remember,” Gwaine added, “earning our respect and your place among us will not be easy. For me, you’re not Lancelot’s son, far from it, you’re nothing but a stranger, and a yokel and lout to boot.” The rest nodded, thinking exactly the same.
“Thank you,” answered a now humble Galahad, determined more than ever to become a knight and do his father Lancelot proud.

Queen-Guinevere-merlin-on-bbc-28658666-2560-1707
“This is very serious indeed,” said Gwen after the spy had told his story. He stood there in the Council Chambers, panting heavily and still dirty from the long ride. Gladly he took the beaker of cool water from Cerdic’s hands and drank it all in one go.
For a short while Gwen was silent, thinking over the implications of what she just heard. Camelot was in grave danger, and something must be done quickly. “How many men can we assemble?” she asked her trusted advisors.
“A few hundred knights at the most,” said Sir Algovale.
“And of course all the men in the kingdom who are fit to fight,” said Sir Kay, “I’m sure they are willing to defend their land and families.”
“Yes,” chimed in Sir Bors the Younger, “and how about our allies of the neighbouring kingdoms? I think they will gladly give aid, for if Camelot falls, they are sure to follow.”
The door opened and Osgar, Master of the Maps, came in. He spread a giant map made of several sheets of vellum on the table. “My Queen, Sirs, the map you requested,” and he withdrew.
“First get Doran in here. I want him to go to Tintagel as quickly as possible and get Arthur here.”
“My Queen, If I may make a suggestion,” answered Sir Kay, his gaze still firmly fixed on the map, “I don’t think that will be necessary. I think it might be better to get Arthur to meet us here,” indicting a spot on the map.
“Yes,” said Sir Bors the Younger, “good idea. Maleagant and Peredur, these two are the only ones rebelling against Camelot? As I said, they will want to go through here, and so march together to Camelot.”
“Yes, as far as we know, there are no more kings plotting against us, but that may very well change of course.”
“So, if we can get our army here,” and Sir Algovale pointed at a piece of land, surrounded by a river and marshes, “we stand a good chance of winning.”
And so it was agreed. Doran was sent to Tintagel with precise instructions, and the Knights started preparing for war. They all hoped it would be a short and victorious one. And all the while Cerdic stood there, listening.

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“Mistress Macha, there was a spy amongst king Maleagant’s household, and now the knights are preparing for war already. Camelot will be deserted for sure and can easily be taken. Only the women and children are here, and those too old and feeble to fight. I don’t know where the knights will put their camp, I could not see the map clearly, but I tried, really I tried, and a messenger has gone to get Arthur. Will you be queen of Camelot now, mistress Macha? Please don’t forget your loyal servant Cerdic.” Slowly Cerdic put the statue down, for Macha had severed the connection. He smiled, thinking he would be handsomely rewarded for all he had done.

Macha, in her cave, burst out in a loud and scornful laughter. Finally, she thought, finally the chance to take Camelot and to eliminate all the Pendragons! No more fooling around with nonsense like a poisoned mail shirt of a useless sleeping spell. Now she had the armies of two mighty kingdoms at her disposal, and they will crush Camelot’s army without any trouble whatsoever. Still she had a firm mental hold on both kings, they would do anything she told them to. “Do you hear, Morgana? We are about to conquer Camelot and then I will be queen!” Her laughter now sounded like a whole pack of harpies all screaming at once. “Queen at last! Free at last! Oh, your body will serve me well, everybody will think Morgana is on the throne, poor, little, evil Morgana! Did you really think I would let you go? Never, my dear Morgana, never! With your body, I can go where I please and escape this prison once and for all!” With another horrible laugh she merged with Morgana, ready to go to the battle-field and wallow in Arthur’s, and Camelot’s, utter defeat.
Merlin203_0180

It was late in the afternoon when Arthur and the knights arrived at the campsite. An exhausted Doran had told Arthur everything and without delay they had rode to here, the plains near the Hill of Badon. There was a huge river and marshes, effectively defending the camp from that side, as the river could not be forded there, and the marshes were treacherous; and there were rolling meadows, dense copse and trees on all the other sides, giving the knights and soldiers plenty of room to fight and to lay in ambush. The camp was a beehive of activity; cooking fires were everywhere, filling the air with the smell of wood-smoke and roasting meat. Knights and soldiers alike were sharpening their swords and axes, mending their mail shirts and greasing the leather straps of their armour; and their squires were busy tending the horses and running errands.
Hundreds of tents and brightly-coloured pavilions were set up, dozens of pennants were fluttering in the breeze, a proud golden dragon on a field of red. In the centre stood Arthur’s pavilion, big enough to hold at least twenty men. A round table stood in the middle, strewn with maps.
“Welcome Sire,” said Sir Owain, and he held open the flap so Arthur and the knights could enter. Arthur nodded, threw off his cape and walked to the table.
“What’s the situation?” he asked, looking at the maps.
“The army of Maleagant is now here,” Owain said, indicating an area a few miles from the camp, “and Peredur is around here.”
They all looked at the map, and then Mordred said: “This land here is rather marshy, can we lure them to there somehow?”
“Good idea,” Arthur said, thinking it over, moving some wooden pieces over the map.
“We can take a small amount of soldiers to here,” Leon indicated, “and create a diversion, forcing Peredur to advance to here…” he added, and moved some other pieces on the map.
“”Leaving this open for Maleagant to take advantage of the gap, and he will, I’m sure of that, where we will have a large force hidden,” said Gwaine.
Arthur nodded, deep in thought. If they were to succeed, they must rely on the element of surprise, that much everybody understood all too well. They were outnumbered two to one at least. “Tonight, get half of the archers to this spot here. They will be well hidden until they start firing, and when Peredur wants to retreat or even advance, there will be knights on horseback here and here.”
“And Maleagant?”
If I were him, I would go to here,” said Arthur, stabbing on the map, “The trick is, get them as close to the marshes as we can.”

That night, under the cloak of darkness, hundreds of archers stealthily left the camp and took up their positions in the woods, hidden from prying eyes. Percival rode with a small group of soldiers to the enemy camp, making as much noise as possible and aimlessly shooting burning arrows, thus creating a diversion so a large group of Camelot’s knights could leave Arthur’s camp undetected.
The next morning horns sounded, piercing through the quiet morning air. The battle was about to begin.
Arthur_and_odin_fight
From The History of the Kings of Camelot by Geoffrey of Monmouth:
And there was fierce fighting that day, and the air was heavy with the clanging of swords and splintering of lances and the groaning of men and horse alike.
And there King Arthur fought wondrously; he struck down all he met in his path, and no one got away unharmed. He fought so well that none dared face up to him, for no iron or steel, no matter how strong, could withstand his blows. And on that day there fell 940 men by Arthur’s hand alone, and no one struck them down but Arthur himself. And when the enemy saw him coming, they turned in flight, for they did not dare face up to him.
And there was Percival, swinging his sword which he held two-handed, hewing through helm and coif and splitting the enemy down to his teeth.
And there was Gwaine, striking this way and that, with his mighty sword drawn, fighting as fiercely as he were a wild boar.
And there was Leon, hitting the enemy so hard on the helm that he knocked off a big piece and sent it flying, and the enemy fell down in a faint.
And there was Galahad, striking the enemy with his lance, and brought horses and riders down in a heap.
And there was Mordred, fighting side by side with King Arthur, and his sword clove helm and mail and bone and all who saw him fled in fear.

“We’re gaining ground, Sire,” shouted Gwaine hoarsely, his armour splattered with blood, some of it his own, trying to make himself heard above the terrible din of the battlefield. The grass was red and sticky from spilled blood from knights and enemy alike, the air heavy with a cloying stench; and there were flies everywhere, buzzing ceaselessly.
They saw the remnants of the armies of king Maleagant and king Peredur slowly but surely retreating, and the Knights of Camelot started to fight with renewed vigour, driving the enemy further and further into the treacherous marshes.
Then, from the corner of his eye, Mordred saw a Saxon warrior from Maleagant’s army running towards Arthur, a short but lethal sword held high above his head, ready to slay the king. Quickly Mordred turned on his heels to block that fatal blow, and in doing so his own outstretched sword sliced through Arthur’s mail shirt, gambeson and body, thus grievously wounding the king.
It was as time itself came to a standstill. Merlin saw Arthur bleeding profusely, and every drop seemed to hover in the air before slowly falling to the ground, each fallen drop sounded like thunder in Merlin’s ears. He saw Mordred, bloodied sword in hand, mouth open in a soundless scream, eyes full of disbelieve and horror and his sword fell ever so slowly from his hand.
Arthur shall die by a Druid’s hand. Merlin relived his dream again, vividly and in every detail, his dream in which Arthur was killed by Mordred. He saw himself lifting Arthur’s dying body again and he felt the enormous grief he had felt in his dream over and over again.
Time crawled and Merlin saw Arthur fall, saw the death in his eyes, saw his face contorted with pain. The whole world now had stopped, birds hung motionless in the air, horses stood unmoving and still Arthur kept falling. Then it was all over.Mordred_riled“Nooooo…,” yelled Mordred. Merlin stood stock-still for a brief moment before he came to his senses and started running towards Arthur. Both he and Mordred knelt by the fallen king. Blood spurted from his gaping wound, his face had turned ashen, his breath came in ragged gulps. Tears streamed from Mordred’s eyes as he tried to staunch the wound and stop the bleeding.
“We must use our magic,” he whispered, but Arthur could no longer hear them, for he had fainted. Mordred cast a powerful healing spell, whispering lest Arthur should awaken and hear him. The blood started to flow more slowly and Mordred heaved a deep sigh of immense relief. Merlin too cast a spell, his eyes golden: “Licsar ge staðol nu”, he whispered, and there was a mere trickle of blood now, the wound had almost completely closed, but Arthur had lost so much blood, too much blood; and there was no way of knowing how much damage there was to his intestines.
“We must get Arthur to his pavilion as quickly as possible,” Merlin said, “there he can be examined properly. Gaius will see to that.”
But before Mordred could answer, a loud thunderclap sounded, splitting the very air, frightening both men and horse alike.
“Hello boys,” sounded a mocking voice and Morgana appeared as from nowhere, a sardonic smile playing on her cruel lips, “having fun?”
Merlin-finale-feelings
Next time on “Merlin, the adventures continue…”:
Will Arthur live? Will Camelot fall?
Read the conclusion on Christmas Eve, December 24.

 

(my thanks to the Arthurian Vulgate, volume 2: Merlin, and the Historia Brittonum for the inspiration for Geoffrey’s account of the battle)

Links to the previous chapters:
Prologue: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/834/
Chapter 1: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-1-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 2: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-2/
Chapter 3: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-3-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 4: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-4-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 5: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-5-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 6: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-6-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 7: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-7-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 8: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-8-by-tony-de-haan
Chapter 9: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-9-by-tony-de-haan

Also please visit our forum: Merlin’s World of Magic
http://forum.merlinsworldofmagic.com/

Colin Morgan moves onto Hollywood Radar with “Humans” & William Hurt

It was announced in October that Colin “Merlin” Morgan was to star in Humans, a co-prodution between Channel 4 and AMC. Most first reports did not include the fact that the amazing William Hurt is also starring in Humans.
For me and with this production, Colin is moving into the “A” list. This is the first time he is working with a star of this calibre. William Hurt may no longer be considered an “A” lister in Hollywood (that’s reserved for Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep, de Niro) but he once was and he is most definitely one of the greatest actors to have come from North America. And he has pulling power. His name means it will be given a higher profile in the US, not just in terms of when it is shown on AMC, which is a major US channel but also in terms of the amount of publicity it is given. That means so will Colin.

This will put Colin on the real “radar” in America, something he has yet to achieve in the US.

It’s possible that Damien will do the same for Bradley, depending on how popular it becomes. Lifetime too is a major channel there but it does not seem that any major American stars are cast in it so far.

William Hurt achieved stardom after his performance in the thriller Gorky Park then went on to seal his upcoming rising reputation as a solid acting talent with Body Heat a steamy murder plot with Kathleen Turner, Children of a Lesser God which pioneered the use of sign language in film, then Broadcast News a stinging TV news reporter yarn. He has continued to make always interesting movies showcasing his excellent acting ability most recently seen in Artificial Intelligence and the brilliant Indie movie produced by Sean Penn Into the Wild. He has been nominated four times for Best Actor and has won Best Supporting Actor.

I’m sure Colin must be thrilled at the prospect of working with him. If Colin’s part is substantial, he will indeed be on the American radar and I would expect following that to see Colin being offered substantial and lead roles in American movies. Knowing Colin, he will choose wisely. I think also Colin will also keep both feet firmly planted in the soil of his Northern Irish roots and come back to the UK for theatre, film & tv drama.

Colin Morgan and William Hurt

Colin Morgan and William Hurt

Humans, written by Spooks scribes Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, examines a “parallel present” where humanity is dependent on advanced robot slaves (called “synths”) leading to dire consequences for a family who unwittingly buy a rogue model.

Oscar-winner William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman) stars as George, a widower with an oddly close relationship with his synth, while The IT Crowd’s Katherine Parkinson will play a lawyer haunted by demons whose husband (Tom Goodman Hill) buys a synth (played by Fresh Meat’s Gemma Chan) that may be more than it seems.

Bradley James to star in “Damien”

Bradley “King Arthur” James will play the title role in the, what may be a rather controversial, new six-part series Damien. Bradley portrays the now adult Damien Thorn, the mysterious child from the 1969 horror movie The Omen. In Damien, he must come to terms with his destiny: being the Antichrist.
Will this be just another series filled with violence and satanic influences, or will we see a tormented Damien, torn between good and evil?
We will have to wait until next year to find out.

And what are your opinions? Please share them with us!

Bradley James

Bradley James

Bradley James as King Arthur in "Merlin"

Bradley James as King Arthur in “Merlin”

Colin Morgan on “The Fall” and “Merlin”

Here’s an interview Colin Morgan gave for TV Week magazine.

The interviewer had obviously asked him about doing different parts and had written:  “For Colin it was a good chance to show a different side of him to the one most viewers are used to”.
BUT THEN, Colin said “Unless I end up doing more Merlin, I won’t be playing a character like that again”.  He also said: “and being a boy from Belfast, it’s fantastic to be home again. Plus I know some of the cast, John Lynch (Jim Burns) co-starred as my Father in Merlin.”
This is an affirmation that Colin is open to doing Merlin again. We do already know this, but it’s great to have this affirmation in print. The reason this is so relevant is that there are often comments out on Twitter or Facebook or elsewhere with fans citing “there won’t be more Merlin, the actors have moved on”. From the very start after the show ended I said ‘no!’” Actors are always open to doing more of something if a) the script is good and b) the timing is right and c) the money is right. As someone who has been around a lot of actors, that’s just how it is! So take heart Merlin lovers, there will be more. I have a feeling it’s not that far away now.

Colin also says: “I had just heard I go the part and I was walking down the street in London when I saw two policemen coming towards me so I stopped them and asked them of if they could give me any advice. I thought ‘this is meant to be’. One of the officers told me they sometimes had actors riding with them.”

For me, this shows just how quietly Spiritual Colin is. He believes in synchronicity, signs and I would wager a guess, a little more. I would love to talk to him about that.

For the complete article, please follow this link to our forum:

http://forum.merlinsworldofmagic.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&p=1114#p1114

Francesca

The Fall Episode 4 is on BBC 2 this Thursday Dec 4th at 9pm.

Colin as Tom Anderson in The Fall

Colin as Tom Anderson in The Fall

 

 

Merlin Fans – a Merlin Convention?

A CONVENTION DEDICATED TO MERLIN IS IN YOUR HANDS!
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The French group ROYAL EVENTS intend to organize a convention dedicated to Merlin in France!
They need to know first if Merlin fans are still here, if you really want to meet your stars and if you would enjoy attending this event! That is why we made a poll. If we have at least 350 positive answer, the convention will be organized!
So now it’s for you to act and make it possible!
Answer the three questions about your wishes, send the poll and don’t forget to leave your email address so that we could give you news about the project.
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(for your information: “obligatoire” = “required”, and “envoyer” = “send”)
Don’t forget that YOU ARE THE VOICE!!!
Please click on this link to go to the poll:
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You can find more information, leave your comments and ask your questions on the More Merlin forum:
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And on the FB page created for the conventions dedicated to Merlin :
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Thank you all for voting!
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Marie
(More Merlin team member and creator of the facebook page “You’re the Voice : All together for a Merlin Convention”)

Merlin, the adventures continue…: chapter 9 by Tony de Haan

title

Previously on “Merlin, the adventures continue…”
The goddess Macha has taken over Morgana’s body in order to destroy both Arthur and Merlin, and to take over Camelot. Merlin is under the influence of a sleeping spell, which is slowly killing him. The cure lies in a blood-red stone, and only Galahad can obtain it.

Chapter 9

Upon your heads –
Is nothing but heart’s sorrow

They had been riding for many days now, heading west to the coast of the kingdom of Cornwall, to castle Tintagel. The journey had been quite uneventful, apart from a few skirmishes with some renegades, the only thing really bothering them was the weather, and the closer they came to Tintagel, the worse it got. Their thick woolen capes were soaked and heavy with rain, their horses were plodding on with utter despondency, and a wizened Gaius kept shivering despite the two capes he wore, the outer one rubbed with beeswax to keep him as dry as possible. At night they all huddled under a tarpaulin; and they ate their food cold, or cooked on a struggling and sputtering fire.

tintagel-on-the-cornish-coast-w-t-richards
Finally, after riding in a cold drizzle for days on end, they reached the coast of Cornwall and there, perched upon a jutting rock high above the sea, stood Tintagel, a massive, black shape outlined against a leaden sky. It was storming now, and foaming waves were crashing with great force upon the shore. There was only one path leading up to the entrance of the castle, a path strewn with sharp rocks and slippery seaweed. With the exception of Galahad, they all dismounted, took their horses by the reins and walked carefully over the path, hoping not to break a leg or worse, stumbling and falling into the churning sea and crashing on the rocks below. They heard Galahad’s horse whinnying as he tripped, but the horse managed to keep its balance. Galahad was not so lucky, he slipped from the saddle and landed unceremoniously in a pool of ice-cold water, his face mere inches from a giant jellyfish. A few feet more to the left and he would have fallen to a certain death. “Come here, you stupid animal,” he shouted at his frightened horse, took the reins and tried to mount again, a piece of seaweed still stuck on his helmet like a broken and mocking plume.
“Calm down, you moron. I’ve really had it with you, now stop mistreating your steed or I’ll kick you into the sea, quest or no quest!” Gwaine really was furious now, barely able to contain his anger. Percival just looked at Galahad, eyes burning with anger, his hands two huge balled fists, white at the knuckles, and Mordred had his hand hovering over the grip of his sword. Galahad sneered but said nothing, and with measured steps he followed the others, leading his horse by the reins. After a slow and perilous journey that seemed to last for hours, they finally reached the main gate, and not a moment too soon, for the sun was already setting.
Arthur knocked on the enormous wooden door, first with his gloved hand as there was no longer a knocker, then, as there was no answer, with the pommel of his sword. They all stood there shivering in the incessant rain, man and horse alike. At last they heard a sound, and slowly the heavy door opened wide enough for a face to be seen, the face of a haggard-looking woman.The_Door_to_Tintagel_Castle“My name is Arthur Pendragon, King of Camelot,” Arthur said in his most commanding voice and yet trying to sound friendly, “we ask for a place to sleep for tonight, so we can dry our clothes and rest our horses.” No need to tell a servant the real reason for being here, he thought and he held his hands in front of him, palms upwards, indicating they came in peace.
The woman just looked at them and ever so slowly the door opened, creaking on its rusty hinges. Finally the door opened wide enough for both men and horses to walk into the courtyard, where they found themselves stumbling over broken flagstones and discarded pieces of rusting and decaying armour. Not a soul was to be seen, no voice broke the eerie silence of the place.
“Forgive me, Arthur Pendragon King of Camelot, we do not get many visitors here these days,” the woman said with utter sadness in her voice. “Please, in yonder stables you may put your horses, and there, in the Great Hall, we will meet you when you are finished, and you are welcome to dry your clothes by the fire,” and her hand indicated vaguely to a peeling door that once must have been alive with bright colours.
“I don’t like this place,” Gwaine said under his breath.
“Me neither,” Mordred answered and nervously looked around the courtyard. The woman had gone.
They stabled their horses and rubbed them dry using the straw from the floor. As there were no oats in the rack, they fed the horses with whatever little they had left, hoping to refill their stock when they left. Galahad looked absolutely livid. “This is no way to treat a knight of Camelot,” he exclaimed, “and where are the stable boys, do these clodhoppers expect us to tend to our horses ourselves? HEY!!!,” he suddenly shouted across the courtyard, “you lazy louts, get over here now and rub down my horse!” and he looked around, expecting at any moment to see a stable boy come running to do his bidding.
“Galahad,” Leon shouted after him, “get in here and tend to your horse. Do you want it to get sick? We tend to our horses as they were our children. So come in here right now or you can crawl back to Camelot for all I care!”
Furiously Galahad looked at him. Leon looked back, unmoving and unblinking, and with ill grace Galahad started to rub down his horse.

Later that evening they all gathered in the Great Hall where a fire was blazing in the hearth. They all huddled close to the fire, warming their bodies and trying to dry their sodden clothes. Apart from the benches around the hearth and a trestle table by the wall, the room was bare and cold. The slits in the walls were uncovered, letting in wind and rain. They had not seen the serving woman since their first encounter. Percival and Leon did search for her, or anyone for that matter, but they did not find one living soul, nor did any of the rooms seem inhabited, although most of the rooms were locked. They ate the last of their black bread and cheese, and washed it down with cold water. And as the heat from the fire warmed their bones and dried their clothes, so did their good spirits return. Even Gaius managed a weak smile.merlin-knights-by-fire_11,11“This is not the Tintagel I know from stories,” Arthur said, “It is supposed to be a thriving and bustling castle, so where is everybody? And the whole place looks like a ruin.”
At that moment the door opened and the woman that had greeted them earlier entered, a jug in hand. Behind her shuffled an old man, bearing a tray laden with steaming bowls and empty plates. “Please forgive me for my absence,” she said, “but I thought you might like some nourishment, so I made you a stew.” The man put the bowls and plates on the table, then disappeared again.
“Please, eat and afterwards I will tell you the sad story of why Tintagel is in such a state. So, please eat, for you surely must be hungry and thirsty,” and with these words she left the hall.
Everybody filled their plates and started to eat the watery stew, chewing the stringy pieces of meat and overcooked vegetables. Galahad looked at it with disdain and put his bowl aside. “I’m not eating that, it’s not even fit for a pig,” he said.
“You’re not eating that?” Percival asked and without waiting for an answer he took Galahad’s bowl and wolfed it down in no time.Rat_Stew1Arthur ate another spoonful and suddenly he remembered that, years ago, during a famine in Camelot, he had eaten a stew that had tasted exactly the same. A stew Merlin had made, a stew with cooked rat in it. He winched, but forced himself to eat. No need to tell the others. This could very well be the only food they got here, and a stomach full of rat is far better than a stomach full of nothing.
Not long afterwards the man came back, collected the bowls and plates and left, never saying a word, nor reacting to the knights’ questions.
“Please, kind Sirs, we have prepared a room for you so you may get some sleep. It is not much, but the straw is fresh and fragrant, and the blankets are warm and clean.” The woman stood by the door, beckoning. “Please, Arthur King of Camelot, please stay a while for I have a tale to tell, a tale for your ears alone,” she said softly, and a sad note crept into her voice. Arthur nodded. “And you, Merlin, you may sleep safely tonight, there will be no dreams to disturb you this night, as they have disturbed you so many nights now. As for you, venerable Gaius, do not fear, and rest your weary bones in peaceful slumber.”
They stood there, confused and uneasy at hearing these words, and all thought the same: why does this woman know these things, how does she know them. Slowly they walked into the dimly lit corridor, an uncomfortable feeling in their gut for leaving Arthur alone with her. “Sleep well,” Arthur said, “I’ll join you in a minute.”
“Sire,” they said and left the hall, and at the end of the corridor a door opened and they saw a few simple beds and flickering candles.
“Wait for me,” Galahad said impatiently as he followed the others, took a few steps and suddenly he found himself all alone.

“Do you know how you were born?” the woman asked without preamble the moment she and Arthur were alone.
Arthur looked at her, a puzzled look on his face. “Do I know your name?” he answered back.
“My name is Celise,” she said, “but my name is of no consequence. Please sit and answer my question, however strange it may sound to you. Do you know how you were born?”
“My mother died in childbirth, that is all I know,” Arthur said, not quite knowing how to react, and he felt a pang of sorrow in his heart. “That is all I know,” he added, whispering now.
“But you did see her some years ago, didn’t you, and she told you things of the past.”
“Yes…”Ygraine“But now it is time to tell you the real story, Arthur, for this quest may be about Merlin, it is also about you. You see, I was expecting you. No, please do not talk now,” Celise said as Arthur opened his mouth, “please hear me out. This place, this beautiful castle of Tintagel, is cursed, and has been cursed from the day you were born. People started dying, walls collapsed, all around us crops failed and the sea turned the water in our wells to salt. Only a few of us remain now, and we must do so until the curse is finally lifted.”
“And I am the one to lift that curse?” Arthur’s voice was almost inaudible now.
“In a way, yes, although it may take days, years or not at all, that, alas, is not in my hands.”
“What must I do to lift this curse?”
“That I cannot tell you, for you must listen to your heart to find that answer. Please, do not talk of this now, for I must finish my tale first. One day you will know what to do. You, Arthur Pendragon, you are a creature of magic.”
At this point Arthur could no longer restrain himself. He jumped from the chair and shouted, “What? How? I…” He felt hot and cold now, and utterly confused. “I am not made of magic!”
Celise put her slender fingers on Arthur’s forehead and slowly he calmed down. “I am not made of magic” A whisper now, saturated with incredulity as he sat down again.
“You, Arthur Pendragon, you are a creature of magic, for know that your mother, Ygraine, was barren, unable to conceive a child. She was inconsolable when she found out, and Uther could not bear to see his beloved wife slowly wasting away with grief, so he made a decision. He sent Gaius to the sorceress Nimueh, begging her to help them.”
Arthur was stunned now, every word Celise uttered felt like a punch, battering his body and his soul. Gaius, Nimueh… He wanted her to stop, he wanted to block his ears, flee Tintagel, but he had to listen, but he also wanted to know, needed to know. I am a creature of magic.
“Not long afterwards Ygraine was with child, for Nimueh had created a life in her womb, and both Ygraine and Uther were filled with joy. A great banquet was held, and a tourney, and finally the day came when you were born, here, in this very castle. But Nimueh had not told them of the price they had to pay, for to create a life, another must be taken, and so the moment you were born, Ygraine died.”
Arthur’s face was ashen now, his mind in turmoil. He had heard all the words Celise had told him, but they did not register. Not yet. He felt cold, so terribly cold. He looked at his white hands, unable to move them. His clothes were soaked with sweat, cold and clammy. Magic, I am a creature of magic. Magic is evil. I am evil. Magic killed my mother, and magic killed my father. I killed my mother. He could not think straight anymore, his mind a giant maelstrom of images. He heard Celise’s voice in the distance, and somehow he understood what she was saying. Nimueh was banished from Camelot and Uther began the Great Purge, killing anything and anyone magical. I am to blame, he thought, I am to blame for this purge, I killed all those druids and warlocks and sorcerers, I have brought death and suffering to Camelot. How can I still live like this? I am no King of Camelot, I am Camelot’s bane. I am the curse that needs lifting.
“And now Ygraine’s spirit still dwells within these walls, unable to rest until the curse is lifted and you, Arthur Pendragon, are destined to achieve this. Only then will Ygraine, your mother, find rest and will Tintagel prosper once more. You will know what to do, the answer is there, in your heart, and one day you will see it, we can only hope that day is not long in coming.” She fell silent now and bowed her head. “Rest now, Arthur Pendragon King of Camelot,” she said softly and touched his forehead once more. Arthur’s eyes closed and his breathing became more regular. She smiled a sad smile, yet there was hope in her eyes. The next moment she was gone.

One moment Galahad was following Leon and Gwaine in the corridor, the next moment he was all alone, standing in a bare room. No furniture, no tapestries, no candles, not even a slit in the wall to let in some light. “Mordred,” he shouted, “Percival, where are you?” With all his might he tried to open the heavy door, but he found it locked. He pounded on the door, but no answer came. “Come on, open this door at once! This is not funny. LET ME OUT!” he shouted at the top of his voice, and once more gave the door a beating until his knuckles bled, but it remained firmly locked. His stomach started rumbling now, and his throat was dry. I should have eaten something, he mumbled softly to himself, even that inedible pig feed would be welcome now.
“Have you noticed that there is light in this room even though there is not one slit, not even a crack, in the walls? Remarkable, isn’t it.”
Galahad’s eyes flew open and his hand went to his sword.
“I’m terribly sorry, did I wake you?”
Sword in hand, Galahad looked around, furious at himself for not noticing someone entering the chamber. “Show yourself,” he demanded. He stood with his back to the wall now, eyes darting to and fro, but he saw no-one. “Who are you, show yourself this instant!”
“These youths of today, they never seem to have heard of the word ‘please’, let alone utter it once in a while.”
Galahad was feeling scared now, but he kept telling himself: this is just a joke Leon and Gwaine and Percival are having at my expense. They are laughing their heads off now, for sure, well, I’m not giving them the satisfaction of appearing afraid.
A creature suddenly stepped into view and Galahad gasped, almost dropping his sword. “What are you,” he whispered hoarsely, cold sweat on his brow, his throat dry as hot sand, for there stood a creature surely not from this world, a creature of magic, bluish white it was, and all over his body he had spines like a porcupine. It smiled at him, a terrible and creepy smile. Galahad tried to speak, but no sound escaped his lips as he was mesmerized by the creature’s pitch-black eyes, ringed with red tissue. This no longer was a joke, this was real, or he was having a very bad nightmare.
“So you’re the one Merlin is relying on for his recovery. Any luck so far? Or are you too busy being an obnoxious prat and admiring yourself in the looking glass?.”
“Gwaine, Leon!” Galahad was shouting now as he desperately tried to open the door, “Percival!”
“Oh, they can’t hear you, you’re not really here you know. Well, in a sense you are here, but not… Forget it, you wouldn’t understand.”
“Who are you.” Galahad gripped his sword even more tightly now, its sharp point directed at the creature’s chest, “What are you.”
“Good question, I think you may call me Airy for now. That’s as good a name as any for a Spirit of the Air.”
Galahad nodded as he slowly sank to the floor, unable to stand any longer, his sword fell from his hand and it clattered loudly on the cold flagstones.
“Afraid, are we now, afraid as we’ve always been. Always afraid and hiding it behind that overbearing mask you’ve created, that impregnable wall so nobody can touch you anymore, and you’re doing everything you can to keep everyone at a distance, never helping, never caring. Oh, I know why, and you know it too, don’t you? Don’t look so startled, I simply know things. And now you’ve got to help someone. Someone you don’t even care about -do you even know his name? It’s Merlin by the way-, all you care about is you. Look at you, the high-and-mighty Galahad, look at you now: lying on the floor, crying like a newborn babe.”
Galahad said nothing, he sat slumped on the floor, afraid to meet the spirit’s penetrating gaze. He knew the spirit was right, he was hiding, he was afraid to show the world the real Galahad. And he also wanted desperately to become a Knight of Camelot, so his father Lancelot would be proud of him, even though he was long since dead. Nothing could stop him achieving that goal, and everything he did, everyone he met, it was nothing but a means to reach that coveted knighthood. He didn’t care about that boy he was supposed to save, he was just a stepping stone for the greater glory of himself.
“Are you going to say anything?”
Galahad blinked, fighting back tears.
“Then let me tell you something,” the spirit continued, “before this night has passed, you will be asked to do something. Fail, and Merlin dies. Fail, and Camelot will fall. But you can only achieve this if you truly believe you’re doing the right thing, for then, and only then, will you succeed. If not… well, you know the consequences. And before I forget, Galahad, try not to cheat, don’t do things simply because you are told to do so, for I will know…”

Galahad didn’t know for how long he had been lying on the floor. It was pitch-dark now, and he felt cold and stiff all over. “Hello,” he shouted, but the only sound he heard was his own, echoing off the walls. He tried to stand up, get some circulation back into his legs and arms and he winched at the pain of thousands of needles being stabbed in his limbs. He felt for the door and with all his might tried to open it again, but to no avail. It remained firmly shut. Galahad started to sob now, as he finally understood he was utterly alone now. Leon, Percival, they had all abandoned him, no-one was looking for him. Were they even missing him? The more he thought, the more depressed he became. “I’m sorry, father, I’m sorry I’ve been a disappointment to you. For all my life I strove to become a Knight of Camelot, just like you, and now I’m here in this dungeon, left to rot. All I ever wanted was to be the best, the bravest, to be respected.” He sat on the floor again, knees drawn to his chin. “And how am I supposed to do this… thing, being locked up in here!” he suddenly shouted. He was looking for something to throw, and suddenly his fingers felt an oddly-shaped stone. Galahad didn’t remember it being there, but he picked it up and the stone started to glow with an inner light, growing brighter and brighter. He let it fall, afraid of burning his fingers, afraid of the magical light. The stone remained glowing brightly and the whole room had a feel of being moonlit. Galahad looked at it, afraid to touch it again, afraid it might suddenly come to life, but it just lay there, glowing with that eerie inner light.whitestoneAn gebyrt of twegan dead
Infindan stan, rudu gelice blod
Hæle ofeslæp belute wiðinnan
“Who said that,” Galahad exclaimed, looking wildly around him, “show yourself!”
“Do you know what is means?” came the voice of the spirit.
“No, yes… I…I… don’t know!”
“Yes or no, no or yes, make up your mind, Galahad. Look at the stone.”
Galahad obediently did so, but he saw nothing.
“Don’t stare at it, LOOK at it, into it. Believe in it!”
“Just tell me what you want with me and stop playing games. I can’t take much more of this, please, stop tormenting me like this.” There came no answer. Galahad’s eyes darted to the stone, afraid of what he might see. Nothing but swirling strands of light, glowing like mother-of-pearl. Mesmerized he stared at it, unable to avert his gaze. “Do you see it now,” a voice sounded in his head, and suddenly Galahad saw words appearing: a stone red as blood will cure the sleeping spell. “But how…” he mumbled, “No, this stone is not red, I must find another,” but there was none to be seen. His eyes searched the walls, the floor, the ceiling, but no red stone was to be found. He sat down again, rubbed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose. He suddenly felt so tired, so worn out, so utterly helpless. “I’m sorry, Merlin, I’m so terribly sorry,” he sobbed, “I want to help, but I can’t,” and he could no longer keep his eyes open. He slid to the floor and fell asleep.

The stone was there, that ominous white object on the black marble floor. Galahad looked at it, sword in hand. He saw flashes on its surface, burning houses, screaming people, Merlin with a face contorted in a soundless scream. He saw himself as a young boy, playing with a wooden sword, defeating his father Lancelot in a mock fight. He was laughing and screaming with pleasure as Lancelot took him in his arms and threw him in the air. He saw images of his friends and then everything changed; he saw walls erected between him and his friends and everyone he knew, he heard doors shutting, and echo after echo washed over him, until the sound became unbearable. I must prove I’m a man, a man worthy of Camelot, he heard himself say before a heavy iron door closed and he could no longer see himself in the stone. He blinked and the stone was white again, as if nothing had happened, but suddenly a drop fell on its surface, a drop red as blood. Another drop fell and another, until the stone was completely red, and still the drops fell. He saw it now, they were coming from the tip of his sword, but how could that be? He lifted the sword and felt a stinging sensation in his left hand. He looked at it and noticed he had sliced his little finger and with morbid fascination he continued to watch the slow trickle of blood coming from it. The stone pulsated now, like it was alive. Slowly he raised his hand, trying to stop the bleeding. Rudu gelice blod. Red like blood.CorazonWith a jolt he sat upright and immediately he looked at his hand. Nothing. He tried to calm himself, trying to dispel that awful dream from his mind, but it would not go away.
For a long time he sat there contemplating, looking at the stone, at his sword, at his hand. Could that be the answer? Without hesitation he sliced open his little finger and let the blood flow freely onto the stone. “For you, Merlin, I give this freely and gladly for you,” he whispered, and slowly the stone turned red.
“Wonderful, well done!” came the voice of the spirit, but Galahad didn’t care. He felt elated, proud, and he felt a strange sense of humility, something he has not felt in a very long time.
“Quests are such wondrous things, aren’t they? Everybody here seems to have one, and you have fulfilled your own quest this very day. Now, go and give this stone to Merlin, come on, don’t dally now,” and he indicated to a figure in the corner of the room, a man with an unruly mob of black hair, clad in a red tunic. Galahad looked nonplussed, surely he wasn’t there before? Merlin awoke and stared at Galahad. He looked as bewildered as Galahad. For a brief moment both men stood there, looking at each other, not quite knowing what to do. Then Galahad carefully took the stone in both hands and walked over to Merlin. “A blood-red stone to cure the sleep within,” Merlin said, as he took the stone into his own hands and he instantly crashed to the floor, eyes rolled in his head until they showed only the whites, he started foaming at the mouth and then he lay still, the stone clutched in his lifeless hands.Merlin3x0800012“Merlin!” Galahad shouted, as he looked with horror at Merlin’s ashen face, devoid of any colour, “Merlin, wake up! Don’t die, you can’t die now, we need you, I need you!” and he cradled Merlin’s head in his arms, sobbing uncontrollably now, and shouting with a cracked voice: “Why, spirit, why did you do this to me! You gave the stone to me, you made me kill Merlin!” He touched Merlin’s ice-cold hand, and said in an almost inaudible voice: “I killed Merlin.”

Next time on “Merlin, the adventures continue…”: the battle for Camelot.

 

Links to the previous chapters:
Prologue: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/834/
Chapter 1: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-1-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 2: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-2/
Chapter 3: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-3-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 4: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-4-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 5: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-5-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 6: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-6-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 7: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-7-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 8: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-8-by-tony-de-haan

And please visit our new forum, Merlin’s World of Magic: http://forum.merlinsworldofmagic.com/

Tom Hopper: the gentle giant

Tom Hopper, the British-born actor we all love as Sir Percival. He studied acting at Rose Bruford College and graduated in 2006. In 2007 he played “the fishmonger” in the movie Saxon and he appeared in an episode of the TV-series Casualty. He also appeared in Doctors, Good Cop and Doctor Who, and also in the movies Tormented and Cold (written and directed by Eoin “Gwaine” Macken).

In 2014 Tom joined the main cast of the TV-series Black Sails as Billy Bones, and he starred as Asbjörn in the movie Northmen: A Viking Saga.

As Markus in Tormented

As Markus in Tormented

As markus in Tormented (with Alex Pettyfer)

As Markus in Tormented (with Alex Pettyfer)

As Billy Bones in Black Sails

As Billy Bones in Black Sails

As Billy Bones in Black Sails

As Billy Bones in Black Sails

As Tom in Cold (with Eoin Macken)

As Tom in Cold (with Eoin Macken)

As Tom in Cold (with Eoin Macken)

As Tom in Cold (with Eoin Macken)

As Jeff in Doctor Who (with Matt Smith)

As Jeff in Doctor Who (with Matt Smith)

as Asbjörn in Northmen, A Viking Saga

as Asbjörn in Northmen, A Viking Saga

with Eoin Macken, Colin Morgan and Alexander Vlahos during ColdCon

with Eoin Macken, Colin Morgan and Alexander Vlahos during ColdCon

with Bradley James and Eoin Macken

with Bradley James and Eoin Macken

percival3 percival2tom-hopperAlso please visit our forum, Merlin’s World of Magic:  http://forum.merlinsworldofmagic.com

 

Merlin, the adventures continue…: chapter 8 by Tony de Haan

titlePreviously on “Merlin, the adventures continue…”
Macha, an ancient goddess, has taken over Morgana’s mind and body so she can eliminate both Merlin and the whole Pendragon dynasty. Merlin has been given a sleeping spell which is slowly killing him. According to an ancient prophesy, the cure lies in a stone and only Galahad will be able to find it.
And some time ago, during a banquet in Camelot, Gwaine made a wager with a green-clad knight and now he is in danger of being beheaded.

Chapter 8
Open-eyed conspiracy

“I told you,” the Spirit said, head cocked slightly to one side, a smile on his lips, “that you would find that ancient magic deep within you.”
“Where am I?” Merlin whispered. The whole environment was hazy, like he was engulfed in thick clouds, everything looked white and he felt so terribly tired and sleepy.
“How does it feel now?” the Spirit asked, not bothering to answer Merlin’s question. “How does it feel to have all that magical power. Be proud, friend Emrys, be proud of your great achievement! You’ve managed to unlocked all that ancient magic deep within you and believe me, you are going to need it.”
“Please, what is this place,” pleaded Merlin, feeling dizzy and disoriented now.
“Ah, but of course, how rude of me, please forgive me. You’re in my world now, Emrys. Well, almost that is, you are in the equivalent of your courtyard. But do not worry, I will sent you back in due time. I just needed to know if you are strong enough for the greatest challenge you will soon have to face.” His whole demeanor was grave now, the red around his eyes in stark contrast with the whiteness of his skin, eyes that looked unblinkingly at Merlin.
“What are you talking about.”
“Through my art I foresee the danger that you, my friend, are in… All will be revealed to you when the time of revealing will make itself known. I wish I could say that I didn’t know, but then I would be lying, wouldn’t I. Great events are about to unfold, events that could mean the difference between life and death. But, my dear Emrys, you can hardly do anything sleeping standing up like this. Your sleeping spell must be counteracted first, but that task is out of your hands now. You have done your part, now it is Galahad’s turn. You must place your trust in him, however difficult that may be, for if he fails, Camelot is doomed and so are you. ” Merlin felt himself drawn further and further into those black and still unblinking eyes. “trust, Emrys, trust… Remember Morgana…” Fog patches now floated between Merlin and the Spirit and there stood Kilgharrah, looking at Merlin with black unblinking eyes: “Trust, young warlock, trust is a fine thing, but it can also be a dangerous thing, remember Morgana? I have warned you before about that witch and look at her now, she is doing everything she can to kill you and Arthur. And heed my words, young warlock, do not trust that druid boy either… And now you’re asked to trust that insufferable prat, do not trust…” and slowly Kilgharrah started to dissolve in the mist and there Balinor stood: “Trust in yourself, my son, trust in yourself…” and before Merlin could say anything, Balinor too was gone. Nothing but mist remained, mist like a cold and wet blanket. Merlin started walking, for in the distance he could see lights, very faint and blurry, but lights none the less, warm and welcoming lights. After walking what seemed like hours, he could discern a shape; a castle, a castle not unlike Camelot. He took one weary step after another, but the castle would not come nearer. Tears welled up in his eyes and exhausted he fell to the ground, unable to take another step. He saw faces hovering above him and around him, faces like wispy clouds, and they all looked like the Spirit, like Balinor, like Kilgharrah. He saw Arthur lying in a pool of blood and Mordred standing over him, laughing, his sword dripping with blood. He saw Morgana, sneering as she looked with contempt at Arthur, and then she took Arthur’s bloodied crown and put it on her own head. “Kill the witch… kill the witch…,” he heard in the distance, like a whisper on the wind, “kill the witch… kill the druid boy…” and he felt himself falling. Falling and falling into a deep chasm and his world turned black.
“Merlin…” whispered the voices in unison, “Merlin…, and Merlin opened his eyes, but he saw nothing but impenetrable darkness. He didn’t even know if he was sitting or standing of still falling. There was nothing. “Merlin…” Again the voices, urgent now, all those voices merging into one. It sounded familiar, that voice… “Merlin, wake up, Merlin…” Gaius! It was Gaius’ voice. “Merlin…” No, Percival’s voice. Or was it Gwen’s? Silence again. “Merlin!” Endlessly the voices vibrated, making his head throb. He tried to cover his ears, but the voices were still there, inside his head, screaming now. “Be quiet,” he tried to shout, but he didn’t know if he said it out loud or if it only sounded in his head. “Merlin!!!” and his eyes flew open and he saw the blurry face of Gaius hovering above him. More shapes, familiar shapes, appeared: Percival, Gwen. “You’re awake,” he heard and Gaius’ face slowly came into focus. He tried to speak, but no sound came. “Easy now,” he heard a disembodied voice say, far-away. “A bed, I’m lying in a bed,” he thought. “How about a bucket of nice, cold water to wake you up,” said another voice. “Yes please, I’d like some water,” he wanted to say, but again no sound escaped his lips. He opened his eyes again and there was a new face which looked like Arthur. “Arthur,” he croaked and he saw Arthur’s face break out in a smile, and the he saw Gaius and Percival and Gwen smile too. Gwen offered him a beaker and greedily he drank the cool water. Slowly the world came into focus. “What happened?” he managed to say and tried to sit up.
“You’ve been asleep for over three days, Merlin, we were worried sick you may not wake up this time. You simply crashed to the floor right after healing Arthur.”
Three days, he thought, three whole days. He heaved a deep sigh. Just as they were going on a quest to find the cure, the sleeping spell had tried to stop him and had almost succeeded too. His eyelids were so heavy, but he wanted desperately to stay awake. “Drink this,” Gaius said and Merlin grimaced as he tasted that bitter potion again. “I’ve put some other herbs in it as well, herbs to keep you awake.”
“I’m hungry,” Merlin said after a short while.
“Oh, and by the way,” Arthur said, “tomorrow we ride to Tintagel. You’d better be ready, Merlin.”
“Yeah, I’ll try and have a good night’s sleep then,” he retorted. He did not see the immense relief on Arthur’s face.sleep

The cave was a mess, a wooden stool lay broken in one corner, the table was thrown to one side, its contents strewn all over the floor, broken pottery everywhere. In another corner lay Morgana, deathly pale and unmoving, the only sign of life an almost imperceptible rising and falling of her breast. Macha was furious, but destroying her cave did not help to make her feel better, far from it. “Thwarted again,” she hissed, and another jug fell victim to her excessive rage, “that insignificant little king is still alive and that fathead of a Merlin is still on his feet!” She kicked the upturned table and howled in pain as she felt her toes break from the impact. While inside Morgana’s head she had heard nothing but sarcastic laughter and that continuous whisper: “even you can’t kill them, you lousy excuse for a goddess”.
Safely in her cave, she had let her essence flow back into her own body, leaving Morgana nothing but an exhausted husk. After a while colour came back to Morgana’s cheeks and her eyelids fluttered. She opened her mouth to speak, but Macha thundered “Silence!” and once again Morgana’s tongue was fused to her palate, no sound escaped her snarling lips. Furious, she rose from her pallet and walked outside to get some fresh air. She had tried to run away a few times, but no matter how far she ran, no matter what direction she took, she always ended up near the cave. She truly was a captive here, captive in both body and soul. For now, her only hope of escape was that eventually Macha would let her go, set her free to rule Camelot; but she had read Macha’s mind, she knew Macha wanted to rule Camelot too, meaning she would stay trapped in her mind forever or she could simply kill her, using only her body and voice. Plan after cunning plan she made, waiting for an opportunity to strike and escape this horrible prison. From deep within the cave she heard laughter, a shrill and inhuman sound, utterly insane. Morgana covered her ears to try and block the piercing sound, but to no avail. “Come back you numbskull,” she heard in her head and her feet started walking towards the cave, whether she liked it or not. “It’s time to think big,” Macha said, a look of utter madness gleamed in her eyes. Her gnarled fingers took Morgana’s head in their grip and Morgana felt Macha being sucked into her mind once more. Macha’s now soulless body fell amidst the broken pottery and she left it lying there, like a forgotten and discarded rag-doll, as she left the cave and dissolved in the mist, only to reappear in the woods near Camelot.
There she sat down, unseen by any who would pass, for she had made herself look like a part of the tree-trunk, brown and gnarled, and she concentrated. It was not long before her thoughts reached out and touched the mind of king Maleagant of the Saxons in the south, and of king Peredur from the kingdom of Kent, and a few other kings too; and she planted in those minds a deep hatred for Arthur, and a longing for conquering Camelot, for such was the immense power of Macha. Exhausted she fell into a deep slumber, and did not see Arthur and his entourage leaving Camelot.

Preparations for the Quest for the Stone, as the knights now called it, were in full swing. Percival, Gwaine and Leon were polishing their armour, mending their mail shirts and sharpening their swords; and also making sure their tinder-boxes would not get wet, even in a downpour, and pouring beeswax into their leather water bottles, making a waterproof lining so they would not leak. They loaded their saddle-bags with everything they might need for such a long and dangerous journey.
For Gaius they had selected an easygoing horse with a nice, even gait; and Arthur gave him a saddle with a high backrest, so he might travel as comfortable as possible. For a whole day Gaius had been grouchy and fussing, running around and piling all kinds of things on the table: books of herb lore and magical creatures, potions for just about everything, herbs, plants and even more books. “Mustn’t forget this,” he mumbled, “definitely mustn’t forget that,” and a whole stack of implements joined the ever increasing heap. “Don’t just stand there, I could use some help here,” he said grumbling to Merlin and he had loaded his arms with numerous jars of potions.MSB96

“You can’t take all of that,” Merlin had said, “there aren’t that many horses to carry it all.”
“Then you must carry some of it too! And why aren’t you packing? It’s a long trip you know, a very long trip! Oh, I forgot! Blankets. We need blankets too, and cloaks and tunics…” and Gaius hurried to the wardrobe, leaving Merlin standing there, arms loaded with jars.
“What’s all this,” came Arthur’s voice, “Gaius, are you moving to another chamber?”
“Sire,” and Gaius made a slight and quick bow, “No Sire, it’s just a few things I might need for the journey.”
“A few? A FEW?”
“Yes Sire, I… I…”
“Gaius,” said Arthur, his voice gentle, and, sensing Gaius’ distress he laid a hand on the old man’s shoulder, “we really must travel light, taking all this with us will slow us down, and the slower we travel, the longer Merlin will be in peril, and…” Arthur did not finish his sentence and let the implications hovering in the air.
Gaius nodded, Arthur’s words had hit home. “I might just take these…,” and he took a bag of the dark brown beans to make the potion to keep Merlin awake, “and perhaps these…” His voice trailed away, not quite knowing what to do anymore.

Galahad, for these past few days, had been his usual charming self: bullying servants and squires, demanding a seat closest to Arthur’s in the Banqueting Hall (but not getting it) and generally acting as if he owned Camelot and everybody in it. He was shocked to find Merlin in such a deep coma and thought: “I hope he does get better, for if not, my whole quest is in jeopardy and I will not be made Knight of Camelot”. His armour was no longer as pristine as it was the day he came, it had received numerous dents and scratches from all the beatings the knights had given him, but he never wavered and had met each exercise with the same attitude: I am going to win for I am the best! The knights were fed up with his arrogance, making plans to put him in his place once and for all. “Be careful,” Arthur had said to them, “we need him to complete this quest first”, and so the knights waited.
And now Galahad was ready for his quest, his heavily dented armour polished to perfection, a task which had taken George hours to finish. “I am ready, my liege,” he proclaimed loudly, “ready to go on this most perilous quest and to find that stone.” At these words he kneeled in front of Arthur, as if expecting to be knighted there and then.
“Let’s not dally then,” Arthur said and he led his horse to the main gate. Gwaine, Percival, Leon, Mordred, Gaius and Merlin followed, and finally Galahad who had some trouble getting on his horse. The Quest for the Stone had finally begun.Knight-9-Wallpaper-merlin-characters-34412759-1709-953

They had been riding steadily for days now, and sleeping under the stars at night, but Arthur saw Gaius needed a rest; his face was ashen with fatigue and he sat slumped in the saddle, all but falling off, so they halted at an inn in a small village to get food and a good night’s sleep.
That evening, as they sat in the common room, laughing and filling their bellies with hot food and cold ale, they noticed the villagers kept staring at them with a mixture of concern and fear.
“Excuse me,” Arthur, in his commanding tone, said to one of them, “pray tell me why you keep looking at us like that. Although we are in arms, we mean you no harm.”
“Visitors we do not get too often around these here parts, especially such a great and wise man as yourself (and he nodded respectfully at Gaius) and we understand you need protection,” the man said gloomily, “but when visitors come, they leave through the woods and then they ne’er come back, and we understand you will be going there too.”
“And why is that, why don’t they come back?”
“Stay clear of yonder forest,” the man whispered as he leaned close to Arthur, “for there the green giant resides.”
“A green giant?” Arthur exclaimed loudly and Gwaine knocked over his mug of ale.
“Hush, ye fool, do not speak of him in such a loud voice lest he should hear you.” The man was visibly afraid now and he took a large swig of ale, to try and calm his nerves.
“Green giant?” Gwaine asked, and a slight tremble had crept into his voice.
“Aye, as tall as a tree and strong as twenty oxen he be, and a good sword-length taller than ye,” and the man pointed at Percival, “and it cuts through anythin’,” and his hand thumped on the table, upsetting the beakers of ale. Gwaine gave a stifled cry. “Do not go to yonder forest, fair sirs, do not go, for ‘tis aptly named the Forest of No Return and no mistake,” and he fell silent, refusing to say another word. A few of the locals looked at them with great pity in their eyes.
The knights looked uneasy at each other, all of them remembering that fateful night when a green-clad knight had come to Camelot, making a wager with Gwaine. They all saw him lift his head from his shoulders and heard his promise that Gwaine would see him again, and now Gwaine stood the very real chance of losing his head, for such was the wager they made. An uncomfortable silence descended upon their table. Not long afterwards they retired to their rooms, but sleep did not come easy.Arthur_and_Gwaine

The next morning their good spirits were back. They saddled their horses, bade the innkeeper good day and swiftly rode away, straight to the Forest of no Return.
“If we encounter that green giant, we’ll find a way to solve it,” Percival said jokingly, “two heads are better than one.”
“Yes,” chimed in Leon, “don’t lose your head over a little thing like this.”
Gwaine merely scowled.
“Did you have a good night’s sleep, Gaius?” Leon asked.
“Quite well, thank you,” he answered, “my old bones are grateful for a soft bed after those nights sleeping on the ground.”
“Well, you’re lucky to have a few sheep-skins to sleep on,” Leon said, smiling. Gaius smiled back. He was really grateful for those soft and warm sheep-skins. “Do you realize,” he said, “that Galahad has been wearing his heavy armour the whole time since we left Camelot and he is still sitting straight in the saddle? I think under all that arrogance lives a boy who is very insecure, but with a great will-power.”
“Yes,” Leon answered, “I agree, he does show character. But we have to get that arrogance out of him sooner or later.”
“By making him ride his horse backwards, like you did with Mordred?”
“No, we have much better ideas, and if he still doesn’t change, he won’t survive long as a Knight of Camelot. He’s not exactly making friends, you know. I’ve even seen George winch, and that’s saying a lot.”

“Forest of no Return,” Arthur proclaimed, as they had reached the edge of the forest in the early hours of the afternoon, “Nonsense, we have no wish to return, all we want is to go through.” Gwaine nodded and threw away his half-eaten apple. There was a small path, leading into what looked like a small and dark tunnel meandering between those huge and ancient trees. Arthur raised his hand. They all moved into the woods and instantly found themselves engulfed by giant trees, their gnarled branches all seeming to intertwine, the roots making the path a treacherous going. The foliage above them was one enormous green blanket, and the little sunlight that was able to penetrate the green canopy cast long shadows, turning the branches into giant black claws, silently beckoning… Everything was green now, a sickly emerald green. The horses were jittery and the knights tried to calm them, but they themselves were feeling edgy too and their horses felt that. Even Galahad was subdued. Leon started humming a cheerful tune, and soon the others joined in, but somehow it made them even more agitated so they kept silent again. There was not a puff of wind to be felt, no bird twittering, no insect buzzing, no leaf rustling, even their mail shirts hardly made that familiar rattling sound anymore. Behind them they saw the trees intertwining, making one solid, impenetrable wall.forest3
“Do you feel it,” Mordred said, using his druid voice.
“Yes,” Merlin answered, “there is great magic here.”
“We must keep ourselves alert, we must not let Arthur come to harm, or any of the other knights.”
“Or Gaius.”
“I tried to perform some magic, it didn’t work.” Mordred sounded anxious, tense.
“Great…,” Merlin replied, “just what we need.” He lowered his head and for a fraction of a second his eyes turned golden. “Same here. I tried to make a branch fall, it didn’t. The magic here is enormous.” Deep inside him he felt his new-found magic stirring and boiling, trying to match this strange and powerful magic that seemed to be everywhere around them.
“We must continue now,” came Arthur’s strained voice, “I know we’re almost there, we’re bound to be.”
And suddenly they found themselves in a clearing, a large, spacious meadow. At the far end stood a castle, its turrets shrouded in a sickly green mist, its drawbridge down, the gates open. The horses bowed their heads, sniffed at the grass, but refused to eat it. Even now everything was green, even the open sky and although it was still daytime, they could not see the sun. They proceeded cautiously towards the castle, but there was man nor beast to be seen.castle2
“My name is Arthur King of Camelot. We come in peace, we are travelling through this wood to the east.”
Nothing.
“We ask your permission to enter the courtyard, so we can rest our horses and enjoy the pleasure of your hospitality.”
Still nothing.
“Only one way to find out if anyone’s there,” Gwaine said. Arthur nodded and slowly they rode to the gate. “Don’t draw your swords,” Arthur said, seeing Galahad with his blade in his hand and raising it above his head, “we don’t want to appear hostile.” Reluctantly Galahad sheathed his sword again, clearly he did not agree with Arthur’s decision.
“Right,” Gwaine mumbled, but made sure his sword would easily slide out of its scabbard. Percival and Leon did the same.
Arthur led his horse onto the drawbridge. The hooves made hollow and creepy sounds as the horses walked over it. Arthur looked up, but no heavy portcullis came crashing down, crushing both horse and rider.
“This place is bursting with magic,” Mordred said in his druid voice.
“Yes, I don’t like it,” answered Merlin.
“Me neither.”
“Hello!” yelled Arthur, “Anyone there?”
Still there was no sound to be heard, no movement to be seen. They all dismounted.
“Are you alright, Gaius,” Merlin asked as he helped the old physician from his horse.
“Every bone in my body aches,” he grumbled. “And did you notice,” he whispered, ”there is magic all around us.”
“Yes,” Merlin whispered back, “and I couldn’t use my magic in the woods, I don’t like it,” and he fell silent as Arthur came near, asking if Gaius was feeling well.
“Thank you Sire, yes, but I could do with a little rest.”
“Yes, of course, please rest while Merlin and I go to the great hall,” and he started to walk away. “Are you coming or not, Merlin, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“Coming, Sire,” and they walked into the castle. Gwaine, Percival and Galahad went the other way, while Leon stayed with Gaius.

Merlin felt uneasy, he didn’t like it, not being able to use his magic. It has happened once before, some years ago, losing it: a creature had sucked all the magic out of him, leaving him totally defenseless. He needed to try again. Quickly he looked around, but Arthur was in the adjacent room, unable to see him. Very carefully he stretched his arm, spread his fingers and whispered a simple enchantment. Nothing happened, but before he could try anything else, he heard Arthur’s slightly mocking voice behind him: “I know you’re desperate to find a cure, Merlin, but do you really think you can do magic?”
Merlin’s heart skipped a few beats and quickly he turned around, stammering: “A-A-Arthur! You’re back. Me magic? No way! I was just… you know… looking…”
“Yes, Merlin. Looking at what exactly?”
“The wall. Lovely wall. No woodworm. Just think, me having magic… imagine, you are sitting there in Camelot, eating and feasting while I am working my fingers to the bone, and all I really have to do is click my fingers and mumble some spell, and your armour will clean itself, your laundry will wash itself… and I could just sit there, doing nothing.”
“So basically, exactly what you have been doing so well all those years, absolutely nothing.”
Merlin clicked his fingers and waved his arm around. “No, nothing’s happening. You’re still here.”
Arthur started laughing, squeezed Merlin’s shoulders, and said: “Dream on, Merlin,” and he thought: “poor Merlin, the strain is really getting to him now,” but, deep in the back of his mind it kept gnawing at him, it had all looked a bit too real. “There is something about you, Merlin…,” he thought.

“Ah, Sir Gwaine, how lovely to see you again. And Sir Leon, Sir Percival, welcome too. Magister Gaius. And I don’t think we’ve had the pleasure of meeting, sir knight,” and he turned to Galahad, “Please allow me to introduce myself. I am known as Sir Vert of Sinople, at your service.” Without warning, the green knight suddenly stood before them, beaming.
“My name, sir Vert of Sinople, is Galahad son of Lancelot, soon to be Knight of Camelot,” and he made a stiff and formal bow.
“Splendid, splendid! Ah, and our most hospitable king Arthur and… I’m sorry, I don’t seem to recall your name, my dear serving boy.”
Merlin opened his mouth, but Arthur cut him short. “I thought you’d be taller, but you’re still the same height as I remember” he said, looking at Sir Vert, his hand hovering over the grip of his sword.
“Those simple villagers, they tend to exaggerate, don’t they. Sir Gwaine, I told you we would meet again someday, are you ready to uphold your part of the wager we made?”
Gwaine kept silent, his mouth was dry and his heart was beating in his throat. Then he straightened, hooked a lock of his hair behind his ear and unblinkingly looked Sir Vert in the eyes. “I made a wager, Sir Vert, and a commitment. As a gentleman and Knight of Camelot I am bound to honour and uphold that commitment. I am ready, Sir Vert, I place myself at your mercy.”
“Good, good. But is has been a long and tiring journey for all of you. Please go to the great hall. There you will find everything you need for tonight: food, drink and comfortable beds. And for your horses there is fresh straw and oats in abundance. Rest well, especially you, Sir Gwaine.” And with those words the green knight bowed, lifted with one hand his head from his shoulders and left. A loud clanging was heard as Galahad fainted and fell to the ground.1000px-Gwaine32_zps6562fdf3

The next morning everybody gathered in the courtyard and there they saw to their horror a chopping block, with a huge and razor-sharp axe leaning against it. The tension was almost visible, no-one spoke, they just stood there with a heavy heart and looking grim, waiting for the inevitable.
“Are you ready, Sir Gwaine,” came the voice of Sir Vert, and he stepped into view. Gwaine nodded, closed his eyes for a moment and said in a steady voice: “I am ready, Sir Vert of Sinople, I am ready to honour our agreement.”
“Good. Now if you would be so kind and place your head on the block if you please.”
Slowly Gwaine walked to the block, kneeled and put his head on its cool, smooth surface. He heard Sir Vert take up the axe and his only thought was the hope for a quick and painless ending. He heard a stifled cry from Merlin as the axe was raised, he heard a sword being drawn and Arthur’s muffled “no”. He heard his heart beating and the blood in his veins throbbing. He heard the axe swishing down, he felt the cold steel touching his neck and he felt warm blood trickling down, his blood. Then it was over.
“You are indeed a man of honour, Sir Gwaine” Sir Vert said, “should you have faltered, or proved to be a coward, I would without hesitation have chopped your head off. And you too,” he continued as he turned around, “you too have proved to be honourable and wise, for if that sword of yours, young Galahad, had left its scabbard, you too would have been killed. Sir Gwaine had made a promise, a commitment, and you all felt honour bound to respect that commitment, even if it meant for Sir Gwaine to lose his life. For that I grant you your life, Sir Gwaine. I have been given satisfaction, blood has been drawn. Please continue your journey. You will find your saddle bags filled with provisions.”
Suddenly Merlin and Mordred looked at each other as they heard the voice of Sir Vert in their heads: “And as for you, young warlocks or druids or whatever it is you call yourselves, your magic will return as soon as you have left this forest.”
They all mounted their horses, bade farewell to Sir Vert and quickly left that eerie place; and for a long time no one spoke.

“Camelot should be rightfully mine,” said king Maleagant of the Saxons, “Arthur has no right to the throne.”
“When Uther was alive there never was a chance to take Camelot, which is, after all, rightfully ours,” said king Peredur of Kent.
And so the kings began to make preparations for war.

Next time on “Merlin, the adventures continue…”: Tintagel.

Links to the previous chapters:
Prologue: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/834/
Chapter 1: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-1-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 2: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-2/
Chapter 3: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventure-continues-chapter-3-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 4: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-4-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 5: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-5-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 6: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-6-by-tony-de-haan/
Chapter 7: http://www.merlin-arthur.com/merlin-the-adventures-continue-chapter-7-by-tony-de-haan/

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NEW FORUM ~ The More Merlin Forum Launched tonight “MERLIN WORLD”

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We are delighted to announce the launch tonight of our Forum…. 

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