Accidental Epiphanies

Much as Merlin liked Gwen, he doubted the wisdom of bringing her along on his pollen gathering duties.

“That one!  What do you think?”

Merlin sighed.  She’d broken his concentration once again. “What?”

“That cloud.”  She pointed upward at a billowing cloud.  “I think it looks like a dragon.”

Merlin followed her gaze.  “No, it doesn’t,” he said quickly.

“It does.  See the wings?”

Merlin shook his head.  “The face is wrong.  Dragons have cat faces.  That looks like a dog with wings.  Not a dragon.”

“Cat faces?  How would you know?”

Merlin realized he’d said too much.  “Lucky guess?”

Written for Merlin100‘s “Clouds” prompt

Comparative Religions

Shortly after Merlin’s arrival in Camelot, he asked Gaius to explain the differences between the “Old Religion” and the religion practiced by the king — Christianity.

This proved a mistake.  Gaius droned on for hours, only embaffling Merlin with excessive detail.

Merlin considered asking Prince Arthur the next day, then decided his curiosity would prompt difficult questions.

Instead, he posed his question to Morgana, as he was tasked to deliver sleeping draughts.  “One feels distant, the other intimate.  One demands faith and pageantry, the other visions and magic.”

Merlin decided, from then on, He would keep his questions to himself.

Written for Merlin100‘s “Mystical” prompt

Crisis In Infinite Camelots

“Who are you all?” the boy with scruffy hair wanted to know.

“Why, isn’t it obvious?” said the animated man with the long white beard and the pointed hat.

“Not to me,” said the man with the metallic skullcap and the trim beard in his high-pitched voice.

The unkempt, unwashed man dyed in woad paint mumbled, but no one understood him.

A wizened old man, his drawn face impassive, said nothing.

A clean-shaven man in an anachronistic tweed jacket frowned.  “You can’t all be me, surely?  I know I’m to be ginger and Merlin someday, but this is ridiculous!”

The Calculus of Diplomacy

“Negotiations. How I despise them.”

Arthur was nonplussed by Uther’s pronouncement.

“The delegation from Thule…”

“…Has nothing of worth for Camelot. Trade? They want our produce and offer mere trinkets in return. An alliance? Our kingdoms are separated by rough seas, and though we both beset by rivals we have not mutual enemies.”

“What if Thule allied with Mercia? Or the Picts?”

“What of it?  Mercia would find as little benefit to an alliance as I have.”  Uther stood decisively.  “Dismiss their ambassador.”

“Of course, father.”  But Arthur would remember Thule’s Prince Valiant — for the day he ruled Camelot.

The Solitary Wood

In the Old Forest, just beyond Camelot’s walls, there stood a mighty tree, alone.

“Do not approach it,” Gaius had long warned, and Merlin, assuming the tree was cursed with ancient magic, stayed away until a hunt with Arthur and a spirited fox chase led him to the tree’s clearing.

Merlin approached the tree with caution and curiosity. An ash, he decided.  But how had it grown here, a hundred yards from any other foliage?

He sensed no curse, yet he felt something else.

Merlin pressed his hand to the bark, and an unfamiliar name echoed in his mind.


The Twain in Camelot

It was said throughout Lankhmar that, in the Year of the Briny Toad, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, having fallen afoul of the Thieves Guild once more, ventured forth to the kingdom of Camelot, there to participate in a tournament in honor of the Lady Morgana’s birthday. Though their fame did not precede them, it came as little surprise to the tall barbarian and his lithe companion that they were soon expelled from the castle, having mistaken a formidable sorcerer for a hedge wizard of dubious ability when their attempt to filch the prince’s surcoat met with an unfortunate enchantment.