"It must be dreadful to have a witch for a mother," said Gareth… Once and
Future King, pg. 253
Actually, it isn't. Or at least, it wasn't. I loved having my mother
teach me magic. But then my father left us. It didn't really matter. After
all, when you can make a ship come into shore, or sink it on the rocks, do
you really need a male around?
But my mother missed him dreadfully. Rather than spending the days
making jams and learning new spells, she sat around the kitchen praying for
him to return. Well, at least, she prayed for his return after she had
spent three years frantically trying to find a spell that would make him
come back to us. So, I learned to cook and clean in my mother's place.
Sometimes, she would cease praying long enough to teach me to read, or to
show me one of her old spells. But those occasions were few and far
When I was seventeen, my mother told me that she did not have very
long to live. She said that, as I was old enough to be self-sufficient, she
could no longer survive on her own, without her husband to guide her, to
love her, to give her a reason to live in caring for him. Rather than allow
my mother to die, I told her that I would find my father, and bring him
back to her.
"Silly girl." I loved my mother, but she didn't always believe in me.
"Your father is likely dead. And if he isn't, there is little chance of you
ever finding him. There is only on person in all the world who could have
ever possibly found him."
"Who is this person, Mother? I will find him, and persuade him to
"His name is Merlyn, and he is one of the most powerful wizards in
the world. But even if he will help you, which I doubt, you will still not
be able to save me."
"I must try. Where is he to be found?" My mother then gave me
explicit directions on where I could find this wizard, and so I left my
home for the first time.
It took me quite a long time to even reach the city my mother had
told me this Merlyn was to be found. Once I was there, I discovered the
city was huge! As I had never seen any city before, much less one of this
size, I became lost almost immediately. I wandered around the city for
hours, not sure where I was, or even of where I was trying to go. But just
as the sun was setting, I literally ran into an old man with a long beard,
wearing a wizard's hat. Naturally, I assumed that he would know where a
fellow wizard would be found, and so, I asked him where I could find the
great wizard Merlyn.
"Merlyn?" He looked at me from under his bushy eyebrows. "Yes, I know
where he can be found."
"Could you please take me to him?"
"I don't need to. You are speaking to him right now." To say I was
surprised would be an understatement. The great wizard Merlyn this old man
with mild blue eyes under huge spectacles? It seemed inconceivable. But I
had no option other than to believe him.
He seemed to know exactly who I was, and invited me to his house to
have tea. I was fascinated when the dishes and cutlery served us under
their own power, and Merlin was genuinely kind to me, explaining his plans
for the future, and occasionally telling me mine. I stayed at his house
that night. And so it began.
We fell in love. It was not intentional, certainly, but it happened
nonetheless. I told Merlin about my mother, and how I wished to help her;
he taught me many spells that could possibly work, thus proving my mother
entirely wrong in her conviction that he would not help me. I traveled with
him when he needed to travel, and if he forgot things occasionally because
he was thinking of me, that wasn't my fault, and I certainly didn't mean
for it to happen. We spent several happy years together, and although I
worried about my mother, I felt sure, in my heart, that she still lived.
In the end, though, one of the spells to find my father worked. I
knew exactly where he was, and I knew that I had to go find him. I
tearfully left Merlyn, promising to return after I had brought my father
back to my mother. He allowed me to go, smiling as he waved good-bye until
I could no longer see him.
I journeyed north, reaching the village in which I knew my father now
lived after only a month of travel. It was not a joyous reunion. He had
banished all thought of my mother and myself from his head, choosing to
live solitarily but well in this small village, and he hated that I had
found him. I had hoped that he would come with me willingly, but it was not
to be. I was forced to use another of the spells that Merlyn had taught me
to "persuade" him to follow me home.
It took us another month to reach our old home by the sea. I spent
the entire month worrying about my mother as I had not since I left her.
When we reached our tiny cottage, I was overjoyed to see smoke coming from
the chimney. My mother must still be well enough to tend the fire, and so
she would be saved once my father was home.
I ran into the house, with my father following slowly behind me.
"Mother! I'm home again! I have completed my quest!" But I was answered
only by silence. "Mother?" Still no answer. Slowly, I walked into the
bedroom, hoping that she would be in there sleeping, or that no one would
be in the house at all, that she had gone out for the afternoon. And there
she was, lying in bed. I rushed over to her, intending to wake her up with
the happy news that I had returned with my father at last, but when I
picked up her hand, it was cold. She was not breathing. She was dead.
In a furious rage, I destroyed the cottage, leaving my father to be
destroyed with it, or escape if he could. I then began my travels to return
to Merlyn, plotting revenge. After all, he could see the future. Why hadn't
he told me to leave him sooner, so I could save my mother? Even the months
it took me to arrive in the city did not calm my anger.
I knocked on the door of his house. When he opened it, he was
overjoyed to see me. "I knew you would return to me," Merlyn said. "There
is something you have yet to do."
What a fool he was. Didn't he know what I was about to do? "I'm sure
there is, Merlyn. Won't you follow me, so we can relax outside of the
city?" He agreed, and we walked into the woods, where I led to him to the
mountain. I had noticed a cave there earlier, and knew what I could do for
"Merlyn, come into this cave with me, so we can hide from the sun's
heat." He followed me into the cave, and I ran out of it, and began to seal
it with the magic he had taught me. He did not even try to stop me, just
sat quietly and watched. "Why did you not send me back sooner?" I cried.
"You could have at least warned me how close my mother was to death." He
still said nothing. "Very well then, Merlyn. You shall remain in this cave
"I knew this would happen," he answered. "Farewell, Nimue."