Fictional Short Story

Merlin, now a lanky, 16 year old, was exploring in the woods beside the cottage where he and his mother lived. He was going to chop firewood for dinner, but Merlin started to wander off the path in a direction that almost seemed to be calling him. He soon came upon a gurgling stream that was clear as crystal.

When Merlin looked down, however, he did not see his own reflection! Instead, he saw hundreds of people cheering on Prince Arthur; and, where the King's counselor was to sit, a much older Merlin rested. Merlin quickly looked around to make sure that no one was near enough to see the unmanly, frightened look on his face or the scene that the river had depicted. When he looked into the river again, all he saw was his own reflection.

"Odd," Merlin reflected. "I wonder what that was about." He soon returned to the task he had been sent to do, but his axe was blunt! Surprising himself, he said, "Blytha," a word that he had never heard of before. Suddenly, one of the huge oaks came crashing down beside him and started to cut itself into small, firewood-sized pieces! Merlin was shocked, not quite understanding what had occurred. Being a simple fellow, he simply picked up the wood and started home. When he got home and told his mother, Cilia, about the ordeal, she was as shocked as he was. What she was thinking was quite different from the awe that Merlin was experiencing.

"Oh no, Merlin does have some of his father in him!" Cilia thought. "I hope he isn't discovered by King Uther, for he would kill Merlin! Maybe my friend, Gaius, could help him; after all, he does know that Merlin's father was a sorcerer and he might be able to hone and focus Merlin's newly-discovered magical skills."

Turning again to Merlin, Cilia said, "Well, don't worry about that, honey. Others have probably experienced the same thing at some point; you probably have just… had the experience a little earlier than others." Merlin had some doubts about what she said, but obediently began to help her cook dinner.

After Merlin went to bed, however, Cilia had made her decision; she would write a letter to Gaius explaining the entire situation and asking for his help. This she knew Gaius would do because Gaius knew what would happen if Merlin was discovered for what he was: a sorcerer.

Merlin set out the next morning, hoping he would be able to reach Camelot the next day. He immediately found himself in the same woods he had found the stream in the other day; however, Merlin was able to resist its call of prophesies. He made his way through hills and dales, always moving forward except for a brief brake for lunch. Around six o'clock, Merlin was forced to start making camp for the night since it was starting to get dark. He ate a little of the cheese and bread his mother had packed for him, failing utterly at sticking to the amount he had decided to eat.

Eventually Merlin was able to fall asleep, alone for the first night in his entire life. Nightmares plagued his fitful sleep as Merlin's mind switched from violent battle scenes to horrifying images of plagues and back again. Merlin slept little that first night because of those nightmares; however, just before dawn, he settled into a peaceful dream.

Merlin saw a beautiful girl with magical abilities! He hid her from the king and his men, while he pretended to not know her whereabouts. At last, Merlin had found his own special girl who liked him, for who he was, not the fake dud he played to everyone else. She looked at him and smiled, the most beautiful and captivating smile he had ever seen, the girl's teeth shining like rows of pearls in stark contrast to the filthy rags she was wearing. She looked into his eyes and said, "I will see you soon, dear Merlin. Come to Camelot, and you will eventually find me here…"

Merlin woke with a start as the first warming rays of dawn crept onto his eyelids. He had a strange hole in his heart as if someone had given him a taste of something and then torn it out as Merlin was savoring it. He wondered if this was what it felt like to be in love. Merlin started humming as he ate the last of his cheese for breakfast and began packing his tent and bedroll. He soon started out again and immediately came to the foothills of the small mountain range bordering the edge of Camelot. Merlin knew from the map he had that it would take him all morning for him to cross the small section of the vast Pennies mountain range.

The sun was directly over Merlin as he reached the edge of Camelot. He still had to walk through a dense forest containing several scattered farms and thatched huts. Most of the leaves were still green, although a few were slowly revealing their vibrant colors of autumn. Stalks of wheat and corn covered many of the farm's fields, while some contained freshly stacked bales of hay. Merlin, however, often had to stop to shake off a few chipmunks and squirrels that were darting around his legs and occasionally up a pant leg!

Despite the beauty and pests of Camelot, Merlin managed to reach the outer wall about a half hour from when he first entered the outer edges of its official city borders. He quickly slipped through the crowd, wondering how on earth he was going to find Gaius, the friend his mother had mentioned. He attempted to find Gaius on his own, but could not; Merlin eventually asked a castle guard where Gaius, the court healer, was.

The guard directed Merlin to a place several doors down the long, winding hallway. The small room inside contained a small table with a few chairs around it, a desk with several confusing-looking medical papers, a cot, a medium-sized mattress, and several long bookshelves.

"Hello, Gaius?" Merlin asked curiously as he looked around for the old man his mother had described.

"Aah!" was the only warning Merlin had as he watched, horrified, as he saw an old man fall off a landing backwards. Somehow, Merlin's eyes changed their color from baby blue to hawk yellow, which seemed to cause the mattress to move right under the man.

"Where did you learn that, boy?!" Gaius demanded as soon as he recovered from the shock of the fall onto the mattress.

"Nobody!" Merlin exclaimed. "I've been able to do that for a while, no one taught me."

Gaius appeared startled, unnerved even at Merlin's response. "What's your name, boy?" Gaius asked, wondering why this stranger seemed familiar.

"Merlin…" Merlin responded, confused because he thought Gaius had known he was coming.

"Impossible, you were supposed to come on Thursday!" Gaius exclaimed, equally as confused.

"It is Thursday…" Merlin said assuming Gaius, being old, had merely lost track of the days.

"Oh," Gaius said. "In that case, come on in! You can take the room upstairs, right above the stairs."

Merlin chuckled to himself at Gaius' obvious last statement. Nevertheless, he followed Gaius upstairs to his new bedroom. It was large compared to the small house-like room where Gaius lived. It was sparsely furnished with a small bed, and a small desk with a fold-up chair beside it. The desk had a quill pen, some ink and a few pieces of paper to track anything Merlin wanted to write down or so he could write a letter to someone. Merlin heard a noise and looked towards Gaius, who was sliding a book out from a secret cubby hole in the floor.

"This is a book of magical spells," Gaius explained. "You'll need this if you're going to hone and control your skills." Merlin murmured his thanks and started flipping through some of the spells. He had a feeling this was just the start of a career that would take him far beyond what anyone could imagine. Merlin then remembered the vision he had had in the river near his home and knew then what it would mean; eventually, he would be Prince Arthur's counselor and head magician.

Merlin did eventually go on to become King Arthur's main counselor until replaced by Ninive, the Lady of the Lake (not the one Arthur returns his sword to) according to Le Morte d'Arthur written by Sir Thomas Malory.