AUTHOR NOTE: Hope you all enjoy part one of the story. Not yet sure what the final length will be...maybe three parts in total.
I wish to impress our guest tonight, Arthur." Uther Pendragon was saying to his son as they walked to the vault underneath the castle in which they kept some of the palace's most valuable treasures.
"Yes, father. Though I don't see how us coming down here is to achieve that."
Uther unlocked the door which was flanked either side by a guard and proceeded to step within the chamber, peering around as he went.
Arthur followed closely behind, curious as to what his father was planning.
"Ah!" Uther suddenly exclaimed exuberantly, "Here we are!" he was suddenly bending down looking into a dusty wooden crate, a big triumphant smile upon his face.
Arthur stepped forward to take a look at what was impressing his father so much, but could only see what looked like extremely tarnished lumps of metal, blanketed in yet more thick dust.
"It just looks like a pile of old junk." he said sarcastically, earning a frown from Uther.
"Arthur, there are some fine wares herein, including some of the finest gold candelabras."
"So fine that apparently they had to be hidden down here out of sight." Arthur muttered.
Uther ignored his son's comments and continued speaking as if un-interrupted, "I wish them to be present at the feast. Nothing but the best will do for King Hannavah and his wife, Lady Jayne, and if the evening goes well, I hope to strike such a relation, that we'll ensure peace between our kingdoms for generations to come. I want every detail to be perfect, I'm sure that you can understand that."
"Yes, father," Arthur sighed. He often found a lot of the get-togethers his father organised to be quite boring and tiresome. Though he couldn't deny, even to himself, the importance of keeping up alliances with as many neighbouring kingdoms as possible.
"Have your manservant clean and polish everything here, then take everything to the kitchen so that they can put them out onto the tables in the main hall ready." Uther continued before leaving the chamber.
Arthur bent down and lifted the crate. It was surprisingly heavy and he began to wish that he had brought Merlin down here with him so that he could have burdened him with the load instead. However, it would be made worth his own effort when he would see the look on Merlin's face when he was to find out that he was to get it all polished on the king's orders, quick smart.
Merlin had just rushed back from mucking out the stables and had gone straight up to Arthur's chambers, only to be greeted by the sight of all the prince's armour spread atop of the table awaiting his attention.
Sighing, he spread the various pieces onto the table's surface, sat down, and started to rub at the silver surfaces. This was arguably the worst job he had to do, well, apart from mucking out the horse doings.
But as usual. He had no choice but to get on with the task at hand.
After much effort and what seemed like forever in time, he finally finished with the final piece, "Glad that's out of the way for another day." he said out loud to himself throwing his cloth down, only to realise that he was no longer alone.
"Having fun?" Arthur smirked as he walked in.
"Oh yes, "Merlin replied sarcastically, "There is nothing that I enjoy more than polishing heaps of metal."
"Well then, you'll be happy to know that there is more for you here. I wouldn't want to deprive you of further enjoyment." Arthur said with amusement as he marched in, dropping a heavy wood crate onto the floor at his servant's feet.
Dust bellowed up through the air as the rickedy box made contact with the stone beneath it, making Merlin cough.
"What is all of this?" he asked peering into the crate's depths after the dust had finally started to dispersed.
"This, Merlin, is what my father wants polished and ready for tonight's feast. He's hoping that King Havannah will be impressed by a bit of gold on the table, and you have the pleasure of helping it become more visually pleasing."
"I'm honoured." Merlin dead-panned.
"Just make sure that you get it done in time. The kitchen servants will need to get everything onto the tables before the room is needed."
Merlin was only half-listening now, he was busy taking each object carefully out of the box one at a time, looking at each treasure carefully. There were ten gold candelabras in total. Impressive for sure, but they would be a...royal pain to get cleaned up in time.
As Arthur drawled on about why the feast was so important, Merlin took his cloth in hand once more, and began his work.
"Wait..." Arthur was suddenly saying, "You've left something in the crate." he was then leaning over retrieving the object he was speaking of.
"How many more candles could he possibly want?" Merlin asked disheartened, not looking up.
"Hmph." Arthur grunted, "This isn't another candelabra, I'm not actually sure what it is...though it is fancy, I'll give it that."
Merlin finally looked up at the prince to see that he was holding a strange shape. It was a plump vessel with a long spout and a handle which cobwebs were happily clinging to.
"Lets see..." Arthur said as he began to run his hand over the dull-golden surface in attempt to clear some of the neglect of time that had been bestowed upon it. He had to rub vigorously to reveal the surface that hid underneath all of the grime.
Suddenly there was a bright flash. Merlin and Arthur both disappeared within a cloud of white smoke which showered specks of pink and violet into every imaginable direction.
As it started to clear, they became aware that they now had company in the way of a peculiar looking short man who was wearing the strangest attire; baggy golden trousers that sparkled like diamonds in the light that filtered through the window, and a bright purple sash tied around his waist, the end of which touched the floor beneath him. This was accompanied with a matching waistcoat that had huge buttons running down from his collar which appeared to be of a pearl-like quality. And last but not least, he wore upon his feet, bizarre pointed shoes in purple to match the sash.
Merlin stood up and joined Arthur, the both of them continuing to stare in disbelief as the man looked them as curiously, but smiling wildly, his bearded olive face beaming underneath a healthy mass of dark, curly hair.
Suddenly the man took a step closer towards Arthur and bowed in a graceful manner before him, a dramatic flourish of his hand completing the gesture.
"Master," he said as he straightened himself up again, "you have freed me from the confines of my lamp, for which, I am eternally grateful."
Arthur grabbed the handle of his sword, unsheathing the shiny silver blade with a perfectly precise manoeuvre, and quickly pointed it threateningly toward the uninvited guest.
"You are a sorcerer!" the prince exclaimed, "Such practices are strictly forbidden here in Camelot and is punishable by death!" with that, he lurched forward, but within a very instant, the man clicked his fingers on both hands, and vanished into thin air.
Both Arthur and Merlin were left stunned, their eyes frantically searching around the room for a sign of what had become of the man.
Merlin was starting to have a very bad feeling about this.
Arthur, though he could no longer see the strange little man, edged forwards cautiously, fixing his eyes back upon the very air in which they'd last witnessed the man's presence only moments ago.
"You will not be needing such a weapon. It will do no harm to me." a voice suddenly exclaimed from behind prince and servant.
Arthur and Merlin spun on their heels to see that the man had re-appeared at the far wall to the left of the window, a safe distance away from Arthur's sword.
"What is your business here?" Arthur demanded, a hard, cold look upon his face.
"My name is Artemis, and, Master, for freeing me, I am honoured to do you the great duty of granting you three wishes. Anything that your heart should desire will be yours if you should only tell me what it is that you would like."
Again, Artemis bowed, his flair for the dramatic quite obvious.
"Arthur, I don't think that you should..." Merlin started, but stopped when Arthur suddenly burst into a fit of laughter.
"You want to grant me three wishes?" the prince managed to say between body quaking chortling, "What are you? Some sort of genie?"
Artemis looked amused, "Well that is what you humans prefer as a name for us, yes."
"And you are saying that I can have anything that I want?" Arthur continued, his laughter still not completely tamed.
"Yes, Master. However big or small your need, I would be delighted to provide." Artemis explained, the wide grin almost permanently fixed.
"Arthur, don't listen to him. I don't think it can be that simple." Merlin said, his distrust for the genie growing by the minute.
"Though I hate to say this, Merlin, but you're right." Arthur admitted, his features turning serious again, the amusement finally abated.
"Not to metion that you father would be rather displeased about having a genie in his palace." Merlin added just to further the point.
"Of course," Arthur said thoughtfully, "It would greatly anger him, as it has I."
Artemis didn't look at all perturbed by these words, in actual fact, he remained highly confident and unwavering.
Arthur strode purposefully towards Artemis, sheathing his sword, now knowing its uselessness against such a foe, "I am hearby placing you under arrest. You will be locked within the dungeon to await the king's sentence."
"And I will simply do this." Artemis exclaimed, once again clicking his fingers and disappearing, only to re-appear a few moments later laying atop of Arthur's bed wearing a smug, triumphant look on his face. "So I'm afraid you see, that with my gift, there are no walls or bars that could keep me contained. The only imprisonment possible to give me is to once again trap me within the lamp, but I should tell you, good sirs, many have tried with my fellow kin, but have failed miserably."
Arthur was starting to get extremely irritated, and seeing that the man would indeed be able to easily evade any attempts to capture and hold him, left him unsure of what he should do next. This was truly an opponent who was doing well to outwit him.
"It may also be prudent to inform you of something else," Artemis continued as he let himself sink into Arthur's pillows and cushions, making himself more comfortable then he had a right to be, "I will be bound to you until all three wishes have been granted."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Arthur snapped.
"Artemis chuckled, "It means that you will have the pleasure of my company until you decide what you want, otherwise, I will be forever at your side."
Arthur sighed then cursed in exasperation, then rubbed his temples in frustration.
"I think that we should go and talk to Gaius. With his knowledge, he may know what to do about this." Merlin stated helpfully.
"Good idea," Arthur sighed, "I couldn't bare to be around this idiot for much longer. It's bad enough having to put up with you all day, every day."
"Thanks." Merlin scowled trying not to take offence at Arthur's jibes.
"Oh, and you'd better get him some more suitable clothes to wear, he can't be seen with us looking like that." Arthur pointed out.
"Where shall I get some from?" Merlin asked.
"How should I know!" Arthur yelled, rubbing his temple between thumb and forefinger, "Just...just get him some of yours!"
"But..." Merlin started.
"Merlin! Just do it!" Arthur warned.
"Yes, sire." Merlin said reluctantly, acknowledging the order.
"Oh dear! Oh deary dear!" Gaius sighed as he paced the length of the chambers that he and Merlin shared looking utterly deflated, casting the occasion suspicious glance at Artemis who had taken it upon himself to explore the room, humming merrily to himself and not at all worried by the current situation that he'd forcefully inflicted upon Arthur. Now that he was wearing Merlin's spare clothing, the genie was at least looking normal.
"Maybe I should just make really small wishes, just to get rid of him," Arthur suggested.
"Yes, if we are careful, what harm can come of it?" Merlin said eagerly, backing his master's idea, though deep down, his gut was telling him that it was an utterly stupid plan.
"Absolutely not! Out of the question!" Gaius snapped, at last stilling himself. "Genies are tricksters! They are not to be trusted, no good could ever come from their granting wishes, even the smallest."
"Why?" Arthur enquired curiously, though he knew he asked such a question against his better judgement.
"Because, Arthur, with each wish comes great consequence. You may think what you are asking for is small and insignificant, but it will lead to complete disaster!" with that, Gaius slapped one of his wrinkled hands down onto the table to amplify his point, "Everything in life has a balance, and all of us have what destiny has meant for us. If one should take more then they are meant to receive, it upsets that balance and will tip everything else up into complete chaos."
Arthur thought Gaius a little dramatic, he was almost making it sound as though the world would end if they proceeded. And surely not even the most powerful sorcerer in the world could hold the ability needed for such a thing to come to pass.
"So if Arthur can't make the wishes, then how do we get rid of him? He said that the only way to imprison him, would be if we could get him back into his lamp." Merlin said.
Gaius sat himself on the bench and leaned his elbows on the surface of the table, "I'm afraid that I do not know the answer to that, Merlin. In fact, I'm quite sure that it has never been done."
Arthur was growing more impatient by the minute, "Well there is one thing that I know for certain, and that is we cannot allow my father to know about him." Arthur said.
"Why would you not want to inform him?" Gaius asked looking genuinely confused at his statement, "I'm sure I do not need to tell you how he will react if he was to find out that you failed to mention such a thing."
"Because," Arthur started, "I was the one who released the genie. He'd be somewhat displeased with me for that much alone. And if he was to discover that Artemis cannot be imprisoned, well, he'd be even more furious!"
"Well it wasn't as if you knew this was going to happen." Merlin said.
"I don't know if that would matter. I'm responsible either way."
Gaius sighed, "Then we need to think of a solution ourselves. And quick."
"The only solution is for Arthur to make his wishes." Artemis said matter-of-factly as he approached the puzzled trio, having finished surveying Gaius's belongings.
"I'm not going to let that happen!" Gaius snapped and got to his feet, coming face to face with the genie, frowning angrily at him.
"It is inevitable, old man. None have ever resisted the temptation, the young prince here will be no exception." Artemis chuckled mischievously, "You mark my words, it will happen."
"Never!" Arthur exclaimed, feeling insulted at the mere suggestion that he would even consider such a thing.
"We shall see, Master. We shall see." Artemis smirked.