He never sleeps. Or he does not seem to. Even now, wrapped in a grey cloak and the failing light of a waning moon he appears only to be waiting, eyelids flickering with waking dreams. Propped against an ancient oak, the edges of his thin form blur into the bark of the tree. He seems more a forest spirit than a man. But night has a way of melding our true selves into new shapes, making mice of lions and wolves of men.
His eyes open suddenly, a glint of blue against black, the darkness still lingering in the hollows of his face, reminding me of the creatures that dwelled in my mother's cradle songs. As a child, I feared the people under the hill. 'Be a good boy', my mother would say, 'Or the sidhe will come and take you away'. When I grew up, I foolishly lost that dread. I forgot the terrors that walk in the bitter reaches of the night. Since I met Merlin, I have learned to give the forest its due, for the people under the hill still dwell there, watching us as I watch him. He takes no notice of me, gaze fixed on the dying fire, attention turned inward, contemplating, perhaps, whatever dream woke him. I can only imagine the things he sees. What is the script of a prophet's dream?
'I am no prophet, Lancelot', he would chide me if he knew the path of my thoughts, 'That's not a gift I would wish on anyone'. So humble he is, this sorcerer in the garb of a servant. I would fain to disagree with him. A man so versed in destiny, who speaks of the future as a starving man reaches for bread is close enough to a prophet that it makes no difference.
But then, what do I know of seers and fate? What am I but a sword hand given body, another tool for a prince to use to shape his realm? Another knight to spin a circle of protection around a golden prince while another man spun out of dreams and shadows watches over us all.