imaginary_golux: adult red riding hood and her wolf (Default)
(Note: this is based loosely off of Arthurian mythology pre-Lancelot [blast Chretien de Troyes anyway, Guenivere was much more awesome when she was fortifying the Tower of London against Mordred], not the recent shows.)

Time is marked by the slow drips of water, and Merlin is going mad.

He knows it, and that is its own torture. He knows he has forgotten much, and cannot remember what he has forgotten. Is this face his mother’s or his lover’s? Is that one Arthur or Kay, Perceval or Mordred? Is Morgan his enemy or his ally?

The water drips, and Merlin wonders if the water is carrying his memories away; perhaps those who drink the water will have his memories afterward? Will they mourn Arthur as he does?

But no, magic does not work like that. Or does it? He cannot remember. The water drips, and Merlin is going mad.

Nimue – he remembers her name, knows he loves her, knows he hates her. He thinks she put him here. He thinks she promised to return. Maybe he dreamed that. Sometimes his dreams are true: he dreamed that Arthur died, that Arthur is not dead, that Arthur will yet rise again, the once and future king. So perhaps this was part of the plan, for Arthur must die if he is to rise again, but Merlin would not have been able to stand by and watch his dearer-than-son’s death; so perhaps he was removed by his own will, and Nimue merely forgot to return.

Or perhaps Arthur should not have died. Perhaps Merlin was meant to keep him alive, and failed. Perhaps Nimue tricked him, learned his secrets and stole his love and trapped him here to die (but he does not die, why does he not die). Merlin cannot be certain: the water drips, and he is going mad.

The worst thing –worse than the cold and the stone and the growing insanity – is that the water does not drip steadily. Sometimes there are two drips so close together they are nearly one; sometimes long minutes drag on between drips. Or perhaps he merely can no longer tell time. The water is dripping, and Merlin is going mad.

(Far away, the king has fallen into myth; the world changes and does not change, and Merlin is but hazily remembered. The green places of the druids are built over with metal and stone, and the new faith grows old and terrible with years. The dragons sleep, deeper than men can follow. Merlin Emrys, dragonlord, feels them go, and mourns, and forgets; but they remember him.)

When the world has changed beyond all recognition, when there is truly nothing left of England-that-was but a language and a legend of the once and future king, when there rises from beyond the stars a force to crush the Earth and all its peoples – then the rock cracks, and Merlin walks again into the sunlight.

He is young with power and old with years; he has forgotten that he must eat, or drink, or sleep, he has forgotten more than any other man has ever learned; and he is mad. But as he steps into the sunlight (and far away the dragons feel his step, and stir), there is a spring, the last clean spring in England, bubbling merrily in its pool, and it gleams and calls to him. He kneels to drink from it, or perhaps to drown (he has nearly forgotten to breathe already); but he was right, those many years ago, and Nimue, who was a water nymph, was wiser than her lover and knew what must be done: the water brings his mind, his memories, his Merlin-ness all rushing back, until he is again the self he was so many years ago (but changed, as all things change, by years of dark and dripping water), and he sits down upon the bank of the spring and laughs and cries and laughs again and knows the truth.

For Nimue (long dead and long forgotten, now remembered and re-loved) was right: Arthur would not have died had Merlin lived and been himself, and it is now (so many thousand years from Arthur’s death) that he is needed, once and future king to rise again and lead the world. But Merlin too is needed now, to rouse the sleeping dragons and the sleeping king, to find the reborn souls of knights and sorceresses and bring them to a new Table, to stand again behind his true king’s throne and make the world divulge its secrets for his pleasure. Merlin is ready. The water has ceased to drip, and Merlin stands tall and sane.


imaginary_golux: adult red riding hood and her wolf (Default)

March 2016

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