A Dream of Camelot
After the Round Table went to hell, there wasn’t much to be done. I know I was supposed to be trapped in a cave—and it would’ve been a better lot—but bards and minstrels prefer to tell the more romantic tale of what happened rather than what didn’t.
And what then of Arthur? Of Guinevere? Of Lancelot?
All is lost, all is gone, even Merlin trapped by lust and magic
Gone are the players, gone is Camelot.
The times I spent as a boy went fast. The kingdom changed. There was little work to be had for an out of work wizard who grew younger by the day. People began to forget. It’s hard to claim experience when you look eleven.
It was a cool, crisp day spent shoveling a pig sty when I formulated the plan. The time was not yet ripe. The ritual was complicated. As magic left the world, it seeped into me.
People forgot things so quickly, but I forgot nothing. Years passed, until I forgot how to walk, but I already lived near enough to the lake to crawl and plunge myself into the welcoming water’s embrace. I gurgled Nimue with the last bit of breath.
Why did I wait so long? She would have trusted no other to get so close. She would have not been as defenseless as she was when she awakened from her slumber and lifted me to her breast and gave me the breath of life. I pulled the magic from her. I watched her lifeless body fall as her power fused with mine and I made the practiced motions as I thought only of Camelot.
I awoke in a crib in a cave. I could not speak. The younger me, an old-doting fool who thought he knew everything, smiled down at me. He waved his hands. I waved mine back in a practiced, awkward form.
“You’ve been here before,” he said to me. “Though for the life of me, I can’t remember why.”
“I got it wrong last time, Merlin,” I said. “Living backwards is no way to go through life. You should teach Nimue—the Lady of the Lake—your powers—our powers.”
A look of recognition, of understanding, spread slowly across his face. “I make a wonderfully wise baby,” he said. “I never considered the eventual outcome of living a full life.”
“You’re looking at it,” I replied. “I’m growing stronger and weaker with each sunrise. Though I might move mountains, I’ll be pissing myself any given day.
“She could be so, so powerful, and I’m ever so fond of her,” he replied thoughtfully.
“Make certain you show her that one spell, the way which can trap you, or better yet, teach it to Morgan Le Fay, that traitorous wench will certainly whisper it into Nimue’s ear.”
“Never,” he replied. “All we have worked for will fall.”
I still remember those words, though I can’t say them. I simply gurgle and coo. I have attendants who look after me. I see young Arthur learning from the old fool. I sleep more and more awaiting the end where I am only a twinkle in a man’s eye.
I am coddled. I am loved. I remember wanting to warn them. With my infantile frustrations, I cry out more and more–the tempers of a child with the rage of an old man—and I remember the kind face of Guinevere taking me into her arms, comforting me.
“I wonder what he’s thinking,” she says one day as Lancelot, sweaty from their tryst, dresses behind her. I can see him clearly and I begin crying.
“I’m sure he thinks the kingdom shall fall to its knees because we tumbled into bed.”
“Those are your thoughts, my love.”
He pauses reflectively. “Ah, well, in that case, I suppose he’s just hungry.”
Later, I awaken for the last time. It’s nightfall. I hear the sounds of battle. I hear the cry of Arthur pierce the night sky as Mordred strikes his telling blow. The cycle is complete. I rest my eyes and move no more.