Merlin: On the Run
The paltry trick with light did not so much involve insinuating new light into the ceiling as it did taking light that was already there and spreading out a bit, like buttering bread. The boy seemed impressed enough though, and I was certainly not going to explain my parlor tricks, lest I found myself in an outcome where he chose to run.
I couldn’t have that, now could I? I have to guide him, lead him. Train him.
Unfortunately, I still had no idea what he looked like. First, I met him in the dark, then I turned my back on him and led him out. I’ve been waiting my whole life for this, and it would be terrible if I turned around to study his face in mid-stride. So there we were, him plodding along behind me like the pup he is, and me, well, shuffling. I would say I have a decent shuffle. I knew it was him though. I could smell excalibur’s power, a raw musk of Avalos’ gift stretching out and away from us in every direction, raising hairs on the back of my neck and skull. I could sense its destiny slowly take hold of its master, the boy, and shape his world forever into the night.
I led him out of the building where our means of conveyance awaited.
“What is that? Is that a…That,” noted the boy, “is a taxi-bike.”
I replied, “They are called rickshaws, Arthur.” I would have given him a pointed stare, but that is when one of my runes, placed several blocks out, tripped. It told me that someone was coming, someone with the intention of killing the once and future king.
This perturbed me. I had been making the part about assassin’s coming up to coax him into the bleeding rickshaw. I breathed out a sigh.
“Get in, boy.”
“Oh, now it’s boy again, is it?”
“Yes, now get in the cart or you will, in all likelihood, get shot while you tarry,” I remarked, climbing myself into the back. It only took one gunshot to convince him to get in. He put himself beside me, looking frightened. It was still too black for me to see him, which annoyed me. Then, the second shot blasted out and a moaning engine led by headlights came into view.
“Go! Onward, you junk heap!” I shouted at the rickshaw. The rickshaw hurtled forward, my magic pounding away at its peddles faster than any pair of legs could hope to match.
I was dreaming about the girl when I woke up. It was a pleasant, drift-like waking, one of the ones where your eyes open up and you’re good for anything; in my case, it was almost anything. I noticed first thing that it was still dark outside. My eye, where her father had hit me, pounded the rat-tat-tat of a sharp pain into my skin. That brought things back rather snappily.
“Dammit, what were you thinking, Arthur,” I murmured. I had slept facing the the hallway and didn’t feel like being woken up when Alphonse got back in the morning. Being the future-thinking man that I am, I flopped round on my bed and faced the wall several centimeters from my nose. My mind chose the moment when I was ready to shut my eyes and have another try at sleeping to mark out an oddity: the hallway. Why could I see the hallway? Alphonse is visiting his parents this weekend. Last night, I came in the door. I closed the door. Why is the door now open? I probably just didn’t shut it right. No, wait.
That made no sense.
At least, that’s what I thought was the case when the hall lights, which are on a timer and weren’t due until six, popped on. I could suddenly see the shadow of my head distinctly plastered in front of me. Something was majorly off, so I turned round again to face…an empty hallway with the lights gone out and my door shut. I wondered what the hell was going on - exactly those words. I know that’s what I was thinking because then a voice from behind my head, where my desk is, answered. “What on earth would be a tad more appropriate. Things don’t progress in hell as they do here, after all.” I admit it, I pissed myself. The voice was clear but in an odd sort of way, like an elderly narrator of a documentary - artificially clear.
I jumped to a conclusion. It was the wrong one. This would not be my first time.
“I didn’t know how old your daughter was, I’m sorry. Listen can’t we just-“ The voice started chuckling.
“I don’t have a daughter. My, you do wake rather strangely for one with such a great future,” came the voice from the dark. “As my first bit of advise, never make a decision before breakfast, unless there is a very good reason.” The way he had said reason made me pause for a moment. It’s not that I remembered it; it was so distinct and clear. However, the fact that this man had no reason to be here was slightly worse than having one.
“So, what do you want with me? Can I turn round?” I asked. I stumbled over the words a tad because my urine started making me feel cold. For the record, you would probably have pissed yourself too, so don’t judge. I heard a muffled cough and then he - I think it was a he - answered.
“I truly do hate to give you knowledge and then immediately demonstrate the exception, but this is a waking upon which you shall have to make a very significant decision.” He coughed again. If he was old, as old as he sounded anyway, I might be able to overpower him.
“And what decision is that then?”
“Ah, well, you see, it’s more of a matter of life and death.” I knew it. I knew it. He was going to kill me.
“Life and death?”
“You have to decide whether you are going to come with me or stay here. I’m Merlin by the way.” Okay, Merlin. This was a joke. Another stupid joke to play on Arthur Pendragon. I calmed down a bit. He wasn’t here to kill me, just to mess with my head. I decided to play along and tear the shit out of whoever planned this. Merlin. I bet it was Markus, the sod.
“Well then, Merlin,” I asked as bitterly as I could, “are you going to kill me if I stay here?” He took in a sharp breath. It surprised me; it sounded almost sincere. Maybe it wasn’t Markus. Maybe this guy was just a looney who heard my name at a pub or something. Maybe he could still be dangerous.
“Perish the thought, boy.” He sounded legitimately angry. Scenarios of running from an insane man through the dorms began running through my head. “I would never kill you. Perish the bloody thought.”
“Oh, so what happens if I stay?” I asked. I needed time to plan how the hell I’m getting out of this situation. That’s what I started thinking about.
“Fleeing from me won’t help me. I instructed you to perish the thought.” Unfortunately, I kept thinking. I told myself that the old man had just made a lucky guess. Then he said, “I can read your thoughts, boy.” Then I thought, oh shit, maybe he can. This girl from school, Alison, came to mind. We’d always made fun of her for believing in psychics and mysticism until she was seventeen. That’s when the old man clinched it for me. “No, that girl is completely daft, but it is unbefitting that one of your station should mock a daft girl in any case.” I decided he was legitimate. I shut up and listened, trying to keep my mind completely clear of any thoughts. He continued. “I desire earnestly to save you. The people that mean to kill you shall arrive a few moments from now. Either come with me, or don’t. As I said,” he paused, “it’s your decision.”
I heard him storm off toward the door and open it- the dark didn’t seem to trouble him much. He muttered something and the entire ceiling in the hallway lit up - as in the entire ceiling, not just the lights- which was all the evidence I needed to decide that going with this man, ‘Merlin,’ probably would have more pros than cons. That and I also decided I was either dreaming or high. In those situations I tend to go with my gut.
So, covered in piss, I got out of bed and followed the little man, whose features remained hidden from me as my eyes took in the light.
Next Part in 36 Hours