Merlin had served as Arthur’s Sorcerer, advisor, and friend for many years since he watched the young boy pull the sword from the stone to become King. It had often been a challenge for the aging wizard. As a young boy, Arthur had an annoying tendency to become distracted almost daily and stray away from matters that should take priority for a king. In his youth, Arthur developed quite a fondness for the ladies and this nearly drove Merlin mad. Arthur would strut into the local tavern, do a quick inventory of the options, and promptly approach the maiden of his choice with some lame pickup line such as “how would you like to spend the night with the king?” Another favorite was, “would you like to come back to my cottage and see my sword?” Arthur was a good looking guy and more often than not he would find success–coaxing some clueless and desperate young girl to take him up on his offer for what he described as the “royal treatment.” 

 

It was much to Merlin’s relief seeing Arthur finally mature–growing out of his constant rotation of women to become a seemingly duty focused man aspiring to become a successful ruler. Once Arthur finally put the wild oats of his youth behind him, Merlin finally felt he had an opportunity to groom him into the King he was confident Arthur could be. Then Guinevere comes along. “My God Guinevere,” thought Merlin. “That spoiled rotten Scottish bitch. Of all the women in all the lands why did Arthur have to fall in love with her? Merlin knew Guinevere’s family–particularly her father. What a pretentious prick he was! King Leodegrance was a snobbish bore of a man who lacked the sense to saddle his own horse. Merlin had once traveled to Scotland after accepting an invitation to perform a magic show for Leodegrance’s 50th birthday party. The mere fact that Leodegrance would request him to attend–let alone participate–in such a ridiculous event was an insult to his trade. It was an utter slap in the face to ask a seasoned wizard to lower himself to the level of a sideshow attraction. Merlin had worked too hard to grow his trade and graduated out of making donkeys disappear and stupid coin tricks. He was a wizard for crying out loud! He mixed potions, cast spells, raised fogs, spoke to people in dreams–he didn’t want to go backwards to that street entertainer bullshit!  But the potion business had not been going well at the time–in fact Merlin was in the red on his bottom line. He had a large order of sleeping potion canceled at the last minute resulting in him losing his ass on a large supply of custom flasks he couldn’t unload. Leodegrance was offering a paying gig–embarrassing but paying nonetheless. Merlin reluctantly made the exhausting journey to Leodegrance’s palace and was immediately outraged upon arrival. Fully expecting to be the one to close the show, Merlin was infuriated to learn that he was the opening act for some halfwit bagpipe player from the highlands! Merlin had a great act planned too. He was going to open by appearing out of a cloud of smoke, followed up by a levitation, his famous coin in the duck egg trick, and several more. Each of these would serve as warmups for his final act–turning a volunteer from the audience into a goat. The show went spectacularly and the audience was blown away. They tipped pretty generously too and Merlin was feeling good about his chances of coming away with a decent payday. Taking a seat at a corner table, Merlin observed as the bagpipe player tortured his helpless instrument along with the ears of everyone in the hall doing pathetic renditions of My Lady the Sparrow and Stop Draggin’ My Cart Around. By the time the buffoon got around to Set My Dragon Free, Merlin was deep into his third cup of mulberry gin while feeling spry and boisterous. He shouted from his table a request for My Love, My Stallion, My Goodness knowing damn good and well the player couldn’t pull that off if he tried. Several of Leodegrances bouncers approached his table threatening to toss him out of the hall–without payment–if he didn’t shut the hell up. Merlin was forced to sit–sulking and sipping his gin. Another fellow–a drunk squire from some village outside of Dunbar was tossed for yelling “you suck” right in the middle of Set My Dragon Free. Merlin thought this fellow was justified and would have gladly bought him a drink had he been allowed to stay. Once the horrific sound of the dying pipes finally ended, the food was brought out and Merlin was starving. Of course the King and all his court were allowed to attack the royal buffet first while the remainder of the attendees stood idly by and salivated. “Bunch of damn hogs,” thought Merlin. I swear if they eat all of the smoked lamb I’m gonna go to somebody’s ass!” Standing in line, Merlin moved along at a snail’s pace watching the steaming tray of smoked lamb get smaller and smaller. He kept watching the kitchen door hoping the cooks would bring more, but they didn’t. “That Leo is a real cheap bastard,” Merlin mumbled. “I’m going to be stuck eating seasoned pigeon again just like the last party!” Merlin hated pigeon–no matter how it was cooked. The best pigeon he ever tasted was his aunt Junay’s pan fried with moss and mushrooms, but even it wasn’t great. Merlin felt eating a bird that shits all over everything was for people without means–not those attending royal birthday parties. Leo was a real asshole for even serving it! 

 

Merlin’s eyes lit up when he finally reached the smoked lamb and saw there was one remaining piece on the tray. Just as he was about to stab it with his fork, a well dressed teenage girl cut in line in front of him and snatched the last piece right out from under his nose. 

“Dragon balls!” he swore at the girl. The entire hall seemed to go silent. It startled the lady behind him so much that she spilled her plate full of oat bread and kale down the side of his robe. The girl mocked him with her facial expression and then rolled her eyes. “You took the last piece of lamb! I’ve been waiting for almost an hour to get up here and you took the last piece! Dragon balls!” Again the bouncers approached and Merlin knew he was in trouble. 

“Who are you to speak to Princess Guinevere in such a way?” the larger one demanded. Merlin gulped hard and realized he should have kept his mouth shut. 

“Yeah,” the girl snapped trying to add to the tension, “how dare you speak to me that way!” Merlin knew he had to find a way to de-escalate the situation or he was going to get his ass kicked and not get paid. 

“I’m sorry,” he said, swallowing his pride. “It’s too much gin talking, plus this idiot behind me spilled food on my robe!” He turned to look at the chunky middle aged woman behind him. “Are you blind?” The bouncers continued to eyeball him for a moment then led Guinevere away to her table along with the last piece of smoked lamb. Merlin breathed a sigh of relief and reluctantly stabbed a piece of pigeon and potatoes onto his plate. 

“That Guinevere is one spoiled rotten little tramp,” the man in front of him whispered. 

“Tell me about it,” Merlin replied, gritting his teeth. “I can tell she thinks her knickers don’t stink!” 

“You don’t know the half of it,” the man added. “She goes through men like greased squirrel through a man’s bowels.” He laughed, but Merlin was not amused. He was still fuming over opening for the bagpipe player, missing out on the smoked lamb, and the added insult of having oat bread all over his best robe. The trip to Leo’s castle had been a miserable experience. Adding even more insult to his visit–Leo stiffed him on part of bill for the humiliating magic act he was requested to perform! 

 

One can imagine Merlin’s irritated mood when Arthur informed him he was engaged to be married. He knew Arthur would never be the type of man who could function in a marriage, but the added thorn in his side was that Arthur was engaged to none other than Leo’s lamb stealing bitch of a daughter–Guinevere! Merlin took off his hat and rubbed his temples while Arthur sat there all smiles and giddy! 

“Arthur,” he paused and then resumed, “you are a moron. I know you are the King and can do whatever you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re a moron!” Arthur had a look of disbelief upon hearing his old friend and mentor say such a thing. 

“But I love her,” he argued. “She’s beautiful. She’s also from a wealthy family. It would firm up our alliance with Scotland and make the kingdom stronger.” Merlin eyed him over the flickering candle of his potion shop. 

“You know it’s bullshit like this that makes me wish I was still cooking up anti-aging elixirs in my cave back at Moss Creek!” Merlin shook his head. “No kingdom was ever made stronger by marrying a woman like Guinevere!” Merlin was tempted to call her a bitch, but spared the young King’s feelings. “I implore you not to go through with this. You are going to regret it. This woman is bad news! Trust me on this one. Have I ever steered you wrong?” Arthur shrugged his shoulders. 

“What does that mean?” Merlin said, mocking Arthur’s shrugging response. “I was the one who told you to pull on that sword! If not for me you’d still be saddling Gawain’s horse! This woman is going to be the ruin of you! She’s going to cheat on you–mark my word!” He looked at Arthur and knew the young King had turned a deaf ear to him. “Fine!” he said with a tone of surrender in his voice. “You want to marry this spoiled bitch, you go right ahead and do it. Just don’t come crying to me when she does you wrong! You’ll wake up one morning and find a note that she ran off with the gardener or some handsome young up and coming knight.” Arthur appeared to happily disregard Merlin’s warning and started to get up and leave. “Oh Arthur,” he said, “one other thing.” 

“Yes old friend,” Arthur said, stopping at the door. “What is it?” 

“I have one request for your wedding. Two actually.” 

“Sure thing,” Arthur said. 

“I would like for you to get this bagpipe player from Scotland to provide the music,” Merlin said, “and also–this is most important–serve plenty of damn roasted lamb!” 

“Consider it done,” Arthur said, giving his friend a thumbs up. 


Submitted: October 12, 2022

© Copyright 2023 Michael Chad Cleary. All rights reserved.

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Comments

jaylisbeth

Fantastic story! Loved the cheesy pick-up lines, too by the way lol. Well penned

Wed, October 12th, 2022 4:17pm

KateWrites

I found this to be really funny, laugh out loud funny in several places. What I really like is how the modern day language contradicts the historical setting - that really adds to the humorous effect. I find the idea of smoked lamb quite intriguing. Would love to know how that tastes. This Scot actually enjoys the bagpipes, although can fully appreciate the agony when they are butchered! ;)

Only one thing that I would suggest you change and that's Merlin's home location of Moss Creek - I associate creeks with North America. If you want to keep it water based, I would suggest something like Moss Tarn or Moss Lake. Seriously, this is a really witty piece Michael, great work!

Wed, October 12th, 2022 6:36pm

Author
Reply

So in Scotland they don't use the term creek or they don't typically name places after them? Here in the US we have all kinds of places named something Creek. I will admit that my original idea was to call it Moss Ness but I backed off because it just sounded kind of dumb. As always I appreciate the objective critique!

Wed, October 12th, 2022 1:52pm

HOUDINI

Even being a powerful Wizard has its up and downs in this tale. Royalty and snobbery are two side of the same coin. And even Kings, just like common mortals are their own worst enemies.
Good story, well told,

Wed, October 12th, 2022 6:42pm

Author
Reply

I appreciate you reading. This was a bit outside of what I would normally write. I have been trying to broaden my work a bit just to have some fun.

Wed, October 12th, 2022 1:44pm

KateWrites

Yeah, we don't have creeks (well we probably do, but they'll have a different name). A tarn tends to be a pool of water at the top of a hill. I think you're right not to have used Moss Ness as Ness is the name of the body of water and is probably too famous. You could use Loch, Scottish for Lake or Inver i.e. Inver Moss which is Scottish for Mouth of the river. But Merlin's probably in England, right?

Wed, October 12th, 2022 9:00pm

Author
Reply

Yes Merlin lived in England/Britain--who really knows where. He only traveled to Scotland for the birthday party. That sounds even more absurd when I say it!

Wed, October 12th, 2022 2:04pm

KateWrites

Yeah, we don't have creeks (well we probably do, but they'll have a different name). A tarn tends to be a pool of water at the top of a hill. I think you're right not to have used Moss Ness as Ness is the name of the body of water and is probably too famous. You could use Loch, Scottish for Lake or Inver i.e. Inver Moss which is Scottish for Mouth of the river. But Merlin's probably in England, right?

Wed, October 12th, 2022 9:00pm

KateWrites

:D Well, in that case when, in Rome... er, Scotland. You know, I can't help but imagine the Disney version of Merlin during this whole communication, which just makes it funnier.

Wed, October 12th, 2022 9:12pm

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