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By Matthew Dentith

[3rd place in the Short Story Competition]

The room was full. There were stone walls covered in the Banner of the Council of Five, the new ruling force of the Kingdom of Camelot. On the circumference five seats were arranged at the apexes of a five-pointed star. Seated in these were the five ruling Lords; Mordred, the First, the Ruler; Duvrax, the Second, Mordred's Warmaster; Percavab, the Third, the Imperial Tax Collector; Iverast, the Fourth, the High Priest; and finally Laxid, the Fifth, the people's delegate - although as there had not been an official election yet, he was a Council delegate.

The Lords of Camelot sat and watched a holographic display in front of them. These men were judge and jury. Finally. when the display had ended. all eyes turned towards the centre of the room, to a raised dais. Its floor was pure white - in Arthur's day, it was a prison, used to show criminals to the jury. Now an innocent man stood on trial.

‘We, of the Council of Five, find you, Myrridin Emrys, known also as Merlinus Ambrosius, known also as Merlin the Royal Enchanter, guilty of treason. The charges are as follows: One; withholding information on the whereabouts of King Arthur, Lord of Pendragon. Conqueror of the Many Lands, Protector of the Commonwealth. Two; speaking against the Council of Five. Thirdly; causing rebellion in the lower caste. These charges which have been brought against you are irrefutable. Do you have anything to say against these charges. Myrridin Emrys?’

The eyes of the public turned towards him. He was a youngish-looking man with long red hair. He wore a black robe, embroidered with symbols of the stars and the moon. His eyes were the only giveaway to show that he was far older than any man there. He spoke in a restrained voice.

‘No. I freely admit to speaking against the Council of Five. All of you are puppets of Morgaine. She is the Council. not you. You all bow and scrape to her; ‘Yes Morgaine, no Morgaine, three bags full. Morgaine. ‘Council’, I think not. And yes, I admit that I will not reveal Arthur's resting place. You'll find it soon enough. Let the dead rest.’

‘Arthur is not dead, Merlin. You of all should know that. Was it not you who said he would be an everlasting king?’

‘No, Morgaine, I did not say he would be an everlasting king. The bards said it. Arthur is a man. Men die.’

‘You do not die, Merlin. You don't even age. How can this be? Are you more than a common man? Why, you were born a peasant on a small planet in Mutters' Spiral.’

‘Morgaine, you do not know what you talk about. Finally, I admit that what I am going to do may cause revolt, but this is purely a reaction to your own harsh rule, and the loss of the King, a king killed by his own son!’

‘Silence, Myrridin Emrys. We are now to pass judgement. We find you guilty on all charges. Your sentence is exile. You must leave Camelot by sundown or you will be executed. This judgement is final. Do not attempt to return to your room, as we have destroyed all your property. You have been granted passage through the dimension gate, but you will never be able to return this way. Leave now.’

The white glow of the dais faded, and Merlin stepped down. Two guards came towards him. Their faces were blank.

‘What have you done to these men?’ Merlin asked angrily, emotion showing for the first time in the Trial Room.

‘These men have become better workers. They were once criminals, and now they have clean, clear minds with which to serve the people.’

‘Well, Mordred, having seen what you have done to the people of Camelot, I can see why you will never remove the resistance from these lands.’

At this, the two men hoisted Merlin up onto their backs and carried him out of the room.

‘Well, Merlin, you look most undignified, but then, you are not a court member any more, so this is how you will be treated. Farewell.’

‘I prefer Au revoir, Mordred.’

‘Au revoir? He has cursed me mother, he has cursed me...’

The two guards dumped him outside, and retreated to their hovel-like dens.

Merlin stood up, trying to look dignified. He shook himself to try to straighten his robe, but this only caused his finger cymbals to fall out. As he bent down to retrieve them, a slender young hand rested on his shoulder. Merlin looked up into Ancelyn's eyes.

‘Lord Merlin, I have heard grave news. Is it true you are banished from Camelot?’

‘Yes Ancelyn, it is true. And please, call me Merlin, not Lord Merlin. I am a commoner now.’

‘Merlin,’ Ancelyn said with difficulty. ‘Why do you hide King Arthur's whereabouts from us? We mean him no harm.’

‘You may not, Ancelyn, but others do. But worry not, you'll meet him again.’

‘You mean he is alive?’

‘I will not promise anything. Yet, even if Arthur be dead, his spirit lives on. Farewell, we'll meet again!’

‘We will? I mean, we will Merlin, we will!’

And so with this, the Doctor walked off into the night, off to see Arthur one last time, and then to educate him, twenty years earlier. He had promised Ambrosius a king to rule all fairly, and he, Ka Faraq Gatri, would deliver. Hadn't he seen the fruit of his labour already? As he thought this, he was swallowed up by the storm of dimension traversing. He travelled to Earth, to a warm fire and his beloved TARDIS. Time had told. Merlin was not dead, no, he was just being born.

This item appeared in TSV 34 (July 1993).

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