The price of his mistake fully paid to the Lady, Merlin needed only his staff to reclaim his full power. Sitting in his favorite chair, holding it and himself motionless, he closed his eyes and repressed the happiness threatening to bubble up to ruin his concentration.
As the darkness settled in around him, every muscle in his body relaxed, his shoulders drooped, his chin rested on his chest and he slumped deeper into the chair. With his body relaxed and helpless, his spirit-mind began to lighten and float. He saw the slender tether of light reaching out of his body to his spirit-mind, tested it and understood it held firmly.
Knowing he could return to his body with a single thought, Merlin floated free.
He toured around the house slowly taking in every aspect of his modern life. The newly reappeared shelves full of old, leather-bound books made him smile; he loved each and every one of them. The well-ordered shelves were a high contrast to the stacks of magazines and news reports scattered everywhere and perched on every surface in the house. Paintings, mostly Rembrandts, filled every space that was not occupied by a bookshelf.
His spirit wandered from room to room. All were full of books, full of magazines and old newspapers. The only clean spot in the entire apartment was his massive old oak desk. Spotless and gleaming under ages of beeswax, the desk stood as a beacon in this ageless, experienced-crammed life of his.
With rising excitement, he expanded his consciousness to search for the hillside in Wales where he’d left his staff. Confused, he wandered up the hillside, then down and around and realized the tree and the staff were no longer there.
Merlin fought down a moment of panic, took a deep breath and relaxed the muscles that had tensed too much. He let his mind run further. Let it expand thinner and thinner searching out across Wales and then up into Scotland where the remnants of Celtic magic and fae were still strong. He searched around the Highlands and islands of the North where the fae were even stronger but found nothing.
Breathing deeply, Merlin relaxed even further and thinned out his energy, even more, to allow it to roll southward across the lowlands of the Scottish border and down into England.
A few seconds later he felt the spark, knew he’d found it and focused all of his energies to reach out and bring the staff to him.
He could tell the staff wanted to return to him, but it was bound and immobile.
A string of curses rolled off his tongue in the ancient, long-lost language of Babylon. He concentrated his energy to see where and what restrained his power.
“Bloody English,” he said out loud and his eyes opened wide. If anybody had seen these eyes, they would have staggered away with fear implanted forever in their minds from the anger and lightning reflecting Merlin’s soul.
The oak he had used as a resting place for his power was now somewhere in Portsmouth. He’d have to find it and manually take his power back.
Why did the English always complicate things he muttered to himself?
In his anger, he slammed back into his body and the resulting discharge of energy rattled everything in the cupboards, slammed all the doors shut, and pushed every painting askew. Every chair in the house rocked back and forth in a macabre dance.
He heard the door lock snick open.
Resigned to what he had to do, he stood.