A asked, “I just want to take a minute of your time to say I love your relationship with Merlin because of the awesome stories he shares.? Also, I have a question which I have pondered occasionally for the past 40 years.? Hopefully, Merlin will help with the answer.
Was Uther really that opposed to the use of magic and why?”
Merlin looked confused when I relayed this question but he seemed to take it seriously and think about his answer for almost a full minute. There was a light in his eyes when he resurfaced from wherever he’d been while thinking and that can mean either a very good thing or something that would suggest we all duck and take cover.
Merlin began his answer by saying, “Did you know they made a tv series and called it after me?”? He chuckled. “Wasn’t anything like me of course – I’m much more handsome – but it was rather fun to watch.”
He continued, “The answer to your reader question comes in two parts.”? He chuckled again, “My own tv series,” he said and grinned.? “But I digress. I can’t speak to the Uther being afraid in the tv series. That’s far from anything I ever did and it wouldn’t be fair to those who’ve lived and watched it. So why or even if the Uther in that Merlin TV show was afraid of magic or not isn’t for me to judge or describe.”
He stopped speaking for a few seconds and then, much more seriously, said, “Everybody wants magic if it applies to themselves.? Think about it.? How many times this week have you said, ‘I wish…’
He raised an eyebrow at me, “It could be anything. I wish I’d read that book or I wish I hadn’t had so much to drink. Or, I wish it would warm up. I wish he’d pick up his socks. No matter what you’re wishing for, you’re invoking magic.”
I felt a cold shudder run down my back. I had indeed wished for a new job this past week when things were crazy in the newsroom. I wondered whether he was listening or whether he could read my thoughts?
Merlin had continued talking and I tuned back in to hear him say, “The only time humans don’t want magic is when it’s being used against them. Ever hear somebody say, “I wish that team would lose. Or I wish he’d get lost or…” He let the last thought hang unspoken. He began again, “‘I wish’ is one of the most common things in your language so why…”
I took a chance and interrupted him. “You’re saying we love magic when we use it but not when somebody uses it against us.”
He gave me one of those “stupid-human” looks with a raised eyebrow and tight-lipped smile but simply said, “Yes.”
“So what about Uther?” I asked.
He didn’t respond but stared at the floor. Then with a lopsided grin, he said, “You do have a way of bringing up the damndest things. Well, let’s get that out into the open and be done with it.”? He took a deep breath and let out a sigh that could have set records for length and the depth of its sorrow.
In those days, I owed Uther a measure of allegiance for some other transactions we’d been working on.? And that horny old man got a look at Igraine and wanted her. He fell in love so bad it hurt him just to think about it.”? He chuckled and said, “Don’t ask where it hurt. This is a family show.”
After he’d controlled his laughter at his own joke, he continued, “I can’t say I’m proud of what I did to make that happen but it was something that had to be done to fulfill a prophecy.”
Merlin smiled softly, tilted his head and continued.
“Well, as I said, it was also that I owed Uther a debt and he decided he was going to collect it.? So yes, the stories about me turning him into the exact double of Igraine’s husband, Gorlois, The Duke of Cornwall (who was off fighting yet another battle)? are true.? And yes, he and Igraine did get it on. Quite passionately I understand. And yes, the product of that liaison was Arthur.? At least that’s what it was then,” he said.
“Then?” I asked. There was something in his tone of voice that indicated that word was out of place.
He stopped and looked at me curiously as if I’d revealed a secret he hadn’t wanted to be let loose.? He shook his head and ignored the question.
“Uther wasn’t afraid of my magic. He quite enjoyed the change and the time he spent as Gorlois or so he told me afterward,” said Merlin. “I can’t say he developed a fear after that but it’s possible. It wasn’t something I ever considered.”
Merlin thought for a few more seconds, shook his head and said, “No, I can’t say he was afraid of magic when I knew him. He might have been later after I’d left his court but…” Merlin left the thought unspoken. He closed his eyes, sighed and disappeared.
I put my pen down and wondered what memories this question had stirred up in that ancient man’s mind. And what was with his reaction to me asking, “Then?”? There had to be a story there. Maybe I shouldn’t wish for a new job after all.