This week’s #writephoto prompt is
Arthur Undertaker stood by the lake edge, pulling the thin cloth around his little belly and shivered. He was cold, hungry, his knees reminded him of his excess weight, he wished he’d insisted on shoes and he wanted to scream. To his right Merlin shuffled his feet.
I hope his bunions are playing up, thought Arthur sourly. Why did I listen to the silly sod? He’s never been right yet, at least not since he lost a third of his small intestine to complications following experimenting with his Solstice Wassail, which turned out to be a rather anaemic raspberry and mistletoe cappuccino.
The wizard, whose robes were at least made of woad dyed wool and had to be more effective than the flax shroud Merlin insisted Arthur wear at keeping out the bitter wind took a step into the water before squealing and leaping out. ‘Shit!’
‘Cold?’ Arthur couldn’t stop the sneery tone.
‘It’s October, you Pillock. What do you expect?’ Arthur scanned the deserted lake, the few ripples a sign of the sharp breeze and not any upraised body part. ‘Where the bloody hell is she?’
Merlin hunched into his tunic. It might be warm but it itched to all buggery. ‘She doesn’t work regular hours.’
Arthur had had enough. He rounded on the skinny little runt. ‘It’s a Lady’s prerogative, is it? I thought you were meant to summon her.’
Merlin wobbled his head, his expression betraying some uncertainty. ‘The runes aren’t that precise.’
‘When you say not that precise, what sort of margin for error are we talking about?’
‘That’s it, in a nutshell. It’s not really about margins, more like it’s thematic.’
Arthur had just about had it. The cold was so intense that he was sure his gonads were now officially cryogenically preserved. ‘You told me that today all the signs pointed to her ladyofthelakeship being about to put in an appearance and we needed to be here in order to claim the throne.’ He shook his head. ‘I should have listened to Mrs Jeroboam when she said no good ever came of the second pasty.’
Merlin adopted his most irritating wheedle of a voice. ‘Just a few more minutes, my liege Lord. All we need is a sign…’
At that moment there was a bubbling and belching and a fat rough hewn pole burst to the surface. The two men stared as the log turned in a slow circle, hesitated, backtracked and then headed for them. It pulled up alongside where they stood, just a couple of feet away and bobbed in the swell.
Merlin could barely contain his excitement. ‘Go on. Pull it out. That’s it!’
‘Me? I’m not going in there in this get up. There’s no way I want my dingly bits being mistaken for novelty ice cubes.’
‘But you’re the chosen one. You’re Arthur, King of the Britons. You’re…’
‘I’m the numpty who believed you. I’m Arthur, acting manager of Acme Trinkets. Anyway, since when is that waterlogged piece of dowling the sword of power.’
Merlin frowned. ‘I always wondered at the translation, you know. It didn’t say sword, not exactly.’
‘Thematic, was it? Sort swordish shaped, rather than your pointy piece of worked steel.’
‘Hang on, I’ll just…’ Merlin stretched out a hand, stumbled, cursed and fell into the water. Arthur watched impassively. Serve him right, he thought. Saves me pushing him in.
The wizard emerged, holding the pole and waded to the shore.
Arthur goggled at him. He was dry and sort of glowing. The words “infused with power” popped into Arthur’s head. ‘Er you okay? You look kind of weird.’
Merlin squeezed his free hand into a fist. He felt… fabulous. Warm, powerful and… gorgeous. He blinked. Gorgeous? Okay, not what he was expecting but he’d run with that.
His attention was drawn to the pole. The words ‘staff of authority’ came to his mind and he looked at the shimmering stave. In gold letters the word “CALIBUR” were branded into the side in a fancy gold font.
Merlin understood. The Lady had given him the Rod of Supremity. He was The Authority. There was nothing ex about this calibur. It was the real deal.
He looked at Arthur, The Man who would be King and wondered if, maybe, he could be tempted to accept a lesser role. Serf, maybe, working up to sion. No, he didn’t have the humility. Merlin raised his Sceptre Of Despair at Arthur.
The porky little man quivered for a moment, let go a surprised ‘bollocks’ and disappeared into a cloud of smoke before re-emerging as a white mouse. Mouse and All-Powerful Terrifying Demi-God exchanged looks. ‘Pub?’ Inquired Merlin.
‘Why not?’ Squeaked Arthur.
‘Need a lift?’
Arthur nodded. Merlin scooped him up and eased him into his top pocket. The mouse nodded at the Mace of Malevolence. ‘I don’t expect you’ll have to pay, will you?’
Merlin smiled. Things were looking up.