When Merlin woke he was lying flat on his back. There was something solid beneath him so he had obviously floated to dry land also the fact there was water lapping at his feet was a big give away. Wait a second! His feet! Merlin moved his head up to look down at his bare feet. He, it seemed, had lost his boots in the ocean during the storm but to be honest he couldn’t remember it all that well. The whole incident had been too surreal. Merlin was tempted to get up but he really couldn’t be bothered. He flipped his head like a pancake to his right to see were he was.
He was on a beach that was certain but where the beach was another matter entirely. He had no idea whether it was Scotland or England he was in. What’s more he couldn’t see anyone. He turned his head to his left. No one. He wondered where Arthur was, where he himself was and where the crew had ended up.
He knew he would have to find Arthur. It was probable that he had been washed up on the same beach but where along the beach was another question. Merlin stayed sprawled on the sand for a few more minutes, to tired to do anything but lie there. After a while he got up. Climbing gingerly to his feet, Merlin had a moment of dizziness before regaining his balance.
If you have ever been on a walk on a beach then you will know how tiring it is to trudge through the sand. This was what Merlin began to suffer from now. The sand had gradually turned into shingle, which cut his bare feet dreadfully. Also after a few hour of walking in the merciless sun he began to sweat and become hot and sticky. He became thirsty but finding no water apart from seawater he went on without drinking. He realized that perhaps even the potent rum on the Magnanimous would have been welcome right now. The future was looking pretty bleak.
Eventually, after going around a long stretch of sand that jutted out from the coast Merlin saw a figure of a person walking along the beach. The person was too far away for Merlin to tell who it was but at the prospect of finally finding someone he managed to pick up his pace. A few minutes later he could tell it was Arthur. A dishevelled, soggy and demoralized Arthur but Arthur none the less.
“ARTHUR!” Merlin shouted at the top of his voice as soon as he was in earshot. The figure turned around and came running up.
“Merlin! I’ve been looking for you for ages!”
“Where are we?”
“I don’t know.” Merlin admitted. The two men looked around for a moment trying to discern where they were from their surroundings.
“Have you seen any of the crew?” Arthur asked.
“Well there’s got to be a town around here some where. We’ll go that way. See if we can find anything.” Arthur pointed towards the main land. They set of together slowly. They were both tired.
At length they came to a small village. By this time it was round about nine o’clock at night.
“What now?” Merlin asked.
“Perhaps we could find an inn and get a room.”
“How can we afford a room? We haven’t got any money.?” This was true. All of their belongings had been lost in the sea and that included money. They didn’t have two pennies to rub together. Arthur gave Merlin a “don’t you know me at all” look and rolled his eyes.
“Merlin, I’m a prince. I can do what I like!”
“But we could be in Scotland!”
“So if they find out we’re English we’ll be killed or something!”
“Well…we might not be in Scotland.” Arthur sounded slightly less sure.
“Well there’s only one way to find out I suppose.” Merlin said. They searched the village and eventually found an inn. It was called the “Old Bagpipes” which clearly confirmed that they were indeed in Scotland.
“What now?” Merlin asked Arthur again.
“You’ve already said that.”
“Ok then. What next?!” Merlin said crossly. He wanted an answer.
“Can you do a Scottish accent?”
“No. Can you?”
“No. You try.”
“Och aye. I’m Merlin and you’re Arthur.” Merlin said in a poor excuse for a Scottish accent.
“That was dreadful.” Arthur said bluntly.
“Thanks. What now?”
“Will you stop asking me that?!”
Merlin looked at the ground crossly and shuffled his feet. If Arthur wasn’t going to answer him he was going to have to answer himself. They needed food and shelter and the only way they were going to get that was by paying for it. How did you get money? You worked for it.
“I’ve got a plan.” Merlin suddenly said.
“It had better not be like the last one!” Arthur said referring to the “go by sea” plan.
“We could be two mute servants who need a job to earn some money and get a room. I’ll be Merlin and you can be plain old Arthur. Don’t go flaunting your title around.”
“How can I flaunt anything if I’m a mute. Besides I’m never plain.”
“Well you can just be old then.”
Arthur threw Merlin a murderous look.
“Alright but when we do get a job you’ll be doing the work!” Arthur agreed and smugly waltzed into the inn, Merlin following crossly.
The tavern was thick with smoke from a hundred pipes being smoked by a hundred men. There was grime everywhere the eye could see and each table had at least five pints of beer on it. All eyes turned as Arthur and Merlin entered the doorway. Merlin wondered why they were staring at them. Perhaps as this was a small village every one knew each other and newcomers weren’t welcome.
Arthur seemed undaunted by the glares and strode over to the bar. The bar tender came over and Merlin realized Arthur was about to speak. Quickly he stamped on Arthur’s foot.
“OW! Mer-“ Arthur began furiously until Merlin clapped a hand over his mouth and pulled him away from the bar.
“We’re mute remember!” He hissed to Arthur as quietly as possible.
“That’s no reason to sta-“
“SHH!” Merlin released Arthur and went innocently back to the bartender. He did some clear hand signals and mouthed his words. The bartender seemed to understand.
“You want a job…” Merlin did some more hand signals, “…to get a room…for the night. Right ho.” The bartender clicked his large fingers and a small hunch backed man loped in from a side door, “These two mutes want a job in exchange for a room. Send ‘em to the stables.”
The hunched backed man grunted, grabbed Merlin and Arthur’s sleeves and pulled them roughly out side again. He ushered them to a stable around the back.
“Clean out the stables and then you can have room five.” The man said shortly and left.
“Right. Get on with it.” Arthur said when the man was gone and handed Merlin a broom.
“You’re helping to!”
“I told you I wasn’t didn’t I?”
“So, I’m not going to do anything whilst you are busy working.” Arthur promptly shoved Merlin into one of the stable sections and went to sleep on a bench. Merlin’s shoeless feet squelched horribly, in what he dreaded to think, was. Grumbling under his breath he viciously got on with mucking out the stable.
By the time he had finished it was nearly midnight and all the residents of the pub had gone. Merlin jabbed Arthur in the side with the broom and he woke up.
“Uhg! What’s that smell?!” Arthur looked Merlin up and down and wrinkled his nose.
Merlin also looked down at his filthy clothes that were covered in muck, “Ug…don’t come anywhere near me!” Arthur got up and hurried away from Merlin back to the inn. Merlin, wishing Arthur would one day acquire some manners and that he himself had a change of clothes followed him.
The innkeeper showed them to room five. Merlin was expecting it to be basic and was not disappointed. The room was boring and symmetrical. There were two small beds one on ether side of the room, a fireplace at the end and a few candles on the walls. Apart from that, nothing.
Arthur chose a bed and without a word slumped heavily onto it and fell asleep. Merlin was reluctant to do the same in his filthy rags and wondered if he could find himself anything else to wear. He went on a search of the room to see if previous residents had left anything behind. He wasn’t in luck and found nothing. Then being to exhausted to do anything else he also slumped down onto his bed and fell asleep.
That night he had a dream. Well more like a nightmare.
He dreamt that he was standing on a huge cliff with an endless precipice. There was a strong wind blowing but he didn’t move as it battered and buffeted him. In fact he couldn’t move at all. The experience of being paralysed to the spot was unnerving. Suddenly someone, he didn’t know who, came running up behind him and bombed into him, knocking Merlin of the cliff.
He fell and fell and fell and fell some more. Suddenly Merlin jolted awake to find himself on the floor of the room. He wondered why he was there for a moment but he didn’t have to wonder for long.