This confrontation with Mara left Merlin a lot to think about. Somehow he was going to have to un-hypnotize the king, release Arthur from the dungeons and then escape. Thinking about it was one think but doing it was another. He puzzled over what he was to do for sometime until the guards at the door brought in some lunch. This gave Merlin an idea.
“Umm…the prisoner, in the dungeons, is he fed?” Merlin asked innocently. The guard grunted and Merlin took that as a no, “Then may you take him some of the left over food from my lunch to him?” The guard grunted again and Merlin took that as a yes. The guard went out the door and Merlin put his plan into action. He found a quill and scroll of paper and scribbled a message for Arthur on it. He then proceeded to stuff the letter in to a roll of bread and gave it to the guards who then took it to Arthur.
Arthur sat in the dungeon, hungry, cold and furious with Merlin who was probably at this very moment enjoying a luxury room and a feast. He glared angrily at the opposite wall at a small speck of dust as if it was Merlin himself. Suddenly there was a clicking of locks at the door and it swung open to reveal a guard with a plate of food. Arthur eyed the door but there was no escaping as the guard quickly set the plate down on the floor and locked the door again. Arthur got up and reached over to the plate.
There was a meagre bread roll sat on it looking like a mushroom. Arthur grabbed the roll and bit into it ravenously. It tasted strange…like paper! He looked at the half eaten roll in his hand and saw an edge of a scroll poking out of it. Curiously he took out the parchment and discovered that it was a letter from Merlin.
I have a plan. This one’s going to work I promise! I’ll get you released then come and meet me where they are keeping me. I’m afraid I don’t know where that is.
Arthur scowled. Not another Merlin plan! However, Arthur supposed, it was a plan never the less and if it involved getting him released from this confounded cell then it was probably a good one. He stuffed the letter into a pocket and attacked the remainders of the roll. The tiny roll wasn’t very satisfying. Merlin had better hurry up and get him out of here or he was going to throttle him.
Merlin had promised Arthur in the letter to get him released so he kept to his word and ordered the guards to bring him his “manservant”. They told him that they had been ordered not to comply with this but Merlin did manage to get them to ask permission from the king. It seemed that the Mara was away on business and the king was in a good mood so when they returned they had Arthur with them. Merlin marvelled at how easy it was to manipulate the guards but they seemed kind of scared of him. Perhaps Princes of England were highly renowned in these parts.
He was sitting, legs on table and leaning back on a chair when the door flew open and Arthur was thrown in. Merlin jumped and fell backward off the chair. Arthur laughed at his servant clumsiness and offered a hand down to him.
“Well, even though I’m dreading it, what’s the plan?” Arthur asked as Merlin brushed himself down.
“Mara’s a sorceress.” Merlin said simply. He knew it was all he had to do to get Arthur’s attention and seriousness. Arthur gaped.
Arthur rubbed his head and began pacing up and down the room.
“She’s using magic to hypnotize the king. Arthur she’s mad! She wants to take over the world…”
“The world.” Arthur stopped dead, “Is this a joke?”
Merlin shook his head.
“We need to get to the king and hold Mara off long enough for the effect of the magic to wear off. Remember in the courtroom when Mara took him away? He wasn’t sure what was going on. The hypnotizing must have been wearing off him then!”
Arthur sat down heavily on a chair.
“This is all to much! Someone trying to take over the world! That only happens in stories!”
Merlin had to admit this was true. Mara must have lost her mind to want something so preposterous.
“Whether it only happens in stories or not it’s happening now. Are you with me?”
“So we hold Mara off until the king is well enough to send her away or something?”
“How long would that take? We couldn’t hold her of for ever!”
“I don’t know. Could be a week could be five minutes. But it will probably be more towards the later as the effect wore of in the middle of our audience with the king and chances are that Mara hypnotized he king just before going into the hall.” Merlin pointed out.
“Yes…your probably right. Lets just hope so for our sakes. How are we going to get to the king though?”
“I can send a guard off to get some food, they seem sort of scared of me, and then you can knock the other one out?” Merlin suggested.
“Ok. But where is the king?”
“We’ll have to find him.”
“Merlin, we can just traipse around the castle of our own free will!”
“Well…we’ll just have to be careful. Besides if we go at night then there will be more shadows and less guards.”
“Since when did you get such good ideas?”
“Oh! I thought I was the one with the useless plans!” Merlin grinned his trademark grin.
“Well…I can’t belive I’m saying this…but I take it back.” Arthur said, obviously finding it hard to admit that this plan was a good one. Merlin laughed, “Shut up Merlin! When are we doing this?”
“This evening sometime?” Merlin said, stifling his chuckles.
“Right.” Arthur said, ignoring Merlin’s sniggers and going over to one of the wardrobes. He rummaged in the closet for a moment and found the kilt.
“Don’t ask me!”
“Lets hope that never sees the light of day again!” Arthur said eyeing the item as though it were a poisonous snake and replacing it back into the wardrobe.
Merlin ordered some more food for Arthur while the prince took a bath. When eventually evening fell they decided to put their plan into action.