4 July 2023
Quote for today: “It is often that the strangest occurrences… occur.”
We reached the small trail leading to the rock and ran out of the cab. We arrived at the boulder after a minute. Press and reporters from media outlets jumped on us the moment they saw us. Paris, Bjorn and I hurried past the rally of reporters and checked our instruments. We could see it with our eyes, but it was so spectacular that we had to recheck them.
The rock had turned into an auroral carousel of vibrant colours. It was well past evening, but colours across the visible spectrum dashed across the velvet sky like a laser show. Strange runes and stranger shades enlightened the night sky; the strangest sounds penetrated the ambience. I could hear a reporter joke in the distance:
“I have never seen a more stupid 4th of July celebration in the United Kingdom.”
Our instruments showed that the rock was changing its chemical composition, and then suddenly, everything went haywire. The cameras and lights of the media went out. There was complete cacophony and darkness in the Trossachs - except for the stone, which turned into glass and spewed out pure light. Then, silence - the rock dematerialised, and a cave could be seen behind it.
Paris said, “I think I see a man.”
The silhouette of a man could be seen walking out of the cave. Paris’ curiosity could be smelled from afar; Bjorn was afraid; I checked if my instruments were working. And strangely enough, I felt a bit dizzy and had a sudden headache.
The night had lost its lustre; the air had lost its voice. Silence and tension were stretched as thin as a tightrope. The silhouette came closer and closer to us. The lights of the press and media had died away. The stars and the full moon revealed him to be a bearded man, tall and wide, dressed like a wizard from the legends.
He smiled serenely. His eyes bespoke wisdom and age. His gaiety reminded one of a statesman. He spoke softly, “Hello, I am Merlin.”
His words were followed by sudden silence, then by cacophony. The reporters leapt upon him and started asking him a million questions. But the wizard maintained his calm composition. He went past the communion of reporters and observed me. I felt as if he could see through my soul. He walked towards me and told me, “Please get me out of here.”
Paris, Bjorn, and I ran down the hill. Merlin hovered beside us. We reached our cab, but strangely, the cab lights had turned off too, but the full moon guided its way. It was two minutes before we arrived at Inversnaid Hotel. It was the strangest two minutes of my life. Paris was bubbling with her ever-present curiosity and chatted with Merlin. The first question she asked him was, “Are you kidding?”
Merlin replied, “No, I am not.”
Paris said, “Cool, at least it’s not a prank. Not every day do you find a radiating sedimentary rock in the middle of a mountain range which turns to glass and vanishes.”
Merlin laughed and said, “Ha, I like you, young lady. I mean, I knew I would like you. But, well, you don’t understand things before they happen.”
Paris curiously said, “Can you see the future like in the stories?”
Merlin replied, “Yes, I can see anything from the past, present, and future - everything that has happened, everything that is happening, and everything that could happen.”
Paris quipped, “It must be weird sometimes.”
Merlin laughed again and said, “It’s weird all the time.”
Paris, still curious, asked, “What were you doing inside the cave, though? And, what was the rock all about?"
Merlin said, “Ah, that… I’ll tell you about that later.”
The cab stopped. We went over to the hotel desk and got our keys. The woman at the reception desk stared at our party while we got into the elevator. It was out of order, so we headed for the stairs. We had booked two rooms in the hotel - one for me and Bjorn (Room 301) and another for Paris (302). Merlin told us he would explain everything when we got to the hotel. It was dark - the electricity was off. Thankfully, I don’t know why or how, I had a couple of large candles in my bag. I lit them up and huddled into Room 301 to listen to his tale.
Bjorn said, “So, you are Merlin?”
Merlin quipped, “I hope so.”
I asked, “I have never seen anything like that, ever. What on earth was that?”
Merlin replied, “Well, to tell a long story short - my exile just ended.”
Bjorn, the mythology undergraduate, realised something and said, “Wait, wait, wait - I think - I think I get it. So you were trapped in the cave by Nimue?”
Merlin sighed and replied, “It would be better to show than to tell.”
Suddenly, the hotel room of Inversnaid started transforming into a lush pine forest. The bed and the cupboard were transfigured into montane trees. The roof dissipated into an azure sky, and the floor turned into a trail. The chairs we were sitting on turned into stumps of cut trees.
Merlin said, “I can project images of anything in anyone’s mind - I call it image projection."
Paris, humour incarnate, quipped again, “You have a penchant for creative superpower names.”
I stood up and looked around in confusion to spot where Merlin’s voice was coming from.
“Don’t search for me,” his voice said, “now, follow the man and the lady coming down the path. Don’t worry. They can’t see you.”
And sure enough, a man and a woman came down the path. The woman wore a maroon gown, and the young, bearded man was dressed in a strangely modern attire of shirt and jeans.
“Wait,” said Paris, “I think I’ve seen that man before. Those eyes look familiar.”
“That’s me,” said Merlin, “and the lady in the gown is Ninian.”
Paris had wonder in her eyes. Bjorn smiled but then sighed. I couldn’t understand what was going on. Bjorn said, “I can see where this is going.”
“Wait,” I said, “I think I recognise this path.”
Paris quipped, “Of course you do.”
I asked, “What do you mean?”
She smiled and said, “You’ll see.”
Presently, the young man and the woman stopped in front of us. The man said something to the woman in an unknown language and turned around. He snapped his fingers, and suddenly, a cave materialised. I recognised the cave, remembered the legends, and then realised what was about to happen. Merlin and Ninian entered the cave, and we followed them. We entered a room, or, for lack of better words, a vault inside the cave. Gold, diamonds, jewels, elegant clothes, precious stones, and antique items were arranged in the vault. And in its centre, there was a designer bed. Merlin and Ninian sat on the bed, and he told her something and tried to kiss her. Ninian furiously pushed him back. Enraged, she yelled at him in ancient Anglo-Saxon and rushed out of the cave. Merlin followed her, but she summoned a massive boulder and blocked the cave’s entrance, locking Merlin inside. He waved his hands and tried to move the boulder by magic, but he couldn’t. Dejected, Merlin came back and sat on the bed and wept.