In his chamber Merlin sat in the dark and closed his eyes. Igraine had changed so much. She was a Christian now and could not see that she was worsening the situation in the country by trying to follow her beliefs, so alien to most of her people. Merlin just wished to leave Caer Llundain as Uther had renamed his capital of Londinium; escape into Wales and lose himself at Ector's castle which contained the incomparable joy that was Arthur. It would be Kay's knight making soon. But in truth, he just longed to see Arthur. Ah yes, Arthur, repository of so many dreams and hopes. Symbol of so much sacrifice and Merlin's sole link to Uther. Perhaps the time had come to relive those memories so that he could be free. He knew in his soul that the time for change was coming. Arthur was nearly of age and Merlin would have much to do; so many more battles to fight to ensure Arthur's inheritance and rightful place. To allow the old ways go down blazing; Celtic Britain last glorious days before the obscuring mists hid their mysteries and the Saxons drove the Celts back into Wales and the wastelands of Alban. It was time to let go of his doubts, fears and regrets. Time to let go of the places where he lost faith or cursed the path on which the Goddess had set him. Most importantly he needed to let go of his guilt for Uther's death, Igraine's sufferings and so many other people he had abandoned to bring Arthur safely into this world. He sighed like a child, and let his consciousness drift back and to allow the old scenes to play out. Starting form the point where his true destiny had become known to him: a young man in the hills above Caerfyddin prophesying for a dying king.

* * * * *

A guard from Uther's scouting party had caught him and demanded roughly "What do we have here?" Merlin protested vigourously to his treatment. "I've done nothing. Let me go. I'll curse you! I just want to go home." But the man dragged him before Uther and Blaize to 'tell his story' or, as he more realistically thought in such trouble-filled times, be condemned as a traitor to which ever side had caught him before he spoke a word. He found himself before a young man, with the red dragon on his tunic accompanied by an aged Druid. Arrogant in his youth and his power, Merlin had an urge to laugh at the idea of being judged and punished by someone scarcely older than him. Uther had a three year advantage over Merlin but that was all. It was clear Uther felt the situation to be incongruous as well and gave Merlin a rueful smile and Merlin responded. Blaize on the other hand, gave a jolt as if of surprise at seeing the boy. Druids always had the uncanny ability to tell truth from lie and to sense power. Merlin didn't hint of power, he reeked of it and Blaize had been searching for many years for the one named Myrddin or perhaps as Roman's influenced celtic names Merlin. Leaning forward, he eagerly asked. "Boy, tell me, do you ever have visions?" Merlin did laugh then. So many people interested in what seemed such a simple thing to him. From the disapproving looks he received, he realised that laugher was not an appropriate response to this man. In a clear voice, he answered. "Yes sir. I have had visions of things that are to come and such like. I believe they are called premonitions." Looking back Merlin marvelled at the cocksure arrogance of his younger self. He had no idea who this man was really, the most powerful druid then known, and so he thought he could get away with insolence.

Blaize frowned at the boy's laughter but leaned in more eagerly. Could this be the boy he was looking for? The boy with no father, destined to take on Blaize's role. "Tell me, boy." Blaize asked. "Do you have a father? What is his name and lineage?" Merlin, by now, was thoroughly bored of such questioning and his reply was surly and impatient. "No, I have no father. Why is every one so fascinated with that detail?" Blaize rose to his feet more than slightly irritated by Merlin's offhand manner. "People are fascinated, boy, because I and probably others having been looking for you for a very long time." Blaize smiled coldly. "You are an eternal reincarnated soul, to do the Goddess' business. It's my job to teach you and it seems the first thing I must teach is manners." Merlin was too shocked at this news to hear the implicit threat there. "Why me? Why is everyone so interested in me?" "I think I just explained that. But further more because the prophesies say that the greatest druid would have no father and that I would train him. Furthermore, signs have indicated that you have been alive for awhile now." Blaize replied sternly, his smile became less cold. "I'm very glad to have found you. Your education will begin tomorrow and you will be joining the party. Uther, Is there a spare horse any where for him." Uther flashed his quick smile at Merlin but turned a polite face to Blaize. "No, but he can ride with me." Hr frowned a moment. "Are you sure of this, Blaize?" Blaize turned his cold frown on Uther. "Of course, your Highness." Uther gave in proceeded to haul Merlin up behind him. Leaning back, Uther whispered. "What's your name?" "Merlin," came the reply. "I pity you Merlin,then. Blaize is a hard task master." Merlin groaned in response. "Don't worry." Uther whispered. "I'll help you escape him." He considered the offer, head cocked to one side. "At least for awhile." He added.