How dare she! After everything he has done for her, after all she has learned from him, could she betray him like this? He attempts to clench his fists, but he cannot move and his anger intensifies. He takes a deep breath and tries to compose himself like he was taught to do, but then her ebony hair and sky colored eyes are before him again and hate takes hold of his mind.

He can still feel the imprint of that accursed ring on his finger. She'd slipped it off the moment he woke from the drug-induced sleep, incapacitated and confused and just knowing that Arthur was in danger. At the thought of Arthur, anger gives way to worry, and he tries to bite his lip - a long-standing bad habit - before remembering that he is paralyzed, but the fear for Arthur allows him to quell the burst of irrationality and think clearly. Vivien gave her word and in spite of everything she has lied about, something in his gut tells him that she will keep it. If Arthur survives, he can take care of the kingdom, he tells himself, and he has the rest of the Round Table by his side.

He counts to twenty until he is calm and his thoughts turn back to the traitorous witch. He narrows his eyes (well, he can't actually narrow his eyes, but it's the thought that counts) and his resolve hardens. When he gets out - and he will get out - Vivien will get her due.

As the months bleed into years, and the decades become centuries, he cannot stay angry at her. In the beginning, he had been livid, had sworn that when he was free, he would hunt her down - bring her back from the dead if he had to (though he doubted it would be necessary; she had always been clever, and had probably found a way to stay alive this long) - and he would make her suffer as he had.

Yet as time passes, he realizes the only one to blame is himself. Her charm, wit, and sheer magical prowess had fooled him, and he had failed to see the darkness in her heart - or rather, her lack of one - eager as he was to make up for the mess he had created with Morgana. He had tried on the ring without question, accepting it as a going-away present, even though he knew she had been disappointed when he refused to teach her more. She is far more similar to Morgana than he let himself believe, he realizes. When she struck, he knows he should not have been as surprised as he was.

But regardless of all that she hid from him, he knows her well. Her arrogance has grown with her power; he can move now, but the magic still refuses to come, lingering at the edge of his mind. After all these years - he has lost count, though he knows he has been trapped for a very long time - he only has to wait a little longer, as she becomes more and more careless, and then he will be free.

He flexes his fingers, more rested than he was even before she betrayed him. He has done a lot of sleeping in his coffin, of a sort. What else is there to do? Staying awake for the entire duration of his confinement would drive him mad. When the time comes to leave this prison - and it is soon, he can tell - he will do it with his mind and body intact, nothing less - otherwise she would win, wouldn't she? And so - for the last time, his instincts tell him - he takes a deep breath and closes his eyes, slipping into slumber once again.

He gasps and his eyes fly open, knowledge flooding his mind and power permeating his body. He flings his arms out, and this time, they do not crash into the walls. Instead, the stone shatters like glass, and he breathes fresh air for the first time in who knows how long.

The wind is damp and the sky is cloudy with mist, but he waves his hand, his euphoria rising again as he savors the power, and it dissipates. He steps forward and the light blinds him. After a millennium in the coffer, he has forgotten what the sun feels like.

He is next to the lake, where the water is glistening like a shield of silver, and the mountains loom on either side. the castle is gone, of course. Vivien probably destroyed it before she left. There is a road far away, but it is black. He pays the strange color no attention, instead closing his eyes and inhaling deeply reveling in the invigorating feeling of freedom. He is still grinning stupidly, exhilarated, because after all the time he's spent dead to the world, he is free.

A/N: I know, it's really choppy, but I decided what the heck and here it is. Feel free to point out any mistakes - I had to type up everything because copy and paste wouldn't work. Also, the cover picture is a merlin (or falco columbarius).

Most of the information is taken directly from Howard Pyle's The Book of Three Worthies, but I changed the story so that Merlin teaches Vivien a bunch first, and then she gives him the ring and he shows her all the highly classified magic. Also, obviously, Merlin gets out in this one. I may follow this up with a story of longer length, but I haven't written anything yet.

Also, does anyone have any ideas for a new username? The current one is just a placeholder, but I can't think of anything, so it's been there for a year.

I've written around 5 short pieces, but I keep putting off editing them, so they remain unpublished.

So, uh... review, follow, favorite, check out my other stories - the works. (Also, has anyone noticed that I've given up trying to be modest and adding 'whoever actually reads this' or some variation; it's just too much work.) I can't figure out how to close this, so I'm ending it here.