Arthur and Parsifal are teenagers and Merlin is taking them to an abbey to find the secret of the holy grail (in a nutshell) ...
After Parsifal and Arthur made camp in a dry patch of the bog, they gathered kindling. Merlin pointed his staff at the pile of branches and asked Arthur, “Are you ready for some amusement?” Arthur smiled, took the flint and steel from his tinderbox and at Merlin’s cue, struck it together. Merlin invoked, “Fire from rock, sky and water, hit the dead fairyless tree. By oak, ash and thorn, so mote it be.” With the sudden bright smell of a blackening candlewick and the crackling popping sounds of large bright sparks, the pile of branches vibrated and stirred and then exploded into fire.
“How’d you do that?” Parsifal marveled.
Merlin ignored him.
“I would like to know that trick. What did you do?”
Merlin finally explained, “Just a bit of charged ether. That’s all.”
Parsifal looked confused. “What’s that?”
Merlin glared at the boy as if he were irritating.
Chuckling, Arthur retrieved a few sticks that had scattered from the explosion.
“Children are always so easily amused,” Merlin remarked to the rushes about him.
After the fire had burned down sensibly, Merlin placed three prize turnips carefully near the coals to begin cooking. Then he grabbed his belly and moaned. Arthur jumped up in alarm. “What!”
“What’s wrong?” Arthur grew worried.
“Am I poisoned?”
“What’s this displeasure? Ooooh! Toads and warts!”
“What do you feel?” Arthur asked.
“I feel horrible! A horse is kicking inside of me!”
Merlin lay on his side. “Methinks I’ll be torn to shreds!”
Arthur said, “Perhaps it’s your time to pass your bowels. Haven’t you been mortal long enough, this time around, to know all your body and its stirrings?”
Merlin didn’t answer, but cursed and hurried out into the dark woods, mumbling, “Toads and warts on dung goblin faces!” He was gone.
Parsifal asked Arthur, “He doesn’t even know his own body?”
“Nope. I guess not.”
“But he’s a great wizard. They say he’s as old as time and was once the land.”
Arthur shook his head. “He spends too much time in the Realm of Dragons. I’m not sure what that is. I just know that it’s not this world. He hates this world. He said it was a vile world of rot and dung. But he was called out by the Gods to tutor me to be King.”
“Are you sure?”
“That’s what he said.” Arthur looked off to where Merlin had disappeared. “And then he always finds an excuse to dart away, anyway. I wish he didn’t have to leave me like this in the night. It unsettles me to be in such an unhallowed place.”
Arthur nodded. “Aye.”
“This place?” Parsifal asked, looking about at the scattered clumps of rushes.
“They say the Romans killed Druids, bards, witches and ovates in great numbers, here, in this very bog.”
Parsifal huffed out his slim chest. “Oh, the dead can rot. I can protect any prince. Don’t be such a bobblelink.”