If you think you know Merlin, it may be time to meet The Camelot Kids’ Merlin.
He’s a hair over 7-feet-tall.
His torso pushes 4-feet-wide.
He’s 3276 years old.
He’s not a people person.
Merlin’s love of England is the force behind his immortality. He won’t rest until the prophecy of King Arthur‘s return comes to pass. Now, as he senses danger surrounding his beloved New Camelot, Merlin gathers the descendants of the Knights of the Round Table. But since when was an army of teenagers a good idea? Merlin has defeated dark wizards, angry elves and dragons 145X his size. But can he handle The Camelot kids?
In this excerpt, Simon is on his butt, with his head between his knees. He’s been training with the notorious knight Hexter all morning and he feels like hurling. But when he raises his eyes he finds that the training arena is empty. A moment ago, it was teeming with teenagers, onlookers and about two dozen talky chickens.
Excerpt from The Camelot Kids
Simon stood quickly and lifted his training sword in front of him. He turned in circles for a moment, watching out for any movement. He had a sense that things weren’t right. Something dangerous was nearby.
“Who’s there?” He felt silly for talking to no one. It was probably teatime or something, and he’d passed out and missed everyone leaving. He imagined that they’d stepped over his unconscious body, laughing.
Merlin’s humongous shape emerged from the castle’s shadows. His stick click-clacked on the cobblestones.
“Put that thing down before you hurt yourself,” the wizard said.
Simon lowered his sword, but his instincts told him not to. Ever since the sword fight, when his muscles had done things they’d never done before, Simon felt heavy, wary. He saw the world as one big adversary.
“Where did everyone go?”
“Oh, I sent them home. It’s a clever little trick I picked up in India.” Merlin’s eyes lit up. Simon could almost hear the smile in the old man’s words. “You did well today.”
“Yeah. I was real chivalrous.”
“What’s wrong with you?” In an instant, Merlin had turned combative again.
“Nothing… My dad once said that praise from Merlin had a price.”
Merlin chuckled. Simon’s gut relaxed a little. The wizard put his hand on Simon’s shoulder and led him out of the courtyard.
“I do have a reputation for getting my way. But let me give you some context, Simon. I’m several thousand years old. That requires a strong body and a strong mind. It would be very easy to go mad after all I’ve seen.”
They stepped into the castle and Merlin grabbed a torch from the wall. “Actually, I have gone mad a couple of times.” His voice softened. “But one thing always pulls me out of the darkness. One thing keeps me focused and strong. Did your father tell you what that is?”
Merlin stopped abruptly and looked at the wall, up and down.
“Do you have a chainsaw?” he asked Simon.
“Um, not on me.”
“Bother.” The wizard furrowed his brow. He raised his staff, held it sideways and shook it. Suddenly, Merlin was trying to stay on his feet as the weight of his walking stick threw him off balance. Except it wasn’t a staff in his hand anymore. It was a chainsaw.
Without a word, the old man lifted the huge thing, yanked on the cord and revved it up. The explosive sound of the tool forced Simon to cover his ears. Merlin shoved the saw into the stone wall.
Except it wasn’t stone.
It looked like stone, but the surface splintered like wood, white chips flying everywhere. Merlin laughed, maniacally, as he carved out a door shape. The whole scene made Simon want to run to his bed and hide under the covers.
Merlin stepped back, turned off the chainsaw and handed it to Simon, who immediately dropped it because of its weight. The wizard stood still in the uncomfortable silence, looking at the large rectangle cut he’d made. His hair was a wispy mess, long strands of it falling over his face and sticking straight up.
Then the rectangle fell down into the hall with a thud.
“The door has moved since I last used it,” he said, as if that would explain everything. Merlin slipped into the hole he’d made in the wall and gestured for Simon to hand him his saw back.
Except it was a staff again.
“Thank you,” Merlin said in a way that made it very clear that he was enjoying Simon’s exasperation.
They took a step into a narrow spiral stairwell that curved down into darkness.
“As I was saying. The one thing that keeps me focused and strong is Camelot. My home. It has deserved better for more than a thousand years and now, in the midst of great danger, its time has come.”
“What danger?” Simon asked. But Merlin didn’t answer. “Where are you taking me?”
“To the dungeons. Should be fun.”
That didn’t calm his nerves any. “What’s down there?”
“Someone who is the key to finding our enemy’s weakness.”
“He’s a weird one, though,” came a girl’s voice from behind Simon, startling him. It was Maille.
“Don’t do that!” Simon barked.
“What? What’d I do?” Maille shrugged her shoulders.
“You snuck up on me!”
“I’ve been here the whole time, excuse me very much.” But her cocky smirk gave her away.
“Enough bickering!” Merlin barked. “We don’t want the prisoner to hear. It would give him an edge we can’t afford.” When they hit the bottom of the stairwell, Merlin lit a wall of torches with one wave of his walking stick. They passed empty cells that Simon would not have wished on an enemy, of which he had a number, growing by the hour.
At the end of the long, stone hall was a cell with a small flame’s light flickering through its bars.
The prisoner was hard to see, just a slight figure in the corner, whimpering like a caged animal.
Simon recognized him immediately.
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And check out these previous character introductions: