A few minutes later, Arthur comes to, with no permanent brain damage from having been knocked unconscious, so that’s how far back it goes, this genre convention of bashing someone on the head and they collapse but wake up fresh as a daisy after the next commercial break. He’s on the back of Pellinore’s horse, behind Merlin.
“Aw, Merlin, did you have to kill him?” asks Arthur, who is king of leaping to conclusions as well as England. “He was a really, really good jouster. If he weren’t trying to kill me, I’d have tried to hire him. Hmm. Maybe we can make some kind of bargain, you can bring him back to life? I don’t have much to offer, just, you know, all of England. I could loan that to you, if you resurrect Pellinore. You want to borrow all of England?”
“Relax,” says Merlin. “He’s in better shape than you are. He’ll be awake in eighteen turns, that’s about three hours. I warned you about Pellinore. I remember clearly telling you that he’s nine feet tall and breathes fire, metaphorically speaking, and in the future he’ll do you a big favor. Also he’ll have two sons who will be the second-best and third-best knights, Percivale and Lamerake.”
“Can we not have one normal conversation, without you prophesying all over the place?”
“Oh, and also he’ll be the one who tells you about how Mordred is going to destroy everything. Try to act surprised when that happens.”
“Listen, let’s… let’s just be quiet for a while,” says Arthur.
Merlin doesn’t take Arthur back to his court, instead they chill at a local forest hermit’s place for several days while Arthur recuperates and gets leeched. A long weekend later Arthur’s ready to go, so they hop on the horse Merlin stole and another horse which, I don’t know, the hermit gives them, that sounds plausible. Anyway, they start riding, and straightaway, Arthur starts complaining that he doesn’t have a sword. Pellinore broke his, you may recall.
“No problem,” says Merlin. “Over in that lake there’s a sword you can have.”
“I thought I was no longer surprised by anything you say,” says Arthur. “But that’s a little weird.”
“Check it out,” says Merlin, and points. They’ve been riding past a lake, nice lake, features include an arm wearing a shining white sleeve sticking straight up out of the middle of the lake, said arm is holding a sword (scabbard included). Also, there’s a woman who might be swimming and might just be walking on the water, it’s hard to say.
“Yeah, a little weird,” Arthur says again. “Who is that woman?”
“That’s the woman who lives in the lake,” Merlin says. “Duh.”
“Great, thanks,” says Arthur.
“Actually she lives in a magic rock at the bottom of the lake. Very nicely furnished, super comfy. She’s coming over here, and she’ll give you the sword.”
Sure enough, the woman heads over to Arthur and Merlin and says hi. After exchanging pleasantries, Arthur is like, “hey, you know that sword? Can I have it?”
“You’re King Arthur, right?” she asks.
“Hmm. On the one hand it’s a nice sword. On the other hand, I don’t need it for anything, and I would love to be owed a favor by King Arthur, that sounds super handy,” the woman says.
“How about an autograph?”
“No, no, no. One favor to be named later, take it or leave it,” says the woman.
“Yeah, okay,” says Arthur. “I can’t see any way that could backfire on me.”
So he and Merlin tie up their horses and they get in a little rowboat and row out to the arm, and Arthur takes the sword, and the arm retracts down into the water.
“Don’t worry about it,” says Merlin. “Pay it no mind.”
“Way ahead of you,” says Arthur. “I’m trying real hard to block out pretty much all of this, especially your dire predictions.”