It’s an overnight trip from Sandwich to Flanders, and Arthur spends the night alone in the royal cabin aboard one of the ships. He tosses and he turns and he has a dream about a dragon fighting a boar. When he wakes up, he decides he wants the dream interpreted, Biblical style, and sends for the prophet Daniel, or failing that Merlin, or Nimue if she’s around (she isn’t), or just any old bearded dude, they’re pretty well interchangable.
I’m not sure how, since they’re in the middle of the sea, but Arthur’s attendants find him an old man who’s willing to give soothsaying a shot. Arthur describes his dream to the old man, and then looks at him expectantly.
“Um, okay, sire,” says the soothsayer. “So I think it’s a dream about how you’re going to fight the Romans.”
“And win! Fight and win, sire. It’ll be a terrible rout.”
“What makes you say that? I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’d like to hear about the process.”
“So in your dream, a great golden dragon flies to Europe from across the sea, and, see, that represents you. You’re the dragon! Your father was Uther Pendragon, so…”
“It’s all blue and gold and silver and black because those are the colors of your various kingdoms, in some obscure heraldic system that exists I am sure.”
“And the tail with all the feathers, every feather is a different knight of the Round Table, in your service! Yeah, that hangs together.”
“I see, I see.”
“Now the dragon was fighting a bear, right? And the bear was all tattered and mean and old and ugly and dirty, and clearly that represents the Romans, I don’t think I need to clarify that. Or maybe it’s some tyrant. Or a giant, it could be a giant, they’re big and smelly. Anyhow, the important thing is that it’s a dream about how awesome you are and your coming victory.”
“Hmm. You know, I appreciate your work, Merlin —“
“I’m not Merlin, sire.”
“Fine, have it your way, Mister Disguised. I appreciate your work, man who isn’t Merlin, but I am an adult. If the dream isn’t about how great I am, I would appreciate knowing that. I won’t have you put to death or anything; I’m asking you, after all.”
“I wouldn’t know where to begin trying to sugarcoat a harsh message for one so cunning and wise as yourself, sire —“
“Well… in the dream, the battle between the bear and the dragon is bloody; the dragon is victorious and drives the bear into the sea where it dissolves, but not before the bear slices the dragon’s armored chest open.”
“So maybe you’ll suffer losses?”
“Not super helpful,” says Arthur. “But I suppose it’s the most I could have expected.”
And on that note, Arthur’s flotilla arrives in Dunkirk. There’s an additional thirty thousand troops waiting for him here, plus all the dudes he brought over, it’s Operation DYNAMO in reverse is what it is, an invasion on the scale of D-Day but without any immediate resistance. Every available boat and ship and cog and canoe is drafted to move troops from Sandwich to Dunkirk, back and forth, a steady stream, and by the time it’s all said and done hundreds of thousands of men are ready to liberate Europe from the Nazis, I mean Romans.
Discussion Question: Do you think that for the rest of his life, Arthur assumes random passersby are Merlin in disguise? Why or why not?