With a weary sigh, the ancient wizard threw both of his hands into the air. "Enough!" Merlin cried exasperated. "Yes, you may have a view of the future."
"But sheath Excalibur first," Merlin said sternly, waggling a finger. "Its power greatly interferes with my magiks."
"Of course, old friend," Arthur said excitedly, sliding the glowing blade of power into its heavy scabbard. Although no longer a scrawny lad being taught by the wizard, the young king still wiggled excitedly on the tree stump being used as a makeshift chair in the heart of the forest. What a boon, to see the future!
"Anything else I should do?" Arthur asked, brushing back his wild crop of untamed hair.
"No, that's fine," Merlin muttered, crackling slightly as he gathered the power primordial for the simple spell. After vanquishing the Saxons and coming up with the idea of a Round Table of Knights all by himself, the fledgling king deserved a special treat, and certainly this was a small enough request.
Then in a rush of panic, the wizard turned to stare at his friend. "However, ye shall not see anything of your own future," Merlin stated forcefully. "Nothing from within your lifetime. That could be very dangerous. But something from the very distant future, many eons ahead of us, should be safe enough. What harm in that, eh?"
"None, sir!" the king cried, the forest leaves rustling around them alive with the sounds of nature unleashed in the fullness of spring.
Now standing with his legs splayed, Merlin made a complex gesture in their, his fingertips leaving glowing contrails behind. Suddenly the king was bathed in a whirlpool of sparkling lights and Arthur's eyes went wide as they filled with a swirling mist and the ages spread before him like a tunnel of stars.
"I want to see the capital of England," Arthur murmured, leaning into the spell as if it was a strong wind.
"Then will it so, lad," Merlin said chuckling. "I guided the time, but the places are for your choosing."
The king squinted with the effort, and the smiled widely. "Yes! I can see it! Oh, what strange sights are these?" Arthur gasped, recoiling slightly. "I see a great city of stone and steel! A million stars trapped inside glass balls to light the night, and carriages moving without horses!"
Hmm, could be downtown London, Merlin guessed sagely. The city was a farking mudhole right now, but in a few centuries, wow, what a really big, expensive farking mudhole it would become!
Frowning slightly, King Arthur went still, his head tilting as if he listening to distant music. After a moment, he started tapping a boot, then Arthur went abruptly pale.
"What is it, lad?" Merlin asked in concern, stepping closer. By the goddess, had the boy's spirit wandered into porno theatre, or a Hyde Park strip club? Perhaps this had been such a wise idea after all.
Wordlessly waving the mage away, the trembling king sat straighter on the stump and slowly raised an imperious eyebrow at the unseen sights. Watching the young man, closely for any negative reactions, Merlin stepped away again, and went to lean against a nearby tree for the king to return of his own accord. While a common man could be shielded from the ills of the world, but a king should know all.
Well, not all, Merlin amended privately. But enough to get him there, at least. The lad was engaged and should bloody well know something about the birds and the bees in preparation of the coming royal honeymoon.
Slow hours passed in the peaceful forest, as the sun moved across the azure sky. Then without warning, Arthur stood and the swirling mists of time departed from his eyes leaving them clear and clean like the sea after a storm.
"Have fun?" Merlin asked politely, taking another bite of a half-eaten apple. He was sure the lad had many burning questions and the wizard was more than prepared to explain the wicked ways of the 20th century.
"Well, yes," King Arthur said slowly, checking the sword at his side. "And no. But more importantly, I have to immediately place a kill on sight command for Morgana LeFey to make sure she never gets anywhere near you, old friend. Crystal cave, my arse!"
"C-come again, sire?" Merlin asked, dropping the apple.
But Arthur was already heading out of the forest at a brisk pace. "Then I'm canceling my forthcoming marriage to the Lady Guinevere and making her a royal ward of the court, so that when Lancelot arrives from France next year they can fall in love and get married. That way I keep my champion, England keeps the Round Table, and a major war is averted."
"My liege!" the wizard cried, swooning against the tree for support. "What did you...how do you...."
"Now, now, old friend, everything is fine," Arthur said soothingly, climbing onto his warhorse. "I merely caught a merriment at the Palladium Theatre. A sprightly show of dancing and many gapes."
"What was it called?" Merlin asked in a very small voice, blood thundering in his temples.
"Ah! Now that was the very thing what caught my attention as I was walking down the street," the king said with smile, turning to glance at the distant silver castle being built on the distant hilltop. "The musical was called Camelot."
The only reply from Merlin was an incoherent sputter.
"Very catchy tunes I must admit," King Arthur said, starting to ride away. "Even if Richard Harris was a bit old to play me."
With a startled gurgle, the wizard clutched his chest and toppled to the ground in a dead faint.