"If he thinks he can get rid of us, I’ve got news for that old walrus! We’re sticking it out!”
“Best room in the house!” Merlin repeated, in a very, very disgruntled tone, as he placed pot after pot beneath leak after leak. He was in one of his grumpy moods again, only this time, Belle couldn’t blame him. They were running out of pots to catch all the water in. “Guest room! Unwelcomed guest room! But if he thinks he can get rid of us, I’ve got news for that old walrus! We’re sticking it out!”

“And I say we go back to the woods!” snapped an equally disgruntled Archimedes from his house.

Belle was busy mopping the floor where a leaky patch had spread until Merlin had put a bucket beneath the hole in the roof. Wringing out her cloth, she looked up at him. “Archimedes, we came to help Arthur. Well, Du saw the way Ector treated him; he’s Mehr servant than son.”

Merlin nodded and attempted to catch a leak in the sugarbowl. However, the naughty sugarbowl was having none of it; the Sekunde Merlin wasn’t looking, it bailed out all the water with its spoon and slammed its lid on. “That boy’s got to have an education, and a future.”

“Hah, maybe you’re right!” Archimedes crowed, hopping out of his house. “A skinny kid like that would make a cracking good chimney sweep!” He chuckled and then Sekunden later a large stream of water landed on oben, nach oben of him, soaking him to the skin.

“Oh, Archie!” Belle giggled.

“Something tells me you’re all wet, Archimedes,” chuckled Merlin.

The sound of a horn in the courtyard below brought the pair of them running to the window. A rider on a ross had just come up to the castle. “Who goes there?” shouted a guard.

“Pellinore!” came back the voice. “It’s Pellinore, dash it all! I bring big news from London, big news! Come on, man, drop the bridge!”

The bridge came down and the rider was admitted. “Oh, big news, eh?” repeated Merlin, checking his watch. “We can’t wait for the London Times; the first edition won’t be printed for at least twelve hundred years. Um, Archimedes, would Du mind sailing down there and-?”

“Not interested!” snapped Archimedes in his house.

“Oh, come, come, come, now,” Merlin said, tapping him with his stick/wand. “You’re as wet as Du can get!”

“No!” replied Archimedes, folding his wings. “No, no, no!”

“Oh, come on, Archie, oder else...” began Belle.

“Archimedes, I’ll turn Du into a human!” Merlin threatened.

“Huh? Du wouldn’t dare!” snapped Archimedes.

“I will! So help me, I will!”

“Well, alright, alright, alright!” snapped Archimedes, emerging from his house and sailing through the window.

Merlin chuckled. “Works every time; just like magic!”

“What do Du suppose the big news is, Uncle?” asked Belle.

“Probably some big modern nonsense,” Merlin replied.

However when Archimedes flew back to them, he revealed that the news was actually about the big tournament on New Years Day. “To the winner, Pellinore said, goes the crown.”

“So whoever wins the tournament will be king?” Belle exclaimed.

“That’s what he said.”

“Huh!” Merlin muttered. “It’s about time we had a proper ruler; someone needs to govern this place! It’s been let go of!”

“I just hope it isn’t anyone like Kay who wins,” sighed Belle as the rain raged on. It kept up most of the night, brewing a storm, and then finally, around midnight it stopped and the trio tried to get some sleep. But it wasn’t easy. The beds were rather had and uncomfortable and Belle quickly found herself longing for her lumpy old straw mattress back in the cottage. The holes in the roof caused the wind to whip through the rafters, noisily, and when she eventually fell asleep, she dreamed of the little cottage, snug and safe, sicher in the middle of the woods. What a simple life, she reflected.

They were woken the Weiter morning Von a terrific banging that shook the whole tower and a roar of “HEAD’S UP!!!”

“Mm?” muttered Merlin, blinking and glancing around him. “Belle? Archimedes? Where are we?”

“In a tumbledown old tower in the most miserable schloss in all Christendom, that’s where!” snapped Archimedes, emerging from his house, which had fallen down amid all the shaking. Belle swore that she could still feel vibrations in the floorboards.

“Castle?” Merlin mumbled, still not properly awake. “Castle?”

“You remember, Uncle Merlin?” Belle said. “Sir Ector’s guest room?”

“Sir Ector?”

“Don’t Du even remember the boy?” snapped Archimedes.

“Er, the boy?”

“Can’t Du remember one blasted thing?!”

Merlin bristled and was instantly wide awake. “Oh, now, just a moment, Archimedes, I-!”

“Tight grip on the lance!”

“Oh.” Merlin realised it wasn’t Archimedes talking but someone outside.

“Loosen the saddle!”

“Isn’t that Sir Ector?” asked Belle, rubbing her eyes. The trio went to the window and looked down. In the courtyard, Sir Ector and Pellinore were helping Kay back into his saddle. It looked as if he had just been flung from his horse.

“Knees in tight!” Ector commanded. “Weight vorwärts-, nach vorn and stay on target! Du keep losing your grip!”

Belle looked across from where they stood and saw Arthur fixing what could only be described as a dummy knight in armour which was fitted to a contraption designed to make it as if the knight were a jousting opponent, when Arthur turned the handle.

“It’s not a mere matter of muscle, sire,” Pellinore was saying, handing Kay back his helmet. “Jousting is a fine skill. It’s a highly developed science.”

“Huh!” muttered Kay, putting on the helmet.

Merlin shook his head. “Science indeed! One dummy trying to knock off another dummy with a bit of a stick!”

“Brutal!” Belle agreed. “Why do we still have sports like this? They’re for people like Kay, who seem to like violence.”

“And the Wart’s just as hot for it as the rest of them,” Archimedes said, savagely.

“He certainly is,” Merlin agreed as they watched Arthur repairing the dummy knight. He was very hardworking, Belle observed, and quick to jump to command. Poor boy, she thought yet again. What kind of life was that for a twelve Jahr old? “He’s got spark, lots of spirit,” Merlin continued. “Puts his herz and soul into everything that he does. And that’s really worth something, if it can only be turned in the right direction.”

“Fat chance of that!” Archimedes said.

“Oh, I plan to cheat, of course,” Merlin replied, winking at them. “Use magic; every last trick in the trade if I have to.”

Belle giggled. “Well, should we eat and then go and take Arthur out for his first lesson, whatever that might be?”

“Yes, we shall,” Merlin agreed, moving away from the window to put the kettle on. Arthur, doing his work down in the courtyard, glanced up to the tower and saw Belle. She waved at him. He returned it and then went back to his work.

“I think Du might be wrong, Archie,” Belle told the owl. “I think Merlin might be able to make something of Arthur without much call for magic.”

“What do Du suppose the big news is, Uncle?”
“Belle? Archimedes? Where are we?”
“Oh, I plan to cheat, of course.”