Both Parasomnia and Everdome are now available at your local book store and our store.
“MERLIN!” screamed all three little girls at once. They were small and graceful and loud. They were obviously sisters, despite their difference in colouring; one being metallic gold, another being black as ebony, and the last being the pale copper of the woman who was watching me with a raised eyebrow.
When I nodded at the woman, the three girls threw themselves at me. We hugged and I desperately tried to remember anything that would give me a hint of what was going on.
At the age of fifteen, I discovered I was destined to be the all-powerful and all-knowing Guardian of Reality known as Merlin. Or Emrys or the prophet Merlinus Ambrosius or Myrdin of Earth and Aether. No pressure right? The frustrating thing was that I’d met my older self and had even looked up to him, which had made the whole thing weird.
“What are we learning today?” asked the golden little girl.
“Well…” I trailed off.
She finished for me, “Ugh, not a review day.”
The woman, who was in her mid- to late-thirties, spoke with a slight accent I didn’t recognize and said, “Jamie, what’s a review day?”
The little girl with ebony skin replied, “It’s a day where he pretends he’s forgotten what he taught us and we have to teach it to him.”
Here’s the thing about being Merlin, it doesn’t happen in order. I haven’t been at it long, it’s hard being a Guardian and having a life. They obviously knew me well, but I had never met them.
The one thing I’d told myself last time I saw me, yeah, my life is interesting, was that I had to try and fake it as much as possible or we’d lose our mysterious wizard vibes.
“That’s right,” I said. “What was the last thing I taught you?”
The three girls pouted and their mother smirked, “Jamie, Adelaide, and Ajay, please humour him. He’s told me multiple times that teaching someone something is a great way to remember.”
That sounded more like something my father would say, but it was right.
The third little girl said, “You taught us about the importance of the Day of the Sisters and how it wasn’t just our birthday or a reason to party, it was a way for the world to celebrate the light overcoming the dark.”
I had come to this festively decorated castle looking for my sister. She’d taught me a spell that would let me jump between realms, realities connected through magic. I’d expected to arrive where she was, but magic doesn’t care about what I expect.
I’d been studying the realms with my thesis supervisor Mr. Batudev, who was an actual knight of Everdome. This wasn’t Everdome. Though the sky was clear of floating islands, there was a heavy snowfall and lots of clouds.
“Anything else?” I asked.
“You told us that we needed to know the realms and be able to name them,” Jamie said, looking proud of herself.
The woman smiled at me and looked away from the girls as she laughed.
“Right. So go ahead,” I said.
The three girls screamed the answer in perfect, unsettling, unison. “The new realms are Earth, the Fay, Everdome, Make-Believe, and here.”
“It’s important to say the name,” the woman said, winking at me.
“New Albion,” the girls replied. It was a strange realm; the youngest technically, only being a full realm for ten years, but it had its own history that dated back several thousand. It had been created by a group of people with more magical know-how than ethics and was now ruled by a High Queen that was said to be a great ruler and a massive nerd.
I was about to thank Queen Ashley of Cambria, High Queen of New Albion, when the girls continued, “The ancient realms are Asgal, Seidrheim, Mulciber, and the Great Forest.” I’d only heard of one of those outside Norse mythology.
“Alright, girls. I think Merlin has had enough for one day. Why don’t you eat some of that candy from your birthday?”
That reminded me. “Speaking of which, I have something for you girls. It’s not much, but happy birthday.” I reached into the pocket dimension that was built into my jeans and pulled out three chocolate bars. My fiancée loved salted caramel and I always had some on hand for her.
The girls took their chocolates and ran off. After a deep breath, Ashley said, “So you just always have those on you?”
“Yes,” I said, not wanting to say too much.
“Did you know that’s their favourite?”
“I do now,” I replied, which got me a chuckle.
She patted my shoulder and said, “I’m always amazed at how they don’t notice your change of age. Especially now, you’re what? Eighteen?”
“Twenty-two, actually,” I said sheepishly.
Nodding, she said, “You’re not supposed to be here yet. You don’t go off travelling until your nineties.”
I desperately wanted to ask why, but decided it was best not to know my own future. When you know you’re going to live a few thousand years, it’s best not to dwell on what will happen because it’ll inevitably be sad.
“I was looking for—” A portal opened with a loud TARDIS sound next to us and my sister walked through.
“There you are,” she said, almost scolding. “I left you a message to find me.”
Feeling like an idiot, I replied, “I tried.”
“I forget how young you are,” my sister replied. She was my sister, no doubt about it, but she wasn’t the sister from my time. My little sister was just over ten right now and this version of her looked eighteen. I’d never seen a version of her that looked older and that worried me.
“Right, I’m young and naive and you’re the ancient one.” I paused and looked at her eyes. They were tired and I realized she was ancient. “How long do you have?”
Ashley looked awkward and said, “Um. Sorry. Nice to meet you. You must be Morgana.”
“I am and it’s nice to see you again,” my sister said and shook the queen’s hand. Turning back to me, she said, “I need to show you the birth of time in our universes.”
“Why?” both Ashley and I asked.
“Like you guessed, I’m dying and you need to teach my successor.” She was the Guardian of Time.
I didn’t like the idea of my sister dying, but I asked, “Who’s your successor?”
“Me,” she replied and opened a portal.
The TARDIS noise reminded me I had a SD card in my pocket. Giving it to Ashley, I said, “This has seasons ten to thirteen of Doctor Who on it.”
Ashley squeed and hugged me, saying thank you.
As I left, I added, “Blessed Yule and may your hearts always be warmed by the fires of love and hope.”
As I walked through the gate with Morgana, I wondered what was ahead of me and if I was up to the challenge of teaching her younger self.
“It’s okay, big brother. You’ll do fine.” I hoped she was right; even though she’d lived it, time could always change.
Vaguely from all around me, I heard the girls’ voices say, “Myrdin, as you walk the paths of time, don’t forget to bring us to life.”
I guess it really was the Day of the Sisters for me. May the Goddess light my way.
Read More holiday stories featuring Merlin: