Chapter 8:

How Merlin went with the messengers to talk with the king

The king sat down in a chair to receive Merlin accompanied by the most honorable men he had, since he had a great desire to see him because of the things he had heard about him. In this interval the messengers returned to Merlin, and as soon as Merlin saw them, he began to laugh and said, "You reassured the king about me and swore him oaths upon your lives."

And they said, "We would sooner suffer peril than kill you."

Merlin, when he heard this, said to them, "I will see that you get out of this well and without danger to your persons."

And thus they went talking to the king's room, and the king received him honorably because he had a great desire to see him, and Merlin bowed to him and spoke very courteously and said to him, "Verenguer, speak with me apart in secrecy."

And he took him and those he brought with him to a secret place and said, "Sir, you had me sought because of your tower which would not stand, and ordered me killed at the counsel of your wizards who said that the building could not endure without my blood. They did not know what they said, when they said it would stand with my blood; but they were deceived, for they should have understood that the tower needed their blood, and thus they would not have erred, for astronomy told them the truth, but they did not understand it well. And if you promise me that you will do to them what they told you to do to me, I will show you why your tower falls, and I will explain to you, if you wish to build it, how it can last forever."

Verenguer said to him, "If you do this, I will do to them what you wish."

Merlin said, "If I lie to you in anything, do whatever you wish to me. Now we will go and have the wizards come, and I will ask them why the tower falls, and you will see then that they have no idea how to answer."

When he heard this, the king sent for his wizards, and when they came to him, he said, "Wizards, why do you think that this tower keeps falling?"

They responded, "We do not know anything about the falls, but we will tell how it can last forever."

The king said angrily, "You told me nonsense; you commanded me to seek a man born without a father, and I do not know how he can be found."

Merlin said to the wizards, "You were quite mad, for if you did find such a man, you did not do it for the king's sake, but for your own, for you found through your luck and your mastery that you were to die because of the boy who was born without a father; and because you were afraid of death, you made the king believe that if that boy were killed and his blood put in the cement of the stones, that the tower would stand forever, and so you thought to escape with your lives."

When they heard what the boy said, they marveled, for they did not believe that any man could know that save them, and they were very frightened by it, for they knew that they had to die. And Merlin said to the king, "Sir, now you know that these wizards did not want me killed for your benefit, but because they found in their astronomy that they were to die because of me; and now ask them something, for now they will not be so bold as to dare to lie in front of me."

The king asked them, and they answered, "There is nothing we can say to ourselves about this argument. As God may have mercy on our souls, all he says is the truth, and we marvel greatly how he found out these marvels, and we beg you as our lord to let us live until we hear what he will say about the tower, or see whether what he builds falls again."

Merlin said, "Do not be at all afraid of death until you see why the tower fell."

And they rendered him many thanks for it, and held it a great mercy. Then Merlin said to Verenguer, "Do you want to know why your work fell? Know that under this tower there is a great lake, and underneath it two dragons who see nothing, and one is scarlet and the other is white, and they lie under rocks near each other. And when they feel the heavy water which is carried over them, they turn over and the water is dammed, and when it leaps forth with great force, all that is built over the lake falls, and thus the tower fell; have it examined, and if you do not find it thus, command me to be killed, but if you do find it thus, those who trusted in me will be acquitted and the wizards will be faulted."

The king said, "If what you say is the truth, you are the wisest man in the world."

And then the king had workers dig until they found the water, and they discovered it, and let the king know. And when the king found out, he went there quickly and happily, and took Merlin with him. And when they found the water, two of his privy counselors said, "This boy is of great knowledge, since he knew where such great amounts of water ran. And in addition, he said that two dragons lay under it, and he has not shown me anything to make me doubt what he says."

And the king called Merlin and said to him, "You told the truth about the water, but I do not know whether you told the truth about the dragons."

Merlin said, "You will not believe it until you see it."

And the king said, "No, certainly not. Tell me, how may we rid ourselves of this water?"

And Merlin said, "We will make it run out of here."

Then he had caves made for the water to run through, and he said to Verenguer, "Know for certain that as soon as the dragons feel themselves approaching each other, they will fight very fiercely, so that this marvel will be spoken of forever; send for three country noblemen to come and see the battle, for it will be a great sign of what is to come."

The king sent for them and recounted what Merlin had said, and they told him that it would please them greatly to see the battle, and they asked him who would win the battle. And the king said that he did not yet know. And as soon as the water went out, they saw two rocks in the bottom, and Merlin said to the king, "Under these rocks lie the two dragons, and as soon as they feel themselves free of the water and approach each other, they will fight until one of them is dead."

And Verenguer said to Merlin, "Do you know which of them will die?"

Merlin said, "There is great significance to their battle, and I will willingly tell it to you in secrecy, in front of two or three of your privy counselors."

Then Verenguer called four of his privy counselors, and told them what Merlin had told him, and they said to him that he should ask Merlin which of them should win before he saw the battle, and that he should beg Merlin to tell how the battle would be fought in the field. Then the king begged Merlin to tell him which of them would win and that the battle would be fought in that very field. Merlin said, "These four are your good privy counselors?"

And Verenguer said, "Yes, better than others I have."

He said, "Know that the white will defeat the scarlet, but the white will certainly have great travail first, and that this death will be a very great sign of things which will happen afterwards, but I will not tell you more before the battle."

After the water was freed, the people assembled and took many cords and chains and took out the scarlet dragon, as Merlin showed them, for they could never have taken the dragons out any other way. And when they saw it to be so frightening and so great, they left it out, and went to the other and took it out, and they were more frightened to see that one, because it was much greater and much more frightening than the other. And it seemed to Verenguer that this one should defeat the other. And Merlin said to the king, "Now those who trusted in me are acquitted."

And the king said, "That is true."

Then Merlin commanded the dragons to be left together, and they were, and when they felt each other, the one turned against the other, and they attacked each other tooth and nail with much ire. And you may well believe that you never heard tell of two animals fighting so cruelly, and they fought thus all that day and all night, and another day until noon, so that all the people who saw it believed that the scarlet was going to win. And they combatted very ferociously still, but at the end fire and flame left the mouth and nostrils of the white dragon, so that he burned the scarlet dragon. And when he was dead, the white fell back and went to sleep and lived no more than three days. And those who saw this marvel said that they had never seen such a man as Merlin. And Merlin said to Verenguer, "Now you can build your tower when you wish, for from today on it will not fall, now that the dragons are out of it."

Then he commanded Verenguer to make his tower great and very strong, so that it could not possibly be greater or stronger. And Verenguer asked Merlin many times what the dragons signified, and why the white defeated the scarlet. Merlin said, "This signifies many things which have been and are to be in this land, and if you wish me to tell the truth, you will assure me before the most trusted men you have that I will receive no harm from you or any other."

Verenguer told him that he would assure him as he wished.

"Now have your trusted men and the wizards who wished to kill me called."

The king did so, and Merlin said to the wizards, "You were quite foolish when you troubled to strive at an art you did not know, and because you are evil and blind, you did not see what you sought through the art of the elements, but you did see that I was born, through which you saw a very evil signal, and you were very worried, for you saw your deaths; and he who showed me to you, who was the devil, pretended that you were to die because of me, and he did it because of the heaviness and dole he felt for losing me, for he will never lose the blemish that I neither tell nor predict what he wishes me to, and he wanted to kill me, but I have such hope in my lord Jesus Christ, who made me and is to unmake me, and took death and Passion on the true holy cross to save me, that He will guard me well from the devil's deception, and I will make him a liar, for I will act so that you do not die because of me, as he gave you to understand, if you promise what I shall tell you to."

And when they heard that they would not die, they said, "There is nothing you could command which we would not do to escape death, for we know and tell you now that you are the wisest man in the world."

And Merlin, when he heard this, said to them, "Do you swear to me upon the Gospels and in the faith of your souls that you will never again meddle with this evil art that you know? And I command you to confess and do penance for as long a time as you used it. And since you know that no one is truly confessed if he does not leave sin, you should part from this sin you do, and put your bodies under such control that your souls will not be lost, so that the blessed lordly heavenly father who bought them with His precious blood should have them, and if you promise me this, you will not be lost."

And they were grateful for it, and promised him that they would do so, and swore a very solemn sacrament to comply. So Merlin freed himself from the wizards who had sought to kill him. And as all saw that this had proved so good, and he was so peaceful and respectful toward them, they were very grateful and thanked him.

Verenguer having been lord of the Britons for some time, he asked Merlin to tell him the significance of the battle of the dragons. Merlin said, "This is a sign of many things which are to be in this land, just as I have told you, lord. And I will even tell you things which are so obscure that few will understand them until they are past. And now listen and I will tell you what will become of this, and I want us to meet apart with some of your noblemen."

The king said that he wanted it thus also and had those whom he most trusted called to one room, and there they sat down to listen to Merlin, who began to say: