Many years ago there was a young man named Simon who had an unusual hobby. He was obsessed with finding the grave of the great wizard Merlin and raising him from the dead.
Although most scholars considered Merlin to be nothing but a myth or an amalgamation of a few different historical figures from the time of King Arthur, Simon was adamant he was real. He’d read every book about Merlin and had found ancient tomes, written by others who also believed in the existence of Merlin. One such tome had described a spell that could bring Merlin back and if you were successful he would grant you three wishes. Simon had travelled far and wide looking for the final resting place of the great wizard and even gathered ancient artefact’s that could help him raise the dead.
One day, while on his quest, Simon was walking through an expansive and ancient forest, looking for the secret lost village of Fairhaven. He’d read about Fairhaven in many of the books and it was apparently the final resting place of Merlin. He’d seen the name spelled Fayreheven, Farehaven and even Hiwfæstport, which apparently was olde English, and now, his latest search had lead him to this forest.
In his hand he held a solid glass ball. To some it looked like a crystal ball fortune tellers would use to predict the future. To others it was just a lump of glass. To Simon it the was key to Fairhaven.
In Istanbul, while trying to find yet another book he’d met an old woman who the townspeople called a seer. She had a shop where she would sell tourists love potions or handwritten spells that if they read would bring them great fortunes. They were all just trinkets, fake goods sold to bring a smile, and the tourists lapped them up. When Simon walked into the shop the old woman put down her paper, looked him up and down and said “You’re taller than I pictured.” Before Simon could reply she put a finger on her lip to hush him and said “wait there.” She stepped through a dusty threadbare curtain and returned a few minutes later with a box.
“This will help you find Adil Cennet,” she said. “Hold it to your eye and where the light shines is where you must go.”
“Thank you,” he replied, “Do I pay you?”
“You’ll know how when the time is right. Now go.”
He left and that night in his hotel room he opened his map of the world. He’d carried this map everywhere since he’d first started his quest and all over it were marks of the place he’d been and short handwritten notes about each place. Next to Istanbul he wrote “Crystal Ball.” Sitting on the floor he retrieved the crystal ball from it’s box and rolled it around in his hands. He hands were warm and no matter how much he rolled the ball around it remained cold. ‘What was the woman had said?” he thought to himself. ‘Hold it to your eye?’ He did just that and all he could see was the room. No glow, no light, nothing, just the room. He put it down on the floor and it rolled over the map. As it passed over the UK the ball glowed ever so slightly. Simon picked it up and the glow stopped. Putting it down again he rolled it all over the map and the only place is glowed faintly was when it passed over the UK. He held it up to his eye and looked down at the map. When he looked at the UK a light appeared inside the ball. It was stronger over the West Midlands. Simon remembered a paragraph he found in a book that mentioned Merlin being buried in a place called Hwicce. He knew Hwicce was an old English name for an area around Worcestershire but had never found any other evidence of Merlin being buried there. Was the crystal ball showing him where to go?
He packed and headed to the airport to go back to the UK. Now, a week later he stumbled through the Wyre Forest in Worcester, every now and then holding the glass ball to his eye. From time to time a light appear inside and showed him the way to go.
As he approached the middle of the forest he held the ball up to his eye again only this time there was no light. Instead the view through the ball showed a arch made from twisted branches. Without the ball the arch wasn’t there but when he pressed the ball to his eye the arch was clear and bright, and, strangely inviting. Hanging from a branch was the sign “Fairhaven.” Still looking through the ball he walked forward through the arch and following the dirt track eventually found himself in a village. The villagers were wary of him at first, but they soon realised that he meant no harm and welcomed him with open arms.
As Simon settled into the village, he couldn’t help but notice a strange tall figure, lurking in the shadows, watching him. A tall, thin figure with a long, black robe and a scythe, it was clearly Death. He seemed to be watching Simon’s every move.
Simon was both frightened and intrigued by Death. He had always been fascinated by the concept of death and what lay beyond and in his list of questions for Merlin, “What’s the afterlife like?” was one of them. He decided to strike up a conversation with Death.
To his surprise, Death was quite friendly. He explained that he was simply there to ensure that the natural order of things was maintained, that and the fact that the villagers of Fairhaven were generally accepting of him even though he was Death. The villagers practically accepted anyone as, being a hidden village, meant they rarely got visiting. And by rarely they meant never. Other than Death. In fact life had got quite boring and they were all desperate for a big change.
Death also told Simon that he had been watching him for some time and was impressed by his dedication to raising Merlin from the dead. Simon was thrilled to have Death’s approval. He felt as though he was one step closer to achieving his goal.
He spent months studying the ancient texts in the village and performing complicated rituals. He tried everything from reciting ancient spells to sacrificing chickens. Nothing seemed to work but Death got much enjoyment from watching his failure, much like watching YouTube videos people falling into fountains or slipping on ice.
One day, when Simon was feeling particularly discouraged, Death appeared to him once again. “You know that Merlin will grant you three wishes if you manage to resurrect him?” He said.
“You have worked hard and faced many failures overs the years. How about I give you three wishes?”
“You can do that?”
“I’m Death. I can do anything.”
“Okay, well not anything. I can make people comfortable with their death and I can grant wishes. Oh I can roll my tongue too.”
“Do you have a tongue?”
“So, you want wishes or not?”
Simon was overjoyed. He couldn’t believe that he was being offered such an incredible opportunity. He thought long and hard about what he wanted. He was tempted to ask for the power to resurrect Merlin but would feel defeated after all his hard work so decided with something else.
He made his first wish. “I wish for a new pair of walking boots,” he said. “My old ones are worn out from all the traveling I’ve been doing.”
To Simon’s surprise, his wish was granted immediately. A brand new pair of walking boots appeared on his feet. Simon was thrilled with his new boots. They were comfortable and sturdy, and he knew they would last him for many years to come.
He quickly made his second wish. “I wish to be able to turn invisible whenever I want,” he said. “That way, I can sneak into places undetected and learn the secrets of magic that have been hidden from me.”
“Are you for real?”
“I’ve heard some excuses for wanting invisibility but ‘learn the secrets of magic’ is a new one!”
“Just do it!”
Death granted his wish. Simon felt a rush of excitement as he realised that he could now move about undetected. He knew that this power would come in handy as he continued his quest to raise Merlin from the dead.
He had one wish left. He thought long and hard about what he wanted. He could wish for riches, power, or even immortality. None of those things seemed as important as finding true love. He had been so focused on his quest to raise Merlin that he had neglected his social life. He had been so consumed with his obsession that he had forgotten what it was like to feel love and companionship.
So Simon made his third and final wish. “I wish to find true love,” he said. “Someone who will love me for who I am, and who will support me in my quest to raise Merlin.”
“They’re my wishes and I’m lonely okay!”
Once again, Death granted his wish. But instead of materialising in front of him like the other wishes, Death simply smiled and vanished into thin air.
Simon didn’t know what to think. Had his wish been granted? Would he find true love now?
As he pondered these questions, he suddenly heard a voice behind him. He turned around to see a man standing there.
He introduced himself as Diego and Simon was immediately struck by how handsome he was. He had short hair the colour of coal, and his eyes sparkled like diamonds in the sun. Simon felt a stirring in his heart that he had never felt before. He knew that this must be the true love that he had wished for.
Diego was equally taken with Simon. He had lived in the village in all his and heard about the arrival of this stranger and his quest to raise Merlin from the dead, and he admired his determination and bravery. He knew that he was a kind and gentle soul, and he was drawn to him in a way that he could not explain.
The two of them spent hours talking and getting to know each other. They walked through the village, hand in hand, and Simon felt as though he had finally found his place in the world.
As the days turned into weeks, and weeks in months, Simon and Diego grew closer and closer. They shared their hopes and dreams, their fears and doubts, and they found that they had much in common.
Simon continued his quest to raise Merlin from the dead, but now he had a new motivation. He knew that Diego was behind him every step of the way, and he wanted to make him proud. Diego helped where he could, reading many of the books in the Fairhaven library and searching the village for signs of Merlins grave.
One day, after months of research and experimentation, Diego let out a startled cry.
“What is it?” asked Simon.
“We don’t need the grave!” He said excitedly.
“Look, it’s here,” he said handing Simon the book.
Sure enough the book, clear as day, gave the instructions on how to raise Merlin. All you needed was the incantation written in the book and to be in the general area of his burial. Simon knew Fairhaven was where he was buried so now he had everything he needed.
“Read the last paragraph!” said Diego trembling, “it’s a warning!
“It’s never a good idea to raise the dead,
No matter how many stupid tomes you’ve read.
Merlin is gone and long at his rest,
So leaving him there is probably best.
If you’re going ahead make sure you have food,
If he’s hangry he’ll be in a bitch of a mood.
In life he was a twat, of that you can be sure,
And his death was was inevitably the only cure.
So ignore the warning and see for yourself,
How raising a dead wizard can be bad for your health.”
It was hardly the most serious of warnings but Diego was used to the way villagers wrote and knew this wasn’t to be ignored. “Give me thirty minutes!” he said and he dashed out the door.
Sure enough thirty minutes later he returned with a selection of baked goods and various teas and coffees from the village cafe. He laid them out on the table and nodded at Simon.
Simon, in his most impeccable English, read the incantation.
“Did you say it wrong?” asked Diego.
“Not that I know of.”
“What is that smell?”
Behind them came a cough and startled they turned around to see a mucky looking old man dressed in filthy green robes. “Well it took you fucking long enough!” said Merlin, “I’ve been watching you for years!”
Simon and Diego reached for the food and drinks and offered a selection to the dirty little wizard. “Milk and two?” Merlin asked. Diego nodded.
Simon had succeeded. He had raised Merlin from the dead.
“Right, you get three wishes and make them quick. This country has gone to shit thanks to Brexit and the fucking Tories. I need to go kick some ass.
Merlin offered Simon three wishes, just as Death had done. But Simon was not interested in material possessions or power anymore. He had already found the one thing he had been searching for all along: true love.
Simon turned to Merlin and said, “Thank you for your offer, but I do not need any wishes. I have already been granted everything I could ever want.”
“Soppy bastard,” said Merlin, “right then, you pair have a good life, I’m off to Downing Street.”
“There is one thing you could do though?
“I knew there was a catch. Go on?”
“In Istanbul there is a…”
“Haleh’s place. I know it.”
“Give her the wishes.”
“Right you are. Anything else?”
“Give the village a facelift?”
“Oh nothing small like!”
Merlin smiled, clicked his fingers and was gone. Through all his rudeness and anger he knew that Simon had truly found the key to happiness. He knew that Diego was that key.
And so, Simon and Diego lived happily ever after in Fairhaven. They continued to explore the mysteries of magic, but they did so together, as a couple, growing old together but never getting as grumpy as the angry little wizard.
And Death watched over them from afar, knowing that they had truly found the meaning of life.