1963-11-22 - Maxim of Commitment
Summary: In the wake of sorrow and shock, Merlin the Wise proves the best advocate and an invaluable balance. Or, he just got adopted as grandfather.
Related: Maxim of Family
Theme Song: Felix Mendelssohn - The Hebrides
merlin wanda 

Tintagel Castle lies on a windswept piece of real estate the British were bloody insane for building upon. Its defenses are fine: cliff front, crumbling chalk walkway, forbidding weather and all that jazz. But really, for a people whose primary source of central heating was peat fire, or spontaneous combustion, the pile of stones really leaves something to be desired. Five hours and some ahead of New York time, it's also rather dark. While the afternoon meanders on the horizon, here banners of sunlight dye the heavens a most tangerine shade of a bruise, going dark purple to the very top, and the Irish Sea heaves in its rage. The brine is felt even several storeys up, which seems to suit the moody young woman pulling at a scraggly weed gone to seed. Apparently she wants the seeds or something to scatter with a fling of her hand, or the weed is offensive, which it probably is, displacing a flagstone somewhere. Tourists are long gone, and the season descending in its grim, leonine shadows, padding lightly in from the west to settle down like a hoary old king unsure he will maintain his supremacy come spring. But that's the way of the world, nothing is certain.


Ah, the cliffs he's spent so much time upon. Merlin, at times, does miss this rather gloomy abode. He spent much of his life here. Or rather, much of his life before becoming immortal. Part of his journey here is to allow himself to walk down memory lane, certainly, though he'd also hoped to find a trinket he'd lost many years ago. He's certain he hid it under one of the many stones that make up the walkway and the castle! But which stone? That is the mystery!

His journey, however, brings yet another mystery. The young magic user he's come to know from the Sanctum is here. Or, he believes it to be her. The stature, the aura. They seem to tell him that she is who he thinks she is. Approaching, he speaks, "Quite the sight, hmm? The colours, the sea, the way the light bounces and plays upon the water as it descends below the horizon?" He lets out a little laugh. "But of course, that isn't why the young Wanda Maximoff is here, is it? Does Mister Doctor Strange know that you're here? I suspect not. Though, he needn't know everything. You're your own person. An adult to boot, more than capable of making your own decisions and not needing to explain them to anybody else!"

Merlin nods firmly, as if completing his thought. "Of course, that being said, I might enquire as to why you've found yourself here? If it's not too much an imposition, having an old sorcerer such as myself ask you such a silly thing."


Waves surge against the cliffs, slowly nibbling away at the foundations of the old pile reduced from its grandeur to this, a bleached whale skeleton beached high above the ocean. Eventually time succeeds where Irish invaders and Norman warlords will not, laying low a grand piece of creation long out of memory. History devours all its children, in the end, save for those rare few relics capable of bypassing time altogether. It might be deemed a fair truth that she is interested in some hidden prospect here, possibly snatching a hint of the mystic dreams that once saturated the soil. Unlikely, though. She tosses the seedpod over her shoulder, the body of the weed going with it.

Glorious as the sunset may seem, it still speaks to standing almost at the end of the world, the sea leading to nothing beyond but the glorious green space of North America, undreamt of in those different days. Maybe therein lies some of its charm. "You who were Sorcerer Supreme," she says to the summons of that singular voice. "You have right to ask. The road brought me here."

Maybe the track outside that cars bump along, but unlikely. This is a very different road of which she speaks, used by very few except mystics studied in a particular art and worshipful of the very Earth herself, for it's through her they go. The Witch Road, and given that's the Scarlet Witch, it must be unsurprising.

She considers Merlin a moment then shrugs. "I do not know. I need answers. This might have them." This, him, the night falling on the ocean while the wind blows hard. "Did you have children? Not Arthur, but ones of your body."


Lifting his free hand, the one which does not grasp his staff, Merlin twists it about, manipulating his fingers. Tiny, multicoloured lights flicker and fly about him for a moment before flying down and dancing around the watery mist by the ocean. He nods along to her words regarding the road. He looks over at her, contemplating the young woman. There's something about his face suggesting he knows of the road which she speaks. Or perhaps he only seems to know, but does not question the validity of her own means of magical travel.

"There are oft more questions than there are answers, I've found. But should I, or this place, hold answers, we shall endeavour to give them to you." He tells in, his gaze now returned to the sunset. "Ah, children. I've not had any of my own flesh and blood, no. That is a regret I've had for many a year. Why do you ask? Are you, yourself, with child? Unless you wish not for me to know, one way or another. In which case, you can pretend that I asked if you'd like a loaf of bread."


Light flickers out, the brilliant masquerade so short lived and remarkable while it survives. She cannot help but to admire the effect even as some part of her soul leaps to the explosion of prismatic swirls, a faerie dance in a place old in the shadow of Rome. Age lies upon the very earth, antiquity welling up where the hold of humanity is a little lighter, all the flash and glitz of the modern age falling to the wayside. She gives him something of a long, searching look; reading into her gaze is not easy, those amber brown eyes full of shadows, a cup for the nightfall rushing in. Gold fingers stray against her gilded flesh, and the Maximoff witch shakes her head.

"My star of stars is held by jealous hands. They do not allow it, yes?" Her gaze does not meet Merlin's, not for the moment, but he probably knows all too well of what she speaks. Leaning down, instead, she touches her fingers to the soil. "I met one who is my child. But not born now. Born later and come back." Let that smoke away in Merlin's non-existent pipe, perhaps. "But the man that would be father cannot be the father. I take no other. So how can it be?"


"A tale as old, at least, as my time in the Pendragon court." Merlin murmurs. "Two men love one woman. But does the one woman love both men?" Twirling his beard in his fingers, he ponders. "Time…time is a fickle thing. The future is still yet so uncertain. The child you met, and the father he claims is his? Those are of but one possible future of many possible futures." He seems not to be bothered by the fact that someone travelled back in time.

"Though by coming back in time, he may have changed the future already. For better or worse, or for the same, cannot be seen. Not even by one such as myself, who was born with the sight of the future." Merlin takes a deep breath in and lets it out slowly. "What I mean to say is, his future may not be yours. Though a question remains, do you care for the man that would be his father?"


Wanda shakes her head slightly, throwing a spill of shadows and glittering garnets at her temples dark as tears. She is silent while Merlin speaks, for whom better to understand the predicament? To her knowledge, the only better choice isn't human; has never been human; and thus cannot understand in a human context those foibles and cares of a bruised heart. She gives no smile to warm the night, only the look of a young woman grappling with a fifty ton weight dumped on a mouse, with the sword of Damocles dropped in for good measure. "Sometimes I see it." A nod to the truths of the future, but then if Merlin has the least inkling of what she is, beyond witch, then no surprise might be found. Then again, if the stories from legend he's also a cambion, demon born, she might truly be his close spiritual kin.

The question causes her pause, but not to flinch. She curls her hands around the last of the seeds shaken from the winter crisped flower, and she can feel their grit against the fine lines of her palms, warmed by her perpetually heated skin. "What this young man can do is rare. Very rare. Such is not natural, and the gifts would suggest it. We look alike, and other factors." Her English is weaker here, despite the natural attachment to the soil and a place where once faith bled so strong towards mother earth, and it speaks to how very tired she is. Not only physically but deeper, in spirit.

Her shoulders lift under her leather coat. In her way, she gets there. "Yes. I would give up magic for him, did the Vishanti asked."


Wanda has partially disconnected.


There's a moment while Merlin is quiet. He leans against his staff, considering the young woman that is next to him. "Dear child, dear young one." He murmurs. "You are in much pain because of this, aren't you?" His voice sounds somewhat gravelly. "I can feel the struggle within you." Placing a hand on her shoulder gently, he furrows his brow. "You and I are quite similar, I think. In more ways than one."

His eyes close for a moment, and he can be heard murmuring words quietly under his breath. "The second question I have for you is this, do you want children? And is…the one your with now, wanting children as well?"


ROLL: Wanda +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 67


Puzzled contemplation is not a look many young women wear, especially not outside the privacy of their bedrooms and secret hideaways in company of trusted best friends. This particular one, however, is a world unto herself, save the doublet of her DNA running about without a care in the world. That's a lie; Pietro has a horrific burden on his broad shoulders. She remains kneeling, touching the ground, learning the texture of stones left to the goats and children, the odd visitor, and those like herself drawn here for no apparent reason by the whim of the earth. She looks up the length of Merlin's arm to his face, the odd position so much like a knighthood, so much not. "Yes." No point in lying, for even as her language deserts her much of the time, it will serve in other ways.

She has to unpeel her tongue from her dry palate, the swollen weight a lead brand in her mouth rather than anything functional. For a time that stretches too long maybe he believes he will get no answer. It would be rude, but then so be it. But the sorceress finally finds her bearing. "Now? No. I make a bad mother, I think. We — my twin, I — hunt fiends and now guard. The same reason he cannot. The mantle of the Sorcerer Supreme must be free of… burdens. Like a priest of the Catholics. But with him?" The answer's there before she can stop it, forced out in a drop, pressurized into a diamond. "Yes." Her eyes widen and then shut, as though she can hide from her own veracity. "I said we would not be alone. If it came to be, I would… one day? One day."


"There are spells, of course, that can be done. Memories to be forgotten, or pain that could be transferred from yourself to me. Goodness knows it wouldn't be the first that I've taken another's suffering upon myself." Merlin says with a quiet sigh. "But that would hardly resolve the problem at hand." His tone, while quiet, carries a weight to it. Kneeling down next to Wanda, laying down his staff, he looks into her eyes, as if searching for some answer that might be in there.

"There are some that would say that it is never a wise time to bring a child into the world. Not words that I would live by, however." He murmurs. "The troubles are when you are in love with two people, and when those two people are in love with you. I have seen it happen before. In the time of Arthur, no less. It happened to his mother, when two men loved her. It happened to his wife, Guinevere, when he and another loved her. I will not say that it does not end in heartache. For there is always pain for those in love, when love must choose. However, love also heals. So whatever the choice you end up making? Love shall heal the wound that it initial creates. If there is but one thing I know of love, it is this."


This conversation is assuredly one of the most awkward possible for an orphan, and one of age at that. He could well be her grandfather, save Merlin is a millennium and change old, and by that dint, she murdered his greatest protégé. Temporarily murdered, but nonetheless… there are imbalances. "I cannot give this up," she says, shaking her head. "It is mine. Whatever passes, I carry. It is not right for a child, an adult child, to be forgotten. He came for a reason. He is out of his time and family. There was a reason, no? Time magic… time magic is not easy to do. I am not sure how he came to here, or why. But we live with this."

No one can fault her, hopefully, for failing to live up to her end of the bargain. She rolls her shoulders back and then narrows her eyes slightly. "I only want him, honoured one. I love only him. If never we were to be given children then I would not be like to look away. I am not a king, a queen, a special person, only me. I have thought… what if it was another? But my son looks like him. Even if it cannot be in flesh it is. That says something. I do not know. Only this child did not even know he was from my line until I told him. Because I knew. "


There's a knowing nod from Merlin. He does not feel awkwardness as others do. But that is not to say he cannot sense the discomfort in others. "I shall not attempt to quell spirit in this regard." He tells her. "And you are correct. Time magic is not easy. Once upon a time, I was once a master of it myself." He raises an eyebrow. "In this case, the question is whether he meant to come here, or whether time brought him here for some other purpose. If you wish, I can attempt to consult with the mystical energies of time and attempt to discover the reasons?"

"Be with him then. But do not say you are not a special person. Do you know, in well over a thousand years, I've not met someone who isn't at least a little bit important? Why…" He waves his hand, and in their line of sight appears a shimmering image of a sword in a stone, "The young man who pulled the sword from the stone?" The image of a young Arthur appears, walking toward the sword and stone. "That young Arthur? He may have been royalty, but that is not what made him special or important." Merlin tilts his head. "What made him special was his dedication and his loyalty and, above all, the love he held in his heart that he shared with others. And I see the same qualities in you, young Maximoff."


A look of trepidation lands like a stone in a pond, the ripples spreading through the amber cast of her warm complexion and leaving a mark that will last long beyond that. "You say we are like to one another. How?" Her curiosity guides Wanda to wonder, and how not? "Were you a twin?" It may be the least likely of sorts, but this is not a child raised to the waters of England and the soft, rolling green hills. Oh, she is a mountain child, true, and a forest child, but hers is a world of vitality and brutality, blood as much as his was. And perhaps remains, all said and done.

"I think we need know who they are. I looked for signs he was in illusion. A lie, a danger, something from the Hellmouth. But he is not," says the young woman quietly. "Nor does he use magic. The doctor is clear on that. I am as well. He uses a gift rare than that." What's rarer than magic? The blight in her soul, that's what, the making of her that was so profoundly unnatural.

But there lies a smile at the reflection of a man revealed by the wizard's hand, the shimmering youth of so many hopes and beliefs. "We all have many gifts. Yes. But I am on a hard path. I do good to make up for the bad. I want to see it safe. I suppose it is keeping the Sorcerer Supreme safe. There is not always reason I have that is all innocent. I love him, and so I do my best. But you were, once, like him. Are still. What must I do to keep him safe? All of us?"


"I sense something in you. In your very being that is much like myself. We are almost kin, you and I. Or, at the very least, kindred." It's a subtle difference, the meanings, very subtle. "We're similar in kind. More so, I think, than we are with Mister Doctor Strange, or his student, Illyana. At least, similar in…" He sighs. "Do you know much of your lineage, child?" He ponders, curious.

"Additionally, however, we have both been strangers in strange lands. Even England is not truly where I hail from." He explains, looking about. "I came here from elsewhere. Still Earth, but a place upon Earth long forgotten but by the tales of mortal men." He says quietly.

"The life of the Sorcerer Supreme is never truly safe. It is the Sorcerer Supreme's job to keep other's safe. To truly keep him safe, one would have to stop all mystical attacks upon this realm, so as to make it so he is not required." Merlin shakes his head. "Or there are always magical wards to keep objects and magic from doing him harm. Or…" He looks hesitant. "Or, there is magically imprisoning him, so that he cannot leave a certain place. Such as the Sanctum. But not even that is a task that I would suggest."


"I know a little. My father may live or likely is dead. I have no name for him. My mother was Marya, who died with us. Her brothers, Django and Tamas. Her father was Vilim, or Vilem. Her mother, I think, was Tsura. At least those were their gadzo names, the ones used among the people. They were travelers from Transia, but much further. Roma, you might call them." It tips her to why she is, perhaps, such a hunted creature if her age puts her true. Wanda nonetheless spreads her fingers. "My mother and her parents were witches and warlocks. It is through her I gain my magic, I know this." The words are spoken in a sense of distance, for they are not people to her, the warmth of familial memory and connection pressing and absent.

Merlin is given the wholeness of her attention while she rises, dusting off her fingers, leaving a touch of dirt on her coat and then on her fingertips. "Are you not here? Or is it another image of Earth? Like apples on a tree, identical, but not the same. I remember stories of some places this way."

She moves towards a wall high enough to support her if she leans against it. It's cold and her energy is not infinite, at least right now, though it may seem that way. The very things which make her endlessly connected to the earth have not yet opened, pathways still limited by inexperience, carved open the first time. "I ask the wrong thing. How do I help him? There is a word." She pauses, then tries German. "«Support. How do I support him best to have the strength he needs for this? Even the mighty cannot stand totally alone.»" Her gaze is troubled, if not unclear, and her lips press into a line. "He is like a god, but he is still a man. What did you need and not have when you were theirs?"


"Hmm." Merlin nods as he listens to her familial history. "Are there…do you know of…" He considers how to fully ask the question without sounding offensive as well. "Do you know if you are completely human?" It may sound like a strange question, but he's asked much stranger ones in his life time. "Transia sounds familiar. And I am certain familiar with who the Roma are." He nods a little.

Pulling himself up with his staff as Wanda stands, he smiles, shaking his head. "Not another Earth, no. An island named Ruta. It was once a piece of a larger place. Though I've oft wondered what these mirror Earths are like."

He listens intently to the questions, trying to think of the best ways to answer. "Unfortunately, I do not speak German." At least he picked up on the language. "But if German is easier for you than English, I promise I shall endeavour to learn it quite quickly." He tells her. "Are there any other languages that are easier for you to speak and understand, other than English?" He wants to ensure they can communicate as easily as possible.

"One thing to keep in mind, he must be kept grounded. If he believes himself a god, that could do much more damage than good. He must have humility." Which is why Merlin is often hard on the man. "The best thing, I believe, is for you to be there to support him. The nightmares, they are terrible things. He needs people who can keep him calm and that can remind him of who he is, who can keep him grounded in reality. I did not have that kind of support when I was Sorcerer Supreme."

Looking around, he says, "Come, walk with me. There are things to show you, writings hidden on walls and books hidden in floors you may find useful here." He speaks softly and starts puttering toward an entrance to the old, broken down castle, while he casts a light to shine the path in front of them.

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