The Queen’s Podcast – #11

Two years prior to the death of Arthur, the Great Wizard gave Lady Isabella strict orders to preserve the best years of King Arthur’s life, when he reigned. Isabella was gifted the echo stone: the power to capture her voice and forever keep it locked away until Camelot needed the resolve left in the good times.

Lady Isabella tells us about the latest with the beloved characters of Camelot, this week’s episode changing the pace, but how long can she keep her secret?

Episode #11

~In the Blink of an Eye~

Mischief is heard in the voice of scheming visitors. Lady Isabella, eavesdropping on their conversation, finds herself in the middle of it, and is only helped by chivalry.

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The Terrifying Quality of the Afanc from BBC’s Merlin

Merlin Series 1, Episode 3, The Mark of Nimueh: The monstrous afanc emerges from behind the dim cavernous walls, disgusting, chilling our very bones. Prince Arthur, Merlin, and Lady Morgana panic when they see it, drooling with a mouth full of fangs, as it slinks heftily, ever creeping, closer. Arthur, in full battle posture, ready to protect and defend, strikes the afanc, grimly territorial. Merlin is ready, too. They understand why they are here. They cannot run. The afanc, described by Gaius as the darkest kind of magic, looks hungrily at its prey, but Merlin uses his own magic to destroy the monster before it makes a meal out of the lady or the prince.

What is an afanc?

Not too much is known about the afanc, except that it is a mythical creature deriving from a handful of legends, originally. Some say it looks like a crocodile, while others say it’s like a beaver.

Apparently, in Wales, the origin of Arthurian legend, crocodiles are an uncommon sight and if seen would surely cause room for worry. In two internet articles (Mirror and The Telegraph), there are claims of crocodiles being sighted, yet in both cases, the final conclusion was made that there was no threat. Could it have been that the original afanc was a crocodile? The answer cannot be found.

The design of the afanc on BBC Merlin is an example, in my opinion, of good sculpturing, and when you see behind-the-scene shots of the afanc costume being designed, you may feel a bit like you stepped into a Jim Henson studio, or you stepped back into the costume room of Doug Jones’ latest monster suits. The afanc thrilled us: it engaged the cast enough for us to feel their fright when they discovered it in the shadows, and it cinched our hate for Nimueh, the sorceress who brought it to being, as an antagonist.

If you’ve watched The Mark of Nimueh and seen the afanc, you may be thinking that the afanc doesn’t look much like a crocodile or a beaver, but I want to show you the similarities. First, take a look at my sketch of the afanc.

I think the likeness of a crocodile comes from the “something lurks in the waters” quality, the scare score. Crocodiles camouflage, lurk and “pounce” on prey from an unknown source, suddenly they strike unexpected, and that’s why I think, on a story level, building suspense, they were inspired by a crocodile. Meanwhile, the beaver has a little hand, connecting to an arm ending with an elbow and body, and the hand has got 5 claws, 3 longer ones and 2 short, end ones. Similarly, the afanc from Merlin has 4 claws, 3 longer and 1 short. Beavers and afancs are both brown, and their skull structure has a striking resemblance, stout and squared, despite the fact afanc has ferocious fangs and a lack of eyes, like a mole you’d find digging up your garden. Maybe that’s because the designers wanted to go with a cave monster feel, underdeveloped eyes, as opposed to the lake monster feel that afancs have from legend, which really proves the originality of the show.

That’s how a designer designs a monster to be inspired from, and yet unique of, the original mythical creature: They take an image of a beaver and crocodile – which admittedly, isn’t that scary when you combine the two by conventional means – and deform them to make something terrifying. That’s why I say that the artists who sculpted the afanc had to be brilliant.

In conclusion, I have a final thought about the Mark of Nimueh show, about how it cast a light on our heroes: the afanc was perhaps the first moment we see Prince Arthur and Merlin work together as a team, and as for Lady Morgana, it was the first time we see horror on her face to that degree. Diving into speculation about Lady Morgana, I wonder, did she have reason to feel traumatized by this event? Did it somehow cause her own soul to undergo a transformation of fear, unlocking sorcery in her own fate? It’s unsettling, but imagine Nimueh, the first of the three high priestesses, having a hand in the spiritual “coronation” of Morgana as high priestess. Nimueh foresaw the future and influenced it by conjuring the afanc so she could deprave the soon-to-be-witch’s psyche. Subtext we will never be privy to except through fan fiction.

Merlin’s Influence

Merlin was always trying to do what was best, even when he didn’t know how or didn’t know what “best” was. Often times, he even won others over to good, even without trying. All he had to do was be himself: kind, loyal, and patient.

Scene from Series 5, Episode 8: “The Hollow Queen”

Daegal: You have magic, Merlin.

Merlin: Yes.

Daegal: And you live in Camelot. Does anyone know?

Merlin: Only Gaius.

Daegal: Not Arthur?

Merlin: No. And if he ever found out, he’d probably hang me.

Daegal: But you still help him?

Merlin: I have to. It’s my job.

Daegal: But he would kill you.

Merlin: In his heart, he’s a good man, and I know that one day he’ll bring about a world we will dream of.


Please leave a reply down below sharing your favorite moment in the show when Merlin influenced another character to do the right thing.

From Legend: The Round Table

     After Uther Pendragon had become king of Britain, Merlin the seer took him aside and asked him to perform a certain deed that would make his reign forever memorable.  Uther responded, saying that he would do whatever was possible for man to accomplish. 

     “Sir, after the pattern of the table on which Christ ate the Last Supper and the table of Joseph of Arimathæa, will you establish a third table, which shall be of great service to body and soul, and one of the things in the world most renowned.”

     Uther answered Merlin, saying that he would allow Merlin to prepare the table whenever he saw fit.  Merlin declared that he would himself select such knights as were worthy to sit at the board. Then Merlin went to Carlisle, where he constructed the table, making it round, in order that it might resemble the habitable earth.

     Merlin chose the most honorable knights to be seated at the table, but left one place unfilled.  The court gathered in Carlisle for two weeks, and when it came time for them to leave, they said they were unwilling to go, but wished to send for their wives and children, and remain in that place; for as briefly as they knew each other, they loved each other as father and son, and were resolved never to part company, until they should be separated by death.

     When Uther heard their words, he exclaimed that it was by the will of the LORD that the table had been established, and asked Merlin to reveal who it was that would occupy the empty place.  Merlin replied that the seat would not be filled during Uther’s reign, for the knight who was destined to sit there was not yet born.  But that those things should befall in the time of the next king.  After he had spoken, Merlin went away from the court. 

     It pleased the king to keep Christmas in London, and the court was full of knights, dames, and damsels.

-from “King Arthur and the Table Round, Volume 2”, written by William Wells Newell (abridged by @BBCMerlinJunkie)

The Legend of Two Dragons.

Straight from the legends…

When the young lad Merlin was brought before King Vortigern he asked: “why have your messengers brought me here?”

“My wise men,” answered the king, “have advised me to sacrifice a fatherless boy on the grounds which my tower is to be built. Unless I do this I shall be unable to build it.”

“Command the wise men here, and I will prove that they have lied to you,” the lad replied.

The king, amazed by the boy’s words, commanded the wise men to come. When they appeared before him, Merlin began to question them.

“Who told you to tell the king to sacrifice me? Speak, and tell us straightforwardly who told you to do this.” When they didn’t answer him, he turned to the king and said: “I will shortly explain everything to you, but first I wish to question your wise men.”

Then turning again to the wise men he continued, “Tell us. What is it that lies hidden beneath the foundation, for there is something that will not allow it to be built?” The wise men were filled with fear, and did not speak. So Merlin continued:

“My lord the king, tell your workmen to dig the soil, and you will find a pool beneath it that prevents that building of the tower.”

When this was done, a pool was found under the earth, just as the lad had said.

Now command, O king, that the pool be drained, and in the bottom you will find two sleeping dragons.”

The king, believing Merlin’s words, commanded that the pool should be drained. As the king sat and watched, the two dragons woke up and came forth from the pool, the one white and the other red.

When the dragons came near to each other, they began to struggle with each other in a fiery combat. The white dragon, the stronger of the two, drove the red dragon to the edge of the pool. But the red dragon fought back, falling on his enemy fiercely, and forcing the white dragon back into the pool. This happened three times before the red dragon regained his strength and drove the white dragon away from the pool. He pursued the white dragon until both disappeared.

“The meaning of this mystery is clear,” began the lad. “The pool is a symbol of this country, and the two dragons are two races who fight for its possession. The red dragon signifies Britain, who will be oppressed for a long time by the white dragon, which signifies the Saxons. In the end, the Britons will arise and drive forth the Saxons beyond the sea, where they came from, just as the red dragon drove the white dragon from the pool.”

-from “Heroes of Old Britain: Retold from Geoffrey of Monmouth” (abridged by @bbcMerlinJunkie)

The Queen’s Podcast – #3

Two years prior to the death of Arthur, the Great Wizard gave Lady Isabella strict orders to preserve the best years of King Arthur’s life, when he reigned. Isabella was gifted the echo stone: the power to capture her voice and forever keep it locked away until Camelot needed the resolve left in the good times.

Would you like to explore a haunted forest if given the chance? Lady Isabella loves to explore. She decided to explore the darkling woods, but finds herself intruding on a royal pother.

Episode #3

~A Glittering Surprise~

Exploring old forests always bring a magical treat- the woods outside Camelot holds no exception for Lady Isabella as she hikes the hidden pathways between trees and brushes. The magic becomes real as she discovers the king and queen in the forest too, along with a knight. It seems there’s magic in the woods, and they must discover what the cause of the magic is. Can Lady Isabella set the royals’ minds at ease with her knowledge?

Merlin Series 4: Episode 4 “Aithusa”

Fanfiction written by @bbcmerlinjunkie


EXT. CAMP SITE – DEAD OF NIGHT

MERLIN, surrounded by sleeping knights, thinks about the warning sent to him by the druids, about the triskelion and the trap awaiting those who seek the dragon’s egg.

GWAINE, awakened, senses MERLIN’s insomnia.

GWAINE: Merlin?

MERLIN, sitting, silently waits for the moment to pass, hoping to remain unnoticed.

GWAINE: You’re unable to sleep?

MERLIN’s lack of words pierces the night air with a somber mood.

GWAINE: What is it, is it the mission that’s got you?

MERLIN: Yeah.

GWAINE: You don’t want to see the dragon egg destroyed?

MERLIN: I want what’s best.

GWAINE: (wishing for more) What’s best?

A comeback of nothing. Not what GWAINE expected. He finds himself holding a conversation with himself.

GWAINE: Whatever’s best, subjected to the one beholden. Take knights, they want to ensure the dragon becomes no monster, so they want to see it peacefully depart.

GWAINE: (beat) Take the king, however, who is beholden to his reign. He wants victory, in hopes the people will admire him, so he wants to kill it.

GWAINE: (beat) Say what does a manservant like Merlin think’s best?

Manservant and dragonlord. At war with himself, MERLIN answers as manservant.

MERLIN: (conflicted) Whatever the king wants.

GWAINE: (with fervor) There you have it.

ELYAN, suddenly entering his opinion, interjects sense.

ELYAN: We’re protecting the people. It isn’t hard to understand why we cannot allow a dragon’s egg to fall into the hands of wrong people. What if the lady Morgana got ahold of the egg? We need to deal with it now, before it becomes trouble.

GWAINE: (defensive) And befriending the dragon isn’t an option? War’s not always the answer.

ELYAN: (sits up) You’re too easy about this. Camelot won’t prosper if a wild beast stronger than mankind is let loose on the farms and fields.

Shuffling and disturbance from another knight, PERCIVAL’s voice, the sound of valor, rings out, the argument turning to friendship. MERLIN wishes he hadn’t made a peep or a noise, the druids had never called, and he was comfortably snoozing.

PERCIVAL: Is there a problem?

ELYAN: Gwaine wants to befriend dragons.

GWAINE: Elyan is a killing machine.

MERLIN: (admittance) I couldn’t sleep and woke Gwaine.

Awkward silence. It almost seems the argument is over.

GWAINE: Let’s do it Elyan’s way! Tomorrow we’ll locate the egg and divide it between us, put it on to roast, and dine well. Eat like barbarians.

Boom. The sarcasm.

Then the unexpected comes from LEON.

LEON: Before we’re asleep, the dragon will be in his egg no more, flown overhead and caught fire to the camp, and it will be the end of it. Perhaps call it a day and get some shuteye?

Each man takes the invitation – if not a subtle demand – relaxes, and the night air is heard once more, their breathing growing heavier and the sounds of owls hooting. ARTHUR remains quiet but is wide-awake, taking in the conversation. MERLIN – with his inner dragonlord – is left debating his option of troubles.


Images (feature and one above) found on www.farfarawaysite.com.

Dream League: Join Team Excalibur

Merlin Series 1: Episode 2 “Valiant”

Fanfiction written by @bbcmerlinjunkie


EXT. CAMELOT TRAINING GROUNDS – LATE AFTERNOON

MERLIN watches ARTHUR training with a few other KNIGHTS. ARTHUR is sword fighting, readying himself for the tournament which will happen within the week.

MORGANA and GWEN approaches, MORGANA dressed in clothes to fight in, holding a dulled training sword. ARTHUR doesn’t notice her approaching, but MERLIN does.

MERLIN: (to Arthur) A challenger.

ARTHUR doesn’t even look MORGANA’s way.

MORGANA: I hope you’re ready for a real fight. You won’t stand a chance.

ARTHUR: Lady Morgana. That’s nice of you to come cheer me on in my practice sessions, but it’s not necessary.

MORGANA: Hardly. I’m here to test your fighting skills.

GWEN steps up beside MERLIN, ready to watch the confrontation. ARTHUR is still fighting the KNIGHT.

GWEN: Hello, Merlin.

MERLIN: (acknowledgement)

MERLIN shifts to give GWEN space. ARTHUR’s current fight breaks up as he turns to look at MORGANA. The KNIGHT he was fighting with retreats, respectful.

ARTHUR: Wait, Morgana. What are you doing?

MORGANA: You know King Uther won’t let me fight. I figured I can just beat the victor before he even wins. That’ll make me the true champion.

ARTHUR: Thanks for the vote of confidence, but you can’t just come out here ready to fight and expect to win. Do you even know how to use the sword?

MORGANA: (to Gwen) He’s just afraid that I’m going to beat him at his own game.

ARTHUR: No, that’s not true. Battle’s no place for a lady.

GWEN: (looks at Morgana, expectantly)

ARTHUR turns to MERLIN and motions for him to follow. He starts to walk to another part of the field. MORGANA follows.

ARTHUR: (to Merlin) Just ignore her. She’ll go away.

MORGANA: Ignore me at your own risk. I’m not going anywhere until you fight me.

GWEN: (to Merlin) Morgana is an excellent sword bearer.

MERLIN approaches ARTHUR who is blatantly avoiding MORGANA.

MERLIN: (to Arthur quietly) You’re not intimidated.

ARTHUR: (exchanges a look with Merlin)

MERLIN: (quoting Arthur) ‘How’s your mace work coming along?’ You said to me.

MERLIN: (defending Morgana) It seems she has listened.

MERLIN: (whispers) Go easy.

ARTHUR finally gives in. He turns to face MORGANA and twirls his sword, showing off, but seems bothered at the turn of events.

ARTHUR: Fine. But don’t cry when it hurts.

MORGANA: You’ll be the one crying.

ARTHUR and MORGANA begin to fight, but it’s obvious that MORGANA is skilled. Their swords clink several times before MORGANA starts attacking harder. Her strength takes ARTHUR off guard, and she begins to push him back. All he can do is defend himself.

MERLIN: (to Gwen) Whoa! That’s not what I was expecting.

Another one of MORGANA’s hits slam ARTHUR hard.

MERLIN: I didn’t see that coming!

GWEN: (admittedly) It’s because of her father. She was his sparring partner.

MERLIN: Can Arthur compete?

MORGANA: (to Arthur) You’re not even trying.

ARTHUR: Morgana! Calm down. You don’t want to kill me; you’re just testing my strength, remember?

MORGANA continues attacking heavily, sure of herself. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that she’ll win the fight. Several KNIGHTS draw near to the battle, trying to find a break where they can defend their prince.

One KNIGHT takes the initiative to stop the fight; holding a shield, he rams harshly into MORGANA, shoving her with the shield to make her fall down. Another KNIGHT quickly comes over to ARTHUR to check on him, while GWEN rushes to assist MORGANA.

ARTHUR: I’m fine.

ARTHUR steps over to MORGANA to help her up.

ARTHUR: You were good.

MORGANA refuses ARTHUR’s help, her pride hurt. GWEN helps her up instead, and she gratefully takes her friend’s help.

MORGANA: You’re a fraud! You couldn’t accept defeat, could you?

ARTHUR: You were coming at me too forcefully. I couldn’t fight back like that.

MORGANA: That wasn’t fair!

MORGANA starts to leave, offended. ARTHUR is obviously sorry for what happened.

ARTHUR: Morgana!

MORGANA turns to meet ARTHUR’s call with a hurt gaze.

MORGANA: Don’t expect an applaud from me on the day of the tournament. I’ll be rooting for someone with more propriety and honor.