For most people being kidnapped and chemically tortured would be the worst day of their life. Merlin is not most people.
Merlin’s given name is Fid, which might be even more of an oddball name than Merlin. Sometimes when dealing with people who he doesn’t want to tell his nickname to Fid tells people that this name is Frank, or even Francis, but that’s a lie, his name is Fid.
Fid’s dad was a wizard. Or maybe he still is, I don’t know, do you retain wizard status even after death? Fid figured this out when he was a kid. At first Fid didn’t really believe it, not really-really, he believed it the way kids believe they have imaginary friends. It’s just a thing you’re doing. But around 11 or 12 he started to really-really believe it.
Once Fid made the mistake of telling a friend about his wizard dad and how cool it was and that he was going to be a wizard too someday. Fid swore this friend to secrecy so of course that friend blabbed about it to everyone immediately. That’s when kids in school started calling Fid Merlin. He shut up about wizard dad from there on out but he never really had friends again after that. Not really-really friends.
It wasn’t great, having no friends, but Fid considered himself lucky anyhow because obviously his dad was going to teach him magic when he was old enough and they would go on super magic adventures together. He would be initiated into a secret world that the kids on the bus that shouted “Abracadabra” at him and put a dead rabbit in his backpack would know nothing about.
Maybe he’d use his magic to get back at those mean kids and maybe he wouldn’t. He would have the power to do it if he wanted is the point.
As the years dragged on though it never happened. 14, 15, 16, nothing. I mean if you’re not going to start teaching your son magic at 16 when are you going to start? Fid asked his mom about it once and she got so mad he thought she was going to slap him. Which for the record was not something they did in Fid’s house. She took away his computer and phone for a month. Fid would have preferred a slap.
On his 17th birthday Fid finally asked his dad what the hold-up was, when was he going to make with the magic training. Fid’s dad was shocked and confused that Fid had figured out his magical secret. He thought he had been so careful. Fid didn’t have the heart to tell his dad it had been obvious for years.
They had a long talk which is summed up thusly “Magic ain’t what it’s cracked up to be boy, I’m in bed with some dangerous people and I don’t want you involved in magic in any way.” At one point dear old day may have even rolled out that old chestnut “power corrupts”.
This was not what Fid wanted to hear. This was the worst day of his life. Worse than being kidnapped, strapped to an ambulance plastic board thing and having God knows what injected into his ball-bag to induce pain.
Turns out that forbidding a teenager to do something they’ve been dreaming about for years only makes them want it more. Who knew?
Fid started raiding his dad’s no-so-secret hiding places and trying to teach himself magic with the books and scrolls and whatnot. This resulted in many a shouting match and an escalating verbal war between Fid and his dad. After one particularly vitriolic blow-up that ended up with a classic kid against parents wrestling match, Fid hit the road looking for other paths to magical glory.
Six years later when Fid came back to the old homestead he hadn’t learned any magic, he had gleaned just enough to know that it was out there though. That magic was happening and no one was letting him in on their game.
Different people lived in his childhood home though. He tracked down mom at the trailer park living with some dude that was not his dad. Dad had disappeared years before. Mom knew dad was dead though, the people he got mixed up with came for him and took him away.
Fid didn’t care about his dad being dead, but he did want to know what happened to his notes and books about magic and knives that were surely just for ceremonial purposes and were never used on living things. When momma told him that she burned it all and tossed the knives in the lake Fid was upset. Upset enough that he might have taken a swing at her if his eventual stepdad hadn’t been there over her shoulder looking like he was just waiting for a reason to kick Fid’s scrawny ass.
Fid moved to REDACTED because despite the best efforts of the people that Grace is currently beefing with the place has a reputation as being one of the most haunted cities in America. Right up there with REDACTED, REDACTED, and REDACTED.
Fid got a job working doing data analytics for the city government, which took him about 2 hours a day, and spent the rest of his time trying to learn magic from the internet and wandering around REDACTED investing weird phenomena in his own personal X-Files scenario.
99% of what Fid was able to document was rubbish. There aren’t that many real magic people out there and they tend not to blab their secrets on the internet, but there are a lot of people that think they’re magic and love to blab their nonsense on the internet, and even more people that like making stuff up for shits and giggles.
Here’s the thing about Fid though, that 1% he gathered up still ended up being quite a nugget of magical deliciousness because of the sheer volume of his obsessive sifting. You do enough panning in the right place and you find can find some gold. From this kernel Fid learned, to his dismay, that he didn’t have “it”. He has as much chance of doing real magic as a snake has to playing in the NBA.
Fid didn’t have too much time to be down about that revelation though because that’s when They came to him with an offer. Fid never stopped to wonder how They knew about his quest or his voluminous research, he was just thrilled to become the magic advisor to the Power Brokers working to get REDACTED off that list of haunted places.
Meeting Grace, a real-life wizard, was the best day of his life. Which as we know was followed quickly by the second worst day of his life. That tends to happen when people meet Grace.