Now that our protagonist has gained an immense amount of power through trickery and bullshit—just like a modern day politician!—what does he do? Start a campaign to eliminate unjust economic conditions? Nah. He, in true White CisHet standards, complains about his diggity-dog-gone living arrangements.
“As for conveniences, properly speaking, there weren’t any. I mean little conveniences that make the real comfort of life. […] There was no soap, no matches, no looking-glass—except for a metal one, about as powerful as a pail of water” (47).
He goes on like this for a while complaining about a whole host of things. And though I sympathize with him about his dislocation, I also find him extremely whiny. Trust me, bro, others have it far worse than you in this century; though you can say that about many people in many different times, considering that the sixth century is supposed to be an extremely violent and turbulent place, I find it particularly annoying that Protag-man is complaining about creature comforts.
“I saw that I was just another Robinson Crusoe cast away on an uninhabited island, with no society but some more or less tame animals, and if I wanted to make life bearable I must do as he did—invent, contrive, create, organize things; set brain and hand to work, and keep them busy. Well, that was in my line” (48).
I was wondering when the Crusoe reference would inevitably emerge. But still, check out that elitism—he’s even more of an asshat than I imagined! Believing that those around him are, literally, tamed animals. Now, we are, of course, all animals, but Protag-man is not referring to humans in the evolutionary sense, rather, in the derogatory Speciest sense.
But Protag-man does have an otherworldly air about him. I guess that is why people start coming from all corners of Britain to see him; evidently, magicians are this epoch’s celebrities.
“I had to go out a dozen times a day and show myself to these reverent and awe-stricken multitudes” (49).
The burdens of being famous! Protag-man should get together with Eminem and compare notes on the poverty of being famous, shitty cock-heads. Perhaps they should start a charity to help make their inane whining more palpable? Or maybe they should just jump from a cliff and do the world a favor. Regardless, they should in the very minimum shut the fuck up.
But I digress.
But the poor, deluded masses begin clamoring for another miracle… or, well, a miracle which wasn’t a threat at global extinction. So Protag-man must, I know, do shit and shit and conjure about another moment of BS.
“Next, Clarence found that old Merlin was making himself busy on the sly among those people. He was spreading a report that I was a humbug, and that the reason I couldn’t accommodate the people with a miracle was because I couldn’t” (49).
Merlin really is a dick-wad. But, I guess it is as Highlander argues—‘there can only be one [bullshitter]!’ Merlin: sixth century Trotskyist wrecker.
So Merlin gets thrown in prison, as he rightfully deserves; Protag-man doesn’t take kindly to his subversive words. He now occupies the same cell that Protag-man occupied, how quaint! With that detail locked up, Protag-man is now free to work out his master plan—blow up Merlin’s tower by way of science!... well, lightening and stuff, but you get the idea.
Since Merlin’s tower is a massive, four-hundred year old Roman fortification, Protag-man takes it upon himself to create some ‘blowing powder’ to help along the process. He plans on putting it throughout the tower so as to have it ignite when the lightning strikes, thus blowing the whole thing to Timbuctoo. How’s that for a miracle‽
But the time comes for the ‘miracle’ to be performed. Protag-man has Merlin brought up and dares him to counter-act said miracle: he draws some fancy air circle. It does nothing.
“I made about three passes in the air, and then there was an awful crash and that old tower leapt into the sky with chunks, along with a vast volcanic fountain of fire that turned night to noonday, and showed a thousand acres of human beings groveling on the ground in a general collapse of consternation. Well, it rained mortar and masonry the rest of the week. This was the report; but probably the facts would have modified it" (52).
I’m surprised that this works. I mean, that it quite the feat, to make all that explosive powder, connect it with the proper materials, and then connect that material to a lightning rod and hope that the charge is enough to set off the whole thing. Sounds like there is a lot of room for it to go bad.
I love, though, that final sentence about the facts. At least Protag-man is very much aware of his duplicitous nature; that is what makes him readable, that he is a cipher for the colonizing ape. If he was not aware of his scheming nature, then he would be totally insufferable, but as he is knowledgeable of his asshat quality, he is fun to read.
But the miracle is effective and it satisfies the people, all of whom scamper back to their hamlets after the tower is blown to high heaven. Protag-man shows Merlin mercy and takes him on as an underling, even rebuilding his tower at government expense (the protagonist’s words, not mine), though Merlin never thanks Protag-man for said mercy. I guess con-men stick together.