"Nimue," said Arthur, "I want to speak to you about the Round Table."
Nimue licked her lips. "I'm afraid I can't do whatever it is you're about to ask."
"You would be a fantastic asset to our exploration program," Arthur insisted. "Your experience, your advice, the things you could teach us even in an unofficial advisory capacity -"
"No," said Nimue. "I can't do that. I cannot become known to your civilization. And I can't explain why."
"Nimue -" Arthur was astounded. "You are exactly what we came out here to discover! You can't just drop in for a day and a half and leave! Merlin, tell her."
"She's right, Captain," said Merlin. "We're not ready for the power she represents, not even Benwick. She must be allowed to go, and no mention of her must appear in official Excalibur records, now or ever."
Arthur turned an incredulous look on him; Merlin's driving curiosity surpassed even that of most of the Britons on the ship who'd joined the Round Table to see space. But the king was too exhausted to fight. "All right, all right! Have it your way. This time." He started to dismiss them, then pointed a finger at Nimue. "But if we meet again, we'll hash this out. Merlin, show them back to their ... CAVE." He waved them away and the incognito sorceror led them out into the ship's corridors.
"Merlin," Nimue asked as he led her and Isis along, "why did you support me against King Arthur?"
"I can't tell you that," Merlin said.
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