"You wished to speak with me, sire?" Gaius asked, peaking his head through the council room door.
"Ah, yes," replied Uther, glancing up from the laptop he had been staring at excitedly. "I wanted your opinion on something, Gaius," he said.
"I am here to serve," answered the physician, inclining his head respectfully.
"I have been watching moving pictures on something called 'youtube' -don't look at me like that; Sir Leon has been showing me how to use this infernal device- and I have come up with a brilliant way to spend our extra tax revenue."
"What is it, my lord?"
"I wish to install cameras on the streets of Camelot." At his advisor's incredulous look, he continued. "Gaius, don't you see? We've been presented with the perfect opportunity! If we can constantly watch all of our citizens, we can find out who is unlawfully practicing magic."
"But sire, Camelot has dozens of streets and alleyways. Surely it would not be practical to manufacture that many cameras, let alone install them all."
Uther shook his head. "I have also discovered a marketplace inside of the computer called 'e-bay,' where a merchant called 'bondlover007' claims to be willing to sell hundreds for a very reasonable price."
"How do you know if he is trustworthy? Has Camelot done business with this man before?"
"Well, no. But according to the website, he has received 95% positive feedback, and is a 'top-rated seller.'"
Gaius tried a different tack. "All right, assuming you can get the cameras, how are you going to put them up?"
"I can assign a squadron of knights to the task. The cameras come with installation instructions that are supposed to be easy to follow, so they should have them all operational within a few days."
"And then what?"
"Well, I could assign people to watch the video feed and report every time they witness magic being used."
Gaius looked at the eagerness on his King's face, and sighed. "I think that is a wonderful idea, sire."
Gaius spent the rest of the afternoon and evening searching for a spell to reverse the one currently cursing the land, with little success. Eventually, he dozed off gently, head cushioned by Geoffrey of Monmouth's personal tome, Technology for Dummies. He was woken abruptly in the middle of the night by a scuffling noise. Gaius sat up with a groan to see Merlin halfway across the room, an electric torch gripped tightly in one hand, and a guilty expression on his face.
"Merlin, what are you doing?" he asked wearily.
"Erm…nothing. I just wanted to get a snack from the refrigerator," answered Merlin, his eyes darting everywhere but Gaius' face.
"I see. So you weren't planning on going to ask the Great Dragon for advice on our current situation?"
Gaius sighed. "Merlin, you have to be very careful. There aren't just guards to avoid anymore- you have to stay out of the cameras' sights as well."
"I know," Merlin said earnestly. "But I'll be fine. I've found a spell in my book that will make me invisible."
"Invisibility spells are notoriously unpredictable," Gaius warned. "Can you actually do it reliably?"
"Erm, well I can make one foot invisible at a time. But I'm working on it. I think I might need a bone of a leech for it to work properly. Do leeches even have bones?"
Gaius stood slowly, and stretched his sore back, groaning. He took the torch from Merlin, and put a hand on the boy's shoulders guiding him back to his room. "I'll find a way to reverse this spell, Merlin. You don't have to worry about it."
Merlin allowed himself to be led back gently. Gaius triple-deadbolted his door, though, just in case.
Gaius had decided to take advantage of the situation, and was heating Morgana's sleeping draught on his new hotplate, when suddenly he heard sirens outside his window. Moments later, Merlin burst in, followed by two knights bearing Arthur on a stretcher. Merlin shoved everything off the table, and the knights carefully transferred the prince onto it.
"Merlin! What happened?" Gaius exclaimed, rushing over to examine Arthur.
"We just got back from a hunting trip. Arthur was dismounting, when one of the knights drove past on a motorcycle. The noise must have spooked Arthur's horse, because it started flailing around, and kicked Arthur in the chest."
Gaius nodded his understanding, then turned to the knights. "Thank you, that will be all," he told them. They bowed slightly and left.
"Merlin, bring me the x-ray machine," Gaius ordered. Merlin did so, then fetched two heavy lead aprons as well. "Now stand back," Gaius warned, went over to the computer, and pressed a few buttons. Nothing happened. "Why isn't this working?" he asked.
Merlin leaned over and looked at the screen. "You haven't turned it on," he answered.
"I thought it turned on automatically."
"No, that's just the light in the throne room."
"So how do you work this dratted machine?"
Merlin carefully inspected the monitor until he found the power button, and flicked it. The computer lit up silently, and an image of Arthur's broken ribs slowly appeared on the screen.
"Why do they have to make it so hard to use?"
Merlin shook his head, and said nothing. After a few minutes waiting for the computer to print the x-rays, Gaius turned to Merlin and quietly asked, "Why didn't you use magic to calm the horse?"
"There's a security camera in the stables. Uther would have seen," Merlin explained.
Gaius grimaced. "I'm still working on reversing the spell," he assured the young warlock. "I'm sure I'll come across the solution soon."
He then turned his attention to the computer screen, and sighed in relief. "Arthur is going to be fine. There are only a few ribs broken, and they didn't pierce anything important."
Merlin smiled, then a look of horror settled on his face. "Gaius, what if Arthur decides that he wants a motorcycle? Those things will kill him faster than any assassin!"
A week later Gaius was no closer to a solution, although he was well on his way to insanity. He swore if he heard the tinny sounds of "Pokerface" emerging one more time from Lady Morgana's chambers, he was going to… Best not to complete that thought, he decided. Who knew when Uther's campaign to wipe out all privacy in Camelot would extend to the commissioning of machines that could read citizens' thoughts?
Instead, he focused his attention on ridding Camelot of its plague. Googling "how to reverse a spell that has caused technological advances" gave him almost a hundred thousand results, none of them actually relevant to the task at hand, although he did learn quite a bit about the evils of globilization. Dratted computers. So, he turned back to his books, which had never failed him in the past.
After going through his entire library, though, as well as that of Geoffrey of Monmouth, Gaius finally had to concede defeat. Besides, according to his watch, Strictly Come Dancing would be starting soon. The physician stretched stiffly, and leaned back slightly in his chair, causing one of the legs to slip off of the book that, unbeknownst to him, had been keeping it level.
Gaius frowned, and bent over to pick it up, without much hope. He began flipping through it quickly, determined not to miss the beginning of his favourite show. But then his eye caught on a picture. He stared at it for a moment, not comprehending what he saw, then realization struck him.
He leapt up, weariness forgotten, and danced around the room with the book, laughing madly. He would go to the King immediately! Well, immediately after Strictly Come Dancing.
Gaius entered the throne room as Uther was finishing a skype chat with the King of East Anglia, and waited respectfully until he was motioned over. Excitedly, he announced, "Sire, I know how to reverse the enchantment!"
"We must organize an annual event where the public is entertained in an effort to get people to donate money to Pudsey."
"What does this entertainment entail?"
"Skits, songs, getting pelted by rotten vegetables… Merlin has already agreed to do anything to help."
Uther smiled broadly. "Wonderful, Gaius! I knew you would come up with a solution. But could we hold off on reversing the spell until I've found out whether or not I've actually won a trip to the Carribbean from this ad?"