After the Fisher King was wounded in battle, the kingdom - which was linked to its ruler - began to fall into ruin as his condition worsened. It eventually became a barren wasteland; neither alive nor dead and populated by Wyverns, distant cousins of Dragons. It was also rumored that the King himself was still partially alive; his magic keeping him alive despite his wounds being fatal. In order to prove himself worthy to be king of Camelot, Arthur entered the Fisher King's realm to retrieve his Golden Trident. Encountering the Guardian of the Bridge, Arthur was told that the king had foreseen his arrival along with two others (Merlin and Gwaine), each known as Courage, Magic and Strength respectively, but dismissed the man's words, despite his cautioning that he may fail alone.After meeting up, the trio searched the castle to find the trident and Merlin eventually found himself trapped in the throne room after setting off a booby trap. It was there that Merlin encountered the king himself. He was unable to pass on into death and was therefore trapped in between. The king was glad Merlin had arrived at long last and called him Emrys, showing knowledge of his foretold birth and future role. He explained that a great evil was coming and that the Golden Age of Albion was also dawning, along with the time of the Once and Future King.
Remembering that Kilgharrah had already mentioned this, Merlin asked the king to explain, who said that the approaching evil would seek to destroy Albion unless Merlin stopped it. The king also had a gift for Merlin to aid him. The true prize of the Fisher King was not his trident but rather a vial of Water from the Lake of Avalon which he handed Merlin telling him when the time came he would know what to do. He also stated that he could save her, referring to Merlin's deceased lover Freya, though he didn't actually mention Freya's name. How the Fisher King knew about Merlin's relationship with Freya is unknown but considering he had foreseen that Merlin would visit him he may have foreseen Merlin falling in love with Freya too. The king then asked Merlin to give him a gift in return indicating Morgana's phoenix eye. Understanding Merlin put the charm on the king ending his life and freeing his spirit from limbo (The Eye of the Phoenix).