By Theresa Meyers
What happened before:
Last time we met King Arthur back in San Francisco as he was hot on the trail of MacBeth and Demona. MacBeth had stolen Excalibur, and had broken into the Museum to steal a priceless fourth century cup, the Cup of Morgan Le Fay.
Charles Quin Cassidy, a photojournalist, and his girlfriend Marianne
Ellis were attacked in the museum as they tried to stop the robbery. Arthur
saved them, and they took him to the safety of Marianne's apartment. However,
Elisa, friend of the Gargoyles, happened to track them down and joined
them at the apartment.
Now we continue:
"The Challice is gone!" Xanatos gasped as he saw the broken glass. "Who could have dared take it from me?"
His wife Fox Xanatos gritted her teeth. "That's what I was trying to tell you, my love. It could be anyone. Even the Gargoyles!"
"Why would we steal from you?" Hudson growled as he and Lexington entered the castle. The smaller Gargoyle took in the shards of glass strewn upon the floor. Xanatos and his wife glared at the two newcomers. Xanatos sighed.
"Forgive me for being a bit on edge..." Xanatos answered. "But our past... difficulties have put me on edge..."
"Mm. We've all been there, lad," Hudson nodded. "But what I'm worried aboot is Elisa. She's all the way in San Francisco guarding yon new artifact..."
"Ah good. The Chalice should be safe... I pray, from that fool MacBeth. He offered to buy it from me for two million dollar."
"I hope you refused," Lexington said. "That Chalice is bad news... I bet ya anything that Demona and MacBeth were the ones who got that item back..."
Xanatos and Hudson's blood froze. "If that's the case we're all in trouble," Xanatos muttered.
Fox drew in her breath. "Did you say the Chalice was in San Francisco dear? But one of my good friends is there..."
"I'm sure Elisa will stop them... or at least figure out their next move..." Hudson said. "I pray she does..."
"So do I. My good friend Marianne Ellis works there..."
"Marianne Ellis? The forensic biochemist?" Xanatos asked. "Didn't you have me send her research group those artifacts last month?"
"Yes dear," she answered. "but if MacBeth tries to steal the chalice..."
The phone rang. Xanatos reached at his belt. Anger darkened his face. For a tense moment Hudson and Lexington exchanged glances with Fox.
"That was my insurance company," Xanatos said quietly. "The Chalice is gone..."
"Saint Michael this is a wonder," he breathed, trying to quell the queasiness in his stomach. Elisa nodded, hoping the High King of ancient Camelot would not have any problems with motion sickness.
"Welcome to LaGuardia airport," said the woman's voice over the loudspeaker. "Prepare to disembark as soon as the plane pulls up to the terminal. Do not, I repeat, please do not unfasten your seatbelts till the plane has come to a complete stop..."
Elisa picked up her duffle bag as she got ready to leave the crowded plane. Charles Quin Cassidy followed, gripping his camera bag in one hand. In the other he squeezed Marianne's hand. Behind them shuffled King Arthur, who worried about his armor in the baggage far below. As usual they disembarked. Elisa stuck close to Arthur Pendragon, making sure he was at ease. Yet his warrior instincts were fully awake, ready to combat any such danger that may arise. Marianne had found Arthur a suit of clothing from her brother Cameron's closet so he could more completely blend in. Good job they were about the same size.
From the airport they rushed, in Elisa's car. Wending their way through the evening rush hour traffic. Arthur had seen New York a time ago, when he'd hidden away in MacBeth's luggage in order to follow his enemy. It was no less impressive now, swarming with lanterns that flickered far brighter than any torch, and horseless carriages rumbling with the stench of smoke. How far removed from his own time!
"My sister and I used t' live here," Chas told Marianne. "In Queens... just across the river..."
"There is a city for royal wives?" Arthur wondered.
"No such luck," Elisa quipped. "It's just a name... and believe me royalty are the last people who live in Queens..."
Every so often they'd notice as Elisa glanced up at the sky. As if searching for some one, or some thing familiar. Marianne wondered what.
Till they pulled to the base of a large structure, a skyscraper bearing the name "Xanatos Conglomerates Inc." And Marianne suddenly realized the connection.
"You know Xanatos?" she asked Elisa. "As in the husband of Fox?"
"Hey, that's two of us," Elisa said. "I never knew you knew Fox..."
"She and I were at school together," Marianne said. "At University. Where I obtained my Master's degree in Genetics... she was studying her own science degree..."
Fox was standing in the huge sitting room when they came in, escorted by a blonde man with narrow glasses. Marianne knew him to be Xanatos' personal assistant, managing all the affairs for Xanatos so his operations ran smoothly. But Fox rushed to greet her before she could get a better glimpse.
"Marianne! What a surprise! Thank fate you are all right," Fox said to her old friend. The two women embraced.
"Fox you're looking well, luv! I had heard you had a complete recovery from your disease... and how is your son?"
"Doing well," said she. "My husband is not here to greet you properly, but the others..." here she noticed Elisa, Arthur Pendragon, and Charles Cassidy. "Elisa... come in... I trust the flight came easily..."
"Everything ran quite smoothly," said Xanatos' assistant dryly. "Shall I inform him that they have arrived..."
"Yes," Fox said. "But I must know... it was stolen?"
"Indeed," said Elisa.
"Who are these two handsome gentlemen?" Fox asked, as her eyes met those of Chas Cassidy, and Arthur Pendragon.
"Two allies," said Elisa. "But we don't have much time..."
"If the Chalice has been stolen we are all in great danger," rumbled a deep voice that split the silence. Marianne drew in her breath as an eight foot giant strode into the room, his rough hewn features grey like granite. Two eyes blazed with intense power, yet softened as they took in Elisa. It was a creature much like the one that attacked them in the museum.
"Good Lord!" Marianne gasped, and would have run had Chas not held her arm and whispered in her ear, "IT's all right, lass. He's on our side..."
"But... he's... one... of them," Marianne choked, then forced herself to look him in the face. Elisa and Arthur showed no fear.
"Your majesty, I am at your service," the creature said, bowing respectfully. The long cloak he wore was clasped at his throat, parted briefly to reveal a massive chest and powerfully clawed legs. Marianne realized this cloak was really the creature's vast membranous wings, clasped together with a small set of hands fused with the wing itself. A real gargoyle!
"Goliath, these are friends," Elisa said, taking his hand as he offered it. With great delicacy he clenched her tiny hand in his massive one, in greeting. A smile spread over the face.
"I greet ye as well, Leader of your clan," Chas spoke, inclining his head to Goliath. The gargoyle smiled, nodding to Chas.
"Enough with the introductions," Fox said. "How are we going to get that artifact back?"
"It's more than just an artifact," Chas said, "If ye please ma'am. It should ha ne'er been taken from it's resting place..."
"The blacksmith is right," Goliath nodded. "It is dangerous magic."
"It rightfully belongs to my husband and I," Fox said firmly. "And Xanatos will be wanting it back..."
"What is important is that it gets returned," Elisa stepped in. "And we'll argue over who owns what later!"
"As always you are right," Goliath nodded. "And we must decide what is to be done! For even now we are missing the Challice of Morgana..."
"The Challice?" everyone gasped, for different reasons. Goliath led them into the sitting room, where Fox excused herself. She had other business to attend to. But what hit her as very odd were the strange creatures perched before the wide screen tv. Marianne realized they were all gargoyles, of various sizes and shapes clustered around the tv just like children.
A grizzled old Gargoyle sat in an easy chair, with an oddly shaped dog
at his feet. A fat gargoyle munched popcorn as a slender large headed one
leaned on his forelegs headlong. The other, a reddish fellow with a long
beak, shook his head of jet gold hair. Each distinctive, each with their
own whimsical yet powerful features stared at that television much like
Marianne's mummy friends did at theirs!
"This Eclipse business sounds interesting, Lexington," the fat gargoyle said the the smaller one.
"Certainly is, Broadway. Just think, we used to see them all the time, and for that one moment we could see the sun..."
"Ringed from behind the moon, a portal of night," Broadway sighed. Sitting next to him, the female gargoyle smiled admirably at him.
"Hmm, if I can get used to Mummies existing, why not Gargoyles," she half laughed, at Goliath. He had noticed her initial fear, and moved close to her to assure her they were not to be frightened of. Indeed he was quite gentle to Elisa, and Marianne noticed the great affection betwixt the creature and the policewoman. Like she and Rath had once done, these two beings from different times and worlds had dared cross lines in a unique relationship.
Bronx sniffed the air, and rushed to Goliath and Elisa. They greeted him well. Meanwhile Chas moved over to the older Gargoyle in the easy chair, as if he recognized an old friend. Much chattering went on as Marianne was almost knocked over by the gargoyle dog Bronx, and assaulted with excited questions from the smaller gargoyle, Lexington. It turned out he loved science, and wished to discuss much with her.
"Are you a geneticist?" Lexington asked her.
"Uh, I separate DNA... and learn what made people die, in order to help me elucidate how they lived..." she found herself saying to Lexington as if he was a colleague."
"I was reading about your recent work on Mummies in the latest Science magazine," Lexington said. "I'd love to know about electrophoresis, and how it's used to separate DNA..."
"Perhaps later," Marianne smiled.
Chas and Hudson spoke quietly to one side. "Tis been a long time, lad," Hudson murmured in his Scottish brogue.
"Aye, it's good t' see an old friend again," Chas said, clasping the gargoyle's large hand. "And you've finally passed the mantle on to a younger one..."
"I've still got a few good years of fighting in me yet, m'lad," Hudson said. Arthur noticed this familiarity with interest.
"What exactly does this Chalice do?" asked the female gargoyle, named Angela, as she looked up at Goliath.
"That's my question too," said Mary.
"Hmm," Chas said, looking up at her. "That's a crucial question that. And the answer King Arthur gave ye is not quite the full one. Fer anyone who drinks Avalon's water from that challice will be able t' channel sorcery without needing a Conduit..."
"And what else?"
"It allows the bearer to harvest the power of the Moon," Chas said. "During different phases of the Moon, if it is held up to the Moon's beams, it grants the bearer great powers. For instance if held up during a full moon, it increases their power tenfold. During a new moon, the holder can renew any lost spells or renew changes of magic upon magic items... that is how many swords and amulets are enchanted..."
"But what about an eclipse?" Mary wondered.
"Hmm... that has never been tried before," Chas muttered. "Why do ye say that..."
"Oh, nothing," Mary said. "Just a question..."
"But must we travel in it in the dark?" she asked Chas.
"I've lived here for years, and it's okay if you know what you're doing," Elisa said. "But stay together... in numbers..."
"No offense," Marianne said. "But why did we come here at night?"
"There's a guid reason. Our allies the Gargoyles can only travel at night, fer as soon as the sun shows its face, they turn to stone..."
"Like trolls," Marianne muttered.
"Aye. But fer trolls its permanent. Gargoyles renew and restore their power in their stone skins during the day. At sunset their skins shatter, and they are anew...."
"Hmm. Like the Mummies, they must regenerate."
"Mummies?" Elisa said, cocking her head to one side.
"Some friends of mine," Marianne said. "As magical and unbelievable to you as Gargoyles were once to me, till this night..."
"Even in this time there are great wonders," Arthur murmured appreciatively.
"We'd better get moving. No telling who might be following us..."
"Where to now, milady?" Arthur asked her.
"I did a quick call to the boys at Headquarters," Elisa said. "And they reported MacBeth had booked a ticket to England. So that's where we're going..."
"To England," Marianne muttered. "It will feel good to go home again... but our tickets..."
"Your friend came through," Elisa said. "Fox wired ahead for four tickets... to England."
"And the King?" Marianne asked. "What will he do for a passport?"
"Xanatos took care of that," Elisa said, with a look of amusement and annoyance on her face.
"Pulled some legal strings, and voila he has one..."
"Don't you trust Xanatos?" Marianne asked her. "I know you weren't on good terms in the past..."
"Xanatos has his own agenda," Elisa said. "As long as it suits him he welcomes us there. But we still have to be careful not to get on his bad side. He thinks the Grimorum is his, and since it's missing... well..."
"Great," muttered Mary. Fox was an old school chum of hers, but there was a side to this woman which could be shady. She had her own reasons for doing things. Yet Mary had once done her a great favor, and somehow this made Mary immune to the troubles that befell others who had crossed Fox. It made her shiver to be such a favorite sometimes.
"So as long as we're helping him find his missing artifacts we can expect his help, is that the story, is it?" Chas asked directly.
"You got it all right," Elisa said. "But if we step outta line..."
"Then Lord Xanatos may exact vengeance," Arthur muttered. "A devils bargain, milady?"
"Xanatos is no saint," Elisa said. "Even now he's >reformed'... I still don't buy it. But... with three gargoyles babysitting him, we'll know if he sneezes..."
"I hope so," Mary muttered.
A day or so later found the group traveling by bus to Glastonbury Abbey. The local inn had heard of Chas Cassidy and his photographs, and welcomed his strange group. There were no questions offered with regard to the large truck with its huge crates of statues. Indeed they could leave it parked there with no difficulties. Save when night fell.
"Glastonbury Abbey has changed since I last came here," Marianne muttered to Chas as she glanced out the window. "What's with all the tourists?"
"It's only one of the most well known concert places now, in addition to being the legendary burial site of King Arthur..." Chas said, but kept his voice low. It was odd for Arthur Pendragon to pull up there to the modern visitor's center, and see the crowds of tourists flocking the small exhibits. The paper card displays gave details as to the monastery's history. Chas had his camera bag, and snapped pictures of the red stone ruins that rose all around them. Mary stood at his side, drinking in the peace and quiet of the place.
Green grass crunched softly underfoot. Her blue eyes traveled up the lines of the cathedral walls, to the vault of the skies overhead. Those incomplete lancet arches sang into emptiness. Here and there the pieces remaining seemed like odd bits of jigsaw some giant left behind long ago.
Arthur spotted the stone in the middle of the ancient ruined chapel. "To think this was once a holy place," he muttered. "And to see it torn down by a king!"
Guiltily Mary glanced at him. "You have King Henry the VIII to thank for that. As well as splitting from the Church all for the sake of producing a male heir. Sometimes men can be so foolish..."
"But it was his duty to have an heir," Arthur said simply, as if this was the only way things were to be done. Chas was busy on one knee as he snapped another photo.
Then Arthur noticed a certain placard, ringed by a square of stones. A small sign was posted, and people were taking photos of it. Interested, he stopped by it. Then shied. "Lord preserve me," he gasped.
"What..." Mary asked, coming to his side. Then she understood.
"I... what..." Arthur coughed.
"This is where they think you were laid to rest," Mary said quietly. Chas joined them, and stood to one side. Hands thrust into her pockets, Elisa Maza wandered over to her friends. She wondered why Arthur looked so pale.
"You are a legend in this time," Chas said quietly to Arthur. "No one knew what happened to you. And this whole place is a memory to you."
"A tribute," Arthur muttered. "Yet still, to have people speak of me as being dead..."
"You are not dead to us, as long as your legend is alive," Mary said. "For you are an inspiration to each generation. Your Camelot, and your noble knights are known to every school child since... time immemorial..."
"Thank you," Arthur said, taking her hand softly as he kissed his thanks upon it.
"Even we have heard of King Arthur," said Eliza. "And hey, if Disney can make a movie out of your life, you know you're immortal!"
Arthur missed the joke, but Chas and Mary groaned. Somehow this remark eased tension among the four friends.
"My friends, I wished to tell you that I had the most extraordinary sensation when the large glass wagon..."
"The bus," Elisa supplied.
"The coach," Mary supplied simultaneously. Both women looked at each other, the variations in their languages and cultures apparent.
"Our transport," Arthur finally continued on. "Moved past a strange mound, with a tower atop it. Its sides were most steep... and I fast knew it called to me..."
"Called to you?" Elisa asked, shrugging.
"Yes. As if I was being summoned there..."
"Then ye must go," Chas said simply.
"But you said you sensed magic here..." said Mary.
"Simple. You and I will stay Mary, and Elisa and ye sire will go to the Tor. We will meet back here tonight... fer there is a concert by Nigel Kennedy..."
"Ooh, you're joking!" Mary cried. For Nigel Kennedy was a virtual celebrity in Europe. This violin virtuoso made playing the violin seem a game.
"See you later!" Elsa said, taking Arthur's hand as she lead him away to find a bus to the Tor. Mary looked at Chas and smiled.
Slowly Chas picked up the blanket from the dewy lawn under a sky of stars. Still the violinist Nigel Kennedy insisted upon playing his second encore of Third Stone from the Sun. He glanced around, trying to see some trace of where Mary had wandered off to. She had volunteered to get them all beverages, but had not returned.
Slowly the mists arose from the darkened midnight grass. Why Marianne had chosen this time of all times to wander off Elisa could not say. "Isn't it a bit late to be traipsing out there?" Elisa whispered to her friend.
Elisa had returned to the concert, to wait with Chas and Mary till she saw some sign of Goliath or Angela from the Tor. Arthur Pendragon had taken off on a mission of his own, with Bronx and Angela, two of those who had decided to accompany them. He had decided to survey Glastonbury himself, feeling a strange psychic call to the Tor. And such a summons could not be ignored. Elisa had offered to go with him, but he refused, saying he would be find as Bronx and Angela would be nearby to guard him, once the sun went down.
"I'll go after her," the Irish photographer offered.
"Good. I'd hate for her to be caught for trespassing," Elisa Maza sighed. "I'll catch up with you both at the hotel."
"Where are ye off to?" Chas asked, gripping her arm.
"To see if Arthur's okay," she said. "I told him it wasn't a good idea to rush off in the evening..."
"But our friends are wi' him..."
"Still, I don't feel good about him staying there after dark. Even if our friends are with him. Tell Marianne we're all gonna meet back at the hotel by morning, if things go okay!"
Chas nodded, and shook his head as he waded through the groups of people. Elisa moved off under the cover of darkness towards the park entrance. Hopefully the police detective Maza would connect with Arthur. And Goliath... he would not be far away from her, Chas remembered.
Something whispered in his mind. The further he moved out from the crowd in the direction of the portable toilets their emotive chatter moved into the background. Chas attenuated his mind to it, not able to resist the whispers. It sounded much like a mystical source. Although no where near as powerful as his sister Michelle was at sensing magic, he was nonetheless far more tuned to it then the average person. This whisper was above and beyond the normal power force in a place as saturated with mystical energies as Glastonbury. Generations of religions had claimed this as sacred ground. Long before the Abby, it had been a Druid's meeting place.
"Mary!" he called, shouting in his baritone voice over the whisper. "Are ye there?"
No answer, save some hushes for silence and mutter from some people wending their way back from the portable toilets. Shaking his head he moved to see if she had come out or was still in line. Nothing. Drawing in his breath, Chas cleared out the excess thoughts. The noise around him dimmed into nothingness as he focussed. Mary and he shared a special bond, forged in the heat of danger, and his concern for her. A sort of connection that enabled him to sense where she was.
Indeed he soon sensed her mind, not far away. But not in the direction of the concert, or the portolets. The trace did not extend there. And he could not easily pick her out among the crowd. But it was there, distinct like a candle in the darkness. Easy to see, but moving off from the cluster of minds that blared in mass.
He moved quickly, cinching the blanket over his shoulder. Long slender legs carried Chas through the dark, past the artificially lit ruins in rainbow glory. Towards the chapel. What on Earth would possess Mary to go wandering off here.
Till he saw her small form moving, as if tranced towards the chapel. Silently he moved to her side, and casually moved to walk beside her.
"Do ye want someone t' hold yair hand?" asked Chas, to her left, with a hint of humor.
"Oh Crumbs!" she shrieked, nearly leaping a foot as she shied.
"Musha, steady on," he urged, gripping her shoulders. "It's only me..."
"Very funny," Marianne sighed. "What in bloody blazes are you doing scaring people like that... don't you know you almost scared me to death?"
"Ye almost scared me, wandering off like that," he scolded. "I thought ye said ye were getting drinks..."
"I... did... but then I got distracted..." she said. Greatly diminished, the strains of Nigel Kennedy's second encore vanished into a whisper. Still she walked towards the chapel, rising black against the stars, backlit with an odd red light. It was the concert park, but somehow Chas thought it desecration to add such modern touches to certain old ruins that deserved better.
"Ye sense something, do ye not?" Chas asked, walking at her side. Firmly he slipped his hand into hers, well knowing that she was partly under the power of some outside force. For she wouldn't have the presence of mind to wander off of her own volition. "As if ye heard a summons?"
"How did you know?" she asked.
"Lass, I ken these things... and it must be very powerful magic to have ye come so astray... what... does the voice tell you..."
"I must... go to the chapel. I'm scared... but I just cannot stop moving..."
"I'm right here, Mary," he whispered, squeezing her hand.
"I... have to go in..." she said, pulling the photographer along. Chas did not try to stop her.
"He's... calling me..."
"Ye'll na face it alone," Chas promised, as he moved to keep up with her. Mary led him into the ruins of the old chapel, rising fifty feet above them. Chas feared some ancient power, as she moved down the steps towards the old altar. It must be a source of goodness, for he sensed no maliciousness in the source. He could hear the whispering himself now, through the mental bond they shared. One did not muck about with such power, or refuse a summons. Only by facing her caller could he then decide what, if anything he should do to help her.
Slowly Mary stopped, five feet before the old stone altar. Gently freeing her hand from Chas, she genuflected before it. Chas moved off to the one side, on his knees as well. In a ritual manner she touched her head, heart, left shoulder, right shoulder, then her heart again as she folded her hands. "I... am here," she whispered. "But... who are you... and why do you call? For you cannot be He..."
There was a silence, and the whisper came aloud. "I called, and you came. I am in the service of the Mediator, and Advocate. You know me of old Marianne Lindsay Ellis. Ever since your brow was christened I have watched you... and set you apart for a special destiny..."
"But... who are you?" Mary asked. "Pardon me, but I don't recall..."
"If ye deceive her, be ware," Chas spoke in a low voice. "The women is under my protection. If ye mean her harm... ye will answer to me..."
"You are also known to me, my son, you who are from the shores of the sister isle, of Eire," said the voice, resonant as it came into fuller presence. AT an odd angle out of true, as if the rest of the world were out of plumb and it was not.
"Be you saint or angel?" Mary asked. "Or demon or extraterrestrial?"
"Saint was named I long past. And who I am is known to all of you who worship in the houses of God in this isle, this realm of England. I am its protector, its patron. Slayer of the dragon, and noble knight who was chosen to guide and inspire..."
"Good grief! You cannot be St. George himself!" Marianne gasped, almost fainting in shock. Chas slowly nodded his head, as if he knew.
"Do not be afraid, lady Marianne," said Arthur Pendragon, coming out of the shadows. Marianne gasped. Chas stood up, to see the ancient King bathed in radiance.
"Perhaps, noble sire, if you were to show yourself she would not fear you sir," Arthur said, kneeling to the altar. A strange light merged, like soft watercolors into an image. Glittering plait mail fused into a figure, standing before the altar. Slowly it stepped down, holding its great sword and three pointed shield before it like a standard. Mary felt a gauntleted hand upon her brow as a blessing was whispered upon her.
"It is he," said Arthur. "St. George himself. It was revealed to me today, at the Tor's summit. But how he chooses to manifest himself I do not know. For only now have I become acquainted with him. He has need of you, my lady..."
"What... will you ask of me?" Mary lifted her head. To stare at a noble face beneath a knight's helmet.
"Arthur Pendragon requires your help in his quest. And it is a quest that will need your wisdom and experience..."
"Sire, may I have a word?" asked Chas, from the rear as he came forth. "Excuse me and all, your sainthood, but I must ask if this would put her in danger..."
Amusement spread over the Saint's lips. "Indeed there is danger in any quest..."
"Lord Charles of Cassidy wishes to know if this quest would endanger the Lady Marianne's virtue, or integrity as a woman... for he is her protector..." Arthur said. "Forgive his impatience..."
"Ye can understand my hesitation..." Chas whispered. "After all..."
"I know she means much to you, ancient one... but be assured she has been chosen. As have you... for I know of your powers. Your abilities, to forge weapons of great power which hold magic... and they will be needed here..."
"Long ago you made a suit of armor. It must be brought to me, and enchanted for the work Marianne will do..."
"You mean the lady to fight?" Arthur asked.
"He does," Chas murmured. "And she does know how to use a sword, but she hasnae the experience..."
"Then she will learn..."
"And what blade will she use?" asked Arthur, wondering what would possess someone, even a saint to allow a woman to fight!
"There is much to be done. And so little time..." the Saint said. "Let it be so! Let the lady Mary serve her quest nobly, with my blessing. And may she in the fullness of time learn her power..."
He faded from view, leaving a very disturbed Chas holding her hand. Slowly the two men helped her to rise. "He chose me. I cannot believe why," Marianne muttered, rubbing her head.
"I wonder too," Chas muttered.
"If he is a saint, he must be obeyed," Arthur said simply. "That is what is to be done..."
"But is it truly St. George," Mary said.
"You do not doubt..."
"I am a scientist. I believe, and worship in the Church. But many things have changed. And I am skeptical..."
"It is him all right," Chas said. "There is no deception. And from the sounds of it he had his eye on ye since ye came to this world. So I'd be supposing we must help ye do whatever it is t' have you do..."
"Let us join the others," Arthur Pendragon said. "For there is much to be done..."
"I'll tell ye where t' find the armor," Chas muttered. "And ye t' the hotel fr' some sleep Mary..."
"I'm not tired..." she protested.
Just then two winged figures swooped down, landing not far away from them. Gently Goliath lowered Elisa to the ground, and she moved to meet the party. Angela and Bronx landed also, moving towards them all.
"We though we'd find you back here..." she said. "That's what Goliath said..."
"What has happened?" Goliath asked, a bit puzzled. Quickly the story was told, and everyone looked at Mary.
"You'd think I was a celebrity or something..." said she.
"Where is the armor hidden?" asked Goliath. "If so we must find it at once..."
"If ye had but looked," Chas said to Arthur. "The armor is in the place ye jest left..."
"Glastonbury tor?" Arthur asked.
"Aye, within the crest of the summit. But it is not a place an ordinary person can open. Only one of virtue can..."
"Let us be off there at once..." Goliath said.
"It's a distance away..."
"Not to us," Goliath said. "We can carry you easily..."
"Take Elisa and Mary. Twill open fer whom it was meant." said Chas. "There's someplace I have t' go first..."
Angela carried Mary in her claws. To her relief the female Gargoyle was more her size, and seemed far less threatening. She was becoming used to the beings, even so, their size was most disconcerting. Even so, if she could get used to Mummies, these Gargoyles would soon win her trust.
As they passed over a series of farms, they failed to notice two figures concealed far below. Red eyes glistened as a low growl escaped somebody's throat. "We must not let them find the armor,"one said to the other.
"How do you know where it is hidden?" asked her companion.
"Don't question the obvious!" snapped Demona, stepping out from behind the tree. Who indeed. For they saw the approach of two men towards the small farm, in the darkness. Still it was five hours before dawn would break, and time was running out. Why were the two men breaking off from the main party?
"I jest dinnae understand why it's Mary he chose," Chas grumbled.
"You doubt the choice of a saint?" Arthur asked him.
"Hm supposing I did!"Chas suddenly exploded. "It's no right! Ye yourself said ye had reservations about a woman in battle..."
"Indeed I do. It must be a very special reason why she is chosen..."
"It's not right! She's not ready!" Chas said, banging his fist into his hand. The two men walked along the side of a road, nearby a secret location Chas sought to find. With them bounded Bronx, for added protection. He sniffled the bushes in the full moonlight, as any normal hound would.
An ancient stone shrine stood to the side of the road in Glastonbury. Arthur still marveled at the strange patterns the irregular fields made. Veiled partly by the mist they peeked as green stones in a vast mosaic spreading for miles. In his day it had not been quite so... there were many more trees and forest to cover the now grassy hills.
They came to the shrine, and Chas knocked on the door. There was no answer. He moved around to the back. Both men's ears caught a sound. Arthur Pendragon reached for his sword, but remembered he didn't' have Excalibur!
"Ssh! Let me handle this," Chas muttered, as he moved Arthur to the back of the little chapel. Stealthily Chas moved, reaching at his hip lest he need to summon his sword.
"Fine way t' handle an auld friend's visit," came a voice in his mind.
"Ye do ha a way wi' showing up unannounced..." Chas grumbled. Arthur was puzzled as Chas seemed to be having a one way conversation with the air. But he figured it was Magic, and best not to interfere.
"I ken what yr thinking, Charles Quinn Cassidy," said the man's voice in an accent ancient and thick. In ancient Eire Gael. "An it's a strange thing too. But ye must stay at her side... no matter how ye yourself feel..."
"But sir, she's not ready! Why should she have t' fight! Not me, or anyone else?"
"She's not alone, ye idjit and ye know it! Why else would ye ha' been able t' see George as well?" said the voice. "Yer just as much a part o' it.."
"So what is George up to, anyway?" Chas asked frankly.
"His motives are honest, if that be yer question," said the voice. "But I know ye dinna like him, fer his attitude towards Dragons. Dinnae blame ye, but fer nau put it aside. Marianne needs ye! Fer what he asks of her will be the hardest trial for her yet. The whole thing is this... they of Avalon cried upon us t' help. The spirits of the Isles, to stop a wrong! And the Three were asked to pick champions..."
"The Three, being the spirts o' the isles?"
"Aye yet got it. And I had picked ye naturally, because of yer experience. For ye represent Eire in itself, and Cymru ancient land. Arthur was chosen for Britannia. Andrew suggested that the Scots needed a champion as well. George had the bright idea o' choosing Mary, fr she has the blood of the Scots in her quite strong. And she wuild be a link to the future. Michael had suggested the lass Elisa, fer she is of the blood of those of America. I warned him to grant such power t' inexperienced ones was not wise. He seemed t' think Mary cuild wield his Armor of Protection and Virtue. Andrew agreed, provided yair armor was the one she'd wear, and the sword she carried would be of yair mother's hand. For perhaps these two things would be in your hand shuild she need yair help to guid her..."
"But what is all this about?"
"Simple and complicated, m'boy. But ye are the experience here. Past present and future. Keep them together, Olorin!" the voice implored, calling Chas by his Eldrich name. "Make sure they stay true to their selves and not be overwhelmed by temptation! Fr Morgan may well use their powers against them, tempting them to great mischief with their new powers..."
"Aye," Chas muttered. "But what if..."
"Ye love her, ye daft idjit, right? Then hold onto that love... no matter what!"
Chas shook his head, sobered. The good guardian of Eire was right, and very much aware of this plan of George's.
"Blessed Patrick I will na' fail ye. Ye have m' promise upon that... but it's not goin' t' be easy..."
"Lad, I never said it was, did I?" came a sad laugh from Eire's patron saint. Chas sighed as he felt the smell of evergreen and farmland as Patrick lay his breath upon him. And the ancient spirits were let free to channel.
Soberly he reached out with his power. An ancient trace came into his mystical senses, and took hold of his direction. Till at last he came to an old cairn of stones in the middle of the property, hidden partly by trees. Arthur felt the hairs on his neck stand up. Was it just his warrior's instinct that suspected somebody was watching them?
Chas appeared possessed as he approached the cairn. Eyes shut and silvery beneath the moonlight his slender figure moved with the grace of a dragon. Till he reached out to touch the piled stones. Energy blazed as he seemed to reach within a shimmering space to extract something glittering. Arthur nodded in appreciation at the Celtic long sword that blazed in the moonlight. Reverently Chas swept the weapon in a glistening arc, testing its weight and balance.
"What blade pray tell is that?" Arthur Pendragon asked, fully aware that this was a weapon whose power equaled Excalibur itself!
"Tis the sword of my dam, called Wavedancer," Chas whispered as he held the pommel in one hand out from him, and peered down the blade for any imperfections. There were none visible, to his trained blacksmith eye. "Forged on the anvil of my grandfather, himself. A far greater craftsman at magic weapons then I..."
"A mighty blade indeed. For I have heard tales of the ancient blacksmiths. From here that weapon radiates true power. Is this the blade for yon lady?"
"Aye it is, sire," Chas whispered. Bronx sniffed the weapon, and snorted as a lash of power stung his nose. "And it's not a toy, silly Bronx!" Chas sheathed it in an elaborate scabbard which he slipped beneath his jacket. The scabbard vanished at his hip, magically.
"We'd best be going to join the others," Arthur said to him. "I sense evil afoot..."
Goliath watched Mary as she wandered into the chapel, and slid her finger along the floor. "It's here somewhere... under the floor," she muttered. "I can sense a powerful source... of magic..."
"How can you be sure?" Elisa asked her.
"Rath... my boyfriend... no wait... he isn't anymore... I mean my old teacher taught me how to sense magic, as part of the training he gave me in Heka. And I can still sense magic in any form. Even if it's not Egyptian in nature. And since this armor is meant for me..."
Both women crouched on the floor. Mary lay her hand upon one stone. "How are we gonna get this up, and isn't it vandalism?" Elisa asked, opposite her.
Mary touched her sleeve, and seemed to twist something beneath it. She lay her hand upon the floor stone. It glowed with energy as she thought carefully. The stone seemed to vanish from view as she reached down. Down to earth far below. Carefully she scooped dirt out of the way, till she touched something metallic.
A low grow sounded outside. Elisa Maza tensed up. Still Mary scrabbled in the dirt. "Something's going on!" she gasped.
From outside Goliath roared as he grappled with MacBeth. The human now faced a male gargoyle, but strangely seemed to be holding his own. Grabbing Goliath's wrist he ducked and tossed the gargoyle over his shoulder. Goliath rolled over, snarling as he crawled to his feet. MacBeth kicked him in the back, bringing his pistol to bear.
Angela roared as she pounced from the tower above. Her hands ripped the pistol from MacBeth's grasp. Snarling they twisted over in a heap.
Goliath recovered, to see his daughter thrown aside. Roaring he lunged at the weaponless MacBeth. As the two grappled again, Angela shook her head, and held the laser weapon up.
"Don't even think about it, child!" Came a low voice. Two red eyes trained on the gargoyle girl as she looked up into Demona's eyes. "Give me the gun, and no harm will befall you..."
"Why... do you attack us?" Angela demanded.
"Foolish girl, you ask me such a question?"
From inside Elisa heard the exchange. "Demona!" she gasped. Mary's hands connected with something metallic, and she pulled it from the dirt.
"Go help them!" Mary said. "I've almost got it!"
Elisa pulled her pistol, and edged to the frame of the door. Gun upraised, she peered out at the action outside. It was a standoff. Quickly she aimed at MacBeth, saying hold it right there!"
"Well, if it isn't Goliath's little friend!" Demona said mockingly. "I should have expected where he goes you wouldn't be far behind!"
"What do you want Demona?" Goliath asked, covered by Demona's pistol. He had let go of MacBeth, and lay on the ground not daring to move.
"Simple. The armor of Virtue. I will have it..." she said. "Now..."
"How can you be so sure it's here?" Elisa asked.
"Simple. You are all here, are you not?"
"But the maker of it isn't!" said Goliath. "And he may come any minute. Besides, the armor is useless to a Gargoyle..."
"Especially one as evil as you..." Angela hissed.
"I will punish you later, child," Demona said. "You ought to have more respect for one who is your dam. But I will forgive your ignorance... for they have polluted your mind well with their love of humanity. If you would consider coming with me, I might spare the lives of these pathetic creatures you hold so dear..."
"Me, come with you?" Angela asked, dumbfounded.
"I don't think that's your decision to make," Goliath growled.
"You are in no position to bargain," said MacBeth. "Now, the armor, or you die! And Detective Maza lowers her gun!"
"You have thirty seconds to decide!" Demona said coldly.
Elisa grimaced. It was a Mexican Standoff. Her gun on MacBeth and Demona's upon Goliath. Granted Goliath might survive, but she could not hope to shoot Demona in time before Demona pounced on her, even if Angela struck. Seconds ticked by as Elisa inched her gun ever so slowly away from MacBeth. Had to make the shot count.
"Five seconds, human!"
"I'm sorry Goliath!" Elisa cried, and fired. The shot sounded off as it whizzed past MacBeth. Snarling she fired, but Angela grabbed her hand, wrenching the gun upwards, just as Elisa had predicted. Goliath had moved out of the way with his super fast reflexes before Demona could fire again.
But MacBeth lunged for Elisa, who kept her pistol trained on him. Another shot whizzed past him as he rolled over out of the way. Snarling, Demona threw the pistol aside to deal with Angela. Goliath moved like lightening. Only to face another sharp kick in the back from MacBeth. Elisa rushed in, aiming at MacBeth's leg this time. She fired, but missed as MacBeth whirled around with a drawn weapon. A sword which flashed with crackling energy!
He raced towards Elisa, weapon gleaming. Goliath leapt, in his way. Only to feel the slash of a mystical blade against his flesh. It had hurt! "You don't stand a chance against Excalibur!" MacBeth laughed.
Goliath gripped his arm, it was numb! Again MacBeth slashed, and Goliath swung at him. A blast of mystical energy knocked him to his feet. Elisa threw herself into him, pushing him off balance. As he recovered, he swung the weapon down.
But a silver figure threw itself into Elisa, throwing her aside. The sword clanged against armor, doing no damage. Stunned, she looked up at the figure, clad in silvered plate mail draped over her. MacBeth pulled out another strange device, and a crackling net whizzed over Goliath, snaring him. He swung down again, but his sword clanged against a three pointed shield blocking his weapon.
The silver figure climbed to her feet, and faced off against MacBeth. They circled, as MacBeth raised his net gun in one hand, the sword Excalibur in his other. Mystical energy sizzled against Marianne as she blocked it against her shield. He fired from the net gun, enveloping the slight figure.
Elisa recovered her weapon, firing at Demona as she grappled with Angela. This gave the female gargoyle time to toss Demona's weapon away. Goliath strained against his net, as Elisa rushed to help him. MacBeth intercepted her quickly, swinging the sword before him. She went low, kicking the net gun out of his hand. Goliath roared as he saw the sword descend. Elisa rolled out of the way.
But the new figure touched the net, quickly transmuting it to air as it vanished. Surprised they watched as she advanced upon Goliath's net, and touched it as well. The net vanished from view as it became mere air! Goliath was free!
Demona wrestled Angela to the ground, her claws around her daughter's throat. MacBeth had disarmed Elisa, but Goliath and the armored figure nodded at each other as they rushed into action. Shield held before her, the armored figure punched at Demona. Snarling she turned to face her. "Who dares!"
"I dare!" cried the familiar voice of a woman. Marianne! She was in the armor! As Demona's claws slashed, Mary held up the three cornered shield to block. Demona's claws couldn't even scratch the shield! Her tail lashed out, wrapping around Marianne's legs and tripping her. But Marianne recovered easily, pulling Demona's tail as she scrambled to her feet.
Demona forgot about Angela, throwing herself upon Marianne. Desperately Marianne held her shield up over her face to block the gargoyle's claws. Demona snarled and pounded, to no avail. Marianne planted her armored foot and shoved Demona off of her. The female gargoyle flew off with surprising force.
Goliath plucked MacBeth off of Elisa, and roared loudly. He gripped MacBeth's wrist, and plucked Excalibur from the man's hand. Elisa snatched up the discarded net gun and fired towards Demona. The glittering energy net snared her as she howled.
Unfortunately, MacBeth had one more trick up his sleeve. He reached under his coat for some strange object. Throwing it down there was a blinding radiance and thick smoke. By the time it cleared, he and Demona had vanished.
Marianne held a hand out to Angela. "Here, let me help you..."
Bewildered, Angela let the gauntleted hand close upon hers. And Marianne pulled her up with surprising strength. Slowly Goliath helped Elisa to stand, and they regarded Marianne with wonder. "Wow, that was some fight," Elisa said. "Good moves, Mary!"
She lifted the visor on the helmet, and panted. "I was so scared! I couldn't let him shoot you!"
"You handled yourself very well," said Goliath, carefully wiping the blade Excalibur off upon the grass. "Not since Elisa herself have I seen such courage."
"You saved my life, and I thank you," Angela said softly to Marianne. "But how is it you are as strong as Demona, or I?"
"The armor," said Goliath. "It must give the wearer great strength and agility. How do you feel, Mary?"
"Strangely energized, as if I could do anything!" Mary panted, catching her breath. "But how do I remove the armor?"
"How did you put it on so fast?" Elisa asked.
"I pulled out a gauntlet from beneath the ground. And slipped it on my hand. I felt... as if it were the right thing to do. It fitted my hand exactly. Then when I saw you were in danger, I simply wished to help... I said something like, By St. George I implore your aid. But that's it..."
Slowly she concentrated, and the armor and shield vanished. Leaving her there in ordinary street clothes. Already pink and sherbet green bands caressed the nighttime skies. "WE had best take our leave," Goliath said. "Take this to King Arthur..."
He handed the sword to Elisa. Quickly she pressed her lips to his cheek as she stretched up to reach him. Angela gripped Marianne's hand in a final squeeze of gratitude. Then Goliath and Angela quickly fluttered to the top of the tower. Slowly a spark rose from between distant hills in full radiance. Long sunbeams burst full upon the tower and the two women, who had to shield their eyes with their hands.
"Incredible," Mary gasped. Goliath and Angela did not move, and in fact looked as if they had been part of the stonework for centuries.
"Time to get some rest," Elisa said to Mary, as they started the lonely trek down the winding path of the Tor. Elisa wrapped the sword in her jacket to hide it from any nosy onlookers. To carry a sword did look rather suspicious, even if it was dawn.
"Will they be all right?"
"My guess is that Demona hasn't gotten very far. And MacBeth won't move without her... but we don't know when they'll next strike..."
Fortunately they weren't too far away from the hotel. They guessed perhaps since Goliath and Angela had not returned all was well with their friends. Arthur puzzled why Chas looked so serious as he carried some oddly wrapped packages with him. As if he carried some dark secret he dare not reveal. Or if the swords he carried were an incredible weight.
Back at the inn they found their room. Elisa and Mary had the "do not disturb" sign on theirs, and the two gentlemen left them that way. King Arthur found a wrapped package on his bed, and knew it was his beloved Excalibur! Lovingly he sheathed his blade before retiring.
Chas came in last, stopping to check in on Mary and Elisa. Both slumbered peacefully in the twin beds down the hall. Gently Chas deposited a kiss on the face of the sleeping Marianne as he left a parcel in her room.
Her grey features smoothed into young ones as she chanted a spell. So vain it may seem to some to cloak her appearance in youth. But it was a simple spell. The scrying dish simply showed the true aspects of what were. The crone caught her appearance in a mirror along one stone wall, and saw the long dark hair streaked with white grow its luster. Bright eyes glistened from beneath swan curved brows. And pale skin that flushed with youth.
"No one can prepare you for what you will face, dears," said the woman to her twin in the mirror. "A shame, such brave women. That they should serve men so selflessly. But perhaps... they might be convinced to change their minds?"
She lifted a silver knife in her hand, and placed it over the bowl. Carefully she sprinkled some herbs into the dish, and the image altered. "Ah, who else stands against me..." She muttered.
She spoke to the reflection of Arthur, lovingly caressing Excalibur. She saw the scabbard he slipped the weapon into, elaborate in its Celtic runes and spirals. But his companion. What was he? She probed deeper.
There was a powerful cloudiness that spread across the bowl, precipitating into green powder. She bit her lip, and sighed. "I should know better. One of you knows the ancient magic. But even that person won't be able to stop me from getting what is rightfully mine. But you Arthur, will not stop me now. You are out of your league, dear brother..."
"Ye shuild ken better, Morgan!" he muttered. "A child wold be so foolish to probe with that clumsiness! Are ye teasing me, lass?"
The sun was low in the sky, and Chas had slept most of the morning and into the afternoon. He rubbed sand out of his eyes, and looked to his companion. But Arthur was not in his bed.
Grumbling, Chas climbed out of bed and headed off for a nice hot shower. It was half an hour later when he joined Arthur Pendragon and the two women for a late lunch. They told of their harrowing adventure of the night before, keeping their voices low. When Mary showed him the gauntlet he said, "Aye, that's it all right."
"I had a dream," Arthur said to them all. "Last night. It was revealed to me..."
"What?" Elisa asked. "How can we be sure!"
"Demona and MacBeth have flown, and are even now trying to find their way into Avalon," Arthur said. "We must intercept them. For even though I have Excalibur, they may well try to stop us before we retrieve the Cup..."
"Why did they not have it on their person?" Mary asked, before almost hitting herself for such a stupid question.
"I'd say they've hidden it somewhere and were going to go back for it," Elisa said. "We need to stay here and find out where they are..."
"They have already gone, my dream revealed that to me. The only chance we have to get the Cup is to intercept them before they reach Avalon, or somewhere within..."
"Then we'd best get a move on, hadn't we?" Mary asked.
"Mm yes..." Chas muttered. "Someone should tell our friends what we are planning."
"I may be extremely dense, but how does one get to Avalon?" Mary asked.
"By boat was the way we did before," Elisa said. "That means we'd better head off to the coast..."
"Or a lake," Chas muttered. "That is another way in..."
"Are you sure?" asked Elisa.
"I am very sure. I lived in Avalon myself for a time," Chas said, sipping his coffee. "There are many entrances to Avalon, but few people know of them. And even fewer know of them all."
"And you just happen to be one?" said Elisa, with a slight smile.
"If the lad is from there, it must be so. Then we must move with all due haste," Arthur said. "We should prepare for our journey... how far is the lake of which you speak, Lord Charles..."
"Not far by bus... or cab," he said.
"Then let us repair to our rooms and make ready..." he said. "I take my leave of you, ladies?"
Mary had not seen him like this before. All quiet and suspicious. "What is wrong, luv?" she asked him, as she glanced at the sword across his lap. "Do you not like St. George?"
"It's nae that..." Chas said, glancing up at her. She sat upon the couch next to him.
"Just because he slew one dragon doesn't mean you should think he'd kill all dragons... the one he slew was evil..."
"Mary that's not what I mean!" Chas grumbled.
"Are you sure? I know you have many friends who are dragons! You sing to them and know their language... if this is why I'll understand..."
"No. He killed one. That's only a small part of it. I am worried for ye... for if anything were t' happen..."
"Chas, that's sweet of you," she said, gripping his hand. "But we've all faced danger before. When I was with Rath..."
"Aye. But this is far more dangerous then anything ye have faced. Morgan is a first class magic user, far more powerful than Scarab. There is always a twist to her plans. Whether good or evil, she has her own purpose. It was always for the good of Britain, she said..."
"But she's an evil sorceress!" Mary said.
"Not at first," Chas muttered. "In the ancient religions she was a force of goodness. For she forged Excalibur's scabbard, which heals any wound."
"But she tried to kill Arthur, and lay with him..."
"Twas Morgause that lay with Arthur and conceived Mordred," said Chas. "Not Morgan. Twas the years of desperation that made her turn to what she did. Years have poisoned her mind against Arthur. This is their dispute, they must solve. If there is to be bloodshed, there may be no chance of helping her see that she and her brother only wanted the same thing... to help Britain.."
"Chas, what are you talking about?" Mary asked.
"There may be a chance to reason with Morgan. But with Demona joining her, there may be little of it... had we faced her alone. No, something else is at work here... and I dinnae like ye being in the thick of it..."
"But I can fight... you've taught me... and the sword you were talking about, isn't it powerful?"
"Wavedancer is," Chas muttered, holding the weapon lovingly. "Ma dam's own blade, from ages past. Forged with her father's own hand. I did not make this weapon. Twill serve ye well. And ye canne hurt the innocent. But Mary, a sword is useless in the hands of one inexperienced... and ye are strong... but the idea of ye fighting for a cause that may be... a trick..."
"Chas... I must... St. George himself told me to!"
"I know, lass," he said, gripping her hand. "But I dinnae have t' like it... blast it, I've waited centuries for one like ye t' share ma' life... and t' think ye may be sacrificed for a blood feud that could be stopped with reason...."
"Demona is evil! She would kill Elisa... and Goliath..."
"She was once herself good. No... I fear for ye Marianne. Such power at yair hands..."
"Chas... are you afraid such power might corrupt me... but the armor is goodness... and your mother's sword..."
"They are but tools, like the Grimorum, and the chalice of Morgan. It is the heart that wields it. Yairs is strong, but ye must remember... remember... pray that ye dinnae get used to it..."
"Don't you trust me?"
"Wi' my life," he whispered, kissing her hand in his. "But I have years o' experience in my brain, so many people I've seen have either died with such power in honor, or been corrupted. And I pray if ye'll feel yourself carried away... reach down inside yair heart and see and remember who ye are..."
There was a pleading look in Chas' Aegean blue eyes. As if he'd seen this happen before, and somehow the outcome had been most unpleasant. "I will be fine," she assured him, gently slipping arms around his neck. "And that's all I'll hear of this affair. Besides... you do look cute when you're worried about me like this..."
"Ye give me enough for a century or twa," he said, half serious. Gently he pulled her face towards his. Mary lifted her lips to his, leaning forwards on the couch seat to do so.
A cough made Mary and Chas pull away. To look at a smiling Elisa, standing in the doorway of the cozy room. "Sorry to bust ya," she said. "But I couldn't help but listen..."
"Elisa..." Mary said.
"Is it dangerous for her?" Elisa asked. "To take the armor?"
"I did a long time ago," Chas said. "But it is a long story..."
"I once saw Goliath take the Eye of Odin," Elisa said. "And he got carried away with the power. Is that what you think might happen to Mary..."
"I dinnae know..."
"Why would it be if Arthur said you made it yourself?" Elisa asked him. Still he held Mary in his arms, the sword Wavedancer in his grasp across his knees.
"I made the armor, but I did not enchant it," Chas said. "Twas St. George. And even a noble heart may go astray, like..."
"Like Goliath?" Elisa raised an eyebrow.
"Or Arthur," said Chas. "With Excalibur...."
Slowly Arthur joined them, his armor gleaming beneath his long coat. "It is time to leave, miladies, and noble sir. Goliath awaits us. Has the lady Marianne been prepared?"
"Yes," Chas said, lowering his arms from her. Gently he slipped the gauntlet from the suit of armor on Mary's hand. With a quick gesture the armor vanished from view. Chas weighed the sword in his hand, and sheathed it quickly in its scabbard. Reluctantly he handed it to Mary, who took it reverently in two hands.
Arthur took his own Excalibur, which had been found. And sheathed it at his hip. Chas handed Elisa her gun and a set of cartridges. "Here. Ye may need theses..."
"I thought you said it was primitive..." Mary said.
"These are my mother's idea," Chas said. "Rune slugs. Powerful things, guaranteed t' knock out any supernatural creature this side of the Western gate. Elisa, ye shuild be able t' use them like normal bullets. Nae sense in changing a good weapon for ye..."
Elisa grinned as she took the weapon. Chas also handed a crossbow and bolts to Mary, slinging the weapon over her shoulder as he placed the sword to her other side. It vanished into thin air.
"What... it's... like Rath's sword..." she murmured.
"Wavedancer'll come when ye need it," Chas muttered. Carefully he checked two other blades, a bastard sword and a dirk before sheathing them at his hip. They too vanished into nothingness.
"Shall we be off?" Arthur asked, waving to them. "Goliath is waiting with the boat..."
"Who would have thought they would take the fight there," Chas muttered. But there was no trace of Demona or MacBeth in the outside world. And that told them they didn't' have much time to waste.
Slowly the group moved out to the "transport" Elisa had arranged. It wouldn't be long before they would trade a modern car for a far more unconventional means of transport.
What did Chas mean with his words of warning? Mary shivered as he took his knapsack over his shoulder. Those blue eyes held such a look of sadness as they regarded her. She reached into her mind and whispered a private imploring to St. George.
Please let him see I will rise to the occasion. That I will not loose my heart or my life... Keep my heart and mind in the knowledge of Him, and of His love...and let me not loose the man I love to death...I only just met him and learned... again... to love him...
And Chas as they drove to the secret lake, said his own invocation to Blessed Patrick:
May she move in grace, never forgetting her heart in combat's fire,
Not leaving it behind in cold steel that holds her body from all harm.
When our travails come to Avalon, may she walk her own destiny
And not be plunged into darkness till time find us home again...
Elisa looked up to the night sky, seeing the black silhouette against the moon. Her heart was glad, for she knew her love was there, looking down on her. Like some guardian angel. They would need all their strength for the trial ahead...
Find out what happens in Part 3 of St. George's Gift: Quest for Avalon!