So here we go!
St. George's Gift, Part 1: The King's Quest of Love
by Mennehotep, a.k.a. Theresa Meyers
At her side the High King, the Lion of Britain fought, his mighty sword plunging deep into the necks of his enemies. His last noble nights closed around their liege, trying valiantly to protect him as the minions swarmed over them. Marianne felt her hand, weighted with armor as she swung her long sword in glistening arcs. Blood dripped onto her, and she realized it stained the silvery armor she was sheathed in! Armor? When did she ever have armor? And what was she doing? Who was this king? On a hilltop the sorceress laughed, spinning her spells. Three women screamed as they hurled their power. "Weird sisters, your vengeance is nigh! See my brother is awake..."
The High king held up his sword, and deflected the power easily. Marianne raised her own shield, lifting it up to intercept the powerful blast of eldritch force unleashed. However they were the only two thus protected. Screams of crackling energy crashed into the breastplates of the remaining noble nights. And the cackle of triumph from the Weird sisters.
"Fall now, ignoble Half Brother!" she laughed, from her high hill. "And let the mighty sword be returned to Avalon, whence it belongs! Not even she can save you now..."
"I will not rest till my love is at my side!"he roared, raising his sword. "Attack, Lady Marianne! WE will die nobly this day..."
"But my king! Is there not another way?" Marianne felt herself asking. Just then, the moon was eclipsed by strange winged figures. Not birds or dragons they swooped down, grasping up Marianne and her King in their claws.
"You didn't think we'd miss the party, did you?" asked a deep voice. White eyes blazed from what should have been a stone face. Two mighty wings spanned the starlit sky as a Gargoyle carried the King to safety. Marianne saw she too was gripped by a female version. Other such creatures swept down upon the Sisters, snarling as their claws flashed.
"Noble one you have saved me thus..." he said. "And for that you have my great fulness..."
"Long has our clan served you in your need... and ever so it shall," resonated the voice of the huge male Gargoyle, granite grey of skin and massive of chest.
Then the Weird sisters renewed their attack, screaming as they hurled energy aloft. The shafts of light pierced the wings of the gargoyles, sending them spinning out of control into the ground. Marianne screamed as she felt the imminent impact. They had failed!
She jerked from lying down on something soft. Screaming as she blinked in the morning light. Already the sun had risen, streaming in through the window of her own room.
"Not again," Marianne gasped, rubbing her eyes. "How many times must I have this dream?"
From the shadows a deep voice came, "Elisa! I heard you cry out! Are you harmed?"
Elisa shook her head, and felt the sweat on her brow. "Jalapeno," she grumbled. "Again the same nightmare!"
"Again?" gasped the source of the voice. A large clawed hand slipped around her human one, offering its strength.
"What are you doing here, Goliath?" she asked, glancing up at two blazing white eyes that pierced the darkness.
"For as much as you have cried out, I thought it best to be here, lest it be a plot of our enemies... for remember, they can strike in dreams as well as in reality," Goliath rumbled, his deep voice wrapping Elisa's heart in reassurance. Ever since she'd first heard that resonant voice she felt chills down her body. He wasn't human, but ooh what a wonderful voice that was!
"Thanks," she smiled, with relief as Goliath crouched by her bedside. Still dawn was a few hours away. "Don't you think you'd better get back?" she asked him.
"To know you are safe is enough..." Goliath smiled, and gently deposited a kiss upon her forehead. She did not flinch at his touch, for even the massive strength could be gentle as a lamb. "But you are right, I must go. Will you be... all right?"
"I'll pull through," she grinned. "Nothing a cup of coffee and some donuts won't fix... you go on, and tell the guys I said hi... I'll come by this evening..."
"I have even looked at the Grimorum itself to see if there is any cause for these dreams you say, he said. "But Hudson himself cannot think of any cause..."
"Don't worry. It's probably nothing. Maybe I should stop watching those late night movies with Broadway and Lexington," she laughed. "I'm okay! Now get lost before I get a new statue outside my apartment!"
Smiling he kissed her forehead again, and leapt to her window. There was but one hour before the sun awoke. "I shall let you know if Hudson or I find anything," he promised. "Stay well... Elisa... our friend... and my love..."
"Take it easy," she called. Scarcely believing his words, and knowing how long it had taken to come to this step in their relationship. Nobody said love was easy, she thought as she stepped into the shower for a hot one. Or that the man of your dreams wouldn't be the one you lost your heart to, she reflected as she reached for the hot coffee in her automatic coffee maker. Lexington had invented one for her for a quick birthday present, after Bronx had mistakenly smashed her old one. Those guys were like a bunch of older and younger brothers. Hudson was like a wise grandfather or uncle, and Angela, was like the daughter she wished she had. All a family. And she could claim herself as one of their clan... she realized as she watched the sun rise, and imagined Goliath's smiling face as it fused into stone.
"Hullo sis, nice to see you up and about," Cameron teased, as he went to her side. She looked about the display cases, and flinched.
"Since when did this display change?" she asked him.
"Since Monday! Don't tell me you slept through the meetings announcing it! Cameron chided her with a bit of a surprise. Marianne's eyes fixed upon a case into which several curators were placing silver pieces of Celtic jewelry. Her eye fell upon glittering broaches and torques as they lay on tan velvet.
"Oh Good Grief, that's right," she sighed. "Sometimes I feel as if I'm not in this reality..."
"Earth to Marianne," he joked. Then looked at her, noting the dark circles under her blinking eyes. "Not again. You haven't been sleeping well lately, have you?"
"It's the same blasted dream," she told him as he walked over to the lab with her. They entered, donning safety glasses and labcoats. Several specimens lay in plastic trays, ready for forensic testing.
"Care to talk about this?" he asked, concerned.
"No... it's just silliness, nothing to worry yourself about," she sighed, not wanting to tell him more lest he insist she stay home. "Now what do I have to test this week?"
"Some samples from the Peat men, found in Ireland. I was telling the chaps overseas that you had tested our Mummies, and that perhaps... but if' you're not up to it..."
"Please, it's my job," she sighed. "I'll do the tests. What do they want?"
"Standard Carbon 14, and a DNA test on these hair fragments. Just to confirm that their own tests are right," he said with a shrug. "Besides, they know your recent trip to Ireland..."
"Yes," she sighed, looking at the minute samples of hair and bone chips. Not much to work with, but she could manage. Cameron gave one last concerned look to her, and she shooed him out. "Go one, I'm fine!"
Marianne sighed, as she took a sample. Just who was the owner of this sample of hair? The spec sheet with it said, "Hair sample, Peat man, believed to be 2000 years old. Possibly sacrifice..."
She also glanced at the pictures taken of the body. Rope fragments lay with the other samples. Possibly a sacrifice?
As she shaved off a bit of fabric she felt her head spin. Images from last night swarmed in her brain. Marianne groaned. What was this? Intently she honed her mind, with the discipline Rath had taught her. This love of her life had given her much experience in psychic phenomenon. Was this a spell that suddenly hit her?
As she came out of the funk she saw another picture of the body the clothes and hair had come from. There was that same broach pin, at the shoulder of the corpse. Why did it look so blasted familiar?
Marianne finished her testing, and put the samples in for automatic analysis. It would take an hour or so. Maybe she needed some fresh air, she decided as she climbed to her feet and tottered out of the lab. None of the other scientists were in yet. But the display was well on its way to being finished.
She checked the artifact numbers in her hand. That broach was supposed to be here in the collection. She shivered as a sudden light chiming came into her mind. A prickling feeling resonated on her arm.
Her bracelet. She twisted the strange Egyptian bracelet that had so long ago transformed her life. Once it belonged to Mennehotep, wife of Tuthmosis III, and the fates had brought it into the museum. She had met the guardians of the reincarnated prince Rapses, and been plunged headlong into an adventure she had never foreseen in her wildest dreams. And found true love, or what she thought was. The sorcerer Rath had saved her life, and they had fallen in love when he taught her ancient Magic. This was to ensure that Scarab could not capture her and use her as a hostage to force the Mummies.
Fantastic adventures later, she had eventually had a huge argument with Rath. For she bore his child from a trip to ancient Egypt, only to lose the child to a strange series of events. For the good of the child it had to be sent away to be raised on some other reality. Now, she had distanced herself from eh Mummies, still under oath not to reveal the identity of Presley Carnarvon, who was the reborn Rapses.
Now she regarded the Celtic jewelry with suspicion. Somehow her bracelet gave her the ability to sense magic in any form. And these artifacts were rife with it. Something in the forms of the broaches and Celtic designs sang out to her. Especially a strange chalice, worked with silver and mystical runes. She jokingly thought of the Holy Grail as she regarded the little printed card:
4th century cup, believed to belong to the ancient Druids in Britania. Believed to be used for ritual sacrifice to hold human blood.
Next to that in a display case was an elaborate tome, worked with strange spirals. It was open to one page, its spells scribed in Old English. Marianne realized this was the very language the epic Beowulf was written in. She had read the epic in college, the same time she had read Mort D'Arthur, by Tomas Mallory about the life of King Arthur. She herself could read Hieroglyphics, for Rath had taught her how. Unfortunately she could not read this ancient language of her own heritage!
She absently bumped into a museum visitor who also looked at the display. He raised his camera, to snap a picture.
"Hey, hang about, you need a permit for that!" she was all set to explode. But the man in question turned.
"Come now, Mary, ye know well who I am," he said. Tall and slender he moved with the grace of a dragon. His long raven hair was tied in a ponytail at the nape of his long neck. The black leather jacket he wore was unzipped, to reveal the blue shirt worked with black Celtic spirals. A sturdy leather belt girded his slender waist, also worked with a Celtic design as it held up a pair of form fitting blue jeans. Black leather boots matched his jacket, as he shifted his weight from one foot to another.
"Charles Quin Cassidy, you well know that I cannot bend the rules..."
"Not even fer me?" he grinned, as she tapped her foot. That angular face with the Welsh features was slightly olive skinned, and oh so handsome! "Don't loose yer temper, Mary. I have a permit right enau..."
"You really had me going, you...." she pretended to fume. Those Augean sea blue eyes met her own, and they shared a grin. "What are you doing here?"
"Take yer pick. To see you, to take pictures, to ask ye to lunch..."
"Then it's not just a surprise visit," she sighed, as he took her hand. "Your sister sent you here for the magazine Celt Times..."
"Aye ye guessed it. But somehow I thought I might run into ye on the way..." he needled, kissing her hand. Marianne chuckled at the Irish photographer who had only recently won her grieved heart. He and his sister published a magazine devoted to Celtic History and news. Recently he'd done a feature on the Eye of Odin, in the collection of the famed tycoon Xanatos. However the eye had recently gone missing from Xanatos' collection. And Chas had just taken pictures of the artifact, swearing that it didn't belong in a rich man's treasure chest like some favorite toy.
Marianne herself was good friends with Fox Xanatos, the recent wife of Xanatos himself. She had been to their castle in the clouds, in New York, to see their remarkable collection. They had donated the book next to the Cup in the display. It was an ancient book of great magic she had said.
"Things have been quiet since that last story," he admitted. "I heard about this display in yon museum... about some artifacts from England, near Glastonbury Abbey, from the time of King Arthur... notably this Cup. And this strange book on ancient magics..."
"Don't be cute," she sighed. "IT's during the early Middle ages just after the fall of the Roman empire..."
"I ken my history well enau, lass," he shot back. "After all, I lived through some of it right enau..."
" How easily I forget. But really... we cannot prove conclusively just when or if King Arthur actually existed. Or when..."
"But as usual ye still believe when yon science would say otherwise," Chas teased. They stood by one display case. Just then, Chas stopped cold. And glanced about, like a wary dog who'd picked up a scent.
"What... is wrong?"
"Ssh. I thought I sensed something," Chas muttered, eyes narrowing. Then he shook his head. Other visitors came and went in the Celtic art display. Marianne felt his hand close around hers protectively.
"What?" she demanded.
"A presence I havenae felt fer well over two thousand years," he muttered. Marianne knew better than to question Chas' judgment. For he was tuned into mystical energies himself. For the blood of the Fey flowed in his veins, the Elvish people from long ago.
Chas gripped Mary's hand, backing her slowly away from the main gallery. "What..." she asked.
"Jest walk away slowly, nau," he cautioned her. She glimpsed several visitors, a white haired main in a long trenchcoat, and another fellow to one side, who seemed to be approaching them. Chas moved her away, pushing her toward the lab.
"What is going on here!" she whispered as Chas moved her along.
Suddenly there was a fine mist that seeped into the area. People coughed and gagged as they saw the lights flicker. Already the mist crept over the display cases, covering them in a fine film that seemed to cling.
Then the white haired man burst from the fog, smashing glass on the display cases. People screamed as the alarms clanged. There was a noise like sizzling, and flashes of red light. Light flashed from a strangely shaped gun in one hand. Visitors scattered left and right.
"Hey you!" Marianne shouted, rushing out before Chas could stop her. "What's going on here... that's museum property!"
"Mary, stop!" Chas shouted, rushing after her. But the panicking throng drove at him full force, almost knocking the Irish photographer over as they scrambled to get out.
The white haired man spun about, his eyes fixing on Marianne. "You... it couldn't be... no!"
"What in blazes... put that back now!" Marianne cried.
"I think not, woman!" he said, in a distinctive Scottish accent. Already museum guards rushed about, approaching as panicking people shrieked. In his hand the fellow held several pieces of priceless Celtic jewelry. "This belongs to none but its original owner..."
"What..." Marianne gasped, as she saw the gun lowered to cover her.
"Not even you will stop me from taking what is mine," said the man. "Now be a good girl and stand back..."
A museum security guard lunged, but the man spun about, gun firing full force cutting the man into the chest. Marianne leapt, grabbing his wrist as she touched the gun. TO his amazement the weapon shattered into harmless glass.
"Let go, woman!" he shouted. Chas desperately pushed back throughout the swarm of visitors to help her.
But Marianne dropped, flipping him over her shoulder. He twisted, and hurled her aside.
"That move is simplicity itself woman. You are brave but not fast enough..."
"And you like your kind shall die for interfering," came a low powerful woman's voice. Out of the mists, snarling burst a winged figure, like the one in her dream. Eyes blazing red, it battled the museum guards like so much nuisance. She advanced upon them both, laughing.
"What took you so long, Demona?" the man demanded. His eyes narrowed in annoyance.
"Really Macbeth, you didn't think I would let you have all the fun, did you?" She held one man by the throat, and began to squeeze. "All these human to play with... to brush aside..."
MacBeth held Marianne tightly, pinioning her arms. "I have what we came for, let's go before the police come..."
Someone threw themself against MacBeth. Chas Quin Cassidy rushed in from the side, swinging his camera bag at MacBeth's jaw. He wrenched Marianne free, and jerked her behind him. She was still in shock seeing the strange new enemy who had entered the fray. It was the creature from her dreams.
"Oh no you don't," the monster snarled, her blood red lips parting to bear her fangs. With unimagined speed she leapt before the escaping Chas and Mary. "You won't get away to tell your fellow miserable humans about this..."
MacBeth recovered as he shook his head. He picked up his bag, and reached at his hip to produce a similar blaster.
Demona grabbed Chas in her remarkable grip, and cuffed him aside. She pulled Mary from his arm, gripping her tightly. Mary kicked, and punched, but it was useless, for the female gargoyle had flesh as hard as stone. Already Chas had gestured in a strange motion, and Mary gasped as she saw a bastard sword (a cross between a long sword and a two handed sword), and a long dirk flashing into existence into his hands.
"Let her go, gargoyle!" Chas snarled, swinging his bastard sword in a half arc over his head. "She has no argument with you! And why do you attack us! Humans have been your friends for centuries..."
"No human is my friend, worm!" she snapped, her grip tightening on Marianne. "One false move and I crush her like an egg..."
Menacingly he glared, his weapon arcing in a gleaming curve. The dirk in his left hand faced down, in preparation to stab if the main stroke weapon did not follow through. But he could do nothing, covered by Macbeth's blaster and Mary as a hostage.
"If ye'll excuse us boy, we'll be going now..."
"Macbeth you coward," Chas gritted, sword and dirk still upraised. "Hiding behind a lady Gargoyle and a defenseless woman to do yair dirty work..."
"Cassidy, it is," he grinned. "Been a long time, lad. But ye will not win this time. Fer I have what I came for. Let's make this easy. Dinnae get involved, and the lass doesn't get hurt..."
Demona laughed as she and Macbeth made to leave. The priceless bag of artifacts including a very strange book were in their possession as they backed away towards an exit. Chas gritted his teeth. He still clenched his Celtic bastard sword, upraised to strike lest Demona move to harm Marianne. She desparied that he may not be able to do anything, for all the skill he displayed.
So intently did they fix their gaze on Chas they failed to see the figure approaching out of the shadows. For he moved up behind Macbeth with the stealth of a cat, sticking out a leg to trip the warrior. A gauntleted hand grabbed the bag from a startled Macbeth. As Demona turned her head, Chas moved with a loud scream. His sword flashed out, clanging against Demona's arm. The dirk followed through in a stabbing motion that scratched her wing.
Macbeth turned, to pick himself up, only to find a fist in his face. The new arrival followed with a well aimed kick. Snarling he leapt on his new opponent.
Demona flung Marianne at Chas, who lowered his sword to catch her. He hurled his dirk at the gargoyle as she leapt into the fog.
Macbeth threw off his new opponent, vanishing into the fog after Demona. He wrestled the bag, which ripped as a few things fell out of it.
"Are ye all right, lass?" Chas breathed, holding Marianne. Still he clenched her under her arms and legs. Gently he set her on her feet.
"Yes... but where in blazes did you get that sword... and how do you know that man?"
They froze to see an approaching figure. Still wearing a cloak it approached them. "Milord, milady, are you harmed?"
"No sir," Chas breathed. "WE have you to thank for helping us..."
"Look out!" Marianne cried as she threw herself at the new figure. For Demona had emerged, gun upraised as it pointed directly to the cloaked man. With a final snarl she aimed a shot at Chas, who blocked the shot with his bastard sword. Retrieving his dirk, he rushed after her. Both of them vanished into the fog.
Marianne climbed off the figure, who pulled off the cloak as he regarded her. A handsome bearded man, perhaps in his thirties or early forties said, "Milady, you have saved me."
"Are you all right, sir?" she asked. There was a regalness to him as she gripped his hand and tried to pull him to his feet. The long cloak hung about his shoulders, and she thought she could glimpse what appeared to be plate mail beneath. What fancy dress ball did he come from? Her eyes widened at the red lion rampant on a sort of cloth tunic draped over his chest. It was belted off at the waist with what appeared to be a sword belt. But the scabbard was empty of any sword.
"Milady, you have saved my life, as I have rescued you. Truly thou art most brave for one of the fairer sex..."
"Fairer sex... what on Earth sir... what is going on here..."
"What is your name milady, that I may honor your valor?"
"I'm Marianne Ellis," she said, a bit ill at ease. Something seemed very familiar about this man. As he pushed back his hood his long hair cascaded about the golden circlet that wreathed his brow.
"You have the gratitude of Arthur Pendragon milady," he said, bowing as he kissed her hand. There was something quite flattering about this gesture, seeing as only Chas was the only other that greeted her in this manner.
"Arthur... Pendragon?" she muttered, and flinched. "No... it couldn't be... could it?"
Just then Chas dashed out of the mist, sword and dirk flashing in his grip. "Curse that gargoyle woman!" he muttered. Then he glimpsed Marianne who rather nervously clenched the hand of the man calling himself Arthur Pendragon!
"Uh, could you please... explain... what in the name of sanity this is about... you are... Arthur... you say... as in his royal highness King Arthur?" she gasped, going a bit pale.
Chas stopped, his eyes fixing this new arrival. Recognition flooded his face. Slowly he knelt on one knee in a gesture of respect, his sword put to one side, the dirk to the other. "Sire," he said.
"Thou art a most noble knight indeed to fight our enemies so bravely," Arthur said, rising to greet Chas. "What be thy name...."
"Charles of Cassidy and Quinn from the realm of Tyrone, late of Avalon," he said, looking up briefly. Marianne was still in shock.
"Chas... he says he's Arthur... Arthur Pendragon... but that's impossible... isn't it?"
"Rise, milord, and greet me, for it would seem we are allies in the same quest..."
"Gladly, once you explain why you are here... with all due respect, your majesty," Chas said, grimly, as he moved over to Marianne. Protectively he gripped her arm.
"You speak boldly for one who would be a subject by all rights. For the king of Eire had given his truce..."
"May well be, but you were only to have awakened if Britain is in it's darkest hour... and pardon me if I dinnae understand why..."
"Chas, you mean to say... this is the King Arthur. The one and only... High King of Camelot? It's just so fantastic..."
"Indeed, Charles of Tyrone, late of Avalon, you shall have your explanation. But I must ask for your trust... for the villain Macbeth must not succeed in his plan..."
"Wait, you really are, King Arthur?" Marianne said again, scratching her head. "It's remarkable... so the legends about you resting in a cavern were true? So he wasn't buried in Glastonbury..."
"Apparently not," Chas murmured, squeezing her hand.
"I suppose if Mummies can come back to life, the great high King of Camelot can as well," she murmured. Immediately she dropped a curtsey to him. "Sorry your Majesty... I didn't mean any disrespect..."
"None taken Milady. These days not many believe in Kings or prophecies, do they, Sir Charles?"
"Chas, didn't you ever meet him?" she asked.
"It was a long time ago," Charles muttered. "There was a time I traveled to his court to entertain... and I stayed for a time in Camelot..."
"I know you now, sir," he said. "For were you not one of many Bards who had visited my Court over my reign? And entertained us with your tales, as well as having forged many mighty swords for my noble Knights?"
"I am indeed, sire. But forgive my skepticism. For there are many who claim to have been ye over the centuries... but may I ask why ye are here and nau, and not in England.. Or Avalon?"
"Maybe we should get out of here and talk someplace... more appropriate... before the police come and ask a lot of uncomfortable questions," Marianne asked. Chas and Arthur nodded, before following her out the back way.
"This sure wasn't the mummies, Bob!"
"Ixnay on the ummymay, Joe," he muttered under his breath as the Lieutenant and his guest came up.
"All right everyone! Let's get some answers to this!" he shouted. Elisa managed a wry grin. He was showing off either because the SFPD felt it had something to prove to the NYPD, or it was because he was interested in her "beauty." Typical guys, she shrugged. Not like it would get him anywhere with her.
She noticed the skinny officer crouching on the floor next to a smashed display case. The heavy set partner looked as if he were trying to get the other to listen to the lieutenant. So absorbed was the lieutenant in impressing Elisa she managed to slip to Joe's side unnoticed.
"Would ya look at those clawmarks Bob! No mummy would have caused that... it's like a monster!"
"Yeah some escaped bear from the zoo," Bob muttered nervously.
"What was that about clawmarks," Elisa asked casually, squatting next to Joe.
"Yeah, whatever made them were huge... and I bet you it was something supernatural!"
"Supernatural he says... ya see what I gotta put up with?" asked Bob, throwing his hands up.
"Uh, hullo Miss..." Joe said, snapping to attention as he registered Elisa next to him.
"Whoa, settle down," she laughed. "Just call me Elisa. I'm just a visitor, remember?"
"You can count on me to get down to the bottom of this!" Joe insisted. "The others won't believe it, but I sure do! I just know it's either the work of mutated monsters... or something far worse..."
"How worse?" Elisa asked.
"Really worse. If what I think is true..."
Inwardly Elisa shivered. This Joe seemed to most like a harmless fruitcake who dabbled in conspiracy theories and third encounters. He probably believed X Files was based on actual events. But his sort could be dangerous if not treated carefully.
"I've been reading about NY city in the papers... and surely you must have heard about the reports of flying monsters..."
"Flying... monsters?" Elisa grinned, but inwardly flinched.
"Yeah," Joe said in a hushed whisper. "Gargoyles!"
"Joe, knock it off already!" Bob said, grabbing his partner and yanking Joe to his feet. "Ya wan them to think we're nothing but a bunch of loonies?"
"Easy there," Elisa said. "There's a lot of stuff that's happened recently no body can explain. And it's our job as police to listen to every story... and take it for what it's worth... something did happen here. And we can't explain it. But that doesn't mean we rule out something... no matter how wild it may seem. What exactly did you read about New York..."
"Well, it caught my attention because I was reading in the Weekly World news about the sightings in New York. And people all over San Francisco have been giving really similar sightings... so I thought that maybe..."
Intently Elisa listened, while outwardly pretending to be cooly casual. It was a trick she learned as a police officer, not to look too interested when gathering evidence. What she heard shocked her.
"My compliments to your gracious hospitality, milady... I have travailed long to reach your land..."
"How exactly did you get here?" Marianne asked.
"I have wandered about this new time, learning what I can since I was awakened," Arthur Pendragon said as Chas poured him more tea, then pouring more for himself and Marianne.
"So ye've been acquainting yerself with the wonders o' the modern world is it?" Chas nodded. "And what do ye think, sire?"
"It is most wondrous. But most confusing. There has been much change in my kingdom since I slept, and catching up upon the lore and history is dizzying. For instance I had to see this America... across the vast seas..."
"Something tells me that it was more than sightseeing that brought you here," said Marianne.
"She speaks more truth than I can conceal," Arthur laughed. "For truly I have been in pursuit of the foul Demona, and her accomplice Macbeth. For they wished to steal something most valuable indeed. And I had heard of its existence..."
"But where have you been living?" Marianne asked.
"I have relied upon the kindness of strangers, and of my modern friends. For they know of my travails. But recently I thought it best to enter the world of subversiveness to track this Macbeth. For he had taken my very sword Excalibur from its sheath, and hidden it away in my last battle. And he seeks to steal many more treasures from these houses of learning you call museums. I did not wish him to find me, as I have been close to finding him."
"He had no Excalibur on him as I recall," Chas pointed out.
"I have heard it was hidden," Arthur said. "And now he has something even more valuable... that could cause great destruction if in the wrong hands... I speak of my fair sister's chalice..."
"Not the holy grail I take it," Marianne said, knowing the joke would be lost on Arthur.
"You know my life well. But nay. This of which I speak is a magical cup used by my sister, the lady Morgana Le Fay, in her dark rituals. Whomsoever possesses it can gain great powers. Any potion ingested in it will bring the dead to life... and I cannot think of what he means to do with it..."
"The dead to life?" Marianne gasped. "But I thought the Holy Grail was the only..."
"Ah, but this is only temporary," Chas broke in. "Such an artifact brings the dead to life but for a short span of time. And they usually must keep drinking from it..."
"That's... very strange..."
"I was charged by those of Avalon to retrieve the cup before it fell into his hands. And I know that if I find Macbeth I shall find the cup, and my beloved Excalibur... but there is another part of this tale..."
"Being?" Marianne asked.
"There is another reason I must have the cup. For a strange twist of fate has occurred.... it would seem that one beloved of me has been brought to life... and she can only live if she takes the potion from the Cup itself..."
"Who charges you in this quest?" Chas asked, a bit suspicious still.
"None but my lady sister, Morgana herself. She has said that she holds the spirit of my beloved Queen captive, and the only deed that will release my Guenevere is the return of the chalice. But Macbeth and his thrall Demona also have taken it..."
"Why would she ask you for help, and how would she be alive after all these years?" Marianne asked.
"Alas my sister was also in enchanted sleep. It was said that she was awakened by Demona herself... many months ago, and she is alive in Avalon."
"Morgana is again alive," Chas muttered. "This is a problem. But what do you wish us to do to help?"
"I must return to England, with the chalice, and Excalibur. To either avenge my Guenevere or save her. My lady sister did not say if she was dead or alive..."
"WE will help you, my King," Marianne said. "You have my word on it. I may be from the twentieth century, but if you are King Arthur, I owe you my allegiance... for your life is well known to all who grow up in England..."
"And you, sir Charles of Cassidy?"
"I will help you, Sire," said he, inclining his head. "Provided Marianne is not hurt...."
"Granted. She will remain here..."
"Just a minute!" Marianne protested. "This isn't' the middle ages..."
"But this is not a quest for the fair sex..."
"Sir..." she said. "Surely you know times have changed!"
There was a knock at the door. Marianne rose to answer it. She froze when she saw the young woman at the door, holding a police badge in hand.
"Ms. Ellis? I'm from NYPD. I'd like to aks you some questions..."
"Wait... aren't you a bit far from New York?" Marianne asked her.
Hearing her voice, Arthur rose from the sofa. "Is it she? The lady Elisa?" he asked, crossing the room as he approached. Elisa glanced over Marianne's shoulder, very surprised.
"Uh, I think we gotta have a long talk," she said to Marianne. "Mind if I come in..."
"You two know each other?" Marianne asked, feeling as if she'd fallen into an episode of the Twilight Zone.
"Yeah. King Arthur... and I, have fought together...." Elisa explained. Chas rose as the lady officer came into Marianne's apartment. This was getting very interesting indeed!
What mysteries await in part two of St George's Gift: the Armor of Virtue?