The Song of Light, "A Young King Arthur Story," by John Pirillo...Arthur is tired of training for knighthood, so Merlin takes him to see something spectacular and life changing.
The Song of Light
"A Young King Arthur Story"
By John Pirillo
The rose is the moon of the dragon bee's delight
The moon is the lovely of the night
The noon is the anchor of the day
As we work our hours away.
--- A Villager's Song ---
Arthur remembered one day as he was doing his daily exercises of raising and throwing his lance, as well as his sword over and over a thousand times and no less, that when he was still barely nine he would sneak out into the village at night and listen to the songs of the wives to their children. He never had that himself. He never knew who his mother was, or his father. So all the more reason to absorb the nightly works of the parents, whose children's sleepy eyes drooped with pleasure before they swam off into dream's sweet embrace.
Sarge caught him slowing. "Lad, do you feel like a windmill, or a knight?"
"A knight, Sarge."
The other knights laughed.
Arthur then saw that he was crossing his sword in a windmill direction about his body. He had no idea why he had fallen into that movement. He was horrified. He immediately began lifting and dropping his sword in the motions taught him by the Sarge. Lift high, drop low. Lift high. Drop low.
Sarge gave him a scowl, but said no more.
Arthur found himself back in that village once more, laying on the rooftop of a roughly hewn building that housed three different families. In those days families couldn't afford their own homes, so they would construct a house in common. Common houses they were called. And common they were. No plumbing. No windows, except those things that were holes in the walls, which let everything inside at night and during the day, including rain, snow, hail and dirt and grime, as well as the loud complaints of the villagers who seemed to never get a break from the drudgery of their lives.
King Uther and the Dark Lady, Morgana, saw to that. Arthur grimaced at the thought.
"Windmill!" Sarge shouted.
Arthur again was surprised to see his arms criss crossing in a windmill design.
Sarge looked on as the knights scattered to their homes, loved ones, and ones they wanted to be with, soon leaving just Arthur standing there, embarrassed and shining as red as a ripe tomato.
Sarge walked over. "What's gotten into you lately, lad? You've been coming along fine. Even the older knights are starting to accept you. Least was." He said with a grumble that bode no well for Arthur.
"Sarge, I don't understand it anymore than you."
The Sarge put his face into Arthur's and scowled even larger. "King Uther and his Lady will be watching our exercises tomorrow. See to it that you make no mistakes. Heads could roll." He lowered his voice, looking to both sides before speaking. "Or worse!"
"What could be worse than losing your head, Sarge?" Arthur asked a bit too loudly.
Sarge clamped a sweaty hand over Arthur's mouth. "Don't you ever be talking like that around me, or anyone else for that matter."
He dropped his hand. "Least not so's any but those you can trust would hear it."
"But who can I trust?"
Sarge grinned. "Why no one of course."
With those final words he rumbled off, singing a simple ditty about drinking and women, women and drinking and a horse that did funny things.
Arthur didn't get it when Sarge would break into laughter, cocking an eye back on him, but he gave it his best and smiled. The Sarge laughed even harder, and soon disappeared into the knight's quarters. Arthur slung his sword back into its rack inside the chambers, then slipped out of his leathers and boots, sliding once more into his tailor's cloth, which was light and simple, with tons of pockets for his tools. He looked up and saw the sun was no longer so high. He had to hurry. He had an order from the King's Chamberlain, and it didn't matter if it was the King or not. Anything that reflected badly on the King reflected badly on Arthur and his head was at stake as such.
Lately, more and more of the court were begging for his work. He couldn't deny them, as they always said how much the King thought of his work and would be disappointed if he could spare no time to help those in need of it.
Arthur would reluctantly agree, while inside he fumed. The villagers whom he often threaded for were going without clothing and mending because of this round of vampiric use of his work. At that thought, he shuddered. Vampires. Where did that evil word ever come from anyway?
He exited the knight's chambers, and then slogged through the wet mud and droppings of the horses and livestock that lived in the yards about the chambers. He made it to the exit from the castle, then nodding to the Guard there; he made his way across the wet moors that led to the Crystal Caves. It was a long walk, especially when he was so tired.
He had a beautiful horse he could have used, but that would have left tracks to Merlin's cave, and he didn't know how to hide that or why he needed that. He was supposed to be going into the village and his quarters there. His uncle usually covered for him and very well, but it only took one time for the entire world to come crashing down on his shoulders. And in this dark world that the King had made, such falling down inevitably led to heads falling off. Or worse if he was to believe the Sarge.
Arthur sat in front of the stone oven warming his hands. It was late. There had been a very thick fog across the moors and into the forest paths as he trekked home. He didn't like walking that late. There had been whisperings of some strange creature in the forest that would pounce on men and eat them if they were unprepared. Weirdest thing was that no one who had survived seemed to remember what it looked like.
"Coin for your thoughts, Arthur."
Arthur looked up from his stool at Merlin, who was leaning on his living staff, its single leaf on top dancing in little steps, even as it remained attached. Merlin's eyes were somber; his face lean and bronzed from the sun where he spent much of the day in the open, doing whatever it was that he did upon the tallest hill of the region. Arthur never asked, because Merlin was quite secretive when he wanted to be.
"In that case I would be a pauper. For I have none and I am still a pauper."
Merlin gave the hint of a smile. "But rich in the lore of the woods, the depth of the land, and the breadth of its waters. Knowledgeable about the rain, the snow, the mist and the fog...."
"Merlin. I'll never be a magician like you."
Merlin caught his breath, about to say more, and then sat down on the opposing stool next to Arthur. "I think you need to get out more."
"I do. Every morning. Early. Before the sun rise, and then until it sets. Sword up, sword down. Spear up. Spear down."
Merlin finally smiled warmly. He put a reassuring hand to Arthur's shoulder. "Some day you will become a great knight. Maybe even the greatest."
Arthur shrugged. "Perhaps, but I'd rather leave that to someone more suited to its craft. I prefer the silence of the woods and the breath of the hills. Like you."
He gave Merlin a hopeful look.
Merlin sighed. "Our destinies are intertwined, Arthur, but yours is not alone with mine. You have a larger destiny to fulfill."
Bitterly. "Yeah. Make clothing for the gruesome twosome."
Merlin actually broke into a peal of laughter, almost falling off his stool. Finally, he stopped, wiped the tears from his eyes and gave Arthur a close look. "Wherever in the world did you learn language like that?"
Merlin nodded. "He's a gruff one, but of good heart. You should listen to him."
"I do, or he whacks me on the behind and even behind metal as I am much of the time, I can still feel it."
Merlin laughed again, but not so long. He rose and gestured to Arthur. "Come, I have something I want to share with you."
They left the warmth of the caves and stepped outside. The mist rose almost to Arthur's waist now and would soon climb even more. Merlin was unphased by it, he continued along a path only his eyes could see. They walked for what seemed like hours and upwards. Finally, Merlin stopped. "What do you think?"
Arthur didn't realize it at first, he was too busy trying not to stumble on anything or lose Merlin in the fog, but then he saw the gigantic stones in a strange array about a center piece with a ritualistic star in hollow. "It's amazing."
"Oh, this is not what I have brought you for."
Merlin waved his staff. "This is."
The fog within the array of gigantic stones blew away from inside and the center became filled with a pure white light that emitted from the center of the hollowed stone. Then he saw it. A great sword, majestic and beautiful stuck in the stone. And from the sword rays of light lanced upwards, filling the sky with dancing light.
Arthur stood there, his jaw fallen and mouth wide open as the lights seemed to twirl and dance about each other, then weave in and out, and start all over again.
"What is it, Merlin? It's so beautiful."
"Hope, dear Arthur. It is the color of hope."
The light danced for a long time, probably most of the night. Arthur lost track of time as he and Merlin stood there watching the carnival of lights that rose and exploded like some kind of foreign weapon, or fairy magic, then collapsed back into the hollow of the stone, then back forth again only to disperse in all directions. Purples, reds, greens, deep azures, magenta swirls, chocolate bursts, blue strokes, lightning flashes of white streaking them all, enfolding them, holding them close until it expanded, absorbed the colors, then itself exploded into a shower of new colors and lights that danced jigs of unearthly beauty for a few moments, before themselves collapsing into a new formation of light and color.
Arthur watched, his heart pounding with joy. And something else. He couldn't analyze it, because he was swept up in the lightshow, an infinitesimally small piece of something so big, so huge, and so vast that he felt like a speck of dust. He honored what he saw, felt his very soul itself bowing in amazement and awe.
"What....Is...It?" He stammered between lips heavy with astonishment.
"It is the Song of Light. The hope of man." Merlin finally said as the light collapsed one last time and then ceased to brighten the hollow of the center stone. The fog began swirling in again. Merlin turned about and headed into it. They walked in silence a long time, until they reached the Crystal Caves.
Arthur was tired, and yet not so tired. He climbed onto his cot, and rather than fall asleep as he was wont, he lay there, his eyes open gazing at the ceiling, still seeing that wonderful cacophony, symphony of colors and light. "What does it all mean, Merlin?"
Merlin was standing before the stove, warming his hands. He was silent a long time, and then he spoke. "It is preparing the world for the coming of a new age. For the rise of a great one to rule over the lands and bring peace and justice. It is the hands of the angels stirring the pot of creation. It is the hope of the Bright One, the Center of All Things. It is your future, Arthur."
Merlin stood there silent a long time, expecting Arthur to comment further, but he didn't. When he turned he saw Arthur laying there, his arms over his chest, his mouth slightly open. At that moment Merlin felt more love for the child than he had for any being on earth. Quietly, he stole to the cot, and drew Arthur's rough tailored quilt over him, then went back outside.
In the heavens a bright star grew even brighter, flashing like an angel's eyes when it sees the Bright One before it.
"Yes. I know. Soon. Soon." He said, a gentle smile on his lips. "Soon."
Then he turned back into the caves and joined Arthur in sleep, resting on his own cot, preparing for the future and the next day. Much to be done. Much not yet done. Much undone that needed mending. But time for all things. Later.
He feel into a deep and restful sleep, his soul guided on wings of light to the realms where only a soul such as he could reach.
(New) They dove for treasure, but found something lost in time. Danger and adventure in The Lost Crystal of Atlantis "A Samuel Light Story" By John Pirillo
The Lost Crystal of Atlantis
"A Samuel Light Story"
By John Pirillo
"It's all in the way you look at it, Jimbo." Samuel told his friend, as they examined the rock crystals hanging from the ceiling of the cave they were exploring off the coast of California. They had taken a boat out and scuba dived in the rough waters off Catalina, searching for the entrance.
It had been a fluke for them to discover it, but Samuel had done so by accidentally touching this old man in a rest home. He and Jimbo went every Sunday to perform for them. Samuel played guitar and sang. Jimbo played a harmonica and sometimes a lap piano and sang with him. It was all the rage. They were constantly being invited back and to other homes associated with the ones they visited.
It wasn't like they needed to do it, they loved doing it. They both had a lot of respect for the mileage older people put in, from their own adventures, which sometimes involved a bruising, or broken bone here and there. Hey! It's what friends were for, getting adventured and broken. Right?
Not really, Samuel thought, as he mused over their present predicament. Their scuba tanks had run out of air just as they discovered the cave. In the most unlikely of places, beneath a sunken Spanish Galleon. If they survived this adventure, they might very well become solid gold business men with a line of credit to make Bill Gates envious. Not happening. Samuel thought again. It wasn't his destiny, karma to get rich. Not that he wouldn't appreciate the gesture from God, but he knew well enough from what he had already seen in his visions and experienced in his past life regressions to know he had a lot of work to make up for that he had skimped on in prior lifetimes. Times when he had been wealthy, but had hoarded it when people around him were suffering and he could have helped them. Times when he had controlled vast sums of money and had conspired to keep the masses from sharing in the offsets of that wealth so that many were driven into extreme poverty.
No. There was a price to be paid for being wealthy the wrong way. You paid for it down the road. He always laughed when Jimbo read the newspaper and bitched about those rich sonuva bitches that got away with hoarding their money and socking it to the homeless and middleclass, but Samuel knew better, he was living the kind of life they also would someday, once they'd gotten their feet rightly on the path to enlightenment. They too would one day become helpers, instead of hinderers to their fellow man.
Jimbo didn't duck enough. His head struck the ceiling of the low cavern. A spark of light struck into the darkness for a moment. Jimbo rubbed at the hurt spot on his head, and then saw something in the darkness that caught his eye. It wasn't real clear, but the light filtering through the water pool they had exited from was enough to spot it. He flicked on his headlight.
"Don't waste the energy."
"As if it would much matter at this point." Jimbo grumbled. "No food. No...Air."
"Always the pessimist."
"Better than pretending to be an angel all the time."
"Who's pretending?" Samuel laughed.
But on Jimbo's scowl, he backed off.
Jimbo ignored his friend and bent over to pick up something.
"Look at this Sammie." Jimbo said, clutching a different sort of crystal in his palms. Samuel shone his headlight on it, the one he and Jimbo both used to scour the depths when they went into the darker regions.
The stone's interior shone like gold.
"If it smells like, looks like, and feels like..." Samuel said with a smile.
"Then it must be..."
"Gold." Samuel finished.
They broke into laughter, and then somber again, they sat down on the crystals...gold crystals that lay abundantly about them. They had found not only a sunken Spanish galleon, which Samuel was sure was loaded with treasure, but also a new kind of gold. Pure and crystalline. It would fetch billions on the stock market and in the market place. They would never live to collect any of it.
He glanced over at their empty tanks, and then at Jimbo, who was also thinking the same thought. "When I get back, I'm going to waffle that scuba dive dealer until he looks like Godzilla with potholes."
"Not really." Samuel disagreed.
"Nah. Guess not." Jimbo said sourly. "Stuck here without oxygen, or a single thing to eat. Wouldn't you know I'd die of starvation?"
Samuel laughed. "I could think of worse ways to die."
"Not me." Jimbo groused, angrily muttering to himself, kicking some loose crystals across the cave floor.
Samuel got up and headed towards the back. "Well, since we're stuck here, we might as well keep moving forward, since we can't go back."
"Your logic just continually astounds me, man." Jimbo said, climbing to his feet. He groaned, rubbing the back of his head that had struck one of the dangling crystals before he had flicked on his head lamp.
"Damn crystals have the bite of a shark."
Samuel laughed again, but made no comment, knowing full well that Jimbo had enough of them to fill a ballpark without his helping him.
As they went deeper Samuel stopped. Ahead of him Al and M were dancing, their eyes bright with laughter.
"Why you stop?"
Jimbo peered around Samuel's head. "See nothing."
"Doesn't mean he's not there. M's there too."
Jimbo sighed. "Now that's one doll I'd love to get a dish of."
M burst into laughter, let go of Al, then ran over and gave Jimbo a kiss on his cheek. Jimbo jumped back, as if struck by lightning. "What the hell was that?"
"She just kissed you, love buddy."
"But I felt it. I never feel anything those invisible friends of yours do."
"Probably don't remember."
Jimbo scowled at Samuel, asking him to back off. "Probably some kind of underwater, underground gnat with my luck."
"Think what you want." Samuel commented, and watched M shake her head, then laugh and go back to Al, who took her right hand and led the way deeper into the cavern.
"I think we're going to make it." Samuel said, as they followed.
"Yeah. You and what magic is gonna make that happen?"
They both froze when they took a turn in the cavern. Before them was a gigantic crystal of pure gold, that seemed to vibrate with life. "My God!" Samuel barked without realizing it.
"What's wrong, pal?"
"It's from Atlantis."
"How can you tell?"
Samuel closed his eyes, and saw the same thing. The giant crystal set in the floor of a massive temple, with people clad in pure white smiling at it, talking happily, then one after the other stepping towards it, then vanishing with pings of pure white light.
Samuel spun around, his eyes bright, his face feverish. "The Atlanteans used it to teleport from one part of the world to another."
Jimbo suddenly leaned back against a wall, and made choking sounds.
Samuel felt more and more light headed.
"The oxygen." He gasped.
Jimbo nodded. "Gone."
He fell, eyes shutting after he landed on his side.
Samuel felt himself teetering and then saw Al glare at him and shake a finger. "Don't you go there, Samuel Light!" He told him in no uncertain terms.
Samuel gave Al a helpless look, but Al wouldn't relent.
"How do we get out? Tell me! We're..."
Samuel had to sit down. He felt even fainter.
Al glared even more. Even M joined in, shaking her head.
Then Samuel's eyes lit on the crystal ahead of him, only a mere few inches away. He placed a hand on it, and it lit up brighter than an amusement park carousel. He turned around with difficulty and grasped Jimbo's arm. "Jimbo, you gotta wake up."
Jimbo didn't stir.
"Jimbo, I've got two double whoppers to go and a giant size fry."
Jimbo's eyes fluttered open. "Am I in heaven already?"
Samuel was too weak to joke back. "Help me!" He pleaded, and then began pulling Jimbo towards the crystal. "Imagine we're home." Samuel told him.
"I can't. No ruby slippers." Jimbo gasped, and then began coughing for air.
With a great will of effort Samuel pulled Samuel as hard as he could and they both flung against the giant crystal. It lit up brighter still and they vanished from the cavern.
Samuel woke up on the floor of his apartment in Vegas to the sound of bacon frying. It smelled great, even if he didn't eat it anymore. He sat up. Jimbo was in the kitchen cooking bacon and eggs, toast and homemade fries. He turned and looked over at Samuel.
"I would have gotten you up, but you looked so purty down there with your beauty sleep, I didn't want to ruin your party."
Samuel sat up and groaned. His right side ached like hell.
"And yeah, Sammie, we must have fallen several feet."
Samuel grunted and got to his feet. "How can we fall up, then down?"
Jimbo ignored him and placed a platter of bacon, eggs, toast and fries on one side of the kitchen table, then one without bacon on the other. He grabbed a half gallon of orange juice and two glasses, and then filled them. He sat down and kicked the other chair out, so Samuel could sit.
Samuel sat down, and then his taste buds lit on fire. He began digging into the food. Full, he shoved back from his empty plate, cradled the remaining juice between his hands, t hen said again. "We flew up, and then fell. Doesn't make sense."
Jimbo grunted, a guilty look on his face.
"You didn't fall down, partner."
Samuel suddenly got it. "You brat! You fell on me!"
Samuel could've strangled him at that moment, but instead he raised his glass of orange juice for a toast. "To no more sunken caves and Spanish galleons."
Jimbo clinked his glass against Samuel's. "Ditto on everything but the boat."
Samuel gave Jimbo a stare that might've shriveled another soul. Jimbo shrugged. "Hey, we gotta pay our bills, don't we?"
"When do we leave?" Samuel asked, afraid of what he would hear next.
Samuel groaned loudly, then flung himself from his chair and headed for his bedroom. "Where you going, partner?"
"Where any sane man who was just teleported a thousand miles and clobbered by his best pal would go?"
Samuel didn't answer. He went into his bedroom, kicked off his shoes, and dirty clothes and all, dropped onto his foam bed. He went out like a light. Day done. Night welcome!
A splendid new crop of those colorful critters known as fractal flames. I teach about them in my school classes because they are so cool to look at and give a sense of wonder to a world that is oftentimes too filled with shades of gray.
I am deferring my regular slideshow for this day to reveal another design I have been working on.
This image is courtesy of ENRIQUE PARIETTI
from his 3D Portfolio.
The Second Magic
"A Young King Arthur Story"
By John Pirillo
“There was a time of magic when hearts were full of joy, and the skies filled with light. That is no more. But it will come again during the time of the Second Magic, which will be even more powerful than the first, because it will be driven by the power of love and reason.” -- Merlin
The Second Age of Magic began simply. A small child wanted something and he got it. Wendell Wimple lived in a small cottage in a village near Snowden, the eastern portion of Westmere, a growing town of abundance and industry. The village was named Caer Mare, because it was a town of mostly graveyards, and had built its industry on serving the living through serving their dead.
Wendell was not a smart child particularly, nor was he a town idiot, driven to do things because he knew no better and never would. No, he was just a simple baker’s son, who had a dream. To become a creature of magic.
So he began as all such things do with the simplest of magic. He got up that morning from his cot of straw and linen to stretch. His tiny legs barely touched the floor, even as close as his mattress was to it. He set his feet down on the cold dirt of the floor and immediately brought them back up, hugging his legs to his chest. “How I wish that every poor child had shoes to protect them from the cold!”
And that day all across the world, starting from Caer Mare every single poor child in the world woke up to a wonderful, brand new set of shoes beside their beds. No child from that moment on would need to touch the floor of their cold abodes and freeze, or whimper from the cold there.
“That sounds like a lot of nonsense.” Arthur said to Merlin, as he washed his cloak in the fresh stream pouring down from the Swords into the valley near his Crystal Caves.
Merlin winked at Arthur. “Perhaps. But it does explain how it all began.”
“So you’re telling me that this is the second magic, which you do?”
Merlin laughed, bringing his cloak up for air, and then tossing it across a broad rock to dry upon. The noonday sun was not hot, but warm enough to dry the cloak and allow seepage of comfort into his limbs as he stretched out on the grassy sward beside the stream and Arthur.
Merlin looked at his brown cloak, then at his own green pants and shirt, and then at the green staff…evergreen staff that never aged…that held his magic at times. “No, there is no second magic for me. No longer. Nor a first.” He added, seeing Arthur about to jump on his words.
“Then if not first or second, what kind is it?”
“Practical.” Merlin said, his eyes crinkling in that attitude of humor and warmth they were wont to do.
Arthur sighed, not sure he would ever get a straight answer from the wizard. “Okay. Let me rephrase my question.”
“What is practical?”
Merlin rose and eyed a stack of clothing that lay near the stream. His and Arthur’s. “Practical is you finishing the wash before it gets too cool to dry them.”
And without further word, but lots of smile etching lines in his handsome face, he set back to the Crystal Cave to work on a project he had been secretly designing for over a month now.
Arthur shrugged. “Whatever!”
He got up and began washing the pants at the top of the heap. His own. They were quite dirty because he had been training with the knights the day before and had slipped and fallen into the pig’s mud they were working in. Each day the Sergeant took them to another potential..as he called it…battlefield where they could simulate real world fighting conditions.
Arthur thought it more likely the man was just torturing them for the fun of it, since he worked for the Dark Queen. But then he shook his head. No, the man had no hint of evil about him, just a gruffness that enfolded a kind heart. Many a time the man had secretly given Arthur lessons and advice when he needed it, so he wouldn’t disappoint Uther or Morgana. Arthur was grateful for that.
He finished the pants, laid them beside Merlin’s cloak to dry, then thought about that morning.
“Har right!” Sergeant had told the men. “Today we pretend we’re fighting a dragon.”
One of the knights, a new one, barely tall enough to slip into his armor and carry it, made the mistake of asking why. “Why, sir?”
The Sarge had swung on the newbie and touched his armored chest with the tip of his mace, which he preferred over a sword. “Because when you meet one, you’re only going to get one chance to win.”
Then he tipped the young man with the mace, and sent him flying backwards to land in a swill made by the local swine. Everyone had broken into laughter, except for Arthur, who had rushed to help him regain his feet. The act had not been lost by the Sarge or the others, who stopped laughing, and suddenly got cases of conscience.
Everyone froze as two dark shadows swung across the group. Sarge turned, a scowl turning to a smile, as he faced Morgana and Uther on their steeds. He bowed. The knights fell to a knee and bowed in that manner.
Morgana gave the Sarge an icy smile. “Some men never get even one chance to defeat a dragon, let alone two!” She said with a hint of menace.
Uther touched her right wrist. “Dear Morgana, surely you can talk to the men in a more queenly fashion.”
Arthur waited for the explosion. It didn’t take long.
She spun on Uther, causing him to jerk in panic. A look neither the King’s men or Morgana’s had seen before. It quickly vanished, as she began to reprimand him. “I shall speak to them as I shall speak to them. These…are my men. And as such, they will whither where I want and when I want.”
Uther started to respond, then withered beneath her harsh glance.
The knights all pretended to be doing something else while the fight continued. Finally, Arthur did a remarkably stupid thing.
“Your majesties!” He spoke up.
They both fixed angry glares upon him. “I have found a new material for the summer cloaks you’ve been asking me for.”
Both continued to glare at him.
Arthur felt his stomach sink with his heart, and then said. “They are made of dragon silk I got from the fairies in the Golden Forest.”
Arthur was taking a chance letting out that information, but he hoped for them both to be so lost in their emotions, so as not to notice the extra bit of information he had given them. That he worked with magic and dragons.
Uther’s face lit up, as did Morganas. “When shall we have them, good man?”
Arthur stood up and half bowed. “When so shall I come hither to your castle?”
Morgana clapped her hands together in glee. “Why at once, good Arthur.”
She and Uther turned their mounts and rode back towards the castle.
Arthur stood there a moment, thinking he had been dismissed, then felt the tip of the Sarge’s mace on his behind.
“If you don’t run like the wind to get those cloaks, and catch them soon after they reach the castle, it’ll be yourself we’ll be chasing with our swords and they with their magic!”
Arthur took the cue and ran.
Which was not easy with a full coat of armor about you
But as he ran, he felt his feet grow lighter. And lighter yet again.
He looked back once and saw all the Knights laughing, but gratitude was in their faces. He had saved them.
Arthur finished washing the last of the laundry, and then sat next to the stone, allowing the heat building up within it, to warm his own water soaked hands and arms. His feet were wet as well as his britches.
He began to think as he lay there, that maybe, just maybe he knew what the second magic was.
Then he fell into a deep sleep, borne away on the wings of angels and dreams yet to be.
Seize the Skies
"A Young King Arthur Story"
By John Pirillo
“Seize the skies and you’ll never regret losing the ground.” Merlin
Arthur had a different agenda these days. When he wasn’t going through tough exercises that caused every muscle in his body to ache for days, then he was tailoring garments for the Dark Lady, Lady Morgana, or for the Dark Lord, Lord High King Uther Pendragon. The mirror of terror is what the common man whispered about them, when they dared trust someone, which usually didn’t last long, because the Dark Lady had whisperers everywhere who would hear any spoken words and bring them back to her.
But this day and this hour his energies were being spent on a different agenda. He was surveying a piece of swamp for the Dark Lady, upon which she hoped to one day build a castle. Her needs were simple. It had to be very dangerous, kill most who entered it, and have enough solid ground for her to build her castle and little more. It had taken him days to stretch out from the fields of the village, between the Swords…great mountains that pierced the sky with crows of snow and ice, but were barren of trees and foliage, and populated with black, evil stone rumored to cause sudden death to all who touched them, leaving them with gaping holes in their bodies.
Hence the name: Sword Mountains.
But that was only one direction. The other was the distant sea, which was usually reachable by a number of beaten roads over which traders and other luckless souls traveled to the realms. Luckless, because all who entered the clutches of the Dark Lord and Lady, rarely ever left.
Arthur snapped out of his dark reverie and brightened. Merlin.
He turned to look and Merlin slid off beautiful silver mount, a unicorn, he had found in the Golden Forests behind the Crystal Cave. He had raised it from a foal and no it was stomping, ready to pound the earth anywhere and anytime, giant of a horse with one wicked horn between its eyes.
“Good Spirit.” He said soothingly, and he dismounted.
Spirit, the horse’s name, nickered in a sweet melodious voice, then began satisfying its hunger on the thick sods of grass and flowers that grew abundantly so near the swamp Arthur was approaching.
“Merlin!” Arthur greeted happily.
“I thought you might need a hand in this project, so I brought my best scout.”
He clapped a hand gently on the mane of Spirit and it turned its head from its food and rubbed its cheek against Merlin’s arm. Arthur envied that touch, as Unicorns would allow none to touch them who were impure in any way. They were made of pure magic and pure love. None could fool them or lead them astray. Those who tried, usually got stomped beneath their hooves.
“And a right pretty one, he is, Master.”
Merlin laughed when Spirit rose up slightly on its back feet, and flung its hooved feet towards Arthur, who quickly backed away.
“You should be careful not to insult Spirit, you know he’s very sensitive about his gender.”
Arthur laughed, and then bowed to Spirit. “I apologize master of the earth and wind.”
Spirit nickered in a satisfied tone, then went back to working through the sods beneath him, but still keeping a wary eye on Arthur, who made sure he was on the other side of Merlin just in case.
Merlin pointed to the weeded path that strayed into the leading swamp, its edges damp with moss and bitter flowers…a kind of flower used for healing by many of Arthur’s kingdom.
“Ah, I see medicine.”
Arthur sighed. “I see stinky clothing, perhaps a bite or two and a swollen face from the bugbites.”
“The bugbites would never bite you, Arthur. You’re much too sweet for them; they prefer salty old dogs like myself.”
Spirit chose that moment to snap a piece of Merlin’s bottom, causing him to yelp.
He sighed. “You’re right, Spirit. The bugbites don’t discriminate against young or old, sour or sweet. They just bite.”
Spirit shook its head yes, then returned to its feast.
Merlin sighed once more, and then joined Arthur at the swamp’s edge. “It’s not a safe path this way, lad.”
Merlin went back to Spirit and took his long staff from its holder on its side. He wove intricate patterns in the air above the swamp waters. The waters began to boil and receded, revealing a path of slimy rocks that twisted and turned in many directions, but always led south.
“What way is that?”
“Where she must build her castle.”
Arthur and Merlin stopped their way across the path of slimy rocks and surveyed a small islet in the middle of the swamp. Arthur nodded his head, as if having been spoken to. “Exactly what she would want. Dirty, filthy, ugly, lots of horrid creatures.”
He said that after a poison snake revealed itself in the slime, then slithered away to be joining other ones hidden in the swampy grasses.
Merlin laughed. “Don’t hurt their feelings Arthur. Even the poison ones have their purpose. And feelings.”
Arthur suddenly remembered how Spirit had acted and stepped to a higher stone away from the slime.
Merlin laughed again. “They won’t strike you as long as I am with you.”
“Why not? They can’t help their nature.” Arthur protested indignantly.
“Why? Because it is not my nature to let them.” He laughed.
Arthur puzzled over that several moments, then leaped onto the beach of the small islet. No sooner did his boots strike dirt, and then the waters, which had receded, began pouring back into view. So fast that water splashed onto Arthur’s boots, washing away the slime upon them and replacing the slime with bits and pieces of moss and soil.
The skies turned black as charcoal and the heart of the Dark Lady as Arthur and Merlin got their fire going in the middle of the islet. A myriad of tiny creatures poked their heads from the bowers of trees, shrubs, holes and grass to watch them, their tiny eyes sparkling with curiosity.
Arthur warmed his hands over the blazing fire, kicked his boots off, and warmed his toes as well.
Merlin stood at the edge of a small pond, looking into its depths, where tiny fish swirled in fractal patterns that spread outwards and downwards. “Curious.” He finally said, turning away to look at Arthur. “Why would she choose such a holy place to build her darkness?”
“Why are you asking me? You’re the master!”
Merlin laughed. “Of something’s. Not all. No soul on this planet could know everything there is all at once, but must grasp the knowledge piece by piece as the Light reveals it to him.”
Merlin sat down opposite Arthur, spreading his cloak on the moist grass, to deflect its dampness. “Arthur, you’ve been negative since the moment I’ve arrived. What is bothering you?”
Arthur took a deep breath, relaxed a tiny bit, feeling the tension subside, then looked at his friend and mentor. “Merlin, why do people have so much need for wealth and power? Uther is always conquering a new village, a new land, a new people to accumulate power. Morgana never tires of torturing and tormenting the very people who serve her, while building ever more circles of dark magic about her. I just don’t understand why they have these great needs.”
“I doubt they do either.” Merlin said finally after a long pause.
“What do you mean?”
“First, I think we need to attend to some hungry beasts.”
Arthur jumped up, looking hurriedly around. “Where?”
Merlin barked with laughter. “Arthur!”
Then Arthur’s stomach growled like an angry lion, causing his body to quiver with need.
“Oh.” He finally said, humiliated by his fear. He sat back down. “That kind of beast.”
Merlin didn’t reply, instead he plucked a wild flower and set it before the flames of the fire. “That which is sweet and pretty, shall nourish our spirits with that which is fulfilling and rich.”
The flower began to grow and as it did, it spread itself out into a table, then began sprouting pints of liquid, plates with steaming vegetables, bowls of soup, and hot, sizzling fish.
“Wow!” Arthur cried out and reached for some of the food.
“Wait!” Merlin commanded.
Arthur stopped himself. Then bowed his head. “We thank the Light for that which It has given us and are grateful for the abundance we are supplied.”
After they finished the meal, Arthur asked again. “You still haven’t answered my question.”
“Arthur, people are like our hungry stomachs. Until they are full, they will never realize h own empty they are.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“It does. A man who is half empty seeks to fill himself with that which he imagines will bring fulfillment. For some that is power, control, and money, magic, whatever. All have a craving to be more than they are. It is natural to the human condition.”
“But why do they want so much?”
Merlin looked into his hands, spreading his fingers out, as if enclosing a great secret. “Some are never happy with what they have, no matter what they accumulate. Those must sometimes…with the Light’s permission or not…discover the truth.”
“How, if they work contrary to the Light?”
“Why then the Light will work contrary to them!” Merlin said with finality, flinging himself down on his cloak to sleep. Spirit walked over and stood over him, nickering softly.
Arthur pondered Merlin’s words.
Tomorrow he would head back to the castle, to give Morgana what she wanted, but what would she do with it, once she had it. He yawned. Those are questions for another day.
He lay down near the fire, his stomach full, and his heart warm with friendship and danced off into the happy oblivion of deep sleep.
A new batch of fractal flames taken from the fantasy oven of Mr. Pirillo, tasty, warm to the touch, soothing to the stomach, mind and heart, and inevitably, charming, enchanting and sizzling to the senses.
Enjoy this box of fun!