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Rated: 13+ · Book · Mythology · #1546673
A secret Society, Stonehenge, & a very special ceremony. Bk item for 14-7-1 Contest Rd. 2.
#651927 added October 26, 2011 at 4:35pm
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Chapter 6
Chapter Six

Clive awoke on Thursday morning with an odd sense of melancholy.  With a start, he realized he'd dreamt about Wanda.  "I haven't done that in ages," he thought.  "How odd.  Must be the result of all that 'This is my life' reflective nonsense I engaged in last night."  Inevitably, he began recalling little vignettes from their time together - an entirely wonderful school term twenty years and a lifetime ago.

Wanda had had flaxen hair, fair skin to match, and an infectious smile she'd freely bestowed on all and sundry.  True friendship, though, she'd reserved for a very small circle of fellow students.  Even now, Clive could scarcely believe he had been counted among them.  He'd been a nice enough looking lad but, like so many of his contemporaries, dreadfully insecure nonetheless.  He had tried to fit in by acting the clown and pulling the occasional silly prank.  Wanda had been the unintended victim of one such prank, having been unlucky enough to be the first one through a newly booby-trapped door.  The other boys had hooted and tried to congratulate Clive on a prank well done, but he had been mortified.  When she'd calmly stated that porridge was good for the complexion and wouldn't do one's hair any harm, either, he'd felt even worse.

Fetching wet paper towels by the handful, he'd apologized profusely with each delivery.  She'd silently accepted each damp offering, clearing away the porridge until, at last, she'd told him he needn't make any more trips.  Then she'd asked him why he went about with such a bunch of sorry layabouts, when he was obviously a decent chap.  Blushing furiously, he had mumbled some incoherent drivel - and she had smiled.

In that moment, he was lost.  He loved her then, and knew he'd never love another the same way.  Her main circle of friends became his, and he spent whatever time he could with her whenever he had the chance.  It didn't matter if they were seldom alone, only that she was there.  When she'd told him her father had accepted a position with his firm's office in Berlin and that the entire family was moving as soon as the current school term was over, he'd been nearly inconsolable.

The term had been far enough along, that his immediate lack of interest in studying didn't damage his grades overmuch, and he had still been able to get into a good university.  Always interested in mathematics, he had immersed himself in the passionless exactitude of formulae and equations.  He'd been hired at the accounting firm of Finch-Boggy after graduation, and had been there ever since.

Thinking back, he wished he'd come right out and told her he loved her, instead of being satisfied with just being around her.  It wouldn't have made a difference in her move to Germany, but at least the door might have been opened to a future together.  C'est la vie.

He finished dressing and walked down to the dining area for breakfast.  One of Cedric's men would be along to collect him at six that evening, and he still had two books to finish before Pence gave him his final instructions.


Melvin Hough couldn't believe how busy it was.  Here they were, two days from an extended weekend, owing to Christmas falling on a Monday, and he was up to his eyes in planning and preparations for all manner of things.  There were three requests for dropped kerbs, reports of sinkholes developing on one of the highways in the north of the County and, of course, preparations for tomorrow's office holiday party.  The place was shutting down at noon, so that the party could start at one.  The goal was to have some fun, but have everyone on their way to friends and family by three.  Well, he'd do what he could; the rest would just have to wait.  He double-clicked the next item on his scheduler and started in.


The crew at Stonehenge was dead tired; the job had, indeed, turned into an all-nighter.  They had, however, managed to complete all but the last twelve inches of the vertical shaft located right against the east edge of a standing stone.  Once the sun had set and the visitors had departed, it would be the work of less than an hour to break through to the surface, set the specially designed devices in place, and then camouflage the hole.  Once that was done, there would be nothing to do but wait for midnight.  Leaving Andrew to guard against nosy passers-by - he would be relieved later on - the digging team returned to their hotel for a much needed shower, followed by food and sleep.


Cedric's man escorted Clive to the suite and knocked on the door.  It was immediately opened by Cedric, who ushered Clive inside.  Clive took the seat he'd previously occupied, and Geoffrey began.

"So, finished both books, I take it?" he asked.

"Yes," answered Clive.  "Wonderful descriptions of medieval England.  I almost feel I've been there."

"Good," replied Pence.  "We expect you'll need that familiarity, before all's said and done.  Now, as to the sword...," he gestured to the box on the center of the bed, "you must be perfectly clear on this: absolutely no one other than the King is to draw the blade.  You're aware of the 'Sword in the Stone' legend?  Well, we've drawn on the mystique of that legend by applying a few drops of an industrial-strength adhesive compound to the tip of the blade.  It won't harm or damage the blade a bit, but it will keep the blade locked tight in the scabbard.  Again - on no account is anyone but King Arthur to draw the blade.  Understood?"  He looked directly into Clive's eyes.

"Perfectly," Clive said.  He understood (or, at least, he thought he understood) Pence's concern regarding the legend of the sword, but thought he was being a bit melodramatic.  It didn't matter to him, though.  He'd seen the blade yesterday evening, so he wasn't tempted to take a peek now.  He'd do his best to keep anyone from tampering with it.

"Splendid!  Now, then, feel free to either take a light meal in the dining room, take a short nap in the adjoining room, or both.  We'll leave at half eleven for Stonehenge."  Pence stood and left the suite.

Clive decided to take the 'meal plus nap' suggestion, and headed down the hall to the dining room.  If his next stop was the 6th Century, this would be his last chance for a modern meal for some time to come, perhaps forever.


Shortly after nine, a figure clad entirely in black levered itself out of the ground on the east side of one of Stonehenge's standing stones.  A canvas bag slung across its back, it crept silently around the stone to the inner face and squatted at the corner.  From a padded section within the bag, the figure withdrew a small device, extended the thin, tripod-like legs, and stuck it into the ground.  The object, scarcely two inches tall and painted a matte black, was nearly invisible.  The device's small cube-shaped reservoir rested against the ground, and its nozzle was pointed at the center of the henge.

The figure crossed to the other side of the stone and repeated the process.  Returning to the first object, the figure dipped into its bag once more and began unrolling a thin fiberoptic cable.  Embedded in its tip was a high-resolution, low-light capable lens; the end of the cable, now also pointed at the center of the henge, was clipped to the side of the device.  The mysterious figure retreated to its entry point on the far side of the stone, slung the bag over its back, and then dropped out of sight.


"Time to go," said Pence, "so we can be sure to arrive well before the solstice.  A very generous donation to English Heritage has assured us of exclusive access to the monument's grounds, as well as permission to go to the henge's very center."  He looked Clive up and down.  "How do the clothes and boots fit, Mr. Marsden?"

"Rather well, actually," came the reply.  "I'm glad you've provided a covering for Excalibur's hilt; it would make my own sword look fairly shabby by comparison."  He reached over his left shoulder to touch the soft 'hood' of the sheathed blade strapped to his back.  "It wears well enough, and is much lighter than its size would lead one to believe.  I don't think I'll have any trouble getting used to it."

"Very well, then, go ahead and take it off."  Pence handed Clive a hooded cloak.  "Put this on, so your outfit isn't readily seen.  No point in having any casual onlookers see you as anything but a member of our little visting party."

Dressed generally alike in dark trousers and hooded cloaks, Geoffrey, Cedric and Clive left the hotel.  Climbing into one of the Fords, they drove unhurriedly along the route to Stonehenge and, upon arriving, parked next to a small group of vehicles.

"Good!" Pence declared.  "The others have arrived and are already in position."

"Others?" Clive asked.

"Yes.  Three or four of them will join us at the approach to the monument, but most will patrol the outer ring to keep everyone else away.  Let's go."

The men crossed under the road and began the walk up the slight incline to the group of stones.  Clive didn't see anyone else in the area, not even the patrol Geoffrey had mentioned.  Indeed, the only discordant element was a utilities repair truck parked a short distance down the road to Amesbury.

At the closest point of approach to the stones, a small group of cloaked men waited; Pence led his little band directly to them.

"It's all clear, Geoffrey," said the nearest man.

"Thank you, Roderick."  Pence checked his watch, then turned to Clive.

"You're on, as they say.  Remove your cloak and strap on the sword.  Be ever mindful of what I said: no one touches that sword, except the King himself.  Good luck, Mr. Marsden."

The two men shook hands, and Clive started toward the center of the ring of stones.  Behind him, the men began to chant, the sound following him as he walked.  He reached the center of the ring and stopped.  It was just past midnight.

All at once, Stonehenge was filled with a low humming sound that wasn't part of the chanting.  The sound seemed to come from everywhere, and from nowhere.  Suddenly, a fog began to form in the circle's center and quickly became so thick as to be opaque.  At the precise instant of the Winter Solstice, a brilliant series of flashes lit the fog from within.

A minute or so later, the fog began to thin, then rapidly dissipated altogether.  The men just outside the circle of stones looked inward, then looked at each other in amazement.  Clive Marsden had disappeared!

Chapter 6 word count = 1835
Running total word count = 5550

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