An Arthurian tale from times gone by........
Lady Guinevere sat by her spinet. She was adored by all who heard her playing. It was like angels striking glass stars, people were known to say. But it was Merlin's glass harp which was known for its magical powers. As the young Merlin plucked its special strings, harmonies of the spheres reverberated throughout the kingdom, and in the woodland grotto of Betws-y-coed fairies of the streams and waterfalls would appear, ready to do Merlin's bidding.
King Arthur had many enemies, but the knights of his Round Table were proud and gallant. They would defend him to the last. They sought to gain the Holy Grail for themselves. The blood of Christ was in the golden chalice - a lifeblood that could work many miracles, cure all ills.
Merlin mounted his white steed, bedecked with the colours of armorial bearings: riding behind was Arthur, Sir Tristan, Sir Perceval and Sir Galahad. They must ride to the Lake of Glyndwr in the quest for the Grail. Merlin had decided it was here that they would learn the truth. He had consulted many tomes from the abbey at Glastonbury. Its library had much knowledge on the Grail legend. Merlin's glass harp was hanging from his back by a coil of silken threads, rainbow coloured and entwined with gold. He would play his tune on the harp whenever he wanted enlightenment, whenever he sought the truth.
Dappled sunlight played mystical games on the path beneath the tree's canopy. It was warm and balmy - a good summer's day in Camelot. Suddenly, as the horses cantered through the bridleway, a rush of water was heard, and then, before them, was a magnificent waterfall, cascading down the rocks, splashing and spilling into the Lake of Glyndwr. The water was like a mirror, reflecting the sky overhead, a clear cerulean blue, bordered by marsh marigold, ragged robin, milk grass and corncockle.
King Arthur and his men were silent, gathered together by this ancient and sacred lake. The lake had many secrets Merlin was sure, and now, plucking the strings of the glass harp, he was hoping for some insight, some revelation. The water sprites of the fairy grotto at Betws-y-coed could do much magic. In a twinkling of an eye, they were here at the Lake of Glyndwr. They danced in a fairy ring on the surface of the lake. There was an aquasparelle of water spray like a fountain, and then, issuing from the centre of the lake was the Lady of the lake herself. "What do you require of me ?," she asked.
"It is Merlin and King Arthur," Merlin replied. "We come to seek knowledge of the Holy Grail. I am aided by my glass harp. Arthur is aided by the Knights of the Round Table."
"Good, you will need both in your quest. The Grail shall be won by magic and bravery. Follow the path to the left of the lake, carry on for five miles, across fields and meadows, then by the fair town of Pendower you will find a grave in the church there. Beneath its slab of slate lies the Grail, the blood of Christ."
Merlin put his glass harp away and the sprites of water and stream disappeared. The sound of the waterfall became but an echo in the distance. The party of riders cantered over meadows and leas for full five miles. The church at Pendower was bathed in a soft cerise and madder-violet glow. It was quiet and also vulnerable-looking, but that was not the reality. As the party approached a phalanx of knights appeared before the church, rising out of the ground, like dead men, as if the Holy Grail was guarded not by the living but by the dead: spectres from a day gone by.
King Arthur was the finest fighter in the country and with his band of men would defeat even the dead, maugre their invincibility. He smote one of the spectres and his head came right off; another was pierced through the heart. If they were dead men, Arthur and his men would lay them to rest once and for all. The fight was long and bloody, but it was Sir Galahad and Sir Perceval, who were the victors. The men shared a special bond, a bond that could not be broken, certainly not by a deathly vision of ghostly knights. Soon it was carnage everywhere, but Arthur was victorious, only Sir Tristan sustained a wound. Merlin played on his glass harp one more time for the water sprites of stream and brooklet to appear. They bathed Sir Tristan in their healing springs and at once his wound was healed.
As the Lady of the Lake had said, they would need bravery and magic to find the Grail. And now in fact, it was in sight. Inside the church was a grey slate slab, before the altar piece, and in front of a richly carved reredos.
King Arthur prised the slab up from the ground. There was a deathly echo, a moaning from centuries ago, haunting the church in an eerie and ghastly way. King Arthur bent over the tomb and then unwrapped the chalice from its dusty coverings. It glinted in the sunlight, reflected in the rainbows from the stained glass windows. It was pure gold,encrusted with lapis lazuli, cabochons of emeralds, sapphires, rubies. It was magnificent, and, taking off the lid that had not been opened in centuries, there it was, the blood of Christ. A bright scarlet liquid, as fresh as the day it was drawn, glistered in the sun. It could cure all ills. Now it was theirs. They must guard it with their life.
Suddenly the church was bathed in a rich yellow gold light, a bright aura, and music was all around them: the glass harp was being played with no player. The magic of the Grail had begun.