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lakes. I hear in your voice the song of the ocean and the breeze. I see all
living things and their strengths."
The woman nodded and wiped away a tear that glided down Anne's cheek. "It is
so. And there is another you must see. Another moment of faith, if you will."
Unbidden, the warrior king stepped from the mist, his bright sword now
sheathed at his side, his helm tucked beneath his arm. "My lady," he said. He
bent to his knee before the woman.
"Rise, my child."
And he did.
Anne shuddered. The woman was asking too much of her; asking her to make too
great a leap of faith.
"He does not exist," she said. "He's a story. Legend."
"Indeed?" The king glared upon Anne, his bearing imperious. "Legend gives me
life. Belief. A story so oft repeated, and it changes with the telling. I have
been Artorius, Artos, and Arthur. I am the warrior who comes again and again."
"A legend does not live."
"Your denial will not only close the way to this world, but deny it of the
inexplicable, the mysteries. A loss of hope."
"You have memory once again," the woman said, "but only belief can give rise
to hope and dreams. Without hope or dreams, you have lost the battle before it
has begun."
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"I was given this blade to bring hope," the king said. He drew the sword and
held it aloft. "I betrayed that hope, and I must always return to the field of
battle to redeem myself."
"The way between the worlds is fast closing forever," the woman said. "So few
in your world believe. Without belief, all mystery will cease. That which you
love and fight to preserve will wither, and you will have lost more than a
battle."
Anne could not speak. Their words swirled great turmoil within her. She was
used to a certain surety in her world. There was that which was true, and that
which was false. Cut and dry. Black and white. Yet two legends stood before
her. And it was not a dream.
"A choice presents itself," the woman said.
"A choice?"
The woman twined her fingers together in front of her. "You are a child of
the land. You sense it strongly it's a sense of spirit. One does not need
crumbling walls or castles to mark their place in the world. Your place, your
roots are here."
"Here?"
"The spirit of Avalon runs in your veins, child."
There was a prickling on the back of Anne's neck.
"A remnant of the old blood is within you. It has drawn you here. And you may
remain here, child, if you wish, for Avalon is a refuge of sorts. But first
you must believe."
Anne looked from the woman to the king. Both were grave. Both were as still
as trees on a day without a breeze.
Avalon runs in your veins, child.
Anne had come here, unsure of her purpose. Yet, she had found memory; memory
of why her work was so important to her, why she fought so hard a battle.
Never had she anticipatedthis.
I cannot explain this.
Nor could she explain the magic of a wolf's cry in the night, or the
sensation she felt when she watched the aurora borealis.Perhaps I am not all
fact and logic after all.
"I believe," was all she said.
"And will you stay? You will not be able to return to your world."
Anne wondered what lay beyond the mist. Should she stay, would it be like
traveling in time? What sort of magics were at work there? What was Avalon
like? Curiosity had made her a scientist, and she looked beyond the woman and
the king as though some vision might reveal Avalon to her. But she could only
go there if she chose to.
"If I go, what will happen to this world?"
"It will continue on. There is great sorrow ahead a grayness. Without a
champion, your world will wither."
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Anne nodded. The curiosity that had made her a scientist also reminded her
that she left her work undone. She couldn't abandon it, but she could return
to it with new insight. With memory of why she began it all in the first
place. What better tribute to the lady was there than completing work that
would help preserve at least a part of the world that moved out of sync with
Avalon?
Anne passed her hand through her curls. "I must return to my work. I am one
to help make refuges, not one to seek refuge."
The woman smiled. "I know, my child. And you will go with my blessing." She
kissed Anne tenderly on the cheek. "Perhaps your work will open another path
to Avalon, for though the way is closed, Avalon will always exist. And you
will find places that resonate with the old power, even in a faraway place of
wild, tall pines and seaspray."
The woman turned and walked away, the mists winding and folding about her,
until she vanished.
The king made a short bow. "I, too, must go. My tale leaves off where yours
begins. I am weary beyond measure."
And Anne saw it in his face. Too many battles, too many betrayals. This was
not the Arthur of stories about chivalry, honor, and courtly love. This was
not the Arthur of a dozen shallow Hollywood movies.
It goes deeper.
"I leave this in your keeping." He handed her the great sword, hilt first.
She expected it to weigh more, to be cold to the touch, but it was neither of
these things. It possessed only lightness.
"When you are no longer able to carry it," the king said, "when you, too, are
over wearied, bring it to this place and cast it into the lake."
The king, too, turned and faded into the mist.
For many moments, Anne stood where she was, suddenly feeling bereft and
lonely, and realizing the opportunity she had forsaken. But as the dense fog
thinned and she was able to discern the outline of the Lady Chapel up the
slope, she felt her spirit renewed, a new sense of purpose now that her memory
had been restored. A new sense of hope now that belief bloomed in her heart.
The swan glided from the mist and flew overhead in a circle before landing in
front of her. The swan curved its long, elegant neck and folded its wings to
its sides.
Not all legends had stayed within Avalon.
The swan then thrust its head upwards and it grew in a single fluid rush,
transforming into the figure of a man the blind musician. He extended his
hand to her.
She took it into her own, marveling at how easy it was to believe.
"I will guide you," the musician said.
Anne smiled, knowing that she would not be alone on this side of Avalon after
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all. And perhaps the way to Avalon would reopen one day, just as the lady had
said, and she would follow the path that led into the mists. But for now,
sword in hand, she would return to her own work, to the land with the ancient
soul whose lineage was also of the land she now walked upon: Avalonia.
Finding the Grail
Judith Tarr
"And why," asked Melisende, "may not a woman find the Grail?"
"
Because," Queen Guinevere replied with that air of sweet reason with which
she answered every question she was ever asked, "quests are given to men. To
knights. Even kings, if the kings are suitably inspired. Whereas we," she
said, pausing to admire the completion of yet another delicate flower in her [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]