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The Circle of Stones
Many years ago in a time of shattered shields and broken swords a king rose from the ashes. His name was Arthur, King Arthur, and his deeds were widely known throughout the land. When Arthur pulled the sword from the stone and was made king a new era began.
Based on the bonds of fellowship, King Arthur gathered his knights and restored the peace. His castle, Camelot, was built at the pinnacle of his rule. None doubted his honor; the brave Arthur was loved by his people.
Guided in his wisdom by the omnipotent and omniscient wizard Merlin, who advised and was his steward for many years, Arthur reigned. But alas, Merlin was a vain and arrogant; flattery was something he couldn’t resist. A young fledgling witch came to him with sharp green eyes and soft skin. Her name was Morgan Le Fay.
Merlin taught the vivacious witch all his secrets of wizarding and poured his heart into her hoping to have an equal to confide in. Then eventually, Merlin was betrayed! Morgan turned against him and bound him into an everlasting sleep in a dark cave never to be seen again.
As for Arthur, his rule was plagued by Morgan’s schemes, although he did not know it was her. Morgan bewitched the King’s nephew Modred, who set into motion several acts. Modred caused the discrediting of the most faithful knight, Sir Lancelot.
In a bitter war, the dark times returned and in the throes of the fighting the kingdom itself began to rip apart. Modred was exposed as the traitor he was and a war ensued between Arthur and Modred; the king’s fallen nephew wanted to be king.
In a battle never again equaled, Arthur smote Modred a blow that mortally wounded him. In his final death thro Modred dealt Arthur a blow that would kill him in time.
As both men lay dying, Morgan moved into finish her spell and bind the world to her to control. There in the ruins of Camelot Morgan sat around the star stones to complete her spell. But something went wrong.
Though no one knows what happened there are two legends that have been whispered through the halls of time. One is that a young boy of 14 walked across the field playing a song on a strange wooden instrument he called a clarinet.
The other one is that Merlin pulled himself out of the spell and bound his own magic and Morgan’s into the very star stones themselves. Through whatever magic, Morgan has been incarcerated for thousands of years, but now, someone wants her back.
And so story turns to a young man in a small village. He’s a stargazer and a dreamer with hopes of one day reaching the sky itself.
“Matthew Mcgiven, you useless lout, don’t let me catch you writing some piece of blasted music. It’s work time, and you my son are one lazy idiot! This is truly the 21’st century. The women do everything!” screeched a plump unsmiling woman.
She bustled around the kitchen, lecturing her husband the whole way. “Look here Charles Mcgiven, you earn your keep in my house! I don’t want to see you in this farmhouse until 5:00 for supper you hear me?”
My father was scared stiff of my mother; she ran the house, and anything else we owned. She was a kind soul who worried on the outside. Though her bark was worse than her bite, she was kind but liked to complain a lot.
I stuffed my music into my case and then opened my window and jumped down the eight foot drop, falling into a plump pile of mown grass behind the bushes. In our old English style farmhouse, everything was older and non-contemporary. We owned a farmer’s market, the best in town, and I knew my parent’s were easily the best gardeners in Applesville.
There was just one problem with that. Our town had exactly 85 people in it so everyone in the town was each other’s cousin one way or another. Applesville was in the middle of nowhere, and I mean nowhere. If you wanted to go anywhere, and do anything worth mentioning, you’d have to first escape bloody Applesville.
As I strolled down Apple street (how suprising eh?) I heard my mother yell something out the door about earning my keep.
“Sure mother, ” I yelled back.
I remembered I had to gather the eggs and feed the horses. When I got to the chicken coop, I gathered a massive amount of eggs from our chickens. My favorite was a rooster named Penelope because he never did anything evil like Devil did. Penelope was a weird rooster and liked people! He was my mother’s favorite and she loved him and let him in the house.
Devil on the other hand was the most evil rooster I had ever met. He had killed 3 other roosters and was king of the barnyard. In truth he was like my mother, very fierce except he actually had a killer instinct.
I had many scars from my duels with him and I was in store for one today. I knew it. I grabbed a long hardwood stick and prepared to face him. I sprinted out and there he was, a flying demon from some lost land. I whacked him and the monster kept coming then I whacked him again, yelled a curse, and hopped the fence.
I roared a word out that I didn’t recognize. “Montanamo!” and lo and behold, the devil backed off.
I had no idea what I had just done, and I didn’t care… I had won and that rooster was scared of me now!
As I went around feeding the horses and humming a little tune I had made up, I realized my day looked pretty good now. I strode down the lane and pulled out my clarinet, it was an old one but I had ordered the parts I needed to make it my own under the instruction of a clarinet guru, Dr. Gaines. Dr. Gaines was also and expert in the history of music, especially medieval melodies which I loved.
I took my reed, I made those too, a size six strength I estimated. I looked at the reed and taking my pocket knife I shaved down the side, creating a different sound. I then put the pieces together quickly. My assembly was my own, the barrel almost all the way out, creating a different tone. I also extended the bell and middle joint. All ready.
I then took it out and played a quick chromatic in 64th note triplets all the way up and then back down. Then it was time for my masterstroke. I had a round metal stopper and stuck it in my bell.
Wham! I was off. I started with a ridiculously fast high run with full syncopation and ever changing dynamics. The sound was unique, to my knowledge no one had ever played a stopped clarinet before and I slipped the stopper out and continued to play.
Michael Hedges was a guitar playing genius. He had been known to tune his guitar in such ways it sounded completely different. Matthew was making poor Micheal Hedges look like a backwater pub player singing the Be Gee’s in a high off key tune!
As the song slowed it sounded like Matthew was playing chords. It was amazing. There was a low melody but also a high one. He played so fast it sounded like a whole section. Then finally, in a soft ending, his tone faded away into the summer sky.
“Bloody Brilliant Mate, that was a song for the ages. Dear God, you are a prodigy my boy!” a voice blared out.
“Sir?” said Matthew, very confused.
The man wrung his hand. “I’m Mr. Scotch and I have a proposition for you. How about you come play that song at a concert for medieval historians at Stonehenge? I know it’s sudden but I have been watching you for some time and I have already cleared it with your parents. They have give you permission to come with me for the day!”
Mr. Scotch was waving his hand in an odd way and Matthew felt very strange sleepy even. Mr. Scotch hustled him into a car and Matthew saw his tiny frame and big head. He looked small but dangerous.
Matthew wrote his piece out for Mr. Scotch and Mr. Scotch told him they’d make copies and distribute them for 10 pounds a copy. Matthew would be allowed to keep 3 for every script sold and would be 2,500 pounds for the music.
None of this seemed to register for Matthew. It was as though he was in a fog and his greater thinking capacities where missing. He felt tired and dozed off and was woken by Mr. Scotch and taken to a tent where he was dressed in costume.
The costume was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever worn and Matthew’s sub conscious mind was reeling, but his conscious mind wasn’t really present. It was a strange feeling and Matthew couldn’t pin it down… he knew something was wrong but it didn’t compute.
Finally a hand shook him. “Matthew what are you doing here!” it was Dr. Gaines standing over Matthew.
“I’m playing for the concert today at the stone circle. I am going to play live. I have always wanted this!” Matthew was back. Dr. Gaines had somehow sparked some life into him!
Doctor Gaines frowned and said, “I think I should take you home to your grandmother and we can talk about this Scotch. He is an undesirable character. He isn’t well liked and is known for double crossing his clients and colleagues.” Dr. Gaines was skeptical and iron ran in her voice.
“What harm is there? I mean it’s just a concert. There is no worldly impact weighing on this. I am going to play that piece I’ve been piecing together with you.” Matthew spoke evenly and slightly down trodden.
Dr. Gaines said something chilling in a voice Matthew didn’t recognize at all. It was a voice that was hard with anger. “How do you know about those worldly impacts young whipper snapper!” the voice caused Matthew to jump back in fear.
Matthew decided to listen and try to be rational as she told the story to Matthew about Morgan Le Fay and how she had done the deeds and the legend about the magic that stopped her.
“I believe a version of you stopped Morgan that day, so naturally only another boy like that one or one of the same blood could reverse the spell. The song you play is the basis for the most powerful of wizardry. Not even Merlin could fully control it!”
“You’re just jealous because I was chosen to play over you!” Matthew was piping mad now and very defiant.
“Fine I cannot and will not try to stop you… the world!” She stormed out and Matthew noticed her flaming orange hair was especially bright today.
With five more minutes before going on stage, Matthew carefully tuned and made a few edits in his score. The fight with Dr. Gaines was fresh in his mind as he began to walk up the stage and stood behind a great pillar of stone.
Matthew saw some strange markings on the stone and even though he didn’t know what they meant consciously his unconscious said they meant a mark of destiny will stand here and face his destiny for good or ill.
Matthew stepped out on cue hearing Mr. Scotch go, “Kicking off our convention a prodigy in medieval music it’s Matthew Mcgiven!” As he boomed this his face showed pure glee.
Suddenly the world vanished and all Matthew knew was the music. He didn’t glance once at the score and let the music take him where it went. His hands worked as he pulled out his stopper. What he did now paled in comparison to what he had done earlier.
Matthew felt a strange tugging in his chest but ignored it and kept on playing. He heard voices in the background grow eerily high but ignored that too and as the melody grew rowdier he let the music take him.
No time passed for him. What went on could have been mere seconds or millions of years. Matthew went ballistic playing notes he had only dreamed of. Playing instinctively, letting go of any control, knowing that as soon as it was over he would never be the same.
As this went on Matthew saw flashes of warfare streak in his eyes combined with spells and wizards in long robes. Matthew had no idea what this was and thought he was seeing his melody in his mind’s eye.
Finally Matthew saw a carbon copy of himself; tall, skinny, red headed, freckled face, playing on this very spot when suddenly a woman stood in front of him.
“Thank you for freeing me Mindina. I always said you would help me!” then she turned and raised her hand to kill me with a spell. This was, to Matthew’s horror what Dr. Gaines predicted.
Matthew stood motionless and dumbstruck. A hand grabbed him and he meekly followed then was urged into a sprint. Dr. Gaines! She was holding off Morgan as they ran, dodging spells and curses. Finally the evil Mr. Scotch was in front of me with a dagger.
Dr. Gaines raised her hand and he went flying back off and, possessed by some instinct, Matthew blew a sharp note and Morgan was thrown back. Instinct propelled Matthew to play.
He played a quick note series almost like a scale or and arpeggio and repeated it over and over until finally Morgan was stopped short. Matthew then turned and blasted a huge low monstrous low E and she was blasted back off her feet; thrown far into the distance. Matthew then promptly and collectively fainted.
Matthew woke up and saw his grandmother standing over him, “Grandma what are you doing here? Are you part of this?”
“Well… not as much as Claire, but yes I am a witch. And I supply your strong magical blood.” Grandmother spoke in her quivery old voice.
“Your grandmother is too modest… I wouldn’t be here if it was not for her. She brought me back much like you brought Morgan back.” It was Dr. Gaines.
Matthew knew instinctively who she was. “Guinevere” he breathed in a soft voice. “Wait, where is Morgan? She won. We have to stop her. I screwed up. It’s all my fault.” Matthew trailed off.
“It isn’t your fault. It’s ours for doing this to you. We created this situation.” Grandmother spoke to Matthew or maybe to herself.
“It will be put right I will take you to the wisest living of our kind. He will know what to do but it will not be easy to win his help. He is subtle and far crazier than myself and your grandmother.” Dr. Gaines spoke morosely.
“Who is it?” Matthew didn’t know why he asked because he knew it would make no sense when he knew the answer.
“It’s Shakespeare.” said Grandmother. “No joke. I am not pulling your leg.”
“But he’s just some dead poet.” Matthew knew he shouldn’t have said that as soon as the words left his mouth.
“Do you think a mere man could write so well?” echoed a deep calm voice in the distance. It was Shakespeare. “Together through the ages we have bonded to fight evil. Now you shall join us in our quest.”
“Welcome young Matthew”. Now come, we have much work to do.”