The clouds had gathered ominously. There was no sign of even the slightest breeze. The trees around the church looked on gravely as the church stood in majestic silence, its spire looming large over the entire city of London. The serious atmosphere outside was a reflection of the more serious atmosphere inside the chapel. Twelve men sat around a table. They were dressed in royal white gowns adorned with gold. Each one of them had a mitre on his head and a pallium hung around his neck, the symbols of power. For they were most powerful men in the entire country! This was the conclave of archbishop of England. In the center of the table sat the most powerful man in England – Cardinal Erasatz. He held a crosier in his hand. He was a tall bearded man with a stern expression on his face. The expressions of the other bishops varied from anger to worry to even fear. But clearly there was no sign of happiness on any of the faces. A crisis was upon them and this special conclave of Bishops had been convened to discuss the same.
Cardinal Erasatz rose from his seat, “I thank you all for making it here at such short notice. I am sure many of you will be aware why we are all gathered here. But to make it clear Bishop Janus will formally read out the agenda for today’s meeting.”
A short bald man with a hooked beak of a nose rose from his seat, rolled out a parchment and began to read,” The August gathering of all the holy bishops of England gather today on the fifteenth day of March to discuss the great crisis that is upon the king and church of England. The kingdom has fallen under the grip of heretics. It faces a threat of being claimed by the greatest enemy of man and God, the fallen angel whose name we shall not take to defile this sacred place. It is up to us, the men of true faith to take the last stand against this great evil that threatens us. Our faith will be greatly tested. But if we hold staunch, our wise and gracious father in heaven will see us through the dark winter”
As he read on his voice hit a feverish pitch, “I talk of the ones who draw upon the magic of hell itself. The ones who call themselves wizards and witches! The agents on earth of the one who was exiled from heaven for eternity! We have so far tolerated them as a necessary evil and have tried to exorcise their ill effects through extra prayers and penitence. But their power has been increasingly growing and so has their malevolence. Now they design for the throne of England itself. If the throne falls, nothing stands between them and the church. It is time we acted or it shall be too late. The great responsibility to fight again this great evil is upon the holy men of God assembled in this room. I hereby open the house for your views.”
A tall thin man with squint eyes got up from his seat, “From times immemorial the holy order of God and the order of magic have co-existed peacefully in spite of our differences. Though we have never been comfortable with the channeling of magic, we have let the wizards do what was necessary to defend the kingdom against its foes. All the nefarious elements were always reigned in and overall order was maintained in the kingdom while defending the borders. What has suddenly necessitated this adverse stand against magic? Even we cannot refute the fact that Merlin has been one of the best wizards that ever lived and has always held the best interest of the kingdom at heart. Has he suddenly turned against the kingdom now? Why are we suddenly required mobilizing against Merlin and his band?”
Before he could finish, a small man with a ratty face and hair jutting out in front jumped up from his seat, “Brother Gregory, which world are you living in? Seems like you have been buried in the countryside too long and lost touch with what is happening in the kingdom. Merlin had gone senile and lost his senses. It is Morgana Le Frey who controls all the magic in the kingdom now. It is rumored she seduced Merlin and has him under her spell.”
A large man with a ruddy round face jumped up from his seat, “That is what happens to the ones who lack the discipline of the church. All Merlin’s good intentions have only paved his road to hell. We should have never allowed this abomination in the first place. Let us stamp it down at least now. Or die trying. If we cannot defend this kingdom without this unholy power from hell, then let the kingdom fall. Aren't we more concerned with the kingdom of heaven than any kingdom on earth?”
An old man bent with age rose slowly and spoke up in a conciliatory tone, “Brother Benford, I can understand your angst. But let us not allow emotions to lead us to speak treason. All of us are deeply concerned with what is happening in the kingdom. But I don’t think evil is in the magic itself. It is this Morgana, the spawn of evil. When our old king sought to take that whelp of lowly blood into his hearth, I had protested strongly. But my advice went unheeded and the snake was admitted into the Garden of Eden. Now she is wrecking her evil.”
“But that’s all past story, Brother. What do we do now?”
“Evil begets evil. Only something inherently evil can be corrupted. She just used the inherent evil in magic to her benefit”
The whole chapel broke into cacophony. Emotions flew high and years of discipline were thrown to wind. Arguments flowed freely back and forth. Cardinal Erasatz sat calmly observing the proceedings. Finally he decided that it was time for him to step in. He slowly rose from his seat. Such was the power of his presence that in minutes the whole chapel was in pin drop silence. All the bishops were back in their seats and looked on eagerly as their leader opened his mouth to speak.
“My dear brothers, I have heard you all. Each of you has a point and you are right from your own view point. I have been closely observing the way things have been shaping up from a very long time and I can’t say this was really unexpected. I have considered the possibility of such things as are happening now coming to pass. I have accordingly been making my preparation.”
All the bishops waited with bated breath as the cardinal took a pause. He cleared his throat, picked up the cup of water kept in front of him, took a few sips and continued, “As some of you have pointed out the use of magic is indeed a sacrilege against God. By drawing wild magic, man arrogates to himself the power of God and such a practice should be condemned by every true apostle of God. I am not sure what reason our predecessors had for coming to terms with these forces. But the current circumstances have given us a chance to change that and let us make use of this opportunity our good and gracious father from heaven has given us.”
He once again paused and scanned the faces of the bishops for their reactions. Most of the bishops tried to hold a poker face. It was not good to let their emotions run wild in front of the cardinal.
“However I am not been altogether unconcerned about the need to defend our kingdom from enemy nations who have no compunctions about the means of war. We need to be practical to a certain extent as well and be resourceful in our work of the Lord on this Earth. You all know the parable of the master who gave the same number of talents to each servants and how the master rewarded only the servant who used his talents well to further multiply his talents. We should heed wisdom from the parable. “
“I dwelled deeply into the history of magic use and have contemplated a lot about it. I have come to the conclusion that wild magic by itself is not evil. It is like an apple in the Garden of Eden. The apple is not evil in itself. How can it be for is it also not God’s own creation? But eating it without the Lord’s permission is what makes it evil. We should refrain from committing man’s original sin all over again. But God has always said ask and it shall be given to you. So all we need to do is to ask God and draw the power from God himself.”
Once again he paused to let the implication of what they had just said sink in to the bishops. Some of the bishops seemed to have let down the guard. They seemed to be shocked beyond belief at what they had just heard. But still what the cardinal said made absolute sense and they all had complete faith in his Holiness’ greater wisdom.
“Some of you might be wondering if I am suggesting that we take arms. That is of course not possible for the hands that hold the Holy Book and the rosary are not meant to hold the sword and the shield. That is the calling of the Knights of the Round Table. What I suggest is to create a holy order of the knights who will be blessed with the gift of magic from God himself. Pure magic! Holy Magic! That we will channelize from the Lord himself and bequeath to them.”
Now the whole hall stirred with excitement. One of the bishops could no longer hold himself back. “But his Holiness, how is that possible?”
The cardinal smiled. “It might come as a surprise to you but over 5 years back I had commissioned a highly secret research project. I have recently received the results. It has been discovered that weapons and armor manufactured in a certain way from Goblin forges have a property that enables them to receive blessings that endows them with properties similar to the power of magic. I have ordered for a special sword and it will soon be on its way."
As if in answer to his statement, there was a knock at the door. “You have my leave to enter the holy premises, Ragnuk.”
A fat little man with an ugly warty face and a pointed nose fully decked with gold jewelry entered. He walked up to the cardinal and handed him a sword inside a sheath. “We have forged the sword as per your specifications. Hope it is to your satisfaction, your Holiness.” He bowed.
The cardinal took the sheath and drew the sword out for all the bishops to see. And what a spectacle it was! It was made of pure silver. The handle was carved intricately and set with rubies. Something was carved near the hilt. But it was not readable from where the bishops sat.
“Well done, Ragnuk. You have indeed kept your side of the deal and I shall, mine.” So saying he drew out a large pouch and gave it to the goblins. Even the money minded rude goblins knew to give a cardinal the courtesy of not counting the money in front of him. The goblin bowed and left.
“I know what will be the next question that must be occupying all your minds. How can we trust the knights? As many of you may already suspect, the round table has indeed been compromised. But there is one who holds my complete trust. I have spoken to him already. He will identify other trustworthy knights and establish the holy order of knights. He will be here in a little while. If I am right it is him at the door right now. You may enter, Sir Percivale.”
A tall man with an athletic build entered. He had pronounced facial features, a flaming red bushy mane and shining green eyes. He radiated strength and courage as he took confident strides towards the cardinal, majestic like a lion. He greeted the cardinal by kneeling in front of him and taking a dignified bow. “Rise, Sir Percival. My dear brothers, let me present to you our Holy Champion.” All the bishops looked at him. His very presence seemed to inspire their confidence.
“Your sword please, Sir Percivale.” The knight once again knelt and proffered his sword to the cardinal. The cardinal took it and sent it away with an orderly. Then he held out the goblin sword to his fellow bishops and said, “Join me in consecrating this sword.” The cardinal started chanting. The bishops formed a circle around him and they all started chanting in unison. Sir Percivale stood by patiently while the bishops went on for an hour.
Finally they were done and the cardinal held out the sword. Sir Percivale once again knelt and bowed. The cardinal tapped his shoulders with the sword and held it to out him. He took it deferentially with a bow. The cardinal sprinkled holy water on him as he rose. ”Today you are re-born as the first knight of the Holy order of our Lord in Heaven. I hereby re-christen you Godric, the one who carries the power of God.”
Click for other Chapters: Chapter 1 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Picture Credit : Bishop Picture