. . . in which no wereseals are harmed . . . or even mentioned.

Based in The Wrath Of Angels, By Theodore Beale. As a disclaimer, let me state that I have it on good authority that it is often the case that high quality fantasy writing starts out slowly.

 

 

Chapter 29 ½

 

The Visit Several Years Before

 

 

BRAVELY BOLD SIR ROBIN RODE FORTH FROM CAMELOT.

HE WAS NOT AFRAID TO DIE, OH BRAVE SIR ROBIN.

HE WAS NOT AT ALL AFRAID TO BE KILLED IN NASTY WAYS

BRAVE, BRAVE, BRAVE, BRAVE SIR ROBIN.

HE WAS NOT IN THE LEAST BIT SCARED TO BE MASHED INTO A PULP

OR TO HAVE HIS EYES GOUGED OUT AND HIS ELBOWS BROKEN . . .

– Cleese, Chapman, Gilliam, Idle, Jones, and Palin

 

 

 

 

In the late summer of 1984, the mirror like surface of the small lake was disturbed by a small boat heading out towards the center of it. as

            As he piloted the boat, Joseph wondered about his passengers. He was a scuba instructor who based his company in West Mercia, England. These two young men (19 years old? 20?) had walked into his base of operations the day before with the request that he bring them out to do some diving, not in the Channel, but in a lake that he had never heard of just outside of nearby Sevesham. And, Oh yeah, they wanted to bring down to the bottom a fairly heavy and sizable box (about half a cubic meter) with them. And they were reticent to tell him what was in it.

            While he was trying to find the best position on the lake, he heard them talking to each other, just over the sound of the motor. Tommy, who was obviously the leader, kept talking about information that he had gained in some mysterious manner from a person named Lionel. When his partner, Jack, heard that “the Lady” was not always “in there” he started to get upset until he was assured that now would be the time that she would typically be at “the location”. Okay, either they were crazy or some kind of fortune hunters. Occam’s razor suggested the latter.

            But as they were paying him a large sum, he chose to . . . not be curious.

            <Note that here True Beale Stylistic Format dictates that there would be some attention put on the mechanics of the Skuba dive procedure, showing that the author is in fact knowledgeable about the subject matter and filling out the narrative. Ideally, this would not be tedious to the reader who knew nothing about diving in the least. In this case, there would be discussion between the guide and his customers about proper diving technique and words spent describing the putting on of the dive paraphernalia. And I actually did some research in this area. But I want this to actually be a short story, not an epic short story, so I’m just skipping to . . . >

A half an hour later, after they had been down at the bottom for a few minutes, it was obvious to Joseph that his customers were looking for something. As luck would have it, he was the first to stumble across it. One moment he was pushing some weeds out from in front of his face; the next moment he was lying in a large open hall surrounded by walls with tapestries. With no sign of the water he had been swimming in.

 

He was taken aback. How could this be possible? The ceiling was obviously higher than the depth of the lake. And then he became certain – this was supernatural in some way. He stood up on the marble floor and took off his mask. And there, watching him, was a woman dressed in white, working on some kind of . . . weaving machine. He had seen nothing like her before. She was beautiful and looking at his with curiosity.

            He had only just noticed her and she was just about to greet him when he heard Tommy and Jack behind him getting up to their feet. Tommy looked back at Jack and said “Go back and get it!”

            “All right” Jack agreed slightly unhappily, and he vanished back into the archway.

            Tommy looked at Joseph, “Sorry, buddy. I wanted to tell you, but we didn’t want to get reported as crazy or anything.”

“All right. So where are we?”

“That, my friend,” and suddenly Tommy was whispering, “is the Lady of the Lake”

“The Lady – “

“You, know from King Arthur and what not?”

“Yes, I know, I’m just a little – ”

Suddenly Tommy was speaking more loudly, “Hale, Lady of the Lake. We have-“

Tommy was interrupted as the large box, and then Jack, appeared in the archway. But he continued: “We have something to show you.”

            The Lady watched with curiosity, first as they set up a machine, (a television, wasn’t it? – in this case they also attached a VCR) and then as images appeared on it.

Coconuts. . . . . A Witch. . . . A Trojan Rabbit . . . Shrubbery. . . An Extremely Aggressive Bunny . . .

Despite herself she found herself engrossed. And then, amused.

 

= = = = = =

 

“What about the monitor?” asked Jack, as they were getting their scuba gear back on three hours later.

“Oh, we’ll just leave it. God only knows how much work it would take to get it back up to the surface.”

“Oh, no” said the Lady, speaking up suddenly, “The Heavenly One doesn’t know. How could He? It isn’t in the body of truth yet.”

“I . . . what?”

“In fact, He may not even know you’re here right now.”

“I see . . . Say, why don’t we –“

“But he could know it at any point, if he so chose.”

“Okay! . . . . Great! Good to know . . . so we’re gonna head out now. It was really great meeting you!”

Neither Tommy, nor Jack noticed that, during the whole of the duration of their departure, the Lady was staring at Joseph. And he was staring back.

Their trip back to the surface, and then to the shore was uneventful, but –

            “Say, guys – why don’t you head on out without me.” Joseph’s passengers had fully taken off their gear. He took out his wallet and handed their deposit to them.

“What?” They were stunned. Hadn’t he said earlier that they wouldn’t see a penny until all the gear was cleaned up and in the shop?

            “What about the gear?” asked Tommy.

“Oh, . … I’ll get it cleaned up and . . . well, a friend of mine lives near here and I’m sure he’ll give me a lift home.

            Jack looked at Tommy, who shrugged and they headed back to the truck.

“So what’s next on the list, Dude?” asked Jack.

“Trying to get an audience with the Dali Lama.”

“Oh, yeah. And you say he’s touring on the continent?”

“Yeah, somewhere in Norway, I think. Golfing* on the Fiords I think. In any case, I want to find out if he can translate ‘Gunga Galunga’ for us.”

            Joseph waited for them to walk over the hill until he was alone. He hopped back in to the boat, motored out, got his gear back on, and plunged in.

 

= = = = = =

 

Twenty-two years later the Moistened Bint Queen, as the Lady of the Lake now liked to call herself, (but only privately, mind you) found herself at the ending of another audience, this time with three angels and a mortal.

            They had just made the laughable request to take the mighty sword, and now having been gone in the inner chambers for a few minutes to obtain it, were now attempting to depart.

            “We thank you, your Highness” said the strong angel, Khasar. “We have fulfilled our quest”

“And you are now leaving?”

“Yes, our mission is quite urgent”

“Urgent, you say?” asked the Lady, now gazing into the face of the Mortal.

Derek was afraid he’d give something away so he just nodded and said “You got that right, babe.”

“I see.”

The Lady looked at Holli and asked, “Why is this female angel taking on the aspect of a walking pineapple?”

            “Holliel” looked down at herself and saw that she had inadvertently switched to triski-decimus. So stupid! She returned to the appearance of an Angel.

            “So” Holli blurted out quickly “If we could . . depart from your premise, like, right now – that would be great.”

“By all means. You have my permission to take your leave.”

 

They took her up on it quickly. Soon they were all through the archway and gone.

            The Lady smiled with amusement and waited a few seconds. “And there was much rejoicing,” she mused quietly. And then she said, louder, “They’re gone.”

            One of the tapestries pulled away from a wall and Joseph stepped out.

            “You know that the sword is broken?”

“Of course.”

“And that doesn’t bother you?”

“It’s not the real Excalibur”

“It isn’t?” Joseph was shocked. He could see no way that it hadn’t been the real sword. No way at all.

            “What? Do you would think I would just let four beings, one of which who is almost certainly a false angel and another a mortal, just come in and take the sword I have protected for these centuries, based on a story of Angelic intrigue about which I care nothing? And do you think they could reduce Arthur’s sword to shards that easily?”

            “I was a little surprised at how quickly you agreed. But what did they take?”

            “I’ve fashioned a number of Excalibur doppelgangers for situations like this. This isn’t the first I’ve allowed to leave these chambers.”

            “I see.”

            There was a pause in the conversation.

            Finally Joseph plucked up his courage – “So . . . I couldn’t help but notice . . . “

“Yes?”

With a little hesitation, he quoted her – “’Who are you, who are so wise in the ways of Spirits’?”

The Lady’s porcelain cheeks turned slightly pink. “I – I thought it the best idiom at the moment”

“I’m sure you did,” Joseph chuckled. “I can only assume that the boy, who has almost certainly seen . . . your favorite film, was distracted due to his unclothed state. I’m just glad you didn’t ask them their favorite color before you let them into the sword room.”

            “Yes. But it took some discretion on my part.”

            “I bet. In any case, I thought you handled the situation admirably” He sat down next to her, lifted up her hand and kissed it.

            She smiled again. And then she clapped her hands together once. “Now, what do you have for me today?”

            “Season five just came out.” He pulled out the DVD from his jacket pocket and displayed it to her. He then opened the cabinet from underneath the Queen’s loom to find the player that he had brought down through the arch ten years earlier.

            The Lady of the Lake was curious “And does it contain any . . . “

            “I keep telling your Highness that I’m pretty sure the only Arthurian Legend they ever did was in the movie.”

            “Ah,” she replied, obviously disappointed.

            Suddenly, the Lady remembered her ire from a few minutes ago.  “- And TRUST the false Excalibur keeper to not get the line right! How many times have I corrected him, I wonder?” And then she sang out “Yonder Sword-Spirit! It’s ‘None Shall Pass!’”

            “Sorry,” came the deferential reply.

 

* Too Easy.

 

Should Mr. Beale wish to include this as part of the appendix of the next edition, he hereby has my permission.

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