Crystal Throne

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2010

 

 

Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction.  Any resemblance to any real
person alive or dead is coincidental and unintentional.

CHAPTER XX

     Rood stepped forward and with the hilt of his sword tapped firmly on
the testimony doors.  A voice from inside responded.  "Enter and testify,"
it called.  Melcot and Akuta stepped up, each taking a door, and swung them
widely open.  Rood and the double column of knights entered, followed by
Robin with Thomas and Rowana flanking him.  Melcot and Akuta closed the
doors behind the party and fell in step bringing up the rear.  As they
approached the council table, the two rows of guards separated forming an
aisle down which the king and his entourage came to stand before the
assemblage.

     Eleven of the twelve chairs were filled.  Hyller and Mensen were back
in their seats.  Only the chair of the steward and council leader now stood
empty.  It would be filled by one of the other eleven when they had a
chance to select a new leader.  But in the current crises they were
functioning much better as a unit without having to defer to any one
person.  The twelfth chair must eventually be filled by a new delegate from
the western kingdoms when the council had time to send an envoy to seek the
new ambassador.

     Lorfana now rose to speak for the group.  She was the oldest member of
the council and the others yielded to her age.  "My lords and ladies," she
began.  "We are here to make disposition to our lord liege Robin
Goodfellow, Oberon the Mighty.  Before making such disposition, has anyone
testimony to give?"

     Thomas stepped from his place behind Robin.  "My lords and ladies, I
have," he said.

     "Speak, my lord advisor," Lorfana said, acknowledging his position
with Robin.

     "When last we appeared before the council, our lord liege was
instructed to bind as a condition to his ascension.  A woman was chosen for
him.  We all know the outcome of the events that followed.  I submit that
this course of action and these conditions were improper.  The council had
no right to lay conditions on the monarch before he assumed the throne."

     Lorfana agreed.  "We were ill advised and under the influence of bad
counsel, my lord.  We were simply trying to assure succession to the
throne.  It was not proper for us to choose a mate for the king."

     "Then my lords and ladies," Thomas continued.  "I request your current
decision on the succession to the throne."

     Lorfana turned to look for moral support from her fellow council
members before continuing.  "My lord," she began.  "We have witnessed the
folly of our decisions in trying to force matters of which we know not.  We
respectfully request that the succession of the throne be a matter
uppermost in the mind of our lord and ruler, and we leave his choice of a
mate to his heart, knowing he will not fail his people.  Are you thus
satisfied, my lord advisor?"

     "I am," Thomas replied and stepped back to his place behind Robin's
left shoulder.

     She then turned and left her place at the table, slowly walking to the
wooden cabinet on the wall behind the council.  The old woman pulled the
doors on the front of the cabinet open and reached inside.  She withdrew
what appeared to be a tube of golden cloth.  Holding it reverently, the old
councilwoman came around the semicircular table to stand directly in front
of Robin.  She held out her arms, lifting the object toward him.

     At a sign from Thomas, Melcot and Akuta came around the party and
gently opened the folds of the golden cloth, revealing its interior to the
new king.  Resting inside was the royal scepter of Tuatha, the sacred
symbol of the land.  When placed in the hands of the king it became all of
Tuatha's pledge of faith in his leadership.  The scepter had been locked
away since Robin's father, Oberon, had gone on his fateful journey ages
ago.  Not even Bailor in his usurping of the kingdom had dared risk taking
the scepter or ascending the crystal throne.  Robin reached out and picked
up the holy relic.  It was approximately a meter in length and appeared to
be carved from a giant shaft of clear quartz crystal.  Its facets reflected
the light from the crystal window overhead and threw spectrums and rainbows
all around the room.  Robin held it in his hands, feeling the warmth and
vitality of the living rock.  It was much heavier than he expected it to
be.  He dropped to his knees before the leader pro tem of the council.  "I
accept the disposition of the land and gratefully thank the stewards for
preserving and defending our people in my absence."  Lorfana bowed,
acknowledging his acceptance.  The new king rose amid cheering and applause
from the galleries above.  The entire council breathed a collective sigh of
relief, knowing that their dark days were now behind them.

          * * *

     A large glowing circle of energy had risen from the center of the
stone altar.  It pulsed and throbbed with a life of its own, glowing like a
flat green disk, and then cleared to look almost exactly like a circular
shaped television screen.  Ghosts images danced across it for a moment, and
then resolved themselves into a clear picture of what was transpiring on
the other side of the world.  Melusine muttered to herself, occasionally
breaking into trills of high-pitched laughter.  As Ellenia and Scott
watched, still bound to the stone columns, they saw the events that
transpired in the council chambers at Esbereth.  The voices and speeches
rang hollowly through the empty vault, as they listened to Robin's
acceptance of the scepter.  As he touched the crystal relic a searing pain
shot through both of their bodies, wrenching unwilling screams from their
throats.  Melusine screeched with delight at their agony.  "You see, my
precious children?"  she cackled.  "You see your noble king?  He has taken
the scepter and is even now on his way to the throne room.  In a matter of
minutes he will ascend the stairs and sit upon the crystal throne, placing
the scepter in its stand.  At that moment your frail bodies will perish and
I will have your souls to play with for all eternity."

     As she spoke she waddled over to them on bent legs and softly stroked
Scott's arm with a gnarled hand.  "I will leave you for a moment, my
precious.  When I return, it will be to take you both back with me.  I only
regret that we did not meet sooner.  I could have enjoyed your physical
body."  She waddled back across the circular arena and out of sight amidst
the shadows on the other side.

     Scott hung limply in the binding chains.  His entire frame still
throbbed and hummed with the echoes of the pain that he had felt a moment
before.  It was as if every nerve cell in his body had exploded.  He
managed to turn his head to look at Ellenia.  She did not look as though
she was faring any better, fastened firmly to the adjoining column.  Her
eyes appeared glazed, and he feared she was already close to death, perhaps
in a light coma.

     "Ellenia," he called softly.  "Ellenia, are you okay?"

     The voice seemed to break through to her.  Her eyes cleared a little
and she managed to lift her head, looking his direction.  "It is over for
us, my lord.  In less than an hour Robin will be on the throne and we shall
perish."  Her voice held no sound of hope, only despair.

     "Where did she go?" he asked, trying to muster enough strength to pull
against the chains in a forlorn hope that he could break free.

     "She returned to her world.  Can you not see how rapidly she is
decaying?"

     "You mean how she's getting uglier each time we see her?" Scott
responded.

     "Yes," Ellenia managed to explain.  "If she stays in this world she
would eventually waste away to nothing but a pile of filth and corruption.
She must return to her world to renew herself in order to survive here."

     "Then if we could keep her here, she would eventually perish?" Scott
asked, trying to think of a plan that might be able to save them.

     "It is no use," Ellenia moaned.  "She will return in a moment to force
us to witness our destruction on that energy disk.  It is too late for
anything but death."

     "At least we'll be dead," he observed.

     "But then we will fit into her world and our spirits will never be
free.  She will make us suffer for all eternity."

     "You mean we'll really be in 'hell,'" Scott said, thinking of the old
Sunday school concepts.

     "What is this 'ell?'" she asked weakly.

     "It's an old earth fable that describes what she has in mind for us.
Maybe that's where the story started."

          * * *

     The procession slowly wended its way from the council chambers across
the courtyard and toward the main gates to the white tower.  The council
members led the way, followed by the honor guard of Robin's knights, then
Robin, Thomas as his advisor, Rowana as his personal assistant, and the
rear guard.  The courtyard was packed with cheering mobs of people from the
palace.  Representatives of every tower and color were present throwing
flower petals and shouting out their happiness.  As the procession wound
through the narrow aisle formed by the bodies of the onlookers, the crowd
fell in behind, following on to the tower.

     The large wooden doors that served as a main entrance were slowly
opened as the crowd approached, and the council members filed into the
structure, followed by the royal party and as many of the crowd as could
fit inside.  The large entry hall was festooned with ribbons and garlands
with brightly colored banners hanging from the overlooking galleries.  The
council members filed to the base of the wide staircase leading to the
upper levels, and waited patiently.  The honor guard filed past the steps
and led the king to a small door behind them.  They waited quietly at the
door while Robin, Thomas and Rowana passed through.

     There was a small garden beyond set behind the tower and right up
against the foot of the mountain cliff that served as a backdrop to the
castle.  A small winding pathway led through the garden and into an arched
opening at the base of the cliff.  Robin knew he had to face this
tradition, and dreaded it more than anything else he had done so far.
Following the path, he and his two friends walked to the archway and
descended three steps into a small tunnel carved in the stone.  The tunnel
led a short distance through the cliff and opened up again into a tiny
valley completely surrounded by high stone walls.  The floor of the small,
park-like area was covered with rock markers, each one commemorating the
dead that had gone on before.  Thomas led Robin to a secluded corner of the
little valley.  Here, under a tiny willow tree, was the stone marker in
memory of his parents.  A short inscription was hewn into the rock
concerning his mother.  The area for his father was left blank, the elder
king never having actually returned from his journeys so long ago.  Robin
handed the scepter to Thomas and accepted a bouquet of wildflowers that
Rowana had carried.  He knelt before the stone and placed the flowers there
in memory to his parents.  Making the signs of prayer, he meditated for a
silent moment, thinking of the woman who was the mother he had never known.
He tried to picture her in his mind, but only the face of Feguna would come
to the surface.  Robin wondered if someday someone would place a memorial
marker in this garden for him.

     Having paid his respects to the memory of his long lost progenitors,
Robin rose, took the scepter again, and the three retraced their steps
through the tunnel and garden, back to the white tower.  The crowd had
waited patiently in the entrance hall for his return.  As the trio entered
through the small door, the people all began to buzz with excitement.  The
honor guard fell back in place and the group came around to the foot of the
great stairs.  The council members slowly began mounting the steps,
followed by the golden-caped knights, and then the king and his two
friends.  What members of the crowd that could fit, followed along behind.

          * * *

     "I want you to watch closely, my dears," the grating sound rasped from
the puffy slit that served as a mouth in the center of what had been
Melusine's face.  "This is a moment that I shall never forget.  And I am
sure I will not allow you to forget it either."

     The greenish disk was again glowing above the stone altar.  The
surface flickered and flashed, and then cleared to reveal an image of the
castle throne room.  Scott had never seen anything so beautiful, even
though it was portrayed on this screen of evil.  The room was a wide,
vaulted place set just below the diamond like crystal roof topping the
tower.  The structure contained several highly peaked arches and was
illuminated by the spectrums of color broken by the prismed skylight above.
Scott felt almost as if he were observing an old European cathedral.  Only
there was no altar.  At one end of the hall was a large structure that
appeared to be made of clear glass.  It was a huge crystal chair set high
on the wall, and reached by a stairway of the same quartz rock.  Several
glass platforms flanked the wide, transparent steps.  The entire focus of
the room seemed to point toward this high seat.  Scott knew he was looking
at the famed crystal throne he had heard spoken of so often.

     "That is it.  That is the instrument of your destruction," the evil
old hag chortled as she hopped about on the stumps that served for legs.
"It is coming quickly.  He will sit there and you will be mine for all
eternity."

     Scott turned his head to look over at Ellenia.  Her own head was
hanging limply over her bare breasts.  She seemed to have already given up
hope and relaxed into death.  He worried about her, although he knew there
was no hope on which to focus.  They would soon be leaving this painful
place, but only to descend to one of infinitely worse torture.

          * * *

     The party filed into the throne room, the rainbow lights bathing them
from overhead.  As they marched across the wide floor, the crowds of
onlookers filled in the sides of the room.  Arriving at the foot of the
crystal stairs leading up to the massive throne, the council members fanned
out, forming a row across the bottom most step.

     "Robin Goodfellow, Oberon the Mighty, son of Oberon the Stalwart and
the lady Titania of the Greenwood, we hereby affirm you as our lord and
sovereign," Lorfana intoned.  A hush fell upon the crowded room and all
eyes focused on Robin.  "Mount these steps and ascend to the crystal
throne.  Take with you the heart of our land and assume your duties as the
rightful ruler of all Tuatha.  We bid you homage."  With these words the
council members split into two groups and parted in the middle, allowing
entrance to the stairs.

     The honor guard started up the steps followed by Thomas and Rowana
with Robin being the last to begin the climb.  Every three or four steps a
platform of transparent rock edged the stairs.  As the party reached each
landing, two of the knights would separate and take up a position, one on
each side of the stairway.  Finally, close to the top, Melcot and Akuta
took their positions, leaving only Rood, the two assistants and Robin.
Near the apex of the structure a wide crystal floor stretched out before
the actual throne.  Rood stopped here and took a stance next to the last
three steps to the faceted chair.  Robin and his two friends walked up the
last bit and stood on the level with the throne.

     Thomas and Rowana stepped back to either side of the chair, Rowana
reaching down to arrange the long cape behind Robin as he turned and held
the scepter aloft.  He prepared to address the crowded throne room before
taking his seat.

          * * *

     With each step on the stairway pain raced through their bodies.  Scott
could do no more than clench his teeth and moan.  The energy was no longer
even present to cry out.  At each of Robin's footfalls a flash of blue
lightning raced through the rock causing Scott and Ellenia to convulse with
the electric charge.  He could feel himself slipping faster and faster
toward the oblivion that stretched out ahead of him.

     "Here it comes, my children," the rasping voice continued to babble
taunts at them as they hung limply from the chains.  "Just three more steps
and you will be mine forever."  What remained of Melusine's bloated carcass
shook with glee.  "He now stands before the chair," she laughed.  "One
short speech of acceptance, he places the scepter in the holding slot and
sits.  That seals your doom for all eternity."

     Scott tried to force himself to look up at the face he knew so well,
now pictured clearly on the glowing screen before him.  He wished there
were a way he could tell the man that was about to end his life just how he
really felt.  At last he thought he knew what love was, and he would never
have a chance to express it, except by this final sacrifice.  He rolled his
head to the side to catch a glimpse of Ellenia.  She had summoned up a last
bit of strength to look up at the screen as well.  As the evil sounds
emanated from the distorted body of their jailer, they watched the man they
both loved speak one last time.

          * * *

     "People of Tuatha," Robin addressed them as he lowered the scepter.
"I love you all, and I fully appreciate the homage you bid me by affirming
my ascent."  The crowd below him roared a happy sound of approval.  "I am
here to accept my station and take my place as rightful heir to the crystal
throne," he continued.  Again he was interrupted by the sounds of the
crowd.

     A pain shot through Robin's heart.  He looked down in the myriad
reflections of the scepter he now held and thought long and hard for a
moment.  Turning, he looked at Rowana, pleading for her strength with
silent eyes.  She smiled back at him, as if to tell him that whatever words
he chose would be the right ones.  This seemed to cause an end to the pain
and emptiness he felt.  He squared his shoulders, swallowed hard and turned
back to the crowd.

     Robin reached out and motioned for Thomas to come to his side.  The
old advisor drew close.  The young king handed the shining scepter to him.
Thomas looked up into the bright green eyes, not knowing what this meant.

     "My people, I have been bound by the council to keep uppermost in my
mind the need for an heir to the throne when I am gone.  I cannot produce
such an heir as I must confess to you that I am a natural reversal.  I
cannot accept this honor you give me.  I have to follow my own heart, and
it calls to me from another world.  I must return there and seek the one I
love."

 

 

 

 

 

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