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Arthurian myths; The Sword in the Stone

scratchcarbineJan 6, 2021, 8:15:26 PM

Story from Rosalind Kerven Arthurian Legends https://www.waterstones.com/book/arthurian-legends/rosalind-kerven//9781849945417

Illustrations from Howard David Johnson http://www.howarddavidjohnson.com/arthurian.htm

Britain was a broken country; a wasteland of anarchy, conflict and fear. 

Its towns had crumbled into weed infested ruins and its churches had been pillaged; learning, law and God’s word were all but forgotten and shunned. Only the foolhardy dared to travel, for the overgrown potholed roads were constantly plagued by bandits. The Great Forests ran wild, its fences under winter storms, choking the fields with brambles, bringing ever closer the bone chilling howl of the wolf. Waves of barbaric invaders swarmed into this turmoil, seizing everything of value, defiling the women and burning down the farms. 

For a while the country’s numerous petty kingdoms clung together in a loose alliance under High King Uther Pendragon but when Uther died he neither left an heir nor named a successor. So bitter futile, bloody war broke out for the crown, cursing the people with despair and terror. 

Then unsettling rumors began to spiral like wildfire. They claimed that a bizarre man a charismatic, wind battered, greybeard was wondering through the derelict towns and highways and highways. It was whispered that he was a wizard who had emerged from some lost corner of the forest and that his father was a demon and that he could read the future, could speak in togues and could pass freely in and out of faery realms. His name was Merlin and Everyone was in awe of him.  

As the endless battles raged, Merlin turned up in London, ranting about destiny and mysterious omens. It was impossible to ingnore him. Even the most savage thugs stopped to their tracts to listen. He told of a miraculous sword thrust deep into a marble stone in the grounds of London great church and announced a contest to see if anyone could pull it free. He prophesied that only one man in the whole world would be able to achieve this, and whoever he was that man was the rightful new High King. 

The day of the contest dawned. Hundreds of warriors, warlords and thugs thronged in the churchyard, jostling greedily for turns to try and pull the sword from the stone. But it was so tightly lodged that even the brawniest could not shift it. The air filled with menacing complaints that Merlin had tricked them. 

Suddenly an unknown youth pushed his way to the front. He gave his name Arthur. Then he strode towards the marble stone gripped the sword and pulled it with effortless grace. At once the sword slipped free! 

Outrage thundered around the churchyard. Who was this brazen smooth chinned upstart? How dare he claim the crown they had all coveted for so long! The ill-favored throng surged towards Arthur brandishing spears, swords, knives and axes. 

But he was ready for them. He struck back with the miraculous sword fearlessly deflecting every blow fighting in all directions at once. His opponents had never encountered anyone like him, let alone one so young. They tried to overwhelm him with tricks but Arthur kept his grip on the fight and easily outwitted them all. Gradually their resentment turned to grudging admiration. As the moon rose over the gathering darkness, they unanimously acknowledged him as the victor. 


So Arthur was crowned High King of all Britain. Under the wise guidance of Merlin, he made is court in Camelot, and his fame spread far and wide even across the sea. He had a flair for inspiration and generosity distributing land a treasure to all his old enemies and everyone clamored to be at his side. Together they expelled or slew all the foreign barbarians and strengthened defenses to prevent any more invasions. For the first time in many decades Britain was blessed with plenty, prosperity and peace. 

Arthur matured into a magnificent king bountiful tireless and infinitely hospitable. His guiding light was God, his only ambitions were for harmony, virtue and gory. He married a beautiful intelligent high spirted lady called Guinevere, who in every way was his equal. On their wedding day her father King Leodegrance of Camelerd presented them with a magnificent table crafted from an ancient oak tree and shaped as round as the sun. No sooner had Arthur installed this in his hall, than many exceptional warriors began to arrive at Camelot offering to sit at this Round Table and serve as his loyal and noble knights.  

A nymph from the faery realms gifted Arthur a magnificent sword called Excalibur and a magic scabbard to protect him from all wounds. With these he became truly invincible, and victorious in every war he entered. The whole of Europe submitted to him and Arthur from crowned Emperor of Rome. 

After this triumph he returned to Camelot and from there he ruled zealously and joyfully for many years. His reputation towered above his peers. Queen Guinevere too was much admired and loved; her influence softened Arthurs belligerence and inspired his followers to more gentle chivalry. The Knights of the Round Table became as acclaimed as Arthur himself, ever willing to defend their country and its good citizens to the death. The court of Camelot became the envy of the world for its dancing, hunting parties and feasts. 

It was truly a Golden Age