THE PENDRAGON PROPHECY
In the cool stone chamber dug deep under the hillside of the guarded Italian monastery, Brother Sincero stood hunched over a large oak table piled high with opened ancient books, scrolls and manuscripts. In one hand he held a short-fused wax candle. It dripped down the monk’s withered hand onto the ancient scripts. The wax showed someone had been in these books, someone had read them, remembered their words, and cared enough about history to peel back the pages.
The old monk was numb to the hot wax but in his ancient eyes was an unpredictable wildness. His breath wheezed from his thin chest that was prone to many ills over the years. He was no longer the strong and erect tree of his youth but a withered vine of a man now. Brother Sincero ignored the signs that his body was dying. There were more important matters to attend to besides his certain death. He was in a footrace against time.
Behind him, standing eagerly in the shadows, the brown-robed novice fidgeted at his assigned station. He wore a fresh tonsure cut of hair on his scalp administered by the Abbot as a sign of new religious devotion and humility. How many hours had he been waiting for the old man to say something, to even notice his presence in the room? The young man’s eyes betrayed his anxiety. Standing in the constant dim and humid room was an unbearable task to him. If only the old monk would share his research, give him something to do as an aide. But Sincero would not share his decades of scholarly ambition. The old monk was an explorer lost in the fog of his mind behind those ancient eyes. When he died perhaps the novice would have earned his right to an assignment higher up in the monastery; outside where he could walk and work in the warmth of the Italian sun pruning the grape vines with the other more privileged novitiates. The sun would burn his skin and blend the many freckles of his face into that of a man.
Oh, how he dreamed while he waited on the old man during the morning and evening lectio divina, mass and vespers.
The monk staggered back from the open pages of a curious small leather bound ledger in his hand. The candle in his hand hovered above the open yellowed page, small drips of wax collecting on the edges.
“Can this be it?” the old man cried aloud. “Can this be it?” Brother Sincero pulled the ledger closer to his face, smelling its open page as a man defining the aromatic essence of a fine wine. His eyes read down the page, one hand-written line at a time. A face that rarely smiled grew radiant again, the edges of his thin whiskered lips turning upward, broken and yellowed teeth realizing a grin. “I found one at last!”
The novice found himself erect now, his legs braced for the collapse of the ecstatic old monk. He dared to speak. “Are you alright, Brother Sincero?”
Sincero slowly turned and saw the young man in the dim light. “I apologize. I forgot they had assigned you to me. How long have you been standing there in the half light?”
“Since early morning, Brother. And yesterday and last week and the month before.”
The old man smiled and nodded. “So you volunteered in good faith to be by my side.”
“I did not volunteer, Brother Sincero. I was assigned by the Abbot.”
“To catch me when I fall, I suppose.”
The old man’s wispy gray brows raised and he smiled to himself. “Of course you did not volunteer. These vaults, these dusty, mildewed old books reek of old age like me. I am sure the Abbot wants a witness when I pass, someone young and fit to attack the many stairs above and announce my inevitable demise. But I am not dead yet, my young friend. Not today! I have become young again with this!” He held up the small ledger. “I hold in my hands the culmination of many years work. Come close, so I may see you clearly.”
The novice stepped forward, his face illuminated by the firmly-held candle in the monk’s hand.
“So young,” said the monk. “So ready for life. Why have you chosen this weary life?”
“I am only eighteen,” said the boy. “I came under my parents’ wishes. I was bad in school – a troublemaker. For now I am but a postulant. I have not yet taken the sovereign vows to dedicate my life to God and Christ and our Holy Spirit.”
The monk smiled. “I can see the mischief still in your face. And today you will create a new mischief. Much better than pulling the chair out from under a boy or throwing rocks at birds. Behold!” The old man turned the open ledger to the novice and raised it close to his face.
The novice studied the ledger carefully and withered. “It is in a language I do not understand, Brother Sincero. I have my Latin, but...”
The old monk chortled with a kind laugh the novice had never heard from him before. “This is written in English. Pardon my obfuscation. As will become apparent, your diligent watch by my side has brought you into the history of this thing with me. We - you and I - will be remembered from this day forward as the men of God who tickled the belly of history and found an ancient truth with the power to change human destiny.” The old monk wheezed and coughed after the elaborate and highly excited speech.
The novice rushed to a side table by the heavy oak door and poured the old man a crystal glass of red wine. He returned it to Brother Sincero and raised the sweet elixir to his lips. The old man stayed the wine away with a gesture of his hand. “I cannot drink alone this day. Pour yourself a glass so that we may celebrate together.”
The novice smiled and returned to the side table to pour himself a half glass of wine. He carefully carried it to be at the monk’s side.
The old man raised his glass and offered a toast. “May the Pendragon Prophecy be true!”
“To the Pendragon Prophecy,” said the novice.
Brother Sincero tapped his drink to the boy’s and they sipped carefully. “It is good?” asked the monk.
“Better than anything I have tasted.”
Brother Sincero smiled. “Do not make a habit of it. There is a devil hidden in the bottom of a big glass.”
They finished their wine and the novice returned the glasses to the side table.
Sincero set the long fingers of his free hand on the novice’s shoulder. “You will declare our find!”
“What shall I say?” asked the novice.
“You must cry out in your biggest voice, ‘Brother Sincero has found one’.”
The novice nodded humbly. “Brother Sincero has found one.”
“Louder!” insisted the monk.
The younger man raised his voice. “Brother Sincero has found one!”
Brother Sincero smiled. “Imagine yourself standing in the back of a large cathedral. Imagine a bishop or a priest standing at the faraway pulpit addressing his parishioners in the nave. Now direct your loud voice to him!”
“Brother Sincero has found one!” the novice shouted.
Never had such a voice echoed in the chamber of silent books and scrolls.
“That is the voice you must use!” Brother Sincero insisted as he clutched the ledger to his breast.
“One small question, if I may be so bold,” the novice said in a near whisper.
“Yes?” said the kindly monk.
“What have we found? What is this Pendragon Prophecy?”
Brother Sincero tossed his head back and laughed. “How forgetful of me! Fifty years and a million pages have my eyes seen! And what have we discovered?”
The novice’s eyes grew wide, waiting for the answer.
“We have found a new king!”