There is power here, real power. Here the magic of the earth is drawn up through these great bones of stone and made flesh by dawn and dusk, moon and stars. It is a place like no other and I am myself blessed to know it as I do. The men who built it are long since dead and no other trace of their thoughts or their knowledge remain. They need no other monument though; every inch proclaims their superior understanding of the Earth and the Gods who rule it.
The fallen lintels and sagging uprights have not diminished its beauty or majesty; all who look upon the circle are awed and that is as it should be. But it is damaged, broken and in pain, since the purpose for which it was raised can no longer be fulfilled; the jagged disharmony of the jumbled giants stabs like toothache in my mind.
As a boy this place haunted my sleep night after night. I did not realise, young and unworldly as I was, that it was anything more than a dreamscape, drowned in the songs of the past. But it took a hold on my mind and heart anyway and now, now that I have stood in its embrace, run my fingers over each individual stone, I understand. Understand why the Gods gave me such a vision, gifted me with knowledge that no other living man holds.
In my dream I soared above the place, in the guise of the hawk I was named for, while the site’s construction unfolded below me. I saw men bring the rough hewn rocks here from far distant parts of these Isles and shape them for their needs. Their voices floated up to me, amplifying the anticipation of the Earth, our mother, who felt the great deeds that were being performed in her honour. Years passed as minutes under my eyes as all was made ready; trees cleared, banks built, ditches and holes dug. The pattern of their placement becoming clear from the sky in a way it could never be from the ground.
At last the final stone was shaped, the final clod of soil in place and all those who had laboured to bring about this day dispersed, save one. He, like me, was beloved of the Gods, able to feel the magic and join with it in harmony through voice and harp. He stood against the sentinel stone, already standing tall and proud, robes wrapped tight around him against the bitter chill. There he remained in vigil over night and then through the next day, still and silent, pulling the light of moon and sun deep into his core as the Earth’s magic pulsed beneath his feet. Then, as the last glint of light dipped below the horizon he began to play, the notes from the harp strings ringing out clear and true across the landscape.
It was a song for the Giants, a clarion call to wake the stones from their slumber and they rose at his command, shaking off the sleep of ages. They seemed ponderous at first, jerking into the clear night air but then as the Moon appeared, illuminating the clearing with silver they swiftly became graceful; first sweeping outwards to circle the perimeter before flowing back to the centre and beginning to move round each other. They all kept perfect time with the beat that came from the Earth herself, entwined with the song from the harp. The Bard began to sing and the music gradually became more complex, as did the movements of the stones. In the manner of maidens dancing round a maypole they twirling and swirled, the blues and greys of each rock rippling like water as their speed increased.
I could feel the magic rising from the Earth, saturating the air around me. My entire being was suffused with energy and the taste of tin was strong in my mind. As the song rose to a crescendo the Bard called out one word and the Giants froze. Note by note, the bard plucked the harp and one by one each Giant descended, joining the song. As stone met soil it held the note the Bard had given it for its own, each continuing to resonate until the final stone was laid and it seemed as if all the world were filled with the sweetest, purest chord I had ever heard or can hope to hear again. The Bard’s hands stilled on the harp and he knelt, tears pouring down his cheeks but the chord did not stop. It rang on and on and my heart near burst for the beauty of it.
When I awoke from that dream for the first time there were tears on my cheeks too and my life’s path was set; I vowed that I, too, would command magic like that nameless Bard and I would not turn aside in my quest for that power. Since that day I have dreamed that dream so often that the song and its words are engraved on my heart, cherished and recalled if hope begins to wane.
So now comes the time for me to pay my debt, for I owe all that I am to that dream. I sought my skills secure in the knowledge that it was possible to have such power and that it priceless. I have done many things in this world that men view as marvellous and I have Seen that there is much more for me to do, but here and now I become who I have trained to be, the Bard of the Stones.
I, Merlin, must remake this marvel. I must restore the Earth’s crown and allow the chord to ring out, perfect and beautiful, once more into the night. I do this for the glory of the Gods, the blessing of the Earth and the fate of our World.
So here I stand. Alone. Waiting with my harp as the pale midwinter sun caresses each snow covered stone. Waiting for the last rays of the sun to reach over the horizon and touch my soul, kindling my magic and starting the song that will make these Giants dance once more.