The Sword of Power is given to heal and unify -- not hack and divide.

“Have you heard?” a soft, melodic male voice asked, startling Viviane out of her meditations.

The High Priestess of Avalon composed herself then stood and faced the speaker. “I have,” she said, studying her
visitor. He was an older man dressed in a tattered brown traveling cloak. In the shadows of his hood, his sharp
blue eyes sparkled with the strength of his soul. His name was Talisen, but he was more properly called by his
title: Merlin. As the Chief Druid of Breton, his position was almost equal to her own.

Viviane gestured to the stone benches that ringed the meditation grove. The Merlin nodded, took a seat on the
nearest bench and pushed his hood back revealing his lined face, graying hair and beard. She sat next to him.

“We both knew Uther was not the one. Yet, you gave him the sword anyway,” Viviane said.

“The land needed a king and the sword accepted Uther. Healing has begun.”

“Only to be stopped now; at the time of his death. He has no acknowledged heir –- only a bastard son whom the
dukes will probably not accept. If he is able to claim his father’s throne, he may be the one. Until that time
though, the land is again without a king.”

“There is another problem. The sword is missing.” The Merlin looked in the direction of the Goddess’ Well.

“What?” Viviane’s cry echoed across the grove and several of the novice priestesses turned to look at her and the
Merlin before returning to their meditations.

Viviane stood and turned away from the Merlin to glance at the novices finishing their morning meditations. Each
year the number of girls chosen by the Goddess grew smaller and smaller. As those who followed the Christ
continued to force their faith on others, Avalon was being supplanted. Even now, Avalon had slipped into another
realm and it was only through the power of the Goddess it could be reached at all. Eventually, that power would
fade also and Avalon would be cut off from the mortal world. If that happened, the power of the Goddess would
also fade from the world.

The sword had been created with the power of the Goddess. For centuries, the High King had carried it as a
symbol of the Goddess’ protection of both the king and the land of which he was a part.
If the sword is gone
does that mean the Goddess’ protection is gone as well?

“Lady Viviane,” one of the younger priestess called, running into the grove. “The well . . . the well . . . the waters
of the well.”

“I am called.” Viviane left the Merlin standing alone in the grove as she hurried to Goddess’ Well.

Viviane knelt next to the Well and passed her hand over the sparkling, diamond surface of the well. A slight tingle
passed through her as the power of the Goddess touched her. The dancing, shimmering surface smoothed to a
glowing mirror, clouded for a moment, then cleared as the picture of a darkened room formed on the surface.

She felt a moment’s disorientation then found herself standing in a corner of the dark room. There in front of her
was a large stone table with a body laid on it. Candles were placed at the head and foot of the table and their
flickering light cast distorted shadows on the walls of the small room. In braziers at the corners of the table,
incense burned and Viviane wrinkled her nose at the cloying, sweet smell that filled the area. Viviane shook her
head; this was not a normal well vision. Those came as pictures in the water. This was the first time she had been
pulled into a vision in this manner. Viviane relaxed and placed her trust in the Goddess who guided the vision.

She stepped over to look at the body. Dressed in his full battle armor, lay Uther, the Pendragon and High King of
Breton. She stared at the body for a minute then turned her attention to the sword scabbard at his side. The red
velvet, with the runes of power stitched in silver, was faded and worn, but the feel of the Goddess’ power was
unmistakable. Her hand trembled as Viviane reached out and touched the empty scabbard. She fought the reaction
to jerk her hand away from the surge of power she felt in that touch.
Where is the sword?

There was a flash of light and Viviane found herself back in the dark corner. She watched as Uther’s body was
brought into the room. Along with Igraine and the servants were several of the Christ’s priests. They carefully
arranged the body on the table, lit the candles and incense, and then recited several prayers. After the servants left
and most of the priests escorted Igraine from the room; one remained behind. “Uther Pendragon, you failed to
stop the worship of false gods and this is your punishment,” he said.

Viviane felt her anger building as she watched him remove the sword, place it under his robes and leave the room.
Do the followers of the Christ honestly expect to place one of their choosing on the throne? The Goddess will not
allow the sword to be used in such a manner
, she thought.

Despite having been Ambrosias’ choice as successor, it had still taken the sword for Uther to be accepted as High
King. Merlin had given it to him in order to heal the land after decades of fighting among the various clans. It had
only worked for a short time. Uther was not the one destined to heal and unify and the sword had refused to
protect him when his own dukes set him upon from an ambush.

She slowly traced the silver runes with her fingers and felt the power drain from the scabbard. This was why the
Goddess had brought her here: to show her the treachery of the followers of the Christ and to remove the
Goddess’ power from the scabbard. She, Viviane, Lady of the Lake and High Priestess of Avalon would have to
recover the sword.