Crystal Valley: Part 1BGM: Rob Lane - The Call of Destiny/Titles
A young man walks along a well-beaten path, in the midst of a wide-ranging forest.
He carries a rare and powerful secret, hoping that the place at the end of his journey will help him make the most out of this hidden gift.
What he has yet to realise, however, is that the very steps he takes have been known to many since before he was even born, by those who call him by many names - ones he has not yet heard himself.
Indeed, his fate will become the stuff of immortal legend. Told and re-told, analysed and re-interpreted, long after his words and deeds fade from the page of history... his is a tale that shall never be forgotten.
The tale... of Merlin!
But things are set to take a dramatic turn, even in these early days, when his legend was still a fragile embryo.
Time and again, he finds himself facing monsters, sorcerers, dark warriors, mystics and others - all the while obliged to hide his own gift from a reactionary King who would have his own head cut off were he to know the truth.
But Merlin won't be alone. Alongside him are friends old and new, heroes of lore and aspirants of promise.
The fortune of Camelot depends on their efforts, their struggles... and perhaps even their sacrifice.
From a sword lying in the deep waters, a myriad of images rush past, glimpses of battles won and lost, challenges met and resolved, powers tamed and unleashed...
...and in the distance, emerging as a beacon of hope, lie the great walls of Camelot itself!
Thus, the stage for the greatest story of them all is shown.
"The story of Merlin!" Bewley's Oriental CafÃ©
has seen its fair share of characters in its day, being that it has been a fixture of Grafton Street since 1927.
So, when one English man tries to talk to a colleague at the same table about a topic of interest while making use of a wide variety of evocative hand gestures, it might nto make quite as much of a scene as you might think.
"Well?" 'Matthew' (the name he was going by at the moment, for whatever reason) asked, "Are you gonna say anything, or what?"
'Mark' (the name the colleague was going under, mainly because 'Matthew' suggested it, and he didn't feel like arguing over it) tapped away at the page he had in one hand with the tip of the pen he held in the other. "Oh, I'm just waiting to get to the part you wanted me to play in this little business of yours."
"Little?" Matthew gasped, in a bout of over-exaggeration. "This is gonna be a big deal!"
"It might be a big deal for you
. If I sign up to whatever you have in mind, then it'll also be a big deal for me." Mark was trying not to enjoy this too much... but it wasn't working. "Until then, it's not so big a deal."
Matthew wanted to use some rather more intemperate language in response, but tried to remember why they were here in the first place. "So yeah. A couple of us have been running over the idea for a while now, and we're hoping that the BBC will let us get started production-wise in March."
"Okay..." Mark nodded, as he started to scribble something on the page before him.
"We'll need to get some actors - a young-ish set, you know, to make it all fresh and exciting and stuff." Matthew had a few names in mind already.
"How young?" Mark wondered.
"Well," Matthew conceded, "there'll be a few older characters, like Uther as king, but the likes of Merlin and Arthur will be young -"
"Wait, Arthur's gonna be the same age as Merlin?" His mind was still in Merlin-as-mentor mode.
"Yep!" Matthew sounded as if he had hit upon the unified field theory or something. "It's a shake-up - this time, Merlin will have to get the hang of his own potential, at the same time Arthur is kicking his heels waiting for Uther to kick the bucket."
Mark sounded kind of disappointed. "So no getting Sam Neill for the role, then?"
"No," Matthew sighed. "He's set to star in that new show about Henry VIII being made over here anyway. And besides, even if he were, say, Merlin's mentor or what have you, people would think we're trying to tie into the miniseries he did."
"Aw," Mark sighed a little. "I like Sam Neill."
"It's not a case of liking him or not -"
"I wonder what he'll be like in that new show, actually," Mark went on, taking a bit of a tangent. "Doesn't it have that guy from Bend it like Beckham
in it as well? You know, whats-his-face, the lad in the Hugo Boss commercials."
"Look, will you -"
"He'd probably have to stack up on the pork pies and wear a red wig for the role..."
"Moving on!" Matthew shouted, a little louder than he might have liked. "So yeah, we're gonna set the story in Camelot, and have Uther still be king..."
"Is it gonna be sub-Roman, like in that Clive Owen movie?" Mark wondered.
"No, we'll have the standard medieval knights in shining armour deal," Matthew tried to clarify.
"Ah," Mark countered, "but then you'll have all of the different sets of purists going 'they didn't have that kind of thing back in the Dark Ages!' - and than another set going 'stop calling them the Dark Ages, they weren't that bad!' and a third going 'well, it wasn't a bloody picnic at the time, was it?' and..."
Matthew found himself clasping his head in his hands. "Come on, it's supposed to be a family TV show. We can do what we like with it!"
Mark found himself jumping onto this question. He tended to jump back and forth a lot. "What kind of family show?"
"You know," Matthew tried to make a you-know gesture with his hands... or, at least, what was intended to be such. "Family. Something that kids can sit and watch with their parents and grandparents."
"Oh, like Doctor Who!" Mark's eyes lit up at the name of the Holy Programme. He wasn't entirely thrilled with some of the creative decisions taken recently with that series, but still sub-consciously started tapping out the da-da-da-dum da-da-da-dum
sound of drums...
Matthew's eyes rolled. "Do you even realise you're doing that whole Harold Saxon thing right now?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." Da-da-da-dum. Da-da-da-dum.
"This is giving me a headache." Matthew hoped that this scatter-shot mind could be of use when making the project work - but I tell you what, it's not half trying.
"Yeah, it could be shown in the Doctor's timeslot when it's not on."
"Fair enough." Mark noted onto the sheet: Does not conflict with Doctor Who.
"So then..." Matthew hoped to try and get a solid answer this time. "Are you in?"
"Hmm." Mark remained silent for a moment, his eyes seemingly focussing on some empty portion of the page before him. "What about specials?"
Matthew wasn't quite expecting that. "Specials?"
"Yeah," Mark continued. "Like, the way you see short bits and bobs done for Children in Need or some such. Are you gonna get the chance to do one of those?"
"I... uh... guess?" Matthew hadn't thought of it.
Mark was scribbling again - this time, showing a rough sketch of a giant yellow bear with an eyepatch stomping over a castle. "Well, since you've got magic and stuff, maybe Pudsey could be threatening Camelot!"
"Yeah..." Matthew started to think. This lad might be on to something. "Well, Uther won't allow magic or monsters in the kingdom, so he'd have to have a way to not try to kill the Pudsey?"
"Are you sure?" Mark asked, as he found himself drawing over the stick figure Uther, who had been set to cut off poor Pudsey's head.
"Well, maybe they could send someone out to get humiliated, and placate the Pudsey." Matthew's fingers snapped. "Make it Merlin! He's liable to get a few potatoes thrown at him anyway."
"Potatoes wouldn't be in Camelot," Mark pointed out, as he kept scribbling. "They hadn't been found in the New World yet."
"Who's going to notice?" Matthew sighed. "Anyway, Merlin can be put in the stocks, and have fruit thrown at him. Money is raised, the King is happy, and Merlin looks like he had an accident in an organic food store."
"Hmm, I guess that might work too." Matthew had a look over at what Mark had drawn...
...a stick figure Merlin with a saddle on his back, going clack-clack with a set of coconuts Monty Python-style, with a stick-figure Arthur hopping around in front of him pretending to be riding a horse. There were even little sound effects drawn in, too.
And a note saying 'they could get the coconuts from Asia, through long-distance trade or something.'
"You're not just barking mad, mate," Matthew said bluntly. "You're completely out of your fucking mind."
"I aim to please," Mark parried.
Mark put the pen and paper down, and said "alright, count me in."
"Brilliant!" Matthew clapped his hands together. "So, come on, shall we?"
"I'm done, yeah." Mark hadn't had much to drink anyway.
As the two got up to leave, five people at a neighbouring table tried to maintain their composure. It wasn't quite working.
Matthew passed one of them, some young lad, who looked like he was about to say something. "Something on your mind, young man?"
The young man waved his hand. "Oh, no, I'm fine..."
The French-built light rail tram rolled along the tracks, one of the fleet which comprised the Luas
system's Red Line. This line ran from all the way out in Tallaght, one of Dublin's suburbs. It would go along a path crossing the Liffey near Heuston Station (where intercity trains heading to places like Cork left from) and across the north side up to Connolly Station (the southern terminus of the Enterprise rail service from Dublin to Belfast).
For one particular set of passengers, however, it was taking them along to a stop along that northern shore of the Liffey.
"It's this one," Seonac pointed out. "Ard-MhÃºsaem
." On the Luas, and most of Ireland's modes of public transport, separate images were shown of the route in Irish and English. Ard-MhÃºsaem
- Museum - stopped off in front of Collins Barracks, once the site of a major British garrison in Ireland, and after independence served as a barracks for the Irish Defence Forces until 1997. Most recently, it had been re-furbished as one of the four sites of the National Museum of Ireland... but as a recent addition would show, the legacy of the site would not be forgotten.
"So, how much Irish can you actually speak, then?" Shirou wondered. While he noted the funny-looking script everywhere, he didn't hear a lot of it. But then, he wasn't too sure what to listen for, anyway.
Seonac shrugged. "Well, I can tell you how to pronounce certain things, more or less, but that's about all I'm good for."
He wondered what the Lancer Shirou had met - or the one that had apparently been in action during the 4th Grail War, for that matter - would have made of it all. But then, Irish as a language had been imported itself, replacing whatever tongue the original inhabitants of the island had spoken three or four thousand years ago.
The tram came to a stop, letting one or two people on, but mostly letting others off. Seonac, Sakura, Saber, Shirou and Rin stepped out onto the platform, and took a moment to look around.
"It's a nice view from here," Rin noted. "How come you didn't bring us here last time?"
"To be honest," Seonac answered, as he turned to look up at the facade of the Barracks, "the main collection they put in here wasn't something that I was all that excited about."
"What changed your mind?" Saber wondered, turning to the structure awaiting them.
With that, Seonac pulled out a flyer he had with him, and shows it to them. "This."
"For in far foreign fields from Dunkirk to Belgrade, lie the soldiers and chiefs of the Irish Brigade." - Thomas Davis
The latest addition at the time to Collins Barracks, the largest display project ever undertaken by the National Museum of Ireland had been recently opened to the public; Soldiers and Chiefs: The Irish at War at Home an Abroad from 1550.
As one walks through this exhibit, one is taken back and forth through history, through the rough and the smooth of life as it was for so many Irish people. Be it in one of the many conflicts and troubles to take shape on the island itself, or in the garrisons and battlefields of those who went all over the world.
While all of the exhibit is indoors, there is a very different feel to it depending on which part of it one stands within. From the opening section detailing the British presence in Ireland during the 19th century, through to the era of conflict which broke out in the trenches of Europe in 1914 and ended in the countryside of rural Ireland in 1923, the rooms are smaller, more reliant on artificial light.
One could almost imagine it as going through a tunnel, a long series of chapters in the storied history of Ireland.
Seonac held the door open as the others stepped through, leaving the last of the sections enclosed in this smaller type of space.
Now, they opened up into a more open, more naturally-lit area. Large glass windows let the sunlight flood in, giving a very different feel to the latter exhibits.
For it was here, the home of the last three sections of the exhibition, which were set in the time of the modern Irish State.
Steps led down to the exhibits proper - which, in keeping with the official policy of the Irish government, now had Irish above English for its descriptive entries - but none of the five were in a rush to head down just yet.
"Interesting..." Saber's eyes lit up as she looked to the two items held from cabled running up to the ceiling, hovering over the main area of the gallery proper.
"Which one do you like better, Saber-san?" Sakura asked, as she stepped over to the balcony beside her.
Immediately, Saber pointed to the more distant craft. "That one!"
That one was a de Havilland Vampire T55
. Used for a time as a training aircraft by the Irish Air Corps, the sleek silver craft hung proudly above a section where two armoured vehicles which had been used at different times on UN peacekeeping operations.
Although, for some reason, it almost looked like one of the green-white-orange roundel on the bottom of one of the wings seemed like it was slowly peeling off..
In comparison, the propeller-driven Miles Magister seemed somewhat more modest, but was no less important a factor in the IAC's heritage.
"Just so you know," Seonac said over to Saber, jokingly, "while you'd probably be able to jump over on to that thing, it might not be wise to try and see if you can fly it!"
She turned to him and showed a very telling smile. "Be careful what kind of suggestions you make, Seonac."
While Saber had perhaps appreciated the military exhibit the most - though Shirou couldn't help but picture what it might be like to Trace some of the various swords on display - the next place the quntet tried out was far more up Rin's alley.
The Chester Beatty Library
, snuggled in a building set in the gardens to the side of Dublin Castle, was Seonac's favourite place to go in Dublin, and Rin had taken a major shine to it when she had seen in in her first trip to Dublin back in 2006.
Its permanent exhibits were on two floors, one above the other. Each echoed the layout of the other, with a section detailing European works to the left, South and East Asian items to the right, and the arts of the Islamic world in the centre.
Magnificent examples of the Qu'ran rest near to wall-mounted mandalas from India and Tibet, while samples of Persian, Mughal, Ottoman and other calligraphy rest near to jade carvings dating form the Qing Dynasty.
On the roof sat a peaceful rock garden, where one could try to find a moment of peace, or maybe look out onto the grounds of what had once been the Royal residence in Ireland.
Also, various temporary exhibits were set up in a separate section, where items from around the world would be displayed.
Not least of which was the Codex Leicester, shown from 13 June to 12 August 2007... penned by the hand of no less a man than Leonardo da Vinci himself.
For those able to visit this place, and the museum at Collins Barracks for that matter, it was a true delight to be able to see these wonders for free... though donations were always welcome, of course.
"Look at that..." Rin had a hand carefully placed on the glass between herself and the exhibit she was poring over.
The others wondered what was so fascinating about lumps of lapis lazuli and other such minerals, when all sorts of other works surrounded them. "What is it you like about this section, nee-san?" Sakura asked, curiously.
"Well, Sakura," Rin replied, though not shifting her gaze one millimetre, "while I like seeing some of the items here - not least when it comes to trying to sense any kind of aura from them - none of them would be possible without the kind of building blocks you see here."
"These rare materials have a power of their own. They lie there, waiting to be shaped and moulded, to be given form and expression - yet speak to me even now, as they are." Mineralogy was something that came easily to her, and even items she wouldn't try and spend time each day charging held a certain fascination for her.
Sakura might have shared much heritage-wise with her older sister, but this was not a part of that. Even so, hearing how she spoke of it was an inspiration in and of itself. "When I look at one of the finished works here, I will bear your words in mind, nee-san
"Come on then," Shirou added, "weve still got more to see!"
Later on, after their tour took them from the CBL to the cobbled streets of Temple Bar, and down past Westmoreland Street and across the bridge, the five found themselves standing in front of a certain monument at the southern end of arguably the most famous thoroughfare in the country.
The legacy of the Liberator lived on every day in the heart of Dublin. Here on Ã“'Connell Street, which had been at the forefront of Irish history on more than one occasion, facing towards Ã“'Connell Bridge leading over to the southside, stood a statue
of Daniel Ã“'Connell... who might have been surprised at the tall, thin metal structure rising from the ground behind him.
"That thing is crooked, you know," Rin pointed out, referring to the Spire of Dublin - the metal monument which now stood at the site of what had once been Nelson's Pillar. When one stands at its base and looks up, it looks to be swaying slightly to one side, though it's not noticeable when one stands further away.
"To be honest, the most crooked thing about that spire is that you can't go up it." When Nelson's Pillar had been there, one could go up and look over the city from a raised position. Nowadays, a smokestack at Smithfield has been converted into a viewing platform, but it wasn't the same.
"So, will we go and see the Spire more closely now, itoshii
?" Sakura asked. There were other sites one could see nearby, too - not least the prominent General Post Office. Although, Seonac couldn't remember if the CÃº Chulainn statue usually found there had been sent on loan to Belfast or not.
He couldn't help but wonder what the others would think of that.
But there was another matter to settle, before they continued.
This was the last day of normality that the five would go through before the final preparations were made. After this, none of them know how long it would be, if ever, that they could spend time like this again.
"There's something I'd like to do first, if it's okay," he responded.
The four agreed, and Seonac took Sakura's hand, standing with her beneath the statue's silent gaze.
"Sakura," he began, "as far as my family is concerned, the Liberator is one of our own - and even if he was not a blood relative, his example is one which generations of Ã“'Conaills have followed... and still do."
"I believe he would be proud of you, itoshii
," Sakura assured him.
"I hope so," Seonac answered, "and if there's any part of him out there, I hope he doesn't mind my choosing this place to do the following:"
Taking a small box out of his pocket, he knelt before Sakura and bowed his head. "Even in the days of dowries and match-makers, my family never agreed to such means of forming a lasting union. We take pride on never settling for anything less than the truest, most heartfelt reasons, when it comes to passing on this."
He held the box before her, and she gasped as she saw the intricately-carved emerald ring resting within. She could almost feel the provenance within, the generations' worth of feelings that had been imbued within.
"This ring has been in my family for a long time. Indeed, rumour has it that Daniel himself once held it, and passed it on with his goodwill." He looked up, and met her eyes, knowing that whatever her answer, these were the words he wanted to say.
"And so, I offer this to you, Sakura, because I love you, and I want to be with you for the rest of our days... and to entrust you with passing it on when the time comes."
..." Sakura was welling up, waiting to burst into joy at any moment.
She would not have to wait long. "Sakura... will you marry me?"
"Yes!" she affirmed at once, jumping over to hold him, in front of the eminently pleased trio watching this special moment - and the odd 'ye-hoo' and 'go on ya good thing!' from passers-by taking the chance to join in.
After Sakura carefully slid the ring onto her finger, Seonac turned and winked at Shirou. "So, my good man, do you have any plans I should be privy to?"
Shirou's cheeks turned as red as his hair, and they all burst out laughing.