Neal had asked Alex in the cave if he remembered the day they had met the Pitneys.  While it was a dim memory from some fourteen years before, to me that time is like the passing of a moment, so I remember it clearly.  They met on a fine summer day just after school had let out for vacation.  There were seven of them, gathered in the front yard in front of the old farmhouse.  Seven young boys who had destinies that would be bound together to bring about great works for God.  It was a good moment, the sun was high and bright, a golden blessing on their faces as they stared at one another, each taking the measure of the others.

            The oldest of them was Neal Osborne, who was eight.  He had long blond hair that was always tousled, and dark brown eyes.  Owen Truman stood beside him, a funny, quick-witted redhead who had been in Neal’s class at school.  They had been close friends since kindergarten, spending nearly every day together.  While Neal looked at everyone seriously and slowly, Owen’s eyes danced merrily while he wondered why they were all here.

            Alexander Rothrock stood on the other side of Neal.  This was Neal’s energetic, brown-haired cousin, who was staying with him this summer.  Jason Shelagh was a meek, skinny boy with short blond hair, Alex’s step-brother.  Their parents had married when he was very small, so he practically worshipped his out-going older step-brother, following him everywhere. 

             Evan Kimball was a friendly boy, always eager to help others and had a very generous nature.  He stared out from under the curls of hair that kept falling in his eyes. He pushed his hair aside with one hand, only to have it fall back a moment later.

            Beside him was Daniel Calhoun from school, the dreaded Miss Montgomery’s first grade class that they had thankfully graduated from the week before.  Daniel’s hair was short and black, and he and Evan were equally curious as to why they were here with these boys from grade two.  For an answer, they turned to the boy that had brought them all here.

            This boy was Ethan Keaton Pitney, the blue-eyed child prodigy in Miss Montgomery’s class.  He always had the right answer, no matter what the question.  He also had the annoying habit of asking the teacher questions that she couldn’t answer for him, so he was often picked on in the schoolyard for being a brain.  As a result he was a very quiet lad, but had found the courage to ask Daniel and Evan to come today to his house with whomever they could convince to bring along.  Evan had invited Neal, who went to his church, and the rest followed.

            Ethan looked at everyone in turn.  Despite his seemingly meek exterior body language there was a quiet strength in his cool blue eyes.  “I talked to Evan about this at school, a little, but you’re probably still pretty curious.”

            “I’ll say.”  Alex said, “Are you going to tell us, or just keep dragging it out?”

            “I’m sorry, I was getting to it.”  His answer was actually contrite, as if he expected a rebuke for speaking, “I just had this idea, for a game…”

            “What kind of game?”  Owen asked, who was always eager for amusement of any kind.

            “You were telling me about it at school,” Evan said, “It sounded cool.  Knights, you said?”

            “That’s right,” Ethan said, nervous to be questioned from all sides like this. “I thought that it would be fun…  Let me show you.”  Ethan beckoned, and they followed him from his grandparents’ house to their barn across the dusty road.  He and his sister were staying here for the summer with his mother’s parents, while their parents went on vacation in Europe.  That was another thing that had inspired this game:  they had sent him pictures of the castles in Ireland and Scotland.

            The old barn smelled of the cows that stayed there in winter, now grazing out in Ethan’s grandfather’s fields.  The fields seemed well suited for the adventures of questing knights.  There were wide, open spaces, golden fields of long grass and hay, small wooded copses and ponds, and hills to create valleys that seemed like separate little worlds. 

            Ethan led them into the yard behind the barn, where there was a large grey rock sitting in the centre.  In the large stone was a sword.  The boys stared at the sword in the stone in amazement, the bright sun above made it seem like the blade was glowing.

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