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Leaina and the Stone of Power
The Stone Revealed
|The Queen applied some special ointments to Maciste�s wounds and he was soon healed. She held the stone up and looked at it carefully. She could not feel any magic within it. It seemed like an ordinary stone to her. But where did it come from and what did it do? She listened carefully as Maciste and Therapon recounted their stories. She said some spells over the stone but it did not respond to her. She wanted to understand its magic and wanted that magic to be hers. But she realized her magic was not working on the stone and she decided if she could not have it, she would destroy it. �Come, Maciste. Let�s go to my blacksmith.�
The Queen and Maciste then went to the palace�s blacksmith, Cletus. She handed him the stone and said. �I want you to crack this rock into a thousand pieces.� Cletus looked at the stone and smiled, �As you wish, your highness.� He placed the stone on a small granite table he had and took a chisel and his iron hammer. He placed the chisel on the stone and raised his hammer high. Now Cletus was a very large and strong man. He stood 6�4� and weighed some 300 pounds. He was to many a small giant. Though his body lacked muscular definition, there was no doubt there was great upper body strength under his flabby skin. He swung the hammer down hard on the chisel and a loud clang was heard. The Queen and Maciste covered their eyes for fear of being hit with debris. When they opened them, they saw the stone still there in one piece. Cletus looked surprised but just lifted his hammer again for another blow. Clang again. But no debris and not even a scratch on the stone. Cletus examined the stone and said to the Queen, �What trickery is this? Is this some test of yours, your highness?� The Queen assured him it was not and Cletus tried even harder again and except for a small amount of dust that came off the stone his efforts were ineffectual. This time last time though, he injured his shoulder as the force bounced back from the stone and traveled up his arm. �I cannot break this,� he lamented to the Queen as he dropped his hammer and wretched in pain.
�Let me try with something heavier,� said Maciste. Maciste moved the stone to an anvil and picked up one of Cletus�s heavy iron sledge hammers and swung it down hard on the stone with all his might. The others looked away expecting a shattering. However, instead of the stone shattering or even cracking, again only a small amount of dust came off the stone and the head of the sledge hammer dented and the wooden handle snapped in two, sparing Maciste injury. The Queen groaned and Cletus picked up the stone and said, �Let me try my furnace.� He carried the stone to his coal furnace and threw it inside and closed the door. �Maybe it can melt it or soften it.� As they waited, the Queen directed Cletus to collect the dust from the stone. It amounted to less than a half teaspoon and she kept it. After an hour, Cletus pulled the stone from his furnace. It was very warm but not hot as he expected and it was as hard as ever.
�This is a failure,� concluded the Queen. �But I have one more idea. We are going to see an old friend of mine.� She took the stone and she, Therapon and Maciste traveled for two days to the cave of the hermit-witch Lestra. The Queen greeted Lestra warmly cause she needed her help. Lestra simply grumbled at her and said, �You come for something Leaina, now what is it?� �I need your help with this!� and the Queen pulled the stone from the bag that Maciste was carrying. Lestra peered at the stone and held it in her hand. �Now tell me what you know about this,� she said. The Queen told Lestra of her vision and of the attempt to kill Arkus. Lestra began to laugh. �You really do not know what you are up against, do you? And you think your muscle friend here is going to protect you against this stone?� Lestra laughed even more. Maciste gritted his teeth as he wanted to strike the old witch but he resisted. Lestra sensed Maciste�s anger. �What is it you want Lestra to help me?� asked Leaina. Lestra looked at the Queen in her fine robes and said �You have become both impressive in magic and in wealth, Leaina, but I have need for neither. Though I am already several hundred years old, I am not immortal and my body slowly fails me. I am in need of an apprentice who will care for me and replace me if she can. I need a first born female child to call my own. You can give me one from your kingdom.� The Queen thought and then said �Yes, I will arrange that if you will help me.� Lestra then looked at them and explained the story of the stones of power to them. �This stone is bound to the one you call Arkus. Its magic supplies his strength which is why your champion will never defeat him.� �How can I make this stone bound to Maciste instead of Arkus?� asked the Queen. Lestra stared at the stone and held it to her head. �Only the stone knows if this is possible and it is beyond my craft,� sighed Lestra. �Well how can I make Maciste stronger than Arkus?� asked Leaina. �Find another stone of power stronger than this one,� snapped the witch. The Queen sat down frustrated at these answers. �There has be a way to destroy this stone as you said many of them were destroyed in the Great Wizard Wars,� said Maciste. �Well, there is,� said Lestra. �The stone was shaped from liquid rock and it will be destroyed on its return to it.� �We have tried melting the stone,� answered Maciste, �and it did not work.� �No,� interrupted Leaina. �I now know what to do! Come, we must return to the palace!� she shouted to Maciste. The Queen grabbed the stone and the two left quickly. �And fulfill your promise to me,� yelled Lestra as they rode off.
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