AFTERNOON WITH AN ARCHEOLOGIST

CHAPTER ONE

Jack and Annie had not gone on a Magic Treehouse adventure for many years. In fact, Jack was now nineteen years old and at college. His younger sister Annie was eighteen and still in high school. For a long time, neither had seen the Treehouse or even heard anything from Merlin, Morgan Le Fay, or the two young enchanters Teddy and Kathleen. Sometimes Jack even wondered if it has all been a dream and never really happened.

One warm summer early morning, Jack was home from college and was sleeping in his old room. It was about five-thirty and the sun was just creeping up on the horizon. Suddenly, he was awoken and found Annie standing over him, tapping him on the shoulder.

"Jack, wake up," she said insistently.

Reaching for his glasses on the nightstand, he turned to her and said "What? What is it?"

"The Treehouse, " she exclaimed, "It's back!"

"The Treehouse?" he asked shocked. "Really?"

"Yes," Annie said again, "It's out there in the wood. I just know it."

Annie ran out of the room and got dressed in her bedroom. Jack put on his clothes, and reached into his closet and pulled out his old backpack. He had to take a moment to widen the straps as they were still as long as they were when he was a boy. Finally getting it on, he joined Annie as they both crept out of their parent's house and made their way down to the Frog Creek woods.

As they neared the old oak tree, Jack and Annie saw the Treehouse perched on a tall limb, just as it had been when they were kids. The rope-ladder still swung from it. Neither appeared any older than they both remembered them. They climbed up and crawled inside. Being teenagers, the Treehouse was a bit more cramped than it had been before.

"Look, Jack!" Annie called, pointing at a silver envelope laying on the floor. On the front in bold flourished handwriting it said "To Jack and Annie". They both recognized it as Merlin's handwriting. Jack quickly tore open the envelope and read it aloud.

Dear Jack and Annie,

I know it has been a long time, in your world, since I last sent you on an adventure, but I need your help desperately. A magical ring, called the 'Ring of Guinevere', is needed to save Camelot and our magical world. Your adventurous and noble spirit will help you find it in a dark time in the history of Europe. Here is a rhyme to help you in your quest-

Stolen long ago, from Britain's noble shore,

Hidden by Norsemen, behind a rocky door,

But there are three traps you have to steer clear,

To obtain the Ring of Guinevere.

To defeat the first, a traveler goes,

On an antipodal walk in the dark shadows.

The second needs a swing from Nature's chalk,

From the mouth of the man who cannot talk.

To avoid the third, state the maker's name,

To tell which rings are not the same.

Good Luck,

Merlin

Jack and Annie stared at each other.

"What does that mean?" Jack asked.

"I don't know," Annie replied, "I guess we'll find out when we get there."

"But where?" Jack asked, "Merlin says a 'dark time in the history of Europe'. Sounds like the Middle Ages."

"Look, Jack" Annie pointed to the bookshelf.

There were only two books on the Treehouse shelf. One was the book on Pennsylvania, which always brought them home. The other was a book wasn't a book at all. It was a magazine, called "LIFE". The date on it said "March 1939". One page was folded down inside. Opening it, they find an article on British ancient sites. There was a large photograph. It showed a small hill, with many tall, rectangular stones arranged in a circle on top of it. Jack and Annie both recognized it….Stonehenge. The ancient monument in England.

"Ready?" asked Annie.

Jack gulped. It had been a long time. "Uh, I guess so."

Annie pointed to the picture of Stonehenge and said aloud. "I wish we could go there!"

The wind started to blow. The Treehouse started to spin. It spun faster and faster. Then everything was still. Absolutely still.