The Druid Stone
Simon Majors | Paperback Library | 1967 | 157 Pages
Ugony MacArt and his sister Moira, students of the arcane Black Arts, have set up house in a small New England village to pursue their occult research. They recruit Brian Creoghan, a man Ugony met briefly in Hong Kong some years before, to assist them in their experiments. Brian is a great world adventurer with the following list of (rattled off, and completely unconvincing) accomplishments:
-danced the Gran’ Zombie on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain
-fought leopard men in Nigeria
-listened to the talking head of a dead brujo in Ecuador
-watched a man afflicted with the evil eye bring disaster to an Italian village
-attended a black mass in a French monastery
-leaped around a stone circle in a ritual with a coven of witches in England
-found a bed of black pearls with hoomanamana priests in Hawaii
More importantly, Brian possesses an innate ability for astral projection, which the MacArts wish to exploit through the use of their artifact, the Druid Stone. When used by a person gifted with sympathetic occult powers, this unassuming sandstone boulder triggers the machinery of the universe to change gears, transporting the user to another plane of existence.
The literal machinery of the universe:
The great machine on the rim of the universe hummed in a steady pulsing. The temporary generator fed power back and forth along the unguessable billions of relay units that were its integral parts. There was no suspicion that its capacity was being stretched beyond safe limits. But deep inside its titanic motor, a governor had burned out during the in-load of power and had not yet been detected.
Ugony theorizes that most of the world’s folklore, from the Greeks to the Garden of Eden to Gilgamesh, stems from encounters through this inter-dimensional portal, a gateway he is unable to activate himself. However, Brian needs little convincing to join the experiment (already having danced around a stone circle with a dead brujo in a witches coven of leopard men, or something like that). After placing his hands on the stone, he passes out in a wash of blue light, but his consciousness re-awakens inside the body of Kalgorrn—a warrior in the land of Dis. He meets a witch named Red Fann, who informs him of their current plight in this new world of not-Earth:
“Thasaikor—or his sorcerors—will soon enough discover that the spell of Afgorkon has been broken,” she told him. “He will send his servants to search for us. So we must ride to Wynthane wood for the sword Shadowmaker, that was forged by the dwarf Grom from the sky-metal that fell in Dis long ago.”
The fantasy passages suffer from the acute suspicion that the names, places, and people cited are all, in fact, made up.
The Druid Stone switches back-and-forth between Earth and Dis, as Brian/Kalgorrn struggles to shut the link between the dimensions and ultimately save Earth from an extra-dimensional invasion. Rather than being the wellspring of great human myth, Dis exhibits all the base fantasy tropes of a cheap sword-and-sorcery tale. Meanwhile on Earth, the townspeople blame the death of a child on the spooky goings-on at the MacArts house, and plan for a fiery retribution. All will converge on a fateful All Hallows Eve—because, Halloween.
Eventually, as the machinery of the universe creaks under the strain of the inter-dimensional transport afforded by the Druid Stone (the titular device), the staggering amount of hokum transmitted through the pages of The Druid Stone (the book) overloads the carrying capacity of the reader.