Then it began. First quietly, then louder and louder, from the depths of the sea a shrill and piercing singing was heard. At first it was faint like a whisper and then it grew stronger and stronger, heard not through the ears, but through the soul. From the deep black sea came a choir of Seloth. Graceful, flowing, feminine creatures that sang and swirled around the ship, woken from their sleep by the call of the priest.
Through the rigging, the sails and ropes, they swept around and around, singing louder and louder. Their sea-green hair trailed out behind them, long and billowing; their sightless eyes stared into the darkening night.
From behind the stone Beadle could hear their voices as they chanted and sang over and over again in ever more frightening tones. Beadle was too scared to look out from the safety of his hiding place and covered his ears, trying to stop the singing of the Seloth from driving him mad.
"What are they singing? It's piercing my brain like a hot knife. Tell them to stop."
Beadle pushed his face into a pile of damp seaweed, hoping to hide himself in its depths.
"It is the song of the deep. They are calling the dead to come to the feast. The Seloth will not stop until the ship is broken on the rocks. They want a sacrifice, not mercy," Demurral shouted above the wind and the waves, his eyes devouring the spectacle set before him. As they sang, the sea whipped higher and higher. Waves washed back and forth against the cliffs of Baytown, three miles to the north. Thick black clouds grew in the night sky and lightning exploded into the swell.
As the storm grew, the fishing boats anchored in the bay were dashed against the rocks that jutted out of the surf below the high cliff. The slipway of the town was awash; high into the main street the waves beat against the doors of the houses like the fists of the press-gang searching for menfolk to drag off to sea.
As the sea smashed against the steep rock, the cliff suddenly gave way and tons of mud and rock fell into the raging water. With the pounding of the storm the houses and shops of King Street crumbled and tumbled into the sea. As the buildings slid and toppled into the maelstrom, men, women and children were thrown from their sleep. In the dark of the night they cried out to be saved, but their screams for mercy could not be heard over the terrible thundering of the German Ocean.
Wisps of grey and blue fire broke through the swelling surf. Ghostly figures like giant white horses leapt from the waves that began to crash upon the shore.
The sky grew darker and darker and the full moon was blotted out by thick black cloud as streaks of lightning flashed from sky to sea, exploding in the water. A lightning sword hit the ship. The mainsail cracked, then crashed to the deck, sending startled crewmen bolting from their hammocks.
As they rushed on deck, another sail crashed down, splitting the deck in half and sending shafts of splintered wood into the air. The ship lifted and dropped with each wave; a crewman was thrown through the air and into the cold sea, never to be seen again.
"A direct hit," shouted Demurral, laughing and rubbing his hands together in glee at the sight. "One more strike and the Keruvim will be mine."
He raised the statue into the air and chanted more magic. "Wind, hail, lightning, thunder and wave." The sea rose at his command, each surge growing higher and higher. Breakers like black fists smashed against the ship, almost engulfing the vessel.
On the ship, the captain shouted to the crew: "Tie on. Tie on. We'll run for the beach. It's the only chance we have." He spun the ship's wheel and the brig lurched towards the shore.
The first mate struggled through the waves breaking on the deck. He grappled with the broken rigging, pulled himself along the deck to the rear hatch and pushed it open. He looked down into the darkness. There, staring back at him was a young man with dark skin and bright white eyes.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...